HL Deb 04 April 1967 vol 281 cc849-66

2.48 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 Kennet.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Repeal of duty to undertake review of administration of education in Inner London Education Area]:

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?


I beg to move to leave out Clause 2. This is a clause, in effect, to repeal the provision in the London Government Act 1963 that by 1970 there should be a review both of the Inner London Education Authority and of the work of the Youth Employment Service in London. As this is legislation by reference, it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I read out the relevant provision in the 1963 Act. It is in subsection (6) of Section 30, which this clause of the present Bill purports to repeal. Subsection (6) reads: The Minister of Education shall carry out, and not later than 31st March 1970 lay before Parliament a report on, a review of the administration of education in the Inner London Education Area for the purpose of determining whether, and if so to what extent, in what part or parts of that Area, and subject to what, if any. conditions, all or any of the functions of the local education authority relating to education 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 respects an inner London borough the council of that borough … Your Lordships will recollect that the Royal Commission on Local Government in Great London made recommendations for education which were not acceptable to the Ministry of Education of that day—indeed, they were thought to be not successfully workable—and in the end the 1963 Act contained the present proposition: that there should be an Inner London Education Authority being, in fact, a committee of the Greater London Council, which should be in control of all forms of education in what was the old county of London and is now known commonly as Inner London. This was a unique proposition, and it was for that reason that the framers of what became the 1963 Act provided very wisely for a review of its working after a period of some five years.

It is, of course, unlike any other education authority in the country. In every other education authority the members of the council concerned—whether the county council or the county borough council—appoint to the education committee of that council those who have a special interest in education and wish to serve on the education committee. The I.L.E.A., if I may use the shortened form, is the only education committee in the whole country on which membership is compulsory—compulsory, that is to say, for the great majority of its members—because the Authority consists of all those persons who are elected to serve on the Greater London Council for the 12 Inner London boroughs; that is to say, 40 people who are elected, not to be members of the Inner London Education Authority, but to be members of the Greater London Council, and, in addition, one representative from each of the 12 inner London boroughs and the Common Council of the City.

That is the first flaw in the composition of the I.L.E.A.; that you find a number of people compelled to serve on it who have no wish to do so. If any of your Lordships wished to stand for Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, or any of the other Inner London boroughs, as candidates for the Greater London Council, if elected you would find yourselves automatically, and possibly against your will, obliged to serve also on the Inner London Education Authority. Inevitably, one finds a number of those people whose main interest in local government, and whose desire to serve on the Greater London Council, arises not in education but in some other local government service, such as roads, housing, planning, or what you will.

Your Lordships may think that the obvious remedy for such people is to resign from the Inner London Education Authority, but that they cannot do. The I.L.E.A. is the only statutory body in the whole field of democratic local government from which it is literally impossible for the majority of its members to resign. In the whole of the rest of the field of local government, if you do not attend a meeting of a council or of a committee for a period of six months you automatically cease to be a member of that council or committee, unless special leave of absence is given. But you could stay away from the I.L.E.A. for the whole three years and you would still be a member of it. It cannot be an ideal system that people are forced to serve on a body in local government from which they cannot resign, and are forced to serve on an education authority even though education happens to be a minor interest of a particular individual in the local government field.

That is not the only disadvantage. The Inner London Education Authority spends over £100 million a year on current account, but it has no direct financial responsibility to the electors. The whole theory of financial responsibility in local government is founded on the proposition that those who vote for the money have to answer to the electors for their actions every three years or so. But nobody stands for election to the Inner London Education Authority; they stand for election only to the Greater London Council. There are no elections by the public to the I.L.E.A. It was no less an authority on London local government than the late Lord Morrison of Lambeth who, in debates in your Lordships' House on the London Government Bill, called attention to this serious weakness in the structure which was proposed for education. The Greater London Council must accept financial demands of the I.L.E.A., and pass them on to the boroughs by way of precept. So far as I am aware, it is unique in local government that the major spending committee of the Greater London Council cannot have its budget questioned by the Council of which it is technically a committee.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? Who introduced this system which the noble Lord is so heavily criticising?


The Government of which I was a member introduced this system, with a provision that after five years it should be reviewed. The Party to which the noble Lord belongs vigorously opposed the Act which constituted the I.L.E.A., and it is now apparently supporting a proposition to keep the I.L.E.A. in permanent existence.


Yes, but the noble Lord introduced it.


I know. If the noble Lord says that the positions are curiously reversed, I am quite prepared to accept that. But, quite frankly, I was not seeking to make a Party point of this. It is perfectly true that it seems strange that we should be this way round, but we are, and we have to debate the situation in the light of this Bill which the present Government have put before us.

I was going on to say that there will, indeed, be an anomalous situation if one day we find that the Greater London Council and the Inner London Education Authority are under different political control. The economic administration of one body might be thwarted by the extravagant administration of the other. The body which was seeking economic administration would be powerless in any way to check the actions of the other, and this, again, must he unsound according to local government principles.

The reasons, so far as I am aware, for the inclusion of subsection (6) of Section 30 of the 1963 Act were, first, that the I.L.E.A. was a unique body. There was no previous experience of such a body in the whole educational field throughout England or Wales, or, indeed, in the whole local government field, and that alone would be a sufficient reason for providing that its workings should be looked at after a period of years. The second reason, I would say, for the inclusion of the review provision, was that the setting up of the Inner London Education Authority was a departure from the unanimous recommendations of the Royal Commission in two respects. I have already explained how it was a departure from their recommendations as regards the administration of education in London. Not only that; it was a marked departure from the Royal Commission's recommendation that the boroughs should be the main units of local government in Greater London. Here we have the greatest of all local government services—certainly financially, and many would say in public importance also—put right outside borough control.

There is only one other quotation with which I would beg leave to weary your Lordships, and that is a quotation from what has always seemed to me one of the most penetrating paragraphs in the Report of the Royal Commission. It is paragraph 199: The thing that came out most clearly from the evidence of the government departments was that they have in general, with the exception of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, very little concern with the wellbeing and efficiency of the system of local government taken as a whole. They are mainly concerned with ends, to which local authorities are one possible means among others; that is to say, their main function is to ensure that certain national services, which are in part administered by local authorities, are properly performed in accordance with national standards. The Ministries therefore could tell us a great deal about standards and techniques in (for instance) education … But they had reflected little (if at all) on the place of each service in the system of local government … The wisdom of those remarks has been further emphasised, I think, by the fact that the Inner London Education Authority, for the reasons which I am indicating, constitutes a breach of so many of the accepted principles of our whole local government system. It is contrary to good local government principles in two outstanding respects. First of all, it is a committee on which, as I have explained, membership is compulsory and resignation is impossible. Secondly, it is contrary to good local government principles in the absence of normal financial responsibility to the electors.

This makes up an overwhelming case for a stocktaking review at some stage. I am perfectly ready to accept that 1970 may not be the ideal year in which to do this. It may be too early. I for one certainly cannot tell what such a review would recommend. Generally, the opponents of having a review at all speak as if the review would recommend making each Inner London borough the education authority, and they then argue that these authorities would be not large enough or good enough. If the review did reach that final conclusion, it would be fin important finding which Parliament would have to consider. But, frankly, I do not think it would reach that conclusion, and I am strengthened in that view by what is happening in some of the Outer London boroughs—Enfield, for example, which I think is showing itself not properly qualified to be an education authority according to its present policies. I think, however, that the review, while it might well leave the boundaries of the Inner London Education Authority unchanged, would unquestionably seek to remove the weaknesses and anomalies which I have been pinpointing.

The opponents of any review say that the London teachers are against any change in the I.L.E.A., and that the education provided in London is very good. So it ought to be. Think what the roads of this country would be like if there was no external control whatever by the Treasury of the spending on roads, and if the Ministry of Transport could demand and get from the Exchequer all the money it wished! That is the position of the I.L.E.A. as regards education in Inner London, because there is no one—not the Greater London Council, not the boroughs, nor anyone in the whole local government field—who can challenge its budget. The position of the I.L.E.A. as regards education in Inner London is exactly similar to what the position of the Ministry of Transport would be if it could have unlimited money for road improvement.

But although throughout the whole field of local government—indeed I would say national government, too—the crucial test of good administration is how to get the best value out of a limited amount of money, I am not resting my case solely on the curious financial position. I rest it also on the weaknesses in the structure of the Inner London Education Authority which I have described—weaknesses which nobody can deny. I hope we can all agree that we want to work towards the best possible pattern for educational administration in Inner London, the inner part of the capital City. It is because the Government seem to think that the present pattern is ideal, and because I have shown that it is not ideal, that I am moving to omit Clause 2.

