Orders of the Day — Education Bill

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 11 November 1996.

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Order for Second Reading read.

Madam Speaker:

I have selected the amendment standing in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I must tell the House that between the hours of 7 pm and 9 pm speeches will be limited to 10 minutes.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment 4:24, 11 November 1996

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

This Education Bill is the latest in a succession of education Bills that have, over the past 17 years, transformed our education system.

The Bill will continue the drive for reform, by carrying forward the basic principles in which we believe—principles that we have applied consistently in our efforts to raise standards in schools.

The first and foremost of those principles is the right of parents to choose the education that they want for their children, and to be able to choose, wherever possible, from a wide range of different types of good schools. That choice and the diversity of schools that we have promoted have been the strength of Conservative policies since 1979. The Bill will enhance them further.

Choice was at the heart of the Education Act 1980. Since then, all our measures have enhanced that choice: through the assisted places scheme; city technology colleges; grant-maintained schools and specialist schools. We have made it easier for schools to introduce an element of selection and have consistently supported Church schools and grammar schools for the choice that they offer parents.

Members of the Labour party have consistently opposed those measures to increase choice and diversity. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) made his intentions clear. We must reject selection—[Office Report, 29 October 1996; Vol. 284, c. 461.] he said, only two weeks ago in the House.

Let us think what that would mean. It would mean the destruction of excellence in grammar schools like those, for example, in Trafford which achieve some of the best A-level results in the country, and which the Labour local education authority has already announced its intention to destroy. The hon. Gentleman intends to destroy excellence in grant-maintained schools—schools such as Parkstone grammar school for girls, in Dorset, and Reading school, where, last year, 100 per cent. of the pupils achieved five or more good GCSEs. For good measure, he intends, in an unprecedented move, to make Church schools subservient to local education authorities—an announcement blithely made with no previous consultation with the Churches. Such schools include Cardinal Vaughan school in Kensington and Lady Margaret school in Fulham—both beacons of excellence.

If that desire to destroy excellence—that vandalism—seems familiar to some hon. Members present, let me remind them that it was last enunciated by the late Anthony Crosland, who expressed his determination to get rid of "every grammar school" in the land. New Labour—same old vandalism.

At the very least, the hon. Member for Brightside intends to limit parents' choice to schools in their own LEA. Did he not make the now famous assertion: I am having no truck with middle-class, left-wing parents who preach one thing and send their children outside the area"? Perhaps we should have sympathy for the hon. Gentleman. It is, after all, his rather thankless task to express the deep division and fundamental contradiction that lies at the heart of Labour policy. Look at the diversity exhibited by leading Labour Members in their choice of school: a grant-maintained school for the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair); a grammar school for the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman); selection for the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle); selective grant-maintained grammar schools for the hon. Member for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright); and crossing the LEA boundary for the hon. Members for Barking (Ms Hodge) and for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). I wonder whether they were the "middle-class left-wing parents" to whom the hon. Member for Brightside referred.

This is Labour Members' policy: choice and diversity for their children, but denial of those choices and opportunities to everyone else's children.

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon Mrs Alice Mahon , Halifax

The Secretary of State talks about choice, but the parents of the children attending the Ridings school had little choice. The local Conservative education spokesman, Councillor John Ford, has now admitted responsibility for pushing through the merger of the two schools that created the Ridings in the face of opposition from the Labour group. He criticised the Minister for delaying the merger, which damaged the school. Will the Secretary of State shoulder some of the blame, by admitting that the highly selective system that is operated in Halifax—and which is supported in the Education Bill—has caused much damage? Everyone else has admitted responsibility—what about the right hon. Lady?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I wonder whether the hon. Lady has bothered to read the inspector's report on the Ridings school. I also wonder whether she heard the chief education officer, who said: The LEA has failed the school. The clear message from the inspectors of the Ridings school was that the school had weak leadership and management, the governors had not fulfilled their statutory responsibility and the LEA had failed the school. I hope that the hon. Lady has read the inspector's report.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

If there are education black spots, should we not remind the people that the Labour party is responsible for creating and running them? No Government have ever run a school. The local education authorities with the worst examination results are controlled by Labour. The Labour party should apologise to the people for the damage that it has inflicted on countless generations of our country's children.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Colleagues of Labour Members control nine out of 10 of the local education authorities with the worst examination results in the land. Labour Members have opposed all measures to raise standards which have gone through the House, including the setting up of the Office for Standards in Education and the inspectorate. That is a matter of great regret, and should be a matter of shame for them.

The Government intend to go further in widening choice for all parents. Parents want choice, and schools can extend choice by developing their particular strengths.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

When my right hon. Friend talks about choice, does she deplore, as I do, the attitude of the Liberal Democrat-controlled Devon local education authority? It manipulates its school transport policy to ensure that, in rural areas, the only people who can have their children educated at the school of their choice are those who can afford it. Is that what the Liberal Democrats mean by choice?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Probably. We observe something of the same in Essex.

We believe that schools can extend choice by developing their strengths, whether in teaching particular subjects or in teaching particular pupils. That improves the match between what parents want and what schools offer. It taps into the interest and the commitment of pupils, parents and teachers. It gives each school something special in which it can take pride.

Photo of Michael Clapham Michael Clapham , Barnsley West and Penistone

The Secretary of State will be aware of the Gallup poll carried out this year, which showed that 77 per cent. of the parents interviewed did not want selection. How can she say that that is what parents want?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I am also aware of a poll conducted for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which found that the majority of parents were in favour of selection.

Through the Bill, we want to give schools greater freedom to introduce or extend selection and specialisation. I must emphasise that we are giving schools the choice: no school will be obliged to adopt selection.

Photo of Mr John Gunnell Mr John Gunnell , Leeds South and Morley

Will the Secretary of State tell us how she has explained the Bill to her friends at Westminster, who believe that, as a result, there will be fewer, not more, satisfied parents? Have they misunderstood the Bill, or does the Secretary of State have something further to tell us about it?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman. As I said, we are giving schools the choice: no school will be obliged to adopt selection. Many parents, however, want to send their children to selective schools. Existing grammar schools often have around four applications for every place that they offer, and demand is not confined to the few areas with grammar schools. As I said, a recent survey carried out for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers showed that the majority of parents favoured selection.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

The right hon. Lady has considerable experience of education—as do I, and as do some of my hon. Friends. Does she not accept that a system of selection is also a system that places labels on the children who are not selected? As she will recall, children live up to the labels that are placed on them. If a large number of children are labelled unsatisfactory, unsuitable or unintelligent, they will act in that manner. We shall then have far more sink schools in Britain, and the country will pay a bitter price.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

The hon. Gentleman has come in on cue. Opposition Members are bound to start hurling allegations to the effect that we want grammar schools for the few and secondary moderns for the rest—but that, of course, is nonsense.

We are not in the business of imposing two types of school. We have spent the past 17 years introducing a broader diversity than that into the education system. Indeed, the notion of the imposition of two types of school is almost as far from true diversity as is the imposition of just one type of school—which is, of course, the policy of Opposition Members.

Photo of Mr Mark Robinson Mr Mark Robinson , Somerton and Frome

Is not the nub of the issue the fact that we want to give parents the widest possible choice? Is that not what parents want, and is that not evidenced by the parents on the Opposition Benches who exercise the choice?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

It is certainly true that our education policies are popular with some Opposition Members.

We support grammar schools, because they can provide an excellent education geared to stretching the most able. Good for them. Yes, we should like to see more of them, if that is what parents want. Many European countries with highly regarded education systems—including Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland—have selective secondary schools. Why should we deny our children the same opportunities?

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The Secretary of State has said a good deal about the importance of giving greater opportunities for parental choice. Can she explain, in simple terms, how increased selection will achieve that? In fact, increased selection means that it is the schools that select the pupils, rather than parents selecting the schools for their children.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I have already explained that we do not intend to impose, for example, a dual system. Schools will be given the opportunity, if they wish, to build on their own strengths and to increase the diversity that already exists in the current system.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , South Staffordshire

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, for several decades, educational development has been bedevilled by Opposition Members' refusal to accept that children have different aptitudes and abilities and, as a result, need different treatment?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

That appears to be the view of some Opposition Members, but it is certainly not the view of all of them. Many excellent schools are not grammar schools. We welcome all types of school; the only uniformity on which we insist is that they should all provide, in their different ways, a good education for their pupils—as my hon. Friend says.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

When the Secretary of State introduced a Bill to allow schools to opt out of local authority control, she allowed parents to have a referendum. Given that it is the children who are now in primary schools who will be affected by selection, does she propose to allow parents of children at primary schools that feed into schools that opt for selection to have a referendum? Does she not realise that that will lead to the same sort of result as the previous referendum, which proved to be a disaster for Government policy?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

The hon. Gentleman says that the introduction of grant-maintained schools was a disaster. He should look at the league tables for the results. Of course, schools that wish to change their admission arrangements will be required to consult and there will be guidance because, obviously, that is essential.

Opposition Members say that as soon as one school becomes selective, its neighbouring schools will become second rate or even sink schools. They should look at what is happening in areas such as Bexley and Buckinghamshire, which have a high proportion of their pupils in grammar schools and where the rate of improvement in GCSE results in the non-selective schools has been faster than the national average.

Opposition Members are ready to make excuses for poor schools and no doubt we shall hear more about that in the debate, but as the chief inspector of schools has said, the most successful secondary schools achieve GCSE results six times as good as the worst performers in similar circumstances. Sadly for Opposition Members, most of those poor performers are in LEAs where Labour has long held sway. Labour's distaste for excellence and high standards is shown also, alas, in its voting record in the House.

We know that if one school changes, its neighbours do not just stand by and watch. They all ask themselves what they can offer to local parents as their distinctive identity and special strength, to ensure that they succeed. Competition between schools is a powerful lever for raising standards.

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid

My right hon. Friend will be aware that before our reforms no school was required to produce an annual report. My experience in Kent is that schools found that as they had to prepare an annual report, they questioned the basis of their teaching, co-operation among departments and their principal selling points. The result has been a marked improvement in quality.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

As my hon. Friend rightly says, the accountability of schools and of the system has been one of the keystones on which we have built all our policies. The Bill encourages and helps schools to respond to parental demand in several ways.

First, the Bill sets thresholds for the percentage of pupils whom school admission authorities may select by ability or aptitude without having to seek central approval. They are 50 per cent. for grant-maintained secondary schools, 30 per cent. for LEA specialist schools in their specialist subjects, and 20 per cent. for other schools.

Secondly, the Bill requires the governing bodies of secondary schools to review annually whether to introduce or extend selection as part of their plan for raising standards and improving service to local parents. No school will be obliged to introduce selection, but every school should consider the issue and report its conclusions to parents.

Thirdly, the Bill gives governors of LEA secondary schools that wish to become fully selective the right to publish their own statutory proposals for central approval if they are blocked by the LEA. Similarly, LEA technology colleges and language colleges, and in future sports and arts colleges, will have a right of appeal against a hostile LEA if they want to use their new freedom to select.

Fourthly, the Funding Agency for Schools will be able to propose setting up new grant-maintained schools in any LEA area and it will be able to pay grant to the promoters of new grant-maintained schools to help them prepare development plans.

Fifthly, the Bill extends the scope of the assisted places scheme as a further enhancement of choice for parents. In future, the scheme will cover independent schools that provide only primary education.

Henry Ford offered customers any colour of car they wanted—as long as it was black. Labour offers parents any type of school they want—as long as it is the local comprehensive. The selection and diversity measures in the Bill will help schools to develop their own special strengths and provide what parents want, which is a good education that suits the individual talents, interests and needs of their children.

As I said, we are committed to the principle of choice and diversity. But we are also committed to the principles of holding schools accountable for what they do, while at the same time giving them maximum freedom and independence in making their own decisions. It is no coincidence that some of the highest standards are to be found where those principles have been taken furthest—that is, in grant-maintained schools.

The grant-maintained programme has been a great success. There are now more than 1,100 grant-maintained schools and they are achieving good results. Fourteen out of the top 32 schools identified by Ofsted are grant-maintained. That is because grant-maintained status gives schools the sense that they, and they alone, are responsible for what they do. They sense that it is now their show and that they have the power to determine their own future. That is central to raising standards, because it unlocks energy, initiative and commitment.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe , Bradford South

Grant-maintained schools got a financial incentive. How can schools compete, such as those in Bradford that were not grant-maintained and which need capital to raise standards, when the Government will not give Bradford and other such cities the money to repair schools that are falling down and which have crumbling roofs? Why are the Government not prepared to raise standards by supporting those schools?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Grant-maintained schools have the funds that they need to run themselves and are independent of their local councils. Of course, it is open to any school in the land to apply for grant-maintained status and the advantages that that brings.

Grant-maintained schools have earned our trust. They know their pupils, their parents and their communities. Unlike Opposition Members, we are prepared to trust them to make their own decisions about how they should develop in response to local needs. In addition to granting the power to select more of their pupils, the Bill enables grant-maintained schools to add nursery classes, sixth forms and boarding facilities and to expand by up to 50 per cent. without central approval.

Photo of Mr Jack Thompson Mr Jack Thompson , Wansbeck

How does the Secretary of State square that argument with what has happened in Northumberland, where one school has gone grant-maintained—it was conned into doing that—and where one primary school is apparently now going grant-maintained because there is a threat of closure? That is the only reason why parents accepted the move to the school becoming grant-maintained. The people of Northumberland have more sense than the Secretary of State gives them credit for.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I am delighted that there are some successful applications for grant-maintained status in Northumberland. I wish them well, apparently unlike the hon. Gentleman.

The Bill requires grant-maintained schools to consult locally and to notify those concerned. It contains safeguards to ensure that, should any problems arise, they can be tackled. Overall, the Bill aims to make grant-maintained schools feel that they have the freedom to get on and make the changes that they want to make in the interests of their pupils and their communities.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge , Barking

If the Secretary of State is so keen for schools to have increased control over their own affairs, why did she drop the proposal to increase the delegation of budgets to all schools?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

As I have explained several times in the House—it is a matter of public record—I did that mostly because it would have been unfair to local education authorities that were planning their budgets to introduce the changes without sufficient consultation. That is why we are limiting ourselves to the Bill's provisions. Work on the White Paper proposals is being carried forward.

Opposition hostility to grant-maintained schools is clear. It is extraordinary that they complain that the system is unfair when it is open to any school to apply. All can and many more would but for Labour's hostility. Happily, grant-maintained schools have their champions among Opposition Members, not the least of whom is the Leader of the Opposition. It is curious that he has so little influence on the stated policy of his party. No school, whatever its status, can achieve high standards of education unless it can first achieve high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline.

Photo of Mr Donald Thompson Mr Donald Thompson , Calder Valley

My right hon. Friend was asked to apologise for one school and fully answered that request. She will know, as I do, that the new headmaster and his deputy will pull that school out of the fire and restore it, phoenix-like. Other schools under that LEA are local authority, grant-maintained and Church-aided, both by the Church of England and by the Roman Catholic Church, and they have remarkably good records. My right hon. Friend should take credit for some of that, for allowing those schools to go their own way and to plough their own furrow, despite being in the same surroundings as the other unfortunate school.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I thank my hon. Friend. I firmly believe that accountability and independence help to raise standards in schools, but an orderly environment is also vital if teachers are to teach and if children are to learn. It is not acceptable for children's education to be undermined by an undisciplined and disruptive minority.

We have the chief inspector's word for the fact that most schools are orderly and purposeful. Well-run schools are a tribute to the professionalism of heads and teachers. Most pupils are well behaved and keen to learn. In his last annual report, the chief inspector said: Nine out of ten secondary schools are orderly places and in most relationships are good". Sadly, however, there are exceptions. More can and should be done to protect schools from pupil disruption and, sometimes, from violence. That is why the Bill contains measures to strengthen schools' ability to promote good behaviour and to take effective action against bad.

First, the Bill requires that all school governing bodies should state their policy on behaviour and discipline. Many already do. It is good practice, which needs to be spread more widely. Head teachers will continue to be responsible for devising, publicising and operating their schools' discipline codes, but they should do so with clearer backing from governing bodies.

Secondly, detention will be more readily available as a sanction. For the first time, schools will be given clear legal authority to detain badly behaved pupils without parental consent. That will remove the absurd risk of prosecution for false imprisonment.

Thirdly, the Bill recognises that fixed-period exclusions give an opportunity to take effective action to tackle a pupil's problems before he or she returns to school. The more flexible use of the 45 days a year for such exclusions will provide that opportunity.

Few would challenge parents' need to have the right to appeal when their child is permanently excluded from school. Clearly, permanent exclusion is a serious step, but the Bill will ensure that the appeals process gives schools the opportunity to present their case, and that the interests of staff and of other pupils are taken properly into account.

School admission authorities should no longer be obliged to admit pupils who have been repeatedly excluded from other schools. The Bill will remove the right to choose a school from parents of children who have been permanently excluded more than once.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way to me again. Over the weekend, a teacher telephoned me to say that it was his understanding of the Children Act 1989 that a teacher would be completely incapable of manhandling, even in the mildest way, a child out of a classroom—with a view, no doubt, to that child being excluded—without laying himself open to prosecution for assault. Can my right hon. Friend clarify that in any way? If she cannot do so this afternoon, will she undertake to clarify it to find out whether that point can be dealt with?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

There certainly are problems. They affect not only teachers, but social workers and people who handle others in any way—for example, people who work in homes for the elderly. Allegations are made of abuse, mishandling and so on. There has always been a problem in relation to that. I cannot clarify that matter further for my hon. Friend at the moment, but he might like to know that teaching organisations have welcomed a code of practice, which the Department has produced with them and with social services departments, clarifying some matters and giving guidance to teachers in such positions.

Photo of Mr Barry Jones Mr Barry Jones , Alyn and Deeside

Is the right hon. Lady abandoning her personal position on caning?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

The Government's position on corporal punishment remains as I outlined it in the debate on the Gracious Speech. I do not have anything more to add to that, except to say that we have included in the Bill the provisions on discipline that teachers have asked for. They have not asked for a return of corporal punishment and it is therefore not in the Bill.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

Is it not a fact that the Secretary of State has not simply reiterated what she said on 29 October because, since that date, there has been a change in policy? The policy enunciated on 29 October was surely that that was a Government position, that she would adhere to that position even though she disagreed with it and that her Back Benchers would therefore be part of that process. Has there not been since then, over the past few days, a change—a new convention—which, had it applied to the poll tax, would have saved us all much concern and the nation much upheaval and heartache? There can now be a free vote for her Back Benchers, but not for Front Benchers. The Government's position remains firm; that of Back Benchers does not. Is there likely to be another change that will allow her, as well as her Back Benchers, a free vote?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I have reiterated the Government's position. I said, I think in the debate on the Gracious Speech, that there would be amendments, but that they would not receive Government backing. As hon. Members know, my colleagues on the Back Benches will have a free vote on those issues.

The Bill allows—but does not require—the signing of home-school agreements to be used in the admissions process as a condition of entry. That will encourage, we hope, a constructive relationship between parents and schools, including on discipline, but sanctions on their own are not enough. Pupils with behavioural problems are still entitled to an education and schools need help in dealing with those problems.

The Bill therefore requires every local education authority to publish in full their policies for pupils with behavioural problems. Authorities will have to consult schools and other interests about those policies, which should include effective alternatives to mainstream schools. According to Ofsted, some pupil referral units are not providing satisfactory alternatives. A major factor is often the management. The Bill therefore requires LEAs to establish management committees for such units.

Those measures provide a better framework for dealing with pupil discipline problems. They will bolster the authority of schools, and help to ensure that schools have the support that they need and that individual pupils' behavioural problems are properly tackled.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

The Secretary of State must know that there is a disaster out there with children who have been excluded. The Bill means that other schools will be able to refuse those pupils. There is a total lack of resources for the appropriate alternatives, including one-to-one tuition. If she is serious about that matter, she must provide well-resourced alternatives to a school, including one-to-one tuition for children, who would otherwise be in desperately serious trouble and who would then impose that trouble on the rest of the community.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Local education authorities are resourced to deal with all the children in their care, whether they are in school or educated outside. The hon. Gentleman will be interested to note, however, that the Bill will require that, in setting out their plans, local education authorities should consult and work with other relevant agencies—again, a provision that has been welcomed by teaching organisations.

I have concentrated on the parts of the Bill dealing with pupil selection, grant-maintained freedoms and school discipline. I now come to the last part of the Bill, which is about raising standards. All the measures in the Bill have that aim. Selection and deregulation will help to create a pattern of schools in which each can develop its own strengths. The discipline measures will help to create an environment in which effective teaching and learning can take place, but the Bill also sets out specific measures to raise standards.

The Bill requires that all primary schools should assess pupils at or around age five to provide a base line from which to plan each child's education, and to measure each child's progress to completing the national curriculum framework, so that we can have a proper measure of what children achieve through the compulsory school years.

Photo of Mr Lawrence Cunliffe Mr Lawrence Cunliffe , Leigh

How then does the Secretary of State reconcile the raising of standards with the statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that all teacher pay awards will not be funded centrally? If that is the case, added to the fact that efficiency savings by all local education authorities in Britain are at rock bottom, inevitably, many authorities, especially those in Wigan and Leigh, will be forced to make teacher pay awards through teacher redundancies. How can that possibly raise standards? It will obviously increase teacher share-out and the size of classes, and cut the number of books and expenditure.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

Teachers' pay is of course a matter for the independent School Teachers Review Body. I do not have to tell the hon. Gentleman that authorities have been resourced to cope with increases in teachers' pay, as well as with the other matters that concern him. As he mentioned class size, however, he might like to focus just for a moment on the fact that at the Ridings school, the pupil-teacher ratio was 15:1 and that, at Hackney Downs school, it was 8:1. Arguably, those schools have had some of the grossest problems in the land. The only common feature is that they have small-sized classes and are controlled by Labour local education authorities.

The Bill requires that all schools should set targets for improving their performance. We have ambitious targets for raising our education and training achievements at national level and schools must play a part. It is right to require all schools to set targets, as many already do. We shall set a framework for such assessments. Through the Bill, a national framework will be achieved by the merger of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications. The new Qualifications and National Curriculum Authority will oversee the curriculum and assessment in schools, but it will also continue the work of developing a coherent set of courses and qualifications for young people at 16 and beyond, in sixth forms, in further education, in training for employment and, as adults, throughout their working lives.

One of the purposes of education is to prepare young people for their adult working lives. The link between education standards and employment is clear. Graduates are only half as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates. Those with no educational qualifications are three times more likely to be unemployed than those who succeed academically. That message has to be understood by those who underachieve at school and by those who teach them.

When so many options are available in education, training and employment, making the right choice depends increasingly on good careers education and guidance. The Bill will ensure that all 14 to 16-year-olds get a planned programme of careers education. It will also ensure that schools and colleges work closely with the careers service in providing the information and guidance that pupils and students need.

Finally, the Bill extends the powers of Ofsted to inspect the work of local education authorities. The Government want schools to have as much independence as possible, but that still leaves LEAs with a significant role. They will need to show that they can fulfil their role effectively and efficiently.

I have outlined the main provisions of the Bill, on choice and diversity, school discipline and measures to raise standards. I am pleased to see that, in their reasoned amendment, Labour Members appear to endorse the Bill's proposals on discipline and standards. It is a pity that although many of them endorse our proposals on choice and diversity for their own children, they do not espouse them as policies for everyone else's children.

The Opposition have tabled a motion stating that the Bill should be committed to a Special Standing Committee. I shall comment briefly on that. The proposal for a Special Standing Committee is obviously a delaying tactic. The Bill will be subject to thorough scrutiny in Committee in the usual way. Most of the proposals in it have already been the subject of widespread consultation and discussion. In particular, the proposals on choice and diversity were set out in the Government's White Paper, published in June. There is no case for applying Special Standing Committee procedure and I hope that the House will reject that motion.

Photo of Mr David Shaw Mr David Shaw , Dover

Would my right hon. Friend be attracted to the idea of having just one meeting of a Special Standing Committee, so that Labour Front Benchers could explain why they support Conservative education policies for their children?

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I intend to spell out some of those Labour supporters in a minute or so.

The Government have a record of achievement in education of which we can be proud. We have put in place an education framework that is delivering the improvement in standards that we need. That framework is fair and sound because it is built on principles of choice and diversity and opportunity for all. Our policies are popular because they work. They are very popular with many in this House. I shall name some of the supporters of our policies—the right hon. Member for Sedgefield and the hon. Members for Peckham, for Walton, for Cannock and Burntwood, for Barking and for Blackburn, to name but a few.The choices that those people have been able to make are proof of the success of our policies, yet those same people represent a party that opposes all those things.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

The right hon. Lady has now twice named me in her list of those whom she suggests support Conservative party policy. Will she explain to the House why, on previous occasions, both she and the Prime Minister have had to withdraw similar allegations about me and the school that my son attends? Those apologies were made both in writing and on the Floor of the House.

Photo of Mrs Gillian Shephard Mrs Gillian Shephard Secretary of State for Education and Employment

I certainly do not want to offend the hon. Gentleman. If he is sensitive about the school that his child attends, I unreservedly withdraw any allegations that he thinks I may have made. He is clearly sensitive about the matter and I do not want to increase that sensitivity. However, the principle holds good. Members of the Opposition Front-Bench team support our policies for their children, while opposing them for the children of everyone else.

