HC Deb 27 January 1997 vol 289 cc91-123

  1. '( )—(1) No baseline assessment scheme designed or adopted in accordance with sections 31–34 shall be used for the purposes of the selection of pupils as to school admissions whether by reference to ability or aptitude or otherwise.
  2. (2) The duty on a school governing body to adopt a scheme under section 32(1) and the duty to carry out assessment under such a scheme under section 33(1) shall be undertaken soley for the purposes for which the scheme was designed in accordance with section 31.'.—[Ms Estelle Morris.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Ms Estelle Morris

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 50, in clause 31, page 27, line 16, at end insert 'and no assessment under such a scheme shall be used for the purposes of selection as to school admissions whether by reference to ability or aptitude or otherwise.'. Government amendment No. 65.

No. 51, in clause 33, page 28, line 12, at end insert 'and such an assessment shall be undertaken solely for the purposes specified in section 31 above.'.

Ms Morris

I note that the group includes Government amendment No. 65, with which the Opposition have some sympathy, given that it was tabled in response to points made in Committee. I take this opportunity to thank the Minister for reflecting on the issues and to state our broad agreement with that amendment.

As we know, the main provisions of part I propose to extend selection in primary and secondary schools without the need to publish a statutory notice or to conduct the subsequent consultation. The proposal to expand selection in primary schools is a backward step that will find little support, but the purpose of the new clause is to ensure that baseline assessment is not used by schools as part of any selection process.

It is astonishing that, at a time when our primary schools face so many problems—class size, unfit and crumbling buildings, low literacy levels and poor teacher morale, to name but a few—the Government should find legislative time to introduce a measure that is irrelevant to primary pupils' needs. Currently, primary schools, like secondary schools, can select up to 15 per cent. of their intake without publishing a statutory notice. The Government intend to increase that limit to 20 per cent. It is strange that a party that spent its time in government in the 1970s closing more selective schools than any other Government in the history of this nation should reintroduce selection in its farewell piece of legislation in the 1990s.

Why is that happening? What is it all about? Can it be that Conservative Members have been bombarded with letters from parents clamouring for the introduction of a five-plus and a seven-plus? Are schools lobbying the Government, day in and day out, appealing to Ministers to allow them to select children at five or at seven? Is there new evidence to show that segregating pupils at five and seven will help to raise standards?

In Committee, the Minister could offer no evidence of any demand from anywhere for an extension of selection at primary level, but this part of the Bill is even more ill thought out. He admitted that he did not even know how many primary schools had used the existing power and had exercised their right to select. There we have it: a flagship piece of legislation—a half-a-flagship piece of legislation now—to establish a primary grammar school in every town, yet the Minister does not know whether parents or schools want it. He does not know how many primary schools already select or the effects—if any—of the selection that is already taking place. In Committee, he said: joyously, I might say—we do not know the answer. He added: I am able to display a degree of indifference".—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 26 November 1996; c. 94.] We would not mind the Minister's indifference or joyous ignorance so much if the provisions of part I were only irrelevant, but the trouble is that they are potentially damaging. The arguments against selection are well known and well made: it weakens parental choice and preference; it institutionalises low expectations of children; and it labels too many of our young children as failures. All the arguments that are self-evident in respect of selection at the age of 11 are even more self-evident in respect of children aged five or seven. I do not believe that primary schools want to select but, as long as the provision exists in legislation, schools may choose to deal with the problem of demand for places exceeding supply by selecting on ability or aptitude. This part of the Bill cannot be ignored—it is irrelevant but has to be tackled because it is dangerous.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

There are many hon. Members in the Chamber who did not sit on the Committee. May I inquire whether, in Committee, the Government dealt with the inevitable knock-on effect of the exercise of this scheme in respect of a journey to school from the neighbouring area? What was the Minister's response—if any—to that most disruptive effect on parents and pupils within any neighbourhood or town?

Ms Morris

My hon. Friend's interest in education and matters of selection and his support for comprehensive education are well known. One of the problems we encountered in Committee was that the Government failed to understand that, if one school decides to select, that decision affects other schools. The legislation not only gives individual schools the right to select, but creates troublesome consequences for all the other schools in the area. My hon. Friend gave some examples of the difficulties that might be caused.

At primary level, the vast majority of parents choose to send their children to local schools. There is, in most communities, a strong notion of a primary school serving its local neighbourhood. Children attend the same school as their brothers and sisters and their neighbours' children. They identify with the school in their community. The primary school is both parents' and pupils' introduction to the school system. That identity—that association of the primary school with its community—helps to give primary children stability. Selection at primary level threatens that. If schools select 20 per cent. of their intake through academic selection, the same number of children may be refused the right to attend their local school.

The 11-plus examination notoriously failed to predict accurately the academic potential of children. It often got it wrong and thousands of children paid the price. Why do Ministers think that a child's academic potential can be accurately predicted at the ages of five and seven, when we know that it cannot be done when the child is 11? What concerned us most in Committee was the Minister's suggestion that baseline assessment could be used by primary schools as the means of selecting pupils. That was worrying for two reasons. First, it will not work and, secondly and more seriously, it is a threat to the emerging consensus about the merits of baseline assessment.

There is a growing appreciation of the value of baseline assessment and the Minister knows that that part of the Bill was welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. Such assessment is a sensible approach to determining what a child knows and what the child can do when he or she starts school. It is useful for setting targets so that teachers can ensure that every pupil makes appropriate progress. In Labour-led local authorities where baseline assessment has been introduced and pioneered, it has already been shown that it can help to raise standards.

As far as I know, until the Minister spoke in Committee, no one had thought of using baseline assessment as a means of selecting children for primary school entry. The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority document makes it clear that it is not designed for that purpose. SCAA outlines four purposes of baseline assessment—to identify the child's strength and learning needs, to enable the teacher to plan appropriate teaching and learning activities, to identify the child's individual learning needs, including special educational needs, and to provide information that will inform future discussion with parents about their child's learning process. It is clear from the SCAA consultation document that none of the purposes of baseline assessment is fit for use as entrance tests at primary level.

The Minister must understand—he did not do so in Committee—that there is a vast difference between a technique, such as baseline assessment, that can identify a child's strengths and needs at a specific moment, and an assessment that can guess what his or her future academic achievement or potential might be.

I, for one, do not believe that it is possible to develop an effective five-plus or seven-plus assessment. I believe that it would be damaging to do so. It would not be welcomed by parents or schools. However, in many ways, that is not the purpose of new clause 9. The Minister has caused a serious problem: he has muddied the waters on baseline assessment and he has risked damaging the consensus that has been constructed around its introduction. It cannot be a way of diagnostically assessing a pupil and a predictor of academic ability.

New clause 9 would make clear once and for all what many of us believed—that baseline assessment should not be used as a means of selecting pupils at primary level. As baseline assessment is good for schools, good for children and good for parents, the Government should take no more risks with it. They should ensure that they take the opportunity to make it clear that baseline assessment was never intended to be used, and never will be used, as a way of allowing primary schools to select their pupils for intake at the age of five or seven.

Mr. Jamieson

In Committee, the Minister of State said that he felt that much of the legislation that had passed through the House in recent years had been concerned, not with raising the standards of children's education, but with tinkering with systems of education. We have before us tonight a proposal to introduce more selection in both primary and secondary schools—another example of the Government not finding ways to improve children's education, but tinkering with the system at the edges.

Mr. Spearing

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise for not raising the matter immediately, but I was taken by surprise. Is it not the custom of the House that when an amendment is moved, we receive an initial indication from the Government side of the House? Unless we do, some of the speeches that you may wish to hear from us will be bereft of the knowledge of the Government's point of view.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I cannot help that. It is entirely up to Ministers to attempt to catch my eye. If they do not do so, they do not get called.

Mr. Jamieson

Perhaps I may help my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). It would seem that, after the Division a few minutes ago, some of the steam has gone out of Ministers and there is a reluctance to speak about matters, except—

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. To clarify the matter for the House and for yourself, I fully intend to speak towards the end of the debate, if I have the opportunity to catch your eye.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is the explanation.

Mr. Jamieson

I thought that my well-chosen comments might bring the Minister to her feet to explain her silence and her Trappist appearance on the Front Bench. We look forward to hearing the Minister answer the excellent points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Ms Morris), but I noticed, during the passage of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Act 1996, when the Bill before us was discussed in Committee, and in many debates, that the Minister is sometimes reluctant to expose her views to the debates that we have in such Committees. I am sad that we have not had the benefit of the Minister's thoughts on these important matters as a prelude to our discussions.

When the Bill was introduced, we understood that selection would apply to the secondary sector. I seem to remember that even the Secretary of State looked taken aback when it was suggested that the proposals in this legislation might also apply to primary schools.

8.15 pm

I suspect that many of the Members who are, sadly, absent from the Conservative Benches tonight—

Mr. Pawsey

We are here.

Mr. Jamieson

I am glad to hear that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) is here. Perhaps later he might go and rally some of his troops and get them into the Lobby to vote on some of these matters. Very few Conservative Members are present, and we saw earlier that the Government could not even rally the troops for a vote on a vital clause. They have lost not once but twice. To lose a vote once is unfortunate, but twice is sheer carelessness. [Interruption.] I hope that the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth, who is barracking from a sedentary position, will go and use his barrack-room tactics on some of his hon. Friends, who were not in the Lobby to vote on what was thought to be a vital clause for the Government.

