HC Deb 18 November 1971 vol 826 cc637-778
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), I should inform the House that I have selected the Amendment in the names of the Prime Minister and other right hon. Members.

3.50 p.m.

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the policies of Her Majesty's Government, which will accentuate the disparities in our educational system, and are socially divisive and economically wasteful, and their failure to announce adequate and timely provision for the expansion of higher education. First of all, I should tell the right hon. Lady why my colleagues and I have chosen to return to education only two weeks after our last debate, though I suspect that she knows the reason as well as I do. I realise that, under our rules of order, the right hon. Lady had to speak first on the last occasion. However, her speech on 8th November was thoroughly unsatisfactory. Once again—and we are becoming a little tired of it—all that she did was to parade her one figleaf, primary school replacements, and make some utterly contentless remarks about higher education. The Times Educational Supplement remarked after her Easter speech to the National Union of Teachers conference on slow learners that she was not a slow learner in the art of saying nothing gracefully. On 5th November the right hon. Lady excelled herself. All she did was to increase the dismay being felt throughout the country about her policies, or lack of them, in most sectors of education.

Last week, I visited seven of the Scottish universities and one of the largest colleges of education. I spoke to large meetings of students in each one. Everywhere I went, I found the most intense anger at the right hon. Lady and condemnation of her policy among all the students—certainly on her anti-student consultative document, which may win her a three-minute ovation at the Tory Party conference next year. I found similar anger at her policy on education across the board.

I do not know whether the right hon. Lady realises—and one of her remarks today strengthened our view of her—that she is almost universally regarded as a survival from a past age, manipulating, with some skill and a great deal of stealth, everything on which she can lay her hands—cash, buildings, the law, the lot—to preserve the kind of society which will go on electing a Tory Government.

At the beginning of a debate on education, it is worth making the point that a society and its education system always reflect each other. If one is unjust, the other must be unjust. If one is elitist, the other must be élitist.

As for the right hon. Lady's colleague, the Scottish Under-Secretary, whom I am glad to see present today, we witnessed in his winding-up on 5th November a speech which was really an affront to Parliament. It was only the fact that it was his maiden speech as a Minister which deterred us from protesting articulately then. He did not pretend to reply to any of the points that we had made. He simply read a lot of files from the Scottish Education Department. I am sure that he had the Book of Deuteronomy with him in case he got to the end before four o'clock. He completely ignored all the points that we had made.

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

Oh, come!

Mr. Short

The Secretary of State for Wales was not present at the time. He knows nothing about it.

Today, before making some additional points, I want to raise some of the points that we raised on 5th November. The first is a small but important one. It is to ask whether the right hon. Lady has nothing to say about the gross discourtesy to the trade unions and associations which submitted their views to the working party on the managerial structure of local authorities. Has she no apology to make, or is it normal for this Government to ask national associations for their views and then not only to write the report before receiving those views but have the effrontery to tell them so?

Since our debate on 5th November I have discovered that the National Association of Youth Officers was treated in exactly the same way as the others. That Association submitted its views. Before those views were submitted, the report was prepared, and the Government had the cheek to tell the Association that they had done this. We are entitled to ask the right hon. Lady for an apology.

Secondly, if the right hon. Lady intends again to baffle us with science about the building programme, perhaps she will preface her remarks by saying how much building costs, the cost of land and the cost of building materials have risen—not only by how much she has increased the cost limits to cater for increased costs, but the actual increases—so that the education world can measure in real terms the size of her figleaf.

Thirdly, will she tell the House and the country what is the earliest date by which local authorities and the churches may replace inadequate, decaying old secondary schools which are quite unsuitable for the purposes for which they are being used? Hundreds of thousands of children up and down the country are in these schools and are being denied the right to a decent education because of the right hon. Lady's policy, and children do not have a second chance to get a school education.

The right hon. Lady has two great advantages in this matter of school building which the Labour Government did not have. First, there is a diminishing basic need element in her building programme. She explained this much better than I can in a letter to the National Union of Teachers on 16th June. Speaking of the last few years, she said: Priority has had to be given to meeting the need for new places arising from a growing school population. Consequently little has been available to improve or replace the worst schools and to relieve overcrowding. Now primary numbers in some areas are beginning to fall, and the decline in primary rolls will help to relieve pressure on accommodation and allow some of the less suitable accommodation to be taken out of use. She has that advantage. The basic need element turned down when she came to office.

The Government also have a tremendous advantage of a balance of payments surplus, which this year will be about £1,000 million, inherited from the Labour Government—

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)


Mr. Short

—compared with a deficit of about £700 million which the Labour Government inherited from the previous Conservative Government and under which my colleagues and I had to operate.

I understand the right hon. Lady's difficulty. The whole of this massive surplus on our balance of payments has been committed already to tax reductions for well-to-do taxpayers while the education budget has actually been reduced. Does the right hon. Lady really confirm today that, with a balance of payments surplus of £1,000 million per annum, which is what it is running at at the moment, from June 1970 up to April 1974–3¾ years of Tory rule—she can find only £4.5 million to replace old secondary schools, and nothing at all from 1972 to 1974? Out of that colossal surplus which the Government inherited from the previous Administration, cannot she find a little more than £4.5 million over four years? What hope has a school like the one to which my hon and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) referred, the Thomas Calton School, of replacement this side of the end of the decade?

Perhaps most deafening on 5th November was the Government's complete silence on the expansion of higher education, which is by far the biggest physical problem facing education in the 1970s. I shall say another word about this and be more explicit about the problem facing us.

On 23rd October last year the right hon. Lady's Department published its Planning Document No. 2. It forecast a need for 727,000 places in higher education in 1981, and it compared that with 331,000 places in 1967. I have pointed frequently to the inadequacy of the assumptions on which I believe this estimate is based. For example, there is no real estimate of the effect that raising the school leaving age will have on the demand for higher education. But, assuming that it is correct and we have to find about 750,000 places by 1981, it will require an annual cost increase at constant prices averaging 5.4 per cent. per annum from 1971 to 1981. This is lower than the expansion in the 1960s, when higher education was given priority over other sectors but it is higher than the likely growth in gross domestic product.

I ask for two clear and specific replies. First, will the right hon. Lady tell us in the clearest terms whether the Government accept a commitment to a growth rate in higher education which will ensure that by 1981 the then 18-year-olds will not have less opportunity to get places in higher education than their elder brothers and sisters have today? Parents of today's primary school children want to know the answer. I asked the question on 5th November but got no reply. Is she aiming to maintain the Robbins' criteria for the provision of higher education throughout the lifetime of this Parliament?

Secondly, if the right hon. Lady is going to plead graduate unemployment—as I suspect—as a reason for not accepting this growth rate, will she tell us whether in her view there is some peculiar feature about British society and British industry—apart from a Tory Government—which makes them incapable of absorbing the same proportion of graduates as other industrialised European countries and well under half of those absorbed in the United States?

Another related feature is the supply of teachers. The Labour Government almost doubled the capacity of the colleges and departments of education. The right hon. Lady has paid tribute to this in a speech on 6th January last, when she said: This was undoubtedly a sound judgment on priorities. Indeed, the now fairly rapid improvement in staffing standards in our schools is due entirely to our efforts in training more teachers. However, in the same speech, she went on to say: But it is a serious question whether, in the second half of this decade, it will be right to continue the output of teachers at the present rate. What does she mean by that? I have asked this before and have received no reply. She clearly implied that teacher output may be reduced in about four years from now in the middle of the decade. She most certainly meant that it will not be increased. She has never explained this but I hope she realises that the implications could have two consequences.

The first consequence is that if this sector of higher education—teacher training, which currently has 120,000 students—is not to grow at the rate at which her own No. 2 Planning Document estimates the number of students qualified for higher education should grow during the decade, it follows that the universities and polytechnics must grow at an even higher annual rate. Does the right hon. Lady accept the logic of that? If not, where is the logic wrong?

The second consequence is that if the right hon. Lady does have it in mind to reduce the output of trained teachers, she must have in mind something about the size of classes, because the two are related, otherwise how can she decide by how much to reduce the output of teachers? She has, understandably, refused every request from me and from the National Union of Teachers for any indication whatever on a policy for class size. The union wrote to her on 25th May: … the union has on a number of occasions invited you to give a pledge on the size of classes comparable to that given by your predecessor, and we would ask you again to do this. The right hon. Lady replied on 16th June: I do not think it would be appropriate for me to call for a new staffing objective of the kind you describe. Why not? I know as well as the right hon. Lady does that school organisation is very much more flexible today and that a good deal of teaching is not done on a class basis, but, by and large, pretty well every teacher throughout the country, certainly almost every teacher in the primary sector, is responsible for a class, and the size of that unit is the most important factor in improving the quality of education. What is her view about the size of the class?

I invite the right hon. Lady to accept as an objective of the Government the objective I laid down for the Labour Government at Swansea on 12th March, 1970. At the risk of boring her, I will quote again what I said there: May I repeat in the clearest possible terms that the aim of the Government is the pledge we gave in our 1964 election manifesto— namely to have no class in any school in England and Wales over 30. That is now our target. Does the right hon. Lady accept that or not?

Before I leave the question of higher education, I want to say something about the James Inquiry. I will not discuss the so-called "leaks" but I must tell the right hon. Lady that since our last debate I have been making inquiries and have discovered beyond a doubt that the leaks were made quite deliberately by a member of the James Committee itself. All I would like to say about them is that the policy they propose would be utterly unacceptable to this side of the House and, I believe, would be equally unacceptable to the vast majority of the educational world.

I mention this and make our position clear, as my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) did in a statement, because I suspect that the right hon. Lady—whom I have learned to suspect all the time in everything—has also accepted these proposals before they have been published as a relatively cheap way of getting a contribution to solving the higher education problem of which I have been talking at the expense of the quality and professional aspirations of the teaching profession.

A straw in the wind I heard about yesterday makes me extremely suspicious. Will the right hon. Lady explain why her Department has organised a course from 26th to 30th March next, No. N112, to take place at the Leeds College of Education and to be conducted by one of Her Majesty's inspectors, Mr. Phillips, on the teaching of science in a college of education, organised on the post-James basis of two years plus two years? Notice of this has gone out to the principals of all colleges of education. What is going on? Is the Department already working on the basis of this leaked report? If not, does the right hon. Lady not know what her officials are up to? She surely knows about the course. Will she explain it?

Secondly, I am told on very good authority that the right hon. Lady is to have the report on her desk on 31st December but that it will not be published until March, the ostensible reason being Stationery Office printing prob- lems. I must tell her frankly that we do not believe it. I warn her that there must be the widest possible consultation on the report before the Government make up their minds. The report means so much to the future of the education service, for good or ill, that for once, just for once, cannot the right hon. Lady operate openly on this without all her usual fixing and arranging and deciding behind the scenes?

Talking of fixing and arranging, I want to return briefly to the amazing story of the right hon. Lady's visit to the tennis club, because there is another episode to it. The right hon. Lady visited the St. George's Hill Tennis Club at Weybridge on 3rd February. I have often wondered what happens in tennis clubs in February; now I know. I return to the subject because it illustrates what has been up to recent months a little known side of the right hon. Lady's activities. The story is now a little better known and documented since 5th November, and it reveals what is true of the Government generally, and certainly of the right hon. Lady—that their public posture bears little relationship to the reality of their administration.

I see from HANSARD that the right hon. Lady is reported to have shouted from a seated position, "Absolute rubbish" when I told the House about her meeting with a group of ladies, including Mrs. Habershon, a leading figure in the Thatcher cell in Surrey. If the right hon. Lady will assure me that she did not visit the Weybridge Tennis Club on 3rd February, or about that time, and did not meet Mrs. Habershon there and was not asked to "save our grammar schools for our own good", I will withdraw the accusation, but, of course, she cannot do so.

For the sake of greater accuracy, I have obtained a picture of the event. It shows the right hon. Lady only two feet away from Mrs. Habershon, both of them with black stars above their heads. Of course she was there and this is where the plot was hatched to make Rydens School an educationally unviable school. This is where the decision was taken to bring the concept of comprehensive schools in Surrey into disrepute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Whoopee."] And "Whoopee" to you, too.

On 18th June, her official, Mr. Jameson, wrote to the local education authority—and I have his letter—informing it that its arrangements were an unreasonable exercise of power and that the right hon. Lady was issuing a directive under Section 68 of the 1944 Act to retain selection in the area of the Rydens School. Her action was illegal and the right hon. Lady knows it. What advice did she get from her principal legal adviser on this matter?

As in the instance of her own constituency, where she rode roughshod over a referendum, when 24,000 out of 28,000 parents voted in favour of reorganisation, here in Surrey, too, she rode roughshod over all the teachers' organisations and the vast majority of parents. By a remarkable coincidence, the petition in favour of reorganisation was signed by 24,000 people, the same number as in Barnet, and it was presented to the Surrey County Council earlier this year.

The following resolution was passed unanimously at a meeting of the Surrey County Teachers' Association: That the Surrey County Teachers' Association deplores the irresponsible decision of the Secretary of State for Education and Science for authorising opting into the 11 plus selection procedure in Walton and Hersham, contrary to the majority verdict of the Surrey County Council and against the overwhelming weight of professional and popular opinion; and pledges its continued support to the Surrey Education Committee in its present efforts to eliminate selection and separatism and to achieve a pattern of genuinely comprehensive education throughout the county. A majority of the county council and the education committee is committed to the principle, but this great democrat who sits opposite me, the right hon. Lady who said: we will maintain the … rights of local education authorities to decide what is best for their areas".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1970; Vol. 803, c. 677–8.] on this occasion says that she and her adviser, Mrs. Habershon, know what is best, as they did in Barnet and Walsall and elsewhere.

Sir G. Nabarro

Who is Mrs. Habershon?

Mr. Short

I will tell the hon. Gentleman afterwards if he cares to talk to me outside the Chamber.

Sir G. Nabarro

I am following the right hon. Gentleman's narrative with great care. I am mystified as to what a Thatcher cell is and who is this shadowy figure, Mrs. Habershon, and what public position she occupies and why the right hon. Gentleman attaches such extraordinary importance to her utterings.

Mr. Short

Mrs. Habershon is far from being a shadowy figure. If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I am coming to Mr. Habershon as well, for since our debate of 5th November another chapter has been added to this story.

Mr. Habershon is a Tory member of the Education Committee in Surrey. He is chairman of the North-West Division. This gentleman wrote a letter to all Tory councils in Surrey saying that the Government wanted to retain grammar schools and that if the L.E.A. wanted to introduce true comprehensive schools, that is, without selection, they might find themselves in conflict with the Secretary of State". This alarmed the Chairman of the Education Committee and he wrote another letter pointing out, or purporting to point out, what was Government policy. Like the speeches of the right hon. Lady, it did not say anything in particular. One rather interesting point was that it quoted something from the Journal of the Swinton Conservative College which was written by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison). He said: We are not against the introduction of comprehensive schools. The policy is that decisions should be made locally. Not to be outdone, Mr. Habershon sent a second letter to all councilors—

Sir G. Nabarro

Good old Habershon.

Mr. Short

Good old Habershon—saying, and I can quite understand the right hon. Lady's embarrassment, I should like members to know that when I showed a copy of my letter to the Secretary of State herself on Thursday afternoon at the party conference, which she read in my presence, she did not repudiate any of the statements contained therein …". The Secretary of the Woking Stop the 11-Plus Campaign, Squadron-Leader P. R. Sanderson, in a letter quoted in The Times Educational Supplement, this week, said: It is known that Mr. Habershon and Mrs. Thatcher are acquainted. Mr. Habershon is a member of the legal profession and as such might be considered unlikely to make unsupportable claims. The House is entitled to know what is going on. The right hon. Lady saw this letter but she did not repudiate any statements in it, a letter saying that if a local authority did not try to retain grammar schools, it would find itself in collision with the Government.

I remind the right hon. Lady that she is responsible to the House, not to any squalid little gangs of Tory reactionaries up and down the country. We are getting thoroughly fed up with her coming down here with all her protestations about local authority freedom and then, behind everybody's back, clobbering even the progressive elements in her own party. I have spent a little time on this enthralling story because it illustrates the emerging pattern in her administration—being in a white sheet at the Dispatch Box, but acting with cloak and dagger in all her liaisons with all the worst elements in the local authorities.

I shall not discuss school milk at any great length, because I have no doubt that if they catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, some of my hon. Friends will have something to say on the topics of school milk and school meals. I want to ask the right hon. Lady a question about one thing which puzzles me greatly. She will recollect that on 5th November my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) asked her whether it was the policy of the Government to turn the service over to private caterers under contract. She replied: Until the hon. Member mentioned it, I had not even thought of it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 585.] I have with me a report prepared in the early part of the year by a firm of educational consultants, Maynard Potts Associates, for the Milk Marketing Board. The report says: More recently in a speech by the Secretary of State there was an invitation to education committees to combine with commercial caterers in supplying a much wider variety of meals and snacks. Here, again, I suspect the right hon. Lady's posture at the Box—she never heard of it—but what is going on behind the scenes? I should like to know what is going on. Will she tell us whether she said what she is alleged in the report to have said, and, if so, what she meant by it? We have heard about the inquiry into the future of the school meals service. Perhaps the right hon. Lady will tell us whether handing the school meals service over to private enterprise is being considered.

I turn now to the youth service, which gets little mention in our education debates and has been disgracefully treated by this Government. I shall spend a little time telling the House about it. Since 21st April, when we last raised this matter, it has become even clearer that the right hon. Lady's objective is to end the service on a national basis. As a result, it is no exaggeration to say that the service today has virtually ceased to exist above the local authority level.

Yesterday I was told by a senior official of one of our best known and biggest voluntary youth organisations that morale within the service is lower than it has been for many years. Let me tell the House of three steps which the right hon. Lady has taken in her 17 months of office.

First, there was a body called the Youth Service Development Council, set up as a result of the Albemarle Report to carry out a thorough and detailed study of the service and advise the Government, which it did, under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell). The council published a detailed report called "Youth and Community" with a large number of specific and detailed recommendations which, if implemented, would have given this country an excellent service relevant to the needs of our time. The right hon. Lady not only rejected that report out of hand but sacked the council as well.

There is thus now no central body of any kind to advise the Government on youth matters and to give co-ordinated leadership and inspiration to the localities, and worse, there is no plan for giving relevance and coherence to the many bodies in this area.

Second, the right hon. Lady has refused to give a Government grant for capital projects until April 1972, and will give them then until March 1974 only if the local authority gives a grant. For 30 years Government grants of up to 50 per cent. of the cost have been given to youth projects whether the local authority contributed or not. The great merit of this was that the youth services could go to the local council and, by pointing out that the central Government was offering grants, induce many local authorities to contribute. The right hon. Lady has ended that. After March 1974 the maximum grant will be 33⅓ per cent., provided that the local authority also makes a grant.

Clearly—the right hon. Lady knows this if she has bothered to look at the service—this has created tremendous uncertainty about development, especially in the socially deprived areas, and it will result in many fewer youth projects in areas where they are most needed and where money is hard to come by.

Third, the right hon. Lady is reviewing annual grants to headquarters. I do not object to that, but for some reason the review will not be completed until 1973. Surely it could have been completed in three months rather than three years. More than that, pending the completion of the review she will not increase any of the grants to take account of inflation. The effect of this is that such organisations as the Scouts, the Guides and the Boys' Brigade will have suffered a cut in real terms of about 30 per cent. by the time the review is complete. What a shabby subterfuge—to make a cut, and to say that she is awaiting the outcome of the review before adding something on to take account of inflation!

I remind the right hon. Lady that the Albermarle Report said that Government grants towards regional expenditure on administration and training of a national youth organisation should be given, and should not amount to more than 75 per cent. of the total cost. If the House would like to compare what is being given, it may be interested to know that the National Association of Boys' Clubs will, I estimate, this year receive a grant of well under 20 per cent. of its costs of administration and training. These are organisations which provide major elements in what we still inaccurately call the national youth service. In our debate on 21st April, the right hon. Lady said: The level of Government support to the Youth Service will be maintained in real terms."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st April, 1971; Vol. 815, c. 1221.] That promise has been broken, like most other promises of this Government.

I have here a letter written by Lord Althorp, National Chairman of the Boys' Clubs, which surely indicates the attitude of the Government to the youth service. There are many other sectors in education apart from primary schools. I quote: The attitude of the Department's officials at these meetings"— the meetings, that is, with the Department and the National Association of Boys' Clubs— has been described by those involved as hostile and very discouraging. The officials have given the unmistakable impression that the Secretary of State needs to be persuaded that the National Voluntary Youth Organisations need any grants from the Department or that they fulfil any useful purpose in the Youth Service. It has been stated that Mrs. Thatcher has no intention of the existing grants being increased in real terms while the proposed review is in progress. The right hon. Lady is defeating the efforts of local education authorities to reorganise their secondary education, while paying lip service to local authority freedom. She is destroying our youth service while paying lip service to it.

Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I had a letter from Mr. Dickinson, Chairman of the Northumberland Association of Boys' Clubs? My right hon. Friend may have received a similar letter. It shows that in Northumberland they clearly despair of the policies being pursued by the right hon. Lady. Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the mean, cheeseparing, niggardly policies she is pursuing in youth work, as in all other educational sectors, is a direct attack on development areas—areas least able to find an adequate amount of money for youth projects?

Mr. Short

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is the under-privileged children and youths who must bear the brunt of this policy. I have Mr. Dickinson's letter, and I also have a letter from him saying that I may use that letter in the debate if I wish.

I see from the Press that the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment has written a Conservative pamphlet called "A New Style Emerges" in which he says that the attempt by the central Administration to be involved in everything has given way to a calmer and more systematic preoccupation with the creation of strategy and the right policy framework in which others can then get on and carry out the responsibilities. Does the right hon. Lady think that her attitude towards the Youth Service fits in with that? Where is the strategy? Where is the calm creation of the right policy framework? Where is the support from the right hon. Lady for those thousands of dedicated youth leaders who are doing so much for the nation's youth?

I make no apology for returning to the effects of the Government's proposals on local government reform on the education service. I appeal to the Government once more, as teachers and educationists throughout the country are doing, and I also appeal to hon. Members, to abandon their parochial view on this. Of course, we are all fond of our own local education authorities—or most of us are—but we really cannot impair the education of a future generation of our children in order to pander to town councillors who, not unnaturally, want to retain as many powers as possible.

I ask the right hon. Lady how she justifies placing education in the hands of 11 of the 33 proposed metropolitan districts which have fewer than the Government's own minimum population figure of ¼ million necessary for a viable education authority.

The Government's policy will hit principally the old industrial areas in the north, the part of the country where 2 million children lose out on education already to a considerable degree, an area which does not get nearly sufficient help because of the Government's wrong educational priorities. I hope that the right hon. Lady will read the excellent pamphlet by Mr. George Taylor, the ex-Chief Education Officer of Leeds. I know she has received a copy.

If education is to be reorganised as the Government propose, children in the industrial north will increasingly have a poorer educational system than in the rest of the country. The central point in educational administration today is finding adequate financial resources for a growth rate which in most sectors now seems to be greater than the growth in the gross domestic product. The small authorities proposed will find increasing difficulty in generating these resources. These are also the authorities with the greatest social problems and burdens.

For example, most of them are areas of very high unemployment. Sunderland has, or had until today—now it is more—6.8 per cent. of the population unemployed, Tyneside 6.3 per cent., and Barnsley, Doncaster, Bradford, Rotherham, Liverpool, Rochdale, Wigan all exceed 4.5 per cent. This is reflected in the number of children receiving free meals. Will the right hon. Lady please listen to this important statistic about South Shields? The new South Shields will include the old Jarrow—about which she may have heard in her youth, when she was paying for her school milk. It is one of the new metropolitan districts below ¼ million population. There the number of free school lunches is 49.5 per cent. of all meals supplied. Imagine that; almost exactly half of all the lunches suppplied in the borough are free! The figure for Leeds is 22.5 per cent. Barnsley 28.4 per cent. and so on.

If the right hon. Lady looks at rateable value she will find that 17 of the new metropolitan local education authorities will have a rateable value of at least £6 below the national average. These are only three random examples of the detriment from which these authorities will suffer. In many cases among those I have mentioned there will be a double detriment because of the very low population, below the Government's own figure. Will the right hon. Lady tell me whether the Government will reconsider their policy on the allocation of functions in the new local education authorities or even consider something on the I.L.E.A. lines under the metropolitan councils? If they will not they will be conniving at a further widening of the imbalance between the industrial north and the more prosperous areas of the south.

I have discussed a number of differing subjects, from the "Habershon Plot" to the deliberate strangulation of the youth service. The policy, if that is the right word, which emerges is exactly the opposite of what is needed to meet Britain's central educational need; that is, to give our whole education system a major tilt towards compensating for social, and therefore educational, deprivation. The stark, inescapable fact which has been demonstrated over and over again in recent years by Lord Robbins, Dr. Douglas and a host of others is that working-class children are not getting, and have never had, a fair deal from the education system. Half of our working-class children today leave school by the age of 16½. To take another figure, the chances of a working-class child going to university relative to the middle-class child have not improved in 30 years.

This colossal disadvantage suffered by so many of the children of Britain is our most inexcusable and biggest brain drain. A similar failure to use national resources in the economic area would be universally regarded as a national scandal, and rightly so.

I have said nothing about nursery schools, which are a top priority in compensating for deprivation. Let me repeat my remarks at Question Time. Until the announcement promised for 1971–72 in the final paragraph of the Home Office Press notice of 18th January, on the urban programme, is honoured—and the right hon. Lady did not honour it on 4th November in reply to a Written Question—we have to assume that the rate of provision of nursery places under the urban programme has been halved from what it was in the first two years under a Labour Government. I can demonstrate the arithmetic of this to any hon. Member who wishes to see it. It is incontrovertible.

The absolute priority being given to primary school replacement, to the complete exclusion of any secondary replacements, diverts a quite disproportionate share of resources to the better-off areas. A new primary school at Eastbourne is very nice and desirable but a new secondary school in the Gorbals or a new nursery school in Scotswood Road, which my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Bob Brown) knows well, or a new youth club in the Scotland division of Liverpool is very much more desirable.

The right hon. Lady's appallingly underhand attempts to defeat secondary reorganisation does her little credit, and it is probably the greatest single factor in preventing working-class children from raising their educational attainment to the level of their potential. Her utter failure to plan adequately or to plan at all for the expansion of higher education will further depress the chances of young people from working-class homes.

