§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Bill will restore to education authorities in Scotland the power to charge fees, if they wish to do so, in a limited number of their schools. The charging of fees in local authority schools in Scotland was abolished from 1st August, 1970, under the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1969. We on this side of the House opposed at every stage the relevant part of the Bill which became the 1969 Act. On its Third Reading I said:… I therefore state categorically that the next Conservative Government will introduce that amending legislation in order to restore the right to local authorities to charge fees if they wish to do so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th June, 1970; Vol. 784, c. 1388–9]We repeated that commitment in our election manifesto last June. I am glad to be able to honour that pledge so soon in the life of this Parliament.
This Bill, in addition to restoring the power to charge fees, will be helping to restore the former real relationship between the Secretary of State and education authorities which was altered by the previous Government and, in our view, altered for the worse. Over a long period of years, the organisation of school education had been recognised to be primarily the responsibility of education authorities. The Secretary of State had certain responsibilities in relation to approving, for example, schemes of educational provision or the closure of schools, but the initiative lay, rightly and clearly, with education authorities. Then, in 1965, the previous Government sent out Circular No. 600. That circular stated that it was the policy of that Government to further the reorganisation of secondary education in Scotland on comprehensive lines.
Education authorities remained responsible for the provision of school edu- 410 cation,but it was the Government which then claimed the right to decide the method by which they should provide it. Circular No. 600 clearly implied a change in the previous relationship between the Government and education authorities. Subsequent events showed how great the change was intended to be.
Neither Glasgow nor Edinburgh education authority wanted to include fee-paying schools in schemes of comprehensive reorganisation. The previous Government then decided to take away the power which authorities had had for 50 years to charge fees in a limited number of their schools. This was done by the 1969 Act. Further action was planned when Edinburgh and Glasgow declined to abolish selection in the secondary schools concerned. On 13th May this year, the then Secretary of State announced in a Written Answer that he proposed to introduce legislation to give him powers to require an education authority to submit plans for the re-organisation of all their schools on a non-selective basis. Other events intervened, however, and it is fortunately a rather different Bill that we are discussing today.
As a first step in the restoration of the old and happier relationship between the Government and education authorities, we withdrew Circular No. 600. Our new Circular No. 760 of 2nd July told authorities that the Government did not seek to impose any particular form of organisation on them. In any new proposals they may submit to me, authorities will no longer be bound to adopt one particular form of organisation.
This Bill will now make it possible for each authority to decide whether or not to charge fees in a limited number of schools. There will be no insistence by this Government on the superiority of any one system but, instead, local discretion to maintain the best of what already exists, always on the understanding that every child has a chance to develop his full potential. If an education authority wish to maintain some fee-paying schools, then we will respect a decision taken by responsible local councillors who know the local circumstances and the views of parents and teachers. But there will be no question of favouring a few children at the expense of the majority. Fee-paying schools will 411 be able to exist only where there is adequate provision of free school education. The right of every child to a good education without payment of fees is not affected by the Bill.
The Bill has only three Clauses. Some hon. Members may wonder why it was not possible for us simply to reinstate the wording in the proviso to Section 1(3) of the 1962 Act as originally enacted, which formerly provided the legal authority for charging fees in education authority schools.
The reason is that the starting off point must be the 1962 Act, as amended by the 1969 Act. Section 1(1) of the 1969 Act substituted new Sections for Sections 1 to 3 of the 1962 Act. We have no wish to replace the new Sections 1, 2 or 3A. We do want, however, to repeal the new Section 3 and provide a very different one, and that is what Clause 1 does.
Subsection (1) of this Section 3 repeals the first part of the Section 3 inserted by the 1969 Act in making the general statement that education should be provided by an authority without payment of fees but—and this is the important point—it qualifies this and makes it subject to a number of provisions. These are set out in subsections (2) to (5). Subsection (2) empowers an authority to charge fees for school education in a limited number of schools.
Subsection (3) provides for remission of fees in whole or in part on grounds of ability and aptitude. Subsection (4) lays down the condition which has to be satisfied before fees can be charged; namely, that free school education must be adequate whether it is provided in an authority's own schools or whether by agreement with the managers or with another education authority it is provided in other schools. Subsection (5) provides for the charging of a higher fee to the parent of a pupil from outside an authority's area attending a fee-paying school and also for the charging of a fee to the parent of a pupil from outside an authority's area attending a non fee-paying school. Subsection (6) repeats the latter part of the Section 3 provided by the 1969 Act. This subsection enables an authority to charge fees for the use of facilities for voluntary further education or for social, cultural and recreative activities.
412 Clause 2 of the Bill amends Section 11(1) of the 1962 Act as amended by the 1969 Act. The new amendment makes it the authority's duty to provide free books only when pupils are receiving free education. It will be left to individual authorities to decide whether or not to give free books to pupils at fee-paying schools. Clause 3 is in standard form and requires no explanation.
The Bill is simple, self-contained and clear. Our reasons are also clear. Edinburgh and Glasgow have for many years, in some cases for centuries, been rightly proud of their fine primary and secondary fee-paying schools. Each of the secondary schools has an outstanding record of academic success, no matter how this is measured. This is not disputed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who may claim that the success is explained by the selective nature of the intake, though on other occasions they say that selection is wrong and unreliable.
Because every child cannot go to these schools, the Opposition wish no one to do so. It is simply not true that the great majority of children in the areas in question are excluded by financial considerations; very few can be so prevented with fees ranging from under £10 to £40 per annum. The fees in most cases amount to no more than the equivalent of a few packets of cigarettes per week and for those who cannot afford even this, there are a number of free places available.
The Opposition would deny the availability of these schools to the parents who want to send their children to them. The extent to which the schools are selective, and some are highly selective, is a measure of the extent to which the demand for places outruns the supply. Some parents attach a value to an intensive academic education in a historic school. They may be a minority but they are a substantial minority who should not be ignored. Some of these parents are willing to make a financial sacrifice so that their children may have this type of education. Indeed, although this is not the main reason for the Bill its financial consequences are not unimportant. By paying fees, the parents reduce the burden to the taxpayer and the ratepayer. The 1969 Act resulted in an increase in the burden of local rates. This Bill will alleviate this burden.
413 Claims by the Opposition of subsidised educational privilege by the community as a whole just do not make sense. Every child, whether of poor parents or of rich, of whatever social status, may apply for a place. All children have the chance to compete for a place. If the schools cease to exist, choice is not taken away from those parents who can find the fees for independent or grant-aided schools but from those who cannot, but can manage the fees for the local authority schools.
All the competing children cannot get in, but that is no reason for preventing any from doing so and for destroying the tradition of these excellent schools.
For our part, we are content to see education authorities provide education in comprehensive schools if, in the view of the education authority concerned, that is the best arrangement in the local circumstances. What we are opposed to is interference against the wishes of the authority responsible for the arrangements in the area with what is already working well. The way to improve the school education in an area is not to destroy some of the best schools which are already there. The way to do it is by addition to, not by subtraction from, the educational resources of the area, and by devoting the additional resources to other schools.
§ Mr. John Smith (Lanarkshire, North)
How valuable a tradition is it if it depends on small fees? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the schools would not have been destroyed but simply would not have charged fees?
§ Mr. Campbell
All of those concerned with the schools in question have made it clear to my hon. Friends and me in the last two years or so that the proposals of the Labour Party, had they been implemented, would have meant the virtual destruction of these schools in the form in which they have existed.
The Opposition may say they are worried that the fee-paying schools cream off the most able children. Certainly, some of the very able children will be taken by the fee-paying schools. But some parents of such children will prefer them to go to comprehensive schools, and it certainly cannot be argued that all the ablest children will necessarily go 414 to fee-paying schools. I am not aware of any convincing evidence to prove that fee-paying and comprehensive schools cannot exist within the same area.
Let us look a little more closely at this charge of creaming off. It seems to me that the Opposition will make a great mistake if they place too much reliance on any argument about its bad effects. The creamed-off pupils would not add to the country's total of trained manpower if they went to local comprehensive schools; they would pass their examinations anyway.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well that the distribution of different kinds of housing in these two great cities is such that some of the schools are very far from being socially comprehensive. In fact, there may well be greater differences in this respect between comprehensive schools in different parts of the cities than there are between some comprehensive schools and the fee-paying schools. In any event, to regard the creamed-off pupils, as the Opposition have appeared to, as potential agents of social change who ought to improve the comprehensive schools, seems to make unrealistic demands on them as well as totally ignoring the question of parental choice.
It may be asked why, when we have restored to authorities the freedom to run a selective system of education, we also feel it necessary to restore to them the power to charge fees. One good democratic reason is, of course, that we know that Edinburgh and Glasgow wish to continue to charge fees. These two authorities contain not far short of a third of the population of Scotland. If there are in Edinburgh and Glasgow parents willing to pay fees—and I hear hon. Members murmuring "The Tories", and I shall come to that in a minute—
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
The right hon. Gentleman is talking as though the whole of Edinburgh and Glasgow agreed with him. That is completely wrong. Some, the very Tory among his Tory friends, agree, but only them.
§ Mr. Campbell
In a few minutes I shall point out that for many years Glasgow was under Labour domination and still wished to retain fee-paying schools. If there are in Edinburgh and Glasgow parents willing to pay fees—and the competition for places at fee-paying 415 schools proves that—it seems foolish to prevent them from making a contribution to the cost of the education of their children over and above their contribution through rates and taxes.
It is sometimes suggested that the parents are paying for a better education and that this is wrong. This seems a strange criticism to come from supporters of a comprehensive system and suggests a lack of confidence in the system which all authorities were asked to implement up to June of this year. I think that it is reasonable to say that parents are paying for something different. Some are paying for what was described by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) during the Committee stage of the Bill which became the 1969 Act as atraditional senior secondary education".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee. 13th February, 1969; c. 223.]This illustrates a fundamental difference between the philosophy of the Government and their predecessor. We believe that in running their own affairs people should have some freedom to choose what they consider to be the best. The Socialists seem to believe that people should get only what the Government think good for them.
As for the differences; some of these schools also provide something else which is an attraction for some parents—both a primary and a secondary department. This enables the school to cater for pupils from the age of five to the age of 18. Financially, the fee-paying and selective schools can bridge the gap between non fee-paying education authority comprehensive schools and the more expensive grant-aided and independent schools. Surely there is room for some variety in educational provision, both for the sake of further educational development and for the individual parents with their own views about the most suitable education for their child.
I shall explain the reasons why the Bill does something unique to Scotland. In England there is a much greater variety of schools than in Scotland. Not only has comprehensive reorganisation not gone so far, but in England the direct grant schools, by virtue of their provision of at least 25 per cent. free places for pupils who have been educated for two 416 years in maintained primary schools, add to the provision within the areas of education authorities. There is no similar requirement for the provision of free places for sponsored pupils by the grant-aided schools in Scotland.
Scotland has for centuries had her own educational system which has differed in many ways from that in England—the types of school, training and qualifications of teachers, the examination system, the age of transfer from one stage to another, all were distinctive from the position in England. It is not surprising, therefore, that practice in relation to fee paying in authority schools has differed over the last 50 years. Ever since 1918, no parent in Scotland has had to pay directly any school fees in order to secure an adequate education for his child, but limited fee paying was allowed.
Fees in both primary and secondary schools were still allowed in Scotland by the Education (Scotland) Act, 1945. The Second Reading of the Bill which became the 1945 Act was moved by no less distinguished a statesman than Mr. Tom Johnston. Mr. Johnston had earlier declined to allow Glasgow Corporation to abolish fee paying on the grounds that suitable alternative educational arrangements could not be made. It is noteworthy that Glasgow Corporation during all its subsequent years of Labour control did not reopen this question and in particular showed no inclination to respond to Circular 600 by the abolition of fee paying and selection.
§ Mr. Campbell
What we are doing, therefore, is to restore something which is well embodied in Scotland's educational tradition and which is still wanted by the education authorities most concerned.
The nature of school provision will rightly vary from area to area according to local circumstances. Education authorities are in day-to-day contact with the people most concerned with the provision—teachers, parents and children—and so they are best qualified to make decisions about the organisation of school education.
Because there has been some comment and speculation in the Press, I should 417 like to put an end to some misapprehensions about the procedures of the House in dealing with the Second Readings of Scottish Bills. In some newspapers, articles have appeared based upon a complete misconception about the reason for the Second Reading of this Bill taking place on the Floor of the House. Of course, as the House knows, the Second Readings of all Scottish Bills take place in the House itself, but in many cases this is formal and the debate in relation to the principle of the Bill takes place in the Scottish Grand Committee.
The Standing Orders of the House ensure that, if a Second Reading is opposed by 10 or more M.P.s, it is to be taken on the Floor of the House. In any case, if there is to be a Division on the Second Reading, a Scottish Bill must have its Second Reading debate in the House, not in the Grand Committee. This is the reason why the Education (Scotland) Act, 1969, which we are now seeking to change, was also debated on Second Reading on the Floor of the House; and it demonstrates that it has nothing to do with the relative strengths of the parties. Under both Conservative and Labour Governments, Scottish Bills which were controversial have had their Second Readings in the Chamber.
Some of the Press comment has also been misinformed about the composition of the Scottish Grand Committee, again in connection with the present Bill and its passage through Parliament. It must therefore be recalled that for more than 50 years Standing Orders have required that the Scottish Grand Committee should contain 10 to 15 additional non-Scottish Members, in addition to the 71 Scottish Members. For a great many years, the Grand Committee has never met without at least 10 Welsh, Irish or English Members in its composition. The rules require not less than 10 and no more than 15 of such additional Members. Moreover, it is not a new situation for the Government of the day not to have an overall majority in the Scottish Grand Committee. This has happened before.
Our Bill has been welcomed by the two city authorities which have a direct interest in the preservation of fee-paying schools. We see no reason to frustrate their desire to retain what is valuable, 418 to extend the area of parental choice and to provide variety in the types of education authority school. Our Bill will enable the authorities to achieve these objects, and I commend it to the House.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I rise to oppose the Second Reading.
Before I go any further, may I enlighten the right hon. Gentleman about the 1969 Bill? It was taken on the Floor of the House not because of any desire of the then Government to take up the time of the House, but because the then Opposition, led by the right hon. Gentleman, exercised their rights, or suggested that they would do so, and so we did not debate the Bill in the Scottish Grand Committee. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will assure us that the Committee stage of the Bill will be taken in the Scottish Standing Committee and not on the Floor of the House.
§ Mr. Ross
All this is extremely unimportant and is not related to the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to put the Press right, he should hold a Press conference. He usually takes the time of the House with more important things.
However, he was right to say that there was no issue which created more heat and controversy, more acrimonious and keen debate, than this in the last Parliament, and now we are starting again in this. The issues have been clear-cut.
But one thing has happened since the debate was resumed. Other events have intervened, to use the right hon. Gentleman's phrase. We had a General Election—
§ Mr. Ross
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite paraded Scotland and had in their Scottish manifesto, which they did not have in their manifesto for Great Britain, a reference to this subject. This was, therefore, a purely Scottish matter and it had nothing to do with England and Wales. We campaigned against it. What, then, was the result? The Secretary of State sits on the Front Bench opposite with, if they are all here, 22 Members behind him. I have 43 419 behind me. Of the 71 Members of Parliament who were returned for Scotland, only 22 support the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, the hon. Member must not persist.
§ Mr. Ross
In Scotland, the Secretary of State lost the election.
I remember the speeches during the Committee and Report stages and on Third Reading of our Bill. The Liberal Party was on our side. One of the finest speeches I remember—it was typically Scots, canny, forthright and blunt—was by a man who charmed this House and who, in a very short time, made many friends for himself. That was Alasdair Mackenzie. We were all very sorry indeed to learn of his death the other day. Alasdair Mackenzie was almost typical of a Scot from a particular area. His instinctive reaction towards fee paying and limitation of opportunity of Scottish children was the truly Scottish one. I assure hon. Members opposite that we feel strongly about this. We feel that we have a mandate from the Scottish people to oppose what the Government are doing in this reactionary Measure.
§ Mr. Ross
The cream has gone sour a long time ago, and no one more so than the Secretary of State, because, of the two people who fought our Bill, one was dispatched by the public of Scotland to limbo and the other was dispatched to the back benches.
This is a serious point, because hon. Members opposite spent a long time last year and before that expressing concern about constitutional change and the desire more readily to meet the voice of Scotland. They produced a report which was intended to give us considerable change. In one section of it, on page 59, they quote—and I agree with the principle laid down by—the Balfour Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs thatScotland's needs and point of view should be known and brought into account at all stages in the formulation and execution of policy—when policy is being considered, when policy is being decided and when policy is announced.The voice of Scotland spoke on this at the General Election. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are ignoring it because, even if they are aware, they certainly have not been responsive to the needs of Scottish people in education. By their behaviour in ignoring the decision of the Scottish people, the Government can only achieve a weakening of confidence in British parliamentary life and cast serious doubt on their sincerity and concern to attune the machinery of Government more closely to Scotland's needs. If the Government do this before the reform, how worthy will the reform be?
The Secretary of State knows quite well that the majority of people of Scotland take great pride in the traditions of Scottish education. It may well be that during our discussions last year and those now starting, we surprise people to discover that there is fee paying in local authority schools in Scotland when it was abolished in England in 1944, and, indeed, that there is not only fee paying, but that there is selection, when our 421 whole tradition in Scotland has been comprehensive education.
I can understand hon. Members opposite. I think it was Sir Edward Boyle, a man of charming frankness, who admitted that the party opposite, on their side of the House, amongst the Conservatives and amongst those in the Administration at the time, had a considerable handicap because they had no personal experience of the public sector of education. That is true. There is about one hon. Member opposite whom I see at present who went to a Scottish school. The school with the highest representation on the other side of the Scottish Grand Committee when it meets is, of course, Eton. Hon. Members opposite do not know the Scottish tradition. Indeed, part of what they are doing now is justifying decisions of probably their own educational background.
If the Scottish system was so good and the traditions so great, why did hon. Members opposite ignore Scottish educational establishments? There is only one who did not, and that is the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), who takes great pride in having gone to Glasgow High and who sees in everything we suggest the destruction of all the traditions of that school, which is complete nonsense.
Sitting next to the hon. Member for Cathcart is his colleague the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), who is my Member of Parliament, not with my good will, I regret to say. In the town that gives the name to his constituency, he has a school as old as Glasgow High—Ayr Academy. Ayr Academy, like Glasgow High, has existed for centuries, and during those centuries it has changed both in intake and in educational structure and in its relationship to the area round about. I would place Ayr Academy second to no school. Other hon. Members from different areas will say the same of Hamilton Academy, for example. Others remember fine schools in Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, all of which threw aside fee-paying a long time ago, thereby keping up with the educational needs of the Scottish people.
The complaint is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are rooted to a Victorian and Edwardian past in Scottish education and fail to meet the challenge 422 of change that is necessary if we are to get the best out of the Scottish people and give them the best advantage of educational advance.
We are not talking for the Highlands of Scotland. We are not talking of anything other than Glasgow and Edinburgh. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Ayr wants to say anything, will he get up on his feet?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Development, Scottish Office (Mr. George Younger)
I am trying only to clear my mind. Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should talk only about Glasgow and Edinburgh, or about Ayr as well? He should make up his mind.
§ Mr. Younger
The right hon. Gentleman must know perfectly well that nobody has suggested that Ayr Academy should be asked to provide for fee paying. All that we are doing is to allow people who so wish to do so.
§ Mr. Ross
I assure the hon. Gentleman that many people in Ayr objected to the academy getting rid of fees and becoming comprehensive, even as they have objected to changes in different localities. The hon. Gentleman by his failure to reply to my question shows that he does not know the answer. If there is one thing about which he is ignorant it is education in Ayr; even more so than he is about education in Scotland as a whole.
The great thing about hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are prepared to talk about Scottish education without knowing anything about it. Of course educational conditions must change, but there must be the proper leadership to bring about the right kind of change. The Government must give a lead. We did not develop our national system of education without the leadership of great men. I shall not take up the time of the House by going through the centuries of history and naming those great men, but I assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I could do that.
423 The point about hon. Gentlemen opposite is that their whole policy is negative. They are turning their backs on progress, and they are doing so to help such a small number of people. Of course Glasgow and Edinburgh constitute a great part of the population of Scotland, but the bulk of the population of those two cities does not go to these fee-paying schools. This is the position about central authority and the Government. The people of Scotland make their demands in respect of the standards and the types of education they require, and the Government ignore the will of the people if they do not listen and respond to those demands.
I was pleased about the circular to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. It was welcomed all over Scotland, and he did not have a word to say about it when it was issued. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about a comprehensive system of education. They support it in theory, but they destroy it in practice. One cannot have selection, be it fee-paying or non-fee-paying if there is to be a comprehensive system. Of necessity the fee-paying selective schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow are denying to the great bulk of the population in those cities the proper organisation of their schools into a comprehensive system from which everyone will benefit. This proposal is offensive to most people in Scotland who regard it as a denial of educational progress.
I remember the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) when he described the position in Edinburgh. He told us about the social division and the whole rotting of cohesive unity within a community because of this educational race.
The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Edward Taylor)
To which school did the hon. Gentleman send his children?
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman will get an opportunity to speak. He knows that my hon. Friend answered that question in the House. The hon. Gentleman should contain himself for a few moments.
We are told that parental choice is at stake. What parental choice can there be when there are not enough schools 424 or places in these schools to enable people to take up their choice? I think it was the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) who gave the figures on one occasion. He told us of two schools which had an aggregate of 140 places available for which there were about 455 applications. What system of choice is there when there are 140 places for 450 applicants? There is no choice. The choice is made, not by the parents, but by somebody else.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite can, if they like, talk about the fees being nominal. I ask the House to remember what we have been debating in connection with the poorer families. Fees of £20 to £40 a year must mean something to them. They cannot have a choice. But what about the people of Inverness, and of Moray and Nairn? Are they not to get the benefit of this better system? They can have a choice if they can afford to send their children to live in Glasgow and pay for that as well as paying for the school fees. What real choice is there for those people?
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
The local authorities in the area can choose. It is well known that in my area, because of the geographical spread of population, the situation is different, but the local authority can, under our system, choose what is appropriate.
§ Mr. Ross
The right hon. Gentleman will get all this teased out in Committee. He knows that the local authorities outside Edinburgh and Glasgow have already chosen. They have chosen the traditional path of Scottish education.
There is no choice. I ask the House to remember what was said by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith), who is the expert on moral fibre. He said:We believe that, if there are two systems, one of which is possibly better than the other—and I am not saying that it is in this case—the individual parent should be allowed to choose which system he considers to be the better."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee, 11th February, 1969, c. 161.]There are not two systems in Scotland. It is only in Edinburgh and Glasgow that there are two systems, and in those cities there are not enough places for everyone to be able to choose. This better system about which hon. Gentlemen opposite 425 talk is not available in the greater part of Scotland. If hon. Gentlemen opposite really believe what they say about this better system they should be exhorting, encouraging and giving leadership to the rest of Scotland to adopt it. But they do not do that because they know that they dare not.
What about this limitation? What will the right hon. Gentleman do about that? We are getting this business of free places thrown in—Victorian and Edwardian secondary schools, and charity. That is the progress being made by the Scottish Tory Party in the year 1970. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must admit that there is no real freedom of choice, and that all we get is a lot of argument.
I suppose it is thought that if we keep these special schools they will solve the problems of Easterhouse. The people there will be able to break out in their numbers and invade Glasgow High. By heavens, that will be the day! We know the reaction to that if it looked like happening. Fees would go up and up and up.
The Under-Secretary for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Edward Taylor)
It is scandalous to say that.
Mr. Edward Taylor
The right hon. Gentleman has made a scandalous suggestion. Has he any evidence, of any sort, from anywhere, that these schools use any kind of discrimination against areas, or types or classes of people? If he has no evidence of that, will he withdraw that most scandalous suggestion?
§ Mr. Ross
I remember the activities of the hon. Member for Ayr when there was a question of zoning Ayr Academy. There is a section of the population which thinks that it owns the school. I felt 426 that we should zone the school and bring in people from Russell Street and Braehead. I went to Russell Street and eventually, on the basis of a selective system, got one of the few places at Ayr Academy. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that is what his party tried to do in Ayr just two years ago. I readily project, if this situation were found to be even remotely arising, what action would be taken in some of those schools.
I am sorry indeed that the Government should bring this kind of thing forward. How on earth do they justify selection in this day and age, because there must be selection according to some system, and no system of selection has yet been brought forward which has proved to be adequate. Selection at the age of 5—who on earth is going to say he can judge, when the child is aged 5, what the future of that child will be or how it will develop?
§ Mr. Ross
Or at the age of 8. I tell the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire that I am referring to a speech by the hon. Member for Cathcart, because he was the person who mentioned the ages of 5 and 8 and 12—and he is nodding his head in agreement. Sometimes the hon. Gentleman the Member for Perth and East Perthshire does not know what he has said himself and I do not regard him as an authority on what other people have said.
There we are, and this is a system which is to give equality of education to the people of Scotland! Of course it is nonsense and everyone knows it is nonsense. Then why on earth do hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite fight for it? They cannot come out and say that they do believe in comprehensive education, but they come out and say, "This is the right way in these particular places to get the élite—to cream off and get the best". Well, that is an awful slur on other fine schools—in the Highlands, in the Borders, and in other cities than these two. But this is what they resort to, and by retaining a system which, I think, in the case of one city, takes one-third of those in the fifth and sixth year, in another, about one-quarter, they deprive the comprehensive system of potential which really would mean the right 427 kind of scholastic talent mix which would be desirable in these areas.
This is one of the worst features of hon. Gentlemen's pretensions—pretending to claim that they are supporting a tradition in Scottish education when what they are doing is undermining a tradition of Scottish education, pretending to bring forward something which the people of Scotland want when the people of Scotland have said they do not want it, something which has been educationally condemned by the E.I.S., by headmasters, by educationists, and, above all, by the parents. The parental choice is that they want comprehensive schools.
Really, I was hoping for miracles today, even up to the last minute. After all, think what we have seen in this one week. The hon. Gentleman has thrown his past overboard and even at Question Time today he was defending the G.T.C. He who divided the House and insisted that the Tory Party vote against Rhodesian sanctions this week voted for sanctions against Rhodesia. Then we had this eating of words which went on just about half an hour or an hour ago on this non-intervention in industry which has been thrown overboard. I thought the hon. Gentleman might have stood up and said, "We have decided to join those on the road to Damascus, and not to proceed with this Bill".
§ Mr. Ross
I do not know about that, but I certainly hope that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite appreciate the educational disadvantages of what they are doing, and appreciate the social division which is implicit in what they are doing—the effect upon the children who are branded as failures, the effect upon parents, and especially in respect of the social competitiveness in parts of Glasgow and in Edinburgh. I hope they will think again.
But what interests me, too, is their failure even to put faith and confidence in what they call their own system. After all, what does the Bill say? That an education authority cancharge fees … in some or all of the classes in a limited number of schools".Why limited? Why not give local authorities that freedom hon. Gentlemen are 428 talking about. It shows that the right hon. Gentleman has no confidence in the position; he just wants to keep it where it was. Privilege, I think it is, he is preserving. It is the first time I have used the word, but that is the only construction I can place upon the right hon. Gentleman's idea of limitation. I am challenging him in respect of what he says is his own belief in this kind of tradition.
I sincerely hope that my hon. Friends themselves will speak and speak forcefully about our belief in the comprehensive system of education, which gives opportunity to the long-forgotten mass of the average of the children of Scotland, and gives them the opportunity, which more and more of them have taken, to show that they who had been discarded can make considerable achievements, whose talent had ben thrown away and wasted. The figures were given in a notable speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) when we had the previous discussion. I am sorry he is not here to fortify us today, but he is on a parliamentary delegation to Ghana.
We want an educational system which is not wasteful, which is educationally sound, which cherishes talent, and, above all, does not divide communities or divide the nation. It is regrettable that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite bring forward as their first Scottish Bill such a Bill as this, so destructive, so divisive and so negative.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
It is quite a long time now since we heard the right hon. Gentleman leading the Opposition on a major Bill and I should like to say to him that I was looking forward eagerly to his speech today. I had thought that his tenure of that great office of Secretary of State for Scotland would perhaps have produced a new man for us. He was Secretary of State for a record period, and I congratulate him on it.
§ Mr. MacArthur
It certainly went on and on and on; and here he is, rightly back in Opposition again, playing the same old tune of years ago. We have 429 heard it all again—about Eton and so on—the same old dreary story—
§ Mr. MacArthur
Listening to it I was reminded of those lines,Across the wire an electric message came:He is not better, he is much the same.It is precisely much the same that we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman. Of course, his play about Eton and so on was to be expected. We are used to it. But he should have more regard for the views of head teachers and teaching staffs and representatives of the local authorities in the cities affected by this Bill, and let him just remember the resolution passed by a large majority by Glasgow Education Committee, which made three points. First, it declared:That the Secretary of State"—that is, the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross)—had not advanced any argument in support of the contention that the abolition of these schools would significantly benefit the Authority's wholly comprehensive system.2. That the Roman Catholic Arch-Diocese held the view that it was the wish of Catholic parents expressed by the Church Authority that the status quo be retained.In direct reply to what the right hon. Gentleman was just saying, it went on:3. That head teachers of these schools supported the retention of the schools and disputed the Secretary of State's view that selection was incompatible with comprehensive education.I doubt whether any of those head teachers or any members of that education authority went to Eton. They had education in Scotland as their interest, just as we on this side have.
It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to play around with the election figures of 23 Conservatives and 40-odd Labour Members, but it comes a little odd from him, this moral electoral argument. I remind him in passing that, for every 12 votes—I am being generous—cast for his party in Scotland, 14 were cast against. So do let him make extravagant claims. Do not let him talk to this House about the propriety of election results when he was one of the Government who gerrymandered and fixed and fiddled the constituency boundaries in Scotland for his own party's advantage. Do not let him talk to us in those terms again.
430 He cannot be proud of his record in this matter. What a long shabby story it was. First of all, there was the circular 600 which they pretended was consultative in tone: when they found that local authorities were not bending to their will, we began to see coercion. Then we had the 1969 Act. When the local authorities still could not put forward schemes, because they were asked to do the impossible, we had the threat of another Act of Parliament from the right hon. Gentleman just before the General Election. It is a sad history.
As my right hon. Friend reminded us, the effect of the Bill is to amend the 1962 Act, so that local education authorities in Scotland shall again have the right to charge fees in some of their schools if they wish. We are just reversing the effect of the critical part of Section 1 of the 1969 Act, and thus fulfilling yet another Conservative pledge. Hon. Members, certainly from Scotland, will remember that that notorious Section 1 gave rise to long and sometimes heated debate in this House and in Scotland.
Perhaps, in view of my own participation in that debate, I might express my personal appreciation to my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friends on the Front Bench for introducing this Bill so soon. Perhaps I can also express my deep gratitude to the present Leader of the Opposition for recommending the dissolution of Parliament when he did. His decision precipitated the collapse of his Administration and so saved the fee-paying schools in Scotland—just in time. Local authorities, parents and children who believe in freedom owe him a debt for enabling us to restore freedom to them.
I use the word "freedom", because I believe that this should be the most important theme of the debate. Three freedoms are involved—the freedom of local authorities to determine the form of education in the areas for which they are responsible; the freedom of parents, even on a restricted scale, to have some choice of school for their children; and, for the outstanding child, the freedom to attend a school geared to his educational needs.
Perhaps I may remind the House that we are defending a sector of education which in Britain exists uniquely in Scotland and there only in Edinburgh and 431 Glasgow. Only 14 schools will be directly affected by the Bill, with, in all, under 12,000 children. But it is not the number of local authorities or the number of schools or the number of children which matters: in the end, what matters is the principle that the freedom enjoyed by local authorities should be protected. It is right that the Conservative Opposition defended this freedom and that a Conservative Government are taking the first opportunity to establish that freedom again by statute.
Of course fees are charged in these schools, as the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock said. The fees have been small. Perhaps they will be increased: even so, I doubt whether any hon. Member opposite can feel that the fees are likely to be of a size which would turn these schools into bastions of financial privilege. Indeed, the fees have been small enough to bring the schools within the reach of many parents who could not afford the higher charges made by grant-aided schools, let alone the much higher charges made by schools in the independent sector. If the egalitarians—
§ Mr. Lawson
On a point of order. If the Front Bench spokesman on the other side is not speaking from the Front Bench, surely he should treat the House to the courtesy of speaking his thoughts and not reading what has been put down long since. Must we suffer it, Sir?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
I have been observing the hon. Member myself, and I am of the opinion that he was doing no more than what is often done by hon. Members on both sides—refreshing his memory by copious use of notes.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am obliged, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I would point out to the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) who made that frivolous intervention that I am using copious notes to keep my speech brief and that that assists me in making my speech so much better than anything that he may say later in the debate.
If the hon. Member for Motherwell and the so-called egalitarians around him had had their way under the 1969 Act, they would have removed choice not from the rich, who can look elsewhere, 432 but from the not-so-rich, the less well-off parents. It is their freedom that the hon. Member was seeking to remove: they would have lost all choice under the 1969 Act. Under the hon. Gentleman and his friends, theirs would have been Hobson's choice, no choice at all.
§ Mr. Lawson
I always enjoy listening to the hon. Member, but when he is talking about freedom, what does he mean by "taking away the freedom of local authorities", when, in respect of their rent policy, the Government are going to impose upon local authorities, willy-nilly, a system of rent rebates?
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Member knows that all our policies are designed to build a free society, in which help is directed to those areas where it is really needed. I support that policy, as do most of the people, and most of the people in Scotland as well. The hon. Gentleman supports a policy of Hobson's choice for the poor. What kind of Socialism is that? It is no Socialism at all. That bogus egalitarianism removes freedom and puts greater power in the hands of the rich, because it restricts choice to them.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I will give way to the hon. Member in a moment, if he has a relevant intervention.
The Bill is about fees. They predominate in the wording of the Bill, as they did in Section 1 of the 1969 Act. The whole wording of that Section was about fees, yet this is a paradoxical situation, in that the debate is not basically about fees as such but about freedom and selectivity.
§ Mr. John Smith
As I understand the hon. Member's argument, it is that it would be against egalitarianism to abolish the fee paying local authority schools. From that, I think, it follows inevitably that the hon. Member thinks that direct grant-aided schools are privileged. Would he therefore campaign to have them abolished?
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am saying nothing of the kind. What I am saying is that it is very silly to remove a range of choice from parents in the lower income brackets. Any sensible person would agree.
433 I was saying that the debate is really about selectivity. Hon. Gentlemen opposite detest selectivity, they detest selection by merit. Yet surely even they will agree that there is selectivity in every form of education at every level, not least in the comprehensive system. There is a belief among hon. Members opposite that selectivity is sinful. We heard from the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock just now that selectivity is somehow sinful or harmful because of the hurt to the child who is not favourably selected.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
I am now totally confused. I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that this was a debate about freedom. He now says that it is about selectivity. But selectivity is a total denial of freedom to choose. It is decided upon the child's estimated ability. No choice, no freedom, is left. The hon. Gentleman must make up his mind.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for trying to clear my mind. That is unnecessary, because by mind is clear on the matter. Selectivity, at least in some forms of education, is necessary to preserve freedom of choice, and freedom of choice in education is an essential ingredient of a free society.
§ Mr. MacArthur
There is selectivity in every form of education, not least in the comprehensive system. There was a very interesting paragraph on this very point of selectivity in the London Comprehensive Schools Report, 1966, it said:Although many of the schools rely upon a fairly close grading or streaming of the classes, this may not necessarily be known to the pupils and the schools tend to use some ingenuity in devising form names to disguise the grading of the particular form.In other words, the schools which follow that system are, I assume, trying to meet the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, to avoid offence to the child not favourably selected. But, very significantly, the report immediately adds:How far this deceives the individual pupil is, however, a matter for speculation.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. If the hon. Gentleman does not give way the hon. Members must remain in their seats.
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Gentleman has anticipated a point I was coming to. There is selectivity in every form of education, no matter how much one tries to disguise it. It is clear from the report I have quoted that the disguising is not successful. Inevitably, some children are brighter than others, and no amount of social engineering by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite can alter that.
There are other arguments in the wonderland of Socialism, some of them attractive at first sight. One is the point which the hon. Member for Midlothian hinted at, that selectivity takes place too soon. In our debates on the 1969 Act, hon. Members opposite were largely misinformed about this. That was a reason for my intervention during the right hon. Gentleman's speech, an intervention which he misunderstood. The securing of a place in a local authority fee-paying primary school is not a guarantee of a place in the secondary school, and rightly so. It is reasonable to argue that the ages of five, certainly, and 11, 12, or even 13, are too young at which to identify educational promise. But even in the comprehensive system there must be a time when a decision is made, there must be a moment of determination.
Or do hon. Gentlemen opposite argue that there should be no selectivity ever? If so, they should persue the logic of that view and provide free university places for all, with no selective examination, and degrees for all in a mad academic caucus race, with prizes for all for fear of hurting the feelings of those who fail. That is patently absurd. It 435 illustrates the absurdity of the arguments too often deployed from the benches opposite.
The point has also been made that selective schools cream off the ablest pupils, thus putting the comprehensive school at a disadvantage. I question that. If we look at the proportion of children attending fee-paying schools in Glasgow, we see that that argument does not hold water. The number is very few. I quoted earlier from the resolution of the local education authority. I concede that in Edinburgh the proportion is higher.
But I prefer to defend the freedom of local authorities, which understand local conditions, to determine the shape of local education. The priority of argument in my mind lies firmly with that.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there is no freedom here because there are not enough places for all the children who want and deserve them. Regrettably, that is true, but it is no argument to go on from that to say that because not all the children can get places there should not be any places at all for any children.
In our earlier discussions we heard the argument that it is somehow wrong for taxpayers and ratepayers to subsidise places for selected children. We may hear that argument again today. It is a strange doctrine. Every taxpayer contributes to the Concorde project, yet how many will travel supersonically? Nearer home, my constituents have been contributing for years through their taxes to the deficit of British Rail, yet many of them were denied the opportunity to travel by rail by the Labour Government, which closed down the direct railway line between Perth and Edinburgh. That was not in the Beeching Plan, but was a decision of the Labour Government.
The Opposition's arguments do not stand any scrutiny. Hon. Gentlemen opposite embarked on a crazy, dogmatic scheme which we are happily getting rid of. They did so without any thought for its practicality. When we asked them how the schools would be converted and forced into the comprehensive system, they had no answer. At every stage we asked the then Government, "What will happen to these schools? How can they be made into comprehensive schools? 436 How can they be forced into another shape? What is to be done with them?" Every time, the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, "That is not a matter for us. It is for the local authorities to decide, and we are waiting for their proposals." But they knew full well that they were asking the local authorities to carry out the impossible, or, at best, the impracticable. We have never heard from the party opposite what could be done with those schools and how they could be shaped into the comprehensive pattern without distorting that pattern totally.
Hon. Members opposite have advanced no educational argument in support of their view. The more I hear the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends speak, the more I hear the sounds of arguments based on a bogus egalitarianism which they have used to divert attention from the real education needs of Scotland over the past few years, needs which are becoming clearly apparent to us only now that we have access to the figures and the facts. There has been no educational argument at all. All we have heard from the party opposite is dogma, Transport House egalitarianism which has no place in the Scottish education scene.
I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends, and trust that the House will get this Bill for freedom on to the Statute Book as quickly as possible.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Iain Campbell (Dunbartonshire, West)
As I rise to make my maiden speech, two thoughts come into my mind. One is that it is perhaps very nice to make one's maiden speech among one's ain folk, and the other is that it might provide a little light relief from the argumentative Scots.
There are certain formalities in a maiden speech. The first is that I should pay tribute to my predecessor, and this I do with a full heart. Tom Steele served the House for 25 years, for 20 of which he represented my constituency of West Dunbartonshire. For the previous five years he represented South Lanark, where he had the chance to cross swords twice with the present Foreign Secretary. The score then was one all. Having in mind some of the measures the Government 437 have been bringing forward in the last few weeks, I think that we shall have to get Tom out of retirement and have him up there. I am sure that if we did so the score would be 2–1 in his favour.
Dunbartonshire represents, in a way, a miniature Scotland. At the southern end, the Erskine Bridge is being thrown across the river—a symbol of Scotland coming into the 'seventies. Further into the county we have the remnants of the heavy engineering industry which was once paramount in the economy, and we have remnants of the textile industry in the Vale of Leven. These industries have been replaced by modern light industry, the firms concerned having been attracted by inducements such as the investment grant. The firms rent the factories, and the question now is whether we can attract more and more industry of the right type to our industrial estates. We have had our share of problems. Last year we had the closure of the R.N.T.F. but the Labour Administration succeeded in getting Plessey to take over the factory and this company we hope will prove one of our great growth points.
In addition to industry we have dairy farming and hill sheep farming, and tourism built round Loch Lomond, the Firth of Clyde and the mountains. That is why I say that we are, in effect, a small Scotland, with all of Scotland's problems.
We have another great product of Scotland, too—whisky. I have no doubt that this is a good debate in which to introduce that word, because we have the largest whisky complex in the whole of Scotland. I was at the opening of one of these places a few years ago. It was opened by the Prime Minister. He was not then Prime Minister, but Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development and President of the Board of Trade. When Ministers can take under themselves titles such as this, do we have to go to Her Majesty the Queen and ask for additional honours? On that occasion the present Prime Minister rolled out a barrel of whisky. There was plenty in that barrel, but there is gey little in this present Measure.
Perhaps even in a maiden speech I can speak of my constituency's educational scene. There has been a lot of talk from the benches opposite about comprehensive 438 education, but in Dunbarton county we decided to go comprehensive way back in 1960—and the council was not Labour-controlled. This process has gone on in many areas, and we have found that comprehensive education has fitted well into the scheme of things. One thing that people who argue against comprehensive education failed to realise is that the way in which Scotland was going the shortage of teachers for junior secondary schools was unbelievable. We were finding that the educational system for junior secondary schools was at the point of collapse.
As to the costs of education, we have been told by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), who is the Scottish Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, that the additional expenditure to be allowed for primary education in Scotland in 1972–77 is £4 million. In the 1967–72 programme, and that also covers our school-building programme, it will be £7.4 million. Let us now look at the picture for 1972–77. With a new town being built at Cumbernauld, which is part of the shire, we have a continuing need to put schools there, and in that five-year period it is estimated that seven primary schools will be needed, at a cost of about £1.7 million. For extensions to secondary schools—to meet the raising of the school-leaving age—and for other schools becoming comprehensive, we shall need £2.2 million, and another £4 million will be needed for new secondary provision in Cumbernauld—a total of £7.9 million.
Then there is the question of the replacement of primary schools. The right hon. Lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science has intimated that we are to say goodbye to primary schools built in the last century. In Dunbartonshire we need 20 new primary schools as replacements and if we work to the time scale announced by the right hon. Lady we shall want about £4 million for that work. That means that Dunbartonshire alone could eat up the whole of the Ministry's financial provision for Scotland.
I am quite sure that Dunbartonshire will not take advantage of the Bill. Some parents in the area will undoubtedly continue to send their children to Glasgow schools. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) argued 439 very strongly about this situation, but as I am supposed to be speaking non-controversially I must allow his words to speak for me. Nevertheless, I must say that we are here faced with the carrying on of privilege.
Clause 1(4) states:An education authority shall not exercise the power conferred by subsection (2) above unless they secure at all times adequate provision of free school education for their area …What is "adequate provision"? Does it mean that no child shall have part-time education? No children in my constituency have part-time education, but some children go to Glasgow, which has four secondary schools with that form of education. This is an important point. If adequate schooling means that every child shall have full-time education, can we safely leave with the Secretary of State for Scotland the authority to say, "You are not fulfilling the provisions of the Measure, and we shall not allow you to have such fee-paying schools unless this provision is adequately made"?
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Ian Campbell) on an excellent maiden speech which was delivered with great confidence. The hon. Gentleman struck the right non-controversial and harmonious note when he spoke about whisky. He cannot go wrong if he continues in that way.
If I may with great humility give the hon. Gentleman one word of advice, he should not allow the words of his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) to come into his own mouth. We prefer the hon. Gentleman's own words and we hope to hear from him many times.
I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on introducing the Bill so early in the Session. I was a little apprehensive to begin with about my right hon. Friend's intentions, because his first two Bills were what can be described as of the consensus variety, if not actually Socialist in flavour, which any Government might introduce. I was therefore glad when my right hon. Friend introduced this Bill, which puts right one of the most vicious restrictions on free- 440 dom imposed by the Labour Government. I am sorry that the architect of that—the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock—has left the Chamber.
I do not know what others found, but in my constituency during the Election the abolition of fee-paying schools was one of the most burning issues [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I am talking about my experience in my constituency, and I have no doubt about that. I am glad that my right hon. Friend is fulfilling his election pledge to restore this freedom so soon.
If I had had any doubts about the wisdom of doing this, everything that was said in the rather dreary speech of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock—I am sorry to say this in the right hon. Gentleman's absence—confirmed me in my conviction that my right hon. Friend was right to restore the former position.
I say this on what I believe to be purely practical grounds, because we must assume that both parties, however much we may quarrel, are genuinely interested in getting a good education system in Scotland. What is the principal factor which is stopping us from doing this? Hon. Members opposite seem to suggest that all that is wrong is what they call the socially divisive character of fee-paying schools. If one looks at the problem of education in Scotland objectively—I know that it is very difficult to do this—one recognises that what is wrong is not the fee-paying system but lack of money. That is why classes are so large and teachers are so few. We were told today that we are 3,000 teachers short. That is why so many schools are still in slum conditions. Provide more cash from people able to pay and all these problems would be solved.
In his recent mini-budget, to employ the colloquial term, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced increased charges for school meals—not to penalise the poor, which is what hon. Members opposite have suggested, but to get more money from those who can afford it in order to provide better schools. The restoration of the fee-paying system is another step in the same direction of getting more money into education from those who can afford it.
§ Mr. John Smith
The hon. Gentleman justifies fee paying as a revenue-producing factor in Scottish education. Is it not unfair that the extra revenue to pay for the whole of Scottish education should come from a few parents in Edinburgh and Glasgow?
§ Mr. Galbraith
If the hon. Gentleman had not interrupted me he would have heard me develop this argument, because I intend to come to it.
Hon. Members opposite also want to get more money into education, but their way of doing it is not directly by personal contribution, which is our way, but indirectly through higher taxation. If the last six years have shown anything, it is that the system of high taxation has been tried and found wanting. Not surprisingly so, because under it the only way in which a parent who wants better education for his children can get it is by persuading 50 million other people to submit to the extra taxation needed to pay for it. By the time he has done that his children are well past school age. Contrary to this, we wish to encourage a system that is an incentive to individual effort so that the parent who wishes something different or something that he thinks is better can go out and get what he wants in a fee-paying school.
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
How can the hon. Gentleman square his concept of individual incentive with the Prime Minister's television statement that the only way that people can provide schools is to do it collectively? The Prime Minister said that people could not provide schools or roads by themselves but must do so collectively.
§ Mr. Galbraith
The hon. Gentleman may listen but he obviously does not take in. It was perfectly clear from what my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Chancellor said that the raising of these charges was to provide money which would go to make better schools and better hospitals and all the things which can be provided only on a communal basis. I want to get more money into education without the tremendously high taxation that the Labour Government had and which did not produce the goods.
442 We are in a way aiming at the same thing, but we go about it in a different way because, contrary to the way in which the Labour Government proceeded, we wish to encourage a system that is an incentive to individual effort so that the parent who wants something different or what he considers better can go out and get it.
