HC Deb 30 January 1992 vol 202 cc1095-139

9. 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 Education (Schools) Bill.

The whole House knows that we have a very full programme, involving both Houses and a great deal of work. Irrespective of when the election comes, the Session is bound to be shorter than usual, with no overspill in the autumn.

I have frequently made clear in business questions the difficult balancing act required in managing this Session's business in the House. Hon. Members on both sides press for additional time to debate subjects of great importance. Many days have to be allocated to requirements enjoined upon us by Standing Orders. The Opposition press, understandably, for their rightful allocation of Supply days. I always have to find time to accommodate additional legislation, and I have been trying to find time to enable us to deal with the Friendly Societies Bill.

Throughout the Session, I have tried to balance the requests with the need to get the Government's business through and to ensure that the House has adequate time to consider all legislation. It is my job as Leader of the House to manage business in the interests of the whole House, while at the same time endeavouring to get the legislation through in an orderly manner.

The Education (Schools) Bill had full discussion in Committee over 15 sittings and 36½ hours. In all previous discussions on this week's business, the Opposition, whether through their education spokesmen or through the usual channels, never asked for more than one day on Report and Third Reading, so we had no hint that there was any difficulty until we were well into the proceedings yesterday, when they made it clear that they had reservations. They did not seem to know what concessions they wanted or what their concern was. That is certainly how it seemed. Therefore, it seemed to me that it was in the interests of the whole House to make the change that I made. It allows two full days to complete Report and Third Reading of the Bill instead of one day. I think that that is a generous response.

The timetable motion provides for ordered debate of the Bill and minimises the impact on other business this week and next. I repeat that we have now given two days to the Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill. It is important to proceed without delay to the real matter of debate, which is the substance of the Bill. I hope that the House will deal briefly with the motion and that the whole House can resume the debate, as I believe it wishes.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

I understand that the motion is a simple guillotine motion for a closure of all the remaining new clauses and amendments by 10 o'clock. I am not making any comment on that. Can the Leader of the House give some assurance, both to the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing), who has tabled amendments, and to me that amendments tabled by Back Benchers who are not spokesmen for their parties on these matters have a chance of being debated, and that there has not been a secret carve-up of the time between now and 10 o'clock which excludes the consideration of all the amendments on the amendment paper?

Mr. MacGregor

I am not aware of any carve-up. I am anxious to move straight on to the Bill so that as many amendments as possible can be considered and debated during the rest of the day. That is why I commend the motion to the House.

4.39 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

There was no need for the Leader of the House ever to have made his business statement last night or to have moved the guillotine motion today. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) asked about a carve-up. The Leader of the House is responsible for another phrase ending in "up", but it is not "carve-up".

The origins of the dispute lie first and foremost in the fact that the Government have no mandate for the proposals in the legislation. None of the measures in the Bill was in the Conservative party's election manifesto. Secondly, some of the provisions of the Bill are plainly stupid. It is increasingly clear that even the Secretary of State for Education and Science cannot justify what he is doing in respect of the inspectorate.

Important issues are at stake which affect the future standard and quality of our children's education. It is perfectly legitimate for all Opposition parties—I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey—to want to examine those issues in detail. If the Conservative party had any stomach for the debate and any support for their arguments, the debate could have continued last night and could have been concluded by now. We could have continued with the important business of today and next week.

As some Conservative Members—I absolve the Leader of the House at least of this—have charged us with filibustering, let us examine what we were due to consider yesterday. Thirty-one Government amendments, 44 Labour amendments and some amendments from the Liberal Democrats were tabled. During the debate, 13 Labour Members, nine Conservative Members and one Liberal Member spoke. That was because my hon. Friends moved several new clauses. During that time, there were 53 Labour interventions and 40 Conservative interventions. The longest speech of all was made by the Secretary of State. So any argument about abuse of the time available falls flat on its face. The Secretary of State spoke for almost 40 minutes at one point. Well might he smile about those bogus charges about the Opposition not wanting to get on with the important matters for debate.

Not only were speeches made from the Government Benches but several speeches made by Conservative Members were important criticisms of the provisions of the Bill. I refer to the interventions made by the hon. Members for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) and for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) and the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison). They asked important questions about the implications of the Secretary of State's proposals. The one exception was the patsy type of speech by the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), who smiles at me from a sedentary position.

The Bill confuses the roles of the regulators—the inspectors—with that of the providers of the service—the schools and the teachers—by allowing the latter to pick their own watchdog. That is far too cosy a relationship for Opposition Members to accept, and it is contrary to the flow of argument that we have heard from the Government and their supporters for many years in respect of the Office of Telecommunications, the Office of Water Services, the Office of Electricity Regulation or the National Rivers Authority. Those regulators are all separated from the organisations that they are supposed to scrutinise in the public interest.

Yet we are told in respect of our children's education—as I often say, it is our children's education, not that of Conservative Members' children—that a cosy little relationship should be allowed between the schools and their inspectors. It is rather like mice choosing their own cats. It is a Tom and Jerry type of relationship. There will be cosy little get-togethers among people who want to cuddle up to each other. There is no way that anyone can sustain the argument that that is proper independent scrutiny of important aspects of education. So we make no apology for opposing the measure and wanting to deal in detail with the implications for our schools and children.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

My hon. Friend might be going a little far to suggest that the relationship is a corrupting one, but does he agree that in the eyes of parents and perhaps the general public it might be potentially corrupting of otherwise disinterested professionals?

Dr. Cunningham

My hon. Friend must choose his own words, but I can certainly see the Bill as a recipe for an ineffectual relationship. That is principally why the head teachers themselves do not want the proposals. They have stated clearly that the proposed relationship is not the type that they want to see develop between head teachers, their schools and the inspectorates. Of course, many parents share that view.

The real reason for the timetable motion is nothing to do with proper scrutiny or debate. The Leader of the House is in a panic because of the Government's hidden election timetable. It is all consistent with a general election on 9 April. I hope that that is the case. Even on yesterday's opinion poll result, the Government will be out of office, and the sooner that happens, the better.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science has been confronted in interviews and debates many times, most recently this morning on breakfast television, about the aspect of his legislation that I have described. He has refused to answer directly how he can possibly justify it. I do not suspect that we shall get any more clarity from him about it today. But we shall try.

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

If a school in Lambeth chooses between two inspectors, it chooses between two inspectors who are independent of it and detached from the provider. The Labour alternative is that Lambeth schools should have no choice and should be inspected only by Lambeth council, which runs them. The provider would inspect the provider. The argument used as the basis for the daft filibuster last night does not stand up to a moment's scrutiny.

Dr. Cunningham

Under the Secretary of State's proposals, the inspectors would be paid by the school that they are engaged to inspect. There is a customer-client relationship there. To say that that is a road to independent scrutiny of what is going on in schools is ridiculous. The inspectors will be employed by the school.

As the Secretary of State has unwisely come back to the point about filibustering, I remind him that the longest single speech yesterday was made by him. He is the last on to complain about Labour Members questioning his proposals. In view of what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has just said about the proposal, I refer him to what the hon. Member for Buckingham said yesterday on that very issue: If a school is inspected by this or that type of inspector and receives full marks for its work but does not merit those marks, that will become clear over time and as a result of trial and error."—[Official Report, 29 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 964.]

What the right hon. Gentleman is proposing yet again is more experiments with our children's education; more hitty-missy approaches to the Government's policy dogmas. That is what his hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham believes, and that is what we believe, too.

We intend to put the most searching spotlight on this further ridiculous and unnecessary experimenting with our children's education standards and with their schools, because this is a matter of great interest to the people of this country, and rightly so.

Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

The accusation that we were filibustering yesterday is hardly borne out by what happened on the Government Benches. At one stage, the lack of enthusiasm for this Bill was evidenced on the Tory Back Benches. There was only a part of the Tory Front-Bench team in the Chamber; there was not a single Back Bencher to continue the debate. Hon. Gentlemen went out frantically to drag Back Benchers in from the corridors. They know that what I am saying is abolutely true.

Mr. Cunningham

I agree with my hon. Friend. The reality is that hon. Gentlemen will be in the Lobbies tonight when the votes come, but they demonstrate by their absence now their lack of commitment to the state education system.

The Government have broken the back of the British economy, as evidenced yet again by the Confederation of British Industry report, the Engineering Employers Federation, the building employers and the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. What the Government are about here again is another dogmatic experiment with education in our schools. This legislation ought to be stopped. We will do our best to prevent its getting on the statute book. That is what these debates are all about.

4.55 pm
Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South-West)

I regret that we have to have a guillotine on this important matter. I and, I think, many of my hon. Friends on the Back Benches, prefer it when the Front Benches can reach a voluntary agreement as to how much time we should spend on any particular Bill. However, being faced with a guillotine very much concentrates minds and gives Ministers the chance to reply very specifically to questions from both inside and outside the Chamber.

I did not think that yesterday's debate wandered very much, but it did give rise to one very interesting matter in relation to the inspection of schools, which affects Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. My right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir. T. Raison) said: the county of Buckinghamshire …has produced the highest level of GCE passes of any of the shire counties in England and the second highest of any of the English local authorities."—[Official Report, 29 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 976.]

One of the reasons why Buckinghamshire children have done so well is that so many of them cross over into my constituency in Bedfordshire to take the GCE in two Leighton Buzzard upper schools—Van Dyke and Cedars—both extremely good schools, I congratulate the Government on loosening the rigidity between the local education authorities, which allows young people in Buckinghamshire to cross over and makes Buckinghamshire parents very happy. When the Government are re-elected I hope that, as education develops, they will be able to make it more precise and obvious that the money really follows the pupil.

I know that Buckinghamshire young people will continue to cross the border into Leighton Buzzard for their GCE, so obviously we want to see in Bedfordshire more evidence of the money following the pupil. That is for the next Conservative Government and the next Education Secretary. I merely mention it in passing because a little wandering in the debate did bring in a very important Buckinghamshire-Bedfordshire point.

As I have said, the guillotine concentrates the mind. The moton says: The proceedings on consideration and Third reading of the Bill shall be completed in one allotted day and shall be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock.

One of the reasons why I am glad that we are to get this matter dealt with today is that there appears to be an unclear position with regard to inspection of schools. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, who I am very glad to see in his place, wrote to Dr. R. Morris of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities earlier this month and said in one part of his letter, referring to the local education authorities: They will also be able to go into schools in connection with carrying out their broad statutory duties for the provision of education.

That raises a very interesting point, because parents and friends of schools would like to see the LEAs going in to look at deterioration of the buildings; failure to deliver the national curriculum; very poor examination results; the conduct of a particular teacher; the conduct of the governors and the head; alleged financial mismanagement; failure to provide school leavers with guidance and help towards their future careers or towards getting places in a university or a polytechnic; and failure to investigate parental complaints.

Those are specific points. They are all matters which, in my view, are part of a local education authority's broad statutory duty for the provision of education. I understand that if any or all of those points were raised by a parent or a friend of the school, the education authority would be able to go into the school.

Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

I am listening to the hon. Gentleman with very great care. Is he aware that the Association of County Councils, on which his own county council and Buckinghamshire and many other Conservative county councils are represented—indeed, the association is controlled by the Conservatives—says that the removal of the power to inspect under section 77(3) of the Education Act 1944 will greatly diminish the local authority's ability to intervene in a school that is falling below standard?

Mr. Madel

I am in very close touch with Bedfordshire county council, and the hon. Gentleman is right; it is concerned about this, too. I think that what I will conclude by saying will answer the hon. Gentleman's point.

I do not think that the House of Commons wants to get into an argument about when an inspection is not an inspection. One could play around with the word ad nauseam; then, the next thing that we would be arguing about is the place of the potato in English folklore. We want something very specific, which is why I welcome this specific day for the Bill.

If any of those specific points that I have listed came up, I believe, on the basis of what my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in his letter, that the local education authority could go into the school. It would be carrying out its broad statutory duty for the provision of education. Every one of those specific points refers to the provision of education. I hope that, before 10 o'clock, my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will be able to assure me specifically that what my hon. Friend the Minister of State said in his letter to Dr. Morris would allow local education authorities, if approached by parents or friends of the school, to go into the school to deal with any one of the specific points that I have raised.

