HL Deb 02 April 1968 vol 290 cc1196-218

3.27 p.m.

LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what action is being taken in respect of those members of the staff of the former Court Lees School who are not being reemployed at the new approved school there, and have not yet obtained any other employment. The noble Lord said: In asking this Question it is certainly not my intention to traverse again the whole unhappy story of Court Lees Approved School. I shall seek to say nothing that will raise the temperature of debate, and I certainly do not intend to fight last year's battles over again. The subject was debated at length in your Lordships' House on October 25 last, and in another place on November 16. The former Court Lees School was closed in August, 1967, and the boys were either sent home or dispersed to other approved schools. It is now being reopened under the Surrey County Council with a new name. I am perfectly sure that all your Lordships will wish success to the new school as keenly as I do.

I personally believe that the former Home Secretary created a very difficult situation for himself by setting up an inquiry not, as in the case of Carlton Approved School, into the quality of Court Lees School as a whole and the good or harm it was doing on balance to the boys—and the boys are the most important people in this matter; I must emphasise that fact—but into the much narrower question of irregular punishments at the school. On these irregular punishments I do not question the findings in paragraph 78 of the report of the inquiry. I can see how the former Home Secretary was led by those findings to take the action he did and to close the school. But I think that by setting up the original inquiry on such narrow lines, and then by closing the school instead of using any other of his powers, he undid a great deal of the good work which the school had been doing, and he certainly interrupted the training of 120 boys, and dismayed most of the staff. Most of the staff were in no way blameworthy for the irregular punishment or anything else that went wrong, and most of them, according to my information, still think a wrong has been done to the school and the former headmaster and deputy headmaster who were responsible for the irregular punishments.

What the inquiry found against these men—and I will summarise it—was that in some respects the headmaster did not conform with Rule 34 (iv) of the Approved School Rules; that he failed to detect that the canes which he inherited from his predecessor when he took over the headmastership in January, 1967, did not conform to Home Office requirements; that in certain cases, four of which the inquiry found proved, the headmaster administered six strokes of the cane with excessive severity; that Mr. Draycon, the deputy headmaster, on at least one occasion caned a boy who was wearing pyjama trousers and not his ordinary cloth trousers as the Approved Schools Rules require; and that on many occasions the headmaster and the deputy headmaster failed to record punishments in the punishment book, as they were required to do.

Some of your Lordships may have personally experienced at school, in days gone by, punishments as severe as those recorded in that report, or more severe—and I hear, "Hear, hear!" from the Liberal Benches. But I would say to noble Lords who seek to make a direct comparison between their schools and an approved school that it must be remembered that the parents of those of your Lordships who may have suffered pain in these ways chose voluntarily to send your Lordships to schools where corporal punishment was in use and was known to be in use; whereas a boy is sent to an approved school not only against his will but almost always against the will of his parents; and that is why a special duty devolves on the Home Office, and I would say on Parliament, to see that the punishment rules are kept.

When the report was published in August, 1967, Court Lees School was immediately closed and the whole staff were given six months' leave of absence with pay. I understand that as regards those members of the staff who have not yet found new employment this paid leave has since been extended to the end of April. I tabled this Question in the interest of those members of the staff who had not yet found re-employment. The great majority, your Lordships will be glad to know, were re-employed by the Surrey County Council at the new school, which I think is being called Hays Bridge. To the best of my information, seven members of the old staff were not taken on by the Surrey County Council, but four of those seven have by now found other employment. The three who have not are Mr. Cook, who was the writer of the original anonymous letter to the Guardian, Mr. Haydon, the headmaster, and Mr. Draycon the deputy headmaster. The former Home Secretary said in another place on November 16 that he would not approve of Mr. Haydon or Mr. Draycon being appointed to the new school or indeed being appointed as headmaster to any other approved school.

The particular reason why I tabled this Question some three weeks ago, on March 14 I think it was, was because I understood that Mr. Haydon and Mr. Drayton, the headmaster and deputy headmaster, had been granted long and full interviews with a Deputy Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office round about January 22 concerning their future. It seemed to me, and indeed it still seems to me, that the Home Office were blameworthy in letting so long a time pass after that, while the remainder of their paid leave was fast running out, without letting them know the outcome of the representations which they were given the opportunity to make to a senior official of the Home Office in January. But since I tabled the Question things have happened. Whether the imminence of this Question coming up for debate had anything to do with that I cannot tell.

