HC Deb 08 May 1963 vol 677 cc596-628
Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Lady Tweedsmuir. The first Amendment.

Lady Tweedsmuir rose

Mr. Ross

Would I be in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in moving, That further consideration of the Bill be now adjourned?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I have called the noble Lady to move the first Amendment. A later opportunity will, no doubt, arise.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, to leave out from the beginning to "a" and to insert: "There shall be".

In Committee, the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) proposed that, instead of the Secretary of State being given power to establish an examinations board, the board should be brought into being by the Bill itself. I promised to consider this, and the Amendment gives effect to that proposal in a way which, I hope, is acceptable to the House.

Mr. Ross

We agree with what the noble Lady has said. This was a matter which we brought to her notice in Committee, and I am very glad to have the opportunity of replying to the Amendment she has now moved on Report.

Clause I has "regulations" in every second line. It is regulations rampant. We, as Parliament, could not even be trusted by the Government to take the decision to establish this new examinations board. I am very glad that we have at last got something over. I did not in Committee gain the impression that we had been given such a definite promise as the noble Lady has now translated into legislative action, but we are all the more grateful, even though somewhat surprised.

It does not mean a great deal—let us not deceive ourselves about that. It means that we are to establish a board, without any "mays", "shalls", "wills", and "if the Secretary of State happens to be there at the time and happens to think that it is the right time to do it". it is very safe to do it tonight because the chances are that we will not find the Secretary of State, who is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel. Parliament now establishes a board for conducting examinations for the award of certificate; relating to secondary education and awarding such certificates; advising the Secretary of State on matters relating to examinations for pupils receiving secondary education. That is the extent of what we are receiving from this Amendment, and all the other things are still left to be dealt with by regulation.

In other words, we give the right to the Secretary of State, who makes regulations which we can discuss only by praying against them—the hon. Lady refused to change that procedure—and the debate will be very narrow. All other things are left to the good sense or otherwise of the Secretary of State, but at least we have been allowed as the Parliament of Great Britain to take back front the Secretary of State this regulation-making power and boldly we have decided to do it ourselves and ourselves to establish a board for conducting examinations and awarding certificates.

We have to thank the Government for what they have done, but we do not thank them for doing it at the hour at which they have done it. We take very strong exception to Scottish business being taken after ten o'clock and the man responsible for the business coming on at that time then not being here. If the Secretary of State for Scotland is not prepared to defend Scotland in the Cabinet and we are relegated to this time of night, he should be here. We do not want any more muttering from the Chief Whip of the Tory Party.

I was expressing my delight at this accession of good sense, however belatedly, to the Government and as have welcomed this Amendment, so we hope that they will welcome some of ours.

Mr. Willis

I was not a member of the Standing Committee which considered this Bill and I have not followed all the debates, but I appreciate that this Amendment makes some difference which is all to the good and I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is justified in thanking the lion. Lady.

However, I wonder whether the words "there shall be" ought not to come before the word "establish" instead of before "a", so that it would then read: There shall be established— it would have to be "established" and not "establish" a board (hereafter in this section referred to as 'the Board') for the following purposes.…". That would appear to make good legal sense and be better than "there shall be a board", which seems to be rather up in the air, for there is not yet a board. One assumes that it has to be established, and I think that this should read, There shall be established a Board.… With great respect to the draftsman. I think that he has put the words in the wrong place, and that the words it is proposed to insert should come before "establish" and not before "a". We say that every education authority shall do such and such a thing, or that such and such a thing shall be done. I think that this should read, "There shall be established", and not "There shall be", "a board …".

This all seems to be very much up in the air. I hope that the legal pundits will consider this again before it goes to another place, and, in the light of their experience of these matters, decide whether the words "There shall be" should be where I have suggested they ought to be. I think that "ed" should be added to "establish" to make the word "established". This seems to make good drafting sense. I do not think the Amendment makes good drafting sense, and I hope that the noble Lady will ask her draftsman to look at this again before the Bill goes to another place.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Dempsey

I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, after "education", to insert (including certificates of proficiency in junior secondary schools)". The purpose of the Amendment is to spotlight the problem of junior school education in Scotland. This type of education seems to be the Cinderella of our educational system. I have been looking at some of the memoranda issued by the Secretary of State for Scotland on our junior secondary schools, and I find that the right hon. Gentleman has been concerned with this problem for some time. Indeed, as far back as 1956, on page 9 of his Report on Education in Scotland, the Secretay of State draws attention to the number of junior secondary pupils who leave school year after year. He says: Of the 45.405 pupils who left from three-year courses, 20,968, or 46.2 per cent. had completed the course before leaving. The problem of junior secondary schools is bound up with the question of general secondary school pupil or student certificates and that is why the Amendment proposes that students leaving junior secondary schools should be awarded a certificate of proficiency issued by the Scottish Education Department.

I notice in the same Report that the Secretary of State is at great pains to appeal to the parents of students in the fourth, fifth and sixth year classes to get their children to stay on at school, and that at about that time the Secretary of State issued a pamphlet entitled, "Give Them Their Chance". We should also give junior secondary students their chance.

In pursuit of that objective I have been asking questions about how many junior secondary school students left school during 1960, 1961 and 1962. I find that during those three years 158,674 students left junior secondary schools without a chance of receiving proficiency certificates.

12.30 a.m.

Later figures indicate that it is conceivable that out of that total 50 per cent. could have qualified for some type of proficiency certificate awarded by the Secretary of State for Scotland. In other words, about 75,000 students never had the chance to leave school the proud possessors of certificates which would have been passports to industry and commerce. Instead, they left with nothing to show, except that one or two local authorities, conscious of this need, issued local education authority certificates on their own volition. If there are local authorities which are so concerned about this problem that they have been induced to issue their own certificates out of a sense of justice towards these students, I should have thought that the Scottish Education Department would have recognised that a certificate should be issued on a national and not a local authority level. I hope therefore that the Amendment will be accepted.

To carry out this purpose, local authorities would have to show some regard to the type of examination which the students would sit, and they cannot do that without knowing the type of curriculum to which the examination would be geared, as arranged by the board. It is a tragedy that our present method of grading students is based on their abilities in English and arithmetic combined. Some students are good at arithmetic and poor at English, but because the examination is based on both they are lost not only to education but to the type of society which we are trying to build. Their talents are not being exploited.

