HC Deb 23 March 1988 vol 130 cc366-98 3.58 pm
Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

I beg to move amendment No. 57, in page 1, line 11, leave out 'every maintained school' and insert 'as respects the education of all children of compulsory school age'.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 56, in page 1, line 11, leave out 'maintained school' and insert 'school with more than nineteen pupils'. No. 58, in page 1, line 14, leave out from second 'of' to end of line 15 and insert 'every school with more than nineteen pupils'.

Mr. Fatchett

Yesterday, in what was to some extent a preliminary skirmish, we discussed a series of important issues. We now come to the heart of the Bill and of the Government's proposals. In many respects, the key to those proposals is the Government's submission of a national curriculum.

The Secretary of State, in his usual charming manner, has often tried to pretend that there is a national consensus on his proposal for a national curriculum. As we pointed out yesterday, no such consensus is apparent in the opinion polls. Despite, or perhaps because of, the right hon. Gentleman's advocacy of his own curriculum, support for a national curriculum has fallen by about 20 per cent. in the past four months. Some of us wish that the Secretary of State would spend even more time advocating his own cause, as all his proposals might then receive negative support.

There is no consensus among parents or among the Opposition, although the Secretary of State sometimes likes to pretend that there is. Anyone who has read the Committee Hansards knows that the Labour party and the minority parties tried time and again to amend the proposals for a whole series of reasons. That does not mean that we do not believe in an agreed core curriculum. It would be foolish and churlish to pretend otherwise. Conservative Members who have read our election manifesto—I am sure that they all have—will recognise that we went into the last election with a proposal for an agreed core curriculum.

It is difficult to describe what is before us as an agreed core curriculum. It is a curriculum that the Secretary of State has tried to impose without consultation with teacher organisations, without effective consultation with local authorities, and certainly without any meaningful consultation with parents or parent organisations.

Serious criticisms can be made of the Secretary of State's proposal for a national curriculum. First, the national curriculum is in danger of being too prescriptive, too restrictive and static. The best educational changes in recent years have taken place when teachers have brought forward new ideas, such as the movement towards design and technology subjects. Such new ideas came from teachers but now figure centrally in terms of curriculum development.

Secondly, we have expressed concern time after time that the Government have no notion of what the national curriculum needs in terms of resources or the amount of time that it will demand of the school timetable. Indeed, we have had some fanciful notions in relation to the amount of time—from, I believe, one minute from the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), to 99 per cent. of school time.

The national curriculum is variable in terms of the Government's notion of what a national curriculum is. We feel strongly that in bringing his proposal to the House and the country the Government should have had a much clearer idea of what they meant by a "national curriculum".

Thirdly, in Committee we expressed our unease about the balance in the national curriculum. Some of that unease will be expressed in the later debate, which I shall not pre-empt. We tabled new clauses in Committee to deal with the question of the teaching of the arts and their role in the national curriculum. If my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Stott) catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will talk about development curriculum in his area. We still feel strongly that the arts provide an important part of school life and should be an important part of any agreed core curriculum. We feel that the Secretary of State's national curriculum does not fit our requirement to satisfy the needs of the arts and the potential for the development for individuals and subjects, through study of the arts.

We have expressed substantial reservations and concerns about the national curriculum, and it would be a total misinterpretation of the events in Standing Committee for the Secretary of State to pretend that there has been consensus for his version of the national curriculum. Indeed, the Secretary of State seems to have some difficulty in carrying sections of his own party with him.

Those of us who have had the opportunity of reading an article in The Observer on Sunday will have seen the headline over a story by Judith Judd, its education correspondent, entitled "Tories in school rift". It is yet another story of arguments between the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. Dr. Sheila Lawlor, who worked in Conservative Central Office until the last election is reported as arguing that the national curriculum should be confined to three core subjects: English, maths and science. Her views are significant because they echo those of Mrs. Thatcher, who has been battling with Mr. Kenneth Baker, Education Secretary, over the national curriculum. It does not need a very perceptive journalist to recognise that that battle has been taking place, because the Secretary of State carries the scars around with him for all of us to see. Some of us would like to have a slight gamble on the result of that battle, and if we were to have a slight gamble, it would be that the right hon. Lady will win. That will be yet another victory for matriarchy in the Cabinet. The Prime Minister will again be victorious.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)


Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)


Mr. Fatchett

I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) first.

Mr. Flannery

Does my hon. Friend agree that if the Secretary of State loses the battle, he is liable to be found in St. James's park collecting the refuse?

Mr. Fatchett

I do not know what fate will befall the Secretary of State, although we all take a keen interest in his future. Incidentally, my hon. Friend will be interested in the stories about how that rubbish arrived in St. James's park. It may well have been spread there for the Prime Minister to pick up at a later stage. I cannot imagine the Secretary of State getting into such an unprincipled position that he would want to be the man who put down the rubbish for the Prime Minister to pick up later.

Mr. Dalyell

What odds would my hon. Friend give me if I put my money on the Secretary of State to win?

Mr. Fatchett

My hon. Friend is trying to tempt me into strange paths. I know that he comes from a strictly puritanical background. In that respect it is dangerous to tempt me into gambling, and it is certainly against his moral code.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not farcical that we should have to listen to this, as it has absolutely nothing to do with this selection of amendments? There is a real problem that, in the first time scale up to 6 o'clock, only one debate has been allocated and an enormous number of subjects relating to the national curriculum are extremely unlikely to be reached. Is it not odd that only one subject should have been chosen for the period up to 6 o'clock, and is it not a reproach that Opposition Members cannot think of anything relevant to say on the one subject that they have chosen?

Mr. Fatchett

I shall move on, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, we are not responsible for the selection of amendments.

The amendments seek to do two things. First, they try to ensure that smaller schools, which may have reason to opt out of the national curriculum, may do so. Secondly, they try to ensure that the national curriculum covers all our children in all our schools.

I deal first with the point about smaller schools. I refer to the primary sector by definition of the numbers used in the amendment. Some smaller schools will have genuine difficulty in delivering the national curriculum. There has to be a balanced argument on this, because in many rural communities the small school is seen as being of great advantage to that community. Such smaller schools provide a good standard of education. There is much defence of the small primary schools that are at the heart of village life. I should have thought that the Government would want to find a means by which a particular school, which may have difficulty in delivering the national curriculum, can somehow exempt itself from that national curriculum, but have the ability to continue to deliver the good standard of education which is often associated with village schools.

I know that, in the role that he performs for the Government, the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dartford often has to deal with the proposed closures of village schools. He will often find that the quality of education in such schools is of a high standard. In such cases, it may be difficult — technically and literally—to deliver the national curriculum, if one takes a prescriptive and formal view of it. The amendment asks whether it will be possible to find a mechanism whereby the relationship of those schools to the national curriculum is not too formally restricted. Perhaps when the Minister of State replies, she could give us a response on that.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that in our part of the world where the standard of education in some very small schools is quite outstandingly good, those schools will have every opportunity to deliver the national curriculum, because they already do so automatically? It is what they regard as standard good practice, and they deliver it. Whether or not the Bill comes in, those schools will still deliver what is now known as the core curriculum.

Mr. Fatchett

The hon. Lady makes my argument. We are concerned about maintaining those schools and that good quality of education. If there is a good quality of education that is in line with the national curriculum, there is no problem. If there is a quality of education which may not be strictly in line with the national curriculum but which is still perceived by parents and teachers as being good, especially if, in a small school, it may be difficult to deliver the national curriculum and its demands in relation to resources—particularly in terms of science pre-11—it may be sensible for the Government to think about the possibility of those small schools having the right to opt out of the formal prescription of the national curriculum. That is all that the amendment seeks to do.

We are trying to be helpful. We are trying to help village schools and village life. If the national curriculum is too much of a dead hand, it could be too restrictive. We tabled the amendment to see how the Government reacted to the problem. I think that we share with the hon. Lady some interest in what the Minister of State says when she concludes the debate. I assure the hon. Lady that there is no attempt in this part of my speech to divide the House on party political grounds, because all of us are trying to secure the continuation of village schools. We do not want to see the national curriculum as a barrier in that respect.

The second part of the amendment refers to the application of the national curriculum to all our children. If there is an argument for a national curriculum, it must extend to each and every one of our children. We have still had no response from the Government on why the so-called national curriculum does not apply to the private sector. Why does the Cabinet not apply the national curriculum to its children? If it is good enough for children in the maintained sector, is it not good enough for the children of Members of the Cabinet? Is it not good enough for the children who go to private sector schools? The Government have not yet given an answer to that.

The Government have an obligation to give an answer to those of my constituents who come to me and say, "Mr. Fatchett, we understand that Mr. Baker has come up with another of his ideas." I always say to them, "Calm down, because the last of Mr. Baker's ideas was the poll tax." My constituents say, "This is a good idea. Mr. Baker says that he will have a national curriculum for all our children. We think that that is a wonderful idea. He will extend the national curriculum to every one of our children." But I say, "No, Mr. Baker will extend the national curriculum only to children who are taught in the maintained sector." Those who buy their education for their children will be able to opt out of the national curriculum, but that right does not apply to my constituents, who have to rely upon the maintained sector. Why does not the Secretary of State's idea apply to all our children?

