HC Deb 14 May 1996 vol 277 cc872-92

[Relevant documents: the Memoranda relating to this Order and Instrument contained in the Fifteenth Report of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, House of Commons Paper No. 34-xv.]

10.20 pm
Mr. Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool, Walton)

I beg to move, That the Education (Grants for Nursery Education) (England) Regulations 1996 (S.I., 1996, No. 353), dated 15th February 1996, a copy of which was laid before this House on 26th February, be revoked.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

With this it will be convenient to take the following motion:

That the Education (Grants for Education Support and Training: Nursery Education) (England) Regulations 1996 (S.I.,1996, No.235), dated 15th February 1996, a copy of which was laid before this House on 26th February, be revoked.

Mr. Kilfoyle

We oppose the regulations because although they give the House the chance to debate and approve, albeit retrospectively, the financing of the pilot schemes, the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill affords no opportunity to the House for a similar debate on the main scheme in the light of the lessons that we hope will be learnt from the pilot schemes. It is to be noted that the first pilot scheme is now known as phase 1. Full implementation will be known as phase 2. I do not suggest that the Government have any intention other than to ram the scheme home regardless of any evaluation and regardless, too, of the problems that are already coming to light. Evaluation will be partial, conducted by, or for, the Department for Education and Employment internally.

The statutory instruments offer an opportunity to debate the finance of the pilot schemes. They should be opposed, however, because they determine the financial underpinning for phase 1, which leads automatically to national implementation without proper parliamentary consideration subsequent to comprehensive and public scrutiny.

The statutory instruments offer far more detail than the Bill. The Bill merely allows for grants to be made under arrangements to local education authorities, social services authorities and prescribed private providers. The SIs detail payments for maintenance, assistance and otherwise; for education purposes and for rate grant of 100 per cent. They provide for the condition, manner and time of payments; arrangements for adjusting over and underpayments; provision of administration costs, and requirement for an auditor's statement. No similar provisions will be made for national implementation. These will be covered by the all-embracing arrangements, so Parliament's ability properly to invigilate the spending of public money will be severely circumscribed.

It would be helpful to the House, even in the context of a limited debate, to know why Statutory Instrument No. 235 is more detailed than No. 353. Surely both SIs should ensure that the maximum amount of information is put before the House to ensure proper scrutiny of the proposals. Perhaps the Government are already embarrassed by the shortcomings of the pilot schemes.

The Secretary of State said on 6 July 1995 that she wished to select areas that were representative of the country as a whole. That has not happened. The right hon. Lady has ended up with four authorities rather than 12 to act as pilots. And what has been their experience? The parental take-up, as predicted, has been incomplete. Nearly 3,000 of the 16,200 eligible parents failed to return their voucher application forms. That is, even to someone of a simple mind, nearly 20 per cent. of the total. Within the areas concerned there have been large variations in the actual vouchers being brought into the nursery institution.

Confusion reigns. Parents cannot understand why they should be involved in a Government-inspired paper chase. Of course, those who will take up the vouchers are those in the private sector already. However, those in most need are most likely to miss out because of the bureaucratic nightmare. Thankfully, in London, where three out of the four pilots are operating, local education authorities recognise that it is not a viable option to admit only those with vouchers. The problem is exacerbated by the transient population, language difficulties and boundary considerations.

There has been no real change in admissions in the London boroughs that are operating the pilot scheme. Sensibly, schools are being paid in advance, with or without the relevant vouchers. It can hardly be said, therefore, that the money is following the voucher, contrary to what the Government have consistently argued.

Let us consider the much-vaunted provision of new places. In Norfolk, the chair of the education committee estimates a shortfall of 2,000 places. The vouchers will have little or no effect in Wandsworth, where almost all three and four-year-olds had places in nursery or reception classes. Westminster was already planning some expansion in partnership with the voluntary and private sectors. Kensington and Chelsea plans a little expansion, including partnerships, but faces space constraints.

Moreover, there is some evidence that parents are switching from private nurseries to schools in order to secure a place in a favoured local primary school. Ominously, it is now being alleged that employers are withdrawing subsidies for workplace nurseries as the voucher scheme is introduced.

What are the extra costs of making the pilot work? On the basis of written answers to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on 29 April and my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) on 24 April, I have computed that the initial subsidy allowed for propaganda purposes was £46.30 per child. The Minister admitted that the figure then shot up to £62.90 per child. Information garnered from parliamentary answers produced a total of £81.20 per eligible child, including the extra sweeteners in grant aid. When one considers the failure to participate of one fifth of those eligible for the scheme, the extra cost of the pilot scheme has now reached nearly £98 for every voucher-using child. That represents an add-on of almost 9 per cent. to the cost of the vouchers without providing extra places or delivering the quality that everyone outside the Government demands.

Those difficulties portend far greater problems. That is why we have consistently argued that there must be a full and proper evaluation of the pilot scheme before an unequivocal commitment is made to extending the scheme nationally.

I should like to digress a moment to flag up to the Minister that concerns have been expressed to me about the role of Capita, the company handling the vouchers. Allegedly, that company is also involved in other activities in certain boroughs. Does the Minister agree that the fact that the company is also dealing with council tax collection on behalf of a local authority might lead to a conflict of interest? [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I leave the House to draw its own conclusions on that. I am sure that such an organisation will have a database that can be cross-referenced and that might not be in the interests of people living in those particular boroughs.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kilfoyle

I am sorry, but time is limited.

At present, Capita is dealing only with the pilot schemes. However, on 13 May, the Western Mail ran an advertisement inviting contractors to tender for the second phase of the scheme. Although Capita apparently has failed to provide sufficient bilingual advice, the Government are talking about extending the scheme throughout the country. The advertisement makes allowances by stating: In Wales, vouchers will be in English and Welsh, and there will be a bilingual helpline. In Scotland there will also be a Gaelic helpline. The pilot scheme has revealed the failure of those most in need to find out about the voucher scheme simply because provision has not been made for the multitude of languages, particularly in some London boroughs. I wonder what will happen in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche), who tells me that more than 150 languages are spoken there. How will those people will able to gain access to nursery education?

