HC Deb 18 March 1996 vol 274 cc124-46 10.16 pm
Mr. David Blunkett (Sheffield, Brightside)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1996 (S.I., 1996, No. 360), dated 22nd February 1996, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd February, be annulled. In moving the annulment of the order, I feel a little like the groom who had a second chance after the bride turned up early at the church and he missed the service. We are having a second bite of the cherry tonight. [Interruption.] I think that Conservative Members are making assertions about the bride, so perhaps I should protect her from Norman Blackwell and the policy unit at No. 10. [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker


Mr. Blunkett

Thank you, Madam Speaker, it was a little like an east end pantomime for a moment.

However, there is nothing pantomime about the orders. There is nothing clever about a Government who, having agonised for almost six years, have now decided to deregulate the space available in our classrooms and the area available for leisure and recreation. There is nothing clever about a Government who think that the operation of the free market involves removing the basic safeguards that have existed since they introduced them in 1981 in order to protect our children and our schools.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Blunkett

Yes, I will—I always enjoy such occasions.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The orders are very important to village schools, as some—although they are excellent schools—would not be able to meet the new standards. Many village schools would have to close and no one wants to see that happen.

Mr. Blunkett

I have heard many interventions from the hon. Lady in my time in this place, but that is one of the most stupid. Tonight we are debating the deregulating of regulations that the Government introduced in 1981 in order to protect schools. I can do no better than quote the following: It is clear that, despite efforts to deal with more serious problems, a significant number of schools have problems with their buildings. At least one primary school in seven and one secondary school in five suffers from some shortfall in accommodation, such as cramped classroom spaces, poor or non-existent facilities for art, design and technology or science, or a limited playground area", I did not say that. Nor was it said by small schools in Lancashire. It was said by Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools, in his 1996 annual report. He continued: Teachers who lack proper resources or who work in poor buildings experience problems which at best frustrate and at worst defeat their best efforts to do a decent job. Obviously, if the schools do not have the space available, there are two answers. The Government can either provide the resources to ensure that they have the space and the safeguards, or they can deregulate and pretend that the problem does not exist.

The issue raised by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) was raised starkly by the then Secretary of State for Education, the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), in a letter to the right hon. Member for Wirral, West (Mr. Hunt) on 26 April 1993, when he stated: The main purpose of the review"— that is, the review that has now been concluded— was to decide how to resolve the increasing difficulty of having minimum standards for which costs of compliance were well beyond any realistic prospect for the capital expenditure which is likely to be made available. That is the absolute essence of why we are debating the regulations tonight. We are debating them because the Government are not prepared to make the capital available—at least in the maintained sector—to ensure that there is adequate space available for children.

The same Secretary of State wrote to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) on 10 June 1993 as follows: In the interests of overall Government policy, we are proposing deregulation not only in area accommodation for school land, but also in the more central and sensitive area of teaching space standards. I do not think it would be defensible for us to deregulate the one and not the other. Apparently it is defensible tonight.

The Government are deregulating the one but not the other purely on the premise that the Prime Minister stumbled into making a speech in which he promised to protect playing fields—5,000 of which have already been sold off—and was therefore concerned that the Secretary of State for Education and Employment did not directly contradict him. She does her best inadvertently to contradict him every time he stumbles into other mistakes. On this occasion, it was an attempt to ensure that the policy unit and speeches that were written for the Prime Minister were not directly overturned in the regulations. Although a substantial amount has already been sold off, playing field space is not to be deregulated, but space in the classroom and playing space is.

Changing facilities are also to be deregulated so that children up to the age of 11 will no longer have segregated changing areas and will have to use classrooms. Presumably boys and girls will change in different classrooms to ensure that there is no embarrassment.

There are no safeguards in terms of health and safety because health and safety regulations and fire regulations apply to teachers, but not to pupils. The Government are prepared to put others at risk to ensure that they are not embarrassed by a set of regulations which they tolerated for nine years before they initiated the review.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)

Why does the hon. Gentleman assume that local authorities—the vast majority of which are controlled by his party—are incapable of judging what is the right amount of space? They are building the schools; they should design something that they consider appropriate. Why does the hon. Gentleman want to return to those post-war days when, for example, the Parker Morris standards in council housing were imposed by central Government on councils? The Labour party said that, if we abolished them, everything would collapse. It certainly did not. We gave freedom to local authorities: why will he not do so?

Mr. Blunkett

I thought that the hon. Gentleman knew something about education and the way in which design specifications and the regulations go hand in hand. The answer is very simple. If local authorities do not have minimum space design regulations on which capital allocations can be made, planning consents are given and the Department is permitted to intervene. One cannot blame the local authority if it ends up squeezing space to build or extend a school under DEE regulations for capital, supplementary or original approval when the local authority does not have access to the capital on the markets.

Tomorrow, the House will consider the remaining stages of regulations that will allow grant-maintained schools, but not maintained schools, to borrow against certain assets. We will debate again tomorrow the facilities and provisions for redeeming nursery vouchers in the pilot and substantive schemes, which will not be subject to any regulations concerning the space that must be made available for the small children in question. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) and his party are prepared to tolerate small children having totally inadequate facilities and accommodation, so that the Government can deregulate and put to one side the sensible provision that is already available.

On 15 February, the Under-Secretary of State replied to my question about what had happened to the review.

Mr. Graham Riddick (Colne Valley)

Which Under-Secretary?

Mr. Blunkett

What does the hon. Gentleman mean, "Which Parliamentary Under-Secretary?" I refer to the Under-Secretary of State who answered my question on 15 February—who, as the hon. Gentleman ought to know, is seated opposite me and is responsible for answering such questions. We do not want silly interventions from hon. Members. The hon. Gentleman may have had a good dinner, but some of us had to forgo dinner to be able to debate the issue properly.

On 15 February, the Under-Secretary of State answered my question by suggesting that, in the review, a large number of local authorities were prepared to accept the deregulation being debated tonight. I wrote to those local authorities, and every one of them—whether Hounslow, Lancashire, Oxfordshire or Bedfordshire—answered that they had written to the Department saying that they were against the deregulation proposals. The material placed in the Library as late as this afternoon shows that out of the consultation exercise that the Minister of State had not been prepared to reveal on 19 July 1995, one local authority—Wandsworth—and one school out of all those that responded were in favour of deregulation, while one Church body submitted a query. Of all the parties that responded to the consultation that was set in motion on 14 July 1995, only three said that, one way or another, they were prepared to accept deregulation.

If that consultation led the Government to believe that they had legitimacy in introducing the regulations, I am a Dutchman. There is no legitimacy in or justification for the proposals. They are a petty measure designed to bring the marketplace further into the education service, to the detriment of the children we serve. It is time to ensure that we protect people rather than use them as political pawns. I hope that the Secretary of State will accept tonight that, in carrying out a policy begun by her predecessor and implementing proposals that meet the demands of the policy unit but not the education service, the right hon. Lady is again bowing and capitulating to right-wing pressures on her, rather than meeting the needs of the service and making the provision required to improve our children's educational standards and to ensure the proper teaching that classroom staff want to deliver to the children in their charge.

10.28 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mrs. Gillian Shephard)

I ask the House to reject the motion. I thank the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) for turning up this evening. It is good that his team is accompanying him too. Last time, they felt so strongly about the issue that they did not turn up at all.

I should like to make three main points about the regulations: first, the need for them; secondly, the consultation process applied to them; and, thirdly, what we propose to do between now and 1 September, when the new regulations are intended to come into effect. I shall also deal with the criticisms conveyed by Opposition Members both to Madam Speaker—about the laying of the regulations—and in the Standing Committee considering the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill.

I shall start, if I may, at the beginning. The holder of my office is required by section 10 of the Education Act 1944 to make regulations prescribing the standards to which the premises of maintained schools shall conform. Because the education system evolves and changes— unlike the views of Opposition Members—over the years, it has proved necessary every decade or so to review the regulations. Alongside them, it has been the practice for there to be non-statutory professional advice and guidance from architects and building branch professionals in my Department. That, too, has been regularly revised as educational practice has developed.

The regulations will supersede and revoke the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1981 with effect from 1 September. There are a number of detailed technical changes, but the essential point is that the regulations continue to cover structural requirements, and health, safety and welfare matters—including washrooms and sanitary facilities, boarding accommodation and playing fields. The new regulations will no longer include prescriptive minimum areas for teaching accommodation and recreation areas.

Ms Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North)

I refer the right hon. Lady to a new nursery school in my constituency that was built to the then current regulations. The teachers had to make the strongest possible protest about the fact that even those regulations were inadequate. There were too many children in the classroom, and the noise and crowding made teaching impossible. Without enough capital financing, how will such schools manage under the new regulations?

Mrs. Shephard

The hon. Lady makes my point for me—she seems to be arguing for deregulation, which is what we are providing for.

New non-statutory guidance documents will be provided on both teaching accommodation and school grounds. There will also be non-statutory guidance on boarding accommodation. All three documents are placed in the Library of the House.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) has said, it is obviously difficult for a single set of regulations to apply detailed area standards sensibly to every kind of school on every kind of site. I am thinking in particular of schools on restricted sites where there is no prospect of expansion, and of schools that are difficult to remodel or adapt. Those schools are often in solidly built Victorian and Edwardian buildings. Many are on inner-city sites, but some are in the green belt or in remote villages. The buildings themselves are often in good condition, but the playground might be too small or the rooms may be inconveniently sized. Many of the schools are Church schools; many are very popular.

Ms Margaret Hodge (Barking)

Does the Secretary of State believe that space standards have anything to do with the quality of the education offered to our children?

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

It is the teaching that matters.

Mrs. Shephard

As my hon. Friend says—she is always right on these matters—it is the quality of teaching that counts, a point repeatedly made by the chief inspector of schools.

There were other reasons why a review of the 1981 regulations was needed. In those regulations, space per pupil reduces on a stepped scale relating to the actual number of pupils. That means, for instance, that a primary school with 301 pupils needs about 40 sq m less teaching area, according to the regulations, than one with 300 pupils. And a primary school with 181 pupils needs 10 sq m less than one with 180.

Mr. Nigel Speaing (Newham, South)


Mrs. Shephard

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman, but it may be the last intervention I shall take.

Mr. Spearing

The Secretary of State mentioned the alleged difficulty of calculating minimum appropriate areas for schools of different types. In view of the Government's emphasis on the need for more nursery education, why are they taking away the standards specifically laid down for nursery schools, both indoors and outdoors, which have been a feature of that form of education almost since its inception?

Mrs. Shephard

That is not the case. I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman, who I know produced a learned work on those matters in 1965, which I have read with some interest. He will know that nursery classes in maintained schools will have to conform to the revised regulations and nursery education in voluntary and privately provided premises will have to conform to the Children Act 1989.

By contrast, minimum recreation areas are broadly in proportion to the pupil numbers. That is another anomaly. If a school had a temporary increase in pupil numbers and had to put up a mobile classroom in the playground, it might risk breaching the regulation on recreation areas. The school might have to come to the holder of my office for a special exemption, but that would be an example of over-prescription leading to undue bureaucracy. Those examples illustrate the anomalies that can arise from over-regulation.

There is a transitional waiver for part of the 1981 regulations for buildings already existing in 1981. That expires on 1 September and has given some useful flexibility. But it would be absurd to perpetuate a system that depended on transitional arrangements. It would be quite wrong to put good schools and sensible LEAs and governors in a position in which they could be held to account for a breach of what had become unrealistic requirements.

Mr. Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon)

Will the Secretary of State give way?

Mrs. Shephard

I will give way, for the last time.

Mr. Howarth

Has the Secretary of State considered the representations on recreation space put to her by the Learning Through Landscapes Trust, the foundation of which I supported when I was a Minister? The deregulation measure will allow recreational space around existing school buildings to be built on and, in the case of new schools, the space will not have to be provided in the first instance. Will the Secretary of State acknowledge the importance—for the education and development of children—of available space for play and social interaction, for environmental education through gardens and wildlife habitats and for artistic displays and activities?

Mrs. Shephard

Learning Through Landscapes has made a valuable contribution to the draft guidance documents that have been placed in the Library. The hon. Gentleman will be able to see that if he examines those documents. The trust has been in to see my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment.

The Opposition apparently wish to retain the regulations on teaching areas, but they would be in a dilemma. What would they do about schools on restricted sites? Would they close the school? Would they restrict admission? Would they place compulsory purchase orders on adjacent buildings? How much would they spend? Have they made a spending pledge? Would they come to the holder of my office to seek an exemption each time? Do they want to force a choice on LEAs and governors? Do they want a system that relies on waivers for schools built before 1981? In other words, this is a classic case in which regulations are no longer necessary. I am not arguing that they were necessarily wrong in the past, perhaps as recently as 1981, but that was 15 years ago. And there is more to it than that.

It is not disputed on either side of the House that the revolution—that is not too strong a word—in the management of schools over the past decade has been outstandingly successful. We have given more responsibility to parents and governors than ever before. We know from our experience of local management of schools that we need have no hesitation in leaving important and detailed decisions to them. If the governors can take decisions about admissions and staffing—and they can—surely they can be trusted to take decisions about the size of teaching accommodation, recreation areas and storage space. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

Order. I do not expect seated interventions from hon. Members in any part of the House, least of all from those on the Front Bench.

Mrs. Shephard

I cannot believe that the Opposition are really saying that LEAs and school governors cannot be relied on to act responsibly. If they are, the argument seems to sit very oddly with their desire to give powers to LEAs at the expense of parents, Churches and governors in other areas of policy.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) announced in 1990 that we would be reviewing the 1981 regulations. The review was part of the day-to-day work of the Department. It was not an external, public review and it was never intended to be so, but we did listen to the comments made. We have not been able to take them all on board.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire), announced the Government's conclusions to the House on 14 July last year. A draft of the proposed new regulations and a covering circular were issued for further consultation last August. Some 1,600 schools and organisations were consulted, including all the local education authorities. Only 119 responses were received in England and Wales. It was a very low response rate—only 7 per cent. of the schools and organisations that were consulted. That level of response does not suggest that we are facing the end of civilised education as we know it.

On 10 January the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), announced the Government's decisions in the light of the consultation. She said that the Government expected to lay the regulations in February.

On 30 January, in the Standing Committee that considered the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, Opposition Members argued that there was a link between the Bill and the regulations and that it would be essential to see the regulations before the Committee had completed its consideration of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State therefore undertook to ensure that the regulations were tabled as soon as reasonably possible. They were the subject of expedited printing and were laid on 22 February in an amended proof copy.

The form of the draft, which included manuscript additions, has been criticised by Opposition Members and by the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. I take the opportunity to apologise to the House if, in our eagerness to comply with the wishes of the Standing Committee, we cut a corner that we should not have done. It was done with the best of intentions. It is a pity that it was not accepted by Opposition Members in that spirit. The consultation has been full and open and we have worked hard to lay the regulations quickly. We have extended the time of their coming into effect from March to September.

What do we intend to do between now and when the regulations come into force on 1 September? As is the usual practice, we propose to issue a circular to explain the regulations in layman's terms. A draft of that circular was issued with the draft regulations in August. We shall issue the final version of the circular in the spring or early summer.

At the same time, non-statutory guidance will be issued on teaching accommodation, school grounds and boarding accommodation. Drafts of the guidance documents are in the Library. We hope to publish a final version of them in the summer.

There was quite a lot of comment about the regulations during consideration of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill. It was suggested that they would lead to overcrowding in individual schools, as there would no longer be a statutory minimum teaching area per pupil. I should remind Opposition Members that the standard admission numbers for schools will not be changed by the regulations. Decisions on how many pupils to admit will still be for the individual admission authorities to take, whether local education authorities or governing bodies.

It has been suggested that the new regulations will lead to an increase in class size. That is not so. It is a long time since the Government prescribed limits on class sizes. Opposition Members will be interested to hear that it was a Labour Secretary of State, Mr. Edward Short, as he then was, who abolished the regulations on class sizes in 1969. The 1981 regulations certainly do not limit class sizes. The minimum areas relate to the total size of the accommodation, not to individual classes.

The final argument advanced by Opposition Members—it is one of the silliest—is that LEAs and governors will not know how much teaching space they should be allocating for a given number of pupils. It is as if local education officers and education committees will suddenly be at the mercy of their finance committees, which will be interested only in cutting costs.

I think that the House will realise that the arguments of Opposition Members are a sham. They are purely tactical in their relationship to the Bill. It is characteristic of them to yearn for detailed rules, to prescribe, to know best, to regulate, to impose and to fossilise matters.

I have explained to the House that the school premises regulations retain a large number of provisions relating to health, safety and welfare. Where the standards are necessary and practical, we are keeping them. Where they are outdated and bureaucratic, we are removing them. That is a pragmatic and realistic approach. I commend it to the House. It means rejecting the motion.

10.44 pm
Ms Margaret Hodge (Barking)

It is almost second nature to the Government, when they want to change things, to act in an arrogant and autocratic way. That was their intent in changing the school premises regulations. If it had not been for the persistence of our Front-Bench team, we would not be sitting here tonight, even at this late hour, subjecting the proposals to some sort of public debate and justification. This is not proper scrutiny— I have already learnt, in my brief time in the House, that the Government rarely allow proper scrutiny of their proposals—but at least we have this limited opportunity to question and challenge them on their proposals.

First, let us ask ourselves why the Government wanted to rush these important changes through the House without subjecting them to debate. Was it that they knew that they could not rationally justify the proposals? Was it that they knew that there was almost universal opposition to the proposals? Was it that the Secretary of State knew in her heart of hearts that the new regulations were yet one further step in the wrong direction; yet one further step which would work against raising standards in our schools?

The new proposals will lower standards, not improve them. They will prepare the ground for further cuts in capital investment in our schools, not lead to the much-needed physical improvement in our schools for which we are crying out. They will reduce opportunity for children, not enhance it. They will turn the clock back, not prepare us for the challenges of the next century.

The quality of the school premises in which our children are taught is a vital factor in ensuring a high-quality educational offer—not the only factor, but a vital one. Everyone acknowledges that, and the Secretary of State, as a former teacher and inspector, knows it to be true. That is why we regulate school premises. Regulation here is not some old-fashioned bit of bureaucratic nonsense. It is not about a lot of mandarins and Ministers wanting to add to their sense of self-importance by shifting bits of paper around the system. It is about sensible rules laid down by Parliament to ensure that minimum standards are enjoyed by all our children in all schools.

No one wants the unnecessary, time-consuming and wasteful bureaucracy which over-regulation can bring, but equally, allowing an obsession with deregulation to destroy those elements of our statutory framework which are an essential basis for good teaching is wicked and wrong. It is putting dogma before common sense, and allowing one value and one policy to undermine other more important values and policies. It is sacrificing the needs of our children on the altar of yet another piece of Tory ideology.

The Government often quote the words of Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools to justify their policies and actions, yet they hear only what they want to hear. When his words do not suit the Government's preconceived purpose, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) has shown, the Government choose to ignore them.

It was the chief inspector who said that space standards were not good enough. No doubt, in 12 or 15 months' time, when the chickens start coming home to roost on this bit of legislation, when stories start appearing in the press about even more overcrowded classrooms and inadequate facilities to teach the national curriculum, what will the Government do? They will play their usual trick and blame the schools, the teachers, the governors— anyone and everyone but themselves.

In this area, as in so many others, the Government have changed their mind. It was, ironically, a Government under the stronger control of the far more dogma-driven Baroness Thatcher who introduced the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1981. She realised that school premises were an appropriate and important area for Government regulation. What has happened to make this Government change their mind?

The answer lies in the Government's bungling mismanagement of the public expenditure budget. Instead of spending our money on investing in our children's future—a future that must include the state of the buildings in which they are taught—they waste our money keeping families on the dole. They then panic. They want to go into the next election with tax cuts, and the only way in which they can do that is by doing away with essential expenditure demands, such as the demand for capital investment in our schools.

The regulations have nothing to do with setting schools free. They have everything to do with setting the Government free from their obligation to ensure appropriate physical standards in our schools.

Let us look at what the Minister responsible, the right hon. Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson), said when the 1981 regulations were introduced. He started by saying that the regulations … would have been introduced by whatever Government was in power. There was a universal acknowledgement of the importance of regulation in this sphere.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to applaud the fact that the 1981 regulations would introduce a bigger minimum teaching area for the upper junior and middle school age ranges. He stressed: These are minimum standards, since any local authority … can provide more."—[Official Report, Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c., 28 July 1981; c. 3.] Looking back at that debate, we can see how dire the standards in our schools were then. We lay at the bottom of the league of northern European countries in terms of the teaching area available per child. My guess is that the position has probably got worse relative to the rest of Europe over the past 15 years, as an inevitable consequence of the cuts in capital spending. Perhaps the Minister can tell us; but I doubt that she will.

The 1981 regulations were, and remain, sensible measures to ensure minimum standards so that schools are fit for their purpose—to provide the best and only first chance children have to enjoy a good-quality education. The Government are failing in their proper duty if they ask the House to agree to the regulations tonight, and stop taking responsibility for space standards in all our schools.

Mr. Spearing

As the Government have a national curriculum, and as they have issued guidelines to schools, is there not a moral obligation on them to work out the cost of the necessary space for that curriculum, in the light of the guidelines, and then to work out a minimum construction cost per place for each variety of school?

Ms Hodge

I take that point entirely. [Laughter.] Time is limited.

What freedom is being promoted? What about the rights and freedoms of our children and their parents? They should feel secure and free in the knowledge that they do not have to worry about minimum space standards. The truth is that this nasty piece of legislation is not about handing freedoms to anybody: it is about lowering standards—levelling down, not levelling up. It is about cuts.

The regulations are bad, short-sighted and wrong. They should not be introduced, and they cannot stand the test of time. They are wrong for our schools, they are wrong for our teachers, and, most importantly, they are wrong for our children. The Secretary of State, if she is listening, knows that. She should never have introduced them. I thought that she had a greater commitment to the education system for which she is responsible. The regulations deserve the same fate that the Government deserve—swift rejection, and a long term in oblivion.

10.24 pm
Mr. Richard Tracey (Surbiton)

I am grateful to be called in this debate, Madam Deputy Speaker. Indeed, I am glad that the debate has happened at last. I am glad that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) has made it to the late shift tonight.

I felt deeply frustrated 10 days ago when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) and I were here, but the hon. Member for Brightside was not here to move the Labour party's motion on this important subject. Now, tonight, we are all here, able to notch up more than 48 hours in this working week doing our stuff on behalf of our constituents and the important pupils in our constituencies.

I welcome the aspect of the regulations that protects school playing fields. About 10 years ago, my local authority area of Kingston upon Thames had a Liberal council—unfortunately, we now have one again—which sold two areas of school playing fields. Such sales are deeply opposed by Conservative Members. I certainly opposed the sale of sports fields during my time as Minister for Sport, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Pendry). I am therefore glad that these regulations—very much in response to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said—protect school playing fields.

At the same time, the regulations provide valuable deregulation. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State pointed out, there has been far too much over-regulation and far too little flexibility in schools regulations. The Government have tried to give greater and greater responsibility to local education authorities—too many of which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) pointed out, are now controlled by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, which is always a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, they must have more delegated powers, and, more importantly, schools must have local management powers. That is what we are trying to achieve through deregulation.

Inevitably, parents, governors and head teachers have worries.

Mr. Edward O'Hara (Knowsley, South)

What responsibilities have been given to local authorities in recent years that are relevant to the regulations?

Mr. Tracey

There is local management of schools. Management is a broad area, including finance and the regulation of schools—

Mr. O'Hara


Mr. Tracey

No, the hon. Gentleman has had his chance to intervene. Now he must take his chance to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, when he can make his own speech.

In the short time that I will allow myself, I want to speak on behalf of parents in my constituency, especially those who belong to the Kingston Campaign for Smaller Classes. They have been in touch with me and with my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont) about the regulations.

The campaign is rightly concerned, although I believe that its concerns have largely been met by what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, and by a letter that I received today from my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Education, the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan), that there is no upper limit on class sizes. It is worried that Health and safety legislation against overcrowding applies only to employees—not to pupils and not to classrooms. It is also concerned about what will happen, if standard numbers are not a limit, if more children are admitted on appeal.

Those are reasonable questions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has dealt in part with them, and no doubt my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will do so further. One of the leaders of the Kingston Parents Campaign for Smaller Classes wrote me a letter in which she admits that, as a result of the delay caused by the failure of the hon. Member for Brightside to turn up and move the motion, she has investigated the amendments further. She says: I do see that there may be some lack of flexibility in the way the current regulations are presented, and that it would be helpful if there were a revised definition of teaching and non-teaching areas. She goes on to say that the regulations are needed to protect children against the worst that can—and already does—happen. This is very much a health and safety issue. Too many children crammed within restricted classroom areas for all their class-based activities constitute a hazard, as do undersized playgrounds. This is especially the case in primary schools, where children's movements are often very far from controlled or predictable. She concludes: Thank you again for taking such an interest in this. That is what the Government are doing. There has been a problem with the lack of flexibility, and the Government are moving to deal with it. As hon. Members know, I represent a highly successful education authority area. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State knows, Kingston upon Thames is top of the league of education authorities. We are proud of that, but conscious of the need to preserve the high quality of our schools, especially of our primary schools, and of our education authority generally. I therefore welcome what my right hon. Friend has said, but I shall listen with interest to the Under-Secretary's reply.

11.3 pm

Mr. Don Foster (Bath)

The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) told the House that the Secretary of State has, at least in part, dealt with his constituents' concern about rising class sizes. I do not think that any other hon. Member thought that she dealt with it satisfactorily. She would have some difficulty in doing so, given the massive increase in class sizes over the past few years, with more than 1 million primary school pupils in classes of more than 30, and over 100,000 in classes of more than 36.

The hon. Member was right about the importance of deregulation and getting rid of unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy, but we are not dealing this evening with unnecessary bureaucracy or red tape. The removal of the regulations governing space from the earlier Education (School Premises) Regulations 1981 is not the same as getting rid of something unnecessary. That view is shared by many educationists.

As the Secretary of State will know, in September, a letter appeared in The Independent that was signed by nearly all the organisations representing teachers, governors, parents and local education authorities. They were united in their expression of major reservations about the removal of the regulations governing space. They were concerned, just as I am, that their removal and replacement with mere guidelines offers inadequate protection against the very concerns about overcrowding expressed by the hon. Member for Surbiton. That concern is justifiable given the significant increases in class sizes.

Hon. Members were interested in the intervention of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman). When the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) expressed concern about the problems of overcrowding and poor accommodation, the hon. Lady told the House that they were not a problem, and that what mattered were the teachers.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

The hon. Member, having had the great privilege of being educated in Lancaster, should know that at least one school in the centre of the city, which is extremely popular, cannot extend in any direction. It would be a disaster were that school to close. If we do not get rid of some of the regulations, the same problem will apply to at least three village schools.

Mr. Foster

The hon. Lady should say why she, or least her Government, supported the initial regulations in 1981. The hon. Lady might reflect on the what the chief inspector of schools said in this year's report. It is worth repeating: Teachers who lack proper resources or who work in poor buildings experience problems which at best frustrate and at worst defeat their best efforts to do a decent job. Teachers need the tools to do the job and the proper premises in which to work in order to give the very best to our children.

In common with many other people, I am extremely concerned that the Secretary of State again repeated the information that there has been a five-year long review of the 1981 regulations. A detailed review has been conducted, but the Secretary of State has not offered any hon. Member the opportunity to review any of the information gathered in those five years. The right hon. Lady should consider whether she is prepared to make available to the House details of the internal memoranda that were written in other places about that review.

Many of the arguments against the removal of the space regulations have been rehearsed, and I do not wish to repeat them. I hope that the Under-Secretary will respond to another issue.

The House will be aware that, on 15 December 1981, the United Kingdom ratified the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. Article 3 states: In all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be of primary consideration … State parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities". Along with the convention, the UN established a committee on the rights of the child to monitor the convention's implementation.

In January 1995, the United Kingdom Government appeared before the committee and were heavily criticised for failing to give adequate scrutiny to all relevant legislation to see that it complied with the convention. I have recently had discussions with the head of the United Kingdom branch of the children's rights development unit, which was set up to monitor the United Nations convention. She believes that the removal of the space regulations would be a further example of this country's breach of the convention.

Schools are now required to take extra pupils on appeal, they are not required to comply with the usual health and safety legislation, there is no legal limit on class size and there will be no statutory minimum space legislation. There is now no legislation to prevent overcrowding, and voluntary guidelines are no substitute because they cannot be challenged in law, and they are not enforceable.

Removing the space regulations is a charter for overcrowded classrooms and playgrounds. Children are having their right to space removed, which is contrary to the commitment this country gave when it signed the United Nations convention to ensure that the best interests of the child be given primary consideration. These regulations amend the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1981, and do so for the worse. Therefore, they should not be approved this evening.

11.10 pm
Mr. David Congdon (Croydon, North-East)

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) was trying to over-egg a weak pudding of an argument. I have heard some strange arguments to justify a particular line of attack, but his beats the lot. Today's debate is somewhat strange. One would think that we were going from a situation of complete tight regulation to having absolutely nothing in its place. As I understand it, we are actually moving from a situation in which the Education (School Premises) Regulations 1981 lay down minimum teaching areas to one in which there are gross area guidelines.

Hon. Members do not want children to be taught in seriously overcrowded classrooms, but it is difficult to define precisely the number of square metres that is suitable for children. I have visited many schools and, regardless of whether they are in line with or out of line with the regulations, some seem more crowded than others, depending on the design of the building, when it was built, the layout, the amount of light in the room, and so on.

I have looked at the proposals to replace the minimum teaching areas by gross area guidelines, and I am afraid that they are not as Opposition Members have portrayed them. The guidelines lay down a range of space that should be available in gross area terms—not minimum teaching area terms—including corridors and other space. A primary school with two forms of entry would have between 3.8 and 4.3 sq m per pupil, and a secondary school with eight forms of entry would have between 6.5 and 7.1 sq m per pupil. That does not strike me as a regime with no interest whatever in the amount of space that is available in the school.

There is a distinction to be made. The guidelines refer to gross area, not minimum teaching area, thus avoiding the problem of having to define what is a teaching space and what is not a teaching space. When one visits schools, one finds that they use space in all sorts of imaginative ways. [Interruption.] Labour Members may laugh, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) has said, there are all sorts of open plans and arrangements which make gross area guidelines much more appropriate.

Mr. Spearing

I ask the hon. Member for Croydon, North-East (Mr. Congdon) to look at the Committee debate, to which I contributed. Does he agree that 6 sq m is much too small? In any case, he is talking about guidelines that are not statutory, so there is an absence of figures of any sort for teaching space in the regulations.

Mr. Congdon

I think the last point is correct, but I am not sure that it matters because the gross area guidelines have been drawn up and the graphs have been produced in such a way that, as a rule of thumb, 60 per cent. of the space will be used as teaching space. That meets the hon. Gentleman's point.

Opposition Members place much emphasis on teaching space and buildings. They concentrate far too much on buildings and not enough on the quality of education. There is no correlation between the quality of buildings and the quality of education. Significantly, in all education debates—of which there have been many down the years—Opposition Members love to concentrate on those issues, because it means that they can avoid the real debates about the quality of education, about testing and about publication of results. They prefer to concentrate on irrelevancies.

I am happy to support the guidelines rather than a minimum teaching area.

11.15 pm
Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton)

The Government have made one of the tawdriest defences I have heard for the indefensible. The governing party apparently cannot distinguish between small classes and smaller classrooms and between guidelines and regulations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) mentioned the leaked letter from the right hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), who spoke of how to resolve the increasing difficulty of having minimum standards for which the costs of compliance go well beyond any realistic prospect of the capital expenditure which is likely to be made available. How prescient he was.

In the 10 years from 1974 to 1984, education capital spending declined in real terms from £1.82 billion to £604 million. This year, according to "DfEE News", it is running at £621 million. Place that in the context of a capital deficit estimated by the National Audit Office in 1988 at £2 billion, the current request by local education authorities for £1.9 billion for essential maintenance and repairs—but of course they receive only £416 million— and a country whose capital investment in education is only 3.9 per cent. of its total, compared with a European average of 8 per cent., and one has a Government who have scandalously run down their educational capital stock.

The regulations remove minimum standards for teaching area, for recreation space, and for study areas for post-16 students. Never mind that a recent Observer and Association of Teachers and Lecturers survey reported that 88 per cent. of our classes are overcrowded. The message is clear and unequivocal: cram them in.

The Government have minimum standards for piglets, calves and hens, but they are removing similar protection from our children at a time when the population is expanding and when 86,000 more children are due to enter education next year. On those matters, it behoves Opposition Members to agree with Her Majesty's chief inspector, who rightly said in his recent annual report: One in seven primary schools has weaknesses in accommodation which frustrate teaching". He commented: Where no grassed area is conveniently available and playground services are poorly maintained—and where indoor gymnasiums are ill equipped—pupils' attitudes are damaged and standards are depressed. We will take no lectures on standards from Conservative Members.

Dr. Hampson

That is the third time tonight that the chief inspector has been grossly misrepresented. Surely the hon. Gentleman agrees that, although those criticisms were made, the central argument was that style, standard and quality of teaching were relatable to class size and that that was most important for standards—not the size of classrooms, for heaven's sake.

Mr. Kilfoyle

As they say, "There is no show without Punch." The hon. Gentleman claimed in Committee that, when Baroness Thatcher was Prime Minister, she gave way only because of the bullying tactics of the National Union of Teachers and the education lobby; that is how divorced from reality the hon. Gentleman is.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Brightside said, there has been a protracted process of review and consultation. Of 1,500 schools consulted—according to the Secretary of State, the number has increased magically to 1,600—just 119 responded. Ministers originally claimed that there were two advocates of change— Wandsworth and East Sussex—but omitted to say that East Sussex wanted the regulations tightened, not abolished.

Miraculously, we see a copy of the responses from the people who bothered to respond. Again, Wandsworth was the only authority that responded of which one could honestly say that it unequivocally welcomed the Government's proposals.

No research was done into the potential impact of the proposals on learning, health, safety and discipline. I assume that Ministers had already taken the opinion of Her Majesty's chief inspector, although they clearly rejected it subsequently. The results that emerged from the consultation are truly dreadful. When we recently finished the Committee stage of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, we considered the likely impact of the proposals in detail. If this statutory instrument is approved, it will send a clear message to those in the private and voluntary sectors in nursery education that the Government expect lower standards of accommodation for our children.

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will enlighten me in regard to something that I learned only today, when I was in Trafford. There was a consensus there between the political parties about the provision that they wanted to make, particularly in regard to special needs. Special units were incorporated in schools. Will the Under-Secretary tell us whether those special units will come under the aegis of special schools, or that of mainstream schools?

Mr. O'Hara

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Kilfoyle

No, I must make some progress.

Whereas the current regulations make specific provision for our children, all references to the particular needs of nursery children are removed. That is a disgrace: it shows an abysmal lack of understanding of the spatial needs of toddlers. Why do the new regulations not recognise the particular needs of emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children? Do Ministers not realise that overcrowding exacerbates their problems? There is, for example, nothing to deal with the passage of young children in wheelchairs and their integration; there is nothing to help the visually impaired, who need uncluttered corridors. It is a disgrace that the Government have neglected people with special needs.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on 6 October 1995, Lord Remnant, chair of Learning Through Landscapes, said that the proposals would put pressure on schools and LEAs to realise hard assets". Do the Government not understand that? They will say— and no doubt the hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) will agree—that playing fields are being protected: obviously, that is another whim of the Prime Minister's. But what will they say in response to the charge that, under their protection, 5,000 playing fields have been sold off, with a further 2,600 sales in the pipeline?

This is all about the physical education curriculum. Do the Government not understand—as the Secretary of State for National Heritage clearly does—the need for playgrounds? The Secretary of State supports lottery money for playground games, while Ministers from the Department for Education and Employment want to take their protected status away. There seems to be a contradiction. I would prefer to put my money with the Secretary of State for National Heritage on this issue.

Has the Minister looked at paragraph 7 of part II of the regulations? Does it mean that children under 11 will not have proper changing accommodation? That is the only interpretation that we can put on it—but, if it is correct, what does that mean for pubescent girls of that age? In particular, what does it mean for girls who have religious considerations to complicate their position?

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms Hodge), I consulted the report of the Standing Committee sitting of 28 July 1981. The then Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, the right hon. Member for Brent, North (Sir R. Boyson), boasted: there are bigger minimum teaching areas", and went on to announce the minimum … area for a school site area … That is particularly important."…[Official Report, Fourth Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, 28 July 1981; c. 3–4.] I hasten to add that I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said on that occasion. However, the only change that has taken place since then is the introduction of the national curriculum.

To any objective observer, the introduction of the national curriculum would imply that we need to take more account of such needs, particularly in technology, physical education and a raft of other areas governed by the national curriculum. The right hon. Member for Brent, North was right: these are important issues. However, the right hon. Gentleman predicted falling pupil numbers. As those numbers continue to rise, it seems to Labour Members that the Government are intent on lowering standards in the school environment.

As to the quality of teaching, my hon. Friends have pointed out that every authority, parents, governors and teachers—all those who have the interests of children at heart—have said repeatedly that the school environment and the space in which they operate is crucial to raising standards. We can only conclude that this is a cheap move on the part of the Government at our children's expense. It has no support outside Government, as evidenced in the responses to the consultation. There were only 119 respondents—some 7 per cent.—from the 1,600 organisations whose views were sought. Of those, only one organisation—Wandsworth council—unequivocally welcomed the Government's recommendations.

The Secretary of State referred to the five-year review and to standard admissions. I am reluctant to add that the Secretary of State obviously does not understand how the standard number was arrived at or whether the measure will affect overcrowding. The formula was based on school numbers in 1979–80, which was a boom year. It was then changed on the basis of 1989, and that roll was bigger than that of 1979–80.

I urge my colleagues to recognise that the measure is churlish, ideological nonsense that should be dumped along with this discredited Government. I urge the House to vote against the regulations.

11.26 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mrs. Cheryl Gillan)

I have listened to the debate for more than an hour, and I have heard no new arguments of substance from the Opposition. In her opening speech, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State reminded Labour Members that today's schools are very different from those of 1981. Even the most dogmatic diehards on the Opposition Benches cannot deny that schools have benefited from— even thrived on—our local management policy.

Schools have shown that they can be treated like grown-ups, so why can Opposition Members not accept a more adult approach to school premises and land? Our proposed changes are all about deregulation—which is still a dirty word in some circles. Deregulation puts responsibility into the hands of those on the ground— local education authorities and school governors. I am amazed that Opposition Members are fighting measures that give greater responsibility to LEAs and to schools. They say that the Labour party supports local democracy—but sometimes I wonder.

Remember the absurdities that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State cited earlier. Would they exist if the people who ran the schools were in charge? Remember also that we are keeping—even strengthening—key standards that protect pupils' health and safety. Change of any kind is not popular with everyone; no change, however badly needed, will please everyone. However, it is crystal clear from the responses to the consultation and from the questions and the letters that have landed on my desk since then that the old myths, misinformation and scaremongering that the Opposition love so dearly are still going strong.

Tonight's debate gives us a welcome opportunity to knock those fairy tales on the head—for the last time, I hope. I have said it a dozen times—my right hon. Friend said it with admirable clarity at the beginning of the debate—but I shall say it once more, as ideas seem to take an eon to filter through to Opposition Members. We can forget the scare stories. The new regulations will not affect admission numbers or class sizes. Regulations never did cover class sizes. I remind the House that a Labour Secretary of State abolished the regulations on class sizes in 1969. Governors and LEAs will control admissions just as they do now.

Opposition Members want us to believe that LEAs see the new regulations as nothing but trouble, but even Sunderland said: It is surely time for the Department for Education … to produce clear and authoritative guidance". That is exactly what we have planned. Opposition Members are still in love with the nanny state. They want to surround schools and LEAs with endless regulations. We trust LEAs and school governors to manage their school premises and to make sensible decisions on admitting pupils. Managing schools is a job for the people on the ground, not central Government. I ask the House to reject the motion.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 280.

Division No. 80] [11.30 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Faulds, Andrew
Ainger, Nick Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Fisher, Mark
Allen, Graham Flynn, Paul
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Foster, Don (Bath)
Armstrong, Hilary Foulkes, George
Ashton, Joe Fyfe, Maria
Austin-Walker, John Galbraith, Sam
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Galloway, George
Barron, Kevin Gapes, Mike
Battle, John George, Bruce
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Gerrard, Neil
Beith, Rt Hon A J Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bennett, Andrew F Godman, Dr Norman A
Benton, Joe Godsiff, Roger
Bermingham, Gerald Golding, Mrs Llin
Berry, Roger Gordon, Mildred
Betts, Clive Graham, Thomas
Blunkett, David Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Boateng, Paul Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bradley, Keith Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Gunnell, John
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Hain, Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Hall, Mike
Burden, Richard Hanson, David
Byers, Stephen Harman, Ms Harriet
Caborn, Richard Harvey, Nick
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Heppell, John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hinchliffe, David
Canavan, Dennis Hodge, Margaret
Cann, Jamie Hoey, Kate
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Chidgey, David Home Robertson, John
Chisholm, Malcolm Hoon, Geoffrey
Church, Judith Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Clapham, Michael Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hoyle, Doug
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Coffey, Ann Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cohen, Harry Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Connarty, Michael Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Jamieson, David
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, Lynne (B'ham S 0)
Cousins, Jim Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Cummings, John Jowell, Tessa
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Keen, Alan
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Khabra, Piara S
Dafis, Cynog Kilfoyle, Peter
Dalyell, Tam Kirkwood, Archy
Darling, Alistair Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davidson, Ian Liddell, Mrs Helen
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Litherland, Robert
Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth) Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Denham, John Llwyd, Elfyn
Dewar, Donald Loyden, Eddie
Dixon, Don Lynne, Ms Liz
Dobson, Frank McAllion, John
Donohoe, Brian H McCartney, Ian
Dowd, Jim Macdonald, Calum
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McFall, John
Eagle, Ms Angela McKelvey, William
Eastham, Ken Mackinlay, Andrew
Etherington, Bill McLeish, Henry
Evans, John (St Helens N) McMaster, Gordon
Fatchett, Derek McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis Roche, Mrs Barbara
McWilliam, John Rogers, Allan
Madden, Max Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Maddock, Diana Rowlands, Ted
Mahon, Alice Ruddock, Joan
Mandelson, Peter Sedgemore, Brian
Marek, Dr John Sheerman, Barry
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Martin, Michael J (Springburn) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Martlew, Eric Short, Clare
Maxton, John Simpson, Alan
Meacher, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Michael, Alun Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute) Snape, Peter
Milburn, Alan Soley, Clive
Miller, Andrew Spearing, Nigel
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby) Spellar, John
Moonie, Dr Lewis Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Morgan, Rhodri Steinberg, Gerry
Morley, Elliot Strang, Dr. Gavin
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Straw, Jack
Mudie, George Sutcliffe, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Timms, Stephen
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tipping, Paddy
O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire) Touhig, Don
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Trickett, Jon
O'Hara, Edward Turner, Dennis
Olner, Bill Tyler, Paul
O'Neill, Martin Vaz, Keith
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Walley, Joan
Parry, Robert Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pearson, Ian Wareing, Robert N
Pendry, Tom Watson, Mike
Pickthall, Colin Wicks, Malcolm
Pike, Peter L Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Pope, Greg Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wilson, Brian
Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E) Wise, Audrey
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Worthington, Tony
Primarolo, Dawn Wray, Jimmy
Randall, Stuart Wright, Dr Tony
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Dr John Tellers for the Ayes:
Rendel, David Mrs. Jane Kennedy and Mr. Jon Owen Jones.
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Bowis, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Brandreth, Gyles
Amess, David Brazier, Julian
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael Bright, Sir Graham
Arbuthnot, James Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Browning, Mrs Angela
Ashby, David Bruce, Ian (South Dorset)
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert Budgen, Nicholas
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Burns, Simon
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V) Burt, Alistair
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Butcher, John
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Butler, Peter
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Butterfill, John
Bates, Michael Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)
Batiste, Spencer Carrington, Matthew
Bellingham, Henry Cash, William
Bendall, Vivian Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Beresford, Sir Paul Chapman, Sir Sydney
Biffen, Rt Hon John Churchill, Mr
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Clappison, James
Booth, Hartley Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Boswell, Tim Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Coe, Sebastian
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Colvin, Michael
Congdon, David Heald, Oliver
Conway, Derek Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hendry, Charles
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Couchman, James Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Cran, James Horam, John
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Day, Stephen Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Dicks, Terry Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Hunter, Andrew
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Dover, Den Jack, Michael
Duncan-Smith, Iain Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Dunn, Bob Jenkin, Bernard
Durant, Sir Anthony Jessel, Toby
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Elletson, Harold Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Key, Robert
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) King, Rt Hon Tom
Evennett, David Kirkhope, Timothy
Faber, David Knapman, Roger
Fabricant, Michael Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Fishburn, Dudley Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Forman, Nigel Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Forth, Eric Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Legg, Barry
Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley) Leigh, Edward
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
French, Douglas Lester, Sir James (Broxtowe)
Fry, Sir Peter Lidington, David
Gale, Roger Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Gallie, Phil Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Lord, Michael
Garnier, Edward Luff, Peter
Gillan, Cheryl Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles MacKay, Andrew
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Maclean, Rt Hon David
Gorst, Sir John McLoughlin, Patrick
Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs) McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Malone, Gerald
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mans, Keith
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Marland, Paul
Grylls, Sir Michael Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hague, Rt Hon William Mates, Michael
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hampson, Dr Keith Mellor, Rt Hon David
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy Merchant, Piers
Hannam, Sir John Mills, Iain
Hargreaves, Andrew Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hawkins, Nick Moate, Sir Roger
Hawksley, Warren Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Hayes, Jerry Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Needham, Rt Hon Richard Sproat, Iain
Nelson, Anthony Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Neubert, Sir Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Steen, Anthony
Nicholls, Patrick Stephen, Michael
Norris, Steve Stewart, Allan
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Sumberg, David
Oppenheim, Phillip Sweeney, Walter
Page, Richard Sykes, John
Paice, James Tapsell, Sir Peter
Patnick, Sir Irvine Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Patten, Rt Hon John Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Pawsey, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thomason, Roy
Pickles, Eric Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Porter, David (Waveney) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Thurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rathbone, Tim Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Redwood, Rt Hon John Tracey, Richard
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Tredinnick, David
Richards, Rod Trend, Michael
Twinn, Dr Ian
Riddick, Graham Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Robathan, Andrew Walden, George
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Waller, Gary
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Ward, John
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Waterson, Nigel
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Watts, John
Sackville, Tom Wells, Bowen
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Whitney, Ray
Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Whittingdale, John
Shaw, David (Dover) Widdecombe, Ann
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford) Willetts, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Wilshire, David
Shersby, Sir Michael Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Sims, Roger Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wolfson, Mark
Soames, Nicholas Wood, Timothy
Speed, Sir Keith Yeo, Tim
Spencer, Sir Derek Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs) Tellers for the Noes:
Spink, Dr Robert Mr. Richard Ottaway and Mr. Gary Streeter.
Spring, Richard

Question accordingly negatived.