Mr. John Gunnell (Morley and Leeds, South)

In view of the clause being lost twice, it seems to me that the House has expressed its view on new clause 3 extremely firmly. It does not want it. It did not want it in Committee. The whole House does not want it. It cannot possibly be re-introduced in the Lords because we would then have the Government encouraging the Lords to overrule the Commons. Does my hon. Friend agree that that clearly would be completely out of order, constitutionally?

Mr. Pawsey

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I seek your advice? You have heard what Labour Members have said. Would I, however, be right in saying that there would be no objection to that new clause being introduced in another place, and that if it were carried in another place it could be introduced in this place, under the general heading of Lords amendments?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes)

I am not going to rule on hypothetical suggestions.

Mr. Jamieson

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. With your usual wisdom, you put the hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth firmly back in his place. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell) has raised an interesting constitutional issue. A vital part of a Bill has failed to pass through Committee and has failed to pass through the House tonight, and the Government may have to ask those in another place to amend something that we in this place have decided that we do not want. We look forward to that.

Mr. Pawsey


Mr. Jamieson

I see that the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene. I look forward to his explanation on this important matter.

Mr. Pawsey

The hon. Gentleman mentioned constitutional reform. Am I not right in saying that the Labour party wished to reform the other place? Given the circumstances of today's debate, do I take it that he, at least, will no longer support the constitutional proposals being advanced by his leader?

Mr. Jamieson

Madam Deputy Speaker, if I answered the hon. Gentleman, you would rightly draw me to order for speaking out of order on new clause 9.

Mr. Pawsey

That is a hypothetical case; try.

Mr. Jamieson

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that we shall have a reform in this place, and that will be that we shall shortly be sitting on the Government Benches, and those Conservative Members that are left—the rump, and possibly not the hon. Gentleman—will be sitting on the Opposition Benches.

Mr. David Evennett (Erith and Crayford)

Keep dreaming.

Mr. Jamieson

There are various questions about selection which Conservative Members really must answer. The first concerns a point that emerged clearly when the Bill was given its Second Reading—it was made by a number of Conservative Members too. Let us consider an area where the secondary school serves a local population and there are no other schools nearby. What happens if that school is oversubscribed and then decides to select—in the case of an LEA school, up to 20 per cent. of its intake? Will large numbers of local children be rejected in favour of children from well outside the area whose parents can afford the transport?

Before Christmas, the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment visited the excellent Tavistock college in Devon, where she saw the wonderful language unit and learned how popular the college is. It is a comprehensive school for 11 to 19-year-olds, and it achieves better results than were gained in the old days, when there were grammar schools and secondary moderns in the town. What would happen if a school like that, without consulting local people or the council, chose to run its own tests and set up a grammar stream? Could local parents be prevented from using their local school for their children? [Interruption.] The hon. Lady is deep in conversation with her ministerial colleagues on this vital point; I am glad that she is listening to their views.

The problem becomes even more serious in the context of primary schools. If an infant school operated some form of selection, that could have far reaching consequences for parents and children in the locality. It is quite reasonable to expect a child at secondary school to travel one or two miles—in rural areas, as much as 10 or 20 miles—but it would be outrageous if a primary school chose to go selective and ruled out a number of children from the neighbourhood.

How would the admissions criteria work when such a school decided to take some children via the selective procedure? What criteria would the school then use to turn down other children?

Listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley it was clear to me that there is no enthusiasm on the part of parents for further selective education. The Minister may recall that, 15 years ago or thereabouts, there were attempts in Solihull to return to selection. When parents realised that their local comprehensives could suddenly again become grammar schools or secondary moderns, they spoke out loud and clear. Further selection was roundly turned down—[Interruption.] I see that the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor) has arrived in the Chamber. I hope that he will give us the benefit of his enormous wisdom and experience. He and I served on Solihull council together. In fact, everything he knows he learned at my feet. He sat just in front of me in the council chamber and used to turn to me for advice and assistance. Being the generous person that I am, I helped him a great deal—and look where he is today. He will remember how parents in the area reacted. The good people of Knowle and Dorridge—hardly socialist enclaves, although we may have got a few votes from them—rose up to a man, or woman, and rejected the idea of more selection. They had had a taste of the old system and they did not like it or want to return to it.

The hon. Member for Solihull will know of the excellent Arden school, and of my old school, Tudor Grange, which now gets better examination results as a comprehensive than it did as a grammar school. The hon. Gentleman will know that more than 80 per cent. of the children at those two schools achieve five or more GCSEs at A to C grades. Parents there do not want to return to selection.

Mr. Pawsey

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that his argument is a powerful one in favour of added choice and diversity in schools? He will recall that, in Rugby, we have maintained grammar schools; we have Rugby high school for girls and Laurence Sheriff grammar school for boys, both of which have an enviable reputation in the town for providing high quality education. Does he agree that the quality of education rests to a great extent on the quality of the primary schools in Rugby? The fact is that the very existence of an 11-plus ensures a tendency to teach up to that examination, thereby enhancing all secondary education across the borough.

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman says that he believes in choice. We too believe in choice, but with a difference. Conservative Members believe that choice lies with the school—to choose its pupils. We believe that pupils and parents should choose the school. Selection means that the school selects the children, and there is no parental choice. If the hon. Gentleman is suggesting that all parents, regardless of the ability of their children, can choose to send the latter to grammar school, he is wrong. Children who do not pass the test end up in secondary moderns—there is no choice about that.

Real choice comes when parents can choose a good comprehensive on its merits from among several in the vicinity. That is real choice: not taking an examination and failing.

Mr. Pawsey

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in giving way to me a third time. The principle of selection was discredited in some quarters because we failed to put adequate funds into what were known as secondary moderns and junior technical schools. Does the hon. Gentleman agree with that? The mistake was not giving them an adequate share of resources between the 1940s and 1960s; had they received an adequate share, the tripartite system that worked so well in Germany would have worked equally well here.

Mr. Jamieson

There could be a great deal of truth in what the hon. Gentleman says, in some authorities' areas. It may have been true of Warwickshire. In the 1950s, secondary modern schools were often built without libraries because it was not thought that children who were going to leave at 15 would need them. The idea was that the girls would learn cookery and sewing and get married, and the boys would go off to learn a trade.

The problem is that the hon. Gentleman is arguing against a return to selection. Selection means that we hold some children in higher esteem than others—that is what was wrong with the bipartite system. Pupils who went to secondary moderns felt that they were receiving an inferior education. In Warwickshire—I have seen the papers to prove this—a few months after the 11-plus children received a piece of paper saying, "You have passed. You will be going to X or Y grammar school," or a different piece of paper saying, "You have failed. You will now go to the local secondary modern school." That is why those schools were not held in the same esteem in the public eye, and why we say that we need a fully comprehensive system. Selection is not appropriate because, unlike the hon. Gentleman, we do not want to return to the bad old days of the 1950s and 1960s.

8.30 pm
Mr. Pawsey

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way yet again. Does he accept that in Warwickshire, we have a safety net, as it is called? That means that young people who go to the high schools can transfer at age 16 to the sixth form in a grammar school. [Interruption.] I cannot give way to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Ms Morris) as this is an intervention, but if she wants to intervene in the speech by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) and take up the point, I shall be interested to hear her comments. She taught in Warwickshire schools, so she knows that pupils can transfer from a high school to a grammar school. The safety net operates in my county.

Mr. Jamieson

I wondered for a moment who the hon. Gentleman was intervening on—me or my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley. We must move on to baseline assessment.

Mr. Spearing

Those who read our debates or extracts from them may be puzzled. I cannot find the word "selection" in the Bill, or any implication that the Bill will be used for the selection of pupils into primary schools. The only words in the Bill which suggest that are the reference to assisting the future planning of their education and where the pupils in question transfer to other schools". Can my hon. Friend tell me the legal basis for the apparent purpose of the Government in giving schools the power to select pupils for entrance to primary schools?

Mr. Jamieson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the thoroughness with which he always tackles such matters. The Minister made it clear during Committee that an early clause of the Bill allowed primary schools to select their pupils. That was admitted by the Secretary of State on Second Reading. It would be interesting if my hon. Friend took up the point with the Minister later in the debate. Other parts of the Bill are falling apart, and with his great knowledge of such matters, perhaps my hon. Friend has noticed a fundamental flaw in the Bill.

We are pleased that the Government have been persuaded by our arguments on the important matter of baseline assessment, which allows teachers and parents to make an assessment of the progress of individual children, and the value added to their education by the school. We must test not just children's absolute achievement, but the progress that they have made from one stage to the next.

I was delighted to note that in a recent Ofsted report on a school in my constituency that takes some children from your constituency, Madam Deputy Speaker—the John Kitto community college—the Ofsted inspectors took into consideration true added value. They noted that 24 per cent. of the pupils at age 16 passed five or more GCSEs at grades A to C, which is about half the national average, but they commented that, according to the tests that the children had taken at age 11 to predict their performance at 16, only 12 per cent. would pass 5 GCSEs at grades A to C. Ofsted therefore recognised that although the school attained only half the national average in exam results, it has a huge added value for the children who attend it. The report also noted that 60 to 70 pupils per year out of 270 are selected to go to the local grammar school and do not attend the community college. I am pleased that Ofsted is now using a type of baseline assessment to measure the standards that are being value added to schools.

If baseline tests were used as a form of selection, that would be disastrous for two reasons. First, the tests should be used primarily not as summative tests, but as formative tests, to predict the sort of education that a child needs and the progress that he or she will make, and over a number of years to measure the progress that the child has made, and most of all, the effectiveness of the teaching and the education in the school. That is what baseline assessment should be about.

