HC Deb 30 January 1992 vol 202 cc1140-85

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [29 January] proposed on consideration of the Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), That the clause (Additional provisions with regard to inspection teams) be read a Second time— '( ).—(1) The Chief Inspector may determine that a person who has completed a course of training in accordance with paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 is in need of supervision, induction or probation and he shall maintain a list (the "Conditionally Approved List") of the names of such persons.

(2) Without prejudice to the power of the chief Inspector to register a person subject to conditions under subsection 10(5)(c), the Chief Inspector may in particular impose conditions which determine the circumstances in which a person whose name is entered on the list maintained under subsection (1) may be a member of an inspection team for the purposes of Schedule 2.'.—[Ms. Armstrong.]

Question again proposed.

7.34 pm
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

I remind the House that we are also considering the following amendments: No. 62, in clause 10, page 6, line 32, at end insert— '(6A) Nothing in this section is to be taken as preventing the Chief Inspector from imposing conditions under subsection (5)(c) which determine the eligibility of persons acting as a member of an inspection team assisting the registered inspector in conducting an inspection in addition to the provisions regarding such eligibility mentioned in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of Schedule 2 to this Act.'.

No. 10, in schedule 2, page 19, line 17, at end insert—

  1. '5A.—(1) The Chief Inspector shall not admit to a course provided or arranged under paragraph 4(1) or 5(1) any person, not being a registered inspector, who in his opinion is not a fit or proper person for the purpose of carrying out an inspection.
  2. (2)Any person admitted to a course provided or arranged under paragraph 4(1) or 5(1) shall be excluded from it if, in the opinion of the Chief Inspector, he is unlikely to qualify for a certificate under sub-paragraph (3).
  3. (3) Any person who has completed a course provided or arranged under paragraph 4(1) and 5(1) and who, in the opinion of the Chief Inspector, is adequately trained for the purpose of carrying out inspections under this Act, shall receive a certificate to this effect.
  4. (4) No person shall carry out an inspection under this Act unless he has received a certificate under sub-paragraph (3).'.

Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

Before I was rudely interrupted 21 hours ago, I was trying to conclude my comments on new clause 6, referring particularly to the excellent arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Knowlsey, South (Mr. O'Hara). He raised five points which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science will no doubt answer.

My hon. Friend spoke of the process of selecting inspectors, the training of registered inspectors, the cascading of training, not only to team leaders, but to other members of the team, the breadth and skills of the inspection team and the finance and support for training. Those points all relate to standards and ensuring not only that we have high standard inspection teams, but that the standards are regular and consistent across the whole education system.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science spoke earlier of what he called the West Sussex question. I note that when he raised that question he soon dropped it and failed to answer it. He does not seem to have done too well on the standard assessment test at that stage. The West Sussex question is crucial because it is about how a local authority, providing good quality inspection, can maintain its system. That does not relate only to West Sussex, but to many other parts of the country.

The Government's proposed system lacks two essential features. The first is a guarantee about the standards of inspectors and inspection; the second is any system of management to follow up that process of inspection.

The hon. Members for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) and for Crawley (Mr. Soames) made powerful arguments against the Bill and its proposals. It is clear that the Bill has little support among Conservatives in shire counties with responsibility for education. It is also true that the Bill has little support among Conservative Back Benchers. We saw that yesterday, as few of them were prepared to speak in the debate to support Ministers.

The Government are isolated on the issue because there is no guarantee of quality or standards. At a time when we know from HMI's annual report that about one third of children are having a raw deal from the education system, it is necessary to have an inspection system that guarantees high and consistent standards. That is why we tabled new clause 6. I hope that the Minister will answer the question how we are to ensure that standard and consistency of inspection.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

I shall speak on this important matter as I have often been the subject of inspection by Her Majesty's inspectors and have in my family someone who has been a distinguished inspector of schools, universities, and other branches of higher and further education for almost 40 years. I am therefore close to the work of Her Majesty's inspectors throughout their long history.