During the debate on the Gracious Speech on 21 November, the hon. Member for Crosby (Sir M. Thornton), who chairs the Select Committee on Education and Employment, said: this is essentially a pilot to see whether the scheme can work, whether it can provide what we all want: an extension of nursery education. I ask her"— the Secretary of State, that is— to look at it with an open mind; if it does not work, she should have the courage to say so and that it should not be extended."—[Official Report, 21 November 1996; Vol. 267, c. 487–88.] Similarly, on Third Reading of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, the hon. Members for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) and for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) sought assurances that the Government would learn from the pilot scheme before pushing ahead with national implementation. What price those assurances now?

Opposition Members have consistently sought several things. We have pressed for decent buildings for nursery education. In the light of today's announcement about security arrangements—which was welcomed by Opposition Members, including my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—may I ask the Minister whether those arrangements, which will presumably apply to the 24,000-plus schools in the maintained sector, apply to the "settings", as they are euphemistically known by the Government? As the Minister knows from the Committee stage of the Bill, the Audit Commission estimates the potential number at nearly 40,000; some of those overlap with schools, but will the security arrangements be extended to the vulnerable young children in the "settings"?

As for teacher qualifications, we have been sadly disabused of any notion that qualified teachers will be made available at every stage—at least, qualified teachers as we understand them to be. We have argued for an effective system of inspection; yet, according to supplementary information for applicants on courses for those who wish to become registered inspectors, it is possible to be an inspector of nursery schools with a national vocational qualification at level 2, or to be an inspector with no qualifications at all, as long as the Government deem the applicant to have the necessary relevant experience—whatever that may be.

A note at the bottom of the sheet of supplementary information defines the "settings", which include a variety of schools, nurseries and playgroups". It seems that we are to ask unqualified people to inspect qualified professionals who are trying, in the face of great difficulties, to deliver quality nursery education.

Incidentally, those who undertake the course are invited to attend a three-day non-residential training and assessment course. They ought to be grateful, because The training will be free of charge", although applicants will be responsible for their own travel and subsistence costs. That strikes me as a rather shoddy way in which to provide qualified and experienced inspectors to consider the interests of nursery education.

We are still no further in terms of special educational needs. As for the protection of existing provision, we are told to leave it to the market. A report by the executive director of education and libraries for the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea clearly states that the committee is having great difficulty in making the necessary provision. Paragraph 5.1 states: Major expansion of nursery provision is severely limited by the lack of capital approvals and the physical constraints of some of our school buildings. There is little or no chance of the market providing in that regard.

All those requirements add up to the delivery of nursery education of a quality appropriate to a modern society—a society that is concerned with preparing our children for a first-world nursery education system. I could say more—similar reports have come from Wandsworth and Norfolk—but I am conscious of the time. The statutory instruments offer the House the opportunity to insist that Government meet the demands of common sense before recklessly charging into a national scheme that will worsen the situation immeasurably. I ask hon. Members to vote against them, and to vote for the motion.

10.34 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment (Mr. Robin Squire)

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) has given no good reason for Opposition Members to object to the regulations. They do no more than enable the Secretary of State to pay grant to providers in the state, the private and the voluntary sectors in exchange for nursery education for four-year-olds. The expansion of quality nursery education is, as I have been told many times by Opposition Members, a goal that is shared by all hon Members.

The regulations are the means by which we can implement the first phase of the nursery education voucher scheme which, as the House knows, started last month. The scheme will be extended to the rest of the United Kingdom next year. The regulations will be used in England for a maximum of one year. For phase 2, subject to parliamentary approval there will be a specific power to pay grant to providers of nursery education under the relevant legislation.

Revoking the regulations would simply delay the introduction of the scheme and, most importantly, remove the possibility of assessing how the scheme operates in phase 1. I can see no reasonable argument for doing that, and can only assume that the Opposition are running scared of the likely success of the scheme. There is no disagreement about the fact that nursery education is intrinsically good. Our intention is to give parents the power and the wherewithal to be able to choose the best place for their child. We want to bring that about as soon as possible while bearing in mind the fact that a scheme as new as this ideally needs to be examined on a small scale before full implementation. That is why we invited local education authorities to volunteer to join phase 1 from April. I am grateful to those LEAs that did so. They have helped to shape the detail of the scheme and are reaping the benefit of increased nursery places.

Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

Norfolk county council is one of the authorities that are taking part in the voucher scheme. Any difficulties about the scheme that have been reported to me have been dealt with straightforwardly by the county council. Will the Minister confirm that the scheme in Norfolk seems to be running successfully and smoothly with minimum problems?

Mr. Squire

I am delighted to confirm what my hon Friend has said. As he may know, in terms of vouchers issued as a percentage of the estimated number of parents, the Norfolk figure is 93 per cent. At the very least that suggests that the problems that the hon Member for Walton hinted at are not universal. It comes ill from the hon Member to jibe at the fact that there were just four volunteer LEAs because his words and those of his hon Friends no doubt dissuaded many LEAs from taking part, thus denying to the parents of four-year-olds the benefits that are available this year.

Mr. Hawkins

Does the Minister share my astonishment at the sheer effrontery of the suggestion by the hon Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) that the scheme would not help much in Wandsworth because the vast majority of three and four-year-olds there already get full-time nursery education? Does the Minister agree that that is precisely because of the enlightened leadership in Wandsworth of a Conservative administration by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, Central (Sir P. Beresford) and his successors? It is astonishing that the hon Member for Walton should quote Wandsworth in arguing against the scheme.

Mr. Squire

Game, set and match to my hon Friend, not least because, as the House will remember, we are regularly told that Conservative authorities have not been good at LEA provision. As my hon. Friend makes clear, Wandsworth has been doing well.

