HC Deb 15 May 1973 vol 856 cc1327-90

7.12 p.m.

Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham. Sparkbrook)

I beg to move That this House regrets that the unprecedented increase in building costs and the refusal of the Government to allow an adequate general increase in the cost ceiling have resulted in both damaging deterioration in the standard of new schools and the postponement of starting dates for the construction of many education building projects; and calls upon the Government to announce an increase in the building cost ceiling which is sufficient to meet the needs of local education authorities. This motion falls naturally into two parts. The first is a simple statement of the problems facing local education authorities over the past three years, problems which grew increasingly more severe during that time and which became intolerable during the second half of the last financial year. The problem is a combination of two factors. The first is the unprecedented escalation in the cost of new buildings. The second is the cost limits imposed on new school building by the Government.

Over the past two years the cost limits have been consistently outstripped by the increases in the real price of new construction. Between 4th April 1972 and today, no local education authority has been allowed to build, without specific permission from the Department of Education and Science, a primary school costing more than £296 per place, a middle school costing more than £423 per place or a secondary school costing more than £566 per place. The undisputed fact of the last 12 months is that schools of a quality which most local educational authorities would want to build have not been possible at that price. Very often schools above the minimum standards set by the DES or its predecessor as long ago as 1959 have not been possible at that price.

Let me give the House four examples from last year. The West Riding had to abandon the building of seven of its 39 proposed schools. The county of Durham found that on average the lowest tender it received last year was 40 per cent. above the DES cost limits. The city of Leeds hoped to build a school which, to keep within the cost ceiling, should not have cost more than £320,000. The lowest tender received was for £450,000. In Birmingham the average tenders were £4 a place above the cost limit in 1970–71. By 1971–72 they were £25 per place above the cost limit.

As a result of that situation, which has been duplicated in each of the 20 local authorities with which I have been in contact over the past seven days, one of three things has happened. Some building has been postponed to dates which have yet to be determined. Often those postponed buildings have been removed from the building programme altogether and replaced by less elegant but less expensive items. Many more have had their starts delayed by the necessity either to renegotiate tenders or to argue with the Department about the need to pay above the normal ceiling.

By far the largest proportion have met the cost discrepancy in a different way: the quality of the building has been reduced so as to find a builder who would build the school at a price which the Department would authorise. Many local authorities which have told the Department of their cost difficulties have been advised by the Department to meet them by reducing the standards below those of their previous buildings.

Let me give an immediate example. The Haughton project in Darlington should have cost, according to the yardsticks, no more than £265,229. The lowest tender was £305,800. The Chief Education Officer of Darlington wrote to me to say that the building is now going ahead at a revised price of £283,320. His letter says that this was a revised figure to which the DES agreed after we had undertaken to omit certain accommodation. I hope that the right hon. Lady feels proud about presiding over a Department which gives that sort of advice to Darlington and many other education authorities. These are the hard facts, reported to the Secretary of State by the Association of Municipal Corporations as long ago as 8th February and repeated by the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees on 22nd April.

The point about building delay is frankly admitted by the Department. On 14th March the Association of Municipal Corporations wrote to the Department referring to the February meeting and insisting that an immediate announcement regarding an increase in cost limits is imperative". The reply from the Department is deeply revealing. It begins by saying that a very high proportion of projects in the 1972–73 building programme will have started ", accepting by implication that some had not begun. That is the least significant clause of the letter. The letter adds the clause which says: even if only at the tail end of the financial year ". Let us examine for a moment what that phrase means. A project planned for 1972–73, which after weeks of negotiation with the Department was begun just before the financial year ended, may help to make the Department's answers to Questions look more respectable. In the real world it can represent a delay of anything up to 12 months. I offer a number of examples. I have said that the West Riding lost seven major building projects scheduled to begin last year. A further 32 had to be renegotiated after discussions with the Department. Each renegotiation took a considerable time, but each of these schools is regarded as being started in the appropriate year although the start to the building of each school was delayed.

The problem I have described in general in the West Riding is typified more dramatically by a letter received by my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. David Watkins) from the Reverend Harry Lee, chairman of the managers of Bishop Ian Ramsay primary school. His letter reads: I am afraid that after all the work that was put in, getting the DES to agree to the raising of the limit allowed for the new extension to £51,000, now that the tenders have come in the lowest is £69,934. That £51,000 was a special price negotiated over a long period—almost two years—with Elizabeth House. Originally, the county of Durham tried to provide an extension to that school within the normal building ceiling. The current ceiling would have provided for that extension at a cost of no more than £43,000. At that price no builder would even contemplate the work. After long negotiations the DES agreed to go up to £51,000. That was still £19,000 below the present lowest tender. To get a builder prepared to accept the job requires a 58 per cent. increase in the basic cost ceiling. Today, we have been offered a 22 per cent. increase in the basic cost ceiling, and the gloomy message that must go out to Durham from the House tonight is that Bishop Ian Ramsay school is still in desperate trouble and the extension does not look like getting built.

Mr. David Watkins (Consett)

The facts are exactly as my hon. Friend has outlined them. If the extension had been agreed two years ago, by this time it could have been completed at a much lower cost than is likely now. The reason for the extension is that 100 new houses have been built in the village and there are today no places in the village school for the children from those houses.

Mr. Hattersley

It would not be possible to put the point with more dramatic effect. My gloomy comment on what my hon. Friend has said is that every local authority I have telephoned during the last 14 days—local authorities of every sort, size and political complexion—has been able to produce examples as gloomy as the one that has been drawn to our attention by my hon. Friend.

Faced with that intolerable situation, many local education authorities have been forced to act in a way which they know to be equally intolerable. They have cut building standards in the knowledge that that is the only way to get new schools built, but they have been equally well aware that by doing that they are pursuing a policy that is neither in the long-term interests of education in general nor in the interests of the ratepayers in particular.

Let me examine why that must be so. Minimum school building standards were set in 1959. Since then there has been one fundamental change. The measurement has been changed from feet to metres but, as most education authorities continue to do their business in feet and to communicate with Members of Parliament in feet, I propose to give my examples in the old, pre-European measurement.

For the next 10 years the 1959 building standards were virtually meaningless. Hardly any local education authority built schools other than appreciably above the levels set by the 1959 standards. Since then, the Plowden, Halsey and other reports have expanded our ideas about what schools should do and what their buildings should provide. Inevitably, these new concepts have required more space and extra expenditure. These new concepts were not written into the minimum standards as almost every authority at least began to build schools which incorporated the new criteria.

The Bristol education authority put the point to me simply by saying: the present minimum standards are out of date. Until the beginning of this decade that hardly mattered, because most local education authorities were building appreciably above the minimum standard. In the last three years we have moved into a position of steady and remorseless decline. During that time, when standards should have improved, the opposite has been true. Birmingham is typical of that situation. I have a letter from Birmingham which says: The difficulties we have encountered have been met by reducing standards. I hope that the Secretary of State is proud of that letter, too. Proud of it or not, there is no doubt that she realises what is going on.

In Question No. 11 this afternoon, her hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Miss Fookes) asked the Secretary of State: if … she is satisfied that standards of school building, particularly in relation to space and quality of materials, are being maintained. The right hon. Lady ignored the Question. As the record will show tomorrow, answer came there none. Even in the absence of the hon. Member for Merton and Morden, let me remedy the omission, do her the courtesy denied by her right hon. Friend and tell her that we know that size and quality of materials have deteriorated in English and Welsh schools over the last three years. The decline in the size of school building is particularly severe.

In Liverpool the size of new schools has been cut from 40 sq. ft. per pupil to 35 sq. ft. New Bristol primary schools averaged 38 sq. ft. per pupil in 1968. Last year they averaged 33 sq. ft. Nottingham wants a minimum of 38 sq. ft. It can afford now only 34 sq. ft. Nottingham wonders whether it is right to build schools of so small a size that they are inadequate educationally and of such low quality that they will cost more to maintain than Nottingham believes it reasonable to ask the ratepayers to provide in the next 15 or 20 years.

These are individual examples of a general condition. The Chief Education Officer of Leeds prepared a report for the Association of Municipal Corporations which went to the DES in February. The report describes itself as clear evidence that a full review of the situation by the DES is overdue. It showed a reduction in size of new building of 2 sq. ft. per pupil every year since 1969. This is the period of reduction of 2 sq. ft. per pupil which the right hon. Lady—just to prove that she has a sense of humour—has decided to call "A Framework for Expansion".

During that time the quality of school building has also deteriorated. Bristol in its letter said that it was faced with a choice between size and quality, so Barton Hill primary school will be cut to 33 sq. ft. per pupil but built to other acceptable standards. On the other hand, Green Bank infants' school will be kept at 36 sq. ft. per pupil but its standards will be modified and reduced to standards which the authority acknowledges to be inadequate.

In Leeds and Liverpool some internal walls have been left without plaster. In Leeds, softwood is being substituted wherever possible for hardwood. Durable floor tiles are no longer used in Sheffield. An authority which is anxious not to cause undue concern to its parents, but whose name I will gladly give the Secretary of State privately if she asks me for it, has now what it calls "third-rate breeze-block walls" within is schools. The ILEA reports difficulties with heating, the need to build in a way which restricts natural lighting and the need to build with low-quality materials. All this is bad for the children and for the teachers.

Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)

Wolverhampton is not as lucky as are some authorities. Wolverhampton had had to reduce the square footage per child to 34 sq. ft. and has also had to make economies on finishes. The architect has had to substitute felt roofs for asphalt and to economise on paint finishes, floor specifications and floor finishes. Because tenders are running at 30 per cent. above the Minister's cost yardstick, economies such as cutting out music departments and fencing car parks have had to be made, and in one secondary school the playing field has had to be abandoned. I am sure my hon. Friend will wish to indicate that that is an intolerable situation.

Mr. Hattersley

It is totally intolerable. I hope that the right hon. Lady will tell us that the situation will become less intolerable in the next two years, but that did not seem to be the evidence of the announcement which was made this afternoon. The situation which has been described by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) is bad both for children and for teachers. As the schools get older, the problem will get worse. Today's false economies will turn into early deterioration and new schools will become old prematurely. Perhaps most important, today's cheeseparing will produce huge maintenance costs and will produce schools which are appallingly below standards accepted as minimum in the late 'seventies and early 'eighties.

In the last year most authorities have had to behave with understanding reality and accept that building up to the adequate standard grows increasingly difficult. In consequence, education authorities have tried to meet the problem by building and designing schools to a lower quality than they would normally choose. The Department of Education and Science has developed a euphemism for the process—called cost planning—but even that limited aspiration has failed.

The Association of Municipal Corporations has provided figures showing that in 1969 57 per cent. of all building plans had to be altered during the construction work because of cost difficulties. By 1972, despite a conscious reduction of standards in the original designs, the figure had increased to 70 per cent. That was the indisputable situation which we faced before today.

I now turn to the second part of the motion and its demand for an adequate increase. Can we be told how the figure of 22 per cent. was arrived at? I was told earlier today that it was the product of a study of the increase in prices in the building industry. It is certainly not a product of a study done by the people who have to pay for and maintain the buildings—the local education authorities. All their evidence, which local authorities provided for the Secretary of State as long ago as February, suggests an increase in the country of at least 40 per cent. which would do no more than maintain the reduced level of standards which the right hon. Lady is prepared to accept.

I can give some more examples of this. Durham local education authority told me last week in a letter: In most cases lowest tenders received have been between 30 per cent. and 40 per cent. over the cost limit and in some cases more than 40 per cent. At the beginning of the year the city of Birmingham was explaining the need to increase the cost limits by a figure between 30 per cent. and 40 per cent. Since then there have been six months of galloping inflation in the building trade. It looks as if the last six months were the most disastrously inflationary period that the building industry has ever faced.

The increase in general construction costs in the last quarter of 1972 was 18 per cent. over the last quarter of the previous year and was twice as great as the increase for the two previous years and four times as great as the average for the previous 10 years. That is the reason for the unprecedented rise in the cost of building. It enables the right hon. Lady to boast—which I think is an extraordinary word in the circumstances—that there has been the biggest increase in cost ceilings in history. I do not know whether to be astounded by the right hon. Lady's nerve or to sympathise with her desperation.

The increase is of such a size because the Government have presided over the worst building inflation in building history. The tragedy is that unfortunately the gap between building prices and the cost ceiling grows wider despite the right hon. Lady's announcement. She will find by the end of the week that no serious commentator on these matters will suggest that today's figure will meet the need. It will result in more delay and a further reduction in standards, particularly in London and in other areas of high building costs, but to a large extent throughout the country as a whole.

Mr. Ronald Brown (Shoreditch and Finsbury)

My hon. Friend might add that the whole education framework of London is fast falling into chaos. We are ending up with an impossible situation. This relates not only to the question of building but to the fact that teachers cannot get a proper salary or proper allowances because the Secretary of State for Education believes that education does not really matter.

