HL Deb 21 May 1963 vol 250 cc168-239

3.38 p.m.

House again in Committee.


I formally move this Amendment. We have just discussed it, and I need not say any more.

Amendment moved—

Page 42, line 5, at end insert— ("or (e) in relation to land in any of the areas aforesaid without any such consent as aforesaid if the land is used for the purposes of an industrial or commercial undertaking and is to be acquired incidentally to the removal of that undertaking from Greater London.").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 29, as amended, agreed to.

LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH moved, after Clause 29, to insert the following new clause:

Industrial and commercial lands

".—(1) On 1st April, 1965, there shall vest in the Greater London Council any land which immediately before that date was held by the London County Council or the Middlesex County Council in an area zoned in any development plan for industry and commerce, being land so held and used for the purposes of industry or commerce, or held for re-development for those purposes, in pursuance of any of their functions under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962; but, not later than 31st March, 1970, or such later date before 1st April, 1975, as the Minister may direct, the Greater London Council shall, after consultation with the London borough councils, prepare and submit to The Minister a scheme with respect to that land—

  1. (a) containing proposals as to what part, if any, of that land it is, in the opinion of the Greater London Council, necessary or desirable to transfer to the councils of specified London boroughs for use for or in connection with tie exercise of the functions of those councils, and giving their grounds for that opinion;
  2. (b) in the case of any of that land proposed to be transferred indicating any necessary modifications of any local Act or other instrument with respect to the land in question;
and the Minister, after consultation with the Greater London Council and any London borough council concerned, may by order give effect to the scheme either without modification or with such modifications as the Minister thinks fit.

(2) The Minister shall not make any order under section 81 of this Act in relation to any land to which this section applies except for the purpose of giving effect (either with or without modifications) to a scheme submitted to him under tiffs section."

The noble Lord said: This is an Amendment of some importance and practical utility. It is the case that the London County Council, and I rather think the Middlesex County Council as well, are holding a fair amount of land for development purposes. In the case of the London County Council the land has, not entirely, but largely, been acquired under Housing Act powers. But when an area is acquired under a clearance order, then there is likely to have been on that lard residential, industrial and commercial property. The land that survives inbuilt upon, or on which there are buildings ripe for demolition, vests in the authority that has made the order, and the question then is what to do with it. A lot of this land is valuable to the county councils, at any rate to the London County Council, for the purpose of finding industrial sites for businesses or firms which have been compulsorily closed down as part of a comprehensive clearance order. Then at the proper time it is for the local authority to decide what to do with that land, particularly in the light of the convenience and the well-being of the firms whose commercial offices or factories have been demolished as part of the slum clearance or the redevelopment scheme.

There is something about this problem in Clause 23 of the Bill, but it does not primarily meet this case. The Government may be anxious that this surviving property arising out of these development plans shall almost at once vest in the London borough councils, and of course I agree it is right that the case for vesting some of this land in a London borough council or councils should be considered. It is a complicated problem and has its difficulties, and time must be allowed whereby the owning authority can have a chance to survey such land as is inherited by the Greater London Council in London and Middlesex in 1965, and to continue negotiations with the industrialists or commercial users to see whether an arrangement can be made to the mutual convenience of the local authority and the former private owners concerned.

I am sure the Committee would wish it to be administered in the spirit of being fair to the local authority, but fair also to the industrialists or commercial people who have been disturbed in their businesses and their ownership and who therefore require alternative provision, unless they find it through ordinary business channels. The other point is that if they do not want it, or it is not convenient for it to go that way, it may well be that if the area is zoned for commercial or industrial use the local authority would be able to let on lease or otherwise to suitable firms in order that employment might be preserved and that the balance of industry and residential population might be taken care of.

All this will take time, and therefore we propose that at April 1, 1965, this land should vest in the Greater London Council if, prior to that date, it was vested in the London County Council or the Middlesex County Council. It is proposed that thereafter there shall be a review as to which is the most appropriate authority for dealing with that land after a certain date, namely the Greater London Council or one or more of the London borough councils which will exist in due course—at least, that is the Government's hope—throughout Greater London.

The question is: how long should that period be? We think this will occupy round about ten years—not that the whole ten years will be devoted to this, because after April 1, 1965, all these local authorities will be new. They are not merely authorities which are receiving transferred powers from one local authority to another established local authority; they will all be new, with new areas, new populations, new wards and new electoral divisions. It will take them time to settle down and get into their stride. Therefore, we do not think that 1975, which is ten years after the actual coming into existence of these bodies, but not ten years after they have got into their stride, is an unreasonable date to set out. However, in case we may he wrong, we have provided in the Amendment that, alternatively, it can be such later date before April 1, 1975, as the Minister may direct.

Apart from the Minister's powers of direction at a date which he thinks is appropriate for this purpose, it is proposed that the Greater London Council shall enter into consultation with the London borough councils and that arising out of those consultations they should prepare and submit to the Minister a scheme with respect to the land as set out in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1). Then the Minister, after consultation With the Greater London Council and the London borough councils which are concerned or affected by the proposals, may by order give effect to the scheme, either without modification or with such modifications as the Minister thinks fit Subsection (2) is, I think, more or less consequential upon those provisions. Something has to be done about the future of these lands and properties. We do not think it is adequately covered by the Bill and we think this is the right course to take. In all the circumstances, I hope that the Government will see their way to take a favourable view of the Amendment which I now move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 29, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Morrison of Lambeth.)


The noble Lord has introduced an important Amendment. This is an important subject and I welcome the opportunity to discuss it. As explained at the outset, this refers to land held by the London and Middlesex County Councils, land which is either used for industry and commerce or held for redevelopment for those purposes. This Amendment would put the initiative for disposal with the Greater London Council and they would have up to five, or possibly up to ten, years to act, and they would transfer land to the borough councils only if they thought it was necessary or desirable to do so in the exercise of their functions.


I hope I am not anticipating the noble Lord, but he will realise that the scheme of the Greater London Council for the distribution of these lands has to go to the Minister. The Minister then has to consult both the Council and the London boroughs before making a decision.


I was not misrepresenting what the noble Lord said. I understood, naturally, that it would be after a period of consultation with the Minister. I think this is a very attractive argument. This land must be dealt with, and the whole point is how to secure that the available sites or factories are used in the most effective way. The sites vary, of course, in extent. Some may actually have housing on them at the moment and they are zoned for industrial purposes. Some of these sites are small and some are large, and it is a complicated matter.

The Government maintain that the order-making procedure in Clause 81, which is referred to briefly at the end of the noble Lord's Amendment, can in fact provide exactly what the noble Lord wishes to see. For instance, if it seems right that a property should go to the Greater London Council this can be done by the Minister's order. If, on the other hand, it is felt right to transfer the obligations of the actual ownership to the borough council in whose area the property lies, and at the same time retain some control for the Greater London Council in respect of tenancies, that, too, could be provided by the transferring order. Such a provision could also include machinery for resolving any disputes which might arise, probably by way of a reference to the Minister. The Government feel that this is the better way to deal with the problems.

Apart from the arguments put forward, there is the point that continually crops up in our discussions, and that is the question of assignment between the G.L.C. and the borough councils, in that the latter will be dealing with day-to-day development control which will bring to light industrial or commercial users who need to be resited. The machinery which we have in mind for transferring the property by order will enable the concern of both parties to be taken into account, and my right honourable friend gave the assurance in the other place that he would consult the authorities concerned as soon as practicable, so that when orders were made under Clause 81 all the factors could be taken into account.

The sites will vary in size and there will be clear cases where small sites will be most valuable for London boroughs to hold in order to resite non-conforming industries in small areas. In other cases, Woolwich for exam ale, there are large industrial sites substantial parts of which, quite clearly—I cannot say what sort of proportion—must be reserved for the problem of re-locating industry in Greater London as a whole. That is the sort of problem which the noble Lord has foreseen, and which must be sorted out. Here we come to an important consideration in favour of the Government's suggestion, and that is the time factor. The noble Lord has said that it will take a long time to sort this out. I think that perhaps he is unnecessarily pessimistic about this, and we certainly feel—


Perhaps I am a little at fault there. I mentioned in the first place 1975, but later I said that it could be at an earlier date. It will be seen that the Amendment itself provides that the Greater County Council should submit, after consultation with the boroughs, proposals to the Minister by 1970, unless the Minister gives them permission to make it later, but not later than 1975. So they will be aiming at five years.


We still feel that this matter can be tackled more immediately with quicker results under Clause 81. Certainly it is the intention of my right honourable friend to gather all the information from the boroughs and to sift the facts and then, as soon as possible, to attempt, by agreement between the new London boroughs and the G.L.C., to sort out the likely needs of both and to start allocating the property between them.

In case the noble Lord thinks that that might not work very well or that it might be too arbitrary, these orders of the Minister would be subject to annulment by Resolution of either House of Parliament, so there is a safeguard in that respect. We feel this way will see results quicker than the way which is suggested by noble Lords opposite; there is going to be no delay in this and we are going to get on with it as soon as we possibly can, realising full well the problems both of the London boroughs in respect of the sites they need for their own use, and of Greater London in resiting industry generally; that is to say, industry which is not actually going out of London but needs a new area. There are larger estates which will serve for that purpose. It is my right honourable friend's intention to proceed on those lines as soon as possible.


So far as I understand the noble Lord's speech, he appreciates that there is a problem here. We are talking of sites which have already been acquired by the London County Council and the Middlesex County Council for specific purposes, generally speaking, under the Housing Acts or under the Town and Country Planning Act. There are 100 of these sites within the Greater London area and a considerable number outside, but we are not dealing with those outside the Greater London area, but with the 100 sites involving about 200 acres. On the face of it, it would seem that the most satisfactory way would be for the Greater London Council to make up their minds as to what are the sites that they really need to carry out their purposes and to deal with them. As to the rest, under the Amendment, they can make their decision before the five year period. The Amendment says "not later than … 1970", but it may be earlier. I think that that is the most sensible procedure. The alternative is that the Minister will go into each of these 100 sites piecemeal, and go to Parliament in respect of each one or a group of 100 of them with their statutory orders and expect Parliament to scrutinise them one by one.

Of the two procedures, the one suggested in the Amendment is obviously the most simple and the most satisfactory. Since there is no serious difference between us as to objectives, I think the noble Lord agreed that there would be some of the 100 sites which it would be more convenient and more appropriate for the Greater London Council to retain and deal with. There would be sonic which could conveniently and properly be handed over to the borough councils. There may be disagreement as to individual sites, but that can be settled.

Since we are agreed on what we want to achieve, I believe that the method in the Amendment is certainly the simpler one: that you leave it to the Greater London Council to sort these things out, in the light of knowledge which they have and which the borough councils have not. That is the original intention behind acquiring a site. In the light of all the data they have as to the use they intend to make of it, they have to sort the thing out and within five years, certainly not later than 1975, they are to make up their minds. I suggest that if the noble Lord is not able to give a definite decision on this now, if he feels he cannot accept that this Amendment is worthy of serious consideration, the most sensible thing would be that we should both think about this again. But if the noble Lord is not able to give way and feels very strongly about it, we feel equally strongly that we have got the right method in this Amendment.


I do not know whether I said, or whether I gave the impression, that substantial sites would be actually owned by the G.L.C. I am not quite clear whether that would in fact be so. I know that I did mention, and we have very much in mind, the desirability of the London boroughs owning the properties and having sections of reserve on tenancy agreements for the tenants of the Greater London Council. That will be a system which I think we shall favour. Of course, I believe there will also be instances where the Greater London Council would actually own the property, but these are matters to be gone into and threshed out.

I do not think I could accept the noble Lord's Amendment. I do not mind discussing this subject further with my right honourable friend, but I think we have the right method here, and therefore I do not want to accept the noble Lord's Amendment. But I know we are both striving at the same object and I am prepared to think it over again and to talk it over again, although noble Lords opposite should realise—and it is only fair that I should make this clear—that we wish to stand as much as possible on the principle that ownership of land should be in the London boroughs. I think to that extent we may not be on quite the same lines as the noble Lords opposite. There is that difference of opinion. But, having said that, I do not mind thinking over this matter, if the noble Lord wishes to withdraw his Amendment.


Let me be quite clear. What we are suggesting is that there should be an objective inquiry without bias, without prejudice at all, as to whether it is better, in the light of the responsibilities which are being conferred upon the Greater London Council, that it should retain possession of the sites which it has acquired; or whether in due course it should be transferred to the borough councils. The noble Lord's view is that, whatever the merits of the case, whatever the advantages may be of the retention by the Greater London Council of possession of the site, it must eventually go to the borough councils. If that is the view, then of course there is a fundamental difference between us.


I think that is extending my words a bit beyond their meaning. That is one reason why I should like to consider this matter a little more closely, and I might be able to come back with more detailed information to give to the noble Lord. But I do not think he is right in saying there would never be any cases where the Greater London Council would own industrial sites.


What my noble friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked was that the noble Lord would go into the matter with an open mind, a fair mind, and would possibly come hack with a decision on the part of the Government. That, apparently, he is not willing to do. He is willing to look for further information—presumably further information for the purpose of resisting this Amendment; and although he did not say that in every case the property should go to the London borough, he made it clear that there was a very, very strong bias that it should go to the London borough. That is not a right attitude on the part of the Minister, especially when he may be called in for purposes of arbitration. I have not said that all the land should be held by

Schedule 8 [Modifications as from April 1, 1965, of Housing Act, 1957]:


This Amendment appears to be identical in intention, and almost word for word the same, as an Amendment tabled by the noble Lords opposite, which must be No. 151B. The

the Greater London Council. I think it should be fairly considered between the Greater London Council and the boroughs, in the hope that they would agree. But it is quite clear that there is a difference of approach between us on the matter. The noble Lord is entitled to his opinion and we are entitled to ours. I think that the best course, the inevitable course, therefore, is that the Committee should divide.

