Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes
I beg to move, in page 9, line 33, at the end, to insert:otherwise than in pursuance of a development plan submitted under the provisions of section ten of this Act.This is a somewhat complicated Amendment. I want to remind the Committee of what has been passed in Clause 10. That has been described as the framework of the new educational system and it was implied by the Minister that it is of a rather general character. If we examine the Clause, however, we find that it is not quite as general as that. I am not going to roam over all the types of school included in it. I will take only the one example of the additional school. It says in Clause 10 (2, c) that the plan shall—
I am afraid that, in connection with this argument, I shall have to do so, because I am seeking to demonstrate to the Committee, and I hope to the satisfaction of the Minister, that in Clause 12 we are duplicating the work that Clause 10 has provided shall be done.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I do not remember the point which the hon. and learned Member says this Clause would duplicate, but if that is his argument, it is in Order.
Clause 10 provides that there must be set out in the development plan particulars as to additional schools. It is not general, because, as hon. Members will see from Sub-section (3), it is the duty of the local education authority to consult the managers and governors of schools affected. It is quite patent that unless the plan provides for a county school in a particular place, it will be impossible for the authority to know what existing schools are affected and what managers or governors shall be informed. Clearly, therefore, for the purpose of a development plan, a new additional 296 county school must be something specific. If we go back to Sub-section 2 (a) we find that it is even more specific; because the plan has to say exactly the type of education that is being provided there. As laid down by Clause 10, the development plan will have to provide an additional county school of a particular type, supplying a particular kind of education. That is perfectly plain.
Having the matter before them in the plan, the authority will have to consult the managers of all schools affected and consider all objections to the development plan which have been placed within a period of two months. Then the Minister himself has to consider the matter and to see what is behind it. He has to be satisfied. Again, we go through this procedure. Having done that, under Clause 11, which we have passed, the Minister makes an Order. The Order, by the terms of Clause 11, becomes a direction on the local education authority to proceed. I would remind the Committee that, under Clause 11,the local education order for every area shall continue to regulate the duties of the local education authority.In other words, having gone through this elaborate procedure, having got a development plan, confirmation of the Minister, and the making of an education order, it is then the duty of the local education authority to build that county school, of that particular type, in that particular spot.
Now, with my apologies to the Committee for having taken them so far back, I come to Clause 12. We have provided for the new school to go up and for it to be the duty of the local authority to do it. Let us turn to Clause 12 to see what is going to happen—I limit myself to the new county school—where the local education authority intend to establish one. We have gone through this procedure already; shall the local education authority build it? No. We start over again. The Clause says that they shall submit proposals to the Minister. A more scandalous duplication and delay in obedience to sectional interests it is difficult to imagine. Let us go on. We do not finish there. We go on to Subsection (3). It is duplicated again, because the matter goes back to the Minister. He has had it twice already. After it has gone to the Minister under 297 Sub-section (3) he will have to give public notice. Then the managers of schools affected—they have already been consulted before the plan was approved, and had an opportunity already of objecting to the Minister and so have been heard twice—for the third time are to have the right, according to the Clause, to come to the Minister and submit objections; for the third time. Not only that, but we provide another hurdle. Any ten local government electors—any ten sectional interests you like—have to be there.
Why this duplication? [An HON. MEMBER: "Waste of time."] It is not only a waste of time but it is another implied concession—hardly implied. It is an actual concession, although not in terms—to sectional interests. It is a concession to people who want to stand in the way of the plan being effective and new schools being built. The Amendment includes words to secure that there shall be no need to go through this procedure, which has already been gone through in connection with the development plan. I can imagine the procedure might be useful if it was desired to build new schools before a development plan had been approved. It would be sensible, in order to build schools ahead of the development plan, but when the development plan has been passed, this is only an invitation to every kind of obstructor, to the kind of people who say: "This is a wonderful Bill, and we want to see it in operation," because they dare not face it and oppose it, but who watch for every opportunity to put sprags in the wheel and prevent it from going full speed ahead.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Williams, whether it is in Order for Members of a Coalition Government to talk like this to one another?
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am not responsible for the way in which members of a party or of a Committee talk, to one another, so long as they do it within the bounds of Order.
§ Mr. Ede
After the language which my hon. and learned Friend has just used I am surprised that he should have felt at all hurt in the matter. The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt him. If he does feel hurt I willingly admit that it was a calm and reasoned speech. The hon. and learned Member has, I think, rather over stressed the amount of detail there will be in the development plan with regard to the schools. He said, for instance—I give just one example—that the development plan will show the spot on which the school will be situated. I very much doubt with regard to new schools whether it will show anything of the sort. It will say perhaps that in a particular town or village or district there will be a school of a particular kind built. When it comes to the actual submission of the plan it may very well be that the local education authority will propose to put it on a site that may bring it into competition with some of the other schools of the district, and members of other bodies of managers and governors will object that the school, if erected, will in some way prejudicially affect the school for which they are responsible. It may very well be that they will be quite satisfied, and were satisfied when the development plan was submitted, that a school in broad general terms in which it had been intimated was needed. It may even be that the inhabitants of the place themselves may very well feel they would sooner have it in some other part of the district than the one in which it is proposed to erect it.
Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me what is the difference between the expression in Clause 10, Subsection (3):The managers or governors of all schools … affected by the execution of the plan. …and the expression in Clause 12, Subsection (3):the managers or governors of any auxiliary school affected by the proposals. …
§ Mr. Ede
Clearly that was the point I was endeavouring to explain. The plan indicates generally that in a particular town or village, let us say, a county secondary school will be provided. It says nothing more than that. It will probably indicate the size of the school, of let us say a school for 500 secondary pupils. When it comes to the actual 299 placing of the school in a district, the locality, which was quite prepared to accept it in general terms, may have very strong views with regard to the actual location. I have, for instance, had to attend inquiries under the old Act where 10 ratepayers, as they then were, have turned up and objected very strongly to the proposal to place a school on a particular site that would involve a substantial number of children crossing a main road. The locality has very strong views indeed on occasion with regard to the exact situation of a school. If we are going to delay the development plan until, with respect to every new school, we indicate exactly where the site is and all the other details that will have to be available when the proposal is submitted, it is quite clear that we shall have imposed delays which all the day we have been trying to avoid.
Also this Clause enables 10 local government electors to make their views known. No such provision is made under the development plan. This does really give the point at which parents can make a most effective contribution to the settlement of the educational proposals for their district. For these reasons it is clearly desirable that even in respect of schools which have been included in the development plan, whether they are new schools or whether it is proposed to close an old school, there shall be specific local notice given so that the views of the locality can be made known and effectively heard. There is therefore no real duplication in this matter at all. Everyone throughout the day has been exceedingly anxious to secure two things which unless we are careful might be mutually destructive. The first is speed in the preparation of the development plan. The second is certainty that local views shall get an adequate voice in the settlement of the detailed proposals with regard to education. The Government in framing this gave consideration to the question as to whether it would be necessary, in respect of schools that had been included in a development plan, to make these proposals. We came to the conclusion that in dealing with new schools and with the closing of old schools, it was exceedingly desirable that the local people should have an effective opportunity of making their views known before the actual operation takes place.
300 I hope the Committee will feel that this is not an unreasonable provision with regard to new schools. One hopes that the development plan is going to look a good many years ahead in the framing of its proposals, and a perfectly general proposal in a development plan may be sufficient, provided everyone in the locality has an assurance that when the actual scheme for the new school or the closing of an old one is to be put into operation, they will be able to make their views heard. This will enable us to get rid of a good many objections on points of detail that might arise on the stage of the development plan unless we include in Clause 12 this opportunity for making proposals.
§ Major Woolley
Does the proposal cover existing schools, because Clause 12 (b) says:to maintain as a county school any school which at the time being is not such a school.Therefore the school may become a county school and not come within the proposal.
§ Mr. Ede
That is precisely the kind of thing on which the locality might desire to have an opportunity of expressing an opinion. Let us suppose that the managers of some voluntary school propose to hand a fabric over to the county to be maintained in future as a county school. Parents may very well say, "We would far sooner have a new county school than take over this building, for which we have never had any great respect in the past," and try to make their views known. I hope the Committee will realise that this is an endeavour, where the actual domesticity of the locality is being considered, to give parents of the children a really effective voice, because after all 100 local government electors only means five husbands and five wives, that is on the assumption that each one of them has only one wife and that they are law-abiding citizens. Seriously, this is an example of the way in which this Clause is an improvement on what is now the law because under the existing law you have to get 10 ratepayers. Very often you get an objection taken to the parent of a pupil on the ground that he is not a ratepayer. Now most parents come under the heading of local government electors and very rarely are the mothers of schoolchildren ratepayers. The only case, generally speaking, is where the mother is a widow. We really have endeavoured in this Clause 301 to make local wishes effective with regard to the domesticity of particular communities.
§ Mr. Ede
We are here re-enacting the existing law, which gives three months for 10 ratepayers or the managers of other schools to lodge their objections. Three months is not an unreasonable time to give these people, who have to hold their meetings, and, quite possibly, want to have local consultations with a view to avoiding raising objections. If they can get together to solve their problems, it may save the longer delay which would occur if they had to make their objections in a shorter time.
§ Mr. C. Davies
I am surprised at my hon. Friend's answer. When I saw the Amendment, I thought my hon. and learned Friend had filled in a lacuna in the drafting of the Bill. I had no idea that it was intended to duplicate in Clause 12 all that we had on Clause 10. I thought that my hon. and learned Friend was taking a long time to explain the obvious, which we had accepted. Now I find that it is really the intention of the Government that there shall be duplication, and, as a result, delay and more delay. The Parliamentary Secretary did not do justice to himself or to Clause 10. It was suggested that Clause 10 does not particularise, but merely deals with a general situation, and that only when you particularise would Clause 12 apply. They have tospecify which of the said schools the authority would propose and be county primary schools, county secondary schoolsand so on respectively. Then it goes on:specify what alterations are, by reason of the provisions of this Act or of any regulations made thereunder, required in the premises of any school proposed to be either a county school or an auxiliary school, and furnish estimates of the cost of those alterations.Nothing could be more particular than that.
§ Mr. Davies
It says:specify what alterations are, by reason of the provisions of this Act or of any regulations made thereunder, required in the premises of any school proposed to be either a county school or an auxiliary school, and furnish estimates of the cost of those alterations.Very well, you have a school now which is not a county school. Under the Bill that can be changed into a county school. If they propose to do so alterations will have to be made and they will have to specify them.
§ It being one hour after the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.