HC Deb 03 November 1970 vol 805 cc987-1031

9.58 p.m.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Transfer of Functions (Wales) Order 1970 (S.I., 1970, No. 1536), dated 19th October 1970, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th October, be annulled. This Order raises major questions for us in Wales. It is of exceptional significance to our people. It proposes a complete dichotomy in our education service in Wales. It will make Wales the only part of the United Kingdom where the education service is not an entity—possibly the only country in the world where primary and secondary education are cut off, so far as Ministerial responsibility goes, from the rest of the education service.

The education of an individual is one process from nursery school through to adult education, and this Order offends against the fundamental unity of the education service. It gives every appearance of very scant consideration of the administrative and educational issues involved.

Let me give the House a brief illustration. Many of our secondary schools serve a dual purpose: they serve the purpose of further education and they serve the purpose of secondary full-time education. If this Order goes through, will education authorities in Wales have to negotiate with the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science on further education facilities and finance and with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Wales on schooling? If so, an unnecessary duplication of work is involved—that is easy for anyone to see. The division between two Ministers of financial responsibility for the very same school building is an absolute nonsense.

We shall also have the absurdity, if this Order goes through, that youngsters taking their A level in secondary schools will fall to the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman: their brothers and sisters taking A level at the polytechnics will fall to the responsibility of the right hon. Lady. There is already a dichotomy between the polytechnics and the universities that is causing considerable concern in the educational world. It produces a waste of resources and a waste of manpower. As the Minister will know, there is a demand for closing that gap. In this Order the Government appear to be creating a further dichotomy. At a time when we are expecting the raising of the school-leaving age to 16, to separate secondary school work from youth work seems to me to be an act of sheer madness.

Article 2(4) of the Order makes it clear that responsibility for the training and qualification—and the disqualification, which is very important—of teachers remains the responsibility of the right hon. Lady. Equally, responsibility for the appointment of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools in the primary and secondary sphere will remain with the right hon. Lady. The whole tone and character of the schools depends on the quality and the training of the teachers, but in this the right hon. Gentleman has no responsibility at all—it remains the responsibility of the right hon. Lady. The vision and wisdom of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools has considerable influence on the life of the schools in Wales, but under the Order the appointments are not the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman but of the right hon. Lady.

What a hypocritical pretence of devolution this is. It is quite clear to me at least that the Department of Education and Science, like every other Government Department, resents giving up any of its power and, despite the boasting of the Secretary of State for Wales that because he is Chairman of the Conservative Party he somehow has greater influence in the Cabinet than he otherwise would have, the right hon. Lady has evidently run rings around him, because what she has given him in this Order is the scraps, not the main meal. She has not given Wales anything substantial in education. Real power the right hon. Lady has kept for herself, for responsibility for primary and secondary education means nothing without responsibility for teacher training and supply, and without responsibility for those who inspect the schools.

I must say that I am sorry for the Welsh Department of Education and Science. They must be wondering what has hit them. How many civil servants in the Welsh Department of Education and Science will now be on the payroll of the Welsh Office? How many of them will be on the payroll of the right hon. Lady, and to whom will they be answerable? Will they now have to serve two masters instead of one? I understand the Government are putting great stress on the ability of the Permanent Secretary at the Welsh Office to show extra qualities that will enable him to solve the differences that will arise from time to time between the two Ministers. Is it the bureaucrat who is to solve the differences? Who is responsible, and to whom are those people responsible in the Welsh Office?

The Order gives the appearance of being one step forward and three steps backward for education in Wales. Why the haste? What compelling educational reason drives the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Order must come into operation on 5th November, during a school year, and that the Government cannot even wait until the end of the school year for this transfer to take place and for proper consultation? Why are the Government rushing like the Gadarene swine in the New Testament to this unfortunate conclusion?

Criticism has come from the National Union of Teachers, along with the National Association of Schoolmasters and the secondary school teachers. It has come from all except the Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrowan Cymru. The right hon. Gentleman will understand that, I believe. For the right hon. Lady I will translate. They usually do this for me, so I am returning the kindness. I referred to the National Union of Welsh Teachers. With the sole exception of that small body, all education opinion in Wales is critical of the way in which the matter has been handled. The Teacher, which is the organ of the National Union of Teachers, said on 30th October that the National Executive of the N.U.T. condemned the unnecessary haste with which the Government were seeking to implement changes which could affect the education of every child in Wales. That is true. If it means anything at all, it means that the education of every child in Wales is affected by the Order. If that is so, why have the Government said that they could not wait to consult the people whose whole life is given to education in Wales, who have unrivalled experience and knowledge at the disposal of the Government?

Not only has the Order been pushed with indecent haste, but I must complain about the high-handed manner in which Ministers have conducted their affairs. The right hon. Lady is the quintessence of courtesy in my personal dealings with her. I never have any personal complaint about the right hon. Lady. But the teachers have. When she offended them over Circular 10/70 she appeared before them in private in sackcloth and ashes and said, "It will not happen again.".

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher) indicated dissent.

Mr. George Thomas

It is no good the right hon. Lady shaking her head. I read closely the report of her meeting with the teachers. She promised full consultation in future. Then the Government behaved in this way, with the teachers struggling to get a hearing. The Welsh Joint Education Committee, a senior administrative body in Wales, tried to get a hearing. Eventually, it was invited to the right hon. Lady's Department, to be fobbed off with seeing not a Minister but a civil servant. Because we do not criticise civil servants in the House, I will not follow that up here. But I can say that it was a very unhappy meeting.

The Secretary of State for Wales was invited to address the All-Wales Conference of N.U.T. representatives. He was also asked to receive a deputation on this matter. He refused both invitations on the ground that he had not completed his thinking on the matter. I regard that as an evidently genuine reason. My complaint is that this thinking should have gone on a little longer. The N.U.T. wrote to him again and asked for a meeting. Again it was refused. He seems singularly unwilling to take advicve from those whose whole life is education and whose concern is for the children in their care.

When the Education Act, 1944, was being prepared, I was a member of the National Executive of the N.U.T. There were two years of close consultation before that Measure came to the House. This is a major upheaval in Wales. This is not a slight thing which the Government are working on. The Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Secretary of State for Wales ought to study the ways of the noble Lord, Lord Butler, who, when he had an important Measure of this kind, affecting the life of so many people, made sure that he carried the educational world with him by adequate and proper consultation. The Ministers have adopted a dangerous attitude and I must remind them that no Government are so strong that they can afford to brush off the representations of people whose experience and knowledge entitle them to be heard. The Government need the goodwill of teachers and their conduct in this matter has not only been arrogant but irresponsible. My advice to them is to mend their fences with the teachers in Wales, all the teachers' organisations in Wales, including the N.U.T., the N.A.S. and the secondary organisations, and the Welsh Joint Committee.

When a deputation of hon. Members from this side of the House met Ministers—I apologised to them because I was unable to be there—I understand they were told that this was not the first time that a Transfer of Functions Order had gone through without consultation. Ministers must have been referring there to some time before the Welsh Office was created because I know that the Transfer of Functions Order that went through in my time received the fullest consultation with all the interests concerned, and I did not refuse a single organisation that wanted to come to me to discuss that Order.

My final criticism on this has constitutional overtones. Whatever other reason the Government advance tonight for the Order, the one claim they cannot make is that they have a mandate from the people of Wales to force this carve-up of our education service. It is true that they published these proposals in their General Election manifesto in Wales, and only in Wales. To that extent it was an issue. The Minister of State spoke on the subject—I read the report in the Western Mail—and I spoke on it myself. The Secretary of State did not say a word in the General Election campaign about it. We understand that he was occupied in Hounslow—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hen- don."]—Hendon. I apologise to both constituencies. This was an issue with the Welsh electorate. No one else in the United Kingdom was asked to consider it. Only the Welsh electorate was asked to consider it but without the benefit of the advice of the right hon. Gentleman.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether during the election campaign he expressed his opposition to the transfer of primary and secondary school education to the Welsh Office?

Mr. George Thomas

The right hon. Gentleman must be patient. I am going to educate him in a few more of the facts of life. I shall come to that matter. I want to remind him now that the Welsh people, having seen the manifesto of the Conservative Party, gave an emphatic reply. The Tories were rejected completely in Wales, and this was a major issue before the Welsh electorate. We were dealing with a specifically Welsh matter with which no one else was concerned, or ought to be. The Conservatives won seven seats out of 36 in Wales. They lost 10 deposits in Wales compared with six in 1966. After they had submitted this proposal, the Welsh electorate gave the Tories a lower proportion of the votes in 1970 than they did in the General Election of 1966. The Labour Party won 27 seats out of 36. We did not lose a single deposit. The only opinion that ought to count in the House tonight on this matter is Welsh opinion, because this is a Welsh matter.