In contrast, we have pursued the same principles with clarity, firmness and increasingly good results for 17 years—choice and diversity for all parents, clear expectations of all pupils and accountability and freedom for all schools, all leading to higher standards and greater opportunities. Those are the principles that we have made our own and applied consistently. Through the Bill, we shall continue to apply them for the benefit of all the children of this country. I commend the Bill to the House.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment) 5:05, 11 November 1996

I beg to move, To leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: this House believes that the Education Bill is not an acceptable and effective measure unless it focuses on clauses related to the improvement of discipline, baseline assessment and targets in schools, the regulation of supply teachers, inspection of local education authorities, careers guidance and the merger of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications; adds clauses to reduce infant class sizes to a maximum of 30, to introduce a General Teaching Council to promote and regulate the teaching profession and to establish the means to ensure that every 11 year old without a special educational need reaches level 4 in national reading tests; and removes those divisive proposals which reduce parental choice, extend the taxpayers' subsidy of private schools and undermine the efficient planning of school places. The Opposition have also tabled a motion to commit the Bill to a Special Standing Committee because we believe that it would be sensible for the House to be able to take adequate evidence and to consider the sort of measures that would enhance the Bill and provide a genuine framework for higher standards and discipline in our schools. I fear that the Secretary of State's unwillingness this afternoon to adopt that procedure shows her insecurity, and her uncertainty about what she is promoting.

We are told that the Government are interested in opportunity for all children in our schools, but the Bill simply denies it. We are told that the Tories are interested in the discipline issue, but the Bill does the absolute minimum to resolve it. If they believe in lifting standards crucially for all children and giving choice to all parents, I fear that the diversity that is being denied in the Bill—and the denial of choice in the selective process—undermine the principles that the Government enunciate.

Almost 18 years, 18 separate education measures, endless Secretaries of State, muddle, confusion, withdrawal, recantation, recrimination—we have had all of those. The Government were dug out, by Sir Ron Dearing, of the hole into which they had dug themselves. It has been change after change, yet here we are again, after almost two decades, with a Bill that has two essential features—one is further division and the other is plagiarism.

I again make the offer to the Secretary of State that, if she genuinely wants to promote measures on standards and discipline, and if she wants them on the statute book before the general election, we will co-operate to achieve that—on the basis of the withdrawal of the divisive and undermining policies in the Bill on selection and the extension of elitism.

It is absolutely clear that there is a difference of philosophy on that part of the Bill. The Government want to go back to a bygone era, when only a small elite were eligible and educated to a high standard and level. It was presumed that the majority of the population would be in fairly low-level, low-wage work and that they would not need education to take them through to a university degree and postgraduate qualifications. It was thought unnecessary to educate society—every individual—to the highest possible level, so that just a few students could be selected. In the old days, 20 or 25 per cent. of students were selected, but the percentage now will be only 5 or 6 per cent.—with a grammar school in every town. Only a small percentage of students will be educated to a high standard, the remainder consigned to other schools in other parts of the country.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

Yes; I will in a moment.

The philosophy is very clear. If only a few students are to have access, through selection, to high-quality education and the remainder are to be rejected, we are being offered a world in which we will have a fringe economy on the very edge of Europe. We will be unable and unwilling to take advantage of a new technological era in a global economy, in which major companies can recruit from across the world the expertise and educated excellence they need to do the job. It is a type of trickle down of excellence to the rest—[Interruption.] It is a type of aristocratic incontinence that would allow the rest of us to benefit from the excellence provided to a few. Which Conservative Members—who, obviously, have benefited from state education, as have their children—would like to intervene?

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid

The hon. Gentleman is making a wonderful case for his eloquence, but his comments have nothing to do with reality. The Government have increased the proportion of people going to university to one in three, made it very much easier for people to return to education at any stage during their career and, in Kent alone, high schools are already sending children to universities—thus blowing a hole in the hon. Gentleman's argument.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

I thought that, over the past 20 years, comprehensive schools had developed the potential of the individuals who are now taking up higher education. The hon. Gentleman is quite right, however, to say that higher education is now being taken up by more people than were ever given access to grammar schools. There has been a transformation, but a transformation the Government now wish to reverse. They want to go backwards—to another era in which only a few people made it through the trap-door into the land of opportunity. That development is not only socially pernicious, it is a dangerous economic doctrine.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

I shall give way in a moment.

Occasionally, in some newspaper leaders, I read the belief expressed that that is the era to which we should return, and that quality must be rationed so that it will not be diluted. That is claptrap of the first order, and everyone who struggled to escape the previous system based on elitism and selection knows it is. Every person who was rejected after taking the 11-plus and who still made it is a living example of why we should not return to a divisive system.

Several hon. Members:


Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

I will give way to the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), whose interventions I always enjoy.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

The hon. Gentleman's use of the word pernicious was interesting. What is more pernicious than living in an area to gain access to a certain school, given that many people will be locked into sending their children to the neighbourhood comprehensive school, as suggested by the Labour party? In the 1960s, we discovered that only parents who could afford to buy a house in the catchment area of a good comprehensive school were able to send their children to that school, thereby denying choice to thousands of disadvantaged children who could not afford to move.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

There are only two ways in which to deal with the problem of parents not being offered choice by their neighbourhood school: first, to lift the standards in those schools dramatically and, secondly, to have a comprehensive and sensible admissions policy that covers the entire area. Let us tackle the issue head on. Every child who is selected for a school that is not currently selective will displace a child who would have attended. It is as simple as that. The statistical and mathematical geniuses on the Conservative Benches must be able to understand that the displacement of one child by another will mean that one child is rejected, and denied entry to the school that he or she would have attended. It is simple.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

Yes, because I am interested to hear the mathematical genius who will disprove that fact.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

Among the seven secondary schools in the public sector in Canterbury, three are grammar schools and one is a selective school that selects on the basis of technological aptitude. Will the hon. Gentleman give us a straight answer? If he were sitting on the Treasury Bench, would he change back the system in Canterbury so that there were seven comprehensive schools? By selecting children in different ways in different schools, we are grouping them in the most beneficial manner to meet their requirements.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

I do not accept that they are being grouped in a manner that is beneficial for them. I believe that the development of specialisms within schools is perfectly reasonable. The practice can be operated perfectly reasonably within the framework of comprehensive schools, and it can allow schools to share resources and expertise so that they can build on their strengths. Pure competition, however—which the Secretary of State advocated today, and which she mentioned on the "On the Record" programme yesterday—is the very opposite of collaboration, co-operation and allowing schools to share resources, and it flies in the face of the measures that she advocated today.

How did competition help the Ridings school? I challenge the Secretary of State to tell me that. I challenge her to tell me why, if competition is the factor that is improving standards, she blames the local education authority for not intervening to improve and increase standards at that school. Her demand for the authority's intervention—for its proactive intervention and hands-on action—to lift standards is the very antithesis and counterweight to believing that competition will raise standards and provide opportunity. That is an intellectual double-somersault, and she knows that it is.

The Secretary of State cannot tell me—I challenge her to do so—the name of one school in the county of Norfolk that she believes should adopt grammar school status, thereby denying children in villages and towns the opportunity freely to enter the school, as they would have been able to do had the selective system not been imposed. I challenge any Conservative Member to tell me which school—outside areas in which grammar schools and selection already exist—he or she would like to become a grammar school. Which set of parents will be denied the opportunity to send their child to the neighbourhood school?

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

Will the hon. Gentleman please explain why it is right that the Leader of the Opposition can send his child to a grant-maintained school, but it is wrong for parents in my constituency of Teignbridge to send their children to a grant-maintained school?

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

That is another intellectual problem for Conservative Members. Contrary to what the hon. Gentleman and the Secretary of State have implied, Labour will not deny people the right to make a choice. We will not deny people the right to opt for the school of their choice—quite the opposite. We shall free them from the restraint of having to go through the 11-plus examination to be able to get into the school. What is more—I want to make this clear—in no way are we threatening the ethos or the drive for standards in any school of whatever status. We applaud the work that is being done.

I visited a grant-maintained school in east Thurrock at the end of last week. It is a superb school that is working and sharing with the community, drawing on a deeply deprived area. The school is lifting its standards by its own actions—the quality of the head; the drive for a development plan and for the setting of targets; the lifting of expectations at every level for every pupil. The Secretary of State and I agree on those issues. So why deny all that? Why should the head, the targets, the plans, the lifting of expectations, good classroom teaching, in-service training and better initial teacher training be set aside in the interests of competition and selection? That is what the Secretary of State said for the bulk of her speech this afternoon.

If the flagship Tory borough of Westminster does not believe what the Government say, who does? The October report of Westminster city council says: By giving schools greater freedom to select pupils, one could be seen to be diminishing parents' rights to select schools. Consequently, the result of this could be fewer, rather than more, satisfied parents. A recent survey in The Times Educational Supplement showed that the most rapidly growing problem faced by Conservative Members in their surgeries was dissatisfaction with the changes in school admissions policies.

Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham

The parents at the school in east Thurrock voted clearly for grant-maintained status. Did the Labour party oppose that decision?

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

I thought that the real issue was the decision on the choice and preference of parents. The selection process and the division of the community act against preference and choice. We have made it clear that we shall involve parents in decisions when dealing with the historic selective system. That is different from the proposals in the Bill, under which the community will be denied a say on any proposed change in admissions policy. There will no longer be an obligation for the publication of the statutory requirements that we have all taken for granted to ensure that the actions of one school do not damage another. We all know that a decision taken by one school can have a dramatic impact on the intake—and therefore the working—of a neighbouring school.

Photo of Andrew MacKinlay Andrew MacKinlay , Thurrock

I should like to clarify the position of Gable Hall school, which my hon. Friend visited last week. The school is in the borough of Thurrock, but will be in the new constituency of Basildon. The reintroduction of selection would be a major disadvantage to the pupils of Basildon and Thurrock and would cause immense problems for schools still under local education authorities and for those grant-maintained schools that have successfully structured themselves on the basis of there being no selection.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

My hon. Friend is entirely right. That is why we want to avoid the rest of Britain having to face the shambles that the London borough of Bromley is facing under the Conservatives. The Conservative chairman of education in Bromley wrote to the Secretary of State in August, saying: The greater the extent of selection by ability, the greater the limits on choice for all except parents of the brightest children. The opportunities available to the less able or to those who happen to live further away from the school than most will be reduced in direct proportion to the increased opportunities of more able children and their parents. I agree with the chairman of education in Bromley. Goodness knows, he ought to know what sort of shambles he will be facing when the extension of partial selection takes place. Children will be denied entry to the school that they would expect to go to.

I have a letter from a mother in Croydon, who explains that she took her daughter to an open day at the school of her choice a week or two ago. Her child's primary school has fed into that secondary school for many years. They looked forward to her going there with her older siblings and with the children she had played with when growing up. When they arrived, they were handed a pamphlet, and they suddenly discovered that the school intended to select 15 per cent. of its pupils. She said: The bombshell fell when we sat down to listen to the head teacher's speech and had an opportunity to look at the Edenham brochure that had been handed to us when we first arrived. She describes how she had to explain to her daughter that, instead of going there automatically because she is from the catchment area—never mind about preference—she might be denied a place because they live on the fringe of the area and the 15 per cent. might apply from schools from over the boundary and push her out.

Frankly, that is a disgrace. It is a disgrace that we should have to put up with the waste of parliamentary time in going backwards to a bygone era; it is a waste that we cannot concentrate instead on the issues on which we agree.

We agree on strengthening discipline. Some of us are slightly taken aback to discover that, after 18 years of Conservative government, detention is not compulsory. If I had known that when I was at school, I could have saved myself hours of difficulty sitting through it, but I welcome the belated decision to ensure that, after all those years, people will not be prosecuted and locked up for having held me in detention. We had better make the measure retrospective, or somebody will sue the Department for Education and Employment. I offer my co-operation in making the measure retrospective.

We ought to be addressing how best to intervene at the earliest possible stage. We do not just agree with the Government on base line assessment, we promoted it. Birmingham city council was in the forefront. We not only agree with most of the policies in the rest of the Bill, we invented them, promoting them for many years in some cases.

I welcome the extension of the maximum period of exclusion from 15 days to 45 days. On 2 April, I suggested that a term should be the maximum. Ten days later—and three weeks shorter—the Secretary of State adopted the policy. That is welcome. More bipartisan approaches, with the Conservatives adopting our policies, will help a lot because, when we get into power next spring, many of the policies will already be in place, saving me a lot of time and trouble adding them to our first major Bill after taking office.

The Conservatives can by all means come on board. Let them get on board with standards, base line assessment and targets. Let them get on board with head teacher training and a much more sensible unification of vocational and academic education than currently proposed by the Secretary of State. Let us unite the National Council for Vocational Qualifications and the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority in a way that genuinely tries to unite high-quality vocational and academic education, rather than divide them. That is why we cannot have a free market in post-16 education. It is why some of the measures providing for a free-for-all from grant-maintained schools on the establishment of sixth forms do not make educational sense, never mind ideological sense. We must all pull together to promote measures that genuinely increase standards and the likelihood of opportunity for all children. We therefore offer our backing to provide a free passage for those measures in the Bill that are sensible, and ensure that some children are not denied opportunity at the expense of others.

We ask the Government to abandon the proposal to extend the assisted places scheme to primary and prep school children. The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) summed up the issue succinctly when he said: There are two things wrong with the assisted places scheme: the principle and the practice. I think that he got it in one. He continued: As I understand it, the principle is supposed to be about bridging the enormous divide between state and private schools; it does not bridge the divide, but widens it". That is absolutely true. He went on—in words that I would never have dared use as an advocate of new Labour—to speak of the way in which, under the assisted places scheme, the crumbs from the table are intercepted by the agile hands of the middle classes."—[Official Report, 29 October 1996; Vol. 284, c. 491-92.] That is indeed the case.

Let us abandon the divisions and those things that simply lead up a blind alley to nowhere. I ask the Government to join us in ensuring that we can implement—through lower class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds, through the introduction of a general teaching council and by backing steps taken by teachers, parents, governors and LEAs—measures to lift the standard of education for all our children in every school in every community in Britain.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Before I call the next hon. Member, I remind the House that Madam Speaker has placed a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between 7 pm and 9 pm.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby 5:31, 11 November 1996

Clauses 20 and 21 impose important new duties on head teachers and governing bodies of maintained schools generally to prescribe in written form and to enforce acceptable norms and standards of pupil behaviour in schools. It is perhaps a coincidence—if so, it is a helpful one—that we should be debating the Bill as a national consultation is taking place on the conclusions and recommendations of the so-called National Forum for Values in Education in the Community.

The forum was convened on the initiative of Dr. Nick Tate, the chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Although I do not agree with everything in the report, his initiative is to be warmly commended. The initiative was in fact a follow-up to an important SCAA conference in January this year. Dr. Tate's speech on that occasion was to some extent the forerunner and inspiration for the Archbishop of Canterbury's own initiative on 5 July in introducing the House of Lords debate on society's moral and spiritual well-being.

Section 1 of the foundation Education Reform Act 1988 insists that the school curriculum prepares pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. It is against the background of what I hope my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will regard as a supportive and sympathetic appraisal of Dr. Tate, SCAA and the national forum that I must nevertheless express my strong criticism of SCAA and the forum for taking an unacceptably negative and mealy-mouthed approach to that adult experience known as the family and married life for which the school curriculum and school standards should be preparing children.

My right hon. Friend will know that five members of the forum's parent-governor group, including Mr. Guy Hordern who is well known in Birmingham, wanted a specific reference made in the report to the cardinal contribution made by the family, sustained by marriage, in creating and transmitting virtues—"virtues" is probably a better word than "values". Mr. Hordern and his minority group wanted to include the words: The most important relationships throughout life are those experienced within the immediate and extended family. Children should be nurtured and developed within a stable, moral and loving home environment with preferably both mother and father present in a happy marriage relationship. Marriage and parenting successfully undertaken are very creative of good values in adults and children. Almost unbelievably, the proposal was disallowed. Its repudiation in the forum's report was dealt with in the following words: Four members of one group wanted to include a fifth area for the family, with the emphasis on the need for heterosexual life-long marriage. However this proposal was not accepted by other members on the grounds that it was not a true representation of the analysis of documentation"— whatever that bizarre observation may mean— and the belief that neither they nor SCAA had the authority to prescribe on family structures. However, all members were eager to stress the quality of family life. I hope that it is reasonable to claim that we in the House and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State do have the right and authority to prescribe on family structures. I hope, too, that my right hon. Friend will agree with my stricture that the repudiation of Guy Hordern's advocacy of the norms of marriage and family life is mealy mouthed and unacceptable. I was deeply relieved when, on 27 October, I heard my right hon. Friend specifically criticise the deletion and omission of the minority group's references to marriage in the forum's report. I very much hope that she will stick to her guns and continue to have the splendid courage of her convictions, which she manifested in her initial reaction to the forum's report.

Should she need any supportive arguments, I remind my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—in an effort to strengthen her hand in the lead that she has given—that marriage is a practice and condition supported and sustained by a powerful tripod of Church, state and common sense. I also remind her of the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who said: Cohabitation is not and cannot be marriage in all but name. Marriage is not cohabitation. Marriage is the institution which is at the heart of a good society and let us not be reluctant to say so. I do not say this in condemnation. I say it as an invitation to a better way. I also remind my right hon. Friend of the key facts of family life. The Family Policies Study Centre, for example, showed in a 1995 survey that 71 per cent. of children live with their married father and mother; 3 per cent. of children live with a cohabiting mother and father at any one time, and almost all cohabiting couples get married after they have a child; 17 per cent. live in a lone mother household; 7 per cent. live with their mother and stepfather, married in the case of 4 per cent. and cohabiting in the case of 3 per cent.; and 2 per cent. live in a lone father or other such household.

It is perhaps not surprising, given those figures, that a Gallup poll in The Sunday Telegraph of 3 November showed that 75 per cent. of the public believe that schools should teach children that marriage is a good thing. According to the Audience Selection poll in The People, 73 per cent. believe that moral teaching in schools should focus on marriage and the traditional family.

On the role of the state, my right hon. Friend will recall that, since the introduction of the so-called wife's allowance in 1918, our system of taxation has deliberately singled out marriage for specific recognition and support, as in the married man's allowance, the wife's earned income relief and, since 1990, the married couple's allowance. Both Lord Lawson and the present Chancellor specifically rejected the view that the tax system should pay no regard to marriage.

The latest significant contribution to state support for marriage comes from my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor who, in a recent press release, stated: The Government's commitment to the institution of marriage is now enshrined in the Family Law Act 1996. It is one which I, personally, wholeheartedly endorse. I am therefore particularly pleased to announce a programme which will provide practical help and support for people who are preparing for marriage, and support for those whose marriage is in difficulty. I cannot think of a more clear-headed and specific endorsement of the concept of marriage than the Government's providing substantial budgetary support for people preparing for marriage and for those with marriages in difficulty; and yet SCAA, in the consultation process following the forum, has not had the guts and the common sense to recognise that everybody—but everybody—believes that the only rational and sensible way to bring up children is to encourage marriage and the married state.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will insist that any recommendations or directives sent to schools in accordance with the Education Reform Act 1988, requiring the curriculum to prepare children for adult life, should not hesitate to highlight, recognise and encourage marriage as the basis for a stable, loving, creative and enjoyable family life.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles 5:42, 11 November 1996

I am tempted to follow the right hon. Gentleman and discuss family life; I shall not do so, but I suggest that he should choose his words carefully, because a child whose family does not conform to his specific concept of what marriage and family life should be may get the idea that there is something wrong with that family. Rightly or wrongly, many children today have a different experience of family life from that described by the right hon. Gentleman; we would do them enormous damage if we implied that their way of life was not totally acceptable.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

Will the hon. Lady consider for a moment where her argument leads? What would she say to a friend of mine who was brought up in a home with a violently alcoholic father? Does she think that children should not be taught that it is wrong to be an alcoholic and to beat up children? That is where her argument is taking her.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

I do not see the analogy. I am talking not about drunken fathers, but about children who are not in what is regarded as, but never really was, a traditional family, and who may be given the impression that there is something wrong with their situation. When children are alienated from society and people make judgments about them, problems are created. Children must be told that, whatever their family structure and however it is perceived, their family is important.

When I first came to the House more than 30 years ago—I was extremely young—I was told that if I stayed long enough I would hear the same arguments again. That has indeed happened tonight. I am sorry that the Secretary of State has left, because the arguments that we are hearing about grammar schools and comprehensive education and about selection and choice are exactly the same as the arguments that were made against those of us who were involved with the campaign for the advancement of state education and with the changeover to a non-selective system. We should not forget that we have Lady Thatcher to thank for closing more grammar schools than any other Minister.

We were told, and we have been told again tonight, that choice and preference are the same thing, and that under a comprehensive system with no grammar schools parents would lose their right to choose. The words preference and choice are bandied about as if they meant the same thing, but they do not: many parents express a preference for a certain type of school without having that preference realised.

The history of grammar schools has shown that the only parents who got their choice were those whose children were lucky enough to be selected for that choice. Many parents who said that they preferred a certain school were told that it was full. That is happening now, with selection coming in by the back door and excluding large numbers of pupils from the parents' school of choice.

An interesting book on the history of comprehensive education in this country has just come out. It is by my friend Caroline Benn and Clyde Chitty and is worth reading by those who doubt the success of the comprehensive system.

Photo of Mr David Congdon Mr David Congdon , Croydon North East

It is not a very objective account.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

I believe that it is an objective account. Has the hon. Gentleman read it?

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eccles

Clearly the hon. Gentleman did not go to a comprehensive school, so he probably cannot manage the book.

In England and Wales, 90 per cent. of children attend comprehensive schools; in Scotland, as we all know, all schools are comprehensive. We have only about 150 grammar schools left, and research has shown that the academic achievement of comprehensive schools is increasing all the time, as is their diversity. Over the years, different comprehensive schools have developed strengths in different areas, which is something that we all wanted, but the moment that we start creaming pupils off and making a judgment that certain children are likely to be more able and should have the opportunity to be selected for a different type of education, we shall weaken the possible academic achievements of the comprehensives.

Moreover—and this is an argument that we have not heard in the House for a long time—people who believed that they could judge by an examination or test which children would be the high fliers have often been proved wrong, and more resources used to be dedicated to those children who were picked, to ensure that the prophecy was fulfilled. I would deeply regret a return to wider selection.

There is a confusion between preference and choice. If schools are allowed to select a higher proportion of pupils, only the parents of children who pass the selection test will have a choice. That process affects other schools. The process of creaming off the best creates difficulties. I find it unbelievable that we are considering returning to a system that proved deficient in offering most of our children opportunities when the system of comprehensive education has been so successful.

Having expressed my opposition to selection and my fear of it, I shall now deal with exclusions and discipline in our schools. I am aware of the Secretary of State's views on discipline and I know that we shall have the opportunity to debate the matter in detail, so I shall not say much about corporal punishment and its place— or lack of it, I hope—in our school system. Instead I shall follow up what my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) said about exclusions.

I have every sympathy with schools and teachers who are called upon to deal with disruptive pupils. We are all aware of the difficulties that are involved. However, we should consider why those children are disruptive and the problems that they face. I imagine that poor little Rikki Neave, who was brutally killed and suffered so appallingly at the hands of his mother, was a disruptive pupil. Had he grown up, I am sure that he would have been described as a menace to society, but who would have remembered his background or his history?

We need to look more closely at why certain children are so disruptive. There are many explanations that I hope we will debate in some detail. It is easy to write off those children by looking at the end product without considering their background. Given what has happened to some disruptive children and what they have experienced, we should take great care when we talk about corporal punishment. The kids who will be bashed and caned will be mostly the ones who are already being bashed and battered. That is the big dilemma about discipline in schools.

I should like to refer to some research that Dr. Carl Parsons of Christ Church college, Canterbury recently presented to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities conference. He found that exclusions are a small, but growing problem. There was an 8 per cent. rise in exclusions last year and an 11 per cent. rise the year before. In 1995–96, one in 2,300 primary school children, one in 240 secondary school children and one in 100 secondary school children in London were permanently excluded. Inner London schools exclude many more pupils than elsewhere. Exclusions are mostly of boys aged between nine and 11. The research shows that there is a strong link between exclusions and factors of deprivation. I believe that there is a strong link between exclusions and a lack of hope for the future.

At secondary level, 40 per cent. of excluded children are sent to pupil referral units and 27 per cent. receive home tuition. At primary level, 25 per cent. of excluded children attend pupil referral units and 40 per cent. receive home tuition. There is a six-week delay to get excluded pupils into pupil referral units or home tuition, which amounts to two hours per week. If parents who took their children out of education offered them only two hours' tuition a week, they would probably be prosecuted. They would be told that they were providing insufficient education. It seems to me and to many of those young people—difficult as they are—that we have given up on them and abandoned them. We cannot afford to do that.

