HL Deb 06 July 1981 vol 422 cc481-520

4.22 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 1.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 5: After Clause 1, insert the following new clause:

("Duty of local authority

. In respect of a child who would be deemed to have a learning difficulty under section 1(2)(b) above if within the local authority area concerned there were no ordinary schools with buildings and other premises suitable for the needs of the child or if aids, equipment and other help he needed were not made available to him, it shall be the duty of the local authority concerned—

  1. (a) to ensure that the buildings and other premises of at least one ordinary school in their area are made suitable for the needs of the said child; and
  2. (b) to provide the aids, equipment and other help the said child needs to make use of the educational facilities provided in the said school".)

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is self-explanatory. As I talked at length on Amendment No. 4, we have been over the access question many times and several noble Lords have already supported this in a sort of spin-off manner, I will not talk for long. But, as my previous amendment was withdrawn, it is vital that those children who would not have learning difficulties as such and who, as the Minister admitted, only need positive intervention so that they may receive instruction, get this in the form of at least one ordinary school in the local authority area concerned providing access. This may be in the form of level entrance, wheelchair accessibility, loop induction systems, colour contrast, et cetera and whatever equipment they require. If this minimal provision is not made in the Bill, the latter will contain no true commitment to achieving integration, at any rate from the aspect of the blind, deaf and physically handicapped.

Many existing schools are inaccessible and a number which have been built since 1970 are inaccessible. We must ensure that those disabled children who could cope in an ordinary school are given the opportunity to do so. I beg to move.

Lord Alexander of Potterhill

I should like to support this amendment. There is a danger in the present situation. I accept totally the Minister's concern to keep definitions broad and to avoid rigidity or narrowness, but the 1944 Education Act placed a duty on local education authorities to provide for the physically handicapped, the deaf and the blind. That duty under the 1944 Act was in almost all cases fulfilled by the creation of special schools. That was the method adopted. The basic purpose of the Warnock Report is to get away from that concept, to broaden the definition of children with educational need, to make a major contribution to integration so that these children, as far as possible, can be educated in an ordinary school.

I accept the point made on an earlier amendment about costs. At the Second Reading I pointed out that we have to face a rather unusual situation. The present building regulations only require accessibility for disabled in new buildings and not in existing buildings. Therefore, unless we make special provision relating to existing buildings, the possibility of integration just disappears. This is the reality. I do not think that this amendment in any way restricts the definitions and purpose of the Bill. It merely says to a local authority that, whereas under the 1944 Act they had a duty to provide for the physically disabled and they could do that by providing for them in special schools, they now have a duty to see that at least one of their ordinary schools is so equipped that physically disabled children can attend there and pursue their education.

It may well be that guidance will be issued by the Department—I hope so—that at least one school should be equipped for the partially-hearing group or one for other forms of disability which are not sufficiently extreme to justify keeping those concerned out of the ordinary school. Obviously it is an unreasonable expectation that an ordinary school can be equipped for all of these groups—the physically handicapped, the partially-hearing, the partially blind. That is not a reasonable proposition. To include this amendment gives a lead to local education authorities, a lead different from the 1944 Act and one which is a necessary provision, in my judgment, if the Warnock Report purpose is to be fulfilled.

Baroness Bacon

I should like to support this amendment. I do not intend to repeat the speech which I made on a previous amendment, but to the noble Lord on the other side of the Committee who raised the question of expense I should like to say that this is sometimes very exaggerated. In the instance which I quoted, the local authority was willing to pay thousands of pounds to send the particular girl to a very expensive school 300 miles away from home when, I am quite sure, a small lift could be arranged in the school at perhaps only a fraction of the cost that would have been entailed to keep that girl in that special boarding school for seven years of her life. In addition, it would have been useful for other people in the future. I agree with this amendment and I hope it will be accepted.

There is only one further comment I should like to make about it. One of the ideas at the back of this Bill is that handicapped children should be educated wherever possible in an ordinary school among other children. If, as I hope she will, the noble Baroness accepts this amendment, I hope that in any regulations which are drawn up or in any instructions which go out to local authorities it is made clear that the catchment area should not be too big; because I foresee that if the catchment area is very big then an ordinary school could very soon become a special school for the handicapped. With that proviso and that understanding, I should like to support the amendment.

Lord Banks

I should like to join in supporting this amendment for the reasons which have been so well expressed by previous speakers. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), described this as a minimum commitment, and it seems to be a minimum commitment. The concern which many of us have on this Bill is that the good intentions of which it is full will lead to very little, or not enough, in practice. This is one of the amendments which seeks to prevent that from happening. I am happy to support it.

Baroness Lane-Fox

It is with very great regret that I feel bound to support the amendment. I say"with very great regret"because I well realise the difficulty of the circumstances. I do so feeling slightly encouraged that my noble friend the Minister and the Government have chosen such good timing for this Bill at a time when we are told the school population is falling dramatically. It surely would do less than justice to their skill if there were not suitable ordinary schools where physically handicapped pupils with learning difficulties could be accommodated. To have just one such school in an area seems essential if we are to believe that this Bill is going to work. While recognising all the complications, I am hoping that my noble friend the Minister may find it possible either to accept the amendment or to seek the best possible good practice from education authorities to achieve this end.

Lord Somers

Unlike the noble Baroness, Lady Lane-Fox, I have no regrets in supporting this amendment. It is an absolute minimum. It is a very necessary provision and it is not asking a great deal of local authorities which, after all, are perfectly capable of dealing with it. I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the amendment.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

While supporting the amendment, I consider that the points raised by my noble friend Lady Bacon are important to remember, bearing in mind that the wording is"at least one ordinary school". Those local authorities that do not want to do very much will quite easily say,"We have a ramp in that school and we have a classroom in that one that will take those that cannot see very well". We shall find that the units will be segregated once again by the disabilities, and that is not what integration really means.

I do not want to concentrate on that part which other noble Lords have mentioned. With regard to the physically handicapped, paragraph (b) is more important because the majority of children that have to be integrated are those classified as ESN(M). They comprise the category of children which are now classified as children in need of special education. They will need the aids and equipment and help in the ordinary schools in the same way as special laboratories are there for science and teaching languages. These children will also need facilities in the ordinary schools. These will be equally necessary for their learning as well as physical access arrangements.

Viscount Ingleby

I should also like to support this amendment. I believe that integration, where possible, is the best answer. I think that I was one of the first fully disabled students to go up to Oxford University after the war. I count myself very fortunate indeed to have been able to do that. I would have suffered if I had had to go to some special institution elsewhere.

Baroness David

I should like to support this amendment very strongly; it seems the very minimum that we can do in this Bill to make it a little better. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Digby, that if he is really going to jib at making one ordinary school in an area fit for some handicapped children, that is a very mean attitude indeed of the local authorities.

I should like to remind the Committee of a few words from the report of the working party of the noble Earl, Lord Snowdon, Integrating the Disabled. It says: We believe that the time has come to evince in action rather than words the commitment to integrating the 'hard core' of more severely handicapped children". Later it says: The aim should be to ensure that there are throughout the country ordinary schools at all levels, properly staffed, serviced and equipped to meet the needs of handicapped children. This could be of enormous benefit not only to many of those children at present in special schools but also to those who are now in ordinary schools without adequate help". The report continues: However, local authorities only have autonomy within limits laid down by national policy and we believe that on the question of integration the Government must give a clear and decisive lead, since the alternative is inevitably a development which is likely to be patchy, unsystematic, unco-ordinated and 'un-integrated'.". I think we have in various areas authorities which are doing very well. I mentioned Haringey with its deaf children in ordinary schools when I spoke on Second Reading. In my own city of Cambridge we have two schools which have deaf children who have integrated very successfully. I hope that the Government will accept this amendment.

4.36 p.m.

Baroness Young

I have listened with very great care to the many speakers in support of this amendment. Of course I looked at it very carefully when considering what the Government's response to it should be. I do not want to go over what I said on Amendment No. 22, which in a sense is linked to it, when I explained why Clause 1 has been drawn in the way that it has. I must tell the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), and other noble Lords who have spoken in support of this amendment, that although the Government accept the principle—and indeed the Bill makes the principle clear—that children with special educational needs should, wherever possible, be educated in ordinary schools, the actual effect of this particular amendment is to have identified a group of children with special educational needs and to have said the local authority must have a duty to establish a school to meet those particular needs.

The effect of the amendment would therefore be to require a local authority to make available one ordinary school in the LEA area capable of catering for blind, deaf and physically handicapped pupils. It does not have to be capable of catering for other pupils with special educational needs, although they too might require special equipment, and it does not cover the full range. Yet, as the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, quite rightly said, there are a lot of children who are now in the category of an ESN(M) child about whom education authorities could quite legitimately have very great doubts as to whether those children are better educated in an ordinary school or in a special school. I have visited a number of schools in which the head teacher has said,"Some of these pupils will be going on next year to the ordinary school, and we shall receive some pupils from the ordinary school in our school". This is the kind of flexibility that we want.

Furthermore, I thought the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon,made a very real point about one of the difficulties of this amendment because, of course, to consider a large geographical local authority area—and some counties are quite large—if it had one such school it would, in any event for some, be quite difficult to reach because of the actual distances that would have to be travelled. It would once again establish itself as a kind of special school. It is precisely to get away from this that the Bill is drafted and we are looking to a new type of educational system.

So when I say that in a sense I think it is putting the clock back, it is grouping three categories of handicap and saying that local education authorities ought to make a special school suitable for these particular handicaps. We believe that we cannot legislate in this way for a particular range of factors which would have to be taken into account before a child with serious learning difficulties can be admitted to an ordinary school. I certainly accept the point that is made that we shall make progress towards integrating handicapped children by the provision of specialised units attached to ordinary schools. Indeed, I am certain that every noble Lord taking part in this debate—and I think we have all visited many schools; I have visited some in the noble Baroness's Cambridgeshire where there are very good examples of integrating deaf children into schools—knows of examples where there are ordinary schools with a unit attached where children with special educational needs go from the unit into the school and back to the unit again. It is a very good way of getting integration, and one which is much to be encouraged. Many authorities are doing that, but I do not think they are simply limiting it to a certain range of handicaps. This is more often done with deaf units and in some cases it is done with blind children, but there are children with other handicaps as well. I hope that as a result of this Bill we shall see a continuing integration of handicapped children into ordinary schools. The pace of change will be gradual and it will inevitably be in line with available resources. Of course, very much will depend on the willingness of the local authority and the teachers concerned to have this kind of mix of children: but I do not believe if I may say this quite sincerely to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), who is so expert in this matter, that her amendment will achieve what she really wishes.