4.59 pm
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

I rarely speak or am active on guillotine motions and resulting business arrangements on timing, because in general I have long been in favour of timetabling all Bills from the start. My experience over many years is that Standing Committees and other similar Committees on the Floor of the House, with exceptions that I will come to in a moment, never give Bills the due consideration that they ought to have. One of the reasons why I was in favour of televising the House and Committees was that I thought that it might be a good idea for the public to see Standing Committees, with Ministers doing their mail and others trying to hold up the business.

With regard to the Bill before us today, education is a most important issue and I doubt whether the House, despite the intentions of the few who are actively interested, has looked at the problems that have arisen.

So in general I am in favour of timetabling from the start. I understand the dangers. I understand the problems in hung Parliaments, and all the rest of it. I had the dubious pleasure, after Second Reading, of trying to pilot the House of Lords reform Bill through the House many years ago, when we found that the divisions were on both sides of the House and any idea that one could timetable or guillotine soon went out of the window.

For the reasons that I have given, I am sceptical of the existing system and therefore I rarely speak on such motions. Yesterday afternoon and evening, I sat in the Chamber because I am interested in the subject of the inspectorate. I owe a great deal to my education many years ago, as I come from the background of a Welsh mining village, where a high proportion of us ended up with university degrees—a far higher rate than in many posher, salubrious, suburban areas. I am even more interested these days, not because of my children who are grown up, but because I am interested in special education. All Governments have failed to deal properly with that, despite all their Ministers' words. I question whether the inspectorate is giving it due consideration.

I listened carefully to the debate on the inspectorate yesterday. As the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) will know, last century the inspectorate played an important part in developing Welsh education, not necessarily by visiting each school to give its view, although no doubt that played a part but by creating a philosophy—in the Matthew Arnold sense of the term—for the development of education which, frankly, one does not get from party manifestos. When I read that junior Ministers are interfering with the curriculum, I get worried, because I do not think that they know very much about it. There are times when I think that other people know little about it, but politicians are the last people to pontificate about the curriculum, and I hope that teachers and inspectors are concerned about it.

I sat in on the debate yesterday because of my great interest in the role of the inspectorate and in what will happen if schools and local education authorities, however affluent, pay little attention to special needs. What good can a tied inspectorate do?

I saw no example of filibuster yesterday afternoon and evening. As my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunninghan) said, the Secretary of State spoke for a long time—until about 6 o'clock. If there was any urgency in getting the Bill through, the Secretary of State did not show it. There were many interventions. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), who has a great interest in education, spoke for a long time, as did other hon. Members on both sides of the House. There was something odd about the whole procedure because there was no great urgency. I began to realise that something was very wrong.

The guillotine was not decided at 9.55 pm last night, when the first frisson went through the Government Front Bench and Ministers began to pass around bits of paper and to consult properly, but earlier.

The only reason that I am speaking is that I do not believe that the guillotine motion has anything to do with speeding up the Education (Schools) Bill because time was being wasted. It is being used simply to speed things up for the general election.

If polling day is 9 April, a certain amount of time is needed to get business through the House, and that is all that the guillotine is for. That is what happened last night. Possibly, the delay in the English and Welsh revenue grants is to enable the Government to deal with the problem of poll tax bills which will be plopping through doors shortly.

I am opposed to what is happening and shall readily vote tonight. It is not because I am not interested in timetabling—although it is too late now, as I shall be leaving the House shortly. I hope that one day there will be pre-timetabling in the House, except for important and constitutional Bills. However, this motion is to do with the election. I must tell the Leader of the House that, if the election is to be on 9 April—everyone is planning for it, buying space to advertise and organising; one hears it from sources in the advertising business who know what the Opposition and the Government are doing—then, for the good of the House, for heaven's sake announce the date and let us do business in a sensible fashion during the next six weeks, instead of proceeding in this way and covering up the reality.

We are in an election period and the guillotine motion is for election purposes. It has nothing to do with the inspectorate. What the Government are doing about the inspectorate is extremely foolish and flies in the face of its proud history.

5.4 pm

Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester)

If ever there was a case for the timetabling of Bills, it is the shenanigans over this Bill.

Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)


Mr. Nelson

I believe that that is the case, and the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) was right to call for the timetabling of Bills. I notice that a great many people were nodding when he suggested that, possibly including the hon. Lady, who should not be so argumentative because I am agreeing with him. It is a good idea. I have thought so through five years of opposition and 12 years on the Government side.

The real initiative for timetabling Bills must come from Opposition parties.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)


Mr. Nelson

Because Governments obviously want to timetable their Bills and get their business through as soon as possible. All hon. Members on both sides of the House have an obligation to scrutinise legislation but, understandably, Opposition Members will have more interest in trying to delay it, because if they do not have the votes to defeat the Government, they will try to protract discussion.

Whichever party is in opposition next time, let us try to decide early to timetable more Bills. Let us not have pious words about timetabling Bills every time that there is a debate on a guillotine motion, only to find that nothing happens. The next Opposition party should agree more timetabling of Bills early in the new Parliament, and we should keep to it.

The reason for timetabling is not to satisfy the Government and Opposition Front Benches, but to protect the interests of Back Benchers. We lose out. Our amendments do not get proper consideration on Report or in Committee if there is a timetable motion. Invariably, new clauses will come first in the order of business on Report. Official Government and Opposition motions can crowd out amendments tabled by Back Benchers. There is not adequate opportunity for those of us who feel strongly about aspects of a Bill to raise them.

The answer lies in our own hands. In the next Parliament, let us do something about it, for the sake of Parliament, better legislation and refining legislation more adequately. In the House we serve no one's interests—not the Government's nor those of the people that we seek to represent—by cursory examination of Bills. As a result, hon. Members are left with the option of trying to inveigle their points in an artificial way. Important issues affecting our constituents' schooling and the structure and scrutiny of education are introduced in a wholly artificial and improper manner. The proceedings of the House should not be used for that purpose.

I want a change in the attitude of the Government to guillotines and in the Opposition's attitude towards timetabling. I am worried about the guillotine motion and the extent to which it will inhibit discussion on important matters later. Some of us will be unable to raise matters about which our constituents feel strongly.

Although my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) and my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) mentioned in interventions yesterday a situation in my county of West Sussex which is replicated in many other local authority areas, there should be an opportunity—within order—to raise matters of concern and to obtain assurances from Ministers about them.

I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel) mentioned an important issue which has not received satisfactory answers in Committee, nor is likely to, in what will remain of the Report stage after the guillotine. There is no guarantee that we shall move beyond discussion of new clause 6 and the amendments taken with it. Opposition Members may well decide to make some progress and we may get to new clause 9 and to others further down the list, we cannot be sure about that. As a result, we have no other means of raising important matters.

Labour Members may state that it is the Government's fault for introducing the guillotine. It is not. I should like to have had time to discuss such matters, but the paucity of progress made yesterday, the long speeches and the many amendments which had to be considered left the Government with no option but to move a guillotine motion today. M ore rapid progress could have been made.

I shall not now be able to raise in the debate a subject that is of deep concern to my local education authority in west Sessex. Local education authorities carry out inspections more frequently than the four-year cycle that is likely to be provided in the Bill. I hope that, at the end of the debate on the guillotine motion, it will be clear that more frequent inspections can also be carried out. That view is shared by five other hon. Members from West Sussex as well, and I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) is in his place. Sussex Members and others have received strong representations from the governors and head teachers of numerous schools expressing great concern that inspections should take place only once every four years. In that period, negative and positive changes may take place to effect a school's performance. It is important that more frequent inspections should sometimes be possible in order to give continuing reassurance to parents and local charge payers about the educational and management standards of the school and the cost-effectiveness of the provision.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman seemed to miss an important point when he said that head teachers were worried. The National Association of Head Teachers is with us. It does not want the Bill. We have found almost no teachers' organisations or teachers who want it. They do not understand the Bill; we Labour Members understand it and do not want it. The hon. Gentleman should not leave such issues out.

Mr. Nelson

I was not dealing with that important overall view, which the hon. Gentleman also expressed at length yesterday. My understanding of the Bill is that it seeks to improve the inspection performance of the worst authorities in the country by insisting on a minimum number of regular inspections of schools. That is wholly laudable, and I suspect that it does not divide the parties. Everyone wants to achieve that.

An issue that the guillotine motion will not allow us to discuss does not involve improving the average standards, but the fact that those local authorities that already exceed the minimum standard and conduct inspections more frequently than once every four years will be required to lower their standards. I am not happy about that. West Sussex has no quarrel with the Bill's basic objectives of raising the overall quality of schools' teaching and and attainment by changing the inspection system requiring all schools to be inspected periodically. The shortcomings and infrequency of inspections in many areas must detract from the quality of schooling, and the Bill clearly aims to raise the performance of the worst local education authorities.

However, the position in many parts of the country, including west Sussex, is different. We have more frequent reviews and inspections. My hon. Friend the Minister of State will vouch for the effectiveness of the scheme in West Sussex as only last week he commented most warmly on it. Every school has its management and national curriculum provision once a year by inspectors. There is a rolling programme of whole school inspections and detailed subject department inspections.

That more frequent inspection pattern enables better guarantees to be given to parents and local charge payers of the standards and effectiveness of schools. It success is partly demonstrated by the fact that school examination results in West Sussex ranked third in the country according to The Times performance league.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State will understand why there is reluctance to change a system that has served us well and to reduce the frequency of inspections from once every year to once every four years. Schools should be able to request more frequent inspections so that the best practice of a few is not brought down to the standard practice of the many. Such a policy should commend itself to the Government and my constituents, and I will be perplexed if it is not accepted today.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is extremely difficult to explain to parents in our constituencies that the interests of their children are being better served by having inspections once every four years rather than once a year as at present?

Mr. Nelson

I feel bound to agree. It is extremely difficult for us to support a structural change that will effectively and perceptively reduce the frequency and radically change the rolling nature of the inspection system.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, but does he accept that the position is even worse? Under the Government proposals, not only will the cycle of inspection in West Sussex be reduced from one inspection every year to one inspection every four years, but if problems arise in a school between those inspections, the local authority will have no power to go into that school and investigate the problems.

Mr. Nelson

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and I shall come to that later. It is one of the glaring lacunae which we shall be unable to debate due to yesterday's performance and the necessity for a guillotine motion today.

To answer my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley, the only arguments that I have heard against my proposition that we should be able to continue with better practices and more frequent inspections if we so want is that it might lead to duplication and would provide an inadequate basis for performance comparison. It is also argued that a rolling programme of inspections is inferior to a full-blown, big-bang inspection once every four years.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I have some sympathy with the West Sussex case, and I respect my hon. Friend's views, but I know that he would not wish to overstate the case. I hope that he appreciates that, under the Bill, the inspections every four years on the basis of the criteria drawn up by Her Majesty's chief inspector will not be the same as the annual inspections that West Sussex currently carries out. A typical West Sussex inspection is a day's visit on a taster basis to inspect some aspects of a school's performance.

There is nothing in the Bill to stop the West Sussex practice from continuing as long as the authority has the assent of the head teachers and governors. No one in West Sussex has led me to believe that there is any move there on behalf of the head teachers and governors to stop that process. It is a somewhat fanciful fear to read the Bill and believe that that system is under threat—[Interruption.] I am being barracked by Opposition spokesmen. My hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) certainly should not lend his weight to the argument of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who is advocating something quite different from the system used by West Sussex and is a leading Labour Member of Parliament in a county that carries out no inspections at all.

Mr. Nelson

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, but I had tabled an amendment, which will not now be debated and which sought in the simplest terms to redress that problem. I was told by the Government that they would oppose that proposal, as it was unacceptable to them.

My amendment, which cannot now be discussed, sought to ensure that, if we in West Sussex chose to have inspections more frequently than once every four years, we could do so. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State now says that we can do that. My amendment might have been defeated if it had been selected, but as a result of the guillotine motion we may not debate it.

I do not wish to be argumentative. It is certainly in my interests to try to find a way forward with my right hon. and learned Friend and my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who is looking perplexed. I hope that we can come to some agreement on the matter. If the intent of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State is genuine, as I am sure it is, I believe that there is a way forward, and I shall go on to suggest it.

It is not in the interests of schools or local education authorities to duplicate inspections, even if they had the resources to do so. So we would not want a full-blown inspection every year. I can see that the comparative performance of schools in West Sussex and elsewhere might be assessed more confidently if the inspection were based on the same system of periodic inspections. It is the standard of quality of the inspection, rather than the interval between inspections, that will produce comparable assessments.

As for the Government's insistence on a comprehensive snapshot of schools once every four years, rather than a rolling programme of more frequent inspections, the Secretary of State has perhaps not fully appreciated how the existing system works in LEAs in West Sussex, and in the context of the guillotine, I am raising points on which it is hoped assurances will be given by the Government. It is relevant because our inspection programme has been developed to ensure that there is a systematic collection of evidence regarding pupil achievement through seven interlinked but separate inspection programmes.

That involves a whole school or college inspection, under which, each year, the advisory and inspection service mounts a number of whole school general inspections which give a comprehensive review of the quality of achievement and work in a single school. Those inspections are similar to HMI full inspections and result in a report that is available to parents, governors and the education committee. Every year, about four secondary schools, 12 primary schools and a special school are inspected in that way. That broadly equates with the four-yearly inspections proposed in the Bill.

Mr. Soames

I endorse the warning by the Minister to beware the point made by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), in whose area there are no inspections. Does my hon. Friend agree that the excellent aspect of the West Sussex system is that it enables the local authority to build a really comprehensive picture of the position on a regular basis at the most intimate levels, whereas an inspection in depth every four and a half years would provide no such perspective for parents, so that it would be deleterious for schools to go in for the proposed four-year programme?

Mr. Nelson

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention. I am anxious not to stray from the motion, so it is difficult to go into such matters in detail. Under the guillotine, we may not have any opportunity to discuss the issues in which my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley and I, and many others, are interested. Having read the proceedings in Standing Committee, particularly on 17 December, I did not find adequately discussed the points in which we are interested.

It is important, in the context of the motion, to refer to those and allied issues, because the House must appreciate the way in which we in West Sussex operate. In addition to our whole school inspections, which apply to a number of schools every year, there are other components of our rolling inspection programme. They comprise the inspection of development and management processes; department inspections; family inspections which cover groups of schools and which are based on secondary transfer patterns; and surveys of single-issue matters, such as the implementation of the national curriculum and reports on classroom visits. For example, this year in West Sussex there will be more than 5,000 classroom visits looking directly at the work and standard of pupils. We also have so-called longitudinal inspections on the database of pupils.

Those issues are important in the context of today's discussion because they emphasise a point that did not emerge in the Standing Committee debates and may not be developed in any of the later debates in connection with the special circumstances in West Sussex. Our comprehensive and continuous system of inspection not only produces good results but flags up more quickly problems needing attention. Unless that continues to be possible under the Bill, or unless it is provided for in an assurance from the Minister, six out of the seven programmes that I have outlined will be in danger because of the imposition of the exclusive four-year inspection system.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I appreciate that, because my hon. Friend fears that he may not have an opportunity to speak later, he is anxious to expand now on the points worrying him. I attempted to reassure him some moments ago—as I did yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins)—that such matters are not threatened but can continue. My hon. Friend is worried lest the guillotine cuts out debate of amendment 59, which stands in the names of, among others, my hon. Friends the Members for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) and for Crawley (Mr. Soames), my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, who intervened yesterday, and my hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) who also spoke yesterday.

I accept that that amendment is unlikely to be reached, because of the filibuster—[Interruption.]—and the consequential guillotine. Had it been reached, it would have purported to give schools the right to arrange for the inspections to which my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester has been referring. Our reaction would have been not to resist it but to say that the amendment was not necessary because schools have the right to arrange such inspections.

My hon. Friend said that the four-year cycle was exclusive. I am glad of this opportunity to make it clear that it is not exclusive. The powers that his amendment sought to give governors would have been resisted on drafting grounds—on the ground that governors do not require them because they already have them, as the appropriate authority, to arrange for such inspections to take place, in West Sussex or anywhere else, if they require such inspections.

Mr. Nelson

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, and it seems that we are getting there. His words will be read carefully in West Sussex. The LEA should have the right to continue—if its standards are in excess of the minimum provided in the Bill—a system of inspection which is well tried and is more frequent. If that means that there need not be any change in the practices in West Sussex, we shall be delighted. If that is the case—and the intent of my amendment, which I cannot now discuss, would have been in order—it is difficult to see why it would not have been accepted. I will go no further into that now because I am anxious not to try the patience of the Chair.

My right hon. and learned Friend may agree that perhaps it is possible to accommodate the West Sussex model by which there is a more extensive whole school inspection, with a residual right for schools to call in registered inspectors between four-yearly inspections. The practical problem may be the money involved in doing that, over and above the cost of the full four-yearly inspection for which the school will receive a financial allocation.

But if the registered inspector can do the job every four years more cheaply, money may be left over for additional inspections, or advisory services, in each of the intervening years. It is not clear from the Bill as drafted whether more regular inspection of that type could take place, even if schools could find the resources or if the LEA decided to ask local charge payers to pay more to finance such inspections.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, and I got the impression that, when he was referring to cash, the Secretary of State did not hear his remarks. The major distinction between what he and his right hon. and learned Friend have said is that the Secretary of State implied that the school would be able to carry out such services, whereas the hon. Gentleman wants the county council, on a systematic basis, to continue with such services. That is not possible under the Bill because of the removal of the section 77(3) power. A local authority will not be allowed under the Bill to run an inspection service —unless it is self-financing—if it tenders for four-yearly inspections and receives all its income as a direct result. Not only will there not be any power for it to run an inspection service, but the local authority will not have any money to do so.

Mr. Nelson

That is not what my local education authority has told me, and I would not wish to drive a coach and horses through what I regard as the laudable intention of the Bill—to which I know my right hon. and learned Friend is committed—to raise the average standards of inspection. I am merely saying that, when the minimum requirement of the law has been met, there is no reason to prevent a school or education authority from exceeding the required standard and providing a superior quality of inspection.

I do not wish to persevere with that argument, because it may not be entirely in the spirit of the timetable motion. Let me return to the strict terms of the motion.

Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham)

Like West Sussex, Durham runs a very successful inspection service. Schools are inspected once a year. It now appears that, if West Sussex and Durham, for example, do not win the tenders from their schools, they will no longer be able to continue that service—in which case the additional service that the Secretary of State describes will not be possible.

Mr. Nelson

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern, but, whatever may happen in Durham, I do not think that such circumstances will arise in West Sussex: my local education authority feels confident about that.

I do not wish to preserve the inspection rights of local education authorities as an immortal institution; I simply want the schools in my area to be inspected properly and adequately, and as frequently as possible. I want value for money, and if that can be provided by a registered inspector rather than a local education authority, I am all for it.

So far, I have dealt with the case for discussion, during the time allotted to us, of the merits of more regular inspection than that provided by the Bill. The hon. Member for Blackburn, however, has raised a related issue, about which the Association of County Councils has expressed some concern. I refer to clarification of the residual powers of local education authorities to enter schools when that is necessary. I consider it reasonable, and within the terms of the debate on the timetable motion, to ask my right hon. and learned Friend for further clarification. Clauses 9 to 15 of the Bill, and the repeal of part of section 77 of the 1944 Act in schedule 5, call those powers into question.

Under the 1944 Act, local education authorities are charged with a number of basic responsibilities. Those responsibilities include providing a varied and comprehensive education service in every area, ensuring that sufficient education is available to meet the needs of the population and ensuring that schools are sufficient in number, character and equipment to provide educational opportunities for all pupils. Those fundamental provisions have not been amended by subsequent legislation, nor are they amended in the Bill; but what will they amount to if local education authorities are specifically prevented from inspecting their own maintained schools, and are not explicitly empowered to go into those schools in pursuance of their broad statutory responsibilities?

My right hon. and learned Friend has sought to assure the Association of Metropolitan Authorities that education authorities' rights to enter in connection with their statutory duties will remain implicit rather than explicit. His letter to the association stated that, if a school unreasonably refused entry to a local education authority, the Government would be prepared to use section 68 —

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman is now relating his comments to one of the amendments. He has remained in good order until now; I should be grateful if he would continue in that spirit.

Mr. Nelson

I shall endeavour to heed your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker. Let me just say that, as far as I am aware, the only amendment on which this narrow point about the right of entry could possibly have been discussed was ruled out of order. I must be careful not to address that amendment, which, for various technical reasons, was deemed to be outside the terms of the Bill.

However, my right hon. and learned Friend now has an opportunity to clarify matters which he may not have later, and which was not provided to an adequate degreee either in Committee or in the correspondence that has taken place.

I do not consider the present position satisfactory. The only legal powers that are provided by section 68 of the 1944 Act are very narrow, and very rarely used: they take time, and they require referral. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House feel that, before we approve the timetable motion, we should enable my right hon. and learned Friend to confirm that the right to enter schools should be explicit.

Mr. Madel

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Nelson

Will my hon. Friend allow me to press on for a bit? I fear that I may so trespass on the patience of the Chair that I shall not manage to make some important points. I shall try to be brief, and I shall give way if an opportunity arises later.

Local education authorities—including West Sussex—do not claim a monopoly of inspection expertise; nor do they resist the principle of regular independent inspection. What they claim is the right to enter and inspect as and when they judge it necessary, at their own cost. Serious —indeed, heartrending—circumstances could arise in which such rights of entry would be necessary under the statutory residual powers. Abuses of various kinds might be reported, which individual schools might be reluctant to address for "image" reasons but which should nevertheless be investigated immediately. Furthermore, a school might falter in the intervening time between the four-yearly inspections. Problems can arise following the appointment of a poor head teacher; the head might be at loggerheads with the chairman of the governors.

In all such cases, education authorities must have a direct right of entry, which can be speedily implemented, to fulfil their statutory obligations. If something serious goes wrong and parents complain to the local education authority, is the authority to throw up its arms and say, "We have been denied an explicit right of entry to the school, and there is nothing we can do"? It would be very difficult for any of us to justify that to our constituents; indeed, it might result in tragedies that could have been avoided.

Mr. Madel

My hon. Friend mentioned the statutory provision of a general duty to provide education. Since the passage of the 1944 Act, two important additions have been bolted on: the delivery of the national curriculum, and the testing of children at seven and, in due course, at 11. Those duties must be performed properly.

Mr. Nelson

That is absolutely right. I am not trying to undermine the principle, or the practical provisions, of the legislation; I am merely saying that serious circumstances may arise in which the Government cannot be relied on to sort out the problem. In such circumstances, a right of entry should be provided explicitly.

For all those reasons, I believe that the Government must make it plain—as they failed to do in Committee—that local education authorities have explicit powers to enter schools and fulfil their statutory obligations. I hope that, if that cannot be done tonight, provision will be made in another place.

5.38 pm
Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

The rebellion on the Tory Benches has not been on a large scale, but it has certainly been lengthy. I shall come on to the West Sussex question in a moment—although I assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I shall not deal with it at the same length as the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson).

Let me begin by referring to earlier discussion about how the present circumstances came about, and what could be done in the future. There has been a certain amount of disingenuous comment, but one thing is for certain—the guillotine will squeeze out proper debate of the important amendments.

Parliamentary business could be organised in far more effective ways. However, a system of simple agreement between the Conservative and Labour Front Benches is a system liable to block the alternative views of both Back Benchers and other parties. In discussions both last night and today, none of those views has been represented. Had they been represented, it is likely that we would not be in this situation now and the hon. Member for Chichester would have been able to move his amendment rather than borrowing time from the guillotine debate to discuss it.

We should be wary of reforms that introduce easy time-tabling, to the convenience of both Government and Opposition Front-Bench teams, because there is a risk that it would be used as a means to stifle rather than enhance debate. Inevitably, both Front Benches find that to their advantage.

The Secretary of State has not been able to give an answer to the West Sussex question. I am appalled that the guillotine motion will mean that there will be no debate on this. My only consolation is that, while the Government may be able to push the Bill through this House, they will not be able to push it through the other place.

There is an obvious logic to the question that has been posed but which Ministers have not answered. What is the advantage of moving to a system that, rather than enhancing inspections, reduces them? There is no question but that in West Sussex, as in other parts of the country, that will happen.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I keep trying to handle the West Sussex question sympathetically, partly by saying that the fears are unnecessary. In their enthusiasm to rush to the defence of West Sussex, people are grossly exaggerating what goes on there. The Bill institutes a four-year regular cycle of full inspections of every aspect of the school, its delivery, curriculum and management. It will take about a week for a team of inspectors to inspect a medium-sized secondary school. The West Sussex system is of inspections carried out once a year, with the consent of the governors, taking only one day and looking at the teaching of only one subject, such as maths. As I have already said, there is no reason why that system cannot continue.

