§ 3.5 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Lord Elton)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Elton.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 21 [Review of administration of education in inner London]:
The Lord Bishop of London moved Amendment No. 101:
Page 15, line 18, leave out subsections (1) and (2) and insert—
("(1) The Secretary of State may before 31st March 1991 review the exercise by the Authority of its functions relating to education.").
The right reverend Prelate said: I beg to move Amendment No. 101 on the Marshalled List. I hope it will be convenient to the Committee if I also speak to Amendments Nos. 105 and 106, which are consequential to it.
Amendment No. 105: Page 15, line 32, leave out from ("section") to ("and") in line 34.
Amendment No. 106:line 36, leave out subsection (4).
§ The purpose of this amendment is to provide the Inner London Education Authority as constituted under the Bill with the necessary stability to enable it to discharge its functions and to deal with the additional responsibilities which it will have to undertake following the abolition of the GLC. I must confess that I find it extraordinary that the provisions of Clause 21 should be included in the Bill, as they seem to me to be contrary to the principles of good management and administration.
§ I speak as one who has had some experience in education and education administration, and who is now chairman of the Church of England Board of Education. As Bishop of London I have the opportunity to see at first hand the educational needs of London. I have a concern for all our schools in London, not just for the 82 primary and secondary schools which are Church schools.
I have spoken in this Chamber in support of the service provided by ILEA in trying to make provision for education often in the most adverse conditions and I shall not take your Lordships' time by repeating what I have said. But I should like to quote from a letter which I have just received from the head teacher of one of our Church primary schools in a particular deprived area. She writes:
Stress and pressure from poverty and deprivation are very real here. Our multi-ethnic multi-faith Church of England school seeks to alleviate these conditions for all families and to provide a purposeful education in most difficult times for all children. The
support, expertise and backup services available from the authority to its schools is superb. Certain areas could be improved of course and some financial savings made, but that might be said of most organisations. I appreciate the help and support I receive from the authority in administering this school. We really need unity today in the diversity London presents".
It was a great relief when the Government modified their original proposals and decided to provide for an elected body to succeed the present authority. When we read the provisions of Clause 21 in the present Bill our feeling of reassurance was undermined, for two reasons: First, because we believe that the provisions for constant review militate against the satisfactory operation of that body; and, secondly, because the provisions of Clause 21(1) and (4) envisage a reopening of the question of a unitary authority for inner London. We had hoped that the question of a unitary authority had been settled by the Ministerial Committee under the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in 1981. Following its work the Minister said,
The weight of educational opinion including voluntary bodies and the churches is that the problems of inner London call for a single authority of adequate size and of adequate resources to administer its schools as well as further and higher education and the careers services".
That decision was reflected in a statement of the present Secretary of State in 1983 when he announced that it would be a directly elected authority:
The nature, scale and importance of the education service in inner London taken together justify a directly-elected authority in this special case. MPs and others involved in inner London were overwhelmingly in favour of a directly-elected authority. We have therefore been persuaded by their arguments".
In saying those words the Secretary of State, as I say, reaffirmed the principle of the unitary authority for inner London.
§ Clause 21 obliges the Secretary of State to review the authority's exercise of its function by March 1991, but leaves entirely unspecified the basis of the review. It empowers him to review the authority again at any time after 1991 and enables him to carry out decisions as a result of such reviews, including the break-up of the authority by laying an order in both Houses of Parliament. In other words, that is without further legislation, serious public debate, or the discerning of public opinion, which I would submit has played a very important part in arriving at the present situation.
§ It is not as though the authority has not already been looked at. For the last eight years, in the course of three successive Parliaments, the ILEA has been the subject of extensive external reviews. It has also conducted two internal reviews and it is of course always subject to the scrutiny of Her Majesty's inspectors. It might be thought that these provisions do not reflect very creditably upon what Her Majesty's inspectors are expected to do—and, in fact, do. Six months after an elected unitary authority was announced, this Bill was published with proposals for further legislative powers to review the authority. It is not immediately obvious why such explicit powers are sought with respect to one particular education authority. Any body constituted by statute is of course always subject to review in the light of its performance and of changing circumstances, in the sense that Parliament may at any time amend or repeal the legislation creating a body and defining its functions.896
§ Looking ahead at the work of the new authority, what lies in store? First, it has to draw up a scheme for its education committee. Next it must attempt to reassemble the multitude of support services provided for the past 20 years by the GLC, and before that by the LCC; and that is no small task. Full technical services—architectural, engineering and valuation—will have to be established to sustain a stock of more than 3,000 buildings, many far from their prime.
§ Legal and clerking services will be required, as will scientific and other specialist advice currently available from the GLC. The central purchasing arrangements, through which the ILEA spent £43 million last year, and on which many other local education authorities depend, will have to be replaced. Financial and computing services, including the matter of the pay of 65,000 employees, must continue without interruption. Rate capping will continue to affect the authority as the Government, not content to rely on the provisions of the Rates Act, intend through the Local Government Bill to impose automatic rate capping. The Bill also provides for the Secretary of State to determine staffing levels and to make detailed administrative arrangements.
§ Meanwhile, the authority will continue to encounter the normal problems that face all LEAs. There is a new examination system to implement; major decisions loom on the future of 16 to 19 education; there are the consequences of the secondary school roll, which will decline by a further 18 per cent. between now and 1991, with all the attendant stress of contraction and redeployment; and London parents also expect to see the implementation of the recommendations for primary and secondary schools put forward in the Hargreaves and Thomas reports which the authority commissioned.
§ Then in 1990, just as the new ILEA will barely have got itself re-established as a free-standing authority, the Secretary of State will start his review. If the outcome of the review is favourable, then there is the possibility of the review cycle starting all over again. Surely this cannot be regarded as a reasonable and responsible way to treat the biggest and most complex local education authority.
§ Do your Lordships appreciate the amount of distraction and dislocation that results from such regular scrutiny of a major personal service? Do you understand the effect on the morale of all staff, including those in the classrooms? Would the Secretary of State tolerate a similar attitude by a local authority to one of its own schools, when, having perhaps withdrawn proposals for closure under Section 13, it then suddenly says, "Yes, we will let you go on, but we are immediately going to set up steps for reviewing you not just this year but possibly the year after and the year after that"? Surely the answer to all these questions must be, no.
The Government, in answer to critics of this clause, have relied on precedent and cite the Local Government Act 1963 which provided for a review of the new ILEA. However, 1985 is not a parallel situation to 1963. First, in 1963 a new authority was being set up. In 1985 there is an existing authority, as the Secretary of State has acknowledged in another place. Secondly, the 1963 Act proposed only one review of the authority, not the prospect of endless
reviews. It is worth noting that the Minister, when replying to the debate in another place on this clause at Report stage, did not seek to justify the subsequent reviews. He merely argued:
I reiterate that the power of review to come into force by 1991 is right".
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ The proposed review in this Bill goes much wider than the review envisaged in the 1963 Act. It enables the Secretary of State to transfer or divide to all or any of the inner London boroughs any education or non-education functions. Incidentally, I find it difficult to think of what are non-educational functions of an education authority, but I shall not dwell on that unduly. The proposals for review in this clause raise afresh the question of the unitary authority which, as I said, we hoped had been accepted; but here it is reopened. That is why the amendment to subsection (1) and also Amendment No. 106, to subsection (4), are so important, because they remove this element in the review; namely, the prospect that the authority will actually be dismembered.
§ A further argument advanced by the Government on this clause is that a review had been promised, both in the White Paper and when the announcement of direct elections was made. Even given that commitment, there seems no reason why the Government should take the view that the review should be a duty rather than a power and that a series of reviews is called for. Amendment No. 101 does not say that there should be no review; it gives the Secretary of State the power to conduct it, if he deems it right.
§ The prospect of a series of endless, even continuous, reviews would be demoralising and disruptive. It inevitably involves additional expense and it is difficult to reconcile these provisions with the repeated expressed desire of the Government to control expenditure on education. The Government have decided in favour of a unitary elected authority. In the interests of education in the inner London area, which I would remind your Lordships contains 10 of the 13 most deprived areas listed by the Department of the Environment, I ask your Lordships to give it a proper chance to be able to settle down and to do its work by voting for this amendment and for Amendments Nos. 105 and 106. I beg to move.
§ The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)
If this amendment is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 102, 103 or 104.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
When the Secretary of State accepted the principle of an elected body for inner London education, many of us rejoiced that the evident wishes of Londoners had prevailed and that a proper vehicle was on offer for giving them effect. The publication of the Bill, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London has said, dispelled that illusion, for what is proposed here is subject to so many controls and restrictions that the new body will be little more than an agency of central Government disguised under a democratic facade.
One can only conclude that the Secretary of State is taking these draconian powers because he fears that he 898 will be landed with an elected body not to his political taste. This could have been avoided if the Government, aided and abetted by the Labour Party, had not voted on Thursday night against the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, to stipulate proportional representation for elections to the ILEA. I believe that a great opportunity was missed there to get a fair, balanced, representative and responsible authority and to take the politics out of education.
Despite the blindness of the Government and of most if not all of the Labour Party to the obvious virtues of proportional representation, particularly in this instance, I have put my name to this series of amendments because I believe that this is a bad clause. It is bad for parents, it is bad for teachers and it is bad for children. The right reverend Prelate has advanced many of the reasons why this is so, and I agree with all of what he said. The Government will no doubt argue that a five-year review period was built into the 1963 Act but this, as the right reverend Prelate has said, is not a similar situation.
There is now an effective existing authority although it is nominally a sub-committee of the GLC. Its administrative structure already exists and it has a great deal to get on with without constantly looking over its shoulder at Big Brother. It has the Hargreaves Report on secondary education to work on, as the right reverend Prelate said—that was very much welcomed by the Secretary of State—and the Thomas Report on primary education. I believe I am right in saying that Mark Carlisle, when he was Secretary of State for Education, was against statutory reviews for ILEA, also on educational grounds.
There will also be a new national examinations system to take on board and crucial decisions to be taken on provision for 16-to 19-year-olds. A statutory review within five years, followed by an endless series of rolling reviews, can be only a distraction and a hindrance to getting on with the job. It is also bad for teachers' and staff morale, which is already pretty low.
Finally, it is unnecessary. Every body created by statute is subject to the scrutiny of Parliament; and the Government can at any time repeal legislation or introduce amending legislation if they feel that an authority is getting out of hand or going off the rails. The only question that really matters here is: are the interests of the children of inner London and their parents going to be well served or not by this clause? I would say, definitely not. For that reason, I and my noble friends strongly support these amendments.
As a number of amendments have been grouped together I should just like to say a word about Amendment No. 107B, which is designed to clarify the Secretary of State's power under Clause 21. Not only is this a bad clause for the educational reasons already mentioned but it is also bad because—I have taken counsel's advice on this—it is open to differing constructions in a court of law. At Second Reading I asked the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to clarify what would be the position of an elected ILEA shorn of all or virtually all of its powers and functions. Not unsurprisingly—I make no complaint about this—in answering a debate with more than 50 speakers, the noble Viscount was unable to answer my question which I therefore have to ask again. Could 899 the elected body be dissolved and future elections be cancelled merely by order? Is that the intention of the Bill? Nothing is said in Clause 18 about this and I suggest that Clause 21 is ambiguous on the point. That may be bad drafting or it may be deliberate fudging; either way, it is not good enough for important primary legislation.
One could, for example, envisage a case in which parents or governors brought a case against the Secretary of State for the dissolution of the Inner London Education Authority. The judge might rule that the Secretary of State's right to transfer functions also gave him the power under Clause 21(6) to wind up a functionless ILEA entirely, without further ado; or he might rule that having set up an elected body and made no explicit provision for its demise, he did not have the power under the Bill to abolish that body entirely and that he could not therefore after a review take away all of its functions without coming back to Parliament. I do not know, but we have a right to know the Government's interpretation of the Secretary of State's powers. The Government themselves in their own interests have to be clear about their own powers in case they find themselves in the dock. My amendment would clarify this dubious area and would make it quite clear to everyone concerned that, before depriving ILEA of all its functions and abolishing elections, the Secretary of State would have to come back to Parliament with amending legislation, as of course he should do.
It would surely be intolerable to your Lordships' Committee that an elected body should be abolished merely by an affirmative instrument on which your Lordships would by long established convention have no vote. If there is an element of doubt, as I strongly suspect there is, about the construction of the clause the Government should withdraw it both on these grounds and on the educational grounds that have already been argued. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to tell us that the Government will do just that.
§ Baroness Serota
I should perhaps preface my strong support for these amendments by declaring a personal interest in a secure and stable future for the ILEA in that I have four grandchildren currently being educated at an ILEA primary school and I myself am a product of the London education service. But perhaps more important and relevant to the issues which the Committee currently has under consideration is my direct experience of the nature, scale and complexity of the education service in inner London—ranging as it does from nursery schools and nursery classes through primary and secondary schools to further and higher education—as a result of my membership of the LCC Education Committee continuously over a period of some 13 years, followed by a further period of three years as vice chairman of the Education Committee of the Inner London Education Authority when it was first established in 1963.