May I conclude my remarks with a true story. About two weeks ago I visited a local authority and a headmaster said to me:"I am taking into my comprehensive school next September a spina bifida child."I thought that was a very good thing to be doing, and he was talking a bit about the sort of difficulties that will arise not because the child is not intelligent enough to do the work, but because of the difficulties which any child with spina bifida clearly has. This is the sort of thing we should like to see, but it would be a pity if, because somebody can do this with willingness and co-operation in one area, one would have identified a school in the area to which anybody with these sorts of handicaps was going. It is far better that they should be going to schools which are regarded as appropriate where the staff want to see them, where there is a great willingness to co-operate and where everybody is working together to make it a success and not, as I say, putting the clock back to define a certain group of categories of handicap and saying:"These children must be in one specific school."

I hope that, with that explanation, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment. As I have said, I am trying to think positively about the points concerned, and certainly the Bill is trying to help with the integration of handicapped children wherever possible into ordinary schools.

Baroness Bacon

Before the noble Baroness sits down, perhaps I may just take up one point. I did not make the point about an ordinary school becoming perhaps a special school in order to oppose this amendment, but rather to say that wherever possible any ordinary school should be so fitted and built as to take handicapped children if they can benefit from the education there, and to ensure that the area is not so big that the school would become a special school; and indeed it does not say only one school in one area. If we read this amendment properly it says: …at least one ordinary school in their area … made suitable". But this is only to apply if the other schools in the area cannot, because of structural or financial reasons, so change the building and equipment as to make it possible for the children to go to the ordinary school. It does not mean that we want to designate one school to which all physically handicapped children should go.

Lord Alexander of Potterhill

Before the noble Baroness considers the question of withdrawal, I should like to ask the Minister whether I have understood correctly what she has been saying because, if I did, she seems to have completely misunderstood the amendment. The noble Baroness seems to suggest that an ordinary school is to be equipped to meet the whole group of handicapped children. This amendment does not suggest that. It says that, where a child is deemed tohave special educational needs, because the ordinary school is not equipped to meet his needs at least one school in the area of the authority should be so equipped. So you might have one school which was made suitable for physically handicapped children, and there might be another which had some special equipment for this or for that purpose. In other words, what the Minister was seeking—units attached to ordinary schools that provided special facilities—would emerge from that. There is no question of one school trying to meet all the needs. The amendment does not suggest that for a moment.

Baroness Young

I must apologise to the noble Baroness if I misunderstood her remarks. I did not intend to do that; I was trying to explain some of the difficulties about this. Regarding the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, I think we are going back to the confusion that we had on Amendment No. 2, concerning the definition of special educational need in Clause 1(2)(b), when the noble Lord was arguing that you had a special educational need if there was not physical access to the building, and I tried to explain that in fact that is not what this subsection means. This amendment is designed to put right what the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, thinks is wrong with that first definition and to alter that one to put in this.

As I tried to explain on the earlier debate which we had on Amendment No. 2, I think she has misunderstood the definition, and I hope very much that we shall have an opportunity, either by correspondence or discussion, to cover the ground again. I am happy to do so this afternoon but, having just given a lengthy explanation as to what that definition is, I feel the Committee may not wish to hear it all over again on another amendment. I think the difficulty arises that because there has been a misunderstanding of the definition we then have a further amendment to put right what the noble Baroness thinks is wrong but what the Government are convinced was the right definition the first time round. It is for that reason that I could not accept this amendment.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I should like to thank the Minister for her reply, but I am not really convinced by it. She is right in saying that in a sense this amendment was trying to put right what was wrong with the other one, but, as I said earlier, it can very well stand on its own.

I think the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, summed up the argument much better than I could. I can see what the noble Baroness is getting at when she says that it is only trying to amend the situation for the children under Clause 1(2)(b), and as the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, pointed out, a large number of the children we are talking about are the ESN(M) and perhaps at another stage we ought to try to do something about them. But from the point of view of the physically handicapped, such as a spina bifida child, the amendment very clearly refers to access and to age, equipment and other help. It does not specify what may be the particular need of a particular child in that category.

I take the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, and I realise she was not trying to speak against me in any way. Indeed it is at least one school in the local authority area, and I should like to draw attention to the amendment which is coming soon—Amendment No. 7 put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Banks—which might go even a little further to put things right.

The noble Baroness said she hoped we would not put the clock back, but I feel we must go a little way towards starting the clock. We really must make a start because in 1976 Section 10 of the Education Act reversed the policy of the 1944 Act, stating that where possible the physically handicapped should be educated in ordinary schools. As Mrs. Williams said at the time in 1976, that was only reflecting what had been Government policy for many years. That section was never put into force and so we have already waited five years for this start. I regret that I must press the amendment.

4.50 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 85.

Airedale, L. Ilchester, E.
Alexander of Potterhill, L. [Teller.] Ingleby, V.
Janner, L.
Amherst, E. Jeger, B.
Ampthill, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Bacon, B. Kinloss, Ly.
Banks, L. Leatherland, L.
Barrington, V. Listowel, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Bernstein, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
Beswick, L. Loudoun, C.
Birk, B. Lovell-Davis, L.
Bishopston, L. [Teller.] Melchett, L.
Blyton, L. Milverton, L.
Boothby, L. Mishcon, L.
Briginshaw, L. Noel-Baker, L.
Brockway, L. Northfield, L.
Caradon, L. Oram, L.
Chitnis, L. Plant, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Collison, L. Porritt, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Robbins, L.
David, B. Sainsbury, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Scanlon, L.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Seear, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Seebohm, L.
Foot, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Fulton, L. Shepherd, L.
Gaitskell, B. Shinwell, L.
Gosford, E. Somers, L.
Gregson, L. Spens, L.
Grey, E. Stamp, L.
Hale, L. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Halsbury, E. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Hanworth, V. Stone, L.
Hooson, L. Strabolgi, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Strauss, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Taylor of Mansfield, L. White, B.
Underhill, L. Wigoder, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L. Willis, L.
Wells-Pestell, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Ailesbury, M. Killearn, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Kinnaird, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Lauderdale, E.
Alport, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Atholl, D. Long, V.
Auckland, L. Lyell, L.
Avon, E. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Barnby, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Bellwin, L. Mancroft, L.
Belstead, L. Marley, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Marshall of Leeds, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Melville, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Cathcart, E. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Clwyd, L. Newall, L.
Cockfield, L. Norfolk, D.
Colwyn, L. Northchurch, B.
Cottesloe, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L, Onslow, E.
Daventry, V. Pender, L.
Davidson, V. Portland, D.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Radnor, E.
Digby, L. Rankeillour, L.
Dilhorne, V. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Renton, L.
Eccles, V. Renwick, L.
Ellenborough, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Saint Oswald, L.
Exeter, M. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Faithfull, B. Selborne, E.
Ferrers, E. Sharples, B.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gainford, L. Soames, L.
Geoffrey-Lloyd, L. Sudeley, L.
Glasgow, E. Trefgarne, L.
Gridley, L. Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Vaizey, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Vickers, B.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Vivian, L.
Henley, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Westbury, L.
Hornsby-Smith, B. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Clause 2 [Provision of special education: duties of local education authorities etc.]:

4.58 p.m.

Baroness Jeger moved Amendment No. 6: Page 2, line 19, after ("needs") insert ("and to secure that the teachers of these children have sufficient and appropriate experience and/or qualifications to meet these special needs.").

The noble Baroness said: The reason for this amendment is that in Clause 2 a duty is put upon local education authorities, for securing that special educational provision is made for pupils who have special educational needs". There is nothing to say how that should be done. It may be thought that laying this duty upon them will, of itself, be enough to ensure that they will train enough teachers and make the necessary staff arrangements. But while we recognise that very interesting and important developments are going on, it is important to appreciate that the situation over the whole country is very patchy indeed. Some authorities are much more generous than others in letting people take in-service training and in making special arrangements.

Of course, the Warnock Report sets out a considerable number of very interesting courses which are available. But what worries us is that, with the cuts in local authority expenditure and the drastic cuts that the UGC will have to face—which are bound to reduce the number of graduates coming into these professions, as well as into other professions—it will be all too easy, unless there is some statutory sanction, for local authorities to say, as one noble Lord has already said today,"It is a good idea, but we cannot afford it".

We already have some statutory qualifications for the teachers of blind and handicapped children, and the Warnock Report makes it very clear, on page 236, that there should be similar statutory qualifications for teachers taking up posts involving, a defined responsibility for children with special educational needs". Some noble Lords who have not had time to read the report might be surprised to hear that the chairman boldly suggests that teachers should be required to get an additional recognised qualification within a period of three years. So I do not think that our amendment can be regarded as particularly rash.

I know that this may not be the place where we should discuss courses and syllabuses, but the Warnock Report makes various suggestions for the kind of training which is needed and which is absolutely vital for implementing the report. It seems to me that there are three problems. It may be that we do not have the wording of this amendment quite right, but I hope that I can make the intention clear.

It is obviously going to be very important for teachers on the normal training course to have a very sensitive and intelligent input into their courses so that they may be prepared to receive into their schools the kind of children we have been talking about today. Unless we do something about the teachers, it will not help the children very much, whichever school they go to. I raised this point at Second Reading and it is a slightly difficult one professionally, but the Secretary of State does have some power to require qualifications. I. should be encouraged if I felt that this matter was being considered and that something practical was at least on the drawing board.

The normal teacher training course seems to me to need to create among teachers an expectation of the changes that this Bill will make in their classrooms and help them to be more sensitive and aware of early difficulties. I am not saying that teachers should set themselves up to diagnose what is wrong with children. However, I have known teachers whose sensitivity to the problems of a certain child has led to it being found to be autistic or dyslexic. The teacher plays a vital part in picking up problems early; then the whole service can help that child.

If a child is to be provided with special education—again I take the case of the autistic child—I have known some autistic children to be very much helped by music. Very many music teachers are peripatetic. I was very worried to read in the last report published by HMI that one of their concerns is that as a result of the cuts it will be the part-time teachers and the peripatetic teachers who will be cut first.

After a teacher has had three years of training—with, I hope, this input into the syllabus—it is very important that existing teachers should get their in-service training on as generous a basis as possible. I would wish this to become more usual than any other special course. The teacher who has completed a three-year training course and then spent a few years in school feeling the battering of the classroom and the strains and the problems, and who has seen different kinds of children, would benefit more by going on a course. As a result of their experience, they could take on board more of what they are being taught and could bring their difficulties to those who are doing the teaching and the training.

