HC Deb 29 October 1980 vol 991 cc625-59 10.15 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Mark Carlisle)

I beg to move, That the draft Education (Assisted Places) Regulations 1980, which were laid before this House on 21st July, be approved. These regulations provide the administrative framework of the assisted places scheme that was provided for in section 17(6) of the Education Act 1980. This is not the time to debate the principle of that scheme, which was debated at length during the passage of that Act. All I will say now about the principle of the scheme is that it is not for the benefit of the schools or the teachers, or even the parents. It is, first and foremost, a scheme for the benefit of the children, and our aim in establishing it is to extend the education opportunities open to children who could benefit from the academic atmosphere of some of those schools—particularly the independent day grammar schools—but whose parents cannot afford to pay the fees.

This is the opportunity for the House to have the debate that we promised at Bill to examine in detail the regulations the time of the passage of the Education that I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales propose to use for the purpose of the assisted places scheme.

Planning for the scheme, which is, of course, provisional and subject to the approval by both Houses of these draft regulations, is well advanced and progressing satisfactorily. Out of the 470 schools in England that originally indicated an interest in the scheme, we have now invited 218 to join this scheme from 1981 and to sign, subject to the passing of the regulations, the necessary participation agreements. These schools will be offering, in total, about 5,500 assisted places each year, of which about 900 will be for direct entry at sixth form level.

The detailed figures are still subject to final agreement with the schools concerned, but of those 5,500 we expect 2,400 places to be in boys' schools, 2,150 in girls' schools and 950 in mixed schools.

Therefore, the balance between boys' schools and girls' schools and places for boys and girls within the scheme reflects the balance between boys' schools and girls' schools in the independent sector as a whole. The geographical distribution of the schools and the places shows a balance in favour of the North-West. Avon and the South-East. To some extent this reflects the pattern of the old direct grant schools system, and almost two-thirds of the assisted places will be provided in former direct grant schools. Also, 117 out of the 121 direct grant schools that went independent after the removal of the direct grant system by the previous Government have applied and have been invited to join the scheme. The balance between the various areas reflects the distribution of independent schools throughout the country.

The House will remember from the discussions on the Education Bill 1980 that the assisted places scheme will operate through two main instruments. First, every school will have its own participation agreement with the Secretary of State, which will set out the detailed arrangements as to numbers of places and other matters that are applicable to that school's participation in the scheme. Secondly, there will be a body of regulations under section 17 which, except where the regulations provide for exceptions, will apply to all schools in the scheme.

Section 17 of the Act sets out clearly the matters that the regulations are to cover. Briefly, there are four areas. They deal with the conditions of eligibility for selection for an assisted place; the arrangements for the remission of fees and the reimbursement of schools for the fees that they remit; the conditions relating to the selection and admission of pupils to the schools, the charging of fees, the keeping of accounts and the providing of necessary information; and any other matters that the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

In accordance with section 17 of the Act I have consulted, as I am required to do, the representatives of the schools involved before putting forward these regulations for approval by the House. As this is a short debate, I want briefly to describe some of the main provisions in the regulations, although if hon. Members on either side of the House wish to raise any detailed queries, if I catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and am allowed, with the consent of the House, to do so, I shall attempt to deal with such detailed questions at the end of the debate.

Part I of the regulations deals largely with matters of definition and interpretation. Part II deals with matters of eligibility and selection for the scheme.

Regulation 5, which is important, provides that to be selected for an assisted place a child must either have reached the age of 11 or be of such an age that he will reach it within his first year at the school. In addition, it provides that a child may be admitted to an assisted place only at a normal age of entry to the school. Where exceptions to this rule are permitted—such as the cases of those who may have moved home to another part of the country—pupils will be eligible for assisted places only if they are of such an age that they could have been admitted to an assisted place at a normal age of entry after the school joined the scheme. In other words, the scheme is aimed at meeting those joining the schools after September next year and does not provide for those who are already pupils at those schools.

Regulation 6 lays down the further conditions that apply to the selection of pupils for assisted places at sixth-form level. Here we have provided that any transfer into the sixth form of an independent school from a State school at the age of 16 will normally take place only with the consent of the local education authority. We have done that to meet the fear expressed by some of those involved that the scheme otherwise might denude some schools at sixth-form level.

Independent schools can contribute much to minority subjects, which cannot always be offered in the sixth form of maintained schools. That is one of the potentially fruitful areas for co-operation between the maintained and independent sector, and is particularly true at a time when falling numbers at schools of all kinds are bound to affect the viability of individual sixth forms. I hope that authorities will use wisely the discretion and additional opportunities that they are given for co-operation through the assisted places scheme. It is at no cost to themselves.

It is axiomatic of any scheme that leaves the right to the local education authority to say "Yes" that it is bound equally to offer the right to say "No". Clearly, local education authorities will consider applications for a child to move to independent schools at 16 on the basis of what is best for that child and the opportunities that exist in the maintained and independent sector in the area.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

I am disturbed to hear what my right hon. and learned Friend says. By implication, he appears to be saying that in the maintained sector, in grammar schools for children aged 16, it is not possible to provide the quality of education that he is hoping will be found in the private sector. Am I wrong?

Mr. Carlisle

With great respect, my hon. Friend is utterly wrong. The opportunity to move to a sixth form at 16, from one sector to another, is important. With falling numbers, individual schools in an area may not be able to be viable in all subjects. One purpose of providing for the movement but making it subject to the local education authority's approval is to meet the complaint that there may be a movement out that could make certain sixth forms not viable. Authorities will be able to consider individual cases on their merits. I hope that local education authorities will always take into account whether there is availability in the maintained schools for a mixture of A-level subjects that the child wants to take but not deny the opportunity to move on an assisted place to an independent school if that school is able to provide the mix of subjects that the comprehensive school cannot.

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

Does the Minister envisage a part-time movement in and out of the private sector at sixth-form level in order to study particular subjects? Secondly, what will he do to those local education authorities that will not permit pupils from maintained schools to move into the private sector? Thirdly, how will he enforce any penalties that he envisages? If he can quickly answer those questions it will save time later.

Mr. Carlisle

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman says that it will save time later. We are limited to an hour and a half. It does not matter at what stage the time is taken up.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether I envisaged people moving part-time from one school to another. That has nothing to do with the independent sector scheme. I have advanced the view in various speeches that there should be greater cooperation at sixth-form level between the independent and maintained sector to ensure adequate coverage of all subjects to the advantage of all children.

I said that it was axiomatic that in giving local education authorities discretion they had the power to say "No", but if certain authorities decide, as a matter of policy, to say "No" in any event, irrespective of the availability in the maintained sector of a course that a child wants to follow and when the course is available in an independent school in the area, I might have to consider amendments in that light.

Mr. Kinnock

What does that mean?