It is absurd for the Labour party to imply that my hon. Friends with constituencies in West Sussex are suggesting anything that is in line with its policy, but it is equally absurd for the Liberal Democrats to join in with a grotesque exaggeration of a fantastic Rolls-Royce system in West Sussex that is about to be cut. When it is got into proportion, it will be found that the West Sussex question is a tiny one. I accept that I have so far failed to satisfy my hon. Friends that what they are defending is not being threatened by the Bill.

Mr. Taylor

I am glad that the Secretary of State made that intervention. If he were right in his portrayal of the effects of the Bill, he would go a long way to reassuring us, but he is incorrect for two substantial reasons. The first, which has already been addressed, is the financial difficulty that a local authority will have in providing such a system, because of the financial arrangements that the Secretary of State has announced. If he is to take the opportunity of the debate on the guillotine motion to announce a change in financial arrangements, that will be welcome.

In Committee, Ministers outlined a second and more fundamental problem. Again, it could be changed and, were it changed, that would go a long way to giving us a reassurance that would meet the basis of the question, although it would not necessarily tie up all the loose ends. It is that if registered inspectors and their teams within a local authority go into a school outside the four-year cycle —either because they are called in or because parents have expressed concerns—that would not be a formal inspection, because there is no role for that within the four-year cycle, so it would count as advice to the school from the local authority. That would mean that the inspectors who had performed the work would be debarred from making any other inspections of the school, on the ground that they had offered advice to it. That was made clear by Ministers in a debate in Committee on an amendment on the subject that I tabled on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.

A local authority wishing to maintain an inspection service to deliver the four-year cycle cannot afford to have inspectors going into schools at other times, because that will debar them from making future inspections and gradually wear away the ability of the local authority and its registered inspectors to provide an inspection service. Inevitably, local authorities will not be prepared to undertake that role.

It should not be difficult for the Secretary of State to make changes that would meet that objection without opening up the avenue of an alternative four-year cycle. I never argued that local authority cycles of inspections should be in competition with those called in by the schools. That would be a waste of money. However, in Committee, Ministers confirmed that any inspection outside the regular cycle would be counted as the tendering of advice, which would thereby debar inspectors from going into schools subsequently. That is a substantive point, but perhaps the Secretary of State will correct it.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I think that we are getting clarity. The local authority can have a right of entry and inspection, if one wants to call it inspecting, so long as that right of entry is pursuant to a statutory duty. That is implicit and does not have to be spelt out. The attempt to do so, by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson), was ruled out of order. Secondly, governors have the right to invite local authorities to come in for any purpose that they think is necessary, including inspecting or giving advice.

The hon. Gentleman has raised a third point. It is that the Bill tries to separate the functions of advice and inspection for the reason that, if we relax that generally, there would be the absurd situation that we believe that the Labour party is advocating. People would advise the school between inspections and then make an inspection and commend their advice and the result of their labours to the parents.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) is saying that, if employees of the local authority have gone to a school other than when performing an inspection pursuant to their statutory duty, they will automatically be counted as advisers. I think that that is not correct—I shall check and come back later if I am wrong—because it depends on what they do. People are advisers only if they have been visiting a school for the purpose of giving advice. If they have been advising on a school's management or performance, they are not suitable to inspect the results of their advice. They cannot be deemed to be advisers if they have not given any advice about what has happened on previous visits.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. The allocation of time motion allows only a narrow debate, but I am trying to be as generous as possible within the Standing Orders. I ask hon. Members to be sympathetic to the Chair and help it to maintain Standing Orders. I am afraid that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) is going into a great deal of detail about amendments. If he would relate what he is saying to, or complain about, the allocation of time motion from time to time, I should be happy to hear that.

Mr. Taylor

My point is precisely that we are not able to raise these questions because of the guillotine. It is clear from the debate so far that that is the case and that the Bill will not be adequately debated. I do not wish to cause you a problem, Madam Deputy Speaker, but, in view of the Minister's comments, I ask that he looks at the Committee debate on this subject, when the Minister of State said that that was not the way that it was expected that the Bill would be interpreted. His interpretation was that because the right of inspection is removed, anything outside that regular four-year cycle can be seen only as advice. Perhaps the Secretary of State will ask his advisers and reconsider the issue. If he is unable to come back to us during this debate, perhaps he will write to us before the Bill goes to another place, because it is an important issue.

Mr. Straw

I am sure that the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) will recollect that it was made clear in Committee that schedule 2(3)(5) would exclude people who had given advice to a school from inspecting it. He will recall that the terms of paragraph (3)5 are very wide. It states: It shall be the duty of the registered inspector"— the head of the firm— to ensure that no person takes any part in an inspection if he has, or has at any time had—

  1. (a) any connection with the school in question, or
  2. (b) any connection with any person employed at the school, of a kind which might reasonably be taken to raise doubts about his ability to act impartially in relation to that school."
It is plain from what the Secretary of State says that if inspectors went to a school under the advisory powers now being offered to West Sussex, it would be difficult for the same people to undertake an inspection.

Mr. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman is right. I can add to my list of complaints about the guillotine motion the fact that, because I did not expect the debate to occur now, I do not have with me the Committee references that would allow me to quote the Minister. However, the Minister has civil servants and, no doubt, his own records and he will be able to read for himself. He made it clear that a local authority could send inspectors to a school but that those inspectors would not be able at a later date to go back to the school as part of the regular four-year cycle. Inevitably, West Sussex or any other local authority would not be prepared to use its inspectors in that way because it would destroy its own inspection service by so doing.

It is deeply ironic that we should be debating a guillotine motion on a Bill which will more than halve the HMI and in so doing tear out its ability to visit schools in any number, on the very afternoon that the Secretary of State announced at a press conference—and he will shortly be doing interviews—the annual report of the senior chief inspector of schools. The report's introduction emphasises the fact that the quality of the report is underpinned by the 7,000 or so visits that HMI was able to undertake.

Guillotining the Bill will remove the ability effectively to consider amendments to a change which will wipe out for ever HMI's ability to undertake reports on that basis and of that quality. The Secretary of State welcomes the quality of information that HMI is able to provide, but he sits in on the guillotine motion of a Bill which will end that ability once and for all. That seems appalling. I hope that there will be a general election in time to stop the Bill and that, no matter who wins the election, the Government of the day will not introduce a Bill that affects HMI in that way and which removes its ability to offer the advice that has been valued for many years as independent and authoritative. It will no longer be authoritative, because it will not have the benefit of direct experience of schools on which to base it. There are many reasons to hope for an early election, but I feel strongly that that is one of the best.

5.53 pm
Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and it struck me as the speech of a man who had not had the pleasure of listening to some of his hon. Friends speak last night. I suspect that, if he had, he would have changed his mind. Clearly, the reasons for the timetable motion—or the guillotine—can be found in the unreasonable behaviour of Opposition Members. There is little doubt that they filibustered, and I shall justify that claim on three specific grounds.

All three Deputy Speakers who last night supervised the debate had cause to bring Opposition Members to order for straying from the subject. I think that that must be unique. It must be the first time that each occupant of the Chair has had to bring Opposition Members to order. In my time in the House— going back to 1979—I have never seen a debate handled so badly by the Opposition. I also noticed that at least one hon. Gentleman was brought to order on two occasions—that was the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng)—and I feel that that is some justification for levelling a charge of filibustering.

I advance a second reason for the charge of filibustering. Hansard records the lengths of interventions from Opposition Members and some were longer than the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Stevens). His speech was concise and very much to the point—what a contrast there was between his admirable speech and the interventions made by Opposition Members.

I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) in his place. I recall his being reminded by the occupant of the Chair—on two separate occasions, I think—about the length of his interventions. Clearly, that underlines my point that there was filibustering last night. Even the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington. (Mr. Fallon), who is known in this place for his good manners and for his tolerant and friendly attitude, found it necessary to accuse the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) of filibustering; on that occasion he was right, as he is on so many others.

Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

Give him a job.

Mr. Pawsey

I have no desire for a job, thank you.

The third reason to justify the charge of filibustering is the speech made by the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy), which lasted for about 25 minutes and referred, among other matters, to an inspection of a school which took place in 1860. Hon. Members may ask what is the relevance to the Bill of an inspection that took place in 1860. It is also significant that the hon. Gentleman prayed in aid the earldom of Fitzwilliam. Again, that seemed to be straying from the point.

Nevertheless, I found the hon. Gentleman's speech interesting and I was able to discover that he, like myself, had served in the Royal Air Force. He also noted the educational improvements that have taken place in the past 40 years. I genuinely enjoyed his speech, but it was rather long-winded—indeed, it was longer than that made by his hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong). Those of us who have sat through the hon. Lady's speeches will know that, at times, they seem interminable but last night her speech was shorter than that of the hon. Member for Wentworth.

Mr. Flannery

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Pawsey

In a moment.

I dislike using the word "filibuster". It is an Americanism which has crept into our language only because we do not have an alternative word. I believe that an alternative is now at hand—the word "Wentworth". That has a good solid English ring to it. We should invent the verb "to wentworth"—

Mr. Burns

What about "to flannery"?

Mr. Pawsey

That is a competitor and perhaps we could conjoin the two—

Mr. Burns

To flannel.

Mr. Pawsey

—to flannel and to wentworth—and make it even more imposing.

Mr. Flannery

As a matter of fact, the longest speech last night was made by the Secretary of State, who spoke for 40 minutes. I was in a Select Committee when my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) was speaking, but the speech just made by the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) lasted for 34 minutes of the short time that we have available. To my knowledge he was pulled up at least twice for deviating from the point at issue. Why does not the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) mention that?

Mr. Pawsey

I am delighted that I gave way to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). Not for the first time, he has given me a perfect illustration of the verb "to flannery". That is splendid.

Mr. Irvine Patnick (Lords Commissioner to the Treasury)

A wet flannery.

Mr. Pawsey

Quite so.

Conservative Members want the Bill to be enacted. We want the improved inspection arrangements; we want parents to have more information about what takes place in the nation's schools, where their children—our children —are educated.

Professor Anthony King said recently: In terms of big ideas, Labour is travelling light to the point of nudity. —I am pleased to say that the occupants of the Labour Benches are reasonably clothed at the moment. Professor King's remarks about Labour's lack of a big idea were borne out in last night's debate. We heard all the usual pious hand-wringing, the heart and breast-baring demands for a period of stability in education.

My hon. Friends and I found that extraordinary, because Labour is the party which wants, for example, to abolish grant-maintained schools. It is said that one of the first acts of an incoming Labour Government would be to introduce legislation—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) seems to be confirming that the Labour party would abolish grant-maintained schools—schools which have been established following a vote by parents.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman inform me how that relates to the allocation of time motion?

Mr. Pawsey

I am delighted, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you have given me the opportunity to describe the connection. You were present for much of last night's debate and will have heard how Labour Members prayed in aid all sorts of ideas. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) referred to a document which he claimed was Labour party education policy. Of course, that document refers to the abolition of grant-maintained schools, so that is why I made that passing reference, Madam Deputy Speaker.

If the guillotine had not been imposed, there would have been an opportunity, as we discussed some of the later clauses, to describe how the Labour party would abolish city technology colleges, grammar schools, the assisted places scheme—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I regret to have to call the hon. Gentleman to order for a second time so soon. We are speaking about an allocation of time motion. The hon. Gentleman has been in the House long enough to know how to deal with such matters. I hope that he will now do so.

Mr. Pawsey

I apologise unreservedly to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for any discourtesy that you may have inferred from my remarks—it was unintentional, I assure you. I listened carefully to what you said, and I assure you that I will remain within order from now on.

I should have liked to reach the second part of the Bill, but, sadly, we may not now do so, because of the way in which the guillotine works. You have studied the Bill carefully, I know, Madam Deputy Speaker, so you will recall that the second part concerns information and schools, and will provide parents and others with greater knowledge of what takes place in local education authorities and in the nation's schools. It is not surprising that the Guild of Newspaper Editors supports the principle underlying the Bill.

