HC Deb 05 July 1988 vol 136 cc997-1018 10.17 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Bob Dunn)

I beg to move, That the draft Education (Assisted Places) (Amendment) Regulations 1988, which were laid before this House on 13th June, be approved. I begin this short debate on these important regulations by saying how much I welcome the tone of earlier debates. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), in an article in The Guardian on 23 March, said: First, we must recognise that a nation of consumers enjoying relatively high living standards becomes literally much more choosy, much more interested in choice and variety. That is exactly so.

Before I begin the main text of my speech, I should be interested to know whether the Opposition will reveal that the think tank set up and run by Lady Antonia Fraser will be important and instrumental in the decision making leading to educational philosophy in the Labour party for the years ahead. We need to know whether the new think tank will be advising the Opposition.[Interruption.]

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Tell them to go back to the boozer.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) will join them.

Mr. Skinner

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was a miner for 21 years and was not allowed to go down the pit shaft, along with other miners, reeking of ale. When I first came here I decided that in no circumstances would I come to the Chamber and legislate for the country reeking of ale. I have never been in any of those places, and you know that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us get on with the debate.

Mr. Dunn

By tradition, our debates are always conducted with great calmness.

Before I was interrupted by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr.Skinner), I was saying that I was anxious to establish the precise role of the think tank in the development of the Labour party's education policy. When Lady Antonia Fraser refers to the development of education philosophy, I dare say that her knowledge of the state system of education will be drawn from many years' experience of handing out bounty in Belgravia. I always thought that Lady Antonia Fraser was a Conservative. I understand that she is now a member of the Labour party—without even having to rearrange her jewellery.

For the benefit of Opposition Members, perhaps it would be helpful to explain that the principal regulations governing the administration of the assisted places scheme require annual amendment to take account of the necessary revaluation of parental income scales and changes introduced in the Finance Act 1987. In the past we have also taken this opportunity to make various small amendments for which experience of the scheme has suggested a need. This year such an amendment takes account of cases where court orders for payment of school fees are in force. I venture to suggest that all the amendments—which I shall describe in a moment—are relatively straightforward.

Briefly, perhaps I might set the regulations in context. There are currently more than 27,000 pupils holding assisted places at 234 of the best independent schools in England and Wales. High academic standards are a prerequisite of a school's participation in the scheme.

As the House will recognise, the scheme continues to be both popular and successful. While the scale governing the level of fee remission is intentionally a tough one, 37 per cent. of assisted pupils qualify for full fee remission. In the current academic year these are pupils from families where the joint income was at or below £6,972 a year. Therefore, the assisted places scheme is clearly benefiting families who would otherwise be unable to send their children to these excellent schools.

I can tell the House with pride, as I do on these annual occasions, that the scheme has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1981, and we intend to build on that success by expanding the number of available places in England and Wales to an eventual total of 35,000.

Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

I am interested in what the Minister has to say. Is he able to reassure us that the children who, in his words, will benefit from the expenditure of that public money will be subject to the national curriculum?

Mr. Dunn

The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) is now becoming an experienced hand at the sort of dodgem techniques that we have come to expect in the House from the Opposition. Because they have nothing to offer in the way of philosophy, they carp and whinge, no matter how eloquently that carping and whingeing may be done, although the hon. Lady does it better than most.

Regulation 1(1) is concerned with title and timing. Hon. Members will not, I judge, require any detailed comment on it from me.

Regulation 1(2) allows bursars to use the new parental income scales ahead of the start of term for determining a child's eligibility and assessing fee remission questions for existing assisted pupils.

Regulation 2 introduces a new condition of eligibility. This is that a child all of whose fees are required to be paid under a court order may not be selected for an assisted place. It also removes entitlement to remission of any part of school fees required to be paid under a court order. This latter provision will apply in the case of a child who is about to join the APS or is already the holder of an assisted place. Any portion of fees which is required to be paid under a court order will no longer attract fee remission.

Regulation 3 arises from the Finance Act 1987 and the Finance (No. 2) Act 1987 and brings up to date the references to the relevant income tax legislation in schedule 1 to the principal Education (Assisted Places) Regulations 1985. Deductions from total income in respect of increased personal reliefs for those aged 80 or over and contributions to personal pension schemes are not to be made in calculating relevant income for the purposes of assessing fee remission.

Draft regulation 4 provides for the updating of the income scale used for assessing the amount of parents' contributions towards the fees. The threshold at or below which parents pay nothing towards fees is raised from £6,972 to £7,258.

The amendments I have just described are essentially good housekeeping and I know that they will find favour with the House.

10.27 pm
Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

The Under-Secretary, in his usual way, made a wide-ranging speech. We are grateful to him for his detailed introduction of the regulations and we all welcomed his opening remarks. Some scurrilous newspapers suggest that this may be the hon. Gentleman's valedictory speech from the Dispatch Box. If he wants anybody to put in a word on his behalf with the Prime Minister, I am sure that some of my hon. Friends will be happy to do so.

This is a debate tinged with a certain disappointment. We have lost the pleasure of the company of the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold). When I first heard that the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) would be dealing with the regulations, I realised that it might be because the hon. Lady is now taking a much keener interest in planning matters and looking after the interests of the Secretary of State for the Environment rather than bothering herself too much with educational matters. It is noticeable how in that capacity the hon. Lady has developed a fairly wide brief, a much larger constituency, and that the interest in Morden extends to some very strange parts of London.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will the hon. Gentleman get to the regulations?

Mr. Fatchett

I will indeed. The comments of the hon. Lady are always very welcome and I will certainly concentrate on the regulations. I listen always to the hon. Lady's comments because I am sure that they should be heeded.

The other element of disappointment, if I can just comment on this, Mr. Deputy Speaker, without being chastised by you or others, is that we are not blessed with the presence of the spokesperson of the alliance party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Which one?"] Whatever they now call themselves. Hon. Members may well understand my difficulties in that respect. If we have heard the valedictory speech of the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science—which I am sure we have not—I am not quite sure what we can expect from the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey); perhaps he is just keeping the seat warm for the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) who is out campaigning to get himself an assisted place as leader of the SLD.