The voluntary nature of phase 1 makes it all the more surprising that Opposition Members have prayed against the regulations. The local authorities involved have agreed to the funding arrangements that we are putting in place. No other local education authority region is affected. Private and voluntary providers in the phase 1 regions which do not wish to take part in the scheme and which have not registered with the voucher company will not be affected by the regulations.

In truth, Labour Members want to obstruct the implementation of phase 1 in a startlingly cavalier fashion. It is as though they want to punish the local authorities that have taken a positive and forward-thinking step. Do Labour Members really want those local authorities not to be able to regain funding that has already been deducted for the voucher scheme? Do they really want to deny more than 16,000 four-year-olds a choice that they might not have had before?

It is a selfish stance. It is also a strange one in the light of comments by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) that, in the event of a Labour Government, he will honour the vouchers that have been issued. What sort of promise is that in the face of tonight's action? I conclude that Labour Members want merely to make mischief and that, having lost the argument on the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, this is just a smokescreen.

The hon. Member for Walton mentioned qualified teacher status, which, again, is familiar territory for hon. Members who served on the Committee that considered the Bill. Let me underline again that the Government do not share the view that quality nursery education can be achieved only if all voucher-redeeming institutions are led by staff with qualified teacher status. Labour Members have said that they too want the private and voluntary sectors to play an important part in the expansion of good-quality nursery places. Insisting on QTS would exclude the vast majority of those providers, who are providing excellent pre-school education.

The staff leading the way and working in many of our nurseries and playgroups already have the relevant qualifications and experience to offer children a wealth of personal, social and learning skills. The new money flowing into those sectors can only improve the existing provision.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Squire

I will give way, but for the last time.

Mr. Soley

It is on that issue. Many of us are worried about the quality of education in some private institutions. Is the Minister saying that only the head needs to be qualified, or is he saying nothing about the qualifications of the rest of the staff?

Mr. Squire

I refer the hon. Gentleman, who was not blessed with joining us on the Standing Committee and who obviously missed the exchanges on this, to the Audit Commission's report earlier this year, which considered the various settings. One of the report's central conclusions was that, in terms of the quality of provision, no inherent assumption could be made that one setting was invariably better than the other. Not only Labour Members, but Liberal Democrats say that they wish to encourage these providers, but their suggestions, if adopted, would deny those providers the chance to take part in the expansion of nursery education.

Let me turn to evaluation. Labour Members have regularly stated concerns about how lessons learned in phase 1 can be applied to phase 2. They have made that clear in debates in Committee, on Second Reading and during Report, but it makes no sense to block a move that will help to achieve one of their main demands. If there were no phase 1, the scheme would be implemented throughout the country without any evaluation. That is yet another example of Labour Members' inconsistency. They ask for something, it materialises and then they reject it.

I am sure that many local authorities throughout the country are anxious for phase 1 to develop so that they can see how the volunteer authorities fare. It is in everyone's interests that any necessary fine-tuning takes place before phase 2. Let me make it clear that many LEAs, regardless of political control, will not thank Labour Members for their interventions tonight.

Ms Margaret Hodge (Barking)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Squire

I have given way a lot, unlike the hon. Member for Walton, and other hon. Members want to contribute.

It is self-evident that full evaluation of the scheme will not be possible until it is fully implemented. For such evaluation to be of any constructive use, clearly, it needs to be undertaken over a longer term, but it is equally clear that we can learn some important lessons from phase 1. As I have said, those in turn will ensure that phase 2 is implemented as smoothly and as successfully as possible. In fact, the interest and co-operation shown by volunteer authorities makes this a unique and valuable opportunity because we all want the scheme to work.

The operational issues that we are looking at cover the mechanics of the issue and redemption of vouchers, the payment process and how money reaches providers and how well the voucher company handles the task. We are already learning lessons about the mechanics of issuing vouchers. Parents in the phase 1 areas have now received their first vouchers. We can review how effectively application forms are reaching parents of eligible children and how many of those parents have been contacted directly through the child benefit data base.

I am happy to report to the House that implementation is proceeding as planned. I am happy with the progress so far. Some 630 providers from the private and voluntary sectors have registered to take part in the scheme. On average, over 80 per cent. of parents in the phase 1 areas have now received their vouchers and many will have already handed them over to providers of their own choosing.

In a matter of weeks we will be in a position to know how the vouchers have been exchanged with specific providers. There are initial indications of an expansion of places in response to the voucher initiative. That is one of the most important pieces of information. We have already made the first payment of grant to individual providers. We will be looking at how quickly the voucher triggers payment and how money reaches the provider, be it the local education authority, the Funding Agency for Schools or an individual establishment.

There are other areas for consideration which have been set out in debates during the passage of the Bill, but in the interest of other hon. Members who wish to participate, I will not itemise them now. This is in the interests of parents, local authorities, providers and the children.

It would be wrong to revoke the regulations. They serve a purely functional purpose, enabling grants to be paid to providers of nursery education to four-year-olds. They apply only to the four volunteer areas. More importantly, the first phase enables key operational aspects of the scheme to be fully tested so that phase 2 is a success. This is good news for anybody who may be anxious about the scheme and how it will impact on local authority provision. It should be welcomed rather than frustrated. I call on the House to reject the motions.

10.46 pm
Mr. Barry Jones (Alyn and Deeside)

I have always appreciated the Minister's genial speeches but I disagree with him tonight.

Young parents, head teachers, school governors, nursery school teachers and their class assistants have all lobbied me most vociferously against the scheme. I am only in my 26th year in this honourable House and I have never experienced anything like the protests I have received in my constituency. Previously, my biggest mailbag was on the sad case of the beagle dogs who were being experimented upon and being forced to smoke cigarettes. I am now being overwhelmed by letters and lengthy petitions against this scheme. I have received 5,000 signatures of young parents in my constituency.