Sadly, the Standing Committee did not reach one of the provisions that I would have liked to have discussed, which refers to ethnic communities. I hope that when my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State replies to the debate, he will say a word about how schools and areas with large ethnic groups will receive the information that we feel that they should receive. Not all parents in such areas speak English as a first language. It is important that they, like other parents, are made aware of what is taking place in their children's schools.

It has been argued that tables comprising what is described as raw data are unhelpful because they do not provide enough information for a reasonable comparison to be made. I have two specific answers to that. First, it is an extremely patronising attitude. The implication is that parents have not the ability to make a choice, that they do not possess the interest, motivation or knowledge to make a reasoned decision. People should understand that parents are not as thick as Labour Members seek to have us believe.

Parents know about catchment areas, about which school has a large proportion of youngsters whose first language is not English. Parents understand those things and can make allowances for them, provided that the basic information is made available.

Mr. Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Can the hon. Gentleman cite one parents' organisation that supports the Bill?

Mr. Pawsey

I have not the slightest doubt that parents will rally to support the Act once it is on the statute book and they see and appreciate the benefits that flow from it. I served on the Committee on the Education Reform Act 1988. Labour Members condemned and opposed that Act. They said that it would mean the end of education as we knew it, yet now we know it to be a great reforming Act.

People who seek to discredit the tables must understand that, tables or no tables, parents will still make judgments about schools. The only difference is that such judgments would be based on information picked up at the school gate or on what other parents say at open evenings. In the past, there has been no real source of information, and the Bill does much to remedy that. The tables will be widely welcomed by parents as an essential tool to help them to select a school for their children.

The thrust and burden of the Bill is to improve the quality and standard of state education. Labour Members are suspicious about parents. They believe that only professionals should have opinions. I have news for them —parents want to know about the quality of individual schools and local education authorities, and we will ensure that that information is made available to them.

Labour Members want to treat parents like mushrooms, fed on a selective diet and kept firmly in the dark.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I should love to hear what the hon. Gentleman thinks about the motion under discussion.

Mr. Pawsey

It may be appropriate, Madam Deputy Speaker, if I now draw my remarks to a conclusion.

It was Chairman Mao who said that knowledge is power. Conservatives intend to put that knowledge into the hands of the nation's parents.

6.8 pm

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

We have witnessed a spectacular own goal by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). His case for the Government rested on the assertion that we spoke for too long last night and had to be called to order. Yet three times during his speech you, Madam Deputy Speaker, called him to order, so his case has a huge hole in it.

I respect the hon. Gentleman and am happy to hear him speak. He was the only Conservative Back-Bench Member who was here throughout the debate last night, unlike those who intervened and then walked away, such as the hon. Member for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern). They had no interest in it. It is amazing that a Conservative Member should speak for 34 minutes and complain about the guillotine motion when he was not even here to listen to the debate last night. What hypocrisy.

I wish to speak on the guillotine motion and to complain that we have no opportunity to discuss the major problems. I wish to debate the issues that affect Scotland. Clause 17 has massive implications for Scotland. It is an enabling clause that allows the Secretary of State for Scotland to gather unrestricted information on what is happening in schools, including personal information about pupils, their families and backgrounds, and it could be open to abuse.

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

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that he is now making his clause 17 stand part speech which he failed to make in Committee?

Mr. McFall

The Minister of State is perceptive sometimes, but his perceptiveness has departed from him tonight. I am complaining about the guillotine motion. I was here yesterday from 3.30 and I participated in every debate until 10 o'clock. The Government then panicked because they thought that the schedule for a 9 April election might not be adhered to. They therefore stopped the business, despite the fact that we were debating the Bill clause by clause.

I am not against the disclosure of information, but the Bill places no limits on the nature of the information that the Secretary of State may require. It empowers him to obtain and publish information as he decides, without democratic or parliamentary control. That cannot be right, and the guillotine motion offers us less opportunity to mould the Bill as we would wish.

Clause 17 enables the Tories' parents charter to be applied in Scotland. The Scottish public have been suspicious about Tory claims and their implementation of education for many years. The Government's response has been a cavalier disregard for the massive opposition to their education proposals in Scotland in the past four or five years. No matter what arguments are made against them or how strong the public opinion, the Minister of State, Scottish Office goes ahead with his policies and ideological love children, such as the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988.

The parents charter has difficulty in hiding the fiasco in Tory education policy. In Scotland there are no opt-out schools or city technology colleges, and two thirds of children in state education last year did not take the national test. The current elections in Strathclyde and Grampian regions, to name just two, saw the collapse of school boards. In Grampian, 40 per cent. of the schools had no nominations, and in Strathclyde 67 per cent. had insufficient nominations.

I am against the crude statistics in league tables. Sadly, the Secretary of State for Education and Science and his Ministers have not listened to the educationists. Last night, the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) spoke about international comparisons. The Secretary of State should consider them. In America, tests have been running for many years, and bitter lessons can be learned from them. Given the vigorous treatment by the press of league tables, which can be used to praise or pillory teachers and their methods, and given that statistics are used by estate agents to rate neighbourhoods, the scores can become very high, and the scores in American tests have become higher over the years.

If that is what the Government want, fair enough, but Opposition Members and educationists want to know how that has influenced learning. Teachers are under enormous pressure to raise the test scores and children in the United States are now trained in test-taking only. Where is the learning?

At Christmas, I read a magazine article on education in America, which gave an example of a question given to 17-year-old high school students. It was an objective test on America and the students were to choose their answers from boxes. The question was, "When did the first world war begin?" In one box the answer was, "Between 1900 and 1950", and 42 per cent.—

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that he started his comments rather well, but this is a narrow motion and he has strayed a long way from it.

Mr. McFall

The last thing that I would want is to be humiliated like the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth.

I was saying that 42 per cent. of the children got the answer wrong, so that did not assist the learning process.

I want to push the Government on the issue of league tables and crude statistics, but I do not have time to do so. Are the Government simply intent on raising test scores, or do they wish to help the learning process of children in United Kingdom, particularly Scottish, education? I do not have time to push that issue. I am aware of your strictures, Madam Deputy Speaker, and of the fact that other Members want to speak, but I object strongly to the Government's action in stopping the business last night when we were debating the Bill clause by clause. It does nothing for parliamentary democracy, and it certainly does nothing for the education of children. Will the Government think again about some of their proposals?

6.15 pm
Mr. Andrew Mitchell (Gedling)

I am sure that I am not alone in having wondered, during the guillotine motion debates that I have sat through in the five years in which I have been a Member of the House, about the whole issue of timetabling. I listened carefully to the words of the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson), but I am unconvinced about the case for timetabling.

In the unlikely event that the Conservative party is ever again in opposition—I do not expect that to happen in my lifetime—I wonder whether we would be willing to relinquish the power that untimetabled Bills undoubtedly give us. I would be suspicious of any suggestion about timetabling in general and would not welcome such collusion between the two Front Benches. It would further limit and diminish the influence and power of Back Benchers.

It is most important that any Government who seek to move a guillotine motion should have to justify to the House their reasons for doing so, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House did this afternoon. The guillotine motion is richly deserved, because the events last night were a classic case for a guillotine. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend all yesterday's debates, but I served on the Committee, I have seen today's Hansard, and my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) has kindly filled me in on the debate.

Although there have been mutterings about whether yesterday's business was influenced by the forthcoming election, the rumour circulating on this side of the House last night was that the Opposition wished to frustrate the Bill's chance of reaching the statute book before the election. That played a large part in yesterday's strategy. Equally, it was strongly suggested that the events in the Chamber yesterday afternoon bore no relation to the matter under discussion. Rather, they related to a discussion elsewhere about the business for next week and whether it suited the Opposition Front Bench.

I am perfectly satisfied that a most monstrous filibuster went on in the Chamber yesterday when a matter of great importance should have been debated. I am sure that the Government were right to table the guillotine motion.

The Bill was well and effectively discussed in Committee. I have not sat on many Committees, I suppose, but I cannot think of one that has been more constructive and more harmonious than the one that considered this Bill. We addressed many of the points that have been discussed this afternoon without the necessity of timetabling. We discussed the issues raised in the Bill, and we had enough time to do it. There was little difference between the two sides in Committee.

When the television cameras were absent, when not many people were in the Gallery and when we got down to discussing the issues, there was precious little between us. By the exercise of great restraint on the part of Conservative Back Benchers, we had a chance to listen with interest to the arguments put by Opposition Members and to the very convincing arguments put by those on the Government Front Bench.

So there are few serious points left for discussion, and the timetable allowed for the Bill, together with the time that could have been spent much more profitably yesterday, is about right.

Opposition Members ought to be extremely grateful to the Government for timetabling the Bill, because it hides a great embarrassment for them. On one of the key measures of the Bill—clause 16, league tables—there is a massive, public split on the Opposition Benches. It has already appeared in this debate, and it was evident in Committee.

On the one hand, we have the hon. Member for Blackburn, (Mr. Straw), who is broadly in favour of league tables and is on record as saying that he wants to see a thousand league tables bloom. When I introduced my ten-minute Bill, with strong support from my hon. Friends, he made it clear that this was not a measure with which he strongly disagreed. He is on record as supporting, in principle, league tables.

We have, on the other hand, the second tendency, personified in Committee by the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg) and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who have been with us for most of the debate. They strongly oppose league tables and they set out clearly and concisely in Committee why they do not accept them. They did not vote according to their convictions but they set out their deep reservations about league tables.

A third tendency, closely allied to the second, is best epitomised by my own education authority in Nottinghamshire, where there is an odiously patronising attitude towards parents. The view of that authority, in hock, as so often, to some of the teacher unions, is that parents cannot be trusted with important information. If it is given to them, they will not use it responsibly or properly. As has been so ably demonstrated throughout the debate on the Bill, that is absolute nonsense and shows a complete lack of respect for the parents whom members of the authority are supposed to be helping, assisting and serving in discharging their duties as an education authority.

I will not attempt to test your patience on this matter today, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is extremely important that the Bill reaches the statute book as quickly as possible, and all those who have tried to promote league tables and emphasise the importance of getting more information to parents, to enable choice and opportunity in education, know this. The guillotine motion will ensure a speedy passage for the Bill through the House, and I look forward to its reaching the statute book.

6.23 pm
Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

I oppose the allocation of time motion because the four major clauses of the Bill, out of the 20 clauses which concern the Welsh Office, have scarcely been debated at any stage. In Committee they were given only a few minutes, because my right hon. Friend—I should not call him my right hon. Friend, but I can call him my friend —the Minister for State, Welsh Office (Sir W. Roberts) was not a member of the Committee and therefore could not speak with his customary authority on these matters, being as he is, the longest-serving Minister of State in the Government or probably in any other Government in the history of Parliament. So there was no proper debate of these issues.

It presents a serious problem for those who seek to defend the unitary state and the way in which legislation for England and Wales and, for that matter, Scotland is dealt with here.

Before I came here, I had to learn my constitutional theory. We debated these matters in the late 1970s, at the time of devolution. It looks as though we may have to debate them again, whatever the result of the forthcoming election—and I can speak objectively because I am not standing at that election. I was taught that primary legislation is dealt with—scrutinised line by line—by the House of Commons; after Second Reading it goes to Committee and comes back to the House on Report. Secondary legislation—such as orders—is dealt with separately. The Welsh Office, being the Department of State responsible for nearly all education policy in Wales, then implements the primary legislation; but it is for Welsh hon. Members in the House, in London, to debate primary legislation as it affects Wales.

It is no news for me to announce in the House—I do it without fear of contradiction by the Secretary of State for Education and Science or by any other hon. Member—that there has been inadequate scrutiny of the four clauses of the Bill as they affect Her Majesty's inspectorate for Wales. That is why I feel confident that I am in order, Madam Deputy Speaker, and will not be subject to a "Pawsey"—our new term for someone who is often called to order by Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Although we have had inadequate debate, I should like to draw attention to the fact that creeping announcements, which might have formed a debate, have been emerging in Hansard. On Monday, there was a paragraph of an answer from the Minister of State on HMI in Wales, referring to its visits to 40 per cent. of primary schools and all secondary schools in Wales. We had an even longer answer —four pages of the best Welsh Office typescript—setting out the views of the Secretary of State on the future role of HMI. Unfortunately, I cannot detect, without reading between the lines of that answer—but I think that I am reading it correctly—what this actually means for the future numbers employed in HMI Wales.

I put this question on Second Reading in the form of an intervention and, quite rightly, the Secretary of State for Education and Science replied that the number of inspectors employed in Wales was a matter for the Secretary of State for Wales. I agree with him. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive an answer to my question.

The impression that I get from the long written answer is that there will be no change in the number of inspectors. The final paragraph of the answer to the question of the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones) says that the Secretary of State for Wales expects that in due course there will be some overall reduction in the numbers of HMI engaged in work related to schools but it is not possible to be precise at this stage". [Official Report, 29 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 577.] The rest of the answer talks of strengthening their independence, of their no longer being civil servants and of retaining existing terms and conditions; and it led me to the conclusion that there will not be a reduction of the present number of 60, made up of the chief inspector, eight staff inspectors and 51 inspectors, that we have at the moment. The Secretary of State is nodding. It might he helpful if I gave way to him.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

I hesitate to intervene in these matters, which, the hon. Gentleman and I agree, are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, but he is not in the position which I am in, with our senior chief inspector, of having calculated a figure for reduction in the anticipated establishment of HMI. In the circumstances of Wales, the Secretary of State has no such figure at present, although he anticipates that the change in role might in due course lead to some reduction.

Dr. Thomas

I am grateful for that intervention which, will, I hope, satisfy me and some of my friends in the inspectorate. I had better not say "some of my friends" because, although I shall be leaving the House at the election, I am not suggesting that I am available as a consultant to inspect adult education in Wales.

I do not say that there is a conspiracy between the Front Benches on allocation of time motions, but I endorse the comments of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) and of the right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) that, if we are to have serious debates on primary legislation we need an allocation of time for all Bills. That time must include some sort of block allocation to cater for minorities. It would not be right if the West Sussex minority had more attention in primary legislation than the Welsh minority or any other ethnic or national minority in these islands.

The Welsh Office may not want to advertise its policy too clearly, in case the Department of Education and Science finds out, as I think it has, that the Welsh Office is not pursuing the same policy on the inspectorate as is followed in England. English educationists might find out that the Welsh Office is not halving or privatising the inspectorate, or whatever words are being used. It might also not be in the interests of the Labour Front Bench to admit that the Welsh Office is pursuing consensus education policies that may well be more progressive than those of the Labour party in Wales.

6.30 pm
Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

Much of the debate has concentrated on the problems of West Sussex. I shall not go down that road, except to say that my father is a councillor on West Sussex county council, and I have no doubt that he will give me an ear bashing similar to that given by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) to the Secretary of State. I should like to speak about a part of the country with which I am even more familiar than West Sussex—the county of Humberside. I shall deal with how clause 16 relates to schools in that county and, in particular, in my constituency.

I looked forward to yesterday's debate and at any time between 2 am and 4 am I would have been happy to speak to the amendments to clause 16. I was delighted to see the guillotine motion, because it seemed to point to two days of debate at a sensible time when we would have been able to give proper consideration to clause 16. The problem with the guillotine motion, is that it is all-embracing. Such motions sometimes enable two or three hours of debate on one clause followed by a debate of an hour or two on another.

I do not object to the idea of today's business being guillotined. However, I wish that the motion had allowed for certainty of debate on clause 16, which deals with information about schools. That is one of the major clauses in the Bill and will be of great benefit to parents in a constituency such as mine. If there had been a debate on it yesterday, I should have liked to speak to it. We need it because it encapsulates the problems in some schools in Grimsby and Cleethorpes which take children from my constituency. In the past week or two, some head teachers in my constituency refused to make the parents charter available to parents, and that document does nothing but draw attention to the rights of parents.

Mr. Morley

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Brown

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman later, because, like me, he represents a Humberside constituency.

Thank goodness for the Grimsby Evening Telegraph, which, in an editorial a few days ago, drew the attention of its readers to a disgraceful situation. It said that it would take upon itself the responsibility for ensuring that parents would find out more information about their schools—

Mr. Derek Enright (Hemsworth)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is speaking about some provincial evening newspaper rather than about the motion. I understood that he had to speak to the motion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

The hon. Gentleman is right, and he is a short head in front of me: I was about to ask the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) what on earth this part of his speech has to do with the motion.

Mr. Brown

My point is that, but for clause 16, the opportunity to ensure that information is given to parents—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot make on the motion the speech that he might have made if we had been discussing clause 16 stand part.

Mr. Brown

I accept that, but I wish to draw to the attention of the House the relevance of my remarks to the motion. It is vital that that local newspaper publishes information about schools, because head teachers refused to do so. That is an outrage to parents. Thank goodness the Bill will pass to another place. I look forward to the vote on the motion because it will ensure that parents and children in my constituency will have the opportunity to receive information about their schools.

Mr. Morley

The Grimsby Evening Telegraph is an excellent paper, surpassed only by the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph. The hon. Gentleman should know that local authorities are asking whether the parents charter is party political propaganda, outlawed by Government regulations. Humberside is quite right to be careful because it could be caught by the law for dishing out party political propaganda. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, if we had had a proper debate yesterday all these issues could have been discussed and we would not have needed the guillotine motion?

Mr. Brown

Cabinet rules are strict on such matters and the Central Office of Information ensures that certain guidelines are followed by the Government. It is clear that the pamphlet could not be distributed unless it complied with the rules that are clearly laid down in the civil service. How could anyone object to a simple statement of fact?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that we have had enough of that. Let us get back to the motion.

Mr. Brown

I have been in the Chamber for three hours, Mr. Deputy Speaker, during which the Chair drew my attention to the fact that it would be in order to range reasonably widely as long as our remarks related to the motion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have ruled on the hon. Gentleman's references to the parents charter. I hope that he will not dispute my ruling.

Mr. Brown

I would not dream of ever doing that. I shall simply draw the House's attention to one simple fact. The motion must be passed quickly to ensure that the Bill proceeds as soon as possible to another place. That will ensure that parents have the right to information about their children and that no head teacher will be able to stand in their way.

6.38 pm
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham)

I often speak after the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and often feel that he is filibustering even when he makes a serious speech. In this debate, he did exactly that. However, he has been beaten today by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), because his speech was a filibuster if ever there was one.

Well over 80 new clauses and amendments in 26 groups were tabled for discussion. Normally one can expect at least an hour for proper discussion of each group of amendments. The Minister's opening speech usually takes about half an hour, and when the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman has had his say, there is not much time left for Back Benchers. Yesterday, we had before us 26 groups of amendments, which could have meant about 26 hours of debate. The debate that we did have was very much shorter.

I spoke for only three minutes, so I was not filibustering. Indeed, I had some very important points to make. In addition, I wanted to say some very important things about later clauses, but will now be prevented from doing so. The Government panicked at 10 o'clock last night, when they realised that they would not get the Bill through. I vehemently oppose this measure. I opposed it vehemently in Committee and will continue to do so. The Bill is flawed and should never have been put before the House and the country. It might have been improved a little with some new clauses, but the guillotine makes that impossible.

The proposed reorganisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate is fundamentally flawed. The question of private inspectors is without doubt being pursued for the sake of political dogma. It has nothing to do with education. In addition to the political dogma, there is now the fact that we are being prevented from discussing the proposals. The Bill will pass to another place without fair discussion of the ways in which it could have been improved. There is no doubt that improvement could have been achieved by some of the very reasonable new clauses that have been tabled.

I make no bones about the fact that I object to the league tables and to the use of raw data about schools. Neither parents, teachers nor pupils will derive any benefit from this system. Education itself will be undermined. During the three or four weeks of Committee debate, we identified at least eight areas in which major amendment is needed, but we are now to be prevented from discussing those. Let me outline some of the areas that we shall be prevented from discussing. First, all inspectors—from chief inspector down—should hold the status of qualified teacher, with experience in education in England or Wales and, as appropriate, knowledge of the Welsh language.

During the Select Committee's deliberations, the Secretary of State told us that he was quite prepared to have the local butcher as an inspector of state schools. If that is not political dogma, I do not know what is. The fact is that the Secretary of State does not give a damn about state education. He never has given a damn. He is not bothered about who inspects schools. He even says that the local butcher could do the job. But that is something that we shall not be able to discuss today, and in respect of which we shall not be able to put the Bill right.

Secondly, we shall not be able to discuss the fact that inspectors should be registered to inspect schools of the categories to which their qualifications relate, and that they should have relevant experience. Nursery inspectors will be able to inspect secondary schools, and secondary inspectors will be able to inspect nursery schools. What does a secondary inspector know about nursery schools? Nothing at all. Under the Bill, any inspector will be able to inspect any sector of the curriculum.

Thirdly, effective inspection of education necessitates an independent HMI, free from political control or manipulation. Inspectors must have power to report on all aspects of education policy in England and Wales. Fourthly, all inspectors should be subject to a code of practice. Fifthly, the coherence of local education authorities' provision of schools inspection will be undermined by the imposition of competition. [Interruption.] Every time I make a speech, I am pressurised. Let me assure the House that I shall try to finish very shortly.

My sixth area of concern relates to the fact that there must be safeguards to protect confidential information relating to individuals. Seventhly, inspectors should take account of the quality and effectiveness of the education provided by each school and of the resources provided for each school. My final point is that league tables made up of raw data have no place in a high-quality education service and will undermine our children's educational opportunities.

In Committee, the Government failed to pay attention to these flaws, and by using the guillotine tonight they are doing it again. We are being prevented from debating the Bill properly or altering it.

6.45 pm
Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)

In two respects, this has been a revealing debate. First, despite all the Government's charges of filibustering, Conservative Members have today spoken for 65 minutes, whereas Opposition Members have spoken for 33 minutes—half the time taken by Government Members.

Yesterday we had the spectacle of the Secretary of State filibustering in the debate on his own Bill. He made the longest speech. Today we have had an even more interesting spectacle. Although Conservative Members have taken up twice as much time as Opposition Members, most of their speeches have been in opposition to the Bill. Yesterday, half the Conservative Members who spoke opposed the Government's proposals.

But the real reason for the Government's panic last night and their decision to railroad the Bill through the House today is the intensity of the opposition to it, not only from the Opposition but from Conservative Members. In this regard, I commend the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) for his courage and eloquence. In a forensic speech, he simply destroyed the whole structure of the measure.

One of the reasons for our great regret at this guillotine motion is that we shall not have an opportunity to debate new clauses 10 and 20, which propose the establishment of an education standards commission to take over the work of the inspectorate and to supervise and direct the work of local inspectors. We are convinced that our policy for the future of inspection is robust. One of the reasons for our being so convinced is that the Secretary of State has to invent our policy every time he seeks to attack it.

A year ago, I commented on the problems of Culloden school in east London. The Culloden saga raises a very much larger question, which the Government have so far failed to address. I refer to the lack of any coherent system in England for the effective and consistent monitoring of school standards and teaching methods. I went on to speak of the haphazard national inspection arrangements, which are mirrored by even more haphazard local arrangements.

Then I spelled out the fact that Labour would establish an education standards commission, which, contrary to the canards, the inventions, of the Secretary of State, would ensure separate inspection services and would provide not only that schools were inspected on a regular basis in accordance with a set national standard but—to pick up a point made by the hon. Member for Chichester—that the best practice of authorities like the hon. Member's would be reflected in the practice of all authorities.

I do not approve of the fact that some authorities do not make provision for the proper and regular inspection of their schools. I reject that attitude, whether the authority concerned is Labour or Conservative. Under the aegis of an education standards commission, we shall ensure that every local authority has inspection arrangements that conform to a national and uniform standard. That standard will come into effect only with the approval of a national standards commission whose members are nominated by the Secretary of State and are approved by the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts, which reports to this House.

We also object to the guillotine because of the insufficient time which it gives the House to debate the measure. The Bill dismembers Her Majesty's inspectorate and reduces it in size from 480 to 175. Because it is effectively being cut by more than half, there is no way in which the inspectorate can effectively supervise the arrangements which the Secretary of State proposes for a privatised local schools inspectorate.

A point made forcefully yesterday by the right hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir T. Raison) was that, contrary to the suggestion of the Secretary of State, the new HMI will not be independent but will become the creature of the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State came close to misleading the House yesterday when he talked about independence and said that the new HMI might have to have regard to the directions of the Secretary of State. As the right hon. Member for Aylesbury pointed out, under clause 2(5) the senior chief inspector has no discretion, The Secretary of State may direct that he shall have regard to such aspects of Government policy on education or anything else as the Secretary of State determines. That, as well as the fact that the strength of the inspectorate is being reduced, undermines his integrity and independence.

There are three other aspects in which the Bill is fatally flawed. The smaller inspectorate cannot conceivably supervise the 3,000 or 4,000 local privatised inspectors who are expected to do the job. In a radio interview last year, the Secretary of State referred to a whole new system of inspection, with inspectors, all of whom will have to be registered with HMI and all of whom will have to have a little lion stamp of quality given to them by a central Her Majesty's Inspectorate. He also said that they would carry out 6,000 inspections per year.

The statement that all inspectors would have to be registered and would have to have a lion stamp of quality was untrue. It is only the heads of the privatised firms who will need to be registered with HMI. As to the rest, the Secretary of State admitted in evidence to the Select Committee that even a local butcher might do the job. What is astonishing about the Bill is that it specifies that some members of the inspection team should have no qualification.

The second fundamental flaw in the Bill is that the provider will pick the regulator. [Interruption.] This has everything to do with the guillotine. The Secretary of State wishes to truncate discussion and cannot provide an answer as to why he has come forward with a bizarre scheme under which the governing bodies of schools to be inspected will pick and pay their own inspectors.

I have asked a question of the Secretary of State three times, and he was asked it again three times on television. Each time he has failed to answer. I will ask him the question again; this will be the last chance to put it to him because of the guillotine.

Under Conservative policy for the regulation of public services, the Conservative Administration has insisted that, regulators are wholly independent and at arm's length from providers. That is why the Government insisted on appointing Oftel as a separate body from British Telecom, and why the Secretary of State voted that the Audit Commission and not local authorities should appoint auditors for local authorities. It is why the Secretary of State, as Health Secretary, refused the application of opt-out trust hospitals to be allowed to appoint their own auditors; he insisted that the Audit Commission should do that job. Yet under the Bill, the Secretary of State is allowing the provider of a service to pick and choose its own regulator.

For the seventh time, I ask the Secretary of State whether there is any parallel in the experience of the Conservative Administration for a public service provider being allowed to pick and pay its own regulator.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

For the seventh time, I will answer. This seems to be the only serious question which the hon. Gentleman can think of asking in the course of these filibustering proceedings. Our proposal is for independent inspectors, approved by HMI, who are separate from and independent of the schools. A school will seek tenders from two inspectors and will choose one to make an independent inspection.

The proposal of the Labour party is that the providers, the local authorities, should be the only people empowered to inspect. It is Labour party policy that the providers inspect the providers. That seems to be the only issue which the hon. Gentleman can think of on the Bill. He is going back to his Second Reading speech, which he has made umpteen times before. He gives no indication of which amendments he wishes to talk about. He has run out of things to raise on the measure.

Mr. Straw

Every hon. Member in the House and many people outside will have heard that complete evasion of the question which I put to the Secretary of State. He has no answer, because there is no answer. There is no parallel to the measure in the experience of the Conservative Administration. It is eccentric even in terms of the awful experience of the Administration. Never before have they slipped down the path of allowing providers to pick their own regulators. We hope that they will never do so again. We know why the Secretary of State does not want the Bill discussed and why he seeks to avoid discussing it in public. No one understands how a system under which schools individually can pick and pay their own inspectors can lead to consistent standards of inspection.

The last fundamental flaw in the measure is that there is no provision for the inspection of a school in the middle of the four-year cycle of privatised company inspections which the Bill provides for. It is as though the Secretary of State thinks that, once he has the cycle running, problems in schools will emerge only once every four years, timed conveniently to fit in with the visit of the privatised company inspectors.

Serious points have been raised by the hon. Members for Chichester for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) and for Crawley (Mr. Soames), by the right hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) and by a great many Conservative authorities. What if the authority wants to do better than the privatised system of inspection which the Bill proposes? There has been no clear answer.

All we have heard from the Secretary of State is waffle about the other powers which local authorities may have, without any explanation of why he is removing the power of local authorities to inspect schools. If he is saying that they have other powers to inspect, and that they can inspect at any time, why is it necessary to remove section 77(3) which gives them an implicit power to inspect? If they have all those powers, and if they can go in at any time to inspect, why remove that power?

I think that the Secretary of State's explanation is that he does not want local authorities to duplicate the four-yearly cycle of inspection. He is nodding assent. He cannot have it both ways. If he is saying that, despite the removal of section 77(3), local authorities have power to duplicate inspections in the four-yearly cycle, he has no reason to remove section 77(3).

The truth, which is known by the Secretary of State's officials and by every local authority, including those that are otherwise benign towards this Administration, is that the removal of section 77(3) and the restrictions in clause 15 of the Bill will mean that authorities will have neither the power to inspect between inspections nor the money to pay for those inspections.

The consequence is that the Bill will become a charter for low and lowering standards in schools. It means that, if a problem arises in a school and the authority, against the wishes of the governing body, believes that a school should be the subject of an inspection, apart from a reserve power in the hands of HMCI, nothing can happen to that school. All that will happen is that the problems will get worse and may fester for up to four years. The Secretary of State has to address that problem much more seriously.

I will tell hon. Members why the Secretary of State is so resistant. He knows that the consequence is that schools will go uninspected and unsupervised for four years—in other words, for the lifetime of children in an infants school. So why is the Secretary of State refusing to allow the local authorities to have any serious role? I will tell my hon. Friends why. It is because he has a hatred of local authorities.

We have seen that hatred in other respects, including his removal of local authorities from health authorities and of any local authority role in respect of further education. We know from the hostility that, I am afraid to say, the Secretary of State shows to Conservative authorities that he dislikes and despises the idea that locally elected people should be there to speak up for the voters about the education service in their area.

It is ironic that we are debating a guillotine motion on a Bill which dismembers Her Majesty's inspectorate after 150 years of fine service to education on the day of the publication of the last fully independent report—if the Government were elected—of Her Majesty's inspectorate. The report spells out the need for a much stronger and more effective inspectorate, for it shows that 30 per cent. of children in our primary and secondary schools continue to receive a raw deal. It shows that standards have not improved in the past year and did not improve in the previous two years.

The Government have been in power for 13 years. They have introduced three major education Bills—in 1980, 1986 and 1988. In none of those Bills did they seek to do anything to reform the ramshackle arrangements for school inspection. So, in a panic and in their dying days, the Government are pushing through this ill-considered, crackpot measure to privatise the local schools inspectorates and destroy HMI.

The Bill will lead only to lower standards. There is no mandate for it. There is no justification for railroading it through. We shall oppose it in the Lobby tonight and repeal it on entry to office.

7.1 pm

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

The purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the parents charter. It makes new arrangements for regular four-yearly inspections of all schools, reporting back to parents, and new inspections for comparative tables of performance not only in examinations but in terms of truancy and staying on rates, destination of pupils and so on.

The way in which we have conducted our debates in the past day and a half so far of our proceedings, will make the public feel that the parents charter has been debated in a curious way by the House of Commons on Report. Indeed, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) that the readers of the Grimsby Evening Telegraph will probably have a clearer notion of what changes parents will experience than some people who read part of Hansard, because, although both sides originally agreed that one day was sufficient for the Report and Third Reading of the Bill, we have found it necessary to move a timetable motion to get the proceedings back on the rails and finish them in reasonable time. That is because of what happened yesterday evening.

The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham), the shadow Leader of the House, spoke at the beginning of the debate. He was not present during the proceedings yesterday.

Dr. Cunningham

Neither was the Leader of the House.

Mr. Clarke

Neither was my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, but he was better advised about what occurred. [Interruption.] The absence of the hon. Member for Copeland yesterday is the only possible explanation for his disingenuousness. With an almost straight face, he tried several times to pretend that there was no filibuster yesterday evening. There is no point in our lingering on the matter, because the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) plainly acknowledged at 10 o'clock last night that there had been a filibuster.

We conducted our proceedings in a curious way. We began with new clause 1, which was moved by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong). At one point she agreed with me that we were discussing—

Dr. Cunningham

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Clarke

No. Let me explain. The hon. Gentleman needs to be better informed about what happened yesterday.

New clause I dealt with a narrow but undoubtedly important point about complaints. It gave rise to a three-hour debate, in which just about every aspect of inspection of schools was discussed. With great ingenuity, all those who spoke kept within order. We had a debate which, had it not been in order, might have sounded like a Second Reading debate on inspection of schools and the parents charter. It was rather reminiscent of the debate that we have just had. I am glad to say that my hon. Friends who represent West Sussex were particularly successful on both occasions in giving enormous amounts of careful and detailed attention to what is known as the West Sussex question.

Dr. Cunningham

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Clarke

I will give way in a second. It is the hon. Gentleman's time that we are taking.

I then replied to the long three-hour debate. I replied with courtesy to every hon. Member who had spoken, including the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall), who had made a long speech about a new clause which did not apply to Scotland or Dumbarton. I was repeatedly intervened upon. If the hon. Member for Copeland reads the proceedings, he will see that, when I began to realise what was going on, I declined to give way when several hon. Members sought to intervene. I said in my simple way, as my usual trusting and naive self, that I was not sure whether the Bill was being filibustered, but that I would not allow the debate to go on any longer.

I answered all the points raised in that debate. Indeed, they were the same points that the hon. Member for Blackburn has just raised. After that, it became obvious that there was a filibuster, because the next three hours went by with meandering progress through the remainder of the Bill.

Mr. Straw

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Clarke

Wait a minute. The hon. Gentleman has had his turn. I am about to refer to him. If I give way too often, I shall be accused of speaking for too long.

The hon. Member for Blackburn, who has just sought to intervene in my speech again, described what would have happened if we had not brought proceedings to an end. He said of the Government: If they had been willing to debate these matters through the night, as we were, and then to ensure that there was sufficient time next week, they would have got their Bill, but the truth is that they are now in total panic over this measure. They know that even with the guillotine tomorrow they have no chance of getting the Bill through the other place and then back here if an election is called for 9 April."—[0fficial Report, 29 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 1040.] The hon. Gentleman made it clear that he was trying to speak about the Bill as near to for ever as he could make it, and certainly into next week. He had mistakenly calculated that in that way he might prevent the Bill from completing its stages and receiving Royal Assent before the general election.

Dr. Cunningham

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mr. Clarke

In a moment. There could be no other purpose of yesterday's proceedings. I give way to the hon. Member for Copeland. I hope that he realises that he is taking part in a debate which timetables a discussion which was filibustered in a fairly ridiculous fashion by the Opposition.

Dr. Cunningham

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for eventually giving way. Ministers' definition of filibuster seems to be rather like their definition of recession—something that was not occurring. I read the statistics into the record because, like the Leader of the House, I can also read Hansard. All the interventions and speeches made by Conservative Members are on the record for the Secretary of State to see. There was no question of filibuster on this side of the House. Again today, twice as much time has been taken up by Conservative Members as Opposition Members. Who is filibustering?

Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman cannot continue to deny that there was a filibuster—although he did so with apparent success in keeping a straight face—when I have just read out his hon. Friend's description of the Opposition's filibustering purposes.

If the Opposition had told us today that they did not wish to debate the timetable motion, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House would have moved it on the nod and we could have gone straight into the debate and had six and a half hours' further discussion of the amendments. But they did not. The Opposition decided to debate the timetable motion and use up the time for debate on the Bill. The reason is that if we had had a full and proper debate yesterday until 10 pm and then had another debate today until 10 pm, we would have had far more time on Report than the Opposition ever contemplated requiring or previously asked for. I have come to the conclusion that they do not wish to proceed to most of the amendments, because they have been exhaustively considered in Committee already or because they have been raised with ingenuity in the course of yesterday's debate on new clause 1 or in today's debate.

I was looking forward to debating new clause 10, which was the only other new clause that I intended to debate. The hon. Member for Blackburn has recklessly tabled what he says is the Labour party's policy on education. I do not believe that the Labour party has a policy on education worthy of the name. He was going to debate this amazing quango that the Opposition want to set up to do all the things that the Government keep thinking of and are bringing forward now. I suspect that the reason the hon. Gentleman has kept this debate going until after 7 o'clock is that he has realised that, if he is not careful, we shall reach it and have the chance of discussing, in order, precisely what the Labour party is putting forward, the pathetic rabbit of an idea that it has been peddling for far too long in response to our reforms.