Mr. Hattersley

I have never yet made a speech in the House in which examples of the point I was making have been better put in contributions other than my own. I look forward to hearing examples from the Conservative benches of the fact that things were getting better.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

Let me tell the hon. Gentleman that I was present last Friday in my constituency when we opened a sixth-form college which is absolutely magnificent, and we are all very delighted with it.

Mr. Hattersley

I am sure that we all share the pleasure of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward). Nobody is suggesting that the Secretary of State has yet prohibited school building. We are just demonstrating that she has made it more expensive, more difficult and of a lower quality.

I turn to my final point. I end by asking the right hon. Lady a question. Despite the inadequacy of today's announcement, it is at least a concession of the extraordinary increase in general building costs. Can we be assured that her promised building programme, which in our view is inadequate, will be maintained? May we have the plainest indication from the right hon. Lady that the level of new building promised for the next five years in the Public Expenditure White Paper will be maintained in real terms—in terms of real school places and real schools? May we be assured that the public expenditure exercise now being carried out by the Treasury will not be worked out on the basis that building costs have risen so fast that the Depart- ment of Education has to make its contribution by reducing public expenditure and in turn reducing the school building programme? We expect a precise answer to that question. We expect it because, if the school building programme is not to be maintained, what we have demonstrated to be the genuine crisis in school building will turn into absolute disaster.

7.37 p.m.

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

The motion moved by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) begins by regretting the unprecedented increase in building costs. That increase is one example—a worrying example—of the effects of inflation. But the House is aware of the determination of the Government to tackle inflation and of the steps that we have already taken to this end.

There have undoubtedly been very rapid rises in construction costs over the last year. The Government's White Paper on the operation of stage 2 of the counter-inflation programme made it clear that the Price and Pay Code was to apply to all construction contracts. In addition, the Government propose that a special construction panel should be established to consider how the requirements of the code could most effectively be applied to the construction industry taking account of the special features of the industry. The panel is to be set up by the two agencies—the Pay Board and the Price Commission—and I understand that they will be making an announcement in the very near future.

The motion goes on to allege that the Government have refused to allow an adequate general increase in the cost ceiling. Let me spell out a few facts about the increases. Cost limits for schools were increased in the spring of the last three years by the Labour Government by 10 per cent., in 1970, and by the present Government by 13 per cent. in 1971 and a further 15 per cent. in 1972. I have just announced a further increase of 22 per cent. for 1973—the largest single increase ever approved. This will bring the cumulative increase authorised by the Government since the beginning of 1971 to more than 58 per cent. I shall return later to the 22 per cent. increase I have just announced.

This really does not sound much like an obstinate refusal to adjust cost limits to take account of changing costs. but let us look a little further at the motion. The Government's supposed obstinacy and inflexibility are alleged to have had two consequences, "damaging deterioration in the standard of new schools" and "the postponement of many educational building projects". I will deal with these in turn.

First, the standard of new schools. I hope I may explain briefly how the system of cost control works, but before doing so I should say that this system was introduced in 1949 and has continued, by a process of evolutionary development, under Governments of different political complexions, to the present day. In the opinion of virtually all impartial observers the system has played an outstandingly important part in ensuring that we have had good value for the money spent on school building and have been successful in meeting very heavy demands for school accommodation since 1947. Governments of both major parties are entitled to a share in the credit for this, and I do not believe it can be in anyone's interest that the system should break down. What we have to do is to make adjustments to meet changing circumstances.

The system depends on establishing for each project in a major building programme a cost allowance, which must not be exceeded, and minimum accommodation requirements which must be met. The local education authority must provide the minimum accommodation required, but may also provide more, so long as the cost allowance is not exceeded. This gives the maximum of incentive to architects to exercise their professional skill to get the best value for money— and they have exercised it, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) has pointed out. In relation to schools, the minimum accommodation requirements are laid down in the statutory building regulations, and the cost allowance for a project is arrived at by multiplying the cost per place by the number of cost places, which may not be the same as the number of pupils in the school.

There are, therefore, two aspects to the question of standards—the area of accommodation provided and the quality of materials and finishes. So far as schools are concerned, the teaching area required for any given number and age of pupils is laid down in statutory regulations—the Standards for School Premises Regulations 1972, commonly referred to as the building regulations. These regulations also embody certain key requirements for non-teaching accommodation. There are, therefore, definite minimum legal accommodation requirements for schools. Major building projects require the approval of the Department and none is approved that does not satisfy these requirements.

What is true is that the margin by which local education authorities have been able to exceed the regulation requirements has been diminished by inflation. Let me take the average area per cost place in primary schools as an example. The legal minimum requirements for teaching and other areas together amount to about 32 sq. ft. per cost place. The national average figure is still some 4–5 sq. ft. above this. Building bulletins issued by my Department give advice as to how resources could be used to best advantage.

As far as existing primary schools of various kinds are concerned, of course, the declining school population is beginning to ease the space problem.

The building regulations, in addition to specifying accommodation standards, embody some structural and environmental requirements but they do not impose any detailed requirements as to the use of materials or finishes, so that those responsible for school building have a wide discretion. When things are easy they can, within the cost limits, use better finishes than at other times. Lately, as a result of inflation, they have had to cut back to some extent in these respects. But, the 22 per cent. increase in cost limits that I have just announced will put a new complexion on the matter. It means that the major schools programme for 1973–74—that is basic needs plus improvements for both primary and secondary —will be increased in value by £35.4 million to £196.7 million.

The minor works programme will be similarly increased from £22.4 million to £27.3 million. When we took office in 1970 the cost per place for primary schools stood at £227. It will now be increased to £361. The cost per place in secondary schools stood at £435 and will now be £691. After allowing for site works, land, fees and equipment—none of which is included in the cost limits per place—the total costs of primary and secondary places is over £600 and £1,000 respectively under the new limits announced.

In school building as a whole, the net cost allowance for a 560-pupil primary school has risen from about £128,000 in June 1970 to £203,000, and a 1,200-pupil secondary school from £568,000 to £902,000. Again, the total costs, including land, fees and equipment would be about 50 per cent. greater than those figures.

Mr. Ronald Brown

Is the right hon. Lady giving us the London figures?

Mrs. Thatcher

Cost limits do not vary from place to place.

Mr. Brown

What about the cost of building in London?

Mrs. Thatcher

I am giving the average figures. The second part of the motion refers to the postponement of the starting dates for the construction of many education building projects. The facts tell a different tale. It will be a few weeks before we get the final returns from the local authorities showing the state at the end of the building year, but the general picture is already clear. The great majority of projects in the building programme did start. For schools the figure is likely to be comfortably over 95 per cent. This result was brought about by close liaison between the Department and local authorities so that prompt and sympathetic consideration could be given to cost difficulties on particular projects.

In some cases alternative projects were brought forward for the 1973–74 programme in place of those which were held up. Where a project was held up it was not always because of cost difficulties. Sometimes it was a failure to complete local legal preliminaries in time, or because site negotiations had been delayed. Such matters were not connected with the cost limits. In assessing this achievement it is necessary to remember that this was the biggest school building programme ever, both in real terms and in money terms. There were more than 750 major primary projects in 1972–73, compared with 620 in 1970–71. There were more than 980 secondary projects, compared with 706 in the earlier year.

Moreover, these new projects had to be started at a time when local authorities had an unprecedented load of work in progress. This is illustrated not by the number of new starts but by the rising curve of completions. Completions of primary and secondary projects together increased from 786 in 1970–71 to 1,106 in 1971–72. The hon. Member for Spark-brook makes a number of strictures on our building record, but I must pass quickly over the record of the four Secretaries of State who held office from October 1964. Those were the years of the postponement of the raising of the school leaving age, the decline of the secondary improvement programme from Lord Boyle's £46 million in 1965–66 to almost nothing in 1970–72, and, in 1968, the cancellation of projects worth £85 million in order to get rid of a backlog.

The Government are tackling inflation both generally and in its specific application to the construction industry. In our period of office we have increased the cost limit by 58 per cent. We have started a record school building programme. We are providing the last stage of the buildings necessary for raising the school leaving age and we are carrying out the biggest programme ever for the renewal and replacement of old schools. On the basis of all these facts, I ask the House to reject this motion.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)

The Secretary of State has dazzled us with figures and I should like to give her one simple figure of which I am sure she is unaware. Does she realise that timber prices will almost certainly rise by 50 per cent. in the current year? How does her figure of a 58 per cent. increase in cost yardsticks since 1971 match up to that?

My prophecy is that the 22 per cent. announced today will be eaten up by the rise in the cost of building materials and labour costs of the construction industry within six months. The Secretary of State puts on a gallant front, but what my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hatters-ley) said was a condemning indictment of her relations with the local education authorities and with her "Big Brother" the Secretary of State for the Environment. It was an indictment of both in their relations with the building industry.

I am extremely disappointed that there is no one on the Government Front Bench from the Department of the Environment. Two Whips do not make up for a Secretary of State for the Environment when we are discussing this subject. Probably a large part of the right hon. Lady's problems are outside her control and lie with the Secretary of State for the Environment. He, or one of his representatives, should have been here. He should consult the right hon. Lady to make improvements in the structure of the building industry in its difficulties in coping with the central problem of tenders for schools and other public buildings.

The right hon. Lady made a lot of fuss about how the Government were controlling inflation. Let me tell her one of the reasons why tenders are not submitted for schools and why the situation has deteriorated so markedly. Her Government maintain two-year fixed price contracts for all public building. That is grossly unfair to a fair-minded builder. If a builder tries to calculate honestly what the costs are likely to be at the end of two years, he is likely to find himself at the end of his contract with a severe loss. If he is a rascal, the builder quotes a fantastic figure in the tender and, because other builders are not tendering for a great many public contracts, he gets the work and makes a large profit. That is typical of the Government's policy on inflation. The Government pick out those elements where they think they can score. They think that they have the builders in their grip by insisting on a two-year fixed price contract. In the same way they seek to bully the weakest kind of workers, like the hospital workers, whom they think they can control.

Will the Secretary of State as a result of the debate make representations to the Secretary of State for the Environment to ensure that negotiations are conducted with the leaders of the building industry to revise this basis of contract?

I can tell the right hon. Lady that she is getting erratic contracts and that local authorities are sometimes being swindled and often are not getting contracts at all. There is a reference in the Building Trades Journal this week about Gates-head having to tender through the direct labour department, which the right hon. Lady's Government does not like, for 19 contracts in public buildings because there was not a single contract from a private contractor.

The Government bitterly criticise direct labour. One of my authorities, Shildon, which has an excellent record of direct building and does it cheaper than private builders and other local authorities, is forced by the Secretary of State for the Environment to go through all the business of tendering because of the Government's hostility to direct labour and, at the end of the day, having wasted the professional resources of a very small authority, the local authority has to do the jobs because private builders are not tendering.

Will the right hon. Lady make representations to the Secretary of State for the Environment to renegotiate with the building industry this question of contracts? The AMC is pressing, rightly, for either a one-year contract or for a rising-cost contract. Something must be done about this in the interests of the industry, in the interests of the local authorities and in the interests of getting the school building programme running not at 95 per cent. but at 100 per cent. When the right hon. Lady tells us that she is pleased because she has a 95 per cent. build, she is really saying that she is satisfied with the administrative incompetence either of local authorities—I do not believe that for a moment—or of her Department.

This is not the only indictment of the Government in relation to getting tenders and buildings for schools and other education buildings. A marked lack of interest is shown by the Secretary of State for the Environment and by the right hon. Lady's own Department in those progressive elements of building in which at one time, when the other Secretary of State was Minister for Public Building and Works, there was a great interest. Lots of schemes that the right hon. Gentleman started in those days have gone by the board, now that he has a more elevated position and now that he has more power for pressing on with what he started in those days.

Throughout the building industry, there is a lack of encouragement of progressive ideas by the Government, as well as these fundamental mistakes which are very damaging to the orderly development of the building industry and to the orderly building of our schools.

Another quotation from the Building Trades Journal tells of one part of the country where to large public contracts were put out almost adjacent to each other. One of the leading builders said that because there was no planning of big public contracts, there was not the labour or resources in the building industry in that area to do the job. The right hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend want to look at that. There is an extreme shortage of building apprentices and building craftsmen and we ought to be told what she, on the educational side, and the other Secretary of State are doing about it.

This is tree planting year. No doubt the right hon. Lady is making a lot of encouragement for this activity. Does she know that the first thing architects take out of the school building plans are trees, playing fields, gardens and paths? These schools will have scruffy little paths instead of good concrete ones and the general amenity of schools, the finishes—the right hon. Lady admitted herself—will be cut in order to get the basic fabric. What we are being faced with is an uneconomic and disorderly organisation of the building industry caused by Government policy and the general effect of running down some of the best things that have been happening over the years in educational building.

