HL Deb 23 April 1964 vol 257 cc878-82

4.33 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD STRANG in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Provisions relating to England and Wales

New county schools with special age-limits

1.—(1) Where a local education authority intend to establish a new county school, and submit proposals for that purpose to the Secretary of State under section 13 of the Education Act 1944, the proposals may, if the local education authority think fit,—

THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR EDUCATION AND SCIENCE (LORD NEWTON) moved in subsection (1), to leave out "and" where that word first occurs and to insert: or persons other than a local education authority propose that a new school proposed to be established by them, or by persons whom they represent, should be maintained by a local education authority as a voluntary school, and the authority or persons in question".

The noble Lord said: It may be convenient to the Committee if I discuss the first three Amendments together as they are all related. They have a common purpose, which is to honour the undertaking I gave on Second Reading to extend the scope of Clause 1 to cover proposals to establish new voluntary schools submitted by promoters from voluntary bodies, as well as those from local education authorities to establish new county schools. I made it clear on Second Reading that I was recommending the extension in response to requests from the denominations and that, for example, in certain circumstances which I explained, it might be necessary to depart from the normal practice and pay less grant than the maximum permitted by law to the promoters of new voluntary schools. Other comparable cases might arise. There is no need for the Bill to spell out in detail the grant consequences in every possible combination of circumstances under which promoters might submit proposals.

A new voluntary school established under the Bill amended in the manner I am proposing will be eligible for grant if, but only if, the particular circumstances bring it within existing legislation. No new principle is being introduced and these Amendments are consistent with the settlement of 1944. I am grateful for the reception which my undertaking had on Second Reading from your Lordships, and I am encouraged to hope that these Amendments will be generally acceptable.

The third Amendment is largely formal. The Bill as it stands unamended covers only county schools, the cost of which would, of course, be met by local education authorities. On bringing in voluntary schools it is necessary to allow for the possibility, where the circumstances are appropriate, of the promoters of such schools becoming eligible to apply for grants and loans towards the capital cost under existing legislation. This is what the third Amendment does. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 1, line 7, leave out ("and") and insert the said words.—(Lord Newton.)


I understand that the Amendments give effect to an undertaking given by the Minister on Second Reading, and otherwise they are consequential on the implementation of that undertaking. In those circumstances, I should like to express appreciation of the action of the Minister and say that we support the Amendment.


I am much obliged to the noble Lord.


May I also add a word of appreciation, on behalf of the Church of England—and I think I can speak for the Catholic authorities here—that the Government have been prepared to accept, and themselves to propose, this Amendment? We all recognise, widely and without discussion, that this is a relatively small beginning, but it is touching upon a most important educational point. In the present fluid position, it is most desirable that we should establish some flexibility so that we do not too rigidly confine education between certain years without discrimination in the terms of ability of particular pupils. Within that framework, with which we all agree, we have felt it is most important that the voluntary bodies should be able to take such a share as will be available to them. This is, of course, as the Minister has said, for only a limited number of examples; and I am sure we all recognise they should be so limited, since we do not want to anticipate further developments in education too far at this stage.

However limited they are, we value the opportunity of sharing in them, if we are so able to do, because we believe that this is an important and valuable step. It might be, for instance, that the voluntary bodies would wish to put forward some scheme of their own; it might be that some proposal brought forward by a local authority would be likely to embrace some of the schools held under voluntary ownership or affected by its own proximity. We cannot see how it would happen; but I am sure it is quite right that this question should not be settled and the door closed at this point by the exclusion of this particular Amendment.

I would thereby add that our concern in this (and I am sure the Committee will bear with me here) is not only because we have a very big stake and belief in the specific religious education which voluntary schools can apply, and for which they are putting down so much money, but also because we believe it to be very desirable that there should be no wedge driven in the whole scheme of national education between the local authority or statutory schools and the voluntary schools. We are all in the national scheme together, and it is most important that the principle of inclusion should be retained. I support the Amendment with great gratitude to the noble Lord, Lord Newton, for being so ready to propose it himself.


I would just express my gratitude also to the right reverend Prelate for making it so clear that the Church of England approves of extending the scope of this Bill in the way I am now proposing.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move the second Amendment on the Marshalled List.

Amendment moved—

Page 1, line 9, leave out ("local education authority") and insert ("authority or persons submitting the proposals").—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Financial Provisions]:


I beg to move the third Amendment on the Marshalled List.

Amendment moved—

Page 3, line 8, at end insert— ("(c) any increase attributable to this Act in the sums payable out of moneys so provided under section 107 of the Education Act 1944 or under section 1(2) of the Education Act 1959").—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.


I beg to move the last Amendment on the Marshalled List. This Amendment is consequential on the three which your Lordships have already approved.

Amendment moved— In the Title, line 1, leave out ("local education authorities to establish schools") and insert ("county schools and voluntary schools to be established").—(Lord Newton.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed.