§ 3.58 p.m.
§ LORD SNOW
My Lords, I think this might be a convenient moment for me to make a Statement. In fact, I thought of interrupting myself fifteen minutes ago and setting up some sort of a modest record; but sterner counsels prevailed. This Statement is similar to that which has just been made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Educacation and Science on the Inner London Education Authority. It is as follows:
"The London Government Act transferred to this Authority responsibility for education and the Youth Employment Service in the Inner London area on a provisional basis. The Act imposed upon my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Education and Science, an obligation to carry out a review of the arrangements relating to education and to lay a report before Parliament not later than 31st March, 1970. A corresponding obligation in relation to the Youth Employment Service was imposed on my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour.
"The Government have been examining these arrangements. The Education Service and the Youth Employment Service of the I.L.E.A. are soundly organised and efficiently administered. The Government are convinced that any disruption or fragmentation of these services would be bound to lead to a lowering of standards. It appears essential, in the interests of sound local government, to preserve the long-established unified service of educational administration in the London area, and hence to confirm the position of the I.L.E.A.
"The Government have therefore decided to introduce legislation giving permanent effect to those provisions of the London Government Act 1963 which transfer to the I.L.E.A. the responsibility for Education and the Youth Employment Service in London. The legislation will repeal those provisions of the Act which require my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour to carry out a review of the 706 arrangements made by the Act and to report on them to Parliament. The Government wish to make their intention clear now, in advance of legislation, because there is evidence of a growing feeling of insecurity among teachers and other staff employed by the Authority. Any review would take a long time to complete, and would inevitably have an unsettling effect. This uncertainty about the future must be removed, and the Authority itself must be given confidence to embark on long-term plans without the threat of further upheaval."
THE EARL OF BESSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am again most grateful to the noble Lord for having made this Statement. I think that the measures that are proposed make good administrative sense; but I hope that, none the less, the wishes and interests of those in the boroughs will always be taken into account and that we shall keep some form of consultation with the parents. I think that is good. All in all, I think it makes sense. I hope the Minister is aware that many people, who agree that the balance of advantages lies with the need for a local education authority within the London area, would none the less not wish to rule out the possibility of the London boroughs participating directly in the Inner London Education Service—for example, over the appointment of school managers. We welcome this Statement. The only other question I should like to ask is whether it is proposed to introduce relevant legislation in another place or in this House during this Session?
My Lords, we on the Liberal Benches welcome this Statement. I do not know whether the noble Lord opposite is aware, as I rather think is the case, that my honourable friends in another place moved Amendments along these lines last year, and that the Amendments were resisted both by the Conservative Party and by the Labour Party. Nevertheless, we welcome the introduction now of the proposal.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the noble Lord who has just spoken appears to be at least a year wrong in his observations?