HL Deb 10 March 1980 vol 406 cc548-632

3.4 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 Young.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Change of nomenclature]:

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Aberdare)

Clause 1, Amendment No. 1. I have to point out that if Amendment No. 1 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 2.

Baroness DAVID moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 6, leave out subsections (1) to (3) and insert— ("(1) For the purpose of removing any distinction between bodies constituted for primary schools and those constituted for secondary schools under subsection 1 of section 17 of the Education Act 1944 and for the purpose of ensuring all such bodies shall be known as bodies of governors, the enactments mentioned in Schedule 1 to this Act shall have effect with the amendments there specified, being amendments consequential on the provisions of this section.").

The noble Baroness said: My purpose in moving this amendment is to give a further boost to our excellent primary schools, putting them on a par with secondary schools by sending their articles of government also to the Secretary of State for approval. This Bill aims to give primary schools an increased status by changing the nomenclature, "managers "to "governors "and "rules of management "to "articles of government". But the changes proposed will be purely cosmetic and not of substance unless we put primary schools completely on the same footing as secondary.

I see no reason to differentiate between these equally important sectors of education. As there is nothing in this Bill about the powers of government, it would seem right that the articles of government which are the nearest to a description of the powers and duties of government that any authority has should have the blessing of the department and the Minister so that there is some overall and general and coherent view across the country. A central eye can keep a watch on an authority that may not carry out the expectations that this Bill raises, not to mention the many expectations raised by the present Secretary of State and the present Leader of the House of Commons when in opposition.

Speaking on the Taylor Report, Mr. St. John-Stevas, when Opposition spokesman for education, said: We therefore commend those sections of the report "—

that is the Taylor Report— which advocate greater powers for school governors. Parents, for example, would be much more likely to come forward as governors if they know they will have an effective say in the school's budget and curriculum". There is nothing in this Bill at all to suggest how this effective say will come about.

Dr. Rhodes Boyston, when answering the debate on this amendment when moved at Committee stage in another place, said that the Secretary of State could only veto the articles, or "bounce them ", as he put it. He said: To transfer the power to the Secretary of State would be totally against the philosophy we are forming of devolving power to the local authorities". He has not suggested that the articles of government of secondary schools should no longer be vetted, although he hinted that he might be willing to look at such an amendment if it were put down. I do not believe that it was, and I would prefer for those of primary schools to be vetted too.

So far as the philosophy goes of devolving power, we shall see if that philosophy is the guiding principle as we go through the Bill. It seems to me to come and go a bit. If governors are to feel that they are doing a worthwhile, useful and interesting job they must have some powers, and powers that they recognise as powers, because the sort of people you want will not give up their time to join a talking shop. They do not just want to pass splendid resolutions which might as well go straight into the wastepaper basket for all the attention that is paid to them, and they do not want to be a rubber stamp for the head or for the local authority.

Articles of government can confer powers and duties, and I have here the rules of management—that is, the articles of government to be. They spell out pretty clearly the duties of managers about the inspection and repair of school premises; the use to which the premises are put out of school hours and in the holidays; about the appointment and dismissal of the head; the appointment and dismissal of assistant teachers; the appointment of non-teaching staff; a section on organisation and curriculum which says, if a hit vaguely, where the responsibilities of the authority, the managers, and the head lie.

I should now like to quote a bit from the part on organisation and curriculum. This is the first section: The authority shall determine the educational character of the school and its place in the educational system of the county, and subject to the provisions of these rules and to the directions of the authority the managers shall have the general direction of the conduct of the school". There is then a section on the head's role. Then there is the following on the curriculum: All proposals and reports affecting the conduct and curriculum of a school shall he submitted to the managers. The chief education officer shall be furnished with a copy of any written report of major significance to the conduct of curricula at least seven days before they are considered by the managers". It is not exactly explicit, but there is some guidance. The DES, I believe, has model articles so I do not think that much extra work would be involved either at the LEA level or at the department if this amendment is accepted.

I was interested to discover that during the Committee stage of the Labour Bill of 1978 Miss Margaret Jackson, the Minister then in. charge, at first opposed this amendment, but she had second thoughts.

She said: However, since the Bill was drafted one or two articles of primary schools have been brought to my attention which would certainly not meet with the approval of any member of the committee in some of the stipulations. Therefore, if my honourable friend will withdraw his amendment, or even if he does not, 1 give my assurance that we will look at this matter carefully to see whether it will be possible—I think it will be possible—to include primary schools in the provision of the Bill". I hope the Minister in charge here today will be as obliging. Amendment No. 6 is consequential upon this one, and I beg to move.

Baroness YOUNG

I listened with great care to what the noble Baroness, Lady David, said on this important matter. She rightly said that this amendment—and, indeed, a sequence of amendments has been tabled so this subject will occur from time to time throughout our discussions on the Bill—is about the relationship between central and local government in education; this of course arises over a number of issues, but, as those of us who are involved in education know, education is a national system locally administered, and the relationship between the two parts of it involves a number of matters of principle, and of course involves discussion of a number of important points which will arise from time to time.

It is true that our general policy is that controls over local authorities should be reduced, and to that end as we come to debate certain clauses, particularly Clause 12, it will be seen that we are going a considerable way to meet some of the requests of local authorities in this regard. So far as these particular matters are concerned, local education authorities have been responsible for the rules of management of primary schools since 1944 and we do not believe there is an overwhelming reason why they should now be subject to some additional control as in the case of secondary schools, because they are now to have what will be called "articles of government "rather than "rules of management ", as before.

The noble Baroness also raised in speaking to these two amendments the much broader issue of the powers of governing bodies, and it will he clear from the Bill that we have not included anything on that subject at all. It is a matter on which it is very difficult to get a clear consensus as to what the powers of governing bodies should be, and we as a Government share the view of the previous Government that in the absence of this consensus, the present arrangements give plenty of scope to those who wish to exercise influence to do so, and we do not wish to make any changes at this particular time.

We of course believe in the importance of primary schools. The first years of a child's school life are absolutely crucial, and we recognise this by saying now in the Bill that we are proposing governing bodies for primary schools in recognition of the importance we attach to them. I hope therefore that with this explanation—that there is nothing against primary schools and indeed that our wish in this matter is to keep what we feel is the right relationship between central and local government—the noble Baroness will feel that the amendment, which I am in any event unable to accept, is unnecessary.


There is more behind the history of this proposal than the relationship between central and local government. The status of primary schools historically is that of schools for the working classes. The status of secondary schools is that of schools to which the middle class and professional people sent their children, and the differentiations that have been maintained in the forms of government reflect that. Times have changed and now a number of middle class and professional people send their children to primary schools. Nevertheless, the distinction historically was a distinction of class rather than a distinction of relationship between central and local authorities. It ran all through our education system; primary schools had teachers while secondary schools had schoolmistresses and schoolmasters. The whole of the educational system is tainted with this particular language and with these changes in organisation. I very much hope that the Committee will recommend that these distinctions are irrelevant to the climate of today and should be removed.


The Minister said there was nothing in the Bill about the powers of governing bodies, a point that was touched on by the noble Baroness, Lady David. Would it not be desirable for the Committee to direct its attention to this subject while we have the opportunity in debating this amendment? We seldom look at the powers of the governing bodies and if we let this opportunity pass during the proceedings on this Bill there may not be another chance of returning to it for many years.

I am rather disappointed that the noble Baroness did not say a little more about the existing powers of the governing bodies of primary schools so that we could have seen whether there were any matters of relevance in considering the amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady David, said their powers on curricula were quite extensive; she said that all proposals on curricula had to be submitted to the managers and I think she said these were subsequently looked at by the chief education officer. However, in the example she quoted she did not say whether the chief education officer had any veto over decisions that might be made by the managers.

This is not a purely academic matter because there was an occasion not long ago—noble Lords will doubtless remember it—when the managers of a particular primary school, I think in the ILEA area, departed very radically from the sort of curriculum we have come to expect from primary schools and, after a considerable period of disruption, the school had to be closed for a certain period and all the teachers were dismissed. I cannot remember exactly how it finished up, but that all had to do with the curriculum, and I therefore wonder whether we should pay a little more attention to this issue than we are apparently doing so far.

If the powers of the governing bodies are as extensive as they appear to have been in that instance, it would not make much difference whether the articles were approved by the local education authority or the Secretary of State. It would come to the same thing—that there might be conflict between the wishes of the parents who send their children to that particular school and the way it was conducted, which they might think was contrary to the interests of the children's education. So, apart from any removal of distinction, which I agree with the noble Baroness is an object of which we should approve, there is also the rather more fundamental question underlying the amendment which I hope the noble Baroness, Lady David, and the Minister will explore before we leave the clause.


With respect to the Minister, I do not think she has so far made a convincing case against the amendment. If we look first at the immediate issue, it can be defined in this way: as things now stand, the Secretary of State has to approve the articles of government for secondary schools but will not have to approve the articles of government, as they will now be called, for primary schools. Why is that distinction being made? The Minister pointed out that throughout the Bill there runs the question: how much freedom should he given to local authorities and what matters should come under the purview of the Secretary of State? I agree that one can argue this way and that as regards that point on every issue of education that arises, but why should there be a distinction here? The articles of government for secondary schools are apparently considered to be of such importance that the Secretary of State should approve them; but the articles of government for primary schools are not. One can defend that position only if one believes that the articles of government for primary schools are of less importance than the articles of government for secondary schools.

Surely we are not going to assent to that proposition, as my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger powerfully argued. Indeed, the difference in nomenclature to which she referred used to go right back to the point that the schools for young children were not called primary schools at all; they were called elementary schools where you merely picked up the elements of knowledge absolutely essential to be a citizen in a modern country, and did not go on to real education unless you were able to get to a secondary school.

Surely the drive in this Bill is supposed to be to increase the dignity of the primary schools. Why, for goodness' sake, this exception on this point? The noble Baroness argued that up to now the Secretary of State has not been asked to agree the articles of government for primary schools, or rules of management as they are to be called, so why bother to make the difference now? In that case one might ask, why bother to bring in this Bill? What is the point? When introducing a Bill which makes differences of nomenclature deliberately, and makes them presumably in order to give greater emphasis to certain points, why not seize the opportunity of giving the articles of government of primary schools the same importance in the Minister's eye as the articles of government of secondary schools? The noble Baroness puts forward the view that there seems no reason for making this change merely because they are to be called articles of government instead of rules of management. Are we to take it that that alteration of name is meant as a mere ornament and nothing more, because that is what would seem to follow from her speech.

There is another and perhaps larger aspect of the matter which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. What are governors for? This question has been repeatedly asked and answered sometimes not at all and sometimes in a great variety of different ways. Presumably, since the articles of government for secondary schools are to require the approval of the Secretary of State, it is assumed that he has some idea as to what the articles of government of a secondary school ought to look like and what the duties of governors ought to be, whereas apparently with regard to primary schools each local education authority is to have its own opinion as to what the duties of governors ought to be. This Bill contains so much about the powers of governors: how many governors there should be; who should appoint them; what proportion should represent parents; staff and all the rest of it. This is a huge long clause and we shall have to spend a good deal of time examining it as regards the appointment and constitution of governing bodies and the duties of governors.

We ought to hear a little more from the Government Benches about what they think the duties of governors ought to be. I agree we could not press them for an absolutely cut and dried and complete answer, but they might at least have a try at it. For example, what ought to be the duties of governors with regard to appointments in the school? It will be found in some parts of the country that, when a head teacher is to be appointed, governors are invited to present to the local education authority a list of three names from which the authority chooses one. In other parts of the country it will be found that the procedure is reversed: that the governors are presented with a list of names from which they may choose one. How far is it one of the duties of governors to make decisions about school uniforms—whether the school should have a uniform, and what kind?

3.24 p.m.


I had thought, on reading the amendments, that we would be discussing this matter when we came to Amendment No. 48, which seems to go into considerable detail. From my point of view—I may be quite wrong about this-1 have not been able to understand how the noble Lord is relating the amend- ment we are discussing to more than the change of nomenclature, because that is all the amendment seems to be doing.


I am obliged to the noble Lord. I agree that we shall have an opportunity for fuller discussion on the duties of governors on the later amendments. At this stage I am only making a few preliminary remarks. It seems to arise on this clause because the articles of government will presumably give some idea about the duties of governors. The Government are standing by the proposition that, where a secondary school is concerned, this formulation of the duties of governors is a matter that the Secretary of State ought to have under review, whereas for primary schools the Secretary of State apparently is not interested. That raises the question: How important are the articles of government and how important is it to get some idea of what governors do?

However, I accept what the noble Lord has said. We shall have other opportunities to pursue this. I will not press it further now, but I believe we are still all baffled as to why, in a Bill where we are deliberately trying to emphasise that we give as much weight and importance to primary schools as to secondary schools, there should be this implication that the articles of government of a primary school are regarded by the Secretary of State as of less importance than the articles of government of a secondary school. That is the question the Government have not so far answered.


I hesitate to come in at this particular stage, but I think it is right and proper that I should do so. I have spent over two years on the Taylor Report and have made recommendations to governors on this particular question. I have visited 103 authorities throughout the United Kingdom and I have listened to governors and managers. One of the things our committee found was that primary managers wanted parity of esteem with secondary schools. I am sorry that the Government have not seen fit to do this. I am glad that there are certain amendments on which I shall speak as the debate continues in the course of the next few days, but certain things are completely wrong; therefore, I will support the amendment. I ask the Government to look at this very carefully because if we are going to get the right people in primary schools it is important that they should be treated in the same way as governors in secondary schools and given exactly the same powers.

Baroness YOUNG

I have been asked a number of very important questions. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, asked: Why bring in this part of the Bill dealing with school governors? As a Government we attach very considerable importance to this first part of the Bill. We are instituting for the first time governing bodies on all secondary and primary schools, except that the small ones would be grouped together. This seems to me a major advance. I served for 12 years on an education committee and I was fortunate to be in a local authority in which all secondary schools had governors and primary schools had managers, although the smaller ones were grouped together. I therefore grew up in a system in which the importance of school governors was recognised.

As the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, recognized—we have all studied his report with great interest—this is not the practice throughout the country. We are attempting for the first time to take what we believe is a major and important step forward by giving all schools, both secondary and primary, governing bodies. What we have said is that they will all have governing bodies for the first time, that there will he school governors of primary schools. I am not prepared to accept, as the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, seems to have implied in her remarks, that, because we are not asking the Secretary of State to approve the articles of government of primary schools, this represents some sort of class distinction. I hope we can get away from all these concepts, because in this particular case I regard it as totally irrelevant to the discussion on school governing bodies.

The fact is that the powers of governing bodies vary considerably from place to place. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked this. I think he was referring to the William Tyndale School, the breakdown of which, when it occurred, consisted of considerably more than the curriculum. It was the curriculum, the discipline and a whole number of other matters, something which, whatever part of the House we sit in, we all agree was quite deplorable. I think we would all hope, certainly the Government would hope, that when schools have governing bodies this would prevent that kind of situation from ever arising.


Will the noble Baroness remind us whether the William Tyndale School—which was the school I was thinking of—had governing bodies, and whether its powers were in theory sufficient to deal with the crisis that arose there? What was the sum aspect of the dispute other than the articles which led to the impasse?

