HC Deb 03 March 1993 vol 220 cc327-48
Mr. Don Foster

I beg to move amendment No. 104, in page 133, line 2, after 'Curriculum)', insert—

  1. (a) in subsection (1)(b) (basic curriculum), after "which" there is added—
    1. "—(i)",
  2. (b) at the end of that subsection there is inserted—
  3. "and
    1. (ii) where the school provides secondary education, includes such arrangements for vocational education or training as may be prescribed for registered pupils of prescribed ages.",
  4. (c) in subsection (2) for "subsection (1)(b)" there is substituted "subsection (1)(b)(i)", and
  5. (d)'.
The amendment looks complicated on paper, but it is simple in practice. It seeks to insert vocational education or training into the basic curriculum for secondary schools. It aims to reform the national curriculum so that it comes closer to fulfilling the description of a national curriculum that is balanced and broadly based.

During the debate in Standing Committee, hon. Members agreed with the need to give equality of esteem and parity to both academic and vocational provision, which the amendment would allow. In skeleton form, it says: such arrangements …as may be prescribed for registered pupils of prescribed ages. In the form presented, it would give the Secretary of State the power to prescribe the arrangements. In a fully developed form, I hope that it would seek to extend the role of the Schools Curriculum and Assessment Authority to advise on such arrangements for vocational educational and qualifications. Our debate in Committee covered some aspects of how the role of the SCAA could be extended to do that. The amendment is intended to address the principle of a balanced curriculum for secondary schools.

5.15 pm

In Committee, the Minister said: We want it"— the national curriculum— in place to ensure that pupils no longer lose out on the fundamental skills, knowledge and understanding needed for all aspects of their adult life. It looks forward to what they will be doing in a few years' time and provides them with the necessary equipment for that task. I am sure that the Minister had in mind not only academic work, but the world of work for pupils in secondary schools.

The Minister was particularly encouraging when he continued: We do not have closed minds and are prepared to keep the national curriculum under review."—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 2 February 1993; c. 1314.] The amendment gives the Minister an opportunity to demonstrate that he does not have a closed mind and is willing to continue the review of the national curriculum. I hope that in doing so he will give thought to the way in which he and his Conservative 'colleagues have sometimes talked about the importance of vocational education, but have rarely provided an opportunity for it fully to flower in our schools, not least because of their continued insistence on what they tend to call the gold standard of A-levels in our sixth forms. Only by breaking down the belief in the gold standard of A-levels will we be likely to move towards the parity of esteem that is frequently proposed and espoused by Conservative Members.

Amendment No. 104 will change parts of clause 2 of the Education Reform Act 1988. It will establish the context in which we should remember that clause 1 of that Act requires there to be a balanced and broadly based curriculum which—

  1. (a) promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society; and"—
significantly— prepares such pupils for the opportunities, reponsibilities and experiences of adult life. Clause 2 of the 1988 Act describes the national curriculum, but it is an incomplete description as it fails to lake account of the parts in clause 1 referring to the preparation of pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life.

I accept that amendment No. 104 would radically change the nature of the national curriculum for secondary schools. It would comprise two parts: the existing structure of subjects covered by statutory requirements relating to programmes of study, attainment targets and assessment arrangements; and, separately, vocational education or training. Although the amendment is silent on the point, both parts of the restructured national curriculum should be governed by advice from one organisation—the new SCAA.

I think that the desirability of vocational education is accepted by all hon. Members. We must acknowledge that the vast majority of our secondary schools—90 per cent.

—and more than half our primary schools have some sort of link with local industry. That has been partly promoted by actions taken by the present Government, through the introduction of the technical and vocational education initiative, and their support for compacts. We must accept that in 1983 the Government set up the Business and Technician Education Council to promote vocational education and, more recently, with cross-support from all parties, they set up the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.

Such support from the Government and other parties has led to a major development of vocational education in many schools. That has also been supported by bodies outside the House. In 1989 the CBI report "Towards a Skills Revolution" recommended that national targets should be set for the overall achievement of qualifications in vocational education and training. The Government's White Paper "Education and Training for the 21st century" warmly welcomed that CBI initiative. Even the headmasters' conference got in on the act, saying that it would welcome opportunities to be involved in the planning of vocational courses which could be appropriately taught in our schools.

In the most recent general election, the Conservative party manifesto said: We will also continue to develop new high-quality national vocational qualifications, and introduce a new post-16 diploma which recognises achievements in both vocational and academic courses. Therefore, it is beyond doubt that there is support on both sides of the House and outside the House for vocational education to become an important element in what goes on in our secondary schools. As I have already suggested, there is growing evidence that vocational education is taking place within our secondary schools.

The question, therefore, is: why am I so anxious to ensure that we have a major change in the national curriculum? It is simply that, without ensuring that vocational education is contained within the statutory framework of the national curriculum, there is no guarantee that the work will continue or develop and there is certainly no guarantee that it will have the parity of esteem that all of us have so often said that we seek.

In introducing such a requirement, I am aware that it will mean a major cut in what is contained within the national curriculum. Many hon. Members in previous debates have talked about the overloaded national curriculum and many others, teachers, parents and governors, have echoed that concern. I for one and my party are keen to see a major slimming down of the national curriculum so that we have a minimum curriculum entitlement and much greater opportunity for individuals to develop areas of expertise that are appropriate for the children in their schools.

A major revision of the national curriculum is necessary and I hope that it will take place with detailed consultation with all involved in the partnership that makes up our education service so that in due course we shall see a revised, slimmer national curriculum which includes within the statutory structure reference to vocational education.

The issue is one of principle about parity between academic and vocational qualifications. The thrust of the amendment is that all schools should fulfil the aims set out in section 1 of the Education Reform Act 1988. The amendment introduces an entitlement to vocational education and training for pupils in secondary education as an element of a balanced curriculum aimed at preparing such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. Therefore, I hope that it will gain the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House.