3.6 p.m.


I should like briefly to support my noble friend. I was going to say that I took a large part in the discussion on the original Bill, but that is not so, although I was extremely active in South London during its passage. There was tremendous interest, certainly in my part of the world, which (ironically, I think) was stirred up by the schoolteachers themselves. The schoolteachers were tremendously in favour of having the Inner London Education Authority, and in order to engender support for it they stirred up (if I may use that phrase) the parents-teachers associations. The parents then combined with the teachers and discussed this, and quite apart from any political reasons they themselves became very strongly in favour of the Inner London Authority, the large blanket authority.

In supporting my noble friend, I should like to say most clearly that from my own experience I think it would be disastrous if the administration of education was returned to the boroughs. I am tremendously in favour of the Inner London Authority. One may say that the schools in the boroughs, geographically speaking, have completely lost contact with the boroughs they knew; and this, I think, came out very strongly in the debate on this subject in the House of Commons. Indeed, geographically the boroughs themselves have hardly any identity to the visitor who drives through the Inner London boroughs. But because I am in favour of maintaining the Inner London Authority that does not mean that I am not in favour of having a review of the educational position in 1970. I think this review is essential. My noble friend used the words, "the crucial test". If the Government have nothing to conceal, if they are not afraid of anything, I cannot see why on earth they should mind having a review of the position. It springs to my mind that if the Government wish to cancel the review they have something they want to hide, something from which to run away; otherwise there would be no reason for cancelling it.

I feel most strongly that as regards education we want something in the nature of a Royal Commission to look at London from a purely educational point of view. I feel most strongly that the administration of education in London and elsewhere is not being dealt with from a purely educational point of view. I refer specifically, of course, to the compulsory introduction of comprehensive education, not only throughout London, but in the country as a whole. This is most bitterly regretted by the parents in many parts of England, and particularly in London. We discussed this on the London Government Bill, which postponed the elections in London. I cannot help feeling that the reason for the abolition of this review, although it will not affect the London elections, is because the Government are determined to push through the comprehensive system purely from a social point of view, or largely from a social point of view, and are prepared to disregard the educational point of view.

There is a great deal which needs to be looked at within the field of education in London. My noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor mentioned a great many of the points. There is the financial position, which, after all, is of great interest to the ratepayers of London. They are entitled to know how their money is being spent, and whether it is being spent in the best way. Personally, I think the most important issue from the parents' point of view is the question of parental choice. And, let us face it, the parents in London are getting less and less chance of exercising their parental choice as to the sort of school to which their children will go. Anybody who has been a Member of Parliament in London will be able to support me on this point. The number of occasions when disappointed and disgruntled parents come to see their Member of Parliament because their child is being hustled into some particular school or the other by a local authority without consultation with the parents is really quite frightening.

But there is no more that needs to be said. My noble friend has put the case extremely well and clearly. I cannot help feeling that the revoking of the review by the Government is allied to the cancellation of the London Government elections. Admittedly, the timing is different; but it seems to me that the Government do not wish an impartial authority to have a really clear look at the education in London until they have completed their own plans to far beyond the point of no return. It is for that reason that I support my noble friend.

3.12 p.m.


I will not weary the Committee to-day with the long arguments which have ranged over the years on this subject of the reorganisation of London Government, and particularly in relation to the structure of education in Inner London. Perhaps, before I speak, I should declare an interest, in that for the last three years I have been Vice-Chairman of the Education Committee of the Inner London Authority. I intervene to-day only because I feel I must correct some of the false impressions that have been given to the Committee through some of the statements that have been made by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, and by the noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, on a subject in which I have been personally involved as a member of that Authority. I was very sorry to hear the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, describe the activities and the powers of the authority in the way he did, confining his remarks in the main to organisation and structure, referring very little, if at all, to the subject of education which I regard, as do those of my noble friends sitting on this side of the House, as the most important issue before us to-day. For it is not the statutory structure of the Authority but the service it provides for London children and London parents that really matters.

