HL Deb 08 July 1988 vol 499 cc522-86

11.30 a.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science (Baroness Hooper)

My Lords, I beg to move that further proceedings after Third Reading be now resumed.

Moved, That further proceedings after Third Reading be resumed—(Baroness Hooper.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 118 [Functions of local education authorities with respect to higher and further education]:

[Amendment No. 75 not moved.]

Lord Carter moved Amendment No. 76: Page 120, line 36, at end insert — ("( ) In section 4 of the 1981 Act (general duty of local education authority towards children of whom they are responsible) there shall be inserted in subsection (2) after (a) the words "he is receiving further education at an establishment maintained by them, or under arrangements made by them". ( ) In section 20 of the 1981 Act, (interpretation) there shall be omitted from subsection (I) the words "and is registered as a pupil at the school".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I should point out that on Report the Government put down an amendment which went a good deal of the way to meeting the considerable concern that had been expressed, particularly by the National Bureau for Handicapped Students, regarding the problems of disabled students in further education. However, the government amendment did not deal properly, or at all, with the anomaly that a young person with a statement of special educational need under the 1981 Act who remains at school until the age of 19 continues to be covered by that statement, whereas if the same young person were to transfer from school into further education there is no provision under the 1981 Act for the statement of special educational need to be retained and thereby protect the appropriate provisions contained in the statement.

The amendment we are considering corrects the anomaly by giving a young disabled person in further education the same rights and protection as a young disabled person of the same age who remains at school. The anomaly in the statementing procedure has not been rectified in the Bill. The situation was summed up extremely well in the Third Report of the Education, Science and Arts Committee of another place for the 1986–1987 Session, which stated: The Committee received some evidence about post-sixteen concerns and considers it necessary to comment on one anomaly that has resulted from excluding further education from the 1981 Act. When a young person is a subject of a statement at the end of the compulsory school period that statement continues in force up to the age of 18+, as long as he or she remains in school. However, if the individual attends a college of further education the provisions of the statement are no longer applicable. Although many local education authorities support further education arrangements for young people who have been receiving special education, the individual's rights embodied in the statement lapse. It is the Committee's view that there should be equal conditions applying to all educational provision for young people with special educational needs between the ages of 16 and 18+".

The amendment standing in my name and that of the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, writes the recommendation of the Education, Science and Arts Committee into the Bill. On Report in this House the Minister referred to the anomaly. She stated that the Government did not wish: to reduce location discretion in this field."—[Official Report, 28.6.88; col. 1325.] That statement is not only puzzling but also, it seems to me, wrong.

As I understand it, LEAs do not have the discretion to continue the statementing provisions of the 1981 Act into further education, even if they wished to do so. When the Minister replies, and if she intends to refer to this point again, she should tell the House under what statutory provision or regulation an LEA can extend statementing to a disabled student in further education. If she cannot do so, she will have to find another reason for rejecting this amendment.

The essential issue is one of educational rights, to put it quite simply. Young people in further education should receive the protection of a statement as if they were still at school. One reason why statementing is necessary is the additional cost of financing support services for students with special educational needs in further education. They are inevitably relatively more expensive than for non-disabled students and the protection of a statement will require that those services are provided.

The absence of a right to a statement for special educational provision in further education may deter some students from seeking to continue their education. The chance of a statement of the provision required in further education would bring immense benefits to such students. I beg to move.

Lady Kinloss

My Lords, I wish to support the noble Lord in this amendment. As he has explained very much better than I could, there is an anomaly here which the amendment seeks to rectify. I hope that the Government will feel able to put it right by accepting this amendment.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, I also wish to support the amendment. The older children get, the more concerned parents become and sometimes the young people become more difficult to handle. All kinds of problems emerge related to puberty and sex. Sometimes the children, who are no longer children but young people, become strong and parents worry very much about what will happen when education ceases altogether. Perhaps this is a time when they need more support than ever before.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, has made his case that students with special educational needs at colleges of further education should be brought within the assessment and statementing provisions of the 1981 Act until the age of 19. I am advised that more detailed changes would be needed to give this intention effect, but I should perhaps now concentrate on the issue of substance.

Local education authorities have extended provision for students with special educational needs to a marked degree since the 1981 Act, operating without a detailed statutory framework and under discretionary powers. The Government have taken a number of steps to foster these developments and will continue to do so. The question, therefore, is whether there would be sufficient additional benefit to be gained from a formal extension of the 1981 Act's statementing procedures and whether such a move is warranted now.

Extension of the statementing procedures would certainly oblige local education authorities to incur additional burdens. After careful consideration we decided that LEAs' general duty to have regard to special needs is quite clear and is now underlined by the amendment the Government introduced on Report in response to the case made at earlier stages by, among others, the proposers of this amendment. Therefore, I ask that this amendment be withdrawn.

Lord Carter

My Lords, it is clear, as I suspected, that the real reason why the Government do not wish to accept the amendment is again one of resources. That draws attention to the priorities of this Government. However, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 77 not moved.]

Clause 122 [Powers of a higher education corporation]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 78: Page 125, line 8, at end insert ("and facilities to meet the needs of disabled students").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, on Report my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor agreed to reconsider an amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), for the higher education corporations to have regard to meeting the needs of disabled students. Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 are our response. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

My Lords, I welcome these amendments most warmly. However, I have three questions for the Minister. First, will "facilities" be interpreted pretty loosely, because it is not just a question of physical access, as we discussed at a previous stage of the Bill, but appropriate support services geared to meeting individual needs.

Secondly, will the definition of "disabled students" be interpreted loosely? That is very important because the 1948 National Assistance Act refers to persons who are blind, deaf and dumb and other persons who are substantially and permanently handicapped. Will students with specific learning difficulties--for example students with dyslexia—be covered and those with minor mobility problems who also may need some help?

Thirdly, will the DES circular explain that facilities should be interpreted in a broad fashion, and that it is particularly necessary to adopt a more flexible approach to entry qualifications in the case of disabled students? Too often it is assumed that they may not be able to cope and too much reliance is placed on medical opinion. I think that if those points could be included in the circular it would be helpful. But above all I wish to thank the Minister and also the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for having reconsidered this question and come forward with this most welcome amendment.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I shall endeavour to respond to the specific questions which the noble Baroness has asked. The first of those was the matter of the definition of disabled students. We believe that it would not be right to use an educational definition since that is couched in terms of special educational needs which would not necessarily apply to higher education. The general definition in the National Assistance Act fits best. That is one that we shall rely on. The definition takes account of all physical and mental disabilities. We would not expect institutions to apply it in a narrow and legalistic sense.

The circular or any guidance which the department will issue in the matter will certainly advise flexibility. However, it is ultimately for the institutions to decide on qualifications for entry, as well as on other details.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 79: Page 125, line 34, at end insert— ("(4) In subsection (2)(b) above "disabled student" means a student who is a person to whom section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948 applies.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 128 [Transfer of property, etc., to certain designated institutions]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 80: Page 130, line 27, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (6A) below,").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 80 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 81 and 82. The amendments tidy up the provisions relating to the transfer of trust property. They are technical. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendments Nos. 81 and 82: Page 130, line 31, leave out from beginning to ("and") and insert ("such trust deed relating to or regulating that institution (if any) as may be so specified or, if no such trust deed is so specified, on trust for the purposes of the institutions;"). Page 130, line 34, at end insert— ("(6A) Subsection (6)(a) above shall not apply in relation to any land or other property or rights which immediately before the designation date in relation to the institution concerned were vested in the former assisting authority as trustees for any particular purposes or (as the case may be) for the general purposes of the institution.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 81 and 82 en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

11.45 a.m.

Clause 129 [Universities Funding Council]:

The Earl of Perth moved Amendment No. 83: Page 131, line 16, at end insert— ("(5A) The Council shall appoint a sub-committee to advise on its functions in relation to universities in Scotland.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I rise to move the amendment standing in my name and that of the noble Lords, Lord Grimond and Lord Morton of Shuna. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, cannot be present for reasons which many noble Lords will understand. The noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, is not present. Noble Lords will know of the problems facing people from Scotland in making arrangements and then having them changed.

At Committee stage, we put down an amendment asking for two university funding councils. We suggested that there should be one for Scotland and one for England and Wales. As noble Lords, will know, the educational systems, from a university point of view and as a whole, are very different. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said at that time: I am the first to accept that there are differences between universities in Scotland and those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland".—[Official Report, 28/6/88; col. 1369.] All the same, that amendment was not accepted.

We had a fall-back position in a second amendment which suggested that there should be a single Universities Funding Council but that it should accept a sub-committee which would act on its own behalf in Scotland. That provided a degree of devolution of power. The Lord Chancellor said, when he responded to that amendment: The reason that the Government consider it inappropriate to put a reference to Scotland on the face of the Bill is that if it is to do the job properly it must define 'Scottish sub-committee' in detail, with its functions, and so on".—[Official Report, 28/6/88: col. 1389.]

It is understandable that the noble and learned Lord should have responded in that way to the second amendment. However, I do not think that that should apply to this third attempt to get Scotland on the record, if I may put it that way. We are asking for a sub-committee of the Universities Funding Council to help advise that council on Scottish university questions. The amendment is very mild. I hope that the fundamental difference between the two systems may be recognised in that way.

I shall not repeat the arguments on the fundamental differences. I believe that it is sufficient to point out that whereas English universities have three-year courses, Scottish universities have four-year courses. Noble Lords will realise what flows from that difference and the problems that must be taken into account. Perhaps I may return to a moment in history. Two or three years ago there was great debate as to whether Scottish universities should opt to go under the Scottish Office and be divorced from the English system or whether they should, as universities, continue under the University Grants Committee.

In the end, the Vice-Chancellor's Committee for Scotland decided by a considerable majority to remain under the University Grants Committee umbrella. I am sure that that was the right decision. However, it was made on the ground that there would be a sub-committee for Scotland on what was then the University Grants Committee.

The University Grants Committee is now to be the Universities Funding Council. The universities of Scotland very much want such a sub-committee on that council. I hope that the Government will be able to accept the amendment. It is so mild that it may perhaps be said that it is hardly worthwhile or that the Universities Funding Council will do it in any case. However, there is a matter of substance involved. There is a fundamental difference and the universities want such a sub-committee. I beg to move.

Lord Peston

My Lords, perhaps a non-Scot may intervene briefly in this matter. We support the amendment very strongly. I was one of those who felt that the earlier amendment was doubtful. I believe strongly in a single funding council for universities. I felt that the Scots were probably slightly mistaken in wanting their own funding council. However, this amendment is another matter, and it is one that is entirely correct. Scottish universities come within the ambit of the Bill and the Croham Committee recommended that there should be a Scottish subcommittee. That committee should be taken as the definitive body when it comes to a subject of this kind.

Bearing in mind the distinctive nature of Scottish education, I believe that this is a wholly appropriate moment to recognise that in the formation of a subcommittee. We hope that the Government will be able to respond favourably on this occasion.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords I support the amendment. It in no way conflicts with any principle in the Bill. It is reasonable and modestly presented, albeit anodyne in the eyes of some. It represents a Scottish interest which is real. I hope that the Government will recognise that it is real and accept the amendment.

Lord Flowers

My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Peston had not spoken first I should have said exactly what he said. I support the amendment. I would only add one further point; namely, that the University Grants Committee itself is very sensibly trying to arrange regional groupings of universities, for obvious purposes. It is a very trivial extension of that to accede to the request in the amendment.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I believe that I am right in thinking that similar amendments, whether for an advisory or executive committee, have been discussed at every stage during the Bill's passage both through this House and another place. I regret therefore that there is little that I can add to what has already been said by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor.

However, to recap, it has never been in doubt that the Government will look to the UFC, using the power conferred on it in paragraph 9 of what is now Schedule 8, to set up a Scottish committee—and the UGC has already paved the way for this by establishing its own sub-committee for Scotland. We shall also be looking to the council to set up committees for Wales, Northern Ireland and for medical education. And we have said that in order to ensure that the various interested parties can be properly heard, we shall look to the PCFC to establish a joint consultative committee with the local authorities, and a committee to represent the voluntary college interests. But the Government continue to believe that it would be wrong to require all these committees to be set up, or to single out the Scottish committee, in legislation whose overall nature is facilitative, not prescriptive.

I repeat: the Bill sets out a framework for the responsibilities and operations of the UFC and PCFC. It provides for them to allocate resources, but does not prescribe how they should do this. It empowers them to advise the Secretary of State but does not specify the nature or extent of that advice. It empowers them to employ staff, without saying how many. It empowers them to appoint committees "for any purpose", but does not specify which committees. The Bill therefore accurately reflects the proper relationship between the Secretary of State and the councils; a relationship which has been advocated by many in this House.

Moreover, as was made clear when we discussed a similar amendment at Report, it would be of no help to anyone to set in legislative concrete the kind of detail that would be required on, for example, composition and terms of reference if the Bill were to make provisions for a particular committee.

For those reasons, and on the basis that it is commonly accepted that the UFC will have a Scottish committee, I invite the noble Earl to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Perth

My Lords, I should like to thank all noble Lords who have supported the amendment. I am extremely unhappy with the reply. I am sorry to say that that is no answer at all. I went over the points that were made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor with some care and why this amendment is quite different from what was proposed in the earlier stages. I believe that we must somehow show that we Scots feel very strongly about this question, but I know that some of us cannot be here today.

I am not asking for anything which needs definition at this stage. All I am asking is that it should be recognised in the way that I have outlined that Scotland has a quite different university and education system from England, Wales or Northern Ireland. If the noble Baroness cannot think again I am afraid that I shall divide the House.

11.54 a.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 83) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 61; Not-Contents, 47.

Airedale, L. Lawrence, L.
Ardwick, L. Leatherland, L.
Attlee, E. McNair, L. [Teller.]
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Masham of Ilton, B.
Banks, L. Molloy, L.
Blackstone, B. Morris, L.
Blyth, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Mulley, L.
Bruce of Do nington, L. Northfield, L.
Buckmaster, V. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Perry of Walton, L.
Carter, L. Perth, E. [Teller.]
Cledwyn of Pcnrhos, L. Peston. L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Porritt, L.
Dormand of Easington. L. Russell, E.
Falkland, V. Sainsbury, L.
Flowers, L. Seear, B.
Galpern, L. Scrota, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Halsbury, E. Sheffield, L.
Hampton, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hanworth, V. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Swann, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Tordoff, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L. Underhill, L.
John-Mackie, L. White, B.
Kilbracken, L. Williams of Elvel. L.
Kinloss, Ly. Winstanlcy, L.
Kinnaird, L.
Ampthill, L Butterworth, L.
Arran, E. Caithness, E.
Beaverbrook, L. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Beloff, L. Carnock, L.
Belstead, L. Coleraine, L.
Bessborough, E. Cornwallis, L.
Blatch, B. Davidson, V. [Teller.]
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Brabazon of Tara, L. Dundee, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Eccles, V.
Broxbourne, L. Effingham, E.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Gainford, L.
Glenarthur, L. Munster, E.
Granville of Eye, L. Portland, D.
Greenway, L. St. Davids, V.
Headfort. M. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Hesketh, L. Shannon, E.
Hooper. B. Sharples, B.
Lauderdale, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Long, V. Strathclyde, L.
Lucas of Chilworth. L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Marley, L. Trumpington, B.
Merrivale, L. Vaux of Harrowdcn, L.
Mersey, V.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

12.1 p.m.

Clause 133 [Inspection of accounts]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 84: Page 136, line 8, at end insert— ("(2) In the case of any higher education corporation or of any such institution as is mentioned in subsection (1) (a) or (c) above—

  1. (a) the power conferred by subsection (1) above; and
  2. (b) the powers under sections 6 and 8 of the National Audit Act 1983 (examinations into the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of certain bodies and access to documents and information) conferred on the Comptroller and Auditor General by virtue of section 6(3)(c) of that Act:
shall be exercisable only in, or in relation to accounts or other documents which relate to, any financial year in which expenditure is incurred by the corporation, or by the governing body of the institution in question, in respect of which payments are made to them under section 129 or 130 of this Act.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment fulfils an undertaking made at Report stage by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor that the Government would seek to make clear that the Comptroller and Auditor General's statutory right of access to the accounts of higher education institutions extends only to those institutions in receipt of funds from the new higher education funding councils. I beg to move.

