HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc1007-52

Again considered in Committee.

Question again proposed.

Mr. MacArthur

I was saying that we have to be quite clear what the definition of charities is within the Amendment. The law governing the definition of charities in Scotland is, I understand, somewhat different from the law of England. I am a layman in these matters, so I am on a par with the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues who do not have the advantage at the moment of advice from a Law Officer.

I have turned to what I believe is a recognised authority in these matters, "Gloag and Henderson's Introduction to the Law of Scotland". This is only an Introduction, but it is the sixth edition, and I presume that it has a certain authority in Scots law. It refers to the definition of charity, and declares on page 596, paragraph 6: There is no precise definition in the law of Scotland of the words ' charity ' and ' charitable' ". It goes on to say, as the right hon. Gentleman will know: In Baird's Trust versus the Lord Advocate, in which the question was whether a certain trust was charitable within the meaning of the Income Tax Acts, it was laid down that in their popular meaning the words were confined to the relief of poverty ". I understand that this definition, "the relief of poverty", is critical in the establishment of any charitable trust or foundation in Scotland. It follows that if one is to determine what is a charity within the meaning of the Amendment one must be able to determine what is meant by the relief of poverty. I therefore turn to another authority. [Laughter.] This is no laughing matter. It is a very serious argument.

In Volume 13 of the Oxford English Dictionary poverty is equated with the old Scots word, "poorith", which means the condition of having little or no wealth or material possessions or a deficiency, lack, scantiness, dearth, scarcity and smallness of amount". All of these are words which describe the effect that this tax will have on the Highlands of Scotland. It will lead to deficiency, to lack of employment, and a lack of people, to a scantiness of opportunity, to a dearth of our population, and to smallness of amount in terms of the new prosperity for which we all hope for the Highlands of Scotland. The word also means, according to the dictionary: deficiency in the proper or desired quality. It was just these considerations which encouraged the Government to introduce their Highland Development (Scotland) Bill. On the Second Reading of that Bill, on 16th March, 1965, the right hon. Gentleman called attention to the particular problems of the Highlands. He ref: rred to the "land hunger" and to the past when the people of the Highlands had to ' scratch a living".

I therefore submit that it is quite reasonable, in the context of the Amendment, to suggest that any form of employment, any industry, any branch of agriculture, any board, anything, in short, to help the people of the Highlands, will be for the relief of scarcity, dearth, and scantiness, all of which are defined in the dictionary as poverty.

It follows, therefore, that it would be possible to include under this Amendment any form of employment in the Highlands. By accepting the Amendment, and by using the good offices and occasional wise judgment of the Secretary of State, it would be possible to define as a charity, a body acting for the relief of poverty, a hotel, a laundry, a small retail electrical establishment, a farmer or any of the bodies in the Highlands which are now under the most enormous threat because of the Bill which the Government have introduced without any regard whatever to the problems of the Highlands and the outlying areas and which they have prohibited us from debating in Committee by their vicious timetable.

There is here the means for the right hon. Gentleman to meet the objectives which he has over and over again declared, but which he has by his actions over and over again denied. I call on him now to accept the Amendment, to extend the definition of charities and so get rid of this monstrous tax from the Highlands of Scotland.

Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)

I am delighted to support this Amendment, which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) and supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) in a most remarkable speech. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Right hon. and hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite may applaud, but they should study his words with care. The effect of the Bill will be to reduce large parts of Scotland to a condition of dependence on Government charity, and this is a situation which we should all deplore.

My hon. Friend gave us a most useful and valuable definition of the meaning of "charity" and how it is to be interpreted under the law of Scotland. He explained how the Amendment could be used by the Secretary of State to save many of the areas of Scotland, particularly the Highlands, but also the North-East and the Borders, from the vicious effects of the tax. He reminded us, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn, of the way in which fix tax discriminates against parts of Scotland which are already suffering depopulation and a level of unemployment substantially higher than the national average.

If the Government will accept the Amendment, as I feel satisfied they will, they can take a small step to mitigate the injustices perpetrated by the Bill on the people of Scotland. I join my hon. Friends in complaining at the disgraceful way in which we have been treated. This is the only Amendment dealing with the effect of the Bill on Scotland which the Government, by their guillotine procedure, have allowed us to discuss. I am a little surprised that the Secretary of State has the nerve to show himself in the Committee after the way the Government have treated it and, in particular, Members from Scottish constituencies.

I can see no good reason why the Government should reject the Amendment and I am confident that they will accept it. Perhaps there is one reason why they may feel a little worried. My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire told us that one of the meanings of charity is "deficiency of the required quality". I am afraid that that would apply to the whole Government Front Bench, and it may be that they would be reluctant to accept this Amendment for fear of themselves standing condemned by it. However, the people of Scotland would feel that the condemnation was entirely justified, particularly after the events of the past 24 hours.

It is somewhat depressing that we can have only this brief discussion on a limited aspect of the Bill, which impinges so heavily and so harshly on our constituents and all the people of Scotland. If the Government would accept this modest Amendment and recognise that in this case at least the Secretary of State has some responsibility and duty to answer to the people of Scotland and that it is not entirely to be left to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, it would be a very small concession in the right direction.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire, I am bound to say that I sometimes wonder whether we are better off with the Secretary of State than with the Minister of Labour. Clearly neither of them appreciates anything of the problems which Scotland faces as a result of the actions of the present Government. Certainly, if the Secretary of State appreciated them, he would not be sitting on that Front Bench at the moment.

He has a responsibility, and it is a responsibility which is defined in subsection (4) of this Clause, as my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn pointed out. I suggest that that responsibility should be extended to the whole of the Clause. A number of my hon. Friends wish to press the point, because it is one of not minimal importance to the people of Scotland—[Interruption.] The Financial Secretary laughs. He has a Scots name, but he knows nothing of the mood and temper of the people of Scotland.

Mr. MacDermot

For the information of the hon. Gentleman, I have not got a Scottish name.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That explains a great deal. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is an Irishman, it explains many of his attitudes throughout the sittings of this Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am delighted to realise that we do not have a renegade Scot committing these offences against the people of Scotland.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

I am not sure whether or not the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) was educated in Scotland—

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

He was not.

Mr. Steele

Those of us who were educated in Scotland are not concerned whether it is the Minister of Labour or the Secretary of State who gives us the money, so long as we get the money.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

All that I can say to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) is that if he seriously thinks that Scotland is going to get the money under the Bill, he had better look at some of the exchanges which we have had on the matter.

Mr. Steele

Like some of his hon. Friends, the hon. Gentleman is not dealing with the Amendment at all. He is dealing with the Bill.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. J. C. Jennings)

Order. That is an implied criticism of the Chair, and, having himself been in the Chair many times, the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) should know it. Until now, there has been nothing out of order, although hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee have tended to get on to the fringe. I am listening very carefully, and I think that we ought to get away from the fringe and back to the meat of the Amendment. I would remind hon. Gentlemen that we are dealing with the second Amendment, No. 147, as well. That allows us to deal with these Scottish problems. Can we now get on?

Mr. Steele

I apologise to the Chair. I am the last person in the world to criticise the Chair. When I was in the Chair this morning upstairs, I had to draw the attention of the hon. Member for South Angus to a similar point. May I pay tribute to hon. Members for being on the fringe?

The Temporary Chairman

It is a qualified regret, and I accept it as such.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I think that we have all learnt something from this exchange, because the important point is that there is a great deal of indignation among my hon. Friends about the way in which Scotland has been treated throughout the discussions on this Bill, and this inevitably leads some of us to approach the margins of disorder in trying to discuss the Amendment.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite continue to regard this as a joke. They may find that it is regarded as a good deal less of a joke by their constituents, and by the people of Scotland as a whole.

Before the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West tried to lay down the rules of order, I was saying that a number of my hon. Friends wished to address the Committee on this Amendment. I feel that we need to stress how important it is that the Government should at least give some sign of understanding the deep feelings and deep resentment which have been built up throughout Scotland as a result of this Bill, and this tax, by making the small concession of granting us this Amendment.

Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)

One of the saddest results of the Government's handling of the Bill is that this Amendment provides the only chance which Scottish Members on this side of the Committee who care about the effect of the tax on Scotland have to discuss the position at all. It is not through any wish to stray on the fringes of order that some of my hon. Friends have made some of the points which they have been forced to make. What we are concerned about is not so much how Scotland is treated in this debate, but the effects of this tax on Scotland.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

The hon. Gentleman is usually very fair. Would not he agree that because most of the time on previous Amendments has been hogged by his English colleagues, there has not been enough time to bring in the Scottish Amendment?

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

The hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends spent until about 6 o'clock the other morning making sure that we would not have sufficient time to discuss these Amendments.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. Let us forget past debates, and deal with this one. I must ask the hon. Member to keep to the Amendment.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

I just wanted to say that the Amendment comes after the measures announced by the Prime Minister in the House yesterday, as a result of which we in Scotland find ourselves in a difficult situation. To all intents and purposes Scotland is a de- velopment area. The Prime Minister said that the only exemption to be made to these measures in Scotland was in respect of building control.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. So far, I have been very generous with the interventions of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. I wish that they would remember what the Amendment is about. It substitutes "appropriate Minister" for "Minister of Labour". The hon. Member can show ingenuity in making his various points if he relates them to those words, but he is straying far wide of the mark in talking about building controls and yesterday's speech by the Prime Minister. I hope that he will address himself to the two Amendments and to the words "appropriate Minister".

Mr. MacArthur

I do not want to question your Ruling, Mr. Jennings, but my hon. Friend has referred to the scarcity of buildings in the Highlands under the Government. Is it not in order for him to do so, as an extension of the argument which I advanced, without any question of control at all, about the definition of the word "poverty" and its application to the Amendment, which deals with charities in Scotland?

The Temporary Chairman

I appreciate the point that the hon. Gentleman makes, but by no stretch of the imagination can I regard building control as a charity.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

I was merely trying to point out that if these measures are put into effect the whole of Scotland will be in need of charity, and in that event the validity of my argument becomes all the more obvious, because who can we expect to administer such charity, apart from the Secretary of State? That is his job. I am sorry to have to leave that point, because I believe that the Prime Minister misled us seriously in respect of the earlier Measure. Now we come back to the Selective Employment Tax, which will affect development areas in Scotland to a far greater extent, in proportion, than it will other parts of the country. That is the real reason for the feeling that exists on this side of the Committee about the Measure, and that is the reason why we are using any opportunity we can to bring the situation to the attention of the Committee.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

How significant it is, on this one occasion we have of discussing a narrow Amendment, to see the Secretary of State for Scotland almost deserted by his hon. Friends while on this side, as usual, almost every Scottish Conservative Member is standing up and fighting against the empty Government benches in support of the real interests of Scotland. This is a narrow Amendment, concerned only with the question whether we shall transfer certain functions from the Minister of Labour to the Secretary of State for Scotland—

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

On a point of order. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) call my hon. Friend a liar. Is this Parliamentary language?

The Temporary Chairman

I was certainly very deaf, and I can sincerely say that I heard nobody use the word "liar."

Mr. Taylor

Many Members on this side of the Committee—[Interruption.]

The Temporary Chairman

Order. Let us get on with the debate in a seemly fashion. I cannot hear what is said.

Mr. Taylor

Hon. Members opposite may wonder why Members of the Scottish Unionist Party suggest transferring certain functions from the Minister of Labour to the Secretary of State for Scotland, in view of that right hon. Gentleman's appalling record. He is a Secretary of State under whose leadership we have a slump in house building, savage reductions in educational building, an increase in petrol tax and vehicle licence duty—and now the Selective Employment Tax, which hits Scotland particularly hard, and especially those areas in special need.

Considering the Amendment, hon. Members will ask themselves why we are suggesting giving more power to this person, this Government, who have brought so much trouble to Scotland and who promise to bring so much more in the future. Even if we consider the narrow question of emigration, we see that the Government, who pleaded with us to try to stop the drift of people from Scotland, in their first year in office have caused a dramatic increase to 43,000, with the promise of an even greater figure in the future.

Hon. Members will ask themselves, why do we propose further to extend the powers—

Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

On a point of order. Would it not assist the Committee if the hon. Gentleman told us to which Amendment he was speaking and whether he is in favour of it or not?

The Temporary Chairman

It is quite clearly defined which Amendment we are discussing. If the implication is that the hon. Member it out of order, I must say that he is not. He has related his last five sentences to one immediately preceding them on the question of the Secretary of State for Scotland being an appropriate person. At the moment, he is in order.

Mr. Taylor

I am addressing myself to the Amendment which deals with this specific point.

We may be asked why we propose to transfer more power to a Secretary of State who has wreaked such havoc in Scotland in so short a time. We have the new problem of investment grants which are far less favourable in Scotland than the old investment allowances. Time and time again—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. There is no relation between this sentence on investment grants and the premise which the hon. Gentleman enunciated about six or seven sentences ago. Investment grants on this occasion are out of order.

Mr. MacArthur

On a point of order. May I call your attention, Mr. Jennings, to the fact that 40 Scottish Labour Members are absent?

The Temporary Chairman

The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that one. It is a bogus point of order. Time after time, hon. Members have been told not to raise such points of order to gain party points. I hope that there will be no repetition of this practice.

Mr. Taylor

This is, of course, a very serious Amendment and I will stick strictly to it.

There are many such examples when we consider the Amendment. If we are considering the possibility of transferring even more powers to the Secretary of State, hon. Members on both sides will ask themselves, "Why should we support Amendment No. 146 when the Secretary of State has done so much damage to Scotland with the powers he already has?"

Despite this feeling throughout the Committee, and despite the fact that hon. Members say that we must give no more powers, to this dreadful man, there are compelling reasons for accepting the Amendment. By all means let us take from the Secretary of State his powers over housing, education and finance, but let us at least give him powers in the narrow field of charities, because this is right and proper. In Scotland, the definition of a charity is different under the Income Tax Acts. It is far more difficult to be accepted as a charity in Scotland than in England.

One real problem which will emerge is the treatment of closed workshops—

Mr. Armstrong

On a point of order. Would the hon. Gentleman inform the Committee whether, if the Government were to accept the Amendment, he would insist on being paid in Scottish currency? Or would he accept English?

Mr. Taylor

Our real concern at the moment is whether our British currency has any value at all.

Closed workshops in Scotland have difficulty in being accepted as charities. They do worthwhile work in providing employment, a real life and hope for the future, in the West of Scotland to almost 500 people who are blind or suffering from epilepsy or other diseases. I hope that at least these organisations will be accepted as charities, even if they are limited companies making profits. They do good work.

I hope that, with the help and experience of the people in the Scottish Office, who were formerly under the guidance of the previous Conservative Government, these charities will receive sympathetic treatment. So Mr. Jennings, while you and others may say, "Why should we give even more power to a Government who have failed Scotland so disastrously, and, in particular, to a Secretary of State who has personally failed Scotland so abysmally?" I feel that on this narrow point, despite their dismal record, there is a case for approving this Amendment, and I hope that the Committee will do so.

10.30 p.m.

Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)

There is one very important aspect of this Amendment which has not as yet been touched upon. If the Government were to refuse to accept the Amendment, it would be reversing the processes of devolution which have been carried out by Conservative Governments over many years. Instead of giving powers to the Secretary of State for Scotland, they would be insisting that the Ministry of Labour, which is a London-based Ministry, should carry out the process of repaying this money to charities.

For this reason, I am sure that the Secretary of State—who has not got enough to do, anyway—will be very anxious to persuade the Financial Secretary to accept the Amendment. As I say, the Secretary of State is not over-engaged at the present time, judging by the lack of positive new thinking which is coming out of the Scottish Office.

On the other hand, let us remember that the Ministry of Labour will be very heavily engaged over the months to come with, I regret to say, the obviously increasing amount of unemployment which is bound to affect Scotland. I therefore urge that, for administrative reasons, there is a very good argument indeed for the Government to accept the Amendment, and I hope they will do so.

Mr. Gower

It will not have passed the notice of hon. Members that this Agreement refers also to Wales, and seeks to give to the Secretary of State for Wales a power similar to that which is sought to be given to Scotland. I am glad that the Minister of State, Welsh Office is here tonight.

It is, indeed, a great pity that we are reduced to this very narrow Amendment to express our apprehensions and axieties about the effect of this fearful, dreadful tax on certain parts of the United Kingdom. It is also a pity that we did not have considerably more time in which to deal with the effect on Scotland and Wales. We could have done with three days to discuss the effect on the County of Kent alone, or any other county in the United Kingdom.