The professionals, the teachers and the young mothers at the school gate are adamant that they do not want the scheme and do not wish to see the "progress" suggested by the Minister. I have visited a dozen primary schools this year and I have held informal and formal talks and conducted several public meetings on the matter. At a public meeting in Connah's quay 60 parents decided that they wanted to debate the matter as soon as the school had closed. They left me in no doubt about their hostility, suspicion and anger over the voucher scheme. They felt that the scheme was liable to be socially divisive. They said that it might put money into the pockets of the well-off and menace the existing provision of nursery schooling.

I have here a typical petition. It is from the Dee Road infants school in my constituency and is headed: Petition Opposing the Proposed Changes to Nursery Education". It says: We the undersigned would like to express our opposition to the proposed changes to Nursery Education in Wales. The present system is excellent and we feel the proposed changes would be detrimental to our children's education now and in the future. I was so impressed by the case made and the passion with which it was expressed that I undertook to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

In my county, we already have a very good nursery school system. My constituents—parents, teachers and governors of the schools in question—want none of the initiative put forward by Ministers. My constituents have asked me to tell the House that, at the very least, they want Wales to be exempted from the scheme. We want a voucher-free zone. There is no call in Wales for this scheme; there is mounting hostility to it. We are saying to the Secretary of State for Wales that he can opt out; he has the powers to do so.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Rod Richards)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Jones

No, I do not have time. I hope that the Under-Secretary will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I thank him for his correspondence.

The people of Wales want the Secretary of State for Wales to opt out. My constituents are saying to him, "If it works, do not fix it." Even at this late hour, we ask the Secretary of State to ask the Welsh Office to leave Wales alone. If the scheme has to go forward, let it be consigned to England.

I remind the House that, 24 years ago, I heard and saw Baroness Thatcher, the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, make a very good speech about nursery schools at the Dispatch Box. It was on the lines of the debate on the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill. The speech was about her plans to increase nursery school places. The right hon. Lady, as she then was, wanted only £50 million a year for universal part-time nursery schooling, and only £100 million for capital expenditure. Of course, her plans were in being before the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided on a massive hike in oil prices.

Perhaps in some respects, Mrs. Thatcher's speech was the most important departmental speech on education of the 1970s. As I remember—I have re-read it—it was an emollient speech. It was not Thatcherite in style. It was made before she succumbed to the 1970s ideology of the late Sir Keith Joseph. However, it contained one trailer of the Thatcherite future. She said: There are such things as direct grant nursery schools where the capital provision is made by the parents".— [Official Report, 12 May 1972; Vol. 836, c. 1766.] Was that choice sentence that was embedded in her emollient speech that day the origin of tonight's grants and regulations? Since Mrs. Thatcher's speech 24 years ago, Britain has enjoyed about £120 billion-worth of North sea oil revenues and about £80 billion from privatisation moneys. For all but four of the 24 years since that speech the Conservatives have held power, yet the advance of nursery school provision has been wretchedly slow—[Interruption.] Please be quiet. Yes, once I was a schoolteacher, and two naughty girls—or rather, two naughty persons—are sitting in front of me. My hon. Friends the Members for Barking (Ms Hodge) and for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) might have the courtesy to be silent while I am speaking, especially as they have been in the House only since 1992.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. The hon. Gentleman can safely leave such matters in the hands of the headmaster.

Mr. Jones

I am glad that you have offered protection to my hon. Friends, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because they mean well.

Britain now has a culture of drugs, of harsh violence, of offensive graffiti, of almost universal vandalism, of widespread unemployment and of urban decay. In that context, nursery schooling is vital, and my constituents are saying to me, "In Wales, can we consign the voucher system to the dustbin of history?"

10.55 pm
Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

I greatly enjoyed the reference by the hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) to my right hon. and noble Friend Lady Thatcher, and I am certain that she will enjoy his compliments.

If you will allow me to digress for a moment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall express my thanks and appreciation for what the Minister has said about security in schools. The whole House will welcome it, as well as the fact that all the recommendations have been accepted. I was also pleased to hear the cheerful comments—at least, those about security in schools were cheerful—by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle). It is good to see some agreement on that important issue between those who sit on the two Front Benches.

This is the third time that we have sought to debate the regulations. The first time, Opposition Members did not attend for the debate. They were not here, which gives us a clear idea of the importance that they really attach to nursery education. The second time that we tried, the business changed. Now we are on our third attempt and, having listened to the hon. Member for Walton, I wonder why he bothered.

None the less, this will be a short but important debate about the Government's scheme to introduce nursery education vouchers—an initiative that will place in the hands of parents a voucher worth £1,100, which may be exchanged either for a part-time nursery place or, where one may be on offer, for a full-time reception class place.

I have no doubts about the effectiveness of the scheme; my principal concerns are about the black propaganda currently circulating, which is clearly intended to discredit vouchers. That propaganda seeks to worry and distract parents by suggesting, for example, that the voucher scheme will reduce choice, and that it may not have adequate quality—the hon. Member for Walton said that again tonight. It is also suggested that there will not be enough places for all those whose parents seek to take advantage of the scheme, or that the system is bureaucratic. The usual phrase used—again, the hon. Gentleman used it—describes it as a "paper-chase". It is alleged that the scheme will cut the primary places now on offer for three-year-olds.

All those fears are groundless, and all the concerns have been fabricated for political rather than for educational reasons. All those synthetic reasons have been advanced in an effort to secure cheap political advantage. What I have to say about Opposition Members applies to the Liberal spokesman, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), too—I mentioned him deliberately, to wake him up, because I thought that he was dozing off. If Opposition Members had had the imagination or the courage to introduce vouchers they would now be telling us that vouchers were the best thing for parents since apple pie. But because Opposition Members do not have the wit or the imagination, they seek to denigrate a first-rate scheme that will be of positive benefit and positive advantage to all the nation's nursery children.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

I agree with my hon. Friend. The black propaganda that is being put out by the Labour party has certainly broken out in my constituency after the visit by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett), who encouraged people to march in the streets against this scheme. Perhaps my hon. Friend might reflect in his comments that the Opposition have failed to address the fact that the scheme will give many thousands of four-year-olds the chance of nursery education which they did not have before. Whatever the merits of the scheme, at least some children will be able to enjoy nursery education who were denied that provision before. That is something that the Opposition have failed to understand and that they have certainly failed to promote. I hope that my hon. Friend will promote it.

