HC Deb 19 February 1973 vol 851 cc41-172

3.58 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That this House takes note of the White Paper on Education: A Framework for Expansion (Command Paper No. 5174).

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues to leave out from 'House' to end and add instead thereof, regrets that the Government's public expenditure programme provides insufficient funds for the national education budget and that the White Paper allocates inadequate resources for the replacement of schools built before the first World War; announces a pre-school education programme too small to satisfy demand for nursery school places; will reduce planned places in higher education to a figure inconsistent with the Robbins principle, and the size of the teaching-training programme to an inadequate level; and fails to discriminate in favour of those sections of the community who are in special need of educational priority".

Mrs. Thatcher

On the same day as I presented the White Paper to the House my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland also presented a statement of policy for educational development. These papers together point the way forward to the development of much of our education system over the next ten years.

First, may I recall the events which led up to the White Paper. In April last year the Order in Council came into effect to raise the school leaving age to 16, thus carrying into effect at long last the intention of the Education Act 1944. In a sense this was the end of an epoch, and the country was ready for a major new step in education policy.

In May the House debated a motion calling for a steady expansion of preschool provision. The arguments presented in favour of nursery education were accepted by the Government, but I emphasised that I could not will the end without considering the means of achieving it. Later that year I was asked to allow local authorities to include the replacement and improvement of old secondary school buildings among their proposals alongside the primary school improvements which the Government had already authorised. I promised to do what I could as soon as more resources became available.

In October, in answer to Questions on the James Report on the education and training of teachers, I said that we hoped to announce Government decisions before the end of the year. In November I was asked to publish a White Paper setting new priorities in the education service. I promised to give full details if possible at the same time as giving the Government's response to the James Report. By December the Government's proposals for the development of the universities during 1972–77 quinquennium were due, and it was expected that these would be set in the context of our plans for higher education as a whole.

The White Papers presented to Parliament on 6th December carried out in full the promises and undertakings given to the House on all these important questions. They also did something more. They provided a forward-looking strategy for three-quarters of the education service over a period of 10 years.

I should like to deal with the White Paper under five main headings: first, nursery education; second, school building; third, teacher training and supply; fourth, higher education as a whole; and finally, expenditure. I shall also refer to some of the criticisms in the amendment which you, Mr. Speaker, have selected for debate.

Dealing with nursery education, the first major proposal in the White Paper was that within 10 years nursery education should become available without charge to children of three or four whose parents wished them to have it. This is an historic step forward which has been widely welcomed. I emphasise that there is no element of compulsion here. We are not proposing to force an earlier school starting age on people who do not want it. We are giving new opportunities to parents if they wish to take advantage of them. It follows that we cannot know at this moment exactly what the demand will turn out to be. However, we shall he authorising earmarked building programmes of £30 million in the two years to 1976 and we shall be planning for an extra 15,000 teachers for this purpose by 1981. Obviously we must watch closely to see how the demand develops.

Some commentators—a very few—have suggested that this programme will not go far enough. I can understand their enthusiasm. But I do not believe that the provision now proposed will fall seriously short of what is required. It assumes a very substantial capital investment and a threefold increase in current expenditure on the under fives by 1982.

We expect demand to develop in all areas of the country. Indeed, to achieve the eventual aim of a substantial nationwide programme, we must start now to build up experience and the nucleus of trained staff in each area. But we accept the findings of research that nursery schooling is of particular value in areas of social deprivation, and we intend that they should have some priority in the allocation of capital resources. Similarly, although the provision will generally be on a half-time basis, we recognise that sometimes there will be a need for attendance full time either for educational reasons or because of home conditions. Full-time provision will be made for 15 per cent. of the three and four-year-old age groups. The figure of 15 per cent. is an average over the country, and a higher proportion may be appropriate in areas of social deprivation.

There is no need to make a narrow distinction between educational and social needs. Both will contribute to the demand for full-time nursery places. But the main purpose of providing them is to enable children to learn and not to provide a day-care service. Where this is needed it can be provided through the social services departments, and the children will attend nursery school for part of their time at the day nursery.

It is the case that the children who stand to gain most from nursery education come from homes which are culturally or economically deprived. We shall expect authorities to give priority to the needs of these children. The initial building allocation will favour authorities with areas of greatest social need. We believe that local authorities and head teachers are in the best position both to identify disadvantaged children and to ensure that the new facilities are well publicised.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

While I welcome my right hon. Friend's proposals for nursery education, I am a little concerned that if priority is given to children who are in social need they will mix only with other deprived children, which will be disadvantageous to them. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that these deprived children are not segregated?

Mrs. Thatcher

I believe that these children should have greater priority for places than others. However I take my hon. Friend's point. It is a valuable one. I hope that it will be drawn to the attention of those in the areas concerned.

Mr. Thomas Cox (Wandsworth, Central)

I am listening with interest to what the right hon. Lady is saying. However is she aware of the inconsistency between what she is proposing and what is taking place at the moment? In the current issue of Contact, the magazine published by the ILEA, reference is made to the fact that only four of the 16 proposals which that authority submitted to the Government for nursery provision under the urban aid programme have been approved. Many of these projects were in my borough and in others in the ILEA area where there is great need for some kind of social provision to be made along these lines.

Mrs. Thatcher

There is no inconsistency. That occurred before there was an education nursery programme. This White Paper proposes to introduce a nursery programme on the education budget for the very first time.

We do not want to attempt central detailed control over the way resources are used because the statistical methods at our disposal for measuring social deprivation are crude. But the definition of social need will be similar to that used in the urban programme, with the addition that it will reflect the problems which exist in some new housing areas and in some rural areas as well as in city centres and declining industrial communities.

We recognise the importance of involving parents and of working closely with other agencies concerned with this age group. In this vitally important area we must explore how to get the maximum contribution from all concerned, and we are designing some special research to this end.

Circular 8/60 has been withdrawn and a new circular of guidance, number 2/73, has been issued. I have asked local authorities to submit by 18th May their proposals for building work in the two-year period 1947–76. I look forward to an early start being made on a reform for which right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have been pressing. In considering the strictures of the Opposition, perhaps I might point out that they come from a former Government who themselves were not able to carry out any of these improvements.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

Does the right hon. Lady accept the Plowden recommendation that the number of children covered in areas of social deprivation should rise progressively from two to 10 per cent.? Can the right hon. Lady indicate what proportion of the education budget will go to areas of social deprivation in five years' time? Will it be more than one per cent.?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am sorry. I cannot indicate that. It would be a very unwise Minister who attempted to indicate what will be the proportions in five years' time. It is said in the White Paper that in general we have accepted the Plowden targets for the provision of nursery education, and the figures of expenditure are given towards the back of the document.

I turn secondly to school building programmes. Here it is necessary to give some perspective to the figures in the White Paper. The major school building programmes comprise, first, basic needs—that is, where places have to be provided to meet school numbers—and, secondly, improvements and replacements of the existing stock. Taking together the three years up to 1974–75 we have authorised £287 million for basic needs and £152 million for improvements and replacements. There is also in the present year a final instalment of the special programme of £61 million for raising the school leaving age. So altogether there are programmes totalling £500 million over the three years for school building of which secondary schools total over £270 million. The plain fact is that more resources are now going into the building of secondary schools as a result of this Government's policies than at any previous time.

During these years, however, there are no sums specifically for secondary school replacement. The White Paper states that on completion of these programmes—that is, in 1975–76 and 1976–77—we must start to improve or replace the worst of the old secondary school buildings. For this purpose, there will be an extra—I stress the word "extra"—£20 million in the programmes for those two years. That is four times as much as the Labour Government allocated for this purpose in the period 1970–72—their last two programmes. We see this as the first stage of a rising secondary school improvement programme, a point made in the White Paper but rather overlooked in subsequent discussion.

The progress already made towards improving the stock of primary schools reflects the Government's determination steadily to get rid of poor and inadequate old buildings. Primary programmes already authorised for the three-year period 1972–75 will enable 1,500 old primary schools in England and Wales to be improved or replaced at a cost of over £160 million. This is well over twice as much as the total authorised under the last Administration for the five years 1967–72 for primary improvements. Minor works allocations have recently been increased for 46 local education authorities to allow them in particular to do more for the primary schools.

The systematic programme now launched for the replacement or remodelling of old secondary schools will effect further improvement in education facilities over the entire age range. At the same time we shall increase the building programme for special schools so as to get rid of old and unsatisfactory premises still in use and to provide for the mentally handicapped children for whose education I am responsible following the Education (Handicapped Children) Act 1970.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

Will the schools building programme in 1975–76 be more than it is now?

Mrs. Thatcher

The figures are set out in the Public Expenditure White Paper which took into account the policies in the Education White Paper. I think that the hon. Gentleman is on the point made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) last week when he made some play of the fact that the Expenditure White Paper showed a reduction of 22 per cent. between 1972–73 and 1976–77 in capital expenditure on schools and he saw some conflict with the Education White Paper. However, there is no inconsistency between the two.

Paragraph 35 of the Education White Paper explains the consequences of the declining rate of growth of the school population. Between 1970 and 1974 the total number of pupils aged five and over in maintained primary and secondary schools will rise from 7.7 million to 8.4 million—an increase of some 750,000. In the following four years to 1978 it will rise not by 750,000, but by fewer than 200,000, which is about one-quarter of the previous rate. In round figures, the cost of the additional places required will fall by about 50 per cent. between one four-year period and the next after allowing for the concentration of the growth in the later period in secondary schools.

The fact that decline in expediture on this head between 1972–73 and 1976–77 is only 22 per cent. is the direct result of our decision to devote massive resources to the improvement and replacement of old schools and the expansion of nursery education.

On 13th February I told the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) that the existing school building programmes up to 1974–75 in England and Wales which had been planned by the last Government had been increased by about £160 million. In addition, we have authorised new programmes of £30 million for nursery education in 1974–76 and £20 million for secondary school improvements in 1975–77.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

Will the right hon. Lady confirm the point which, as she rightly said, I made last week—putting aside that carefully prepared statement—that over the next four years capital available for new school building will go down by £94 million?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are providing £160 million more over the period I mentioned than the Labour Government provided. I think that I made that perfectly clear. I think that hon. Members will be pleased with the expenditure levels when I come to them. The figures in the Expenditure White Paper are accurate. We have carried out record school building programmes which the Labour Government were totally unable to complete and, in fact, cut.

Mr. Hattersley

Will the right hon. Lady now tell me whether over the next four years capital available for new school building goes down by £94 million?

Mrs. Thatcher

The figures are as I have given them. They would go down by 50 per cent. if we left them where the Labour Government left them. As it is, they are going down by only 22 per cent. and the rest of the programmes are steadily increasing.

I turn now to teacher training and supply. On supply, I can understand the keenness of those who would like to add up all the possible uses on which extra teachers might be employed and to say that that should be our target for teacher supply. I can understand that, but unfortunately I cannot endorse it. In the long run, I do not believe that the teachers themselves would be grateful if the supply of new recruits to their profession were to grow beyond the point at which local authorities could afford to employ them.

Salaries and pensions for teachers account for about 70 per cent. of the total cost of running the schools. My aims in this sphere are specific and realistic. First, it is our intention to bring about a further reduction in the size of classes. Teachers and parents are united that they would like to see some improvement here. We have therefore firmly declared our intention to secure by 1981 a teaching force 10 per cent. larger than the number needed to maintain the staffing standards reached in 1971. To achieve this for the projected number of pupils will need an increase of 110,000 teachers.

Secondly, we shall provide the extra teachers needed for the introduction of nationwide nursery schooling. This will require a further extra 15,000 teachers.

Thirdly, we shall provide enough teachers to allow for a systematic programme to release teachers for further training during service. This needs a further 20,000 teachers by 1981.

The net result of all these developments will be a teaching force of 510,000 in 1981 compared with 364,000 in 1971 and 276,000 in 1961. Few professions, if any, have had as great a growth rate as this.

In the decade 1961 to 1971 the pupil-teacher ratio went from 25.3 to 22.6—an improvement of 2.7 points over that decade. In the decade 1971 to 1981, on our present demographic assumptions, it is expected to change from 22.6 to 18.5 pupils per teacher—an improvement of 4.1 points against 2.7 points in the previous decade.

This is an ambitious and costly programme, not an inadequate one, as the Opposition would claim. I shall be seeking appropriate advice on the implementation and development of this policy of teacher supply. To this end I have taken the first steps towards establishing an advisory committee on the supply and training of teachers.

Mr. Caerwyn E. Roderick (Brecon and Radnor)

Will the right hon. Lady explain why the forecasts are now so different from those published in the Education Planning Paper published in 1970, where forecasts for teacher supply in 1981 were vastly different from figures which she is now giving?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am not aware to which figures the hon. Gentleman is referring because the objection has always been that I have not given forecasts. There have been parliamentary Questions to find out the forecasts, and I have consistently given the information up to the period 1977. Indeed the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) has been very active in this sphere.

Mr. Roderick

May I help the right hon. Lady by saying that in the Education Planning Paper No. 2 1970 there is a forecast of 835,000. Why does she now forecast a figure of 750,000 as being the right number?

Mrs. Thatcher

We are not on that point at all. That concerns the total number in higher education, universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. As the moment I am talking about the limited factor of teacher supply.

I turn now to teacher training. The future development of teacher training is—

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)

I am grateful to the right hon. Lady because she paid an implied compliment to my persistence. In the White Paper she has stated that there will be approximately seven years growth at the present rate of teachers to attain the total she has mentioned, yet in paragraph 153 she indicates that some teacher colleges of education will need to close. Is it not possible that the wastage rate might go up and the proportion of students taking the Diploma of Higher Education who go into teacher training will go down? If she decides to close the colleges now, might she not find herself short of the target which she has set?

Mrs. Thatcher

Colleges of education are not the only source of teachers. There are universities as well, and there are those who have been trained for teaching who are not teaching at the moment. The projections for colleges of education depend on the figures I have given which are for 10 per cent. improvement in staffing standards, plus the numbers required for nursery education, plus the extra numbers required to put into effect the James proposals and the in-service training. That amounts to the number I have given—namely, 510,000 in 1981. Because the colleges of education have been set up to train teachers only, we cannot foresee employment for them, bearing in mind that there are residual falls elsewhere. We hope to streamline the colleges of education to the numbers for whom we can foresee employment.

I turn to teacher training. For the future development of teacher training there are three main areas of change—first, the courses for initial training; secondly, the needs of young teachers when they go in to their first jobs; and, thirdly, continuing arrangements within the profession as a whole for training during service.

In regard to initial training, the Government's proposal is to work towards the achievement of a graduate teaching profession. To this end we welcome the development of the new three-year courses leading to Bachelor of Education degree and to qualified teacher status. We welcome also the possibility of a fourth year leading to an honours degree. We also share the view of the James Committee that a teacher on first employment needs, and should have, a systematic programme of professional help and further study. This proposal has been very widely welcomed, and the Government proposal is that these young teachers should be released during their first year of teaching for not less than one-fifth of their time for in-service training, and that altogether they might be expected to undertake three-quarters of a full teaching load. It is proposed to run pilot schemes in four selected areas, to study the problem involved in these new arrangements for probationer teachers. I am already in touch with the local authority associations about this. Thirdly, we propose to give effect to the James Committee's recommendation that teachers should be released for in-service training for periods equivalent to one term in every seven years. We intend that a substantial expansion of such training should begin in the school year 1974–75 and that by 1981 3 per cent. of teachers should be released on secondment at any one time.

It has been suggested that the White Paper fails to appreciate the full implications for in-service and induction training. This is not so. Allowance has been made for the full replacement of teachers released for these purposes and for the cost of their tuition. Allowance is also made for the designation of professional tutors in the schools and for the strengthening of LEA advisory services as well as for the payment of travelling expenses and subsistence.

The output of newly trained teachers will remain at about its present high level for another four years. This means that a big stride towards the achievement of the 1981 target will be made well before the end of the decade.

I would like now to say something about the diploma of higher education. It arose first in connection with teacher training, but I hope that this qualification will today be seen in a very much wider context. The first point is that courses leading to the diploma should be offered in each of the main sectors of higher education—universities, polytechnics and colleges. The second point is that the normal minimum entry qualification will be the same as for degrees. The third is that the diploma should itself be a qualification for entry to some forms of employment as well as being a staging post towards other qualifications, degrees included.

The Government for their part will ensure that the diploma students qualify for mandatory awards. They will also consider how as an employer they could give currency to the new diploma and how other employers can be encouraged to do likewise. I believe that we have here a qualification which will introduce a flexibility into the system and which will be of great interest to young people themselves.

I turn now to higher education as a whole. The White Paper proposes a further important expansion and this has received general public support. There has however been some comment on the fact that the planning figure of 750,000 full-time and sandwich course places in 1981 is lower than other forecasts and suggestions made in recent years. I will therefore try to explain this a little more fully.

I must stress that it is the Government's intention to continue to make higher education available to all who are qualified for it and who wish to have it. To translate the Robbins principle into numbers up to 10 years ahead is difficult because of the uncertainties involved. We know that the raising of the school leaving age, for example, or the changing pattern of employment prospects for those completing higher education courses, will make some mark on trends of numbers, but we cannot say with confidence what the effects will be. Even in the short term there are likely to be changes which may or may not indicate a trend. There has already been some slowing down in the growth of the proportion staying at school to take A-levels and this has not been wholly matched by the growth of this work in the further education sector.

There are also indications that the demand for higher education from amongst those qualified may not be as firmly based as it was in the 1960s. Only recently it was reported that the number of candidates for university courses was lower than at the same time last year. Applications for places in colleges of education are running at a somewhat lower rate.

Thus, with fresh information becoming available all the time, any projection is likely to differ from previous ones and is almost certain to do so after two or three years. The White Paper does not pretend to forecast the 1981 demand with precision. But I claim that, on a balanced judgment of all the factors, 750,000 is a reasonable figure at which to assess the effect by then of continuing to follow the Robbins principle, and on which to base the planning of higher education over the next 10 years.

This figure holds out the prospect of sending some 22 per cent. of the 18-year-old age group into higher education in 1981 compared with 15 per cent. in 1971 and 7 per cent. in 1961. The prospective increase in this proportion during the 1970s thus matches its increase during the 1960s; and the number of additional places needed to achieve this during the 1970s will at least equal the number added during the 1960s. This leaves no uncertainty as to the Government's aim to maintain the recent momentum of higher education expansion.

It is our intention that universities should provide half of the 750,000 places projected for 1981. For the five-year period 1972–77 the main points of the quinquennial settlement are as follows. First, the amount of the recurrent grants will continue to rise year by year providing for an increase in the numbers of full-time students from 243,000 in 1972–73 to 306,000 in 1976–77. Secondly, there will be a bigger proportion of undergraduates and a smaller proportion of postgraduates. Thirdly, there will be some economy over the university system as a whole in expenditure per student.

For the non-university institutions we have set a 1981 target of 335,000 full-time and sandwich students in England and Wales. This compares with 204,000 students in 1971–72 of whom the polytechnics contributed 66,000, other further education colleges 24,000 and colleges of education 114,000. If, as I have asked them to do, the polytechnics can bring their total up to 180,000 it will leave the remaining colleges with what looks at first sight like the comparatively easy task of adding, over ten years, only 17,000 places to their present provision for 138,000 students.

In practice, however, the task will be much more formidable. Some colleges may be closed, others merged with neighbouring polytechnics or universities, some will be engaged in the training of nursery assistants and other non-higher educational purposes. In almost all the colleges some resources will be diverted to the in-service training of teachers. It is not easy at this stage to estimate the net effect of all these changes on the number of places available for higher education. But it may well be that we shall need a further 40,000 to 50,000 additional places outside the polytechnics.

The size of the further expansion programme which will be required will pose problems about building programmes but will at the same time provide a welcome opportunity to commence adjustments in the present geographical distribution of higher education facilities. This will enable us to prevent the growth of a large concentration of students on a scale which would cause acute social problems, it will facilitate home-based study and extend the social and cultural benefits of higher education to areas which are at present unprovided for.

There has been a general welcome for the White Paper's policy of merging the two non-university sectors of higher education into a coherent whole, but I do not wish to minimise in any way the immense process of reorganisation and planning which will fall on local authorities and others who are directly responsible for individual institutions. The complexity of the task will be all the greater because of the radical change in the educational roles of many colleges of education.

I am taking longer than I had expected and I therefore now turn to the expenditure parts of the White Paper. The White Paper concludes with some figures on the expenditure consequences of the policies it announces. They relate only to some three-quarters of the total educational expenditure within my field of responsibility, and that of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, and the figures for 1981–82 do no more than indicate the order of magnitude of expenditure. Taking together the schools and higher education sectors, the White Paper shows that over the 10 years from 1971–72 to 1981–82 expenditure could rise from about £2,100 million a year to about £3,100 million, an increase of nearly £1,000 million or close on half. I stress that all these figures are at constant prices and are thus a true measure of real future growth of educational provision.

The White Paper translates these projections into average annual growth rates for the schools and higher education sectors and compares them with the actual rates of growth achieved by these two sectors during the 1960s. The growth rate for higher education is shown as slowing down during the 1970s to 5 per cent. compared with 61½ per cent. in the 1960s, while that for the schools sector accelerates from 2½ per cent. to 3 per cent. While higher education will remain the faster growing of the two sectors, our proposals embody a shift of emphasis in favour of the schools sector.

The hon. Member for Sparkbrook and his party have had something to say about the expenditure totals. I understand that they are now saying that there are insufficient funds for the national education budget. I have a few points to make on that. First, scarcely a breath of criticism came from the Labour benches about the education figures when we debated the White Paper on public expenditure. Education was hardly mentioned except by my hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury who gave the facts. They are to be found in Table 1.1 on page 8 of the Public Expenditure White Paper, Cmnd. 5178. That table shows how expenditure on all the main services is planned to develop between 1972 and 1977. In cost terms and at constant prices public expenditure as a whole is shown as rising at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent. But for education the average annual growth rate is 5 per cent.—from £3,569 million in 1972–73 to £4,331 million in 1976–77.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

The Opposition are torpedoed again.

Mrs. Thatcher

Spending on education will increase as a proportion of public expenditure from the present 13 per cent. to more than 14 per cent. by 1976–77.

Mr. St. John-Stevas


Mrs. Thatcher

In addition, the Opposition criticism of insufficiency is made against a background of cuts made while the Labour Party was in office. I refer in particular to the Report on Education in 1968 signed by the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short). It opened with the following words: The planned rate of growth of the education service was slowed down in 1968 by measures, announced in January, designed to divert resources from home consumption to overseas trade and industrial investment. The report went on to describe the postponing for two years of the raising of the school leaving age and the consequent cuts in the education building programme, cuts which were left to us to restore and to carry out the programme, which we have done.

It went on on page 12 to announce a reduction of the further education building programme. Also on page 12 it gave restrictions in the capital spending on the universities building programme and it said: As part of the continuing review of public expenditure programmes the Government decided later in 1968 that the rate of expansion of public expenditure in the university sector should be further reduced. All the criticism they now make is against the background of the cuts they made from their own planned programmes when in office. That criticism is also made against the background of promises which they were not able to fulfil. In the publication New Britain in 1964 they said: As the first step to part-time education for the first two years after leaving school, Labour will extend compulsory day and block release". It was not done. Again, it said: Labour will work out a phased and costed plan for the whole of education". That was left for us to do. It said: Labour will restore the percentage grant and transfer the larger part of the cost of teachers' salaries from the rates to the Exchequer. That was not done either.

The last point under this heading shows how hollow are the Opposition criticisms. I shall refer here to some of the comparisons made by the hon. Member for Sparkbrook with some of the figures in the White Paper. He has not always been comparing like figures with like. I believe he has been comparing past actual expenditure figures with future "volume" figures rather than, future "cost" figures. Perhaps I could give him the true comparison for this purpose. Will he read the last White Paper on public expenditure produced by his Government in 1969 for the following five-year period? Comparing like figure with like his White Paper forecast an annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent. from 1969 to 1974, compared with 3.4 per cent.—both in volume terms—which the hon. Member has been criticising. His figure was 3.1 per cent. and yet he criticises my figure of 3.4 per cent. If the plans for education expenditure shown in his Government's White Paper had been pursued we should now be restricted in 1972–73 and 1973–74 to an annual growth rate of 2 per cent. So much for the hon. Member's criticisms.

The strictures of the Opposition are nothing but a puffing pretence. However much they carp and criticise they cannot conceal the fact that the Government have already carried through reforms which they failed to implement.

Mr. Thomas Cox

Tell that to London teachers.