A certificate of the type I have in mind, issued by an examination board, would allow students to specialise in either English or arithmetic and there could be diversification of studies. Students whose talents are now being overlooked, because we insist upon both types of knowledge, could have their excellent qualities brought out in a comprehensive way. I believe that the Secretary of State has overlooked an important aspect of Scottish education in the need to give due recognition to junior secondary schools and their pupils. I know from experience in Lanarkshire that at the moment great emphasis is laid on both arithmetic and English in the intelligence tests. The experiments which have been carried out by some of the more enthusiastic headmasters have shown that latent talent exists and that it could easily specialise in either of these subjects.

The Amendment spotlights the Cinderella of the Scottish education system and urges that … certificates of proficiency in junior secondary schools should be issued in recognition of students' abilities in certain subjects. The Government should insist that these students have three-year courses in secondary education. It is to be regretted that some children do not. Every student should he guaranteed the minimum of three years secondary education.

The board should make sure that the last year is both effective and interesting. Most junior secondary school students merely mark time from the age of 14 to 15, counting the days until they can leave. Thus their last year in school must be made interesting as well as effective. It is time that the Secretary of State tackled this problem, for this age group represents the largest single element in every Scottish school, nearly 70 per cent. of the school population.

These students, who are about to enter industry, commerce, administrative posts and public services should have their lessons in arithmetic, geography, English, history and so on geared so that, in any examination formula, recognition is taken of the type of career the student will follow. We have a great responsibility to these young people and I make no apology for raising this matter in the early hours of the morning. As I have said, the certificate I have in mind would represent a passport, a gateway, to industry, adult life and any other following the student might wish to be engaged in.

It is because I feel very sore at the omission of a recognised Scottish junior secondary certificate of education that I raise this matter. I am not alone in this. A number of worthy headmasters are, of their own volition, trying to overcome this omission. I hope that the hon. Lady can give us some hope that the Government intend to do something.

The Secretary of State and his predecessors have lamented the number of junior secondary school students who have failed to complete the essential minimum of three years secondary education. I believe that last year's figure of completions was lower than the previous year's. If the right hon. Gentleman is so concerned he will surely try to do something in order to imbue the students and their parents with the feeling that there is a future for children in junior secondary schools and that it may be an exciting future if the children take advantage of the courses A certificate of proficiency would enable them to offer themselves with confidence for the duties lying ahead.

We will not build our atomic ships or our affluent society, we will not electrify our railways nor achieve automation without these students. I appeal to the hon. Lady to do something tangible in order to get them to realise that they are not Marking time at these schools but are receiving a first-class education with opportunity for employment and vocation and the exercise of their talents and qualities.

Why should the academic stream look forward to their certificate of education and the ordinary level stream to the ordinary certificate when these pupils have no such reward for their studies to look forward to? Why this discrimination? When making provision for those gifted to use their heads we should also make provision for those gifted to do things with their hands. I am convinced that a certificate of the kind I suggest would harness the initiative of these pupils, encourage the resourcefulness of the teachers and enjoy the good will of the parents.

12.45 a.m.

Mr. Lawson

I thank my hon. Friend for this Amendment although I do not wholly agree with its intent and with all that he said. But I am grateful that it enables us to focus attention on what I consider to be one of the most serious problems in our educational set-up. My hon. Friend emphasised that in his opinion if a junior secondary certificate were attained it would largely rectify the difficulties under which the junior secondary school is functioning. I should like to think that that is true, but I doubt it. What disturbs me most is that junior secondary education in Scotland is not fulfilling the hopes with which the system was set up. We have a three-way division. When I first entered the House I asked in Grand Committee why so many more boys and girls left the Scottish schools at the first opportunity than was the case in England and Wales, particularly in the South. It was suggested that in the South they could work for the ordinary certificate whereas in Scotland it had to be the full five years certificate. I understand that the ordinary certificate was introduced to induce boys and girls to continue longer at school. The evidence is that there has been a substantial response to the ordinary certificate.

In many parts of Scotland—not every part but certainly in Lanarkshire, which is the largest educational authority in the area—whereas we had a two-way division of school children, the junior and senior secondary schools aiming at the five-year certificate, now we have a three-way division; three, four and five years. The hon. Lady recently gave me a figure of 39 per cent. but I think that she will agree that it is more likely that 69 per cent. are involved; for the largest part of the boys and girls are classified about the age of 12 for junior secondary schools. They are sent to a school which in many cases, and in Lanarkshire the majority of cases, provide only a three-year course.

Nearly half of the children do not even complete the three-year course, but for those who do, there is nothing to follow. If the parents, feeling that the child is a little slow in picking up education, wish to give him the best education their resources will permit and wish him to remain at school for another year or two years, it is a waste of time for the child to continue at school, because he will merely repeat the third year. My hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), who knows the position much more intimately than I do, talked about marking time in the last year. Not only is that the position but the Bill, unless the Amendment is accepted, will do nothing about it. That is why I am glad that my hon. Friend put the Amendment down.

In Committee we asked where the examination board and the 70 per cent. of our youngsters fitted in. The answer was that under the Bill at present they did not fit in at all, because the examination board would be concerned only with certificate courses—for possibly 30 per cent. of our boys and girls. Today, junior secondary education—not in all cases; there is evidence of good efforts being made, and some good schools—is a category that we want to get rid of. Therefore, instead of urging the establishment of a junior secondary school certificate, which would require the continuance of these schools, we want to get rid of the segregation that too often provides an inferior education.

I am not talking about inferior education in relation to my authority, but the hon. Lady knows that the 1961 Report of the Department of Education contains a special article on junior secondary schools. She will know that the Report is very critical of these schools, and talks of a teacher shortage, and makes the point, on page 37, that non-certificate courses as a rule have had to bear far more than a proportionate share of the burden."— that is, the burden of the shortage of teachers. Authorities generally feel obliged to give priority to the needs of the pupils following certificate courses, since it is on them that all the professions including the teaching profession, depend for their recruits. Moreover, very many secondary school teachers prefer senior secondary work. This statement uses moderate language, but it is quite evident that serious deficiencies exist in many junior secondary schools.

I return to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Aidrie: if the introduction of this certificate could rectify the difficulty nobody would welcome it more than I, but I doubt whether this will achieve the purpose.

Mr. Dempsey

I am sure that my hon. Friend will bear in mind that it has been argued that in relation to this certificate there would require to be an attractive and effective curriculum to make it a working proposition.

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend has spent a lot of time on this matter, and I am grateful to him for the thought he has put in. My objectives are the same as his, except that I place much less emphasis than he does on the occupational nature of the education to be given. These children are children whose horizons should be opened up and widened. When a child is not so quick at picking up things, more time should be spent on it, in giving it the same benefit that other children have, to go on at school until they are 18, 19, 20 or 21 years old—

Mr. Speaker

I would ask the hon. Member to remember the issue that is before the House. The giving of more time would not, prima fade, be affected by the inclusion of these certificates in the terms of the Amendment.

Mr. Lawson

The point a: issue is whether or not a certificate of this sort would produce the result that my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie believes it would. Because of this my hon. Friend has to put forward this Amendment. I seriously doubt whether it will produce the results, but am trying to give some of tie reasons why I entertain doubts.

A certificate of this nature might, in fact, result in an over-heavy concentration upon that type of education which can most readily be crammed into children of these ages—that is, a concentration upon job-getting characteristics. I fear that that is what that type of education would result in.

I started by saying that I doubted whether or not this was something we could support and I repeat that, although it is excellent that the mater should be raised by my hon. Friend, I think that when he reflects on the matter he will conclude that, rather than a junior secondary certificate, we should seek the abolition of the junior secondary school.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

At the risk of dividing the burghs of Lanarkshire, I am inclined to agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) rather than with my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Dempsey) on this issue of having a junior secondary certificate. Yet, my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge has performed a useful service in calling attention to the needs of these junior secondary pupils, for rather more than two-thirds of the pupils in Scotland are among them, and the figures which the Secretary of State has given in his latest annual Report. "Edu- cation in Scotland in 1962", are really disturbing so far as the junior secondary children are concerned.

The figures are reasonably encouraging so far as the senior children go in terms of encouraging them to stay on at school; but if we look at the junior secondary children, we find a very different story. Out of 56,703 children who left school last year, the number who remained out of those on three-year courses after reaching the statutory leaving age was only 4,286, which was a decrease of 132 on the previous year. These are deplorable figures and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, if I thought that the establishment of a junior secondary certificate under this board would help to improve the situation in the junior secondary schools, then I should be in favour of it; but I am sure that this is not the general answer.

There is a good deal of wisdom in the latest Report, especially in that junior secondary courses should reflect the importance of "learning by doing", and that, in the words of the Report, .… these schools will have to avoid the danger that the few certificate pupils may absorb a disproportionate amount of time and attention and may divert the main effort of the schools from their major purpose of providing a suitable education for the rest of their pupils". But the main issue in the Report is the fact of the percentage of pupils leaving before completing the three-year course. It varies a great deal from one local authority to another, and the Report states The considerable variation in the percentages in different areas continued, reflecting in some measure the differing practice of Education Authorities regarding the transfer of pupils to secondary education". In other words, the number of junior secondary children who are not even completing a three-year course is related very closely to the kind of promotion and selection techniques that are used by different local authorities.

1.0 a.m.

I am sure that the main answer to the problem of the boys and girls in junior secondary courses is to bring them into a common school and to make them part of a common secondary course in which children of differing abilities can live alongside each other during the early years of their secondary school life. In that way there could be a good deal of flexibility in the development of children, and in that way I am sure we should find that substantial numbers—I do not wish to overstate the case—in the junior secondary groups would wish to go on at least to the fourth year to take the ordinary level certificate, and more would wish to go on to take the higher levels of the Scottish certificate of education. I do not think a formal certificate is the answer for many of them. Indeed, it would be unfortunate if we went still further along the road of having a certificate-ridden system of education.

There is one further difficulty which my hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie would have to face about his Amendment. Even if one admitted that there was some usefulness in having a certificate of education for some of the junior secondary children, I think this examination board, under the Bill, is utterly unsuited for shaping that kind of certificate. This examination board has its own weaknesses, that we have discussed in relation to its function of dealing with the present Scottish certificate of education, with its highly academic bent. This board, with its highly academic bias, would be unsuited to dealing with the problem which my hon. Friend has put before us.

Mr. Bence

It is regrettable that I, too, must join with my hon. Friends in not agreeing with the principle of giving powers to this board to include a certificate of proficiency in junior secondary schools. I dislike intensely this separation of the children at 11 years of age into senior secondary and junior secondary schools. I hope that the time is not far away when the junior secondary school will disappear completely and when we shall have comprehensive schools and grammar schools. I do not want to abolish grammar schools, but I should like more comprehensive education, and I much prefer the comprehensive school.

To separate children at 11-plus is shocking. What exactly does the proficiency certificate mean? When we are educating a child from 11 to 15 years of age the process surely is one of opening the child's mind to develop his capacity to learn. We are not giving him some academic or technical equipment. We are giving him some intellectual equipment. The process of learning is just beginning. In the modern world, children—and they are very mature between 11 and 15 years of age nowadays—need more and more education. We have this board which will be giving a certificate at ordinary level, I presume, and at advanced level. Now here is another one, a proficiency certificate. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) that we do not want too many certificates. I am appalled at the idea of turning out children at 14, 15 or 16 years of age with a certificate as a sort of insignia of accomplishment. Certificates and even scrolls of degrees are not always an accurate measure of the capacity, intellectual, moral or otherwise, of the holder. There is more to education than that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) spoke about the training of children to use their hands if they are not suited or attracted to an academic education, the junior secondary schools being concerned more with processes and doing things. This can be done in a comprehensive school. There is no reason why the ability to do practical things should not be inculcated in children whatever stream they follow in a comprehensive school. I went to a grammar school in South Wales where we did woodwork and we even worked machines, and there are grammar schools throughout the United Kingdom with all sorts of equipment where children can learn these skills. Why should not children go to a school where all streams of education are catered for in the same institution, rather than have this frightful system which causes parents to feel that their child is a failure if he or she has not gone to the senior secondary school?