Every argument adduced so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) could be related to the rural areas of North and Central Wales. They apply almost equally, and the effects of this tax in those areas will be very similar to the effects described by him. I agree with my hon. Friend that there will be a dearth, a shortage, indeed a lack of development. There is bound to be. The impact of this tax on those areas is certain to be really serious. I cannot understand why the Government are not aware of this.

One thing is certain, at any rate. If my hon. Friend's worst fears are realised, in Scotland, and indeed in Wales too, there will be a proliferation of charities. There will be a great need for charities, and I am sure that it would be better if the working of these charities were supervised by the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

I have been deeply touched by some of the speeches that I have heard tonight from Scottish Conservative Members—not least that of one of my constituents, the noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith). [Interruption.]

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. J. C. Jennings)

Order. This chit-chat across the Floor of the Committee prevents hon. Members from hearing the debate.

Mr. Steel

Thank you, Mr. Jennings.

I was particularly struck by the speech of the noble Lord, the Member for Edinburgh, North, who is usually one of my more troublesome constituents. I propose to invite him at the next election to speak on my platform in favour of Scottish devolution, having heard what he has had to say tonight.

It is unfortunate that the timetabling of Amendments has meant that we are not given an opportunity to discuss the wider issues of S.E.T. and what it will mean to Scotland. I hope that we may be able to rectify this through the machinery of the Scottish Grand Committee before the end of the Session. In this connection, I asked a Question on 11th July about the effect of S.E.T. on the development areas, remembering that Scotland is mainly a development area. The hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who I am glad to see in her place, replied: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would be kind enough to await the discussion on the Amendment to the Bill when it arises?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th July, 1966; Vol. 731, c. 961.) I have been kind enough to wait and I am still kindly waiting, but that Amendment has not arisen.

There is a serious intent behind the Amendment before the Committee, an intent which has got somewhat lost in the welter of wider speeches. There is a case for saying that, because of the difference between charities in England and Scotland, this Amendment should be accepted.

Mr. MacDermot

If any justification were required for the placing on the Order Paper of the procedure Motion in relation to this Measure, I suggest that the last hour's debate provided it. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I will not withdraw. I will justify. It is entirely a matter for hon. Gentlemen opposite how they choose to spend the time available to them as a result of the procedure Motion. It is illuminating to think that they have considered it right to spend one hour on a fringe debate without once adducing any argument in support of the Amendment for which they are supposed to be arguing. That is not surprising, because it is not an Amendment for which one could adduce any argument, for if it were accepted one would be accepting a nonsense.

Mr. G. Campbell

I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman was here when I moved the Amendment, but I moved it briefly and very much to the point.

Mr. MacDermot

It is a free country and every man is entitled to his opinion. I was here. I heard every word of the hon. Gentleman's speech. It was brief, forceful, vehement but, I am afraid, it was not to the point. He did not adduce any arguments to show how one Scotsman or Welshman would benefit in the slightest if we accepted it. I will show why none would and why it would considerably slow up the whole administrative process if it were accepted.

To reply to the arguments that have been adduced, I suggest that this seems to have been the most apt kind of debate to have had on the day when, for the first time, we have a Welsh Nationalist taking his seat in the House of Commons, for the arguments have been purely nationalistic, without any reasons having been given to show how anyone would benefit.

The noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) said that if we accepted the Amendment there would be an administrative advantage as a result of devolution to the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales. At least he got to the point, which no other hon. Gentleman opposite did the point being that the Amendment deals with administrative procedure, and nothing else. Many hon. Gentlemen were talking as if the power of deciding what were or what were not charities was being taken out of the hands of the Secretary of State for Scotland and, in some way, being conferred on the Minister of Labour. That shows that they have not read the Clause we are discussing. It is, in fact, expressly provided in subsection (4) that the power of deciding for the "purpose of this section" and of certifying what is and what is not a charity will rest with none other than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), in his very vehement contribution, suggested that the Secretary of State was the person who was more able to identify charities in Scotland. That is precisely what the Bill provides for, and what subsection (4) provides for, and there is nothing whatever in the Amendment that touches on or deals in any way with the identification of charities.

It is true that the law of Scotland is different from the laws of England as to the meaning of "charity"—the hon. Member brought some very large tomes with him to demonstrate that—but I am sorry to have to tell him that the fact is that the Scots, being a canny people, have a narrower definition of "charity" than have the English. We, being a charitable Government, therefore thought that it would be right in this case to apply the English definition of "charity", and so ensure that Scotsmen would not be deprived of the benefit of refunds which would be available to Englishmen by being confined within the narrow, strict straitjacket of the Scottish definition of "charity".

We therefore provided that the meaning of "charity" contained in the Income Tax Act should apply, but in order to ensure that no Scotsman should feel that the English wool was being pulled over his eyes, we provided that it would be the Secretary of State for Scotland who would certify and determine which were the charities which complied with the definition, and it is thereby his responsibility to confer that benefit upon Scotsmen.

But, turning to the Amendment—if it is not thought improper—to argue the Amendment itself—what the Amendment deals with, and nothing else, is which Minister should be responsible for the refunds to charities in Scotland and Wales —that, and nothing else. In other words, the Secretary of State having decided in Scotland which are the charities, which is the more convenient machinery for repayment?

I was interested that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), whose name appears at the top of the list of hon. Members in support of this Amendment, has not yet told us—perhaps we shall hear him in reply, and I shall be very interested to hear him—how he, with his experience as a Secretary of State for Scotland, thinks there would be some administrative advantage in accepting the Amendment.

The fact is that these payments will be made in respect of charitable establishments scattered over different parts of the country—Scotland and Wales, as we are concerned with here. The Secretary of State for Scotland does not have sufficiently devolved machinery to discharge this administrative function conveniently. The Ministry of Labour has. It has not merely regional offices but local, sub-regional offices, and it has the machinery available. It will be dealing in all other spheres with the whole procedure of the premium payments and the refunds. The additional administrative task of examining the applications, examining the claims that are made on behalf of the charities and, when established, making repayments to them, will be a very small addition to the burden which that Ministry will already be carrying in respect of all other repayments—

Earl of Dalkeith

Will not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the Ministry of Labour will be very preoccupied in the coming months with dealing with problems of increasing unemployment? Has this been taken into account?

10.45 p.m.

Mr. MacDermot

The Ministry of Labour will be dealing with the whole administration of this Bill when it becomes law. There is nothing to be gained when we have one lot of officials who have the necessary local offices all over the country and are making premium payments and refunds already to everyone within the scope of the Clauses we have been discussing, suddenly to single out charities and to say, "Here is a class of refunds for which we shall use entirely different machinery—which does not exist, but we shall have to set it up specially for the purpose". I hope that hon. Members see now why at the outset I was justified in saying that what the Committee is being asked to accept is a nonsense, an administrative nonsense.

For its application to Wales there is even less argument that can be adduced. Exactly the same administrative arguments apply, but there is not even a question here of a separate law or any need to certify in regard to Wales which are and which are not charities, because the law of Wales is the same as the law of England. There is no problem or difficulty. For those charities which are established there is exactly the same machinery in Wales as for those in England.

If the Amendment were accepted it would be necessary, as subsection (3) makes quite clear, quite artificially to introduce a definition of what are Welsh charities as opposed to English charities, a definition which is wholly unnecessary for any administrative purpose connected with the Bill and I do not imagine that it would do anything to satisfy any national aspirations which any Welshmen might have. As was pointed out by one of my hon. Friends, once the right to payment has been established, all that they would be interested in would be receiving the refund at the earliest possible moment. No doubt they would do that by using the machinery of the Ministry of Labour.

Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)

There was at one time a school of theological thought which debated for a considerable length of time how many angels could sit on the point of a pin. I do not know whether it was the result of this or the kindness of you, Mr. Jennings, or the elasticity of your imagination in the Chair which allowed so many of my hon. Friends to speak with great feeling on a very narrow Amendment. The Financial Secretary, who declared himself to be an Irishman, has used an argument as tortuous as any which he criticised my hon. Friends for using. He tried to argue that this was a perfect example of how necessary it was for a timetable to be imposed on this Bill. He must know in his heart that the only reason why this debate has taken over an hour is that this is the only occasion on which many Scotsmen who feel extremely strongly about this Bill have any opportunity of discussing these points in Committee.

Mr. MacDermot

I do not follow this argument. Are Scotsmen only to argue in the interests of their constituents if the debate is confined solely to Scotland? Can they not argue the Scottish aspect of all the other matters?