4.5 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 148) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 29; Not-Contents, 68.

Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Henderson, L. Silkin, L.
Amwell, L. Latham, L. Stonham, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lawson, L. Summerskill, B.
Burton of Coventry, B. Listowel, E. Walston, L.
Champion, L. Longford, E. Williams, L.
Chorley, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Williamson, L.
Faringdon, L. Rusholme, L. Wise, L.
Francis Williams, L. St. Davids, V. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Greenhill, L. Shackleton, L.
Abinger, L. Exeter, M. Merrivale, L.
Ailwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Mersey, V.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Forster of Harraby, L. Meston, L.
Allerton, L. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Milverton, L.
Atholl, D. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Monk Bretton, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Grantchester, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V
Beauchamp, E. Grenfell, L. Newton, L.
Blackford, L. Hailsham, V. (L. Preside) Ormonde, M.
Boston, L. Hamilton of Dalzell, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L
Carrington, L. Hanworth, V. Rochdale, V.
Cholmondeley, M. Hastings, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Colgrain, L. Henley, L. Salter, L.
Colyton, L. Howe, E. Sanderson of Avot, L.
Conesford, L. Ilford, L. Sandhurst, L.
Cottesloe, L. Ironside, L. Somers, L.
Cranbrook, E. Jellicoe, E. Soulbury, V.
Denham, L. Kilmuir, E. Spens, L.
Derwent, L. Lloyd, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Devonshire, D. Long, V. Swaythling, L.
Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor) Lothian, M. Swinton, E.
Dudley, E. MacAndrew, L. Waldegrave, E.
Ebbisham, L. Malmesbury, E. Wigram, L.
Effingham, E. Margesson, V.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

purpose is to retain, adapted to the new system of authorities, certain provisions in the Housing Act, 1957, which permit departures from local building regulations in the case of schemes approved by the Minister. As it seems to meet the views of noble Lords opposite, perhaps I need not say anything more about it. I hope they will be willing to accept it. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 159, line 30, at end insert— ("4A. In the proviso to section 145(1)—

  1. (a) for the words ' the administrative county of London ' there shall be substituted the words ' Greater London other than the outer London boroughs';
  2. (b) for the words ' the county ' there shall be substituted the words ' that area'; and
  3. (c) for the words ' London County Council ' there shall be substituted the words ' Greater London Council '.
4B. In section 145(3)—
  1. (a) for the words ' the administrative county of London ' there shall be substituted the words ' Greater London other than the outer London boroughs ';
  2. (b) for the words ' London County Council ' there shall be substituted the words ' Greater London Council '; and
  3. (c) for the words ' metropolitan borough' there shall be substituted the words London borough'.").—(Lord Hastings.)


This Amendment does, in fact, meet the points that we had in mind when we set down our Amendment, and we shall therefore be glad, for our part, to accept the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


The effect of paragraph 15 of Schedule 8 is to enable subsidies in respect of houses completed during the first year of the new authority to be calculated by reference to the housing revenue account of the authority for that year instead of the previous year, as is required by Section 4 and Part II of the First Schedule to the Housing Act, 1961. The effect of this Amendment is simply, by the insertion of sub-paragraph (a)(ii), to extend this principle to the calculation of supplemental payments under Part I of the First Schedule to the Housing Act, 1961. Without this Amendment there will be no provision for the making of supplemental payments in respect of houses completed during the first year of the Greater London Council. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 160, line 38, leave out from beginning to (" is ") in line 43 and insert— ("(a) in relation to a dwelling completed in the financial year 1965–66—

  1. (i) that year shall be the relevant financial year; and
  2. (ii) Part I of that Schedule shall have effect as if the words ' preceding that ' 180 wherever those words occur in paragraph 1 or 2 thereof were omitted;
(b) the financial year 1965–66 shall be the earliest financial year which may be determined by the Minister under paragraph 5(2) of that Schedule; (c) where the financial year 1965–66").—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


This is not much more than drafting. A very brief description might help. Sub-paragraph (1)(2) of Part I of the First Schedule to the Housing Act, 1961, enables the calculation of the rates made in the area of the London County Council to be the weighted average of rates made in the metropolitan boroughs and the City of London, while sub-paragraph (1)(5) defines "rate". The effect of this Amendment is to enable similar provisions to be made for the Greater London Council. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 160, line 50, at end insert— ("(2) In the said Schedule—

  1. (a) in paragraph 1(2)—
    1. (i) for the words ' London County Council' there shall be substituted the words ' Greater London Council ';
    2. (ii) for the words ' metropolitan boroughs and the City of London ' there shall be substituted the words rating areas in Greater London ';
  2. (b) in paragraph 1(5), at the end there shall be added the words ' and except that it includes any rate in the nature of a general rate levied in the Inner Temple or the Middle Temple'.")—(Lord Hastings.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 30:

Local education authorities

30.—(1) As from 1st April 1965, any reference in the Education Acts 1944 to 1962 or in any other Act to the local education authority shall be construed—

  1. (a) in relation to any outer London borough, as a reference to the council of that borough;
  2. (b) subject to subsection (6) of this section, in relation to the remainder of Greater London (which remainder shall be known as the Inner London Education Area) as a reference to the Greater London Council acting by means of a special committee thereof constituted as mentioned in subsection (2) of this section;
and the Greater London Council, when acting as aforesaid as the local education authority for the said Area, shall, except for the purposes of any document of title, be known as the Inner London Education Authority, and any reference in this or any other Act to a member or officer of that Authority or, in relation to that Authority, to a member or officer of a local education authority shall be construed as a reference to a member of the special committee aforesaid or, as the case may be, an officer appointed for the purposes of the functions of the Greater London Council as a local education authority.

4.19 p.m.

THE EARL OF LONGFORD moved, in subsection (1), to leave out from "reference" in paragraph (a) to "constituted" in paragraph (b), and insert— In relation to those areas of Greater London which comprise respectively the London Boroughs numbered 1–12, 13–17, 18 and 19, 20–24 and 25–32 in Part I of Schedule 1 to this Act as a reference to the Greater London Council acting by means of special committees thereof (to be known respectively as the Inner London Education Area Committee, The West Essex Education Area Committee, The North-West Kent Area Education Committee, The East Surrey Area Education Committee and The Middlesex Area Educational Committee).

The noble Earl said: I hope the Committee will forgive me if I spend quite a considerable time on this Amendment. We have now reached education, and, while I disagree with, a large number of things in the Report of the Royal Commission, there are some good things said there, and one of the wisest things is said at the beginning of Chapter X, where they refer to education as "the most important of all local authority functions". They say: So many local authority functions deal with the physical conditions of life, this one deals with the stuff of life itself. They say much else to the same effect, all of which is very true. There are not, in fact, a great many Amendments down about education; but I venture to say that those which are down, and particularly several of them which will be strongly pressed, are among the most important which we shall be discussing during the consideration of the Bill. Therefore I hope the Committee will forgive me if I spend quite a time over this one.

This Amendment, putting it very shortly, would establish five educational authorities in the area, instead of 21 as suggested in the Bill. These are, one for the London County Council area, and four outside, instead of one for the L.C.C. area and 20 outside. The Amendment is strongly supported by the County Councils Association and also by the Labour Party. Those are far from identical bodies. If I follow to a considerable extent their arguments (indeed, the very documents supplied by the County Councils Association) it will be partly because of the intrinsic merits of the arguments, partly because of the importance of that Association and partly because I hope in that way to convince noble Lords that this is, rightly, not a Party issue. Everyone is aware that the County Councils Association is a non-party body and does not lean in the direction of the Labour Party.

Before coming to the arguments of the County Councils Association may I briefly refer (particularly for the benefit of noble Lords who have not studied this question) to the existing situation? At the present time (I am dealing with this broadly; if I make any small slips, and I hope I shall not, then I hope they will be pointed out, because this is a very complicated question) the following authorities are concerned with education in the Greater London area: the London County Council, Croydon County Borough, East Ham County Borough, West Ham County Borough and the Counties of Middlesex, Essex, Kent, and Surrey. That makes eight, if we leave out Hertfordshire, as perhaps we may. We must bear in mind that Essex, Kent and Surrey would be dealing with areas much larger than those which will be enclosed within the Greater London area under the Bill. The Royal Commission put the matter mildly when it said that the arrangements under these various authorities are very different one from another. In the three county boroughs of Croydon, East Ham and West Ham the administration is completely centralised; in the administrative county of London the administration is decentralised to nine divisional offices; but in London the metropolitan boroughs do not play any part, even as agents.

In the other four counties, leaving out Hertfordshire, the administration is here delegated as a rule to "excepted districts", or to another kind of entity called "an ad hoc divisional executive". In the case of excepted districts the local authorities, such as the boroughs, do not become education authorities but act in important matters on behalf of the county. This is the case with the ad hoc divisional executives; they are not educational authorities themselves, but they act on behalf of the county. In the case of a divisional executive, a number of boroughs or districts are brought together. For example in South-West Middlesex the division consists of Feltham urban district, Staines urban district, and Sunbury on Thames urban district. I should remind the Committee that in all local education authorities there are boards of governors of secondary schools and managers of primary schools.

These arrangements are peculiar and difficult to grasp, and hard to remember; they derive from history, and I could imagine no choicer subject for a noble Lord who was foolish enough to indulge in a filibuster than the history of local education. But I have no intention of pursuing this course. At the present time there are twenty-five excepted districts in the Greater London area, but of these sixteen are in Middlesex, six in Metropolitan Essex, three in Metropolitan Kent and none in Surrey. There are great variations in areas that might seem, on the face of it, to be similar. Few of us would claim, when we first read these facts, or indeed later, when we came to study them, that the present arrangements are perfect. I am therefore not one of those who would think it monstrous to alter the existing set-up. The right solution is not coercively obvious, as the Royal Commission themselves found.

I have quoted once favourably from the Royal Commission and I must quote again, because their comment sets out what we all feel about education: We have had projected on us a flood of information, argument and recrimination about education, mainly as to administration, organisation and finance, all of which are important. But we have constantly had to remind ourselves that all these things, important as they are, are means to an end, and that the end is to fit children to play their part as responsible citizens in the world, to earn their livings, to develop their personalities and talents to the full, to take their part in the community, giving as well as receiving, and, if possible, to be aware of the age-long process of man's discovery of the truth about himself and the spiritual and physical worlds in which he lives. That is, of course, quite a task for any child to master; but it is finely said, and we can all applaud that approach of the Royal Commission. I have spelled it out to convince noble Lords that those moving this Amendment are not obsessed with some fanatic interest in some particular administrative plan but are concerned, as everyone is, with the children. It is not too much to conclude, if one takes the premise of the Royal Commission that education is the most important of all local government subjects, that any plan for local government reform that is totally unacceptable from the local government point of view would make nonsense. That is how we are compelled to stigmatise the general proposals of the Royal Commission.

Let us leave out that argument, and just remind ourselves about the fate of the Royal Commission's educational proposals. Their educational proposals were liquidated by the Government without a dog barking in defence. And no voice has been raised in their favour. The Government came forward on this complex problem with two successive proposals. One of them was abandoned, under the tremendous protests from the teachers and parents affected, and the other proposal is the one contained in the Bill. Sir Keith Joseph, when he moved the Second Reading, summarised the education proposals as follows.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 669 (No. 30), col. 58]: … the Government are satisfied that the borough councils will be competent to carry the full responsibility of local education authorities except … the present London County Council service is to be taken over by a special education committee of the Greater London Council … So that, rightly or wrongly, under the Bill symmetry is abandoned; there will be one system for the L.C.C. area and another for the rest of the area.

The Minister said that this committee of the Greater London Council will have full powers to run the service as the Inner London Education Authority. It has been made plain since this speech that the education committee will really be an independent single-purpose authority. The Minister added: There is need, however, to explore fully the possibilities of direct participation of borough councils in the service in this central area, and that will be the principal objective of the review which the Minister of Education is required to carry out. I am not going to say any more about it because my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger will deal with this effectively, I will not say in a few moments, because that is taking too optimistic a view of my speech and of other speeches that will be made on this Amendment; but before night falls my noble friend will make plain her attitude to this review.

What we are seeking to do under this Amendment is to ex tend the proposal in the Bill for the L.C.C. area so that it covers the Greater London area as a whole. By that I do not mean—for the benefit of noble Lords who have not had a chance of studying this—that under our proposal a single authority will cover the whole area of the London Education Authority. What I mean is that the same kind of plan will be applied to the whole area and that under the Amendment there would be five authorities—the London Education Authority and four others—compared with the L.E.A. plus the 20 proposed in the Bill. These other four authorities in the Outer London Area would be organised on the same lines as the L.E.A. which the Government themselves propose.

