HC Deb 11 February 1992 vol 203 cc900-45

14.—(1) In this Order— allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the day, provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day, or is set down for consideration on that day; the Bill" means the Further and Higher Education Bill [Lords].

(2) Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) and Standing Order No. 103 (Business sub-committees) shall not apply to this Order.

The House knows that we have a full programme involving both Houses in a great deal of work this Session, so it is essential to manage the programme in such a way as to ensure the orderly progression of Bills through their various stages. This timetable motion is part of that process.

I made it clear in my evidence to the Select Committee on Sittings of the House, chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling), that I support—I am speaking personally—the much wider use of timetable motions for Government Bills, particularly in their Committee stages. I am much encouraged to see that the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) agreed with that. I understand that most of the evidence to my right hon. Friend's Committee on that point favours the timetabling of Bills.

The purpose of the timetable motion is to structure the debate in Committee—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Would hon. Members who are below the Gangway come into the Chamber or leave, please?

Mr. MacGregor

The purpose of the timetable motion—

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

Will the Lord President confirm that my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) has never supported the introduction of a guillotine on the proceedings of a Bill without any agreement with the Opposition? He has not done so either in his evidence to the Committee or on the Floor of the House.

Mr. MacGregor

What I have said before in the House is that the hon. Member for Copeland supports the principle of the timetabling of Bills. I spoke about the much wider use of timetable motions. I referred not to this one but to the principle. I hope that the Committee chaired by my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale will put proposals to the House that we can then debate.

The purpose of the timetable motion is to structure the debate during the Committee stage to ensure that sufficient time is devoted to all the elements requiring detailed consideration. It is in line with the precedent of the timetable motion on the Local Government Finance Bill, which is generally held to have worked well and provided for effective consideration of the Bill.

I am very pleased that, in so far as it is possible, we have been able, through the usual channels, to accommodate the wishes of the Opposition on the allocation of time to different parts of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science, acceded to Opposition requests that 80 per cent. of the time available in Committee should be spent on clauses 1 to 14, which deal with further education funding councils. I understand perfectly well why that should be so, as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) made clear in the Second Reading debate his support for the higher education reforms, which account for quite a large part of the bulk of the latter part of the Bill. I hope that this allocation reflects the wishes of the House as a whole. As was made clear in the debate today, there is agreement—on both sides, I think—on the latter parts of the Bill dealing with higher education, although here, too, we are providing reasonable time for consideration in Committee.

The Bill has been given extensive consideration in another place—a total of about 65 hours, including four days in Committee and three days on Report. The time that this timetable motion provides for the Committee stage will be ample for consideration of the issues that the House as a whole has shown it wishes to raise. The timetable provides for a minimum—I stress that it is a minimum—of 50 hours in Committee, and the Committee may go beyond that if it wishes to do so.

Another issue is the need for speedy processing of the Bill. That reflects two things—first, the shortened nature of this parliamentary Session, giving rise to the need to proceed with our Bills in an orderly way through Committee if we are to dispose of as many of them as possible; and, secondly, the importance that we attach to this Bill, which is symbolic of the high priority that we give to the reform of further education, as well as higher education.

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

As the passing of the Bill is being given such high priority, will the Leader of the House guarantee that all the evidence will be put before the Committee—that some of it will not be suppressed, as the Secretary of State suppressed evidence put forward by colleges of further education?

Mr. MacGregor

Having heard the exchanges earlier today, I do not think that there has been any suppression. Certainly, I know that in very many colleges of further education there is substantial support for what the Bill seeks to do.

Mr. Dennis Turner (Wolverhampton, South-East)

I appeal to the Leader of the House to ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science to do what he has been asked repeatedly, during and before the debate, to do—publish the survey information that has been sent to him by colleges of further education. It is as simple as that. If the Secretary of State for Education and Science does not want to be charged with the suppression of evidence, the Leader of the House should appeal to him to come clean, go public and reveal the evidence.

Mr. MacGregor

I certainly know of further education colleges that are very enthusiastic about the Bill and whose one concern is that it may not complete its passage during the current Session. That is why we are discussing the motion. We are providing ample Committee time for consideration of evidence of the type about which the hon. Gentleman is talking.

It is vital that we should not lose the momentum on these important reforms. There is a great demand from universities, polytechnics, further education colleges and sixth form colleges to implement the reforms as quickly as possible so that we may avoid the damaging effect on morale that delays and uncertainties could cause. The sooner the funding councils are started up and are able to discuss detailed formulae and arrangements for the distribution of funds to institutions of higher education and institutions of further education, the better.

The Bill also means big changes for further education and sixth form colleges. They, too, need to know without delay where they stand so that they can prepare to work in and with the new structures and make their own bids for funds. It is essential that these councils are set up as soon as possible so that they may start work on all the detailed arrangements and consultations that will be necessary if a smooth transition to the new funding system is to be ensured. As I am constantly told by many who get in touch with me, uncertainty and delay would be damaging to the whole of the further and higher education sector. That is why it is essential that we make progress with the Bill as quickly as possible, consistent with proper discussion and consultation—not so much consultation as consideration—in the House. [Interruption.] At this point it is consideration in the House. I readily acknowledge the need for time to debate the Bill in Committee. I believe that the timetable that we are proposing offers a sensible and balanced way of achieving all the different objectives, including the legitimate desire of the House to consider the Bill fully, and I commend it to the House.

10.24 pm
Mr. Bruce Grocott (The Wrekin)

There is a small part of me that feels that, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I should welcome what the Leader of the House has said. As we all know, it is a matter of only a few weeks before the joyous day when the boot will be on the other foot and the right hon. Gentleman will be sitting on the Opposition Front Bench making speeches on timetable motions. Part of me thinks that he is setting a useful precedent.

The right hon. Gentleman has explained how important it is that the rights of the Opposition should be restricted. Apparently, it is a mistake to spend too many hours discussing a Bill. When the time comes, as it certainly will, for a Labour Government to introduce quite a lot of progressive legislation that the country desperately needs, I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and hon. Friends will wish to oppose it. He will not really be able to do that, however, because he will be obliged to stand at the Opposition Dispatch Box and commend any guillotine motion that we bring before the House on the basis that the Labour Government are faithfully following the precedent of 13 years of Tory government.

The Leader of the House may not operate in quite that way. I think that he will learn the tactics of Opposition rapidly. I hope that he learns them well, because he will need to deploy them for a long time.

Let me make it crystal clear—I have done it before and I do not mind doing it again—that I do not have any fundamental or irrevocable objections to timetable motions. I do not know whether I speak for all my right hon. and hon. Friends. The Leader of the House was right to say that there were many who said, in giving evidence to the Committee which he set up, that they think it right that Bills should be the subject of timetables.

However, the right hon. Gentleman completely misrepresented the position of my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), who has been quoted, by implying that we, the Opposition, would be happy if timetable motions were introduced without any attempt to secure an agreement on what the timetable should be, and without any reciprocal arrangement that improved the rights of the Opposition. There are many ways in which that could be done. When there is a Labour Government and the Leader of the House finds himself sitting on the Opposition Benches, that Administration will be gracious to the then Opposition. We shall discuss ways in which the rights of the Opposition can be observed. It is—[Interruption.] Some of my hon. Friends are not as generous as I would be prepared to be.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

My hon. Friend talks about rights. I ask him to remember that there are the rights of the Opposition and the rights of those outside the House, who ought to have the opportunity to influence our decisions. This guillotine motion will make it extremely difficult for those outside to make representations to those who consider the Bill in Committee following its Second Reading. When my hon. Friend is discussing rights, I ask him to accept that it should be emphasised that a guillotine gags Parliament and many others outside.

Mr. Grocott

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. He and I think that consideration should be given to allowing Committees to bring people before them to give evidence on a Bill during its passage through Parliament. Many reforms are possible, and a new and reforming Government will consider them all.

Whatever our views on guillotine motions, one or two matters must be put on the record. All Governments use guillotines, but no Government have used them with the frequency of this Administration. No Government have used similar means. The figures that I am about to present to the House will embarrass the Leader of the House, but I shall get them on the record none the less.

The right hon. Gentleman has answered one or two questions on the frequency of the Government's use of the guillotine procedure. Indeed, he answered such a question on 8 November 1991. I am sure that this was inadvertent—perhaps the wording of the question was not as precise as it should have been—but the answer did not begin to present an accurate picture of the number of times that guillotine motions have been brought before the House by the Government. I am sure that hon. Members will not mind if I put one or two statistics on the record. To be fair—after all, if I do not do it, I am sure that someone else will —I shall go back to the time of the last Labour Government.

In the period of five years and two months between February 1974 and May 1979, a Labour Government introduced 20 guillotine motions. In a four-year Parliament, the 1979–83 Tory Government introduced 19. In another four-year Parliament, the 1983–87 Tory Government introduced 17. In four years and eight months, the current Government have introduced 35. The Leader of the House may want to check that, and put his own figures right to make sure that the record is straight. Let me give the details: it will take about 30 seconds.

Let us start with 1987. Three guillotine motions were tabled for discussion of the Bill that became the Education Reform Act 1988.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Should we not remind the House that that legislation was supposed to stand the test of time? Because it was rushed through, another piece of legislation is now needed to put matters right. Is that not a very good illustration of the problems to which misuse of the guillotine to ram legislation through the House and the country can lead? In this instance, a second Bill has had to be presented, and most people in the education system have found themselves in a mess in the intervening three years.

Mr. Grocott

My hon. Friend has made a powerful point. Exactly the same is true of the Government's shambolic efforts in regard to local government finance.

Between 1987 and now, there were guillotine motions on the following: the Local Government Finance Bill two; the Social Security Bill one; the Firearms (Amendment) Bill two; the School Boards (Scotland) Bill; the Housing Bill; the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill; the Water Bill two; the Official Secrets Bill two; the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill two; the Dock Work Bill; the Football Spectators Bill; the Children Bill; the Companies Bill; the Local Government and Housing Bill; the Employment Bill; the National Health Service and Community Care Bill two; the Social Security Bill two; the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill one; the Education (Student Loans) Bill; the Community Charges (General Reduction) Bill; the Dangerous Dogs Bill two; the Local Government Finance Bill; the Education (Schools) Bill; the Further and Higher Education Bill—which we are now discussing—one. According to my arithmetic that adds up to 35 guillotine motions, which is unprecedented in modern times—indeed, ever, so far as I can judge.

I do not know why the Leader of the House bothers with his Committees, given that he has apparently introduced a major constitutional innovation without any agreement from them. Not only are guillotine motions being introduced with phenomenal frequency; they are being introduced at a very early stage. Let us take the last five for which the right hon. Gentleman has been responsible. The guillotine motion on the Community Charges (General Reduction) Bill was introduced on 26 March last year, before any Commitee debate had taken place. The motion on the Dangerous Dogs Bill was introduced on 10 June last year—again, before any such debate had taken place. The motion on the Local Government Finance Bill—which set a record—was also introduced before debate had begun. The Education (Schools) Bill motion was a minor improvement on the Government's previous record; it was introduced on Report and Third Reading. The current guillotine motion, however, has been introduced without any attempt to decide whether it was necessary.

The Government have used the guillotine in a way that no other Government have—with alarming frequency and absolute severity. They have imposed their will on the House. Despite having a huge majority in the past five years of over 100 Members, they have still felt the need to do what, until he became a member of one, Lord Hailsham used to describe as playing the game of being an "elective dictatorship". That is the way in which the Government have operated.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

It happens to be worse than that—[Interruption.] Oh, it is. I smell a rat here—I really do. The Secretary of State for Education and Science sits on the Treasury Bench, treating us over this Bill just as he did when he was Secretary of State for Health. I remember the time when you and I, Mr. Speaker, had a few words because of what was happening because of the Secretary of State for Health—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh yes, I remember it well and I am sure that you do, Mr. Speaker. I apologised to you anyway—[Interruption.] Sherwood can shut up. The important thing is the rat, which is the question of the report on the survey—

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

indicated dissent.

Mr. Haynes

The Secretary of State need not shake his head. He is ducking out of his responsibilities as Secretary of State for Education and Science, just as he did on health. On top of all that, he is rushing everything through to deny us the report on that survey. It is a shocking state of affairs, and the Secretary of State should be ashamed of himself.

