HC Deb 09 November 1976 vol 919 cc223-351

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 1, line 6, at beginning insert: Without prejudice to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents as provided for in section 76 of the Education Act 1944 and subject to the duty of local education authorities to secure provision of secondary schools sufficient in number, character and equipment to afford for all pupils opportunities for education offering such variety of instruction and training as may be desirable in view of their different ages, abilities and aptitudes as provided for in section 8 of the Education Act 1944 and

4.0 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mrs. Shirley Williams)

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This amendment has already had a very fair exposure in discussion during about two and a half sittings of our Standing Committee. During the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", the Chairman said: I should remind the Committee that we have had far-reaching debates already on this clause."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 23rd March 1976; c. 766.] I spent a large part of the early hours of the morning reading with fascination the words of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) deploying the legal arguments. I admire his Latin, but at the end of reading through all stages of the Bill thus far in the other place and in the House of Commons, I found that there seemed to be little between us on Lords Amendment No. 1.

It is the Government's view, which has been reiterated time and again, that the amendment merely adds unnecessary wording and that the point which has been argued time and again by the Oppo- sition with regard to Sections 8 and 76 of the 1944 Act is effectively dealt with by Clause 12 of the Bill— This Act shall be construed as one with the Education Act 1944. Since there has been no question of repealing Section 76, Section 8 or Section 99 of the 1944 Act, this means in practice that local authorities would need to have regard to all three principles.

For the convenience of the House, let me briefly list those principles. The first is the one connected with Section 76 of the 1944 Act— so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. That is the wish of the Government also, and it would stand as a requirement to which local education authorities must continue to have regard in all their schemes and plans.

Mr. Peter Morrison (City of Chester)

Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Williams

May I first develop the matter? I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman when I have deployed my argument.

The second general principle to which authorities must have regard is embodied in Section 8 of the 1944 Act, which lays down the duty of local education authorities to secure the provision of primary and secondary schools' which, among other things, meet an adequate range of the needs of pupils of different ages, abilities and aptitudes. I shall not quote that section at length, in order not to-waste the time of the House. I believe that hon. Members interested in these matters will be familiar with it and what it enjoins as duties in this case—not as general principles—upon local education authorities.

In practice, therefore, what the new Bill does is to lay down a third principle, which is embodied in Clause 1— such education is to be provided only in schools where the arrangements for the admission of pupils are not based (wholly or partly) on selection by reference to ability or aptitude. Thus, we are looking at three principles which local authorities must bear in mind in all that they do. The Opposition have argued eloquently in both Houses that there could, in practice, be clashes between these principles. We do not accept that argument. We believe that the principles are easily reconcilable by an education authority and that there is no contradiction between them. In a moment or two, I shall explain why I think the difference arises on this matter between the two sides of the House. I do not believe that any difference arises on the continuation of the three principles. It arises on the question whether they are reconcilable.

I refer back briefly now to the first of the principles, the one concerning the wishes of parents, because I think it important to mention a point which was made on more than one occasion, that the most recent interpretation of what is meant by the relevant section of the 1944 Act was that reached in the case of Wood v. London Borough of Ealing in 1966—that is the most recent case we have—in which the learned judge laid down that the obligation was to consult the wishes of particular parents with regard to their own children and not to consult parents generally. That was borne out, I think, by the hon. Member for Chelmsford when he said in Committee: I do not think that one can generalise about views of parents on a particular category of school as such. What one can give indications of are parents' views on particular schools."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 12th February 1976; c. 15.] I believe that there is nothing between the hon. Gentleman and myself on the view that the wishes of parents are to be interpreted in terms of particular schools. On that, I support what the hon. Gentleman has said, because it is very much the view of the Government and of my own party that it is important that parents be consulted about the education of their children. Indeed, on later amendments we shall be saying something about the kind of information which, in our view, schools should make available to parents.

We believe also that choice should be retained within the comprehensive pattern with regard, for example, to such matters as the right of parents to choose a denominational school, if that is what they wish for their children, or in areas where it is feasible for the authority to make such provision without excessive public expenditure, to choose between coeducational and single-sex schools. We agree that it is important that schools go out of their way to consult parents with regard to the progress of their children and what they want to see their children take as special courses when the time comes to choose.

Only very recently, in a statement made by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, there was a direct reference to the right of parents—I quote here what was said in the 1976 programme— Both the community at large and parents in particular have a right to influence and be given greater information about the general environment of the school and the children's classroom experiences". Again, I refer the House to the fact that my predecessor set up the Taylor Committee with the following terms of reference: To review the arrangements for the management and government of maintained primary and secondary schools in England and Wales, including the composition and function of bodies of managers and governors and their relationships with local education authorities, with head teachers and staffs of schools, with parents and pupils and with the local community at large; and to make recommendations. As those hon. Members particularly interested in education will be well aware, the Taylor Committee has been pressing ahead with its work, especially with regard to the rôle of parents. It is at present considering the possibility of ways of setting out the rights and responsibilities of parents for the education of their children.

On this matter, therefore, I think that there is no difference among those of us on both sides of the House who are concerned about parents. Where there is a clear breach, however—I think that this breach arises also on the question of reconciliation of the three principles which I have set out—is on what is meant by choice. It was clear from the speeches made in the other place, and some of those made in this House, that many Members of both Houses see choice as being intimately bound up with the processes of selection. They argue that, in practice, the three principles are incompatible because one cannot meet the wishes of parents without a selective system. Having carefully read the proceedings in another place, I believe that it was that view and philosophy which coloured many of the speeches made there.

We cannot accept that view. On the contrary, we have always considered that there was a fundamental clash between the concept of selection on a permanent basis and the true wishes of parents, for within a selective system the right of parents to have their children educated according to their wishes is qualified from the beginning from the fact of selection itself.

Selection means that the wishes of parents cannot be met if they wish to have their children educated in selective grammar schools when in practice the children do not pass into grammar schools but are allocated to secondary modern schools. I must therefore say directly that as the 1944 Act clarifies the whole principle of parental choice and of the provision of schools by LEAs in the context of the selective system, so, in practice, this Bill clarifies the rights of parents and the context in which local education authorities supply schools within the context of the comprehensive system. There can be no question of the comprehensive system allowing less choice than the selective system. I shall argue that in fact it allows substantially more choice to parents than, by the nature of things, the selective system can.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I do not follow the Secretary of State's argument. I understand that there has to be some selection by IQ for grammar schools but if the right hon. Lady has her way there will be no choice for parents to send their children to grammar schools. The Secretary of State is contradicting herself.

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Member makes my point for me. I shall come later to the choice possible within the comprehensive system. The great fallacy of the Opposition is to concentrate on the 20 per cent. for whom choice is operative and not on the 80 per cent. for whom it is not.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton)

Is not the difference that under the former situation the only real constraint on parental choice was the ability of the child but under the present system the constraint is largely that of the Government's own creation?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Member is incorrect. A fixed number of places were provided in grammar schools and they were not in any way geared to the number of children who passed the 11-plus who were or were not able to benefit from grammar school education. [Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members who are interrupting from a sedentary position will have the courage to rise to their feet.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Will the right hon. Lady elaborate on the statement that she has just made? On what grounds does she say that the number of places had no bearing on the number of children who could benefit from a grammar school education?

Mrs. Williams

That was not what I said. The hon. Member should read Hansard and check. I tried to say that the number of places in a grammar school year by year was determined by the number of places in them, not directly by the number of people who passed the 11-plus and were therefore able to benefit, in theory, from a grammar school education. The number of places provided in grammar schools varied immensely from one local authority to another. There was no kind of national standard, whatever Opposition hon. Members may say.

I shall explain why I believe so strongly that, in practice, for those concerned with parental choice—and there has been much lip service to that concept—comprehensives widen choice very substantially. [HON. MEMBERS: "Never."] Yes, even parents' choice. Comprehensive schools carry a great many more courses for children. It is unusual for children to be unable, for example, to take an appropriate examination, whether academic or vocational at the age of 16 years in a comprehensive school.

It was common in the past for secondary modern schools not to mount "O" level or school certificate courses at all. Broadly, it is true that the courses available in comprehensives are wider than those in secondary modern schools. Perhaps hon. Members will argue that that problem was met by the transfer to grammar schools from secondary modern schools, but I urge them to examine the statistics which show that the number of transfers were very few. There are boys and girls today who would never have had an opportunity in the past to go to university or a polytechnic because the necessary examinations would not have been available to them but who today are attending those institutions because they went to comprehensive schools. Today, comprehensive schools provide a range of courses which allows those pupils who mature later to take examinations. The truth is that parental choice is immensely widened by comprehensive schools and not immensely narrowed.

4.15 p.m.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

We are not debating whether grammar or comprehensive schools give the wider choice. We are trying to say that it is important to retain this amendment in the Bill because nowhere else is there any provision for consulting parents even about what sort of comprehensive pattern a local authority may adopt.

Mrs. Williams

That is not what the amendment does. It refers back to Sections 76 and 8 of the 1944 Act. As far as I know, those sections make no direct reference to parental choice beyond that applying to the wishes of parents in relation to their particular child and a particular school. I make my remarks in good faith and this matter is in any case covered by Clause 12 which provides specifically that the principles of Sections 76 and 8 shall still stand. They are not in any way altered.

The point of difference between the two sides arises from whether in practice those two sections shall override the comprehensive principle embodied in the Bill, or whether, as we argue, all three principles are compatible.

Dr. Hampson

Is the Secretary of State admitting that there is a difference between the present Government's attitude to this matter and that of their predecessors in 1970 because when they tabled the same Bill they included this commitment and references to those two sections of the 1944 Act?

Mrs. Williams

The position is exactly the same although the wording may be different. We wish all three principles to be equally considered by local authorities and we see no conflict.

Perhaps the Opposition really want to say sub rosa that they are opposed to comprehensive schools. The hon. Member for Chelmsford has said that that is not his view. The day before yesterday in a broadcast, he said, We are the true friends of comprehensive schools". I accept that at its value, and if it is so, I urge upon him that there is no necessity for the amendment. Indeed, it might undermine the amount of trust that we can put in his remarks.

The crucial point is that the three principles to which I have referred stand in the present Bill. There is therefore no necessity whatever for the amendment. It would be required only if in practice it was proposed that the comprehensive principle should be subordinated to the other two. It is not our view that that is either necessary or sensible. We believe that all three are reconcilable and compatible and that they are more reconcilable within the comprehensive pattern than within the selective pattern. I beg to disagree with the amendment. I am suspicious of the motivation, and if the motivation is right, it is wholly unnecessary.

Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas (Chelmsford)

I should like to make clear at the outset of these unfortunately truncated debates the Opposition's attitude to the Bill and the amendments. We oppose the compulsion which is written into the Bill. We oppose the imposition of comprehensive schools everywhere without regard to parental wishes, educational considerations, local conditions or financial resources. But we are in no way opposed to the comprehensive school as such. What we oppose is making it the only type of school. We stand for variety of school, because parents want a degree of choice in this as in other matters within the education system.

I am entitled to say that the Conservative Party is the true friend of the comprehensive school, because we approach the problem practically and not dogmatically. The idea of the comprehensive school was pioneered by many Conservative councils, but they were always careful to push it forward when they had the resources to make it work. It is no service to the comprehensive school to insist that local councils should go ahead with schemes which are comprehensive in name but nothing else.

The House has decided upon the principle in the Bill and we accept that decision. We are not attempting in the amendments to overturn the Bill. In due course, when the next Conservative Government are formed, we shall repeal its compulsory aspects. What we seek to do now, in the interregnum, is to improve the Bill and make it work, to modify it in accordance with practical, financial and educational considerations. It is precisely on that approach, that, as I said yesterday, we are prepared to meet the Government. We want a dialogue in education, not a punch-up.

We are delighted that, as he showed in his speech of 18th October, the Prime Minister has been converted to many of the ideas for which we have argued for years. A conversion is always welcome. Maybe it is only a death-bed conversion, but it is none the less valuable. It may not help the Prime Minister in the other world, but it may help him in the other place. We welcome this change of attitude.

Parental rights, the subject of the amendment, were also the subject of my first speech as Opposition spokesman on education, in June 1974, when I said that throughout the web of Conservative education policy one golden thread was always to be found—that the right to educate children belonged to the parents, and not to the State. It was in the same year that I set out in the Daily Telegraph, in an article called Schools: a return to quality". the Opposition's first priority as being to promote high standards in education and quality in the schools.

We also welcome the Secretary of State's rejection of the idea of the monster school, an idea that was rejected by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition a decade ago. We are delighted that the Government have come round to that point of view.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts (Cannock)

While the hon. Gentleman is on the subject of parental rights, will he tell the House the parental rights of the mother and father of children in Tameside, for example, whose children have been allocated to a secondary school?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The rights of the parents in Tameside were exercised through the ballot box when they elected their council on a platform to preserve the existing system of selective schools.

Sir John Hall (Wycombe)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the parents have the right to have their child considered for entry to any school in the area of their local authority, and that the local authority then has the right to choose the school best suited to the child's talents?

Hon. Members

Not the parents?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that interesting footnote.

The point about Tameside is that the Opposition believe in local options. We believe that it is right for local authorities to have the responsibility and duty to make the decisions, a view that is apparently not shared by Labour Members. We also welcome the Government's repudiation of the ill-thought-out proposals by the Schools Council for a common examination, a repudiation which I advocated in a speech at Swinton on 23rd November 1975.

I have gone into my statements in some detail not because of a sudden attack of egocentricity but to show that in this matter of standards the Opposition have led the way. We have pioneered this change. We welcome the Prime Minister's change of heart.

The Secretary of State referred today, as she has in other speeches, to the flurry of activity now going on in Elizabeth House—surveys, questionnaires, consultations and so on. What a pity those consultations did not take place before the Bill was drafted, rather than when it is about to reach the statute book! It would have been infinitely preferable if the ground had been well prepared.

I hope that the Secretary of State will meet us halfway on the amendments. She has come to her present position with a high reputation, and it would be a pity if it were to be spoilt. However, there are already signs that our high hopes will not be fulfilled. I refer, first, to the interview that the right hon. Lady gave to The Guardian, which quoted her as saying that her approach is that doing almost anything is better than doing nothing. That is an extraordinary doctrine. It is much better to leave things alone when they are working well than to disturb them in favour of dubious schemes.

Secondly, I am sorry that in the interview she gave the Daily Mail, published on 4th November, the Secretary of State appeared to be obsessed with the private schools. She devoted the whole of her interview to that topic. I remind the right hon. Lady that private schools are not her direct concern and that they cover only 5 per cent. of the children who are being educated. What we require is a clear lead from the right hon. Lady on what is happening to the other 95 per cent., the majority of whom are now being educated in comprehensive schools.

We had a third disappointment today, with the right hon. Lady's rejection of this very reasonable amendment. She says that it is not necessary. If that is so, why is she opposing it so strongly? If an amendment is not in the Bill it may be argued that we should not put it in because it is unnecessary. But when it is in there is no argument for taking it out on the ground that it makes no difference. It would be much better, particularly in the limited time that we have available, for the right hon. Lady simply to say "We accept this amendment", and we can then move on to discuss some of the others which she might resist with a greater show of reason.

I hope that the right hon. Lady will make it plain that it is not the Government's intention, as reported in The Times on Monday, that within six months of the Bill's becoming law local authorities will be required to put forward their plans. That would be an act of educational sabotage. It is quite impossible for a local authority to go through the necessary process of consultations within six months of receiving a request from the Secretary of State. The right hon. Lady's own Department cannot do it, so why should she expect local authorities to do it? It is important that in the course of these discussions she makes plain the Government's position on this matter.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

If the hon. Gentleman will permit us to proceed at a reasonable rate, he will see that there is a specific amendment down on this point which we shall be pleased to answer.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

There are more people in the House than the right hon. Lady and myself. It is not up to either of us further to truncate the rights of Back Benchers. They must decide for themselves what points they wish to make in their contributions. I was giving the right hon. Lady an opportunity to repudiate the damaging and alarming report that has appeared in The Times and that has all the appearance of a leak from her Department.

As the Secretary of State rightly said, we must consider the amendment in the context of the Bill as a whole. One cannot consider any section of the Education Acts in isolation. The 1944 Act and the subsequent Acts are an architectural whole built on the firm foundation of the 1944 Act. That is one of the reasons why that Act has lasted for more than 30 years as the foundation of our system.

The basic principle of that Act is that there is not one power in education but two. There is certainly the Secretary of State, but there are the local education authorities as well. Indeed, the responsibility for educating children under Section 8 of the Act, which we wish to write directly into the Bill, is put directly upon the local education authorities. One of the reasons we have so strongly opposed the Bill is that it enshrines a completely different view of the Education Act.

Behind the Bill, taking away the power of local authorities to organise their own schools, is a view that local education authorities are agents of the Secretary of State rather than partners. This is the gulf of principle that divides us. Although we may be drawing together in certain spheres of education, that is the basic difference between the Government and the Opposition. That is why we want to make clear that Section 8 remains in force in all its power and rigour. That is why we want it written into the Bill. That is why the words "without prejudice" to the effect of Section 8 have been carefully selected.

If there is a conflict between Section 8 and the Bill, we want to make it clear that Section 8 is not being superseded by the Bill, as the courts might hold, because Section 8 is 30 years old and this is a new piece of legislation. Quite apart from the principle built into the 1944 Act, we also see the whole of education as a partnership in a proper sense, with the partners made up of parents, teachers, councillors, officials and, indeed, the Secretary of State and her civil servants.

But while we regard that as a partnership, let us be in no doubt about whom we in the Conservative Party put first: we put the parents first. We certainly put them before the teachers, because the parents have the right to educate the child in a way which they have delegated to the teachers. We put them before the officials, because we believe that the parent knows best what is right for his or her child. We believe that the parent knows better than the official in Whitehall and better, even, than the Secretary of State. That is why we have continually stressed in our approach, in our policy development and in our speeches that this is the prime right of the parent. That is why we want it explicitly written into the Bill.

The Prime Minister, in his speech on 18th October, indicated that he had picked up this groundswell of concern from parents. I suppose that one could say that he had his ear to the groundswell. We are delighted that the echoes of what is going on in the real world have penetrated even the remoter recesses in Number 10. But we want more than words from the Prime Minister. We welcome those words, but they are only a prelude to action.

Here we have the first opportunity for the Government to show that they are really sincere in this espousal of parental rights. We have had the Secretary of State doing it in a reasonable way, but saying quite flatly and firmly that the Government intend to do nothing at all to translate their words into deeds. I shall not fall for the right hon. Lady's blandishments; nor shall we be misled by those honeyed words. The right hon. Lady is being increasingly rigid on this subject. We regret that because, it is a sign that she will not put as much flexibility in the Government's approach as some of us had hoped.

We had hoped that she would go on not only to welcome the principle that we are attempting to write into the Bill but to announce some kind of Government action on the parents' charter which has been a central point of our policy since I launched it at Stockport on 12th August 1974. We welcome what the Prime Minister said about parents having some rights, but let us have something concrete as well.

These are general considerations, but there are important practical and legal considerations for having the amendment written into the Bill. The amendment falls into two parts and refers to "Section 8" and to "Section 76". Section 76 makes it quite plain that: In the exercise and performance of all powers and duties conferred and imposed on them by this Act the Minister and local education authorities shall have regard to the general principle that, so far as is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure, pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents. The Secretary of State made a great deal of the question of choice. It is perfectly true that parents want choice, but it is important to recognise what sort of choice they want. The first thing they certainly want is the possibility of a choice between a comprehensive school and another type of school. But, of course, that is not confined to the 20 per cent. or so who have that opportunity opening up before them. It is not an argument which merits much intellectual consideration that if a choice is available only to 20 per cent., it should be made available to none. That is an extraordinary argument. It may be an argument of Socialism, but it is not one which stands up to logical or reasonable examination.

We are not concerned in this matter of parental choice with that group only. We are concerned with all parents. What many parents want is not only a choice between a comprehensive and a non-comprehensive school. They want a choice between different types of comprehensive school. They may want a choice between a comprehensive, say which specialises in maths, and one which does not. They may prefer a single-sex school to a mixed school.

That is why we tabled here, and there was tabled in another place, an amendment to require that every school should publish a prospectus. It was defeated by only one vote in this House. Of course, those prospectuses would not be confined to any particular type of school. They would cover all maintained schools. I hope that I have made clear to the Secretary of State our attitude on that question.

The Secretary of State—I wish that she would listen to me for a moment and resist the fascinations of whoever is talking into her ear: no doubt some official or PPS—said that a comprehensive school widened the choice of parents by providing a variety of courses and so on. That is true if it is a proper comprehensive. If it has the financial resources and the requisite number of teachers, of course it provides a choice. But it is precisely our case against the Bill that that is not what the Bill is providing. The Bill says in effect "You must go comprehensive whether you have the resources or not." That is why we also have an amendment on this vital point.

When I mentioned this point to the Prime Minister in the House, he gave me an unreasonable reply, accusing me of being like one of Pavlov's dogs, reacting to a bell whenever comprehensive schools were mentioned. That has not been the reaction of the Opposition. One might make a tu quoque reply and ask what the Prime Minister does whenever the subject is mentioned. He, too, reacts like a Pavlov's dog, but by reaching for a guillotine.

Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)

Pavlov did not guillotine his dogs.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The hon. Lady's knowledge of Pavlov is much superior to mine. I bow to her expertise in that regard.

There is a practical legal point here which was glossed over by the Secretary of State. She was not, of course, a member of the Committee when we discussed the legal aspects of this problem, although she has been kind enough to say that she stayed up until an early hour in the morning reading the arguments which were deployed. It is a pity that other Ministers were not so assiduous in this respect.

I shall not go through all those legal arguments again: they are on the record and will no doubt be raised in the courts in due course. But there is a real problem of a conflict between the general principle in the Education Act—that children should be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents—and the requirement that education should take place only in comprehensive schools. There is a prima facie conflict there.

4.45 p.m.

This is not an academic conflict, although no doubt the right hon. Lady would agree that academic conflicts are not without importance; it is a practical conflict. It arose in Southend, in a defined area, where the parents were consulted by the Essex County Council about whether they wished to continue with a system of selective schools. About 17,000 parents were consulted, 65 per cent. of those eligible to vote did so and three-quarters of that 65 per cent. voted for the continuation of the selective system whether their children were at grammar schools or at non-selective schools.

What is the legal position there? It is no good the right hon. Lady coming here with a brief which she has been given by her legal advisers and saying that all will be well. That is exactly what her predecessor did, and we know what happened to him—he was put in charge of our defences, which in the Labour Party is considered a demotion. Relying on that advice, he had gone to the courts and found that the advice was not worth the paper it was written on.

The Government have never tackled this problem. They have never looked at it firmly and asked what should happen when these two matters come into conflict.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

To which would the hon. Gentleman give priority?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I have no hesitation in answering the right hon. Lady. If there is a conflict between the principle of universal comprehensive schools and that of parental wishes, of course we would give priority to the parents, because it is the parents who are at the foundation of the system and of course we would heed their wishes. But what we hope is that when such conflict arises, the Bill will give some guidance about a reasonable solution.

I greatly regret that on this first, most important, reasonable and reasoned amendment, the Secretary of State has adopted such a dogmatic attitude. The amendment would improve the Bill. It was supported in the House of Lords by Conservative and Liberal Peers and it has been supported by those in the education world who have no party allegiance.

If the Secretary of State could accept the amendment, she would improve the Bill and bring nearer the day when we could abandon trench warfare in education and open a reasonable dialogue in the best interests of those who whom the education system is devised—namely, the children.

Mr. Gerry Fowler (The Wrekin)

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) has complained bitterly that the debate is truncated. This evening, we shall reach a total of no fewer than 166 hours of debate in both Houses of Parliament on what began as a 10-clause Bill. If this debate is truncated, may the Lord—or, in his absence, yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker—preserve us from a debate which is not truncated and in which the hon. Member has free rein.

We spent 35 sittings of the Committee on the first four clauses. It would be safe to say that never have four clauses been so well and so lengthily debated in the whole history of this House. We spent 15 sittings on the first clause and completed it at 18 minutes to midnight in the last sitting.

We went through all the arguments that we have heard again today from the hon. Member. We went through all his legal arguments and, at the end of the lengthiest crossing of legal quartersticks, the hon. Gentleman was moved to admit that he might be wrong and that I might be right. That from the hon. Gentleman is tantamount to a renunciation of his faith.