The reason why the problem is growing is complex. I have mentioned one or two factors. The national curriculum has not helped. In the past, there were outlets for many disruptive pupils such as woodwork or playing sports for long periods. Today, local management of schools and league tables have resulted in more competition between schools and, in some instances, the need to exclude disruptive pupils because they drag down the school's reputation. The general lack of resources means that there is less money to provide back-up facilities and specialist services such as social workers and educational psychologists.

If the pattern of exclusion continues and children are taken out of education because their schools can no longer cope with them, we have to offer them more. If we do not, they will realise what some already say about them—that they are useless and they might as well leave school at 12 or 14 as they will never achieve anything. We are not providing resources for them or taking them seriously.

If exclusions continue, we must ensure that excluded children are given further opportunities. For many of them, it is a phase that will pass. Many of them get over it and return to education, but the tragedy is that one third of excluded children become known to the police within two years. That is because they are not occupied, so they wander the streets. It was never the intention that the behaviour of excluded children should become worse and that they should become known to the police, but that is what is happening.

The House must take seriously the issue of exclusion and what happens to disruptive pupils. I welcome the proposals that involve standards of behaviour and schools knowing what to expect of pupils. That is a sound policy and no one would disagree with it. Children need to know where they are and what is expected of them. Our expectations should be high. However, I believe profoundly that if there is more selection and some children are labelled more successful than others, the feeling of worthlessness will extend to many more children and resources will be directed not towards those who need them most, but towards those who are considered successful.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, I was told that if I was here long enough I would hear the same arguments repeated. I have heard them tonight and I find that very sad.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth 5:56, 11 November 1996

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) is not in his place. He asked about the Ridings school and the local education authority. The answer to his question was on "Panorama" last Monday. I saw that programme and the answer given by the director of education was: The local authority failed The Ridings school. The director of education blamed not the Government, but the local authority.

I welcome the Education Bill because it gives schools much greater power to select pupils by way of ability or aptitude without the need to obtain central approval. The Government do not insist that every school has a selective intake. The Bill simply ensures that local people, through the school governing bodies, have a right to decide whether to introduce a degree of selection.

My constituency has grammar schools and I know from personal experience just how successful they are. Those grammar schools have an influence far beyond their immediate environment. They influence the primary schools that are subject to the rigour of an 11-plus examination and to parents, who undoubtedly have certain expectations. The effect of selection and the added rigour results in higher standards in primary schools, which feed through to the secondary schools. The other secondary schools do not operate in some educational vacuum, but derive benefit from the added rigour. Therefore, the effect of the 11-plus and selection is felt throughout the school chain and not simply in the grammar schools. Clauses 54 to 57 make provision for the chief inspector of schools to arrange for the inspection of local education authorities. I welcome that new power. For some time, I have become increasingly concerned about the effectiveness of LEAs, which were first established in 1902. Since then, many changes have taken place within the education system and society at large. It is now time for the powers and responsibilities of LEAs to be the subject of a searching examination. Those four clauses go part way to meet my views. However, I have considerable reservations.

If an LEA is found to be failing, it is required to publish an action plan, but that does not go nearly far enough. The Ofsted report and the action plan should be the subject of a 90-minute debate in the House of Commons, which should take place in Government time. An Adjournment debate raised by an individual Member of Parliament is not long enough or good enough for the issues to be thoroughly explored; but a prime-time debate on a failing LEA would have the effect of concentrating the local authority's collective mind to a degree that might not otherwise occur.

If it is argued that there is insufficient parliamentary will or parliamentary time, I have an alternative suggestion: that the Select Committee on Education and Employment be required to consider the Ofsted report and the action plan and to ask witnesses from the LEA to attend, answer for their failures and explain their actions. I advance those two suggestions because the Bill as it stands does not have sufficient teeth to ensure that the Ofsted report is thoroughly debated and the action plan is properly implemented. It is not enough for the report and the action plan to be published in the pious hope that something might be done.

It would be a mistake to assume that all LEAs can be shamed into real and positive action. Those who doubt that need only look at the local ombudsman's reports and remember that those reports are not always accepted by local authorities. It is factually correct to say that, in a minority of cases, the ombudsman's report is not actioned by the council that is subject to criticism.

Like many Conservative Members, I get fed up with Opposition Members blaming the Government for every single error or omission in the nation's schools—that point was also made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State during her remarks. Labour Members conveniently forget that they and their Liberal allies control the overwhelming majority of LEAs and that it is LEAs that are responsible for administering the nation's schools. They exert a fundamental influence over the character of schools and the way in which education is delivered. As Chris Woodhead said: What counts is not class size but teaching method. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am delighted to have the support of Conservative Members.

Opposition Members cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, they say that grant-maintained status has failed because the majority of the nation's schools are still controlled by LEAs; but on the other hand they say that, when an LEA school fails, it is the fault of the Department for Education and Employment. Heads the LEA wins, tails the Government lose.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

The hon. Gentleman referred to the Ridings school which, we must remember, was formed after an amalgamation under a Conservative local authority. Does he agree with the Conservative education spokesman, Councillor John Ford, who was quoted in the Halifax Evening Courier of 7 November as saying: The problem was that the Education Secretary took nearly 12 months to approve the scheme which undermined the establishment of the new school and made it difficult for parents"?

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

I hear what the hon. Gentleman says, but I am not impressed. The whole case pivots on what the director of education said: The local authority failed The Ridings school. The hon. Gentleman can ask me as many questions as he likes on that subject, but I shall continue to give him the answer which I heard on "Panorama".

Staying on the subject of local authorities, I am increasingly of the view that they are extremely expensive. A paper on school funding produced by the Centre for Policy Studies showed that, of the national schools budget, £12 billion goes to schools and about £4 billion to LEAs. The total proportion of funds deducted by LEAs ranges from 26 per cent. in Havering to 39 per cent. in Barking and in Dagenham. It is argued that LEAs keep £3 for every £7 that they distribute among their schools. An average of £594 a year is withheld by LEAs for every pupil in the country. That is a truly staggering amount.

That problem occurs because there are three separate budgets: the general schools budget, the potential schools budget and the aggregated schools budget. The complexity of those three budgets means that the whole system of school funding is opaque. Clearly, it would be of substantial benefit to the House, to the country and, of course, to the children of the country if school funding were made more transparent and understandable.

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

I am delighted to receive the assent of the hon. Gentleman, who is the Liberal spokesman on this subject. He agrees with Conservative Members fairly infrequently, but it is always good when a sinner returns to the fold.

The problem is not so much the lack of funds, as Opposition Members continually allege, but that funds do not go where they are intended to go—to classrooms. There is still far too much LEA holdback.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State acknowledged the disciplinary problems in some of the nation's schools. She now requires schools to publish their policy on discipline and schools will be empowered to give detention without first obtaining parental consent. That is a positive move in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. I want a new clause to be added to the Bill that would make it possible for the home-school contract to contain a reference to corporal punishment.

I now come to the point that was eloquently made by the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), who concentrated on the subject of exclusion for much of her speech. I found myself in agreement with at least some of her remarks. I believe, as she does, that exclusions damage children. In my view, but clearly not in hers, exclusions damage children far more than being caned would. That point was confirmed in a recent poll that showed that 68 per cent. of those interviewed believed that corporal punishment should be restored to the nation's schools.

It should be remembered—again, I echo a point made by the hon. Member for Eccles—that exclusions result in those children who most desperately require education being put outside the school gates. In other words, the children who would benefit most from being in the classroom and subject to the authority and discipline that are exercised there are the children who are excluded from those benefits. That cannot be right.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Given the Leader of the Opposition's fixation with opinion polls, and given that 68 per cent. of those polled were in favour of the restoration of corporal punishment, how long will it be before that is the policy of the Labour party?

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

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. I see the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) nodding his assent. No doubt, that is something that will emerge during the passage of the Education Bill.

It is significant that the past 10 years have seen a steady increase in disciplinary problems because they coincide with the period following the abolition of corporal punishment. Hon. Members expect teachers to work miracles. We take from them one method of maintaining discipline but put nothing in its place and expect matters to continue as before. Recent events have shown just how unwise we are to expect that to happen. I simply seek to give teachers an added sanction: the use of the cane.

Photo of Mr Terry Dicks Mr Terry Dicks , Hayes and Harlington

As my hon. Friend knows, I shall support his amendment. He has not mentioned, however, punishing parents whose children misbehave. It is a parental, not a school, problem. Why do we not put parents of unruly kids in prison for six months? If we did that, at least they might make their kids behave in school.

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

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

Has the hon. Gentleman looked at the judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, particularly the application in 1982 of Mrs. Grace Campbell and Mrs. Jane Cosans to the European Court on whether they could stipulate as a reason for not allowing a child into a school the fact that they did not accept corporal punishment on the basis of a philosophical conviction?

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

The Conservative party does not believe that parent-school contracts should be inflexible, whereas the Labour party believes that everyone should sign up to them.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

The Labour party believes that they should be compulsory. It is the party of compulsion.

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

My right hon. Friend is right; the Labour party would make such contracts enforceable. I believe that they should be voluntary. The difference between the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) and me is that I do not believe in forcing things down parents' or schools' throats. I want to give them maximum possible choice and diversity, so that if a parent does not wish to sign a contract, they are not forced to do so. If a school's governing body does not wish to adopt the clause that I envisage, it will not put it in. I merely seek to add to the teachers' armoury one more sanction that they may use. If they choose not to use it, so be it, but that added sanction would help to ensure greater discipline in the nation's schools.

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

No, I should like to continue my speech.

Corporal punishment would not be used to any marked extent; its existence would be deterrent enough. My amendment would allow schools—I stress the word "allow"—to use corporal punishment. Its use would be a free decision made by individual heads and governing bodies. The amendment would therefore be permissive, not prescriptive, similar to earlier clauses in the Bill on selection. My amendment merely continues—

Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. I am having difficulty in finding the hon. Gentleman's amendment on this evening's Order Paper.

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

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am speaking to the part of the Bill that refers to discipline in schools and I seek briefly to advance a case which I have almost concluded. I should like to continue with it if I might.

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

No, I shall not give way. I have had a broad hint from Mr. Deputy Speaker.

As I was saying, my amendment merely continues in the direction of giving greater powers to parents and schools, which is the laudable objective of the Conservative party and its education policies. In the past few months, we have witnessed greater and growing indiscipline in the nation's schools, culminating in the events at Manton school and the Ridings school.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is concerned about the growing number of teachers who are taking early retirement. People become teachers not because they wish to become rich but because of the vocational aspect of teaching and the satisfaction that many teachers get from their job. There can be little satisfaction or pleasure, however, in seeking to teach an ill-disciplined or disruptive class, which threatens physical violence. No wonder many teachers seek to get out early. The restoration of corporal punishment in schools would signal the fact that society is no longer prepared to tolerate the thuggish activities of a small minority of children and that society is now prepared to take stronger action to defend those who wish to learn and those who seek to teach. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) said, education best takes place in a disciplined environment. My amendment would simply give teachers an added sanction that they could use. The decision to use it would lie with parents, governors and teachers.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House are convinced about the threat posed by violence and indiscipline in schools. In the past, the Opposition have opposed every reform that we have introduced, but this time, in the interests of the nation's children, I urge them to join us. The hon. Member for Brightside said that we should pull together. I urge the Opposition to pull together with us on this issue. Corporal punishment would be used rarely. Its principal value would lie in deterrence and its mere existence would usually be enough. It would help hard-pressed teachers and reduce the number of exclusions. It would help to restore discipline and authority, and make teaching easier. I support the Bill.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 6:17, 11 November 1996

The past half hour in the Chamber has been fascinating. First, we had an excellent speech by the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) and then we had a speech by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). He is always a persuasive speaker and several times he had the House spellbound and beginning to support some of his proposals.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth talked persuasively about the importance of transparency in our system of education funding, and he noted the fact that I agreed with him. He will be aware that the all-party Education and Employment Select Committee has frequently made a plea for greater transparency. He omitted to remind the House, however, that the Government introduced the funding mechanism which he criticised, and which he supported.

The hon. Gentleman also spoke persuasively about the importance of development plans after Ofsted inspections and said that it was vital that they be taken seriously. I entirely agree with him. I was beginning to be persuaded by his argument that such plans should be debated in the House, until his subsequent remarks reminded me that that would mean that a serious education plan would be debated in the House by hon. Members like the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth who tell the House, and believe it, that class size does not matter. It would worry me enormously that hon. Members discussing a serious education plan held that view despite all the evidence to the contrary. Even the Government proudly boasted in their election manifestos of 1982 and 1987 that they had managed to reduce class sizes. At that time they obviously thought that it was important.

There is a great deal of good in our education service, but I doubt whether anyone on either side of the Chamber would disagree with the view that further improvements are desperately needed if Britain is to succeed in the increasingly global market.

There are three possible ways forward. The first calls for a return to the golden era. I hope that most hon. Members present would agree that there never was a golden era that provided excellence for all. Perhaps there was a golden era that provided excellence for a few, but not for all. The second option, which my party and I would support, would ensure a high-quality education service that was properly resourced and was based on the key principles that underpin the Education Act 1944—partnership and co-operation.

The third way forward, which the Government seem to favour, is epitomised by the Bill and represents the belief that roughly everything is okay in the education service—it just needs a little tweaking here and there, and a further dose of market forces in the form of competition. The problem with that approach is that it fails to reflect what competition means. In a competitive system based on market forces, there are winners, of course, but there are also losers. I want an education service in which there are no losers and everyone is a winner.

I have been in the House for a relatively short time, but I have already got used to the ritual of the annual education Bill, even though the Government told us two years ago that there would be no further education Bills. The one difference between this Bill and those that I have seen through the House is that the present Bill is rather like the curate's egg. Unlike the other Bills, in which almost everything was bad, this Bill is a mixture of good and bad. I am pleased that it contains some helpful elements, which my party and I would be prepared to support.

It is right, for example, that the Bill proposes measures to improve careers support for students and pupils. It is right to amalgamate the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications—I proposed that back in 1992. It is right to define the start of the compulsory school age. It is right that agency teachers should be brought within the current teacher requirements—for example, that they should meet medical fitness requirements and that they could be barred for misconduct.

The Bill contains further measures that might be good, depending on the details, which will no doubt be enunciated in Committee. I support in principle, at least, base line testing, the setting of targets by schools, and the inspection of the work of local education authorities by Ofsted. Those three measures, however, involve the setting of targets, hurdles or standards. Many in the world of education want support to enable them to reach those targets and standards, and to get over those hurdles.

Other measures in the Bill are more controversial. No one who speaks in the debate would oppose the introduction of measures to improve discipline in our schools. Some of the measures proposed may be helpful and may be supported by parents, teachers and governors. The proposal in relation to detention, for example, would ensure that no one treated the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) illegally, and would allow schools to keep pupils back for detention, having notified parents, even if parents did not support the idea. That, I believe, is the right way forward.

Increased flexibility in relation to exclusions would be welcomed by schools. I merely point out that the Secretary of State herself a year ago removed some of the flexibility that existed.

In response to the comments of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, I hope that the House will not view the reintroduction of corporal punishment as a helpful means of reducing levels of indiscipline in our schools. I have already stated my fundamental opposition to it. There is no evidence that a return to corporal punishment will help in the battle against indiscipline in our schools. I repeat that, at a time when we are trying to reduce levels of violence in our society, I do not understand how we can contemplate a form of punishment that is violent.

Photo of Mr Cynog Dafis Mr Cynog Dafis , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) for allowing me to share some of my experience with him and with the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). I was a teacher for 32 years. During that time I used what might be called corporal interventions—that is, I did use corporal punishment at times. What I learnt with time was that, whereas that method worked with basically well-adjusted but mischievous and lively pupils, with the alienated it was very damaging. Of course it would be impossible for a teacher to make a decision to use corporal punishment with the decent but mischievous pupil, but not with the seriously alienated pupil. In those circumstances it must not be used at all.

Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

I entirely support the hon. Gentleman's view. He, like me, may have been amused by the letter that appeared in The Guardian last week, which I share with the House in case other hon. Members did not see it. It was from a gentleman from New York who was visiting London. He wrote: As an American I could not comprehend your controversy over corporal punishment—until I visited some of your telephone booths. Mrs. Shephard's proposal to permit caning is clearly part of a plan to expand sex education to your schools. There is a need to improve discipline in our schools. Some of the measures will be helpful, but corporal punishment certainly will not.

Another problem related to measures dealing with discipline is the proposal for home-school contracts. We would all accept that it is vital for school and home to work together to assist all children's educational development. The question is how best to create the hone-school partnership. The mere signing of a contract will not achieve that. The critical factor is the process of the home and the school working together to reach agreement about rights and responsibilities. I do not understand how a system which proposes that contracts must be signed before the child even enters the school can possibly work. There will have been no time to develop the process of working together. Furthermore, there is a real problem for parents who know that they cannot control their child. Do they sign the contract just to get the child into the school, knowing that they do not mean what they are signing, or do they honestly refuse to sign it, in which case there is no possibility of their child going to the school? That is yet another form of pernicious selection. In the current formulation by both the Government and the Opposition, my party will oppose such moves.

Perhaps the worst elements of the Bill are those to which hon. Members have devoted most of their remarks: the increase in selection and in support for grant-maintained status. I fundamentally oppose both measures. I am particularly worried that the selection proposals will allow some schools to increase selection and change their characters significantly without the need for standard statutory requirements. Various proposals for significant change were advanced under existing statutory requirements, some of which the Secretary of State turned down—presumably she had good reasons for doing so. Yet in this Bill she seeks to remove her own power. Therefore, proposals that she disagreed with in the past may now go ahead to the detriment of other schools in the same area.

I have already said that increased selection reduces choice because it is no longer a case of parents selecting schools but a case of schools selecting pupils. The Secretary of State could not respond to that point. She must be aware that there is no real desire for increased selection in this country. Very few grant-maintained schools that have the power to increase selection exercise that option. Opinion polls—such as the Gallup poll, which was mentioned earlier—show that 77 per cent. of British people are opposed to increased selection in our schools. Increased selection makes a mockery of any attempt at strategic planning in the education service.

The same is true of increasing the number of grant-maintained schools. The latest proposals in the Bill are another attempt to refloat that failed flagship policy. As I pointed out in an earlier debate, the policy is so unpopular that only 0.5 per cent. of eligible schools bothered to conduct a ballot for grant-maintained status in the past 12 months. The Secretary of State is so desperate to increase the number of grant-maintained schools in this country that she has brushed aside criticisms about the latest ballot at the Arthur Mellows village college in the Prime Minister's constituency. The Secretary of State acknowledged that the information provided to parents by governors was misleading, but she refused to declare the ballot void. That shows the extent of the Government's desperation in trying to bolster the number of grant-maintained schools in this country.

The key parts of the Bill will increase the chaos and the division in our education system. There is no doubt that the Bill was drawn up in the last chance saloon. As it is the last chance, one might think that the Government would try hard to pick a winner. Sadly, the Government have failed to do that with this legislation.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford 6:32, 11 November 1996

Listening to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), I was reminded of the political faction that existed in America towards the end of the 19th century. They were called "mug wumps" because they faced two directions at once: they sat on the fence with their mug on one side and their wump on the other. We have seen a good example of that today. If hon. Members do not know what a "wump" is, they should ask Roy Jenkins.

The Liberal Democrat spokesman opposes grammar schools, city technology colleges, the assisted places scheme, private education, the Bill and everything that the Government have done. What does he support? He favours the comprehensivisation of our education system—that is the ineluctable conclusion that we must draw from his heartfelt and sincere contribution. This is a good Bill which contains much that I can support, and I shall help my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) to see it augmented to include corporal punishment.

Let me state the obvious for the first time in my life: the Government do not run a single school in this country. Governments have not done so since the 1890s, the 1930s, the Education Act 1944 and certainly not under the measures that we have passed over 17 years. Local education authorities run schools but Governments can indirectly influence and shame local education authorities into achieving better performances.

There are black spots in education provision in this country—no hon. Member would deny that. Where are those black spots and what are their historical origins? They occur mainly in inner London and in our major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Bradford. Those areas were run by Labour and embraced trendy, philosophical education ideas. Strangely, the Labour party's current policies would affect those people whom it claims to represent: the Labour voters. I shall give reasons for my claims. I have a list of the 10 worst local education authorities in the country. The standard table shows the number of children who obtain five or more passes at GCSE grades A to C. According to that table, Islington has 17.4 per cent.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."] Knowsley has 19.2 per cent., Tower Hamlets 21.7 per cent.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Labour."] I am not sure whether Tower Hamlets is still controlled by Labour. According to the table, Southwark has 22.2 per cent., Manchester has 22.5 per cent.—

Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. We do not need sedentary comments as to who controls every borough that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) mentions in the Chamber.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was so deafened by my hon. Friends' comments that I could not hear myself speak. Newham has 23.7 per cent., Hackney 23.9 per cent., Liverpool 26.1 per cent. and Sandwell 26.9 per cent. That compares with an English average of 43.5 per cent. It is no wonder that, when faced with the prospect of education provision in Islington, the Leader of the Opposition chose to send his child outside the borough. It is no wonder that the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) sends her child to a school outside her district, or that the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms Harman) abandoned the schools in Southwark to become a refugee in Conservative-controlled Bromley.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm whether the research that he mentions refers to the socio-economic background of the areas concerned?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I shall come to that point in due course. Islington is a gentrified area—it must be if the hon. Lady lives there.

I think that all hon. Members would agree that the Ridings school in Calderdale suffered from over-exposure in the media: there was too much media involvement. Equally, many of my constituents are incredulous that one 10-year-old boy can close a school in Worksop. That school also suffered as a result of media exposure. Successful schools are succeeding because of the channelling and adapting of parental pressure that is applied to schools and local authorities and the freedom afforded by grant-maintained status.

I am of an age to remember when comprehensivisation was the fashion.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I agree with my hon. Friend. Comprehensivisation meant that children attended the comprehensive school situated in their local area. A line was drawn around the school, it had a catchment area and pupils had no choice but to attend that comprehensive school. If families lived in an area that was affluent, middle class and supportive, academic results were often quite good. However, if families lived at the wrong end of town where parents were not so supportive or there were problems attaining a working school-parent relationship—to which the hon. Member for Bath referred—results were often poor. Such schools usually became sink schools. I know that because I was an 11-plus failure and come from a blue-collar worker family in industrial Lancashire. No one need lecture me about the problems associated with deprivation or about the aspirations of working-class folk. Working-class folk in so many parts of the country, represented by Labour Members, have been abandoned, neglected and denied the opportunity that bright working-class children should have.

There is nothing more pernicious than the choice of school for a family being dependent on whether the father rents from the local authority or can afford to buy a house in the catchment area of the more fashionable and more successful school down the road.

Arguments about money are significant. We always hear Labour Members talking about money. The important issue is not the amount of money that is available but the way in which it is spent. If maximum expenditure were the key to success, why was not the Inner London education authority a great success? It was top in terms of expenditure and bottom when it came to results. That example defeats for all time the argument that money is the key to success.

There is, of course, more than that to education. There is the parent relationship, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Bath. There is the chemistry that is created by the head. There is the good and supportive governing body. There is also the commitment of parents, or parent when there is only one in the family. These are all important ingredients.

We must not make deprivation the excuse. I learnt as a Minister at the Department of Education and Science that every Member should have tattooed on his or her forehead the following: "The key to a child's success at school is the socio-economic background from which that child comes." Labour Members tried with their friends in local education authorities socially to engineer and to bus pupils. Labour was unfocused or wrongly focused and thus was missing the problem.

The real problem was that expectation was not high enough for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Excuses were made too often by indifferent teachers, who were more concerned about the politics of education than about education itself. For all time we must defend the right of ordinary parents to have preference for the education that they want for their children. If a form of education is good enough for the Leader of the Opposition, it is good enough for the people whom I represent.

A while back, Labour Members were talking about a quota system at university level to work against children who had attended public schools. How long will it be before they have a quota for those children who come from grammar schools, grant-maintained schools, Church schools or single-sex schools? Once there is a quota for one section of the child population, the system will spread like a cancer throughout the entire system.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth talked ably about policies to be created by schools to ensure discipline. When the time comes in later debates, I shall be taking up my hon. Friend's remarks. This evening, however, I wish to read a passage that appears in a book published by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson), a long-standing friend. His book is entitled "Boyson on education". It is available at £12.95. It has been published by Peter Owen publishers.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North is a distinguished educationist. He served in the second world war, after which he was a teacher and a head teacher. He was a distinguished naval man and godfather to my son. If he wrote a book on cooking, he would out-Delia Delia. A passage on page 67 reads: I still think that overall the withdrawal of corporal punishment in 1984 has made the task of teachers, particularly amongst boys in secondary schools, more difficult. Corporal punishment certainly does not solve all problems, but the knowledge that it exists in the school and is used where necessary was certainly a constraint on pupil misbehaviour. That must be the yardstick.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I shall, of course, give way to my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid

I am not certain that I heard my hon. Friend correctly. Did he say that the book of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson) was being flogged for £12.99?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

No, £12.95. I am sure that it can be obtained at a discount.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, I believe that corporal punishment should be available to school governing bodies. I believe also that parents should vote at annual meetings to decide whether governors should be required to adopt or adapt a policy of corporal punishment. Such a policy should be available only when it is the view of the head that a child or children should be so chastised.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North made a good point the other day when he said that no child should be administered punishment of the cane in the cold light of another day. In other words, the punishment must take place there and then, and the child must understand why the punishment is taking place. The alternative is exclusions.