A number of my relatives come from Canada and Australia and on occasions I take them round the country and show them things I think are good about England. They have said until recently, and they will say a different thing in the future, how good the British schools are and how much they have advanced in design. One of the things in which they take special pride and interest is the finishes in the schools and the general air of amenity that school architects have produced for the local education authorities and which until fairly recently, was one of our prides. I am sorry to see the right hon. Lady so complacently defending a damnable situation.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Richard Hornby (Tonbridge)

If we are talking about complacency, any complacency around lies in the Opposition motion, in putting detail before the major issue of the fight against inflation. I am not for a second arguing that these details, concerning the materials that go into buildings—in the words of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), the expense, the difficulty and the quality—are not important details, but in this, as in so many other debates, we are kidding ourselves if we give the impression that the consequences of inflation fall only on the private purse and not equally on public expenditure.

One of the major anxieties about the inflationary conditions that we have faced over the last five years and more is that they have done increasing damage to the things that are wanted in public expenditure, no less than to people's private means. We cannot hope to solve this problem unless we recognise that in the short term the various fields of Government expenditure have to take some of the toll of this disease.

If, as in previous debates, Labour Members are arguing for the further expansion of the public sector, so much wider will be the consequences. Of course, it is painful to go slower than one would like towards agreed objectives, in education more than perhaps in any other field. However, the background against which we are considering this problem is simply that, first, we have had unprecedented increases in expenditure and a very wide welcome for the plans for the future which were announced in "A Framework for Expansion".

Second, despite the freeze, we have had the increase in the cost ceilings to which my right hon. Friend referred. Third, we have the prospect of improving conditions arising from a slightly diminishing school population, as the population figures change. Fourth, we have had—it has not been adequately taken into account in the controversies launched by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook— the special induction of funds for the raising of the school leaving age—a once-for-all amount.

There are, of course, difficulties in arriving at the methods of bringing one's wanted commitments within the resources available. I share the view of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) that many local authorities are worried about the implications of the fixed price contract as operated today. It is time that we looked to see whether we could make some change here.

Of course, the Treasury would be anxious that this might open a door to increased costs which it could not control. I am not certain that that would necessarily be so. If the principle of fixed-price contracts were to be changed and there were, therefore, a greater opportunity for more competition for public authority programmes, there would be benefits to local authority expenditure in that way. Then there would be that much more pressure on Government to look at the inflationary possibilities for the future and take up their control of public expenditure in other ways.

I think that my right hon. Friend said that cost limits do not vary from place to place. That is part of the trouble, because building costs do vary from place to place. This is a point that Kent, a high cost area, has had to argue with too little effect time and time again, and it is something that should be looked at.

I urge Labour Members not to think that they can make speeches generally against inflation and then go on to say that, in particular details, they will have nothing to do with control of public expenditure when it suits their convenience to take that line. In other respects, I urge them and my hon. Friends to bear in mind that during the last three years we have both carried out and launched massive programmes of educational expansion. To say that we are depriving this service of the things it most needs does not accord with the facts.

8.6 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

The hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) made a more acceptable speech than the Secretary of State. At least he said that we had to accept lower standards because of inflation. What shocked me about the Secretary of State's speech was that she did not admit at any time that there was a problem. So far as I could tell, she was more than satisfied with the progress being made. The avalanche of complaints that she has had from local authorities are apparently to be dismissed out of hand. Apparently, reckless directors of education and chairmen of education committees of all political complexions are writing to the Secretary of State merely for the sake of writing, and have no genuine complaints.

Her speech was terribly complacent. The indictment of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) horrified me. Of course, detail is important. It is no good talking about public expenditure on education if we have to admit that we are reducing standards in every school we build.

I want to deal mainly with the position in Durham and to give some practical examples of what is happening today— examples which, I am afraid, judging from her speech, will cut no ice with the right hon. Lady. In the replacement building programme, we are catering mainly for deprived and under-privileged children who need our special care and attention. If we are building smaller schools with fewer facilities, we are depriving them once again of the education that they should have.

Every day I hear from Conservative Members how well the country is doing, that we are better off than ever before, and have large resources. If so, we cannot do better than devote some of those resources to education.

The Director of Education for Durham —a servant of the local education authority—wrote to the right hon. Lady's Department about the special difficulties that the authority was having. He conceded that the Secretary of State was prepared to consider special problems which were arising for individual local education authorities. He said that Durham had received some help for some projects, and went on: This help may enable us to build to rock-bottom specifications, but I do not think it invalidates the main point which I wanted to make, which is that, at present, we are having to build what I can only consider are sub-standard schools. Those are the words of a director of education. It really is foolish—I use the word deliberately—for the Secretary of State to come to that Box and boast about 95 per cent. of the projects having been started. Any education authority, given the choice of postponing building or going ahead with what it considers to be rather less than what it would want, would say that it must go ahead even if it means building what the Director of Education for Durham calls "a substandard school".

The Durham Education Authority is faced with a situation in which no tenders have been received from a long list of contractors for programme projects. I want to give the example of one school. It wanted to build a secondary school and it asked 14 firms to submit tenders. Of the 14, three submitted tenders. The highest tender was £188,137–70 per cent. —above the cost limit of £265,750. The lowest tender was a mere £122,628— 45 per cent.—above the cost limit.

Those are the percentages which should be seen in the context of the announcement made this afternoon. I ask the Under-Secretary to comment on the response by builders to this kind of contract and tell us what Durham is to do. It is all right to give figures about how well we are doing, but here is a committee anxious to provide an adequate school in an area that needs a new secondary school, and it is faced with this kind of problem. Instead of making the sort of political speech we have heard from the Secretary of State, the Under-Secretary should deal with these facts properly.

In a letter to the Department on another occasion the director of education, protesting and telling the Secretary of State of the difficulties, said: I am instructed by my Committee to point out to the Secretary of State that a number of the itemised savings on construction and finishes are considered by my Committee to be highly undesirable and have been made only because of the extreme financial problems encountered. One of the Department's own quantity surveyors who has assisted officers of the county council in the saving exercise has made similar observations. This has nothing to do with politics. The facts are that authorities all over the country are finding it impossible to build adequate schools with the facilities they ought to have under the cost limits, and they will continue to do so despite the 22 per cent. It is no good the Secretary of State's saying that so many millions more are being spent, and that this represents so much more per school. I want somebody from the Government Front Bench to deal with the problem of an authority that wants to have a school and cannot find a builder who will do the job within the cost limits laid down by the Department. That is what we are arguing about.

Mr. Ronald Brown

It is an interesting situation if, in this affluent society, builders will not tender to build council houses or schools, and are very reluctant to tender to build hospitals. One wonders how this affluent society is encouraging builders to build.

Mr. Armstrong

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for emphasising what I want to say.

I want the Treasury Bench to face the facts about educational building. This is a very serious matter. The buildings that are now going up will inevitably bring in their train advanced maintenance costs, and in 10 to 15 years' time the local authority will get the blame for allowing them to be built.

I say to the Minister that she has not only failed to deal with the arguments put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook; she has evaded the whole issue.

8.14 p.m.

Miss Janet Fookes (Merton and Morden)

As my right hon. Friend will know from the Parliamentary Question I put to her this afternoon, I too have been concerned about certain reductions in standards for schools, but I feel that the Opposition have made far too much of a meal of this and have paid no tribute whatever to the raising of the limits by 22 per cent. announced by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. I repeat the welcome I then gave to that announcement. It is welcome indeed, and I hope all hon. Members on this side of the House share that approval.

It is important to get matters into perspective. We have already been told by my right hon. Friend that none of the approvals so far given has fallen below the minimum building regulations. When the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) quotes a director of education as saying that schools are substandard, one wonders what is meant by that term. Does it mean that they fall below these minimum building regulations, because in that case there is a clear discrepancy between the point made by my right hon. Friend and the point made by the hon. Gentleman. Or does it simply mean that the standard of the school is not quite what that director of education would wish in ideal circumstances?

I think, too, that one should remember that there has been the yearly uprating. I had not myself realised by how much, and it is good to be reminded that it is now by over 58 per cent. since we came into office.

Again, I am surprised that more than one Labour Member should sneer at the fact that over 95 per cent. of the building projects approved have gone forward. I was in local authorities long enough to know that there were all kinds of reasons why there was a hitch in a programme, probably having nothing at all to do with costs: something happens with regard to the site, people cannot get the plans through on time—all kinds of reasons which would account for this. It seems to me that a figure of over 95 per cent. is a pretty good record.

I have quite a long memory and before I came to this House I was the chairman of a local education authority. I can recall the difficulties that we experienced under the previous Labour administration, and I find it particularly hard to stomach the strictures that we now receive from Labour Members in the light of their own record when they had the opportunity to do something about it. It is always easy to say "You should do this. You should do that. Why do you not do more? Why do you not raise the limits to this or that level?" But what did they do when they were in office? I can recall that we had cuts, we had struggles to work within the cost limits then involved. Worst of all, we did not even get the schools we wanted into a school building programme. I can remember one notorious case of a very old Victorian primary school of the kind on which my right hon. Friend has rightly made war. That project went up for approval to the Department of Education and Science every year, and every year it came back marked "Not this year." At long last this has got off the ground, and it sticks in the throat when we hear these criticisms from the Opposition.

Had the previous administration embarked on the kind of building programme that we now have, we should not be needing to build so many schools as we now have to build.

8.19 p.m.

Mr. John Forrester (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

The hon. Lady the Member for Merton and Morden (Miss Fookes) chastises my right hon. and hon. Friends for not granting every school building request that was put up to the Department when we were in power. I hope that the hon. Lady is not suggesting that every programme that is put up to the present Minister by local education authorities is granted 100 per cent. If that were so, there would be a very big building programme in my constituency.

Quite obviously, the rapid increase in the cost of school building has faced local authorities with what is probably their greatest crisis in living memory. With this enormous increase in costs, local authorities will be faced with the choice of doing half a job well or a whole job very badly, unless the right hon. Lady and the Chancellor of the Exchequer increase the cost ceiling rather more than she has announced today.

I give two illustrations from Stoke-on-Trent of the crisis facing local authorities. The first is that of a Church of England school in the city. The project was supposed to cost £170,000, according to the Department's cost ceiling. The lowest tender was £70,000 higher. That is 44 per cent., double the 22 per cent increase which the right hon. Lady has announced. A deputation to the Department resulted in permission being given to spend another 15 per cent. on the project, or about £26,000. But that is still £50,000 short of the real cost of the building.

In order to build a school at that price, a classroom has had to be cut out and the proposed art room has had to be converted to take its place. The building is on a rather difficult site. In order to make more savings, the landscaping has had to be seriously curtailed and specifications for the roads have been altered. There is to be one pavement instead of two.

Another problem facing architects and builders is that of using inferior materials in the fabric of buildings—a very short-sighted policy because it will lead to higher maintenance costs and almost certainly to schools having to be rebuilt at a much earlier date than would otherwise have been the case.

Mr. Idris Owen (Stockport, North)

What does the hon. Gentleman consider to be inferior materials?

Mr. Forrester

The finishes on the walls of building, for example. I have discussed this aspect with architects in Stoke and they are seriously concerned that they will have to use short-life materials which will need replacing very quickly. Decoration will need to be done at more frequent intervals than in the past.

Another danger in the skimping of building is that local authorities may be tempted to put in minor projects in order to complete buildings they are not able to complete now. This will take money away from other schools on which it could and should have been spent rather than going on new schools which have just been built. This is false economy because we all know that additions or alterations to buildings cost considerably more than if the necessary work had been done in the first place.

The other example from Stoke is that of an extension to our sixth-form college. Modifications had to be made to the original plan. This enabled our city works department to tender some £243,000 for the work in hand. The lowest private enterprise tender was £310,000—a difference of £67,000.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) mentioned the attitude of the Opposition to direct works. One knows that when builders know that a direct works department is tendering they are a little more careful in their pricing than they otherwise would be. But still the direct works tender is 45 per cent. or more above the figure sanctioned by the Department for the extension to the college. If it had not been for our very good works department, we would have had to go cap in hand to the Department again, asking for an increased cost limit.

Stoke is not an area with a very high fancy cost-of-living index, but all the evidence suggests that there must be an increase of from 40 to 50 per cent. in the Department's yardstick if present standards are to be maintained. Indeed, many would say that the standards at the moment are not as good as they should be, as my hon. Friend also said.

Not only the Department but shortage of materials such as timber and steel is creating problems, so that builders will not undertake to complete their contracts in the time they would have done previously. Yet this is an area in which a steelworks is to close, and one can only wonder at the policy of the Government towards steel when the steel industry is having to give delivery dates six and nine months ahead.

I spent most of my teaching career in primary schools when money was being spent on secondary schools, often, I thought, in order to improve the buildings and to create salary differentials. This embittered people in primary schools. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), as Secretary of State, proclaimed the new deal for primary schools, we thought that a new dawn was breaking. But the primary staffs had been the cinderellas of education for so long that they looked for snags because they could not believe that it was going to be so. The right hon. Lady stopped the supply of free school milk. It was not very popular but she defended it on the ground that the money saved would go on building. Now it looks as though inflation will destroy the dreams we had that steps would now be taken to rectify the situation.

At the top of the list at Stoke—I suppose, really, that they are at the bottom in practical terms—are 10 middle and infant schools which need replacing by reason of age or being substandard in their facilities. Seven of them are in my constituency. Included in this depressing picture is a Roman Catholic school which is second on the list for replacement. I have no illusion that these schools will be replaced in the next decade, but I would not like to think that they would be replaced by second-class schools whose buildings have been skimped but would still have to last for another 60 years.

It is clear that the whole programme of new school building, modernisation and improvement is in the melting pot. While the increase of 22 per cent. in the ceiling is welcome, the right hon. Lady knows that, in order to meet present standards, at least a 50 per cent. increase is essential, with an annual increase to go with it, and that the global sum, if the programme is to be maintained as it is, will have to be increased by a similar percentage.

I fear that over the heads of all of us hangs the Chancellor's sword. It has been confidently predicted that it will fall in the autumn. I am afraid that the golden age of primary school rejuvenation will prove to be just a dream which has passed us by—unless the right hon. Lady can salvage more from the ashes than she has done so far.

8.29 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Forrester) spoke for a great many hon. Members when he implied that it would be tragic if our ideals were defeated by inflation. That is the crux of this debate.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and his colleagues have chosen another Supply Day for a half-day debate on education. I might wish that he did not plunge us into quite so many costs and statistics, however. We looked forward to hearing a little more of his education philosophy. There is a danger that it may be described like the economic philosophy of his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition many years ago—as being that of a billiards marker. The hon. Gentleman's concentration on tiny figures misses the broad themes, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge (Mr. Hornby) pointed out.

It may be that this debate is slightly misconceived and that it should be taking place on the construction industry. Many of the points which have been made relate to most forms of building and not just to educational building. There is a fantastic load on the construction industry. Everyone knows this, whether he is trying to build a house, a hospital or, indeed, a new cowshed. The difficulty is that the increase in tendered prices varies considerably in different parts of the country. I do not know why. I accept that the alleged additional costs in the North appear far to outrun 22 per cent. However, from my own inquiries in Norfolk I am assured that we can manage on 22 per cent. with our educational programme. It is not that we have not a very heavy load on our local industry. We have.

The problem of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State must be how to strike the right increase in these education cost limits. If it is pitched too high, into educational building will be pulled an almost disproportionate part of the building efforts, and building prices and tenders will be jacked up still more. Therefore, one of the most important points made by my right hon. Friend is her reference to the setting up of a construction industry panel under the Pay Board. If building costs cannot be moderated we shall be caught in an ever-increasing spiral.

The hon. Member for Sparkbrook seemed to attack the existence of building cost limits, but surely over the years they have fulfilled a very important and worthwhile function. I can remember a time, some 20 years ago, when the costs of school places remained stable despite the inflation of those years, because consistently better design by architects got better use out of a given superficial area. It may be that the decline in the amount of space allotted to children in primary schools in recent years is not all due to a need for economy. Undoubtedly, some of it will come from the more open plans which have been preferred. Lest people believe that building design for schools is deteriorating, let me confirm what was said by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden). People abroad look to British school design with approval and for inspiration.

The hon. Member for Sparkbrook complained that many contracts were being cancelled—but not everywhere, and the answer is in this 95 per cent. of projects undertaken successfully within the time. Looking back, let us bear in mind that the present difficulties and any cuts in programmes intended for the year which local education authorities may have to make are as nothing compared with the enormous cut resulting from the cancellation of the backlog in 1968. That was done under cover of a change of system, but over £80 million school building, actually authorised, was cut at a stroke.

With us the momentum is continuing. It is more than continuing; it is accelerating so quickly that this may be part of our difficulty. After all, taking the major products put forward, as the Secretary of State said—750 major primary and 980 secondary projects in the current year— that is a total of over 1,700. In the 20 years after the Education Act 1944 we were averaging from 400 to 500 new schools a year. I am not suggesting that all these projects are the equivalent of a new school, but school building is now of a different order of magnitude.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that it should come under the kind of pressure at the edges that members have spoken about. The question is, when one mentions this rather emotive term, substandard, what exactly is meant by it. It may well be that in order to provide as many new schools as possible in the short term, some departure from one's ideal standard and finish may be a necessary choice. There is always the difficulty that in any constituency, in any educational area, in any city, it is the lucky children who are going to the new school. The children who are still in old schools are disappointed.

Therefore, is the right policy to try and maximise the number of schools that are built, even if in the short term some economies have to be made? I think that the right policy is to build the maximum number of schools that can be tackled, but as part of the design let us build in some economies which can be remedied later when the pressures are less and the numbers are fewer. This can be done.

I take the hon. Gentleman's point in suggesting that this costs more than it would if all done at once. In any individual case, yes, but not in the totality. That is better than having to knock out projects that are needed.

In the end it is a question—as are all these educational economic debates—of priorities and balancing resources. On all these cost limits, the increases were not just calculated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We all know they had to be argued for and approved by the Treasury. Such is the pressure on our resources that it takes a strong Minister to expand the programme of his or her Department in the light of the present pressures upon Government expenditure.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Department of Education and Science wanted more than 22 per cent. because it thought that was not enough?

Mr. Hill

I am not suggesting anything. It is not for me to say how negotiations between Ministers and the Treasury take place. The hon. Member can make his own guess. I have already told the hon. Member that we can manage in Norfolk on 22 per cent., and are grateful for it.

The fact is that my right hon. Friend has done extremely well in getting Treasury support for her projects. The important thing is to keep a balance. We have got the expansion of nursery education under way. Today, my right hon. Friend announced adjustments upwards to student grants and the parental threshold. Now we have increased building cost limits. I want resources to be left for some of the other projects in the educational programme. I am hoping —perhaps I can mention it in a breath— that some resources will be available to take action upon the Russell Report on Adult Education.

These matters can be considered only if the other parts of the educational programme are subject to a rigorous and hurtful downward pressure on costs and prices. It takes time to decide what cost limit may be appropriate, because the evidence coming in from different parts of the country is so varied.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the increase that she has been able to make, because it will enable the LEAs to do their job.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. Thomas Cox (Wandsworth, Central)

I feel that this evening we are discussing another stage of the campaign that inner London Members have waged in this House over many months following the deplorable cut-back that the Minister forced the Inner London Education Authority to make on its minor works programmes.

Tonight we are discussing the new cost limits on new buildings. ILEA is not only the largest education authority in the country but has the largest number of old school buildings within its area. That is why an urgent review of the cost limits is so important.

Many hon. Members have rightly pointed out the inflationary problems facing this country. Certainly everyone's daily life is affected by inflation, but we hope that it will be controlled. We are promised by the Government, especially by the Prime Minister, that inflation is now very much under control. We wish the right hon. Gentleman success. But unless there is a constant review of cost limits on, for example, school buildings, not only the immediate problem but other problems will continue for generations to come.

We do not build schools on the basis of a life of 20 or 40 years. Indeed, in the London area many schools which are still being used were built 70 or 80 years ago. Structurally they are sound enough, but regrettably they lack many of the modern amenities that we expect in a modern education programme. Tragically this is what will happen with our new schools unless the Minister gives further consideration to the problem.

We have heard a great deal about builders, but we have not heard very much about one problem currently facing the ILEA. I have a letter of 11th May from a senior officer of the ILEA in which he refers to the problems facing that authority. He says that it is difficult to find builders who will tender because of the cost limitations. This will be the problem.

I should like to mention two schools in the London borough of Wandsworth. The first is the John Burns primary school. The cost limit on that school is £248,000, but the programme cost on tender finally agreed is £285,000—a difference of over £37,000. Even taking into account the 22 per cent. increase that the Minister announced today, there will still be a difference of over £30,000.

The second school is the Balham boys' secondary. The cost limit is £791,000, but the programme cost agreed on tender is £960,000—a difference of £169,000. Again, taking into account the increased costs that the Minister has announced today, this will still leave a difference of £130,000.

These are the kind of problems which we in inner London have to face. I ask the Minister to think again and to enter into negotiations with ILEA's officials on this point. Otherwise, as has been pointed out by many of my hon. Friends, we shall get badly designed schools which will affect both teachers and pupils.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House surely wish to see within schools decent staff rooms. The Secretary of State must have visited schools at which she has been appalled at the kind of staff rooms which exist. We surely want isolation, as far as possible, for the area within a school where dinners are prepared. Again, the Secretary of State must have heard the intolerable noise which teachers and pupils have to bear while dinners are being prepared. We surely wish that decent libraries should be provided in schools where there is a basic need because of the unfortunate home life of some youngsters who have no books in their homes and are not encouraged to read. It is only by attending a school which has a decent library and teachers who want to stimulate interest that such children will benefit.

But these things will be cut back. With great respect to the hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill), who said that we can make these changes later, I suggest that he is wrong. We cannot do that. My constituency contains many old schools, as do the constituencies of other hon. Members, at which the parent/teacher associations say "We do not basically believe that it should be our responsibility to spend our money on improving school facilities". I am not against parent/teacher associations. If they organise functions whereby they will have school visits and improved sports facilities, this is to be welcomed. However, I strongly condemn the position in my constituency— and this sort of thing applies in many other constituencies in London—in which the PTAs organise functions at a school so that sinks can be installed in classrooms. This has presented appalling problems to one school. One finds that at a later date, when one has more money, this is not something of which one can say "There are certain things which we should now do in this school".

Within our constituencies many of us must have large housing estates which lack playing facilities for youngsters and community halls for residents because when they were being constructed there was a limitation on the amount of money available. Someone then said "At a later date, when we have more money, we shall make this possible". This is impossible. Here we have all the examples of penny-pinching in our new schools and the problem this will cause.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)

In my constituency we have the situation mentioned by my hon. Friend in respect of libraries. The Acton Wells primary school has a library, but if the Secretary of State approves—she has already said so in correspondence with me—and if the school takes more pupils, the library will have to go as a result of the present regulations.

Mr. Cox

Many of my hon. Friends could make that point. This is what will happen from the cost limits which the Secretary of State is forcing upon local authorities.

I often disagree with the Secretary of State, but I do not disbelieve that her intention is to see a rapid advance in standards of education. We may differ as to the goals and how the right hon. Lady is attempting to do this. But what she is doing by the limitations affects the key essentials that determine the attitude of staff and children within a school. Youngsters are not stupid. At whatever age they may be they soon realise it if a school has no facilities. They then soon lose interest in attending the school and taking part in its day-to-day activities.

Many hon. Members have spoken about expenditure. I do not doubt that money is a difficulty and that there must be some control on the expenditure which any Government can undertake. But what deeply concerns me, as it concerns millions of parents, is that on certain projects there does not seem to be any difficulty in the allocation of money.

Mr. Spearing


Mr. Cox

Maplin is a classic example. There has been no question about the money for Maplin. I served on the Committee which heard the objectors of Kent and Essex. We were told of a financial allocation of about £2,000 million for the development of the Maplin airport. There was no question about where that money was coming from. That, in the eyes of many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and in the eyes of almost everyone throughout the country, is something that cannot be understood. I hope that the right hon. Lady will have the courage to say "I have still a considerable fight on my hands in the Cabinet because I believe that the more money I can get for the benefit of schools, the better." That will be warmly supported not only by her supporters but by the country generally.

I beg of the right hon. Lady to stop using the argument which she repeatedly uses in this House about inner London— namely, the fall in school rolls which makes it unnecessary to spend so much money on London. If the need exists— and certainly London can prove that it does—it does not matter what the school rolls are if the amenities are substandard. If that is the position, the money should be allocated. I hope that the right hon. Lady will have the courage to say "It will cost money, but I shall continue fighting". If she takes that attitude, not only will she have the support of my right hon. and hon. Friends but at the end of the day she will be able to call upon the people to pay the cost—namely the taxpayers, who in many cases are the parents of the children who go to the schools such as we are discussing this evening.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Brierley Hill)

As Anthony said as he walked into Cleopatra's tent, "I did not come here to make a speech". I had no intention of speaking tonight, but, having listened to some of the appalling contributions from the Opposition, I felt that something should be said.

For sheer effrontery, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) takes some beating. Any stranger—or anybody who had been out of this country for some years—who listened to the hon. Gentleman's speech would have thought that when his Government were in power the school building programme had been given high priority.

I can remember the days in 1967, when the hon. Gentleman's Government were in power, when we had the devaluation of the £. I can remember the Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, telling the House that devaluation would not have the serious consequences that a lot of people were envisaging.

Mr. Ronald Brown

We are floating now.

Mr. Montgomery

The right hon. Gentleman assured us that the school building programme would continue to expand in accordance with the priorities that his Government had laid down. In fact, the major school building programme for 1968–69 amounted to only £92 million, compared with £101 million in 1967–68. In other words, there was a serious cutback. Nobody can tell me that we did not have inflation in 1967–68.

