HC Deb 22 July 1986 vol 102 cc226-78
Mr. Pawsey

I beg to move amendment No. 153, in page 47, line 20, leave out clause 44.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following: Amendment No. 154, in page 47, line 31, leave out subsection (3).

Amendment No. 155, in page 47, line 32, leave out 'anything done for reasons that include averting' and insert 'the use of such force as is reasonable in the circumstances to avert'. Amendment No. 156, in page 47, line 36, leave out subsection (4).

Amendment No. 157, in page 48, line 6, leave out from `school' to end of line 10.

Amendment No. 158, in page, 48, line 10, at end insert— `(iv) at a day nursery or other provision for children aged under five maintained or assisted by a local authority'. Amendment No. 159, in page 48, line 13, leave out 'by a local education' and insert 'or assisted by a local'. Amendment No. 160, in page 48, line 15, leave out paragraph (c).

Amendment No. 161, in page 48, line 19, leave out subsection (6).

Amendment No. 161, in page 49, line 10, leave out second 'education'.

Amendment No. 163, in page 49, line 12, leave out 'employed by the authority'.

Amendment No. 164, in page 49, line 13, leave out 'employed by the authority'.

Amendment No. 164, in page 49, line 24, leave out Clause 45.

New clause 20—Corporal punishment'Decisions on the principle of the administration of reasonable corporal punishment in a school shall be taken by the head teacher in consultation with the governing body and any organisation of parents of children attending the school.'. Amendment (a) to the proposed new clause, in line 3, at end add 'provided that no such decision is in contradiction of the ruling of the European Court'.

Mr. Pawsey

It might help the House if I outline the events which led to amendment No. 153, in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), being tabled. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, who has done much work on this issue for a considerable time.

In 1982, a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights on corporal punishment in schools said that the philosophical conviction of any parents should be respected. There is, however, no blanket objection to the use of corporal punishment, provided that it is moderate and reasonable. Some local education authorities have banned it using the articles of government of schools. Others have used teachers' contracts of employment. The latter method has yet to be decided on by the courts. I therefore assure the House that, if it votes in favour of the amendment, it would allow governing bodies to decide whether to use corporal punishment. The local education authority would not be able to impose its will on governing bodies using the articles of government.

In an endeavour to clarify the matter, the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill was introduced last year. The House will remember that it was wrecked in another place. The present Education Bill started life in another place and would prohibit the use of corporal punishment. The amendment produced in another place was drafted defectively, so the Government had to redress that problem. Clauses 44 and 45 are the result.

It will be helpful to recall that the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill received a Second Reading in the other place but was wrecked on Report. I am not suggesting that that is unique, but it must be rare.

Amendments Nos. 153 and 165 would delete clauses 44 and 45 and restore the status quo in that it would be possible to use corporal punishment in schools. One of the more worrying aspects of this affair is the way in which the other place has disregarded the will of this elected Chamber. The Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill received a Third Reading in this House without Division. Despite that evident unanimity, the other place overturned the Bill. I am not suggesting that that is unconstitutional and I do not deny the right of unelected Peers to impose their will on what they may describe as the lower Chamber, but this House is truly representative of the British people. It is hon. Members of this House who seek election. The House might therefore agree that wrecking amendments to two Bills to destroy their purpose in a matter which affects almost every family in the land are to be deeply regretted.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I am sure that my hon. Friend does not want to be unfair to the other place. He will recall that, in the Committee on the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill in 1985, on which I served, hon. Members on both sides expressed grave concern about enabling parents to opt out of corporal punishment. There was a strong feeling in the Committee that, if we complied with the convention and the Court, we would have to proceed to complete abolition. It would be wrong to suggest that there was not a substantial body of support for that policy in this place.

Mr. Pawsey

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that genuinely helpful intervention, as he gives me an opportunity to repeat that there was no Division on Third Reading of that Bill.

Thoughtful hon. Members, jealous of this House's powers and traditions, may view the other place's actions with some concern or even trepidation.

One of the Bill's principal aims is the devolution of power and the allocation of responsibility. Amendrnent No. 153 would allow that process to continue in the important area of school discipline. If approved, it would allow local options which reflect the ethos of local society. It would be for the governing body, in the light of discussions with parents and others, to decide whether corporal punishment should be retained.

The Bill provides for an increase in parental representation on governing bodies. It would therefore seem logical that parents should have a considerable say in the discipline of their children. Parents want their children to have an education which is relevant to work. They want their children to obtain worthwhile qualifications. They do not want a casual, sloppy or do-as-youplease attitude in schools. They want discipline in schools. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am grateful to my hon. Friends for that expression of support. I am anxious that schools should decide what is best for them. I do not believe that a blanket decision taken in a council chamber which is miles away in distance and attitude from the school is necessarily right.

The amendment would leave room for the European Court. Its decision would stand, and no child would be caned against the wishes of the parent. Here is a British solution to a European-induced dilemma. Those who dislike what they regard as European interference in the United Kingdom's domestic affairs have here an opportunity to redress matters.

Mr. Marlow

If this House of elected representatives of the British people decided that corporal punishment should be retained, is it not overwhelmingly apparent that the European Court of Human Rights or whatever else it cares to call itself would have no status whatever in the issue, in moral terms at the very least?

6.30 pm
Mr. Pawsey

I hear what my hon. Friend says and I am well aware of his views on Europe, whether on court matters or otherwise. If he is fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will no doubt pursue the case that he wishes to argue.

A teacher acting in loco parentis has the right to act as a moderate and reasonable parent would act. If that moderate and reasonable parent sees fit to use corporal punishment to restrain the child, why should not the caring teacher have a similar right when standing in place of the parent?

Corporal punishment is a matter of considerable importance. Britain has a tradition of corporal punishment in schools. Other nations have their own customs and remedies for school misdemeanours. In France, a child is punished by suspension from school and during that period the social security benefits due in respect of the child are also suspended, so the family can lose a tangible measure of state financial support. The House may feel that when such a remedy is imposed there is no need to cane the child.

Mr. Stuart Bell (Middlesbrough)

Having lived in France for 17 years, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will take it from me that children subject to discipline in French schools do not have social security payments withdrawn. The procedure that the hon. Gentleman describes relates to truancy, and the French embassy confirms that even in those cases it is extremely rarely used. The hon. Gentleman should get his facts right.

Mr. Pawsey

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I note that he does not deny that in France a child may be punished in that way for a misdemeanour. Truancy is a misdemeanour like any other and the hon. Gentleman admits that the child in question may be punished by suspension and withdrawal of social security payments.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

That is a travesty. It is not the child that is being punished but the parents.

Mr. Pawsey

With the utmost respect to my hon. Friend, that makes matters even worse, because the parents suffer for the errors of the child.

In the Soviet Union, a different method is used. The child's misdemeanours are exhibited on the information board in the factory where the father works. That solution, or the remedy adopted by the French, may commend itself to the House, but I very much doubt it.

In the United States, the decision on corporal punishment is made at local level. In Australia and Canada, it is made on a state-by-state basis. In New Zealand and India, corporal punishment is permitted, so it is quite wrong to suppose that the United Kingdom is unique in retaining corporal punishment.

Members who are minded to vote against the amendment should be honest enough to say what they would put in place of corporal punishment to fill the vacuum left by its abolition. In the wake of the European judgment, about 25 per cent. of English authorities have a policy of aboliton and in schools where corporal punishment is available it is infrequently used.

The principal argument for the cane is not its frequent use but its deterrent effect. Only last week, a respected head teacher of a middle school in my constituency told me that he had a cane but that he could not remember when it was last used. He argued that when a child was sent to his room to be punished for a misdemeanour it would be at the back of the child's mind that the cane might be used. A cane in a corner is a powerful deterrent. It does not have to be used for it to be effective. The era of thrashing, beating and whacking is over. The emotive talk of cruelty to children perpetrated by adults is an exaggeration. The cane is a simple aid to discipline in the same way as the blackboard is an aid to learning.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

The hon. Gentleman talks of the cane as a powerful deterrent, but has he seen the photograph in The London Standard showing the marks on a boy punished with a cane? That is a disgraceful state of affairs. Is that the kind of society that the hon. Gentleman wants to encourage? He should look at that photograph and tell the House whether he condones what happened to that boy.

Mr. Pawsey

No one could condone that kind of activity, but hard cases make bad law. It is impossible to legislate for perfection. There will always be exceptions, but there are measures of redress that parents can properly take in the type of situation described by the hon. Gentleman. A teacher in loco parentis should be acting as a reasonable and moderate parent should act. Clear breaches of that principle are obviously wrong and no one could justify them, but that does not damage the basic principle of my argument today.

The amendment would enable the head teacher, together with the governing body, to reach what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State described on 10 June as a suitable arrangement which would recognise the finding of the European Court of Human Rights that the philosophical convictions of any parent should be respected."—[Official Report, 10 June 1986; Vol. 99, c. 186.] As ever, my right hon. Friend summed up the situation in a nutshell.

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Pawsey

If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I will not give way.

If corporal punishment is not available, what will its opponents put in its place? Do they want more suspensions and expulsions? Which does the greater damage to the pupil, exclusion from school or two strokes of the cane on the hand? If detention is thought to be the answer, what is to happen in areas where children depend on the school bus as the only means of transport?

Children require a disciplined environment for learning. Without discipline, there is bullying, time-wasting, vandalism and indifference. Fair and reasonable discipline provides an essential framework for learning.

Conservative Members have a free vote on this. We shall vote according to conscience and belief, but can the same be said for the Opposition?

Mr. Radice


Mr. Pawsey

I understand that there is a three-line Whip for the Opposition. How do Labour Members reconcile that with their new slogan of freedom and fairness? Where is their freedom to vote as their conscience dictates? Where is the fairness? Indeed, where are Labour Members today when the House is discussing a matter of key importance to families throughout the country? We recognise that there is room for honest and genuine disagreement on this. It would be unfortunate for the reputation of this House if Opposition Members were prevented from voting in accordance with their own consciences.

The strength of the amendment is that it will maintain the status quo. It will permit the use of the cane, and I believe that a cane in the corner of a head's study is a positive force for good in schools and that its presence helps teachers in the classroom.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Come off it.

Mr. Pawsey

The hon. Gentleman says, "Come off it," but he was a practising teacher, and he will understand the strength of the point that I have just made.

This Education Bill seeks to improve the quality and standard of education in our state schools, and that is where the majority of our children are educated. My amendment will merely assist and continue that process.

Mr. Radice

I speak against the amendments, which would, if accepted, retain corporal punishment, and in favour of clauses 44 and 45, which abolish corporal punishment in England, Wales and Scotland.

We in the Labour party believe that corporal punishment is barbaric, inhumane, degrading both to the chastiser and chastised, and, by its nature, open to abuse. Anyone who has doubts about whether it is open to abuse should glance at page 5 of The London Standard of tonight, which contains an article about an independent Anglican grammar school. There is also a photograph showing the bruises on a 13-year-old pupil who was given five strokes of the cane by the head of his school for getting low marks in an internal exam.

In my view, that picture says far more than all the statistics, but the statistics are bad enough. There are 200,000 officially recorded instances of corporal punishment each year. Some schools have recorded hundreds of instances each year, and in a few schools the same children receive corporal punishment again and again. Unfortunately, cases of abuse are far too frequent, and they include girls and pupils who are physically and mentally handicapped. The fact is that the use of force —which outside the classroom is defined as battery—is inherently dangerous and open to abuse. It is no wonder that corporal punishment has been abolished in every other European country and that the movement in most advanced countries, except South Africa, is towards abolition.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) said that in the United States and Australia this was a local decision. He forgets that both Australia and the United States are federal countries where education is a state responsibility. Most of the states in America have abolished corporal punishment as have the two largest states in Australia. The hon. Gentleman might have said that before he used his facts.

It is also no wonder that 90 per cent. of Scottish schools do not use corporal punishment and that more than a quarter of English local education authorities have abolished it. I am pleased to say that this morning Wiltshire county council voted to abolish corporal punishment. The vote was 39 to 24. Two Conservatives voted with Labour and Liberal councillors. I hope that rather more Conservatives will vote against corporal punishment tonight.

There is only one respectable argument in favour of corporal punishment — we heard a bit of it, but not much, from the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth — which is that without such a sanction it would be more difficult to maintain order in the school. There is no hard evidence to support that contention, and it certainly does not justify the dangers of abuse that I described earlier. There is no evidence that discipline in European or Scottish schools is inferior to the discipline in English and Welsh schools. Can any hon. Member produce such evidence?

6.45 pm

There is no evidence that discipline in English and Welsh schools where corporal punishment has been abolished is inferior to schools where corporal punishment is still retained. Indeed, such evidence as we have suggests that the use of corporal punishment may be counterproductive. The former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), was fond of quoting the well-known study of London secondary schools entitled "15,000 Hours". That study found that there was a tendency for high levels of corporal punishment to be associated with unruly behaviour. There is similar evidence from Scotland and Wales as well. It is surely significant that no country and no local education authority has reintroduced corporal punishment once having got rid of it.

I understand that the Secretary of State will not speak on the issue tonight. But on Second Reading he made great play of the fact that heads and governing bodies wished to retain corporal punishment. He might also have pointed out that all the teaching bodies are now, in favour of abolition.

Mr. Chris Patten

In a genuine spirit of inquiry, is that now the official position of the Professional Association of Teachers or the NAS/UWT?

Mr. Radice

Yes, the PAT has changed its position, and following the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, the NAS/UWT has now come out in favour of abolition.

Most professional teachers believe that good discipline and order is far better maintained by firm, constructive and purposeful teaching. We all accept that problems and difficulties arise in classes, but a variety of options exist to deal with such disciplinary matters, including reprimands, reports, parental involvement, withdrawal, suspension and exclusion. All are used by local authorities where corporal punishment has been abolished.

Mr. Pawsey

The hon. Gentleman has just referred to exclusions. Is he telling the House that if corporal punishment is abolished we shall see an increase in the number of exclusions?

Mr. Radice

Not necessarily. I have already quoted the evidence from local authorities where corporal punishment has been abolished, and as I pointed out, behaviour is likely to be better.

The truth is—as the experience of other countries and the schools in England, Scotland and Wales show—that corporal punishment is not necessary to maintain discipline or to deal with disciplinary problems.

Some hon. Members may not so far be persuaded by my arguments. Those who remain in favour of corporal punishment must face up to the consequences of the binding decision of the European Court of Human Rights. The Prime Minister has said on many occasions that she believes that Britain ought to obey the European Court. The decision in February 1982 in the Campbell and Cosans case upheld under article 2 the rights of parents who oppose corporal punishment.

As hon. Members will be aware, the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East, introduced in January 1985 his Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill, which attempted to produce a scheme that provided a right of exemption for parents who did not wish their children to suffer corporal punishment.

Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Radice

No. I have given way twice, and many hon. Members wish to speak.