Wales prizes its education service more highly than almost anything else, and we object to seeing it dismembered and truncated. We want the Welsh Office. We have a vested interest in the matter. We created the Welsh Office; we strengthened it; we added to its responsibilities just 18 months ago. Taking over the Health Service was a major upheaval for the Welsh Office, and we were committed to the transfer of education to Wales in due time. We are not objecting to the transfer of education. We are objecting to the truncation of education, to the way in which Ministers are giving to Wales what they would not dare to try to give to Scotland. They do not tell the Scots that they may have primary and secondary education: they have the education service; it is an entity. It is a crime against the younger generation to break up the education service as is proposed.

Anyone who has served in the Welsh Office has an affection for it. It is a political miracle that in so short a time it wields such a mighty influence in Wales, but this Order places the Welsh Office in a false position. It gives the appearance of a transfer of power, but that is utterly illusory and deceptive. This is gambling with the education of our boys and girls. It is not a transfer of real power. That is still with the right hon. Lady in Curzon Street. This is a pretence at devolution.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman can bulldoze through this Order. I know that he can call on his unseen friends who are around the various parts of the House and can summon them to support him. That is practising the philosophy that Whitehall knows best what is good for Wales. The right hon. Gentleman may do that, but he will be doing a grave disservice to democracy if he behaves in that way.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I see that the right hon. Gentleman is about to go on to something else. I wonder whether he is now in a position to answer the question which I put to him. Did he or did any of his colleagues at any time during the election express their opposition to the transfer of primary and secondary education to the Welsh Office?

Mr. Alec Jones (Rhondda, West) rose

Mr. Speaker

We cannot have an intervention on an intervention.

Mr. George Thomas

If the right hon. Gentleman had had the pleasure and privilege of being in Cardiff, West, he would have heard me saying that I supported the transfer of a full education service, but not a truncated service. I speak in the knowledge that my constituents who heard the speech are able to support me in what I say to the right hon. Gentleman tonight and that my words will be reported.

The Secretary of State and the Minister of State seem unperturbed by the potential damage which the break-up of our education service will cause, and they are indifferent to the resentment and criticism from informed Welsh educationists. We understand their aloofness. No Welsh constituency will ever again have a chance to reject either.

But we who have kept the confidence of the Welsh electorate—and I have the right to say this to the right hon. Gentleman as both Ministers have seats outside Wales—know that the philosophy which they are advancing was rejected by Wales. By all means let them strengthen the Welsh Office and give education control to the Welsh people, but do not let them gamble with our education service by separating primary and secondary education against the advice and against the will of all informed education opinion.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Barry Jones (Flint, East)

I have received a letter from over 1,000 Flintshire teachers working in the county which I have the honour to represent. The leader of these teachers tells me that his professional colleagues want me to know of their great concern over the implications of the transfer and the manner of putting it through at this time. I do not doubt the sincerity of the Secretary of State for Wales, nor of the Secretary of State for Education, but I must comment on the fact that they seem to have made an excellent job, temporarily, I suppose, of uniting disparate bodies like the local education authorities, the teachers' unions and perhaps even the inspectorate.

This letter mentions what the teachers in Flintshire seem to regard as the highhanded methods of the Government. They seem to think that such methods can only lead to educational disaster. The letter says that they feel that we ought to know in the House of the strong feelings in the profession about this transfer. There is also concern over the effect of the transfer on those plans that some of the L.E.A.s had for setting up sixth form comprehensive colleges. There is genuine concern about the effect the transfer might have on this. Some people say, not necessarily jocularly, that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have his responsibility for higher and further education taken away, in the sense that what is evolutionary sauce for one race is sauce for the other.

In this situation with its blurred edges and inherent possibilities of conflicting personalities and departments there is a clear need for some independent machinery, some form of independent committee which might monitor the new set up which appears to have an inbuilt rigidity. Any dispute between Cardiff and London could conceivably have injurious effects upon the education of Welsh children.

How, for instance, is the Secretary of State to teach Welsh to the varying age groups in the new situation? Teacher supply, service, education, curricular development and colleges of education are integral factors which cannot be separated from primary and secondary school education. How on earth can we divorce them from the schools themselves? He who does not control these factors cannot grasp firmly the processes of education for the five to 18 years old. It seems that this is the predicament in which the Secretary of State for Wales now finds himself. There are fears too that teachers in Wales are to have different salaries and conditions of service from those in England. Reservations are also being expressed over the future mobility of teachers between the Principality and England. Where in the world educationally is there a fissure so deep as the one between England and Wales concerning the transfer arrangements about which we have heard tonight?

It is believed that as a result of local government reform the provincial councils will have responsibility for further and higher education and that the unitary authorities will hold on to responsibility for the primary—secondary sector. Then there will be difficulties for the teachers' negotiators who wish to exercise their option for negotiation and consultation. To revert to the situation in East Flintshire, it is very odd that a boy could study for his A levels at a local comprehensive school in Flint and know that ultimately he would be under the direction of the Secretary of State for Wales and yet down the road, in the local technical college at Welsterton his brother studying for his A levels would ultimately be under the direction of Curzon Street. This is reprehensible.

I hope that the Government are aware that in Wales parental interest in education is as keen as it could be. Parents want to know why these measures were rushed through when the academic year was already under way. Why could they not wait until next summer, because there is time enough for teachers, administrators and parents to consider what is to be done in partnership with the Government. The division in responsibilities could be harmful to the schooling of Welsh children. There was, at a vital time, insufficient consultation.

We should have a unified service in Wales. It could be argued that the transfer has been pushed through far too quickly. One could say that the Secretaries of State—in one respect anyway—are too confident of their forensic skills and that they happen to be perhaps the advocates of "Mrs. Dale" territories in Bexhill, Hendon and Finchley and might be regarded as the missionaries to the scholastic descendants of the miners and quarrymen who financed their education from a mile of pennies. One is tempted to think of them as the political counterparts of that well known pyrotechnical partnership Bonnie and Clyde. They have been shooting up the time-honoured traditions of consultation and consideration. One could say that they have been robbing the educational banks of trust and co-operation.

10.28 p.m.

Mr. Alec Jones (Rhondda, West)

I suppose that I should apologise to hon. Members for delaying the opportunity of coming speedily to a decision, but if there is to be any apology it should come from those who arranged the business of the House and were so naive as to believe that it was reasonable to accommodate this issue, which fundamentally affects the education system of Wales, in one debate on the White Paper.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Civil Service Department, who wound up the previous debate, said that he was building in to the reorganisation of government a more questioning frame of mind. I dispute that, because this Order denies the people affected by it the right to ask the questions and to receive the answers.

We are discussing the decision to transfer responsibility for primary and secondary education in Wales to the Secretary of State for Wales. This is a decision which charitably-minded people might regard as at least unnecessary but which others more informed would regard as stupid. The Order is being implemented with indecent haste, and the Government have adopted an arrogant attitude in ignoring the views of teachers' organisations, education authorities and others who are fundamentally affected by and concerned with the educational system in Wales.

Paragraph 11 of the White Paper "The Reorganisation of Central Government" states: The emphasis is on the grouping of functions together in departments with a wide span, so as to provide a series of fields of unified policy. This continues the trend towards unification of functions which has evolved in recent years … Yet the Order proposes the opposite. It proposes that the educational service in Wales should not be a "field of unified policy", but that primary and secondary education should be detached from the remainder of the educational service; thus producing a series of anomalies and weakening the educational service in Wales.

My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mr. Barry Jones) has referred to the anomaly of the student taking A levels in a secondary school under the control of Cardiff, while a student taking the same examination in a technical college comes under the control of London. Government inspectors will be reporting on one day to the Education Office in Wales and on the following day to the Department of Education and Science.

An effective control over primary and secondary education in Wales exercised by the Secretary of State for Wales can only be achieved if the Secretary of State has control over the supply of teachers and the quota system now in operation. This is not envisaged, and the control proposed is a shadow of what sensible people would regard as effective. The Order leaves behind more questions than it attempts to answer. The line is to be drawn at primary and secondary education, but why not include further education? In many parts of Wales vocational education is geared to the requirements of the new Welsh industries. Why not include the youth service, which is of special concern to the localities?

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member may denounce the Order but he cannot amend it.

Mr. Jones

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, but I assumed that I was denouncing the Order by pointing out its absolute failure even to attempt to solve the problems of Wales.