I regret that attitude very much, and I always tell parents that it is a quite wrong approach. Different children have different talents and qualities.

I should not like to think that any boy or girl went to a school where the main purpose of education at the age of 11 or 12 was merely the vocational one of using the hands and training for some craft or industrial occupation. That is too early in life to specialise a child's education in that way. Apprenticeship or training at a commercial or technical college is the stage where specialisation of that kind begins, at the age of 16, 17 or 18.

I hope to see the day when all children can stay on at school until 18. One of the vows I took—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I share the hope that the hon. Member will survive, but, at this stage, I must ask him to direct his observations to the Amendment.

Mr. Bence

I had gone a little astray, Mr. Speaker, but I am still dealing with the certificate of proficiency. I do not like the word "proficiency" here because it conveys to me the idea of being proficient in some art, craft or industrial process. I do not want education at this age to be vocational training. It should be a far deeper thing than that.

It is a wrong approach to ascribe to the junior secondary school the purpose of being an institution where boys and girls who fail to qualify for senior secondary school may undergo a three-year course of a limited specialised kind with a view to gaining at the end a proficiency certificate. I hope that all hon. Members will come to the view that the sooner we get rid of the junior secondary school and establish the comprehensive school parallel to the grammar school the better.

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) has done the House a service by moving this Amendment. I am fairly and squarely behind my hon. Friend, but before I say why, I think that it is in order to praise the many Scottish local authorities who have been aware of this problem and who have been tackling it with considerable energy. As one who was fortunate enough to be a guest of the Scottish directors of education at their annual dinner, I can say that all sorts of interesting things are happening and that it ill behoves us not to rake note of what educationists are doing.

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie and not my hon. Friends with whom I normally agree, the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence). But there is no need for hon. Members opposite to get too happy about what they might regard as a disagreement on this side of the House, because whereas we are having a discussion about education, in which there might be two opinions about important matters, it is significant that there has not been a single contribution from Conservative back benchers.

Mr. Lawson

My hon. Friend will appreciate that hon. Members opposite have always contracted out of the educational system which we are discussing. They have never sent, and have no intention of sending, their children to State schools, so that this matter is of no interest to them whatsoever.

Mr. Dalyell

Any disagreement between us is on an education basis about which there might be two views. I put forward my view because of the rather reluctant feeling that a subject which is unexamined is regarded by all and sundry as unimportant. One can dispute this, but it is an educational assumption which we have to make.

I ask my hon. Friends who are critical of my hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie whether a pupil who is not working to achieve something definite is at all stretched. I believe that whatever their level of attainment, pupils should be stretched to capacity. If they are not stretched, they lose concentration. To some extent, one can confuse concentration and cramming, but I make the assumption, which may be disputed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East, whose views I respect. that our young people between 13 and 15—without laying oneself open to the charge of being Mr. Gradgrind, from Dickens—should have some knowledge of English grammar and of mathematics.

It also seems to me that anyone in the 1980s who does not have a working knowledge of physics will not be able to claim to be educated. I am not suggesting that they should all be at the Nobel Prize level—that would be unrealistic—but, nevertheless, without a knowledge of physics, one cannot understand geology or much of chemistry, or a great deal of rather ordinary jobs in industry and, in the 1980s, one would not be able to understand much of biology and medicine.

1,15 a.m.

It may be said that this is an esoteric argument; that the teaching of physics is only for those who go to senior secondary schools, but because of the work that is being done on the simplification of the subject, junior secondary school pupils can get some working knowledge of the subject, and they can do this if they are working towards the kind of certificate which my hon. Friend is suggesting should be awarded to them.

I might have had some hesitation about supporting the Amendment had the "O" level certificate in Scotland been achieving what it was intended to achieve, but during the last five years the "O" level has become more and more a matter of academic interest. When it was first mooted, it was suggested that between 40 and 45 per cent. of the pupils would take the "O" level examination. We do not know the exact figure, but it is about 20 per cent. Therefore, by no stretch of the imagination can the "O" level certificate be regarded as the answer to the problem which is rightly worrying my hon. Friend.

Another point to be considered is the morale of the teachers. It is all very well for my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East to argue in terms of a wider education and a deeper understanding of the situation, but if a teacher is working towards something that is rather vague, it is very easy for him to get bored rather quickly, and I do not apologise for saying that examinations, although they may be superficially criticised by many teachers, produce a spur to do something definite. When a teacher, or anyone else, has an object in mind, he is more enthusiastic and knows where he is going.

Another factor to consider is the morale of the pupils. It is all very well to say that we should not expect junior secondary pupils with I.Q.s of 90 minus to be burdened with examinations, but this is not how they see the world, and perhaps I.Q. values will change in the years to come. The reaction of these pupils may well be to think that they are not as good as others if they do not have to pass examinations. I have heard pupils actually asking to be allowed to take examinations.

Mr. Dempsey

I am sure that my hon. Friend will be interested to know that the Lanarkshire County Council Education Authority makes provision for these technical examinations and issues about 1,200 certificates per year to junior secondary students.

Mr. Dalyelf

That confirms the line of conversation that I had with the Director of the Lanarkshire County Council Education Authority only four days ago. and at the beginning of my speech I praised what certain authorities were doing, and Lanarkshire County Council was one of them.

If pupils ask to be allowed to take examinations, the request may not be entirely frivolous. The trouble is that we look at this problem in terms of the adult world, and to an adult it is fantastic that anybody should ask to be allowed to take an examination.

We make the mistake of seeing these problems entirely in terms of how an adult sees them, but at 13 or 14 years of age one wants to do what other people are doing. If it is considered right that the top of the school should have examinations, children's minds work in such a way that they want to do what is done by the people they look up to.