I advance this argument, not because it helps the rich, which is what hon. Members oppsite always suspect, but because I can see no other way of getting the extra cash into education. I should like to see, not just the restoration of the fee-paying principle, but an extension of it throughout the whole of Scotland; because, unless this system is extended so that people who can afford to pay do pay, we shall not get the necessary improvements. What I say is addressed not only to hon. Members opposite but also to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
I advocate this, not on idealogical grounds, but on practical grounds, because it has been conclusively proved that the universal provision of everything we require through the social services demands such a high burden of taxation that the end result is falling standards; whereas, if it is possible to make a personal contribution, almost inevitably it will result in rising standards.
It is often argued by hon. Members opposite that to allow parents freedom to make efforts and sacrifices on behalf of their children is unfair to children whose parents are not willing to make such efforts and sacrifices. This is where the State and the social services should come in—to help children whose parents will not help them.
It is a very dangerous doctrine that because all parents will not make a sacrifice no parent should be allowed to do so. For if it is wrong for parents to be allowed to strive for their children's education at school, what about parents who strive to bring them up well at home? Could it not be equally argued that it is just as unfair that some parents should take more trouble than others at home and that therefore all children should be removed to the care of an impartial benevolent State institution at birth so that they can all get the same fair treatment throughout their lives?
443 It is a very dangerous road that hon. Members opposite are travelling in seeking to curtail a parent's right to do the best he can for his child. It may come—I do not deny that it probably does come—from the highest form of idealism, but it is utterly unnatural to curb a parent's right, and if the policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite were carried to its logical conclusion in this matter we should be led straight to the brave new world of 1984.
Nor am I convinced when I am told that fee-paying schools are socially divisive. Surely the substitution of area schools would be far more socially devisive because children who live in professional middle-class districts would go to professional middle-class schools whereas those who live in working-class districts would go to working-class schools all their lives.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that although area schools are satisfactory for secondary education they are in some way unsatisfactory for primary education? In other words, is he saying that area schools are socially divisive in the secondary sphere but are not so divisive in the primary sector?
§ Mr. Galbraith
I have merely been pointing out that children who live in a middle-class professional area would, if these schools were abolished, go through their lives attending professional middle-class area schools, which might be all right for them, whereas children from predominantly working-class areas would always go to working-class area schools where there would be no pupils other than from the same class, and we should lose the valuable cross-fertilisation which at present takes place.
They would be rigid, class-conscious schools drawing their pupils entirely from the rich or poor areas surrounding them. The only way in which a parent could choose would be to move house, and I believe that this happens in America. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite want to import that American habit here?
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are always saying that we should help the specially handicapped child, and I agree with that. However, what about the specially gifted child living in poor surroundings? What 444 chance has he in a poor district school where there will probably be no tradition for staying on longer to develop his potential capacity? He would be under far stronger pressure all the time from the example of his fellow working-class pupils to leave school as early as possible.
The division lies not between the rich and the poor but between those who regard education as valuable and those who do not. Those who regard it as valuable must shrink from the irresponsible leap in the dark which the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock invited us to take last Session, when he sought to abolish our fee-paying schools. We are glad for the wisdom of my right hon. Friend in restoring this system, which has served Scotland extremely well in the past, and I challenge any hon. Gentleman opposite to say the opposite.
The trouble with hon. Gentlemen opposite is that they are always wanting something new. They thought that nationalisation would solve all our industrial problems, but a fat lot of good that was. They think that the comprehensives will do the trick in education, and in the word "comprehensive" they see a magic cure for all ills. I put it to them that the comprehensives may prove to be as much a false god in education as nationalisation has turned out to be in the industrial sphere. We do not know, and until we do know it would be unwise to throw away our well-tried fee-paying school system.
An American educationalist was recently quoted on this subject in the Glasgow Herald as having said:You should stop quarrelling with educational excellence merely because everyone cannot have it right now.We should be well advised to accept that warning.
There is no reason why the two systems should not exist side by side. By all means let us have the new comprehensive experimental schools, but where they are most appropriate, which is in the new towns which are going up all over Scotland. Then let us compare the end product of those new schools, individually and socially, with the end product from the well tried fee-paying schools and then decide which is best. But let us not destroy, for the sake of what may be a passing fashion in education, schools which have existed for centuries and which have 445 contributed men of the highest calibre to the service of the nation.
I wish to end on a constituency note. I ask my right hon. Friend not to destroy, for the sake of tidiness, the Jordanhill College School which, although it is not a local authority fee-paying school, is a unique school which has a fine tradition and is highly esteemed. I urge him to grant to it the same reprieve that he is wisely giving to the other fee-paying schools, so to enable the Jordanhill College School to continue to serve future generations as well as it has served past generations.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Ayrshire, Central)
I am pleased to have been called to speak in this debate because I know that my predecessor, Archie Manuel, would have contributed were he still representing Central Ayrshire.
He was known affectionately by hon. Members on both sides of the House as "Archie" and his many friends will be glad to know that after serving this constituency for 25 years he is now retired and is enjoying life in his home in the West Highlands.
I have been told by hon. Members that Archie's name appears in HANSARD more frequently than that of any other hon. Member, mainly because of his interruptions and points of order. During his 25 years here he was not prepared to allow a statement to go by without challenging it, if he thought it should be challenged. I am sure that at times you needed all your power, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to get him to resume his seat. With his hot Highland blood, Archie could not stand a wrong argument. He could always see the truth in any case, especially if he was deploying it.
I now represent Central Ayrshire, one of five constituencies in Ayrshire. Although this is the first constituency that I have represented, I appear here after having fought five parliamentary campaigns. Indeed, I have been fighting elections since 1955. Hon. Members will realise that I have travelled a hard road to get here. Having got here, I shall be staying for a long time. I shall do so by giving the same service that was given by Archie Manuel—and while I hope that after I have served my constituency for 25 years similar words of affect- 446 tion will be used towards me, I trust that I shall not give you too much trouble, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I promise to behave myself.
It is not very difficult to remain a Scottish Labour M.P. Indeed, if the present Government continue to introduce policies similar to those which they have introduced in the last six months there will be many more Scottish Labour M.P.s. Even the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), will find it difficult to get re-elected. The people of Scotland recognise that the Labour Party carries out policies which are to their benefit.
In one way, I congratulate the Government on introducing the Bill: it shows that they are trying to implement a promise which they gave to the people of Scotland at the last election. They are carrying out something which they said they would carry out. However, I hope that the spokesman who winds up the debate from our side of the House will assure us that quick action will be taken when we regain control to rescind this Measure. During the last five-and-a-half years we have had too many committees and commissions on education in Scotland. I am fed up with commissions on education. It is a traditional English method of shelving decisions on education. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will give an assurance that they will do away with fees, not only in local authority schools but in any sector of education, and that they will do away with grant-aided schools and independent schools.
The Bill is irrelevant to Central Ayrshire because there are no local authority fee-paying schools in it. Fee-paying in local authority schools was brought to an end in Ayrshire in 1946. In fact, the Bill is irrelevant to the majority of Scotland because it deals with only a very small proportion of children in educational establishments.
It has been said that the Bill affects primarily Glasgow and Edinburgh. That is not so. It affects a very small minority of the children who attend schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In Glasgow and Edinburgh there is a comprehensive system which was brought into being by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). However, although 447 the Bill is irrelevant to the people of Scotland, an important principle attaches to it, and it is on that principle that I should like to speak.
It has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock that we have a tradition of comprehensive education in Scotland. No one can deny that. Anyone who tries to deny it, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) did, shows not only that he was not educated in a Scottish school, but that he knows nothing about conditions in education in Scotland.
We have always had a democratic tradition of education in Scotland. From the time of John Knox, when our neighbourhood schools were introduced, we have jealously guarded that democratic tradition. We have said that every child, whatever his family or social background, should go to the school nearest to his door. It has been a Scottish tradition that children—whether they be the children of ministers, doctors, teachers or dustmen—should go to the same type of school. The Bill attacks this principle. There is a different tradition in England. I can well understand right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite knowing more about the English tradition than the Scottish tradition. There is an aristocratic tradition of education in England.
Because of the tradition in Scotland, we can stand up proudly in this House or anywhere else and say that the standards of education in Scotland are among the highest in the world. Although we have one or two faults, mainly due to the lack of money, we can still say that Scottish education is among the best in the world. The reason for this is that everyone in Scotland has been interested in the State system of education. If the State system is bad in my area in Ayrshire, it is bad not only for working-class children but for the children of my family. That is why in Scotland there has been an education lobby which has taken in all sections of the population, demanding better standards of education in State schools.
A clear guide to educational standards in Scotland lies in the qualifications and standards of the teaching profession. Over 50 per cent. of Scottish teachers are graduates or graduate equivalents. In the secondary sector, whether private or 448 local authority, every teacher is not only a qualified graduate or graduate equivalent but is forced to take a year's training at a teacher training college. Under 20 per cent. of the teachers in England are graduates or graduate-equivalents, and very few of them have been forced to take training in a teacher training college. English standards are certainly coming up to Scottish standards, but they are still far behind.
Because of the Scottish tradition of local State education, our public schools are the State schools. It is our job to ensure that our public schools in Scotland supply the best possible education for the children.
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) say that he could quote evidence of a demand among the teaching profession in Glasgow for the retention of fee-paying schools. I do not mind the hon. Gentleman speaking about Perth, but I object to his speaking about conditions in education in Glasgow. As a former teacher, I say that the last person I would ask for an opinion on education would be a headmaster—I say that with all due deference to you, Mr. Speaker. I would go to the teachers for such an opinion.
As a former leader of the teachers in Scotland, and a former chairman of the Glasgow branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland, I can tell the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire the opinion of teachers in Glasgow. They have clearly stated that they are in favour of the abolition of fees. I say to the hon. Gentleman: do not ask five headmasters; ask the 7,000 Glasgow teachers what is their opinion as expressed through their representatives.
As a representative of the teachers on the local joint consultative committee with the Glasgow Corporation, I have on many occasions put forward a case on behalf of Glasgow teachers for the withdrawal of fees. The teachers are in favour of the Labour Government's proposals, not of the Conservative Government's proposals.
I hope, therefore, that at this late date hon. Members opposite will recognise the traditions of Scottish education, and realise that by continuing with a policy of fee-paying schools they are cutting into 449 the comprehensive principle. No matter how we camouflage it, we cannot have a comprehensive system of education and still allow fee-paying selective schools. It is impossible.
I am not pessimistic. The Bill will come into operation, if it is passed, on 1st August, 1971. Before that, we shall have the local government elections. I am quite sure, and the right hon. Gentleman is also quite sure, that when the results are announced, at least from Glasgow, after the May elections, Labour will again have control of Glasgow Corporation. We should never have lost it. We lost it through stupidity and fighting amongst ourselves. Speaking on behalf of Glasgow and Glasgow Labour Party, I am quite sure—I shall get into a row with some of the hon. Members for Glasgow present for stating this—that Labour will again have control of the city of Glasgow. I realise that I am speaking in the presence of some ex-Glasgow councillors, who may be a bit to blame for the situation, but I hope that this time they will have a little more courage and that they will stand up against any reactionary forces, no matter from which direction they come, and that they will advise their colleagues who will control Glasgow after May to do away with the fee-paying schools.
Whether we are defeated tonight or not, we shall win on the streets of Glasgow in May, though, I am not so sure about my friends in Edinburgh. They are a snobbish lot there, and fee paying and snobbery go together. But even the people of Edinburgh are beginning now to wake up. It will be a proud day for this side of the House when we can say that Royal Edinburgh, with all its traditions, is under the control of the Labour Party.
Irrespective of the result tonight, we shall then deal with the fee-paying schools in Edinburgh and bring them into the comprehensive system of which we are all proud. I hope that the Government will have second thoughts and will have listened to the appeal from this side of the House, because, to use a football chant, "We are the people of Scotland".
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
I am pleased to be able to congratulate the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) on his maiden speech. I greatly enjoyed it. The House will have seen that he used very few notes and spoke in a very competent manner. He did not seem to be at all nervous—as I am now. He spoke with great affection of his predecessor, Mr. Archie Manuel, whom certainly all Scottish Members greatly liked. I am glad to hear that he is well and I should like to know how he is getting on with his fishing.
The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, was very definite in his views. That is all to the good. We look forward to hearing him again, both in the House and in our Scottish Committee. I congratulate him on a very competent effort.
In general, I approve of the Bill. The Government have done well in introducing it and reversing decisions which were wrongly made in the last Parliament. If education is a major function of the local authorities, it is wise to give them a good deal of freedom on how they should act, subject always to the maintenance of standards both of staff and school buildings. Giving a fair degree of freedom to local authorities tends to involve people in educational matters and policies in their own areas much more than if education is handled solely by the central Government. Involvement is a desirable end, or, at least, so I am told. That is my main reason for supporting the Bill, but there are others.
It seems clear from views expressed and the number of seats won and held in local elections, in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, that the majority of people in those cities favour the retention of fee paying. I see no objection to parents contributing financially to their children's education, taking a close interest in it, and endeavouring to obtain the best education for their children that they can. That is a basic right, and it is recognised as such by the United Nations.
The fee-paying schools in Edinburgh have always been excellent. They are popular and they produce first-class pupils. Why, therefore, tinker with institutions which are functioning well and 451 setting good standards and a good example? It is a little difficult to arrive at exact figures of the consequences if fee-paying were to be abolished. The fees help considerably with the educational budget. If they were abolished more finance would have to be sought, either through an increase in the rates or through additional taxation. Taxes and rates, we all agree, are high enough already. This would also lead perhaps to damage to other schools because possibly there would be less money to maintain or improve them.
Another point which deeply concerns Edinburgh is that at present the fee-paying schools draw pupils from all parts of the city. This leads to a better mix than if one has schools drawing only from small areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) mentioned what is happening in America. I happen to know that what he said is true. The comprehensive system in America has led to difficulties because people get the idea that certain schools—I think that the Americans call them neighbourhood schools—are good and they want to buy property nearby so that their children can go to those schools. Thus the comprehensive system is, as it were, eaten into and one develops social divisions based on class or finance. Fortunately that is not the position in Edinburgh. I hope it never will be.
Lastly there is the question of geography. Any major upheaval in the education system in Edinburgh will lead to great difficulties because of the exact placing in the city of the various schools. If we had a completely comprehensive system, in some parts of the city we should have a great number of schools, and in other parts we should be short of schools. We should not be doing any good, and children on the south side particularly might well suffer. It would lead eventually to more funds being needed to erect new schools, while in other parts of the city we might be pulling down quite reasonable schools which were not required. It is a rather complex matter, but I assure hon. Members that that is so, and I think that my hon. Friend will be able to confirm it when he winds up the debate.
I am certain that the best policy is to leave alone those schools which are 452 operating well and to concentrate all funds and resources on those which are less good, which are short of staff or which for any other reason require attention. That is a practical way to make progress in education, not only for our children today but for the children of future years.
I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to study with the education authorities of Edinburgh their school building programme. Keeping the fee-paying schools has benefited many of my constituents and many others in Edinburgh, but even so there is a shortage of schools, particularly on the south side. Will he look into this and do what he can to encourage the Edinburgh authorities to build there? There is, for instance, one old school which is not satisfactory and should be closed, which will bring greater pressure on school building in the south. I ask my hon. Friend to look into this problem. If he will get in touch with me in the next month or two, I shall be most grateful.
I congratulate the Government on fulfilling one of their election pledges and reversing the decision made by the Socialist Government, and I look forward to the retention of fee-paying schools in my own city of Edinburgh.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
This is a miserable Measure with which to occupy a day in the House. The Government should be made fully aware of what they are doing. They are using an English majority to force on the people of Scotland a policy which they do not want and a policy which that English majority itself rejected as far back as 1944. What a farcical situation.
I must say in passing that, when listened to the two opening speakers talking about the procedure used in this instance, it was news to me, though I welcomed it, that the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) are now, in contrast to their earlier days, converted to the new theory that the internal policy of Scotland should be determined according to the wishes of the people of Scotland. If they would care to come and sit on this bench at any time, we should welcome them in 453 pursuance of that conversion. It is a little sactimonious, coming from that quarter, but they are nevertheless right in saying that there is no mandate for the Bill. The people of Scotland firmly rejected the policies of the Conservative Party as put forward in its manifesto, yet the Conservative Government now propose to use their majority elsewhere to put through a policy which is not followed elsewhere and to impose it on the people of Scotland.
I have a question on the procedure to be followed in this case. What is to happen to the Bill if it becomes an Act and we then have the Consultative Assembly appointed in Scotland? We do not want to have to spend our time constantly passing Bills to re-introduce fee paying in Scotland. If the Consultative Assembly reflects the present political complexion of Scotland, even approximately—which is a reasonable assumption—and if the Assembly resolved that it did not want fee paying in Scotland, what would happen to the Bill? Should we then have another Bill rescinding what we are doing and putting us back to the 1969 Act, or what should we do? I should like to hear an answer to that question in the winding-up speech, although I suspect that the recommendations coming from the Assembly would simply be ignored as having no force.
The policy now put to us is in itself bad. The phrase "socially divisive" has already been used about it, and one does not have to subscribe to any of the doctrines of Transport House to accept that as a matter of fact, not opinion.
If I may now speak about Edinburgh, not as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) did, as a representative of that city but as one who was educated under its system, it seems to me that there are only two methods of gaining entry into a fee-paying school in Edinburgh. Either one must have parents of sufficient cash and or initiative to get one in, or one must be creamed off as one of the three or four pupils a year from each of the non fee-paying primary schools into the fee-paying element on the scholarship basis provided for in the Bill. Those are the two methods. As a result, the pupils in the fee-paying schools are composed of those particularly early developers or bright pupils at the age of 11 who are taken from the non fee-paying 454 schools or those whose parents hold such a position in society that they are able, presumably, to exert influence in public policy and discussion of education in the city.
The Secretary of State said that the Bill maintained the right of every child to a free school place, and that was not affected. What sort of free school place? In fact, under the almost apartheid system of education in Edinburgh, it is a second-rate free school place which is offered. It is well known that any child who has gone through the non-fee-paying sector of secondary education in Edinburgh is at a disadvantage in his choice of career, his prospects of entry to university, and so on, later in life.
The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock referred to the point made in 1969 by my late hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty, Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie. He was speaking with the authority, to which I cannot pretend, of a former convener of education in his county, and he was criticising the basic snobbery behind this proposal. He was a man—I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman said about him—who had all his life fought that sort of attitude in our society.
The Secretary of State has talked of the prestige of the great fee-paying schools. They have it. In Edinburgh, James Gillespie's and the Royal High have brand new, marvellous buildings as well. They are well equipped. This is a consequence of the policy which I have described. If the whole of public attention and prestige is centred on certain schools, it will tend to follow, whether as a matter of deliberate policy or of accident, that resources are piled into these places to maintain their prestige and reputation, while the non fee-paying schools will tend, certainly in the older parts of the city, to carry on in older buildings and receive altogether less attention.
I have found in the last year that there has been a genuine change of heart among people in the middle-income group in Edinburgh. They had forebodings about what was done in the 1969 Act. We must understand that. For parents with children at present at school, the changes over a period of some five years or so would obviously present considerable upheaval, and there was, therefore, 455 a good deal of resistance. But I believe that parents in that income group with children below school entry age were looking forward to a situation which would have sorted itself out by the time their children would go to school, and they were genuinely looking to the time when they would not constantly face the dilemma of whether to pay fees, whether to try to opt out of the non-fee-paying and non-selective sector of education.
The logic of the Bill will lead to some peculiar distortions. The chairman of the City of Edinburgh Liberal Party tells me that the convener of education in Edinburgh, Councillor Knox, told parents—whether at a meeting or not, I am not sure—in the Cramond area recently that there was no need for them to demand an extra large primary school in Cramond because they could perfectly well afford to send their children to fee-paying schools. That is where the logic of the Bill leads, producing a totally divided system of education.
We ought to look at this matter not only from the standpoint of the parents and pupils but from the standpoint of the teaching profession, too. In this connection, I thought that the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) was most valuable. Teachers themselves are entitled to expect that, when they enter the profession, they, too, will not have to make the choice, if they go into certain local authority areas such as Edinburgh, between two basically different types of school.
This is the first Measure on education put before us by the new Government. Eighteen per cent. of our children in Scotland in primary schools, a much larger proportion than in England, are in classes of over 40. If we go ahead with the raising of the school-leaving age, Glasgow alone will be 700 or 800 teachers short. There are many other measures to which Ministers ought to be bending their minds. The fact that they rate this Bill as a priority Measure is a significant indication of their general political philosophy.
§ 6.39 p.m.
Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)
To hear a lone Liberal, who is here only by the skin of his teeth, talking about 456 mandates is pretty rich. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) also referred to whether we had a mandate to do this or that. The right hon. Gentleman should be rather careful. His party scored a lower percentage of the votes cast in Scotland at the last General Election than at any election since 1935. It was certainly well below 50 per cent.
In the context of mandates, we are dealing with a Bill which is applicable specifically to Edinburgh. There, out of seven seats, four are Conservative seats. A verdict of four out of seven shows that the people of Edinburgh presumably support such moves as fee-paying schools. I can honestly tell the right hon. Gentleman that a good many representations have been made to me on the subject and that for every representation which has been made to me against fee-paying schools, I have had at least 10 saying, "Please bring back fee-paying schools". That is my experience.
Earl of Dalkeith
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that an irrelevant intervention like that is likely to sidetrack me, he is probably right.
A great many arguments have been adduced on this subject over the last year-and-a-half. They have been rehearsed backwards and forwards. I fully subscribe to the view of the Chair that tedious repetition is not necessarily desirable. With some immodesty, however, I make one exception to that, and that is when I have made a particularly good point which I propose to try to repeat tonight.
One argument which transcends all others concerning fee-paying schools is that it should be a matter for decision by the local authority. I believe in devolution to the extent that in matters such as this, responsible local authorities like Edinburgh and Glasgow should be allowed to make up their own minds whether it is right that they should have fee-paying schools. That has been the general situation in Scotland over the years irrespective of the political complexion of local authorities. Some have decided to get rid of fee-paying schools and others have kept them.
457 This has not been a party political issue up till now. It is only right hon. and hon. Members opposite who seek to make it a party political issue. It is they who introduce arguments about its being socially divisive. It is something which they have whipped up. I plead with them occasionally to regard devolution as being good and to realise that people are able to make up their own minds in places like Edinburgh and Glasgow.
In Edinburgh, of course, it is a very important matter. About 7.5 per cent. of primary schoolchildren are at fee-paying schools, and in secondary schools 16 per cent. It is, therefore, a sizeable number of children. Parents are always making representations to me that they should be allowed to have freedom of choice. The Conservative Government believe in freedom of choice and for that reason I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on introducing the Bill.
§ Mr. David Steel
The noble Lord, who is a constituent of mine, must know that many people from Edinburgh come down to the Borders and envy our educational system. They regret that they have to make this wretched choice in the City of Edinburgh and wish that they did not have to make it. If we could re-jig the educational system so that people were not forced into making this horrible choice, they would welcome the change. That view has certainly been expressed when they have looked at the educational system elsewhere in Scotland.
Earl of Dalkeith
That is a ridiculous argument. The hon. Member will be suggesting presently that housewives who go shopping deplore having to make a horrible choice between bananas and oranges. No doubt, the hon. Member would suggest that they should be offered bananas only. That is most illogical. In talking, as he did, about apartheid, the hon. Member was being more ridiculous than people who seek Communists behind every hush. I hope that he will not pursue that line again, particularly as a Liberal. It is a most illiberal line of thought.
I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward the Bill. I ask him to ensure that local authorities will have the right to decide for themselves whether to have fee-paying schools. 458 That is the transcending argument in favour of the Bill.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)
It is with more than the usual nervousness of someone making his maiden speech that I make mine as a Member for an English constituency intervening in this debate about Scottish education, but I shall explain presently my special interest in the subject.
First, however, I should like to pay tribute to my predecessor, whose seat I took when he retired at the recent General Election—Mr. Charles Mapp, who was well known in the House, a fine constituency Member and a man who built up his majority at each succeeding election on the basis of his friendship with the electorate and his keenness to serve Oldham, East. He was particularly interested in housing and was a well-known and authoritative speaker on that subject in the House. I am glad to be able to report that he is enjoying his retirement, just as is Mr. Manuel.
I should like to say something, too, about Oldham. It is not the most romantic of places, particularly when going there from Scotland, but the country surrounding Oldham is beautful. The road from Huddersfield to Oldham enables one to see some magnificent views of the West Riding of Yorkshire and it is surprising, when one dips down from that road into Oldham, to find such an industrialised town.
Oldham has, of course, been based upon the cotton industry, which has been severely hit during the last two or three decades, but I am glad to say that it is recovering and that new industry is coming in. I should, however, like to have spoken in earlier debates about the necessity of making an area like Oldham a development area, so that it might have shared in the prosperity which was brought to Scotland by the policies of the former Government, which were very successful in the part of Scotland where I reside.
I promised to explain my interest in Scottish education. As you may have guessed from my accent, Mr. Speaker, I am a Scot resident in Aberdeen. I have been very glad to see my Member of Parliament here today taking a keen interest in the debate, although I hope 459 that he does not intervene to say that there is a great demand in Aberdeen for the return of fee-paying schools, because I could quickly disprove that.
I have been a member of the education committee in Aberdeen for some years and I well remember the battles that we had when trying to pursue a progressive, enlightened, forward-looking education policy. It was way back in time that we abolished fee paying in our local authority schools. There was a considerable outcry at the time and an attempt was made—not on our part, but by our opponents—to make this a political issue. As time has passed, however, and we have progressed—I think that our education commitee is one of the most progressive in Scotland—this matter has been completely forgotten. It was not mentioned at all by anyone to whom I spoke during the recent election campaign in Aberdeen, nor has it been referred to for many years, because the people now realise that it is an irrelevancy when one considers the standard of education that one wants for a city. It plays no part in deciding whether a school is a good school or a bad one.
I am sorry to see this as the Government's first Bill about Scottish education. There are many problems in Scottish education and we have heard about some of them today, for the debate has widened considerably. They include a lack of modern schools, not sufficiently rapid modernisation of old schools, shortage of teachers, and shortage of money. They all come down to shortage of money. If the Government are trying to justify the Bill on the ground that it will provide money for Scottish education, they do not grasp the magnitude of the problem, for the amount involved will not begin to meet the great need for much more money for Scottish education.
I appreciate how much was done by the Labour Government, as much as they were able to do, imprisoned as they were by severe financial difficulties, and I appreciate that the new Government have financial difficulties. But to scrape the bottom of the barrel and to justify a Bill of this kind by saying that it will give financial help to local authorities in difficulty is a nonsense.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Sir John Gilmour (Fife, East)
I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) on making his maiden speech on Scottish education. It is refreshing to find a Scotsman who has sought a constituency outside Scotland but has taken the opportunity to make a maiden speech about education in his native country. We all greatly appreciated what the hon. Gentleman said.
We have had three maiden speeches today and all three hon. Members demonstrated that they were well able to stand up and speak up for themselves. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) is not now here, because I should have liked to cross swords with him when he said that it was not difficult to remain a Labour Member of Parliament in Scotland. I was delighted to hear how Archie Manuel was enjoying his fishing, but had he been here, I should have reminded him that he lost his seat to Douglas Nairn, who died this week.
As so much of the heat and controversy surrounding the Bill concern Edinburgh and Glasgow, as a country Member I should like to approach the subject slightly differently. The major difficulties in education are probably centred in the larger cities. While it may be dangerous to generalise, might it not be wise to approach the Bill with a view to providing adequate education facilities in our cities? We must be certain that any steps we take will improve those facilities.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) said—I hope that this is not true—that children who were not going to the fee-paying schools in Edinburgh were getting a second-class education. In an excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) gave the figures to show that 7½ per cent. of primary school pupils in Edinburgh were in fee-paying schools and 16 per cent. of the secondary school pupils. This means that in Edinburgh the vast majority of pupils are in non-fee-paying schools. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles says that these children are getting a second-class education.
461 If that is so, is the hon. Gentleman convinced that by getting rid of the fee-paying schools we shall help the other children? If he can prove that, he may make me change my mind. What are the results of the examinations? Do children who go to fee-paying schools have better results than the others? We may get an authoritative answer from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, but I have the impression that the former have slightly better academic results.
It may be argued that that is unfair, but the hon. Member also said that a certain number of the best pupils were creamed off by the fee-paying schools while the rest were there because of their money. I do not believe that any hon. Member would have any justification for saying that a child was more intelligent if his parents had money. It therefore appears from the hon. Member's argument that the fee-paying schools in some way have a slightly superior system, for they seem to be producing better results.
§ Mr. Douglas
I am somewhat disturbed by the arguments of the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour), who is my Member of Parliament. I trust that he will not import into the County of Fife, with its noble tradition of education and its system and standards, the type of fee-paying school which seems to be prevalent in Edinburgh and other parts of the country. I am sure that Labour councillors in Fife and elsewhere would strenuously oppose such a suggestion.
§ Sir J. Gilmour
As the hon. Member knows, we had fee-paying schools in Fife, but they have been abolished. It is the whole tenor of my argument that I am prepared to be convinced that all fee-paying schools should be abolished so long as good reason can be shown for doing so.
What is worrying me is that I heard the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles claim that pupils who were not going to fee-paying schools in Edinburgh were getting a second-class education. Unless he can show me that by abolishing fee-paying schools he can raise the whole standard, I shall argue that it would be better to keep fee-paying schools and see what can be done to raise the others to that standard.
§ Mr. John Smith
The hon. Gentleman wonders why there are slightly better 462 results in the fee-paying schools in Edinburgh than in the State schools. One pertinent reason is that classes in fee-paying schools are universally smaller, that there are more teachers per pupil than in the State system. When resources are so allocated, is he surprised that fee-paying schools do better?
§ Sir J. Gilmour
If that is so, and I am prepared to accept what the hon. Gentleman says, surely the next argument is not to get the fee-paying schools down to the average ratio of teachers, but to take steps to see that sufficient teachers are recruited to raise the State schools to the better average. Surely that is a better way in which to set about making an improvement. It should be remembered that the parents concerned, in addition to paying fees, are already paying full taxes and full rates.
The historical background has been mentioned and it has been recalled that in 1944 fee-paying schools in England were abolished. What was the climate of financial affluence at the time? What did people believe would happen in the immediate post-war years? Are we so certain that if it were right to abolish fee-paying schools in England in 1944, it is now the right way to set about improving education facilities in Scotland for the 1970's and 1980's?
Because of the vicissitudes of elections, the political control of a council may change from election to election. Control of one city in Scotland was recently decided by a draw out of a hat, or a pack of cards. Is it good for education for schools to be controlled at one moment by one political party which will retain fee-paying schools and at the next by a party which will abolish fees? There must not be such a see-saw.
Quite apart from what is said in debate and in Committee and the result of the elections in Scotland next May, those who are interested in these schools would be wise to have a long, hard look to see whether this is the only way out of the difficulty of bringing in parental choice and allowing people to make a contribution. No hon. Member can say that making a contribution to the cost of education will not help. The hon. Member for Oldham, East said that this is only a drop in the bucket, but all drops in buckets collect together and make a lot of liquid in the long run. 463 Not only in education but in other spheres people should be encouraged to make a choice how they employ their money so that it will do the most good. This should apply to the National Health Service as well as to education. Is it right to deny people the opportunity to do this?
§ Mr. William Hannan
May I get clear exactly what the hon. Gentleman is proposing? Is he arguing that the payment of fees should be extended beyond the provisions in the Bill and that fees should be charged for all schools? Will he clear up the contradiction between what he says and what the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education said—that the question was not fees, but selectivity? I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will confirm that.
§ Sir J. Gilmour
I cannot clear up contradictions between hon. Members and my hon. Friend; that must be between them. The contradiction which I find is that we are saying that we will give local authorities power to levy fees—not that they must do so—which means that it is likely that one authority will charge fees and another one will not, with the result that the legislation will be brought into disrepute. If the choice that is given to people to make a contribution towards improving the standards of education does not work in that way, I suggest that the school authorities should find another way of doing it. Offhand I do not see a way, but it is worth thinking about.
§ Mr. Lawson
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether he is talking about parents paying money to improve education in Scotland as a whole or paying a little extra so that their own children may get more than other children?
§ Sir J. Gilmour
I am arguing not that some children should get more than others, but that competition between schools is good for education. In my constituency there is competition between the schools in Cupar and St. Andrew's.
§ Sir J. Gilmour
Education has to do with more than money. You will agree, 464 Mr. Speaker, that money does not produce the best teaching—
§ Sir J. Gilmour
I beg your pardon. It is not finance that necessarily produces the most dedicated teachers and the best schools.
I believe that it is better on balance to retain the present system, but I am not certain that it will last well into the future. Unless it can be shown that by abolishing fees the standard of education in Scotland will be raised, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should consider whether in the long run this is the best way out of the difficulty. I wholeheartedly support the Measure.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)
I am pleased to be able to take part in the debate. I have a big constituency interest in selective schools and until now I have not been able to participate in the debate on the fee-paying schools, or the selective schools. I have read the previous Second Reading debate and most of the Committee proceedings and the subject has been well ventilated in the House. I would like to come back to the point made by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) criticising my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) for crying "Eton, Eton, Eton", and suggesting that my right hon. Friend always brought Eton into the debate. Of the four back-bench hon. Members on the Government side who have spoken three are Etonians, and this has some relevance in a debate on Scottish education.
§ Sir J. Gilmour
I am one of the hon. Members mentioned who has been to Eton. I claim that Eton is a fully comprehensive school and, having been there, I can say that I am dedicated to comprehensive education.
§ Mr. Carmichael
I will recount what Sydney Silverman upheld to a gentleman who said that he had been at Harrow. Sydney Silverman said, "Harrow must have been comprehensive or you would never have got in." I do not mean this remark to apply to the hon. Gentleman, but it is relevant to the debate.
§ Mr. MacArthur
Who is the third hon. Member on this side of the House who has been at Eton? If the hon. Gentleman is referring to me, I was not.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I have four children in State schools in Scotland. I do not know to whom the hon. Gentleman is referring.
§ Mr. Carmichael
The debate had gone on to a low key or I should not have raised this, but if the hon. Member will go over the hon. Members who have spoken on this side he will find there are at least two.
§ Mr. Buchan
I think my hon. Friend is right. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour), the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) and the aristocratic hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) are all Etonians.
§ Mr. Carmichael
This is not a cheap point; it is a relevant point. I know that the Under-Secretary of State who will be winding up the debate feels strongly that until the Scottish Conservatives begin to represent the people of Scotland they will never have more than 22 or 23 seats. It was when the Glasgow, Cathcart Young Conservatives struck out on a new line that they began to get places, because they broke away from their traditional image. I am glad that the old ties were able to strangle the Cathcart Young Conservatives so keeping them within Cathcart and not letting them out, so that we have 43 Labour constituencies and about 20 Tory constituencies in Scotland.
The question of measuring the intelligence of young children on their entry to fee-paying schools was raised by several hon. Members. I have a strong constituency interest here. Woodside has a much higher proportion of children at fee-paying schools than any other constituency, including that of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) which probably comes second. In the constituency which I represent and in which I live there are several nursery schools for training children to sit for the entry examinations to fee-paying schools. 466 I think that we should continue to call them selective schools. "Fee-paying" is a complete red herring.
My daughter was at one of these nursery schools with no intention of going on to a selective school. On some occasions when I went to collect her at lunchtime, I saw kids of four and a half running out of the school and I heard them saying, "Mummy, mummy, has a letter come for me?" They were waiting for the results of examinations for entry to three or four of the selective schools. These kids—they were not kids; they were babies—knew at four and a half whether they were failures, because, no matter how their parents tried, the tension was there.
One of these nursery schools is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Hillhead. I saw this many times. I have lived with this tension of many parents gathered at the school gates wondering which examinations their children were in for and how they had done. Neither my wife nor I had any intention or thought of having our child involved in that kind of atmosphere.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
Has the hon. Gentleman had experience of children trying to get into a university and the tension that that involves when they are at a more impressionable age?
§ Mr. Carmichael
The hon. Gentleman is rather conceding that privilege is involved in selective schools enabling children to do much better in university entrance examinations because they are at selective schools. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the tension is better or that the cachet of having been at a selective school gives a child a better chance? There are many in Glasgow who feel that with that cachet, all else being equal, they will get in. In fact, certain educationists in Glasgow have said publicly that, all else being equal, the child from the better family will be accepted.
There is another side to it.
Mr. Edward Taylor
If this kind of thing has been said, may I ask whether there is any evidence of it? This kind of argument about discrimination in universities and schools is not fair unless the hon. Gentleman has any hard evidence. Has he?
§ Mr. Carmichael
I cannot at the moment give the hon. Gentleman the quotation. I have read it. I will give the hon. Gentleman the quotation later. It is from an educationist in the city who said that, all else being equal, he would take the child from the superior home. I will make the point and give the hon. Gentleman the quotation later. I am sure it is taken as a matter of course, but there is a quotation.
I am concerned about the child who does not manage to get in. There have been one or two particularly tragic cases of children who did not get in when all the children in the neighbourhood did—particularly in a school like Hillhead. I must be honest. I am more concerned about the well being of the child than the type of school. If I lived within the catchment area of Hillhead School, round about Cecil Street, I should be tempted to send my child, despite my principles, to Hillhead, because I should not want her to be completely distinguished at an early age. This is what happens if a child is unable to get into a selective school.
A number of cases have been brought to my attention which are even worse than a child not getting into a particular school when all his friends have. These cases concern families where the eldest child has got in but the other children have not. So it not merely a pecking order within the district, as the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) said, but within the family.
Having spoken to many parents who are ambitious for their children, I believe that they go about it the wrong way. They think that they are doing their best for their children, but, in doing so, they cause them great tension, particularly if there is a split in the family when one child gets through its test and the other does not. The situation in the family is then well nigh unbearable. I can give some terrible examples of this happening.
I believe that the selective school is too inflexible. Strangely enough, everybody has been telling us that it is more flexible to have this choice. I hope that my hon. Friends have shown that there is no choice at all. It is a myth to suggest that there is any choice for the majority of people in Glasgow or Edinburgh. The majority have no choice at all. The selective schools, as we know them today, 468 are a reflection of the public schools in England. Public schools served their day, but they are out of date with the movement of the world now.
The hon. Member for Hillhead suggested that we are always trying to change and looking for something new in education. One reason is that the world is moving very quickly and we must keep adapting and continue to look for new methods of educations. The methods of the public schools were fine for the days of empire when this was important. But we are moving to a totally different type of situation now. The public schools system and its reflection in our selective schools goes right through the whole educational system. The bright boys and girls are given the most attention. In my area there is no doubt that the highest class is classics; next comes the double language class, and so on down the scale. Therefore, within the schools there is this division. We are in grave danger, if we are unable to reverse the situation, of getting a system of education where the best will not be brought out of each pupil. The bright children will be forced into the classical class, because socially that is regarded as the best class for the child, and children with the greatest—
§ Mr. Carmichael
I wish I were. My information from parents and schools is that the classics and double language classes are still considered the highest in the school. I am sure that when the next Government—a Labour Government—introduce legislation to get rid of selectivity, Glasgow at least will have moved with the times and will not be required to abolish this system which is anachronistic, petty and disruptive to social order in our cities.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)
I very much welcome this opportunity of speaking to the Bill. I particularly welcome the straightforward and commonsense way in which it was proposed by my right hon. Friend.
469 Having listened to the debate for about three hours, I am struck by the pragmatic, empiric, reasonable attitude which has been adopted by nearly every hon. Member on this side, compared with the rather doctrinaire dogma invective which, with one or two exceptions, has poured out from hon. Gentlemen opposite. This indicates a certain basic logic and reasonableness on this side of the House.
I am particularly glad that we are at last getting a little of that into this whole question of education because it seems to me, and no doubt to many of my hon. Friends, that for some years there has been an awful lack of commonsense and, indeed, a lack of awareness of the interests of the children and of the parents. These have for too long been ignored and forgotten. Instead, we have had these rather dubious and ill-documented theories about comprehensive education, selectivity and so on, from hon. Gentlemen opposite, with their vague and often irrelevant ideas of social engineering. They are irrelevant to the main purpose of education, which is to educate the child, and not to alter the structure of society. I am glad that my right hon. and hon. Friends are to put an end to this nonsense, I hope once and for all, and to reinstate a system which the parents endorse.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has left the Chamber, because I wanted to refer to something that he said, but perhaps I would nevertheless be in order to take up the point because it was raised by one or two other hon. Gentlemen. The right hon. Gentleman claimed at one stage that parents did not endorse this fee-paying system, but in almost the next breath he said that so many parents were queueing up to get their children into these schools that there was no room for them. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. That is precisely what freedom of choice means. If parents want to send their children to fee-paying schools, they should be allowed to do so. If they do not want to send their children to such schools, they will not.
In his excellent maiden speech, the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) brought up the question of Aberdeen, and he is right in saying that we shall not have a problem there as 470 long as he is Lord Provost. I am sorry that he is leaving that appointment. No doubt he and his friends will not reintroduce the system but if, in May, the Conservatives and Progressives get back, and they want to introduce this system, and the people of Aberdeen want it, we say that they should have the chance of bringing in this system. Surely nobody can object to people being given a chance to make up their own minds? That is all we are saying, and the same applies to Edinburgh, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel).
§ Mr. Buchan
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has given us that information about Aberdeen. He must understand that there is no contradiction between parents objecting to the fee-paying system and still queueing up to get their children into such schools, because the existence of the situation forces parents into competing for entrance. This is the problem. In Edinburgh the people who do not wish to have the fee-paying system nevertheless have to continue it. There is no contradiction there. I wish that the hon. Gentleman would think a bit more.
§ Mr. Sproat
I think adequately, I hope. I simply do not accept that. It is demonstrable rubbish, as is shown by the fact that so many parents in Edinburgh put in a Conservative and Progressive Council. They want this system there. They have what they want, and I am glad that my right hon. and hon. Friends intend to see that other places have the chance to give parents the opportunity to make a choice if they want it.
The only thing that should count is the ability of the child. What we are doing is introducing a system which gives every child the opportunity to have the education best suited to him. That is all that we are standing out for. The objective of creating the maximum opportunity for every child to do the best for himself and to grow up in the academic atmosphere best suited to him is one which in my opinion the Bill advances. There are, therefore, a number of grounds on which I support it.
The first ground is this whole question of quality and high standards in these fee-paying local authority schools. They 471 provide a very high standard of education, indeed. I do not think that there is any doubt about that. In fact, it is evident from the number of university places that they win. It is evident, too, from the fact that so many parents wish to send their children to them. I therefore say that there is no serious dispute about the fact that these schools provide a high standard of education.
It seems to me almost incredible that hon. Gentlemen opposite should wish to tear down and destroy something that is good, something that is in fact excellent, something that has been of so much benefit to the children of Scotland and to Scotland itself over the centuries. Their attitude seems almost incredible, especially at a time when, as we have heard this afternoon, education in Scotland is in such bad shape. When things are bad, one does not tear down what is good. One tries to build what is bad up to the standard of what is good.
§ Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)
Can the hon. Gentleman explain how the abolition of fee-paying schools by the local authority in Aberdeen tore down the structure of education in that city? What is he doing to restore it?
§ Mr. Sproat
That was before my time. It is not my business to interfere in local authority matters. One thing that hon. Gentlemen opposite fail to realise is that we are not telling anybody to do anything. We are giving other people the power to do it if they want to. I made this point to the hon. Member for Oldham, East. If his lot are thrown out in May, which I hope they are, the new lot coming in will have a chance to respond to the wishes of the people, if those are their wishes. That is all that we say.
To tear down something that is excellent—and nobody disputed it when I said that these schools provided high standards—is an educational crime of great magnitude. I am glad that we are not going to do it, and that we are reversing what hon. Gentlemen opposite did.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
I should like to point out to the hon. Gentleman that about two years ago, by some misfortune, his "lot" as he referred to them gained control of the City of Aberdeen. Since 472 then, whenever they have attempted to interfere with the comprehensive system of education put forward by the Labour Party they have been smartly turned out. They have done nothing but lose seats since then, and they have no chance in May.
§ Mr. Sproat
That is a matter of opinion, but I advise the hon. Gentleman not to make it a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. It does not mean that just because they were anti-comprehensive education they were thrown out. I think that the hon. Gentleman may get a big shock next May.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to hold the curious opinion that if everybody cannot have something, then nobody should have it. This seems to me appalling. It is egalitarianism gone mad. It is harmful to the best interests of the children. It is harmful to the best interests of society. I am therefore glad that my right hon. and hon. Friends will not connive at the destruction of excellence in our schools and are determined to strengthen and build up high standards and quality.
There is another ground on which I welcome the Bill. There are those who object to this Measure because it contains an element of payment and an element of selectivity. I do not want to go into the question of payment because that was dealt with by my right hon. Friend, but £20 to £40 a year does not seem a gross imposition, particularly when there are bursaries, provision for free books, and so on.
Nor do I want to go in detail into the question of selectivity, but in a reasonable and gentle speech my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) asked for evidence that selectivity was bad, and that comprehensive education had proved its worth. I believe that when streaming takes place in comprehensive schools nine out of 10 children remain in the stream in which they were put when they started. I am all for flexibility, but it shows that it may be difficult to draw a line in these matters. But, because it is difficult, it does not mean that a line has not to be drawn. As my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) said, the line has to be drawn somewhere, otherwise one gets a ludicrous situation in 473 which one says that everybody should go to university. There must be selectivity somewhere. In this particular case, I support the Bill because it seems to me that the element of selectivity has given us a higher standard in education, and that is what we so desperately need at this time.
Also, we have heard a lot of play with this word "divisive" and we have seen the usual Pavlovian reactions we get from the other side of the House whenever this syndrome comes up in any form. I entirely disagree that this system is divisive and that it is harmful. On the contrary, I believe that if this system were scrapped for ever it would be unfair. Indeed it would—not for the reasons hon. Gentlemen opposite are stating. It would be unfair to the bright child and the clever child. I can never understand why it is that hon. Gentlemen on the other side will rightly admit that children who are less clever, who are disabled in some way, need special care and attention, as indeed they do, but, having admitted that, still refuse to admit that the clever child, the intelligent child, equally needs special care and attention—to bring him on. It is no use the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie) saying "Nonsense". If he wants to interrupt let him get up and say so.
§ Mr. Sproat
I am very sorry if I have wronged the hon. Gentleman. I thought he said "Nonsense", but if he did not do so I apologise to him.
§ Mr. Sproat
It is certainly true to say that the non-fee-paying schools in Scotland give a very good education indeed. That has been admitted, although some disturbing things were said by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles about this which I sincerely hope are not true in Edinburgh. They do give a good education, but it is also equally indisputable that fee-paying local authority schools are generally regarded as giving education more suited to the abilities of the gifted child—[Interruption.] a "better education", if hon. Members like, but I am not going to split 474 words with the hon. Member: a better education—but that means giving intelligent children a better chance of developing their own abilities completely and fully.
I believe that bright children, intelligent children, are entitled to be given this sort of educational atmosphere. They should have it. Bright children should not be sacrificed on the altar of Socialist principles, as hon. Members opposite would seek to do. Their futures should not be put at risk because of the passing and crude fashions which happen to take the fancy of hon. Gentlemen oposite. Yet this is what would happen if hon. Gentlemen opposite had their way.
We in Scotland have a long tradition of bringing forward the bright children from whatever part of the community they come, of giving them the chance to develop their abilities to the fullest. This is what we seek to continue and encourage by this Bill. That is a tradition which, as I say, I believe we must preserve. That is the equality in which we on this side of the House believe, the equality of opportunity for every child to have the best schooling suited to his abilities, and not the spurious egalitarianism we have had from the other side of the House this evening, which tends in the long run—I defy anybody to disprove it—to reduce the general standard to the level of the lowest, or towards the level of the lowest. This is an appalling thing which hon. Gentlemen opposite will not recognise. What we on this side are standing up for is equality in education for every child whatever his background, whatever his parents do, if he has the ability.
Further, it is very interesting that staying on at school after 15 is something which is done much more in fee-paying schools. It is something which both sides of the House want, provided we get the staffing and the buildings, as we hope. On both sides of the House we want to see that, and I cannot understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite seek to put a block in the way of the child wanting to stay on at school. It seems self-evident from the information we have that the boys and girls in these schools learn to value education, learn the meaning and value of education, and so do want to stay on, and give themselves a fuller life.
475 Another reason why I welcome this Bill and which I just want to touch on is that it does guarantee a measure of freedom of choice for parents. This is a principle which I entirely endorse. I would just pick up what was said by my right hon. Friend, how vital this is in religious education. I am very glad that this debate here this evening has set at rest many worries which particularly Roman Catholics have had about what hon. Gentlemen on the other side would have done if they could have had their way.
§ Mr. Sproat
Not at all. This is a perfectly fair thing to say. Ask the Archbishop in Glasgow what he thinks about it.
§ Mr. Dempsey
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State went on the radio and broadcast a speech in which he said that the Labour Government and their members stood by the famous Education Act. 1918, which guaranteed the right of Roman Catholics to have their own schools and appoint their own teachers?
§ Mr. Sproat
I think there is a difference of opinion between what you hold and what other hon. Members opposite hold in this matter.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. The hon. Member must remember that I do not hold anything.
§ Mr. Sproat
I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
However, returning to the question of freedom of choice in education, I hope that my hon. Friend will confirm tonight that we on this side of the House believe that, within an acceptable educational framework, what we want to do is to give maximum choice to the parents and to exercise minimum compulsion by the Government. That is our maxim. That is what we are going to stand by. As I said earlier I do not think this is affected by the fees element in this case at all with the provision of bursaries, free books, and so on.
With regard to this whole question of freedom of choice of parents there is one 476 small point which I should like to make. If we are to try to attract new industry to Scotland it is very important to realise that one of the factors, which particularly business executives look for, is excellence in education. Until now we in Scotland have had this excellence and I very much hope that we shall continue to have it. This will continue to be a factor. Also we must get better housing, if we are to attract business executives and business prosperity to Scotland.
Talking of housing, I would say that one of the most obnoxious results of the policies advocated by hon. Gentlemen opposite—it has been referred to already—is the breeding of educational "ghettoes". I must say this it is a very unpleasant phrase, and I do not like to give it further currency, although, happily, its connotations and circumstances are not known in our country. However unpleasant a phrase it may be, it is also a very unpleasant thing. On many occasions it has been said by hon. Members opposite and others that parents, in order to be able to obtain for their children a better education, want to buy houses in areas where there are good schools. This seems to me the most odious way of buying one's way into better education for one's children, and I am surprised that hon. Members opposite will not recognise this. Indeed, the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles—I am sorry he is not here—used the word "apartheid". I hope that hon. Members on both sides will try to avoid the use of extreme language. I know that a number of us here have seen apartheid in South Africa. It is totally abhorrent to us, and to take a word like that and to apply it to a system of education like this is absolutely grotesque and devalues the currency of political thought. I hope that hon. Members will desist from that.
The last reason I have for welcoming the Bill is, as I said, that it establishes a variety of types of education and also gives freedom of choice to the parents. I must say that I welcome any sensible extension of this variety and of this freedom, but I fear that the proclivities of hon. Members on the other side of the House, are in favour of trying to reduce this variety and this freedom. What has been borne out by one or two speeches of hon. Members opposite is that their destruction of educational excellence 477 would not stop at destroying the fee-paying local authority schools, criminal though that would be. They would go further down the path of destruction.
I think that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) put this totally unambiguously when he said that he wanted to destroy every type of education in Scotland that was not local authority non-fee-paying. If I am doing him an injustice I am sorry, but that was my understanding, and certainly plenty of hon. Members opposite believe that and would like to destroy the great grant-aided schools of Scotland.
We have Robert Gordon's in Aberdeen, an institution of the highest academic excellence. I say that it is threatened by the attitude of hon. Members opposite, that they would do away with it, if they dared, and if they were in power, and would deny the children of Aberdeen the opportunity, which children there have had for so long, of going to this great school and benefiting from this sort of education.
Mr. Clark Hutcheson
Could my hon. Friend explain how the Aberdeen Grammar School has been destroyed by the Socialist Party and their beliefs—a school dating far back in history, which my own son attended at one time?
§ Mr. Sproat
I agree with the implications of my hon. Friend's remark. It is a tragedy. In Aberdeen, we had, and thankfully still have, some of these splendid schools which were "mucked about" by the gentlemen of Aberdeen Town Council, of the same party as hon. Gentlemen opposite, who look like spoiling an excellent school with traditions long-rooted in Scotland's past, which has given great service to Scotland and which should go on doing so. I hope that it has not been spoiled beyond redemption, but it has been spoiled and that is typical of what hon. Gentlemen opposite do when they try to put their absurd social engineering theories into practice at the expense of the children of our great cities.
The principle for which the Bill stands is vital. I am very glad that my right hon. Friends have done this, because it seems to me that they are taking a stand for the other educational institutions—certainly the grant-aided schools, and no doubt the independent public 478 schools which hon. Gentlemen opposite would also like to destroy. They want to destroy the great educational institutions of Scotland. We will not let them: since that is what I take to be my right hon. Friend's intention, I greatly welcome the Bill.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)
There is little to be said for the Bill except possibly that it is introduced in fulfilment of an election pledge. But it is a pledge which would have been better left in the pawnshop. The Conservative Party, if they are technically in a position to implement their promise, are presenting a Bill for electoral and political reasons in fulfilment of a pledge, and not, so far as I can see—certainly not from anything I heard in the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat), which lasted for almost 25 minutes—with anything of an educational reason to justify the Bill. That is an important point to stress.
Not only is this a miserable Bill, as has already been said, masquerading in the guise of an enlargement of freedom: it is also a mean Bill, because it is trading upon the natural anxiety of parents to do what they can, to sacrifice themselves to do what they consider is best for their children. Any parent, when the Bill is passed, and when local authorities act upon it, may feel that, by paying the fees asked—£20 to £40, estimated by hon. Members opposite—he is in some way getting something better for their children.
Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) very fluently and clearly stated the dilemna of parents in Edinburgh. There is, to echo a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan), no contradiction whatever between a parent opposing a system with which he disagrees and doing the best he can within the system for his children. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are presenting themselves in an unnecessarily bad light by maintaining such a callous and superficial view of human nature. This is a matter deeply felt by many of their own constituents and certainly by many of our constituents. It is a matter of great importance. This is a mean Bill, because it is trading upon 479 this essential parental anxiety to do what can be done for one's children.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles pointed the dilemma and also made the observation, with which I do not agree, that the non-fee-paying schools in Edinburgh are second-rate, apartheid schools, or something of the sort. That is not correct, but then, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South cannot have it both ways. If the schools are just as good as the corporation fee-paying schools, is it not a fraud to impose some fee on parents who want to send their children to the fee-paying schools? That dilemma must be answered. What is the point of this payment? The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond), in an excellent maiden speech, pointed out that the contribution which these can make in economics is puny and negligible. It cannot seriously be put forward by the party opposite that this has any contribution to make.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) was more honest than some of his colleagues, because he went the whole hog and said that he would like to see fee paying applied on an economic system. If that is his view—unfortunately, he is not here at the moment—he is bound to vote against the Bill, because the Bill proposes to introduce only a limited right to charge fees, where he is seeking an unlimited right.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) referred to the social mix and pointed out that people can buy houses in the catchment area of the schools to which they desire to send their children. Nothing can be done about that under any system. It exists under any system, so it is wrong to use that as a criticism of a system which is held forth as being desirable for good educational reasons.
The hon. Member also suggested that there was something in the nature of a social mix brought about by fee-paying schools. This social mix is utterly illusory. The fact that one draws middle-class children from different parts of a city to a certain desirable school is no kind of social mix. The kind of social mix which is needed to create the one nation which hon. Gentlemen opposite maintained that they were seeking to 480 create is to bring the children from the slum schools of the slum areas of the city together with the middle-class children of the town.
May I suggest that the key to this debate is the question of comprehensive schooling? I should like to bring the debate back on to that key point. The criticism that I would make and that others have made from this side of this Bill is that it is, in principle, a destruction of the system of comprehensive schooling which is now widely accepted and which, contrary to what has been said by hon. Members opposite, is accepted by people of all parties and all political persuasions, indeed, of all social strata. Hon. Members opposite, in their cooler moments—this debate has not been one of them—will appreciate that comprehensive education is generally accepted and has a wide degree of consensus among members of their own local authorities, as well as among those which are Labour-controlled.
Could I remind the House—with your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, since it entails reading—of the advantages which are claimed for comprehensive schooling? It cannot be taken as a level in competition with another system of schooling. The source of my quotation is the Report of the Comprehensive Schools Committee, an all-party body sponsored by teachers, parents, university and training college staff, research workers and so on. It puts very clearly the merits of comprehensive schooling. It says:Comprehensive schools get rid of selection. Children are no longer labelled a 'success' or 'failure' at eleven.Comprehensive schools offer children a greater variety of courses and subjects and a wider choice of educational opportunities than they had under the old system.Every child has the opportunity to stay on at school after the school leaving age. More children than ever before are given the chance to reach O and A level standard and to go on to higher education in university or elsewhere.In many areas comprehensive schools make better use of scarce resources by concentrating pupils and staff and equipment in a single large school instead of dividing them up into two types of school.That is not a Socialist dogma but the view of members of all parties, of experts and educationists coming together and pooling their ideas. The document continues:Why can't we have both comprehensive schools and grammar schools? Comprehensive 481 schools are schools for children of all abilities. If the most successful eleven-year-olds continue to be sent to grammar schools, eleven plus selection remains, and comprehensive schools cease to be comprehensive and become in reality secondary moderns. It is as simple as that.We can either have the old system with selection for two types of school, or we can have a comprehensive system. We cannot have both.That is the sober conclusion of an all-party group.
The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles said that parents in Edinburgh have a genuine dilemma about which schools to send their children to, and this dilemma must not be underestimated. He also rightly stressed that the education system in Edinburgh and Leith is distorted and deformed by the large number of pupils who are taken out. I think that one hon. Member opposite put the proportion at about 23½ per cent. It is difficult to obtain precise figures now because the education system in Edinburgh and Leith is fluid. Various figures have been quoted, and all agree that the proportion is about one-quarter and may be as high as one-third. About that proportion of the pupils of Edinburgh and Leith go to fee-paying schools of one kind or another. It inevitably follows that the remaining part of the school population must go to Corporation schools that are non-fee paying.
I do not need to elaborate the point, because it was eloquently made by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, but it is quite clear that such a degree of selection by fee paying must distort the whole education scene in the city. Therefore, the problem for us in Edinburgh and Leith is proportionately more acute than it is even in Glasgow, where the number of fee-paying schools is smaller.
May I add one point in setting the scene, in enabling hon. Members to assess the size of the problem? One of my criticisms of the Bill is that it is a Measure brought forward early in this Parliament to deal with a problem which, though acute in its impact, especially in Edinburgh and to some extent in Glasgow, is a minority problem for the people of Scotland as a whole. If my arithmetic is correct, not more than 12 schools are involved. The number may be as small as nine. I have the impression that there were 12 fee-paying schools in Scotland in 482 1968 and that the number is now down to nine. I do not think that right hon. and hon. Members on the Front Bench opposite seriously maintain that there is any proposal to increase that number. Perhaps some people would wish to do so, but I do not think that the more responsible members of the Government are of that view.
§ Mr. Lawson
Is it not a wee bit indicative of education in Edinburgh, and the fact that Edinburgh has been run by the products of these schools for so long, that Edinburgh can perhaps rightly be called the filthy city, as it has not even produced a sewerage system?
§ Mr. Murray
I was not proposing to touch on the matter of sewage, but my hon. Friend's intervention was undoubtedly useful. Some snide remarks have been made about the city of Edinburgh in the debate. I am not sure that such remarks are of any assistance. The advancement of democracy and the democratic process are not to be achieved by snide remarks from one district or city to another.
§ Mr. Brewis
If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to advance democracy, why can he not leave this decision to the elected representatives on Edinburgh Corporation, who represent the people of Edinburgh?
§ Mr. Murray
The hon. Gentleman has a point, but I do not think that it is a good point. The overwhelming mass of educationists and people who have looked at the matter carefully, soberly and objectively have formed the view that there are not enough resources for education in terms of capacity for school buildings and otherwise. If the claims of hon. Members opposite on economy in government are valid, they must be well aware of our limited resources. In that situation, with limited resources of existing school buildings and those to be built, and a limited pool of skilled personnel for teaching purposes, the question answers itself. It is impossible to have the two systems. We do not have a choice here. One of my criticisms of the Bill is that what is held out as a choice is found on examination to be no choice at all. It is something of a confidence trick.
I do not doubt the Government's honesty. They are fulfilling an election pledge, but it is a bad pledge and a 483 retrograde step. Hon. Members opposite have forgotten that selection for some implies exclusion for others. There is no escape from that. What is to be the ground of that exclusion? There is some argument, though not one that I would accept, that there can be exclusion on educational grounds. But what the Bill offers is exclusion on a financial ground, which is the worst possible ground. It must be exclusion for some, because fees are paid by some for places which exclude others. There is no escape from the dilemma.
I have always been astonished that the party opposite seems to attach great importance to people paying for things, and the moral fibrosis which apparently develops in those who do not. I have never been able to understand why the Conservative Party is opposed to the principle of universal free education. There has already been reference to the astonishing fact that the Butler Act of 1944 abolished at a stroke fee-paying corporation and local authority schools in England and Wales, whereas today we are still debating whether that principle should be followed for Scotland.
Earl of Dalkeith
Would not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the situation in England and Wales is different from that in Scotland, because there are many more independent schools in England and Wales?
§ Mr. Murray
I certainly agree that the system is different, but I cannot see that there is a relevant difference. This is a point of principle.
What is astonishing to me is the theory of hon. Members opposite that there is a magic virtue in people if they pay for a commodity or service. I have never been able to understand how they can object to a universal, free system, because no one is stopping them from making the maximum contribution they can. There is nothing to stop parents who are keen on fee paying from paying fees. Even though their children are entitled to free education, they can send a cheque to the local authority for the fee. They can send £30, or £40 or the full economic amount. I have never been able to understand why this obvious, simple point does not seem to be appreciated 484 by hon. Members opposite. If there is virtue in paying, there is more virtue in the remedy I have suggested. The logical thing is to have a free system, and if there is moral virtue in paying let them pay in addition to their taxes.
I have mentioned the 1944 Act, and reference has been made to the other Education Acts that bear upon the matter and it is perfectly true that the Bill's provisions are not materially different from those of the consolidating Act of 1962. It is important, however, to face the fact that in the light of what is now known of comprehensive education and the advantages it can bring there is an anomaly which has already been pointed out, in the assumption in the re-enactment of Section 3(4) that it is possible to reconcile adequate provision of free education and a system of fee paying. That assumption is quite invalid, for the reasons I have already stated. So not only is this a mean Bill, but it is a Bill which perpetuates a fiction which will become more and more obvious. It has been becoming obvious in the past few years, but it will become more and more obvious as the years go by.
I want now to point what I have just said with one or two illustrations from Edinburgh and Leith. I maintain, and hope to prove to the satisfaction of the House, that the Bill is in substance an attack upon comprehensive education.
If one looks at the Bill and the principle it invokes one finds exactly what the result is on the scene in Edinburgh and Leith. In Edinburgh and Leith there were the beginnings of a scheme for comprehensive education. There were disputes still in 1970 between the then Secretary of State and the education committee of the Corporation of Edinburgh, but the glimmering of light was there. The beginnings of a good comprehensive system were on the horizon. That has been undone, and the victory of the Conservative Party in the General Election is directly responsible for it.
In the central part of the city, the principles invoked by the party opposite imply the continued use of Darroch School, which is not unfairly described as a school building of slum standard—
§ Mr. Murray
Yes, a slum school. That school will be continued as a technical annexe of Burghmuir. They imply the postponement of a full six-year comprehensive school for this area until the new fee-paying corporation school, James Gillespie's Girls, is built in another part of the city. The site which the present James Gillespie's Girls occupies cannot, until the transfer is made to the new area, be used for the building of a new comprehensive school for the central area.
For the possibility of introducing comprehensive education we are thrown back to the existing school buildings. We are left with three old school buildings—James Clark's School, James Gillespie's old school and Darroch, which has already been mentioned. The result of the Conservative victory in June, 1970, and of the retrograde principles the Conservatives have introduced and are continuing in this Bill, is complete fragmentation of comprehensive education in the centre of Edinburgh, undoubtedly setting back the programme for years.
I turn now to Leath. The continuation of Trinity Academy as a fee-paying selective school will result in a creaming off in the area, yet the secondary pupils there, who are drawn from all parts of the city, do not get the better facilities they would get if Trinity Academy were a territorial school within a comprehensive structure.
Leith Academy is an honourable institution of great age. I point out that our great educational institutions, our great schools in Scotland, have continued, whether fee-paying, charitable or non-fee-paying, with admirable persistence throughout the years. No one looking at the history of the Merchant Schools at Edinburgh, or at the great grammar schools and academies in Scotland, with their great educational tradition, can doubt that they will continue unless there is a positive act of destruction. No one can maintain that introducing and modernising the system of free comprehensive education in Scotland carries any threat at all to institutions which have been so successfully persistent throughout the years as these have been.
Leith Academy had a viable future, though not free from controversy, in a comprehensive system as outlined earlier 486 in 1970. Now we have fragmentation, and the recommendation of fee paying in the system of schools for Leith. We have selectivity, and the tendency is towards destruction of the old institution of Leith Academy. There is not yet a proposal to introduce fee paying to Leith Academy, but there are on the books at present two alternatives.
One alternative is to limit the intake to Leith Academy taken along with David Kilpatrick's and Bellevue Schools. If this proposal, the first organisational alternative which has been put to the education committee, is successful it will reduce the status, the quality, of Leith Academy. That is what hon. Members opposite really care about these institutions when it comes to the crunch. If that alternative is successful it reduces the quality of Leith Academy. If it is unsuccessful, the parents in the area may, as it were, by insisting that their children go there, it will prevent a balanced distribution of intakes to the three schools involved.
The second organisational alternative is to have two school complexes; Bellevue and Broughton Schools combining on the one hand, and, on the other hand, Leith Academy combining within the old buildings of Leith Academy, the old Leith Technical College and old Lochend School annexe. Once again, it can be seen that we have old buildings being utilised and, again, there can be no doubt that this alternative would reduce the quality and status of this excellent institution, the Leith Academy, of which we in Leith are so rightly proud.
I have here a letter from a constituent who pleads with me. I doubt very much whether the lady is of my own political persuasion, but she is anxious about the future of the school. She writes:The future of the school seems to be so insecure that no new headmaster has been appointed, and the general impression is of insecurity. Surely the social structure, as it were, of Leith would receive a boost if Leith Academy were to be firmly established on an academic basis.The implication in that letter is clear. It is that the educational policies of the Government and their party are destructive to this great school, and equally destructive to the principles of comprehensive education to which this side of the House is rightly dedicated.
§ The Clerk at the Table informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. SPEAKER and The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS.
§ Whereupon Miss HARVIE ANDERSON, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS, took the Chair as DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)
As I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) I could not understand why he insisted on referring to this Measure as a "mean" Bill. That was the most common adjective he used. I think that the exact opposite is true; that it is a generous and very fine Bill, and one of the best which the present Government have yet produced.
The hon. and learned Gentleman says that under the Bill there is no choice, but let me try to indicate to him exactly what choice there is. Under the Labour Government there was no choice for local authorities to permit fee-paying schools. The Bill seeks to give local authorities that choice. So the hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong in saying that there is no choice.
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman made a proposition which we have often heard from hon. Members opposite during the debate. He said that it is right to use the education of children to alter social attitudes. This proposition seems almost to go without argument—that it is right to use the education of children to alter the social attitudes of people and in particular, although the hon. and learned Gentleman was too delicate to use the phrase, to deal with the snobbishness of parents.
I am greatly opposed to that point of view. I am all for altering people's snobbish attitudes, whether they point their noses up or down, whether they look down on people in the upper brackets or on people in the lower brackets. When dealing with education the only thing that should matter to us is what is best for the children.
§ Mr. Lawson
Does not the hon. Gentleman understand that the whole process of education is the shaping of the child in the pattern of the older generation? Education all the time is a process of 488 patterning the youngster from birth in the mould of his parents—sometimes a very bad mould, but nevertheless the mould that the adults think is right. What else is there to education than this?
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
Practical experience of comprehensive education has not proved that snobbishness in people's attitudes is altered one way or the other by such a system.
Then the hon. and learned Gentleman made the point about removing parental anxiety. I can understand that, as a man with young children to educate. I can appreciate what a boon, in a sense, the removal of parental anxiety could be. However, I do not agree that the way to do that is simply to make no challenge or task for parents or for children. We do parents and children a dis-service by seeking to pretend that there are not challenges and that there will not be challenges in life which they will have to face up to and match. If we seek to pretend, instead, that it will all be perfectly easy, that there will never be any selection, that we can all go forward in a great herd without any of us having to worry, that in the end does not serve the best interests of children, nor of adults, nor of society.
I am glad to be able to support and congratulate my right hon. Friend on introducing the Bill. I recognise that it is a limited Measure, in that it is at the moment limited to Edinburgh and Glasgow. For that reason, Aberdeenshire, East is not covered by the Bill.
I imagine that in one sense the earlier remarks of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) rule me out of the debate. As I listened to his speech, I thought of the six years during which he was Secretary of State when we heard him making sonorous, rounded and splendid speeches about industry, water, fishing and agriculture. I wonder—had he been an industrialist; had he become a farmer? If the right hon. Gentleman believed what he was saying, I thought we should never have to listen to him again, except when he spoke about education or possibly military matters.
As for the right hon. Gentleman's claim that he won the General Election, he must be living in a dream world. If he had won the General Election, he would have been sitting on this side of 489 the House. He does his party no service by pretending that he believes in Scottish nationalism for political purposes when it suits him.
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
The boundaries would have made a considerable difference. The facts are still against the right hon. Gentleman, because no one was more extreme than he in denouncing any sort of Scottish nationalism in the last Parliament, and he is now pretending that he won the General Election because there are more Scottish Members on his benches than there are on these benches, a position which will be dramatically improved at the next General Election.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Ian Campbell), in his excellent maiden speech, said that this was a blow for privilege. Almost every hon. Member opposite who has spoken has said much the same. That is not a warning that comes well from Parliament. If ever a place was conscious of its privilege and of the importance of that privilege, this is that place. It is not privilege that is wrong in itself. It is when privilege is abused.
Exactly the same can be said about power. That is what will decide this argument. We know that neither side will win this argument tonight, although we may have our own views about who advances the best argument. The result is decided by power. My strong belief is that one of the reasons the Labour Government lost power was because of their abuse of it. This was one of the issues on which they abused it.
What I found most distasteful about the Labour Government's record in this matter was obviously not their belief in comprehensive education, which I can respect and accept, but their insistence on it to the exclusion of everything else. Such a policy is not only illiberal and autocratic. It is not necessarily in the best interests of education or of society. In cities it can quickly polarise areas of high opportunity and areas of low opportunity. Indeed, by scheduling an area as comprehensive there is a tendency for that to happen.
490 There can be the absurdity which is found in other parts of the world where the only solution is to bus children unnaturally and artificially very great distances to schools in other areas. The children in my part of Scotland bus long distances to school. The system is not similar, in that the necessity for that process in a widely scattered rural community is obvious and has been so for many years, although it may be that owing to the pressure on large-scale comprehensives initiated by the late unlamented Government we have deserted too rapidly and incautiously the smaller country schools.
§ Mr. Douglas
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that to solve the problem of rural depopulation the people in rural communities should make a contribution from their incomes to the rural schools? Then there would be the type of choice that the hon. Gentleman is advocating? Is this his solution to the problem in East Aberdeenshire?
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
No. I absolutely accept the right of the local authority in an area like Aberdeenshire to make its own plans for the best spread of educational resources in the area. My complaint has been that, because we have had this tremendous concentration on large-scale comprehensives, in my part of the world we have tended to be too quick to close down the smaller country schools in the interests of centralisation into large schools. I do not believe that this is necessarily in their interests of either the children or the community.
The position in cities can be made much worse by the sort of policies that hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to follow. If one puts all one's eggs into the comprehensive basket one is left without flexibility. One must then accept the absurdity and expense of inter-school transport to deal with the polarisation that results from concentrating policy on comprehensives.
I agree that one might ask in what way the present Government are improving the situation. Here, it might be said, is a division based on wealth which is just as bad as one based on area. I do not believe that that is arising. Fees of £20 to £40 or even of £68 to £78 a year are not so enormous—[Interruption.]—for those who wish to make a sacrifice, 491 which nobody is forcing them to make, for the education of their children.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that a man taking home £15 a week, as many are in my constituency and his, can afford fees of that magnitude, not to mention the buying of uniforms and so on?
§ Mr. Wolrige-Gordon
My experience is that many people find themselves perfectly able to afford to send their children to these schools if they wish to do so and if their children are acceptable. [Interruption.] The number of applications to these schools proves this.
Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything in this matter. We are merely retaining an area of choice. By so doing we are achieving a limited, though definite, possibility of introducing variety into the system, not by Government edict but by restraint on Government edict, and this is one of the most important features of the Bill.
Like hon. Members generally, I should be all for a uniform system of education if it were perfect and I should be prepared to see the Government pressing for it. However, comprehensives do not provide the perfect system. It is a good system but it is not so good that it cannot be complemented by others, especially where parents—let us remember the local authorities, which are directly responsible and are elected by the community—are prepared to pay for it. We do not need less imagination and more uniformity in our education system. We need more imagination and less uniformity, and I hope that the Bill will help to promote it.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East)
I am pleased to have been called to speak in the debate because, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) pointed out, this is an extremely vital issue in Edinburgh and Leith.
I regret that I was not in my place to hear the speeches of the hon. Members for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) and Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison). They must have made many 492 points about Edinburgh which I probably would have challenged. Having read the OFFICIAL REPORT of some of their speeches, I am sure that their remarks were well worth listening to.
Two broad issues arise in debating this Measure. The first is whether it is in the best interests of Scottish education that we should have fee-paying corporation selective schools, and the second is whether it is right that the Government should prevent local authorities from charging fees at corporation schools, as the Labour Government wished to do. I will devote most of my time to discussing the first issue, but first I must comment on the second.
A number of hon. Gentlemen opposite have been insisting that there is something sacrosanct in the right of local authorities to charge fees at corporation schools. They seem to imply that the central Government are not, in a host of other respects, inhibiting the actions of local authorities. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leith and others have pointed out that the Butler Education Act of 1944 operated the principle of reducing the right of local authorities to charge fees. Indeed, it is standard practice for the Government of the day to inhibit local authority action in certain respects.
It was right for the Labour Government to do it because if one believes in comprehensive education, as I do, one must face the fact that selective schools and comprehensives cannot exist side by side, particularly on the scale on which they exist in Edinburgh, for such a system completely undermines the comprehensive principle. This is the crux of the argument and the Labour Government were right to give the country leadership on the issue of comprehensive education and to follow it up logically by wishing to prevent, for example, Edinburgh from charging fees.
As I said, I wish to concentrate on the first issue I mentioned, which is the question whether it is desirable to have fee-paying schools of this type. I believe in equality of opportunity in education. I suggest that one cannot argue, as the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) tried to do, that charging fees at local authority schools encourages equality of opportunity.
493 The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) spoke about this in terms of a democratic freedom and he seemed to place it on the same level as the freedom of speech. What sort of freedom is it when it is confined to those who can afford it? The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East knows perfectly well, as do all Scottish hon. Gentlemen opposite, that thousands of families in Edinburgh and Glasgow do not have this freedom of choice simply because they cannot afford the fees. I accept that there are some people in receipt of small incomes who strive hard and sometimes manage to pay them, but for the vast majority of people it is not a freedom which they can choose. Is it such a freedom for those who will be in receipt of family income supplement? They cannot consider sending their children to these schools. This is not a freedom; it is a privilege.
In the Committee on the 1969 Bill the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education said that the fees were so small as to be almost irrelevant. I hope that he will not repeat that argument tonight. Surely he accepts that there are many people in his constituency who cannot afford to pay fees. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire spoke about Hobson's choice for the poor. This is a load of hypocrisy and we should not have to tolerate it.
My arguments apply to all fee-paying schools, but we are talking specifically about corporation fee-paying schools. If we are against privilege and inequality of opportunity, we are certainly against the Government and local authorities positively subsidising inequality of opportunity. It is nonsense for hon. Members opposite to counter that argument by saying that there are free places at these schools. The argument is reduced to the level of absurdity when one tries to defend corporation fee-paying schools on the ground that they provide free places. It is like arguing that we should subsidise the manufacturers of cigarettes because they give donations to cancer research.
The second argument which I would deploy in favour of eliminating fees in corporation schools was dealt with at some length by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leith. Selective schools, particularly on the scale that they exist 494 in Edinburgh, inevitably undermine the comprehensive system. It is not simply a question of people having to pay fees for their children to go to these fee-paying schools; the children must also pass examinations. A very large proportion of the more able children in Edinburgh from middle-class backgrounds or families which can afford to pay the fees opt out of the comprehensive system. They are creamed-off and go to the fee-paying schools—and not just to the corporation fee-paying schools.
§ Mr. Brewis
In view of the hon. Gentleman's argument, he should attack "the big boys"—the independent schools—not the small schools where working-class children at least get a chance.
§ Mr. Strang
The logic of what I have been saying is that I am against all fee-paying schools. But it was right for the last Government to eliminate fee-paying in corporation schools because they were positively subsidised by Government money.
In the debate on the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, the Secretary of State for Education and Science acknowledged that selective schools could exist alongside comprehensive schools only in big urban areas. If I followed the logic of her argument—and she squared up to this point—she was saying that when selective schools attract a substantial percentage of the pupils in an area, they operate against comprehensive education. Only in urban areas where less than 1 per cent. of the children were going to selective schools would she argue that the two systems could operate alongside one another without undermining the comprehensive system.
The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire brought home that point because he said that in Glasgow the schools were of such a scale that they did not interfere with comprehensive education. But, instead of facing up to the situation in Edinburgh, he turned to another argument about the right of local authorities to charge fees. It was implicit in his speech that the selective schools are undermining the comprehensive system in Edinburgh.
Hon. Members opposite say that people's social background forms a dogma of ours. I make no apology for 495 that. If we are to have a genuine comprehensive system it must be made up of children from a variety of backgrounds. It is not good enough for hon. Members opposite to suggest that providing selective schools enables us to achieve that. Many people with moderate incomes save up and are able to send their children to such schools, and I applaud them for doing it. But they are creaming off predominantly middle-class children. The teachers in the comprehensive schools in my constituency regret—and they said this at my election meetings—that so many of the abler pupils in the owner-occupied areas, particularly in Portobello, are creamed off to the fee-paying schools in other parts of the city.
During the debate on the Second Reading of the Bill last year, the Under-Secretary of State intervened in my predecessor's speech to argue that the question of the territory of comprehensive schools inevitably creates the social segregation which we on this side of the House want to avoid. There is a problem here, and one in which I am particularly interested, because I have been involved in an argument with Edinburgh Corporation about the siting of a comprehensive school in my constituency. With the local people, we have persuaded the Edinburgh Corporation to move the site of the school. They accepted the argument that it is better to try to get a social mix.
Of course, there are problems. The ideal theoretical system for the purpose of social mix might be to have all the schools in the centre, and to allocate children at random to those schools. But that is impractical, so one has to strike a balance between schools sited, shall we say, in council estates and others in owner-occupied estates. The purpose can be achieved by intelligently locating schools, and it is being done in Edinburgh, which is why the Corporation has agreed to move this school to which I referred to a better site.
I agree that in Cathcart, the constituency of the Under-Secretary of State, there are large council estates and large owner-occupied estates, which makes this difficult, so one has to consider the possibility of using buses. But it ill becomes some hon. Members opposite to argue against that, particularly if they know 496 anything about what happens in Edinburgh, because we have this massive movement of children over the city to go to fee-paying schools on the other side.
I know that a number of hon. Members wish to speak in the debate, but there are still one or two points which I wish to make from my experience of the situation in Edinburgh. I have lived there a number of years. When I was a student I stayed in "digs" in a number of households and I saw the pressure which some parents put on their young children to sit the examinations for fee-paying schools. I have no doubt that many of the fee-paying schools have a certain standard of excellence. I should say this to hon. Members opposite, who probably do not accept some of my other arguments, that they should weigh in the balance the harm done to some of these young children of 9, 10, 11 and 12 who have this tremendous pressure put on them to go to these schools.
We have the absurd situation that if these children go to the local comprehensive school they are regarded as failures by their family and by people living about them. I have worked with a number of professional people, and many who send their children to fee-paying schools are against the system, but they argue that all the people they know, the people in their income group and living beside them, are sending their children to the fee-paying school. Their wives, too, want to send their children there. I admire those people who say, "No, because I am against fee-paying schools I am not sending my children to those schools." But I understand the people who do send them there.
I should have thought that with their experience, the hon. Members for Edinburgh, South and Edinburgh, North must have come across this point of view from professional people who are subjected to tremendous pressure to send children to fee-paying schools.
§ Mr. Clark Hutchison
My constituents wish not so much to retain fee-paying schools, but to retain what is good and what works well. They do not want to disturb the educational system. They want to put the resources to the schools which are old and badly constructed, such as the Darroch school, but not to abolish all the others, the High School, the James Gillespie and the rest.
§ Mr. Strang
I used to work at a research establishment in the hon. Member's constituency. One person I was thinking of, though there were many others, was a person who lived in the hon. Member's constituency. There are many who are against the system but are sending their children to these schools.
One last point is that when I think of selective school, I do not think about the high-flown arguments some of us use on each side of the House; I think about what I saw every day before I was elected to the House. When I travelled to work I used to pass the Portobello comprehensive school in my constituency. I saw the children walking along the pavement to this school, while, at the same time, in the owner-occupied estate, there were queues of cars full of children being driven to the fee-paying schools on the other side of Edinburgh.
Let no one say that that is not socially divisive. Let no one say that it does not inculcate in those children the very class distinctions in our society which we on this side of the House are committed to oppose.
In my view, the motive behind the Bill is that the Conservative party stands for privilege—not just the privilege of wealth, not just the privilege inherent in the present unequal distribution of wealth, but privilege in education, too. If it be inevitable that we must have the Bill before us, I am pleased that the Government have decided that it shall be their first piece of legislation for Scotland put on the Statute Book, perpetuating, as it does, a privilege available only to a few. They may manage temporarily to stem the tide, they may try to turn the clock back for a few years, but one day the system will be changed.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
I apologise for having missed some of the speeches in the debate, but I especially enjoyed the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Ian Campbell). The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) has just made a good speech, though I do not agree with it and I shall be taking up some of the points which he made. My only comment at this stage is that his speech went more on sociological than on educational grounds.
498 This short Bill gives freedom back to the local authorities to decide an education issue for themselves, whether they should keep some schools which, as the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Murray) said, have a long tradition. That is what the Bill is about, giving freedom back to local authorities, and it will not have escaped the notice of the House that in Clause 1(4) there is a proviso that they must make adequate provision for free education in their other schools.
I have been in the House long enough to remember the way the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) used to go on about leaving matters to the discretion of the local authorities, and how the predecessor of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, Mr. George Willis, of whom we are all fond, was always advancing exactly the same argument. The right hon. Gentleman used to refer to Huey Long and accuse the then Secretary of State for Scotland of abrogating powers. Now, however, we hear the right hon. Gentleman speaking not of leaving it to the local authorities, but of the duty of the Government to govern.
§ Mr. Brewis
Whether or not it was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman, the example was used by him very often.
What we have to decide is whether we can trust the local authorities to look after their own education provision and the arrangements which they make to that end in their own areas. If we cannot leave these matters to the local authorities, what is the point of having local authorities? The local councillors in Edinburgh and Glasgow are responsible to the electorate. The inconvenient fact is that the fee-paying schools in Glasgow and Edinburgh are popular with the electorate. That is one of the reasons why the Labour Party does not want to leave the question to the local authorities.
Efforts have been made from time to time to suggest that parents who send children to fee-paying schools are being 499 subsidised by the State. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the parents who are helping the State by paying the fees. I was sorry that I did not hear the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). Both he and I are associated with the Educational Institute for Scotland. It is right to say that the council of the E.I.S., at least, takes his view rather than mine, but, on the other hand, opinion among teachers is quite divided on this issue and is far from monolithic.
In its memorandum in 1964, the E.I.S. said:If parents choose to spend money on the education of their children over and above what they contribute to the public education service in rates and taxes"—they may do so, andthe question of whether their additional outlay meets all or only part of the cost of their children's education is irrelevant".We should dismiss as false the argument that parents of children at fee-paying schools are being subsidised.
§ Mr. William Hannan
Will the hon. Member make it clear that that passage referred not so much to fee-paying in local authority schools as to grant-aided schools?
§ Mr. Brewis
I am not sure that the hon. Member is right, but I am willing to accept the point from him, although I do not think that it makes any difference to my argument.
I wish to put two small points about fees. It has been argued between the two sides that the fees are very small and, on the other hand, that they are sufficient to discourage people from sending their children to these schools because they are too high. It seems to me that as parents value the education of these schools for their children, there would be nothing to prevent the operation of a graduated system of fees in these schools in Edinburgh and Glasgow. There are already a number of free places and the education authorities in Edinburgh and Glasgow are used to dealing with bursary and university applications. I suggest that they should examine the possibility of graduating the fees charged at these schools.
Although I have not heard this next point mentioned in the debate, I am sure that it has been made. A child who 500 gets into the primary department of a fee-paying school almost automatically goes forward into the secondary department. In my view, that should not automatically be the case. Other children should have an opportunity of taking up places if children from the primary school are not capable of doing so.
It has been said that the real issue in this debate is not fee paying, but selection in education. Hon. Members opposite are fond of the comprehensive school and regard it as the only system. Admittedly, there are very many good comprehensive schools in Scotland. It will, however, be found that those schools usually stream after the first year. It is true that comprehensive schools are traditional to many areas, particularly small towns. The arguments in favour of comprehensive schools include the fact that a good size of sixth form is possible. There are, however, other forms of education which are traditional in Scotland in the old establishments such as the Royal High in Edinburgh, Glasgow High School and others.
What we have done is to import the English idea of comprehensive education, which was derived originally from a misunderstanding of the Scottish education scene. I think it was Sir Graham Savage, the chief education officer of the London County Council, who tried to base the comprehensive school on what he thought was the system in Scotland. We have now reintroduced into Scotland the system from England.
I remember before the election, as Chairman of the Standing Committee dealing with the Education Bill, hearing arguments about selection and changing over to the comprehensive system. The Conservatives in the Committee proposed that there should be selective entry to certain schools for children who were specially talented in languages or who were good at mathematics or even navigation. All these amendments were turned down.
However, I went on a delegation to Bulgaria, a Communist country, shortly afterwards. To my great surprise, I found that in that Communist country there were selective schools for pupils in just these subjects. The Bulgarians had decided that they could not afford the waste caused by not using the talent of their best people to the best advantage.
501 This is also true of Russia. Ability in mathematics, for example, can be spotted at a very early age. Equally, it fades out when the mathematician is probably still quite young, say, about 40. The Russians have developed a system in which they make use of their best mathematicians and have selective education.
I quote a most unlikely source, Lord Snow giving the Clayesmore Lecture, when he said:A society which does not choose to encourage excellence, and this particular kind of excellence among others, won't be a decent society for long.An attempt has been made to suggest that selective schools and comprehensive schools cannot exist side by side. It is undesirable for them to do so in a small town, but in a big city or conurbation there is no reason why the two systems should not exist side by side. There can be a sufficient number of children having all the advantages of a comprehensive school.
The buildings of many of the fee-paying schools are simply not suitably placed to become territorial comprehensive schools. I am thinking of buildings like the Alan Glen School in Central Glasgow and the Edinburgh Royal High at Barnton where already there has been considerable provision of comprehensive schools in the neighbourhood.
Before the election, my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) pointed out that there was an extremely good social mix in fee-paying schools and that it was probably better than that in the territorial schools. This is because one tends to find the middle class living in one area and working-class people in another, and so there is not necessarily a good social mix in a neighbourhood school. If the fee-paying schools were abolished, there would not be a particularly large contribution made by those pupils to neighbourhood comprehensive schools.
It has been suggested that one could go in for zoning or banding or bussing pupils to try to get this mix. These are difficult subjects. If one tries to band schools, one gets people moving into an area so that they may send their children to the school of their choice. However, I end as I began by saying that these are difficult problems which are better 502 left to be decided by the local authority which knows best the geography of its city.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. John Smith (Lanarkshire, North)
What has struck me as I have listened to the whole of the debate has been the difference between the approach of hon. Members opposite and that of my hon. Friends. Hon. Members opposite have talked about the theory, while my hon. Friends have discussed the reality of the structure of fee-paying schools and their social effects in the cities of Scotland. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) described in precise terms the social difficulties caused by fee-paying schools.
I suspect that hon. Members opposite have confined themselves to the theory because so few of them have a practical knowledge of Scottish education. I know that it will be said that there is an exception in the person of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor). But then in this respect, as in so many others, he is just a gillie among the lairds. He is the one whom they can use as the popular exhibit whenever they are accused of social prejudice. That is a rôle which I think the hon. Member for Cathcart will serve for a long time in the Conservative Party.
Those who were not themselves educated in the Scottish educational system, some of whom do not use it for their own system, do not have the same proprietary interest as those of us who have been educated in the comprehensive Scottish education system. I received the whole of my secondary education in the County of Argyll, where fee-paying schools were never heard of, never demanded and are never likely to be asked for by the people who live there. I now happen to live in the City of Edinburgh, where I moved when I went to the Scottish Bar. With a background of comprehensive education in our country areas in Scotland it is all the more alarming to view the situation in Edinburgh. It staggers me when hon. Members opposite suggest that at the fee-paying schools in Edinburgh there is a social mix. They should go to Edinburgh and stand at the gates of these schools when the children are coming out. They will see whether or not there is a social mix. If they 503 will then take themselves to working-class areas in Edinburgh they will see that there is no social mix there, either. Hon. Member opposite should understand the actuality of the situation.
What is wrong with having a fee-paying system? On this side of the House it is not a question of Socialist dogma, it is a feeling that to have fee paying in the local authority schools in the cities of Scotland leads to social injustice. That is why this feeling is shared by the Liberal Party.
We all know that educational resources are scarce. There are not enough school buildings to do the job properly, neither are there enough teachers. We feel it is wrong that, because a small section of the community are able to use their social influence and their money, they are able to aggrandise to themselves and their children an unduly high proportion of these scarce social resources. That is the Labour Party's real ground for criticism of fees and the system of selectivity.
The effect of fee-paying schools on other schools is another point of great importance. As has been pointed out consistently by hon. Members on this side of the House, when we take away the leading pupils in the State schools surrounding a fee-paying school and send them to the fee-paying school the class in the State school will be deprived of its head. The effect on the teachers at the schools from which the children have been removed is bound to be demoralising. It is demoralising for the children who have been left behind and does little good to the children who have been moved.
Why cannot we organise a system in which we all share the educational facilities? We all have children. They are all entitled to the same opportunity, so why cannot they all go into the same educational pool? Then we would suffer the same hardships and we would all be given equal opportunities.
That is how a sensible decent community organises its educational resources. It does not say that there shall be a small section which will be fenced by selectivity and if that does not do the job sufficiently that section will be fenced by a money bar as well. It does not say that that privileged section shall 504 have smaller classes taught by a larger number of teachers and that the rest outside can sink or swim according to the resources which are left. We say that because the fee-paying system buttresses selection, and results in aggrandising resources for a small section of the community it is wrong.
One unfortunate point about the fee-paying system, in the City of Edinburgh in particular, is that it puts parents who are well disposed towards the State educational system in a difficult dilemma when they come to decide where their children should be educated. I know from experience of speaking to young parents, professional people, in Edinburgh—not only Socialists or Liberals, but also Conservatives—who feel that the State educational system should be supported, that they equally feel, justified or not, that, if they do not send their children to fee-paying schools, somehow the children will be deprived. So we reach the odd situation that some parents in Edinburgh are forced, in their own view, to send their children to fee-paying schools, although they would be delighted if their children went to State schools.
Some of these parents to whom I have spoken have said, "Would it not be marvellous if this burden could be lifted from us? Would it not be marvellous if we did not have to make this invidious choice between the selfish view that we must taken for our children and the real educational needs of the community?"
I suspect that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite do not get involved enough in the scene in Scotland to know people with this kind of problem. This feeling is reinforced by what has been said in the debate—that the real knowledge of what happens, as well as the right ideas as to what should happen, exists only on this side of the House.
I come back to the principle behind our objection to the perpetuation of fee-paying schools. It surely cannot be right for us to allow these differences of opportunity to exist in 1970. In defence of the proposals, hon. Members opposite have said that these matters should be left to local government to decide. I find this a curious argument, and I am always suspicious of it. It is the same idea 505 basically as the "States' Rights" argument in the United States. If it is suggested that the Government of the United States should do something about the social problems in relation to coloured people, they say that that must be left to the States to decide. It is a curious argument and there is a certain parallel here. I am not suggesting that this issue is as serious as the problem of racial discrimination in the United States, but it is interesting to note that a similar argument is used by the two apologists.
Is it not clear that the principle of fee paying is of national significance? It is a national decision whether we should have a system of fee paying in our schools. I think that it is a decision which Parliament, if it has any sense of leadership at all, should face and take. It is a decision on which the Government should give a lead to the country instead of trying to shuffle their responsibilities on to local authorities. The local authorities are already sufficiently restricted in other ways by the activities of the Scottish Education Department. There is already a great deal of supervision by the central government. This is an area in which the decision should be taken by Parliament and by the central government.
As a last resort it will be said by hon. Gentlemen opposite, in defence of fee-paying schools, that they have to keep their election pledge that they would give back this power to local authorities. Having given that pledge I suppose they must carry it out. They will carry it out. They will also carry out the pledge that will give back £25 million to the children of the rich. But they did not keep their pledge to the children of the poor to spend £30 million on the relief of child poverty. They cut that down pretty quickly to £8.6 million. In fact, I think the net figure is £7 million.
We have some idea of the priorities of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Of course they will keep this election pledge. It is typical of the attitude of the Conservative Party. The fee-paying schools in the cities of Scotland, as those of us who live near them know in a real as well as a theoretical sense, are a class symbol. While they remain a class symbol we shall not get an educational system which gives us social justice and a sense of equality. I hope that the local authority in Glasgow will take the decision to 506 abolish fee-paying schools there. I am less hopeful about the position in Edinburgh, although I hope that the position there will change.
It is obvious that this side of the House will lose this battle tonight, but I do not believe that in the long term we shall lose the fight to which we are dedicated, which is to bring back social justice and real equality to our educational system in Scotland in line with its very best and ancient traditions.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
Before I get on to the debate itself I should like to congratulate the three maiden speakers who have taken part, all from our side of the House. There was a curious thread running through the three speeches. As far as I could see, two of them were either provosts or lord provosts, and one was married to a provost. The other thing that links them is that all three Members have succeeded railwaymen, so I hope that they will continue to keep us on the right lines.
The hon. Members for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Ian Campbell) and Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) spoke with great knowledge, acquired from their local authority experience. In a debate which has been dominated by arguments about the freedom of local authorities it was good to hear maiden speakers supporting the view of this side of the House on this issue.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) brings a special voice to this debate. He spoke on behalf of the teachers. A great deal has been said about freedom for parents and local authorities, a little has been said about freedom for children but nothing has been said about the attitude of the teachers. Despite the fact that the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) found five headmasters in Glasgow who agreed with him, my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire has the support of 7,000 qualified teachers who accept the point of view of this side of the House.
I do not think that that is surprising, because while this is an irrelevant Bill in terms of the situation with which we are faced, it is an important Bill in terms of reflecting the attitudes, the aims, and the priorities of right hon. and hon. 507 Gentlemen opposite. I do not think that this Measure can be taken in isolation. If it were, to bring it in now would be utterly irrelevant. What we have been seeing over the last two or three weeks is a kind of package expression by the Conservative Party of its attitude to social, educational and other matters, and it is appropriate that the Bill is initiated by the Scottish Tories under this Government. It will, I think, long be remembered for the privileged nature of its provisions.
It is almost as though the Secretary of State has been saying, "My colleagues have been bringing forward legislation to introduce reaction. My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have done their little bit, and I want my share now". He could have had his share by telling us what he intends to do about the economy in Scotland. We have had to get that from the Press, instead of on the Floor of the House. He could have got his share by telling us that he will push back the clock in terms of housing provision in Scotland, but we have had to learn bits and pieces of that from the Press, and not on the Floor of the House. Curiously enough, when the right hon. Gentleman wishes to make the kind of statement that should be made on the Floor of the House he makes it to the Press, and when he does come to the Floor of the House he spends a good deal of his time attacking the Press for failing to understand the reason for this debate.
We know the reason for it. There is nothing in the Bill which provides any reason for bringing it in. The Explanatory Memorandum says that the Bill will effect a small saving in the expenditure of education authorities. Is there any purpose in that small saving? Is it really necessary to rush in now for the sake of a small saving?
We are also told that the Bill will have no significant effect on the administrative work of education authorities. Clearly the Bill has not been brought in in fulfilment of the pledge to save on expenditure, or to save on the number of civil servants. The Government have fulfilled only one pledge, and that was the pledge to restore fee paying to education in Scotland of all countries. We are to 508 get this after 400 years of democratic education, 400 years of pride in our schools at which the laird's son was educated alongside the crofter's boy.
That party can bring forward as its first Bill to the Floor of this House a Measure which fulfils only one pledge—to restore fee-paying schools—and, incidentally, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, that was a pledge which was missing from its national mandate. So it is a pledge which was rejected by the voters to whom that manifesto was put, a pledge which was rejected by the very populations of the local authorities to whom that party says it is now going to give freedom to act.
This is not a Bill about education. It is not a Bill about economic problems. Indeed, the Government's economic measures brought forward over the last fortnight have little to do with economic problems. This is an ideological Bill, a political Bill, a class Bill, an expression of the Scottish Tory Party which has managed to produce only one Member who has not been to a fee-paying school. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Who is that?"] The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray). He is not here. He might have helped his party out. I think there is one other Member who was at Glasgow High School. I think someone referred to him as a gillie among lairds.
In a sense this Government, in a dispassionate, literal sense, is the most reactionary Government we have had in Britain since the Reform Act in 1832. By and large in the last century-and-a-half we have been moving towards the just society. Errors have been made, but we have expanded freedoms, we have expanded the conditions of life of and attitudes towards the workers in terms of their work and of the trade unions. By and large we have been moving towards the just society—all parties Labour, Conservative, Whig and Tory, and Liberal. Sometimes the move has been held up and when it has been held up we have called those responsible for that reactionary. This is the first Government I can think of which, since 1832, has deliberately moved the clock back, and it is alone in Western Europe—indeed, in the Western world. We see it again with this Bill.
That is the first point, but there are many other points to be made. The 509 arguments we have beard today have been confused, and it is not surprising that they have been confused because the Government were defending the indefensible. We had, for example, the argument on selection, an argument which was put forward by, of all people, the Under-Secretary of State who is to wind up this debate tonight. He is going to be arguing—heaven knows how he is going to do it—in defence—
§ Mr. Buchan
He has moved down more Damascus roads than any man in human history this last week, and he will have to do it again, because he set selection in the forefront of his argument. But he can be proved wrong there. The Government do not know the facts. The truth is that every single educational theorist is rejecting selection—every single one. Hon. Members opposite try to avoid the charge of privilege through fee paying by saying that what they are concerned with is selection—at a time when the entire world of education is moving against selection in education.
Consider what even the two archpriests have said. There was once a case for it. The case was that we could select because we could predict a child's academic abilities; there was discovered the intelligence test, and as long as that remained valid there was a slight case—not a case on humane grounds but a case in terms of educational ability. It is the case no longer. The two archpriests, Sir Cyril Burt and Professor Vernon have now come round to a very different view. Sir Cyril Burt says quite simply that there is no case for selection as early as 11—anything like 11. The other archpriest, Professor Vernon, also rejects the concept that intelligence is an unchanging acquired characteristic of one kind or another. It moves, it changes, it modifies, it alters in the process of education.
Therefore, the one objective tool which existed for selection has gone. With it has gone the argument for selection within education. Therefore, hon. Members opposite cannot defend their Bill for privilege on the basis of the selection theory, because it has been rejected, not only in this country but in every other country. For example, in Sweden, streaming is not allowed up to the age of 15, 510 because they recognise its difficulties. The United Nations also has totally rejected any concepts of intelligence testing or streaming or selection.
This is for very good reasons—first, because it cannot be done accurately. The second reason answers many of the difficulties of hon. Members opposite, particularly the argument that there is a contradiction in our view here, that we complain on the one hand that selection is unfair and on the other hand say that in any case privilege is bought by gaining selection. How can we complain, they ask, that children are kept out of fee-paying schools, since we have rejected the selection process anyway?
The weakness is that the selection process is self-fulfilling. Once children have been selected, once it has been assumed that the children will do better, in practical fact—this might be surprising to hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it will not surprise teachers—once it gets through to children that they are going to do better and once they are put in a system which says, "You will do better," they do better. The system also works the other way around. [Laughter.] If the Under-Secretary laughs at that, then he cannot have read a single word printed on education in the last 10 years.
This has been the whole basis of the argument.
There was the experience of Jacobson and Rosenthal called "Pygmalion in Education". Visiting inspectors told teachers in America that they were going to examine and grade their children. Then they said that these children, by name, were on the point of—terrible word—"blooming", that they were about to make a rapid advance in their abilities. They came back a year later and, sure enough, that group had advanced by something like 10–15, on average, measurable IQ points. Except that it was not true. They had picked them entirely at random. The fact that the teachers thought that they were going to do well meant that the children did well. The whole thing is self-fulfilling. Frankly, hon. Gentlemen opposite have no educational case at all: this must be understood.
The United Nations have also done a great deal of work on this. We need not take only American and British testing: the United Nations have also rejected 511 streaming. But they did something more, and this explains why the Under-Secretary laughed. The U.N.E.S.C.O. report also said, referring to the results on screening and selection:It is, however, unlikely to modify significantly the attitudes of those who regard their prestige and security as being threatened by the implications of these findings.This is why hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh when we give them the facts. They cannot accept this, that working-class kids, treated right and given the right schools, can be just as intelligent as these products of Eton and Winchester and Wellington. The United Nations have to spell it out for them. They can take it from the United Nations: they need not take it from me.
Mr. Edward Taylor
The hon. Gentleman has already said quite clearly that the Opposition are against fees. We know that they are against selection. Is he now saying that the Opposition officially are against streaming, even in comprehensive schools?
§ Mr. Buchan
I said nothing of the sort: I wish hon. Gentlemen would listen. We are talking about the segregation of groups in this way. On this question of streaming, we can have a discussion in future, but certainly almost every teacher who thinks on this subject and every educationist is now recognising that the further we push back streaming in the fashion that hon. Members opposite mean it the better, and otherwise so much experimentation is being done by setting. I hope that the Under-Secretary is familiar with the word: he is after all in charge of Scottish education.
I turn to the other arguments. There was the argument of freedom. My God—the sins committed in the name of freedom by hon. Members opposite! Their hearts were bleeding earlier because of what is happening to poor children when their parents are deprived of the opportunity of pay fees—a classic case of hypocrisy. The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire put the case very well. I wish that it had been the hon. Gentleman who had been advancing the argument, from the Front Bench, because he did have a consistent theory to argue. He felt that we were removing the freedom of choice only from the poor, not 512 the rich, because of the existence of independent and public schools. I shall be glad to be allied with the hon. Gentleman if he wants to move in that direction at any time.
The hon. Gentleman's main point was that three freedoms are involved—local authorities', parents' and pupils'. To do him justice, he and he alone referred to the freedom of pupils. The perfect answer is given not by any educational theory but by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael), who described the restriction on the freedom of children who, at the age of four or five, are already dominated by the question whether they will be selected. Someone compared such children with a boy of 19 waiting to go to university. How inhumane can we get? There is a great difference between the reaction of an adult having to face up to the problems and difficulties of life and that of a child of four or five told that he is inferior.
My hon. Friend described precisely this situation in terms of his own child, explaining why he eventually had to take the decision he did. There was no cause for an hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite to make the kind of remark about my hon. Friend in his absence which the Under-Secretary of State made. My hon. Friend made perfectly clear, along with the general argument, how pressures build up upon the child and the parent, and the deprivation of freedom in that way, even when parents are seeking to get their children into schools.
Talking of freedom, let us consider Edinburhg. Edinburgh is not an education-centred city as it should be. It is a school-centred city. It is not education that people there are worried about but the question of which school. There is an Edinburgh neurosis about schools. What kind of freedom is there for parents when they are caught up in such a rat race, when, if they do not opt into the rat race for their children, the children will feel that they are semi-failures? We now know the educational consequences of this. Hon. Members opposite should not talk about freedom when that is the kind of situation they want to develop.
Hon. Members opposite have not been arguing freedom of choice for parents 513 tonight. They said that it depends on the ability of the child, upon selection, but there is a total contradiction between freedom and selection. If your child does not pass the selection process, you no longer have freedom of choice. You cannot say, "I want Johnnie to go to that school", if the school says, "We are turning him down because he is not apparently bright enough." That is why the argument becomes important also for the poorer parent, because when selection is made, particularly at four or five, we know—and there is abundant evidence of this—which child has the better chance. It is the child of professional parents, the child from a middle-class home, with a richer cultural background, who is more articulate and can cope much more easily than can the working-class child with the kind of questions asked of four- or five-year-olds.
When the child of some friends of mine went for a test the headmaster put a half-crown in front of him and asked, "What's that?" The child said, "Heads". That answer was a bit more intelligent than the question.
§ Mr. Buchan
An hon. Member from the South-West who spoke about democracy will know an even finer story of the child in a country school who was shown a sheep and could not say what it was when the teacher asked. The teacher said, "You must be able to tell me what this is", and kept pointing to the sheep. "Well", said the child, "It's maybe a cross between a Border Leicester and a Sussex tup." The tests discriminate in the interests of the middle-class, professionally orientated child, and therefore the freedom of which hon. Members opposite talk is restricted. If they do not win selection, no freedom exists.
Freedom for local authorities is a very real but not very logical point, because in every aspect of public life Governments determine what local authorities can do, and within what limits. An hon. Gentleman has produced a document—I have not seen it, but it must be somewhere—about housing in Scotland. Does not that mean depriving local authorities of their freedom? It is, in fact, a much more powerful deprivation of freedom. This argument of freedom for local 514 authorities does not wash, and hon. Members opposite recognise it. They restrict the freedom of local authorities. They say that local authorities will be allowed a limited number of schools. Why is that? If it is a good thing, why not have an unlimited number? The answer is that they have a sense of guilt. They know that they would not get away with it. Nevertheless, it is an infringement of the freedom of local authorities, and quite rightly, too, because we cannot tolerate within the wider community this kind of privilege to operate in one area or another.
The other weakness is this: Governments have only certain powers. If they decide that two and two make five, the total still remains four. But they can give a lead, and the tragic thing about the take-over is the way in which the right hon. Lady in England and Wales and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland in Scotland have avoided the question of a lead. They have not told us yet whether selection or freedom is better. They have not even, as a Government, argued the case for fee paying. But they cannot get away with this one. The right hon. Lady says that turning schools comprehensive will discriminate against working-class kids, and hon. Members opposite all say, "Yes". They think that we can plan and organise the most intricate and complex of all things, a human child, and yet say that they cannot face up to the problems of controlling and planning our physical environment to get the right kind of zones. This is another phoney, and they know it to be a phoney.
They have brought up the question of the able child. There is no evidence whatsoever—as those who watch the "box" well know—that the able child suffers at all in a comprehensive system, and there is some evidence, produced particularly by Simon and Daniells, that in the primary school it may well work the other way round. So worry about the able child is not a point.
There is the argument that people will treasure education more because they have to pay for it; because it is a sacrifice. If hon. Members opposite could charge us for the air and water we use they would charge us, I suppose, and then tell us that we would treasure water and air more. Education is as essential 515 to the human being as air and water, and should be provided as freely.
The most extraordinary argument of all was produced on an earlier occasion by the Under-Secretary of State the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) when we discussed the Education (Scotland) Bill in Committee in 1969. He said:If the Minister were to make a straight offer and say that, if we were prepared to withdraw our objection to his proposals about the charging of fees in corporation schools, he would withdraw his objection to selective schools, that would be a bargain that I would accept."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee, 11th February 1969; c. 191.]Well, we shall see whether he accepts that bargain tonight.
We are entirely opposed to the Bill. It has nothing to do with education. It is an ideological and political Bill. It is a sop offered by the Government to their supporters. Further, it cannot exist side by side, as indeed the Public Schools Commission has agreed conclusively, with the comprehensive system, because it is all about privilege and nothing else and we are opposed to privilege. We believe that what the Government are now going after is the destruction of thousands and thousands of potential late developers and achievers.
The Bill does not deal with the problems we should be facing—the problems of the change-over to the comprehensive system, the problems of curriculum and syllabus for comprehensive education, the problems I am facing in Renfrewshire of the four-year school co-existing with the six-year school and basically senior secondary schools and the inequalities thereby produced.
Above all, we are against the Bill because of the effect of the existence of such an inequitable system on the children, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for Woodside. That is why we reject the Bill.
Nearly half of all hon. Members opposite came from Eton. [An HON. MEMBER: "A good school."] I am told that it is a comprehensive school—no problems of selection there. [An HON. MEMBER: "No girls."] It does not have girls. That is a pity. But it is a comprehensive school. In Committee the 516 hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) said that he was not against comprehensive education. He continued:It has subsisted in many parts of Scotland and elsewhere. Indeed, my old school, Eton, is comprehensive in many ways, except that it does not take girls. … I will not hide from the Committee that as regards maths I was in the lowest possible form and practically bottom of that. But I shared that distinction with a boy who became a successful stockbroker. I do not know whether there is a moral in that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee; 13th February, 1969, c. 216–7.]Yes, indeed, there is a moral in that. The lowest boy in the class in the comprehensive school became a stockbroker. This is what privilege is all about.
This is the most illiberal and reactionary Government that we have seen in the whole generation that I have been describing. In order to preserve their power today for their party, they have to indulge in social engineering. They brought in the vote for us poor benighted workers. Like the army, they do it, not through the officers, but through the warrant officers, sergeants and corporals. That is what they are doing tonight; they have brought in tonight an ageing young Tory from Cathcart as a lance-corporal to do the work of the hon. Members from Eton.
§ 9.30 p.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Edward Taylor)
We have heard a great deal of rubbish tonight from the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) as we usually do; and I intend to prove it. Before doing so, it is only right that I should refer to the splendid maiden speeches which have been made during this debate.
We heard, first, the speech of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). Quite apart from being glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman, we are glad to hear the news of the health and, indeed, the happiness of the previous Member for Central Ayrshire, Mr. Archie Manuel. We know that Mr. Manuel will be happier in his retirement in the knowledge that he has someone as tough and as forceful as he was in this House to represent the constituency.
It was also a great pleasure to hear from the hon. Member for Oldham, East 517 (Mr. Lamond). He, from his position of leadership in Aberdeen, has much to say about, and a great deal of knowledge of, Scottish education. He set an example which we hope will be followed by Members representing English constituencies in taking a very real interest in Scottish education. I hope that this will continue.
The third maiden speaker was the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Ian Campbell), who made a very distinguished contribution. He stressed in particular the needs of the primary schools in his constituency. I know that the hon. Gentleman and his authority will be knocking at our door in relation to the extra money which, through the efforts of my hon. Friend, has been obtained for Scotland and for Scottish primary schools.
I come straight away to the points which were made by the hon. Member for Renfrew, West. It was evident that the hon. Gentleman was adopting a very patronising attitude in claiming that he knew a great deal about education and that we on this side knew little, if anything. One listened astonished as the hon. Gentleman went through his various arguments. He said, first, that selection was nonsense. He gave us the list of professors and others who had proved to his satisfaction that selection was nonsense. He did this after a debate in which one hon. Gentleman opposite after another had claimed that the real trouble with selective schools was that they were creaming off—
§ Mr. Buchan
Before the hon. Gentleman continues, I must interrupt to tell him that he still does not understand the point. Shall I try again?
§ Mr. Buchan
I used the phrase "self-fulfilling prophecy" and I spoke of the wealth of evidence that exists to show how privilege is involved in selection of this sort. We believe it is wrong, and I explained why.
I was about to come on to what was, in fact, the second argument adduced by the hon. Gentleman.
When he spoke about the child with inherent abilities needing those attributes 518 to be drawn from him in an adequate way and how that would not happen unless the child attended a school where those abilities would be drawn from him, he was really arguing in favour of fee-paying schools of this type. To use that sort of argument for the abolition of these schools is nonsense.
It was crystal clear that what the hon. Gentleman was demonstrating was his obsession with class consciousness. He talked constantly about class in connection with these schools and how we were trying to divide society. He must know, as every hon. Gentleman opposite must know, that the proposals which the Labour Party has been pressing for universal territorial comprehensive schools throughout the cities of Scotland would, if implemented, inevitably create nothing more than class segregation—[Interruption.]—and we certainly would not support that.
Let us consider how the hon. Member for Renfrew, West displayed his ability in, and knowledge of, educational matters. He said that the job of government was to give a lead. "Why cannot you give a lead", he kept asking, in effect, and one of the things he wanted us to do was to say clearly whether we were in favour of comprehensive schools and whether we thought they were better than other schools.
If the hon. Gentleman expects to have any support for, or to gain any influence as a result of, his views on education, he must accept that a question like that in the context of Scottish education is meaningless—[Interruption.]—and shows how little thought he must have given to this matter. Does he really expect us to say that comprehensives are either good or bad when clearly the situation varies enormously from one area to another?
He must know that, for example, in a county town a comprehensive can include a wide social range, a vast range of ability, a range of background, accommodation and all sorts of things. On the other hand, a comprehensive in a city or perhaps in an owner-occupied suburb or even a slum clearance area can be a totally different type of organisation.
In asking us to say whether we think comprehensives are good or bad he is asking us to say the impossible, because as I have explained, they vary widely 519 from area to area according to the different circumstances. We certainly accept that comprehensives can be and are successful in certain places. On the other hand, we certainly do not believe that the situation in Scottish education is such that the Government can say to all local authorities and all parents and in all circumstances that one pattern of education is ideal in every respect to the exclusion of everything else.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West asked what was meant by "adequate provision" when we say in the Bill that fees may be charged as long as there is adequate provision for free education. My answer is that this is something which the authorities themselves will have to decide before reaching a decision to reintroduce fees.
The Secretary of State would not expect an authority to set itself an impossible task in this respect. Each authority must consider the relevant factors; and the key factor is whether the charging of fees in some schools would have an adverse effect on the staffing or other standards of non-fee-paying schools. I hope that this clarifies the position. [Interruption.] It is impossible for me to say more to clarify it.
§ Mr. Douglas
We must be clear about this. May we have an assurance that the standard of adequate provision will be determined by the result of an interplay of discussion between the Scottish Education Department and the local authority, and that the Secretary of State will not allow any introduction or extension of fee paying unless he is absolutely satisfied that there will be no detrimental effects on the standard of provision in the non-fee-paying sector? Can we be clear about this because it is a vital issue?
I am quite clear on it, if the hon. Gentleman is not. I do not wish to give the impression that it will be the purpose of the Government to lay down the law and insist that we know best in every respect. The important thing is that, irrespective of what happens, the pupils must be educated and they must have teachers to teach them, whether they are in fee-paying schools or non-fee-paying schools.
§ Mr. Maclennan
It is a question, not of laying down the law, but of judging whether the system is providing adequate facilities for education. The question in which we on this side of the House are interested is this: will that decision be taken by the Secretary of State, or, if he is not satisfied that adequate provision is being made, will he interfere?
The position is clearly laid down in the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman has any points of detail that he wishes to pursue, it can best be done in Committee. What we have laid down is quite clear. We shall give some responsibility to local authorities. The Opposition's intention is that the Government should lay down the law on all education matters and that they should direct from the centre. It is our intention to give power and authority to the local authorities because we have confidence in their ability to make the right decision in the right circumstances.
If the right hon. Gentleman had read the rest of the Clause he would have seen that it was crystal clear that that is conditional on an adequate number of free places being available. Obviously the number of schools concerned must be limited if we are to provide free education for, presumably, the majority of those who will want it.
A question asked by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West and others was: what is the teacher shortage position in relation to the continuance of fee-paying schools in Scotland? Hon. Members have spoken about the wide differential which existed in the staffing standards. I have taken the trouble to obtain the latest figures. They may be revealing to hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang), who expressed an interest in this matter. As at January, 1970, the average pupil-teacher ratio in Edinburgh former fee-paying schools was 16.4 compared with 17.2 for non fee-paying schools in the 521 city—a difference of about 0.8. In Glasgow the ratio in former fee-paying secondary schools was 16.9 compared with 17.8 for the non fee-paying sector—a difference of 0.9. [Interruption.] Is the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock contesting these figures? These are facts.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
Order. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) knows very well that if the Minister does not give way he must resume his seat.
I have listened for hours to the debate in which specific questions have been asked, and I have information to answer every one of them. If the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock thought that this was a matter of significance, he could have asked—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) can interrupt only if the Minister gives way.
We have had a full day's debate in the course of which every opportunity was given for points to be made. We have had such weak and miserable arguments from the Opposition that they are trying to wreck a speech in which I am attempting to deal with the points which they made.
Let me deal, in the short time left to me, with the three main arguments advanced by the Opposition. We had the question about the fee-paying schools preventing people from entering because the fees were too high. The hon. Member 522 for Edinburgh, East mentioned this, saying that because the fees were too high it was unreasonable to have them and that large numbers of people would not be able to afford them. I wonder whether he thought for one minute what would be the consequence of his own party's policy of saying, "We will abolish corporation fee-paying schools and on the other hand appoint a Commission to look into the future of grant-aided schools"? In Scotland, where we have grant-aided schools with fees which are reasonably high, and independent schools where fees are very high, the result of that policy would simply be to provide freedom of choice for the rich only and not freedom of choice for the rest of the community.
I shall not give way. May I give the hon. Member a few figures? I have a list of the fees charged by the schools concerned. I noticed that there was no reference to this from hon. Gentlemen opposite. In six hours' debating I have not heard one word from the Opposition about the level of fees. All I heard was from the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East, who said that they were excessive. For example, we have Hillhead High School, Glasgow, fees, £10 7s. per annum, which works out at about 4s. a week; Hillhead Primary School, £5 17s., that is 2s. per week; Notre Dame High School, Glasgow, £10 7s., that is 4s. per week; Notre Dame Primary School, 2s. per week. Then we have Trinity, £15 per annum. Is this considered to be excessive, about 6s. a week?
With three children being educated at these schools, perhaps two at the primary at 2s. per week and one at the secondary at 4s., the hon. Gentleman would have to face the disastrous consequence of 8s. a week. Are we to consider that figures such as 2s. per week or 4s. per week can be the basis of a class struggle and a class war? Far from it. The corporation fee-paying schools, admittedly in Glasgow and Edinburgh only in recent times, and probably only in the near future, were schools which bridged a gap between the independent sector, the high fee schools and the low fee schools.
523 I suggest that we are ensuring that the variety of education in Scotland will be considerable. The other argument is that these were class schools because only children from certain areas went there. I took the trouble to obtain a geographical break-up of where children came from who went to the Glasgow former fee-paying schools. I have a full list here and there is splendid representation at these schools from almost every postal district. To put the fears of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) at rest, the only postal district which is not represented at the Glasgow former fee-paying schools is C.2 where, as he knows, no one lives.
Thus we have a situation here that at the last count we have a fair geographical spread. This leads to the point which was so ably advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) on the question of the social mix. I think the hon. Member for Renfrew, West was right in what he said. The issue is not just that of fees but that of selectivity, too. In the corporation fee-paying schools, where there is a selective intake and relatively low fees, we have an opportunity to secure a social mix which would be absolutely impossible to obtain in a straight universal territorial comprehensive school.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman has had ample evidence to make him realise that, when the Member who has the Floor does not give way, he must resume his seat.
I have given way a great deal already. I find myself in some difficulty now, having listened to six hours of debate in which not one constructive point was put by hon. Members opposite. At least, I am entitled to a few minutes to reply to the various false arguments which have been raised.
What are hon. Members opposite trying to achieve? They say that they want to do away with class schools, they want to do away with any question of class privilege. What are they asking us to do? They ask us in the big cities to do away with the one chance we have of achieving a real social mix in our schools 524 by means of selection and, instead, have territorial comprehensive schools throughout. Do they believe that within our cities, where there are large areas almost all of bungalows, other areas entirely municipal, other areas which happen to be slum clearance areas, and with bungalow suburbs outside, one could possibly achieve a social mix with a territorial comprehensive system? How on earth could one do it? Far from creating a social mix, one would prevent it.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East and other hon. Members offered what they regarded as a sensible solution. They accepted that in the cities as they are, it is difficult to achieve a social mix, so that we should think of transporting pupils by one means or another, perhaps by buses.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman, who has had his opportunity, must now listen to the other side.
It has been demonstrated that it will be impossible to achieve a real social mix within our cities unless we have some kind of selective education, and the introduction of this Bill is one means of achieving it.
We heard an interesting argument from the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock, repeated by many of his hon. Friends, the astonishing argument based on his conception of electoral mandate. We were told that we have no mandate to introduce the Bill. He said that, because we did not have a majority of seats in Scotland after the last election, we have no right to bring in the Bill. That was, as I say, an astonishing argument to come from the right hon. Gentleman, who, with other Members of the Labour Government of the time, blatantly distorted the parliamentary elections by setting his name to the last Government's boundary reorganisation proposals, which created an absurd situation in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman should be thoroughly ashamed of his part in that gerrymandering, which this Government will put an end to.
However, even if we accept the argument that we are in a minority in Scotland—[HON. MEMBERS: "That is right."]—it is an astonishing new constitutional 525 principle which we are asked to accept. Those of us who recall the pleasure of seeing the contest between the right hon. Gentleman and the former Member for Hamilton, Mrs. Winifred Ewing, when the right hon. Gentleman obviously disagreed with her policies for Scottish nationalism, will realise that he is now "out-Winnie-ing Winnie", for what he suggests is that we have no right to introduce a policy for Scotland unless we have a majority of Scottish seats. If that were the case, on what authority did the previous Government introduce a whole series of Bills affecting England and Wales when they had no electoral majority in England and when they carried through comprehensive education reorganisation in 1965 with the support of Scottish Labour Members? The right hon. Gentleman should remember that his Government introduced a whole series of measures in 1965 without a majority in England and using their majority of Members from Scotland.
The right hon. Gentle-Gentleman will excuse me if I do not give way. I have several points to which to reply. The right hon. Gentleman has been quite unfair—
The right hon. Gentleman will have to listen for five minutes to the other side of the case.
Let us summarise what the Bill does. We have had talk about force and compulsion. The one thing that, I hope, every hon. Member will accept is that the Bill does not force anybody to do anything. It restores to local authorities the freedom to introduce fees for a limited number of their schools if they wish and if their elected representatives so decide.
It has been suggested that the people of Scotland do not want this. If they do not want it, all they need do is elect a Labour council and ensure that it does not happen. Those of us who keep in touch with feelings in Scotland are fully aware that the reverse will happen.
The second thing that the Bill does is to extend freedom of choice for parents, because without fee-paying schools the 526 choice is only between the independent sector, where fees are high, and free schools. Thirdly, we are preserving fine Scottish schools with great traditions. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that one school in particular has produced two Prime Ministers of Great Britain and has a fine academic record. The fourth thing that we are doing is preventing the imposition of universal territorial comprehensive education throughout Scotland, and particularly in the great cities, where this creates a real problem.
I suggest that in approaching this important though small Bill, hon Members opposite have not produced one new argument which they did not introduce in 1969 or any argument which has not been demolished by my hon. Friends on this side. In approaching this educational matter, they have been about as constructive at Attila the Hun and they have been blinded by idealogy. The Government and we on this side are concerned with the real problems of Scottish education. We intend to face up to them and to overcome them.
I again counsel hon. Members opposite to realise that one does not make progress simply by destroying what is good and what has a proved record of success. What we want in Scottish education is time to build up, time to overcome the problems which we inherited from the previous Administration, which we will face up to and overcome. This is a Bill which will restore freedom of choice. It will restore power to local authorities. It is a Bill which, we certainly believe, will achieve one more step forward in Scottish education and I plead with the House to give it a resounding majority.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ The House proceeded to a Division—
§ Mr. Lawson
(seated and covered): On a point of order. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) was on his feet before ten o'clock. 527 You ignored him, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and put the Queston. It was still not ten.
§ The Chair called a Division and a Division is now on.
§ The House having divided: Ayes 293, Noes 259.531
|Division No. 22.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, South)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Emery, Peter||Kinsey, Joseph|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Farr, John||Kirk, Peter|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Fell, Anthony||Kitson, Timothy|
|Astor, John||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fidler, Michael||Knox, David|
|Awdry, Daniel||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Lambton, Antony|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Lane, David|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Balniel, Lord||Fookes, Miss Janet||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fortescue, Tim||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Batsford, Brian||Foster, Sir John||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fowler, Norman||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Bell, Ronald||Fox, Marcus||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Benyon, W.||Fry, Peter||Loveridge, John|
|Berry, Hon. Anthony||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Biffen, John||Gardner, Edward||MacArthur, Ian|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gibson-Watt, David||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Blaker, Peter||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||McLaren, Martin|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Body, Richard||Glyn, Dr. Alan||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Boscawen, R. T.||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Goodhew, Victor||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Gorst, John||Maddan, Martin|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Gower, Raymond||Madel, David|
|Bray, Ronald||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest|
|Brewis, John||Green, Alan||Marten, Neil|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Grieve, Percy||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Bryan, Paul||Gryils, Michael||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Gummer, Selwyn||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Buck, Antony||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Burden, F. A.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Moate, Roger|
|Carlisle, Mark||Haselhurst, Alan||Molyneaux, James|
|Channon, Paul||Havers, Michael||Money, Ernle D.|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hawkins, Paul||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hay, John||Monro, Hector|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hayhoe, Barney||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Churchill, W. S.||Heseltine, Michael||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, East)||Hicks, Robert||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Higgins, Terence L.||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hiley, Joseph||Mudd, David|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hill, J. E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Murton, Oscar|
|Cooke, Robert||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Coombs, Derek||Holland, Philip||Neave, Airey|
|Cooper, A. E.||Holt, Miss Mary||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Cordle, John||Hordern, Peter||Nott, John|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hornsby-Smith. Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Onslow, Cranley|
|Cormack, Patrick||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Costain, A P.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Critchley, Julian||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North)||Osborn, John|
|Crouch, David||Hunt, John||Owen, Idris (Stockport, North)|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Curran, Charles||Iremonger, T. L.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian|
|Dance, James||James, David||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Jessel, Toby||Pounder, Rafton|
|Dean, Paul||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, South)||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jopling, Michael||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Dixon, Piers||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Raison, Timothy|
|Dykes, Hugh||Kershaw, Anthony||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Eden, Sir John||Kilfedder, James||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kimball, Marcus||Redmond, Robert|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, East)||Spence, John||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Reed, Hn. Peter (Dover)||Sproat, Iain||Waddington, David|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Stainton, Keith||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Stanbrook, lvor||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Walters, Dennis|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Stokes, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, North)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Sutcliffe, John||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Tapsell, Peter||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Rost, Peter||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Royle, Anthony||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)||Wilkinson, John|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Tebbit, Norman||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Temple, John M.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Scott, Nicholas||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Sharples, Richard||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||Worsley, Marcus|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Shelton, William (Clapham)||Tilney, John||Younger, Hon. George|
|Simeons, Charles||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Trew, Peter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Tugendhat, Christopher||Mr. Reginald Eyre and|
|Soref, Harold||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Mr. Jasper More.|
|Abse, Leo||Deakins, Eric||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North)|
|Albu, Austen||Delargy, H. J.||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Hunter, Adam|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dempsey, James||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Doig, Peter||Janner, Greville|
|Ashley, Jack||Dormand, J. D.||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Ashton, Joe||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Driberg, Tom||John, Brynmor|
|Barnes, Michael||Duffy, A. E. P.||Johnson, James (K' ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Barnett, Joel||Eadie, Alex||Johnson, Walter (Derby, South)|
|Baxter, William||Edelman, Maurice||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Beaney, Alan||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Ellis, Tom||Jones, Barry (Flint, East)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||English, Michael||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Evans, Fred||Judd, Frank|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Faulds, Andrew||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Booth, Albert||Fernyhough, E.||Kelley, Richard|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Lady wood)||Kerr, Russell|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kinnock, Neil|
|Bradley, Tom||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lambie, David|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lamond, James|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Foot, Michael||Latham, Arthur|
|Brown, Bob (N'o'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Ford, Ben||Lawson, George|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Forrester, John||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Buchan, Norman||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Freeson, Reginald||Leonard, Dick|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Gilbert, Dr. John||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham N.)|
|Campbell, Ian (Dunbartonshire, West)||Ginsburg, David||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Cant, R. B.||Golding, John||Lipton, Marcus|
|Carmichael, Neil||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Loughlin, Charles|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Gourlay, Harry||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, East)|
|Cocks, Michael||Grant, John D. (Islington, East)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Cohen, Stanley||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||MoBride, Neil|
|Coleman, Donald||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||MoCann, John|
|Concannon, J. D.||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||McCartney, Hugh|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||MacColl, James|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||McElhone, Frank|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, Central)||Hamling, William||McGuire, Michael|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Mackenzie, Gregor|
|Cronin, John||Hardy, Peter||Mackie, John|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Harper, Joseph||Maclennan, Robert|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Harrison, Walter (Wakeffeld)||McManus, Frank|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Hattersley, Roy||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Dalyell, Tam||Heffer, Erio S.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hilton, W. S.||Marquand, David|
|Davidson, Arthur||Horam, John||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Davies, Ifor (Cower)||Huckfield, Leslie||Meacher, Michael|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, Central)||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)||Mikardo. Ian|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Rankin, John||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)||Swain, Thomas|
|Molloy, William||Rees, Meriyn (Leeds, S.)||Taverne, Dick|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Richard, Ivor||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Moyle, Roland||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Tomney, Frank|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Torney, Tom|
|Murray, Ronald King||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Ogden, Eric||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Urwin, T. W.|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Roper, John||Varley, Eric G.|
|O'Malley, Brian||Rose, Paul B.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Oram, Bert||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Orme, Stanley||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Wallace, George|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Watkins, David|
|Padley, Walter||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Weitzman, David|
|Palmer, Arthur||Sillars, James||Wellbeloved, James|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Silverman, Julius||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Pardoe, John||Skinner, Dennis||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Small, William||Whitlock, William|
|Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, North)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Spearing, Nigel||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Pendry, Tom||Stallard, A. W.||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Pentland, Norman||Steel, David||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)||Woof, Robert|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Prescott, John||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Strang, Gavin||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Mr. Kenneth Marks.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It is impossible for the Chair to take two points of order simultaneously. Mr. Lawson.
§ Mr. Lawson
I wish to question the validity of the vote which has just been taken. That was why I rose earlier in case I should be cut out.
The Under-Secretary, winding up for the Government, sat down at one-and-a-half minutes to ten. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) was on his feet immediately calling Mr. Deputy Speaker. Mr. Deputy Speaker paid no attention whatsoever to my hon. Friend, but proceeded to take the vote. Despite the fact that when the hat was called for and the hat was on the head of my hon. Friend and it was still not ten o'clock, your predecessor, Mr. Speaker, persisted in going on with the vote. I ask whether, in those circumstances, since clearly my hon. Friend was on his feet before ten o'clock, that vote can be regarded as valid.
§ Mr. Speaker
—except what has been so graphically narrated by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson). I understand from what he said that the Minister sat down and that my predecessor in the Chair did not see the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) rising—[Interruption.] I ask hon. Members not to be too impatient. My predecessor in the Chair apparently did not see the hon. Gentleman, even with a hat on his head, according to the graphic description of the hon. Member for Motherwell. The Question was put, and the Question has been decided.
§ Mr. Speaker
One of the joys of the Chair is that so many hon. Members wish to give the occupant advice on points of order.
§ Mr. William Hamilton
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not know where you got your information from—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I got my information from the clear and succinct account of the hon. Gentleman's colleague.
§ Mr. Hamilton
You are getting some additional information from me. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller) was clearly seen 533 by your predecessor in the Chair. It was clearly a minute or two before ten o'clock. [Interruption.] The timekeeper will let us know. In those circum stances, is it not the case that an hon. Member is given the opportunity to speak at least until the Closure is moved by the Government Chief Whip? That being so, was it not highly improper for your predecessor in the Chair—
§ Mr. Hamilton
If we do not get satisfaction on this, there is only one course open to us, and that is to consider putting on the Order Paper a Motion of no confidence in the hon. Lady.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am talking very seriously now. I know the hon. Member's respect for the conventions of the House. He has, as a last resort, to move a Motion of censure on my predecessor in the Chair. I cannot judge what happened except from the accounts, dramatic, accurate, or otherwise, given by Members of the House. The hon. Lady, my predecessor in the Chair, put the Question. The Question was accepted by the House. What might have happened was that if the hon. Member persisted the Closure should have been moved and the vote would have been on the Closure.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Hon. Members are too impatient in wanting to advise the Chair. I long for advice, but I want it one by one, at a time.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether you are satisfied that the Chair has sufficient power to deal with the deteriorating situation that is arising in this Parliament—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I know that the hon. Member for Peterborough always has the power to advise Parliament on its conventions and its problems. We are not discussing the deterioration of Parliament from the days when the hon. Member knew that Parliament was so wonderful. We are discussing a specific issue, and the hon. Member must address himself to that.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
If I could complete my submission, it would be that tonight's incident is part and parcel—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. Whether it is part or parcel of something with which the hon. Member agrees or disagrees, he must address himself to the issue before us now.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
I was raising a new point of order, and I raise it with some force and some feeling. I am asking Mr. Speaker whether he is satisfied that the Chair has sufficient power to deal with a deteriorating situation in this Parliament. I cite what happened tonight as an example of what I mean—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member's philosophic observations on what has happened in Parliament do not concern the Chair at the moment. He must address himself to what happened tonight.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) covered himself and sat down on a point of order during the Division—which was correct. He was not prepared to accept the decision of the Chair, and he rose, still covered, and he paraded from one side of the House to the other until he placed himself alongside the Deputy Speaker, and gesticulated, and banged the Chair, beside the Deputy Speaker—[An HON. MEMBER: "Shame."]—and I venture to submit to you, Mr. Speaker—[An HON. MEMBER: "Apply for the Chiltern Hundreds."]—that if this incident is added to the other happenings of recent days then the authority of the Chair is being undermined and the standard of Parliament, I think, is being lowered, as was the case tonight—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. What is certain is that when an hon. Member is submitting a point of order and we have noise from either side of the House, Parliament, in which all of us believe, is being undermined.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
What I am saying is that procedures which have been laid down and followed for centuries were not followed—not only tonight but other nights. I am saying that there is clear evidence early in this Parliament that they are trying to disrupt the procedures of Parliament—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I am not prepared to accept from the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls), under the guise of a point of order, his 535 opinions on the present British Parliament—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member, if he wishes to speak to the point of order, must confine himself to that point of order on which I am asked to rule.
§ Sir Harmar Nicholls
Is it in order for a Member of this House to remain covered and to parade from one end of the Chamber to the other and gesticulate in front of the Deputy Speaker in the Chair in order to try to influence the decision the Chair will take?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am very grateful to the hon. Member for trying to help, but he knows that if objection is taken to something which has happened at the moment of Division, it is in order for an hon. Member, as it was in order for the late Sir Winston Churchill, whom we all loved, to put a hat on his head. Whether he paraded or not is something I know nothing about.
§ Dr. Miller
Further to that point of order. I am not now concerned with the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell was incensed at the fact that I rose to my feet with what celerity I could command having regard to my osteo-arthritic or rheumatic bones, but we were discussing a very important subject, and I rose to my feet at least two minutes before ten o'clock. We were discussing the very important subject of education in Scotland, and it ill behoves people who come in here at the last minute to get up—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I hope the hon. Member will not intermingle with his point of order his views on education in Scotland as opposed to education in England.
§ Dr. Miller
I am not trying to do that. I was here, and I was trying to get into the debate, and that is why I rose shortly before the hon. Member sat down, because I wanted to raise several points which he had brought to my attention during his speech. At least two minutes to ten, I got to my feet. I want to know whether it is in order that the vote was taken at this time; whether it is in 536 order that this vote should stand. I was on my feet wanting to enter the debate at least two minutes before ten o'clock.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am guided only by the representations I have had in the last few minutes about what happened at the Division. I understand that my predecessor in the Chair put the Question at some time before ten o'clock. This was a matter in the discretion of the Chair. If there had been objection taken, it was for somebody to move the Closure. The Closure could have been moved and would have been voted upon. I think the House wanted to come to a decision—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. When the Chair is making an important decision, it does not help the Chair if one side or the other cheers the Chair. I think that my predecessor in the Chair was justified in assuming that the House wanted to come to a decision. If someone had moved the Closure, I imagine, from what I have known of the debate during the many hours in which I have heard the views of both sides, that the Closure would have been accepted, so that the House could come to a decision. The decision stands.
§ Mr. Lawson
I regret taking this matter as far as this, and I respect your decision, Mr. Speaker. I would agree that, had the Closure been moved, we would have gone straight to the vote. But I want to put it to you again that my hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove was on his feet, I said a minute and a half, certainly substantially, before ten o'clock. My point is that, before ten o'clock—at one minute to ten as I looked at it—my hon. Friend was sitting on that bench with a hat on his head calling points of order.
I agree that I was rather disturbed. I know the procedure when a point of order is raised, and if the Member is seated and covered while a Division is in progress. I was disturbed that no attention was paid to the point of order. It was on that basis that I myself—perhaps it was a little presumptuous of me—got the hat from my hon. Friend and sat on the bench and called a point of order—and no attention was paid to me either.
I put it to you, Sir, that an hon. Member is entitled to feel a wee bit indignant if, under proper circumstances, no attention 537 is paid to a proper point of order and the vote is persisted with. It was on that basis that I moved down, very sedately and calmly, very much in order, and asked Mr. Deputy Speaker if she was paying no attention to a point of order. The hat was on my head then. Apart from this, I did nothing.
We all have memories of what has happened here in the past, when only 30 seconds and not two minutes has been involved. I put it to you, Sir, that if there could be no doubt—I am saying that there could be none—that an hon. Member had the hat on his head before ten o'clock and no Closure was moved, and that hon. Member was challenging the vote, that vote should properly be declared invalid.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Motherwell and the whole House know that it puts Mr. Speaker in an impossible position if, in an ex parte discussion of what took place in the Chair, he is asked to repudiate one of his two trusted colleagues who occupies the Chair in his unavoidable absence. I begin by that.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman, who knows more about Parliament than I do, knows that he does not talk when the Speaker is on his feet.
I understand that the Chair, in my absence, put the Question. I have no knowledge of what happened in the minute, two minutes, before putting the Question except what has been described to me by the House. I am prepared to let the Question stand, or to put it again.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. William Whitelaw)
Of course, I understand your feelings, Mr. Speaker. I understand the feelings of the House very well. Perhaps no one has been more involved in the last six years than I have been in various controversies leading up to votes at ten o'clock. Perhaps I can reasonably say that no one has tried more fairly than I have, from the position which the right hon. Gentleman now occupies, to ensure that one does one's best in the interests of the House towards ten o'clock, with all the difficulties that involve the House at that time. I fully understand the feelings of hon. Members 538 opposite, and I believe it right that the House should consider very carefully how the debates come to an end at ten o'clock.
But I feel, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that this will be taken by the House as a whole, that there are difficulties. We are all placed in difficulties. The Chair is in a difficult position on these occasions. But the Chair has put the Question. I fully appreciate what the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) and other hon. Members have said. I fully appreciate his feelings and those of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller). I understand what they say.
But surely there is a duty on Parliament and on all of us on both sides of the House. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well the problems that we are having on this occasion. But surely it is reasonable to say that once the Question has been put from the Chair, the decision of the Chair can be challenged in a proper way on a future occasion. But once the Question has been put from the Chair and has been voted on, surely it is right, in the interests of Parliament, that it should be accepted.
I fully appreciate the difficulties, and I fully understand how hon. Members feel, but it is perfectly clear that if they are not satisfied they have their remedy. But I honestly think that in the interests of Parliament, and in my own humble experience—which, goodness knows, is very much shorter than that of many hon. Members—once the Question has been put from the Chair it should be reasonably accepted. Hon. Members who do not like how it happened—we all have our troubles from time to time—have their remedies. I know they do not like to use them—no one does. But I believe in the interests of the House as a whole, that once the Question has been put it should be accepted that the Question was put, otherwise the whole procedures of the House will become very difficult. I am in the hands of the House—I am only anxious to help hon. Members in all parts—but I feel that what I suggest is a reasonable proposition in all the circumstances.
§ Mr. Fred Peart (Workington)
I think that my hon. Friends have made their point. I understand their feelings, and I am glad that the Leader of the House 539 also does. Naturally, I was sorry that the hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nichols) tried to drag in other matters about people wishing to frustrate Parliament. I believe that there is no hon. Member on either side who wishes that. All I say is that I would accept the sound advice of the Leader of the Opposition — [Laughter.] — well, who knows, the Lord President of the Council 540 may one day be in that position. The Leader of the House has put the position clearly and fairly and I hope that my hon. Friends will accept what he has said.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am grateful to both sides of the House. The Chair is in a difficult position when he receives accounts of what has happened in the House.