Mr. Grocott

My hon. Friend raises a point that has been raised many times before. Perhaps he should have directed his appeal directly to honest John sitting opposite me on the Treasury Bench, who may well be able to persuade his fellow member of Cabinet that he should—

Mr. Haynes

I am glad that my hon. Friend has given way again, because it is some time since I smelt a rat in the Chamber, but there is one knocking about tonight. The Secretary of State should come clean. I do not know what the people back in Rushcliffe think about him when he messes about in this way. He messed around with health, and look at the mess we are in. Now he is messing around with education, and look at the mess that that will be in. It has got to stop. The people will decide in not many weeks' time. I know that I will not be here, Mr. Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] The right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Leader of the House and all those on the Treasury Bench know that the people outside will not stand for this kind of activity—[Interruption.] The Secretary of State is supposed to be listening. That is how he ducks out of his responsibilities and will not come clean——[Interruption.] Now I shall sit down.

Mr. Speaker

Is this an intervention or a speech? [Laughter.]

Mr. Grocott

Sadly, my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) will not be with us after the election, but my experience of him suggests that if he opens his mouth in Ashfield, we shall hear him down here—

Mr. Haynes

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I shall hear it.

Mr. Grocott

The details of the timetable motion allow for just five days' debate on a Bill which is 103 pages long, contains 94 clauses and nine schedules and which must report back to the House by 26 February. I have listened to fair chunks of the debate tonight, and there can be no doubt whatsoever that considerable complexities need sorting out, many of which have been raised by Conservative Members. I am sure that they need the time to debate the Bill just as much as anyone else.

I ask a simple question to which I know that there is a simple answer, but I still think that it is worth a little time to discover it: why are the Government in such a desperate hurry to get the Bill back to the House on 26 February? I offer one or two possible explanations in an attempt to be generous to the Government. Is it, for example—this could be one reason—because a clear manifesto commitment must be fulfilled, so Conservative Members feel obliged to rush the Bill through at the end of the Parliament?

I have searched through the last Conservative party manifesto. There are many references in it. There is a copy here if Members want to browse through it in the small hours of morning. Perhaps they will find a section that I have missed. There are lots of references to bringing the crime rate down, economic miracles and all sorts of things like that. But I can see no reference whatever to the Further and Higher Education Bill [Lords]. So there is no possible justification for introducing the guillotine motion on the ground of an election commitment.

The second possibility is that the Government have moved the guillotine motion on the ground that an inordinate amount of time has already been spent debating the Bill. We have already answered that point. Of course that is not the case: we have not even reached the Committee stage, so the guillotine motion cannot have been introduced on those grounds.

A further possibility is that the guillotine motion has been tabled because massive opposition to the Bill is anticipated. This is a more difficult one to answer. Of course there is strong opposition to some parts of the Bill, to which many of my hon. Friends have drawn the attention of the Minister, but it also has to be said that, perhaps unusually for Government legislation, there is a large part of the Bill on which there is a wide measure of agreement. That is the part which deals with the ending of the binary system in higher education.

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

That is Labour party policy.

Mr. Grocott

As my hon. Friend says, that is Labour party policy. But better than that, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I am sure that you will allow 30 seconds indulgence here—I remind Conservative Members, although they were not all present at the time, of a Bill introduced way back in 1976, if we can have a trip down memory lane. I have not checked the Division list closely but some Conservative Members present tonight were here then. I know that the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart) was not here at the time, and he will not be with us much longer, but many Members who are present tonight were here then.

I draw the attention of the House to 18 May 1976, when the Comprehensive Higher Education Bill was introduced under the ten-minute Bill procedure. Modesty prevents me from spelling out which Member introduced it. The motion was: That leave be given to bring in a Bill to end distinctions between the various types of educational institutions that cater for people over 18 years of age, and to provide for a genuinely comprehensive system of higher education under democratic control."—[Official Report, 18 May 1976; Vol. 911, c. 1227.] That was not too bad but, like most ideas ahead of their time, I am afraid that it was voted down by 182 votes to 170. On checking through the Division list, I found that among the Members who sadly threw out that advanced piece of legislation were the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) and other interesting names. I do not have time to check them all.

If the Leader of the House had had the foresight in those early days to see the merit in that legislation, he would not have felt it necessary tonight to move a savage guillotine motion to curtail debate on the measure. That fine piece of legislation would have long since passed into law and we would have had lots of time to spend on Opposition days, motions of censure and other matters on which we could spend our time much more effectively.

So it will not do to say that the reason why the Government found it necessary to curtail debate on the Bill was that they felt that there would be massive opposition to it. There is a whole section of the Bill on which there is a great deal of agreement. We all know why the Government want the Bill back by 26 February. They want it back by then because, on 10 March, they will have a quick fix Budget and then, some time after, if all goes according to plan from their view, they will fix a quick-fix election on 9 April. That is what it is all about.

I would not have minded the motion tonight quite so much if it had been given an honest title, such as the General Election (Clearing the Decks) Motion, or whatever title the Leader of the House wanted to give it. He has this "honest John" face but sometimes he betrays what he is thinking. I thought he looked weary as he presented the timetable motion. It is so similar to the language that he used on previous timetable motions that I do not know why he does not take a tape and mime to it. There is no doubt about it—he knows perfectly well the reason why he is introducing this guillotine motion.

However, the Government are still feeling some degree of nervousness. The timetable might not operate this time. After all, the Prime Minister has run away from three election dates. He was all set to go last spring, and he ran away. He was all set to go in the summer, and he ran away. He was set to go in the autumn, but he did not run away from that one—he got the editors of five friendly newspapers to run away for him. Opposition Members desperately hope that he will not run away this time. Let us hope that for once he will stand up and be counted and go down fighting—as go down he assuredly will. Let us have no more of these silly guillotine motions. Let us have a general election.

10.45 pm
Mr. Humfrey Malins (Croydon, North-West)

I feel uneasy about this guillotine motion. I have felt increasingly uneasy about such motions in recent months. It seems that we all spend far too little time examining legislation closely. We all know the problem: we legislate too much, and that must apply to all of us.

I became a Member of the House in 1983 on a promise from various people that we would legislate less, that we did not want to legislate all the time, and that we would examine matters more carefully. However, as soon as I got here I realised that we were on a treadmill of legislation. Legislation from the various great Departments of State was pushed upon the House. I think that I am not alone in saying that I have not properly done my job of examining in detail some of the legislation which has come before us.

I wish that we would legislate less and would spend more time considering what we do. This may be my last utterance in the House before the next general election, but I hope to be back—although that is not a matter for me. I would tell any future House of Commons to study legislation more carefully and to legislate less.

This is an important Bill, relating to adult education. How many thousands of millions of people in our constituencies are concerned about this issue? In November last I raised, in an Adjournment debate, the question of adult education in Croydon and Mr. Speaker was in the Chair because of his great interest in the subject. My right hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Sir W. Clark) was also here. In that debate I was able to say that in Croydon in 1991 there were more than 40,000 enrolments for higher education, representing 20,000 to 30,000 students. So many people have an interest in this topic and would therefore expect us to spend a good amount of time on it.

Unless I have read the guillotine motion incorrectly, it seems that the time available to discuss clause 15 through to the end of the Bill amounts to about a day. Yet the Bill contains about 90 clauses, some of which are very important. It is not for me to suggest ways in which the Bill should be improved now; that is a matter for another day. However, clause 28 is important. It relates to the crucial argument about whether continuing education and training services—such as the one in Croydon, which does such a lot of good locally—will be able to bid direct to the funding councils rather than through the new sector colleges.

I raised that matter on the Adjournment of the House. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State understood my concern, but thought that institutions such as those in Croydon should be interested in exploring the possibility of incorporation within the new further education sector by reason of the balance of provisions that they make. That has been mentioned again today. Many of those institutions would not seek incorporation for the obvious reasons. It is important that the close link with the local authority remains.

The adult education service in Croydon is well supported by the local authority. It is important that that service is not barred from applying direct to the further education funding council. The possibility of incorporation represents a difficult route because of the close involvement and commitment of the local authority to that service, which is beneficial to it. That service has associations with many local agencies and voluntary organisations. It has its roots in the communities of Croydon. There is a good argument for amending clause 28 on Report to enable institutions such as those in Croydon to bid direct.

The Bill relates to issues which are crucial to many people—perhaps as many as 60,000 adults in Croydon. There is a great need for the type of adult education which is provided in Croydon, which has a multi-racial society. Many need extra help in English and other types of subject. The adult education service does a lot of good in such circumstances. It is a pity that we cannot spend more time just looking at some of the issues—for example, clause 28, which is quite important—which affect adult education.

I hope that, in future, this House of Commons, of which we are proud to be Members, will spend just a bit more time looking at what hon. Members do day after day. We should not just go through the Lobbies—half the time I do so without knowing for what I am voting. We should look more carefully at what we are doing and we should legislate less. We should spend more time trying to bring whatever expertise we may have to bear on the subject in question.

10.51 pm
Mr. Michael Carr (Ribble Valley)

It was interesting to hear what the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Malins) said about the need for deliberation and careful consideration of the issues which come before us. I agree wholeheartedly with him.

I accept that there may be a case for the use of the guillotine, but surely only after consultation with the official Opposition and the other parties. There was no attempt to consult with us prior to tonight about whether this guillotine should be introduced. We deplore that.

The Bill concerns major issues because it will determine the future of further, higher and adult education for many years. However, the debate on these issues will be held in the run-up to the general election at the fag-end of the Parliament. We are already aware that, more often than not, many hon. Members now use debates in the Chamber as an opportunity to score party political points. Why, oh why, could not the debate on the Bill be held after the general election?

The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West mentioned the number of students who attend adult education classes in Croydon. Throughout the country more than 3 million people attend adult education classes. They will study the motion and the Bill closely. They will want to know why the Government have decided to shove the Bill through in the final weeks of this Parliament. Surely some Conservative Members will concede that it would be far better for the debate on the Bill to take place in an atmosphere free from the heat of an imminent election.

I have no doubt that the Government's huge majority, caused by a distortion of the electoral system, will result in the guillotine motion being approved. I regret that, and we on this Bench will vote against it.


Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

I had not intended to speak on the motion, but I feel that I must bring to the attention of the House certain points made by the Select Committee on Procedure in two reports to the House on the passage of legislation.

One is that we should try to ensure that all parts of a measure are debated. The Committee has pointed out that nothing is more foolish than to have timetable motions introduced after a Committee has sat for some sessions, perhaps debating the first two or three clauses of a Bill, and then, the guilloting having been introduced, the rest of the Bill—perhaps 60, 70 or 80 clauses—is rushed through with hardly any debate. That must be the worst way of dealing with legislation.

I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Malins) that an examination of other elected assemblies which can be paralleled to ours in Europe, America or elsewhere shows that we in the British House of Commons spend three, four or even five times longer debating legislation.

Opinions about timetabling motions have altered massively since I took over the chairmanship of the Select Committee on Procedure nearly nine years ago. In those days, nearly everybody was against the concept of timetabling. Now, Members in all parts of the House who have served on the Select Committee on Sittings of the House agree that it is essential to find a proper, reasonable and practical way to deal with legislation in Committee and on Report. Many take the view that there should be timetabling at the start of legislation to enable it to be seen that Members are dealing with all parts of legislation from the word go.

The knockabout, nice party debate that we are having, allowing the Opposition—whichever party is in power—to have a field day attacking the Government, does not achieve much. It happens with only a handful of Members in their places and achieves little, if any, coverage by the media. It could be considered a waste of prime parliamentary time. It would be better to have the whole thing established as part of our Standing Orders, adopting one of the suggestions of the Select Committee on Procedure.

As a member of the Select Committee on Sittings of the House, I give nothing away—because it has been said in public session—when I say that consideration must be given to the views of the Lord President and the shadow Leader of the House about the timetabling of legislation, following some of the thinking on the subject of the Select Committee on Procedure.

The hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) suggested that we need to ensure a proper amount of time for outside organisations to lobby the House. Everybody wants that, but outside organisations have been lobbying the House—they have certainly been lobbying me, and I am not in a special position—ever since the matter was being debated in the House of Lords. So although it is an important issue, it falls in this case.

If those on the Opposition Front Bench are right and there is an election on a certain day in April, the Government are right not to allow many hours of debate on the first few clauses so that subsequent clauses are rushed through without sufficient consideration. They are right to impose a timetable at the start of the Committee stage to ensure that all parts of the Bill are properly dealt with.

I was trying to calculate the exact number of hours which the motion allows the Committee to spend debating the Bill. The time set for one of the days is midnight, but it is not clear how long the Committee might sit for the first six days. It will sit at 10.30 am and then again at 4.30 pm, but it is not clear at what time it rises. It appears that it could rise after midnight. So hon. Members need not worry about keeping the debate going, because no rising time has been set; therefore, if the Opposition so wish, they have all the time in the world to debate the Bill.

Mr. MacGregor

I agree with many of my hon. Friend's comments. We are endeavouring to give maximum flexibility to how clauses 1 to 14 are considered. Therefore, there will be plenty of time, with no fixed limit in the early sittings.