I may be asked whether what I am proposing is, in my view, an ideal solution. I cannot say that. An ideal solution is difficult in any case, but it is least of all likely to be discovered within the framework of the present Bill. Taking the L.C.C. area to start with and the proposals as a whole, looking at the matter as if this Amendment were carried and leaving ever this lamentable review clause, which raises an issue on its own, I think the proposal of a single purpose authority, which is concerned with education alone, is neither ideal nor so good as what we have at the moment. I argued on Second Reading that the multi-purpose authority, one which, for example, combines responsibility for education and housing, is likely to be much more effective in the field of educational planning, and there are many other well-understood arguments for the multi-purpose, as opposed to the single-purpose, authority. The only analogy I can think of is perhaps provided by the smile of the Cheshire cat. Long after the cat had disappeared, the smile remained. After the Government have liquidated the L.C.C., they hope to keep the educational authority still, as it were, floating in the void. So nothing in this proposal is an ideal solution. But I say that, taking the Amendment as a whole, it is much better than the alternative in the Bill.

I will turn in a moment to the general statement of the case as put forward by the County Councils' Association, but before I do that I should like to deal with this matter from one particular aspect which has caused special concern. How will this proposal affect the right of parents to obtain the religious education they desire for their children? I speak primarily from the point of view of the Roman Catholics; I cannot speak for others, though I know that there are many anxieties which are shared by other denominations. I had rather hoped that one of the Bishops would have been able to be with us, but that must have proved impossible.

The Catholic hierarchy are concerned, in the first place, that if the Bill goes through as it stands they will be forced to negotiate with 20 separate educational authorities outside London. In their eyes, that is a source of great difficulty and, it may well be, of confusion. But that numerical point, so to speak, is not the whole story. Another point is that the increase in the number of educational authorities will greatly multiply the number of local government boundaries. The Government propose, I am sure very sincerely, to provide for free movement of pupils within the area. Of course, that objective is entirely laudable, but as The Times has pointed out, there is need for clarification of this idea. I certainly hope that, apart from the effect of this Amendment, the Minister concerned—have we the honour of a reply coming to us from the noble Viscount who leads the House? The noble Viscount has taken so many notes that I thought he must be considering what I am saying.


I am considering what the noble Earl is saying, but I do not propose to reply to it.


I must not say that I am disappointed, but perhaps, in the end, the noble Viscount will supplement the noble Lord, Lord Newton, if that should prove necessary. At any rate, this idea of free trade between the areas, which the Government have accepted on paper, needs a great deal of clarification, and the Government seem to feel that they have met this point already. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Newton, will be able to improve on previous statements, because I am afraid that anxieties have not been relieved. What has been said already amounts to the declaration that a borough must not refuse pupils solely because they come from outside the borough. That is as far as the Government have gone. But it has been pointed out elsewhere—though I cannot quote anybody in another place who is not a Minister—that it is extremely doubtful whether it is possible to secure the existing freedom of movement by any wording in the Bill or by any regulation, however well intentioned. It is extremely doubtful whether the so-called free trade can be provided securely in a Bill such as this. Can we be given an assurance—and I hope that the noble Viscount who leads the House was dealing with this precise point, because I am sure it will help the noble Lord, Lord Newton—that payment of transport for the children will be as helpful in the future as in the past? I hope that the noble Lord will be able to say something about a guarantee of assistance with that service.

There is a still larger point than that. One can say to a borough, as I think the Government propose to say, that they cannot refuse a child because he comes from across the border of the borough; but can one say to a borough, as the Government claim this Bill does, that when they make plans for future school building they must include provision, where necessary, not only for their own children but also for children from adjacent boroughs? At some future moment, we may easily reach the situation where a child from another borough is refused, not on the ground that he comes from another borough, but simply because there are not sufficient places. I put that clearly to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, and perhaps he will deal with it as an essential point in his reply. How does he propose to make sure that in future there will be this provision for children from other boroughs to the same extent as has existed and has been found necessary in the past? If that is not secured, we cannot blame a borough when it refuses a child, but in fact the effective inter-borough movement, which on the whole we have now, would be destroyed. No one wants to make each borough an island, but how can we stop it under the Bill in its present form? I am sure the noble Lord will wish to cope with all these points.

The Roman Catholic leaders are gravely concerned at the proposed multiplication of authorities without adequate protection for the children who would normally move from one area to another. They would be much happier if the number of authorities proposed were much reduced. As I have said, I can speak for only one denomination, but speaking for the Roman Catholic leaders involved, I can say that they would welcome an Amendment on these lines, which has nothing to do with Party politics, emanating as it does, in the first instance, from the County Councils Association.

The Government may reasonably be required, even with the Bill in its existing form, to make some move towards a solution of this difficult problem. They may reasonably be required, and we may reasonably look to the noble Lord to-day, to hold out better prospects than hitherto. But one is bound to assume that they will find it very hard to go much further than they have gone already. To do so may, indeed, be impossible with the Bill as it stands now. No doubt we shall hear from the noble Lord. But failing any major change in the proposals before us, one is bound to conclude that free trade—I do not like the term particularly, and perhaps I should say free movement under the Bill as it stands—will be seriously jeopardised. The argument, therefore, is greatly strengthened for the Amendment, with its five large authorities instead of the one large and the twenty small ones in the Bill.

I should like to deal with one or two points brought forward specifically by the County Councils Association. They are impressed with the distinction, drawn by the Minister in his closing speech on the Second Reading in another place, between a single administration of the strategic and planning services, on the one side, and on the other, the unified administration of all the personal services by authorities which can bring the pressure of local information, local ambitions and local visions to bear upon this development of local services. Without saying that I necessarily endorse the conclusions of the Minister in that, or, for that matter, in any other respect, I see what he is driving at. But the County Councils Association—I am not sure to whom I should address myself—


If the noble Earl addresses himself to the Committee he will not go far wrong.


I am glad the noble Lord, Lord Newton, has returned. I was afraid we had lost the services the noble Lord for good, but I have no doubt that an important change of policy is now on the way. I was saying that there is this distinction drawn by the Minister between the strategic needs of an area and the local needs. The County Councils Association feel, as we do on this side of the Committee, that r either the strategic needs in education are met by the compromise adopted by the Government. The object of this; Amendment is to secure that there can be adequate strategic planning by these five large authorities and, on the other hand, there will be the application of local information, local ambitions and local visions through the work of strong governing and managing bodies. The experience in the area of the London County Council, and increasingly in the outer areas of Greater London, has shown that over a wide range of the educational field local boundaries have little significance. The truth in that the interests of parents, children and teachers alike call for equal opportunities, uniform standards and common administrative arrangements over areas much larger than those of the twenty proposed education authorities.

The County Councils Association would like to see a solution based on three ideas. The first is strategic units large enough to plan and provide the full range of educational services; secondly, the existence of a sufficient number of grants for divisional officers to serve the local administrative needs; and, thirdly, strong managing or governing bodies. That is the point of view of the County Councils Association, without reference (I am sorry to keep repeating this) to any Party politics, although it is a point with which we are in broad agreement. Such a pattern of provision is ready to hand. The area of the London County Council and Middlesex, and those parts of Surrey, Kent and Essex falling within Greater London, already have an organic existence. But surely it would be folly to destroy all the advantages of their organic existence for the sake of the illusory gains which the Government hope to obtain under the Bill.

At the risk of wearying the Committee—I shall not speak for much longer—I should put on record what are felt by the County Councils Association to be the kinds of strategic services—there are fifteen of them, so they will take a little time to enumerate. They include (1) assessment and allocation of children to grammar school courses; (2) arrangements at fee paying schools for the admission and maintenance of children selected for grammar schools; (3) arrangements for boarding school education; (4) the advisory services; (5) teacher training and teacher courses generally; (6) conditions of service for teachers; (7) special educational treatment; (8) further education in technical colleges; (9) awards to students; (10) maintenance allowances; (11) youth employment services; (12) school health services; (13) architects and school building programmes; (14) supplies and equipment; and (15) links between schools and further education. Those are all regarded, I think rightly, by the County Councils Association as being strategic services.

If that is so—and it is not necessarily to be accepted because the County Councils Association regard them as such—then the argument of the Minister about the need for a central planning of strategic services would apply to services of this kind. I will not go through them all, but perhaps one should say a word about further education. Here it is certainly self-evident that local boundaries within the conurbation of Greater London have no significance—I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Newton, will concede that. This would apply also to the youth employment service, and also have special relevance to the part to be played by local educational authorities under the new legislation for industrial training. All the Government spokesmen have emphasised the obvious fact that further education ought not to be separated from primary and secondary education. Indeed, the Minister of Education said elsewhere: I am sure that it would be a very great error to attempt to separate the administration of further education from that of the schools. This point alone is enough to condemn the proposal to establish twenty educational authorities in the outer areas of Greater London. I hope that the noble Lord will deal, in particular, with the problems of further education under the proposals of the Government.

The needs of primary and secondary education point irresistably to the same conclusion. When we come to free trade—well, I have talked a little about that already, and I am not talking from the point of view of denominational schools—the argument for free trade and the difficulties in providing it under the present Bill are not in any way confined to denominational schools and their pupils. Other difficulties are administrative complexities of inter-authority arrangements and financial adjustments; the dissatisfaction of parents or students, thrown to and fro between the authorities; the difficulties which arise from variations in matters such as selection of pupils for secondary education, maintenance allowance and all sorts of other matters. Then there is the difficulty caused by a large number of children attending schools in which the school health service is provided by an authority other than the home authority. Then there is special educational employment.

There are just two other points. There is the question of standards of work. These depend greatly, as of course an ex-Minister of Education such as the noble Viscount the Leader of the House knows so well, on the advisory services, or what some of us would call the inspectorate; and this is a matter on which the Minister acknowledges that there will be many difficulties inherent in the new proposals. As a result, he was compelled to say elsewhere: I certainly intend to encourage the new authorities to club together to provide an even wider spread of specialised services than they would be likely to have individually. So the Government, having disintegrated the Greater London area, are trying to find some second-hand way of getting as close as possible to the present arrangements.

The Government, I think it is fair to say—and the noble Lord will correct me if I am wrong—are not bringing forward their present proposals here on educational grounds. I do not mean by that that they admit damage will be done, but I do not think they would argue that they would go to all this revolutionary length in order to obtain any educational advantages. I think it is fair to say, and the Government claim, that there is a fine balance of advantage, if there is one, in their proposed arrangements. One would have thought that if that is so, the present arrangements would have been maintained or improved in some other way, if only because of the clear preference to teachers. The noble Lord, Lord Newton, I am sure, will agree that the teachers are against the Government's present proposals.

I have spoken for rather longer than one usually speaks on an Amendment, but this is a matter of the greatest importance. It is a matter which I think we all agree goes quite outside Party politics. We are solid on this side in firmly backing this Amendment, and I hope that after the noble Lord, Lord Crook, and any other noble Lord, has spoken, the Minister will be able to move in our direction. I cannot guarantee, of course—who can?—what form the debate will take after that. But there is strong feeling in favour of this Amendment, both inside and outside the Committee. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 42, line 34, leave out from the beginning to ("constituted") in line 39, and insert the said new words.—(The Earl of Longford.)

4.52 p.m.


I rise to support my noble friend, and in doing so regretfully say to your Lordships that I may speak rather longer than one usually keeps the Committee in speaking to an Amendment. It will be because my support is general, but I will use as argumentation material as to boroughs Nos. 20 to 24 and the establishment of the East Surrey Area Education Committee referred to in the Amendment. The reason for that is that throughout the whole of these discussions there has been so much said about the existing London County Council, and not sufficient, perhaps, about the Surrey County Council, to which I made some reference on Second Reading. I reminded your Lordships that I had had the pleasure of working with a large number of members of the Government Party who run the Surrey County Council, and who have fought an election on this very subject. I want, therefore, to try to tell your Lordships something of the problem that Surrey had, and has, and the problem which would arise under this Bill and which we hope would, in part, at any rate, be cured if this Amendment were adopted.

The present County of Surrey has a population of 1,480,000 and there are to be transferred to the new Greater London Council under this Bill 678,000 of them, leaving 802,000 in the future county. The County of Surrey as a whole have indicated to the Government how completely opposed they are to the whole Bill, and the serious problem of co-ordination that would arise in respect of the education services because of the basing of educational services on the new and, so far as education is concerned, arbitrary administrative boundaries. It is felt that there would be an almost insoluble problem to provide specialised services, and for their future, and for the increases which are inevitable. They have said to the Government that they see a great problem with regard to the development plans, and they think it an essential part of the fundamental duty of an L.E.A. to set down its policy to guide education development for the area. They feel—and this is what we are trying to say to your Lordships this afternoon—that the new areas proposed will be too small to provide as wide a variety of schools as is the case in the existing authority. They feel that if the Government had to go ahead with the plans they were proposing, some co-ordination in some way would become essential.

The problem of the new building programmes would, they feel, be so great as to retard the execution of even the present programmes, without having regard to the large-scale programmes of future development that are wanted. They suggested that the creation of the autonomous boroughs in areas lacking natural boundaries would inevitably create border problems and would interrupt completely the unity which was desired. They felt, and we feel now, that the border problems would be multiplied. As I think the noble Earl who moved the Amendment pointed out, children who have received their primary education in a particular school have got into the habit of expecting to attend a secondary school which they know but which will now be over the new border. Either they will have to be turned away from that school, as the noble Earl has said, or be treated as special cases, which will give rise to considerable administrative work.