Lord Peston

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for the amendment and perhaps I may ask just one question of her. It may be a subtle point on right of access, but as regards one or two of the institutions to which the amendment is relevant and which receive public money, will some appropriate body still be able to discover that the public money is being used correctly, validly or whatever may be the word? In other words as regards the Oxford colleges, I believe that it is still the case that even though they are not directly funded they are in receipt of public money. I wonder whether the noble Baroness can tell me anything about that or in due course write to me about it.

Baroness Hooper

Yes, my Lords, I think that this matter does not exactly come within the scope of the amendment. I shall certainly write to the noble Lord to give any further explanations that may be necessary to allay his anxieties. All that the Government are now doing is to place access by the Comptroller and Auditor General to the universities and funded institutions on a proper statutory footing. Nothing else changes. So far as concerns other supervision and follow-up procedures, they remain unchanged.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Seear moved Amendment No. 85: After Clause 163, insert the following new clause:

("Responsibility for central services.

.—(1) The Secretary of State may by an order or orders made at any time before the abolition date designate, in relation to any local education authority specified in the order, any ILEA central service or unit which it is to be that authority's duty to maintain and develop, subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified.

(2) In exercising his powers under subsection (1) above, the Secretary of State may make an order or orders with respect to—

  1. (a) the ILEA Research and Statistics service;
  2. (b) the ILEA Child Guidance service;
  3. (c) the ILEA Careers service; and
  4. (d) any other specialist service which, in his opinion, would be better maintained by a single authority.

(3) In any case where an order is made under subsection (1) above, the functions which, immediately before the abolition date, were exercisable by ILEA with respect to the service designated in the order shall be exercised by each Inner London council by virtue of the following provisions of this Part only to an extent that is consistent with terms and conditions as may be specified in the order.")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is an amendment which is in no conceivable sense a party political one. It deals with some of the very important central services which ILEA has run and which, if they are allowed to run down, will cause the greatest possible harm to education and the children of London schools. One cannot run a proper education service without a proper research and statistical service. It has been one of ILEA's triumphs that it has developed what has been widely recognised as an extremely good research and statistical section. If that were to disappear, it would be a great loss and sooner or later the work would have to be built up again at considerable cost and waste.

As regards the child guidance service, there can be no doubt that in these troubled times if we want to help young people to avoid getting into difficulties, becoming problems to themselves and proving costly both to themselves and to the community, the child guidance service, which is well established and whose work is so well regarded in London, must be preserved.

As for the careers service, need I say that without a careers service the hope that we have of directing and encouraging youngsters into the training and jobs that we want them to have will be seriously reduced? I can say from personal experience that the development of the youth training scheme has been very largely dependent on the help and encouragement that it has received from the careers service. With no careers service, that scheme would be working far less well than it is at the present time. We need to maintain that service.

There are other specialist services which no doubt the authority would wish to support. That is why we have inserted subsection (2)(d); the residential boarding schools—the special schools—are very much a case in point. I hope that on this occasion the noble Baroness can accept this amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I should like very briefly to support this amendment. It provides a fall-back position for the Secretary of State to intervene in three very important areas in which I think there is broad agreement on the need for London-wide provision.

I should like to say in particular just two or three words about the research and statistics branch of the ILEA for which I had some responsibility when I was deputy education officer there. I very strongly believe that it would be a great loss not just to inner London but to the country as a whole if that service were broken up and could not continue its work. It has taken the lead for many years in undertaking very high quality research, the findings of which have been used by central government as well as local government, by the universities, college principals, head teachers and many other groups in the educational world.

I think that it would perhaps be helpful if the Minister could give some indication as to what is likely to happen to it as well as to the other two important services itemised in this amendment, which I support.

Earl Russell

My Lords, I believe that nothing in this Bill has caused deeper disagreement than the proposition that it is possible to take apart the services of ILEA and devolve them upon the individual boroughs. It seems to me to be rather like a proposal to disband the Government and devolve their powers upon separate ministries. It is possible that we are wrong about that; if we are wrong this amendment will make no difference but should it be by any chance possible that we are right, this amendment might enable the Secretary of State to clear up the mess. In that context I say to the Government, I pray you in the bowels of the Lord to think it possible that you may be mistaken.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, we have endeavoured to make clear previously that the Government do not intend to tell boroughs how to run an education service. It is for the boroughs themselves to determine and state in their development plans how they intend to provide a full and varied service in their areas, with of course help and guidance which would be readily at hand from the inner London unit in the department. In saying that, we fully accept that there will be aspects of the service which will need to be dealt with on the basis of co-operation between boroughs. As I explained at Report stage, we are already discussing many of these special areas with ILEA and the boroughs and we have had a series of meetings. Indeed, there was a meeting yesterday chaired by ILEA which discussed how best to take forward a number of issues that will need joint consideration.

The amendment highlights three particular aspects to which the noble Baroness and others have referred. Two of these are the child guidance and careers service. They were discussed also last week at Report stage. I can only say that progress is being made in these areas for co-operation on a London-wide basis. We are also aware of the high regard in which the research and statistics is held. While much of the work is what might be required of all local education authorities, there is also a significant national and even international dimension to its work, which we recognise. Consequently this research and statistics service is very much to the forefront of the agenda for joint discussions between ourselves, ILEA and the boroughs.

With the assurance that steps are being taken to consider the future of various specialist services, and the three which are the subject of this amendment in particular, I trust that the noble Baroness will feel reassured and able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Baroness trusts in vain. I am not in the least reassured. It needs only one or two boroughs not to co-operate and some of these services—research, for one—will be wrecked. If one or two boroughs do not pay or pay inadequately, then the research findings will be of very little value. I am sure that most noble Lords opposite understand that. I shall not waste the time of the House. I shall divide straight away.

12.12 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 85) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 44; Not-Contents, 61.

Ardwick, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Attlee, E. John-Mackie, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley. E. Lawrence, L.
Banks, L. Leatherland, L.
Blackstone, B. [Teller.] McNair, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Molloy, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Mulley, L.
Carver, L. Northfield, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Peston, L.
Dainton, L. Ponsonby of Shulhrede, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Russell, E.
Dormand of Easington, L. Sainsbury, L.
Falkland, V. Seear, B. [Teller.]
Fitt, L. Serota, B.
Flowers, L. Sherfield, L.
Galpern, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Swann, L.
Greenhill of Harrow, L. Tordoff, L.
Hanworth, V. Underhill, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. White, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Williams of Elvel. L.
Ampthill, L. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Arran, E. Dundee, E.
Auckland, L. Eccles, V.
Bcaverbrook, L. Effingham, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gainford, L.
Beloff, L. Glenarthur, L.
Belstead, L. Halsbury, E.
Bessborough, E. Headfort, M.
Blatch, B. Hesketh, L.
Blyth, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Borthwick, L. Hooper, B.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Ironside, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lauderdale, E.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Long, V.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Broxhourne, L.
Marley, L. Bruce-Gardyne, L.
Merrivale, L. Butterworth, L.
Caithness, E. Mersey, V.
Morris, L. Cameron of Lochbroom, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Munster, E. Carnock, L.
Oxfuird, V. Coleraine, L.
Perth, E. Cornwallis, L.
Porritt, L. Cullen of Ashbourne. L.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Portland, D.
Rippon of Elexham, L. Swinfen, L.
St. Davids, V. Teviot, L.
Shannon, E. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Sharpies, B. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Skelmersdale, L. Wise, L.
Strathclyde, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12.19 p.m.

Clause 167 [Approval of management structure and senior appointments in initial period]:

[Amendment No. 86 not moved.]

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 87: Page 164, line 19, at end insert ("provided that no such determination shall be made on the basis of, or take account of, the political views or activities of any such person").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I said most of what I had to say on this subject yesterday when we were discussing the amendments of my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham. I should simply like to repeat my comment. Of course I accept the concept of not being a fit person for employment. I simply hope that the Government do not mis-identify the idea of not being a fit person with not agreeing with the Government. Someone could hold valid views which were different from those held by the Government but still be a fit person from the point of view of this amendment. That is the point of the amendment. I beg to move.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

My Lords, it is an important amendment in the light of the present Government's tendency to prefer people of the same point of view in positions of authority. It is not good for government and it is quite inappropriate in professional posts of the kind we are considering. We were not really reassured by the Minister at Report stage. Unless we are reassured I can think of many people I have worked with who would probably get nowhere with an application to an inner London council, assuming that they were ever moved to apply. Indeed whole authorities could be tarred with the same brush on account of a general political background.

I repeat that we need reassurance and this amendment would provide it.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, may I remind your Lordships that, in the days when I was Minister, the LCC would not accept a candidate to be director of education in London unless he was a member of the Labour Party?

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, in spite of the persuasiveness of the noble Lord, Lord Peston, and the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin—made doubly so by their brevity—I am afraid that it is still hard for us to see how this amendment is necessary. Clause 167(8) empowers the Secretary of State to prohibit a person from holding a particular appointment only where he is of the opinion that the candidate is not a fit person to hold a particular appointment. If any person believes that the Secretary of State has acted unreasonably in prohibiting an appointment, the noble Lords in whose name this amendment stands will be well aware that there is normal scope for redress under administrative law, including judicial review. If it were demonstrated that the Secretary of State had taken a decision on the basis of criteria which were irrelevant to the performance of the job in question, or had in any other way acted unfairly, the procedures I have referred to would ensure that the direction concerned could not be sustained. But I can give a categorical assurance to the House that my right honourable friend would operate any prohibition under equitable arrangements which were demonstrably fair to the individual concerned and were clearly seen to be in accordance with the criteria we have set out in the guidance on development plans.

I hope that it will be helpful to your Lordships if I state for the record that the political views or activities of a person are not a consideration that my right honourable friend would take into account, although the way in which the candidate had discharged previous responsibilities plainly would be a matter of legitimate concern. I hope therefore that the noble Lord will withdraw this amendment.

Lord Peston

My Lords, before commenting on the amendment, I should tell the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, that I was very taken aback by what he said. I respect his view, but as I know one or two of the education officers he had in mind I find it astonishing to believe that they were members of the Labour Party. I find it rather hard to believe that they were even supporters of the Labour Party, but the noble Viscount may know more about them than I know. However, I was taken aback by what he said.

I was for once genuinely reassured by the Minister on the amendment and I look forward to seeing that all these appointments take place on a simple professional basis. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 190 [Charities]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 88: Page 181, line 24, leave out ("before that date").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 88 on behalf of my noble friend, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 89 to 94. These technical amendments introduce greater flexibility into the provisions allowing the Charity Commissioners to reconstitute charities of which ILEA is the trustee or appoints the trustees. They allow the Charity Commissioners two years from abolition to make use of the powers conferred by the clause, and also extend the range of persons who may be appointed as trustees. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agree to.

The Earl of Arran moved Amendments Nos. 89 to 94: Page 181, line 32, leave out ("before that date"). Page 181, line 38, leave out ("before that date"). Page 181, line 44, leave out ("or"). Page 181, line 45, after ("councils") insert ("; or (c) such other persons;"). Page 181, line 46, leave out ("before that date"). Page 181, line 46, at end insert— ("(6A) If in any case an appointment is not made by the Charity Commissioners for the purposes of any of subsections (3) to (6) above before the abolition date, the London Residuary Body shall be treated as having been so appointed pending the making of such an appointment by those Commissioners; but an appointment made by those Commissioners after the abolition date must be made before the end of the period of two years beginning with that date.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 191 [Information and access to documents]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 95: Page 182, line 24, at end insert ("or, if that is not reasonably practicable, as soon as reasonably practicable after the expiry of that month.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, at a previous stage the noble Baroness, Lady David and her noble friend Lady Blackstone, tabled a number of amendments designed to modify in a number of respects the requirements on ILEA and its officers to provide information to the Secretary of State, the inner London boroughs and the London Residuary Body. I said then that the Government were prepared to consider introducing amendments to meet two of the points about which they were concerned, and these amendments fulfil that undertaking.

Amendment No. 95 introduces flexibility into the basic deadline of one month for the provision of information by ILEA, while Amendment No. 96 removes the specific penalties attaching to non-compliance with requests for information by or on behalf of the LRB. I hope that noble Lords opposite will feel that these amendments are a positive response by the Government to the spirit of co-operation which has, I am happy to say, been shown by ILEA over the past weeks. I commend them to the House. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for this amendment. The introduction of flexibility and the removal of criminal charges will be a great help. I know that most Members and officers of ILEA will be grateful.

However I am a little disappointed that the very important issue of confidentiality which I raised at Report stage has not been addressed. ILEA holds medical files and pupil files which are held on a confidential basis. Indeed much of the information that has been provided for those files was given on the express understanding that there was to be strict confidentiality. Without a further amendment it would be possible for successor bodies to requisition such information without any protection under the clause. I believe that would be most unfortunate. Similarly, legally privileged material can be required even by boroughs which might be in the course of litigation with ILEA—though that is perhaps unlikely—but one needs to bear in mind such possibilities. That would be in breach of all the normal judicial procedures.

I wonder whether there is not still scope at the final stage of this legislation to consider again those two remaining problems. I am grateful for the amendment.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, as I understand it, the general rules of data protection which affect confidentiality of documents apply to these cases as well. But we shall be considering this in general.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 96: Page 182, line 31, leave out subsection (5).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 197 [Loan liabilities excepted from transfer under Part II]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 97: Page 186, line 14, leave out ("(4)") and insert ("(4)(a)").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend I beg to move this drafting amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 202 [Powers of Commissioners]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 98: Page 191, line 30, leave out ("subsection (2) above") and insert ("this section").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I also speak to Amendments Nos. 99 and 101. These are purely drafting amendments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 99: Page 192, line I. leave out ("subsection (2) above") and insert ("this section").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

12.30 p.m.

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 100: Page 192, line 21, at end insert ("; or (d) he is appointed or reappointed for purposes certified by the University Grants Committee or Universities Funding Council to be part of a programme of restructuring.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, when the noble Baroness the Minister at Second Reading compared the debates on this Bill to the London Marathon, I believe she spoke truly even if a little prematurely. However, I am happy to say that, in spite of the concern expressed last night about your Lordships' age, we seem to be finishing the course in rather better shape than did Pheidippides.

At this stage of a Bill we should be reaching compromises and bargains and narrowing down the area of debate, even if not of disagreement. In that spirit I have at this stage confined myself to the one amendment among my crop which I believe comes closest to fitting within the lines of government policy. At Report the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor was kind enough to say about it that he could certainly see possible advantages.

Restructuring is happening to academic departments because of the loss of staff caused by financial stringency. When half a department is left in one place and half in another, neither is viable on its own, they cannot teach students in any event and therefore there is a loss of student places. However, if one can move the two halves and bring them together in one place, one can create a perfectly good, viable department, as has happened in many cases.

It will be familiar to noble Lords with experience in industry that the problem of relocation is not confined to the academic world. It involves the rights and careers of spouses, the schooling of children and the problem of housing. To ask people in the course of relocation to accept a major worsening in their terms of contract only adds to a problem, which is already difficult enough.

In no sense is this an attempt to reopen the issue of tenure. I fought that issue; I lost it. Nothing more can be done about that now. This is simply an attempt at a tidying-up operation in the new situation in which I hope that some measure of trust between the Government and universities can be built up again, as other noble Lords have said. Were the amendment to be accepted I believe that it would become a great deal easier for us to work together to achieve what we both want—which is to keep student places open—and to achieve it in the most economic way possible. I beg to move.

Lord Peston

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl. I go further than him because I am strongly in favour of restructuring and I always have been. I believe that the higher education system is greatly in need of rationalisation, which would raise its efficiency. It would be a great pity if other aspects of the Bill which will pass into law were to act as a disincentive to restructuring. The staff concerned must be persuaded as to restructuring and that it would be advantageous. However, it would be a pity if questions of tenure got in the way. I believe that the Government might have thought of the amendment tabled by the noble Earl and myself because it would ease the way towards the ends that they have in mind. I am pleased to support the amendment.

Baroness Blackstone

My Lords, I should also like to speak in support of the amendment. I am involved in the management of staff in universities and at the moment I have just such a case to deal with. We have been requested by the UGC to close a department and have agreed to do so. However, the staff concerned are most worried about moving and are expressing an unwillingness to do so merely because they will lose tenure. The agreement to this fairly minor amendment would be of enormous help to those responsible for rationalisation in the university system.