I come from industrial Lancashire, and I can tell the House that no child was excluded in my day. Parents made sure that their children turned up for school. Society was much more disciplined. We accept that it is less disciplined these days. All that we do now is exclude the child. As the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) said, the excluded child is given two hours of teaching a week, or four or six. That is not enough. Excluded children are abandoned and they go on to the streets of our cities or in other communities. They are subject to the preying instinct of those who do not have their interests at heart. More importantly, they join other youngsters and form gangs. They engage in anti-social, anti-establishment and anti-school behaviour. That becomes the norm. That cannot be right.

Against that background, I hope that the Bill can be amended—

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

The hon. Gentleman has quoted my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), but he has done so selectively. What about the case of Rikki Neave, who knew nothing but brutality in his short life? If he had not died in such a dreadful way, he would undoubtedly have been one of the recipients of the sort of punishment that the hon. Gentleman is advocating. That child would have known only violence. Is it any surprise that such children end up as violent parents?

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I do not deny that children who are abused become abusers. I am merely saying that those of us who support the view—

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

If the hon. Lady will contain herself, I shall tell her.

Those of my hon. Friends who share my view say that corporal punishment—the cane—should be available to the head. It is for the head to make a judgment in the context of the case that is before him. Let the punishment fit the crime, as the Gilbert and Sullivan refrain goes.

I move on to clauses 3 to 5, which deal with the extension of grant-maintained powers. There is no doubt that grant-maintained schools and the policy behind them have been an outstanding success. I know that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) has visited my constituency from time to time to see the marvellous work that is being done in the area. We have nine grant-maintained schools, four grammar schools, some excellent high schools, a city technology college and an excellent 11-to-18 years of age comprehensive school. Dartford probably has a range, variety and choice of schools that is second to none throughout the country.

Under the Labour party's policies, that range, variety and choice would go. The Labour party says that we cannot have selection by interview or examination, but if schools cease to adopt that approach, they will become comprehensive. The Labour party has said that it will close the city technology college. We are told that grant-maintained status would be abolished. Accordingly, schools would revert to local education authority control. The prospect for my constituents is the onslaught of the comprehensive system, which we have fought against for so many years.

There is a particular feature of the grant-maintained system that I find especially attractive. I am surprised that Labour democrats do not. It is that parents vote for or against the grant-maintained system. There are examples where the vote has gone against even when it might have been in the interests of the schools involved to become grant-maintained. Whatever the outcome, where parents have voted we have seen a new dynamism established.

There is no doubt that in Kent the local education authority has had to work extremely hard to put itself in some sort of shape following the opting out of so many Kent schools, even though it is massively over-staffed, over-bureaucratised and over-politicised. We know that things will change in May next year when the Conservative party retakes control of the county council.

If, however, the policies of Labour Members were enacted, no parent would have the right, opportunity or freedom to exercise choice, unless they were very wealthy. The majority would be stuck with the comprehensive neighbourhood scheme, which we in Kent have fought against throughout our lives.

We heard from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) that he supported some aspects of the Bill, which he welcomed, as did the hon. Member for Bath. I have been in the House a long time—since 1979, but not long enough—and I remember that Labour voted against the Education Act 1979, the Education Act 1980, the Education Reform Act 1988—a massive measure, excellently taken through the House by me and others—the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990, the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the Education Act 1993, the Education Act 1994, the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Act 1986, and so on. Labour MPs are consistent in advancing a cosmetic theory in public: "Yes, we stand for parental rights and freedom of choice," but in truth when the issue comes along they are prepared to vote it down time and again.

In conclusion—I am reluctant to finish, because I am enjoying this—Labour would abolish grant-maintained schools, the assisted places scheme and city technology colleges and would draw back at least 10 per cent. from the budgets of existing grant-maintained schools by returning them to LEA control after abolishing the Funding Agency for Schools for England. Opposition Members should take a long, hard look at themselves. I dislike the word hypocrisy enormously, but what is more, I dislike it being practised in the name of the people.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby 6:50, 11 November 1996

Before I read the Education Bill, I was under the distinct impression that dinosaurs were extinct. I feel very much the same as my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor), in that I never thought, when I entered the House of Commons, that I would ever be faced with a renewal of the argument over selection.

Frankly, selection is not efficient for children's education, and if the Prime Minister thinks for one moment that it will be popular, he is sadly mistaken. It will be grossly unpopular, unless, of course—and this is always a possibility—grammar schools, as was the case when we had the 11-plus examination, contain fee-paying classes. Ten years ago, it might have been astonishing to think that anybody would suggest bringing back selection. If, by some misfortune, the Government were to be in power for another Parliament, I should not be surprised to see the reintroduction of prep school class forms 1 and 2, with fee payers entering the school. After all, through the ages, many Conservative Members have sent their sons and daughters to comprehensive schools. Many children of Conservative Members, past and present, were sent to comprehensive schools such as Eton and Harrow. So there is always a way out for them if their children do not pass the 11-plus examination.

I have my own experience of the 11-plus examination. Unlike the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), I passed the 11-plus. He failed—and it shows—but I was successful at a time when the only way of getting a better education in the city of Liverpool was by passing the 11-plus examination. I went to Alsop high school, which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle). I commend the education that I received there. It was excellent in every way, and I think that the House will agree that it shows.

That opportunity should have been open to all. Conservative Members fail to understand that children's educational development operates at different rates. Although a child's aptitude can be determined at the age of 11, his or her ability cannot be determined, bearing in mind the fact that, in two or three years' time, he or she might be assigned to what were secondary modern schools. If the Government's intentions to create more grammar schools are fulfilled, more and more of our children with no choice will be assigned to the equivalent of the old secondary modern schools.

What does selection mean in practice? It does not mean a society that is at ease with itself. It creates division among neighbours. I can remember when I passed the 11-plus, and children who had gone through primary classes together were divided. The point has already been made about the division that the 11-plus created within families, but it is worth repeating. Imagine it if one youngster in a family was successful in passing the 11-plus and then went to the grammar school, but a couple of years later the second child took the examination and failed. Many of our children were told at the age of 11 that they had no real ability.

The Conservative Government are keen on league tables. Frankly, if there were a league table for the Conservative Government's performance, they would just about be relegated to the Vauxhall Conference. But, of course, league tables will encourage something that already existed at the time of the 11-plus examination. Division took place not at 11-plus, but at seven-plus. When youngsters went from the infants' classes into the junior school, they were quickly segregated into an A and a B class. I was fortunate, as I went into an A class, so every Friday morning we would have tests that were based on the previous junior scholarship examination. That happened year after year from the age of seven.

The absurd suggestion has been made that there should be formal segregation at the primary stage. That will come in any case if the intentions in the Bill are realised. There is no plan for the number of grammar schools. All we are told by the Secretary of State is that any school can decide, although it was rather noticeable that when I questioned her and asked whether that meant that parents would be balloted, she did not answer. She merely said that each school would determine. How many grammar schools will there be in London; how many in Liverpool—fortunately for our Scottish friends, Glasgow is exempt from this—how many in Manchester; how many in Canterbury; how many in Oxford and so on? In the past, the proportion of children who gained a grammar school place differed from one part of the country to another. In Wales in the 1940s and early 1950s, 66 per cent. of children went to grammar schools.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

That is how I got into grammar school.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

I am glad that my hon. Friend was successful. I am sure that even if he had lived in Liverpool, where the proportion was only 7 per cent., he would still have qualified, because his intelligence shows. Segregation will also apply to teaching staff. Teachers will want to teach in grammar schools, where the children's motivation is likely to be better than that of children at secondary modern schools, many of whom will feel that they have been discarded at a young age.

There are alternatives. Conservative Members sometimes argue that it is necessary to push the brightest children. That can be and is being done in the comprehensive system. There are arguments against streaming, but nevertheless streaming occurs. There are sets in the comprehensive system. Indeed, at Alsop high school in Liverpool, which I attended, we had sets. A person could be in a lower set for chemistry and physics, and in a higher one for French and Spanish. The important thing was that the children were part of one community. We must not have elitism in our education system.

It is important to remember that educational achievement should not be interpreted only in terms of examination success. We should have regard to the success of teachers in teaching our children to see themselves as part of a wider community. Life in the community matters, and it is right for the son or daughter of a doctor to be educated in the same establishment as the son or daughter of a dock worker. That is what I mean by education for life in the community.

I spent a quarter of a century in further education. The intake was mainly young people of school-leaving age and older, many of whom had been through the secondary modern system. They attained many A-levels and went on to universities and training colleges. That proves that children and young people—perhaps all of us—develop at different rates. To segregate at 11 would be disastrous for the overwhelming majority of children. It is an ideology of elitism. All I can say to the Prime Minister is, "So much for the classless society."

Several hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Michael Morris Mr Michael Morris , Northampton South

Order. I remind hon. Members that until 9 pm speeches are restricted to 10 minutes.

Photo of Mr David Congdon Mr David Congdon , Croydon North East 7:04, 11 November 1996

I was pleased to listen to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), because in 1993 I served with him on the Committee considering the Education Bill. He referred to the provisions of that Bill as being in chaos and confusion. I am pleased that he has graduated from that, and is now referring to chaos and division. Perhaps he has changed his views on education since then and is now more enlightened.

The Bill is about raising standards. This country must have a well-educated work force if it is to compete in the global economy, about which we heard so much when the Foreign Secretary introduced his White Paper earlier. The education system must ensure that all youngsters reach their full potential, and that when they leave school, they are able to do not only what one expects an education system to enable them to do—read, write and add up—but more than that. It is crucial that they are able to communicate with other people and use information technology so that they are employable. It is a tragedy that too many children leave school and are not employable, because they have not developed those skills. That may be because of their lack of motivation at school after they have become disaffected, bad teaching and the fact that the curriculum is not relevant to their needs.

Much has been done to raise education standards, and I am delighted that the record of improvement at GCSE and A-level has been sustained. The number of children with five or more A to C grades has increased from 24 per cent. in 1979 to 43 per cent. in 1995, and the number with two or more A-levels is up from 14 per cent. in 1979 to 29 per cent. That is a great achievement, but there is more to be done.

That improvement has been achieved by the introduction of an element of competition into the education system through the publication of examination results. That was shunned by Opposition Members—we heard that view again just now. When he was Prime Minister, Lord Callaghan said that it was about time that we opened up the forbidden garden of education. What a fight that has been. It has been a fight over the dead bodies of Labour-controlled local education authorities up and down the country in the 1980s. They did everything possible to thwart the publication of results.

I regret to say that even today attempts are made deliberately to ensure that people are not provided with information about what goes on in the schools in their area. I read with great interest the recent article in The Daily Telegraph by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood). All he was trying to do was to find out what was going on in the schools of Berkshire. Only a limited number of schools responded positively: most of them resisted.

I welcome the proposals in the White Paper on base line testing. That is important, but I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to resist the siren voices of Opposition Members who say that the results of examinations and tests should be massaged by taking account of socio-economic factors. By all means publish those results alongside the basic figures, but I urge my hon. Friend to ensure that we publish the base figures for all the test results this summer of children aged 11 on a school-by-school basis, and that we resist attempts by the unions and head teachers to prevent their publication.

I also welcome the proposals in the Bill on inspections. I pay tribute to Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector, for what he has done to reform the inspectorate. He has had the courage to speak out about standards, and to take on the education establishment. I urge the Secretary of State to ensure that he gets full backing. I would like to see the Leader of the Opposition give a commitment to ensure that the chief inspector stays in post, and is not replaced by a weak-livered liberal who will do the education establishment's bidding.

The chief inspector is right to insist that primary schools concentrate on phonics to ensure that children are able to read. We must be careful to ensure that the inspectorate guarantees the delivery of good-quality education. Too often in the past, inspectors have undermined good-quality education.

A key part of the Bill deals with choice and diversity. I have always supported the case for a full range of schools, from comprehensives to grammar schools. In Croydon, I supported the establishment of a city technology college at the Harris school in Upper Norwood. It was interesting to note the way in which Labour Members serving on the Standing Committee considering the Bill that became the Education Act 1996 were prepared to finger that school and say that it was not achieving good examination results. I have not heard them praise it now that it is producing nearly 57 per cent. of youngsters with five GCSE passes graded A to C, but that is a tribute to the changes that have been brought about there.

Before it became a CTC, the school could attract only just over 40 first-choice applications from Croydon parents. It is now massively oversubscribed. Moreover, it selects not on the basis of ability, but across the ability range, and has a dyslexia unit. It deserves much praise for having introduced diversity.

I also welcome the proposals to allow schools to select more pupils on the basis of ability or aptitude. I do not believe that that constitutes the reintroduction of the 11-plus through the back door. Indeed, I would not support the reintroduction of the 11-plus, for a variety of reasons. It was too rigid. [Interruption.] It does not constitute the reintroduction of the 11-plus through the back door, in any shape or form—or through the front door. What it does is give schools the opportunity to decide whether they wish to select on the basis of ability or aptitude—and parents will have a choice. As was said just now, one of the problems is that under the current system, choice depends crucially on where people live.

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) mentioned Edenham school, in my constituency. It is a fact that, under the current arrangements, there are two very good grant-maintained schools in Shirley. They are massively oversubscribed—and good luck to them: they do a first-class job. Because they are so oversubscribed, however, parents in south Norwood and Woodside do not get a look in. Their choice is diminished. My reason for welcoming the decision of both those schools to select 15 per cent. of pupils on the basis of ability or aptitude is that it gives children in south Norwood and Woodside the chance of a place.

When Opposition Members talk about selection, we never hear about the damage that was wrought in inner London by the destruction of the grammar schools. I had the opportunity to go to a London county council primary school in what would be regarded today as a very deprived part of inner London. I went to Bellenden junior mixed infants school—which, I regret to say, is no longer a school. It is instructive to note that at that time there were four forms of entry, with 40 pupils in each class. There were no complaints then about the pupil-teacher ratio; no so-called alibis for failure there. A total of 160 children were admitted, and that school managed to get one whole form of entry—40 pupils—to grammar school. I happened to be one of the lucky ones: I managed to pass.

Why was that school able to achieve such success in those days? Because it ran a tough education system. It was determined to achieve high education standards, and it used discipline. What happens in such areas now does not compare with that. The Labour party has much to answer for, given the destruction of the inner London education system for which it was responsible. It has caused more social divisiveness in London, by forcing many parents to move into outer London.

Whether my hon. Friends want to consider corporal punishment is a separate issue, but I believe that we should look into the discipline that is available to staff in primary schools in particular. What does a teacher do when a seven-year-old is screaming his or her head off and throwing chairs around, and the teacher is not even allowed to smack that child? The House will have to return to that issue. Unless it does—

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth 7:13, 11 November 1996

The speech of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Congdon) lacked logic. He cannot be in favour of both selection and comprehensive education; that would not be educationally digestible. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the publication of results. I am in favour of an open education system, but my last two visits to education establishments in my constituency made me very angry about one aspect of the point that he made.

I visited Swinton special school for children with severe learning difficulties—a wonderful school, which I believe was mentioned in The Times Educational Supplement. It is a very happy school, with a splendid staff—a caring school—and the children do achieve, but they are of limited intellectual ability. In an earlier intervention, I said that it was too easy to label children. I find it rather sad that that school's results are published each year, and that each year it has no GCSE successes. The children would not be there if they were going to succeed at GCSE, so why on earth publish results for schools of that kind? It can have only a negative effect.

The other establishment that I visited was the Red Barn project, operated by the local authority and Barnardos. It deals with teenagers who have been expelled from school. The only reason that I mention that splendid project is that it demonstrates the cost of the Government's failure. While concentrating on children who may come from a middle-class background and an affluent area, who have job prospects and excellent environmental opportunities, and who can succeed, we forget the label that the Government place on the 50 per cent. who do not fall into that class. We tell them that they are stupid and unemployable. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-East referred to that. We tell them that they are members of an underclass. We are creating enormous problems by not providing adequate opportunities for our young people.

I was a schoolmaster for a long time. I started teaching at a secondary modern. There were 49 pupils in my first class. The hon. Member for Croydon, North-East said that people did not worry about classes of 40, but he probably did not realise that a good deal was being said by those teaching such classes. When I had been at the school for only about a year, I was the third most senior member of staff. In those days, it was possible to get rapid promotion.

For two years, I taught at a primary school to gain experience. I spent one of those years with a class of 40 but no classroom: we had more classes than rooms. When the weather was fine, that was all right, because I could go out into the sunshine, but when it rained the children were either in the school hall or the boys' cloakroom, seated under wet mackintoshes. I learnt a great deal about how to maintain order in school.

I find it repulsive that the reaction of Conservative Members—or a certain proportion of them—is to flog children. That is the same sort of reaction that we see from the authorities in Brazil, where the police exterminate poor children in the cities. This is a foolish approach. It is not the answer. The child who screamed—the child mentioned by the hon. Member for Croydon, North-East—had probably been struck many times, perhaps at home.

I will not identify any child—although you know what I am talking about, Mr. Deputy Speaker—but I have had a great deal of experience with a number of difficult children. One, whom I know very well, was tortured and abused in the most foul way. I believe that that is one reason why the Government allow video evidence in court. The abuse of that child was described as a monstrous event but, because of the care that he received, despite all his likely prospects, at the age of 20 he has now entered management and probably has many years of success in front of him. That boy would have been ruined if he had received further maltreatment. Much more sympathetic treatment is needed than some perverse Conservative Members would suggest.

In the early 1960s, after I was convinced of the case for comprehensive education, I fought for a change at a fine school in my area—a school that I attended, and beside which I still live. I refer to Wath upon Dearne grammar school. I led the fight for it to become a comprehensive. There was a terrific battle in the community. The headmaster, for whom I had enormous respect, was uneasy. I suggested that we should keep the 11-plus for a time and for some years we made special arrangements for that examination.

In 1971, in my first year in the House, the headmaster invited me to be the guest speaker on speech day. I wondered what he would say, because he could be sardonic and I thought that he might repay me for the battle that we had won to make that school a comprehensive. The audience knew about the battle and that we had forced the measure through. I was delighted when he said that he had not been enthusiastic but that, as a result of the decision, 92 young people who had failed the 11-plus had entered or were entering higher education. I felt vindicated.

If the Secretary of State for Wales sat the 11-plus at that time, he probably passed it. I noticed that he did not listen to the nonsense spoken by Conservative Members. The school that I am speaking about is his old school. It is a fine comprehensive. There is, however, great anxiety there because the provision for local government education is grossly inadequate. The Government have been consistent in providing ever more resources for the minority and ever fewer for the majority.

In areas such as mine, in inner cities and in the industrial parts of England, children see no opportunities, and local authorities are starved of the resources that could provide for our youth services, which are working on a shoestring. The provision of challenges and motivation is being grossly ignored. I fear that the local government financial settlement next year will apply so much pressure that local authorities will start to sell school playing fields and distribute the resources to avoid adding burdens.

The Government should think again about discipline, which is related to the response of children and their families. We ought to give more priority to teachers who can actively and positively relate to parents, especially those whose children are not co-operating. The Government have created sink schools and the Bill will make them sink further. [Interruption.] Conservative Members who cannot accept that should look at the structure of education in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon). It is divisive to select a huge proportion of children from bright homes in the more affluent parts of the town and leave the rest from the poor estates to work together with a staff who have perhaps not been consulted, inspired or encouraged and who see greater resources going to the wealthier people in the grant-maintained sector.

This is a fairly small island, and for more than 17 years the Government have foolishly pursued the policy of division at every opportunity. They are continuing that in the Bill, and Britain has already paid a high price for their divisive policy. One can only hope that it will not be pursued because a Government will be elected who will inject common sense into the approach to education instead of inflicting the burdens of bureaucracy and extremism.

I worked with some gifted teachers who secured better results in some subjects at O-level in a secondary modern school with 37 per cent. selection than did those whose pupils were selected. Anyone who talks to those people—

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

Order. The hon. Gentleman's time is up.

Photo of Mr Jacques Arnold Mr Jacques Arnold , Gravesham 7:23, 11 November 1996

Kent has had selective schools for decades and I can tell the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) that we have neither riotous behaviour nor sink schools. In addition, under the law, more money per child cannot be put into a grammar school than into any other. It is the quality of schooling that counts.

The Bill is about diversity, and in north-west Kent we know all about that. We have grammar, Church and high schools—both mixed and single sex—and a city technology college and children on the assisted places scheme. In my constituency, seven of the eight secondary schools are grant-maintained by the specific choice of the parents, and three primary schools have also become grant-maintained. Considerable damage would be caused if a Labour Government were returned next year.

We heard the hostility of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) to grammar schools. For his information, let me tell him that 25 per cent. of the youngsters in my constituency go on to grammar school and the other 75 per cent. go to good schools, not to sink schools. When the Labour-Liberal coalition took over Kent county council, its hostility to grammar schools, which was reflected in the speeches by the Labour and Liberal Democrat spokesmen in the debate, would have led it to close those schools, but it could not. The support of the parents was such that the two grammar schools in my constituency went grant-maintained. Under a Labour Government, those schools would be vulnerable and subject to the Opposition's tendency to abolish them.

I am also concerned about the threat that a Labour Government would pose to our secondary Church schools, which are also popular because parents expect certain standards from them. Labour is already undermining those schools because the policies of the Liberal-Labour county council are curtailing the availability of school transport. That is best exemplified in the pernicious policy that is being exercised in the establishment of a new secondary school at Swanscombe. Many children at Church schools would lose their free bus passes. A Labour Government would close our city technology colleges and our assisted places scheme, under which many youngsters go to the excellent Cobham Hall school. By their abolition of grant-maintained schools, a Labour Government would claw back 10 per cent. of school funding in my constituency and would impose hostile political governors. The choice in education in my constituency is clear. It would be damaged by a Labour Government.

The Bill contains a proposal to monitor local education authorities. I should welcome a searching inspection of Kent local education authority. Over the past few years, the further education colleges have gone and 50 per cent. of Kent's secondary schools have become grant-maintained. The careers service in Kent county council has been closed, but administration in the local education authority has not reduced proportionately. There has been a sudden flurry of conferences and propaganda and other activities that result in considerable expense to the authority and waste an immense amount of time of its officers.

We all know about Parkinson's law filling the time that is available. As I said earlier, Kent county council is controlled by a Labour-Liberal coalition. One can believe either that the council has been led by the nose by officers who want to retain their jobs or that it is guilty of straight, crass incompetence. I should welcome an inspection if it led to a shrinkage of the bureaucracy at county hall and at Springfield. If the money thus saved were released, it could go to the sharp end in the schools and that would be a vast improvement.

What does that vast education bureaucracy provide? I shall relate an anecdote about what happened when St. George's Church of England comprehensive school in my constituency proposed to go grant-maintained. I rhetorically asked Rev. Joe King, the chairman of the governors, how he would manage without the expertise and specialist support of the local education authority. I would have expected him to value LEA support. After all, he is a Labour supporter and endorsed my Labour opponent at the last general election. However, that reverend gentleman scoffed. He said, "We can make much better use of the education funds." He led parents to vote for grant-maintained status and the school has gone from strength to strength.

I support in particular the clauses relating to school discipline. We expect teachers to maintain discipline in our schools, yet one of the most deplorable trends since the 1960s has been the decline in teachers' authority. We have progressively stripped them of sanctions and put in doubt the back-up that they should be able to expect from the authorities.

It is not surprising that a vast number of teachers have joined trade unions in search of protection in case they are taken to court or are subject to disciplinary procedures arising from complaints by children or parents. That joining of trade unions does not exactly enhance their professional status.

All that has gone hand in glove with the growth of rights, but the withering of duties, particularly the duty of children, and indeed of parents, to obey authority when they are in school premises. That is why I welcome the Bill's specific provisions for home-school agreements, their scope for enforcing the framework of discipline, the extension of detention powers and the extension of terms of exclusion from a maximum of 15 days to 45 days in any term.

An important provision is strengthening schools' right to be represented on appeal committees and for those committees to have regard for the interests of other pupils and of the staff at schools. In a school, nothing corrodes authority more than if a head teacher is overruled and the child returns to the school, where he metaphorically or even actually thumbs his nose at the head teacher. That child learns the wrong lessons.

I support the proposals to set up management committees to oversee the running of pupil referral units. It is vital that the units should properly educate and civilise excluded pupils. We need their time to be filled effectively and rigorously. My hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) has pointed out what happens when children are excluded and not properly supervised. They run riot and develop into gangs, with all the problems that that causes. I welcome in particular the opportunities that have been trailered for an amendment from my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey).

I remember serving on an education committee in 1982, when corporal punishment in schools was abolished. I asked the proponents of its abolition to define an alternative sanction that would be just as effective and that would be introduced. They failed to do so and I voted against the abolition.

Significantly, however, I had the verbal support of representatives of various teachers' and head teachers' unions. They supported my argument, but trotted off and voted for the Labour party proposals. The teachers in our schools are lumbered with the consequences and we are reaping a bitter harvest.