One course at the University of London gives a diploma in teaching the educationally handicapped. Another place where that diploma course can be taken is Goldsmiths' College. An evening course is provided there. I do not believe that many noble Lords would want to teach a big class all day, a class probably including some disabled children, and then take a train to go to an evening class to do a diploma course which will make them even better teachers. Those who do these evening courses must be very dedicated and loyal. However, life ought to be made easier for them. Release should be provided, either on a day a week basis or on a term in a year basis.

I have no authority or qualification to lay down what should be done, but I have read very carefully the Warnock Report. We have got to make some definite provision so that education authorities know that it is in the statute and that there is to be no excuse for lack of any provision. At present they cannot excuse themselves for not employing teachers with special qualifications for teaching deaf and blind children. What is more—this, I know, is worrying some teachers—those qualifications lead to extra payment on the Burnham scale. We have to ask whether or not we should extend these special payments to teachers who are qualified to teach other kinds of handicapped children or who possess the sort of general qualification for teaching children with special educational needs that Mrs. Warnock recommended.

The whole future of this report depends entirely on what we do about the teachers. I shall end my remarks by quoting from page 251 of the Warnock Report: The procedures which we have recommended for recognising and meeting the needs of children who require special educational help will be of no avail unless all teachers have an insight into the special needs which many children have and unless teachers with defined responsibilities for such children have the specialist expertise required. Our proposals for the future depend on this and should be acted on as quickly as possible". I do not think anybody can put it better than that. Therefore, I very much hope that the Minister will be able to agree to the amendment, which I beg to move.

Lord Somers

I sympathise entirely with what the noble Baroness has said. It is, of course, essential that where there are cases which require special education there should be teachers who are properly qualified, but I am beginning to wonder whether or not this point is already covered by the Bill as it stands. The Bill refers to the need to secure that special educational provision is made for pupils who have special educational needs. Surely the phrase"special educational provision"includes the provision of teachers. I cannot imagine providing education without providing the proper teacher. I should have thought the Bill already covers that point, but perhaps the noble Baroness will be able to enlighten me.

Lord Renton

I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, has done us a service by moving this amendment. As she so rightly said, the provision of the necessary number of teachers with the necessary specialised qualifications is at the heart of the implementation of this Bill. But I, too, doubt whether the amendment is necessary. Also, I doubt whether it is technically adequate, if I may say so, and I shall explain what I mean in a moment. The amendment places a duty—and rightly so—upon the local education authorities, but I do not think that the local education authorities can provide all the kinds of specialised training that would be required.

Perhaps I may just mention something from my own experience. Some years ago, we found at MENCAP that there were no specific facilities in teacher training colleges for training teachers of the mentally handicapped. So, with the aid of Sir Frank Price, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, and generous help from others, and with funds that we raised ourselves, we started at Selly Oak, part of Birmingham, the first ever college for training teachers of the mentally handicapped. It was opened by Her Majesty the Queen Mother some years ago. Other arrangements have been made elsewhere since then, but still, I fear, not enough. What we had in mind was that we should take in to this college only teachers who had already been qualified in their initial training in the ordinary way who would then do an extra year getting the special qualification as trained teachers of the mentally handicapped.

In moving the Second Reading of the Bill, my noble friend Lady Young said at column 978 that there were three kinds of teacher training: initial training, specialised training for specific handicaps and in-service training. When I expressed doubt in that debate, at column 1006, as to whether enough teachers were being trained, or would be available, for teaching the mentally handicapped, I said that it would be helpful if at some time we could have statistics. In replying to the debate, my noble friend said that in due course she would hope to provide some statistics. I have given my noble friend no warning of this, and I hope she will forgive me: I hope I am not taking an unfair advantage. It may be that she is still not ready with the statistics that I am about to ask for, but if she happened to have them, and could provide them now, of course if would help very much in the debate on this amendment.

So far as the mentally handicapped are concerned—and I cannot claim to be speaking for any other kinds of handicap or disablement at this moment; I must confess that I am speaking only about the mentally handicapped—I should like to ask four questions: The first is, how many such teachers will be needed in order fully to implement the Bill? Secondly, how many are now available? Thirdly, how many more are being trained? Fourthly, how many places are there already for specialised training?

I think those are the four crucial questions so far as the mentally handicapped are concerned and I hope that my noble friend may feel that this interesting amendment is a good peg on which to hang some further information which she might give to the Committee. Having said that, as I said in starting, I seriously doubt the need for the amendment.

Baroness David

I want to speak in favour of the amendment, which I think was extremely ably moved by my noble friend Lady Jeger. I do not think there is nearly enough in the Bill about teachers, which was one of the main Warnock priorities, and, if I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Somers, I think he is very optimistic if he thinks that subsection (1) means that there will be enough properly qualified teachers for the various numbers and variety of children who will be in the schools needing this extra help.

With regard to the local authorities, the noble Lord Lord Renton, picked on the deficiencies of the drafting but even if we say that this applies only to local authorities, they are extremely well equipped, if they wish to do so, to take on in-service training, and, when a later amendment is moved by me with regard to special schools and special resource centres, that of course will bring in an opportunity for in-service training, too. I remember one of the early meetings of the special committee in another place when they were taking expert evidence. I cannot remember who it was, but one person giving evidence said that very often it was better if the teachers had some in-service training after their initial qualification. They probably learned a good deal more having first had some ordinary teaching experience.

When we look at this clause, we see that the only mention of teachers in it is in subsection (5)(c), where it says: to secure that the teachers in the school are aware of the importance of identifying, and providing for, those registered pupils who have special educational needs". I do not think, really, that awareness is enough, unless they have the necessary skills that go with it. In relation to that, at Second Reading, the Minister said: What I believe is required is a greater student awareness of the kinds of special educational needs likely to be encountered in the classroom. I am pleased to say that there has already been a response among colleges of education and universities to meet this need". But I do not really think that awareness of needs is really adequate. In fact, the teachers may even feel frustrated, feeling that they are aware of the needs, but they do not know how to cope with them. So I would press strongly for this amendment to be accepted, or at any rate to be accepted in principle. If the wording is defective that can be put right at the next stage.

Baroness Faithfull

I should like to support what the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said, because it seems to me that already there is provision for this, as indeed in a later amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady David. I am a member of the council of Dr. Barnado's, and we have, as resource centres, schools—residential and day schools—for handicapped children at which teachers are already attending and receiving tuition.

5.19 p.m.

Baroness Young

The improvement of the facilities for training teachers[...]s of course one of the priority areas identified by the Warnock Committee, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger has quite rightly said. I should like to assure her that the Government recognise the need to improve the spread of knowledge about special needs and special education among all teachers and to provide for more opportunities for teachers who wish to acquire extra qualifications or training to do so. We do not agree—and this is the difference between us—that this kind of requirement should be imposed by primary legislation.

It is not even a requirement of the Act that teachers should hold any qualification at all. This has always been accepted as one of the matters to be regulated by statutory instrument, under which the Secretary of State could make such requirements as were appropriate from time to time. This principle was endorsed as recently as last year, when Parliament passed Section 27 of the 1980 Education Act, giving the Secretary of State power to make regulations requiring teachers to possess such qualifications as might be determined. It is under those regulations that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will prescribe not only the basic qualifications needed for teachers, but also any additional qualifications for special purposes, such as those at present required by teachers of blind, deaf and partially-hearing children. This is the way in which we think it is right to continue to prescribe teachers' qualifications, since it allows the Secretary of State to take account not only of what may be ideally desirable, but also of what is possible, given the availability of courses, and of the precise needs of different situations. It also means that, since specific qualifications are prescribed, the local authorities, the governors and the teachers are in no doubt whether or not a particular teacher is qualified for a particular post.

May I therefore turn, with that background information, to the effects of this amendment. The amendment bites on that part of Clause 2 which itself amends Section 8 of the 1944 Act—the point the noble Lord, Lord Somers, made. That section is the one which sets out the responsibility of the local education authorities to ensure that there are sufficient schools available for the children in their area. Section 8(2)(c) requires them in carrying out this duty to have regard to the need for securing that provision is made for pupils who suffer from any disability of mind or body by providing special educational treatment. What this Bill does is to bring that duty up to date by substituting the new terminology.

The noble Baroness asked me a quite specific point about the provisions under the Burnham Committee for teachers' pay. I would like to confirm that all teachers in special schools are on special scales, which means that they are paid more than other teachers. Teachers of the blind and deaf have to undergo extra training to acquire a special qualification which entitles them to one increment above other teachers in special schools. Other teachers in special schools who undergo recognised extra training voluntarily also receive one extra increment. I regret to tell my noble friend Lord Renton that I have not got the statistics but I will write to him about them. I know he asked about the matter at Second Reading and I will get them to him before we proceed to the nextstage of the Bill.

I think the difference between what has always been accepted as present practice, which I have outlined and which the Bill brings up to date, and this amendment is that if the Committee were to accept this amendment local education authorities would be under a duty when considering the provision of schools for their area to take into account the supply of suitably qualified or experienced teachers. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, will know, when they are considering their provision, a local authority does not decide, if there is a shortage of mathematics teachers, that it will not have a secondary school. Naturally it is the job of the authority to provide the teachers, but it is not done that way round. We would be providing a completely new system under the Education Acts. We would be moving to amend the Education Acts in a way which is certainly not intended under this Bill. I think that without extensive consultation with all our partners in the education service it would not be possible to accept an amendment of this kind.

I hope, however, that the noble Baroness will recognise that we are mindful of the importance of training, and quite particularly the point she raised about in-service training, which will, of course, be very necessary particularly for schools that are going to accept handicapped children.

When identifying within their own schools children with special educational needs, teachers will need some training in identifying and then meeting their educational needs. As the Government are aware of the importance of in-service training, our expenditure plans for 1983–84 make provision for the release of teachers for in-service training at a similar level to that in the recent past. Local authorities are fully aware of this, though it is, of course, for local educational authorities to determine their priorities for expenditure within the resources made available to them.

If I may summarise the arguments about this, I hope I have set out what the present position is under the Education Acts with regard to the requirements for teachers, to indicate that we have amended the 1944 Act to bring the terminology up to date. In this way we believe the provisions of the Bill are those which have been accepted as the proper way to make arrangements for the employment of teachers. It is for that reason that I cannot accept the amendment which the noble Baroness has moved.

Baroness Jeger

I thank the noble Baroness for her clear exposition of the difficulties, of which I am well aware. In fact, I was encouraged by Section 27, which gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations, to hope that we might have heard that she proposes to make regulations regarding the training of teachers who will work within the scope of this Bill.