Lord Flowers

My Lords, I should like to add a few words of support for the amendment. It may appear strange to your Lordships that all noble Lords who have spoken so far are from the University of London. It is not really so strange because at London we have carried out more restructuring than anywhere else has.

The House should be aware of the fact that because tenure is about to disappear, thanks to the Bill, people are already declining promotion. That is too bad for them and nothing can be done about it. However, they will also refuse to move because of loss of tenure. That is bad for the university which is trying to restructure. Therefore if the amendment were passed it would help all universities, especially my own, to carry out the restructuring process which the Government wish for. It is already difficult enough; not to have the amendment will make it more difficult.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I should first like to say that I believe that the risks of subsequent redundancy for people who transfer as a result of restructuring programmes will be very small. I appreciate the special knowledge of those noble Lords who have contributed to the discussion today. However, restructuring usually takes place in relatively strong departments and lecturers imported into those departments will see it as a mark of confidence in them. Moreover, not all restructurings will necessarily happen as a result of an initiative by the funding council, so how shall we decide whether any given situation should benefit from the arrangement now proposed? There are other difficulties in determining the circumstances in which transferred academics should receive tenure in the way proposed by the amendment.

We have given much thought to the matter. We do not believe that the Government's proposals will deter people with confidence in their abilities from transferring between institutions in these circumstances. When it comes to the point I shall not be surprised if more academics decide to accept a move than has been suggested. The Government's general policy objectives have been known for several years and we now wish to achieve them at the earliest opportunity. The sooner we effectively remove the restrictions of tenure the sooner institutions will be able to respond to the changes in their needs and in those of the nation. With that explanation I hope that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Earl Russell

My Lords, it appears that essentially the disagreement between the noble Baroness and myself is about what the academic community thinks. With respect, I believe that that is an area where of the two I am more likely to be right. It does not matter whether academics will lose appointments after restructuring. In deciding whether to accept relocation, what matters is whether they think they are in danger of doing so. That they undoubtedly think. Even if they are moving into a department which is at present strong, they are in the light of past government financial policy consistently of the opinion that often a department which is safe this year is unlikely to be safe next year.

I appreciate that the Government are in a hurry to get rid of tenure. However, it will do them no good if many people who now have tenure under the Bill keep it and remain in a position where they are no use to anyone. I do not believe that that is a sensible way to achieve co-operation.

I am now in something of a quandary. At the Report stage I said that the amendment could not work without government co-operation. That remains the case. Nevertheless, the reply that I have heard has done nothing to convince me of what the noble Baroness said on a memorable occasion in Committee; it was that they are a "listening government". I should like the Government to listen a little longer. Therefore I shall press the amendment to a Division. However, if in another place and having thought about the matter the Government are not persuaded and chose to reverse the amendment because they are worried, I would not press the matter further.

There is only one way to attract attention if one finds that one is not being listened to in a debate. It is to set off a bell which is designed to attract the attention of those who are not listening. I beg to move.

12.40 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 100) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 43; Not-Contents, 56.

Airedale, L. John-Mackie, L.
Ardwick, L. Lawrence, L.
Attlee, E. McNair, L. [Teller.]
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Molloy:, L.
Banks, L. Mulley, L.
Blackstone, B. Northfield. L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Peston, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Carter, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede. L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Porritt, L.
Dainton, L. Rea. L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Russell, E. [Teller.]
Fitt, L. Sainsbury, L.
Flowers, L. Seear. B.
Galpern, L. Scrota. B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Shannon. E.
Halsbury, E. Shertield. L.
Hanworth, V. Stewart of Fulham. L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Tordoff, L.
Headfort, M. Underhill. L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. White, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Arran, E. Davidson, V. [Teller.]
Auckland, L. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Beaverbrook, L. Dundee, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Eccles, V.
Beloff, L. Effingham, E.
Belstead, L. Gainford, L.
Bessborough. E. Glenarthur, L.
Blatch, B. Hesketh, L.
Blyth, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Borthwick, L. Hooper, B.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Ironside, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Lauderdale. E.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Long, V.
Caithness, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Marley, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Merrivale, L.
Carnock, L. Mersey, V.
Coleraine, L. Morris, L.
Cornwallis, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Cox, B.
Craigavon, V. Munster, E.
Oxfuird, V. Swinfen, L.
Rankeillour, L. Teviot, L.
Renton, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Rippon of Hexham, L. Thorneycroft, L.
St. Davids, V. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Skelmersdale, L. Wise, L.
Strathclyde, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12.48 p.m.

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 101: Page 192, line 27 leave out ("and") and insert ("to").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 102: Page 195, line 22, leave out ("as a city technology college") and insert ("either as a city technology college or as a city college for the technology of the arts").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 212 [Unrecognised degrees]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 103: Page 197, line 40, at end insert— ("(4A) In any proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be a defence for the defendant to show—

  1. (a) that the award in question was granted or to be granted by virtue of authority conferred on or before 5th July 1988 by a foreign institution on the body granting the award; and
  2. (b) that the defendant took reasonable steps to inform the person to whom the award was granted or any member of the public or particular individual to whom the offer was addressed that the award was granted or was to be granted by virtue of authority conferred by a foreign institution.
(4B) For the purposes of subsection (4A) above, where—
  1. (a) on or before 5th July 1988 authority was conferred by a foreign institution on a body to grant awards of any description for a period expiring after that date; and
  2. (b) new authority is conferred by the institution (whether before or after the expiry of that period) on the body to grant awards of that description;
the new authority shall be taken to have been granted on or before that date.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 103 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 104. These are tidying-up amendments. Their purpose is to protect the position of UK-based institutions which award degrees under a licence from a body in another country, and which do not form part of or are not affiliated to an institution in another country. Under Clause 212(8)(a) such institutions are United Kingdom institutions and the award by them of a degree would constitute an offence under subsection (1).

Under this amendment such an institution will not be committing an offence if it can show that it has taken reasonable steps to inform the public that the award was granted by virtue of authority conferred by a body outside the UK prior to the date of tabling this amendment. The time-limit is to prevent bogus operators obtaining an overseas licence of possibly dubious value so as to continue to award degrees. I beg to move.

Lord Peston

My Lords, perhaps I may speak briefly to this amendment since the subject of bogus degrees has exercised my mind for a great many years. Curiously, the problem which this amendment addresses had not occurred to me but I can see that it is an extremely serious problem. I believe that the final remarks made by the noble Baroness cover what may be the difficulty; namely, that new degree mills could be set up based on foreign operations.

I take it that the department's legal advice has been that the amendment covers this problem. This is an amazing subject because when one stops one loophole, another immediately appears. However, it is vitally important that we stop the bogus degree business. I hope that this amendment will work and I hope that the noble Baroness can assure us that she is now convinced that, as far as we know, all the loopholes have been covered.

Baroness Hooper

Yes, my Lords. I reassure the noble Lord that on finding this difficulty we have endeavoured to stop it. We are aware of an institution which comes into this category and is therefore covered by the amendment. We have sought to prevent any other bogus institutions from taking advantage of the position.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 104: Page 198, line 17, after ("Kingdom") insert— ("(ab) a "foreign institution" means any institution other than a United Kingdom institution;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 105: After Clause 216, insert the following new clause:

("Appointment to school governing bodies.

.—(1) This section has effect for the purposes of appointments by a local education authority to the governing body of a county school under section 3 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, and (where more than one such appointment is to be made in respect of any such school) to the governing body of an aided or special agreement school under section 4 of that Act.

(2) In making any appointment to which subsection (1) refers, a local education authority shall have regard to the desirability of reflecting so far as practicable the relative representation of the political parties in its area in the overall balance of its appointments to any governing body.

(3) In subsection (2) above, the "relative representation" of political parties shall be determined for the purposes of this section by reference to the number of elected members of local authorities who represent constituencies falling within the area of the education authority and who are members of each political party.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Morton and myself arises from an earlier amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. Indeed, it was precisely the cases that they mentioned, and other cases mentioned in your Lordships' House, that prompted us to think that this matter was serious enough to draw to the attention of the House.

We are concentrating solely on the local authority governors in this respect. This is not to detract at all from our general notion that the governing bodies should be widely representative of the community, but the cases mentioned certainly shocked me enough to suggest that, first, we should spend a few minutes debating the matter, and, secondly, if at all possible amend the Bill to prevent a majority party deciding that only its supporters should have local authority places. If we can put something in the Bill to stop that, we should do so.

I did not make the point on Report, and it was not made by others, specifically as a party political point. I accepted that any party is capable of the kind of madness referred to. I felt so strongly about it that I did not think it should pass without being brought up again at this the final stage of our deliberations. I beg to move.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Peston and Lord Morton, for tabling this amendment. One does not need to go over all the ground again. There was a considerable amount of misunderstanding on Report. We are simply asking that the Government should say that there is a problem and that they are prepared to do something about it. If they do not give that undertaking it presupposes that they are applauding the activities of people in Barnet and elsewhere who get involved in these foolish activities.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, I understand the motives behind this proposal and sympathise with the amendment but I feel that the second paragraph in particular would give rise to a great deal of trouble. After all, political representation in local authorities, as elsewhere, changes from time to time—sometimes drastically.

If an authority has carefully, in compliance with subsection (2) of the amendment, arranged the governing body so that it is roughly in the same proportion as the political parties in the local authority, and if later there is a considerable change as a result of a local election, the governing body will be out of line again and the new authority will presumably be forced to make further changes, not on the merits of the governors concerned but in order to comply with the amendment.

I understand the motive but I do not think that the amendment is a good way of dealing with the matter.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I endeavoured to make clear on Report that we are sympathetic to the motives of those who have tabled this amendment. However, when the new school governing bodies are introduced this autumn as a result of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 no single interest group will have a majority. There will be between two and five LEA-appointed governors, depending on the size of the school; there will be exactly the same number of elected parent governors; there will be teacher governors; and the biggest single group will be co-opted governors representing the local community. Even if all the LEA appointees are of the same political persuasion—and I very much hope that that will not often happen, though I accept that examples have been given there—will no longer be scope for one particular party or faction to dominate a governing body. That was the whole point of the 1986 legislation.

I know that behind this amendment lie genuine fears about the activities of some LEAs. I can assure your Lordships that the Government will take every opportunity to encourage local authorities in making appointments, and governing bodies themselves in making co-options, to follow the principle that governing bodies should consist of people who have the best interests of their school very much at heart. But we do not believe that that can or should be dealt with in legislation. We certainly do not want to introduce political affiliation as a relevant consideration. I therefore call upon your Lordships to reject this amendment.

Lord Peston

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Obviously I am not happy with it. I am surprised that the Government seem to have a rather ad hoc way of deciding what they think is suitable for legislation and what is not. I should have thought this matter was particularly suitable for legislation.

I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that whatever we do would be imperfect. I accept that. However, he will be aware that if what is going on became more of a rule we would get precisely what he said would happen, not from this amendment but from the present position; namely, that the new local authority would get rid of all the governors it did not agree with, and the opposition would say that it would get its own back when in power. That is precisely what we do not want to happen.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, that is the problem and the noble Lord is probably right in suggesting that. However, if we put this into the Bill we would give the incoming authority a very good pretext for the kind of action he describes. Authorities would say that they were only doing it to comply with the statute.

Lord Peston

My Lords, I should hope that would not happen. On the whole the incoming authority—from my knowledge of local government—would rarely have a majority of all the votes cast, let alone 100 per cent., and feel obliged to reflect the political complex of the community.

However, I do not want to pursue the point. I have made the argument as best I can, as did the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, on the previous occasion. I think it is a problem that could get worse. The Government will need to consider it and in due course add it to my predicted pieces of legislation that we will see one day. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

1 p.m.

Clause 220 [Application of employment law during financial delegation]:

[Amendment Nos. 106 and 107 not moved.]

Lord Dormand of Easington moved Amendment No. 108: Page 205, line 8, after ("expedient") insert ("so as to extend the operation of any such enactment to persons who have to any extent the powers, duties and responsibilities of employers").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is identical to the amendment I moved on Report. The noble Earl. Lord Russell, and I have tabled it again because of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies we received from the Government.

Since this Bill was first published, employees in schools and colleges have expressed deep concern about the extent of the power the Bill gives to the Secretary of State for Education on employment matters and indeed on other matters, as has been referred to in debates this morning. All that school and college staffs have received so far are statements of intent rather than the reassurance of protection by law.

This amendment was drafted specifically to meet the criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, of an earlier amendment dealing with the same matter. At that time he said that it was likely to lead to disputes. This second amendment has itself been criticised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, who said that it places too precise a constraint on the power of the Secretary of State for Education.

In view of the nature of Clause 220, I find those words to be ominous. They have added to the concern of school and college staffs. I should have thought that it could hardly be possible to have too precise a constraint on such a fundamentally important issue as employment rights. If that really is the Government' s view, why have they seen fit to introduce no fewer than five employment Acts with so much detail on trade union activities and the rights and responsibilities of employees?

The main purpose of the amendment is to deal with the continuing uncertainty as to the Government' s intentions in the use of such wide powers. It will clarify exactly how that power will be used and, at least as important, it will establish a proper process. The Government must have been fully aware that the Bill creates a major problem in giving governing bodies powers in relation to employment without responsibility. To propose, as the Government say, that anomalies can he corrected by orders under Clause 220 is not only completely inadequate but calculated to cause even greater suspicion and doubt among staffs.

The onus is on the Government to say why an open-ended power is necessary. The failure to give that reason in clear and unequivocal terms is perhaps the most glaring omission we have had during the long debates on this Bill The astonishing and, as far as I am aware, unprecedented point about the power contained in Clause 220 is not that it enables changes to be made to this Act by order, but that it enables changes to be made to all other Acts concerning matters of employment. As I see it, that is the main issue.

No doubt the Minister will remind me that a requirement to consult has been added to the original clause. That must be welcomed, but we are entitled to ask, in view of the seriousness of the problem, whether it is just a sop. Whether or not that is so, the Government can he assured that the use of that provision will be one of the most carefully monitored parts of the Act in staff rooms the length and breadth of the land. I do not wish to repeat or enlarge upon the arguments that I used in previous speeches on this issue.

I make one final point. The principle of local financial management is widely supported in your Lordships' House. I speak only for myself. I have no great enthusiasm for it. The Government have created the problem as regards matters of employment by rushing to implement a policy which is fraught with great difficulties. I feel safe in saying that no local authority has handed over to a governing body the employment responsibilities for staffing a school or college for precisely the reasons that make Clause 220 necessary.

I fear that it is too late to persuade the Government to consider a more workable form of local financial management. However, they should be aware of the consequences of what they are proposing. Not only are they creating employment problems both locally and nationally, important though those matters are, but they are also undertaking to establish procedures which will affect the morale of teaching and non-teaching staffs and ultimately the quality of the education of our young people. I do not feel that these are fanciful notions. It is the reality of experience that some of us have had and seen over the years. It is more than sad that we should see it enshrined in a measure which the Government claim to be a major reform of our education system. In spite of my pessimism about their intentions, I hope that the Government may yet prove flexible enough to give further thought to such an important matter. I beg to move.

Earl Russell

My Lords, this is the third time of asking and it is also the first time that we have had an opportunity to debate this amendment during the hours of daylight. It arose before at a quarter past twelve at night and at twenty to eight in the morning. I am sorry, I must correct myself because the latter was during the hours of daylight. Nevertheless, I believe that we are entitled to take a few moments to debate the amendment at an ordinary time of day.

With the leave of the House perhaps I may read from the clause that we seek to amend which says: The Secretary of State may by order make such modifications in any enactment relating to employment as he considers necessary or expedient". At the Report stage the Minister said that it was a technical provision designed to enable necessary detailed changes in the law in the light of financial delegation.

It reminds me of the reply of the Duke of Wellington to the gentleman who walked up to him in Hyde Park and said, "Mr. Jones, I believe? "The Duke replied, "If you believe that, you believe anything" . I understand that, in the light of the problem as regards local financial management, there was a need for such a technical provision concerning who was the employer. However, it seems to me that that is not what the Government have done. They have not given us a technical provision; they have given us a steamroller. I know that there is now a process of consultation where there was none before. The Government' s experience of consultation with the education profession is not entirely a happy one. Though welcome, the reassurance is not sufficient. I accept what the noble Baroness said at the Report stage; namely, that there is no secret agenda or sinister purpose behind this clause. I believe that the Department of Education and Science has been working at such high speed that it has been unable to decide its open agenda let alone to have time to compose a secret one.