The opt-out scheme, which we voted against on a reasoned amendment on Second Reading, was almost universally condemned as being unworkable. Indeed, the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) condemned it because it would create two classes of discipline in schools. In the end it was destroyed in the House of Lords. When this Bill was introduced in the House of Lords a clause was added which had the effect of abolishing corporal punishment. Its form may not have been perfect and we amended it in Committee to improve it, but the House of Lords decision was wise because it represented the only practical way of complying with the European Court of Human Rights ruling. Theoretically it may be possible to create two classes of schools, but, as the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East pointed out, that would have enormous practical difficulties, especially in rural areas, and would be hugely expensive.

I have to say that the option espoused by the Secretary of State is not a runner. On Second Reading he explained that he wanted to leave the matter to the new governing bodies and to the heads of schools, and that he wanted schools which continue with corporal punishment to agree suitable arrangements for recognising the conviction of parents who are against corporal punishment. That amounts to a much weakened version of the opt-out scheme of the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East.

If arrangements for opting out are introduced in schools, there will be the problem of two classes of discipline which was universally condemned as unworkable earlier. If arrangements are not introduced, it will be a flagrant breach of the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. The Secretary of State has already accepted that because he has said that he will monitor the scheme, and that if it does not work, he will return to the old legal opt-out scheme of the former Secretary of State. Even in its present form there is a strong possibility that the Secretary of State's scheme fails to comply with our obligations under the European Convention in that it does not provide a legal right for parents. Certainly there would be a continuing risk of litigation. Hon. Members should remember that more than 30 cases from the United Kingdom are now pending at Strasbourg.

When the Secretary of State made his first speech to the House on Second Reading of the Education Bill, he put forward what he clearly thought was a clever cop-out, but in reality he refused to accept the logic of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. In doing so he failed to face up to his responsibility both to the House and to the schools of England, Scotland and Wales. This evening we have the opportunity to put the matter right. I urge hon. Members to vote in favour of abolition.

We in the Labour party believe that corporal punishment is barbaric, inhumane and open to abuse, so we shall vote against it. Even if Conservative Members remain in favour of its retention, I urge them to consider the following crucial point: the only practical way to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, to retain a workable, efficient system of discipline, and to avoid the problem of two classes of discipline is to vote for the abolition of corporal punishment and against the retentionist amendments which will produce only muddle, confusion and chaos. The only way to produce a lasting and effective solution is to vote against corporal punishment.

Mr. Graham Bright (Luton, South)

The importance of discipline and order in our schools as a condition for successful teaching and learning is understood by everyone. The fact that there are widely differing views, certainly in the Conservative party, about the principle and practice of corporal punishment is not surprising. It is essential that we resolve this dispute tonight.

I am opposed to corporal punishment in schools, for two main reasons. First, it is wrong in principle for children to be exposed to physical sanctions and pain which would bring criminal proceedings if they were exercised on an adult. We have outlawed corporal punishment in every area, including in the armed services, yet we reserve it for young people. It is absent from adult life, and it is wholly wrong to impose it on the young. Its practice is undoubtedly humiliating to the teacher who imposes it and to the pupil who receives it. The art of teaching lies in gaining the attention and winning the respect of pupils, and the power to inflict pain is fundamentally incompatible with that objective. In the debate we have heard a call for the cane in the corner. It is a symbol of fear and does not in any way produce the sort of environment for education, teaching, or learning.

My second objection is that corporal punishment is not generally effective. It may be a deterrent to some children, but to others it certainly is not. Children from broken or disturbed homes where physical punishment is the rule rather than the exception are taught that problems can be solved by force. All too often that lesson has tragic consequences later in life. Some teenagers relish a record of punishment as a status symbol, and the same name often crops up again and again in punishment books, often for the same offence. That proves conclusively that corporal punishment is not a deterrent.

It is by no means clear where the borderline between reasonable and moderate lies. Beating a child with a stick cannot possibly be considered to be moderate or reasonable. It is violent. All too often teachers step across that borderline, with disastrous results. Indeed, that is clearly illustrated in a picture in this evening's London Standard. Innumerable similar cases can be reported. They are not isolated instances. A youngster of eight had his finger twisted for the rest of his life because of caning. A youngster of 11 had his finger broken because of caning. A youngster of nine had bleeding hands because he was caned merely for bad work and nothing worse. I would not vote in favour of corporal punishment if I thought that one of those instances would happen, let alone the whole list that can he produced.

The problem now is to reach a coherent solution. In Scotland corporal punishment has been officially discouraged since 1968 and pupils on reaching their majority at 16 become exempt, unless they choose otherwise. In England and Wales local education authorities and school governing bodies have been able to determine their schools' policies. It is no accident that in recent years there has been a strong drift towards abolition in line with the rest of Europe. The tendency has increased since the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the philosophical convictions of parents had to be respected.

I do not believe that giving local education authorities and school governing bodies the option to retain or relinquish corporal punishment is a coherent policy. It is a recipe for local particularism. It will lead to neighbouring schools and authorities having entirely different disciplinary sanctions.

7 pm

Mr. Gerald Bowden

I accept that there may be a philosophical reason why parents object to their child being subject to corporal punishment, but will my hon. Friend accept that there are some parents—I am one of them — who would rather their child received a short sharp shock, delivered with a controlled and caring approach, than be expelled from school, with all the disadvantages that flow from that, such as disturbance to family life and all the temptations that come to children when they are no longer in school? Will he accept that as a philosophical conviction?

Mr. Bright

My hon. Friend suggests that it is either thrashing or expulsion. That is nonsense.

Mr. Bowden

Expulsion was offered as a sanction.

Mr. Bright

I am not talking about expulsion. It is a last resort, and I accept that it still occurs, but if my hon. Friend examines the experience of some of the areas where corporal punishment has been banned, such as Birmingham, he will find that the number of expulsions has decreased. That does not bear out what he suggests. There are other areas where corporal punishment has been banned that show the same trend.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

I respect the views of my hon. Friend, which are well known to me as a fellow Luton Member. He said that the same rules should apply in all schools. Does he accept that in his constituency there are certain schools with rather more problems than one finds in others? Will he accept also that schools in problem areas might have to have end-of-the-road punishments available to teachers? The situations that those teachers face are very different from those in other schools. We are talking about a deterrent. I hope that my hon. Friend will not dwell too much on facts that support his case and ignore the deterrent that is posed by the cane.

Mr. Bright

I accept that there are differences in behaviour in different schools. There are also differences in the approach of different head teachers and teachers. If we allow individual schools to make up their own minds, some schools will have corporal punishment and some will not. Worse still—this is what makes a dog's breakfast of the proposal — there will be schools with corporal punishment, and it will be the right of parents to withdraw their children from that punishment. That will produce two classes of pupil in one school. That would be madness. That would do nothing to help the maintenance of discipline in school. The entire system would be wrecked.

Those who support the proposal before us will be voting for chaos, and nothing less than that. I am against corporal punishment, and I believe that we cannot support something that is nothing more than a dog's breakfast. If a school decides that it will no longer apply corporal punishment, there will be no turning back. It is not something that can suddenly be returned. It is a fact that corporal punishment will gradually phase itself out in any event, and I want to ensure that it is brought to an end tonight.

It is possible to devise a disciplinary system that is based on rewards for good behaviour. At the same time, there can be a range of penalties, such as class reports, loss of privileges, lines, detention and interviews with parents. Such a system undoubtedly requires more commitment from pupils, teachers and parents. The teachers have taken that on board which is why the teachers' unions and the head teachers support this approach. Our neighbours in Europe have shown that such a system can work. This is our opportunity to come into the 20th century, to abandon the cane and to adopt what I believe is a much more positive approach to education.

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

The hon. Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) made a fine speech. I have never heard such a bad speech from the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). The hon. Gentleman tried to observe the letter of the EEC regulations, while dodging their spirit. He was trying to have it both ways and, of course, he failed.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth offered the House a completely bogus argument in saying that Britain has always had corporal punishment and that it is a tradition. Imagine the House debating slavery and advocates of that practice saying, "We have always had slavery in this country and it is a tradition." Imagine our predecessors in this place saying, "We have always denied women the vote, so why should we now allow women to vote? It is a tradition that they have not had the vote." [Interruption.] I know that even now some hon. Members do not like the concept of women having the vote. Some Members prefer slavery and others prefer corporal punishment. Let it be understood that the tradition argument is bogus and nonsensical.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth was offering us a message of despair, in stark contrast to the message offered by Mr. Martin Rosenbaum of the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment. He has presented a marvellous message of enlightenment, in which he sets out how Britain can rid itself of corporal punishment to the advantage of teachers and pupils. I pay tribute to Mr. Rosenbaum for the fine work that he has done on behalf of STOPP. Those who oppose STOPP surely do not know anything about the research that it has conducted.

The argument for the retention of corporal punishment is too simple, given the complexity of the problem of maintaining discipline in schools. The advocates of this approach adopt a hanging and flogging mentality, and I suggest that that has no place in the House of Commons now.

When we see a child being awkward and difficult, we are often tempted to give it a clip around the ear. Sometimes we want to take that course. We tended to think in the old days that a clip around the ear by a teacher or a policeman solved the problem. It did not. We are seeing the past through rose-tinted spectacles. Clips around the ear imposed injuries and the practice was wrong. It made children resentful and that resentment lasted for life. It is wrong that lifelong resentment should be created when it is thought that a child has done wrong and when the child may think that he has done right. The child may sometimes realise that he has done wrong, but we cannot meet a wrongdoing by hitting somebody, by punching him or by using weapons. I cannot accept that civilised Members of this place are so brutal, stupid, uncivilised and old-fashioned as to believe that hitting someone can solve a problem. That is not the way to deal with the profound problems of control.

I shall make a short speech because I know that many other Members wish to participate in the debate. I believe that it is wrong to try to gain compliance by using force and brutality on children. That is wrong in principle and fallacious in practice. I believe that violence brutalises and begets violence. Some schoolchildren hit back at their teachers, but, even if not then, violence may beget violence later on. Violence is counter-productive. Violence demeans the pupil as well as the teacher. Violence creates rather than solves problems. I therefore hope that the House will use this rare opportunity of taking a real step forward towards a more civilised society. We are not asking for softness or sentimentality. We are asking for a reasonable method of dealing with children in schools. Let us get rid of one element of violence in our violent society, and thereby help teachers and pupils too.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

I do not doubt for a moment the sincerity of the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley), but I cannot agree with what he says. My remarks are based upon 23 years in the classroom, no fewer than 12 of which were spent in a comprehensive for 1,100 boys in King's Cross, where I was deputy head. With respect, I believe that it is possible to get away from the real world when considering this important issue.

I would never condone bad practice. If properly reported, the example given in The London Standard today is an example of extremely bad practice. To cane a child for bad work is a serious misuse of the cane. If pupils fail to do their best, that is their failure and there is a way to handle it. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) spoke of children's fingers being broken and of blood being drawn. No one who has had the experience of having to administer reasonable corporal punishment, as I have, would condone such treatment for a moment. It is disgraceful and unacceptable, and it is no part of my case when I say that corporal punishment should be retained. I am referring to reasonable corporal punishment administered by the head or deputy head of the school — by someone with experience in the profession, experience in handling children and experience in administering corporal punishment.

The use of emotive words such as "beating", "hitting" and "violence" is not helpful. Corporal punishment should not be seen in those terms. It should be used only for the most serious of school offences, such as the very severe bullying by a large boy of a small boy, or, in some circumstances, perhaps, a boy attacking a teacher.

It is all very well for hon. Members to pontificate in the House of Commons. We need to put ourselves in King's Cross, Deptford, or many other places, in front of a class of 30 or 40 14-year-olds or in a playground where 1,000 or 1,100 boys, or boys and girls, are doing all the things that they do during recreation. One person may have to control that situation. It would be wrong to take away any sanctions in the teacher's hands. At the same time, any sanction must be used carefully and properly.

7.15 pm

There are schools not far from this House where there is little or no discipline. Children of all ages, primary and secondary, trot about like packs of hounds, doing what they like, totally out of control, cheeking teachers — I could give examples. The situation is very serious. The severe soccer and social violence from which we suffer does not diminish as sanctions in schools diminish. It seems to get worse.

What does the Bible say? In Proverbs we read: He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Perhaps Proverbs goes a little far.

As a schoolboy I received corporal punishment. I have been on both sides of the fence. A teacher should always he positive if he is to be effective. If he is, and if interest can be inspired in the pupils, there will be few disciplinary problems. However, there may always be some. Things can go wrong even in the best of situations, and terrible things can happen outside the classroom.

We must consider every aspect of school life. In my own time as a teacher, I remember quite small boys hitting old women to the floor of their homes and demanding money. Other boys violated animals or beat people up. At the same time, pupils were going to Oxford and Cambridge. In a comprehensive school, there will be those who do very well and there will be those who get into difficulties with the police. We must face that.

Mr. Bell

We listen with great interest to the hon. Gentleman as he draws on his vast experience, but is he not confusing concepts when he relates corporal punishment to acts of violence that are criminal offences?

Mr. Greenway

I am simply giving the background against which a school has to draw its disciplinary lines, and giving one or two examples of what happens every day.

Good teachers have few problems, but we are not dealing only with able teachers. We are dealing with those who find it difficult to teach. Discipline emerges best from good relationships between staff and pupils and among pupils themselves. If relationships are good, there is never any violence. The friendship that people feel for each other enables them to think positively first, and to think of hostile actions only as a very last resort. The encouragement of pupils is absolutely essential and is basic to the well-being of any school. However, there will be bad behaviour in any school. One has only to read "Lord of the Flies" to be reminded of the fallen nature of man. There will be bad behaviour even in the best schools. We must consider what sanctions will be effective.

The school must involve the parents. it must work unremittingly with the parents of the pupil concerned to try to remedy the behavioural difficulties of the child.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)

I wonder whether my hon. Friend's constituency postbag reflects mine? I find that, by eight to one, parents and pupils are in favour of what two of my constituents described as "capital punishment" in schools. If that is the general view of most parents, is it not arrogant for the Labour party to deny its own members the opportunity to reflect the views of their constituents?

Mr. Greenway

Many people are confused between the terms, capital and corporal punishment. I deplore the Labour party's stand on this. It is mandated by its party conference and to have a Whip on such an issue is disgraceful.

Many a problem in schools is cured by involving the parents. But, if it is not, how else can it be done? Much can be cured by a teacher's disapproval of a child's behaviour. A look of disapproval, a withering glance or an angry word might cure it, but not always. Lines are disgraceful and are bad education. Setting pupils to do mathematics destroys any love of an important discipline. I deplore suspension and expulsion. For that to roll so easily off the tongue of my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South and others is for them to miss a crucial point.

Mr. Bright


Mr. Greenway

I am sorry, I think that I have misrepresented my hon. Friend and I apologise. However, that has certainly come from the tongue of others in this debate.

To suspend or expel a pupil is to put outside the school the very children who must be there. They must be there for their education, however difficult they are. I deplore suspensions and expulsions and I am glad to say that I have never been involved in one. If I had been, I would have regarded myself as a gross failure.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

As the hon. Gentleman is taking us through all the possible punishments, will he tell us what, in his experience, people do when a pupil refuses to accept corporal punishment?

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman anticipates my point. In the end something must happen. In many cases children are put into court. If corporal punishment is abolished, there will be more suspensions, more expulsions and more court cases. I have known children put in court for stealing 10p. That is what the Labour party seems to want. It is disappointing and deplorable.

At the end of the road the administration of reasonable corporal punishment can end serious indiscipline. I am not saying that it is a cure, but it can bring things to a head and stop serious indiscipline in a pupil. It is reasonable to argue that corporal punishment is a deterrent.

On the continent the policy is to expel and suspend. That is a way of putting pupils out of school and it cannot be right. It is asked why we cannot be on our own in retaining corporal punishment. We were on our own in 1940. I do not see why we should be afraid of individuality. Should we do what Sweden does? Sweden is the only country in the world at present where five-year-old children can take their parents to court for smacking them. The Labour party is trying to take us that way. It appears to wish to see children aged five and upwards take a piece of paper home which explains to them that if their parents smack them they are to report them to the nearest police station were a summons will be taken out. The country must take note of that.

Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is easy to make facile judgments on this issue, but, as a matter of experience, many good and happy schools happen to have corporal punishment and many throroughly bad schools do not? Therefore, surely it is right that the judgment in these matters should be left to the head teachers, the educationists and the people in the schools who know best. Surely that is what the amendment is seeking to do?

Mr. Greenway

My hon. Friend is right. His long experience gives added weight to what he says.

If we abolish official and properly supervised corporal punishment there will be more unofficial beating. In schools where corporal punishment has been abolished there have been the most awful goings on which a re undetected—the gym slipper, and so on.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

How do we know if they are undetected?

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman thinks that he has made a clever remark. He has been to school, as I have. Such things may be undetected in schools, but they can still be reported outside. I am talking of what happens in school.

Children can and do, as the hon. Gentleman has said, refuse all punishment. But in the end something must happen. It is reasonable to have corporal punishment as a backstop. It is fair between pupils. It is immediate and salutary and it can be right for certain serious offences. However, I do not advocate its blanket use for anything and everything.

School discipline cannot be decided at Strasbourg or Westminster, at county hall or town hall. It must be decided where it can be most fruitfully discussed, and that is at the school, between the head, the governors and the parents.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

If I do not recognise the problems on which the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) has been enlightening the House, it is because the problems simply do not exist in Scottish schools where, as my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) said, corporal punishment has been abolished for a considerable number of years.

It is a great pity that Conservative Members, with the sort of experience on which the hon. Member for Ealing, North, a schoolteacher for 23 years, has just drawn, have not taken the trouble to see what has happened in Scottish schools since the almost complete abolition of corporal punishment there.

It was a pity that in moving the amendment the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) did not refer to amendment No. 165 which deals not with the position in schools in England and Wales but exclusively with the position in Scotland. Of course, the position there is completely different from that which prevails in England and Wales.

For example, Scotland does not have school governors. We have school councils, but the responsible authorities for schools in Scotland are the regional and islands authorities. In their role as education authorities they had before the European court judgment, the right to decide whether corporal punishment should be used in schools.

I have been close to the problem. The case that was taken to the European Court in 1982 involved a young boy from my native town of Cowdenbeath. His parents took the case to the court. I lived for about 25 years within walking distance of the factory that made the famous Lochgelly tawse. Therefore, I have been fairly near to the problem for a considerable time.

One of the reasons for abolishing corporal punishment in Scotland all those years ago was that the education authorities were much more enlightened in their approach than the House of Commons now seems to be in 1986.

Excluding those hon. Members who have had experience as schoolteachers, the House of Commons is at its worst when it is moralising. I am looking particularly now at the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels). I hope that we shall not be given a lesson on morals by him.

As Members of Parliament with young families, we come here from Monday to Friday and have little or no responsibility for bringing up our families. We depend almost entirely on our wives to bring up our children. Then we try to act like experts and say what should be done to control indiscipline among children in or out of school.

I hope that when right hon. and hon. Members contribute to the debate they will pay attention to our circumstances as Members of Parliament over the years. When I came here, my family was young; I had to depend almost entirely on my wife and I would not pretend to be an expert in dealing with the problems of indiscipline among young children. I have been away from home from Monday to Friday for nearly sixteen years. That is the sort of factor that we ought to take into account.

Amendment number 165 would return the Scottish education authorities to the position that prevailed before the European Court judgment arising from the 1982 case. The Scottish education authorities would have the discretion whether to apply corporal punishment in schools. I submit that they have used their discretion over a great many years, and that has meant the abolition of corporal punishment. That is a clear sign that they have no need to return to the pre-European Court judgment.

7.30 pm

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) intends to seek to catch your eye again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to reply to the debate—

Mr. Pawsey

indicated assent.

Mr. Ewing

I note that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth is nodding his head. I hope that he will take my point on board.

I accept that the hon. Member for Enfield, North and others are in favour of corporal punishment. I accept that they are sincere and I do not complain about their sincerity. However, I profoundly disagree with their views. I recognise that the main thrust of their argument is: if we remove corporal punishment, what shall we put in its place? No one can come up with a hard and fast package to replace corporal punishment and guarantee that it would work. No one, including the hon. Member for Enfield, North, can prove that corporal punishment works effectively to control indiscipline in schools.

If we are to remove the system we must accept that we should try various remedies to deal with unruliness in schools. We must also accept that some of these will fail. What is wrong with trying and failing? By trying, we might find a remedy that will succeed. However the biggest obstacle to trying a new approach is the retention of the old system. As long as we retain corporal punishment in schools—the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth made this point concisely—with the cane standing in the corner to frighten the life out of a child, we shall not make progress. The cane on the table does not and will not work. As long as we retain the cane in the corner, there will be less of an incentive to try to find new approaches, remedies and cures. We shall not find the new approaches without removing the threat of corporal punishment.

I have not been convinced that the need for corporal punishment arises as a result of an unruly child or through an inadequate teacher. There is a fine line between these two factors. I do not believe for a minute that we should disregard the possibility that the problem is not so much about unruly children as about inadequate teaching.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

How would the hon. Gentleman equate his remarks with the degree of violence that we have all read about against teachers and the sheer terror to which some teachers have been subjected by children?

Mr. Ewing

I do not think that it does any good to overstate the problem. I have acknowledged that the probem exists. However, it is pointless for the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Cash) to use such emotive language in stating the problem that he presented to me in his intervention. His emotive language implies that such violence is almost a daily occurrence in almost every school in the country.

I trust that the hon. Member for Stafford will bear with me. This is an opportune moment for me to deal with one of the points raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, North. Pupils who attack teachers will not be controlled by corporal punishment. There must be other remedies and I would be the first to accept that. Those pupils—

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

What kind of remedies?

Mr. Ewing

The hon. Member for Leicester, East thinks that he is being clever by asking about the remedies. I have already said that we shall have to try various remedies and that we must accept that some will fail and some will succeed. As long as we retain corporal punishment, we will be lazy in our approach and will not try the alternatives.

Mr. Greenway

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) for giving way and I remind him that I am the hon. Member for Ealing, North and not Enfield, North. In my experience I remember occasions when teachers have been attacked by pupils and reasonable corporal punishment proved to be the satisfactory form of punishment.

Mr. Radice

The hon. Gentleman cannot prove that.

Mr. Greenway

I most certainly can prove that. It happened in one case at a school for 2,200 pupils in which I had responsibility for school discipline. The House is entitled to ask, what precisely would the hon. Member for Falkirk, East do? It is no good him saying he would do this or that. What would he do?

Mr. Ewing

I apologise to the electorate of Enfield, North and to the hon. Member for Ealing, North. However, the hon. Gentleman wants everything in a nice package but that is not possible. Corporal punishment does not fit into a nice package. That is why this country is in such difficulty over the question of corporal punishment.

The hon. Member for Ealing, North will discover in the Lobby when the vote is taken, that this is not a Labour party versus Tory party versus alliance issue. There are many opinions on this issue. We have been talking about deterrents. I have been here long enough to know that the three-line Whip is no more a deterrent than the cane standing in the corner. The hon. Member for Ealing, North knows that.

My central point is that the education authorities in Scotland do not want to return to the pre-1982, pre-European Court position. When the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth replies, I hope that he will not press amendment No. 165 and that he will seek leave to withdraw it. It is significant that no Scottish Member of Parliament has supported the amendment. I do not mean that as criticism, it is simply a fact. I do not want to be accused of carping criticism, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment. If he does not, I hope that we shall be allowed a separate vote on amendment No. 165 as we in Scotland do not need to return to the pre-European Court position.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I shall be very brief as I know that many hon. Members wish to intervene in the debate. Left entirely to myself, and if we were not concerned with the European Court, I would substantially agree with the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway). I believe that corporal punishment in England, as possibly the punishment of last resort, should be determined by the governing bodies of individual schools. I would like that to be the position. However, I do not think that it can be the position and I do not believe that the House or any sensible person can ignore the decision of the European Court.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)


Mr. Hogg

The decision of the European Court has made it clear that, unless we respect what are called the philosophical views of parents, we are in breach of the convention. That leaves us with two choices. Either we have a policy of complete abolition as contained in the Bill or we have a system designed to enable parents to elect that their children should not be punished in that way.

The Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill 1985 was an attempt to enable parents to opt their children out of punishment. I served on the Standing Committee on that Bill and with the greatest respect to the then Secretary of State, I believe that it was nonsense. There cannot be two classes of punishment in one school. I conclude, therefore, that to discharge what is a duty to the convention, the treaty and the accord, we must pursue a policy of total abolition.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North says that these matters should be left to the governing bodies. In principle, I am in favour of that policy, but I do not see how governing bodies can achieve that objective and at the same time comply with the European convention and the European Court's ruling without providing some form of dual discipline within the schools, and that is not acceptable.

Mr. Budgen

My hon. Friend knows that I agree with much of what he says, but for those of us who wish to be rid of this foreign interference and who wish to ensure that the British people have the right to make these decisions, for better or for worse, is there not something to be said for voting for a nonsense, in the hope that the British people will realise that a nonsense has been foisted upon them and that it is far better that domestic matters should be decided by this House?

Mr. Hogg

I am never in favour of voting for nonsenses, and I should be sorry to think that my hon. Friend is in favour of voting for nonsenses. Perhaps this demonstrates that the European convention ought to be incorporated in our municipal and domestic law, when British judges would decide the issue and I suspect, would come to a quite different decision. However, today we are deciding whether on the one hand to pursue a policy of complete abolition or, on the other hand, to devise a system that will enable parents to elect whether or not their children should be punished in this way. As that would lead to a dual kind of discipline in schools, which would be a nonsense, I favour the policy of complete abolition.

Mr. Flannery

It is very sad that we are spending all this time discussing one aspect of an 81-page Bill containing 61 clauses and six schedules. It is the biggest Bill since the Education Act 1944. We are devoting all this time to discussing something that was decided as long as 100 years ago in certain European countries. I have served with the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on many Committees, including the bizarre one last year which considered corporal punishment. It is unbelievable that any party could put forward such nonsense.

The hon. Member for Ealing, North referred to bad practice. There would be no bad practie if corporal punishment were made illegal. I taught for far longer than the hon. Gentleman did but he knows as well as I do that one blow in anger always begets another and that it often gets out of hand. The number of cases that have got out of hand would fill the newspapers. We do not come across many of these cases personally. Indeed, I have come across only one or two of them. What the hon. Gentleman calls bad practice is the actual practice of corporal punisnment.

Teachers have to try to create a relaxed atmosphere, as best they can. In such an atmosphere, children have their senses wide open to knowledge and to the channels of learning. It is not always in the head teacher's room that caning takes place. Although I have not taught for 12 or 13 years, I know that caning usually takes place in the classroom, in front of other children, and that it is not recorded.

Mr. Winnick

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the House decided tonight to abolish caning it is unlikely that corporal punishment would be reintroduced and that it would decide the matter for generations to come?

7.45 pm
Mr. Flannery

Indeed. I am sure that that is what would happen, and that is what most Opposition Members, whether whipped or not, would like to happen. Earlier in these proceedings it saddened me to note that the Government Benches were quite empty, compared with now. As soon as the amendment dealing with corporal punishment was moved, the Government Benches filled up.

A relaxed school atmosphere means that learning goes on at a faster rate than happens if children are frightened. Many sensitive children are terrified when they see a weapon—a cane—being wielded. Conservative Members may smile, but many of them stand alone on this issue. The hon. Member for Ealing, North referred to this country being as embattled as it was in 1940, during the Dunkirk operation, but thousands of teachers are against corporal punishment.

Mr. Greenway

The hon. Gentleman was not paying attention. All I said was that we should not fear to stand alone on this issue and to be the only nation in Europe that administers corporal punishment. We stood alone in 1940 on a quite separate issue. I was not drawing an analogy between then and now.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman's interventions are always welcome. They spur me on in following the line that I correctly take.

The lengths to which certain Conservative Members have to go to justify this barbaric practice are unbelievable. They are driven from position to position, and their arguments become more and more bizarre. Eventually, they end up with what happened last year—a Bill that said to parents, "If you sign a document saying that we must not cane your Tommy we will not cane him, no matter what he does, but if you sign another document saying that we can cane him, we will cane him." Tommy and Billy then do the same thing, and the teacher says to Tommy and Billy, "By the way, did your mums sign a document saying that I could cane you, or did they say that I could not cane you?" What nonsense. This wrong and backward argument drives one to resort to all kinds of measures in an effort to justify something that is outdated.

Mr. Budgen

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

Other hon. Members want to speak. I know the hon. Gentleman's viewpoint. He has voiced it very often.

It is necessary to examine not only the question of teaching and learning, but the question of human dignity. The hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) was ready to get the sjambok out for all of us if we disagreed with him over corporal punishment. I have no doubt that he would have done that in Soweto. Corporal punishment demeans the teacher and the taught. It demeans the society in which it occurs and closes the channels of learning.

Mr. David Evennett (Erith and Crayford)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

I will in a moment. The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) was a member of the Committee on the Bill. Now he is on the Select Committee, and I know that he has a good viewpoint, although I do not think that he agrees with me on this. People who use the expression in loco parentis, meaning in place of a parent, are really talking in loco draconis. They are talking as Draco and frightening children, and making teaching and learning extremely difficult.

Mr. Evennett

I am always interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's point of view, because he had years of experience in the classroom. Those of us who have been teachers have all had experience of the playground bully. Does the hon. Gentleman not think that the playground bully might benefit from corporal punishment and that other children in the playground might be deterred from bullying if they knew that the outcome could be a touch of the cane from the headmaster? Does he not think that in an instance like that there is a case for corporal punishment?

Mr. Flannery

No, there is no case for corporal punishment in dealing with a playground bully, though I agree that we have to think carefully about how to deal with that problem. Later I shall come to the vexed question of what ought to replace corporal punishment. This form of punishment is far less acceptable than a wide range of alternative sanctions that are available. Many people would disagree with some of them, but the teachers organisations have issued pamphlets about this and in essence they ask for smaller classes, more resources, more teachers, better schools and more equipment — for all the things that mean more learning and more teaching. They are difficult things to provide because they are expensive, but they are the replacements for corporal punishment.

There always have been and always will be awkward children. The hon. Member for Ealing, North talked about attacks on teachers. It has been proved that where corporal punishment ceases, attacks on teachers decrease. The Inner London education authority conducted some research into this which showed that when the cane was banned attacks on teachers dropped. The director of education in Brent reported that the abolition of corporal punishment led to a decrease in bullying in the borough's schools.

There are solutions to this difficult problem. Some of the solutions and some of the problems have been discussed endlessly, not only by us, but by the teachers, who have to discuss them in the staffrooms and in other places where they get together. The Government propose to leave the initiative to parents whether or not children should be caned, but by doing that the Government are not facing their responsibilities. The responsibilities have to be faced in teaching, and the idea that one can have some schools in which the governors decide to have corporal punishment and others where the governors decide not to have it is unworkable. It is as bizarre as last year's Bill.

I think that a few Government Members support the stance that we are taking, and I hope they will realise that not only is corporal punishment a lonely business and wrong, but that it is not good for teaching. They should face the real alternative, which is more money for education.

Mr. Key

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and I spend many hours talking about education. We agree on most things but on some things we disagree. I always find it fascinating to discuss such things with my hon. Friend against the background of the memory of Arnold of Rugby, that great educational reformer who did so much for education in Britain in the last century.

Caning has failed. It is an irony that in recent years when caning has been legal we have seen the most rapid ever deterioration in discipline and a growth of violence. It is turning the argument on its head to say that we must keep the cane in order to impose discipline and see an end to violence. I fear that many of my hon. Friends wish to perpetuate a system which 40 years on they claim did them no harm and which many of them preferred as a punishment in their young days. Of course they preferred it: it was far easier and more acceptable than other sanctions which they might have had inflicted on them. It was much preferable to loss of privileges, loss of status and loss of time at school. Indeed, it would have added to their status as heroes against authority. The sensitive ones among my hon. Friends — probably at their public schools — were humiliated. The tougher ones were beaten again and again, to the enhancement of their Rambo reputations.

Ever since judicial flogging was outlawed in Britain in 1948, the evidence has been growing, and is now irrefutable, that corporal punishment is counterproductive because it breeds hostility and resentment and legitimises violence at a time when we are urgently trying to reduce violence in society.

Parents expect rules and sanctions in other professions, such as the law, banking and medicine, to change and improve with the years, but some people seem to think that this should not be so in education, especially when it comes to beating. It is hard to find a single public school where the cane is still in use and any headmaster or master, will testify that the quality of human relationships between people of all ages in those schools has seen an enormous advance on days gone by.

Mr. Cash

I think that for some time my hon. Friend was a teacher at Harrow school. At least one other signatory to new clause 20 was a contemporary of his at Harrow school as a master. He has signed the motion in favour of corporal punishment. Can my hon. Friend enlighten me about the position that he and that other hon. Member took?

Mr. Key

I take it that my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (M r. Cash) is talking about our hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter). Neither of us was allowed to beat children and children were very rarely beaten. Just yesterday I talked to the headmaster of Harrow school and he confirmed that beating is not part of the curriculum there. It is in the schools in Britain where the cane was outlawed many years ago that we have the most successful academic results and motivation of the pupils. There are a number of alternative sanctions which can be used.

Mr. Evennett


Mr. Key

I must proceed, or I shall detain the House for a long time.

The quality of humen relationships which develop in school when the cane is not just put in the cupboard but snapped and burned and the advance that one sees in those schools are so great that those things alone would be enough to convince me that we should abolish the cane.

Some of my hon. Friends have said that the issue of corporal punishment should be left for schools to decide. The matter cannot possibly be left to schools, because my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education has made it clear that if corporal punishment is retained, one way or another schools will be forced to allow parents to exempt their children from it. That will create two classes of pupils, the beatable and the unbeatable. In a way, the choice facing the House is which policy to impose on schools—abolition or the ludicrous exemption scheme.

Some of my hon. Friends have also spoken aout the serious problem of assaults on teachers. Figures collected by education authorities show that since certain authorities abolished corporal punishment in their schools, there has been a measurable decline in the number of recorded assaults on teachers. For instance, in 1978 in ILEA, there were 62 recorded instances of assaults on teachers. The following year, the authority announced that it would work towards the abolition of corporal punishment in 1981. That was a transition time of three years in which schools could adapt to the new disciplinary procedures. From 1979, annual figures for assaults fell, and there was a drop of nearly 40 per cent. between 1978 and 1981. The schools that abolished corporal punishment included both those schools at which my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North taught.

8 pm

I have also heard it said that the abolition of corporal punishment would lead to more pupils being suspended. The evidence points in exactly the opposite direction. Because teacher-pupil relationships are better in the absence of corporal punishment, fewer pupils are suspended than otherwise would be. This is not conjecture. For instance, the level of suspension has fallen in Birmingham, in Haringey—

Mr. Radice

In Northamptonshire.

Mr. Key

—in Waltham Forest, and, as the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) has said, in Northamptonshire. In 1984, its education committee reported: if any conclusion is to be drawn from these statistics it is that the abolition of corporal punishment gradually, and now as a matter of policy, has had the effect of reducing, rather than increasing, the number of suspensions. It is also said that corporal punishment should be retained because it is used only infrequently, as a last resort, or as the ultimate deterrent for serious offences. This is nonsense. Both official education authority statistics and inspectorate reports have shown that in some schools there are hundreds of canings a year. Many cif these must be for trivial offences. This was admitted by the Government in the 1985 White Paper "Better Schools", which acknowledged that corporal punishment is in many schools used only for relatively minor offences. As long as corporal punishment is legal in some schools, it will continue to be used extremely frequently.

Mr. Pawsey

I have no desire to provoke my hon. Friend into the long speech with which he has threatened us, but does he not agree that the schools to which he referred are a small minority? Does he also agree that, increasingly, corporal punishment is being used more infrequently every year?

Mr. Key

I wish that I could agree with my hon. Friend, but the facts do not support what he is saying. He has encouraged me to insert a huge chunk into my speech of numerous examples of exactly what I mean.

Corporal punishment is still widespread and often frequent. It has been abolished by 34 of our 125 education authorities, and is retained by 91. I am delighted that my county education authority in Wiltshire has recently seen the light. The abolitionist authorities include those of all types across the country, whether they are county councils, London boroughs, Welsh county councils or Scottish regional councils. They are diverse politically, and include Conservative-controlled Berkshire and alliance-controlled Richmond.

I find disturbing the rules in the retentionist authorities. Some 84 allow corporal punishment for primary school children, 87 allow it for sixth formers, 77 allow it for handicapped children. Some 86 place no limit on the number of blows allowed, 80 allow corporal punishment to be carried out in public, 60 allow male teachers to give corporal punishment to girls and 89 allow female teachers to give corporal punishment to boys. It is an interesting concept that it is more acceptable to allow women to beat boys than to allow men to beat girls. Let us not go too far down that intriguing road.

Local authority bans protect about 3 million schoolchildren from corporal punishment, roughly one third of our school population. In Scotland, over 90 per cent. of the school population is safe from corporal punishment.

Maintained schools in England and Wales keep punishment books. These have been referred to, but generally without statistics, so I feel obliged to put the statistics in front of my hon. Friends so that they can judge them. Some 35 of the 104 English and Welsh LEAs have published statistics from these books. They show that in many areas, corporal punishment in schools is still frequent. Extrapolating nationally from the published figures suggests that there are about 200,000 officially recorded instances of corporal punishment each year.

For instance, in Mid Glamorgan there were 9,994 recorded instances in secondary schools in 1979–81, and 516 in primary schools. In Cleveland, 12,369 were recorded in secondary schools from September 1980 to May 1983. In one comprehensive, Dyke House comprehensive in Cleveland, 1,260 canings were recorded between September 1980 and May 1983. [Interruption.] I would be grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North would listen to me. I had the courtesy to listen to him in silence.

Mr. Greenway

My hon. Friend is only reading from the STOPP brief.

Mr. Key

The STOPP organisation has the finest statistics available to prove the point that I am trying to make, so of course I shall quote it. I shall quote it even more if I am encouraged in this way.

Mr. Greenway

Make your own speech.

Mr. Key

I shall be making my speech at greater length unless my hon. Friend does me the courtesy of listening to me.

One could go on quoting examples, but certain themes emerge from the statistics that are unpalatable to my hon. Friends. First, there is a tremendous variation from education authority to education authority. Secondly, some children get corporal punishment again and again. The Cleveland figures show that two boys were caned 25 times in one year and another 24 times in the following year. Thirdly, children of all ages are liable to corporal punishment. The sad fact is that even physically and mentally handicapped children are subject to this. We have seen that the corporal punishment of girls is practised, but is less common, although by no means rare.

I referred earlier to judicial corporal punishment, which was abolished in 1948 because the Cadogan report of 1938, after a thorough study of young offenders, concluded that those who were birched were more likley to re-offend than those who were not. It said: as a court penalty, corporal punishment is not an effective method of dealing with young offenders.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)


Mr. Key

No, I shall not give way. I have already given way many times.

Flogging in the Army was banned in 1906, but was not finally outlawed in the Navy until 1957. Corporal punishment in borstals and prisons was banned in 1967. We should not beat convicted criminals, but innocent children are fair game.

The campaign to persuade Parliament to end corporal punishment in schools began in 1669, when a schoolboy presented Mr. Speaker with the Children's Petition.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

My hon. Friend said that corporal punishment does not deter. On one occasion when I was appearing in court, two probation officers were discussing that point. One of them said that his defendant was from the Isle of Man, where he had been birched, but he was in court again. The young man said from the corner, "But I wouldn't do it again in the Isle of Man."

Mr. Key

That may be so, but unfortunately for my hon. Friend, birching has been abolished in the Isle of Man. I am surprised that she is advocating the use of the birch. That is going a bit far, even for some of my hon. Friends.

The campaign to persuade Parliament to end corporal punishment to schools began in 1669 with the Children's Petition, which suggests that a teacher who is not able to awe and keep a company of youth in obedience without violence and stripes should judge himself no more fit for that function. Times have not changed in that respect. Beating is a dangerous form of punishment, which is not even successful as a means of discipline. We have seen that corporal punishment is counter-productive. Schools which use the cane have the worst classroom misbehaviour, the highest juvenile delinquency, the most vandalism and the worst attendance rates. The cane breeds resentment and fosters hostile teacher-pupil relationships and a negative and antagonistic atmosphere in schools.

None of the education authorities which banned corporal punishment has been forced to reintroduce it. The practical experience of doing without it in Britain and overseas makes it clear that corporal punishment is not only undesirable but unnecessary.

As a Conservative, I believe in levelling up. Few of my colleagues would disagree that the highest educational standards, the strongest motivation and the best discipline are still to be found in traditional schools, which they probably attended. Those schools have, almost without exception, ceased to use the cane. The parliamentary victims of the cane who say that no harm was done to them were lucky, because beating causes physical and mental damage to a significant minority. Of course, as I said earlier, they preferred it.

The last ditch argument is always: what, in the face of increasing indiscipline, can be put in place of the cane? During my 16 years' experience of teaching, without exception, the best headmasters, housemasters and teachers used punishment least and the inadequate indulged in it. Any teacher worth his or her salt will say that good discipline results from a host of complex, interacting factors and is not achieved by the simplistic hitting of a child with a stick. It is no good saying that we must get away from emotional language and that we must stop talking about beating, flogging or hitting children with sticks. I have heard several hon. Members talking about a sharp tap on the bottom as a euphemism for corporal punishment. We cannot quibble about the delivery of that punishment.

A rich harvest of alternatives to corporal punishment has been gleaned. I pay tributue to David Fontana, the senior lecturer at University college, Cardiff for stating the best practice for teachers in his book "Classroom Control". The book encapsulates the best practice of all those, perhaps good, schoolmasters who taught Tory Back-Bench Members all those years ago—those hon. Members who ask constantly what can be put in place of the cane. I refer them to that book. I even refer my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster to it. I wish that she would read it and discover the alternatives to corporal punishment. The book encapsulates the best teaching practice.

What is that best practice? It means good schools, where rules are few but are clear and are consistently applied. It means rules that are subject to change and development and a school with clear and efficient lines of communications between pupils and teachers at all levels and between the staff. It also means decisions which are taken by the head and staff in a way which is never arbitrary but is related to the need for children to learn standards and values. Such a school will have a positive purpose which is sensitive to all the ability-related differences between the children and to cultural factors.

If the small print of the problems facing us bores my hon. Friends, I must say that frequently many of them say, "What will you put in its place?" We must put those measures in the place of corporal punishment. If something is to be put in the place of corporal punishment, it is the teachers who will do it and it is their experience and good will upon which we must, to a large extent, rely.

Most punishment arouses negative feelings in a child and usually draws attention to bad behaviour. Praise and encouragement are accepted and practised by parents and teachers. Teachers may add material rewards such as good marks, term reports, house points, privileges and special responsibilities, all of which are immediate, realistic, consistent and attractive to children. The withdrawal of those privileges and the denial of time are among the most effective sanctions available to a teacher. The ridiculous fantasies creeping into our schools, such as the abandonment of egg-and-spoon races and the absurdity of denigrating football as a sport and calling it an invasion game, do nothing to help discipline any more than the abandoning of school uniform.

8.15 pm

As ex-pupils and as parents, hon. Members know that teachers should be confident, careful, consistent, fair, aware and firm. They should set realistic standards and should, above all, enjoy teaching. Sarcasm and humiliation in the classroom elicit nothing but rudeness and disobedience. If we wish our teachers to carry prestige and status and deliver to our children their educational birthright, we must look to the ACAS talks now in progress to set us on the road beyond the tragic dispute that we have experienced, and to the Secretary of State to implement the new partnership envisaged by the Bill, which I warmly congratulate the Government on introducing.

Mrs. Elizabeth Shields (Ryedale)

I agree with the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key). I, like many other hon. Members, have been in the teaching profession, and I may have a little more experience than some. During the past 10 years I have taught in a mixed comprehensive school. During that period the use of the cane, which was never frequent, has become even less frequent. There are alternative ways of correcting children. There are no complete answers to the problems set by disruptive children. We must work those things out as we go along. There are positive ways of considering the problem but corporal punishment is a negative way, as it tends to breed resentment.

If one uses suspension, there is a cooling-off period. A child who is out of school for three or five days gets bored and wishes to return to the school environment, because he has been away from his friends. That is much preferable to, and more positive than, corporal punishment.

Many in the teaching profession, and most of the unions, now believe that corporal punishment should be phased out, on the ground that it is ineffectual and does not produce the results claimed. To retain it on a voluntary basis would create an almost impossible position in many schools. It would be divisive, in that different pupils would be punished differently for the same offence.

I wonder whether those hon. Members who are in favour of corporal punishment would he willing to accept it if you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or Mr. Speaker, were to decide that you could inflict it when the House is noisy and when hon. Members are not listening to the Opposition.

Mr. Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)

I did not wish to intervene but there is one argument to which I feel I must draw attention. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mrs. Shields) said that the school in which she had taught had corporal punishment, but that its use had diminished, and that she foresaw a time when it would be phased out. I do not disagree with that general approach, but it seems that the people involved in education must make decisions for themselves.

I would prefer, and I intend to vote on this basis, that schools should decide for themselves in conjunction with the governors. However, I do not wish to argue that point tonight as much passion has been devoted to it arid the arguments made on both sides of the House have gone over the top.

There is freedom of manoeuvre in this House and it is wrong for hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), who unfortunately is not in his place, to suggest that we are constrained by the European Court of Human Rights. We are neither legally for morally obliged to make this change tonight. I say that as, I think, the only Conservative Member to vote against the last Education Bill, because it is nonsense. I do not take the view adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen), which is that the more nonsense we vote for, the better. On the whole it is better to vote against it if possible.

I have often made my next point, and I know that it is a failing cause, although it should be put on the record. The treaty that gives authority to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has never been debated or voted upon in the House. Therefore, there is no moral obligation on this Parliament. It happens that because the original derived from a treaty, it passes through the House under the Ponsonby rules, and was therefore not subject to debate. All Governments have failed to bring this matter to the House, even though they have an opportunity to do so everyfive years when the right to make private petitions to the court is brought up for renewal.

Thus there is no moral obligation, although the question whether there is a legal obligation is more complex. I shall outline what I believe to be the position. The Government have entered into a treaty. They are undoubtedly bound by the decisions of the court. However, this Parliament cannot be bound by the court's decisions. It remains a sovereign Parliament and can pass what laws it pleases. The Government come to Parliament to put the case for a change in the law so that they are not embarrassed by cases that go before the court. Thus, we are talking about the Government's embarrassment, and it is not up to this Parliament to bail them out unless the Government come to us with a proposition that we can accept in its own right. So far, the Government have not come to us with such a proposition.

As has been pointed out, the Government came to us with a ludicrous proposition. On that occasion, many of my hon. Friends thought it appropriate to vote for that nonsense, although I did not. I do not propose to vote for this nonsense either. If the European Court of Human Rights believes that a person who has a philosophical objection to having his child beaten should be protected, why, as is the case in my constituency, do 80 per cent. or more of the parents involved in some schools believe that it is to their children's advantage to be brought up in the disciplined atmosphere of a school that still has that sanction, and why should they not be able to have that right exercised?

The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) keeps saying that I am talking about the impossible. But if he is anxious to reconcile the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, there is one clear and obvious solution. If the schools are left to decide for themselves, parents can choose which school to send their children to. The hon. Member for Ryedale (Mrs. Shields) would no doubt say that fewer and fewer schools would retain corporal punishment. Indeed, if the argument is convincing, more and more parents would choose to send their children to schools that did not have corporal punishment.

Mr. Budgen

What would happen if a parent sent his child to a school and then changed his mind just before the child was about to be beaten? If the child was beaten, the parent might go off to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis that his right not to have his child beaten had been infringed by the school and that the British Government had, in effect, reneged on an order from the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Silvester

My hon. Friend has made his reputation in the House by thinking up extreme examples in order to ridicule Bills. Indeed, he is fairly good at it. But I do not for a moment believe that any court would regard that as responsible behaviour by a citizen who had been given the opportunity to choose his school. I think that my hon. Friend understands that point.

My hon. Friends may believe and vote as they wish on this matter, but there is no constraint on them to take one decision or another as a result of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

In trying to avoid what others have described as the mess of previous legislation and of attempts to deal with this issue, the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) suggested that responsibility should lie with the parents and that there should be absolute parental choice. In other words, he believes that parents should be able to choose between a school that inflicts corporal punishment and one that does not.

Mr. Silvester

I was talking about the parents, governors and teachers who are responsible for a particular school.

Mr. Fatchett

I accept that intervention, although it rather changes the hon. Gentleman's argument. I was going to say that parental choice would not be absolute in terms of the amendment, or in practice. From our constituency experience we all know that there are substantial constraints on choice, in the form of school catchment areas, school buildings, school sizes, and so on. Consequently parents cannot exercise any absolute choice. I think that it was the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) who said that we had two choices: to go for absolute abolition, or to allow parents to exercise their philosophical right to allow their children to opt out of corporal punishment. The hon. Member for Grantham then said that that was an unacceptable approach, because it would involve two classes of children and two classes of punishment. That strong .argument has yet to be answered.

I am also worried about the possible damage to the relationship between a parent and his child. If parents are to be able to choose whether their child should receive corporal punishment in certain circumstances — I shall not use emotive language such as "I want my child to be beaten"—a dangerous wedge may be driven between them and their child. Might not a child say to his parents that other children do not have to suffer corporal punishment? I hope that the House will take the clear line outlined by the hon. Member for Grantham and that it will go for total abolition.

I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key). In Committee, I listened on occasions when he was allowed to make some interesting interventions. I did not always agree with him, but tonight I almost totally agreed with him. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) turned round and said that we would only disagree with him in his passing references to the value of this Bill. We may fundamentally disagree on that point, but there is much agreement between us on the issue of corporal punishment.

However, I was disappointed by the reception that Conservative Members gave the hon. Gentleman's speech. It is a commentary on the modern Conservative party that it cannot listen to debate without constant comment or childish behaviour. The hon. Gentleman made a powerful case, and I hope that those who speak in favour of the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) or, indeed, the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth himself, will answer some of his points. As yet, no hon. Member has done so. I shall list the arguments, and I hope that those who speak in this debate will try to meet them.

For instance, why do we reserve corporal punishment only for the young? What justification is there for that? That point has not been answered. Why is there evidence that in schools where there are high levels of corporal punishment, there is also evidence of increasing unruly and antisocial behaviour? No one has answered that point. The hon. Member for Salisbury made that argument effectively. No one has answered the point that when corporal punishment has been abolished, there is no deterioration in behaviour and discipline. Often there is the opposite, in that there is an improvement as there is a better atmosphere.

8.30 pm

In the debate no one has answered the argument that there is a substantial difference between schools that have corporal punishment and schools that do not. If the evidence suggests any difference, it is that schools that do not have corporal punishment have the better atmosphere and behaviour, and the better disciplinary record. I look forward to the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) dealing with those points. No one has said why no individual local authority that has decided to abandon corporal punishment has gone back on that decision. No one has told us why that is a historical fact. I suspect that the reason is that, when local authorities take that decision, they recognise that it is right and stick by it. During the debate, I should like to hear answers to those arguments, which have not yet been given.

Three basic arguments have been put forward for retaining corporal punishment. First, there is the ear-clipping analogy, that it is a good idea to be clipped round the ear by one's parents, the local bobby or perhaps occasionally the teacher. That is good for the child. It teaches him right from wrong, and is a beneficial process. That is used as a basis for saying that we need corporal punishment, and has been used in the debate.

Even if one subscribes to the notion that the ear clip is a good thing in itself I am not wholly of that persuasion—there is a substantial difference between an ear clip and the process of corporal punishment. The clipping of an ear by a parent is a spontaneous reaction — an understandable reaction in many circumstances. The process of corporal punishment is a deliberate act of violence to achieve certain objectives and ends. One cannot put the argument on the basis of the ear clipping analogy. One must recognise that when one goes for deliberate violence, it has its own culture and atmosphere, and one must consider the implications. My argument is that when one creates that culture and atmosphere, one creates a set of reactions against it, which are not necessarily beneficial for our society.

The second argument is that we do not need the cane; it is just a deterrent. I have heard the deterrent argument in other contexts. There is a point in that argument when one has to say that if the weapon is a deterrent, one is prepared to use it. Then the argument shifts its ground because the weapon is no longer a deterrent—the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) used this expression — but it becomes a symbol of fear in the classroom. It is a way of frightening young people.

I have a very different view of education and the educational processes from those that are based upon fear. There is something wrong with our society, our education and our teaching profession if the only way in which we can provide education and learning is on the basis of fear. All the available evidence shows that if we can provide a different atmosphere in which people learn from each other and with each other, we shall get much better results. I do not believe for a moment that one can educate through fear; one can educate only through challenge, initiative and opportunity. Fear is not the basis upon which one enhances people's view of the world and their willingness to learn.

That argument falls, as does the third, which is simple. Those who want to retain corporal punishment simply say, "What is the alternative? We have run out of arguments and ideas, so we'll throw the ball into your court." That cry for an alternative has come from those who have spoken in favour of corporal punishment tonight. It is incumbent upon those who want to change the Bill as it stands to come forward with some arguments. The —What is the alternative?" argument is a negative but easy argument because the cane is the non-thinking, easy response that says, "It has always happened, so it must always happen." I do not believe that that is the right response.

The hon. Member for Salisbury gave a series of constructive suggestions. I make just two points. First, if we want teachers to do a job in our classrooms, we have to train them and provide resources for them to do it. We shall not overcome the problems that teachers face in relation to individual pupils simply by not providing the resources. We shall not overcome those problems by providing the cane. Teachers need to be trained to do the job.

Secondly, there is no easy answer. Resources will often be needed to deal with those of our children who are difficult to educate, but certain local authorities and schools, and many teachers, have experimented successfully in that direction. I say to those who simply parrot the words "What is the alternative?": go around the country, take a deep interest in education, look at what our educationists have done, and you will find the alternative. It is much more civilised, humane and effective for individual children.

In introducing the amendment, the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth spent a few moments knocking the other place. I hope that he continues to do that throughout what may be a relatively short political career, because there will be some consistency if he does. What he wanted to do in that knockabout opening session was show the House that he had an argument. The reality of his speech was that he had no argument. It was a threadbare speech.

I hope that the House has the courage tonight to say that we do not deal with the problems of our society by falling back on deliberate acts of violence, as are enshrined and embodied in corporal punishment, and to abolish corporal punishment and bring this country, not through legislation, not through the courts, but through the Act of this Parliament, into line with all other countries in western Europe. That will be the civilised way and a great improvement for our education system.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

I am pleased to be associated with my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) in this excellent amendment. Tonight the subject for debate is discipline, or lack of it, in our schools. All that we are trying to do is to rectify the situation where some standards are falling because of lack of discipline, while the good schools are continuing to do extremely well.

My friend the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) said that I was liable to make a moralising speech. I have no regret about doing such a thing, because I believe that we are trying to bring discipline back into our schools. Good discipline in our schools breeds respect. I believe that corporal punishment, when used properly, and properly controlled, can bring that respect, just as good teachers earn respect. Of course one does not want corporal punishment to be used on every occasion. Indeed, teachers who have to use it on every occasion might be considered to have failed, but perhaps it is better to receive corporal punishment than to spend one's life having cold showers, doing 500 lines, going on cross-country runs or facing the ultimate problem of expulsion.

Our children should stay in school for as long as possible, so that they can learn and get a job after having had proper training. If a pupil is expelled the school has failed, but if a child is caned he has a second chance. There is nothing wrong in allowing a child that opportunity. It is a deterrent for children to be caned. I have had the experience of being in both the state and the private sector of education, and both schools had the cane available. Indeed, I think that I am the youngest member to take part in the debate—I did not leave school that many years ago. Without any doubt, it was better for me to be in school than out and about.

It is important to try to improve the standards of discipline in schools. How will corporal punishment be conducted? I believe that it should be conducted in front of the class and under proper control. It should be carried out in front of the class so that they know full well that a certain child is a miscreant. It is a quick way in which to deal with him. The decision to cane the child should be instant, so that he does not have to wait all day, queuing outside the headmaster's door, as we had to.

A record of the use of the cane should be kept so that there is no question of an illegal caning. It is important that the decision on corporal punishment should be made locally. In that way, the governors, the head and the parents are involved in a local decision.

On occasions, a caning can rehabilitate a child extremely quickly. Some people have said that a good whacking has done no one any harm, and I like to think that it has not done me any harm yet. I can remember children going scrumping. In the old days, the local bobby would take them to one side and clip them around the ear, but they did not go before the beak. The children were taken to their parents, who were informed that they had been scrumping. The children received the punishment there and then. That saved court time and, I believe, reduced juvenile crime. We have heard of some of the idiots at universities who have stolen policemen's helmets and cannot become barristers because their record has been blotted for life.

Of the parents whose children attend English-speaking schools, 63 per cent. favour the occasional use of corporal punishment. We are trying to make it available when a local school wants it. I am a governor of a couple of schools, and in one school a girl kicked a teacher in the stomach. I should have thought that that child could be sorted out at the school, but she has been expelled. Does that succeed? Instant discipline could have been used to control that child and would have ensured that she had a second chance. That is what we are talking about —giving our young children a second chance.

I do not like the idea of cane-free zones, rather like nuclear-free zones, so that one can shop around for a school that does not have the cane. I accept that if we have corporal punishment, some schools will not have it. That is not a retrograde step, because parents can move their children on to schools that have corporal punishment.

Mr. Fatchett


Mr. Bruinvels

I feel that some parents are copping out and that some are unprepared to discipline their children. They are putting too much responsibility on teachers to discipline their children. That is not the best way. Discipline begins at home, as does respect.

Many hon. Members have referred to the European Court of Human Rights, and it is a big bugbear tonight. We are the United Kingdom, and we do not have to do whatever the European Court tells us. I believe that it would be better if we could forget what the European Court has said. The Isle of Man had the birch until the European Court interfered, and until then the behaviour rate had been considerably better than it is now. There is a British way of doing things, a British tradition, and that is lost if we listen to everything that is said by the European Court.

What is wrong with punishment fitting the crime? We all believe in trying to improve the lot of our fellow people and in making our children better citizens. A good point came out of "Better Schools" which in summary says that schools must secure good order and create positive attitudes towards good behaviour in all that they do. The effectiveness of schools in promoting good behaviour, and more importantly, self discipline, has an effect on wider social problems, such as juvenile crime.

The public expect little Joe or little Jill to behave better than he or she does, and this amendment may ensure that. We have heard a lot of what STOPP has said, and I recognised certain comments that were read out by hon. Friends. I do not believe any child has been physically abused by the cane, and, more important, the use of the cane has not been abused.

Mr. James Hamilton (Motherwell, North)

The hon. Member talks about children not being abused, but if he looks at The Standard for this evening he will see a horrific photograph. I have two daughters in the teaching profession and I represent part of Strathclyde region, which governs more than half the educational population of Scotland. The region has departed from corporal punishment and my daughters have found that to be an effective and successful move.

8.45 pm
Mr. Bruinvels

We have already had the photograph in The Standard drawn to our attention tonight. I have read the report, and it is a shocking indictment. There is obviously a sub judice rule, and as we do not have the whole report we should wait and see. If the hon. Gentleman has listened to my speech he will have heard me say that caning must be conducted under proper control, in proper circumstances, and should be properly recorded. I believe the case reported in The Standard should not have happened, but I believe that it is an isolated one.

We must ensure that the standard of behaviour in our schools is acceptable to society. We must ensure that it is retained as a local decision, and that each head, parent, and governing body can decide on what must be done. There is nothing wrong in giving the head that power to impose discipline. Many head teachers want that power. They will not get a great deal of excitement out of using it, and indeed its use may show up a failure in the school, but it may have a shattering effect and immediately improve discipline. That is what we want to see.

Tonight we have a free vote on this issue, and that is very unusual. This is a darned good amendment, which will ensure proper standards in our schools. If the amendment saves young people from being beaten up and enables them to gain a qualification by staying on at school instead of being treated as a social failure, it will achieve a great deal. I support the amendment.

Mr. Bell

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels). In his private life he is a magnanimous person but he finds himself in the Chamber defending causes which must be difficult to defend.

I think he has been overtaken by events. Earlier the hon. Gentleman said that he did not believe there was an abuse of the caning procedure. He had to be referred to the article in tonight's London Standard, which is a clear abuse of that procedure. The hon. Gentleman sought refuge in the law of sub judice but there is no sub judice about this case, as no court action is pending. Therefore, we are entitled to refer to the photograph in The London Standard and to refer to this example of the worst aspects of caning.

We have heard a great deal of anecdotal evidence. The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) referred to an anecdotal experience when she was a magistrate. She said that someone from the Isle of Man said that he would not repeat an offence because of the birch. Such anecdotal evidence does not add to the argument. I believe the argument has been cogently put tonight and I believe that those who are against corporal punishment have won the argument. It is my intention to seek to assist the House in voting so that if the argument has been won on the Floor of the House, the vote may also be won in the Division Lobby.

I was the vice-chairman of the Newcastle education committee when it abolished corporal punishment in 1982. The Committee did so against great local opposition and against a referendum which had been enacted by the bureaucracy in education in Newcastle. That referendum sought to show that 82 per cent. of those who were canvassed believed in corporal punishment. We on Newcastle city council took our decision seriously and we abolished corporal punishment. Newcastle's system of education has been much improved and discipline has not lapsed. Indeed, we now have a better system of discipline in Newcastle than we had before.

I was quite startled by the figures that the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) gave. He mentioned Cleveland, which is my county, and high levels of corporal punishment there. I hope that the figures have diminished since 1983 and that caning is now rare. I am aware that the education committee there has gone to some lengths to ameliorate matters.

The hon. Member for Salisbury also took us through the historic arguments. Anybody who reads the memoirs of Lord Curzon will realise the impact that severe caning had on him and how it affected his approach to life. We also know what canings did to Winston Churchill. I am sure that St. John's, Leatherhead, the school of the hon. Member for Leicester, East, will be pleased to see him here tonight, caning or otherwise. We know that caning leaves deep mental and physical impressions on those who are subjected to it. It is clear what psychological effect regular beatings had on Lord Curzon. The hon. Member for Salisbury said that judicial flogging ended in 1948. We hope to end caning tonight.

We have had a great deal of argument about the European Court of Human Rights. The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) took an astonishing approach. He seemed to say that morality and law could be distinguished, that law is not based on morality and that the fact that we have signed the European Convention on Human Rights does not oblige us morally to follow the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Signing that convention means that we are honour bound and legally bound to follow the Court's decisions.

Since the 1982 decision involving Campbell and Cosans, the Government have not come to terms with the moral dilemma or with the legal obligation to make corporal punishment illegal. The result is that we are debating the Bill. The Secretary of State believes that these matters should be left to governing bodies and heads. He has not mentioned pupils. It is for the Government to take a moral stand. They must take account of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights and stop the present dual system of discipline in schools. The Government are obliged to take the lead and not to try to hedge their bets with some of their Back Benchers.

Corporal punishment is not necessary. Other systems of discipline have been referred to. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) mentioned France, where social security payments are withheld for truancy. The French have said that that punishment is used only rarely. Corporal punishment has, however, been abolished in France and the Republic of Ireland. Other means of dealing with discipline problems have been found.

Mr. Pawsey

When the hon. Gentleman says that the penalty in France is not used frequently, is he not underlining the case for the cane, in that both have a deterrent effect? Neither has to be used frequently for there to be a deterrent effect.

Mr. Bell

We have heard a great deal about deterrent effect. There is no way in which to show that corporal punishment has a deterrent effect. I was subjected to corporal punishment at school, and it did not deter me —it made me more obtuse and difficult. I was a less good pupil as a result. Some teacher counselling would have had a much greater impact. I say that in no sense of recrimination against the school—it was the logic of the time—but it did not do me any good.

We have won the argument in favour of abolishing corporal punishment, and I hope that we win the vote. This has been an interesting and useful debate. It has had its historical analogies and its anecdotal evidence. We have had arguments for and against, in the best traditions of the House. The House has a free vote tonight. The Opposition are whipped because we strongly oppose corporal punishment, but the House has a unique opportunity at this late stage in the session to make a mark and to get rid of corporal punishment and thus a dual system of discipline. We can make it clear to every school, every headmaster, every board of governors and every education committee what their obligations are. Other forms of discipline can be found. That would be in the interests of pupils, who have been referred to least during the debate. I will gladly vote for the abolition of corporal punishment, and I urge the House to do the same.

Mr. Evennett

In view of the length of the debate and the lateness of the hour, I shall be extremely brief.

This is an important issue, but it is not as important as many other education issues which we could have debated, such as standards, finance and excellence. I am a product of a grammar school, as many Conservative Members are, and a former teacher. Experiences in the public school system are not really relevant to the majority of people, because 95 per cent. of children go to state schools. We must never forget that the public school system, excellent though it is, has the ultimate right to expel pupils who are badly behaved or who commit indiscipline. It is not so easy in the state system. Where can they be expelled to from there?

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)


9 pm

Mr. Evennett

My support for the retention of corporal punishment rests on two principles. First, I believe that the majority of parents in this country and certainly in my part of the country favour the retention of corporal punishment. Secondly, we have heard about certain offences in schools such as assaults on teachers and bullying fellow pupils in the playground, which I believe are extremely serious and deserve serious punishment. I believe that in such cases the cane can be effective both as a deterrent and as a punishment.

Members have referred to the article in The London Standard today. No-one would support such rare but well-publicised abuses of corporal punishment. The use of the cane must be reasonable and administered by the headmaster. It is for the school and the head of the school to determine what punishment is used for children who commit certain offences at school, and I believe that the cane has a very limited role to play in the modern school.

I am glad that Conservative Members have a free vote on this. It is interesting that the Opposition, who supposedly believe in freedom of choice on moral issues, have imposed a Whip. That is highly regrettable.

In my view it is for the head, for the school and for parents to ensure that the discipline in the school is adequate to allow education to continue. From my experience in London, as a parent, a governor and a teacher, I am well aware of some of the problems in inner London schools which do not have the cane and do not have adequate discipline. Regrettably, there are some schools in which very little education takes place because there is no discipline. It will not do for anyone in the House to pass the buck and say that there are alternatives when no one has told the people of this country of any real alternative. There has been talk of expulsion, money and other measures but in certain circumstances those alternatives may not be so effective as the cane.

Conservative contributions today have shown that we want a good education for all children in this country. That necessitates good discipline, because without it good education is impossible. Without discipline in the classroom and in the playground, there will be fear—children who cannot learn because they are frightened to go to school and teachers who are frightened to teach because of the indiscipline in some schools.

Regrettable though corporal punishment may be, I believe that its maintenance in the state school system is essential as a deterrent and as a punishment, but it must be used reasonably and rarely. I support the amendment.

Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)

I wish to answer just one point about what does or does not make a good discipline in schools.

Having trained teachers for 10 years, I assure the House that it is almost impossible to say what makes one teacher a good disciplinarian and another teacher a poor disciplinarian. I believe that good classroom disciplinarians are born and not made. If a teacher does not have any natural sense of authority over the pupils nothing very much will be taught. It has also been my experience that if a teacher is a weak disciplinarian the availability of the cane will not make that teacher a strong disciplinarian.

I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) because he has been a practitioner and in these matters an ounce of experience is worth a ton of indignant theory. A good many teachers in this country believe that there are certain marginal circumstances in which the use of the cane may make a difference. There are teachers who use the cane but are by no means brutal or uncaring. They use the cane sparingly and they openly say that they use it as one of the tools of professional control which they rightly see as part of the framework of professional responsibility in the classroom.

Nevertheless, we ought now to do without corporal punishment in our schools. Some of the circumstances have already been described accurately, because I have experienced them myself. I have seen situations in which a teacher wishes to take the lesson but can get no order or decent quiet. What is to be done in such a situation? I can assure the House that it is not the cane. That will not restore order, because fundamental indiscipline in a school is due to fundamental factors, and the use of the cane is only effective, if at all, in marginal circumstances.

In the old Victorian board schools, the cane was kept on the desk and physical punishment was meted out instantly. In some of our schools there is no corporal punishment because they would not have it as part of the ethos of those schools. I have been in schools where great use is made of the cane, and the discipline is very bad. I have been in other schools in which the cane has been used moderately and the discipline has been fair to good. I am saying that there is no correlation between the use of the cane and good order and discipline in a school.

Hon. Members are right: unless we have discipline—that is the old-fashioned but right word—there must be order and discipline, peace and quiet for kids to learn. But at the end of the day, a weak disciplinarian is not fortified by the cane. He or she will continue to be bad, and nothing is restored by the cane.

Conservative Members have challenged my hon. Friends to suggest alternatives, but the alternative goes to the root of the training of teachers. We must be much more careful whom we select to do this very important job. Part and parcel of a teacher's mental make-up must be that sense of authority that brings about law and order. If the wrong people are put into classrooms, we can give them a great bundle of canes but it will make no difference whatsoever.

We are debating fundamental matters. When we talk about the cane as an instrument of discipline, we are talking about something that is on the fringe of the problem. If we concentrate only on what good the stick will do, we shall have missed the fundamentals altogether.

Mr. Budgen

The House ought to be very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) for the careful way in which he set out the obligations that the Government have and the obligations, if any, that the House has.

The Government find themselves in an interesting position. In 1982, they were ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to abolish corporal punishment, but the natural instincts of the Tory party are to retain corporal punishment. The Government were caught between their treaty obligations to the European convention on human rights and the natural prejudices and views of the Tory party, and since 1982, have been delaying and tackling hither and thither in an attempt to reconcile two irreconcilable groups of people.

They now find that the other place has come to much the same conclusion as my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), and has said that a sort of halfway house is of no logical significance at all, that it is a nonsense, that the best way to demonstrate that we are prepared 10 obey this order of a foreign court is to abolish the whole thing. Indeed, that is what the court order of 1982 leads to.

My hon. Friend the Member for Withington was absolutely right. The Government are under an obligation to introduce legislation which will cause the law to conform to the order of the court. On the other hand, the House is not under any obligation to be persuaded by the arguments of the Executive. We are in this strange position because the Executive is drawn from the legislature and it is difficult for a Minister to say to the House, especially to his Conservative colleagues, "I know that there is not a majority in the Conservative party for the complete abolition of corporal punishment, I know that for better or for worse the prejudice of my hon. Friends will be in favour of keeping this form of discipline, even if it is rarely used. Although I would prefer to retain corporal punishment, I ask you to vote against corporal punishment so that we may obey a foreign court." The Secretary of State does not say that. The Government must tack from position to position, trying to do the impossible, as, indeed, they have done since 1982.

My hon. Friend the Member for Withington said that I was being too clever and awkward in anticipating that if the House voted for new clause 20, it would give rise to further litigation. My hon. Friend may not have had the pleasure of dealing with many litigants. One of the common characteristics of litigants is that they are nearly as awkward as I am. He should understand that the Mrs. Gillicks of this world feel strongly and are often looking for an issue to fight for.

If the House decides to agree to new clause 20, some parents in future who send their child, for example, to a local comprehensive, will agree that their child may be beaten, if that child breaches the discipline of the school. They will do so in the usual inconsistent way in which many of us go along with things of which we disapprove, perhaps because that school is the best disciplined school or because they think that their child will do well there and go on to a good university. None of us send our children to school expecting that our little Johnny will be beaten. We all think that somebody else's little Johnny will be beaten. When their little Johnny is lined up to be beaten, they will try to withdraw their consent, but many teachers will say, "You have consented to your child being beaten and you can jolly well take the consequences of that because that consent will not be withdrawn."

My hon. Friend has said that I am too speculative about this, but if these proposals are accepted, some parent will go to the European Court of Human Rights and say, "You are a supervisory body. You have told the British people that they should abolish corporal punishment. With the usual hypocrisy and evasion of the British people they have tried to get round your direct order and that arrogant sovereign House of Commons has thought up some subterfuge. It is about time it was put in its place."

I hope that the House votes for new clause 20, and I anticipate that somebody will go to the European Court of Human Rights because anyone who has heard this and previous debates knows that people feel strongly about corporal punishment. It is almost inevitable that some parent will go to the European Court.

This is something which the House should decide. In future, when a Left-wing Government comes into power, of whatever coalition grouping, corporal punishment may be abolished. That would be a reasonable thing for a sovereign House of Commons to do. What is not right is that a Tory Government, against their instinct and against the wishes of those who elected them, should be forced by an external court to do something which goes against the present instincts of the majority of the British people.

I shall vote for new clause 20 in the clear knowledge that it probably will not stick. I salute now the future equivalent of Mrs. Gillick, or someone whom my hon. Friend the Member for Withington would describe as unreasonable—the litigant, the unreasonable person—who will take the matter to the European Court. Sooner or later the House and the nation will realise that this sort of sensitive and important issue is best decided here.

9.15 pm
Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

I am sorry that we have spent so much time on what I consider to be a rather unimportant clause in what is generally a good Bill. I remind the House that earlier this week we spent two and half hours, and only that, on the fight against crime. Last week we spent three hours on the problems of the tin industry. Tonight we have spent over four hours on corporal punishment in schools. It is fair to say, if only to prove wrong the claim of the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett), that the alliance is not whipped for the vote on the amendment. It is for us., as it is for Conservative Members, a free vote. I believe that the majority of alliance Members are deeply and fundamentally opposed to corporal punishment in schools.