During that argument, the hon. Member for Chelmsford gave the Committee a solemn assurance that the legal advice that he had received was free. On behalf of the Government I was happy to accept that assurance and to assure him in return that we were convinced that he was getting value for money. We have seen the quality of that legal advice again today.

All that the Lords amendment seeks to do is to write Sections 76 and 8 of the Education Act 1944 into the Bill. As my right hon. Friend said, there is clearly no point in doing that unless it be done with malice prepense. Fortunately, when we legislate in this House we do not normally repeat in each new amending Bill the whole content of previous Acts of Parliament. Heaven knows, our sessions and sittings go on long enough. If we adopted that as a general practice, we should never go home at all. We can only assume, therefore, that it is done with malice prepense.

Looking first at Section 8 as it is repeated in the amendment we find that the general principle imposed by Clause I of the Bill is to be subject to the duty imposed by Section 8 of the 1944 Act. In Committee, we agreed that a duty was a duty, and a general principle was a general principle. We also agreed that in fulfilling the duty imposed by Section 8 of the Education Act 1944 the local authority, as the Bill says, would simply be required to have regard to this new general principle. We now have a new rule, that the general principle itself should be subject to a duty. I am not a lawyer; I bow to the legal wisdom and experience of the hon. Member for Chelmsford. But if he can explain how a general principle can be subject to a duty I shall be very surprised.

Surely, we should avoid writing dubious words of that kind into the Bill. In essence, all the words do is to repeat Section 8 of the 1944 Act. No one is in any doubt as to the duty of the local authority and in no way does that duty conflict with the comprehensive principle. When a local education authority has adopted the comprehensive principle in no way is it in default of a duty that it shall— secure provision of secondary schools sufficient in number, character and equipment to afford for all pupils opportunities for education offering such variety of instruction and training as may be desirable in view of their different ages, abilities and aptitudes". What is the point of writing it in?

The first part of the amendment, namely, the repetition of Section 76, I have no doubt is the key to the amendment. I should like to go back to a case which we debated at great length in Committee. I am sorry to keep referring to what happened in Committee, but the Bill has never had a Report stage. Despite spending four days and parts of several nights on it, we never reached Report because the Opposition put down 103 new clauses and it was clear that we never could reach it even if we spent the rest of the Session on it.

On Report the Opposition manifested extraordinary imagination in devising new clauses but they did not manifest much determination ever to get to the heart of the Bill. It ill behoves them now to complain that the substance of the Bill has been inadequately debated on the Floor of the House when it is entirely their doing.

I return to Section 76. In Committee we discussed the ratio decidendi of Mr. Justice Goff in the case of Wood v. the Ealing London Borough Council. We had some argument whether it was an obiter dictum or a ratio decidendi, and the hon. Gentleman conducted most of the proceedings in Committee in Latin. In the end we agreed that it was part of the ratio decidendi that Section 76 of the 1934 Act referred to parental choice on grounds of religion or a matter of the curriculum and the like, but did not convey upon parents collectively the right to determine the character—in the sense of selective or non-selective—of secondary education in the area of their local authority. That was the burden of Mr. Justice Goff's judgment.

I place no great reliance upon the judgment of the courts. There has been some unhappy, even bizarre, examples recently. We do not want to place excessive weight on Mr. Justice Goff's judgment in that case, but it is the law as it stands at the moment. It is precisely because the hon. Gentleman hopes that he can get another interpretation of that section, because he hopes that the law as it is can be set aside and overturned and that we can have a judgment in the future that parents collectively have the right to determine the character of secondary education in the area of their local education authority, that he wants that section of the 1944 Act to be repeated in the Bill. It is for no other reason.

The hon. Gentleman clearly hopes that he can sabotage the Bill when it has become an Act of Parliament by going to the courts and getting a judgment that, whatever Parliament says in passing the Bill, in future parents shall be able to determine the whole character of the secondary education in the area of their local education authority.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The hon. Gentleman is putting forward a novel constitutional argument which looks very strange, whether it be in English or Latin. Surely it is not sabotage of the House to go to the courts for an interpretation of the meaning of an Act of Parliament. That is a basic constitutional right which every citizen has. So why is he using the word "sabotage" and suggesting that a person who goes to the courts for an authoritative declaration is guilty of a nefarious offence?

Mr. Fowler

I would not seek to deny the right to any citizen to go to the courts. Parents having gone to the courts for a ruling on the meaning of Section 76, it is obvious that the hon. Gentleman, not liking the judgment of the courts, will in future incite parents throughout the country to go to the courts again until he gets a judgment more to his liking. I was not arguing that there was anything wrong with parents going to the courts. Far from it. I was arguing rather that the hon. Gentleman wants to see that section repeated here, side by side with Clause 1, and his interpretation of Section 76, which is totally erroneous as he well knows, stated in this House in opposing the rejection of the amendment, so that in future cases before the court he can argue the case more readily. That is all that the exercise is about.

I hope that the House realises that when the hon. Gentleman says, first, that that is what he wants to do and, secondly, that he believes that the Bill is monstrous because it robs local education authorities of their power, he is contradicting himself, because the whole nub of the Opposition's case on parental choice is that local education authorities should have no power. The Opposition's case is that there should no longer be representative democracy as we know it but, instead, there should be a peculiar form of parental/populace democracy in which the constantly changing body of parents determines the character of secondary education within a local education authority area. For the hon. Gentleman simultaneously to advance the thesis that the Government are destroying the power of local education authorities by the proposals they have put forward in the Bill is little short of hypocrisy.

I invite the House overwhelmingly to reject the amendment. The Opposition's motives are clear and we want none of it.

5.0 p.m.

Dr. Rhodes Boyson (Brent, North)

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler) was right to say that we Conservatives lay great emphasis on Section 76 and upon parental rights. It is strange how the Conservative Party seems to be the defender of public and parental rights these days while the Labour Party turns itself practically into the defender of the bureaucratic machine that it has set up.

The Secretary of State referred to the question of choice. I shall confine myself to the issue of choice in comprehensive schools. This is quite valid within the comprehensive system. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said, just because only 20 per cent. of pupils had choice in the past we should not wipe out that number. We should see how we can increase it to 60 per cent., 70 per cent., or 80 per cent. If people want the choice, we should provide it. If the Labour Party does not believe in choice—and the hon. Member for The Wrekin does not—let it say so and the public will understand, as it understood last Thursday, the direction in which the Labour Party is unfortunately going these days.

There was choice for more than 20 per cent. when I was the head of a secondary modern school in Rossendale. There were five or six secondary modern schools there. Some parents would much have preferred their children to go to the grammar school but there was a distinct choice between various secondary schools, in Ramsbottom, Haslingden and Rossendale. Children would walk or ride by bus or train six or seven miles to schools in the valleys. When I was a boy I failed the 11-plus but was nominated later for a grammar school. I went to a grammar school in another valley.

What worries me is that there is no mention of parents from beginning to end in the Bill. They are just an encumbrance, apart from the moment of breeding and the dance of the chromosomes. All that we want to have written into the Bill is that there should be this right of parental choice. However well intentioned local education authorities are, by the time a councillor has sat for 10 or 20 years on an education committee he has become a bureaucrat. Much of parental choice is nominal and will remain so in future unless something more substantial is written into the Bill.

There is a distinctive choice between comprehensive schools, and that is why it is essential that this parental right should be embodied in the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford has referred to the number of different courses. This particularly applies when schools become smaller. The smaller the comprehensive school becomes, the less wide is the variety of teaching. Choice is much more important when there are schools which have only 750 pupils rather than three-stream entry schools with a total population 2,000 or 3,000. The whole of the comprehensive system will fall apart because of the parental backlash which will arise if pupils are made to attend a comprehensive school when parents do not like the emphasis of the school. I do not refer to an emphasis on education but to a type of discipline.

There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of my hon. Friends that many parents are greatly concerned about the type of discipline and the attitude towards general values in society which exist inside various schools. Parents want their children to attend schools where the values are the same as those in the home. There are schools in London to which I would not send my children, but not because of the curriculum. It is because I do not accept that the values within such schools are good.

Single-sex schools, Church schools and all the other varieties that have been mentioned relate to a question of choice which ought to be within a parent's power. It is important to bear this in mind at a time when we are experiencing a fall in the birth rate. The schools which will be with us in 20 years' time will be those which the parents have favoured, rather than those which have operated on the basis of achieving tidiness within local authorities. Freedom and parental choice have nothing to do with tidiness. They are to do with the values a parent wants inside a school. Reductions in the intake or the closure of certain schools reflect the standing of those schools in the eyes of parents. No school will be successful unless it has the backing of the parents and no school will have the backing of the parents unless the parents agree with the way in which the school is run.

I refer the Secretary of State to the Plowden Report. There is no doubt that the right hon. Lady has done her homework. She has studied this report and the exciting hours that we spent dealing with this Bill in Committee and elsewhere. The Plowden Report makes it clear that next to the ability of the child the most important factor in his education is the backing of the family. A child will get that backing only when the parent has chosen the type of school. I am not referring to grammar schools here. I am dealing with comprehensives. A parent wants to have some say within that system.

I hope that I am not being unfair, but sometimes it seems that there is a sneering at parental rights by Labour Members who appear to favour the idea that the bureaucrat knows what is best for the child. Parents know the capabilities of their children and the disadvantages they suffer better than anyone else. Schools often want a tidy set of people coming in. Local authorities are moved backwards and forwards by educational fashions. We have seen those rise and fall during the past 20 years. Basically, parents want education for their children. We would not have got into this mess if we had left the internal organisations of schools alone. I do not want to trust inspectors or bureaucrats; I want to trust parents.

Mr. Mike Noble (Rossendale)

The hon. Member has referred to my constituency, which he knows well. Can he answer two points? If there is to be complete freedom of choice, as he has suggested, what would he do when a school became over-subscribed? Is it not the case that freedom of choice in such circumstances would lead to an absolute negation of freedom for some children? There is the freedom to choose and the freedom to be able to fulfil that choice. The hon. Gentleman knows Rossendale and the vast area it covers. Suppose that a working-class child in Ramsbottom wishes to attend a school in Haslingden. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that his bus fare should be set out of public expenditure—at this time of constraint—or is he suggesting that the parent should pay? He must know that many parents cannot afford to pay.

Dr. Boyson

I will deal with the second point first because it is the most important one and the one that we normally get from the Labour Party. I came from a working-class family in this area. My experience was that if parents needed to find the fares they would do so. I have great respect for the self-assurance and self-respect of the working class. They would still do the same if we gave them the chance in a free society.

Turning to the hon. Member's first question, I would like to lead him a little towards seeing what can be done to improve the school situation in Rossendale, and possibly Burnley, where the hon. Member used to be chairman of the education committee. If one school is heavily over-subscribed and another heavily under-subscribed, we should not let things go on in that way, as has happened for the past 10 or 20 years. Under a system of parental choice there would be such an outcry that something would have to be done about that under-subscribed school. If the school had been under-subscribed for three or four years that is where the local inspectors should be working, rather than doing silly courses about the latest fashion. They should be inside that school finding out why parents are not sending their children to it and so should the Department's inspectors. If there were a parental market system operating we would have better schools the length and breadth of the country.

My last point is a political one and I make no apology for that because I sit here as a political animal. We appear to be moving towards a society in which more and more power is vested in local authorities and Government and the individual has less power. We must reverse that trend or we shall destroy a free society in which individuals are able to make a choice for themselves and their families—a society in which there is, real moral growth. The importance of writing in something about parental choice is not simply related to the improvement of schools. It will represent a step back from the move to the totalitarian society which we face unless we are careful. It will be a move towards the free society in which my hon. Friends and I and many Labour Members believe.

Miss Joan Lestor

As the House knows, I represent the constituency of Eton and Slough and in recent years have been elected to that constituency four times. I have always made one of the planks in my election programme the fact that I am a firm believer in comprehensive education. I have advocated that policy at every election, and I have been elected and re-elected by my constituents who have full knowledge of my views.

In my constituency we are not comprehensive. We belong to Berkshire, which is partly comprehensive, but my area of Berkshire is not comprehensive. Since we have had so much talk about parental choice, I wonder who determines what is to happen in Eton and Sough. The fact that I have been elected flows to a great extent from the fact that many of my constituents believe in comprehensive education.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said that parental choice was of paramount importance, and the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) spoke in rather different terms about parental choice. I am in an area where it could be argued that parental choice exists because we are non-comprehensive. We are told by the Opposition that the comprehensive system destroys choice, but each summer many parents come into my surgery with the plea "I put down such-and-such a grammar school for my child, but they have told me that my child cannot go to that school". The hon. Member for Brent, North said that parents understood the abilities of their children. Many parents take the view "My child is grammar school material and there- fore I want him to go to a grammar school." Some parents take the view that if the whole system were comprehensive, they would not face that problem.

When I examined the situation I discovered that parents who live in areas which are regarded as areas of choice usually have chosen one of the two or three grammar schools in the area. But the choice is not a parental one. It is a decision taken by selective examination, by teacher choice, and by authority consultation—and then come the parents. If those matters happen to be in accord, the parents will get the school they wish for their child. Therefore, that element of choice is tiny. Indeed what makes the choice is not the parent, the child or even the education authority. It is the performance—or what is adjudged to be the performance—of that child by teachers and or by examination. The argument based on choice is a myth and always has been.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford spoke as though the matter of going to a grammar school was easily definable throughout the country, particularly before most parts of the country went comprehensive. But there is also a myth in that argument. In Wales half the children have a grammar school education. In other parts of the country the figure is very much lower. Anybody who has followed the development of education in the past 20 years knows that many parents have put their children into independent schools whose sole boast was "Put your child into our private school, and we shall ensure that he or she passes the examination to go to a grammar school." The amount of coaching that went on was incredible. Furthermore, parents would move into areas where the number of grammar school places was higher than in their own area. But there was no fairness in that situation. Nothing was based on IQ and there was little basis for parental choice. I think that when Opposition Members talk blithely about freedom of choice and the rights of parents, these things must be said.

I have known my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for a long time and I read his recent speech as expressing concern about the standards of education—but concern about all our children, and not just the minority.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Peter Bottomley (Woolwich, West)

The hon. Lady implied that there were some schools which plied children with a great deal of academic learning which could be absorbed in those schools rather than in primary schools. That was one way of saying that parents require academic learning for their children. She then said that parents came to her surgery with the plea "My child cannot get to a grammar school." Will she address her mind to the argument involving a situation where parental choice could be useful in terms of academic content and choice between comprehensive schools?

Miss Lestor

I have set out the choice, if one may so call it, in my non-comprehensive area between a secondary modern school and other types of school, including the grammar school. I said that parents came to my surgery with the plea "I made my choice, but it was denied to me." To put the matter the other way round, if there is within an area comprehensive schools with a wide variety of subjects and a wide curriculum, that variety of material will be available to all children. Therefore, the comment "This type of school suits my child because he or she is a grammar school child" does not arise. Areas are then able to cope with the abilities and aptitudes of all children.

The fundamental mistake in the Opposition's argument lies in assuming that when a parent makes a decision about a child at age 10 or 11 he can also make a prediction at that time. What has happened in our educational system is that we have fulfilled our own prophesies. In a comprehensive area the question of grammar school versus other schools does not arise. The comprehensive school can teach a wide variety of curricula and give an opportunity to all children to allow them to develop their own talents.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I support the retention in the Bill of the Lords amendments. However, I am concerned that there are many parts of the Bill which will not be discussed in this House.

If the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) speaks at similar length on each amendment, obviously we shall not be able to hear many speeches before the guillotine falls. It is clear that many hon. Members will wish to take the opportunity, if they have the good fortune to be called, to speak on this group of amendments. In these circumstances the Government should consider whether to bring before the House motions allocating time specifically to each amendment.

In discussing the amendment the talk has all been about parental choice. Some Conservative Members have sought to pretend that that choice resides in selection and that justification for the inclusion of the amendment can be based on that assertion. Any notion that the parent whose child is allocated to a secondary modern school has any choice under the system that some authorities still retain must be an absurdity. It is said that the parent whose child is allocated to a grammar school can exercise the choice of withdrawing the child and sending him to a secondary modern school. Surely that is no real choice. That does not make sense to my constituents. It did not make sense to them when they were in that position.

I am happy to tell Conservative Members that some Conservative authorities appear to be looking at the real world. The authority whose area I represent—it is an area dominated by Conservatives—has been moving solidly towards comprehensive education over a considerable period. It has done so undisturbed and untroubled by the arguments that have been advanced in this place, arguments that bear no relation to the practice of the conservatism of the local authority, which has long since decided that parental choice does not reside in selection.

In my view that does not of itself answer the case put by another place for the inclusion within the Bill of words taken from the 1944 Act, words which underline good practice as it exists in many schools and authorities. In fact, good comprehensive schools provide a wide range of choice to pupils and parents alike.

At this stage I must enter a note of caution. It seems to be suggested at times by some Conservative Members that only parents exercise choice. In fact, choice is exercised by pupils. It is increasingly to be exercised by them the older they get. We are talking about secondary education, and it is not always the parent who knows what is best for the child. There comes a stage when the child's judgment is as sound. Sometimes the teacher is in a position to make a judgment when the parent has misjudged.

Dr. Hampson

We argued in Committee that one reason for having the change of wording that is provided for in Sections 8 and 76 was that without it we feared that it might not be possible to provide systems allowing break points at which parents and pupils could select for themselves. We feared that local authorities might not feel it possible to have that sort of system.

Mr. Beith

The hon. Gentleman underlines my case. It is reasonable to include in the Bill words that support good practice and would not have, I suspect, the disastrous effects that the Minister fears if brought before a court of law. I do not share the hon. Gentleman's confidence in the legal advice that is given to the Government. Nothing has been said so far that convinces me that these words would pose such danger to the comprehensive principle.

Good authorities as well as good schools provide an element of choice. That is the practice in the authority whose area I represent. As it moves further and further into a comprehensive system it seeks to provide an element of choice between comprehensive schools when there is a good case for doing so, when, for example, particular facilities and aptitudes are catered for in a different school.

In an agricultural area it is not always possible for a comprehensive school to provide extensive agricultural facilities, although that might be possible for some. A sensible authority uses its sense and, without defying the comprehensive principle, enables an amount of parental choice to be exercised. That is not in breach of the comprehensive principle and it is a practice that I am sure the Government would not seek to oppose. At least, I hope that they would not do so. They have so far shown no intention of taking that course. It is a practice that would he helped if the words were included in the Bill. To include words that are considered by Governments to be unnecessary is by no means a bad thing.

The case advanced against the inclusion of these words is not one that leads me to advise my hon. Friends that they should take away something which has been on the statute book for some time and which will remain on the statute book. The inclusion would not undermine the main principles of the Bill.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

The amendment is especially important although I hope that it is not typical of many of the other amendments that we shall receive from another place this week. It is fundamentally a wrecking and not a reforming amendment.

My right hon. Friend has dealt extremely well with the three basic principles contained within the Bill—namely, parental choice, education provision and a comprehensive system. There is no doubt that the amendment undermines the basis of the comprehensive system. It introduces the concept of choice, and whichever way that choice is made, whether it involves examination or teacher assessment, we undermine the comprehensive principle. We cannot have a grammar school in existence without undermining that principle.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Has the hon. Gentleman not read the Bill? Has he not read Clause 12? Has he not listened to the argument advanced by his right hon. Friend, who said that the amendment was unnecessary? Did he not hear her say that she was not against it in principle but that Clause 12 includes the very choice that is sought to be retained?

Mr. Roberts

I have been in the Chamber throughout the debate and I listened to my right hon. Friend. The whole argument put forward by the Opposition tends to undermine the principle of the Bill. I have taken students who were studying for their PhD and who had failed to obtain admission to a grammar school. They failed in the days of the 11-plus. I never remembered the students who had worked their way through the system to get as far as me. I remembered those who had been left behind as a result of a selective system. That leaving behind is the inevitable effect of having such a system.

It may be argued that it was possible for a transfer to take place from a secondary modern school to a grammar school. What percentage of students were transferred in that way? I suggest that it was the experience of very few.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) is no longer in the Chamber. I felt that he dealt inadequately with the various points that were put to him. For instance, it was put to the hon. Gentleman that the poor parents in Tameside who are faced with a secondary school somewhere in their neighbourhood have no choice in financial terms or in any other terms. Under the comprehensive system there would be a much wider real choice than the grammar school or secondary modern school situation.

A great deal of reference has been made to some conversion on the part of the Prime Minister. I am not sure what the conversion amounts to, but I have not seen a great conversion. The startling conversion that we heard this afternoon was the admission by the hon. Member for Chelmsford that only 5 per cent. of our children go to fee-paying schools. The fact is that most of the attention of the Opposition is concentrated on the children who go to such schools.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)


Mr. Roberts

The type of choice—

Mr. Cormack

Where did you go?

Mr. Roberts

I went to an ordinary central county school.

The type of choice that the Opposition are seeking is the second best. They are not concerned with the 20 per cent., only with the 5 per cent. who can afford to send their children to fee paying schools. The choice they are seeking is to give that 5 per cent. the choice of sending their children to grammar school if they are unable to get through the selection machinery at that stage.

5.30 p.m.

Sir George Sinclair (Dorking)

When my hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) asked the hon. Gentleman where he had been all this time, he meant where the hon. Gentleman had been when the discussions took place in Standing Committee. Only a very small part of the debate there was concerned about the selection side of education. Again and again our spokes- men said, "Our main concern is to raise standards in the schools which serve the greater part of the children."

Mr. Roberts

That might be the attitude of the hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair), but, as I see the arguments that they have put forward, the only sort of choice that the Opposition as a whole are concerned with is the choice of this tiny proportion of the parents. But, of course, they are very experienced in this subject. Most hon. Members opposite in the Conservative Party went to fee-paying schools and most send their children to them. Their, concern must obviously be with that aspect.

In whatever guise it appears, the amendment is basically a wrecking amendment to undermine the concept of comprehensive education. That is why we should resist it. In doing so, we shall be giving a genuine choice not just to 5 per cent. or 20 per cent. but to 100 per cent. of parents involved.

Mr. George Gardiner (Reigate)

I trust that the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts) will forgive me if I do not follow all the points he made as I found it a little hard to detect their relevance to the amendment.

The point which will have struck many of us on this side of the House, and many people in the country at large, is the great contrast between the tone of the Prime Minister's speech of 18th October at Ruskin College and the attitude being taken by the Government towards these amendments. The Bill was conceived long before the Prime Minister took office. It went through its Committee stage long before the great revelation came upon him on his road to Ruskin. But it seems peculiar to many of us that, even after he took over his premiership, presumably already nursing the kind of sentiment he chose to express at Ruskin, the whole forces of the Government were marshalled on Report to vote down new clauses from this side of the House which would have had the effect of achieving the objectives which he outlined in his Ruskin College speech. But that is a matter of history.

Since then, we have seen the Upper House fulfilling the function of improving the Bill by a number of amendments which are entirely consistent with the general principle which the Government are seeking to further, and at the same time, albeit unintentionally, consistent with the concern expressed by the Prime Minister about what is happening in education. That certainly applies to this amendment, which seeks to protect parental rights as they have been understood since the 1944 Act was passed.

Hon. Members opposite are treating the amendment as if it were a wrecking amendment. Listening to the Secretary of State, I was not sure whether she regarded it as a wrecking amendment. But such a view is not compatible with the view stated in the Upper House by the Minister there, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge. The burden of his case was that the amendment was unnecessary. Those two positions hardly seem consistent.

Another inconsistency is between the Secretary of State's assertion today that the three principles involved—the principles in Sections 8 and 76 of the 1944 Act and the principle of Clause 1 of this Bill—are entirely compatible, and the acceptance by Lord Donaldson that there was at least some scope for conflict between the principle of Clause 1 and the principles of Sections 8 and 76.

The Secretary of State said that she feared that the effect of the amendment would be to make the comprehensive principle as outlined in Clause 1 subordinate to the principles spelled out in Sections 8 and 76. The fear in the country, going far beyond the areas of the so-called rebel education authorities, is entirely the other way round—that Sections 8 and 76 of the 1944 Act will come to be made subordinate to the principle outlined in Clause 1 of the Bill.

I can easily see parents lodging appeals to the Secretary of State under the scope given to them in the 1944 Act only to find those appeals dismissed on the ground of the principle outlined in Clause 1 of the Bill. Indeed, I can see some local education authorities using the principle in Clause 1 to provide cover and justification for refusing the claims and wishes of parents made under Sections 8 and 76. I warn parents that a dictatorial local education authority can easily use the principle outlined in Clause 1 to beat down parents who otherwise would have received a fair hearing of their complaints under Sections 8 and 76 of the 1944 Act.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

The hon. Gentleman has been referring to appeals that might be made by parents from a local authority decision to the Secretary of State. Under what section of the Act is a Minister able to give a decision overruling a local authority decision?

Mr. Gardiner

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is possible under the 1944 Act for parents to lodge an appeal to the Minister on the ground that a local authority is behaving unreasonably in refusing a place to their child in a particular school.

Mr. Christopher Price

Does the hon. Gentleman seriously think that, since the House of Lords ruling on the Tameside case, there is any possibility of using Section 68 to the 1944 Act in that way, since the Minister has now to prove, if he uses Section 68 in individual appeal cases, that the local authority is acting as no reasonable body of people could possibly act? Does he think that Section 68 is any longer operable?

Mr. Gardiner

I can see a situation in which a Labour Minister, in turning down and arguing against a parental appeal, would base part of the argument, as would certain local authorities, on the fact that the principle outlined in Clause 1 of the Bill gave the justification for refusing the wish which those parents had stated to the local authority regarding their own child's education.

But I want to return to the Prime Minister's Ruskin College speech and his correct concern for standards in education. I see a great deal to welcome in that speech, as do many of my hon. Friends, although perhaps not so many hon. Members opposite. But a criticism I have is that he envisages this situation as being rectified almost entirely by action from the centre of our system and does not recognise that the great force for improving standards comes from recognising, protecting and enhancing the rights of parents within our education system. That is the great driving force for preserving and raising standards. If the Government were doing their job properly, they would in their legislation be setting about giving it greater effect.

Our fear is that by refusing to accept the amendment and to build it into the Bill the Government are diminishing the rights of parents as these have been understood so far. There is a growing feeling among parents in this country, expressed in a variety of ways, that they should have more say and more choice before them in our education system.

This is not just a choice, as some Labour Members seem to think, between a grammar school and comprehensive schools. It is a choice between different comprehensives in an area, and between single-sex schools and co-educational schools. It is a choice which can go across the iron curtains which have so frequently been erected around tight catchment areas. This is the kind of parental choice of which we are speaking and which we wish to see extended.

The 1944 Act defined—too vaguely, in our view—the rights of parents, for we now find that these rights have been and are being eroded, not by teachers in schools at all, but by the actions of educational administrators at local and, indeed, national level.

Throughout the country there is far greater pressure than there was a few years back to recognise the rights of parents. Even the Prime Minister, in his Ruskin College speech, acknowledged this, although only in connection with school governors. Yet we find today that the Government's resistance to this House of Lords amendment flies in the very face of that pressure.

We on the Conservative side maintain that the 1944 Act is now inadequate in defining and protecting those parental rights. By refusing the amendment the Government are taking a major step in the reverse direction. They are swimming against the tide that is running strongly throughout the country and is deeply understood today by all who are concerned with education. That is why it can only be a matter of time before the legislation which is being forced through, will be swept away by it.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Frank Hatton (Manchester, Moss Side)

In listening to Conservative Members I wonder how many of them have served on local education authorities, held positions of responsibility, and tried to exercise responsibility in the interests of parents.

The problems of choice, with which the amendment seeks to deal, are, I admit, not easy. They are very difficult indeed. I understand from Conservative Members that there are still very many parents who feel extremely strongly about their lack of opportunity of choice.

Now that so many local authorities, following the last municipal elections, are in the hands of the Conservatives. I wonder why there are still so many problems concerning parental choice. One would have thought that some law of diminishing returns would be operating now that so many local education authorities are controlled by the Conservatives.

I was glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) go back to the period of time—in her case, it happens to be the present time—when there were still problems of selection and problems related to the grammar schools. I can well remember that my own authority on which I had some responsibility, gave parents a very wide choice, but there were still very many occasions when parents were dissatisfied with the choice of the particular school, even though their children had been successful in obtaining a place in one of the city grammar schools.

Where authorities have moved to the comprehensive system—I believe that there are many examples of this throughout the country—the choice has been very much widened. In my own city, the choice has been so widened that 80 per cent. of parents are now getting their first choice, whereas previously, under the old grammar and secondary modern school system, very few parents had other than the choice of one secondary modern school or another secondary modern school.

In this brief intervention—I know that there are many other hon. Members who want to take part in the debate—I wish simply to re-emphasise the very much wider opportunity that comprehensive education has given to parents in our country. It is something that I welcome very much indeed. I therefore see no, reason to accept the amendment.

Dr. Hampson

It seems to me that we have had some dreadful misconceptions in the debate as to the motives for keeping the Lords amendment in the Bill. The position has not been helped by the Secretary of State herself, along with so many of her hon. Friends, continually reverting to the sterile and ancient debates about 11-plus selection, and whether there would be more choice and a greater variety of courses if we dropped it.

Either the Secretary of State is genuinely ambivalent in her position or, charming though she may be, she is speaking with a forked tongue. On the one hand, she says that the Government, like the Opposition, believe in parental choice and in variety of schools and courses. She says that the Government accept Section 8 of the 1944 Act, dealing with variety of provision, and Section 76 of that Act, dealing with the need for the wishes of parents to be taken into account. Yet, on the other hand, she says that the amendment is not really necessary, partly because the provision is already in the Bill under Clause 12. Why not remove all doubts by keeping the Lords amendment in the Bill?

But the real reason that the Secretary of State argues that it is not necessary to emphasise these two principles of the 1944 Act is that there is a third principle which, in her view, should have precedence over the other two, rather than working in harmony with them. The right hon. Lady said that the comprehensive principle means very considerably more choice for parents than they can have with any other system.

The right hon. Lady is saying, in effect, that we should take the Government on trust. Frankly, we are not prepared to trust the Government. We are not prepared to accept that in running the education system either the right hon. Lady or any other Labour Secretary of State—would take account fairly of all three principles. We want to retain the essence of the 1944 legislation—the partnership of central and local authorities with parents. That is why we want to have it spelt out in the Bill.

The Secretary of State and the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler)—the former Minister of State, Department of Education and Science—have emphasised the shortness of the Bill and the fact that it has received very much more time than the 1944 Bill received. But the fact is that the Bill now before this House is highly contentious, because it is trying to remove from the educational system the partnership between authority and parent which was instituted by the 1944 Act. Time after time in Committee Ministers admitted that the balance is being shifted fundamentally. The former Minister of State said repeatedly in Committee that the Bill would change the balance of power, and he knows that that is so. I need hardly remind him that, in Committee on that occasion, the then Mr. Butler said that, as Clause 8 indicated, the variety of education policy of this country must depend on local initiative. That was what Section 8 was all about.

Section 36 put the obligation on the parents primarily to educate and the variety of provision on the local authorities. Section 13 means that, as the Act stands at present, only a local authority can initiate change. Then the Secretary of State can modify the change or reject it, but the locus of initiative hangs on the local authority and not on the Secretary of State.

This Bill is changing that balance. Now the local authority has to obey the Secretary of State and to submit proposals within six months if she so requests.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

The hon. Gentleman is right, but I said repeatedly in Committee that this Bill proposed a minor change in the boundary between central and local government and a minor change in the prescriptive limit set by central Government to the activities of local government. But that has no relevance to the repetition in the Bill of what is already law in any event by virtue of the 1944 Act—except, I suppose, on the principle that "I have said it once, I have said it twice, and therefore it must be true".

Mr. Christopher Price

Three times.

Dr. Hampson

I am sure that few hon. Members could possibly accept that position. This is not a marginal change in the system. It is a fundamental change.

There are certain silly illogicalities in the Government's position. This boils down to whether the Government are against selection procedures at a certain point in time—the 11-plus—about which many of us agree with them. But it goes beyond that. Are not the Government against selection per se? In fact, judging from many of their statements today, they are against it. I could quote from the proceedings in the Lords and elsewhere where they say that they want to get rid of selection at all stages of secondary education. But it is an illogical position to adopt because, at other times, they accept that within comprehensive schools selection is necessary.

I recall the situation in Committee when the former Minister of State got himself tangled up by saying that in a case such as Birmingham—a Labour authority—it would be possible for pupils to transfer from their base schools for special subjects in other schools and that that was legitimate in Labour thinking within the terms of the Bill provided that they always kept going back to their base schools, but that if it meant that they left their original schools and transferred to schools where there were specialists in certain subjects, that was not within the terms of the Bill and was frowned upon by the Government.

In the other place, the noble Lord, Lord Alexander reflected many of the worries which have been expressed to me by local education authorities. Many noble Lords felt that there would be other illogical positions—for example, in sixth form colleges. Unlike the Government, who suggested that only three or four were selected, Lord Alexander felt that in a way the vast bulk of them had selective policies in that they would not allow people in for A-level courses if they did not have a requisite number of 0-levels. That is an element of selection. The Minister of State in the other place, Lord Donaldson, ended up by saying that it would be perfectly permissible for open access colleges to set standards for admission to particular courses. The Government are saying, in other words, "We shall not have selection for schools but we shall have it for courses". That is a nonsensical position to adopt.

It is to try to get over that problem that we want an amendment of this sort kept in the Bill. At least it gives an opportunity for local authorities to have regard to matters other than the narrow doctrinaire principles at present in Clause 1. It might be that other amendments could do that. But, if parents and other forces locally express a wish for specialisms in schools, some provision should be made. I think that we shall move into that sort of era, because not all comprehensive schools will be able to offer the whole range of courses.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) put it rather well when he pointed out that many schools were now very small. We are moving away from the notion of the monster school. Therefore, a smaller unit will not be able to offer the width of provision to be found in a larger school. There is the inheritance factor. In the amalgamation of schools, some comprehensives do not have the grammar school element. They do not have specialised staff in mathematics and the science subjects. Therefore, it will be difficult to provide opportunities in those schools for pupils who might have the capacity and potential for those subjects. Why not make use of the best provision in certain schools in an area and transfer pupils to those schools, even though that might involve some element of selection for those special courses?

If we are moving into that sort of era, it is only right that local authorities should feel able to have that sort of system. The climate in which local authorities operate is very important in terms of whether they turn primarily for their instructions to the centre or look outside to other forces such as parents and employers in the community. This amendment would allow that element of flexibility which we believe is vital to the education system but which the Government are flouting in moving into a doctrinaire era.

Mr. Bryan Davies (Enfield, North)

I not think that we can honestly say that we were not warned that we might reach the present position in discussing this amendment. It must be remembered that the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) warned the House on Third Reading that, even if the Bill were passed with the support of Government Members representing 38 per cent. of the popular vote at the last General Election and that of Liberal Party Members representing a further 20 per cent. of the popular vote, making a total of nearly two-thirds of all those who voted in the General Election, we had not heard the last of this measure because the Opposition would wield the Conservative majority in the House of Lords.

That is the situation that we have today. With the exception of the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, today's speeches have not been directed towards a minor amendment dealing with a minor detail in the Bill. They have all been Second Reading speeches on the principles of this legislation.

It is clear that what is intended by this amendment is some limitation on Clause 1 which would abolish selection at the age of 11 and ensure that in certain circumstances there would be an opportunity for a selective system to exist in certain parts of the country. I maintain that that is a contradiction of the principles behind the Bill and represents a clear challenge to the fundamental position adopted by a majority of this House.

When we look at the proposition which the Opposition put forward in support of this amendment, it should be recognised that its rôle is not merely to reinforce the 1944 Education Act. The hon. Member for Chelmsford constantly regales us with the view that the 1944 Act represents the collective wisdom of all the parties involved in its passage, and that it had stood the test of time. But under that Act, it was possible for 80 per cent. of parents to attempt to choose grammar school education, and local authorities could deny parental rights in those terms.

6.0 p.m.

It is quite clear, therefore, that the 1944 Act never was a defence of parental rights in quite the way the hon. Member for Chelmsford suggests. Indeed, he re-emphasised this point in reply to a friendly intervention from the hon. Member for Wycombe (Sir J. Hall), who indicated that the local authorities had the final job of allocating which children went to which school. The hon. Member for Chelmsford conceded that. Despite the Opposition's apparent concern for parental choice, they recognise that under the 1944 Act the final responsibility rested with the local authorities, and that the authorities had no option but to enforce their duties in this respect. Why then is this amendment being proposed now?

I suggest that there are two reasons for it. It is part of a general attempt by the Opposition to assume for themselves the prerogative of representing parents in the educational debate. That is utter rubbish. The hon. Member for Chelmsford often points out that he is in favour of parents participating in governing bodies of schools, yet local authorities throughout the country under Conservative control repeatedly reject such a proposition. This is a position which cannot be sustained by the Opposition. In fact, Government Members are rather more concerned with increasing the rôle of parents in developing their children. This Government have set up the Taylor Committee to look at membership of governing bodies in schools, and this Government are concerned with the real development of parental choice in guiding children through the most appropriate courses of education.

Secondly, the Opposition are continually preoccupied with the question of choice because in a very real sense they conduct their own private lives, in regard to education, in terms of the crucial issue of choice of school. In the sector of education which generally they represent and of which they are the major product—the sector which sustains the establishment of this country at present—parental rights end at the point when the choice is made between schools. It is the power of the nurse to choose a particular school, and not the power of the parent to influence the education which the child receives from that school.

This amendment must be rejected, not because it does not involve an important concept of the rights of parents but because it attempts to elevate that concept about what the 1944 Act envisaged, and above what local authorities can carry out. This is an attempt to wreck the very reasonable proposition which the Government have put forward in favour of comprehensive education.

Mr. Paul Channon (Southend, West)

If what the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Davies) said is right, I would not be opposed to elevating the rights of parents, and, in fact, giving parents far greater rights to choose than those which exist at present in all sectors of education. That is why this amendment is particularly relevant.

I ask the Secretary of State to explain how she can possibly reconcile what she said at the beginning of the debate about the various principles governing this Bill being equally compatible. How can it be equally compatible with the wishes of parents to compel a comprehensive system of education in all areas in this country? There are certain areas where the wishes of parents are known with crystal clarity. In my constituency there was a poll of parents, and as a result we know for a fact what their wishes are on this matter. A total of 12,911 parents voted for the retention of some form of selection in education, and only 4,479 voted for a totally comprehensive education system. In these circumstances, am I not entitled, as the representative of my constituents, to say that I know clearly the views of parents in my area? How therefore, is it possible to argue that the wishes of parents are compatible with the adoption of a universal system of comprehensive education? Certainly in some towns the wishes of parents have been clearly expressed.

Mr. Noble rose—

Mr. Channon

I would prefer not to give way. I have very little more to say. In my own town the wishes of parents are crystal clear, and it is also clear that those parents are very pleased with the standard of education in our area.

Surely it is right that there should be parts of the country in which there is some experimentation in education. If there had never been any experimentation, there would have been no comprehensive system in the first place. It is absolutely wrong to impose on the whole country at any one time a universal system of education no matter what the current educational fad may be.

We are told by the Department of Education and Science today that the Secretary of State is conducting consultations with a view to closing no fewer than 30 more teacher training colleges. The number of student teachers will be cut even more dramatically, and will be back at the levels of 1961. If that is the case, what are the Department's priorities? Is it right to spend extra money on putting through this Bill when there are other things in education which are being cut back? My constituents are entitled to have their views respected, and, in any choice of priorities at present, I am sure that they would prefer the extra money to be spent on more teachers and smaller classes than on bringing this Bill on to the statute book.

I do not believe that without the amendment this Bill will be compatible with the wishes of parents in my town. The Government should have second thoughts about this matter and support what has been decided in another place.

Sir G. Sinclair

I am glad to follow—and support—the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon). He has spoken of the increasing demands of parents that their rights should be recognised and respected.

The Secretary of State said that the amendment would make no difference to the Bill. I believe that she is wrong. She has entirely missed the point of the amendment. If accepted, it would reaffirm the paramountcy of parental wishes in the choice of school as an aim in education. Indeed, it would reaffirm the natural right of parents and would meet the growing demand that this right should be reaffirmed.

Why is there this demand? It is because the Government, by abolishing so many varieties of schools, have seriously limited the choice of parents. This action and the parental reaction to it has made essential a restatement of Government policy about parental rights. That is why we call for a bold reaffirmation of the paramountcy of parental wishes if the Government are, as the Prime Minister suggested recently, again to respect parental wishes in education. I know that the Secretary of State does not regard this reaffirmation as being as important as we do, but hope that she will have second thoughts.

The Bill mentions nothing about parental choice and it is not good enough to have a mere reference relegated to a footnote at the back end of the Bill. That is not enough in the present state of public opinion, which has been bruised by falling standards in education and bruised by limitations of choice.

Recognition by the Government in accepting this amendment that parents are worried about standards in many secondary schools would have a tonic effect throughout the secondary system, in both State and maintained schools. That is the positive side of the amendment.

What did the Prime Minister mean in his recent speech at Oxford when he talked about parental choice? If he meant anything, he must have meant three things. First, I suggest that he meant the improvement of standards; for that is what parents are worried about. Secondly, he meant the widest possible choice of schools and courses to suit their children, especially while standards which have deteriorated are being improved. Thirdly, he meant a greater involvement of parents in the government of schools to allow them to take a real part in insisting on the development and maintenance of high standards in their children's schools. This is especially important if the standards of learning and conduct in schools in their neighbourhoods are failing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) has brought out the educational importance of parental wishes and choice in our policy document, the "Parents' Charter". It is not just the brainchild of a few people concerned with educational standards. It is a response to wide-felt worries of parents throughout the country about standards in our schools—worries reinforced by many recent reports. It is to meet these worries that we seek to get parents more deeply involved in educational government and in choice of schools.

If the Government do not recognise this parental factor in the Bill, they will be missing one of the deep, underlying movements within families and will eventually pay the electoral price for their neglect.

6.15 p.m.

The best service that the Secretary of State could do to the Bill is to recognise this new factor. She will have to fact it, whether she likes it or not. We hope that, with her knowledge of educational standards, she will, after reflection, accept the amendment and thereby re-establish in the public mind the Government's respect of parental rights and give some substance to what the Prime Minister said in Oxford last month.

The right hon. Lady should, in the interests of the greater part of secondary education, which is in the maintained sector, reaffirm the rights of parental choice and outline the steps that the Government will take to improve standards. Parental choice and improvement of standards are interdependent. Their main choice is that standards should be raised. But parents must be helped to make their choice effective over the whole range of our national educational resources. An important part of these resources—as everybody knows who has not had a closed mind on educational standards—is in the selective and independent sectors. They are part of our educational heritage and have been built up to a high standard over hundreds of years. In the selective sector, there are many good schools and many outstanding courses. It is no part of a Government's duty to deny parents access to such educational resources which are found both in the comprehensive and the selective sectors. We should be making use of them.

If the Secretary of State were to accept the principle restated in the amendment, she would help to ensure that parents, by their proper choice, have the widest possible access to the best resources in education in whatever sector. That is the right of parents. These resources are part of our national resources. We must use them to the full advantage and not neglect them. One of the greatest unused resources in education is the will of parents to see standards re-established. If the right hon. Lady is not prepared to reaffirm that parental right, she will have missed an opportunity. Parents will recognise that; and so shall we, if we are forced to vote.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said that he believed that the wording of the amendment was useful. If the protestations of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) could be taken at face value, the amendment would, as I said earlier, be unnecessary but conceivably acceptable.

However, as I listened to the debate and particularly the remarks of the hon. Members for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) and Ripon (Dr. Hampson) it became increasingly clear that this was a doubtful proposition and the fact that, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler) said, there was a surreptitious motive behind the amendment became increasingly self-evident. I do not believe that what I heard from the Opposition was the expression of those who were converted in all cases to the comprehensive ideal.

Somebody asked: why does it matter? The answer is quite straightforward. It matters for the reasons which have already been advanced from this Dispatch Box and by my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin, who sat through most of the Committee stage, as I did not, at that time not being concerned with the Department of Education and Science. The Opposition intend to bury the comprehensive principle under Sections 76 and 8 of the Education Act.

Dr. Hampson rose—

Mrs. Williams

I shall not give way. I have given way enough. We intend not to bury Sections 76 and 8 under the comprehensive principle, but to have regard to all three. That is what the statute, if unamended, will clearly say. There is nothing wrong with that. As I said, we believe that the comprehensive principle and meeting the wishes of parents can effectively be done together.

The hon. Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair) made many comments with which I agree. But he made one remark which I found hard to accept. The hon. Gentleman somehow suggested that concern with parental choice was a monopoly of the Opposition. All I can say is that, for many years, it does not seem to have

bothered them very much Year after year, when in Government, they permitted the selective principle to go on clearly against the wishes of parents, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) forcefully pointed out from her first-hand experience in surgeries, without any effective transfer at all. In consequence, many children lost for ever the opportunities of higher and further education because they attended schools where those opportunities were not open to them. One of the records which stand most solidly against the Conservative Party, which never attempted to introduce the comprehensive principle, was its total failure to grapple with the transfer between schools. That would have been the hallmark of any real desire to get parental choice into the system.

Dr. Hampson rose—

Mrs. Williams

I have already given way a great deal. I shall not give way again.

Therefore, we are bound to the conclusion that the Opposition are supporting the amendment not on the ground that they have suggested—namely, their concern for comprehensive education—but on the ground that they would do everything possible to water it down. That we cannot accept. We believe that comprehensive schools offer both wider opportunities and more choice to children than any other system of education in this country. Therefore, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to stand by me in rejecting the amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 308, Noes 292.