Six days ago, however, the headmaster and the deputy headmaster were, I understand, granted personal interviews with the present Home Secretary. I want to give the Home Secretary every credit for agreeing to see these two men personally. Three days later, that is on Saturday last, official letters were sent to each of them on his behalf giving his conclusions, and a Press statement, I understand, was issued by the Home Office yesterday afternoon. I understand that these letters are in no way confidential now, and therefore I will quote one or two sentences, which I think indeed have already appeared in this morning's papers. In writing to Mr. Draycon, the deputy headmaster, the letter says: After most carefully considering all the circumstances, the Secretary of State has reached the conclusion that he would not at present be prepared to approve your appointment as headmaster of any approved school, but that he would feel able to consider the position afresh, if he were asked to do so, at any time after the end of the present year.

In the letter written on the same day to Mr. Haydon, the former headmaster, it is stated thus: The Secretary of State fully accepts that the excessive punishments which Mr. Gibbens found that you inflicted on boys at Court Lees School were not inspired by morbid or cruel motives. He notes, however, that you find it impossible, after reflection in the light of all that has happened since, to recognise that there were serious errors of judgment in your handling of an admittedly difficult situation. After most carefully considering all the circumstances, the Secretary of State has reached the conclusion that he would not at present be prepared to approve your appointment as headmaster of any approved school.

I think it is common ground that the criticism in the Gibbens Report of the headmaster was more serious than that of the deputy headmaster. It was the headmaster who was carrying the major responsibility for the school. He was, therefore, fully responsible for what went on under him. There were only one or two cases of excessive punishment inflicted by Mr. Draycon found proved, though there were four cases found proved in the case of Mr. Haydon. I think, therefore, it is understandable that the Home Secretary has shown a greater concession in point of time to the one than to the other, though I am inclined to wish that he might have gone further in both cases.

What I do attach importance to is the statement in the Home Office letter to the headmaster, Mr. Haydon, that the Secretary of State fully accepts that the excessive punishments which Mr. Gibbens found that you inflicted were not inspired by morbid or cruel motives. Something which has been worrying me about this case—and let me say that I did not take any part in the previous debate in October, though I have read it all and the whole of the debate in another place—is that both the former Home Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, used the word "brutality" in relation to Mr. Haydon's conduct. That is their word. It is not in the Gibbens Report; it is not implied by the Gibbens Report. What Mr. Gibbens said about Mr. Haydon was that, despite the conclusions of his Inquiry, he believed Mr. Haydon to be basically a kindly man. He was described by Mr. Gibbens as "an honest and candid witness."

I have never myself met Mr. Haydon nor Mr. Draycon, nor Mr. Cook, but from all I can gather I take Mr. Haydon to be a capable and sincere headmaster who relied overmuch on corporal punishment that really hurt for maintaining discipline. I understand that he had been fully backed by the Home Office for appointment as headmaster of Court Lees when that headmastership fell vacant at the end of 1966. So presumably up to then he had earned a good reputation in the approved school world. Now, at the age of 46, he has been grievously punished and his career has been undermined, if not wrecked, by the decision of the former Home Secretary to close the school. I think it is common ground that he is not guilty at law of any offence, because no criminal charges have been brought against him; even after the debates that took place it was apparently decided that no criminal charge should be brought. So he has had none of that opportunity which is normally open to someone accused of a criminal charge to defend himself against the charge.

In passing, I should say that I understand that the Secretary of State for Education and Science would now raise no objection to either Mr. Haydon or Mr. Draycon being employed in teaching in schools that are under his control. The issue is solely now that of a matter of Home Office policy. The present position, which really led me to put down this Question, is that now we have Mr. Haydon without employment and only four weeks still to run to the end of his paid leave of absence; Mr. Draycon, the deputy headmaster, in a similar position, and Mr. Cook, the informant, in a similar position. I want to ask whether the Home Office, in all those three cases, feels any responsibility for helping them to pick up the thread of their careers again.

I understand that the final breaking point with the managers, when they were interviewed by the former Home Secretary, was that the Home Secretary told them that they must retain Mr. Cook in their employment, and they refused. The fact is that a good many months have passed since then and Mr. Cook has not been able so far to get anyone else to employ him, either in the approved school world or elsewhere. In the circumstances, I have some sympathy with the managers in refusing, for the good of the school, to re-employ Mr. Cook, though I certainly think that the managers were seriously at fault in not supervising sufficiently closely what went on in the school for which they were responsible.

I am not going to criticise the present Home Secretary for what he said in these letters written with his authority on Saturday last, and, as I have indicated, I give him much credit for personally interviewing Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon. I think he inherited a most unsatisfactory situation bequeathed to him by his predecessor, all or almost all stemming from the fact that a wide-ranging inquiry into the school was not ordered at the outset, because that would have assessed everything and everybody connected with the school at their proper values. I do criticise the long delay at the Home Office, through February and March of this year, when important time appears to have been wasted, and when Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon, knowing that their paid leave was running out, must have been waiting in great anxiety to hear what the Home Secretary had decided.

My Lords, I end by asking that in the interests of justice the Home Office shall now be prepared to help these men concerned to find new employment suitable to their talents; and I trust that Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon will do so well in them that, before long, the ban on their applications for headmasterships will be lifted.

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, I was in the United Nations when the debates on Court Lees took place, and I have been fascinated to read the debates both in this House and in another place arising out of the Gibbens Report, which gave both sides of the argument on this matter. The then Home Secretary, Mr. Roy Jenkins, was subjected to a good deal of criticism. But after reading his speech in the Commons, which gave the background and the history of the managers since 1961, what still remains clear is that none of the three men directly involved in the Report is suitable for posts at any approved school. That does not mean to say that they are not suitable for posts in an ordinary school if they are good teachers.

Mr. Cook, the schoolmaster who made the disclosures at Court Lees, is a casualty of his own conduct and the methods he employed. After all, we know that some people would commit murder in order to get their names in the newspapers. Although both Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon were given grave warnings, they were not declared unsuitable for employment as teachers. As I say, if they are good teachers they will have no difficulty in finding employment, because there is a great shortage of teachers. But their fitness as teachers is one aspect of the whole business, and their suitability for approved school work is quite another thing. The Home Secretary had to decide once again, after the Inquiry, whether Mr. Haydon was a suitable head to continue in a reconstituted Court Lees school, or on his fitness to be head of any other approved school. If Mr. Jenkins, the then Home Secretary, was criticised for being hasty and unfair, he would have been far more severely criticised if he had acted with great irresponsibility and had allowed things to continue as before the Gibbens Inquiry.

Perhaps the most strange speech on Court Lees came from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, whom I am very glad to see here to-day. In essence the right reverend Prelate queried the results of the evidence of the Gibbens Inquiry in an argument which amounted to a refutation of the Report. All the guns of the right reverend Prelate were trained on Mr. Cook, and there was not one word of condemnation for Mr. Haydon or Mr. Draycon. I will quote one small passage from the speech of the right reverend Prelate. He said: …I do not think that any man in his right mind would let Mr. Cook loose in a community of boys."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25/10/67; col. 1689.] I agree with the right reverend Prelate; I myself would be reluctant to let him loose in a community of boys. But I should like to ask the right reverend Prelate this question. How about Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon? Would he, after everything that has happened, let them loose in a community of boys? These two men could not see beyond the end of a cane—and an unauthorised one at that. Their one idea of discipline was a beating. I know that we in this country are very tolerant—some might say indulgent—of corporal punishment, and the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, was very tolerant of the whole idea of corporal punishment. Perhaps because it is the regular thing at public schools people regard corporal punishment as part and parcel of the aristocratic way of life. When one notes the triviality of the offences at Court Lees, surely it must make us all uneasy and wonder what exactly it is that passes for discipline. For boys of 14 and 15 corporal punishment is humiliating, both physically and morally. The history of Court Lees since 1961 does not reflect any credit on the management, on the staff, or, I may say, on the Home Office Inspectors. They have done a fairly superficial job in past years. Once the true state of affairs had come to light, a surgical operation was absolutely essential if the Home Office was not to neglect its duties.

In these debates there has been much talk of justice. But I wish to ask: justice for whom? For the headmaster and the deputy alone? What about justice for the boys? Much has been said about morale. It has been said that the morale among managers and staff in approved schools would be much affected by this matter. But among the managers and staffs of good, well-run approved schools their morale surely would be increased. Among the managers and staffs of bad schools, of course, their morale would be decreased; and that is just as it should be. It would have been both irresponsible and unjust to ignore the findings of the Gibbens Inquiry—and most people have said that it was a very fair Inquiry—and to let off the head and the deputy with only a reprimand. The Home Office is not only responsible for running the school, it also finances it.

However mixed up were the methods used by Mr. Cook to expose the scandal at Court Lees, it has done one very good thing. It has alerted us to the terrible shortcomings in the running of approved schools. I have always thought that teachers in approved schools need a "crash" course of psycho-analysis to give them an insight into what prompts the boys in their behaviour. It has been said that Mr. Haydon was a kindly man, in spite of the fact that he was such a compulsive beater. It is true that one can have just that situation; that is to say, a man who is quite a kindly man ordinarily, but who does not quite know why he thinks only of using the cane when he wants to maintain discipline. I believe that it would be a good thing for all teachers in approved schools to spend six months in a really progressive school. I am not completely sold on everything that happens in a progressive school, but it would be a good thing for them to see that a school can be run and discipline maintained without corporal punishment. There is no doubt that the staff, the managers, and the Home Office Inspectors stand condemned for what has happened over the years at Court Lees. I hope that the searchlight which is now being trained on this miserable affair will lead to a much better examination of, and a much better state of affairs in, approved schools in the future.

3.56 p.m.


My Lords, I had not intended to speak on the general issue, because I thought that the decision had been made and the die cast: rightly or wrongly, Court Lees has come to an end. My main concern is with the employment of the men who are now without a job, though I hope that in passing, in view of the remarks by the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, I may try to defend myself. She suggested that I took no exception to what had been done at Court Lees. I have not Hansard in front of me, but if I remember rightly I said that I did not for one moment condone what had been proved to be contrary to the law. I also said (I cannot remember whether the noble Baroness was here at the time; I do not think she was) that I am opposed to corporal punishment as such. I still am opposed to corporal punishment. And if the noble Baroness would like to put through this House a Bill for the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools, especially that inflicted by prefects on their fellow boys, I should be the first to support her and to speak on behalf of the Bill. Therefore I hope that she will not think that I am a compulsive beater who is never happier than when boys are being flogged. I am against corporal punishment. On the other hand, it is at the moment permitted by law, and I am concerned that those who employ it should be treated justly.

I do not think that the noble Baroness is being fair when she says of the headmaster and the deputy that they could not see beyond the end of a cane, and that their one idea of discipline was a beating. It is just not true. I know that school fairly well—indeed, I know it very well through my chaplain. After all, a Bishop is not supposed to be in every parish and in every school. The whole theory of episcopacy is that you work through your clergy, your incumbents and chaplains. I have had full reports from the chaplain of Court Lees. He had weekly contact with the boys, and indeed only last summer he was in camp with them. I am, through him, reasonably well informed; and I should think I am far better informed than a great many people who took part in the debate and yet spoke apparently with considerable knowledge. From what I have learned, both from him and from my own impressions, it would be far from the truth to suggest that the headmaster could see no further than the end of a cane. I regard that as a most damaging and unfair remark.

Not only have I had a good impression of the school from what my chaplain has told me, but the Gibbens Report itself speaks well of the school in many ways. And if it was as bad as has been suggested, why did not the inspectors of the Home Office say so before? By and large, I am satisfied—and I ask your Lordships to remember that I am opposed to corporal punishment—that it was a happy school and a worthwhile school. I also believe that, although the headmaster and the deputy failed in certain respects, and did things which they ought not to have done, nevertheless they were devoted to their job and, as I have ample evidence to show, many of the boys were devoted to them.

My concern, however, is to do what I can to see that these men are treated fairly with regard to re-employment. We are told by the Home Secretary that he does not believe that they are men who indulged in corporal punishment for any sinister motive. That is why I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, no matter how much we may have differed in the past, may be prepared publicly to say to-day that he accepts that comment of the Home Secretary and will have second thoughts about the word "brutal"; because so long as that stigma remains it is going to be difficult for either Mr. Haydon or Mr. Draycon to find employment. Both of them have applied for many positions, and I have done my best to support them, so far I fear without success; and, as I say, I doubt whether one will have success while that stigma of brutality attaches to them.

With regard to Mr. Cook, although I spoke severely about him in the last debate—and I withdraw nothing that I said, because I believe that it was justified—yet in his case, too, I should be only too glad to do what I could to see that he found reasonable employment. I do not believe it should be within a school, but it could be elsewhere. No doubt the Home Office have made careful inquiries about his past history. They know why he left the Armed Services; they know why he left the Devon county authority. If they do not know, I am prepared to supply them with chapter and verse. But there are many occupations for which Mr. Cook is qualified, and I hope that the Home Office will do everything within their power to see that he is given a job that is suitable. I also hope that they will do everything within their power to see that Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon find reasonable employment.

This has been an unhappy affair, and I can assure your Lordships that I had no intention, when we began this debate, to refer to what we discussed in general last year. My main concern, and I repeat it, is that these men who now face being unemployed shall be given the opportunity to find a job in which all three of them can give useful service.

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, I intend to intervene only briefly in this discussion and to express my regret that once again we are discussing the deplorable happenings at Court Lees School. In spite of the protestations we have heard to the contrary, any discussion of this kind must inevitably involve detailed discussions of the running of the school itself and those who say that this school was typical of the system are, in my view, gravely indicting the approved school system as a whole and individual members of the staff who were involved in the inquiry held under the chairmanship of Mr. Gibbens.

As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, has reminded us, this matter was fully debated here last November, and has also been debated in another place. He himself was present through most if not all of our debate. It is true that he did not participate, but I assumed from his silence on that occasion, and knowing his deep concern for the welfare and well being of children and young people, as evidenced during his term of office as Home Secretary, that he was satisfied and in general agreement with the findings of the inquiry. As I recall the previous debate in this House, the only Member present in your Lordships' House who appeared not to accept the findings of the inquiry was the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, and he has confirmed that impression again to-day.

We must remember what was said in paragraph 37 of the Gibbons Report, and particularly in paragraph 57, where we had the opinions of the distinguished forensic experts on the photographs that were produced in evidence. They said that if they had been shown such photographs in another sphere they would have felt it necessary to report their findings either to the police or to other suitable authorities. In the light of these paragraphs we surely have no alternative here to-day but to endorse the action of the Home Secretary in refusing to condone excessive severity by not approving the appointment of either the head or the deputy head of Court Lees to future headships of approved schools.

We have heard that the Secretary of State for Education and Science arranged for Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon to have available to them the normal procedures of appeal for teachers; that they have been through those procedures, and that, as a result, they are to be allowed to continue their professions as teachers, although grave warnings have been issued. But the responsibilities of the Home Secretary in this matter, in my view—and, I am sure, in his view and in the view of my noble friend Lord Stonham—go far beyond the classroom situation. Heads of approved schools, deputy heads and those holding posts of special responsibility have heavy and grave duties in relation to the social care and education of the boys who are committed to them by the juvenile courts. The responsibilities here are so grave that I myself should find the greatest difficulty in supporting a Home Secretary who continued to employ as heads of approved schools staff who had been involved in the happenings at Court Lees, and who, in the words of the Report of the inquiry, had been found guilty of, or responsible for, using excessive punishment on boys in their care, for breaking the rules of the approved school service, and who, in my view, have brought great discredit on the approved school service as a whole.

I hope that this is the last occasion on which we shall debate the events at Court Lees School. To-day the Surrey County Council is re-establishing a school in the same buildings and on new lines. We all know the grave shortage of places for the care, treatment and training of children and young people who have come before the courts as being in need of care, protection and control, or who have committed a criminal offence. I hope that very shortly we shall be debating a far more urgent matter in relation to the approved school service; namely, the Government's future proposals for the approved schools, of which we had such an interesting preview, if I may put it in that way, from my noble friend Lord Stonham when we last debated this matter.

4.9 p.m.


My Lords, I find it quite easy to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, but I find it quite impossible to follow the reasoning of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. I just cannot understand his reasoning after looking at the report of the Gibbens inquiry. Perhaps I may quote from paragraph 51 on page 18: … Mr. David James Ellison, the housemaster of Gillum House, who impressed me as an excellent and entirely reliable witness, not given to exaggeration, described the bruising he saw on the buttocks of boy No. 13 as the worst he had ever seen, comparable to that shown in the colour photograph of the buttocks of boy No. 2". Paragraph 52: I find proved the allegation of excessive severity in the punishment of this boy on 16th February 1967". I could have wished that the right reverend Prelate had shown a little more feeling and consideration for the boy who was the subject of those two paragraphs.

My Lords, there remains in my mind the question which was in it before the debate began: will this debate help any of the persons most directly involved? I very much doubt that it will. It certainly caused me to re-read the report of the inquiry conducted by Mr. Gibbens, and also to read the report of the debate in your Lordships' House on October 25 of last year. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, asks: … what action is being taken in respect of those members of the staff of the former Court Lees school who are not being re-employed at the new Approved School there … So far as two of them are concerned—Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon—the Gibbens Report scarcely shows them as heroes or, if I may say so, as worthy martyrs. For on them, surely, mote than on anyone, rested responsibility for ensuring that the Approved School Rules were observed. The re-reading of the Gibbens Report and that debate emphasise how very right it was that the facts of life at Court Lees should be made known and, being known, should be made the cause for action—action to remedy an extremely undesirable situation.


My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord to say that the facts of life at Court Lees school were stated with great authority just now by the right reverend Prelate. The Gibbens Report did not cover all the facts of life at Court Lees School. It covered one narrow part of the facts of life there, and I accept its findings on that.


My Lords, if I may say so, I much prefer to accept those facts of life which are disclosed in the report of the Gibbens inquiry, and I think it extremely important that those facts of life should be made known and should be acted upon. Because let us be under no illusion: the inquiry and the report put an end to such acts, and it would have been quite inexcusable if boys had been left at Court Lees at risk, because they were the most important people in the place. Undoubtedly, it would have been better if those facts had been brought to light in a different way; but it was nevertheless right that they should be known. And it would indeed be ironic if Mr. Cook was to be given less sympathy and understanding than those whose duty was so clearly laid down. It may be that Mr. Cook ill-fits the role of hero, but neither, if I may say so with great respect—and here I would address myself in particular to the right reverend Prelate—does he deserve to be forced into martyrdom.

In regard to Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon, it seems to me that the Home Secretary and his predecessor have behaved with a fair degree of generosity. Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon are being paid up to the end of this month, and they are still in occupation of the accommodation of which they were previously in possession. They are free to take teaching posts, as my noble friend Lady Gaitskell suggested, and I would suggest that this gives them an opportunity to re-establish themselves outside a specialised service—a specialised service in which society has a right to demand the observation of disciplines within the Rules laid down for Approved Schools.

4.16 p.m.


My Lords, I join with my noble friend Lady Serota in deploring the fact that we are again debating this unhappy subject, and I join with her also in expressing the hope that this will be the last time that we shall debate it. When the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, said that it was not his intention to traverse again the whole unhappy story of Court Lees or to fight last year's battle over again, for a moment my spirits were lifted and I thought that perhaps we might avoid what is to me a great unhappiness. My spirits were again lifted when he said that the most important people in this issue were the boys. Unfortunately, that was almost the last that we heard about the boys in this debate. As the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, went on, although he felt no disposition to debate the matter again—and for that I was grateful—he nevertheless made certain points with regard to the findings which made it necessary for me to comment. This is the unfortunate thing, when a Minister gets up to reply to a debate of this kind: whereas he would much sooner—at least, I would—let the whole thing go, it is nevertheless necessary to answer at least some of the points made, again in the interests of truth and justice.

The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, mentioned my use in the previous debate of the word "brutality". My noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark asked me now, on reflection, to withdraw that word. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said that in his view the headmaster relied overmuch on corporal punishment as a means of enforcing discipline. I think it will be accepted that I have never knowingly or unnecessarily inflicted pain on another individual. Nor have I ever knowingly abused the privileges of this House in order to inflict unfair treatment on another individual. Therefore, I can well remember that I pondered long about the use of that word "brutality". It was the only word I could then use to describe the conduct which, as my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy has said, produced the results which caused an impartial, experienced expert, when he inspected the photographs, to say that had he seen that state of affairs in the normal course of events it would have been a matter for reference to the Director of Public Prosecutions. My Lords, that is brutality. I accept—the Home Secretary has said he accepts it, and I accept it, too—that it was not inspired by morbid or cruel motives.

I am reading now from a letter to Mr. Haydon. This is important—very, very important. The Home Secretary writes: I note that you"— that is, Mr. Haydon— find it impossible, after reflection in the light of all that has happened since, to recognise that there were serious errors of judgment in your handling of an admittedly difficult situation. That is the unhappy crux of the matter. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, suggested that the breaking point was the managers' refusal to employ Mr. Cook. The mainspring of the former Home Secretary's decision was his realisation that the former managers had utterly failed to realise what the Home Secretary regarded as the enormity of the position they had allowed to spring up and that they had failed to convince him also that they were either prepared to, or had the ability to, alter things. Those are the real reasons.

The right reverend Prelate, I am sure, pleased all of us when he said that he was opposed in principle to corporal Punishment as such. I am bound to tell the right reverened Prelate that my recollection of a speech which I very much regretted hearing, much as I respect him, was that he was singularly successful in concealing his condemnation of corporal punishment as far as Court Lees was concerned.


My Lords, I think that those who read Hansard will agree that there, written in black and white, is my disapproval of corporal punishment as such.


I am just commenting on the speech that was made before. There is one thing affecting, in particular, Mr. Draycon, to which I will refer later, when I shall endeavour to put the record straight to some extent with regard to the comments made by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell.

Now, if I may, I shall briefly review the circumstances. As your Lordships know, Mr. Roy Jenkins decided that in the light of Mr. Gibbens's report he would not be prepared, at least for some time, to approve the appointment of either Mr. Haydon or Mr. Draycon as headmaster of an approved school. To give a fair idea of what went on I may say that, subsequently, on January 30—and not on January 22, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, suggested—a very senior officer of my Department saw Mr. Haydon who was accompanied by a solicitor to the National Union of Teachers and a professional colleague. On the next day, January 31, he saw Mr. Draycon, who was accompanied by the same solicitor. Both those interviews were to consider representations on the limited issue of whether the appointment of either as headmaster of an approved school could be approved by the Secretary of State. Each interview lasted for almost four hours; which enabled both of these gentlemen to say everything they wished to say very fully indeed.

They were informed that the Home Secretary had accepted Mr. Gibbens's report and that there could be no question of reviewing or reopening his findings on questions of fact. Apart from that, they were free to roam over their whole careers, their motives for what they did, the difficulties with which they had attempted to cope and so on. Everything they said was fully and faithfully reported to my right honourable friend, who also examined documents and testimonials which these gentlemen handed in. Having studied these reports, the Home Secretary, on March 27, accorded a personal interview to Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon. The noble Lord, Lord Brooke, has complained of the delay between January 31 and March 30—two months of anxiety and worry for Mr. Draycon and Mr. Haydon.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? He criticised me earlier for raising this subject again in this House. I thought I made it clear that it was just because of that delay, which seemed to me to be unfair to all concerned, that I tabled this Question. Certain things have happened in the last three days which, had they happened earlier, might have led to my not raising the subject.


I am dealing with this question of delay. They were very long interviews. Before they went to the Home Secretary the reports were carefully considered—and they were long reports, which I have seen. The Home Secretary took what he regards as a reasonable time to study them and gave an indication, prior to the interviews, of the line of his thinking. He then saw these gentlemen. I would mention, however, that in all the debates that have taken place, nothing but discouragement has been given to the idea that these gentlemen might be employed vain, either at Court Lees or as headmasters in an approved school. There was nothing to stop either of them from seeking employment; and certainly Mr. Draycon did so.

After this long and careful review the Home Secretary has decided to maintain the decision not to approve, at least for some time, should he be asked to do so, the appointment of Mr. Haydon as headmaster of an approved school. With regard to Mr. Draycon the position is somewhat different, because, while maintaining the previous decision, the Home Secretary will be prepared to consider his case again after the end of this year. I should add that appointments to the staff of approved schools (other than those of headmasters) do not require the Home Secretary's approval; and if such posts are offered them they are free to take them. Similarly, the Secretary of State for Education and Science, as the noble Lord has said, has not barred them from teaching. They are therefore free to accept any ordinary teaching posts offered to them. My noble friend Lady Gaitskell said that the Secretary of State for Education and Science had given a "grave" warning to Mr. Haydon and Mr. Draycon. That applies only in the case of Mr. Haydon. He gave a warning to Mr. Draycon. I mention that merely to show that there was a difference, and also to do away with the suggestion that has been made, and was made at the time, that they were "in the clear".