On the question of the Burnham payments, of course I know that teachers in special schools get slight increases of money, but I thought the intention of this Bill was not only to get as many of the children as possible out of the special schools but that some of the teachers will have to come over too; we shall need their expert[...]and their experience. Are we saying that a teacher, who has been working in a special school and getting the extra allowance, and who then goes over to teaching perhaps even more difficult children in an ordinary school, is to have a cut in salary? I am sorry if I did not make that clear. That is one of my anxieties, and I know it is shared widely.

I wish I shared the faith of the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, in thinking that telling the local educational authorities to make special education provision is automatically going to mean a generous release of their teachers for in-service training. I am afraid many of them may wish to do so—and I was glad to hear the noble Baroness say she was doing her best about their financial difficulties—but at the end of the day they are under a lot of pressure to economise. I very much hope this will not be one of the fields where they cut back. The noble Baroness spoke of keeping the level up to what it was in the recent past. If that is all we are going to do we are not taking the system further forward at all—we are standing still—so we could put this Bill on one side. I will read carefully what the noble Baroness has said, and of course there are a lot of discussions to be held about this. I would hope that in the near future she might be able to tell the House of some plans, some intentions, some consultations which will make us feel that something is really happening in this field. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (The Earl of Listowel)

Before I call Amendment No. 7, I should point out that if this amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10.

5.28 p.m.

Lord Banks moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 2, line 20, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert— ("(2) Where a local education authority arrange special educational provision for a child, it shall be the duty of the authority to secure that he is educated in an ordinary school except where the nature or severity of the child's special needs is such that education in an ordinary school, even if supplementary aids and services are provided, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.").

The noble Lord said: Clause 2 is concerned with integration, and integration of course is the central structural question dealt with in the Bill. The general intention of the clause, to impose a duty on education authorities to integrate the education of handicapped children with that of other children, is widely welcomed in this House. The object of this amendment is to seek to provoke some discussion as to whether Clause 2(2) is drawn too narrowly. Is it worded too cautiously? Do the conditions stated in the subsection as the Bill now stands impose discriminatory limitations on the right of children with special educational needs to attend ordinary schools, and also on the rights of parents in this connection?

Conditions (b) and (c) impose conditions on the handicapped child that do not apply to other children. It must, of course, be recognised that education in an ordinary school is not always a practicable proposition, and this is taken care of in the amendment by the phrase: except where the nature or severity of the child's special needs is such that education in an ordinary school, even if supplementary aids and services are provided, cannot be achieved satisfactorily". I attach a good deal of importance to the phrase: even if supplementary aids and services are provided", because for one thing it indicates that they should be provided.

The phrase,"the efficient use of resources"would disappear if the amendment were agreed to, and it seems that that could well be an excuse for avoiding integration. The object of the amendment is to limit the conditions to the minimum essential and to make the right to integration more absolute. I beg to move.

Lord Renton

I find myself supporting the noble Lord, Lord Banks, in what he has said. So far as I can tell at this moment, and subject to what my noble friend may say from the Front Bench, I should have thought that his amendment probably does achieve the purpose which he has designed for it. As I said on Second Reading, we at MENCAP are very unenthusiastic about integration. We realise that integration has many advantages for many of the physically disabled and for many others, but not so far as the mentally handicapped are concerned. I have discussed this with a great many people: with parents of the mentally handicapped; recently with two headmasters of special schools; with two advisers to local education authorities on special education; and, indeed, with a director of education as well, and I cannot find any one of the people with whom I have discussed it who says that there ought to be integration into ordinary schools of those who are suffering from mental handicap.

As the noble Lord, Lord Banks, pointed out, if that becomes the emphasis in the Bill there are some local authorities, a minority perhaps, who will regard it as an excuse for ducking their responsibilities as fas as special schools are concerned. But of course there is also the point that besides adding to the intellectual difficulties of the mentally handicapped on finding themselves in an ordinary school, it could add to their sense of inferiority, which is there anyway, and therefore sometimes create emotional and psychological difficulties for them. Therefore I feel very strongly indeed about this matter.

The noble Lord, Lord Banks, said, and I think, that subsection (2) as it stands, even when read with subsection (3), gives too good an opportunity to local authorities to lean upon integration instead of going for special education. I hope that my noble friend will understand that there are very strong feelings indeed about this, and even if she cannot accept the amendment, I hope that between now and Report stage she will undertake to see whether the two subsections of this clause can be modified in a way which meets the case which has been so clearly made by the noble Lord, Lord Banks.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I, too, would like to support the amendment. I do not in the least mind if Amendments Nos. 8, 9 and 10 cannot be called because, if this amendment is carried, the points will be carried admirably. This amendment reflects provisions already made in the United States 1975 legislation concerning the education of all handicapped children. That was six years ago, and it is high time that we had it here too. It also appears to have other advantages. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher of Rednal, would agree that it covered her ESN children. The point which the noble Baroness, Lady Bacon, made about the danger of one ordinary school in the area becoming virtually the special school would also be covered. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, seems to think that it would cover the points about the mentally handicapped as well. Therefore, I give it my wholehearted support.

Lord Digby

We have heard from both the noble Lords who have spoken that local authorities would use this as an excuse. It seems to me that the present two subsections are very clear. The one which it is proposed to put in their place is much more vague. It says: except where the nature or severity of the child's special needs". It is not as clear as subsection (3)(a), (b) and (c).

I think that there is quite a misconception as to how local authorities view their responsibilities. Everyone in your Lordships' House always tries to say that locally elected representatives should be free to follow their own ways and not be dictated to the whole time by central Government. The present wording includes"the efficient use of resources". That essentially is something which local authorities must take into account. It is all very well to say that we are so mean that we will try to use it as an excuse for not doing something. The fact of life is that if one thing is put into the programme something else almost certainly suffers. It is the job of the local authority to weigh up the alternative uses of their resources and to consider the best way to use them. They are the locally elected people. I feel that subsections (2) and (3) (a), (b) and (c) give quite clear instructions to local authorities and I hope that the Government will resist this amendment.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

I should like to follow up what the previous noble Lord said about "the efficient use of resources". I find it quite disturbing because the Bill does not contain any resources at all. So the Government are saying to local authorities "Let us have some efficient use of resources". Is not that what local government are doing all the time? That is what they are doing all the time without the Government telling them to do it. They try to use as efficiently as possible the money that they are allocated. It may be that some local authorities will decide that the most efficient use of their resources would be in connection with grammar schools and assisted school places. However, it may be that another local authority would take the view that, because they have a large urban population with a lot of children who are suffering deprivation, the efficient use of their resources would be in connection with greater provision for special education.

I should have thought that the deletion of "the efficient use of resources"was a good thing. The right word does not come quickly to my mind, but to be quite candid I think that it is a cheek for the Government to include it in this way when they are not offering us anything. In fact, in the other place it was said time and time again that there is nothing new in the Bill: it is building upon the good practice of local authorities. What it is saying to those authorities who are not very good is, "Take a leaf out of this authority's book or that authority's book". I would suggest that some local authorities could quite easily take a leaf out of the City of Birmingham's book. I support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Banks, because it is much more positive than the clause that we have in the Bill.

Baroness David

I, too, should like to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Banks, because it seems to me that it gets rid of the three discriminatory limitations contained in subsection (3), which I find not at all satisfactory. The amendment makes the whole Bill very much more positive, which I think is a good thing.

I was rather surprised at the reception given to the amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, because he seemed to think that it greatly strengthens the special school side of things. Obviously, we must have special schools; we all agree about that. But I thought that the main point of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Banks, was to make the whole thing very much more positive, that as far as possible children should be educated in ordinary schools. The amendment strengthens the Bill where, in my view, it is weak now.

5.42 p.m.

Baroness Young

I think that it would be helpful to the Committee if, once again, I attempted to explain what it is that the Government are trying to do in Clause 2. The importance of Clause 2(2) is that this is a statement—a central statement—of intent about integration. It makes it clear that provided certain conditions are met, children with statements must be educated in ordinary schools. This, as I have understood it, is a point that I thought would have been welcomed by all noble Lords from all parts of the Committee, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, and others who have taken an interest in this matter. After all, it goes some way towards Section 10 of the 1976 Act, which is repealed by this Bill, but it gives this central statement of intent which Mrs. Warnock and her committee recommended on special education. It refers, of course, only to children with statements, because other children with special educational needs will be educated in ordinary schools as a matter of course. By and large, if the ordinary school can cope with a child's needs, there will be no point in conducting a full-scale assessment and making a statement for that child.

Therefore, we are talking about children with statements. I would be very sad if, in fact, I thought that local authorities would lean on the concept of integration instead of special education as a kind of cheap method of helping children with special educational needs. I am, of course, aware that this is a fear that has been expressed many times during the passage of this Bill, but I think what the noble Lord, Lord Digby, said is true; and although it is some years since I was in local government, I do not have the slightest doubt that when this Bill is on the statute book and it has its accompanying circular, or whatever goes with it, local education authorities will sit down and consider what provision they will make.

I really do not think that I want a lecture from the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, or from anyone else on the subject of resources because, after all, her Government presided for over three years during which time there were cuts in the resources provided for the education service. The noble Baroness and I, the noble Baronesses, Lady Jeger and Lady David, and everyone else who is concerned with this, know that whatever Government are in power, when there is a 30 per cent. drop in the school population, that Government will almost certainly look at the amount of money that is going into the education service. We all know that to be true.

What is equally true is that all the evidence that we have is that local education authorities have not, in fact, cut back on the money that they have been using for special education but, I think that it is because—the noble Lord, Lord Digby, is perhaps too modest to say so—people in local government are actually interested in service, and they are particularly interested in service to children with special educational needs. Whatever other economies have been made, they have not been made in this area. Indeed, quite considerable amounts of money are available. We estimate that approximately £240 million is spent on maintained special schools annually, and between £50 million and £60 million is spent on fees in non-maintained and independent schools. Of course, further money is spent on health service support and on education for children with special needs in ordinary schools; we believe that altogether this may amount to a further £200 million spent on various support services to special education. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to give the figure, which I gave on Second Reading, of £500 million annually as an estimate of the amount of money that local authorities spend on special education.

We are saying to local authorities: "You have this money; this is what you are currently spending. Are you spending it in the wisest possible way? Should you look at the provision that you have and perhaps get better value for it? Can you do more with it? Can you alter the way in which you spend it?"It is a very considerable sum of money, and I do not have the slightest doubt that when the Bill goes on the statute book local authorities will look at this aspect. Many of them are already implementing the spirit of the Bill because the Bill builds on best practice in local authorities now.

The conditions in subsection (3), which qualify subsection (2) and with which everyone has been concerned, are those which must be met before a child with special educational needs, of a degree which require the protection of a statement, can be educated in an ordinary school. First, the local authority must take account of the views of the child's parent. This is important because not all parents will wish their child to attend an ordinary school, and it must be acknowledged that whatever the nature of the child's handicap not all children will thrive in an ordinary school setting—a point which the noble Lord, Lord Renton, made very well.

Subsection (3)(a) states that an ordinary school must be able to make the special educational provision required for the child. This applies not only to the facilities and resources already available in the ordinary school, but also to any specialised educational or health services which it may be possible to arrange in support of an individual child in a particular ordinary school.

Subsection (3)(b) makes the placement in an ordinary school of a child with a statement conditional upon it being compatible with the provision of efficient education of the other children already in that school. This seems to me to be a reasonable condition. Clearly, if we take the case of an emotionally disturbed child who has failed in an ordinary school setting, it would not be right to have that child put back into the school and to continue in that school to disrupt the work of other children.

Finally, there is the condition in subsection (3)(c) where the placement is compatible with the efficient use of resources. This, of course, is a term which is used in other Education Acts and I suggest that it is reasonable. We are talking here of resources of all kinds: equipment, teachers and the deployment of other specialised services. These cannot, in fact, just be dissipated overnight, and I do not think that any Government could afford to duplicate resources in every school in support of individual children. That is not to say that planned integration cannot take place, but it will come about in small units attached to ordinary schools, or with one school perhaps specialising in admitting a particular kind of handicapped pupil.

These then are the conditions which must be satisfied, and the amendment makes no reference to consultation with parents. It contains no mention of the effect on the education of other children in a school or the efficient use of resources. I should like to make one further point on that. We must remember that we are referring to all sorts of children with special educational needs. One fact which has emerged is that special educational needs are now changing. For example, very few children are now classified as"delicate", which is one of the 10 categories of handicap which was not at all uncommon 30 or 40 years ago. Sadly, there are many children who would now be categorised as maladjusted, disruptive or as suffering from some sort of emotional difficulty. We must take into account in this Bill the kind of handicaps that we are looking at and how they would be dealt with in ordinary schools or in special schools, as appropriate.

I have gone into this explanation in some considerable detail. I appreciate the concern of the noble Lord, Lord Banks. I hope he will recognise that I have tried to answer the points that he has raised; to explain why the Bill is drafted as it is, why we have accepted Mrs. Warnock's main statement of intent, that wherever possible children will be educated in an ordinary school; but we have felt it right to qualify it in these three ways to take account not only of the needs of parents, but also the education of other children in the schools and, clearly, the efficient use of resources.

Lord Renton

Before the noble Lord, Lord Banks, replies, if indeed he is going to do so, I should just like to say a few brief words. Having heard what my noble friend the Minister has to say on the matter, I now have a better understanding of subsection (3) and of the implications. Speaking for myself, rather than having this matter brought to a decision as this moment, I should like to consider what my noble friend has said. I believe it would be an advantage if your Lordships did not reach a conclusion this afternoon but were to consider the matter further—especially in view of the criticism that has been made of the drafting of the amendment. Therefore, I make this plea to the noble Lord, Lord Banks.

Lord Banks

I should like to thank all those noble Lords who have supported this amendment. I believe that the object which I mentioned at the beginning, of provoking some discussion as to whether the limitations contained in this particular subsection are in fact desirable or not, has been achieved. We have had some useful discussion. The object I had in mind was to draft and present something that was less restricitive than the Bill. I was not convinced that the three restrictions imposed in the Bill were necessary. I am not fully convinced now that they are all necessary.

I do not agree that the reference to resources is essential at this particular point, when one is stating these principles. The position in respect of parents is dealt with very thoroughly in other parts of the Bill, but nevertheless I should like to consider further what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I am grateful to her for the trouble she has taken and for the detail into which she went in order to reply to the points which were mind. With that said, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Banks moved Amendment No. 8: Page 2, line 27, after ("is") insert ("or could reasonably be made").

The noble Lord said: This amendment represents another attempt to strengthen the commitment to integration. The Bill imposes a duty to integrate, provided that educating a child in an ordinary school is compatible with the child receiving the special educational provision that he requires. But, in view of the general absence at the moment of facilities in ordinary schools for children with special needs, one wonders how often this condition will be met. Would not this provision in the Bill prevent integration from taking place in so far as children for whom a statement is maintained are concerned?

If the duty to integrate is to have any meaning, local education authorities need to be given the duty to integrate not just where education in an ordinary school is already compatible with the child receiving the special educational provision that he requires—since this would be so limited at the moment—but also where it could reasonably be made compatible. If one were to incorporate that into the Bill it would be building in some pressure for change. The phrase "the efficient use of resources" would remain in the Bill and would ensure that local education authorities would not be saddled with unmanageable obligations. I beg to move.

Baroness Young

I listened very carefully to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Banks, but I am not at all sure how one would test" reasonableness" in the context of this amendment. If the provision in an ordinary school meets the requirement set out in this subsection, then the local education authority has a duty to make such arrangements. On the other hand, if provision cannot be made in an ordinary school because it is incompatible with those conditions, then the local education authority would have to consider special educational provisions for the child in another setting.

Each individual case will have to be judged on its merits. If the local education authority can reasonably meet the conditions in subsection (3), then it will obviously do so. If the parents feel that the authority is acting unreasonably in proposing a special school rather than an ordinary school for their child, then they have an opportunity to appeal to a local appeal committee, and subsequently to the Secretary of State under the provisions in Clause 8 of the Bill. I have looked at this amendment very carefully but I do not feel it adds anything that is not already in the Bill. I believe it would be difficult to test the meaning of "reasonable" under those circumstances, and I therefore hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw this amendment.

Lord Banks

I would ask the noble Baroness, Lady Young, if she feels that, were it possible to test "reasonableness"and to satisfy her on that one point, it would be desirable to have some provision of this kind, which would indicate that local authorities are supposed to take some action to put schools into a position whereby they can meet some needs which they may not be able to meet at the time of the first consideration?

Baroness Young

I believe it is always a most dangerous thing to answer a question on a hypothetical situation. If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Banks, I am too old a debater to be caught quite so easily—although because of the way that the noble Lord puts his argument it all sounds very convincing. If the noble Lord looks at this clause and considers his amendment as it would read if written into the Bill, and addresses himself to the situation as it would be in a local education authority, he will see that his amendment is actually unnecessary.

If under subsection (2) a local authority has this duty towards the child and believes that it can make provision in an ordinary school, then the local authority must make that provision. The difficulty is that what may be possible in one set of circumstances may not be possible in another. The noble Lord might say that this might be the definition of "reasonableness", but the definition might possibly hinge on a particular teacher with the qualifications to manage a particular child in a particular school. Therefore, it might be appropriate in that case but the same circumstances might not apply in another school, which might have advantages in some other respect.

When I say to the noble Lord that I do not believe that "reasonableness" would add anything it is because, in the context of an exact situation in a local education authority, I do not believe that the officials or the committee taking the decision would take a different decision if this amendment were incorporated into the Bill than they would if it were not. They will have to consider each case on its merits, taking into account the needs of the child, the views of the parents, the circumstances of the school and the nature of the handicap—all of which must be reviewed each year if the child has a statement. The circumstances could change and the officials or committee might come to a different conclusion at a later stage, because that would be quite proper in their reconsideration of the case. To add "reasonableness"—which would have to be applied to the first case, the second case and the third as the child progresses—would not improve the Bill. It would simply add to the Bill itself without necessarily adding anything to the decision.

Lord Banks

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her further elucidation. I should like to consider her remarks at leisure, and with that in view I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

5.59 p.m.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 2, line 33, leave out paragraph (c) and insert— ("(c) the efficient use of resources in respect only of the choice of ordinary school in which the child is to be educated.").

The noble Baroness said: We have already had a long discussion about the efficient use of resources and so I will not go into that subject at length. In Section 6 of the Education Act 1980 applying to ordinary children, there is a mention of efficient education and the efficient use of resources in slightly different words, and therefore it is probably necessary to have the wording suggested in this Bill. But I should point out that in respect of ordinary children the choice is between one school and another within the ordinary school system. I imagine the criteria to be taken into account are the numbers in school, the distance to be travelled, et cetera.

As drafted, this Bill provides that the criteria are to be applied in respect of whether the handicapped child is allowed into the ordinary school system or whether it is forced inappropriately into the special school system. Therefore, as drafted it really does a very different thing. This amendment seeks to ensure that the same criteria are applied to the non-handicapped children. As I said at Second Reading, the dice are rather loaded against the handicapped child from the start, and what this amendment seeks to do is to redress the balance. I beg to move.

Baroness David

I should like to support this amendment. It has been said to me on a number of occasions when I have been discussing this Bill with people actively involved in special education, that the 1944 Act deliberately discriminated in favour of children with special educational needs. If we are not careful, this Bill is going to do exactly the opposite. This amendment is one chance for us to redress the balance a little, so I hope that we shall have support for it.

6.2 p.m.

Baroness Young

As the noble Baroness has said, this amendment in effect works on the same principle as the amendment that she moved earlier, which we discussed and upon which the Committee voted. The effect of it would be to qualify the condition that the education of a child with a statement in ordinary school should be compatible with the efficient use of resources. In fact, it would require local education authorities to provide a suitably equipped ordinary school for children with physical disabilities, and this amendment would then have had the effect of allowing local authorities to direct the child to that school and not to another ordinary school selected by the parents. I think that is how this would work.

We had a long discussion on the earlier amendment and I tried to indicate the view of the Government upon it. Again there is some misunderstanding of this term "the efficient use of resources". This is a term which is used in the 1980 Education Act: I am sure that the noble Baroness will recall our discussions upon it. Interestingly, one of the firm impressions I came away with after the discussions on that Act, and the many discussions we had particularly on the needs of children with special educational needs, was that as far a possible we should make things, and make the Bill we were thinking of, apply in a similar way to children with special educational needs as, for want of a better term, to ordinary children.

In this sense, using this particular terminology is in fact using the terminology of that Bill. Where it applies, the efficient use of resources does apply. At the end of the day I hope that the noble Baroness will take comfort from the figures I gave about resources; about the attitudes of local education authorities in the use of them; about their concern for children with special educational needs. I am bound to say, from having visited a number of local education authorities and having looked quite particularly at the provision they make for special education, that although there is a variety in it—and clearly authorities vary in the provision that they make—I am always conscious of the dedication of the people working in this field.

If it is the implication that somehow local authorities will not use their resources to the best of their ability to help children with special educational needs, I think that is not so. I think they will use their resources as well as they can. I agree that we should like more resources, but one of the objects of this Bill is to get local authorities to look at what they have got—and it is a considerable amount—and make quite sure that they are using it in a way which fulfils the wishes of Mrs. Warnock and her Committee and the others of us who would like to see those principles carried into law.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I should like to thank the Minister for her reply. I am not sure that I agree with her. I perhaps did not make it clear when I was explaining the amendment that I really did not think that the choice for the ordinary child and the choice for the disabled child were anything like the same. Although the 1980 Act and this Bill use the same words about resources and education, we are choosing in the case of the ordinary child between two schools within the same school system, and for the disabled child whether it is forced into a special school where it might be educated in an ordinary school, or whether it can go to the ordinary neighbourhood school.

Baroness Young

One of the facts that Mrs. Warnock identified is that we are talking about perhaps one in six children about 20 per cent. of children, who may, at some stage or other, have special educational needs. We are also talking about those children who are currently in special education and who, under this Bill, would be subject to a statement, and that is about 2 per cent. of the school population. It is very much smaller. So there are quite a number of children whose parents will state a preference for a school and will therefore, although those children have special educational needs, be able to choose from a number of schools.

What we have tried to do is to give parents whose children will be subject to a statement again the opportunities to be consulted about the statement; to comment on the statement in draft; to comment on the statement when it is finally made; and if they are not satisfied with the arrangements that are being made with their child to take that case to an appeal committee, and finally to the Secretary of State, if that should prove to be necessary.

I would hope that during the course of this long process the parents of children with statements, would have a great many opportunities on which they could talk about their children and the provision that is going to be made for them with the local education authority, so that there would be the maximum understanding about how their needs would be met, and the provisions that the local authority would be making for them. Those are the ones with statements, and there would be others who will not be subject to statements but who will still have special educational needs. They will be in the majority, and they also come under this Bill. Therefore, for them it is even closer to the provisions for ordinary children.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I can appreciate that the whole difficulty of this Bill is that we are embracing such a vastly differing lot of children. But the noble Baroness would agree that with the failure of my Amendment No. 5, if a purely disabled child happened to live in a local education authority area where there was not a suitable school, that would be a child who would have a statement and would thus be treated in this different way in the judging of resources as to where it goes.

Baroness Young

It is difficult to make a generalisation about all children with physical disabilities. I have seen a child in a wheelchair in a primary school, and clearly in those circumstances the local education authority was able to make completely adequate arrangements for that child. I should like to see more children so educated. Indeed, it is probably rather easier in primary schools, which are nearly always one-storey buildings in any event. I cannot possibly speak for all local education authorities, but it may well be that there will be others where such suitable arrangements can be made. What I think we cannot write into the Bill is the compulsion to say that all this must be done as soon as the Bill is passed. We must work towards this aim.

We are both in agreement about the long-term provision and what the efficient use of resources means. As resources allow, so I think more schools will become available for children with physical disabilities, or deaf children, or blind children, as the noble Baroness said, or indeed other—ESN(M) children, who can be taught in these schools very effectively.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I am obliged to the Minister for her reply and think I shall have to be guided by the noble Baroness, Lady David, in this matter, as the amendment is also in her name. She hoped we would be able to get it through with a reasonable amount of support, but I wonder whether she agrees with me that that may not be the case and that, in any event, the Benches are not very full.

Baroness David

It might be wise for the noble Baroness to withdraw it; we can, if necessary, return to the subject at the next stage.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.11 p.m.

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 2, line 33, at end insert— ("( ) The Secretary of State shall prescribe by regulations the factors that are to be taken into account in determining what constitutes ' efficient education ' in subsection (3)(b) above.").

The noble Baroness said: Following the addition of Section 10 to the Education Act 1976, there was a great deal of consultation on the factors that were to be considered in deciding whether the education of a disabled child in an ordinary school was impracticable or incompatible with the provision of "efficient instruction" in the school, or would involve "unreasonable public expenditure", to quote the words of that section. Apart from that, the proposed condition of "the efficient use of resources" is no less difficult to define, and that also will require similar consultation. The factors governing the definition of those conditions are far too important to be left to the discretion of individual local authorities, some of which are good and some bad. We want the Secretary of State to prescribe by regulation the factors that are to be taken into account. In other parts of the Bill he will make regulations about this and that, so I do not think it unreasonable to ask for this to be done also. It would be a help not only to local authorities but to parents when they are considering whether to appeal and so on. This is a reasonable amendment which I hope the Government will quickly accept.

Baroness Young

The difficulty with this amendment is that so many factors would have to be taken into account that it would be very difficult for regulations to cover all eventualities. I believe that local education authorities will understand the term "efficient education" in subsection 3(b) when they are faced with a decision whether or not to propose a placement for a particular child with a statement in a particular ordinary school. Their aim would be to secure that the proposed placement would not cause the education of the other children in the school to be impaired, for example by requiring the teacher to give such attention to the child that the needs of other children were neglected or where the child was a persistently disruptive force during learning activities. There would of course be a variety of other factors which would need to be considered arising from the individual circumstances of different schools, and regulations could never cover all eventualities.

It would be very difficult to take all such conditions into account, but I am sure the noble Baroness. who is well-versed in the difficulties there are in school, will know that there are teachers who find children who are persistently disruptive, who could well be said to have special educational needs and who, if taught in an ordinary school, would make it impossible for many of the other children to learn, because so much of the teacher's time would be taken up with the one disruptive child. That would be the kind of circumstance in which the needs of the other children would have to be taken into account before such a child was placed in an ordinary school. There is, therefore, that side to it and it is an important factor.

It seems to me that the factors to be taken into account in determining what constitutes "efficient education" would have to be so broad in individual circumstances that they could almost become meaningless; therefore, such regulations would be very difficult to frame and we believe they would be quite unnecessary. I hope the noble Baroness will feel she can accept this argument. I do not know, of course, the circumstances which, when she had some responsibilities for these matters, were considered in relation to the 1976 Act, but I imagine they would have been very difficult to frame and, as she will know, that part of Section 10 was not brought into effect. It may well be, therefore—although I do not know whether this has been the case—that the difficulty of framing such regulations prevented it being done. If the noble Baroness considers the matter, I think she will agree that it is better to leave it as it is than go further. I hope she will accept that explanation of the reason why I cannot accept the amendment and will feel able to withdraw it.

Baroness David

I accept what the Minister says—that it is an extremely difficult area to put into words, so to speak—but I would ask her whether, if I withdraw the amendment, we could have a guarantee that consultations and discussions will take place with local authority associations so they may all have a general view of what is expected and what is meant by these phrases.

Baroness Young

I understand that following the measure becoming law there would be a circular and, as the noble Baroness will be aware, these matters are always discussed with local authorities; so I would imagine, as one would be explaining things in much more detail than the primary legislation can give, that these would be the sort of things that would be discussed with local authorities, as we are doing with a whole variety of matters all the time.

I do not know whether there is anything more I can add. I shall read in Hansard tomorrow what the noble Baroness said, and then I could either have a word with her before the next stage of the Bill or write to her on the subject, when I might be able to say something further, but what I have explained is my understanding of how we should carry out the consultation procedures under the Bill. We have, of course, already discussed with local authorities the framing of the legislation and we have no reason to think that they will not understand the term as it is written in the Bill.

Baroness David

With that partial assurance—that there will be consultations and a circular, which will at any rate outline some of the factors that are to be taken into account—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.18 p.m.

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 2, line 34, after ("authority") insert— ("(a)").

The noble Baroness said: This is a paving amendment to Amendment No. 15. I expect to be told that this amendment is unnecessary and that good local authorities will in any event be doing what paragraphs (b) and (c) ask should be done. There is a misprint in Amendment No. 15 as printed; it should refer to there being on its advisory staff an "officer" and not an "office". It is extremely important that local authorities have a well-equipped advisory staff, and we are here discussing an area which has been affected by the recent cuts imposed on local authorities and the education service.

I know personally what an enormous help it can be to have a good careers officer, someone who is well acquainted with special educational needs; it makes a tremendous difference, especially when there is a lot of unemployment, particularly among young people, to have special help in that way. A good careers officer, in addition to the ordinary advisory staff who go round the schools, can be an enormous help; so I hope this provision can be written into the Bill. If authorities already have these officers, well and good; but it would make it a duty for the others to have them also.

The designation of a special school as a resource centre was a recommendation of the Warnock Committee, and I should like to read a little of the paragraph of the report which deals with this point, since it puts it much better than I could: While all special schools should provide support for teachers in ordinary schools, we envisage that some of them will be formally established as resource centres, that is centres of specialist expertise and of research in special education, in which teachers in the area would be closely involved. Such centres would be used for curriculum development and in-service education for teachers, and also as places to which parents and other professionals could refer for advice on special education and where parents could meet each other". I think that that is an extremely important point: The preparation, storage and loan of specialised equipment and materials for use elsewhere, and the development of audiovisual materials for training would support the main functions outlined. In some instances the centres might also provide bases for advisory teachers working with pupils in ordinary schools". That, too, I think is a very important point: The number of such centres which it would be practicable to have in any one area would depend on the nature and size of the area and the type of special schools in that area. In a large conurbation it might be feasible to think in terms of a number of such centres: for example, one for the deaf and partially hearing; another for the physically handicapped; another for children with severe learning difficulties; and another for children with emotional or behavioural difficulties. We therefore recommend that within each local authority area some special schools should be designated and developed as resource centres". Paragraph 18.7 also deals with that point and states that it is hoped that resource centres will be centres not only of support for teachers and for parents, but also of research in special education". I feel that the Warnock Committee made a very good case for this proposal, and I hope that the Government can accept the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Young

I can understand why the noble Baroness put down the amendment, since, as she quite rightly said, Mrs. Warnock and her committee made this point very firmly in their report. I appreciate that the objective of the noble Baroness in the amendment is to secure not only effective advisory staff, but also a special school which might be a resource centre. However, there is a difficulty about the amendment. If it so wishes, the local education authority can employ advisory staff with experience and qualifications in special education, and I have no doubt that most, if not all, local education authorities do so. The local education authority also has power to designate a special school as a resource centre, and equally I have no doubt that many do that, too. However, it would be going very much against our devolved system of education if in primary legislation we were to lay down that local education authorities must have such an officer on their advisory staff and that they must designate a special school as a resource centre. I feel that it would very much go against the basis of our relationship with our partners in the education service—the local education authorities—if we attempted to lay down in legislation detailed descriptions as to how LEAs should develop their services.