As I listened to the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), I could not understand why the standards so well set by Her Majesty's inspectors could not continue under the device established by the Bill. I think that it is reasonable to assume that the inspection teams will comprise people with gumption who have a proper understanding of how schools operate, the tasks that teachers face, how schools respond to educational and curriculum challenges, as well as the challenges posed by the locality in which they operate.

If we cannot assume that the teams established as a result of the Bill cannot respond to the demands placed on them, which I have partly described, we might as well pack up. I do not see why the devices set out in the Bill—linking members of Her Majesty's inspectors to the new teams to show them the way, and train and assist them in their tasks—should not work. There is no reason why the teams established by the Bill should not improve considerably with time because they will work so hard and so consistently.

The team members will not have to work partly in schools, partly in offices, partly in Whitehall and partly in other parts of the country as Her Majesty's inspectors have always had to and still do. Instead, they will be on the job most of the time, which of itself will ensure that the teams achieve continually improving standards. That will provide the sort of guarantee that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central said was not in the Bill.

The fact that they are doing the job, and were prepared to do it when they began, will ensure continuity and guarantee consistency. It will also guarantee that parents and schools have the sort of information that such inspections should produce and to which the public are entitled. So the pessimism of the hon. Member for Leeds, Central is misplaced.

It is wrong to think that only professional experts in school matters can be inspectors. Historically, that is not the case. Some of the greatest headmasters and headmistresses have come from outside the profession. We in the profession did not like it when, for example, Dame Margaret Miles was appointed by the inner London education authority as headmistress of Mayfields school. We thought that she could not possibly do the job, not having been a teacher. In the event, though having come from outside, she proved a most successful head, ILEA having made a good appointment in that case.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield. Hillsborough)

The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed many matters concerning education over 10 years as members of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts. I am staggered by what he has said and feel sure that, if he and I were still teaching—we taught for many years—he would be one of the first to object to what is proposed by the Government in the Bill. Schools will be advertising for teams to inspect them. I suppose that, if a team produces a good report, it will be hired again. Perhaps one group of inspectors will prove cheaper to employ than another. Having been a teacher for so many years, I cannot understand how the hon. Gentleman can agree with what is proposed, because it is alien to everything educational. It introduces the market place in the classroom.

Mr. Greenway

I do not see it that way. Why should schools opt for the shoddy and unsatisfactory? I assure the hon. Gentleman, with whom I have discussed education in all its aspects over the years, that I would have been happy for school heads to be elected by teachers, rather than appointed by governors. I cannot imagine teachers employing a head who was soft or who could not do the job. After all, as a teacher, one would suffer greatly if one appointed a head who was not up to the task.

Despite our resistance to the appointment of Dame Margaret Miles—I can recall others, but I will not go into that now—she came from outside the profession and became a very good head indeed. There was no point in our complaining that she had not been in the classroom prior to being appointed. As I say, she turned out to be a successful head.

People who have not taught or worked in schools in the way that we have can still know what schools are about and what standards should be achieved. We shall not have ridiculous people appointed to teams. If people are appointed who cannot do the job, they will not survive as team members, so I have confidence in the device proposed by the Bill. Although the hon. Member for Leeds, Central spoke with integrity, his comments were misplaced. It is a pity to challenge in advance the teams who will do the job. They have every chance of being satisfactory and making an increasingly valuable contribution to our schools.

The fact that schools will be inspected once every four years—instead of once every 200 years, as has notionally been the case hitherto—represents an improvement. In any event, we no longer want the sort of school inspections that in my experience, used to take place, with lofty HMI teams coming in, not making proper contact with teachers and filling everyone with dread. That type of inspection was not of the highest value. The inspectors did not get through to the needs of the teachers and the problems of the children. While they may have understood the needs, they did not communicate adequately with teachers in the most helpful ways. For all those reasons, I support the Bill's inspection proposals, which are sound and should be given every opportunity to work.

7.45 pm
Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

I was a teacher for 20 years. I taught under Conservative local authorities in Surrey and the old West Riding, and latterly under a Labour-controlled authority in Wakefield metropolitan district. In all three authorities I found the inspection service thoroughly satisfactory and extremely helpful. That goes for the local authority service and the essential back-up of HMI.