I am personally opposed to corporal punishment in schools. I do not think that it does any good. I have yet to meet an educationist for whom I have respect who believes that corporal punishment is a good way of combating indiscipline or making pupils better.

I have listened to the entire debate with great care, and it is significant that only a minority of Members—they are all sitting on the Government Benches — have spoken in favour of corporal punishment. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) seemed to feel that if a teacher kept a cane in a corner of a classroom his purpose would somehow be served. Education by fear is not an acceptable way of education and I oppose it.

The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) seemed to say that a teacher should hit, but not hard. He felt that crime was best dealt with by violence. I have little faith in that solution.

The hon. Member for Bristol, East (Mr. Sayeed) suggested in an intervention that if a majority of parents or governors wanted corporal punishment, they should have it. I am sorry that someone who comes from Burke's old constituency should feel that there is that special knowledge in a majority which wants anything. If we obtained opinions from the majority of people, we would find that they were against income tax and many other things which we, with our superior knowledge, know that we cannot do without.

The hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) advanced an interesting argument when he said that a clip around the ear has never harmed anyone. For every 20 children who received a clip around the ear as a summary form of justice, half a dozen of them were not guilty and grew up with a deep resentment against the law, which gave the right, without any sort of jury system, to hit children, including the old-fashioned clip around the ear. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there was the odd child who became better for it, but there were many who felt, "That man has done something to me that was unjust." Instead of becoming good citizens, they became that much worse.

Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes)

I wonder how many children, not having suffered instant retribution for whatever they were guilty of, have been led to believe that they could commit further sins—or indeed, crimes —and get off?

Mr. Freud

That is an entertaining argument. I believe that any child who got off was enormously grateful for his or her good luck; but he may have felt guilty. We would wish to encourage a feeling of guilt rather than to beat children into submission.

Hitting children is the easy option. It does not wash. I have yet to meet a good schoolmaster who favoured it. I refer to the speech by the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), who was by all accounts a good schoolmaster. Many years ago, the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) made the memorable remark that there are schoolmasters who can do a brilliant job of work with a class of 30 or 35, and there are those who will have a riot with one dead rabbit. I believe that he was right. Schoolmasters who beat from a sense of weakness bring education into ill repute.

Finally, those who believe that beating or caning children performs some function should realise that that is not what we are voting on tonight. We have two alternatives this evening. One is to abolish corporal punishment. The other is to create a divisive system in which two children who have committed the same crime are given different punishments. We must consider not what we think might be good or bad but the amendment paper and the alternatives. I ask the House to vote for the retention of clauses 44 and 45 and to reject the amendments.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

In the city of Bradford there is considerable interest in education and in the issue of corporal punishment. On Friday, our evening newspaper, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, published a survey of the views of a number of headmasters of upper schools in Bradford, including their views on corporal punishment. I was glad to see the Secretary of State return to the Chamber. He was pictured in Saturday's edition of the newspaper reading the survey which had been driven to him at a conference that he was attending in the midlands.

Seventeen of the 24 head teachers responded to the survey. Fourteen of the 17 did not want corporal punishment even as a last resort. The summary of the survey's findings stated: the balance of opinion narrowly says today's standards … are at least as good as they were two decades ago. And if discipline is necessary it shouldn't be with a cane or slipper, say 82 per cent. But while Bradford Council takes legal advice on scrapping corporal punishment, only 18 per cent. want it kept as a final deterrent. The survey also revealed: 16 out of 17 say staff morale has taken a tumble since the year-long teachers' strike … 16 out of 17 say links with parents have suffered in the last year. I believe that if we vote against corporal punishment tonight, many of those matters will be improved. Staff morale will be improved, and so will classroom discipline and relations with parents. During our debate it has become clear that there is considerable evidence that corporal punishment is counterproductive, fostering bitterness, alienation and hostility. It is the cause of bad discipline, not the cure for it. There is ample academic evidence to show that that is the case.

There is considerable evidence to show that pupil-teacher relationships are improved if there is an absence of corporal punishment. Certainly there is considerable evidence to show that in areas where corporal punishment has been abolished there is no sign of classroom discipline deteriorating or suspensions increasing.

We have heard from many who have come from teaching backgrounds in the debate, what many of us know from our own experience at school, that only bad teachers need to resort to corporal punishment — the cane and other means—to impose any sort of discipline or order in their classrooms.

We also know that teachers have gone beyond what is defined as reasonable and moderate corporal punishment. There have been many references to the case reported in The London Standard today. We also know of the cases which have gone to the courts where teachers have been found not guilty after beating boys with a riding crop; caning a 12-year-old boy to bleeding point for shoddy work, bursting a boy's eardrum by slapping him around the face, and caning a nine-year-old boy on the thighs so severely that a police surgeon said in court that "excessive force" had been used causing weals and deep abrasions.

Commenting on the survey to which I referred in my opening comments, the newspaper's editoral said: We don't want our young people to get on their bikes and seek work in Slough or Reading. We want them to stay here and help revitalize our city with energy and imagination. But first we need to give them an education to prepare them for that task. We want to turn out people equipped to help the city to march forward with hope, rather than stand in the dole queue with despair. We can't do that in schools that are falling down, with staff who are so demoralized that vision as educators is replaced by thoughts of an early pension. We have asked often enough for help. Now is the time to demand that the Government raises its eyes from the Home Counties, looks Northward, and gives major provincial centres like Bradford the cash to repair the launch pads from which their educational systems, and their futures, can soar. I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) that the debate will be seen by many parents as a complete irrelevance to the plight of the schools which their children are attending. The concerns of parents are with standards in our schools, their fabric and equipment, the sufficiency of teachers, their quality and pay and the quality of books available to their children. Those are the issues that lie at the centre of the concern of so many of our constituents about the education services that we provide.

If tonight we sweep away corporal punishment for ever, we shall have done a service to our schools. We shall certainly have done a service to our pupils in those schools, to teachers and to parents. It is time for the House to take a decision; and I am sure that that decision will be to abolish corporal punishment in our schools.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

We have had a useful debate, although I regret that we have spent so much time talking about one aspect of discipline in schools, corporal punishment, and not more time on all the other issues. I am sure that the House is united in wanting there to be good order and discipline in our schools.

If the amendment that was moved by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) is carried, not only will the House have spent a great deal of time talking about one aspect of discipline, but a lot of school governors will he encouraged in the next few months to spend a lot of time talking about corporal punishment rather than talking about the much wider issues of good order and discipline in schools. I hope at least that the governing bodies will realise that they should give as much, if not more, time to other aspects of discipline in their schools rather than to simply concentrate on corporal punishment.

I must also stress that we are not really talking about whether we are in favour or against corporal punishment. We are talking about the problems that have been created as a result of the European Convention and the European Court's Judgment. The hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) made that point. We have to face up to the fact that the Government have attempted to legislate on this issue. Last year, through the intellectual skills of the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), the former Secretary of State, and the skills of the Department of Education and Science, the Government tried to find a scheme which was workable and within the law as it was laid down as a result of the judgment of the European Court. The House was extremely sceptical about the scheme and whether it was workable. The House of Lords correctly threw the Bill out as totally unworkable.

9.30 pm

The present Secretary of State is choosing to say that the Government, having failed to find a workable solution to the problem, will hand the problem over to the governors of individual schools. It may be that some governors will be more able than the Government machine to produce a solution. However, Ministers will be copping out if the clause comes out of the Bill as Ministers wish. If the clause comes out, they can leave it to the governors. However, very few governors will have among their number a lawyer who can work out whether the actions that they might propose to retain corporal punishment will or will not be legal. I would at least suggest that if the Government want to retain corporal punishment as a choice for governors, they should present governors with a workable scheme which would be legal. It would be unfortunate if governors spent a great deal of time arguing about the merits of corporal punishment and then found that they could not turn it into a workable scheme or that they could not gain the confidence of the teachers who would have to adminster it, because they feared that there would be a court action and the whole thing would degenerate into farce.

Good discipline in schools involves maintaining the authority of the school. Nothing destroys the authority of a school more than the uncertainty of the law and the possibility of individual parents taking teachers to court with the chance of winning their court action.

Conservative Members have referred to corporal punishment but have said that they do not want to use it, they merely want to have it present as a deterrent. Anyone with practical school experience knows that the vast majority of pupils who misbehave do not do so thinking that they might be caught. They misbehave in the belief that they will get away with it. A deterrent only works if they assume that they will be caught. Very few pupils who misbehave do so on the assumption that they will be caught. A very small number do assume that they will be caught but misbehave because they wish to draw attention to themselves and seek to be punished. There are other ways to deal with these pupils, and it would he foolish to make martyrs of them by using corporal punishment.

It has also been suggested that one survey shows that many parents are in favour of corporal punishment. I suspect that the majority of parents are in favour of corporal punishment for other people's children and not for their own. I once worked in a school where the head insisted that he should write to parents to inform them that he was thinking of applying corporal punishment to their child for misbehaviour. This was a most sensible procedure. However, he was amazed at the number of parents who wrote back to say that although they were in favour of corporal punishment, for one reason or another, it should not be applied to their child. The real test is, how many people would be in favour of corporal punishment for their child? I suspect that not too many would be in favour.

I would also like to consider the question about the choice of school. Conservative Members have argued that one solution to the problem is to allow people to have a choice between a school in which corporal punishment will be administered and one where it will not. That is nonsense. In many parts of rural Britain, these choices do not exist. In fact, we are getting rid of the nearest school for most children, the local village school. It is nonsense to think that they will have a choice of school. That applies to many urban areas. Because of the problems connected with walking to school on account of traffic and other difficulties, the idea that parents can be offered a choice between a school that uses corporal punishment and a school that does not use it is also nonsense.

As a young teacher I administered corporal punishment. I felt then that it was unsatisfactory and wrong, and I was not happy about it. I am still not happy about it. My excuse is that the ethos of the school where I taught put pressure on the teachers. Also I taught groups of 40 or more pupils. Most teachers do not have to do that today. But corporal punishment did not solve any of the problems.

Conservative Members have to face up to certain problems connected with corporal punishment. Is it to be administered because it is a disgrace to the pupil who receives it? If that is the reason for administering corporal punishment, there are alternatives to it that signify that the pupil is in disgrace. Or is corporal punishment to be administered not because it disgraces the pupil but because it inflicts pain? Major problems are involved if the intention is to inflict pain.

Furthermore, the alert secondary school pupil knows how to counter corporal punishment. He says, "It didn't hurt, Sir." Many pupils refuse to accept corporal punishment; they will not obey the instruction to hold out their hand or to bend over. In my early teaching career I witnessed some very undignified incidents when teachers tried to administer corporal punishment without the consent of the pupil. In certain schools pupils manage to glory in the number of their beatings; they call themselves the cocks of the school because of the number of beatings that they have received. That does not improve discipline in schools. Those who have seen corporal punishment administered in schools where general discipline is poor must feel as strongly as I that it should be abolished. We must try to teach self-discipline in schools. We must demonstrate to young people that they ought to want to behave and co-operate and that if their consent cannot be won a series of sanctions can be applied which, far more effectively than corporal punishment, will achieve good discipline in schools.

As for the judgment, I ask those hon. Members who are to speak after me in the debate to demonstrate that the governors could introduce a workable, legal scheme that would not create two classes of child, to one of which corporal punishment could be applied although it could not be applied to the other.

Mr. Marlow

Were this House to pass a scheme of corporal punishment, is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that it would not be legal?

Mr. Bennett

This amendment does not ask us to pass a scheme. We are being asked to remove the abolition of corporal punishment from the Bill. Last year the Government put forward a scheme which they thought would meet the requirements laid down in the judgments of the European Court. Everybody believed that scheme to be a nonsense. Conservative Members were very reluctant to vote for it at second Reading. However, the Bill made progress through this House. However, the other place threw it out. No hon. Member really believes that the other place was not right to throw out an unworkable scheme. If the Government were introducing a workable alternative scheme, that might be satisfactory, but they are not. They imply that the governors will have to dream up a scheme that is more practical than the one that the Government put forward last year and that is also legal.

As I said earlier, if the Minister with a whole Government Department behind him cannot produce a scheme it is a little unrealistic to expect individual governing bodies to produce one that is legal and workable. It is difficult to produce a legal and workable scheme. We have two alternatives: we can continue to leave it to governing bodies, and in practice that will lead to slow abolition after a great deal of time wasted in debate, or we can accept the clear opportunity to rid ourselves of corporal punishment and to take a major step in concentrating everybody's mind on genuinely improving discipline in schools rather than exacting retribution on a small number of people.

Mr. Chris Patten

There are two things on which we can at least all agree. First, we all agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) that no litigant could conceivably be as awkward as he. Secondly, we would all agree that this has been a long debate. I commend the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) opened the debate several hours ago. We have heard some interesting speeches; I refer especially to the speech by the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) which was extremely calm and clear. I should also mention the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester). I agree with his comment about a number of the arguments having gone considerably over the top.

I said the debate has been long and some people might take the view that it has been overlong. I shall be as brief as possible, because I know that the House wants to decide the matter. I do not think that many of the things said in the debate will change the minds of hon. Members one way or another.

I shall speak first to amendments Nos. 153 and 165, which seek to delete clauses 44 and 45. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said on Second Reading, every hon. Member has a view about whether corporal punishment should be retained as an available sanction. It is an entirely proper subject for a free vote and I am sorry that that view is not shared by the Opposition Front Bench. I have made that point before.

I emphasise that there is no question of any pressure being applied to any of my right hon. or hon. Friends about how they should vote. I want to stress that, because it was suggested from time to time on Second Reading. There were a number of winks and nudges and nose strokings going on, implying that there were free votes and free votes. I make it clear that this is a free free vote and I am sorry that that is not the case with the Opposition. I am glad that they have therefore found something on which they can agree.

The House will recall the recent history of this subject. Last session we introduced a Bill to give parents of pupils educated at state expense the right to exempt them from corporal punishment. That Bill fell, following an amendment narrowly carried on Report in another place, which in effect abolished corporal punishment. This session, an amendment abolishing corporal punishment was made to the present Bill in another place and this time the amendment was carried by an even narrower majority, of two. In Committee the Government have remedied deficiencies in the provision which was inserted.

Clauses 44 and 45 introduce five significant changes. First, they provide for the abolition of corporal punishment in Scotland and pave the way for similar action in Northern Ireland by Order in Council. Secondly, they cover pupils being educated otherwise than at school, and thirdly, they leave independent schools free to retain corporal punishment, except for pupils who are being educated at public expense, under the assisted places scheme for example, who would not be subject to the sanction. Fourthly, the clauses restrict the liability of a teacher who imposes corporal punishment to an action through the civil courts rather than, as proposed in another place, through the civil or criminal courts. I stress that this is where the punishment is moderate and reasonable. If it is not, the teacher, as now, can face criminal proceedings.