No-one, I believe, in all the debates over the years on this subject, has ever challenged the quality of the education service given to London children. Nor, I would maintain, is this service such a good service for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor. He implied in his remarks that the service was good merely because the Inner London Education Authority could spend the ratepayers' money like water and therefore provide the best. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, knows as well as I that every single sum of money and every item of expenditure is presented, fortnight by fortnight, to the public meetings of the Education Committee by its specially constituted Finance Sub-Committee and it is open to every member of the public both to listen to the debate and to read the details in the published agenda of the Education Committee.

With regard to the point about compulsory membership, all the members of the Inner London Education Authority are elected members of other public bodies as well. All of them are either elected members of the Greater London Council or, alternatively, elected members of the Inner London boroughs who nominate one each of their members to serve on the Inner London Education Authority. They therefore, as individuals, all have responsibilities other than education, either in their role as elected members of the Greater London Council or as elected members of the Inner London boroughs or the Common Council of the City which sends one representative to the Inner London Education Authority.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, implied that the purpose behind Clause 2 of the London Government (Termination of Review) Bill was to allow comprehensive education to develop further in London and to stop public criticism of this policy. But those who are familiar with the London Education Service know that comprehensive schools were being developed in London long before I.L.E.A. was dreamt of by the then Government in 1963. The evidence of this is that we have to-day in London some seventy-eight comprehensive schools already in operation and over 53 per cent. of London school children are going to them. These figures alone indicate that the development of comprehensive education is no new experiment in London and is connected in no way with the establishment of the I.L.E.A. or with the clause of the Bill before the Committee this afternoon.


May I interrupt the noble Lady? I entirely agree with what she says. It is quite true that comprehensive schools have been developing for a long time. Certainly on this side of the House we are not against comprehensive schools. But the Labour Government now introduce a completely new element; that is, they are developing the comprehensive schools at the expense of the grammar schools. This is what we object to.


I am not sufficiently familiar with the procedures of the Committee to know whether it is in order for me to answer that point.



The real issue is not that of the parents' choice of school as such. Parents can choose grammar schools until they are blue in the face; but it is the school that really chooses the child. Those of us who are concerned with the development of a wide range of secondary education for all children, giving opportunity at all levels and all ages, believe that this can be done only through comprehensive schools and not through selection at 11-plus (which is now known to be inaccurate) and separatism in secondary education.

My prime reason to-day for supporting Clause 2 of the Bill and for urging the Committee to reject the Amendment put down by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, is that for the last seven or even, perhaps, ten years we have had uncertainty hanging over the future of London education. This clause in the Bill will, at last, remove that uncertainty at a time when London, like all education authorities, is under tremendous pressure: the implementation of the Plowden Report, the development of secondary education and the need to expand teacher training to meet the coming population explosion in the primary schools, together with the need to exert all our efforts to make provision for those children who will be staying till 16 with the raising of the school-leaving age in 1970, are the educational reasons, rather than the organisational reasons, for which I hope the Committee will reject the Amendment, agree to the clause submitted by the Government and thus allow the I.L.E.A. to continue its great work with a certain future.

3.18 p.m.


I am very glad that my noble friend Lady Serota has gone into the educational arguments; it relieves me of the necessity to do so. All I have to say is that I entirely endorse everything that she has said—as I think do all noble Lords on this side of the House. The noble Lady declared an interest in the manufacturing end of the product called London education. Perhaps I should also declare an interest in the consuming end of the product, in that I have had five children educated by the Inner London Education Authority, three of them in comprehensive schools.

The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, correctly said that the I.L.E.A. itself was the fruit of the rejection by the Conservative Minister of Education in 1963 of the advice of the Royal Commission on the organisation of education in London. It seems to me that that rejection was the only correct attitude to take at that time. It was correct then because it was right to do it by an Inner London Education Authority and it would have been wrong to do it any other way. In my view, that is still the situation. The noble Lord made much of the point that I.L.E.A. is the only education authority in the country from which you cannot resign. I do not want to go too much into this subject, because the resemblances and differences between I.L.E.A. and other education authorities are extremely complicated, but I think he did not put it quite correctly. You cannot resign, if I am right in so thinking, from any education authority at all in the country. The education authority is the local council. If a man is elected a councillor, then he is a member of the education authority. He may or may not be a member of the education committee of the council which is the education authority; and, if he is, he may of course resign from that committee without ceasing to be a member of the education authority. I do not want to elaborate the point unnecessarily, but it is important to remember that education committees are not themselves education authorities and that their recommendations may be overruled by the parent body, the council, which is itself the education authority.

The noble Lord touched on the question of control of spending and my noble friend Lady Serota had strong words to say about that. One may say this or that about control, but no one can claim that there was anything hidden about the spending of I.L.E.A. Perhaps I might enlarge on this point for a moment. It is true that I.L.E.A. decides the amount of money to be raised by precept by the rating authorities in the areas, and how that money is to be "dished out" for education purposes; but the actual making of the precept is done by the G.L.C.

One more point about precepts: I.L.E.A. is composed, in part, of direct representatives of the London boroughs—that is to say, the rating authorities, and I think we all know that if I.L.E.A. proposed a precept which was impossible, or very unwelcome to the rating authorities, it would soon hear from the representatives of those rating authorities which sit on I.L.E.A. That explains how part of the education expenditure in Central London is met. Another part is met by means of loans raised by the education authority, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, will not have forgotten how, when he was Minister of Housing and Local Government, it was his duty to sanction such loans; although, of course, in sanctioning or not sanctioning them, he would have paid great attention to the opinion of his colleague the Minister of Education and Science of those days. The ordinary controls of local authority expenditure exist in this field just as in any other. There is nothing special about I.L.E.A., and I think that the analogy of a Ministry of Transport, with no Treasury or Parliamentary control, is a completely false one.

The noble Lord, Lord St. Helens, struck what I found to be contradictory notes. He said that he was tremendously in favour of I.L.E.A., but that he would still like it to be reviewed. He asked why, if the Government had nothing to conceal, they should fear a review. I would say to him, if he is tremendously in favour of I.L.E.A., why bother to go to all the expense and uncertainty of having this review? In fact, from what he said a little later in his speech, it appeared that the noble Lord did have something against I.L.E.A.; that was, its pursuit of a comprehensive policy in Inner London education. I would point out to the noble Lord that if we had a review, and if it recommended a change in who should be in charge of education in Inner London, that would not of itself have any effect whatever on the comprehensive question. The successor education authorities would be just as free as I.L.E.A. is to have comprehensive education or not to have it. Omitting this clause, and having the review will not do anything about the compulsory nature of service on I.L.E.A. It will not do anything, I think, about most of the objections, or doubts, or cavils, which have been raised in this debate to the I.L.E.A. concept.

The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, himself read out the sections of the Act which we now seek to amend and which describe what the purposes of this review should be. I think it would be fair, to put them in lay language, to say that the review should be directed to seeing whether education in Inner London ought to be run by some other authority or authorities and not by I.L.E.A. Therefore, in so far as we are criticising the function or details in the nature of I.L.E.A., we should do wrong to insist on having this review. We should do right to insist on having it only if we were criticising the very existence of I.L.E.A., and it is noticeable—and, I think, comprehensible—that from neither side of the Committee has such a criticism been made. The Inner London Education Authority is, and we all know it, the wonder and admiration of the educational world. It is so because the L.C.C. education system was so before 1963. This is why the Party sitting opposite did not break it up with their London Government Act of that year, and why the present Government mean to maintain it. I ask the Committee to reject this proposal to leave out Clause 2 and to allow this education authority, which is one of unexampled merit and efficacy, to get on with its job, without this Sword of Damocles, however small, hanging over its head.

3.26 p.m.


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, to be good enough to elaborate upon something which he said? He said something to the effect that, whatever sort of authority might be responsible for administering education in Inner London, that authority would be just as free as the present one to continue, or not to continue, with a policy of developing comprehensive education. How does the noble Lord justify that assertion, in view of the circular sent out last year by the Secretary of State for Education and Science (I think it was Circular 10/65 or 10/66) which required all education authorities to submit, within a specified time, their plans for turning all secondary schools into comprehensive schools; and also with the very much more recent threat which the Minister issued, to the effect that education authorities must not expect money to be forthcoming, or permission to be forthcoming, for building new secondary schools unless they were to be of a comprehensive character?


As I understand it, the policy of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science towards the comprehensive question would be the same whether education in a given area was in the hands of one authority or of many.


In other words, there will be no freedom at all for any authority responsible for administering education in Inner London?


The House will not expect me to go along with the noble Lord's interpretation of that circular.