I have the highest regard for the HMI, which is composed of men and women of integrity, perspicacity and, above all, honesty. I have never shared the fears of HMI that some have expressed. On several occasions, I collaborated with the inspectors because I found them totally helpful and constructive. When pursuing what might be described as something of a wild educational idea, they would put it down quite rapidly and were good at pointing out the error of one's ways, but doing so in a positive way.

So I greatly regret the passing of the inspectorate. Indeed, I cannot understand how the Government could have got themselves into the position of heedlessly throwing away a jewel in the educational crown. I could not understand it until I looked into the backgrounds of the three Ministers responsible. I discovered that they have in common something that may make them antipathetic towards local education authorities. They all went to schools which were members of the Headmasters' Conference.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) went to Epsom college, of which I have fond memories, because there was a strong Young Socialist group there who campaigned to get me appointed to the local council in Epsom. Alas, the group was not entirely successful, and I should make it clear that the Under-Secretary was not a member of that Young Socialist group at that time. The college motto is "Deo non fortuna", which may be translated roughly as, "My God, you must help us because nothing else will." That is precisely what the Ministers concerned must be saying about this measure.

The Minister of State, the hon. Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Eggar), went to Winchester. "Manners makyth man" is the motto there, and we know some of the strange men whom Winchester has produced. We need not now go into the eccentric views of life that some of them have. Nothing they do bears any relationship to their experience of Her Majesty's inspectorate.

The Secretary of State attended Nottingham high school, "Lauda finem" being its motto, a good translation of which might be, "Thank God it's finished." That is precisely what the Secretary of State has been saying constantly—that he wants discussion of the Bill over and out of the way. He wants no argument or discussion. That is a disgraceful aim, because the antipathy to LEAs is destroying a valuable asset.

I accept that some LEAs are stronger than others, just as some areas of the country are richer than others. It is one of the laws of life that some are bound to be better than others; they cannot all be exactly the same. By and large, however—under both Labour and Conservative control—authorities try to do a good job, and are able to keep their feet on the ground. That is why the advisory and inspection services have been so valuable at the lower level.

I do not shrink from the Secretary of State's sneers about the local inspectorate. Of course some inspectors and advisers will not be as strong as others, but, on the whole, they have proved to be well qualified for their tasks. Before appointing them, we have looked for the qualities that will help to raise education standards.

The old West Riding education committee was Conservative-controlled. That doughty lady, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, is a great supporter of the Conservative party, and in her day was a leading light of that party in Yorkshire. Under her leadership, the inspection and advisory service flourished: it proved helpful in many ways, and was always available not only to give advice about school subjects, but to engage in troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting was certainly required—especially when that great Conservative-controlled education committee was setting up comprehensives, which it did so successfully. The Secretary of State said earlier that he wondered why Labour opposed league tables. I am not worried about proper league tables; if the Secretary of State wants to be put in one, he should compare the school that he attended with those attended by his junior Ministers. I suppose that, in comparison with Epsom and Winchester, his school is in division 4, northern selection. A school will prove itself within a community—good or bad.

When I was helping to set up a new comprehensive in Featherstone in my constituency—where I spent the past 12 years teaching—we had to compete with the existing grammar schools. There were eight for pupils to choose from. In the end, the pupils voted with their feet; not because we had published spurious league tables, but because the local community knew that we were damned good, and that their children would be treated better in a comprehensive school than they would have been in the old grammar schools.

That was largely because grammar schools were very suspicious of inspectors: they did not like to let them in. What happened under the streaming on which the Secretary of State is so keen? The A stream did all right; half the B stream did okay; the C stream was often consigned to the dustbin. And we are talking about the top 15 per cent.—the ones who were chosen.

Time and again, inspectors and advisers said that grammar schools would have to change their ways, because they were destroying people. The grammar schools took no notice. In the comprehensive system, we did take notice: we considered a mixture of setting and banding. It was the local advisers who helped us to set up that system, which sent far more people to university than the previous arrangements.

My real worry about the inspectorate is this. Three Ministers will be putting a political complexion on what the inspectors do—and that worries me, because the inspectors are directly accountable to the Ministers; they are not independent of them. We have already heard enough of Ministers talking about the curriculum, and then finally getting down to the individual syllabus—to the detriment of that syllabus. Certainly, they do not help educationally in any way: I suspect that their knowledge of the workings of education could be contained in a thimble, and a small one at that. It seems that the sole contribution of the other Secretary of State was to deplore the fact that children watched "Neighbours". What a fine intellectual contribution that was.

This is a shoddy Bill. I shall vote against it, and I hope that Conservative Members will have the courage to do the same.

Ms. Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

In Tower Hamlets, we have 21 full-time local education authority inspectors, and one part-time inspector. They were drawn together carefully, and trained to inspect, advise and help school teachers.

What are those inspectors to do? They do not know what the future holds. If money is to be transferred to the schools, will money be available to keep them in place? Should they go into business and try to set themselves up as leaders of inspection teams? They would probably be deemed over-qualified; they would know too much about schools and education.

What training will those teams of inspectors receive? How long will the training last, and what will it cover? What will replace the irreplaceable—experience of teacher training, and experience in schools? As I said yesterday, I am very much afraid that people will set themselves up as inspectors in entirely new businesses, with no guidelines on how to price the job. They will not want to overprice it, so they will go for cheap staff—unqualified staff.

Every adult has some opinion, or prejudice, about education, based either on that person's past education or on what he or she wants for their own children. Those opinions and prejudices often do not stand up to what really happens in a classroom. There is nothing to replace teaching experience and teacher training when it comes to learning what is possible and what is not.

I have a dream. I would like to see the Secretary of State in front of one of the ever-larger classes of east London kids—bright, lively kids. I should like to see him trying to put some of his ideas into effect. He would soon learn a bit more about what is and what is not possible in education.

It is important for teachers to have respect for the inspectorate; otherwise the inspections will be of no value. I do not think that teachers will have respect for the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker—people who are pig-ignorant about education, and who, after a short training course, will start telling teachers what to do. Often, what they tell teachers to do will be neither practical nor possible.

I am worried about the damage that will be done in schools by inexperienced people with little knowledge of education—especially to the most vulnerable teachers. Older teachers are already nervous because, under local management of schools, they are the most expensive. They feel that they are under threat. Younger teachers also feel vulnerable, because they are inexperienced and have not yet built up their confidence. Allowing people with no real knowledge of education, apart from a short inspectors' training course, into schools to criticise teachers, advise them, tell them what to do and report on them will damage a great many of our precious teachers.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Michael Fallon)

We began this debate some hours ago: indeed, the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) has had an extra 24 hours in which to improve on the speech that he began to make last night. In the end, he was reduced to repeating some of the stronger points made by his hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara), which I shall deal with in a moment.

The only serious point that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central tried to make concerned his worries about who would guarantee standards, and who would manage the system. The answer to that is clear. I do not criticise the hon. Gentleman, who did not serve on the Standing Committee, for not having read the Bill. In schedule 2, he will see that HMCI will be the guarantor of standards and will, in effect, be the ultimate manager of the system.

8 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), who knows the education service, did not have those worries. His speech demonstrated great confidence in the system that we are proposing and an open-mindedness about the crucial inclusion of the lay element in inspection that I should have liked to have heard reflected a little more widely in the debate.

The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) implied that the HMCI for England and the HMCI for Wales would be creatures of Government. Whatever other accusations the hon. Gentleman levels against the Bill, I assure him that that will not be the case. They will be independent statutory office holders for the first time, with departments of their own.

The hon. Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) worried about the future of those who are inspecting in the present system, shortly to be the old system. The best guarantee of the future of any inspector, wherever he works, is the knowledge that the Bill will ensure that inspection becomes a growth business. We shall be increasing the number of inspections of our schools. Wherever they are, in whichever LEA, they will all be inspected every four years, to a nationally approved standard, rigorously upheld by HMCI. Any local inspector worth his or her salt should have no fear for his or her future.

Mr. Gordon

Business is the key word. Many of the inspectors do not want to go into business. They do not see themselves as business people, nor education as a business. The HMCI will have to operate, even if he is not a creature of the Government, within the parameters of this bizarre Bill.