Mr. Pawsey

My hon. Friend made one of his typically telling interventions. He raised a very salient point, and I am sure that the House has noted with the utmost care what he had to say.

Contrary to the black propaganda, vouchers should not damage any existing local education authority schemes, and parents can continue to send their children to them if they so wish. Conservative Members have sought to add a greater element of choice, and the introduction of vouchers will not require LEAs to change existing admission patterns—which is quite contrary to what has been suggested by some Labour Members.

I believe that some LEAs will, however, want to maintain or perhaps slightly modify their current admission patterns, which should increase the number of admissions and increase voucher income. That will assist materially in improving the quality of what is on offer. If an LEA wished to admit an entire year group into a reception class in September, it can do so. The voucher merely triggers the flow of resources from the Department for Education and Employment to the LEA, and then to the appropriate school.

I can remember Jim Callaghan saying that a lie can be halfway round the world before truth has pulled on its boots. I mention that because it is alleged that the introduction of the voucher will destroy existing LEA provision for three-year-olds. That is simply not true. There is absolutely no reason why provision for three-year-olds should be damaged. No resources have been deducted from the LEA's standard spending assessments for provision for three-year-olds.

It is anticipated that the total amount available for nursery education vouchers will be about £750 million, much of which will be derived from recycled funds that already exist for nursery education. But—it is an important "but"—a further £165 million of new money has been found and allocated. That is a clear indication of the importance that the Government attach to nursery education.

I shall briefly, because of the lateness of the hour, return to the pilot schemes that are now up and running. More than 1,100 providers have so far registered to be part of the pilot schemes, and that figure includes about 650 applications from the private and voluntary sectors, which is almost two thirds of the total. That number clearly shows the interest and the enthusiasm that has been displayed for this scheme. It also clearly shows that there will be more than enough places for children when the scheme goes national next April. I say that because I am again aware that the black propagandists—which I sometimes think is an alternative way of describing the Labour and the Liberal parties—have said that there will be insufficient places. Those who claim that are simply wrong and the success of the pilots underlines that point.

I wonder if I might now turn to the motion. You will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that, unusually, the motion bears seven names instead of the usual six. Provision has been found for the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Byers) to include his name on the motion, but the House will be surprised to see that no room has been found for the shadow Chancellor to do so. You may think that it is not simply an accidental omission. I make that point because I was interested to see in the Daily Mail today the comment: Intrigue that left Brown a bitter man". The Sun said: Labour in turmoil. Showdown. Sack PR boss Mandelson for his vendetta against me, rages Brown.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. What does that have to do with the motion? The hon. Gentleman must confine his remarks to the motion that we are debating.

Mr. Pawsey

I was merely seeking to inquire why, unusually, the shadow Chancellor's name does not appear on the motion on the Order Paper. You will see that there is a substantial list of names, but that his is an important omission. I was merely suggesting to the House the reasons why it may not be there, but I was—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. What does the Daily Mail report have to do with this motion?

Mr. Pawsey

I was merely commenting on certain of the statements which that esteemed paper had made. I shall return to the motion and join my hon. Friend the Minister in urging the House to reject it.

11.6 pm

Mr. Don Foster (Bath)

During our discussions in Committee, I was accused of having a special relationship with the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey). So I was delighted by some of his remarks about me and about the Liberal Democrats, which I think will remove any fears that such a relationship exists. However, I agree with the hon. Gentleman on one thing, namely, the Government's acceptance of the recommendations in respect of school safety. We were all delighted not only by the comprehensive nature of the recommendations but by the fact that the Secretary of State accepted them in their entirety.

I disagree with the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth in relation to tonight's debate. He referred to black propaganda and accused those whom he said were guilty of spreading it of not having the wit or imagination to see how wonderful the scheme was. Unfortunately, in making such a remark, he criticises not only Opposition parties but all those organisations which have had any involvement with early-years education. Not one organisation involved in high-quality early-years education has not expressed reservations to one degree or another about the proposals contained in the legislation, which will be triggered by the regulations that we are considering tonight.

The "black propaganda" described by the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth has been made by a large number of highly reputable organisations which join me in believing that the nursery vouchers proposals are cumbersome and bureaucratic; that they will not deliver high-quality provision; that they will not significantly expand provision; that they do nothing to help the provision for three-year-olds and could harm what provision exists for them; and that the scheme does nothing to provide additional support for children with special educational needs. In short, the scheme is a woefully underfunded gimmick which will not meet the needs of the nation.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) called for Wales not to be included in the scheme. There are equally powerful calls for it not to apply to any other part of the country.

To accept the regulations would imply support for an incredibly bureaucratic and cumbersome scheme that my party fundamentally opposes. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth tried to pretend that it was not bureaucratic and cumbersome. Let me remind him of how the scheme works in the trials and pilots. Imagine how it applies to a local education authority nursing school.

Under the management of Capita Ltd., the scheme works like this. The Child Benefit Agency sends an application form to the parent. The parent completes it and sends it back to Capita. Capita sends back a voucher. The parent gives that to the school, which gives it to the LEA, which in turn sends it back to Capita. Capita confirms receipt to the Department, which sends the money earlier removed by the Government from the LEA's budget to the LEA, which then hands it back to the school. All that from a Government pledged to the removal of red tape. It is hardly surprising that many of the parents eligible for vouchers in the trial areas did not apply for them or thought that they could use them to buy school uniforms, despite the large sums that have been spent on advertising.