The noble Earl has already referred to the limitation of parental choice of school, which was one of the things we thought was very much in the mind of the present Minister. If freedom of choice is to be available, as in our view it must be, additional schools offering specialised facilities will have to be provided, or a good deal of transfer across borders will become essential. The entry to selective schools under the Government's proposals will be controlled by each borough, and so far as we can see the boroughs will be free to use different criteria for selection; and it may well be that in each case there will be varied levels of grammar school and other special provisions inherited from the existing local education authorities. They, of course, have made their provisions with reference to a much greater area.

So it is that the new boroughs which the Government are seeking to carve out of Surrey and the rest of the area around London under this Bill will be neither individually nor collectively self-contained. The Surrey County Council have gone on to say where they stand in relation to this Bill. Realising that the Bill had gone as far as it had, the Education Committee of the Surrey County Council, in a resolution to the Council in February of this year (as the Bill was coming to your Lordships' House) minuted that it would be better if the districts in "London" Surrey, excluding the County Borough of Croydon, could be grouped for purposes of overall policy into one unit of educational administration.

The Amendment we are moving goes a little further than that. It tucks in Croydon as well as the others for reasons of administrative simplicity. The Council, when it accepted the recommendation of the Education Committee, went on to record in its report that it hoped that, even if this fragmentation plan went through, the boroughs who were given education powers would co-operate to the greatest possible extent with each other and with the new Surrey County Council, so as to ensure that matters requiring consideration over an area larger than one particular borough would be effectively co-ordinated in the interests of the children.

These new boroughs, Nos. 20 to 24 inclusive, are a very mixed bag. I should like to look at the five new boroughs and offer a few observations about them in this connection, and say something of their future problems. The Amendment, as we se it, avoids the fragmentation of some 680,000 people between five completely separate and new local education authorities. There are 83,000 children in this area who are in maintained schools hitherto administered by the Surrey Local Education Authority. Now they are to be split into these five, and four of them are very small boroughs—even less than the 200,000 figure which was being bandied about so much at an earlier date. Borough 21 will have 169,000; Borough 22, 188,000; Borough 23, 165,000; Borough 24, 181,000. They will lack a full range of specialists and advisory staffs, and will be costly to administer. One borough will have too many grammar school places, while a neighbouring borough will have too few. In fact, the choice of school will be severely limited compared with the present position.

Surrey has to-day 33 grammar schools from which parents are able to choose; and, if I may weary your Lordships for two or three moments, I should like to refer to the details of one or two of the new boroughs. My own borough, No. 21, containing Carshalton (where I live) and Beddington and Wallington existing borough, and Sutton and Cheam existing borough, is the smallest but one of the new London boroughs proposed in the Bill. This borough will have a population of 169,000 and will have to cater for 10,000 primary and 8,000 secondary school children. It is not self-contained, and will be incapable of being self-supporting for educational purposes if the standards customary hitherto in Metropolitan Surrey are to be maintained. It will have insufficient grammar school places for girls. In the last three years the average number of girls annually offered grammar school places has been 162, but only 91 places were available at the maintained girls' grammar school inside the area. The same story is true for boys. The number of places available at the two maintained boys' grammar schools in Sutton and Wallington is approximately equivalent to the annual demand for places; but in the past three years about a quarter of the boys living in the proposed new borough accepted places at schools outside the borough.

Turning to a comment made by my noble friend who moved this Amendment, there will be no Roman Catholic secondary schools at all inside the new borough, the three nearest each being in a completely different borough. The borough will also be without special schools for physically handicapped, deaf and delicate children, and will lack sufficient places for educationally subnormal children. I complete the sorry story by telling your Lordships that a large proportion of the primary and secondary schools in the proposed new borough require rebuilding on extended sites. With the present cost of land in Surrey, to say nothing of the growing cost of building, very heavy capital expenditure will fall on the borough in the redevelopment of their schools and will be something quite beyond them.

Borough 22 has the same kind of story. There are five maintained grammar schools in the area. In the last three years the average number of places available was 250. The average number of boys and girls living in the area for whom grammar school education was thought by the local education authority to be suitable was only 183. The places not required were taken up by children in Borough 23, the smallest of the 32 boroughs proposed in this Bill, with a population of 165,000, which inevitably must be heavily dependent upon its neighbours. They have suffered during the past three years, for with an average number of 150 to 180 boys and girls suitable for places in grammar schools, only 90 places each could be found.

That is a part of the picture of the fragmentation of the 680,000 people inside the Surrey area who are to have their educational considerations placed between 5 completed and independent local education authorities. I regard this matter, as moved by us this afternoon and the way in which my noble friend moved it, not as an Amendment which turns upon the political views of those who sit on this or the other side of the Committee, but entirely as a matter where the educational opportunities of the children are concerned. It is the children whom we ought to have in mind, and who I think would benefit if this Amendment were carried to allow the establishment of these additional educational authorities. I therefore support the Amendment of my noble friend.

5.7 p.m.


This Amendment proposes a major alteration to Clause 30, which is perhaps the major clause in this part of the Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, said he considers that this Amendment is one of the most important we shall be discussing during the proceedings of this Bill, and I would not dissent from that at all. This is a matter of great importance, and what I want to try to do is to explain to the Committee why the clause contains what it does—particularly the provision which the noble Earl's Amendment seeks to delete.

Your Lordships know that the Government consider—and this is why this Bill is before the House—that the whole of local government in Greater London needs to be recast and that an authority larger than any existing one is required for the purposes of traffic and planning. But I do not think there can be much doubt—at least, I have not read or heard of much doubt about this—that an authority large enough for these purposes would be too large to administer the personal services, including education, without delegation. If this is so—and I am convinced that it is—the question to be decided is: where, then, should education go? Should it go to the upper tier authority, or to the lower tier authority or be divided between them or the special ad hoc committees as proposed in the noble Earl's Amendment?

The Government believe that it would be wrong to divide education between two tiers of local authority for the reasons which were argued cogently in the Royal Commission's criticisms of two-tier administration as it works at the present time in Middlesex. On the other hand, the Greater London Council, with a population of 8 million, would be too large to be an education authority without delegation. The Royal Commission's recommendation for relieving the Greater London Council of day-to-day administration seems to the Government to be open to the same objections as the present arrangements for Middlesex which the Royal Commission so strongly criticised. This leaves as the only possible alternatives either giving the education service to the London boroughs or setting up special committees for education such as we are proposing for inner London in the Bill. This second alternative suffers from the disadvantage of separating education from the other personal services. Nevertheless, the Government have accepted this disadvantage—what they consider to be a disadvantage—in inner London rather than break up the London education service which has grown up as a single whole.

The noble Earl's Amendment will apply the same solution to the problems of education in outer London, and indeed, a scheme on the lines of the noble Earl's Amendment was considered very carefully by the Government before they produced their own proposals which are now in this Bill. It was, in fact, one of the four possibilities which I have already mentioned to your Lordships. But the arguments which apply to inner London do not apply to outer London. It is one thing to preserve a long-established system notwithstanding that it separates the personal services, which is a disadvantage, and quite another to create similar systems which not only have that disadvantage but also fulfil no other local government function.

Throughout almost the whole of outer London, as the noble Earl himself indicated, there are divisional executives responsible for some part of the education service. All of these have experience of administering education and many have experience which goes back far beyond the Education Act, 1944. These are what are called the Part III authorities, that is to say the authorities who under the Education Act of 1921 were responsible for elementary education. These areas would certainly resent it bitterly if the administration of education were taken entirely out of their hands, and the Government do not see that there is any valid reason why it should be taken entirely out of their hands.

Boroughs of the sizes proposed in the Bill will be quite large enough to administer the service efficiently. The smallest will be larger than Brighton or Reading, most will be about the same size as Plymouth or Portsmouth and a few will be as large as Nottingham, Hull or Coventry. I want to put this argument to your Lordships. To suggest that the outer London boroughs, the populations of most of which will be more than or around 200,000, will not be large enough to provide and administer good education services is to imply that the cities which I have just mentioned do not and cannot do so. I do not think that is a tenable proposition and I have not heard it suggested, but that is the implication of saying that the outer London boroughs will not be large enough to provide an efficient education service. The inevitable implication is that boroughs in the rest of the country are not efficient now and never can be.

The fact that the outer London boroughs will happen to be situated next door to the I.L.E.A. does not have any relevance to the question of whether the outer London boroughs will be viable in their own right. As I say, and as I hope to demonstrate to your Lordships as I go on, we are satisfied they will be viable as education authorities.


The noble Lord is using an argument which I think is understandable, but I wonder how far he means to press it. He is saying the system of education we have in Oxfordshire, where I was a member of the city council and of the education committee, should be applied in Middlesex. At other times the Government keep telling us London is one city and there are all sorts of properties peculiar to this unified area. Is the noble Lord going to tell us that exactly the same arguments are going to apply outside the L.C.C. area in the Greater London area as apply in Oxfordshire?


What I suggested were two things. First of all, I suggested that the area of the Greater London Council, embracing 8 million people, would be too large for an education authority without delegation. The second point is this. If it is suggested—the noble Earl did not suggest it in his speech, but it has been suggested—that the outer London boroughs are going to be too small as education authorities, it inevitably follows from that that the county boroughs which are education authorities in the rest of the country cannot be efficient. I leave it to your Lordships.


I put a question to the noble Lord which he has not answered.


What I want to go on to say is that it does not follow from the argument I have just made that the new local education authorities will be self-contained for such purposes as further education and special schools. No local education authority can be. They have to make regional arrangements for co-ordination. Such arrangements take place mainly in further education and special schools. But it is also quite common for primary and secondary schools to take some children from outside the boundary of the local education authority which contains them, particularly in county boroughs. For instance last year, 1962, about 120,000 children in England and Wales were being educated outside their home area. London were educating 3,767 pupils from Middlesex and Middlesex were educating 1,319 pupils from London. These figures include pupils in maintained nursery schools, primary schools, secondary schools and all types of special schools. Such arrangements generally rest on informal agreements between the two local education authorities concerned. But there is provision in paragraph 3 of Part II of the First Schedule to the Education Act, 1944, for establishing joint committees for some specific purpose.

The extent to which a local education authority relies on the schools of another is a matter for agreement between the two authorities, and it is a point which naturally will come up for consideration when development plans are drawn up as provided in Clause 31 subsections (1) to (3) of this Bill, and when those plans are submitted to my right honourable friend the Minister of Education for his approval. One of the things he will do when he receives those plans is to consider whether or not the authorities drawing up the plans have paid proper regard to the plans of adjacent authorities. I have noticed there is on the Marshalled List an Amendment in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Crook and Lord Shepherd, seeking to make consultation about primary and secondary schools a statutory requirement. I must not anticipate what I shall say when we reach those Amendments, but perhaps it will be in order for me to say that I hope what I then say will be agreeable to the noble Lords. The same consideration applies to schemes of further education, but because institutions of further education commonly serve more than one local education authority there is an express provision already in Section 42(4) of the Education Act, 1944, that a local education authority when preparing its scheme should consult the local education authorities for adjacent areas.

For special schools there are also regional arrangements of one kind and another throughout the country, under which it is decided which local education authority should maintain which school. No one local education authority can hope to provide by itself for the rarer types of handicap. Similar arrangements will have to be made for maintaining the special schools at present maintained by Middlesex County Council. The local authorities which succeed Middlesex will have to share them out between themselves, and the Middlesex Excepted Districts Association has already given some consideration to this. Apart from special schools maintained by local education authorities, there is a certain amount of provision in voluntary special schools, but a change in boundaries will present no difficulty here because these schools already serve more than one local education authority and recover the cost by charging an economic fee.

I should like now to explain briefly the position with regard to responsibility for the institutions at present maintained by the outgoing authorities, and particularly Middlesex. In the main it is expected that property will go to the area where it is situated; but there is provision for exceptions. This will be considered carefully by the local authorities concerned. In particular, it is envisaged that the Ministry of Education will bring together the new local education authorities which will replace Middlesex in order to consider which should be responsible for each of the various special schools in Middlesex.

Next, I will say something more about the future of further education, which I think the noble Lord would like me to do? This is something about which fears have been expressed to my right honourable friend the Minister of Education. It has been said, in particular, that the distribution of colleges of further education among the new outer London boroughs will be uneven. That, I think, is one of the points which the noble Lord, Lord Crook, had in mind. This may well be so, but I do not think there is any reason why it should create difficulties because, from the point of view of the student, access to further education colleges in the whole of Greater London is guaranteed by Clause 31(7). From the local education authority point of view, the cost of educating students from other areas will be recovered either from the authority in whose area the student lives or from the pool. There have been suggestions made, though not so far to-day in your Lordships' House, that the new local education authorities will be tempted to compete with each other in providing courses for further education, and that this will lead to uneconomical duplication. But any such tendency can be dealt with, so far as advanced courses are concerned, by the Regional Advisory Council.

I turn now to the rights of parents to choose schools in the areas of other London boroughs and the effect of the new boundaries on the schools themselves when their catchment area is bisected. Clause 31(7) secures that boundaries in Greater London shall not be any obstacle to admission. The operative words are: it shall not be a ground for refusing a pupil admission to, or excluding a pupil from, any county or voluntary school or further educational institution maintained or assisted by a local education authority in Greater London, that the pupil resides in the area of some other local education authority in Greater London. In effect therefore, as a result of the provisions of this Bill, Greater London for this purpose is treated by statute as a single unit. This is an important improvement on what the noble Earl called the "free trade" as it exists at the moment, because, for the first time, free trade is going to be a statutory requirement written into this Bill for the whole of Greater London.