Mr. Fallon

Yes, HMCI will operate within the parameters of the Bill, but not to the direct diktat of any Secretary of State, whether Labour or Conservative.

The hon. Member for Knowsley, South, who spoke to the new clause some hours ago, made a speech that was neatly summarised—I do not know why—by the hon. Member for Leeds, Central. All the five points that he raised relate to quality control. He will recall that we spent a great deal of time in Committee discussing the way in which quality control would be exercised over both registered inspectors and their teams. We explained then that the detailed arrangements for securing quality control of school inspection teams will be for HMCI to determine. The Bill supplies a basic framework by making the chief inspector responsible for the registration of inspection team leaders, for the training of them and of potential team members, and for the production of national guidance on the conduct of inspections within which teams will operate. We said quite clearly during the discussion in Committee that it will be for HMCI to decide the basis on which potential team members will be accepted for training, and deemed to have completed the course.

To suggest, as new clause 6 does, that HMCI should also maintain a list of those whom he considers to be "on probation", or in need of special supervision or induction training, and that he may attach conditions to their employment as inspection team members, although well meaning, is yet another attempt by Labour Members to place on the face of the Bill aspects of quality control that are properly for HMCI to determine.

It may well be, as I said in Committee, that HMCI will want to keep a particular eye on certain inspectors who have completed the training. How he does that will be up to him. In an extreme case—if a registered inspector seemed to wish to persist in using an inspector who was not in HMI's view competent—HMCI might impose a condition requiring him not to be employed. Whether he chooses to act in this way will, however, be up to HMCI; it is not for us to prescribe in statute.

The other important safeguard is that it is for the registered inspectors to be confident that those whom they employ are up to the job. The registered inspector knows that his livelihood depends on the quality of the team that he chooses to work with him. If he is successfully to tender for this business, he cannot afford to carry weak or unsuitable team members who will not inspire confidence or help him to win contracts. An incompetent team member might cause him to be struck off the register as no longer able to conduct effective inspections. The registered inspector is best placed to judge on the basis of experience over time, whether a person is able to make a satisfactory contribution to the work of a team.

HMCI will of course see the reports to which team members have contributed, and will join inspections during which they will see team members at work, but this is no substitute for the day-to-day contact which the registered inspector will have with his team or teams. The focus of HMCI's monitoring will of course be the registered inspector himself, as the person responsible for the quality of the inspections that he conducts.

It is also likely that HMCI will, from time to time, advise on the need for updating in particular areas, and will expect both registered inspectors and team members to take advantage of whatever training they recommend in that respect. Here again, the prime responsibility for ensuring that team members are fully competent and continue to up-date their skills and knowledge as necessary will rest with the registered inspector.

The hon. Member for Knowsley, South made the fair point that a registered inspector will always be working with exactly the same team, so I must say a word about that. The registered inspector will have to choose his team according to the inspection task in hand. There will be those who are qualified to inspect in some subjects—I pick ancient Greek at random—who are likely to be working on a far more intermittent basis than those whose specialty is, for example, French.

That does not invalidate the argument that the registered inspector is best placed to judge the competence of a team member. If he finds someone's work unsatisfactory, even on the basis of one inspection, he is likely to be wary of using that person again. Furthermore, that inspector will not find it easy to gain further work if he has not obtained a suitable reference from his previous team leader.

Mr. Eddie O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

The Under-Secretary has slightly misunderstood me. I was talking not about the registered inspector who might have different members of different teams but about the team member who might work for different inspectors on different teams. I spoke about the problems of controlling the quality of the varying team member.

Mr. Fallon

I understand that. As I said, the primary control is with the registered inspector who is leading the team and who must at all times satisfy himself that the team member is competent and efficient. The ultimate control is with HMCI, on whom that crucial registration depends.

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

Two points arise from that. First, if there is a personality clash and the registered inspector feels that a person is not competent, that member of the team could be disadvantaged because of the opinion of one person—the registered inspector. Secondly, if the registered inspector feels that someone is not appropriate to be on his or her team, what procedures are envisaged to inform other registered inspectors of the incompetence of that member of the team?