Mr. Pawsey

I listened with considerable interest to the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster). He advanced a powerful case for vocational education. But the problem is that the national curriculum has proved so successful that everyone now seems to want to get in on the act. The idea being advanced by the hon. Gentleman clearly has some virtues and sounds good, but I suspect that every hon. Member has his own idea of what subjects should be in the national curriculum and how much time should be allocated to them.

I noted with interest what the hon. Gentleman said about the need for schools to liaise with local industry. He was right to draw attention to the importance of the links that exist with local industry. I am well aware that secondary schools in my constituency are in close touch with local industries, to the benefit of school and industry alike.

There might, however, be a case for fewer subjects within the national curriculum. I see that I have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson), whose knowledge in this area is considerable. There is an argument that we should concentrate on a core curriculum of, say, English, maths, the sciences, history and geography, with those subjects taking up about 60 per cent. of the school timetable and with schools then deciding what time should be allocated to other subjects.

I appreciate that the principal reason given for the national curriculum during the passage of the 1988 Act was that some schools did not concentrate on the essential subjects and that much school time was being wasted on subjects which could only be described as peripheral. I am happy to say that that point had support from both sides of the House.

In the current educational climate, there does not seem to be an overwhelming requirement for such a prescriptive national curriculum as currently exists or as the hon. Gentleman would have. For example, much more information about schools and what is taking place within them is available today compared with 1987–88. For example, schools now issue reports and prospectuses. We read examination results and truancy tables. Inspections now take place every four years and we have more parent governors. There are even annual general meetings. I am therefore beginning to wonder whether the national curriculum is as necessary as it once was.

I acknowledge what the hon. Gentleman said, although I do not go along with his comments about A-levels and the gold standard. I believe passionately that A-level is the gold standard. The three-year British degree hinges on the quality of A-levels. If that is diminished, I am apprehensive about what will take place in our universities. The British degree remains the envy of the world and I do not wish to see it diminished or diluted in any way. Therefore, I hold firmly to the view that the A-level is the gold standard.

Mr. Enright

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that some form of baccalaureate, which some British children already take, is far preferable to the narrow rigidities of the A-level?

Mr. Pawsey

I have heard that argument advanced before, but I am not fully persuaded. Above all, I am concerned about tinkering with our examination structure; not all the new examinations which have been introduced have proved as successful as their authors would have wished. The A-level remains the touchstone of quality and I do not wish to see it diminished in any way.

5.30 pm
Mr. Tony Lloyd

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) on his amendment. Nothing better exemplifies the two-tier nature of our education system than the gap between vocational and so-called academic education. The remarks of the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) reveal the gulf between those who pride themselves on their traditional view and those who consider that view to be increasingly outmoded and unhelpful to almost all, if not all, young people.

It is nonsense to suggest that there should be a split between vocational and traditional academic education in a modern society. It should not be necessary—this is not meant as a criticism—for such an amendment to have any relevance in our education system or to have to mention the need to increase and to enhance the role of vocational training.

Mr. Pawsey

The hon. Gentleman's speech reminds me of a point that I meant to make, and I will do so in this brief intervention. I hope that the hon. Gentleman agrees that city technology colleges represent a way forward and provide an opportunity to bring vocational education on the scene. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that grant-maintained schools can specialise, to use the S-word? If they choose to specialise in technology, does that not represent a major step down the route that the hon. Gentleman favours?

Mr. Lloyd

I am afraid not. Schools are ghettoised, and then the claim is made that CTCs provide a different, better type of education. Certainly it is more expensive, but CTCs have not worked out too well. Their results show that they are not able consistently to claim that they are a means of enhancing technological education.

It is ridiculous to suggest also that many young people should be denied access to a vocational or technological strand in their education. Some years ago, the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) taught at Manchester grammar school, where it was the practice to subdivide boys at an early age into potential classicists, scientists and linguists. It is absurd to believe that young people can be segmented in that way, and destructive of their educational potential.

Mr. Pawsey

I remind the hon. Gentleman that his party did much to deny opportunities to our nation's children. As he knows, there used to be a tripartite system, comprising technical, grammar and secondary modern schools.

Mr. Jamieson

That was under Shirley Williams.

Mr. Pawsey

Yes, Shirley Williams—and the hon. Lady whose constituency I temporarily forget.

Mr. Jamieson


Mr. Pawsey

No, not Finchley. The hon. Gentleman thinks quickly, but not quickly enough.

Shirley Williams and the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett) were the twin architects of the present comprehensive system. I do not believe that it has assisted education in the long term. The old tripartite system, which we successfully exported to Germany and which worked so well there, was the best in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. That was a very long short intervention.

Mr. Lloyd

I can only agree, Mr. Morris. It is fair to place on record the fact that Lady Thatcher closed more grammar schools than anyone else. Legislation is on the statute book to be used not so much as a mandate as at the discretion of the Secretary of State. It was Lady Thatcher who destroyed the system that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth holds dear.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

The hon. Gentleman referred to the tremendously good school at which I had the privilege to teach between 1960 and 1965. He was critical of Manchester grammar school because at that time it operated rigorous entry selection and streaming procedures, and a division was made between those who were to specialise in the classics, mathematics, or languages.

The hon. Gentleman rather overstated the downside. The school is now independent because the Opposition, when in government, destroyed the old grant system—more's the pity. However, in those past days the school produced some superbly and broadly educated people—some of whom, I believe, entered the ranks of the civil service: for all I know, they may be sitting nearby and listening to this debate. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will concede that his criticism was a little ill judged and that Manchester grammar school produced well educated and rounded people. Nevertheless, I understand his basic point.

Mr. Lloyd

There may not be such a huge difference between the hon. Member and myself. I was making the point that it would be unacceptable at Manchester grammar school and most private schools to go down the road that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth favours, and adopt the tripartite system—under which those whom the hon. Gentleman thinks are worthy would receive a grammar school education, those who are considered less worthy would recieve a technical education and those dismissed as educationally irrelevant would be given a secondary modern education.

Representing as I do a constituency that will operate the selective system, and remembering as I do the old tripartite system and all the problems of ghettoisation under it, I know that there can be no returning. We must find means of producing the rounded education for all young people that the hon. Member for Norwich, North urges upon me. I hope that he will urge it upon the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, who is chairman of the Conservative Back-Bench education committee.