Mr. John E. B. Hill (Norfolk, South)


Mr. Short

The right hon. Lady's cynical and "couldn't care less" attitude to the size of classes and her threat to the continued expansion of the teacher force will hit the down-town school most—the school which is already a multiply-deprived school.

The right hon. Lady's war of attrition against the national youth service will hit hardest the hundreds of thousands of children who leave school at 15, especially in the industrial north and for whom the context of a youth organisation is so important in keeping alive the few glowing embers kindled at school. The withdrawal of milk from 7-year-olds in the State primary schools, while at the same time making a gift of £2 million plus to the direct grant schools, is an affront to decency and is, I believe, so regarded by the vast majority of people, including, to their credit, many parents of direct grant school children.

The Government's policy on local government reform, apart from the stark naked gerrymandering with Which it is riddled from one end to the other—[Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen do not know that they are not living in the real world. This will further depress the standards of educational provision in the industrial north.

What a miserable picture it all makes, socially divisive, grossly unjust, wasteful of the nation's most valuable resources, its brainpower. It is a policy which will increase the disparities between northern and southern authorities, between private schools and the public sector, between the working-class child and the middle-class child. It is a policy designed to perpetuate two nations. It is the disreputable policy of a disreputable Government which is increasingly detested by the people of Britain, and the sooner they go the better.

4.39 p.m.

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

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'warmly commends Her Majesty's Government for their educational policies at all levels, in that they are enlarging educational opportunity by providing additional resources to bring about increased building programmes for schools and colleges, by the expansion of further and higher education, by the raising of the school-leaving age and by increased support for deprived areas, with special reference to the needs of young children '. Before starting on the speech which I had intended to give, we on this side of the House wish to express the deep sense of loss which not only the I.L.E.A. but the whole education world has sustained by the untimely death of Sir William Houghton. He was a distinguished and devoted member of a dedicated group of local government servants, the chief education officers, on whose experience and wisdom we depend so heavily for the faithful carrying out of our central and local policies.

I now turn to a speech so full of distortions that I wonder it was worth while delivering. If that is all that the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) has to say, I wonder that we have another Supply Day debate at all.

I was tempted at one stage to devote this speech to correcting the right hon. Gentleman's mistakes in the last debate. I will correct some of them, but I intend to make my own speech relating to the Motion and to the Amendment, which is more than the right hon. Gentleman did.

I shall attempt to correct some of the right hon. Gentleman's mistakes in this debate. He referred to a course at Leeds College. He indicated that it introduced the element of a reference to James in its title. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I thought that his words were, "a post-James course." That is correct. He did say, "a post-James course." This course is being held in March, 1972, in conjunction with the A.T.C.D.E. It was organised before James was appointed. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has deduced wrongly that, because it related to a particular structure, it has been inspired by the James inquiry. It has no connection with it whatsoever.

The right hon. Gentleman made a number of comments about youth service headquarters grants. There is to be a debate later this evening about this matter. However, the right hon. Gentleman should know that the review will take a long time.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I will say why. Because the Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organisations has asked that there should be an independent study of headquarters grants through P.E.P. financed by the Department. I queried it at the time, but that is the request and I have acceded to it. If they want an independent inquiry I am only too delighted that they should have it, and I have agreed that it should be financed by the Department.

In the meantime, I should like to say how much I value the work done by the youth organisations. I have kept in existence the headquarters grants, and there is full agreement that if those grants are insufficient, due to inflation, the particular services can apply for more.

On capital grants, the right hon. Gentleman did not say that any not taken up by the local authorities will be channelled directly to the deprived areas through the urban programme.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of points, particularly about the inquiry into the managerial structure of local authorities. That had nothing to do with my Department; it came under the Department of the Environment. Whatever that inquiry recommended, I believe that, when it come to take taking action, we got the right result by keeping statutory education committees.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of points about the school building programme and asked how much cost limits had gone up. Cost limits for primary and secondary schools were raised by 13 per cent. and for further education by 20 per cent. All these figures are taken into account in Report on Education, No. 71, which properly multiplies previous figures to constant 1971 prices, so that the figures are properly comparable. The right hon. Gentleman should give some credit for our attempting to give fully comparable figures, for seeing that in that table the major school building for England and Wales is expressed in millions of pounds at constant 1971 prices. We have always attempted in this leaflet and in the capital buildings figures to give constant figures wherever there is a conversion factor.

I turn to the terms of the Motion and of the Amendment.—[Interruption.]—I will get rid of that once and for all. I addressed a lunch time meeting which happened to be held in that tennis club. My recollection of the meeting—I believe it was reported in the Daily Telegraph—is quite simple. I recall one question from an unknown lady in the audience who asked whether I would give a firm undertaking that grammar schools would be continued. I got into very hot water for saying that I was not sufficiently doctrinaire to give any undertaking about any particular type of school. That is my total recollection of that meeting. I believe, though I am not sure, that that question was reported in the Daily Telegraph. If the right hon. Gentleman had to use some of the drivel he used in his speech, I am amazed that he should call it a debate on education.

The Motion alleges three things against the policies of the Government in education: first, that they accentuate disparties; secondly, that they are socially devisive; and, thirdly, that they are economically wasteful. It refers also to an alleged failure to announce new provisions for higher education. As a matter of fact, I announced a major new provision for higher education in the debate on the Address which was widely welcomed in higher education spheres, and particularly in the polytechnics and further education sectors. It is my belief that one of the reasons for the right hon. Gentleman taking this subject today is because we made so many announcements of extra education expenditure that he got a bad Press and we got a good Press. Therefore, hoping that we have no more announcements of further expenditure to make, he takes another purely personal attacking debate today.

First, I will deal with the general allegations. I propose to examine the record of the previous Administration and of the present Government under three headings so that the House may judge what substance there is in the strictures in the Motion. The three headings are: primary, including nursery, education; secondary; and further education.

First, primary education. I do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman does his best to try to take attention away from this matter because his record is bad. He left us with 6,000 very old primary schools and condemns us for trying to improve the conditions in which those children find themselves, or, at any rate, for giving top priority to them. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman condemns us for giving top priority to the replacement of very old primary schools where the children are being taught in squalid conditions. If we cannot replace them all, it is because we were left with so many by the previous Government.

Mr. Reginald Freeson (Willesden, East)

First, will the right hon. Lady understand that those 6,000 were not created in the last six years? Secondly, will she stop this nonsense of telling the public that she proposes to replace, under her programme, all the outdated primary schools? She is doing nothing of the kind. In far too many instances there is merely to be some ship-shape remodelling here and there in order that the Government can pretend that in their programmed list they are replacing them. I have such cases in my own borough.

Mrs. Thatcher

I entirely agree that some of the schools are being remodelled. Some are being remodelled extremely well. I have visited a number myself. It is far better that they be remodelled than left in the condition which the previous Administration left them.

The House will recall that the Plowden Council on the primary schools was set up by the previous Conservative Administration, but reported at the time of a Labour Government. It then stated that many primary school children will long continue to attend schools in really poor buildings unless there can be a speeding up of programmes. I do not wish to be hard on the party opposite. They did not disregard entirely the plain facts about disparities in the educational system which that report put before them. They did something. Over a period of six years the Labour Government devoted about £50 million to improving or replanning primary schools. It was a beginning, but, in relation to the need, it was totally inadequate.

We on this side of the House also studied the Plowden Report. In the Gracious Speech at the beginning of the present Parliament we revived our election pledge to give priority to the primary schools. We did this because we believed that only a concentrated single-minded all-out attack on the elimination of out-of-date primary schools could give all children a decent start in life. We believed that it would be economically wasteful not to have sound foundations for an educational system which is now costing ever more—£2,500 million a year. In the tour years beginning in 1972–73 we are putting nearly £190 million of resources into the improvement and replacement of old primary schools in England and Wales. In four years we are putting in £190 million, compared with the £50 million provided for this purpose in six years by the previous Government.

The right hon. Gentleman has from time to time questioned the distribution of the primary improvement programme. The 1973–74 allocation is broadly in proportion to the number of pupils in Victorian primary schools. This is not socially divisive. Indeed, by offering, for the first time since the war, some improvement to primary schools in rural areas we shall narrow some of the disparities in the educational system which we inherited from the previous Administration.

In an assessment of rural schools just completed, the inspectors tell me that a considerable degree of educational backwardness and of restriction of efficient educational opportunity is attributable directly or indirectly to bad buildings. The rural case for improvement seems now quite as strong as the urban. The Plowden Report also recommended an expansion of nursery education. An article in a weekly periodical says that in power Mr. Short thought about nursery schools on demand. What the right hon. Gentleman thought about when in power I do not know, but what he did about nursery places is known to the House and to the country. He made a start, and I acknowledge that he did so. About 10,000 nursery places were approved under the first two phases of the urban programme before the General Election. In the third phase of the urban programme, in January of this year, 5,000 places were approved, and a further allocation of £1.2 million was announced last week and will provide at least a further 3,000 places. These are slightly more expensive than some of the places provided earlier, because it depends on whether we provide new places in nursery schools, or new places in nursery schools attached to primary schools.

I agree that there is a great deal more to be done at this end of the educational system. All the evidence that we have about schooling in earlier years, particularly for children from deprived backgounds, is that it can be a decisive factor in reducing disparity and divisiveness. What we have done so far is to add to what the Labour Party had begun to provide. Unless hon. Gentlemen opposite were themselves being divisive and wasteful, they can hardly sustain the charge against us. Indeed, the truth is the very opposite of what they are now seeking to claim.

Mr. Edward Short

The right hon. Lady referred to a reply on 4th November. This says: Further places will be provided by projects in areas of high unemployment approved or shortly to be approved under the urban programme at a cost of £1.2 million."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 8.] That clearly says that some of the programme has been approved. Presumably some of the £1.2 million was included in the Home Office statement in February? Does not that follow?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not responsible for the statement by the Home Office. I start from the viewpoint of the Department of Education and Science, and the position is that phase 3 of the urban education programme came on in January of this year. Under that phase, 5,000 new nursery school places were approved. The announcement which I made during the last debate was for £1.2 million over and above that, which will provide at least 3,000 places. It may provide more, depending on where those places are provided—either in classes, or in special nursery schools.

As well as doing so much for primary schools, we should like to get rid of old secondary schools also, but the House will wish to bear in mind, first, that the secondary schools have had the lion's share of improvements and replacements during the 1960s and, second, that they are currently benefiting from the special building programme of £125 million for raising the school leaving age, a programme which the previous Administration proposed, but for which the present Government have had to find the resources.

Mr. Edward Short

That is untrue.

Mrs. Thatcher

It is not untrue. The programme for raising the school leaving age is being carried out by this Government.

Mr. Edward Short

The building programme started on 1st April, 1970, three months before the General Election.

Mrs. Thatcher

I give the right hon. Gentleman three months out of the programme which is to cost £125 million, but few will forget that this was the casualty which was first in the minds of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite when they cut education expenditure.

Mr. Edward Short

We were faced with a balance of payments deficit of £700 million a year.

Mrs. Thatcher

And it took one noble Lord to resign. None of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite would resign.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

The right hon. Lady is a complete failure.

Mrs. Thatcher

I shall succeed in doing what the right hon. Gentleman failed to do to raise the school leaving age, and he cannot compare our records.

Sir G. Nabarro

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend sat in complete silence listening to the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) and did not interrupt him once? Could you restrain the right hon. Gentleman to reciprocate the courtesy shown by my right hon. Friend?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

I assure the hon. Member that I am paying great attention to the situation. I do not think that it has gone beyond the bounds of what it should do. It is natural that the Opposition are inclined to be more critical of the Government than Government supporters are of the Opposition. I would rather let the matter rest for a moment, and see how it develops.

Mr. Bob Brown

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is true that my right hon. Friend made provocative statements based on facts. If the right hon. Lady wants to make provocative statements—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member knows that the Chair is not a judge of facts such as that. That is not a point of order.

Mrs. Thatcher

During the last debate the right hon. Gentleman made two statements which could have been misleading, and I should like to correct them. He told the House on 5th November that for 1970–71 and for 1971–72 the secondary school replacement programme has been run down to £4.5 million and he repeated the figure again today. It is true that the value of the allocation in those two years is £4.5 million, and that it is less than in previous years, but who settled these programmes? It was the right hon. Gentleman when he was still in power.

Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the actual amount of school building going on has dropped this year if the steep rise in building costs is taken into account."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1971; Vol. 825, cc. 516–18.] If that were true, the right hon. Gentleman would have only himself to blame, for the school building programme going on this year is the last programme which he authorised. But let me set the right hon. Gentleman's mind at rest. In this case it is his arithmetic rather than his policies which are at fault.

If we express the figures at constant prices—and that is how we take the rise in building costs into account—the total starts programme for this year, 1971–72, is £179 million, which is £20 million more than last year, 1970–71. It can hardly be the intention of the Opposition to suggest that by carrying out their programmes I am guilty of a wasteful use of resources. As for 1972–73, the first programme for which I am responsible, the total is also £179 million, the same as this year.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

Why is the right hon. Lady going to cut primary school building in 1973?

Mrs. Thatcher

The primary school improvement programme is enormously increased in 1973. The hon. Gentleman knows that if the expected increase in the number of children does not occur, for reasons over which I have no control, the basic needs element falls.

To return to secondary schools, it has long been a basic argument for raising the school leaving age to 16 that it would be economically beneficial, both to individual pupils, whose life chances would be improved, and to the nation, whose need for soundly educated and adaptable young people is basic to our plans for economic advance.

I cannot believe that the Opposition, in the terms of the Motion, contend this policy to be wasteful, or that it is a wrong scale of priorities that, in the secondary field, we should now concentrate on the attainment of this long-promised reform, which they postponed with scant ceremony in January, 1968, but which the present Government are determined to carry to completion.

If there is one policy which ranks with primary school improvements in making a decisive contribution to greater social equality it is the raising of the school leaving age. It is not only between different regions of the country but within regions that marked differences may be found in the voluntary staying-on rate, and it cannot be right that we should allow nearly half of our children to leave school before their five-year course is completed.

When my predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Boyle said in 1964, in this House, that it was the Government's policy to make the change, he gave as one of the main reasons the need to make strenuous efforts to level up opportunities as between different areas of the country".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th January, 1964; Vol. 688, c. 60.] Despite the vacillation of the Labour Party, that is still our view.

The House is aware that it is my duty to reach decisions upon formal proposals submitted to me by local education authorities when they wish to establish new schools or to close, significantly en- large, or significantly change the character of, existing schools. I received, between July, 1970, and September, 1971, over a thousand such proposals relating to secondary schools. Of these I rejected only 24 because I concluded that they involved clear educational disadvantage. The great majority were approved, confirming the judgment of the locally elected authorities as to the arrangement most likely to meet the needs of all pupils in their areas.

I would, however, emphasise that, whatever system a local authority adopts for the organisation of its secondary schools, there can still be disparities within schools which are indeed socially divisive and economically wasteful. I refer, as did the right hon. Gentleman, to the provision for slow learners, or rather the lack of it, a subject which appears not to have engaged the attention of right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power, although H.M. Inspectors of Schools tell me that the situation in 1967–68 was very far from satisfactory.

Last Easter I drew the attention of a large teachers' conference to the findings of the H.M.I. survey and said I would be consulting the teachers and the authorities on how best we might proceed. I have consulted them, and the conclusion to which I have come as a result is that I should publish the survey in full, I hope by early December. I hope that all local education authorities will study it carefully and consider what action they should take in their own areas. In the meantime I am ready to allocate additional teachers on the quota to authorities who want them for this purpose.

There has been some reference to the step which I have taken to restore to the direct grant grammar schools the cut imposed by the previous Government and to compensate to some extent for rising costs since then, mostly in teachers salaries. Its effect—I have had many letters about it, too—is to ease entry for children from homes towards the lower end of the income scale. To make it difficult for these schools to continue, as appears to have been the intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, would indeed be economically wasteful, for they are, by any standard, educational resources of outstanding worth; and it would certainly be socially divisive to force them to charge fees which put them beyond the reach of many parents of suitably qualified children.

Before leaving the subject of schools, I should like to give the results, so far as they are available, of the October census of school meals and milk of which I referred during the debate on 5th November. I gave some at Question Time, and fuller figures may help the House. Not all the returns from local education authorities have yet been received and checked. The proportion of complete results is, however, now sufficient for me to be able to indicate the trends revealed.

Figures from 146 of the 163 authorities in England and Wales show that 59.4 per cent. of pupils present on the census day took the school dinner. This compares with 53.4 per cent. last May and 67.5 per cent. last autumn. Free meals were served to 10.6 per cent. of the pupils present, compared with 10.1 per cent. in May and 8.5 per cent. last autumn.

In terms of actual numbers of meals, 4,105,000 were taken on census day in the 146 authorities this autumn, compared with 3,667,000 in May and 4,553,000 last autumn for the same authorities. For free meals—I mentioned this figure at Question Time—the corresponding figures are 733,000 now, 696,000 last May and 575,000 last autumn. The latest census also shows that over 9,000 mid-day meals other than school dinners were being served, while 545,000 pupils brought their own sandwiches to eat at lunchtime.

Preliminary indications are, therefore, that about half the pupils who stopped taking the school dinner between last autumn and last May have now returned to it. This is a substantial recovery in a relatively short time, and I would hope to see this trend maintained so that, for example, more school dinners are taken in preference to sandwiches. I particularly welcome the fact that the number of children taking free meals is still rising. I believe that this is a sensible use of economic resources and helps significantly to reduce disparities. The results show that more parents are becoming aware of this important benefit, and are ready to claim it for their children.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Test)

Could not the possible solution here be that, during the last year, due to massive increases in unemployment and poverty, more children have become entitled to free school meals?

Mrs. Thatcher

The principle always is that if children need free school meals they should get them. The figures show that the numbers are increasing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I regret unemployment as much as does the hon. Member. May I make that entirely clear. In so far as it is my job to see that children who cannot afford the school meal get it free, that task is being fulfilled, as the figures show.

As regards school milk, returns from 138 authorities show that 26,300 children over seven in primary schools—just over 1 per cent. of those in the age group—are getting free milk on health grounds. In addition, over 16,000 primary pupils and 1,100 secondary pupils purchased milk in schools in the areas of the 30 authorities who have so far made arrangements for its sale. This I welcome.

I have said that the returns are still incomplete and it would be wise to await the full results before attempting any further analysis of the situation. I shall be laying these before the House as soon as I can.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)

I was very interested in the figure which the right hon. Lady gave of 1 per cent. of these children getting milk free on health grounds. Is she aware of the huge discrepancy as a result of the differing opinions of medical officers of health? For example, of the first six schools in Glasgow in which there was a massive examination, three had virtually 100 per cent. receiving free milk and three had virtually none? In other words, the guidance given by the right hon. Lady is no direct guidance, and the medical officers can decide.

Finally, in view of the fact that the right hon. Lady now says that medical officers of health can decide for preventive reasons, and since to most people in the medical profession this means universally, is it not the case that all children should get free milk unless they are suffering from some complaint which means that they should not get it—obesity for example? Would the Minister now send out to all medical officers of health the letter which she sent to me to give them the proper guidance?

Mrs. Thatcher

It is not part of my job to give doctors guidance on how to discharge their professional duties. The Department has never done so, it would be wrong to do so and I do not intend to start now.

Mr. Buchan


Mrs. Thatcher

I must get on.

The right hon. Gentleman devoted a part of his speech to higher education, a subject with which I will now deal. Since the publication of the Robbins Report eight years ago, the development of our higher education system has followed a consistent course which has had the support of both sides of the House.

In 1963 the present Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, speaking as Minister of Education, announced that the Government accepted the Robbins Committee's estimate of the future number of higher education places that should be provided, confirmed their belief in the principle of the U.G.C., approved the recommendation that the colleges of advanced technology should be given university status, and announced that steps would be taken to create the Council for National Academic Awards.

In December, 1964 the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) rejected the Robbins Committee's proposal that the colleges of education should be taken out of the hands of their present sponsors and integrated administratively and financially with the universities, but encouraged them to develop degree opportunities for selected students from the colleges.

Two months later his successor, the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) accepted on behalf of his Government the Robbins target of 390,000 higher education places for Great Britain by 1973–74, which was to include 218,000 places in universities and 122,000 in colleges of education.

In May, 1966 the right hon. Gentleman issued a White Paper entitled "A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges", which created a valuable foundation on which successive Administrations have been able to achieve the remarkable development of the polytechnics. [Interruption.] Of course this has been the action of successive Administrations. I have just announced the bigegst building programme for polytechnics, and hon. Gentlemen opposite who were not present at our previous debate should think before interrupting.

The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central during his term of office continually emphasised the great store he set by the distinctive contribution that the polytechnics and other further education institutions would make to higher education.

It is interesting to compare expansion in advanced work in the polytechnics and other further education colleges with that in colleges of education and also in the universities. The number of students in polytechnics and other further education colleges in England and Wales has increased by 15 per cent. a year on average over the last decade; in colleges of education in England and Wales the rate has been 13 per cent. a year; and in the universities, for Great Britain as a whole the comparable figure has been a 7 per cent. annual expansion.

These figures show that expansion of higher education in polytechnics, other further education colleges and colleges of education has been considerably faster than in the universities. But opportunities for young people to enter higher education broadly kept pace during the decade—[Interruption.] This is not a criticism. I am giving figures which, as far as I am aware, have not been published and will prove useful to those interested in higher education.

As I was saying, opportunities for young people to enter higher education broadly kept pace with the swiftly increasing numbers qualified for it. I have said enough to show that the development of higher education over recent years has been both consistent and bipartisan.

Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

Without disputing the total figures of expansion—I do not want to argue with the right hon. Lady about that—as she quoted some remarks made by a right hon. Gentleman who is now in another place and who is the Vice-Chancellor of my University, may I ask her whether she is aware that he has recently said that the binary system on which both Conservative and Labour Governments have based their higher education policies is, to use his words, "inherently unstable"?

The right hon. Lady also referred to a decision of my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) in connection with colleges of education. In view of all the spending that has gone on, does she have a policy for the future of the binary system, and does she personally support the rumoured recommendation that a detached mono-technic kind of system will be introduced for teacher training?

Mrs. Thatcher

I was just coming to the James Committee.

The charge in the Motion is that we have failed to announce adequate and timely provision for the expansion of higher education". I can quickly show that this charge does not stand, any more than the other charges of hon. Gentlemen opposite.

As for the colleges of education, I am expecting to receive from Lord James within a matter of weeks the Report of his Committee which has been inquiring into teacher training and the future rôle of the colleges. Despite what he has been reported to be thinking, I cannot in fact anticipate what he is going to recommend and it would be neither sensible nor courteous to propose changes in the colleges until I have had time to consider his Committee's recommendations in the light of the consultations on them that I have promised to undertake with the interested parties.

As soon as I get the Report of the James Committee it will go to be published, and I think the speed of publication will be very much faster than the one month that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. I expect that it will be out a good deal before March. Indeed, I shall be disappointed if it is not out by the beginning of February.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

Reference has been made to a leak from this quite small Committee. Has the right hon. Lady made any inquiries about such a leak? If so, and if those inquiries have shown that a leak has occurred, what action is she taking?

Mrs. Thatcher

I do not make inquiries about leaks from the James Committee. I believe that it would be quite wrong for me to do so.

I cannot follow the logic of hon. Gentlemen opposite when they urge me to make an immediate announcement of the Government's future plans for higher education, which must of course include the colleges, and at the same time insist that I should take no action on the James Committee Report until there has been the fullest consultations on its recommendations.

Mr. Willey

I am sorry to have to press the right hon. Lady about this. An allegation has been made during this debate that a member of that Committee divulged information about the Committee. Is not the right hon. Lady under an obligation to pursue inquiries in this connection?

Mrs. Thatcher

The right hon. Gentleman will be the first to know that the Department is not responsible for what any member of this Committee chooses to say, if anything has been said by such a member. I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman was aware of that.

Our building plans for the polytechnics and other further education colleges were announced in the last debate. While the right hon. Gentleman let his plans be known year by year, I have given the House a forthright indication of their building programmes for three years ahead.

Neither in this context nor in that of the universities is it for him to talk about timing. On 7th May, 1970 he told the House with some pride that he hoped to announce the provisional grant for the first year of the new university quinquennium towards the end of this year. I can do better than he hoped to do by announcing it today.

The House, however, will first like to know that I have decided to add £13.1 million to the universities' recurrent grants for the present academic year. This increase takes account of price rises over the previous 12 months. As a result, the grant will go up from £225 million to £238.1 million.

Since this is the last year in the 1967–72 quinquennium, I will give the total value of the grants from 1966 onwards. If grants for local authority rates and other small items are included, we get a figure not very far short of £1,000 million. This is all the more remarkable when compared with the grants for the 1962–7 quinquennium, which amounted to well under £500 million.

Mr. Allan Williams (Swansea, West)

The right hon. Lady related the figure of £13.1 million to rising prices. Is that intended purely to meet rising prices? If so, will it meet the full extra burden imposed on universities by rising prices?

Mrs. Thatcher

The whole of it is intended to meet rising prices. I believe that academic salaries are dealt with differently, so that it does not include them. The hon. Gentleman will know that on a previous occasion for another year I have made other supplemental grants as well.

Mr. Buchan

By a rough and quick calculation, this means about 6 per cent. Prices have risen more than that. Inflation is more than 6 per cent. So it is under-restoring inflation rather than paying attention to prices.

Mrs. Thatcher

I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would be pleased, as I know that the universities will be, with an increase of £13.1 million. This was made very quickly. On the last occasion when I made a supplemental grant, when they had expected not to get a supplemental increase, I had many letters saying how glad they were to receive it.

I turn to the provisional grant for the academic year beginning in August, 1972. During the debate on the Address on 5th November, I explained why the University Grants Committee thinks it right, and in the universities' interests, to keep to a timetable which will not produce a decision on the full quinquennial settlement until next year. I should make it clear that this timetable is the one which the previous Government followed for the present quinquennium and which, before leaving office, they announced that they intended to follow again for the new quinquennium. However, the universities clearly cannot wait for the full settlement before they make their preparations for 1972–73.

I am, therefore, glad to announce now a provisional allocation of recurrent grant for 1972–73 of £248.5 million. This sum includes £1.7 million for the running costs of computers for which the Computer Board for Universities and Research Councils will, under the normal arrangements, cease to be responsible in the next quinquennium. At the same time, I have decided to make a provisional allocation, on top of this, of equipment grant of £23.25 million. These sums are related to a total for Great Britain of 247,000 students in 1972–73, compared with the Robbins Committee recommendation of 211,000 students. The exact number of students in the current year is not known, but it is likely to be about 238,000.

When the University Grants Committee submits its advice for the whole quinquennium, these provisional allocations will be reviewed and firm figures for 1972–73 will be included in the full settlement for the whole quinquennium. Meanwhile, I understand that the U.G.C. will shortly tell the universities individually of their provisional allocation and they will thus have between eight and nine months in which to make their plans.

I have given the House a straightforward account because the facts here speak so well for themselves. One does not need to resort to a personal attack when one has the facts on one's own side.

The facts show, first, that in education we are continuing those policies of our predecessors which help to reduce disparities, though generally we are doing it at a faster rate. They show, second, that we are providing the resources to carry out their programmes and, in some key respects, are providing extra resources. They show, third, that we are taking fresh initiatives to remedy neglects which our predecessors apparently overlooked. Regarding the timing of plans for higher education, the only difference between what we are doing and what the Labour Party was in the habit of doing is that we are, if anything, slightly ahead.

For all these reasons, I ask the House to reject the Motion and to support the Amendment.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May we have some guidance from the Chair as to how the rest of the debate will proceed? There is an allegation that also, at the same time, a debate on Scottish education is about to start. Will they run together, or will Scotland and England alternate? We seek guidance as to what will happen if there is a vote and we are faced with two separate votes at the end of the debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is nothing abnormal about today's business. It is quite ordinarily orthodox. Scottish Members and Members from other countries in the United Kingdom will have an equal chance of being called.

5.26 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his colleagues on choosing to debate education, although an education debate was held only a few days ago.

Without adequate education human life is impoverished. As our country has become more prosperous and wealthy, under all Administrations, a greater share of the gross national product has been devoted to the education services. Since the War the percentage of G.N.P. spent on education has risen from just over 2 per cent. to 6 per cent., and there is one feature that has revealed itself down the years. That feature is that whenever we offer extra opportunity to our children, the response is always far greater than anyone expected. The Black Paper enthusiasts, those who talk about "bigger" meaning "worse", and so on, have been confounded by what has happened during the past 20 years.

Today the Secretary of State has revealed the great pressures on the education service. She made a speech that was obviously satisfying to herself, but it was very complacent. It sounded almost as though there were no problems in the education service and that the Government were doing all that they ought to be doing for this great national service. I could not help thinking of the teachers that I know and meet so frequently, dealing with boys and girls in down-town schools, and frustrated because they know that the children's potential is not being realised, and of all the difficulties that confront those who day by day have to battle with the realities of our schools.

Today I concentrate on one section of the school population because, despite the figures, percentages and statistics that we have been given today, no one can deny that our education service in 1971 is failing a substantial proportion of the nation's children. I am sorry to say that among those children are those of the unemployed, with whom we have been concerned today.

I devote my few remarks to what I call the Newsom Child, the child who is declared to be of average or below average ability. There is no doubt that he has had a raw deal for a long time, and the present Government's policies are widening the gap between the so-called able, competent child and the child who is described as average or below-average.

In our education service we need a frontal attack on social deprivation and disadvantage. I saw no evidence of a realisation of this in the right hon. Lady's speech, long though it was. The Secretary of State is far too busy concentrating her efforts on the children who are already privileged, who get off to a good start in life, and who, because of the organisation of the education service, have had the major part of the available resources lavished upon them. The right hon. Lady is far too prone to disregarding the below-average and the weak.

The announcement made a week ago last Friday of the grant of £2 million to parents of children in direct-grant schools has caused dismay and anger throughout education circles. Nobody can describe any of these children as under-privileged. The Secretary of State spoke about parents of modest resources. It depends on what is meant by "modest resources". That description does not apply to the children of any of the 980,000 unemployed, nor to any of the 2 million children to whom the Child Poverty Action Group keeps referring.

Mr. Michael Roberts (Cardiff, North)


Mr. Armstrong

No, I will not give way, because I do not intend to make a long speech and many of my colleagues want to speak.

Let us compare the £2 million which will go to children who are already privileged with some of the claims on the education service. The Secretary of State will shortly receive from Durham County representations about maintenance grants. At present maintenance grants are administered by local education authorities. Now that the leaving age is being raised to 16 there is a strong case—I would say a case which cannot be overridden—for the central Government determining the level of maintenance grants.

In answer to a Question recently the Secretary of State indicated to me that in the Northern Region the ordinary child in the direct-grant school receives an average grant from the Government of more than £80. The maximum maintenance grant now available for a child in an unemployed family is £75 a year. To qualify for that the parents must have an income of less than £10 or £10.50. Therefore, people who talk about parents of modest resources should get matters into perspective.

Then there is the question of the withdrawal of school milk. The Secretary of State has spoken about the proportion of children receiving free school milk. That proportion bears no relation to the proportion of children between 7 and 11 who receive free milk. The only decent thing to do is to repeal the mean little Measure the Secretary of State introduced. If it is to be enforced there must be some test of poverty to enable children who are poor to receive free milk.

This afternoon my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) told us, and I confirm the figure, that in certain boroughs in the Northern Region almost 50 per cent. of the children are entitled to free meals because their parents have such modest resources. Yet the highest figure quoted by the Secretary of State for children receiving free milk in primary schools was 8 per cent. In some boroughs and areas in the North hardly any children receive what might be called medical milk. As the circular was sent out much too late, the children have not yet been examined to determine whether medically they are in need of free milk. This is scandalous treatment of children who are desperately in need of these resources.

The £2 million which is to go to direct-grant schools would have provided 10,000 nursery school places. Does the Secretary of State contend that this £2 million is being put to a better use than if it were used to provide an extra 10,000 nursery places? I should like to hear any hon. Member opposite defend that choice of priorities.

If the children in the Northern Region and other areas are to have any semblance of equality of opportunity, it is essential that a massive expansion in maintained nursery places takes place. I welcome all the voluntary effort such as the urban aid programme, but without a massive expansion in nursery places the problem will not be solved.

Because of the low maintenance grants, the increase in fares, the increase in the cost of school meals, and the increase in rents, many thousands of households do not have a sufficient income to profit from the educational facilities which are available. This is why so many working-class children leave school at 15, 16 and 16½—not because they lack ability to go on, but because economic circumstances compel them to leave.

The Motion speaks of the wrong use of resources. Last night the Prime Minister and others boasted about the reduction of £1,400 million in taxation. We cannot start to talk about giving an educational opportunity to children and abolishing the divisions and injustices in education until we are committed to far more community spending. Where does the £1,400 million go to? An executive earning £10,000 a year will pay £185 less in tax. A company director on £20,000 a year will pay £445 less in tax.

Will anybody dare to contend that that "incentive" has increased the size of the national cake from which educational resources are drawn? It is a wrong use of community resources. The Secretary of State has no conception of the realities of life for ordinary children who depend wholly on the State system. Government policy in the social field means that the child that is now rejected is made more and more conspicuous.

Then there is the Secretary of State's attack upon comprehensive education through her manipulation of the school building programme. I hope that the right hon. Lady has read the letter by Tyrrell Burgess in The Guardian today. The taking out of any improvement element in secondary schools means that local authorities are prevented from proceeding with the abolition of selection. The denial of any improvement element is a direct attack on authorities which wish to introduce comprehensive education. Tyrrell Burgess says this in his letter: No Education Minister since the war has been so blatantly and squalidly partisan about resources. Mr. Burgess spends his life commenting on the education services.

This afternoon the Secretary of State repeated what she has said on almost every education platform on which she has appeared for the last 18 months. She reaffirmed her deep regard for primary schools and their importance. She said that the primary school is the foundation and that we must look after it. All the neglect of the other sectors is justified by the Secretary of State on the ground that she is helping the primary sector.

I come to the question of teachers' salaries. The quality, status and response of the teacher is just as important as the buildings. I have never decried buildings. They are very important. I have seen the change in primary education when teachers get a good building.

But the primary school teacher, also, is of importance. Plowden said that many primary school teachers believe that the status of primary education is lower than that of secondary education, and one of the main reasons is the better career structure in the secondary school. Edward Britton, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, addressing a special N.U.T. salary conference last weekend, had some pertinent observations to make on the same question. The Minister will know of all the arguments we have had about the primary-secondary differential and the demand of the profession that that differential be abolished. Edward Britton pointed out that the discrimination against primary school teachers was, if anything, worse as a result of the last salary award. The value placed upon the teachers' efforts in the primary school, he said, is less than that placed upon the efforts of those who teach children over 13 years of age.

The truth is that the new local authority salary structure, which was commended by the Minister before the award was made, is based on the myth that most of the teaching profession are young women who come and go at will. In fact, this is not so. A remarkable figure was given at that conference: 52 per cent. of women in the profession are over 35 years of age.

The other misconception—I speak with particular interest here as a former primary headmaster—is that those who teach older children, and particularly those who teach able children, ought to have a better career structure and more salary than those who teach younger children. This is a denial of all the Minister has said about the importance of primary schools.

The truth is that the present salary structure is driving teachers out of the primary sector to seek a better career in the secondary sector. We cannot talk about equality unless we tackle that problem.

There is much more that I should like to say, but I end on this note. The Motion is concerned with priorities. I realise that there is not a limitless purse. My quarrel with the Government is that they have their priorities wrong, and their ordering of priorities and their manipulation of the greatest national service—I say "the greatest" because education has to do with the creation of the society which we want to establish—reveal a hardness, an insensitivity and a social bias which is unworthy of any education Minister. What is more, in a Minister serving in a Government who came to power pledged to create one nation, it is sheer hypocrisy.

5.42 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

Generally, in education debates—I have been making speeches in them off and on for 20 years or so—one becomes accustomed to trying to go over the whole wide conspectus of education from start to finish. When I sent my name in to the Chair, indicating that I hoped to speak, I had been considering whether I should deal with the effrontery of the Opposition Motion over the whole scope of education today. I am happy to say that that task is now unnecessary because, after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, there is nothing left of the Motion—and now, I see, nothing left of the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), either. I can give the House pleasure, therefore, by promising to make a very short speech, limiting myself to two small sectors of the field, save that I am tempted at the outset, as I always am, by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) to dispute one or two points with him.

The first was the philosophical heresy, which never fails to enrage me, which the hon. Gentleman committed when he talked about a reduction of £1,400 million in taxation under this Government "given away", I think he said—and then asked, "Where did this money go?". That is an attitude of hon. Members opposite which can be philosophically justified only if they genuinely believe that all property and all money belong to the State ab initio and not to the people who own or create it. Of course, this money did not go anywhere. It was just not taken from a lot of people to whom it belonged. So long as there are people who think in those terms, it is hardly possible to have a sane discussion about these matters with them.

The other point which I thought philosophically revealing came when the hon. Gentleman said that the purpose of education was to create an ordered society. That is a well-known and typically Socialist view, and one which was well expressed to its ultimate by the hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) at the Labour Party Conference. The truth is that the purpose of education is not to create an ordered society or any other sort of society. It is to do the best it can for the interests and future of individual children. It is not for any sociological, philosophical or political purpose. It is for individual children, and a good education policy should be devoted to that end.

I come now to my observations on two relatively narrow sectors of education. I am very glad that my right hon. Friend, in dealing with old primary schools, is giving some attention now to the rural sector. This is extremely valuable and, I believe, overdue. I congratulate her, also, since I understand from her speech that she is not falling for the ridiculous idea that one can do nothing for a rural school save pull it down and start again from stratch, probably on another site.

There are old rural schools which are perfectly capable of being enormously improved; often, they are a lot more weather-proof and more easily heated than some of the newer schools which are built. A lot can be done by improvement.

The trouble is that, if an authority decides that there must be a new school rather than improvements to the old one, what happens over and over again is that it ends by pulling the school down, taking it away from the village altogether, and leaving the village without a school at all. There is a growing number of villages now with no school and with children being taken daily by bus ten miles or so to a large new primary school in a town.

It is time we began to fight a little harder for the maintenance of village schools in rural areas. Some of them which are being closed by the local authorities are perfectly viable and of a reasonable and efficient size.

The closure of its school can have an extraordinarily bad effect on a village. Some villages have lost their church and their clergyman because of the merging of parishes, they have lost their policeman because of the concentration of police forces, and they are losing their school teachers as well. They are, in fact, losing all the continuing sources of help, authority and influence which a village used to have, and this is bad for the village as an institution. I hope that my right hon. Friend will do all she can to keep village schools alive and flourishing.

I come now to the question of the direct-grant schools. I am not surprised that the Labour Party has been making such a song and dance about £2 million for the direct-grant schools—£2 million out of well over £2,000 million for a sector of education which has been neglected; £2 million which, apart from putting the direct-grant schools on all-fours in terms of catching up with inflation—Labour would have left this as the one sector kept well behind—will right the manifest and long-standing injustice which was perpetrated upon the direct-grant schools by the right hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Gordon Walker). Against all the implied undertakings of Ministers of Education over many years, he reduced in real terms the capitation grant to the direct-grant schools and left them with no alternative but to put up fees even to those parents who could ill afford it. This is a long-overdue righting of a gross injustice perpetrated by the last Labour Government.

It is not particularly surprising that the Labour Party invariably gets much more het up about direct-grant schools than it does about the independent schools. It would be far happier to preserve Eton and Harrow than Manchester Grammar School, King Edward's, Birmingham, Abingdon, or any of the great direct-grant schools whose academic records are second to none. The reason is simple, and we know it quite well. It is precisely because those schools, which have the widest social mix of all—

Mr. Rhodes


Mr. Maude

I said that I would be very brief. The hon. Member for Durham, North-West would not give way, because he wanted to be brief. I want to be even briefer, so I will not give way.

Mr. Rhodes


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) is not giving way to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes). The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East must keep his seat.

Mr. Maude

If I thought that I was likely to get anything sensible out of anyone by giving way, I might do so.

The reason why the Labour Party dislike the direct-grant schools is well known. It is that those schools not only threaten to but do turn the sons of working-class trade unionists into working-class Tories.

Mr. Rhodes


Mr. Maude

I will not give way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that that satisfies the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Maude

I doubt whether anything would.

It is not merely that the direct-grant schools might turn them into working-class Tory voters but that they give a non-proletarian education to the sons of working-class trade unionists. That is enough to make any socialist hate them. The schools are untidy; they do not fit in to any neat bureaucratic division as between independent and maintained schools. It is precisely for that reason that they are so valuable.

We should be perfectly clear that the test of any party's or Government's true devotion to quality in education is their attitude towards the direct-grant schools. It is because I believe that the present Government and my party value them—I do not think that the Government have yet done enough to make their position secure, but I hope that they will—and because I know that the Labour Party has a contempt for their academic values that I support the Amendment and congratulate my right hon. Friend.

5.53 p.m.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

If the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) had read the rest of my speech at the Labour Party Conference, he would have been well aware that I am opposed to Eton and Harrow as well as to the direct grant schools. That is not entirely for the reasons the hon. Gentleman supposed, but they are good enough for a start.

I want to speak briefly to that part of the Motion that … deplores the policies of Her Majesty's Government, which will accentuate the disparities in our educational system, and are socially divisive and economically wasteful, … There is an aspect of finance in our education system that is totally overlooked when people compare what is being done in one area of education with another. I want to read a short extract from the 1968 First Report of the Public Schools Commission to show where the balance of priorities and the divisive nature of the Government's education policies can be seen. It said: In their second report, the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income (1954) considered whether the income of minor children, or at least their investment income, should be aggregated with that of their parents for tax purposes.… We have asked the Inland Revenue what would be the yield to the Exchequer of introducing this change. Although no accurate figure is available, estimated figures suggest that, on the basis of ignoring the first £25 of minors' unearned income, the annual yield would be of the order of £20 million; if all unearned income were taken into account, the yield would be about £25 million. We appreciate that a measure of this kind would affect the tax treatment of covenanted income used to pay school fees only as a by-product of a much wider change. Nevertheless, the sums involved are considerable, and if any substantial proportion of them is used to pay independent school fees, this is a matter of legitimate public interest in the terms of our report. As these broad issues of fiscal policy affecting personal taxation are not directly within our terms of reference, we do not feel it right to make any specific recommendations about them. We cannot prove, without an exhaustive enquiry, that any particular sums accruing through personal tax reliefs are being used to support the independent school system at public expense. But it is undeniably the case that some support—and many of us feel that it may be considerable—is being given in this way. What action should be taken will be for Parliament to decide. Acting on the basis of that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) in his Budget speech of March, 1968 announced his intention to aggregate the investment income of minors with their parents' income for tax purposes, to have effect from 1969–70.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

Will the hon. Lady give way?

Miss Lestor

No. In not doing so, I am following the example of the hon. and learned Gentleman's hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude).

The amount involved was £20 million. The position was changed immediately the present Government came to power—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—Thus £20 million which had been taken out of the independent schools sector was put back into it. Conservative hon. Members have cheered that. It shows their priorities.

I listened very carefully to what the Secretary of State said today, both in her speech and at Question Time. She very heatedly said that whatever may have happened in the nursery school sector and in connection with school milk, she had spent the money saved on improving primary schools. She must be reminded of what she said when she was interviewed at the Eastbourne Conference. She had made the point in her speech there that she had saved money on school milk to spend money on primary schools, but she was clearly told that that argument was not valid. In making that claim, did she mean that the Treasury now accepted the principle of hypothecation? The report said: She could hardly plead ignorance. Indeed, she had known well that the Treasury had always strongly resisted the idea that Ministers could trade in a saving under one heading to obtain extra expenditure under another. She said, 'It is just an intellectual argument to use when you have not got anything else to say.' I mention that because at Question Time and in her speech today she said that she had saved so much here and so much there in order to give it to the primary school programme. I could equally well argue that she had saved it to give it to the direct-grant schools or to give it back in tax to the public schools. We can all play that game. What we are arguing about this afternoon is the question of priorities in education and whether the vast majority of our children will get the opportunities that most hon. Members feel they should have.

The right hon. Lady and my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) had an argument about the number of nursery school places being provided. The right hon. Lady cannot escape the fact that it was the Conservative Government of 1960 that put the ban on the development of nursery education by issuing their circular 8/60. We on this side of the House have been trying to get it removed ever since. It was because this ban was put on the development of nursery education 11 years ago that, instead of being regarded as essential, nursery education has been regarded as embroidering in education and has become the Cinderella of the education service. The Conservative Government imposed this ban because in 1960 they did not regard nursery education as important. They did not see it, and still do not see it, as being related to what happens to a child as he progresses through education.

A few years ago we had a lobby of children under five years of age with their mothers. I remember thinking of those mothers that these were the young women for whom nursery schools were promised in 1944 when they were children. The right hon. Lady the Secretary of State said the other day that 6 per cent. of children aged three and four years are attending maintained nursery schools. This is deplorable. I welcomed the urban aid programme of the last Government, because it was the first step in expanding nursery education which we had had since 1960—in fact, since before the circular was issued.

If we continue at the present rate, it will be 350 years before we shall be able to provide full-time nursery education for the 1,750,000 children under five years of age. In other words, the provision of nursery schools is almost going backwards. More and more is known about the importance of the pre-school years and about the connection of a child's performance later in his school life with the opportunities made available to him in the early years when he was, or should have been, at a nursery school.

The distinction which the Secretary of State makes between primary schools and nursery schools is false. I am sorry that she has not been able to say that in the rebuilding and building plans for primary schools she will encourage the provision of nursery classes or nursery schools attached to them. What worries me considerably is that, if she argues that for the next few years she cannot find money for nursery education, if we do not prepare the way for it in the building programme, it will be very expensive to provide for it in the years to come when presumably there will be other priorities in education. The right hon. Lady should look again at the primary school building programme to see whether it is possible to include nursery classes and nursery schools in it.

I welcome what the Secretary of State said about her interest in, and the report which she is to issue, on the question of slow learners. Many of us on this side of the House who have been teachers and have been concerned particularly with the younger age groups are aware that there is a great clamour to do something about slow learners. There is much interest in remedial teaching, particularly at the higher end of the scale. Yet, in the view of many people concerned with primary school children, the need for it could be avoided to some extent if we got our priorities right in respect of the pre-school children. If we deny them the opportunities that they need at the time that they need them, we shall not be able to correct the situation later in their lives.

Many people may be aware that the Campaign for Nursery Education has launched its attack on this Government, as it has done on successive Govern- ments, in order to try to get a higher priority for nursery education in the education programme. The urban aid programme deals mainly with areas of social deprivation. Because we had to begin somewhere, that was the right place to begin. But children in materially well-endowed areas can also be deprived. It is a big mistake to imagine that because a child comes from a poor area he is necessarily more deprived than a child who lives in what appears to be a materially well-endowed or middle-class area.

Some of us have been saying this for a long time. I wonder how much longer it will be before people at the local authority and Government level are prepared to give the necessary weight to nursery school education which almost every educationist knows to be neglected at the expense of education for children later in school life.

We need an inquiry into the facilities and needs of our pre-school children. We have just had a report on the squalor and problems arising from child minding. Children under the age of five are departmentally in a mess since they are departmentally passed around between one Department and another. If a child is one of the 6 per cent. of children who are attending maintained nursery schools, his place is free and he comes under the Department of Education and Science. But the parents of a child who is in a day nursery pay for that place, which comes under the Department of Health and Social Security. The parents of children who are in playgroups also pay. This is private or community provision and it does not come within the Department of Education Science although I have long thought that play groups make an education provision. Until a survey is made so that we know the needs and the provision we shall merely go on treating nursery education, as the Government are doing, as a Cinderella and not as a necessary basis for a child's later school life.

There is one thing which can be said about education generally, In the beginning, it is about curiosity. The young child is at his most curious during the pre-school years. Everyone is aware of that, and yet we continue to refuse to give him the right materials, right stimulation and right facilities so that he can grow into a child whose positive attitude to learning will have been formed by the time he gets to school. The tragedy is that in so many deprived areas a child's positive attitude to learning has been killed by the time he gets to school because he has been neglected in his earlier years.

The Motion has the priorities right. We all like to talk about more children staying on at school, beyond the statutory school leaving age and going to university to get qualifications. This is absolutely right, and it is a good thing. But we must consider the gaps between one end of the scale and the other end. The gaps begin with the young child and go on being perpetrated because the Government's policies on direct-grant schools, public schools and other matters are based on the assumption that those who already have advantage should be given greater advantage and that those who do not have advantage do not need as much help. It is these attitudes that we reject.

6.9 p.m.

Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)

I should like first just to add my own word of regret to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said about the tragic death of Sir William Houghton. I had the privilege to work with him for a number of years as a member of the I.L.E.A., and I got to know him very well, and it is a great personal sadness to me that on the eve of his retirement after such a distinguished career he should have died and not be able to enjoy his much deserved retirement. I am sure that everybody in the House would like to echo that.

The terms of the Opposition Motion are the usual mixture of humbug and inaccuracy. Really, one would hardly recognise them, as set out on the Order Paper, as coming from a party which, when in Government, stopped the move towards raising the school leaving age and abandoned it, a party which also when in Government abolished school milk in secondary schools, a party which also when in Government neglected real educational needs and the improvement of the educational service simply because of that party's obsession with the dogma of enforced secondary school reorganisation.

Some hon. Members opposite—the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) did—have attacked my right hon. Friend about the comprehensives. To say that my right hon. Friend, or this Government, or any of us on this side are against the comprehensives is, of course, utterly ludicrous, especially as, if hon. Members had listened to my right hon. Friend's speech this afternoon, they would have heard her say she had approved some 1,000 schemes for reorganisation. That scarcely suggests that she is against them.

My right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on improving the educational service as a whole and especially and particularly for instigating the biggest ever improvement programme for primary schools. They had long been neglected in terms of educational priority, and I am delighted that this Government have now done this, alleviating much squalor and overcrowding in many thousands of old primary schools. The removing of those old schools is something that must be ensured. It is a very suitable ambition for a reforming Conservative Government, and I congratulate them, because in educational terms the bad impression which at the age of 5 to 11 can be given to children by gaining their first experience of school in old, overcrowded, Victorian buildings is something which can have a lasting effect on them and, perhaps, if allowed to continue, could create the problem children of tomorrow.

In further and higher education my right hon. Friend announced the figure of 238,000 students in the universities in 1971–72, so giving an additional 10,000 boys and girls opportunity of university education. I would like to express my own particular personal pleasure at the fact that the Government have allocated additional resources to the polytechnics. The previous Government gave birth to these new institutions of higher education but then promptly starved them of the necessary resources to establish that parity of esteem with the universities which I think we all hoped would be quickly gained.

I had some responsibility for establishing five of the polytechnics in London, and I know how badly they do need this money for additional library facilities and creating proper student union facilities. I know from experience that this extra money will be very much appreciated and will make a very great difference indeed.

It is on the financing of students' unions that I want to concentrate for a few minutes. The proposal for this reform issued in the consultative document follows an inquiry started by the Government last year. The Government rightly state that the present system of financing students' unions has a number of defects, and I think that anyone in this House who has had experience of higher education or an education authority will know this is true. So we now have the opportunity of making radical changes which, I believe, will strengthen the basis of students' unions, because if the House as a whole accepts that there are defects in the system, in the way the financing is done, these changes will improve the system, which would be strengthened by sensible and acceptable reforms.

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will pay tribute to the great work done by students' unions and the contribution which they make to higher education. Membership of students' unions gives students useful experience of administration, and it gives them that important freedom to make decisions about the running of the students' unions. It gives freedom to make the wrong decisions as well as the right decisions, but I believe that that is very important as well. It is the essence of experience to do this sort of thing; it is the essence of the process of maturing.

I would say this to students who are suspicious, and understandably, perhaps, of the proposals for reform of the financing that responsibility is the price of freedom. Taxpayers and ratepayers have their rights as well. I think my right hon. Friend has this very much in mind in the consultative document which she has issued. Their right is to have a general supervision over the constitution of the unions and of the actual financial acounts of the unions themselves.

What are the principal defects which make most people believe that some sort of reform is necessary? First, of course, the local education authorities have to pay student union subscriptions without any control whatsoever as to what goes on in the institution, the amount of the subscriptions being approved between the union and college concerned without any reference to the education authority itself. I think this is a very unhappy state of affairs. Secondly, I think that there is insufficient general supervision over the actual constitution of the unions by governing bodies, or, for that matter, by anybody else. Thirdly, there is wide disparity in the rates of union subscriptions between the university sector and the local education authority colleges. Attention was drawn to this in the Select Committee Report, and not only the disparity in rates but, perhaps even more important, in the type of provision. The last of the defects is the considerable doubt as to what the unions can legitimately and legally spend their money on. All the unions, I think throughout the country, have received conflicting legal advice, and this must be an unhappy situation. The Government's consultative document goes quite a long way to meeting some of these main defects.

I hope that the House will allow me to make a few comments on these proposals as my own modest contribution to the process of consultation.

First, I am glad that the Government have suggested that the universal and automatic membership of unions shall continue, with an opting out clause for anybody who wants to opt out on conscience grounds. Voluntary membership of a union, although perhaps attractive in theory, would in practice strike a mortal blow to students' unions. I am sure the House would agree that that would be self-defeating. There is no difference between us about that. It would be self-defeating and it would be dangerous.

Second, the change-over proposed from remote to direct financing is, I think, right. Indeed, this is the heart of the matter. Money should be provided to the students' unions, but not from a remote authority. I welcome the new suggestion in paragraph 13(iii) that in future the money should come from the institutions themselves and not, as before, from the grant-paying authorities. However, I would just like to draw the attention of the House to the actual machinery of how this is to be done. This should be very carefully examined if we are really to get to the bottom of this problem. In paragraph 18 of the consultative document it is proposed that the students' unions' estimates would be considered in detail by the governing bodies of the colleges. On the face of it, again, this is not unreasonable. I would only say that I trust that, in approving these estimates, they will look only at the main heads of expenditure and not go too far down, because I believe that that would be a mistake.

The House would be wise to consider carefully the implications of too tight a financial control, which might go against one of the objects to which I have just referred. Pursued too far it would be damaging to the essential autonomy of the union in operating its own funds within the amount allocated. Suppose, for instance, the governors were to say that the money it was proposed to pay to a pop group would be more properly used in the purchase of extra books for the library. That would be, no doubt, a wiser use of resources, but the students' reactions might be a good deal noisier that the pop group itself.

The true value of the students' union in educational terms is the opportunity it gives to the students to run their own show. The Government, rightly, are trying to create the structure within which the students can continue to do this. The bricks and mortar and the main capital equipment of the unions will be provided by the institution, but the maintenance and running of these facilities must be left to the students.

I hope that the Department will look at the possibility of establishing a common per capita subscription for all students, whether they are in universities, polytechnics, colleges of education or other colleges. This is an attractive idea, although there would have to be a lower rate for part-time students, which no doubt would be perfectly acceptable. The accounts of unions would be looked at and audited by the governing body, as they are in many instances now. I agree with the suggestion in the consultative document that the accounts should be looked at by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. My suggestions on this are a little different from the financial proposals of the consultative document. They follow the general principle, but there are a few alterations in detail.

Mr. David Clark (Colne Valley)

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that there should be a differential rate of subscription between students' unions at Oxford and Cambridge and at red brick universities?

Mr. Grylls

That is so. The problem with fixing a common per capita subscription is illustrated by the polytechnic in Central London, which has 14 buildings, and where the expenses are so much greater than in a university on one campus. I recognise the problems, but I should like to see a movement towards a common subscription.

My other main point is on the division of the activities to be supported by the institution and those to be supported voluntarily. The proposed change arises from the relatively few occasions when payments have been made to extramural organisations—Bangla Desh, the Pilkington strikers, the Black Panther movement—of which some of my hon. Friends spoke on 20th October. There has been criticism of some of these payments. I would not applaud the particular selection I have just quoted, but an inherent part of the educational process is that students should sometimes be allowed to make wrong decisions and misjudgments. I would not criticise the refusal of York University students to make a subscription to the Monday Club, although this was criticised by many students as being narrow and doctrinaire. I should not tell the students that they must not do it; they must have the right to do so.

The problem of making donations is put into perspective by looking at the University of Liverpool, with an expenditure of £250,000 a year, only £4,340 of which is given to various organisations and societies. That is a tiny proportion, and there should be freedom to make a mistake within that tiny percentage. In Liverpool £100,000 comes from public funds, the rest from other sources. To seek to specify how a students union should spend its funds would be a mistake which the House would regret.

One practical effect in local education authority colleges of forbidding the expenditure of funds for this purpose would be that in some of the smaller colleges societies which are greatly valued would collapse. The danger is that some students might put the amount proposed for their allotment to subscriptions into their pockets, regarding it as an addition to their maintenance grant to help to meet the cost of living. I hope therefore that we shall look at that proposal again.

The consultative document, in paragraph 22, very fairly recognises the difficulty of selecting and identifying activities to be paid for by voluntary, individual subscriptions, and I should guess that the evidence which my right hon. Friend will receive from all sections of the educational world will suggest that this could be done in a slightly different way.

Students' unions make large contributions to charities. In the university sector about £500,000 a year is given to charities from voluntary collections, rag weeks, and so on, and much hard work is put into raising the money. Let us not forget the community work done by students all over the country. The City of London College organises the regular visiting of old people, which is much appreciated. The students' union in Leicester raised £1,500 for an adventure playground, not out of the grant, but from students' own money. That has to be put into the scale on the other side.

Mention has been made of a registrar. A registrar could be useful in vetting the constitution of students' unions, and I think most students would recognise the need for this. In this way provision could be made for a 10 per cent. attendance at the general meeting. Very often at general meetings there is a small attendance, and it would be more democratic and fairer for the quorum to be higher than it usually is now. There could be provision for 14 days' notice of a general meeting, and adequate publicity.

If donations by student unions to outside bodies were specified in the annual accounts as a separate item, at the end of the year everyone could see what money had been given, and there might even be a minimum imposed of £50.

When the Secretary of State finally produces her ideas a result of consultation on this document, I hope that she will clear up the confusion on the question of the charitable status of students' unions. Some unions enjoy charitable status, and it gives them considerable advantages in tax relief, profit on trading, tax relief from rates, and so on. Other students' unions for some mysterious reason have been unable to get charitable status. It is useful for unions to have this status and for the union to be an educational charity imposes on it a measure of self-restraint.

I very much agree with what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said: I think that all members of the academic community, the governing body, the staff and the students, have a corporate and common interest in fostering a vigorous and responsible student organisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th October, 1971; Vol. 823, c. 795.] I believe this is something the whole House would wish to see and this is what we should aim at in trying to get the right sort of reforms. I very much echo the words used in that debate in our consideration of this consultative document.

We must tread very carefully—and I know my right hon. Friend is very much aware of this—because at present the relations between students and institutions and colleges are excellent. Perhaps it is dangerous to say this on the eve of the National Union of Students Conference at Margate. But at the moment relations are good and I am sure we all hope they wil continue to be good.

We want the maximum of freedom but also the maximum of responsibility. If we are to maintain the right balance, we must remember that when a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy it ceases to be a subject of interest. Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm that I support the Amendment to the Motion.

Mr. Speaker

Some simple mathematics will show that, since we have about 150 minutes left for the back benchers for debate, this could mean either 10 speeches of 15 minutes or 15 speeches of 10 minutes.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I hope later to follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls), but I wish first to say a few words about the other sectors of education.

Reference has been made to nursery schools, and I would remind the House that Lord Butler, as he now is, in commending the Education Bill of 1944, gave as one of the reasons for supporting the Bill that … a healthy development of nursery schools would buttress and support home life."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1944; Vol. 396, c. 212.] In fact today there is less nursery school provision than there was 27 years ago, in 1944. We have not yet caught up again with the situation that faced Lord Butler then.

My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) referred to the recent publicity about child-minders, but in 1959 there was an inquiry into child minders which revealed—and I quote—"a scandal of first magnitude". That was 12 years ago and nothing has been done. We cannot, therefore, avoid being disheartened and dissatisfied with the progress we have made in education.

I agree with the Secretary of State that priority should be given to the building of primary schools. I believe she has gone too far by excluding improvement of secondary schools, but there is an unquestionable need for the concentration of building resources on primary schools.

I should like to know, however, how determined the hon. Lady is in removing the present pattern of primary schools. One hears a good deal about the divisive effects of secondary education. Primary schools are even more divisive influences in education. There was, for instance, in my constituency a primary school which never succeeded in getting a pupil through the 11-plus. We all know that when we talk about good, brilliant primary schools we are almost invariably referring to schools in middle-class areas. I should like to know what is being done about this problem, because this is where the root cause of inequality in education lies.

When we turn to secondary schools I appreciate that some 33 years after the Spens Report and 27 years after the Education Act we are now increasing the school-leaving age to 16. But we must recognise that basically the position in these schools is unsatisfactory. Seven years ago I wrote these words: The truth is that, until there are far more graduates and specialist teachers it will be impossible to give British children an adequate and satisfactory secondary education. At the time I wrote, in 1964, 78 per cent. of the teachers in grammar schools were graduates and less than 17 per cent. of teachers in secondary modern schools.

Now what do we find? The situation in grammar schools is that some 75 per cent. of the teachers are graduates and in the secondary modern schools whereas the figure increased to 20 per cent. it has now fallen to 16 per cent. In the comprehensive schools where the figure was at one time 50 per cent. of the teachers graduates, it has now fallen to less than 40 per cent.

Teachers are all-important, much more important than school building and this is particularly true of secondary education. The position is worse than it was seven years ago. It is even worse among mathematics and science teachers. Unfortunately we know that the situation will be much worse in the next year or two. And the remarkable thing is—and this is a reflection of the unattractiveness of the teaching profession—that this is happening at a time when we are complaining about graduate unemployment.

Nevertheless, the school leaving age is quite rightly being raised and we must recognise the new priorities in education. I believe that the priority which should now be clearly spelt out is that of the 1618-year old group. Since we are about to enter the Common Market we might as well compare ourselves with other Common Market countries in terms of education. We shall have a substantially lower proportion of our 17-year age group in full-time education than any other European country except Italy.

We have to examine the priorities because we have to make choices in the use of resources. The position about higher education is not what it was at the time of the Robbins Report. Most of us were then anxious to have a system of higher education to meet our national needs. We talked then about meeting requirements for professional and scientific skills. We can now meet these quite easily. Indeed, we have all the facilities in higher education to meet our present or foreseeable requirements.

We can now relax and think about education more in social terms. If we do this, I believe we should concentrate on the 16–18 age group. We should pay attention to Professor Brinley Thomas's reservations in the Anderson Report as long ago as 1958. As I have previously reminded the House, he said it would be unwise and unjust to concentrate on the provision of higher education for middle-class children without any regard for the leakage of talent from the lower income groups by early school leavers.

Professor Thomas said: Public expenditure on ensuring that gifted boys and girls in the public sector are able to stay in school until the age for entry into the university is a first priority. It is no credit to us that 13 years later that is still a first priority. We are now ensuring that every child should have a satisfactory secondary education.

The immediate priority is to see that those children who are equipped to benefit from higher education should enjoy it so that we should not have this continued waste of talented youngsters being driven to leave school. Sixth form bursaries are more important at the moment than any priority for places in higher education.

I promised I would take up some of the remarks in his speech by the hon. Member for Chertsey and I do so particularly because I was Chairman of the Select Committee which dealt with the subject in its report in student relations. It was an all-party Committee which gave considerable thought to the subject. It is a complex subject and I believe the Secretary of State has made a great mistake in her proposals. The fact that the Federation of Conservative Students has thrown them out holus-bolus must have some influence on the right hon. Lady. It did not say only that they were authoritative, it said her proposals were irrelevant. In this delicate relationship between students and authority, one cannot give the authority the power to determine every year what provision should be made for student unions.

The important recommendations which the Select Committee made were that we should favour reciprocal membership, that we should concentrate upon the inadequacy of provision in some non-university institutions, that the method of payment of union fees should be the same in all cases, and that there should be a registrar. The National Union of Students accepts the idea of a registrar, provided that it has no consequences. However, it must have consequences, because several matters have to be borne in mind. The first, of course, is that we are concerned with £3 million of public money. There are two others which are important. We have to bear in mind that there is a compulsory membership. Another matter which is not without importance is that the student union is becoming very much part and parcel of the university or college. Just as we are entitled to say that the senate should be properly constituted, we are entitled to say that the student union should be similarly properly constituted.

There is really no other effective solution. If we accept the case for a Higher Education Commission, this is only one of several matters which could be dealt with by such a commission, but if the Government cannot go that far, the only effective solution will be to appoint such a registrar.

It had been my intention to say a few words about the James Committee. Unfortunately, I have not sufficient time. I content myself with the comment that, if there has been a leak, it is outrageous and intolerable. But what worries me far more is that, if the leak be a leak, it portends very great difficulties for the colleges of education. It looks as though a proposal will be put forward which will be quite unacceptable to everyone concerned. If that happens, I hope that the Secretary of State will take the initiative by calling the parties together for consultation, realising at once that the James Committee is putting forward a proposal which is no longer acceptable. I do not think we can envisage the fragmentation of higher education. This point impressed itself very much on the all-party Select Committee. We were almost unanimous and with one dissension, we were against the binary system. In future, I believe that this will be one of the major issues in education.

6.44 p.m.

Mr. Peter Fry (Wellingborough)

When we debate education, with the exception of the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite show their worst sides. They reveal so often that theirs is the politics of envy. Whenever they talk about people spending money, one gets the impression that people should be allowed to spend as much as they like on beer and baccy, but that they should not be permitted to spend their own money on education. That is the theory which seems to run through much of the carping criticism which is made of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

It is not even necessary to refer in detail to what the Opposition say in their Motion. There are other topics to which they would do well to turn their minds. With the apparently inevitable extension of sex education in our schools, a new danger is emerging. Not only do we have the increased commercialisation of obscenity. At least one supposed academic, not content with producing one film which has gained him much free publicity and notoriety, has announced a second film on the subject of homosexuality, in which he intends to show that it is not reprehensible. I suggest that that is not the prime purpose of sex education for our children.

Some hon. Members may think that I exaggerate the menace of people like Martin Cole. They may say that no school is likely to book any film that he makes. Unfortunately, however, there is much muddled thinking on this subject, even among school teachers. The Education Committee of Exeter has produced a pamphlet entitled "Scheme of Education in Personal Relationships", which contains the following passage: Relationships with members of the same sex are homosexual in nature but are not necessarily harmful, on the contrary they often provide lasting and enriching experiences. It is an error to assume, and irresponsible by default to let young people assume, that such friendships are undesirable or might lead to undesirable practices.

Sir G. Nabarro


Mr. Fry

That puts in a clumsy way a point of view which is far removed from the intentions of Dr. Cole, but it is very muddled thinking. Those responsible for it should bear in mind that it is not only school children who are impressionable. Many of our young teachers are still comparatively immature when they start on their teaching careers. However, I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. John Hannam) that the passage which I have read is to be rewritten. I congratulate him on his efforts to this end.

The pamphlet was produced as an official guide for sex education in schools. Whether it be the result of deliberate commercial exploitation by those whom it pays to encourage greater permissiveness or whether it be the result of sheer muddled thinking, there would appear to be a danger which is gradually being recognised by more and more people. I commend to the House and to my right hon. Friend the call for responsibility by those many young people who took part in the recent nationwide Festival of Light and who urged Her Majesty's Government … to legislate against the use in schools of film or pictorial material photographically depicting sexual acts which, if performed in a public place, would be liable to prosecution. They went on to say that the right of parents to choose the sex education of their children must be established.

If the mass media paid half as much attention to those who put forward ideas such as this as they devote to those who peddle pornography for profit, we might not find young people confessing that they have now become used to permissiveness because they have grown up in an age where it is common and is exploited commercially. It may be all very well to realise that members of the previous generation have suffered from their sexual frustrations, but it should not be forgotten that this generation and the next one will suffer from the effects of greater permissiveness, from the unnecessary abortions, from the increased rate of venereal disease and from the debasement of married life into purely animal acts.

It is interesting that in the booklet to which I have referred, which is intended to be a guide for teachers giving sex education to young people, the word "love" is mentioned only once, and then in passing—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) may laugh. I do not know whether he has any daughters.

Mr. John Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)


Mr. Fry

One day, when he has, he may take a slightly different attitude to these problems.

These are matters of concern to people outside this House. I believe that they should be of concern to more hon. Members. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider introducing a Bill along the lines which have been suggested in order to protect our children from the evil and muddle-headedness which exists in the education world.

6.49 p.m.

Mr. John Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)

The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) says that hon. Members on this side of the House who are interested in education are bothered by envy. I agree with him. I am envious. I am envious of people in my constituency who live in small towns where there are perfect comprehensive systems. They need not think about standards, the quality of education or fees. They simply send their children to school. They think about the quality of the education, of course, and they think about the lessons. But they do not experience the misery which afflicts so many people in big cities who feel that they cannot send their children to schools created by ghetto housing and wonder what alternative they have, twisting and turning, this fee or that fee, up a grade or down a grade, will there be a uniform or will there not be? They do not experience all the wretchedness and misery brought into our education system by the class pattern of education that we have in our big cities. I find it the most repulsive and reprehensible part of our educational system.

I envy rural areas like my constituency and the Highlands of Scotland where there is one good school for the whole area for all classes. Parents have no second thoughts about the matter. Their children go to the school and they can concentrate on their happiness, well-being and development. I do not wish to be drawn into this theme, attractive though the curious remarks of the hon. Member for Wellingborough were.

This evening I want to raise points on one special aspect which has been raised, namely, the financing of student unions. I listened with considerable interest to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), the Chairman of the Select Committee, had to say and to the hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls). I was bothered about what the hon. Member for Chertsey said. It seemed to me that there was a basic contradiction in his speech. He said that he wanted the maximum autonomy for student unions. I would agree with this. At the same time, he welcomed the proposal in the consultative document that the entire financing of the buildings, the organisation and the running of student unions should come from the university authorities and be open to their financial control in detail because they, in turn, would be responsible to the Comptroller and Auditor-General for the spending of that money. I can think of no method of financing student unions which is more likely to cause trouble for the universities. I can think of no method which is bound to destroy the autonomy of university unions more clearly and decisively than placing them under the accountant of the university who will always be frightened of the Comptroller and Auditor-General who will in turn take him to task for how the unions spend their money.

An inevitable tendency, if we then give the unions in this detailed financial way to the university authorities, will be that the day-to-day running—because that is what the expenditure of money is—of the unions will be drawn into the hands of the university authorities. Every major dispute which arises between the students and their committee about how money should be spent, instead of being a matter for themselves, will be a conflict between themselves and the university authorities. This is a recipe for creating the maximum trouble and difficulty inside the universities. I hope that the Secretary of State will look at this point very carefully before she contemplates giving it her approval.

The right hon. Lady's proposals inevitably produce a series of peculiar contradictions. She says, for instance, that, on conscience grounds, she would like students to be able to withdraw from membership of the unions. At the same time she says that they should have equal use of the facilities of the unions. How does this work? How can a student say, "I do not wish to be a member, but I can use every facility in the union"? What distinction does this make?

There is a subordinate idea that certain special funds should be given to students to join this or that society, but often these facilities are available inside the unions. Therefore, we would have three categories of membership: those who are members, those who can use all the facilities but are not members, and one cannot tell the distinction, and those who pay certain extra subscriptions and go into special rooms inside the unions for special purposes. This is a muddled, unthought-out approach and is liable to cause great trouble. Therefore, the right hon. Lady should look at this matter carefully before continuing with it.

Mr. Edward Short

If students are allowed to opt out they will not be able to use the bars in the unions because of the licensing laws. There is a contradiction here. They cannot use all the facilities if they opt out.

Mr. Mackintosh

This will create further difficulty inside these buildings. I think, therefore, that this proposal of giving a conscience clause of this kind is unsatisfactory.

I suggest a somewhat different approach to the right hon. Lady. I know that the difficulty is compulsory membership of the union. Without this, the local authority will not pay the subscription. This could be got round by saying that all students should get an addition to their grants to enable them to make use of the kind of recreational facilities which ought to be provided. I suggest that students ought to be obliged to join a particular organisation with this money. I know that certain friends of mine who belong to student unions, as all who went to universities did, might be worried and might say, "If you allow people to opt out with their cash they will use it for themselves and this will undermine the student unions as organisations." This is true and it would happen. But I should like the Secretary of State and my friends to consider that many of the larger universities contain several organisations of this kind.

There is not one union. Indeed, for a university in a big city with 10,000 or 11,000 students, it would be a grotesque horror to think of a single organisation providing facilities in one vast building for those numbers What happens in practice is that there is a main union and there are outlying facilities for students at the agricultural college on the edge of the city, for the medical students at the hospital, and for the science students who are often some distance away from the arts block. One gets a union more useful to a section of the university and subordinate facilities for others.

I suggest that there should be compulsion on the student to join union facilities, but not necessarily the one union in the university. We might allow students to choose from a variety of possibilities and thus encourage the creation of adequate facilities for different sections of universities which often feel under-privileged because they are not near the administrative centre of the university where the one major union facility is provided.

I should like to emphasise this point. If the universities and colleges provide one vast union building or try to encompass all the students in this way, they will produce a huge, impersonal curious sort of cafetria-cum-jungle. I have been in such establishments recently. They have the air of the waiting room at Heathrow Airport at the end of a long day's use. I sometimes wonder why, when I was so happy at university, there are so many students who are not really happy and enjoying university life. They do not feel that this education is a privilege and they are worried about the situation.

I was at a small university and in a union maintained totally by subscriptions. It belonged to the students and was under their control. They operated under no supervision of any kind. By Jove, I should like to have seen anybody attempt to take any of our funds and give them to purposes which we did not want. We ran the place well and efficiently and provided better facilities than the university did in its refectories and various other ways. In that establishment there was a sense of identity and self-government, which we valued. Yet, just across the road there is now an amenities centre built by the university on a throughput basis of so many students per seat per hour, eating so many mutton pies, beans and chips per hour. Because there is a shuttle conveyor belt system, there is an air of lack of responsibility, lack of possession and lack of identification. I am not surprised that in these circumstances some of the students feel ruffled about the situation.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is it not a fact that when the hon. Gentleman was an undergraduate his fees to the student union came out of his own pocket. They were a private subvention. Was that the case? Today we are paying for it, and we ought to have some control over it.

Mr. Mackintosh

That is not the case. I was entirely maintained by a body known as the Carnegie Trust for the Scottish Universities. This maintenance consisted of £9 per annum in those days. The rest I provided from work which I did. My point is that students are entitled to some support for these facilities. I do not believe it does students a great deal of good to be distracted from their studies by having to do outside manual work. The learning value of that kind of thing can easily be overdone. Students should be allowed to concentrate on qualifying in the subjects they are supposed to be taking. Therefore, a legitimate element of grant for this purpose from public funds, from local authority or central Government funds, is satisfactory. I think that the hon. Gentleman's point is that, if the student is given this money and is told to use it as a subscription to maintain his union, he will then watch over the expenditure of that money with the greatest of care. This is indeed a correct approach to getting responsibility.

I support what was said by the hon. Member for Chertsey. I think that in any case this whole business has been grossly exaggerated. Out of £3 million per annum spent by student unions, misappropriations have been trivial in terms of the total amount, and I should like to know how many local authorities could club together to spend £3 million with as little argument about how the money was spent, or how many private organisations have never had any instances of misappropriation when such a large sum has been involved.

It is wrong to condemn the students for wishing to give more to charitable causes. Students are idealistic. Many of them want to give money to these causes, and they should be congratulated on so doing. They should have autonomy in deciding how they do it, but I agree that the money should come out of subscriptions which they would otherwise retain for their own benefit and purpose.

I am worried about the consultative document. It seems authoritarian and paternal in approach, though I am not necessarily attacking anybody for that. It is a recipe for increased trouble at the universities. I wish to see students given greater autonomy. The decision on how to use grants provided for their purposes should be in their hands. They should be given the chance to develop responsibility in applying the grants to their own needs.

7.1 p.m.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I welcome particularly my right hon. Friend's concentration on getting rid of the worst of the primary schools. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) urged my right hon. Friend to accept a target of getting rid of classes of more than 30 by a certain date, but it is not, as in the past, teachers of whom we are most short but space in which to teach. When I went round the primary schools in my constituency in the years before the last election, teacher after teacher emphasised that it was no good having a commitment to smaller classes if there were not more space in which to teach.

My right hon. Friend—I am sorry that she is not in the Chamber at the moment—has been to my constituency and seen the dossier which I keep of the conditions in some of the primary schools in my area. In February of this year another survey was done, which revealed that 50 classes are over-sized. That means that one in every four has more than 41 pupils.

I pay tribute to the immense ingenuity of local people in making the best possible use of all available space, however unlikely. They are teaching in kitchens, in cloakrooms which, to everybody's surprise, have been transformed into quite respectable classrooms, church and village halls have been pressed into use, and teaching has gone on in corridors, but despite all that we still desperately need primary accommodation. The fact is that one-fifth of these over-sized classes cannot be reduced except by major building projects.

I especially welcome my right hon. Friend's fulfilling of her election pledge to bring in the largest primary school building programme in this country's history. This will enormously help the North and the North-West of England where so many of the oldest schools exist, having been built during the last century. I disagree profoundly with the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central when he says that this programme will increase the discrepancy between the North and the South. I submit that that is the reverse of the truth, because we have so many of the older schools in our old mill and other towns.

Until these new schools are ready, there is a tremendous amount to be done to relieve the strain and the frustration of large classes, on both the teachers and the pupils, by increasing the number of remedial centres, because these do not need to be in schools. Unlike the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose), we are particularly fortunate in my constituency in having both an autistic centre and an outstandingly good tutorial centre for children with severe behaviour problems. As any teacher knows—and I know there are many here—one difficult child can disturb a class more than the squeezing in of an extra six or seven children, to the detriment not only of themselves but of all the children in the class and the distraction of the teacher.