Mr. Fallon

I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I say that I find his first point somewhat schizophrenic. Most Labour Members have been worrying about whether the competence of the team member will be good enough. Again, it is for the registered inspector to satisfy himself that he is employing competent people.

On the hon. Gentleman's second point, I said that a team member would be unlikely to obtain further work if he was not able to furnish a reference from his previous team leader because that is the first thing for which the other registered inspector to which the hon. Gentleman referred is likely to ask.

I deal now with amendment No. 62. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) is not here. I recognise that he has shifted the content of the amendment from that of a similar amendment that he moved in Committee, but this one suffers from the same disadvantage. If I understand the hon. Gentleman's purpose aright, it is to make it clear that the chief inspector can define the types of qualifications, experience and expertise that team members should have for particular inspection tasks—for example, for examining special units in main-stream schools or specific subject areas or age groups—and that the chief inspector should be able to enforce such guidance by making it part of the conditions under which an inspector is registered.

We made it clear in Committee that the way in which HMCI uses his discretion to set conditions and guidelines will be up to him. We should expect him to include—this may assist the hon. Members for Truro and for Eastbourne (Mr. Bellotti), who is standing in for him—in the national guidelines for the conduct of inspections guidance on the nature of the team required to inspect different types of school and the competences to be expected of team members.

One condition expected to be attached to each inspector's registration is that he and his team should then follow the national guidelines in carrying out inspections. Of course, all will receive training which will be designed to give them a full working knowledge of the guidelines and their implications, and the inspector and his team will then be monitored by HMCI and by the school authorities which employ them to ensure that they observe the guidelines in practice and are competent to offer an accurate report on the school.

Therefore, it is for HMCI to set out the necessary competencies in his conditions and guidance. This is a matter which we are properly leaving up to him. I assure the House that he has all the discretion that he needs to set any of the conditions that he wants. The Bill does not fetter him in any way; so, although the amendment has been refined, it is not necessary.

Amendment No. 10, on the training of inspectors, falls into the same trap as new clause 6 in seeking to set out further rules and conditions within which HMCI must work.

I repeat that no one will be able to serve on an inspection team unless he has completed an approved course of training. It follows that HMCI will want to issue some form of written notification that training has been completed. The details of how that will be managed are for HMCI to determine. If HMCI believed that an applicant was not a fit and proper person to take part in school inspections, he would not allow that person to join a course of training.

Mr. Harry Greenway

Is not it clear that these courses will be extremely rigorous, that they will deal with highly specialised areas and that what my hon. Friend says should be interpreted in that context?

Mr. Fallon

I am happy to confirm that, especially to those who have come only recently to the debate. Schedule 2(4) states that nobody will be involved in an inspection or be able to conduct an inspection of a school in England unless he has completed a course of training provided by the chief inspector or a course of training that complies with arrangements approved by him. I hope that that gives my hon. Friend the assurance of rigour that he seeks.

HMCI can also be expected to ensure that obviously incompetent candidates who get through any initial sift do not complete the course of training. That is simple common sense, and I suggest that there is no need to provide for it in legislation. On that basis, I invite the Opposition to withdraw the new clause.

8.15 pm
Mr. Fatchett

The Under-Secretary accused me of having limited knowledge of the Bill because I have not served on the Committee. He offered that as an apology or an excuse for me. No similar excuse can be made for him. He is the Minister, he introduced the Bill and served on the Committee, but apparently he has very little knowledge of the Bill. I presume that the Government put him on the Committee so that he could not do any further damage to the education system if allowed to run wild in other directions. Certainly it has not improved his knowledge of the Bill.

The Under-Secretary claims that the chief inspector is unfettered in his powers and activities. I remind him that clause 2(5) allows the Secretary of State to give powers of direction to the chief inspector and that he must follow those directions. That does not seem to be an unfettered relationship.

Mr. Fallon

We debated clause 2(5) at some length in Committee. Had the hon. Gentleman been a member of it or had he read the clause a little more closely, he would know that the chief inspector for England does not have to follow the Secretary of State's directions—he must only "have regard" to them. He does not have to comply with the directions issued by the Secretary of State. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will now correct what he said.