Baroness YOUNG

I have not got the information as to whether that school had managers or not, but I suspect that it probably did.


It did.

Baroness YOUNG

Thank you very much; I am grateful to the noble Lord. I believe this is the kind of matter that governors ought to look at. We are hoping very much that as we come to discuss the later provisions of school government, particularly where we are legislating, there will be provision for a minimum of two parents and two teachers and that these people will interlock—the local education authority, the teachers and the parents—in school government and therefore strengthen the situation.

I have been asked particularly why, on the narrower point of this amendment, we cannot accept what the noble Baroness, Lady David, has asked. The fact is that there are a number of matters about the roles of the local education authority, the governors and the head teachers, which perhaps one should explain in more detail. Articles of government for secondary schools are based on the provisions of the model articles issued in 1945 and cover all the matters which really have been elucidated in the course of this discussion. The rules of management of primary schools commonly follow the same pattern. We have explained that we envisage no fundamental change in the existing distribution of powers and duties. One of the difficulties is that there is no agreement as to what those powers should be, and the last Secretary of State for Education, Mrs. Williams, acknowledged this when following the same line in a rather similar debate on the 1978 Education Bill in another place.

My right honourable and learned friend the present Secretary of State made the position of this Government equally plain during the debate on the Second Reading of the Education (No. 2) Bill in November 1979, when he said: I accept that we have not attempted to set out the powers of governing bodies any more than the previous Government did, and I accept that the reason why we have not done so is that we believe that if we get the right people on the governing bodies it is up to them to exercise their powers as they feel to be right. That was the provision proposed by my predecessor".—[Official Report, Commons, 5/11/79; col. 33.] In fact, what we are saying is that we believe in leaving room for growth and change, providing for scope for the continuous development of the role of governing bodies to suit the needs of the time. The present system provides a framework within which this can and does happen, and both the recent Advisory Centre for Education pamphlet—School Governors: Partnership in Practice—and the Department of Education and Science report on local authority arrangements for the school curriculum show this clearly in their comments on the steadily increasing involvement of governors in the curriculum and educational issues more generally. If we were to agree to this amendment the Secretary of State would have to approve articles of government not only for 5,000 secondary schools but for the 23,000 primary schools.

Baroness DAVID

Surely each local authority would send up its articles of government for approval. Individual schools would not send them up. It would be only 104.

Baroness YOUNG

I agree that in that sense there would be fewer, but what the Government would be much more inclined to do would be to say that neither should be approved by the Secretary of State, rather than that both should be approved. This would be an alternative, which of course is not here.

We have considered this matter very carefully and we believe that we have gone as far as we can on this question of school government in trying to strike the right relationship between central and local government. We feel that we have it in accepting the practice of secondary schools now, and we believe it would be right to leave the articles of government on primary schools to the local education authorities. We all recognise the importance of primary schools, and we shall be discussing this subject on Clauses 6 to 8. But on this particular matter the Government have gone as far as they can. They feel they have struck the right balance between central and local government.


The noble Baroness's tone was so conciliatory at the beginning of her remarks that it seemed we were very close to having an agreement that was quite fundamental to the Bill that follows. Her quotation from the Secretary of State in another place seemed to me to strengthen the argument that has been put forward from these Benches for a change in the status and the provision of a governing rather than a management body for primary schools. A great deal of evidence in this behalf has been put forward by the National Union of Teachers which is the major union representing teachers in primary schools. It seemed to me that We had reached a point where the introduction of a governing body at the primary school level would be wholly helpful to the Minister, whatever the party in Government at the time.

Only one point has not been made in argument for this, and it is the point that it is recognised that the one remaining major cohesive unit within the community is the primary school. Division arises over whether children shall be educated at a particular type of school at 11-plus, but generally speaking, particularly in the rural community, the primary school unites parents regardless of class.

The Minister made a point very carefully in direct response to a remark by the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, who was making the point that there was a divisive attitude to the government of schools that reflected something deeper in the concept of education. The Minister made a very careful and well argued reply. I am suggesting that the primary school is a unifying influence and, because it is, the role of the parents in the school should be strengthened. By giving a governing body of a secondary nature to primary schools the Minister would—if she is sincere, as I believe her to be—seek to achieve what she says she believes in.


I should like to say one more word before we conclude on this amendment. It seemed to me that the noble Baroness, Lady David, was aiming at parity of treatment between the primary and secondary schools. If the Government are really prepared to think in terms of the local education authorities approving the statutes of both primary and secondary schools, this could have been a way round it that nobody had thought of before this debate. One possible solution would be for this amendment to be withdrawn on the undertaking that on Report stage the noble Baroness would bring forward an amendment that would give parity of treatment by causing the local education authorities to have the responsibility for both sets of articles. I do not know whether this would be acceptable to the noble Baroness, Lady David, and her colleagues, but certainly it would achieve that part of what she set out to do.

I want to make one other point that occurred to me when the Minister was talking about the models. She said that in 1945 model articles were issued by the Department of Education and Science (or the Ministry of Education as it was then), in respect of secondary schools; and that the primary schools—I think I followed her words—commonly followed the same pattern; in other words, that many of the articles in the primary schools are identical to those in the model issued for guidance in 1945.

Leaving aside the fact that it is rather astonishing that so little progress has been made in 35 years—that the same set of articles is still considered to be valid—the point I want to suggest for consideration is that to relieve the pressure of work on the Secretary of State, which is what primarily seemed to concern the Minister in her answer (in that she did not want to have to look at 23,000 different sets of articles, even though probably in most instances local education authorities will have the same set of articles for all the primary schools in their areas) one possible solution to this would be for only the articles which differed from those in the model to be submitted to the Secretary of State, whether it he in the secondary or primary school. So the Secretary of State would then have to consider purely the exceptions, which might be very limited in number, assuming that both local education authorities followed the pattern which was laid down by the Secretary of State.

I am not sure to what extent these models fit the needs of most local education authorities and of most sets of governors. It would be interesting to hear from the noble Baroness whether in practice the large majority of the secondary schools have traditionally followed the guidance that was laid down so long ago; or to what extent there is departure on a regional basis, to which I think one noble Lord referred earlier. In the case of the selection of the head teacher there was a difference in practice. In one case the names were submitted by the local education authority and selection was made by the governors, and in another case the names were submitted by the governors and the final selection was made by the local education authority. I am not sure which of these particular solutions was laid down in the rules in 1945. The suggestion I am making is that if the local authority follows that guidance, there need be nothing submitted to the Secretary of State whatsoever; it would automatically come into effect. But where the rules depart from the model, ultimately the DES would have to approve them. If this was a solution which minimised the number of decisions that had to be made by central Government, and fitted in with the general philosophy, which, I understand, underlies the Bill, of granting as much power as possible to the local education authority, I hope that it would be acceptable to all sides of the Committee.

3.41 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to answer the two noble Lords in reverse order from that in which they spoke. The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked me whether we could not get some kind of parity of treatment between primary and secondary schools, and suggested that if we could not get any agreement on the powers of school governing bodies, the matter should be left for the local education authorities themselves to decide. If in fact that is the wish—and it is certainly not a matter which we as a Government have considered; I merely stated it because our thinking would probably be in that direction, rather than in the other—it is precisely the reverse of what the amendment is asking for. It is asking for more central prescription by the Secretary of State, and not less. So it seems to me that it would be difficult.

I have been asked in particular why the Secretary of State approves the articles of secondary schools, but not of primary schools. The answer is that there are model articles laid down, based upon the proposals written in 1945, but quite a large number of authorities and secondary schools vary very widely from what has been suggested, from the model rules; in fact they do have to be looked at by the Secretary of State. One of the difficulties is that because there would be so many more primary schools they would have to be looked at, too.

I should now like to turn to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Parry, made. I am glad that he feels that I am reasonable. I think he will find during the whole course of these proceedings that I am invariably reasonable. In fact I agree with the noble Lord; primary schools, particularly in rural areas, are often a focal point for the community. They are a cohesive unit. They are extremely important. I agree—and my colleagues agree, too—that they are a unifying influence, and they are extremely important in the life of a child. It is precisely for that reason that we arc legislating for the first time for primary schools to have school governing bodies, for there to be two parents on the bodies —something which has never existed in law before, and on which in principle I am sure we all agree, because we believe in the involvement of the parents. The noble Lord, Lord Parry, said, I think, that he hoped that the role of the parents would be strengthened, and I agree with him on that matter.

What we are saying is that in all our proposals on the first five clauses of the Bill we are establishing school governing bodies by statute for all types of schools. We are bringing parents and teachers on to the governing bodies for the first time. In all these matters it is a question of a careful constitutional balance involving central Government, local government, governors, parents, teachers, and, finally, the children. But in the main it is a balance between central and local government, and we feel that we must balance one area with another throughout the Bill. We can debate at length the question of whether we have the balance right. The Government feel that they have, and in existing circumstances we believe we have agreement with the local authorities, who will be glad to carry out these proposals and think that they are right. Therefore we feel it right to stand where we are now in regard to this balance; but this does not mean that we do not absolutely accept the importance of primary schools—


Will the noble Baroness give way? She is very forbearing and very kind. May I make the point that the reorganisation of local government has brought about a severing, a distancing, of the control of local government by the people. This is generally felt in the whole of the country. Will the noble Baroness accept that she is not historically quite accurate when she tells us that this is the first time that this proposal is coming forward. It is perfectly true that it is the first time that there has been a management structure in certain of the schools, because they were grouped. But prior to the reorganisation of local government—and t do not mean the reorganisation in the most immediate past, but that which occurred under the 1944 Education Act when I was myself in college—there was a board school structure, which provided an immediate and closely governed visitation to the local primary school, to the point where the management actually went in every week to talk over matters of school attendance and day-to-day administration. Over the last 30 or 40 years, under several Acts of Parliament, local government has moved further away from the people, and I am arguing for a closer relationship in one area where the Minister has already admitted that it is vital.


May I support my noble friend on this matter? My noble friend comes from an area that was formerly Pembrokeshire, where the seat of government is about 75 miles away from one particular part of the county. Therefore there is remoteness, and so it is more important than ever that governors should be part and parcel of the community.

Baroness YOUNG

I do not think that there is any disagreement between us on what the noble Lords, Lord Parry and Lord Taylor of Blackburn, are saying. We all know that local government units became larger under the reorganisation of 1972. What was Pembrokeshire is now known, I think, as Dyfed and it consists of three counties. My pronounciation may not be quite correct, but I know where the area is. The Government absolutely accept the importance of the smaller unit, the school unit, the school governing bodies; and that is what all this matter is about—and bringing parents and teachers on to governing bodies for the first time. I cannot see how government would become less remote if the Secretary of State had to approve these articles, rather than the local education authority, which in this context is of course much nearer than the Secretary of State. Therefore I think that we should all agree on this.

Baroness DAVID

I should like to say at once that the aim in putting forward the amendment is not to gain greater control, but to give a higher status to the primary schools and to stop the differentiation between secondary and primary. My noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger put that point extremely well. The Minister said that there will be no changes at this time, as if the Government might be thinking about changes in the future; but surely now, when the Bill is going through, is the time to make the change. There are major advances in the Bill. Indeed, many of the clauses are the same as clauses in the 1978 Labour Bill, which fell at the Dissolution; and I am glad that there are a good many matters on which we all agree. The Minister says that the Government recognise the great importance of the primary schools. So why not take this final step, and let us have deeds, not words? I am going to press this amendment to a Division.

3.49 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 60; Not-Contents, 123.

Alexander of Potterhill, L. Gosford, E. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.[Teller.]
Aylestone, L. Hale, L.
Birk, B. Halsbury, E. Reilly, L.
Blease, L. Henderson, L. Sainsbury, L.
Blyton, L. Howie of Troon, L. Segal, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Jacobson, L. Shinwell, L.
Brockway, L. Jacques, L. Soper, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Janner, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Bruce of Donington, L. Kirkhill, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Stone, L.
Darwen, L. Lee of Newton, L. Strabolgi, L.
David, B. Listowel, E. Strauss, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.[Teller.] Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Denington, B. Longford, E. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Diamond, L. McCarthy, L. Underhill, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Maybray-King, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Gaitskell, B. Oram, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Gardiner, L. Parry, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Gordon-Walker, L. Peart, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Phillips, B.
Adeane, L. Fortescue, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Airedale, L. Galloway, E. Orkney, E.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Gibson-Watt,L. Petre, L.
Alport, L. Glenkinglas, L. Porritt, L.
Ampthill, L. Gormanston, V. Rathcreedan, L.
Amulree, L. Gowrie, E. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Armstrong, L. Grey, E. Renton, L.
Auckland, L. Gridley, L. Ridley, V.
Avebury, L. Haig, E. Robbins, L.
Avon, E. Hampton, L. Rochdale, V.
Balerno, L. Harvington, L. Rochester, L.
Banks, L. Hatherton, L. Romney, E.
Barnby, L. Hemphill, L. Rosslyn, E.
Barrington, V. Henley, L. St. Davids, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hives, L. St. Just, L.
Bellwin, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandford, L.
Belstead, L. Hood, V. Sandys, L.[Teller.]
Bessborough, E. Hornsby-Smith, B. Savile, L.
Blake, L. Hylton, L. Seear, B.
Byers, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Sempill, Ly.
Campbell of Croy, L. Ilchester, E. Simon, V.
Clancarty, E. Inchyra, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Clwyd, L. James of Rusholme, L. Spens, L.
Cottesloe, L. Kilmany, L. Strathcarron, L.
Craigmyle, L. Kilmarnock, L. Strathcyclde, L.
Daventry, V. Kinloss, Ly. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Davidson, V. Kinnaird, L. Strathspey, L.
De Freyne, L.! Lauderdale, E. Suffield, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] London, Bp. Swaythling, L.
Derwent, L. Long, V. Swinton, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Teynham, L.
Ebbisham, L. Luke, L. Tranmire, L.
Eccles, V. Lyell, L. Trefgarne, L.
Effingham, E. Mancroft, L. Trenchard, V.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mansfield, E. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Elton, L. Morris, L. Vickers, B.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Vivian, L.
Energlyn, L. Moyne, L. Wolfenden, L.
Exeter, M. Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Wolverton, L.
Faithfull, B. Norfolk, D. Wynford, L.
Falkland, V. Northchurch, B. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.]

3.59 p.m.

Lord STEWART of FULHAM moved Amendment No. 4: Page 2, line 6, leave out ("foundation governors").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 4 is akin to Amendments Nos. 5, 13, 14, 16 and 18. Indeed, some of the others are merely consequential on No. 4. Here, again, it may appear at first sight that one is concerned only with the matter of nomenclature, but I think it is rather more than that. The object of this and the related amendments is to cease referring to governors all the time according to the body which appoints them. It is recognised that there are certain schools in which there are some governors appointed by the local authority; some will be appointed by the parents and other groups; and some will be appointed by the foundation, and are known as "foundation governors". They may be, and in many cases are, of course, appointed by a religious denomination, but that is by no means so in all cases. Indeed, in London many years ago I myself taught in a school where some of the governors were appointed by one of the minor city companies. But what we are arguing in this amendment is that we should no longer keep the specific label "foundation governors "for some of them, and that they should be referred to throughout as "governors".