That cuts still further into the effectiveness of the money that the Labour Government were at that time prepared to spend on school building. My hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) was right when he said that this debate centres on inflation, and how it will be combated. My hon. Friend was absolutely correct when he said that the public sector and the private sector are equally affected in the battle against inflation.

I am sorry to have to keep bringing up so much of the past, but in 1967— again because of devaluation—the then Labour Government postponed the raising of the school leaving age. It was put off in order to save public expenditure. Only one man in the Labour Government had the courage to resign because of that action—the Earl of Longford. Not one squeak came from the majority of hon. Members sitting on the Opposition benches about the postponement of the raising of the school leaving age.

Mr. Marks

Not true.

Mr. Montgomery

All right—there may have been some very mild squeaks, but only one Opposition Member had the courage to resign on what the Opposition regarded as a matter of principle. I see that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) smiles. I have no doubt that she felt passionately about the matter.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

She spoke very passionately, too.

Mr. Montgomery

But that did not seem to have very much effect.

After listening to the speeches tonight I can only accuse Labour Members of sheer hypocrisy. The school building programme in 1968–69 amounted to only £92 million. In 1972–73 it had risen to £273 million. My right hon. Friend is the best Secretary of State for Education and Science that we have had for a long time. In Cabinet she has fought far harder for money for educational expansion than has any right hon. Gentleman who held the post in the Labour Government. They sold the pass. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook knows that that is true.

My right hon. Friend has produced a White Paper: "Framework for Expansion" which provides for a massive and continuing all-round expansion in education. It is the first time in 30 years that any Government have set out long-term plans in this way. My right hon. Friend deserves credit for that. She stressed that the Government are determined to tackle the evil of inflation. Every scheme involving public expenditure must be examined in this battle against inflation.

Mr. Ronald Brown

That is not what was said in 1967.

Mr. Montgomery

If I were the hon. Member I would not persist in referring to 1967, because that was not the brightest year in the history of the Labour Party. The Opposition have chosen the wrong subject, the wrong speakers and the wrong night. My right hon. Friend—[Interruption.] was devastating when she—[Interruption.] showed that over the last three years—if the hon. Gentleman wants to interrupt I will give way.

Mr. Brown

I said that we now have the tail end of the donkey.

Mr. Montgomery

I will work that out later.

My right hon. Friend was devastating when she showed that over the last three years cost limits for schools have been substantially increased. Today's increase of 22 per cent. is the largest single increase ever approved, and must certainly have a beneficial effect on the school building programme. Of course, I want to see superb school buildings, and schools with marvellous amenities and facilities—

Mr. Brown


Mr. Montgomery

But I believe that the quality of teaching is more important. If we could have everything together no one would be happier than I but I would rather have my child taught in an inferior building by a first-class teacher than by an indifferent teacher in some gin palace of a building.

I went to school on Tyneside—

Mr. Brown

I am talking about London.

Mr. Montgomery

I was not born in London, and if the hon. Gentleman is an example of people born in London, I thank God that I was not. I went to an elementary school on Tyneside. There were no playgrounds, so we played in the street. It was a school which in those days, and certainly today, would be classified as a slum school. But it was a good school, a happy school. That was because we had devoted teachers who cared passionately about the children in their charge.

We did not have marvellous facilities and wonderful amenities, but we received a very good education. That is why I say that the Labour Party has got its priorities wrong. Instead of trying to make cheap political capital, and not very successfully at that, hon. Members should be speaking about the quality of education, because that is what is important. I hope that tonight the House will reject this hypocritical motion by a large majority.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

The hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Montgomery) said that he did not come in to make a speech. He made that increasingly obvious as he went on.

The reply to the Secretary of State's rejection of the motion has come from hon. Gentlemen on the Government benches who used phrases such as "departure from standards may be neces- sary" and "we would rather have our children taught by good teachers in inferior schools". Those remarks are typical of the speeches we have heard from Government backbenchers.

Building cost limits apply to certain public buildings—not to private buildings —and schools are among those public buildings. In the past, schools have been built well above the minimum standards, but we are getting closer and closer to the minimum laid down 14 years ago.

The Secretary of State was asked how the 22 per cent. increase which she has announced today was decided. She was asked whether it was based on the index of construction costs. If so, on what period of the index was it based? Will the 22 per cent. increase cover the increase in building costs over the year? Builders have been present during the debate. I wonder whether they will tell us that building costs for schools and houses have risen only by 22 per cent.

This is not a new problem. Going back through HANSARD one sees attacks on Governments of both political colours for delay in bringing in increases. The lag between planning and building and the time when the increases are agreed causes serious problems for local authorities, but inflation this year and last year has vastly increased the problem. With inflation of this kind, the system breaks down. That is what has happened with school building, as with the rate support grant and a host of other matters for which public expenditure is needed.

At one time, a three-year wait meant that at the end of the period only a 10 per cent. increase was needed, but now, after a 13-month wait, an increase of at least 22 per cent. is needed. We should not only be asking ourselves whether today's increase is enough—I do not think it is—or whether it has come soon enough. I do not think it has. These are important questions, but the question we have to ask is whether the building cost limit system—which I think has operated since 1951 but which the Secretary of State says has operated since 1949—is good enough now to cope with the job. Should we not have a more flexible system, as does the Department of the Environment with the housing yardstick?

In the debate on the Queen's Speech, the former Secretary of State for the Environment said that there would be flexibility and that places like London would not be subjected to the same limits as other places. In my constituency, Denton—one of the urban district councils—had yardstick approval for a housing scheme costing £226,000. The lowest tender—which was received within a few months—was £291,000, an increase of 29 per cent. But Denton is building its houses, and the builder is getting £291,000 because the regional controller in the North West has power to approve that increase in the yardstick. If that can happen under the Department of the Environment, it should happen with education, which is just as important.

Have alternatives to the yardstick been considered? Local education authorities face tremendous difficulties with their building. Those difficulties will not end today because a 22 per cent. increase has been announced. In a report to Manchester Education Committee, the chief officer said: The increased allowances made by the Department of Education and Science do not keep pace with the rate of increase in building costs. For very short periods after the increases are granted, there is some slight easing of the difficulties, but by the time the next tenders are received enhanced building costs have overtaken this temporary easement. Standards of materials and construction have been minimal for some time and, as there is no scope for a reduction in quality, a reduction of area remains the only method of obtaining tenders within cost limits. There is ample evidence that many other authorities are in the same dilemma. Manchester does not have the same troubles as do other authorities because it has a large direct works department and it has no worries about advertising to umpteen firms for tenders and getting none back. Manchester can at least get the job done. If teaching space is to be maintained even at the minimum, other space has to be sacrificed An authority in Manchester, which regards the 32 sq. ft. minimum under the regulations as wholly inadequate, is forced to reduce the circulation space and other accommodation space. Hall areas have been reduced and assembly halls have become passages. In the first school in which I taught, all the classrooms were arranged off the hall and I thought how quaint this was.

I spoke to the headmaster of a school from Manchester. He is shortly to move into a new building which has been awaited for a long time. This headmaster tells me that his present school was built in 1892 yet has more facilities than the new building into which he will be moving. It has 10 teaching spaces and a hall. Ten teaching spaces were planned for the new building but, because of the problem caused by the failure to increase the cost limits, they are being reduced to nine. The new building has what is called a project dining area, which is 15 ft. wide and is used, when meals are not being prepared or cleared away, for craft work. The school which was built in 1892 has a library, but there is no library in the new school, despite the fact that the local education authority has taken the lead in a system of direct works and has used the CLASP building consortia for reducing costs.

In the 1950s the Conservative Government aimed to build 300,000 houses. They did this and the standard of the houses which were built was deplorable. They were called people's houses. There are some of these houses in the constituency of the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Idris Owen). I can see them across my constituency border, and he is welcome to them. Now, in 1973, the Secretary of State boasts about a greatly increased school building programme. Judging from what the right hon. Lady and her supporters have said, these schools will be of the same standard as the people's houses were in 1953. These schools will be the people's schools.

9.08 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

It is a pleasure to speak after the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks), who always presents a very reasoned argument, even though one does not agree with all of it. Although I went some way with a number of his arguments, I regret that there are others with which I disagree totally.

Whatever criticism the Opposition care to direct at the Government, it would be wrong for them to direct criticism at my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has been an outstanding success in her post. She has rightly placed tremendous emphasis on primary education and has shown a further priority for polytechnics, which I throughly endorse, and in the White Paper she has recently announced her deep commitment for nursery education, which I know is shared by hon. Members on both sides.

Prior to coming into the Chamber I had no intention of speaking in the debate, and I apologise to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and to my right hon. Friend for not hearing the opening speeches. But I became very interested upon hearing the contributions from the hon. Members for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) and for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) and from my hon. Friends. I intervene in the debate because for a number of years, like other hon. Members, I served in local government and was deeply involved in all sectors of education, which is a local government responsibility.

I was interested in the arguments advanced by several Labour Members about the difficulty of getting builders to tender on educational projects. I tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that to deny that a problem exists is nonsense, because obviously a problem does exist.

I believe that the Government could help in some directions, perhaps by legislating to enable local authorities to have a rise-and-fall clause in contracts into which they enter with builders, and also to enable local authorities to reflect such a rise in building costs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Montgomery) talked about the quality of teaching. I agree that that is a vital matter. It is a fact that even today some of our best results in education come from schools whose facilities many of us would regard as being substandaid. I would point out to the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland that what is more important than the planting of a tree in tree planting year or the laying down of flower beds is the provision of teachers who go for good results in our schools.

Mr. Boyden

What is happening in some of the building contracts has nothing to do with trees or plants but involves the importation of inferior copper piping which is coming into the country under a British Standard because it is cheaper. It is being used in schools, and a time will come when the whole job will have to be done again at three times the original cost.

Mr. Winterton

I concede that in some schools there is substandard work, and this is regrettable. I hope that local authorities, assisted by my right hon. Friend, will do their utmost to ensure that this does not occur. In recent years the standard of facilities that we expect in our schools has gone up dramatically.

Mr. Spearing

It has gone down.

Mr. Winterton

No; the standard which we expect to be incorporated in our schools has gone up dramatically, not just in classrooms, but in terms of sports halls and gymnasia. We want to see more sports halls and swimming pools, sixth-form accommodation substantially improved, and staff accommodation with easy chairs and carpets on the floor. All this costs money.

We cannot have everything we want at one go. Many schools, particularly the larger ones, can provide within the cost limits a swimming pool instead of a second gymnasium. I encourage this because I believe that a swimming pool is a vital necessity. I should like to see this sort of activity encouraged by more authorities. We do not expect just the planting of more grass playing fields, but we press for all-weather pitches which are expensive to provide. All these have to be reflected in the cost limit. My right hon. Friend has brought forward the 22 per cent. increase a little late, but she has done so and it is a dramatic and considerable increase.

Mr. Ernie Money (Ipswich)

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the great opportunities where expenditure of this sort can be used to the fullest advantage is on the lines adopted by the Cambridge colleges, which have agreed to share some of their sporting and recreational facilities with the community in which they exist?

Mr. Winterton

I do not wish to be diverted from my argument, but I entirely agree with the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Money).

I have one note of criticism on a parochial matter. In my constituency at Rainow, the Cheshire authority is about to build a new junior school. It is already envisaged, I regret to say, that this school will immediately have to have what I describe as temporary portable or mobile classrooms. That is wrong. The authority is wrong even to envisage providing a new school with temporary accommodation alongside from the start. I would hope that the 22 per cent. increase will now allow the authority to build a proper school in a permanent structure from the outset.

I trust that we shall hear a little from the Opposition about the substantial increase in the major schools programme in 1973-74 resulting from my right hon. Friend's announcement today. This will be increased by some £35.4 million, if my interpretation of what was said earlier is correct. The minor works programme will also be increased. I agree that this is to allow for inflation, but it is substantially increased and I hope that we can have just a glimmer of gratitude from the Labour Party.

The Government have made gigantic strides in education and it is about time that some of the success that has been achieved was acknowledged by the Opposition.

9.17 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)

I shall be brief, to allow for the Front Bench speakers to intervene. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) may be right if the Secretary of State has managed to get enough money out of the Treasury to maintain standards which were in vogue about 10 years ago, but when I questioned her about this at Question Time today I do not think I was given that guarantee. It has been suggested that 22 per cent. will only just keep pace with existing standards and, as has been amply demonstrated by my hon. Friends, standards in terms of teaching space have been going down. The hon. Member for Macclesfield is right in saying that expectations have been going up, and on that basis the Secretary of State has not even been able to maintain existing standards, many of which had been questionable for many years.

One of my hon. Friends mentioned the standard of construction. Nearly 20 years ago, when I joined a newly-built school under the Horsbrugh regime, I was shocked at the quality of the building. It had a roof of exactly the same material as I had put on my garden shed only the week before. Those were the sort of standards the builders had to provide in order to come within the cost limits. My hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) quoted from the ILEA letter, of which I, too, have a copy. It said that the increase in 1972 was of 15 per cent. It went on: It was announced that this increase had a dual purpose: to cover the rise in costs over the past year and to include a substantial contribution towards a restoration of standards. In our experience it has done neither. The letter went on to give figures which showed that this was so.

