HC Deb 15 May 1958 vol 588 cc676-82

6.45 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

I beg to move, in page 4, line 41, at the end to insert: Provided that payment of grants in aid under subsection (12) of section seventy of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, shall be paid only after consultation with the local authorities. Our desire here is to try to inject a little fairness into what we consider a very unfair Bill. This Amendment deals with the schools which are receiving very special treatment, direct grant-aided schools. They are, in fact, to be taken out of the Bill altogether and to continue to receive the grants that they have received in the past. On an average, those direct grant-aided schools will be receiving 60 per cent. of their total costs.

Our feeling is that, at the very least, the manner of handling this question of these direct grant schools should be such that, before any payments are made at all, there should always be consultation with the local authority concerned. If I may illustrate the position by taking the case of Edinburgh, perhaps the point which we are seeking to bring out will emerge. At present, according to the information that we have been given, Edinburgh has a number of direct grant schools, but actually that number is to be increased, because another three schools are to be added to the existing number.

According to my calculations on the figures given to us at present, these direct grant schools in Edinburgh received from the central Government, in 1956, £378,801. They are receiving substantially more than is being paid to the Burgh of Kirkcaldy, which is quite a large burgh, so that here is a very great advantage to Edinburgh, and this sum will be increased when three other schools are added to the number.

These direct grant schools are concentrated in certain localities, and Edinburgh is particularly rich in them. Our view is that, at the very least, the policy of these schools should be a matter for the local authority, and that they should be treated on a regional basis, so that Edinburgh should not reap all these advantages. It is true, also, that Edinburgh will receive the general grant, roughly on the basis per head of the population, but Edinburgh will be receiving, in addition, this large sum spent on these special schools.

It seems to us that the local authority should be taken into consultation as to what the policy of these schools should be, and it seems to me, and I think my hon. Friends agree with me, that these schools should be treated as regional schools, and not as covering the City of Edinburgh alone. I know that in some measure they are partly regional, but they should be made much more widely regional than they are now, and should be operated on a regional basis.

This question of the payment of a 60 per cent. grant to these schools should be a matter to be decided after consultations with the local authorities concerned. If these schools are to go on receiving 60 per cent. grants, it would seem to me to be very unfair that they should be treated on a percentage basis and should be the only schools to be treated on that basis, while in the case of all the others this advantage should be wiped out.

We should have liked to have had the time to speak much more strongly on this matter, but at this stage, we say that the very least that the Government should do is to put these schools on a semi-regional basis. On those grounds, we hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will accept the amendment.

Mr. Thompson

I beg to second the Amendment.

I should like to say a word or two in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), who moved it. Perhaps I may put this argument to the Minister who will reply. One reason which might compel the Government to accept this Amendment is that it is very modest, and perhaps also the warning from this side of the House that we feel tempted to go a great deal further than this. Consultation with the local authorities seems to be the very minimum of control of this form of expenditure that we have a right to expect.

For my part, I feel that the Government ought to have taken the opportunity on this Bill to rationalise these schools. The parents who send their children there do so under the impression that they are paying for their children's education, but the figures which my hon. Friend has quoted show that, in fact, 60 per cent. comes from the Minister and the Govern- ment, and, indeed, in most cases, a very substantial proportion of the rest comes from the local authorities. The proportion which, in fact, is paid by the parents is between 25 and 30 per cent.

I should have thought that in logic there was something to be said either for making parents pay the whole cost of the education of their children if inclined to do so, or for placing these schools completely within the public sector. We have not attempted to be quite as ambitious as that. At this stage of the proceedings on the Bill, I hope that the Minister may feel able to accept such a modest proposal as that made by my hon. Friend.

Mr. N. Macpherson

I think I can give hon. Gentlemen opposite some satisfaction in this matter, but, first, I should say that the Amendment goes perhaps rather wider than they appreciate—than merely dealing with grant-aided schools. It would also cover the expenditure of education authorities not being relevant expenditure for the purposes of the Bill. In other words, it would also cover school meals, milk, the removal of air raid shelters and the Youth Service.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to ensure that no more preferential treatment will be given to direct grant secondary schools than is given to the education authorities. I would point out to them that there is already consultation with the local authorities, because the Secretary of State already has to have regard to any representations made by an education authority on the draft regulations governing these grants. These grants are made under regulations under Section 59 (1) of the 1946 Act, and the draft regulations have to be sent, as the House will know, to each authority and time has to be given for the authority to comment on them before the regulations are made and laid before the House. This provision will still operate, so that the Amendment, in fact, is unnecessary.

The regulations broadly provide that grants will be made, not for 60 per cent. of the expenditure, but for 60 per cent. of the maintenance expenditure or the revenue deficiency, whichever is the less. The Answer which my right hon. Friend gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), on 6th May, shows that the direct grants to these schools were estimated at nearly 60 per cent. of their maintenance expenditure at the highest and 49 per cent. at the lowest in the year 1956–57.

Grants from the Scottish Education Department to education authorities overall amounted to 63 per cent. of their total expenditure, as opposed to maintenance expenditure of the grant-aided schools, so that the voluntary schools are in a less favourable position in that they get no grant in respect of capital expenditure. I hope that this assurance will enable the House to see that there is no discrimination in favour of direct grant schools.