Mr. Fatchett

I did not serve on the Committee, but I read the report of the debate, so I remember the exchange between my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) and the Minister of State. Perhaps the Under-Secretary was not present at the time, but if he, understood anything about the legal interpretation of statutes, he would know that "have regard to" is virtually a mandatory obligation on the chief inspector. The chief inspector does not have unfettered powers. He is wholly fettered in that respect.

The Under-Secretary also said that the Bill contained a system of management. I suggest that he reads schedule 2(10) about action plans. He will find that there is no process of management whatsoever after an inspector's report is made on a particular school.

The best summary of the Bill was made not by the Under-Secretary but by my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. O'Hara) last night: the Bill is potentially incestuous. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) was desperately looking for reasons to support it. He asked for some assurance that in the majority of cases the inspectors would be up to the job. The Under-Secretary said, "Yes, in the vast majority of cases." That may be true, but we are concerned about all cases. We want every inspector to be up to the job. We are not satisfied with any other guarantee.

The Bill contains the incestuous ability to maintain low standards and to give people an interest in maintaining low standards. We shall now force a Division on new clause 6. The reason could not be summed up better than by the final comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley, South last night. He gave the example of the advertisement doing the rounds of the inspectors, which says: V. cheapo licensed plumber and HMI schools inspector. All types of schools and drains inspected. Estimates free. Guaranteed customer satisfaction. Very keen prices."— [Official Report, 29 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 1032.] That is why we support new clause 6—we want standards and guarantees of standards.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 143, Noes 229.