It is for that constitutional reason that the Government cannot accept the amendment, though, as I say, I have no doubt that many authorities in fact do precisely what the amendment seeks. I quite see that this is very desirable to do in principle, but that is very different from saying that we should incorporate it into primary legislation in this way in the Bill.

Baroness David

That is not a very satisfactory reply. It seems to me that when it suits them the Government constantly place duties on local authorities, yet do not do so at other times. In some instances the local authority is given some freedom, but on other occasions the situation is very much reversed. I should like to think about this matter, since I might return with the amendment, or something very similar, at Report stage. For the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.25 p.m.

Baroness Faithfull moved Amendment No. 13: Page 2, line 36, at end insert ("by submitting on a prescribed form to the Secretary of State an annual report which shall be analysed, either in his Department or by a relevant organisation.")

The noble Baroness said: I move this amendment as a probing amendment. Clause 2(4) of the Bill states: It shall be the duty of every local education authority to keep under review the arrangements made by them for special educational provision". My amendment is much more specific than that. First, would not the Minister agree that perhaps it would be helpful to every local authority in the country if every year each local authority had to produce statistics in a well-devised form? Then each local authority could not only monitor its own work, but also compare its work with that of other local authorities. Local authorities would be able to learn one from the other. Therefore, would it not be better to have a prescribed form for every local authority to complete at the end of each year, as is carried out in relation to other Acts of Parliament, including all the children Acts? The Children and Young Persons Act prescribes a form which the local authorities complete and the relevant figures are published each year by the Department of Health and Social Security.

I feel that other noble Lords are perhaps worried about the monitoring of this new venture. The noble Baroness, Lady David, in her Amendment No. 14, and the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, in his Amendment No. 69, possibly show concern about the future monitoring of the effects of this quite outstanding Bill. Unless there is monitoring both locally and nationally, we shall not know whether we are following the right lines; nor shall we know how effective the Bill and the new procedures are proving to be. I ask the Minister whether she would not agree that the requirement ought to be much more specific.

I am aware that Form 7F from the Department of Education and Science requires every school to notify its pupils, and presumably handicapped pupils will be notified by means of that form. However, a number of children are not on school rolls. For instance, children in hospital, or at home receiving a different form of education, will not be included on Form 7F issued each year by the Department of Education and Science.

Other reports made recommendations in this respect. For instance, the Court Report recommended a triennial report, so that we could know what was happening in regard to child health. When the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act was passed the Government commissioned the Office of Population and Census and as a result the Amelia Harris Survey was produced. So I would ask for much more specific monitoring to be carried out. I appreciate that the Government's answer will probably be that this arrangement would be costly to local authorities, but how otherwise are we to know whether we are being effective, whether we are throwing money away or are doing things in the right way?

I would just say that in my amendment I have said that this annual report should be analysed either in the Department of Education and Science or "by a relevant organisation". When I say "a relevant organisation", one of the organisations (and I am sure there are many others) would perhaps be, for instance, the National Children's Bureau, which is dealing with the National CoHORT and has already done a great deal of work on handicapped children—indeed, it has produced a book called Living with Handicapped—and on which Dr. Kellmer Pringle, who has done so much for children in this country, was serving, and in fact directed. When she leaves in September her place will be taken by Professor Ronald Davie, who also helped to monitor the book on handicapped children. Therefore, I beg to move this amendment as a probing amendment, to learn something from the Minister.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

I should like to support the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, in what she has just said; and I think she has outlined her amendment in a very practical way. I am also concerned especially as, if Warnock is taken to its final conclusion, we shall abolish categories altogether, which I think will be very difficult at the beginning. But if we are abolishing categories, there will be no way in which we shall be able to see whether there has been, for some reason, perhaps, an influx in, say, spina bifida, or an influx in blindness arising from the drugs being used in childbirth. If we do not have categories, that is going to cause a difficulty, I can see, but no doubt the noble Baroness will explain that at a later stage.

But why I am interested in the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, is because it will give an opportunity to the Government to say to a local authority, "We really feel that perhaps you ought to be doing a little better"—especially because (as, I repeat, was said so often in the other place) what is hoped from this Bill is that local authorities will learn the good practices, and they will not learn those good practices unless statistics and information are kept. Therefore, I should like to support the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull.

Baroness Young

Before turning to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, it might be helpful if I explained a little more what Clause 2(4) means. The Committee will see that, as the Bill stands, it places local education authorities under a duty to keep under review their arrangements for special educational provision. That duty cannot be discharged without positive action somewhere in the authority. As I see it, local education authorities will have special education sub-committees which from time to time will consider aspects of special educational provision, and all authorities will conduct an annual appraisal of their provision in the context of their estimates.

I would see this as being the most probable time when a local education authority will in fact review their arrangements for special educational provision each year. They will also review them, I can imagine, if, for example, in the context of falling rolls, they find that there are empty classrooms in a school; they may consider that this is an appropriate moment at which to make some kind of provision for children with special educational needs in that school because there is a classroom that is empty. I therefore see that the opportunities for making provision will occur at the time of the annual estimates, but might also occur at other times.

The noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, raised a rather separate point, but a very important one, about the dissemination of good practice. Although authorities can of course learn from statistical information which the department publishes quite regularly, I think that mostly they learn from the dissemination of good practice either at conferences, from HMI publications or from the meetings of professionals. This is important, and if standards are to rise it is very important that this good practice should be known among local authorities.

If I may now turn quite specifically to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, I should like to assure her that comprehensive statistics are already collected and programmed on the department's computer, and we shall continue to require annual information on pupil numbers and on placements after this legislation has been enacted. We do in fact collect statistics on education otherwise than at school on Form 21M; we collect information on the education of children in hospital, on Form 7M, and for that at special schools on Form 21M, as for others. The basis of the statistics in future is being reconsidered in the light of the abolition of the categories of handicap.

In addition, of course, the department receives and considers bids for the special education building programme annually; and, of course, we talk regularly to local authorities about their plans in this context. So I can assure the noble Baroness that my department has a great deal of relevant information from local authorities, and I believe that, with this, we can meet the point that she feels is not being met by subsection (4). But, as I say, in putting subsection (4) into this Bill we are not simply relying on that. I hope I have said enough to indicate that we shall continue to collect these statistics, and this will give her and local education authorities generally the information that they require. I therefore hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Faithfull

I should like to thank the Minister for her explanation and for her comments. I have to say that I am not wholly convinced or happy because these facts and figures have been known to the DES, as she herself has said, and yet many of us know of children in mental hospitals, for instance, who have not been educated even if the facts have been known. However, this was a probing amendment. If I may, I should like to read in Hansard tomorrow what has been said, and reserve the right to bring the matter up again at Report stage, if necessary. I therefore beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.38 p.m.

Lord Banks moved Amendment No. 14: Page 2, line 36, at end insert ("and to submit to the Secretary of State within one year of the coming into force of this Act, for his approval, development plans detailing the systematic arrangements which will be made throughout the authority over the five years following the approval of the plan for the meeting of special educational needs in ordinary schools.").

The noble Lord said: The amendment which I moved last sought to put pressure on local education authorities to make provision in individual cases, but obviously there is a limit to the progress which can be made in this way. There must be an overall planned programme over a fixed period of years to improve the capacity of ordinary schools to provide for special educational needs. Integration will inevitably be phased in—it cannot happen all at once—but the object must be to see that there is no delay in that phasing.

The report Integrating the Disabled, chaired by the noble Earl, Lord Snowdon, and to which the noble Baroness, Lady David, has already referred this afternoon, had this to say on the subject: A major object of special education policy over the next ten years should therefore be the planned introduction of a system of integrated education of the handicapped". That report went on: Systematic planning of special provision is needed if imbalances in the availability of facilities are to be avoided and resources matched to needs". The Warnock Committee have made this comment: We therefore recommend that each local education authority should have a comprehensive and long-term plan for special educational provision within which the arrangements for individual schools will take their place". This amendment places a duty on local education authorities to produce to the Secretary of State within one year of the Act coming into force a five-year plan for meeting special educational needs in ordinary schools. I beg to move.

Baroness David

I should like strongly to support this amendment. I think everyone wants to see a bit of flesh on the bones of this Bill. People will begin to believe that the Government are serious in their intentions if the Government ask local authorities to submit to the Secretary of State some sort of development plan. I believe that some authorities are already making these plans, but we must encourage all authorities and not just the best ones to do this. This would not involve local authorities in more than a minimum amount of expense, but it would be something for them to aim at and would help them when they were applying for capital grants and so on to show that it was to fit in with a plan to make this Bill a better Bill and to make the Act work. f hope very much that the noble Lord, Lord Banks, will press this amendment. I think it is an extremely important point.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I, too, should like to give this amendment my strong support. It is essential for ensuring integration. We have talked about the importance of the review. A five-year plan is even more important. I hope that the Government will accept it. It will be helpful to them. You need a systematic plan, particularly where resources are at a premium. No one would argue that integration can be achieved satisfactorily over night. It is important to encourage the LEAs to plan for what they hope to accomplish over a reasonable time. Without a planned approach, integration is unlikely to work satisfactorily.

Lord Alexander of Potterhill

I hesitate to oppose an amendment in this field, but I wonder whether, in fact, a five-year plan is going to be helpful. Shall we know the resources available in five years' time or not? Are we to guess at them? The important thing for this Bill is to alter the attitude of the local authorities and to use the resources, as they emerge from year to year, to the best advantage. I do not believe that making a plan for five years ahead would help.

Baroness David

May I reply to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander? Maybe five years is the wrong length of time, but I think a plan is important. Maybe it should be a ten-year plan. But it is in line with a Warnock recommendation in chapter 7, paragraph 48. I quote: 'We therefore recommend that each local education authority should have a comprehensive and long-term plan for special educational provision within which the arrangements for individual schools will take their place.". It has good backing there. I hope that the coolness with which the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, received this proposal will not affect the rest of the Committee. I think it would show good intentions and I am sure that if five years is not a suitable time, we should be happy to change it to ten years. I think the principle of a plan should be supported.

Baroness Faithfull

I think that the principle of a plan is magnificent; but in reality, it has not worked in the past for those of us who have been in local government. I remember that in another area we were asked to get out a ten-year plan. The officers of the local authority spent hours getting out a ten-year plan when suddenly the whole thing was reversed by a change of policy. All of our ten-year plans and all the work involved went for naught. Therefore, I think that it is important to have a plan within the local authority, but to produce a ten-year plan is quite unrealistic, based on experience.