Mr. Carlisle

It means what I said. I have taken no reserve powers, but if local education authorities choose, irrespective of the educational merit of individual children, to take a blanket decision to refuse to allow children to move, even though the authorities are unable to provide opportunities in the subjects that the children wish to study but which are available through an assisted place at an independent school in the area, I may have to consider taking reserve powers.

Regulation 7 provides that a pupil shall not be eligible for an assisted place unless he will qualify for fees remission on the fee remission scale in the first assisted year. All pupils who hold assisted places will, therefore, be from families who qualify for assistance under the fee remission scale. However, regulation 5 provides that when the financial situation of parents with a child at a school changes substantially for the worse after the child has been entered for the school they will be eligible for assistance at that stage, though that is subject to the child's being of the age that he or she could have entered the scheme at 11.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

On this point, there has been considerable disquiet about the powers of scrutiny of the administrative staff of each school, which sometimes consists of a single untrained clerk, particularly when it is known that even the Inland Revenue gets it wrong £20 million either way and cannot properly investigate the Vesteys, and so on. What statutory powers will administrative staffs have if they are unhappy about the declaration of income made by parents?

Mr. Carlisle

What I like about the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) is that he rises saying "On this point" and asks a question on another point. which I have not yet reached in my speech. The running of the scheme is left, basically, to the integrity of the schools involved. There is a final power, if the scheme is being abused, to remove the school from the scheme or, if the abuse is the provision of wilfully false information by parents, to withdraw an assisted place given to the child concerned or any other child of the family.

On the point raised by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West, regulation 8 lays the basic responsibility for selecting pupils on the schools. I very much hope that in assessing the needs and abilities of children who apply for assisted places those schools will have the co-operation of maintained schools in their area and of the staff of those schools. But I am sure that in the end the judgment about whether a child can benefit from the education offered at a particular school is best made, and can only be made, by that school after the fullest possible consultation with those who have been involved in the child's education.

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

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman throw some light on the dilemma expressed by the headmaster who asked "If I have 90 children for 40 places, which do I admit—the 40 cleverest or the 40 poorest?"

Mr. Carlisle

That must be a matter for the school to decide.

Mr. Beith


Mr. Carlisle

There is no other way. The direct-grant schools were well used to dealing with this problem in the past. It is a fair issue—one with which I tried to deal when I addressed the head teachers of the schools involved. It may face the schools at various times. They will have to pool their experience as to the best way of assessing the individual merits of the individual child and the individual needs of the parents. Only they, by examination and by interview, are in a position to decide those who, in their view, would benefit most from the advantages of the scheme.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Does the Secretary of State visualise that the inspectorate will play any role in the examination of the school—a kind of 11-plus? In Committee we envisaged that another 1,000 inspectors would be necessary. That would be very costly. I said then that we should need a vast number of inspectors to look at individual cases, and I wondered how much that would cost.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman should remember that his own party removed the inspectorate's power to give a certificate of recognition of efficiency to independent schools. Clearly, any school in the scheme must be registered as an independent school. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have had the advice of the inspectorate as to the appropriateness and the standard of the schools that have been accepted into the scheme. We have been very careful in scrutinising the high academic standards that we have set.

Part III deals with the arrangements for the remission of fees. I shall not deal with this at length because the basic proposals were brought to the attention of the House earlier in answers that I gave in June to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Thornton). However, there are one or two points that I should like to mention.

First, eligibility for fee remission in a particular school year is determined by reference to the relevant income in the preceding financial year. Secondly, relevant income, which really is gross income other than with child benefit, includes income of both parents, as defined in the schedule, together with any unearned income that may go to any of the dependent children.

Thirdly, where full information relating to income for the immediately preceding year is not readily available, the regulations allow a remission to be calculated on the basis of an estimate of income.

The income scales and the means test are designed to be generous to the less well-off, so that the families at the lower end of the scale receive free places or make only modest contributions to fees, while once income starts to rise above the national average family income parents start having to contribute substantially at increasing levels.

For example, in practice families with a relevant income of £4,766 or less would have the whole of the school fee remitted. With an income of £5,500, they would be required to pay about £99 a year, and with £7,500 they would pay £480 a year. Then the scale increases more sharply, ending with those with an income of £11,000, who would have to pay fees in excess of £1,500 before receiving any assistance. The average fee of the schools involved is between £1,100 and £1,200 a year.

We have always made it clear that the scheme is not intended to help people who can afford independent school fees themselves, even if only by making some relatively slight additional sacrifice. We have to ensure that parents in the lower and middle income groups, who could not possibly afford independent school fees, receive sufficient assistance to make taking up a place a genuine possibility.

Although it is not directly relevant to these regulations, hon. Members may wish to know that I also intend, under another section of the Bill, to lay regulations to provide help with incidental expenses for assisted place holders. The help will come out of the resources made available for the scheme. The regulations will deal with the cost of school meals, uniforms and transport. They will ensure that pupils holding assisted places are in a similar position to children who attend maintained schools. Thus, able children from less well-off families will not be deterred through extra costs. I shall lay the regulations before the House in due course.

The other parts of the regulations deal with the administrative arrangements and miscellaneous requirements applicable to the scheme. Regulation 18 provides for the publication of information by schools about the scheme and about themselves. It provides that independent schools that participate shall, as we promised during the Bill's passage, be required to publish such information about themselves and their examination results as may be required for maintained schools.

Regulation 19 provides that not less than 60 per cent. of assisted place holders shall be drawn from publicly maintained schools. Because the income scale is strict, we expect that a far higher proportion of assisted place holders will come from such schools. The 60 per cent. figure is above the earlier 50 per cent. proposal.

I have attempted to draw the attention of the House to some of the major features of the regulations. I am confident that they will provide the necessary framework for the operation of the scheme. I commend them. I underline the fact that the regulations are not to be confused with the scheme itself. They exist for the purpose of the scheme and will be kept under review to ensure that they meet those purposes. For its success, the scheme will depend upon the schools participating in it. It is a scheme of additional assistance and help for children. It is children's education that matters and it is that which the House debates tonight. It is that at which the regulations are aimed.

10.44 pm
Mr. Neil Kinnock (Bedwellty)

The regulations start to put some flesh on the bones of section 17 of the Education Act 1980. It has been apparent since the first publication of the scheme in a draft document back in July 1979—and it is now categorically obvious—that whilst other aspects of education policy and Government policy generally, including unemployment, housing, social security and health cuts, are heartily opposed, this aspect of the Government's policy is widely despised. It is despised unanimously by the teachers' unions. It is despised by the National Union of Teachers, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Secondary Heads Association, the Society of Education Officers and even by the Association of Professional Teachers so beloved to the heart of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery). Even the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, at its annual conference a short time ago, resolved that it would oppose the scheme. One of the vice-presidents, in one of the conference's most effective and important speeches, said that it was completely inappropriate while State education was being cut. He went on to say that it could be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in State education. That is the finding of a teachers' union that has a legendary reputation for being non-partisan—even anti-partisan—and moderate and modest in all its representations.