If there had to be a Transfer of Functions Order for education, surely responsibility for the Arts Council should have been transferred, since Wales is renowned for having a culture of its own. The only justification for this order is the fact that it is in the Tory manifesto. If this is to be the new gospel according to St. Peter, let it at least be an honest one and a complete one. Let it not conveniently omit all those measures so disastrous to the people of Wales which were announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week.

Sir William Alexander, who is not always recognised as the teachers' best friend, has criticised the piecemeal nature of this Order and has condemned it as being silly. The Association of Education Committees is strongly against it and believe it to be creating a stupid dichotomy.

The education service in Wales is a service of which the people of Wales are rightly proud. It is a service that cannot afford the luxury of any silly or stupid decision that ignores the views of most educationists that education at all levels should be a unified service. This is what the original White Paper discussed by the House earlier seemed to advocate, and this is what this Order specifically denies.

Why the indecent haste in pushing through this Order? It has been suggested that the transfer does not involve any major administrative change. If this is so, why bother to do it at all? If it is not so and major changes are involved, why not allow time to explain the nature and consequences of the changes to all interested parties in Wales—not only to teachers' organisations and education committees, but to all in Wales who are vitally concerned in providing the best educational service for their children?

If the anomalies that many in Wales think will be created by this Order are said to be non-existent, figments of our imagination, why not allow time to clarify any of the doubts that may exist? The draft Order to implement these changes was issued on 15th October and teacher organisations in Wales were asked to submit their comments by 23rd October. That gave them eight days in which to comment on changes in an educational structure that had lasted a hundred years. Why must the Order be operative from 5th November? Is there some mystical significance in that date? The only significance that I know of was a significance for this House in days gone by, but there is no significance in that date for the structure of education in Wales.

The only explanation for this unseemly haste is that the Government were so unsure of their case that they felt that by acting swiftly they could prevent discussion, that they could present all concerned with a fait accompli and so minimise the effectiveness of any reasoned, reasonable and constructive criticism. I emphasise the word "constructive" because, from the teachers' organisations, the education committees and the Welsh Joint Education Committee, the Minister could not have expected anything other than constructive criticism.

It is obvious that the Government have sought deliberately to prevent discussion. They denied to the teachers' organisations and the Welsh Joint Education Committee any real democratic consultation on matters affecting them. They are bodies with a unique experience of responsibility for education in Wales, yet they are denied consultation on matters which they feel are of fundamental importance.

It is well known that the representatives of the four teachers' organisations walked out of a meeting at the Department of Education and Science on 20th October. They did so because they knew then that the Government did not intend having any real consultations about transferring the functions of primary and secondary education to the Secretary of State for Wales.

No one who has lived in Wales for any length of time can regard the Welsh Joint Education Committee as a revolutionary body, yet it said: Not only would the Secretaries of State"— this applies to both Secretaries of State"— not meet us when we requested interviews, but a major amendment of an Act has been made with no proper public discussion. Surely that is sufficient indication to any responsible Minister that he should be prepared to say that he will have second thoughts.

I have referred to the decision itself, to the hasty implementation of the decision, and to the lack of consultation in coming to that decision. The Government's only answer has been to say that it is in the manifesto. If their attitude is to be the manifesto, the whole manifesto, and nothing but the manifesto, consultation between the Government and bodies interested in Education in Wales is a waste of time. The Order indicates that that is the Government's view. Those who drew up the Conservative manifesto will be responsible for the unfavourable and unhealthy atmosphere which they have deliberately created in the educational service of Wales.

The Government were sure that their case was right and sound, but there is still time for them to take back the Order, carry out the fullest consultation with the people concerned and then, if they are still convinced that their case is sound, bring it forward again—in which case I shall still oppose it. Unless the Government indicate that they are prepared to do that, I hope that my hon. Friends will vote down this proposal.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hughes (Newport)

I have no objection to devolution of functions. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas), the former Secretary of State for Wales, who pointed out with pride that the Labour Government established the office of Secretary of State for Wales and also that further measures of devolution followed during that Government's term of office in health and in agriculture.

Our objection is essentially that the Government are splitting the education service in Wales. We can imagine the difficult situation with which local authorities will be faced in dealing with two separate Ministries, whereas previously their activities had been confined to one Ministry. We must also take into consideration that soon the school leaving age will be raised to 16. As a result, there will be a considerable linking between schools and colleges of further education. Again, we will have more confusion as a result of this proposal.

I appreciate that in the long run the situation could be rectified with a further measure of devolution—the delegation to the Welsh Office of responsibility for further education. However, there can be no doubt that for Welsh education this present move is indeed damaging.

What has irritated education circles in Wales more than anything is the lack of consultation. It seems rather typical of Tory control, because, in an education debate in this House a few months ago, I had occasion to point out that the Tory-controlled education committee in Newport had adopted this arrogant manner of trying to push through proposals which would fundamentally alter the comprehensive system there. This is a similar move in a similar direction.

The atmosphere which has been created in education in Wales can be gleaned from a report in the Western Mail of 21st October by the Education and Science Correspondent, Peter Jones, who wrote: Teachers' representatives from Wales stormed out of a meeting with Department of Education and Science officials in London yesterday. They had been told there was no possibility of consultation on the transfer of responsibility for primary and secondary education to the Welsh Office. He goes on to point out: Teachers later described the department's attitude on the transfer, which becomes effective on 5th November, as 'high-handed' and 'arrogant'. Those words speak for themselves.

It is noticeable that the teachers' organisations are not normally particularly united bodies; but, in the attitude that they have taken on this issue, even the N.U.T. and the National Association of Schoolmasters seem to be united. So the Conservative Government have indeed done a formidable job.

I notice, too, that the important Welsh Joint Education Committee is indignant. Again, I quote from the report in the Western Mail: At a similar meeting with Welsh education chiefs earlier, the chairman of the Welsh Joint Education Committee, Lord Heycock, protested to ministry officials in 'the strongest possible terms' over the absence of the Education Minister, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, and the Secretary of State for Wales, Mr. Peter Thomas. Again, this demonstrates the attitude of the Welsh Joint Education Committee to its transfer of functions. That is the overall effect that it is having in Wales.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones) said, it is symbolic that the operational date for this proposal is 5th November. It seems that in Wales the whole thing is ready to go up in flames. We want devolution, but it must be devolution in an orderly manner, and not at any price. As I see it, this Order will be pushed through the House tonight by English Members of Parliament, led by the Secretary of State, the Member for Hendon, South, and his lieutenant the hon. Member for the English constituency of Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt).

10.50 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)

May I say at the outset that I am going to resist the temptation of joining the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) in party political controversy in a debate which I consider to be important, relating, as it does, to education.

I listened with great interest to the contributions that we have had from the hon. Members for Flint, East (Mr. Barry Jones), Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones), and Newport (Mr. Roy Hughes), and I hope that in the course of what I have to say I shall be able to reply to some of the points that have been made and to refer to the differences which appear to exist between us.

I should like to emphasise two major facts which must not be lost sight of in discussing the details of this transfer of functions Order. The first fact, and it was referred to by the hon. Member for Newbury, is that the extension of the devolution of Government, which is what we are debating, is a matter of great significance. The theme and purpose of trying to bring government nearer to those who are affected by it are, I hope, matters about which there is no dispute in the House. By this Order the Government are demonstrating their loyalty to that concept.

I have listened carefully to the debate, and I think it is right to say—although I was not quite certain about the hon. Member for Rhondda, West—that the concept of further executive devolution is accepted by all who have spoken in this debate.

Mr. Alec Jones

My opposition is to the splitting of educational responsibility between two Ministers.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I gather that, and that therefore the hon. Gentleman is in favour of executive devolution. Although the Labour Party made no reference to it during the General Election, I gather that the hon. Gentleman is in favour of the devolution of responsibility for education to the Welsh Office.

Mr. Alec Jones

It is unusual for the right hon. Gentleman to make that point. He must be aware that the Welsh Council of Labour submitted evidence on the question of the further devolution of real power to Wales, whereas the Conservative Party submitted no evidence of any sort.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I take it, from what the hon. Gentleman has said, that he is in favour of the devolution of education to the Welsh Office, and that is the first major consideration that we have to bear in mind.

The second major consideration which towers over the mechanics of this development is that it is about the education of Welsh children who live in Wales, and for any Welshman there cannot be a more significant interest. For all of us born in Wales recognition of the importance of education is bred in the marrow. To say that education has been and is one of the greatest themes of our national life is to understate the situation which has been and continues to be a passion in the Principality—and long may it be so—a way of enhancing the quality of individual life and giving those with native talent the chance to serve better themselves, their neighbours and their country.

I want now to refer to the Order, because the right hon. Gentleman clearly was somewhat confused as to exactly what is being transferred. It is important that we should see clearly what is being transferred and what is not. The Order transfers all the functions that were exercised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science under Parts II and III of the Education Act, 1944, and subsequent Education Acts in respect of primary and secondary schools, including special and nursery schools, direct grant schools and independent schools in Wales. These functions include the compilation of school building programmes, grants and loans to voluntary schools, registration of independent schools, school health and dental services, handicapped pupils, and nursery education. All those functions are transferred to the Welsh Office, under my sole executive responsibility. That is what the right hon. Gentleman described as scraps.

I agree that they do not include further and higher education, youth and adult welfare and adult education; nor do they include the training, qualifications or pay of teachers, or matters relating to the conduct of teachers—a matter that the teachers were somewhat concerned about. They appear to be glad that those functions have not been transferred.

The main point, as I understand it, of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues concerning the substance of the Order is as to the location of the division of responsibility. This Order is criticised—I think I am right in saying this, although I was not sure whether hon. Members opposite thought that there should be no division at all—by the teachers and by the W.J.E.C. when it met my right hon. Friend because it draws a line between responsibility for school education and responsibility for other functions and, in particular, divides school from further education.

I want to make two points on that. First, there has to be a line somewhere. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues did not give any indication of their feeling about higher education, but it would not be practicable or sensible to transfer all educational functions—for example, responsibility for university grants, or teachers' salaries and superannuation. From discussions that I have had about polytechnics—referred to by the right hon. Gentleman—and universities, which are a form of higher education that has a large intake from outside Wales, I gather that it is generally accepted—I have not heard any educationist say otherwise—that they should be a United Kingdom responsibility.

Wherever the line is drawn there will be some difficulties or anomalies. I accept that. The hon. Member for Flint, East talked about blurred edges. Someone is bound to argue that the line should have been drawn somewhere else. We carefully considered this and came to the conclusion that the line could best be drawn so that all functions to do with schools are transferred. Our view was, and is, that this group of functions, including child care and the urban programme, which are also transferred, form a reasonably coherent sector which can be conveniently operated as a whole.

School education is an aspect of education that has always been a special concern and pride to the Welsh people, and where some of the educational differences peculiar to Wales are most in evidence, particularly as regards the Welsh language. It is in this sector that people—parents and others—particularly feel the need to look to someone nearer than in Whitehall to think about their problems and, where necessary, hear their appeals. On the other hand, we came to the conclusion that there are substantial arguments for not transferring responsibility for further education. At its upper end, further education forms a part of higher education and such matters as policy with regard to polytechnics and distribution of advanced courses of further education needed to be handled on the wider England-and-Wales basis. This applies to other issues of further education, notably policy on further education examinations, questions of government of colleges and the interrelationship of further education and industrial training, in all of which important developments are going on.

Criticism has been expressed about what the right hon. Gentleman described as a "complete dichotomy". I do not feel that there is any reason to fear that the result of transferring school functions to the Welsh Office while leaving further education with the Department of Education and Science should produce a dichotomy. In the first place, the main responsibility for the planning of provision and for day to day policy in these two sectors rests with individual local education authorities. It is for them to ensure that there is a unified approach to provision in their areas.

Second, as regards the machinery of central Government, careful thought has been given to devising arrangements which will ensure the closest possible co-operation between the Department of Education and Science and the Welsh Office, both in dealing with school matters which concern both countries and in ensuring a coherent policy as between schools and further education. The same senior official in Cardiff will be responsible for advising Ministers on both school and further education matters. This official will be on the strength of the Welsh Office, advising the Welsh Ministers on school functions, but continuing to advise Education Ministers on further education and other non-transferred matters. The staff dealing with both groups of functions will continue to work side by side in the same premises in Cardiff, which will in future be known as the Welsh Education Office.

The right hon. Gentleman asked how many of the civil servants would be on the strength of the Welsh Office. The answer is, all except four. So all those civil servants in the Welsh Office except four will be on the staff of the Welsh Office, and H.M.I.s will also be attached to the Welsh Office and will continue to work as a single body, advising, as now, on the whole range of functions.

Mr. George Thomas

Is the Secretary of State saying that Her Majesty's inspectors of schools will be appointed by him and on the payroll of the Welsh Office?

Mr. Peter Thomas

No, I said that they would be attached to the Welsh Office: they will not be appointed by me. They will be working for the Welsh Office in respect of primary and secondary schools and will be working for my right hon. Friend in respect of those functions which have not been transferred. The right hon. Gentleman knows from his own experience that Government Departments are used to close co-operation in matters like this. It is not uncommon for specialist advisers to advise different Ministers. One can think of many examples. H.M.I.s are one: chief medical officers are another. I have no reason to think that these arrangements will not work satisfactorily. I can assure the House that both the staff of the Welsh Education Office and Her Majesty's inspectorate in Wales will from the outset regard it as one of their major objects to ensure a unified approach and close co-ordination of the policies in dealing with the school and further education sector.

I now move to the major criticism from the other side—the question of what is described as undue haste, insufficient consultation. The basic decision to make this transfer was a policy decision, foreshadowed in the Conservative Party manifesto for Wales and announced in the Queen's Speech. This decision involved changes in the machinery of government which, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, are essentially matters for the Prime Minister and the Civil Service Department. He will recall the transfer of health. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman remembers the dates. The transfer of health was done in this way: it was announced during the debate on the Address. The Order was made on 18th March, 1969. It was laid on 24th March, 1969. It came into operation on 1st April, 1969, seven days later.

The right hon. Gentleman said he had consultation. I have made inquiries about this. The right hon. Gentleman did not consult anyone or any bodies as to whether or not that function, health, should be transferred to the Welsh Office.

Mr. George Thomas

Would the right hon. Gentleman say of whom he made inquiries to get this remarkable statement? Will he take it from me that I did not refuse to see a single body which approached me, as he has refused to see them?

Mr. Peter Thomas

I am talking about consultation. Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that if a body dealing with health had come to him to discuss with him whether or not health should be transferred to the Welsh Office he would have engaged in such consultation?

Mr. George Thomas

Does the right hon. Gentleman want an answer? Of course I am always willing to talk, and, unlike the Secretary of State, I did not think I knew it all.

Mr. Peter Thomas

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that when matters involve changes in the machinery of government there is never consultation on them. In this instance it was clearly desirable to announce these changes along with all the other changes in the machinery of central government announced in the Government's White Paper of 15th October. It was therefore not possible to arrange for any consultations with outside bodies prior to that date.

However, it was provided that this Order, exceptionally, although it was laid on 18th October, was not to come into effect until 5th November. This interval was provided precisely in order to enable the Departments to have consultations with the bodies concerned. The right hon. Gentleman will notice that there is a difference between the seven days in his Order, and the two and a half weeks in this, to enable consultations to take place.

In fact, on the day the White Paper was published a letter went out from the Department of Education and Science to the local authority and teachers' associations, sending them, in confidence, a draft of the circular explaining how the machinery would work after transfer and inviting their comments. Arrangements were made by a senior official of the Department of Education and Science to hold two meetings on 20th October at which the arrangements could be explained in more detail, and the associations would have an opportunity to comment. It is quite usual—although the right hon. Gentleman says a Minister should have been present—for the associations to be received by officials on these occasions.

Both the local authority associations and the teachers' associations accepted these invitations. The local authority associations took the opportunity to make comments which have been taken into account. Unfortunately, the teachers associations withdrew from the meeting without making any comment on the ground that the basic policy of the transfer was not open to discussion.

Since then, as the right hon. Gentleman knows and as I mentioned, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I together received a group of hon. Members from Wales—I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman was not able to join us on that occasion. Subsequently, my right hon. Friend had a long talk with a group of Welsh members of the National Union of Teachers, which I know my right hon. Friend found of very real value: I hope the members of the deputation found the same. And I have myself had a talk with the Chairman of the Welsh Joint Education Committee, which I, too, found helpful.

The right hon. Gentleman said that I refused to see the National Union of Teachers. I could not see the National Union of Teachers in order to be consulted on the principle of the transfer, but I said to the National Union of Teachers that I would arrange for them to see Mr. Leslie Jones, the Secretary of the Welsh Office, so that they could put any representations before him they wished, and they refused to do that.

I want to emphasise that I have been and will continue to be anxious to have consultations on all educational issues affecting schools in Wales with the bodies concerned—with the Welsh Joint Education Committee and other local authority associations, and with the teachers. I am arranging, subject to this Prayer being defeated, to meet the Welsh Joint Education Committee and also the chairman and directors of the Welsh local education authorities as soon as that can be arranged.

With this transfer, I am confident that we can open up a new and stimulating chapter in the relationship between the people of Wales and primary and secondary education. It is a task in which the Welsh Office, and I myself, personally, will be unremitting in trying to do a good job. I shall make it my business and the business of my officials to make and maintain the closest contacts with the

education authorities in Wales and with the teachers.

I believe that, in a sense, we shall be getting the best of both worlds—a continued close relationship with the main vehicle of national higher education and a close knowledge and local responsibility for primary and secondary education. I am happy to think that one of my first and rewarding jobs will be to allocate the extra resources for primary school building which the Government have announced as part of our public expenditure programme. The extent of the Welsh allocation will be announced shortly. By means of these arrangements, I believe that Wales will not merely sustain but enhance its character as a country where the best in national life and the best in education run together.

Apart from the criticism which has been expressed of late, in the last few weeks, I have heard no other criticism in Wales about the transfer of primary and secondary school education. This was announced in the election and in the Queen's Speech. Any educationist would know it referred to primary and secondary education. It is only at this late hour that certain right hon. and hon. Members see fit—

Mr. George Thomas


Mr. Peter Thomas

—to attack these arrangements—

Mr. George Thomas

You know it is not.

Mr. Peter Thomas

—with the vehemence which he showed at the beginning of the debate. I commend the Order—the people of Wales are anxious that the transfer should take place—and I ask the House to reject the Prayer.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 142, Noes 180.

Division No. 16.] AYES [11.16 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Buchan, Norman Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)
Allen, Scholefield Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, West) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Carmichael, Neil Davis, S. Clinton (Hackney, Central)
Armstrong, Ernest Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey
Ashton, Joe Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund
Atkinson, Norman Clark, David (Colne Valley) Dempsey, James
Barnes, Michael Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Doig, Peter
Barnett, Joel Concannon, J. D. Dormand, J. D.
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Conlan, Bernard Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)
Bidwell, Sydney Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, Central) Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Bishop, E. S. Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Dunn, James A.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.) Dunnett, Jack
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Davidson, Arthur Faulds, Andrew
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, East) Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Forrester, John McBride, Neil Roper, John
Freeson, Reginald McCann, John Rose, Paul B.
Galpern, Sir Myer McCartney, Hugh Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Gilbert, Dr. John McGuire, Michael Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Golding, John Mackenzie, Gregor Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Grant, George (Morpeth) McNamara, J. Kevin Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Grant, John D. (Islington, East) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Sillars, James
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Silverman, Julius
Hardy, Peter Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Skinner, Dennis
Harper, Joseph Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Smith, John (Lanarkshire, North)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Meacher, Michael Spriggs, Leslie
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Stallard, A. W.
Healey Rt. Hn. Denis Mendelson, John Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Heffer Eric S. Millan, Bruce Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Milne, Edward (Blyth) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Murray, Hn. Ronald King Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Hunter, Adam Ogden, Eric Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) O'Halloran, Michael Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) O'Malley, Brian Tinn, James
John, Brynmor Oswald, Thomas Torney, Tom
Jones, Barry (Flint, East) Palmer, Arthur Varley, Eric G.
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Wainwright, Edwin
Kaufman, Gerald Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Kelley, Richard Pendry, Tom Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Kerr, Russell Pentland, Norman Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Latham, Arthur Perry, Ernest G. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Lawson, George Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Leadbitter, Ted Prescott, John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Leonard, Dick Probert, Arthur Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Mr. Jasper More.
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Adley, Robert Fortescue, Tim Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Foster, Sir John Le Marchant, Spenser
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Fowler, Norman Loveridge, John
Astor, John Galbraith, Hn. T. G. MacArthur, Ian
Atkins, Humphrey Gardner, Edward McCrindle, R. A.
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Gibson-Watt, David McLaren, Martin
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Goodhew, Victor McNair-Wilson, Michael
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Grant, Anthony, (Harrow, C.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)
Benyon, W. Gray, Hamish Madel, David
Biffen, John Green, Alan Maude, Angus
Biggs-Davison, John Grieve, Percy Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Grylls, Michael Meyer, Sir Anthony
Boscawen, R. T. Gummer, Selwyn Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Bowden, Andrew Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Bray, Ronald Hannam, John (Exeter) Miscampbell, Norman
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hastings, Stephen Moate, Roger
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Havers, Michael Molyneaux, James
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hawkins, Paul Money, Ernle D.
Chapman, Sydney Hayhoe, Barney Monks, Mrs. Connie
Churchill, W. S. Hicks, Robert Monro, Hector
Clark, William (Surrey, East) Hiley, Joseph Montgomery, Fergus
Clegg, Walter Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Cockeram, Eric Holt, Miss Mary Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Cooke, Robert Hordern, Peter Mudd, David
Coombs, Derek Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Murton, Oscar
Cormack, Patrick Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Costain, A. P. Howell, David (Guildford) Normanton, Tom
Critchley, Julian Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North) Onslow, Cranley
Curran, Charles Hunt, John Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hutchison, Michael Clark Owen, Idris (Stockport, North)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page Graham (Crosby)
Dean, Paul James, David Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Jessel, Toby Percival, Ian
Dixon, Piers Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Jopling, Michael Pink, R. Bonner
Dykes, Hugh Kellett, Mrs. Elaine Pounder, Rafton
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kershaw, Anthony Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) King, Evelyn (Dorset, South) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Fell, Anthony King, Tom (Bridgwater) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Kitson, Timothy Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Fidler, Michael Knight, Mrs. Jill Raison, Timothy
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Knox, David Redmond, Robert
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lane, David Reed, Laurance (Bolton, East)
Fookes, Miss Janet Langford-Holt, Sir John Rees, Hn. Peter (Dover)
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Ward, Dame Irene
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Stokes, John Weatherill, Bernard
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Sutcliffe, John Wilkinson, John
Russell, Sir Ronald Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
St. John-Stevas, Norman Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Sharples, Richard Tebbit, Norman Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Woodnutt, Mark
Shelton, William (Clapham) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Worsley, Marcus
Sinclair, Sir George Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Soref, Harold Tilney, John Younger, Hon. George
Speed, Keith Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Spence, John Trew, Peter TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Stainton, Keith Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Mr. William Hamling and
Stanbrook, Ivor Waddington, David Mr. Kenneth Marks.
Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper) Walder, David (Clitheroe)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Transfer of Functions (Overseas Aid) Order 1970 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 27th October.—[Mr. Richard Wood.]

11.25 p.m.

Mrs. Judith Hart (Lanark)

The Opposition oppose this Order and it will be with some degree of dismay and indignation, disappointment and anger that we shall go into the Lobby and vote against it. When one looks at this aspect of the White Paper and amidst the tremendous transfer of functions that is taking place, one is bound to look for the profound and powerful reasons which have led the Government to propose the complete abandonment of the Ministry of Overseas Development as we set it up and as we knew it, and its merger with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

There is only one sentence in the section in the White Paper on overseas aid to give us any kind of inkling or understanding of why the Government reached this conclusion. It says: The Government have reviewed with particular care the future organisation of government in the aid field against the background of considerable public interest at home and abroad and of the need to engage the private sector of industry, commerce and finance to a greater extent than hitherto. We are aware, from the aid policies of the Conservative Party, as presented in its election manifesto and as stated by the Prime Minister in New York, and, indeed, in a number of the new emphases which have been given since the Government took office, that we are likely to see an increased emphasis on private investment and its role in the developing world, as distinct from the contribution that official aid programmes make. Nevertheless, it is a little difficult to see why that point of view should have been expressed in the merger of the Ministry of Overseas Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which is one of the Departments of Government which is least concerned with industry, commerce and finance. So we can find no justification for the merger in that view of the Conservative Government and the introduction to the merger presented to us in the White Paper: Then we come to the key sentence: They have come to the conclusion that, in order to unify ministerial responsibility for overseas policy, overseas aid should become the ultimate responsibility of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Quite apart from the tautology, that sentence does not throw a great deal of light on the innermost thinking of the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and those others in the Government who supported this move when they were discussing what form of reorganisation of the Whitehall machinery should take.

We are bound to ask what reasons there might be. Could it simply be that there is a theoretical addiction to umbrella Ministers? Is it no less and no more than that? Some of the arguments we heard earlier from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department would lend support to the idea that there is a good deal of theory in the support for rather arbitrary mergers without any necessary justification in logic. It may be that there are simply one or two people in the Government who believe passionately in large umbrella Departments and do not care how they create them or what they sacrifice to do it. It may be that the Prime Minister was looking at the arithmetic of the number of Departmental Ministers, did not think that he had cut it down enough and decided to cut out the Ministry of Overseas Development as well.