Mr. Pawsey

I am a little puzzled by the hon. Gentleman's views of the extraordinary word "ghettoisation". I do not know whether he takes credit for it or whether it is imported from the United States—in either case, I do not like it, and it is inaccurate. The hon. Gentleman is right to refer to three strands, but each strand provided the right type of education for the particular child entering it. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am the product of an elementary school and a technical school. I may not have enjoyed the privileged education experienced by the hon. Gentleman, but the tripartite system worked. I regret that it does not still operate in the United Kingdom. It was abolished and sacrificed on the altar of comprehensive education.

Mr. Lloyd

That is where the hon. Gentleman and I disagree, and he disagrees with a number of his colleagues. The tripartite system did not work. It failed far too many of our young people, and continues to do so in some parts of the country. In the spirit of the amendment, we are seeking to abolish the silly and arbitrary divisions that were built over the years between academic education and so-called non-academic education in vital areas of vocational education.

Mr. Pawsey


Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, I have hardly progressed further than my opening remarks because of interventions.

Vocational education is important not only to individual learning but to the nation's future. If we fail our young people by neglecting to provide them with an adequate vocational education, we shall have begun to fail the nation.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred to the concept of the A-level as the "gold standard" of our system. Like other gold standards, it has become devalued in itself, and in itself it devalues other qualifications. As long as we have a Secretary of State who is committed to that gold standard, while paying lip service to the idea of equivalence between A-levels and other qualifications—national vocational qualifications in particular—and as long as the A-level examination continues to be paraded as the primary aim of our academic system, NVQs will be devalued. That is not acceptable in a modern society which is trying to promote the values of vocational education.

The NVQ system is important. It is no longer merely an experiment; it should be applauded in its own right, as a valuable stepping stone. Of course, if we are to transcend both the present NVQ system and the present A-level system, we must provide a qualifications base that is excellent in itself, allowing young people to aspire to the highest standards. We must maintain what Conservative Members believe exists in the A-level system—although I doubt that it does. We must also ensure that all young people can aspire to the same high level of attainment. If we do not do that, we shall fail the majority through our pursuit of the vacuous view that the minority—the academic elite—are more important than all the rest.

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea)

Surely A-levels and NVQs are not incompatible. We have encouraged students to take a couple of A-levels and some AS-levels to broaden the base of their education. There is no reason why the same should not apply to NVQs. Heads and class teachers in a number of schools are now encouraging pupils not to go for the traditional three A-levels—or even for four or five, in the case of high fliers—but to spread their education in a way that I think we would all favour. We need first to give such an educational spread the blessing and imprimatur of Government and Parliament, and then to educate employers and higher education establishments so that they accept such qualifications.

Mr. Lloyd

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman's objectives, but I am not sure that such methods would achieve the result that he wants. The AS-level system has not been a tremendous success; it has not been adopted in many areas, and is still viewed with suspicion—or, at any rate, is seen as less than relevant.

I doubt whether it is feasible to combine the A-level system—which is a specialising and, in my opinion, very narrowing system—with the NVQ system, which is supposedly intended to create a broad educational plateau. Such a combination would be fraught with difficulties. I am not at all happy about the aim of the A-level system.

One of my children is now faced with a choice of the subjects that she will study next year if she is able to continue in education after GCSEs. She is being forced fairly young to reject a good many options. What matters is not which subjects she chooses to take, but the subjects that she must drop. The A-level syllabus is forcing her to narrow her educational opportunities while still relatively young: in that regard, the system is fundamentally flawed.

It is ridiculous to claim that we are trying to produce 18-year-old specialists. For instance, three language A-levels do not constitute a sufficient qualification to allow a young person to work as a linguist, although they may be an acceptable qualification for those wishing to read for a language degree. There is almost no merit in the idea of trying to achieve such a degree of specialisation at that age: indeed, it has been rejected by a good many countries, in which it is regarded as a very silly way of trying to educate young people. At present, the necessary educational breadth does not exist.

5.45 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Enright) suggested the introduction of an international baccalaureate—a broadly based and challenging qualification that could raise all young people's aspirations. I think that that suggestion is along the right lines: it would allow the blending of courses and interests recommended by the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis). If that is indeed the hon. Gentleman's intention, we are on common ground; but the present arrangement, in which an elitist academic A-level system exists alongside a non-elitist, devalued system for those who pursue a vocational line, is far from helpful.

The Secretary of State introduced some semantic confusion by describing the key stage 3 English testing as a means of resolving the problems of illiteracy. Yesterday, at Question Time, he mentioned a report according to which up to a third of young people leaving school at 16 and going on to further education colleages need remedial help in understanding English—after 14 years of Conservative government. The very fact that the Secretary of State chose to highlight that finding is an indictment of both the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors; but he went on to say that the testing involved in key stage 3 would resolve the problems, which is a sign of the educational illiteracy of Ministers who are charged with looking after young people's education.

It is clear that the whole key stage 3 debacle has been driven by an ideological approach to education. The Secretary of State has decided that he wants to take on and beat the teaching profession for ideological reasons, rather than being prepared to listen to the arguments of those involved directly with pupils and, in his search for consensus, to establish a broader base for the education of both the under-16s and the over-16s.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster): if we are to bring about the revolution that education needs, we must begin to seek consensus in earnest. A consensual approach must be adopted not only by the Opposition parties—whose opinion is shared by the overwhelming majority in educational circles—but by the Government. We must seek to break down the artificial barriers that fail so many young people, and begin to replace them with the methods and mechanisms that will ensure access to the best possible qualifications for all our young people.

Mr. Pawsey

Conservative Members are enjoying the hon. Gentleman's speech—although I shall not comment on its content.

The tripartite system we exported to Germany actually works. Everyone says so: people even say that the German economic miracle is a result of the country's education system. If it works so well there, why should we not import it back into the United Kingdom, and make it work here?

Mr. Lloyd

There is a simple answer to that. The Germans do not make the mistake of devaluing certain forms of educational achievement.

Mr. Pawsey

Why should we do so?

Mr. Lloyd

As long as we retain a system that reifies such a devaluation—a system that is hierarchical from beginning to end—those who have failed at the various stages involved in that system will inevitably be regarded as failures, both by themselves and by society generally. We must get away from that approach. We must introduce the concept of comprehensive education not only in the institutional sense but in the broadest sense. We must provide access to education for all young people.

The German experience is especially interesting. Of course we should begin to value technological education. We are—perhaps I should say, we were—a technological nation, but we devalue, for example, the engineer. It is a matter of record that engineers leaving our universities are not offered the same rates of pay or opportunities as others. Not many engineers make their way into the board rooms of industry—

Mr. Jamieson

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Lloyd

May I finish this point? A liberal education is a perfectly reasonable form of education and fits people for many things in life, but those who train as engineers should also be able to make their way into the boardrooms.

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) said that we should return to the tripartite system. If there is supposed to be pressure for a return to that system, with testing at 11 and the reintroduction of secondary moderns, why are parents not calling for the return of selection?

It is a pity that the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) is not here, because he could recount the experience of 1984, when a Tory council tried to reintroduce the 11-plus, which caused a massive protest from Tory voters in the borough. They strongly resisted the return of the 11-plus, because they have an excellent comprehensive system which they do not wish to destroy.

Mr. Lloyd

My hon. Friend makes an important point. When a return to selective education has been suggested, it has usually been resisted not only by parents but often by Conservative councillors, who are not persuaded of the benefit of such a change. I speak with some feeling about selective education because, as I said, the area in which I live retains that system. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth has a similar experience. It is a bad system, which fails far too many people.

During our debates, it has been constructive to note that the schools which have so far sought to opt out have not been the comprehensive schools in the other boroughs of Greater Manchester but the secondary moderns in Trafford. They are so dissatisfied with their second-rate treatment from the Conservative local education authority that they want to get out of its control. One school in particular, not in my constituency, has successfully balloted to opt out on the specific propsectus that it will seek a change of status from secondary modern to comprehensive. It believes that it is the only way it can attract young people in sufficient numbers to remain viable in competition with other schools in the area.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) said, there is no demand across the board for a tripartite system. I do not want to put words into the mouths of Conservative Members, but I did not detect a massive groundswell among them in favour of its return. It is antithetical to what the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) was saying. He may wish to say that institutions are prepared to accept that system, but it was not in keeping with the spirit of his remarks. Having mentioned him, I shall give way.

Mr. Bowis

We are seeking common ground, but uniformity is not necessarily the best way forward. If the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) would give a little on the uniformity of the structure of the school system, he would do much more for education. We seek a great variety of schools—city technology colleges, grant-maintained schools, magnet schools, single-sex schools, co-educational schools, Church schools, nondenominational schools and others. His party tends to want one type of school for all children; he could give way on that uniformity.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) made an excellent speech, suggesting that it is perhaps time to examine the national curriculum to ascertain where we should be clawing it in to allow a greater range of teaching over and above the core. That would lead to the measures on which this debate is centred.

Mr. Lloyd

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that that is paramount nonsense. We do not want to institutionalise the divisions between schools to prevent access to those who are perfectly capable and should be allowed to benefit from the opportunities available. Of course there should be variety in our education system, but variety driven by a coalition of parents, the young people themselves, teachers, the professionals to whom we entrust the future of our young people and even, dare I say it, institutions such as local education authorities. Those authorities can structure careers services, which can give the quality advice, which youngsters are clearly not getting at the moment. We should be tackling the failure rates in, for example, further education, as set out in a recent Audit Commission report.

Of course there should be variety within our system. Individual children have different aptitudes and orientations and we should welcome that fact and glory in that diversity. However, the way in which we respond to that diversity should not, as so often happens now, exclude children from poor backgrounds or those from the inner cities and ethnic minorities. They do not have access to the opportunities to which they are entitled.

Mr. Don Foster

The hon. Gentleman made an important point when he chided the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) about the desire to institutionalise divisions. Is not the debate about trying to break down those divisions? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a belief that only academic work is important? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Conservative Members are saying no. I accept that some have been involved in the development of vocational education, but it is still not given parity of esteem, which is the crucial issue. It is extremely important that even children who are following highly academic courses have an opportunity to be involved in vocational education, which is why the amendment is vital. We want parity of esteem between academic and vocational work, instead of the current division in attitude among Conservative Members between vocational and academic qualifications.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) is absolutely right. Such parity of esteem would apply in our better public schools, because the idea that expensive public schools would fail their pupils by denying them access to vocational education is ridiculous. Parents would not tolerate that or be prepared to fork out money for such schooling.

We are prepared to seek consensus with those who genuinely want to break down the divisions and who want the parity of esteem which exists in Germany, which the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth mentioned. However, we cannot seek consensus with those whose actions, if not their motivation, merely institutionalise the divisions and deny some young people access to vocational and non-vocational education in our publicly funded system. That is the reality of education today, which is why it is so important that the amendment is accepted—and why the Labour party will vote for it.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

I am grateful for the opportunity to say a brief word about the amendment. I have been interested to listen to the debate so far, and occasionally I have almost experienced a meeting of minds with the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd). At the beginning of his speech he talked about the importance of emphasising vocational education. There I totally agree with him, and with the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), who also stressed the importance of vocational education when he moved the amendment. I suspect that my hon. Friends accept those remarks.

Despite the Manchester connection, however, the meeting of minds does not usually last long. The hon. Member for Stretford suffers from a failure of imagination. Like so many Opposition Members, he seems unable to visualise any kind of education other than comprehensive education supervised by local education authorities. As I have said before, there are many good comprehensive schools and local education authorities—but the Opposition suffer from a failure of imagination, in that they are always coming back to defend the status quo. They refuse to accept the excellent points made by my hon. Friends the Members for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) and others. It is that failure of imagination that causes the Opposition problems.

6 pm

I hope that at least we agree on the funadamental importance of vocational education, as emphasised by the hon. Members for Stretford and for Bath. I, too, want to emphasise its importance, but I differ with the hon. Member for Bath and feel that his amendment is wrong. He gave the game away himself when he argued at some length that, in spite of recent Government moves to simplify and compress the national curriculum, it still covered too wide a range of subjects and activities. Indeed it does—so I support my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth in his desire to move further in the opposite direction from that suggested by the hon. Member for Bath. As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman's idea—I shall give way to him in a moment if I am misunderstanding it—is an ever-expanding national curriculum designed to achieve some kind of hypothetical parity of esteem.

I am highly suspicious when people start talking about parity of esteem in education. Such phrases are traps into which politicians fall. They are totally meaningless.

Mr. Foster


Mr. Thompson

If I am misunderstanding the hon. Gentleman, I will give way to him and then respond to what he says.

Mr. Foster

If the hon. Gentleman has difficulty understanding phrases such as "parity of esteem" he should talk to many of his hon. Friends who have used that phrase in speeches. It has also been used in many documents issued by the Conservative party. The concept of parity of esteem is well accepted by the vast majority of people in the education world. It makes us sad that the hon. Gentleman sees vocational education as merely another little subject by itself to be squeezed into the already jam-packed national curriculum. The simple point that I was making to the hon. Gentleman and to his right hon. and hon. Friends is that the national curriculum is already massively overloaded and allows none of that diversity in individual schools that Conservative Members want to see. It is perfectly possible significantly to diminish—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. This is a very long intervention.

Mr. Thompson

I think that I have picked up the general drift of the hon. Gentleman's intervention, without his pursuing it further. He has—possibly deliberately—misunderstood what I said about parity of esteem. Whenever my hon. Friends refer to parity of esteem I always agree with them, because they are using the phrase correctly.

However, the hon. Gentleman has again said something with which I agree—that the national curriculum is overloaded. Some problems have arisen, and the debate between the Government, the local authorities and the schools is valid. We should move further towards slimming down the national curriculum—the Government have already made moves in that direction, and some of my hon. Friends have referred to it. Speaking for myself, and from my experience as a teacher—

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Thompson

May I finish my point first? I hope that we shall have a meeting of minds in a moment.

We should be moving in the direction of basic standards, not only those required for further progress in academic education but also as they are required for movement into vocational education. The hon. Member for Bath, with the best of intentions, has introduced a red herring into the debate, and his amendment is ill advised.

Mr. Lloyd


Mr. Thompson

Despite the pressure of time, I shall give way to the hon. Member for Stretford, because I referred to his speech.

Mr. Lloyd

The debate may be more important than people imagine, because there is clearly much more of a meeting of minds than might have been expected. Of course we agree with the concept of basic standards, especially when the hon. Gentleman explains that basic standards are not seen in terms of academic subjects alone —that is most important. May I put him on the spot and ask him a question? He is right to talk about the need to slim down the national curriculum. Can he tell us what movement the Government have made in that direction? We have yet to detect any. That is not a flippant question; it is serious. If we genuinely thought that the Government were moving, that would be a matter for rejoicing.

Mr. Thompson

I have detected certain signs of movement from the Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to elaborate on that when he responds to the debate. [Interruption.] There is a meeting of minds here, because I would press my hon. Friend to go even further in slimming down the national curriculum—so let us not have a disagreement across the Floor of the House about that. I suspect that if he did so we could move away from some of the stresses and strains in schools of which hon. Members on both sides of the House are aware.

Mr. Win Griffiths


Mr. Thompson

No, pressure of time prevents me from giving way now.

The amendment of the hon. Member for Bath, although moved with the best of intentions, is ill advised. If there is basic education in elementary mathematics, that will lead pupils on not only to academic progress in mathematics but to technical and vocational education. If there is basic education in English, spelling and grammar —I use those terms proudly—that will help pupils to move on into clerical activity, secretarial work and more advanced forms of management training. Basic language skills, too, will be of tremendous value when pupils move on to vocational training of one sort or another.

There is a meeting of minds in the House and elsewhere on the desperate importance to the nation of encouraging more and better vocational education—I know that the Government seek to do that in all sorts of ways which are not the subject of the debate. Nevertheless, I shall finish now—I wanted to be brief—by saying that the amendment is ill advised and that I hope that my hon. Friends will support the Government and reject it.

Mr. Stephen Byers (Wallsend)

I had not intended to speak in the debate, but so many important points have been raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House that I decided to make a brief contribution to a useful discussion on an important issue.

One of the reasons why our education system has been seen as a failure compared with those of other countries is the division between vocational and academic education. All hon. Members want that division to be removed, and in the past few years steps have been taken in an effort to remove it. It was initiatives by local education authorities which began the process. The Government seized upon the idea and introduced a technical and vocational education initiative in the mid-1980s, making funds available for local authorities to bid for to provide vocational courses in secondary schools. Many authorities had already begun that process, but they welcomed the prospect of Government financial support to carry it forward.

It is interesting to compare our approach with that of Germany, for example, where the academic/vocational divide is not seen in terms of academic education being reserved for the most able pupils while vocational education is for the less able. That does not happen in Germany, where the most able children feel free to embark on vocational courses. There is often a real mix between the academic and the vocational, and one side is not seen as having greater priority than the other. That is one reason why Opposition Members would like to look closely at the German system so that we can perhaps develop in that direction.

Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)

I was a little puzzled when the hon. Gentleman began to elaborate on the division in education in Britain and then praised Germany. In Germany there are separate schools for academic and technological education. I was interested in the drift of the hon. Gentleman's argument because one of the major problems in Britain which is almost unique in Europe is our adhesion—in my view, misguided—to comprehensive education. I suspect that, to achieve the best technological and academic education opportunities, we shall have to follow the German model and abandon comprehensive education.

Mr. Byers

That is an important subject which I should like to discuss, but I want to give the Minister sufficient time to reply to the debate. I am mindful that the Minister wishes to speak for a particular length of time.

I was seeking to point out that, although in Britain the academic is seen to be the preserve of the most able while the less able follow vocational training, in Germany that division does not exist. The most able students often follow vocational training. Comprehensive education can include academic and vocational training and the most able and the less able students can choose either of those options.

We have to take a radical approach to A-levels, which totally dominate our education system and all too often are the dead hand on curriculum development. One reason for our failure has been the gold standard of the A-level. The Government alone stand by the A-level. Everyone else is saying that it has to be changed.

We also need to address the structure of Government. It is not appropriate to have a Department for Education but for training to be the responsibility of the Department of Employment. The time has come to have one Department responsible for education and training. That would be a positive lead at the highest level to demonstrate that there is no division between education and training and that they should be treated as of equal value. I welcome the recent appointment of a permanent secretary at the Department for Education whose background is mostly in the Department of Employment; that may herald a drift towards bringing training into the remit and responsibilities of the Department for Education.

I wanted to make a short speech and I am sure that we shall listen with interest to the Minister's reply.

Mr. Boswell

There are occasions when despite all the sound and fury there is an element of consensus in the House, and I have listened with interest to the debate. That is not to say that we agree on every point, but it has been possible to pick up certain strands of agreement.

To summarise, we heard characteristically trenchant and well-informed speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) and for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson). We also heard a characteristically magisterial intervention of the kind that we have become used to expecting from my hon Friend the Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis). We had a new entrant, a former old lag of our Department, if I may put it that way, in the shape of my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) who also made a powerful intervention. They will forgive me if I do not speak at great length on their speeches and direct my remarks—though not confine them—to those made by the Opposition.

Listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), who moved the amendment that I shall invite my colleagues to resist, it occurred to me that he speaks with a measure of dogged reasonableness and is always anxious to include and please. One might say, in the motto of a well-known Sunday newspaper, that in his prescription all human life is there. Not only is he conscious of the heavy load already in the national curriculum; he wants to add to it and, indeed, strip away from it in order to add to it. I cannot help feeling that in Committee and on Report he has functioned as the agony aunt of the Committee—what one might term at the least charitable, which I am not often, as "Banal of Bath".

6.15 pm

We listened to a long and characteristically passionate oration from the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd). For one awful moment I thought that, in view of the number of propositions he was setting up, I would have to encapsulate him as, "Aunt Sally from Stretford" because he was talking about "ghettoisation" and ideological agendas. He dragged in the entirely spurious suggestion that the controversy about key stage 3 testing was regarded as ideological on our side, which I emphatically deny. That did not add to his argument; nevertheless, I listened to the substance of what he said.

I turn to a point that was rehearsed across both sides of the House and fairly extensively in Committee. I noted the concern of hon. Members on both sides of the House about the heavy load in the existing national curriculum and their inference that it might need to be lightened. The hon. Member for Stretford should acknowledge that we have already taken steps to introduce more flexibility at key stage 4 and to reduce some of the requirements to accommodate particular circumstances.

We are debating the new School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and its role, which we consider most important. If there are any doubts, the national curriculum is not set in stone. That is not immediately to be interpreted as suggesting that it is to be totally and radically changed every so often at whim, but the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority will be charged with the duty of analysing it, reviewing the subject heads and seeing whether it can be improved. That will be a continuing process of rolling review which I am sure all hon. Members will welcome.

I now turn to an issue where there is particular difference between the hon. Member for Stretford and myself. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth struck back strongly on the attitude to A-levels. If it is necessary for people to come out, as it were, I was obliged to specialise at the age of 14; I regretted it at the time and continued to regret it, and to some extent have found ways of rowing back. That was not the normal structure of A-levels and people would not be driven to that course until the age of 16, but I regard it as over-narrow and we are addressing it within the national curriculum.

The hon. Gentleman was rather uncharitable about AS-levels. There were more than 50,000 entries for AS-levels last year. Indeed, one of them was one of my daughters, who received a very acceptable grade. One fifth of all A-level entrants take an AS-level as part of their entry. It is mistaken to set up an Aunt Sally suggesting that we are not interested in qualifications outside A-levels. It is important to have a standard to which others can be related. I do not accept that it devalues the system of vocational qualifications. The hon. Gentleman did not answer the question. "Devalued from what?" as though we had set a vocational standard and then succeeded in rubbishing it.

Mr. Walden

It seems to me that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy, not in my hon. Friend the Minister's position, but in that of others regarding A-levels. My view is that there is a wide intellectual consensus, which I share, on the need to broaden A-levels, perhaps on the French model. I am strongly against broadening A-levels at this juncture because I have no confidence in the ability of the education industry to do that without taking the opportunity of lowering expectations, yet again, across the board. I have no confidence in its ability to produce the high, broad expectations which exist in the baccalaureat in France.

Mr. Boswell

I have noted my hon. Friend's remarks carefully. I shall now explain to the House how we see ourselves being able to set up alternative measures and alternative routes.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

The intervention by the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) is important because it encapsulates some of the attitudes shown in this debate. Does the Minister agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said? It is important for the Minister to place on record his agreement or disagreement with the hon. Gentleman's proposition.

Mr. Boswell

I am slightly surprised that the hon. Gentleman wants me to answer multiple or even dual-choice questions. However, I will give him an answer. The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham is that any change in A-levels, if not carefully considered and properly argued through, would not necessarily maintain standards. We have already opened up the possibility of acceptable, more narrowly focused studies through AS-levels.

On the narrow point of the amendment, which deals with technical education in schools—

Mr. Foster

Vocational education.

Mr. Boswell

It was a slip of the tongue. The hon. Gentleman's intervention enables me to make the remark that I had intended to make. Despite his understandable enthusiasm for vocational education, the amendment does not mention the word "technology". I do not know whether technology is included in vocational education, as the hon. Gentleman sees it.

Mr. Don Foster

I am sure that the Minister is well aware that technology is currently included in the national curriculum.

Mr. Boswell

I am most certainly aware of that precise point. I do not see how, if the hon. Gentleman seeks to slim down the curriculum for the sake of vocational concerns and to safeguard the existing technology commitment, he would be able to deal with, for example, modern foreign languages. If the hon. Gentleman is simply saying that the national curriculum, as delivered up to key stage 4, should require a broad education which moves towards acceptable pathways to vocation and training in the future, and if that curriculum is to include science, technology, mathematics and other subjects which may be said to have a vocational handle—just as communications skills and English have a vocational handle—I would not disagree much with him. However, we are not convinced of the need to prescribe vocational education as such as part of the national curriculum.

I repeat to the House that the Education Reform Act 1988 already requires that the curriculum of a school should prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. The hon. Member for Bath rightly and fairly referred to the technical and vocational education initiative and to our reform of the Business and Technician Education Council, a subject with which I shall deal later.

I remind the hon. Gentleman that the curriculum is intended to cover the range of knowledge, skills and understanding commonly accepted as necessary for a broad and balanced curriculum for the individual pupil, as set out in the 10 foundation subjects. By the age of 14—there is no dissent on this point—it is entirely appropriate for young people to gain some experience of prevocational education. I do not want the House to confuse that with strictly vocational education. In most cases, one would anticipate that vocational education or the further stage of education would take place in the institutions for which I am responsible, after the compulsory school age and in some other provision. We do not need to confine the provision to being a strictly vocational education at that stage.

As we move into the 14 to 16-year-old group and to key stage 4, we build on the sense of anticipation of the future—the motivation to move into the world of work. That is why we introduced the element of flexibility to which I referred. I shall come back to that point because it is a strong part of our concern and of my personal commitment.

I shall now deal with the national curriculum because hon. Members have referred to the attainments of pupils in terms of basic skills and to the failure of too many to achieve them during the period of compulsory schooling. Hon. Members have referred to the fact that many people now in further education have to have remedial education. I am not satisfied with that and I am determined that we should improve on that position, although it is by no means an easy task and it requires a variety of approaches.

We need the national curriculum to start the process. As I said to the hon. Member for Bath, the national curriculum provides for science and technology from year one right through to year 11. That is not mirrored in the curriculum of any other European state of which 1 am aware. The big process, which we are now taking forward with the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, has been a major success. Five years ago, it was barely an aspiration. Many people said that it could not be done or that it would not be successful.

We are now teaching some science and technology to every child between the ages of five and nine, and to every child between 11 and 14 in maintained schools. We shall carry the process through to ensure that all pupils between 15 and 16 in those schools receive a balanced education relevant to future needs and set in a clear overall framework. We want to raise teachers' and parents' expectations for children.

I shall now deal with the question of what happens after compulsory schooling, which is an area of direct and day-to-day concern to me, and I shall deal with the issue of parity of esteem. With the greatest respect to the House, the parity of esteem that we do not seek is that to which we give lip service here. The real parity of esteem is that perceived by employers, by admissions tutors and by admissions officers in higher education. They are the people who are making judgments on the basis of what is offered to them.

There are already encouraging signs of movement towards non-traditional entry routes and towards a more flexible approach, for example, to mature students. I give one example: already 20 per cent. of students entering higher education for engineering degrees have had non-traditional pathways into that education. There is growing interaction between higher national diplomas and people moving to degree qualifications.

As has been said, we are establishing a structure of vocational qualifications to parallel A-levels and to provide two alternative routes. The national vocational qualifications that are mainly talked about partake of specific vocational skills. There are also general NVQs, which are being piloted and developed. I have looked at. the GNVQ curriculum for business studies and I have compared it with the typical A-level in business studies. It is an attractive alternative, although my decision is not what matters: what is important is what is taught and what is available to employers to consider. I remind the House that GNVQ at level 3 is to be equivalent to two A-levels, which is an important point of standard. It is not the qualification but the level at which it is taken which is critical.

That approach is to be accompanied by a far more hands-on and direct effort to give proper career advice to those who are about to leave their compulsory school years as to whether they should stay within the schools sector or move elsewhere. There is no false antithesis here. Some of the biggest deliverers of A-levels, which are rubbished by some hon. Members including the hon. Member for Stretford, are the further education colleges, so they have an interest in the delivery of, and proper use for, the A-level system.

Alongside that, we are offering for the first time—it is a breakthrough which will contribute to the objective that we all seek of building up the effective parity of the scheme—a coherent structure of vocational qualifications. It is a comprehensive structure, if I may use that phrase, in that it covers all the major curriculum areas. It is also a comprehensible area in the sense that young people wanting to move on towards the world of work and to get acceptable vocational qualifications, with a general educational element and some core skills that they can use in their future careers, will have something to go for. It is not a question of devaluing, removing or cheapening A-level or reducing standards, but—

It being half past Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question already proposed from the Chair, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 245, Noes 275.