When the Government are the subject of attacks from such people they should heed the opinion of the education world. They should heed their own Back Benchers who have had the, courage throughout the debates to stand up for the maintained system and to say, as the AMMA did, that this scheme is nothing other than a declaration by the man who is responsible for the education of 95 per cent. of the children of this country—the children in the maintained system—that that system is second-rate. If that were not so, the right hon. and learned Gentleman could not conceivably have sought to introduce the scheme on the basis that we now see.

Tory councillors have attacked the scheme for the way in which it will deprive their local schools, of which they are justifiably proud, of resources and talent, for the way in which it will divide our education system even further. Even the schools have indicated to the Government precisely what they think of the scheme. At the beginning of this year the Government circulated 1,100 schools in the private sector. The Government call them independent schools. I choose to call them schools that sell education as a business. That is a more precise definition of schools that live in a supportive environment, that already receive substantial sums of public money, and that will receive even more now through the assisted places scheme. Independent they hardly are. I call them private schools, and of the 1,100 that were circulated by the Government 470 indicated an interest over an extended period, with an extended deadline. Of those, 218 were deemed to be fit to participate. That in itself says a great deal about the kind of scheme that it is and the attitude that a substantial part of the private sector has towards the jeopardy into which the scheme puts it by the divisiveness that is implicit in its nature.

At the outset of our debates on the scheme we accused the Government of introducing an arrangement that would rob the public purse in order to support the already affluent. We accused the Government then of encouraging the poaching of talent from the maintained system so that the tinpot educationalists who support the Tory Party could substantiate their claim of the superiority of the private sector and the inferiority and inadequacy of the maintained sector. They will be able to do that because the brightest children will be recruited to the private sector and will strengthen its academic results. There is nothing in what the Minister said tonight, in the shower of press releases issued by the Under-Secretary—especially in the past three or four weeks—to soften the market, or in the statutory instrument to refute any of the charges that we, the teachers' unions, parents and members of local education authorities have made. The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that to be an accurate statement.

What of that robbery of the public purse? We now discover, as a consequence of a statement published on 6 October, that the financial assistance for the scheme provided for in the statutory instrument will be available for day or tuition fees on a sliding scale. The statement says: Under the scheme no assistance will be available for boarding fees. If parents wish their child to be a boarder some schools which offer assisted places may themselves be willing to offer help with boarding fees. Could it be the case that parents are able to take advantage of the assisted places scheme as a means to subsidise expenditure that they would have to find to meet boarding fees? If that is not the case, why talk of day or tuition fees? Why not make it explicit that there is no possibility of any of the subscriptions being used either to gain access to boarding schools so that parents can be assisted from the funds of the schools themselves, or that parents can find the boarding fees with the help of the State, even to a modest extent, with the assisted places scheme.

On the question of helping the bright children of poor families, the Secretary of State mentioned the supplementary instrument that he will lay before us. He went into some detail both today and on 18 October as to what that would mean. I do not wish to make extensive reference to that, because I look forward to a further debate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks of school transport subsidies being made available in direct contrast to everything that he protested before his defeat in March concerning the maintained system. He speaks of school uniform allowances, but he should remember that because of his cuts special allowances for school uniform are being obliterated in LEAs throughout Britain. Most grotesque of all, he talks about the possibility of free and half-price schools meals for assisted places children. I must remind him that because of the consequences of the changes in section 22 of the 1980 Act a widow with a total income of £44 a week, including child benefit for two children, is disqualified from family income supplement and supplementary benefit and is not able to claim free school meals. If that widow has any foresight she will ensure that she spawns academic geniuses, who can go to assisted places schools and receive free school meals——

Mr. Mark Carlisle: No.

Mr. Kinnock

The right hon. and learned Gentleman does not understand his own regulations. A widow on £44 a week with a child on an assisted places scheme would qualify. The scheme provides for a basic threshold of £91 per week—£4,600 a year. I thought that the Secretary of State was proud of that.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman should not make bad points. The provision in assisted places schools for free meals, from which the hon. Gentleman quickly moved to make another point, is identical to that in the maintained scheme. Free school meals are limited to those either on family income supplement or supplementary benefit.

Mr. Kinnock

I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman took up that point. I wonder whether the free school meals in an assisted places school in Dorset or elsewhere will be a segregated cold package, so that the child can be easily identified, or has the right hon. and learned Gentleman discarded all his fine libertarian feelings about the stigmatisation of children in receipt of free meals?

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, East)


Mr. Kinnock

What the hon. Member for Thanet, East (Mr. Aitken) knows about the maintained school system could be written on the back of a postage stamp with a paint spray. The assisted places scheme was not conceived as, and will not be implemented as, a means to assist the bright children of poor homes. It will help those already seeking private school places. It will assist them at the margin.

If that were not the case, and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were really seeking the recruitment of poor children to these schemes in schools which, by his own admission, charge an average day fee of £1,100 to £1,200 a year, he would be looking for a budget this year not of £3 million but of more than £6 million—possibly even as high as £7 million. Therefore, on the basis of the money that he has set aside out of the rest of the education budget—because he was talking absolute nonsense when he gave the impression last year that he had found a new hitherto undiscovered bucket of finance for the purpose of the assisted places scheme—he knows very well that it will not help poor children. In order to do so, he would either have to provide for half the number of kids or find twice as much money as he has been able to get. He knows very well that there is no prospect of those poor, full remission children being assisted under this scheme.

What we have instead is the pirating of scholastic talent from the maintained sector. Indeed, the Minister's own document, in keeping with the publication of this instrument, demonstrates that more conclusively than any of the other charges and challenges ever could. We need only look at the geographical scatter of the schools to be included in the scheme—Newcastle-upon-Tyne, five schools; Liverpool, six schools; just over the Mersey, in the Wirral, three schools; in Chester—one town—two schools; in Wakefield, two schools; in Worcester, two schools; in Cambridge, four schools; in Bristol, which is a kind of epicentre of this fallout, nine schools; and in neighbouring Bath, four schools. There will be four schools in Bedford, eight schools in South-East London, and four schools in North-West London.

Therefore, the challenge that we made in Committee which the Under-Secretary totally, failed to rebut was that the location of the assisted place schools would mean that in particular areas the academic groupings and pupils in the maintained sector—which is so valuable, if only to offset Tory propaganda and demonstrate the academic success of the maintained sector—would be robbed simply because of the concentration of the kind of schools that could expect to be included in the assisted places scheme. That is coming to pass.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman will have to make a great apology to the education system in this country for reducing the effectivenes of the sixth forms in those areas. In answer to a question posed by one of my hon. Friends, he said that the viability of sixth forms was threatened by falling school rolls, and that one of the motivations of the assisted places scheme was to help out by cooperation at 16-plus. What a peculiar way to help out! Here we have the problem of falling school rolls, a reduction in the number of sixth forms and a threat to the viability to the sixth forms. With the roaring flames of falling rolls leaping up, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman come along with water, extra resources, teacher retraining, new equipment, or new resources for that school, the adoption of the federation system, or with encouragement for tertiary colleges? No, he comes along with a system that pirates that very talent from those sixth forms and transfers it into the private sector. That is the opposite of what he should be doing. Instead of pouring on that water of relief he is trying to put out the fire with more petrol.

Mr. Martin Stevens (Fulham)

Amid the pyrotechnics with which the hon. Gentleman is favouring us, is he not aware that for every child on an assisted place in a sixth form there are at present dozens from what we call the independent schools moving into the sixth forms in the maintained system, which is producing the kind of cross-fertilisation that many of us desire?

Mr. Kinnock

We have moved from pyrotechnics to cross-fertilisation. I wish that the debate was six hours long. It would become even more interesting. I thought that instead of saying pyrotechnics the hon. Gentleman said polytechnics. I expected the Under-Secretary to fall off his chair at the mere mention of those revolutionary institutions.

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens) has not grasped the point. I hope that that is my fault, because 1 can put him right, but it may be the fault of the Secretary of State, because he does not understand the consequences either.

The Under-Secretary of State mentioned The Guardian. I refer him to an interesting letter in The Guardian yesterday concerning the assisted places scheme. A lady from Grundisburgh, Suffolk, wrote about the effect of the scheme on the sixth form. She said: These developments at Farlingaye resulted largely from a close fought campaign by local parents in 1978, insisting that the education committee establish sixth form provision. Previously A-level students had to transfer from Farlingaye to Woodbridge school and no provision was made for other sixth-form programmes. The sixth form opened in September 1980 with 52 students, of whom 23 are doing A-levels. It is evident that if the 25 brightest are lost, then the academic curriculum of the sixth form is lost and, with it, the growing academic status of the school and the widened educational experience offered to all the youngsters in the area. That is an important point, because that will be the effect of the concentrated impact of the assisted places scheme. The transfer backwards is extraordinary. People talk about the virility and independence of the private school system. They talk to me about the way in which I am threatening liberty by advocating the abolition of the private school system. But nothing is said about the two-thirds of the children entering private secondary schools who attended maintained primary schools and who, if no provision is made for the sixth form in the private system, will have to transfer back to the maintained system—into tertiary colleges, sixth-form colleges or the sixth form or comprehensive schools. The hon. Member for Fulham does not understand the problem. I recommend that he reads that letter in The Guardian.

I turn specifically to the extension of choice, about which the Under-Secretary of State spoke last week. If the assisted places scheme works in the way in which the Secretary of State wishes it to work—to secure the transfer of children from the maintained system to the private school system—that is not an extension of choice; it is a reduction of choice for the overwhelming majority of people who send their children to maintained schools. If the viability of sixth forms or of academic curricula is threatened by the absence of children, by the transfer of those priceless assets of talent that are implicit in this scheme, that is a reduction of choice, in the same way that the other form of selection—the 11-plus examination—was a reduction of choice for the overwhelming majority of people.

Regulation 8 presumes that "bought is best". The proposition is that the child will be capable of benefiting from the education provided at that school. That is still a "bought is best" presumption. Anyone who sustains that argument is declaring a lack of confidence in the maintained system.

One of the propositions put forward when we first heard of the assisted places scheme back in July 1979 was that it should not result in the distortion of the curriculum—those are not my words but the words of, I believe, Mr. Stewart Sexton, or whoever it was in the Department of Education and Science who wrote it all—of the remainder of the school system, especially the primary schools. But what can happen other than the distortion of that curriculum if primary schools are required specifically to prepare children at 11 or 13 years of age for entry into these schools whose nature is defined in regulation 8 of this instrument? Of course it will distort the curriculum. It will do so in the preparing school and the priming school, and it will do so in the maintained sector by the removal of a substantial chunk of the academically gifted children.

It is not much wonder that the National Association of Head Teachers writes to me to request that I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman a few questions on this point. The association's letter says: Draft regulation 8 makes it clear that it is up to the participating school to select the child, subject to only a very generalised proviso that they must be satisfied that he is capable of benefiting from the education provided at the school. This seems to us to contain a totally inadequate safeguard and to justify much tighter criteria within the regulations themselves. I wonder whether we can see those. The letter continues by saying that the draft of these further regulations is not yet in existence, and that It seems to me absolutely essential that the participating schools in the assisted places scheme should be compelled to publish, at the very minimum, the information which will be required of all maintained schools under section 8 of the Education Act 1980. The fact is that it is not provided for in the Act or in these regulations. Let us hope that it is provided in some other way that the same kind of information in the same circumstances is required of the assisted places scheme schools as of every other school.

Regulation 3 is a most extraordinary provision, especially for a scheme that is supposed to help the children of poor homes. Subsection (2) permits one to book places in the assisted places scheme. It is like putting a name down for Eton. A child does not have to have sat the examination. A school does not have to ascertain whether a child is capable of benefiting. One just gets on with the application.

Of course, there will be advantages to parents who go about matters in that fashion. That is an open end of the scheme—regulation 19. One has to provide 60 per cent. of the places. This scheme must cover that. That means that a minuscule proportion of pupils will come from poor homes. A major proportion might be receiving very small amounts under this scheme, and that would still shove that school into the system because it would still have 60 per cent. of the pupils not on any specified level of support and who, in one form or another, to a greater or lesser degree. were in receipt of a couple of bob under the scheme.

The strange coincidence is that 67 per cent. of the children in the private secondary sector come from the maintained primary sector. That is almost exactly the same percentage as we are talking about in this scheme.

Mr. Beith

Further to the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, perhaps I may ask whether he realises that the Government's present assumption is that a much smaller proportion of poor children than originally thought will take part in the scheme because the amount of assistance has been increased. The Government's clear and stated conclusion, given in answer to questions, is that the number of places will not be reduced by the proportion that the amount of assistance is increased. Therefore, it must mean that taking part will be children of richer parents, taking smaller amounts from the scheme.

Mr. Kinnock

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. Brevity is not only the soul of wit but clearly the soul of Liberalism. The hon. Member has just saved me the need to make my next point. [Interruption.] I realise that the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) does not like it. I shall cross the Chamber and grip his knee if it will cause him even more pleasure.

Regulation 6 concerns sixth forms. I have covered that point to some extent, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not adequately do so. What he has to tell us is what he will be doing with these reserve powers. It is not good enough for him to present these draft regulations, ask the House to support them and turn them into the law of the land, and say "I have not yet really made up my mind what I shall be doing to local education authorities that will not let their kids slip away from the maintained system and go into the private system."