In Lancaster, children with problems which are too severe to be dealt with in the schools' own remedial classes are sent by their various schools to the tutorial centre to which I have referred, but—and this is the vitally important point with this system—they never lose contact with their own school. They always go back to it on a Friday afternoon to begin with and then, as their problems are sorted out and they become more responsive, they spend more and more time at their own schools. They are with friends, they do not feel outsiders, and eventually they are re-integrated into their normal schools. The establishment of more of these centres would be of immense value.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-upon-Avon (Mr. Maude) I, too, have a large rural area in my constituency. I welcome the Minister's inquiry, to which she referred a week ago, and her conclusion on it, into the problem of these rural schools. I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-upon-Avon stress the vital importance of the rural school to the whole of the rural community. It is a disaster to a village when a village school is taken away, and my hon. Friend was right when he said that so many of these schools can be made into first-class schools, fitting into the beauty of their surroundings, and fulfilling a first-class educational purpose by being brought up to date and not bull-dozed.

One small school started with one classroom. It then acquired indoor sanitation, then another classroom, and later a third classroom. Eventually, it acquired a playing field, and now there is not a school of which I know which gives a better education.

I welcome, too, the raising of the minor works limit to £40,000, and the increasing of the overall amount. The raising of the limit for individual projects as well as the £30 million total, combined with the huge primary school-building programme, will mean that many useful schemes can be carried out at both primary and secondary schools which would have been squeezed out, or could not have been achieved under the old limit, because the pressure on this fund is being eased by the huge primary school programme.

With so much to welcome, it seems a little ungracious to criticise the Minister, but for once I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). When we debated education as part of the debate on the Gracious Speech he said: If £100 million extra were available for education and I had to choose whether it should be spent on raising the school-leaving age or on educational facilities for the under-fives, I would opt for the latter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 5th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 569–70.] So would I. I feel very strongly, indeed, that educational deprivation begins well before the age of four, let alone the age of five, and I am deeply anxious that much greater provision should be made for nursery schools and classes in all areas—and here I agree with the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor)—and not merely in the deprived areas, because we want a proper mix.

Subject to that, I congratulate my right hon. Friend most heartily on getting her priorities absolutely right.

7.9 p.m.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

I strongly support what the hon. Lady the Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) said about the importance of nursery education. I am sure it is widely agreed on both sides of the House that the attainment of greater equality of educational opportunity is a prime aim of educational policy.

The important question is how far, after 17 months, has Government policy matched that aim? The Secretary of State said on 5th November: The main priorities, therefore, to which the Government are allocating resources and effort in education at this time are improving primary school building, raising the school-leaving age and strengthening further and higher education."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 510.] Apart from carrying through the extension of compulsory secondary schooling with £125 million already laid aside for this purpose by the previous Administration, this policy is heavily geared towards increased primary school building. I am sure that most people would agree with the priority of greater emphasis on this sphere, but from the point of view of the overall context of educational opportunity, what is at question is a matter of balance.

It has emerged, from the Minister's turning down an inquiry into the N.U.T. survey of old, run-down school buildings, that a firm embargo has been placed for at least two years, and possibly for four, on any improvements or replacements in secondary schools. In the next three years, £43 million will be given to renovating and rebuilding some of the worst existing primary schools, but there will be virtually nothing at all for the secondary schools in this way. Again, for the two following years, £48 million—again, a very large sum—will be spent on the repair and replacement of primary schools and nothing at all in the secondary sphere.

This is, on any count, a very one-sided policy and certainly cannot be divorced from the Secretary of State's well-known predisposition towards stopping local authorities—Tory as well as Labour—from going comprehensive. But it is peculiarly perverse that the latest Report on Education, No. 51, in August this year, shows that, in the three years before the right hon. Lady's entry to office, primary schools received twice the amount of improvement monies as were received by secondary schools. But whatever the motives and justifications, the results have been stark.

Perhaps the most dramatic result has been her turning down of five projects for improving and rebuilding secondary schools which the I.L.E.A. considered top priorities, including the Thomas Calton School at Peckham. I mention this not because it is in my constituency but because it has killed a major breakthrough in incorporating on one site all the recent thinking in secondary education designed to break down the barriers between home and school. There is perhaps nothing more important at this time which could have been destroyed at a stroke.

This is particularly serious when the Plowden Report recently demonstrated clearly that parental attitudes as a factor in the variation in childrens' educational performance easily over-ride both the state of the school and home circumstances as well. In other words, the gross imbalance of one single factor in the Minister's policy—namely, primary school building—has been at the expense of another factor—namely, encouraging parental commitment and improving parental attitudes, which is known to be far more important.

But there is another way in which an obsessive concern—for that is what it is—with primary school building militates against improved opportunities for the less privileged. A month ago the National Federation for Educational Research published a document called "The Plowden Children Four Years Later", which emphasised again the well-known limits of any education system's effectiveness in view of the degree to which a person's interests and attainments are stimulated by what happens outside the school.

The document emphasised yet again the well known cumulative language handicap by the age of five. It is surely unchallengable that positive discrimination before the age of five and through and around neighbourhood schools after five, is what makes most education in a social sense. Yet the Government's efforts in this sphere have been puny.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science announced on 4th November that a mere £11 million had been allocated to the urban programme for the provision of nursery schools in addition to the 5,000 places announced in January but not yet implemented. Seen in the context of the £173 million devoted to primary and secondary school building over the next four years, and a further £91 million for the primary school repair and replacement over the same period, the commitment to nursery education, in view of its known critical importance, is absolute peanuts. It will have to be 10, 20 or 30 times greater before it could be expected to have any real impact, and it would have to be far more selectively channelled.

At present, Bristol, which is a relatively prosperous authority, has 1,175 places, while Liverpool and Manchester in the North-West—cities half as large again—have only 375 and 383 respectively. Why should Oxford have 327, when Huddersfield and Bootle—in the North-West again—have absolutely none?

But what adds insult to injury is the Secretary of State's decision, which she announced on 5th November, to devote £2 million to the direct grant schools. This brazen and provocative buttressing of actual inequality of opportunity was defended by the Secretary of State on the grounds that it gave excellent educational opportunities to pupils from many differing backgrounds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1971; Vol. 825, c. 505.] She must know that the Public Schools Commission, in its report on the direct grants, showed that three out of every four direct grant school pupils came from white-collar backgrounds and only one out of 13 came from semi-skilled or unskilled working-class families. From the point of view of equal opportunity, this is certainly the most regressive step in educational policy since the right hon. Lady's anti-comprehensive circular, and whatever her pretences she must certainly know this.

The single other most important cause of unequal opportunity in Britain today remains the working-class drop-out after the age of 15 and the particularly expensive nature of sixth form teaching. Since it now costs roughly 80 per cent. more than teaching in the sixth form below the age of 16, largely because the teaching groups are very much smaller, it is a prime source of inequality that only a third of sixth formers come from the working class.

The significance of this figure is that it is precisely the same proportion as the number of undergraduates from manual working homes. In other words, the share of places in universities taken by working-class students will continue to rise, as it did in the Sixties, from a quarter to a third only if the number of working-class children staying on continues to rise as rapidly as it did before. But this is very unlikely unless much more deliberate action is taken to reduce the regional differentiation which is a very powerful bias against the working-class child.

Mr. Rhodes

Is my hon. Friend aware also that many of the figures produced over the years by Governments of both parties—I am not making a party point—to the effect that the proportion of our working-class children going to universities is higher than in other western European countries is a gross deception in fact, since the definitions of social categories in this country which are called working-class are in no way related to those in Germany, for example, and that if we tried to make that kind of analysis more systematically, with equal gradings throughout nations, we would find that we have, if anything, a rather more class-divided system of higher education than is true of most Continental countries?

Mr. Meacher

I thank my hon. Friend for that point. Certainly, although the statistics appear to show otherwise, the number of working class children who reach higher education, as has been recently shown by most careful study, is much smaller in this country. This bears out my point about the tremendous importance of the 16–18 age group and the assurance that working-class children in very much larger numbers will stay on at least to put themselves into a position to enter further and higher education.

Yet the Government's present policies of postponing desperately needed secondary school renovations and replacements, the anti comprehensive prejudice and the very important failure to take the lead in promoting open, as opposed to selective, sixth-form policies within secondary schools—all of these continue to act as a very strong bias against the working class child.

Therefore, I believe that, by this very obsessive concern with a single sector of education—and by no means the most important area within that sector—and as a result of many divisive policies elsewhere, the goal of equal opportunity is being deliberately and severely eroded. If the Secretary of State still clings to this goal, she must fundamentally change here policies. Otherwise, she must, in all honour, publicly renounce this goal.

7.20 p.m.

Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) flitted from one subject to another like a butterfly. I trust therefore that he will not expect me to refer to all the subjects with which he dealt.

We can all agree that nursery school education is very important. However, the important aspect for the deprived classes, as the hon. Gentleman called them, is the raising of the school leaving age, for it is the children from working-class and large families who are leaving school at the earliest opportunity.

I remind the hon. Member for Oldham, West that it was the Labour Government who postponed the raising of the school leaving age for two years. He must accept, therefore, that when we are dealing with such matters as improving secondary schools, the task will take two years longer because of the decision of his hon. Friends to put back the raising of the school leaving age.

I congratulate the Government on their successes in educational policy. In particular I must refer to the reduction in the standard size of primary classes in Scotland. Hon. Members who represent English constituencies may not know that the standard size of primary class in Scotland has been 35, but only 30 in England. It is very good news indeed that we are to get the number down, remebering that our children have one year longer in primary education in Scotland than is the case in England.

Another cause for congratulation is the school building programe which for the next two years is 35 per cent. higher than ever before, with a heavy concentration on school building in the industrial areas. The new public works programme announced recently will enable no fewer than 16 new primary schools to be built in Lanarkshire and nine in Dunbartonshire, to mention only two counties of Scotland.

Then there is the heartening increase in the supply of teachers. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave the figures in the debate on 5th November, so I will not repeat them all. I must, however, reiterate that we now have 1,300 more teachers in service than at the beginning of the year and that 700 more graduates or certificate holders have entered colleges of education.

My hon. Friend also stated in that debate that raising the school leaving age would result in 7,500 more pupils in 1972–73. That figure must be kept in proportion with the extra teachers who have come into service in the last year. I notice, too, that the rise is much steeper in the second year. I should be grateful if, when he replies, the Secretary of State would say why there is a rise to 30,000 the following year.

I am very much in favour of raising the school leaving age. The future of the nation depends on education, and if one looks back to 1959 and the Crowther Report one sees that it is the children in the large families who suffer most from leaving school early. In those days there was National Service, and when the Army examined recruits they found that about half the boys in the top two ability classes had left school at the earliest opportunity. This is a sad misuse of resources and I am glad to say that in Scotland this view is shared by the majority of teachers and by the Educational Institute of Scotland, with which I am associated.

I disagree with the E.I.S. in wanting to postpone the raising of the school leaving age in Scotland for two or three years. There may be difficulties in a few schools if the age is raised and the E.I.S. is right to point these difficulties out, but I do not believe that the conditions will be so bad as to lead to possible teacher strikes, as was suggested in a report in the Scottish Press this morning. The difficulties will be incomparably less than they were in 1946 because on this occasion there has been much more preparation.

I am disappointed that so far there has been no examination devised so that those who stay on at school for the extra year and who are in the lower half of ability can get a certificate of Secondary Education when they leave school. The Secretary of State and the Examination Board should look carefully at the C.S.E. system. It is available to children in England and Wales.

There is some anxiety in Scotland about the possible reorganisation of Her Majesty's Inspectorate. This body is one of very high standing in Scotland and it would not be a good idea to organise it on a district rather than on a centralised basis. I hope the Minister will say what he has in mind in this context and if the suggested reorganisation is only a rumour. If it is the latter, I trust that he will deny it.

There is a report in today's Glasgow Herald of a speech by Professor Chambers of Glasgow University in which he refers to wastage among students in universities. The figure in Scotland is 15 per cent., which represents 6,000 to 7,000 students, and this is far too high. The professor lists, among the causes of wastage, weak-willed students and those who cannot get down to work. However, nowhere in his speech does he place any responsibility on university staffs.

Scottish students go to university a year earlier than their counterparts in England and consequently they are bound to be more immature, being a year younger. I appreciate that a great many freshers enter university every year. Nevertheless, there seems to be a considerable lack of involvement on the part of the staff. After all, the staffing ratio is quite high in our universities. To borrow a modern phrase, there should be more man-management on the part of staff.

The professor in each faculty should see that each member of his staff keeps a watchful eye on a portion of the freshers entering the faculty—say, 15 to 20 students. As a result of this students who are weak-willed or who cannot get down to work have someone to consult and from whom they can get help.

I welcome the decision of Stirling University to provide common club premises for staff and pupils. There seems always to be too little communication between the two sides in university life. Possibly we should go further and look at the prime causes of wastage, and perhaps even consider whether teacher training should not be made compulsory for dons at university. In some cases the standard of teaching is a disgrace and lecturers are often completely disinterested in teaching. For such people their vocation lies elsewhere.

I must comment on the subject of school meals. It is invidious that some children get free meals while others must take dinner money to school. The administration of this system is complicated and both teachers and parents hate it.

The Conservative Government have made some imaginative improvements in the social services. Is it not possible for them to devise a system by which school meals could be set off against family allowances? The Deputy Director of Education for the County of Sutherland has recently produced such a scheme. I am not an expert on the subject. It may have flaws. But I believe that it should be examined by the Department. Will the Minister see that the Department conducts such an examination when I send him a copy of the Sutherland memorandum?

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Barry Jones (Flint, East)

I am sure that the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) will appreciate that I am in no way being discourteous to him in not taking up the points he made in such independent fashion. My object is to be brief.

I wish to concentrate on the subject of pre-school education. We should concern ouselves with those children who are incarcerated in tower blocks of flats without having either a playground or a garden. I think of the child without brothers or sisters for companionship; of the culturally deprived child having either an inadequate emotional, social, or even physical background. Such children start their compulsory schooling at a very great disadvantage if they do not have the compensatory environment of a play group or nursery school. Again, the physically or mentally handicapped child living at home can be greatly helped by having contact with those whom one might call "normal" children.

Allied to the need for young children to get into the nursery schools and the good effects this has for parents. There is the mother in a one-parent family who needs day care for her child while she is working. There is, particularly, the mother isolated from her supportive parents or other relatives who desperately needs a short break from the strain of a demanding child. The sort of break I have in mind is of great benefit to both mother and child. I am in no way an advocate of Women's Lib.—

Miss Lestor


Mr. Jones

Because of the performance of the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State this afternoon. As I was saying, I am in no way advocating Women's Lib. in all its facets, but too many of our young mothers atrophy and distort the whole pattern of their developing lives because they are trapped on the treadmill of child rearing, of housewifery and the endless worries of domestic budgeting.

As a Welshman I am entitled to speak of the provision of nursery education in the Principality. In January, 1970, only 1,899 children were in nursery school classes in North Wales. Anglesey, Caernarvon, Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire had no nursery schools as such. Flintshire, my own county, which I like to think is streets ahead of other education authorities in Wales, had only one nursery school as such, even though it had 701 nursery places in all its schools.

I am aware, too, that children, because of better medicine, better nutrition and better hygiene grow and develop earlier. The evidence of research is that today's children are one and a half years ahead in growth of those of 50 years ago, and the 1920s age of six would have been equivalent to today's four and a half year old. Nor do I forget the rather gruesome statistics which show that each year children die because they pull boiling saucepans over themselves; because of road accidents, because they set oilstoves alight; because they put their fingers into electric sockets and because they turn on gas taps.

I should not like reactionaries to say that pre-school education is simply a means of giving the mother an easy life, or providing industry female labour.

The rise of the play-group movement shows what can be done, but there is a flaw in it in that the play groups are still at their wits' end to know how they can meaningfully involve working-class mothers and their children. My conviction that nursery schools are vitally important is reinforced by the knowledge that educational psychologists estimate that a child's I.Q. can vary between 10 and 40 points when environmental factors are considered. It does not take a genius to know that one of the obstacles to expansion in the educational sector is expenditure and the constant battle for the limited resources available.

The miserable facts are that educational provision for the under-fives has fallen from 43 per cent. in 1900 to less than 10 per cent. in 1969; that the percentage of the educational budget spent on the 3–5 age group has continued to fall sadly, and that in Wales only one new nursery school was built between 1945 and 1967—and that, in fact, was really the rebuilding of an existing establishment.

So far, urban aid programmes have been the principal means of encouraging nursery schools, but I want to see more thought given to the hundreds of thousands of children in rural areas. Many of them suffer a special deprivation in that they often live in social isolation with young mothers tied to rural cottages, often without public or private transport. How can toddlers learn to conceptualise and acquire their own personalities when isolated from their fellows? All youngsters should have the right to talk and play with children of their own age, and to participate in activities not conditioned by the adult world.

Perhaps the answer in the rural areas would be a force of peripatetic nursery teachers. Perhaps the answer to the tower blocks would be temporary nursery schools built at the top of the tower or adjacent to it. I should like, ideally, to see the House commit itself to the goal of universal part-time nursery schooling in a child's third year. The medium-term aim should be nursery school education on demand in urban and rural areas. The immediate proposition should be planned and massive campaigns to popularise the concept of nursery education by our local education authorities, and a Secretary of State's decision to implement a great programme of nursery school expansion.

If the People's Republic of China could build in every village a blast furnace of a kind, why should not we in every one of our villages be able to provide some form of nursery school education? Talking of the People's Republic of China, one is tempted to consider how we could advocate the rehabilitation of our Secretary of State, but there is no time to do that in tonight's circumstances, save to say that the right hon. Lady really is a Chinese puzzle.

7.38 p.m.

Mr. William Shelton (Clapham)

I join with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and with my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls) in regretting the sudden death of Sir William Houghton. Anyone who, like myself and my hon. Friend, served on the Inner London Education Authority, will remember Sir William's name with great affection, and will respect the great work he did for that authority.

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) is not now present, because I am sure that he would not have taken it amiss if I said that I listened to him with some nostalgia. His speech reminded me of many opposition speeches I have heard in the smaller chamber on the other side of the river. In the Greater London Council we had the same obsessive criticism and expression of personalities and the same obsession with administrative trivia, but few constructive propositions, and an idea of education probably different from that held by my hon. and right hon. Friends.

I do not dispute the sincerity of the views of hon. Members opposite. I believe that they see education as a means of getting fewer inequalities in our society. Although this may well be a secondary objective, I believe that the first objective of education should be to provide a good education and, through it, to fit people to the lives they will live on leaving school. There is a fairly basic divide between us on this.

I should like to follow the very interesting speech of the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), who spoke about further and higher education. One of the most dramatic changes in education in Britain in the last generation has been the incredible growth of further and higher education. When I left university I realised, almost with incomprehension, the very small percentage of people who went to university. I realised this only when I had the privilege of going to an American university, where the situation was quite different. I thank Heaven that today we are at least approaching the American situation.

I ask the House to reflect upon two of the fundamental problems of further and higher education. I have never found an answer to the first one, which is how do we know how many people should receive university education and how much should we spend on it? The second question is how can costs per head be reduced without reducing quality? How can we get better value for money for further and higher education? As regards how many people should receive further and higher education, the whole of our community agrees that everyone should receive primary education, and more and more people now believe—and I agree with them—that nursery education should be included. We all agree that children should receive secondary education, and the Government—I agree entirely with the decision—are raising the leaving age to 16 years.

How many people should go on to receive further and higher education? There seem to be two extremes of views, which can best be summed up as follows. At one end we have the view best represented by the "more means worse" philosophy. At the other end we have the view held by hon. Members opposite that there should be some form of quite free and total self-selection for university—in other words, all those who wish to go to university should be enabled to do so.

We could say that we believe that society would be best served if all those who wished to go to university could do so, provided that standards did not drop, and that this is a matter of money and, therefore, over a sufficient time scale, as our society gets richer, perhaps we may reach that goal eventually. The only caveat I draw about that—perhaps one may even call it an élitist trap—is that it is presupposing that university education and academic education is automatically by far the best type for children or students. I do not necessarily believe that. There are many students at universities today who would be better served by, for instance, a three- or four-year sandwich course much more positively directed to some commercial or industrial end. Therefore, I do not believe that universal university education is necessarily a good goal of our society.

There seem to be three different ways by which people try to measure how many should receive a university education. The first way—I believe that the Department of Education and Science use this term—is normally called that of private demand, provided certain qualifications are met. This is what occurs at present in Britain and this is the criterion that was used by the Robbins Committee. As we all know, the Robbins Committee under-estimated the number of people who would get those qualifications, and, with the raising of the school leaving age, many people will obtain those qualifications. Whatever Government are in power over the next 10 or 20 years, if they are to provide for those with the qualifications, they will have to devote much more money to higher and university education.

That brings me to the importance of how much a society can afford. The second way that people try to measure university education is by what is known as a rate of return. This is tied in with planning, programming and budgeting, output budgeting, how many people who have been to university do better in later life than those who have not, and trying to measure average salary, and all the rest. I view this with some cynicism, but it may be a useful way of looking at it and some work has been done on this.

The third way, most interesting and even more fanciful than the previous one, is the theory which seems to be gaining credence among the university population that in some way university education confers a benefit not on the student who receives it but on the State that gives it. In other words, it is a type of raw material which aids the country's growth rate. I read in a newspaper recently about a student strike which may well spring from the misguided view that the student is conferring a benefit on the State by agreeing to be educated, that he is doing the State a good turn and that somehow this will help the State in his later life. This view is exploded by graduate unemployment, which has been mentioned, especially in certain cate- gories, for instance in the arts—and professionals often emigrate once they have left university.

I have no answer to this question other than that to which the Robbins Committee came, that we have to do it by demand and that all those people who wish to go to university, provided that they have the qualifications, should go. That is not a satisfactory answer. I hope that one day someone will have an answer.

How can we get better value for money for those who go to further and higher education? Two facets attract and interest me. The first, student loans, has been well ventilated and I do not propose to dwell upon it. I have always thought this to be a sensible way of providing money, costing less per capita and making the student slightly more aware, perhaps, of his cost to the community. But the other way to which, like it or not, we shall be driven is a much more regional and less national type of recruitment for our universities. This will be inevitable in the next 10, 15 or 20 years. I understand that in the 163 colleges of education, 78 per cent. of the students are residential, in lodgings or in the colleges themselves. I remember Sir William Alexander saying that he had spoken to students of the College of Education in Sheffield and that out of 1,500 of them only 100 came from Sheffield. He said that he supposed that there were about 1,400 students from Sheffield spread around in other colleges of education all over the country. If this is so—clearly it is—and with the pressure we shall have on costs, obviously this will have to be changed eventually and we shall have to move towards the American system of a far more regional recruitment.

Finally, the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central used a phrase with which clearly we must all agree. He talked about finding adequate resources and applying them correctly. This is the whole language of education. Until someone can show me why we should contribute more or less to the cost of university education, if we have to find more money for education I should rather extend it downwards into the younger age brackets than upwards into the older age brackets.

7.50 p.m.

Mr. William Hamling (Woolwich, West)

I wonder whether the parents of the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton) would have applied to him the philosophy that he has just outlined for higher education. If they had done so, he might not have gone to Radley College and Worcester College, Oxford. He might have gone instead to the local technical college. I wonder what difference that would have made to his attitude and outlook on life.

I suggest that the question in deciding how far higher education should be expanded is not to ask how many people should receive higher education. It is to ask what is the purpose of higher education. I would much prefer to read John Newman on the idea of a university than listen to the abstract, empty, cost-analysis approach to education to which we have just had to listen. A university education is far more than that. When we speak of a university education we are speaking of individuals with diverse needs and the possibilities. They cannot be put into the arid and narrow concept of a cost-analysis, as though education were some medicine. The question was posed as to how many people should receive further education as though they were to have some medicine shoved down their throats. We want people to enjoy education. We do not want to have them receive education. That is entirely the wrong attitude to education.

It is right to ask what the Government think is the purpose of education. What is the purpose of further education and higher education for students? I wish we had heard more about that from the Secretary of State.

I shall refer to a book published in this country recently but written by an American. The book is entitled "De-schooling Society" by Ivan Illich. May we have the curtain raised and may we be shown what is the Government's philosophy in education—not only in further and higher education, but also in primary and secondary education. Right through the piece, what is their philosophy on education? What sort of philosophy do they envisage as a result of their educational policies? This afternoon we were given no conception by the Secretary of State of what education is about.

However, we have been told that the Government want to give priority to primary education, the implication being that the Labour Government did not give primary school education a fair crack of the whip.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Hamling

I would merely say this to the hon. Gentleman who says, "Hear, hear". More primary schools were built in six years of Labour government than in 13 years of Conservative government between 1951 and 1964. The test of the Government's policy on their own showing, will be how many primary schools have been built after five years, what Tory local authorities will do to the right hon. Lady's proposals, and what the Treasury and local government finance will do to local education authorities. It is about time that the right hon. Lady understood that she is a member of a Cabinet with a financial responsibility towards local authorities.

This reminds me of what went on in 1956 and 1957, when only 50,000 places were provided in primary schools. I say that for the benefit of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Kenneth Clarke), who thinks that this is funny. That was as a result of the financial policy of the Conservative Government towards local authorities. Will that be the reality? Have we been hearing this afternoon the promise, the paper? What will the performance be?

Let us have a look at the reality of this Government philosophy in education. Ivan Illich says: Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. We have had no substance from the Government today, although we had a little process. We heard nothing from the Government about the content of education. The pupil is schooled to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with confidence —a diploma would appeal to the hon. Member for Clapham— and fluency with the ability to say something new. This debate has added to the confusion, in the sense that we have not yet heard from the Government what sort of education they want to see carried on in schools.

Let us forget about the buildings for a moment and consider what goes on in them. I have taught in these buildings. I went to school in a building which was built way back in the middle of the nineteenth century. The education I received in the 1920s was in many ways much better than the education which goes on in some buildings today. It is not a question of building. We had outside lavatories. We had no staffroom. We had none of the apparent facilities that people talk about today. We had education in that school. Later I went to a grammar school. I have taught in secondary modern schools in Deptford and downtown Liverpool. I know something about the types of school about which these people merely talk but to which they certainly never send their children. In fact, I used to teach in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Marsden).

Illich says: Educational disadvantage cannot be cured by relying on education within the school. In such places as down-town Liverpool, the decaying cities of Manchester, Leeds, Salford and elsewhere there are not only educational problems but also grave social problems—large families, unemployment, poverty, social inadequacy, broken homes, bad housing, squalor, immigrant families, and a very low expectation.

Ivan Illich says: Even with schools of equal quality a poor child can seldom catch up with a rich one. Even if they attend equal schools and begin at the same age, poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child. These advantages range from conversation and books in the home to vacation travel and a different sense of oneself, and apply for the child who enjoys them both in and out of school. So the poorer student will generally fall behind so long as he depends on school advancement or learning. The poor need funds to enable them to learn, not to get certified for the treatment of their alleged disproportionate deficiencies. I used to say to social workers, "Get off our backs. Give us incomes and then the poor can look after their families. Give us decent social conditions and then perhaps some of these alleged deficiencies will disappear."

Education is not simply a matter of something going on in school. Therefore, it is all the more deplorable that the Government have adopted the policy of holding up development at the secondary stage. We must look at the right hon. Lady's policy for education as part of the Government's whole social policy. She says that it is not her job to tell doctors what to do about the nutrition of children. If it is not her job, whose is it? She is a member of the same Cabinet who decide all these things. She has as much responsibility for unemployment as has the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. It is her job. Education is part of the whole social process, and their education policy is part of all the social policies of this Government. They cannot be shrugged off in that way.

The trouble is that schools are not equal. On top of all the social inadequacies, social differences and social disadvantages, we have educational disadvantages as well. Think of the secondary schools in down-town Liverpool, think of the secondary schools in Deptford, in Southwark or in Camden Town; and then think of Hillfoot Hay in Wavertree or of the secondary schools in my constituency, which is not a deprived constituency from this point of view. In my constituency, we have some of the loveliest schools in London. They are not in Deptford. They are not in Bermondsey.

On top of all the social disadvantages, as I say, there are the educational disadvantages and the greatest criticism which can be levelled against this Government is that, by their decision to prevent plans for secondary education going forward, they are causing to persist the very disadvantages which are socially of the worst kind.

Is selection to remain? We have not been told. What happens if secondary schools are not built according to comprehensive programmes? We have not been told.

Let us look for a moment at some schools in particular. Here, I think of some of those in my borough, a borough of strange contrasts. I think of Charlton Secondary School, which the I.L.E.A. had scheduled for changes but about which nothing can now take place, probably, for ten years as a result of the Government's policy. There is a comprehensive school on two sites half a mile from each other in a noisy and run down built-up part of the borough. Whatever we may do with the rest of the area, these schools will remain as a result of Tory Government policy.

Parents come to me and say, "I am not sending my child there"—"Why cannot I send my daughter to Kidbrooke?"—"Why cannot I send my son to Crown Woods?"—"Why do we have to send them to these other places?".

People worry about the morale of staff. People worry about educational standards in some of these schools. We now know who is responsible for the continuance of this sort of thing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) talked about Thomas Calton School in Southwark. We have other such schools not only in Southwark, not only in my part of London, but in many parts of the country. The Government are determined that these schools shall stay as they are for the next ten years.

I regard it as the worst criticism of this Government that they are persisting in that sort of folly because they have no real philosophy of education. They do not know what it is about. Most of them were not nurtured in this sort of educational background. I do not accuse them for it. I am not envious of them, as the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) suggested we might be. We are not envious of them. In many ways, we feel sorry for them because of their ignorance of the realities of life. But they must remember that they are in Government, and their ignorance is not accepted as an excuse by the people of Britain. If they do not know about education, if they do not understand what education is about, let them get out and let someone come in who does.

8.5 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe)

In a sense, it is appropriate that I should follow the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Hamling), who finished a somewhat bitter speech—I thought it unfortunate—by de- nouncing hon. Members on this side, saying that our philosophy of education was in part based on a lack of experience of what he described as the realities of ordinary life. He pitied us for it, which was kind of him, I suppose, but he was rather aggressive about it.

It may interest the hon. Gentleman to know that I was educated in a nineteenth century primary school in a pit village in Derbyshire. I have experience at first hand of precisely the conditions which he criticised so strongly a few minutes ago. It is a mark of the bitterness and the emptiness of the Opposition that the hon. Gentleman, and others like him, should use such a light basis for such a strong attack. When one gets down to it, what the hon. Gentleman was being so ungenerous and so bitter about was the Government's determination in concentrating on our nineteenth century primary schools.

I should have thought that there was plenty of room for the Opposition to find points on which they could legitimately oppose the Government, and I can only regard it as thoroughly ungracious and a mark of the sort of character which the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short) has put upon Labour's education policy that they can bring themselves to attack what is being done about our nineteenth century primary schools. They make no admissions or concessions; they simply attack this part of our policy as well. But they cannot dodge the fact that they left behind 6,000 nineteenth century primary schools in need of modernisation and major maintenance.

The most important decision which this Government have taken—it was courageous to plump so hard for it—was the decision to give such high priority to improving the facilities and eradicating the disgraceful conditions in these schools, bringing them up to the required standard. It is absurd to choose an attack on this as the theme of speeches intended to support a Motion criticising the Government for being socially divisive and economically wasteful.

It is absurd, also, to attack the concentration on primary education on the basis that the Government's real motive is to interfere with what the Opposition believes should be done about secondary reorganisation. One thing which is as plain as a pikestaff from where I sit on this side is that the reason why many hon. Members opposite have carped about the primary school programme is that they are obsessed with secondary reorganisation, and they desperately want to take all available money in the building programme to carry on the drive towards secondary reorganisation which they set going when in Government.

Mr. Hamling


Mr. Clarke

No, I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman took long enough himself, and I hope to make a brief speech.

I am in favour of the elimination, so far as possible, of the degree of selection that we have had in secondary education and of the extension of comprehensive education. Politically, I should not differ all that far from the Opposition's aims in that respect. But, educationally and socially, I consider that the primary sector has been neglected for too long because of the obsessive debate about secondary schools and the concentration on reorganisation, with its political overtones. I think it absolutely right that the Government should go ahead with their primary school programme.

When I say that I am in favour of an increased element of comprehensive education in the secondary sector, I do not go as far as hon. Members opposite, and I differ from many of them in that I do not believe that it should be absolutely universal, without exception. I do not get upset about some selective exceptions from the comprehensive system. One of the exceptions which I defend, but which seems most to anger the Labour Party, is the direct grant school. I think it most unfortunate that the Opposition choose to regard any assistance whatever to the direct grant schools as socially divisive. The Labour Party has decided to declare itself the enemy of all these 175 schools, with their 100,000 pupils, despite the fact that they include among them—this is not true of them all, of course—some of the finest educational establishments in this country. They attack them mainly because they cannot tolerate any exception to the comprehensive system of education, disregarding the fact that the majority of them could not possibly be incorporated into any comprehensive system, because they are too small and inappropriately situated.

They ignore in particular the effect of the aid recently given upon the social composition of pupils in the direct grant schools. A very good proportion of the £2 million is going towards assistance with the fees. That will have precisely the opposite effect to what the Opposition say. They criticise the present social mix of pupils in the schools, but assistance with the fees will benefit those parents of modest means with children who could benefit from the direct grant schools. That is what really upsets the Labour Party. It does not wish parents of modest means to send an increasing proportion of their children to direct grant schools, because they want to use the fraudulent argument that the schools are for a minority privileged by wealth, because they have determined to attack them if they return to power.

I did not wish to concentrate entirely in the short time at my disposal on either primary or secondary education, because I wanted to say a few words about the expansion of higher education. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central touched on the matter which interested me when he demanded from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State an assurance that she would continue to commit the Government to the expansion of higher education on the Robbins Report principle over the next four or five years. This has been discussed in a non-partisan way, particularly by the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton).

Whilst I entirely accept, as we all do, the need for the expansion of higher education and of opportunities in it, I think, with some sadness, that we must stop the bi-partisan acceptance of the Robbins' principles approach as an open-ended commitment which all Governments should adopt. The Robbins principle applied to the future is a dangerous open-ended commitment which we are unlikely to be able to meet, whichever party is in power. We shall help to increase the revolution of rising expectations and get many young people to expect that higher education will be available to them if they get their two A levels and want to go to higher education establishments, and I do not think that either party when in power will be able to keep up with the demand.

The Department of Education and Science says that 727,000 places in higher education will be required by 1981 if the Robbins principles are accepted. All previous estimates have been too low. A recent Penguin Special said that 847,000 was a more correct figure by 1981–82. It said that in 1980 24 per cent. of that age group would have two or more A levels and be able to meet the minimum qualifications for higher education.

I accept that philosophical interests of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West, which he put very movingly, but there are some practical problems as well. Acceptance of the Robbins principles means that 1.81 per cent. of gross national product will be required for higher education to meet the target in 1981, compared with 0.87 per cent. in 1966–67. If any Secretary of State could put his hand on his heart and say that the targets were feasible and could be attained, I should cheer heartily, but I do not think that they can be attained. I think that we are chasing moonbeams. In the attempt to get to these unreal targets we should commit enormous resources to higher education which could make a very big contribution if diverted to nursery education and the education of the 16- to 18-year age group and the other priority areas that we have been discussing today.

I believe that when the University Grants Commission publishes the figures for the next quinquennium we shall find that it is not keeping up with the targets. Instead of defining that as failure, we should face up to it and try to explain to the public what is involved.

There are some arguments about the nature of our higher education to support what I am saying, that we should go back from the Robbins principle target I make it clear that I do not accept that "more means worse" argument. The mushroom growth of higher education has not appreciably affected standards, but it has led to the enormous problem of student accommodation. We must realise what we are doing if we carry on expanding to the enormous targets envisaged by 1981–82. Our university expansion has deposited large numbers of single people in inadequate accommodation, often in the middle of big cities with appalling housing problems. I do not accept the answer put forward in the Gracious Speech by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and discussed by my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham that possibly more students will have to live at home. That would be a very regrettable step for us to have to take to try to keep up with the numbers. It would be a disastrous reversal of trends in higher education, with people having moved away from home to live an independent existence within the university community, if more have to live a nine-to-five existence based on their home environment.

There is also the problem of graduate unemployment. As the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North said, it is worth remembering that the original commitments to the Robbins principles was based on the need to match national manpower requirements in higher education. It was an investment that we were making. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is unfortunately only too clear that we have hopelessly exceeded national manpower requirements for graduates.

I believe that not only is that true at this time of recession, but that there is likely to be a continuing excess if we expand simply to meet demand in higher education.

It could also be socially divisive to over expand. It is true that the proportion of working-class students at university remains the same how as it always has been. One of the problems that leads to such waste of working-class talent is not the financial problem but, as is well established by research, the lack of motivation and identification with higher education amongst working-class school-leavers. If we expand into a situation in which students have appalling accommodation problems, and in which the problems of graduate unemployment became even more acute, with graduate unemployed becoming a regular feature of our unemployment pattern, the motivation of other working-class students is likely to be affected. It is working-class students who will be most deterred from pursuing higher education in an over-expanded system. Middle-class students, with a tradition of higher education, will still automatically go on if the opportunities are there.

If we set the Robbins target and attempt to meet it in a makeshift way, that will lead to great frustration. I accept of course that failure to meet the target will cause some frustration because those wanting to go to university with minimum qualifications who find themselves excluded will feel that they are deprived and treated unjustly. But there could be greater frustrations caused by mushroom growth—frustrations when someone has completed a course of higher education and then finds that there is no use for his talents and the education from which he has benefited and to which he has devoted up to five years of his life.

I hope that higher education will be expanded as rapidly as resources can be found, but that, in choosing priorities for spending, higher education will be put in the same category as other branches of education. We should not allow the commitment to the Robbins shibboleth to allow higher education to run away with a vast proportion of the cake for the next decade at the expense of other areas of great educational need.

8.19 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

I add my voice to the tributes paid to Sir William Houghton, the chief education officer of I.L.E.A., though I had no direct connections with I.L.E.A. His reputation was not local but national—indeed, international. His advice and help were sought by other authorities in this country and as far away as Hong Kong and other places throughout the world.

Despite some of the soothing things said in the debate, there is a great deal of concern in the country about the way education is going under the present Government. That concern is not confined to Labour Members. It spread throughout the educational world, among teachers and parents and members of local education authorities, both Conservative and Labour, certainly among the higher education authorities and their staffs and students, in the voluntary organisations, as I am sure many hon. Members opposite will have realised during the past few months, and in the Press. I am sure that when the Evening Standard comes out with an editorial such as that which it carries this evening on the question of the priorities of the Secretary of State it is unusual and shows signs of worry among people who normally support the Government.

The reason for that worry is that we have a Secretary of State who tends to represent the more reactionary elements in the Conservative Party. She will use her powers to prevent local authorities from doing good things—and the withdrawal of school milk is only one example. I am glad that my local authority in Manchester has found a way to circumvent the school milk Bill by putting soup or chocolate in the milk and giving it to the free dinner children and selling it at a subsidised price to the others. It will spend more of the rates in this way than it would spend if the Government allowed it to issue free milk.

On the other hand, the Secretary of State does little to persuade local authorities which are not doing their job to improve themselves. The amount spent by some local authorities on equipment, books, libraries and the allowance for each child is scandalously low, but that, says the right hon. Lady, is their business. She talks about a 3 per cent. improvement ratio in the rate support grant, and when she does so I am reminded of the nurses who received a 15 per cent. increase and one nurse said to me, "Fifteen per cent. of what?", because it will need many amounts of 3 per cent. even to restore the cuts in expenditure on school equipment made by Tory councils when they took over in 1967 and 1968.

The Secretary of State argues about the tremendous amount of primary school building. In fact, in 1973—only the second year for which the Government will be responsible for school building—there will be a cut in the primary school and secondary school building programmes. There will probably be a cut in the higher education building programme, too.

Ten years ago a Conservative Minister of Education upset the Tory Party conference. Speaking at the October, 1961, conference in his last year as Minister, Sir David Eccles, now in another place, called on all parents to send their children to the local maintained primary school. He said: We should gain a very important social advantage if all children went to the maintained primary school". He even urged the public schools to reduce their entry age so that the children of better-off people could go to the maintained primary schools before going to them. I have not heard the present Secretary of State making similar appeals to those who send their children to private schools. She is much more concerned with encouraging the private sector and with maintaining the concept of two nations.

The hon. Members for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) and Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) talked about the importance of village schools. They said how important it was for the small schools to remain in being. I wonder how many supporters of the Conservative Party send their children to village schools. If they find an alternative to a private school, it is usually the newer and bigger primary school.

It is true that Sir David Eccles would not go beyond the age of 11 in his plea for all children to go to the maintained schools. After that he regarded selection by ability as essential. I do not think that he would say that today. However, the right hon. Lady will endeavour by her actions to keep going and even to enlarge the private sector.

Five years ago the Conservative Shadow Minister, Sir Edward Boyle, now Lord Boyle, upset the right-wing of the Conservative Party by saying that if he became Minister of Education he would not withdraw Circular 10/65, calling for comprehensive secondary reorganisation. That was the first thing which the right hon. Lady did—and she did it without consulting education authorities or the teachers. But the right wing of the Conservative Party is no longer worried; it has its voice right there in the Cabinet.

A few weeks ago, the Secretary of State opened a new house at Bloxham School. She is reported in The Times Educational Supplement of 5th November as saying: When I go to my son's school I go wondering how in the world I am going to find enough fees for him to carry on there. Our hearts bleed for her. I am wondering how we can help. Perhaps we can ask the 970,000 unemployed, or the housewives paying more for school meals, to have a whip round.

I appreciate the predicament of parents who think that the maintained schools are not good enough and that the classes are too big, which is their main objection. One answer is to improve them—not only the buildings but the teaching ratio. But the real answer is to do what Sir David Eccles suggested—send children to the maintained schools. When all children go to them, they will be improved because the parents of the better-off children ensure that the demands are met, as they do in places like Cambridge. Parliament could help by abolishing fee-paying in all schools and taking on the financial burden. We did it with the maintained schools in 1944. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) will admit that Scotland still has to do it. One new penny on income tax would pay for it, and it would be worth it. Unless we are prepared to do this, we shall continue to have two nations, not one. Indeed, we could almost call them two worlds.

Some of the private schools may be able to claim that their standards are higher, that their classes are much smaller, and so on. But some of them—and 1,400 schools are not recognised as being efficient by the Department of Education and Science—are nothing but monuments to snobbery.

I wish to say a few words on a matter which seems to have been almost unmentionable in politics since 1944. I have talked about the segregation of children into different schools on the basis of income. Segregation on the basis of ability is rarely defended. There is the other segregation—the voluntary segregation on grounds of religious denomination. It is 27 years since the existing arrangements were approved by Parliament. Are they working? In my constituency there are nine Roman Catholic schools. Some of the Catholic children go to schools outside the constituency. They have problems, such as financial problems connected with building and maintenance. Even though the State contribution has been increased from 50 per cent. in 1944 to 80 per cent. now, the remaining 20 per cent. still needs a lot of finding.

But there are other problems, such as problems of travel. Even in a compact constituency like mine, which is only three miles long and two miles wide, some of the infant children must travel two miles or more. The denominational secondary schools have particular difficulties. They are often small and cannot provide the variety of courses which the neighbouring county schools can provide. The pupils have further to travel. There are sufficient worries about this matter to justify further public discussion and negotiation. I am not asking for legislation; indeed if the school milk Bill is anything to go by, the less legislation we have from the right hon. Lady the better. But the discussions should be wide-ranging and should deal not only with finance but with the other problems of the segregated schools.

At the Conservative Party conference a few weeks ago the representative from North Dorset said: It is a pity that children are segregated in schools because of their religion. This is a matter for both Church and State, and I hope that both will give their earnest consideration. He was talking about Ulster, and he received tremendous applause for what he said. But in 1971 we should ask ourselves, is the 1944 way the right way?

We must look at this whole problem—and by "we" I mean not only the politicians but the clergy, teachers, parents, pupils and all the other people who are interested in it. There have been many changes since 1944—changes in housing patterns and in attitudes inside and outside the Churches. I realise that what I am saying may well be misquoted and that I shall probably be attacked for it, but what I seek to do in reopening this question is to ensure that the children in the present denominational schools are not deprived of the opportunities which other children have.

8.29 p.m.

Mrs. Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

My right hon. Friend deserves both commendation and congratulation on the way she has carried out her duties since becoming Secretary of State. I hope she will forgive me if I concentrate in my few minutes on that part of her programme with which I cannot agree. I cannot because I simply do not understand why it is thought that it is so right to put the school leaving age up at this moment in time. I doubt whether we have either the buildings or the staff to do this at this time, and I feel very strongly that while there is ample encouragement and help to all the boys and girls who want to stay on at school—and I am anxious that there should be opportunity for them—it is absurd to force those who do not want to remain to stay in the classroom.

In talking of them we are not talking about docile children lifting their shiny morning faces for knowledge like flowers to the rain. We are talking of huge lads with shoulders like those of prizefighters, and with long flowing locks on which school caps look very strange indeed, and we are talking about girls who are fully developed and know about life and enjoy going to dances, and, like as not, do some moonlighting as models—and jolly good luck to them, too. My point is that their minds are elsewhere, and, as any teacher will tell us, the most difficult group in the whole school are those who do not want to stay on at school. And who can blame them? Because the lures outside are very great.

There are areas where unemployment exists and where young people leaving school cannot find jobs, and all of us deplore this and are worried about it, but that is not universal by any manner of means, and many young people know that they can go out from school today and get very high pay indeed. If anybody doubts this he has only to look at the advertisements, and see the shops which cater for this age group, for the young are now—and good luck to them—the people with the money. One has only to look at the record shops and clothing shops to see how true this is. This is the golden lure outside the school; this is why the grass is greener on the other side of the scholastic fence.

This is also the age group among which truancy is most prevalent, and it is also the age group in which juvenile crime is most prevalent, too.

If I had been in the House as long as my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) I would warmly have supported the raising of the school leaving age from 13 to 14 and also from 14 to 15, but there comes a time, surely, when one has to stop. The law is going two ways at once. We in Parliament have brought down the age for marriage, for voting, for responsibility for debts, and we have done it because we know very well that young people today mature at a very much earlier age than young people did in previous times, and they are perfectly capable of making up their own minds as to what they want to do.

So why are we so keen to put up the school leaving age? Is it because so many leave school unable to spell or add? That may be it. I do not know. I was for a long time the chairman of a youth employment committee, and frequently I had employers come to me almost in despair at the standard of spelling and the standard of arithmetic amongst the young people. It may be because of that that people want to raise the school leaving age, but nobody has said so tonight, though I could understand it if anybody were to say so.

Is it, perhaps, because some parents will not allow young people to stay on at school when the young people want to do so? I can remember when I was on a local authority and I remember one particular case. It happened only once, and nobody in this House has said that working-class people are less keen about their children getting on than are any other parents about their children getting on. In that particular, single instance I remember that the headmistress and I, as the chairman of the schools committee, went to the parents and explained that they had a very bright girl indeed and that it would be an excellent thing if she were able to stay on at school. The teachers do take great care to put it as strongly as they can to the parents that their child will be deprived if he does not stay on at school.

My right hon. Friend said that raising the school leaving age would be less divisive. I would support it if I believed this, but I believe it is much more likely to be less divisive if we were to extend the age range at the other end and to have the extra year at the lower age of four to five, as some have suggested. It is a much more sensible idea if we are to extend the time that children are at school.

Public opinion on this issue is not so much lukewarm as stone cold. I was recently speaking at a meeting of teachers and I thought that they would disagree with what I was about to say. I said, "I am afraid you are going to disagree with me in what I shall say now" when I said that I thought that the school leaving age should not be raised, but to my astonishment they all cheered and clapped and told me how much they agreed with what I said. It is certainly not the case that teachers are unanimously anxious that children should say on at school to the age of 16.

If we have so much money to spend—£125 million for school buildings and for these purposes up to 1972–73 has already been granted—and it is a lot of money for a first instalment—I feel very strongly that there are many other things I would prefer to do with that money. There are imaginative things we could do for deaf children, for autistic children, for the mentally handicapped children, for play groups in bad areas, and immigrant children. I would much rather see more money being spent on them, and if we are to have this extra year's schooling I would far rather that it should be at the other end of the age range.

I came into this Chamber ready and eager to be convinced on this point. I listened keenly to my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis). He touched on the subject, and I thought that at last I was going to have enlightenment as to why it is such a good thing to put up the school leaving age, but, in fact, nobody has yet told me why it is such a good thing, and nobody has yet answered the points I have made.

However, I cannot support the Motion.

8.37 p.m.

Mr. David Clark (Colne Valley)

I must apologise to the hon. Lady the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) if I do not comment on her speech. I am sure that the Secretary of State, when summing up, will cover the point of disagreement between the hon. Member and the Government.

There have not been many plaudits today for the Government but I am ready to give them some and to congratulate them on the decision to raise the school leaving age. I say simply, cavemen did not need education; they did not go to school. Fortunately, society has changed, and today I think we need an extra year at school.

What has come out of this debate is the different understanding of each side of the House of what we mean by education. Hon. Members will go into the Lobbies tonight convinced in their own minds that the policies of the Government have not been divisive, but this will be because they have failed to understand what the State education system is all about.

In trying to sum up the difference between the reactionary Conservative philosophy and the Socialist philosophy of education, I came across a sentence in the speech of the Secretary of State when she was addressing the National Association of Head Teachers on 25th May last year. She began by talking about the relief of poverty and went on to talk about the relief of ignorance. That was the introduction to her speech on education. This is the fundamental difference between this side of the House and certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, who see education as a means of giving children the rudiments of training so that they can be turned out to do a useful job in society, to be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water. That is the fundamental difference between the two sides.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Fry) accused us of being envious. He said words to the effect that if people had not spent their money on "baccy and beer" their children could have gone to public school. Let me nail this point. A working man who never drank a drop or smoked a cigarette could never afford the fees to send his children to Eton or other private schools. This is not a matter of choice, and it is false to pretend it is.

In the General Election of 1970 I was pleased to point out that the Labour Government had increased spending on education so that, for the first time, we were spending more on education than on defence. But when I look at the figures for this year I find, unfortunately, that education has slipped back to second place. This means that our society has slipped back as well.

The right hon. Lady has introduced class politics into education. I am not alone in holding this view; a great many people in this country hold it. The deci- sion to give £2 million to direct grant schools and to save £9 million on school milk is seen as a class measure. It is a proven fact that the majority of children going to direct schools are from the middle classes. The children who benefit most from free school milk are the children in the poorer districts. Whilst there may be some protection under the medical provisions for these children I am afraid that this is not carried out in the way it should be. This can be said of meals and many other things.

I turn my attention briefly to student unions and higher education. I have felt this afternoon that certain hon. Gentlemen opposite have not understood what students' unions do. It was said that instead of spending money on a pop group the student union should spend it on books for the library. In my experience very few students' unions have libraries. The student unions at the red brick universities and the colleges of higher education do not provide the same facilities that are provided by the two ancient university student unions at Oxford and Cambridge. One has to understand this before one can understand the anger of the students to the proposals continued in the consultative document.

Many students at red brick universities live as much as 13 or 14 miles away from the university. The only experience they get of a full university life is through the auspices of the student union. When I was connected with a student union at a large university, we had a building which we ran ourselves. We had a turnover of £250,000, there were many facilities, we employed more than 100 staff, and we did all this efficiently and well. When it came to spending money we had to be very careful. The general meeting which we had to hold if we were proposing to spend large sums of money was rigorous in examining how that money was to be spent.

The right hon. Lady's main proposal that the financial responsibility for the students' union should rest with the educational body to which it is attached is terribly dangerous. It is inevitable that it will set up the students against the university authorities. The rôle of a university is changing in many ways. A university is supposed to be a body of scholars, of teachers and students. Once there is a divisive arrangement such as is proposed by the Secretary of State the situation will become dangerous, militancy will increase and there will be an increase in the splinter groups, Maoists and all the rest. I warn the Secretary of State on this point.

When the student unions are independent they often provide a service which the university does not. We often hear from the Conservatives the golden word "competition". The Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food uses it in almost every sentence he speaks. There are times when competition is useful. I remember there were a great many married students at Manchester University who wanted to form a kindergarten. The university said "No", that it was not the universities job to provide facilities for students to leave their children. But the student union said "Very well, if you do not want to do it, we will." And they did it out of their own funds. They provided a very useful service, which probably allowed some students to obtain a degree. If the university had controlled the purse strings this useful experiment would not have been possible.

I ask the right hon. Lady to think again about the student unions. I feel that some of the advice she has had, although given earnestly and honestly, is based on past experience. With all deference, I suggest that her advisers may not have had recent experience of student unions, apart from Oxford and Cambridge.

To go a stage further, this raises the whole problem of higher education within the universities. I taught for five years in a university and we were regarded in some ways almost as sacrosanct. There were committees of investigation into teacher training and adult education, there was the Robbins Report, and now we are to have the Russell Report on adult education. It is about time somebody took a close look at the workings of the universities because there are not only disparities in higher education involving colleges of education, polytechnics and universities, but also within the universities.

We are reaching the stage when the State should look carefully at the functioning of some of our more ancient universities, including some of our older redbrick universities. I feel they are running courses which they cannot justify and are not using facilities which could well be used at some of our newer universities. The conditions for members of staff at some of the newer technological universities are almost as bad as the conditions for Members of Parliament.

I end as I began. The Government have produced a divisive education policy. I believe it is wrong to give £2 million, not to improve the conditions in direct grant schools but to relieve their fees. I regard many of the direct grant schools as a waste of resources. Many large cities still buy places at direct grant schools though they have empty places at their own high schools which they still have to pay for. I shall support the Motion.

8.49 p.m.

Mr. David Lane (Cambridge)

The Opposition Motion is ill-founded and I hope the House will reject it. In the short time left I shall mainly deal with the subject of higher education, but I should like to make one point about secondary reorganisation in view of the many wild things which have been said on this matter today by the Opposition.

The plain fact is that the movement towards comprehensive education is continuing but not at the forced pace favoured by the Labour Government. In Cambridge and the surrounding area an acceptable reorganisation scheme seems to be in sight now, despite genuine difficulties in working it out. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able very soon to reintroduce an improvement element in the secondary school building programme.

Turning to higher education, just as the arguments of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to schools have been refuted by the facts, so too have their arguments in this connection. I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement about the next recurrent grants for the universities. In the polytechnics, what we are doing is levelling up, which is exactly what the Opposition's Motion implies that we should do.

In their general plans for higher education, the Government's approach is right in waiting for the James Report and at the same time waiting for ideas to come up from the University Grants Committee, rather than trying to impose any premature changes from Whitehall. I hope that the Government will keep up a strong momentum of expansion in higher education, though I believe that it should be rather less rapid in the university sector than it has been during recent years.

In the expansion, student unions clearly have an important part to play. I appeal to the Government and to students not to make heavy weather of the student union issue. Especially at a time when the general atmosphere in the universities and elsewhere is quieter, and there is more mutual confidence, it would be unfortunate to inject an unnecessary distraction when very important questions about higher education have to be discussed and decisions made upon them. Just as we have to keep a sense of proportion over the whole university scene, so we should over the problem of student unions. The majority of them do excellent work, and we should not exaggerate the defects. At the same time, I believe that the students would be foolish to pitch their claims too high or over-react to the Government's document. I hope that the proposal for a one-day strike is not pursued. That is not the way to impress public opinion. This is a consultative document. As my hon. Friend said during Questions, the Government have open minds on it. There is no question of hamstringing student unions. However, students ought to acknowledge that the public has the right to reassurances.

In view of the shortage of time, perhaps I might summarise my thoughts in seven shorthand points. The first is that the general atmosphere in our British universities has been better than in those of any other major Western country since the war. Let us keep it so.

Second, in the mainstream of their activities—cultural, social, recreational, and so on—the student unions have made a big contribution to the quality of life in our universities and colleges, and nothing should be done to undermine it.

Third, we know nevertheless that there have been a few abuses, and there is sufficient public concern to call for improvements in the present system. The students will make a mistake if they oppose change root and branch.

Fourth, the present structure of student unions is untidy, just as the whole present structure of higher education is untidy.

Fifth, the wisest reform may be to build in strengthening elements to the present structure, rather than trying to rebuild the structure totally.

Sixth, the Government's proposals in the consultative document are both thorough and ingenious. However, I suspect on first reading that they may not prevent all abuses or remedy all the defects. There may be a risk of creating other defects, especially of generating new tensions between the academic authorities and the students.

Seventh, the initial student response to the document has been exaggerated. The students should not claim a privileged position but should be willing to accept a greater measure of public accountability.

I suggest that we should look for a solution which is rather less radical than that proposed in the consultative document. Before we change the system of financing, could not we more simply strengthen the elements of scrutiny and safeguard? I should like the Government to look more closely at the alternative course 1 in the document, though I do not advocate a registrar in precisely those terms.

I commend for study a two-fold and simultaneous programme of action which the Government might undertake.

First, let them call for a review of the constitutions of all unions, to be done as a joint exercise between the academic authorities and the students. There is every reason, given public concern, why the Government should suggest general principles which might be followed by student unions in future, in the light of experience since the war, and, indeed, should give any guidance which they thought lit—several hon. Members have mentioned this today—about a reasonable level of subscriptions in the different institutions.

Secondly, the Government might create a new post concerned with student unions. The University of Cambridge, as everyone knows and the document recognises, is untypical in this respect, but I believe that there is a habit at Cambridge which could be exported into the national scene because it has worked well in Cambridge. I refer to the appointment of a senior treasurer in many student societies, a respected senior figure who takes a general interest in the affairs of the societies and to whom appeals can be made. Could we not consider having an individual doing the same kind of thing on the national level? We might call him the Treasurer for Student Unions—I am not suggesting that funds should necessarily be channelled through him, but that that could be his title—who would be a senior official in the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. He would not need elaborate powers. He would be a distinguished and experienced civil servant. He would have the constitutions and the accounts of all student unions submitted to him year by year, or more often when necessary. He would act, too, as a readily available court of appeal to whom anybody aggrieved—possibly a local authority, individual students, or others—could at once have access for an investigation to be made without the delay and expense involved in going to the courts. Last, but not least important, he could produce an annual report on student unions. I believe that more publicity of what is done by the unions—how they spend their money and operate their organisations—could only be beneficial, because the best practices would be more widely known and everybody would have a clearer understanding of what goes on.

These two steps taken together would set in motion an up-to-date overhaul of constitutions, which would reassure people, and at the same time give this extra new element of national scrutiny over the whole sphere.

I have not thought this idea through in full detail. There may be snags in it which others will see. However, I hope that the Government will seriously consider a modest reform on these lines which could, if we liked, be a trial for several years. If it was found wanting, we could then consider taking more radical steps.

The important point in the next few weeks and months is for all concerned to enter into discussions with open minds, as the Government have assured us they are doing. Given tact and good will on all sides, I am sure that we can develop a solution which will fully maintain the student unions as a vigorous feature of the higher education scene, with students thoroughly involved in their running, and at the same time will provide an extra degree of accountability to which the public are entitled.

8.59 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

We have had a quiet debate after a rather stormy start. I do not know what got under the right hon. Lady's skin, but she will need to discipline herself a bit. I had more than a feeling that she was not so much replying to a speech which had been made today as to a speech which had been made a fortnight before. If the Government cannot so organise their debates to put someone up at the end of them to reply to questions, they must accept that they will lose out on the debates.

I sincerely hope that tonight the Secretary of State for Scotland will not consider that his task is to speak purely about the building programme in Scotland, the problems of the school leaving age, and all the other matters which affect us, but that he will address himself to the many detailed points in the informative speeches which have been made, some of which have been very surprising in the attitudes which have been taken.

I have a certain measure of sympathy for the right hon. Lady. Some time ago she gave an interview to The Guardian, in which she rather bemoaned the fact that she was misunderstood. She said that people got the wrong impression of her.

Mrs. Thatcher

indicated dissent.

Mr. Ross

Those were the right hon. Lady's words. I have the report here, and I could read it if necessary. I do not think that the right hon. Lady is entitled to say that people get the wrong impression of her. They form an opinion of her from what she says and does, and she will have to accept that. I do not think that any Minister of Education has been better known, or less liked, than the right hon. Lady.

The right hon. Lady's unpopularity stems from her actions over various matters, and today we heard valid criticisms from my hon. Friends the Members for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong), Colne Valley (Mr. David Clark), and others, of the right hon. Lady's attitude to ordinary schools, and particularly her action over school meals and milk. The right hon. Lady will have to live with that.

I remember the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when we debated his statement of 27th October, talking about the sacrifices which Ministers had to make. He said that every Minister had to sacrifice his pet schemes. I said then that what the Secretary of State for Scotland had sacrificed was Scotland itself. The right hon. Lady's unpopularity stems from the fact that she willingly made cuts in school meals and milk, and from her lack of action in replacing secondary schools in England. I do not know where the right hon. Lady will find a friend to support her action over school milk. It is no good her saying that she made that cut in order to provide more primary schools.

I have here a copy of the Glasgow Herald, which I have already shown to the House today in another context. I am sorry to remind the Secretary of State for Scotland of his past misfortunes, but the day after the Chancellor made his statement this newspaper said: Chancellor wields the axe. Cuts in welfare services—and 6d off income tax. That was a condition for reducing income tax and one has only to see how the P.R.O.s fed this to the Press. They said that the cuts in school meals would save so much per year, but when it came to what the Government were going to do it was found that they were to spend £25 million extra over three or four years. They minimised the damage they were doing, but maximised the benefits to be provided by the extra money.

Perhaps the Secretary of State for Scotland will give me some figures for England and Wales. Why should I be parochial? The benefits to be provided in the form of primary school replacements and modernisations have to start in 1972–73. The right hon. Lady spoke as though she had done something about these 6,000 primary schools. The fact is that she has done nothing. The programme extends over four years, and I am prepared to wait and see what happens. I shall be the first to congratulate the right hon. Lady if she succeeds.

But if nothing is done about secondary schools, which in the opinion of the local authorities have, within their needs, priority, then of course she will be blamed for that. It is all very well saying, "I will concentrate on the tiny tots", but the tiny tots do not stay tiny tots for ever. What matters most to them in regard to their future is what happens after that—what kind of secondary school they go to and whether there will be places for them in higher education.

The right hon. Lady rode away on some remarks about distortion and did not answer the main points, but the outstanding feature of her speech was that it contained no detectable philosophy of sincere belief in progress in education and in the need to change the educational structure. When we get suspicious of her over the secondary replacement programme, she must appreciate that to the extent that she denies replacement and expansion of a particular secondary school she holds up reorganisation in that area.

So the right hon. Lady is achieving part of the unstated philosophy of the Tory Party in this—she does not like secondary reorganisation and the development of comprehensive schools. To that extent, my hon. Friend who said that she was a relic from a bygone age is quite right. The Tory Party are clinging like limpets to an educational past. It might have been relevant in mid-Victorian and Edwardian days, but it is not relevant to the needs and aspirations of people today. She is way behind the people, in the same way as the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Last year, we spent nearly a whole year returning to Glasgow and Edinburgh the discretion to apply fees in local authority schools—not private or grant-aided schools, but local authority schools—which was abolished in England in 1944. This handful of schools [Interruption.] I will come to the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) in a moment. He said that he was going to be brief. He was not quite so brief; if one is going to be controversial one is likely to spread oneself a little.

We spent that year on that Measure. But we sorted it out. In Glasgow, a Labour council was returned, so it did not work there. They have just been discussing it in Edinburgh. The beacons have not been burning all over Scotland about this. Such was the enthusiasm for the return of fee-paying in Edinburgh that it was carried on Edinburgh council by one vote, with two Conservatives voting with the Labour side. Yet this House and Scottish Members slaved for nearly a year on it. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is proud of himself.

I will come back to the Edinburgh position, because I want to disprove some of the things which the hon. Member for Stratford-upon-Avon said. I was rather sorry, because he and I have been seeing eye to eye on one or two things lately. I hope that he will listen to me and be persuaded in this matter.

I am sorry that the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) has left us. She made a delightfully reactionary speech. Mind you, we did not expect anything else from her. She was predictable. She has been waiting until today, her ears and eyes tight shut, to be persuaded about the desirability of raising the school leaving age. I will leave that to the Secretary of State for Scotland, but he will need to improve on his past efforts if he is to persuade even his hon. Friend.

I hope that the hon. Lady heard the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis), who was congratulating his right hon. Friend because the buildings and teachers were there. Did the Secretary of State do it? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite should know better. It was the Labour Government who did it, and I had the advantage of being Secretary of State for six years.

I recall the state in which we found the teaching profession when we took office in 1964. It was that crowd on the benches opposite who decided to raise the school leaving age, but from Scotland's point of view they had made no preparations either in buildings or teachers. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not answer for the Secretary of State for Scotland. He is capable of answering for himself.

We had the Wheatley Report, which drew attention to the grave difficulties in the teaching profession. It pointed to the fact that the Tories had done nothing about them. We had a serious position in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and elsewhere in relation to the number of unqualified teachers in part-time education in schools in Scotland. There was the Roberts Commission. All led to the conclusion that the teaching profession was in a sorry plight because the Tories had done nothing.

They left us to tackle the problem, get the teachers trained and start building, not just new schools for raising the school leaving age but for the reorganisation on comprehensive lines. I am glad to say that there appears not to have been any interference, direct or surreptitiously, by the Secretary of State for Scotland in that direction. This is not a matter for controvery in Scotland, outside of delinquent Edinburgh.

In his anxiety to show how virtuous he is, on someone else's efforts, the Secretary of State has been rather euphoric. He should let the teachers know that he recognises that there are areas where there will be difficulties in relation to buildings and teachers as a result of this step. Only when he faces up to these problems and takes the necessary steps to overcome them will he make progress and achieve an understanding with the teaching profession. One of the weaknesses of the right hon. Gentleman is that he does not seem to understand this.

Coming to the right hon Lady, there are 6,000 primary schools yet to be built and there is more to worry about over the state of education in England and Scotland than she pretends. Her activities have not exactly endeared her to educationists anywhere in England.

It is no good the right hon. Lady trying to ride off our criticisms by the use of the word "distortion." She did not even begin to reply to what was said about the youth service. I am the National President of the Boys' Brigade, a distinction I share with Cliff Richard. I know exactly how valuable are the boys' clubs, scouts and so on and I hope that the right hon. Lady will change her attitude towards them. She should not allow these activities to die.

The amount of work that is done by the voluntary services in this connection is tremendous. Those who undertake this work face great difficulties, so much so that they merit the fullest support from the right hon. Lady as well as the Secretary of State for Scotland in what they are trying to achieve. They are not getting that assistance and that was implicit in the letter from Lord Alport from the Association of Boys Clubs. I hope that we shall get a more responsible answer from the right hon. Gentleman.

The Government set up a Committee and get a report. They ask for views, and all the rest of it, but before they even have time to consider those views they publish their own findings. We get that sort of thing in Scotland. We had a visit yesterday from representatives of the Educational Institute of Scotland. One of the things they were worried about was some change that is to take place in the organisation of the inspectorate in Scotland. Like dutiful Scots, they were concerned about it, and wrote to the Scottish Office.

They got a reply from the Scottish Education Department saying: … no decisions on any such changes have been made and if and when they are made I have no doubt that they will be discussed with the staff concerned here and that the education authorities and the teacher associations will be informed in good time in the ordinary way. That is consultation. That is discussion with responsible bodies. It was to that sort of thing that my right hon. Friend referred on 5th November when he spoke about the treatment of associations, trade unions and the rest. We have had no reply, no apology for the way in which the Department behaved. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman is not adopting some sort of Thatcher authoritarian style at the Scottish Office.

I will not say much on the subject of school meals and school milk, but I am staggered. Scotland was the land that produced Lord Boyd-Orr, who left no doubt of what he felt about the traditional value of milk, particularly for young children. Scotland produced another underrated Scotsman—a man called Walter Elliot. He was Minister of Health and introduced the milk-in-schools scheme. I can remember it. I started my teaching in the Gorbals district of Glasgow. The right hon. Lady says that putting on charges is not divisive. Does she appreciate that even in those days children would not stand up and declare the poverty of their parents, who could not afford the halfpenny, as it then was, for one-third of a pint of milk?

Does the right hon. Lady appreciate the damage she is doing in country districts, where everyone knows everyone else? Included in the correspondence from the E.I.S. is a memorandum from, I think, the Director of Education of Sutherland-shire drawing attention to this very point—that children who might well be entitled to free school meals were not applying because they did not want to proclaim the finances of their families, not to the education authority but to the rest of the school. I know that we are always in the difficulty of not being able to make this provision without identification, but the position has become worse.

It is no great credit to the Government to say that so many more are getting free school meals. We were told that as a result of the wielding of the axe, denying to children their school meals, we should get a great surge forward. I have a cutting here: A new impetus for Scotland, Campbell says. I will tell him about this once a week at least. Since he said that, unemployment in Scotland has gone up by 45,000, and I reckon that as a result probably 20,000 more families are entitled to free meals. They do not get free milk, of course, because there is no hardship provision in that respect—that is one of the saddest and most disappointing things of all. Will the right hon. Lady think again about giving guidance? I know that she gave a "smart Alec" reply to one of my hon. Friends in a letter saying that medical officers did not require to wait until there was evidence of malnutrition but could provide milk as a preventive measure. Why does she not write that to the local authorities throughout England and Wales? Her right hon. Friend can do it for Scotland.

Mr. Buchan

Why not?

Mr. Ross

There is far too much at stake in this. It was Winston Churchill who said that one of the finest investments was to pour milk into the bellies of children.

Mr. John E. B. Hill


Mr. Ross

Why does the right hon. Lady not give that guidance? Is she afraid that this little additional expenditure will break this country's back? I hope that she will think again.

I turn to the question of higher education. First, on student unions, we have had very good speeches from my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) and my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley and from the hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls), whose speech was very balanced. The hon. Member for Chertsey overlooked or miscalculated the disadvantage it will be if we hand over to the governing bodies responsibility for deciding about what finance should be allocated to the student unions.

The right hon. Lady has a difficulty. That is why she cut off school meals and milk. Will she place the governors of the institutions in the position of having to make these very difficult decisions, creating difficulties between them and the students when, as has been said, things are so much quieter? We are getting the backlash from about two years ago in this unreasonable and senseless suggestion. The right hon. Lady will destroy the whole spirit of student unions. I am indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) for some figures he gave about the position of those unions outside Oxford and Cambridge. In a great many of them, 50 per cent. of the students are part timers. The result is that they will be unable to maintain the diversity of the societies on the basis of voluntary subscriptions, and there will be a loss in the enrichment of the universities.

In reply to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Kenneth Clarke), I do not want to see regional universities. The right hon. Lady had better face the responsibility of what residential accommodation will cost. I am grateful for the figures she gave but, as she knows, they are only provisional; she has to bring them up to date. She did not give an indication of the one big figure that matters—the capital grant. I am afraid that the right hon. Lady and her colleagues will be listening to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe, and to the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton), who started to question the whole value of university education. It is not right for people who have had the advantage of such an education to start denying it to others.

The aspirations of the British people, as we have led them to believe, are that children should stay on at school. We have told them that early school leaving has been a waste of talent, every bit of which Britain needs, and that if they attain their qualificaions, the further education will be there. It is a sad thing to read in the Scottish Educational Journal, as I did this week, some remarks by the Principal-designate of Jordanhill College, Dr. T. R. Bone, who said that the primary scene was affected by the supply of teachers and also by the development of higher education; and that it seemed likely that several interacting factors would mean a cutback in recruitment, perhaps by about 800 students next year. We already have over 300 people refused entry this year. Dr. Bone says: But this is not just a matter of supplying teachers; it is a matter of higher education, and any cutback of this kind will inevitably cause large numbers of young men and women grave disappointment, since they will have secured the qualification that they have been led to believe will entitle them to higher education and then will be refused it. This is one of the most serious decisions facing Britain today, and is far bigger than the question of the supply of teachers. It is a question about the kind of society we are going to have in this country. We have created the expectation that everyone who showed that he or she had the ability to profit by a higher education would get it. Are we now going to say that they will not, bcause the country cannot afford it? That is what the hon. Member for Rushcliffe was saying—that we cannot afford it.

We must appreciate another thing. We on this side are concerned about the 970,000 unemployed. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Peterborough (Sir Harmar Nicholls) should listen even for the short time that he is here. Scotland has a new level of unemployment at 141,000. I do not think that we shall return to the levels of unemployed that obtained three or four years ago. New high norms are being set.

We must consider the effect that this will have upon society generally unless we face the fact that we must have more education. If it is true that children who leave school at 15 cannot spell, that is an argument for more education, not for less education. We shall need to think in terms of more education, earlier retirement and more leisure. This goes back to the question of our ability to support it, and that depends upon educated manpower. It will not be done in grant-aided schools to the detriment of State schools.

Mr. Maude


Mr. Ross

I will not give way. I want to finish in about four minutes. The last time I spoke I wearied the House with a speech lasting 53 minutes. We cannot have that tonight.

So we must be able to afford more education. We must look at the whole structure of education and our whole philosophy of education in relation to the kind of society we want to achieve.

We shall never get that from the kind of educational system which is in the minds of the right hon. Lady and of the hon. Members for Rushcliffe and for Birmingham, Edgbaston, which is riddled with Victorian-Edwardian class divisions, with independent schools, grant-aided schools, in Edinburgh fee-paying schools, and local authority schools.

The instincts in Britain have been right to reorganise education along comprehensive lines. If the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon will go to Edinburgh he will discover that 60 per cent. of all pupils in the fifth year of secondary schools in Edinburgh are in fee-paying, grant-aided or independent schools. I ask hon. Members to think of the effect that has upon Edinburgh's ability to provide the kind of education that it wants, which is the kind of education that the rest of Scotland has and which the hon. Gentleman's constituency has. It all makes a nonsense of modern education.

I wish that I had time to go over the Report of the Public Schools Commission in relation to grant-aided schools. One big advantage of the overhaul which is going on in the Palace of Westminster is that books are lying along the corridor. An hon. Member who has five minutes to spare can pick up a book. I picked up a book. I found a Private Bill in 1964 relating to George Heriot's Trust. I saw repeated in the preamble part of George Heriot's will in which he left the residue of his estate for the maintinance, releif, bringing up and educatiowne of puire, faitherless bairnes"— poor, fatherless children.

That is the origin of most of the snob schools of Edinburgh. They served their purpose, and they did quite a lot in the setting of secondary standards, but their whole history has been one of change. They have to change now to meet the needs of Scotland and of Britain.

One of the troubles with hon. Members opposite is that they cling to the past in education, as in so many other things. They refuse to face the future, and this privilege of theirs has been erected into a philosophy. The only thing I am happy to see is that they have now come to the point at which they are afraid to proclaim it. But it is there, and, while it is there, they merit every word of our Motion with reference to wasted resources, to dividing the nation, and to failing the country's educational demands.

9.31 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)

The debate has produced some good and interesting speeches on a wide range of educational topics, but the reason for the debate coming within two weeks of the previous debate on education, and the reason for the intemperate terms of the Motion, became evident in the opening speech of the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short). Clearly, the reason was his petulance at the realisation that my right hon. Friend is successfully carrying out her programme—[Interruption.]—including a massive primary school building programme and the raising of the school leaving age, which his Government postponed during one of their economic crises.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Campbell

No. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central resorted to the most petty trivialities about my right hon. Friend, which, as later became clear, had nothing to do with the subjects under debate. We were treated to accounts of alleged happenings at a tennis club, all of which later proved to be entirely irrelevant. Although the right hon. Gentleman gave us some entertainment in regaling us with those matters, he was in that part of his speech simply wasting our time.

There have been references to the direct grant schools in England and Wales. I regret that I heard some political prejudice expressed against schools which are academically outstanding and open to a wide range of parental income. In our Scottish Conservative Party Manifesto, we said that we would encourage the grant-aided schools, the equivalent of the direct grant schools in England. They are a valuable element in parental choice and include some of the most distinguished schools in Scotland.

It is not socially divisive to give grant to such schools. On the contrary, it enables them to draw their pupils from a wider social range than would otherwise be possible. Revision of the grant arrangements in Scotland for the grant-aided schools has proceeded independently of the arrangements for the equivalent direct grant schools in England and Wales. The amending regulations, which were passed this year, enabled me to increase the grant from the school's fianancial year 1971–72 onwards to take account of rises in the level of costs since October, 1969, when the grant was frozen by the Labour Government. These new Regulations allow us to continue to take account of increases in the level of costs affecting the maintenance of the schools.

When the amending Regulations were prayed against by the Opposition on 13th July, the House was informed that we had asked the representatives of the schools to let us have their views on the arrangements for central Government grant for these schools in the long term. We shall consider the recommendations from the schools themselves when we receive them.

I now come to the local authority fee-paying schools, which have just been mentioned by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who seems to have a vendetta against the City of Edinburgh. The local authorities have regained the discretion to decide whether to have fee-paying schools. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) has more than once accused us of encouraging the two city corporations mainly concerned to flout the law after his Government had passed an Act. That is a travesty of what happened. He is entirely wrong. In opposition we stated something quite different, that when we returned to office we should change the law. Soon after returning to power, we did so, thus carrying out a promise in our Scottish manifesto.

Mr. Buchan

Whether or not the Secretary of State denies his rôle in relation to Edinburgh Education Committee, which many people believe to be true, the right hon. Gentleman was given many opportunities over the past year to repudiate the action taken by Edinburgh in flouting the will of Parliament, and he refused to do so.

Second, having given freedom, as he said, to authorities to bring in fee paying, he cannot now do the opposite in regard to milk. If he were consistent, he would allow them to give milk.

Mr. Campbell

I repudiate entirely the hon. Gentleman's first point. Neither I nor my hon. Friends encouraged the Corporation in any way to flout the law. I understood that it took its own legal advice on anything it chose to do. I shall come to the second point later.

A number of speakers have raised the question of student unions and the Consultative Document circulated recently by my right hon. Friend about the financing of such unions. I must point out that the document is consultative. The Government have drawn attention to some features of the present system which have given rise to disquiet. We hope that these matters will now be the subject of rational discussion.

The Consultative Document circulated by my right hon. Friend does not quite fit or cover the Scottish situation. For that reason I shall be circulating a parallel document in a few days' time which will set out broadly the same proposals. It will take into account the fact that in Scotland students' allowances are paid by the Scottish Education Department and not by local education authorities.

Everything that has been said by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides today on the subject of student unions will be considered and taken into account by my right hon. Friend and myself, because this is the stage of consultation. I was particularly interested in some of the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls) and the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh).

Mr. Ross

Was the right hon. Gentleman consulted by his right hon. Friend before she published her document? It will be very difficult to believe that the right hon. Gentleman is expressing an independent point of view in these circumstances.

Mr. Campbell

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I shall be keeping in consultation on these matters, but the differences are small. There are differences in Scotland, and I shall be dealing with them.

I come to the question of nursery schools. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) in particular spoke with feeling of the need to expand the provision of nursery schools, and she blamed a Circular of 1960 for low priority being given to that sector. But her Government did precious little and did not withdraw the Circular. We sympathise with the hon. Lady's failure when in office to persuade her own Government to cancel the Circular.

My right hon. Friend dealt in her speech with nursery education in England and Wales. A report, "Before Five", was recently produced by the Working Party on Nursery Education and was published by the Scottish Education Department on 5th November. Copies have been sent out by my Department to education authorities, with a covering Circular which commends the report to all interested bodies and individuals. It explains what steps the Government have been able to take.

This year approval has been given under the urban programme to the provision of about 900 places in nursery schools and classes in Scotland. Since many children attend on a part-time basis, these places, when they are all completed, will enable about 1,350 more children to attend nursery schools and classes.

There has been a significant increase in the number of children attending nursery schools and classes in Scotland. Figures were given in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) on 23rd June when the then Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education announced that in January, 1971, there were nearly 13,000 pupils receiving nursery education in education authority and grant-aided schools—an increase of 17.8 per cent. over the figure for January, 1970. In addition, there were over 2,000 four-year-old children attending education authority and grant-aided primary schools in January, 1971.

The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central said that too many children were leaving school before 16½, especially in what he described as the working class areas. It would be difficult for even the most ingenious or devious member of the Labour Party to describe the raising of the school leaving age as a socially divisive measure. We are to carry this out next year.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has explained the position for England and Wales. My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) referred to the fact that the teachers' organisations, particularly some in Scotland, although in favour in principle of raising the school leaving age, have been apprehensive lest the shortage of teachers should lead to serious difficulty and dislocation in the schools. Those fears, though understandable, can be allayed in Scotland. A special count of teachers was taken this September, and it shows that there were 1,300 more teachers in the secondary schools in Scotland than there were last January.

While it is not possible to make a direct comparison with last year because no count was taken last September, the indications are that the increase in teachers between last session and this will considerably exceed the forecast in the Scottish Education Department's Annual Report "Education in Scotland, 1970".

The preliminary returns from the colleges of education show that the number of graduates and specialist diploma holders who entered a one-session course of training last month was 700 greater than the number who entered the colleges in October, 1970. They will be available for service from the start of session 1972–73. The 700 extra recruits are especially welcome at this stage. It seems certain that next year's increase in the number of secondary school teachers in Scotland will be much more than double the published forecast.

We do not regard these as fortuitous figures unlikely to be repeated. In the five years from the session 1967–68 to 1971–72 intakes of graduates and specialist diploma holders to secondary training in the colleges almost doubled. This reflects the steadily increasing output of holders of these qualifications by the universities and central institutions, and we see no reason why this trend in teacher recruitment should not continue.

In the light of those figures, we have looked again at the situation up to session 1973–74—the first year in which the full weight of raising the school leaving age will be felt by the schools. Our conclusion is that staffing is likely to be better in session 1972–73 than it is in the present session and that, provided college intake is roughly maintained, the situation in the session 1973–74—that is, in the year when the full impact of raising the school leaving age will be felt—is likely to be about the same as it is now.

My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway drew attention to this encouraging situation and inquired about the figures which have been given for the extra pupils in the first year and in the second year after raising the school-leaving age. As this is a complicated matter, I shall write to him about it.

Mr. James Hamilton (Bothwell)

Although we are very happy to hear about the provision of extra teachers who are urgently required, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will concede that many graduates are now going to training colleges for their year's training because of the redundancies which are taking place in Scotland?

Mr. Campbell

No. I would not.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

He is coming to page 10 of his brief.

Mr. Campbell

Hon. Members have asked questions and I am determined to answer the points which have been raised.

The question was raised about the future of the inspectorate in Scotland. It was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway and mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock. He pointed out that the E.I.S. representatives who had visited this House yesterday had raised this matter in their memorandum, and he read out a reply from the Scottish Education Department. I am glad that our proposals for primary school staffing have been welcomed by the Educational Institute of Scotland.

Scottish Members yesterday met representatives of the Institute, and all Scottish Members, I understand, have seen a copy of the memorandum to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I can assure the House, on the question of the inspectorate, that at present there is no intention of effecting any major changes in the functions, strength and deployment of the inspectors. They will continue to inspect educational establishments of all kinds, and they are engaged in a series of area reports to be issued to the education authorities and to the general public. Their work also includes a close interest in such matters as research, pupil guidance, school organisation, educational technology and curricula development. This work must continue.

The right hon. Gentleman also made reference to the Roberts Report on the distribution of teachers, and he appeared to criticise the previous Conservative Government for failing to act upon it. I would only point out to him that that report was submitted in 1966 when he was Secretary of State for Scotland.

Various speakers have referred to school building, and in the debate on the Motion for an Address in reply to the Queen's Speech the House was given a full account of the school building programme for Scotland. I am sure that there is a general welcome for the prospect of a record amount of new work. At least £83 million worth is being started by Scottish education authorities over the two years 1971–72 and 1972–73

High priority is being given to the improvement and replacement of primary school accommodation. This is not only because primary schooling is the foundation of later educational achievement but also because primary schools are less modern than secondary schools and many of them do require replacement sooner. Improvement and replacement, including provisison of accommodation to enable class sizes to be reducted has, therefore, been made the subject of a separate allocation of resources.

In July I authorised education authorities in Scotland to proceed with primary school improvement programmes totalling £9½ million to be started in the remainder of the current financial year, and 1972–73. This special programme of improvement and replacement of primary schools and the provision of additional accommodation to enable class sizes to be reduced is not a once and for all payment. In 1973–74, £7 million will be earmarked for the purpose.

Mr. Freeson


Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Campbell

A number of hon. Members have raised this question. The hon. Member may not like to hear this but I am going to say it. In a little over four years the total of the investment specifically for primary school improvements in Scotland will exceed £30 million. In addition a considerable amount of primary school improvement work will be started under an additional public works programme within this financial year and next. This special scheme for extra public works includes £4 million in Scotland for secondary school buildings. [Interruption.] A number of speakers, including the right hon. Gentleman, have been critical of the amount of secondary school building.

The estimated amount of work under this scheme comes to over £28 million. It includes about £19 million for primary schools, nearly £4 million for secondary schools and about £½ million each for special schools and nursery schools, about which a number of hon. Members were concerned. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central, curiously, referred to Glasgow. He did not just stick to England and Wales. He suggested that secondary schools were not being built in Glasgow, and mentioned the Gorbals. There are two entirely new secondary schools now under construction in Glasgow and six major extensions, one costing more than £1 million on the edge of the Gorbals.

I come now to the question of school milk which has been raised by several hon. Members. I do not propose to discuss again the arguments for and against the Eduction (Milk) Act. They were all developed at length during the passage of the Bill, and the decision was taken to enact it. We have taken the precaution in the Act of ensuring that any primary pupil who needs milk on health grounds will continue to get it.

Several hon. Members, the hon. Member for Renfrew, West in particular, raised the question of the provision of milk on medical grounds. The Education (Milk) Act arranged that individual primary pupils should receive free milk after reaching the age of seven if their health required it. The certificate of a medical officer of an education authority is required, but a child need not be ill. Milk can be provided on preventive grounds on a medical decision. It is not necessary for all children over seven to be inspected. There is no question of telling the medical profession their job, and I am sure the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) would agree with that.

The previous Government removed free milk from all secondary school children, and made no provision for medical exemption. A child of 12 may well need milk for health reasons while many children of six may not. There is no logic in their argument.

I was sorry to hear in August and September that some local authorities were appearing to disregard the Act or to adopt measures designed to defeat its purpose. My concern was not only that the Act was likely to be disregarded, but that any Act that Parliament had passed, however controversial, should be flouted by those responsible for local government, and that the impression should be created that the law can be disregarded according to sectional views or principles.

This development seemed to be so much at variance with the fundamental principles on which our democracy is based that I felt it necessary to write to the civic heads of all education authorities in Scotland.

Mr. David Clark


Mr. Campbell

I pointed out in my letter the seriousness of such actions, but I did not spell out the consequences or make any threats, as has been alleged. However much one may disagree on the merits of a particular piece of legislation, I am sure that every hon. Member accepts the paramount importance of the rule of law in our society. I am equally sure that this view is held by the overwhelming majority of those engaged in local government—

Mr. Buchan


Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)


Mr. Campbell

It is, therefore, with great regret that I have since been engaged in procedures provided by Statute for dealing with circumstances in which the law is disregarded by an education authority. If a local authority in Scotland exceeds its powers to incur expenditure, the ratepayers are protected by the audit provisions of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1947. If it appears to an auditor that any payment is contrary to law, he is bound to make a report to the Secretary of State. I must then initimate the report to the local authority and the individuals affected by it and, after considering their replies, I have to decide all questions raised by the report, to disallow any illegal payment and to surcharge any person making or authorising the payment.

However, the Act requires me not to make a surcharge if I am satisfied either that any person against whom a surcharge might be made acted reasonably or in the belief that his action was authorised by law or that the act or omission which might have involved such a surcharge took place in such circumstances as to make it fair and equitable that a surcharge should not be made.

I am making clear what the law is because there have been misunderstandings about this. I have to tell the House I have received a report dated 30th September from the appointed auditor that Midlothian County Council had incurred expenditure on the supply of milk which was not authorised by law. I have sought and received comments from all those affected by the report.

After considering the report and the comments on it, I have come to the conclusion that the payments referred to were contrary to law and that 25 members of the council were responsible for these payments being made.

Mr. Buchan

Absolutely disgraceful.

Mr. Campbell

Wait for it. I have today written to those concerned conveying this decision. Before making a surcharge I am required to look at the circumstances in which the illegal payments took place. I have told the councillors that one such circumstance which I shall take into consideration is whether the illegal payments were intended to continue indefinitely, and if the council were to give me an assurance that the payment would now cease I would give favourable consideration to the exercise of my powers to refrain from surcharge. I expect a reply within three weeks, but I cannot comment further until I have received it; and I am sure I shall not be expected to do so.

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)

Before this painful process goes any further, would the Secretary of State consider looking at those county councils such as Renfrewshire—which is more sympathetic to him than to us—to see how they say this whole scheme is impracticable? Before he gets into any more difficulties, would he call on the counties which appear to be in breach of the law and discuss the matter with them?

Mr. Campbell

I have had long discussions with the local authority representative on all these points and a large majority of local authorities are carrying out the law as it should be carried out.

Mr. Ross

Why don't you just resign?

Mr. Campbell

I am dealing with this case which has been reported to me under the Statute of 1947.

Hon. Members have referred to graduate unemployment and indeed the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock referred to this matter. The point is that higher education courses should be as far as possible designed to increase the students' capacity to cope with demands made by a rapidly changing society.

The Opposition's Motion is irrelevant, and ignores the fact that we are making real progress in many ways. We are carrying into effect the raising of the school-leaving age, we are getting schools built and improved, and helping and encouraging schools of different kinds [Interruption]—our total effort in education.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 261.

Division No. 12.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Longden, Gilbert
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Fookes, Miss Janet Loveridge, John
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Fortescue, Tim McAdden, Sir Stephen
Astor, John Foster, Sir John MacArthur, Ian
Atkins, Humphrey Fowler, Norman McCrindle, R. A.
Awdry, Daniel Fox, Marcus McLaren, Martin
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Fry, Peter McMaster, Stanley
Batsford, Brian Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gardner, Edward McNair-Wilson, Michael
Bell, Ronald Gibson-Watt, David McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maddan, Martin
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Glyn, Dr. Alan Madel, David
Benyon, W. Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maginnis, John E.
Berry, Hn. Anthony Goodhart, Philip Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Biffen, John Goodhew, Victor Marten, Neil
Biggs-Davison, John Gorst, John Maude, Angus
Blaker, Peter Gower, Raymond Mather, Carol
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Body, Richard Gray, Hamish Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Boscawen, Robert Green, Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bossom, Sir Clive Grieve, Percy Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Bowden, Andrew Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Miscampbell, Norman
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Grylls, Michael Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)
Braine, Bernard Gummer, Selwyn Moate, Roger
Brewis, John Gurden, Harold Molyneaux, James
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Money, Ernie
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Hall, John (Wycombe) Monks, Mrs. Connie
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Monro, Hector
Bruce-Gardyne, J.
Bryan, Paul Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) More, Jasper
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hannam, John (Exeter) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Bullus, Sir Eric Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Burden, F. A. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Morrison, Charles
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Haselhurst, Alan Mudd, David
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Havers, Michael Murton, Oscar
Carlisle, Mark Hawkins, Paul Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Hay, John Neave, Airey
Cary, Sir Robert Hayhoe, Barney Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Channon, Paul Heseltine, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Chapman, Sydney Higgins, Terence L. Normanton, Tom
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hiley, Joseph Nott, John
Chichester-Clark, R. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Onslow, Cranley
Churchill, W. S. Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Holland, Philip Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Holt, Miss Mary Osborn, John
Clegg, Walter Hornby, Richard Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Cockeram, Eric Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Page, Graham (Crosby)
Cooke, Robert Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Page, John (Harrow. W.)
Coombs, Derek Howell, David (Guildford) Parkinson, Cecil
Cooper, A. E. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Percival Ian
Cordle, John Hunt, John Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Hutchison, Michael Clark Pink, R. Bonner
Cormack, Patrick Iremonger, T. L. Pounder, Rafton
Costain, A. P. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Critchley, Julian James, David Price, David (Eastleigh)
Crouch, David Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Crowder, F. P. Jessel, Toby Proudfoot, Wilfred
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen.James Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Dean, Paul Jopling, Michael Raison, Timothy
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kaberry, Sir Donald
Dixon, Piers Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Redmond, Robert
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kershaw, Anthony Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Drayson, G. B. Kilfedder, James Rees, Peter (Dover)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dykes, Hugh King, Tom (Bridgwater) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Eden, Sir John Kinsey, J. R. Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kirk, Peter Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Knight, Mrs. Jill Ridsdale, Julian
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Knox, David Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Emery, Peter Lambton, Antony Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Farr, John Lane, David Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Fell, Anthony Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Le Marchant, Spencer Rost, Peter
Fidler, Michael Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Royle, Anthony
Russell, Sir Ronald Tapsell, Peter Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
St. John-Stevas, Norman Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wall, Patrick
Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart) Walters, Dennis
Scott, Nicholas Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Ward, Dame Irene
Scott-Hopkins, James Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.) Warren, Kenneth
Sharples, Richard Tebbit, Norman Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shelton, William (Clapham) Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret White, Roger (Gravesend)
Simeons, Charles Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Sinclair, Sir George Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Wiggin, Jerry
Skeet, T. H. H. Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Wilkinson, John
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Tilney, John Winterton, Nicholas
Soref, Harold Trafford, Dr. Anthony Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Spence, John Trew, Peter Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Sproat, Iain Tugendhat, Christopher Woodnutt, Mark
Stainton, Keith Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Worsley, Marcus
Stanbrook, Ivor van Straubenzee, W. R. Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Vickers, Dame Joan TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stokes, John Waddington, David Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Walder, David (Clitheroe) Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Sutcliffe, John Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Abse, Leo Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Albu, Austen Driberg, Tom Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Duffy, A. E. P. John, Brynmor
Allen, Scholefield Dunn, James A. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Eadie, Alex Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Ashley, Jack Edelman, Maurice Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Atkinson, Norman Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Edwards, William (Merioneth) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Barnes, Michael Ellis, Tom Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) English, Michael Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Evans, Fred Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Baxter, William Ewing, Harry Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Faulds, Andrew Judd, Frank
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Kaufman, Gerald
Bidwell, Sydney Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood) Kelley, Richard
Bishop, E. S. Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Kerr, Russell
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lamond, James
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Latham, Arthur
Booth, Albert Foley, Maurice Leadbitter, Ted
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Foot, Michael Leonard, Dick
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Ford, Ben Lestor, Miss Joan
Bradley, Tom Forrester, John Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold
Broughton, Sir Alfred Fraser, John (Norwood) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Freeson, Reginald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Galpern, Sir Myer Lipton, Marcus
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Garrett, W. E. Lomas, Kenneth
Buchan, Norman Gilbert, Dr. John Loughlin, Charles
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Golding, John Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Cant, R. B. Gourlay, Harry Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Carmichael, Neil Grant, George (Morpeth) McBride, Neil
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McCann, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) McElhone, Frank
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McGuire, Michael
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mackenzie, Gregor
Cohen, Stanley Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Mackie, John
Coleman, Donald Hardy, Peter Mackintosh, John P.
Concannon, J. D. Harper, Joseph Maclennan, Robert
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) McNamara, J. Kevin
Crawshaw, Richard Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Cronin, John Hattersley, Roy Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Heffer, Eric S. Marks, Kenneth
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.) Hilton, W. S. Marquand, David
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Hooson, Emlyn Marsden, F.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Horam, John Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, F.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mayhew, Christopher
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Huckfield, Leslie Meacher, Michael
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Deakins, Eric Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mendelson, John
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Mikardo, Ian
Delargy, Hugh Hughes, Roy (Newport) Millan, Bruce
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Hunter, Adam Miller, Dr. M. S.
Dempsey, James Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Milne, Edward
Doig, Peter Janner, Greville Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Dormand, J. D. Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Molloy, William
Douglas, Dick (Stlrlingshlre, E.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rhodes, Geoffrey Swain, Thomas
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Richard, Ivor Taverne, Dick
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Moyle, Roland Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Murray, Ronald King Robertson, John (Paisley) Tinn, James
Oakes, Gordon Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n&R'dnor) Tomney, Frank
Ogden, Eric Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Torney, Tom
O'Halloran, Michael Roper, John Tuck, Raphael
O'Malley, Brian Rose, Paul B. Urwin, T. W.
Orbach, Maurice Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Varley, Eric G.
Orme, Stanley Sandelson, Neville Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Wallace, George
Paget, R. T. Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Watkins, David
Palmer, Arthur Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Weitzman, David
Parker, John (Dagenham) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.) Wellbeloved, James
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Pavitt, Laurie Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Sillars, James Whitehead, Phillip
Pendry, Tom Silverman, Julius Whitlock, William
Pentland, Norman Skinner, Dennis Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Perry, Ernest G. Small, William Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Prescott, John Spriggs, Leslie Wiliams, W. T. (Warrington)
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Stallard, A. W. Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Price, William (Rugby) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Woof, Robert
Probert, Arthur Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Rankin, John Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Strang, Gavin Mr. Ernest Armstrong and
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Mr. William Hamling.

Main Question, as amended, put:

The House divided Ayes 292, Noes 261.

Division No. 13.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Adley, Robert Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Clegg, Walter Goodhart, Philip
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Cockeram, Eric Goodhew, Victor
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Cooke, Robert Gorst, John
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Coombs, Derek Gower, Raymond
Astor, John Cooper, A. E. Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Atkins, Humphrey Cordle, John Gray, Hamish
Awdry, Daniel Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Green, Alan
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Cormack, Patrick Grieve, Percy
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Costain, A. P. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Batsford, Brian Critchley, Julian Grylls, Michael
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Crouch, David Gummer, Selwyn
Bell, Ronald Crowder, F. P. Gurden, Harold
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James Hall, John (Wycombe)
Benyon, W. Dean, Paul Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Berry, Hn. Anthony Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Biffen, John Digby, Simon Wingfield Hannam, John (Exeter)
Biggs-Davison, John Dixon, Piers Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Blaker, Peter Dodds-Parker, Douglas Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Drayson, G. B. Haselhurst, Alan
Body, Richard du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Havers, Michael
Boscawen, Robert Dykes, Hugh Hawkins, Paul
Bossom, Sir Clive Eden, Sir John Hay, John
Bowden, Andrew Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hayhoe, Barney
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Heseltine, Michael
Braine, Bernard Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Higgins, Terence L.
Brewis, John Emery, Peter Hiley, Joseph
Brinton, Sir Tatton Farr, John Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Fell, Anthony Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Holland, Philip
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Fidler, Michael Holt, Miss Mary
Bryan, Paul Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Hornby, Richard
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia
Bullus, Sir Eric Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Burden, F. A. Fookes, Miss Janet Howell, David (Guildford)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fortescue, Tim Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Foster, Sir John Hunt, John
Carlisle, Mark Fowler, Norman Hutchison, Michael Clark
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fox, Marcus Iremonger, T. L.
Cary, Sir Robert Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Channon, Paul Fry, Peter James, David
Chapman, Sydney Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Gardner, Edward Jessel, Toby
Chichester-Clark, R. Gibson-Watt, David Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Churchill, W. S. Gilmour Ian (Norfolk, C.) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Glyn, Dr. Alan Jopling, Michael
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Murton, Oscar Soref, Harold
Kaberry, Sir Donald Nabarro, Sir Gerald Spence, John
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Neave, Airey Sproat, Iain
Kershaw, Anthony Nicholls, Sir Harmer Stainton, Keith
Kilfedder, James Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Kimball, Marcus Normanton, Tom Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Nott, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Kinsey, J. R. Onslow, Cranley Stokes, John
Kirk, Peter Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Knight, Mrs. Jill Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Sutcliffe, John
Knox, David Osborn, John Tapsell, Peter
Lambton, Antony Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Lane, David Page, Graham (Crosby) Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Page, John (Harrow, W.) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Le Marchant, Spencer Parkinson, Cecil Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Percival, Ian Tebbit, Norman
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'dfield) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Pink, R. Bonner Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Longden, Gilbert Pounder, Rafton Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Loveridge, John Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Price, David (Eastleigh) Tilney, John
MacArthur, Ian Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Trafford, Dr. Anthony
McCrindle, R. A. Proudfoot, Wilfred Trew, Peter
McLaren, Martin Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Tugendhat, Christopher
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Quennell, Miss J. M. Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
McMaster, Stanley Raison, Timothy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
McNair-Wilson, Michael Redmond, Robert Vickers, Dame Joan
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Waddington, David
Madden, Martin Rees, Peter (Dover) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Madel, David Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Maginnis, John E. Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wall, Patrick
Marten, Neil Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Walters, Dennis
Mather, Carol Ridsdale, Julian Ward, Dame Irene
Maude, Angus Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Warren, Kenneth
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Rost, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Miscampbell, Norman Royle, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W) Russell, Sir Ronald Winterton, Nicholas
Moate, Roger St. John-Stevas, Norman Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Molyneaux, James Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Money, Ernle Scott, Nicholas Woodnutt, Mark
Monks, Mrs. Connie Scott-Hopkins, James Worsley, Marcus
Monro, Hector Sharples, Richard Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
More, Jasper Shelton, William (Clapham)
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Simeons, Charles TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Sinclair, Sir George Mr. Reginald Eyre and
Morrison, Charles Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Mudd, David Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Abse, Leo Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund
Albu, Austen Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dempsey, James
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Doig, Peter
Allen, Scholefield Cant, R. B. Dormand, J. D.
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Carmichael, Neil Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)
Armstrong, Ernest Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Northfield) Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashley, Jack Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Driberg, Tom
Atkinson, Norman Clark, David (Colne Valley) Duffy, A. E. P.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Dunn, James A.
Barnes, Michael Cohen, Stanley Eadie, Alex
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Coleman, Donald Edelman, Maurice
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Concannon, J. D. Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Baxter, William Corbet, Mrs. Freda Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Ellis, Tom
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Crawshaw, Richard English, Michael
Bidwell, Sydney Cronin, John Evans, Fred
Bishop, E. S. Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Ewing, Harry
Blenkinsop, Arthur Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Faulds, Andrew
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.
Booth, Albert Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Bradley, Tom Davies, Ifor (Gower) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Foley, Maurice
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Foot, Michael
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Deakins, Eric Ford, Ben
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Forrester, John
Buchan, Norman Delargy, Hugh Fraser, John (Norwood)
Freeson, Reginald Lomas, Kenneth Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Galpern, Sir Myer Loughlin, Charles Rhodes, Geoffrey
Garrett, W. E. Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Richard, Ivor
Gilbert, Dr. John Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Golding, John McBride, Neil Robertson, John (Paisley)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. McCann, John Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)
Gourlay, Harry McElhone, Frank Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Grant, George (Morpeth) McGuire, Michael Roper, John
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mackenzie, Gregor Rose, Paul B.
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mackie, John Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mackintosh, John P. Sandelson, Neville
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Maclennan, Robert Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Hardy, Peter McNamara, J. Kevin Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Harper, Joseph Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hatterstey, Roy Marks, Kenneth Sillars, James
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Marquand, David Silverman, Julius
Heffer, Eric S. Marsden, F. Skinner, Dennis
Hilton, W. S. Marshall, Dr. Edmund Small, William
Hooson, Emlyn Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Horam, John Mayhew, Christopher Spearing, Nigel
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Meacher, Michael Spriggs, Leslie
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Stallard, A. W.
Huckfield, Leslie Mendelson, John Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mikardo, Ian Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Millan, Bruce Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Miller, Dr. M. S. Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Milne, Edward Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Hunter, Adam Molloy, William Swain, Thomas
Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Taverne, Dick
Janner, Greville Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Tinn, James
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Moyle, Roland Tomney, Frank
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Murray, Ronald King Torney, Tom
John, Brynmor Oakes, Gordon Tuck, Raphael
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Ogden, Eric Urwin, T. W.
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) O'Halloran, Michael Varley, Eric G.
Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) O'Malley, Brian Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Orbach, Maurice Wallace, George
Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Orme, Stanley Watkins, David
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth Sutton) Weitzman, David
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Paget, R. T. Wellbeloved, James
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Palmer, Arthur Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Parker, John (Dagenham) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Judd, Frank Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Whitehead, Phillip
Kaufman, Gerald Pavitt, Laurie Whitlock, William
Kelley, Richard Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Kerr, Russell Pentland, Norman Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Lamond, James Perry, Ernest Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Latham, Arthur Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Leadbitter, Ted Prescott, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Leonard, Dick Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Woof, Robert
Lestor, Miss Joan Price, William (Rugby)
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Probert, Arthur TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rankin, John Mr. William Hamling and
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Mr. Tom Pendry.
Lipton, Marcus

Resolved, That this House warmly commends Her Majesty's Government for their educational policies at all levels, in that they are enlarging educational opportunity by providing additional resources to bring about increased build- ing programmes for schools and colleges, by the expansion of further and higher education, by the raising of the school-leaving age and by increased support for deprived areas, with special reference to the needs of young children.

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