Division No. 62] [8.18 pm
Anderson, Donald Armstrong, Hilary
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Livsey, Richard
Ashton, Joe Loyden, Eddie
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) McAvoy, Thomas
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) McCartney, Ian
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) McCrea, Rev William
Battle, John Macdonald, Calum A.
Beckett, Margaret McFall, John
Bell, Stuart McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Bellotti, David McLeish, Henry
Benn, Rt Hon Tony McMaster, Gordon
Benton, Joseph McNamara, Kevin
Bermingham, Gerald Madden, Max
Bidwell, Sydney Maginnis, Ken
Boyes, Roland Mahon, Mrs Alice
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Marek, Dr John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cartwright, John Martlew, Eric
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Meacher, Michael
Cousins, Jim Meale, Alan
Cox, Tom Michael, Alun
Crowther, Stan Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Cryer, Bob Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Cummings, John Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Moonie, Dr Lewis
Darling, Alistair Morgan, Rhodri
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Morley, Elliot
Dewar, Donald Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dixon, Don Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Mowlam, Marjorie
Eastham, Ken Mullin, Chris
Enright, Derek Murphy, Paul
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Nellist, Dave
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fatchett, Derek O'Brien, William
Flannery, Martin O'Hara, Edward
Flynn, Paul Paisley, Rev Ian
Foster, Derek Parry, Robert
Foulkes, George Pendry, Tom
Fraser, John Primarolo, Dawn
Fyte, Maria Quin, Ms Joyce
Galloway, George Redmond, Martin
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Robertson, George
George, Bruce Robinson, Geoffrey
Golding, Mrs Llin Rooney, Terence
Gordon, Mildred Ruddock, Joan
Graham, Thomas Sedgemore, Brian
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Short, Clare
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Skinner, Dennis
Grocott, Bruce Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hain, Peter Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Hardy, Peter Snape, Peter
Harman, Ms Harriet Soley, Clive
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall) Spearing, Nigel
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Steinberg, Gerry
Home Robertson. John Straw, Jack
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Hoyle, Doug Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Illsley, Eric Turner, Dennis
Ingram, Adam Vaz, Keith
Johnston, Sir Russell Wareing, Robert N.
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Kennedy, Charles Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Kilfoyle, Peter Winnick, David
Kirkwood, Archy Wise, Mrs Audrey
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lamond, James Tellers for the Ayes:
Leighton, Ron Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie and
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Mr. Frank Haynes.
Litherland, Robert
Adley, Robert Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Alexander, Richard Arnold, Sir Thomas
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Ashby, David
Amess, David Aspinwall, Jack
Amos, Alan Atkinson, David
Arbuthnot, James Baldry, Tony
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Hawkins, Christopher
Batiste, Spencer Hayes, Jerry
Bendall, Vivian Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Benyon, W. Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Body, Sir Richard Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hind, Kenneth
Boswell, Tim Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Bottomley, Peter Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hunt, Rt Hon David
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Brazier, Julian Irvine, Michael
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Jack, Michael
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Jackson, Robert
Browne, John (Winchester) Janman, Tim
Buck, Sir Antony Jessel, Toby
Budgen, Nicholas Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Burns, Simon Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Burt, Alistair Key, Robert
Butler, Chris Kilfedder, James
Butterfill, John King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Carrington, Matthew King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Cash, William Kirkhope, Timothy
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Knapman, Roger
Chapman, Sydney Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Chope, Christopher Knox, David
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Latham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lightbown, David
Colvin, Michael Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Conway, Derek Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Lord, Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard
Couchman, James Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Cran, James MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Davis, David (Boothferry) MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Devlin, Tim McLoughlin, Patrick
Dicks, Terry McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Dover, Den Madel, David
Durant, Sir Anthony Malins, Humfrey
Dykes, Hugh Mans, Keith
Eggar, Tim Maples, John
Emery, Sir Peter Marlow, Tony
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fallon, Michael Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Farr, Sir John Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Favell, Tony Mates, Michael
Fenner, Dame Peggy Maude, Hon Francis
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Mellor, Rt Hon David
Fishburn, John Dudley Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fookes, Dame Janet Mills, Iain
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Miscampbell, Norman
Forth, Eric Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Freeman, Roger Mitchell, Sir David
French, Douglas Moate, Roger
Fry, Peter Monro, Sir Hector
Gale, Roger Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Gardiner, Sir George Moss, Malcolm
Gill, Christopher Moynihan, Hon Colin
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Neale, Sir Gerrard
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Norris, Steve
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Oppenheim, Phillip
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Paice, James
Gregory, Conal Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Patten, Rt Hon John
Grist, Ian Pawsey, James
Hague, William Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie Porter, David (Waveney)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Powell, William (Corby)
Hanley, Jeremy Price, Sir David
Hannam, Sir John Raffan, Keith
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Redwood, John
Harris, David Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Haselhurst, Alan Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Townend, John (Bridlington)
Roe, Mrs Marion Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rost, Peter Tracey, Richard
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Twinn, Dr Ian
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, David (Dover) Viggers, Peter
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Walker, Bill (Tside North)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Waller, Gary
Shelton, Sir William Walters, Sir Dennis
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Ward, John
Sims, Roger Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Warren, Kenneth
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Watts, John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wells, Bowen
Speller, Tony Wheeler, Sir John
Squire, Robin Whitney, Ray
Steen, Anthony Widdecombe, Ann
Stern, Michael Wiggin, Jerry
Stevens, Lewis Wilkinson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wilshire, David
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian Winterton, Nicholas
Sumberg, David Wolfson, Mark
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Yeo, Tim
Taylor, Sir Teddy Young, Sir George (Acton)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thompson, Sir D. (Calder Vly) Tellers for the Noes:
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Mr. Nicholas Baker and
Thorne, Neil Mr. Irvine Patrick.
Thurnham, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

  1. New clause 7
    1. cc1153-67
  2. New clause 9
    1. cc1167-79
      1. c1168
      2. 'Estimate of expenses 70 words
      3. cc1168-79
      4. 'Accounts 7,551 words, 2 divisions
  3. Clause 9
    1. cc1179-81
  4. Clause 16
    1. c1181
  5. Clause 17
    1. c1181
  6. Clause 18
    1. c1181
    2. INTERPRETATION 58 words
  7. Clauses 20
    1. c1181
    2. EXPENSE 43 words
  8. Clause 21
    1. cc1181-2
  9. Second Schedule—
    1. cc1182-5
    2. SCHOOL INSPECTIONS 274 words
      1. cc1182-5
      2. 'Additional action plans 1,990 words, 1 division
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