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman do a Heseltine? Will he have reserve powers? Will he have the power to reduce the rate support grant or to impose some other form of penalty? He owes it to the House and to the local councils to spell it out.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

I have already done so. I told the hon. Gentleman that I have taken no reserve powers. I shall see how the scheme works.

Mr. Kinnock

That is a great definition. "What are the reserve powers?"—"I have told the hon. Gentleman. I have not decided what the reserve powers are." That is terriffic. That is marvellous.

Mr. Carlisle

The hon. Gentleman allows his verbosity to carry him away on most occasions. I said quite clearly, and I say it again and specifically to the hon. Gentleman, that I have deliberately taken no reserve powers and that I do not intend to at this stage. I shall see what happens when the scheme develops.

Mr. Kinnock

The accusation of verbosity is preferable to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's vaguely threatening proposition. If our positions are reversed and I ever put to him something equally vague, he, with his nimble lawyer's brain and his searches for precise definitions, will give me a terrible roasting. That will be my fate if I ever give him something so vague, threatening and meaningless.

Will the assisted places scheme replace the local authority provision of purchases in the private sector? If it does, will it be run on the same basis as the "treasure scheme," for instance, which means that only 3 per cent. of the beneficiaries have parents earnings less than £5,000 a year? Will it mean that in Barnet, for example, which is in the constituency of the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister, the public purse will have to provide, through the assisted places scheme, an anticipated £130,000 to send the children of the burghers of Barnet to the private sector when the burghers of Barnet are currently providing only £29,000 for that purpose? We need an answer, because Tory education authorities are gleefully anticipating that they will be able to save rate spending by replacing their pet schemes with the assisted places scheme.

The scheme is universally detested. It does not enjoy support even in the private sector. It has not received a vote of confidence. It has no support. The Under-Secretary of State is fond of preaching against social engineering. In this respect he is guilty, together with his right hon. and learned Friend, of the most malevolent social engineering and the resultant divisions in our school system. We shall get rid of the scheme. We shall terminate it in the first year in which the next Labour Government come to power. We shall take a leaf out of the Government's book and introduce a Bill of great brevity and force that will pass through the House at least as quickly as the rescue of grammar schools Bill of July 1979.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman can save himself some trouble. He can make his gesture tomorrow with the education cuts that he will have to swallow as a dry who is walking around in galoshes. He will save himself trouble if he attends Cabinet tomorrow and says "Here is my contribution of £3 million. It can come with the cancellation of the assisted places scheme." That might lose him a small amount of face, but it would give him some reputation as a man who is at least trying to save our education system.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

Order. I remind the House that the debate comes to an end at 11.45 p.m. Eight right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate in the debate, and I appeal for brevity.

11.14 pm
Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Altrincham and Sale)

I shall be brief, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) made a meal out of this occasion. As you have rightly said, it is a short debate. The hon. Gentleman waxed loud and long, and with great passion. As he did so I began to fear that he might have been nominated as one of the contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party.

I shall deal with the area that I represent—Trafford, and the area of Greater Manchester. Trafford has kept its grammar schools. Boys and girls have traditionally been able to go to the grammar schools, and on to university and to higher academic careers.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

The hon. Gentleman knows that Trafford has one of the lowest proportions of pupils at grammar schools and one of the highest proportions of modern schools that cannot provide the full range of education.

Mr. Montgomery

The hon. Gentleman should do his homework before intervening. I do not wish to criticise comprehensive schools. No doubt there are very good comprehensive schools in the Greater Manchester area. No doubt there are parents who have children at those schools and who are perfectly satisfied with the education that they receive. It is fact, not fiction, that the particularly able and academic child is best catered for in a school that is designed for such children and where young lively minds meet minds of similar ability and aptitude, to the benefit of both.

Mr. Flannery


Mr. Montgomery

I shall not give way, as this is a very short debate. The hon. Member for Bedwellty made a great deal of this issue. One type of school, and one type only, can never meet the needs of all children. Under the old direct grant system, bright children could go to schools in my area, such as Manchester grammar school or the direct grant schools to which the hon. Lady for Bolton, West (Mrs. Taylor) went. The previous Labour Government stopped that. They did not prevent children from wealthy homes from going to such schools. They could go because their parents could affort the fees. They prevented bright and able children, from families with little money, from going to them.

I am delighted that this Government have reopened the assisted places scheme, thus giving able children from less well-off homes—for whom the Labour Party apparently has no regard—the opportunity, which that party would deny them, of going to the top grammar schools in Britain.

I cannot understand the Labour Party's attitude. If we are to believe all we read, the Labour Party has always prided itself on being the party of compassion that cared for the less fortunate sections of the community. This piece of legislation is designed to help those who have little money but who have very bright children. On behalf of those children, I welcome the introduction of the assisted places scheme. This proposal was in the Conservative Party manifesto. We are implementing a party pledge, which was endorsed by a substantial majority in the general election of 1979.

I welcome the introduction of the assisted places scheme and the forthrightness and courage that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has shown in pressing forward with the scheme despite the ill-informed criticism of some and the sheer mischievousness of others. In principle, the scheme has been agreed by the House. Tonight, we are dealing with the details of the regulations so that the scheme can be put into effect. I welcome the brevity of the regulations. My right hon. Friend has attempted to introduce sufficient regulations to ensure the proper use of public money, yet no more than are necessary to ensure a proper flexibility within the scheme, to the benefit of each child.

It has often been said that this scheme is a scheme not to help the independent schools but to help children. These schools do not need help, nor do they need to be bailed out. A tremendous number of people are anxious to get their children into them. The scheme is about children, and the ability to help individual children. That is why I welcome it. One aspect of the regulations worries me. If the scheme is to help children, and if the sole criterion is to help those who could benefit from such education, but whose parents could not afford the full fees, it is wrong to let politics creep into it. Children can take up a place at such schools at the age of 11, or at any other age below that of 16. They need only have the agreement of the parent and the school. A child of 16, who has attended a State school until that age but who believes that his A-level requirements could be better met by his local independent school, can be prevented from taking up that place by the local education authority.

The local education authority can say "No, you cannot go to the independent school with help from the Government's assisted places scheme". The authority does not have to give any reasons for its decision. There is one specific example of this. Wakefield council has already passed a resolution saying that no child from its schools should be allowed to attend the sixth form of Wakefield grammar school or any other school within the assisted places scheme. This shows a total disregard for the needs of the children.

I question the legality of this proposal. Compulsory education in this country ceases at the age of 16, and sixth form work is not compulsory schooling. Therefore, I query the State's right to prevent a child from pursuing his studies at the age of 16 at the school of his choice. Having instituted a national scheme of financial assistance for such pupils, the State has no right to say that if a child has the misfortune to live under a Socialist council he or she cannot have that assistance. I ask the Secretary of State to look particularly at this part of his regulations, because it is nothing more than a sop to the National Union of Teachers. With that one proviso, I wholeheartedly welcome this scheme.