Division No. 378.] AYES [6.25 p.m.
Abse, Leo Blenkinsop, Arthur Carter, Ray
Allaun, Frank Boardman, H. Carter-Jones, Lewis
Anderson, Donald Booth, Rt Hon Albert Cartwright, John
Archer, Peter Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Castle, Rt Hon Barbara
Armstrong, Ernest Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Clemitson, Ivor
Ashley, Jack Bradley, Tom Cocks, Rt Hon Michael
Ashton, Joe Bray, Dr Jeremy Cohen, Stanley
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Coleman, Donald
Atkinson, Norman Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Colquhoun, Ms Maureen
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Concannon, J. D.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Buchan, Norman Conlan, Bernard
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Buchanan, Richard Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Bates, Alf Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Corbett, Robin
Bean, R. E. Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Cowans, Harry
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Campbell, Ian Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Canavan, Dennis Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)
Bidwell, Sydney Cant, R. B. Crawshaw, Richard
Bishop, E. S. Carmichael, Neil Cronin, John
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) John, Brynmor Price, William (Rugby)
Cryer, Bob Johnson, James (Hull West) Radice, Giles
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten) Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Richardson, Miss Jo
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Barry (East Flint) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Davidson, Arthur Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Judd, Frank Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Kaufman, Gerald Robinson, Geoffrey
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kelley, Richard Roderick, Caerwyn
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Kerr, Russell Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Deakins, Eric Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Kinnock, Neil Rooker, J. W.
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Lambie, David Roper, John
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lamborn, Harry Rose, Paul B.
Dempsey, James Lamond, James Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Doig, Peter Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Rowlands. Ted
Dormand J. D Leadbitter, Ted Ryman, John
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lee, John Sandelson, Neville
Duffy, A. E. P. Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Sedgemore, Brian
Dunn James A Lever, Rt Hon Harold Selby, Harry
Dunnett Jack Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Eadie Alex Lipton, Marcus Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Edge, Geoff Litterick, Tom Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Edwards Robert (Wolv SE) Lomas, Kenneth Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Ellis John (Brigs & Scun) Loyden, Eddie Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Ellis Tom (Wrexham) Luard, Evan Sillars, James
English, Michael Lyon, Alexander (York) Silverman, Julius
Ennals David Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Skinner, Dennis
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Small, William
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) McCartney, Hugh Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Evans, John (Newton) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Snape, Peter
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) McElhone, Frank Spearing, Nigel
Faulds, Andrew MacFarquhar, Roderick Spriggs, Leslie
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McGuire, Michael (Ince) Stallard, A. W.
Fitch Alan (Wigon) MacKenzie, Gregor Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Flannery Martin Mackintosh, John P. Stott, Roger
Fletcher L. R. (Ilkeston) Maclennan, Robert Strang, Gavin
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Foot Rt Hon Michael McNamara, Kevin Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Ford, Ben Madden, Max Swain, Thomas
Forrester, John Magee, Bryan Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh- Thomas Dafydd (Merioneth)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Mahon, Simon Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Freeson, Reginald Mallalieu, J. P. W. Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Marquand, David Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
George, Bruce Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Tierney, Sydney
Gilbert, Dr John Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Tomlinson, John
Ginsburg, David Maynard, Miss Joan Tomney, Frank
Golding, John Meacher. Michael Torney. Tom
Gould, Bryan Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Urwin, T. W.
Gourlay, Harry Mendelson, John Varlsy, Rt Hon Eric G.
Graham, Ted Mikardo, Ian Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Grant, John (Islington C) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Grocott, Bruce Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Ward, Michael
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Molloy, William Watkins, David
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Moonman, Eric Watkinson, John
Hardy, Peter Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Weetch, Ken
Harper, Joseph Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Weitzman, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wellbeloved, James
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Moyle, Roland White, Frank R. (Bury)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick White, James (Pollock)
Hatton, Frank Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Whitehead, Phillip
Hayman, Mrs. Helene Newens, Stanley Whitlock, William
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Noble, Mike Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Heffer, Eric S. Oakes, Gordon Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Hooley, Frank Ogden, Eric Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Horam, John O'Halloran, Michael Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham,Sm H) Orbach. Maurice Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Huckfield, Les Ovenden, John Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Padley, Walter Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Palmer, Arthur Woodall, Alec
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Park, George Woof, Robert
Hunter, Adam Parker, John wrigglesworth, Ian
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Parry, Robert Young David (Bolton E)
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Pavitt, Laurie
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Pendry, Tom
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Perry, Ernest TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Janner, Greville Phipps, Dr Colin Mr. James Tinn and
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Mr. David Stoddart.
Jeger, Mrs Lena Prescott, John
Adley, Robert Gardiner, George (Reigate) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Aitken, Jonathan Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Madel, David
Alison, Michael Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Marten, Neil
Arnold, Tom Glyn, Dr Alan Males, Michael
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mather, Carol
Awdry, Daniel Goodhart, Philip Maude, Angus
Baker, Kenneth Goodhew, Victor Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Banks, Robert Goodlad, Alastair Mawby, Ray
Beith, A. J. Gorst, John Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mayhew, Patrick
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Benyon, W. Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Berry, Hon Anthony Gray, Hamish Mills, Peter
Biffen, John Grieve, Percy Miscampbell, Norman
Biggs-Davison, John Griffiths, Eldon Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Blaker, Peter Grimond, Rt Hon J. Moate, Roger
Body, Richard Grist, Ian Molyneaux, James
Boscawen, Hon Robert Grylls, Michael Monro, Hector
Bottomley, Peter Hall, Sir John Montgomery, Fergus
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Moore. John (Croydon C)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bradford, Rev Robert Hampson, Dr Keith Morgan, Geraint
Braine, Sir Bernard Hannam, John Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Brittan, Leon Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Hastings, Stephen Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Brotherton, Michael Havers, Sir Michael Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hawkins, Paul Mudd, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Hayhoe, Barney Neave, Airey
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Heath, Rt Hon Edward Nelson, Anthony
Buck, Antony Heseltine, Michael Neubert, Michael
Budgen, Nick Hicks, Robert Newton, Tony
Bulmer, Esmond Higgins, Terence L Normanton, Tom
Burden, F. A. Hodgson, Robin Nott, John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Holland, Philip Onslow, Cranley
Carlisle, Mark Hooson, Emlyn Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Carson, John Hordern, Peter Osborn, John
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Page, John (Harrow West)
Channon, Paul Howell, David (Guildford) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Churchill, W. S. Howell Ralph (North Norfolk) Page, Richard (Workington)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Paisley, Rev Ian
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hunt, David (Wirral) Pardoe, John
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hunt, John (Bromley) Parkinson, Cecil
Clegg, Walter Hurd, Douglas Paltie, Geoffrey
Cockcroft, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Cope, John James, David Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Cordle, John H. Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cormack, Patrick Jessel, Toby Prior. Rt Hon James
Costain, A. P. Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Raison, Timothy
Critchley, Julian Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Rathbone, Tim
Crouch, David Jopling, Michael Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Crowder, F. P. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rees-Davies, W. R.
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Kaberry, Sir Donald Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Kershaw, Anthony Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kilfedder, James Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Drayson, Burnaby Kimball, Marcus Ridsdale. Julian
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rifkind, Malcolm
Dunlop, John King, Tom (Bridgwater) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Durant, Tony Kirk, Sir Peter Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Dykes, Hugh Kitson, Sir Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Knight, Mrs Jill Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Knox, David Ross, Shephen (Isle of Wight)
Elliott, Sir William Lamont. Norman Ross, William (Londonderry)
Emery, Peter Lare, David Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Eyre, Reginald Langford-Holt, Sir John Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Latham, Michael (Mellon) Royle, Sir Anthony
Fairgrieve, Russell Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Tim
Farr, John Lawson, Nigel St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fell, Anthony Le Marchant, Spencer Scott, Nicholas
Finsberg, Geoffrey Lester, Jim (Beeston) Scolt-Hopkins, James
Fisher, Sir Nigel Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lloyd, Ian Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Loveridge. John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Fookes, Miss Janet Luce, Richard Shepherd, Colin
Forman, Nigel McAdden, Sir Stephen Shersby, Michael
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) McCrindle, Robert Sims, Roger
Fox, Marcus McCusker, H. Sinclair, Sir George
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Macfarlane, Neil Skeet, T. H. H.
Freud, Clement MacGregor, John Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fry, Peter Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Speed, Keith
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Spence, John Temple-Morris, Peter Walters, Dennis
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Warren, Kenneth
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S) Weatherill, Bernard
Sproat, Iain Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) Wells, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Townsend, Cyril D. Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Stanley, John Trotter, Neville Wiggin, Jerry
Steel, David (Roxburgh) Tugendhat, Christopher Winterton, Nicholas
Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) van Straubenzee, W. R. Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Viggers, Peter Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Stokes, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne V) Younger, Hon George
Stradling Thomas, J. Wakeham, John
Tapsell, Peter Walder, David (Clitheroe) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Taylor, R. (Croydon NW) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester) Mr. Fred Silvester and
Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek Mr. John Corrie.
Tebbit, Norman Wall, Patrick

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 2, in page 1, line 11, leave out "or partly".

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

I shall put my case briefly. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) in his arguments on Lords Amendment No. 1 averred his good faith in comprehensive education and he stood firmly by what he said in a recent broadcast on the "Today" programme. The point at which I began to have doubts about his good faith was that at which one might have doubts, living by the adage By their fruits ye shall know them —his extraordinary support for Lords Amendment No. 2. Despite his upholding of the comprehensive principle the hon. Member has shown a tendency to nod and wink at the opponents of the principle in the House of Lords. He cannot possibly argue that this is not a wrecking amendment.

Not only is it seen by us as a wrecking amendment, but we have had strong support. The Liberal spokesman in another place said: I think this is a wrecking amendment, even though that is not the intention."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 6th October, 1976; Vol. 394, c. 1339.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I accept the Secretary of State's good faith, and I hope that she will pay me the same compliment. I agree that there is an interpretation of the amendment, which would make it wrecking, but that is not the only interpretation, and it is not the interpretation that we place upon it.

Mrs. Williams

I thank the hon. Member for his intervention. His hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) will be able to deploy the arguments for interpreting it in a different way. In the light of what the hon. Gentleman said, it is not unreasonable of me to say that that alternative interpretation could be placed upon it.

The first reason is that if "partly" were to be taken out of the Bill the principle would have to be only that of the wholly comprehensive. Wherever there were a partial element of selection it would no longer be clear and unambiguous that selective arrangements were not acceptable to us. Obviously, in many schools there are many elements of selection other than those which we cover by the word "wholly"—for example, selection on the ground of sex, age or catchment area. In some cases there may be selection on the basis of ability in music and dancing, which is covered elsewhere in the Bill.

I am advised that almost any school could argue that it did not come within the terms of the Bill if we accepted the amendment, and that is why I have described it as a wrecking amendment. I do not doubt the good faith of the hon. Member for Chelmsford, but I have been advised that if the amendment remained in the Bill it would be capable of wrecking the entire purpose of the Bill.

If I look with mild suspicion on another place, if not upon this House, it is because when Liberal peers moved an amendment to reduce what they described as the possible wrecking qualities of the amendment Conservative peers refused to accept it. I understand that the purpose of the Liberal amendment was to rule out the kind of interpretation which I have placed upon this amendment. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for me to assume that at least their Lordships knew exactly what they were doing and had every intention of wrecking the Bill by sticking to this amendment.

I believe that it is clear why we are so concerned about the amendment. It is at least open to the interpretation that it wrecks the Bill, and it was intended by another place to be open to that interpretation. We cannot accept it, even in the spirit of reasonable good will over the Bill, because we believe that it would be totally destructive.

Dr. Boyson

In the spirit of reasonableness and good will, and with the approach of the Christmas season, I rise to try to assist Labour Members to save the general principle of comprehensives, which I do not think they will save unless they are wise enough tonight to make certain exceptions. If those exceptions are so disliked by the opponents of all selection that they kill them, the whole principle of the Bill will die.

What will happen if there is no form of partial selection? Already we have had banding forced upon the Government in Committee. Some hon. Members on both sides of the Committee warned what the effect would be without it. I believe that it was the London Labour Members who applied particular pressure to make sure that some form of selection by ability balanced the intake in London schools. What is the alternative? In my constituency and many others there is selection by the purse. Schools may be called comprehensives, but one buys one's comprehensive with a house. If that is not a form of selection, I do not know what is. The only alternative is bussing, or dropping pupils by random helicopter. Either we have the neighbourhood comprehensive school or some form of bussing.

It was interesting that in the guillotine motion yesterday this Bill was linked with that to end tied cottages. This Bill means tied comprehensive schools for children throughout the country, unless the intake is balanced in some way within a general comprehensive principle.

For example, suppose that in an area there are two schools, both taking by catchment area. One has good mathematics courses and no language courses and the other, four miles away, has language courses but no mathematics courses of any consequence. Unless selection by aptitude for mathematics or languages is allowed, a full education will be denied to as many children as Labour Members said were denied a full education under the 11-plus system.

6.45 p.m.

Originally it was intended that there should be comprehensive schools with 5,000 pupils, not 2,000. There was much logic behind them, in that they could provide a full range of courses. It has been estimated that a comprehensive school of 5,000 pupils with the age range 11 to 18 is needed for an O-level class in Greek perhaps not every school wants an O-level class in Greek, but most schools would like an O-level class in at least one language other than French. It is becoming doubtful whether that can be provided in London comprehensives. It becomes more difficult the smaller we make the comprehensives. The size is down to 1,400 pupils at Highbury Grove, and some schools of 750 pupils are now being built. We now have three-stream schools in London.

The Secretary of State believed that there would be more choice with the comprehensive school than without it. I do not agree. There will be very little choice in the three-stream schools that are being introduced. I once worked out in Committee what would happen if we compared a 750-place grammar school, a 750-place comprehensive and a 750-place secondary modern. The most able children would have a choice of fewer courses in the comprehensive schools than at a grammar school of that size. The less able children would have less varied courses in the comprehensive schools than in the secondary modern. The only ones with more choice would be the average students. I do not blame the schools, but the idea that a vast variety of courses would be open to children of all abilities in such schools is not correct, and I was surprised that the right hon. Lady made the statement she did. There will be a great debate about how much choice in academic subjects there is in some of the comprehensive schools in the London area and other cities.

I should like to give some of the latest figures that I have been able to obtain. I hope that we may be given later ones now that we are, I trust, moving towards open government, whichever party is in power. An article by John Izbicki in the Daily Telegraph on Monday suggested that we should have more open government even in education. In 1968 there were fewer than 40 pupils in the upper sixth form of 77 per cent. of ILEA's comprehensive schools. According to the statement of the education officer, Dr. Briault, at that time, we need 40–45 students in the upper sixth to do 10 or 12 economic A-level courses.

I suggest that all schools do a basic curriculum. My suggestion would not destroy the comprehensive principle. All schools, particularly small comprehensives, would in addition do specialised courses, which students would join at various years from various other schools in the area when they had developed an aptitude in those subjects. If that does not happen, I can see the death of sound academic study in many small comprehensive schools. Many other academics have said the same in recent years.

I do not want to go into the subject of mathematics, which should be debated under Clause 4, except to say that it is a classic example of what I have been talking about. In Russia it is believed that ability in mathematics is discovered before ability in music, and I agree. Most of the children I have known who became splendid mathematicians were identifiable as being good at chess and mathematics at an early age. It is wrong to think that they can develop their talents in a general, all-ability school. Many such schools do not have the teachers to do it. What happens if such children are taught in the primary school by one of the 38 per cent. of teachers who entered colleges of education two years ago without O-level mathematics? No mathematical genius will develop in that situation. The ability flowers very quickly, and it must be cultivated. It reaches a peak at a much lower age than practically any other ability.

The statement is also made that in Russia anyone who is not a violinist by the age of 11 is never likely to become a famous violinist. We in Britain must also identify ability. I suggest that in the case of specific ability the comprehensive school should have a subject in which it specialises and for which it is equipped and has the teachers to carry out.

To an extent children teach themselves, but I do not think that it happens naturally, otherwise we would not need schools. However, good mathematics students need good mathematics students around them—not only the teacher—in order to realise that they are not exceptional. Such pupils need an environment in which they can enjoy learning together with people of similar ability. This applies not only to mathematics but to practically every other subject, including languages.

I was horrified when I read the statement of the deputy education officer of ILEA to the parents and staff of Godolphin and Latymer that Latin was the only language that was offered in that school. Linguists will not be trained in schools which teach only oral French up to O-level standard. I believe that linguistics is inborn, just as music is. It is a natural thing—not just of brain, but of ear. The ability to pick up an accent is something that a child is motivated with. If we are to have linguists we require more than academic standards. I also believe that children should be studying three or four languages by the age of 13 or 14.

One of my daughters was studying four languages—three at O-level and one additional language, which she took purely for interest. That has been of great benefit to her. In the small comprehensive schools in many areas a variety of languages should be offered in order to develop a child's ability.

Mr. Noble

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) speaking to Amendment No. 2 or Amendment No. 3? It seems that he is straying to the argument that no doubt will be made when we discuss Amendment No. 3.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

I think the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) should be allowed to develop his argument. The House will see where we get to.

Dr. Boyson

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is wholly or partly what the argument is about. If the truth of what I am saying is so upsetting to the hon. Gentleman that he fears any further information, I sympathise with him. I am particularly concerned about technical education. That is something that we shall have to consider, but I doubt whether every small comprehensive school will have either the technical equipment required or the teachers available. I would like to see a technical comprehensive school within the comprehensive system to which pupils with a distinct interest in technical education can go—pupils distinct from those who take a university degree in these subjects. Motivation is a great thing for children. If they are motivated, and if a curriculum is centred around a particular motivation, it would be to the advantage of both the children and the country.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

It might assist the hon. Gentleman in bringing his remarks to a conclusion if he would address himself specifically to the question: which schools, in his knowledge, at present select wholly by reference to ability or aptitude and not by reference to place of residence, or whatever? If the answer is "None", it is quite clear what the purpose of this amendment is.

Dr. Boyson

I realise that the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler) sees himself as a Back-Bench psychologist. I see myself as someone talking to this amendment. The amendment relates to the question of "wholly or partly". There is no motivation in this. The hon. Gentleman may have motives in everything that he does but some of us concentrate on what we are talking about. Some of us concentrate on getting on with the job.

I believe that exceptionally gifted children need some degree of selection to schools that give entry for a group of between 30 and 40 gifted pupils in all subjects. Otherwise, I believe that they will under-perform. My experience has been that 50 per cent. of the most gifted children under-perform. As Professor Margaret Branch has said, this will happen if a child's ability is not developed at the proper time.

Similarly, where boys show a particular aptitude for sport, I believe that they should be encouraged to go to schools that develop that aptitude. This has already been recognised to some extent. Both Lancashire and London are running courses for pupils in comprehensive schools specialising in certain subjects. Evening classes are now being held. In my own school such classes are being held in science. In Lancashire and London there are summer residential schools in science and mathematics for pupils who are particularly gifted in those subjects. But we should consider whether we should send such distinct groups to a special school instead of sending them to classes in the evenings or in the summer.

The problem is always one of teachers. Hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches will argue that the job of teachers is to teach children. Certainly in primary schools the job of the teacher is to teach a whole range of subjects. However, in the upper secondary school there are teachers with an interest in a particular subject. If their interest is such that it is exceptional, this will be recognised by the pupils and the pupils will gain from it. If we try to force teachers to teach in all-ability schools we shall not succeed They will become part of the brain drain. What such teachers want to do is to get the specially gifted child at an early age.

I believe that exception will have to be made in this respect, otherwise there will be a backlash against the overall principle of comprehensive education. I suggested comprehensive school experiments 20 years ago, when the idea was generally unpopular. When it became popular I became slightly sceptical and now the public is becoming sceptical of the consequences of comprehensive reorganisation in certain areas. We must consider how we can retain the general principle while we do something for the gifted child—at the same time, otherwise there will be a backlash against the whole system.

One thing is clear—we have never finished one form of school reorganisation in this country before we have started another. The idea that the comprehensive system will be the final achievement of mankind is not true. As was said, it was because there was flexibility in the tripartite system that the comprehensive system was tried.

7.0 p.m.

Without some flexibility, the comprehensive principle may become unpopular. The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) mentioned its unpopularity in some parts of her area. Everyone knows my views on selection and comprehensive schools, and presumably Brent, North, which is totally comprehensive, agrees with me. Perhaps I should not make that claim, but I would say that most people want to see how these schools work out.

Alternatively, if the State system offers no means of dealing with the most able children, industry may have to offer scholarships to independent schools. Neither I nor my children have been to an independent school and I have never taught in one, but if we go on in this way, science and maths may die in the cities. Only 8 per cent. of Oxbridge opens came from comprehensive schools last year. Average children of general ability levels come from comprehensive schools, but not academically brilliant children, who are the seed corn for the future.

The Shorter Oxford Dictionary, which I used a great deal in Committee, defines "comprehensive" as having the attribute of comprising or including much; a large content or school". It is not a total concept. Some Labour Members seem to have the strange idea that the cup must be drained to the dregs even if it poisons the drinker. The comprehensive principle is a general one, which says that, other things being equal, it is better for children to be taught in the same school. We agree with that principle for mentally and physically handicapped children, but the principle must allow for the fact that some children with exceptional attributes do not fit in.

Dr. Hampson

The Government themselves accept that there are circumstances in which a system can be partly selective. That is why they amended the Bill to include Clause 2(6) and thus allow the banding system, which is partly selective.

Dr. Boyson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That was indeed a recognition of the need for some form of selection. This is shown also by the exceptions that are made for ballet and music. I could understand the objections to our case more easily if those who made them did not believe in selection at all in any walk of life—for instance, if they proposed that MPs should be selected by random ballot. On second thoughts, perhaps some of them are.

The Government have allowed selection for music and ballet and for the choir schools. Now, 16 choir schools can go on singing—that was the great concession of our 84 hours in Committee. One might work out how many octaves an hour we achieved.

There are two alternative views of the comprehensive school. One is that it gives equal opportunity for all children to be different and to develop their talents. The second is that it is a place where all children have their snouts pushed into the same education whether they like it or not. I take the first opinion. I believe that the comprehensive ideal existed in the beginning and that the principles should still exist, so that all children have an equal opportunity to develop to the full and to be different.

There is nothing contradictory in accepting the comprehensive principle and wanting children to have the opportunity to be different. Without that provision, we should be like Henry Ford, saying "You can have any colour you like, as long as it is black." Some children do not want just the one colour. They have exceptional talents. If the comprehensive school cannot be shown to build up such attributes, the overall principle will suffer. Far from being a wrecking amendment, this may be the one amendment that will save the Bill.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

I think that we have all greatly enjoyed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). Whenever one speaks in this House from experience and knowledge one is listened to.

These Lords amendments are fundamental not just for the Bill but for our society. After all, we are dealing with the future generation—with children who will take our place in 10 or 20 years. The decision we make tonight will obviously greatly affect their future.

We are holding this debate at a time when the country has almost reached the bottom. One of our great assets is the brains of our people, particularly the brains of our children, coupled with their inventiveness and originality. Surely it is the Government's duty not to try to knock that asset on the head. To enforce a rigid comprehensive system throughout the country would, as experience shows, further lower education standards. We simply cannot afford not to cherish our brightest children. Our future as a nation depends on them. I say this particularly when we are fighting for our economic life and for our future as a country.

Obviously, there must be some form of selection in any system of life, just as there is always, in life, some form of discrimination. Both are fundamental parts of human nature, and cannot simply be legislated away as if they never existed.

We on the Conservative Benches believe—we have much support outside—that selection is essential for excellence. No one, for instance, would dream of selecting the England cricket team on a comprehensive basis. Even in the Soviet Union selection is practised throughout education. All should certainly have an equal opportunity, but that is quite different from all pretending to be equal. I fear that abolishing selection will mean the rule of the lowest common denominator and the emergence of mediocrity. I think that the Government know this themselves; hence the exclusion of music and dancing.

Why are only music and dancing excluded? Why not maths, languages, chemistry, physics and many other subjects? That shows the weakness of the Government's case. We have heard from the Prime Minister that he has had second thoughts on education. Even after yesterday's guillotine motion many of us hoped that the Government, particularly with the new Secretary of State, would take a more flexible attitude to these important amendments.

I have found in my constituency, which suffered greatly from educational experiments, the sadness and detriment which they cause the mass of the people. I think that they hope that this trend towards a comprehensive, universal system will be muted, and that there will be some compromise. The Lords amendment is an attempt to do just that. As do so many other amendments made in the other place, it reflects the feelings of ordinary people much more than the Government do.

We want essential safeguards for parents and children. Smooth words uttered by the Minister will not count unless they are written into the Bill. The Opposition oppose compulsion and uniformity. We believe that parents want choice and variety. We see great dangers in only one type of school—the comprehensive school—being allowed in future.

Mr. Noble

The hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) let the cat out of the bag. The example he chose of the English cricket team was particularly unfortunate. The real problem with cricket is the selectivity involved in membership of the MCC and the Selection Committee.

I want to refer generally to the Opposition's comments on comprehensive education and to the Lords amendment, which is a further attempt to interpose selection. Those of us who had the pleasure of attending the Standing Committee regularly were able to witness the clever way in which the Opposition chipped away at the principle of comprehensive education. That has been the traditional attitude of the Tory Opposition to comprehensive education, certainly in the Chamber, if not among all the education authorities.

This year we had the distasteful experience of the events at Tameside. Opposition Members who talk about experimentation should consider what is happening to many children in Tameside because of the foolish and cruel attempt to impose selection, thus depriving many children of grammar-school type education, albeit in a comprehensive system. Opposition Members who cannot fully oppose comprehensive education step back a yard and argue on the principle of co-existence. That is the principle that the amendment seeks to establish.

In the early days people were happy to establish a comprehensive school, albeit within a system which was not entirely comprehensive. As time has gone on it has become widely accepted that a truly comprehensive school can exist only within a comprehensive system. The hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) referred to this in Black Paper Two, "The Crisis in Education". He said: A balanced ability intake is essential. Each local authority has the choice of a bipartite system of grammar and secondary modern schools or of full comprehensive schools in its area. One cannot have grammar schools alongside comprehensive schools or the latter will be nothing but misnamed secondary modern schools.

Dr. Boyson

I wrote that, and I stand by what I wrote. I was arguing for each comprehensive school to have a particular speciality, even technical comprehensive schools. There is nothing in what I said that goes against that. Perhaps we need another Black Paper in the spring to explain it more clearly to the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble).

Mr. Noble

What the hon. Member for Brent, North wrote there is exactly in line with what the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge said. He does not want a comprehensive system of education because only that system will give all children the full opportunities which Labour Members want them to have.

We were told at one time that a 10 per cent. creaming off would be acceptable and that it would not affect the intake of comprehensive schools. Of course it affects the intake. I disagree with what my hon. Friends said about banding. We have to concentrate on the opportunities which the children will have. If children are not available for a comprehensive school and are creamed off, we damage the chances of the children who are being educated in the comprehensive sector. That is what the amendment is designed to do. It is unreasonable for the hon. Member for Brent, North to say that there should be an enquiry into comprehensive education when he is not comparing like with like. A creamed comprehensive school which has lost 10 per cent. of the most able children is not a truly comprehensive school.