The point is that it will he a good thing if all the governors of a school think of themselves as members of one body. They have not come together as rival sections, one section appointed by one group and another by another: once there they should think of themselves as working together for the good of the school.

At meetings of governors there can arise questions to which the answer is by no means obvious at the beginning of the argument and which cannot be decided by referring back to some general principles one has in mind. Many of them arc topics on which one genuinely wants to listen to the arguments and give a vote at the end according to the merits. We do not want governors to be so labelled that we think of them as: "These are foundation governors and those are not". One would not want anything approaching a kind of whipping system to grow up between different groups of governors, or one foundation governor to feel that he had a duty to vote as other foundation governors voted; and the same would apply to the local authority governors.

We want them to feel that, however many the sources from which they are appointed, once they are there they are all governors on an equal footing. I noticed, looking at reports of debates in the other place on this, that there were some criticisms of some foundation governors. It was alleged on good authority —and I had effort in believing it—that about 10 years ago, if you looked at the foundation governors of certain well-known schools of this kind in Birmingham, the average age of the foundation governors was 83—to which it was argued in defence that this must have meant that they approached the problems they discussed with a great wealth of experience.

I feel that if foundation governors arc always thought of as, and labelled as, a different body, the foundation may feel, "It is all right; we are entitled to so many governors. We put them there and they stay there until a vacancy inevitably occurs". We want the foundation to feel that it has a duty to provide people who will be good colleagues with all of the other governors. If they feel like that, we are less likely to get the astounding result which apparently occurred in Birmingham.

It may be argued that we are asking for nothing more than a change in name; but the Bill shows in many of its clauses the importance (to a limited point but not inconsiderably) of nomenclature, of using words and phrases that point in a certain direction. The change that I am suggesting here would point in the direction of a body of governors all united by the fact that they were governors trying to do their best for the school from whatever source they may be appointed. I hope that the Government may be able to look on it favourably.


May I support the amendment? I serve on an electricity board as a part-time member. There are two full-time members and six part-time members. We feel, as part-time members, that we are second-class citizens. This is completely wrong because we make the same decisions as do the two full-time members. The same applies to schools. Again, people find that the foundation governors feel that they are more part of the school than anyone else. I am sure that the right reverend Prelates would agree with the words in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, We are all one body in Christ ", and, therefore, we are all one body on a governing body. I think it very important indeed that we should all feel equal together.

4.6 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of NORWICH

If I may break in for a moment, it would be suitable to respond to that theological expertise. In the Council of Jerusalem in the 15th Chapter of Acts, they took counsel together. And in the taking of counsel together, it was set out quite plainly that the Apostles and the Elders—and noble Lords will remember that "Elders "is derived from the word "presbyteros", which is "presbyter "or "priest "today—and the brethren took counsel together. But they took counsel from their own viewpoints and then found a greater unity in the recognition of their diversity than they would have found in the non-recognition of their original unity. Therefore, having been stung to my feet by the noble Lord's remarks, I feel that I shall now resist this amendment rather more strongly than if I had not been woken from my other thoughts on other matters. I feel that the noble Lord on the Front Bench opposite ought not really to quote in this House the age of 83 in reference to the Birmingham foundation governors, because I have discovered, in the five or six years that I have been here, that our wisdom increases with our years.


I have to make the confession that I am a foundation governor. I also find, if I am unlucky enough to be rung up by the Press, that their first question is, "What is your age?" I am tempted these days to make it older and older. I make it 103 now; but I think it might get older. I have never had any feeling whatsoever of difference in voting. It had never occurred to me to vote in any way except for what I believed was for the best interest of the school. It had never occurred to me until your Lordships brought it up this afternoon that there should, where the welfare of the schools is concerned, be a difference in the voting between foundation and other governors.


As somebody from Birmingham, I can say that there are a lot of different people serving on different kinds of bodies. The foundation governors have always been a bone of contention for elected members of the educational authority in the City of Birmingham. We always found when sitting on these school boards that, somehow or other, the foundation governors had got together before the meeting started (as my noble friend Lord Stewart has said) with the idea very often of pushing through the business that they intended to push through, regardless of how the rest of the governing body felt. We felt that on many occasions this caused disharmony where disharmony ought not to have existed. This arose from the fact that somebody says "foundation governor". As my noble friend Lord Taylor said, this somehow gives a status.

In the same way, I suppose my noble friend on the Front Bench will say that if you put "PC "after your name when you become a Member of Parliament, that again gives you a certain status over and above the majority of Members of Parliament. The impression I have gained, having served as a member of the Birmingham Education Authority, is that in practice there has often been dissension at the start of a meeting when there has been no need for it, because of the close collaboration between the foundation governors and the head of the school before the rest of us have even turned up at the meeting.


I am sure we all support the intention behind this amendment, but the arguments produced by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, did not lead to the conclusions at which he arrived. Those of us who serve on a variety of governing bodies know perfectly well that groups of elected governors can get together as easily as any other governors to decide in advance the line which they will take corporately. This kind of accusation which is thrown from one group at another does not help the argument forward at all.

The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, has seriously impugned the integrity of a great many people who are chosen in one way or another to serve as school managers or governors. We should work towards the aim that all who serve on governing bodies should be people of integrity, who can use independence of judgment and seek the good of the institution which they have been appointed to serve. I believe that merely to change the name in the way suggested would not achieve the intended result.

Viscount SIMON

I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby that one may be attracted initially by the proposal put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, but the fact is that it seeks merely to alter a name and does not alter the position in any way at all.

The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, complained about foundation governors getting into a huddle. They can still get into a huddle, whether we call them "foundation governors "or not. It would not be so difficult if there were only foundation governors and local authority governors, but we shall have parent governors and, one hopes, teacher governors. It is difficult not to use some term to distinguish the place from which a particular governor conies. I express the hope that all good governing bodies should think of themselves as governors of the school and not just as the type of governor they happen to be. However, I do not think that it helps just to change their name.


The members of the governing bodies of all secondary schools, including voluntary schools, are already called governors. As has already been said, the Bill already provides for all primary schools, including voluntary schools, to have governors and governing bodies. Therefore, the amendments are unnecessary in terms of the purpose of the clause as introduced. The fact is that foundation governors are distinguished by the specific common purpose for which they are appointed and which is prescribed in statute. They have responsibilities which are not shared by the other governors.

These amendments would have the effect of standardising their method of appointment, but the instrument of government for each school already clearly sets out how the foundation governors for that school are appointed, and there may be a number of persons and bodies involved. The term in the amendment, "the voluntary body concerned ", is too vague to cover the range of circumstances involved. There is no need to standardise the method of their appointment and no reason why schools should not retain their own traditions and individuality in such matters.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, referred to governing bodies on which he had served, or like institutions. I, too, have served on many governing bodies in another incarnation, not all that long ago. At no time when I was not a foundation governor did I feel a second-class citizen. I am grateful for the intervention and support of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich; I was also glad to hear the contribution of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby. Who does not recognise the enormous contribution to education made by the denominational schools? The noble Baroness, Lady Airey of Abingdon, said that she had never felt any inhibitions in voting in such circumstances. I subscribe to that view entirely, remembering all the foundation governors with whom I have served over the years.

I do not agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, that the existence of foundation governors causes disharmony. The fact is that there are specific statutory duties imposed on such governors, and one cannot get away from that fact. Therefore, in all the circumstances, although I recognise the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, I do not think the Committee should accept this amendment as it stands.


My noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham does not need me to defend him, but surely it is recognised that in introducing this amendment he is not simply going in for semantics. Foundation governors are like foundation garments: they exist to keep the shape of the body, perhaps long after that shape has changed beyond recognition.

The Education Act 1944 resolved a very difficult question. The interventions of the right reverend Prelates reminded us of the fact that that Act provided a happy resolution of a difficult issue. The basic question is that the position of a founda- tion governor on a governing body is related to a later argument on the relationship in numbers between foundation governors and other governors. That is a fundamental point. If in an aided school or an assisted school nominees of the original body setting up that school remain as foundation governors, their relationship in numbers to the others is very important. That will be taken up by the Committee on a later clause. Therefore, it was vital that my noble friend Lord Stewart raised this point.


I am sorry that at this early stage in our discussions I have to cross swords with my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham. I have had the unique experience of having for a very long time been chairman of governors in a Catholic school. I have had to fight off, on the one hand, the Westminster Schools' Commission and, on the other hand, the ILEA. If anybody wishes to witness a buck-passing exercise, they have to look no farther than that example. If one group says that it is not its responsibility, then the other group equally says it is not its responsibility either.

I wish to correct one idea. As a foundation governor, I certainly would not stay in that position until I was 83. I have not yet reached that age. In fact, the time we served as a school governor was limited. I cannot remember any occasion when we enjoyed any special privilege. The elected representatives, in the same way as they do in the other place, were always pointing out to us that they were much more important than we were. When certain people were anxious for me to be made chairman and my period as a foundation governor had ceased, it was arranged in some mysterious way for me suddenly to become an elected governor. In that way I became chairman.

I believe that once a person serves on a governing body, the reason for his or her being there becomes unimportant. One is then concerned with the school. Therefore, although I shall support my noble friend Lord Stewart on every other amendment on this Bill, I regard this amendment as rather unworthy of him. A foundation governor who serves on a government body is no different from any other governor.


I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, for her support. It is from a most unexpected direction, if I may say so; but, none the less, very much welcome. I must say that she put it so well. It was exactly what I was trying to say but did not put quite so well. But, speaking from my own experience, I never felt in any way second-class or whatever. Nor did the foundation governors, in my experience, ever try in any way to make us feel like that. It may be I was very fortunate—and, of course, coming from Leeds, I would not expect it to be otherwise. But I must say that that is my experience. The point that the noble Lord. Lord Parry, made was very interesting; but it does not get us away from the fact that there is still a basic statutory requirement on foundation governors and therefore there they are. I still say again that I fear we cannot accept the amendment.


I have listened to the noble Lord opposite and to my noble friend Lady Phillips. Weighing everything up, I do not wish to press this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Clause I agreed to.

Schedule 1 [School government: consequential amendments]:

[Amendment No. 6 not moved.]

Schedule I agreed to.

Clause 2 [Requirements as to governing bodies]:

4.22 p.m.

Lord VAIZEY moved Amendment No. 6A: Page 2, line 11, after ("authority") insert ("or for a non-maintained school, namely a school which receives grants under the Special Schools and Establishments (Grant) Regulations 1959").

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment—and this might be taken conveniently with some others on the Marshalled List—is an important one. There is a series of schools in the country, the non-maintained special schools, which are defined under regulations laid down under the Handicapped Pupils and Special Schools Regulations 1959. They are almost entirely maintained by the LEAs. There are 112 of them. They cater for over four-fifths of the blind children, half the deaf children and a third of the handicapped children, in residential special schools.

Those of us who are concerned with special education feel strongly that this very large provision of special education which is apparently in the independent sector but is wholly maintained by the local authorities calls for them to be given the same treatment as we are giving to maintained schools in this Bill. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will feel that this idea is worthy of consideration. It is a very important group. I know that this is going to be brought forward in the White Paper on Warnock, and that the Warnock Bill will probably be presented in the next Session—at least we hope it will. It seems that this is a step which Warnock would support. Since this is dealing with school governors in general at the present moment, there seems no reason why these schools should not be included in the present Bill.


May I support the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, on this point because it is important. Warnock makes a similar recommendation to this. It is important that we carry the special schools with us because the special schools do not want to be any different from the rest of the schools. They want to be part and parcel. They do not want any special treatment at all, but they want to be looked upon as being part of the overall system of education in the United Kingdom.


May I also support my noble friend? As he has already said, these schools are totally unlike other independent schools. The important point is that the education of almost all the children attending these schools is paid for by the local authorities. They are, as the Warnock Report says, part of the national system of educational provision in a way that independent schools are not. Surely these schools should be brought into line with similar schools in the maintained sector. At present they are virtually autonomous and they can choose their governing bodies, subject to their trust deeds, under the 1959 regulations, as my noble friend said. Some of these schools do not have any parent governors, and some have no local authority representative governors; under present regulations, teachers are not allowed to be governors. Many parents are very worried about the lack of representation on governing bodies. I feel that they have an invaluable contribution to make because they are the people who have the day-to-day experience of looking after a handicapped child. They understand what it is all about.

Experience in the maintained sector of special schools, where parents have been elected as governors, has shown that they have an invaluable contribution to make far in excess of that of other governors because, as I have said, they have experienced handicap; they take the lead in bringing together the other parents in voluntary efforts in support of the schools, and they are the people who are most ready to take all the other children out on trips.

At the Report stage in another place on 12th February the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science conceded the principle that the non-maintained special schools should be treated the same as the maintained special schools. This is very important. At column 1383 of Hansard of 12th February, he said: But the question is whether the right place for the election of parent governors for non-maintained special schools is in the Bill or elsewhere. That is the only argument. I accept the principle completely. Those parents must have the same rights. I submit that if the principle is right, then surely the right place to deal with the non-maintained special schools is in this Bill, in the clauses dealing with the maintained special schools. I hope the Committee will support my noble friend's amendment warmly.

Baroness MASHAM of ILTON

I should like to ask the noble Baroness the Minister how many of these non-maintained schools which receive grants under the Special Schools and Establishments (Grant) Regulations 1959 do not have governors and governing bodies. I speak now as vice-chairman of the Spina Bifida Association. I hope that in this Bill, when dealing with handicap schools and handicapped people, we will go forwards and not backwards. It is integration, and not segregation, that all the associations dealing with disabled people want. I hope that noble Lords in all parts of the Committee will look very carefully at this matter throughout the Bill.


I should like to associate myself immediately in support of the amendment, as president of the Spastic Society in Wales and the Society for the Mentally Handicapped there. I know of the concern of parents and indeed of the societies, although I do not commit them to my views. It is absolutely essential that it be understood that if the parent of the normal child—and I use my words carefully—has a contribution to make in the government of the school, then a parent of a handicapped family, handicapped by having special difficulties that arise out of the birth of handicapped children, has a specific contribution to make. I not only support this myself but urge my own Front Bench to give support to this amendment.

Viscount RIDLEY

May I too support this amendment. I believe it would have the general support of educational authorities in the country.


I hope the Government will accept this amendment. It is more important to have a governing body constituted in this way in a special school than in an ordinary school. Therefore, to leave out special schools is singularly unfortunate. It may be that one can deal with this if one is dealing later with the Warnock report. I see no reason why it should not be done now. I hope that the Government will accept this amendment.

Baroness DAVID

Speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, I should like to support this amendment. I think it is necessary that these schools should have the same sort of representation and I hope that the Minister when replying will not say that it is going to be very difficult to appoint parents and so on. It may be, sometimes, if it is a non-maintained boarding school, but I am sure the difficulties could be overcome.


We, too, on these Benches are concerned about this matter and would support this amendment, but we would withhold our judgment until we hear what the Government have to say. The relationship of any special schools and the ordinary educational system is very much in the melting pot at the moment, as the noble Baroness had told us before. While I think it is an immense pity that we have not been able to deal with these matters while this Bill is going through, nevertheless we must look carefully at the various arguments. In principle, I am sure that this amendment should be supported widely throughout the Chamber.

4.31 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I should like to say absolutely at the outset how important the Government regard the position of special schools to be. May I also make it quite clear that Clause 2(6) of course applies the provision of school government to special schools. It also includes special schools, where possible, in a hospital, with slightly different provisions, because the circumstances are slightly different, as everyone who is familiar with these schools will know. However, we have gone as far as we can.

The particular series of amendments moved by my noble friend Lord Vaizey and supported by many noble Lords are not, of course, about maintained special schools but about non-maintained special schools, and it is because they are non-maintained special schools that we have not been able to include them in the Bill at the present time. I was therefore particularly grateful for the careful words of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, on this subject because I should like to take this opportunity, if I may, to explain how the Government see this position.

May I say right away that there are in fact very good reasons, which I hope can explain to your Lordships, why it has not been possible to cover non-maintained schools in this present Bill. One reason is that the schools are, as many of your Lordships will know much better than I, run by voluntary bodies, mainly charities, so that changes in their government would in fact involve amendments to their trust deeds. It is perfectly true that the Warnock Committee considered that they should in principle be governed in the same way as maintained special schools—and may I say now that the Government completely accept that principle. We believe that the principles we have applied to what I may describe as ordinary schools and which we have legislated for in our provision on maintained special schools, including the hospital schools, should apply to non-maintained special schools as well.

The reason why we are not able to accept this amendment and therefore bring in these provisions, which we accept in principle, is that in the first place it would be very difficult to do so today, before we have had any consultation with the voluntary bodies who run these schools. Although I think we are all in agreement in principle, we cannot just ride roughshod over organisations like Doctor Barnardo's, the Shaftesbury Society, the Royal National Institutes for the Blind and the Deaf and many other charitable organisations which make such a valuable contribution to special education and who are well aware of the desirability of close involvement of parents in all aspects of school life.


But surely there have been consultations between the Warnock Committee and the voluntary bodies on the subject?

Baroness YOUNG

I think undoubtedly there was considerable consultation. I was not myself a member of the Warnock Committee but I have no doubt that voluntary bodies gave evidence to that Committee and that they were consulted. But when the Government come to legislate upon an important issue like this, I think it would be wrong for us to agree to an amendment which concerns a non-maintained school, which is run by an organisation such as Doctor Barnardo's or the National Institutes for the Blind or the Deaf, without consulting them. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, would accept that.

This is not in any way to go back on our belief in the importance of bringing parent governors on to the boards of these particular schools. The way democracy works is that you do always at least consult people before coming to some conclusions that enormously affect what they are doing. We should at the very least consult with these bodies on how parallel arrangements for parent and teacher governors could best be made, and recognise any complications that might have to be overcome. I think all noble Lords who are very knowledgeable on this matter will recognise that over 90 per cent. of non-maintained special schools providing boarding education for handicapped children frequently do so on a nation-wide basis, and the effective representation of parents on governing bodies would not be quite so straightforward as it is in the matter of a local authority school.

At this stage I should like very much to reiterate what I said when I repeated a Statement on our proposals on the Warnock Report, so that any of your Lordships who were not in the House on that occasion will know that the Government are committed to introduce an early Bill to enact a new framework of special education, substantially on the lines recommended by the Warnock Committee. There will thus be an opportunity to consider for inclusion in that Bill any necessary provisions touching on the government of non-maintained special schools. We shall be able to do so with the benefit of the arguments that have been adduced today in relation to this amendment and, I have no doubt, on the amendments relating to Clause 9, to which I shall listen with great care.

I hope therefore that, with these remarks, my noble friend Lord Vaizey will feel able to withdraw his amendment. I should like to repeat my assurance on behalf of the Government that there is nothing between us on principle over this, but we feel it would not be right to go ahead and accept these amendments at this stage. However, we shall consider everything that has been said in relation to what our proposals will be on the Warnock Report.


I am very grateful to my noble friend for what she has said. If I may just briefly touch on some of the points she has made, of course the problem of nation-wide catchment areas is an acute one; but it also affects hospital schools, with which the Bill deals, and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is correct: consultations have already been held extensively. But the Minister is equally correct in saying that before legislation is introduced consultations should be held on the basis of the proposed legislation. I also think that trust deeds are always used in a "chancery lawyer" kind of argument. Trust deeds, after all, are amendable, and presumably the Charity Commissioners exist to see that trust deeds are amended in accordance with changes in the law. That is how it seems to a naive layman, who believes that law should be the handservant and not the master of Parliament.

Having said that, since I am probably the only person present who was educated in a special school, I feel quite deeply that these are the schools which most urgently need parent governors of all kinds. I strongly agree with the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. I am well aware of the deep interest and enthusiasm of my noble friend on the Front Bench on this question. I accept her assurances, and we shall look forward very much both to the debate on Clause 9 and to the proposed legislation on the Warnock Report. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.


As the amendment is being withdrawn, may I be allowed to say that there is a real danger that the noble Baroness the Minister was arguing on both sides of the equation in support of her own position in this case, since you cannot argue that you should not introduce legislation without discussing it with interested bodies and then introduce legislation that effectively excludes them. You should also have discussions with them if they are to be excluded. I think the Minister will understand my concern when I say that there is a real worry among bodies interested in special schools that they might find themselves excluded from the educational provisions and put under a social service arrangement, which has already been done with some aspects of the special education service at adult level. If we can have some assurance at this stage that the Government do not presage anything of that nature in their proposed legislation, it will be helpful.

Baroness MASHAM of ILTON

As the noble Baroness was not able to answer my question about the governors and the governing bodies, I should like to ask her another question. If she is able to answer this question, it may take some of the worries away from many organisations When do the Government intend to bring in this other Bill which will implement Warnock? That is the big question. Is it to be this year or in four years' time?

Baroness YOUNG

May I first apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Masham? I am sorry that I did not answer her question. The fact is that all non-maintained special schools must have governing bodies, as a condition of being recognised as special schools under the handicapped pupils and special schools regulations of 1959. So I apologise to her for not giving that information. Of course, I have listened very carefully to what she and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, have said on this subject.

On the question of the Warnock Report, I do not think I can go further than I have already done. I am very conscious of the point made by my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls about the difficulties that I should find myself in. I can only reiterate the assurance that I gave when I made a Statement on Warnock, that we intend to introduce an early Bill to enact a new framework. I do not really believe that an early Bill is four years on. It is too important. It is two years since Mrs. Warnock and her committee reported.

We are well aware, both in this House and in another place, of the genuine concern expressed by those who take a particular interest in special education—and this is not just a form of words. I am not myself responsible for writing the Queen's Speech, and the noble Baroness and the Committee will understand that I cannot give an absolute assurance, but it is certainly the intention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and my colleagues and I that there will be early legislation on this matter.

I absolutely accept the point that the noble Lord, Lord Parry, has made. He said that parents are very worried about the position of special schools and we are well aware of this. There is a very real difficulty about legislating for special schools in this Bill, except in so far as we can do so without having to amend a great many Acts of Parliament and so on. On his point about having discussions, I think I should be right in saying that, whatever party is in power, it has discussions on legislation with interested parties. It would be unusual to have discussions with organisations that were not to be included in the Bill. We should have discussions with organisations that were to be referred—


The noble Baroness will accept that I was simply picking up her defence; that she defended herself by saying that she could not introduce legislation without having had discussions.

Baroness YOUNG

And I think, if I may say so, that this is right. We should be greatly criticised for introducing legislation and not having discussions with the bodies concerned, which are obviously crucial to these schools. We should be legislating upon the schools without discussing with the people most concerned with them. But that is in no way to get away from the essential point with which the Committee is concerned.


I thought the noble Baroness was making the point that she had in fact had those discussions.

Baroness YOUNG

No, we have not had the discussions and I would not wish to pursue this matter further. I am most grateful to my noble friend Lord Vaizey for agreeing to withdraw this amendment and I hope that, with those assurances, the Committee will accept that we shall certainly take these points into consideration on a future Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

Lord BEAUMONT of WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 7: Page 2, line 12, leave out ("(8)") and insert ("(9)").

The noble Lord said: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if we take Amendment No. 34 with this amendment; indeed, it would be total nonsense not to discuss No. 34 with this amendment. As at present drafted, this amendment merely covers the matters with which subsection (1) of Clause 2 deals. That subsection provides for certain provisions, which are then laid down in subsections (2) to (8), to be included in the instrument of government. We want to add an extra provision, which is effected by Amendment No. 34, for the election of a chairman.

At the moment, the position of schools varies very widely over the country in different types of schools. In some cases, it is extremely satisfactory but in others it is not. What we are trying to get away from in this amendment is the situation in some schools and areas about which we all know where the governing bodies of schools are dominated by people nominated by the local authority who do not have a very great interest in education. We know that there are plenty of people nominated by local authorities who have an immense interest in education, and there are a large number of extremely good governing bodies. But we also know that in certain parts of the country that is not the position, and where it is not it is often the practice that the chairman of the governing body is a straight nominee of the local education authority.

We think that this is wrong for two reasons. First, any of your Lordships who have served on governing bodies—and I suppose that that is probably the majority of noble Lords in the Committee —know how important a chairman can be on a body such as this. Pulling together representatives of different interests and people from different backgrounds to work together as an effective governing body can be a difficult task. It should be the job of someone in whom the governing body as a whole has confidence, and there can be no better way of ensuring that than by democratic election. Therefore, we should like it to be definitely laid down in the regulations which govern all these governing bodies that the chairman should be chosen by election. I beg to move.

Baroness YOUNG

I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, has said in moving his amendment, which I understand is a paving amendment for No. 34. As he will know, the model instrument of governors for county schools does, in fact, provide what he would like to achieve and this represents standard practice throughout the country. However, he is quite right in saying that there are some authorities where this does not apply and, having listened carefully to what he has said, I should like to say to him that if he is prepared to withdraw his amendment at this stage I shall be happy to bring back an amendment on Report which meets the case. What we require to do is not to put this provision into Clause 2, which is concerned with the composition of governing bodies, since matters relating to the proceedings of governing bodies are dealt with in Clause 4 and in the regulations made under it. If the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment, I shall bring back an amendment on Report that meets this point.


I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness the Minister. I am sure that this is an improvement. I did not at any stage consider that my drafting or the insertion at this point were necessarily right, and I look forward to the amendment which the Government will bring forward on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord BROOKS of TREMORFA moved Amendment No. 8: Page 2, line 15, at end insert ("who shall outnumber the other members of the governing body by two if that body has 18 or fewer members and by three if it has more").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I am well aware that there are opposing views on this issue. There are those who would say that in the interests of wider democracy the local education authority should not have a majority view on governing bodies. On the other hand, there are those, and I count myself among them, who say that where the local authority is responsible directly for the service—certainly where it is responsible financially for the service—then the local authority in all those areas should have a majority. I was reminded over the weekend of a local councillor in South Wales—not in my own authority, I hasten to add—who was asked whether he believed that the local education authority should have the power to appoint a majority on governing bodies. He said he thought that there were pros and cons for it and pros and cons against it!

When I arrived in local government I spent the first year on the education committee, and that was quite enough for me. I made off for calmer waters and became the leader of the authority. I found that life was much easier after that. I was usually called in to arbitrate on matters and often used to get myself into very deep water with some of the vested interests that involve themselves in education. Of course, they are very great. I even took the principle of the local education authority having the major responsibility in these matters to the point of insisting that the institute of higher and further education should have a majority of elected representatives upon it, because I felt very deeply about the principle.

I do not think that there is anybody who would say that local education authorities, as a breed, ride roughshod over the wishes of parents. I do not think that would be maintained for one moment by anybody. Certainly in the governing bodies that I have sat on there has never been a demand for parents and other interested individuals and groups to have a majority on the governing body. At the end of the day there is another court to which the parents and others can appeal—that is, the elected representatives. I found that the safety net for parents and, indeed, for anybody who is involved in education is to put pressure on their elected representatives if they wish to get things changed. In my view, this is a matter of principle. I believe that local education authorities should be able to appoint a majority to the governing bodies, and I so move.


I hope that the Committee will reject this amendment. If this amendment is passed, in many areas the effect will be that the only people who will wish to go on governing bodies will be members of the education committee. The number of governing bodies that each of them will have to be a member of in order to meet this requirement will be considerable. Each will have to be the governor of perhaps 10 schools. Whether a governor of 10 schools can really fulfil the functions of a governor I greatly doubt. It is very difficult as a governor to be interested in 10 schools rather than in one. I do not think that this is a practical proposition. I speak from experience, having tried to apply it.

4.55 p.m.


Like the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, I, too, was put on to the education committee in my first year in local government and like him I, too, eventually became the leader of my authority. So it would seem that a basic prerequisite for potential leaders is to go on to the education committee in their first year.

I feel that it would not be right to deprive the foundation governors of their majority on the governing bodies of aided and special agreement schools. It is through the opening of the governing body that foundation governors exercise their functions. The trustees, diocesan authorities, et cetera, have no other channel through which to act. The two situations are not the same. The governors of such schools are in a quite different position from the governing bodies of county schools. In particular, the governors control admissions, are the employers of the teaching staff, enter into building and other contracts and have specific responsibility for the religious instruction given in the school. Foundation governors have to be in a majority to ensure the proper exercise of their functions.

Local education authorities can exercise influence and control over county schools through a variety of channels and can properly be left to decide for themselves whether they want to appoint a majority of the governing body. Some authorities have effectively dispensed with local education authority majorities already within the limitation imposed by the present statutory provisions. I am grateful for what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said. I know one governor who was on eight governing bodies at the same time. I readily concur with the noble Lord's view that one really finds difficulty in doing a good job in those circumstances.

Baroness DAVID

I think that there is a slight misunderstanding. If governors are appointed by the local education authority they do not have to be members of that body. They are representatives of that body and they can be chosen from anywhere. Obviously you could not have education committee members on every governing body in the area, However, they are representative of the local education authority, so you can choose from a very wide field indeed.


Yes, I entirely accept that, but in practice it is surprising how local education authorities do in fact appoint so many of their members to so many governing bodies. If the noble Baroness, Lady David, is making the point that they should not and that they ought to bring in more from other sources, one can only agree with her.


I wonder whether I may come in on this point. I apologise for having to leave the Chamber for a few moments. I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill. This is absolutely stupid. I came up, as did the noble Lord, by becoming the chairman of the education committee and then the leader of the local authority. I do not know whether that is the line of thought which goes on in local authorities, but this is what happened. As chairman of the education committee, I found myself as the chairman of 27 governors or managers of schools, which was absolutely ridiculous because one could not pay due respect to the work done in the schools. When, therefore, we looked into the government and management of schools we looked very closely at this point and came to the conclusion that it was wrong for anybody to be a governor of more than three schools. We thought it was right and proper that it should be three schools. May I support the noble Baroness, Lady David, on this? We felt also that they should not just be members of the local education authority but should be people with a wide interest, right across the board, who would support the local education authority. We felt that they should be there because county councillors and district councillors cannot do everything.

There is a problem about the attendance allowance. I know that this will not go down well. Nevertheless, I should like to make it quite clear that county councillors and district councillors who were getting paid attendance allowances were running around from one governing body to the next and from one management committee to the next. It went on like that. I hope that that does not occur.


On the latter point, it is not all local education authorities who treat service on the governing body as a designated duty for the purpose of attendance allowances. But I do know, as the noble Lord says, that there are some who do. However, it does really not change anything. I hope that in the light of what has been said the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, will be able to withdraw his amendment.


I found that it was rather difficult to follow some of the arguments advanced against this amendment. It does not say, or even suggest, that the governors have got to be members of the local education authority. If I understood the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, aright, he argued that if this amendment were carried nobody would want to be a governor unless he were a member of the local education authority. If that was not what the noble Lord meant, he was certainly arguing that the result of this amendment would be that people would have to be governors of large numbers of schools. There is not the slightest necessity for that. The local education authority can choose people to be governors of schools without loading on to each one of them that they must be governors of more than one school, and experience shows that that is so.

A long time ago I was a manager (they are now called governors) appointed by the local education authority, but I was not—and had no intention of becoming—a member of the local education authority, and I was one of a very great many. I cannot at all accept the argument that this amendment is impracticable, because we are not suggesting that the governors appointed by the local education authority must be members of the authority. It does not at all follow, if our amendment were carried, that governors would have to be appointed to do the job in several schools. There is not the least reason why the local education authority should not—and they do—find suitable people to man all the places for which they have the right of nomination on governing bodies. I reject the suggestion that the amendment is impracticable.

Now what about the positive merits of the amendment? There is a very powerful reason in the eyes of the electors and the parents; it is, in effect, that the local authority is responsible for what happens in the maintained schools. There are already some difficulties about that. When I was a Member of another place, I had parents coming to me complaining sometimes about the failure of their children to get admission to a particular school. I remember one case very well where, owing to failure of proper supervision, a boy had been killed at an athletic event. In fact, owing to the composition of the governing body, the local authority could not do anything about it, but nothing I could say could persuade the parents that the local authority was not responsible for their grievance. I do not think there is any way round this. In a maintained school, the electors, the parents, will hold the local education authority responsible. That is why we are arguing, either as Amendment No. 8 suggests, that its representatives should actually outnumber the rest, or the more modest proposal contained in Amendment No. 9, that they should form not less than half. It is a sound rule of government and democracy that power and responsibility should go together. Since the local authority is the body to be held responsible, it ought not to be in a position where it is invariably outnumbered on the governing body.

There is also this matter to consider. The local education authority is, beyond any doubt, democratically elected. We know very well that one of the problems we shall have in implementing clauses in this Bill about other kinds of governor is to make sure that their election can equally be called democratic. It is one thing to put in a Bill that there shall be parent governors and elaborate arrangements as to how they shall be chosen; it is another thing to be certain how many parents will turn up at the meeting to elect them. Indeed, I fear there is always one danger; the more complicated one makes the governing body the easier it is for people who have leisure and money. That is always something to be watched when we bring on to governing bodies of schools people who are not appointed by those, like the local council, who have gone through the proper process of democratic election. I am glad to see that the Bill is giving definite status to the position of governors other than those appointed by the local education authority, to parent governors and possibly other governors as well. I am very glad that the local education authority which I know best—the ILEA—was a pioneer in introducing parent governors.


Oh, no!


Well, I defer to my noble friend but I think he will agree that it was a near thing! However I believe that the responsibility lies with the local authority and that its representatives therefore ought not to be outnumbered. That is really what we are discussing in this amendment and we ought not to be put off by the suggestion that it is a necessary part of this amendment that one man or one woman should be a governor of 10 schools. There is not the least necessity for that; it is a complete red herring. Therefore I invite the Committee to consider what is really involved in this amendment: the real principle of democracy and the fact that the local authority, who in the end will have to carry the can, should not be outnumbered on the governing body.


There is a great deal in what the noble Lord has said, as one would expect of someone with his great experience, but I think the case that he has so ably deployed is in fact a rather backward-looking one. There are enormous difficulties in producing a popularly controlled and democratically elected number of people to serve on these bodies, but we think that the forward way is the way which was recommended in the report of the Taylor Committee. We think that because it is quite clear that, over the last 10 or 20 years, citizens of this country—and not just of the middle classes—have been becoming more and more interested in having some real say in the institutions which govern their lives.

Nothing could really be very much more pertinent to that than the schools to which their children go. Therefore it is extremely important that the responsibility is spread, and the Taylor Committee said—and I quote: We have concluded that such a partnership is most likely to work effectively if each of the four main interest groups receives the same proportion of the places available on the governing body. We recommend therefore that as a matter of principle the membership of governing bodies should consist of equal numbers of local education authority representatives, school staff, parents with (where appropriate) pupils and representatives of the local community". At this stage we have not sought to table amendments to amend the Bill in that direction. The reason for that is that these particular arguments were thoroughly thrashed out in another place, but we think that the Bill is gravely defective in not allowing for much wider representation on these groups, and for that reason we think the amendment before the committee at the moment is even worse.


I should like to make it clear that I do not understand the noble Lord's argument when he says that he is concerned that those democratically elected should be responsible but then proposes that a whole lot of people who have not been democratically elected should be the governors, having merely been nominated by those who are elected. I find that very difficult to understand. If his principle is right then inevitably it will fall on the members of the education committee or the education authority.

The other point I want to make is a simple one. If this Bill is to work and if governing bodies are to do the job we want them to do, the local authority must be clear that, having delegated power to a governing body to do certain things, it should leave it to do them without insisting that the local authority itself must control every detail of what happens in the school.


I should like to make it clear to my former friend the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, what we recommended. It is quite clear that he is wrong on this one about the election because what we said is this: There are the elected representatives from the local authority; there are the representatives elected by the parent body; there are the representatives elected by the teachers and the staff of the school. That is, three bodies out of the four are elected. Representatives of the community are difficult to elect because one wants to bring in people who are interested in that community. What is good for Yorkshire may not be good for Lancashire; what is good for Lancashire may not be good for the ILEA, and so on. Therefore, if there is a good cross-section, they will decide. The idea was that in the first place the three bodies who were elected would meet together and then they would invite certain organisations to submit nominations. Then when they got the nominations they would in the course of time elect the fourth part of the governing body. Therefore, you will get an elected body in that way. I am sorry to waste your Lordships' time on this, but I thought it was worthwhile explaining to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, what we had in mind.

5.10 p.m.


I have other amendments in this group. I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord BROOKS of TREMORFA moved Amendment No. 9: Page 2, line 15, at end insert ("and they shall constitute at least half of the total number of governors.")

The noble Lord said: The debate which has just taken place confirms my belief that the further I get away from education the better I will be pleased. I think my noble friend Lord Stewart made what were the essential points in this matter. Surely where the responsibility goes the power must go also. Amendment No. 9 is a much more modest attempt at trying to achieve that end. My noble friend said that parents in affluent areas have a great deal of power in these matters. If I may reminisce for a moment, when I arrived on the local authority it was not long before I discovered that if the public gallery was full you could hay': a bet—in fact a double—first that the issue they were concerned about was an educational issue, and, secondly, that they were from the more affluent parts of the city. There is no question whatever, if an educational issue of whatever kind takes place within a local authority area, it is certain that the issue will be highlighted and brought to the attention of the public.

What we are concerned with here is the smooth and democratic running of our schools. When I hear the comments of some noble Lords about scores of elected representatives rushing round their local education areas, sitting on boards of governors and claiming attendance allowances, I wonder what local authorities they are involved in. It has certainly not been my experience. I think this is a relatively modest amendment which should pass scrutiny. I beg to move.


In fact I thought this was a rather surprising amendment. First, it is in direct conflict with an amendment tabled by the Labour Opposition in Committee in another place which sought to restrict local education authority appointees to no more than half the number of the governors. Secondly, it would in spirit run directly counter to the kind of experimentation in the composition of governing bodies which we are already seeing in Birmingham and other places, and which until now I had thought was welcomed by all parties. Thirdly, it would in practice be unworkable, because it would not be possible in the case of a voluntary aided school to fulfil both the requirements of the amendment and the requirement in subsection (4) that there should be a majority of foundation governors.

Our concern in determining the provisions of this clause has been to provide the maximum degree of local flexibility in the composition of school governing bodies. Subsection (2) does not require local education authorities to appoint a majority of governors for any school, and it may be that an increasing number will choose not to do so as they gain experience of the new kind of governing body which will be established by this Bill. As the Secretary of State made plain during the Second Reading debate, and as we had previously said in Committee on the 1978 Bill, we believe that it should be open to the local education authority which is responsible for the school to appoint a majority of the governors if that seems to them to be appropriate. It would, in our view, be wrong and against the interests of the efficient provision of education and the development of an effective role in that process, for the new governing bodies to deny local education authorities the right to appoint a majority if they so wish. But equally it would he wrong to compel them to appoint a larger proportion of the governing body than they might in some cases wish to do.


May I make my position clear on this? I am sorry I cannot support my noble friend on this amendment, and therefore I will not go into the Division Lobby with him; neither will I support the Government.

Baroness DAVID

May I say one thing about governing bodies. I mentioned in my first amendment that if you have too many people, say half of them, not representative of the LEA you will have a lot of governors who do not know what the position is about finance and so on. They may well be passing resolutions, "We would like to have another language taught"; or "We would like to have the heating improved"; or "We would like to have new curtains". They may pass resolutions about any number of things which will be taken no heed of at all. The local authority representatives should know what the position is; they should be truly representative, but not necessarily members of the Education Committee or of the Council. I think there is a misunderstanding about who are representative and what representatives should do.


As I listen, as an ex-headmaster, my blood runs a bit cold at all this talk about governing bodies and how they are constituted; but then it has been running pretty chilly since I read the Taylor Report. It bears so little relation to the way a school is actually run. The idea that governors will pass silly resolutions about an extra language being taught! Surely the headmaster or headmistress is there to tell them not to be so stupid because they cannot afford it. While we are talking about all these complicated arrangements about electing people who then elect other people, do let us remember that what goes on in a school—and the inspectors' reports show it—is determined more by the quality of the head teacher than anything else. Do not let us take this business of governors too seriously or we shall get our emphasis wrong.

Viscount RIDLEY

I should like to take up the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady David. I should have thought that a governor appointed by the education authority was just as likely as anybody, if not more so, to pass these hostile resolutions she spoke of.


After listening to the noble Lord, Lord James, I do suggest that there is a large educational world beyond his experience, perhaps a less happy educational world than the one he knows. We all know that headmasters can have a considerable influence. I remember once going to a meeting in the Palace of Westminster which was to be addressed by the headmaster of Eton. For some reason most of the people coming were a little late, and it was very interesting to notice how, even in late middle age, they were scurrying along the corridor at the thought of being late for a meeting addressed by a headmaster. In many State schools it really is not quite like that, and it is no good our discussing whether it ought to be. The governors, particularly when you go to all this trouble to appoint them, expect to have some influence about how the school is run.

It is to that problem, happily outside the experience of the noble Lord, Lord James, that we have now, whether we like it or not, to address ourselves. Since we are now dealing with a more modest amendment, that at any rate representatives of the local authority should not be in a minority, I believe the argument I was advancing earlier has considerable weight. It is to the local authority that people will turn, judging them to be ultimately responsible for the school. It is the members of the local authority, who will choose these governors, who will have run the real gauntlet of democratic election in which every citizen could vote. I have over the years welcomed the advance of the idea of governors other than those appointed by the local authority. But I do not believe that it is right to derogate from the real powers and responsibilities that ought to lie with those who have, in the end, been chosen by the electorate to be responsible for the education system. That is what is at stake in this amendment.


I do not know whether I am allowed to say another word, but if I am, I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, that in fact I have had experience as a governor of maintained schools and I was supporting him on this matter. He might not have believed it, but I was trying to emphasise that we must not go into all these tremendous elaborations about governors, when really the people who are running the school are the local authority, under the headmaster.


I hope that I may be forgiven for not quite understanding that the noble Lord was supporting me. However, as it is the wish of my noble friends to press this amendment to a vote, we shall see for certain.


I gather from the last remark of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, that the amendment is to be pressed. However, I should like to point out as regards the last comments that have been made, that it is rather interesting that here we have on the one hand the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, who is quite clearly against the amendment and with us; then the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, who stays strictly neutral and in the middle; and on the other hand, the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, and the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, who take the entirely opposite point of view. Therefore, who

would want to say that there can, in fact, be only one way that is right?

I believe that the Government have it right because, all else apart, if we leave aside all the other philosophical points as to what governors should and should not do, the fact is, as I said in my opening remarks, that it would be unworkable in practice because it would not be possible in the case of a voluntary-aided school to fulfil both the requirements of the amendment and the requirement in subsection (4), that there should be a majority of foundation governors.


In the light of all the possible permutations that the Minister has suggested might come about if we were to vote on the matter, I shall press my amendment.

5.22 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 9) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 144.

Aylestone, L. Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Paget of Northampton, L.
Birk, B. Gregson, L. Parry, L.
Blease, L. Hale, L. Peart, L.
Blyton, L. Henderson, L. Phillips, B.
Bowden, L. Heycock, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Brimelow, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Howie of Troon, L. Shinwell, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Jacobson, L. Soper, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Jacques, L. Stamp, L.
Collison, L. James of Rusholme, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Darwen, L. Jeger, B. Stewart of Fulham, L.
David, B. Kirkhill, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Leatherland, L. Strabolgi, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Lee of Newton, L. Strauss, L.
Denington, B. Listowel, E. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Diamond, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.] Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. McCarthy, L.] Underhill, L.
Gaitskell, B. McGregor of Durris, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Gardiner, L. Mishcon, L. Wells-Pestell, L. [Teller.]
Gordon-Walker, L. Noel-Baker, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Oram, L.
Airedale, L. Banks, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Barrington, V. Chorley, L.
Alexander of Potterhill, L. Beaumont of Whitley, L. Cottesloe, L.
Alport, L. Bellwin, L. Craigavon, V.
Amory, V. Belstead, L. Craigmyle, L.
Ampthill, L. Bessborough, E. Craigton, L.
Armstrong, L. Birdwood, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Auckland, L. Blake, L. Darcy (de Knayth), B.
Avon, E. Boyd of Merton, V. Daventry, V.
Balerno, L. Byers, L. Davidson, V.
Balfour of Inchyre, L. Caithness, E. de Clifford,.
De Freyne, L. Killearn, L. Ridley, V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Kilmany, L. Rochdale, V.
Derby, Bp. Kilmarnock, L. Rochester, L.
Derwent, L. Kinloss, Ly. Romney, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Kinnaird, L. Rosslyn, E.
Dundonald, E. Lauderdale, E. Saint Oswald, L.
Ebbisham, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Sandford, L.
Eccles, V. Long, V. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Elliot of Harwood, B. Lothian, M. Savile, L.
Elton, L. Loudoun, C. Seear, B.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Sempill, Ly.
Energlyn, L. Luke, L. Simon, V.
Exeter, M. Lyell, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Faithfull, B. Mais, L. Spens, L.
Falkland, V. Mansfield, E. Stradbroke, E.
Ferrers, E. Masham of Ilton, B. Strathcarron, L.
Fortescue, E. Minto, E. Strathclyde, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Monk Bretton, L. Strathspey, L.
Galloway, E. Monson, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Gibson-Watt, L. Morris, L. Suffield, L.
Gisborough, L. Motistone, L. Swaythling, L.
Glendevon, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Swinton, E.
Glenkinglas, L. Moyne, L. Teviot, L.
Gormanston, V. Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Teynham, L.
Gowrie, E. Newall, L. Tranmire, L.
Grey, E. Northchurch, B. Trefgarne, L.
Gridley, L. Norwich, Bp. Trenchard, V.
Haig, E. Nugent of Guildford, L. Vaizcy, L.
Halsbury, E. Ogmore, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hampton, L. Onslow, E. Vickers, B.
Hatherton, L. Orkney, E. Vivian, L.
Henley, L. Penrhyn, L. Westbury, L.
Hives, L. Rathcreedan, L. Wigoder, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Rawlinson of Ewell, L. Winstanley, L.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Redcliffe-Maud, L. Wolverton, L.
Hylton, L. Reigate, L. Wynford, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Renton, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment No. 9 disagreed to accordingly.

5.33 p.m.

Lord BROOKS of TREMORFA moved Amendment No. 10: Page 2, line 15, at end insert ("and governors appointed by any other local education authority if more than ten per cent. of the children at the school come from that authority's area.").

The noble Lord said: I shall not spend a great deal of time on this amendment. It was rather a puzzle to some of us that the provision contained in this amendment is not to be found in the original Bill. In my own area there are a number of examples of children from neighbouring local authorities attending our schools and, of course, vice versa. We are not suggesting for one moment that where there is a smattering of children from another local authority, there should be representation. However, the amendment I am moving suggests that if more than 10 per cent. of the children at a school come from another local authority, they should have representation on the governing body. I should have thought this a modest amendment and one to which the Government could agree. I beg to move.


I understand the noble Lord's intentions in seeking to establish through the governing body a link between schools and the areas from which the children who attend them come, although I am bound to say that the force of this amendment contrasts very strongly with that of Amendment No. 13, which is down in the names of noble Lords opposite. However, I think that it would be wrong in principle to give one local education authority a statutory voice in the way another local education authority carried out its statutory responsibilities; each LEA must be responsible for its own schools. The formulation proposed by the noble Lords in their amendment is in any event unsatisfactory as the numbers attending a school from a neighbouring authority could vary on either side of 10 per cent., or any other figure for that matter, from year to year, leading to continual upheaval in the governing body of the school. I, too, do not have a great deal to say on this amendment, but I am sure that this is something we can and should leave to the good sense of the authorities themselves.


I should like to put a point to the Minister. In a very rural area a boy living in a remote farmhouse—either in Wales or on the edge of the Pennine Chain (and I know of both cases)—may he sent to a school which is only half a mile or a mile away in another area. On the other hand, if he is sent to a school which falls within his county or division, he may have to go three miles and be moved around. I know that the Government want to save money, but at the same time I hope they do not destroy the educational purpose of British education. Nevertheless, I hope that they will look at this amendment with favour because, although a school may be in another educational area, if a legitimate percentage of children from area X go to school in area Y, it would be worthwhile to have some kind of representation in area Y. I do not think that it would be a waste of time to offer that facility, because it could improve the amenities and the understanding in the area of those living just over the border.

Viscount RIDLEY

I hope that the Committee will reject this amendment. I speak with experience of one who has been on the governing body of a school situated very close to a boundary. I can think of nothing in this amendment which would not lead to considerable friction between the two authorities, and I am sure that it would be wrong to make it part of law. Obviously, there will be consultations, and I have tabled a later amendment dealing with this. However, to have a compulsory requirement under the Bill would be wrong.

Baroness DAVID

One of the reasons for this amendment relates to points which will arise in later clauses in the Bill. If this Bill is passed, children will find it very much easier to get places in schools that are not in their own authority area. It was for that reason that we thought it right to table this amendment. After the Bill becomes law the situation will be very different from that which exists now.


I hardly think that the proposal would, to quote the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek: destroy the educational purpose of British education". I think that even the noble Lord might concede that that was marginally over-presenting the situation. Of course, my noble friend Lord Ridley is quite right; the amendment would, indeed, cause great friction. I can well imagine the real resentment there would be if this was to come about. I believe that each local education authority must be responsible for its own schools. Although, as I said, I understand the intent, nevertheless in practical terms—in terms of what really happens, so to speak, on the ground—I do not think that we can accept this amendment.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (The Earl of Listowel)

Does the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, wish to press his amendment?


In the light of what the Minister has said, I shall not press the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.39 p.m.

Lord BROOKS of TREMORFA moved Amendment No.11: Page 2, line 15, at end insert ("and in the appointment of such governors regard shall be had to the needs of further and higher education, industry, commerce and agriculture; and where appropriate community relations.").

The noble Lord said: Again, although I am disappointed with the Minister's reply with regard to Amendment No. 10, I should have thought that Amendment No. 11 should be included in the Bill anyway. The amendment simply says that the governor should have regard to the needs of further and higher education, industry, commerce and agriculture; and where appropriate community relations".

There is no doubt that the Minister will probably say that local authorities will almost certainly take these groups into account when they set up their governing bodies. But there are some local authorities that would not take account of the interests of these groups, who are essential to the smooth running of governing bodies. I know that on my governing body of my comprehensive school we deliberately look for people with special expertise who can help the governing body with their advice.

Particularly where you have a single industry, or a group of major industries within an area, it is helpful to the governing body to have assistance from that industry, to have representation from that industry, especially where you find the industry has provided generation after generation with employment in that particular area. Many of the children who go to comprehensive schools such as mine have had that experience. We feel that it is important, and we encourage bodies who can help our children by having them represented on the governing bodies. I beg to move.


May I support my noble friend on this question. It is vital that you get people who represent the community on governing bodies. For example, if you take Lancashire you get certain areas where you have the industrial community, and if you get a good industrialist on there then it is worth while because you get the connection with the industry in that area. If you are in a rural area where you have a strong agricultural connection, then you bring someone in from the agricultural community. These people can pass on advice to the staff of the schools for which the staff are crying out.

We find these days that so many people who are entering the teaching profession are going from school to college, college to university, university into teaching, and they are not getting the experience of industry and commerce, round about them. These people can give advice to the governing body as to what is going on in the community surrounding them. It is the same where you get a predominance of immigrant population where you can bring in one of the immigrant people to support and help you and give advice. This is important. I support my noble friend on this amendment.

Baroness SEEAR

We should like to support this amendment. We have an amendment down later which asks for much the same matters to be taken into account in a more specific way. But, on the belt and braces principle, we would none the less support this more general amendment in the hope that we shall get support for our amendment later.


I, too, would like to support this amendment. I think it may be much better in some areas, but in many areas, and in many areas in London where my experience is, there is a lamentable divorce between those who are concerned with industry and the secondary schools in the area. There has been some improvement, but so far as I can see it is minimal. I sat for a number of years on a Quango which has unhappily now been disbanded. It was the South East Economic Planning Council. This was a matter of continual concern to the industrialists on that council. They were eminent people; they were active. They were concerned with our national welfare, and they came back repeatedly to this particular subject, the divorce between our secondary schools and industry, for the very reason that my noble friend Lord Taylor of Blackburn has just given. Teachers go from school to training school or university and then back into school, and they therefore, naturally, can interest their pupils academically but cannot talk about the industrial world. They do not know the industrial world, and they do not go out into the industrial world and try to get the industrial world to liaise with the schools.

I have talked to industrialists. I have been to visit them in their factories. They are all too willing to show the children that it is not just a job on a bench, that there are progressive opportunities within their industries and there is a career structure that a child can follow, and things that they know nothing about at all in the schools. It is important in the interests of our nation that we have this close relationship between the schools and industry. It is not true in my experience that you get industrialists on the governing bodies. I have sat on governing bodies and they are not there. If we wrote this into the Bill, it could do nothing but good.

Viscount RIDLEY

I think we would all have a great deal of sympathy with the objects of the amendment. I certainly do, having been responsible for the appointment of such bodies, and anybody who can should try to get these people of experience in local industry involved. May I ask the Minister whether such a clause is enforceable at law? It seems to me almost impossible to enforce.


The beauty of the amendment seems to me to be its appeal to the Government's well advertised magnanimity in this debate. They have the opportunity here to accept a view. The most serious criticism of the amendment is that it is a statement of intent, a direction, rather than something which the Government have thought to put in themselves. There is an opportunity for the Minister to accept this in view of the support that comes for the amendment from around the Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, picked up a phrase of my noble friend as an example, as he thought, of tautology. I was interested that it coincided more with Ezra Pound's version of logopoeia, which was in fact a play on the meaning of words; the shade of the context. From the noble Lord we expect far more than the use of a word; we expect the context as well. From the Government we have the right to expect here far more than a play on words, and the simple acceptance that the Committee think that it is a good idea to have this amendment.


On the question of enforceability, may I assure the noble Lord that it is common to have expressions of this kind in the qualifications expected for all sorts of boards and institutions governmentally appointed: persons experienced in industry, in commerce, the professions, or such like.

5.48 p.m.


As for the sentiments, there is no difference at all between us. Indeed, during the debate in Committee in another place my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State made it clear that we wholly agree with the sentiment behind the amendment. However, in the Bill before this House we are seeking to leave the maximum flexibility in the hands of local education authorities. I have no doubt that the right of appointment should rest with them, and I think we can safely leave it to authorities in making appointments under either subsection (2) or subsection (10) of Clause 2 to ensure that membership of governing bodies adequately and appropriately reflects local circumstances and needs.

While it is true in my exprience that the extent of appointments of such categories of people as are referred to in the amendment has certainly not hitherto been as extensive as one would like to see it, it would not be correct to say that one has not seen such appointments made. Quite the contrary. If it could be that this debate today and any publicity from it would highlight this to those who might offer themselves, then it might be a contribution which we should all like to see. But in terms of the amendment I would have to ask your Lordships' Committee not to accept it, while sympathising with the sentiments behind it, on the basis that we have to have confidence and leave flexibility to the authorities themselves.


If the Minister hopes that the debate and the fact that this amendment has been put forward will encourage such people to come forward and encourage people to appoint them, how much more so would that be the case if this were written into the Bill? I am not entirely happy with the wording of the amendment—it is not just the needs of industry and agriculture, although, of course, it includes those—because it concerns the needs of the children to know about these things, and perhaps at a later stage we could have another look at the wording. Nevertheless, this is an important amendment and the Minister has not answered it. "Maximum flexibility "would in no way be impaired by acceptance of the amendment; nor can we leave it to the local authorities, as anyone who looks round some of the local authorities and their appointments will be aware. I therefore hope the amendment will be pressed to a Division.


The Minister said that, if this debate got publicity, it might encourage people from industry to come forward. Is it not a fact—we must recognise facts and to me, from my experience, it is a fact—that they would have to come forward through the party political machine? I believe that is so generally throughout the country. The people of whom I am thinking are not concerned in any way with the party political machine; they are the people whose services the nation needs, and I urge noble Lords opposite to recognise that. We should all be at one on this. I believe we are at one, and I therefore urge the Government to accept the amendment.


I support the amendment. For about five years, some years ago I was a governor of a boys' comprehensive school and this subject was one of those I thought terribly important. Occasionally they allowed boys to spend a day or half a day a week visiting a factory or some other institution. I really cannot understand why the Government are opposing the amendment. It is what we need at this time in this country; all our troubles would be lessened if we had one or two generations of boys who had experience in this way. Spending a day or half a day at a factory is nothing. We want to expand this idea and I therefore support the amendment not 100 per cent. but 200 per cent.


As chairman of an education committee for about 30 years, I cannot see anything fundamentally wrong with the amendment. There is a tendency on the part of governors to restrict the constitutional governors appointed to local education authorities so that they are not broad-based enough to help boys and girls at that stage. However, I wish to refute one statement; boys and girls in secondary schools do visit industry; they have careers officers to assist them and the teachers are not simply academic. In many cases, they have experience of the outside world. In my view the inclusion of the amendment would assist local authorities to broaden the base about which I have spoken. After all, we are entering a changed pattern of society. The technology of our future generations is bound to have an impact on the social community and its economic input, and it is therefore desirable to broaden the base of governors in that sense. I know from experience that these people tend to be inbred, so to speak, to want to retain their own function. Speaking from long experience of these matters—chairman of six governing bodies, chairman of an education committee for many years and having had long experience of applying articles of management and articles of governors—I am certain that the amendment would do nothing but good in relation to the constitution of governors.


The Government arc being implored in all quarters of the Committee to accept the amendment, and I really feel they should. On the question of enforceability, my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger pointed out that it has been considered for a long time to he useful to put, what I would call, clauses of exhortation into a Bill; they are a reminder. It might happen that a local authority behaved in a slovenly fashion over its appointment of governors and paid no attention to the kind of thing mentioned in this proposal. If, on the other hand, the amendment were in the Bill, the Secretary of State would then have a solid ground on which to tell them to think again. Without this provision, he could not do that, and it is a well-known principle of law that if there is in a statute something which advises against a particular abuse, it is likely to raise the general standard of behaviour. Not many local authorities would ignore all these things, but the fact that if one of them did the Secretary of State could act would, I think, act as a general stimulus to them.

The argument has been used, "We want to give as much freedom as possible to local authorities". But do the Government really want to give local authorities freedom to ignore in the appointment of governors the needs of further and higher education, industry, commerce, agriculture and, where appropriate, community relations? I do not believe the Government can want to say, "We want local authorities to he free to ignore all those considerations". That is really what they will be saying if they reject the amendment. I have seen ministerial briefs for dealing with amendments, line after line, lines of notes, and notes on an amendment handed to a Minister usually begin with the word "resist "underlined. I implore the Minister on this occasion to be a devil, throw it out of the window and accede to what is clearly the wish of all parts of the Committee.


I wish to add my voice in support of the amendment, and particularly the part which refers to community relations. Noble Lords who come from large urban areas containing large numbers of people from many parts of the world know that those people feel deprived on some occasions because they feel they are not drawn into what we call the "goings on "in the area. Nothing but good could come from stating categorically that this is a representation which is vital, especially in large urban areas like Bradford, London, Birmingham and Manchester where there is a concentration of various ethnic groups. While I will not reiterate what my noble friends have said on other topics, I feel strongly that appropriate representation of community relations is vital in our inner cities.


It is clear that a large number of noble Lords on both sides of the Committee have some sympathy with the objectives of the amendment. Many of us have tried to say what good it would do. May I ask the Minister to say what harm it would do?

Viscount ECCLES

I have sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, said. It is a fact that some local authorities, especially when expenses were paid to governors, tended to fill governorships with their own nominees without thinking enough about the interests of the neighbourhood. It is that we no doubt want to get rid of and I am certain that my noble friends on the Government Front Bench are as keen as any noble Lord opposite that the interests of industry or agriculture, for example, should be represented. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, was right when he said that the wording of the amendment was not quite what one would like to see. I therefore wonder whether my noble friend could look at the matter and perhaps reintroduce the amendment in a way which made the case for the children, because after all that is what we are after. This is something that has happened recently and the need to unify the community and its interests is much clearer to everybody today than it was five or 10 years ago, and I think this would be a step in the right direction.

6 p.m.

Baroness YOUNG

I intervene in this debate because I should like to make a quite different point from any which has been made. The entire discussion on this amendment has centred on representative governors. The amendment talks about governors who would have regard to the needs of further and higher education, industry, commerce and agriculture and where appropriate community relations; but it is a rather similar amendment to Amendment No. 29, and the sequence which follows on that is rather more prescriptive. What the House has great sympathy with—the Government certainly do—is that the relationship between education and industry should be improved. I should like to stress that this is not going to happen simply through representative governors on school governing bodies.

I should like to draw the attention of the House to our very important consultative document, which we have just published, on a framework for the curriculum, in which the point is made that the school curriculum should look to the importance of stressing to children the need to understand industry and the wealth-creating factors in our society. This would apply to industry, to commerce, or to agriculture, dependent upon where the school is. Furthermore, we are very actively looking at the whole question in that connection of careers officers. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Heycock, who made a very important point about this, because encouraging children either to have work experience courses or to go out and see the industries in their neighbourhood is not, on the whole, going to be done by school governors but by careers officers, by the attitude of the staff in the school. This is very important. I make these points because the suggestion seems to be implied that if you do not have a school governor who is representative of industry or of agriculture or of commerce, somehow this will be forgotten in the school curriculum. This is not the case.

Baroness SEEAR

Nobody is suggesting that the governors will do it all by themselves, but if these people are on the governing body it prompts the work of the professionals who have to carry it out. It is a partnership between the two. It cannot do anything but strengthen the hands of the people who have to carry it out if those interests are also on the governing body.


To prevent the noble Baroness having to speak twice, could I make two points? We are not talking about curriculum content at all. Curriculum content is a very different subject and one which will occupy us considerably in the course of this debate. We arc talking about involvement within the community and the representation of the school, a point which the noble Baroness gladly accepted earlier this afternoon in respect of the primary schools. Having made that point, it is essential that it should he pointed out that Amendment No. 29 does not bear any relationship whatever to this amendment. The amendment, as stated, deals with community orientation. In making those two corrective points, I do not want to lose the Minister's sympathy. I want to bind it tight with this amendment. It would be a pity if, in seeking to find a reason for what is quite clearly an intention, she were to lose touch with the real feeling of the Committee on all sides that we should make a statement within the Act which will lead to a better representation on the community base of the school.


We are concerned mainly with the constitution of the governors. The curriculum is a matter which does not enter into it at this stage. We are trying to broaden the base of the governors so that there is personal contact with industry. Curricula are taught by the teachers. I say this with respect. There is too much interference with the curricula and too much expert advice about what should be taught in the school without realising significantly what is taught in the school. Experts from the Department of Education and Science may visit a school twice and suddenly make up their minds that there must be a change in the curriculum. We are not talking about curricula but about the constitution of the governors. Is the future constitution of governors to be along certain lines? They should represent industry, agriculture and commerce. We should confine ourselves to that. If the government are concerned, as I said earlier, about relating to industry I do not see how they can object very seriously to this amendment. I agree with the noble Lord who said that sometimes we are concerned mainly to retain power. This amendment broadens the base of future governing bodies.


May I ask the noble Lord whether he is referring just to the DES or to the Welsh Office as well?


They know me in Cardiff. There is no need to refer to them because they have knowledge of me over the years.


I sympathise with the poor Minister who has now had about five interventions in the midst of a speech which I am sure she meant to be helpful but which, so far, has not been. I want to make two points to her most respectfully. The first one is a very blunt point. I speak with some knowledge having been for over 20 years associated with the governorships of comprehensive schools in the London area. If there is any complaint at all by people who are parents in a school, it is that—and I am using the word advisedly and I may be attacked for it—political hacks are too often put on governing bodies with political parties actually calling for volunteers in their midst who would want to sit as governors of schools and say they are governors. When we are looking at a new Education Bill, it is time that we gave some guidance. We are asking for no more in this connection. That is item number one.

Item number two, to which I should like to direct the Minister's attention, is this. So often I have found a principal of a school, who is immersed, and delightfully so, in academic matters and in specialist matters relating to teaching, looking for guidance in her governing body, not in regard to curriculum, but in regard to matters which are going to help the children when they leave school. So often at governors' meetings, I have found a principal looking in vain for such guidance among the managers, as we used to know them, of some schools and the governors of others.

This is a great opportunity to give guidance. It is not mandatory. It is to give guidance and I would have thought, with respect, that the Minister would have welcomed this opportunity to do something about our governing bodies and to do it in a positive way instead of weakly hoping—I do not mean that offensively and she knows that—that some words spoken in this debate and possibly recorded somewhere will be remembered by local authorities in the future when they come to appoint governors in their schools.


Might I ask the noble Ministers, who I know are loaded with questions, to remember my simple question. What harm would it do if this amendment were accepted?


I wish that the noble Lords who keep intervening in this debate would not constantly refer to broad-based governors. I have been a governor for some time and I am getting broader H the base all the time!

Baroness YOUNG

About 14 speeches ago I was last on my feet arguing a point. I will try to pick up where I left off. I am perfectly well aware that this section of the Bill does not deal with the school curriculum. I made the point because it is the other half of the argument and we ought not to lose sight of what is going on and what the staff of the school could do. I make it because I do not recognise that this section of the Bill is concerned with school governors.

I thought the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was going to tell me, now that I am a grandmother, to suck eggs, but he did not. He avoided that, just. I think his words were that we should avoid too many political hacks. I am wondering how he thinks this amendment would prevent us falling into this trap. In order to find governors for governing bodies, people we would all like to see, able people serving on school governing bodies who have knowledge in this particular way, a local authority would need a list of people. In fact, local authorities are going to have to look for extra governors if they are going to have governors of every secondary and every primary school. They are going to have to extend the net very much wider than they do, and they are going to have to make the appointments. If, as the noble Baroness, Lady Denington, has said, this is all a political fix anyway, it will not really matter whether this is in or not; it will remain a political fix. But if, as we would like to feel, we are in fact widening the net this amendment will not enable us to do it at all.

My answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton, is that as with many of these things I do not think it would make a great deal of difference one way or the other about this matter. The fact is that if it was read by local education authorities as being prescriptive we should end up by having very big governing bodies. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, has just moved an amendment to have the majority of governors local education authority representatives. We have all agreed that there should be two teachers and two parents, so we have already got to nine governors at the minimum. There would then be the head teacher, which would bring the number to 10. There would have to be another LEA representative; that is 11—perhaps I might finish this argument; I have given way before. By the time one had a representative of industry and commerce or agriculture, higher and further education and a majority of local education authority governors, there would be a very big governing body.

On the final point about community relations, where there is a school in which the catchment area has quite a number of representatives of the ethnic minorities I would hope that they would come on as parent governors. I would welcome that as very much of a strengthening of governing bodies.


The noble Baroness has already given away the point that I wanted to make, which is that representatives of industry and so forth are not necessarily additional. Local authority representatives and teacher and parent representatives would surely include son-le people who had that kind of experience. They should be so elected.

Baroness YOUNG

If that is the case, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent that from happening. What we are arguing for, as my noble friend Lord Bellwin made perfectly clear in his remarks, is the least prescription and the maximum flexibility. What noble Lords opposite are arguing, for is a much more prescriptive form of governing body in which there would be less flexibility and in which local authorities would be bound to find these suitable representatives for every single school.

Baroness DAVID

We are not asking for every governing body to have all these people. It depends on the area. In some areas there would be one and in other areas another. As my noble friend has said, the representatives from the local authority can provide some of the places for these people.


The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, offered some while ago what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable solution. The Minister agrees with us and has said so, and the only support she quotes in disagreement is from the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, who sits beside her. The feeling of the House is totally with her, and surely we should accept the former Minister of Education's suggestion that the Government look at the wording.


I do not think I can let that go out. The fact is that it all boils down to, "Yes, there is the agreement of everyone that the sentiments behind this amendment are what we want to see happen". We are disagreeing on how it should happen and what effect the amendment might have to ensure that it did happen. That is the issue. One may always be able to pick out the odd situation where it would not be so, but in the main the Government are very anxious to leave it to the good sense and responsibility of the local authority. We must stand on that in regard to this amendment.

Viscount SIMON

The noble Baroness said that we were adding prescription. Surely when one asks people to have regard to something one is not prescribing anything but merely reminding them of something they should do.


The noble Baroness has said that there is not much difference between us. If that is the case, why can she not agree? We are asking the local education authorities to broaden their base. In the area I come from it does not necessarily mean there would be a representative of agriculture. If one lives in a rural area, one would have a representative of agriculture. The normal size of a governing body is about 18, and I am pretty certain that within the confines of that 18 one can find sufficient representation. This is not really prescribing anything. We are really saying to the local education authorities, "For goodness sake, in the changing pattern of our society, please broaden the base of your governing body and bring on to it experience outside sheer local government administration". If, as the Minister says, there is not much difference between us, I cannot understand why she does not concede the point.

Baroness DAVID

Does the Minister agree with her noble friend that she ought to take this amendment back and bring it forward again better worded? I admit it is not perfect. If she would take it back and give us an assurance that such an amendment will come before us at Report stage, we will not press this amendment now. But if we do not have that assurance we shall certainly press the amendment.

Baroness YOUNG

I entirely understand the view of the noble Baroness, Lady David. It is her view that this amendment should be made, and if she takes that view she must press it. Perhaps I used—I accept the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Simon —the wrong word when I said that the amendment was prescriptive. At the risk of repetition, I would say again what my noble friend Lord Bellwin said—that, in relation to school governors, everybody has ideas as to who would be the right sort of representative person to have on a governing body. It is perfectly clear from the later amendments that there are all sorts of other ideas, including having a pupil on the governing body.

In the case of head teachers, quite rightly it is to be left to them whether or not they would like to be on governing bodies. There is also the question of non-teaching staff. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has put down an amendment about a representative of industry and a representative of the trade unions. There is a long list of people. The further we go down this path the more we are saying to local education authorities, "You must take account of all these factors in your deliberations". I believe that local education authorities will look outside the narrow confines of their own members. I do not think that they will need the reminder that is being suggested in this Bill, which I believe will affect the relationship between central and local government at a time when we are very anxious to give local government the maximum flexibility on these matters. I am sorry but I cannot accept this amendment.


I do not want to tell the Opposition how to do their job. They are particularly active at the moment. I should have thought that if the substance behind this amendment is something that they really want to push at the end of the day, they ought not to be poaching on this particular amendment but ought to wait until we get to Amendments Nos. 26 and 27, in which they specifically outline what in this amendment is a general sort of suggestion as to what governors or councils might keep in their minds. They have on the record how they feel about this question, and they have from my noble friend, and from my other noble friend Lord Eccles, who is experienced in these matters, much sympathy for the general proposition—

Baroness DAVID

Will the noble Lord allow me to intervene? I do not know whether he was in the Chamber when the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said that she and her colleagues would not press their amendment to our Amendment No. 26, if we were to press ours; that they accepted ours, rather than theirs.

Baroness SEEAR

If the noble Baroness, Lady David, looks at Hansard tomorrow morning, she will find that I did not say that. I fear that the noble Baroness, Lady David, does not understand the phrase "belt and braces". That phrase, if I may tell the noble Baroness, means that you have two safeguards against disaster.


The noble Baroness and I are very much in line on this matter. There are on the Marshalled List two proposals directed to my noble friend as to how the Bill can be improved. One is the amendment now being discussed, which adds up to nothing; it is only words and general advice. The other amendment means the same thing, but says it rather specifically. The noble Baroness tried to frighten my noble friend a little by saying that she might press the matter to a vote. Why anyone should ever be afraid of a decision going to a vote I do not know. If one is to use the weapon of a vote eventually in order to get points made, the time to vote is when we come to Amendments Nos. 26 and 27, not now on this amendment. The point has been made now. It is terribly pompous of me to tell any- body how to deal with this matter, but I bet that the noble Baroness's noble friend sitting beside her agrees with what I am saying. He has a vast experience in this field, and he knows that the words that one should insert in a Bill are those words which will mean something, rather than words which merely express a general idea without any force behind them. I say to noble Lords opposite: if you want to have an effect on the Bill, do not waste your vote on this amendment. You have made your point; use your vote when we get to Amendment No. 26 or 27.

My noble friend mentioned Amendment No. 27 in passing. That is what drew my attention to it. I wonder whether she can give any indication of how she is likely to react to Amendment No. 27. If my noble friend is in the position that when we get to Amendment No. 27 she may be able to go partly along the road which noble Lords are suggesting, that may prevent the vote that is being threatened now. I would not vote on this amendment. I would hold my fire and, if necessary, vote on Amendments Nos. 26 and 27.


Since the noble Lord has referred to me so definitely, I think that I should reply. I have indeed long experience of debating with him, and it has taught me that he is almost invariably wrong, as indeed he is in this instance. One of the grumbles from the Government about our amendment is that it is too prescriptive, though the noble Baroness admitted that "prescribe "is too strong a word. But Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 are rather more prescriptive; they would arouse greater hostility from the Government. When the noble Lord speaks of our wasting our vote on this amendment, does he imagine that we come here with only a certain number of votes available? If the noble Lord really prefers Amendments Nos. 26 and 27, I trust that if we are defeated, and noble Lords on the Liberal Benches press their proposal to a vote, we shall then see the noble Lord putting his feet where his mouth is.

6.23 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 11) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 122.

Airedale, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Phillips, B.
Aylestone, L. Gregson, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Banks, L. Grey, E. Rochester, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Hale, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Birk, B. Hampton, L. Seear, B.
Blease, L. Heycock, L. Shinwell, L.
Blyton, L. Hood, V. Simon, V.
Boston of Faversham, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Stamp, L.
Bowden, L. Howie of Troon, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Brimelow, L. Jacobson, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Brockway, L. Jacques, L. Stone, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa,L. Jeger, B. Strabogli, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Kilmarnock, L. Strrauss, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Kirkhill, L. Swaythling, L.
Collison, L. Leatherland, L. Tanlaw, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B. Lee of Newton, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Darwen, L. Listowel, E. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
David, B. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Underhill, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Longford, E. Wallace of Coslany, L.[Teller.]
Denington, B. McGregor of Durris, L.
Diamond, L. Masham of Ilton, B. Wells-Pestell, L.[Teller.]
Elwyn-Jones, L. Mishcon, L. Wigoder, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Neol-Baker, L. Winstanley, L.
Gaitskell, B. Ogmore, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
Gardiner, L. Oram, L. Wynne-Jones, L.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Parry, L. Young of Dartington, L.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Peart, L..
Airey of Abingdon, B. Glendevon, L. Norwich, Bp.
Alport, L. Gormanston, V. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Amory, V. Gowrie, E. Onslow, E.
Auckland, L. Greenway, L. Orkney, E.
Avon, E. Gridley, L. Penrhyn, L.
Balerno, L. Haig, E. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Reigate, L.
Bellwin, L. Renton, L.
Belstead, L. Hampden, V. Ridley, V.
Bessborough, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Rochdale, V.
Blake, L. Hatherton, L. Romney, E.
Boyd of Merton, V. Henley, L. Rosslyn, E.
Caithness, E. Hives, L. St. Davids, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Cathcart, E. Hornsby-Smith, B. Sandford, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Hylton-Foster, B. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Cottesloe, L. James of Rusholme, L. Savile, L.
Craigavon, V. Killearn, L. Selkirk, E.
Craigmyle, L. Kilmany, L. Sempill, Ly.
Craigton, L. Kinloss, Ly. Skelmersdale, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Kinnaird, L. Spens, L.
Davidson, V. Kinnoull, E. Stradbroke, E.
de Clifford, L. Lauderdale, E. Strathcarron, L.
De Freyne, L. Long, V. Strathclyde, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Loudoun, C. Strathspey, L.
Derby, Bp. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Digby, L. Luke, L. Suffield, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Lyell, L. Swinton, E.
Dundonald, E. Mackay of Clashfern, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Eccles, V. Macleod of Borve, B. Tranmire, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mais, L. Trefgarne, L.
Elton, L. Mansfield, E. Trenchard, V.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Monk Bretton, L. Trumpington, B.
Exeter, Bp. Monson, L. Vaizey, L.
Faithfull, B. Morris, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Falkland, V. Mottistone, L, Vickers, B.
Ferrers, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Vivian, L.
Fortescue, E. Moyne, L. Westbury, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Wolverton, L.
Galloway, E. Newall, L. Wynford, L.
Gisborough, L. Northchurch, B. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendment No. 11A not moved.]

6.33 p.m.

Baroness DAVID moved Amendment No. 12: Page 2, line 16, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Baroness said: My noble friend is not here and I was not expecting to move this amendment, which is to leave out subsection (3). This is a probing amendment, and the point of it is that we want to find out the attitude of the Government to the minor authority representation. The Taylor Report did not favour having minor authority representation, but this clause says that there shall be at least one governor appointed by that authority. What I think we want to know is: What do the Government mean by "minor authority"? It can be a parish meeting, a parish council or a district council; there can be all manner of minor authorities. What we want to know is exactly what they have in mind, and whether they think there should be more than one governor if there are several minor authorities represented. This is almost inevitable where you have a secondary school in the country, for there are going to be a great many parish councils involved, or a district council involved. So what we should like is enlightenment. I beg to move.


The Taylor Report recommended that the right of minor authorities to representation on the governing bodies of primary schools in their area should be discontinued. However, this was in the context of their more general recommendations concerning the composition of governing bodies, and they went on to reaffirm the value of members drawn from such authorities. Reactions to the Taylor Report showed that the links between primary schools and their communities are often much valued, and the last Government's Bill recognised this by retaining a right of appointment for minor authorities. Our approach to the composition of governing bodies differs markedly both from that recommended by Taylor and from that of the last Government, but we share that Government's views concerning the value of minor authority involvement in primary school governing bodies. It is for this reason that we have continued their existing right of representation, although in a form more in keeping with the flexible approach to the composition of governing bodies which is embodied in Clause 2 as a whole. I must stress that the provision made in subsection (3) is for a minimum level of representation. Where it is considered appropriate and desirable locally, representation can, and I am sure will, be larger. As for the definition of a minor authority in this context, I think one would have to say a parish council, certainly, and not totally exclude but not automatically include a district council.

Viscount RIDLEY

I hope the Government will leave this provision in the Bill. I think the link between a primary school and the parish council (where there is a parish council) has proved extremely valuable, and I think it would cause a great deal of unhappiness in the rural community if this link were to be compulsorily discontinued. There are, of course, other arguments to be advanced when we are talking about a district council, which may or may not be a very large authority; and it is not necessarily a minor one, either. But where we have a parish council—and we do over most of England and Wales; or England, anyway—then I think we should try to keep this link between the primary school and the parish council if it is at all possible.

Viscount SIMON

I should like to support the view which has just been expressed by the noble Viscount. I think it would be very unfortunate not to have representation of the parish council if it can possibly be arranged.


The noble Minister bracketed together parish councils and district councils. Surely that is a mistake. A parish council is a small entity which we can all visualise, but there are district councils in the country which cover nearly 100,000 inhabitants. Surely those two cannot be treated in the same way. I wonder whether the noble Lord would like to clarify the situation.


The noble Baroness may find it helpful if I say that in the supplementary note to Clause 2 in these very helpful Notes on Clauses which the Government have issued, copies of which noble Lords will find in the Printed Paper Office, there is a very clear definition of what the Bill means by a "minor authority". Noble Lords will find it on page 5.


I am sorry I was out of the Chamber at the beginning of this debate but, as the noble Minister has quoted my committee on this, may I tell him and the Committee that the situation was that my committee was very much divided about this matter. They had mixed views and reservations about whether there should or should not be such representation. Therefore, being a very good democrat and being the chairman of the committee, I asked them to express a majority vote, and they expressed a majority vote in the way that the recommendation indicates. Nevertheless, I feel that the amendment which is laid before your Lordships—and I hope the Minister will accept this, because I think it is something which should be gone into very carefully—will certainly help us a great deal if the Minister will accept it.


Perhaps I may first, in order to help the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, give in detail the definition of a minor authority. It is: ."!where the area served by the school is a parish or community, the parish or community council; if the parish has no council then the minor authority is the parish meeting. If the area is a community having no council or is an area in England not in a parish or metropolitan county, then the district council is the minor authority. If the school serves the area of more than one minor authority then they act jointly for the purposes of appointing school governors. By virtue of Section 31(10) of the London Government Act 1963, in the area served by the ILEA the councils of the inner London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London are minor authorities.". Otherwise, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Ridley and to the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, for their endorsement of the Government's position on this. I feel this is something desirable; but I think the amendment is one that we could not accept. It seems to me that the noble Baroness may feel that this is one that she might wish to withdraw.


Although accepting the explanation of the noble Lord, could he explain the reason why a district council, which is a non-metropolitan district, should be excluded? In the "mets" we are all right; they are educational authorities. While appreciating why the parish councils, because of their local contact, should be represented, why should the district council, a very important unit, be excluded? What is the reason?


The district council is not necessarily excluded. It is prescriptive in this sense. It is a question of the definition and in what circumstances it would fill the role of a minor authority. I thought that the definition that I read out made the point of the circumstances in which it would do so; but, by itself, this amendment and this part of the Bill is referring to the minor authority as such. I respectfully submit that that is what we must content ourselves with at this moment.

Baroness DAVID

I said that this was a probing amendment and I shall withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 12A, 13, and 14 not moved.]

Baroness DAVID moved Amendment No. 15: Page 2, line 24, at end insert ("and the number of governors appointed by the local education authority shall be greater than the number of foundation governors.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment aims to give the governing bodies of a controlled school the same sort of rights as those of the governing body of an aided school. By Clause 2(4)(b), the foundation governors outnumber the other members of the governing body and have the majority. The point of this amendment is that the number of governors appointed by the local education authority shall be greater than the number of foundation governors in the case of a controlled school. I think it is straightforward. It puts the two on a par.


This amendment seeks to ensure that the local education authority responsible for the maintenance of a controlled school shall always have a stronger voice on the governing body of that school than the foundation governors. I think it is unnecessary, however, because the making of Instruments for voluntary schools is a matter for the Secretary of State, who, by virtue of Section 17(4) of the 1944 Act, must consult with the local education authority and others concerned before making Instruments. It is inconceivable that any Secretary of State would seek to limit the local education authority. I think this is another instance level of foundation representation without the full agreement of all concerned. On the other hand, he would not wish statutorily to preclude the possibility if, in the light of local circumstances, there was a genuine wish on the part of all concerned for the foundation representation to be greater than that of the local education authority. I think this is another instance where we could leave it to the good sense of the local education authority.

Baroness DAVID

With that explanation, I will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

6.45 p.m.

Lord BEAUMONT of WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 17: Page 2, line 30, leave out ("one") and insert ("two").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 17, it may be to your Lordships' advantage to consider also Amendment No. 20 which is purely consequential and, possibly, Amendment No. 23, because the principle is the same. I will not burden your Lordships with a long explanation. We all know the arguments in favour of more parent governors. I must confess that I am not entirely clear on what are the arguments against them; but the arguments for them have been well rehearsed, not least in the report of the Taylor Committee. We on these Benches, both here and in another place, would like to have seen greater representation. In seeking to raise this matter in this Committee, I have had regard to the fact that I thought it was in accordance with our traditions that we did not bring forward matters which had been decided in another place on a vote. This amendment, I think, falls into that category. As a result, I suppose, it falls into the category of perhaps asking for too little; because we are now a little despondent about getting the kind of representation that we should like to see on governing bodies.

There is one specific point that I should like to make in favour of the appointment of two parent governors where, anyway, there was going to be one. It is that if you have someone else who has the same interest as you—and I use the word in its more technical sense—it is much easier to get things done and to try to push things forward. I am sure it will be said by some Members of this Committee that we do not want to have people voting in categories; that would be disastrous if we had the parent governors against the teacher governors and against the local education authority governors. I agree entirely; but none the less, I do not think that that is an argument against having a minimum of two where there are definite categories. No one can deny that the category of a parent governor is a special category representing, in a way, a special, interest and we hope, in the future, even to be elected by them.

I suppose that it is an argument which comes particularly deep from the hearts of Members of this Committee on these Benches because the Liberal Party, over a period of time in the past when it was a lot less strong in the country than it is now, suffered time and again from the situation of having only one representative on a local authority and from the difficulty that that caused. If you are to have representation at all, there is something to be said for having representation of sufficient size. I think that means, too, that there can be mutual support within the representation. The Government have given way on the point of specific representation. Parent governors are written into this Bill. When I say, "given way ", I am not implying that they did so in any way unwillingly. I think it right that they did it. But it is not open to them to argue that there cannot be specialist categories of governors. We have them. What we want to decide now is the best number in any particular category. There is a considerable case for saying that two people would be twice as effective as one.

Baroness YOUNG

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, is asking for two parent governors in voluntary aided schools. Subsection (5) of the Bill provides, as in the case of county schools, that only one of these parents needs to be elected from the body of the parents. The noble Lord will see that subsection 4(b) provides that one of the foundation governors must be a parent. In this way we are setting the minimum requirement of two parents, as in the case of county schools. Therefore, we support the noble Lord's argument, and hope he will agree that his amendment is unnecessary as the point is already met.


I accept what the Minister says. I had a feeling when drafting the amendment that I did not fully understand the clause. However, I hope that the Committee will have some sympathy with me. I am delighted that the Government have covered the point in the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 18 not moved.]

6.50 p.m.

Baroness DAVID moved Amendment No. 19: Page 2, line 31, leave out ("at the time of his appointment").

The noble Baroness said: The point of this amendment is that a parent governor must continue to be the parent of a child at the school. A parent could be appointed, the child might leave the school, and one would then lose the representation on that governing body of a parent with a child at the school. We wish to ensure that whoever is the parent governor should remain a parent governor at that school but that, if the child leaves, the parent will have to go off the school body.

Baroness YOUNG

This amendment seeks to strengthen the point made by Lord Beaumont on Amendment No. 17. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady David, will accept that the Bill, as drafted, ensures that there will be two parent governors in voluntary aided schools. What she is saying is that the parent governor appointed by the foundation should be able to serve beyond the moment at which his child has left the school, but that the length of time beyond which the parent should serve would be limited.

As the instrument of government for each voluntary school is made by the Secretary of State, and as we accept this principle, the Committee can take it that the Secretary of State would not approve of a parent governor staying on for any length of time after the child had left the school.

If we were to accept this amendment, it would mean that at the very moment when the child left the school the parent governor would have to resign abruptly and somebody would have to be found to fill the vacancy. However, as I said earlier, the point is met in the Bill.

Baroness DAVID

How long after the child has left will that governor remain in the job?

Baroness YOUNG

We intend to see that it will be a short period of time. However, if we were to accept the amendment as drafted, it would mean that a parent with more than one child in the school would have to cease to be a governor not more than 12 months after the eldest child left the school, notwithstanding the fact that one or more children were still in the school. Therefore, the amendment as worded would not have the desired effect.

I take the point that it would be wrong for a parent to continue to be a parent representative long after the child had left the school. But since we are agreed on the importance of having two parents and do not wish to make the process automatic on the child's leaving the school, I believe that it can be left to the Secretary of State to ensure that the principle will be adhered to and the gap will not be too long.


I follow a great deal of the Minister's remarks, but I am puzzled about one matter. I can see the Secretary of State approving the instrument of government, but I cannot see him scrutinising the list of governors in each school and being aware that the child of one of them had left that school six or 12 months earlier. Will it be possible for the Secretary of State by his own action to determine that a governor does not go on being a governor long after his child has left the school? The Minister asks my noble friend Lady David not to press the amendment, on the ground that the Secretary of State will take care of the matter, but can the Secretary of State possibly exercise that degree of scrutiny?

Baroness YOUNG

It would not be done by identifying the particular parent. It would be undertaken through the instruments of government which would lay down the period of time.


Although I accept the Minister's point that the Secretary of State may carry out this function, we should be careful to put something into the Bill now. I do not see why we cannot delete this phrase. We have had experience of other people being summarily left off boards of governors. My wife was a councillor and a member of a board of governors. The moment she lost her seat, the Conservative majority dropped her off the board of governors, and she was summarily dismissed. We are trying to ensure that the person concerned is a parent of a child at the school. It seems sensible for the Government to accept our argument, because the Minister already admits that the Secretary of State will adjust the matter in an instrument.

Baroness YOUNG

I should make clear that in the case of voluntary schools, the Secretary of State makes the instrument. He can lay down the period of time. We are arguing a narrow point on which in principle we are agreed. Perhaps the noble Baroness will allow me to write to her setting out how this matter will work.


Surely the Government must lay down the principles on which these boards of governors operate. Will it not be the case that administrative officers will make the Secretary of State aware of the fact that, in accordance with the articles of government, the person concerned has exceeded the time in which he or she may be eligible to be a member of the governing body? The Secretary of State will not have the opportunity of scrutinising these matters throughout the country, but surely the appropriate administrative officers will draw the Minister's attention to that fact.

Baroness YOUNG

The way in which it will work is that the Secretary of State will make instruments of government for voluntary schools. We are committed to the principle of two parents on these boards. The Secretary of State will then write in how this will apply, and he will recognise the point made by Lady David covering what happens when a foundation governor's child leaves the school and whether the foundation governor will be expected to resign at that point—in other words whether there will be a gap. There could be a small gap. If the governors are not keeping to the instrument, they are not operating within the legal framework of the voluntary aided schools, so they could not operate in this way. There could rightly be objections.

I think that we are agreed in principle. It is a narrow, technical point and, if it will be helpful to the noble Baroness, I will write to her before Report stage saying precisely how it will work out.

Baroness DAVID

With the Minister's offer, I will agree to withdraw the amendment now, and if I am not satisfied with her letter I shall have a chance to come back on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Baroness YOUNG

I wonder whether this is a convenient moment, as we have just completed this amendment, to adjourn the Committee stage of the Education Bill for one hour.


Perhaps the Committee will take notice of the fact that I said "Not moved "before the noble Baroness spoke, so that I do not have to come back quite so soon after dinner.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to: House resumed.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn for five minutes during pleasure. We will reconvene again to take the National Heritage Bill.

Moved accordingly and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[House adjourned during pleasure from 7.1 p.m. to 7.6 p.m.]

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