Division No. 169] [6.30 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Adams, Mrs Irene Cann, Jamie
Ainger, Nick Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Chisholm, Malcolm
Allen, Graham Clapham, Michael
Alton, David Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Armstrong, Hilary Clelland, David
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Ashton, Joe Coffey, Ann
Austin-Walker, John Cohen, Harry
Barnes, Harry Connarty, Michael
Barron, Kevin Corbett, Robin
Battle, John Corbyn, Jeremy
Bayley, Hugh Cousins, Jim
Bell, Stuart Cryer, Bob
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, Andrew F. Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Benton, Joe Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Dafis, Cynog
Berry, Dr. Roger Dalyell, Tam
Betts, Clive Darling, Alistair
Blair, Tony Davidson, Ian
Blunkett, David Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Boyce, Jimmy Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Boyes, Roland Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Bradley, Keith Denham, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dewar, Donald
Burden, Richard Dixon, Don
Byers, Stephen Donohoe, Brian H.
Caborn, Richard Dowd, Jim
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Dunnachie, Jimmy
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Eagle, Ms Angela
Eastham, Ken Madden, Max
Enright, Derek Mahon, Alice
Etherington, Bill Mallon, Seamus
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mandelson, Peter
Fatchett, Derek Marek, Dr John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fisher, Mark Martlew, Eric
Flynn, Paul Maxton, John
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Meacher, Michael
Foster, Don (Bath) Meale, Alan
Foulkes, George Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fraser, John Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Fyfe, Maria Milburn, Alan
Gapes, Mike Miller, Andrew
Garrett, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
George, Bruce Morgan, Rhodri
Gerrard, Neil Morley, Elliot
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Godsiff, Roger Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Golding, Mrs Llin Mowlam, Marjorie
Gordon, Mildred Mudie, George
Graham, Thomas Mullin, Chris
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Murphy, Paul
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Grocott, Bruce O'Hara, Edward
Gunnell, John Olner, William
Hain, Peter Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hall, Mike Parry, Robert
Hanson, David Pendry, Tom
Harvey, Nick Pickthall, Colin
Henderson, Doug Pike, Peter L.
Heppell, John Pope, Greg
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hinchliffe, David Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hoey, Kate Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Prescott, John
Hood, Jimmy Primarolo, Dawn
Hoon, Geoffrey Purchase, Ken
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Quin, Ms Joyce
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Randall, Stuart
Hoyle, Doug Raynsford, Nick
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Redmond, Martin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Reid, Dr John
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Hutton, John Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Illsley, Eric Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Ingram, Adam Rogers, Allan
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Rooker, Jeff
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Rooney, Terry
Jamieson, David Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Janner, Greville Ruddock, Joan
Johnston, Sir Russell Sedgemore, Brian
Jones, leuan Wyn (Ynys Mon) Sheerman, Barry
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Short, Clare
Jowell, Tessa Simpson, Alan
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Skinner, Dennis
Keen, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Khabra, Piara S. Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Kilfoyle, Peter Snape, Peter
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Soley, Clive
Leighton, Ron Spearing, Nigel
Lewis, Terry Spellar, John
Litherland, Robert Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Loyden, Eddie Steinberg, Gerry
Lynne, Ms Liz Stott, Roger
McAllion, John Strang, Dr. Gavin
McAvoy, Thomas Straw, Jack
McCartney, Ian Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Macdonald, Calum Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
McFall, John Tipping, Paddy
McKelvey, William Turner, Dennis
Maclennan, Robert Tyler, Paul
McMaster, Gordon Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
McWilliam, John Wallace, James
Walley, Joan Worthington, Tony
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Wray, Jimmy
Wicks, Malcolm Wright, Dr Tony
Wigley, Dafydd Young, David (Bolton SE)
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen) Tellers for the Ayes:
Wilson, Brian Mr. Archy Kirkwood and
Winnick, David Mr. Simon Hughes.
Wise, Audrey
Adley, Robert Duncan, Alan
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Duncan-Smith, Iain
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Dunn, Bob
Amess, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Ancram, Michael Dykes, Hugh
Arbuthnot, James Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Elletson, Harold
Ashby, David Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Aspinwall, Jack Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Evennett, David
Baldry, Tony Faber, David
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fabricant, Michael
Bates, Michael Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Batiste, Spencer Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Bellingham, Henry Fishburn, Dudley
Bendall, Vivian Forman, Nigel
Beresford, Sir Paul Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bitten, Rt Hon John Forth, Eric
Blackburn, Dr John G. Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Booth, Hartley Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Boswell, Tim Freeman, Roger
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) French, Douglas
Bowden, Andrew Fry, Peter
Bowis, John Gale, Roger
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Gallic, Phil
Brandreth, Gyles Gardiner, Sir George
Brazier, Julian Garnier, Edward
Bright, Graham Gillan, Cheryl
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Browning, Mrs. Angela Gorst, John
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Burns, Simon Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Burt, Alistair Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Butcher, John Grylls, Sir Michael
Butler, Peter Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Butterfill, John Hague, William
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carrington, Matthew Hannam, Sir John
Carttiss, Michael Hargreaves, Andrew
Cash, William Harris, David
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Haselhurst, Alan
Chapman, Sydney Hawksley, Warren
Clappison, James Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heald, Oliver
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hendry, Charles
Coe, Sebastian Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Congdon, David Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Conway, Derek Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Horam, John
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Couchman, James Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Cran, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hunter, Andrew
Day, Stephen Jack, Michael
Deva, Nirj Joseph Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Devlin, Tim Jenkin, Bernard
Dickens, Geoffrey Jesse l, Toby
Dorrell, Stephen Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, Den Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Key, Robert Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Kilfedder, Sir James Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kirkhope, Timothy Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Knapman, Roger Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sackville, Tom
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Knox, David Shaw, David (Dover)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Leigh, Edward Shersby, Michael
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Sims, Roger
Lidington, David Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lord, Michael Soames, Nicholas
Luff, Peter Spencer, Sir Derek
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
MacKay, Andrew Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maclean, David Spink, Dr Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick Spring, Richard
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Sproat, Iain
Madel, David Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Maitland, Lady Olga Steen, Anthony
Major, Rt Hon John Stephen, Michael
Malone, Gerald Stern, Michael
Mans, Keith Stewart, Allan
Marlow, Tony Streeter, Gary
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Sumberg, David
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Sweeney, Walter
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Sykes, John
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Tapsell, Sir Peter
Mellor, Rt Hon David Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Merchant, Piers Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Milligan, Stephen Thomason, Roy
Mills, Iain Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Thurnham, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Townend, John (Bridlington)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Moss, Malcolm Tracey, Richard
Needham, Richard Tredinnick, David
Nelson, Anthony Trend, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Twinn, Dr Ian
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Nicholls, Patrick Viggers, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Walden, George
Norris, Steve Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Waller, Gary
Ottaway, Richard Ward, John
Page, Richard Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Paice, James Waterson, Nigel
Patnick, Irvine Wells, Bowen
Patten, Rt Hon John Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Whitney, Ray
Pawsey, James Whittingdale, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Widdecombe, Ann
Pickles, Eric Wilkinson, John
Porter, David (Waveney) Willetts, David
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Wilshire, David
Powell, William (Corby) Wolfson, Mark
Rathbone, Tim Yeo, Tim
Redwood, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Richards, Rod Tellers for the Noes:
Riddick, Graham Mr. David Lightbown and
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Mr. Timothy Wood.
Robathan, Andrew

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

then put the Questions on amendments moved by a member of the Government, to the end of clause 256.

Forward to