It is hardly surprising that people in the pilot areas feel conned and cheated. They believed that vouchers would guarantee places for their children but there are insufficient places in the trial areas to meet demand. Many other concerns about how the trials operate have been expressed in those areas.

For example, I received a letter from a head teacher at a Norfolk nursery school that stated: Parents have been very confused and frustrated by the nursery voucher system. That is hardly surprising.

In the same letter, the head teacher expresses her concern: There has also been a noticeable decline in relationships between providers now that they are required to compete for nursery voucher children. This will not help the children as they move from one form of provision to another, e.g. from playgroup to school. Conflict and competition between providers has a negative effect on the whole community and therefore cannot be good for children.

Mr. Patrick Thompson

The hon. Gentleman referred to Norfolk. As I said in my intervention on my hon. Friend the Minister, I have of course had one or two problems in my constituency postbag. The hon. Gentleman fails to recognise that every problem that I, as a Norfolk Member, have received has been clearly answered by the local education authority and sorted out. The level of complaints that I have received has been remarkably small considering that it is a trial period. He must not exaggerate the problems.

Mr. Foster

If the hon. Gentleman believes from his postbag and his experience as a hard-working constituency Member of Parliament that the trial can pass on happily without difficulty and be translated to full implementation nationwide, he has another think coming. One reason why some of the difficulties have been overcome in Norfolk is that significant additional sums of money and a range of bribes have been offered which will not be offered to other local education authorities for the full scheme.

I hope that I have demonstrated why we do not support the scheme. To support the regulations would be implicitly to support the scheme as a whole. For that reason, we shall certainly not vote for the regulations.

11.13 pm
Sir Malcolm Thornton (Crosby)

It may be that the fears expressed by hon. Members will prove groundless—time will tell. We know that a remarkable consensus exists on nursery education, underpinned by its benefits and the absolute need to ensure the highest possible quality. Those are the givens in this debate, on which there is no disagreement either within or outside the House.

I reiterate the concern that I expressed in the debate on the Loyal Address, to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) referred, when I told my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that if a pilot means anything it means objective analysis of every part of the scheme's implementation in the pilot areas. It means monitoring whether the scheme is working and delivering the quality that I mentioned. I hope that the Minister will repeat the assurance given by my right hon. Friend that if the scheme does not work the Government will be prepared to consider whatever amendments need to be made before we risk full implementation throughout the country.

11.15 pm
Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

Today we heard the Prime Minister commit the taxpayer to spending probably millions of pounds to deal with some of the problems found in and around our schools; yet tonight we are debating a pathetically inadequate and bureaucratic measure instead of well-funded, high-quality nursery education which would help to head off some of the problems facing our schools If the Government had only a small fraction of a policy for the families of Britain, they would not be introducing measures that will undermine family structure. When I intervened on the Minister, he seemed to indicate that a private sector nursery could have virtually no qualified staff. Although there are many private sector establishments—such as Bringing up Baby in my constituency, which I helped to establish—which are of a good standard and use highly qualified staff, many are of poor quality. It seems that the Government are to take money from local authorities to subsidise a scheme which will not produce the standards that we want. Quality is critical.

As the Liberal spokesman said, we are asking local authorities to implement an incredibly bureaucratic system. As the Minister knows, Hammersmith and Fulham council has one of the best reputations for good quality nursery education. For the first time in six years, it is having to cut nursery education because of Government-imposed cuts on local authorities. Prior to that, the authority was protecting nursery education by making cuts elsewhere. That is no longer possible. Good nursery schools such as James Lee and Vanessa have to suffer cuts. Sometimes that may be only a fraction of a teaching post, but I remind the Minister—who represents a London constituency, if one can say that Hornchurch is in London—that the capital has the specific problem, in addition to those affecting other inner cities, of multilingual children, including many refugees, who require extra tuition. Education authorities are asked to deal with that situation because the Government allow refugees—rightly, in my view—to enter this country. Why on earth are the Government introducing a scatterbrained scheme that does not address the provision of high-quality nursery education?

The Minister answered my intervention in a way that suggested that the quality of staff training is not sufficiently high. Even the Government now recognise that poor quality education in Britain has been part of the country's economic and social problems for many years; yet they are prepared to give money to organisations that may not be up to the job. Nursery education should be high quality and use highly trained teachers, and it should be universally available. The Minister should rethink the scheme. He should not waste money on bureaucratic experiments that no one wants. Conservative parents and Labour parents agree on that. Parents want the money to be spent on achieving high-quality nursery education with well-qualified staff, whether in the public sector or in the private sector. If the Minister rethinks the scheme, he might get some support.

11.19 pm
Ms Estelle Morris (Birmingham, Yardley)

The debate is important because the regulations relate to the financial arrangements for phase 1 of the nursery voucher scheme and they will become the financial provisions that will govern phase 2 of the scheme. The Minister is absolutely right: this is a last chance attempt to stop phase 1 going to phase 2 before a proper evaluation takes place. There will not be a further opportunity for hon. Members to debate whether they want a nationwide nursery voucher scheme. Despite the best efforts of the Labour party, there will be no proper scrutiny or full evaluation of phase 1 before phase 2 is imposed.

The hon. Member for Crosby (Sir M. Thornton) is Chairman of the Select Committee on Education and Employment. He must reflect on this before he casts his vote this evening. No matter what the situation in phase 1 at the end of March next year, and no matter how serious the flaws, he cannot believe that the Government have no intention of proceeding with phase 2. That is the importance of today's vote—it is a last chance, but it is a real chance, to stop an unpopular and wasteful system being imposed on the rest of the country.

Throughout the consideration of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, the Minister failed to explain or to justify why he will not deal with the issue in a sensible and responsible way. Time after time—from the Queen's Speech in the autumn to Third Reading of the Bill in the spring—hon. Members on both sides of the House pleaded with the Minister properly to evaluate phase 1 of the scheme. The hon. Member for Crosby and his colleagues the hon. Members for Carshalton and Wallington (Mr. Forman) and for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) must be deeply disappointed that the Minister has not listened to their calls for a proper evaluation.