Mr. Noble

It is perfectly true that Scottish Members can talk for as long as they are able under this very tight Guillotine on problems of agriculture, laundries, Mrs. Mopps, charities and the rest, but—as the Financial Secretary may not have taken the trouble to find —there are several Amendments dealing specifically with the problems of the Highlands and Islands—problems which have come to the Highlands and Islands because of the shipping strike—and other matters which could not have been brought within the rules of order in this debate.

The whole argument on the benches opposite in this debate was summed up with brutal accuracy by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) when he said that he did not care whether the Ministry of Labour looked after this Scottish matter or any other Ministry so long as they got the money. This is perhaps the greatest failure—and it is being daily shown to be a failure—of the Government if they believe that Scotsmen do not care who looks after them so long as they get the money. We have for many years rightly had the feeling that the Secretary of State for Scotland should look after Scottish matters. If that is not the hon. and learned Gentleman's view he should say so.

The Financial Secretary went on to say that he did not see that any Scotsmen or Welshman would benefit and therefore the administration should be done by the Minister of Labour. Is it a new theory that it is administratively right for people to be looked after by a Minister only if they benefit from his action? If so, I do not believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman would deny that Scottish universities are of benefit to a great many Scotsmen. In that case, why does not the Secretary of State administer them? The hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is a nonsense and he knows it.

Then the hon. and learned Gentleman said—and I do not accept this—that the only point of the Amendment is that the Secretary of State could certify what is a charity and what is not, with the Minister of Labour responsible for payment. Is there any reason why Scottish charities, which are not all small—some are big, like the Church of Scotland and the National Trust—should not go to the Scottish Office for payment, which would be very much easier than going to labour exchanges and asking various points.

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that if the Amendment were accepted it would be an administrative nonsense. The whole tax is an administrative nonsense. In any case, it is an insult for the hon. and learned Gentleman to suggest that something that would be run by the Secretary of State for Scotland would be an administrative nonsense. It need never have been in the days when I was Secretary of State. [Laughter.] I can well understand hon. Members opposite laughing. They have had a very satisfactory run on the Committee stage because they have succeeded in entirely gagging Scottish Members on many things they wanted to discuss.

I remember that distinguished Englishman, the Minister of State, Scottish Office, using every conceivable opportunity for hours on end in order to press particular points that he wanted—always, of course, with the acceptance of the Chair that he was, as you put it, Mr. Jennings, on the fringe of order. I do not think that any Scotsmen would mind if the Minister of State took part in handling the question of charities, for he is the next down in rank at the Scottish Office.

It is not for me, perhaps, being without so much personal knowledge, to argue the case for Wales but the Minister of State, Welsh Office, is here. Earlier, when one of my hon. Friends said he believed the Government should accept the Amendment, I heard the Minister of State say, "If you will believe that, you will believe anything."

I cannot tell what sort of mess the Welsh Office is in. It may well be in a state of administrative muddle which would delight the heart of the Financial Secretary, for that was his only argument for rejecting the Amendment. If that is so, I am sure that the Minister of State is perfectly competent to get up and admit it. He is a frank and honest person of a very charitable nature and if that is the state of the Welsh Office he should tell the House so.

There are obvious reservations and they were well expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor). There were real worries in the minds of several people as to whether it was right to put on the Secretary of State for Scotland the extra work that might be entailed by this comparatively small addition to his many duties. I am a charitable person, too, and I believe that he would just manage to do that without making any great inroads in the period of leisure which he apparently has in dealing with Scottish affairs.

This has been a serious debate, at least in its underlying tone. The position, which is agreed upon by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, is that Scotland has very real problems in coping with this tax, in addition to all the other things which have happened. I do not not believe or accept one word of the arguments put forward by the Financial Secretary. [Interruption.]I have replied to the only three points he made.—[An HON. MEMBER: "A poor reply."]—It is not nearly such a poor reply as the Minister of State is a poor Minister of State. It is perfectly possible and right for the Government to accept this Amendment and in this small way to demonstrate that they do care for Scotland, because Scotland cares very much about who looks after its interests. If the Government will not accept the Amendment I must ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to divide the Committee.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I would say, Mr. Jennings, that beyond the fringe was not an unreasonable place to be this evening. I will not delay the Committee for any time, but when I heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) stand up and say that this has been a serious debate I thought that it was an appalling statement.

Mr. Noble


Mr. Johnston

I will not give way just now. I will give way in a moment, when I have finished the point that I am making. I quite accept the argument which has been put, to the effect that S.E.T. will do considerable harm to Scotland and the Scottish economy. I do not accept that it is a sensible tax and I accept that it is administrative nonsense in many ways. I do not think that the most effective way to deal with this is to pile nonsense upon nonsense, which is what the Scottish Unionist Members have been doing tonight. There is no doubt of this. I will now let the right hon. Gentleman intervene.

Mr. Noble

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his rather curious way of giving way to me. He has admitted that this is a very serious problem for Scotland. He agrees that we have had no opportunity of discussing Scottish affairs. Is he denying that the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, and his hon. Friends, were not doing so because they wanted to express in a comparatively short time their feelings about this? If this is the only method of doing it, does he not agree that this is right? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]

Mr. Johnston

I will not withdraw anything. What I complained and still complain about, is that we have gone rather wide on what was said to be a very narrow Amendment and if one goes wide, or towards the fringe, I would have thought that a real attempt would have been made to present the case seriously. Sitting here, looking at the smiling faces of that cherubic pair, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State, it was quite clear, as it was to most hon. Members, that the case being made by the former Secretary of State and his hon. Friends, was not being made seriously, and that it damaged the very real criticisms there are of this tax in Scotland. I want no part in this sort of argument or this sort of criticism—[HON. MEMBERS:" Sit down."]—nor

would I ask my hon. Friends to vote in support of an Amendment which was very rightly criticised as an administrative nonsense. I will not see administative nonsense piled upon nonsense.

Question put, That the words "Minister of Labour" stand part of the Clause:

The Committee divided: Ayes 286, Noes 219.

Division No. 143.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Dewar, Donald Jeger, George (Goole)
AIWA, Austen Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n—St.P'cras,S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dickens, James Jenkins, Rt.Hn. Roy (Stechtord)
Alldritt, Walter Dobson, Ray Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Allen, Scholefield Doig, Peter Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Anderson, Donald Donnelly, Desmond Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Archer, Peter Driberg, Tom Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Armstrong, Ernest Dunn, James A. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Ashley, Jack Dunnett, Jack Judd, Frank
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Dunwoody, Mrs. Cwyneth (Exeter) Kelley, Richard
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Dunwoody, Or. John (F'th — C'b'e) Kenyon, Clifford
Bacon, Fit. Hn. Alice Eadie, Alex Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter — Chatham)
Bagier, Cordon A. T. Edelman, Maurice Kerr, Russell (Feitham)
Barnett, Joel Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lawson, George
Beaney, Alan Edwards, William (Merioneth) Leadbitter, Ted
Bellengor, Rt. Hn. F. J. Ellis, John Ledger, Ron
Bence, Cyril English, Michael Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Bann, lit. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Ennals, David Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)
Bennett, James (C'gow, Bridgeton) Ensor, David Lee, John (Reading)
Bidwell, Sydney Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lestor, Miss Joan
Binns, John Finch, Harold Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Bishop, E. S. Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Blackburn, F. Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lomas, Kenneth
Boardman, H. Floud, Bernard Loughlin, Charles
Booth, Albert Foley, Maurice Luard, Evan
Boston, Terence Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Ford, Ben McCann, John
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Forrester, John MacColl, James
Bradley, Tom Fowler, Gerry MacDermot, Niall
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Gardner, A. J. Macdonald, A. H.
Brooks, Edwin Garrow, Alex McGuire, Michael
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Ginsburg, David Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross—Crom'ty)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Proven) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Maclennan, Robert
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C )
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch — F'bury) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony McNamara, J. Kevin
Buchan, Norman Gregory, Arnold MacPherson, Malcolm
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Grey, Charles (Durham) Mahon, Peter (Preston, 8.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mallatieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Griffiths, Wills (Exchange) Mapp, Charles
Cant, R. B. Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marquand, David
Carmichael, Neil Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hamling, William Mason, Roy
Chapman, Donald Hannan, William Maxwell, Robert
Coe, Denis Harper, Joseph Mayhew, Christopher
Coleman, Donald Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mendelson, J. J.
Concannon, J. D. Hart, Mrs. Judith Millan, Bruce
Conlan, Bernard Hazell, Bert Miller, Dr. M. S.
Corbel, Mrs. Freda Heffer, Eric S. Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Craddock, George (Bradford, 8.) Henig, Stanley Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Crawshaw, Richard Hilton, W. S. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cronin, John Hooley, Frank Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hopson, Emlyn Morris, John (Aberavon)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Homer, John Moyle, Roland
Dalyell, Tam Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Neal, Harold
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Newens, Stan
Davies, G. Eifel (Rhondda, E.) Howie, W. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Hoy, James Norwood, Christopher
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oakes, Gordon
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Hunter, Adam Ogden, Eric
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Hynd, John O'Malley, Brian
Delargy, Hugh Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Orbach, Maurice
Dell, Edmund Jackson, Colin (B'h'se — Spenb'gh) Orme, Stanley
Dempsey, James Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Oswald, Thomas
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Rose, Paul Varley, Eric G.
Paget, R. T. Ross, Rt. Hn. William Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Palmer, Arthur Rowland, Christopher (Meriden) Walden, Brian (Ali Saints)
Pardoe, John Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Wallace, George
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Sheldon, Robert Watkins, David (Consett)
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Weitzman, David
Pentland, Norman Shore, Peter (Stepney) Wellbeloved, James
Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich) Whitaker, Ben
Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Silverman, Julius (Aston) White, Mrs. Eirene
Price, Christopher (Perry Bar) Skeffington, Arthur Whitlock, William
Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Slater, Joseph Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Price, William (Rugby) Small, William Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Probert, Arthur Snow, Julian William, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Rankin, John Steel, David (Roxburgh) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Redhead, Edward Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Rees, Merlyn Stonehouse, John Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Reynolds, G. W. Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Rhodes, Geoffrey Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Richard, Ivor Swain, Thomas W inriick, David
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Swingler, Stephen Winterbottom, R. E.
Roberts, Coronwy (Caernarvon) Taverne, Dick Woof, Robert
Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.) Wyatt, Woodrow
Robertson, John (Paisley) Thomas. Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Yates, Victor
Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow E.) Tinn, James TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rodgers, William (Stockton) Tomney, Frank Mr. Gourlay and
Roebuck, Roy Urwin, T. W. Mr. Ioan L. Evans.
Rogers, George
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hill, J. E. B
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Hirst, Geoffrey
Astor, John Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n — M'd'n) Digby, Simon Wingfield Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin
Awdry, Daniel Dodds-Parker, Douglas Holland, Philip
Baker, W. H. K. Doughty, Charles Hordern, Peter
Balniel, Lord Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Hornby, Richard
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Drayson, G. B. Howell, David (Guildford)
Batsford, Brian du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hunt, John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Eden, Sir John Iremonger, T. L.
Bell, Ronald Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Elliott, R.W.(N'ctle-upon-Tyne,N.) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Errington, Sir Eric Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Biffen, John Evans, Gwynor (C'marthen) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Farr, John Jopling, Michael
Black, Sir Cyril Fisher, Nigel Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Blaker, Peter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kerby, Capt. Henry
Body, Richard Fortescue, Tim Kershaw, Anthony
Bossom, Sir Clive Foster, Sir John Kimball, Marcus
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Galbraith, Hn. T. G. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Gibson-Watt, David Kitson, Timothy
Braine, Bernard Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Knight, Mrs. Jill
Brewis, John Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.Col.Sir Walter Glover, Sir Douglas Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Glyn, Sir Richard Lloyd,Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Bryan, Paul Goodhart, Philip Longden, Gilbert
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Goodhew, Victor Loveys, W. H.
Bullus, Sir Eric Gower, Raymond MacArthur, Ian
Campbell, Gordon Grant, Anthony Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Carlisle, Mark Grant-Ferris, R. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gresham Cooke, R. McMaster, Stanley
Cary, Sir Robert Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Channon, H. P. G. Gurden, Harold Maddan, Martin
Chichester-Clark, R. Hall, John (Wycombe) Maginnis, John E.
Clark, Henry Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Clegg, Walter Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Marten, Neil
Cooke, Robert Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maude, Angus
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Cordle, John Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mawby, Ray
Corfield, F. V. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Costain, A. P. Hastings, Stephen Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Hawkins, Paul Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Crawley, Aldan Hay, John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Crouch, David Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Miscampbell, Norman
Crowder, F. P. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mitchell, David (Basingtoke)
Currie, G. B. H. Heseltine, Michael Monro, Hector
Dalkeith, Earl of Higgins, Terence L. Morgan, W. G. (Denbigh)
Dance, James Hiley, Joseph Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Mott-RadClyffe, Sir Charles Rees-Davies, W. R. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Tilney, John
Murton, Oscar Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Ridsdale, Julian van Straubenzee, W. R.
Neave, Airey Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Vickers, Dame Joan
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wall, Patrick
Nott, John Russell, Sir Ronald Walters, Dennis
Onslow, Cranley Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Ward, Dame Irene
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Scott, Nicholas Weatherill, Bernard
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Sharpies, Richard Webster, David
Osborn, John (Hallam) Shaw, Michael (S'c'b'gh — Whitby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Page, Graham (Crosby) Sinclair, Sir George Whitelaw, William
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Smith, John Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Peel, John Stainton, Keith Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Percival, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col, Sir M. (Ripon) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pink, R. Bonner Summers, Sir Spencer Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Pounder, Rafton Tapsell, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Worsley, Marcus
Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Wylie, N. R.
Prior, J. M. L. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Pym, Francis Teeling, Sir William Mr. More and Mr. Eyre.
Quennell, Miss J. M. Temple, John M.
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

I beg to move Amendment No. 285, in page 6., line 36, at the end to insert: (2) No payment shall be made under this section to any educational establishment in which more than half of the students are fee-paying.

The Temporary Chairman

I think that it will be convenient for the Committee to consider with it Amendment No. 265, in page 7, line 11, at end insert: (4) The Minister of Labour shall not make any payment under this section to any independent school which does not receive any grant from public funds For the purposes of this subsection a "grant from public funds" shall riot include the payment of the fees of any pupil by a local authority

Mr. Pardoe

It will be obvious to all hon. Members at the outset that this is really about the public schools. "Faith, hope and charity," said St. Paul, "and the greatest of these is charity." However, the only thing which the public schools have in common with charity is St. Paul. He was a splendid influence on the one and a total disaster on the other. I leave it to lion. Members to work out which applies to which.

The Government say that there are about 1,100 independent schools which they recognise as being efficient and which are likely to be registered as charities. There are a further 500 independent schools which are, again, recognised as being efficient, which will pay the tax but which will not get the refund. Then there are another 2,000-odd independent schools which are not recognised as being efficient and will not get anything, either. We have a situation in which about 1,100 independent schools will get the refund and about 2,500 will not.

Some independent schools are to get it and some are not. The ones which do get it will be called charities, and I believe that there is a basic injustice here. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are charities."] I am prepared to accept any terminology which hon. Members like to give. I am making the point that there is an injustice between one kind of independent school and another.

11.15 p.m.

I believe that the Government have a straight choice. They should either refund the tax to all independent schools, or, much more importantly and as is suggested in the Amendment, ensure that none of them gets the refund at all. I am sorry that the Secretary of State for Education and Science was not here during the debate on the previous Amendment, because we heard a great deal from Scottish Members about the various definitions of the word "charity" in Scotland, and how it differed from the definition that we know in England.

I think that I am right in saying—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that to qualify as a charity a school must show that it is not run at a profit, and it must give its purposes. In Scotland there is a rather narrower definition. It is the relief of poverty, and if one tried to define public schools as being for the relief of poverty, the whole thing would become as ludicrous as it almost is.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Can the hon. Gentleman give one example of a public school which makes a profit?

Mr. Pardoe

I am not aware that the House of Commons makes a profit, but that does not make it a charity. The point about whether public schools make a profit is not relevant. Of course they do not normally make a profit, but what I am trying to show is that if we are to come to some definition of charity, we ought to be clear about whether the public schools come within this definition or not.

I think that I can illustrate the point best by quoting the purposes which some public schools state as being their charitable intent. Cheltenham Boys' College, which no doubt some hon. Members know, states that it is "providing education for the sons of gentlemen". That is not a charity. The purpose of that splendidly charitable institution at Stowe is "to educate boys of classes above those ordinarily attending public elementary schools". That is a splendidly charitable purpose! [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Then we have Cranleigh, the purpose of which is to provide a "middle class boys' school", and Bramley, the purpose of which is to provide "a middle class girls' school".

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)


Mr. Pardoe

I have given way once. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Be charitable."] When the last Administration tried to define what ought to be covered by the Charities Act, 1960, it came up against certain difficulties, two to be precise, Eton and Winchester, and these two were excused from declaring either their aims or their incomes because of the extreme antiquity of their origins.

So much for the purposes for which these educational establishments were set up. I give way to the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Sir J. Eden) now.

Sir J. Eden

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has heard of the Charity Commissioners, and of the fact that the responsibility for determining what is or is not a charity rests with them? I wonder, too, whether, as a representative of the Liberal Party, which defines as one of its principles the right of freedom of choice, he is not slightly ashamed of hoping to get all his applause from the Socialist benches opposite?

Mr. Pardoe

I had rather hoped that I was carrying the leader of the Conserva- tive Party with me at least in this matter. I do not intend at this stage to answer that point, because I have it listed in my notes to be dealt with in detail a little later on.

I now want to draw the attention of the Government Front Bench to the statement of the Secretary of State for the Department of Education and Science on 22nd December, 1965, when he was talking about setting up the Public Schools Commission. He said: The Government are determined that the public schools should make the maximum contribution to meeting the education needs of the country …This implies that the schools should, like other parts of the education system. become progressively open to boys and girls irrespective of the income of their parents."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd December, 1965; Vol. 722, cc. 2107–8] That, presumably, is a brief statement of the Government's policy, and I would not in any sense dissociate myself from one word of its excellent sentiments. But the Government already give substantial tax advantages to those who educate their children at public schools. If one manages to find a fairy grandparent to educate one's children it becomes substantially better from a tax point of view. Again, if one sets up an endowment insurance policy one gets all the tax advantage for the premiums.

I want to take up the point that has been made about freedom of choice. This great red herring is always drawn across public schools debates, and it has been drawn across this one tonight—as it will be again and again and again in the course of this debate. I am not trying to circumscribe freedom of choice; freedom of choice is already circumscribed by the wealth of the parents. It is all very well for Conservative Members to talk about freedom of choice, because many people in this Committee, with the incomes hon. Members enjoy, have the benefit of this freedom. But many people outside never approach the point where they have this freedom for which hon. Members scream so loudly.

I hope that I shall get some support from both sides of the Committee on that point.

Sir Edward Boyle (Birmingham, Handsworth)

I want to ask the hon. Member one question so that I can see who is to the left of who. Has the hon. Member come across the speech made by the present Minister of Public Building and Works last year at the Headm asters' Conference, when he said: We do respect parents' freedom of choice and it is not our intention to damage the private sector of education. I do not think that the hon. Member has come across that.

Mr. Pardoe

I am not speaking for the party opposite; I am speaking for myself. I regard part of my mission in this House as being to wave the flag of radicalism before the benches opposite.

This is a very moderate Amendment. I am merely talking in terms of schools where 50 per cent. of the pupils are fee-pay ing. The Secretary of State for Education and Science, in the days when he was a free-thinking author, actually advocated 75 per cent. as the basis on which this should be settled. I do not argue with that figure. I am prepared to go along with that recommendation if the Commission should make it, or even the figure of 100 per cent., if the Comm ssion can adduce a proper argument for it.

I never set out with the intention that this should be a debate on the value of the independent schools. This is an attempt to bring before the Government one more anomaly in the Bill. I sincerely wish to save the Government from the embarrassment of voting charity relief to the public schools.

Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) has levelled an attack not on the public schools but on the whole system of boarding education, of which there is a very great shortage. I cannot understand why the manufacturer of candyfloss should be given a bonus, while the manufacturer of character has to pay the tax. There are about 1,100 independent schools in this country, of which about 400 are members of the Headmasters' Conference. The rest are small schools, educating people of all classes and principally people who require a boarding education because their parent; are in the Services or serving overseas. [An Hoist. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] If the hon. Member thinks that it is nonsense, I can give him full details.

I am President of the Independent Schools Association, and only one of our 500 members is a public school. If the Liberal Party and the Socialist Party are determined to penalise independent education, what will happen? Can the local education authorities supply the boarding education which is supplied by the 1,100 independent schools? That is the challenge. If they cannot, by taxation and the other Measures which are intended, the Government will dry up this source for building up the nation's character. This is a very good thing for the country to know.

Those of all classes and all levels of income, who sacrifice to send their children to these schools, sometimes paying as much, in the schools in my association, as £30, £40 or £50 a term, should know that the Socialist and Liberal Parties are determined to exterminate this from Britain. Of course a parent's freedom of choice is of value to the country. It is not only the rich who get that. In the schools in my association are the children of parents of very small means, who are making considerable sacrifices because they want their children to have a boarding education.

Let us now consider the case of tnc very small proportion of children in independent schools who are sent there by the local education authorities because they have difficult backgrounds and require the special treatment which they can get only at a small independent school. Is that practice to be crushed by this tax? Is that what the Liberal and Socialist Parties are attacking? We must be clear on this, because members of my association have not known hitherto what the attitude of the two parties is.

During the 1964 election we sent a questionnaire to every candidate asking what his attitude was to the independent schools. The Liberal Party candidates replied that they were in favour of independent education. We sent one to Transport House, and the Secretary of the Socialist Party replied that they were out to abolish the public schools but were not against independent education. If anyone challenges that, I can show him the letter.

I ask the Government to think again about the way this tax will fall. At present, I think that there are in this country, 328 direct grant establishments, of which 141 are to have their tax refunded, and 187 are to get no refund. Where I do agree with the argument of the hon. Member for Cornwall, North is in his belief that there is no sense in this division. I might add that the figures I have just quoted were worked out from an Answer to a Question on 21st June to the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

11.30 p.m.

Why, of the direct grant schools, should 141 get the refund, and 187 not get it? Taking the independent schools recognised as efficient by the Department of Education, 758 will have a refund, and 787 will not. What is the criteria which the Government are using? In my view, education is not a matter which should be taxed under the Selective Employment Tax at all. To bring education in any form into this field is not only unfair; it is wrong. Of course, if one wants to exterminate the free choice of parents in the matter of their children's education, then the Government should do it in an above board manner and go ahead. What it should not do is to adopt this underhand way of achieving it.

The schools are divided into different categories, and not only are the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North wrong, but his argument is wrong as well. His argument was certainly wrong when he said that none of the schools which are recognised as inefficient will get the refund. A number of those recognised as not being efficient are in that category simply because they have not the money for laboratories, assembly halls, and so on, will get a refund, while others will not. This matter requires a good deal of consideration.

Mr. Pardoe

I gave the figure of 2,000 schools and I should be happy if the right hon. Gentleman could refute that figure.

Mr. Turton

I have quoted figures which were given to me in an Answer by the Secretary of State for Education and Science on 21st June. I have also checked them with my Association, and if the Liberal Party has other figures, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will check them against mine.

Under the guillotine procedure we were prevented from discussing the important question of whether educational establishments should all get the refund. Per- sonally, I believe that to be the right answer, but if one is to have this other way of dealing with them under Clause 4 —what we call the charities way—then we have to allow schools which are not profit-making under the charitable trusts regulations, time to get into charitable trusts. It is wrong to have this uneven distribution, where 43 per cent. get the refund, and 47 per cent. do not.

Mr. Robert Maxwell (Buckingham)

The right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Labour Party is interested in exterminating the private schools is quite untrue. What we say is that we should replace the system whereby children who go to them go because their parents can send them with a system whereby the children who go should be those who ought to go to them.

Mr. Turton

I will send the hon. Gentleman a copy of the Labour Party letter from Transport House during the 1964 election period, in which it is clearly stated that the Labour Party is not against independent education, but is in favour of abolishing the public schools. The hon. Gentleman is putting in quite other terminology what his party is saying here.

I reject what the hon. Member for Cornwall, North says. We should make it clear that we say that education in this country should give parents freedom of choice.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

I am glad to join with the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe)—I do not know whether I should call him my hon. Friend—in supporting this Amendment. As you have pointed out, Sir Eric, there is an Amendment down in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends about this same problem, in rather different terms. We would go rather further than the hon. Member for Cornwall, North. The only matter that destroys the amity between the hon. Member and myself is that he has already made so many of the points which I had intended to make, but I think they are worth rehearsing because they obviously did not get through to the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton).

The reason we appeal to the Government to think again about this matter is that this is an act of social justice.

In an intervention during the course of Questions on 16th June, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) said: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, whatever the intentions of the tax, the figures which he has disclosed this afternoon will strike people as representing a completely indefensible anomaly educationally, and that we shall certainly press this matter very hard? "—[0Fricim, REPORT, 16th June 1966; Vol. 729, c 1462.] I agree that this is a completely indefensible anomaly, and I want to get rid of it. This is why I suggest that we should either treat all independent schools as worthy of repayment or we should say that none of them should be repaid. I for one would say that none of them should be repaid. I do so for several reasons—

Mr. Martin Maddan (Hove)

Before the hon. Gentleman gives his reasons, may I point out that while it may be a good thing to impose justice upon everybody the fact is that the independent private schools which do not qualify under the Bill are not complaining?

Mr. Lyon

I speak on behalf of all those parents who send children to those schools. They may be complaining. May I set out my reasons for my attitude? During the course of the debates on the Finance Bill and on this Bill the Government have had to set their face against some very powerful arguments on behalf of the disabled, the blind, widows and some part-time workers. Here we are by this Measure giving £3½ million back to some of the biggest bastions of social privilege in this country.

Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)

Has the hon. Gentleman calculated how much it would cost the taxpayer if he were to abolish these bastions of social privilege, as he calls them, and if all the pupils who attend them were to attend State schools?

Mr. Lyon

I have made this calculation. I have worked out from the figures which are given in the statistics of education that in this country 8 million school children receive, under the State system, £136, on average, towards their education. The private sector, by means of the fees which are charged, cost their parents £500 or £600.

If the policy of the Labour Party were implemented, and these schools were integrated into the public sector of education, they would find that these resources could be funnelled through the State system into these schools. They would also find the benefit of this in their own pockets. But the real case for integrating the public schools is that the amount of concern which those parents would show towards the conditions existing in State schools would be such that there would be a revolution in education. One reason why, under our present system, we cannot get the immense public impetus that is needed to increase the priority of education in our public spending is because so many of the more voluble and vociferous parents are sending their children to private paying schools.

The cost of accepting the Amendment to parents who send their children to public schools has been worked out by some newspapers. It is estimated that S.E.T.—this tax which the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton described as an attack on the public schools—would cost such parents between £6 and £16 a year. The Ministry has issued figures stating that the average cost would be £7 a year. Meanwhile. the average fees at these schools are between £300 and £550 a year. Can anybody really claim that £7 on £500 a year represents an attack on the public schools?

Mr. Goodhew


Mr. Lyon


Mr. Goodhew

Give way.

Mr. Lyon

Not until I have completed this part of my argument.

Mr. Goodhew


The Chairman

Order. The hon. Member must resume his seat if the hon. Member who is speaking does not give way.

Mr. Lyon

I will give way shortly.

This so-called attack is, therefore, on parents who can afford to pay perhaps £500 to send their children to these schools—remembering that £500 is more than about 7 million of Britain's wage earners earn each year. I suggest that if these parents can afford to pay £500 a year, they can afford another £7 a year.

Mr. Goodhew

The hon. Gentleman said that the additional cost to such parents of S.E.T. would be £7 a year. Presumably, that would be the cost to the Exchequer of giving relief, if the hon. Gentleman's figures are correct. He also said that the cost to the State of educating each child was £136 a year. Is he not, therefore, really saying that if all the pupils now at public schools went to State schools it would cost the Exchequer twenty times as much as giving this relief?

Mr. Lyon

The figure of £7 is the sum calculated to cost those parents in increased fees. The figures of £6 to £16 which I mentioned were given by the headmasters of some of the larger public schools when this controversy arose. As the hon. Member for Cornwall, North has said, these schools already get considerable help from the State in meeting their outgoings. Where they qualify as charities, they have a 50 per cent. reduction in their rates. Their endowments are not subject to taxation. Eton gets one-third of its income from endowments, and as a result of various kinds of manoeuvre, many of the fees that are paid qualify for tax concessions. It is estimated in a poll carried out by the Advisory Council for Education, published in February, 1964, that only 11 per cent. of the sample of parents paid the fees out of current income. In order to send their children to these schools most of them resorted to some kind of capital payment device which attracted tax allowance.

11.45 p.m.

I have to some extent already dealt with the injustice that would be caused it these proposals went through as stated in the Bill. The situation is even worse than suggested by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North. About 1,100 schools might qualify if they all registered—and some of them are capable of registering, although they have not yet done so—as charities, and there are 500 schools which could not so register as they are at present laid out. In addition, there are 2,205 schools which, curiously enough, attract 160,000 pupils whose parents want the privilege of sending their children to schools that are not efficient. This is the element of choice which the hon. Members opposite are seeking—

Mr. Robert Cooke

I am sure that the Committee would be grateful to the hon. Member if he would tell us where these children would now go if he succeeded in abolishing the schools to which they go at present.

Mr. Lyon

They would go to the same schools, but the schools would be integrated into the State system, and the payments would be made out of the funds that would be so readily available when all these poor parents, for whom the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton expressed such grief, all increase their tax to pay for this. Indeed, they would be only too willing to do so, if their children were going to a State school.

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

I have been listening to the hon. Member very carefully, and have noted his calculations of what it would cost if all children in independent schools were taken over by the State. The hon. Member gave a figure of 500,000 or so. I have been making a calculation. If there are 500,000 children in independent schools, at £136 a head it would cost the State an extra £68 million, which is now being paid for them.

Mr. Lyon

I do not accept the hon. Member's figure of 500,000, but if there are 500,000 children for whom there is being paid an average of £400 a year, what is left for the outgoings, remembering those parents who would be only too willing to contribute more in taxation to improve the State schools if their children were sent there?

What is a more serious matter is that when this Measure was first proposed in the Budget I was very concerned about the effect on charities. I have considerable experience of charitable institutions. I know a great deal about the work being done by the Churches, and I was greatly concerned lest this tax might fall on their work. I made representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer about these effects, and I consulted public opinion in my constituency and in my own area about them.

What astonished me was to find that there is increasingly a body of public opinion which is rejecting the whole concept of charity simply because these bogus charities are getting the same kind of allowances from the State as are the genuine charities. On this, I feel very deeply indeed. That is why I have put down this Amendment. Eton was founded for 12 children of the poor and now children of the poor cannot get through its doors. It may have been a charity when it was founded, but no one can say that these institutions are charities today. Some of them have colossal incomes—Marlborough has £350,000 a year, Charterhouse has £340,000 a year, Arundel £320,000 a year, and Wellington £312,000 a year. These are not charitable in any sense of the word, not even in the sense of the word used by the Scottish hon. Member who spoke the debate. Underlying the concept of charity there is—

Mr. Frank Judd (Portsmouth, West)

Does my hon. Friend agree with the headmaster of Marlborough who recently wrote in his book, "The Public School of the Future": The public schools can justly be called a divisive factor in society. This is, in my opinion, not merely regrettable, but morally wrong."? The Conservative Minister of Education, speaking in this House in 1961, said: A small minority of children coming from more or less the same kind of homes "—

The Chairman

Order. An interruption must not run to the length of a speech.

Mr. Lyon

I find it very helpful. I thank my hon. Friend.

If we go on with this blurred conception of what is a charity we shall debase the whole conception of charities and public support, which is vital to deserving organisations, will be alienated. The whole trouble stems from the fact that there is no clear definition in English law of what a charity is; there are only general classifications. The Nathan Committee on Charities suggested that there should be a much tighter definition. I regret that the House, when it was passing the 1960 legislation, failed to insert any definition in that Act. If it had done so there would have been an opportunity to separate the good from the bad.

I have no doubt that the Government will say tonight that it is difficult to draw a clear line between the good and the bad charity and this is why we have to accept public schools. It was difficult enough for me to phrase this Amendment and I am sure that the same difficulty confronted the hon. Member for Cornwall, North, but if we are to preserve the concept of charity in the public mind we must restate the definition as a definition which has underlying it the notion of giving benefit to a wide measure of the public and that is not what the public schools do.

I have not attacked, I hope, public schools—

Mr. Armstrong

Why not? It is time that my hon. Friend did so.

Mr. Lyon

— because I am content to await the report of the Newsom Committee and to make up my mind when I have seen it, but if this tax helps the independent schools to reconsider their objection to integration with the public system, it may have been a very valuable exercise. These schools, which have only 5 per cent. of our children, have 10 per cent., of our teachers. Teachers are one of the scarcest commodities in the country today. One of the difficulties about giving decent standards in the State schools is that we cannot get the number of teachers we want to bring down the staffing ratio. No wonder that the staffing ratio in State schools is 24 and in the public schools 12. Even allowing for the so-called bigger sixth forms—and increasingly the State schools have bigger sixth forms—the ratio in public schools is still only 1 to 16.

Mr. Gerry Fowler (The Wrekin)

Would my hon. Friend accept that much of his argument also applies to many of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, which are also charities in a very peculiar sense, which also receive large endowment incomes and which, according to the Franks Report, pay their staff at a rate much higher than the norm in English universities?

Mr. Lyon

I accept the point. If it is right—and I have not argued the case —that there should be the privilege of choice in education so that one can choose between the private sector and the public sector, it must be right that those who choose the private sector should pay for it. That is all I ask.

Sir E. Boyle

We are obviously operating under severe difficulties because of the Guillotine and I want to leave a few minutes to the Minister to reply. I will, therefore, make my remarks a good deal briefer than I would have wished after listening to the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) and the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon). I hope that the hon. Member for York will forgive me when I say that, although I have no children either at independent schools or at maintained schools, I do not think that it can be said against me that I have not tried to obtain a rising share of the national wealth for the maintained system.

Seeing the Chamber so full for this debate on public schools, I hope that we can get something like equal support from hon. Members opposite when we raise the particular case of direct grant schools, which include many children, particularly in the North of England, who would be at public schools if they lived in the South and which also contain able children for whom fees are not paid because they come from poorer families.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

My Amendment would exclude the direct grant schools.

Sir E. Boyle

I am aware of that. I say that I hope we shall in future get support from the hon. Gentleman for what we have to say about them.

I am completely in agreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) in objecting to a tax on any form of education. We take the view, as did a former Labour Minister of State, that the nation cannot afford to lose the services of any good school and I was glad that my right hon. Friend pointed out the especially severe effect of the tax on the boarding schools.

With respect to the hon. Member for York, I tell him that the figure of £7 is completely bogus. It will be a great deal higher for boarding schools. Many examples could be quoted of schools which have pointed out that it will cost them £17 or £18 a head. I cannot see the sense of a measure which discriminates against boarding education at a time when it has been made plain through detailed research that there is a national need, and demand, for more of it.

We very much hope that the Government will stand by the clear statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Second Reading of this Bill. Since I have been a Member of the House of Commons, we have never had a taxation proposal benefiting charities which all charities were not allowed to enjoy. To discriminate among charities would be something completely new, and something thoroughly wrong and unwelcome, within our tax system.

12 p.m.

There is, moreover, a further point. The Public Schools Commission has been quoted. Having appointed the Public Schools Commission under Sir John Newsom—and I shall have something to say about that later—it must be wrong to suggest discriminating against certain charities which provide education. Having set up the Commission let us not prejudge its results by taking a side-swipe, through the tax system, at the public schools.

The Labour Amendment is open, apart from anything else, to one very obvious objection. As I read it, it refers to the payment of the fees of any pupil by a local authority.Whatever view we take on the public schools, if we wish to see a wider entry into them it is no good just going back to Fleming, which is what this Amendment seems to do. It seems very curious, having set up the Newsom Commission, for the party opposite to move an Amendment taking us back to the Fleming Report.

Now I turn to the Liberal Amendment. As I listened to the hon. Member for Cornwall, North who, with his colleagues on the Liberal Bench, were all educated at public schools, I was reminded of Sir Winston Churchill's first speech in this House, in which he remarked that the Member who had preceded him would have done better, instead of making his violent speech without moving his moderate Amendment, to have moved his Amendment without making his violent speech.

There are many hon. Members who wish to see a widening of entry into the public schools, but I am quite sure that it would be madness, in advance of the report of Newsom Committee, for us to accept any Amendment with a precise figure of the kind contained in the Amendment we are now discussing. That leads me to say a word about the attitude of my hon. Friends and myself on this question of the future of the public schools. I put what I believe is the right point of view when I questioned the Secretary of State on 22nd December last. I asked what was his real objective in setting up the Public Schools Commission: Is it to give a wider range of children the opportunity to benefit from the admittedly good education provided by many of these schools—many people would support that objective—or is it to bring about fundamental changes in their independent status and character ….?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 2108.] That is the question which we continue to ask on this side of the Committee. We recognise that there are many children, who, on an objective test, ought to be getting a boarding education. We shall study with great interest what the Newsom Committee has to say about this when the time comes. Equally, we on this side said in our election manifesto that we believe that independent schools of good standing ought to have the opportunity of applying to be put on the direct grant list. We would far rather see a good independent school applying for inclusion on this list than see a direct grant school compelled by the educational policy of the party opposite to go totally independent.

Nonetheless, we believe that it is highly important that there should continue to be an independent sector in education. And if the public schools are to be "integrated", whatever the word may mean, in any form, they are surely worthy of integration only if they are allowed to pursue their present form of excellence under new and perhaps wider forms of recruitment. That is to say, it is vital in our view that the independent status and functions of those schools should be preserved. On that point, I agree heartily with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton said this evening. I apologise for having left the Financial Secretary so litte time, but we hope that the Government will stick to the pledge given so clearly on the Second Reading of the Bill.

Mr. MacDermot

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) for allowing me a few minutes to reply to the debate. I speak for all my hon. Friends when I say that we are very grateful to the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) and my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) for what has been, for some of us at least, a very enjoyable debate.

Having sat here for many hours and days on this Bill and on the Finance Bill, and having had to endure a great deal of what I regarded as synthetic indignation from the other side of the Committee, I found it a great relief for once to see the real thing. The right hon. Gentleman asked if it would be useful to establish here exactly who was to the left of whom, but he does not need to do any struggling to establish his position within his party.

The question that my hon. Friends will want me to answer is why the Government cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendments. I shall not deal with the drafting defects, but come at once to the substance of the debate which, as the hon. Member for Cornwall, North made clear from the outset, was aimed at the fee-paying schools, as was Amendment No. 265, spoken to by my hon. Friend.

The simple point is that when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer told the House, during the Second Reading debate on the Finance Bill, that he was seeking a way to deal with charities, the question whether any concession should be extended to all charities had already been raised. Some of my hon. Friends questioned whether all charities should necessarily benefit from the refund.

That conception was strongly attacked by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod), and, therefore, the Chancellor made it perfectly clear in his speech that he could not regard it as his responsibility, and said: …nor do I want to undertake the task, to judge between the relative social merits of any of these charities. Therefore, it is a case of all in or all out, as far as I can see, with all the implications that flow from that." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th May, 1966; Vol. 729. c. 655.] I and many of my hon. Friends are aware that there are very strong arguments for saying that the time has come when the law of charities and the definition of charities should be reconsidered, but if that is to be done it cannot be done by a side-wind in dealing with a particular relief in one narrow field of the tax law. There is an established field of exemption for charities in our tax law which has wide repercussions, and we are here extending it a little further in respect of this tax.

If any exceptions are to be made, it would be wrong and invidious to try to make them in relation to this tax alone, and it would impose a wholly unwelcome and impossible task upon my right hon. Friend in drawing the division. Indeed, that difficulty is exemplified by the drafting of the Amendments.

Amendment No. 265, which did not have the difficulty that it would cover direct grant schools, would also exclude from the refund independent schools for handicapped children, a number of charitable nursery schools, some of the private experimental progressive schools, and a number of other independent schools upon which local authorities rely heavily where they are not able themselves to offer grammar or boarding school places. These are real difficulties that would confront my right hon. Friend or anybody else trying to draw this distinction.

Finally, a word about the question of direct grant schools which was raised in the debate. There are 179 of these schools, and it is expected that all will qualify as charities. There are 320—

It being ten minutes past Twelve o'clock (the House having resolved itself into the Committee at ten minutes past Four o'clock) The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Order [18th July], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question, That the proposed words be there inserted, put and negatived.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at ten minutes past Twelve o'clock, including the Questions on Amendments,

moved by a member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to Clauses 5 and 6.

Amendments made: In page 6, line 39, leave out "during any period" and insert: "for any contribution week". In page 7, line 11, at end insert: "and includes Greenwich Hospital ". In page 7, line 16, leave out "has certified" and insert "certifies". In page 7, line 17. leave out "has found" and insert "finds". In page 7, line 18, at end add: , and in any such appeal the Secretary of State shall be entitled to appear and be heard MacDermot.] Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.