We know that this merger is no part of the thinking of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself. So far as I can discover, no pressure came from that Department for a take-over or merger, nor was there any pressure for it within Whitehall as a whole. There was no pressure of argument that this was a logical step to take. So it is not that.

Nor can it be an argument directed towards saving civil servants, because in the staff of the Ministry of Overseas Development are the people who will administer the British aid programme to maximum effectiveness, and it would be possible to reduce the number of civil servants in the Ministry, or in the new F.C.O., only if the aid programme were to be reduced, and we are glad to see that it is not. We are very glad to see that the Government are at least able to take credit for one cut which is not to be made in the programmes of the Labour Government for an expansion in the aid programme.

So it could be only that the Government were prepared to sacrifice the effectiveness of the administration of the aid programme, and I am sure that that would not fit Conservative views about efficient management and making the use of money spent in Government as effective as possible. So it cannot be that. There cannot be any reason linked with possible saving of either money or civil servants. And so we have rejected a number of possibilities.

Among the 1,600 staff the F.C.O. now has under its umbrella from the former Ministry of Overseas Development I am happy to say that the Foreign Secretary will have the great advantage of having a considerable influx of bright, young economists, more than 30 of them. I remember—he must know this—that when I was Minister of State at the Commonwealth Office, I introduced an economics Department into the Commonwealth Office. The Foreign Secretary will now be able to make use of it. With more than 30 economists, he may be able to ask them to spare a little time to make some rough economic assessment of, for example, the benefits to Britain and the disadvantages of supplying arms to South Africa. There may be enough of them to do that, and that would be of great advantage to us.

One continues to look around for some kind of logic in this decision. It may be that the Government have been looking at the United States and decided that it would be a good idea to follow suit, to copy something the Americans have done, and put aid in the same department as foreign policy. If the Government are merging a Department concerned essentially with foreign policy with a Department concerned with development in the third world and the administration of aid programmes because of the example of the United States, I must say that we shall be in great danger of arriving at exactly the aid weariness which now exists in the United States. If the Foreign Secretary is not aware of this, let me tell him exactly what the position there is. This is based on my own discussions with people who are concerned with aid in the United States.

The reason why there is no enthusiasm for aid and development in the United States and the reason why the American aid programme is abysmally low and the reason why, even if every other major donor country came up to scratch on the 1 per cent. target, the total flow of resources from the rich world to the poor world would still be lower than it was because of the low level of American aid, is that in the United States foreign policy has been intertwined with aid policy. Disillusion with the war in Vietnam has led to disillusion with aid because, as the right hon. Gentleman must know, the Appropriations Bill in the United States mixes the two and if one votes for aid, one is also voting for the direct foreign policy implications, which may or may not be popular with people who are asked to vote for a greater transfer of resources in aid. If this is the position towards which we are to move, it will be a dangerous path along which the Government will tread.

Can it be that the Government have studied other donor countries? I think not, because it is my impression of the attitude of other major donor countries that they have admired the way in which aid was administered in Britain with so much of our aid policy concentrated in one Department and, secondly, an idependent Ministry with an independent Minister; so it cannot be that.

Mr. St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)

Since the right hon. Lady's imaginative efforts seem to be flagging at the moment in advancing reasons against this move, might I suggest one possibility to her, namely, that by amalgamating the Ministry of Overseas Development with the Foreign Office the Minister for Overseas Aid, for the first time, will have direct access to the Cabinet and that will be extremely helpful for the aid programme.

Mrs. Hart

I am most grateful to the hon. Member for his sympathetic attitude towards my efforts to find some logic somewhere in this proposal. If that is what he has in mind, he is as wrong as he can be. The independent Minister of Overseas Development had full access to the Cabinet, was called into the Cabinet when he or she was not a full member of it when all discussions on public expenditure were going on, not only for those affecting the Ministry. The Minister was also a full member of the committee which examined questions of overseas policy.

The loss here is precisely the loss of an independent Minister who can talk to colleagues on an equal basis. I am certain that in practice for the next period there will be a way of dealing with these things as between the Foreign Secretary and his Minister. It might even be that the Minister will be asked to attend Cabinet meetings discussing matters in his area. But having had experience as a Minister of State working with a Commonwealth Secretary on issues for which I had some separate responsibility I can say that it is not the same thing.

If a person has to argue his case through the head of a department, if he is not totally free to fight his case when he wants to, inhibited because the head is perhaps a little inhibited, then the strength of the department is infinitely diminished. This is not a logical reason. It could be a reason that has been advanced but it has been advanced because of inexperience on the part of the Government of some of the way in which the Whitehall machine works. Because we can find no logic in the argument we on this side of the House are bound to take the view that this change is inexplicable, that it is arbitrary, that it is shocking, and that there is a shame in so reducing the independence and strength of a Ministry which was one of those of which, in the whole of Whitehall, we could be proud.

I will take the relationship between the machinery of government and the people in it. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister have both evidenced—through the announcement of the Chancellor about upholding the planned increase in the aid programme—that they are not unsympathetic towards that programme. But the machinery of government should never derive from personalities and the interaction of personalities. The machinery of government must be such that it can withstand whatever personalities come into it. I fear that this machinery would not withstand a different relationship between others occupying particular places. I come to the most important reason why this is a totally foolish and bad decision. Not only will this be seen in the developing world as introducing foreign policy considerations into aid, but it is inevitable that this will become more so.

One chunk of the aid programme goes to our dependent territories. This is quite right, and I hope that between them the Foreign Secretary and the Minister will maintain the increase we had planned for these dependent territories which have nowhere to look but to us for an increase in their standard of living. Much the greatest part of our aid programme goes to countries in the Commonwealth. In the light of the current situation within the Commonwealth, and what I hope and pray will not become the new situation, I ask the House to consider what is likely to be the official attitude to, say, an increase in aid to Tanzania, which in developmental terms justified a considerable amount of aid, and aid to Malawi which in developmental terms has had a great deal of budgetary support and to whom we were looking to find its own feet over the years.

Any Foreign Secretary is bound to have in his mind in such a clear-cut case foreign policy attitudes as well as development criteria. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It may be that in the response of the backbenchers behind the Foreign Secretary we see a real motivation, but there is no shame in the Government and their backbenchers propounding that foreign policy strings should be attached to aid.

In one limited respect, I will give them this degree of support and understanding. Concerned as we are that our aid programme should not merely promote the right kind of development and should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer, but should raise the standard of living of the poorest in the third world, there can be occasions when political judgment needs to be exercised in relation not only to growth criteria but to the policy the country is exercising, so as to spread the benefits of growth evenly. That is a political judgment which I was and always will be totally unashamed to make. But that is very different from the foreign policy attitudes that ignore developmental criteria, and this I fear is what will be the inexorable long-term result of this Measure.

The Labour Government in 1964 set up the Ministry of Overseas Development. It was an independent centre of power within the total governmental machinery. It was an expression of philosophy and a recognition of commitment to development. That is why we set it up and why we feel that the powerful arguments which led us to set it up will always hold good for us in the future. That is why, in considerable anger, we shall go into the Lobby tonight.

11.43 p.m.

Sir Geoffrey de Freitas (Kettering)

I had not intended to speak, but I was horrified to hear the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) advancing the argument that because a Ministry is destroyed and put into the Foreign Office it will somehow have a greater influence on affairs. Discussions about aid occur in the committees of the Cabinet and have nothing to do with the reputation or the standing of the head of the Department. It is important that this should be realised.

I had the great honour, at the invitation of the present Foreign Secretary, to take part in an enormous project of aid to a developing country, I was very proud to do it. I know of no former High Commissioner or Ambassador, most of whom had their first loyalty to the Foreign Office or Commonwealth Office, who supports the abolition of this Ministry and its incorporation in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and I certainly do not. I much regret the destruction of this important Ministry.

11.45 p.m.

Mr. David Steel ((Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

We on these benches will support the Opposition in dividing against this Order tonight. We are distressed that there has been such a long history of devaluation of this Ministry. I remind the House that in 1964 the former Prime Minister made it one of his proudest boasts that the Government had set up a Ministry of Overseas Development with a Minister in the Cabinet. A few reshuffles later it ceased to be a Ministry with a Minister in the Cabinet. The next step was that it ceased to be a Ministry with a Minister and a Parliamentary Secretary and became a Ministry with one Minister. Now, the third in the series of devaluation, the Ministry ceases to be a Ministry at all.

What is important is not whether the right hon. Lady's charges are true or not, though Conservative back benchers appear to think it would be a good thing if overseas aid were entirely determined by foreign policy critera, but what the rest of the world sees in this move. The fact is that a one-time powerful Ministry standing on its own, with a distinguished record, now in the eyes of the world will be seen as one department in the Foreign Office. It is a sorry step, and we shall vote against it.

11.47 p.m.

Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)

I had not intended to speak in this debate, but I have been moved from my original intention by some of the remarks of the right hon. Lady and the speech of the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas).

The right hon. Lady the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) said that the setting up of this Ministry was an expression of Labour Party philosophy. That may be so, but it is a part of a Conservative philosophy that what is more important than a means is an end. Surely what is important in the overseas aid programme is the amount of money that is spent on aid, the determination of government to reach the relevant targets laid down by the Pearson Report, and various reforms which I think she will agree are needed in the administration of the aid programme, not only in Britain but in other countries as well.

The right hon. Lady prefaced her remarks about the Ministry with certain remarks about aid from private sources as opposed to official sources. It is certainly part of Conservative aid policy for private individuals to shoulder a share of this burden, which is preferable to leaving it all to the Government. I remind her of her own accord in this respect when she made an announcement in the last Parliament about the aims of her Ministry and the attitude of the Ministry to the Pearson Report targets. Was she not relying on private aid to reach those targets?

Mrs. Hart

I am afraid I cannot let that pass. If the hon. Gentleman will read the statement carefully, he will see the reason that I felt it was difficult at that point in advance of the plan to give a precise year on which 1 per cent. would be reached was because of the unpredictability of the private investment sector.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have actually read the right hon. Lady's statement three times, the third time only the day before yesterday. It is therefore fresh in my mind. What struck me was how extraordinarily vague it was about reaching the targets. She was criticised from both sides of the House because, if the figures which she gave for official aid were extrapolated into the future, there was no chance of the late Government reaching their target in 1980, let alone 1975. The only hope of the Government fulfilling Labour philosophy would be to rely on private enterprise to come to their aid.

Mrs. Hart

It is rather important that these statements about targets should not go unchallenged. In June, the Labour Government accepted not only the 1 per cent. target for 1975, but also a 0.7 per cent. target for official aid.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

My only reason for intervening briefly is to make it plain to hon. Members and to those outside the House who follow our debates that many in the Conservative Party and in this House are intensely concerned about the future of the aid programme, want to see Britain reach the targets of the Pearson Report, and would certainly not support this measure of Government reorganisation if they thought that it would be adverse to those objectives.

11.51 p.m.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)

The speech of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) indicates that we have fallen victim to the game of targetry in overseas aid. For someone of the hon. Gentleman's standpoint on these matters to think that this is a question of whether the Government's proposals will affect the total aid and that that is the only point of importance is to misunderstand the work that the Ministry of Overseas Development has been doing over the last five years.

In addition to working on the overall budget, it tried to be more discriminating in the use of the money. The allocations and the criteria which determine them are almost as important as the total overall budget. After all, we found that because of erratic movements of private investments in the last year we virtually reached the 1 per cent. total because there was some disinvestment by oil companies in certain parts of the world. But this had nothing to do with real development criteria, and that is the kind of worry which is at the root of the aid lobby's concern about this apparently innocent change of structure.

The structure of government does not matter very much. It is its effect on the policy and the administration of that policy. What worries us is what is to happen now to the policy on overseas aid and its administration. To take a simple case, if foreign policy considerations are not to dominate the allocations of aid, how are they to be decided in disputes between the overseas aid and the foreign policy sections of the Department? How are these issues to get to the level of Cabinet decision in order to determine whether they shall take place? Surely they will be decided at a very low level by meetings between officials and, on the whole, because the Foreign Secretary will be concerned with foreign policy decisions, it is likely that the foreign policy section will prevail.

Take, for example, the size of the budget. In the discussions on public expenditure cuts, it is no secret that in 1968 there was a terrific battle between the Ministry of Overseas Development and the Treasury. The battle took place interdepartmentally at the level of both officials and Ministers. Who is to represent the overseas aid section of the Foreign Office in this kind of interdepartmental battle with the Treasury? Will there be a structure whereby the overseas aid section will be represented permanently on these committees? This is at the crux of the whole matter. If this structure is developed, it may be that this reactionary move will not be as serious as has been predicted. We can only see from the results which will flow from the decisions that are made. If the Minister can assure us that this kind of structure will be built into the Ministry and, possibly more important, into the relationships between the one Ministry and the other, we can take some recompense, at any rate, for the debate that we have had tonight.

11.55 p.m.

The Minister of Overseas Development (Mr. Richard Wood)

The right hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) has spoken with passion about a subject which has been argued with even greater moderation by the right hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and other hon. Members opposite earlier today and this evening. They have expressed concern about the bringing of the Ministry of Overseas Development under the general control of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. A number of reasons have been adduced for this concern.

Earlier today, and in this short debate this evening, it has been said that the Ministry of Overseas Development has been a very successful organisation so why break it up. I am gratified, as I am sure my advisers are, by the numerous compliments which have been paid not only in the House this evening but also in the Press and in public discussion in the last few weeks on the administration of the Ministry of Overseas Development over the last five years. But to talk, as did the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas), about the destruction of the Ministry is to fly in the face of the White Paper and to disregard entirely the terms in which it is written. This Ministry is not being destroyed. It is being preserved, as is made clear in paragraph 34 of the White Paper, as a separate part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It was suggested that the merging of my Ministry with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is, in some sense, a downgrading of the aid function. Against this we have to weigh the important statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the General Assembly in New York and the commitment to the 1 per cent. target in 1975. We have to weigh the fact that, in the light of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer's cuts and the increase in public expenditure of 2.7 per cent. in the next four years, the aid programme will increase by 6 per cent. We have also to weigh the general fact that the aid programme, as we promised both in our manifesto and in the Queen's Speech, will be an expanding programme. This, to me, is an adequate answer to the suggestion that the aid function is being downgraded by this change proposed in the White Paper.

It has been suggested that the voice of overseas development will be muted. Here, I should like to put to the House what seems to me an interesting equation. Whatever opinion of his office a Minister in my position may hold, we must admit that the equation, on the one side, is a comparatively weak voice in favour of overseas aid, a voice which is presumably committed to developing the underdeveloped countries. On the other side of the equation is the obviously more powerful voice of the Secretary of State as long as he is committed to the development of the developing countries. As I see it, the job of myself and my successors is to convince my right hon. Friend and his successors, if they need convincing, of the importance of this question. In support of this I can use the right hon. Lady's words, when she said recently: He"— meaning the Foreign Secretary— always was and always is an ally on this, and therefore there is no gain". I do not think that the right hon. Lady can have it both ways. I do not think that she can argue that we are being downgraded and that we are losing when we have a much more powerful voice arguing the aid question. To my mind this is the real gain, that we now have one of the most senior Members in the Cabinet speaking directly on aid, and if the Minister for Overseas Development of the future cannot convince his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, then I do not think that he will be able to convince the Cabinet.

Mr. Reg Prentice (East Ham, North)

Under the present arrangements, if he cannot convince the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs he can go to the Cabinet and argue the case himself. Under the new arrangements he will not be able to get past the Secretary of State's desk.

Mr. Wood

That is true, but the point I was making was that if the Minister for Overseas Development cannot convince his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary he is not likely to convince the Cabinet. That is the reality of the situation.

Hon. Members


Mr. Wood

I am sorry, but that is my belief. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may not agree with it, but that is what I feel.

It has been suggested that under the proposed arrangements aid may become too political. I think that the right hon. Member for East Ham, North and the right hon. Lady are forgetting some of the past, are forgetting the realities of this, although the right hon. Gentleman admitted this afternoon that aid was continually discussed with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham), in what I thought was a most interesting speech, said that the Ministry of Overseas Development had never been fully independent of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I would only add that it has not been, it is not, and it will not be, and I do not believe that it ever should be, because there is bound to be a very close connection between our foreign policy and our development policy.

The hon. Gentleman asked—and I think that the hon. Member for York (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon) echoed this—whether the overseas development administration of the future would continue to be represented on inter-departmental committees. I am glad to be able to say that the answer is "Yes, it will be represented on these inter-departmental committees".

This is only my guess, and I give it for what it is worth. I believe—and I say this in view of all that has been said about the political considerations that might be attached to this in future—that aid in the future will continue to be based on the criteria on which it has been based in the past; namely, on the criteria of the need for development in the developing countries. That is my guess, and only time will show whether it is justified by the facts.