Although I accept the reassurance, the point is not whether I accept it but whether the teaching profession does so. This Bill is putting great burdens upon the teaching profession. As the noble Baroness said on Second Reading, the contribution of teachers to the success of the Bill will be crucial. We have a considerable shortage of teachers. In The Times Educational Supplement of 13th May, Jennie Bacon of the Department of Education and Science, said that the Secretary of State was not yet able to set up a working group to introduce attainment targets in foreign languages because of the shortage of teachers. She also said that there was "some mismatch" in the supply of physics and technology teachers. The National Association of Head Teachers said that it saw a need for another 3, 000 modern language and another 1, 000 science teachers to introduce the national curriculum.

These are circumstances of some importance to the Government so that the teaching profession appears attractive to entrants. The Government' s relations with the profession have not been entirely fortunate. I will not dwell on the point at this stage, but one of the matters which has very deeply dismayed me in the course of the debates on the Bill is that the Government appear to be entirely unaware how deeply they have lost the confidence of the education profession. Here the Government have an opportunity to take a first step towards the restoration of trust. If steps are taken on one side, steps will be taken on the other to meet them. I very much hope that, even at this late stage, the Government will think again.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, said that he had moved a similar amendment on Report. He was capped by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, who said that this was the third time that this amendment had been discussed. On the basis that they are right, and I am sure they are, I wish to enter a protest against the amendment being tabled on Third Reading. It seems to me to be quite contrary to the practice of the House and of the use of the facility of having amendments on Third Reading, to table again amendments which have been put down and discussed at earlier stages of the Bill. The Companion to the Standing Orders tells us very clearly the kind of amendment that is appropriate for Third Reading. It certainly makes quite clear that the repetition of amendments which have been discussed and dealt with earlier is quite wrong on Third Reading. It unduly prolongs the proceedings and begins to raise the issue as to whether the Procedure Committee should consider the whole question of whether amendments on Third Reading ought to be admitted.

Earl Russell

My Lords, perhaps I may respond to what the noble Lord has just said. If we could have established a dialogue at a slightly earlier stage of the Bill' s proceedings, we would have done so.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, I respond to the noble Earl with this. At the moment I am not concerned with his feelings or the merits of the matter; I am merely concerned with the fact that he appears to be abusing the procedure of the House.

Lord Peston

My Lords, perhaps I may just intervene for a moment. As a relatively new Member of this place I am learning about the procedures of the House and I am certainly aware of the point that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has made. However, I have noticed that your Lordships are also capable on matters of importance of showing a modicum of tolerance. I have also noticed that occasionally the noble Lord the Leader of the House has intervened to deal with matters in that way. I should have thought that this was one of those occasions—especially in view of the point made about our inability sometimes to discuss things when we are fresh—when we could at least show a degree of tolerance to colleagues who feel that this is an important matter. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will say a word in this respect.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, I too should like to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, whose ability and knowledge of procedure I respect so much, not only in this House but also from our previous incarnation. Perhaps I may say first that this is not the third time that this amendment has been put down; it is the second although I think that that is what the noble Lord was saying. The first amendment which was put down was completely different—I am referring to the words—although I make no secret of the fact that it was the intention to—

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

I accept that.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. My noble friend Lord Peston, and indeed the noble Earl, Lord Russell, have said that we felt the reply we were receiving was so unsatisfactory that something had to be done about it because it was such a major issue. I hope that there will be some tolerance, as my noble friend said, towards that.

However, the third thing I have to say to the noble Lord is this. He may know that I speak as the former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party for a considerable period, so in that sense I am a member of the establishment. I sought advice about whether it was the procedure or the tradition to put down an amendment in exactly the same words. I took great care with that. The information I received may not be correct and it appears from what the noble Lord has said that it was incorrect. However, I can assure him that I sought very wide advice before putting the amendment down. I think that had to be said.

1.15. p.m.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, we have taken many steps in the course of the Bill's passage to reassure teachers, and indeed have introduced amendments in response to various aspects of the Bill. Clause 220 is necessary to guarantee teachers' rights; for example, to place responsibility on governors to allow teachers time off for union duties, maternity leave and other rights which teachers need to be fully aware of.

I dispute the statement made by the noble Earl that this is the first time that this area of concern has been discussed in daylight, because only yesterday afternoon the clause was discussed most fully at four o' clock for, I think, some three-quarters of an hour—even though it was not in respect of this particular amendment.

However, when we discussed the matter on Report, I tried to emphasise that the clause as it stands does not give the Secretary of State a free hand to alter employment law in any way he wishes. As I explained then, the Secretary of State will have to demonstrate that it is reasonable to believe that a particular modification of the law is necessary or expedient as a result of financial delegation.

We accept that the amendment captures in the most general terms the purpose of the clause. We have made it clear that its essential purpose is to make sure that power and responsibility under financial delegation go hand in hand. The reason we cannot accept the noble Lord' s amendment is that it would place too precise a constraint on the operation of the clause when we cannot foresee at present every eventuality. Some of the modifications we might need to make to employment law in the light of experience with delegation might not fit the definition set out in the amendment. I can assure your Lordships that we have considered this clause very carefully. We see no way in which it could be narrowed without losing flexibility which we may genuinely need on technical grounds.

As I previously emphasised, the procedures for public knowledge of what is going on and for the normal remedies of judicial review are there. Indeed, the amendment which we introduced on Report and which the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, anticipated my mentioning required statutory consultation with specified bodies before any order was made. We believe that that will ensure that the process of making an order is always entirely public. In putting forward any draft order the Government will have to show that it represents a proper use of a restricted power, and precisely because that power is restricted they will need to give serious consideration to the responses of the consultation.

For those reasons, I must again ask the House to reject the amendment.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, I am sure that the Minister will expect me to say that I am not entirely satisfied with that reply. It seems to me that having what appears to some of us at least to be an open-ended ability to use employment laws is simply not satisfactory. In the context of what the noble Earl said—I think it is worth repeating, and I was going to say this any way—relationships between the teaching profession and the Government, certainly for the last two if not three years, have been at the lowest ebb for a long time. I should have thought that the talk in the staff rooms about what the Government are now proposing will do absolutely nothing to rebuild that confidence. So I hope that the Government will think more about it.

Perhaps I may say in conclusion that I have received information within the past 24 hours, which I hope is sound, that further discussions may or will take place. In view of the rather fuller answer which we have received from the Minister today, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 109 not moved.]

Clause 222 [Superannuation for staff of Further Education Unit]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 110: Page 205, line 38, leave out (" coming into force of this section") and insert (" passing of this Act").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is purely a technical amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 226 [Transfer of property to grant-aided institutions in Wales]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 111: Page 208, line 21, at end insert (" ; or (b) any liability of any such authority in respect of compensation for premature retirement of any person formerly employed by them. ")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 111 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 112, 113 and 120.

At Report stage the Government introduced amendments to make provision in England for the funding of premature retirement payments to staff at institutions transferring to the PCFC sector. The amendments which I am introducing now make parallel provision for Wales, if the Welsh Secretary of State exercises the reserve powers in Clause 226 to transfer Welsh higher education institutions to central government funding.

As in England, the liability for making payments will formally remain with the LEA. But LEAs would be compensated for the cost through revenue support grant payments. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendments Nos. 112 and 113: Page 208, line 32, leave out (" (5)") and insert (" (5)(a)"). Page 208, line 36, at end insert— (" (10) in this Act "transfer date" means, in relation to an institution designated under this section, the date on which the designation of that institution takes effect.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 228 [Stamp duty]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 114: Page 209, line 15, at end insert— (" section 190;")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 115. The amendments are consequential. They bring two more asset transfer provisions in the Bill within the scope of Clause 228. That exempts most transfers under the Bill from stamp duty. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 115: Page 209, line 20, after (" 93(6)") insert (" or (7)")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 116: After Clause 228, insert the following new clause:

(" Power to make incidental, consequential. transitional and supplementary provisions.

—(1) The Secretary of State may at any time by order make such provision amending, repealing or revoking (with or without savings) any provision of a local Act passed, or an instrument under a local Act made, before the passing of this Act as appears to him to be necessary or expedient in consequence of any of the provisions of this Act.

(2) The Secretary of State may at any time by order make such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision as appears to him to be necessary or expedient for the general purposes or any particular purposes of Part III of this Act or in consequence of any of its provisions or for giving full effect to it.

(3) An order under subsection (2) above may in particular make provision—

  1. (a) for enabling any authority or body by whom any powers will become exercisable on the abolition date by virtue of any provision made by or under Part III of this Act to take before that date any steps (such as the establishment of committees. the making of arrangements with other authorities or bodies with respect to the exercise of those powers or the undertaking of consultations) which are necessary or expedient in preparation for the exercise of those powers;
  2. (b) for enabling the Secretary of State to take before that date in relation to any such authority or body or in relation to anything done by that authority or body in accordance with any provision made by an order under that subsection any steps which are necessary or expedient for the purpose of the exercise by that authority or body of those powers;
  3. (c) for the making before that date of arrangements for securing the satisfactory operation from that date of any provision made by or under that Part and for defraying the cost of any such arrangements;
  4. (d) for amending, repealing or revoking (with or without savings) any provision of an Act passed, or an instrument under an Act made, before the abolition date, for applying any such provision (with or without modification) and for making savings or additional savings from the effect of any amendment or repeal made by this Act;
  5. (e) with respect to the membership of any body so far as consisting of persons elected by, or appointed by or on the nomination of ILEA, whether alone or together with one or more other bodies.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (d) of subsection (3) above, an order under subsection (2) above making any such provision as is mentioned in any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of subsection (3) above—

  1. (a) may apply in relation to any inner London council any enactment or instrument relating to the functions of local education authorities as if that council were such an authority; and
  2. (b) may apply in relation to any such council any enactment or instrument relating to the functions of local authorities as if that council had before the abolition date any functions 552 specified in the order, being functions which will on that date become exercisable by that council;
for such purposes and subject to such modifications (if any) as may be specified in the order.

(5) The amendments that may be made under subsection (3)(d) above—

  1. (a) shall be in addition and without prejudice to those made by any other provision of this Act; and
  2. (b) shall, in particular, include amendments in consequence of functions under provisions applying to the Inner London Education Area becoming exercisable in their respective areas by the inner London councils.

(6) In this section, expressions to which a meaning is given for the purposes of Part III of this Act have the same meaning as in that Part.

(7) No other provision of this Act shall be construed as prejudicing the generality of the powers conferred by this section. ").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords. I shall speak also to Amendment No. 123. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor explained on Report that when the Government withdrew Amendment No. 433K, we should be coming back at this stage with a less wide-ranging amendment.

The new clause has two purposes. First. subsection (1) enables the Secretary of State to make amendments in local Acts consequential upon the provisions in the Bill. The purpose of that is straightforward. The Bill changes the definition of certain terms which have been used in public and private Acts for many years. Most significantly, it alters the definition of further and higher education. Consequential amendments to public Acts are made under Schedules 12 and 13 to the Bill. As a matter of interest, new technology, in this case the Lexis database, enables us to ensure that we have covered all public and general Acts. Unfortunately. Lexis does not extend to local Acts and so there.is no way to ensure a similar coverage of local Acts.

The amendments will depend upon the institutions concerned recognising that their statutes need altering and drawing that fact to the attention of the department.

The second part of the new clause is designed to assist in the transfer of education to the inner London boroughs. It empowers the Secretary of State to make orders providing for such action as may be necessary to facilitate the transfer. In particular, they enable the Secretary of State, in effect, to deem the boroughs to be local education authorities for specific purposes in advance of April 1990.

It is clear that the boroughs will need to assume some of their LEA functions before the abolition date since the consequences of decisions taken before then will have important implications for the new LEAs. For example, the admissions arrangements for the academic year beginning in September 1990 will need to get under way the previous autumn, and the boroughs will need to have, at the least, a controlling influence on those arrangements. Much the same point arises in relation to the consideration of discretionary student awards of bids for capital expenditure where decisions taken in one year may have consequences in several succeeding years.

There are of course other examples. We therefore believe that the provisions in subsections (2) to (5) are an essential adjunct to the other provisions in Part III of the Bill and will greatly assist in ensuring that all the necessary arrangements have been made and are in place by 1st April 1990. I beg to move.

Lord Peston

My Lords, I should like to ask some questions. Am I right in understanding that this kind of amendment is not unusual and has been introduced before and that its significance, ignoring the ILEA point for the moment, is to work out the logical consequences of what has already been agreed within the Bill, as we are currently considering it? In other words, the amendment does not give the Secretary of State power to amend the Bill or other legislation in substance other than as has been discussed here. That is my interpretation of what the Minister said. I should like her to reassure me on that matter.

I accept, again as a matter of logic, that if the London boroughs are to become local education authorities we must do all that we can to enable them to do that job. I further accept that it must follow, as the Minister said, that such power should be granted. I have to ask one other question which, as will be seen, I am not asking entirely on my own behalf; namely, does the amendment have any significance for Scotland? I ask that because the Bill extends to Scotland in respect of higher education. Do these powers relate to Scotland and, if so, are they needed for Scotland in so far as the commissioners will already have whatever powers they need to deal with higher education in Scotland?.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I can reassure the noble Lord that this type of provision is not unusual and follows from the decisions of principle which have been agreed by your Lordships' House. My understanding is that Amendment No. 123 extends the provision to Scotland because the power to vary local Acts may need to be applied in the university context there just as in England.

I should remind your Lordships that any action taken under these provisions will have to be taken by order and will therefore be subject to scrutiny by both Houses of Parliament. The safeguards are built in.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 229 [Orders and regulations]:

[Amendments Nos. 117 to 119 not moved.]

Clause 232 [General interpretation]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendments Nos. 120 and 121: Page 211, line 46, leave out (" or 128(7)") and insert (" 128(7) or 226(10)") Page 212, line 46, at end insert— (" (5A) Nothing in any provision of this Act or of any order made under this Act relating to the trusts subject to which any land or other property or rights transferred under this Act are to be held by the transferee shall he taken as prejudicing any modification of those trusts after that transfer under any provision of this Act or otherwise. ")

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 233 [Commencement]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 122: Page 213, line 19, leave out from (" to") to (" 199") in line 20.

The noble Earl said: My Lords. the amendment provides for Clause 158 to be included among those provisions which will come into force on the passing of the Act. Clause 158 was a government amendment introduced and passed by your Lordships on Report. It validates the adjustments made to local authorities' block grant in respect of further education pooling. Since the clause validates what has already been done, it is desirable that it should come into force as soon as possible. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 235 [Citation, extent, etc.]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 123: Page 214. line 33. leave out (" 229 and 232") and insert (" Power to make incidental, consequential. transitional and supplententary provisions, 229, 232 and 233, this section").

On Question, amendment agreed to

Schedule 1 [Consequential amendments relating to religious education]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 124: Page 215, line 12. leave out subsection (2) and insert— (" (2) No such syllabus shall provide for religious education to be given to pupils at such a school by means of any catechism or formulary which is distinctive of any particular religious denomination; but this provision is not to be taken as prohibiting provision in such a syllabus for the study of such catechisms or formularies. ").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

1. 30 p. m.

Schedule 4 [Nov Schools]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 125: Page 228, line 34. after second (" the") insert (" financial").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 126: Page 228. line 45, at end insert ("; and the statement under subsection (3) of that section shall include in relation to any such school the additional particulars mentioned in sub-paragraph (3A) below. (3A) Those particulars are —

  1. (a) the amount of such part (if any) of the school' s budget share for the financial year in question (as initially determined for the purposes of the scheme) as falls in accordance with the scheme to be treated as referable to planned expenditure such as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (2) above;
  2. (b) the amount of any expenditure on excepted services planned by the authority concerned for the puposes of the school in respect of any period falling ' Aithin the financial year in question and before the implementation of the relevant proposal; and.
  3. (c) the amount of such part (if any) of the authority' s excluded expenditure under the scheme as is appropriated by the authority for meeting expenditure for the purposes of the school in respect of any such period.")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, I beg to move Amendment No. 126.

This is a technical amendment and if noble Lords desire further enlightenment I can give it. Meantime, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7 [The higher education corporations]:

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 129: Page 234, line 49, after (" a") insert (" full-time")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment was agreed to by the Government in principle and I gather that they are now willing to agree to it in practice. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Supplementary provisions with respect to transfers]:

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 130: Page 245, line 35, leave out sub-paragraph (3).