In my borough of Ealing I am told that one of the great difficulties is getting contracts for small extensions—relatively small in cost building terms but very important for comprehensive redevelopment programmes and for increasing school size where primary school rolls are getting bigger. The complicated adaptation works are therefore less attractive to builders who are not interested in them. There are difficult problems in that respect, and in my own constituency I know particularly of Berrymead School, where the problem is acute.

I want to deal with the question of the cost limits system. In spite of the efforts of the Secretary of State to keep pace with rising costs I do not think she has managed to do it. The cost limits system is of questionable benefit. It is allied to standards, and those standards are laid down and assumed to be correct. If those standards were realistic we might not disagree with the system. In my experience they are not realistic in educational terms, and all I have been able to get after questioning the Department for two years on the subject is evasion. The only answer that I can assume is correct is that the Treasury will not allow school standards to be raised because it would cost too much.

On 6th May, 1971, I asked the right hon. Lady: if she is satisfied that the minimum areas of floorspace specified in the School Building Regulations are based on an adequate investigation of educational needs. She said that she was, so I asked what were the terms of reference of that investigation, who undertook it, when it was undertaken and what criteria they used?"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th May, 1971; Vol. 816, c. 1613.] She referred me to the many studies that have been produced on school building in the building bulletins. None of them really goes into the question in detail.

Now, 32 sq. ft. per schoolchild has been mentioned, but the Shops, Offices and Railway Premises Act requires a minimum floor area of 40 sq. ft. In a 500 sq. ft. classroom for 30 pupils, each pupil gets less than half that. That is the standard of the so-called regulations, and it is clearly inadequate.

The Under-Secretary has been in correspendence with me about the adequacy of the regulations. Neither he nor his noble Friend in another place have seen fit to enter into official conversation on the matter. No evidence has been given to me that these regulations have been based on sound, fundamental educational criteria. They have promised that a building bulletin will be published shortly which they say incorporates some justification.

I do not think that the present regulations are adequate. We need at least 50 per cent. more floor space per pupil if the proper flexibility in education and the standards which have been mentioned are to be achieved. Until then, we have to assume that the Treasury has a greater say in these matters than the Department of Education and Science.

9.21 p.m.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

Unlike two or three Conservative Members, I had every intention of speaking in the debate when I came into the Chamber this afternoon.

During the debate nobody from the Conservative side has denied the allegation that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) made, that the quality of building has gone down and that job starts have been slowed down. The right hon. Lady did not deny that allegation. It is true that she announced an increase of 22 per cent. in the cost building limits.

The hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Montgomery), who came into the tent, seems to have left it quickly. I would say, in his absence, that this is not a debate about the number of teachers versus fewer buildings, as one or two hon. Gentlemen have tried to make it. The right hon. Lady did not say that. She did not say that she was unable to offer more for buildings because she was going to increase the number of teachers.

The right hon. Lady was asked—she did not give much of an explanation, so I will ask the Under-Secretary to elaborate on the matter—how the figure of 22 per cent. was arrived at. I know the right hon. Lady said it was by study and deliberation, but if she took into consideration all the representations that have been made by local authorities she would know that, by and large, we need an increase in the building cost limit of between 35 and 40 per cent. and that this may well need to be increased again if building costs continue to rise as they have in the last three years.

It is no good the right hon. Lady or her hon. Friends telling us about the way in which allocations have increased over the years in money terms, unless they can show, by showing this kind of money increase, that this has outstripped inflation, and that it has at the same time improved the standards and quality of this provision. Therefore, when people quote sums of money, they must relate them to the rate of inflation which, as the right hon. Lady has said, has made the building programme exceedingly difficult and costly.

It is not a question of not being mindful of the fact that there has been an increase. What we are saying—it was not until my hon. Friend made the statement some weeks ago about the need for an increase that we were told that there would be one—is that local authorities which have provided us and no doubt the right hon. Lady with jnformation are maintaining, and will maintain tomorrow, that this will do little to meet their needs.

Some Conservative Members have said that we have made too much of a meal of this; that we are exaggerating, and being unfair. My information—I believe that this is true of my hon. Friend—is not information that we have dreamed up; it has been provided to us by local authorities of both political complexions. The right hon. Lady has these figures as well as we have.

Almost every local authority that we have contacted has shown a reduction in various facilities, particularly floor space, to meet the existing limits. Can the Under-Secretary give us a guarantee that all those local authorities that have complained that the present cost limits have caused this cut back will now be able to return to the floor space that they had intended to provide in all future programmes, now that we have the 22 per cent. increase? This is one of the things that they will want to know, and, on the basis of the information that I have, the answer is bound to be, "No".

The important thing, after all, is that we are building for thousands of schoolchildren of the future and the development of various educational methods makes the provision of space a necessity if we are not to return to cramped and unsavoury conditions.

Several of my hon. Friends have said that some of the first things that go when economies are made are the very things that many people have fought for years to provide in education—pleasant surroundings, play space, trees, and the rest. It is obvious to every hon. Member, on whichever side of the argument he stands, that the philosophy of education and the way in which we are developing educational concepts far outstrip the facilities which are made available.

Therefore, when we are talking about buildings we have to remember the way in which educational trends are going and will go in the years ahead, and in the many years for which these buildings will be used. Some open plan schools, for example, require air conditioning, which is expensive but necessary. In the present cost limits, this has been made very difficult for many schools, which have had to cut back on floor space.

The present crisis over buildings is a reflection of the general tendency over the past few years for building standards to remain static, or even to decline, while staffing resources have often expanded. On all sides in education there is understandable pressure to increase the range and number of courses, particularly in relation to the school leaving age. Providing these courses, and, at times, employing extra staff, make demands on buildings—demands which will become greater in future, and for which the present attitude to cost limit increases makes no allowance.

I said that all my information had come from local authorities, and I want to quote two or three to which my hon. Friend did not have time to refer. Nottingham has said that its aim was a minimum 38 sq. ft. of space per pupil. Unfortunately, the present cost limit has reduced this to a maximum of 34 sq. ft. When the yardstick went up last year, Nottingham returned to a design of 38 sq. ft., but with tenders at 25 per cent. above the limit it needed drastic reductions plus detailed negotiations and tremendous cut-backs on many of the things already mentioned to achieve a possible tender at all.

Nottingham also said, as did many local authorities, that the cost of maintenance of buildings is bound to increase because of the inferior materials that are being used. It said that if building new schools means a square footage of 34 or less per cost place, it is hardly worth doing, since the new buildings will not be as spacious, and in many ways not as strong or weatherproof, as some of the older ones, and that acute maintenance costs will make things much more expensive in the long run.

The West Riding—and my hon. Friend mentioned this—said that it found it impossible to get the tenders for seven projects. If one looks at these projects suitably adjusted downwards it looks as if they will have to be started in 1973–74 instead of 1972–73, leading presumably to subsequent deferment of projects for that year. In the case of these schools the West Riding considers, quite rightly, that one of the greatest difficulties has been that there is so little room for manoeuvre and cut back of projects when costed at the relatively low figure of £70,000 and £100,000. Right across the board, whichever local authority one looks at, one find a general feeling of frustration and inadequacy, because local authorities feel they cannot make the provision which they know is needed if they are to make buildings applicable to the years ahead.

Southampton, as the right hon. Lady knows, is a high-cost building area. This, it is true, was recognised by the DES, which allowed a 6½ per cent. increase on the programme costs for five schools. Welcome though this was, says Southampton, it was not sufficient to close the gap between the lowest tender and the revised cost allowance.

Bristol is faced with a reduction in standards to get anywhere near the cost limits and suggests that minimum building standards are about 20 years out of date. One hon. Gentleman asked what inferior building materials were being used. We gather from them that they are faced with the problem of wooden rather than brick exteriors, and these do not wear as well and require more maintenance.

My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) gave instances in connection with Durham. I want to give one other instance of Durham which worries me very much, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will deal with this when he concludes the debate. A major difficulty has arisen in Durham over the totally unrealistic cost limits imposed on nursery school projects. The right hon. Lady is very proud of her intention to expand nursery education and I have always welcomed that intention, but one needs to be assured that this will go ahead, because Durham reports that, having obtained a Home Office allocation under the urban aid programme for realistic costs, these were cut back by the DES. Consequently, it has been found impossible to finance urban aid nursery schools within the cost limits in both financial years 1971–72 and 1972–73 without additional minor capital finance. At the moment Durham has one such nursery school in the 1972–73 programme to which the DES is not prepared to allow them to allocate the minor works capital funds required.

This, I believe, needs looking at and I hope the hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that he will look at what is going on in Durham, because if the Home Office sanctions a nursery school under the urban aid programme this means it is in an area of social deprivation and is something which is desperately needed. I hope it was never the intention of the right hon. Lady to interfere with the predictions and allocations made by the Home Office under this programme.

The DES granted an increase to Birmingham of 15 per cent. in the cost limits in April 1972 and hoped: that it would cover the increase in costs over the past year and including a substantial contribution towards the restoration of standards. In fact, the city architect has reported that this increase failed to meet the shortfall which was apparent in the cost limits at that date and made no con- tribution towards the restoration of standards. He, like others, believes that the only way we can return to a position in which former standards can be adopted and there can be any hope of achieving tenders within the cost limits is by adding to the present cost limits an increase of between 30 per cent. and 40 per cent. That is why we say that the present increase is inadequate—because it will not meet the needs of these local authorities.

Has the right hon. Lady or the hon. Gentleman considered adopting, in respect of school building, the regional weighting policy at present adopted by the Department of the Environment? I think that the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) made this point, and I believe it is worth looking at and considering because building costs vary enormously in different parts of the country. Many Opposition Members believe that this policy of the Department of the Environment is well worth following.

The hon. Member for Tonbridge made another point, which I felt was slightly sinister. He said that we were dealing with inflation and that the Opposition were rather ungenerous because we did not seem to recognise that dealing with inflation affects public expenditure. I do not know what knowledge the hon. Gentleman has on this, in relation to the school building programme, but I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will say that inflation is not going to affect the school building programme, as implied by the hon. Member for Tonbridge. Can the Under-Secretary of State give us a guarantee that the five-year school building programme will go ahead? Can we be assured that it will be maintained, and that no cuts in public expenditure will affect it? We need that essential assurance.

There was one grave omission from the right hon. Lady's speech, perhaps because of time, and I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will deal with it. In March 1973, the Association of Municipal Corporations, in a report, drew attention to the grave difficulties faced by education authorities in the provision of fire precautions. Many of us are fully aware of the difficulties and dangers involved. The report says: Practically all local authorities are increasingly embarrassed by the requirements of fire officers, whose standards continue to outstrip resources. The right hon. Lady told the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Selwyn Gummer) that she was writing to him on this point. It is a vitally important matter, which demands immediate attention, and it is being sadly overlooked.

If what education authorities are saying is true—that they cannot meet the requirements of the fire officers—surely we are in grave danger. I hope the hon. Gentleman will tell us that extra money is to be made available immediately for local authorities to deal with the requirements of the fire officers, whose demands reflect the need for safety for children in our schools. There is no doubt that the present precautions are inadequate, as the fire officers claim. This surely requires immediate attention, which cannot be included in the present inadequate cost limits.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will do us the courtesy of recognising that we did not initiate this debate in order to present a non-existent case but because, throughout the country, in areas represented by local authorities of various political complexions, we are receiving information, which has been adequately demonstrated by my hon. Friends, that they are in grave difficulties with their building programmes. All the information made available in the debate has been provided to us by the local authorities. We did not dream it up or invent it.

As the right hon. Lady has said, building costs have escalated. Part of the reason is the existing tremendous inflation. It is the Opposition's view that, if we do not get double the increase announced by the right hon. Lady today, we shall not be able to meet the urgent need of the local authorities to provide the buildings suitable to education in the 1970s and, more importantly, in the years that will follow.

9.40 p.m.

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

This has been an interesting and valuable, if short, debate, and short debates are valuable because of the discipline of short speeches, which are good for everyone, not least those who speak from the respective Front Benches. In this short compass of time, four long Front Bench speeches would be even more than this House could endure. I assure the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor), who was her usual persuasive and passionate self, that we take this matter seriously.

A debate on cost limits looks at first sight to be rather formidably technical. In fact my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in the lucid exposition which she gave in her opening speech of the nature and purpose of cost limits, showed that they are an essential tool of financial control vital in the building sector of the education service, because, if that sector is not strictly disciplined, it can unbalance the whole education budget.

Every Government since 1949 have employed cost limits. A future Labour Government, should there be such a phenonomen again, which does not look very likely at present, would retain and utilise them. Not even the hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), who produces a new education policy almost every week, suggested that cost limits should be done away with.