It is also suggested that this merging of my Department with the Foreign Office will cause suspicion abroad. It may, or it may not. I shall be quite frank with the House. I have had fears expressed to me by representatives from developing countries about this, but it seems to me that the real issue, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said, is whether our performance under this Government with the Ministry of Overseas Development merged with the Foreign Office is going to be better than the performance of the Labour Government with a completely separate Ministry of Overseas Development. I have no hesitation in saying that the answer is "Yes".

The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon—and the right hon. Lady also did—that there would also be suspicion at home, among what he described as the aid lobby. He suggested that a de facto alliance existed between him in his time—and no doubt the right hon. Lady in her time—and the aid lobby. He said that he appreciated the criticism and pressure from the aid lobby to push him on. All I can say is that the future organisation in this respect will increase the alliance between the aid lobby and the overseas aid administration, because it will realise that the Minister for Overseas Development needs pushing very hard if he is going to succeed in convincing his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Although there may be suspicion I do not believe that it will make the relationship any less close than at present.

Except that it has brought a great many more hon. Members to listen to my speech than I usually am able to enjoy I greatly regret the fact that we shall have a Division on this matter. As I see it, by allying themselves with the pessimists who think that this will have a bad effect the Opposition are lending their weight to the idea that aid is to be downgraded. I find myself among the optimists. I see, first, that we have an extending programme of aid. I recognise the important commitment of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister; I see that the valuable organisation of the Ministry of Overseas Development is to be preserved as

a separate entity and also that aid and the importance of development in the developing countries will have a more powerful voice in its favour than ever before.

Therefore, I hope that the House will approve the Order.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 165, Noes 128.

Division No. 17.] AYES [12.7 a.m
Adley, Robert Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Havers, Michael Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Hawkins, Paul Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Astor, John Hayhoe, Barney Page, Graham (Crosby)
Atkins, Humphrey Hicks, Robert Percival, Ian
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Hiley, Joseph Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Pink, R. Bonner
Benyon, W. Holt, Miss Mary Pounder, Rafton
Biffen, John Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Howell, David (Guildford) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Boscawen, R. T. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Bowden, Andrew Hunt, John Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Bray, Ronald Hutchison, Michael Clark Raison, Timothy
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Redmond, Robert
Bruce-Gardyne, J. James, David Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Jessel, Toby Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Chapman, Sydney Jopling, Michael Russell, Sir Ronald
Clegg, Walter Kellett, Mrs. Elaine St. John-Stevas, Norman
Cockeram, Eric Kershaw, Anthony Sharples, Richard
Cooke, Robert King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Coombs, Derek King, Tom (Bridgwater) Shelton, William (Clapham)
Cooper, A. E. Kitson, Timothy Sinclair, Sir George
Cormack, Patrick Knight, Mrs. Jill Soref, Harold
Costain, A. P. Knox, David Speed, Keith
Critchley, Julian Lane, David Spence, John
Curran, Charles Langford-Holt, Sir John Stainton, Keith
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Stanbrook, Ivor
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack Le Marchant, Spencer Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)
Dean, Paul Loveridge, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Dixon, Piers MacArthur, Ian Stokes, John
Dodds-Parker, Douglas McCrindle, R. A. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Dykes, Hugh McLaren, Martin Sutcliffe, John
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) McNair-Wilson, Michael Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
Fell, Anthony McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Tebbit, Norman
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Madel, David Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Fidler, Michael Maude, Angus Tilney, John
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Fookes, Miss Janet Meyer, Sir Anthony Trew, Peter
Fortescue, Tim Mills, Peter (Torrington) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Foster, Sir John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Waddington, David
Fowler, Norman Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Moate, Roger. Ward, Dame Irene
Gardner, Edward Molyneaux, James Weatherill, Bernard
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Money, Ernle D. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Goodhew, Victor Monks, Mrs. Connie Wilkinson, John
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Monro, Hector Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Gray, Hamish Montgomery, Fergus Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Green, Alan Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Woodnutt, Mark
Grieve, Percy Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Worsley, Marcus
Grylls, Michael Mudd, David Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Gummer, Selwyn Murton, Oscar Younger, Hn. George
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Hannam, John (Exeter) Nicholls, Sir Harmar TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Normanton, Tom Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Mr. Jasper More.
Allen, scholefield Benn, Rt. Hn, Anthony Wedgwood Campbell, Ian (Dunbartonshire, West)
Armstrong, Ernest Bidwell, Sydney Carmichael, Neil
Ashton, Joe Bishop, E. S. Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)
Atkinson, Norman Blenkinsop, Arthur Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara
Barnes, Michael Buchan, Norman Clark, David (Colne Valley)
Cocks, Michael Hunter, Adam Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Concannon, J. D. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Prescott, John
Conlan, Bernard John, Brynmor Probert, Arthur
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, Central) Jones, Barry (Flint, East) Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.) Kaufman, Gerald Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Kerr, Russell Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davidson, Arthur Latham, Arthur Roper, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, Central) Lawson, George Rose, Paul B.
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Leadbitter, Ted Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Leonard, Dick Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dempsey, James Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sillars, James
Dormand, J. D. Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Silverman, Julius
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, East) Skinner, Dennis
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McCann, John Smith, John (Lanarkshire, North)
Dunn, James A. McCartney, Hugh Spriggs, Leslie
Dunnett, Jack McGuire, Michael Stallard, A. W.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mackenzie, Gregor Steel, David
Faulds, Andrew McNamara, J. Kevin Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Stonehouse, Rt. Hn, John
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Strang, Gavin
Forrester, John Meacher, Michael Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardift, W.)
Freeson, Reginald Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Gilbert, Dr. John Mendelson, John Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Golding, John Millan, Bruce Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Grant, George (Morpeth) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Tinn, James
Grant, John D. (Islington, East) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Torney, Tom
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Murray, Hn. Ronald King Varley, Eric G.
Hardy, Peter O'Halloran, Michael Wainwright, Edwin
Harper, Joseph O'Malley, Brian Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Oswald, Thomas Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Palmer, Arthur Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Heffer, Eric S. Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pendry, Tom TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Pentland, Norman Mr. William Hamling and
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Mr. Kenneth Marks.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Transfer of Function (Overseas Aid) Order 1970 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 27th October.

To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Secretary of State for the Environment Order 1970 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 27th October.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

I understand the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) would like to raise a point on the Motion. His Amendment is out of order.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I understand that my Amendment is out of order and I shall not detain the House more than a few minutes—at least, I do not think I shall—in order to explain why I put the Amendment down and why I seek to detain the House.

During the previous debate on the White Paper, various Ministers of the Crown were at pains to assure me that what I was seeking to do here was unnecessary. They suggested that the White Paper made the Department for the Environment responsible for aircraft noise. My Amendment suggested that it does not, because it seeks to amend the draft Order before us to provide that the Secretary of State for the Environment shall be responsible for air, water and noise pollution, including pollution by aircraft noise". If what the Minister says is correct, and the Secretary of State for the Environment is already responsible, then this Amendment is, of course, unnecessary, but I think it is necessary because I must rely on what the Prime Minister said on the subject last Thursday. I took the precaution of putting down a Question to the Prime Minister on Thursday, to ask him whether he would transfer responsibility for the control, limitation and reduction of noise pollution by aircraft to the Secretary of State for the Environment". The answer I received was, No".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October; 1970; Vol. 805, c. 199.] I must take the Prime Minister as the responsible authority, and when he says "No", I take it that the Secretary of State is not responsible and that the assurances that he is responsible are not correct. I take it that the Order clearly excludes from the Department for the Environment responsibility for noise. The Prime Minister says it excludes that.

Is there any hon. Member opposite, any Conservative Member who will join me in dividing the House on whether this Order goes through? If any Conservative Member will do that, I will divide the House with him. If an hon. Member opposite will interrupt me in order to offer to join me in dividing the House on this issue, I will at once give way to him. Is there any hon. Member opposite who has a constituency interest in aircraft noise, who knows, as I do, that something is being done here to the disadvantage of constituents, ready to do that? Apparently not one Conservative Member is ready to join me.

I will divide the House on another occasion, but not tonight. I understand that it is possible for me to pray against the Order, so in order to terminate this present proceeding I give notice that I will at a future date seek to pray against the Order, and I will invite any Conservative Member who knows, as I do, that the responsibilities for the control of aircraft noise should be transferred to the Department for the Environment, to join me at that time.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Secretary of State for the Environment Order 1970 be made in the form of the draft laid before this House on 27th October.

To be presented by Privy Councillors or Members of Her Majesty's Household.