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, I should say that this is a drafting amendment to delete a redundant cross-reference. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 12 [Minor and consequential amendments. Part I—Amendments relating to grant-maintained schools. Part II Amendments consequential on abolition of ILEA. Part III—Other amendments]:

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 131: Page 261, line 20, at end insert — (" . In section 7 of the 1981 Act (statements of child' s special educational needs) the following subsection shall be substituted for subsection (2)— (2) In any case where a local education authority maintain a statement under this section in respect of a child—

  1. (a) it shall he the duty of the authority to arrange that the special educational provision specified in the statement is made for him; and
  2. (b) the authority may arrange that any non-educational provision specified in the statement is made for him in such manner as they consider appropriate:
unless his parent has made suitable arrangements.".")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment aims to ensure that LEAs may, where they consider it appropriate, arrange for the provision of speech and other therapies specified in the statement of a child' s special needs. At present, Section 7(2) of the Education Act 1981 provides that where an LEA maintains a statement in respect of a child: it shall be the duty of the authority to arrange that the special educational provision specified in the statement is made for him unless his parent has made suitable arrangements

This equals subsection (2)(a) of our Amendment No. 131. We are simply seeking to add subparagraph (b).

A recent judgment—the Oxfordshire judgment of November 1986 ruled first that speech and other therapies do not count as educational provision, even if they are essential fully to meet the child' s needs. The LEA is not under the same obligation to provide them. Further it ruled that LEAs do not even have the power to provide or pay for these therapies. It is this second point that the amendment is seeking to rectify.

At present some LEAs such as Berkshire, Somerset and St. Helens buy in speech therapy. But the legal position needs clarifying. My noble friend Lady Warnock in Committee and on Report moved amendments designed to ensure that there was a duty to meet any provisions specified in the statement of a child' s needs. Surely that is the only satisfactory way to ensure that a statement affords genuine protection for a child with special educational needs and provides him with the education which will ensure that he reaches his maximum potential.

However, the Minister resisted both previous amendments on the grounds that they went too far by imposing a duty to provide non-educational provision. The spirit of that previous amendment received impressive and powerful support from all sides of the House. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, the noble Earl. Lord Swinton, my noble friends Lady Warnock and Lady Kinloss, the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, and the noble Baroness, Lady David cannot be here today but they all want me to say how much they support this last attempt to resolve the dilemma created by the Oxfordshire judgment. I think this is the first time that my noble friend Lady Masham and her noble kinsman Lord Swinton have had their names united above an amendment. I very much hope that that augurs well for it.

The amendment stems from a suggestion made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, in Committee. He said: I should like my noble friend the Minister to look at the possibility of inserting the word ' might' instead of the word ' shall' at some stage into the Act so that local authorities providing this facility can continue to do so—[Official Report, 19/5/88; col. 437]. The noble Baroness Lady Young at column 439 referred to the noble Earl' s suggestion and said that she believed it would meet the needs of the committee if the Minister agreed to look at it positively and perhaps bring back an amendment at a later stage of the Bill. The Minister said at col. 439: I can give that assurance. In fact in doing that I believe that we shall perhaps be back in the position we thought we were in before the Oxfirdshire judgment".

I hope therefore that it will not be thought that it is in any way out of order to be bringing this amendment forward on Third Reading. We are now on the final stage of the Bill and the Government have been unable to bring forward an amendment of their own. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept that Amendment No. 131 is necessary. It imposes no new duties and would achieve precisely what the Minister desired. That is to say, it would put us back in the position we thought we were in before the Oxfordshire judgment. I beg to move.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, at the moment a need for some such form of therapy cannot be supplied by the education authority, as has been stated by my noble friend, Lady Darcy. It has to wait for the health authority to do it. To wait for the health authority to do so may cause delay, or if that. authority is overloaded it may not wish to provide the service. Everyone becomes frustrated and the child suffers.

Last week I was at a conference which the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, was to have attended. Unfortunately, because of having to sit all night on this Bill, the noble Baroness could not be present. I was told at that conference by an education officer from Chester that the authority had children needing physiotherapy. It had the money but its hands were tied by the existing legislation. The health authority was not providing the much-needed therapy and everyone was frustrated.

Many therapists are married women working part-time so it can he ideal for them to give work on a sessional basis. As a taxpayer, 1 for one should like to see my taxes go to give a service in the most efficient and direct way. By making the system more flexible, this amendment will speed up the process of provision.

I cannot imagine what excuses the Minister can find not to accept this amendment. My noble kinsman, my husband. Lord Swinton, who served for 16 years on our local education committee, the county council education committee and the schools committee. feels very strongly about the amendment. Sadly, because of the overspill day, he has had to return to Yorkshire. He would have voted for this amendment as it is now in the form he proposed.

Lord Renton

My Lords, I too wish to support this amendment. Those of your Lordships who took part in the proceedings on the 1981 Bill will remember that at that time we all realised that provision for those needing special education was very uneven in all the various parts of the country. However, we assumed —and I think that the Act was based on this assumption—that eventually all would he well and that there would he opportunities for special education of various kinds before many years passed. Seven years have passed since then and the provision is still, alas, very uneven, especially with regard to speech therapy, if I may say so in passing.

I think that the amendment, which is a simple, modest amendment to the 1981 Act, could do no harm whatever. It would not create any burden for anyone administering the Act and providing for special educational needs. Therefore I suggest that it should he accepted. It would be a very helpful amendment.

Lord Carter

My Lords, I am very pleased to be able to support from these Benches the amendment, which has been ably moved. I should declare an interest at the outset since as a child I attended a speech clinic for some two years to deal with a speech impediment. So I am very well aware of the marvellous work which is done by speech therapists.

Of course this amendment covers all forms of therapy required, not just speech therapy. The situation seems to be quite extraordinary. Everybody, including, it seems, the Government, recognises that there is an anomaly in the artificial distinction between educational and non-educational provision. The Government seem to be completely. unable or unwilling to deal with the matter. The reason is, I fear, the old argument concerning resources, although the resource implications of this amendment are not excessive.

If it is a matter of resources, then I remind the House that only on Wednesday we agreed a substantial increase in the funds required for the assisted places scheme. That is an extraordinary choice of priorities. We find that substantial resources for the assisted places scheme are awarded, but the Government back away from ensuring that children with special educational needs, however defined, whether educational or noneducational—there is a bureaucratic distinction if ever there was one—are properly provided for. In considering this amendment. I make a plea that we put the child first and provide all the help that the child needs rather than fall back on nit-picking about the respective responsibilities of education authorities and health authorities.

I wish to quote from a letter from AFASIC, the Assocation for All Speech Impaired Children, which states: The 1981 Education Act has been a great help in securing appropriate education for language impaired children but their chief need is for speech therapy in an educational setting, and this provision at present falls outside of current education legislation. Thus, we have an absurd situation where LEAs are obliged to identify the needs of children and to meet those needs, except for therapies, because of the employment practice whereby therapists are employed by health authorities. The proposed amendment would ensure that local education authorities make such provision, possibly by ' buying in' therapy from health authorities. At present, no agency is obliged to provide speech therapy for these too often neglected group of children.". It must surely be clear that the logical and the correct position is that there should he a legal duty to ensure that any provision specified in a statement to meet a child' s needs is made, whether or not it is classified as "special educational provision" . That is surely the only way to make statements of special educational needs provide the genuine protection that these children require.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, let me briefly say that we from these Benches wish to give our full support to the amendment.

Lord Swinfen

My Lords, I also support the amendment. Given the right education as a child, a disabled person with whatever disability stands a greater chance of independence later on in life. know that it is not the responsibility of my noble friend the Minister. But another department, the Department of Health and Social Security is the whole time trying to make disabled people independent because it is cheaper that way for them to be looked after.

If we can give them some training while they are still children, it may cost a little on the education side but it will save the nation and the voluntary organisations a great deal more throughout the rest of their lives. We must hear in mind that that can be as much as seven times longer a period as when they are at school.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, as has been said, we have discussed this matter before. But this amendment approaches the topic via a rather different route. I shall speak first about the effect of paragraph (b) of the amendment: but I shall come to paragraph (a) later.

Paragraph (b) provides that where a local education authority maintains a statement of special educational needs under the 1981 Act, and that statement specifies any non-educational provision, the authority may arrange for that provision to be made in such manner as they consider appropriate. The practical effect of this would be that the education authority would turn first to any other statutory authority whose function it is to provide the particular service. In the case of health services to which the amendment refers this would be the district health authority. That authority has a duty under the National Health Services Act 1977 to provide services to local education authorities in order to enable them to carry out their functions.

The problem arises when the district health authority is unable to provide those services. When this happens, it is often because the health authority is unable to recruit enough professional staff to meet all the demands made on it. In those circumstances, it would be unrealistic to allow the local education authority to add to the problems by trying to recruit from an inadequate pool of professional people.

The Government believe that the way forward is not to overturn the division of functions established by Parliament in 1974, but to try to improve the supply of qualified people and the other resources through the health service. My department and the Department of Health and Social Security are fully aware of the problems, and are considering ways of improving the situation. I have no doubt that the debate raised in your Lordships' House as a result of these amendments will be taken very much into consideration.

That is the argument of principle. If I may now turn to paragraph (a), there is a technical objection to this amendment. Section 7(2) of the 1981 Act requires the local education authority to arrange the special educational provision specified in the statement, unless the parent has made suitable arrangements. That is, the local education authority may name their own school in the statement: but the parent has the right to place the child somewhere else—perhaps in an independent school—so long as that other placement is suitable.

As tabled, the amendment omits those important qualifying words from paragraph (a), so that, even if the parents made suitable arrangements elsewhere, the LEA would be required to impose the precise provision set out in the statement. That would be a limitation on the freedom of parental choice, and for that reason also the amendment is unacceptable.

I recognise the considerable feeling there is on this matter and I recognise that the noble Baroness, in tabling this amendment, has endeavoured to overcome some of the objections put forward by the Government to the previous amendments. But I hope that the reasons I have been able to give about the supply of speech therapists, as well as the technical. defect in part of the amendment, will enable the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Carter

My Lords, I believe that the Minister said that the intention was to increase the supply of therapists. Surely it is the principle of classical economics that if one wishes to increase the supply of something one increases the demand. Accepting this amendment would increase the demand for speech therapists.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, if I understand the position correctly, the demand already exists at present and that is why the Government are considering the matter.

Baroness Masham of Ilton

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether a little competition between two authorities is not a very healthy matter? Is that not the whole ethos of the Conservative Party? There are many married physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists who could give a few hours of their time. So I do not agree with the Minister' s argument. Further, is it not possible to make the amendment perfect in another place?.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I feel that the wider discussion that the noble Baroness reintroduces was gone into very thoroughly in 1974 when the decision was taken to separate the responsibilities of the authorities in the way that now pertains. It is always possible to alter an amendment in another place.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for what I think she will realise is a disappointing reply. I shall reply to her two points. Her first point concerned the inadequate pool of therapists. Obviously the LEA cannot buy-in speech therapy any more than the health authority can provide it, if the speech therapists are not available. But I point out that paragraph (b) states "may" and not "shall". Obviously if the speech therapists are not available, that is an empowering provision and not a duty.

Secondly, as regards the technical defect. I thought I had got it right. If the Minister looks at our amendment, she will see that paragraph (a) is lifted straight out of the 1981 Act. Paragraph (b) is our insertion, and underneath that it states: unless his parent has made suitable arrangements". That is meant to apply to paragraphs (a) and (b). If it is not correctly drafted, it could he put right in another place. I think that confusion may have arisen because when I put down the amendment the words: unless his parent has made suitable arrangements". were inserted by mistake only in (b). But they were always intended to apply to paragraphs (a) and (b). I feel that if I have got that wrong at this stage it can certainly be put right in another place.

Therefore, I do not feel that the Minister has satisfactorily answered this amendment. It imposes no new duties. It does not lessen the LEAs' existing powers. It merely enables the LEAs to arrange for provision where they consider it appropriate unless the parent has made other suitable arrangements.

We have received broad and powerful support at all stages and particularly now. I wish to thank our supporters very much. I wish to echo what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Carter —that we should put the child first. Therefore, I wish to put the matter to the vote.

1.49 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 131) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 57; Not-Contents, 37.

Attlee. E. Masham of Ilton. B. [Teller.]
Auckland, L. Morris, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Mountevans, L.
Blackstone. B. Munster, E.
Blyth, L. Murton of Lindisfarne. L.
Bonham-Carter, L. O'Neill of the Maine, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Oxfuird, V.
Carter, L.[Teller.] Peston, L.
Cornwallis. L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Craigavon, V. Ponsonhy of Shulbrede, L.
Dainton, L. Renton, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Rippon of Hexham, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Russell, E.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Seear, B.
Fitt. L. Serota, B.
Flowers, L. Shannon, E.
Gainford, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stallard, L.
Greenhill of Harrow, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Hanworth. V. Strabolgi, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Swann, L.
Headfort, M. Swinfen. L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Tordoff, L.
Ingleby. V. Underhill, L.
Killearn, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Kirkhill. L. White, B.
Lawrence. L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Longford. E. Wise, L.
McNair, L.
Annan. L. Glenarthur, L.
Arran, E. Hesketh, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Home of the Hirsel, L.
Beloff, L. Hooper, B.
Belstead, L. Ironside, L.
Blatch, B. Lauderdale, E.
Borthwick, L. Long, V. [Teller.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Brabazon of Tara. L. Marley. L.
Caithness, E. Marsh, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Merrivale, L.
Carnock, L. Mersey, V.
Coleraine, L. Rankeillour, L.
Davidson, V. St. Davids, V.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Skelmersdale, L.
Dundee, E. Swansea, L.
Eccles. V. Teviot, L.
Effingham, E. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Elles. B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

1.57 p. m.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 132: Page 261, line 28, at end insert— (" In Schedule I Part 2 of the 1981 Act (form of statements) the following shall he added at the end of paragraph 6(3)— (4) Where a local education authority have made any amendment to the special educational provision specified in a statement, they shall also inform the parent in writing of his right under section 8(1) of this Act to appeal against the special educational provision specified in the statement. " ")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the Minister said earlier that she was willing to accept Amendment No. 132. Perhaps I may say how extremely pleased I was at that unexpected news and thank her very much indeed. I beg to move.

Lord Carter

My Lords, perhaps I may say how extremely pleased I am that the Minister has agreed to accept the amendment.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, in view of the result on the last Division, I am happy that I trailed that factor yesterday to show that it was not a direct consequence. We are indeed happy to accept the amendment. In saying that, I should like to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), who, with her colleagues, has demonstrated determination and perseverance in her attempts to improve the details of the Bill in so far as they affect children with special educational needs. I have no doubt that in future there will be parents who have cause to be grateful for this and other amendments which have been passed. The Government are happy to accept the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 13 [Repeals]

The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 133: Page 273, line 44, at end insert—

(" 1988 c. 00 The Local Government Finance Act 1988. Section 111(21(d). ")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend, in whose name the amendment stands, I move this consequential amendment. It removes a reference to ILEA. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

2 p. m.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I beg to move that the l3ill do now pass.

When your Lordships' House began the Second Reading proceedings I compared the Second Reading at that stage to the marathon. Now that we have devoted some 16 days to discussing the Bill I think that we have gone on to prove that this has indeed been a considerable effort.

I must at the outset express the Government' s appreciation, and my own, for the way in which the House has conducted itself under what has, I know, been a very heavy burden. Noble Lords on all sides of the House, many with considerable expertise, have shown a readiness to explore important issues, to listen patiently to the views of others and to express their own views with civilised vigour. I wish to place on record our appreciation of the way in which the spokesmen and others on the Benches opposite have throughout the passage of this Bill done their best to assist the House to transact its business efficiently and. effectively. I am particularly indebted to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and to my noble friends Lord Trefgarne and Lord Arran for the considerable support and help that they have given throughout what has been a mammoth Bill.

It is recognised that the House of Lords has an important role in relation to legislation. As a revising Chamber your Lordships' House has the job of looking at the detail of the Bill and revising and improving its provisions. Once again I place on record the Government' s thanks for the way in which the House has carried out that task.

During our discussions on the Bill the Government have been able to accept a number of amendments from your Lordships. Today we have added amendments from the noble Lord, Lord Peston, and the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), to the list. We have also made considerable concessions in all the major areas covered by the Bill. The total during our debates on the Bill is around 40 such concessions.