It is not only politicians who have urged caution: teachers, governors, parents, local authorities and nursery providers have all made a strong argument for evaluation before expansion. It is sad—it is as though the Government are trying to make up for lost time. It has taken them 17 years to learn what others have known all that time—that nursery education is vital for a child's success. The Government have spent almost two decades doing nothing, and now they will not be sensible enough to pause for thought. Late converts are welcome. The Minister must learn to listen and to listen well.

There is already ample evidence that a second thought would be wise. The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) talked about black propaganda—the only propaganda in this House is blue, not black. The Labour party does not talk about propaganda, it talks about the real experiences of real people in the phase 1 scheme. At the start of the phase 1 scheme, 2,000 parents have vouchers but no places, parents in Wandsworth have places but do not understand why they now need a voucher, and 20 per cent. of parents have not returned the application form.

On the evidence so far, the House would be acting irresponsibly if it did not make the Government pause and properly evaluate before going any further; to do anything else would be an abuse of public funds. The Tory record on pre-school education is one of broken promises and missed opportunities. As my hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones) said, from Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s to John Major in the 1990s, a generation of children have been denied the start that they need to their schooling because the Tories have failed to keep their word—and they are doing it again tonight. The Prime Minister's cast-iron commitment of last year is as far away today as it has ever been.

On this issue at least, the Government could keep their promises. The money that they are earmarking tonight for the nursery voucher scheme could have been earmarked for real nursery places for real children in top quality nursery schools. But instead of spending the money to keep their promises, the Government choose to give it to men who will shuffle paper. The statutory instruments that we are discussing approve £10 million to be spent on shifting 20 million pieces of paper around the system. They approve £1.1 million in publicity. An undisclosed sum will be paid to a management company, That will mean reducing places for three-year-olds. What a waste of resources and opportunity.

After two decades of failure and inaction, on this occasion the Minister owed it to parents and children to spend their money on places, not paper. It is foolhardy to implement the voucher system without proper evaluation. To approve the statutory instruments before us tonight would do exactly that. That is why the House should approve the motion to reject them.

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

As the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment, my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Squire), said earlier, I must say that I have heard no intelligent argument from Opposition Members to convince me that the regulations that we have debated tonight should be revoked.

I was surprised at the paucity of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), which was only exceeded by his ignorance of the regulations that he seeks to block. For his information, statutory instrument No. 235 is more detailed than statutory instrument No. 353. Statutory instrument No. 235 is a regulation made under the grants for education support and training scheme, a well-known scheme for specific funding. The primary legislation underpinning those regulations requires that detail. Statutory instrument No. 353 is based on a very general grant-giving power, and the primary legislation does not require the same detail. I fail to understand why the hon. Gentleman asked that question in his opening remarks.

We had excellent interventions from my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson), who showed us that the scheme is now working well in Norfolk. He was able to put the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) straight, as the hon. Gentleman obviously fails to understand the procedure for providers and parents, which is very streamlined. The hon. Gentleman gave exaggerated evidence of the problems, but I suppose that that is to be expected from the Liberal Democrats, who exaggerate at every opportunity.

The hon. Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones), who graciously chaired our Committee proceedings on the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill, seemed to be having problems coping with his constituency correspondence. He spoke of the menace of nursery education and wanted a voucher-free zone, but the message that came across was that he wanted Welsh parents to have less choice than English parents. He would not even give way to the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, North-West (Mr. Richards), who wanted to put him straight on the matter. I was surprised that the hon. Member also gave us the strong impression that he considers that women should be seen and not heard.

A first-class contribution was made to the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), who as usual showed great understanding of our education policies. As we sought to explain, the regulations are simply a vehicle to enable grant to be paid to providers of nursery education, and they are being used to implement the first phase of the nursery education voucher scheme. Moreover, the regulations affect only providers in four local authority areas, and on a purely voluntary basis. Revoking the regulations would penalise the very institutions that we should encourage—forward-thinking providers who want to expand the availability of nursery education. The four local authorities would not be able to regain the funding that has already been deducted for the scheme.

We want the voucher scheme to be a success for parents and providers alike. Ultimately, children will be the main beneficiaries. We are confident that, in time, the additional demand created by the voucher scheme will lead to all four-year-olds having the chance of nursery education. Phase 1 allows us to test fully the operational arrangements that we are, setting up. That process will ensure that when phase 2 is implemented it is efficient and cost-effective.

As for quality, we have imposed important safeguards to ensure that only providers of good quality education take part in phase 1. The requirement that all providers must publish information about their provision, accommodation and staff will enable parents to make an informed decision.

If the Labour party is so firmly opposed to nursery vouchers, where are its alternative proposals? At present, nursery education depends on chance—the chance that parents can afford it or that they live in an area where such education is provided. We want choice, not chance, and that is exactly what the scheme will deliver: choice to parents wherever they live.

Dog-in-the-manger politics have brought the Labour party to the Opposition Dispatch Box in a mediocre and mean-minded attempt to rob pilot authorities of the funding that has already been deducted for the voucher scheme. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to reject the Opposition proposals.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 236.