We shall depend more and more on television teaching. It is here to stay. Some of us would say that not to use television teaching is like not using the written word hundreds of years after Caxton. It is as bad as that. The danger in television teaching is that it is woolly, sloppy and regarded as something additional. This is no use. How else are we to have first-class teaching of mathematics? If television teaching is regarded not as a luxury but as an integrated part of the course, we must find out to what extent pupils listen. We must find out how much is absorbed. and whether pupils listen with intelligence to new methods of television teaching. Language laboratories for many schools are not quite so fantastic in the present atmosphere of educational thought, nor are the teaching machines as demonstrated recently at a conference of the Association of Directors of Education.

This is not a question of certificates but of the examinations which lead up to the issuing of certificates. I am not especially interested in the certificate as such. One is interested in a series of properly conducted examinations which lead up to a certificate at regular intervals. I profoundly respect the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson). He may say that this is a Gradgrindish attitude, but if one can reply in terms of a child wishing order in his teaching, I would remind hon. Members that a brilliant Member of this House sent his nine-year old daughter to Dartington Hall where he thought she would have a wide intellectual education. What happened? The girl came back after the first term and said, "Daddy, I want you to send me somewhere where they tell me what to do."

I should hate it if an undergraduate were told what to do. My basic criticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East and my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East is that they are confusing the attitude which they would wish to see among 16, 17 and 18 year-olds at school and among undergraduates concerning freedom of thought with the attitude of these 12, 13 and 14-year olds who are mentally and biologically different and for whom different and often completely contrasting provisions are necessary.

Lady Tweedsmuir

We are indebted to the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) for having given rise, through the medium of his Amendment, to what has been a fascinating discussion. It is clear that there have been as varied views expressed in the early hours of this morning as there are on the subject of examinations in the educational world, for there has been an enormous amount of discussion and disagreement on whether or not there should be some form of certificate of proficiency or an examination for those who have completed a three-year secondary course.

The hon. Member for Coatbridge and Aidrie seemed to imply that nothing had been done on the subject, but he will, no doubt, have noted the tribute which was paid by his hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) to the work, experiment and thought which has been and is going on in the best of our schools. Apart from that, as hon. Members will recall, my right hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Maclay), when Secretary of State, appointed a working party consisting of inspectors, directors of education, teachers and others to consider this very subject. Hon. Members may be interested in the terms of refer- ence given to that working party. They were: To consider means of improving the arrangements for coordinating the later stages of secondary courses and the earlier stages of courses of vocational further education, with particular reference to the educational needs, both vocational and general, of those young people who either do not follow or do not complete courses leading to the Scottish certificate of Education. The report of that working party has only recently been received and it will be published as soon as we get it from the printers. I am sure that it will be of extreme interest to all hon. Members who have taken part in tonight's debate.

In the meantime, to return to the Amendment, I can assure the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie that it is not necessary for him to amend the Bill in the way he proposes. At present, as we said upstairs in Committee, the intention is that the examination board should be concerned, on the executive side, only with running the Scottish Certificate of Education examination. It is for that reason that the board is constituted in the way we have discussed—rather on the academic side—but the enabling power in subsection (1) is expresed quite widely because it refers to secondary education, which includes junior secondary education.

If it was decided at some future time that there should be some form of examination at the end of the three-year period and that the board should run it, the board could be differently constituted to take these problems into account. The real question which has been engaging our attention tonight is what is the kind of secondary education most suitable for the less academic pupil. I agree that this is one of the most important subjects we must consider, both inside and outside the House. All who are concerned with Scottish education are bound to consider whether or not a national, third-year examination is a god idea. At first sight, speaking personally, I doubt whether it would be. I am inclined to the view of hon. Members who do not favour it, but that is not the point here. But if the final decision is to introduce one, the Bill as at present drafted would allow for that. We thank the hon. Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie for raising this important subject, but hope that he will withdraw his Amendment.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Would a special examination board be allowed to be set up, or special membership arranged, to deal with junior secondary education?

Lady Tweedsmuir

We have discussed the constitution of the board and I do not think that as envisaged at present it would be particularly suitable for a junior secondary education examination, if it was decided to have one. However, we discussed the executive arrangements and how, to a large extent, these would be carried out by subject committees. On those committees there could be all kinds of different people who would be intimately connected with education for these children. In that sense that would be perfectly possible.

1.30 a.m.

Mr. Ross

Everyone is grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) for giving us the opportunity to say lots of things, relevant or otherwise, on the purpose he has in mind. That purpose is to make it the responsibility of the examination board to make provision with respect to the awards of certificates of proficiency in junior secondary schools. But it is obviously not the body to do it. It is dominated by the hierarchy of education, the people who know least about these schools. That is a weakness.

Much of what has been said is not a fair reflection of the opinions particularly among teachers in these schools. I have discussed this with teachers and one cannot convince them that some such certificate would not have considerable advantage in maintaining the interest and individual effort of the children.

This is symptomatic of the dissatisfaction with our present three-year course. It points to a failure of that course and of the teachers. It may not be the fault of the teachers because they can only teach in accordance with the curriculum laid down. It may be the fault of the headmasters. It may be that one difficulty is that we have a habit of taking a man who has spent a lifetime teaching Greek and making him headmaster of a junior secondary school, which is Greek to him. We tend to make these schools pale shadows of the senior secondary school—quite unnecessarily so.

From its inception I was a strong supporter of the junior secondary school, but I warn my hon. Friend that as soon as we get an external examination—as it would be if conducted by this board—it would mean the same thing done in every junior secondary school. The examination would mould what would be taught. If it was a limited examination then what was taught would be limited.

There would still be pupils—perhaps a considerable number—who would not be presented for it or be able to be presented for it. The freedom we had in the junior secondary schools by not being trammelled in looking towards an external examination, and through the education within a school not being under outside control, was something desirable and a challenge to Scottish education and educationists.

My recollection is that in Committee we were told that now the inspectorate was handing over to the board all the work which had been piling up relating to the higher and lower levels and that it would be able to devote more time to trying to put right the defects of the junior secondary schools. It has waited far too long.

It is all very well for the hon. Lady to say that much is going on. Let her go to any town in Scotland, and she will find more dissatisfaction caused by the segregation into junior and senior secondary schools than by anything else. The children, having started badly, have a sense of failure. But we have failed to offer a wide enough curriculum to find something which will interest the child for a lifetime. We have too ready a facility for confusing education with examinations and culture with education.

My hon. Friend does not want to write into the Statute a junior secondary school which is segregated. Moreover, I do not think that there is anything to stop any school from issuing certificates. The local authorities can do it. They can set their own standards within schools and even in respect of a single subject. That is one of the great changes made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) he wiped out the group in respect of the Scottish certificate of education. The child used not to receive a certificate unless he had succeeded in an adequate group, but my right hon. Friend said that this was unfair, for the children had studied and had achieved something and should all get a certificate, even if they had succeeded in only one subject in the group or in what would have been regarded as an inadequate number in the group.

I fear the danger that in accepting the Amendment we should write the junior secondary school into the Statute—which I do not want—and hand the examination over to an outside body—which would be had. This very fact has held back the scientific approach and development in Scottish senior secondary schools.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my hon. Friend happy that sufficient prestige accrues to the certificate of an individual school to make it worth while?

Mr. Ross

I know of schools which have built up a great record on the basis of their own achievements. It is open to every school to do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North knows of schools which, despite the fact that they are junior secondary schools, have a better reputation than senior secondary schools. We have a new one in Ayr—Belmont High, which is building up a tremendous record and has broken down the barrier caused by people who want their children to go to a so-called better school. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) wants to address the House he should stand up.

Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)

I was addressing the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis).

Mr. Ross

The usual method is to stand up. Some of these schools have the right approach to education. The challenge is being partly met. I do not want to see those schools being crippled by an all-embracing examination. Perhaps some useful ideas will come of the working party's report.

Has the hon. Lady read the Report on the curriculum for secondary schools? If so, I ask her to go back to the Department and ask what has been done in the schools. She will probably find that little has been done. One of the dissatisfactions which have led to the Amendment being put down is the inability, in the first years, when a mistake is discovered in relation to segregation, to translate children from one school to another. The Report states that every child in secondary education in Scotland should have the same course in the first year. Let the hon. Lady rind out to how many cases that applies. She will find that it amounts to very few. She might even find that some of the headmasters who were members of the working party have not applied this principle in their own schools. That is another of the dissatisfactions.

I have a feeling that the reason for my hon. Friend's Amendment was a desire to express a dissatisfaction about the things that now exist in respect of junior secondary schools. I hope that the hon. Lady will examine the possibility of doing something to remove this dissatisfaction, perhaps by some sort of idea such as that put forward, or a development of it. But it would be far better to appreciate exactly how long we have lived with this, with growing dissatisfaction, and exactly what are the feelings of aimlessness of parents and children—and that is failure, in education.

I could say a lot more, but we are getting on to the subject of education rather than that of the Amendment—although the two are tied up. I regret that we have not had any Unionist interested in Scottish education. The trouble is that hon. Members opposite have never been in a Scottish school, except by invitation. I hope that we shall address ourselves seriously to this matter, and that the hon. Lady will inform herself of the facts and the feelings that exist among parents and children, and will try to grope her way towards some solution. Failing that, I hope that she will join us in returning to the tradition of Scottish education—the comprehensive school.

I do not want my hon. Friend to be disheartened by the way in which we have approached the Amendment. He will no doubt take great satisfaction from the fact that he has been able to arouse this interest in the subject at this time. I hope that in the circumstances he will see his way to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

1.45 a.m.

Mr. Willis

I have heard most of the debate. There is no doubt that we have opened up a fascinating subject. So far we have had some first-class speeches. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) does not agree. He does not understand the Scottish educational system. I hope that he will enter the debate and give us his views upon it. At least he will be doing more than his Scottish colleagues who apparently have no views at all. [Interruption.] We are not filibustering. Unfortunately, we have to discuss this important matter at this hour of the morning. Nevertheless, I thought that the debate had been of a high level and one which I have found to be tremendously interesting. I appreciated, for example, the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). They were very good, although I did not necessarily accept them, because it seems to me mat without going into the more rarified dissertations concerning this matter, children at school like to have a definite target. I think there is a feeling that they like to have purpose given to their education and it is true to say, from my experience in my own constituency, that a very large number of children at junior schools do not think there is any purpose at all.

They feel that they are being kept there because a Government said some time ago that they had to stay there.

Mr. Dalyell

Will my hon. Friend agree that what is needed is a series of short-term goals?

Mr. Willis

Yes; not simply one, but a series of steps which seem to give some meaning to education, Therefore, I was not altogether happy about this proposal of my hon. Friend.

There is another proposal, and that is that when the child leaves school, he or she likes to have something to show, and employers like children to have something. I recall that I spent a considerable time trying to obtain for men leaving the Armed Forces certificates indicating exactly what they could do in order to help them in their efforts to get jobs. People employing a child want to know what that child has been doing. It is already stated that he has been to a secondary school, but that is not very helpful to an employer by itself. Therefore, it seems that the boy or girl should have something which indicates exactly what he or she is proficient in and what are their aptitudes.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) men- tioned one or two subjects, but there are others. I am not particularly keen on the examination system, as such, but from this point of view we might have some indication about what a child has done; the subjects in which he or she is proficient, with any qualifications calling for special comment. I should not have thought it impossible to combine that with the setting of targets for different children in different respects.

Mr. Dalyell

Would my hon. Friend accept that, provided the targets are set according to ability, and that means however low they are set,,they would give that rising confidence which would create the rising personality which my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) so rightly stressed?

Mr. Willis

Yes. It is interesting to notice that the only intelligent discussion is on this side of the Committee. Although a number of differences of opinion have been expressed on this side. I think that in reality we are trying to get the same thing. We are feeling towards it in different ways. Whether or not it could be achieved by this Amendment I would not like to say. Probably I am not sufficiently qualified to deter mine that question.

I noticed what my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said about the type of examination board which would have to sign the certificate, and it seems to me to be rather too remote from the children to understand the sort of thing which would be required to be done. Therefore, I am not too happy about accepting the Amendment, although I agree with its purpose.

One of the arguments that has been used against accepting the Amendment is that we would probably delay the introduction of the comprehensive school, and that we would follow the present pattern. I wonder whether that argument is altogether true. The fact is that we have got junior secondary schools, whether we like it or not. I am in favour of the introduction of the comprehensive schools; nevertheless, there are thousands of children at junior secondary schools at present. Until such time as we can make this change—and there might be several difficulties in the way of bringing it about rapidly; it might take a year or two—we have to ask ourselves whether this would be an improvement. I have great doubts about whether this is the right sort of board, but if it is there might be an improvement.

I was not altogether impressed by the argument about the junior secondary school. It was something like the argument of the Under-Secretary who said that if we wait till the school leaving age is raised to 16 the problem will be solved. The same sort of argument is being used on this side of the Committee, that we must have the junior secondary school and it will solve this problem In the same way as we do not accept the argument in relation to the hon. Lady's case, I do not accept it in relation to my hon. Friend's case. Therefore, on balance, think I might be inclined to support my hon. Friend. I do not know whether he is pressing this Amendment to a Division. [Interruption.] Apparently one hon. Member opposite has something to say.

Mr. Wise

I only said that I bet he was not pressing it to a Division.

Mr. Willis

I am glad we have had one speech from the benches opposite—a very short speech and not very informative, either. It did not display any great interest in the subject under discussion, and probably was out of order. Nevertheless, at least we have had a speech from the benches opposite, and I commend the hon. Gentleman for that. I draw his example to the attention of other Scottish Members opposite. There is only one present, of course, but, after all, it is not unknown for a Permanent Parliamentary Secretary to speak. I commend the example to him, and he can give us his views on this important matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not at 2 o'clock in the morning."] There is no prescribed time for going to bed, to use the language of a learned judge. I do not see why we should not stay here for another hour or two yet.

The balance of argument is fairly even, I think, but I come down on the side of my hon. Friend the Member for Coat-bridge and Airdrie. If he does press the matter to a Division, I shall follow him into the Lobby.

Mr. Dempsey

In view of the statement by the Under-Secretary of State that we are about to have a report on the subject, and having regard to the first-class speech of my hon. Friend the Mem- ber for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who rightly guessed that the purpose of the Amendment was to express dissatisfaction with the existing junior secondary school, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lady Tweedsmuir

I beg to move, in page 2, line 2, to leave out from "in" to "confer" in line 3 and to insert: regulations under this section. (2) Regulations shall be made under this section by the Secretary of State, and such regulations shall". This Amendment is consequential on the Amendment in page 1, line 5, which deleted the original provision, making clear that any reference in the Clause to regulations means regulations made by the Secretary of State.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 5, leave out "said purposes" and insert: purposes referred to in subsection (1) of this section—[Lady Tweedimuir.]

Mr. Ross

I beg to move, in page 2, line 43, to leave out "fixed by him" and to insert: calculated in accordance with a formula reached". We touched earlier on the attitude of the Government to local authorities in respect of what ate euphemistically called contributions, which is a strange way of describing an exaction in which the naked ruthlessness of the Government in regard to education is quite arrogantly displayed. There is no "may" or "from time to time" here, no tenderness of language about calculations, agreements, and the rest. It is provided that: Every education authority shall, at such times as may be fixed by the Secretary of State, contribute to the funds of the Board such sums as may be fixed by him. This led us into the realms of derivation of language and we discovered that the word "fix" was Anglo-Saxon. I do not know whether the hon. Lady has consulted a dictionary and discovered that she was wrong. If there is any dispute about it, the thing to do is to get rid of the word.

Mr. Willis

I do not quite follow this argument. Do I understand my hon. Friend to say that if we have an Anglo-Saxon word in a Hill we must replace it?

2.0 a.m.

Mr. Ross

No. It would take far too long to explain. That was purely a comment on something that happened in Committee.

As we have the subsection at the moment, what a local authority has to pay is to be fixed by the Secretary of State. We suggest that at least there should be some sort of formula and proper consultation with the local authorities about reaching that formula, so that the calculation would be predictable and the local authorities would know exactly what they were expected to pay. We are not asking for much and we could have gone much further and asked for agreement, but we assume that in consultation with the local authorities, the Secretary of State would heed the sense of fairness in respect of the contributions paid under an agreed formula.

I do not know how the hon. Lady can possibly refuse this Amendment. It softens the language. We have recently dealt with a formula related to the Exchequer equalisation grant and in that Bill we had Amendments in Clause after Clause. If they can still think in the Scottish Office after coping with the Exchequer equalisation grant, I am sure they can work out some simple formula in respect of local authority contributions towards the maintenance and development of this new examination board.

I shall not trouble the hon. Lady with arithmetic and how much they would have to pay in the first case and the second case and in 1981. I am interested only in the acceptance of the principle that the Secretary of State shall not fix something, but that he should calculate it in accordance with a formula discussed with the local authorities beforehand and that that should remain the formula for further calculations of the annual contributions, if annual they are to be, and that we should get rid of this dictatorial attitude of "Mr. Fixit" in St. Andrew's House—he is probably away fixing us tonight. Let us get rid of these words which should not have been there in the first place and have contributions calculated in accordance with a formula reached after consultation with the local authorities.

Mr. Bence

I support the Amendment. The Secretary of State proposes to fix the times at which these payments will be made without consultation with anybody, and he also proposes to fix the amounts to be paid without consulting anybody. No formula is provided for working out the amounts to be paid, and we do not even know whether all local authorities will be required to pay the same amount.

The whole subsection is very loosely drafted indeed. I was not a Member of the Standing Committee which considered the Bill, but I should certainly have supported any attempt to reconstruct this subsection, because our experience during the last ten years has taught us that when the Secretary of State fixes anything he does not do it out of consideration for the interests of Scotland, but because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told him what to do.

When I see a phrase like this, I become suspicious and expect to see it accompanied by the phrase, "with the consent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer". I hope that my hon. Friend will not be dissuaded from pressing the Government to accept the Amendment. We should ensure that provision is made for a formula to be worked out for the amounts to be paid. It is wrong that local authorities should be asked to provide money without having a chance to discuss the amount that they should provide, and I hope that my hon. Friend intends to ensure that this formula is fully debated in the House.

Mr. Dalyell

It may be said that those who support the Amendment are guilty of triviality, of quibbling, but I detect in this sort of wording a tendency towards an authoritarian attiude which does not help to bring people of the right calibre into the teaching profession.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), I am a member of the Standing Committee which is considering the Children and Young Persons Bill, and was therefore not able to attend the earlier discussions on this Bill in Committee upstairs. I am appalled at some of the drafting that has been served up to us. It is ironic that we should be discussing education. I am sure that no teacher would accept the drafting that we see on pages 2 and 3 of the Bill. I defy my hon. Member to understand at first, third or even tenth reading some of the English in this document. I draw attention in particular to page 3—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but he is going too far in page 3. The Amendment we are dealing with applies to the bottom of page 2.

Mr. Dalyell

It was a happy opportunity to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East.

Mr. Willis

I see that hon. Members are coming into the Chamber and I notice looks of intense interest in the faces of hon. Members on the Government benches as they have strolled in. Their alertness and great interest in the Bill are obvious. I feel that out of sheer generosity and the goodness of my heart I should give them once again an opportunity to make a contribution to the debate. I see that an hon. Member opposite is armed with a great brief. I hope that we shall have the benefit of it before we part this morning.

I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) talking about this subsection being authoritarian. That was precisely the word I had put down to use, though I was going to say "arbitrary and authoritarian". It is an arbitrary power to give to the Secretary of State to allocate the liability of different local authorities. Let hon. Members imagine what would happen if we tried to do this with the Exchequer equalisation grant or the general grant. The House would not tolerate it for a moment, but just because the sum involved here is not one of millions but of hundreds of thousand of pounds we find this position.

Mr. Dalyell

Does not my hon. Friend agree that this betrays an attitude of mind that is hostile to proper relationships in the profession?

Mr. Willis

It is quite alien to the attitude of mind that should prevail in the teaching profession. Incidentally, I notice quite an influx of hon. Members. If we can carry on until four or five o'clock we may have a full House. We are getting on very well. It was an uphill struggle for some time, but we are doing better now.

Local authorities like to know what their liabilities will be. They must know whether they are to estimate correctly. The City Treasurer of Edinburgh is constantly lecturing town council committees on the need to carry out estimating, since otherwise he finds it difficult to fix the rates. Edinburgh might have to contribute £20,000 under the Bill. It could mean the addition of a fraction of a penny on the rates. The same might happen to Glasgow. To help local authorities to see how they stand there should be a formula—naturally, reached in discussion with the local authorities—to show them how this liability is shared between the respective education authorities.

2.15 a.m.

We should help the local authorities instead of treating them like school children. The words in the Clause are obscure and to some extent nonsense.

Mr. Bence

Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is objectionable that the sums should be fixed by "him"—that is, the Secretary of State? Might we not one day have a lady Secretary of State, and not a "him"?

Mr. Willis

I presume that, in that case, the word "him" would cover "her" as well.

Mr. Bence

I am not so sure.

Mr. Willis

I think that it is legally customary.

The Clause opens the door to corruption and abuse. I do not say that this will happen, but we might have a Secretary of State who is anxious to assist his "blue-eyed boys" on a Tory town council of Edinburgh. He might say, We will not fix too high a contribution for these boys." I hope that this sort of thing will never happen, but it could happen as the Clause is now drafted. Wishing to be fair, I will give another example. A Labour Secretary of State might say the same about a Labour town council.

Mr. Bence

I hope that my hon. Friend will give a Liberal example.

Mr. Willis

There are many other examples one could give. I am saying that the possibility of abuse exists and not that it will happen. This is all the more reason why we should try to avoid such possibilities when we are legislating.

In view of the way in which my hon. Friend introduced the Amendment, with his customary lucidity, humour, cogency—

Mr. Bence


Mr. Willis

—and brevity, I trust that the Under-Secretary will now accept it. I am sorry that the noble Lady is sitting on the Government Front Bench. I would rather have had the Leader of the House sitting there, for he is the one who is responsible for inflicting this important subject upon us at this hour of the morning. It is unfair that he should be able to get out of having to be present. I hope that the noble Lady will make some concession to the Opposition for its very great interest in the Bill. This Amendment would, after all, be helpful to the local authorities.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian made the powerful point that the whole tenor of this provision was out of keeping with our education ideals. We should not introduce this sort of arbitrary procedure. We should maintain standards. The Government have done a great deal to lower standards generally, but it would be out of order to discuss that now. But I hope that on this narrow point they will accept this sensible Amendment.

I can only assume that the grants will not be frequent, otherwise the Government would not be establishing this procedure. Presumably, they would not have introduced the formula is the grants were to be annual. I hope that the noble Lady in her knowledge—I was about to suggest in her wisdom—will accept the Amendment.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Despite the fact that I should like to encourage the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) at this hour of the morning—perhaps I might have put that differently—I must resist the Amendment.

Before dealing specifically with the Amendment, perhaps I may explain how we envisage that the education authority contributions will be fixed if the Bill is passed in its present form. The first part of the process will be to get from the board each autumn a budget for the following year. This will give the basis on which the total amount to be provided from public funds will be determined. We already do this for teacher training colleges, central institutions and many other bodies.

The second stage will be to consult the local authority associations. The con- sultation will be concerned with two separate, though closely linked, issues. First, how much in total the education authorities should contribute to the board in the following year. Secondly, how much of the total should be contributed by each separate education authority. I sincerely hope that we shall be able to get complete agreement with the associations on both issues. The Amendment would replace the words which provide that the Secretary of State shall fix the contributions by new words which refer to a formula. It is quite probable that we shall agree with the local authority associations a formula for dividing the total contributions between the separate education authorities. For example, the total amount needed may be proportional to the number of pupils taking the examination or to the population of the county, and that formula or part of the formula could, if desired, remain unchanged from year to year.

On the other hand, we ought to remember that the budgetary requirements of the board are almost certain to vary from year to year, and therefore we cannot agree to a fixed formula of so-much-a-head which remains unchanged. The general basis of the formula might be constant, but the amount to be contributed per head, if this is to be the basis of the calculation, would have to be fixed each year according to the total sum to be produced. This is an exercise which is frequently undertaken, for example in fixing education authority contributions to teacher-training colleges and approved schools.

The authorities have agreed to the principle of having the arrangement as it is in the Bill. It is for that reason that I cannot accept the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.