I have been asked whether the Home Office will help. Certainly, within the limits I have mentioned, my Department will do whatever we can to help find these people employment. Mr. Draycon has already sought our help in connection with several posts in schools of various kinds. Mr. Haydon has only recently done so. I have mentioned that when they move to take up other posts they will be given help with their removal expenses. Meanwhile, the six months' notice on full pay, which expired on February 6, has been extended to April 30, so as to give them time to find other jobs. That period of eight months' full pay is very much longer than is called for in their contracts. The Surrey County Council, to whom we cannot sufficiently express our gratitude for all their helpfulness in making it possible to start a new school on the premises, have allowed Mr. Draycon and Mr. Haydon to continue to occupy their houses there. But there is a limit to what the local authority can be expected to do. I trust therefore that they will soon obtain employment; because how long they can occupy their houses is entirely a matter for the Surrey County Council.

Your Lordships, I am sure, will be anxious to know, first, not only about the three principals, as it were, but what has happened to the remainder of the staff who, because of the unavoidable decision to close the school, were all given six months' notice, to expire on February 6. Because of the delay occasioned by the attitude of the former managers, it was not until November 8 last that Surrey were able to write to the remaining staff inviting them to apply for posts in the new school. All except five of those who applied were offered posts in the new school. The five not offered posts—this is apart from the head and deputy head—were two teachers, one being Mr. Cook, two housemasters and a house mother. They all received, by the same post which conveyed the bad news, a letter from the Home Office repeating an earlier offer to help in finding new jobs, and all five took up that offer. One teacher and one housemaster were assisted to find similar posts in other approved schools, which they took up on or before February 7. The other housemaster and the house mother, who was his wife, were put in touch with several suitable posts, but were not appointed. Their notice was extended to April 30, but the housemaster decided to take a post in industry in which he formerly worked. His wife decided not to seek other employment immediately.

There were four other former members of Court Lees staff who were offered posts by Surrey but did not accept. One retired and the others took other employment. All former staff who applied for but were not offered posts at the new school have been, or will be, given help towards the costs incurred in moving. All, including Mr. Draycon, are eligible for payments under the Redundancy Payments Act. Mr. Haydon is not eligible because he had not been at the school long enough. This leaves only Mr. Cook, the teacher whose letter to the Press uncovered the whole matter. In this I express my pleasure about what was said by my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy. It would be ironical if Mr. Cook were given less sympathy and understanding than those who, as it were, "laid it on". Whatever may be one's views of the exact method, the fact is that this matter might not have been uncovered but for Mr. Cook's action, and I certainly hope that in the material or the career sense, he will not suffer for it.

Mr. Cook was invited by Surrey County Council to apply for a post at Hays Bridge School, the new name of the school. He was interviewed, but was not successful. He applied for only one other post in an approved school as headmaster, but he did not get it. We believe that his best prospects are in general education. My Department has written, on his behalf, to 18 chief education officers and seven institutes of education about the possibilities of a post for Mr. Cook. He has been interviewed for several that appeared likely to suit, but so far without success. The replies indicate that there is no lack of willingness to help, but the posts for which Mr. Cook may be considered are limited by the nature of his qualifications and his own views and wishes as to the kind of appointment he wants. My Department will continue to do everything we can to help, but in this the Home Office can only use its good offices. Unquestionably, Mr. Cook has much to offer in a suitable setting, and I hope that it will not be long before he finds employment in which his undoubted talent can be fully employed.

My Lords, I said that I would mention Mr. Draycon, to whom my noble friend Lady Gaitskell referred, in her very moving speech. I hold no brief for Mr. Draycon, but the facts indicate that my noble friend has been a little hard on him. He was not found to have administered any excessively severe punishment, only that he failed to record some canings. He once caned a boy who was not wearing ordinary cloth trousers. The curious thing is that at an earlier, though not much earlier, stage of his career he was in charge at a time when, at the school where he was, there was no corporal punishment at all. I just wanted to put that point straight.

My Lords, this debate will, I hope, be the public end of an unhappy story and the public beginning of a new and brighter chapter. The former senior assistant of the former school is at present in charge of the new school. Applicants for the post of headmaster are to be interviewed on April 4. A deputy head will be appointed later, and other vacancies will be filled. Meanwhile, the managers are proposing to reopen the school next week with the first group of 10 to 12 boys who will be selected with great care. This number will be gradually increased to 24, and once the new headmaster takes up his appointment, the school will build up to its full complement. I know that, whatever differences of view there may have been about this whole matter from the beginning and may still be, your Lordships will all join with me in wishing the boys, the staff and the school a happy and creative future.