HL Deb 28 April 1970 vol 309 cc931-82

2.46 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Phillips.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Mentally handicapped children]:

LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 44, at end insert (" and (iii) in proving his eligibility for qualified teacher status he shall be entitled to count years of experience both before and after obtaining the diploma in the teaching of mentally handicapped children.")

The noble Lord said: On the Second Reading of this Bill I drew attention to the recent announcement by the Secretary of State that staff holding a diploma in the teaching of mentally handicapped children would be recognised as qualified teachers provided that they had had five years' post-diploma experience. I said that this was extremely welcome in principle but that it seemed to us to be an excessively long period when one takes into account not only the fact that these teachers have had experience before they take their diploma but also that normally the teachers' training period is three years and the qualifying period four years. I was very pleased that on Second Reading I had the support of both the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and also of my noble friend Lord Grenfell.

Two distinct cases are involved. There is that of the young teacher under 25 who has to take a two-year diploma course and there is that of the teacher over 25 who takes a one-year diploma course. It is primarily the skilled teacher with a lot of experience, the over-25 teacher, whom this Amendment is designed to assist. There are among them a very large number of devoted teachers with a great many years of experience, and these are the teachers to whom the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln paid an eloquent tribute during the Second Reading debate.

As things stand, on the transfer to the Education Service they will be required to have served for five years after they received their diploma before they gain recognition as qualified teachers. That seems to me an onerous condition, and my Amendment suggests that it would be fairer if they could count the years of experience they have had in the Service before taking the diploma as well as those after. It seems to me that once the Ser-vice is integrated there will be the same inevitable urge towards a fully qualified service as there is in the present Education Service. The situation might well arise where a vacancy occurred in a senior post for the teaching of mentally handicapped children, and a teacher of normal children who had taken his teacher's certificate and had, maybe, one or two years' experience of teaching might apply for the vacancy. He would be considered a qualified teacher, whereas an applicant who had had 20 or 25 years' experience of teaching mentally handicapped children but had not yet completed his five years' qualifying service would be treated as unqualified; and the other teacher might get the post.

My Amendment also would be of some benefit, though much less, to the young teacher. I am particularly concerned with younger teachers because, as I understand it, their situation is that they have first of all to have 12 to 15 months' experience of teaching with the mentally handicapped; they then take a two-year diploma course and then they must nave five years' experience—a total of over eight years—before they become qualified. This morning I was informed that, over and above the five years' qualifying period, they are required to serve a further two years probationary training instead of the one year of the teacher of normal children. The sum now adds up to over ten years' experience before they are treated as qualified. I think that this is adding insult to injury, and I would ask the noble Baroness whether this really is the case. It is certainly a shattering blow to the ambitions of many young students, if they have to face that sort of discrimination.

The Amendment does not go very far in helping them, unfortunately. It would allow them to count the 12 to 18 months' previous experience before they took their diplomas. But I should hope that in the course of time we could go further than that. In my opinion, they should be able to qualify after a two-year period. There is certainly no question of dilution in this matter. We are not diluting the teaching profession. There are over 300,000 teachers, and fewer than 1,000 teachers with these diplomas. Surely the teaching profession can afford to be generous, and if they are not generous surely the Government can be. I beg to move.


I spoke on Second Reading on this subject and I told the House then that the chairman and a deputation from the Training Council for the Mentally Handicapped were going to call on the Minister yesterday. They did so and he was unable to change his point of view. I personally find this deeply distressing. As I said in Second Reading, it means that our teachers are going to remain second-class teachers. Our children are going to remain second-class pupils. I cannot understand why this should be, but I am told that it is a trade union decision. If we are going to be completely governed by our trade unions it is a sad thing for the future of our country. I wish to support my noble friend Lord Aberdare in this matter. Not myself alone, but many others, feel this very deeply The noble Baroness knows as well as I do what it means to teach mentally handicapped children and that these teachers wish to have the recognition they need and deserve.


I should like to add a plea from these Benches that the utmost consideration should be given where cases of genuine hardship are involved and that the Bill should not apply too rigorously in certain cases of experienced teachers with a background of many years' skill in dealing with mentally handicapped children. They should not be completely ruled out because they are unable to accept the period of five years which this Bill lays down. Where cases of genuine hardship are concerned, I would ask the Government to exercise the broadest possible interpretation of the terms of this Bill.


The noble Lords who have spoken know that I have great sympathy with this Amendment, but I think that we must keep to the facts of the situation. The diploma of the Training Council for Teachers of the Mentally Handicapped is given for a two-year course with a minimum entry qualification of three "O" Levels or a one-year course following a substantial relevant service. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, made reference to 12 to 18 months' service. It is a qualification of good standing in this field, and its holders are recognised generally, and in particular by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, as being fully qualified teachers of mentally handicapped children. There is certainly no question of them being second-class teachers. It may be of interest to the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, in particular, to know that the Secretary of State proposes that when holders of this diploma join the educa- tion service, they will be known as recognised teachers of the mentally handi-capped—R.T.(M.H.). We also have to recognise that the diploma course is shorter and more specialised and has a lower minimum entry standard.

We are concerned here with the qualification for teachers with general teaching qualifications. As I said on Second Reading, the five-year period is not so difficult as it sounds, because a large number of students will have that necessary qualification. I was not quite certain about what the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said about the 25 years' teaching.


It depends on whether the five years are before or after the diploma. The present requirement is that they do five years after the diploma; but they could have done a lot before.


It is difficult without actually knowing an example of such teachers, and I do not know of any. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that a large number will have done the five years.

On Second Reading, both noble Lords opposite were a little uncertain about facts I gave them and I will repeat them. The Secretary of State has power at present to accept as a qualified teacher anyone holding a diploma, which is not necessarily that of a qualified teacher, if he or she has been teaching for ten years. This refers mainly to people holding a Montessori certificate, to Irish teachers and to teachers from abroad. But in the present case my right honourable friend has exercised his judgment and reduced the ten-year period to five. So that this concession (if I may put it that way) provides a comparable situation. We should appreciate that the normal rule should apply when granting qualified-teacher status to holders of diplomas in teaching. This is what is intended. Those who are entering this course of training now will have an opportunity of continuing on a three-year course or of taking a more specialised course and they will not be considered in connection with this five years' experience.

I hope that both noble Lords will appreciate that this is not a question of the union but of a difference of qualification and that these teachers are getting due status. It simply means that if they want to be qualified teachers in every type of subject they will have to wait for five years. I hope that noble Lords will accept the point I am trying to make. It does not imply any lack of consideration for these teachers or any downgrading. I must say to the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that the two-year probationary period was news to me. I have checked this matter with the Department and they have no knowledge of it, either. I am not certain where he heard it, but I hope he will appreciate the situation and not press this Amendment.


I supported the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on this matter on Second Reading, and having heard Lady Phillip's reply I must confess that I am no whit the wiser about the Government's reason for being against the Amendment as it stands. If I may say so with great respect, I do not think that the noble Lady has given us any reason at all why a given amount of experience, which we are all agreed for the purpose of this Amendment is necessary, should necessarily all be after gaining the diploma, and why one should not be able to spin it out over the period before and the period afterwards. If a teacher has a diploma, and has the teaching experience, what does it matter whether the experience is after he obtained the diploma or before? We have not yet heard an argument against that.


I can only say that the teacher training course does not stipulate this. In other words, you do not enter a college of education on the basis of work which you have carried out before. It is held to be useful, but it is a different entry level. Therefore there must be some difference when you are taking these people into the status of qualified teacher. Training for work in one field—and I give the example of those who have trained in nursery work through the Montessori certificate—is not the same as becoming a qualified teacher of every age in every type of subject. There is a difference which I think even the noble Lord will appreciate.


I must say that I, like the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, am not at all happy about this matter. I am quite happy for the future, when it comes down to everybody having a three-year course. But I think the Government are being extremely niggling in this matter to those people who are at present in the service and who have done a great deal for it. There are many other ways in which it could be done. Perhaps there should be conversion courses for what the noble Baroness called R.Ts. (M.H.). Are normal teachers going to be called R.Ts. (G)? It does not seem to me to be right, when the service is being integrated. We should show much more generosity, and I cannot help feeling that we are not going about it in the right way.

Perhaps I may answer the question on the three years' probation. This is contained in a letter (which I will show to the noble Baroness) from the Department of Education and Science to a student at one of the junior training centres. It has caused a great deal of alarm and despondency among students who are just about to qualify. They now have to face five years' service, plus two years' probation service, before they are treated as qualified. It is making them very despondent indeed. I do not wish to press the Amendment at this stage, but I hope I may be able to make some better impression on the noble Baroness, perhaps in conversation afterwards, when we can see whether we can get together on it, because I feel sure that the Bill at present is doing an injustice. Meantime I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.4 p.m.

LORD GARNSWORTHY moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 3, line 21, at end insert— (" () Nothing in this section shall impose any liability on a local education authority to provide residential homes for children for whose education they may become responsible under this section.")

The noble Lord said: When my noble friend moved the Second Reading of this Bill she referred to the special position of the Inner London Education Authority, pointing out that that Authority is not itself a health authority. It is be-cause of that special position and the need to secure some definition of the responsibility of that Authority in regard to the provision of residential accommodation for those children for whose education they are likely to become respon- sible under this clause that I have tabled this Amendment.

The Amendment is certainly not in-tended to exclude the possibility of that Authority providing such accommodation. Indeed, the records of the Inner London Education Authority and, before them, of the London County Council are outstanding in the provision that they have made for boarding school accommodation for children with special education needs, whether it be E.S N., maladjusted, physically handicapped, dual-handicapped or multi-handicapped. It would seem that there may be instances where, although the education authority will provide the education, the purely residential care could still best be under-taken by the health authority or the hospital service Indeed, there may well be a point where the very cost of having to provide residential accommodation could itself become a heavy burden for an education authority such as the I.L.E.A. In those circumstances, I bag leave to move this Amendment, which would leave an authority such as the I.L.E.A. free to provide residential accommodation in case;: where it is in the best interests of the child that it should do so, but under no obligation to do so where education and residential care call for different specialisations. I beg to move.


I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Garnsworthy for having given me prior notice of this Amendment, and of the reasons for it. I think it will be useful to him if I give the full note on this particular Amendment and clause. The effect of Clause 1, and in particular subsection (1) is to provide that the powers and duties of local education authorities under the Education Acts to provide education in Schools shall in future apply equally to those children suffering from mental handicap, who up to the time when the clause becomes law will have been excluded from the education system under Section 57 of the Education Act (to be repealed under the Bill) as unsuitable for education at school.

The clause thus extends to these children the right to education already ex-tended to other children, but imposes no duties on local education authorities in respect of them beyond those already operative in the case of other children. Nothing in the Education Act imposes on local education authorities a duty to provide residential homes for children of school age or otherwise; nor does any part of Clause 1 impose such a duty. Section 50 of the Education Act gives the local authorities the power, where it seems to them necessary in order to en-able a child to attend a suitable school, to provide board and lodging under such arrangements as they think fit. But this is first an enabling power, and not a duty; and secondly, it is restricted to the provision of board and lodging to enable attendance at school: it does not relate to the provision of a place of permanent residence for a child. I hope that with that explanation my noble friend will withdraw the Amendment.


I am grateful to my noble friend for that explanation, and beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?


In the Second Reading debate the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, said that I would know that within the present structure a period of 10 years qualified a teacher for full duties status. She mentioned something about 10 years in her speech just now, but I was not quite clear as to her meaning.

The other point, on which she kindly wrote to me, was not fully answered, to my mind, and I feel that it is vitally important. When the handover is done, what will the qualifications for holidays be for the teachers? At the moment, under the health authorities they have three weeks, with an option for hospital management committees to extend that by closing the school. Indeed, at this moment we in our hospital management give them six weeks. It must be remembered that in transforming to education they will, I understand, have the right of about three months' holiday. I believe that is about the length of the normal holiday that a teacher has. This will need a good deal of thought by the hospitals concerned, as I mentioned on Second Reading. I do not expect to get an answer about this now, but the education authorities ought to consider all these questions carefully, so that we may get advance notice. The time is coming next year when the changeover will come into effect, and we shall need notice of these matters in order that organisation can be put into motion.


I will try to explain the point about the five and the ten years to the noble Lord. At the moment the Secretary of State has power to give the status of qualified teacher to somebody who has a diploma or teaching qualification which is not the same as an English college would give. This is a special power which he exercises only in certain cases. In such a case the person must have taught for ten years before he would be considered, all other factors being equal. The Secretary of State could have made that the qualification for teachers in this case also, but he decided not to do so; he decided to make it less—five years. So he has made a concession. The ten-year qualification applies at the moment mainly to teachers from other countries who have all the qualifications though they are not qualifications which are recognised here: people who have taken a course like Montessori (and I believe that there are certain kinds of physical education courses as well which give a teacher training certificate) but not to the teacher training qualification for teaching all types of children. The Secretary of State can exercise that right at present and does so in certain cases. We shall return to this matter at a later point in the Bill, as it relates to another Amendment.

On the question of holidays, a very interesting note has appeared which may or may not reassure the noble Lord. It says, rather cryptically: "Either more money, or increased staffing—a point to be settled." At any rate, it seems set fair for the changeover. I think three months' holiday is a slight overstatement; I do not believe the holiday is quite as long as that. There is a period of five weeks in the summer—six in some cases. I do not think the noble Lord could make it up to three months with the other periods. There are 12 school days off at Christmas, and 12 at Easter, so I think it would be rather difficult to make it up to three months. I hope that answers the noble Lord's points.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Supplementation by Secretary of State, in special cases, of certain awards by local education authority]:

3.14 p.m.

LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 3: Page 4, line 3, leave out from (" section ") to ("references") in line 6.

The noble Lord said: On Second Reading we had a good many speeches on the question of subsection (4) of Clause 2, which is the clause that gives the Secretary of State the right to supplement grants to students cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex. I dc no! want to go over all the arguments again, but, briefly, many of us feel that it is quite wrong in an Education Bill to condone, or seem to condone, immoral behaviour, and to ask the taxpayer to support it. I have read very carefully through all that was said on the Second Reading, and in particular what was said by the noble Baroness. To my mind there are two points which emerge quite clearly: first, nobody wants to take any action which would in any way affect children; secondly, there is a feeling, shared by many of your Lordships on all sides of the House, that it is wrong for the Department of Education to make official regulations to cater for students living in sin. If there is an odd case of hard-ship involved, then that is a matter for social security and the Supplementary Benefits Commission, not the Department of Education.

In the Amendment, in which I am very glad to be so powerfully supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, and my noble friend Lady Emmet, I have sought simply to leave out all mention of cohabiting students and, at the same time, to leave in all the references to the children. At the moment it says: … references to a person's wife or husband include a woman with whom that person cohabits as his wife or, as the case may be, a man with whom that person cohabits as her husband, …

If my Amendment is agreed to that will be deleted and we shall be left with: … references to a person's child include that person's stepchild or illegitimate child and a child adopted …

That entirely meets the case that was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, on Second Reading, when she said: … no student is going to be allowed to keep a wife or a mistress …or someone with him unless there is a child."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14/4/70; col. 386.] That is precisely what we are aiming to do by leaving out these very words in the Bill. The noble Baroness was intending to do it in the regulations, whereas we are doing it through the Bill by removing that part of this subsection which deals with cohabitation.

Surely if there is the odd case where there is hardship for a student, someone with whom he is cohabiting and a child, it can be left to the Supplementary Benefits Commission. They have looked after these matters since 1962, and there must be extremely few cases. The noble Baroness said that these arrangements would not affect more than a thousand students, and only less than 1 per cent. of those would not be married, so we are dealing with fewer than ten students, and some of those probably have children eligible under my Amendment. There-fore we are dealing with very few people, and surely they could look to the Supplementary Benefits Commission if there was any hardship. This is a simple Amendment; it seems to meet all the points made by the noble Baroness on Second Reading, and I hope she will accept it. I beg to move.


I spoke at some length on the Second Reading of this Bill last week, and I do not want to be guilty of tedious repetition. We are, however', discussing a new principle that is being introduced in this Bill and I should like to emphasise some of the points that I made last week. First, we are living at a time when we see unrest in every university, and all of us would have expected that the Government would give a lead to students. That is why I, for one, found it difficult to believe that a measure was being introduced which would not only condone sex before marriage, and imply that it was quite all right, but also subsidise it through the taxpayer. We have to think of the repercussions. If a young student, after working for a short time, decided that he or she wished to study again, why should not a worker in a factory, after having worked for three years, say, "I will become an apprentice. It will mean that it will be rather difficult for me to keep my dependants, but the Government will help me."? That facility does not exist at the moment, although we want skilled people. There is no question of an apprentice being told that if he cares to become a skilled person, and to that end to undergo a further course of study, the Government will be responsible for either his wife or family—and certainly not the girl with whom he cohabits.

In the case of a girl, it is specified in the regulations that she can be 21—only 21—and the Government may give a grant to her lover. If that is right for the better-off, how many of these boys and girls in universities realise how fortunate they are, having opportunities that were denied their fathers and grand-fathers? They are already fortunate, but now we are coming along to some of these boys and girls who are already very spoilt and saying, "Here is another con-cession."

It has been said that these benefits will be only for mature students. I said on Second Reading that a mature student does not need a mistress or a lover as a crutch. I have about ten relatives, nine of them men, who are doctors, and although they groaned about the long course of years at university, none of them groaned because the Government were not supporting their girl friend or boy friend. It just meant that they had to face up to being disciplined for a number of years. I am saying that it is in the interests of boys and girls to-day to make them learn the value of discipline and control.

As a feminist, I feel very strongly that once more the permissive society is introducing a measure which will bear most heavily on the girls. It is no good people coming to me, as they have done, and saying, "Edith, there is equality on this. The woman can have her lover and the man can have his mistress." As I said previously, what nonsense! All of us who have been to university know perfectly well that if a man has a girl friend and sleeps with her he is regarded as rather a gay boy; if it is known in the university that a girl sleeps with a man, nobody says, "Well, it is only one"; people just use that horrible expression about her "sleeping around". Under this measure the age of the girl has to be 21. Some irresponsible, nasty youth can bring pressure to bear upon a bright, intelligent girl and say to her, "If I become your lover you can apply for a grant." On the other hand, while the man certainly has to be 25, he can take a mistress of any age; he can have one of 18. So I say that once more the permissive society is being, as I believe, cruel to the girl; I think that this Bill proves it, and I want to protect her.

As for those of us who believe in the institution of marriage, as I have said I cannot think of any alternative to the institution of marriage, but this measure surely is going to undermine it gravely. Again, has this nothing to do with morals? If a widow who has been married for many years and has a miser-able little State pension cohabits with a man, she risks losing her pension. Are we going to change all that? A widow, a teacher, wrote to The Times about this and said, "It is a pity we widows cannot now cohabit with male students; we'd be all right." What are we coming to?

I have already spoken on the subject of accommodation. We have not had the details about this. If the widow I am talking about incidentally cohabits with a man in her own house she loses her pension, but if she has an affair with him, and sleeps with him regularly in another house, or in his house, she can get her pension. We want to know details about this. When two students have established the fact that they are sleeping together, if they cannot get accommodation or a flat near the university will they still be able to get their grant?—because they will certainly be cohabiting. We are told time after time that these people number only 1,000, or 10 per cent., or whatever the total may be. The Bill is not yet on the Statute Book. Why are we saying that there are not very many? We do not know how many there are going to be. How can we possibly judge from the number who obtain supplementary benefits? As I have said, supplementary benefit has been regarded as a net in which to catch the unmarried mother and her child, but it has never encouraged extra-marital intercourse: there is nothing in supplementary benefit to encourage this. But now a Government Department is coming along and giving its blessing. There is no difficulty here of a student feeling slightly ashamed because at a university he goes and asks for a grant for his mistress. I feel that that argument has no validity at all, and I ask the Committee, for the sake of the institution of marriage, for the sake of these boys and girls, and particularly for the sake of young women, to support this Amendment.

3.26 p.m.


I should like, in a very few words, to sup-port this Amendment. Like the noble Baroness who has just sat down, I made my views known, I think quite clearly, on Second Reading; but I do not think it does any harm to dot the i's and cross the t's for just a few minutes. It is, I must say, horrifying to me—really horri-fying—that the Ministry of Education (not of Social Service but of Education) should suggest that the taxpayer should support an illicit household, and that the Minister should sanction this and un-doubtedly—and I think this is the important point—in the eyes of the recipient approve of it. The noble Baroness has just said that we understand that at the moment there are perhaps only a few of these cases. But once this principle is approved, where is it going to stop? We cannot possibly say that there will continue to be only a few, once this principle has been publicly accepted by the Minister of Education.

As I think was asked at Second Reading, how many times can the recipient change partners and still keep this grant? And how many illegitimate children is he or she going to be allowed? After all, if it is all right once, why should it not be all right twice? I am frankly shocked by my Church's attitude to this matter during the debate on Second Reading. I always thought that there was one, if there were not two, of the Ten Commandments very suitable to this subject. Is there anything that is going to stop (shall we call her?) a lady of leisure, except at night, from applying for a grant, provided that she has her "A" levels, to keep her occupied in the day in studying social science from a different aspect? This is a permissive society and I cannot see that one should stop her in certain circumstances. Surely the Ministry of Education should look at the whole man and woman, not just at their "A" levels and so forth, and see whether assistance from the taxpayer is going to produce an individual who is going to be of benefit to the society in which he lives and from which he obtains assistance.

Where feckless people—and these are feckless people—produce illegitimate children, I should have thought their first duty was to try to earn a living to support them. But that idea seems to have gone quite out of fashion, and the whole of the present tendency, encouraged I am sorry to say by the present Government and this Bill, is to undermine the principles, whether they go back to Aristotle and Plato, to Christian religion, or to any other great religion or philosophy under which our civilisation has developed. I think this is going to be done at very great cost to the nation, and we shall soon reach the stage when the reputation of the British nation, which stood so high in the world, will degenerate; and instead of being called Perfide Albion, we shall be called, "Degenerate Albion".

3.30 p.m.


It seems to be necessary to look carefully at the nature of the proposal contained in this clause and the arguments put up in favour of the Amendment. On the Second Reading, I think there was a great deal said which was very wide of the mark. The speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, could, it seemed to me—and seems after re-reading it—be explicable only on the basis that she did not believe a word that her own Front Bench was saying or that she had prepared a splendid piece of polemic and was not going to abandon it whatever happened. We are not talking about masses of mistresses or gangs of gigolos; we are talking about approximately ten cases at any one time —and I do not think that the suggestion that this Bill might encourage more such cases is valid, because it appears that the regulations will be drawn very strictly indeed (and I have no doubt that the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, will have something to say about this) almost certainly all involving children, where there may be real hardship if the student is going to continue with his or her studies.

The arguments against this appear to fall into two categories. The first says that these people should not be helped; the second says that they should be helped in this particular way. If we take the first argument, that they should not be helped, the argument here runs that if you choose to live together unmarried you flout the laws of society and must take the consequences.



It is an intellectually respectable theory, but it is one which I reject on liberal grounds. I do not believe that the State has any right or any business to discriminate between people on the basis of their private morals. In the Second Reading debate the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, said: I really feel that the country should now be told by the Government whether chastity and virginity have any intrinsic value at all ".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14/4/70, col. 372.] This seems to me to be a most extra-ordinary statement. The qualifications of this Government, or indeed of any other Government, for telling us whether chastity and virginity have any intrinsic value are non-existent, and should remain so.

A second and more conclusive reason in many of the cases put forward for these people not being helped at all is the vast administrative difficulty in making a judgment on these matters. Here perhaps I might make a point which appears to have been misunderstood by the writer of the letter to The Times quoted by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, and indeed by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, herself. The whole question of what is done about pensions for widows is governed by the ability to administer the pension scheme. Why it should be all right, in the administrative sense, for a widow to keep her pension if she sleeps with men outside her house but not if she has a man co-habiting with her, is because of the administrative fact that he is then assumed to be supporting her. This assumption may be wrong, but that is the reason for it. It is not because the Government have decided at any stage to take a moral stand on this, and to say that a widow must lose her pension if she sleeps with another man.

The great advantage of a marriage from an administrative point of view, quite apart from its virtues theologically and socially, which I completely uphold, as I hope your Lordships will accept, means that one can be safe in assuming that dependants in a marriage are true dependants and that the arrangement will continue for the foreseeable future. There are real difficulties about identifying dependants in a more casual liaison. But if, as in this case, the Department of Education and Science think that it will be not too difficult to make a judgment on these matters and to frame appropriate regulations, I for one am prepared to take their word for this.

The second main reason put forward for opposing this clause as it stands was that these people should not be helped in this way. Again this argument breaks down into two. The first side of it was quoted by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, who said: I agree that hardship and misfortune which is not the fault of the person concerned must be alleviated, but I implore the Government seriously to consider any Amendments which may be moved in respect of Clause 2, either by noble Lords opposite or on this side of the House, and to consider re-drafting subsection (4) so that it does not read as at present."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14/4/70, col. 383.] I apologise to the noble Lord if I have it wrong, but this seems to me to be a case for thinking that they should be helped so long as no one knows that they are being helped. I think that is taking hypocrisy, even in its best sense as a tribute paid by vice to virtue, a little too far in a Government Bill.

On the other hand, the argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Pargiter, in the Second Reading debate, that all matters dealing with the support of de-pendants should be dealt with by the Ministry of Social Security and not by the Ministry of Education and Science is one with which I thoroughly agree. I think it would have been the right thing to do to make the whole question of support for the dependants of those in education, apart from their purely tutorial and educational expenses, part of the machinery of social security. But that is another matter; that is a change in the whole system. It has little to do with this Amendment. It is a valid point to raise in a Second Reading speech, but it is not valid at this particular moment be-cause the whole of the support in regard to the dependants of students comes under the Department of Education and Science and we are merely dealing now with one corner of that.

I believe that the objective of helping these few people to continue with their education and to look after their dependants is right. I must say that I am shocked to hear from the Labour Benches this talk of "spoiled students". These students are getting a great advantage, we know, but it is no more than any human being has the right to have, even if it is better than their parents had. I reject the argument that these students should be penalised because of the views that they hold on sexual morality, and I expect that the Department of Education and Science can so draft these regulations to make certain that they will help only those who are true dependants, if they are to be helped, and if the whole burden is not to be shifted on to the Department of Social Security, then I think it is right that they should be helped in a particular way, and that is in the way set out in this Bill. I think this whole thing is a storm in a teacup. I intend to support the Government on this matter and I sincerely hope that your Lordships will defeat the Amendment.

3.37 p.m.


I regret very much that I was not able to take part in the debate on Second Reading. I want now to resist this Amendment. I have no particular stomach for the speech I am trying to make, and I confess that when I first became aware of this matter through reading the daily Press, which is a dubious initiation into many matters of importance, my Nonconformist hackles at once rose. This seemed to me to be a new superfluity of naughtiness on the part of the Government; and it seemed also that here we were appearing, at least, to put a bonus on promiscuity, and so on.

Then I read about the Bill and learned a few of the facts which surround this very largely, as I think, irrelevant debate. If we are talking about basic and ultimate ethics, I shall have something to say about that in a moment. But this particular clause is no innovation, and if the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, feels that it should have been included under general welfare, rather than under general education, I would immediately reply that, as I see it, in a modern civilised society education is as peremptory a right as is the provision of material needs. I cannot draw a distinction between the inalienable right of every citizen, whatever his moral code, to the opportunities of education as every individual person in the community would also have the right to the amenities of social and physical living. Furthermore, as I see it there are ample safeguards in the provisions of discipline whereby this particular provision will not be generally granted in a careless fashion but will be closely scrutinised.

On principle there are two issues which govern my own decision. Regretting, as I do, the moral decadence of the community in which I live, and holding no support for immorality, or indeed for extra-marital intercourses or cohabitation, there are two principles which I think must make me judge that this is a right inclusion. The first is that we are recognising a fait accompli, and not encouraging people to undertake a particular form of behaviour. If that is so, we are en-titled to ask whether this is a case generally of sexual irregularity or sexual irresponsibility; and as the evidence tends to build up here are cases—a very few of them—in which, for reasons which may be good or may be bad, there has been a large element of responsibility in the actual cohabitation. It is not merely a casual, fly-by-night kind of intercourse; it is a regular established condition. And here the principle of the Christian faith, as I understand it, immediately becomes valid.

I do not believe you have any right to punish people who vary the Christian code and depart from it by the taking away from them of the means of life itself. I believe that, whatever judgments you must make and whatever penalties you are entitled to impose, they must not be in the realm of denying to human beings the opportunity of finding the means of life; and those means of life, as I understand it include an adequate opportunity for education as well as for food and drink, clothing and shelter. Therefore, very briefly, whatever these people—and there are not so many of them—have done, and whatever they intend to do, if we are to express our disapprobation of their behaviour (and I feel compelled so to do), let us not take it out on them by denying to them what is their inalienable right. After all, the sun shines on the evil and the good; let the sun of material benefits shine on the evil and the good. And the rain descends on the just and the unjust: let the rain of education descend on the just and the unjust. Let us express in other ways our disapproval of their behaviour. Let us accept the basic Socialist creed that what-ever a man does, whatever his condition, whatever his paramour may do, he is entitled by Divine Right to the means of life. Let this clause stand and let this Amendment be rejected.


I should like to put a few questions to my noble friend who will ultimately reply, particularly arising out of Lord Soper's remarks. What is the position, and what does Lord Soper mean by this "inalienable right"? There is no question here of withdrawing any money or anything of that description, any grant. The difficulty arises over the way in which it is going to be done. Some of us find it rather difficult to under-stand why, because a person is a student, he should be covered by an educational grant, as distinct from a man who might have lost his job consequent on redundancy and is having to go through a period of retraining. As such, if he is implicated in the way expressed in this particular Bill, he would have to receive all benefits for illegitimate children through social security, completely distinct from the grant he would receive during the time he was undergoing this retraining.

I do not think this is a question of whether a person is living immorally, as we understand it, or living in cohabitation with someone else; I do not see that that principle arises at all. I certainly take the view that what a person does in his own private life is entirely his own business. The point I do think seriously about is whether because they are students they should be dealt with any differently from ordinary working people. I have not heard the reason expounded and I should like my noble friend who is going to reply to explain to me exactly why this difference should arise in this particular direction.

It is alleged that if the Amendment is accepted it will not be possible to make any payment at all. I should like my noble friend to give me the answer as to whether that is correct or not, because I cannot see why, if this Amend- ment is accepted, it should interfere with the basis of payment of allowances that has been in operation for some consider-able time. I believe that when this Bill was introduced, some discussion took place on this principle and the point was made that probably it would be dealt with in a different way in the process of time. My noble friend, the Secretary of State, who is, I think, one of the best Ministers of Education we have ever had and who is doing an excellent job of work, is probably honouring the type of agreement that was suggested as long ago as that. I admire him for so doing; and, knowing he is a man of honour, I can fully understand that. But I think that on this particular occasion there is rather a misjudgment of the actual position.

I understand that there are only nine or ten persons involved. It could be argued that if this Bill goes through as it is, that nine or ten may probably be increased in number. If a person wants to cohabit with someone else, that is his private business, but if a student is so doing there is no reason why he should be dealt with any differently from any other section of the community. I sincerely hope my noble friend will be able to give us some clear explanation why there should be this difference, or alternatively agree to give further consideration to the whole subject, because there is a rather strong feeling in many sections of the community in regard to this matter.

We in the Labour Party are advanced in our views; we passed the Sexual Offences Act. This little clause itself can give quite an opportunity to our opponents later on to make capital out of us, to say that we are preparing to subsidise cohabitation in the way mentioned in the Bill. I do not think these words are necessary at all. The subsection itself covers the illegitimate children perfectly well and we ensure that adequate pro-vision is made. It is all a matter of doing it in a different way from that suggested in the Bill.


I must confess I am not terribly worried about the way in which our opponents might tend to misrepresent the intentions of our Government. I could not help but admire the flow of words with which my noble friend Lady Summerskill expressed her view; I only wish I could command words as she does in this House. But if I admire her words I certainly cannot accept her view. I belong to a Party which I believe is possessed of a strong sense of compassion. I believe that even in the field of education there is room for compassion, and if we have an educational system that lacks compassion there will be something very wrong with it.

I find myself in a very difficult position, where two of my noble friends, both of whom I greatly admire, are so much in conflict about what the Bill intends. We have the interpretation placed upon it by my noble friend Lady Summerskill, an interpretation which bears no relation at all to the interpretation given by my noble friend Lady Phillips on Second Reading on April 14. May I make one brief quotation from what she said, at column 351: Included among these supplementary allowances are allowances for the dependants of a student. Not all students are entitled to dependant's allowances. Only if a student is married before his course begins and either is over 25 or has supported himself for three years out of earnings may he claim, as of right, allowances for his wife and children. If he is not over 25, or if he has not sup-ported himself for three years, or married after the year in which his course began, he is not entitled, as of right, to allowances for his family. Having quoted that passage from the speech of my noble friend on the Front Bench, I would ask the Committee to accept that when she expressed that view she was indicating that these allowances would be limited in exactly the same way as allowances for unmarried students.

I was extremely impressed by the approach the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, endeavoured to make in pro-posing this Amendment. I took note that he said that it proposed no action which could in any way affect the children. Is not the effect of this Amendment some-thing which will drive a wedge between mother and child? Is it not an Amendment which in point of fact will separate mother from child? Ought we not primarily to be concerned with doing all we can to create stable relationships instead of doing something which may well undermine any possibility of achiev- ing a stable relationship which might eventually result in marriage?

I shall find myself in no difficulty at all in supporting the Government if this Amendment goes to a Division. I hope that the Government will remain firm on the matter, for it seems to me that if the Amendment before us is carried it will mean that a student can obtain support for his child born out of wed-lock, but that the mother must fend for herself. I wonder what kind of morality there is in that. It seems that when we are talking about education and are moralising, we can know about children born out of wedlock, but we are not prepared to know and to acknowledge the mother.

As I said before, I am proud to belong to a Party which has a sense of com-passion. When I think of the figures that were given us on Second Reading by my noble friend, that not more than ten families a year are involved, I wonder what all the furore is about. Remarks such as "a licence for libertines", have appeared in some sections of the Press. The only licence that I feel is being employed on this occasion is in regard to the interpertation of a compassionate clause.

3.55 p.m.


The noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, said just now that he wondered what the furore was about. This rather surprises me, because he knows perfectly well what all the furore is about. I need not go into this because it is obvious to the noble Lord. This is a question of principle. The Government appear to think that, just because only a few people are involved, it is quite all right. But it is a question of principle. I am worried about our image abroad. When journalists abroad read this clause in a Government Bill they will make great propaganda out of it. I am afraid that, along with Sweden (though I do not care in the least about Sweden) we are getting a name as being the most per-missive country among the civilised nations in Europe. I think that if this clause of the Bill is accepted as at present drafted it will do us a great deal of harm.

I shall not speak any more on this Amendment, as I spoke at great length on this clause on Second Reading; but I should like to support my noble friend Lord Aberdare most warmly on what is really a mild Amendment. It does not affect the illegitimate child. I cannot understand the reasoning of the noble Lord, Lord Soper. He really does stretch the Ten Commandments. I think he would require twenty Commandments.


If the noble Viscount will allow me to intervene, I would remind the Committee that we are under no obligation to obey the Ten Commandments: they have been superseded.


It would take me a long time to answer the noble Lord on that.

I understood the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, to say that it was no business of the Government to legislate on morals. Frequently we have Bills in which we legislate on morals; but the point is that here the taxpayer is being asked to pay for something that the great majority of people in this country do not themselves do. Certainly they do not do it when they are at university. They do not expect to have a mistress provided and paid for. I cannot follow that line of reasoning, either. I conclude by saying that if this measure goes through it really is a subsidy on sex. I warmly support the Amendment.


I had no intention of speaking on this Amendment. I, too, belong to a Party with some com-passion—I hope that I have some myself. I am greatly implicated in this matter because I am pro-chancellor of a university. All I wish to point out is that we are not dealing only with a question of morals and sex. In the university to which I have the honour to belong everything was perfectly peaceful and quiet; the students were doing what they had been accepted to do; they were not worrying about "sit-ins" and such-like until postgraduate students arrived. Those postgraduate students immediately started to stir up trouble. It was doubtful whether they meant to come for a postgraduate course or whether they came for ulterior motives. Some of the younger generation were led astray. Last term there was a "sit-in" for some consider-able period in a building that bears my name.

I should like just to warn your Lord-ships, before you allow a promiscuous society as well as a permissive society, that you are dealing not only with a sexual problem but with something that is breaking down the disciplines in the universities. I ask your Lordships to realise that, if we are to control the new, younger entry, if they are to be allowed to get on with their studies in the way they desire, it is important not to pander too much to those who do not show quite the restraint in their morals that we should all like to see and who perhaps set a bad example to the younger generation, who are the ones that really matter to us in the future. I am sorry to have to say this to your Lordships; but I should like, having had the experience of going through these worries and troubles in university, to say: "Please be careful what you do."


I supported this clause on Second Reading, and I did having looked at this matter carefully and having made inquiries. To my simple reading, which clearly was not shared by others of your Lordships, the prime concern was to deal with those situations where a student had, as a result of a relationship with a woman, acquired a child for whom he wished to hold responsibility. I still think that the sum of the debate, which has been concerned so generally with students and their mistresses, is unfair to the intention of those who devised the Bill. I fully recognise that we are dependent upon the word of the noble Baroness on the Front Bench, and subsequently on the regulations which will be issued by the Department, as to how this particular clause will be administered. But to suggest that this clause is really concerned with making it possible for any student to apply for a grant for a mistress seems to me, in the context of what we were told from the Front Bench, a little excessive, and I think it has biased the judgment of the House. We have to recognise that we are pro-viding out of the taxpayers' money for these cases, so you cannot say it is a matter of not using the taxpayers' money.

The difficulty about Lord Aberdare's Amendment—I am not unattracted by it, because I have no desire whatsoever to approve of a general lying around— is, for me, this distinction between a child for whom a grant may be made through the Department of Education and Science and the mother who, presum-ably (after all, a student's life is rather short), will need assistance and will have to go to the Department of Social Security. As I understood the Bill in this sense, it would put this particular group of students under the particular care of the Department of Education and Science, who would deal pretty searchingly with them. It may be that in some cases they would say, "No, you had better go off and earn some money." But it would be wrong to insist that this should always happen. I do not think we can afford necessarily to send every student away to earn his living because this has happened. I still feel that, so long as proper regulations are issued, this particular clause does not suggest an approval of immorality or permissiveness, but deals with this problem in a way that can be acceptable.

4.4 p.m.


I am very happy to follow the right reverend Prelate who has just spoken, because I agree with every word he has said. I have listened most carefully to the promoters of this Amendment but not one of them has convinced me, because it seems to me that this is not about a principle at all; it is about procedure. So long as we stick to the facts we shall not go very far wrong, but if we take off into a kind of limbo of righteousness it simply becomes impossible.

I think there have been three ways of dealing with the problems. One is by the Supplementary Benefits Commission, but the Commission do not wish to exercise this discretionary function any longer. I am sorry that they do not wish to deal with it, but there it is and we have to accept it. The local authorities also find this discretionary function distasteful, and I think we must take that into account. The fact is that this clause does not alter anything that has been dealt with so far. It does not alter the arrangements for students' dependants allowances except to standardise them. Grants are both mandatory and discretionary for local education authorities. In cases of hard-ship they are discretionary, as they have been when dealt with by the Supplementary Benefits Commission.

I am against this Amendment and support the Government wholeheartedly. Like so many people on Second Reading, I was influenced by the lurid Press reports about the decline and fall of British morals, aided and abetted, they said, by Government legislation. But this was due to my ignorance, and now that I know about the contents of the Bill and this particular clause, it has completely cleared up all my reservations. My noble friend Lady Phillips was so lucid and clear in her explanation that when she had finished speaking I had absolutely no reservations about it. I think my noble friend will explain to us again to-day the reason for the clause which, I must stress, is a procedural one, without any change in what was previously handled by the Supplementary Benefits Commission and the local education authorities. This is really what we have to stress. I am sorry that the Supplementary Benefits Commission are giving up dealing with this, because recently I had occasion to refer a hardship case to them and I was very impressed by the care and humanity with which they dealt with it.

Anyway, what is all the fuss about? I have become familiar with the discourses of ray noble friend Lady Summerskill on the "permissive society". Today's discourse is coupled with a kind of nostalgic comparison of the youth of to-day with the youth of the 'twenties and 'thirties. Does anyone believe that the Government have introduced this clause with the intention of subsidising sex and encouraging promiscuity among students? Certainly I do not. This is what is known in filming technique as a "blow up". We are dealing with a handful of students, and the Government have the welfare of the children in mind. The rules for these particular cases of hard-ship are absolutely clear. In this complex and troubled world, with its whole spectrum of married and unmarried love and the consequences and welfare problems which they incur, and which no Government, or Government Department, can ignore, one cannot just sermonise and continue to draw on this fund of righteous indignation which we all have in reserve. The Government have to deal with all the complicated cases of hardship. That is what they are doing in this clause, and it is a far cry from the accusations of encouraging promiscuity and immorality which have been hurled at them.


I intervene with great reluctance, but I was appalled when listening to what was being said this afternoon at the utter hypocrisy of what is going on. It is utter hypocrisy. What we are talking about are facts which exist; facts which are manifest; facts which are plain; facts which have existed since Heloise and Abelard. We are not talking about something that is new in student life; we are recognising the facts of student life. If you think you are encouraging promiscuity in student life, promiscuity has always existed. What we are doing is trying to curb the consequences of promiscuity; we are not encouraging it. If we had any sense at all we should be restricting promiscuity by making it unnecessary for us to provide for the children of students who have to live in what would have been, in other definitions, constrained celibacy. But that has never existed, so what we are talking about is recognising something which is a truth, an absolute. What we are talking about to-day is a transfer of what some people are calling moral responsibility from one Department to another. Let us recognise that as an absolute fact. Let us see it as it really is, and do not let us go on pretending that this is some-thing which involves morals to a large degree. I follow the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley on that point.

This is something which we have to recognise is not a product of the per-missive society. We have been shutting our eyes to the fact that the permissive society has existed in a generation of students who are not in a position to get married at the age when I got married. Let us be quite clear about that, and do not let us fool ourselves into thinking that this is something which is profoundly and significantly destructive of society. What we are doing is recognising the nature of the society in which we live, and I hope that we are going to improve its nature.

4.12 p.m.


A good deal has been said about morals and hypocrisy, but I should like to bring the discussion back to education which is a subject with which I have begun to get involved. It is a fact, which is confirmed if one questions primary school teachers, that most of the children who find it hardest to learn, particularly in our under-privileged areas, come from bad or broken homes where the family back-ground is unsatisfactory. It is the flux of insecure family relationships, it is parents who will not talk to their children sensibly—probably because they are not happy themselves—which produce children who become maladjusted and a problem to our society. I believe that the cure for this is to be found in encouraging better family relationships.

This is not a matter of morals, although it has that aspect; this is a matter of a sincere approach—and, may I say, not a hypocritical one—to the sociological problems of our time. There are enormous numbers of broken families and children with problems. And as the noble Lord, Lord Cornwallis, suggested, we must be very careful before we put in our legislation any measures which increase the fluidity and the flux of our social relationships, on which this unhappiness and these educational problems are really based.

Therefore I say to your Lordships that we really have to choose whether we are now going to pass legislation which helps to dissolve the family, or whether we are going to have legislation which encourages the family relationship as a reliable and durable background. For this reason, I have great sympathy with the Amendment, and I shall support it wholeheartedly. I suspect that there is very often a good deal of hypocrisy in some of the arguments—though not all—which we have heard, but I ask your Lordships not to think that I am trying to impugn the sincerity of those who have spoken from the Government Benches. But I urge that we should take another look at this problem and that we should think' very carefully before we undermine the family.

It is perfectly true that there are probably not so many cases like this today, but I suggest that if a clause such as this is passed there will in future be a great many more. Therefore we ought to look at this in a dynamic and not in a static way. I do not agree with some of the arguments which have been used in this connection. May I say that I particularly dislike the Party atmosphere which has been introduced into this debate. I think that there should be a non-Party approach to this matter. I suggest that we should vote for this Amendment, with which I have every sympathy.


I should like to make one point. This is a Christian country and we ought to carry through whatever we do according to the Christian faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ was himself sacrificed because he would not change, but it appears that a great many people who say, "Yes, I am a Christian" are quite willing to make exceptions which may be more convenient, instead of really continuing to be a Christian and making Christianity the main thought in their lives. I have heard nothing said about Christianity in this debate, but I have always considered that Christianity and the way we practise it should be our first consideration.

4.16 p.m.


Some few years ago I was involved in the Church of England in the production of a Report dealing especially with the state of the illegitimate child. It was called Fatherless by Law, and the noble Baroness will remember it. The purpose of that Report was to encourage a sense of responsibility in those, so to speak, illegitimate fathers who had any desire or intention to exercise such responsibility. With that in mind, I originally felt that I should have to support the clause in the Bill. I fully understood that what was mainly at stake was an administrative matter, and I never thought for one moment that it was the purpose of the clause to let loose a great flood of licentious behaviour.

Of course, it is very easy to see hypocrisy if we start from the other side, but I am trying to stand aside from any of those emotional stances. Had the illegitimate child been left to run the risks of not being supported, I should have had to oppose the Amendment. But, as I see it, the Amendment protects the illegitimate child; and we all agree that, whoever is at all responsible for the situation, it is not the child. Therefore, following on the line I took during the debates on Fatherless by Law, I entirely support the provision made for the child. I should personally have been satisfied if the mother also was protected.

I think there might have been some-thing to be said for this whole subsection coming into effect if indeed there was an illegitimate child. For one thing, there is the child to provide for and, furthermore, it would suggest at any rate a certain degree of stability in the liaison; it must have lasted at least nine months, unless that has been altered by now. Therefore, there would be some kind of stability which might justify the first part of the subsection. But I feel that the Amendment gives us an opportunity to protect the child, without actually putting on paper in an educational Bill that any laison of this kind can be provided for by law.

We are told that regulations will be made, but I do not know what sort of regulations they can be. What I am quite certain about is that if they were applied in any austere manner, there would immediately be a "sit-in" and very little opportunity to carry them out in the way intended. So that, without committing myself finally until I have heard the reply, I must give warning that I am inclined to support the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill.


To satisfy the noble Lord who said that he hoped this matter would be dealt with on a non-Party basis, may I say that I know that the Bishops are in a category by themselves but the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, who is alleged to be, so far as Bishops are concerned, on the extreme Right, is now on the extreme left. In any case, neither of us has any right to be on this Bench at all. It may be of interest to your Lordships to know that on this matter I find myself agreeing with the Bishop of Leicester. I came here this afternoon to support the Government, but the speech by my friend (when I say "my friend", I mean my personal friend, who is also a priest, Lord Beaumont) has pushed me on to the other side. I am sure that that is the last thing he wished to do. I may have heard him wrongly, but he said that the Government ought to have no attitudes on these matters; that it was wrong for us to have moral attitudes. I simply do not believe that.

Only last week I was talking not to students but to a group of young people in South London who are a great problem to the country at the present moment. I do not want to say too much, because I hope my meetings with them will go on, but one of them boasted to me of the fact that he was responsible for four abortions this year, involving four different girls. Are we really indifferent to that? Have the Government no view on these matters? Are they completely indifferent how our young people behave? Or do we believe in a certain attitude to-wards life; an attitude of responsibility— I should like to say a Christian way of living, though others here, humanists, would find other words. I believe that people in all Parties, of all persuasions here, if pressed, would accept that we do believe in a responsible attitude to-wards life. I may be doing my good friend Lord Beaumont a grave injustice on this matter, but I would repudiate altogether what seemed to me to be the neutral attitude towards this problem which he thinks the Government ought to adopt.

Why I now think I shall vote for the Amendment, unless I can be persuaded when the noble Baroness replies, is be-cause those who are involved are not going to suffer as a result. There will be ways and means of meeting their need. But, unlike what the Government want, we shall not be doing something which will give the impression that this is a matter to which we are indifferent. At least I can say this: that although to some of us our undergraduate days were long ago—and we were reminded by my noble friend Lady Gaitskell just recently that what happened in the 1920s and the 1930s was long ago—before I became Bishop of Southwark I was for some years Vicar of University Church, Cam-bridge, and it is quite recently that I have been in touch with the under-graduate world. Indeed, some of the sons and daughters of your Lordships were my friends. I think it would be true to say, in relation to the many problems that confront undergraduates, that while they do not want to be preached at and do not want us to be pompous, nevertheless, if we can be sensitive to their problems and at the same time maintain those standards which enhance an atti- tude of responsibility towards other human beings, it is of real help to them. Therefore, unless the noble Baroness can convince me otherwise, I intend to vote for the Amendment.

4.24 p.m.


My noble friend Baroness Phillips has asked me to reply. I do not suppose for a moment that I shall ex-plain the matter any more lucidly than she did, but it may be right that a man should express a view as well as a woman. I do not know how many noble Lords in this Committee know Mr. Short, but I think he will be the most surprised man in the country in the morning to know that he is sponsoring a Bill the effect of which will be to make the tax-payer subsidise sex in the universities; that he is putting forward a Bill which will enable any woman student of 21 to get a grant for a lover, and that what he is doing will affect the number of abortions which take place in the universities. That is to say nothing of what people abroad will think when they read the Bill. Nobody can think these things from reading the Bill. They may think them from reading what the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, has said, but nobody could think them from reading the Bill. There is nothing in the Bill which will enable any university student to obtain any grant which he can-not receive now, or to obtain any larger grant than he may receive now.

Surely, as responsible legislators we ought to see, first, what is the present position; secondly, what the Bill does; and, thirdly, what the Amendment would do. Of course, when most of us were of university age, apart from some very clever person who had won a scholar-ship, undergraduates were more or less confined, for financial reasons, to the sons of men who could afford to support them while they were at university. Now things are otherwise; and I must make it plain that I do not altogether agree with the view of my noble friend Lady Summer-skill that there must be something wrong if young people to-day get advantages that we did not have. I believe that most people to-day think it right that if a man, when at school, has gained the educational qualifications entitling him to a place at a university, then, if he can find a place and is accepted, to the ex-tent that his parents cannot support him the State should.

This has been a fairly recent development. The Anderson Report was published only in 1960, and our present mandatory grants come from Section 1 of the Education Act 1962. As your Lordships know, there are three kinds of grant. There are, first, grants which it is mandatory for the local education authority to make; secondly, grants which they have a discretion to make; and, thirdly, the long stop, grants from the Supplementary Benefits Commission. The mandatory grants are, of course, for a student him-self. If he has obtained a place, then the local education authority have to provide him with a grant on which to live, less, of course, whatever parental allowance there may be. If he is married, then he gets a grant to cover his wife and children, if there are children, provided, first, that the marriage took place before the course started and, secondly, that either he is over 25 (or, in the case of a woman student, 21) or he has supported himself for three years. Those, it will be ob-served, are very rigid conditions. Those were the only conditions, and they still are the only conditions, on which it was mandatory upon a local education authority to make a dependants' grant.

It was soon found that this was causing hardship in a number of cases. It was considered by the then Conservative Government, and they had a choice. When I say "hardship", I mean it was found that for financial reasons too many were having to come down in the middle of a university course, involving considerable waste to the State and, of course, a waste in their own lives. The Conservative Government saw that there were two alter-natives: one was to make the mandatory conditions less strict, and the other was to keep the mandatory conditions as they were and to confer on local education authorities a discretion to meet cases of hardship. In June, 1964, the right honourable Member for Marylebone, Mr. Hogg, announced in the other place that the Government were contemplating regulations on those lines.

The discretionary allowances which have been granted have depended on what local education authorities have regarded as cases of hardship, but, as I understand it, broadly speaking, the main test they have applied is: "If we do not give a discretionary grant, is it virtually necessary that either this man or this woman will not be able to go to a university at all, or, if they are in the middle of a course, they will have to come down? "What is the sort of case in which this discretion has been applied? First, if you are married and you are 24 but have supported yourself for only two and a half years, you do not qualify under the strict mandatory conditions, because you are not either 25 or have supported yourself for three years; so you do not qualify for any mandatory allowance and unless you are given the discretionary one you cannot take up the place you have been offered at the university. That is the sort of case in which the local authority thought that there was hardship.

Secondly, there are the cases in which men have an illegitimate child; and almost always they marry at once. What is to happen there? There is no discretionary grant. Unless there is a discretionary grant, this means that a man who may have completed two years out of a three-year course will have to come down because he can no longer afford to stay at the university. Most courses are three-year courses; though a man may be studying medicine on a five or six years course. It may be that most of his time at the university would be a great waste of the State's money unless he was given a discretionary grant.

The third case is quite a common case nowadays when we have to accept the habit of earlier marriage. It is where the wife is at work and they agree not to have any children until the husband is qualified and earning. This is not at all an uncommon arrangement, and it is not confined to university students. I remember a man who had not had much advantage in life but whose great ambi-tion—he was a young man—was to be a barrister. He had married when he was young, and his wife entirely maintained him while he was taking his Bar examinations. He became qualified; he became a barrister, and a student and pupil with a member of my Chambers. Then when he had been a pupil for six months the fatal thing happened: his wife became pregnant; and, of course, there was no alternative but for him to give up the Bar, and he became a personnel officer in a limited company. I do not know what has happened to him now.

That is quite a common cause of a discretionary grant where the man has gone to university, is married, knowing that if he marries after he starts he will not be able to get any grant; but that because his wife is going to work he will not need it. They do not intend to have any children until he has finished the university course; but unintentionally they do. It is cases of this sort in which discretionary grants are made. It will be observed that they are all cases in which the people concerned are married. These are not grants to try to split up marriages. They take into account that marriages must be kept together. There are about 1,000 discretionary cases, and since there are 162 local education authorities it means that each makes a discretionary grant in about six cases a year. Of the total of 1,000 cases 990 concern married couples. There are about 10 very exceptional cases a year where, in their wisdom, the local education authorities have thought it right to make a discretionary grant even though there has been no marriage. I am told that it is almost unheard of for this to be done unless there are children. But again, the authorities are thinking of keeping families together rather than parting them.

Suppose that a woman marries, stupidly, much too young, and finds that her partner is quite unsuited to her. They part company and the husband goes off with another woman. Later, she may meet a man whom she wants to marry, but she is a Catholic and there can be no question of divorce. They live together. If by that time she is only 25, and he may be 25, if he wants to do a university course is one to say, in that sort of case: "No, if you are foolish enough to fall in love with a Catholic and have been already married, then you cannot have a university education."? There are the exceptional cases. It is ridiculous to describe any of this as a grant for mistresses. Nor is there any-thing in the present position, or in the Bill, to enable a young woman, whether she is over 21 or younger, to get a grant for a lover. This is a complete misrepresentation of what the existing position is.

As to the long-stop, the Supplementary Benefits Commission, they have come into this only reluctantly and very com-plainingly. They point out that they cannot be made to do this: it is dis-cretionary, and in some cases they have paid only in default of legislation of this kind. They have to take into account whether a woman is living with a man for the purpose of deciding whether they should pay her less. I think that some suggestion was made at one time that the Supplementary Benefits Commission were doing something immoral in allowing for cohabitation. But they have to allow for that, because a woman who is cohabiting is paid less than if she is not; for the simple reason that it costs more for two people to live separately than together. If the Com-mission did not pay less in the case of cohabitation, then an unmarried couple living together would do better than a married couple would do.

The reasons why the Government put forward this Bill on this point are three. The first is that they have found that local authorities who have to exercise this discretion in the case of hardship vary very much in the way they exercise it. So, from the point of view of a student, it depends on whether he wants a place in a university from this county or from that county. This must happen where discretion depends on hardship and is vested entirely in the local education authority. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Leatherland is in his place at the moment. I thought of him because a local education authority can give grants to enable students to become qualified for any walk of life, be it doctor, be it lawyer; but, of course, since it is a discretionary matter, they do not all do the same thing. Essex, unless it has recently changed, is one of the only two or three local education authorities in the country which is quite ready to help anybody to qualify for anything except to be a lawyer.

A NOBLE LORD: Quite right!


"Quite right!", I am told; but I do not know the cause of this. If you happen to become a student of an Inn of Court, it makes a good deal of difference if you happen to be in one local authority which in those circumstances would give you a grant for those purposes.

Therefore, in the first place, the Government thought it would be better for the Ministry to exercise this discretionary jurisdiction so that it would be exercised uniformly and, second, because the Sup-plementary Benefits Commission say, "This is not a matter for us at all. One of our basic principles is, 'If you want anything from us and you are able to work you must make yourself available for work.' We have protested all the time at making any grants at all in the case of students because this is not in our line. This is a matter for the education authorities. In the case of everybody else, we say, 'No, you must make your-self available for work'. We understand why the students come, but it is contrary to our principles. This ought to be done by the education authorities and not by us." The third reason was that there was a good deal of batting to and fro. Students applying to the local education authority for discretionary grants were told to try the Supplementary Benefits Commission, and the Supplementary Benefits Com-mission would tell them to try the local authority. Those are the reasons for the change.

I appreciate the effect of this Amendment, which is that where there is a discretionary grant (and in most cases, of course, if the couple are not married) the children will be provided for by the education authorities; the woman will get nothing. The reason that she will get nothing is because the Supplementary Benefits Commission will not give her anything unless the student makes him-self available for work. It would be practical to ask: what is to happen? Here is this man with a woman and two children. He is to get a grant to maintain the two children. Is the woman to go away? Is the intention to break up the whole thing? How is he to attend lectures and look after two small children if the woman is not there? The only effect of this will be that, as I say, the Supplementary Benefits Commission will not pay, as I understand it, unless the student is ready to go out to work. After all, that is the basis on which they help people.

I invite the Committee to say that this really has been a complete storm in a tea cup. The existing regulations—this thousand discretionary cases—are perfectly sensible ones; the perfectly sensible test being that because this man, although married, is not 25, or has not done his three years, he cannot go to a university unless he has some sort of discretionary grant to support his wife. When people get married during a course—which they ought not to do—either the student has to leave the university, or he has some form of discretionary grant. These 10-odd cases are all, I understand, very unusual cases in which the authorities have thought that it will be a hardship, even though the man is not married, if he does not get some form of grant. The object of the clause on this point is simply to enable the Ministry to achieve greater uniformity in the way of these discretionary grants, so that what a man gets does not depend on where he lives; and to relieve the Supplementary Benefits Commission of what has for the last five years been a matter of some embarrassment for them. They have always taken the view, "We should never have been brought into this at all, because it really contradicts our basic principle that the youth must be free to work; and while we understand why students are not free to work, this is not the sort of case with which we have to deal, and it really ought all to be left to the education authorities." It is on those grounds that I would respectfully ask the Committee to reject the Amendment and to leave the clause as it is.


May I ask my noble and learned friend one small question, because I am sure he did not intend to be unfair? He said that there was nothing about a girl of 21. Of course it is not in the Bill; it is all in the regulations. But perhaps he has not read them. On page 5 of the regulations it states that the age of the girl who could take a lover is 21.


If my noble friend will allow me to say so, with great respect, that is not so at all. The mandatory allowance is granted to married people if the man is 25 or, in the case of a girl, if she is 21; or, if they have not reached those ages, if they have supported themselves for three years. There is nothing in the existing regulations or in the Bill to provide that a girl can take a lover, or vice versa, at the expense of the State.


We have had a very wide-ranging debate on this Amendment, and I think the time has arrived to come to a decision, since views are very strongly held on both sides of the Committee. We have had some speeches that have gone rather wide of this Amendment. We have had some differing views from the Benches of the Bishops; we have had a new "Tablet" from "Mount Soper" with an inalienable right to regular established cohabitation. But none of this has altered the fact that those of us who support this Amendment feel very strongly that we are meeting all the points that we ought to meet in allowing the Department of Education to make proper provision by regulations to take care of students where they have dependent children.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor admitted that in very many —nearly all—of the cases where supplementary allowances are given, and where the students are not married, it is the children who are concerned. If I may

take up the point that he made (and it was made also by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Lincoln), surely the regulations must take account of the fact of a student who has an illegitimate child to the extent of providing not only for the food that the child will consume but also for the fact that someone will have to look after the child while the student is pursuing his studies. Therefore surely, sufficient care must be taken of the child to ensure that if there is an unmarried mother living and looking after the child, there is some degree of support for her, too. I cannot see any difficulty here. All we are seeking to do is to take right out of the Bill, and out of the regulations, any provision for students who are cohabiting together, without children being involved; and if there is hardship we still think that this should go into the social security net.

4.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 119; Not-Contents, 72.

Aberdare, L. Elliot of Harwood, Bs. McCorquodale of Newton, L.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. MacLeod of Fuinary, L.
Ailwyn, L. Falkland, V. Macpherson of Drumochter, L.
Albemarle, E. Forester, L. Mansfield, E.
Allerton, L. Fortescue, E. Massereene and ferrard, V.
Ampthill, L. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Merrivale, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Gray, L. Milverton, L.
Balerno, L. Grenfell, L. Molson, L.
Barrington, V. Gridley, L. Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Bath and Wells, L.Bp. Grimston of Westbury, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Guest, L. Monsell, V.
Belstead, L. Guildford, L.Bp. Morrison, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Hankey, L. Morton of Henryton, L.
Bessborough, E. Hertford, M. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Bethell, L. Hodson, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Murray of Newhaven, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, Bs. Hylton-Foster, Bs. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Caccia, L. Ilford, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Camoys, L. Jacques, L. Oakshott, L.
Chichester, L.Bp. Jellicoe, E. Reglan, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Jessel, L. Rankeillour, L.
Clwyd, L. Killearn, L. Rathcavan, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Kilmany, L. Rathcreedan, L.
Cornwallis, L. Kilmarnock, L. Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Cowley, E. Lansdowne, M. St. Aldwyn, E.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. St. Helens, L.
Craigmyle, L. Leicester, L.Bp. Salisbury, M.
Crathorne, L. Lichfield, L.Bp. Sandford, L.
Cromartie, E. Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Sempill, Ly.
Daventry, V. Liverpool, E. Shannon, E.
Derwent, L. Lothian, M. Somers, L.
Dilhorne, V. Loudoun, C. Southwark, L.Bp.
Dundee, E. Lucan, E. Stamp, L.
Ebbisham, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Stocks, Bs.
Egremont, L. MacAndrew, L. Stradbroke, E.
Strang, L. Swanborough, Bs. Thurlow, L.
Strange of Knokin, Bs. Swansea, L. Vivian, L.
Strathclyde, L. Swinton, E. Wells-Pestell, L.
Suffield, L. Teynham, L. Wynford, L.
Summerskill, Bs. Thorneycroft, L. Yarborough, E.
Addison, V. Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.) Plummer, Bs.
Amulree, L. Garner, L. Rea, L.
Annan, L. Garnsworthy, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Archibald, L. Gowrie, E. Rochester, L.Bp.
Ardwick, L. Henderson, L. Royle, L.
Aylestone, L. Henley, L. Sainsbury, L.
Balogh, L. Hilton of Upton, L. [Teller.] St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Kennet, L. Segal, L.
Beswick, L. Kilbracken, L. Serota, Bs.
Birk, Bs. Leatherland, L. Shackleton, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Blyton, L. Lincoln, L.Bp. Soper, L.
Boothby, L. Lindgren, L. Sorensen, L.
Bowles, L. [Teller.] Listowel, E. Stow Hill, L.
Brockway, L. Llewelyn-Davies, L. Swaythling, L.
Brown, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, Bs. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Champion, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Wade, L.
Chorley, L. McLeavy, L. Walston, L.
Crook, L. Maelor, L. Williamson, L.
Delacourt-Smith, L. Mais, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Meston, L. Winterbottom, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Nunburnholme, L. Wise, L.
Evans of Hungershall, L. Ogmore, L. Wootton of Abinger, Bs.
Fiske, L. Pargiter, L. Wright of Ashton wider Lyne, L.
Fulton, L. Phillips, Bs.
Gaitskell, Bs.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

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


I move the deletion of this clause in an exploratory spirit. It is not at all my intention to divide the House, but it is a matter of a certain amount of educational interest. On Second Reading the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, said: We are convinced that students should be encouraged to complete their course before they take on the responsibility of a wife or children."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14/4/70; col. 353.] She went on to give a reason to explain that remark in what I should call (if she will allow me to say so) a complete non sequitur. She went on to say: For this reason we intend that any allowances paid to students in respect of their dependants should be seen to come from a different source and be paid in a different form … At an earlier stage she had explained the conditions governing the payment of dependants' allowances as requiring a student to be married and over 25 before his course began. Many students who get married and have dependants during a course are in their twenties, and a few who may be following a long undergraduate course may be older.

What I should like to know is to what extent the student population of this country is at the present time married. It was interesting to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Stocks, say that although she was engaged, she abstained from marriage until she had taken her degree. It was exactly the same in the case of my father, who got engaged when he was quite young but did not marry until he was qualified as a doctor. I find it extremely difficult to understand how anyone can be a serious whole-time student who is at the same time living a married life. There have always been exceptional cases where someone who has started in one profession and wishes to change to another goes up to the university and is already married, but for the ordinary student to be married during the time that he is really hard at work on academic studies seems to me to be an appalling handicap to any real excellence in scholarship.

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that we must accept the modern idea of marriage at a very early age. I do not know that I do accept it; and certainly I would say that where public money is going to be spent upon education, the fact that a student is already married, and presumably largely preoccupied with married life, is really a reason why a grant should not be given to him except in certain rather special cases. The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, will see that I wholly reject his view that provided a young person has passed certain examinations at school that automatically justifies his being given a university education, if there are other reasons why it is unlikely that the money is going to be usefully spent.

One of the opponents of the previous Amendment (I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder) spoke about there being an inalienable right to education quite regardless of the conduct of the student. I am quite sure that that is not the view of Her Majesty's Government. The present Secretary of State for Education and Science has certainly indicated plainly that it is not his view, or that of the Department. So it is that I gave notice to the Minister that I thought that on his clause it would be valuable if we had a short debate in which she could indicate what are the views of the Government and of local authorities upon this matter; and in what way they are seeking to give effect to their view, with which I am in complete agreement, that students should be encouraged to complete their course before they take on the responsibility of wife or children. I beg to move.


I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Molson, for his courtesy in giving me notice of the comments that he was going to make in his speech in moving this Amendment. I do not wish at this point to repeat the clear exposition that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor gave of the ways in which the awards are made to students, because the noble Lord will know that as well as I do. I wonder whether it will comfort the noble Lord if I give him the few figures that I have —and I am sorry that I am unable to give him a full set of figures at such short notice.

The available estimates suggest that the proportion of married students with awards from public funds is as low as 1 to 2 per cent. of the total number of award holders. I hope the noble Lord will accept that this bears out the fact that students are encouraged to complete their studies before they marry. I hope that he will agree with me that if a man marries, or is already married (and a noble Lord who is not now present made a point about stable backgrounds), it would be wrong not to assist this young couple if the young man wishes to con-tinue with his studies. The estimated 1,000 students who are being assisted under the existing schemes, which Clause will replace, will represent about one-third of the 1 per cent. of the student population. So these can be reduced down to really small numbers. But they will exist, bearing in mind what my noble and learned friend has said about young people these days tending to marry earlier. The latest figures of the ages of men undergraduates show that two-thirds of all men and three-quarters of all women undergraduates at the universities are under 21, and about 6 out of every 10 postgraduate students are under 25. In relation to that there is this small percentage of those who are married.

But one has to recognise that this matter needs to be dealt with, and that is why this clause is in the form that it is. I think perhaps, in view of the fact that this will be an amended clause, that some of the arguments now fall. I hope the noble Lord will accept that the authorities have a sense of responsibility in encouraging young people not to marry but nevertheless, if this happens, then to assist them to have some kind of stable back-ground.

I hope that this explanation satisfies the noble Lord. I am sorry that I cannot give him fuller figures, but the figures I have given will show that this is a very small proportion. I was speaking to a group of young people last weekend—and I must say that some of your Lordships must be unlucky in the students that you meet. I thought they were so sensible, well-balanced and compassionate that I should have been delighted to have been among them. They certainly did not appear to be at all irresponsible. But perhaps I have been lucky in meeting the right ones. At any rate, the married students are in a very small proportion.


I should like to thank the noble Baroness for giving us those figures. They are extremely satisfactory. I therefore ask leave to with-draw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [Exclusion of postgraduate courses from giants under section 2(1) of Education Act 1962]:

5.10 p.m.

LORD ABERDARE moved Amendment No. 4:

After Clause 3, insert the following new clause:

Right of appeal to Secretary of State

". It shall be the right of any teacher with ten or more years of teaching experience, who is threatened with loss of employment as a result of Schools Regulations made under the Education Act 1944 as amended, to appeal to the Secretary of State, who, after consultation with the appropriate local education authority and teachers' association, may make such exceptions to the Regulations in individual cases as he in his discretion may think fit."

The noble Lord said: This Amendment raises a quite different subject. As this is a Miscellaneous Provisions Bill, I have taken the opportunity to put down an-other miscellaneous provision. To keep things in order, I have also put down an Amendment to the Long Title to cover this matter. The object of the Amendment is to meet some difficulties and injustices that have arisen as a result of the Department of Education's circular, 15/68. This circular, in paragraph 19, laid down that no temporary or occasional teachers could be employed after August 31, 1970. As I said in moving the first Amendment to this Bill, no one quarrels with the objective of a fully qualified teaching profession. This is a highly praiseworthy ideal. But in this case, as in the case of teachers of the mentally handicapped, surely it is folly, at a time when we are short of teachers, and when the teachers unions are campaigning vigourously for a reduction in class sizes, to dispense with the services of teachers who, though they may not on paper be technically qualified, have given excellent service to their schools for many years.

It is not easy to generalise, but I would draw your Lordships' attention to one case which is typical and which was raised on an Adjournment Debate in another place on March 18 by my honourable friend the Member for Banbury. This was the case of a Mrs. Green. She taught in a primary school at Ascot-under-Wychwood, in Oxfordshire, from 1933 to 1939. During the war, because her husband was on war service, she had to leave to look after her children; but she returned again in 1947, and she is still teaching at that primary school. She is 54 years old and has had 29 years' teaching experience. She is an extremely good teacher, is deeply loved by the children she teaches, and she is highly regarded by the parents in this tiny village. Of the 285 inhabitants, 212 have signed a petition asking that she may stay on. The school governors want her to stay on; the local education authority wants her to stay on. But because of this instruction the Secretary of State is, unfortunately, powerless. When the matter was raised in another place, the only answer that came from the Government was that she should take a course for mature students. At 54 years of age, with 29 years' experience this is really asking a bit much.

The case of Mrs. Green is only one among many. There are some 3,000 teachers in this plight. It seems to me that it will be a terrible waste of manpower if we; throw them out of teaching at this moment. In the other professions this has never happened, There have been various instances where other professions have decided to become a fully trained profession. Those members of the profession, though untrained, who were working in it at the time of the takeover, were absorbed and the new regulations applied only from that date onwards. I would instance the dentists, veterinary surgeons, architects, as well as some of the professions supplementary to medicine, such as chiropody. In all these cases this has happened.

I have no quarrel with the objective, but I ask the Government not to dismiss these 3,000 teachers purely for paper reasons. I have endeavoured in this Amendment, which may well be imperfect in form, to allow these teachers to appeal to the Secretary of State. But I have made two stipulations about this appeal. First of all, it will apply only to teachers who have had at least ten years' experience, so that only the highly experienced teachers will be able to appeal. Secondly, I have inserted the provision that the Secretary of State shall consult with the appropriate local education authority and with the appropriate teachers' association. It might well be that in certain cases both the local education authority and the teachers' unions would be perfectly happy for a particular person, whoever it might be, to continue in the teaching profession. Surely it would be a great pity if, merely because of the rigid nature of the circular, this did not take place. I hope that the Government will accept the underlying principle of doing justice to individuals, many of whom, on every-body's admission, have given long and devoted service to teaching and are cap-able of further valuable service if their services are not terminated for these rather rigid paper reasons. I beg to move.


I rise to support this Amendment. I have every sympathy with the Government and the teachers' unions in their desire to strengthen the quality of the teaching profession, but the Government have moved a little too fast in this matter. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, said, it would have been better, rather than insisting on paper qualifications, if the Government had concentrated on making certain that the new entrants to the profession were adequately qualified. It seems to me that this idea of excluding a number of teachers who have been teaching for quite a long time—and reasonably satisfactorily, in most cases, because of course no one is compelled to employ a teacher—is moving too fast.

The machinery that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has devised for the clause seems to be very good. I realise that the Government may say that there is a very difficult problem raised over giving this kind of discretion. It seems to me that the burden is on the Government to exercise this kind of discretion. If the Government are going to move fast, not only to change and tighten up on the entry to the profession, but also now, after a certain number of years, to say: "The people who are teaching must be qualified or must stop teaching", they ought, for the sake of justice to the individuals, as well as for the sake of lowering the size of classes, to be prepared to make exceptions—difficult though this may be.

This is not a small matter. I travel about a country a good deal, visiting constituencies of various kinds in the interests of my Party. At question sessions I find that this matter is raised at almost every meeting I attend. Almost everywhere I go there seems to be knowledge of a hard case, or two hard cases. There is a very real case for the Government to think again on this matter, and I hope that they will do so.


Perhaps I should re-state the background—not at any length—for this recommendation was the result of the findings of a Working Party. It is rather important to note that the Working Party recommended that after a two-year transitional period ending on August 31, 1970, unqualified teachers should be allowed to continue in service only if they were, first, un-certificated or supplementary teachers. The qualification for "supplementary teacher", which frankly I had not struck until I went to Oxfordshire, was an extraordinarily low one. You had to be over 21 years of age, fit; and there was some other qualification, though I cannot at the moment recall what it was—probably it was that you must not be a Peer. Certainly it was a very low qualification, and one that I felt almost anybody could satisfy.

Then it went on to say that student teachers—in other words, people waiting to go into a training college—and instructors (and this is quite a large group that we have all met: people with particular qualifications, woodwork masters, typing instructors, and people of that kind) should be employed—and in the case of the instructors, only in their particular skills—only so long as no suitably qualified teacher was available for the purpose. The Secretary of State implemented these recommendations by a particular circular—not the one to which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, referred. Now that the end of this two-year period is approaching, the Department are getting strong representations about this group, which is not quite so large as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, suggested. He will be glad to know that. The figures available show that about 800 still seem to be in full-time service; and there are a number of part-timers.

The largest category, as the examples cited have shown, are the middle-aged women still teaching infants. Some of these will become qualified by long service—in other words, under the first category. Some with special skills will be able to stay as instructors. These are the alternatives presented. Some will become auxiliaries. The noble Lord quoted this particular circular, but I wonder whether he noticed paragraph 10, which says: Where an Authority wish to appoint as a qualified teacher a person with qualifications not listed in the Appendix, an application for the acceptance should be made to the Department. In other words, there is virtually still the right of appeal; and this is exercised and cases are decided on their merits.

The Lord President told the House of Commons in April that the Secretary of State was considering whether any relaxation of policy would be sensible—this was the point to which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, referred. The matter has accordingly been considered with great care. I have had talks with the Lord President about this, but he has concluded that it would not be right to suggest to the other parties that there should be any change in the current trend of policy. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has instanced other professions which have in fact done this, but I hope he will agree that under the three clauses I have mentioned most of the people concerned would be absorbed. In other words, we are not really faced with a group of people who would be un-employed. But I think that all professions are very chary of admitting willy-nilly those who do not have qualifications. This is reasonable.

I am sorry about Mrs. Green. I can-not help feeling that perhaps along the line she might have been able to avail herself. At 54 she returned to teaching. The opportunities in teaching for having a period in which you can qualify are quite remarkable. I have always said that no teacher need ever be out of date, or in fact unqualified. Local authorities are always very helpful in matters of this kind. I expect the course she took suited her for family reasons. But she will be absorbed, though not necessarily in exactly the same way as she is now. She has no qualifications at all. I felt that perhaps the noble Lord would cite a case of this kind, but I hope he will agree that it is not a strong enough case for inserting a new clause of this kind.


I thank the noble Baroness for that clear explanation. She mentioned the first part of paragraph 10 of this circular. Should the Oxfordshire local education authority wish to continue to employ Mrs. Green as a qualified teacher, with qualifications not listed in the Appendix, would they therefore be able to apply to the Department for the acceptance of her qualifications?


The onus is on the employer.


I am very grateful to the noble Baroness. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment at this stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Remaining clauses and Schedule agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendment.