§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide that any proposal by a local education authority to change the status or nature of a secondary school shall require the approval of the Minister of Education.I trust that hon. Members on both sides of the House will accept the fact that I introduce this Motion in no dogmatic mood. Indeed, this is the sort of subject matter about which dogmatic assertions are to be avoided. There is, I feel, a lot of common ground between both sides of the House. At the same time, there are doubtless, differences of emphasis. Probably few of us, in any party, would treat the tripartite division between grammar, technical and modern secondary schools as sacrosanct,
Hardly any of us I imagine, would cling to the principle of selection at 11-plus or selection at any other particular age in all cases, and in all circumstances. On both sides of the House, there is, I feel confident, a majority of hon. Members who wish to see ample and fruitful experiments in the field of secondary education. Perhaps the fully comprehensive school has appeared to be the most encouraging experiment in the last decade or so, and if suitable buildings were available in much greater numbers it might be possible to press ahead with schools of this kind at a greater rate. But for a considerable time, at any rate, the physical limitations and resources and the lack of appropriate buildings must limit this kind of experiment. Therefore, as the House is aware, local education authorities have evolved or are contemplating a variety of other experiments, of which the so-called Leicester plan is best known.
All sorts of schemes are now being mooted or contemplated in places as far apart as Bradford, Cardiff and Liverpool. Some of these appear to be soundly conceived; others seem to be slightly bizarre. Some are obviously designed to create a kind of comprehensive system in separate buildings. Others so change the ages of intake, or limit the ages for actual secondary education, as to make some experienced educationists doubt whether they can be recon- 1104 ciled with the provisions of a truly good secondary school career.
Some of the schemes now planned must involve, in effect, the destruction of grammar schools and other secondary schools of long-established merit. I do not wish to exaggerate unfairly the merit of some of our best grammar schools. I can, however, speak with some personal knowledge of some of those in South Wales. The Cardiff Boys' High School, the Cardiff Girls' High School, the other Cardiff high schools, the Barry Grammar School, in my constituency, the Whet-church (Glamorgan) Grammar School, and many others, have astonishing records of achievement. Annually, their pupils gain a surprising number of scholarships to Oxford and Cambridge as well as to other universities.
Speaking of the United Kingdom as a whole, I need hardly remind hon. Members today of the large number of scientists, technologists and industrialists who are trained in our grammar schools. Therefore, I respectfully submit that in our determination to explore the value of new methods, we should not he disposed to destroy the identity, and the contribution, of grammar schools or other secondary schools of established quality. As far as possible, too, we should heed the importance attached in the Education Act, 1944, to the principle of parental preference. Again, I do not wish to exaggerate; but, certainly, some of the new schemes now contemplated appear to pay little or no heed to the wishes or desires of the parents of the children to be affected.
Hon. Members may ask, quite pertinently, whether I wish to destroy all the initiative of local education authorities. That is not my desire. But the schemes now contemplated are so diverse, the consequences of change so great, that I feel that we should provide some ultimate safeguard beyond those now existing.
As the House is aware, the personal power of the Minister of Education to intervene is very small; if, indeed, it is not to be described as negligible. By Clause 13(1) of the 1944 Act(1) Where a local education authority intend—The rest of Clause 13 of the 1944 Act prescribes the powers of persons to submit objections to the Minister, and the powers of the Minister to modify or approve the proposals. In addition, Section 68 of the 1944 Act prescribes, in effect, certain powers of the Minister of Education to intervene in what he deems to be unreasonable exercise of functions in such cases.
they shall submit proposals for that purpose to the Minister.
- (a) to establish a new secondary school;
- (b) to maintain as a county school any school which at the time is not such a school; or
- (c) to cease to maintain any county school, or, save as provided by the next following section of this Act, any voluntary school:
These, I submit, are most valuable powers and safeguards. They have not destroyed or curtailed the initiative of local education authorities in the setting up of new schools, or the other special cases for which the powers apply. But these valuable safeguards do not obtain, and do not extend, to the kind of readjustments and alterations to which I have referred.
At present, the Minister of Education does not possess similar powers where proposals are put forward which involve a change in the status or nature of any existing secondary school. The powers of persons affected, parents, etc., to submit objections do not extend to these cases. All that my proposed Bill would seek to do, in brief, is to modify and change in one small particular the Act of 1944 and to add this sort of case to the expressly stated cases in Section 13 of the Act. In those circumstances, I hope that the House will agree to give me leave to bring in the Bill.
§ 3.56 p.m.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
I oppose the Motion. It is ironic that the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), a member of the party which constantly tells us that we are wrong, because, so it is said, we believe that the man in Whitehall knows best, should ask leave to introduce a Bill which would give far more responsibility to the Minister and take responsibility away from the local authorities. This is one illogicality in the hon. Gentleman's argument.
It is true that many local education authorities today are anxious to experiment. The Minister of State for Education and Science, who is responsible for schools, has constantly said that he 1106 believes that there should be freedom for experiment in education. The hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, is urging the opposite If a local authority has spent a great deal of time and trouble working out exactly what should be done in an experiment in education, perhaps spending two or three years on preparing the scheme, all its efforts, according to the hon. Gentleman, should depend upon the good will of the Minister or upon the influence of pressures which can be brought upon him to deny or give permission for the scheme to be put into effect.
The hon. Gentleman spoke about parental preferences. Pressures are brought to bear on parents by some of the heads of grammar schools where experiments are taking place. In my own local authority area, a circular has been sent by the head of a grammar school to all the parents of children in the school asking them to vote against the proposal; of the local authority to have new experiments in education in Stoke-on-Treat. This is the kind of pressure which we should be watching. Full consideration should be paid to parental preferences, of course, as provided by the 1944 Act, but we should be trying to prevent that kind of pressure.
Moreover, members of local authorities who are opposed to schemes which have been prepared sometimes, perhaps because they have children in one or other school, try themselves to bring pressure on the Minister. I have some correspondence which discloses that a Tory candidate opposing one of my hon. Friends in Stoke has himself been corresponding with the Minister and trying to influence him to prevent the experiment in Stoke-on-Trent taking place.
§ Mrs. Slater
It is not a crime, but there is, at least, the matter of courtesy between members of local authorities and Members of Parliament for the area.
The whole purpose behind the hon. Gentleman's Motion is a basic opposition to experiment in education. Nowadays, when there is so much change in education, we should be going forward. 1107 If we were to wait until every local authority had adequate buildings for comprehensive schools, or we were able to build absolutely new schools, we should need to wait until after I was dead, and until after the younger generation now in the schools were dead, before experiments could take place.
It is no good being sanctimonious about it and saying that hon. Members on both sides want to see experiment in education if we are not prepared to make provision so that experiment can
§ take place. The country will benefit from the experiments and experience which go-ahead local authorities are prepared to undertake. They devote a lot of time and trouble to discussing and preparing their schemes in every detail, and they should be free to do so.
§ Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 152, Noes 176.1109
|Division No. 74.]||AYES||[4.1 p.m.|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Balniel, Lord||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Hastings, Stephen||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Barter, John||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Partridge, E.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Hendry, Forbes||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Hiley, Joseph||Pitman, Sir James|
|Biffen, John||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Pounder, Rafton|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hocking, Philip N.||Prior-Palmer, Brig, Sir Otho|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Holland, Philip||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Bishop, Sir Patrick||Hollingworth, John||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Bossom, Hon. Clive||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Brewis, John||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Roots, William|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Shaw, M.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Iremonger, T. L.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Buck, Antony||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Speir, Rupert|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Stainton, Keith|
|Ctark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Kershaw, Anthony||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Cooke, Robert||Kimball, Marcus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Cordle, John||Lagden, Godfrey||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Coulson, Michael||Lambton, Viscount||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Talbot, John E.|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Leavey, J. A.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Critchley, Julian||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)|
|Curran, Charles||Lilley, F. J. P.||Temple, John M.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)|
|Dance, James||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Litchfield, Capt. John||Turner, Colin|
|Donaldson, cmdr. C. E. M.||Longbottom, Charles||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Doughty, Charles||Longden, Gilbert||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Drayson, G, B.||Loveys, Walter H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Eden, Sir John||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Macleod, Sir John(Ross & Cromarty)||Walker, Peter|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||McMaster, Stanley R.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Maginnis, John E.||Weils, John (Maidstone)|
|Farr, John||Maitland, Sir John||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Marten, Neil||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Freeth, Denzil||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gammans, Lady||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Gardner, Edward||Montgomery, Fergus||Woollam, John|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Grosvenor, Lord Robert||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gurden, Harold||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie||Mr. Tiley and Mr. Goodhew.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Hendon, North)|
|Abse, Leo||Awbery, Stan (Bristol, Central)||Beaney, Alan|
|Ainsley, William||Bacon, Miss Alice||Bence, Cyril|
|Albu Austen||Barnett, Guy||Benn, Anthony Wedgwood|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Benson, Sir George||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Blyton, William||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Parker, John|
|Boardman, H.||Holman, Percy||Paton, John|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Holt, Arthur||Peart, Frederick|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hooson, H. E.||Pentland, Norman|
|Bowles, Frank||Howell, Charles A, (Perry Barr)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Boyden, James||Howie, W.||Prentice, R. E.|
|Bradley, Tom||Hoy, James H.||Probert, Arthur|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Randall, Harry|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Rankin, John|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hunter, A. E.||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reid, William|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Rhodes, H.|
|Chapman, Donald||Janner, Sir Barnett||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jeger, George||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kelley, Richard||Ross, William|
|Darling, George||Kenyon, Clifford||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||King, Dr. Horace||Short, Edward|
|Deer, George||Lawson, George||Silverman, Julian (Aston)|
|Dempsey, James||Ledger, Bon||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Diamond, John||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Small, William|
|Dodds, Norman||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Snow, Julian|
|Doig, Peter||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Driberg, Tom||Lipton, Marcus||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Lubbock, Eric||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Edelman, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Stones, William|
|Edwards, Rt, Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McBride, N.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||McCann, J.||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Evans, Albert||MacColl, James||Swain, Thomas|
|Fernyhough, E.||McInnes, James||Symonds, J. B.|
|Finch, Harold||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fitch, Alan||McLeavy, Frank||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mahon, Simon||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Manuel, Archie||Timmons, John|
|Galpem, Sir Myer||Mapp, Charles||Wade, Donald|
|Ginshurg, David||Marsh, Richard||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P, C.||Mason, Roy||Warbey, William|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mellish, R. J.||Wells, William (Waisall, N.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Milne, Edward||Whitlock, William|
|Grey, Charles||Mitchison, G. R.||Wigg, George|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Monslow, Walter||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)||Moody, A. S.||Willey, Frederick|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Gunter, Ray||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||O'Malley, B. K.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Harper, Joseph||Oram, A. E.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oswald, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Healey, Denis||Owen, Will||Mrs. Slater and Mr. Allaun.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|