Having lived through the upheaval of the reorganisation of London government in 1963—the creation of the GLC and of the ILEA in particular—I am only too well aware (and there are several noble Lords present today who share this experience) of the 900 unsettling and at times traumatic effect of major reorganisations and reviews for everyone involved in providing and using local government services. Those first three years of the ILEA's existence were difficult enough and the prospect of a further review by 1970 which was provided in the 1963 Act, as the right reverend Prelate has just said, hanging over the service made for even greater insecurity and anxiety which was only dispelled when in 1967 the Local Government (Termination of Reviews) Act repealed the review provision.
However, in spite of all that experience the Bill as at present drafted goes even further in that, as at present drafted, the statute will provide for ongoing and seemingly endless reviews at any time covering all or part of the ILEA services and area without further primary legislation. As such, it can act only as a permanent threat to the unified service which two Governments—two Conservative Governments, I may add—have decided in the past 20 years should remain a unified directly elected service as a result of overwhelming public and informed support.
Such a constant threat will inevitably damage the quality of the educational opportunity offered to the children, to their parents and to students. It will destroy its stability, it will hinder long-term planning, it will certainly hinder staff recruitment and, above all, I believe that it will unsettle the existing staff. All concerned with the provision of the education service know that in the last resort it is the quality of staff at all levels that determines the quality of any service.
The roots and the branches of the London educational service have grown continuously together over the past 115 years; indeed, ever since the London School Board was set out in 1870. Any gardener will tell you that when you start cutting the roots and branches of, say, a mature oak and replace it with some 12 saplings, you destroy the environment and you certainly destroy a tree which will take another 100 years to replace. Some 3,500 London schoolchildren opt to attend secondary schools in boroughs outside their home areas when they transfer to secondary education. The mind certainly boggles at the thought, let alone the cost, of 12 sets of administrative arrangements which will be needed merely for claiming and making payments for children and students who are being educated in boroughs other than in their home areas if secondary education were ever to be devolved as a borough responsibility.
I could give the Committee many more practical examples in terms of specialist services which can only be provided effectively and economically on a London-wide basis, epecially in regard to the education of children with handicaps. Many Members of this House and indeed of this Committee have shown on numerous occasions their special concern for the handicapped, and particularly for the needs of handicapped children. There are 30 per cent. more handicapped children in inner London than nationally, and for those whose needs cannot yet be met in their local schools ILEA provides some 100 special schools to cater for the whole range of handicap: autism, mental handicap, physical handicap, maladjusted children, the partially sighted, and those with partial hearing. Indeed, some 30 of them are boarding schools not even located in London 901 itself. I shall not detain the Committee further by detailing other examples of the unsettling effects of the present provisions of Clause 21 and the overwhelming case for the amendments which the right reverend Prelate so ably moved a few moments ago.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ After all the experience of the past 20 years, it is very unlikely that any objective review would come up with a different decision from all the previous decisions of which the Government have already taken full note. Nor are the amendments which are before the Committee today wrecking amendments; and nor do they take the heart out of this Bill—to use two phrases which the supporters of this Bill have recurred frequently in relation to a number of amendments which have been moved and voted upon in this Chamber over the past weeks as we have laboured through the Committee stage.
§ Now that the Government have been fully convinced of the case for retaining a unified education service in inner London, I urge them and the whole Committee to accept the group of amendments moved by the right reverend Prelate and thereby remove the sword of Damocles which will otherwise hang perpetually over the head of one of the greatest education authorities in this country.
§ Lord Beloff
Perhaps I may at this point explain why some people who, like myself, were in favour of an elected ILEA replacing the present structure are nevertheless favourable to the proposals in the Bill and find it impossible to support Amendment No. 101. When we argued the case for an elected ILEA rather than some kind of joint board, we took on board the view, which has been powerfully expressed by the noble Baroness, that there are great practical considerations which would make the maintenance of a central focus for inner London's education desirable, all other considerations being equal.
What is important is the proviso. If the other considerations are not equal—that is to say, if one came to the conclusion that the damage done to the education of children of all or part of inner London was greater than the advantages to be derived from a single authority—one would have to look at this matter again.
The admiration for the work of the ILEA which has been expressed by the right reverend Prelate—and I bow to his authority in these matters—is not widely and certainly not universally accepted in the education world, when its performance is compared with authorities which also have responsibilities for difficult and deprived areas, for ethnic minorities and so forth. On the contrary, some of us believe that the present educational philosophy of ILEA is extremely detrimental in particular to children in categories of that kind, and that a philosophy which places more emphasis upon notions of sexism, racism and the other bees which circulate in Mrs. Francis Morrell's all-too capacious bonnet, is not a philosophy that is going to help the young people of inner London become full citizens, whatever their ethnic origin or home deprivation.
We therefore hoped, and still hope, that the process of direct election—and I pointed this out when dealing 902 with the amendment on proportional representation moved when this Committee last sat—would produce not a monopoly of a single party or a monopoly of three parties but a proper representation of educational interests, both of the profession and of the parents, who are, in the last resort, the proper judges.
We felt that an elected body of that kind, which would not be connected to local government in general and which would not be connected through party ties to any particular version of educational philosophy but which would look at the scene as it is and do its best for the education of the children, would be the best resort. After all, one has only to pick up any daily newspaper on almost any day of the week to read of some new example of a new bee in the ILEA bonnet. There was the prohibition against little boys in elementary schools playing in football competitions; the desire, perhaps to create a nation of cissies. This is only the latest of many such examples. There are more serious examples than this. There is a denigration of intellectual effort and achievement. I know many people teaching in inner London schools who feel that the weight of the authority is against what they are trying to do for the chidren in their care.
So what does the amendment do? It allows or makes mandatory after a period of years a review of the situation to see whether the hopes that we had in a new, directly-elected body have been justified or whether the new body is merely a carbon copy of the old. The ILEA is being put on probation, and probation is usually reckoned a proper method of dealing with an offender. If the ILEA succeeds in the next five years, the Secretary of State's review can be perfunctory and may consist entirely of laudatory comments on the authority's achievements. But if the ILEA has not justified a case for maintaining it, it will, alas, have to be looked at again very seriously.
I fear that there is here a clash of interests. There are boroughs which probably could make a better job than the ILEA does of the education of their own children, although there are obviously considerable problems in relation to higher and further education, and so on. But in relation to schools, that is probably the case. That was the case which was argued for the devolution of this power to individual boroughs. If that were done, it might be that the children in the remaining boroughs would be even worse off than they are at present. There is a difficult question here to resolve. It would be resolved far better if the new ILEA did its work properly; and all of us must hope that this experiment with a directly-elected authority will prove to be something better than the ILEA's performance over the past few years.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
I rise to support this amendment very strongly. It may be of interest to the Committee to recognise, first, that this is the creation of an ad hoc local education authority, the first in England. I started my career serving an ad hoc local education authority in Scotland. While I was still serving that authority, the ad hoc authority was abolished and Scotland was brought into line with England—always an unfortunate thing to happen. That is why I have spent my life coming to England—to try to get England's education service up to the standard that is to be found in Scotland. But that 903 change brought the education committee under the county authority, and two things happened. First, the quality of the personnel dropped very badly; and, secondly, education became less important than party politics.
If I shared the views of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, I would support the amendment. As he said, an ad hoc local education authority has the prospect of people being elected because of their concern and interest in education rather than their commitment to party politics. All experience in Scotland until 1929 confirms that that is the most likely thing to happen. If that happens and at the end of five years there is a review—which I think should be optional; the Secretary of State can see whether he thinks it necessary—why on earth is there provision thereafter to dismember the authority, to cut off a leg this year and an arm next year, and to take away primary or secondary schools? This makes administration impossible. The doctrine of the Department of Education and Science traditionally is the seamless garment of education. That is what would be destroyed.
I very much hope that this experiment will succeed. I believe that it will succeed if your Lordships' House and the Government show confidence in the experiment, in the belief that an ad hoc local education authority offers a new prospect to the education service. For myself, I hope it might be an example that will be followed throughout the country, because I believe that ad hoc local education authorities will provide a better service than under the present arrangements. Therefore, I support the amendment in that faith and I very much hope that the Committee will accept it. Otherwise, the Government are virtually saying to the country, "We made a decision, but we have so little faith in our decision that we are making provision to change our minds, not only if we are satisfied to leave the system there but also to take it apart piece by piece because we have no faith in our decision."
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
I think it is worthwhile looking at the reason why a unitary system of education in inner London has persisted ever since 1870. If one has an education authority that is very small, it is not able to make a variety of provision either, as my noble friend Baroness Serota suggested, for handicapped children or for the very varying demands not only of children but also of adults who use the education service for unusual pieces of knowledge—for the study of languages which only a few people want to study. If the education authority is too small, it cannot make that degree of variety of provision, but if the education authority is too large, it might be difficult for its members to know the whole area for which they are supposed, collectively, to be responsible.
The particular position of London was that one could have a large population in an easily manageable area. One had a population which now means, I believe, about 300,000 schoolchildren, about a quarter of a million doing further education and another quarter of a million adults pursuing evening education. Making provision on that scale enables the 904 authority to provide variety in every sphere. At the same time, because of the geography and population of London all this can be done in an area through which one can travel by public transport in half an hour. That is to say, it is a manageable area from the authority's point of view.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ These facts, or something like them, have always been so and that is why, in the first instance, the London School Board was set up as a single authority for that area, why that responsibility was tansferred to the education committee of the London County Council and why, finally, when the London Government Act was passed some 20 years ago the unitary system was preserved. However, it was not preserved without argument. The first draft of the London Government Act 1963 provided for exactly what this clause seems to have in mind—the cutting up of the education system among the 12 boroughs.
§ The Government had to face not only the Opposition in Parliament but a real outburst of opinion from parents, the public and the teaching profession. The meetings held in schools to protest against the dismemberment of the London education service were packed to the doors and it was not surprising that the Government changed their minds and preserved the unitary system by creating ILEA. Therefore, the decision that there ought to be a unitary system is not something that has arisen casually. It has arisen for solid education reasons and has persisted through all kinds of political storms.
§ It is noteworthy that in this clause the purpose of review seems to be that it might enable the Secretary of State, or give him colour, to introduce directives which would cut off pieces of the education system. As I and other speakers have said, all the evidence of the past is against that.
§ I am very glad that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, spoke because it provides us with what we have been lacking for some little while—something approaching a reason for the harrassing of ILEA by a series of reviews which could go on year after year. As I understand the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, he welcomed the idea of a directly-elected authority because he felt that it would produce an authority whose philosophy would be more agreeable to him than the present philosophy of ILEA. That may be so, but I trust that we do not approach local government by saying, "I am going to arrange the authorities on the map, their size and their powers with a view to them producing my political philosophy" or, to put it more crudely, "people who accept my party's views on politics."
§ This is what we have to face. After all, who in the end ought to be the judges of what should be the philosophy and the practice of an education authority, or any other local authority? Surely it should be the citizens who pay the authority's rates and who vote for its members, and the parents of the children. They will be able to express their opinion on the working of ILEA in the ordinary process of election. To hear the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, one would have thought that ILEA could go its own way with whatever philosophy it chose to adopt without the public having any power over the matter.905
§ However, before a review by the Secretary of State would come along under this Bill—unless, of course, the Secretary of State hurried the review forward to a point where it really would not be much use—there would have been an election for ILEA. If the parents—and they, after all, are entitled to a good deal of opinion on this—are dissatisfied with the way ILEA is doing its work, they can get rid of those members of ILEA and put in others who are more to their liking. That is how local government is meant to work, not with central Government stretching out a hand and gazing down a telescope at local authorities continually to see how they are getting on with their work. Let those judgments be made by the people who ought to make them; in this case, the citizens and the parents.
§ We must notice not only these reviews but also the matters to which the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London referred, the other burdens that are being imposed on ILEA: the ratecapping, the control of manpower, and the power not only to have one review but to go on doing so, apparently, as often as the Secretary of State pleases. Why should London alone of all local authorities be treated in this way? It can be justified only if London could be arraigned, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, wanted to arraign it, as an offender. That is to say, he says let us start the debate on the assumption that ILEA is not doing its work properly. All I can say is that the citizens of London do not think that.
§ The fact that someone can dig out a paragraph from a newspaper criticising the way that ILEA does its work is of no value at all. Long before ILEA, when there was the LCC, there were always paragraphs, particularly in the London evening papers, suggesting that the authority was not doing its work properly; but they persistently failed to persuade the people of London of that view. There is really no reason why we should accept such a criticism now. We have here a clause for which there is no real justification, for which there is no parallel, which could do great harm to ILEA and which we should do well to remove from the Bill.
§ Lord Alport
Although my name is not with this amendment, it is with subsequent amendments along the same lines, and so perhaps I may have an opportunity for a few moments to occupy the Committee's time to speak in support of the amendment proposed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. In the last Session when we were discussing, I think it was, the paving Bill, I tried to express my concern that the arrangements being made for the future of education in London should not in any way affect adversely the efficient administration, and consequently the educational welfare, of the capital's 300,000 children. My noble friend the Leader of the House on that occasion did his best to meet the representations along those lines which were made by members of this House of all parties, and we were extremely grateful to him. I should like to say, if I may, to my noble friend the Minister that I very much hope that he will show the same flexibility in his approach to this subject as his noble leader did on that occasion. This is not a matter of party politics in any way but it is something which closely concerns not only the 906 welfare of children but the interests of parents throughout the capital city.
This afternoon I return to the same theme. As I explained on the previous occasion, I do so on the basis of such knowledge as I have of a school which in some ways encapsulates the major social and educational problems of education in inner London—ethnic, social and environmental problems. I shall not repeat my previous arguments except to emphasise to your Lordships the importance, as has been stated by previous speakers, to the whole body of teachers in London schools, governors, and of course pupils and parents, of administrative stability and continuity, particularly at this present time when improvements in the standards of education within the area are urgently required and are not only planned but being put into operation.
It is difficult not to assume, as other speakers have done, from the wording of the clause that its object is to afford the Secretary of State an opportunity in five years' time or less to abolish ILEA and revert to the previous intention to divide its responsibilities among the boroughs. As the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, said, that is contrary to the opinions given by experts over perhaps 50, 60 or 70 years.
I must say that I was greatly disturbed by the contribution made by my noble friend Lord Beloff. This is not a matter of the philosophy of education. That is not the issue before us at the present moment. He talked about the best for the education of the children—provided, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, said, it is along the lines which he and others who think like him approve. I felt that that surely had an underlying taste, so to speak, of totalitarianism. It would be the Government of the day—not the elected representatives of ILEA, not the parents, not anyone except the Secretary of State representing the party political views of the Government of the day. I would remind some of my noble friends on this side of the Chamber, if I may do so without being too controversial, that the Government of the day before the end of this century or the middle of the next century may not by any means be the sort of Government of which they would approve. To establish situations which could be exploited by our successors, making precedents which will come back to our disadvantage at a future time, is one of the less wise things for any politicial party or any Government to do.
Most of us are gardeners. There is always a temptation to dig up a plant to see how it is growing. I am not a very good gardener and I do not know much about it; but I know very well that when I get impatient with a plant and dig it up it is never as good subsequently as I had hoped that it would be. ILEA, without the support of the GLC infrastructure, will be to all intents and purposes something new, having to equip itself with the many important services for which it at present relies on the existing central authority. If things are going all right administratively, leaving aside the question of educational philosophy, why dig it up? Why have an inquiry with all the expense and wasted effort which that would entail? But if things are not going all right, the Secretary of State has the power under this amendment—indeed, I think 907 that he has the power in any case—to hold an inquiry at any time that he thinks necessary.
I cannot understand why the Bill seeks to make an inquiry mandatory before the end of five years unless the widespread suspicion that the Government intend at the earliest date possible to abolish ILEA is true. If it is untrue, and I hope to goodness that it is, surely there is no reason why my noble friend and the Government should not accept the amendment and set the suspicions which are generally felt at rest both in the interests of the Government and in the interests of education in London during the years ahead.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
The noble Baroness, Lady Serota, speaks from a wealth of experience. Certainly none of the interests that she has declared in any way affect the value of her opinion. I also take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham—the elective point. But I would oppose this amendment not for all the reasons given by my noble friend Lord Beloff but because in the main the boroughs could make a better job of it. That, I appreciate, is a matter of opinion, and that surely is the crucial matter at the heart of our decision. It is perfectly legitimate to hold one opinion or the other without indulging in any form of rancour in expressing it. It is for that reason that I would urge your Lordships to oppose this amendment.
I find myself in some difficulty because the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London moved Amendment No. 101 and spoke to Amendments Nos. 105 and 106, and I find it difficult to deal with the ILEA group of amendments without dealing with them as a whole, and so in a sense this takes in Amendment No. 107, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock spoke, and runs up to Amendment No. 109. With the leave of your Lordships, it is on that basis that I seek briefly to address the Committee.
I totally take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Serota. This is not assuredly a wrecking amendment. It does not strike at the heart of the Bill. The position of ILEA does not affect anything else in the Bill and falls to be resolved on its own merits. It is, as one might put it, a one-off situation.
However, the concept of the Bill is to devolve power to the boroughs and to leave them to make the decisions. If, after five years, very substantial changes are required, such as abolition, which was mentioned just now by my noble friend Lord Alport, if that were to happen, that would have to be a matter for primary legislation. One cannot set education, or indeed anything, in a mould—
§ Baroness David
Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to say this. I think that is not so, under the Bill as it stands at the moment.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, as I see it, whatever should be the interpretation of the Bill, as a matter of construction as it stands—and I do not approach this on the basis that I fear the government of another party; I am saying this on the basis of any government—no 908 government could abolish the ILEA without introducing primary legislation.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
Will the noble Lord give way? If it be as he says, then what is the point of including the words in the clause which refer to all the functions being capable of being devolved to the boroughs? What is left? A body without any functions. It may be that technically it would still exist but I cannot conceive what it would do.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
Perhaps I may assist the right reverend Prelate. With deference to him, as I see it, much depends on what is involved in the words, "transferred or divided" which appear in Clause 21. If that involves a very substantial change, such as abolition, I cannot conceive that that could be introduced other than by primary legislation. If it does not, then the transfer or division would fall within the ambit of the Bill and could be—and indeed would be—dealt with by the mandatory duty of the Secretary of State under Clause 21.
This amendment seeks to remove the power of the Secretary of State to make an affirmative order under Clause 21 and substitute for that mandatory duty this permissive power. I take the point mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady David, that to some degree transfer or division may import an ambiguity. However, I should have thought that in any circumstances where abolition were to be even contemplated, one would have to resort to primary legislation.
As the Bill stands, it is, broadly speaking, effective, subject to the qualification which I have conceded. If the boroughs within the ambit of devolved power cannot agree, then the mandatory reserve power ought to be implemented. It is wholly necessary, within the scope of the Bill as at present conceived, to have the mandatory review by the Secretary of State.