To give a few examples as a reminder, on the national curriculum we brought forward at Report a redefinition of Welsh-speaking schools in response to debate in Committee. We have made a number of concessions in relation to children with special needs, particularly those concerning parental involvement and appeals provisions. We have of course accepted a large number of amendments from the right reverend Prelate relating to religious education and collective worship.

On more open enrolment we introduced an important amendment at Committee stage to safeguard the character of voluntary schools. On financial delegation, amendments have included a number clarifying the important responsibilities of head teachers in the preparation of schemes of financial delegation and those putting the requirement to include special educational needs in the resource allocation on to the face of the Bill.

I hope that I have illustrated some of the changes made to the first three chapters of the Bill. I could go on but I hope that I have made it clear that there is no basis for the claim that the Government have been inflexible or unready to accept worthwhile changes to the Bill.

I recognise that some of your Lordships have been concerned at the number of amendments introduced by the Government while the Bill was before your Lordships' House. But the vast majority of those have been technical, minor, paving or consequential amendments. I believe that it is fair to say that about 70 of the government amendments fall into the category of substantive amendments. I should like to draw attention to the fact that at least half of those have been introduced in response to points made by Members of your Lordships' House either because an improved way of doing things had been spotted or because the Government accepted arguments put forward on a particular point.

We are, then, left with 30 or so new government amendments dealing with matters of substance which have been introduced over the 16 days in which your Lordships have been considering the Bill. Bearing in mind the wide-ranging nature of the Bill, and the crucial importance of the subjects with which it deals, I do not believe that that figure is in any way disproportionate.

I am glad that we have been able to reach agreement on those provisions in the Bill relating to religious education and collective worship. There was undoubtedly some confusion on this subject at previous stages and noble Lords have made very clear their strong and committed views on the matter. I think that the outcome is a sensible one which will be of value and workable in the schools.

I should like to pay particular tribute to the part played in this and in the debates on both aspects of the matter by the right reverend Prelate. His role has been crucial in seeking and finding a formula which all sides can accept and which will be practicable in the schools. I am confident that without his involvement agreement would not have been possible. I believe that your Lordships' House, and the nation' s schools, owe him a considerable debt.

We have also had valuable discussion of the provisions of the Bill for the national curriculum. We have, I hope, been able to go some way towards allaying concerns about the ways in which it will be implemented. I think that no Member of this House is in any doubt that the proposals for the national curriculum, including assessment, are at the heart of the Government' s programme of reform and are the key to the improvements in performance throughout our school system which we so urgently seek.

The implementation of the national curriculum proposals and of the associated proposals for assessment will of course have to be phased in over time. They will reflect the views of professionals, both through their involvement in individual subject working parties and the National Curriculum Council and SEAC and through the wide consultation on national curriculum provisions which is built into our proposals.

The revised arrangements for school admissions have been discussed more briefly. I think that that is a reflection of the fact that they are increasingly recognised as a practical but important step in the direction of greater parental choice.

The principle of our proposals for financial delegation to schools and colleges has been very widely welcomed, and local education authorities up and down the country are already gearing themselves up for the submission of schemes of financial delegation. We believe that our proposals will improve accountability and build on the professionalism of the senior managers of our schools and colleges. Resources will be better directed. In that way, financial delegation underpins the range of our other proposals for improving standards.

We believe that these will introduce into our education system an element of diversity which has been missing for too long. I know that some of your Lordships have been concerned about the implications for the Churches where voluntary schools gain grant-maintained status. The Government have been able, I think, to go a long way towards meeting those concerns.

The Government look forward keenly to the establishment of the first grant-maintained schools and we very much hope that these will be operating from September next year and offering high standards of education which will act as an incentive to all schools in their areas within the maintained sector and indeed without.

Many of the provisions relating to further education of course mirror the financial delegation provisions applying to schools. But it is important that your Lordships have taken the opportunity to debate further education in its own right and enabled us to clarify the importance we attach to the area of further education, including, as it does, adult and continuing education. The Government have indeed introduced amendments, reflecting debate in this House, designed to put beyond doubt the place of provision for those with special educational needs within further education, and I should like here to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth).

The House has spent much time considering the Bill' s provisions for higher education, in which many of your Lordships have considerable and valuable experience. Some helpful amendments have been made, and the Government are grateful for them. There have been some real misunderstandings of the Government' s position arising from the need to provide on the face of the Bill necessary powers for the Secretary of State which are a much constrained set of those he already has under the present non-statutory arrangements. However, the debate has enabled the Government to offer satisfactory assurances in most cases.

Your Lordships were not, of course, reassured over the provisions for contract-based funding by the universities funding council and approved an amendment which would seriously weaken the UFC' s role in securing the high quality provision that we all want to see. The other place will doubtless want to look carefully at that amendment. Subject to that, the Bill provides a firm and coherent basis for universities and the institutions in the new PCFC sector to go forward to the end of the century and well beyond.

Finally, we have had passionate debates about the Government' s proposals for the future of education in inner London. There have been strongly held views on both sides. But now that the matter has been put beyond doubt, I am glad to say again that ILEA and the inner London boroughs themselves show every sign of being ready to work with great determination to lay the foundation for a diverse, flourishing and healthy education service in inner London, within which there will be room for the improvements in standards that we all seek, at a cost which local people can afford.

I realise that many of your Lordships are eager to speak, but before concluding I wish to repeat that this is a very important Bill which will bring considerable benefits to the education system of this country. I believe that through our debates we have helped to make important improvements in the Bill and that the foundations of our education system will be that much surer as a consequence. I beg to move.

Moved, that the Bill do now pass. —(Baroness Hooper.)

2.11 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, if I may say so, the noble Baroness has put forward a very pleasant and plausible defence of the Bill. I admit at once that there are certain things that the Bill has achieved about which the House may rejoice: the improvements made in tackling the problems facing children with special needs and what I think may prove to be a durable settlement of the religious question in schools.

However, that does not mean that we can avoid feeling a profound sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction over the Bill as a whole. If one looks at the origin of the Bill, one can see that it was presented to Parliament and to the country as a Bill that would carry out the necessary raising of education standards. From the start the assumption was made that this country' s education was in a bad way, going down and in need of improvement. I repeat that there has never been any evidence for that assumption; there has been a good deal of evidence to the contrary. Over the past decade or more the results of 0 and A level examinations have shown a steady improvement in standard. That could not have been achieved without, among other things, the talented and devoted work of the teaching profession.

It is unfortunate that we have a Secretary of State whose attitude towards the teaching profession is one of hostility. He will need to modify that attitude if he is to achieve the best results from his Bill because whatever arrangements one may make about a curriculum and the subjects that are to be taught, the work will not be done unless there are enough teachers who are willing and able to do it.

The way in which the Government have been behaving towards the teaching profession does not encourage people to enter it, and there is very little in the Bill to remedy that situation. I think that the Government will find over and over again that one cannot say, "We will improve education by making this or that alteration in the structure of it" unless the personnel and the resources are there.

If all the energy in the Department of Education and Science that has been devoted to this Bill, and all the resources that this Bill will require to meet certain provisions had been devoted to a simple process of improving the education service—for example, in the provision for those between the ages of 16 and 19, or in the provision of nursery education or several other particular fields—and if the Government had concentrated on improving realities rather than alterations of structure and theorising, they would have spent their time and resources better. That is the real disappointment that we feel about this Bill. There has been a great deal of effort which could have been so much better directed.

I have spoken about the origin of the Bill. Perhaps I may say a word about the method with which it has been put through. I realise that the noble Baroness will naturally give us figures for the total number of amendments accepted and concessions made. One might also mention the number of amendments. rejected. Even this morning the Government had to have two useful amendments pushed down their throat. We can only hope that the admiration which the noble Baroness expressed for the work of the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), will be reflected in the way that the Government advise another place not to interfere with the valuable amendments that have been made in the course of this morning. We shall see about that. However, in general the Government' s attitude to amendments has been extremely stubborn.

When we came to face the problem of the curriculum there were the very interesting, almost inspired, suggestions—made mainly by the noble Lord, Lord Joseph—about the way in which the curriculum could be handled. The Government would have nothing to do with them. Various lesser amendments for modification of the curriculum were also turned down. Here again, it is no use talking of the curriculum unless one is confident that one has the teachers to carry it through. The Government have so far done very little towards that.

The method by which the Bill has been carried through is the continued resort to regulations, orders and guidelines. This device of government by guideline has been particularly employed in the course of this Bill. Again and again, when one has tried to work out what this Bill will mean in practice, one has come up against the fact that one cannot answer that question until one sees certain guidelines which are not yet with us but which we hope may be with us one day. I do not think that making so much dependent on matters that cannot be before Parliament when we make the decisions is a good way to legislate.

I was going to say something about education in inner London. However, I shall endeavour to put a certain curb on my tongue because, if I do not, I shall take up too much time, and may even come to resemble—in the phrase of the noble Baroness—an extinct volcano. Briefly, this business about inner London was a piece of gerrymandering from start to finish. ILEA is not being abolished because of any faults it may or may not possess. It is being abolished because it has been persistently a Labour authority. Since we all know that, it is a little vexing for the Government to talk sometimes as though addressing an assembly of half-wits who did not know this. It is in fact the case. The Government have torn to pieces something which no meetings and consultations will put together again. Even if it is true that everybody approaching the consultations that the Government are now holding do so with the utmost good will, there are some things that cannot be put together again. One cannot rearrange the splendid structure of adult education in London except by a unitary plan for the whole of inner London. To be told, as we are over and over again in this argument, that it does not matter about smashing something to pieces because, after all, one can always obtain some glue and put the pieces together again is poor consolation for those who know how much the unitary system of education in inner London has done for London' s people of all ages, children and adults. We still hear only of consultations going on. There is still no answer as to. what is likely to happen to the specialist services for which London was particularly famous and to the structure of adult education.

I am not qualified to talk at any length on the university section of the Bill. However. I note this. The Government have succeeded in getting themselves on rather uneasy terms with the universities. Indeed, it is remarkable that almost every section of the educational world with which the Government have had to deal has ended up in disagreement with them over a wide range of matters.

We have yet to see how the Government will sort out the disagreements with the universities and other bodies. In this House, we required the Government to accept an amendment about academic freedom after much discussion about whether the words "academic freedom" meant anything. Most of us believed that they did until we heard speeches from the Government Front Bench trying to show that the phrase was so vague that it could not be put in a statute. That amendment was agreed to. but what are the Government going to do about it? That too will he a test of' how the public at large and the whole academic world ought to accept the Government' s pretensions over the Bill.

As I was saying earlier, it seems to me that the Government have mistaken the real need of the whole education service, which has more resources, more trained people and substituted elaborations of procedure and legislation and administrative frameworks. That has been a profound error, I believe. If any person argues on behalf of any public service whatever that more money ought to be spent, the stock Conservative reply is that one does not solve a problem by thowing money at it. That is true. It is also true that a large number of problems cannot be solved unless some money is provided and also resources. But what the Government seem to think in this Bill is that they can solve the problem by throwing legislation at it; regulations, orders and guidelines. I believe they will find that that cannot be done.

As I said at the beginning. I believe that the Bill has produced some useful results, but its whole record is one of ill-will, misunderstanding of the nature of the problem and a greatly lost opportunity.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, I propose to touch on only one of the many themes which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, introduced, and that is the relationship of the Bill to higher education and in particular to universities. When the Bill was originally published, it was greeted throughout the university community, irrespective of political party or other allegiance, with total dismay. It seemed to show an inability to understand the way in which universities function and the kind of' atmosphere that is required for them to play their part in the nation' s life. Since then, as the noble Baroness reminded us, we have worked long and hard at those clauses as well as at other matters.

This morning I received a letter from the head of one of the Scottish universities who said that as a result of the work in the House of Lords he felt that the universities have now achieved most of what they could hope for. In other words, the breach between. the Government and the university world with which I am afraid I have bored your Lordships on more than one occasion— could now be healed. But it could be healed only—this is the point of my brief intervention—if the Government accept as final the three amendments made in this House, especially the one to which the noble Baroness herself referred: the change in the methods by which the new funding council should approach its task. I was horrified when the noble Baroness suggested that there was any question of asking, the other place to reverse that decision, not because it was carried by vote, because after all in this House the way votes come out is subject to many arbitrary conditions, but because the Government lost the argument. It was a major part of the policy which was condemned—as were the other matters which have been put right in respect of academic freedom and one branch of the tenure argument—by noble Lords with university experience from the four parties represented in your Lordships' House as well as from the Cross Benches. It would be intolerable if the Government, who could not put forward a single speaker to defend their position, other than Ministers, were to go to the House of Commons and say, "Well, the Lords passed this only in a fit of absent-mindedness and you can put it back as it was before".

In the presence of the Leader of the House, and having discussed the matter with more distinguished people in the university world than I over the last few days. I should like to take this opportunity to say with all the weight that I can command that it would be an intolerable strain on the loyalty of the universities to the Government' s proposals for education in general if. after the House of Lords has partially put the matter right, they are asked to accept that it will not be a part of government policy. On political, social and intellectual grounds I appeal most earnestly to the Government to say, "We have had the argument and we happen to have lost it. Perhaps we were wrong but we have lost it and on these matters the Bill should stand".

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

My Lords, of course one wishes the Bill well. It would he ungracious to hope that it has all the effects on children' s education that one has tried to warn against. There will be some good results to set against the bad ones, there is no doubt about it. Not everything about a defined curriculum is to be deplored. Local financial management is desirable in principle. There will be good employment prospects for administrators, especially at the DES.

Two matters stick in my mind as I look hack over the course of the Bill. The first is the power of the university voice as compared with that of the schools. The universities have obtained most of what they wanted, as the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, has noted, while the schools have been successfully batted off on every major point bar one. Is this solely a matter of the relative strength of the arguments? Or do we really think so little of the earlier phases of education that we accord their representatives so little say in the higher councils of the land and listen to them so little when they speak? How many noble Lords are here because of services to schools? Those questions are worth asking.

The second and overriding impression is of the fundamental irrelevance of the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, made that point particularly well. At an earlier stage many of us were charged with taking a negative attitude towards it. It is a charge to which I quite happily plead guilty. I could not do otherwise, believing that the structural and procedural changes which are what the Bill is mainly about, do nothing for the issues which really need attention. What is worse is that they introduce more change when stability is what the schools so badly need.

What are the issues that need attention? I prefer the judgment of the inspectorate to that of political parties. HMI have highlighted these. They are a mismatch of teachers' expectations with many pupils' abilities; a mismatch of teachers' qualifications with what they find themselves teaching; a shortage of resources in increasingly poor standard accommodation. Those are mostly a function of teacher training, teacher supply and money. One could, if one wished, add the whole area of under-5s' provision and the need for greater coherence post-16. Those are some of the areas which, if addressed, could really do something about standards. Compare them with what we have been talking about since early May and see the difference.

As has already been said, no Bill can raise standards; only teachers and children can do that. My fear, and that of most people in education, is that the Bill will make it harder and not easier for that to happen. I only hope that we are wrong.

2.30 p.m.

Earl Russell

My Lords, I believe that I owe a response to the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley. If I may say so, if he says that the universities have most of what they want, I believe that is somewhat of an exaggeration. I accept that the universities have some things. On this the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and I speak with one voice. Where we speak with one voice, I believe that that voice may indeed be taken to be the voice of the academic community.

To say that we have most of what we want in a Bill which has abolished tenure and set up a new funding system of unknown potential is less than the truth. Nevertheless, I accept the spirit of the noble Earl' s remarks. Small though the concessions to universities are, they are greater than the concessions made to schools. I also share the noble Earl' s regret about that.

I must admit that I came here new to this House concerned mainly with the issues of my own profession. I have learned slowly and to my very great surprise that the university clauses were not the worst part of this Bill. Holding the opinions which I do, I hope that noble Lords will appreciate that that is a strong statement. I believe that the very worst part of this Bill, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, has suggested, is the part dealing with the ILEA. I simply do not understand the argument about devolution to the boroughs as it has been put before us. It reminds me of the notion that an education service is like a worm which may be cut in half and the separate parts continue an independent life. On that. issue, I believe that no dialogue whatever between the two sides of the House has taken place.

The next issue which I regard as the second worst matter in the Bill is the degree of inflexibility in the national curriculum. I share the sentiments of the noble Lord. Lord Stewart of Fulham, about the amendments moved by the noble Lord, Lord Joseph. Where the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, and I all say the same thing, I believe that is genuinely an all-party sentiment.

I feel particular regret about the defeat by a very narrow majority very late in the night of the amendment put forward by my noble friend Lord McNair, which could have done a little to defend Latin and Greek. At the moment, should 1 describe the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter—who I am sorry to see is not in his place—as there are still people in the House who will know what I mean. I wonder for how long, with this Bill on the statute book, that will remain the case.

Above all, the final impression which sticks in my mind is of a Bill which was not ready to pass. This is not only a matter of the number of government amendments; it is matter of the number of times in a debate we have found that Ministers did not know what their own Bill meant; for example, on the question of lecturers' pay scales (a) and (b) and that most people will move from one to the other. We do not know whether that will constitute a promotion for the purposes of losing tenure. The Government really have had time to find out.

I should like to know what was the argument which made it necessary to have quite so much haste in driving this Bill forward to the statute book before the Department of Education and Science had had time to make up its mind. I feel with a Member in another place in 1628 who once asked King Charles I whether he would rather have four subsidies on Friday or five on Monday. What was the hurry?.

Viscount Eccles

My Lords, I am grateful to the usual channels that we are able to have the closing stages of the Bill at a reasonable hour. The debates, very ably conducted by my noble friend Lady Hooper, have been interesting. I should like to add my tribute to all sides of the House for the way this great case has been argued. In my opinion, the worse thing about our debates is that it has not been realised how important is this Bill and why we must have it.

I confine my remarks, and they are few, to the first part of the Bill because I know more about schools than the other parts of the Bill. When the Bill becomes law, are we going to be able to look forward to a serious and deep improvement in our primary and secondary education? I shall give some reasons why we need that improvement. One must ask: will teachers, parents and governors working in cooperation with the local authorities he able and willing to make this Bill a living reality? There can be no certain answer to that question. The best precedent we have is not good.

Your Lordships will recall that the main purpose of the 1944 Act was not carried out. Mr. Butler, with. whom I worked, knew very well that all children cannot benefit from the same kind of school. Parliament legislated, without a Division, for three kinds of secondary school—grammar, secondary modern and technical. That was a realistic structure but it was abandoned in deference to the socialist theory that all children should go to comprehensive schools.

This is no place to argue whether or not we should have stuck to the tripartite system. Today we must start from where we are, and Part I restores a measure of variety among the schools. The Liberal Party, which has done so much for education in the past, should welcome action which relates the child' s education more closely to his or her ability. I had hoped that the Labour Party would no longer insist that equality in education is more important than quality; but, after listening to the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, and others, I fear I cannot be sure of that.

It would greatly impress the teachers if all parties were seen to want them to give this Bill a fair trial. I have the impression that we have been so taken up with details in the education system, from nursery schools to universities, that the critical importance of introducing now, quickly, major reforms in our education system has been lost sight of. Our prosperity and our influence in the world, as never before, will now depend on improving the standards of education.

That fact must he much better appreciated if the will is to be generated to implement the reforms in this Bill. Wherever your Lordships travel abroad —to Europe, North America, China, Japan or the Soviet Uniony—you must be struck by the new and vast plans sponsored by government after government to raise the standards of education in step with the galloping advances in science and technology. Your Lordships might also be struck by the worldwide dismay at the spread of violence and crime, so often aggravated by the traffic in drugs. Therefore, for the first time in history everywhere, everyone, is looking at the same horizon.

Here in Britain we see coming towards us competition in industry, trade and finance of a kind we have never experienced before. Of course there is a good side to this process. The growth of the world economy offers us untold advantages. But will we be well enough prepared to take advantage of those opportunities? That must depend much more upon the quality of our schools, further and higher education, than on any other factor under our control. If we wish to we can become the best educated country in the world, but if we do not choose to use our resources to that purpose we shall very soon be on the downhill road to decline.

The teachers are not yet convinced that Parliament realises the extent to which the future of our country is in their hands. At least we do not treat them as if we believed that. Some members of my party have been chiefly, and rightly, concerned to remove certain regrettable deficiencies in the system as it is; namely, indiscipline, poor teaching and so on. I agree with them about that objective, but I hope that they will see that this is small stuff compared to the great reforms now essential in the national interest.

I have one further small point. Your Lordships accepted without Division the religious clauses moved into the Bill by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. It is a great pity that we cannot call a prelate "my noble friend" . I should have liked to do so. A fresh start is to be made in teaching children the nature and origin of the values that hold their society together. That could he the most profound and historic change that we are making in this legislation. It is not going to happen unless the will and the resources are there to make it happen. I am told that young people today are looking for such a lead. I hope they are. But the right reverend Prelate and his supporters must know that an unprecedented effort is about to be made to introduce children to the mysteries of technology. I put it to them, does not that concentration on maths, science and technology demand from them at least an equal effort to implement the religious clauses? Where is that effort to come from? It has not been there since the war and it will have to be made anew.

I do not believe that it can be made in church, hut it might be made in the school. Education should achieve a continuing balance between moral and cultural values and the knowledge required to make a living. Do not let us deceive ourselves. In a world devoted to money-making and self-indulgence this will he exceedingly difficult to do. This is a great Bill, with very great possibilities. Its future is uncertain unless your Lordships and others concerned give a strong lead, as indeed we could, to those whose duty it will he to put the provisions into practice.

2.45 p.m.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, we on these Benches first wish to say that we appreciate that this Bill has put a very great burden upon the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. We respect and admire her stamina and her good temper. I believe that very few of us could have kept our tempers as well as she has done throughout the long days and nights on this Bill. I hope that in what I am about to say she will take it from me that it is in no way a personal criticism. I am hound to say that I found the passage of this Bill through this House a deeply disappointing experience.

I begin by saying that I am still surrounded by petitions—I do not propose to present them —from people in Rye, Hastings and Southwark profoundly disapproving of the Bill. Of course I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, that this is a time as never before when what we needed was a really great education reform Bill. We need a great leap ahead. We do need to make up for the lost time which has turned so many unacademic children, as the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, stressed so frequently, out into the world totally unequipped to deal with the world as it will be in the future. I agree with him that unless we make great educational progress the economic, social and human future of this country is not a rosy one.

I am sorry to say that this is not the Bill that will achieve the ends which we all realise need to be achieved. Of course there are some good things in it. We have all agreed that there should be a national curriculum covering maths, science and technology; but it is far too rigid a Bill. We have stressed this over and over again and it has been stressed all around your Lordships' House. It gives far too much power to the Secretary of State and that means, in a great many cases, to the DES. I do not believe that the people in the DES are the people who will save education in this country; the people who will save education in this country are the teachers in the schools and the dons in the universities and polytechnics. That is where the responsibility lies because they are the only people who can do it.

There can be no denial from any side of the House that the teachers in this country at all levels mistrust the Bill and the Government. I have had, as has everyone in this House, an enormous correspondence about the Bill. I can honestly say—this is the only time I can remember it in connection with any Bill—that I have not had one single letter saying that we are wrong in the opposition that we have put up. Every letter has been in opposition to the Bill and there is a great mound of those letters, as Members of your Lordships' House know only too well.

Perhaps I may underline as strongly as I can what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said. If we have got some way as a result of the efforts of your Lordships' House in improving the position in relation to the universities, it would be a catastrophe—I use the word deliberately—if those improvements were reversed in another place. Therefore I beg the noble Baroness to use all the influence that she can muster to impress this upon her noble friends. Indeed, I am very sorry that the Leader of the House is not present to hear this.

Not only do I feel that this is a bad Bill, but I can only express disappointment and dissatisfaction with the way it has been handled in your Lordships' House. I have been in your Lordships' House for 17 years and I do not remember so depressing an experience as the passage of this Bill through this House. Again and again we have put forward arguments based on considerable expert knowledge on this side of the House—a great deal of this has nothing to do with party politics in any shape or form —and what have we received? We have had read to us briefs prepared by civil servants which were plainly written before the arguments took place. We have not had answers, discussion or argument, and this House is all about argument, discussion and answers.

I am sorry again to say this, but to treat your Lordships' House and the Opposition in this way is an insult to the House. It is an insult not only to your Lordships' House but also to the whole process of Parliament.

Lord Swann

My Lords, perhaps I may echo on behalf of the Cross-Benches the thanks that have been given to the Ministers. I could not conceivably have contained my patience for as long as they did. Much of what I wanted to say about the universities has already been said much more eloquently than I could have said it by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and so I shall he brief on that matter.

There are two other matters which I wish to raise. First. I was moved by what the noble Earl, Lord. Baldwin of Bewdley, said. It is true that the school side of education has not had as fair a deal perhaps in the House as higher education and the universities. That is in large measure because there are many of us who know about universities or who have been in them and many fewer, with the shining exception of the noble Earl, who have experience of schools. That must be counted as a defect of the House, albeit not of our making.

The second matter I wish to raise before I turn to the universities is the changes that have been made in the Bill about religious education and worship. I do that for two unusual reasons. The first is that some years ago I chaired a government committee on the educational and other problems of the ethnic minorities. We heard a great deal of evidence about religious education and worship in schools, conflicting and confused, pointing strongly to the fact that, though some schools managed splendidly, many others ranged in their practices from, roughly speaking, doing nothing to doing things that were positively hurtful to ethnic minority children of another faith.

We concluded that the Government, in consultation with religious and educational bodies, should look afresh at the relevant provisions of the 1944 Act to see whether alterations were called for after an interval of 40 years. We said that three and a half years ago. We never envisaged that it would happen through an education Bill altered spendidly in the House, but so it is and I am very glad that it is so.

The noble Viscount said a moment ago that he was sorry that he could not refer to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London as his noble friend. I can, however, refer to him as my noble kinsman. I am sorry that he is not here, because I am sure that he would have been touched by what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said. I can only add that I know, perhaps more than many of your Lordships, what a prodigious amount of effort he has put in.

I shall turn to the universities. There are only one or two things that I wish to say. The noble Lord, Lord Adrian, and myself were naturally pleased that we won the amendment which will go some way towards getting rid of contract funding. I shall not go over all the arguments as to why contract funding is so unsatisfactory. It is primarily because it will undoubtedly lead to creeping bureaucracy. In that context I should perhaps tell your Lordships that the famous customer contracting principles, set up by my noble friend Lord Rothschild (with whom I did research years ago) when he was in the think-tank, envisaged the idea of the customer being a government department and the contractor, research workers. The noble Lord envisaged that taking up about a page of the contract.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which is now a major contractor/customer operator, has a form of about 20 pages and nearly as many closely typed pages of instruction. They have become so complicated that the ministry has had to lay on training courses for the people who will do its research in how to fill up the forms. There is undoubtedly creeping bureaucracy wherever we let in bureaucracy.

I was sad, like the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that the Minister introduced the possibility that the amendment might be reversed in another place. I do not know whether it will be, but rumour seems to suggest that that is likely. Rumours also suggest some of the curious reasons that are being advanced as to why it might be reversed in another place; for instance, that it has no strict legal enforceability. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that it made not an iota of difference, and in the legal sense that is true. It would be rather illogical of the Government to wish to reverse it if it makes no difference. Who can advise more certainly on that than the noble and learned Lord himself?

Other reasons that seem to be floating around are that in some manner it is technically flawed because it interferes with some other part of the Bill. It may be so: I would not know. It has also been suggested that it will he more expensive. That of course is absolute nonsense because the global budget for universities is settled and it does not make much difference how it is divided up. I argue very strongly that it would almost certainly he much more cost effective, because there will not be so many bureaucrats pushing paper. Staff in universities, particularly senior staff, will not spend the prodigious amount of time they now have to spend in dealing with government questionnaires, finances and inquiries of every conceivable sort.

It has been said repeatedly in the course of this Bill that the business of contract funding and all it stands for —the bureaucracy and the constraints on freedom of thought within a university—are very much to be deprecated. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, pointed out that on every side of the House there was criticism and total rejection of the concept. He also pointed out —and I want to emphasise it again because I find it equally or perhaps even more astonishing than he does—that through the length and breadth of this Bill not one single Peer, so far as I know. has ever defended the concept of doing this. The most we have ever had has been from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who, roughly speaking, said, "It won' t he quite as bad as you think". Also the noble Lord, Lord Butterworth, read out what the Secretary of State had said on roughly the same lines.

Finally, I want to say a short word about what has been described frequently and perhaps most notably from the Government Benches by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Swynnerton. It has been reiterated this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham. that the Government have produced a great breach between themselves and the universities. I find this very regrettable. Undoubtedly if the amendment were to be reversed, it would widen that breach. I do not know whether the Government care. But having been rather rude about the Government at intervals in this Bill, I wish to quote three things that were said in this House yesterday. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, who expressed great enthusiasm for reducing bureaucracy. I can only hope that his thinking spreads along the Front Benches and also into another place.

I was even more touched by the noble Lord, Lord Elton. who said in a slightly different context: My Lords. perhaps I may say that I have always regarded a government who are prepared to change their mind as a result of discussion in Parliament as a model to be followed by all parties" — [Official Report, 7/7/88; col. 436.] Not long afterwards, the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Fawsley, said at col. 438: The great John I Henry Newman once wrote, ' To be human is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often. ' I am not encouraging the noble Baroness to change her mind again on this issue. but it is a matter for praise and encouragement rather than reproach when a government listen and alter their view. I can only hope that, when reflecting on the possibility that this amendment might he reversed in the Commons, the Government will be a model and an object for praise in the eyes of those of us in this House.

3 p.m.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, I promise that I shall not go over any of the ground I have covered before in the two speeches that I have made on this Bill. I wish to underline what the noble Viscount said a few moments ago. I hope it will be read by those forces in your Lordships' House which have helped to bring about the significant changes in the Bill relating to religious education. Without the resources. without the goodwill of the teaching profession it will he impossible to implement the hopes and the plans in this Bill regarding the further extension of religious education in our schools. I think that will have to be borne in mind very seriously indeed. But, apart from that, I hope that the public and parliamentary debate on the new clauses which have been added to the Bill in this regard will continue after the Bill has left your Lordships' House. I express the hope that the Government will not wish to hasten the progress of this Bill through another place in order to get it back to your Lordships' House unduly early to the exclusion of the opportunity and the time for the further debate which I think is required on these issues.

I draw the attention of your Lordships to the fact that the Government hoped, so I believe, that this reform Bill could go through both Houses without raising the religious issue. Yet they have failed in that. There has been a repetition in the debates on this Bill of the trend of discussion on religion and the moral and cultural values which have occupied so much time in every previous education reform Bill.

Therefore, we have adopted on this occasion the unusual role not of a revising Chamber but of a Chamber of initial legislation. We have incorporated in the Bill new clauses which represent primary legislation in their own right. We have extended beyond the concept of the 1944 Act into the realm of religious education an aspect of our education system which has been excluded from the whole of the state education system since 1870. This is the first time that the state and Parliament have intruded into the field of religious education not to instruct but to educate; to teach something.

I suggest that one cannot bring to bear upon the limited intelligence and imaginations of children in this field a great deal of new thinking and new effort. to enlarge their minds for the future on Christianity without having in mind what kind of Christianity is to be taught. We have done something very significant in constitutional and parliamentary terms. For that reason alone, I hope that another place will assume the role of revision which we on these clauses have not undertaken because we have been the initiators of this new part in our primary legislation. That is my first point.

Secondly, we have in drafting our primary legislation on these matters forsaken the kind of approach that we customarily pride ourselves on making towards loose phraseology and imprecision in the formulation of our law. As a simple illustration, one has only to look at Amendment No. 13, which we passed only yesterday, from the point of view of precision of the law rather than as a guide to teaching.

We are laying down the law and we must consider the terms in which we do so. The noble Lord the Chief Rabbi drew attention yesterday to the phrasing of that amendment. I do not wish to take up the time of the House in explaining what was said, as it occurred so recently it must still be in the minds of noble Lords. The noble Lord the Chief Rabbi referred to such phrases as "wholly", "mainly", "broadly", and "broadly in character" . Such phrases are to constitute the law and they will be used to govern the whole of the system. Education authorities will be required to comply with them. I believe that the phraseology of the Bill will need fresh attention when it gets back to another place.