When Robin Pedley did an investigation into this issue the Black Paper attacked him for choosing untypical comprehensive schools, although he chose only those where there had been no creaming.

If the amendment goes through, a selection system will be retained which will greatly damage comprehensive schools. I therefore hone that the House will reject the amendment.

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

I rise briefly to support the case put forward so eloquently by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). The House has the advantage of his teaching experience and of his having come from what might be described as a deprived background. The educational views that he expressed are based on his experience in various areas and facets of education. I hope that the Secretary of State will pay attention to what my hon. Friend said immediately before sitting down. The amendment is in no way a wrecking amendment. I do not like comprehensive education, but in the other place and in our deliberations on the Lords amendments we have accepted that the House has agreed that the Bills shall go forward. We seek only to improve it.

The amendment is necessary to stop the comprehensive system creaking to a halt and breaking asunder. I had hoped, with the Prime Minister's intervention in the education arena and the change of Secretary of State—the right hon. Lady has a reputation for both moderation and good sense—that the Government would show a more reasonable and flexible attitude to the amendments.

How does the Secretary of State believe that the comprehensive system will work? If she accepts, as many teachers and educationists do, that the large comprehensive school cannot work, how will the full range of courses be provided in every school, whatever its size? Is it not inevitable that there will be some form of selection to allocate children who are keen on languages to one comprehensive school and those who are keen on mathematics, science and physics to another? Otherwise, there will not be enough highly qualified, motivated teachers to staff all the comprehensive schools, even if we could afford it, which we cannot. I am sure that the Secretary of State is aware of the great restraints on public expenditure.

If, as the Secretary of State said earlier today, comprehensive education will provide more choice, not less, how will that be achieved without the money and without the skilled and motivated teachers in specialised subjects? It will be impossible for every type of course to be provided at every school.

I hope the right hon. Lady appreciates that some of us have been involved in education outside this place. I was involved as a county councillor for six years, sitting as chairman of the board of governors of a non-selective school, as well as being on the governing body of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, founded in the late 1500s.

Perhaps this proves one of the points that the Secretary of State made earlier. These two schools had different environments, different atmospheres and different motivations. I am sure that the right hon. Lady appreciates that situation. There were courses offered at the non-selective high school which were not offered at the grammar school, and certain pupils from the grammar school attended those courses at the high school. Likewise, some of the high school pupils showed a leaning towards academic subjects that were taught at the grammar school, and they were able to attend it for those subjects.

Are we not now, in this Bill, producing a situation where we will get the worst of all worlds—where the Secretary of State tries but necessarily fails to provide a full range of courses in every school? Should we not have some form of course selection built into the Bill?

We are not arguing about the principles of comprehensive education, we are arguing about the details of the Bill, so that when it becomes law it will do the least harm and the most good. I hope that the Secretary of State will pay some attention to what I consider were reasonable and sensible points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North. Where will the money come from to make her dream a reality? Where will all the qualified teachers who are to teach the range of subjects come from to make the system work?

Surely the Secretary of State realises that the money will not be available. Will she not admit that this amendment will make possible the arrival of this Bill on the statute book? The Secretary of State must not forget that we are debating our children's future.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

If this were a serious debate on comprehensive education by two sides which, although differing slightly, were in agreement on the general principle, it would be much more enlightened and serious. It is instead a repetition of the many long and weary hours of debate that we have spent on this subject—I think about 163 hours—on which the two sides fundamentally differ. The Opposition are not trying to help along compre- hensive education, as they repeatedly say, by putting forward enlightened amendments which would make comprehensive education better. On the contrary, the Opposition have returned once again to an onslaught against comprehensive education which they hate. For many years the Labour Party has been advocating comprehensive education as a humane and compassionate method of educating more and more children at a higher and higher level. The Opposition are trying, by every means in their power, to hold up or to get rid of comprehensive education. But they have no chance whatsoever of returning to what they dearly want. It has gone. They are fighting a long, weary rearguard action with no hope of success.

The Bill will go through without these backward amendments which the Opposition support. They say over and over again that they believe in comprehensive education, yet attempt to introduce selection and elitism in education by altering a word here or there. There will be other amendments of that nature. We shall prevent this from happening because we shall show continually—and long after this debate has finished and we have won—that comprehensives are developing in a natural progressive manner which will make them more and more acceptable to wider groupings of people, including a large number of Tory voters.

It is not true—-as one hon. Gentleman suggested—that there were Tory councils which pioneered comprehensive education. I shouted out then "Tell us where they are." I am sure that some time in some debate Opposition Members will tell us about them. I have not heard of them, and I have been in comprehensive education since the end of the war.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The hon. Gentleman is so blind that he cannot see.

Mr. Charles Morrison (Devizes) rose—

Mr. Flannery

No, I will not give way.

Mr. Charles Morrison rose—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman does not wish to give way he cannot be pressed to do so.

Mr. Flannery

I am sure that the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Charles Morrison) has a long list of such councils and, if he is lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, no doubt he will read out the list.

In comprehensive schools at present there are natural and normal problems arising from the process of development which the Opposition ought to help us to solve in a proper manner. We admit that we had opinions on the size of comprehensive schools which are in the process of being changed. There is still a large number of people who believe that comprehensive schools should be big.

The hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson), who marshalled his points very ably, said that in many schools the sixth form is still far too small. He knows as well as I that we originally wanted to have big schools so that there could be sizeable sixth forms where we could get the best results. Despite other things militating against that, the good results were forthcoming, as any hon. Member may see in the Library.

We are worried about streaming. The hon. Gentleman should put forward good reasons instead of futile amendments. We would welcome these on, for example, the number of courses in schools. We are grappling with this problem and with many others besides, such as size, streaming and courses. The Opposition could turn their minds to that and make a progressive contribution to advancing the cause of comprehensive education which they say they believe in. Instead, they strike a blow at its bowels.

Those hon. Members who served on the Committee will remember, as we looked across amiably at one another through the long, tedious speeches of the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner), that it was suggested that we ought to have dinner and leave the hon. Gentleman speaking because he would still be speaking when we came back. The hon. Gentleman will remember that his speeches were so long.

Arguments were put forward for truant schools. The hon. Member for Brent, North said that he went to a truant school and he showed me some photographs. There was discussion of schools for arsonists and so on.

Mr. George Gardiner

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

Just to show how warmhearted I am, I shall give way.

Mr. George Gardiner

I am a little puzzled by what the hon. Gentleman is saying about streaming in schools. Earlier in his remarks he spoke about the march of progress in comprehensive schools—I am not sure in what direction. Is he advancing an argument for abolishing selection in schools and for having mixed ability classes throughout comprehensives?

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Flannery

I am not. The word "selection" has a varying connotation according to which side is talking. Conservative Members would relegate 80 per cent. of children to an inferior education and allow 20 per cent. of children, among whom would be their own children, to go to private schools. That is the process of selection against which we are struggling. We are winning because most people agree with us.

The Opposition are in process of retreating from one position to another. They will never give up. They will adopt new positions as the situation develops, but they must admit that they have been overrun on this matter. We are merely registering the fact that that has happened.

Fundamentally, the Conservative Party is totally against the comprehensive idea because it believes in an elitist education. We do not. We prove our case in every speech, but the Opposition, by every word they say, make clear that they are trying to get rid of comprehensive education and to re-establish the system they want. I believe that the arguments advanced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science are correct, and I profoundly agree with her.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

I do not often welcome the presence of many Labour Members, but I am glad to see the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) in the Chamber rather than teaching my children. I hope that my children will receive an education that shows both sides of an argument.

Mr. Flannery

They will be in a grammar school, no doubt.

Mr. Bottomley

I speak as one of the few Members of this House who started at a comprehensive school at age 11. [HON. MEMBERS: "Now apologise, Martin."] I am being provoked by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough, and I can only tell him that I am willing to send my children to a comprehensive school as long as I am not forced to do so. But if it ever gets to the stage when the State tells me that I have got to do something, I and many hundreds of thousands of people in Britain will do the opposite. I do not like being pushed around, nor do most British people. We do not like being led by a Government who pay no attention to our views.

Last week during the by-elections I went to Newcastle, Walsall and Workington. When in Newcastle I stopped four boys who were working on a job creation scheme and showed them a canvassing card. I pointed to the address on the card and asked "Where is that road?" Two of those boys said "We cannot read". That is one of the major educational problems to which we could have devoted 164 hours of parliamentary time instead of using that valuable time to debate this Bill.

The hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) said that she was worried about the families who came to see her in her constituency surgery because they could not get their children into a grammar school. The hon. Lady should talk to other parents and find out how many families are saying "We cannot get our child into a comprehensive school of our choice".

We return to the lesson of the by-elections. The population is moving in a certain direction, and many people want their child to go to a particular comprehensive school because of the type of school it is or because of the way in which it is run, or because it is strong in certain subjects. But if the Government say: "We shall pay no attention to your views or to the by-elections", they are taking a big step along the road towards educational dictatorship: That is their reaction to the results of last week.

When I am in my constituency in Greenwich, or where I live in Lambeth, or when I am in Tower Hamlets, which I know well, I talk to families and ask them what they want for their children It is not always a matter of grammar school versus secondary modern, or comprehensive versus technical school. Parents are concerned about the kind of education they want for their children and have a pretty fair knowledge about what is available in various local schools. They also have a fair idea of their child's aptitudes or abilities. They also accept, as do the Government, that some pupils are late developers. In dancing and music one is still allowed to have selective schools at the age of 11, but the Government say that the same arguments do not apply to mathematics or other subjects.

The example of Robert Catesby, a friend of Guy Fawkes, comes to mind for those who are interested in history because he went to university at the age of 13. It has been said in the various campaigns that a comprehensive education must be a good thing because one girl took A-level mathematics at the age of 12. But if at the same time one asks those in certain comprehensive schools "At what age are children allowed to take O-level mathematics?" one is told in some schools, but not all, that they are not allowed to do so until they are 17. The Government should provide the answer to these matters, but they do not.

The hon. Member for Hillsborough said that results had been improving, but perhaps he will say why the number of A-levels in French have declined by 1,000 in the last five years. If the hon. Gentleman disagrees with that figure, he can look it up in the Library.

Mr. Flannery

We will go together.

Mr. Bottomley

I believe that both children and schools vary greatly. I believe that we should allow all who can do so to take all the steps forward that are open to them, and that we should encourage families to get their children to try hard at school. The dominant theme in all schools should be that of education, not necessarily straight academic learning.

A little earlier in our discussions the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Fowler), who is not now in the Chamber, demonstrated his academic training by swapping Latin quotations with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas). How many comprehensive schools are teaching Latin, even up to O-level, let alone to a standard to enable pupils to take a university degree in classics? One finds that cultural matters are being wiped away because schools say "We are sorry but there is little demand for Latin here" or they say that there is little demand for academic mathematics. That is why O-level mathematics are taught to children in such schools only at the age of 17. However, those who are in favour of comprehensive education justify their claims by emphasising the case of one girl who obtained "A" level mathematics at the age of 12.

It has been difficult for me to put questions to the Secretary of State for Education and Science because of the truncation of our debate on this Bill. Even though the matter has been discussed for a total of 164 hours, there are still many people who hold strong views on this subject and who come to see their Members of Parliament and want answers from them. I hope that the Secretary of State will address her mind to those questions. I hope that she will say why special help can be given to a 13-year-old child to join an Olympic team and why early developers are allowed to specialise in music and dancing, and also explain why the Government continue to ignore the views of parents who express their views by making applications for their children to attend particular schools for other subjects.

The Government are also continuing to ignore the votes of the electorate as expressed in Workington, Walsall, North and Woolwich. West. The Government have been on notice for 15 months. The Government in their manifesto and in many speeches claimed that they would bring down the rate of inflation. We know what happened there. It doubled. They also claimed to have unemployment under control. We also know that the figure there doubled. Furthermore, we have before us the awful fact that the value of the pound has sunk by a third.

If the Government claim that the most important issue when people voted in October 1974 was education, they have had their come-uppance in the three by-elections they have lost. If they argue that it was part of the package built on unemployment, inflation and the value of the pound, they should do the decent thing and resign, taking the Bill with them. If they will not do that, I hope that they will accept the amendment.

Mr. Arnold Shaw (Ilford, South)

I thought for one moment that we were dealing with the second Lords amendment, but we have just heard an election speech from the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley). I do not know whether it was for the next by-election. Certainly it was a speech far removed from the subject in hand.

In one respect I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). In fact, it is true that comprehensive schools were often pioneered by conservatives. In their experimental stage they were not a matter of party politics. However, they became such an issue v/hen the Tory Party began to recognise certain dangers. They began to recognise that an erosion of the grammar school would take place as parents saw much greater benefits in the comprehensive school. They began to see a certain bastion falling before what they considered to be a much more important sector of education, namely, the private sector. Many Conservative Members have attended public schools, and they would be loth to see that system disappear. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough said, that is what it is all about.

It has been said by my hon. Friends that this is a wrecking amendment. That has been denied by Conservative Members, but the effect of the amendment would be to retain the present system, namely, the presence in the education system of comprehensive and selective schools. The Opposition believe that that is fine, because it preserves the status quo. In that way we should keep the grammar schools and the secondary modern schools, calling them high schools or comprehensive schools, without there being any difference from the present system.

If the Government accepted the amendment it would virtually wreck the Bill. I have been looking forward to a Bill of this sort for many years and I should be loth to see an amendment of this sort inserted.

Another interesting feature is that the amendment has come from another place. It is interesting that in the various debates on the many Bills that have come before their Lordships, the greatest muster of Tory peers has appeared on this Bill. I wonder why. Why should education have been more important than aircraft and shipbuilding, for example? Perhaps it was so decided because it came to their Lordships following the clarion call from the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), who called upon their Lordships to do their stuff in another place and to defeat the objective of this place. Noble Lords tramped through the Lobbies in great numbers not because many of them recognised the merits or otherwise of the Bill, because they have no experience of comprehensive schools—

Mr. Flannery

Or of State education.

Mr. Shaw

That is so. In my opinion the whole thing is "phoney". This is the culmination of the hours and hours of laborious verbiage that we heard from the Opposition. That verbiage is now being repeated. I shall go into the Lobby with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who moved the rejection of the amendment.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Patrick Mayhew (Royal Tunbridge Wells)

I shall follow the remarks of the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Shaw) to some extent, but I hope that he will forgive me if I do not go further than that. It would seem to be just about as irrelevant to talk about an abundance of Tory peers taking an interest in this Bill as to speculate upon the reason for there being so few Labour peers present throughout consideration of all the Bills that we are to consider this week in this place. The quality of the arguments that lie behind the amendment that has been made in another place would seem to be more important to the parents of the children whose future we are now debating.

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who we know has experience of teaching. I hope that he has not been let loose as a historian upon children. I could not help feeling that if the process of the improvement and advancement of comprehensive education had been so in- evitable, implacable and irreversible as he said, there would have been little reason for the Bill's being brought forward.

I know that the hon. Gentleman will not accept this, although I trust that the Secretary of State will, but all of my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that comprehensive schools can be good schools. Most of us know examples of comprehensive schools that are good schools. I can speak only for Kent, part of which I represent. I ask the House to take into account the example that that county provides.

As the right hon. Lady knows—at any rate, the knowledge is available to her—in Kent we have shown ourselves to be in favour of comprehensive reorganisation where appropriate. In the majority of areas forming the education authority, the county has gone comprehensive. However, in four areas, following the most exhaustive consultation with parents, the education authority has declined to submit schemes for comprehensive reorganisation.

The right hon. Lady will know the extent to which consultation has taken place. I have with me the papers that relate to that process, but I shall not weary the House by reading them. It may be that the Government cannot conceive of an elected legislature testing the opinion of those who elected it, but that is what happened in Kent. The results have been overwhelmingly in favour of the retention of the selective scheme in the four areas where selective schools have have been maintained.

I shall refer to one area by name—Cranbrook. I do so not to make a local constituency point but to make a point that is relevant to the debate. In Cranbrook the Thamesside scheme has operated. That means that there is a high school and that at the age of 13 the parent decides whether his child shall go to the upper school. That is decided in consultation with the education authority and the teachers. It is a tripartite operation, and the wishes of the parents are taken into account.

I wish to assure the right hon. Lady—I congratulate her on remaining in the Chamber throughout the debate—of the extent of opinion in favour of the Tame-side scheme continuing to exist in Cranbrook and the surrounding area served by it. It is a system that depends partly—that is the wording in the amendment—upon selection. At the end of the general public meeting that was attended by about 600 people, not one voice was raised from among parents, or from among what I might call the laity, in favour of change to a comprehensive scheme. Two voices were raised in favour of changing the Thamesside scheme, which has been in force for only three years, and they came from teachers at the high school. Not one voice was raised to that effect from the customers, if I may put it in that way.

That is the feeling that runs throughout my constituency. It is extraordinarily hard to understand the theory that lies behind the Government's insistence on going completely comprehensive regardless of what is required by the parents in the areas concerned. It is very difficult to understand the theory. I want to deal with three points raised today in justification of it, not in order to go back to the previous debate but to deal with the arguments put forward generally, which are as germane to this amendment as to the last.

First, it is said that the selective system provides very little choice, anyway, because it applies to only 20 per cent. of the children, and what choice does someone have who wants his child to go to a selective school but cannot get him in? That argument is fallacious. While selective schools survive, one has the choice of an alternative to the State school to which one prefers one's child to go and which will accept him if he satisfies the educational criteria that it requires. If such a school did not have these criteria, one would not want one's child to go there. To say, therefore, that one has been denied one's choice because one's child has not been accepted by a selective school is absurd. If he had been accepted simply because he had asked to go there, one would not have wanted him to go there in the first place as an alternative to the State school.

Is there not a comparison to be made with the question of direction of labour? Surely, if the choice were between the direction of labour and a free market for labour, we would all say that we wanted a free market, because direction of labour denies the right of free choice.

The argument is not diminished by the fact that we cannot all get the job we want. That is the true comparison. One wants to get one's child into a selective school. That does not mean to say that because it may be rejected we should be denied the right of choice.

It is also said that the distribution of selective schools is uneven throughout the country. But that does not quicken the right hon. Lady's argument. If it is a good thing to have selective schools, one overcomes that disability by increasing the number of selective schools and not by destroying those that exist.

Thirdly, it is argued that the comprehensive school offers a wider choice than does the present divided system. It may do, and we hope that in some cases it does. But we also know that in many cases it does not. In the present economic situation, the right hon. Lady will, if she is honest, acknowledge that in the medium term there is no prospect of resources being made available significantly to improve the scope and services of comprehensive education in the schools available.

People who say that those who support selective schools in my constituency or in any other are doing so from some irrational or snobbish reason are underestimating them, and in doing so they are making a profound and damaging mistake. If they tear down what is indubitably good because only 20 per cent. of the children can attend these schools, when we know that we cannot significantly improve the schools to which the remaining 80 per cent. of the children go, they are doing dreadful harm to the country.

The right hon. Lady said By their fruits ye shall know them. She was referring to the Opposition Front Bench. That is right—but the saying goes for the Government as well. The right hon. Lady will, I hope, realise that we are not to be consoled by the knowledge that in the fullness of time the Government will be shown to have been wrong, because, unfortunately, our own children and their children in generations to come will be known also by the fruits of the Government policy. They will be known by reason of the fact that the brightest of them have not been able to reach their full potential, not because of their own fault but because their chances have been prejudiced by a doctrinaire and dogmatic education policy, forced through in the teeth of all the evidence.

Mr. Charles Morrison

In the thirteen years I have been here, I have risen to my feet to speak on the subject of comprehensive education on about half a dozen occasions. I think that, without exception, on each occasion in the end I have managed to incur the wrath of both sides of the House. That being so, and because I prefer to be loved rather than hated, I have played no part in the debates so far on this Bill. I had no intention, when I came into the Chamber this evening, of taking part in the debate, but, having listened for a few minutes to the remarks of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), I feel impelled to do so.

I think that I can best make my point by first of all introducing myself to the hon. Gentleman. I do not think he knows me. He may know that I am the Member for Devizes, but obviously he does not know, judging by what he said, that before I came here I was chairman of the education committee of the county of Wiltshire. Contrary to the tone of his remarks, way back before he was thought of as a Labour Member, way back before Labour Governments were even thought of, way back in 1961, my county education committee decided that the time was right to consider alternative forms of secondary education. It considered alternative forms for about two years before it reached conclusions.

To emphasise the point I am making, which is that there is no hatred of comprehensive education on this side of the House, I would point that, during the course of our deliberations, we visited a number of other local education authorities throughout England. With one exception, they were all Conservative-controlled, and all had one type or other of comprehensive education. So, even before Wiltshire began to consider secondary education, other Tory-controlled councils had introduced it, in some cases many years before then.

What is more, not only had they introduced it but there was a comparison, which the hon. Gentleman would think favourable, with, in some cases, adjacent local education authorities which were Socialist-controlled and where comprehensive education had not even been thought of. One example of this was that the Leicestershire County Council, Tory-controlled, had comprehensive education, whereas the Labour-controlled city of Leicester still retained the grammar school—secondary modern system.

In these remarks at least I have shown that I have some background of support for the principle of comprehensive education, and I want to make only one other point because time is short. After these 13 years of a gradual changeover towards comprehensive education in the county of Wiltshire, it is the considered view that the quality and standard of secondary education in that county has at least been maintained and perhaps improved. It is very difficult to judge, because the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the number of candidates for GCE has naturally increased very considerably over the years. It is difficult to know precisely what the situation would have been if there had not been a change.

It is the considered objective opinion in the county that the standard of education has been maintained and perhaps improved, but—and this is the important point—it is also the view of the county of Wiltshire that that standard has been maintained, or possibly improved, only because the resources required for the changeover to take place have been made available.

Here we are facing a situation in which the Government are putting the Bill forward without any chance whatsoever of providing the resources which will be required by the local education authorities which, if the Bill becomes law, will be forced to introduce comprehensive schools.

I believe that the Bill is wrong because of that point in particular. I believe it is also wrong because in the ultimate it is much more important that the local education authorities should retain their discretion. They are far better fitted to know what is best for their areas than Big Brother sitting in Whitehall.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Lawrence

I think that somebody on the Conservative Benches ought to say just how much we appreciate the magnificent effort that their Lordships made in order to provide us with an opportunity of at least seeking to persuade the Government to make some changes in the Bill. We appreciate especially the strength of their arguments—and in some respects the subtleness of their arguments—when seeking to show that, without destroying the underlying concept of the Bill, some effort could be made to introduce some good sense into it by maintaining some aspects of selectivity.

I would find it very difficult to argue—I know that this is a view that is not necessarily shared by my colleagues, but it would be less than honest of me to deny it—that the amendment is not capable of being considered a wrecking one, in the sense that it goes a long way towards undermining the principle of the Bill, Nevertheless, I think that some of us are entitled to stand up on behalf of our constituents—and on behalf of the country at large, as their Lordships have done—and say that there are some aspects of the Bill—particularly the underlying principle of it—that ought to be wrecked.

One of the aspects that I find so sad about this whole business is to see the right hon. Lady leading for the Government, because it is not just on the Conservative side of the House but in the country at large that a substantial proportion of the people look to her, and to one or two of her right hon. and hon. Friends, to maintain some elements of moderation in Government policy.

There was a time when the so-called moderates in the Labour Party were prepared to stand up behind their leader and agree with him that the grammar schools would be abolished only over his dead body. But the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) has gone from the Government. Alas, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Jenkins) has gone. [HON. MEMBERS: "Is going."] The right hon. Lady remains. She must at some stage in her life have thought there was merit and credit in the selective system, or her daughter would not have gone to a selective school. The right hon. Lady has found it necessary to withdraw her daughter from that school in order to make it easier for her to fulfil the high office of Secretary of State for Education and to urge the passing of this Bill. I find that very sad.

I find it the sadder since it is, in my view, little coincidence that the policy which this Bill in fact manifests is the same as that which was enunciated by Marx and Engels in the nineteenth century—that there should come a time when the State had supreme control over education, and that education should in all its facets be of one kind and under State control.

Whether or not that is a coincidence, it is a concept which I find impossible to support. It is repugnant to me, and any such concept introduced in a Bill of this kind will meet with my strongest and deepest objections. I am sure that it meets with the deepest objections of the overwhelming majority of the people I represent in Burton, and of the people of this country.