Corporal punishment should be a sanction in a head teacher's armoury because it is a deterrent to most children and it provides swift and painful justice, if the head teacher considers that that penalty would be effective. Many people argue that the restoration would contravene the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the 1982 Campbell and Cosans case. That ruling gives parents a right to insist that corporal punishment should not be inflicted on their children at school. The home-school agreements give a magnificent opportunity to include specific parental acceptance of corporal punishment. That should meet the requirements of the European convention on human rights. If it does not, we should withdraw from that convention. In the Adjournment debate on 6 March, I gave chapter and verse on why we could and should withdraw from it.

I support the Bill for all it does to extend choice and diversity for parents, to raise standards and to improve discipline.

Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright , Cannock and Burntwood 7:33, 11 November 1996

I had expected the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to have a little list of Labour Members that she would proceed to read to us and to be on that little list. On both counts, I was not disappointed. We had not only the first but the second reading of the list and I predict that, at the close of play today, we shall have the third reading.

Photo of Tony Wright Tony Wright , Cannock and Burntwood

We shall have to wait and see.

I should like to talk less as a politician and slightly more as a parent, whose voice perhaps has not been heard much in the debate. If I may put it like this without being misunderstood, I should like to talk as a promiscuous parent—that is, a parent who has been through a variety of schools. A quick list would reveal voluntary aided schools, county schools, local education authority schools, grant-maintained schools, selective and non-selective schools, single-sex schools, co-education schools, schools that have balloted to stay within the LEA and schools that have balloted to leave it—and we probably have not finished yet.

I suspect that, in doing that, I simply reflect the experiences of a good number of parents in Britain who, unfortunately—or fortunately—do not live their lives according to the ideological exchanges that are visible and that are heard in debates such as this. They do it instead in terms of their children's interests and in the circumstances in which they happen to find themselves, which often are not chosen. I take it that that is what any responsible parent would and should do. The job of Government, both nationally and locally, is to ensure that the choices for parents are real and available.

As my experience has been raised twice by the Secretary of State, may I tell hon. Members a little more about it? It may help the debate. My wife and I chose to live in the city of Birmingham because of work. We did not have any children and did not worry about schools. We then discovered that the city had a system of grammar schools that took about 10 per cent. of the children.

In the city, the dinner table conversation among parents who worry about these things centred around what they would do when their children reached the age of 11. Many parents hoped that they would no longer be in the city at that time. They did not want to face a choice that they thought their generation had banished for good.

Ironically, some people moved to neighbouring authorities. Solihull, I remember, was a favourite because it had a developed a successful comprehensive school system. It happened also to be a solid Conservative borough in those days. What was interesting about Solihull was that, when some years ago the Conservative local authority had the idea of reintroducing selection and starting up grammar schools again, the people of Solihull rose up as a man and a woman and said, "Over our dead bodies you will do that because we have a successful comprehensive system here, to which all our children have access. We do not want any system that would deprive our children of such a system."

Consider what the choice was and what the choice was not. Not only I, but many other people were faced with that position. The choice that I really wanted was of a quality comprehensive system. That was the one choice that was not available. I had a choice between a system that creamed off 10 per cent. of children and a residual system, with poor results and poor performance.

We had to ask ourselves only two questions. Would those grammar schools have a helpful or unhelpful effect on other schools in the authority? We had to consider the performance of those schools to find the answer, which was clear. A second useful question was: if I were a teacher, would I want to teach in a system that had removed the top 10 per cent. of the ability range from my classes? I would not. That told us something about the system. The choice that parents had was whether to remove their children from those little tables at which they sat in primary school with their friends, working in appropriate work groups and send them to this or that school. Should they go to the selective schools—not chosen, but enforced—or to other schools? We did not have the choice to continue the good-quality comprehensive primary schooling at secondary level.

It is odd that we have a system that works well at the primary level, through mixed-ability comprehensive schooling, but that that system then apparently poses a problem at the secondary level. If we can provide successful, differentiated education at the primary level, why cannot we do so at the secondary level? Why do we suddenly move from an orthodoxy at the primary level to regarding that as a problem at the secondary level? We get ourselves into all sorts of difficulties in talking about those matters.

Of course, selection is endemic in any school system. We select schools when we visit them, evaluate them and choose them. We select schools when we choose the areas in which we want to live. We select children—the curriculum word is "differentiation"—when we teach different children differently. That is appropriate selection.

I am fairly obsessive about education—not simply as a parent, but as someone who has been involved in education for many years. I want everybody to be obsessive about education. I am obsessive about it not just for my own children, but for everyone else's children. That is the real test of public policy. I am not impressed by league tables that show me that the schools that two of my children attended are at the top of the league tables, any more than I would be impressed by a system that allowed general practitioners to choose only healthy patients and then to produce tables showing which GPs had the healthiest patients. It would be absurd and would be seen to be absurd, yet we refuse to acknowledge the absurdity when it comes to schools.

The tragedy is that we have known for years and years—indeed, it is simple common sense—what makes effective schools. We know what sort of organisation produces them; we know the role of head teachers, of expectations and of resources. We know all the things that make effective schools. Surely, therefore, the public policy conclusion must be to ensure that everybody has the choice of an effective school in his area. We should not provide more exit routes for people to get out of one school and into another. That is ruinous for children and for society.

What I want for me and for others is a choice of good-quality schools that have all the ingredients going for them. I want the sort of school that Chris Woodhead, for whom I have a good deal of respect, visited in my constituency last week—Redhill primary school. It serves one of the most difficult areas in my constituency, which includes a deprived, demoralised estate with vast numbers of unemployed people and broken families. It is the sort of school that should pose problems, but I wanted Mr. Woodhead to go there because it is actually one of the most outstandingly successful schools that I have visited. He wrote to me and the school after his visit saying: I've rarely enjoyed a school visit more. The energy and enthusiasm of the staff coupled with the positive attitudes displayed by the children impressed me enormously. It showed me, once again, what can be achieved through strong leadership. I'm sure you'll go from strength to strength". If that can be done in that school, in principle it can be done in every school in the land—

Photo of Mr Andrew Rowe Mr Andrew Rowe , Kent Mid 7:44, 11 November 1996

The problem with a debate such as this is that most of the argument consists of saying, "This happened after this and therefore must be caused by this." It is the good old post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument. In fact, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) said that the reason why one in three pupils now go on to higher education is that 90 per cent. of schools are comprehensive and therefore it is all entirely thanks to the Labour party. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he is so proud of the fact that 90 per cent. of schools are comprehensive as a direct consequence of the Labour party and if he is so worried about the way that the education system is going, it is not unreasonable for Conservative Members to continue to point out that the schools are substantially run by that self-same Labour party with its Liberal allies. If the system is failing so many children, it is perfectly reasonable to claim that the Labour party is responsible for that—just as it is trying to claim that it is responsible for one in three pupils going on to higher education.

Like other hon. Members, I want to spend a little time talking about discipline. We should spend rather more time supporting the teaching profession rather than attacking it. Most teachers have a fairly rough time. It is difficult to teach in any circumstances, but it is much harder to teach when we have, for various reasons, adopted a policy that as many children as possible should be included in as many as possible classes in mainstream education. It means that a great deal of the time of teachers is disproportionately spent containing children who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to fit into conventional education.

We do not do nearly enough to facilitate peer support for teachers. Teachers who have a problem should not feel ashamed to talk to their colleagues in other local schools, who have had a similar problem, about how to resolve it. We should do a great deal more to facilitate that as it would be very helpful.

I have said for many years that, as we all know, the key figure in developing education in a school is the head teacher. We should take a leaf out of the armed services' book and identify people who are likely to become head teachers and give them the experience of some form of staff college, where they could meet others, learn strategies and learn how to cope. I have tried hard to develop that plan and came very close to doing so with a private benefactor, but sadly he withdrew at the last moment.

It is not attacking teachers to say that we must continue to make it easier quickly to get rid of teachers who, for whatever reason, do not measure up to the job. There is far too much defence of inadequate teachers. Teachers who are finding it difficult to teach should, instead of going through some long union-backed controversy over whether they should have early retirement, be given the much easier option of going out of teaching for a while and then coming back or being retrained in some way without any stigma being associated with that. There are many reasons why, at certain times, teachers feel that teaching in a class is too much for them.

This House should do rather less of trying to teach teachers how to teach. Now that we have in place a measure of whether schools are delivering, we should spend less time wondering how teachers deliver. If they are delivering good results, I do not care whether some of them are doing so by chalk and talk, some by project work and some by team work; I am concerned about the output, not the input. The input should be a matter of professional judgment.

I believe that the Office for Standards in Education is absolutely right—in the case of Ridings school and in other cases—to point out that there is no discipline problem in schools in which classes are well taught, and that, if children's attention is engaged, most of the time there is not a discipline problem. As I said, we must support, encourage and retrain teachers who are finding it difficult to teach well.

I believe that we should look rather more carefully at the policy of integrating so many children into mainstream classes so often, because it puts an enormous pressure on even the most highly motivated teacher. The other day, I spoke to a textile teacher who could not allow one child on to a sewing machine, as he would probably hurt himself, although she could let him participate in the art class, because he can draw peacefully. The problem is that the child might then feel discriminated against. Just as we have rethought the issue of asylums for mentally ill patients, we should re-examine this issue to discover whether we are asking teachers to take too many children into the mainstream.

I believe—it will come as no surprise to my hon. Friend the Minister of State—that we should continue to encourage, and extend enormously, the use of volunteers in schools. Community Service Volunteers—of which I am a trustee—has developed a strategy for persuading local firms to release some of their employees into local schools during the lunch hour. The programme is enormously supportive of schools and of children, who may be slow learners or very fast learners. It is also extraordinarily good for employees, who learn many new skills which they had not realised that they had.

In the current climate, the idea of reintroducing corporal punishment in schools is absurd. The proposition that children—most of whom have had far too much violence in their background—should be beaten at school is absurd. In principle, I am not against corporal punishment in cases in which schools are supportive of pupils, pupils understand the use of it and parents support it. Most of the children we are talking about beating, however, are not in that situation. Moreover, their parents would be grossly unsupportive.

I do not think that we are doing nearly enough about peer learning and service learning. It has been well demonstrated that if one teaches someone something didactically, those taught will retain about 5 per cent. of the subject matter. If they are then asked to demonstrate what has been learnt, they retain about 15 per cent. of it. If they are then encouraged to teach what they have learnt to another child, they will retain about 75 or 80 per cent. of it. I believe that there is enormous scope for using in schools older children, and university students who volunteer, to reinforce what children are learning. Children who find it difficult to turn up regularly at school are greatly motivated to come in if they have a younger child dependent on their appearance for a little extra coaching.

Service learning also has enormous potential. Service learning is regarded by many schools as a very valuable extra add-on if they have the time. However, going out into the community, measuring old people's homes and backyards, estimating quantities of paint, for example, and then buying it not only motivates children—who suddenly see the point of all that boring mathematics or geometry—but bridges the gap between the generations in a community. It brings the community and the school together. Service learning, far from being a bolt-on extra, is fundamental to learning.

I do not know why indiscipline has increased, but perhaps it is partly due to the fact that children are entering puberty earlier, they have greater physical size and strength than they had before and they have a much longer period without being entrusted with responsibility. It is very interesting that schools that have done best at getting rid of bullying are the schools that have asked children to take a substantial responsibility. We do not trust our children with nearly enough responsibility.

Photo of Mr Cynog Dafis Mr Cynog Dafis , Ceredigion and Pembroke North 7:53, 11 November 1996

I have already spoken on the Education Bill, in last week's Queen's Speech debate, so I shall be brief. I agree entirely with the emphasis that all hon. Members and the Government have placed on standards. We live in a time of tremendous challenge and constant change. The creation of a learning society is essential, and education has become a crucial Government function and responsibility.

The Government have decided that they wish to encourage higher standards through the establishment of competition. They wish to encourage competition among schools, which will compete for pupils; among parents and children, who will compete for places in schools; and among service providers, who will compete to provide services to schools. All of that is backed up by a testing regime for pupils, which is geared to the publication of league tables and is supposed to provide information in the competitive process. On top of that, there is an inspection regime, which is intended to keep teachers on their toes in this competitive race.

As I have argued before, I believe that that is a seriously dysfunctional model. It is not relevant to Wales, and it is not acceptable in Wales. However, that is not to deny the need for processes to achieve excellence, rigour and rising standards in our schools. In this debate, I should like to examine some of the Bill's provisions and consider how relevant or irrelevant they might be in creating a system for ensuring excellence in schools in Wales—a pattern that, at some stage, might be emulated, even in England.

Part VII of the Bill provides for the creation of a Qualifications and National Curriculum Authority by merging the two bodies that currently cover curriculum in schools and vocational qualifications. That is a step in the right direction. If we are legislating for the needs of Wales, however—which is what we are supposed to be doing—we must be far more radical. Currently there is an inefficient division of functions in Wales, with an inefficient organisational structure to match. There is every reason for merging the Qualifications, Curriculum and National Authority—the new body—and the Welsh Joint Education Committee, to provide a single body that is responsible for assessment, testing and examination. Such a change would achieve the same results, because a merged body would perform the same functions.

The same body would be responsible for curriculum development. Is it not right to link curriculum development with assessment of how the curriculum is being delivered? It would give us a far more efficient—including cost-efficient—cohesive and effective approach.

More controversially, I would incorporate into the merged body—albeit in distinct departments—two other functions: an inspectorate, which is currently based at the Welsh Office; and the advisory services that are currently provided, at least in part, by local authorities.

Following local government reorganisation, provision of advisory services is problematic, because local authorities are smaller and simply do not have the economies of scale to provide the range of services that the old counties had. Authorities are obliged to set up ad hoc, cross-border arrangements, which are inherently unsatisfactory. I think that a high-quality advisory service can be achieved if it is operated at an all-Wales level, although many of its personnel would be placed locally.

The inspection process within my model would be very different from the current, threatening—it is threatening, as teachers' experience tells us—model. The inspection process in my model would involve constant, interactive inspection, with the provision of support, advice and professional development.

The Welsh education body that we would create, which could be called CAIG—Cyngor Addysg I Gymru—would consist not of Welsh Office appointees, but of the representatives of interested parties, particularly local authorities. The integration of functions at an all-Wales level would make good sense and would provide a powerful mechanism for raising standards, which is much needed in some parts of Wales.

I support the proposals in part VI for compulsory base line testing. I have no difficulty with that. Base line testing and comparisons based on the information gathered from it are essential to monitor the progress of individual pupils and to identify their needs, as well as to monitor the effectiveness of schools in achieving pupils' cognitive development at various stages. The subsequent test results would give information on schools' successes. Those results would have to be provided to CAIG, our Welsh education council, which would have the power to intervene to provide analysis of the reasons for any failure and to offer support.

Part VIII provides for the inspection of some local education authority functions by the current inspection system. Using the existing inspectorate is objectionable. Local education authorities are democratic bodies and are already subjected to too much central Government diktat. My party's proposals for CAIG include the provision of advice and expert analysis to local education authorities in their administrative functions and to governing bodies, which certainly need such advice and support. The aim is to encourage efficiency and good practice. That would not be an imposition on local authorities, because CAIG would be their organisation, and would also contain representatives of governing bodies.

I oppose the provisions in part IV to encourage the growth of the grant-maintained sector. Local education authorities alone should be responsible for funding public sector schools, which are the majority in Wales, where we have a very small private sector, and for strategic functions. However, that should be within a national framework, because education, as we say, is a national service delivered locally. The national level should therefore have an input on the way in which that strategic function should be discharged. In any case, the funding for schools comes largely from the block grant.

It is therefore important for local education authorities to be able to show that they have an effective strategy for providing places in their areas. They should be obliged to provide central Government—whether in the United Kingdom as a whole or a Welsh central Government—with a schools structure plan, just as they currently have to bring forward a structure plan for the planning process. That would form part of the discussion in the negotiation process for allocating block grant.

There will be opportunities at a later stage to elaborate on some of the ideas that would help to create a first-rate education system in my country, Wales. I would like to believe that the Bill could be amended to incorporate some of them, but you will understand my scepticism on that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Nevertheless, I hope to table some amendments later for more detailed debate.

I hope that we shall soon be able to legislate specifically for the Welsh education system from the right place—from Wales, not from here. The quality of the Bill shows the need for that.

Photo of Mr Michael Carttiss Mr Michael Carttiss , Great Yarmouth 8:04, 11 November 1996

The hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) said that she had heard all the arguments about selection 30 years ago. So have we all. The argument today, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out when introducing the Bill this afternoon, is not about dividing children in an 11-plus examination between grammar and secondary modern schools, as the hon. Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) seem to imagine. It is about a genuine endeavour to relate schools to certain strengths and giving children the opportunity to develop their strengths to the full in the most favourable educational environment for the subjects for which they have special talents—be they languages, technology, music or science. I do not need to read the Bill again to know that, in establishing grammar schools, we are not talking about establishing secondary moderns. All the arguments from Opposition Members on that showed that old-fashioned socialism is still as strong as ever.

The ability to develop strengths in certain subjects and to specialise in them is one of the great advantages of the new grant-maintained system, which the Bill will enhance. One of the first schools in Norfolk to take advantage of the 1988 legislation that created grant-maintained status was the West Flegg middle school in Martham, in my constituency. That school has gone forward from success to success.

I would welcome a visit by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) and his Front-Bench colleagues to that school. They might like to make some vain efforts to help my local Labour candidate, who will need all the help that he can get from them. If they took time off to visit West Flegg school, which serves a district that is in no way affluent—quite the reverse—perhaps they would change their minds about abolishing the grant-maintained system. That supposes that they are susceptible to considering issues objectively in the interests of the children whom we are all here to represent rather than from the point of view of the socialist dogma that we hear all the time from them, despite new Labour.

There are six comprehensive high schools in my constituency. There are no grammar schools or special schools such as those that some of my hon. Friends representing larger areas have described. Five of those schools have grant-maintained status. If that proportion of grant-maintained schools to local authority schools were replicated in every constituency in England and Wales, our education system would be truly responsive to local community needs and to parents' requirements of choice and high standards.

I welcome the Bill's proposals on discipline. I listened to the interview of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the Radio 4 "Today" programme, when she said that she was not against the use of the cane in schools. When pressed on the issue, she said that any amendments to the Bill would be looked at. I did not interpret that as meaning that the Government had changed their policy. I interpreted it as a Minister with an open mind being ready to look at other proposals made by my right hon. and hon. Friends in addition to those suggested by the Government. Only a weak Minister would refuse to consider any amendments put forward by her right hon. and hon. Friends.

I do not think that corporal punishment is the answer to the discipline problem. I went to a school in the 1950s where the cane was rarely used. I taught in a school in the 1960s where the cane was often used. I taught in another school where it was banned by the headmaster and was not available to the teachers. I cannot say that the standards of behaviour were significantly different in any of those schools. I do not think that the cane is a significant factor in discipline. Discipline needs the right sort of teachers and proper training. It is not about class size—we have heard that the Ridings school had a good teacher-pupil ratio—but about the quality of teachers. Nevertheless, it is wrong for politicians to tell schools that the cane is a sanction that they must not use. We should make it available to schools, but whether they want to use it is very much for them to determine. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) that it might be an alternative to suspension. If it were to prove effective in dealing with unacceptable behaviour, it would be an improvement on barring a child from school.

I welcome the fact that the Bill will strengthen the ability of schools to deal with pupils' bad behaviour and that it will place a duty on local education authorities—this is one of its most important aspects—to draw up and publish a plan setting out what forms of support they will provide for schools to deal with disruptive pupils. Far too often a school decides that certain pupils should not be there but there is nowhere suitable for those children to go. I again agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth that they are the very pupils for whom we should be providing places. If the cane will encourage some disruptive children to behave better, the facility should be available to schools.

I welcome the objective of promoting diversity among schools and choice for parents and of giving grant-maintained schools more power to develop their identity without central approval. However, I have one caveat with regard to central approval. It relates to the power to establish sixth forms at grant-maintained schools which do not already have them. I am happy that that power should exist but I sound a cautionary note—such sixth forms must be viable and capable of offering a wide range of choices for post-16 education.

If the five grant-maintained schools in my constituency all opted to have their own sixth forms, there could be major problems and we could end up with less choice of sixth form subjects, especially for pupils preparing for university, than is now provided by our sixth form college and our college of further education. Resources could be a problem, and we need assurances from the Secretary of State about where the money is to come from. It is all very well to give grant-maintained schools the power to set up their own sixth forms, but one has to have the money to provide the staff and other resources needed for post-16 education.

Other than that one reservation about removing from the Secretary of State the power to consider and approve or reject proposals for a school to set up a sixth form—I hope that the issue can be dealt with in Committee—I am happy to give the Bill my full support.

Photo of Mr Colin Pickthall Mr Colin Pickthall , West Lancashire 8:11, 11 November 1996

I pick up on the remarks of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Congdon), who said that a future of Secretary of State should inspect the role of Mr. Christopher Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools. I hope that, in doing so, the future Secretary of State will consider the cost of reinspecting primary teacher education undertaken when the results of the first inspection did not prove satisfactory to the Government. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider the motivation behind the choice of institution to be inspected, the decision to add others and the alteration of inspection reports by Mr. Woodhead and that, having done that, he will sack him.

The problem for local education authorities has always been to balance parental choice with adequate provision for all children in the right places. In other words, the task of the LEAs has been to create a system as close as possible to a universal service in which no child is disadvantaged or short-changed. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) was right to point out the huge responsibilities of LEAs in this respect and right to say that it is not always the Government's fault when things go wrong. LEAs get it wrong sometimes, governors get it wrong sometimes and the Government get it wrong most of the time.

Virtually every Tory education reform of the past 17 years has made the balance that LEAs should be trying to achieve less and less possible and made real choice for the majority of parents and children more and more difficult.

We are now in an era of admissions by appeals panel. Many local education authorities and secondary schools are already wrestling with the destructive consequences of raw league tables. Fluctuating results cause fluctuating intakes, which leads to loss of revenue and, in turn, to more difficulty in raising a school's position in the league table. That ratchet effect leads inexorably to the creation of what have this evening been called sink schools.

Some schools seek to avoid taking pupils with special educational needs or those with disabilities as they foresee damage to their league table position. Some schools even take extraordinary steps to get rid of pupils halfway through their secondary career—often at enormous expense to the local authorities involved—if they think that those pupils might damage their league table position.

Any school is likely to have a bad year, just as any school is likely to have a good year. The consequences of that are serious not only for the school itself but for neighbouring schools with which it has been forced to compete for numbers and, therefore, of course, for revenue. The creation of grant-maintained schools and city technology colleges has, in some areas, exacerbated the problem. Their extra funding and enhanced status has further destabilised the education system in those areas. The Bill will accelerate selection, which is not only massively unpopular with the population at large but exacerbates the ratchet effect on schools that are already less favoured.

The proposal to give the Funding Agency for Schools powers to initiate grant-maintained schools anywhere effectively gives the FAS the right to extend its own statutory powers where it can trigger the 10 per cent. requirement. The proposal in clause 3 to allow grant-maintained schools to expand by up to 50 per cent., and the proposal in clause 4 to allow them to select up to 50 per cent. in secondary schools and 20 per cent. in primaries, without the requirement to publish statutory proposals, is a further complication of any LEA's ability to plan provision sensibly.

This Conservative Government have always seemed to believe that schools operate in isolation and that if any school at any time has got it right and is content in itself—good luck to any school that is—that is the end of the story. However, schools do not exist in isolation—at least not many do so. In fact, they exist in competition with each other. What happens to them—how they change and fluctuate—affects all the others around them, hence the need for debates and inquiries. A detailed consultation is taking place in my own town of Ormskirk, where it is sensibly being proposed to amalgamate the grammar school—it is called a grammar school, but it is in fact a comprehensive—with another comprehensive.

The proposal to allow county and voluntary schools to select 20 per cent.—or 30 per cent. at special schools—without publishing statutory proposals goes even further in destabilising the system. Grant-maintained schools' new powers to create nursery classes and sixth forms will, as has been said, disrupt not only the planning of admissions by schools all around them but the planning of FE colleges in the neighbourhood, at least in respect of sixth forms. Schools that resist selection are close to being forced into accepting it by clause 2, which will initiate a compulsory annual review by governors of selection proposals.

What a school does in terms of selection or of increasing admissions has a profound effect on all surrounding schools; perfectly good schools can be destroyed through no fault of their own. At least the statutory publication of the intention to change allowed the knock-on effects to be analysed and debated, but of course such debate does not suit the Government's purpose, which is to introduce not a two-tier system—I agree with the Secretary of State on that—but a three-tier system, of grant-maintained schools, county and voluntary schools that select, and non-selective schools that will become a version of secondary moderns. In effect, the comprehensive system will be ended.

Many Conservative Members say that it is possible to have selective and comprehensive schools in the same area, but logically that is nonsense; a comprehensive school cannot exist alongside selective schools—we could call it something else, but it would not be a comprehensive school. What is worse, the Government's proposals could create a two-tier system within schools, the tiers consisting of the 20 per cent., say, who are selected, and the others—two different species within the same walls.

The Government want to create a system in which schools select pupils—that cannot be reiterated too often—and in which only a minority of parents and pupils will select their schools. In the Queen's Speech debate on education, the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth said: Schools should have a greater say in choosing the children whom they take in.

Photo of Mr Colin Pickthall Mr Colin Pickthall , West Lancashire

I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon; it was the right hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Dame A. Rumbold). The hon. Gentleman in fact said: The new education Bill will give schools greater freedom to select pupils by ability."—[Official Report, 29 October 1996; Vol. 284, c. 483, 502.] That is all about the right of schools—but only certain schools—to select pupils; it does not enhance parental choice except for the relatively few parents who are confident that their children are sufficiently intelligent, well dressed and well spoken to be selected.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the whole nasty process has only two fundamental reasons for existence. The first is to destabilise and destroy local education authorities and their power to plan education in their areas. The Government should come out and say, as the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth surely would, that they want to destroy local education authorities and to centralise everything; that would at least be honest.

The second reason—

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington , Aylesbury 8:22, 11 November 1996

The test of the Bill is whether and to what extent it succeeds in driving up education standards of achievement throughout the state sector. I am especially glad that the Government have decided to implement the recommendations of the Dearing review of education for 14 to 19-year-olds and merge the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, because that administrative change is part of a necessary drive by Government, local education authorities and the teaching profession to improve standards for that age group.

I disagree with much of what I have heard from Opposition Members in the debate, but I agree that the education system has provided a good standard of education for the academically gifted ever since the Education Act 1944, and perhaps before; that was achieved not only through the traditional grammar school sector, but—let us be honest with ourselves—through the better comprehensive schools. But however secondary education has been organised, we have failed as a nation to match the achievements of our European and other competitor nations in providing a high-quality education for children in their early to middle teens who are not best suited to traditional academic courses.

One of the great achievements of the Government's reforms of recent years is the introduction of the general national vocational qualification. When the new authority is established, it should do everything possible to strengthen both the rigour and the reputation of the GNVQ. It is nonsensical for us to be in the position to which Dearing drew attention, in which about 16,000 different qualifications are available for 16 to 19-year-old students, and universities and employers alike are faced with a blizzard of acronyms and certificates, the worth of which they do not understand.

In recent months, I have visited several schools in my constituency that have been introducing the GNVQ. In those schools, including one special school and three upper schools—they might traditionally have been described as secondary moderns, as Buckinghamshire has a selective system of secondary education—I was struck by the fact that students were motivated to tackle a course that seemed to them to be demanding, interesting and relevant to what they hoped to do after school. Their teachers were full of enthusiasm about what the new course could enable them to help their students to achieve.

The GNVQ is giving 16-year-olds at upper schools in Buckinghamshire an incentive to come back to school after GCSEs, not because they are unable to get jobs or to find anything better to do but because the course stimulates their ambitions and drives them on to achievements greater than those of which they had previously believed themselves capable.

That experience in Buckinghamshire gives the lie to some of what we heard from Labour Members today. I found most dismaying their crude and misleading caricature of selection by aptitude, which forms part of the Government's programme. From the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on, we heard speeches resting on two misapprehensions. First, there was the apparently wilful disregard for the unfairness of selection by mortgage, which happens in an area where people rely entirely on the neighbourhood comprehensive. When I was the governor of a north London comprehensive in the early 1980s, I saw parents desperately visiting estate agents to find a house on the right side of the road so that they could be in the catchment area of the popular school in the borough.

Secondly, unjustifiable support was given to the myth that only the traditional selective grammar schools can achieve great things for their pupils. I am an admirer of what grammar schools in my constituency and elsewhere in Buckinghamshire are achieving, but the upper schools are also staffed by dedicated professional teachers who are equally committed to educating their charges in the fullest sense and drawing out of them everything of which they are capable.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), will know that Holmer Green upper school in her constituency was singled out by the chief inspector of schools in his annual report as one of the 200 schools that deserved praise for outstanding achievement. In a selective system, that school admits pupils who are not the most academically gifted.

I hope that we can move towards a system incorporating the national curriculum and specialisms that vary from one school to another, with one school offering languages, another computer science and another the fine arts, in addition to the core curriculum prescribed by statute and by order.

Since 1944, secondary moderns have been seen as the dumping ground—schools that could never do well for their pupils. Instead of putting that right, we decided to break up the grammar school system that was achieving results for its pupils. We tackled the problem from the wrong end.

I hope that in future my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will push the experiment further. We need to look closely at the experiment with charter schools in the United States, to see whether it provides a precedent that we might usefully copy. I am also attracted by some of the ideas proposed in a characteristically stimulating and idiosyncratic way by my constituency neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden). Although the hon. Member for Brightside was keen to quote a couple of remarks by my hon. Friend out of context, he omitted to mention my hon. Friend's utter commitment to selection and the restoration of something equivalent to the old direct grant schools.

Education is about developing all the talents, abilities and faculties of every young man and woman in Britain. To achieve that, we need to develop a culture of high expectation among teachers, parents, local education authorities and the students themselves. I support the Bill because I believe that it will contribute to that objective.

Photo of Mr David Hinchliffe Mr David Hinchliffe , Wakefield 8:31, 11 November 1996

I shall pick up two concepts that underpin the Government's thinking on the Bill: choice and selection. I speak not as an expert on the education system, but as someone whose experience of it marred my outlook on education for life. I was an 11-plus failure.

Before I come to selection, I should like to make one or two points about the concept of choice in education. We all believe that, as far as possible, people should be able to exercise choice in respect of their children's education. However, not everybody starts from the same standpoint. People have different abilities to exercise choice. I hope that the Government will reflect on that during future debates on the Bill.

Let me give the House some examples. People have different abilities to get their children to the school of their choice. Many of my constituents do not have access to cars or even public transport. We must also consider parents' ability to take their children to schools other than the neighbourhood school. That depends on a number of factors, including transport and the number of hours that someone is required to work. The Government desperately defend people being able to work for more than 48 hours a week, but those who work long hours sometimes find it difficult to take their children to school and to pick them up afterwards. People with disabilities also have problems getting their children to school, so the concept of choice needs to be seen in perspective.

In some respects, one person's positive choice is another person's limitation. As the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) said, there are winners and losers. That also applies to selection. I hope that we shall never return to the selective system with which I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. I have a lasting memory of taking my 11-plus as an A-stream pupil who had come joint top of the class three years earlier. I was expected to pass with flying colours. I have a lasting memory of standing on the stage with my year at Lawefield Lane junior school, which is an excellent school in my constituency of Wakefield, when the head teacher read out the list of those who had passed and my name was not among them. Those who had passed were applauded off the stage while those who had failed just stood there. I went home ashamed of the fact that, from then on, I was a certified failure.

That had a major impact on me. I suspect that it is one of the reasons why I ended up here. It made me a socialist, questioning the circumstances that resulted in my being written off and sent to a secondary modern school. The only silver lining in that cloud was that the secondary modern school that I attended played rugby league. If I had gone to a grammar school, I would have played rugby union, so I am grateful for that. However, I make the serious point that the experience marred me and vast numbers of others.

Our perception of ourselves as failures and write-offs stayed with us for a long time. In some respects, that experience of failing the 11-plus affected our self-confidence for life.

I am concerned that the potential of a whole generation was written off. People who were far more academically able than me went to secondary modern schools and did not have the opportunity to take O-levels, A-levels and degrees. We had what was called a college of preceptors. Has anyone heard of them? The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) nods. What use were they when we attempted to obtain employment, as no one had heard of them?

There was also corporal punishment. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth should bear this in mind when he moves his amendment on the issue. My form teacher of form 1J in the secondary modern school was the deputy head who, every week, dealt out corporal punishment in front of the class. All the lads were lined up and caned in front of the class. I found it remarkable that every week the same lads received corporal punishment. They came back week in, week out. It did not seem to be a tremendous deterrent. It also became a macho status symbol. It proved one to be a hard man, so some practically volunteered for corporal punishment.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth and others of the Jurassic Park tendency should not give us this nonsense. They may be scraping around for every vote that they can get because they are desperate to win the election, but the proposal is utter nonsense and they jolly well know it.

I have followed closely events at the Ridings school in Halifax. I am desperately concerned that we do not return to the system that I experienced as a youngster—that is what I consider to be the experience of the youngsters in Halifax, which is very near my constituency of Wakefield. I was interested in the comments last Thursday by the Ofsted director of inspection, Mike Tomlinson, when the report on that school came out. He was quoted in an article in the Yorkshire Post last Thursday, which said: he described The Ridings as 'in a sense' a secondary modern school. The reason for the problems that we have in Halifax is that Halifax's Conservative group, which was in control for years, retained the 11-plus—the old system under which I and millions of others suffered. The youngsters at the Ridings school perceive themselves as write-offs and as no-hopers. Is it any wonder that problems arise? They were told that they were failures.

The Bill worries me because no lessons have been learnt from the Ridings experience. It is all about recreating, across the country, the circumstances that created the Ridings in Halifax. As someone who has children in the state system in my constituency, it saddens me that, if the Bill goes through, my children could suffer—my daughter, who is only eight, might be affected by this measure. Like you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and generations of others, I went into politics to improve the circumstances of those who came after me. I know what I went through and I do not want those who follow me to go through the same.

Photo of Mr David Shaw Mr David Shaw , Dover 8:40, 11 November 1996

I should like to say to the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) that, although we listened with great interest to his story of failure, we did not feel that he has failed—we thought that he has done rather well to rise to sit on the Benches that have so many grammar school pupils on them. The Labour party, which is close to grammar schools and their achievements, has clearly found a way to welcome him, so he should not regard himself as having been scarred for life or as having permanently failed.

We should welcome the Bill because it is a Bill of substance that will effect real change in the right direction. There have been a number of Bills that deal with education in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, when we came to power in 1979, attitudes in teaching and the schools sector were so negative that we had to get to a neutral position before we could effect some of the changes we wanted. That meant that, until 1988, the Government passed little education legislation. Since 1988, however, we have passed a series of very good measures that are transforming education. We have introduced grant-maintained status for some schools, teacher appraisal and the national curriculum and testing. We have reintroduced selection where people want it. We have also introduced an excellent assisted places scheme. Those are some of the changes that we have made, and they are working.

Education is enormously important to this country. It is where the opportunities for our people are found and where our future opportunities—in terms of our economic position and our worldwide competitiveness—will be. We have to make sure that we take advantage of those opportunities in the marketplace, in trading and in business. We can do that through a successful education policy.

Labour Members talk about education, but they are divided. With their mouths they talk about supporting standards, but in their hearts they know that the words uttered from their mouths are wrong and they send their children to schools that are based on sound Conservative principles. They simply do not believe what they say.

Where have Labour policies on schools succeeded? Labour has been in charge of the education system in Islington for approximately 25 years, yet Islington has one of the worst education records in the country. If Labour cannot get it right after 25 years, how can Labour Members stand up and make speeches about how to get it right? It is scandalous. If they have an ounce of honesty, Labour Members must admit that they cannot run the nation's schools and that, wherever Labour has run schools, it has run them badly.

In my constituency, we had Conservative control for many years—sadly, we have now declined to a state of affairs in which Labour and the Liberal Democrats are running Kent county council. During the years of Conservative control, however, it was not money that created Kent schools' academic success but rigid discipline and well-managed schools. I try to visit two or three schools a month in my constituency during the school term and the changes that have occurred in the past 10 years are enormously impressive.

Much has happened: standards are high and getting better all the time, and teachers operate to a high standard of discipline. I can see the enormous change that has taken place since I first started to visit schools in my constituency some 10 years ago. We have a selective system, although we have one comprehensive—a Roman Catholic school, St. Edmunds—which is enormously successful. It operates a disciplined, academic system that is, in many ways, much closer to a grammar school structure. We have two successful grammar schools into which many parents want to get their children.

We have several secondary schools that have developing sixth forms. They have developed them throughout the past 20 years under the Conservative-controlled county council. I hasten to add that those sixth forms were technically illegal, but we have just managed to get them made legal. We managed to find the resources for them within the schools' budgets and, as a result, we have a very successful system. Even the Labour parliamentary candidate for Dover approves of our grammar school system and sends his children to such schools. We also have a good private school called Dover college, which employs 250 people locally—no small number. It is an export earner because children from all over the world come to the college. What is important is that it now has approximately 28 assisted places, not for children from middle-income families, but for the children of single—never-married in some cases—mothers, who were destined to suffer from a terrible lack of opportunity in life. Those children are being given the opportunity to receive a high-quality education at Dover college alongside international pupils—an opportunity that they would not have had otherwise. That shows that the assisted places scheme is working.

Standards are rising considerably as a result of reforms such as the national curriculum and testing. Publishing the results of the tests makes the difference, as it enables parents to determine whether schools are succeeding. I notice that Opposition Members are split on the subject of the schools inspectorate—today, we have heard one Opposition Member calling for Mr. Woodhead to be sacked and another supporting and wanting to promote him. I am especially pleased to see that, under clauses 54 to 58, inspections are to be extended to cover local education authorities, which means that we shall get a proper look at some of the weak authorities. All of us on the Conservative Benches know which authorities need to be opened up to inspection. I hope that we shall find out which authorities are lacking in interest, concern and effective school management.

The models of good practice in school performance that the Department for Education and Employment has published on its Internet site deserve a mention. As one who is interested in the information super-highway, I welcome the fact that the Department is using the Internet to ensure that teachers and others interested in education have access to a site that is devoted to improving schools and standards in them. I congratulate the Department on taking advantage of the information super-highway.

The issue of teachers is very important. The Bill would benefit from including reform of teachers' trade unions. Many teachers' trade unions have failed teachers and pupils. Research in the United States shows that schools with a high trade union concentration have a higher than average drop-out rate.

We must make teachers professionals and role models. The nation wants respect for teachers and it would help if they dressed properly. Most professions have some form of dress code and the majority of teachers operate to a high standard. I hope that a clause can be included in the Bill to enable governing bodies and head teachers to look at the possibility of introducing a dress code. We now know that Labour Members of Parliament are improving their dress standards, and it is important to encourage other professions to do so as well. There need not be a standard dress, but dress must be appropriate for the circumstances.

The Government are effecting good change in our schools. We are seeing real improvements in education and I congratulate the authors of this first-rate Bill.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge , Barking 8:50, 11 November 1996

When Britain lies 35th out of 48 in the international education league and we achieve only half as many good grades at GCSE as the French and the Germans, and when one in five of our very young children fails to achieve the expected standard of reading at age seven, the Government ask us to consider a Bill ridden with political dogma and devoid of pragmatic good sense. The Bill is about the political interests of the Tories, not the education standards of children.

The Secretary of State has already ensured that the focus of the debate will be on whether we should whack children with canes rather than on the crucial issue of how Britain's children can do better.

The Government are running out of time and steam. Their only good ideas are those that they have pinched from the Labour party. Who has been talking about home-school contracts? Who has developed them on the ground? The Labour party and Labour-controlled councils. Who has promoted the policy that local education authorities should be inspected? The Labour party. Who has developed base line assessments for five-year-olds? The Labour party and Labour-controlled councils.

Any acknowledgement by the Conservatives that the best education policies are Labour policies is welcome, and I am delighted that the Secretary of State has taken this opportunity to introduce a clause on the regulation of supply teachers. That is a pleasing U-turn by the Conservative party, as when I introduced my ten-minute Bill on that very matter in July not one Conservative Member supported me; indeed, many, including some hon. Members present today, chose to oppose me.

The proper regulation of supply teachers and the private agencies that provide them is vital for our children. Not only are they at risk, as I demonstrated in my speech in July, but, with up to one in 15 classes likely to be taught by a supply teacher, the quality of those teachers must be central to the concern of those who wish to raise standards. In September, I conducted a survey and found that a third of secondary schools in London have experienced problems with agency supply teachers. One school described the teachers sent by the agency as "childminders with worksheets". Another talked of teachers who simply "babysat the class". We learnt of agency supply teachers who arrived late, came unsuitably dressed or who, because they had no experience of multi-racial schools, displayed racist behaviour. Head teachers talked about the poor quality of some supply teachers, their failure to maintain discipline, and their frequent lack of knowledge of the UK education system and the national curriculum. At worst, the agencies sent people who were too ill, unfit or drunk to teach.

I am glad that the Government have finally agreed with me that there is a problem. The Bill, however, is not drawn as tightly as necessary and will not be effective. Why will not the Government, just for once, abandon their dogma of deregulation, which prevents them from taking essential steps to regulate not just the teachers but the agencies that provide them? Anybody can set up an agency. The checks are minimal. All that is needed is a telephone—even a mobile will do. During my research on the issue, I found somebody who is on the Department for Education and Employment's list 99 of people barred from teaching—managing an agency in Manchester. One unscrupulous operator who ran an agency called "First Quality Supply Teachers" fled the country owing his clients about £2 million and leaving teachers from Portsmouth to Newcastle without the money that they had earned and the jobs that they needed. When the director of education in Durham wrote to officials in the Department for Education and Employment expressing his grave concern arising out of that case, he was told: the agencies have nothing to do with us anyway, they are the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry. The Government must face up to the truth: deregulation does not solve problems, but can create them. The proper regulation of supply teacher agencies and teachers is vital if our children are to be properly protected and the quality of their teaching maintained.

I shall now deal with the Conservative obsession with selection—or rather the Prime Minister's obsession with selection. We know from the Secretary of State's record in Norfolk that she does not approve of grammar schools because she played a pivotal role in forcing the closure of every grammar school in Norfolk. They were not bad schools. Some of them were extremely good, with splendid results and impressive reputations, but the Secretary of State and her colleagues got rid of them for the simple reason that they were selective. She seemed to understand then what she fails to understand now: a grammar school in every town will not extend choice, but will have the opposite effect. Forget the rhetoric. If the Government's proposals come into force, fewer parents will be able to choose where their child goes to school. Selection by ability means that schools can choose the pupils, and parents are left disempowered.

We want real choice for parents and their children, but the way in which we increase choice and extend opportunity is by improving all schools, not just grant-maintained schools, grammar schools or city technology colleges. If all schools were good, parents and children could exercise real choice. By concentrating on only a few schools and leaving the rest to rot, the Government have caused untold anxiety among parents desperate to get their kids into the only decent school in the area. That is why parents are so angry with the Government. The Government focus on structure when they should focus on standards; they focus on selection when they should focus on standards; and they focus on the few when they should focus on standards for all.

The Secretary of State has been forced to introduce selection in this Bill because the Prime Minister wants to develop the so-called "clear blue water" between the Conservative and Labour parties. Yet again, he has bungled it and simply created another opportunity for highlighting divisions within his party. What do we find? The Conservative jewel in its local government crown—Westminster—says in its submission that the result of this could be fewer, rather than more, satisfied parents. We see Conservative-controlled Bromley tearing its hair out as increasing selection means that local children find that they cannot have any place at any school in that borough. We find that only 15 of the 15,000 organisations that responded to the Government's consultation favoured increased selection.

The proposals are irrelevant. They have nothing to do with choice and diversity and everything to do with politics and prejudice. The same goes for the proposal to extend the assisted places scheme. We know that most Conservative Members have so little confidence in state schools that they send their children to private schools. That must be the only explanation for the wasteful proposal to expand the assisted places scheme, for who on earth can justify spending up to £9,543 to send just one child to Charterhouse school while state schools are told to stick to £2,600 per child in the secondary sector? The assisted places scheme is not fair, does not represent value for money and is not effective in raising standards for all our children. It is plain common sense that money would be better spent on children in their first years in primary school. That is why Labour's pledge to use the money to reduce class sizes is so popular with parents.

We all know that our future depends on our ability to raise the skills—and improve the standards—of our young people. We cannot afford to waste precious time on irrelevancies, and the Bill is full of irrelevancies. Out there people do not want to hear about selection or caning; they want us to address the real issues—better schools, better teaching, better heads. By wasting yet another opportunity, the Government have yet again demonstrated that—

9 pm

Photo of Lady Olga Maitland Lady Olga Maitland , Sutton and Cheam

It is a bit rich for the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) to lecture us on standards in education. We recall her track record when, as leader of Islington council responsible for education, she turned the schools there into a rock-bottom disaster. The record still stands.

I welcome the Bill, which brings up to date a range of legislation that the Government have introduced over the years to improve our children's opportunities and life chances. It is ironic that our achievements may have been best assessed by an article that was published in The Guardian on 2 September. After all, The Guardian is no friend of the Conservatives. The article bore the headline Why the Tories have won over education". It stated: Which parent can honestly say that this summer they ignored all the competitive criteria which have been imposed on education? Whether it's worrying about your child's exam results or your chosen school's SAT results, Tory educational values have entered our souls. There you have it, Mr. Deputy Speaker: the mouthpiece of new Labour has confirmed that we lead on education. We have set the pace and it is unstoppable.

Although I addressed the issue of discipline in our schools at some length when I last spoke in the House on education 10 days ago, I did not dwell on the vexed topic of caning. That was deliberate. I was waiting to see whether amendments would be tabled in that regard. As they will be, and as I gather that there will be free votes for Members on the Back Benches, I feel that it is right to declare where I stand.

I shall not be joining my colleagues in the Lobby seeking corporal punishment. That will be entirely my choice, not a case of being obedient to the Whips because I am on the payroll. I find the notion of corporal punishment abhorrent in a civilised society such as that in which we live, where we declare that differences can be resolved by debate, persuasion or even arguments, but never by resort to violence. Yet it is advocated that, as a last resort, schools should have the right to use the cane. I do not believe that misbehaviour should ever be matched by deliberate violence on the part of the teacher. That reduces the teacher to the level of the miscreant. It demeans and degrades both. I doubt whether the pupil will learn much from the experience; he is more likely to gain bravado from his friends. Caning would not have restored order in the Ridings school—if anything, it may have made the pupils more violent. I discussed the issue with head teachers in my constituency and I found that they are dead set against caning. They would never use the cane, and I find it hard to believe that anyone other than a sadist would.

I believe that good, firm, fair and effective discipline is possible. I have seen wretched bin schools turned around, as occurred in a school in Sutton, where a boy was caught riding a motor bike through the school corridors. The secret of success is leadership and determination to give the pupils clear rules regarding acceptable behaviour and to impose punishment when those rules are breached.

I particularly welcome the new powers for head teachers allowing them to impose after-school detention without seeking parental permission, which is sometimes refused. Ideally, I would prefer the detention to take place on the same day as the misbehaviour occurred, thus giving the punishment a sense of immediacy and meaning. Delaying punishment by 24 hours to inform parents weakens its effect. It is perfectly possible to telephone parents and warn them that their child will be home late—although I accept that there may be some practical implications.

I regret the Labour party's negative approach to the assisted places scheme and to its extension to include primary schools. The assisted places scheme has proved extremely popular and is much appreciated by parents in my constituency. The Labour party's hostility is a sad reflection of old Labour: resenting one child's chance to better himself. I particularly regret the Opposition's decision to scrap the scheme on the ground that the £118 million saved would be used immediately to cut class sizes.

That decision would achieve that objective, but it would provide only one more teacher for every eight schools. In addition, places would have to be found for 34,000 pupils in schools, which negates any projected savings from the scheme at a stroke. Would the scheme be abolished overnight as the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) has called for, or would it be phased out gradually, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested? It appears to be a source of unending confusion in the Labour party, with the Leader of the Opposition saying one thing and the party saying another.

The heart of the Bill, which reflects the ethos of Conservative thinking, is expanding choice and diversity. There is an enormous gulf between us and the Labour party in that regard. We have always believed that real freedom involves people having the right to choose rather than having decisions foisted upon them, as the Opposition favour. Hence, it is important to allow schools to develop specialties, with departments geared to a high level of expertise in languages, the arts, music, technology and sport.

It is common sense to allow parents to opt for a school that selects pupils on the basis of their aptitude and ability in a particular field, be it academic or vocational. Parents have a wider choice of schooling to suit their child and the schools are able to select students according to what they have to offer. It would be nonsense to force such schools to take pupils who do not have the talents that allow them to benefit from specialised learning. Such children would be better off attending a well-run, grant-maintained, non-selective school such as Cheam high school in my constituency, where children do well and are educated according to their needs. As a result, it has a thriving sixth form with 200 children taking A-levels and going on to university.

Grant-maintained schools have proved a resounding success. More than 1,100 schools now achieve well above average academic results, including three in my constituency which are oversubscribed. The clock cannot be turned back. The momentum is too great. We must set our children free to develop and achieve. That is why I welcome the Bill, for it does so much to maintain the momentum that we have started.

Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South 9:09, 11 November 1996

As my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) said earlier, if we stay here long enough, the arguments start to revolve. I have read the debates of 1987 when the Education Reform Act was still a Bill. The then Secretary of State told the House that the education system needed urgent reform. He cited evidence drawn from international comparisons, reports of Her Majesty's inspectorate and levels of adult illiteracy. Unusually in that debate, he accepted responsibility for the failures of our education system. Such a gesture has been sadly lacking in education debates of late.

The right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) told the House that the proposed Bill would "create a new framework" that would raise standards, extend choice and produce a "better educated Britain". The right hon. Gentleman made the right analysis of the problems facing our schools at that time but, unfortunately, he prescribed the wrong solution. The hidden agenda of the wrongly titled Education Reform Act 1988 was to reintroduce selective grammar schools, and bring with them the obvious necessity for schools that would be non-selective. It is obvious that if some schools have selection, some pupils will fail. They are then deemed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) said, to be non-achievers. That stigma stays with them for a long time. As someone who did not manage to pass the 11-plus, I can bear testimony to the feelings expressed by my hon. Friend.

It is surely wrong to try to determine a person's employment opportunities at the tender age of 11 years, but that was the hidden agenda of the 1988 legislation. The motivation behind the 1988 Act was to replace education consensus with political ideology, diktat and centralisation. That is apparent again today. After all, the Secretary of State has already rejected the Special Standing Committee that we, the Opposition, have requested should sit to take evidence. If we had adopted that approach, we would have been able to introduce again a consensual approach to education and to bring together everyone in that enterprise for the benefit of all pupils. It is sad that the Government, even at this late stage, are refusing to take that course.

The 1988 Act failed on two major counts. First, it failed because it did not raise standards for all our pupils. Indeed, the Act became a positive obstacle to raising standards. The standard assessment tasks were ham-fisted and time consuming. At times, they were irrelevant. They were constantly being revised. It was only through the intervention of the Dearing review that an uneasy peace in our classrooms was restored. It should be remembered that when the review took place, we were promised a five-year moratorium. We were told that there would be five years of consolidation. Yet here we are, debating yet another Education Bill. The second failure of the 1988 Act was that it did not address the discredited selection system which failed 95 per cent. of pupils at the age of 11.

The fact that the 1988 Act failed to achieve its objectives was confirmed by the Government when they introduced what became the Education Act 1993. The right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten) told the House on 9 November 1992—he echoed what the right hon. Member for Mole Valley had said four years earlier—that the Government wanted to introduce a new framework for education. The same civil servant must have written both speeches. We were told that the new framework would endure into the next century. Yet, four years on, we are faced with another Education Bill. The Bill's existence proves that the 1993 Act did not reach the landmarks set for it.

The then Secretary of State told the House that he expected that there would be 1,500 grant-maintained schools by 1 April 1994. He said also that he would eat his hat "garnished" if there was not an avalanche of GM schools before the end of the Parliament. Here we are in November 1996 with only 1,100 GM schools. The target set by the then Secretary of State in 1994 has not been reached. We are talking about only 5 per cent. of schools in our education system. So much for the success of that Act. That is why the Education Bill is before us.

After 17 years of Tory rule and the most centralised system of education ever known in this country—[Interruption] The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), from a sedentary position, talks about grant-maintained schools. He was graceful enough to admit in Standing Committee F, which considered the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, that applications for grant-maintained schools had dried up. He stays silent now, because he knows that what he said then was true.

Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South

I absolutely will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. [Interruption.]

Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South

The hon. Gentleman needs a little bit of discipline.

Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South

Metaphorically speaking.

After 17 years of Tory rule and the most centralised system of education ever known in this country, we face another major Education Act—the seventh in the past four years. If Conservative Members believe that the Bill is about raising standards, that is an admission that previous education legislation has failed. We have had three Acts of Parliament designed specifically to promote grant-maintained schools. This will be the fourth. It is time that the Government got the message that the general public do not want more legislation aimed at the structures of education. We need to concentrate our attention on levering up standards for all our pupils. The Bill owes more to the past failures of education legislation and offers very little in terms of building an educational consensus for the future. It characterises the dishonesty at the heart of the Government.

The primary measure in the Bill is the extension of grant-maintained schools' ability to select up to 50 per cent. of their pupils. Such changes in school admissions policies will not be consulted upon, nor will they need the support of the local education authority or the approval of the Secretary of State for Education and Employment.

It is simply dishonest to claim that the reintroduction of selective grammar schools will extend parental choice. Selective grammar schools will leave schools choosing 5 per cent. of their pupils, condemning the remaining 95 per cent. as failures at the age of 11 to attend—whatever the Government want to call them—secondary modern schools.

It is simply dishonest to claim that a grammar school in every town will not turn the remaining schools in that town into secondary modern schools. Likewise, it is dishonest to claim that, by means of examination at the age of 11, one can determine the future career prospects of pupils. It is nonsense to believe that a pupil's education potential is set in stone at the age of 11, as the example of my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield and many other hon. Members can now proclaim.

The vast majority of people do not want to see a return to the discredited education apartheid achieved by selection. I quote from the editorial of The Sunday Times of 27 April 1992, which said: To pretend that the selective opted out structure emerging as Government policy has anything to do with parental choice is a deception. Schools will choose pupils. Parents will offer only their preference as to which school they would like their children to attend. The removal of the consultative requirements and necessary Government approval for the reintroduction of selection is wrong because it removes the democratic rights of communities to express their views on selection and to plan education provision for their area. The removal of those requirements is yet another admission by the Government that their agenda is to reintroduce selection, but it is not by the back door any more. It is open. It is overt and it is on the front of the Bill, but it does not command popular support.

If the Government need any reaffirmation of that, they need only look at the results of the local government elections in the 1970s and 1980s, when Conservative authorities that refused to introduce comprehensive education were overturned by their electorates specifically because the communities in those areas wanted a comprehensive education system for all their children. If the Government believe that the proposed legislation will have popular appeal, they are sadly wrong.

It is dishonest for people at the heart of the Government to blame LEAs for the breakdown of discipline in certain schools. It is dishonest for the Government to deny any responsibility for that breakdown. Under the terms and conditions of the Education Reform Act 1988 and the Education Act 1993, the Government have taken over control of many of the day-to-day aspects of school life. They should recognise their responsibility, and own up to their failings.

It is also dishonest of certain members of the Government to claim that the reintroduction of corporal punishment will improve discipline. Requiring adults to brutalise children will serve only to make discipline worse, not better. The ritual abuse of pupils by teachers should have no place in a civilised education system.

It is also dishonest to believe that amendments to the Bill will have the authority to change the European Court ruling that outlawed assaults on schoolchildren, and that teachers want the return of corporal punishment in schools. It beggars belief that the Home Secretary is opposed to corporal punishment of convicted criminals, because he believes that it does not work, but he is in favour of adults beating children in schools, presumably because he believes that thrashing innocent pupils has a positive educational outcome.

The whole episode is made more bizarre by Ministers calling for a free vote on this issue. Those same Ministers are resisting a free vote on the private ownership of handguns. The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) was absolutely right when he said that the issue panders to all that is stupid, vulgar and retrograde in our society. That applies to the whole debate.

This is a classic example of the Government getting their priorities wrong. Now they are scampering around to reposition themselves in anticipation of a leadership election following the Tory party's demise at the next election.

It is dishonest for the chairman of the Tory party to claim that reducing class sizes for five to seven-year-olds to 30 or below is wrong and harmful for the country. Reducing class sizes would be the best thing that the Government could do, and I look forward to many positive measures being adopted in the education Bill of the next Labour Government.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury 9:21, 11 November 1996

I thank the hon. Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Hall) for shortening his speech to fit me in. None the less, I must say that almost everything he said was in the same vein as the comments that we have heard from the Opposition Benches all afternoon. In one speech after another, Labour Members said, "Let's have more of the country run the way in which Labour local education authorities run it."

I want to reply to a point that was made from a sedentary position. I intervened earlier to say that my area contained three successful grammar schools and a highly successful school that selects on the basis of technological aptitude. After I sat down, someone shouted out, "You didn't say anything about the other schools."

I shall tell the House about some of those other schools. One is an extremely successful Anglican comprehensive, another is an extremely successful Catholic school, and another is a high school that was selected by Brussels a few months ago to host the first ever EU-wide conference on the Internet. That is the type of diversity that Conservatives believe in. What would happen to those schools if we were one day to have a Labour Government?

I missed the speech by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), but I remember hearing my Liberal opponent in 1992 deliver a diatribe about the evils of grant-maintained status, without once mentioning that he had worked for most of his life at a famous public school.

I firmly support the Bill: it is an excellent measure. I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's proposals on discipline. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) about the cane, but I do not want to dwell on that subject. It is important that we do not lose sight of the measures that are firmly in the Bill, which my right hon. Friend was right to introduce. It is wrong that our courts should be willing to hold that, when a school detains a pupil without parental permission, it is deemed to be illegally detaining that pupil. I have been unable to discover the origins of that ruling.

As a result of the Bill, it will now be possible for pupils with problem parents to be disciplined. A school has always been able to keep a child back for detention if the parents agree, but the difficulty is with a problem child with problem parents who say, "No, I am not willing to have my child disciplined, and I do not mind what my child is doing to the rest of the class." We are removing the right of parents to be bad parents and to allow their children to be bad pupils. The Bill is absolutely right on that.

I want to say a few words on the issue of spiritual and moral development. My right hon. Friend the Member for Selby (Mr. Alison) made such a good speech about that earlier that I feel almost embarrassed to follow him, but I feel that there is a little more to be said on the subject. I will gladly give way to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) if he would like to intervene—

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier , Canterbury

It is right for hon. Members to take an interest in what schools teach in the way of spiritual and moral development. It is right that the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority committee was asked to look at that, but I also think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Member for Selby were right to say that its first report was a great disappointment.

I feel that there are three aspects of the matter: the spiritual side, the skills side —involving issues such as leadership and team spirit, as well as discipline itself —and the factual side. For there is a factual side. At least one school in my constituency is very proud of teaching children what are now rather scorned subjects, such as domestic science, which is extremely useful to the making of families.

Let us take the spiritual side first. Let me say without the slightest hesitation that, in my view, any attempt to teach morality without a religious basis is doomed to failure from the beginning. A recent speech that I heard on that subject was made by Lord Jakobovits—an excellent speech in the House of Lords. Let me, however, go back to an earlier century. Cardinal Newman summed it up when dealing with the issue of whether ethics could be taught without religion. He put it in a nutshell when he said: You can quarry a rock with razors or moor a vessel with a silken thread as readily as you can use mere logic to control the pride and passions of a man. He was addressing an audience of male students, but what he said could equally be applied to young people of both sexes in their last years at school.

There is utter confusion. If people try to teach ethics without a religious base, what do they actually teach? Do they teach, for example, that all people have rights? At least one major world religion, the Hindu religion—a number of my relations were brought up in India—teaches that a whole class of people have no rights. Should people teach, for example, that homosexuality is on a par with marriage? Different philosophers disagree with that. Should they teach, for example, that marriage is a good thing?

That moves me from the spiritual side to the factual side. I think it right for children to be taught that marriage is the most successful way in which to rear children. They should be told about the huge body of evidence—most effectively assembled by a socialist, Professor Norman Dennis—that marriage is indeed the best way in which to rear children. A classroom may well contain children whose parents are not married, or who come from violent homes; it may well contain children like one of my closest friends, who was brought up with a deeply violent alcoholic father. That, however, should not stop us from trying to persuade the rising generation to do better than their parents.

I think that the factual side should extend further. In sex education, children should be taught the medical risks of homosexuality. They should be told how much shorter is the life expectancy of a homosexual than that of a member of the heterosexual community. We should not be ashamed to teach pupils the facts of life.

Besides the spiritual side, and the factual side, there is also the skills side. Certain basic skills are essential to being a citizen in this country. I mentioned discipline earlier; the Bill rightly says a lot about discipline, but let us remember self-discipline as well as collective discipline. I also believe that leadership is a skill that can be taught. It is taught partly through team games in which pupils work together, but also through other team activities, such as running the school debating society and editing the school magazine. Those are all ways of helping to develop leadership and other interactive skills.

We owe it to the rising generation to try to impart to them the traditional Christian values on which this country was founded—to teach them the traditional wisdom on which it was based, and to teach them the basic skills needed to develop the character which are so important to citizenship. I believe that both my right hon. Friends were absolutely right to say that SCAA has failed to address those issues, but we must address them. I welcome the fact that some clauses in the Bill say a little about them, but I shall press for more in other ways.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton 9:29, 11 November 1996

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on his brilliant and lucid exposition of the constructive Labour policy for raising standards. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor) on her excellent analysis of the reality of exclusion. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) made his usual sound and sensible contribution and my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and for Warrington, South (Mr. Hall) spoke about the arbitrariness of the 11-plus.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Mr. Pickthall) underlined the difficulty about the planning of places under the Government's proposals and my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Hinchliffe) spoke about the Bill's lack of choice for many. My hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) again spoke eloquently about the need for more regulation of agencies. I look forward to hearing the Minister on that, given his anti-regulation history. My hon. Friends the Members for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) and for Cannock and Burntwood (Dr. Wright) brought their usual sagacity to the debate.

The Secretary of State repeated the tautology that somehow the introduction of selection enhances choice for parents, but we all know that schools select the children and that parents have no say in the matter. After some prompting by the hon. Member for Calder Valley (Sir D. Thompson), the right hon. Lady spoke about The Ridings school which, of course, is not her fault. She should try telling that to the leader of the Conservative group on Calder Valley council. He has made it abundantly clear that he holds the Secretary of State personally responsible for what happened in that school.

More interesting is the Secretary of State's position on caning in which she is aided and abetted by the hon. Members for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and for Dartford (Mr. Dunn). It is bizarre that they should extol the virtues of corporal punishment. I give credit where it is due. The hon. Members for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) and for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) take a somewhat different view, a more civilised view. It is more than ironic that the Secretary of State can tell the House that there will be a free vote on caning but not on handguns. That shows the kind of priorities that obtain in the Conservative party.

What can one say about the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold)? I have to say a little because he is sometimes referred to as the hon. Member for Transylvania, dealing in the education policies of the political undead. His promises and his commitments on education bear no relation to what is being offered by the Government. I am pleased that the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) agrees with the Labour proposals that are set out in our document "Diversity and Excellence", for the inspection of LEAs by Ofsted. However, he took one of his usual right turns when he spoke about a dress code.

I taught in two schools in Australia which regularly turned out Rhodes scholars. We used to go to school in T-shirts and shorts and what are colloquially called thongs in Australia. We call them flip-flops. Our dress code certainly did not affect the academic excellence of those schools. There is no relationship whatever between the quality of education and how someone dresses.

My only advice to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) is to speak to his archbishop about ecumenism.

We look in vain in the Bill for desirable measures. We look for a commitment to reduce class sizes to less than 30 and for the promotion of a general teaching council to enhance, develop and promote a noble profession. We also look in vain for guarantees to ensure that every 11-year-old without a special educational need reaches level 4 in national reading tests; for the removal of a taxpayers' subsidy to private schools; for unifying proposals to give parents true choice; and for the efficient planning of school places. I looked in vain for any mention of special educational needs.

Perhaps the House should look again at the parts of the Bill that I have not mentioned and on which there is some agreement. In April, my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside flagged up our proposals for school discipline. The Government are right to follow his example and look for a third option on exclusion. However, they have failed to adopt his whole package, which includes the holistic approach to the excluded child in pupil referral units with the appropriate diagnostic and remedial skills, working where possible towards the reintegration of the child in the mainstream school.

We are happy to welcome other Government proposals such as home-school contracts and base line assessment. We have proposed the former since 1988; the latter has been piloted by Labour authorities in Birmingham, Sheffield and Staffordshire. Both proposals were in our policy document "Excellence for Everyone". Furthermore, we are pleased that our plan for Ofsted has been adopted. We set the plan down in the policy paper "Diversity and Excellence".

Last but not least, Labour Members have clearly spelt out our commitment to careers education and guidance in the policy statement, "Lifelong Learning". The problem for the Government is one of credibility because nearly 800,000 16 to 25-year-olds are out of job, education and training networks. That is a clear indictment of the Government's long failure in the sector, as in many others.

All those capitulations to Labour policy initiatives are yet to be tested. I suspect that much of what appears to be non-contentious might yet be the subject of intense debate in Committee, not so much because of what is in the Bill, but because of what is not. There are, however, other proposals in the Bill that are divisive and damaging to education provision. They are more to do with desperate attempts by this discredited Government to win over a sceptical electorate to an education programme that would take us back to the future.

The Government's answer to the challenges of the 21st century is to resurrect failed policies that were condemned as such in the 1960s and in the 1970s, principally the idea of grammar schools and increased selection. The Association of Grant-Maintained and Aided Schools said in its submission that the White Paper "will produce a mish-mash." It also said that Government intentions on selection will distort the provision of school places … and lead to a diminution of choice for many parents, and unacceptably long journeys (with consequent expense). The Association urges you to think again". Labour Members urge the Government to think again on much of the Bill.

Let us consider the notion of increasing the number of selective schools and the rate at which they select. Even in vanguard grant-maintained schools, there is no real constituency for increased selection, as the views of AGMAS show. Out of 1,100 GM schools, only 41 have sought an element of selection in their admissions criteria and only three have sought grammar school status.

Despite that evidence of what we might describe as underwhelming interest in selection, the Government insist on an annual consideration by schools of selective status. The Government have failed to recognise what has eventuated with their similar legislation, demanding that schools regularly consider grant-maintained status. The result of the latter misguided prescription is that ever fewer schools ballot on grant-maintained status, while, among those that do, an ever increasing number of ballots refuse grant-maintained status.

The lesson is simple, even for this dictatorial Government. People cannot, and will not, be forced down a sterile educational path. When one faces the united opposition of both teachers and parents, it is wise, even for a Government such as this, to reflect on the wisdom of going against the tide of both educational opinion and plain common sense. No one wants selection other than the right-wing ideologues of this doomed Conservative Government—that much is obvious.

The reasons for the opposition to those proposals is simple: selection has been tried before and found wanting for our children and for our national economic needs. We need all our children to be highly qualified, highly trained and highly skilled. The Bill does not cater for those wider needs. It will provide for a revived two-tier system, with neither the jobs for the people condemned to the lower education level proposed, nor the realisation of their potential, which the nation desperately needs.

As we have established, selection denies parental choice, making it less likely for many parents to send their child to their chosen neighbourhood school. The effect on children with special educational needs is especially pernicious. If their need involves intellectual impairment, selection exacerbates their sense of failure. If a child is able, but needs particular support—for example, a signer—in these days of ever tighter budgets and league table competition, that child may be discriminated against in a selective school ethos, contrary to the trend for more inclusive education for children with special educational needs.

Over many years, the Government have sought selection of one sort or another by the back door to undermine comprehensive education. We have had city technology colleges, grant-maintained schools and the odd grammar school. There are the scorched-earth policies of Tory Buckinghamshire, which bequeathed an unwanted grammar school and a £7 million debt to unitary Milton Keynes, in the face of community opposition.

This year, a Gallup poll showed 77 per cent. of people against selection, with only 19 per cent. in favour. Is it not peculiar that when a poll demonstrates support for corporal punishment Conservative Members are glad to trumpet the democratic wish of the people? When the democratic wish of the people is against selection, they ignore and ride roughshod over it. I give a simple challenge to the Government—if they want to implement the Prime Minister's pledge of a grammar school for every town, they should come clean and not play around the edges; they should tell the nation that it is their intention to return to the 11-plus for everyone. No one is fooled by the incremental steps to total selection. The Government should have the courage to place their plans before the people, before the election.

At the same time, the Government should clearly state their complete lack of interest in parental views on grant-maintained status. My hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, South referred to the comment by the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), when he was Secretary of State for Education. He famously said that by 1996, most of the 3,900 maintained secondary schools, as well as a significant proportion of the 19,000 maintained primary schools, could be grant-maintained. As my hon. Friend also said, the right hon. Gentleman promised that he would eat his hat if he was wrong. He can eat his hat. I hope that it is a large hat to match his large orifice and his even larger ego because his commitment has not been fulfilled—[Interruption.] Hon. Members are talking about playground jokes. The biggest playground joke is that they are not concerned about the educational needs of the vast majority of our children. The only thing in which they are interested is reflecting their own prejudice.

There are five locally managed secondary schools for every grant-maintained secondary school. In the primary sector, the ratio is 50:1. The policy has failed, but the Government still seem intent on switching the goalposts. Thus, the Bill removes the requirement for publication of statutory proposals on changes in the character of grant-maintained schools. In theory, they can expand or contract places without any reference to wider community needs. The Funding Agency for Schools, a Tory quango packed with Tory placemen, can determine new schools without reference to the local community—which will, however, have to pick up the bill. Local Tory cabals, in areas where they have no electoral legitimacy, will be able to ride roughshod over their communities and promote grant-maintained schools. What a repudiation of local democracy by this dreadful Government.

At the same time as the Government are waging ideological warfare on local schools, subsidies to the private sector will be extended via the assisted places scheme extension to primary schools in the independent sector. The only reason for that is an attempt to hogtie education finance for an incoming Labour Government. It has nothing to do with educational need. In fact, it completes the circle in the Government's justification for the assisted places scheme. They began by saying that the scheme was a subsidy to the former direct grant schools so that when they went independent they could keep their heads above water. Belatedly, it became a post-facto justification to say that the scheme took children from working-class families—in theory, 33,000—and gave them an advantaged education. Now, the Government are back to the original, very obvious, reason for the scheme—to provide a subsidy for, in this case, independent schools in the primary sector.

Much of the Bill fails abysmally, yet again, to deal with the education priorities apparent to all except Conservative Members, who seem intent on saving their own skins—especially those on the Front Bench—in their internal party battle after their impending election defeat. Each of them wishes to establish his ever more right-wing credentials.

We need a general election so that the people can voice their opinion on the real educational needs of the nation. Governments—like people—experience growth, adulthood, decrepitude and decay. In this case, the Government should go none too gently into their own good night. I urge the House to vote in favour of the official Opposition's amendment and motion.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire 9:44, 11 November 1996

After studying the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), I can assume only that moustaches have been disappearing on the Opposition Front Bench so that contributions could be made to the Sedgefield replacement hair fund.

This debate will be remembered—if it is remembered at all—as the do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do debate. If anything, that attitude has been the consistent theme expressed by Opposition Members. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett), and heard him say at an early stage in it that he wanted to take us down memory lane. He frequently mentioned the phrase "17 years".

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Taking my cue from the hon. Gentleman, I should like to go back only 15 years—to Sheffield, the House will not be surprised to hear. I have been informed that, when the hon. Gentleman played a prominent part in Sheffield politics, he was instrumental in preventing schools from insisting on school uniforms. I assume that that will give us some clue to the background of the matter. Not content with that, he voted for the abolition of sixth forms at all secondary schools in Sheffield. His legacy remains even now, however, because Sheffield's funding formula provides for the lowest funding for sixth form pupils in the country. Sheffield also has a much lower staying-on rate for pupils at 16 than almost any other area in the country.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

Other than mistakes on statistics and dates, perhaps the Minister will tell us what are the statistics for staying-on rates in Sheffield and in equivalent authorities, just so that we have it on the record.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

The figure is 57 per cent. for Sheffield, compared with 61 per cent. in Yorkshire and in Humberside and 68 per cent. in the United Kingdom as a whole. Perhaps that explains why, earlier this year—I shall deal now with the present day, having briefly gone down that memory lane—head teachers of secondary schools in Sheffield said: We no longer have any confidence in the processes which the council adopts in relation to its funding of schools. This lack of confidence applies to every stage in the process: to the leadership, to planning and to the allocation and delivery of funding. I made that point because there has been one consistent theme in this debate: Opposition Members seeking to blame the Government for what they consider to be shortfalls in our performance on education. As we know, the reality is that the Government do not run schools; local education authorities run schools. When we examine the real evidence of what is happening in our schools—in the classroom—sit becomes apparent that it is schools run by Labour-controlled authorities that consistently fail their pupils. That is the reality. We can consider the situation in places other than Sheffield, however, because I do not want to restrict our attentions to that city. As we know, Labour in action has another face: the element of parental choice. I shall not repeat the list that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State gave earlier, but I emphasise that we do not condemn the exercise of parental choice by Opposition Members. We welcome the fact that they. exercise their parental choice to send their children to schools that they regard as superior to those provided by their authorities. I do not condemn that, but it is noticeable that Opposition Members have condemned their own colleagues.

The hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) resigned as chairman of Labour's parliamentary education committee, saying that he could not stand the hypocrisy of what some of his colleagues had done. The hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) described his colleagues' choice of schools for their children as a major error of judgment. The inimitable hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) said: If senior Labour politicians are sending their children outside their local education authority areas, people will say local schools are simply not good enough for their children. I suspect that people in Islington and Southwark are saying that. Opposition Members and parents are saying that the standards and quality of schools provided by Labour-run local education authorities are unacceptable.

Photo of David Blunkett David Blunkett Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Employment)

Will the Minister tell the House how many of the Cabinet have sent their children to—[Interruption.] They certainly don't like it up 'em. How many of the Cabinet have sent their children to state schools of any description?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

It shows how desperate the hon. Gentleman is that he has to dredge up that old favourite. Conservative Members do not condemn the independent sector; they do not condemn selective schools; they do not condemn grant-maintained schools. Opposition Members, including the hon. Gentleman's colleagues, condemn all those schools, but they send their children to them.