An affirmative order through the usual channels can always be effectively debated and one returns to the crucial point, which is a matter of opinion and a matter of judgment. Will the job be better done by the boroughs or by the centralised institution? Although I defer to experience of noble Lords who take a contrary view, I always feel that the smaller unit, especially in education, is preferable. For that reason, I shall oppose the amendment.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
I think that this is the first time on the Committee stage that I have presumed to come in on anything to do with London. I have come in on matters concerning the metropolitan counties because I have had some experience of them and I am entitled to express a view on them. However, the reason I now come in on this matter is because I think there is a parliamentary consideration which has been raised.
The right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, made the point that what is now in the Bill is unnecessary because the powers are already there; there are already the powers, so there is no need for this. Then they went on to find all kinds of good reasons for saying that things as they now stand are likely to be better. They paid great tribute to the standard and the quality of the things that are now emerging. Those were the two arguments.
909 In relation to the first point, if they are saying that the power is already there and then they go on to say how wonderful it is as it now stands, are they suggesting that it will be detrimental to good educational facilities in the future because the power will already be there, quite apart from this clause in the Bill? It is suggested by the noble Lord on the Cross-Benches that the general quality of the teachers and the general organisation will be affected if there is a fear that the position might be changed. That is what I gather the noble Lord said. He said that some certainty has to be given that things will continue, otherwise the uncertainty means that the teachers are less likely to concentrate on doing the right thing or to continue doing what they want. If there is any substance at all in that point, the very existence of the powers, which it has been admitted are already there, makes it rather surprising that they can use both arguments.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
May I interrupt the noble Lord? With respect, I do not think that at any point in my speech I said what the noble Lord is suggesting that I said. What I said was this. The policy of the Department of Education and Science has consistently been a seamless garment. In other words, education from infants to further education should be administered as one. I made no reference to the teachers.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
Thank you very much. I should not at all want to misrepresent the noble Lord. It may well be that his explanation of his first words will satisfy many members of the Committee. If I may say so, it does not altogether satisfy me because I received the impression that the whole point of his contribution was that one is more likely to obtain better results if there is certainty, if the knowledge that they are stabilised and firm, is there.
§ Lord Alexander of Potterhill
No, I think one is more likely to obtain results if there is an ad hoc educational authority; in other words, people elected for education and not for other purposes of local government.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
Yes, I accept that and I am rather inclined to agree with it. That is why I adhere to what is in the Bill. What the Bill is saying is that although we have had a general look at all other facets of government, we have preserved for the time being the ILEA, which would seem to be what the noble Lord wants.
However, then the Government have to say this because it is true. No one can say for a moment that ILEA has been free from controversy. I do not think that any member of the Committee would be prepared to say that everybody likely to be affected by it are happy about the way ILEA has operated in the past. The general indications we receive from speeches and from general moods that are made public are that there is some doubt in the minds of many as to whether we will be right in the future. Therefore, as I see it, what this Bill is doing is this, and this is why, in parliamentary terms, I accept it rather than the amendment. The Bill is saying that we are setting up ILEA again, despite the present controversy over other areas of local government, but there are certain 910 doubts, based upon various well-based experiences. My noble friend Lord Beloff was quite right to outline all kinds of matters which have caused considerable disquiet in many people's minds. If that kind of situation is repeated, there may well be a strong push to have the matter looked at.
Where the Bill as it stands has a great deal of strength is this. The people who from now on will be responsible for framing and organising the education for London will know that they will have to pass a certain test. They will have to pass the test five years from now or before that as to whether they have taken a route likely to create greater support for it than the route they have often taken in the past. I believe the very uncertainty which noble Lords are complaining about may well be the thing that would make [LEA much better than it would be if it had the near certainty that it is not likely to be put under the microscope. That is a pragmatic and very sensible way of looking at it, and it was brought out clearly by my noble friend Lord Alport, who gave us a graphic description.
I should not have thought that anyone needed to be told that if you dig up a plant and keep on digging it up to have a look at it, you will kill it; anybody knows that. When you look at a plant in your garden you do not look at it with the idea of digging it up but to see if it has greenfly and whether you can put on some spray that will remove the greenfly and allow the plant to be so much stronger and better as a consequence.
If I may say so, nor was I very disturbed at the threat of my noble friend as to what a future government might do. If, as he said, we leave the Bill as it is, there is a great risk as a consequence that other governments may do all sorts of things we do not like. I do not believe it needs this Bill or any other to take away from me fears of what other governments may do. Whether or not we have this Bill, other governments, with all the mandates that they can have, will do what they want, irrespective of this Bill. That is what elections are all about. If any government knew that they had not to pass the test of being examined every five years or less, the things they do may often be more horrible than they are now.
Although I am not an expert on how it affects London on day-to-day educational matters, from the point of view of parliamentary procedure and the general effect on the nation, and looking at it from a common-sense point of view, I think that the Bill as it stands is more likely to produce the sort of ILEA we would like than if it were left with the sort of freedoms which so often have been abused in the past. For that reason I can see that the fear—and there is a fear—of being found out may be one of the things which will cause the Government to do things which would not make them worry about being found out. I once saw on a calendar the words: "One of the advantages of speaking the truth is that you do not have to remember what you have said". I have always remembered that. In this instance, one of the advantages of knowing you might be looked at is as good a reason as I know for making it more certain that you will try to do what is right.
The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, brought up the point that my noble friend Lord Beloff wanted to preserve the Bill as it was because the ILEA as it is 911 and as it may be did not fit into his political considerations. On that matter, one ought to be fair. Maybe some of us can say that the reason the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, likes the Bill as it is now in regard to ILEA is that the political things which flow from it fit in with what he considers to be right. This is as strong on one side as on the other, but the fact that it might be examined under mandate is more likely to make it not do things which would make you bother, whatever your politics, that there would be anything very damaging arising from the examination which this Bill insists be taken within the five years.
§ 4.15 p.m.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
I should like to say a few words in support of the amendment. I shall be extremely brief, as I speak as a total layman. It seems to me to be unnecessary to make the first review a duty rather than an option and to provide for further reviews when the Inner London Education Authority has been the subject of several external reviews in the last few years, as well as having set up three independent reviews of its own position. The uncertainty created by the possibility of breakup or transfer in functions cannot make long-term planning easy, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London said so eloquently when moving the amendment.
I am concerned as to what will be the future for the child with special educational needs, something which the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, has already mentioned. We should now be moving towards a system of integrated education. The Education Act 1981 made this possible but not probable in that it allowed, but in no way compelled or even encouraged, local education authorities to educate children with special educational needs in ordinary schools. In any case, the change would be gradual. Always there will be a need for a mixture of provision of special schools, special units within ordinary schools, special classes alongside ordinary classes into and out of which children move, and classes in ordinary schools which children with special educational needs will attend full time.
This last year has been critically important in relation to the thinking of the ILEA on special education. The Fish Committee has been extremely receptive to forward thinking ideas, and it is no exaggeration to say that no other education authority is currently reviewing special education in its area to this degree. The next few years will be very important. If real progress is to be made towards integrated education and if children with special educational needs are to be given the opportunity of developing to their maximum potential, this will not come about in an atmosphere of unease and instability. This is why I support this amendment.
§ Baroness David
There is no doubt about where the weight of the argument has been in the debate on this amendment so ably moved by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who really said everything that needed to be said about it. I think that perhaps one could disregard the rather extraordinary outburst of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. If I may say so, I think the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, 912 was extremely ill-informed, which is not usually the case. For one thing, the noble Lord said it was a matter of opinion or judgment that the boroughs could take on the educational commitment. He did not appear to know that there have been a great many reviews—
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
I am very much obliged to the noble Baroness, Lady David, for giving way. With respect, I did not say that; and if I did say it, I did not mean to say it. I do not think I said it. We can see tomorrow what I did say. I shall not take up time now. The point was which could do it better—whether it could be done better under the amendment as proposed or under the Bill, "it" being education. That is what I was saying.
§ Baroness David
We shall be able to look tomorrow. I disagree very much with the noble Lord's reading of the Bill about primary legislation needing to be brought to Parliament before the ILEA can really be abolished or broken up entirely. I understand I have the support of the right reverend Prelate on that. We shall be interested to hear what the Government have to say in reply.
All we were asking for in the groups of amendments to Clause 21 is that the Inner London Education Authority should be treated in exactly the same way as any other local education authority. It should not have to be subject to this constant review. It is impossible for officers, with all their new responsibilities, the new set up without the back up of the Greater London Council, to go about their task if they are having to look over their shoulders the whole time and think about what the effect will be of what they are doing, and thinking the Secretary of State is looking at them the whole time. We are not going all that far in this amendment. We are asking that the review should be permissive, not mandatory. That seems to me to be not a great deal to ask.
I hope very much that in this case the Government can show some flexibility and perhaps agree with this amendment, which does not do any harm at all to the Bill and could do a great deal of good to the education service in London. I hope that all noble Lords in this Committee will be thinking today of the 291,000 children who are being educated in over 1,000 schools in the Inner London Education Authority. What we are doing today may have an effect on the way their education is provided in the next five years. I would ask very simply for the Government to be flexible and to think primarily of that education service and how best it can be provided with the least upset and interference in the next five years.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Arts (The Earl of Gowrie)
I would certainly hope to echo the noble Baroness Lady David in expressing concern for the 291,000 children in London, not least that none of them will suffer during the present teachers' dispute. I should also like to join with her in congratulating the right reverend Prelate on the way that he moved the amendment. I could not help but recognise—he will not in any way mind this—that he was using whole phrases from a recent article by the education officer for ILEA, Dr. William Stubbs. However, if a bishop may speak to a brief, so may a Minister. We are together on that.
913 I have listened with great interest to a very vivid and interesting, if perhaps a little complex, debate. I have tried to unravel for my own mind, and I hope for the benefit of the Committee, the main strands of the debate. It seems to me that three main strands have emerged. First, it has been argued that Clause 21 should include only a permissive power and not a statutory requirement to conduct a review of the new ILEA. That was the point made by the noble Baroness just now.
Why do the Government wish for a statutory review? The short answer is common prudence. The clause requires this new, indeed novel, structure for the administration of education in inner London to be examined critically after a reasonable period of time—after five years. A similar provision for a mandatory review was included when the existing ILEA was established by the London Government Act in 1963. The provision was never used because it was repealed in 1967. Our view is that, had the review taken place, we might have been spared much controversy in the past few years over the right structure for education in inner London. The White Paper made clear that the Government consider that a unitary education service administered by a single authority offers at present the best prospect of meeting the educational needs of inner London and of improving the standards and cost effectiveness of the service. Here, the Government stand four square with what the right reverend Prelate said. We stand by that judgment. We stand by it in expecting what is reasonable for us to expect—that the new authority should vindicate our judgment and our confidence. But the new ILEA will be responsible for very substantial sums of ratepayers' money. And the Government have an obligation to monitor its use of this money.
A sensible new ILEA which lives up to reasonable expectations that it should concern itself wholly with educational matters has nothing to fear from a statutory review. But the provision for a statutory review recognises the very widespread unease that has been felt about ILEA in recent years. This was the nub of the point made by my noble friend Lord HarmarNicholls. A statutory review also recognises the Government's duty to see that the new authority fulfils its functions within its means, as my noble friend Lord Beloff argued most eloquently. If it does so, both the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth) can be confident that there will be no need for any anxiety or insecurity over the watching brief which this clause provides. I would say to the noble Baroness, Lady Scrota, that the whole point, as I, perhaps imperfectly, remember it, of the story of the Sword of Damocles is that, as a result of the sword, Damocles became a more sensible and realistic fellow than he looked like becoming. It seems to me simply not good enough to argue, as my noble friend Lord Alport argued in response to my noble friend Lord Beloff, that the latter was trying to impose his or my politics on ILEA. That misses the point of the argument of my noble friend Lord Beloff when he showed that he believed, as I do, that ILEA should only very tenuously be a political body at all.
The second strand of the debate has questioned whether, even if there is a need for an initial review, there should really be provision for a second or 914 subsequent reviews. That provision is intended to equip the Government to deal expeditiously with the need that may arise over time to make adjustments to the new structure which, after all, as many speakers have recognised, is an untried one. But the suggestion that the Government could use this power to influence ILEA's day-to-day running of education in London is surely absurd. Overall structures cannot be used effectively to respond to short term issues. The clause requires that a review should be carried out, a report on it then laid before Parliament and the approval of both Houses obtained before any reallocation of functions could be effected. This is not a tool that would allow the review provisions to be deployed to influence the ILEA in petty ways.
Another strand of the debate, it seems to me, has been real concern that it would not be appropriate for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to reallocate the new ILEA's functions by order, albeit subject to affirmative resolution. The 1963 Act contained a similar provision: as well as to review the existing ILEA, as I have said, to reallocate its functions if that was judged necessary in the light of the review and to reallocate them by secondary legislation. So there is certainly nothing odd in the idea that transfers of functions between public bodies may be made by secondary legislation, though I appreciate the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, that this is inevitably controversial. I can perhaps therefore remind the noble Lord and the Committee of the significant safeguards built into the clause before any such secondary education can take effect.