Division No. 128] [11.30 pm
Adams, Mrs Irene Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Ainger, Nick Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Alton, David Clelland, David
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Coffey, Ann
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Cohen, Harry
Armstrong, Hilary Connarty, Michael
Ashton, Joe Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Corbett, Robin
Barnes, Harry Corbyn, Jeremy
Battle, John Corston, Jean
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Cousins, Jim
Beith, Rt Hon A J Cox, Tom
Bell, Stuart Cummings, John
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bennett, Andrew F Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Benton, Joe Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Dalyell, Tam
Betts, Clive Darling, Alistair
Blunkett, David Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Boateng, Paul Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)
Bradley, Keith Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Denham, John
Burden, Richard Dewar, Donald
Byers, Stephen Dixon, Don
Callaghan, Jim Dobson, Frank
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Donohoe, Brian H
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Dowd, Jim
Cann, Jamie Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomery) Eagle, Ms Angela
Chidgey, David Eastham, Ken
Church, Judith Etherington, Bill
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Fatchett, Derek MacShane, Denis
Fisher, Mark McWilliam, John
Flynn, Paul Madden, Max
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Maddock, Diana
Foster, Don (Bath) Mandelson, Peter
Foulkes, George Marek, Dr John
Fyfe, Maria Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Galbraith, Sam Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Galloway, George Martin, Michael J (Springburn)
Gapes, Mike Martlew, Eric
George, Bruce Maxton, John
Gerrard, Neil Meacher, Michael
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Michael, Alun
Godman, Dr Norman A Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Godsiff, Roger Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Golding, Mrs Llin Milburn, Alan
Graham, Thomas Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Moonie, Dr Lewis
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Morgan, Rhodri
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Grocott, Bruce Mowlam, Marjorie
Gunnell, John Mudie, George
Hall, Mike Mullin, Chris
Hanson, David Murphy, Paul
Hardy, Peter Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Harman, Ms Harriet O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
Harvey, Nick O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy O'Hara, Edward
Henderson, Doug Olner, Bill
Heppell, John Parry, Robert
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Pearson, Ian
Hinchliffe, David Pendry, Tom
Hodge, Margaret Pike, Peter L
Hoey, Kate Pope, Greg
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Home Robertson, John Prescott, Rt Hon John
Hood, Jimmy Raynsford, Nick
Howartn, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Reid, Dr John
Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Hoyle, Doug Rendel, David
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Robertson, George (Hamilton)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roche, Mrs Barbara
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Hutton, John Hooney, Terry
Illsley, Eric Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ingram, Adam Rowlands, Ted
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Simpson, Alan
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Skinner, Dennis
Jamieson, David Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Jenkins, Brian (SE Staff) Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Soley, Clive
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham) Spellar, John
Jowell, Tessa Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S) Steinberg, Gerry
Kennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n) Stott, Roger
Khabra, Piara S Sutcliffe, Gerry
Kilfoyle, Peter Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Kirkwood, Archy Tipping, Paddy
Lewis, Terry Trickett, Jon
Liddell, Mrs Helen Turner, Dennis
Livingstone, Ken Wallace, James
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Wareing, Robert N
Llwyd, Elfyn Watson, Mike
Loyden, Eddie Wicks, Malcolm
Lynne, Ms Liz Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
McAllion, John Wilson, Brian
McAvoy, Thomas Worthington, Tony
McCartney, Ian Wray, Jimmy
Macdonald, Calum Wright, Dr Tony
McFall, John
Mackinlay, Andrew Tellers for the Ayes:
McLeish, Henry Mrs Bridget Prentice and Mr. Malcolm Chisholm.
McMaster, Gordon
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Duncan, Alan
Alexander, Richard Duncan Smith, Iain
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Dunn, Bob
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Durant, Sir Anthony
Amess, David Dykes, Hugh
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Eggar, Rt Hon Tim
Ashby, David Elletson, Harold
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Baldry, Tony Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Evennett, David
Bates, Michael Faber, David
Batiste, Spencer Fabricant, Michael
Beggs, Roy Fenner, Dame Peggy
Bellingham, Henry Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Beresford, Sir Paul Fishburn, Dudley
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Forman, Nigel
Booth, Hartley Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Boswell, Tim Forth, Eric
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Bowis, John French, Douglas
Brazier, Julian Gale, Roger
Bright, Sir Graham Gallie, Phil
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Garnier, Edward
Browning, Mrs Angela Gillan, Cheryl
Budgen, Nicholas Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Burns, Simon Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Burt, Alistair Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Butcher, John Gorst, Sir John
Butler, Peter Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Carrington, Matthew Grylls, Sir Michael
Cash, William Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hague, Rt Hon William
Chapman, Sir Sydney Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Clappison, James Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hargreaves, Andrew
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ru'clif) Harris, David
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Haselhurst, Sir Alan
Coe, Sebastian Hawkins, Nick
Colvin, Michael Hayes, Jerry
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 Horam, John
Cran, James Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Day, Stephen Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Devlin, Tim Hunter, Andrew
Dicks, Terry Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jack, Michael
Dover, Den Jessel, Toby
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Richards, Rod
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Riddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr) Robathan, Andrew
Key, Robert Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
King, Rt Hon Tom Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Kirkhope, Timothy Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Knapman, Roger Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N) Sackville, Tom
Knox, Sir David Scott, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shaw, David (Dover)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Legg, Barry Soames, Nicholas
Leigh, Edward Spencer, Sir Derek
Lester, Sir James (Broxtowe) Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lidington, David Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Spink, Dr Robert
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Sproat, Iain
Lord, Michael Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacKay, Andrew Steen, Anthony
Maclean, Rt Hon David Stephen, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stewart, Allan
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Sweeney, Walter
Madel, Sir David Temple-Morris, Peter
Maitland, Lady Olga Thomason, Roy
Malone, Gerald Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Marland, Paul Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Mates, Michael Trend, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian Trotter, Neville
Merchant, Piers Twinn, Dran
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Viggers, Peter
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector Walden, George
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Needham, Rt Hon Richard Waller, Gary
Nelson, Anthony Waterson, Nigel
Neubert, Sir Michael Watts, John
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Wells, Bowen
Nicholls, Patrick Whitney, Ray
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Whittingdale, John
Norris, Steve Widdecombe, Ann
Oppenheim, Phillip Wilkinson, John
Ottaway, Richard Willetts, David
Page, Richard Wilshire, David
Paice, James Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Patnick, Sir Irvine Wolfson, Mark
Pawsey, James Wood, Timothy
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Yeo, Tim
Pickles, Eric Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Porter, David (Waveney)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Tellers for the Noes:
Redwood, Rt Hon John Mr. Gary Streeter and Mr. Gyles Brandreth.
Renton, Rt Hon Tim

Question accordingly negatived.