One can understand how difficult it must be for the Secretary of State to pretend that the whole concept of selectivity is bad when, even in the Bill which she presents to this House, she finds it necessary to support some aspects of selectivity. It is necessary to be selective about dancing schools and about music schools. It is necessary, in Clause 2(6), to be selective about schools where there needs to be banding.

It is very difficult to make exceptions to a principle as fundamental as the need for recognition, in our education system, that children are different and have to be catered for in different ways. It is very difficult to make some exceptions to that rule and justify not making others.

Everyone in this House knows that if we are to achieve excellence in education there must be some element of selectivity at some stages of our children's teaching. I do not believe for a moment that there will be many heads of comprehensive schools who, at some stage or other, do not introduce streaming or setting, and who do not believe that the principle of mixed ability classes will not endure past the third or the fourth years. People who have spent their lives in education know full well that we have at some stage to be selective about the way we teach, the standard to which we teach, the subjects we teach, and the teachers who teach for us.

It is very difficult for me, therefore, to understand the logic of the right hon. Lady and of the Government's stand in resisting an amendment such as this, which seeks to extend the boundaries of selectivity to embrace not only the common sense of the situation but the wishes of the majority of the people.

I end as I began, by saying "Thank God for the House of Lords". If we had not had a second Chamber—and there may well be argument as to how it ought to be constituted—the will of the people would never have been reflected in this Parliament as it is at present constituted. Not only the by-elections but the election of this Government in the first place, with the support of a mere 38 per cent. of the electorate, show that there is no mandate for the sort of extremism that is laid down in the Bill.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I do not intend to keep the House very long, but I should like to pick up some of the points made in the debate. When the right hon. Lady opened, she said that she believed that this was a wrecking amendment. I am sorry that she thinks that, because her noble Friend in another place thought that this amendment was put forward in a constructive and meaningful way.

What I think the right hon. Lady does not understand—and, indeed her right hon. and hon. Friends do not understand—is that we on the Conservative side are not against comprehensive education. This has been said consistently by my hon. Friends time and time again. Rather, what we want to do—we have made it clear throughout the Committee stage, Report stage and Third Reading—is to make sure that we can get the best out of the comprehensive schools.

The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble)—I am sorry that he is not here—said that in Committee we on the Conservative side chipped away at the principle of comprehensive education. That was not the case, and I am afraid that he got it wrong again. What we did was to chip away at compulsory comprehensive education—and there is a tremendous difference between comprehensive education and compulsory comprehensive education.

My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley) said that the pity was that we had not spent a considerable amount of time talking about standards in education rather than just talking about the Bill. The fact is that in Com- mittee we spent a lot of time talking about standards in education. But, sadly, what we had to listen to from Government supporters was dogma, dogma and more dogma.

The hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Shaw) said that comprehensive education was not a party political battle. But it became a party political battle when the threat of the introduction of compulsory comprehensive education appeared over the horizon, and that occurred when the Labour Party took office. So it is Government supporters who have brought the matter into the party political arena.

I do not think that it would be right for me to comment on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison), save to say that he managed in his short intervention to abolish entirely the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). I wish that I had had my hon. Friend's sagacity and help in Committee. There were moments when I should have liked to achieve what he achieved in such a short time. It took me much longer to do so.

The point of the amendment is to allow partial reference to ability or aptitude. It does not need to destroy the comprehensive principle. Exceptions have already been made for music and dancing, and my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) referred to them.

We have heard a great deal about the Prime Minister's speech at Oxford. In the course of it he said that we were short of the right type of people coming out of our schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) made this point cogently. But to get the right type of people coming out of comprehensive schools we shall need exceptions in areas other than just music and dancing. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) said, why not include maths, science and languages? I cannot see that there can be an argument against it.

Nor can I see why the Secretary of State should oppose it by saying that this is a wrecking amendment. It must be right for the country. It must be right for children who are going through our schools at the moment and who will be going through our schools in the future. Surely we must all agree that our children should have the best possible opportunities. The Opposition contend that this Bill will deprive children of those opportunities.

If the right hon. Lady were to accept the amendment, there would be some chance of those with a particular aptitude in certain areas having those opportunities. They will be deprived of them unless the amendment is accepted.

Thanks to the Government's guillotine motion, we are extremely short of time. As a result, the Opposition may not push the amendment to a Division. However, we shall listen carefully to what the Secretary of State says.

8.15 p.m.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

There are two ways in which I can respond to this debate, and perhaps my best course will be to take each of them in turn.

There was that part of the debate involving the first section of the speech of the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson), the one just made by the hon. Member for City of Chester (Mr. Morrison) and certain other speeches by Opposition Members, including the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). The burden of what they said was in a sense in response to what my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) said—in other words, are there problems which can be solved by sensible arrangements between the schools?

If I can take the politics out of this debate, the answer must be "Yes". Clearly there will be groups of children specialising in subjects which it is not possible to mount in every school—subjects such as Italian, or the classics—where it makes sense for schools to get together and agree that one will specialise in a course for all the children in that area. I am advised that there is nothing in the Bill which makes it impossible or which makes it any more difficult than it is today. My Department has encouraged that. It has encouraged the concept of linked courses between schools and further education colleges with a view to using equipment and specialised teachers in the most sensible way. I accept the points made by sincere speakers in this debate about how to make the best fist of giving every child the widest range of choice whilst using our resources sensibly.

It would be unreasonable to quarrel with speeches of that kind and, if this amendment could be interpreted as being about that, I would accept it happily. But it is not. Again we have the same difficulty as we did with Amendment No. 1. It is that the removal of the phrase "or partly" means that any school which selects other than wholly on ability or aptitude is then outwith the Bill.

I ask the Opposition to try to understand why the Government describe this as a wrecking amendment. I am advised that it means that any school which selects on any basis other than ability or aptitude will thereby escape the effects of Clause 1. Obviously that is a totally impossible situation. Almost all schools in practice select on more than simply ability. Even comprehensive schools may select on the catchment area, single-sex schools on the basis of sex, and denominational schools on the basis of denomination. Even if they were wholly comprehensive in terms of ability and aptitude, this amendment would in practice mean that they would not be able to be brought within the terms of the Bill.

That is the objection to the amendment, and if the Opposition wanted me to take them seriously, they should have tabled an amendment saying what they meant in terms of the ability of schools to specialise where either the number of teachers or the demand for courses was such that it would make sense for only one school in an area to run specialist courses for a number of youngsters in the area. There is no problem about this, and that was the point made very sensibly by the hon. Member for Brent. North, the hon. Member for Macclesfield and one or two others.

But it turned out that this was a thin end of the wedge argument. We could accept the first stage of that. But the second stage was advanced in the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Brent, North and to some extent by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison). It was the argument that we should have schools which were selective for gifted children—a special new kind of selective school for very highly gifted children.

The Opposition do not appear to understand that the whole purpose of comprehensive education is to enable children to learn from one another and to have in their midst the gifted, the less gifted, the privileged, the less privileged, those who have opportunities and those who do not. It is the straightforward principle of the leaven raising the loaf, and it has been shown time and again that this principle operates effectively in education.

We then move to the third stage where we get beyond bounds which I should have thought were acceptable to even the Conservative Party. It was dealt with in the rather strange speech of the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) and was touched upon by the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence). It is the suggestion that we pick out an élite and educate them separately.

In this respect, the hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge referred to the Soviet Union. I thought that it was understood in this House that the greatest single social objection to the pattern of the Soviet Union was the nature of its highly privileged bureaucratic class. Is it really the case that the Opposition want to sustain that? I wonder about it, because there is a certain similarity between wishing to sustain the separate education of an élite, whether in schools outside or inside the State system, and exactly what has been attempted by the Soviet Union. Government supporters reject the concept of separately educating an élite, whatever pattern it may take. It is unacceptable to us.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

But is it not true that the Soviet Union started with a general blanket comprehensive education policy, and was driven by the needs of the country to a more selective system, although it is called specialisation? Also, is it not true that to that extent this policy is being followed in the United States as well?

Mrs. Williams

I do not accept that in its fundamental sense because the Soviet Union always had a difference between its rural and urban areas until recent years, so it was not truly a comprehensive system.

Part of the argument tonight is about whether we continue along the lines of social division, and the purpose of this Bill is to end social divisions in education. When I listened to the hon. and learned Member for Royal Tunbridge Wells (Mr. Mayhew) I noticed that he referred to the degree of choice available in Kent. But only 7 per cent. of Kent children are in comprehensive schools of any kind, including the denominational schools which have gone comprehensive, unlike most of the county schools. That cannot be described as offering any kind of choice. That is basically a selective system with a handful of comprehensive schools in certain areas.

Listening to the Opposition I am bound to draw the same conclusion as Poincaré in his famous remark "the poor man is equal with the rich man before the majesty of the law in that it forbids both alike from stealing bread and sleeping under bridges."

What hon. Gentlemen opposite refuse to accept is that we have a situation in which a substantial proportion of our children come from a deprived environment with deprived housing, and attend schools which are deprived of equal resources. To describe this as equal opportunity is to talk utter hypocrisy. In the selective system from beginning to end expenditure per head on secondary modern schools is consistently below that on grammar schools, and the children who most need their lack of opportunity offset get the least chance of having it. The comprehensive system is an attempt to give equal treatment. Therefore we commend the Bill to the House and reject what is bound to be, by its very nature, a wrecking amendment.

I am not saying that all hon. Members opposite intend it to be so. All those who have spoken tonight probably do not mean to wreck the Bill by supporting this amendment. But if they support this amendment it is clear that as a result the great bulk of schools will be out of the scope of the Bill altogether. Hon. Members must be quite clear that that is what they are doing if they support the amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes, 320. Noes, 280.

Division No. 379.] AYES [8.23 p.m.
Abse, Leo Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lamond, James
Allaun, Frank Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Anderson, Donald English, Michael Leadbitter, Ted
Archer, Peter Ennals, David Lee, John
Armstrong, Ernest Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Ashley, Jack Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Ashton, Joe Evans, loan (Aberdare) Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Evans, John (Newton) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Atkinson, Norman Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lipton, Marcus
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Faulds, Andrew Litterick, Tom
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Lomas, Kenneth
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Loyden, Eddie
Bates, Alf Flannery, Martin Luard, Evan
Bean, R. E. Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Beith, A. J. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mabon, Dr J. Dickson
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ford, Ben McCartney, Hugh
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Bishop, E. S. Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) McElhone, Frank
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Boardman, H, Freeson, Reginald McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Freud, Clement Mackenzie, Gregor
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mackintosh, John P.
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Garret, W. E. (Wallsend) Maclennan, Robert
Bradley, Tom George, Bruce McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Gilbert, Dr John McNamara, Kevin
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ginsburg, David Madden, Max
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Golding, John Magee, Bryan
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Gould, Bryan Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)
Buchan, Norman Gourlay, Harry Mahon, Simon
Buchanan, Richard Graham, Ted Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Grant, George (Morpeth) Marks, Kenneth
Campbell, Ian Grant, John (Islington C) Marquand, David
Canavan, Dennis Grimond, Rt Hon J. Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Cant, R. B. Grocott, Bruce Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Carmichael, Nell Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Maynard, Miss Joan
Carter, Ray Hardy, Peter Meacher, Michael
Carter-Jones, Lewis Harper, Joseph Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Cartwright, John Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mendelson, John
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Hart, Rt Hon Judith Mikardo, Ian
Clemitson, Ivor Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Millan. Rt Hon Bruce
Cocks. Rt Hon Michael Hatton, Frank Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Cohen, Stanley Hayman, Mrs. Helene Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Coleman, Donald Healey, Rt Hon Denis Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Heffer, Eric S. Molloy, William
Concannon, J. D. Hooley, Frank Moonman, Eric
Conlan. Bernard Hooson, Emlyn Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Horam, John Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Corbett, Robin Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham,Sm H) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Cowans, Harry Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Moyle, Roland
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Crawshaw, Richard Huckfield. Les Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Cronin, John Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Newens, Stanley
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Hughes, Mark (Durham) Noble, Mike
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Oakes, Gordon
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ogden, Eric
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hunter, Adam O'Halloran, Michael
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Orbach, Maurice
Dalyell, Tarn Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Davidson. Arthur Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Ovenden, John
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Janner, Greville Padley, Walter
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Palmer, Arthur
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Jeger, Mrs Lena Pardoe, John
Deakins, Eric Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Park, George
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) John, Brynmor Parker, John
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Johnson, James (Hull West) Parry, Robert
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Pavitt, Laurie
Dempsey, James Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Pendry, Tom
Doig, Peter Jones, Barry (East Flint) Penhaligon, David
Dormand, J. D. Jones, Dan (Burnley) Perry, Ernest
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Judd, Frank Phipps, Dr Colin
Duffy, A. E. P. Kaufman, Gerald Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Dunn, James A. Kelley, Richard Prescott, John
Dunnett, Jack Kerr, Russell Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Kilroy-Silk, Robert Price, William (Rugby)
Eadie, Alex Kinnock, Neil Radice, Giles
Edge, Geoff Lambie, David Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lamborn, Harry Richardson, Miss Jo
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Snape, Peter Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Spearing, Nigel Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Robertson, John (Paisley) Spriggs, Leslie Ward, Michael
Robinson, Geoffrey Stallard, A. W. Watkins, David
Roderick, Caerwyn Steel, David (Roxburgh) Watkinson, John
Rodgers, George (Chorley) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Weetch, Ken
Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Stoddart, David Weitzman, David
Rooker, J. W. Stott, Roger Wellbeloved, James
Roper, John Strang, Gavin White, Frank R. (Bury)
Rose, Paul B. Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. White, James (Pollock)
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Whitehead, Phillip
Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Swain, Thomas Whitlock, William
Rowlands, Ted Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ryman, John Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Sandelson, Neville Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Sedgemore, Brian Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Selby, Harry Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Tierney, Sydney Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Tinn, James Wise, Mrs Audrey
Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Tomlinson, John Woodall, Alec
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Tomney, Frank Woof, Robert
Sillars, James Torney, Tom Wrigglesworth, Ian
Stiverman, Julius Urwin, T. W. Young, David (Bolton E)
Skinner, Dennis Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Small, William Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Wainwright, Richard (Colne V) Mr. Thomas Cox and
Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd) Mr. James Hamilton.
Adley, Robert Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Havers, Sir Michael
Aitken, Jonathan Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hawkins, Paul
Alison, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hayhoe, Barney
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Drayson, Burnaby Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Arnold, Tom du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Heseltine, Michael
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Dunlop, John Hicks, Robert
Awdry, Daniel Durant, Tony Higgins, Terence L.
Baker, Kenneth Dykes, Hugh Hodgson, Robin
Banks, Robert Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Holland, Philip
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hordern, Peter
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Elliott, Sir William Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Benyon, W. Emery, Peter Howell, David (Guildford)
Biffen, John Eyre, Reginald Howell Ralph (North Norfolk)
Biggs-Davison, John Fairbairn, Nicholas Hunt, David (Wirral)
Blaker, Peter Fairgrieve, Russell Hunt, John (Bromley)
Body, Richard Farr, John Hurd, Douglas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fell, Anthony Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bottomley, Peter Finsberg, Geoffrey Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Fisher, Sir Nigel James, David
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)
Bradford, Rev Robert Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jessel, Toby
Braine, Sir Bernard Fookes, Miss Janet Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Brittan, Leon Forman, Nigel Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'fd) Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Brotherton, Michael Fox, Marcus Jopling, Michael
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Bryan, Sir Paul Fry, Peter Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Kershaw, Anthony
Buck, Antony Gardiner, George (Reigate) Kilfedder, James
Budgen, Nick Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Kimball, Marcus
Bulmer, Esmond Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) King, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Burden, F. A. Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Glyn, Dr Alan Kirk, Sir Peter
Carlisle, Mark Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Kitson, Sir Timothy
Carson, John Goodhart, Philip Knight, Mrs Jill
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Goodhew, Victor Knox, David
Channon, Paul Goodlad, Alastair Lamont, Norman
Churchill, W. S. Gorst, John Lane, David
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Clark, William (Croydon S) Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Latham, Michael (Melton)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Lawrence, Ivan
Clegg, Walter Gray, Hamish Lawson, Nigel
Cockcroft, John Grieve, Percy Le Marchant, Spencer
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Griffiths, Eldon Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Cope, John Grist, Ian Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Cordle, John H. Grylls, Michael Lloyd, Ian
Cormack, Patrick Hall, Sir John Loveridge, John
Costain, A. P. Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Luce, Richard
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Critchley, Julian Hampson, Dr Keith McCrindle, Robert
Crouch, David Hannam, John McCusker, H.
Crowder, F. P. Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Macfarlane, Neil
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Hastings, Stephen MacGregor, John
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Paisley, Rev Ian Spence, John
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Parkinson, Cecil Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Pattie, Geoffrey Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Madel, David Percival, Ian Sproat, lain
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Peyton, Rt Hon John Stanbrook, Ivor
Marten, Neil Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Stanley, John
Mates, Michael Price, David (Eastleigh) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Mather, Carol Prior, Rt Hon James Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Maude Angus Pym, Rt Hon Francis Stokes, John
Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Raison, Timothy Stradling Thomas, J.
Mawby, Ray Rathbone, Tim Tapsell, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Mayhew, Patrick Rees-Davies, W. R. Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Tebbit, Norman
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mills, Peter Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Miscampbell. Norman Ridley, Hon Nicholas Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Ridsdale, Julian Townsend, Cyril D.
Moate, Roger Rifkind, Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Molyneaux, James Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Tugendhat, Christopher
Monro, Hector Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Montgomery, Fergus Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Moore, John (Croydon C) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Viggers, Peter
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Ross, William (Londonderry) Wakeham, John
Morgan, Geraint Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Royle, Sir Anthony Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Sainsbury, Tim Wall, Patrick
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) St. John-Stevas, Norman Walters, Dennis
Mudd, David Scott, Nicholas Warren, Kenneth
Neave, Airey Scott-Hopkins, James Weatherill, Bernard
Nelson, Anthony Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wells, John
Neubert, Michael Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Wiggin, Jerry
Newton, Tony Shelton, William (Streatham) Winterton, Nicholas
Normanton, Tom Shepherd, Colin Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Noll, John Shersby, Michael Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Onslow, Cranley Silvester, Fred Younger, Hon George
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Sims, Roger
Osborn, John Sinclair, Sir George TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Page, John (Harrow West) Skeet, T. H. H. Mr. John Corrie and
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Mr. Anthony Berry.
Page, Richard (Workington) Speed, Keith

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 3, in page 1 line 21, at end insert or such other ability or aptitude as the Secretary of State may from time to time by order designate.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Miss Margaret Jackson)

I beg to move. That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment we are to discuss the Lords Amendment No. 7.

Miss Jackson

The Bill already allows for the admission of pupils to schools where selection is based wholly or mainly on their ability in music or dancing as well as safeguarding the existence of special schools for other such special educational treatment. This amendment, however, provides for the extension of specialised provision and, indeed, of selection in a way which seems completely open-ended.

We discussed this issue, as well as the basic issues which arise on the amendment, at considerable length in Committee. We argue, as we have already argued today, that, although there is a recognised specialist need for early training in music and dancing, no such overriding need has been established for other areas of study. In addition, we argue that there is a need for all children to have as round an education as possible and not to confine themselves to academic specialities too severely or at too early an age. We consider that the dangers of too early specialisation far outweigh the advantages for the children involved as well as for society.

Another equally serious issue of principle arises from the framing of this amendment. It would permit a future Secretary of State so to extend the number of grounds on which selection might be exercised as to make it possible to drive a coach and horses through the main principle of the Bill—the principle of non-selection—not by new legislation, on which there could be prior consultation and full parliamentary debate, but by affirmative resolution of this House. If the amendment were to be retained in its present form a future Secretary of State could, in effect, repeal the Bill without the unpleasant necessity of arguing in any detail for its repeal before Parliament or the country. Therefore, in our view, the amendment should be resisted on the grounds both of its basic philosophy and of the mechanism which it proposes for giving effect to that philosophy.

Mr. Beith

The Under-Secretary of State may have overlooked the source of this amendment or she would not have used certain words. It does not arise from any difference in basic philosophy about what should be the main features of the State educational system but from the more specific concern of how to deal with the problem of special aptitudes.

The House has just rejected an amendment which would have dealt widely with the problem of special aptitudes. A great deal of the discussion went rather wider that the amendment itself. Indeed, some of us had reservations about that amendment, because we felt that it would greatly undermine the principles of the Bill. That is why we sought to pass an amendment in the House of Lords to give a far more specific right to deal with other kinds of special aptitudes, if we find in future years that there is a special need. It is with that in mind that we suggest this amendment and Amendment No. 7 which has the effect of requiring an affirmative order.

The amendment provides for any future Secretary of State for Education, or the present Secretary of State if she is still in office, to specify by order, which would have the assent of the House, other areas for which special provision should be made in addition to the two to which the Government have already agreed to be necessary—music and dancing. We do not advance the amendment on the basis that there will be large numbers of special cases but we want some element of flexibility. We do not want to assume that the House knows today what all future special cases might be.

We support the principle of comprehensive education and we want to see it applied. We have supported the Bill in principle and we are at one with the Government in wishing to make only limited exceptions to that principle. The Government have agreed to two exceptions. We are as keen as they to distinguish special aptitudes which can be provided for only in a special school. Others can be catered for in a comprehensive school. We have no wish to create a large loophole through which a general denial of the comprehensive principle can be driven.

We must recognise that there are aptitudes for which special provision must be made. Research and discussion in education will continue to take place. The Prime Minister sought to encourage it. In the course of that discussion we might arrive at the conclusion that there are one or two other fields for which special provision should be made. Research in the problems of dyslexia, for instance, may show that it must be catered for in a special way. I do not want to prejudge that issue but I want to allow a future Secretary of State to bring forward special provisions under the Bill to deal with any situation. Education is a continuing and evolving process; it changes, as it should.

Why should we have to alter the general framework and introduce a new Education Bill every time a change must be made? The House should pass legislation which will stand the test of time and establish a general framework which allows sufficient flexibility for change to be made. I lament a situation in which education must look forward only to constant enactment and repeal. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said that the Bill will be repealed by a future Tory Government. The exercise of enactment and repeal of major education legislation will not lead to the successful growth of education. We need an element of flexibility which will allow the system to respond to change and new ideas.

8.45 p.m.

It is suggested that a future Secretary of State could use the provisions that we are advancing as a means to defeat the provision of the Bill as a whole by putting forward so many special subjects that general selectivity was reintroduced into education by the back door. If we have a Secretary of State prepared to do that, one who can defend it at Question Time, he can do it through the parliamentary procedure. We shall have a government able to repeal the Bill and everything that goes with it. We shall be dealing with a Government with both the intention and the power to make major changes without the need to resort to any loophole or back-door method. If we are to suppose the existence of a Secretary of State who would use this means to turn his back on the whole of this legislation, we are supposing the existence of a Government who could sweep the whole thing away without resource to it.

There is a need for flexibility to allow a sensible Secretary of State, faced with questioning in the House and the educational world generally on his or her use of the power, to respond to the products of new research and further discussion. If we find aptitudes other than music and ballet dancing which should be made the subject of special provision, which is not beyond the bounds of imagination, it should be possible to cater for them without the Government's having to come back to the House with major new legislation.

Dr. Boyson

Although this was a Liberal amendment in the other place, it was supported by Conservative Back-Benchers there. We almost debated a similar amendment on Report in this House, but because of the guillotine it was not reached. Therefore, we have decided to support this amendment.

I accept the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that if there is an intention to reverse the movement towards comprehensive schools there is no need for a loophole in the measure. We are already committed to repealing the compulsory clauses on gaining power. The amendment would allow more flexibility, which we should have to allow legislation to change with the mood of the time. The more flexibility we have, the more likely it is that the measure will do good instead of harm in the country.

The choir schools were excepted in Committee. What is to stop the need for further exceptions arising? I am told by the National Council for Drama Teaching that there is a likelihood of a drama school being set up in London. To cater for that would need an amendment to the Bill, whereas under the amendment we should need only a resolution or a statement by the Secretary of State.

We welcome the Prime Minister's stress on scientific, technical and vocational education. The movement towards that may come. Who knows what Government will be in power by then? If we can imagine the nightmare of the present Government remaining in power, we can also imagine that they may not only want standards in schools but decide that there should be an emphasis on engineering or technical education. By accepting the amendment, the Government would save hours that would otherwise be spent upstairs in Committee. Languages and the other specialities, such as mathematics, that we discussed in the previous debate might also be involved. The Secretary of State should have power at any time to add special subjects, special courses, special groups of people without having to amend the Bill or pass a further Education Act.