Nor is the gravamen of the charge that we have heard tonight that of inflation. The centre of our discussion is education, not incomes policy. Of course inflation produces stresses and strains in every sector of our social life. But whether the Government are dealing adequately with inflation is not the central question. The central question is a clear and simple one. It is whether in operating the system of cost controls the Government are doing it wisely and prudently, as my right hon. Friend and I maintain, or whether they are doing it harshly and unreasonably, as the Opposition suggest.

At this point I deal in footnote form with the question of tenders raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby). Clearly fixed-price tenders present problems, but if we moved away from them we should have equally complicated problems to face. One point about fixed-price tenders which is extremely relevant to our debate, because our policy is that a fixed-price tender is obligatory for contracts which are to be completed within two years, is that it means that tender prices, especially in an inflationary period, run ahead of rises in costs. The reason is that such prices are not assessments of present costs but estimates of future costs to the contractor. Therefore, it is essential to take that into account when trying to understand the gravity of the problem.

I say at once that the inflationary situation, which in their less partisan moments right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches are prepared to recognise, is a world-wide one. It makes prudent cost limits more and not less essential. In a programme as vast as the education building programme with spenders as powerful as the local education authorities, if there were no checks there would be an immediate rise in inflationary pressures which could not be confined to the education service but would affect immediately the whole of the economy.

In a remark which did more credit to her loyalty than her judgment, the hon. Member for Eton and Slough sought to indicate that we had done nothing about this until the hon. Member for Spark-brook saw the light at Easter at Scarborough and demanded that the Department of Education and Science should act. It really is unworthy of the hon. Lady to attempt to squeeze some drops of partisan advantage out of a national problem which, as she has recognised in the more moderate parts of her speech, is of profound difficulty and complexity.

The 22 per cent. increase which was announced today was the result of intensive consultation within the Department and within the Government in general, in the context of a counter-inflation policy. In that context, if the policy announced by my right hon. Friend came a few weeks late, that is a perfectly reasonable situation because of the complexity not only of the problem in itself but of the problem of enforcing an effective counter-inflation policy.

Mr. Marks

What consultation was there with local authorities? What consultations were there with the building industry before 22 per cent. was decided on?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

There was continual discussions with local authorities. There are continual discussions going on about building costs. It is one of the things that occupies most of the time of hard-worked officials in the Department.

So many speeches which have been made from the Opposition side of the House today scarcely seem to have taken this massive increase of 22 per cent. into account. As my right hon. Friend said— she put it in very graphic figures—a primary school place which had a cost limit of £227 in 1970 has a limit of £361 today under the new scheme. What the figure represents is the highest possible increase compatible with not stoking up the inflationary furnace which the policy is designed in part to damp down. That is the point of balance we are seeking to obtain, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. John E. B. Hill) referred in his speech. With this 22 per cent., the fact is that the total increase in cost limits which has taken place since the Government took office is 58 per cent.

The hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough asked me what the 22 per cent. figure was based on. I reply to her that it was based on the movement of building costs over the past 12 months. She raised also the question of differential regional costs limits and suggested that these might be introduced. This again is a problem of great complexity. I refer her to a reasonably impartial source, The Times Educational Supplement, which pointed out in a recent leading article the formidable difficulties in the way of such a project.

As to the fire danger, of course I am concerned with the situation if there is any risk of fire danger to children. However, the hon. Lady does not seem to be aware that education establishments are not yet subject to the Fire Precautions Act. Fire officers act in an advisory capacity. The hon. Lady may regret this, but I am neither regretting it nor welcoming it. I am merely stating what are the facts of the situation. Schools will eventually be made subject to that Act.

The second charge which has been brought by the Opposition today is that there has been a deterioration in standards. It is certainly true that in a period of financial stringency one has to look carefully at standards. There are real difficulties here. I do not deny them. The hon. Member for Durham North-West (Mr. Armstrong), asked whether I considered it a problem. Does my right hon. Friend consider it a problem? Of course we do. It is because we consider it a problem that we have raised the cost limit today by 22 per cent. That will do much to prevent a decline in standards.

We do not have to accept the horror stories that have been peddled about by the hon. Member for Sparkbrook.

Mr. Hattersley


Mr. St. John-Stevas

The hon. Gentleman must bounce down again. I will not be intimidated. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] No. There are conventions in this House. However, as far as I know, it is not a convention of this House that, because an Opposition spokesman bounces to the Dispatch Box in a fit of simulated fury, one is required to cower back to one's own bench in terror. I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in my own time.

Mr. Hattersley

Has the time now come?

Mr. St. John-Stevas


Mr. Hattersley

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He referred to horror stories peddled about by me and perhaps by some of my hon. Friends. Will he now tell the House which of the facts from local authorities that I recited during 25 minutes in opening the debate are not true?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

If the hon. Gentleman has a genuine case, with details, which he thinks—

Mrs. Renée Short

The hon. Gentleman has had them.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

—calls for investigation by the Department, I will certainly see that it is carried out.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer (Louth)

Is it not true that under any Government, if one rang every local authority, one could find something to spend 25 minutes at the Dispatch Box talking about?

Mrs. Short

That is stupid.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

If one rang every education authority, one would not be complying with the spirit of cost limits.

I want to pay tribute to the flexible way in which, in a difficult situation, the problems have been handled by both representatives of local education authorities and the Department's building territorial teams. Projects with abnormal conditions, such as site difficulties, have been examined most carefully and sympathetically. I repeat my pledge that we shall continue to do that and seek to act in as helpful a manner as possible.

The third charge made by the Opposition is that starting dates have been postponed. The hon. Member for Spark-brook has said that nine out of every 10 local education authorities in England and Wales were unable to find any contractor willing to build primary schools within the cost limits set by the Department of Education and Science, but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of projects in the building programme have started. So who is building them? Is it the contractors or the gnomes of Sparkbrook?

We have not yet got all the figures for projects which started by the end of the building year, but my right hon. Friend has said that they are likely to represent well over 95 per cent. If the hon. Gentleman does not accept the bona fides of the Department of Education and Science, I suggest that he should turn to the Economist of 28th April 1973 which stated how exaggerated his claims were.

Mr. Hattersley

What was the headline?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am not an advertising agent for the hon. Gentleman. Let him peddle his own headlines round the country. He is not bad at that.

The hypocrisy of the Opposition in this matter is bad enough. Here they are, the reincarnation of Oliver Twist, demanding ever more; but, in view of their record on their own building programme, a modest and decent silence would seem to be the most appropriate attitude.

What is worse is the sheer irresponsibility of demanding everything for education without any consideration for the costs involved. Cost limits are most needed on the inflated fantasies of the hon. Member for Sparkbrook. Both he and the rest of the Opposition are discharging their function on this matter more as if they were players of Monopoly than responsible spokesmen for education affairs. It is easy to demand increases for better schools, for better universities, for higher salaries for teachers and for more grants for students, but it is not so easy to find the money to pay for all those proposals.

We have had a good example of that today. A 22 per cent. rise has been announced in building cost limits.

Mrs. Renée Short

That is not enough.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I do not need prompting from my foil at this point.

Mrs. Short

Will the hon. Gentleman tell me what my authority is supposed to do when building costs have risen by 30 per cent. and he is offering only 20 per cent. extra to meet those increased costs?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The hon. Lady's figures are not correct. The index does not show a rise—I do not know what the hon. Lady is waving at me, but I cannot take that as establishing a figure. I prefer to stick to the index rather than to her intuitions.

The rise which the hon. Member for Sparkbrook has demanded has been one of 40 per cent. That would add an additional £90.8 million to the education budget, £40.9 million more than has been suggested from the Dispatch Box. The hon. Gentleman also suggested that in high-cost construction areas the grants should be in the region of 60 per cent. or 70 per cent. It is impossible to cost that, but it must add many millions of pounds more.

I have set out to try to cost roughly the proposals put forward for the education service by the Opposition and the hon. Member for Sparkbrook up to the end of 1981, which is the period covered by the White Paper. I am not referring to the absurdities of the Green Paper, with its call for 1 million students, for compulsory day release and for grants for all. I am talking about the propositions put forward as official policy from the Opposition Front Bench. We have the £285 million proposal today for cost limits. We have heard the hon. Gentleman's proposals for nursery schools.

My right hon. Friend has costed those proposals. They would involve £20 million a year and a capital expenditure of £70 million; a total of £210 million. We have had the Labour proposals to abolish the direct grant schools and grammar schools, which would cost £420 million over the period. Those figures are the figures of the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Edward Short), the former and muchlamented Opposition Front Bench spokesman on education. It is no good members of the Shadow Cabinet scoffing at those figures.

We then had the proposals of the hon. Member for Sparkbrook for higher education. He wants the number of students raised to 875,000. That is liable to cost £190 million. The hon. Gentleman wants student grants increased; that would cost £60 million a year.

We have this extraordinary situation that in five months of shadow office the hon. Member for Sparkbrook has put forward proposals amounting to £1,700 million extra expenditure. It is no wonder that he said in an interview reported in the Teacher that the first thing he would do on becoming Secretary of State for Education would be to go and have a row with the Treasury. As the hon. Gentleman likes headlines, I shall tell the House what the Teacher then said: How long Mr. Hattersley will stay as Britain's alternative Education Secretary is anybody's guess. The country will know how to evaluate these promises and will dismiss them lightly enough. But there is a serious constitutional point here. Shall we support the reasonable and, in the circumstances, generous proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend and myself, or shall we treat as serious the uncosted and irresponsible demands for unconditional increases put forward by the Opposition spokesmen in the House today? The House and the country will have no difficulty in giving the Government their support.

Question put, That this House regrets that the unprecedented increase in building costs and the refusal of the Government to allow an adequate general increase in the cost ceiling have resulted in both damaging deterioration in the standard of new schools and the postponement of starting dates for the construction of many education building projects; and calls upon the Government to announce an increase in the building cost ceiling which is sufficient to meet the needs of local education authorities:—

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 271.