First of all, a review must be undertaken. Secondly, the review must be capable of standing up to public and parliamentary scrutiny because a report of it must be laid before Parliament, which effectively makes the report a public document. Thirdly, any order proposing a reallocation of functions in the light of the review must be debated and approved in this House and in another place. I know that, by custom, such a debate lasts one-and-a-half hours but it would always be possible to arrange for a longer debate through the usual channels if the issue warranted it. I am sure that such an order would be subjected to careful scrutiny here and in another place and a longer debate would, in fact, occur. Anything to do with education in general or with the ILEA in particular is very seldom, it seems to me, passed over in a hurry on some wet Friday afternoon with or without, in the right reverend Prelate's words, serious public debate. The idea of serious public debate not taking place, as indeed it is taking place on this issue this very afternoon, is surely inconceivable.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ If secondary legislation were not available, any adjustments to the new structure would have to be made by means of fresh primary legislation, and that procedure would not make the fate of the new ILEA any less certain if, on scrutiny, it were found to be wanting in any major respect. It would, however—and I believe that this is the point that meets some of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham—add what could be a damaging delay between verdict and sentence. That would be a recipe 915 for the very uncertainty and demoralisation which we are keen to avoid.
In response to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, as to whether the authority could be dissolved and elections cancelled by this order, the answer is an unequivocal, yes. Like the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, I hope that this experiment will succeed, but if it does not succeed, the powers are there. If the ILEA were completely broken up and the inner boroughs became education authorities, elections to the ILEA would be cancelled. There would be no point in holding elections to a non-existent body. However, the ILEA's powers would then pass to individual boroughs, which are of course themselves directly elected. Therefore, education in inner London would continue to be run by directly elected authorities.
Perhaps I may clear up some of the difficulties raised by the argument between my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway and the noble Baroness, Lady David. If only some boroughs were removed from the ILEA area, the remaining core would remain directly elected. The excluded boroughs would then become directly elected education authorities in their own right.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
Before the noble Earl leaves that point, he gave an unequivocal "Yes" to my question whether the authority could be abolished and the election suspended if all its powers were removed. However, that is not what I understood the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, to say. May we have clarification from the Government Front Bench that that is the case? Is it the case that if all the functions of the ILEA, which is elected in May 1990—because that will be the second round of elections—were removed, elections, could then be suspended by order?
The Earl of Gowrie
The noble Lord asked me for clarification and I have just this minute given it; so I rest on the clarification that I have given. I believe that it is right and that it is common sense to provide for an initial statutory review of this untried procedure, structure and body. In my view it is also right and common sense to provide for subsequent reviews of the new ILEA, if they are judged necessary. In the light of a review, I do not find it in any way odd to provide for a reallocation of functions to be implemented by order, and I have cited the precedents for this. I do not think that the amendments are necessary. I think that they are alarmist, and I urge the Committee to reject them if they are pressed to a Division.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
I am very grateful to the noble Earl for what he has just said. However, I must confess that I remain wholly unconvinced. I should like to make two points. First, I can appreciate, particularly in view of the additional burden and duties which will be laid upon the ILEA, that some sort of review should take place. However, that is provided for in the amendment. We are not denying the need for a review; we are not denying that it should take place. We are leaving it to the Secretary of State.
The noble Earl has asked us to interpret the Bill as it stands in a reasonable and intelligent way, and that 916 is always a very good thing to do. Therefore, I ask him to assume that in future his Secretaries of State will also interpret the Bill, if amended as by us, in an intelligent and reasonable way. Of course, if the Secretary of State thinks that there is a need for review of the way in which it is working, he will take advantage of our subsection and will call for a review. We cannot have it both ways. Either we stick precisely to the wording of the Bill and its literal interpretation, or we do not. We cannot have interpretation in a reasonable and intelligent way on one side and not on the other. Whatever else one says about the Bill, if it does not contain the possibility of the ILEA being abolished after a period, then why is there included the phrase:those functions or any of them should be transferred"?One does not use the phrase "any of them" unless by the first phrase one means "all of them". That seems to me to be quite clear. I do not think that I should ask leave to withdraw this amendment, and I must leave it to the judgment of the Committee.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 101) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 142; Not-Contents, 133.918
|DIVISION NO. 1
|Alexander of Potterhill, L.
|Fisher of Rednal, B.
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.
|Graham of Edmonton, L.
|Hatch of Lusby, L.
|Henderson of Brompton, L.
|Boston of Faversham, L.
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.
|Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
|Bruce of Donington, L.
|Irving of Dartford, L.
|Burton of Coventry, B.
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
|Jenkins of Putney, L.
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.
|Darling of Hillsborough, L.
|David, B. [Teller]
|Davies of Leek, L.
|Dean of Beswick, L.
|Delacourt-Smith of Alteryn, B.
|Lee of Asheridge, B.
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
|Lloyd of Hampstead, L.
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.
|London, Bp. [Teller.]
|Ross of Marnock, L.
|Russell of Liverpool, L.
|McGregor of Durris, L.
|Morris of Kenwood, L.
|Stewart of Fulham, L.
|Murray of Epping Forest, L.
|Stoddart of Swindon, L.
|Taylor of Blackburn, L.
|Taylor of Mansfield, L.
|Pitt of Hampstead, L.
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
|Wallace of Coslany, L.
|Wilson of Langside, L.
|Ritchie of Dundee, L.
|Wootton of Abinger, B.
|Robson of Kiddington, B.
|Airey of Abingdon, B.
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.
|Home of the Hirsel, L.
|Hunt of Tanworth, L.
|Brabazon of Tara, L.
|Kaberry of Adel, L.
|Campbell of Alloway, L.
|Campbell of Croy, L.
|Colville of Culross, V.
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.
|Cork and Orrery, E.
|McAlpine of West Green, L.
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
|Macleod of Borve, B.
|De Freyne, L.
|Denham, L. [Teller.]
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
|Eden of Winton, L.
|Elliot of Harwood, B.
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.
|Nugent of Guildford, L.
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
|Gardner of Parkes, B.
|Peyton of Yeovil, L.
|Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
|Gray of Contin, L.
|Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
|Swinton, E. [Teller.]
|St. Davids, V.
|Vaux of Harrowden, L.
|Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
|Ward of Witley, V.
|Young of Graffham, L.
|Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
§ Resolved in the affirmative and amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Lord Skelmersdale
This might be an appropriate moment to resume the House to take the two Statements. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.