The Minister said that the scheme was a major success. That hardly corresponds to the facts. In 1986 the number of youngsters entering the assisted places scheme fell from 5,146 to 4,905. There has in fact been a reversal in the number of youngsters going into the scheme, despite the Minister's heady rhetoric to the effect that the objective was to gain 35,000 assisted places.

The regulations and the principle of the assisted places scheme tell us a good deal about the Government's attitude to education and the state sector. They tell us much about the notion that we have independent schools. The very nature of the assisted places scheme is state intervention and public money keeping private schools in operation.

When we debated the national curriculum we were told by Conservative Members that the national curriculum should not apply to private schools because they were thoroughly independent. The workings of the assisted places scheme tell us that the private schools are in no sense independent. In many cases, they rely on the state for money.

Let us consider just a few of the schools that are part of the assisted places scheme and rely heavily on that scheme for their students. At Batley grammar school, 37 per cent. of the pupils come through the assisted places scheme. At Belvedere school, it is 27 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Excellent."] At both Birkenhead high school and Birkenhead school the figure is 24 per cent. At Bristol Cathedral school it is 28 per cent.; at Dame Allan's boys school it is 30 per cent. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Better still."] At Farnborough hill school, it is 34 per cent. At King Edward's school Birmingham, it is 37 per cent. At St. Edwards college it is 39 per cent.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Fatchett

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends said "Better and better" to each increased percentage that I cited. Where is the argument about independence? The schools are not independent, they are maintained by the Exchequer and the taxpayer. That is why we have always argued that they should be included in the provisions for the national curriculum.

Mr. Key

The taxpayer argument is a non-starter because those who choose independent education pay twice anyway. It was with great relief that the independent sector heard the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong)—it was widely reported in the national newspaper of the Independent Schools Information Service—say that it was now Labour party policy that the independent schools would not be abolished.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. Interesting as all this may be, it has very little to do with the regulations before the House. I hope that hon. Members will stick to the regulations.

Mr. Fatchett

I am grateful to you, Mr.Deputy Speaker. You are always willing to teach Conservative Members about the necessary procedures of debate—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Hon. Members on both sides of the House must stick to the regulations.

Mr. Fatchett

I shall certainly not be tempted any further into debates about the independent schools—[Interruption.] Mr. Deputy Speaker has said that I must not be tempted further. Otherwise, I should love to continue.

The scheme is much like the city technology colleges: it tells us a lot about the Government's values and priorities. They are prepared to spend more on a relatively small number of youngsters than on all our children in terms of the development of the national curriculum.

Some of the places covered by the regulations cost more than £5,000 per year per child, yet when a local education authority spends half that on each child—as did, for example, the Inner London education authority—it is rate-capped and subject to abolition. According to the Government, it is right to invest more than £5,000 a year in a small number of children, yet it is wrong to spend only half that sum on each of the 250,000 children of inner London. The Inner London education authority is told by the Government that that expenditure is profligate and wasteful.

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)

It is wasteful.

Mr. Fatchett

The Minister of State says that that expenditure is wasteful. How does she justify much higher expenditure on the assisted places scheme? The justification is that the Government believe in paying for an elite few. We believe in investing in and looking after all our children. I am willing to give way to the Minister on that point.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I remind the House that the merits or otherwise of the scheme have been decided by the House. We are discussing the narrow issues raised by the regulations, not the merits of the assisted places scheme.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It has never been the custom of the House in debating statutory instruments by affirmative resolution to exclude the merits of those instruments. There is what is known as a merits committee. When a Joint Committee or Select Committee deals with instruments and makes recommendations to the House, it is not allowed, according to its terms of reference, to discuss the merits. That is because the full House or a Statutory Instruments Committee can discuss them.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The merits of the assisted places scheme have been determined by the House in primary legislation. We are now discussing a statutory instrument which deals with a detail of that scheme, and hon. Members must confine their remarks to that.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) has raised a serious point. With respect, "Erskine May" does not say that the debate must be confined to the detail of the regulations. It says: Debate…is confined to the contents of the instrument". My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) is arguing why, on the contents of the regulations, the House should vote against them.

Mr. Skinner

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. One point of order at a time.

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has confirmed what I said to the House—the debate must be confined to the contents of the regulations before the House. I am asking the House to recognise that fact.

Mr. Skinner

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was present at the beginning of the debate when the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science—the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn)—got to his feet. Mr. Speaker was in the Chair, rather than you, Sir, and perhaps you did not hear everything. The Minister spoke about the merits of the matter. If you had been in the Chair, you probably would have pulled him up on the same basis on which you pulled up my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett). If you do this now, you will contradict Mr. Speaker, who is your gaffer. You have to make up your mind. Will you accept Mr. Speaker's decision to allow the Minister to speak about the merits, and therefore let my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central answer the Minister's case? This is a matter for you.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman and I understand each other and what we are discussing. I certainly have regard for what he said.

Mr. Fatchett

With respect to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we could cite paragraph 4 of the regulations to claim that we were in order. It refers to the amount of money spent on the assisted places scheme.

I return now to the argument that is intrinsic to the nature of the regulations—the Government's willingness to spend £50 million on a handful of youngsters rather than to invest in the whole education system. Before you rightly brought me back into line, Mr. Deputy Speaker, although I did not believe that I had erred on that occasion, I was trying to make the point that, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr. Jackson), said in a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), the Government are willing to spend £5,661 on assisted places in certain cases and they say that the majority of cases cost about £2,500 a year. How many local authorities are entitled to spend that amount on what are, in effect, their assisted places—the schools that the overwhelming majority of our youngsters attend? The Minister of State readily agreed that the £2,500 that ILEA and other local education authorities spend is too much for most children. Therein lies the real division between us.

We want to ensure that all our children have adequate resources, teaching and books. But the Government want to invest in a handful of children and discriminate against the vast majority of youngsters.

Mr. Dunn

What is the hon. Gentleman's knowledge of the cost to the taxpayer of each assisted place compigedt to the cost to the ratepayer of a place in inner London secondary education?

Mr. Fatchett

I said earlier that some of my hon. Friends might be prepared to have a word with the Prime Minister on the Minister's behalf, but on the basis of that intervention our case would be rather flimsy.

There is a crucial difference. The Minister's argument is an intellectual figleaf. We are talking about the investment in individual youngsters, not the individual taxpayer's contribution. Of course less is spent on the assisted places scheme than would be spent by individual local authorities, because the scheme extends to only a handful of youngsters. We are discussing the investment per child. So the Minister says that a certain level of investment in children is profligate and wrong; but he justifies it in the case of private education——

Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)

Will the hon. Gentleman answer two brief questions, which go to the heart of the matter? First, where does the demand for assisted places come from? Why should there be demand if children and parents are satisfied with local education?

Secondly, I advise the hon. Gentleman to be careful. He is making the case for opting-out schools, which will provide a choice for local children, with no extra Government expenditure.

Mr. Fatchett

I do not see the logic of the argument for the preferential treatment of opt-out schools. We are arguing on behalf of all our children.

As for the hon. Gentleman's first point, he will recall that I said that the Government are having some difficulty finding children to fill the available assisted places.

Mr. Alan Amos (Hexham)


Mr. Fatchett

The hon. Gentleman may say that, but the statistics do not lie: there has been a fall-off in the number of children taking up assisted places.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

Some appalling figures were given in a written answer about six months ago. For instance, one school had nearly 450 assisted places out of 1,200 at a minimum of £2,000 each, which is £900,000 for that school alone. When all the money was counted, it was found that there were at least a dozen schools like that, and about 30 with between 300 and 400 assisted places. A vast amount of money is involved; it is nothing like what was said at the beginning.

Mr. Fatchett

My hon. Friend makes his point very effectively. The schools to which we refer are not private, independent schools, but schools supported by state money to maintain preference. That is what we object to.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)


Mr. Fatchett

No, I shall not give way again.

Let me finally make clear the Labour party's position, and that of a future Labour Government. Because of the privilege and preference engendered by the assisted places scheme, because it discriminates against the many in favour of the few and because it does not invest in our children, we intend to cancel it. It has no part to play for a future Labour Government who believe in extending opportunity in education to all our children. Because of our belief in that opportunity, we oppose the regulations and the principle of the assisted places scheme.

10.46 pm
Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) said that public money was keeping private schools in operation. That is far from the case. What it does is give children who would otherwise be denied it the opportunity of the finest education that the country can offer.

We in Lancaster have been fortunate, in that we have retained our grammar schools through thick and thin and therefore have no need of the assisted places scheme. But the school that I had the honour to attend—Queen Mary's, Lytham—took children from all over the area: from every housing estate and every possible district. Once the school unfortunately went private, that was no longer the case: youngsters who had had the privilege of that education no longer received it. Now, I am thankful to say, there are 43 assisted places in Queen Mary's school, and once more those children have the opportunity of a first-class education.

Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

Someone like myself who has taught many people on the assisted places scheme would agree with my hon. Friend when she says that it is the young people with parents on low incomes who gain from the scheme. That is why it has been such a success.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Indeed. The saner part of the House cannot have failed to be impressed by the Minister's figures for those on wholly assisted places. That is the crucial figure, and I believe that his intention to expand it to 35,000—many of whom will be wholly assisted—is entirely in the interests of the children of this country. My constituents and I fully support it.

10.49 pm
Mr. Richard Livsey (Brecon and Radnor)

In theory, the assisted places scheme may sound reasonable; in reality, it has many weaknesses. It is important to stress that my party does not oppose private education. If people wish to spend their own money on independent schools, that is up to them. What we object to is that this form of education benefits from state money which would be better employed in the state sector——

Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Livsey

Not yet. I have only just commenced my speech. I shall give way in a minute.

When the state sector is desperate for funds, as it is at present, it cannot be right to support the assisted places scheme. I understand that in 1985–86 the figure of support was £29 million, and the forecast is that in 1987–88 it will be £49 million. That increase is because, in some instances, almost twice as much is being spent per pupil on assisted places as is being spent per pupil in the state schools.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

The hon. Gentleman seems to be going down the same path as the Opposition in advocating the ILEA level of spending on secondary education. Is he aware that the leader of ILEA said about the secondary school system that it had let down the children for the past 10 or 20 years? Does he advocate that in the same way that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) advocates it?

Mr. Livsey

If the state sector had been properly funded during the tenure of the Conservative Government, perhaps the leader of the ILEA would not have to make such statements. The inadequacies of the state sector have come about because it has been bled of public funds, and it has suffered grievously. We should be talking about the improvement of education, particularly state education, which provides schooling for the majority of children. Almost twice as much money is spent per pupil on the assisted places scheme as is spent per pupil in the state sector.

Mr. Dunn

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he has twice said something that is incorrect. The average cost of a maintained sector secondary school place for England as a whole in the financial year 1986–87 was £1,570. The cost to the taxpayer of each assisted place in the academic year 1986–87 was £1,759. That is not twice the cost in the state sector.

Mr. Livsey

It is, none the less, more than what is being spent in the state sector. A parliamentary answer given on 26 March 1987 shows that, for example, in Harrow the cost of an assisted place was £2,252, whereas the average cost per pupil in the state sector was only £1,200. The cost is different in different places. That is on the record.

The private sector will benefit substantially from the tax cuts given in the recent Budget to some of the richest people in our society. The state sector, rather than assisted places, should be getting the state money. Some of the best pupils are being taken out of the state sector and put into private schools, and that weakens the state sector.

Comprehensive schools are desperately short of funds, and the experience of my children in comprehensive schools has shown me that books are shared. In my local authority, spending on books is as low as £7 per pupil. It is time that the Government thought about investing in our children, because almost 90 per cent. of them are educated in the state sector.

The state cannot afford the subsidy being given through assisted places. The scheme is an anachronism. I note that the regulations try to assist those on low incomes, and that is of interest. None the less, these children are being taken out of the state sector, and as a result funds are being drained from it. The problem is that there is a danger of creating a two-tier education system through Government subsidy, and, as a matter of principle, that is not acceptable. We need to assist the majority of children in the state sector, and not a small minority, which is a highly selective system.

10.55 pm
Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) will forgive me if I do not pursue him down the various paths that he was evidently signposting. On the Government side of the House we had difficulty in establishing whether the speech that he was delivering so well was his or that of the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) or, indeed, that of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) is not now in the Chamber. He mentioned many statistics, but he did not choose to refer to the fact that a recent poll showed that some 72 per cent. of those people consulted were in favour of this scheme going forward.

I would like to comment specifically on regulation 4, which refers to the scales of remission. Clearly, that is an important issue which affects the number of children going to assisted places schools. Undoubtedly, the scheme makes a relatively modest contribution towards increasing the amount of freedom and choice available to parents. It broadens children's horizons and enables them to share in the advantages that undoubtedly accrue from the independent sector. The scheme helps those parents who, while appreciating the benefits of independent schools, are perhaps unable to afford them. It also helps those who are less well off, single parent families and those who may be socially disadvantaged.

In a letter of 26 January to the chairman of the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools, my hon. Friend the Minister, who I am delighted to see in his usual place on the Treasury Bench—I have not the slightest doubt that he will grace it for many more years—said that the Government has made a commitment in principle to a modest expansion of the scheme".

Mr. Straw

We have listened to the hon. Gentleman's generority towards the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn). Does that mean that, if the hon. Gentleman should ever be offered the job of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Science, he will refuse it?

Mr. Pawsey

With the utmost respect to the hon. Gentleman, if my hon. Friend should move Departments and become a Minister of State, which is something that Opposition Members are unlikely to do—certainly in the lifetime of most hon. Members—of course, his and my promotion would be most welcome.

A modest expansion has occurred in the assisted places scheme since it was first announced in 1981. While the increase in places is to be welcomed, it has not gone far enough. One of the aims of the Education Reform Bill is to increase the amount of freedom and choice available to parents. Clearly grant-maintained schools represent a major step forward. The assisted places scheme is another facet in the drive to provide the maximum choice for parents. The scheme is clearly set out in regulation 4, but hon. Members will recall that it covers only the educational cost. The fees for boarding are carefully excluded. I wonder whether there is now an argument for re-examining this part of the scheme.

Much of the benefit to be derived by youngsters in the independent sector is from boarding and, as the majority of schools are geared to the needs of the majority of pupils who enjoy the benefits of boarding, day boys may miss out.

Moreover, many youngsters will attend school until the late evening, which will present some difficulties for parents collecting them and returning them to school the next day, especially if the schools are some distance from home. Geography restricts choice.

I was disappointed to see that the regulations do not refer to children from the ethnic minorities. I suspect that the majority of children who take advantage of the assisted places scheme are white. Does my hon Friend intend to broaden the scope of the scheme and to improve the publicity so that we may attract more Asian and West Indian children to participate in the scheme?

It is not surprising that the scheme attracts considerable interest among a wide range of independent schools. When it was introduced, some schools were suspicious about it, but those suspicions have been dissipated. The more schools come forward, the better.

In a letter dated 6 June my hon. Friend the Minister advises that there has been a substantial response to the invitation, issued to independent schools at the turn of the year, to participate in the scheme. Each application is considered in detail against a background of rigorous criteria which ensure that the quality of participating schools remains uniformly high.

Will my hon. Friend the Minister consider extending the scheme to younger children and preparatory schools? A substantial number of parents clearly believe that the education offered in the independent sector at an early age is worth paying for and worth making substantial sacrifices for. They believe that such schools offer a substantial advantage.

I would like there to be a modest expansion in both the number of overall places and in the age range, assisted places being provided for younger children in preparatory schools. I should like my hon. Friend to reconsider the possibility of funding part of the boarding cost, and I hope that he will consider means of ensuring that we get more participation by both West Indians and Asian children.

11.2 pm

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) took a broad sweep which went miles beyond the regulations. He spoke of advertising and involving more people. I fully understand why. I do not agree with him, but it is impossible not to take such a broad approach.

We shall get rid of the assisted places scheme as soon as we are returned to office as it is now an expensive and fundamental part of private education. These proposals will merely intensify that fact. Public money taken from the state sector, which has suffered endless cuts, is being given to private education, not to help poor children but to expand the private sector in opposition to the public sector.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

Not just now. Let me get on a bit and then we shall see. If the hon. Gentleman is not a good boy, I shall not let him in at all—and that goes for all Conservative Members.

The harsh reality is that more and more amendments will he necessary to siphon more money from the ratepayers—including poor ratepayers—so that the children can go to school in that sector. Regulation 12 of the main regulations states: The parents of an assisted pupil shall not be entitled to any remission of fees for which they are liable in respect of a period before the pupil took up his assisted place or (in lieu of notice or otherwise) after he has left the school, or if he so remains at the school, after the end of the school year in which he obtains the age of 20 years. The statutory age for the vast majority of our children is 16 years, yet this regulation talks about an age of 20 years. I do not know what kind of pupil that is. The age is being amended to a slightly younger age.

The money from ratepayers, many of whom are poverty-stricken, is being siphoned off to send as many as 450 of the 1,200 children to one school. That is over one third, so we should be clear about what is being amended.

Mr. Thompson

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

I shall not give way just now.

Over one third of the pupils in those schools are being paid for by public money. That is what the measure is about. Conservative Members are defending siphoning off money from the poor for middle-class children, saying that they are poor. The Government are using public money to let children go to those shcools who already have plenty of money to go to the private sector if they want to do so.

Mr. Thompson

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will make his own speech. He can stand up to speak, just as I did.

In the Newcastle-under-Lyme school to which I referred earlier, more than 450 of the 1,200 children are on assisted places. That accounts for almost £1 million a year for one school alone. The Minister gave the figures, but, of course, he cheated when he said £1,700. He knows that £1,700 is an average and does not take many other things into account. He gave that figure so that people would not see the reality because, in many of these schools, the fee paid is £2,500, not £1,700. That figure was given in an answer by the Minister. The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) has a copy of it, which I have just consulted and which I have quoted on many previous occasions.

Many schools are now involved and the amount of money being paid out is £27,000, at an average of well over £2,000 each. The total is at least £54 million at present. The Minister says that the figure will go up to £35,000. Does anyone think that it will remain at £35,000 when, six months ago, 30 more schools were wanting to get on to this education gravy train?

The figure will not remain at £70 million.

Mr. Thompson

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Flannery

I shall give way in a moment, if the ho n. Gentleman will let me finish this point.

Seventy million pounds of public money is now about to be expended, and we know what will happen. As soon as another 30 schools leap on the gravy train, the figure will move up to £100 million, taken out of the state sector and given to rich schools.

Mr. Thompson

The hon. Gentleman is——

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman should say that he is grateful.

Mr. Thompson

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He was talking about expansion of the independent sector. If it is to expand, that will remove a burden from the state sector, which means that there will be more funds available for it. If there are more assisted places, that will have the same effect. The hon. Gentleman's argument is wrong.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman is so lyrical that we could almost set his comments to music. The harsh reality is that our money is being taken away from us to shore up an already flourishing private sector. We shall get rid of it as soon as we can—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".]—and tonight, with the utmost determination, we shall vote against the wickedness that takes money away from poor children so that it can be given to rich schools.

11.10 pm
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) talked of a wicked system that takes money away from poor children. But it gives money to poor children. The assisted places scheme was set up to help those from families on low incomes who deserved to receive the best possible education and the choice that was available in other areas but not in theirs.

The hon. Gentleman is a member of a party which for years has squawked about the fact that only 6 or 7 per cent. of our children are able to attend independent schools. Yet here is an opportunity for more children to go to such schools, and the hon. Gentleman is opposed to it. He is opposed to private education in principle, and that is what it is all about. He did not talk about the rights of parents to choose their children's schools and the education that they should have. We are talking about a modest scheme which provides an opportunity for those who would not necessarily have the chance to obtain the education that their parents wish for them. I welcome the intentions behind the regulations.

Mr. Fatchett

Has the hon. Gentleman seen the research by Mike Douse which was published in Educational Studies? It is entitled "The Background of Assisted Places Scheme Students". It arrived at two conclusions which I shall draw to the hon. Gentleman's attention. First, relatively few APS students come from unambiguously working-class backgrounds. Secondly, many APS students are drawn from families already within the 'Independent School frame of reference'. Thus both his major conclusions run against and vitiate the assertions that the hon. Gentleman is making. The arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) are substantiated by independent research and do not depend on the prejudices that the hon. Gentleman is trying to peddle.

Mr. Bennett

I should be interested to know exactly who the survey was commissioned by and exactly who the gentleman who produced it is. I am interested to know what an unambiguous working-class background is. That is a strange description. Perhaps the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) comes within that category. Under this Government, the number of those who describe themselves as working class has been declining as the middle class expands due to tax cuts and increased prosperity.

The assisted places scheme defines by income, and those with large incomes are not allowed to participate in it. We know that those who have been taking advantage of it are, for example, the sons of policemen, the sons of shopkeepers and the sons of shop stewards. Ordinary people have been given back the opportunity which was removed from them in 1976 when the Labour Government abolished the direct grant schools. The schools that have the largest percentages of children on assisted places are former direct grant schools that provided free education for such children under state provision until the Labour Government abolished it. Labour Members should remember that when they discuss the regulations.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) is a near neighbour of mine in parliamentary terms. realise that he was trying to read the handwriting of the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown). That accounted for his halting delivery and the doubtful philosophy that lay behind his speech. It is strange that the party which until recently called itself the Liberal party, and which still has Liberal in its title, should oppose a scheme which encourages diversity and the variety of education which was a fundamental philosophy of John Stuart Mill and the Liberal party until very recently.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That is all very interesting but it has little to do with the regulations that are before the House.

Mr. Bennett

I shall try to follow your injunction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor appears to have left his philosophy and his principles behind along with the rest of the Liberal party, when it decamped.

The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) made the peculiar argument that, because people will receive state funds in assisting their children to attend independent schools, those schools will cease to be independent. On that logic, if anybody spends any part of their supplementary benefit or income support, or has a local authority bus pass to use public or private transport, the object of that expenditure or assistance will cease to enjoy its independence. That would also be true of universities, which, we are proud to say, are independent.

It is nonsense to believe that, because the state is prepared to assist people with funding, it will dilute the independence of the institution concerned. That underlines the Labour party's nonsensical opposition. It does not believe in freedom of choice, in diversity of education, or in competing standards of quality. Labour Members want a grey, uniform system in which our young people will be forced to attend the neighbourhood comprehensive, on which the Labour party will impose its standards, rather than allow anybody to have a choice. I applaud the Government for sticking to their principles.

11.16 pm
Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

We are having an interesting debate and one that, in many respects, goes to the heart of all the education debates of the past month. Tonight's discussion centres on certain narrow powers, and it appears that the Government have created for themselves a number of problems. Perhaps the Minister, when he replies, will be able to provide solutions to them.

Government Members claim that the regulations are intended to permit access by the widest possible range of children— although the number will be small—to the best possible education. However, that education—even on the Minister's lowest average estimate, including a parental contribution—will cost substantially more than in the state sector. Yet the Government have tried to tell us, week after week, month after month, that resources are not a problem in the state sector.

We have been arguing for many a month, and many a year, that the Government ought to be putting far greater resources into the state sector to improve the quality of education and the opportunities there for all children, and to meet the aspirations and wishes of the parents, about whom the Government say that they are so concerned. How will the Government reconcile that contradiction? They say, "The state sector is spending far too much and we shall have to cut back the amount of money going into those schools. On the other hand, because we're interested in providing a good education for these few children, we'll spend more public money to support a small number of places at much higher cost."

The second problem that Conservative Members have highlighted tonight is that the Government are trying to justify the public sector supporting independent schools. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) made that point very forcefully. If that is so, and if the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the public purse ought to be spent in that way, how can the Government justify having the House work through the Education Reform Bill in the way that it has? How do the Government justify such children being completely outside the national curriculum? The Government are simply not prepared to face up to that contradiction.

I could talk about many other contradictions that are inherent in the Government's case, but those two alone give the lie to the Government's claim that the regulations extend choice.

In my county of Durham there are no assisted places, but there are many young people who are attending school day by day who have the right to, and we have the duty to offer to them, the very best. It is no good the Government saying that their answer to that is to enable a few to enter the independent sector.

The Government need to examine the independent sector and ensure that it provides the quality that it claims to provide. If one looks at such narrow qualifications as exam results, many of those schools simply do not come up to the level of many of our state schools.

If we are really talking about extending choice and opening up opportunities, the Government have to take on board the fact that, instead of dealing in this marginal and elitist way with a few children, they must address the needs of all our children. The children in Durham are just as important to Britain's future as the children in Surrey. The Government cannot get away with constantly discussing the quality of education when they are only addressing the needs of a few of our children.

If the Government are really interested in extending choice and ensuring that parents feel that their children have the best, they will begin to put into the state sector the resources that they know that it needs and without which it cannot survive.

The state sector, used by 92 per cent. of our children, is being starved of the resources that it needs to provide those opportunities and that choice. The Government are failing that 92 per cent. of the population of school age children when they address themselves to regulations such as these and not to the needs of the children and the needs of our state schools.

11.22 pm
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

It is important to say a few words about the assisted places scheme and the regulations which modify the principal regulations in determining the eligibility of youngsters to qualify under the scheme.

First, parents who are seeking the best education for their children would be well advised to send them to co-educational comprehensive schools because that system has been tried and tested and, despite attacks by politically motivated groups, mostly from the Conservative party, on the figures provided by the Department of Education and Science, in academic terms, which are generally the only terms looked at by Conservative Members, the number of passes at 0 and A-level per thousand children has steadily increased throughout the past quarter of a century when comprehensive education has changed from being a derided experiment into an accepted and, indeed, preferential choice for most parents.

Many of us remember the time of the 11-plus and the discrimination between those who passed and those who did not. Many of us resented the snobbery and discrimination which accompanied that. I can well remember as a young lad at primary school getting involved in fights with other youngsters about who went to which school. Because I happened to pass the 11-plus and went to a grammer school I was called a snob-school snob by children from the same street in which I lived because of the snobbery endemic in that system. Our children went to comprehensive co-educational schools and we blessed the day that the Labour movement pressed for those schools to be instituted because my wife and I knew that our children were never subject to the discrimination and pressure that we had to suffer when we were at school.

It is important to emphasise comprehensive co-education. Of course, it will always seek to improve standards of attainment, but it still represents an important principle with a high standard of application.

Mr. Pawsey

Will the hon. Gentleman say something about parental choice? Does he accept that parents should have the opportunity to send their children to alternative schools? Does he agree that the idea of CTCs is a good one? Does he agree that areas that maintain grammer schools do so because parents wish to retain them? Does he agree that comprehensive schools may have some of the answers, but they do not have all the answers? In the regulations, as in the Education Reform Bill, we are seeking to broaden parental choice. Will he address his mind to that?

Mr. Cryer

I shall certainly address my mind to that point. I shall not spend time on CTCs as the DES is wasting money on CTCs which are not covered by the regulations and no doubt you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would pull me up if I dwelt on that subject. Suffice it to say that the £30,000 that the Government gave to Bradford chamber of commerce to investigate a CTC in Bradford was money frivolously and wastefully thrown away in an outrageous use of taxpayers' money. I am surprised and startled that more Conservative Back Benchers have not been a little more critical about such misuse of taxpayers' money.

As for choice, the Education Act 1944 was introduced by R. A. Butler, a man who once found favour in the Conservative party. He would have no place in the Government of today, because he was too progressive, too much part of the old, one-nation section of the Conservative party, but his Education Act 1944 was generally regarded as a progressive measure at that time.

The Education Act 1944 was interpreted in various court decisions, and the Conservative party generally supported the judiciary view that the choice for parents must always be interpreted as being measured within the framework of the facilities which a local authority can provide. That is not absolute; it is a qualified choice. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), representing the Right-wing, rabid section of the Tory party, said that the middle class was expanding. Those articulate, middle-class parents should be arguing for improvements in the state sector of education so that the choice within the state sector is more meaningful, and not making such arbitary discrimination.

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth suggested that the children who were the subject of the regulations deserve to get the best possible education. I thought that all our children deserved the best possible education. The argument that Conservative Members are putting forward is that a certain section of the population—clearly not all the population, because only a minority will come under the assisted places scheme, which is expensive enough at a total cost of £50 million—will be subject to the regulations.

Some parents may consider that, in academic terms, private education is the best possible education. But there is no doubt that some parents will regard it purely in terms of the snob value and the position in society which is reflected by their child going to an independent school. Many people in that position send their children to such schools not for the education they get but because of the cap and uniform they wear. They think they have got in with the posh people.

I hear Conservative Members trying to chide me about having gone to a grammar school. I went to that school because it was part of the system that operated at that time and, being 11, I did not have much choice. Like all children in the area, I had to take the 11-plus. Like some, I passed, but the majority failed. I objected to that system then——

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)


Mr. Cryer

I argued about it at the time, from 11 onwards, when I got to grammar school. [Interruption] Some of us had political leanings at a very early age and some of the fights in which I was involved as a young kid, in which bricks were thrown between gangs, taught me that snobbery and discrimination exercised among young children produced bad results among those children. Today, the Tory Government are bringing into the 1980s the sort of divide that existed in the 1940s.

When earlier I criticised the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) over her two minutes or so of platitudes, some of her hon. Friends seemed to express regret about my not having addressed the House on this matter. I am making good that omission now, and I have not finished yet.

There are two elements in the sort of discrimination we are discussing. One is snobbery and the other is the development of a meritocracy; IQ plus effort equals merit. The famous book of the 1950s, "The Rise of the Meritocracy", has largely been discredited on the basis that to pluck a tiny section out of society and provide it with a privileged education is wrong.

My hon. Friends and I argue—and the Conservatives argue when they are looking for votes—that people should have the same opportunities. But here the Government are deliberately plucking out a section of society and providing it with a privileged, what they regard as a better, education, though I dispute that it is better.

I shall contrast the attitude of Ministers as they lavish £50 million on this scheme with their attitude to the situation in, say, my constituency, where, in the state sector, Bradford has urged the Government to spend more to replace some of the 500 temporary classrooms that are in use in the area. These temporary classrooms have been in use so long that some money that has been allocated for permanent buildings is having to be used to repair them, thus preventing the local authority from spending the money on the permanent extensions that are badly needed. The Department of Education and Science says that there is not sufficient money to provide more permanent classrooms in Bradford. Schools cannot be provided with adequate playing space. In schools in Queensbury in my constituency——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that these regulations are not an appropriate peg on which to hang a discussion on the state of education in Bradford.

Mr. Cryer

"Erskine May" is quite specific that one is allowed to give passing illustrations by way of explanation, and I am doing that. I could do it a great deal more quickly if I could get to the end of it, but I am sure your guidance is very helpful, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The regulations are costing taxpayers money. They modify the whole of the regulations under which children are determined as being eligible or otherwise for the assisted places scheme. The total cost of that scheme is about £50 million. These regulations are misplaced, because there are more urgent priorities for the money that is being allocated. I am saying by way of explanation that in some schools in Bradford there are many temporary classrooms that need replacing by permanent accommodation and that the education authority is having to build outside toilets to cater for the classrooms which are outside the permanent accommodation because the Department of Education will not provide the money for such accommodation in the state sector.

It will shock you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as much as it shocks me that the Government are prepared to lavish £50 million on a scheme that bolsters the private sector. The truth is that when the assisted places scheme was originally introduced the private sector was withering, and it was a shot in the arm by the taxpayer that kept it from withering away. The Government are now giving more money to bolster inequality and snobbery and allowing the state sector, which deals with 92 per cent. of our children, to wither away, as a deliberate act of vengeful policy against the majority of the people. I am sure that these arguments will get home by the next general election and that the Government will rue their actions today.

Mr. Fatchett


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Has the hon. Gentleman the leave of the House to speak again?

11.38 pm
Mr. Fatchett

With permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I say that we have had a lively debate which has shown some of the key divisions in education provision. My hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) and Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) have made a strong argument against the privilege that is implied and enacted by these regulations.

The only thing said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South with which I disagree is that Tory Members had to wait until they came to this place for some political education. It seems to me that the only political education that Conservative Members need is enough to enable them to find their way faithfully into the appropriate Lobby without much thought.

There have been two key arguments in the debate. The first concern the nature of the so-called private independent sector. Not one Conservative Member has been able to substantiate the argument that we have a private independent sector. They know that the schools in that sector are supported by the taxpayer. As my hon. Friends have said, that intervention has kept the schools alive; without it, they would not exist in their present form. They are not private schools; they are state-subsidised schools and should be recognised as such. The argument that we have heard so often from Conservative Members that the national curriculum should not apply to the independent sector has been shown to be very thin indeed because we now know the true nature of that independence.

The other argument that Conservative Members have advanced is that the scheme and the regulations provide for opportunity. That is a very interesting argument. We need to remember the Government's record, and their reluctance to invest in education for all our children. If Conservative Members propose to tell us about opportunity, they should tell us about opportunity for each and every one of our children. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South and others have said, the simple fact is that the Government have decreased spending per child by 20 per cent. in real terms during their lifetime.

Mr. Key

Not true.

Mr. Fatchett

It is true.

That is the extent to which the Government believe in equality of opportunity. If their words were true, and if their acts followed their words, the Government would make the money for the scheme and the money that they are wasting on city technology colleges available for all our children. They would invest in the education of all our children. Their ideology—their commitment to a few and to privilege—stops them doing that. That is why Opposition Members oppose the scheme, and why we shall vote against the regulations tonight.

11.43 pm
Mr. Dunn

This debate has become an annual event for me. I welcome it because it enables me to show clearly the support of the Government and my hon. Friends for the scheme. It also enables Opposition parties to exercise their prejudice against parental choice. The Opposition do not give a fig for parental choice.

In a speech that I found incredible, both in its arguments and in its lack of focus, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) quoted R. A. Butler, a man highly esteemed in our party for his part in the enactment of the Education Act 1944. I remind the hon. Gentleman that R. A. Butler believed in the tripartite system of secondary provision—the grammar schools, the technical grammar schools and the secondary modern schools.

Mr. Straw

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Dunn

In one moment.

The hon. Member for Bradford, South went on to talk about his experiences as a child in a working class community. I know all about that, too. He spoke about Bradford and its needs. I remind the House that there was a by-election victory in Bradford only a few days ago in which we took a seat from the Labour party with a massive swing and a greater majority than might have been expected; so much for our policies and the lives of the people of Bradford. The hon. Member for Bradford, South does not understand——

Mr. Straw

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dunn

I shall give way in a moment— [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] No. I must make this point. This has to be placed on the record.

The Labour party has never understood the aspirations of ordinary families. What it forgets is that when a working class child received a place at a grammar school, it was a matter of pride for the whole community. It was never even a matter for contempt or for the anguish described by the hon. Member for Bradford, South—whom I do not see in the Chamber, incidentally

Mr. Cryer

On a point of order——

Mr. Dunn

Surely the whole point——

Mr. Cryer

On a point of order——

Mr. Dunn

I am enjoying myself too much to give way, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Cryer

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister is clearly politically blind and apparently physically blind. I have been sitting in the Chamber the whole time, but he has not been able to see me. I want to make it clear that I am here.