Fifth and last, subsection (3) of each clause provides for a teacher to be able to restrain pupils to avert an immediate danger of personal injury or damage to property. In those circumstances, the teacher must be able to use all reasonable measures, including the actions that could come under the heading of reasonable corporal punishment. Teachers need this important provision to be able to deal with outbreaks of violence and other emergencies.

9.45 pm

The House can take a decision on two clauses that, if they remain in the Bill, will abolish corporal punishment in the maintained sector in England, Wales and Scotland and make teachers who use it liable to civil proceedings. If the clauses are passed, abolition will be extended to Northern Ireland, by means of an Order in Council. The date on which abolition will come into effect will be laid down by a commencement order under clause 60. The Government would propose 15 August 1987—that is, from the beginning of the school year after next, so that the schools affected have time to adjust their disciplinary policies and procedures.

However, if the House agrees with the amendments and deletes clauses 44 and 45, the legal position will remain unchanged. Teachers will continue to have the right, by virtue of being in loco parentis, to use moderate and reasonable corporal punishment. I should emphasise that we are talking only about moderate and reasonable punishment. If it is not, the teacher can be prosecuted.

Mr. Bell

The hon. Gentleman used the words "moderate and reasonable". What would he say of the picture that was in The London Standard tonight?

Mr. Patten

The hon. Gentleman knows that I am not dodging the question in saying that that may well be a matter for the courts and it would be wholly improper for me to offer an observation. The position is clear about moderate and reasonable punishment. If it is not moderate and reasonable, the teacher can be prosecuted.

If the House agrees with the amendments, then, as my right hon. Friend said on Second Reading, the Government would look to the new governing bodies in England and Wales to make arrangements in accordance with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights that philosophical convictions of parents should be respected. It will be for the governing body to work out with the head teacher and parents what arrangements will be most appropriate for the particular school. However, when the governing body has laid down the general policy for the school, it will of course be for the head teacher, using his professional judgement, to decide within the framework of the policy how to deal with each individual case.

The Government cannot accept new clause 20, moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway). I pay tribute to his knowledge of these matters and to his knowledge of more positive aspects of education policy. We do not agree with the principles that the new clause embodies. The principles on which the disciplinary regime are founded are a key part of the conduct of the school. This is a point that we discussed at great length in Committee. The Bill gives a general responsibility for the conduct of the school to the governing body. It would fatally flaw this responsibility if, in the matter of the principles of discipline, the judgment of the head teacher could overrule that of the governing body.

I accept that the day-to-day responsibility for discipline should rest with the head teacher, but the availability of corporal punishment as a sanction in schools must be a matter for the governing body to decide, although in consultation with the head teacher, and taking account of the views of parents. Clause 22(1)(b) requires the head teacher to have regard to any written statement of general principles provided by the governing body, and it would run counter to that requirement if the head teacher were to go against the preference of a governing body not to have corporal punishment in a school. In some cases, the governing body, having regard to the views of parents, might be content to leave the decision to the head teacher, but that is clearly not the situation that my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North has in mind.

Reverting to clauses 44 and 45, we would, if the amendments were carried, keep a close watch on how governing bodies handled the matter. In the circular which would follow the Act, we would explain to all governing bodies the necessity of respecting parents' philosophical convictions. That guidance will apply not only to the newly constituted governing bodies which were not in prospect when we promoted the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill last Session, but also to existing governing bodies while they continue.

Moreover, we should take advantage of the fact that, as soon as the Bill comes into force, the provision for the annual parents' meeting will apply to every governing body. Our circular would ask the governing body of a school which now applies corporal punishment to put the issue, including the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, to the first annual parents' meeting so as to assist the governing body in reaching a decision which respects that ruling.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Will the Minister make it clear when he talks about the governing body that that applies to England and Wales? In Scotland, presumably that function would be carried out by the local education authority.

Mr. Patten

Quite so. The hon. Member for Falkirk, East, in his admirable speech, put the position much more clearly than I could.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear in his speech on Second Reading that, in his personal view, the decision on the retention or abolition of corporal punishment should be left to the governing body, the head teacher and the parents. I share that opinion, for two reasons. First, some head teachers and staff face considerable difficulties in maintaining discipline. I do not believe that those head teachers who wish to retain corporal punishment regard it as the ultimate sanction. I do not regard it as that, but it is one possible sanction. Its retention or abolition does not constitute an issue of conscience of the first magnitude.

I put it on record that I agree with some of the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Withington on that issue. Many other controversies raise much greater issues of conscience, but corporal punishment is regarded by many knowledgable and responsible educationists as a valuable disciplinary instrument. We should not lightly deprive them of it.

I go further: at a time when there is justified anxiety about disruption in our schools, the abolition of corporal punishment would send out the wrong signals. It might be considered a weakening of the position of head teachers, which is the last thing we want.

Secondly, if we wish to strengthen the position of governing bodies and parents in matters connected with the conduct of the school—I realise that the Opposition are somewhat schizophrenic on that point, but that is what the Bill seeks to do—it would make no sense to take the decision on a matter such as corporal punishment away from governing bodies and parents. That would be contrary to the entire thrust of the Bill.

I do not suggest that corporal punishment should be retained if the governing body does not believe it is necessary. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) was not suggesting earlier that that was my opinion. I do suggest, however, that it should be for the governing body to decide. I am prepared to trust the good sense of governing bodies and head teachers and their willingness to act in accordance with the guidance we shall give them on the respect due to the philosophical convictions of parents. Those convictions would be respected, and we shall check whether they are. If that belief proved ill-founded, the Government would need to consider further legislative measures.

I respect the sincerely held opinion of those who take a different view, but, on balance—I repeat that, for me, it is a question of balance—that is the conclusion which I reach. I therefore support Amendments Nos. 153 and 165 which were moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth.

I hope that, if the amendments are passed, in due course my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North will not feel obliged to press his new clause 20 to a vote. If he does, I shall have to vote against it for the reasons which I sought to adduce earlier. I repeat that, on balance, there is an argument for voting for amendments Nos. 153 and 165. I am delighted that the Leader of the Opposition is with us tonight. On this issue at least he has united his party on a three-line Whip.

Mr. Pawsey

I have sat throughout the whole of this long and interesting debate. Speeches may occasionally have contained a measure of exaggeration and may have sometimes, as my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) said, gone over the top, but in general they were sincere.

I was educated wholly in the state sector and so were my children. My experience suggests that schools know their pupils best and know the best method of ensuring discipline. Therefore, I remain convinced that abolition of corporal punishment would result in more suspensions, more expulsions and more detentions. Incidentally, there can be no justification for severe caning, as described by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden). That is not acting in loco parentis as a moderate and reasonable parent would.

The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) called for abolition, but I doubt whether many Members on this side were convinced by his arguments. He certainly did not make any real suggestions for maintaining discipline in our schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, South (Mr. Bright) gave several examples of the improper use of the cane. But it is an exaggeration to say that two or three bad cases blacken the case for corporal punishment. After all, would he condemn the 400,000 teachers in this country on the basis of how 10 or 12 of them behave?

It is not true that a vote for the amendments is a vote for chaos. A vote for the amendments is a vote for choice. Does the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) honestly believe that an analogy can be drawn between corporal punishment and slavery and votes for women? On reflection, he may agree that he went over the top and was less than fair. My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North made a speech full of conviction. He spoke with knowledge that is based on long experience as a teacher — [Interruption.]He rightly emphasised that corporal punishment was used only in the most exceptional and severe cases. As he correctly said, corporal punishment is the backstop that is used in our schools.

I come to the speech of the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing)—[Interruption.]—who rightly chided me for failing—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman moved the amendment and has a right to be heard when uttering his final brief words.

Mr. Pawsey

I can take a judicious hint, but I must say that the hon. Member for Falkirk, East was right to chide me and I thank him for the courteous and friendly way in which he did so. I accept what he said.

I can assure my right hon. and hon. Friends that if they vote for the amendment they will allow governing bodies to decide on positive use of corporal punishment for themselves. The local education authorities will not be able to impose their will on governing bodies by using the articles of government. These amendments are about freedom of choice, discipline, and standards in education, and I urge my hon. Friends to vote for them this evening.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 230, Noes 231.

Division No. 274] [9.58 pm
Adley, Robert Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)
Alexander, Richard Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)
Amess, David Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Arnold, Tom Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Batiste, Spencer Hanley, Jeremy
Berth, A. J. Hannam, John
Bellingham, Henry Hargreaves, Kenneth
Bendall, Vivian Harris, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Haselhurst, Alan
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Blackburn, John Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Hawksley, Warren
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hayes, J.
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Hayward, Robert
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Henderson, Barry
Brinton, Tim Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hickmet, Richard
Browne, John Hind, Kenneth
Bryan, Sir Paul Hirst, Michael
Budgen, Nick Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Burt, Alistair Holt, Richard
Butcher, John Hordern, Sir Peter
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Howard, Michael
Butterfill, John Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cash, William Hunter, Andrew
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Irving, Charles
Chapman, Sydney Jackson, Robert
Chope, Christopher Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Churchill, W. S. Jessel, Toby
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Clegg, Sir Walter Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Cockeram, Eric Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Colvin, Michael King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Coombs, Simon Knight, Greg (Derby N)
Cope, John Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Corrie, John Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Couchman, James Lang, Ian
Crouch, David Latham, Michael
Currie, Mrs Edwina Lawler, Geoffrey
Dickens, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan
Dicks, Terry Lee, John (Pendle)
Dorrell, Stephen Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lightbown, David
Dover, Den MacGregor, Rt Hon John
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Dunn, Robert Maclean, David John
Durant, Tony McLoughlin, Patrick
Eggar, Tim Major, John
Evennett, David Malone, Gerald
Eyre, Sir Reginald Marlow, Antony
Fairbairn, Nicholas Maude, Hon Francis
Fallon, Michael Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Farr, Sir John Merchant, Piers
Favell, Anthony Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fookes, Miss Janet Moate, Roger
Forman, Nigel Monro, Sir Hector
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Forth, Eric Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Mudd, David
Fox, Sir Marcus Murphy, Christopher
Franks, Cecil Neale, Gerrard
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Nelson, Anthony
Freeman, Roger Neubert, Michael
Fry, Peter Nicholls, Patrick
Gale, Roger Norris, Steven
Galley, Roy Oppenheim, Phillip
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Ottaway, Richard
Glyn, Dr Alan Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Gow, Ian Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Gower, Sir Raymond Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Grant, Sir Anthony Pawsey, James
Greenway, Harry Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Gregory, Conal Pollock, Alexander
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Powley, John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Proctor, K. Harvey
Grylls, Michael Raffan, Keith
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Rathbone, Tim
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Thornton, Malcolm
Roe, Mrs Marion Thurnham, Peter
Rossi, Sir Hugh Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Sackville, Hon Thomas Tracey, Richard
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Trippier, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Twinn, Dr Ian
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Shelton, William (Streatham) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Viggers, Peter
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Waddington, David
Silvester, Fred Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Sims, Roger Walden, George
Skeet, Sir Trevor Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wall, Sir Patrick
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Ward, John
Speed, Keith Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Spencer, Derek Warren, Kenneth
Squire, Robin Watts, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stern, Michael Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Whitfield, John
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Whitney, Raymond
Stokes, John Winterton, Mrs Ann
Tapsell, Sir Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, John (Solihull) Wood, Timothy
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Woodcock, Michael
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Terlezki, Stefan Tellers for the Ayes:
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Mr. Michael Shersby and
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Mr. Peter Bruinvels.
Alton, David Corbett, Robin
Ancram, Michael Corbyn, Jeremy
Anderson, Donald Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Craigen, J. M.
Ashby, David Crowther, Stan
Ashdown, Paddy Cunningham, Dr John
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dalyell, Tam
Ashton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Baldry, Tony Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Deakins, Eric
Barnett, Guy Dewar, Donald
Barron, Kevin Dixon, Donald
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Dobson, Frank
Bell, Stuart Dormand, Jack
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Douglas, Dick
Bermingham, Gerald Dubs, Alfred
Blair, Anthony Duffy, A. E. P.
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Boyes, Roland Eadie, Alex
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Eastham, Ken
Bray, Dr Jeremy Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpfn SE)
Bright, Graham Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Ewing, Harry
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Fatchett, Derek
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Buchan, Norman Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Fisher, Mark
Caborn, Richard Flannery, Martin
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Fletcher, Alexander
Campbell, Ian Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Campbell-Savours, Dale Foster, Derek
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Foulkes, George
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Cartwright, John Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Freud, Clement
Clarke, Thomas Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Clay, Robert Garel-Jones, Tristan
Clelland, David Gordon Garrett, W. E.
Clwyd, Mrs Ann George, Bruce
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cohen, Harry Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Coleman, Donald Godman, Dr Norman
Conlan, Bernard Golding, Mrs Llin
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Gourlay, Harry
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Grist, Ian
Ground, Patrick McKelvey, William
Hamilton, James (M'well N) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) McTaggart, Robert
Hardy, Peter McWilliam, John
Harman, Ms Harriet Madden, Max
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Marek, Dr John
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Martin, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Maynard, Miss Joan
Home Robertson, John Meacher, Michael
Hoyle, Douglas Meadowcroft, Michael
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Michie, William
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Mikardo, Ian
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Janner, Hon Greville Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
John, Brynmor Miscampbell, Norman
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Moore, Rt Hon John
Kennedy, Charles Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Key, Robert Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Nellist, David
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Newton, Tony
Kirkwood, Archy Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Lambie, David O'Brien, William
Lannond, James O'Neill, Martin
Leighton, Ronald Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Lester, Jim Park, George
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Parry, Robert
Litherland, Robert Patchett, Terry
Livsey, Richard Pavitt, Laurie
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Pendry, Tom
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Pike, Peter
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Powell, William (Corby)
Loyden, Edward Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
McCurley, Mrs Anna Prescott, John
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Radice, Giles
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Randall, Stuart
Raynsford, Nick Temple-Morris, Peter
Redmond, Martin Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Rhodes James, Robert Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Richardson, Ms Jo Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Tinn, James
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Torney, Tom
Robertson, George Wainwright, R.
Rogers, Allan Waldegrave, Hon William
Rooker, J. W. Wallace, James
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wareing, Robert
Rowe, Andrew Watson, John
Rowlands, Ted Weetch, Ken
Sedgemore, Brian Welsh, Michael
Sheerman, Barry Wheeler, John
Shields, Mrs Elizabeth White, James
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wilkinson, John
Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Short, Mrs R.(Whampt'n NE) Wilson, Gordon
Silkin, Rt Hon J. Winnick, David
Skinner, Dennis Wolfson, Mark
Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Snape, Peter Young, David (Bolton SE)
Soley, Clive Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spearing, Nigel
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) Tellers for the Noes:
Stott, Roger Mr. Ray Powell and
Strang, Gavin Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe.
Straw, Jack

Question accordingly negatived.