Again, I have observed that the noble Lords, Lord Crook and Lord Shepherd, have set down an Amendment to extend this provision to authorities outside Greater London. Again I hope that when we come to discuss this Amendment noble Lords will not be dissatisfied with what I have to say. Furthermore, the arrangements for preparing and approving fresh development plans and schemes of further education under subsections (1) to (3) of Clause 31 will enable my right honourable friend to safeguard the interests of third parties and ensure that local education authorities do not plan their provision without reference to the needs of their neighbours. There is a special safeguard here for the voluntary schools about which the noble Earl rightly expressed concern.


Has the noble Lord finished with that part of the matter?


No; I want to explain it a little more. Subsection (2) of Clause 31 applies subsections (3) to (5) of section 11 of the Education Act 1944, and this includes a provision that a local education authority shall—and now I quote: before submitting their development plan to the Minister, consult the managers or governors, or persons representing the managers or governors, of all schools other than county schools, whether within or without the area of the authority, which would in the opinion of the authority be affected by the execution of the plan, and shall, after submitting the plan to the Minister, forthwith furnish to the managers or governors of every such school such particulars relating to the plan as are sufficient to show the manner in which the school would he affected by the execution thereof. That leads me on to the question of transport, which was also a matter raised by the noble Earl. I do not think there is any reason to fear that the new local education authority will be less generous than the old in paying for transport to voluntary schools of the parents' choice. In the experience of the Ministry of Education, the local education authorities are generally willing to provide transport, where this is necessary in order to enable a child to attend a voluntary school of the parents' choice and the journey involved is reasonable. My right honourable friend would certainly be ready to use his good offices with a local education authority if a voluntary school considered that its pupils were not being fairly treated; and in the last resort he has a power of direction, under Section 75(1) of the Education Act, 1944, if an authority's general arrangements for providing transport are inadequate. It has only rarely been necessary to use this power, but it is there; and therefore there is no need to take any fresh powers in this Bill.


Can the noble Lord say which borough pays the transport costs in the case of children going to school in a borough not their own? Is it the exporting authority, so to speak, or the importing authority?


I think it is normally the exporting authority.


Even all over Greater London?


I think so.


It will be an expensive matter.


It is open Ito local authorities to pay for places in independent and direct grant schools if they need them, but they are under no obligation to do so if they do not need them. As the need for places in their areas fluctuates from time to time, the number of places they take up also varies. It would not be feasible to require one of the new local education authorities to take up a fixed number of places in perpetuity, regardless of their needs, simply because a former local education authority had done so; but there is no reason to think that the new education authorities will make sudden and unjustifiable changes. They will need to discuss with the schools concerned what their future policy will be when they come to draw up their development plans, and there is a special safeguard in Clause 33 for pupils who have started on their courses in independent and direct grant schools with grants from former local education authorities by April 1, 1965. The new local education authorities are required to continue the awards until the pupils have completed their course.

I am afraid that I, too, have spoken perhaps for rather too long. The noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Crook, were kind enough to give us their views also at reasonable length. I would sum up my argument in this way. The special considerations which apply to inner London do not in the opinion of the Government, apply to outer London boroughs. It would be a mistake to divorce education in outer London from the other personal services. The outer London boroughs will be large enough to provide, either by themselves or by regional arrangements, education services which will be satisfactory in every way. Those are the reasons why Clause 30 is in the Bill and the reasons why I must advise your Lordships that the noble Earl's Amendment should not be accepted.


The noble Lord has not answered the case that was made by my noble friend Lord Longford. What he has done is to demonstrate that Her Majesty's Government have got themselves into a thorough mess about this and have been driven by legitimate public opinion in the County of London, and the opinions of the parents and teachers, in two stages to concede the Inner London Education Authority. I do not think it is an ideal arrangement, but it was a triumph of some sort for the views that the Labour Party and educationists generally have taken about the educational provisions of this Bill.

The noble Lord has not made a case, except for complete lack of logic and some degree of muddle as a consequence of this Bill. The primary purpose of the Government in bringing in the Bill was to abolish the Labour majority on the London County Council, which it could only do by abolishing the London County Council itself. It acted on the principle that if one cannot win an election one legislates the body out of existence. Having started it, they met a great amount of opposition from teachers, educationists and parents, because the London County Council educational system is popular.

At first they resisted. They were going to give education to each of the London boroughs in the existing County of London. Then they had to modify their view and one Minister of Education conceded that there should be an Inner London Education Authority dealing with a population of about 2 or 2½ or, possibly, 3 million.


3 million.


No, the first proposal was for 2 to 2½ million.


It was 2½ million, not 3 million.




I am sorry, I would not disturb the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House from having a little sleep at any time, but he should not interrupt if he does not know what he is talking about.




It is very dangerous for a man who is half asleep to interrupt, because he may say the wrong thing.




The noble and learned Viscount—especially learned—does not know what he is talking about. He goes on like a man in some sort of condition which I would not dare to describe, saying "Three"; but because he says "Three" in that funny voice it does not make it three. It was 2 to 2½ million at the outside. That was the first effort by this extraordinary Government of strong men of powerful minds. That was the first surrender in principle. But the pressure went on and of course this Government accuse us of politics. If ever a Government thought about politics from beginning to end, it is in this Bill. I am sorry for the noble Lord, Lord Newton, poor chap!, having to come here and defend a Bill of this sort. He might be capable of defending a good Government but he is incapable of defending this one.

So the pressure continued, but it still meant cutting up the London County Council educational system, which had become popular and admired not only in the rest of the country but in large numbers of countries throughout the world, loved by the London teachers, popular with the parents, and liked by the children. So the agitation went on. Deputations of teachers came along—and teachers are very clever at deputations. They are non-political and, in the circumstances, I am not going to say that they are wrong. Their unions are non-political, and as a result they can bring pressure to bear on political Parties perhaps greater than some other bodies can do. At any rate, they came along and interviewed Members of Parliament, and the Government then extended the Inner London Education Area, which is a dreadful title, to the whole of the present administrative county of London, including—may the Lord Mayor forgive them!—the ancient City itself.

So that was the second move. I would remind the noble and learned Viscount, if he is still conscious, that that is the second one, and that is the one he forgot. Having done that, and started on the basis that they wanted these boroughs to be full-blooded education authorities, and having surrendered the boroughs in the Inner London Education Area, at any rate until 1970, this brilliant Government—they really are a pantomime Government; they have no political brains; they are committing suicide; it is a suicide club all the time—then said, "What are we to do with the outer London boroughs?". Then they said, "We will fall back on our dear London boroughs who are our cherished legitimised children".

So the outer London boroughs are themselves to be education authorities for all classes of education; and if they cannot do it, they can form a joint committee or authority of some sort within very strict limits—not like this—or they can contract for free trade. I must say that I do not like that term being applied to human beings, especially children. It almost reminds one of the Common Market.


Or the white slave trade.


So, outside the County of London, without rhyme or reason, the Government make these London boroughs the full, complete education authority, from the nursery school to the technical colleges—if the Ministry of Education still lets them have them—and higher education and further education all round.

The noble Lord, Lord Newton, says that this is quite a sensible thing to do because in these areas, there is no London County Council. No, but there are other county councils. And the County Councils of Essex, Kent and Surrey are great education authorities; and so is Middlesex. It is perfectly true that they did delegate some powers to county districts, although not so much in Surrey as in Middlesex, which I think overdid it. As a matter of fact, Mr. Butler was not all that enthusiastic about the excepted authorities under the Education Act, 1944. He had to submit to some pressure about that, and I am sorry he did. So Surrey, Middlesex, Essex and Kent County Councils were great education authorities, and the lesser local authorities, the county districts, had themselves some powers in education. But it is no good assuming that the Government start with a slate that is clear of trouble, and that outside the County of London the education authorities were the county districts. They were not. The major education authorities were the county councils, and the three county boroughs.

So the Government get into another muddle and they propose to make the boroughs full education authorities in the counties surrounding the County of London. That is the situation as we meet it, and all this talk that they can exchange, and they can make contracts and have free trade, is not what is really wanted. Nor does it meet the argument of my noble friend to say, "Well, county boroughs of limited populations have done this". They have, but then a county borough usually is a town on its own—not always, because sometimes in South-East Lancashire, for example, they bump into each other, but in probably the majority of cases it is a recognisable town. The trouble with this Greater London area is that there is no recognisable town within it. It has become all built up. Therefore, the argument about the county boroughs is totally irrelevant.

The noble Lord, Lord Newton, has been in politics long enough to have learned that elementary fact. These are not towns. These are now arbitrarily described as "boroughs" in a more or less continuous built-up area. That is a totally different administrative problem from the problem in the provincial county boroughs, indeed, in London the Government had to concede the point, because if they are right in regard to the continuous built-up areas in the counties outside, they were wrong to concede in London in regard to the London education authorities. They should have stuck to the boroughs. I am glad they did not, but logically they should have done so. Therefore, the argument about the county does not work. Having tried to destroy the London County Council for political reasons, the Government had to destroy substantial parts of the counties around London, and with it their pretty good educational systems.

Then there are the special schools and all the problems associated with them, as well as those in the residential schools, which in none of these counties can be properly allocated or confined to the operations of a particular individual London borough. Special arrangements must be made, possibly for joint authorities to run them, which in that case are not good.

In the circumstances my friends looked into what was the best thing to do—not the ideal thing to do, because none of us would say that this is ideal, but it was the best thing we could think of, namely, that as in the County of London, as it now is, an inner London education authority should be brought about, then we would have education authorities for the County of Middlesex similarly run and supervised, and the cut off parts of Essex, Kent and Surrey. Having conceded the inner London education authority, the Government cannot logically resist the other. If this were conceded there would be a case for the Greater London Council itself, with these important education authorities in existence in association with it, becoming a sort of coordinating body for the education of Greater London and responsible for the estimates. It is wrong for the education estimates to be passed by an education authority as a precept on other authorities. It ought to be passed by a body which has other services and has to consider the finance's of the area as a whole. That is where the Government have gone financially wrong, and I wonder the Treasury did not pull them up.

I must say, with great respect, that I think it is very remiss that the Established Church is not represented by its Bishops in this Committee this afternoon. I never quarrel with any religious denominations; I respect them all. But certain Bishops are Members of this House; the Established Church is represented here; and if ever they had a duty to be here it was this afternoon, not only because the voluntary schools, of which they are an important part, are directly involved, but because they as good citizens ought to be interested in education. I hope it will reach them that I think it is a dreadful thing that not even the Bishop of London is here.


He could not be here.


All right. But people know that these things are coming up, and should arrange for a colleague to be here. Neither of the Archbishops is here. And this is a very important Bill which affects both education and the welfare of the people. I want to say, with such quietness as I can, and with great respect to the Established Church, that if Bishops are going to serve in this House we expect them to do their duty, especially on matters in which the Church ought to have voice. If one Bishop could not come, he could easily arrange for another Bishop, or an Archbishop, to be with us.

Let us consider the difficulties of the voluntary schools. These are largely solved in the County of London because they have dealt with the London County Council. I have had arguments about this with some of them, including my late friend who is no longer with us, the Bishop of Pella—we had arguments, but got on all right at the end of the day. They had one education authority to deal with, which was a great advantage to the Church of England, the Catholic Church and other denominations with schools of their own. Outside London, instead of having this restricted number of counties and county boroughs to deal with, they will have a considerable number of boroughs to negotiate with; and I think that is a disadvantage to the denominations, and is not good for them.

We have discussed this proposition in a way that has left it threadbare and incapable of defence, but if noble Lords opposite wish to continue to debate and defend the situation, or if any of my friends wish to continue the debate, that is all right, it is a free country, so far. But when we have finished, we will have to go to a Division, because the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Newton, was utterly unsatisfactory and ill-founded.

5.47 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, has obviously enjoyed himself this afternoon. I suppose that if we accepted this Amendment he would at once jeer at us at the next session, and say, "Now we are in a worse muddle than ever." His theory seems to be that if the Government do not accept any Amendment it is not open to argument, but if they have accepted any, or make any concession to public opinion, or listen to the advice of teachers or others, then they are getting into a muddle. Surely it is a good thing that the Government should promulgate its proposals following upon the Royal Commission's Report, and should give plenty of time for all concerned to criticise them and bring deputations and make suggestions. If concessions are made, it shows that the democratic Parliamentary system is working: it does not necessarily show that there is a muddle.

The noble Lord has come back on this Amendment to his favourite theme: that the Government, with practically no other object in mind, are solely concerned—I think his words were—with destroying the Labour majority on the London County Council.


Hear, hear!


I felt sure that I should get confirmation of my interpretation of what he said. In order to do that, they must destroy the London County Council itself. We must remember that this London County Council, which the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, admires so much, was founded by Liberals and Conservatives. It was occupied by Liberals for a third of its lifetime, by Tories for another third, and then by the Labour Party for the last third. It is therefore by no means true to say that this is a Socialist London County Council. It is the London County Council, a noble edifice to which all Parties have, in their time, made their contribution and of which we can all be proud.

There is no justice in talking about destroying the Socialist Party there, or destroying the London County Council itself. Surely we are seeking to change it for something of which it will be one of the largest elements in its tradition. The new Greater London Council will inherit a great part of the splendid organism which the London County Council is; and being as large as it is, representing at least half the population of the new Council, it will make at least half the contribution—and probably a much greater share—towards the evolution of the new Council when it comes into being. Great parts of the skills which have been designed over the last 70 years in the London County Council—not only in the last 25 years—will go forward into this new body and will be perpetuated. I deny, therefore, that the Party had any intention to destroy the Socialist London County Council.