May I ask one question of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet? At the time when I.L.E.A. was preserved, there was great argument about whether the education authority should be broken up into the boroughs or whether we should retain the London County Council area. I was very much for I.L.E.A. at the time. There was then the question of reviews, and there were some people who wanted reviews in order to have another chance of breaking up the central London authority. I was very much against that, but I pointed out at the time that it might well be that one would wish to have a review in order to enlarge the area of I.L.E.A., because I think that the education of the Greater London area is very much all of a piece, and I was rather sorry that we had left it flexibly open in the Bill. Of course my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor knew much more about it than I did, and therefore it went through in that form. Are the Government quite sure they do not want to have a chance to enlarge I.L.E.A.?


I think the trouble about that is that the review in question was to be carried out only in the Inner London Area and not in the Greater London area. I might have some sympathy with the wish of the noble Viscount to extend I.L.E.A. to cover Greater London but it could not be done by this review.


I do not seek to prolong this debate. First, may I say how happy I am to see the noble Baroness, Lady Scrota, able now to take a controversial part in our debates. I think that her speech today, following her maiden speech, will make everyone realise what a powerful as well as a valuable contributor she will be. I am sorry, that I have to cross swords with her. She criticised me for referring to administration and not to education. I thought that she was falling into the error, which was pointed out by the Royal Commission, in paragraph 199 of their Report which I have quoted, of believing that we can treat each of these social services in the local government field as a thing by itself. We must consider local government as a whole and try to fit the administration of each of these services into the pattern of local government structure. I think that when the noble Baroness comes to read her speech she will find that she has propounded a curious theory of financial responsibility. I always understood that financial responsibility meant that those who voted the money were answerable to the electors at the next election, whereas she has laid down the principle that there would be sufficient responsibility provided a meeting were held in public to which any of the 2½ million electors interested might care to come to hear what was said. Certainly I was not seeking to convict the I.L.E.A. of financial maladministration or anything of that kind. I was simply making a point about financial responsibility.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said that the London boroughs could appoint their representatives to the I.L.E.A. and that they would make a fuss it they were dissatisfied with the way the money was spent or with the amount of it. But I would remind him that the representatives of the London boroughs are in a small minority; that the majority consists of G.L.C. elected members for Inner London boroughs, and that more than 50 per cent. of the revenue of I.L.E.A. through the rates is provided by London boroughs which are under the control of the Party that is in the minority on I.L.E.A.


I wonder whether, before passing from this point, I could say something about accountability to the electorate for expenditure. Members of I.L.E.A. are G.L.C. councillors who are elected from one part of the area, the Inner London area. Inner London electors know perfectly well that they are electing a member who will also be on the Education Authority, and if they do not like the way he spends the educational precept they can "chuck" him out at the next election for that reason, as for any other.


The noble Lord fails to appreciate that the candidates for the G.L.C. from the Inner London boroughs are standing for election to the G.L.C. on G.L.C. policy and not standing for election to I.L.E.A.


Is it not true to say that any councillor standing for election is standing for election to a local government body in all its aspects, education as well as any other?


Exactly, as I think the noble Lord him-self pointed out. In the normal case, the council is the education authority, the controlling authority, but in this case, despite what he said about the G.L.C. being the precepting body, the G.L.C. have no power whatever to challenge the expenditure of I.L.E.A. They have to accept it and add it to the precept they make on the boroughs.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said I had had responsibility for sanctioning L.C.C. loans for educational purposes, and my noble friend Lord Eccles I think implied that I was responsible for the 1963 Act. He alleged—wrongly—that I knew more about it than he did. As a matter of fact, I was not the Minister responsible for introducing that Bill, though I was the Minister responsible for recommending the setting up of the Royal Commission. As regards the L.C.C. loans for education, before the days of the G.L.C. they were not sanctioned by any Minister. The L.C.C. received their sanction for capital expenditure direct from Parliament.

Having said that, I would not invite my noble friends to take their opposition to this clause to a Division. As I said in my original speech, it may well be that this stocktaking of I.L.E.A., which must happen some day, should not be held in 1970 but at some other date, when there has been longer experience. I think that five years is rather a short period. It may be that the actual words in subsection (6) could be improved upon and that there should be a committee with no statutory terms of reference to undertake the stocktaking (I prefer that word to "review") when that time comes. I would recommend my noble friends not to divide on this matter and indeed, so as to close the matter and enable us to go on to other business, I will seek leave to withdraw my Motion.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Remaining clause and Schedule agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment; Report received.

Forward to