Sir Peter Emery

I am delighted that I have been able to hit on that point, because the flexibility means that the Opposition cannot claim that they will not have enough time to debate those clauses. They can continue to debate them all night, and even until the following morning, if they so desire.

However, my Committee does not believe that that is the best way to deal with legislation. We have always suggested that the proper time to rise is after 10 o'clock.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman is so distinguished that it may be some time since he has sat on a Standing Committee. He omits a small detail in the form of the Government Whip. My hon. Friends who will sit on the Committee will be entertained to hear that they can debate the Bill for as long as they wish, but sadly it will be open to the Government Whip to stand up whenever he wishes and move the adjournment. As he knows that the Government will get the Bill in any event, nothing stops him doing that.

Sir Peter Emery

That is absolutely true. Moreover, nothing about time or my distinction would stop that happening. However, once Governments of either party know that they will complete a Bill on a certain day, they hand much of the power over to the Opposition to decide how they want to use that time to debate the proper timing and clauses. It is an integral point, but one that we well understand.

I am delighted to see that the Government are willing to introduce a timetable motion at the start of Second Reading. Years ago, they would never have done so. It will ensure that we do not waste time purely trying to show the Opposition's strength in delaying tactics, which gets nobody anywhere. Such parliamentary procedure in Committee is coming to an end, as it is being seen as a useless use of time. I congratulate the Government on introducing a timetable motion at the very start of the Committee stage.

11.4 pm

Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

I am glad to have the chance of following the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), the Chairman of the Procedure Select Committee, although I strongly disagree with his suggestions, for reasons that I have given before and hope to repeat this evening.

The House of Commons would make a great mistake if it accepted the proposition that this is the right way for it to operate. I understood the eagerness of my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) in anticipating the events of the rest of the year. I shall rejoice greatly when they occur. I advise him and others to be extremely reticent in proceeding to the supposedly automatic system of introducing guillotine motions, especially after our experience of the past few years under the Government. My hon. Friend gave the details and I shall return to them in a moment.

Sir Peter Emery

I omitted one fact: there will be sadness on both sides of the House when the right hon. Gentleman no longer is a Member of the House, following his distinguished service.

Mr. Foot

Hon. Members will not be able to have a proper debate on a guillotine motion without me. I hand on some of my experience of these matters to both sides of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin talked of the boot being on the other foot. I thought that rather an inelegant phrase and I shall return to it.

I do not intend to speak for hours, but I should like to make a few further comments. The House would be wise to listen to the warnings from the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Malins). He stressed how unwise it was for the House to curtail Committee stages. In some respects, Committee is the most important stage —the atmosphere can be changed and the follies of Government can be corrected. Indeed, at the end of this Parliament, hon. Members should have learnt the lesson better than ever before.

My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) emphasised how important it was not merely for Members of Parliament but for our constituents to put their case. They will have little chance of doing so on the Bill in the circumstances in which the Leader of the House has introduced the guillotine.

I know that there has been discussion in the House of Lords, but that makes the offence worse. That may tempt more Governments to introduce more Bills there. That is the wrong way to proceed. I do not think much of the House of Lords anyhow, but it is essential for the proper performance of parliamentary government that the major Bills—this is one—are introduced first in this House. The House of Commons has the right to say first what it thinks of a Bill. The proper way to proceed is for Members of the House to consult their constituents and consider the whole Bill in detail first. The Government should have learnt that better than anyone.

The hon. Member for Honiton talked as if there were a great wave of support for the view that he and others advocate on this matter. I am not saying that there has not been considerable support for it, and he can report that to the House. I repeat, however, that a guillotine greatly injures the way in which the House operates. Of course, Governments like the guillotine, but the House is not in existence only to protect the rights of Governments and the Executive. It is even more than that—the House is here to protect the rights of different Oppositions.

I have said a good deal more on Government Back Benches than I have on Opposition Back Benches and very often it has been what has been done on Government Back Benches that has saved even Labour Governments from some of their follies. Even Labour Governments can occasionally commit follies. They did not in the measures involving the five guillotines which I introduced. They were all excellent measures, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin who voted for them so enthusiastically, will confirm. I do not say that they all had the high quality of the measure that he introduced, but they were very fine measures indeed. On all, there had been a full chance for the House to discuss matters before the guillotine motions.

It is true that, without guillotines then, the Bills could not have been brought into operation. They had all figured prominently in the election manifesto of the Labour party at the time. That, of course, is not at all the circumstances now.

I do not expect shame from Ministers, but I should have thought that all the Ministers present, and all the others who might come in later, would be a little wary about pressing this matter. They all know that the Bill has been brought to the House in this form only because of the catastrophe of what happened on the Bills that were guillotined a few years ago—the poll tax Bills. Without them, we would not have had this legislation.

All the Ministers present are poll tax Ministers, as far as I can see. All of them, including the Leader of the House, voted for the poll tax. The right hon. Gentleman was a keen supporter of the poll tax. He had at his side that second eager poll tax supporter, the Secretary of State for Health. He may have been involved in some other misdemeanours at the same time, but he was also supporting the poll tax in the Cabinet. Then there is poll tax Patten. Why do we not have his intellectual contribution to this debate?

I remember many debates on poll tax motions when the chairman of the Conservative party came along. He was usually the person most eager to get the guillotine through. On this occasion, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin and others have pointed out, he has a special interest in being here. There has been real rudeness on the part of poll tax Patten, if I may use that unparliamentary way of describing him, but everybody knows who I mean. I have some difficulty in distinguishing between the parliamentary popinjays, or whatever they call themselves —the Pattens, the Patties and the patsies—I cannot tell the difference. All I know is that they all supported the poll tax and they all voted for the guillotines that carried through the poll tax legislation. I cannot recall a single one making any objection—except, of course, that great, noble figure, the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine), and even he did not object to the poll tax in Scotland. He thought that it should be tried out on the Scots. The Government did not have to worry about them; they are all anti-Tory anyhow. Along with all the rest of them, he voted to apply the poll tax, through that guillotine procedure, against all the Scots, as well as against all the Welsh and all the English. There are a few prominent poll tax Welsh Members sitting on the Government Benches today. They, too, voted with equal enthusiasm for the poll tax.

Had it not been for the guillotine debate, for the way in which the Government put the pressure on, for the way in which they shepherded all the sheep, ministerial and other, through the Lobbies, we would not be here today. We might even have had a decent election and the country might have been saved a good deal earlier, but everyone knows that that is how we got here. It is shocking that a guillotine motion should be produced in such circumstances.

My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin has proved to the hilt that there has been a greater, easier and more eager resort to the guillotine than at any time in English parliamentary history. [Interruption.] There was nothing on that scale in the Labour days. My hon. Friend gave the figures, and if a Conservative Member wishes to dispute them he is free to intervene and do so. There is no disputing what my hon. Friend has put on the record—the Government, who have a huge majority, have increasingly resorted to the use of the guillotine. That has merely shown their intellectual arrogance.

The House used to have the assistance of the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), or Oswestry as it was, until he was sacked. I have often thought that almost the most foolish act perpetrated by the previous Prime Minister was her sacking of the right hon. Gentleman. Apart from a few Labour competitors, he was the best Leader of the House that I have seen, certainly in a Conservative Government. The right hon. Lady got rid of him because he obviously used to say to the Cabinet, "You won't get away with this, you know. You can't go through with that. If you try to do it you will bulldoze the House and eventually the Members will revolt." The right hon. Gentleman may not have put it in quite such strong language, but no doubt that was the way in which he put the case to the Cabinet.

One of the important jobs of a Leader of the House is to report to the Cabinet and tell it what it cannot do. Unfortunately, the last three or four Leaders of the House — I have forgotten the count—have not done that. They have merely said, "Oh, no, we shall have a few more guillotines." I am afraid that the present Leader of the House has added to that ignoble record.

For all those reasons, I hope that the House will reject the idea of permanent guillotines. I hope that hon. Members will remember the Government's bad example. The Government thought they could force through legislation by that means, and legislation on a range of topics became worse and worse. We do not know whether this Bill will be any better. A major piece of legislation was introduced in the most shabby way in the other place. That did not happen in the better days that have gone. We now have to vote on the timing of its procedures, even though we have not had a single hour of discussion in Committee. That is the wrong way to run the House, and any Government who set such an example do grave injury to parliamentary government. That is the last thing that the Opposition wish to see.

11.17 pm
Sir John Farr (Harborough)

I oppose the guillotine motion.

I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for Blaenau. Gwent (Mr. Foot). Over the years I have listened to many forceful speeches by the right hon. Gentleman, who always speaks common sense, and I have often agreed with him. The House will be the poorer after the election when the right hon. Gentleman will not be with us.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) said it was stupid to have such a debate late at night. I think he said that the media did not pay attention to us. Perhaps he does not know that I have a suitcase full of letters from constituents who are desperately concerned about the Bill.

The reason why some of us have voted against the Second Reading and will vote against the guillotine is that, unless we put into effect this procedure of opposition, there is no proper way in which objections can be fairly and adequately considered. It is not a question of media time; it is not a question of wondering whether the media are listening. I have a duty to nearly a thousand people from the Leicester area who have written to me about adult basic education and community further education.

We have been lucky enough to see the Minister of State; he has been very kind and we have had really good discussions with him. Nevertheless, the fact remains that some of the points that we put to the Minister have not, in Leicestershire's view, been adequately met.

If this guillotine motion goes through, what do I do about the thousand or so letters that I have downstairs? I know that an election is coming, but as a conscientious Member I cannot treat them as so much confetti. All the letters suggest different ways in which the Bill can be improved, but if we accept this awful timetable motion tonight a Bill of nearly 100 clauses will have very limited time for discussion, and the guillotine will fall in Committee. How can any of the amendments be properly considered?

That is the tragedy of it all. That is why I think that the Government are desperately wrong. I say publicly that they are mistaken in trying to push this Bill through in the face of severe and fierce opposition, not just from committed Labour supporters but from rank-and-file Conservatives and from people who have no particular

We were lucky enough to see my hon. Friend the Minister of State a couple of times, and we tried to explain to him how we in Leicestershire would lose out. We pointed out to him that we have in that county a structure of adult basic education and community further education which the rest of the country can only dream of. We made it clear to him that we have many examples in Leicestershire of one-for-one adult education in the home. If people want to better themselves, they are entitled to enjoy this sort of instruction: it should not be denied them in a civilised society.

If the guillotine goes through tonight, what happens to all my amendments? I have sent dozens of letters to my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science. The last one that he answered was, I think, dated October. None of my November, December or January letters about the Bill has even been acknowledged. I sent him an amendment to clause 5 of the Bill in December; it sought to improve the Bill by taking account—the wording was carefully considered—of existing providers of quality further and adult education. That is all we wanted in a small amendment to clause 5.

Our first discussion with the Minister of State took place four weeks ago. Last week he asked us to bring our experts along from Leicestershire to meet his experts and have a discussion. During the course of that discussion there was no way in which the Minister could do other than acknowledge that, after the Bill goes through, the existing privileged structure of adult basic education and further education in the county of Leicestershire can be other than damaged.

There is no way in which I can vote for a guillotine which so severely curtails debate in Committee. Moreover, what chance do I have of serving on the Committee? I have great respect for my right hon. and hon. Friends, but they will choose those of my hon. Friends who are in favour of the Bill, and I think that the Bill stinks. The Government are remiss to press on in the face of careful and constructive opposition, which has been voiced by experts from the county of Leicester and other parts of the country.

There is no way that I will support the guillotine motion. My fear is that I am not likely to serve on the Standing Committee, although I volunteer for such duty if the opportunity be there. The danger is that, if the guillotine motion goes through, the writers of the suitcase full of letters from my constituency will feel outraged, and they will express that outrage in the way that one would expect.

11.25 pm
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr). It is important to recognise just what a major contribution to education Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and the other counties that have developed community colleges have made. I simply regret that more counties did not develop such a system, and I am delighted at the way in which Conservative Members are fighting for what was good provision, developed in a bipartisan way over many years.

The first point that I want to make to the Leader of the House is just how bad the guillotine motion is. As I understand the timetable, not only is the Bill being rushed through the Committee, but the timetable is set up in such a way that it looks as though Ministers will refuse all the amendments tabled in Committee. If the Bill leaves Committee on 28 February, and has to be reprinted to take account of amendments, it will only just scrape through, presumably on the Monday, before the Budget. If any amendments have been made, the Bill will have to return to the other place. That would be a tight schedule.

I suspect that the Government will resist all amendments. In that case, is there any point in having a Committee? I will watch the Committee with a great deal of interest to see whether the Government are prepared to make any concessions on either principle or detail. I very much fear that they have decided that the Bill that left the House of Lords is the Bill that will go on to the statute book, and all the proceedings in this House are a formality. If the Leader of the House wishes to intervene to assure us that, if reasonable amendments are tabled in Committee, the Government can accept them, within the timetable, I shall gladly give way, I suspect that they are determined to push the Bill through without further amendments.

Mr. Straw

I invite my hon. Friend to press the Leader of the House to give a clear undertaking that amendments may be accepted, on their merits, by the Government. This is of critical importance to whether the Government are treating the House with contempt.

Mr. Bennett

I do not need to press the Leader of the House. If he wants to assure us that the Government intend to accept amendments, tabled either from Conservative or Labour Members, even if they are minor, he is welcome to intervene.

Mr. MacGregor

I cannot comment on the merits of amendments that have not yet been tabled, so I do not want to talk about the principle of any amendment. However, I can say that, within the procedures laid down, it would be possible for amendments to be moved and voted on, and, if the Government think that there is merit in them, to be accepted.

Mr. Bennett

The Leader of the House has not answered the question. I asked whether the pressure of the timetable would be such that the Government would decide that there were no merits in any of the amendments. It will be difficult for the Government to get the Bill through if they are prepared to accept amendments, because the Bill will then have to return to the House of Lords. I have every sympathy for those hon. Members who serve on the Committee, but I suspect that they will be lucky if they persuade the Government to reconsider one jot of the Bill.

We started this Parliament with the so-called great Education Reform Bill. When the then Secretary of State for Education, the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker), introduced that measure, he tried to compare it to the Education Act 1944. He claimed that it would stand the test of time. I suppose that, by comparison with the poll tax that he dreamed up, it has stood the test of time. But was it really such a good education reform measure? Of course, the then Secretary of State had to use the guillotine. He slammed that Bill through the House.

We have seen all sorts of problems develop. Opposition Members suggested, especially in Committee, that a little more time ought to be devoted to the whole question of the national curriculum, particularly those aspects of it relating to testing. The Secretary of State was confident that everything could be done, but we all know what a fiasco the test for seven-year-olds has turned out to be, and how the Government have had to keep rethinking it. If only they had taken a little more time in Committee, if only they had listened to some of the arguments, if only they had not been so determined to rush forward, much damage to seven-year-olds would have been avoided.

Then there was the whole question of the opting out of schools. Opposition Members opposed the idea of grant-maintained schools. We opposed the principle, but we also told the Government that, if they intended to go ahead, they ought to consider some of the problems that might arise if grant-maintained schools should go wrong. But the Government insisted that there was no chance of a grant-maintained school's going wrong, as the great and the good would be on its governing body. Everything would be perfectly all right, so there was no need to build into the Bill any provision by which the local authority could step back in, or any mechanism to sort out problems. The Government pushed ahead with great enthusiasm. The Bill was bashed through the House of Commons and through the Committee.

The Secretary of State may be aware of Stratford school down at Newham. It seems that the rules and regulations provided for in the legislation were not able to sort out that situation with any ease. It must be embarrassing for the Government to face the first grant-maintained school to have gone wrong and publicly got into so much difficulty. If only they had taken the time to listen to some of the arguments in Committee, they would have realised that our opposition was valid. Some safety mechanism ought to have been built in to deal with the worst scenario, but the Government were determined to push the legislation through.

The Government are determined, under the Bill that we are considering tonight, to set up colleges of further education as free-standing institutions. Have they considered what will happen if one of these colleges should go wrong? They are relying very heavily on the quality of the principal and of the governing body.

We all hope that no college will get into difficulty, but the likelihood is that somewhere in the country a principal and his governing body will be at loggerheads, or a college will not be run as efficiently as it ought to be. I wonder whether the Government have put into this Bill a mechanism to deal with such a situation. Regardless of the merits of taking the control of colleges away from local authorities, that is a matter of detail that ought to be considered very carefully.

During the passage of the Education Reform Act 1988, we had a long argument about whether we should get rid of the binary divide. Again the Government brushed us aside and accused us of talking nonsense: of course the binary divide had to be kept. This is a matter to which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) referred on Second Reading today.

Within three years, the Government saw the good sense of what Opposition Members had said. If they had taken a little more time in Committee, if they had allowed a little more debate at that stage, they might have seen the good sense of our case. The Government, instead of timetabling lots of Bills, ought to provide sufficient time to debate one or two of them effectively.

The Government seem to set their face against local democracy. They sought through the Education Reform Act 1988 to take powers from local authorities and they seek to do so by means of the Bill. There is a common strand. I do not understand why the Government hate local democracy so much, unless it is that Labour councils are elected. Belief in local democracy hangs on whether we are prepared to let those with whom we disagree have their point of view and, if necessary, run institutions.

The Government claim that they are democratic and believe in democracy, but when it comes to local democracy, they remove powers from local authorities and give them to unelected appointees. They assume that that is somehow better than having elected representatives. Yet they are so pleased that in eastern Europe Governments are getting rid of people who were appointed rather than elected; they consider that that is good. I merely say to the Conservative party that it should show some faith in local democracy. If it or the Government have no faith in local democracy, it is hard for them to have faith in national democracy.

Guillotine motions are an erosion of the democratic process. They hand over power to the Executive. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) has been a continual enthusiast of guillotines and timetabling. I do not know whether that is because he is a part-time Member with other interests who does not want to spend as much time in the House as some others, but unfortunately the hon. Gentleman misleads the House. I have been a Member of this place since 1974, and I have not served as a member of a Standing Committee in opposition when the Opposition have not timetabled consideration of the Bill from the beginning. They have worked out how they want to allocate time.

It is not true to say that the consideration of Bills is not timetabled. It is a matter of who does the timetabling. The tradition of the House has been that the Opposition have the right to arrange the timetabling until such time as they demonstrate to the Government that they are not prepared to deliver the Bill. In the main, the idea that entire sections of Bills are not properly debated is nonsense. Occasionally an entire clause will not be debated, but that will be because it has appeared in previous legislation, and it is clear that there is no political controversy. All those who are consulted outside the House see nothing wrong with that. Why should we spend an hour debating a clause if no one can see any problem with it?

Time will be allocated to clauses when there is party controversy or drafting problems, but to spread the idea that Bills are not timetabled is to spread nonsense. In the Committees on which I have served in opposition, those that have been well run—the majority—have proceeded with a clear allocation of time that has been well in everyone's mind, and there has been adherence to it. There have been very few filibusters on the Bills with which I have been involved. It is dangerous for the House to try to change its procedure because in any one Session there have been one or two Bills on which there have been filibusters as opposed to genuine attempts to scrutinise.

I use what is now the Education Reform Act 1988 as an example of a Bill that was slammed through the House, including its consideration in Committee, with all its warts remaining. The Government made no attempt to modify it, and they are now paying the penalty. I hope that the Government will not introduce more guillotine motions and that even at this late stage they will say that they want a proper Bill for further and higher education, and they want a proper scrutiny. The Government have clearly created a major problem for non-vocational further education. It has not been overcome, and it will have to be resolved by introducing further legislation after the general election. It would be far better to bring consideration of the motion to an end and to have proper scrutiny rather than to rush another measure on to the statute book that will quickly have to be amended or repealed.

11.38 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

I have listened with interest to what Labour Members said about the timetable motion. We have already heard from the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) that they have very little objection to the vast majority of the clauses on higher education. Articles in the education press say that Labour is offering the Government a deal in respect of putting the Bill on the statute book before the general election. If that is so, very little time will be needed in which to consider the higher education part, and there will be more than enough time in which to discuss matters that I regard as important—for instance, the question of a pay review body for lecturers, which has been raised with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State.

It is no good saying that we cannot have such a body because quite large sources of funding for universities, colleges and polytechnics are connected with sponsorship, given that, with today's graded posts, it is possible to build into sponsors' contracts agreed amounts representing the salary of the lecturer involved, and also to make sure that the salary keeps with the recommendations of the pay review body. We could and should consider the matter during the passage of the Bill.

There will also be adequate time for us to consider the question of the naming of some polytechnics and, particularly, institutes of higher education. The Government's policy of freeing the polytechnics and institutes of higher education from the control of local authorities has been one of the major successes of Government policy on higher education. Alongside that development, there is the fact that in 1979 one in eight school leavers went into higher education, while today's terrific figure is one in four. That is an increase of 270,000.

It is now only logical to allow those same colleges and polytechnics to consider themselves universities, particularly when we bear in mind that they are now degree-awarding institutions. I shall seek—and no doubt will find, in the time available—an opportunity to make a special plea for Edge Hill institute of higher education in Ormskirk, in my constituency, to be allowed to adopt the title of university college. I have expressed that view to the Secretary of State, and I hope that he will give it serious consideration.

The important part of the Bill on which the timetable motion will have an impact deals with the further education colleges' becoming independent free-standing institutions and having their own funding council. Clearly, following the success of the polytechnics' independence, that is a logical extension of the policy and the time available should be directed towards discussion of the matter.

Especially important is a problem that we face in Lancashire which has been brought about by the Bill and which—as a consequence—the timetable motion actually helps. I would go so far as to say that what Lancashire county council is doing makes it essential that the Bill is debated in full and passes into law. I refer to the fact that the council is behaving as if the Bill were already on the statute book. Despite representations made by Conservative county councillors, it has cut from its budget £4 million in grants and fees for adult students going into full-time further education. Representations have been made on the finance committees to reduce that cut, and there have been alternative suggestions—for instance, that £265,000 should be taken from administration or £160,000 from that sacred cow of the Labour party in Lancashire, Lancashire Enterprises Ltd. Unfortunately, a blind eye has been turned on that. The livelihoods and futures of 900 FE students in Lancashire are being deliberately ignored and abused by the Lancashire county council Labour group.

This is one of the meanest cuts ever to have been made in local government expenditure—from a local authority with a budget of more than £1 billion which could afford to make cuts elsewhere to save the education of 900 FE students. However, the local authority is not prepared to do that, which is a great shame upon it.

Mr. Straw


Mr. Hind

I give way to the apologist for the Labour group on Lancashire county council, the shadow Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman did not vote against the local government finance Bills that have led to the capping and the potential capping of county councils such as Lancashire. He voted for those measures to control Lancashire county council's total spending and that of every other authority. That authority is being forced to cut the budgets of colleges in his constituency and in mine because he voted for the budgets to be cut. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends alone bear the responsibility for what is happening in Lancashire. There is no way in which the hon. Gentleman can get out of that, and his electors understand that all too well.

Mr. Hind

I totally reject what the hon. Gentleman says. He should look at parallel authorities, such as Hampshire and Cheshire and other well-run Conservative authorities, which manage such funding from within their budgets and which are not facing the same problems because they are not profligate, spend, spend, spend authorities. The hon. Gentleman should advise the Labour group on the county council to think again on behalf of those 900 students—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancashire)


Mr. Hind

I give way to my hon. Friend—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. Perhaps we should return to the allocation of time motion.

Mr. Hind

You are right to call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I return to the question why the timetable motion is vital. During our discussions, we shall have to look for ways to help those students. They will certainly not get that help from Lancashire county council because that authority will not do anything about their problem.

I speak also on behalf of the 10 FE colleges in Lancashire, including Skelmersdale college, that are affected because, although the budgets of those colleges will be greater under the funding council that is proposed in the Bill, the formula that will follow in years to come may be affected because the very students whom we wish to help by funding their grants and fees may not be able to get the assistance to take up their places in the future, which will mean empty places and wasted funds.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Does my hon. Friend believe that there will be time, under the timetable, to discuss the fact that, although our colleges of further education and our adult education sector take only 15 per cent. of the county's education spending, 65 per cent. of the cuts will be inflicted on that sector? I repeat: although that sector accounts for only 15 per cent. of education expenditure, it is being asked to take 65 per cent. of the cuts.

Mr. Hind

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Clearly, the time that is to be made available will enable us to discuss that matter.

It is also important for the Committee to consider the fact that, since the introduction of an FE formula for the FE sector, the budget of the FE college at Skelmersdale in my constituency increased in the first year by 40 per cent. and by 20 per cent. last year. That is the result of central Government intervention, which is being built on by the Bill. It is another important reason why the timetable motion should be passed and our consideration of the Bill should proceed.

I hope that the time provided by the timetable motion will give us an opportunity to discuss the position of the deaf students who will be attending FE colleges following the passage of the Bill. Lecturers in FE colleges who deal with the deaf have expressed their concern to ensure that their students are properly funded and cared for. I hope that that issue, along with adult education, will be dealt with.

It seems to me from the attitude of Lancashire that the Labour party is saying to itself that the timetable motion and the Bill are bound to go through and therefore it will act accordingly. It is almost planning for the future as if it will not win the general election anyway. It accepts that the Conservatives will be returned to the House and that the Bill will be the pillar of further education in the future. Therefore, we ought to give it a fair wind.

The only thing that I would say to the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) is that I hope that, when we debate motions such as this in the future, Opposition Front Benchers, who will inevitably be Labour Members, will read all his speeches on guillotine motions and use them as a model. Undoubtedly, we shall hear them for many years to come from the Opposition Dispatch Box.

11.50 pm
Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I wish to speak against the guillotine motion because I am worried that there was not enough time in the Second Reading debate, and there will not be sufficient time in Committee, to discuss some of the important issues in the Bill.

The Bill covers a wide range of further education and higher education institutions. There may well be a consensus on some of them, but the Bill is so wide that I cannot see how the issues about which there is anxiety can be given the hearing and debate that they deserve. Nor will it be possible to take into account the representations which all Members of Parliament have received, particularly on adult education.

An example of a matter on which I do not believe that there will be adequate discussion is sixth form colleges. The John Leggott sixth form college in Scunthorpe has a first-class reputation. It has done well under local authority control. There is bewilderment about why such a successful education institution has to be taken away from the local education authority and put into central Government care and control. We know that the reason is not that it will make education any better. The reason is the poll tax and the desire to reduce local government expenditure by taking a set of budget headings under central Government control.

Several issues which affect sixth form colleges need to be considered, and I doubt whether there will be time to consider them under the timetabling. They include the lack of responsibility for local strategic planning which will result from greater centralised control of education; the mechanisms that will be used by the funding councils to determine the level of funding for local sixth form colleges; who will decide and control the curriculum of sixth form colleges; and the developments within individual institutions. These are matters of great concern to the staff in my local sixth form college. They see no educational benefits in being taken away from local authority control.

Many hon. Members raised the subject of adult education. There are issues of real concern about adult education. I still have not heard Ministers explain to the House why organisations such as Humberside adult education service, a large and successful organisation, will have to go through the FE colleges to obtain funding for their vocational sector. That seems to undermine the principle of a successful scheme. Many thousands of adult education students do not see the benefit or logic of taking part of adult education away from LEAs, thus splitting it and undermining it.

Why cannot the Government allow large institutions such as Humberside adult education service to bid in its own right to the funding councils to ensure that it can continue in its own successful way?

A number of concerns have been mentioned to me. One issue influences me most of all, and I doubt whether there will be time to discuss it properly in Committee. A successful adult education service works on a devolved basis. Within my constituency many smaller towns and villages benefit from such a service. It provides a wide range of services, qualifications and courses. Under the proposals in the Bill, that service stands to lose approximately half its courses and half its staff. Yet it will be expected to continue to maintain the same level of infrastructure, comprising colleges and centres around the county, especially in the rural areas.

Women will be the main losers from the changes. One of the advantages of an adult education service which operates in villages and small towns is that it is convenient for women, many of whom wish to improve their qualifications and return to work, to attend courses near their homes.

Humberside adult education service also provides crèche facilities for many courses. That facility is also likely to be undermined by the approach in the Bill.

I do not wish to criticise the local further education college because it also does a good job. The relationship between the college, the adult education service and the sixth form college is very good. It is fortunate that, with Humberside education authority under Labour control, we have such a good record on education in the county that local institutions have been so successful.

However, I am concerned that, because of the timetabling of the Bill, there is a suggestion that the Government will be unwilling to accept any amendments, because if they do the Bill will have to go back to the other place and there will be a risk of delaying it. I strongly urge the Government to listen to the representations that they are receiving and will receive from thousands of students of adult education.

I am pleased that some Conservative Members have also suggested, succinctly and eloquently, to the Government that there is a risk of damaging a first-rate service simply because they have not given enough thought to adult education. It is a victim of their drive to tinker about with the education service, for no good reason, and of their hatred of local government. I do not understand why they hate local government so much. It is not a party matter—they hate Conservative, Liberal and Labour authorities alike. At least they are consistent in their dislike of local government.

Local government has done a good job in education. It is close to the people it serves, and local people put it there to ensure that it delivers that service. All over the world centralised structures are being broken down, but the Government are more intent on taking away devolved accountability and moving towards a centralised, bureaucratic structure, which will not deliver the same levels of service and will not be responsive to local people's needs.

The Bill is fatally flawed and undermines the principle of adult education and the provision of a certain level of service for thousands of people who depend upon it. If the Government do not allow proper discretion in Committee and do not accept a reasonable amendment to allow adult education services to bid separately, the choice will be clear to the people. If the Government will not do it for them, the forthcoming Labour Government most certainly will, and people will know how to mark their ballot papers.

11.58 pm
Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth)

The Opposition know that I am a fair person; I shall not speak at great length. I appreciate that, when an Opposition is faced with a large Government majority, often the only weapon that they have is time.

When Bills are debated, often so much time is taken up on the earlier clauses that, unfortunately, there is insufficient time to study later clauses that are equally important. The Bill is of great importance to education and therefore it is right that we should have a timetable which ensures that sufficient time is available to discuss each clause sensibly and in depth. That also means that hon. Members on each side of the House may call upon the Secretary of State and his ministerial team to give specific assurances or undertakings.

We are seeking the pursuit of excellence, because without it we will be unable to compete with the rest of the world. Therefore, the Government are concentrating their attention on those vocational and academic courses that lead to national certification. That is the only way in which we will be able to compete, educationally, with the rest of the world.

In common with some Opposition Members, I am anxious about community education, so I need enough time to discuss it. I am worried about whether LEAs will have sufficient funds to enable important community classes to continue without the need for high subscription charges. Recreational and leisure courses give people self-esteem, they get people out of the house, and they have an important social function. Often such courses give people the self-confidence to undertake more vocational courses, and I want enough time to receive assurances from the Government about their future.

Littleborough and Saddleworth are covered by the two boroughs of Oldham and Rochdale, and they are worried about the Bill. About 20,000 people in each borough undertake leisure and recreational courses, and long may they continue to do so. My right hon. and learned Friend has given us reassurances about those courses, but it is important that there is sufficient funding to ensure that they continue.

I appreciate that, in many cases, the Opposition play fair and that they do not take up time unnecessarily in Committees. However, I am sure that the Opposition also appreciate, and probably accept, that, on occasion, time is the only weapon left to them, especially when faced by a large Government majority. Therefore, they seek to frustrate legislation with which they are not too pleased by taking up all the available time. Often that means that we end up in a mess because we have only one and a half hours to debate remaining clauses which we need more time to consider. Therefore, a timetable is common sense.

I do not want to say any more because I wish to be fair to the Opposition. I believe that the Bill is most important and that, therefore, it is right to ensure that we set aside enough time for each of its clauses to be considered in depth.

12.2 am

Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)

I do not believe that the comments of the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens) on the guillotine motion were appropriate.

Anyone in the Strangers Gallery who listened to the debate leading up to the vote at 10 pm would be entitled to think that the purpose of the guillotine motion was to prevent Conservative Back Benchers from having the time of their lives by attacking the Bill and expressing the strength of public feeling that exists in the county seats that they mainly represent.

It will prevent them from outlining the destruction that the Bill may wreak on the provision of adult education and further education in their areas. This is the first time that one could interpret the imposition of the guillotine as a means of preventing Conservative Members from having their say about a piece of last-minute Conservative legislation. I am sure that anyone who heard the earlier debate would agree that that is a fair conclusion to reach.

It is important to consider the perils of rushing through the legislation by imposing a timetable. We should remember that such timetables inevitably mean that consideration of legislation is rushed. That means that one forgets to consider how the Bill fits in with other existing legislation on further and higher education. We have been asked to rush the Bill through without attempting to debug the problems that it will raise. Therefore, one ends up with a legislative Molotov cocktail. That cocktail is aimed at the heart of my constituency for rare, if not unique, reasons.

I have in my constituency a building of which I have fond memories. The count was held there when I was first elected. It used to be called Llandaf tech, part of what was the South Glamorgan institute of higher education, recently renamed the Cardiff institute of higher education. Most of those with whom I was at school went there, after leaving school at 15 to do apprenticeships and so on, on their day release and for night school studies.

Within the Cardiff institute of higher education are a large number of further education students. One effect of rushing through legislation such as this is that we shall shortly be introducing a split between further and higher education. The Cardiff institute has four campuses, but the biggest problem concerns the one in my constituency. There are 900 FE students and 40 members of staff teaching them, making it equivalent to an average FE college. So it is a college within a college—a college of FE that is housed in an HE institution.

Rushing the Bill through without considering the side effects will result, next September, in those 900 students and 40 members of staff being in serious danger of being out on the street. They will have nowhere to go and no alternative premises.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke


Mr. Morgan

The Secretary of State may screw up his nose at that, but I assure him that I am describing the situation. Negotiations are taking place between civil servants at the Welsh Office—as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales will confirm—the two colleges, including the nearest FE college, and the county council.

I will explain how this unusual situation has come about and why the Secretary of State must give more thought to the Bill to ensure that all the problems are out of the way before the Government start shovelling legislation off the back of a lorry in this way before the election, without considering the plight of 900 students and 40 members of staff who are in serious danger of being homeless. We are talking of a college with no name, as it were, but it will soon be a college with no home.

Most places have an adequate network of FE colleges, but we in South Glamorgan have not. We have only two, and they are at each end of the county. There is not one in my area, so the central section of South Glamorgan—having a population, including bits of other constituencies, of 150,000 to 200,000—is without an FE college. When the FE students are brought out of the Cardiff institute of higher education, consider what will happen.

Obviously, the institute will not want to house those students any longer because to fulfil the funding requirements of this measure, if it is not amended—and we shall not have time to consider such issues under the guillotine—all the FE students will have to leave, Where will they go? In most other areas, they would go into an FE institution nearby. What happens if, as in my area, there is not one nearby?

The Bill also has the effect of removing all co-ordination between the LEA and the FE colleges and HE institutions. Up to now, all of them being under the same management, they could easily integrate. South Glamorgan county council's education department could say "We appreciate why the institute of higher education wants to get the 900 FE students and 40 members of staff out, so we will lease a temporary building to the institute, or to Barry college of further education, to house this college within a college."

But as soon as the council says that, the Welsh Office replies, "In that case, it will be a building used for further education, and as soon as you lease it to us, we will grab it and pass it over to the FE funding council." That will happen because the Bill has not had adequate debate. That will seriously increase the danger of 900 students and 40 members of staff on courses such as plumbing, catering and hairdressing, enabling young men and women to enter vocational courses, perhaps finding themselves out in the middle of Western avenue doing their work because there is nowhere for them to go. Western avenue is a lovely dual carriageway bypass, but it is no place to begin one's further education.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

That is obviously a Welsh Office problem and the hon. Gentleman will no doubt correspond with my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Welsh Office. However, I do not understand why the further education part of the college is being thrown out, as the hon. Gentleman fears. It is not unusual for higher and further education to be combined in various parts of the United Kingdom. Nene college at Nuneaton combines higher and further education, and the funding arrangements in the Bill will accommodate continued funding for both parts of its activities. Nene college has existed under the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council for some years, and has also accommodated the funding of its further education.

The hon. Gentleman will have to give more details about why somebody has decided to throw the college off its site before the Welsh Office can respond adequately, as it will no doubt do in due course. I can see no rational reason why the college should appear to be in such a stark crisis.

Mr. Morgan

I am sure that the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, who is sitting next to the Secretary of State now, can confirm that his civil servants have been negotiating with the education department of South Glamorgan county council and the two colleges—the present Cardiff institute of higher education and the Barry college of further education—for several months to devise temporary and permanent solutions, such as a temporary annexe to house students.

It is up to the Secretary of State to explain his legislation, but I understand that civil servants have been devoting time to the problem, and I presume that they would not do so if it was not a problem. With the advantages of their education and qualifications, and the firm leadership of the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, they would have solved the matter in five minutes flat.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Who owns the property, and why have the owners—I presume that it is an authority—taken it into their collective head to throw the college off the site?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is not the right moment to debate the matter. The hon. Gentleman was saying that he thought that time should be available to debate the matter. It should not be debated now.

Mr. Morgan

I have gone to enormous lengths, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to avoid offending the strictures of speaking on a guillotine motion as distinct from a substantive Bill.

Without adequate time, the Secretary of State is liable to fall into the trap of waiving problems, as he is now trying to do, rather than seriously studying them. He tries to pretend that the problem does not exist, even though it obviously does. The attempt by civil servants from the Welsh Office to find a solution to it proves that there is a serious problem. We have about six months to avert disaster to the foundations of vocational further education in my county, and particularly my constituency, unless the Government find a way to ensure that the Bill is adequately debated long before it has any chance of becoming the law under which education must operate.

Mr. Clarke

I think that I can help the hon. Gentleman and get us back into order. The hon. Gentleman obviously does not know the cause of that great problem. I accept his assurance that civil servants at the Welsh Office do, and I assure him that he will receive a reply in due course from my hon. Friends the Minister of State or the Under-Secretary of State, whose Parliamentary Private Secretary is on the Bench listening to the debate.

Mr. Morgan

The Secretary of State is doing his best to waive the problem. I think that I know what is wrong with the Bill, but it is not my job to explain the legislation to the House. I understand that the consequences of the Bill will combine with other recent legislation, which is why I referred to a legislative Molotov cocktail aimed at the heart of further education in my constituency. The dual effect of the so-called autonomy of further and higher education colleges, combined with the funding arrangements for higher education, will mean that, to make their buildings pay, higher education colleges must fill them with students of higher education. They will therefore have to remove further education students as quickly as possible, preferably by next September, from their present buildings.

Normally, that would not pose a problem, but in areas without a full network of FE colleges it does. My constituency is outstandingly short of FE institutions. It does not matter whether they can be integrated under the local authority. Given that there is a firm separation between the school sector, which is still in local authority ownership, and the new further and higher education colleges, which are autonomous and report to the further education funding council for Wales and the higher education funding council for Wales, all three institutions will now be separate. The Government have not thought ahead to the consequences in areas such as Cardiff, West, where there is no place of further education half-empty or with a little spare capacity which could absorb the transfer courses from the higher education institutions where FE is taught on the same campus as HE.

I can assure the Secretary of State that that poses a problem that we do not have long to solve. I am horrified that the Bill will be rushed through when it is on the point of creating serious problems.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Nicholas Bennett)

The hon. Gentleman may not be aware that I am not responsible for education at the Welsh Office; that is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. He is unwell this evening, so I am sitting in listening to the debate. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will draw his remarks to my right hon. Friend's attention. He will get a full letter on the subject, and my right hon. Friend will undoubtedly discuss the matter with him.

Mr. Morgan

In that case, I am happy to draw my remarks to a close. Obviously the Under-Secretary is taking a different attitude from that of the Secretary of State for Education and Science. The hon. Gentleman suspects that there is a problem, whereas the Secretary of State does not accept that but tries to wave the issue away as though it does not exist, even though Welsh civil servants have been heavily engaged in trying to figure out the problem.

There are no transitional arrangements for easing the path of FE work as it moves out of fully integrated local authority control into the autonomous, semi-independent institutions of which the Government are so fond. The Government do not realise that sometimes there are not the buildings. Sometimes, any offers by the county council to provide funding are rejected or constructively suggested with a "Yes, fine—you spend the £2 million in South Glamorgan, and we will take over the new asset that you are about to create." That is a wholly inadequate response. Obviously it would be financially irresponsible of the county council to spend £2 million of its own money only to have the further education funding council for Wales say, "Thank you very much, we will grab it and use it for ourselves."

The problem must be solved. Without its solution, the Government will stand condemned of having destroyed the foundations of further education in south Glamorgan and, in particular, my constituency.

12.17 am
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

It grieves me that in the self-styled mother of Parliaments I should see not the Secretary of State, his two hirelings, or some rebellious Back-Bencher, but the Leader of the House himself attempt matricide. For what reason does he have his hands bloodied?—for a Bill that is, to say the least, cheap and ill-thought-out and that should not be appearing before the House.

The Secretary of State has shown on every occasion possible his ignorance and lack of concern about education. On this occasion he has done so not even for reasons of ideology. In a sense, I could excuse the timetable if he had ideological reasons for doing what he wants to do, but it is sheer prejudice. It is his paranoia about local government, to which he returns time and again. This is a cheap way of saving a little money.

We know that the relationship between adult and further education has been nurtured not by central Government but by local government of both political complexions. Let me mention the old West Riding, when it was under Conservative control, and the work that it pioneered in further education and adult education. It was careful work, because it demanded that one put together in a delicate way the relationship between the two. As with the distinction between pure and applied, the distinction between adult education and FE is very fine indeed; and one merges with the other. The way in which the Secretary of State is proposing to deal with them, in the most cavalier fashion, means that he is intent upon destroying their spirit. He has not, for example, thought out carefully the funding of adult education, and the special experiments that have been started by local government, not by his Department, which are succeeding and which are adding quality to people's lives.

I am thinking, for example, of the Castleford women's centre in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse), which also serves my constituency, and the pioneering work that it has done. It has become part of the community, is helping in reducing juvenile crime and is running a range of positive courses which contribute to the members' own satisfaction. All that is being put heedlessly at risk. It is also geared to New college, which is a sixth form college, quite different from the existing further education college, to which it is also allied. It has an intricate relationship with the University of Leeds, the sixth form college and the college of further education.

The Secretary of State does not understand what he is doing with this Bill, and he never will, because he wishes to push it through without the evidence being put before him. We know what the Secretary of State does with evidence. If it is inconvenient to him, he suppresses it, as he has done with this Bill. He will not publish; he refuses to publish. That is typical of the way in which he approaches something which is of value to society, because he does not recognise its value; he thinks only, as Oscar Wilde would say, of its price.

Therefore, we must reject the Bill. We have to make sure that we can properly examine what is being done in further education and adult education so that we may save for future generations the gems which the Minister wishes heedlessly to destroy.


Mr. Rupert Allason (Torbay)

As a matter of principle, I am opposed to all timetable motions because I regard them as a negation of the democratic process. I had intended to make my point in an intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind). I will be brief, because I understand that there are Opposition Members who want to speak.

My concern is fourfold. I have community colleges in my constituency, and it is my belief that such colleges demand and earn the respect of all people. They are extremely important and they offer an extremely good service to the community.

My worry is whether, by passing this guillotine motion, we shall reduce the amount of time that can be spent in examining whether under this Bill community colleges in rural areas such as Devon will be disadvantaged in comparison with similar colleges elsewhere in metropolitan areas, where I accept that there is a certain degree of competition between the colleges. Anxiety has been expressed to me about the composition of the regional councils. I hope that setting a timetable will not make it impossible to examine not only the structure of the regional councils but their composition. Who exactly will sit on the councils?

I do not regard the Bill as an attack on local education authorities or, indeed, on local democracy, but it is important that we take time to examine every aspect of the funding councils to ensure that we are not abandoning local education authorities in favour of what is in effect a pig in a poke. There is certainly great anxiety about funding, because until now it has been an easy option to cut adult education and non-vocational courses in the colleges. They have been an easy target in the past. If one of the Bill's objectives is to steady or perhaps increase funding of the colleges, it will gain my support. However, I am concerned about the future of community courses, especially in Devon, and when the Minister replies I urge him to give an undertaking that the aspects of the Bill that I have highlighted will not be disadvantaged by the passing of the guillotine motion.

12.25 am
Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

I shall address the substantial points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett). He spoke about two matters, the first of which was the danger of hasty legislation and how it eventually catches up with us. The second was the danger of forcing such a tight timetable on legislation that important lobby organisations with much valuable advice to offer do not have time to give that advice. He gave various examples of such legislation but failed to mention the most recent example of a guillotined Bill, the Education (Schools) Bill. The Opposition remain convinced that that Bill contains many chickens waiting to come home to roost. Examples are the quality control of privatised inspectors, the possibility of cosy relationships between inspectors and the schools that hire them, the possibility of inspections going wrong and the question of what happens if a school finds itself in trouble at an awkward point in the cycle of inspections.

In Committee, we argued exhaustively about a range of issues, but none of our advice was accepted, and we are convinced that an ill-thought-out Bill is on its way into law. I have here a document that ilustrates not only that point but the difficulty faced by important lobby organisations in trying to give advice during the passage of the Bill. It is a briefing document from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of Universities in the United Kingdom, and I saw it on my board this afternoon as I was coming into the Chamber for Second Reading. It was marked urgent, which is indicative enough, and it draws urgent attention to clauses 68 and 81. When I read what had been referred to, it seemed that clause 66 and not clause 68 was the relevant one. That illustrates the haste with which this august body, the CVCP, had to produce the briefing document.

Clause 68—I think that that is the one that was meant —is of horrendous significance. The report of the debate on the clause in the other place in early February covered 27 columns of Hansard, and amendments were made on Third Reading. The clause refers to the terms and conditions attached to grants made to, and from, the funding councils. That is of great importance.

There is an overt intention in the clause that the Secretary of State should be able to attach terms and conditions to the grants made available to the funding councils. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals does not object to the general application of such a clause, but it finds some difficulties, and here is something that strikes at the heart of the integrity of the higher education system. The difficulties arise when it comes to the matters on which the Secretary of State is able to lay down terms and conditions and the extent to which he can override the funding councils' discretion to release funds to individual institutions. He can make exceptional determinations in relation to individual institutions.

The Department of Education and Science, I am told by the CVCP, stated that the Secretary of State thought that he had those powers under the Education Reform Act 1988, but this has been put in doubt by judgments of counsel. The DES claimed that it was always intended that the powers of the Secretary of State should be used in that way, but the previous Secretary of State gave a categoric assurance: I have no intention of using my power to attach conditions to influence the allocation of funds to individual institutions. That is properly a matter for the Funding Councils." [Official Report, Standing Committee J, 16 February 1988; c. 1446.] He gave a similar assurance on 24 March, but I will not burden the House by reading the full text of that assurance. It reiterated what he had said earlier.

At no time during the passage of the Education Reform Bill were such intended uses of the powers discussed with the CVCP. Representatives of the CVCP's views argued this clause through 27 columns of the Official Report of the House of Lords, such was the importance that they attached to the principle. They managed to get an amendment, which I shall read to the House. Clause 68 says: The Secretary of State may make grants to each of the councils of such amounts and subject to such terms and conditions as he may determine. Then we come to the amendment: The terms and conditions subject to which grants are made by the Secretary of State to either of the councils— (a) may in particular impose requirements to be complied with in respect of every institution, or every institution falling within a class or description specified in the terms and conditions … before financial support of any amount or description so specified is provided by the council in respect of activities carried on by the institution". As the CVCP says, Subsection 2(a) of the clause is now worthy of the Plain English Society's gobbledegook prize and the CVCP's lawyers advise that it could still be used by ministers to interfere with individual institutions or groups of institutions. The CVCP still regards the issue as not yet having been satisfactorily determined.

It is evident to me from the debate on Second Reading and from many contributions in this debate that the first eight sittings of the Committee will be more than adequately occupied by the business of clauses 1 to 14 and schedule 2. There will be no spare time in those sittings to allocate to business on the 70 or so other clauses.

I know that it has been said that the Opposition accept many of the Bill's provisions for higher education. I am happy to agree with that, but my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) said that he smelt a rat. I am sure that the dramatic pointing of his arm was a rhetorical and not a demonstrative gesture. I, too, smell a rat—in clause 66. I wonder how many other rats should be smelt out but will not be because the time available is inadequate to scrutinise the details of the Bill.

The CVCP says that it is claimed that clause 81 is a power of last resort to provide for a proper level of accountability for public money. That is an important issue of principle in the way that we conduct the business of the House. At the moment, these powers are subject to the negative procedure, and the CVCP, and I am sure all responsible Members of Parliament, regards it as important that such powers be subject to affirmative resolution.

All this shows that, if the guillotine motion is agreed, the time allocated to the Bill will be inadequate to allow debates on the many important issues in it that need still to be examined. I offer the Secretary of State some advice. There is a story in Greek mythology that Odysseus, when he came home after 10 years of warfare in Troy and 10 years of tribulation and storm at sea, and decided that he wanted some peace, took an oar from his ship and walked inland. When, eventually, a local said to him, "What are you doing carrying a winnowing fan on your shoulder?" he decided that there was the place to settle down in peace.

Many teachers, at all levels, who are suffering under the Government would dearly love to walk inland wearing their mortarboards and stop when someone offered to buy them so that they could be used to plaster walls. My advice to the Secretary of State is that he roll up this Further and Higher Education Bill and walk away with it. When, eventually, someone comes up to him in agitation and asks him why he is carrying round—I will not be polite and call it a toilet roll, but will call it something even more insulting—a Tory tabloid newspaper, he should then take out the Bill, look at it and re-examine its purpose and its value.

12.37 am
Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

As this is supposed to be a debate, I shall refer to three speeches from Tory Members, although none of those who made them is here to listen to any debating points that I may make.

The first is the hon. Member for Littleborough and Saddleworth (Mr. Dickens), who claimed that the advantage of the timetable motion was that the Bill could be chopped up into little bits, thereby allowing adequate time to consider each item. If he examined the motion, he would discover that it is not like that at all, and that it is possible for 96 clauses and eight schedules to be dealt with on 26 February, finishing at 9.30 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Tim Eggar)

The hon. Gentleman might like to know that the precise timetabling was arranged at the request of the Opposition, who asked that 80 per cent. of the available time should be spent on the first 14 clauses.