One or two justifications were given for that in Committee. I re-read the debate with interest. At column 42, the hon. Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) said that the difference was that those who were in the private sector had "the freedom to move." That is an interesting argument. That freedom to move is restricted because, by definition, the private sector is restricted. That freedom to move does not apply to more than 90 per cent. of the population.

Let me use the words expressed by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), in the Scottish Grand Committee on Monday — it is a freedom to move that can be exercised only "through the cheque book." That freedom does not apply to all our children. It allows some to opt out of the national curriculum, but the vast majority of parents, under what is supposedly a parents' charter, do not have that right.

There is a distortion in logic, because the Government tell us that the Bill is about giving all parents the freedom to choose the school they want for their child. If that is so, and if open enrolment is to provide that freedom, why should it not allow the national curriculum to apply to the independent schools or, by implication, why should it not allow the state sector to opt out of the national curriculum? Why cannot parents in the maintained sector exercise the same freedom as those in the private sector and say, "We do not want to go to maintained school A because it follows the national curriculum, but we want to go to maintained school B because its curriculum is biased more towards the arts, or towards the sciences."? Why cannot those parents make that choice, if it can be made in the private sector?

The second justification for not applying the national curriculum to the private sector was offered by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) in a speech which I read this morning and which was, as usual, interesting and full of interventions. The hon. Gentleman always stimulated the Committee. He argued that the simple difference was that the private schools were subject to the ultimate sanction of the market place". —[Official Report, Standing Committee J, 10 December 1987; c. 51.] Therefore, all else falls and the market place predominates in our view of the values and priorities of education. Can society accept that? [AN HON. MEMBER: "Yes."] The hon. Gentleman can, but is there an absolute right and an absolute freedom for the market place?

I re-read what the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth said. He said that education had two purposes. One is the transmission of shared cultural values —education transmits from generation to generation what our society is about. If one holds that view, one cannot at the same time—because it is inconsistent—give absolute freedom to the market place because the market place may operate in divergence from, in conflict with, the values of the education system and the culture that one is trying to transmit from generation to generation. The hon. Gentleman's support for the market place cannot run alongside the support of a national education system with a national curriculum.

4.15 pm
Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)

I am listening with interest to the hon. Gentleman. He is making a meal of the argument. In my experience, in the private sector the schools are extremely sensitive to the expectations of the national education system. They tend to adopt the parts of the national education system that they see as an improvement remarkably rapidly and effectively.

There is a difference between schools that are wholly accountable to the Secretary of State, the Government and the public sector for their financing, and schools that are not. With regard to shared cultural values, the hon. Gentleman will find that over the centuries the private sector has consistently adopted the parts of the national education system that conduce towards such values.

Mr. Fatchett

The hon. Gentleman comes to the third justification—

Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

The hon. Gentleman referred to the independents and to "the freedom to move". This was the point that was made in Committee. That phrase means that, if a parent does not like the quality or standard of education that is being given to his child in an independent school, he can exercise the ultimate sanction. Either he does not send his child to that school or he removes his child from the school. With respect, that is the point that was made in Committee.

Mr. Fatchett

With respect, I have already dealt with that point. If the argument of the hon. Gentleman and the Government is that all parents will be given greater freedom, why does not that freedom extend all the way—why does it not extend, by analogy, to allowing parents to make a choice on the school curriculum and the provision that it will give?

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Fatchett

I shall not give way. We must make progress, because this is a short debate. I respect the point made earlier by the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison).

The Government's third justification has been used by the Minister of State and by the hon. Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe). They say that this is not a problem, that the vast majority of schools in the independent sector already teach something that looks like the national curriculum. I congratulate the schools in the private sector on being so perceptive. If they teach something that is like the national curriculum, perhaps they should tell Ministers so that they can define what the national curriculum is, because after five months' debate on the Bill, it is clear that they have no idea.

Assuming that the private sector is so perceptive, the Minister argued that there is no justification for extending the legal requirement to the private sector, and the private sector should still be allowed to opt out. There are two faults in that argument. The first relates to the argument by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth. I took the opportunity to look at the Education Act 1944, section 71 of which places a responsibility upon the Secretary of State's shoulders to oversee the standards and quality of education provided in the private sector.

With respect to the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, we are not discussing an absolute market because the Secretary of State has a regulating, statutory control over private sector education. Given that the Secretary of State already has that control, and if he is proud of his concept of a national curriculum, there is no legal difficulty in extending that statutory responsibility under section 71 of the 1944 Act to private and independent schools. The power is already there.

I am not embarrassed to repeat what I consider to be the second fault in the argument. It may be said that private and independent schools already provide a good education and therefore they should not be covered by the national curriculum. Conservative Members should consider that many local authority and maintained schools provide a good standard of education for our children—a standard of which they and we are proud. If it is considered that the private sector does a good job and does not need to be covered by the national curriculum, why does that principle not pertain to the maintained sector as well? That is another example of the characteristic double standards of the Government.

Mr. Greenway

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, until now, schools in the maintained sector have had the freedom that he has described as presently pertaining to independent schools? I have exercised that freedom by introducing new and desired subjects with the support of pupils and parents. Given that freedom, however, we have still produced children whose average attainment in most subjects at 16 is some two years behind some of our continental rivals. In mathematics, the average attainment of our children is the same as the average attainment of the bottom 50 per cent. of children in Germany. Something must be done.

Mr. Fatchett

I am always grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his interventions. Indeed, I believe that he has made my argument better than I have so far managed to do. He is arguing that the maintained sector has enjoyed freedom, but that that freedom should be taken away, yet the private sector should retain that freedom. That illustrates exactly what I said about double standards and hypocrisy. The hon. Gentleman has put forward that argument with conviction and has set it out naked for all to see.

There is a simple explanation of why the private sector will not be covered by the national curriculum—because the Government believe in privilege. They practise that privilege for themselves, and in last week's Budget they invested in privilege and further divided our society. Such are the double standards that are typical of the Government. We oppose such double standards. If there is to be a national curriculum, properly agreed, resourcecl and discussed with teachers and parents, it must apply to all our children, without favour and without privilege. In that way, each of our children will have the opportunity to benefit from that national curriculum. Until that happens, the Government stand condemned of hypocrisy and double standards.

Mr. Raison

I will be doubly brief because, this debate does not have to run until 6 o'clock. I accept that it could but I believe that there are many other worthwhile matters that we could move on to at a cracking rate.

I wish to refer to the latter part of the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) regarding why the national curriculum should not apply to the independent sector. Fundamentally, the answer has to do with who provides those schools. The schools in the state sector — if I may use that term — are provided by the state and by the local authorities. The schools in the independent sector are provided by other people. In a nutshell that expresses the essence of the argument.

The hon. Gentleman quoted the Education Act 1944 and he should consider section 1 of the Act because it sets the argument in context. That section states that it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to promote the education of the people of England and Wales and the progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose, and to secure the effective execution by local authorities, under his control and direction, of the national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area. That section is significant because of the change it contains. Halfway through, that section discusses specifically the role of the local education authority and states that the Secretary of State has the job of controlling and directing the fulfilment of national policy. There is a marked change of tone in that section and it corresponds exactly with my argument.

There is a general duty upon the Secretary of State to promote education. Certainly, he has a policing role in relation to the independent sector—to which the hon. Member for Leeds, Central valiantly referred—but he has greater power to control and direct the provision of state education, primarily provided by local education authorities. That is the justification—it is entirely logical — for the fact that the Secretary of State has decided that the national curriculum is to apply to the state sector, but not to the independent sector. Indeed, independence is the essence of that sector.

Mr. Roger Stott (Wigan)

In common with my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) I was not a member of the Committee. Because of certain other Opposition Front Bench duties, I rarely get an opportunity to speak from the Back Benches, but I have felt it necessary to do so today because I have a keen interest in the national curriculum.

In common with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) I have read—today I have listened to—the rather spurious justifications as to why the private sector should not be subjected to the national curriculum. The justifications that have been put forward by Consevative Members are defective and warped. I do not see any justification for the private sector not being subjected to the national curriculum as proposed by the Secretary of State. Perhaps if I pursue that line of argument, however, I might not wish such a curriculum to be imposed upon the private sector because I take strong objection to the curriculum that the Secretary of State is seeking to impose on the maintained sector.

The Secretary of State is aware that most of us would prefer some form of core curriculum—that is obvious and necessary. Having established that core curriculum, its development should be left to the local education authorities and they should ensure that they fulfil their functions under the Education Act 1944.

The Secretary of State is aware that I represent a small part of the metropolitan borough of Wigan. Some time ago the people who run the education services of Wigan took the view that education was extremely important and, as a consequence of local government reorganisation that occurred some 14 years ago, they prioritised expenditure on education. They did so to ensure that all our children got entitlements under the curriculum. The Secretary of State is aware of that because his inspectors were in Wigan about 18 months ago to draw up their report. If the Secretary of State has read that report—if he has not, he should — he will know, or at least his Department will know, that the HMI report was absolutely superb.

Mr. Fatchett

The Secretary of State does not know where Wigan is.

Mr. Stott

If the Secretary of State does not know where Wigan is, he should come and look.

Perhaps the Secretary of State saw a recent programme on BBC2. He must surely know that BBC2 is doing a series of programmes on education. One programme was about Wigan's educational policy. We are proud that we prioritise arts in education. I recommend that the Secretary of State gets a tape from his Department and watches the programme. We prioritise our expenditure and place the arts highly.

4.30 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) visited the Drumcroom arts centre in Wigan and he will confirm that it is one of the finest in Great Britain. We have artists in residence and perform a host of music from rock to classical. Lest Conservative Members think that because the curriculum is art-orientated, it is defective in ensuring that our students are properly educated, the inspectors' report states that in the whole of the United Kingdom Wigan comes ninth for passes in GCE 0 and A-levels. Bearing in mind that there is 18 per cent. unemployment and a great deal of council housing, and that many people are on social security and most people come from deprived backgrounds, that record is a shining example of local authority education.

The Secretary of State now seeks to impose on the metropolitan borough of Wigan a national curriculum which is wholly inferior to the one we have. I wish that he would come to Wigan and debate this with me, because there is interest in it. The Socialist Education Association with the assistance of the local authority has held two day schools for governors: one in Wigan and one in Leigh. On each occasion about 150 governors attended to examine the Secretary of State's proposals for a national curriculum. They came from all parties and included Church people, and not a single governor approved of or agreed with the Secretary of State's imposition of a national curriculum.

It is paradoxical that I support an amendment which seeks to foist on the private sector a national curriculum which I do not want foisted on the Wigan LEA. This debate at least gives some of us an opportunity to tell the Secretary of State that we have been around for a long time, developing curricula and entitling all our children, wherever they come from, to learning. This national curriculum does not allow LEAs to do that.

As I have said, some people may criticise us for prioritising the arts in education, but that has not stopped the vast majority of the children in my area attaining good academic qualifications and standards. Indeed, it has helped. The Secretary of State seeks to deny those children that opportunity.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Baker)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Stott

It is no use the Secretary of State shaking his head. That will be the effect. For those reasons, although they may seem perverse, I shall support the amendment.

Mr. Michael Carttiss (Great Yarmouth)

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will ensure that any core curriculum that gives advantage to the arts will eliminate the use of words such as "prioritise". I can hardly pronounce such an inappropriate word. If that is the outcome of the core curriculum established in Wigan, I do not think much of it.

Yesterday and again this afternoon the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) remarked that my right hon. Friend was arguing incorrectly when he asserted that the Bill has gained in popularity and has become more widely accepted as it has gone through the House.

Mr. Fatchett

That is absolute nonsense.

Mr. Carttiss

The hon. Gentleman contradicted my right hon. Friend's statement that more people are coming to accept the Bill. There is no doubt about that. When it comes into effect, the public will wonder why on earth it was ever opposed and why it took the Committee 200 hours to debate it.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman is making wild statements. I have never received a single letter in support of the Bill. How many letters has he received? We have not received any.

Mr. Carttiss

I wonder how many letters the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and his colleagues have received in favour of nationalisation and 101 other policies which they pretend are the answers to the ills of this nation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I do not allow myself the rather unsophisticated measurement of the popularity of a Bill as being how many letters people write in support of or against it. The volume of mail I had in favour of retaining dog licences far exceeded my mail on the Abortion (Amendment) Bill.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

No doubt my hon. Friend has not received many letters about the Bill, but I am sure that he can reassure the House that during the general election he put these proposals in his election material. Can he tell the House how many votes he received on the strength of that?

Mr. Carttiss

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. We had the biggest share of the poll that has ever been cast in the Great Yarmouth constituency for a Conservative Government — over 51 per cent. [Interruption.] As a former chairman of the Norfolk education committee and as a person who earned his living as a teacher in the town that I now proudly represent, I do not need letters from people telling me that the Bill is right.

Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

Has the hon. Gentleman been to the Library and read the responses to the consultation documents from teachers, parents and local education authorities? [HON. MEMBERS: "Vested interests."] There are not many people who are not parents, teachers or connected with LEAs. Those people encompass a large section of the population. Has the hon. Gentleman looked at those responses? What support is in them for the Bill and, in particular, this clause?

Mr. Carttiss

I have not read the responses in the Library, nor do I intend to do so. My role is to judge and reflect the views of the people who have sent me here, and I have no doubt what they are.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman


Mr. Carttiss

I shall give way once more, but I must make my point on the clause rather than on the popularity of the Bill.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Is my hon. Friend aware of the regrettable fact that the Lancashire education committee failed properly to notify many of the schools in our area so that they did not have an opportunity to respond? Half my district were informed by a good district education officer and they responded positively; the other half did not. The ones that have responded have had many of their anxieties carefully dealt with by the Secretary of State.

Mr. Carttiss

As a member of governing bodies, I have met parents and teachers individually, away from the pressures of their union leaders. Some teachers in my constituency have become more sympathetic to the objectives which my right hon. Friend has brought before the House as they have read and come to understand the legislation.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary made an intervention from a sedentary position about knee-jerk responses. That is very much the attitude of the educational establishment, from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals down to the smallest branch of the National Union of Teachers. If the Government bring in a proposal to change what has been going on in education for a long time, it is automatically seen as wrong.

I am conscious that there is a guillotine — incidentally, I did not support it—so I want to conclude by referring to the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Leeds, Central. As the Bill has progressed, it has been recognised that it addresses what is in the forefront of a better education service. I have become more impressed and more readily persuaded by the depth of understanding of the Government Front Bench team. As an ex-teacher and a former local authority member, I had considerable reservations about various aspects of the Bill. As I have studied the proceedings in Committee, I have been more convinced that the reform will be welcomed.

I am still in difficulty about the provision which the Opposition seek to amend. If we believe that a national core curriculum should be introduced — that has been accepted with varying emphasis by Opposition Members—it should apply to all schools. I do not accept the arguments advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) or the interventions of my hon. Friends the Members for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) and for Rugby and Kenilworth"(M r. Pawsey) who attempted to justify the exclusion of the independent sector from the national core curriculum.

I understand the arguments which have been advanced and I note of the distinction drawn by my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury between schools provided by the state and schools provided independently. However, the notion that all independent schools offer children a wonderful education is not completely accurate in my experience. A significant number of private schools need a shake. The idea that parents can take their children away from a school or will send them to a school only if they are satisfied that they will get the best education there is not always an accurate reflection of the reality which dictates a decision. Sometimes the decision to opt for a private school results from the abysmal failure of nearby local authority comprehensive schools. Therefore, let us not imagine that the practices which we are putting forward as appropriate are not already in existence in many state-maintained schools.

Many local authority schools will welcome the core curriculum being a national requirement which will be judged to be in the best interests of pupils. For that reason, I wonder whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will in due time consider the argument that there is merit in a national core curriculum being applied to the independent sector as well as to the whole of the maintained sector.

I support 100 per cent. the offer—not imposition—of a national core curriculum. It is a long overdue reform which would have been welcomed by many teachers 20 years ago when I started to teach. If anything is wrong, it is that the proposal is late. I think of all the pupils who missed the chance of having a national core curriculum. I welcome all of this. I hope that as the Bill progresses, we will consider the possibility of extending the core curriculum to the independent sector as well as to the state sector.

4.45 pm
Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

The House will have listened with interest to the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss) and particularly to the latter part of his speech. We shall watch with interest to see whether he has the stomach to follow his speech in the Division.

One of the most revealing aspects of the hon. Gentleman's speech was the perhaps unintended answer to the intervention by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who asked whether he had received any letters of support from parents for the Bill. The hon. Gentleman's reply was to ask whether the Labour party had received any support for nationalisation. It was a fair retort. Of course, the two answers are connected. There was very little support for nationalisation, which is why there is very little support for the national curriculum, which is nationalisation, as was revealed clearly by the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison).

The right hon. Gentleman made a remarkable argument. He said that independent schools should not be subject to what the Government insist on calling a national curriculum because they are not state schools. He thus revealed immediately that we are not dealing with a national curriculum which will apply to the whole nation but with a state curriculum. That is why it is so offensive.

The right hon. Member for Aylesbury hoped that we would get through the debate quickly. He would have that hope, because this is a sorry and distasteful example of partiality and double standards. In wishing to pass over it quickly, the right hon. Gentleman at least recognises the justifiable embarrassment to Conservative Members.

The right hon. Gentleman's third point was about independence. He said that independent schools should not have to adhere to the national curriculum, because they are independent. But at the very centre of the Government's argument on the Bill is that they are seeking to give independence and freedom to schools and to parents. Nowhere in the Bill is this more nakedly revealed as a fraud than in the fact that the Government will not give parents in the maintained sector the right and the freedom which are being given to parents in the independent sector.

They argue freedom on the one hand but if parents in the maintained sector vote to remove the schools in whole or in part from the national curriculum — not at the wish of the teachers, the head teachers, the governors or the ILEA — the Government will not give them that freedom. The Government argue that the Bill is all about freedom, but they display clearly that that standard does not bear up to close examination.

Mr. Rowe

The presence of the hon. Gentleman in the House shows clearly that he comes from an untypical part of the country. In my part of the country I have held meetings with the heads and governors of schools and have also addressed the Kent Association of Parent-Teacher Associations. Support for the national curriculum is widespread and is tempered only by an anxiety that it may be too rigorously and rigidly enforced.

Mr. Ashdown

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, and I shall deal with it in a moment. There is support for the concept of a national curriculum. I support it, as does the Labour party. There is genuine consensus on the matter, but the hon. Gentleman should not believe that there is consensus for the restrictive and narrow national curriculum, fed by dogma, that would be imposed on us by the Bill.

After long hours of debate with the Secretary of State, for the first time I feel a little sorry for him. He is in a highly precarious position. He is doing his best to steer a course between the good sense to which I believe he subscribes and the dogma that drives him from behind. As the hon. Member for Leeds, Central said, only last weekend the Centre for Policy Studies—the voice of the Conservative party—said that the national curriculum should be much more restrictive than the Secretary of State wants. The Minister of State who will reply to the debate, the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold), is the Prime Minister's commissar, foisted upon the Secretary of State to ensure that he preserves his ideological purity. We all know that.

I feel sorry for the Secretary of State because I know that, during the next three or four months, the ground will be subtly cut away from under his feet on the issue of the national curriculum. He will scramble back — his footwork is fast enough to do it—from the edge of the precipice to keep his feet firmly on a route to Downing street. But we shall watch the ground being cut away little by little, just as it has been in relation to other aspects of the Bill. It has happened with testing and with the Inner London education authority, and it will happen with the national curriculum. The Centre for Policy Studies has voiced the views and wishes of the Prime Minister. She will have her way, and the Secretary of State will be in an increasingly precarious position.

There is consensus among parents for a national curriculum. Indeed, most people who comment on such matters believe that a de facto national curriculum already exists, at least up to the age of 14. In an interesting intervention, the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame Kellett-Bowman) said that such a national curriculum exists in schools in her constituency. If the Secretary of State said, "We want a structure which will allow us, by issuing Department guidelines or by the many other means at our disposal, to encourage good practice and ensure a strong system," I would fully support him, but to lay down a national curriculum which can be altered only by Parliament is bound to place an inflexible structure on education which will damage it.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)

The hon. Gentleman said that it is generally agreed that, up to the age of 14, there is a national curriculum. That may be true for most pupils in secondary schools, but it is not true for many children in the remedial stfeams of secondary schools—not statemented children or those in special schools—who are given a mish-mash diet of English and maths and lose out on the distinctive subjects which their fellow students enjoy. The national curriculum will help those students.

Mr. Ashdown

Those are important exceptions, but I ask the hon. Gentleman whether we should introduce a mechanism to solve the problems of a recalcitrant minority in a way that disadvantages the whole. I would argue not. For example, a national curriculum as constructed in the Bill would damage primary education terribly. With good reason, our primary sector is renowned throughout the world. It is probably at the forefront of primary education and is regarded by other nations as a model. That is because of the experimentation, innovation and development that is going on. But most of that experimentation and innovation will be brought to a cluttering halt by the imposition of a series of inflexible standards.

As we approach a period of change even greater than that which we have experienced until now, we cannot predict what will be required of the British educational system in the mid-1990s. We should encourage innovation and experimentation. Instead, we have a framework for a national curriculum which, far from being responsive to the needs of the day, can he altered only by Parliament. That cannot be sensible for our future education, nor can it be good for democracy—which, in a way, worries me even more.

Is it a good idea to put in place a national curriculum to overcome some of the lunacies of extreme Left-wing councils which would give a future Government—perhaps a Labour one—the power to dictate what happens in our schools? We know that the Secretary of State will not abuse the powers, but can we say honestly that those who follow him will not abuse them? I cannot say that, and Conservative Members cannot, with good conscience, say it either.

We should not look only to the future and make predictions. We should also cast an eye on the past, because such things have happened before. In 1904, Robert Morant tried to prescribe a national curriculum for secondary schools. His timetable set aside seven and half hours a week for mathematics and science, four and half hours for English, geography and history, and three and half hours for a language. There is some resemblance between that and the present position. But the proposal was a complete fiasco, and Morant himself was dropped in 1911. In a memorandum on school teachers that could have come from this Government, he referred to school teachers as uncultured and imperfectly educated … . creatures of tradition and routine. Even further back, the Bryce report of 1895 came to this conclusion: Education is a thing too intimately concerned with individual preference and private life for it to be desirable to throw the whole of it under Government control. It needs organisation, but it would be destroyed by uniformity; it is stimulated by inspection, but it could be crushed by a code. Even before that, in 1862, Robert Lowe tried to establish a code of teaching and payment by results, but it was highly discredited and it failed.

The proposed national curriculum will not only damage education in the future but is a threat to pluralism in our democracy.

Mr. Raison

The hon. Gentleman said that a national curriculum would be a threat to pluralism, but the essential point of the debate is that the ability of the independent sector to be independent is a mark of pluralism which the hon. Gentleman seems happy to destroy.

Mr. Ashdown

The right hon. Gentleman takes me nicely on to my next point. The independent sector will be free to opt out of the national curriculum, if parents wish it. I do not want the independent sector to be brought within the enforced national curriculum of the maintained sector. I want the maintained sector to have similar freedom. I want to encourage pluralism—not to crush the independent sector under the national curriculum, but to give the maintained sector the freedom, which the Government say is at the heart of the Bill, to opt out should parents wish it. How can the Government argue in favour of parental choice and power and deny parents in the maintained sector the right to take that route? The fact that they do so exposes their double standards.

The Government's underpinning motive is grubby and discreditable. It is to place a different standard on "our people" in the state sector. Here I return to the words of Robert Lowe, which are extremely interesting. In his booklet "Primary and Classical Education", published in 1867 shortly after publication of the revised code or 1862, he said: I do not think it is any part of the duty of the Government to prescribe what people should learn, except in the case of the poor, where time is so limited that we must fix upon a few elementary subjects to get anything done at all … The lower classes ought to be educated to discharge the duties cast upon them. They should also be educated that they may appreciate and defer to a higher cultivation when they meet it, and the higher classes ought to be educated in a very different manner, in order that they may exhibit to the lower classes that higher education to which, if it were shown to them, they would bow down and defer". Those words should ring in our ears as we understand the Government's motives for their squalid, distasteful double standards.

5 pm

Mr. John Maples (Lewisham, West)

I may not be right, but I think that the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) has just quoted a Minister in a Liberal or Whig-Liberal Government. To have to dredge 120 years into history to criticise what this Government are doing demonstrates the thinness of his argument.

I did not have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee that considered the Bill, and I apologise in advance if I go over some old ground. The Committee proceedings went on for so long that some ground must have been gone over several times already. I am wholeheartedly in favour of the Government's proposals, not because they are intended to raise standards but because I believe that they will raise standards of education and achievement, because of the two planks that I perceive in the policy. The first is creating some diversity among schools, a subject that we shall deal with in a debate later this evening. The second directly affects standards by means of the curriculum and testing, which are vital if we are to achieve higher standards. I agree with those who say that we must not put education in a straitjacket. That is not what the proposals will do. However, the present system is too free. There may be good practices in some educational authorities, but there are weak ones in others.

I want to give a few examples of the evidence, many of which come from my education authority—ILEA. ILEA is Labour educational policy writ large and one is entitled to use examples from it to show why so many Conservative Members are concerned about what is happening. After attending 200 science lessons in ILEA, HMI rated 40 per cent. as less than satisfactory and 15 per cent. as unbelievably bad. That is in an authority that spends a great deal of money on providing education, yet the standard of its science classes, which are so vital to our future, is apparently weak.

A recent survey of mathematics standards showed that the performance of pupils between 1964 and the mid-1980s had fallen at a time when nothing could have been more important than the mathematical skills that we need in a computer age. In Germany, 90 per cent. of 16-year-olds leave school with a higher school certificate in mathematics, German, a foreign language and two other subjects—five subjects in all. In England, fewer than 40 per cent. of school leavers manage to achieve the same standards. More than 20 per cent. of 16-year-olds leave three of the seven secondary schools in my constituency without one exam pass at CSE or GCE. In only one school did more than 15 per cent. of the pupils obtain five CSEs or GCEs. That is a serious problem to face. One can make all sorts of excuses about difficulties in inner cities but the fact remains that in only one of the seven schools in my constituency did more than 15 per cent. of 16-year-olds get five passes at GCE or CSE.

I have one or two other pieces of evidence. Of band 1 children in ILEA—the 25 per cent. who are supposedly the most able—only a third end up getting five O-levels or CSEs at 16. Another recent survey showed that 6 million adults have literacy or numeracy problems in adult life, which is compelling evidence of the problem with the standards being achieved in education. Our system is failing far too many children.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the CSE exam was introduced on the criterion that it should apply only to the top 70 per cent. of children and that it was not designed for the least able 30 per cent? It is therefore a little hard to criticise a local authority in which 20 per cent. get nothing, when the exam was not designed to cater for those children.

Mr. Maples

I understand that. My point was that in only one of the seven schools in my constituency did 15 per cent. get five passes. Only one third of band 1 children get passes. If 70 per cent. of children were obtaining 5 GCEs or CSEs there would be no problem, but fewer than 15 per cent. are getting them in most schools.

I offer one or two diagnoses of the problems. I do not pretend to know all the solutions, but there is some evidence that our education system has expectations that are too low in too many places. It fails to challenge or stretch enough children. I give an example from an article that appeared in a Sunday newspaper about a year and a half ago. It was written by Bel Mooney, who admits that the idea of sending her child to a private school would have been laughable before her experience: I write as someone who laughed at the idea that I (of all people) would pay for my own children's schooling. But, as always, experience catches up with ideals and overtakes them. You realise this for the first time when your five-year-old comes home from primary school in the third term of his first year and to your motherly question, 'What did you do in school today, dear?' replies cheerfully, yet again, 'Oh, we played about with the Lego.' Time after time during that"—

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

What nonsense.

Mr. Maples

The hon. Gentleman does not like this, but it is exactly the sort of thing parents are worried about. He should listen to them, rather than the prejudices of his union.

To continue the quotation: Time after time, during that year I went to his class teacher and even to the headmistress of that school in south London and asked why he was not learning to read. I was told, with earnest good will, that I must not seek to 'push' my son, and that (this said with great sadness) it was a common failing amongst achieving middle-class British parents. She then decided to put her child into a private school that she admitted was not particularly good: They tested him and said that on the basis of what he produced they would have classified him as backward, yet would still take him after Easter. I was warned that he would probably have to stay down a year in September. And? At the end of that one term he had caught up with the other boys sufficiently to move up with them. There was nothing wrong with my son's ability. It was just that he had been taught by woolly-minded ladies who believed that he was in a school to play creatively. In other words— my son had never been taught the basics. I am aware that this is anecdotal evidence and I hope that the experience is not widespread. However, it motivated one well-known journalist to write an article in a Sunday newspaper and it expresses exactly the sort of worries that parents have. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) should not mock it.

Mr. Flannery

I am not mocking it. The hon. Gentleman reads out a letter and proceeds to generalise about the entire system on the basis of a five-year-old coming home from school and saying that he played with Lego. If the hon. Gentleman judges an education system, or life in general, on a single aspect such as that, heaven help us. That is prejudice gone wild.

Mr. Maples

It is one of about 10 pieces of evidence that I have given. It was not a letter—it was an article in a popular, widely read, quality Sunday newspaper, written by Bel Mooney, who is a well-respected English journalist and not a card-carrying Conservative, as far as I know. The hon. Gentleman did, indeed, mock it in the yahbooing fashion of Opposition Members. If he does not take the concerns of parents seriously, he is missing the point.

Mr. Flannery

I do not take the hon. Gentleman seriously.

Mr. Maples

The cause of all this is the weakness in trying to ensure that education is a meaningful experience for children. Education is not, to use my right hon. Friend's phrase, something that washes over one. It is not something to be experienced, like a swim or eating a good meal. It requires study, concentration and effort on the part of the pupils, and motivation and challenge on the part of their teachers. Too often, that has been missing. It is not the fault of teachers : we have a bad education system in England. For some reason one is a swot for working hard in school, and far too often parents take the attitude that it is not worth their children's while getting a good education. We must change that, too.

A great deal comes back to what is happening in schools. Targets, motivation, ensuring that children learn their basics, and the ability to discover which children are not reaching certain standards, so that they can then be helped, should all be greatly facilitated by the national curriculum and testing. The new system will also set standards for teachers. The end result should be that pupils leave school with the skills that they need in their working lives in a world that is increasingly demanding more skills.

One of the main criticisms of the Bill is that it will be bad for children because it will make those performing less well feel inferior. That is dangerous nonsense. Children in a school know who is and who is not working hard; they know who is and who is not achieving. It is not fair on those who work hard not to demonstrate their success, any more than it is fair on those who do not achieve not to discover that they either need to try harder or that they need additional help. Parents are entitled to know how well their children are doing and whether they are reaching the desired standards in reading, mathematics and science. If they are, that is fine, but if they are not we must help them to reach those standards.

Those who criticise the proposals should consider a few other points. For example, is not testing part of the way that music is taught? Grades in music are objective tests, and the pupil must pass one before he can move on to the next. I have heard no one criticise that on the ground that it would make a child who could not pass grade 2 on his flute or piano feel inferior to fellow pupils who passed that grade.

It is interesting to note that the Inner London education authority, which finds little that is good in the Government's proposals, recently put forward proposals for regular reading tests to monitor the reading performance of children in its schools. It is amazing that it has taken ILEA so long to recognise the importance of reading in the curriculum. The ILEA press release refers to regular reading tests and a regular record of a child's achievement, which is very much what the Government are proposing. The chairman of the schools sub-committee said: The new measures will do much to raise standards and improve quality in Inner London schools. They will ensure that the progress of every child is systematically charted and that no child's needs are overlooked. It is extraordinary that such a statement should come from ILEA, although I could not agree with it more. It should have followed that line many years ago. Yet the same people who now propose that system for ILEA criticise the Government's proposals and say that they are a dangerous departure, and those sentiments are echoed from the Opposition Benches.

An article by John Rae in The Independent on Monday shows the weakness of our attitude and the need for more robustness in the standards that we expect from our children. He reports a conversation with an official in a Japanese teacher's union: 'Slow learner?'. The official from the Japanese teachers' union looked puzzled. Then he thought he understood what his western visitor was driving at 'You mean child not try harder.' There appears to be an ethic in education that it is bad to push children who are not doing well, yet often that is exactly what they need. It is not that their education ability is any less than that of their fellow pupils. We use that excuse too often as an alibi for the failure of children. I am not concerned about what our education system provides for bright children — they do all right. However, I am concerned that far too many average children are not reaching standards that they could reach were a little more attention paid to them and a little more pressure put on them. We are failing too many such children, and that failure is dangerous for our economy because we live in an increasingly competitive world where higher and higher levels of technical skill and ability are needed and fewer and fewer unskilled jobs are available.

Above all, the present system fails children as individuals; it fails to help them to develop their abilities and talents to the maximum so that they can enjoy the full range of their intellectual abilities, whatever they may be, in their life and in their work. We need to develop an ethic in education among teachers, parents and pupils that motivates children and ensures achievement. I believe that the Government's proposals will do just that.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Marples) because, in many ways, he articulated very skilfully the great unease about education felt by people throughout the country. He quoted what I believe is art exceptional case of a Sunday newspaper columnist, and then suggested that that reflected a level of unease which justified the introduction of the Bill.

I had 14 years experience of the classroom before I came to the House. Unlike the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss), who is also a teacher, I did not have the opportunity to chair an education committee. I taught pupils of all levels of ability and with a variety of gifts. They were not entirely academic pupils, although taught O-level. I was also responsible for the development of children throughout their school lives — something beyond the curriculum and the school syllabus. Education is a total experience that goes beyond testable knowledge, important though that may be. It covers not only the classroom, but extends to so-called out-of-school activities.

5.15 pm

The hon. Member for Lewisham, West spoke about ethos in schools, the general sense of team work and the cohesiveness of the staff rooms, but all that was destroyed by the noble Lord Joseph. Of course everything is not right in education. I was a geography teacher and I wanted to teach night and day. I criticised my mathematics colleagues because they did not provide a mathematical breakdown and I wanted them to do certain calculations. I accept that I might be a little trad in that sense. If these matters are to be dealt with effectively in the classrooms between professional teachers, the Secretary of State must not introduce laws telling us what to do.

I do not claim for a moment that this is a matter only for the professionals, because they are accountable to other teachers, to parents and to governors. The sort of instances related by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West, should have been taken up by the parentzgovernors, discussed with teachers and a reasonable solution found. I do not come down in favour of either side of the argument about trendy teaching, and I understand why some people are uneasy. Yet the Secretary of State, in a way typical of this Government, has focused on a particular concern and said, quite illogically, "We must legislate" — and how. He is introducing into law the most authoritarian structure of education that this country has ever experienced — something that, 20 years ago, people would not have thought possible.

Perhaps our education system has gone too far in the other direction. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) referred to certain people who have passed into history, when the secret garden was the curriculum. The system opened out in the 1960s. The problem is that there was never a secondary rationale. GCSE is a hybrid born of 0-level and CSE, which in themselves were inadequate. Difficulties are inbred in the educational system. However, the Government's proposals will not do the trick. They will not provide a consensus; they will not provide the sort of curriculum that our young people need.

Clause 5 provides, in effect, that no school can teach courses other than those laid down by bodies that the Secretary of State approves under clause 7. I do not wish to trespass too far into a later debate, but the national curriculum may be put into the shade by the content of the syllabuses for the examinations arbitrarily laid down under clause 7 by order of the Secretary of State.

I do not necessarily say that the old 0-level examination, or any other examination, was the last word. I had grave arguments with London university about the 0-level geography syllabus. The nabobs of London university, with whom I claim equality as a professional geographer, believed it right that a pupil taking the 0-level geography examination should not have detailed original knowledge of those parts generally referred to as the Third world. The London university people believed that such a person could pass the course with knowledge of the regional geography of only north America and Europe. I said that that was educationally irresponsible. As a Member of Parliament, I thought that it was wrong. They took no notice and went blithely on their way, as they had a right to do.

If that attitude could be taken independently by a prestigious London university, in the light of all the debate that occurs in the educational world, what would happen if an equivalent decision arose, which was given the imprimatur of the Secretary of State? I should be in trouble with the law if my school were "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" by the syllabus, pressure of time and need to provide certain courses for the less bright pupils and I, as a professional, thought that students should follow a course which I thought was necessary for world citizenship.

It is not long since a headmaster of an elementary school, even in the London county council, could have been breaking the law if he taught his pupils French. Until 1944, elementary education was confined by statute to ideas similar to those of Robert Lowe, who said of his revised code, that if it would not be cheap, it would be efficient and if it was not efficient, it would be cheap. That was a narrow form of education for the hewers of wood and drawers of water. Thirty years ago I did as all students do and took up the current issues. We were all concerned with the Bantu education Act. The Eiselen report of the South African Government introduced Bantu education for the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.

The Minister of State smiles. She would say that any comparison between that wretched Act and this Bill is not on. It might not be on in terms of content, but it is in terms of authority. The Conservative party is dedicated to the destruction of the state and the reduction of state interference in personal lives where that is thought unnecessary. The Education Reform Bill, with all its clauses, provides for detailed administrative intervention in the process of education which has evolved, albeit in fits and starts, since 1944. This is massive interventionism.

I fear that the imposition of the national curriculum, which is inadequately described — I have tabled an amendment on this point, which will not be called because it is not regarded as relevant, although I claim that it is—will create administrative difficulty in schools. There will be difficulties in terms of the activity of the new National Curriculum Council and the new School Examinations and Assessment Council. How they will match up, heaven only knows. I am not talking from lack of experience. I gave evidence on these matters to the Newsom inquiry. The issue was dodged then, and it is still being dodged.

The difficulties which will ensue from the national curriculum will be in addition to the difficulties that exist now due to the too-hurried imposition of the GCSE. How will the GCSE, which will take another five years to settle down, mix with the Bill? The Bill is not only an ineffective and dangerous hybrid but creates a difficulty in that we must try and match up the GCSE flowering plant. There will be problems in all schools that are subject to the national curriculum.

The Secretary of State says that the problems will not be great. I suggest that they will arise irrespective of finance, although there will not be much of that from this Government. The problems will be in addition to the shortage of teachers and skills, which will create even greater difficulty in the so-called state schools. Some people will have no difficulty in persuading parents and those with proper aspirations for their pupils that if children go to state schools which have state teachers who operate a state curriculum, ordered by the Secretary of State, that will somehow be second-rate.

Certain independent schools may, rightly or wrongly —mostly wrongly—be given a boost. This may be an unintended effect of the Bill, but it is almost inevitable. The only proper way out is for the Secretary of State to accept the amendment or — this is the much more constructive approach — to tackle properly and professionally the problems that have been articulated by Conservative Members, rightly or wrongly, with or without exaggeration.

We cannot make people learn. We cannot fill them up like pots and expect them to disgorge knowledge. Important though that is, it is only part of education. The Government want us to do that, but there will be complications and difficulties for the professional teachers in front of classes. We cannot get people to learn just because we want them to do so. It is not like the Prime Minister getting Conservative Members to vote. There must be a sense of offering, motivation, great subtlety and care. The Bill will make all that much more difficult. That is why it fails and why the amendment should be passed.

Mr. Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest)

It is remarkable to hear the Opposition attack the concept of the national curriculum on the ground of pluralism and say how unpopular it was. I shall show of how popular it was. In reply to the Government, the Labour party in Birmingham —which, sadly, is in control there—said that it agreed that a national curriculum was necessary to lay down a framework within which children could learn.

Equally, the Opposition ignore the evidence from Her Majesty's inspectorate. HMI reports, especially those over the past 10 years, have referred to the low expectations of teachers for their pupils. The reports mention the 14 per cent. of children who leave school without any qualifications. They say that variations in standards in schools depend primarily not on socio-economic factors but on the fact that in many local education authorities there is no clearly laid down and defined curriculum for each subject.

The HMI has estimated that two thirds of LEAs do not have properly laid down curriculum guidelines for their schools. Therefore, there is a danger of teachers in certain schools reinventing the wheel. There is a lack of parental confidence in the schools' objectives. Difficulties are caused for the one quarter of schoolchildren who switch between schools during their school careers, and expectations are lowered.

One of the Sunday newspapers contained an update on an inquiry which has been going on for the past seven years into 50 schools within the Inner London education authority, taking into account 2,000 children. I understand that Professor Mortimore, who wrote the update, used to be an adviser in ILEA. [Interruption.] He was the head of statistics within ILEA. Professor Mortimore found that the quality of school was more significant than socioeconomic factors, age or other background as an effective determinant of school performance. For example, in reading, it was four times as significant as socio-economic factors and in mathematics 10 times as significant.

Professor Mortimore quoted, with some approval, the comments of David Hargreaves, who I understand is ILEA's chief adviser. Referring to pupils, Professor Mortimore said: Too many teachers excuse lack of achievement by focusing on their problems. He was referring to their home problems. The report said that what was needed was a sense of mission, laid down by the head teacher. It said that a clear and disciplined framework was needed within which children should be taught every subject in the schools. That may seem an old-fashioned teaching approach but, in practice, it was found in ILEA schools to be the most effective one. The national curriculum seeks to lay down such a framework on a national scale.

Secondly, the report of the task group on assessment and testing was cited approvingly by a number of hon. Members in Committee. That report says clearly that assessment is inevitably part of the national curriculum: When assessment and testing are carefully aligned to the curriculum, as in Graded Assessment Schemes, one of the outstanding benefits that teachers report is the enhanced motivation of pupils. The report went on to say that such arrangements also increased teachers' confidence in their professional development. We cannot have a graded and sensible system of assessment as laid down in the TGAT report unless we set it in the framework of the national curriculum provided by the Bill.

Thirdly, every European country of any size or significance has a national curriculum. Moreover, other countries lay down a detailed timetable for each subject in that curriculum. I recently attended an education conference in Vienna, at which we talked about the various curricula of schools. Questions were asked about how much of the school timetable was taken by the mother tongue, mathematics or science.

I was the only person at conference who, much to the mirth of my fellow participants, had to keep saying, "It varies; it depends on where you are; it depends on the school to which you are referring." The other participants did not believe that a responsible Government—

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

The hon. Gentleman gives an interesting account of the conference that he attended and argues the case for a national curriculum. Does he intend to develop that argument by voting for our amendment to extend the provision to independent schools?

Mr. Coombs

Opposition Members seem to be moving away from the idea of supporting a national curriculum on the ground that it creates a straitjacket that should not be countenanced in a pluralist system of education. I argue that other countries throughout Europe lay down clearly not only a national curriculum but a timetable allocating time to each subject. As a result, many countries — particularly Germany and Japan — are achieving standards in science and mathematics on average equivalent to those achieved by only a quarter of our best pupils.

Another recent report on international scientific standards shows that Britain, which ought to be leading the field, comes 11th or 12th out of 15 countries in the standards achieved by 14-year-olds in scientific subjects. That is not satisfactory. Appalling standards such as that are not good enough for a country of our stature.

The national curriculum will lay down a framework in which teachers will know what is expected of them -they will know the objectives to which they are expected to teach. That will provide the certainty necessary to the achievement of a good set of standards for education.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

I shall not follow the hon. Member for 'Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) in his plea for greater rigidity in the curriculum, and I suspect that it will arouse little sympathy among parents around the country.

I propose to spend two minutes asking the Minister of State whether she will address herself to the position of the arts in the national curriculum. The Bill represents a real danger to arts education. The foundation subjects are described as "music and art" rather than "the arts". I suspect that the Minister will define "art" as fine art. Therefore, the foundation subjects include only two art subjects. I fear that that will endanger other art forms in schools, such as dance, drama, film, video, photography and media studies. It will also endanger the small but growing number of very fine creative arts departments that are beginning to be established in some high schools.

I am sure that the Minister of State is only too well aware of the impact that dance education has had in the past 10 years. Fostered by the Arts Council and some very enlightened education authorities, it has been responsible for creating an entirely new audience for dance—a very young audience across the country. It has been fostered by experiments such as the Dance Umbrella and has created audiences for the work of the Janet Smith group and others. The process has been engendered by the work of dance animateurs such as Veronica Lewis of the Arts Council with her Gulbenkian fellowship.

5.30 pm

Dance has also done much for equality in education. Boys have been encouraged to dance with girls, and that has broken down some of the rigid gender patterns in education. I fear that such developments in dance—and indeed drama—will be put at risk by the Bill because the subjects are excluded from the national curriculum and will presumably have to take their chance in whatever percentage of the school week is not included in the national curriculum.

The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) mentioned the importance of experimentation in relation to primary schools. Nowhere is experimentation more important than in arts education. Because arts education is a new and young branch of education, it is growing and changing all the time. Many high schools hardly have any arts education at all; others have very developed creative arts departments. However, all of them are experimenting. New forms such as film, video and media studies often capture the imagination of young people and are extremely satisfying to teach. They allow a whole variety of skills, interests and relationships to be explored in a way that is often extremely difficult in the classroom. Such pluralism and variety in education, which is most important, will be put at risk by the rigid and limited definition of the arts in the national curriculum.

The Minister of State will recall the Gulbenkian report on the arts in schools. That report made a plea not only for a wide range of arts provision in schools but for interdisciplinary methods in arts education. The report recognised that arts education goes to the core of education as a whole because it encourages and stimulates young people to think for themselves, express themselves and find a voice for themselves. It helps them to have confidence in putting their point of view and in relating to others. Those are the things — difficult for teachers to achieve in the classroom—that arts education does so well. A rigid definition including music and fine art alone could mean that many of those things will be lost.

The tragedy is that arts education, which is developing so well, is not widespread. As I said, many high schools have very limited arts departments. The national curriculum, about which I have many reservations, could have given us a chance to ensure that arts education made its presence felt and could make its proper contribution. Sadly, the Government did not take that opportunity. Instead, I fear that they will actually limit arts education.

It is still not too late. In another place, the Government could substitute the words "the arts" for "music and art" and allow schools to find their own way of interpreting them. Indeed, I hope that the work of the inspector would encourage the growth of interdisciplinary creative arts departments, which are put at risk by the rigid definition in the Bill.

Alternatively, the Government could consider amendment No. 443 and establish an arts education council that could co-ordinate and set standards in arts education and disseminate the good practice already in evidence throughout the country. The Secretary of State has an interest in literature; indeed, he has published anthologies of poetry. It is sad to think that by this narrow and rigid view of the arts—ignoring so much of the work that is happening—he will be setting arts education back. That is a tragedy.

While the Secretary of State can list the subjects and establish a national curriculum, he cannot make that list of subjects into an education. An education is something more wide-ranging, more intangible, and more important than the list of subjects in the Bill. The Secretary of State knows that. He knows that the arts have an invaluable part to play in finding a wider range of education. By limiting the arts solely to fine arts and music, I am afraid he is missing a great opportunity and is setting back education, particularly arts education.

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

I reject the idea that the national curriculum is somehow an infliction or imposition on pupils in maintained schools. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss) that the word "imposition" is an amazing one coming from Opposition Members who claim, among other things, that they are in favour of some form of national curriculum.

Several people who belong to parties other than my own have said that the national curriculum was inevitable and that it was something that the country needed in order to bring a sense of rigour and purpose into our education system. Therefore, it is a positive and not a negative innovation that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is bringing forward in his Education Reform Bill. Its objective is to guarantee all pupils in maintained schools a broadly based and balanced curriculum that will prepare them for adult life.

I had a growing concern as I listened to the debate being developed by Opposition Members. I began to feel that they were almost complacent with the position as it is now. They seem to believe that schools are delivering the things that my right hon. Friend and I are seeking to do in the Bill. They said, "We do not need to introduce a national curriculum because it is already there. There is a broad consensus of subjects being taught in schools, so why come along with this Bill and put the national curriculum into legislation?" The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) got very excited about that and suggested that putting the provision for a national curriculum into legislation would somehow be deleterious to what happens within schools.

Mr. Spearing

I am not against a broadly based consensus for a national curriculum. I am concerned that the legislation might tie down the syllabuses of examinations and courses to be taken in schools, as laid down by the Secretary of State, so that they cannot be changed even by governors. It is the combination of the two that is so dangerous.

Mrs. Rumbold

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. I have to explain that the syllabuses will be determined through the National Curriculum Council and the Schools Examinations and Assessment Council and will be brought to Parliament for examination under the parliamentary processes. There could hardly be any more protection than that provided in the Bill.

Mr. Fisher

The Minister justifies her Bill by saying that the schools are not providing the curriculum that parents now want. Can she tell the House which of the core or foundation subjects are not being taught in our high schools now?

Mrs. Rumbold

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not hear the excellent contribution made by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples). He pointed out that an HMI inspection in his constituency showed that science teaching, which is one of the three core subjects for secondary schools, was appalling.

It is extremely important that one levers up the standard and that one sets a clear curriculum and clear syllabuses so that teachers are able to ensure that the students cover the scientific courses and that they are tested at regular ages so that their standards can be levered up. That is the way in which the national curriculum, the core and foundation subjects, will help the youngsters in our schools. I am sure that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central genuinely wants to see improvements in the standards in our schools.

5.45 pm
Mr. Fisher

The Minister of State answered the point by saying that clause 3(3) will address the quality of education which was referred to by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Maples). Clause 3 simply specifies number and type of subjects. Nothing in clause 3 will improve the quality of education and there is no way in which she has answered the point I put to her about which of the subjects is not being taught in our high schools now.

Mrs. Rumbold

I have to continue to say to the hon. Gentleman that this is the first time that we have ever put together in a reform Bill a clear set of subjects that we want all children to study. I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that not all children study all subjects that are set down in our Education Reform Bill. There is a raft of evidence to show that large numbers of children leave school without having studied many of the foundation or core subjects. [Interruption.]

I have to tell the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central, who is intervening from a sedentary position, that the school that he attended may have offered all children the sort of curriculum that we are offering now to children in the maintained sector. I know that the hon. Gentleman attended a school in the independent sector, because it is well recorded. It is extremely important that we lift the opportunity for 93 per cent. of our children to have the broad education that he experienced.

Mr. Fatchett

The Minister has tried to shift the ground of the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher). She talked about standards and appalling provision, and we are all concerned about that. My hon. Friend asked which local authorities and which secondary schools are not providing the subjects referred to in the Bill and in the national curriculum. If the Minister cannot answer that now, will she provide the list in a letter?

Mrs. Rumbold

No, I will certainly not provide any such list in a letter. The majority of local education authorities somewhere or other in the country will be providing some of those subjects. The point is that the children will not be studying them. That is one of the difficulties we have been experiencing within the curriculum. It is one of the reasons why, after a great deal of debate, we have come to the conclusion that it is important to set out some criteria and some curriculum, foundation and core subjects, that will offer all pupils the opportunity of raising their attainments and of performing to the best of their capability, thus levering up the standards in our maintained schools.

I believed, obviously wrongly, that Opposition Members shared those objectives with us. Therefore, I am surprised to hear them run the age-worn argument that we are inflicting something on maintained schools which their children attend but leaving alone the schools that some people—a small percentage—choose for their children in the independent sector.

Perhaps it is possible that Opposition Members do not want pupils in the schools to which they send their children to reach the highest attainments. I cannot believe that. I cannot believe that they do not want to improve standards across the whole spectrum in the maintained sector. I want to believe that they want all pupils in the maintained schools to be guaranteed a balanced and broadly based curriculum in order to equip them for the multiplicity of opportunities and challenges that they will face in adult life.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

The Minister knows very well from all the debates we have had that we entirely endorse those objectives. However, if it is a national curriculum and not a state curriculum, why should it apply to my children but not to Cabinet Ministers' children?

Mrs. Rumbold

I shall come to that in a moment. I want to answer the points raised by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central.

Mr. Fisher


Mrs. Rumbold

I shall answer the points raised and then return to the subject of independent schools, because I am happy to answer that.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central raised an important point about the teaching of arts. He was concerned that art and music were the two subjects mentioned in the Bill. He went on to explain how important it is that art and music and the arts concept should be broader.

In our national curriculum there will be ample room for all children to participate in the other arts that he described so well. The national curriculum is expected to take up to about 70 per cent. of a child's time, and the other 30 per cent. of time will enable children to pursue other things such as dance and drama. There is no intention of confining arts to the fine arts. That is because guidelines will be expected to cover the creative and the performing arts, including dance where that is appropriate. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, dance is an important part of physical education.

The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Scott) was rightly proud of what happens in the schools in his constituency. They have a fine record of arts bias. One of the great successes of our schools is the way in which art and music have been developed. The hon. Member for Wigan asked for a reassurance that they will be allowed to continue in that way. There is no reason why the schools that are successful in the arts should not be able to continue to pursue them.

Mr. Flannery

I should like to ask a question about special needs and the curriculum. The hon. Lady will tell us why the national curriculum will not extend to private education. In Committee we tabled amendment No. 66 to try to waive to some degree the national curriculum in relation to the 18 per cent. of children with special needs who were not statemented, but we made no headway with the amendment. We wanted it partially waived because, although it is totally waived for children in private schools, all head teachers would want to waive the curriculum in order to give some teaching in special subjects that are not in the curriculum.

Mrs. Rumbold

I am a little surprised at the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) raising this matter, because we spent some time yesterday discussing it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said quite clearly that there would be considerable flexibility in relation to children with special needs and special schools. We are offering benefits to pupils in maintained schools because by not imposing penalties we are guaranteeing them the freedom of a broadly based education. That will enable them to make the most of their abilities and they will have real choices about the pattern of their adult lives. We are offering parents the information they need about the performance of schools in their area so that when it comes to choosing a school they will know how each school is doing by its pupils.

The Opposition and, in particular, the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) were concerned about primary education. The hon. Member for Yeovil said he thought that the national curriculum would constrain primary education. I do not agree. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) spoke about small schools in rural areas. He said that there would be some concern about whether it would be possible to deliver the national curriculum in those schools. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), who said that some of the very small rural schools provide the best of education. Certainly they will be quite capable from day one of providing from the national curriculum the education that pupils will need.

The hon. Member for Yeovil quoted the case of Sir Robert Morant. He was the permanent secretary to the Board of Education and his views on teachers were leaked in a brown envelope. Sadly, that led to his enforced resignation in 1911. I am sure that the House is happy that the hon. Member for Yeovil asked about that.

The Opposition ask why we do not offer the pupils of independent schools and their parents all the benefits that we are offering children in maintained schools. I am glad to see that the Opposition are now so solicitous about the quality of the education that is provided by independent schools. Sadly, that was not the case in 1978, when they withdrew the system of recognition as efficient.

That was a pity, because one of the protections for the independent schools is that we send our inspectorate into them. The main feature about independent schools is that they are independent. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) was right when he said that the Government's responsibility is to ensure that the schools that are maintained by public money offer the education that pupils need.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

May I be encouraged by my hon. Friend's last words to expect recognition to be restored?

Mrs. Rumbold

I note my hon. Friend's intervention. The discipline on independent schools is largely that of market forces. Parents are free to send their children to them if they wish, and that is a fundamental freedom. They will do so only if the education offered by independent schools is what they want for their children. That is the discipline of market forces, and it is a real discipline.

Mr. Straw

We understand the Minister's argument, even if we do not altogether agree with it—that parents should be free to choose the type of education they want for their children. What happens if they cannot afford to buy their way into education?

Mrs. Rumbold

That is exactly what the Bill is about. It is about introducing opportunities for choice within the state sector and for state schools to compete with each other and to offer children and parents the highest standards. That is an extremely worthy ambition, but there may well be a need and a place for an independent sector that people may choose if that is what they want for their children.

The benefits of the national curriculum are increasingly being achieved in maintained schools. Moreover, representatives of the independent schools have been to see me to say that they are very interested in what is happening under the national curriculum. They recognise that we frequently have cross-traffic between the independent sector and the maintained sector. Therefore, it is important for the independent schools to take that on board and note what is happening in the maintained schools so that this cross-traffic may continue.

Mr. Ashdown


Mrs. Rumbold

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way, because I know that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central wishes to come in.

The less good independent schools will have to make changes if competition from the maintained schools is not to drive them out of business. That is the best guarantee that, when the Bill ultimately succeeds in making the maintained schools so good, the independent schools will be quick to spot it. They will then spur themselves to look not only at the content of the national curriculum, but also at the kind of competition that they will face because of improvements in the maintained sector.

That is not to say that any privately funded body should be compelled by my right hon. Friend to run its schools in a certain way. His only compulsion in that regard is where the education is deemed by his inspectorate not to be efficient and effective. I do not accept the amendment.

Mr. Fatchett

The reply by the Minister of State was confused, even by her normal standards. She tried to confuse and mislead the House by suggesting that the Labour party is against higher standards. Nothing could be further from the truth. She tried to suggest that the Labour party is not in favour of an agreed core curriculum, but it was Labour that put that proposal to the electorate last June. How can the Government say that, when during their period in office they have cut resources from central Government to education by 20 per cent. in real terms? If they believed in education, they would invest in it. The Minister's only response to the argument about the state curriculum is to incant the phrase that the schools "are independent." They are not independent, because section 71 of the Education Ac,t 1944 allows the Secretary of State to supervise and control them.

We believe in a national curriculum; the Government believe in a state curriculum. We believe that there is a need to extend and to improve standards for all; the Government believe in privilege. The Bill is about privilege, and the Government are about privilege. The Minister would have done better if she had had the courage to tell the House the truth and say that all she was doing was defending privilege and the status quo. That is what the Tory party and the Government are about, which is why we shall divide the House on the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 199, Noes 304.

Division No. 228] [6 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Duffy, A. E. P.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Allen, Graham Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Alton, David Eadie, Alexander
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Eastham, Ken
Armstrong, Hilary Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Ashdown, Paddy Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Fatchett, Derek
Ashton, Joe Faulds, Andrew
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Fisher, Mark
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Flannery, Martin
Barron, Kevin Flynn, Paul
Battle, John Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Beckett, Margaret Foster, Derek
Beith, A. J. Fraser, John
Bell, Stuart Fyfe, Maria
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Galloway, George
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bermingham, Gerald Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bidwell, Sydney Godman, Dr Norman A.
Blair, Tony Gordon, Mildred
Boyes, Roland Gould, Bryan
Bray, Dr Jeremy Graham, Thomas
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Grocott, Bruce
Buchan, Norman Harman, Ms Harriet
Caborn, Richard Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Callaghan, Jim Haynes, Frank
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Heffer, Eric S.
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Henderson, Doug
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hinchliffe, David
Canavan, Dennis Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Home Robertson, John
Cartwright, John Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Howells, Geraint
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clay, Bob Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clelland, David Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cohen, Harry Illsley, Eric
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Ingram, Adam
Corbett, Robin Janner, Greville
Corbyn, Jeremy John, Brynmor
Cousins, Jim Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Crowther, Stan Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)
Cryer, Bob Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cummings, John Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kirkwood, Archy
Cunningham, Dr John Lamond, James
Dalyell, Tarn Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Darling, Alistair Lewis, Terry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Livingstone, Ken
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Livsey, Richard
Dewar, Donald Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dixon, Don McAllion, John
Dobson, Frank McAvoy, Thomas
Douglas, Dick Macdonald, Calum A.
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Rowlands, Ted
McKelvey, William Ruddock, Joan
McLeish, Henry Salmond, Alex
McTaggart, Bob Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McWilliam, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Madden, Max Short, Clare
Mahon, Mrs Alice Skinner, Dennis
Marek, Dr John Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Maxton, John Snape, Peter
Meacher, Michael Soley, Clive
Michael, Alun Spearing, Nigel
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Steel, Rt Hon David
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Steinberg, Gerry
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Stott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Strang, Gavin
Morgan, Rhodri Straw, Jack
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Mowlam, Marjorie Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Mullin, Chris Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Murphy, Paul Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Nellist, Dave Turner, Dennis
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Vaz, Keith
O'Brien, William Wall, Pat
O'Neill, Martin Wallace, James
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Walley, Joan
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Patchett, Terry Wareing, Robert N.
Pendry, Tom Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Pike, Peter L. Wigley, Dafydd
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Prescott, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Primarolo, Dawn Wilson, Brian
Quin, Ms Joyce Winnick, David
Radice, Giles Wise, Mrs Audrey
Randall, Stuart Worthington, Tony
Redmond, Martin Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Reid, Dr John Tellers for the Ayes:
Richardson, Jo Mrs. Llin Golding and
Rogers, Allan Mr. Frank Cook.
Rooker, Jeff
Adley, Robert Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Alexander, Richard Buck, Sir Antony
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Budgen, Nicholas
Allason, Rupert Burns, Simon
Amess, David Burt, Alistair
Amos, Alan Butcher, John
Arbuthnot, James Butler, Chris
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butterfill, John
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Ashby, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkins, Robert Carrington, Matthew
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baldry, Tony Chapman, Sydney
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Chope, Christopher
Batiste, Spencer Churchill, Mr
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Bellingham, Henry Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bendall, Vivian Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Benyon, W. Colvin, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Conway, Derek
Blackburn, Dr John G. Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cope, John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Cormack, Patrick
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Couchman, James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cran, James
Bowis, John Critchley, Julian
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Currie, Mrs Edwina
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Brazier, Julian Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bright, Graham Day, Stephen
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Devlin, Tim
Browne, John (Winchester) Dickens, Geoffrey
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Dicks, Terry
Dorrell, Stephen Knapman, Roger
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Dover, Den Knowles, Michael
Dunn, Bob Knox, David
Durant, Tony Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Eggar, Tim Lang, Ian
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Latham, Michael
Evennett, David Lawrence, Ivan
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Farr, Sir John Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Favell, Tony Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lightbown, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lilley, Peter
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forth, Eric Lord, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Fox, Sir Marcus Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Franks, Cecil McCrindle, Robert
Freeman, Roger Macfarlane, Sir Neil
French, Douglas MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fry, Peter MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gale, Roger Maclean, David
Gardiner, George McLoughlin, Patrick
Gill, Christopher McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Glyn, Dr Alan Madel, David
Goodlad, Alastair Major, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Malins, Humfrey
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mans, Keith
Gorst, John Maples, John
Gow, Ian Marland, Paul
Gower, Sir Raymond Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, Harry (Eating N) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mates, Michael
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Maude, Hon Francis
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grist, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Grylls, Michael Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miller, Hal
Hampson, Dr Keith Mills, lain
Hanley, Jeremy Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hannam,John Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Moate, Roger
Harris, David Monro, Sir Hector
Hawkins, Christopher Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hayes, Jerry Moore, Rt Hon John
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hayward, Robert Morrison, Hon Sir Charles
Heathcoat-Amory, David Moss, Malcolm
Heddle, John Neale, Gerrard
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Nelson, Anthony
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Neubert, Michael
Hind, Kenneth Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nicholls, Patrick
Holt, Richard Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hordern, Sir Peter Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Howard, Michael Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Oppenheim, Phillip
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Page, Richard
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Patnick, Irvine
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hunt, John (Ravensboume) Pawsey, James
Hunter, Andrew Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Irvine, Michael Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Irving, Charles Porter, David (Waveney)
Jack, Michael Portillo, Michael
Jackson, Robert Powell, William (Corby)
Janman, Tim Price, Sir David
Jessel, Toby Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rathbone, Tim
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Redwood, John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Riddick, Graham
Kilfedder, James Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Kirkhope, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Rossi, Sir Hugh Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Rost, Peter Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Rowe, Andrew Temple-Morris, Peter
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Ryder, Richard Thompson, Patrick (Norwioh N)
Sackville, Hon Tom Thorne, Neil
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan Thurnham, Peter
Scott, Nicholas Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, David (Dover) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Tracey, Richard
Shelton, William (Streatham) Tredinnick, David
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Trotter, Neville
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shersby, Michael Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Sims, Roger Walden, George
Skeet, Sir Trevor Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waller, Gary
Soames, Hon Nicholas Walters, Dennis
Speed, Keith Ward, John
Speller, Tony Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W) Warren, Kenneth
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Watts, John
Squire, Robin Wells, Bowen
Stanbrook, Ivor Wheeler, John
Stanley, Rt Hon John Whitney, Ray
Steen, Anthony Widdecombe, Ann
Stern, Michael Wilkinson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wilshire, David
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N) Wood, Timothy
Stokes, John Woodcock, Mike
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Yeo, Tim
Sumberg, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford) Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

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