Mrs. Thatcher

The new policies comprise a further advance. They give a better start, better schools, better teaching, and better choice. [AN HON. MEMBER: "What about milk?"] It is in the 1968 Report, from which I quoted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members have raised the point of milk and meals. At page 19 of the 1968 Report, we see that at the beginning of the summer term the charge for school meals was increased from 1s. to 1s. 6d., and from September free milk ceased to be provided for pupils at maintained secondary schools.

As I have said the new policies comprise a further advance. They give a better start, better schools, better teaching and better choice. It is both a record and a policy which we are proud to present.

4.41 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: regrets that the Government's public expenditure programme provides insufficient funds for the national education budget and that the White Paper allocates inadequate resources for the replacement of schools built before the First World War; announces a pre-school education programme too small to satisfy demand for nursery school places; will reduce planned places in higher education to a figure inconsistent with the Robbins principle, and the size of the teaching-training programme to an inadequate level; and fails to discriminate in favour of those sections of the community who are in special need of educational priority". Paragraph 7 of the White Paper states: The total resources available will always be limited. Everything cannot be done in full at once. Each programme is in a very real sense in competition for its share of resources with other programmes, both within and outside the education service. There are two ways of looking at those sentences. First, it is the most banal sort of Whitehall platitude, of which all Governments have been guilty in their time. The second way of looking at them, which is the more appropriate way, is to realise that it is the beginning of the message, the birth of the White Paper's message, which the Secretary of State has repeated so assiduously over the last two months, that the Government are committed to every penny of education expenditure that it is reasonable to expect. Of course, a corollary to that argument is that any critics of the Government who call for expansion in one area must balance their proposals by proposals for cuts in another.

The idea so assiduously fostered over the last two years that the White Paper reflects the maximum reasonable education spending over the next 10 years is wrong. The Government's overall intentions for education spending have, as the right hon. Lady rightly says, to be dug out from the Public Expenditure White Paper and not from "Framework". It is interesting to reflect on why "A Framework for Expansion", which we were assured a week ago was written in conjunction with the Public Expenditure White Paper, does not include the overall figures. An examination of the overall figures which appear in the White Paper on Public Expenditure shows very clearly how deeply unambitious is the Government's overall spending programme.

The Government prophesy and, I am sure, will achieve an increase. That is a matter of neither congratulation nor surprise. It is inconceivable that any industrial nation, no matter how reactionary its Government, could have an education budget that stagnates or declines. What is important is the rate of growth that the Government propose.

Since 1959, in good areas as in bad, the education budget has expanded in real terms at an average of about 5.4 per cent. a year. That figure was maintained—rather more than maintained—during the calendar year 1972. Over the next four years the average rate of increase in education expenditure will slump to 3.3 per cent. We are told that the economy is expanding at a rate of—

Mrs. Thatcher

Are those figures in volume terms or in cost terms? This makes a difference. I think in volume terms for the latter figure and cost terms for the former.

Mr. Hattersley

They are cost terms corrected for anticipated increases in prices. Those are the most accurate indices it is possible to calculate. Not only is the figure for the next three years down to 3.3 per cent., but that has to be measured against the claims that the economy as a whole is expanding at the rate of about 4 per cent. Indeed, in their more euphoric moments the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer talk about the economy expanding at a rate of 5 per cent. If that is right, if the economy is expanding at 4 per cent. or 5 per cent., the decision to hold back educational spending to a figure of little more than 3 per cent. has a simple arithmetic result.

Mrs. Thatcher


Mr. Hattersley

That result is that over the next four years the proportion of our national income devoted to educational expenditure will substantially and relentlessly decline.

Mrs. Thatcher

I believe that the hon. Gentleman has confused cost figures with volume figures. The figures for total expenditure and for education spending are at page 8 of the White Paper on Public Expenditure. Under social services, item 15, education and libraries, the average annual growth rate per cent. is 5 per cent.

Mr. Hattersley

If the right hon. Lady had listened carefully she would have heard me say that during the financial year which is about to end the educational expenditure will be 5.8 per cent. That is about or a little more than has been the average figure for the last 14 years. The figures I then went on to give, including the 3.3 per cent., are the figures for the immediate years after the major proposals in "Framework" began. The right hon. Lady will recall that virtually all the things which she has spoken about this afternoon are not programmed to begin until the financial year that begins in February 1974. For the three years after that the average figure for expansion is 3.3 per cent. I am astonished that the right hon. Lady should argue about the figures. She knows very well that there was a much reported conference organised in London immediately after Christmas, the conclusions of which were published although the names of the participants were not. The conclusions included the opinions and offerings of very senior members of her Department, none of whom argued with the figure then advanced, that for the three years which formed the principal and preliminary three years of the White Paper the expansion figure is 3.3 per cent.

Mrs. Thatcher

May we go from the actual percentage terms to what the figures are? Hon. Members can then work them out for themselves. For public expenditure by programme in cost terms, as set out on page 17, for 1968–69 to 1976–77, on education and libraries, the estimate for 1972–73 is £3,569 million, and for 1973–74 it is £3,756 million. These are all in constant price terms. For 1974–75 the figure is £3,909 million, and for 1975–76 £4,122 million. Those are the figures, and perhaps hon. Members can work out the percentages for themselves.

Mr. Hattersley

I suggest that in order that hon. Members and, perhaps, the right hon. Lady can work it out better, she sends her Under-Secretary to get a compound rate table. If that can be applied to those figures, she will discover that my 3.3 per cent. figure is correct.

Having said that, I accept at once that it is perfectly possible to argue that the figures I have quoted are totally consistent with Conservative philosophy, that private consumption is preferable to public investment. But what it is not possible to argue in the face of a 4 per cent. or 5 per cent. growth rate in the economy as a whole and a 3 per cent. rate, or little better, of expansion in education is that education is scheduled to expand as fast as any reasonable man or woman would choose. Indeed, many highly respected education economists regard expansion at the rate of 7½ per cent. or 8 per cent. in the education budget as attainable. Some believe, and are oft quoted, that an expansion rate twice as great as the increase in the gross national product is easily within our means.

Increases of that order are certainly justified by the needs of education. I know very well that calls for increases below those figures were regarded by some of my hon. Friends and by some people outside the House as an unambitious claim for education expansion. But the extent of the White Paper's shortcoming is to be measured by the fact not that it provides less than the most that has been reasonably asked but that it does not even postulate an expansion in the education budget which is the equivalent of the expansion in the economy as a whole.

Is the White Paper a blueprint for the development of education over the next 10 years or is it not? If, as paragraph 2 says, the Government have been reviewing the direction in which the service is growing: its objectives and its priorities.", why has the review had nothing to say about the objectives of secondary education? Perhaps more important, if it is looking at priorities, why do we hear nothing about the priority to be given for extending opportunities to the 16-and 18-year-old school leavers?

If he catches the eye of the Chair, my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle) hopes to deal with that last issue in some detail. But so that the Under-Secretary may be prepared, I should like to ask him three specific questions to which we hope to return. First, has the Russell Report been received by the Department? Secondly, if it has, on what date was it received? Thirdly, when can we expect to hear the Government's conclusions on this whole sector of education, which has virtually been totally omitted from the White Paper, the education of the 16- and 18-year-old school leavers?

I turn to some of the White Paper's specific proposals. Like the right hon. Lady, I begin at the lower end of the age range, with pre-school education. I concede at once that any proposals for increases in pre-school provision are much to be welcomed, but our welcome, ex- pressed at the first opportunity by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), is qualified by two fears. The first is that the plans for pre-school education will not satisfy the overall demand for nursery places. The second is that as a result the areas that will suffer most from the shortfall in overall provision are those with the greatest need for nursery places.

Paragraphs 16 and 17 of the White Paper suggest to the unwary that the Plowden figures for nursery provision have been adopted. Indeed, the Secretary of State either said that or almost said it this afternoon. But in one crucial particular the Plowden figures have not been adopted.

I shall return to that matter later. First, let us consider those parts of the Plowden figures which have been incorporated in the White Paper—nursery places for 50 per cent. of the three-year-olds and 90 per cent. of the four-year-olds, with full-time provision for 15 per cent. of both age groups.

Why do the Government believe that provision at that level is adequate? Paragraphs 327–330 of Plowden properly reiterate the imprecision of its estimates. In the six years since Plowden was written a great deal has happened. The nursery school movement has gained enormous impetus, creating extra demand for nursery places by popularising the idea and demonstrating the advantages of preschool education. That extra demand has been measured by many recent studies. All that I have seen have calculated that the Plowden figures are inadequate. The immediate response to the White Paper provided for the right hon. Lady by the Association of Municipal Corporations on 29th December repeated the view that the Plowden figures were an unambitious total.

More recent estimates suggest that three-quarters of all three-year-olds would, given the chance, attend nursery classes, and that 20 per cent. of three-year-olds and four-years-olds would attend full-time if places were available. It is to those figures that the next Labour Government are very firmly committed.

Plowden is certainly the most official of all the estimates, but it is also the oldest and, therefore, the smallest. Why were the Plowden figures specifically selected and more recent studies overlooked? Or, rather, why were the overall Plowden figures accepted and a crucial Plowden proposal, in Chapters 5 and 9, rejected or ignored? I refer to the recommendation that in educational priority areas half the nursery places should be full-time. No provision is more important to the EPAs—education priority areas—than nursery schools and nursery classes. But it is difficult to believe that nursery numbers will expand in those areas at the speed that is needed or to the figure required.

Chapter 5 of the White Paper introduces a general pre-school policy. I repeat the Opposition's welcome for it. But, by definition, it destroys the element of positive discrimination that was central to the previous programme. With no positive incentive to expand in the slums and the multi-occupied areas, a less than adequate total provision is certain to neglect the EPAs.

It looks as though the Secretary of State is still trying to calculate that the figure for expansion is not 3.3 per cent. Perhaps I can end her agony by saying that I shall gladly supply her with the figures later.

When local education authorities opened nursery classes in deprived areas, or not at all, they built in the EPAs. Not all of them will continue that policy now that a wider prospect beckons. They will be put under pressure from the vocal, prosperous suburbs that the decaying central areas cannot match. In some cities the so-called empty primary classrooms to be filled by nursery classes are most numerous in the older, poorer districts. But that is not invariably the case, and it will not sufficiently swing the balance in favour of the poorer areas.

The Economist, not always the champion of the under-privileged, put the point exactly on 19th December when, writing of the demand for places, it prophesised: Mrs. Thatcher will do more to satisfy it by spreading successive thin layers of nursery education all over the country than by concentrating on slum areas…there is the obvious danger that all along the line, those in greatest need will find themselves last in the queue. That is a genuine fear. The simple expression of hope, mentioned in passing, in the White Paper, that the local education authorities will take account of education priority consideration, is not enough. The advice given in Circular 2/73, which does insufficient to concentrate the building programme on the needs of the EPAs, is also inadequate.

According to my calculations, the circular offers about 40,000 new nursery places during the financial year 1974–75 and about the same number the year after. That programme will begin late and move slowly. During the early years, special assistance should be concentrated on the areas of greatest need. I am grateful and pleased to hear that some building priority is to be devoted to EPA projects. I hope that we may hear more from the Under-Secretary about how that is to be organised, but I do not believe that it is sufficient.

I offer three positive proposals. First, the Plowden recommendation that 50,000 nursery places in EPAs be full-time should be accepted. Secondly, new capital works for nursery places should be approved only in priority areas until their needs are satisfied. Thirdly, the ratio of staff to children in nursery schools in EPAs should be improved. The best the Secretary of State hopes to do is to preserve the 13:1 ratio. The EPAs need, and should be given, a ratio of 10:1.

If the Secretary of State has chosen to base her nursery places on figures about which we have serious doubt, her response to the statistical evidence in the higher education sector is either deeply cynical or superficial to the point of flippancy. Her Department's Planning Paper No. 2 published in 1970 as a result of serious study predicted that 835,000 higher education places would be needed to meet the demands of 1981. That figure has been disputed by people who regard it as too low—too low, that is, to keep Britain rigidly committed to the Robbins principle that a higher education place would be available for every qualified person who wished to take one up. It has been disputed not least because the Robbins principle and the Robbins estimates, carefully calculated and stastically based, turned out to be 20 per cent. too small. Nobody had argued that the planning paper's figures were too high—nobody, that is, until the Government published their White Paper in December.

In paragraph 114 of the White Paper a passing nod is given to the Robbins principle without the Government actually embracing it. Today the right hon. Lady was much more forthcoming and specifically re-committed her Government to that idea. But the chapter "Numbers and Costs in Higher Education", whilst it supposedly must be related to the re-endorsement of Robbins that we have heard this afternoon, amounts statistically to the abandonment of the Robbins idea.

I do not believe that the 1981 demand can possibly be met by 750,000 higher education places. Will the Under-Secretary of State tell us precisely how that 750,000 has been calculated? Is it based on expected demand, or is it related to what the Government are prepared to supply?

By 1982 the raising of the school leaving age and the encouraging effects of comprehensive reorganisation will have increased the number of potential students in our sixth forms. I also believe that the number of adults looking for university places is certain to increase. Yet, in the face of those certain increases in demand, the Secretary of State offers one alteration in the supply—a planned reduction for 1981 in the number of higher education places available to the 18- and 19-year age group, from what was to he 23.5 per cent., to what she conceded this afternoon will be 22 per cent. May we hear more about the evidence that has been wheeled out to justify this reduction?

Paragraph 117 of the White Paper includes the admirable statement that higher education is valuable for its contribution to the personal development of those who pursue it. It goes on to talk about a realistic assessment of its usefulness to career intentions. Is that supposed to be a reference to graduate unemployment? I hope that such short-term considerations are not being used to justify a cut-back.

These are difficult days. There is unemployment in every sector of the community and a marked reluctance to invest in physical as well as human capital, but these days will not last for ever, and a White Paper containing a 10-year plan for education needs a wider perspective. One factor is working in a way which could well justify the Government's assessment of the reduced demand for higher education places. If the purchasing power of student grants falls during the next two years as quickly as it has fallen during the last, the number of working-class students will certainly decline. But that is not a matter of satisfying demand; that is a matter of suppressing demand.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Before the hon Gentleman gets embedded in the question of student grants, will he tell the House his estimate of the number of places required in higher education and the universities by 1981?

Mr. Hattersley

I accept the most recent estimate produced by Higher Education Review of about 875,000. If it is worth anything to the hon. Gentleman, that is a smaller estimate than has been quoted in the past. I said earlier that my estimates will be regarded by some as unambitious—the people who regard 1 million as the appropriate figure. I take the most scientifically based estimate rather than the guess of the White Paper.

Mr. St. John-Stevas rose

Mr. Hattersley

I shall not let the hon. Gentleman reply. He has interrupted me almost as much as he interrupted the Secretary of State, and I propose to allow him half an hour between 9.30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to answer all my questions.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Then I hope the hon. Gentleman will not interrupt me.

Mr. Hattersley

The principal cut in the higher education programme is to be borne by the universities, where 85,000 places have been cut from the 1981 targets. Judgment about the division between university reduction and polytechnic expansion is not easy before we know the Government's views on the future of the binary system. Some commentators welcome the new mix as an indication of greater emphasis being placed on the public sector, a view reinforced by the White Paper's attempt to place some restrictions on the universities' rising unit costs.

I should be much more critical of the White Paper if the alternative interpretation of the balance between public and private further education were to prove correct. That alternative interpretation is an expansion in the polytechnics, because the current cost of a place is £1,120, and the contraction of the universities, because the equivalent cost is £1,625.

The polytechnics in their present form are very much the product of the previous Labour Government. They are an enormous success. Their interests have to be preserved, and we on this side of the House do not propose to vote for higher education on the cheap. If the public system is to be expanded, as I believe it should be, it must receive a vast injection of public funds. But our principal criticism concerns the overall higher education figure. It reduces the prospects of a whole generation of potential undergraduates. As a result of the short-fall in places, which some commentators regard as almost 20 per cent., the influence of the universities and their minimum entrance requirements on the secondary school curriculum is certain to increase. It will tighten the competitive element in secondary education in our sixth forms. No doubt that conforms with the Secretary of State's philosophy but it does not conform with ours.

I now turn to the sector of education which has suffered the cruellest cuts—the colleges of education. The reduction in the number of places in the colleges of education will further reduce the prospects of women moving towards some degree of higher educational parity. How far it will prejudice the whole prospects for further education expansion depends on the answers to a number of questions which ought to have been made clear in the White Paper and were not. Again, I offer them to the Under-Secretary of State in the hope that lie may seriously turn his mind to answering the debate this evening, and I give him notice of three points which I hope he will elucidate.

First, do we know whether the universities will accept the two-year diploma study as equivalent to two undergraduate years? Secondly, if the two diploma years are regarded as a full equivalent, will everyone who successfully completes them be able, if they so wish, to go forward to a degree course? Thirdly, if some colleges of education are completely integrated with neighbouring universities, will their students be included in the 375,000 figure on which the overall university grant is to be based during the next decade?

Until those questions are answered, it is virtually impossible to make a judgment on the entire package for colleges of education, although I say at once that the Opposition very much welcome the implementation of the idea that there should be some in-service training for teachers, slow though that implementation will be.

The cuts in the colleges of education will affect not only the prospects in further education and higher education; they will affect our schools. I put aside the little subterfuge of treating the 20,000 teachers on in-service courses as if they were in front of their classes so as to publish the best possible pupil/teacher ratio, for neither 19.3:1 nor 18.5: 1 is an acceptable pupil/teacher ratio for the end of this decade.

How does the Secretary of State justify such a limited aspiration? In the independent schools, of which the right hon. Lady is so fond, the ratio is 13.1:1. If it is good for them, why is it not good for the maintained schools? I warn her that in asking that question we shall be deeply unimpressed by any answer which suggests that clever pupils need more teachers and more resources than their less gifted contemporaries.

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

Surely the higher numbers of pupils in sixth forms, whether clever or not, need more teachers?

Mr. Hattersley

That is exactly a point against which I am arguing. We suggest, shall insist upon, and will in future implement the policy that the people who need the most teachers are the children in conditions of deprivation. We are unimpressed by the hon. Gentleman's argument. We are far more impressed by the calculation of the National Union of Teachers of what the White Paper's figures amount to. The union calculates that the White Paper's figures will provide for 40 pupils in classes in primary schools and 30 in secondary school classes by the end of the decade. Those figures are not only unambitious; they are, to us at least, unacceptable. There are 4,500 classes in State schools with more than 40 children in them. To bring them down to 40 children should be simply the beginning. The union has calculated that to bring all classes down to 30 pupils would need a teaching force 60,000 greater than the White Paper suggests.

There is a second great and urgent need for extra teachers—in the educational priority areas. We have never done enough to encourage more teachers to teach in those areas. The full Plowden increments, recommended six years ago, have never been paid. A future Labour Government will contemplate much higher levels of teaching effort in those areas.

To all this the right hon. Lady has responded with a reduction in places in colleges of education, from 114,000 this year to 75,000 or 80,000 in 1981, and only 60,000 to 70,000 of these will be new teachers in training. The most charitable interpretation is that she has been kept so humiliatingly short of money that this is the maximum teaching force she is allowed to provide.

Finally, I turn to one other example of the strict financial control which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has imposed on the education budget. This is contained in the figures which the right hon. Lady referred to and to which I must return again and again. During the financial year about to end we shall spend more than £375 million on school building. That figure is in part the result of the decision to raise the school leaving age, with £40 million more than last year's figure devoted to the purpose. It is no doubt the figure for schools capital investment that the Government feel is both educationally necessary and economically possible.

From this year onwards the figure for captial expenditure on schools declines every year. By the financial year 1976–77 it will have fallen to £281 million. That is an extraordinary reduction, and there is more involved in it than the end of the raising of the school leaving age building programme, for that has never been more than £61 million in one year. The reduction, to which the right hon. Lady referred and to which I shall return time and time again, is £94 million.

Has it come about for reasons economic or educational? Has the right hon. Lady been told that this year's level of capital expenditure on schools cannot be maintained? Or is she simply giving school building for the years from now a lower priority than she has given it in 1972–73? Last week, the right hon. Lady told me that there are about 300 secondary schools in England and Wales which were built before the turn of the century. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will tell us over what period the Government expect to see these schools replaced. I hope he will also tell us how many schools survive from the period between 1900 and the First World War and what plans the Government have for replacing them, because many are, to my certain knowledge, in as urgent need of replacement as those built before the turn of the century.

In "Framework for Expansion" we are promised more than £50 million a year for replacement of old primary schools On the right hon. Lady's own figures, we know that the replacement of schools built before 1903 will take us into the early 1980s. Looking at the answer she gave to a Written Question on 20th December, that seems me to be the most optimistic estimate. I hope we can have a very precise explanation from the hon. Gentleman about how he reconciles the claim that all speed is being made towards the removal of our most decrepit schools with the fact that £94 million is being lopped off the funds available for school building over the next four years. It is possible to argue that the Government are being careful with the taxpayers' money or that something else has a higher priority. What it is not possible to argue is that school rebuilding is being pushed ahead with the utmost speed and the utmost determination.

Finally, I ask the Government whether they really believe that the degree of priority they are planning for areas of special educational need is adequate. I have already said that a Labour Government would concentrate the early provision of nursery school places in the educational priority areas. We intend to concentrate an increasing share of all our educational resources on the educationally under-privileged.

Of course, we know that the simple physical improvement of schools in deprived areas, an improvement in the staff pupil ratio, or the provision of extra money for more equipment will not in itself solve the problems of the educationally deprived. But it is a step in the right direction, and it is one which we would take, not least because it is wholly consistent with our philosophy of education.

Of course, our views on education reflect our views on society. We do not want to see any part of the community arbitrarily or artificially divided. We certainly do not want to see those conditions accentuated in our schools. That is why we intend to re-define the concept of equality of opportunity. We do not see education as a sort of obstacle race made fair by lining every child up on the same starting line and then allowing some to break records and others to fall at the first hurdle.

Special help has to be provided for those whose background and abilities do not equip them to win the race but who would find life enormously enriched if they could be encouraged to run a few yards further. We want to build a society which is united, not divided. We want education to draw people together, not drive them apart.

To promote that sort of society, education spending has to expand at least as fast as the economy as a whole. There also has to be a policy genuinely and determinedly committed to discrimination in favour of those children for whom our present system provides far too little. We do not see these objectives being achieved by "Framework for Expansion". It is for that reason that we have put down our amendment, and it is with those convictions that we shall vote for it tonight.

5.19 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

I have listened with attention, as the House has, to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). But I thought passages in his speech singularly mean and lacking his characteristic generosity, particularly in relation to public expenditure. The Labour Party may feel that the total level of public expenditure projected in the White Paper on Public Expenditure—Command 5178—is inadequate, but I would have thought that at least he would have had the grace to give it to my right hon. Friend that the increase for education projected by the Government is the highest of all the increases.

As my right hon. Friend said in an intervention to the hon. Gentleman, during our recent debate on the Public Expenditure White Paper neither the Opposition Front Bench nor any back-bench Opposition speaker picked out the education budget as being too low. One hon. Member made a general point that over the years he would expect public expenditure to go on increasing as a percentage of the gross national product, but that was the only reference made.

It is no use the Opposition going to a debate on public expenditure and complaining about the financial and taxation implications and also the resource implication of rising public expenditure and then coming to an education debate and asking for more and more. I am certain that had the hon. Member for Spark-brook been addressing a by-election meeting he would have said "The Labour Government will spend more across the hoard on the education programme."

On reflection, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that the Opposition amendment is particularly mean. I suspect that, in the Opposition's present mood, had they been present at the time they would have tabled a motion of censure on the Good Samaritan. This is a "Good Samaritan" of a White Paper. It promises further advances in educational services, and I believe it has its priorities right. I welcome this for its own sake, but I am under no illusion that as an automatic consequence we shall have a happier or more purposeful society.

Unlike certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am not an educational determinist. I have never shared the popular folk myth of progressive people that somehow through more and better formal education—education with a capital "E"—lies uniquely the path to true democracy and hence to universal happiness. In my judgment, expansion in our educational services has its proper part to play in the orderly evolution of our society. But where I differ from my progressive friends is in their obsessional preoccupation with educational theories and the niceties of school organisation, and their belief that, if these matters are ordered correctly, Utopia is but a generation hence. This is why the Labour Party argues the virtues of comprehensive schools with all the fervour of a seventeenth century sectarian. I respect it for its belief, but I cannot share it.

Personally, I take a simpler and a less ideological view of educational advance. It can be put in a very simple proposition: namely, that there is no substitute for a good school teacher—and we need more of them. This is why teacher supply, teacher training, and, above all, the conditions of work for teachers have always seemed to me to be so important and must be the first priority in the call on our educational resources. I have always said this to my own teachers' organisations, and I have made representations to many education Ministers about that priority, and I hold to it now.

Mr. Spearing

Will the hon. Gentleman tell his right hon. Friend that many teachers in London today are not at all sure that the right hon. Lady's approach is on those lines?

Mr. Price

As a humble provincial member, I would not dare to involve myself in a controversy involving teachers in the great metropolitan area.

I welcome the emphasis in the White Paper both on teacher training and on staffing standards. It is encouraging to read in paragraph 25 that the Government are aiming at an overall pupil/teacher ratio throughout all maintained schools of about 1:18½ by 1981. This compares with 22½:1 ratio today mentioned by my right hon. Friend in her speech. This is a statistically average figure covering the whole system of maintained schools. We all know that it is in primary schools where the pupil/teacher ratios are still too high, although it would be churlish of me not to recognise the impressive progress made in the last few years. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will continue to concentrate extra teacher supply on the primary schools.

I was pleased to read this passage in paragraph 50 of the White Paper: Although there is no conclusive evidence yet on the educational effects of class size, the Government think it right to be guided by the judgment of experienced teachers and educationists that a further reduction in the average size of classes would be justified on both educational and social grounds. They accordingly intend that staffing standards generally should continue to improve progressively… I am convinced that this is the right aim. But let us be under no illusion as to the resource and the cost implications of this judgment. It is put very simply in the statement in paragraph 44: The salaries, superannuation, and National Insurance contributions of teachers account for about 70 per cent. of the total cost of running the schools. As I interpret the figures in Table 2.15 of Command 5178, the White Paper on Public Expenditure to 1976–77, increased teacher supply alone will cost a further £270 million a year five years hence in 1976–77 at 1972 survey prices—in other words, ignoring inflation. That figure does not take into account such controversial factors as the teaching profession's probable share of the real increase in national income over the next five years and any changes which may take place in their relative position in the national wages and salaries pecking order. I draw attention to the cost of expanding teachers' supply because it is fundamental to the whole question of where our educational priorities should lies over the next 10 years.

The process of education begins long before we go to school. This is my cautionary contribution to the debate today. Therefore, even more important than a good teacher to a child's development and education is a good home, which means good parents. Let me make it clear that being a good parent does not necessarily mean being a wealthy parent. I suggest that there are good parents and there are bad parents in all income groups. The lesson has been clear since classical times, but we seem to be frightened by our knowledge. Let me repeat the lesson. The first need of children is a closely-knit family life where they live under the example of their parents, obedient to simple standards of probity and responsibility, where there is discipline without tyranny and security within the bond of love.

This is the hard truth. It is in our homes that our children first learn what to want and what to admire, what is important and what is trivial, what has quality and what is shoddy. These things are the roots of education, and they have been largely untouched by all the education White Papers of recent years.

Where my right hon. Friend's White Paper is unique is that by its commitment to a massive expansion of nursery education it is bringing the resources of society to the support of the family at an earlier age than was previously possible, or than was regarded as proper or appropriate in earlier times. Thus, this White Paper is the first major advance in educational thinking by any Government since the great Education Act of 1944.

In this respect I share the enthusiasm, if not the mysticism, of my progressive friends. This is an important advance of quality in our educational services. The reason for my belief is very simple, and I can put it best and most simply in two quotations from Plato. The first is: The first shoots of any plant, if it makes a good start towards the attainment of its own excellence, has its greatest effect on its maturity. Then later we find in the Republic these words: The beginning, you know, is always the most important part, especially when you are dealing with anything young and tender. That is the time when the character is being moulded and easily takes any impress one may wish to stamp on it. The educational case for nursery education was extremely well stated by my right hon. Friend in a recent speech at Manchester. I shall not detain the House by quoting it, but it was an important statement. She developed part of the social case; but the social case is further strengthened by the special help which nursery education can give to disadvantaged and handicapped children. I was glad to see this emphasised in Circular 2/73. However, I would add three further social factors of my own with which I think the House will agree.

The first is the continuing revolution of rising expectations. The second is the social problems of new housing estates and of high rise flats. In the social sense, in terms of the family unit there can be as much deprivation in some of our new estates—antiseptic and hygienic but totally lacking in the love, comradeship and sense of community—as was so much the character of many of the slums of our great industrial cities.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is social deprivation in rural areas? With the continuing closure of primary and infant schools in rural areas, I should like to know where he suggests the nursery classes should be provided for children in rural areas.

Mr. Price

I have much sympathy with what my hon. Friend says. I shall be happy to talk to him afterwards about this matter. Nursery education gives the opportunity of opening as nursery schools some of the small village primary or all-age schools which were rightly closed because better facilities would be provided in a new and larger school a few miles away. However, I do not like seeing the "babies", as some of us call the five-and six-year-olds, travelling on school buses every day. If these old village schools could be re-opened as nursery schools, it would have immense social and communal benefit.

The third social factor is the desire of women to get away for part of the day from the treadmill of their domestic duties. This is an increasingly important factor in our evolving society. To my mind, one of the most novel aspects of the White Paper flowing from a major increase in nursery education is the prospect of associating parents more closely with what goes on in the schools. I was glad to read in paragraph 29 of the White Paper that nursery education probably offers the best opportunities for enlisting parents' understanding and support for what schools are trying to achieve, which is of key importance to successful education at subsequent stages I am confident that most local education authorities will seize this opportunity with enthusiasm. Many parent/teacher associations in primary and junior schools, of which I have experience, will greatly welcome the partnership of their associations with the authorities in developing new ideas for our nursery schools.

The White Paper states that in the 1970s the pressure of rising numbers on the deployment of educational resources will be less intense than it was in the 1960s. The hon. Member for Sparkbrook made this point, although he did not put it as openly as I have done. Paragraph 5 of the White Paper states: 'Roofs over heads' in the schools, on the other hand, will be a less pressing problem.…Choices of a new kind can therefore be made. That may be true of the country as a whole, but it is not true of my own county of Hampshire. In recent years we have had a rate of growth in the school population double that of England as a whole. From 1966 to 1971 the school population of England increased by 14.2 per cent. In Hampshire it increased by 29.3 per cent. From 1971 to 1976 the increase for England is forecast to rise by 11.2 per cent. while that of Hampshire is forecast to rise by 23.3 per cent. This puts an enormous burden on my local education authority.

Taken in conjunction with the South Hampshire structure plan, it is forecast that the number of schoolchildren in maintained schools in South Hampshire will increase by 79,000 in the 25 years from 1966 to 1991—an increase of 60 per cent. That gives some idea of the burden which will be placed on the Hampshire Education Authority. Those figures do not take into account the effect of Circular 2/73 dealing with the expansion of nursery education.

A continuing increase on this scale requires a continuing programme of construction of buildings and the provision of the necessary school sites. Such a programme is additional to the current improvement and replacement needs of South Hampshire. In 1971 it was estimated that 77 primary schools and three secondary schools would need replacement in the years up to 1991. Remember South Hampshire is only part of the whole of the new Hampshire. On present forecasts, we shall be a major growth area until the end of the century.

The financial implications for us are severe. Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend to take a new look at the financial arrangements for local education authorities such as Hampshire which are likely to be faced with this extra burden of rising school populations far in excess of the national average. We have problems in terms of both physical resources and necessary supporting finance which are untypical of the nation as a whole. I am convinced that the Government must rethink the formula for grants to accommodate such exceptional cases.

The estimates for next year in Hampshire show a 20 per cent. increase in the educational budget over the previous year. This is a big burden on the rates, even allowing for the increases in the rate grant from the national Exchequer. I strongly support my right hon. Friend's priorities for further advance in the education services, but I am convinced that in rapidly expanding local education authorities like Hampshire the present basis of the rating system is inadequate to stand the financial burden.

I therefore draw the inevitable conclusion that if we are to implement the forward-looking proposals in the White Paper we must develop new methods of supporting local government expenditure, especially in counties like Hampshire. I regard this as an urgent problem. We have had a Green Paper on local government finance. It is time that decisions thereupon be taken. The writing is on the wall. Let the Government read it correctly.

5.37 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) began his speech on a high, philosophic level with quotations from Plato. I am not sure whether he commanded everyone's agreement. He ended with a plea for a bit more money to be spent on schools in his constituency. We would all support the spending of more money on schools in our constituencies.

One of my criticisms about what has happened during the Government's period of office is that the amount of provision for what are called minor works—and, like the hon. Member for Eastleigh, I am thinking particularly of my constituency—is not enough. I know the problems and difficulties of rural schools, but take an area like inner London where the population is declining and many school buildings are very old. The Secretary of State says "I have told London how much it can have. You must argue with the Inner London Education Authority for your school against another". I am left wondering why, in a country with our enormous power to increase the total supply of wealth, many schools in inner London still have to do with buildings, toilets and so on, which are desperately out of date.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh began by putting up and then knocking down an Aunt Sally which no one but himself has erected. He said that people whom he described as his "progressive friends"—indicating that there might be some of us here—took the view that we had only to get education right and we would achieve the millennium. I have never believed that. I consider education to be enormously important, but I do not pretend that by it alone we can get everything right.

I do not disagree at all with what the hon. Gentleman said about the importance of the home—kindness, common sense, wisdom; but we live today in an extremely complex society and if young people, going out into it, are to get anywhere at all, a solid basis of education beyond what the home can provide is now essential. I find it a little difficult to be patient with the hon. Gentleman, who has been extraordinarily fortunate in the range of education he has had, when he suggests that on the whole education does not matter all that much.

Mr. David Price

I did not say that.

Mr. Stewart

It was the inevitable implication of what the hon. Member said.

We have to face it that we live today in so complex a society that parents, however kind, loving and wise they may be, must, if they want their children to do well, feel that their children can go from home to a really good school.

Mr. Price

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman wants to be quite fair. He has acknowledged my major point, which was on my progressive friends' attitude that by getting education right we get the millennium, and he tells me that he does not share my view. There is nothing between us on the importance of education.

Mr. Stewart

I am glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman gives rather greater importance to education than I thought he did at the beginning of his speech.

I come to a point on which I agree with the hon. Member: that what really matters is having really good teachers and enough of them. I do not want to take too long but I want to refer to a few paragraphs in the White Paper and first of all paragraph 149: The attainment of a teaching force of this size"— that is, the size which the right hon. Lady thinks is necessary— will not require its present net growth by 18,000–20,000 a year to be continued indefinitely. If we assume that what the White Paper thinks is an adequate teaching force is adequate, I agree that we need not continue at this rate indefinitely. After all, whoever would suggest that we continue any rate of recruitment indefinitely? It is a very safe phrase—no need to continue it indefinitely.

The implication of that is that we can begin to slacken off a bit. What I want to know is, what basic evidence is there for that? Look at the demands to he made on the teaching force in the future. First of all, the education of those under 5 years old, and the question of trying to provide education for little children below the age at which they are statutorily required to go to school.

Surely one of the tragedies of human society is this. Those parents who themselves have been the least fortunate, who have been brought up in poverty and with lack of education, are unhappily those who will least understand how important it is for their children to have a good education; and those parents who themselves have been fortunate and have had a good education will be the first to understand its importance and quite properly to seize hold of every facility which the State system offers to children from three years old to 23. It means, if of the education of the under fives we merely say that it is our duty to provide the facilities, that there is a real danger that we shall divide society more harshly. Those who already understand the value of education will seize hold of the opportunity; those who unhappily, because of their own upbringing, do not fully understand it will not do so.

Mr. John E. B. Hill

Will the right hon. Gentleman be careful not to generalise about parents who themselves have not enjoyed a good education as not being educationally ambitious for their children? A large part of the evidence is against him there. A majority of university undergraduates are now coming from homes where the parents were not themselves university undergraduates, and so on all the way down. I agree that there are some who, having had a bad education, have no education ambitions, but not by any means all of them.

Mr. Stewart

I would not assert this as a universal rule by any means, but I believe that there is substantial danger of what I am saying being true. No generalisation is 100 per cent. true, because in education, we have to accept that the human spirit is so versatile that it springs up to seize hold of opportunities against all the odds. I do, however, believe that there is a real danger to the education of the under fives if we say merely "Here is an opportunity; use it" and that we shall divide society and in the long run do society an injury rather than help it.

If we are to make provision for the education of under fives, there has to be a determined effort by the Government and the local authorities to see that it is used by children coming from those families which have been less fortunate in the past. If we are to do this it will make a bigger demand on teacher supply than the White Paper has fully understood. My main argument is about teacher supply.

Then there are proposals for in-service training and induction of teachers. I have a few words to say later about the content and quality of that, but I say again that this obviously will make a demand on teacher supply if we say that a teacher is to spend part of her or his time in training. It is usual in the English language to say "his or her", but when we are talking about the teaching profession it is probably right to say "her or his". In-service training will make demands on her or his time which will keep her or him to that extent away from the classroom. I wonder whether sufficient allowance has been made for that in this judgment about the number of teachers to be trained in future.

This is one of the points which distinguishes the two sides of the House. The White Paper gives only a very limited account of service and of the fact that if we want a really well-educated, humane, kind, civilised nation, we have to go out of our way to help those who have been less fortunate in the past. The White Paper goes only a very little way about that. My hon. Friend spelt this out.

If we are really to make an effort to provide better education for those, particularly in some of the nastiest parts of our great cities, this again will make tremendous demands on the supply of teachers. Further, the more successful we are in education policy, the more we can convince both teachers and parents that learning is something worth while, the more young people we shall have staying on at school.

I do not know for certain how one calculates this. What worries me is the decision in paragraph 149 that we need not continue indefinitely. What is the basis of calculation of how many teachers we shall need? I am very worried about this because of a mistake made by a former Conservative Government about 20 years ago when they increased the length of teacher training from two to three years. That in itself was a good thing, but the then Government did not at the same time expand the number of places in training colleges and that meant cutting by about one-third the number of teachers coming out of training colleges. The assurance that was given at that time was that there would not be a need for the greater number of teachers. It reads very oddly indeed in view of our subsequent experiences. But the Conservative Government of that day had at least the excuse that they were supported in the view that it was not necessary to expand the number of places in the training colleges by the rather ill-advised judgment at that time of the National Union of Teachers.

This time, the present Government cannot claim that. One of the things that the NUT is very worried about is whether the provisions for the number of teachers are sufficient. It is a commonsense rule that if any members of a trade union or organised profession think that their numbers should be increased, they are probably right, because their natural temptation would be to say that their numbers ought to be restricted, as a number of professions have done in the past.

Paragraph 60 of the White Paper about in-service training refers to the continued education and training of all teachers at intervals throughout their careers. This point is one not for the Government but for the profession. What does this phrase mean? I hope that it will not mean too much mere pedagogy. After all, a teacher's job is to be in touch with young people. I gather that one should not talk of "boys and girls" nowadays, unless they are about seven or younger. So let us talk of "young men and women".

What is a teacher's main job? After all, young people learn a certain amount by instruction. There is no other way of learning the multiplication tables, so far as I know—but the pupils learn far more by example, and the job of the teacher is really to present the example of what it is like to be a well-educated, kind, humane and civilised human being. That above all is the teacher's job. If the boys and girls look at the teacher and think that there is not much point in being an educated person, they will not bother to be educated. This means that professional training should not be too much pedagogy.

I do not ust the word "pedagogy" slightingly. There are the problems of learning, of how a child's mind works and of how facts are presented. But it is enormously important to realise that a key part of the training of the teacher is to ensure that he has an alert, lively mind in touch with the world as a whole. I have known members of my profession who very dutifully, in their holidays, went off to refresher courses on which they learned about educational method. I sometimes felt that they might have profited more if they had gone to the theatre occasionally or read some books or spread their mental interests generally.

The tragedy, of course, is that sometimes the most conscientious teacher is the one who may make the mistake of concentrating too narrowly on merely being a teacher, whereas the paradox of teaching is that one cannot be a really good teacher unless one is something else as well. One must be an educated human being. I hope that whoever has the job of interpreting this paragraph about continued education and training will pay some attention to that.

That links with my final point, about paragraph 73, which talks of the achievement of a graduate teaching profession. I believe in this very much, but I must confess my doubts about the concept of the BA(Ed). I hope that in time the resources of the country will be such that everybody who goes to teach can be a university graduate and can also have proper professional training as a teacher. I would hope, however, that what those people did when they were getting their university degree was not too narrowly tied to the technique of education. Let them study at university, as any other student does, the range of studies for which they think that they have a real talent, and after that get a sufficient technical training.

As I read this, what seems to be envisaged is that in time the young fellow or the young lady will leave school, when some four years will elapse during which he or she is equipped to be a teacher. I would have thought that that time would best include three years at a university doing the kind of studies for which they have a real gift. Let them take a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree—whatever they think they are best fitted for—and then spend another year on the craft and skill of the honourable job of being a teacher. If from the very beginning of their training the emphasis is "I am going to be a teacher". it will be too narrow.

I have spelled out these points. Some of them are in the Secretary of State's lap. Some, I admit, are for the universities and for the teaching profession. But whatever views are taking about this, we shall not get it on the cheap. The great divide between the two parties is that the Conservative Party, at election after election, has repeatedly talked about cutting public expenditure. That will not work if we want a civilised society. As the whole of human society gets richer, it should be able to spend not only more but proportionately more on the care of the old, the training of the young, the helping of the handicapped and all the things that must be met by public expenditure.

It is the mark of a civilised society that, although the individual standard of life of its members goes up, it will spend a greater proportion on those things which have to be provided by public funds. The claim of education is that not only is this an act of generosity to the young; it is an act of precaution and safeguard for the prosperity of the future.

5.58 p.m.

Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)

First, I apologise to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) for not having been present during their speeches. I hope that they will forgive me or will at least understand that, along with many other hon. Members, I have been involved in the Counter-Inflation Bill for very long hours in Committee. It is going on at the moment but I have escaped. I apologise because it is wrong to take part in this debate without having heard those two speeches. Nevertheless I am keen to do so, but I hope that this point will be understood. However, I will do my right hon. Friend and the hon. Gentleman the honour of reading their speeches as early as possible tomorrow, provided that the Committee has risen, and I am sure that I shall find them very enjoyable.

The Opposition must have had a difficult time drafting their amendment. When one reads the White Paper one can understand why they took as many lines as they did for their amendment. I am sure that they had great difficulties.

I enjoyed the speech of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), with the exception perhaps of the last line. I want to concentrate on the part of his speech which I enjoyed and which I think all hon. Members found interesting. The right hon. Gentleman made the thoughtful point that when nursery school provision is made for three- and four-year-olds it may create more inequality because the children from deprived homes may not take it up as much as others. There will have to be a positive selection to push these children into the provision which is bound to come in a rather slow way, because it cannot be provided overnight.

Perhaps the difficulty will be most acute in the problem areas of inner London and in places such as Liverpool and Manchester. This is where my right hon. Friend is bound to be selective in the placing of her provision, although we hope that it will be universal or as near universal as possible. The White Paper talks of 90 per cent. of four-year-olds and 50 per cent. of three-year-olds within the decade, but there is almost bound to be positive discrimination in favour of the difficult areas.

This is a good time to have the debate because it has given the House and the country time to digest what I believe is a mammoth education package. Not every hon. Member agrees with all of it, but I am sure most people will accept that it is a comprehensive and reforming package. That its reforms are wholly in the direction that everybody would like is a matter for argument in this debate. The White Paper sets the sights for education in the 'eighties in the way that the 1944 Act sets the sights for educational progress in the 'fifties and' sixties, and I believe that it deserves our wholehearted support. The educational world, having had time to digest it, is beginning to realise how important it is.

I believe that my right hon. Friend deserves special support because, in contrast to the conduct of the Labour Government in their economic crisis of 1968 when retrenchment in the educational world was their theme, my right hon. Friend has in a difficult economic crisis managed to get extra resources for this vital service. One may ask how it was possible to achieve this. Certainly her ability and, I suspect, a good deal of her charm was used to woo these extra resources from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In the autumn of 1970, when there were a number of public expenditure cuts, my right hon. Friend came out with flying colours with extra resources—I think the only Minister to do so. The victors then were the primary schools which benefited by the increased programme, and the victors in her battle in the present White Paper will be the three-and four-year-olds, whatever the problems—and there will be many—when these provisions are established. This is a massive reform of which the House of Commons and the Government in particular should be proud.

There has been almost universal acclaim for this part of the White Paper, but I want to concentrate on two other parts of it. The reform which my right hon. Friend has proposed in response to the James Committee's report to increase and to improve the quality of the supply of teachers is welcome. I am particularly delighted to see the provision of in-service training of one term in every seven years. This will be useful to refresh and to revitalise teachers and bring them up to date.

As the right hon. Member for Fulham said, it is important that teachers should have an outside interest. It is important that they should be in touch with the changing world in order to be able to do their job really well. I believe that the lack of such a course has been a fault in the teaching service for a long time, and this provision will be extremely useful. There is a possibility, perhaps, that when the scheme starts some teachers will do one term in seven years abroad, and if that should happen they will derive an added advantage.

I share the right hon. Gentleman's welcome for the move towards an all-graduate teaching profession. The right hon. Gentleman said "graduated", which made me think that we were dealing with pensions, but I think he meant a graduate teaching profession. That is something that we all welcome.

I hope that in future salary negotiations for teachers increasing emphasis will be placed on rewarding those who have higher qualifications. I know that there is a great deal of argument in the NUT about where extra money should go. I have always hoped that it would go to those who had higher qualifications and to those who have been longest in the profession. The introduction of the proposed honours degree is important and a useful step forward for the teaching profession as a whole.

There has for a long time been a difficult problem in the colleges of education and in other ways of training teachers, and that is the inflexibility of courses. It is sometimes difficult for teachers having started on a course to opt out because they wonder what will happen to them thereafter. In this context the two-year diploma of higher education will to a large extent give greater flexibility in the teacher training and will ensure that courses can be taken by those who are sure they want to teach just as much as by those who are not too sure, after two years they can take whichever turning they want.

I hope that this provision will assist the smooth interchange between colleges of education, polytechnics and other further education colleges, and that in the 'eighties or whenever it is, when the numbers in the colleges begin to go down as the need for new teachers decreases, there will be a possibility of merging some col- leges of education into polytechnics. That may be quite useful and I hope that the Department will consider it.

As regards the two-year courses, I hope that the Department will do its best to promote acceptance of this qualification in universities as a whole and amongst employers. If it is to succeed it has to be universally acceptable for the students to take it.

My right hon. Friend has smiled warmly upon the polytechnics, giving them an increase to 335,000 places by the end of the decade and a £46 million building programme in 1973–75. One must in fairness contrast that with the programme of the Labour Government which gave only £7 million. My right hon. Friend is providing a sevenfold increase. She has given the polytechnics a much needed fillip and it has come for them at just the right moment.

The polytechnics may have wondered in which direction they were to go. They may have wondered whether the Government would support them or whether something violent was to happen to them. My right hon. Friend has shown the polytechnics that their future is assured. She has done that with a dramatically expanded building programme, and there is no doubt that buildings will be needed.

I remember being associated in the ILEA with the setting-up of five inner London polytechnics. We were faced with the problem of setting them up on multi-sites and merging colleges several miles apart—in some instances even merging some separated by the river—which was thoroughly unsatisfactory. I hope that there will be enough resources over the decade to ensure that as many polytechnics as possible are centralised on one site. It will be difficult in inner London and other places but it is important.

I was glad to see too in this context that my right hon. Friend has said in the White Paper that the Government intend to reopen negotiations with the associations to talk about future control for looking after polytechnics both at national and regional levels and within the colleges to ensure effective management control over finance. There has been a lot of work done by many of the polytechnics in this connection especially by Dr. Adamson of the Polytechnic of Central London who has written an interesting paper on a unit cost control system for polytechnics. I hope that it will be studied by the Government.

The likelihood of the local education authorities, even the big ones like the ILEA, having the right sort of machinery to control these new important colleges of higher education may be somewhat doubtful. They can control effectively the average type of college that they have had to control until now. With the polytechnics growing and widening their work, there is some doubt whether they can do it in the future. I believe that it can be done by negotiation, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will continue her negotiations with a view to getting the right structure. She has said that the polytechnics will grow and that she will provide the money. That is good. What she has now to do is to carry on these negotiations and set the framework for controlling the polytechnics right into the future.

The types of courses are very important. It is not enough to supply more higher education. It is imperative to secure adequate quality and the needs of students and of society as a whole. It is vitally important to provide the right form of higher education. It is important also that industry and commerce, especially in terms of the polytechnics, should play an active part as they are doing at the moment. Those responsible for recruiting new graduates and others into industry must help by providing more careers assistance. This has been a gap in the polytechnic sector where not enough help was given to students to plan their careers. I hope that it may be possible in the future.

I began my speech by saying how difficult the Opposition must have found it to draw up an amendment opposing the White Paper. I am delighted to welcome the White Paper not only because I believe it is an exciting framework for the future of education as a whole but because it will be seen to be a milestone which the country will remember for years to come.

6.13 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale)

The hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Grylls) will forgive me if I do not follow his line of argument too closely. My own interest in education and in the White Paper is concerned more with the nursery, primary and secondary levels of education than with higher education. There is much in the White Paper to commend it, especially that part relating to nursery education. It is gratifying that the Government's commitment to it is now a wholehearted one and while, as the amendment points out, the provision is likely to be inadequate to meet the real need, none the less it is a considerable step forward.

I have heard a number of references to deprivation. However, I make the point in passing that in education terms deprivation does not necessarily always spring from economic deprivation. If the Opposition ever again become the Government, I hope that they will bear that point in mind.

Since the White Paper makes special reference to nursery classes I draw attention to paragraph 21 which calls attention to the need for close contact with other local authority departments. I believe that that is the sensible way and that it is clearly not sensible for two different departments to be running services of this kind for the same age ranges. It is obviously much better for the same centre to provide for normal nursery hours on either a full-time or a part-time basis and for that same centre to provide for the complete working day. I believe that this is done at the Millfields School in Coventry. I hope that the right hon. Lady will look seriously at that possibility with her ministerial colleagues in other Departments.

It is arguable that education should take over children at the age of three with the social services operating up to that age. I am sure that the education service would not wish to concern itself with children below the age of two. However the trouble is that often it is necessary to centralise the 0 to 3-year-old services in an area. This happens now and the net result is that for some single-parent families the struggle to get children to nursery schools when the mothers go out to work is so great that ultimately it defeats them.

The difficulty is that the planned development of nursery classes attached to primary schools, as the White Paper proposes, makes the all-in provision much more difficult. Therefore I ask whether it is not possible to provide in each local authority area—as now exists and not as will exist in the new local government set-up—a nursery school to include all-in provision to cover the full working day and to provide not just for the children of working mothers but for children who for social reasons ought to be there full-time—in other words the 15 per cent. mentioned by Plowden and the White Paper. The part-timers could all go to nursery classes attached to primary schools. But I argue that in addition to the nursery classes there should be centres covering full-time nursery education and, in addition, day nurseries allowing for the full working day to be covered as well. I hope that nothing in the White Paper indicates that schemes such as the one in Coventry will be precluded in the future.

The problem is that whatever is done in this connection has some disadvantages. However I think that the suggestion which I have made is probably the one with the fewest problems attaching to it. I hope that progress will be made along these lines. I accept that there are arguments about whether the 15 per cent. provision for full-time education is sufficient. I doubt it. But at any rate the White Paper envisages a start being made which in itself is to be commended.

While I am dealing with nursery education, one omission from the White Papers concerns the time of a child starting school. The present arrangement whereby a child must by law attend school by the beginning of the term after which he reaches the age of five creates a problem in many areas in that some children must begin at Christmas and others at Easter, with the result that in effect places have to be found for them in the preceding September. This is wasteful expenditure. The Plowden Committee recommended that all children should begin full-time attendance at school in the September following their fifth birthdays, having the right to part-time education in the three-plus and four-plus years. I think that that is a very good idea nationally, though in passing I might say that it would create difficulties in my constituency where we have a great deal of pre-school education already. In fact 80 per cent. of the children in my constituency attend school from the age of four. As chairman of the education committee which implemented that, I am very proud to say as much.

Looking at the position nationally, however, I think it would be a tremendous advance to bring in one starting day for all children attaining the age of five in the next education year. The pattern then would be for part-time nursery classes attached to primary schools for the three- and four-plus, with full-time education starting at five-plus, and full-time nursery schools covering the full working day span during the three- and four-plus years. I hope that the Minister will look into that possibility.

Still on nursery schools, the White Paper envisages increases in staff. Undoubtedly there will need to be a development of the NNEB courses. I am sure the Minister will find that colleges are more than willing to arrange such courses.

I ask the Minister to consider the implementation or introduction of special career grades for nursery school teachers. Rochdale has four nursery schools. The present method of allocating points according to the ages of the children means that there are few career prospects for nursery school teachers as they are either teachers on the staff of a nursery school or head teachers and there is very little scope in between. As long as we maintain the present points system in nursery education—I am not arguing about this concept as a scheme—a career structure for nursery school teachers will be very difficult.

I particularly welcome the paragraph in the White Paper headed "The Rôle of Parents." One hon. Gentleman on the Government side referred to this area earlier. I hope that the Minister will give a wider interpretation to the rôle of parents than is envisaged in the White Paper. For example, I hope that she will urge and, if possible, even instruct local authorities that parents shall by right be represented on all boards of governors and managers of nursery, primary and secondary schools. This has already been done in my constituency. We have had all the articles of government of both primary and secondary schools altered, again I say with modesty, while I was chairman of the education committee. On every board of governors in my constituency we have serving as governors or managers with full rights representatives of parents elected directly by the parents within the schools. That applies to every school in my constituency. I hope that a similar provision might be possible throughout the country.

Before leaving nursery education, I hope that the Minister will be more specific about the rôle of playgroups. I agree, and the White Paper states, that they perform an excellent service. I hope that the Government will find it possible not to urge, as is envisaged in the White Paper, but to instruct local authorities, first, that playgroups should be properly organised and, secondly, that they shall make available the finance to enable them to be properly organised.

As regards capital investment in primary and secondary schools, the backlog has to be made up. This is part of the Opposition's amendment. It appears to me that the programme envisaged is not sufficient to do the job. If prices of land and building continue to rise at their present rate—local authorities often have to buy land to build schools—the growth rate envisaged would represent an overall reduction in progress. We cannot accept that as a wise investment policy. When we build schools we invest in the future.

I welcome the assurance in the White Paper about the provision for the replacement and renewal of special schools. That is to be commended. Any society which neglects the handicapped is unworthy to be called civilised. I hope that need will be as great a criteria in providing special schools as availability and provision of finance.

I regret that the White Paper makes no reference to denominational aided schools. I hope that the ultimate Bill will do so. These schools play a major rôle in our educational pattern. I have a great regard for the work they do. However, whatever one's view of aided schools, whether for or against, it would be impossible for our education service to continue without the facilities they provide. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will seriously consider at the appropriate time the possibility of increasing the percentage allowed to diocesan bodies above the 80 per cent. now applicable for repairs, maintenance and capital costs. The 20 per cent. that these bodies have to find is an increasing amount in real figures as opposed to percentages. A 5 per cent. or 10 per cent. increase to 85 per cent. or 90 per cent. would be a fair, realistic and generous gesture.

I have no personal axe to grind. I am an active member of the Unitarian Church, but I take the view that a child is a child whether he be agnostic, Unitarian, Quaker, Church of England, Roman Catholic or anything else and that his education is of paramount importance. So long as we have aided schools, we should ensure that lack of finance by the aiding body is not a material factor in impeding a child's educational progress.

I turn now to in-service training. The tragedy is that the teachers who are most likely to be in need of in-service training are those who are usually least anxious to go for training. I accept that in the early years there is little we can do about that, since it would be virtually impossible to compel the unwilling to go at the same time as the willing were clamouring to go but could not get in. However, when the scheme has been in operation for some years it might be possible to introduce an element of compulsion. One possible way would be for local education authorities to make it plain that they would not consider for promotion any teacher who had not taken refresher courses regularly every seven years. Even then, however, the problem would not be solved because by the time a teacher had reached the age of 50, he or she would be unlikely to obtain promotion. Yet it is at that very point that such teachers most need a refresher course. Possibly at that point compulsion would be acceptable.

The section in the White Paper on higher education strikes me as being extremely sensible. One section to which reference has not been made concerns people receiving higher education in universities and establishments nearer to their homes than is the case at present. I accept that there are people who criticise the doctrine that young people should go to universities and colleges nearer to their homes, but I believe it is a wise move within the White Paper. Those who always thought that it was good for young people to go away from home did so on the assumption that the accommodation they were likely to occupy was satisfactory, whereas we know that large numbers of young people are in "digs" which are far from satisfactory and, indeed, in some cases virtually squalid. Therefore, welcome that particular section.

There appears to be one other minor omission from the White Paper. I can find nothing in it—although in my inexperience in these matters I may have missed it—about the alteration in the law to allow pupils still within the compulsory school age to participate in work in industry. Some time ago the Government promised local authorities that they would deal with this matter when the raising of the school leaving age took effect, but I have seen nothing about it yet, nor has the chief education officer in my authority.

Mrs. Thatcher

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman on that specific point. We are hoping to bring forward legislation on that one point this Session.

Mr. Smith

I am grateful for the right hon. Lady's intervention and I am delighted to hear it. Many of us believe that during the last year of school it should be possible to give people industrial experience, but the present barriers of having to provide insurance against accident and things of that kind make it difficult to do so as the law stands. I hope that the points which have been omitted can be considered and included in future legislation.

With regard to tonight's vote, despite everything I have said I feel that I must support the amendment because of the omissions outlined in the amendment and because of the points I have explained. I still believe, however, there is a great deal to commend the White Paper. Therefore, I hope that the Government will feel that some of us who go through the Opposition Lobby tonight will not do so for any purely critical reasons about what might be done which has not been done or with the feeling that we must score a point against the Government. I find myself in the difficult position that I agree with the words of the amendment rather than with the spirit in which it is moved We must always press for increased educational expenditure and therefore we must in honour support the amendment. At the same time I hope that the right hon. Lady and the Government will accept that I and my colleagues believe that the White Paper is basically to be commended.

6.32 p.m.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

I hope that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cyril Smith) will forgive me if I do not take up his remarks, because I want to deal with a particular category of deprived children in my constituency.

About 18 months ago I received a deputation of parents of mentally handicapped children who complained to me about the conditions and circumstances in which their children were being schooled in a village hall in my constituency. I was horrified at the stories that were unfolded and I asked the parents to go away and to put down on paper the factual situation setting out all the circumstances and conditions at that school. I was no less appalled when I received their written report which emphasised the facts they had outlined. I immediately thought that something must be done about the situation.

I will not bore the House by relating all the details of what was disclosed. Suffice it to say that neither the building nor the facilities provided would be remotely acceptable for the housing and education of normal children. I submit that we must be no less critical in the standards we require and demand for mentally subnormal children as for those who are in good bodily and mental health. We must not accept that their tragic infirmities in some way justify their being housed and taught under conditions which, judged by all civilised standards, would be regarded as quite intolerable and which, apart from being unacceptable to the children, impose strains on the parents and make almost impossible the task of the dedicated people charged with the duty of caring for and teaching these children.

I am sure my right hon. Friend appreciates that most of the parents of these children pay very great tribute to the dedication of the people who have charge of these children. I am sure that this alone should lead to our giving them better circumstances in which to do the job.

I should like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend to whom I wrote about this matter and attached the parents' report. She initiated immediate inquiries into the circumstances that were disclosed. It was obvious how great was her concern because there were quick and substantial improvements, but she evidently concluded—and I agree with her entirely—that the standards at that village school could never be really acceptable. She took the initiative of ensuring that a new custom-built school should be built to replace the school about which I have complained. She also provided the blueprint for the Kent County Council indicating the standards of building and facilities in the new school.

My experience has caused me considerable alarm and concern about the future treatment of these children. I feel that this case also enlightened my right hon. Friend, and I was greatly encouraged to hear her remarks about her intention to ensure that there is an improvement in this service. However, I cannot help wondering how many other mentally handicapped children there are who are housed and schooled in circumstances similar to those which I so greatly deplored in my constituency. I have every confidence that my right hon. Friend will give urgent attention to the provision of better facilities for the schooling of these children.

We know that they were first brought within the scope of the educational system in 1971. The size of the problem is illustrated by the fact that there are still many mentally handicapped children who even today are not receiving any education whatever. I hope that my right hon. Friend will do everything she possibly can to insist not only that local education authorities bring these children who are not now receiving schooling quickly into the educational system but on their being schooled in decent and acceptable conditions.

6.38 p.m.

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

To take up a point made by the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), I agree entirely that the vast majority of young people in my constituency receive no education whatever beyond the compulsory school leaving age. If the hon. Member takes care to read the White Paper carefully, he will find that they will not get a penny piece of the money which is now to be spent.

It must be said that the White Paper has received a good Press. The main reason is its emphasis on nursery education. I can confirm that this is a popular subject because I have in my constituency a body entitled the East Newcastle Action Group which undertook a special survey of the demand among working-class mothers for nursery education, a copy of which I sent to the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) did tonight what needed doing: a dull, dry job of analysing the statistics, the facts and the expenditure. My hon. Friend was on the ball. It was he who was looking at the figures for the next 10 years and working out what they meant. If the Secretary of State did not like what he said, she will like even less what I am going to say.

First I deal with teacher supply. It seems astonishing, particularly with the development of nursery education, that so little has been said, particularly in the Press, about the failure of the White Paper to give any basis for its estimates on the future demand for teachers. The fact of not knowing what the future demand for teachers will be, coupled with the Government's failure to provide for an appreciably higher rate of expenditure on education, to which my hon. Friend referred, will have the effect of inhibiting and restricting all the nice-sounding phrases and promises that get the headlines in the newspapers but which will in future have to be paid for.

The White Paper persists in arguing teacher supply on the basis of the overall pupil-teacher ratio. Overall ratios can conceal grossly over-sized classes especially when the number of pupils staying on at school at 16 is not yet known. The Secretary of State has refused to accept what most educational opinion regards as entirely reasonable and far from generous: a starting objective of classes of a maximum size of 30—and there must be constituencies which would be a lot happier if they could reduce the size of their classes to 40, let alone 30, in primary as well as secondary schools.

The fact that the White Paper does not calculate these requirements means that there is a big gap in it. It has led the right hon. Lady to underestimate by 60,000. according to the National Union of Teachers, the number of teachers needed simply to achieve a satisfactory basic staffing standard. The Government have considerably underestimated other things as well. What will be the increased teaching requirement arising from nursery education? What will be the subsequent effect of the development of nursery education on the demand for places beyond the school leaving age? That is a longer-term objective.

The Government have failed to appreciate fully the impact of their proposals for in-service training and the induction of teachers, quite apart from the demand for teachers which will be generated automatically by the expansion in neglected areas such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where slowly we are trying to break through and keen children at school and provide education for those who leave school early on the basis of compulsory day release. The White Paper has practically nothing to say about these things. It is about such things—the interests of working-class children—that Labour Members of Parliament care, whatever other hon. Members may or may not care about. The failure to make proper provision for teacher supply is another weakness in the White Paper, a failure illustrated by the inadequate expenditure target.

Not long ago a member of the Conservative Party well known in educational circles, Dr. Kathleen 011erenshaw, with whom I disagree but for whom I have a great deal of respect, estimated that by 1980 existing education policies would bring expenditure up to approximately £4,000 million.

The White Paper had the advantage of doing the calculation later than Dr. 011erenshaw and therefore it could update the figure, taking into account current inflationary tendences. Yet the White Paper produced a figure of only £3,120 million by 1981–82. The Secretary of State can bandy figures as much as she likes with my hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook, but if when she goes home tonight she burns the midnight oil she will find that those who know the facts of current educational developments believe that Dr. Ollerenshaw is nearer to the truth than is the right hon. Lady.

Mrs. Thatcher

The two figures are simply not comparable. The education White Paper does not set out to cover all education expenditure. It specifies what it covers—a part of the total. Moreover the White Paper deals only with England and Wales. The hon. Member must limit the nonsense he is talking.

Mr. Rhodes

The right hon. Lady may call what I say nonsense, but I have had consultations with the National Union of Teachers and it calculates the figure to be £4,000 million and it is calculated exactly on the basis of the estimates in the White Paper. The Secretary of State is now saying that the NUT is led by people whose heads are full of nonsense. You may attack them how you like, but there are people on the NUT executive who know more about education than you know will ever know.

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Rhodes

It was the right hon. Lady who started using the word "nonsense". I did not use the word. I have always had the deepest respect for the right hon. Lady, but if she wants to bandy words with me on that kind of basis I will bandy words with her any time she likes.

I deplore the Government's intention to reduce the rate of growth in higher education and to cut the anticipated increase in the number of university places. I share the disquiet of the profession, in particular the disquiet of the NUT, over the way the White Paper deals with the size of the teaching force required in the future. The figures given in sections 5 and 17 need to be challenged, but it is difficult to make specific criticisms.

If the Secretary of State is interested in nonsense, I will ask a few nonsensical questions. There is an absence of detailed information about the basis on which the Department is basing its assumptions. We need to know particularly the proposed input figures for the profession from 1974 to 1981. We need to know too the assumptions on which the Department has based its calculations. We need to know the proportion of graduates following consecutive courses to students following concurrent courses. These questions have been put to the Department. I have written to it about many of these matters and have received only stonewalling answers.

They are not figures which have been calculated on a scientific basis. If they have been I shall be delighted to have them presented and I shall withdraw and apologise for what I have said. If the Government come clean on this kind of calculation we can start to make calculations of cost that might begin to make sense. At the moment, however, they roam around the confines of the Department of Education and Science as if they were some kind of State secret that perhaps our potential enemies should not have.

Then there is the division of student places among the various types of institution. Paragraph 120 gives a figure of 335,000 for the non-university higher education sector in England and Wales. Many of us doubt whether this global figure is large enough, especially as university numbers are to be held at 375,000. It clearly represents a reduction in the total number of students expected to be qualified by having two A-levels by 1981 when compared with a forecast from practically every leading educational statistician in the country and by many others who have worked out the figures very carefully. If the Secretary of State says that is nonsense, so also are the figures calculated by her own statisticians in the Department.

Paragraph 142 of the White Paper allocates 180,000 of the 335,000 places to the polytechnics, which will give them an average size of about 6,000. The wording of paragraph 142 seems to suggest that the polytechnics are to be allowed to expand to the total extent of their own development plans. I draw the attention of the House here to the shabby treatment handed out to the colleges of education. It seems thoroughly unjust that the polytechnics were invited to submit development plans a year or so ago, when the colleges of education were "on ice", waiting for James and then waiting for the White Paper. The colleges of education have not been afforded the same opportunity until now, when most of the cake has already been shared out.

Paragraph 144, for example, puts the non-polytechnic advanced further education places in the public sector at 155,000 by 1981. Of these, 138,000 already exist in advanced further education colleges. It follows that the net expansion can be only 17,000, to be divided between all advanced further education colleges and colleges of education.

That is pretty shabby treatment of the colleges of education. In the 1960s these colleges responded magnificently to the Government's call to meet the demands of the nation. But now, in relation to the whole higher education exercise, that paltry figure of 17,000 will be inadequate to enable many colleges of education to become, or to remain, viable higher education institutions.

It will be suggested perhaps that they should amalgamate and join the nearest polytechnic. In my constituency the nearest polytechnic is only a mile away. But the nearest hall of residence of the university is only five yards away. If people are so keen on amalgamation, on economies of scale, on education precincts, and the rest, let them continue the logic of that argument in terms of saving money, in terms of sharing staff, sharing refectories, sharing libraries and sharing the fruits of education among the universities, the colleges of education, the technical colleges, the marine colleges and the rest.

Someone in the Socialist Educational Association wrote the other day that the Labour Party's Green Paper on Higher Education —I had the honour of chairing and being the principal spokesman for the group which produced it—was merely a continuation of the Secretary of State's White Paper. She deserves congratulation that, since we spent five years working on our Green Paper before she started working on her White Paper.

In fact, our Green Paper is the opposite of the right hon. Lady's White Paper, because the basic assumption in the White Paper is an elitist philosophy. It is not concerned with the mass of the children who have no education whatever beyond school. Our Green Paper, on the other hand, calls for compulsory higher education for those who have left school—compulsory, that is, on the employer. In all the circumstances, the position of the colleges of education is extremely confusing.

I have not raised the question of the cut-back in the development of the universities, the cut-back in the provision which universities have in both staffing and facilities. My only comment there is that recent figures have shown that the average of the age group nationally going to university is 4.9 per cent., and for the London area it is 7.8 per cent. For the Northern Region it is 3.8 per cent. and in my constituency, according to the calculations I have been able to make, it is even less.

If there is to be a pull-back in the growth of the universities and the growth of colleges of education, and if there is to be relatively small development in the polytechnics in terms of the overall provision of higher education—in other words, not meeting the number of people qualified with two A-levels—what is in it for the North East? For the North East it means increasing competition in an area where we already have the difficulty of persuading children to stay on at school in the first place.

When one looks behind all the verbiage and the nice-sounding phrases, one sees that the right hon. Lady's programme is not as good as it ought to be. It has been calculated that there should be 835,000 people in higher education by the end of the decade. Some put the target as high as 1 million. Because of the raising of the school leaving age, the growth of comprehensive schools, the rising demand for adult education and the growing desire for education for women—who are under-represented in higher education at present—some people say that the target should be 1 million. But the Government have not only reduced their own departmental estimates to 835,000; they have come down to 750,000 by 1981, a shortfall of 85,000.

I say, therefore, that if one looks carefully behind the figures, projecting forward 10 years ahead in terms of the cost of education, this is a reactionary document. and those newspapers which welcomed it because of the nice phrases—I welcome them too; I welcome what is said about nursery education only too much—have missed the main point, which was made from our Front Bench.

It is estimated that 39.5 per cent. of all full-time students in further and higher education last year were women. For 1981 the latest departmental calculations throw up a figure of 37.7 per cent. Thus the number of women enjoying full-time education a decade from now will have fallen, in spite of all the social pressures. What kind of a representative of "women's lib" is the right hon. Lady when her own figures show a fall in the number of women enjoying higher education facilities in 1981?

Mr. Winterton

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rhodes

Other hon. Members want to speak, and my Whips have told me to keep it short.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

What about me? I want to know—

Mr. Rhodes

The last time I gave way to the hon. Lady she made some very rude remarks, and I do not intend to give way now.

I have known the right hon. Lady for many years, from the days when I was a PPS at housing and she was a leading figure in housing matters on the Tory Opposition benches. I appreciate her charm, I appreciate her grace and I appreciate her intellect—there is no doubt about that—but behind her document is the cold, hard hand of the Treasury, and she knows it.

6.59 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) described the difficulties in his constituency arising from the low proportion of the age group who either stayed on at school or went into higher education. He should be especially grateful to this Government for they, unlike his own, stuck to their pledge to raise the school leaving age. One of the big reasons for that was the wish to remove the disparity between the North and the South. It is my hope, as well as his, that the introduction of nursery education will help in that regard, too.

I would not agree with the hon. Gentleman, however, when he said that it was nursery education that alone caused the White Paper to get such a good Press. I recommend him to look back to the Guardian of 7th December, which said: The White Paper is sensibly progressive. Would Labour, with the same financial constraints, have done much better than this? Mrs. Thatcher has produced an encouraging White Paper. What is more, she has talked it safely through the Treasury at a time when Whitehall is wielding its axe. This is an achievement. I find myself in total agreement with the Guardian. What pleases me is that the relative freedom from the domination of numbers which has come about has enabled the education programme not only to continue to expand but to turn to new fields and go for quality and the foundations.

The introduction of nursery education naturally gives the greatest pleasure to those hon. Members who have urged it over many years. The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renee Short) has led a campaign, in which I had the pleasure of assisting, and we are extremely pleased that this should have come about.

It is important to concentrate on the urban areas and to see that the children who are deprived have a proper degree of priority. That has been shown by the results of research. I commend my right hon. Friend for the fact that she founds her education advance upon research. It was too often the practice of the Labour Government to leap before they looked, and then to try to make research justify earlier decisions. Research has shown the advantage of nursery education and the importance, for educational reasons, of bringing parents into it. This was discovered by the preschool playgroups, which naturally had to make great use of parents. It was confirmed by the action research of people such as Dr. Halsey working in the deprived areas.

Here I agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). I should like to see a somewhat higher ratio of teachers in the deprived areas, because research has also shown that parental response is slightly more backward there, which is explicable for the reasons put forward by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart). A higher teacher ratio in those areas would enable a good deal of the retrieval work necessary to be done, and, for example, would enable reluctant parents to be encouraged to join in with their children. I hope that guidance will be given in that way to identify those families whose children would benefit from nursery education.

The hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that the estimate of 15 per cent. full- time places was low. We do not know that. Fashion and talking may make demand exceed that figure. But it is dangerous to suppose that we should just continue providing full-time nursery school places, except on educational grounds. It may be that mothers wanting to work would like their children to go into whole-time nursery education. This in itself is not a sufficient reason. If this tendency develops, I hope that Governments, employers and trade unions will consider altering the pattern of female employment to enable mothers to take part-time employment and spend part of the day with their children.

Moreover, if this demand is there, there is no reason why industry should not make some provision outside the education budget. Again, I would hope that there would be more provision of nursery centres so that grouped together would be the educational, health and other provisions for the under fives and their parents.

I am glad that the energy and initiative of the pre-school playgroups is to be used. I am wondering what guidance will be given to local education authorities in linking up fee-paying playgroups—as many of them are—with the maintained nursery classes. What system of inspection and guidance to monitor the progress made and to collect and disseminate the best practices can we hope for? What check will there be on the effectiveness of the partnership between the education and health services, not just in Whitehall but right down through the reorganised local authorities?

In all, I am very glad that the emphasis is not on total professionalism but upon voluntary response led by the professions. This will produce much the best educational and social results.

Turning to the schools, again going for the foundations must continue to be right. There were well over 7,000 pre-1903 schools needing reorganisation or replacement in January 1971—a great many of which seemed to be in my constituency. Therefore, I, like any other Member, hope for more and more provision. But I also accept that improvements to secondary schools are needed; just as urgently in any one school, perhaps, but in total the scale is nothing like so great. Therefore, it seemed that the improvement programme for primary schools had to bite for some years before one could turn, as my right hon. Friend now is turning, to the secondary school improvement programme. Again, that is not all needed in urban areas. I have in my constituency sixth formers working in rusty Nissen huts through which I could put my foot with no great difficulty. Therefore, again one is always hoping.

It is a truism of education that most of all depends on the quality of teachers. Here I am particularly interested in the suggestion coming from James about the institution of a diploma in higher education. It was decried at first because it was thought to be specifically meant for teachers, and teachers only. Nothing could be more false. The smear was that it was higher education on the cheap. I have always wondered why one should sneer at the idea of having anything more cheaply rather than more expensively. But the sneer was unjustified, because James made it perfectly clear, and the White Paper confirms it, that the diploma in higher education is to be of full academic quality, in both entry qualifications and the hallmarking of its achievement. I am delighted that the CNAA has offered to do that, and I hope that more universities will be prepared to join in in validating diplomas of higher education, and in reconstructing university degree courses which could be founded upon the diploma.

It seems that this diploma, provided that its quality is maintained, could act as a passport not only to enable young people to have the terminal qualification, if that is as far as they wish to go, but to enable them to travel across the different lines in higher education, from binary to the university sector, perhaps, or, after a delay for a period of employment, to top it up with some degree course which is, perhaps, specially relevant to their chosen employment. Above all, it enables young people to have a period at university if they wish and not be faced with the dilemma of going on for the full three years when perhaps their enthusiasm for academic learnings is waning or they are eager to go out into the world. At present they have to drop out or carry on for the full three years. To be able to obtain the diploma without completing the whole three years is an admirable option.

Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)

Will not the success or failure of the new diploma in higher education depend almost entirely on its acceptability by the employers?

Mr. Hill

I go further. It will obviously depend on the employers, and I hope that we can all work on them. But it will also depend on how acceptable the diploma is to the professions. I should like to see them being prepared to restructure their professional training so that it can follow on from the diploma in higher education.

The White Paper lays down the framework for the next 10 years. Its keynotes are variety, quality and freedom. Conservatives have always believed in diversity of educational provision, because the progress made in using educational opportunity depends on such varying factors. It depends not only on ability but on motivation and energy, which differ very much between people but also within individuals. The tempo at which a person works will vary during his lifetime. Therefore, we must always provide for different rates of progress, as the late developer is one of the best products of any education system and automatically, almost by definition, is an extra-valuable member of society.

I hope that we shall maintain many routes towards the top, open to all who want to travel as far as their abilities and perseverance can take them, as Lord Boyle once said. Conservatives may not talk as big about education, but we have consistently done rather more than our opponents. For that reason I have pleasure in supporting my right hon. Friend in noting the White Paper—indeed, I approve it—and rejecting the amendment.

7.13 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

The hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) talked about the White Paper introducing nursery education. It does nothing of the kind. In 1960 a Conservative Government put the brakes on nursery education, stopping local authorities from making progress. The Labour Government took them off to some extent, with their urban programme, and introduced a number of nursery classes and nursery schools in the areas where they were most needed.

The White Paper takes the brakes off a bit more, and I welcome that, but it does not put the accelerator on very much. I am sure that if local authorities had been left to themselves for the past 13 years they would have achieved a great deal of the programme without any encouragement from the central authority.

In paragraph 5 of the White Paper the Secretary of State says: In the 1970s the pressures will not be so intense. She there admits frankly that she and her successors will not have the problem of coping with the tremendous increase in numbers that her predecessors in both the Labour and Conservative Governments had. She also says: Choices of a new kind can therefore be made". It is a pity that the choices of the 1970 White Paper on public expenditure were made. They were described as new policies for public spending. There were the school milk cuts, the increased charges for school meals, and the disincentives to further education, particularly in areas where further education in all its aspects is most needed.

As the Secretary of State herself said, the White Paper we are debating concerns only three-quarters of education. That is a great pity. If the intention was to look at education for the next 10 years the Government should have done that, and not picked five distinct proposals.

The gaps in the White Paper worry me very much. Further education is hardly considered, but in the priority areas the need is not only for nursery education but for further education. Vital investment and work are needed there for post-16 education.

I welcome two of the choices the right hon. Lady has made. I have been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of her decision to raise the school leaving age, which she made some time ago. There is opposition on her own benches to that. Raising the school leaving age will help areas like the North-East and North-West, and give children opportunities that they have been denied through lack of resources or lack of parental interest.

When there have been arguments about nursery education and the raising of the school leaving age, teachers and others have always talked about them as if they were alternatives, but in the White Paper we get both. Too often in education we discuss progressive measures that ate regarded as alternatives. It was argued that without a cut in school milk and meals we could not have an increase in the primary school programme. I have heard that sort of argument dozens of times. If the required amount is spent on education, all that is needed can be done.

Extension of nursery education brings certain problems to the priority areas. I understand that the Secretary of State has already sent a circular to local authorities asking for their co-operation, particularly in priority areas. But the authorities face a monitoring of their rates, because they are doing the other good things that affect the children—the improvement of social service departments and so on. I hope that the Secretary of State will take part in the monitoring and keep a close watch on the Department of the Environment and the Treasury, because there is a danger that authorities will be discouraged from taking advantage of the opportunity she is giving them on nursery education and will also make cuts elsewhere.

Some of the schools in the areas that I hope will be the first to be affected by the extension of nursery education are those where the staff have been waiting to convert rooms to libraries, staff rooms and so on. Some teachers now fear that instead of having their libraries and staff rooms—facilities that the new schools have—they will be told that those rooms must be used for the nursery classes. I hope that local authorities will bear in mind that there are other demands on schools in such areas besides nursery education, and that additional accommodation should be provided by building.

Some of the areas have declining populations, including declining school populations, and have been receiving less and less in minor works allocations. For example, the minor works allocation of the city of Manchester for the next two years is halved. The allocation was to be used for the kind of improvements I have been describing. I hope that the Secretary of State will reconsider the matter and look into whether the counting of heads is the only way to allocate funds for minor works.

The chapter on recurrent expenditure in the schools has not had a great deal of mention in the Press. We on the political side of education tend to be obsessed with school building programmes, numbers of teachers and teachers' pay, but other vital items of recurrent expenditure are often the ones to be cut when there is a squeeze or freeze. The White Paper rightly points out that 70 per cent. Of the running costs, the recurrent expenditure, consists of teachers' pay. Half of the rest goes on the upkeep of grounds and schools, and a quarter to the pay of staff employed. That does not leave much for expenditure on textbooks, library books and school stationery, which account for about 4 per cent. of the total yearly running costs. When educational equipment is added the cost is another per cent. The White Paper skips from percentages to vulgar fractions and I have tried to convert the figures.

A tremendous amount could be done for education by the extension of libraries, educational equipment and so on. The White Paper recognises this to some extent. It says: In addition there is a tendency for teaching equipment and materials to become more elaborate and sophisticated. All these factors tend to lead to a higher level of non-teaching costs.… Expenditure per head on books, while varying considerably among authorities, has on average been below what is recommended by the Association of Education Committees as necessary to achieve a good standard of provision. The Government urge local authorities to get busy on this, and the White Paper goes on to say that all these can be achieved—the highly technical equipment, additional non-teaching staff and higher expenditure on books—with a rise in expenditure of 3 per cent per annum. I simply do not believe it.

The right hon. Lady spoke at the North of England Education Conference early in the year, and other speakers spoke on successive days. I am sorry that she was not able to stay to hear some of them and to see the audience's reaction when Dr. Briault, of the Inner London Education Authority, said what his authority spent on resources and how it used them. The ILEA spends about double what many local authorities spend, and the proportion of its non-teaching technical staff is three times as many as in some local authorities. If we can increase the £15 million which is spent on these items over the whole country it will make a tremendous difference.

Secondary education is one of the gaps in the White Paper. The Times Educational Supplement on 15th December, just after publication of the White Paper. summed it up: The folly of allowing the prescent contradictory principle-less policies to continue indefinitely must be obvious as secondary education in one area after another gets into an unholy mess. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will appreciate that this is what is happening in secondary education without a firm lead from central Government.

I appeal to the Secretary of State to say where she stands on comprehensive reorganisation and to say where she thinks secondary education, including the direct grant schools, independent schools and comprehensive schools, should be in 1981. When the 1944 Education Bill was being debated, one of her predecessors, Lord Butler, said that it was his intention to lead and not to follow.

I appreciate the right hon. Lady's difficulties in that her party is very much divided on this, not only in the House but in the country, and that there is a great deal of difference of opinion in her party about the future of secondary school reorganisation. But she can do a great deal for secondary education by firmly accepting what the Prime Minister accepted before the General Election that there must be a reasonably rapid approach to a fully comprehensive system. I urge the Secretary of State to fill in the gaps in the White Paper in the fields of secondary education, the financial provision for nursery schools and further and adult education.

7.24 p.m.

Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Middleton and Prestwich)

The Opposition's approach to the debate can be likened unto the man who, having had a meal put in front of him which he would not have been able to cook for himself, proceeded to complain bitterly while eating every course.

The words of the amendment are extravagant when compared with the inadequacies of the Labour Government's performance when in office. There is no end to educational needs and it is, therefore, easy to criticise. Any teacher-pupil ratio, for example, can be said to be inadequate. There can always be something better, there can always be more spent on any sector of education and there can always be new needs devised on which money should be spent. One has to relate what is put forward in the White Paper to what is reasonably possible, and I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has done extremely well. That that is not simply a partisan opinion is clear from the references to the White Paper which have appeared in the Press. My comments will not, therefore, be of a fundamentally critical nature. I genuinely welcome the White Paper and shall support it in the Lobby, but I wish to stress certain points to my right hon. Friend.

I have always been somewhat sceptical about how fast we should go in spending money on pre-school education. There are still serious problems in primary education both of buildings and staffing. I have always feared that any big expansion of nursery education might be at the expense of the existing infant and primary school sector. But I think the time has now come when expansion can proceed.

The earlier a child is brought into the educational sphere, the earlier will be recognised any symptoms of handicap that might be present. If this possibility is recognised and accepted by the Government, I hope that there will also be acceptance of the need for skilled people able to deal with these handicaps once they have been discovered. In my part of the country—and other hon. Members can testify to this from their own experience—there is a shortage of speech therapists. It is no good identifying this need in a child at the age of 3-plus only to find that nothing can be done about it.

If pre-school education is to be expanded, in what form should it be expanded? I believe it is right, as the White Paper says, that a nursery class in an existing school is a better method than a separate nursery school. Teachers to whom I have spoken say that it is easier to take a child from a nursery class within an existing school than from a nursery school when a child at a fairly tender age has to undergo a change of surroundings. Teachers also say that some of the children they find most difficult to deal with in reception classes are those who have come from nursery schools. This reinforces the view which has been expressed to me by teachers that the nursery class approach is the better one.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cyril Smith) and my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) have spoken about the preschool playgroup. I stress the good work that has been done by the Pre-School Playgroup Association. I recognise that a playgroup is not an expedient to help the mother who wants to go out to work to get her child off her hands. It performs an extremely important social and educational purpose. I hope that well-established pre-school playgroups will be allowed to continue to play an important rôle in nursery education. Many have a ready corps of helpers who should be harnessed to our educational programme. I am somewhat worried about how the decisions are to be made on the future of pre-school playgroups. At what level will they be made? How will they be made?

The White Paper talks of bringing some pre-school playgroups into the system and then of pre-school playgroups existing alongside an expanding system of nursery education. Exactly what is intended? What does my right hon. Friend think will happen in practice? I do not think it is too hard a stricture to say that some civic authorities have not paid a great deal of attention to preschool playgroups. In some cases the groups are operating perfectly satisfactorily and could be helped if only they had decent premises at a cheap rental made available to them, but some have had to progress against considerable handicaps. My right hon. Friend should bear this in mind.

In my constituency I have a really good pre-school playgroup movement. It has recently been pointed out by the local secretary of the Pre-School Playgroup Association that in one part of my constituency, barring one established nursery class, all the pre-school education is being provided by the association. For all that to be set aside, if that were possible, would be a wrong approach in the general movement towards the expansion of pre-school and nursery education. I hope that such an established body could be given an enhanced position.

We should be clear about this because of the public who are involved and because of the mothers involved. The White Paper recognises that pre-school playgroups have been valuable because they have introduced mothers into a close connection with the education system and it is hoped that this connection will continue throughout the schooling of the children. For their sakes, therefore, we should be clear about what the rôle of the playgroup will be.

I like what is said in paragraph 31 of the White Paper about the need to recruit school leavers and get them trained to assist in this sector. But could it not go a little further? After all, secondary school children now have an extra year in school. Could we not ensure that when children are in their last year they are systematically introduced to what is going on in the community around them? Let them see the work, for example, of pre-school playgroups, nursery schools and classes and so on, so that they will get at an earlier stage an idea that this is perhaps something they would like to take up.

I extend my plea from pre-school and nursery education to special schools. It is of great concern to me that not enough people in any community recognise the problems that exist in their own community and how they are being dealt with. There is considerable public ignorance about the problems of mentally handicapped children. I was delighted by what my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) said on this subject and I underline it. We should get more people willing to press for improvements if only they knew the kind of, dedicated work that goes on in handling and taking care of mentally handicapped children.

The White Paper says that it is right that special schools should have their share of increased expenditure. But, with my hon. Friend the Member for Gilling. ham, I wonder whether simply the enhanced share in the White Paper is sufficient and whether it does not need to be increased proportionately still more. I should like to feel that the special schools will get more priority in the overall school building programme.

The advances made in a relatively few years in learning how to deal with various kinds of handicap are remarkable. We are now getting much more response from children with grievous handicaps than one would have thought possible in the past. There is an extra duty upon us to see that people whose children are handicapped and the people who look after the children and give them training and who all bear such extra responsibility have the maximum support from the State.

Another need with special schools is that of widening the provision of types of school. I do not believe it is possible to make simple classifications of degrees of handicap. We have to be much more sophisticated in our approach. For example, a family in my constituency has a child who does not bear any physical appearance of handicap but has been diagnosed as severely retarded. The parents have been shown the school to which the child might go—indeed, the only school to which it might go—and they have seen in that school a lot of children they consider to be very much more disturbed than their own boy, and they worry about the effect on him of being in such school.

I know that we have gone a long way in catering for mental handicap but we still have a long way to go further in delineating the various kinds of handicap and in ensuring that proper treatment is received. At the very least, however, I appeal to my right hon. Friend to make speedy efforts to get rid of the totally inadequate buildings which exist at present in this sector of education. This is quite apart from the fact that some of the children are not getting any education at all, let alone being housed in inadequate buildings.

On the organisation of higher education, my first comment is on the number of people going into teacher training. I can accept that one should control the number of new teachers to be trained in relation to the estimates of the likely number of pupils—that seems to be selfevident—but there are some considerations that we should take into account and I wonder whether they have been fully considered.

Truancy and security are problems which are not very much ventilated at the moment, but they are becoming increasing problems in the schools. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that if there were an improvement in the teacher-pupil ratio some of the problems might be overcome. One is told of the horrific situation in New York, where it is now not uncommon for schools to have an armed policeman on duty in the corridor. I hope we shall never get anywhere near that situation. But there is enough evidence coming in of problems of security and truancy in our schools for us to try to guard against such a situation in advance of its becoming a truly horrific problem.

My right hon. Friend will recognise my constituency interest in independent colleges. It must be unique in having two Roman Catholic teacher training colleges within its boundaries. Too little is said in the White Paper about what is to happen to these colleges. Paragraph 161 mentions that discussions with the Roman Catholic authorities are still at a preliminary stage, and the appropriate comment on that is "and how!" I hope that my right hon. Friend will have regard to the position of such colleges.

It is stated in paragraph 160 that if these colleges are to expand to a full range of facilities they will become … not easily distinguishable by function from a polytechnic or any other further education college. Maybe, but they would like to think that they could be distinguished in other ways and that their essential characteristic will not be lost in the changes that are to come. They are very willing to enter into discussions but it would be helpful to everyone, certainly to the colleges, if they could know a little more about what the Government have in mind for them.

I welcome the opportunity of being able to say some words about the detailed matters in the White Paper. I have no difficulty whatever in knowing how I shall vote. The hon. Member for Rochdale said that he would be voting with the Opposition because he quite liked the words of their amendment although he did not like the spirit in which it was moved. I did not like either, and I shall be supporting my right hon. Friend.

7.42 p.m.

Mr. Tom Ellis (Wrexham)

The topic of education has occupied the minds of politicians rather more than usual in recent weeks. We are having this debate on the White Paper, we have had the Labour Party Green Paper on higher education, we have had a rare speech on educational topics by the Prime Minister and a Times leading article on that speech. The report of the Russell Committee on adult education will be published shortly. I had the privilege and pleasure of serving on that committee under the distinguished chairmanship of Sir Lionel Russell.

I do not intend anticipating that report but I cannot help saying that I feel rather disappointed that the White Paper seems to have a very dampening approach towards the subject. I am aware of the difficulty of saying anything substantial when a major report is shortly to be published. At the same time I cannot help feeling that a little bit of enthusiasm would have heartened many people and would have shown that there was an awareness of the serious issues involved.

I want to talk on that point. In his speech the Prime Minister adopted a mildly philosophical stance. That was rather refreshing because we seem to be so concerned with the nuts and bolts that sometimes we may not see the machine. The Prime Minister asked two questions in his speech. He asked, first of all, what arrangements the system had for preparing people to live the kind of life they were expected to live. Secondly, he asked whether the education system was strengthening the cohesion and improving the quality of our society.

The right hon. Gentleman also made the point, which I thought was a good one, that in an age when we have come to speak of the knowledge explosion there was an increase in specialisation to the extent that if one were to attempt to build an education system on aptitude for skills it would be almost doomed to failure because of the increasing narrowness of the specialities. To use that as a basis would be very bad.

The right hon. Gentleman continued his philosophising and made the interesting comment that education had two functions which appeared to be, to some extent, contradictory. He said that education had both a conservative and a radical function. Rather disappointingly, he did not pursue that line of argument any further. He did not explain precisely what he meant, nor did he reconcile those two functions. The Times in its comment on his speech not only pointed out that the Prime Minister had not answered his questions but attempted to provide an answer. Its answer was the provision of an extra variety of school. The Times also pointed out what has become obvious tonight in many speeches, not least in that of the Secretary of State, that the White Paper talked a lot about resources, numbers, age groups and so on but little about what the apparatus is designed to serve.

I suppose that the Prime Minister advanced his views to question accepted educational wisdom, and I have no doubt that that is always a laudable aim. In doing so he seemed to pick up a question which I hope that the Russell Report, when it appears opportunely, will mention. If the Prime Minister had been slightly more metaphysical in his stance he might have asked the more general question: what is it all for anyway? Had he asked this it might have stopped him regarding education as a kind of institution, a series of experiences to be undergone by youth, ending at an appropriate moment when a suitably prepared young man steps into adult life.

This sort of concept of education seems to be common, and it is a very formal and mechanistic one. It reflects a large part of reality. After all, we do need lawyers and phsysicists, advertising copywriters, computer programmers and so on. We need a sausage machine extruding sausages. Because of the sociological changes that are taking place in society we should seriously question whether this large part of the reality that our common assumptions seem to presuppose is now becoming too large. My answer is that it is.

I do not mean that there should be a retrenchment. I mean rather that the proportion of the other part about which I hope to talk briefly should be enlarged. I am pretty certain that it could be substantially enlarged without a great deal of expenditure. The House will know that Plato would not allow the guardians of his ideal State to undertake the study of philosophy, as he knew the term, before they reached the age of 30. He thought that after the age of 50 they should alternate the business of governing with periods of academic withdrawal.

It is an interesting exercise to look at the list of hon. Members and to work out who is ready for that. Perhaps a sabbatical for the Prime Minister might be no bad thing. I was heartened to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) talking about and giving approbation to the proposals in the James Report dealing with in-service training for teachers and the need for teachers to have experience outside education. This is thinking on the right sort of lines, dealing with educating the man in the round.

In modern society it is increasingly important that this should be so. It has become more important because, clearly—I do not want to use a lot of jargon—the vertically-structured society which we have known over the past 100 to 200 years is now becoming a much more laterally-structured society. This means that authoritarianism is not the motivating force it used to be. As a consequence we have today other kinds of motivators all of which presuppose understanding. This is a crucial matter for the educational system, to differentiate between knowledge and understanding.

There is a key factor of age in this. It is comparatively easy to educate a man to be a physicist at the age of 18, 21 or 24 but it is much more difficult to teach or to instil understanding into anyone at any age. If we are to instil this understanding or to succeed in giving people an imaginative insight into other people's minds, we have to start thinking in terms of educating at a much higher age than 20, 21 or 24, which is the age at which the system of education we are currently considering stops.

I visited an exhibition a fortnight ago at the Hayward Gallery, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, dealing with the four Roman plays of Shakespeare. I was very struck by an essay by Trevor Nunn about these plays. This connected the four plays with the political issues, not only of the period but with modern life. The thought struck me that I would not have understood anything at all about what he was writing when I was 16 or 18, when I was reading some of the Shakespearean plays as a schoolboy in the fifth and sixth form. Then I could hardly understand the kinds of passions that wrung the hearts of men, whereas as a man approaching middle age, I am sorry to say, I think I can at least get a glimmer of understanding of what might have been going through the minds of these people.

This is the sort of thing we completely forget when we talk about the education system. We seem to concentrate almost exclusively on the sausage-machine type of concept. Is this to be the approach which the Government apply to the system to the almost total exclusion of the other kind of education which is becoming urgently required? We have only to look round to see some of the difficulties in our society. In Wales, for example, there is a complete lack of understanding of the problem between two types of culture in the same country. This failure to make the imaginative leap is one of the most serious problems facing the country.

I hope that the dampening paragraph in the White Paper about which I remarked does not reflect the Government's attitude, and that when the Russell Report is published it will be as warmly welcomed as this subject merits.

7.51 p.m.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Walthamstow, East)

As the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) was speaking I was reminded of the words of Mark Twain, who went to stay with a peasant family and came away with the idea that they knew nothing and understood everything. He then went to stay with an intellectual family and came to the conclusion that they knew everything and understood nothing. There is a lot in that.

I proposed to open my remarks by regretting the words in the introduction to the White Paper which say that it concerns itself with matters of scale, organisation and cost rather than educational content because the more I know the education service the more I wonder whether we give sufficient thought to the question of what sort of people we want our adult school leavers to be. I was therefore interested that the hon. Member for Wrexham referred to the Prime Minister's remarks because they are thoughts which we should consider in the light of the White Paper.

I welcome the fact that education's share of public expenditure is 13 per cent. However, I am worried that secondary educational standards generally are thought to have fallen. I say "thought to have fallen" because there is a fair measure of doubt. I am worried about violence and the lack of discipline in schools, and particularly by the young people who seem to consider that their last year at school is a complete waste of time and that the sooner they get through it the better.

Perhaps what I am trying to do is to ask whether we are being adequately objective about the effectiveness of the education we provide and the way in which it is being received. It is entirely praiseworthy to provide a modern school fully equipped with its full establishment of teachers. It is totally laudatory to spend £50 million a year on replacing primary schools simply because the physical limitations of a school and its classrooms have a material bearing on the size of classes and on the general amenities provided for staff and pupils.

However, it remains true that a school is as good as its teachers, and it is wrong to suppose that because the material facilities are present the broad concepts of education so excellently described in paragraph 57 on page 16 of the White Paper—namely: to guide each generation of children into a full appreciation of our culture, to quicken their social and moral awareness, to enhance their intellectual abilities to the highest standard of which each is capable and to develop their practical and human skills so that each may be enabled to make his or her maximum contribution to the health, wealth and harmony of a democratic society are necessarily implanted to a great extent among enough of the children at school. It is to this problem that we must address our thinking. After all, the child is the consumer in education terms and, like any other consumer, deserves to have his or her view taken into account.