11.21 pm
Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

I find that even the discussion of this scheme at this stage in our educational development is offensive. In fact, it is more offensive than anything that I can remember in a lifetime spent in education.

In the Evening Standard tonight we are told that very severe cuts in education are on the way, on top of those that we have already had. The most important factor in our education system is the morale of the teaching profession. I have never known it to be lower than it is today. When the teachers see the cuts now being imposed and hear the Secretary of State saying that parents should contribute to the cost of books, and so on, they realise what is happening in the State system. for which the Secretary of State is directly responsible. At the same time, we are talking about regulations to enable some children to go into the independent sector. That is a severe blow to the morale of teachers who have a record of moderation and service to their pupils without any political concerns.

I want to put a particular case. I have lived in Durham all my life, grown up there, and served in the education system there. The Pilgrim Trust, sponsored by the then Archbishop of York—the late Archbishop Temple—instituted an inquiry into the effects of long-term unemployment. The trust studied six areas in the United Kingdom, one of them being Crook, in County Durham. Its members came to the place when I was growing up. The trust produced a remarkable report, in which it was pointed out that of the long-term unemployed—most of the people involved had been unemployed for more than five years—no less than 21 per cent. were of above-average intelligence, and another 50 per cent. were of good average intelligence. Some of those men were my contemporaries. At that time in Durham there were no fees for secondary education. Once one had negotiated the 11-plus there were no fees for the various courses available. Many unemployed men were unable to take up their places, although the education was free.

Under this scheme, with all the grants, and so on, and even if the schools are available, children of my constituents will not be able to take up places. For example, to single out one child from a one-parent family of three or four children would mean that, even if the fees were paid, because of the extra expense other children would have to be denied. That is what happened in the 1930s, and that is why people were so bitter.

I represent a constituency in Durham. There is no school in Durham on the list.

There are places in my constituency where the minimum travelling time to the nearest school is 2½ hours. The nearest boarding school on the list is between 75 and 80 miles from places in my constituency.

It is not a coincidence that we are discussing these regulations after a debate on unemployment. Hon. Members on both sides of the House recognise that our society has suffered because of the inequalities in, and the divisive nature of, our education service. The county of Durham prides itself on its public education; but if there is any virtue in the scheme, children in Durham will be denied the opportunity of taking advantage of it.

Mr. Montgomery


Mr. Armstrong

The hon. Gentleman says "Newcastle", but from Wearhead to Newcastle, as he knows, is between 65 and 70 miles. There are no boarding schools in the area. The Royal grammar school, Newcastle, does not take boarders; pupils must travel each day. Therefore, children in my constituency are completely outside this scheme.

I could cite moral, social and educational grounds for opposition to this scheme but in this short debate I do not have the time. Our education service is one of the most divisive in the world, and this scheme perpetuates that divisiveness.

I agree with the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) that this is a manifesto commitment. The Secretary of State knows better than anybody that this is a manifesto commitment. I have noted how carefully the regulations have been drafted. The application of that manifesto commitment means that the injustices and inequalities will continue. I have given evidence of that from the county of Durham. At a time when the Secretary of State's full time concern and responsibility should be directed towards the State system, in which 95 per cent. of our children are educated, he is having to allocate time and resources to children who are already privileged. Many poor children, however clever they may be, will not be able to take advantage of this scheme. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will join me in opposing the regulations.

11.29 pm
Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester)

It was dispiriting to hear the comments of the right hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) and the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock). Their dogmatic detestation of the scheme reflects their fundamental opposition to the independent sector rather than objections to the technicalities of the regulations. They both dwelt at length on the reflections that these regulations place on the maintained sector and suggested that the regulations imply that it is, by its nature, inferior. However, the choice is for parents. It is for them to decide whether to apply for the scheme so that their children may benefit. The scheme is designed for the benefit of pupils and not for the maintenance of cadres of teachers and the existing system.

I welcome the regulations. Against a difficult economic background the Government have kept faith with the electoral support that they have for this and other education measures. The scheme once again exemplifies the element of choice—and we should like to see a bigger element—that is being introduced.

This is not uncharted territory. We have had assisted places schemes in the past. One was known as the county award or State scholarship scheme. There are plenty of examples to show that the system works well and provides opportunities for young people that would not otherwise occur.

I shall give an example. There was a young boy who was not particularly bright and who had been to four or five schools before he was 10 years old. His parents were not wealthy, although they were not poor. There was little chance that he would have passed common entrance examination, and he certainly would not have passed the 11-plus. One day his father saw, outside the county council offices, a notice about assisted places. He thought that he would give his son a chance. The boy was accepted for Harrow. He had difficulties when he arrived, socially and academically. He did not know Latin. Term after term he went down in form after form. Eventually he pulled himself together. He ended up as head boy and won a scholarship to Cambridge. Four years later he became an hon. Member of this House, representing Chichester.

I tell that story not out of vanity but to demonstrate that without that assisted places scheme I should not have had many of the opportunities and privileges that I did have. No hon. Member can expect me to bite the hand that fed me. I give a broad and generous welcome to the proposals. I hope that finance will allow them to be expanded in future. I wish them every success.

11.32 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) shares with the Secretary of State and his Ministers the capacity for walking around with his eyes shut and ears closed to the chorus of responsible opinion that is critical of the scheme.

I have no dogmatic objection to the private sector. I defend the right of people, if they choose, to send their children to private schools at their own expense. However, I share with people throughout the education system—and on the Conservative Benches—a detestation of a scheme that is deeply divisive and is an embarrassment to many people in the private sector. Conservative Members should listen to their hon. Friends and to Conservative councillors in areas like mine, who deeply resent the fact that the money that they would like to see applied to improve the State sector is being diverted to this scheme at a time of massive cuts. The Secretary of State should listen to his own hon. Friends or the chairman of the education committee in my county, who is as good a Conservative as he is. Many people deeply resent what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is trying to do under the scheme.

It is nonsense to pretend that the assistance under this scheme is to be carefully directed to the poor. The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) should remember that he is one of the poor under this scheme. His salary in this House entitles him to a measure of assistance if he has two children and wants to apply for an assisted place for one of them. Hon. Members may jocularly suggest that they are underpaid. If they believe that £11,000 is on the poverty line, they should come to my con- stituency to see what people earn. The idea that giving assistance to people with incomes up to £11,000 a year is direct assistance to the poor is ludicrous. It is increasingly apparent from the Government's assumptions of where the take-up of the scheme will fall that much of this assistance will go to families who already intended to send their children to private schools and who will welcome modest assistance from the scheme.

It is outrageous that at a time when facilities for school uniform grants are threatened, when the Government wish to threaten school transport support, when the school meals service is being cut drastically—and, indeed, when eligibility for school meals has been cut so drastically—the beneficiaries of this scheme should get so much more favourable treatment than those attending State schools. It is outrageous that, whereas under the Government's intentions anybody over the family income supplement level will get no assistance with school meals, half-price school meals will be available from that level up to £4,000 a year under the assisted places scheme.

School transport over long distances, uniform grants, and all the other things That the Government are systematically taking away from the child attending a State school, will be given, on a scale hitherto unknown in the case of some of the assistance promised, to those attending private schools. The scheme is a further demonstration of what the Government are trying to do, which is to abandon the attempt to provide the best in the State sector, pick out a few people and give some kind of "Rolls-Royce" assistance and benefit to the private sector.

When one looks at the distribution of the schools in the scheme, one sees that that view is underlined. I am not saying that the Government can control where the best private schools are, but it is a fact that, for example, there is no school in the scheme either in my constituency or within 25 miles of it, but there are five in Newcastle upon Tyne.

When we discussed this in Committee the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson), who is the real enthusiast for the scheme—as you look along the Government Front Bench, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you see declining levels of enthusiasm for the scheme—said quite openly that it was his ambition to try to ensure that where-ever in the country somebody lived he had access to the best academic teaching available to suit his need.

It is obvious that in areas that have no access to this scheme the Government have no intention of ensuring that the best children there can get the help that they need, unless at the same time the Government go to the education authorities of the areas not covered by the scheme and say "We recognise that we cannot provide assisted places for your area, but here is a bit extra to make sure that the sixth forms in your schools can provide that the assisted places scheme provides in other areas". I see no plans for that; no intention to ensure that in many parts of the country where these schools are not available sixth forms are strengthened and aided and that such deficiencies as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be aware of are remedied.

The whole scheme is rightly resented in wide areas of the education system because it is seen as a vote of no confidence in the State system, and as an unwillingness on the part of the Government to put resources into the very parts of the State system where they could help those whom the Government think they want to help—children with no great financial backing but with the academic ability to benefit from the best that teaching can provide.

That can and should come from the State system. This scheme and these regulations, with all the anomalies that have emerged during the debate tonight, are a clear illustration that the Government do not want to provide it in that way, and when they announced further education cuts it will be done against the background of their determination to provide for the smallest imaginable number through the private sector. It is within the State sector that we ought to make this provision for a wide range of children, and the Government are not prepared to do that.

11.38 pm
Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones (Watford)

My right hon. and learned Friend is aware that there are hon. Members on the Government Benches who are not happy about the scheme. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) and others have rightly said that this was a manifesto commitment, and indeed it was. I believe that it is something of a lost opportunity, too, because the regulations to set up the scheme do not contain the sort of broad provisions that could have made the scheme—and can still, I believe, make it—into a real bridge between the private and the maintained sectors.

I want to be as brief as I can because I know that others wish to speak.

I believe that there are two areas where the regulations could be improved without being in any way detrimental to our commitment to the assisted places scheme. First, assisted places should be available to children with special disabilities and handicaps. A girl in my constituency suffers from dwarfism and has the disadvantage that on the classifications for ESN she comes out slightly above the normal level for children who are taken into special schools in Hertfordshire.

On the other hand, it is felt that because of her condition she could probably not cope with a mainstream secondary school education. The Hertfordshire county council, which is forward thinking on such matters, has bent over backwards to try to accommodate the little girl. If an assisted place could be made available for her in, for example, a good private school near Watford run on Rudolf Steiner lines the whole scheme would be much more acceptable to many of us.

The scheme could also be improved through consultations with local education authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale was disturbed about the fact that under the regulations entry into sixth forms involves consultation with local education authorities, but I should like to see such consultation extended to the whole scheme. If we did that, many of those whose opinion on this matter is valuable—including the headmaster of Westminster school; and we cannot afford to ignore such opinion formers—would regard the scheme as a good one which could be used for building a bridge between the two sectors.

I recognise that my right hon. and learned Friend cannot give a commitment tonight, but I ask him to tell us that the regulations are not a closed book and that at some time the scheme could be extended in order to form a bridge between the two systems rather than a platform for the diversive rhetoric of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock).

11.42 pm
Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

I wish to raise the point that I brought out in an intervention during the Secretary of State's speech. If a person fills in falsely an income tax or social security return, or provides false details of his income when applying for a local authority grant, he can be proceeded against at law by the body concerned.

Am I right in assuming from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's answer to my intervention that there is no sanction in criminal law against a false declaration of income by a parent under the scheme? If I am wrong, who is responsible for applying the sanction? If fraud occurs—and the scheme is wide open to fraud, because those in the private schools have no experience of the technical job of administering such a system—who will be responsible for ensuring that public money that has been mis-spent is recovered for the public?

11.44 pm
Mr. Mark Carlisle

I shall try to reply in the minute that remains for the debate. I referred to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) earlier to my power to withdraw the right for anyone to be in the scheme. In the wider context, the position that he outlined would be a question for the criminal law.

My hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) asked about special schools, and we will consider that point. I should tell my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale (Mr. Montgomery) that I have made it clear that if authorities choose to prevent regulations being used in the way that we intend I shall review them.

It was extraordinary that the right hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) and the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), who have both bitterly attacked the scheme and complained that it would damage State schools in their areas, should complain tonight that there were no independent schools available for the children in their areas. I took a note of the hon.

Gentleman's words. He said that they were being denied the opportunity to take part in the scheme, when all the rest of his complaints have been that the existence of the scheme would damage the educational opportunities of all the children in the area. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways, even if he tries to do it in the nicest possible way.

The regulations put flesh on a scheme that I believe will be of assistance to

children. The hon. Gentleman showed a total lack of knowledge of the scheme, its size and its effect in different areas. I believe that it will give independent help to various children, and that will be to the advantage of the country as a whole.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 231.