Miss Margaret Jackson

I was aware that the amendment had been tabled in another place by a member of the party of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), the Liberal Party. I recognise that on this matter there is not the difference of basic philosophy between us as there is between us and other hon. Members.

I would also say to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, in a spirit of true charity, that one must look at the effect of these amendments as well as their entirely honourable motives. I accept that the hon. Gentleman shares with us a good deal of philosophy about education. But one must consider the potential results of how the amendment can be used.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed spoke at some length about the fact that he and his hon. Friends, and those in another place who had tabled the amendment, had no intention of allowing it to be used in the way that I have suggested. He said that what they wanted was to allow a few additions to be made in respect of specialisation as circumstances may develop in future. He said quite specifically "We do not intend to add large numbers of special cases". I must point out to the hon. Gentleman that although that might not be the intention of his hon. Friends, or those in another place, the amendment as drafted would permit that process.

The hon. Gentleman said he had no wish to create a large loophole but, with respect, he has created a very large loophole indeed. He said it could be decided in future, as a result of further research, whether there were other fields which needed special provision. However, he did not answer the question: although we may need special provision in other fields, do we necessarily need special schools in those fields? The hon. Gentleman gave dyslexia as an example. It is certainly possible to provide for children who are dyslexic to go to a school which does not need to be a separate school. In the case of children who are physically and mentally handicapped, as the hon. Gentleman knows, there is at present a substantial argument in educational circles, and in this House, stating that more of these children should be educated in ordinary comprehensive schools and that they should receive special assistance to enable them to be maintained there.

The hon. Gentleman also put forward an argument for changing the Bill in order to provide for such children. I would suggest that we would not need to change the Bill to cover that sort of special need which the hon. Gentleman foresees at some time in the future. It is something which could be dealt with within the existing framework of the Bill.

Finally, he suggested that we could have a Government which wished to introduce so many orders as to weaken the principle of the Bill.

Mr. Bryan Davies

Does my hon. Friend not recoil in horror at some of the barbarisms put forward in respect of comprehensive education? What would a technical comprehensive school be about if children at the age of 11 were selected as hewers of wood and drawers of water? Do we not have here not a development of the comprehensive principle, but an attempt to return to the old 1870 situation of specialised education under which Conservative Members think they can select children at such an early stage?

Miss Jackson

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It becomes more and more apparent that there are many hon. Members of this House who claim to sympathise with the principle of comprehensive education without recalling what it actually means. How the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) can argue that there is such a thing as a "technical comprehensive school" is beyond me. Surely the whole point of comprehensive schools is that they not only admit a full range of children without selection but also offer them a full range of education.

Dr. Boyson

There are very few comprehensive schools giving such a full range of education at the moment. It is a myth to suggest that there are. It seems to me possible to have a school with children of technical interests of all abilities. It would be interesting to discover whether a technical comprehensive school will be more successful than some of the comprehensive schools in the country at present.

Miss Jackson

That demonstrates a classic misconception in the hon. Gentleman's mind. For one thing, he clearly assumes that those who are technically able are somehow different and specialised and that that side of their ability should be developed rather than the full range of their potential abilities.

The hon. Gentleman also appears to assume that it is not so necessary to develop technical ability in the full range of children. That is precisely the kind of difficulty that we have got ourselves into. We have tried to divide our children in innumerable ways—by social class, academic ability and so on—and one of the ways is by technical interest for those who will or will not go into industry.

The fact that we have sought to perpetuate those divisions is one of the many reasons that we have failed to be as successful as other countries, which have not been so foolish.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

We had the best educational system in the world.

Miss Jackson

If we had the best system in the world, I am somewhat at a loss to know what the hon. Gentleman is complaining about at Question Time after Question Time.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed argued that if we had a Government who sought to change the Bill as the amendment would permit them, by order or by a constant series of orders, that Government could repeal the Bill. That is a valid argument but it is not for us so to draft legislation as to make it unnecessary actually to repeal a Bill in order to vitiate its basic principle. The object of passing a Bill into law is to ensure that its philosophy and principle are carried into effect, not to introduce

provisions to make it easy simply to by-pass the law and to make a nonsense of it from the beginning.

Therefore, we regret that, on this amendment supported by the Liberal Party, if not perhaps on a later one, we are forced to ask the House to disagree with the Lords.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 306, Noes, 291.

Division No. 380.] AYES 8.58 p.m.
Abse, Leo Davies, Ifor (Gower) Huckfield, Les
Allaun, Frank Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Anderson, Donald Deakins, Eric Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Archer, Peter Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Armstrong, Ernest de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Ashley, Jack Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Hunter, Adam
Ashton, Joe Dempsey, James Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Doig, Peter Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Atkinson, Norman Dormand, J. D. Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Duffy, A. E. P. Jannet, Greville
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dunn, James A. Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Bates, Alf Dunnett, Jack Jeger, Mrs Lena
Bean, R. E. Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Jenkins Hugh (Putney)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Eadie, Alex John, Brynmor
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Edge, Geoff Johnson, James (Hull West)
Bidwell, Sydney Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Johnson, Waller (Derby S)
Bishop, E. S. Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Boardman, H. English, Michael Judd, Frank
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ennals, David Kaufman, Gerald
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Kelley, Richard
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Kilroy-Silk Robert
Bradley, Tom Evans, loan (Aberdare) Kinnock, Neil
Bray, Dr Jeremy Evans, John (Newton) Lambie, David
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lamborn, Harry
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Faulds, Andrew Lamond, James
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Latham Arthur (Paddington)
Buchan, Norman Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Leadbitter, Ted
Buchanan, Richard Flannery, Martin Lee John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Campbell, Ian Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Canavan, Dennis Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)
Cant, R. B. Ford, Ben Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Carmichael, Neil Forrester, John Lipton, Marcus
Carter, Ray Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Litterick, Tom
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Lomas, Kenneth
Cartwright, John Freeson, Reginald Lovden Eddie
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Garrett, John (Norwich S) Luard, Evan
Clemitson, Ivor Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Lyon, Alexander (York)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael George, Bruce Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Cohen, Stanley Gilbert, Dr John Mabon, Dr J. Dickson
Coleman, Donald Ginsburg, David McCartney, Hugh
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Golding, John McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Concannon, J. D. Gould, Bryan McElhone, Frank
Conlan, Bernard Gourley, Harry MacFarquhar, Roderick
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Graham, Ted McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Corbett, Robin Grant, George (Morpeth) MacKenzie, Gregor
Cowans, Harry Grant, John (Islington) C McIntosh, John P
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Grocott, Bruce Maclennan, Robert
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Crawshaw, Richard Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) McNamara, Kevin
Cronin, John Hardy, Peter Madden, Max
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Magee, Bryan
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hart, Rt Hon Judith Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)
Cryer, Bob Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Mahon, Simon
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hatton, Frank Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Heffer, Eric S. Marks, Kenneth
Dalyell, Tam Hooley, Frank Marquand, David
Davidson, Arthur Horam, John Marshall, Dr Edmund (Coole)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Howell, Rt Hon Denis B' ham, Sm H)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Richardson, Miss Jo Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Maynard, Miss Joan Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Meacher, Michael Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Robertson, John (Paisley) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Mendelson, John Robinson, Geoffrey Tierney, Sydney
Mikardo, Ian Roderick, Caerwyn Tinn, James
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Rodgers, George (Chorley) Tomlinson, John
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Tomney, Frank
Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Rooker, J. W. Torney, Tom
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Roper, John Urwin, T. W.
Molloy, William Rose, Paul B. Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Moonman, Eric Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rowlands, Ted Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Ryman, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Sandelson, Neville Walker Terry (Kingswood)
Moyle, Roland Sedgemore, Brian Ward, Michael
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Selby, Harry Watkins, David
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Watkinson, John
Newens, Stanley Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Weetch, Ken
Noble, Mike Shore, Rt Hon Peter Weitzman, David
Oakes, Gordon Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Wellbeloved, James
Ogden, Eric Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) White, James (Pollock)
O'Halloran, Michael Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Whitehead, Phillip
Orbach, Maurice Sillars, James Whitlock, William
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Silverman, Julius Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ovenden, John Skinner, Dennis Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Small, William Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Padley, Walter Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Palmer, Arthur Snape, Peter Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Park, George Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Parker, John Spriggs, Leslie Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Parry, Robert Stallard, A. W. Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Pavitt, Laurie Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Pendry, Tom Stoddart, David Woodall, Alec
Perry, Ernest Stott, Roger Woof, Robert
Phipps, Dr Colin Strang, Gavin Wrigglesworth, Ian
Prentice. Rt Hon Reg Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Young, David (Bolton E)
Prescott, John Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Swain, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, William (Rugby) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Radice, Giles Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Mr. Frank R. White.
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Adley, Robert Clark, William (Croydon S) Fry, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.
Alison, Michael Clegg, Walter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Cockcroft, John Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Arnold, Tom Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Cope, John Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Awdry, Daniel Cordle, John H. Glyn, Dr Alan
Baker, Kenneth Cormack, Patrick Godber, Rt Hon Joseph
Banks, Robert Corrie, John Goodhart, Philip
Beith, A. J. Costain, A. P. Goodhew, Victor
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Goodlad, Alastair
Bennett, Or Reginald (Fareham) Critchley, Julian Gorst, John
Benyon, W. Crouch, David Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)
Berry, Hon Anthony Crowder, F. P. Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Biffen, John Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Biggs-Davison, John Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Gray, Hamish
Blaker, Peter Dodsworth, Geoffrey Grieve, Percy
Body, Richard Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Griffiths, Eldon
Boscawen, Hon Robert Drayson, Burnaby Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Bottomley, Peter du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Grist, Ian
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Dunlop, John Grylls, Michael
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Durant, Tony Hall, Sir John
Bradford, Rev Robert Dykes, Hugh Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Braine, Sir Bernard Eden, fit Hon Sir John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brittan, Leon Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hampson, Dr Keith
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Elliott, Sir William Hannam, John
Brotherton, Michael Emery, Peter Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Eyre, Reginald Hastings, Stephen
Bryan, Sir Paul Fairbairn, Nicholas Havers, Sir Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Fairgrieve, Russell Hawkins, Paul
Buck, Antony Farr, John Hayhoe, Barney
Budgen, Nick Fell, Anthony Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bulmer, Esmond Finsberg, Geoffrey Heseltine, Michael
Burden, F. A. Fisher, Sir Nigel Hicks, Robert
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Higgins, Terence L.
Carlisle, Mark Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hodgson, Robin
Carson, John Fookes, Miss Janet Holland, Philip
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Forman, Nigel Hooson, Emlyn
Channon, Paul Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Hordern, Peter
Churchill, W. S. Fox, Marcus Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Howell, David (Guildford)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Miscampbell, Norman Scott-Hopkins, James
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Moate, Roger Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Hunt, John (Bromley) Molyneaux, James Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hurd, Douglas Monro, Hector Shepherd, Colin
Hutchison, Michael Clark Montgomery, Fergus Shersby, Michael
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Moore, John (Croydon C) Silvester, Fred
James, David More, Jasper (Ludlow) Sims, Roger
Jenkin, Rt Hon P.(Wanst'd & W'dfd) Morgan, Geraint Sinclair, Sir George
Jessel, Toby Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Skeet, T. H. H.
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Speed, Keith
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Spence, John
Jopling, Michael Mudd, David Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Neave, Airey Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Nelson, Anthony Sproat, lain
Kershaw, Anthony Neubert, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Kilfedder, James Newton, Tony Stanley, John
Kimball, Marcus Normanton, Tom Steel, David (Roxburgh)
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Nott, John Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Onslow, Cranley Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Kirk, Sir Peter Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Stokes, John
Kitson, Sir Timothy Osborn, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Knight, Mrs Jill Page, John (Harrow West) Tapsell. Peter
Knox, David Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Lamont, Norman Page, Richard (Workington) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Lane, David Paisley, Rev Ian Tebbit Norman
Langford-Holt, Sir John Pardoe, John Temple-Morris, Peter
Latham, Michael (Melton) Parkinson, Cecil Thatcher, Rt Ron Margaret
Lawrence, Ivan Partie, Geoffrey Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Lawson, Nigel Penhaligon, David Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Le Marchant, Spencer Percival, Ian Townsend, Cyril D.
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Peyton, Rt Hon John Trotter, Neville
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch Tugendhat, Christopher
Lloyd, Ian Price, David (Eastleigh) van Straubenzee, W. R,
Loveridge, John Prior, Rt Hon James Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Luce, Richard Pym, Rt Hon Francis viggers, Peter
McAdden, Sir Stephen Raison, Timothy Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
McCrindle, Robert Rathbone, Tim Wakenham, John
McCusker, H. Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Macfarlane, Neil Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker, Rt Hon p Worcester)
MacGregor, John Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Walker Smith, Rot Hon Sir Derek
Macmillan. Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Wall, Patrick
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walters, Dennis
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Ridley, Hon Nicholas Warren, Kenneth
Madel, David Ridsdale, Julian Weatherill, Bernard
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Rifkind, Malcolm Wells, John
Marten, Neil Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Wiggin, Jerry
Mates, Michael Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Winterton, Nicholas
Mather, Carol Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Maude, Angus Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoakes) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Ross, Shephen (Isle of Wight) Younger, Hon George
Mawby, Ray Ross, William (Londonderry)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mayhew, Patrick Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Mr. Clement Freud and
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sainsbury, Tim Mr. Cyril Smith.
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Mills, Peter Scott, Nicholas

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords Amendment: No. 4, in page 1, line 21, at end insert:

"; or (c) the provision of education in any school where the arrangements for the admission of pupils are based partly on selection to ensure the most effective use of qualified teachers of mathematics".

Miss Margaret Jackson

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Amendment No. 4 is in some ways rather strange. It would enable a local education authority virtually to retain its selection procedure on the grounds that it was an effective use of mathematics teachers. I recognise that the amendment contains some slight qualification of the word "partly" in terms of selection, but this does not affect the contention that this would allow an authority to retain selection procedures. Selection has rarely, if ever, been wholly on the basis of mathematical ability. Such considerations have been based on geographical area, age and sex, and these matters have already been discussed.

Everybody agrees that mathematics is a vital part of the school curriculum. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has expressed concern about standards of numeracy and about the shortage of people skilled in mathematical concepts at all levels of the economy. We recognise that there is a persistent shortage of such teachers, and this has been the situation over a period of years. But we are anxious not to exaggerate the problem out of all recognition or out of correlation with the facts. Secondly we want to pursue the right measure to solve the problem rather than just any measures that happen to come to light.

Not all in the area of mathematics teaching is gloom and despondency. The number of maths "A" level passes rose from 37,000 in 1964 to 47,000 in 1974—an increase of over a quarter in a period of 10 years.

Secondly, and most importantly, we are seeking to take the correct measures to deal with this situation. For many years we have asked teacher training colleges to give priority to the admission of teachers who want to train to teach maths. We have continued the exemption from training of mathematics and science graduates who wish to teach in secondary schools. At present we are considering whether we can retrain teachers in this time of teacher surplus and can provide additional specialised teachers in maths among other subjects in which there are shortages.

However, I doubt whether the course proposed in the amendment would assist us. We have always argued that comprehensive schools may specialise in certain areas, and that if such specialities occur, it is a sensible, useful and practical use of resources for a set of schools to co-operate with each other in such specialities. But co-operation in this way is quite a different matter from reinstituting selection. In so far as the amendment means what it says—namely, that we should be seeking to use mathematics teachers effectively—obviously we all support that view, but we question whether the amendment will have the desired effect.

There is another matter that concerns me, apart from the general issue of the reintroduction of selection. The amendment implies that all that is needed is co-operation. But, as the Prime Minister has emphasised, we need skilled and trained people in mathematics at all levels. We do not simply need the brilliant child; we also need children with particular expertise, skills and interests in maths to have a good sound grounding in the subject and to be taught by the best teachers. If the assumption is that we should concentrate on the few talented children, what would happen to the rest?

This amendment falls into the same trap. If there are not many resources and if such resources as we have are difficult to supplement, what one does if one follows the sentiments of the amendment is to concentrate on the few and to cease to worry too much about the generality of pupils. This is a mistake that has been made in the past, and I am sorry to say that it appears that the Opposition seems determined to perpetuate that mistake from generation to generation.

My Labour colleagues and I oppose that concept, as we always have, and on those grounds I ask the House to disagree with the amendment.

9.15 p.m.

Dr. Hampson

This evening we have seen an interesting development in Government tactics in dealing with the Opposition on education. They no longer insist that Conservatives oppose comprehensive education. At long last we have persuaded them to accept that we do not oppose the principle. They now spend their time questioning our motives and intentions and casting doubt on what we intend. They are always suggesting that we have ideas in mind that are the thin end of some privileged wedge. The Minister returned to that argument at the end of her contribution. At every stage of the Bill that is the one argument that they have put forward, and they have used it for getting rid of the amendment.

If resources are limited, it may be right to concentrate them in certain areas. That is not because we believe in a certain privileged group that we want to push forward but because it is of importance for the generality and of significance for the generations to come. If we do not get the right skills in mathematics and if the people who have those skills do not enter the teacher training colleges, we shall not in turn get decent mathematics teachers in the schools to deal with the average child, the child from the sort of background about which the Secretary of State has spoken.

My right hon. and hon. Friends accept full well that the deprived background, economically and culturally, of many children detracts from their education prospects. However, the right hon. Lady must recognise that that background affects comprehensive schools in many of our cities, for example, just as much as it did the secondary modern schools. The comprehensive schools are just as lacking in challenge and in the abler range of courses as were the secondary modern schools.

We cannot label something as comprehensive and assume that all is well. Indeed, what is this definition "comprehensive"? We need to challenge the Government on whether there is such a thing. They make the bland assumption, as we have heard from the Secretary of State, that there can be the whole ability range within a comprehensive school and that such a school will have the right range of courses to meet requirements. I question whether either of those qualities is present in schools in many areas of our cities. Where a neighbourhood comprehensive school genuinely has all social groups and all ability groups within it, does it in turn have the means of providing a wide range of courses for the children?

The right hon. Lady has admitted herself that there are not enough trained mathematics teachers. There is the same shortage in a whole range of other subjects—for example, chemistry and physics.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that much depends upon the catchment area? If we do not get the catchment areas right, what the hon. Gentleman says is correct. If a neighbourhood school's catchment area is concentrated in a slum area, the environment will be against the youngsters getting an opportunity. However, if the catchment areas are balanced, that problem can be overcome.

Dr. Hampson

The hon. Gentleman has underlined the point that I was making. I was saying that we should not assume, having moved into a so-called comprehensive system with 75 per cent. of children going to such schools, that the problems have disappeared about which we heard earlier from the right hon. Lady about the pre-comprehensive days, when pupils were separated into what have been regarded as sink schools. The fact is that they will not disappear. Unfortunately, in the bulk of the system we have neighbourhood comprehensive schools that reflect the problem of their environment.

I return to the point at which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) interrupted me. We know that resources are limited. We know that by 1980 the standing of the education service in the pecking order of Government spending will have fallen from what it was under the previous Conservative Government, ranking fourth in the order of 14 categories, to third from the bottom of 14. If that is the case, it will not be possible for all our schools to have the requisite number of skilled mathematicians or even those with a degree in maths. That will apply to languages and a whole range of other subjects. That is the point that was put so ably by the spokesman for the Liberal Party.

Many Members of the Opposition have said that the schools de facto will probably have to specialise. Indeed, the Minister recognised that herself. In Committee the then Minister of State acknowledged that. It seems that the Government are in an illogical position when they recognise that specialisms will have to occur. The Minister said that cooperation between schools will have to occur, but Ministers deny the further logic that it is necessary in maths or in languages, but particularly maths, to test or assess, whatever word we use, the children who go into schools where specialisms exist.

First, one needs to know how far into a subject like mathematics a child is. A school which has qualified staff in mathematics may well be in a good part of town. The school may have a good reputation and be looked up to by parents, a good many of whom will want to opt for it not because of its mathematics but for general reasons. It would be wrong to allow such a school to be put under such pressure of numbers when the key is mathematics. Therefore, one may have to select people for the provision for mathematics that the school is offering. But the Government will not accept the logic of that position. They deny all talk of selection at all stages in the secondary system.

Miss Margaret Jackson

It is possible to argue that there may necessarily be some specialisation in a subject such as computer science, for example, or in high level maths, but the hon. Gentleman is arguing that it does not matter if most of our children do not learn mathematics at all.

Dr. Hampson

That is a distortion of the argument. We know that there is a problem with mathematics at two levels. The evidence is overwhelming. It is staggering that the Government are doing nothing about it. We have the example of Professor Bonnor, who resigned from the governing body of a London comprehensive school in disgust because, in many cases, the children were not having their maths right through their academic career but were opting out in the third or fourth year. The Mathematical Association has highlighted the problems for employers when taking on youngsters who do not have the basic maths and skills.

Last year, the former Secretary of State for Education and Science launched a so-called strong attack on mathematical illiteracy. He said that to be innumerate was a great disadvantage to the sheer business of living. He is right. In Staffordshire, for example, it was found that children in the fourth year could not do simple multiplication. In a London comprehensive school, it was found that only eight children out of 240 could actually subtract simple decimal sums. There was the recent crisis enquiry in Liverpool.

The fact is that we have a great crisis in mathematics in our schools, and it is time that the Government recognised it. Yet the Government dismiss our repeated demands for a Bullock-type inquiry into this matter—one of the questions being, for example, how one gets the best motivation of children in mathematical subjects. But the Government repeatedly pooh-pooh the whole notion of crisis. The Secretary of State says that inquiries take a long time, but if her predecessor had acted last year, the inquiry would have been half finished by now. We might even have had an interim report. Let us accept that there is this crisis at basic level.

The Under-Secretary of State is wrong to detract from what the amendment is about. She claims that we are concerned only with the brilliant child. Not at all. When Lord Eccles introduced the amendment in another place, it was phrased in terms whereby local authorities would have to have provision for basic skills in maths. The hon. Lady is right to say that, apart from that level of the problem, there is the problem of the child with mathematical talent. But if we are not careful, the neighbourhood comprehensive school will not find the challenging intellectual environment in which these potential skills are brought on.

The same applies to other subjects. Indeed, some subjects are disappearing out of some secondary schools because there is not the challenging environment to draw on students to keep up the numbers in the sixth forms, and because we have not the specialised teachers who can make use of these subjects in the schools.

It was shown by a study, from Reading, of 100 people in teacher training colleges, who are intended to become primary school teachers, that less than half of them could turn 7/16ths into a decimal. These were people in training colleges.

Frankly, it is a sham on the part of the Minister and naive of her to point to the statistics and to say that the numbers of those doing A-level mathematics are going up. The Minister ought to know that the number of people going into colleges of education with A-level mathematics has been falling off. It is an unprecedently low point, and the decline has been going on since 1971.

As the study from Reading points out, we are getting into a teaching-learning cycle. There are not enough schools able to challenge people and to draw them on mathematically, therefore the training colleges are not getting people with adequate qualifications in mathematics.

At one of my own colleges the lecturers say that the people who will be teaching mathematics can themselves barely reach CSE fourth grade. They do not have the real motive to learn or the necessary interest in mathematics, even if they have some qualifications. The cycle goes on, for when they come into schools as teachers they in turn are unable to stimulate and motivate their own pupils.

Our resources in mathematics, therefore, are precious, and there is a limit now on the number of mathematics teachers. This has been recognised by the Secretary of State, in that it is not necessary now for graduates with mathematics to be trained as teachers. They can go straight from universities into schools as teachers of mathematics.

Where we have quality in the teachers, let us concentrate on those particular schools and try to save something out of this difficult situation, so that pupils who show potential in mathematics can be transferred to a school with a good mathematics department. That is the essence of it.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will my hon. Friend agree that the Government, in proceeding in this way, are acting totally contrary to the Prime Minister's speech—[Interruption.]—at Oxford—[Interruption.]—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)

Order. How many discussions or debates are going on in this Chamber? Mr. Winterton.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was trying to ask my hon. Friend whether he will confirm that in his view the Government, in proceeding as they are, in fact, are acting totally contrary to the Prime Minister's message in his excellent speech at Oxford. Inevitably, there are not enough sufficiently qualified and motivated mathematics teachers to teach applied and advanced mathematics in every comprehensive school, and that is tantamount to saying that in fact in many comprehensive schools there will not be the proper quality of mathematics teaching. That is the whole point of the amendment.