I was impressed by the remarks of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart). He was right in what he said about parental encouragement. Children must not just be sent to school. They must be taught to want to learn when they are at school so that going to school becomes more of a pleasure and less of a chore, as it still is for far too many.

I suppose that one could reasonably argue that school and home should be an amalgam in the education of a child—a point touched on in the White Paper at page 7. That is right. It must follow that parental interest and encouragement are every bit as important as anything which the school can achieve. However, the tragedy is—this is the point which the right hon. Gentleman made which I should like to reiterate—that far too often the parental interest in such things as parent/teacher associations is shown by those parents whose children are already making progress. It is as if the words in the Bible— to him that hath shall be given"— are true. Thus, one feels that the gap is allowed to increase by the very same people who could, if they chose, do something to prevent it from happening quite so early in their child's life.

What is more, at a time when 16 per cent. of 11-year-old children have below normal reading ages, we must be aware that education, even at the three R's level, has a fair way to go. Even if a category like this contains a fairly large immigrant proportion, the fact that there are so many of our own children in it must give us cause and pause for reflection.

However, if we accept that the total effectiveness of our educational effort rests on the twin pillars of home and school, it is clear that at school the excellence of the teaching staff is all important. While there are no worthwhile yardsticks for measuring the ability of teachers—and perhaps there is something to be said for the idea that parents should be asked to assess the ability of teachers from time to time, as those who advocate pupil power would suggest that the children should—there is no doubt that the ability of teachers ranges very widely. Far too many children, at the end of their school days, simply say that they felt that the teachers were so unsympathetic that it was impossible to learn from them. Looking back on my school years, the number of teachers who shone was small. This is very sad and is another cause for concern.

However, I welcome the Government's intention to achieve a graduate teaching profession. This must be the right aim. But I am convinced that there is nothing to compare with classroom experience for getting the best out of teachers. Here I am forced to relate my remarks to my constituency, and I hope that I shall be forgiven for doing so.

If the expansion in the teaching profession outlined on page 14 of the White Paper has spilled over into Waltham Forest in terms of probationary teachers in our schools, we are suffering from a dearth of teachers in the 28 to 35 age bracket with any body of teaching experience. Put in another way, in one of my schools 12 out of 36 full-time teachers are probationary, in another 12 out of 27 full-time teachers are probationary, while of the remaining 15 only five have more than five years' experience. This imbalance may partly be explained by the expansion of teacher numbers, which are so dramatically shown in the White Paper.

But the worrying fact is that the probationers in our schools do not stay on to become permanent members of the staff. There is a diversity of reasons for this, but perhaps the fact that my constituency is in a London borough gives at least one clue. Some of the teachers leave the area simply because they can find better jobs elsewhere. But it would be wrong to suppose that the cost of accommodation has no effect on their thinking. When they come to the area as single people—we are now recruiting one-third of our teachers from outside the borough—they will put up with the cost of accommodation. But once they are married, are bringing up young families, and are thinking of buying a house there is no doubt that the pressure which economic conditions impose on them is driving them away. What is more, in an area of which some parts at least are not particularly salubrious one might well ask, as a teacher asked me, "What is the job attraction of teaching in an old-fashioned school with a high immigrant population?" We must appreciate that a high immigrant population brings special problems and sometimes needs special teachers to cope with it. Undoubtedly that is another of the reasons why in my borough we have a missing generation of the 25-plus teachers and why we wonder where what have been described as the non-commissioned officers of our educational system will come from.

I appreciate that the London allowance is an extremely sensitive area for my right hon. Friend. But may I suggest to her that while we are in phase 2 of the counter-inflationary measures a great deal could be said for setting up an inquiry into the London allowance, and evaluating the allowance against real costs. Perhaps to show that we in London are not entirely selfish, an urban area allowance might be considered. I am only suggesting an inquiry, but it seems to me that while we are pausing and taking stock such an inquiry could produce some very valuable results and would go a long way to meet some at least of the justifiable demands of the teaching profession.

I want briefly to say a word about our mentally handicapped schools. If there is this gap problem with the 28–35-year-old teachers in ordinary schools, the mentally handicapped schools are much worse off. In my own borough we can claim that all our special schools have been rebuilt over the past eight years, and that is a considerable record, but, by the some token, because those schools recruit teachers from other schools they are at the moment suffering a shortage of eight teachers, and two grade 4 posts recently advertised produced only one applicant. In other words, if in ordinary schools there is a problem, it is being reflected and magnified in the mentally handicapped schools.

I have talked about the dearth of the 28–35-years-olds. I would not want to suggest that these people have left the teaching profession. They have not. They have just decided that a London borough like Waltham Forest is not a place where they want to remain. Some of course, because they have a vocation for teaching, and feel that Waltham Forest children are a challenge to them, have stayed on, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree with me that we must never exploit a vocation. Because they have a vocation they are the people we want and must encourage to stay.

If I have any criticisms of this excellent White Paper, it is that it is a nuts and bolts document. It is a framework. What I am slightly concerned about is: what should go in the frame?

8.3 p.m.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

I say first of all that I am most grateful to the hon. Member for Norfolk South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) for the kind words he said about our joint efforts to persuade the right hon. Lady to deal with nursery education, and I reciprocate and say that he has been a very good and energetic vice-president and that it has been a great pleasure to work with him. He is not here at the moment; no doubt, he will come back; anyway, I am sure he will read HANSARD.

There has been a certain amount of euphoria about the right hon. Lady's provisions for nursery education. I am most grateful that she has been won over to our side and has found it possible in the White Paper to write paragraphs 19, 20 and 21, which explain the value and need of nursery education, the advantages which it can bring in developing language and mental skills and artistic skills in a child, the need in both urban and rural areas for nursery education—education needed, indeed, everywhere—for all children in the age group 3 to 5, which brings all kinds of children together, including children with psychological difficulties, difficulties of behaviour, children who are disturbed, children who are physically or mentally handicapped. Thus it is possible, as the White Paper shows, to identify certain specific needs and problems of certain children earlier than would otherwise be the case if they had to wait to the age of five before entering the educational environment.

All this is excellent, but I rather query the first sentence of paragraph 19: The value of nursery education … has long been acknowledged. Certainly it has long been acknowledged by educationists if we go no further back than 1944 and the Act of that year; but it has not been long acknowledged on the two sides of this House. I am delighted that we have won over the benches opposite, and, indeed, the right hon. Lady herself. We may even have won over her colleague the Under-Secretary of State. We shall listen with interest to what he has to say—

Mr. St. John-Stevas rose

Mrs. Short

—let the hon. Member not be alarmed—about this particular part of the White Paper. I shall nor give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I shall listen with interest to what he has to say about the point.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I was going to say something nice.

Mrs. Short

Keep it till later. It will be all the nicer for being kept a little longer.

The best thing in the White Paper is what the right hon. Lady says about nursery education. That is why I am very pleased that it is there, and the best part of that best thing is the withdrawal of Circular 8/60. I am delighted that she has been able to do this and that she has wiped out the iniquities of one of her female predecessors in 1960 which has prevented any further development of nursery education for so long. It was not until 1968 that my right hon. Friend who was then the Minister was able to announce, after the Plowden Report had been published, the allocation of £25 million for the urban aid programme, much of which went to the provision of nursery places, but not all of it. It is not only that we are very far behind very many of our Common Market partners in this regard, but many countries in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe have been far in advance of the Common Market countries for a very long time, certainly since the end of the last war, and we have a long way to go.

I am only sorry that the right hon. Lady has hoisted her colours to the Plowden mast, because I think the Plowden provisions are long out of date now. We have to bear in mind that the Plowden inquiries took place from the end of 1965 to 1966 and the report was finally published in 1967. So we are talking about a target which is five or six years out of date. In that time there has been an enormous amount of activity on behalf of nursery education; there has been a great campaign of public education about nursery education, and parents and teachers have responded in a very splendid way. Our attitudes have changed to it; indeed, the times and needs have changed since the Plowden Report was published. There has been growing understanding of the need for much more flexible accommodation and provision for the pre-school child.

We are not talking now of the rather compartmentalised provisions by the right hon. Lady and the Secretary of State for Social Services. We are talking now more about combined provisions which would make it much more possible to give really full cover to children's needs, whatever the children's requirements or the needs of the families may be. I would like to see an amalgamation of these provisions under the right hon. Lady. I am anxious to see her extend her empire. I am sure this side of the House would like to see provision for the pre-school child come within the ambit of the right hon. Lady's Department.

I take issue with the recommendation that places should be provided for those three- and four-year-olds whose parents wish them to attend nursery classes. I am very much afraid, as was my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart), that it will be the articulate parents, who have either had the advantage of a good education themselves or who have been educated by us during our campaign of the last few years, who will be able to use the channels of pressure on Members of Parliament, local education authorities and their local councillors to provide nursery education now that the right hon. Lady has switched on the green light.

Coming as I do from an educational priority area, I know how difficult it will be if we leave it to that criterion to provide nursery provision for those deprived areas in my constituency, the downtown areas, where there is not as much pressure as one would like for nursery education.

It is understood that some children will need full-time education, but, again, to say that it shall be 15 per cent. has no regard to what I have said about the needs of the families and the mothers or to the requirements of and the thinking about nursery education generally, which have changed.

However, I would give the right hon. Lady not three cheers but two—one for withdrawing Circular 8/60 and the other for that part of paragraph 17 which says that over the next 10 years we shall expand nursery education without charge. No one has mentioned the second point today, but I am glad that the right hon. Lady has come out firmly against making any charges in this part of education—a suggestion which, of course, was floated by many of her hon. Friends not so long ago.

I welcome the fact that the right hon. Lady will initiate research programmes to monitor the development of the new provisions. We could have had a research programme long ago to discover what has so far been the cost of not providing nursery education. If we had done this, the Government would probably have been converted to providing nursery education much earlier and on a much more comprehensive scale than is provided for in the right hon. Lady's White Paper.

I am certain that there has been an enormous waste of resources through the whole education system simply because we have not had nursery education much earlier. I know that the Department does not know the cost of the remedial teaching in primary and secondary schools. It is possible to find out how many teachers are engaged on this, but that is not the whole of the expenditure. That would have been a productive piece of research.

The right hon. Lady's Department should really be working more energetically than it has been heretofore on the ways and means of making the physical provisions for nursery education—that is, the kind of buildings that we put up. This, of course, goes through the whole system. The building costs for nursery education seem much more expensive than for other sectors and I wonder whether, in the research projects that the right hon. Lady is contemplating, there is to be any continuation of the work that has been done on the economic provision of buildings.

The amount of money which is being provided for this, will I am certain, prove inadequate. There are more than 4 million children in the age group who need nursery education, and the amount that the right hon. Lady is to provide, and the numbers of teachers that she says will be siphoned into nursery education, clearly will not cater for anything near this number. We asked for about £100 million as an initial contribution just for nursery education. The fact that she has provided less than a third of that shows the need to keep up the pressure by parents, teachers and local education authorities and to ensure that the right hon. Lady is shown the demand for nursery education all over the country.

The White Paper does not discuss the size of classes throughout the education system. It talks only of pupil/teacher ratios, which of course include heads, deputy heads, heads of departments, and so on, who probably do more administration than teaching, so the pupil/teacher ratio is rather misleading.

In both primary and secondary schools the majority of pupils are being taught in classes of 30 and 35, both of which are too big. In many primary schools, classes are well over 40. It is obvious that much more needs to be done in the training of teachers.

A very important section of teaching has no mention in the White Paper—careers teaching in schools. While I do not want to anticipate anything that an Expenditure Committee might say to the House in due course, I must say that there is a serious lack here in that many secondary schools have no careers teaching at all. Many careers teachers have no training in the work they do. The job is often given to a member of the staff because there is not one else to do it. Here the right hon. Lady will have to consider the whole provision of careers teaching throughout our secondary schools. She may find that if she expands this area and introduces proper training courses in colleges of education, with a proper career structure for those teachers who intend to make it their job in life, some of the wastage at university level will be avoided. If there is proper and better guidance early on in the secondary sector, the number of university dropouts will be reduced.

Largely from a constituency point of view, I must say something about the provision in the White Paper for the secondary building programme, the additional £20 million which is being provided over two years for improving old secondary schools. This seems an utterly unrealistic sum. It would mean about eight more secondary schools for the whole country. There are 164 local education authorities. The Inner London Education Authority alone has 87 secondary schools built before 1903. The Council for Educational Advance estimates that we need £200 million a year for 10 years to replace old and insanitary secondary school buildings. The £20 million must be considered against this background, which shows that it is completely inadequate.

The figure is ridiculous when one considers the number of local education authorities; if we consider that there are nine large regions, we see that that means that each would get about £1 million. In the West Midlands, that would mean £1 million for eight local education authorities, including Birmingham—an infinitesimal amount for each, which will make it difficult for them to decide what projects to put to the right hon. Lady and for her to decide which should be approved.

In the instructions to local education authorities the right hon. Lady laid down the limits and made it clear that these improvement projects are for teaching accommodation built before 1903, which is deficient in some specialist facilities and in which at least a third of the accommodation is in temporary constructions.

It may be that some local education authorities have found it easy to put forward proposals but Wolverhampton, for example, has found it extremely difficult to put forward a range of projects coming under these two headings. A further limitation was that authorities were asked to restrict their bids to one project which they regarded as outstandingly urgent. That is an impossible task for an education authority to carry out. The education committee in Wolverhampton was in a dilemma. It had to spend a great deal of time on deciding what to put forward. If it put forward a large project it was running the risk of pricing itself out of the market, and if it put forward a small project it was not going to get value for money.

What we had to do—and I hope that the right hon. Lady will find it possible to be rather more generous than hitherto—was to put forward one project, which is not in my constituency but is in Bilston, which will cost nearly £500,000 to carry out, even on a rather restricted basis. To do it properly would cost rather more. Unfortunately, this school—Etheridge Secondary School—because it was built in 1905, is not quite as old as the right hon. Lady laid down in her instruction to local education authorities, and some of the accommodation in this mixed development is more recent.

The other project that has been put forward—and again it is not in my constituency but in that of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)—will cost only £150,000 but it is urgently needed to create a viable comprehensive school. Unfortunately, that accommodation dates only from 1932. That shows that local authorities are in a difficult position when trying to deal with the allocation of this inadequate amount of money.

Reference has been made to many unanswered questions. There is nothing in the White Paper about the advance towards comprehensive education, about the need for more and better careers teaching, about day-release for those who leave school and whose education stops there, about encouraging girls to stay on at school and be more adventurous in the careers they choose, or about the vexed question, referred to by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson), of the need to improve the salaries and working conditions of teachers.

The right hon. Lady can take comfort from the fact that part of her White Paper is acceptable as far as it goes, but we feel that much of the provision is not realistic and that there are many serious gaps. We shall continue to press for those gaps to be filled and for the situation to be treated much more generously in the future.

8.24 p.m.

Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) in this debate because, as the House knows, she has played a major part in converting the country to the need for a big expansion of nursery education. At the beginning of her speech the hon. Lady underlined two points: first the philosophical question, which was mentioned in detail by the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), of what the content of education should be, and secondly the nuts and bolts of the debate, the financing of our education programme.

The White Paper is extensive, as one would expect, and it is not possible for me to cover all the points dealt with in it. Quite rightly, emphasis has been laid on the younger age bracket in our educational programme. I particularly welcome that because we have to see the education service against the changing background of industry, and the main need surely is for a higher degree of literacy, numeracy and trained intelligence so that when people leave school they are more adaptable and can cope better with changes in society.

In an industrialised prosperous country such as the United States, which has fallen behind in many areas in providing this trained intelligence, one finds a pool of people who have become almost permanently unemployed because they cannot adapt to the changes in that country. All the United States experience underlines the urgency of the nursery school part of the White Paper, and the sooner we can get started on the expansion of nursery schools the easier it will become to teach in the primary and secondary school.

Paragraph 23 of the White Paper says that The Government attach importance to a full assessment of local resources and needs, and will welcome diversity in provision so long as it is efficient". Obviously there is a big job to be done by local education authorities and there may be conflict because in some areas voluntary playgroups are well established. Matching them together and getting them to work towards the necessary expansion will not necessarily be easy, and the sooner that local education authorities can get down to what the Government call a full assessment of local resources", the better.

Paragraph 24 of the White Paper refers to the fact that it is educationally advantageous if the provision for the under fives can be part of the primary school, but here too there may be a difficulty. I visited a primary school in my constituency on Friday and I shall be writing to my right hon. Friend about that school. It needs complete replacement. The land has been bought by the Bedfordshire Education Authority and the rebuilding has been programmed. It is all a matter of getting it going as early as possible. It would make sense to attach the nursery school to the new primary school, but will the education authority be faced with a difficult choice of saying "We have these resources for a primary school. Do we put the nursery school on now? Do we put it on at the same time as we build the primary school? Are we to put back the date when the primary school starts to operate?" That is a problem to which local education authorities should pay great attention.

Paragraph 28 refers to disadvantaged children and the need to concentrate resources in those areas where there is a need for nursery education. My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) rightly mentioned that there were disadvantaged children in rural areas and perhaps I may make one point in relation to my county. It concerns getting the capital resources priority right for 1974–76. The Caravan Sites Act 1968 requires local authorities to provide sites for gipsies. This means that they will become a more permanent part of the community. Some gipsy children, but not all, will need special attention and some schools will have to take on specialist staff to teach them. Again, local authorities should be thinking now about this need. They are required by law to get these sites built. The Act has now been with us for five years. I hope that local authorities will pay great attention to this need when making approaches to my right hon. Friend for capital resources to be used in an area.

The White Paper goes on to talk about how much nursery education there should be and about those who wish to stay the whole day. There is the problem, which has been underlined in the newspapers, of mothers who go out to work for the whole day. Unless provision can be made for their children, the advantage of part-time nursery education will be lost. There is a scheme in Oxford which will provide facilities for children in that part of the day when they are not at nursery school.

I wonder whether we shall be able to have a system whereby, once nursery schools are working, the voluntary playgroups which now perform a very important rôle can provide a supplement to nursery education. I am thinking along the lines of their moving their rôle away from providing nursery education, as many do, to providing facilities for mothers who have to go out to work for the whole day so that their children can remain there when they are not at nursery school. Mothers do a vast range of different jobs. Some go out to teach in other schools. Some have been through the higher education system and have qualified in executive capacities in commercial and industrial firms. Some of them do shift work, and obviously the shifts they work must tie in with the part of the day when their children are receiving nursery education.

Paragraph 32 of the White Paper gets down to the nuts and bolts of providing the additional teachers required for this expansion of nursery education. It says: It follows that more students in colleges of education must be attracted to suitable courses … In addition some serving teachers whose initial training and experience have been concerned mainly with older age groups and who wish to turn to nursery education may require further training … If that can be done, well and good. If, however, we are to attract into the nursery service, teachers from among those who have been working with older age groups, we may be creating a gap which we shall have to fill in some way. Again I hope that the Government are looking constantly to industry. Many people who have worked in industry for 10 or 15 years and who have degrees could go over to the teaching profession and fill this gap if teachers of older children are to be attracted into nursery schools. I take the point made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East that there will be a tremendous demand. To provide the necessary number of teachers will be a great challenge to the country.

All this underlines the fact that we shall see big improvements in the education system in the next 10 years. Parental inquisitiveness about what is taught and how it is taught will grow, especially in areas which have changed to comprehensive education and where the argument amongst parents about whether should or should not be comprehensive education has ended. I believe that the time has come for more external guidelines from my right hon. Friend's Department about what is taught and about the relationship of the headmaster to the governors, of the headmaster to the parents and of the parents to the governors. The White Paper says that everything should be done to encourage people to take up serious study again in later life. Again, I think that we can look to people in industry to come into the teaching profession and to play a vital rôle.

Increasingly we see that the secondary school has a great responsibility for preparing pupils for life outside, especially for those children who come from broken or disturbed homes. There is a big challenge which obviously the White Paper does not mention but which I believe can be referred to in the philosophical content of this debate. The challenge is to schools to provide a real interest in the extra year that children will stay on at school. A great deal could be done to explain to children the impersonal relationships between taxpayer and tax collector, between the homeless and the town hall, how local government works and other problems which they will encounter when they leave school.

I am glad that reference has been made to career teachers. There is a need for a big expansion in this side of the education profession. My hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson) referred to teachers' pay and the difficulty of finding accommodation. He said that possibly there was a case for the Pay Board to investigate the London allowance. Perhaps we could include the South East allowance because it is in the counties of the South East that teachers have a great problem in finding suitable accommodation.

I end by referring to the management of resources. We have to be extremely careful about how the money is spent in schools. That does not mean that headmasters should be trying to cut budgets. Very often the money is given and the local education authority virtually says, "Here is the money. Spend it as you will." There is a need for more careful and wiser spending and more cost effectiveness and accountability when it comes to considering how to spend this additional money in schools.

I pose three basic questions to the Government on this welcome expansion of nursery education. First, can we find the teachers? I think that could be difficult. Secondly, can the buildings keep pace, especially where we wish to have nursery schools attached to primary schools? Thirdly, above all, can the problem of mothers who have to go out to work the whole day and want their children to go into nursery schools be solved?

If those three problems can be solved, I think that we shall rapidly improve our secondary education because we are putting so much emphasis on nursery education.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Caerwyn E. Roderick (Brecon and Radnor)

I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will understand if I speak as quickly as possible to enable other hon. Members to speak in the debate.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cyril Smith) drew attention to paragraphs 127 and 128 of the White Paper which refer to students attendin2 universities near their homes. I take great exception to the idea that students should go to universities near their homes. If they choose to go into residence they should have every opportunity to do so. Are we to differentiate between Oxford and Cambridge and the provincial colleges and universities? We shall be setting up two standards if we proceed along these lines. I should like to know more about the penalties which will be introduced if we are to prevent young people going into residence.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the spirit and words of the amendment. I should like his clarification on the spirit of the amendment, because I do not know much about it. The hon. Gentleman may know more about it. I think that he is reading more into it than is apparent to many hon. Members.

I apologise to the Secretary of State for confusing the number of student places with teachers when I intervened in her speech.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) said that it was easy to teach a person to be a physicist at 18. My hon. Friend betrays a complete lack of knowledge of present-day physics when he makes that claim. As a mathematician I take exception to his remarks. He should study the matter a little more closely.

However, I agree with my hon. Friend and others who said that quality is all-important. This is why I want education to come out of the rat race in which it has so long been and still is. The competitive element in education is strong and the White Paper does nothing to move away from it.

I obviously cannot touch on every provision in the White Paper. However, I particularly wish to refer to the nursery provision. It has been said that that provision is based on the Plowden recommendations, which are already six years old. We are talking about a period 10 years hence, so that there is, in effect, a 16 year gap in the provisions.

The demand has increased. My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Michael Stewart) referred to this matter. Some parents will not choose to send their children to nursery schools. I contend that these are the children most in need of nursery provision. I know that there will be a tremendous demand and that people will be conditioned to thinking in terms of the usefulness of nursery education, but there are idle parents—parents of the most deprived children—who will not send their children to nursery schools. There fore, I suggest that we should make nursery education compulsory from the age of three onwards for the sake of these children. The Secretary of State said that she was against compulsion. I suggest that there ought to be an opting out rather than an opting in. I accept that an argument could be put forward for children to be kept away from nursery school rather than that they should volunteer to go, because too many of our children will not go.

A limited expansion of teacher training and supply is envisaged. I think that negligible progress will be made in reducing class sizes in the primary sector to 30. The maximum class size should be 30. This is recommended by all educationalists. What is the use of providing nursery education if from that stage children go into primary schools with large classes where the teachers cannot afford the time to listen to individual children reading daily as they should?

We hear sufficient complaints about the quality and standards of reading ability in our schools. One of the causes is that teachers have not the time to hear the children read. Furthermore we need far more individual attention by teachers in primary school classes than there used to be. In the past it was virtually impossible to lecture to a class of 50. Today we have very small groups of classes for individual teaching. The teacher needs smaller classes to make such provision.

I was astonished to see that the White Paper retains the idea that 40 is a reasonable class size—or at least it applauds the fact that we are coming to this view and that few classes are over this size. It does not mention the fact that in the next decade we should move towards a class size of 30 as a maximum.

Mrs. Thatcher

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Labour Government abolished the concept of class size for the purpose of judging the teacher/pupil numbers.

Mr. Roderick

I am sure the right hon. Lady will acknowledge that the White Paper refers to class sizes in this country as being over 40. I believe that this concept is wrong and that there should be no classes of this size.

I am afraid that the forecasts of need are likely to be wide of the mark. The Secretary of State said that she did not want to produce more teachers than local authorities could afford. Is she suggesting that this is the reason for not producing more teachers? Is she of the view that the provision of teachers is not a governmental responsibility?

I would have welcomed much more flexibility in the Secretary of State's approach to this problem. Most of the figures and estimates of numbers are guesswork. How does she propose to allow for future changes? In other words, could the Secretary of State quickly change direction if she thought it necessary to do so?

I shall not go into the subject of higher education but I should like to ask about a phrase used by the right hon. Lady when she said that there would be places available for all those who were qualified and who wanted to take them up. Does that relate to the present qualifications, or are they to be changed? The qualifications for higher education are normally two A-levels. Will there be places for those people in higher education? I question this approach. Will those involved get the type of higher education they want?

I turn to comprehensive education. The White Paper does not envisage an approach towards comprehensive secondary schools. The overwhelming evidence is that we should proceed with this move with the utmost speed. I hope that the Under-Secretary will explain what in a recent debate he called "comprehension". I fail to understand the word in this context. The hon. Gentleman may like to take the opportunity to explain it and the phrase "mixed ability" when applied to secondary modern schools. I felt that this was a contradiction in terms.

I accept that the White Paper published in the early 1970s talked about comprehensive higher education. Even if the concept of comprehensive higher education is too revolutionary for the Government, at least they might have been bold enough to introduce a comprehensive system of grants whereby grants should be paid to students in further higher education on the same scale regardless of the type of institution.

The White Paper says nothing about the examinations system. Students are demonstrating their increasing concern about the system. Has not the right hon. Lady asked the Schools Council for advice? Teachers are becoming more and more convinced of the need to use the other forms of assessment of attainment. Attainment should be assessed on a continuing basis. Certainly we might have expected some comment on the situation. We could well see the merging of the certificate of secondary education and the general certification of education in this decade, but there has been no mention of this in the White Paper.

Another matter which is not mentioned in the White Paper is school counselling. The right hon. Lady will recall that I have asked Questions on this subject and that at one time it was confused with careers guidance. I hope that the careers advisory service within the schools will continue and develop. Even more serious, however, is the position of the youth employment service. I sincerely hope that the Secretary of State has fought hard to retain the service within the education sector. We know that some of her right hon. Friends would attach it to the Department of Employment.

I have referred briefly to school counselling. Not only am I concerned that there is no mention of the subject, but for some time I have found that the Department has no knowledge of the progress that was being made. There are nine universities training school counsellors on full- or part-time courses, yet the Department cannot tell us how many are employed in the country. Remarkably few are employed full-time. They handle most important matters, yet the White Paper has not mentioned the subject. With those remarks, I now conclude to allow others of my hon. Friends the opportunity to speak.

8.46 p.m.

Miss Janet Fookes (Merton and Morden)

I was much intrigued to read a criticism of me, clearly intended to be uncomplimentary, which said that I was a carbon copy of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—and to add a little more insult—at a coffee morning. Clearly, my critic did not read my right hon. Friend's White Paper, because it is a great tribute to her. It sets out in a clear and orderly form her objectives for the 10-year period, and I am somewhat surprised at the criticism that it is a nuts and bolts operation. I should have thought that this was just what we wanted—action, a vehicle that moves. I am delighted with it.

I imagine that of all the sections in the White Paper the section about nursery education is the most widely welcomed. I welcome it, and I resent the implication that all my hon. Friends have been converted to it by everybody on the Labour side. Many of us fought for this for many years. May I suggest that in trying to recruit new nursery teachers we should consider carefully some of the helpers in the playgroups. They will be encouraged by advisers in local authorities to take up the training to become qualified. Clearly, there will be difficulty in finding additional teachers.

Mr. Charles R. Morris (Manchester, Openshaw)

Will the hon. Member accept that we have demonstrably failed to attract teachers to nursery education and that nursery education under so many authorities is little short of childminding and is provided by the nursery nurses, the NNEBs, who are underpaid and, in many cases, over-worked?

Miss Fookes

Of course, in the past there has been no attraction because there have not been sufficient nursery classes or schools. I should have thought that the situation was different now.

May I now turn to the question of the teaching profession and its training? I welcome my right hon. Friend's emphasis on higher standards. Many of us have been concerned that in the need for greater numbers of teachers quality to some extent has suffered. I particularly welcome the target of an all-graduate profession. It has been one of the great weaknesses of the teaching profession that there have been these sharp divisions between graduate and non-graduate teachers, to their great detriment.

I was glad to see that there will now be an ordinary bachelor of education and an honours award in four years. I am also glad that this is to be validated by the existing universities and the CNAA. It is important that it should not in any way become a poor relation but that it should have an equal standing with existing degrees.

I welcome also the widening of the scope of colleges of education. It has always seemed unfortunate that anyone who goes into them is by definition training to be a teacher, so that the students often feel trapped. They may decide not to go into such an establishment because they are not sure which way their bent is taking them. In my view, therefore, this widening is most useful.

I give a cautious welcome to the introduction of the diploma of higher education—cautious because I think that we are taking a calculated risk here, and much will depend on whether it is accepted by employers. I hope that when my right hon. Friend is having discussions careful inquiry will be made regarding how employers are to be persuaded to make use of it. I am glad to note that the Government themselves will take steps to see how it can be fitted in with their own employees.

The costs of higher education are worrying. There must be searches for economy, and I note that one or two tentative suggestions are made in the White Paper. In this connection, I commend to my right hon. Friend the work of the Expenditure Committee, which has just issued what I regard as an excellent report, though perhaps I am biased since I sat on the Sub-Committee which produced it.

In modifying the student/teacher ratios on the basis of 10: 1 as advocated in the White Paper, we should exercise a little caution. It is important to consider the type of education which is being received. Where it is lecture-based to a large extent, we can afford to have a much higher ratio, whereas in certain fields where the need is for individual tuition the ratio should probably be much smaller. I should prefer not to proceed in terms of an average, or, at least, I should want the average worked out department by department rather overall.

I note that there is a sharp division of opinion on whether there should be more home-based students. In the Expenditure Committee's Report there was a definite bias in favour of this trend. I realise that it would not be popular among students. Undoubtedly, part of the attraction of higher education for them lies in getting away from home. This was certainly true of my contemporaries, and I believe that I was about the only one in my lot who actually liked being at home and who would have liked to have a home-based university. However, when public expenditure is involved to the extent that it is, I do not feel that we ought to allow that general attitude to weigh too much, and I should like there to be rather more insistence on home-based students.

Among the suggestions made by the Expenditure Committee which I commend to my right hon. Friend is that higher institutions should not accept people from outside their region unless they can be sure of offering halls of residence or other accommodation, that school leavers should be advised where they may go locally—very often they are not so advised—and that priority for residential accommodation should be given to those whose home background is difficult. In this way, we would not handicap those who had that sort of background, among whom I would include a number of the female sex, who might be more likely to be drawn into home chores than their male counterparts.

I notice that there was little of substance, if I may say so, in the section on the organisation of higher education. That seemed to me to be a rather slight part of the White Paper. I suggest that careful consideration be given to the suggestion of a higher education commission which would take the place of the University Grants Committee and bring the whole of higher education under one administrative umbrella. In education circles this is a revolutionary idea, but I see no reason for the present division, and I am sure that if we were starting from scratch no one would suggest that we should work in that way. I do not expect my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State to reply on that matter tonight, but I hope that it will be seriously considered. Indeed, I hope that the whole report of the Expenditure Committee will be given serious consideration.

8.54 p.m.

Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)

I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Merton and Morden (Miss Fookes) will forgive me if I do not take up the matters which she raised. We meet once a week in Committee on education matters, and, since we both have an interest in the authorship of the report to which she referred, I join her in commending it to the House.

My concern is the question of education priorities. The Government's analysis in the White Paper, in the first section on nursery education, is very cautious. One might almost say that it is a conservative analysis. There are references to areas of social deprivation, to disadvantaged children and to the need for parental support, although there is also a reference to the fact that whatever the State does it must not supplant parents' efforts. But what if parental effort is not there in the first place to be built on? Furthermore, there is a reference to social services departments and the part they can play, but this part is not specified in the White Paper.

Volume 1 of the report of Dr. Halsey on educational priority areas, which most hon. Members taking part in the debate will have read, is much more radical in its analysis of the problems and its conclusions. It points out the difficulties of defining educational priority areas, but, at the same time, it suggests that this must be done centrally and nationally by the Department of Education and Science. There is not a mention of this problem in the White Paper. The report talks of the complex interaction between education and social problems, but there are only a few passing references in the first section of the White Paper to this interaction.

Finally, Dr. Halsey's superb report talks of some very radical objectives to be achieved in educational priority areas, but they do not get a mention in the White Paper.

In analysing the problems of educational priorities, in my experience, having visited all the primary schools in my area in the past two years, there is a very complex interaction between low income families, bad housing and broken homes. Only two weeks ago I visited a primary school where no less than 40 per cent of the children came from broken homes. Surely that must be an educational disadvantage to them.

Basically, we are dealing not with an educational problem but with a social problem. How shall we tackle this problem? I suggest three ways. The first and the simplest way is to provide better schools and better educational facilities, to provide smaller classes so that there may be more individual attention for children who need it, and to provide the stability and continuity of teaching. This is a very important problem in London where, with the failure to increase the London allowance, we are losing more and more younger teachers, and children will suffer as a result.

The second prong of our attack on educational priority areas must be to regard schools as part of the local community and not as an antidote to it, which has been common fashion in educational circles in the past. We have to bring home and school together, and that does not mean that the school must dominate. They must go hand in hand. Why, for example, should we not have provision, in either the White Paper or Government expenditure generally, for social workers to be based in primary schools in deprived areas? I can assure the right hon. Lady and her hon. Friend the Under-Secretary that they are badly needed, particularly in some schools in my area. Moreover, why could we not have more home-based teachers? The ILEA has an excellent experimental scheme which is capable of extension to many of the socially disadvantaged parts of our urban areas.

The third prong of our attack on educational priority areas must surely be to attack poverty at its roots, such as bad housing and poverty generally. If we remove these disadvantages we shall find that, almost automatically, we have removed many of the educational disadvantages which the White Paper, very cautiously, seeks to tackle.

Finally, the White Paper is inadequate in its analysis of this problem in spite of the fact that it had the advantage of Dr. Halsey's excellent research. It is, therefore, not surprising that there is no clear perception in the White Paper of the objectives to be achieved by extra nursery provision. One might almost say that we are tackling the problem in the wrong way. We should all bear in mind Professor Bernstein's statement that education cannot compensate for society. It appears that that is what we are trying to do.

Our concern must be with the totality of factors which affect the child. We need, above all, an overall co-ordinated attack on educational and social deprivation at one and the same time. At present we have the Department of Education and Science concerned with primary schools, the Department of Health and Social Security concerned with poor families, the Housing Department concerned with bad housing and the Home Office concerned with urban aid. They should all be combined at both local and national level in an attack on the problems of educational deprivation. Then, and only then, shall we be able to tackle the root causes of social and educational deprivation.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Roland Moyle (Lewisham, North)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins) for sitting down so promptly. In his whirlwind closing contribution he hit the nail on the head, because he spoke about educational priority areas and deprivation, a subject that the Labour Party is particularly interested in. It is studying it very closely in producing its education policies for the future.

We have had a very interesting debate, with contributions of very high quality. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Cyril Smith) is not present now. The Secretary of State probably appreciated his speech more than most others, because after his glowing description of nursery education in Rochdale she will conclude that there at any rate is a place where there is no need for her to provide a nursery school for some time, which will relieve the pressure that I am sure will build up on her before long.

I am indebted to the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers for his description of the White Paper as a slow boat to China. That is the conclusion we must reach when we examine more closely the White Paper and the circumstances in which it was issued.

Apart from the university quinquennial decisions, which would have happened whether we had a White Paper or not, almost everything in the White Paper depends on the action of local education authorities. Nursery schools, secondary school building, the training of teachers, the future of the colleges of education, the absence of an exciting future for the colleges of further education, the expansion of the polytechnics—I could go on and on—all depend on the contribution that local education authorities can make.

The single outstanding characteristic of local education authorities is that outside London and Scotland they are all to be thoroughly reorganised in the next few years. In April most of them will embark on the last year of their history, and even for that last year they will exist co-terminously with the new education authorities to be elected in the spring.

I do not regard myself as one of the local government doyens in the House, but I served on the council of the London borough of Greenwich when the LCC was giving way to the GLC and the metropolitan boroughs were giving way to the London boroughs. My guess is that senior local education officers throughout the country are thinking less and less about the future of education in their area and are wondering and worrying about what will happen to them in the period im- mediately ahead. They will be wondering who will get what jobs, and even if they are fairly confident that in the years to come they will fill the positions that they hope, they will be wondering who will be their new education chairmen and what sort of establishments and budgets their new education authorities will let them have.

Therefore, I suggest that nothing much will happen under the White Paper next year or for some years, because once the new authorities have taken over they will be sorting out their inheritance. That takes a great deal of time and energy, particularly when senior officers have large numbers of staff and hope, as humanitarian people, that they will be able to put all the round pegs into round holes.

The expansion, if it comes, will be very funnel-shaped, with not much happening for the first year or two and perhaps a lot happening later.

But perhaps the timing has not been so immaculate in its misconception, because most of the education authorities are Labour-controlled. After the spring a few more will be. It may have occurred to the right hon. Lady that this is an excellent chance to use a Conservative-controlled Department of Education and Science to counteract some of the policies which education authorities will carry out if left to their own devices. If that is the idea, the Opposition will be watching for precedents.

I do not intend to say a great deal on nursery education, not because it is not important but because my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) has dealt with it in great detail, particularly with the possible inadequacy of provision and our feeling that need must be met rather than demand. My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short), from her great knowledge of the subject, has also made an interesting contribution.

I want to get away from the statistics of secondary school building and to translate the problem into human terms. The name of the Thomas Calton Secondary School will not be unknown to the right hon. Lady. It was built basically in the 1880s and 1890s and it is a very bad school. Incidentally, I went to a school in rural Mid-Wales which was built in the 1890s. It was shut down 25 years ago and is now used as a warehouse for a small factory. The Thomas Calton, which is slightly older than the school I went to, is still being used as a major secondary school in inner London.

The school is spread over five sites in one of London's decaying inner ring areas. Perhaps I can best illustrate what the school is like by reading some remarks about it written by pupils of the school. One pupil says: I go to school in an 1884 building … it is not so modern, exciting and well equipped and consisting of so much facilities like the secondary and technical high schools I used to know back home in Jamaica. That is supposed to be a society which is somewhat more backward than our own. Another pupil says: The school is built in such a way that it lacks light and ventilation. Because of this the electric light is on for the greater part of the day. The unimaginative style and colourings of the interior add to the gloom and dreariness of the building. Again: On the ground floor of the building all the windows were barred with wire netting and secured with a padlock. We all knew that it served a purpose, but why should we have to work looking at the netting as though we were in a prison. Again: In this 1884 school building, if you are in one of the classrooms on the bottom floor and there's another class of pupils above you, when they move about it's like the streets of Belfast. Those words are out of the mouths of the pupils of Thomas Calton Secondary School and are a fair description of the school. But if the Thomas Calton School is rebuilt, as it probably will be, it will cost almost £1 million, and that, I suppose, will be London's share of the £10 million.

Down the road, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Guy Barnett), is Charlton Boys' School. Almost everything that has been said about Thomas Calton can also be said about Charlton Boys' School. There again there are inadequate, old, tumbledown buildings in a dreary, drab, decaying portion of London. A dedicated staff provide an excellent education, but when last year it was suggested to certain parents that they should send their children there for secondary education, the parents began to describe the school as a sink school. This description was spread across the pages of the London and local newspapers and caused bitterness and disillusionment amongst the staff. Staff at a school like that are prepared to go on working wonders so long as they have hope for the future. But hope is now being deferred.

I do not argue with the decision that Thomas Calton should go first and get the £1 million, but the right hon. Lady's building programme is so small that Charlton Boys' School will have to soldier on for a number of years without hope of any alleviation. This is the situation in which her secondary school building programme is to operate.

Mr. Spearing

Is my hon. Friend aware that the £1 million over two years which the right hon. Lady is allowing the Inner London Education Authority to spend of its own money would purchase rather less than 100 yards of the Ringway motorway which the Secretary of State for the Environment announced so nonchalantly to the House today?

Mr. Moyle

That indicates the priorities of the Government. Apparently a few yards of motorway to provide a few yards of extra traffic jams in London is more important than rebuilding the Thomas Calton Secondary School. The problem of providing a good school education depends not only on the buildings, however, but, more importantly probably, on the teachers. The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. David Price) said that a good teacher was the best contribution which could be made to a good education. In all cases except the Thomas Calton type school I would agree.

We have some interesting points which I wish to put to the right hon. Lady and the Under-Secretary of State. I have given him notice of them, so I hope that he will be able to reply to them. Very many people are disturbed by the calculation of the size of the teacher force in 1981, and the number of students required to train for it, as set out in the White Paper. The right hon. Lady is looking forward to a teacher force of about 510,000. But the National Union of Teachers, one of the critics of the White Paper in this matter, thinks that we shall probably need 570,000. As the future of our education system and of the colleges of education will depend on the way in which these figures are worked out, it is worth while trying to find out just how the figure of 510,000 was arrived at. If the right hon. Lady makes a mistake of 1 per cent. plus or minus in her projections this could lead to a windfall of 5,000 extra teachers or to a chaotic deficit of 5,000.

How did the Department work out that 25,000 teachers would be required to train for nursery provision? What is the aim for the class size? If the right hon. Lady sticks to the 18:1 ratio, she will be making a rod for her own or someone else's back in the long run because angry parents will want to know why there are more than 18 "in my Johnny's class". It would help everyone if we got back to the idea of the class size as well as the pupil/teacher ratio for the cognoscenti of the educational world.

Is the right hon. Lady aiming for a class size of 40 in primary schools and 30 in secondary schools by the end of the decade? If she is, then we and probably the teaching profession will be highly critical. What argument is there for having more than 30 pupils in a primary school class? If 30 is good enough for a secondary school, why is 30 not good enough for a primary school? We on this side are determined to do our utmost to ensure that the primary school class is reduced to 30. If that happens, then 570,000 teachers will be required rather than 510,000.

How was the 3 per cent. for in-service training calculated? Let us look at human nature here. With an all-graduate teaching profession promised, and a lot of members of the present teaching profession not being graduates, it is highly likely that a great number of teachers in training will want to get that extra in-service training, particularly in the early years. Has this factor been taken into account? The right hon. Lady says that 3 per cent. will amount to 15,000 teachers in in-service training. So we will need 15,000 teachers to replace those. Is it possible perfectly to replace that number? In administrative practice the Secretary of State might find that rather more than 15,000 would be needed.

We would like to know the age of retirement. What is the average projected age of retirement of teachers? What is the rate at which the right hon. Lady expects married women and mature teachers to return to the profession? How many three- and four-year education degree teachers will be in training? What is the assumed figure for that? How many will be acquiring one-year teacher training certificates after a three-year honours degree?

The situation as revealed by the Evening News today lends point to the serious situation that is developing. We are informed in banner headlines that the London school service is on the verge of breakdown. This is apparently because teachers are leaving London due to dissatisfaction with their London allowances. They find it difficult to purchase living accommodation, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson). That is the general experience of hon. Members on this side. If those teachers are leaving London, they are doing so because they can find jobs outside London. Therefore, even now there would appear to be a general shortage of teachers.

The hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) reinforced the point made by his hon. Friend when he pointed out that a certain proportion of teachers to pupils was necessary in the city areas particularly to ensure a well-disciplined and well-run school. What hon. Members on this side of the House are now becoming afraid of is that the hard core of senior teachers between the ages of 28 and 35 are beginning to leave the schools in London and find occupation outside. This really causes people in London to worry about the London education service. Something must be done to ensure that teachers in London are able to live in London in reasonable accommodation and within good travelling distance of their schools. If they cannot, the London schools service faces a serious problem.

If we are to have plently of teachers we must train them in the appropriate colleges. The colleges of education, which are to be more or less turned inside out by the right hon. Lady's White Paper, demand well of the nation because they have done their duty well. They were training about 65,000 students a year in the early 1960s. Governments of both parties urged them to expand to meet the teacher supply problem. They co-operated and expanded. The number of teachers increased tremendously. The training figure now is 114,000 as compared with the earlier 65,000.

It would not be too much to say that the right hon. Lady was able to write her White Paper because the teacher supply problem had been solved for the time being by the colleges of education. Now, contraction is likely. We can argue about how much contraction there should be but it must be handled with a respect for the staffs and a respect which befits successful institutions. What the staffs want first of all is adequate opportunity for retraining those who have to seek employment elsewhere as a result of the reorganisation. They want safeguards for the personal salaries of those who may lose status in the short run and and, where the services of some have to be dispensed with, adequate and generous compensation for redundancy. In these circumstances such compensation is an economic price to pay. I hope that the right hon. Lady will bear this point in mind.

Of all the sectors of higher education, they are probably the worst affected by local government reorganisation. They do not know who will pronounce sentence on them, if sentence must be pronounced, and they do not have confidence in those who will mastermind their future because they do not know who those people are.

There is tremendous uncertainty about the future, but it must be ended soon. People cannot live happily in a state of uncertainty. The situation is very serious and a great deal of hard work will have to be done. I understand that a draft circular is being prepared by the Department for issue to colleges, local education authorities and other interested parties asking for proposals on the future of colleges of education to be submitted by next November. But in November the local educuation authorities will be within six months of extinction, and if they make proposals for the future of colleges in their area the people who serve on those authorities will probably never be forgiven by their successor authorities if they have pre-empted decisions. This is one of the problems which the Secretary of State will run into.

Big colleges which are near universities and polytechnics are supposed to disap- pear into polytechnics, and little isolated colleges are supposed to be wound up. But the right hon. Lady should try to tell colleges of education the critical size for both types of college. Is the ability to attract home-based students the key factor to the survival of an education college? What the Government will do if they are not careful is to add to the school college—school problem of the teaching profession another factor, namely, geographical isolation in that many teachers will spend the whole of their school and college education in one sector of the country.

The other problem is that colleges of education were a bridge across the binary divide. They were in many cases associated with the universities. At the same time they plainly had much in common with the education departments of polytechnics. Now they are being pushed by the White Paper into the polytechnic side of the binary system, much to the resentment of a number of universities which would very much like to maintain the links with their colleges of education.

I understand that the reason for the Secretary of State's decision to push them into the polytechnics is that there is a feeling that the quality of courses in colleges of education where they join the universities must rise to the level of university courses. What is the right hon. Lady saying? Is she saying that the universities have not the institutional strength to cope with a diversity of different levels of course whereas the polytechnics have, because the polytechnics will be running degree courses and courses in the colleges of education which are incorporated into them which may be less than the degree courses?

I had hoped that we could have a longer discussion about the diploma in higher education, but I must make two comments. First, it is important that the diploma in higher education should be accepted by employers. I should have thought that the Secretary of State could have said that the Civil Service at any rate saw a need for a two-year diploma at a certain stage provided it met certain conditions and that the Government were willing to encourage the adoption of the two-year diploma in universities as a lead to the country.

Secondly, we used to have something called academic freedom. In fact, we still have. But 20 years ago, if a Government had said We believe that a range of intellectually demanding two-year courses will be a critical element in achieving greater flexibility in higher education and then asserted that the universities should adopt the two-year qualification, there would have been a cry of outrage from the universities.

The Secretary of State has set tremendous precedents for any future Government which wants to cross and go beyond the Hadrian's Wall of the University Grants Committee. Just as Hadrian's Wall failed to keep out the Scots, the UGC has plainly failed to keep out the Secretary of State.

Time is coming rapidly to a close but I should like to talk about the remarkable passages in the White Paper referring to the 16- to 19-year-olds. Of all the remarkable passages, none is more remarkable than the passage referring to those who do not qualify for higher education as we know it at the moment. A solution to this problem is very important if we are to have, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) wants, a vertical organisation of society replaced by a lateral one in the latter years of this century. The White Paper has much to say about those who go on to higher education, but nevertheless even in 1981 this will be only 22 per cent. of the population, while the references to the other 78 per cent. are characterised not so much by failure to mention them as by an apparent lack of interest in their fate.

The great bulk of young women and very many young men cease at 16 to have any contact with the education system at all. The waste of national talent involved must be colossal. It will affect the ability of this country to compete with countries overseas in the advanced technology sector unless something is done. Some few gallant souls in this group of deprived people strive on by means of evening classes. Tired brains and tired bodies are forced to work on after a hard day's work in office or at factory bench. Public financial support is minimal. Purchase of much necessary equipment is through the private purse of the student. The wastage rate is huge. In my view, those who win through de- serve not only a qualification but a campaign medal as well. Of those discouraged from trying, a very high proportion are most likely to be working-class people who have the least support from home and the least financial resources. This is a problem, once again, of the social mechanism being deliberately loaded against them.