Mr. Barnes

It is quite possible to provide a considerably longer period and still allocate 80 per cent. of the time to those clauses. If more days were available in advance of the remaining 20 per cent. of the time, the matters to which I have referred would be much more likely to be brought up.

Mr. Haynes

What my hon. Friend is saying may fit a rumour that is flitting around the House. The rumour, which I heard last night, is that the Government are considering going to the country before 9 April. In fact, it goes further; it says that they will go without a Budget. If my hon. Friend thinks about that, he will see the need for this timetable. [Laughter.] As I speak, a member of the Cabinet is laughing his head off. There is something going on. As I told my hon. Friend earlier, there is a rat in this Chamber, and it is running around like hell.

Mr. Barnes

Obviously, my hon. Friend has smelt two rats.

The second contribution to which I want to refer was that of the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind), who said that there was no great dispute over part II of the Bill, which deals with higher education. So far as the end of the binary divide is concerned, that is certainly true, but it is an argument for excluding part II from the provisions of the timetable. Part II could be considered seriously and at greater length.

The Transport and Works Bill was not divided upon. When that measure went into Committee, some time was spent on it, and a considerable number of amendments emerged. Although Members wanted to improve it, there was no division about the general principles. In the case of this Bill, a similar situation could be created if a particular element of it were excluded from the timetabling arrangements.

The third Member to whom I want to refer is the Leader of the House, who said that he was in favour of automatic timetabling. I am afraid that we might be pushed into automatic timetabling, the abolition of Friday sittings, and a rising time of 7 pm. In those circumstances, what would 650 Members do, especially if Committee debate were timetabled? Perhaps the number of Members would have to be greatly reduced. I can envisage difficulties. If each Member were to have a constituency twice as big as his current one, he would need better facilities.

We are now in a silly season, when electioneering is to the fore in the House. I realise that, in one sense, what goes on in the House is a continuation of the hustings. It is right that it should be so, but I am concerned about the extent and the triviality of such debate. The extended campaigning gives rise to certain legislative worries.

We are faced with two extremes. Either business is rushed, as this Bill is being rushed, to fit in with some future timetable, or we scrape around for things to do in the remaining time, and the Government often put matters forward simply as part of a media circus that is organised elsewhere—a circus in which the Government present the issues that form the basis of their campaign.

Rushed debates led to the farce of the council tax, and now further and higher education are threatened by a timetable motion. The Government must have strong reasons for wishing to impose a guillotine at such an early stage. As I have said, we move from one extreme to the other, with the result that many Members have lost interest in what is taking place in the House. Last night, for example, without the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties coming to the Government's rescue, they would have lost their Northern Ireland industrial relations order.

It seems fantastic that we are considering a guillotine motion on of all things a Further and Higher Education Bill. Surely a well-organised society should look towards further and higher education. It should see the education process from nursery education on to primary and secondary education and onwards as something that is preparing people for later stages in their life, when they can fully develop within further and higher education.

Education cannot be rushed, despite what the Government think. They think, for example, that at Ruskin college and Northern college, two-year courses can be chopped by one year so that twice as many students can pass through the system, with results that are twice as good. By chopping courses in two we kill that which existed. It is not half of a two-year course that takes place in one year, because the second year is based considerably on what took place in the first. Education cannot be confined to modules and rushed forward. People need time to mature within education institutions, provisions and arrangements.

That principle should apply to the consideration of education legislation, and especially that which is directed to further and higher education. On Second Reading, the Secretary of State talked for a while about the principles and philosophy of education. He suggested that people move into and out of education and back again, and that there was a continuing process. He said that that was extremely beneficial. If he is to adhere to that approach, there should be serious consideration of a measure that will attract masses of representations.

When we deal with education, there will always be many outside with backgrounds in education who will send briefs and write letters to us. They will wish to acquaint us with their views, and they tend to be among the most articulate members of our society. They have many important ideas to present and consideration of education Bills is better when dialectical debate and argument can take place. The outcome is improved understanding.

I doubt whether the Secretary of State fully appreciates what the principles of education should involve from the perspective of democratic socialism, to which I adhere. We should look for three main elements, one of which is individual self-fulfilment. That enables individuals to move into and out of vocational and non-vocational education, for example, to pick up what is beneficial to them at different stages of life. Education is a continuing process, and students and teachers should see themselves as studying together. Are we really producing legislation that will point us in that direction? Given time, could not enough amendments be tabled for us to improve the Bill?

Secondly, education should supply skills that the population in general can use if we are to become a modern, technologically advanced society, with the social requirements that go with that. Specific skills may be involved in some instances, but they should operate, and be controlled, within the general pattern of developing a bright population, who are given an opportunity to study the subjects that grab them.

Mr. Haynes

My hon. Friend has given this matter real consideration. I know the contribution that he has made to the education system over many, many years.

The population of this nation are now living far longer. Many of my constituents who have retired and are now on pensions wish to educate themselves further, and that is something that we should address on the Floor of the House and in Committee. Conservative Members are not bothered; they are pushing the Bill through like nobody's business. I give credit to the hon. Members who have spoken against the Bill tonight: they are being honest with themselves, and with their constituents.

We shall need time for a proper debate in Committee. In tonight's debate, I have heard no mention of the group of elderly people in our nation who wish to educate themselves further. Some, indeed, would want to enter higher education if they were able to do so. This lot are stopping even that happening, let alone stopping us having an opportunity to debate the Bill properly by tabling this damned timetable motion.

Mr. Barnes

There is a widespread movement in favour of a "university of the third age" for people over 50 who have organised themselves and formed a link with educational institutions. Increasing numbers of retired people will want to develop skills and make use of abilities that have been acquired over a lifetime. We should be able to discuss such matters properly and fully in Committee.

If the Opposition table amendments in Committee, how much time will we have to deal with them? Some items may tie in with part II of the Bill, which deals with higher education; but, as only 20 per cent. of the available time has been devoted to the subject, we may not be able to deal with it adequately.

My third point about the importance of further and higher education relates to the skills that can be developed to allow democratic participation in society. Education is not just for individuals; it does not simply mean that someone is producing something that is economically worth while for the rest of us. It is important because of its collective, participatory, sharing nature. Measures that seek to undermine democratic moves and controls, and the role of local education authorities, seem to me entirely contrary to the spirit of education philosophy. The Secretary of State put his toe in the water on that issue, but he has not sought to develop it. We need much more time to discuss these serious matters before the Bill goes into Committee.

12.54 am
Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

This is the second time in two weeks that the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the Leader of the House have sought to guillotine education Bills. The Government have no mandate for either Bill and there has been little enthusiasm for either, even from Conservative Members. Indeed, in some respects, there has been extensive Conservative opposition to both Bills. The hon. Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) stated his opposition in uncompromising terms, saying that the Bill "stinks" and that he has no intention of voting for it or for the guillotine motion. That view was reflected in the speeches of many of his hon. Friends. It is my belief that if there were an opportunity for Conservative Members to vote on the Bill according to their judgment, rather than according to their Whips, the Secretary of State would barely have a majority on his side, let alone in the House as a whole, for the Bill.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) said in his fine speech, democracy is about giving rights to those with whom one disagrees. Democracy is about the rights of minorities, as well as of majorities. Democracy withers if the House fails to give a proper opportunity to speak to those who disagree with those who are in power.

The guillotine means that there will be a wholly inadequate opportunity to examine the Bill in Committee and to improve its terms. It is no good the Secretary of State or the Minister of State saying that the Opposition have agreed to the timetable within the overall framework of the guillotine for the allocation of time between clauses. That is correct, but the Secretary of State and the Minister will also confirm that the last thing to which we agreed was this guillotine. They know that very well, and they also know that, if they had sought our agreement to the guillotine, we should never have agreed to one covering five consecutive sittings, spread over two weeks.

Another reason why the measure is unnecessary is that the Minister of State and the Secretary of State have every reason to know that, on every education Bill on which I have served, apart from the very long Education Reform Bill at the beginning of this Parliament, there has been agreement between Opposition and Government about a voluntary timetable for getting Bills out of Committee. If the Government had come to us, there is no reason on earth why we would not have agreed to such a timetable on this Bill.

Another reason why the Bill should be given more time is to give the Secretary of State the time to visit one or two sixth form colleges and further education colleges to find out about the nature of the services that they offer, their relationships with the local authorities and why, contrary to what he thinks, there is extensive opposition to a centralised takeover of further education.

Mr. Eggar

indicated dissent.

Mr. Straw

The Minister of State shakes his head. As at 24 July, the Secretary of State had visited only one further education college and one sixth form college throughout his period in office. There is a—[Interruption.] Well, there is a further education college slap bang in the middle of the Secretary of State's constituency. It is called the South Nottinghamshire further education college. How many times has the Secretary of State visited that college?

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I have not been there since I have been Secretary of State, but I have visited it and know it well. I visited a sixth form college last Friday. The hon. Gentleman, who has no education policy and little view on most of the Bills that we consider, scratches around in the statistics of my visits. I visited a sixth form college last Friday and another one before Christmas. A poll of principals shows that 62 per cent. agree with us, with only 21 per cent. agreeing with the hon. Gentleman. Having no policy and no clear views of what the Labour party would do, the hon. Gentleman would obviously spend his time as Secretary of State—if he ever got to that office—swanning around, doing photo-calls, visiting schools and colleges all over the country. We have a job of work to do. All the polls show that the Bill is supported by the principals of the colleges, which are regularly visited by me and by the remainder of my team of Ministers.

Mr. Straw


Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman has given way and he ought to take a little time while I respond, as he invited me to do, to think about what he is going to say about the guillotine motion and the contents of the Bill.

Mr. Straw

The Secretary of State admits that he has not bothered to visit the further education college in his constituency at any time since he became Secretary of State. I will tell him something else. The college in his constituency has no recollection of his having made a visit at any time in the past four years. Indeed, some people cannot remember a visit in the past 10 years.

If the Secretary of State criticises me for visiting schools and colleges, it is a criticism that he should also level at his predecessors, both the right hon. Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor), who is now Lord President of the Council, and the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker). To do them justice, they went out to find out what was happening in the education service. The reason why the Secretary of State has made so many errors in education policy, which will damage the Conservative party grievously at the election, is that he does not understand what goes on in the education service—

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Straw

No, the Secretary of State will have his time to reply.

Mr. Clarke


Mr. Straw

Sit down.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)


Mr. Straw

The Secretary of State does not understand the education service. He does not visit it. He takes no notice of it. That is how he blundered into the privatisation of the inspectorate and into dismembering the adult education service. It is also why he is creating a binary divide between further education colleges and sixth form colleges and other sixth form provision at precisely the time that he is adopting Labour party policy to end the binary system in higher education.

In his reply to the Second Reading debate, the Minister of State came out with some puerile nonsense about east European regimes. One of the characteristics of such regimes was that they had weak local authorities and authoritarian central Governments. That sounds to me like a description of this Conservative Administration and where it would like to go. It is also a description of the way in which the Government operate in the dying days of this Administration before the election.

The House knows that there will be inadequate opportunity to debate the detail of the measures on further and adult education within the terms of the guillotine. The only reason that the Government seek to force the guillotine through is the imminence of the general election, which at last the Prime Minister may have the guts to call by 9 April. The Bill and the guillotine will be one more reason why the Government will be defeated whenever the election comes.

1.2 am

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

As everyone has expressed personal views about procedure, may I say that I am not a great supporter of guillotine motions. I do not go so far as my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Mr. Allason), who said that he was always against them. They are undoubtedly required by all Governments to get essential business through. Personally I am not in favour of timetabling all Bills on all occasions. I have considerable sympathy with the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Malins) and by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), who expressed reservations about the sudden rush to reform our procedures.

However, I realise that there are cases in which the timetabling of a Committee's proceedings in due course enables every part of the Bill to be debated at adequate length. Like the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent, I find myself from time to time speaking on guillotine motions, although I have never rivalled his record of moving five guillotine motions in a day, as he did when he was Leader of the House.

On some occasions guillotine motions have to be tabled and sometimes they are fiercely contested. As someone who is not keen on guillotine motions, I have found myself replying to two debates on guillotine motions recently. One was on the Education (Schools) Bill, with which the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) dealt at some length. The other is on the Further and Higher Education Bill this evening. They are among the least fiercely contested guillotines that I can remember, and both arose in rather curious circumstances—almost by accident.