If that fear is really in the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, may I ask him why he should be so afraid of the voters? Why is it only one group of voters—namely, those in the inner 4 million ring—that he is so sure of? Can it be related to the design which he has himself made over the years of the advantageous housing arrangements in that circle, which have done him so well in those constituencies where there were marginal votes? Can it be that he is, in fact, the one who is afraid; and that it is he who for the last days and hours has been playing politics, because the evolution now proposed is going to upset the empire which he has so admirably and nobly built in London, or which he has taken part in building, but which, incidentally, has built great power for himself and his Party?

It might well be said that the London County Council is the spiritual home of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. That I well understand. I was there, as a youngster, some 40 years ago, when he and I entered that London County Council before he had made his great name and before I had begun my political career. Out of a small Labour Party of six or seven, hitherto having held no office in London at all, he built up over the years a machine which was capable of beating the Municipal Reform Party and coming into power. But that does not give the Labour Party a monopoly of the London County Council's conscience, or its life or its tradition.


May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? Before he ends his very interesting speech, can I hope that he will address himself to the Amendment and to the educational issues involved, or do they lie outside his province?


I am greatly obliged to the noble Earl. I hope that all I have said was relevant, not only to the Amendment but especially to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth. The proposal in the Amendment, as I understand it, is to secure that Middlesex, Surrey, Kent and Essex shall now set up some sort of ad hoc authority (or is to be elected? I do not think that has been explained) which is to provide education in this part of the territory to be hived off. Is that not so?

The argument runs: because the Government have conceded that the London County Council, under the management of Liberals, Tories, and Socialists for 70 years, has set up such a splendid education authority, and because of its integration, its central position and the great number of skilled people involved—teachers, administrators and others—this central authority is to manage education for the central part of London. Therefore that, the noble Lord, Lord Morrison says, is a muddle; although he then proposes—or his friend the noble Earl, Lord Longford, proposes—that we shall apply this same muddle to five other counties. The noble Lord cannot have it both ways: either it is not a muddle or it is a muddle. He had better make up his mind. I cannot myself see, the case having been granted that the central authority, with its great prestige and its great history, should run education, that it necessarily follows that you should invent five new half-baked, almost illegitimate, pieces of education control in five other different places. There cannot be much sense in that. I hope that the noble Earl may feel that I have tried to address myself to the Amendment. It seems to me that the Government ought to resist this Amendment, if on r o other ground than that one which I repeat, that we do not want yet another five muddles.


I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, was to speak—but perhaps his opinions were voiced by the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee. The Minister was kind enough to reply to points, some of which were made and others of which were not made. I made a great many points in a speech which may have been unduly long. Very few of them, as will be seen by a study of Hansard, were replied to. In fact, the whole question of strategic services, and the method of dealing with them, was something with which the Minister was not equipped to deal. So we felt that his answer, through no fault whatever of his, was quite inadequate.

I cannot pretend to have sat through all these debates with, for example, the fidelity of the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. But the noble Lord, Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, is one of the relatively few noble Lords on the Government side who have come staunchly to the assistance of the Ministers. Those who have been through the whole business tell me that he is the only one, and if so he deserves the greatest possible credit. He, of course, attacked the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, in quite a vigorous way; but everybody enjoyed that, so no one is going to complain. Just at the very end he did turn his mind—rather prompted and impromptu—to the Amendment. He brought up one argument which I think one should at least do him the courtesy of mentioning. He said that we say that the Inner London Education Authority is a muddle; so why extend the muddle? What we do say is that it is a second best. But it is better to extend a second-best arrangement, than to create a third-rate arrangement—which is what the Government are at present proposing. That is the simple answer to the noble Lord.

But taking the matter more generally, we have put forward a very careful argument. I do not think that even the noble Lord, Lord Newton, denied that, and I am grateful to him for his answer which was certainly very brave in the circumstances. He stuck to his guns and he never departed from anything that he had been asked to impart to the Committee: he went on his way, irrespective of many of the arguments advanced. But I do not blame the noble Lord. As the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, said, if he had had a good brief he would have delivered it well. As it was, he delivered his brief, which was a very bad one, very bravely, and one cannot pay a man a greater compliment than to congratulate him on audacity. So I will therefore ask the Committee to support this Amendment, remembering that it comes from the County Councils Association, in the first place, and that it is supported by the Labour Party, and,

6.8 p.m.


In considerable trepidation, I advise the Committee that this is a drafting Amendment. At any rate, in my judgment it is a drafting Amendment. Clause 30(1)(b) as it stands makes the Inner London Education Authority the local education authority for the purposes of any reference to a local education authority in the Education Acts, 1944 to 1962, or other Acts, subject to subsection (6). Subsection (6) is the subsection which provides for a review and a report to Parliament by 1970 of the administration of education in inner London, and empowers my right honourable friend the Minister of Education to lay regulations before Parliament. It has to be read with subsection (7), because subsection (7) provides for what

I hope, by all men of intelligence in this House.

6.1 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 153) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 59.

Addison, V. Henley, L. Shackleton, L.
Airedale, L. Hughes, L. Shepherd, L.
Amulree, L. Kennet, L. Sinha, L.
Archibald, L. Latham, L. Summerskill, B.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Lawson, L. Walston, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Listowel, E. Williams, L.
Champion, L. Longford, E. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Crook, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Williamson, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Wilmot of Selmeston, L.
Faringdon, L. Nathan, L. Wise, L.
Grantchester, L. Rea, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Henderson, L.
Abinger, L. Devonshire, D. Mancroft, L.
Ailwyn, L. Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor) Margesson, V.
Albemarle, E. Dudley, E. Merrivale, L.
Allerton, L. Ebbisham, L. Milverton, L.
Atholl, D. Eccles, L. Molson, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Effingham, E. Monk Bretton, L.
Beauchamp, E. Exeter, M. Newton, L.
Boston, L. Falmouth, V. Ormonde, M.
Bradford, E. Ferrers, E. Remnant, L.
Bridgeman, V. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Carrington, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Rochdale, V.
Colgrain, L. Grenfell, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Colville of Culross, V. Hailsham, V. (L. President) Somers, L.
Colyton, L. Hanworth, V. Soulbury, V.
Conesford, L. Hastings, L. Swinton, E.
Cranbrook, E. Hawke, L. Teynham, L.
De La Warr, E. Howe, E. Waleran, L.
Denham, L. Ilford, L. Wellington, D.
Derwent, L. Jellicoe, E. Wigram, L.
Devonport, V. Lothian, M.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

may be put into any regulations. Subsection (7) ought, therefore, to be included in Clause 30(1)(b) along with subsection (6); and that is what this Amendment does. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 42, line 35, leave out ("subsection (6)") and insert ("subsections (6) and (7)").—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER moved to leave out subsections (6) and (7). The noble Baroness said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Taylor, who is abroad, I have been asked to move this Amendment. The Committee must have in mind that subsection (6) of Clause 30 is a unique provision. The Bill proposes to make many and radical changes in the whole structure of government of the Greater London area, as covered by the proposed Greater London Council; but this is the one and only case in which the Government are apparently so afraid of the changes they are proposing that they dare not allow them to continue without an obligatory review within seven years. This is the one case in which the Government, apparently, have no confidence in the lasting qualities of their own proposals. This is, therefore, a quite exceptional provision in the Bill. It is exceptional, also, because the review which the Government are to make of the working of the Inner London Education Authority is an obligatory review.

One would have thought there might be a case, with a new authority established of a new kind, for some review to take place after a period; and one would have thought the judgment of whether or not the review was necessary was something which would be made by the Government of the time. But, with very unusual prescience, the Government are proposing that this review should be mandatory and that it should occur not later than 1970—indeed, that it should be completed not later than 1970. If this Bill becomes law, and unless further legislation is passed, the Government of the day will have no option but to institute such a review. It is curious, too, in another sense. Because, again with remarkable prescience, the Government apparently foresee, even years from now, what the important issues will be in the judgment of the Government that will have to make this review. It is not to be simply a review of the working of the system; it is not to be a review of the system from the angle of educational efficiency; it is to be a review to see whether or not a particular thing ought to be done.

The terms of reference are prescribed pretty narrowly, seven years beforehand. It is to be a review for the purpose of determining whether, and if so to what extent, in what part or parts of the inner London area and subject to what, if any, conditions, all or any functions of the local education authority … should be transferred to, or to a body including a member or members appointed by the appropriate council, that is to say, as respects the City the Common Council or as respect; an inner London borough the council of that borough … In other words, it is being reviewed to see whether some part, geographically or administratively, of the education service is to be given to the boroughs. The terms of reference are determined as narrowly as that. The review is not to cover other questions, such as whether some part or the whole of the service might be given to the Greater London Council. It is a review aimed at fragmentation, and fragmentation only.

One can understand that perhaps the Government have some doubts about the efficiency of this rather curious new authority which the Inner London Education Authority will be. It was said, I think, more than once in another place that it was a unique and novel type of authority; and indeed one might well agree that it is a curious animal. At the least it is a mutation; it might more correctly be described as a monster. The Inner London Education Authority is primarily a committee of the Greater London Council, and added to it there will then be the nominees of the inner London boroughs. Starting thus as a committee of the Greater London Council, it will itself operate through its own education committee. It is, in other words, a body which is constituted on the principle of indirect election carried to the third degree. Certainly it is a curious animal; and one can understand why the Government are not entirely happy about its future. By comparison with the simple directly elected body which is now responsible for education in the inner London area, we are quite prepared to agree that this is something of a monstrosity.

The review is to take place some time in the next seven years. We have been talking about it here, and it has been publicly discussed as taking the form of a review in 1970. But it is not a review in 1970: it is a review which is to be carried out before then; and not later than March, 1970, a report is to be laid before Parliament. When one thinks of the long period that usually elapses between the appointment of a committee and the receipt of its report, it is quite clear that this review, at the very latest, is going to be started long before 1970. Since the clause says simply that the Minister shall carry it out and complete it not later than March, 1970, there is nothing preventing him from starting it straight away. The period of uncertainty is going to begin from the word "go"; from the moment the Inner London Education Authority is set up.

I would remind the Committee that this will be a new type of authority and will need to get its experience. It will consist, no doubt, of some former members of the existing Education Committee of the London County Council—or so we hope. But it will consist also of a number of persons who have no experience of administering a great education service. It will consist of the nominees of the boroughs whose service, if they have previously been borough councillors, will not have given them any experience of the administration of education. It will probably be deprived of the services of some of the aldermen who have given yeoman service on the London County Council Education Committee. It is apparently the case that the education committee of the inner London Education Authority will itself have power to co-opt; but it will not have provided, as it were ready-made, some of the most experienced members who now serve as aldermen on the London County Council Education Committee. In other words, it will be a body which will have to gain its experience as it goes along; and it is to be allowed only this short period before it will be the subject of review to determine whether it is to be deprived of all or any of its functions.

Even if the review is deferred to the latest possible moment; even if it is done very quickly, so that the report can be presented early in 1970—after perhaps only a few months or a year of investigation—it is bound to fall within the school life of a very large number of children. No child can enter school now confident that the general administrative set-up will be the same at the end of its school life as it is at present. Still less can any teacher enter the service of the Inner London Education Authority with any confidence that the Authority will be a permanent employer. No doubt there will be arrangements for the transfer of the services of the educational staffs to any other bodies who take over some of the functions of the authority, but transfer does not mean quite the same thing as going on in the service of the same employer, the same authority. And every teacher is now sure that, unless he is within seven years of retirement, another great change is due to fall within his period of service.

Altogether, I suppose, the London educational service will have suffered from continuous uncertainty, with its effect upon recruitment of staff, with its effect upon the prospects of children and with its effect upon parents, for a good seven years. The uncertainty began with the publication of the Royal Commission's Report, and it is now guaranteed by this provision, if it becomes law, that the uncertainty will continue for at least seven years more. Think of some of the things that this uncertainty effects!Think of the position of an authority wishing to build new schools, which may no longer be its own after ten years! Think of the position of an authority wishing to develop new types of schools, of experimenting with new forms of specialised education, none of them with the confidence that it can retain these for more than seven years! This uncertainty is extraordinarily damaging. And I am delighted to see that the Government themselves are well aware of the damaging effect of this kind of uncertainty.

In connection with an earlier Amendment proposed to this Bill, which dealt with election procedure in the local government elections in the Greater London area, the Government expressed great concern at the uncertainty which the proposed Amendment would have created. I quote from the words of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who I am sorry to see is not at the moment in his place: In this context, to provide for a review at an early date—and it would be quite an early date—would put an element of uncertainty into the affairs of this great city which is what we wish to avoid. So, on the right hand, the Government are reluctant, and rightly, to put an element of uncertainty into the affairs of this great city, but, with the left hand, they put it in in this clause of the Bill. This is as convincing a statement from the Front Bench opposite as one could wish to have of the dangers of introducing this kind of uncertainty in what is by common consent the most important of all the services of local government—namely, the education of children.

The attitude of the Government seems to be extraordinarily equivocal. On the one hand, the clause says that there must be a review and it must ask these particular questions about giving these functions to the borough councils and the Common Council of the City. They are determined to have it, so it must be going to do something important; but when that point was raised in another place, the common reply was that it was very unlikely that it would do anything or, at any rate anything very important, and there was really no need to be alarmed.

The Minister of Education assured us, on the Second Reading of the Bill in another place, that the advice of the Government of the day—he seemed to know a lot about what the Government of the day, in 1970, would be and do—would be determined by the balance of advantages from the educational point of view. When the Bill was in Committee, the Parliamentary Secretary assured the Committee that the Government had no changes in mind and that, more specifically, the Government of 1970 would be very unlikely to give education wholly to the boroughs. Maybe the Parliamentary Secretary had a shrewd idea of who the Government in 1970 would be and his prophecy might be well founded.

Surely this clause would never be here if it were not for the curious history of this matter. The clause is here not because the Government want particularly a mandatory review on merits to decide these things seven years from now. The clause is here because of the history of the question; because, in the first instance, the Royal Commission wanted to give education to the boroughs for, among others, one of the strangest reasons—namely, that there were a lot of people in the boroughs who would like to serve on education committees. The Royal Commission wanted originally to give education to the boroughs, the boroughs as conceived by the Royal Commission; the boroughs have cast covetous eyes on education all through; and the Government clearly share the view, at the bottom of their hearts, that the boroughs have some claim to education. I am sure that the Government have a suppressed wish to throw a sop to the boroughs in the form of some part of the administration of this service. This seems to me a most strange reason for settling now, seven years ahead, that this covetousness on the part of the boroughs, which in their new form are not yet born, must be promised a potential reward, after the lapse of so short an experience. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 44, line 20, leave out subsection (6) and (7).—(Baroness Wootton of Abinger.)


I have listened with close attention to what the noble Baroness has said, because we all know that she has great experience of this subject, but I could not help feeling that she is making rather heavy weather of this clause. After all, the person who has the greatest knowledge of educational problems is not the Minister of Education or the official of local government; it is the school teacher himself or herself. Surely, any clause which is going to make it possible for the Minister to get more closely in touch with these problems and to find out how things can be improved should be welcomed.


Let us agree that school teachers are the best judges, but is the noble Lord aware that they are violently against this review? I am taking him up on his own argument, directly and bluntly.


That I am not aware of, and I have not heard of it from the school teachers with whom I am closely in touch.


School teachers in the L.C.C. area have fought this change strenuously. They are 100 per cent. against the Government on this.


Not 100 per cent.


The teachers collectively are 100 per cent. against. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that. One could hardly get a more overwhelming opposition against any Government proposal. I am speaking in particular of the L.C.C. area. If the noble Lord is going to call in aid the teachers, and there is no reason why he should not, I hope that he will vote with us in the Lobby. He has, if I may say so with the utmost respect, very little option.


The noble Baroness is clearly worried by the uncertainty which she feels this provision in the Bill will create. She mentioned uncertainty several times. I could not help feeling that if I were worried at the uncertainty which may be caused, I should conclude from that that it is a good thing that the uncertainty will be over by 1970. The longer the period you write into the Bill by which time reviews will be completed, it seems to me, the more you will prolong the existing service. The noble Baroness said that the position of the Government over this review is very equivocal. I want to try to convince, not only the noble Baroness, but all your Lordships, that this provision in subsections (6) and (7), which the noble Baroness wishes to leave out, is not an infernal machine for the purpose of destroying the London County Council's education service; it really is not a trick to provide for execution by 1970, and there is not any deep-laid plot at all. I do hope that I shall be able to convince your Lordships of that.

What subsection (6) does is to require my right honourable friend the Minister of Education to carry out a review by 1970, and it empowers him, in the light of the review, to transfer any area of the functions of the I.L.E.A. to the inner London boroughs or the City or to a joint board. I would strongly emphasise that, although these subsections empower my right honourable friend to do that, they do not require him either to do that or to make any changes at all. The drafting was specifically altered in another place to make this clear beyond any possible doubt. The noble Lady referred to what my right honourable friend the Minister of Education said in the course of his speech in another place on Second Reading. What he was concerned to do, by my reading of his speech, was to make it clear that the matter is left open without prejudice. He said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 669 (No. 31), col. 246]: It will be perfectly open to the Government of the day to advise Parliament in 1970, if they so decide, that the balance of advantage lies in retaining a single local education authority in the inner London area. He repeated that, or words to that effect, several times. Later on in his speech, he said [col. 247]: It would be quite wrong to suppose that the general nature of the Government's proposals for Greater London make it reasonable to assume at the moment that education will become a borough service after 1970. This matter is left open without prejudice …". Surely, nothing can be clearer or fairer than that. Incidentally, the noble Baroness said that she thought these subsections were unique. I think they are very nearly unique, although there is an exactly similar provision in Clause 34(4) for providing for a review of the youth employment service, and I rather think the noble Baroness has an Amendment down to delete it. But the reason for providing a review is that the I.L.E.A. is itself unique; it is without parallel anywhere else in the educational service. It seems to us that it is only sensible to allow an opportunity to review its working and, if necessary, improve it.


I should like to ask the noble Lord this question. Would it not be perfectly possible to hold this review without this provision in the Bill?


That I do not know; I should rather doubt it.


It is rather an important point.


Surely the noble Lord will accept the fact that it is open to the Government to set up an inquiry into any part of the administration.


That might be so. But if you make provision for it in a Statute, there can be no doubt about it. Everybody will know that it will be taking place and can be prepared for it.

I quoted words from my right honourable friend the Minister of Education speaking in the Second Reading debate, and I should like now to quote a passage from my right honourable friend the Minister of Health when winding up the debate in another place on Second Reading. He said [col. 335]: The review will relate to the question whether the inner London boroughs will be able in future to participate more fully or directly in the administration of the education service. It would be wrong … that we should at this stage close our minds entirely to the possibility that we can find some effective way of bringing the boroughs who will be administering all the other human and personal services still more closely into contact with the administration of education. It has been made clear in the course of proceedings in another place that the interests of the education service will be the paramount consideration when the review takes place. The Government have accepted, as your Lordships know, for inner London the disadvantage of separating education from the other personal services, because it is outweighed by the advantages of keeping in being the London education service as it is today. It is envisaged that the L.C.C.'s educational service will be handed over, as it stands, with its staff, to the I.L.E.A. The service has grown up as one whole under a single authority; the school catchment areas bear no relation to borough boundaries and the metropolitan boroughs have no experience of administering education. These are important considerations, and they are the main considerations on account of which the Government provided that the I.L.E.A. shall be the education authority in inner London. Therefore, these considerations will obviously continue to carry great weight in 1970. But experience may suggest ways in which the inner London boroughs could play a greater part, and if it does, surely it is only reasonable and sensible to provide for the necessary changes, which is what these subsections do.

As regards the form that the review will take, the Minister of the day will presumably wish to consult the I.L.E.A., the councils of the inner London boroughs and the Common Council, and will also no doubt take into account the views of other interested bodies, such as the voluntary schools.

I suppose it is arguable—although I do not think the noble Baroness took the point—that changes of this kind, if any, should be effected by legislation rather than by regulations, which is the position. But I think if anybody feels that, he is presupposing that the changes made, if any are made, would necessarily be major ones. I do not want to speculate as to what, changes, if any, will be made, but it is possible that any changes might be quite minor ones, yet in themselves worth making. For example, it is conceivable that a need might be established for giving the boroughs representation on the governing bodies of secondary schools. I do not that changes of this order would warrant the taking up of Parliamentary time; and your Lordships know as well as I do how difficult it can be sometimes to fit even quite small Bills into Parliamentary timetables. The Minister will be required not only to lay before Parliament a report of his review, but also to lay before Parliament a draft of any regulations he proposes to make; and no such regulations are to be made under the Bill unless they have been approved by Resolution of each House of Parliament. I hope I may have achieved what I set out to do at the beginning of my speech, which was to convince your Lordships that there is nothing sinister about this proposal and it is right it should remain in the Bill.


This is the first time that I have spoken on any of the Amendments that have been put down to this Bill, and that is for this reason. I have felt that if I tried to bring about major alterations in the Bill, or in the structure of government in London as proposed in the Bill, I would not be successful. Therefore I decided that I would limit my interventions to matters of administration in the Bill affecting the services; because they are matters on which the Government could yield without yielding on any matter of principle, and on which the Committee would be free to judge without considerations as to Party politics having to enter into the judgment. I hope that this Amendment will be considered in that way. It is a proposal that affects the administration of the education service which it is proposed to put under the new Inner London Education Authority; and we feel that the review which the Government have in mind would be extremely harmful to the education service. This, I hope, is a matter which will be considered on its merits, and quite apart from political issues which have arisen during the consideration of the Bill.

The reason why we consider that this provision for a review, to be completed by 1970, would be harmful to the education service in inner London is that given by my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger when she put forward the Amendment, namely, the uncertainty that it will cause in the minds of those who are affected. This uncertainty is bound to affect very harmfully the teaching staff in the education service in the inner London area. In his reply, the noble Lord, Lord Newton, did not deny that uncertainty would be harmful to the education service, but he said that it would be worse if it lasted for a period longer than seven years. I have seldom heard a weaker reply to any argument than that: to say that uncertainties are a bad thing, but that they will, after all, continue only until 1970.

Let us consider the effects of this uncertainty. No wonder the teachers are worrying! The teachers will not know whether they will be able to go on serving the Inner London Education Authority, or whether they will be transferred to a London borough at the end of the seven-year period. How can it be supposed that the Inner London Education Authority will be able to retain the services of some of its senior teachers if, when they have this threat hanging over their heads, they are offered a post by another education authority in another part of the country? How is the Inner London Education Authority to maintain the flow of recruitment? I know that already what many of the officials of the London County Council are afraid of is not transfer to the Greater London Council, but transfer to the boroughs; and it is this fear that is going to affect the teaching staff in the London schools.

The other point, of course, is how is it possible to undertake educational planning if you can plan only for a period of seven years? I am saying all this because I served for many years on the London County Council. I was not a member of the Education Committee, but I, naturally, knew pretty accurately what was going on. I saw the plans that my colleagues had, for instance, for a school building programme which extended over a much longer period than five to seven years. It is not going to be possible to do educational planning on the long-term basis on which it should be done if there is a possible break at the end of seven years; and the effect of this possible break will, of course, become worse as the end of the seven-year period approaches. In four, five or six years' time the effect of the uncertainty will be very much worse even than it is now.

But surely, if it is admitted, even by the Government, that this uncertainty is undesirable, they ought to make out a case for the necessity of this review. The education service which is to be run by the Inner London Education Authority is substantially the Education Service of the London County Council. It will be operating under another body, but it will be the same service, covering the same area of inner London. Up to now there has been no substantial criticism, either in the Press or in Parliament, or anywhere else, so far as I am aware, of the London County Council Education Service. Why then, at this particular moment, should the London Education Service be subject to a review?

One reason offered by the noble Lord, Lord Newton, was the neatness of the Inner London Education Authority. And that, of course, is true. My noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger pointed out that the Inner London Education Authority would be a hybrid, that there are two aspects of this authority. One is its composition and the other is its functions. Its uniqueness cannot consist in its functions, because these are the functions that are now being carried out by the Education Service of the London County Council; so the functions will be the same. Its difference, its uniqueness, will be the composition of the Inner London Education Authority itself. Here, of course, you have very sharp differences as compared with the Education Committee of the London County Council. You have what my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger described as a hybrid. You have a body that is not directly elected, a body that will represent the boroughs as well as the members of the Greater London Council. But if the case is for a review of the composition of that body of this Inner London Education Authority, surely that could be done, and could be provided for, if necessary, in the Bill, without any provision for a review of the functions which this body will be authorised to carry out. And if that were done, then this fear, uncertainty and doubt would not cripple the inner London education services, as I am sure it will if this provision is kept in the Bill.

I hope that your Lordships will consider this as a matter of administration that affects one of the most important services which will be performed by the Greater London Council, and that the wisdom, or otherwise, of providing for a review will be decided by what your Lordships regard as its proper effect on the efficiency of the education service, and on no other ground whatever.

6.50 p.m.


I am quite sure that the Government are right in seeking statutory authority for this review. It is all very well to say that the Minister can review this or that as he likes, but it does not necessarily follow that the parties whose circumstances he is to review, will accept his review and take part in it. Indeed, this Bill might perhaps have been improved in some directions if a great local authority which was invited to co-operate had agreed to do so.

It seemed to me that the noble Earl who has just spoken displayed an undue anxiety about what he regarded as the uncertainty which he feared that this proposal is likely to introduce. I will not say that either he or the noble Baroness displayed an exaggerated anxiety; but it was, indeed, an acute anxiety. Of course, all changes bring about uncertainty, and it would be impossible to transform the local government of Greater London without, to some extent, producing a degree of uncertainty. I listened to the noble Baroness who said that there would be uncertainty among the children because "of the changes in the general administrative service." I should not have thought that a small child attending a London school was much affected by changes in the administrative service. Over the long term that may be so, but I should not have thought that the repercussions of these administrative changes would have sunk so deeply as the primary and secondary schools of London.

Then the noble Baroness was apprehensive that there would be uncertainty in the mind of the special authority itself. I see no reason for that. This new committee which is to be set up will function much as the Education Committee of the London County Council functions to-day. There is no reason for any marked degree of uncertainty in their approach to their task. Then we were told by the noble Earl that the teachers were collectively 100 per cent. opposed to these proposals. I am not quite sure how many teachers are on that basis opposed to these proposals.