Mr. T. Fraser

I do not feel altogether satisfied by what the Joint Under-Secretary has said. Indeed, I could not follow him when he said that the Amendment went much wider than my hon. Friend perhaps appreciated. I was sitting with a copy of the Statute in my lap looking for a reference to school meals, milk, and so on, and they do not appear in subsection (12) at all. The main thing for us to bear in mind is that the Secretary of State is taking power to pay a grant direct to the——

Mr. N. Macpherson

The operative words are

"and of other persons providing educational services approved by the Secretary of State."

Mr. Fraser

I do not think that the provision of milk or meals is included in that. The important thing is that the Secretary of State is giving up his responsibility for looking at the cost of the provision of education by a local authority in determining the amount of money to be given by way of grant to that local authority. Consequently, he is abolishing the Education (Scotland) Fund, while adhering to his right to make grants to the managers of these other schools—specific grants to specific persons, who are providing specific kinds of education for specific pupils.

We do not like this discrimination against the vast majority of the youngsters of our country who attend the schools provided by the education authority. We regret very much that the Joint Under-Secretary could not be more forthcoming than he has been. However, there is no time at this hour of the night to argue these things at any greater length, and I can only advise my hon. Friends to support the Amendment in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 131, Noes 181.

Division No. 128.] AYES [6.56 p.m.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Fletcher, Eric Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Balfour, A. Foot, D. M. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) King, Dr. H. M.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Lawson, G. M.
Benson, Sir George George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then) Ledger, R. J.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Blackburn, F. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) MacDermot, Niall
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Hale, Leslie McInnes, J.
Boyd, T. C. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hamilton, W. W. McLeavy, Frank
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hannan, W. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Burton, Miss F. E. Hastings, S. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hayman, F. H. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Healey, Denis Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Champion, A. J. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Mann, Mrs. Jean
Chetwynd, G. R. Herbison, Miss M. Mellish, R. J.
Clunie, J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Messer, Sir F.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Holman, P. Mitchison, G. R.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Holmes, Horace Moody, A. S.
Crossman, R. H. S. Houghton, Douglas Moyle, A.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hoy, J. H. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Hubbard, T. F. Oliver, G. H.
Deer, G. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oram, A. E.
Delargy, H. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Orbach, M.
Diamond, John Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oswald, T.
Dodds, N. N. Hunter, A. E. Owen, W. J.
Donnelly, D. L. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paton, John
Dye, S. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pearson, A.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Popplewell, E.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Janner, B. Rankin, John
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Redhead, E. C.
Reeves, J. Stones, W. (Consett) Willey, Frederick
Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Swingler, S. T. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Sylvester, G. O. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Ross, William Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Thornton, E. Winterbottom, Richard
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Woof, R. E.
Sorensen, R. W. Viant, S. P.
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wheeldon, W. E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sparks, J. A. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint) Mr. Short and Mr. J. Taylor.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Wilkins, W. A.
Agnew, Sir Peter Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Aitken, W. T. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Arbuthnot, John Hall, John (Wycombe) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Armstrong, C. W. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Nairn, D. L. S.
Ashton, H. Harris, Reader (Heston) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Atkins, H. E. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Nugent, G. R. H.
Baldwin, A. E. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.
Barter, John Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Osborne, C.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Page, R. G.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Partridge, E.
Bingham, R. M. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Peel, W. J.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Bishop, F. P. Hirst, Geoffrey Pitman, I. J.
Black, C. W. Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Pitt, Miss E. M.
Bonham Carter, Mark Holland-Martin, C. J. Powell, J. Enoch
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Holt, A. F. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hornby, R. P. Ramsden, J. E.
Braine, B. R. Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Redmayne, M.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Remnant, Hon. P.
Brooman-White, R. C. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Renton, D. L. M.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Ridsdale, J. E.
Burden, F. F. A. Hulbert, Sir Norman Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hurd, A. R. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Channon, Sir Henry Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Roper, Sir Harold
Chichester-Clark, R. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cooper, A. E. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Russell, R. S.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Sharples, R. C.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Shepherd, William
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Currie, G. B. H. Keegan, D. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Dance, J. C. G. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Stevens, Geoffrey
Davidson, Viscountess Kerr, Sir Hamilton Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Kershaw, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Langford-Holt, J. A. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Deedes, W. F. Leather, E. H. C. Teeling, W.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Leavey, J. A. Temple, John M.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Leburn, W. G. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Doughty, C. J. A. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
du Cann, E. D. L. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Linstead, Sir H. N. Thomson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Duncan, Sir James
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Errington, Sir Eric Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Farey-Jones, F. W. McAdden, S. J. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Finlay, Graeme Macdonald, Sir Peter Vane, W. M. F.
Fisher, Nigel Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
George, J. C. (Pollok) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Webbe, Sir H.
Glover, D. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Godber, J. B. Maddan, Martin Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Gower, H. R. Marlowe, A. A. H. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Graham, Sir Fergus Marshall, Douglas Woollam, John Victor
Grant, W. (Woodside) Mathew, R. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Mawby, R. L.
Green, A. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grimond, J. Moore, Sir Thomas Mr. Bryan and Mr. Gibson-Watt.

It being after Seven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forwith the Questions on the Amendments moved by a Member of the Government of which notice had been given.