I suppose part of the answer of the Government might be that industrial training will to some extent offset this, but industrial training is facing a cutback in funds and is dominated by industrial rather than educational interests. I would be the first to acknowledge the broadening effect of a good craft training, but it would be folly to exaggerate it. My hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. James Hamilton) got a Question answered by the Under-Secretary of State only the other day which showed that only 11 per cent. of young people at work enjoyed day release or block release to be trained outside their work. What is needed is a good general education in any case in addition to technical training.

It is against this background that the White Paper goes from the curious to the quaint, because it says that the Government have identified a gap in their educational arrangements. There is a reference to the 75 per cent. in the arrangements they have made. This is rather like saying that the Atlantic Ocean is a gap in the map of the British Isles. It is that sort of proportion which the Government find. If the Tory Party is not prepared to face the problem and to try to find some solution which the needs of social justice and the requirements of the nation demand, the Labour Party will do so.

We can say that the object of education is to provide progress. Throughout this debate the right hon. Lady, like a good Conservative, has been looking backwards while we have been encouraging her to try to look forwards and to try to solve the problems of the future, No doubt there will be some difficult problems which will arise. One would have to ask the question of the National Union of Teachers—of the teaching profession—why so many of our children on reaching the age of 16 are so determined not to have anything more to do with the educational system at all. I have no doubt that some of the answers from the profession would be very unpleasant to us as politicians, but such questions have to be asked from now on.

In addition, we are having this debate when the Russell Report has not been published. We all know—it is an open secret in Whitehall—that it has been with the right hon. Lady some considerable time. Why we are having this debate when the report has not been published I just do not know.

The White Paper is a conventional, dreary unexciting and, in parts, inadequate document. It lacks administrative punch. It rides in many places with such a light rein as to provide opportunities for confusion rather than guidance. On nursery education it is inadequate. On secondary school building it is a charade. No solutions are offered to students on the question of how they may live. No lead is given on the diploma in higher education. When it comes to adequate provision for opportunities in higher education, the White Paper is totally inadequate in a way which may lead to crises later on in the decade—and the responsibility will be that of the right hon. Lady.

The reorganisation of the colleges of education is proceeding against a background of administrative uncertainty and confusion, in a way which is harmful to their future. When it comes to those of our young people who have no education beyond 16, the odd rolling phrase and philosophical banality cannot conceal the Government's callousness about their fate. There is nothing in the White Paper about that section of the population apart from the reference to a gap in our educational system.

Many hon. Members on the Government side buy education for their sons and daughters and they would not put up with many of the standards laid down in the White Paper when they are negotiating their bargains. We do not see why the rest of the nation should bear with the inferior standards when compared with those enjoyed by the sons and daughters of hon. Members opposite.

Above all, by producing a white paper for 10 years the Secretary of State is seeking to bind the hands of her successors, like a wealthy nineteenth-century landowner entailing her estates. I must warn her that, above all, we will seek to solve the problem of those 16-year-olds outside the higher educational system and we will not be bound by any testamentary restrictions which she seeks to impose on us. For those reasons and many others, we shall be voting tonight for the amendment and against the White Paper.

9.32 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

I must dissent from one point made by the hon. Member for Lewisham, North (Mr. Moyle), and that is when he called this paper a backward-looking paper and said that my right hon. Friend was looking backwards. This is a paper which looks forwards. The entire speech that my right hon. Friend made today looked forward—for the first time in the history of Government and surveyed the future of education over the next 10 years. If hon. Members are not satisfied with that, they do not want a Secretary of State: they want Old Moore.

This has been a valuable and constructive debate. It has ranged over the whole field of education, as does the White Paper itself, and only adult education in the narrow sense has been excluded from it, for the very good reason that it is the subject of a separate report by a committee presided over by Sir Lionel Russell That painstaking, thorough and comprehensive report was received in the Department on 5th December, it is being printed, and it will be published very shortly. These are the questions which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Spark-brook (Mr. Hattersley) asked me. It was also referred to in the thoughtful speech of the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis), who was a member of that committee and played such an important part on it.

There is only one other omission from our debate, and that is comprehensive education. I was invited by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Roderick) to go into the question of comprehensive schools. We had a full debate on this recently, when the arguments were fully rehearsed. The hon. Gentleman took me to task for one word I used—"comprehension". I make no apology for that. I have been taken to task by the Teacher's World, which has appointed itself a kind of nanny, giving me marks for performance. On aesthetic grounds, I would rather use the word "comprehension" than "comprehensivisation", which is the only alternative.

The White Paper is notable for its balanced approach to educational needs. Despite the fact that we have the largest educational budget in our history and the projection that it will increase by 50 per cent. by 1981, and despite the fact that the amount of money that is spent on schools and higher education will reach £3,100 million by 1981, we are still faced with the fact that we have only a limited sum of money to dispose of. The White Paper has to make choices between competing priorities any one of which could absorb the entire sum available. It singles out five subjects for consideration—nursery education, school building, staffing standards in schools, teacher training and higher education.

My right hon. Friend, in a masterly survey—[Interruption.] It was a masterly survey, as those who were here, who do not include the majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite, knew when they heard it, and in my summing up I do not wish to repeat what she said. I wish to answer the points which have been raised in the debate and to expand what she said about higher education since that is the sphere in which I exercise particular responsibility on her behalf.

The first point that I wish to deal with is the supply of teachers. Hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite seem to be obsessed with the question of quantity of teachers, whereas the White Paper is concerned with their quality. If the quality of teachers can be raised in their initial and in-service training and in the qualifications that they get, the status of the whole profession will be raised.

The figure that we have arrived at is 510,000. We have been reminded that the NUT has made an estimate about 60,000 above our target of need for 1981, but, as my right hon. Friend said in opening the debate, it is not realistic simply to add together all the possible demands. Our planning target allows for the number of teachers needed for nursery expansion as proposed in the White Paper, for the full effect of the bigger pupil numbers, for the bigger number of older pupils which will follow from raising the school leaving age, for the full effect of the White Paper's proposals on in-service training, and, on top of that, for the 10 per cent. improvement described in paragraph 51 of the White Paper. It is to meet all those demands that we are planning for a total increase of nearly 150,000 teachers, from 364,000 in 1971 to 510,000 a decade later.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Lewisham, North because, with his usual courtesy, he gave me notice of the rather complicated questions that he put to me during his summing-up speech. The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to set out all the answers in the brief period that is available to me. [Laughter.] The laughter of fools is like the crackling of thorns under a pot. The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to go into detail, for the very good reason that an advisory committee on the supply and training of teachers is being appointed and will go into these questions in great detail.

The hon. Gentleman asked how we had arrived at our figure of 25,000 trainees for nursery schools. That figure is based on the pupil population, the present child/adult ratio of 13:1, and an improvement in the ratio of qualified teachers to assistants from 1:2 to 1:1. The hon. Gentleman went on to ask what our aim was for primary and secondary classes by 1981. Our aim is to improve staffing standards by 10 per cent. after making allowance for changes in the size of age groups of pupils. No specific targets have been set for class sizes. These will depend on how head teachers prefer to make use of their additional staff.

The figure of 3 per cent. of teachers to be released for in-service training is based on the James Report assumption that this would permit all teachers who so wished to be released for the equivalent of one term every seven years.

Teachers retire at about the age of 62, and the estimated net wastage rate is assumed to be a little over 5 per cent. after making allowance for returners, whose numbers are expected to rise from 9,000 annually to 14,000 annually by 1981.

Then the hon. Member for Lewisham, North asked how many will become teachers by three-year degree, by four-year degree and by one-year certificate after a three-year honours degree. We expect that by 1981 about half of the new entrants to the profession will graduate before training, and it has been assumed that of the remainder about a quarter will take four-year courses. Certificate courses will be phased out as soon as possible.

Finally, the hon. Member for Lewisham, North asked about the figure of 750,000 places. It does not make any specific assumptions about the number of students pursuing two-year diploma of higher education courses.

Mr. Marks

With regard to class sizes, why are the Government still telling local authorities which have schools of eight classrooms and 320 children that they have enough accommodation? Why do the Government still regard 40 as the number of children in a class?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

We have reduced the number of classes with over 40 children to a level considerably below that which pertained when the Labour Government were in power.

I pass on to deal with the points made by the hon. Member for Sparkbrook. The hon. Gentleman made an error when he attempted to worst my right hon. Friend on her own ground of figures for the education service. The hon. Gentleman sought not so much to dazzle us with figures as to blind us with them. He used or, rather, misused figures on the expansion of educational spending to attempt to demonstrate that the growth rate in education has been cut back drastically by my right hon. Friend since 1972. The hon. Gentleman started his latest hare earlier this month when he made a speech at Christ's College in London, in the course of which he said that over the next four years the average increase in educational spending would slump to the "unbelievably low" figure of 3. per cent. Our figure is 3. per cent. But I am prepared to trust the hon. Gentleman with 0. per cent.

The figure refers to total growth in the education budget considered by itself from 1972 to 1976. The figure which the hon. Member for Sparkbrook used is expressed in volume terms without reference to the relative price effect factor. The relative price effect factor, as the hon. Gentleman should know, takes into account the fact that in some programmes —for example, education—prices may move at a higher rate than in others because of the higher proportion of the budget which goes on salaries, wages or some other factor. The GNP growth is expressed in cost terms. Any comparison of a programme with the total GNP needs to be made in cost terms and not in volume terms.

A clear picture of the situation can only be given by comparing like with like. Cost terms must be compared with cost terms. Volume terms must be compared with volume terms. Any comparison of volume terms with cost terms results in a major distortion. That is exactly what the hon. Gentleman did.

The hon. Member for Sparkbrook took the volume figure of growth over four years and used the figure of 3.4 per cent. He took the cost figure of growth over four years in a GNP which he estimated as being between 4 and 5 per cent. Then he used the volume figure of 3.4 per cent. over the next four years and contrasted it with the cost figure of the GNP growth.

Not content with that, the hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that since 1959 the education budget had expanded by 5.4 per cent. That is not a volume figure. It is a cost figure. The true comparison must be cost figure with cost figure. If we compare the right figures we get the projected rate of growth of 5 per cent. in educational expenditure given in Table 1.1 of the Public Expenditure Survey over the next four years. Comparing that with the past figure which is 5.4 per cent., there is a small reduction of 0.4 per cent. in the White Paper projections. That compares with the reduction which the hon. Member for Sparkbrook has broadcast round the country of 1.6 per cent., which would mean a reduction of 32 per cent. in the growth of the education budget. That is either dishonesty—I do not accuse the hon. Gentleman of dishonesty—or incompetent. If that is so, he should not be occupying his present position.

Mr. Hattersley

Will the hon. Gentleman now comment on Table 2.15 on page 68 of the Public Expenditure White Paper?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I think that I have made my point. I will leave the hon. Gentleman to drown in his own volume figures.

I turn next to nursery education. The passage on nursery education had the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) doing something I have never seen her do before. She was billing and cooing, and she paid a most generous tribute to my right hon. Friend.

We were asked why we used the Plow-den figures. The reason was that those are the most recent objective survey of nursery need as a whole. The figures in the nursery education sphere must be tentative, because it is a voluntary—a pioneer—programme. We put the estimate at 15 per cent. over the country as a whole. It may be higher in individual areas. We must wait and see what the demand is. This is not a straitjacket. This is a life jacket which will enable the education service to expand in different directions as the need shows itself.

The White Paper has fixed a target of 750,000 places in higher education. The hon. Member for Sparkbrook asked why it was not fixed at 835,000 as was set out in the Education Planning Paper No. 2. The reason is obvious. Events have superseded that Planning Paper, which was based on forecasts made over two years ago. The revised figure takes account of the estimated numbers of young people likely to qualify with two or more A levels, which is slightly down on the earlier figure. It maintains the proportion of them who are likely to enter higher education and allows for other entrants, such as mature students and students from overseas, and the length of their courses. A number of these factors are on lower trends now than when the Planning Paper was published in 1970. Those trends lead us to 750,000 as the 1981 target figure. This again is common sense. It is absurd for the hon. member for Sparkbrook to complain that it is some kind of betrayal when we have followed the indicators and provided the future places that those indicators suggest that we shall need.

The next bogus point raised by the hon. Gentleman was his plea that the capital expenditure programme on school building had been reduced by £94 million—

Mr. Hattersley

Will be.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Very well—will be in the future. This shows how little the hon. Member for Sparkbrook understands the education system. The basic needs programme is based on the number of places that are needed. That depends on a whole variety of factors including, oddly enough—although it may not have occurred to the hon. Gentleman—the birth-rate. [Laughter.] It is true. I do not know whether there is any connection between these events, but the birth-rate in Britain reached a peak in the last year of Conservative Government in 1964 and has been declining ever since.

A further point related to the need for positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged children. It is often put about by the Opposition that they have a monopoly of concern for disadvantaged children. It is notable that in this debate we have had speeches from my hon. Friends the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), the hon. Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Mr. Haselhurst) and the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) and my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson) all on the subject of disadvantaged children. The nursery education programme undoubtedly will assist these children more than any other children. The urban programme expenditure is relatively modest, but that, too, has helped disadvantaged children.

A further point is that positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged children has been associated in the past with inner city areas. That is far too narrow a view of the situation. Deprivation is much more widespread. One can find deprivation in rural areas and in the large new housing areas which need much more help, and we shall see that they get help as part of our expansion of nursery education.

The proposals in our White Paper cannot be considered without taking into account those in the Green Paper which has flitted in and out of our debate like the ghost in the machine. The hon. Member for Sparkbrook dismissed the conclusions of that paper as conclusions coming from other "commentators". He did not reveal that the other commentators are a committee appointed by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes). It is revealing to see the contrast in the receptions given by the national Press and also by the educational Press to the White Paper and to the Green Paper. The White Paper has been hailed as constructive and profound. The Green Paper has been dismissed as a piece of party polemic.

Mr. Rhodes

I would remind the hon Gentleman that we in Transport House take the trouble to check Press coverage. I explained in the debate that the White Paper had had a good reception until some people began to do their arithmetic, but I assure him that in terms of volume of comment—[An HON. MEMBER: "Question!"] I ask him whether he knows that in terms of volume of comment the Green Paper has caused far more widespread discussion in higher education than his own rubbishy White Paper.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I know only too well that the volume of comment has been negative. There has been a great deal of it, and it has been so depressing that I had to give up reading the Press cuttings. The reality is that the Green Paper has been commented upon by The Times, by The Times Educational Supplement, and by other newspapers both national and professional with the vast weight of comment having been hostile.

Mr. Rhodes

That is not so.

Mr. Michael Stewart rose

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am afraid I cannot give way. The truth about the Green Paper on education is precisely that it is an attempt to paper over the divisions in the Labour Party about educational policy rather than its being a serious contribution to the future of our educational system. The weak point of the Green Paper, which has been a weak point of every proposal that has been put forward today, has been the absence of any costing. That is the greatest contrast between the meticulous, responsible costing of the White Paper proposals and the total lack of any figures to back up what has been put forward from the Opposition Front Bench and in the Green Paper for educational change.

There has been the suggestion of compulsory day release for all young people in industry. Who is to pay for it? Grants are to be made available for all courses, full-time, part-time, discretionary and mandatory. [Interruption.] The hon. Member asks me whether I am against it. My question is: who is to pay for it? These proposals will cost hundreds of millions of pounds. There are to be a million students by 1981, with all the capital and recurring cost and with the increase in the grant figures that that implies. Where is the money to come from? The only answer we have had was given by the hon. Member for Sparkbrook, who said in an interview in the Teacher on his appointment to the Opposition Front Bench, that it would come from increased tax revenue. I hope that he has told his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) about that.

But, leaving aside the depressing prospect of this fantasy Green Paper, I want to end by going back to the practicalities and realities of the White Paper. Every so often there comes an important watershed in educational affairs. [Laughter.] We had one in 1944 with the Butler Education Act. The White Paper of 1972 will, I believe, constitute another. The Times Educational Supplement has said that it is one of a select group of seminal educational documents published since the end of the Second World War.

There is a difference of philosophy between the White Paper and the Green Paper and the views put forward at that Dispatch Box. The view on the Labour side is that there should be equality at all costs regardless of the needs of children and regardless of the resources or of schools, a ruthless pursuit of social engineering. But there is another philosophy in education, a humane and conservative philosophy which is contained in this White Paper, which says that we should have increased opportunity but that we should not reduce everything to an arithmetical level of mythical equality which never has been achieved and which never can be.

The philosophy in the White Paper says that we should enable children—and children are involved in education, although some Labour Members seem to forget it—to fulfil their opportunities as individuals and make the most of their lives for themselves and for the country in which they live. For the first time in our educational history we have a Governmental survey for an entire decade ahead of the educational system, making predictions, assessments and dispositions for the future of our children.

Mr. Rhodes

And they are all wrong.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That is a very silly remark. It is a document remarkable for something we do not always

associate with Government publications —conciseness and distinction of style. It is a document which will profoundly influence the educational system for generations to come, and it gives its author and its inspirer, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, an unchallengeable claim to be considered among the great Education Ministers of our time.

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The House divided: Ayes 246, Noes 289.

Division No. 58.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Eadie, Alex Lambie, David
Allaun, Frank (Saiford, E.) Edelman, Maurice Lamborn, Harry
Allen, Scholefield Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lamond, James
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Latham, Arthur
Ashley, Jack Ellis, Tom Lawson, George
Atkinson, Norman English, Michael Leadbitter, Ted
Barnes, Michael Evans, Fred Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Ewing, Harry Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Baxter, William Faulds, Andrew Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Beaney, Alan Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham,Ladywood) Lipton, Marcus
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lomas, Kenneth
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Loughlin, Charles
Bidwell, Sydney Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Bishop, E. S. Foot, Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Ford, Ben Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Booth, Albert Forrester, John McBride, Neil
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fraser, John (Norwood) McCartney, Hugh
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Galpern, Sir Myer McElhone, Frank
Bradley, Tom Garrett, W. E. McGuire, Michael
Broughton, Sir Alfred Gilbert, Dr. John Mackenzie, Gregor
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mackie, John
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Gourlay, Harry Maclennan, Robert
Buchan, Norman Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Marks, Kenneth
Cant, R. B. Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Marsden, F.
Carmichael, Neil Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Hardy, Peter Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Harper, Joseph Mayhew, Christopher
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Meacher, Michael
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Hattersley, Roy Mendelson, John
Cohen, Stanley
Coleman, Donald Heffer, Eric S. Millan, Bruce
Concannon, J. D. Hilton, W. S. Miller, Dr. M. S.
Conlan, Bernard Hooson, Emlyn Milne, Edward
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Horam, John Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, ltchen)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Crawshaw, Richard Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cronin, John Huckfield, Leslie Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cladwyn (Anglesey) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Moyle, Roland
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Dalyell, Tam Hunter, Adam Murray, Ronald King
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Oakes, Gordon
Davidson, Arthur Janner, Greville Ogden, Eric
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas O'Halloran, Michael
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda. E.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena O'Malley, Brian
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Oram, Bert
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) John, Brynmor Orbach, Maurice
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Orme, Stanley
Deakins, Eric Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Oswald, Thomas
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Delargy, Hugh Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Padley, Walter
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Eiwyn(W.Ham,S.) Palmer, Arthur
Dempsey, James Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Judd, Frank Pardoe, John
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Kaufman. Gerald Parker, John (Dagenham)
Driberg, Tom Kelley, Richard Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Dunn, James A. Kerr, Russell Pavitt, Laurie
Dunnett, Jack Kinnock, Neil Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Pendry, Tom Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Varley, Eric G.
Perry, Ernest G. Sillars, James Wainwright, Edwin
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Silverman, Julius Walden, Brian(B'm'ham, All Saints)
Prescott, John Skinner, Dennis Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Price, William (Rugby) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Wallace, George
Probert, Arthur Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Watkins, David
Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Spearing, Nigel Weitzman, David
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Spriggs, Leslie Wellbeloved, James
Rhodes, Geoffrey Stallard, A. W. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Richard, Ivor Steel, David White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Whitehead, Phillip
Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Stoddart, David (Swindon) Whitlock, William
Robertson, John (Paisley) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Roper, John Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Rose, Paul B. Swain, Thomas Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Rowlands, Ted Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff.W.) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Sandelson, Neville Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Tomney, Frank Woof, Robert
Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Tinn, James
Short, Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Tope, Graham TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.) Torney, Tom Mr. James Hamilton and
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Tuck, Raphael Mr. John Golding.
Adley, Robert Digby, Simon Wingfleld Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Dixon, Piers Holland, Philip
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Dodds-Parker, Sir Dougias Holt, Miss Mary
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Hordern, Peter
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia
Astor, John Dykes, Hugh Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey
Atkins. Humphrey Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Howell, David (Guildford)
Awdry, Daniel Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hunt, John
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Emery, Peter Hutchison, Michael Clark
Batsford, Brian Eyre, Reginald Iremonger, T. L.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Farr, John Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bell, Ronald Fell, Anthony James, David
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Fidler, Michael Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Benyon, W. Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Jessel, Toby
Berry, Hn. Anthony Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Biffen, John Fookes, Miss Janet Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Biggs-Davison, John Foster, Sir John Jopling, Michael
Blaker, Peter Fowler, Norman Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Fox, Marcus Kaberry, Sir Donald
Body, Richard Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Boscawen, Rt. Hn. Robert Fry, Peter Kimball, Marcus
Bossom, Sir Clive Gardner, Edward King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Bowden, Andrew Gibson-Watt, David King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Braine, Sir Bernard Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Kinsey, J. R.
Bray, Ronald Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Kitson, Timothy
Brewis, John Glyn, Dr. Alan Knight, Mrs. Jill
Brinton, Sir Tatton
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Goodhart, Philip Knox, David
Goodhew, Victor Lambton, Lord
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Gorst, John Lamont, Norman
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gower, Raymond Lane, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Gray, Hamish Le Marchant, Spencer
Buck, Antony Green, Alan Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bullus, Sir Eric Grieve, Percy Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Burden, F. A. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Longden, Sir Gilbert
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Grylls, Michael Loveridge, John
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Gummer, J. Selwyn Luce, R. N.
Channon, Paul Gurden, Harold McAdden, Sir Stephen
Chapman, Sydney Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) MacArthur, Ian
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hall, John (Wycombe) McCrindle, R. A.
Churchill, W. S. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. McLaren, Martin
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hannam, John (Exeter) McMaster, Stanley
Cockeram, Eric Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Maurice(Farnham)
Cooke, Robert Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) McNair-Wilson, Michael
Coombs, Derek Haselhurst, Alan McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Cooper, A. E. Hastings, Stephen Maddan, Martin
Cordle, John Havers, Sir Michael Madel, David
Cormack, Patrick Hawkins, Paul Maginnis, John E.
Costain, A. P Hayhoe, Barney Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Crouch, David Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Marten, Neil
Crowder, F. P. Heseltine, Michael Mather, Carol
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Hicks, Robert Maude, Angus
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Higgins, Terence L. Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj. Gen. Jack Hiley, Joseph Mawby, Ray
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Redmond, Robert Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Miscampbell, Norman Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Taylor, Robert (Croydon. N. W.)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Rees, Peter (Dover) Tebbit, Norman
Moate, Roger Rees-Davies, W. R. Temple, John M.
Molyneaux, James Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Money, Ernle Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Monks, Mrs. Connie Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Montgomery, Fergus Ridsdale, Julian Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
More, Jasper Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Tilney, John
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Trew, Peter
Mudd, David Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Tugendhat, Christopher
Murton, Oscar Rost, Peter Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Royle, Anthony Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Neave, Airey Russell, Sir Ronald Waddington, David
Nicholls, Sir Harmar St. John-Stevas, Norman Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Nott, John Scott, Nicholas Wall, Patrick
Onslow, Cranley Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Walters, Dennis
Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Shelton, William (Clapham) Ward, Dame Irene
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Shersby, Michael Weatherill, Bernard
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Simeons, Charles Wells, John (Maidstone)
Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Sinclair, Sir George White, Roger (Gravesend)
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Skeet, T. H. H. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Parkinson, Cecil Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mlngton) Wiggin, Jerry
Peel, Sir John Soref, Harold Wilkinson, John
Percival, Ian Speed, Keith Winterton, Nicholas
Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Spence, John Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pike, Miss Mervyn Sproat, Iain Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Pink, R. Bonner Stainton, Keith Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Pounder, Rafton Stanbrook, Ivor Woodnutt, Mark
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Worsley, Marcus
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Younger, Hn. George
Proudfoot, Wilfred Stokes, John
Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Stuttaford, Dr. Tom TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Quennell, Miss J. M. Sutcliffe, John Mr. Walter Clegg and
Raison, Timothy Tapsell, Peter Mr. Tim Fortescue.
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.


That this House takes note of the White Paper on Education: A Framework for Expansion (Command Paper No. 5174).