May I reply to that point? I think the noble Lord wishes to twist my tail a little over the expression "100 per cent." He is fully entitled to do so. May I put it this way: that it would be difficult to find any body of professional men in this country who were more opposed to anything than the teachers as a whole in London are to this measure, including the review clause?


It was the expression "collectively 100 per cent." which puzzled me.


If I must explain what is meant—I thought the noble Lord would have grasped the point—it was a joke. Perhaps that is a fatal thing in politics; it is a disgraceful error on my part; but it was a joke.


Well, I am glad to hear that the noble Earl was not serious in telling me that the London teachers were 100 per cent. opposed to this scheme.


The noble Lord does not know a joke when he hears it. If he persists in approaching what I said pompously, I will say, with the utmost pomp and ceremony, that teachers in London are overwhelmingly opposed to this measure and its review clause. I said it because one noble Lord said that we must call in the teachers and that they are the people who know. If I cannot make myself plain to the noble Lord I must not interrupt him any more.


The noble Earl has made himself quite plain. I think what happened was that a meeting took place at which a small proportion of the teachers attended and passed a resolution by a majority condemning these proposals.


That is quite wrong.


The noble Earl says that I am quite wrong. I should tell your Lordships that I, too, was a member for many years of the London County Council, and I was once a school manager in London—indeed, I was once chairman of certain school managers. I am quite sure that there are a great many London teachers who would be very glad indeed to serve an authority which was a little nearer to them than this great authority with over 400,000 children in its schools has been able to be. I should be the last person to disparage the London County Council educational service. I have a great admiration for what has been done, and London has benefited immensely. But there are certain defects. These defects, as I see them, are defects which have their origin in the vast size of this authority. I do not myself believe that we can satisfactorily administer a population of over 3 million persons without certain defects, which I will not trouble your Lordships to mention but which are well known. But these defects, I am sure, spring from the fact that the authority is of such an abnormal size.

I will not detain your Lordships for more than a moment longer, but may I say just this? There is, of course, an essential difference between the conditions in the administrative County of London and the conditions outside with regard to the administration of education. The noble Baroness recognised—I was glad that she did—that it is a particularly essential condition of success that there should be experience both in the elected representatives of the education committee and in the authority itself. The metropolitan boroughs have never at any time in their history had experience of the administration of education. It is for that reason that I am sure that the Government are right in providing for this period of transition when the boroughs will be able to organise themselves and build themselves up before they have to accept responsibility for education.

In Greater London the situation is entirely different. I think all the authorities in Greater London, with one exception, were what were called Part III authorities under the old law. Many of them—indeed, most of them—are excepted districts under the Act of 1944, and they have had now nearly 20 years' experience of the administration of all classes of education. I believe that to be the essential difference between the position in the administrative county and the position outside, and it is for that reason that the Government have, in my judgment wisely, arranged for this temporary period before the responsibility for the education service is transferred to the inner London boroughs.

6.58 p.m.


I should like just to add one word here in support of the Government, but for a reason which I expect they do not themselves expect. This is one of those questions where the different requirements of education from other social services are most marked. It is quite clear that the area in which one can best organise the schools, technical colleges and training colleges, is not likely to be the same area in which one can best organise other social services, and of course a compromise has to be attained. We started off with the Commission making a bad recommendation, in my belief—namely, to break up the L.C.C. area and give the education service to the boroughs. The Government, quite rightly, rejected that, but of course not without some difficulty, because naturally people whose appetite has been whetted were rather sorry that they were not going to get these powers.

I am fairly clear in my own mind that a good deal more work will have to be done over the next ten years or so to find out what are the right sizes for local education authorities. They are not right in many parts of England to-day, and they need to be changed. Gradually, they will be changed. I always hoped that as a result of this Bill and the special education authority for the central London area, we should have, as it were, a research department which would look into this great problem of whether or not, for the sake of example, the training colleges—or for that matter, some of the technical colleges—ought not to be administered over a larger area than the old L.C.C. area. One does not know. These things must be looked into, and I am glad there is going to be a review because I think that when the review comes about noble Lords opposite can be fairly sure that there will be recommendations for some of the services to be added to the central London authority. They will not lose anything, because by that time the educational reasons will make themselves felt.

On the other hand, what the noble Lord, Lord Ilford, was saying about some of the boroughs is also correct. They feel that they have been a little left out. In my humble opinion, the great mistake which the L.C.C. made over the years was in not associating local borough people with the governing boards of schools. This is what upset so many people and made it much harder to get the right educational pattern. I think there might be some give and take at the end of this period, but I foresee that we shall be administering education over larger, rather than smaller, areas as time goes on, because education, I hope, will offer more and more opportunities to every child, and therefore it will be necessary to have a wide range of schools and colleges for the children to choose between, and we shall need wider areas of free trade in pupils.

I have only one other matter to touch upon, and that is to support my noble friend Lord Ilford. I am fairly clear that the teachers will not mind the uncertainty. They often have this kind of thing, but the uncertainty would rest rather hardly on the administrators of the central London authority, although they have won the major part of the battle. As time goes on, I am sure it will be seen that the central authority is necessary. Therefore I am glad that there is going to be a review, and fairly quickly, because I think there will be some considerable change both ways. I rather wish subsection (6) had in it a phrase to the effect that more powers might be added, as well as shed, by the authorities—but never mind about that. When the review comes, I am certain that the political atmosphere in which this controversial Bill is being discussed will have died down and the educational considerations will triumph.


I am sorry I was called out during part of this debate, but I am glad I have returned in time to hear the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, who, as we all know, is a former Minister of Education. There are some things he said with which I agree, some I am not sure of, and some I do not agree with. I think, for example, that the teachers really are worried about the uncertainty, not only about the security of their position but about the uncertainty facing education, and I think that is perfectly genuine. I doubt whether the boroughs were as unsatisfied as all that; the metropolitan boroughs honestly did not ask for education, as the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, will know.

There may be a case for looking into the question of the appointment of school managers and governors of higher educational institutions, but the local authorities are in a real difficulty about it. The metropolitan boroughs, for example, are represented on the managements of primary schools. I forget whether it goes any higher than that in the educational scheme, and I think it is right that that should be so; but, on the other hand, one has to be careful, because if the representative element becomes exclusive, so that the appointments are completely outside the control of the education authority, then the question of quality may be injured.

There is a lot to be said for two points which the noble Lord made. First, he asked whether we ought to be dogmatic about what is the appropriate size for an educational authority. The Government's bias is in favour of the smaller authority. Nevertheless, the L.C.C., over a substantial area, as is admitted all round, has been eminently successful, and indeed that is admitted by establishing the Inner London Education Authority. However, I agree with the noble Lord that there is something to be said for our considering whether we should put down an Amendment at Report stage, or whether the Government should, and, if we cannot get rid of this 1970 uncertainty, to extend the 1970 survey over the whole of the Greater London area. There is, at any rate, a case for consideration—the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, did not go beyond that, and I will not—that the Greater London authority itself might be the local education authority for Greater London. It is worth investigation and consideration.

Coming more directly to the Amendment of my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger, I think it is a sound Amendment. It is bad that the Government, having conceded this Inner London Education Authority, have left it on tenterhooks, and so some time between now and 1970 we shall have a survey, or an inquiry, or investigation, as to whether a change should be made. One is all the more apprehensive and suspicious about it because of the conflicting and wavering answers given to critcism by the Minister of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary.

It is really most objectionable that this kind of thing should be done. The Government ought to have a mind of their own, and, as my noble friend who moved the Amendment said, if the Government are going to be ready to pronounce—I nearly said "pounce"—in 1970, then this inquiry, which will be a pretty big thing, will have to start well before 1970. Therefore there is an element of doubt all the time.

Although I do not wish to dwell on this matter unduly, I want to say, once again, that I am very sorry the Bishops' Benches have been empty all the afternoon. It is regrettable that on this important subject, on which the Church ought to have a voice, the Bishops have not been here. Last week, the Ecclesiastical Measure was before the House—a Measure for which it is quite likely that in the end I would have voted. I had not seen so many Bishops in the House for a long time as there were on that occasion. It is giving a bad impression if they turn up on their own business and fail to turn up when the vital interests of the country are being discussed. So I hope somebody will give them my compliments and respects and say that I could not help "ticking them off a bit" this afternoon.


I should like very briefly to support what my noble friend, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, has just said, not with regard to the Bishops but in the earlier part of his speech, and to a lesser extent what the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, has said. I accept the argument of my noble friend, Lady Wootton of Abinger, concerning the difficulties of uncertainty, but I personally should be prepared to accept the uncertainty on the grounds that these proposals are far from perfect. We on this side of the Committee consider they are considerably less perfect than do noble Lords opposite. It is therefore quite reasonable to say that during the course of the next period, whether it be seven years, ten years or an indeterminate period, it is right and proper that the arrangements should be looked at again even though that may lead to some uncertainty among those most directly concerned.

My great disagreement with these particular subsections, and especially subsection (6), is that the terms of reference of the body that is to look into the workings of this are so severely limited As the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, said it may well be that this particular area that has been defined is too small Surely it would be far better, instead of defining so closely what this investigating body should do, to give them complete freedom to investigate exactly what they think are the improvements which should be carried out when this review takes place. If that were done, if they were given that freedom, I for one would have somewhat more hesitation in supporting my noble friend. But as it is, with these very restricted terms of reference, I can see no argument whatsoever in favour of the retention of these two subsections.

May I remind the Committee of some thing which possibly does not seem to be very closely allied to this subject, the case of the Covent Garden Market where the terms of reference of the new authority, against the advice of many of my noble friends and other noble Lords, were very closely defined and the area in which they could operate was severely limited? It appears now that on wider investigation some wider area outside that in which they are allowed to operate is to be recommended, and that necessitates presumably a new Bill, taking up Parliamentary time, which is just what the noble Lord, Lord Newton said he wished to avoid. I can well see exactly the same thing happening with regard to this particular subsection in this particular Bill because of the close definition that has been insisted upon by the Government. If investigators recommend, as the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, suggested they may recommend, a wider extension, as I see it there will be no authority in this present Bill to enable their recommendations to be worked out. For those reasons I do strongly support the Amendment, and in particular the suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Morrison of Lambeth.


The noble Lord, Lord Newton, pointed out that I was not strictly correct in suggesting that this subsection is completely unique. There is an Amendment coming later on to delete a similar proposal for a review of the youth service, and I am afraid I was regarding the youth service as so closely integrated with the education service that they seemed really in substance one and the same thing. But technically I stand corrected.


That did occur to me afterwards.


Technically the noble Lord is right. I am sure the noble Lord will forgive me if I say that I have seldom heard him so unconvincing. He clearly does not share the view which I quoted from the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, as to the dangerous effects of uncertainty. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, said that what we wished to avoid was putting an element of uncertainty into the affairs of this great city. I was astonished to hear the noble Lord, Lord Newton, say that he was in doubt as to whether it would be possible to hold a review without this provision. I should have thought that that was surely a matter on which the Government should have made up their mind before they brought this Bill to this House.

In any case, surely, his uncertainty is unnecessary, because if the subsection were drafted in a permissive form he would be completely covered. There is nothing in his argument to show that he has to have the subsection to make the review obligatory. If he takes powers under this subsection to make a review possible, then he is completely covered. Even if he did not do that, any review of anything is possible, though of course it might mean legislation rather than procedure simply by order.

The noble Lord, Lord Ilford, doubted whether the children in London's schools were quite as aware of these problems as was suggested. He referred to the small children who may not be aware, although the small children are acutely aware of the policy of different education authorities in the matter of their selection for secondary education. And older children are equally aware of the different provision that different education authorities make for young people who are proposing to go on to a university or to further education. I think children have a view on this and are concerned in this uncertainty quite as much as their elders.

However, the substance of the matter, surely, is that the Government cannot have it both ways. Why is this subsection so terribly important? Why does the review so far ahead have to be obligatory? The noble Lord, Lord Newton, assured us, as the Members of another place were assured more than once, that there was nothing to fear, nothing more would happen. Perhaps it would be desirable to put borough representatives on the boards of governors of secondary schools—surely an alarming and revolutionary change! That is the kind of thing which the noble Lord, Lord Newton, had in mind. If that is so, why is it necessary at this point of time to make an obligatory review for seven years ahead?

On the other hand, other members of the Government speak with rather a different voice. On the Second Reading of the Bill, the Minister of Housing and Local Government said that there was no need to explore fully the possibilities of direct participation by borough councils in the service in the central area. This suggested very much more radical changes. Either radical changes are intended or they are not. When we suggest that the clause is hinting at radical changes, then we are told that nothing is intended and that, in any event, it is impossible to forecast what will happen seven years from now. Yet it is held to be essential to have it.

The noble Lord, Lord Eccles, must surely oppose the inclusion of this provision because the kind of change which the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, wants, and for which indeed there is much to be said, is not, as I read it, possible under this clause. This clause simply contemplates a review which is devoted solely and only to the particular point of whether the boroughs of the inner London area should have a greater share of education, and appears to have nothing whatever to do with the proposal to enlarge the functions of the inner London education authority. I should have thought that, on those grounds alone, it would be impossible for the noble Lord, Lord Eccles, to take any other view than to support the Amendment.

The attitude of the Government seems to be still quite equivocal: smooth words when we suggest that they may perhaps be trying to commit the future to radical changes, and yet an absolute determination to take this enormous steam-hammer of an obligatory review seven years hence, to crack what at other times they suggest to be very small nuts about the composition of the governors of secondary schools. They cannot have it both ways.

Clause 30, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed