HC Deb 14 May 1953 vol 515 cc1418-27

(1) Section ninety-four of the Local Government Act, 1933, shall have effect, as if, in the proviso thereto (which provides that a person shall not, by reason of his being a teacher in, or being otherwise employed in, an educational institution maintained or assisted by a local education authority, be disqualified for being a member of a committee or sub-committee of a local authority outside London appointed for the purposes mentioned in that proviso), the word "or" were omitted at the end of paragraph (b) and the following words were inserted at the end of paragraph (c), namely: — or (d) appointed for the purposes of their functions under the enactments mentioned in subsection (1) of section thirty-nine of the Children Act, 1948.

(2) Section sixty-four of the London Government Act, 1939, shall have effect as if, in the proviso thereto (which makes, in relation to membership of certain committees and subcommittees of the London County Council, provision corresponding to that made by the proviso to the said section ninety-four in relation to membership of committees and subcommittees of other local authorities), after the words "of the education committee," there were inserted the words "of the children's committee."—[Mr. Pickthorn.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.39 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn)

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

I think that this new Clause which I have to commend to the House is fairly plain upon the face of it. Hon. Members who may not have followed our earlier proceedings will get the gist of it, leaving out the draftsmen's necessary verbiage, if they read it as follows: Section ninety-four of the Local Government Act, 1933, shall have effect, as if, … the following words were inserted … ' or (d) appointed for the purposes of their functions under the enactments mentioned in subsection (1) of section thirty-nine of the Children Act, 1948.' Then there is a subsection which extends the effect of that to the London County Council.

Hon. Members who were present upstairs, or who have read our proceedings, will remember that we had before us an Amendment suggesting that it should be made possible for teachers to sit upon these children's committees. The Committee upstairs did not find it possible to agree to that Amendment because they unanimously accepted the advice which I gave them—upon expert advice given to me—that the Amendment as drafted was not consistent with some earlier statutes. At the same time, an assurance was given that we should look into the possibility of redrafting the Amendment, and I believe that all hon. Members upstairs were unanimous about our intentions.

I hope that those hon. Members opposite who are particularly interested will agree that these words do give the effect that was sought. By the Act of 1933 teachers were disqualified—not for the first time, but specifically—from sitting on committees and sub-committees of local authorities. There was a proviso freeing teachers to sit on such bodies as education committees, mental defective committees and public library committees, and it seems slightly absurd that if teachers are qualified to sit upon those committees they should not also be entitled to sit upon children's committees.

The sole purpose of this new Clause is to make it possible for teachers in the employ of local education authorities to be members of children's committees. I hope it will be agreed that the new Clause does carry out that intention.

Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton, Itchen)

I thank the Minister for this concession. It really only restores the previous position. Formerly, children's committees were sub-committees of education committees, and teachers were allowed by law to become co-opted members of education committees and, therefore, to sit upon children's committees.

When the legislation inspired by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was passed it was decided that the children's committee must be entirely separate from the education committee, with separate officers, and that debarred teachers from being co-opted members of the children's committees as they had been before. I am grateful to the Minister for having made this concession, and where local authorities take advantage of it and co-opt teachers to their children's committees I am sure that those teachers, by reason of their experience and knowledge, will be able to perform a very useful service.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Hayman. New Clause.

Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)


Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

On a point of order. Yesterday, when I obtained the Order Paper I saw that among the Amendments to this Bill there was a new Clause in the name of the Minister of Education, dealing with the provision of transport in respect of certain pupils. It is only within the last half hour that I have found that that new Clause has been removed from the Order Paper and is not to be moved.

Mr. Speaker

I must deal with the list of Amendments as they exist today.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

Further to that point of order. I was placed in the same difficulty as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I thought I must have dreamt that that new Clause had previously been included in the list of Amendments when I read the Order Paper today. It would be courteous on the part of Ministers, if they have to withdraw an Amendment or a new Clause—as I understand they have had to do in this case, on technical grounds—to communicate with those whom they know to be interested so that we shall be in possession of the information.

The Minister of Education (Miss Florence Horsbrugh)

As the right hon. Gentleman has rightly said, at the very last moment a technical difficulty arose on the transport side, and when it was brought to my notice I thought it would be inconvenient to put down a technical Amendment to overcome the difficulty and that it would be better to withdraw the new Clause and see if it could be suitably amended when it reached another place.

3.45 p.m.

Mr. Hale

I should have supported this new Clause, Sir. Had I known it was to be withdrawn I should have put it down in my own name, so that it could be discussed.

Mr. Speaker

I quite understand the point which has been raised, but I cannot listen to a debate on a Clause which is not on the Order Paper.

Mr. Hale

Surely there was always a case for the acceptance by the Chair of a manuscript Amendment on the Report stage if a Clause which everyone thought was to be moved ministerially, with the consent of the Government, was removed from the Order Paper without any consultation with anybody else?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot accept any new Clause by way of a manuscript Amendment. If the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) is not here to move his new Clause no one else can do it for him.

Mr. Blackburn

My hon. Friend is not here because he is sitting on a Private Bill Committee upstairs which will not be concluded until 4 o'clock. In view of the other new Clauses which were down on the Order Paper he did not anticipate that this one would be called before that Committee had finished sitting. Is it not possible to move it formally on his behalf, Sir?

Mr. Speaker

It is against the rules of order. The obvious remedy for an hon. Member who may be engaged elsewhere is to get the assistance of other hon. Members, who can put their names to his Amendment. If there had been two or three names, as there usually is to a new Clause of this kind, I should have called one of the other names in his absence.

Mr. Blackburn

I did not put my name down to this new Clause, but I promised I would support it.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

This is another case where difficulty has arisen owing to the sudden withdrawal of a Government new Clause on which considerable debate was expected. Since the hon. Member for Falmouth and Cam-borne (Mr. Hayman) is not here, Mr. Speaker, would you accept a manuscript Amendment in the same terms, signed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn)? That would seem to get over the difficulty in which I feel the Government have placed us.

Mr. Speaker

I should be very willing to do anything I could to help the House in this matter, but I cannot accept a new Clause on the Report stage by way of a manuscript Amendment.

Mr. Blackburn

Do I understand that the two previous new Clauses—one in the name of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) and the other in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Ilford, North (Sir G. Hutchinson) have also been withdrawn, Sir?

Mr. Speaker

The first one was not selected and the second one is out of order. Miss Horsbrugh.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

In view of the difficulty in which we are placed, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be adjourned." We have been placed in a very considerable difficulty by the action of the Government. I do not dispute that the Minister was placed in a serious difficulty, and that she was anxious to deal with the matter of the new Clause—which she is not now moving—in whatever way would be most convenient to the House and would assist the promotion of the Bill.

We do not wish to criticise the Minister for having withdrawn the Clause, but we rather regret that the knowledge of her intention was not made available to us until so very shortly before the proceedings opened this afternoon. That may have been unavoidable.

Mr. Kenneth Thompson (Liverpool, Walton)

On a point of order.

Hon. Members

We are on a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

What point of order? It is not a point of order we are discussing. A Motion is being moved. Mr. Thompson.

Mr. Thompson

Is it in order, after you, Mr. Speaker, have called the Minister of Education, for an hon. Gentleman to move the adjournment of the debate?

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid it is not. I was listening to what the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) had to say, but I have heard enough now to know what his case is. The difficulty arises because the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) was not in his place. I have called the Minister of Education to move an Amendment. We cannot discuss the proposed new Clauses.

Mr. Sydney Silvennan (Nelson and Colne)

Surely, Mr. Speaker, with great respect, you must have known whom you had called. Surely the question of whom you had called is a matter which must have been known to the Chair some considerable time ago. My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) had moved his Motion and was half way through his speech in support of his Motion. Was it not a little late at that time of day, on a point of order, to revert to a point then long past?

Mr. Speaker

I was waiting to gather what the reasons for the Motion were before I interrupted the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart). I now find that it refers to matters which had passed, because I called the Minister of Education to move her Amendment, and so we are at that stage now. I think it was only courteous that I should have listened to what the hon. Member for Fulham, East had to say. After all, his point might have been a quite different one.

Mr. William Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)

May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker? There was a new Clause which the Minister has withdrawn. She proposes to have it moved into the Bill in another place. My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) has a new Clause, and because of his inability to attend here he was not able to move it. Will he have an opportunity of doing what the Minister can do, and have it moved in another place? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that we were in great difficulty over another Bill recently because new Clauses and other Amendments to that Bill were made in another place. Apparently the same machinery is to be used on this occasion, and we shall be denied opportunity to discuss these things.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member will not be heard in another place, any more than a Member of another place would be heard here, but if he can interest a Member of another place in his view I have no doubt he could secure a discussion of it there.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

I should like to ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker. You have appreciated the difficulties we are in on this side of the House and you have learned how they have come about. My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) could not move his new Clause because he was at a meeting upstairs. Could he move it at a later stage? I ask because it seems to me that we are put in these difficulties because the Government did not notify us they were not going to proceed with a new Clause of their own.

Mr. Speaker

The answer to that, I am afraid, must be in the negative.

Mr. M. Stewart

I should like your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on this point. I understood you to say that you were ruling out of order my Motion that further consideration of the Bill should be adjourned on the ground that you had already called the Minister of Education. I would very respectfully submit to you that the only reason I did not rise half a moment earlier was that immediately before calling the Minister of Education you were engaged in giving guidance on points of order. Unless I committed the discourtesy of rising while you were on your feet, Mr. Speaker, it was not possible for me to rise earlier. Immediately on your disposing of the point of order of my hon. Friend, you said, "The Minister of Education." So it was literally impossible for me to make sooner what would otherwise have been a quite valid point. I would most respectfully submit, therefore, that if the only objection to my Motion is that you had already called the Minister of Education, that you reconsider calling the Amendment of the Minister of Education now. My hon. Friend the Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) is now here and it may be agreeable to all parties in the House and, I trust, to yourself if he be allowed now to move his new Clause first.

Mr. Speaker

It would be very agreeable to me, but I am afraid I cannot allow it.

Mr. R. R. Stokes (Ipswich)

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, I understood you to say, in answering a point of order, that you had called my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) to hear his argument as to why further consideration of the Bill should be postponed. You did say that. If that was your reason for calling him, surely you cannot now say that you consider him to be out of order for something that was in order at the time?

Mr. Speaker

I listened to the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) long enough to discover that his speech referred to past matters. That was the position. I am sorry that the House is in these difficulties, but it is no fault of mine.

Mr. Stokes

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, my hon. Friend did not finish his speech. You called him, but he was prevented from going on because an hon. Gentleman opposite rose to a rather clever point of order. I submit to you that you really ought to reconsider the matter and allow my hon. Friend to state his case.

Mr. Speaker

I could not allow that. I heard enough of what the hon. Member had to say in suggesting that further consideration be postponed.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I came in only in the middle of all this, but I understand that the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) was prevented from being here to move his new Clause by other business of the House in another part of the building. We really ought to try to find a way out of this tangle if we can. Actually, the Minister of Education had not used any words to move her Amendment. Perhaps, then, Mr. Speaker, you would hold that that Amendment is not yet before the House. On the other hand, you may hold that it is technically impossible. I should be very glad, if it is possible and necessary, to move a Motion to enable us to debate the new Clause, if one can be devised.

Mr. W. T. Proctor (Eccles)

I understood, Mr. Speaker, that when you called the Minister of Education she did not say anything. I was anticipating that she would make some explanation to the House about the withdrawal of her new Clause. Had she done so, we should not have got on to any other business.

Mr. Speaker

That was not the reason in my mind at all. I am as anxious as hon. Members are to find a way out of the difficulty, but hon. Members will realise that I am bound as strictly by the rules of order as they. A possibility that occurs to me is that after we have finished with the Report stage of the Bill there might be a Motion to recommit the Bill on the new Clause of the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman). The whole thing could be done today if that is agreeable.

Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)

Why not do it now? Surely, it is rather unusual, after the Report stage to go back to Committee. Why cannot the Leader of the House move that the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House to consider the new Clause?

Mr. Speaker

There has to be recommittal if the new Clause is to be considered.

Mr. Bowles

Now, surely,

Mr. Ede

I hope that we shall be able to come to some arangement on the lines suggested by the Leader of the House. I am quite sure that no hon. Member of the House would desire that we should strangle ourselves with our own Standing Orders, which is quite an easy thing to do if we intend to commit suicide. I would have thought that it might be possible to forget that the right hon. Lady rose, and that the hon. Member for Falmouth and Camborne (Mr. Hayman) might be allowed to move his Clause, because he was out of the House on the business of the House. Everybody, I think, was taken by surprise by the fact that a new Clause which we expected to take some time had, in fact, disappeared from the Order Paper.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

We are in a great difficulty here. I understand that if we dispose of the Minister's Amendment which I have called her to move, and if a Motion is put down to recommit the Bill in respect of the new Clause of the hon. Member, that could be done. If that is done, I am agreeable to it.

Mr. Crookshank

I am only trying to be helpful, Sir. I understand that if the two Amendments of my right hon. Friend are cleared off there will then be a Motion to recommit the Bill in respect of the new Clause of the hon. Gentleman and nothing else. That, I think, would get us out of the difficulty because a decision would be taken then in Committee instead of on Report. The Clause would be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House and, therefore, would be discussed in Committee and disposed of one way or another. It would not have to come up subsequently, and the Bill would be reported. If, Mr. Speaker, you are giving us that advice, I will at once draft the necessary Amendment.

Mr. Speaker

That is the only way I can see out of this difficult situation. Miss Horsbrugh.