The one point that has been raised persistently today is what I call the West Sussex question—the question of the rights of entry of local authorities and how far the new statutory arrangements for comprehensive four-year inspections and reporting back to parents might exclude other rights of entry or other inspection arrangements of the kind in West Sussex.

Yesterday, two of my right hon. and hon. Friends from West Sussex joined in and raised this point. Today, two more have raised it. They are all in their places now: my hon. Friends the Members for Crawley (Mr. Soames) for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) and for Horsham (Sir P. Hordern) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins). Yesterday, they were joined by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Stevens) and today by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel), who has also raised the question of league tables.

The pretence by the hon. Member for Blackburn that my Back-Bench colleagues are in some way agreeing with the Labour party's policy and going along with his attempt to drive a coach and horses through the Bill by providing for a local authority monopoly of inspection of local authority schools is ridiculous. This is a complete and utter myth. They are raising, as supporters of the Bill, the question of what will happen to other rights of entry and other systems of inspection.

Mr. Straw


Mr. Clarke

The hon. Gentleman is anxious to use more time. Presumably he will claim that I have been making very long speeches. He need not worry. He will have plenty of opportunities to stop us reaching new clause 10. The standing commission will not be reached. He does not have to be so troubled. The Labour party's policy, which would take only a couple of minutes of our time if debated seriously, is not likely to be reached. He will find other ways of stamping on that debate.

When it comes to rights of entry, I have already repeatedly made it clear to the hon. Member for Blackburn and others that all local authorities will retain clear rights of entry where they are exercising a statutory duty or at the invitation for any purpose of the governors or the head teachers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West and my other right hon. and hon. Friends from West Sussex have asked about these rights of entry. I will not set them all out. Where statutory duties are concerned, they are very wide ranging. Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, they have a right to require entry to check up on health and safety.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This debate is about a guillotine. It has nothing to do with the various aspects of the Bill. I hope that you will rule accordingly.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

A number of hon. Members have gone very wide, including the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). None the less, I should be grateful if the Secretary of State would take account of what has been said.

Mr. Clarke

I will indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but it really is rather perverse. My hon. Friend the Member for Chichester spoke for 35 minutes, completely in order, on the West Sussex question and we had several detailed exchanges on this. If I am allowed to say that the timetable motion will still permit us to discuss this if we make good progress on the rest of the rubbish on the amendment paper, to which I do not think that the Opposition seriously intend us to move on, they will discover that there are rights of entry under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, under section 37 of the Education Reform Act 1988, under sections 2 and 4 of the Education Act 1987, and so on. Any statutory duty enables a local authority to intervene. There can also be intervention at the request of the governors. The kind of arrangements described as existing in West Sussex, as I have repeatedly said, do not appear to me to be in any way threatened by the Bill.

The comprehensive four-year inspection for which the Bill provides is quite different from the annual visits to look at particular aspects of activities carried out in West Sussex now. If the schools invite the local authorities to come in, the West Sussex inspections will continue. If a situation arises in which, for some reason, the governors of a school do not want the local authority to enter, there are still grounds, if the Acts to which I have referred are consulted—where there are serious educational problems or doubts about the application of the curriculum—on which the LEA can enter under a statutory duty and ensure that all is well.

The other effect of our proceedings which, like my hon. Friends the Members for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and for Brigg and Cleethorpes, I regret is that we will not be able to get on to those parts of the Bill that refer to the so-called league tables—comparative tables of examination results, truancy rates, staying-on rates and destinations of pupils. It has become clear yesterday and today that one anxiety of the Opposition is so to conduct those proceedings that we never get on to the discussion of that particularly attractive proposition. Until a few months ago, it was the position of Labour local authorities throughout the country and, as far as I am aware, of the official Labour party that they were against the production of such information for parents—that the whole thing should remain secret.

No, I will not have the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Boateng) shaking his finger at me. He came in to keep this show going yesterday evening and read out his constituency correspondence in order to fill up a little time in the course of one of the new clause debates. That was not a filibuster, according to the hon. Member for Copeland. It was a perfectly reasonable speech in the context of the proceedings, of the kind that the hon. Gentleman invited me to make.

The Opposition's conduct will stop us discussing league tables. That is because they used to be against them, although some of their Front-Bench Members seemed to be in favour of them, but their Back Benchers, whenever they intervened, continued to attack the whole principle of making performance information available to parents and to the public in general. That is what lies behind the conduct of these proceedings. That is why we need the timetable motion. The Opposition have discussed all the details of the Bill and talked themselves to exhaustion. There are no remaining issues that they wish to present. They do not want to discuss league tables because they think that they are attractive to the general public. They do not want to reveal the fact that they have many backwoodsmen who would still prefer to keep all this information secret.

The Opposition are in confusion over inspection and they wish to conceal the fact that they are seeking to preserve the monopoly right of local authorities to inspect their own schools. They are against outside experts, approved by Her Majesty's inspectorate, who do not work for local authorities coming in and inspecting local authority schools and reporting back to the parents. Hon. Gentlemen have therefore resorted to these procedural devices to make sure that no further constructive debate takes place.

However, we still have some time for debate. The Opposition have used up the best part of three hours by choosing to debate the timetable motion. If they wish to prove me wrong, and they have any sensible contribution left to make, they have more than ample time within which to do so if the House agrees to support the timetable motion, which the absurd antics of the Opposition yesterday have forced the Government to resort to, to enable the Bill to be dealt with properly.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 271, Noes 183.

Division No. 61] [7.19 pm
Adley, Robert Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Aitken, Jonathan Browne, John (Winchester)
Alexander, Richard Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Buck, Sir Antony
Amess, David Budgen, Nicholas
Amos, Alan Burns, Simon
Arbuthnot, James Burt, Alistair
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butler, Chris
Arnold, Sir Thomas Butterfill, John
Ashby, David Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Aspinwall, Jack Carrington, Matthew
Atkinson, David Cash, William
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baldry, Tony Chapman, Sydney
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Chope, Christopher
Batiste, Spencer Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bendall, Vivian Clark, Rt Hon Sir William
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Benyon, W. Colvin, Michael
Blackburn, Dr John G. Conway, Derek
Body, Sir Richard Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Boswell, Tim Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Bottomley, Peter Couchman, James
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Cran, James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bowis, John Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Davis, David (Boothferry)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Devlin, Tim
Brazier, Julian Dicks, Terry
Bright, Graham Dover, Den
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Durant, Sir Anthony
Dykes, Hugh Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Eggar, Tim Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Emery, Sir Peter Lord, Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard
Fallon, Michael McCrindle, Sir Robert
Farr, Sir John Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Favell, Tony MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fenner, Dame Peggy MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Maclean, David
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey McLoughlin, Patrick
Fishburn, John Dudley McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Fookes, Dame Janet Madel, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Malins, Humfrey
Forth, Eric Mans, Keith
Fox, Sir Marcus Maples, John
Freeman, Roger Marlow, Tony
French, Douglas Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fry, Peter Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Gale, Roger Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gardiner, Sir George Mates, Michael
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Maude, Hon Francis
Gill, Christopher Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Mellor, Rt Hon David
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony
Goodhart, Sir Philip Miller, Sir Hal
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Mills, lain
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Miscampbell, Norman
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Gorst, John Mitchell, Sir David
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Moate, Roger
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Monro, Sir Hector
Gregory, Conal Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Grist, Ian Morrison, Sir Charles
Ground, Patrick Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Hague, William Moss, Malcolm
Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie Moynihan, Hon Colin
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Neale, Sir Gerrard
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hannam, Sir John Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Norris, Steve
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Harris, David Oppenheim, Phillip
Haselhurst, Alan Page, Richard
Hawkins, Christopher Paice, James
Hayes, Jerry Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Hayward, Robert Patten, Rt Hon John
Heathcoat-Amory, David Pawsey, James
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Porter, David (Waveney)
Hind, Kenneth Portillo, Michael
Hordern, Sir Peter Powell, William (Corby)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Price, Sir David
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Raffan, Keith
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Rathbone, Tim
Hunt, Rt Hon David Redwood, John
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Hunter, Andrew Riddick, Graham
Irvine, Michael Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jack, Michael Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Jackson, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion
Janman, Tim Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jessel, Toby Rost, Peter
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Key, Robert Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kilfedder, James Shaw, David (Dover)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kirkhope, Timothy Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Knapman, Roger Shelton, Sir William
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knox, David Sims, Roger
Latham, Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lightbown, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Speller, Tony
Squire, Robin Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John Waller, Gary
Steen, Anthony Walters, Sir Dennis
Stern, Michael Ward, John
Stevens, Lewis Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Warren, Kenneth
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood) Watts, John
Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian Wells, Bowen
Sumberg, David Wheeler, Sir John
Tapsell, Sir Peter Whitney, Ray
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Widdecombe, Ann
Taylor, Sir Teddy Wiggin, Jerry
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilkinson, John
Thompson, Sir D. (Calder Vly) Wilshire, David
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Thorne, Neil Winterton, Nicholas
Thurnham, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wood, Timothy
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Tracey, Richard Yeo, Tim
Tredinnick, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Tellers for the Ayes:
Viggers, Peter Mr. John M. Taylor and
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Mr. Irvine Patrick.
Walden, George
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Allen, Graham Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Anderson, Donald Fatchett, Derek
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Armstrong, Hilary Fisher, Mark
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Flannery, Martin
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Flynn, Paul
Ashton, Joe Foster, Derek
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Foulkes, George
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Fraser, John
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Fyfe, Maria
Battle, John Galloway, George
Beckett, Margaret Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Bell, Stuart Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Bellotti, David George, Bruce
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Golding, Mrs Llin
Benton, Joseph Gordon, Mildred
Bermingham, Gerald Gould, Bryan
Bidwell, Sydney Graham, Thomas
Blair, Tony Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Blunkett, David Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Boateng, Paul Grocott, Bruce
Boyes, Roland Hain, Peter
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hardy, Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Harman, Ms Harriet
Caborn, Richard Haynes, Frank
Callaghan, Jim Henderson, Doug
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hinchliffe, David
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cartwright, John Home Robertson, John
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Clelland, David Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Hoyle, Doug
Corbett, Robin Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cousins, Jim Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cryer, Bob Ingram, Adam
Cummings, John Janner, Greville
Cunliffe, Lawrence Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cunningham, Dr John Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Darling, Alistair Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Kennedy, Charles
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Kilfoyle, Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Kirkwood, Archy
Dewar, Donald Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Dixon, Don Lamond, James
Dunnachie, Jimmy Leadbitter, Ted
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Leighton, Ron
Eastham, Ken Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Enright, Derek Litherland, Robert
Livingstone, Ken Parry, Robert
Livsey, Richard Patchett, Terry
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Primarolo, Dawn
Loyden, Eddie Quin, Ms Joyce
McAllion, John Redmond, Martin
McCartney, Ian Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
McCrea, Rev William Robertson, George
Macdonald, Calum A. Robinson, Geoffrey
McFall, John Rogers, Allan
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Rooker, Jeff
McLeish, Henry Rooney, Terence
Maclennan, Robert Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
McMaster, Gordon Rowlands, Ted
McNamara, Kevin Ruddock, Joan
Madden, Max Sedgemore, Brian
Mahon, Mrs Alice Sheerman, Barry
Marek, Dr John Short, Clare
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Martlew, Eric Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Maxton, John Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Meacher, Michael Snape, Peter
Meale, Alan Soley, Clive
Michael, Alun Spearing, Nigel
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute) Steinberg, Gerry
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Stott, Roger
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Straw, Jack
Moonie, Dr Lewis Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morgan, Rhodri Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Morley, Elliot Turner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wareing, Robert N.
Mowlam, Marjorie Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Mullin, Chris Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Murphy, Paul Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Nellist, Dave Winnick, David
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wray, Jimmy
O'Brien, William
O'Hara, Edward Tellers for the Noes:
O'Neill, Martin Mr. Eric Illsley and
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Mr. Thomas McAvoy.
Paisley, Rev Ian

Question accordingly agreed to.

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

  1. Report and Third Reading 41 words
  2. c1138
  3. Order of proceedings 20 words
  4. c1138
  5. Dilatory Motions 41 words
  6. c1138
  7. Private business 99 words
  8. cc1138-9
  9. Conclusion of proceedings 376 words
  10. c1139
  11. Supplemental orders 121 words
  12. c1139
  13. Saving 64 words
  14. c1139
  15. Recommittal 76 words
  16. c1139
  17. Interpretation 70 words