Baroness Fisher of Rednal

Perhaps I can add some warmth to Lady David after the coolness of Lord Alexander. I think that my noble friend Lady David said clearly in support that many local authorities were already looking at their special educational needs. As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, all the educational authorities are having to look at the needs not only for special education but for primary and nursery schools, because of falling population. The need to look at special education, as Lady Young has said, is that there is a change of emphasis on the needs of the handicapped now. It is for this reason that many local authorities are looking forward to make sure that they are taking into account the new kind of education that is necessary, bearing in mind that many authorities are going to have to deal with more multiple handicaps in the future than they have in the past under special education.

To warm the ears of my noble friend Lady David, I would say that I have before me the report of the working party on the future of special education in Birmingham, which was published in March 1980 and is a thoroughgoing document. There are a few hundred pages with proposals for schools that they have got, the schools they might go into, the research which might be carried out. If the noble Baroness, Lady Young, is interested, I can let her have a copy of this, but no doubt her office already has one. It is important for local authorities to be looking forward into what is a real change of emphasis on special education which this Bill and the Warnock Report are showing to us.

Lord Wells-Pestell

I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Young, will not brush this on one side. I think it would be very much out of character, with respect, if the noble Baroness were to do this. I accept what the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, has just said about a ten-year plan. That is much too long. But I do not see how we can plan the future without having some kind of guide as to the direction in which we are doing. Some of the difficulties we have encountered in the social welfare field have been due entirely to the fact that it has been so haphazard, that we have not sat down and thought about next year and the year after and the year after that.

Money will be tight for a good many years to come. We ought to know what our basic needs are for the future. We ought to say what we are prepared to do, having regard to the needs of the disabled and the importance of their being integrated as far as possible in our educational system. I hope the Minister will say that we need a plan. Whether it is of three or five years is relatively unimportant, but it is important that we get the local education authorities thinking of the problem in their own areas and what they could do along the lines suggested by some of my noble friends on this side.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

I think we ought to remember in what capacity we are operating now. This is not a Second Reading debate; it is Committee stage, where we are writing in detail the words of a statute. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady David, is, in a way, letting down the noble Lord in what was a general admission. She seemed to be accepting the practical advice given by Lord Alexander with his great experience and then said that we ought to indicate our general good intentions. We ought not to try to generate genuine good intentions. We have to write into the statute, which people will adhere to, things which are practical and will pass the test of being realistic. To commit local authorities to have to work out detailed plans for a general intention which cannot, for practical reasons, be given effect to is wasting the time and diverting the attention of the authority from other things that they ought to be doing.

A general intention is very good. Who could disagree with the noble Baroness in wanting generally to give the impression as to how things ought to be better? But we are working out a statute which has to be hard, real and practical. I do not believe from the short debate that I have heard that it has passed that test. I hope that my noble friend will resist the appeals that come from the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, who always speaks with such charm, but on this occasion I am certain that he is asking somebody to give statutory authority to people virtually to waste their time.

6.50 p.m.

Baroness Young

I always listen carefully to what is said in these debates, and particularly so on this Bill because we are not talking here about major party political matters. These are discussions on the best way to implement a Bill that we all wish to see on the statute book. Clearly, the Committee is divided upon this particular amendment. I was very interested in what my noble friend Lady Faithfull had to say about plans generally, because when I first became a member of an education committee in 1960 (which was a very long time ago now, I realise) one of the first documents put into my hand was the development plan that was required under the 1944 Education Act which the City had drawn up and which everybody on the education committee clearly ought to have read.

It became very clear on first reading it that it was already out of date, and it became increasingly out of date as year succeeded year. This has been the fate of development plans: they have tended to restrict rather then encourage development. I believe that there is a danger that the welcome developments which suddenly come about because of better practice or better medical skills or what-you-will, which cannot be foreseen when the plan is drawn up, are not considered because they fall outside the plan. Indeed, development plans for primary and secondary schools which were required by Section 11 of the 1944 Education Act fell into disuse for precisely this kind of reason, and Section 11 was repealed last year in the 1980 Education Act.

Similarly, one of the problems with the law as it now stands in relation to the provision of further education—a matter to which we shall be turning our attention later—is that the general duties of LEAs to provide further education are couched in terms of schemes of further education which require the approval of the Secretary of State and then are mandatory upon the LEAs. Developments in the further education field have in many cases outstripped the schemes. This is one of the issues which the department are considering in their review of the law governing the provision of further education.

So there is this general difficulty about development plans. There is also a further detailed objection: the amendment deals only with special educational provision in ordinary schools. In other words, it is directed solely at plans for integration and the development of existing provision for the majority of children with special educational needs who are already receiving education in ordinary schools. The amendment leaves out the continuing development of special education which we have all agreed, and special schools will still be necessary in the future; yet, with declining rolls, this is an area where most changes are likely to occur in the next five years.

We believe that local education authorities must be given the maximum amount of flexibility in the use of their resources and we would not wish to place them under any undue constraint as to how and where they use these. This freedom will enable LEAs to develop imaginative schemes to integrate some of the pupils now in special schools.

I am quite certain that the document to which the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, referred, is an example of what a local authority has decided to do, and I am sure will do very well. But I have already indicated that the pace of change will often be directed by the availability of both human and financial resources. There is a great deal of difference between local authorities that have looked at this matter and decided that they wish to make provision in a certain way by a plan, or whatever it may be, and the Government writing again into primary legislation that they should make such a plan. We feel that this would be a mistake. It would go against our constitutional relationships with our partners in the education service. We have found from practical experience that development plans have not always worked out as their framers intended and have had in effect a restricting influence rather than one that encourages important new developments.

I hope therefore that the noble Lord, Lord Banks, will feel that in making these remarks I am trying to answer the points that he has raised, the concerns which I know a lot of people have raised in another place as well as outside it about what provision local authorities are going to make, but to say that we believe that the Bill, as drafted, will cause local authorities to look at their arrangements to determine the best way to carry out the provisions of the Bill.

Lord Banks

I should like to express my thanks to those who have supported this amendment. I have listened with great interest to the comments from those who did not feel able to do so. The noble Baroness, Lady David, pointed out at the very beginning an important fact: that this would involve a minimum of expense and that it would provide something to aim at, which was underlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), when she said that we need a systematic plan. It is our attitude to those two statements, that we need something to aim at and a systematic plan, on which our approach to this amendment turns.

There are those of us who feel that getting the Bill on to the statute book as an Act is the first step, but unless there are some pretty positive moves taken after that we shall not really take full advantage of it. The obligation on each local authority to produce a plan to say what they are going to do in the next five years would start the process of getting action taken to see that ordinary schools are gradually and progressively better fitted to deal with handicapped children.

The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, asks: "Would we know what the resources are?" Well, we should not necessarily know what the resources would be at the end of five years. The plan might be necessarily amended; other things might occur which would need further amendment. At any rate, the vehicle would have started on the road by the obligation to think at the very beginning of the enterprise exactly what one was going to do to make it viable and advance it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, spoke about the possibility of a change of policy. I do not think that we are going to have a change of policy in this field. I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Fisher, was right when she said that there is a change of attitude now—a complete change of attitude. I think that the new policy line is one that is going to command general support for so far ahead as we can see. The noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, made a very important point when he said that we were suffering from a haphazard approach in many of our welfare policies in this country and that we needed a bit more standing back and planning what we were going to do rather than just being pushed along by events.

The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, rightly pointed out that it is no good just having good intentions. I think that this would be something more than just having good intentions. It would be a target; it would be something to aim at. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, made some play out of the fact that—as I have already mentioned—a plan can become out of date. It provides a target initially and it can be amended. She pointed out that continuing development is left out. If she likes to produce an amendment at the next stage of the Bill covering that point, I am sure that we should all listen to that most sympathetically. I understand the force of some of the arguments which she put forward, but it did not seem to me that they outweighed the great advantage of plans being made throughout the country to take this Bill when it becomes an Act and carry it forward so that it really makes a change in our system. For that reason, I should like to test the feeling of the Committee.

Baroness Faithfull

Before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to make just one comment. I think he said I said that there might be a change of policy with regard to the treatment of the integration of handicapped children. I was not referring to that: I was referring to the change of resources because, on the one hand, if you bring out a ten-year plan and the resources are very much less than they were before, your plan is wasted. If, by happy chance, your resources double, equally your plan is out of date.

Lord Banks

I appreciate the point made by the noble Baroness. It is of course possible to have various contingency plans for differing amounts of resources, and no doubt that would be a sensible thing to do. I did think she had used the phrase "change of policy", and if I was wrong I apologise.

7.2 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 14) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 50; Not-Contents, 76.

Airedale, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Ardwick, L. Kissin, L.
Bacon, B. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Banks, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Barrington, V. Mishcon, L.
Beswick, L. Molloy, L.
Bishopston, L. Oram, L.
Brockway, L. Peart, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Chitnis, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Seear, B.
Collison, L. Stamp, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Stedman, B.
David, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Stone, L.
Fulton, L. Strabolgi, L.
Grey, E. [Teller.] Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Hanworth, V. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Hooson, L. Tordoff, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Underhill, L.
Hughes, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Ingleby, V. Whaddon, L.
Janner, L. White, B.
Jeger, B. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Loudoun, C.
Alexander of Potterhill, L. Lyell, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Alport, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Avon, E. Mancroft, L.
Belstead, L. Marley, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Marshall of Leeeds, L.
Caithness, E. Mottistone, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Newall, L.
Cathcart, E. Northchurch, B.
Chelwood, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Craigavon, V. Onslow, E.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Orkney, E.
Davidson, V. Orr-Ewing, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Pender, L.
Digby, L. Platt of Writtle, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Radnor, E.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Rankeillour, L.
Elphinstone, L. Renton, L.
Faithfull, B. Renwick, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Salisbury, M.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Sandys, L. [Teller.]
Glasgow, E. Shannon, E.
Glenarthur, L. Sharples, B.
Greenway, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Gridley, L. Soames, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Sudeley, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Swinfen, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Trevethin and Oaksey, L.
Henley, L. Vaizey, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Vickers, B.
Killearn, L. Vivian, L.
Kinloss, Ly. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Lane-Fox, B. Windlesham, L.
Lauderdale, E. Young, B.
Long, V.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

Baroness Young

I think perhaps it may be for the convenience of the Committee if we take other Business now. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.