Last week we were dealing in a day with the Report and Third Reading of the Education (Schools) Bill for which the Opposition had asked for only one day. It became clear during the course of the evening that some Opposition Members were filibustering but others were not. The Opposition Front Bench appeared to veer round during the evening. It also became clear that the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen did not know why they were filibustering. The result was that we moved a guillotine motion at 10 o'clock in the evening to get back to some sensible discussion and spent two days in the House dealing with the matter compared with the one day which the Opposition had previously asked for.

Today's situation is rather unusual, but it is clear that, with the generous timetable that has been laid down, we can have a more ordered discussion in Committee than we might otherwise have had.

We all know the background. This Parliament has a limited amount of time to run. That has been spotted by the Opposition, who took the unusual step of advertising the fact in The Times Higher Educational Supplement. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) made it clear that the Opposition's intention was that, because of the imminence of the general election, the higher education provisions of the Bill—supported by his party—were on offer, and could be got through. He also made it clear that the further education parts of the Bill would be filibustered for as long as was necessary to ensure that they did not get through. I cannot think of a clearer invitation—to save everybody from a great deal of wasted time in Committee, debating the sittings motion and initial clauses—to have a timetable motion to allow some orderly debate.

Mr. Fatchett

If the Secretary of State reads my comments in that report, he will see that there is no mention of filibustering on our part. As we said in the debate, we accept the principle of the higher education provisions and we want to debate the further education provisions. There is room for extensive debate on the latter. The Secretary of State seems to be suggesting that, if Members object to any of his provisions, they simply do not have the right to debate them.

Mr. Clarke

I agree that the word "filibuster" was not used by the hon. Gentleman. When I filibustered in opposition, I never described it as filibustering, certainly not in advance of the start of the debate.

In the supplement the hon. Member for Leeds, Central made a noble offer. He said: We would do all we could to facilitate the dropping of FE clauses, subject to certain objectives concerning quality control and academic freedom in higher education.

I have to warn the Opposition and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends who will be serving on the Committee that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has provided a most generous allocation of time. Indeed, it is a staggeringly generous allocation of time, which I confidently predict that the Opposition will have considerable difficulty in filling, because they agree with half the Bill. They are not opposed to the higher education part of the Bill. It is no wonder that they have asked that 80 per cent. of the time should be devoted to the first 14 clauses because they have scarcely made a speech all day about the remaining clauses, which do not concern many hon. Members.

For example, the Opposition have had difficulty in sustaining the debate on the guillotine motion. The hon. Member for Knowsley, South did his duty. He has been speaking frequently on these occasions. He spoke at great length on the Education (Schools) Bill last week. He read an out-of-date brief from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. He got the wrong clause of the Bill—he was using the clause before it was amended in the House of Lords, which, in my experience, falls prey to lobbies easily. But no one there read out the brief—or certainly not an out-of-date brief. That is now clause 68.

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals' amendment has been accepted. As far as I am aware, it drafted the clause. When I spoke on Second Reading I said that we would not try to reverse it, and that battle is long over. It occupied 15 minutes of the guillotine debate, which was interesting for the record and for future historians, but it did not seem to show that there is a huge number of issues to be debated seriously.

Hon. Members will see from the Order Paper that the debate in Committee will be open-ended for the first four days. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) leapt up to say that, of course, the Government Whip could bring the debate to an end at any time. He would be horrified if I told him that the Government Whip would not do so but would give the Opposition four all-night sittings. They would never be able to sustain that.

I agree that serious issues have been raised about adult education, in particular, and community colleges, which were adverted to by my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr), the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) and others. I spoke about adult education on Second Reading, and I would be out of order if I were to dilate on our case now. We have not altered the policy on adult education. We have not altered the legal duties of local authorities towards the courses described, and we are not threatening their source of money. Nevertheless, I accept that serious points must be made.

However, I could not accept the seriousness of the oddest point, which was raised by the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright). He appeared to believe that all our proposals were something to do with saving money. We are certainly not expanding the provision for further and higher education in anticipation that the cost of that provision will drop.

The powers of the further education funding council and the methods by which it will be possible for community colleges to go first to a further education college and then, perhaps, to that council to look for funds are covered in the initial part of the Bill. The Opposition have, with respect, been sensible in asking that the one knife that is included in the guillotine motion falls where it does.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harborough remains opposed to the Bill. I hope that our Committee discussions will persuade him because four days will be available for debate on clauses 1 to 14 and schedule 2, which establish the new framework. Therefore, there will be plenty of opportunity for amendments to be tabled and considered on the main clauses concerning the structure of adult education—clauses 3, 5, 6(5), and 11 and schedule 2. The first to the eighth sittings of the Committee are open ended.

Sir John Farr

I realise the opportunity that exists, but it can be of no interest to me unless my right hon. and learned Friend can give me an undertaking that I am likely to be selected to serve on the Committee. I have heard from the usual channels that that is unlikely.

Mr. Clarke

That is not within my gift. I am sure that my hon. Friend's comment has been noted, but, before he volunteers, I should point out to him the amount of time that will be taken up on the Committee. Were all the time described in the motion to be occupied, the members of the Standing Committee would be droping exhausted from the tedium of the repetition of important arguments that we have covered over many hours today.

This is a sensible way to proceed for the reasons that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House gave. We have our divisions of opinion on the Bill, but they are not as wide as people claim. We are totally agreed on higher education, and hon. Members on both sides of the House want to expand further education. No hon. Member wants to do any damage to adult education, of which we are all in favour. We are arguing about whether it is right to take further education colleges and sixth form colleges out of local government control.

Given the management of the change and the expansion that I have already described, delay can be damaging. The worst thing that can happen to the institutions, which we are all purporting to support, would be another 12 months of uncertainty, delay, doubt and political debate. The House must debate the issues in a reasonable time, but we simply cannot afford to drag out the debate for ever because it will have an debilitating effect on the institutions.

For reasons of good policy, and in the interests of the education service, for which we have all expressed our support, we should proceed with the Bill with reasonable expedition. The guillotine is generous. It arises in curious circumstances and it is nothing like the ferociously fought guillotines of the past when they right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent really got worked up on the subject, either in support of or in opposition to the guillotine—depending on from which side of the House he spoke. I therefore suggest that the House gives a reasonably peaceful approval to this sensible guillotine motion.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 269, Noes 182.

Division No. 78] [1.13 am
Aitken, Jonathan Currie, Mrs Edwina
Alexander, Richard Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Davis, David (Boothferry)
Allason, Rupert Day, Stephen
Amess, David Devlin, Tim
Amos, Alan Dickens, Geoffrey
Arbuthnot, James Dicks, Terry
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Dorrell, Stephen
Arnold, Sir Thomas Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Ashby, David Dover, Den
Aspinwall, Jack Dunn, Bob
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Durant, Sir Anthony
Baldry, Tony Dykes, Hugh
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Eggar, Tim
Batiste, Spencer Emery, Sir Peter
Bellingham, Henry Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Bendall, Vivian Evennett, David
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fallon, Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fenner, Dame Peggy
Blackburn, Dr John G. Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Body, Sir Richard Fishburn, John Dudley
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fookes, Dame Janet
Boscawen, Hon Robert Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Boswell, Tim Forth, Eric
Bottomley, Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fox, Sir Marcus
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Franks, Cecil
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Freeman, Roger
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes French, Douglas
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gale, Roger
Brazier, Julian Gardiner, Sir George
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gill, Christopher
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Buck, Sir Antony Goodhart, Sir Philip
Budgen, Nicholas Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Burns, Simon Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Burt, Alistair Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butler, Chris Gorst, John
Butterfill, John Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carrington, Matthew Gregory, Conal
Carttiss, Michael Grist, Ian
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Ground, Patrick
Chapman, Sydney Hague, William
Chope, Christopher Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hampson, Dr Keith
Colvin, Michael Hanley, Jeremy
Conway, Derek Hannam, Sir John
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Cormack, Patrick Harris, David
Cran, James Haselhurst, Alan
Hayes, Jerry Patten, Rt Hon John
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Groffrey
Hayward, Robert Pawsey, James
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Porter, David (Wavaeney)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Portillo, Michael
Hill, James Powell, William (Corby)
Hind, Kenneth Price, Sir David
Hordern, Sir Peter Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Redwood, John
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Riddick, Graham
Hunt, Rt Hon David Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hunter, Andrew Roe, Mrs Marion
Irvine, Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jack, Michael Rost, Peter
Jackson, Robert Rowe, Andrew
Janman, Tim Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Jessel, Toby Sackville, Hon Tom
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Sayeed, Jonathan
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Key, Robert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Shelton, Sir William
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Kirkhope, Timothy Shersby, Michael
Knapman, Roger Sims, Roger
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Knox, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Soames, Hon Nicholas
Latham, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Squire, Robin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stanbrook, Ivor
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Steen, Anthony
Lord, Michael Stern, Michael
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Stevens, Lewis
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Steward, Andy (Sherwood)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stokes, Sir John
Maclean, David Sumberg, David
McLoughlin, Patrick Summerson, Hugo
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Tapsell, Sir Peter
Madel, David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mans, Keith Taylor, Sir Teddy
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Thompson, Sir D. (Calder Vly)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maude, Hon Francis Thornton, Malcolm
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Tracey, Richard
Meyer, Sir Anthony Tredinnick, David
Miller, Sir Hal Twinn, Dr Ian
Mills, Iain Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Viggers, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Moate, Roger Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Monro, Sir Hector Walden, George
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Morrison, Sir Charles Waller, Gary
Moss, Malcolm Ward, John
Moynihan, Hon Colin Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Neale, Sir Gerrard Warren, Kenneth
Nelson, Anthony Watts, John
Neubert, Sir Michael Wheeler, Sir John
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Whitney, Ray
Nicholls, Patrick Widdecombe, Ann
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Wiggin, Jerry
Norris, Steve Wilkinson, John
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Wilshire, David
Oppenheim, Phillip Winterton, Mrs Ann
Page, Richard Winterton, Nicholas
Patnick, Irvine Wolfson, Mark
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Wood, Timothy
Yeo, Tim Tellers for the Ayes:
Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. David Lightbown and
Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. John M. Taylor.
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Gould, Bryan
Allen, Graham Graham, Thomas
Alton, David Griffiths Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Anderson, Donald Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Grocott, Bruce
Armstrong, Hilary Hain, Peter
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Hardy, Peter
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Harman, Ms Harriet
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Barron, Kevin Haynes, Frank
Battle, John Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Beckett, Margaret Hinchliffe, David
Beggs, Roy Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Bell, Stuart Hood, Jimmy
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Benton, Joseph Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)
Bermingham, Gerald Hoyle, Doug
Blair, Tony Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Blunkett, David Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Boateng, Paul Ingram, Adam
Boyes, Roland Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bradley, Keith Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Kilfoyle, Peter
Caborn, Richard Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Callaghan, Jim Leadbitter, Ted
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Leighton, Ron
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Carr, Michael Lewis, Terry
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Litherland, Robert
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Livingstone, Ken
Clelland, David Livsey, Richard
Cohen, Harry Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Loyden, Eddie
Corbett, Robin McAllion, John
Cousins, Jim McAvoy, Thomas
Crowther, Stan McCartney, Ian
Cryer, Bob Macdonald, Calum A.
Cummings, John McFall, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dalyell, Tam McLeish, Henry
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McMaster, Gordon
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McWilliam, John
Dewar, Donald Madden, Max
Dixon, Don Mahon, Mrs Alice
Dobson, Frank Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Doran, Frank Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dunnachie, Jimmy Martlew, Eric
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Maxton, John
Eadie, Alexander Meacher, Michael
Eastham, Ken Michael, Alun
Edwards, Huw Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Enright, Derek Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morgan, Rhodri
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Morley, Elliot
Farr, Sir John Murphy, Paul
Fatchett, Derek Nellist, Dave
Fearn, Ronald O'Brien, William
Fisher, Mark O'Hara, Edward
Flannery, Martin Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Flynn, Paul Patchett, Terry
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Pendry, Tom
Foster, Derek Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Foulkes, George Prescott, John
Fraser, John Primarolo, Dawn
Fyfe, Maria Randall, Stuart
Galloway, George Redmond, Martin
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Reid, Dr John
Godman, Dr Norman A. Robertson, George
Golding, Mrs Llin Robinson, Geoffrey
Gordon, Mildred Rogers, Allan
Rooney, Terence Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Rowlands, Ted Turner, Dennis
Ruddock, Joan Vaz, Keith
Sedgemore, Brian Walley, Joan
Sheerman, Barry Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Short, Clare Wigley, Dafydd
Skinner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury) Wilson, Brian
Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Soley, Clive Worthington, Tony
Spearing, Nigel Wray, Jimmy
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Young, David (Bolton SE)
Steinberg, Gerry
Stott, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Strang, Gavin Mr. Eric Illsley and
Straw, Jack Mr. Robert N. Wareing.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:—

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