Division No. 135.] AYES [7.1 p.m.
Abse, Leo Boardman, H. (Leigh) Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Booth, Albert Concannon, J. D.
Allen, Scholefield Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Conlan, Bernard
Armstrong, Ernest Broughton, Sir Alfred Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Ashley, Jack Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.) Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Crawshaw, Richard
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Cronin, John
Barnes, Michael Buchan, Norman Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)
Baxter, William Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Dalyell, Tam
Beaney, Alan Cant, R. B. Davidson, Arthur
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Carmichael, Neil Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)
Bennett, James(Glasgow, Bridgeton) Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Bidwell, Sydney Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)
Bishop, E. S. Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)
Deakins, Eric Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kaufman, Gerald Pavitt, Laurie
Delargy, Hugh Kelley, Richard Perry, Ernest G.
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Kerr, Russell Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Dempsey, James Kinnock, Neil Price, William (Rugby)
Doig, Peter Lambie, David Probert, Arthur
Dormand, J. D. Lamborn, Harry Radice, Giles
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lamond, James Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Douglas-Mann Bruce Latham, Arthur Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Duffy, A. E. P. Lawson, George Rhodes, Geoffrey
Dunn, James A. Leadbitter, Ted Richard, Ivor
Eadie, Alex Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)
Edelman, Maurice Leonard, Dick Robertson, John (Paisley)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lestor, Miss Joan Rodgers, William (Slockton-on-Tees)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rose, Paul B.
Ellis, Tom Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
English, Michael Lipton, Marcus Rowlands, Ted
Evans, Fred Lomas, Kenneth Sandelson, Neville
Ewing, Harry Loughlin, Charles Sheldon, Robert (Ashlon-under-Lyne)
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)
Fitch, Alan (Wlgan) Lyons, Edward (Bradford,E.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) McBride, Neil Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McElhone, Frank Silverman, Julius
Ford, Ben McGuire, Michael Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Forrester, John Mackenzie, Gregor Spearing, Nigel
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mackie, John Stallard, A. W.
Freeson, Reginald Mackintosh, John P. Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Galpern, Sir Myer Maclennan, Robert Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Garrett W. E. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow,C.) Strang, Gavin
Gilbert, Dr. John McNamara, J. Kevin Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mallalieu, J. P- W. (Huddersfield, E.) summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Grant, George (Morpeth) Marks, Kenneth Swain, Thomas
Grant. John D. (Islington, E.) Marquand, Davit Thomas.Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff.W.)
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Marsden, F. Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marshall, Dr. Edmund Tinn, James
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mayhew, Christopher Torney, Tom
Hamling, William Meacher, Michael Tuck, Rapheal
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Varley, Eric G.
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mikardo, Ian Wainwright, Edwin
Hart Rt. Hn. Judith Millan, Bruce Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Hattersley Roy Miller, Dr. M. S. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Healey. Rt. Hn. Denis Millne, Edward Wallace, George
Heffer, Eric S. Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) watkins, David
Hilton, W.S. Molloy, William Weitzman, David
Horam, John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wellbeloved, James
Houghton, Rt Hn. Douglas Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Huckfield, Lesie Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) white, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Moyle, Roland Whitehead, Phillip
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Clewyn (Anglesy) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Ferderick Whitlock, William
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Ogden, Eric willey, Rt. Hn. Fedrick
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) O'Halloran, Michael Williams, Alan (swansea, W.)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) O'Malley, Brian Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hunter, Adam Oram, Bert Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Irvine. Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Orbach, Maurice Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Janner, Greville Orme, Stanley Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Jay Rt. Hn. Douglas Oswald, Thomas Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) woof, Robert
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Padley, Walter
John, Brynmor Paget, R. T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham S.) Palmer, Arthur Mr. Donald Coleman and
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Mr. Joseph Harper.
Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Adley, Robert Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Body, Richard Chapman, Sydney
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Boscawen, Hn. Robert Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bossom, Sir Clive Chichester-Clark, R.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Bowden, Andrew Churchill, W. S.
Astor, John Braine, Sir Bernard Clark, William (Surrey, E.)
Atkins, Humphrey Bray, Ronald Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Awdry, Daniel Brewis, John Cockeram, Eric
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Brinton, Sir Tatton Coombs, Derek
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Cooper, A. E.
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick
Batsford, Brian Bruce-Gardyne, J Cormack, Patrick
Beamish, Col. Sir Tutton Bryan, Sir Paul Costain, A. P
Bell, Ronald Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N*M) Crowder, F. P.
Benyon, W. Buck, Antony d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Berry, Hn. Anthony Bullus, Sir Eric dAvigdor-Goldsmld,Maj.-Gen.Jack
Bifien, John Burden, F. A. Dean, Paul
Biggs-Davison, John Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Blaker, Peter Carlisle, Mark Dixon, Piers
Drayson, G. B. Kinsey, J. R. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kitson, Timothy Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs. Jill Redmond, Robert
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Knox, David Reed, Laurence (Bolton, E.)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lambton, Lord Rees, Peter (Dover)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lamont, Norman Rees-Davies, W. R.
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne. N.) Lane, David Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Emery, Peter Langford-Holt, Sir John Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Fell, Anthony Le Marchant, Spencer Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Ridsdale, Julian
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Roberts Wyn (Conway)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Longden, Sir Gilbert Rost, Peter
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Loveridge, John Russell, Sir Ronald
Fookes, Miss Janet Luce, R. N. St, John-Stevas, Norman
Fortescue, Tim McAdden, Sir Stephen Scott, Nicholas
Foster, Sir John MacArthur, Ian Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Fowler, Norman McCrindle, R. A. Shelton, William (Clapham)
Fox, Marcus McLaren, Martin Shersby, Michael
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) McMaster, Stanley Simeons, Charles
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Sinclair Sir George
Gardner, Edward McNair-Wilson, Michael Skeet, T. H. H.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Glyn, Dr. Alan Maddan, Martin Soref, Harold
Goodhart, Philip Madel, David Speed, Keith
Gorst, John Maginnis, John E. Spence, John
Gower, Raymond Marten, Neil Sproat, lain
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Mather, Carol Stainton, Keith
Gray, Hamish Maude, Angus Stanbrook, Ivor
Green, Alan Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury SI. Edmunds) Mawby, Ray Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Grylls, Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Gummer, J. Selwyn Meyer, Sir Anthony Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Gurden, Harold Mills, Stratton (Ballast, N.) Stokes, John
Hall, John (Wycombe) Miscampbell, Norman Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire, W) Sutcliffe, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Tapsell, Peter
Hannam, John (Exeter) Moate, Roger Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Molyneaux, James Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Money, Ernle Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Haselhurst, Alan Monks, Mrs. Connie Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Hastings, Stephen Monro, Hector Tebbit, Norman
Havers, Sir Michael Montgomery, Fergus Temple, John M.
Hawkins Paul More, Jasper Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Hayhoe Barney Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Heseltine, Michael Morrison, Charles Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Hicks, Robert Mudd, David Tilney, John
Murton, Oscar
Higglns, Terence L. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Hiley, Joseph Neave, Airey Trew, Peter
Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Tugendhat, Christopher
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Noble Rt. Hn. Michael Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Holland, Philip Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hordern, Peter Normanton, Tom Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Nott, John Waddington, David
Hornby, Richard Onslow, Cranley Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Particia Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Walters, Dennis
Howell, David (Guildford) Owen, Idris, (Stockport, N.) Ward, DameIrene
Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Paisley, Rev. Ian Wiggin, Jerry
James, David Parkinson, Cecil Wilkinson, John
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Percival, Ian Winterton, Nicholas
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Woirige-Gordon, Patrick
Jessel, Toby PiKe, Miss Mervyn Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pounder, Rafton Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Woodnutt Mark
Jopling, Michael Price, David (Eastleigh) Worsley Marcus
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Kaberry, Sir Donald Proudloot, Wilfred
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Kershaw, Anthony Quennell, Miss J. M. Mr. Walter Clegg and
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Raison, Timothy Mr, Bernard Weatherill
King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Division No. 136.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Gourlay, Harry Morris, Alfred (Wylhenshawe)
Allen, Scholefield Grant, George (Morpeth) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Armstrong, Ernest Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Ashley, Jack Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Murray, Ronald King
Ashton, Joe Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Ogden, Eric
Bag or, Gordon A. T. Hamilton, William (File, W.) O'Halloran, Michael
Barnes, Michael Hamling, William O'Malley, Brian
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Oram, Bert
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orbach, Maurice
Baxter, William Hart, Rt. Hn.Judith Orme, Stanley
Beaney, Alan Hattersley, Roy Oswald, Thomas
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Healey, Rt. Hn. Denia Owen, Or. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Brldgeton) Heffer, Eric S. Padley, Wallet
Bidwell, Sydney Hilton, W. S. Paget, R. T.
Bishop, E. S. Hooson Emlyn Palmer, Arthur
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Horam, John Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Booth, Albert
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Huckfield, Leslie Pavitt, Laurie
Broughton, Sir Alfred Hugjes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Brown, Robert C. (Nc'tle-u-Tyne,W.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Price William (Rugby)
Brown, Hugh D. {G'gow, Provan) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Probert Arthur
Brown, Ronald(Shoreditch & F'bury) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Radice, Giles
Buchan, Norman Hunter, Adam Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur'Edge Hill) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Janner, Greville Rhodes Geoffrey '
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Richard' Ivor
Cant, R. B. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Roberts, Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)
Carmichael, Neil Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechlord) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Carter, Ray (Birmingham, Nirthfield) John, Brynmor Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rose, Paul B.
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Ross, Rt. Hn. william (Kilmarnock)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rowlands Ted
Coleman, Donald Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sandelson, Neville
Concannon, J. D. Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Conlan, Bernard Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) short, Mrs. Renee (Whampton.N.E.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kaufman, Gerald Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Kelley, Richard Silkin, Rt. Hn. john (Deptfort)
Crawshaw, Richard Kerr, Russel Silverman, Julius
Cronin, John
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Kinnock, Neil Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Lamble, David Spearing, Nigel
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Lamborn, Harry Stallard, A. W.
Cunnngham.G. (Islington SW.) Lamond, James Stoddart, David (Swlndon)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Latham, Arthur Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Dalyell, Tam Lawson, George Strang, Gavin
Davidson, Arthur Leadbltter, Ted Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Dav es, Denzil (Llanally) Lee, Rt. Hn. FreDerick Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Davies, G. Elfled (Rhondda, E.) Leonard, Dick Swain, Thomas
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lestor, Miss Joan Taverne, Dick
Davis, Clinton (Hackney. C.) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Thomas, Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff, W.)
Davis Terry (Bromsgrove) Lewis, Ron (Carlislie) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertlllery)
Deaklns, Eric Lipton, Marcus Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
do Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lomas, kenneth Tinn, James
Delargy, Hugh Loughlln, Charles Tope, Graham
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Torney Tom
Dempsey, James Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Tuck, Raphael
Doig, Peter McBride, Neil Varley, Eric G.
Dormand, J. p. McCartney, Hugh Wainwright, Edwin
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) McElhone, Frank Waldert, Brian (B'rn'ham, All Saint.)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McGuire, Michael Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Duffy, A.E.P. Mackenzie, Gregor Wallace, George
Dunn, James A. Mackie, John Watkins, David
Eadle, Alex Mackintosh, John P. Weltzman, David
Edelman, Maurice Maclennan, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) wells William (Walsall N)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McNamara, J. Kevin White, James (Glasgow. Pollok)
Ellis, Tom Mallalleu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) whitehead, Phillip
English, Michael Marks, Kenneth Whitlock, William
Evans, Fred Marquand, David Wllley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Ewing, Harry Marsden, F. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fernyhough, R. Hn. E. Marshall, Dr. Edmund Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Kltchln)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mayhew, Christopher Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Meacher, Michael Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Ford, Ben Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Forrester, John Mikardo, Ian Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Millan, Bruce Woof, Robert
Freeson, Reginald Miller, Dr. M. S.
Galpern, Sir Myer Milne, Edward TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Garrett, W. E. Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Mr James Hamilton and
Gilbert, Dr. John Molloy, William Mr. Joseph Harper.
Adley, Robert Gower, Raymond Mlscampbeil, Norman
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Gram, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gray, Hamish Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Green, Alan Moate, Roger
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Molyneaux, James
Astor, John Grylls, Michael Money, Ernie
Atkins, Humphrey Gummer, J. Selwyn Monks, Mrs. Connie
Awdry, Daniel Gurden, Harold Monro, Hector
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Hail, Miss Joan (Kelghley) Montgomery, Fergus
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Hall, John (Wycombe) More, Jasper
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Batsford, Brian Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hannam, John (Exeter) Morrison, Charles
Bell, Ronald Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mudd, David
Benyon, W. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Murton, Oscar
Berry, Hn. Anthony Haselhurst, Alan Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Biffen, John Hastings, Stephen Neave, Airey
Biggs-Davison, John Havers, Michael Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Blaker, Peter Hawkins, Paul Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hayhoe, Barney Normanton, Tom
Body, Richard Heseltine, Michael Nott, John
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Hivks, Robert Onslow, Cranley
Bossom, Sir Clive Higgins, Terence L. Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Bowden Andrew Hiley, Joseph Orr. Capt. L. P. S.
Braine, Sir Bernard Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Bray, Ronald
Brewis, John Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Holland, Phillip Parkinson, Cecil
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Hordern, Peter Percival, Ian
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hornby, Richard Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bryan, Sir Paul Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Pounder, Rafton
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (angus, N & M) Howell, David (Guildford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Buck, Antony Hutchison, Michael Clark Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bullus, Sir Eric Iremonger, T. L. Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Burden, F. A. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) James, David Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Carlisle, Mark Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Quennell, Miss J. M.
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Raison, Timothy
Chapman, Sydney Jessel, Toby Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PEter
Chichester-Clark, R. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Redmond, Robert
Churchill, W. S. Jopling, Michael Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rees, Peter (Dover
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Kaberry, Sir Donald Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cockeram, Eric Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Coombs, Derek Kershaw, Anthony Rhys, Williams, Sir Brandon
Cooper, A. E. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Ridley,Hn. Nicholas
Corfleld, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ridsdale, Julian
Cormack, Patrick Kinsey, J. R. Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Costain, A. P. Kirk, Peter Rost, Peter
Crowder, F. P. Kitson, Timothy Russell, Sir Ronald
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Knight Mrs. Jill St. John-Stevas, Norman
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen.Jack Knox, David Scott, Nicholas
Dean, Paul Lambton, Lord Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Lamont, Norman Shelton, William (Clapham)
Dixon, Piers Lane, David Shersby, Michael
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Langford-Holt, Sir John Simeons, Charles
Drayson, G. B. Le Marchant, Spencer Sinclair, Sir George
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Skeet, T. H. H.
Dykes, Hugh Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Longden, Sir Gilbert Soref, Harold
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Loveridge, John Speed, Keith
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Luce, R. N. Spence, John
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.) McAdden, Sir Stephen Sproat, lain
Emery, Peter MacArthur, Ian Stainton, Keith
Fell, Anthony McCrindle, R. A. Stanbrook, Ivor
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy McLaren, Martin Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) McMaster, Stanley Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Macmillan.Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McNair-Wilson, Michael Stokes, John
Fookes, Miss Janet McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Foster, Sir John Maddan, Martin Sutcliffe, John
Fowler, Norman Madel, David Tapsell, Peter
Fox, Marcus Maginnis, John E. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Marten, Nell Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Galbralth, Hn. T. G.D. Mather, Carol Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gardner, Edward Maude, Angus Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Gibson-Watt, David Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Tebbit, Norman
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mawby, Ray Temple, John M.
Glyn, Dr. Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Goodhart, Philip Meyer, Sir Anthony Thomas, John Stradllng (Monmouth,
Gorst, John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Tilney, John Walters, Dennis Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Trarford, Dr. Anthony Ward, Dame Irene Woodnutt, Mark
Trew, Peter Weatherill, Bernara Worsley, Marcus
Tugendhat, Christopher White, Roger (Gravesend) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Wiggin, Jerry
van Straubenzee, W. R. Wilkinson, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Winterton, Nicholas Mr. Walter Clegg and
Waddington, David Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick Mr. Tim Fortescue.
Walder, David (Clitheroe)

Question accordingly negatived.