Dr. Hampson

If I may sum that up, the basic point is that innumerate teachers will produce innumerate pupils. As the Prime Minister quite rightly said, there is concern about the standards of numeracy of school leavers. Is there not a case for a professional review of the mathematics needed by industry at different levels? Nevertheless, the Government still turn down our request for an inquiry. The position is so serious now that 11 professors of mechanical engineering at the northern universities have shown the same sort of concern. They have said that there is a key relationship between the mathematics taken at school and the performance in engineering. In other words, if mathematics is not properly taught, there will not be much chance of attract- ing people into engineering-based and technology-based courses.

This is a matter of fundamental significance, as the professors point out in their memorandum, of which I believe the Secretary of State has a copy. They point out that the engineering departments have had to introduce remedial teaching for the increasing number of teachers who are not sufficiently well prepared in sixth form mathematics, and who lack skill in manipulation.

In this situation, when we know that the schools will not have sufficient teachers of mathematics of the necessary standard, we must at least ensure that those pupils with any aptitude go to the schools where decent standards are available.

The amendment, therefore, is only common sense. It is not asking all local authorities to set up special mathematics schools. It is not exclusive. It does not say that other subjects shall not be taught. It is seeking to use to the best advantage the few resources available in this very important area.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) protests too much. He must have a very weak case. When I spoke in an earlier debate, I remarked that the Opposition had retreated to a new prepared position. But all their positions are crumbling away.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble) left the Chamber a short time ago. As he left, he made the wry comment "We are now going through exactly the same amendments that we dealt with during all those long weary hours in Committee". How right he was.

As the head of a school, many years ago, I remember the days when the 11-plus was rampant. The desire in those days was to specialise at the age of 5. A teacher would look at a child in the infants' section of a school, and say "Grammar material". The 11-plus was ever-present. It gloomed over us all, children and teachers alike.

Opposition Members know how they had their crammers in which education as we know it did not go on. In them, they specialised only in the 11-plus which consisted of an intelligence test, arithmetic and a test in English. That was all that was crammed into their pupils. General education was excluded simply to provide pupils with an advantage in the forthcoming 11-plus—[HON. MEMBERS: "What was wrong with that?"] In asking me that, Opposition Members show that they have not changed. In 1976, when we debate comprehensive education, they ask what is wrong with that, thereby betraying their belief in specialisation.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton rose—

Mr. Flannery

No. I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I want to develop my theme. I am warming to the theme.

Opposition Members know little or nothing about comprehensive education. When I made a similar claim just now, one of them replied that he had gone to a comprehensive school at the age of 11. Following that, I took the trouble to look at his autobiography. I discovered that he was born in 1944. I do not know where the comprehensive school was in 1955. But he went to Westminster School. If that is comprehensive, the hon. Gentleman has a lesson or two to teach me.

It would be interesting if there were more products of comprehensive education on the Opposition Benches. In that way, the Opposition would know what ordinary children go through when they are learning. By ordinary children, I mean those who have not had access to private schools, which Opposition Members enjoyed because of the length of their parents' purses all that time ago.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

The hon. Gentleman has spoken about cramming. Does he believe that children going from primary to secondary school should be able to read and write and to deal properly with arithmetic?

Mr. Flannery

Of course, I do. I think that that is what is happening.

A campaign has been unleashed by the Conservative Party and by the media which its members own. This is the reality. Since the Black Papers came out, there has been unleashed by the Conservative Party a full-scale attempt to overthrow comprehensive education, and it is failing despite all its newspapers. That assault, begun by the Black Papers, is culminating in this attack on the Bill tonight. But, like previous attacks, it is being defeated. No amount of exaggeration about the problems that we face in education can destroy the fact that each day many thousands of people come to believe that the comprehensive system is a compassionate and good form of education—much better than anything we have had in the past. No matter what the Conservatives say, the results are profoundly better than they have ever been.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

Does my hon. Friend agree that often when comprehensive education is introduced there is a great campaign against it but, in fact, after it has become a reality in the area concerned, the people inevitably accept it and welcome the change? There is never any call for a return to the selective system.

Mr. Flannery

My hon. Friend is correct, and Conservatives know it. Time and time again in Committee the Conservatives have pretended to embrace comprehensive education and have paid tribute to it. They have done this repeatedly, despite the type of speech by the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). He nakedly unleashed an attack which was in headlong collision with comprehensive education. Immediately, on his Front Bench there were some rustlings in order to prove that they really believe in it. However, every amendment they moved in Committee and every amendment introduced by their friends in another place was a direct attack on comprehensive education.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I am deeply indebted to the hon. Member for giving way. Earlier he referred to buying education by the length of purses. The common experience of many hon. Members is that when comprehensive education is in operation, wealthy parents will buy their way into good schools in an area, as has been the case for more than 20 years in the United States. It is beginning to happen in this country as well. It is those with short purses who will suffer.

Mr. Flannery

That is a real problem, and in time we shall get around to it.

Mr. Bryan Davies

Does my hon. Friend agree that the one thing that Opposition Members will be unlikely to be able to purchase in the private sector, however long their purses may be, is a specialist school in mathematics from the age of 11?

Mr. Flannery

Yes, and Conservatives know that that is correct. These amendments, which call for specialisation from 11, are another loophole which they are attempting to create in the system. This amendment, like the previous one, will fail, and very soon we shall all troop into the Lobby to help that process along.

Mr. Cormack

When listening to the endearing eccentricities of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) I always think that our loss is the children's gain. He talks the most splendid load of rubbish that we ever hear in this Chamber.

I am astonished that the Minister, who brings grace, charm, discernment and, I should hope, a little distinction to her job, should be seeking, with her colleagues, to deny children the advantage that most of them have. Most hon. Members on the Government Benches went to selective schools and had the benefit of a highly-geared education in particular subjects. Yet they now attempt to steamroller through something for which there is no popular support—the suppression of excellence in education.

The Bill, the last throes of a pitiful Government, seeks to negate excellence in education. Labour Members talk about Socialism being the language of priorities. If it were, it would be seeking to give every child, irrespective of social background, the opportunity to have the very best education in every subject, whether it be dancing, music or mathematics.

I cannot understand why this Government, who have made more mathematical mistakes in a shorter time than any other Government in history—one thinks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's 8.4 per cent. inflation forecast—

Mr. Heffer

He went to grammar school; that is the trouble.

Mr. Cormack

I cannot understand this Government seeking to prevent the cultivation of a subject on which the future of our country depends.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) always makes a distinctive contribution to our proceedings. He is widely read and I am sure that he is highly numerate. I hope that he will take the Chancellor of the Exchequer on one side and teach him a few home truths. Indeed, I believe that the hon. Gentleman has tried to do that. If he had succeeded, my party would now be the Government.

It is astounding that the Government should be seeking to prevent a proper appreciation of mathematics. This country depends on our young people being given the best possible education and on their aptitudes and abilities being cultivated as much as possible.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham and Heston)

Why, then, is the hon. Gentleman standing in the way of that?

Mr. Cormack

This country does not depend on antipodean interjections from a sedentary position by the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr)—the poor man's Gough Whitlam; it depends on a proper recognition of the importance of our children.

The House of Lords has looked at this shabby, shoddy, third-rate, disreputable Bill and tried to bring a little sense to it. It has taken this particularly important section and asked why, if the Government are prepared to recognise the necessity of encouraging aptitude in music and dancing, they should not encourage an aptitude for mathematics in the same way.

For the Government to say that mathematics is of no consequence and that it must take second place to ballet, the flute, the Jew's harp and the rest is a positive disservice to our children. If I were conducting an orchestra, I could not have a better Fred Karno's army in the band than the hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government side. The wind section is well represented and the second riddles are present. There is, however, a total absence of excellence and quality.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I suggest that we now come back to disagreeing or agreeing with the Lords.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Cormack

I am gently rebuked by you, Mr. Speaker, as every hon. Member is from time to time, with your wit, wisdom, eloquence and knowledge of what has made this country great through its educational system. [Interruption.] The humming by the hon. Member for Felt-ham and Heston demonstrates that his knowledge of rhythm is second only to his knowledge of excellence in any other sphere.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Thank you.

Mr. Kenneth Lomas (Huddersfield, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have three children. May I ask how many children the hon. Member for Staffordshire. South-West (Mr. Cormack) has?

Mr. Speaker

Order. However interested the hon. Gentleman may be, that is not a point of order.

Mr. Cormack

It is a very good cue, Mr. Speaker. I have two children. I do not know how productive the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Lomas) has been in his career. Perhaps he has three or four children.

Mr. Lomas

I said that I have three children.

Mr. Cormack

I am concerned about the education that my children will have. I am concerned about their future. Labour Members need not think that all Opposition Members have been educated through the power of the purse, as the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough put it. Many of us are dependent upon the excellence of the State system. Many of us believe in the State system. Many of us wish our children to be educated within the State system.

My two children are attending a State school. But, as they go from the primary to the secondary school, I am appalled when I think of the narrowness of the way in which specialisation will be divorced from their secondary education and the way in which special aptitudes may not be encouraged. I want my children, whether their special aptitudes or abilities lie in mathematics, English, or in languages, to be given a chance to flourish and to achieve their full potential so that they can make a proper contribution to the future of this country. My fear is that, in a comprehensive school, they will not get that opportunity and that there will be a lowering to the lowest common denominator.

I have taught in State schools and have seen what can be achieved. One does not need to pay vast sums of money to achieve a good standard of education. I do not approach any of these subjects from a narrow partisan point of view. Yet I grieve that the Labour Party, which has contributed greatly to our educational system and almost all of whose leaders have benefited from the State system, is now seeking, in a spurious pursuit of pseudo-equality, to deny to children of the future what its members have gained in the past. I consider this to be an almost treacherous action which should be totally deplored by this House.

I believe that their Lordships are to be warmly congratulated on what they have done in trying to introduce an element of common sense, propriety and equality into the Bill. I believe that this amendment should stand. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House who have a true appreciation of proper priorities will support it.

Mr. Gerry Fowler

I regret to say that for part of his career the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) pursued genuine equality by teaching in the only public school in my constituency—The Wrekin. I am glad that it is the only public school there. What the hon. Gentleman learned about a genuine pursuit of equality at that school escapes my comprehension.

I am a great admirer of the wit, liberalism, compassion, charm and eloquence of the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson). Indeed, I have infuriated the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) on more than one occasion by boosting the claims of his rival. But I have never suggested that the hon. Member for Ripon had any claim to logic. Therefore, I was disturbed to hear him make such play with that word tonight. The whole basis of his argument was utterly spurious. The hon. Gentleman argued that too many of our children were innumerate because too many of our teachers were innumerate and that it was therefore essential that we accepted the amendment to concentrate teaching talents for mathematics upon those with high mathematical abilities.

The whole basis of the argument was that most teachers going into the colleges—and the hon. Gentleman produced so-called evidence for this proposition—have no higher-mathematics ability. He was not really arguing for selection on that basis at all, but he was arguing that those who show a high general ability or aptitude should be selected for special schools where they can experience a concentration of teaching talent including that specialising in mathematics.

If he denies that, his use of teachers as an example gives him away. He accepts that there will not be a separation at the age of 18 of those entering teaching and those entering other forms of education. That we cannot separate the education of teachers from other forms of higher education is now widely accepted on a bipartisan basis. He was arguing that to ensure that we have more numerate teachers we must have general selection by general ability at the age of 11. He says that we must identify at 11 those who are likely to go on to higher education.

I also represent a rural constituency. The hon. Member for Ripon talked at length about the problems of urban areas, how one can concentrate teaching talent in specific disciplines in particular schools and how one can select children at 11 in specific disciplines. How on earth does one do that in my constituency or in his? He knows it cannot be done. He has said that he did not mean selection at 11 but at 13. I do not care whether it is at 11 or 13. The basic difficulty remains. I agree that it is possible to identify in the course of teaching—not by an examination at any given age—those whose ability in a particular discipline is such that they must be married with the right teaching where possible. It is possible to have transfers between schools within a totally non-selective system. We do not cavil at that but we cavil totally at the theory that there should be general selection at 11 merely in order, as the hon. Member for Ripon said, to ensure that mathematics teaching talent is utilised to the full and to ensure that the 11-plus examination survives in another form despite the express will of the House.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

We are bitterly disappointed at the extraordinary negative attitude of the Under-Secretary of State to this reasonable and important amendment. I do not often slip into cricketing metaphors, but for me a sobriquet Stonewall Jackson has been given another dimension.

In taking this adamantine attitude to the Opposition's proposals, the hon. Lady is out of step with both her own Prime Minister and her own Secretary of State. In that important speech at Oxford on 18th October, the Prime Minister drew attention to the desperate crisis we are facing in mathematics. It is a crisis which is hitting industry because of a shortage not of skilled mathematicians but of ordinary technicians able to play a part in industry.

It was the Secretary of State herself who said in that interview by The Guardian that doing almost anything was better than doing nothing. That is quite a different attitude from that displayed by the Under-Secretary, who said that it was most important to investigate everything to find out what the right action should be. She never specified what the correct measures were.

The Government's attitude to the amendment sums up the whole weakness of their present stance in education. They are calling for a national debate on education which we on this side of the House have been conducting for three years. The Prime Minister is making suggestions which we made months and years ago. Twelve months ago I called for an inquiry into mathematics. What we need now is implementation of the Prime Minister's words, deeds to give effectiveness to sentiments with which we agree.

In this minor but important amendment we have a concrete suggestion for putting right what has gone wrong with mathematics in our schools. We must see the amendment in the general context of Opposition policy, which is to seek the reintroduction of national standards of literacy and numeracy. That is vital. Within that context the amendment, which is modestly worded, makes very good sense. It says that arrangements should be made for the admission of pupils … based partly on selection to ensure the most effective use of qualified teachers of mathematics". Those words were carefully chosen by my noble Friend Lord Eccles. The Under-Secretary interpreted them as meaning that we were concerned only with gifted children. That is not so. We are concerned with gifted children, particularly in an area where there is only a comprehensive school of a not very high quality. What is important is that the gifted child should have an opportunity to develop elsewhere the talent that he or she has. We are also concerned about those who have fallen behind in mathematics because they have been inadequately taught. They should have remedial teaching. We are concerned with both groups of children, not one to the exclusion of the other.

As my noble Friend stressed, the weakness in mathematics is a weakness in primary schools. We are suffering from an abandonment of the teaching of elementary mathematics in many primary schools, for the simple reason that there are not enough good mathematics teachers, or any mathematics teachers, to undertake that task. That cannot be put right overnight. The way to build up a supply of good teachers is by stressing the importance of O-levels and A-levels in the secondary schools to produce for the future the teachers of mathematics

who can go into the primary schools and build mathematics education up again from the foundations.

That is a reasonable contribution to the debate. We are saying that that is in the national interest, which I take it is what the Prime Minister was saying. We have a crisis in mathematics in our schools, and it is essential to put the matter right. It is essential to have a certain number of schools which specialise in mathematics. We are grateful that the Prime Minister has recognised the crisis, but he is not prepared to do anything about it. The Opposition have not only recognised the crisis but are prepared to suggest action by which it can be ended. We have put forward in the amendment a concrete solution. That is the difference between the two sides of the House. We are putting ideas into practice, and therefore we shall vote for the amendment.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 320, Noes 282.

Division No. 381.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Cocks, Rt Hon Michael English, Michael
Allaun, Frank Cohen, Stanley Ennals, David
Anderson, Donald Coleman, Donald Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)
Archer, Peter Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)
Armstrong, Ernest Concannon, J. D. Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Ashley, Jack Conlan, Bernard Evans, John (Newton)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Atkinson, Norman Corbet, Robin Faulds, Andrew
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cowans, Harry Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Barrett, Guy (Greenwich) Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Flannery, Martin
Bates, Alf Crawshaw, Richard Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)
Bean, R. E. Cronin, John Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Beith, A. J. Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Ford, Ben
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Cryer, Bob Forrester, John
Bidwell, Sydney Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Bishop, E. S. Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dalyell, Tam Freeson, Reginald
Boardman, H. Davidson, Arthur Freud, Clement
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Davies, Ifor (Gower) George, Bruce
Bradley, Tom Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Gilbert, Dr John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Deakins, Eric Ginsburg, David
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Golding, John
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Gould, Bryan
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Gourlay, Harry
Buchan, Norman Dempsey, James Graham, Ted
Buchanan, Richard Doig, Peter Grant, George (Morpeth)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Dormand, J. D. Grant John (Islington C)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Campbell, Ian Duffy, A. E. P. Grocott, Bruce
Canavan, Dennis Dunn, James A. Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Cant, R. B. Dunnett, Jack Hamilton W. W. (Central Fife)
Carmichael, Neil Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Hardy Peter
Carter, Ray Eadie, Alex Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Edge, Geoff Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Cartwright, John Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Hatton, Frank
Clemitson, Ivor Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Heffer, Eric S.
Hooley, Frank Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Hooson, Emlyn Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Horam, John Maynard, Miss Joan Sillars, James
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Meacher, Michael Silverman, Julius
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Skinner, Dennis
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Mendelson, John Small, William
Huckfield, Les Mikardo, Ian Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Snape, Peter
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Spearing, Nigel
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Spriggs, Leslie
Hunter, Adam Molloy, William Stallard, A. W.
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Moonman, Eric Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Stoddart, David
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Stott, Roger
Janner, Greville Moyle, Roland Strang, Gavin
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Jeger, Mrs Lena Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Newens, Stanley Swain, Thomas
John, Brynmor Noble, Mike Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Johnson, James (Hull West) Oakes, Gordon Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Ogden, Eric Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) O'Halloran, Michael Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Orbach, Maurice Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Judd, Frank Ovenden, John Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Kaufman, Gerald Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Tierney, Sydney
Kelley, Richard Padley, Walter Tinn, James
Kerr, Russell Palmer, Arthur Tomlinson, John
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Pardoe, John Tomney, Frank
Kinnock, Neil Park, George Torney, Tom
Lambie, David Parker, John Urwin, T. W.
Lamborn, Harry Parry, Robert Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Lamond, James Pavitt, Laurie Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Pendry, Tom Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Leadbitter, Ted Penhaligon, David Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Lee, John Perry, Ernest Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Phipps, Dr Colin Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Lever, Rt Hon Harold Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Ward, Michael
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Prescott, John Watkins, David
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Price, C. (Lewisham W) Watkinson, John
Lipton, Marcus Price, William (Rugby) Weetch, Ken
Litterick, Tom Radice. Giles Weitzman, David
Lomas, Kenneth Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Wellbeloved, James
Loyden, Eddie Richardson, Miss Jo White, Frank R. (Bury)
Luard, Evan Roberts, Albert (Normanton) White, James (Pollock)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Whitehead, Phillip
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Robertson, John (Paisley) Whitlock, William
Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Robinson, Geoffrey Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
McCartney, Hugh Roderick, Caerwyn Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Rodgers, George (Chorley) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
McElhone, Frank Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
MacFarquhar. Roderick Rooker, J. W. Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
McGuire. Michael (Ince) Roper, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
MacKenzie. Gregor Rose, Paul B. Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Mackintosh, John P. Ross, Shephen (Isle of Wight) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Maclennan, Robert Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Wise, Mrs Audrey
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Rowlands. Ted Woodall, Alec
McNamara, Kevin Ryman, John Woof, Robert
Madden, Max Sandelson, Neville Wrigglesworth, Ian
Magee. Bryan Sedgemore,, Brian Young, David (Bolton E)
Maguire. Frank (Fermanagh) Selby, Harry
Mahon, Simon Shaw. Arnold (Ilford South) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Sheldon. Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne) Mr, Joseph Harper and
Marks, Kenneth Shore, Rt Hon Peter Mr. Joseph Ashton.
Marquand, David Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)
Adley, Robert Boscawen, Hon Robert Carlisle, Mark
Aitken, Jonathan Bottomley, Peter Carson, John
Alison, Michael Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Channon, Paul
Arnold, Tom Bradford, Rev Robert Churchill, W. S.
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Braine, Sir Bernard Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)
Awdry, Daniel Brittan, Leon Clark, William (Croydon S)
Baker, Kenneth Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Banks, Robert Brotherton. Michael Clegg, Walter
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Cockcroft, John
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Bryan, Sir Paul Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)
Benyon, W. Buchanan-Smith, Alick Cope, John
Berry, Hon Anthony Buck, Antony Cordle, John H.
Biffen, John Budgen, Nick Cormack, Patrick
Biggs-Davison, John Bulmer, Esmond Costain, A. P.
Blaker, Peter Burden, F. A. Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)
Body, Richard Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Critchley, Julian
Crouch, David Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Crowder, F. P. Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Prior, Rt Hon James
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Jopling, Michael Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Raison, Timothy
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Kaberry, Sir Donald Rathbone, Tim
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Drayson, Burnaby Kershaw, Anthony Rees-Davies, W. R.
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kilfedder, James Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Dunlop, John Kimball, Marcus Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Durant, Tony King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Dykes, Hugh King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Kirk, Sir Peter Ridsdale, Julian
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kitson, Sir Timothy Rifkind, Malcolm
Elliott, Sir William Knight, Mrs Jill Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Emery, Peter Knox, David Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Eyre, Reginald Lamont, Norman Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lane, David Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Fairgrieve, Russell Langford-Holt, Sir John Ross, William (Londonderry)
Farr, John Latham, Michael (Melton) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fell, Anthony Lawrence, Ivan Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Finsberg, Geoffrey Lawson, Nigel Royle, Sir Anthony
Fisher, Sir Nigel Le Marchant, Spencer Sainsbury, Tim
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lloyd. Ian Scott, Nicholas
Fookes, Miss Janet Loveridge, John Scott-Hopkins, James
Forman, Nigel Luce, Richard Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) McAdden, Sir Stephen Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Fox, Marcus McCrindle, Robert Shelton, William (Streatham)
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) McCusker, H. Shepherd, Colin
Fry, Peter Macfarlane, Neil Shersby, Michael
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. MacGregor, John Silvester, Fred
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sims, Roger
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) McNair-Wilson. M. (Newbury) Sinclair, Sir George
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Skeet, T. H. H.
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Madel, David Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Glyn, Dr Alan Marshall. Michael (Arundel) Speed, Keith
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Marten, Neil Spence, John
Goodhart, Philip Males, Michael Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Goodhew, Victor Mather, Carol Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Goodlad, Alastair Maude, Angus Sproat, Iain
Gorst, John Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Stanbrook, Ivor
Gow. Ian (Eastbourne) Mawby, Ray Stanley, John
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mayhew. Patrick Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Gray, Hamish Meyer, Sir Anthony Stokes, John
Grieve, Percy Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Stradling Thomas, J.
Griffiths, Eldon Mills, Peter Tapsell, Peter
Grist, Ian Miscampbell, Norman Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Grylls, Michael Mitchell. David (Basingstoke) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Hall, Sir John Moate, Roger Tebbit, Norman
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Molyneaux, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Monro. Hector Thatcher, Rt Ron Margaret
Hampson, Dr Keith Montgomery, Fergus Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon s)
Hannam, John Moore, John (Croydon C) Townsend, Cyril D.
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss More, Jasper (Ludlow) Trotter, Neville
Hastings. Stephen Morgan, Geraint Tugendhat, Christopher
Havers, Sir Michael Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hawkins, Paul Morris. Michael (Northampton S) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Hayhoe, Barney Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Viggere, Peter
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Wakeham, John
Heseltine, Michael Mudd, David Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Hicks, Robert Neave, Airey Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Higgins, Terence L. Nelson, Anthony Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Hodgson, Robin Neubert, Michael Wall, Patrick
Holland, Philip Newton, Tony Walters, Dennis
Hordern, Peter Normanton, Tom Warren, Kenneth
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Nott, John Weatherill, Bernard
Howell, David (Guildford) Onslow, Cranley Wells, John
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Oppenheim. Mrs Sally Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Hunt, David (Wirral) Osborn, John Wiggin, Jerry
Hunt, John (Bromley) Page, John (Harrow West) Winterton, Nicholas
Hurd, Douglas Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Hutchison, Michael dark Page, Richard (Workington) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Paisley, Rev Ian Younger, Hon George
James, David Parkinson, Cecil
Jenkin, Rt Hon P.(Wanst'd & W'df'd) Pattie, Geoffrey TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jessel, Toby Percival, Ian Mr. John Corrie and
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Peyton, Rt Hon John Mr. James Lester.
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch

Question accordingly agreed to.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

It now being six hours after the commencement of the proceedings, it is my duty under the Order which the House made yesterday to deal with the remaining amendments. First, I must designate such of the remaining Lords amendments as appear to me to involve questions of Privilege. There is only one such amendment, namely Lords Amendment No. 11. I now call the Minister formally to move in succession any motions to disagree with the remaining Lords amendments.

Lords Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 disagreed to.

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