Mr. Dunn

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. He merges into the background every time that I try to see him.

The hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey), in an unusual speech which it is worth reading, said that under the scheme the brightest children from state schools are taken out of the state system and placed in the independent schools almost by force. That is totally untrue. Because of parents' aspirations, those children ultimately find their way into independent schools. I must remind the House—

Mr. Straw

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dunn

I have changed my mind.

A survey conducted in 1976 showed that 72 per cent. of the public approved of the assisted places scheme.

Mr. Straw

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Dunn

I will not give way.

When broken down by voting intention, support for the scheme was as follows: 86 per cent. of Conservative voters, 74 per cent. of SDP voters, alliance voters or whatever they are called, and 60 per cent. of Labour voters were in favour of the scheme, and 70 per cent. of trade unionists expressed approval. We do not need the Labour party's support when we have the people's support. I commend the regulations to the House.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 186, Noes 128.

Division No. 397] [11.46 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Bowis, John
Alexander, Richard Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Allason, Rupert Brazier, Julian
Amess, David Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Amos, Alan Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arbuthnot, James Browne, John (Winchester)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Burns, Simon
Atkinson, David Burt, Alistair
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butcher, John
Baldry, Tony Butler, Chris
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Bellingham, Henry Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Carrington, Matthew
Benyon, W. Carttiss, Michael
Bevan, David Gilroy Cash, William
Blackburn, Dr John G. Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Chapman, Sydney
Boscawen, Hon Robert Chope, Christopher
Boswell, Tim Churchill, Mr
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Nelson, Anthony
Conway, Derek Neubert, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Nicholls, Patrick
Cope, Rt Hon John Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Couchman, James Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Cran, James Patnick, Irvine
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Pawsey, James
Day, Stephen Porter, David (Waveney)
Dickens, Geoffrey Price, Sir David
Dorrell, Stephen Raffan, Keith
Dunn, Bob Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Dykes, Hugh Rathbone, Tim
Emery, Sir Peter Redwood, John
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Renton, Tim
Evennett, David Riddick, Graham
Fallon, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Farr, Sir John Roe, Mrs Marion
Favell, Tony Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Ryder, Richard
Forman, Nigel Sackville, Hon Tom
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Sayeed, Jonathan
Forth, Eric Shaw, David (Dover)
Fox, Sir Marcus Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Franks, Cecil Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Freeman, Roger Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
French, Douglas Sims, Roger
Gale, Roger Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Gill, Christopher Speller, Tony
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Gow, Ian Squire, Robin
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Stanbrook, Ivor
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Stern, Michael
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Stokes, Sir John
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Hanley, Jeremy Sumberg, David
Hannam, John Summerson, Hugo
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Harris, David Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Haselhurst, Alan Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Hawkins, Christopher Temple-Morris, Peter
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Hayward, Robert Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Thorne, Neil
Heddle, John Thornton, Malcolm
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Thurnham, Peter
Hind, Kenneth Townend, John (Bridlington)
Holt, Richard Tracey, Richard
Howard, Michael Trippier, David
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Twinn, Dr Ian
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Viggers, Peter
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Walden, George
Hunter, Andrew Waller, Gary
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Ward, John
Irvine, Michael Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Jack, Michael Watts, John
Janman, Tim Wells, Bowen
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Wheeler, John
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Widdecombe, Ann
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Wiggin, Jerry
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Wilkinson, John
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Winterton, Mrs Ann
Key, Robert Winterton, Nicholas
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Wood, Timothy
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Woodcock, Mike
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Maclean, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Maude, Hon Francis Mr. Tony Durant and
Neale, Gerrard Mr. David Liehtbown.
Abbott, Ms Diane Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Alton, David Leadbitter, Ted
Anderson, Donald Lewis, Terry
Armstrong, Hilary Livsey, Richard
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Barron, Kevin Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Battle, John McAllion, John
Beckett, Margaret McAvoy, Thomas
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Macdonald, Calum A.
Bermingham, Gerald McGrady, Eddie
Boyes, Roland McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Bradley, Keith McKelvey, William
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) McWilliam, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Madden, Max
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Buckley, George J. Marek, Dr John
Caborn, Richard Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Callaghan, Jim Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Martlew, Eric
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Meale, Alan
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Michael, Alun
Clay, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clelland, David Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Moonie, Dr Lewis
Cohen, Harry Morgan, Rhodri
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Morley, Elliott
Crowther, Stan Mowlam, Marjorie
Cryer, Bob Mullin, Chris
Cummings, John Murphy, Paul
Cunliffe, Lawrence Nellist, Dave
Dalyell, Tarn O'Brien, William
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) O'Neill, Martin
Dewar, Donald Patchett, Terry
Dixon, Don Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Dobson, Frank Prescott, John
Doran, Frank Redmond, Martin
Dunnachie, Jimmy Robertson, George
Eadie, Alexander Rooker, Jeff
Fatchett, Derek Ruddock, Joan
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Salmond, Alex
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Sheerman, Barry
Flannery, Martin Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Foster, Derek Short, Clare
Fyfe, Maria Skinner, Dennis
Galbraith, Sam Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Galloway, George Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
George, Bruce Spearing, Nigel
Godman, Dr Norman A. Steinberg, Gerry
Golding, Mrs Llin Straw, Jack
Gordon, Mildred Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Graham, Thomas Turner, Dennis
Grocott, Bruce Wall, Pat
Hardy, Peter Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Henderson, Doug Wareing, Robert N.
Hinchliffe, David Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Home Robertson, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Hood, Jimmy Winnick, David
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hoyle, Doug Worthington, Tony
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Wray, Jimmy
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Tellers for the Noes:
Illsley, Eric Mr. Frank Haynes and
Ingram, Adam Mr. Allen Adams.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Education (Assisted Places) (Amendment) Regulations 1988, which were laid before this House on 13th June, be approved.