Secondly, parents' confidence in the process could be undermined, if they felt that a baseline test would be used in a selective way to rule their children out of a school, rather than being used by the teacher and the school as a means of assisting children in their education. If a baseline test were used to rule children out, many parents would object to their children taking the test, in case it was used to put their children on the fringes of the school. Using baseline tests for the purpose of selection could have a serious effect on parents' confidence in the system.

When the Minister sums up, perhaps she could answer a further point. If a child entered in the pre-compulsory year sector of a school—the nursery school—could the school use baseline tests at the end of the nursery stage to weed out those children that it did not want to take in the later stages? There is a danger that, used in that way, baseline testing could fragment children's education. Choice would rest with schools, rather than with parents.

Earlier in the debate we heard comments on recent announcements concerning matters such as cadets and the royal yacht Britannia. The Government thought that they had struck a popular vein, but they are profoundly out of touch with public opinion. On selection, and especially selection for primary schools, the Government are way out of touch with parents.

Mr. Pawsey

I again thank the hon. Gentleman for the courtesy that he has shown me this evening. It is out of character, but it is deeply appreciated none the less. I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the poll conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers shows support for selection. The hon. Gentleman is assiduous in these matters and will be aware of the poll. He will know that the majority of parents supported selection. I suggest to him gently that that undermines his entire case. He and his party would deny parents what they want in their children's education.

Mr. Jamieson

The wonderful thing about giving way to the hon. Gentleman is that he puts his foot in his mouth so much that he makes the Opposition case and destroys the Government's arguments. He has done it yet again. The hon. Gentleman misquotes the responses. When parents were asked whether they wanted grammar schools, many said yes. When parents were asked whether they wanted selection, they were not so happy. A very low percentage of parents wanted their children to attend secondary modern schools. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that the Government could use some of the funds that have mysteriously flowed to the Conservative party to test their focus groups. They could ask parents, "Do you want your child to attend a secondary modern school?", and I make a modest wager with the hon. Gentleman that less than 5 per cent. of parents would say yes.

Mr. Warren Hawksley (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

I served on the Shropshire county council education committee in the days when we had selection. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that parents might be so ambitious for their children as to believe that they would be successful and attend grammar schools? That might be why parents responded in the way that the hon. Gentleman claims.

Mr. Jamieson

If the hon. Gentleman had been present earlier, he would have heard the exchange involving the hon. Member for Solihull. Parents do not want their children to fail at school, and parents in that area did not want to return to a selective system because they knew full well that, under that system, four fifths of children fail at age 11. Selection does not have a great resonance for parents.

I shall be happy to give way to the hon. Gentleman if he wishes to intervene again. Will he tell us, honestly and frankly, how many parents in his constituency have written or spoken to him or petitioned him saying that they want their local comprehensive school split into a grammar school and a secondary modern school? How many letters of that type has the hon. Gentleman received? How many parents' groups has he met which demand the return of selection in his area so that children may take the 11-plus test?

Mr. Hawksley

That is not an issue in my constituency. The argument in Halesowen and Stourbridge is whether we should have grant-maintained schools. The local branch of the Labour party is doing everything it can to ensure that parents in my constituency are deprived of that opportunity. They are pressurised not to have grant-maintained schools. I believe that the Labour party is applying similar pressure in Dudley.

Mr. Jamieson

I have hit another rich vein, as another Conservative Member makes points for our side. The hon. Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley) claims that parents in his area, first, do not want selection and the 11-plus test; and, secondly, despite all the bribes, cannot be enticed to vote for schools to go grant maintained. Both of the Government's policies have failed. I did not intend to mention the Government's failed grant-maintained policy and the fact that just over 1,000 schools have opted out. The hon. Gentleman has confirmed that both of those policies have failed in his constituency not because of local Labour politicians or events in this House, but because perceptive parents who want the best for their children have roundly rejected those ideas.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)


Mr. Jamieson

Having said that we had hit a rich vein of failure, I willingly give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Marlow

If the grant-maintained policy has failed, why do "perceptive"—to use the hon. Gentleman's word—Labour Front Benchers move heaven and earth to ensure that their children attend grant-maintained schools?

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman will have to do a little better than that. Labour Members have no problems with parents sending their children to grant-maintained or any other schools. There is a grant-maintained Catholic boys school in my constituency. If parents who have profound and deeply held views about a particular religion—in this case, it is the Catholic Church—and who believe in single-sex education were to ask me which school they should send their children to, I would tell them to send their children to the school of their choice, whether or not it is grant maintained. I am surprised not that the hon. Gentleman should enter the argument—as so many of his hon. Friends have done—by referring to hon. Members' children, but that his Front-Bench colleagues should do so also.

Mr. Don Foster (Bath)

If the hon. Gentleman seeks evidence that grant-maintained status has failed, he need look no further than the fact that only 0.5 per cent. of eligible schools bothered to seek grant-maintained status in the past 12 months. Does that not illustrate that the parents and governors of eligible schools know that it is a failed policy?

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. In many areas—such as Cornwall—there are no grant-maintained schools and there have been scarcely any ballots. There is no enthusiasm among parents to hold such ballots, even though no pressure is applied. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) will know that the pressure on schools is not to go grant maintained or selective but to improve standards. Parents are seeing their children in larger classes, they see a lack of resources and they see depressed and demoralised teachers. Those are the issues that concern parents, and parents will bear them in mind when they cast their votes in the general election. They will make a genuine assessment of where the parties stand on those issues.

8.45 pm

The Prime Minister said that he wanted to see a grammar school in every town. He has since backed away from that statement, but I assure him that parents do not want to see a grammar school in every town—and they certainly do not want to see a grammar primary school in every town. They know that selection is a means of denying their children the school of their choice. Parents know that they will not be able to choose a school for their children. I urge hon. Members to join us in the Lobby tonight in voting for a new clause that is not just profound common sense but is in touch with the wishes of parents.

Mr. Don Foster

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you advise the House whether it is appropriate for us to consider any amendments to the Bill, given that it appears to be flawed? I draw your attention to clause 6(2)(a), in which direct reference is made to "section 259A". You will be aware that that proposed new section was the subject of the new clause that the Government sought to insert. We are interested to know how it is possible to bring a Bill to the House that refers to a proposed new section whose insertion the House has not approved.

Madam Deputy Speaker

As I understand it, it is open to the Government to make any necessary changes—either at a later stage here or possibly elsewhere.

Mr. Foster

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to you for your guidance. My point is that I fail to understand how the Government can bring to the House a Bill that refers to a proposed new section that the House has not agreed should be inserted in the Bill. New clause 3, which we debated earlier, attempted to insert proposed new section 259A. The legislation before us refers to that proposed new section, but the House has not approved it.

Madam Deputy Speaker

I think that my point must remain the same.

Sir Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

As we are near an election, I suppose that party bashing is the flavour of the month. However, this evening I hope to persuade hon. Members to vote against the new clause and to persuade the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) that he is wholly wrong. I contend that the Labour party is supporting proposals that damage the working class.

Anyone who is familiar with grammar schools and the selection system will be aware that, in boroughs and towns that do not have the grammar school escape route, people are educated—as the hon. Gentleman must know—according to class segregation. If he doubts that, he should look at the figures that were published in the Evening Standard tonight. The schools that are low achievers when it comes to the teaching of reading and writing are not in Labour constituencies, or Tory constituencies—it is a class issue. Hon. Members must know that, if there is no grammar school system, people are educated according to where they live.

Mr. Kilfoyle

I ask the hon. Gentleman a simple question: if we accept his prognosis that the way to demolish class barriers is to take 20 per cent. of our young people, irrespective of their social class, and hive them off through selective education into one type of school, what does that offer the other 80 per cent., who by definition will be denied access to that type of school?

Sir Teddy Taylor

I am not questioning the integrity of Opposition Members. I am pleading with them to understand the option. Let us consider achievement. I wonder whether the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), the Opposition spokesman, knows the best part of Britain for A-level examinations. Is it the south-east of England, where there is much wealth and large houses? Is it the north-east of England? The place that is streets ahead of everywhere else in the United Kingdom is a place called Northern Ireland, where there is massive poverty. That is accompanied by considerable unemployment and a great deal of misery.

Why should Northern Ireland do so well? Whether a child is in a Catholic or non-Catholic school, there is a basic 25 per cent. selection for grammar schools. If Opposition Members doubt that, let them see what happens in Northern Ireland.

In my constituency, there is a great deal of unemployment. That is accompanied by much poverty, sadness and unhappiness. Why is it, however, that A-level and GCSE examination results in Southend-on-Sea are streets ahead of the average for Essex, which is a prosperous county and streets ahead of the average for the nation? The answer is that Southend has a system of 25 per cent. selection, which means that one child in four goes to one of four large grammar schools. Opposition Members may not like that, but it happens to be true.

Mr. Spearing

I do not dispute the hon. Gentleman's figures, but surely he faces a logical dilemma. An equal and perhaps even a greater explanation of what I might call the Southend phenomenon is the quality, dedication and resources that are available to the schools that take the 75 per cent. Is not that just as likely an explanation as the process of selection, which the hon. Gentleman advances?

Sir Teddy Taylor

I should like to think that achievement in Southend reflects the Government's kindness in the allocation of finance, but that is not the case. There is no sign that it is. Perhaps Opposition Members will reflect on my own case. I am now an old man; I have been in this place for 33 years. I came from what was loosely described as a poor home in Glasgow. I managed, through a test, to get into a school called the Glasgow high school for boys. I went there along with other kids. That school was closed by the Labour council. The council scrapped it.

What happened then? The Glasgow high school for boys became a private school. It is now called the Glasgow high school. I shall speak at one of its dinners in a few weeks' time. Unless one can afford a fortune in fees, a child cannot go there.

The children of wealthy Members—the up-market group of society—have no problems. Their parents can send the kids to a fee-paying school. But what about able kids with caring parents who live in working-class areas, perhaps on income support? Perhaps they have no money at all. Opposition Members must think about the situation in cities where there is no selection. There are no grammar schools. We all know that such people will do all that they can to move into "nice" areas.

If Opposition Members doubt that, let them reflect on Glasgow, and the constituency that I used to represent. There was a massive housing scheme called Castlemilk. Allegedly, it was the largest council scheme in Europe. A short distance from that scheme was a small owner-occupied area, part of which was called King's Park, where there were modest but quite expensive small properties. There were many decent and honourable people in Castlemilk. If their kids in secondary schools obtained any sort of qualification—that is, any GCSE or any O-level, as the examination was then—they were doing well. Just down the road, about a mile away in King's Park, if a kid did not get to university, he was not doing well. That is tragic. It is appalling.

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Gentleman is saying that some children have an escape route that enables them to get into a grammar school. It is a curious argument. Does it not mean that children who are poor and go to a secondary modern school face double jeopardy?

Sir Teddy Taylor

That is wrong.

If a quarter of the kids are selected, are the three quarters worse off than they would be otherwise? The answer is no. It is plain that someone must be top of the class. Someone has to be a prefect. Someone has to be an achiever. If 25 per cent. of children are removed, there is not the slightest proof or sign that the remaining children are thereby worse off.

I have tried desperately hard not to become involved in party politics, much of which is sick. Much of the propaganda that is being presented makes me almost ill. Hon. Members are well aware of their friends and supporters and they know of people who are deliberately conspiring to move their kids away from the areas in which they live to other areas where they think that there are nicer or higher-achieving schools. I am sure that that applies to both parties. I am sure that it even applies to Liberal Democrats, nice people though they are.

Ms Hodge

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we all wish to have the highest standards for all our children in all our schools, and that the real and proper way forward is not to provide only some good schools that offer opportunities for a few children? Does he agree instead that we should focus our attention on raising standards in all our schools, so that children can go to their neighbourhood school and receive a high-quality education? Does he further agree that they should not have to move house or face a system whereby three quarters of children are relegated to the dustbin in secondary modern schools?

Sir Teddy Taylor

To refer to secondary modern schools as dustbins is an insult. I should like to take the hon. Lady to what she would describe as dustbins. There is no sense in what she says. Basically, she is talking of high-achieving schools. I could take her to them.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster), who leads this evening for the Liberal Democrats, took the trouble to go all the way to Lancaster to attend school? He is the only Liberal we have turned out. Does my hon. Friend agree that super, high-achieving schools set an example to other schools and give them something to aim at? That is certainly the position in the area that I represent.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I hope that that would be the case. What is being said is what we should all love to see. The hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) knows, however, that it cannot and does not happen. When we are in opposition, we sometimes feel that problems will fade away and disappear with the election of a new Government. That is codswallop. I am sure that there are many honourable and sincere members of the Labour party who realise that the problems that we are discussing cannot be resolved by the election of a new Government.

Let us take a town where there are 50,000 people and one school. The social mix would be achieved there, which is good. In a large borough or town, however, it is not possible to get a good social mix in schools, and it does not happen. We all know that and it is something that we must face.

Mr. Kilfoyle

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with the Prime Minister that, for the top 20 per cent., an education is on offer in this country that matches anything in the world? Does he further agree that the challenge, in terms of economic prosperity and social cohesion, is to deal properly with the other 80 per cent.? If that is so, how will grammar schools assist those children to make their mark in life?

Sir Teddy Taylor

The hon. Gentleman should consider the position in Southend and in Northern Ireland. All kids achieve better when there is a grammar school input. I also appeal to him to go to areas such as Tower Hamlets—I do not say this contemptuously—which has been run on the agreeable principles of socialism for years, and where achievement is a national scandal. Of course it would be wonderful to have high achievement in such places, but the fact is that we do not and we cannot. It is tragic and a disaster. If the hon. Gentleman doubts that, he should look at the figures that have just been published on the standards of reading and writing for seven-year-olds. What is happening in those boroughs is tragic.

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Mr. Hawksley

Does my hon. Friend agree that the language of dustbins to describe education for 80 per cent. of children is a disgrace? It is the assumption that those schools will be failures that is the problem. There is no reason why they cannot be good schools. We used to have such schools in Shropshire.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I wish that Labour Members would be really interested in this subject. They should come to Southend and see the great achievements of our comprehensive schools—which are in the area where I live—such as Shoeburyness county high school and Cecil Jones high school.

Mrs. Gillan

I thank my hon. Friend for giving way in a powerful and moving speech. Has he had a chance to look at the 1996 performance tables? They show that 15-year-olds in LEA areas with selective schools achieve a higher proportion of five or more GCSEs at grades A to C. Those areas achieve 44.8 per cent., and LEAs without selective schools achieve 40.4 per cent. Does that add to his argument?

Sir Teddy Taylor

It does add to the argument. When I started out in politics—I mean this in all sincerity—I genuinely found that Labour people tended to be nicer, more meaningful people who were committed to a principle. By comparison, people from other parties did not have that commitment. That applied to education and housing. The tragedy is that those good people in Glasgow introduced policies which, although well intentioned, were damaging to the working class.

Ms Estelle Morris

How does the hon. Gentleman explain the fact that, since the introduction of comprehensive schools, the number of children achieving five or more passes at GCSE with good grades has gone up from 15 per cent. to more than 40 per cent.? Does he think that that is because of a lowering in the standards of examinations? Does he not realise that that is a sign of real improvement in the standards of so many children who have been educated in the comprehensive system?

Sir Teddy Taylor

I accept that there has been a gradual rise in overall standards, but I hope that the hon. Lady will examine areas' relative performance, and think about the position of parents and children in some of the worst parts of our cities. This is not a problem for small towns: it is a problem for our cities, and it will not go away. We are denying people opportunities.

In Southend, we have four grammar schools. Some kids, such as those who live in Shoeburyness, have a long bus journey to school. The Lib-Lab group in the county council—some of whom are my best friends—had a plan to stop free transport for grammar school children. People in Shoeburyness on lower incomes and on income support can no longer send their children to those schools, whereas people who live in big houses find it easier to do so. That is wrong, and terribly unfair.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and it seems to me that he is generalising from specific situations. I was brought up in a coal-mining valley and was the youngest of 12 children. I went to a grammar school, but my older siblings were not able to do so because my parents could not afford it. The standards in the grammar school were such that many people went on to Oxford and Cambridge, became highly qualified and moved up in the professions.

Many years later, in the same community, with the same people and with the same dedication to education, the comprehensive schools send the same number of children, or even more, to Oxford and Cambridge. I venture to suggest that it is not the type of school or its structure that counts, but parental background, the willingness of people to get involved and the dedication of teachers. If financial support and help is provided, kids will achieve, whatever the system.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I am encouraged by what the hon. Gentleman said about the schools in his constituency. It is lucky to have him as its Member of Parliament, and I hope that the children will continue to prosper in that way. He described a success story, but I hope that he will consider the deprived areas of Manchester, Birmingham and London, where standards of attainment are appalling, and where children do not have an opportunity to escape.

If people are in an up-market group, their children can escape, because they can pay for transport to take their children outside the area and thus take advantage of the choices that the Government have provided. But think of the people who simply cannot escape.

My kids went to council schools in Southend-on-Sea. They were lucky: they went on to grammar schools. They had the advantage of a social mix. It should be remembered that the secondary schools chosen by those living in up-market areas do not have such a social mix. One of the greatest tragedies that I encountered in Glasgow was the existence of what could almost be called ghettos in areas with council housing. That is an appalling situation. People cannot escape from such ghettos, either because of council housing—which, sadly, prevents them from escaping—or because of the lack of educational ability of some kind, in regard to which society is desperately unfair. People may wonder why things are going wrong in so many areas; it is because, unfortunately, a large and increasing number of people are imprisoned in such ghettos, and we must fight that.

I have spoken for far too long, and I apologise, but Labour Members should think of the children in those ghetto areas. Are we offering them any hope? Labour Members may say, "We will spend a little more, and will organise some special inquiry." The plain fact is, however, that they know that—because of housing policy and the ghettos to which I have referred—they will achieve nothing unless they can give such people some kind of hope. I suggest that giving some of those children the opportunity to go to grammar school gives them hope.

Mr. Don Foster

I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I know that he is anxious to finish his speech, to which I have listened with considerable interest.

The hon. Gentleman clearly cares passionately about this issue, but I am confused about one point. He has referred to "inner-city ghetto areas" from which the majority of children are not able to move to the leafy suburbs and the so-called better schools. How can the removal of the 25 per cent. most able pupils from a school in a ghetto area benefit the remaining 75 per cent.? I simply do not see how the 75 per cent. can benefit.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I am sorry that I have spoken for so long. Perhaps I should not have given way, but I believe that we should think about this important issue.

Such action can help enormously. There is no hope for anyone if everyone is imprisoned in a school that is in a ghetto. If 25 per cent., 10 per cent. or even 5 per cent. of kids can escape, entirely new circumstances are created: at least some will be able to escape to grammar schools. A stable society is one where there is opportunity; without opportunity, the situation is appalling.

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) seems to think that he is an expert. I am sure that he is, because he wears glasses and looks very wise. If he knows a family living in Tower Hamlets, what will he say to that family? Will he say, "We are going to give you 10 per cent. more money, and we shall try to give you an extra teacher"? He must know that, unless he can provide some of those people with the opportunity of escape, they will continue to have a ghetto mentality.

I care about these things, because I came from a poor home and went to a school in which many people were in the position that I have described. As I said, when I started out in politics, Labour Members seem to care about things and believe in them, but, tragically, some of the things in which they believe are extremely stupid and damaging for the working class. The working class suffers, and no one gains.

I am sorry that I have spoken for so long, but I hope that I have persuaded one or two hon. Members to think again, and to realise that what they propose is wrong—that it is bad for the working class, and bad for overall achievement.

Ms Hodge

I hope that the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) will sit through my speech. We listened to his, which was delivered with passion and, I think, sincerity, and I trust that he will listen to Opposition arguments against selection.

I believe that there is a purpose behind tonight's debate which unites the political parties. We all want to raise educational standards for the children of today, who will become the community and the work force of tomorrow; and we all want to provide opportunity. Where we divide is on the steps that we think are most appropriate to achieve that objective. That is where I part from the hon. Member for Southend, East, but I hope that he will listen to my argument.

The Government believe that the route to raising standards is through selection. That is where we fundamentally disagree. We are not driven by good intentions alone. We are driven by pragmatic good sense; the Government's approach is driven by dogma and ideology. Because it is so driven, it will fail, even to provide opportunity for more children.

The Bill misses another opportunity to raise educational standards. I feel sorry for the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. Her professional background is that of a teacher. She spent a large part of her professional working life promoting comprehensive education and closing grammar schools. When she was a member of Norfolk county council, nine grammar schools were closed—the rest of the grammar schools in Norfolk—and she played an active role in the campaign to close the King Edward VII grammar school there. When she became Secretary of State, she spoke to local teachers at a meeting of the National Union of Teachers. When teachers asked her about selection, she said that nothing would change while she was in charge.

I do not believe that the Secretary of State ever wanted or meant to change the Government's stance on selection. It was forced on her by the Prime Minister. I feel sorry for her, because when she reflects on her period of office as Secretary of State, in a few weeks from now we hope, she will think that she was responsible for introducing nursery vouchers, which have been a complete flop, for bringing back selection—grammar schools—and for introducing selection at the age of five. There is not a lot of which she can be proud in her old age.

The education issue for Britain is not, as the hon. Member for Southend, East suggested, our failure to achieve high standards for the best pupils; the issue was set out not only by Labour Members, but by members of a Conservative education authority from which the Government Front Bench team sought to distance itself. We had more sense from the authority in its submissions to the Government on both the White Paper and the Bill than we have had from all Ministers during debates in Committee. The authority said: England's long-standing problem is the long tale of under-achievement with the less able. We need to pose the question: will selection at 11, or indeed at five, help us to raise standards, not for those who succeed anyway, but for all children, including those working-class children about whom the hon. Member for Southend, East feels so passionately?

Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)

May I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact—this must be something of a paradox in the light of what the Government seem to want to do—that it was their own Prime Minister who, a year or two ago, said that we did very well by more able pupils, but that we were failing 80 per cent. of those who attended schools? That is what we must tackle, not the question of the able.

Ms Hodge

I completely agree. I say to the hon. Member for Southend, East that my children are in inner-city comprehensive schools and are achieving well. They would whatever the structure and irrespective of whether there was selection. When we talk about introducing selection, I remain primarily concerned not for them, because their background and my support as a parent more readily ensures their future, but for precisely those children for whom the hon. Member for Southend, East has expressed concern. Will selection help to deal with that long tale of under-achievement that is often associated with class? No; nor will it increase parental choice, improve schools or raise standards. We know that from information in the league tables that are produced by the Government from GCSE results. I hope that Conservative Members will listen carefully to this. We must learn from those league tables about the impact of selection at 11 so that we may understand what could happen if we introduced selection, as proposed, at the age of five.

Let us consider the impact of grammar schools on children in one locality to assess how their revival would affect the nation's children. Unfortunately, grammar schools still exist in some areas, enabling us to make a proper informed analysis based on the facts. I gave an example in Committee and shall do so again. The counties of Kent and Hampshire are large and have many secondary schools. Kent has 149 secondary schools and Hampshire has 122. The socio-economic profiles of the two counties are similar.

9.15 pm

The hon. Member for Southend, East shakes his head, but I direct him to the statistics in the Library which show that I am correct. Both counties offer children about the same access to pre-school education, which is often taken as an important ingredient when considering later performance. Hampshire organises its secondary education through comprehensives while Kent has a mixture of grammar schools and schools which inevitably become secondary modern as the brightest children are creamed off along what the hon. Member for Southend, East described as an escape route to grammar schools.

As the Minister has said, both counties performed fairly well in the league tables—as they should, given their socio-economic intake—but the difference in outcome between the two counties is stark. Hampshire, with its comprehensive schools, only eight schools had 25 per cent. or fewer pupils gaining five GCSEs at grades A to C, taking that as the level below which we would not want to drop. In Kent, which has a mixture of grammar and secondary modern schools, 49 schools had 25 per cent. or fewer pupils gaining five GCSEs at grades A to C. The children come from similar backgrounds and the areas are similar, but in Kent a third of the schools perform badly while in Hampshire only 6.5 per cent. of the schools have a poor outcome. That cannot be explained by saying that Kent children are less able, nor can it be said that the teachers are less committed or competent. The only difference between the two counties is that Kent has grammar schools while Hampshire does not.

The story told by the league tables goes on. Six schools in Kent, two of which, interestingly enough, are grant maintained, have worse results than the Ridings school. Seven schools produce worse results than the worst school in Hackney, and 11 have results that are worse than the worst school in Islington. In 25 schools, the results are worse than the worst school in my constituency of Barking. The Government's own league tables show that selective education not only fails to improve standards, but may damage overall standards.

Mrs. Gillan

Is the hon. Lady able to state the percentages of statemented children or those requiring special educational needs in those schools?

Ms Hodge

During the Bill's Committee stage, the Minister of State quite properly said that children's backgrounds should not be relevant to their results at 16. Our goal should be for all children, whatever their background, to achieve certain levels. I agree with the Minister of State that we should not expect children from a particular background, who start with particular skills and qualifications, to achieve better results than others. We want all our children to achieve.

The hon. Member for Southend, East needs to appreciate that the character of one school will affect the character of other schools in an area. Very able pupils do well in both of the counties that I mentioned, but excluded students suffer where grammar schools exist. The impact of creaming off a few children to a few schools has an enormous impact on other schools.

We are not driven by dogma, we are driven by the facts provided by the Government. We ignore those facts at our peril. Selection closes doors. It does not open them, as Conservative Members have said in this debate. Selection entrenches failure, and it does not encourage success. Selection lessens opportunity; it does not enhance it.

Mr. Spearing

Does my hon. Friend realise that many people who have taught in both grammar and comprehensive schools are acutely aware that, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, bad grammar schools concentrated only on the notionally top third of pupils and that the remaining pupils suffered and were effectively sacrificed? In comprehensive schools, however, staff attempt to fit the education that they can provide to all the needs of all the pupils. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that the Prime Minister would agree with that analysis and description.

Ms Hodge

The Prime Minister might indeed agree with that analysis. My hon. Friend raises another important issue, which is that within schools people are assessed as failures or successes. Even within grammar schools—as those of us who attended them know—children at the bottom are written off. Let us think about that practice, because that is what new clause 9 is about. Let us think about what we would be doing to children at five if we started to classify them as failures because they did not pass a test to get them into the school of their choice. Is that a sensible way in which to make progress? Can we really select children at five according to their ability? Are we really going to write off little children at the very start of their statutory school career because they have failed to pass an initial test?

Mr. Gunnell

Does my hon. Friend agree that we will be writing off children under the age of five years if we do not exclude baseline assessment—which is the purpose of the new clause? Unless we exclude baseline assessments, we will be writing off children when they are in nursery school, and a selection process will be introduced almost as children first encounter the educational system. The test is meant to be diagnostic and to indicate children's potential, perhaps their aptitude and something about them; it should certainly not be used to penalise them in later life. The new clause has been designed to remove that penalty.

Ms Hodge

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, because I had planned to deal with just that point. As hon. Members may or may not know, I have taken a particular interest in early years education and in the development of the nursery voucher scheme. I have also been extremely critical of the desirable outcomes that were set as standards—which have become a curriculum, despite the original intention—and which children are expected to achieve by the time they finish their education under the voucher scheme.

Two school settings failed to meet the criteria for the pilot stage of the nursery voucher scheme. One was a Rudolf Steiner school. Rudolf Steiner schools do not teach words or mathematical concepts, and practise the philosophy that it is wrong to teach children numeracy or literacy skills before the age of six. I do not agree with that view, but those schools are perfectly entitled to it. Children who attend Rudolf Steiner schools often perform as well as other children later on.

The children at the Rudolf Steiner school failed to produce the desirable outcome that the Government had set as a mechanism for assessing whether schools should be included in the nursery voucher scheme, so those children were deemed to have failed. That is absurd. In no way could that test judge whether the children had potential, were bright or were able to cope with a sophisticated curriculum and achieve better results than children from elsewhere, and it demonstrates the absurdity of any test at five to start selecting children and placing them in a selective primary grammar school. Let us be clear: that is what the Government mean when they talk about selection.

The Government have been eager to proclaim that all their reforms extend choice. Opposition Members have consistently said that the choice is for the school and not for the child. I remind the House of one fact that reinforces our thesis that the Government's reforms provide limited choice—the increased number of appeals. In 1989–90, there were 21,000 appeals by parents against the places that their children were given. By 1994–95, the figure had more than doubled to 54,400 because fewer parents were getting the choice that they wanted.

Standards in education are a central concern of all politicians and employers; they are an obsession for most of us who are parents of school-age children. We all worry. The notion that our child might gain access to better opportunities in a school that selects may seem superficially attractive, but never has an education debate been based on so much political prejudice and so little objective evidence.

Labour is right to focus on standards. We cannot run away from the challenge, and we cannot admit defeat before we have tried. Britain is wrong to have neglected standards for so long. We all want comprehensive primary and secondary schools that are so good that no parent would deny their child the privilege of attending them. The answer does not lie in bringing back selection, but in a single-minded determination to raise standards in all our schools for all our children.

Mr. Spearing

Most teachers, whatever their political persuasion, would agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) has just said, but I should like briefly to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor).

All hon. Members, whatever their political persuasion or their views on a particular matter, respect the hon. Gentleman for a variety of personal reasons, but his better nature was forgotten, perhaps unconsciously, in the thesis of his speech. The hon. Gentleman, perhaps from personal experience or from observing certain parts of the country—not Tower Hamlets, to which I shall refer in a minute—spoke about escape. He justified the existence of a system of selection as the means of escape, implying that without it there would be no escape—prisoners would be in chains; families would be in chains. His imagery gave away the misapprehension from which he suffers.

Despite his political viewpoint, I think that the hon. Gentleman agrees that we do not want social prisons—we do not want ghettos or areas of deprivation. We want to stop the spread of such areas and, if possible, to eliminate them. What about those who do not escape the prison? He might look to the legislation and philosophy of his party. Unfortunately, most of the legislation of the past 13 years—which he, alas, has supported—has increased the size of the social enclaves, or prisons, that he described and made it much more difficult for anybody to operate in them, thereby making the problem worse. His solution was to enable some people to escape from a predicament in which they should not be in the first place.

9.30 pm

I represent a constituency adjacent to the London borough of Tower Hamlets. I openly invite the hon. Gentleman to come to any of the secondary comprehensive schools in my constituency, just a mile or two from Tower Hamlets. We have multi-cultural education of a high standard—although no doubt the buildings could be better. I invite him to come to any of the four schools in my constituency, because I think that he would then revise the speech that he has just made.

Sir Teddy Taylor

I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman and I am sure that his local schools are very good. Does he not think that it makes a difference to the morale of a whole street if one or two children are attending a grammar school? People have a chance to say, "Look, there is one of the kids along the road who has broken out. My kid could do the same."

Mr. Spearing

The philosophy is not one of breaking out from an enclosed prison, but of making use of the facilities that the teachers and the community, as well as the borough council, if it is allowed, make available. The hon. Gentleman's assumption may have been true 10, 20 or 30 years ago, particularly in east London, but that situation is now much diminished—I believe that it has largely disappeared.

We have a rather strange debate. I should like to refer to the precise wording of the Bill. I see that the Under-Secretary has departed. I inform the Minister of State, who has now arrived—I am pleased to see that the Secretary of State herself has also arrived at this interesting stage of the debate—that at the beginning of this important debate on selection the Under-Secretary declined to give the Government point of view in resisting the new clause. The new clause negates and limits the purposes of the clauses that relate to the issues that we are considering.

The explanatory memorandum of the Bill as published for Second Reading—not the Bill as we now have it—said: Clauses 32 to 35 provide for the introduction of compulsory baseline assessment of children at primary schools. That assessment is to be carried out in accordance with an accredited baseline assessment scheme. Anybody reading that—I think that I must include myself—thought, "Oh. This is a tightening up of what we have already got about assessment of pupils and how they are getting on and centralising it to a much greater degree." The words "selection" and "admission" do not appear in the alleged explanatory and financial memorandum.

I suggest, therefore, that the absence of those words and the inclusion of what the Secretary of State was alleged to have said on Second Reading about selection for entry to primary school by assessment show that the Government were being not just economical with the truth in the explanatory memorandum but downright misleading. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is doing exactly what the former right hon. Member for Finchley used to do. When a good point was being made by an Opposition Member, she engaged herself in conversation and pretended not to listen. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is displaying uncustomary discourtesy on this point. Perhaps she will read our debate in Hansard; I commend that point to her.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)

My hon. Friend might as well talk to a rice pudding.

Mr. Spearing

I am not sure about a rice pudding; the Bill is certainly not very wholesome.

I now refer to clause 31 and I may get some enlightenment from the Secretary of State as I quote it. I would be glad if she intervened on this point. Clause 31 says: baseline assessment scheme' means a scheme designed to enable pupils at a maintained primary school to be assessed for the purpose of assisting the future planning of their education". As my hon. Friend the Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell) said earlier, the scheme appears to be diagnostic. It is a means, albeit compulsory, whereby the needs of the pupil will be assessed for the purpose of assisting the future planning of their education". Any decent school and any decent education system does that all the time. Indeed, it is one of the primary jobs of a teacher to assess the needs of pupils.

We then come to the most extraordinary part of clause 31. As the Secretary of State has, unfortunately, departed, I hope that the Minister of State will stand in for her and answer my question. Clause 31 refers to the future planning of their education and the measurement of their future educational achievements". That phrase is extraordinary. The Bill refers to children's future achievements.

The word "achievements" may include GCSEs or other examinations; the achievements may be non-examinable, but some non-examinable achievements are important. As an ex-teacher, I used to say to people, "What does the O-level say? What does the GCSE say? It says that you are good at passing O-levels or GCSEs, but it does not tell you very much more."

Mrs. Gillan

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity to read the report of the Bill's Committee stage. I draw his attention especially to column 554, where the use of the word "future" was discussed at some length as a result of an amendment moved by the hon. Member for Barking (Ms Hodge). I hope that that will assist the hon. Gentleman in his search for the meaning of the word "future".

Mr. Spearing

Alas, it does not. The Committee debate assists me in understanding the illogicality and educational naivety of the Conservative party. It is clear that my hon. Friend the Member for Barking—she may wish to contribute to this brief and useful exchange—tabled an amendment to try to clarify the extraordinary statement about the measurement of future educational achievements. Perhaps the Minister means that the scheme may assist in predicting future educational achievements, but the Bill does not use the word "predict"; it uses the word "measurement". Measurement can refer only to what exists. I suggest to the Minister that the wording of the clause is nonsense. It cannot be sustained in fact or in educational criteria. What we have here is the basis of provision for entry to primary school by selection, and we had not heard very much on that subject until tonight. Unless one had heard the speeches tonight or the debate in Committee, one would not be able to take that meaning from reading the Bill, because the provisions of the Bill are gobbledegook. They do not make sense educationally or practically and I suggest to the Under-Secretary that she is starting something that is completely wrong.

I shall conclude on one fundamental point of educational philosophy with which I am sure the Under-Secretary, and any teacher who happens to be in the House, will agree. Primary schools have always been comprehensive schools that meet mainstream educational need for the whole local area. If the Under-Secretary does what she has said she will do, each primary school will be turned into a selective school—a competitive racetrack for the meritocratic stakes. That is not the purpose of education and it should not be included in the Bill.

Mr. Gunnell

I shall comment briefly. Government amendment No. 65 is clearly about selection for primary schools. In Committee, I asked the Minister of State whether he could name a reputable educational organisation or school that had told the Department that it wanted selection in primary schools. He could not do so. He said: In a sense, it does not matter how many schools have asked for the provision; we are giving them the opportunity, if they want to take it. Perhaps by giving them that opportunity, we may stimulate more interest—I do not know."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 26 November 1996; c. 102.] He implied that there was not much interest in the issue any way.

The Minister was unable to name anyone, apart from members of the Conservative party, who had decided that selection in primary schools would aid them in the future. He could not name anybody who had requested it—certainly not anyone with an educational reputation. We ask, therefore, why the Government, having set out their stall on parental choice, are so anxious to remove parental choice of primary schools.

The reasons why people choose primary schools are different from the reasons why they want a say and a choice in secondary schools. Fundamentally, parents choose a primary school because of its location in relation to their homes. The reasons are geographical; proximity to their homes is important. I handled an appeal for parents whose choice of school was dictated by their responsibilities as parents of their other children and as working parents. Selection of primary schools is usually made on that basis.

It was not until the debate in Committee that we realised that the Government intended to use baseline assessment for selection. It is clear that they are trying to use baseline assessment for purposes for which it was not designed. They are trying to use it as a basis for diagnosing achievement or aptitude.

The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor), who sincerely expressed his anxiety that children from what he called a working-class ghetto should get on and get out, felt that such a selection system would help them. It would have absolutely the opposite effect because it would reduce the age at which a child was selected and make it almost certain that those who, to use his word, were ghettoised would not pass—since selection means pass in this instance—or be selected. If the background of such children is restricted, as he suggests, it is very unlikely that they will be selected.

I am greatly concerned about how selection will work. The most likely outcome is that parental influence will have a rapid effect on selection. Primary school children will be selected on the basis of the pressure that their parents are able to bring to bear.

I recognise that there is no time for further debate of the issue, but I hope that the Minister will cite some reputable organisation or school, not simply the Conservative party, from which pressure has come for selection at primary level. My hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Ms Hodge) clearly and most elegantly described why selection is to the disadvantage of our children. Such selection is fundamentally wrong. If the Government are seriously proposing it as a way forward, it will be disastrous for our children.

9.45 pm
Mrs. Gillan

We have had an extremely long debate on this group of amendments, which I think has generated more heat than light. I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Hawksley), for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) and for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman), all of whom made timely and pertinent interventions. I particularly thank my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor) who, as I think Members on both sides of the House would agree, made an extremely passionate speech based on his own experience.

The group of amendments includes a Government amendment. In Committee, I undertook to table an amendment to ensure that it is the head teacher who selects the baseline assessment scheme to be used by the school. Amendment No. 65 does that. I must emphasise that there is agreement with our prime aim to ensure that every school has access to and uses a baseline assessment scheme that meets the criteria of the proposed national framework.

Amendment No. 65 acknowledges that the decision on which baseline assessment scheme to select is a matter of professional expertise and views on the content and style of schemes likely to be available and appropriate for the school. Such expertise lies with the head teacher, who is thus best placed to judge which scheme will be most suitable.

The Government however recognise how helpful consultation can be when formulating a decision—hence the requirement for the head teacher to consult the governing body when considering which scheme to select. The governing body's role is formally to adopt the scheme selected by the head teacher. That is consistent with the existing division of responsibilities between the governing body and the head teacher on school-level policy decisions.

Amendment No. 65 also provides for the rare occasion when a head teacher is unable to select a scheme, perhaps because of illness. It adds a contingent provision for the governing body to carry out the duty if the head teacher is unable to select a scheme within a reasonable time.

The amendment puts back—with the agreement, I know, of Opposition Members—the requirement for schools maintained by a local education authority to consider the scheme selected by their authority before deciding which scheme to select for their own purposes. This recognises that LEAs have a role to play here, and that primary schools do look to their LEAs for advice. It reflects what I am sure will happen in practice, but it does no harm to provide for it on the statute book.

Turning to other matters, I strongly resist new clause 9 and amendments Nos. 50 and 51. We have designed baseline assessment to inform teachers about what children can do on entry to school. That information will enable teachers to match work to children's needs and abilities and, over time, will enable value added to be measured.

There has never been any intention that the information derived from baseline assessment could be used for selection purposes. The Bill provides explicitly that the assessment will take place after children have been enrolled at school. If a pupil then transfers to another school, his baseline assessment details will be transferred to the new school. However, that will not happen until after it is known to which school the pupil has transferred. Therefore, it will be impossible for schools to select—or deselect—pupils on the basis of baseline assessment.

There are a variety of uses to which information taken from the assessments might be put—I have already mentioned the example of measuring value added. Schools might want to use the information to target resources and, of course, it will indicate where further assessment of special educational needs might be required—an issue that was discussed in Committee. The professional use by teachers of baseline assessment information is not something that we should presume to prescribe or inhibit.

Mr. Jamieson

The hon. Lady said that baseline assessment was not to be used by primary schools for selection, so why does she not accept the amendment?

Mrs. Gillan

I do not consider that it is necessary to put that on the face of the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman continues to listen to what I have to say, he will deduce my reasons for that.

The idea that statutory baseline assessment could be used for selection purposes is a red herring. The important need now is not to create confusion among teachers or parents. I can only hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Ms Morris) now sees fit to withdraw new clause 9 and that she does not press the associated amendments Nos. 50 and 51.

Much has been made in the debate of the issue of primary selection. At present, the regime governing selective admissions is exactly the same for primary schools as it is for secondary schools. Admission authorities would have to publish statutory proposals if the proportion of pupils they wanted to admit by selection would amount to a significant change in character of the school. In the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, selecting up to 15 per cent. of a school's intake, whether the school is primary or secondary, does not constitute a significant change of character.

The Bill sets out a new statutory baseline of 20 per cent. for selective admissions. We believe that that should apply to primary as well as to secondary schools, but we do not believe that many primary schools will wish to select pupils by general ability. However, a few might want to select by aptitude for a particular subject, such as music. In any case, we believe that primary schools should have the option of selecting a proportion of their pupils without central approval, as they have now, and that the lowest of the new thresholds should therefore apply to them. That is what the Bill gives them.

It will continue to be for admission authorities to determine the method that they use to assess ability or aptitude. We do not intend to tie admission authorities' hands in that respect. Therefore, if an admission authority decided to use the statutory baseline assessment materials being produced by SCAA or assessments from accredited baseline assessment schemes for an earlier pre-entry assessment, there is nothing to prevent the authority from doing so.

I repeat: there has never been any intention that the information derived from statutory baseline assessment could be used for selection purposes. Statutory baseline assessment will take place after children have been enrolled at school.

Tonight, in debating these amendments again, we have heard the Opposition parties stand fair and square against selection; against choices for parents. Where will they stop? Will they abolish selection by religious commitment? What about selection by home-school agreement or selection by mortgage? Parents are prepared to pay a lot of money to live in the catchment areas of good schools. Would the Opposition prevent people from choosing where to live?

I reject all the arguments that have been made by the Opposition tonight. I commend Government amendment No. 65 and reject new clause 9.

Ms Estelle Morris

What a mess. One of the prime parts of the Bill before us is to extend primary selection, and the Under-Secretary of State has just said that she does not believe that anyone would use it anyway. I should have thought that, in the dying days of a Government, the Minister could have used legislative time to tackle some of the problems that confront primary school children and primary schools instead of passing a measure that, by her own admission, she does not believe that schools welcome, need or will want to use.

What a mess on baseline assessment. The only reason that the Opposition were forced to table amendments and new clauses today was that the Minister of State, the hon. Member for—

Mr. Forth


Ms Morris

The hon. Member for—at the moment—Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) was engaged in an exchange in Committee in which he made it quite clear that the concept and practice of baseline assessment is now widely agreed as being achievable, practical and desirable. To the extent that this is so … a school should be able to make an assessment of a child, even at the age of five."—[Official Report, Standing Committee D. 26 November 1996; c. 95–96.] That was in the context of my asking him whether he would say that under no circumstances would baseline investment be used as a means of allowing selective entry at primary school level. As a result of his inadequacy in explaining the Government position, his confusion and his inability to answer the question, "How will schools select?" we tabled new clause 9.

Let us get this straight: the Under-Secretary of State agrees with what new clause 9 says, but she refuses to vote for it. What sort of Government are prepared to leave legislation on the statute book that confuses parents and misleads teachers because of the remarks of the Minister of State, and ignore the opportunity to put the record straight? As a result of the confusion among Ministers, there is only one may of making it clear that baseline assessment must not and will not be used for selective admission of children to primary school, and that is to put new clause 9 and amendments Nos. 50 and 51 on the face of the Bill.

Mrs. Gillan


Ms Morris

I am sorry; it is too late. The Under-Secretary of State had her chance and failed to make Government policy clear.

The new clause is important, not only because of what it does to clarify primary selection, but because it will save baseline assessment from the confusion that the Government have thrown it into. It is a good scheme—a good measure. It has the support of the Opposition parties, and it should never have been mixed up with techniques of primary selection. The Under-Secretary loses the chance to make the record clear.

I want to add some comments to those already made about the contribution by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor). He spoke with passion and he is genuinely concerned about too many children in this country who do not achieve and who lose opportunity. However, the world has moved on from the days when we had the 11-plus. In those days, we had an economy that could run if we only developed the skills of the few. We now have an economy that needs all adults to raise their standards and reach their potential.

The problem with selection is that it labels children failures. Has anyone ever heard a child say, "I passed for secondary modern"? What happens with the 11-plus is that one passes for grammar school or fails the 11-plus. The 11-plus institutionalises those low expectations. I agree with the hon. Member for Southend, East that mere is a real challenge to raise standards in some schools throughout the country; but returning to the days when we labelled children failures is not the way to meet that challenge. The way is to face up to the challenge of ensuring that every school raises every pupil's ability, so that we no longer have to rely on an escape route for the few.

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

The House divided: Ayes 257, Noes 303.

Division No. 53] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Adams, Mrs Irene Ashdown, Paddy
Ainger, Nick Ashton, Joseph
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Austin-Walker, John
Allen, Graham Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Alton, David Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin Garrett, John
Battle, John George, Bruce
Bayley, Hugh Gerrard, Neil
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Gilbert, Dr John
Beith, A J Godman, Dr Norman A
Benn, Tony Godsiff, Roger
Bennett, Andrew F Golding, Mrs Llin
Benton, Joe Gordon, Ms Mildred
Bermingham, Gerald Graham, Thomas
Berry, Roger Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Betts, Clive Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Blunkett, David Grocott, Bruce
Boateng, Paul Gunnell, John
Bradley, Keith Hain, Peter
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hall, Mike
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Hanson, David
Bruce, Malcolm (Gorton) Hardy, Peter
Burden, Richard Harman, Ms Harriet
Byers, Stephen Harvey, Nick
Cabom, Richard Heppell, John
Callaghan, Jim Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hinchliffe, David
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hodge, Ms Margaret
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hoey, Kate
Campbell-Savours, D N Hogg, Norman (Cumbemauld)
Canavan, Dennis Home Robertson, John
Cann, Jamie Hood, Jimmy
Chidgey, David Hoon, Geoffrey
Chisholm, Malcolm Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Church, Ms Judith Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Clapham, Michael Howells, Dr Kim
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Hoyle, Doug
Clelland, David Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hughes, Robert (Ab'dn N)
Coffey, Ms Ann Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Connarty, Michael Hutton, John
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Illsley, Eric
Corbyn, Jeremy Ingram, Adam
Corston, Ms Jean Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd)
Cousins, Jim Jackson, Mrs Helen (Hillsborough)
Cox, Tom Jamieson, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Janner, Greville
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try SE) Jenkins, Brian D (SE Staffs)
Cunningham, Dr John Jones, Barry (Alyn & D'side)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Darling, Alistair Jones, Dr L (B'ham Selly Oak)
Davidson, Ian Jones, Martyn (Clwyd SW)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C) Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Davies, Chris (Littleborough) Jowell, Ms Tessa
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Kaufman, Gerald
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Keen, Alan
Denham, John Kennedy, Charles (Ross C & S)
Dewar, Donald Kennedy, Mrs Jane (Broadgreen)
Dixon, Don Khabra, Piara S
Dobson, Frank Kilfoyle, Peter
Donohoe, Brian H Lewis, Terry
Dowd, Jim Liddell, Mrs Helen
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Litherland, Robert
Eastham, Ken Lloyd, Tony (Stretf'd)
Ennis, Jeff Loyden, Eddie
Etherington, Bill McAllion, John
Evans, John (St Helens N) McAvoy, Thomas
Fatchett, Derek McCartney, Ian (Makerf'ld)
Faulds, Andrew Macdonald, Calum
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McFall, John
Fisher, Mark McKelvey, William
Flynn, Paul Mackinlay, Andrew
Foster, Derek McLeish, Henry
Foster, Don (Bath) McMaster, Gordon
Foulkes, George McNamara, Kevin
Fraser, John MacShane, Denis
Fyfe, Mrs Maria McWilliam, John
Galbraith, Sam Madden, Max
Galloway, George Maddock, Mrs Diana
Gapes, Mike Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Rowlands, Ted
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sedgemore, Brian
Martin, Michael J (Springburn) Sheerman, Barry
Martlew, Eric Sheldon, Robert
Maxton, John Simpson, Alan
Meacher, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Michael, Alun Smith, Chris (Islington S)
Milburn, Alan Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Miller, Andrew Snape, Peter
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby) Soley, Clive
Moonie, Dr Lewis Spearing, Nigel
Morgan, Rhodri Spellar, John
Morley, Elliot Squire, Ms R (Dunfermline W)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Steinberg, Gerry
Morris, John (Aberavon) Stevenson, George
Mudie, George Stott, Roger
Mullin, Chris Strang, Dr Gavin
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Murphy, Paul Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Nicholson, Miss Emma (W Devon) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Oakes, Gordon Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Thumham, Peter
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Timms, Stephen
Olner, Bill Tipping, Paddy
O'Neill, Martin Touhig, Don
Orme, Stanley Trickett, Jon
Pearson, Ian Turner, Dennis
Pendry, Tom Tyler, Paul
Pickthall, Colin Vaz, Keith
Pike, Peter L Walker, Sir Harold
Pope, Greg Walley, Ms Joan
Powell, Sir Raymond (Ogmore) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Prentice, Mrs B (Lewisham E) Wareing, Robert N
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Watson, Mike
Prescott, John Wicks, Malcolm
Primarolo, Ms Dawn Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Purchase, Ken Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Quin, Ms Joyce Wilson, Brian
Radice, Giles Winnick, David
Raynsford, Nick Wise, Mrs Audrey
Reid, Dr John Worthington, Tony
Rendel, David Wray, Jimmy
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Wright, Dr Tony
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan Tellers for the Ayes:
Rooker, Jeff Ms Angela Eagle and
Rooney, Terry Mr. John Cummings.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Boswell, Tim
Aitken, Jonathan Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Alexander, Richard Bowden, Sir Andrew
Alison, Michael (Selby) Bowis, John
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Boyson, Sir Rhodes
Amess, David Brandreth, Gyles
Arbuthnot, James Brazier, Julian
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Bright, Sir Graham
Ashby, David Brooke, Peter
Atkins, Robert Brown, Michael (Brigg Cl'thorpes)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Browning, Mrs Angela
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Baker, Kenneth (Mole V) Budgen, Nicholas
Baldry, Tony Burns, Simon
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Burt, Alistair
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Butcher, John
Bates, Michael Butler, Peter
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, John (Luton N)
Bellingham, Henry Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Linc'n)
Bendall, Vivian Carrington, Matthew
Beresford, Sir Paul Carttiss, Michael
Biffen, John Cash, William
Body, Sir Richard Channon, Paul
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Chapman, Sir Sydney
Booth, Hartley Churchill, Mr
Clappison, James Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochf'd) Heald, Oliver
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Heath, Sir Edward
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Heathcoat-Amory, David
Coe, Sebastian Hendry, Charles
Colvin, Michael Heseltine, Michael
Congdon, David Hicks, Sir Robert
Conway, Derek Higgins, Sir Terence
Cope, Sir John Hill, Sir James (Southampton Test)
Cormack, Sir Patrick Hogg, Douglas (Grantham)
Couchman, James Horam, John
Cran, James Hordern, Sir Peter
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howell, David (Guildf'd)
Curry, David Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Davies, Quentin (Stamf'd) Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Day, Stephen Hunt, Sir John (Ravensb'ne)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Hunter, Andrew
Devlin, Tim Hurd, Douglas
Dicks, Terry Jack, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jenkin, Bernard (Colchester N)
Dover, Den Jessel, Toby
Duncan, Alan Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Duncan Smith, Iain Jones, Robert B (W Herts)
Dunn, Bob Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dykes, Hugh Key, Robert
Eggar, Tim King, Tom
Elletson, Harold Kirkhope, Timothy
Emery, Sir Peter Knapman, Roger
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'ld) Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon) Knight Greg (Derby N)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble V) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Knox, Sir David
Evennett, David Kynoch, George
Faber, David Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Fabricant, Michael Lang, Ian
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Legg, Barry
Fishburn, Dudley Leigh, Edward
Forman, Nigel Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lester, Sir Jim (Broxtowe)
Forth, Eric Lidington, David
Fowler, Sir Norman Lilley, Peter
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Lloyd, Sir Peter (Fareham)
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley) Lord, Michael
Freeman, Roger Luff, Peter
French, Douglas Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Fry, Sir Peter MacGregor, John
Gale, Roger MacKay, Andrew
Gallie, Phil Maclean, David
Gardiner, Sir George McLoughlin, Patrick
Garel-Jones, Tristan McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Garnier, Edward Madel, Sir David
Gill, Christopher Maitland, Lady Olga
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Major, John
Goodlad, Alastair Malone, Gerald
Goodson—Wickes, Dr Charles Mans, Keith
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Marland, Paul
Gorst, Sir John Marlow, Tony
Grant Sir Anthony (SW Cambs) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Gummer, John Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hague, William Mellor, David
Hamilton, Sir Archibald Merchant, Piers
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Hanley, Jeremy Moate, Sir Roger
Hannam, Sir John Monro, Sir Hector
Hargreaves, Andrew Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Harris, David Moss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, Sir Alan Needham, Richard
Hawkins, Nick Nelson, Anthony
Hawksley, Warren Neubert, Sir Michael
Newton, Tony Stanley, Sir John
Nicholls, Patrick Steen, Anthony
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stephen, Michael
Norris, Steve Stern, Michael
Onslow, Sir Cranley Stewart, Allan
Oppenheim, Phillip Streeter, Gary
Ottaway, Richard Sumberg, David
Page, Richard Sweeney, Walter
Paice, James Sykes, John
Patnick, Sir Irvine Tapsell, Sir Peter
Patten, John Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Pattie, Sir Geoffrey Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Pawsey, James Taylor, Sir Teddy
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Temple—Morris, Peter
Pickles, Eric Thomason, Roy
Porter, David Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Portillo, Michael Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Powell, William (Corby) Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Rathbone, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Redwood, John Townsend, Sir Cyril (Bexl'yh'th)
Renton, Tim Tracey, Richard
Richards, Rod Tredinnick, David
Riddick, Graham Trend, Michael
Robathan, Andrew Trotter, Neville
Roberts, Sir Wyn Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Robertson, Raymond S (Ab'dn S) Viggers, Peter
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Waldegrave, William
Roe, Mrs Marion Walden, George
Rowe, Andrew Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Rumbold, Dame Angela Waller, Gary
Ryder, Richard Ward, John
Sackville, Tom Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Sainsbury, Sir Timothy Waterson, Nigel
Scott, Sir Nicholas Watts, John
Shaw, David (Dover) Wells, Bowen
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wheeler, Sir John
Shephard, Mrs Gillian Whitney, Sir Raymond
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Heref'd) Whittingdale, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Sims, Sir Roger Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Skeet Sir Trevor Wilkinson, John
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Willetts, David
Smith, Tim (Beaconsf'ld) Wilshire, David
Soames, Nicholas Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Speed, Sir Keith Winterton, Nicholas (Macdesf'ld)
Spencer, Sir Derek Wolfson, Mark
Spicer, Sir Jim (W Dorset) Yeo, Tim
Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs) Young, Sir George
Spink, Dr Robert
Spring, Richard Tellers for the Noes:
Sproat, Iain Mr. Timothy Wood and
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Mr. Anthony Coombs.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), to be further considered tomorrow.