I looked at the list of local education authorities in order of the numbers of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A to C. The House will not be surprised to learn that, of the 16 poorest performing authorities, 15 are Labour-controlled. I mention that because it has been depressing throughout the debate to hear Opposition Members assuming that, if there are selective and non-selective schools alongside each other, we can write off the non-selective schools because, according to Opposition Members, they will be educationally hopeless and unacceptable. Opposition Members always assume that because they have no expectations of schools located in what they regard as written-off social areas.

Conservative Members, such as my hon. Friends the Members for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold), for Dover (Mr. Shaw) and for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier)—as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett), who cannot contribute because of his Trappist vow as a parliamentary private secretary—sare proud to point out a different phenomenon: that, in their areas, they have a combination of selective and non-selective schools that are all good in different ways. Opposition Members miss that point because they are stuck—blinkered—with the idea that any non-selective school near to a selective school is automatically written off and condemned as useless. By implication, they have lost all educational interest in such schools.

Conservative Members recognise that we can have good selective schools and equally good, but different, non-selective schools. We can have schools specialising in different subject areas, city technology colleges, Church schools, grant-maintained schools and independent schools, which pupils from less well-off homes can attend thanks to the assisted places scheme. That is diversity in action—the real choice that we are offering parents.

Photo of Peter Kilfoyle Peter Kilfoyle , Liverpool, Walton

Was Lady Thatcher wrong to have closed so many grammar schools when she was Secretary of State for Education?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

I find it difficult to imagine Lady Thatcher being wrong about anything.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) made an excellent point. With his expertise and usual accuracy he said that selective schools can have a beneficial and positive influence on the primary sector by encouraging it to raise its standards. We know that secondary school heads often say that the product of primary schools in their catchment area leaves much to be desired. That is something that we can put right with provisions included in the Bill such as target setting for self-improvement by schools and base line assessment of pupils in order the better to measure performance by schools as pupils go through their vital early years.

It struck me as breathtaking that Opposition Members today managed to claim authorship of the Bill's provisions and, indeed, of many of the improvements that have taken place in education in the past few years. However much they may want to deny it now, the reality is that the Opposition have systematically opposed every step that we have taken to improve education. For example, they opposed the Education Act 1994 which established the Teacher Training Agency specifically to improve initial teacher training. They also opposed the Education Act 1993 which established the Funding Agency for Schools. I well remember Opposition Members predicting "chaos and confusion" in the setting up of that agency, but nothing of the kind happened—that was simply the Opposition's usual pessimism and negativity.

Incidentally, as the hon. Member for Walton mentioned pupils with special educational needs, he may recall—or he may not—that one of the key elements of the 1993 Act was the special educational needs code of practice, something in which I take pride as I was connected with it. I do not believe that there is a case for further legislation on special educational needs. I am not saying that we have had the last word on it, but it was not necessary to include further related provisions in the Bill. I could go even further back, but I think that the point is made.

Several of my hon. Friends, especially my hon. Friends the Members for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Congdon) and for Rugby and Kenilworth, mentioned discipline. We asked teachers and their representatives what they wanted and what would assist them in implementing discipline in their schools. The Bill gives them what they asked for, a fact that I recently verified with a number of teacher organisations. They have told me that they are satisfied with the measures in the Bill. I therefore believe that the Bill is soundly based in terms of its disciplinary measures, which the teacher organisations endorse. Whether my hon. Friends wish to take the matter further is entirely up to them. They will make their case, but I rest on what is in the Bill and the fact that teachers support it.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

I am sorry; I shall not give way as I want to say a word about the important contribution of the hon. Member for Eccles (Miss Lestor). She mentioned excluded pupils, as did some of my hon. Friends. I agree with her that pupils who are excluded from school deserve more attention than any others. They are more in need than any others and we have to do everything possible to deal with them supportively. That is why the 1993 Act placed a duty on local education authorities to make proper provision for them and why the Bill places such emphasis on LEAs having proper policies to deal with pupils with behavioural difficulties and on the inspection of LEAs and other measures which I believe will positively help pupils with such difficulties. I hope that the hon. Lady will acknowledge that fact.

The Bill carries forward the important work that we have done in all the education legislation passed in the 1980s. I am disappointed but not surprised that Opposition Members are going to oppose the Bill just as they have opposed every other step that we have taken to improve standards. We act to provide the framework for improved standards in education. We defy Labour-controlled local education authorities to continue letting down generations of pupils as they have for an unacceptably long time. We accept our responsibility properly and effectively to improve education, and I invite the House to support the Bill.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 285.

Division No. 10][9.59 pm
Abbott, Ms DianeBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Adams, Mrs IreneBurden, Richard
Ainger, NickByers, Stephen
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Caborn, Richard
Allen, GrahamCallaghan, Jim
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Armstrong, Ms HilaryCampbell-Savours, D N
Ashton, JosephCanavan, Dennis
Austin-Walker, JohnCann, Jamie
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Chidgey, David
Barnes, HarryChisholm, Malcolm
Barron, KevinChurch, Ms Judith
Battle, JohnClapham, Michael
Bayley, HughClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Beith, A JClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Benn, TonyClelland, David
Bennett, Andrew FClwyd, Mrs Ann
Benton, JoeCoffey, Ms Ann
Berry, RogerCohen, Harry
Betts, CliveCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Blunkett, DavidCook, Robin (Livingston)
Boateng, PaulCorbett, Robin
Bradley, KeithCorbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, JimJanner, Greville
Cummings, JohnJenkins, Brain D (SE Staffs)
Cunliffe, LawrenceJones, Barry (Alyn & D'side)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Cunningham, Dr JohnJones, Martyn (Clwyd SW)
Dafis, CynogJones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Darling, AlistairJowell, Ms Tessa
Davidson, IanKaufman, Gerald
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C)Keen, Alan
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Khabra, Piara S
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)Kilfoyle, Peter
Denham, JohnKirkwood, Archy
Dewar, DonaldLestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)
Dixon, DonLewis, Terry
Dobson, FrankLiddell, Mrs Helen
Donohoe, Brian HLitherland, Robert
Dowd, JimLivingstone, Ken
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLloyd, Tony (Stretf'd)
Eagle, Ms AngelaLlwyd, Elfyn
Eastham, KenLoyden, Eddie
Etherington, BillMcAllion, John
Evans, John (St Helens N)McAvoy, Thomas
Fatchett, DerekMcCartney, Ian (Makerf'ld)
Faulds, AndrewMcFall, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)McKelvey, William
Fisher, MarkMackinley, Andrew
Flynn, PaulMcLeish, Henry
Foster, DerekMcMaster, Gordon
Foster, Don (Bath)McNamara, Kevin
Foulkes, GeorgeMacShane, Denis
Fraser, JohnMcWilliam, John
Fyfe, Mrs MariaMadden, Max
Galbraith, SamMaddock, Mrs Diana
Galloway, GeorgeMahon, Mrs Alice
Gapes, MikeMarek, Dr John
Garrett, JohnMarshall, David (Shettleston)
George, BruceMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gilbert, Dr JohnMartin, Michael J (Springburn)
Godman, Dr Norman AMartlew, Eric
Godsiff, RogerMaxton, John
Golding, Mrs LlinMeacher, Michael
Gordon, Ms MildredMeale, Alan
Graham, ThomasMichael, Alun
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Milburn, Alan
Grocott, BruceMiller, Andrew
Gunnell, JohnMitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Hain, PeterMoonie, Dr Lewis
Hall, MikeMorgan, Rhodri
Hanson, DavidMorley, Elliot
Hardy, PeterMorris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Harman, Ms HarrietMorris, John (Aberavon)
Harvey, NickMowlam, Ms Marjorie
Hattersley, RoyMudie, George
Henderson, DougMullin, Chris
Heppell, JohnMurphy, Paul
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Oakes, Gordon
Hinchliffe, DavidO'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hodge, Ms MargaretO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoey, Miss KateOlner, Bill
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)O'Neil, Martin
Home Robertson, JohnOrme, Stanley
Hood, JimmyParry, Robert
Hoon, GeoffreyPearson, Ian
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Pickthall, Colin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Pike, Peter L
Howells, Dr KimPowell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore)
Hoyle, DougPrentice, Mrs B (Lewisham E)
Hughes, Robert (Ab'd'n N)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Prescott, John
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Hutton, JohnPurchase, Ken
Illsley, EricQuin, Ms Joyce
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd)Radice, Giles
Randall, StuartTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Raynsford, NickTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Reid, Dr JohnThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Rendel, DavidThurnham, Peter
Robertson, George (Hamilton)Timms, Stephen
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)Tipping, Paddy
Roche, Mrs BarbaraTrickett, Jon
Rooker, JeffTurner, Dennis
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Tyler, Paul
Rowlands, TedVaz, Keith
Ruddock, Ms JoanWalker, Sir Harold
Sedgemore, BrianWallace, James
Sheerman, BarryWalley, Ms Joan
Sheldon, RobertWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Shore, PeterWareing, Robert N
Short, Ms ClareWatson, Mike
Simpson, AlanWicks, Malcolm
Skinner, DennisWigley, Dafydd
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Snape, PeterWilson, Brian
Soley, CliveWinnick, David
Spearing, NigelWise, Mrs Audrey
Spellar, JohnWorthington, Tony
Squire, Ms R (Dunfermline W)Wray, Jimmy
Stevenson, GeorgeWright, Dr Tony
Stott, RogerYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Strang, Dr GavinTellers for the Ayes:
Straw, JackMr. Eric Clarke and
Sutcliffe, GerryMr. Kevin Hughes.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)
Aitken, JonathanCarrington, Matthew
Alexander, RichardCarttiss, Michael
Alison, Michael (Selby)Cash, William
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Channon, Paul
Amess, DavidChapman, Sir Sydney
Ancram, MichaelChurchill, Mr
Arbuthnot, JamesClappison, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Clark, Dr Michael (Rochfd)
Ashby, DavidClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, RobertClifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Coe, Sebastian
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Colvin, Michael
Baker, Kenneth (Mole V)Congdon, David
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Conway, Derek
Baldry, TonyCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F)
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Cope, Sir John
Bellingham, HenryCormack, Sir Patrick
Bendall, VivianCurry, David
Beresford, Sir PaulDavies, Quentin (Stamf'd)
Biffen, JohnDavis, David (Boothferry)
Body, Sir RichardDay, Stephen
Bonsor, Sir NicholasDeva, Nirj Joseph
Booth, HartleyDicks, Terry
Boswell, TimDorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bottomley, Mrs ViginiaDover, Den
Bowden, Sir AndrewDuncan, Alan
Bowis, JohnDuncan Smith, Iain
Boyson, Sir RhodesDunn, Bob
Brandreth, GylesDurant, Sir Anthony
Brazier, JulianDykes, Hugh
Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)Eggar, Tim
Browning, Mrs AngelaElletson, Harold
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Emery, Sir Peter
Budgen, NicholasEvans, David (Welwyn Hatfld)
Burns, SimonEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Burt, AlistairEvans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Butcher, JohnEvans, Roger (Monmouth)
Butler, PeterEvennett, David
Butterfill, JohnFaber, David
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Fabricant, Michael
Fenner, Dame PeggyLilley, Peter
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lloyd, Sir Peter (Fareham)
Forman, NigelLord, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Luff, Peter
Forth, EricLyell, Sir Nicholas
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)MacGregor, John
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)Mackay, Andrew
Freeman, RogerMaclean, David
French, DouglasMcLoughlin, Patrick
Fry, Sir PeterMcNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gale, RogerMadel, Sir David
Gallie, PhillMaitland, Lady Olga
Gardiner, Sir GeorgeMans, Keith
Garnier, EdwardMarland, Paul
Gill, ChristopherMarlow, Tony
Gillan, Mrs CherylMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodlad, AlastairMarshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMawhinney, Dr Brain
Gorst, Sir JohnMellor, David
Grant, Sir Anthony (SW Cambs)Merchant, Piers
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hague, WilliamMoate, Sir Roger
Hamilton, Sir ArchibaldMolyneaux, Sir James
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Monro, Sir Hector
Hampson, Dr KeithMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hanley, JeremyNeedham, Richard
Hannam, Sir JohnNeubert, Sir Michael
Harris, DavidNewton, Tony
Haselhurst, Sir AlanNicholls, Patrick
Hawkins, NickNorris, Steve
Hawksley, WarrenOnslow, Sir Cranley
Hayes, JerryOppenheim, Phillip
Heald, OliverOttaway, Richard
Heath, Sir Edwardpage, Richard
Hendry, CharlesPaice, James
Higgins, Sir TerencePatrick, Sir Irvine
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Patten, John
Hogg, Douglas (Grantham)Pattie, Sir Geoffrey
Horam, JohnPawsey, James
Hordern, Sir PeterPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howard, MichaelPickles, Eric
Howell, David (Guildf'd)Portillo, Michael
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Powell, William (Corby)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)Rathbone, Tim
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Redwood, John
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne)Renton, Tim
Hunter, AndrewRichards, Rod
Hurd, DouglasRifkind, Malcolm
Jack, MichaelRobathan, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)Roberts, Sir Wyn
Jessel, TobyRobertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Robert B (W Herts)Rowe, Andrew
Jopling, MichaelRumbold, Dame Angela
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineSackville, Tom
Key, RobertSainsbury, Sir Timothy
King, TomShaw, David (Dover)
Kirkhope, TimothyShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knapman, RogerShephard, Mrs Gillian
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Sims, Sir Roger
Knox, Sir DavidSkeet, Sir Trevor
Kynoch, GeorgeSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lait, Mrs JacquiSmith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
Lamont, NormanSoames, Nicholas
Lawrence, Sir IvanSpeed, Sir Keith
Legg, BarrySpencer, Sir Derek
Leigh, EdwardSpicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir MarkSpicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)Spink, Dr Robert
Lidington, DavidSpring, Richard
Sproat, IainTwinn, Dr Ian
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Stanley, Sir JohnViggers, Peter
Steen, AnthonyWaldegrave, William
Stephen, MichaelWalker, Bill (N Tayside)
Stern, MichaelWaller, Gary
Stewart, AllanWard, John
Streeter, GaryWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sumberg, DavidWaterson, Nigel
Sweeney, WalterWatts, John
Sykes, JohnWhitney, Ray
Tapsell, Sir PeterWhittingdale, John
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Taylor, Sir TeddyWilkinson, John
Temple-Morris, PeterWilletts, David
Thomason, RoyWilshire, David
Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Townend, John (Bridlington)Wolfson, Mark
Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)Yeo, Tim
Tracey, RichardYoung, Sir George
Tredinnick, DavidTellers for the Noes:
Trend, MichaelMr. Timothy Wood and
Trotter, NevilleMr. Bowen Wells.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question Put forthwith, Pursuant to Standing order No.60 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading), and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question Proposed,

That the Bill be committed to a Special Standing Committee.—[Mr. Blunkett.]

The House divided:Ayes 257,Noes 284.

Division No.11][10.15 Pm
Abbott, Ms DianeCann, Jamie
Adams, Mrs IreneChidgey, David
Ainger, NickChisholm, Malcolm
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Church, Ms Judith
Allen, GrahamClapham, Michael
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Armstrong, Ms HilaryClelland, David
Ashton, JosephClwyd, Mrs Ann
Austin-Walker, JohnCoffey, Ms Ann
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Cohen, Harry
Barnes, HarryConnarty, Michael
Barron, KevinCook, Frank (Stockton N)
Battle, JohnCook, Robin (Livingston)
Bayley, HughCorbett, Robin
Beith, A JCorbyn, Jeremy
Benn, TonyCousins, Jim
Bennett, Andrew FCummings, John
Benton, JoeCunliffe, Lawrence
Berry, RogerCunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE)
Betts, CliveCunningham, Dr John
Blunkett, DavidDafis, Cynog
Boateng, PaulDarling, Alistair
Bradley, KeithDavidson, Ian
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Davies, Bryan (Oldham C)
Burden, RichardDavies, Denzil (Llanelli)
Byers, StephenDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Caborn, RichardDenham, John
Callaghan, JimDewar, Donald
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Dixon, Don
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Dobson, Frank
Campbell-Savours, D NDonohoe, Brain H
Canavan, DennisDowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLloyd, Tony (Stretf'd)
Eagle, Ms AngelaLlwyd, Elfyn
Eastham, kenLoyden, Eddie
Etherington, BillMcAllion, John
Evans, John (St Helens N)McAvoy, Thomas
Fatchett, DerekMcCartney, Ian (Makerf'ld)
Faulds, AndrewMcFall, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)McKelvey, William
Fisher, MarkMackinlay, Andrew
Flynn, PaulMcLeish, Henry
Foster, DerekMcMaster, Gordon
Foster, Don (Bath)McNamara, Kevin
Foulkes, GeorgeMacShane, Denis
Fraser, JohnMcWilliam, John
Fyfe, Mrs MariaMadden, Max
Galbraith, SamMaddock, Mrs Diana
Galloway, GeorgeMahon, Mrs Alice
Gapes, MikeMarek, Dr John
Garrett, JohnMarshall, David (Shettleston)
George, BruceMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gilbert, Dr JohnMartin, Michael J (Springburn)
Godman, Dr Norman AMartlew, Eric
Godsiff, RogerMaxton, John
Golding, Mrs LlinMeacher, Michael
Gordon, Ms MildredMeale, Alan
Graham, ThomasMichael, Alun
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Milburn, Alan
Grocott, BruceMiller, Andrew
Gunnell, JohnMitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Hain, PeterMoonie, Dr Lewis
Hall, MikeMorgan, Rhodri
Hanson, DavidMorley, Elliot
Hardy, PeterMorris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Harman, Ms HarrietMorris, John (Aberavon)
Harvey, NickMowlam, Ms Marjorie
Hattersley, RoyMudie, George
Henderson, DougMullin, Chris
Hendron, Dr JoeMurphy, Paul
Hill, Keith (Streatham)Oakes, Gordon
Hinchliffe, DavidO'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Hodge, Ms MargaretO'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hoey, Miss KateOlner, Bill
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)Orme, Stanley
Home Robertson, JohnParry, Robert
Hood, JimmyPearson, Ian
Hoon, GeoffreyPickthall, Colin
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Pike, Peter L
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Powell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore)
Howells, Dr KimPrentice, Mrs B (Lewisham E)
Hoyle, DougPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hughes, Robert (Ab'd'n N)Prescott, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Purchase, Ken
Hutton, JohnQuin, Ms Joyce
Illsley, EricRadice, Giles
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd)Randall, Stuart
Janner, GrevilleRaynsford, Nick
Jenkins, Brian D(SE Staffs)Reid, Dr John
Jones, Barry (Alyn & D'side)Rendel, David
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd SW)Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)Roche, Mrs Barbara
Jowell, Ms TessaRooker, Jeff
Kaufman, GeraldRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Keen, AlanRowlands, Ted
Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen)Ruddock, Ms Joan
Khabra, Piara SSedgemore, Brian
Kilfoyle, PeterSheerman, Barry
Kirkwood, ArchySheldon, Robert
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)Shore, Peter
Lewis, TerryShort, Ms Clare
Liddell, Mrs HelenSimpson, Alan
Litherland, RobertSkinner, Dennis
Livingstone, KenSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Vaz, Keith
Snape, PeterWalker, Sir Harold
Soley, CliveWallace, James
Spearing, NigelWalley, Ms Joan
Speller, JohnWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Squire, Ms R (Dunfermline W)Wareing, Robert N
Steel, Sir DavidWatson, Mike
Stevenson, GeorgeWicks, Malcolm
Stott, RogerWigley, Dafydd
Strang, Dr GavinWilliams, Alan (Swansea W)
Straw, JackWilliams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Sutcliffe, GerryWilson, Brian
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Winnick, David
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)Worthington, Tony
Thurnham, PeterWray, Jimmy
Timms, StephenWright, Dr Tony
Tipping, PaddyYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Trickett, JonTellers for the Ayes:
Turner, DennisMr. Eric Clarke and
Tyler, PaulMr. Kevin Hughes.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Aitken, JonathanClifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Alexander, RichardCoe, Sebastian
Alison, Michael (Selby)Colvin, Michael
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)Congdon, David
Amess, DavidConway, Derek
Ancram, MichaelCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F)
Arbuthnot, JamesCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Cope, Sir John
Ashby, DavidCormack, Sir Patrick
Atkins, RobertCurry, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Davies, Quentin (Stamf'd)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Davis, David (Boothferry)
Baker, Kenneth (Mole V)Day, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Deva, Nirj Joseph
Baldry, TonyDicks, Terry
Banks, Matthew (Southport)Dorrell, Stephen
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bellingham, HenryDover, Den
Bendall, VivianDuncan, Alan
Beresford, Sir PaulDuncan Smith, Iain
Biffen, JohnDunn, Bob
Body, Sir RichardDurant, Sir Anthony
Bonsor, Sir NicholasDykes, Hugh
Booth, HartleyEggar, Tim
Boswell, TimElletson, Harold
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)Emery, Sir Peter
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld)
Bowden, Sir AndrewEvans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Bowis, JohnEvans, Nigel (Ribble V)
Boyson, Sir RhodesEvennett, David
Brandreth, GylesFaber, David
Brazier, JulianFabricant, Michael
Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)Fenner, Dame Peggy
Browning, Mrs AngelaField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Forman, Nigel
Budgen, NicholasForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Burns, SimonForth, Eric
Burt, AlistairFox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Butcher, JohnFox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Butler, PeterFreeman, Roger
Butterfill, JohnFrench, Douglas
Carlisle, John (Luton N)Fry, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)Gale, Roger
Carrington, MatthewGallie, Phil
Carttiss, MichaelGardiner, Sir George
Cash, WilliamGarnier, Edward
Channon, PaulGill, Christopher
Chapman, Sir SydneyGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Churchill, MrGoodlad, Alastair
Clappison, JamesGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorst, Sir JohnMellor, David
Grant, Sir Anthony (SW Cambs)Merchant, Piers
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mills, Iain
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hague, WilliamMoate, Sir Roger
Hamilton, Sir ArchibaldMolyneaux, Sir James
Hampson, Dr KeithMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hanley, JeremyNeedham, Richard
Hannam, Sir JohnNeubert, Sir Michael
Harris, DavidNewton, Tony
Haselhurst, Sir AlanNicholls, Patrick
Hawkins, NickNorris, Steve
Hawksley, WarrenOnslow, Sir Cranley
Hayes, JerryOppenheim, Phillip
Heald, OliverOttaway, Richard
Health, Sir EdwardPage, Richard
Hendry, CharlesPaice, James
Higgins, Sir TerencePatnick, Sir Irvine
Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)Patten, John
Hogg, Douglas (Grantham)Pattie, Sir Geoffrey
Horam, JohnPawsey, James
Hordern, Sir PeterPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howard, MichaelPickles, Eric
Howell, David (Guildf'd)Portillo, Michael
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)Powell, William (Corby)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)Rathbone, Tim
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Redwood, John
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne)Renton, Tim
Hunter, AndrewRichards, Rod
Hurd, DouglasRifkind, Malcolm
Jack, MichaelRobathan, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)Roberts, Sir Wyn
Jessel, TobyRobertson, Raymond S (Ab'd'n S)
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRobinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Roe, Mrs Marion
Jones, Robert B (W Herts)Rowe, Andrew
Jopling, MichaelRumbold, Dame Angela
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineSackville, Tom
Key, RobertSainsbury, Sir Timothy
King, TomShaw, David (Dover)
Kirkhope, TimothyShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knapman, RogerShephard, Mrs Gillian
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd)
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Sims, Sir Roger
Knox, Sir DavidSkeet, Sir Trevor
Kynoch, GeorgeSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lait, Mrs JacquiSmith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld)
Lamont, NormanSoames, Nicholas
Lawrence, Sir IvanSpeed, Sir Keith
Legg, BarrySpencer, Sir Derek
Leigh, EdwardSpicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset)
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)Spink, Dr Robert
Lidington, DavidSpring, Richard
Lilley, PeterSproat, Iain
Lloyd, Sir Peter (Fareham)Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lord, MichaelStanley, Sir John
Luff, PeterSteen, Anthony
Lyell, Sir NicholasStephen, Michael
MacGregor, JohnStern, Michael
MacKay, AndrewStewart, Allan
Maclean, DavidStreeter, Gary
McLoughlin, PatrickSumberg, David
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickSweeney, Walter
Madel, Sir DavidSykes, John
Maitland, Lady OlgaTapsell, Sir Peter
Mans, KeithTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Marland, PaulTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Marlow, TonyTaylor, Sir Teddy
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Temple-Morris, Peter
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)Thomason, Roy
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Mawhinney, Dr BrainThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Townend, John (Bridlington)Whitney, Ray
Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)Whittingdale, John
Tracey, RichardWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Tredinnick, DavidWiggin, Sir Jerry
Trend, MichaelWilkinson, John
Trotter, NevilleWiletts, David
Twinn, Dr IanWilshire, David
Vaughan, Sir GerardWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Viggers, PeterWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesf'ld)
Waldegrave, WilliamWolfson, Mark
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)Yeo, Tim
Waller, GaryYoung, Sir George
Ward, John
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)Tellers for the Noes:
Waterson, NigelMr. Timothy Wood and
Watts, JohnMr. Bowen Wells.

Question accordingly negatived.

Bill committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).