Division No. 481] AYES 11.45 p.m.
Adley, Robert Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Hooson, Tom
Aitken, Jonathan Dickens, Geoffrey Hordern, Peter
Alexander, Richard Dorrell, Stephen Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)
Alison, Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dover, Denshore Hunt, David (Wirral)
Ancram, Michael du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Arnold, Tom Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Aspinwall, Jack Durant, Tony Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Jessel, Toby
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Egger, Tim Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Elliott, Sir William Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Eyre, Reginald Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fairbairn, Nicholas Kershaw, Anthony
Bell, Sir Ronald Fairgrieve, Russell Kimball, Marcus
Bendall, Vivian Faith, Mrs Sheila King, Rt Hon Tom
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Farr, John Kitson, Sir Timothy
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Fell, Anthony Knight, Mrs Jill
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lamont, Norman
Best, Keith Finsberg, Geoffrey Lang, Ian
Bevan, David Gilroy Fisher, Sir Nigel Langford-Holt, Sir John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Latham. Michael
Biggs-Davison, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lawrence, Ivan
Blackburn, John Fookes, Miss Janet Lawson, Nigel
Blaker, Peter Forman, Nigel Lee, John
Body, Richard Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Marcus Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)
Bowden, Andrew Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Fry, Peter Loveridge, John
Braine, Sir Bernard Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Luce, Richard
Bright, Graham Gardiner, George (Reigate) Lyell, Nicholas
Brinton, Tim Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Macfarlane, Neil
Brittan, Leon Garel-Jones, Tristan MacKay, John (Argyll)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Brooke, Hon Peter Glyn. Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, Michael, (Newbury)
Brotherton, Michael Goodlad, Alastair McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Gorst, John McQuarrie, Albert
Browne, John (Winchester) Gow, Ian Madel, David
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gower, Sir Raymond Major, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Marland, Paul
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Gray, Hamish Marlow, Tony
Buck, Antony Grieve, Percy Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Bulmer, Esmond Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouh N) Mates, Michael
Burden, Sir Frederick Grist, Ian Mather, Carol
Butcher, John Grylls, Michael Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Butler, Hon Adam Gummer, John Selwyn Mawby, Ray
Cadbury, Jocelyn Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm & Ew'll) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Carlisle Kenneth (Lincoln) Hampson, Dr Keith Mayhew, Patrick
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Hannam, John Meyer, Sir Anthony
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Haselhurst, Alan Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)
Channon, Bt Hon Paul Hastings, Stephen Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Chapman, Sydney Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Churchill, W. S. Hawkins, Paul Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hawksley, Warren Moate, Roger
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hayhoe, Barney Monro, Rector
Clegg, Sir Walter Heddle, John Montgomery, Fergus
Colvin, Michael Henderson, Barry Moore, John
Cope, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Morgan, Geraint
Cormack, Patrick Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)
Corrie, John Hill, James Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Costain, Sit Albert Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Murphy, Christopher
Crouch, David Holland, Philip (Carlton) Myles, David
Neale, Gerrard Rossl, Hugh Thompson, Donald
Needham, Richard Rost, Peter Thorne, Nell (Ilford South)
Nelson, Anthony Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Thornton, Malcolm
Neubert, Michael St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Townend, John (Bridlington)
Normanton, Tom Scott, Nicholas Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)
Nott, Rt Hon John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Trippier, David
Onslow, Cranley Shelton, William (Streatham) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Page, John (Harrow, West) Shepherd. Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills) Waddington, David
Page. Rt Hon Sir Graham (Crosby) Shersby, Michael Wakeham, John
Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire) Silvester, Fred Waldegrave, Hon William
Parris, Matthew Sims, Roger Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Skeet, T. H. H. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Patten, John (Oxford) Speed, Keith Wall, Patrick
Pattie, Geoffrey Speller, Tony Walters, Dennis
Pawsey, James Spence, John Ward, John
Percival, Sir Ian Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Warren, Kenneth
Pink, R. Bonner Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Watson, John
Pollock, Alexander Sproat, Iain Wells, John (Maidstone)
Porter, Barry Squire, Robin Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Stainton, Keith Wheeler, John
Prior, Rt Hon James Stanbrook, Ivor Whitney, Raymond
Proctor, K Harvey Stanley, John Wickenden, Keith
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Steen, Anthony Wiggin, Jerry
Raison, Timothy Stevens, Martin Wilkinson, John
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) Winterton, Nicholas
Renton, Tim Stokes, John Wolfson, Mark
Rhodes James, Robert Stradling Thomas, J. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Tapsell, Peter Younger, Rt Hon George
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Rifkind, Malcolm Taylor, Teddy (Southend East) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Tebbit, Norman Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Mr. Anthony Berry.
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)
Abse, Leo Deakins, Eric Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Adams, Allen Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Allaun, Frank Dempsey, James Haynes, Frank
Alton, David Dewar, Donald Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Anderson, Donald Dixon, Donald Heffer, Eric S.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dobson, Frank Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Dormand, Jack Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Douglas, Dick Home Robertson, John
Ashton, Joe Douglas-Mann, Bruce Homewood, William
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Dubs, Alfred Hooley, Frank
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Duffy, A. E. P. Horam, John
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Huckfield, Les
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dunnett, Jack Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)
Beith, A. J. Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Janner, Hon Greville
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Eadie, Alex John, Brynmor
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Eastham, Ken Johnson, James (Hull West)
Bidwell, Sydney Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Johnson, Walter (Derby South)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Bradley, Tom Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)
Bray, Dr Jeremy English, Michael Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Ennals, Rt Hon David Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Evans, John (Newton) Kilfedder, James A.
Buchan, Norman Ewing, Harry Kinnock, Neil
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Faulds, Andrew Lamble, David
Campbell, Ian Field, Frank Lamborn, Harry
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fitch, Alan Leadbitter, Ted
Canavan, Dennis Flannery, Martin Leighton, Ronald
Cant, R. B. Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Carmichael, Neil Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Foot, Rt Hon Michael Litherland, Robert
Cartwright, John Forrester, John Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Foulkes, George Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)
Cocks. Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) McCartney, Hugh
Conlon. Bernard Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cook, Robin F. Garrett, John (Norwich S) McElhone, Frank
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) George, Bruce McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Crowther, J. S. Ginsburg, David McKelvey, William
Cryer, Bob Golding, John MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Cunliffe, Lawrence Gourlay, Harry Maclennan, Robert
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Graham, Ted McNamara, Kevin
Davidson, Arthur Grant, George (Morpeth) McTaggart, Robert
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelll) Grant, John (Islington C) Magee, Bryan
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Marks, Kenneth
Davis, Clinton, (Hackney Central) Hardy, Peter Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechtord) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Marlin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn) Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)
Maxton, John Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)
Maynard, Miss Joan Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Meacher, Michael Rodgers, Rt Hon William Tilley, John
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Rooker, J. W. Torney, Tom
Mikardo, Ian Roper, John Urwin, Rt Hon Tom
Milian, Rt Hon Bruce Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride) Rowlands, Ted Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Ryman, John Walker, Rt Hon Harold (Doncaster)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Sever, John Weetch, Ken
Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw) Sheerman, Barry Wellbeloved, James
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L) Welsh, Michael
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop) White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
Newens, Stanley Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Silkin, Rt Hon S.C. (Dulwich) Whitehead, Phillip
O'Halloran, Michael Silverman, Julius Whitlock, William
O'Neill, Martin Skinner, Dennis Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Snape, Peter Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Palmer, Arthur Soley, Clive Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Parker, John Spearing, Nigel Winnick, David
Parry, Robert Spriggs, Leslie Woodall, Alec
Pavitt, Laurie Stallard, A. W. Woolmer, Kenneth
Pendry, Tom Steel, Rt Hon David Wrigglesworth, Ian
Penhallgon, David Stoddart, David Young, David (Bolton East)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Stott, Roger
Price, Christopher (Lewisham West) Strang, Gavin TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Race, Reg Straw, Jack Mr. George Morton and
Radice, Giles Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Mr. James Tinn.
Richardson, Jo

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the draft Education (Assisted Places) Regulations 1980, which were laid before this House on 21st July, be approved.