Finally, on the matter of the time that the debate should continue, certain indications of concern are now being expressed. The public debate on what we have been doing has been slow to emerge. However, it is now doing so. Now that the Bill is in its final form so far as this House is concerned, all those who may be concerned about it ought to have time to see where we are proposing to go. Time should be given for opinions to be brought to bear on the other place, where the final responsibility is likely to rest. We wish to know what the mandate is and what public support the Bill has. We wish to know about the misgivings of non-Christian minorities.

I notice that what has received attention in the press this morning is that non-Christian minorities may claim the right to an act of collective worship. That seems to be what occupies so much of the media as regards matters of this kind. If it is religion, it is news and up it goes into headlines. If we combine with the other place in encouraging public debate in looking at the Bill and its clauses afresh before the Bill comes back to your Lordships' House for whatever final revision may be necessary, we shall justify what we have done. We shall vindicate, as I believe it is essential to do, the standing and credibility of this House as the custodian of good law for our country.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will not think it an impertinence if I put in a brief word, having missed the beginning of the debate. I understand that the noble Lord. Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has raised for the first time the question of religious education. Since he has linked religious issues with moral and cultural issues, I believe that I should say to your Lordships that I feel that Parliament is the proper guardian of the morals, culture and religion of this country. It is to the credit of this House and Parliament if the religious rights of minorities are recognised alongside the primacy of the Christian tradition. Noble Lords who have not attended the debates will have seen the considerable consensus in the decision which was finally reached and that it was echoed outside the House.

Finally, I believe that if we had not had the established Church represented in this House and prepared to deal frankly with the other faiths, that would not have been possible. That is an argument in favour of some of the more archaic aspects of this institution. I believe that we have done good work. I hope that it remains intact.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

My Lords, since special needs are now mentioned far more frequently in the Bill, I shall speak briefly for our totally all-party group and thank the noble Baroness for her kind words about it. It was very much a team effort. I welcome the reference to special educational needs in the important areas of financial delegation, grant-maintained schools, further education, higher education and the improved appeal rights for parents of children with statements. I very much hope that the other place will leave the amendment on speech and other therapies in the Bill.

I have some regrets. The national curriculum is still very much a straitjacket. It is a very real concern for parents. I regret the lack of specific representation of special educational needs on the National Curriculum Council. There has been no improvement in the appeal rights for parents of children without statements, which is a very large group. However, I realise that one cannot win them all and that we have received much more than most. The Bill is now a great deal better for children with special educational needs. That is in part because those children were not considered enough when the Bill was first drafted. That fact has already been acknowledged in the other place when the Bill was amended there.

The Bill is also better thanks to the broad, strong and impressive support which was received from all sides of the House. That is very much as it should be. Disabilities and learning difficulties cut across the lines of class, creed, race and politics. I thank the Minister and also the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for being willing to talk, to listen and, in so many cases, to respond positively concerning children with learning difficulties and disabilities.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, in the Second Reading debate three months ago I suggested that this was the most important Bill introduced in the country this century, and probably the most dangerous. What I have seen and heard over the past three months has not in any way shaken that original impression. Indeed, the way in which the Government have dealt with this Bill, culminating in the farce of last night, suggests that the executive is abusing Parliament. That is not an accident.

It is not often that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and I are in agreement. We have been in agreement on the university section of this Bill, as has the noble Earl, Lord Russell. Behind that is the fact that everything that has liberalised the Bill has had to be forced on the Government. We have not been totally successful. As all those noble Lords speaking from the university side this morning said. the Bill is better— or less bad—so far as concerns the freedom of academics. But that freedom has been attacked by the Government. It is attacked in this Bill and we have not totally repulsed that attack.

In particular, on the issue of tenure, the university world will be the poorer even after the concessions that were forced on the Government. The university world will be the poorer, particularly in relation to the universities and university conditions in other countries. That is not an accident.

I should like, if I may, to borrow a sentence from the noble Lord, Lord Swann, in the Second Reading debate because I cannot put it as well. He said: Even the most enthusiastic supporter of this Bill can scarcely deny that it involves throughout a very marked increase in the centralised control of the whole education system by the Secretary. of State."—[Official Report, l8, 4188; col. 1249.] That is not an accident; it is part of the philosophy of this Government.

Through this Bill a change in the philosophy of the cultural character of this country is being brought into being. That character has always essentially depended upon freedom of expression, of thought, of writing and of dissent. That is why the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. and I are on this occasion on the same side. That is what we believe in. We disagree on opinions, but both of us believe that we should each be free to express our opinions by every means. It is that which has been under attack in this Bill. I repeat: that is not an accident.

I am very sorry that the noble Baroness—with whom I fully sympathise in the ordeal she has undergone over the past three months—never found it possible to answer the essential point which we put from this side right at the beginning concerning the core curriculum. She left the matter to her noble friend Lord Dundee, who never answered the issue that we put forward at Second Reading, at Committee stage and at Report state that the core curriculum should include the words that the Government themselves had included in their White Paper of three years ago. The words were: to help pupils to understand the world in which we live, and the interdependence of individuals, groups and nations. The inclusion of that sentence would not have made this a good Bill. However, it would have improved it and it would have shown that the people who are concerned about the future education of the children of Britain see those children as part of the global village and recognise the tremendous responsibility and challenges that they will have to meet not just in this country but in the world as a whole.

As I said, it is neither an accident nor a coincidence that throughout the Bill there has been a constant strain of centralisation, a constant theme of "the state knows best" and a constant increase in the powers of the Secretary of State. When that is put together with the other social legislation introduced by the Government—the attack on the trade unions and the attack on local authorities—I suggest that the Bill undermines the very structure of our cultural life. It is a Bill which I believe we shall have to amend within the next few years. It will bring chaos to many parts of our education system. It will put the education system and the cultural life of this country into the market place—which reflects the philosophy of the Government.

It is a Bill which I cannot support and one which I have yet to find that any sincere educationist will support. I suggest that this is a very dark day in the history of this House and of Parliament; it is a day on which we are undermining the very roots of British culture.

3.15 p.m.

Lord Peston

My Lords, in my view one advantage of speaking more or less at the end of a debate is that all the good arguments have already been put. I assure noble Lords that I do not intend to chew over this meal yet gain.

Taking the Bill as a whole I see it as at least divisible into three parts. Clearly there are the parts that my noble friends and I reject absolutely. There are parts with which we have no sympathy at all: the grant-maintained schools; the abolition of the ILEA; the city technology colleges and their new bastard progeny—what are they called? —the new city technical and arts colleges or something; and, speaking for myself, the abolition of tenure. There can he no meeting of minds and I do not believe that noble Lords on the Government Benches would have expected us to do other than differ on those matters.

On the other hand, there are parts of the Bill which seem to me to be wholly admirable. I believe that what the Government are doing for the polytechnics is right. More generally, I was most pleased to hear the remarks of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on the possibility—I go no further—that in due course we shall live to see the integration or unification of the whole sector of higher education. We may differ on the speed with which it is carried out but the Government' s thinking seems to be in the right direction. Again, at degree level—about which I spoke earlier this morning—what the Government are doing as regards bogus degrees is exactly right. I am sorry that we on these Benches did not get so far as to do it some years ago. Those are the two extremes.

I think that the problem which many noble Lords have dwelt on this afternoon is that in the middle of the Bill there are areas in which there ought to have been a greater meeting of minds than there has in fact been. Fifteen years ago I wrote of the need for a national curriculum. I am therefore not opposed to it.

I wrote years ago—it was later than the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles—that there was need for the Secretary of State to have powers in respect of the curriculum. I am not against that. However, I believe that on the curriculum testing and assessment, and to some extent on local financial management. there were arguments that the Government could and should have accepted. I say no more than that because it has already been said.

It is that middle bit where we did not have a meeting of minds which prevents the Bill being great, apart from in physical size. It is clearly great in that respect. But I feel that it is not the great Bill it could have been.

Some aspects still rankle with me. I reflect on the minor but quite important amendments that somehow were not acceptable to the Government. I refer to the amendment yesterday evening about adult education. I simply cannot understand why the Government were not willing to accept it. The amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, on restructuring, which I supported, was entirely in the spirit of what the Government wished to do, yet they rejected it. I could give a long list. Somehow I feel that that is where we went wrong.

Perhaps I may say a word about procedure. In doing so as a relatively new Peer I know that I verge on the impertinent. However, I shall never believe that what we have been up to for the last three months—the 16 days and mostly nights— is a rational way of doing business. I shall never believe it, however long I am here. Dealing with matters when people are tired, irritated and under presssure not to argue because others wish to get home or get on with the next business is not the best way to proceed. I shall never be persuaded that it is.

The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and others have referred to disappointment, despair and so on. I am disappointed but I do not believe that there is need for despair. We have done our job to a very considerable degree because we have exposed the deficiencies of the Bill; there is no doubt about that whatsoever. Although the Government were constantly refusing to put what we wanted on the face of the Bill, often their interpretations were those that we wanted, although I understand that this is not part of statute. I would rather that they were statutory than simply interpretations, but I do not despair even where I am disappointed. I return to a point already made. There will be other occasions, other amendments and other chances to move forward.

My final remarks are of thanks. I hope that my first remark will not be interpreted as sexist. I have been astonished in the way that this debate has been dominated by noble Baronesses. I refer of course to the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, who has done an outstanding job for the Government. I hope that they are duly appreciative of it. I wish that my noble friend Lady David were here today to make this speech rather than myself. She has done an equally good job and we are indebted to her. Of course my old friend from the LSE, the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has always been brilliant and incisive. She too has made a major contribution. Those are the leading figures.

I have already referred to the noble Baronesses, Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and Lady Masham. They have fought the special needs corner admirably, even though they seem to have run their machinery occasionally over my toes. The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, has also made a major contribution. To show how non-political I am today, I refer to the interesting contributions—although not always acceptable to our side—of the noble Baronesses, Lady Blatch, Lady Carnegy and Lady Cox.

Above all, I should like to thank those noble Lords who have sat on the Back Benches, particularly those who did the post-dinner shift night after night and sat here, often through the night, because of some amendment that interested them late that night or early morning. I should like to believe that I am or will be capable of sitting it out that way. I am not sure I should be, but I was most impressed that often when I was sitting in a rather lonely way on this Bench and the noble Baroness was sitting equally lonely there, at least there were one or two faces, friendly or otherwise, sitting in the Chamber with us. Noble Lords have done their job in that way and I thank them. However I repeat that I wish we did not have to do it in that way.

Finally was the act of dealing with the Bill a pleasure? I have to say no; I did not particularly enjoy it. It was extremely interesting, but I hope, again just speaking for myself, that I do not have to go through the same experience again, or at least not for a very long time.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Annan

My Lords, I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me if I delay her for a little longer before she replies. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, was going to speak, but he tells me that he is not.

I should be sorry if it was taken that every person in academic life who has spoken this afternoon was opposed to the Bill. I am not. I believe it does some very useful things. Those who have attacked the Government for abuse of power and over-centralisation should recollect that there were other abuses of power. There was the abuse of power, for example, by the National Union of Teachers, a body which has never interested itself in the curriculum except to oppose every change unless it benefited its members. It is a union which has disrupted the schools and wrecked the education of thousands of children. These points ought to be borne in mind by those who attack the Government for taking powers to themselves which have never been seen before in our education system.

I move on to the universities. I supported the noble Lord, Lord Swann, in his amendment very willingly because he put his finger on something that is a great danger— the over-bureaucratisation of funding for the universities. But I have great sympathy with the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, and the point he made when he spoke to that amendment. He reminded the House that, when he was Minister of Education and he appealed to the universities to help him to achieve better mathematical teaching and education as a whole, he met with little response except, I think he said, from Sir Bryan Thwaites, then at Southampton, who introduced with his influence a system of mathematical teaching which some would say had even more disastrous effects than that which it replaced.

But that is not the only factor. For a long time the universities were unwilling to listen to appeals by government. They were not willing, for example, to meet any of the 13 points that Shirley Williams put to them when she was Minister for Education and later Secretary of State. When it came to overseas students, did the universities and polytechnics help the government of those days when they were alarmed at the enormous increase in student numbers? They did not. It is for these reasons that I suspect there has been this change in the attitude of the Government to the University Grants Committee.

I believe that the Government are now trying to give that body statutory force, which perhaps it did not have been before as it was set up by a Treasury minute. I believe it will need those powers because, although the universities have a very strong lobby in your Lordships' House, they do not have a strong Lobby in the country as a whole. To the mass of people in this country the universities and polytechnics are a number of rarified institutions which hardly affect their lives. If one tried to raise a campaign on their behalf one would find that it fell very flat in the country as a whole. Higher education will not receive the support throughout the country that we all wish unless it changes radically. I do not believe that the changes which are hound to occur could have occurred under the old system of government.

What do I have in mind? Universities and polytechnics must become far more flexible in their admission of students. They should allow pupils who have spent one or two years in colleges of further education and who have shown great promise and ability, hitherto unsuspected and unrepresented by their O-and A-level results, to transfer to higher education. There will then be the feeling in the country that the institutions at the top are directly concerned with those at a lower level. There should not be the great divide between one set of students and another. Those are the changes which I believe must occur.

There must also be great changes in the way in which universities conceive their courses. I believe that we shall move inescapably towards the American model of modules in which one can take this subject and that, and where there is a greater flexibility for people coming into the system and for those already in it. I do not believe that we shall achieve such changes unless there is continual pressure from the top. Alas, I have often seen initiatives put to university departments and rejected because those who are carrying out the teaching cannot understand that what they are doing is not absolutely for the best in the best of all possible worlds. That is one of the reasons why I welcome some of the provisions in the Bill.

I also believe that in their treatment of schools the Government must carry the teachers with them. In this respect there are fences to be mended as there are with the university and polytechnic teachers. I suspect that, again, there must be changes in the training of teachers. I believe that to be one of the least satisfactory parts of our present education system. I hope that at a later stage the Government will investigate it.

For those reasons I believe that one should give a qualified consent to the Bill and not regard it as something which has emanated from the depths of hell.

Viscount Buckmaster

My Lords, I shall detain your Lordships only for one minute because I was unable to attend the House yesterday. I should like to recall that the Moslem population in Great Britain, which numbers approximately 21/2 million, has consistently wished to be co-operative. However, at present it is not wholly satisfied with the provisions in the Bill. It will object to collective worship and I hope that its views can be taken into account when the guidelines are drawn up.

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate. I am sure that noble Lords will be grateful to me if I do not attempt to respond in detail to all the points that have been raised.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Baroness Hooper

My Lords, it is sometimes difficult when, on the one hand, the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, criticises the Bill for leaving far too much to guidelines and, on the other hand, the noble Baroness, Lady Secar, accuses the Government of producing a rigid and over-prescriptive Bill. This has been a recurring dilemma in the course of the Bill' s passage. I have emphasised on a number of occasions that this is a framework Bill designed to enable change in a number of areas where such change has been under discussion for some years. We have also emphasised that where further guidelines and regulations are proposed so, too, is further consultation with all those involved.

I should also like to take issue with the argument of the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin, that we have moved on universities but not on schools. In opening the debate on this Motion, I referred to a number of concessions and if I were to count them all I could produce a very much higher total for Part I of the Bill, the schools provisions, than for all the other parts put together. I should also point out that your Lordships' House spent very much longer discussing the schools provisions than other parts of the Bill. Both in Committee and on Report the House spent longer debating Part I than Parts II, III and IV of the Bill together.

Nevertheless, I am encouraged by much that has been said and particularly by the constructive approach taken by the noble Lord, Lord Peston. I am sure that those of your Lordships who still have reservations will at least agree with my noble friend Lord Eccles that the starting point for this legislation was a clear need to improve standards and to keep up with the challenges of the 21st century.

As the Bill nears the end of its passage through Parliament, we should inevitably now begin to look forward to its implementation. We believe that the Bill provides the framework within which we can achieve the improvements in performance which are needed. However, the effectiveness of any Act of Parliament of this kind depends on the skill and professionalism of those within the education service if it is really to hear fruit.

I believe that the Bill gives teachers new opportunities to apply their professionalism to better effect and gives local education authorities a new strategic role. We are confident that the universities and polytechnics will respond to the new arrangements proposed which, after all, largely follow the recommendations of the Croham Report.

In once again thanking your Lordships on all sides of the House for their kind remarks, contributions, efforts and good humour, I commend the Bill to your Lordships.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before four o' clock.

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