§ 2.57 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science (Baroness Hooper)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill he now further considered on Report.
§ Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.—(Baroness Hooper.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ Clause 103 [Charges and remissions policies]:
Lord Carter moved Amendment No. 349A:
Page 104, line 25, after ("aptitude") insert ("geographical necessity or therapeutic requirements").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 349A I should also like to speak to Amendment No. 349B. The purpose of the amendment is to clarify a possible ambiguity in Clause 104(4) and to ensure that other factors beside educational provision are taken into account when deciding whether the parents of children with special educational needs should pay for hoard and lodging at a maintained boarding school. It is also intended to avoid a situation arising where pupils with special educational needs, which can be met only at a residential special school, are prevented from receiving that education because their parents cannot afford the fees for board and lodgings.
§ Many handicapped pupils must attend special schools for geographical reasons. On Second Reading I gave an example of the only boarding school for the visually handicapped in the ILEA area. There 75 per cent. of the children at the school are from non-ILEA boroughs and from the Home Counties. The fees at the school are approximately £1,000 per pupil.
§ Few parents of handicapped children want their children to attend boarding school. A handicapped child particularly needs the comfort and support of home surroundings. It is very hard for the child and the parents if the child has to go away to school for the special education which he or she requires.
§ I tabled the amendment so that the Minister can assure the House that when any child with a special educational need requires attendance at a boarding school for geographical or therapeutic reasons, in addition to the reasons set out in Clause 104(4), in no case will the parents have to meet the cost of such education or the board and lodging costs.
§ I cannot believe that the Government intend that the parents should have to pay. The possible ambiguity has been pointed out to me and I would welcome an assurance from the Minister on the lines that I have requested. I beg to move.1295
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, the Government sympathise with the intention behind these amendments: that is, to ensure that boarding education is provided free of charge, where this is necessary to meet the particular educational needs of an individual child. But this position is already secured in statute and by the provisions on the face of the Bill; these amendments are unnecessary and would, I fear, simply confuse rather than clarify matters.
Section 8 of the Education Act 1944 already requires LEAs to meet essential boarding need, where education suitable to a child's age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, cannot be provided otherwise. The Bill repeats the provisions under Section 61 of the Education Act 1944 that. in these circumstances, no charge may be levied on parents.
The queston of "geographical necessity"—in other words whether a child needs to be boarded because of the distance which he or she would otherwise have to travel to school—would be absolutely crucial to an authority's consideration, under the existing provisions, of whether suitable education could otherwise be provided for that child. To single out this aspect of need on the face of the Bill is thus unnecessary and could indeed be taken as implying that other needs were seen as less important or even as excluded.
As I have already pointed out, where a child needs boarding education because of any special educational needs he may have, this must also be provided without charge. I recognise the concern that has been expressed about the need of some children for therapy services, and the difficulties experienced in some parts of the country in obtaining those services, or in obtaining enough of them to meet the children's needs.
In recognising that there are difficulties in the provision of certain forms of therapy in some parts of the country, we do not accept that the right course is to move a child away from his or her home and place him in a boarding school, solely with the aim of obtaining better access to health services. The choice of school for a pupil with special educational needs should be dictated first and foremost on educational grounds; the need for particular kinds of therapy is an additional consideration which must be taken into account. If there are difficulties in securing the provision of any particular type of therapy, the answer is not to move the child to another area, but to press the health authority to carry out its duty under the National Health Service Act.
To introduce the term "therapeutic" on the face of the Bill would thus be unnecessary and potentially confusing. The necessary duties and safeguards are already in place or included in this clause as drafted.
Amendment No. 349B seeks to introduce the word "reasonably" into this clause. If the noble Lord is seeking to strengthen parents' hands in situations where they may disagree with an authority's judgment on essential boarding need, this would not he the effect of the amendment as tabled, and such provision is in any case unnecessary, since parents will continue to have the right to appeal to my right 1296 honourable friend the Secretary of State where they consider that an authority is behaving unreasonably.
For those reasons, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, I welcome the assurance that the Minister has given. I am a little concerned about the point she made about therapy. She will be aware of the problems in some areas over speech therapy. However, in the light of the assurances which she gave, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 349B not moved.]
§ [Amendment No. 350 not moved.]
§ Clause 105 [Extension of powers as to trusts for religious education]:
The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 351:
Page 106, line 10, leave out ("instruction") and insert ("education").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 352:
Page 106, line 14, leave out ("instruction") and insert ("education").
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
The Lord Bishop of London moved Amendment No. 352A:
After Clause 107, insert the following new clause:
§ Amendment of Education ( Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953.
§ (" . The following shall be added to the end of section 2 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953: "Where the Secretary of State directs that a specified part only of so much of the cost incurred in the establishment of the school shall be defrayed by the Local Education Authority the provisions of !he first Schedule to the Education Act 1946 shall apply.".").
§ The right reverend Prelate said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall also speak to Amendment No. 352B. Amendment No. 352A is intended to cause the requirements of the first schedule of the Education Act 1946 to apply to the provision of new controlled schools which was permitted by Section 2 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953.
§ This means that in cases where a voluntary body wishes to contribute towards the costs of a new school, thereby enabling it to be a controlled school, the site of that school will have to vest in its trustees in the same way as would happen if the school was an existing school which was moving from one site to another.
§ There has been a disadvantage for many years in that the 1953 Act did not require local authorities to convey the school's site to the school's trustees and in consequence of charity law the trustees were in difficulties in putting any funds into the school which they did not actually own.
§ The object of Amendment No. 352B is simply to apply the same criteria in cases where an existing controlled school has a significant enlargement to it. The object of both amendments is to permit greater 1297 flexibility in arrangements between voluntary bodies and local education authorities. It may be that in order to achieve this greater flexibility regarding substituted schools and enlargements, some amendments will also be needed to the first schedule to the Education Act 1946. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I accept that there are anomalies in the present law relating to controlled schools which need attention. The Secretary of State has some sympathy with the intention of these amendments to enable the Church authorities to contribute towards the cost of providing a new controlled school or enlarging an existing one, with an appropriate assurance that their interests will be safeguarded if the school later closes.
However, this is a very complex area of law and I am advised that the right reverend Prelate's amendments are not satisfactory as they stand. Some careful thought needs to be given to appropriate changes to bring about the ends which we agree are desirable. I hope that the right reverend Prelate will be content to withdraw his amendment on my assurance that we will consider further what can be done and return to the issue at a future legislative opportunity.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her assurances, in the light of which I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment. by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 352B not moved.]
Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 352C:
After Clause 109 insert the following new clause:
§ (" Obligation to enter pupils for prescribed public examinations.
§ .—(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, the governing body of every maintained school shall secure that each registered pupil at the school is entered, at such time as they consider appropriate, for each prescribed public examination for which he is being prepared at the school at the time in question in each syllabus for that examination for which he is being so prepared.
§ (2) Subsection (1) above shall not require a governing body to secure that a pupil is entered for any examination, or for any examination in any syllabus for that examination, if either—
- (a) the governing body consider that there are educational reasons in the case of that particular pupil for not entering him for that examination or (as the case may be) for not entering him. for that examination in that syllabus; or
- (b) the parent of the pupil requests in writing that the pupil should not be entered for that examination or (as the case may he) for that examination in that syllabus.
§ (3) Subsection ( 1 ) above shall not require a governing body to secure that a pupil is entered for any examination in any syllabus for that examination if the governing body have secured that pupil's entry for another prescribed public examination in a corresponding syllabus.
§ (4) For the purposes of subsection (3) above, a syllabus for any such examination shall be regarded as corresponding to a syllabus for another such examination if the same course of study is provided at the school concerned in preparation for both syllabuses.
§ (5) As soon as practicable after determining whether or not to secure the entry of any pupil for a prescribed public examination in any syllabus for which he is being prepared at the school the governing body of a maintained school shall notify the parent of the pupil in writing of their determination in relation to each such syllabus.").1298
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this new clause simply requires a school to enter a pupil for every prescribed public examination for which he has been prepared, except where there are clear educational reasons for not doing so or where the parents request otherwise.
§ That is not a new concept. It has always been accepted that schools would enter pupils for examinations for which they had been studying. It is clearly right that the decision on whether or not to enter a pupil for a particular examination should be based on educational grounds rather than on financial or other considerations. Our new provisions on charges, which prohibit charging pupils for entry to prescribed public examinations for which they are studying at school, provide a good and timely opportunity to reflect this position in statute.
§ There is no question of this new clause requiring schools to enter pupils for unlimited numbers of examinations at the whim of parents. The requirement to enter relates only to prescribed public examinations—to be prescribed by regulations—but mainly public examinations such as A-levels and the GCSE. The requirement applies only where the school in question has actually been preparing the pupil for this particular examination entry. There is no obligation to enter pupils for examinations for which they have not been prepared by the school; for instance, where they have received private tuition, or where the pupil chooses to resit an examination with no further preparation by the school, simply to obtain a higher grade.
§ I commend this new clause to your Lordships as a further helpful clarification in statute of the proper responsibilities of schools. I beg to move.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, in general we welcome this clause, but I have two or three comments to make. First, it seems odd that the governing body and not the teachers is to decide whether on educational grounds a child should not be put forward. I trust that the Government will make it clear that this power can be delegated to the head teacher from the governing body and that, in any guidance the Government issue, that will be the normal practice.
Secondly, as we are to have some sort of competition between schools on, perhaps, examination results, it is important that schools do not enter for exams only children whom it is felt will be absolutely certain to pass. That will give children who have, or do not have, a chance of passing the examination an opportunity to enter for it. Moreover, there is no right of appeal by the pupils or the parents against the decision of the school. I suggest that it would be helpful to have a right of appeal.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
My Lords, I echo the words of the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna. The governing body is the only authority mentioned in the amendment. I cannot understand how a governing body can know which children should be entered for which examination. Teachers, notably head teachers, are not mentioned in the amendment. What is the Government's thinking on these lines? I shall be interested to hear the Minister's comments.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, it is unreasonable to think that a governing body would not consult the headmaster or teachers before reaching a decision. To give them the power in the commonsense knowledge that they would acquaint themselves with all the circumstances before reaching a decision seems very sensible indeed.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, the new clause is intended to restore the implied obligation on schools in Section 61 of the 1944 Act. That is the reason the duty and responsibility remains on the governing body. In practice, of course, it is clear that the governing body would consult the teachers and the head teacher in particular. We will certainly make clear in guidance that powers can be delegated to the head teacher.
The clause is designed to ensure that it will not be just children likely to pass exams who will be entered for those examinations. In fact, it is the purpose of the clause to underline that that should not be the case. If it is of any additional comfort to the noble Lord, under subsection (5) the school is required to inform parents in writing of whether or not the child is to be entered for an examination. That is intended to ensure that parents are fully informed of the school's decision and are able to make any representations that they wish.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, it is all very well telling parents, but if they cannot do anything about the information given it is difficult for them. Does not the noble Baroness agree?
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 110 [Chapter V: general and supplementary provisions]:
The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 352D:
Page 109, line 30, at end insert—
(" "equipment" does not include clothing;")
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this is a technical amendment intended to maintain the status quo under existing legislation with regard to responsibility for providing articles of clothing for pupils.
§ Our charges clauses prohibit pupils from being required to provide or pay for any equipment needed for educational purposes. This amendment excludes clothing from the definition of equipment in this context. Items such as aprons for cookery and football or hockey boots have traditionally usually been provided by parents. It would not be appropriate for schools now to be required to provide such articles free of charge.
§ Moreover, pupils are presently expected to come to school sufficiently and suitably clad. The LEA has the discretion to provide clothing for a pupil where it considers that he could not otherwise take full advantage of the education provided. It can then charge the parent according to ability to pay. The LEA's discretion in this respect is maintained by this amendment. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.1300
§ The Earl of Arran moved Amendments Nos. 352E and 352F:
Page 109, line 36, after ("school") insert—
("( ) references to a public examination (including a prescribed public examination) arc references to such an examination as it applies in relation to persons entered for any syllabus for that examination with a view to meeting the examination requirements for that syllabus so as to qualify for assessment for the purposes of determining their achievements in that examination on any particular occasion in any year when an assessment for the purposes of determining the achievements of persons entered for that examination takes place;
( ) references to an examination requirement for a syllabus for any such examination are references to any requirement a pupil must meet in order to qualify for assessment for the purposes of determining his achievements in that examination in that syllabus;").
Page 109, line 37. at end insert—
("(7A) For the purposes of subsection (7) above an assessment for the purposes of determining the achievements of persons entered for any examination is to be regarded as taking place on any occasion on which it is determined in relation to each person entered for any syllabus in that examination who has met the examination requirements for that syllabus whether that person has passed or failed and, if grades are assigned for the purposes of the examination, the grade to be assigned in his case.").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord Tordoff moved Amendment No. 353:
After Clause 110, insert the following new clause:
(" .—(1) Each local education authority shall, so far as practicable exercise its power to make or terminate appointments to a governing body so as to ensure that the balance of parties for the time being prevailing in that authority is reflected in the persons who are for the time being members of the governing body and for whose appointment the authority is responsible.
(2) Subsection (1) above shall be interpreted, in particular, so as to ensure that the balance of parties for the time being prevailing in the authority is reflected in the persons who are for the time being members of every governing body for whose appointment the authority is responsible.")
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is in the names of my noble friends Lady Seear, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, Lord McNair and myself. It arises from a situation, referred to recently in the press, in the borough of Barnet where the Conservative Party used its control of the council to make sure that all the school governors appointed were Conservatives. Neither the Labour Party nor the Social and Liberal Democrats were allowed any seats on school governing bodies. The Tories nominated 230 positions on governing bodies at the borough's 64 schools. After September the opposition parties will not be represented on any of the bodies although they have 21 out of the 63 seats on the council.
The amendment is not necessarily directed at the Conservative Party but at any party which in the future might wish to totally control every governor on the board of every school. It seems to be a thoroughly undemocratic practice. Mrs. Dot Bentham, the education committee vice-chairman, said:
We've got the best education system in the country in Barnet. We don't see why we should have school governors who don't represent our point of view".
That seems to be a spectacular statement. It is in the light of that situation that this amendment has been tabled.
§ I hope that the Government, even if they do not accept the wording of this amendment, will be prepared to come up with a measure to ensure that the democratic process is protected and that governors are representative not just of one party but of the broad spectrum of political opinion within boroughs. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, I support this amendment. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that we do not want school governing bodies to be politicised. We have heard criticism of politicisation by Labour boroughs in the past. We object to that equally, whether it is a Labour or a Conservative controlled borough or in the event of its being a Social and Liberal Democrat borough. The only way to ensure that that does not happen is to have a balance among the people appointed to these bodies.
§ The Earl of Swinton
My Lords, I hope that the House will not agree to this amendment. I remember that the whole idea of the 1986 Act, in which I was somewhat involved was to get away from political organisations on governing bodies anywhere and I am horrified to hear what happened in Barnet. The whole idea of the 1986 Act was to get parents and other such people involved. It is embarrassing on the governing body on which I sit because we have no idea which political party people, belong to. When I asked 1 was surprised at the results. I feel that the amendment is one way in which we will politicise the situation.
Incidentally, I have heard that the SDLP is busy organising parents to stand as parent governors on political lines. That is largely sponsored by the SDLP. I hope there is no truth in that report. That sounds just as bad to me as the situation in the London borough of Barnet. The amendment would be a retrograde step in encouraging politicisation and not opposing it.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I listened with interest to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, but 1 cannot answer for what is being done in the SDLP because that is happening on the other side of the Irish Sea and I am not an expert in that respect.
On the question of politicisation in general, I can understand what the noble Earl is getting at. It is not our intention that this should be a party political problem. If the noble Earl wishes to suggest an alternative way of dealing with the matter I am sure we would be very ready to listen. The object is not to ensure that every party is represented in strict numerical order but to ensure that no one party shall dominate to the exclusion of others. Living, as I do, in the London borough of Brent I should like to second what was said by my noble friend Lord Tordoff that this amendment is not aimed exclusively at one party.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, if one wanted to politicise governing bodies, adopting this amendment would be the way to do it because it suggests that, in considering who should be 1302 appointed to the responsible office of governor, those appointing should take into account the appointee's political views. I hope and believe that in many cases when school governors are appointed the appointing body has not the faintest idea what are, or what should be, the political views of the governor concerned. The appointing governors should be concerned to discover whether the governor has an interest in the school, whether he or she is a parent and of sound character for educating people.
Moreover, when political control of a local authority changes, as your Lordships know it does from time to time, the suggestion contained in this amendment is that one should alter the composition of the governing bodies in order to keep them in line with the political context of the local authority. Therefore, one would have to remove a perfectly good governor in order to put in someone with another political view, apparently irrespective of his qualifications as a governor. Of all the amendments that we discussed during the eight days this Bill was in Committee, I do not believe that I have heard before one so positively harmful as this.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I do not believe that the noble Lord can have spent many years teaching in a school. When I did, our general view in the common room was that the governing body was an infernal nuisance.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, we are certainly sympathetic to the spirit of this amendment. Even though one or two interventions were critical of the details of it, on reflection those critics would probably also favour the spirit; that is, that one would like the governing body to represent in some broad sense the community which the school is serving. It may be that the precise wording of this amendment does not achieve that. I know nothing of the case of the London borough of Barnet, but I find what it is doing most unattractive.
With reference to the political point, it may be that other noble Lords can find other parties which have done equally monstrous things in other boroughs. The important point is that this kind of incident should not happen. It seems that this is a case where, given the views of the Government as regards governors, they have some responsibility if they do not like this particular amendment. I take the logical point that specifying political parties leads to politics. However, I do not believe that is what the amendment is trying to achieve. It is trying to reflect the wishes of the community.
I think this is a case where the drafting abilities of the Government probably far exceed those of the rest of us. The noble Baroness replying for the Government should be able to take the spirit of this amendment on board and look to see whether the Government can find the kind of amendment that would achieve what noble Lords on those Benches have put forward. In particular, and to avoid the 1303 Barnet case and to reassure noble Lords opposite, perhaps I may repeat my point; namely, that what Barnet is capable of doing as Conservatives I am certain that a Labour borough would be equally capable of doing somewhere else and at some time. Therefore, the issue is not that political; the issue is one of the community and I believe that the Government should take that extremely seriously.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
My Lords, if one had read what my committee recommended some time ago, this situation would never have occurred. My recommendations to the Government of that day were that each body should have a quarter comprised of teachers, a quarter comprised of LEA representatives, a quarter parents and a quarter community. Unfortunately, the Government did not accept that recommendation but they went a long way towards it. I give them full credit for that. As the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, the Education Act 1986 went a good deal towards it.
I deplore the attitude of both the Conservative and the Labour Parties. The Labour Party is doing exactly the same thing in other places as Barnet is doing. I understand that in certain authorities where the Liberal Party is gaining control it intends to do the same. That is not what we intended. What the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said was absolutely correct. We wanted a governing body that was completely divorced from politics and which included people who were interested in the children of the school; people who were interested in the community and who were not concerned at all about the political side. I feel that the amendment does not do what is intended, but I do not know how one overcomes that, except by going back to the original concept that we brought forward some 10 years ago.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, if the view expressed is that the Government should find some way of meeting the spirit of this amendment, and if it is meant that this should be done by way of statute, I am certain that is wrong. This is not a matter that can be dealt with by statute, but by educating the general public particularly people who sit on local authorities. They should be encouraged not to show partiality because it is not in the interests of the education service. People with merit and knowledge are required to do what is necessary, but to try to find words to put in a statute would be inadequate. It would also be setting an example.
I remember the occasions when the magistrates used to meet at quarter sessions with the judge and have lunch. On one occasion I remember sitting next to a magistrate who was a colleague when we had to decide whether we would appoint a new chairman for either the probation or the police committee. I was appalled when the colleague said, "Your side have had that chairmanship for so many years, it is time that our side had it." The idea is wrong of people sitting as impartial magistrates having to do a job and people viewing it not from the point of view of carrying out their tasks impartially and properly but in accordance with the diktat of one side or another. In the case of the magistrate nor in this case would it be justifiable to try to cover it by way of statute. It is 1304 necessary to educate people to meet the point made by my noble friend, but to try to include it in a statute would be setting an example which I believe would be dangerous as well as wrong.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I understand why the proposers of this amendment seek to ensure that school governing bodies should not have an inbuilt political bias as a result of the way the local authority makes its appointments. But I do not believe that this amendment would have that effect. Indeed, I believe that it could be counter-productive, and I shall try to explain why.
The new school governing bodies which will be introduced from this autumn as a result of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 to which my noble friend Lord Swinton referred, will be much better balanced than their predecessors. They will contain equal numbers of local education authority-appointed governors and elected parent governors. These governors, along with the elected representatives of teachers in the school and, usually, the head, will then co-opt representatives of the local community. The co-optees will form the largest single group, but no group will be large enough to dominate the governing body. It will, in consequence, be much less likely that one particular party or faction will dominate a governing body than has been the case until now.
It was for those reasons that we introduced the Act in the first place and it received a very wide welcome. We hope and believe that in general the result will be that those who appoint to governing bodies will give much more thought to the qualities and experience which their appointees can bring to the governing body, and the contribution they can make to the effective and successful running of the school, than to the much less relevant consideration of their political affiliations. Equally, we hope that in making co-options, governing bodies will seek out commitment to the achievement of higher education standards rather than the representation of a particular point of view.
I believe that this amendment would take governing bodies back to exactly the situation from which the 1986 Act rescued them. The criterion for appointment would no longer be, "Has this person got something that this school needs?" It would become a simple matter of making up the numbers never mind the quality. I say "a simple matter", but in fact I fear it would not even be that. If one has to appoint three governors, and there are four political parties on the local council in the ratio 7–6; 4–1, I defy even the ablest mathematician to accomplish what this amendment requires.
For those reasons, I believe the amendment to be unworkable and misguided, although I realise that there are genuine fears about the so-called packing of governing bodies. We share the hopes of those who put forward the amendment that local authorities in making appointments and governing bodies in making co-options will adopt as a guiding principle the need to ensure that governing bodies consist of people whose principal qualification for membership is that they have the best interests of their school very much at heart. I trust that the proposers will feel able to withdraw the amendment
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Lord Tordoff
My Lords, it is precisely in those terms that we address the problem. It is quite clear that in certain boroughs that is not the spirit in which this is being approached. One fundamental point which people have missed is that in the final line of subsection (1) of the amendment we refer only to those governors for the appointment of whom the authority is responsible. In other words, we are talking only about the local authority governors. There is no attempt to politicise the non-local authority governors. That is not what the clause addresses. The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, may pull a face but that is not what the amendment addresses.
Noble Lords on both sides of the House have expressed the view that they do not want this to happen. The Government hope that it will not happen. We are trying to ensure that it will not happen. Now is the opportunity to write onto the face of the Bill something which will stop it happening. The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, talks about educating members of the public and of local authorities. Is he saying that the Conservative Members of Barnet Borough Council are uneducated? I would not expect to hear such a view coming from the Government Back-Benches, although it may be true. The danger is that this will happen in one authority and then the opposing party in another authority will do the same thing. We must try to stop it happening.
I had hoped that the Government would at least say that they would take the amendment away and see whether they could come up with a formulation to stop the local authority nominees being packed by the dominant party for the time being on that local council. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, referred to the danger of people being taken off and put on councils. That is precisely what happened in Barnet. All the minority party local authority nominees have been swept off the governing bodies at all the schools in the borough. That cannot be democratic. Clearly the amendment is flawed, and it would be foolish in those circumstances to press it to a Division. However, I hope that the Government will think about it further and perhaps come back with something at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 111[Interpretation of Part I]:
§ The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 354:
Page 109, line 46, at end insert—
("(2) References in this Part, in relation to proposals under section 23, 45(4), 81 or 84 of this Act, to the date of publication of the proposals are references—
(3) Where any such requirement imposes a continuing obligation with respect to the publication of any proposals, the
requirement shall for the purposes of subsection (2) above be taken to be satisfied on the first date in respect of which it is satisfied." ").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, this amendment has already been spoken to. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 112 [Functions of local education authorities with respect to higher and further education]:
Baroness Seear moved Amendment No. 355:
Page 110. line 14, at end insert ("and adult education").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall also speak to Amendment No. 361. The amendment seeks to secure the inclusion of adult education in the provisions to be made by the local education authority. As the House will be aware, there is at present no statutory obligation on local authorities to provide adult education. I urge the House to recognise that there never was a time when the provision of adult education was more important than it is today. People are facing rapid changes in occupations, with large numbers of people out of work, although the numbers are falling.
§ There is no doubt that the provision of adult education is of the greatest importance. Yet because there is no statutory obligation at present, boroughs hard-pressed for money and with important statutory obligations to fulfil in relation to their schools will obviously be tempted to cut back on the provision of adult education. We want this included in the legislation so that adult education has a fair deal in the allocation of resources by local authorities along with all the other education responsibilities that they have to meet. We very much hope that the House will recognise this point and will agree to the amendment which is of the greatest importance at the present time. I beg to move.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I should like strongly to support the amendment. We have long wanted the provision of adult education to be a duty of the local authority and now is the opportunity to have it so made. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the second part of Amendment No. 361, which states:A local education authority … shall have regard to the expediency of co-operation with any voluntary bodies or associations which include within their objects the provision of facilities or the organisation of activities of a similar character".A great many voluntary bodies make use of adult education premises belonging to local authorities. This co-operation is extremely valuable and I hope that it can continue. Local authorities will need the finance and good will to do this. I should like to give the House some examples. The North Kensington Unemployed Centre which is run by the Venture Community Association relies on the Hammersmith and North Kensington Adult Education Institute. Age Concern, greater London, uses premises in Hackney, and the English as a second language organiser at Fulham and Chelsea Adult Education Institute arranges English classes on adult education institute premises.
I hope that the Government will look kindly on these amendments. It is the opportunity at long last to have adult education written into the Bill. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments.
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, I should like to ask the Minister how much support the Government are thinking of giving to adult education. The worst mistake I made during my long stint at the ministry was my failure to give adult education the support it ought to have had. If we could start the education system again—with the £10 billion, £11 billion or whatever the figure may be—and lay it all out, from nursery schools right through to courses for senior citizens, and then allocate the money according to the importance of the stages in that long journey from birth to death, I am quite certain that we should find that adult education is the least well served over the whole of life.
The French have a very good phrase for it. They call it éducation permanente. That is what education has to be nowadays. It was important 20 years ago but it is more important now. The world is changing faster and adults need to learn things now which they did not need to learn at school. In my father's time boys and girls were thought to learn enough at school to last them through their lives. That is not true now. Furthermore, it becomes less true every five years or so, especially with British people travelling abroad and with what is going on in Europe. People need to have these facilities offered to them. Will the Minister be kind enough to say how much attention is being given in this great reform to the progress of adult education?
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, 1 should also like to support the amendments. We spent a good deal of time yesterday talking about truancy. Many young people at the ages of 14, 15 and 16 are not especially committed to education and find it rather hard to attend school every day. That is regrettable but it is a fact. When they reach their twenties and thirties some of those young people will regret the fact that they did not go to school every day when they should have been going. It is especially that group that I think could benefit enormously by the provision of adult education on a wide basis.
The second group that I think could benefit enormously—and, indeed, already do benefit and ought to benefit in even larger numbers—are women. Some 70 per cent. of those attending adult education courses are women. As we all know, in the past women have often missed out on the opportunities of post-school education, especially at the higher education level. They again, when their children are old enough, come back and attend adult education courses.
The third reason I think it is extremely important that we should put more effort and resources into adult education has already been put forward by the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles; namely, that we need a concept of life-long learning of éducation permanente. I shall be putting forward an amendment later in relation to continuing education at the higher education level. However, if we are to make something of that, we need an intermediate stage which is more local authority provision of adult education to allow those people who left school early, who perhaps do not have the confidence or qualifications to go straight into higher education as mature students, to start off on adult education 1308 courses. I very much hope that the Government will be able to accept these amendments.
§ Lord Ritchie of Dundee
My Lords, I should like briefly to add my support for the amendments. I consider that adult education can be a life-saving service for people who are elderly, for people who have missed out on their schooling—as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone—and indeed for the lonely. I have had heart-rendering cris de Coeur from elderly people who say, "Please see to it that our opportunity to go to an art class, or some sort of class, during the week is preserved". For lonely people it is often the only time that they can get out and meet anyone else. Therefore I think it is of the utmost importance.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, I think the Government will agree that this Bill has provoked a good deal of controversy. However, they now have an opportunity of putting something in the Bill which will be universally acclaimed and which may prove, with the passage of time, to be the thing for which this Bill is chiefly remembered. It is indeed remarkable that adult education should have remained a purely permissive concept for so long in our educational history. I should just like to add the following arguments to the many which have already been advanced in this connection.
First, we now have a larger proportion of our population who are not as familiar with the English language as they are with their mother tongue and who are therefore hampered in many ways by an incomplete command of the subject. The night school, as it used to be called, is one of the ways in which they can remedy that problem. There are also, unhappily, areas in this country where unemployment is still very heavy and where the opportunity to learn possibly a new skill or merely to keep freshness of mind and an interest in life is a matter of great importance.
I remember once attending a conference on educational matters at which there was a discussion about the extent to which girls ought to be taught domestic science in education. An American lady there said, "I don't send my daughter to school to learn to wash dishes; I want her to learn something interesting so that she will have something to think about while she is washing the darned dishes". That seems to me to lay a finger on a very important point of education: it is not merely teaching one how to run one's house or how to earn one's living; it teaches one how to enjoy life. Therefore, if we add such considerations, and many of those mentioned by other speakers, I think that we are bound to conclude that adult education ought by now to be promoted from a voluntary to a statutory and regular part of our education system.
It is true to say that under this Government we pass education Acts at what I consider to be a rather regrettable frequency. In my view fewer Acts, with more thought given to each, would be an improvement. However, while we are engaged in discussions on one of the Bills, we might take the opportunity—we do not know when the next one will occur—to give adult education the status that it 1309 ought to have. I hope that the Government will seize this opportunity.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, the speeches we have heard so far are most familiar and I go along with them in that adult education is very important and is becoming increasingly important in our society. However, the issue is what the amendment is seeking to add to the Bill which is not already there.
The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, talked about people who had left school and later regretted that they had not been there as much as they should have been and therefore wanted to catch up on their education. We all know of people like that. In the Bill, further education is defined in Clause 112(2)(a) as:full-time and part-time education and training for persons over compulsory school age, other than higher education".Therefore many of the people mentioned by the noble Baroness are covered by the provisions of the Bill in any event.
However, the question is whether it should be mandatory upon a local authority to provide the facilities for the other kinds of adult education which are not defined in the Bill. That is what we are talking about. Indeed, there is a certain vagueness in what has been said about the subject. I think that we should probably wait to hear the Government's arguments, which are somewhat similar to the ones that they used in the discussion about youth work. It is just a question of whether it is possible, sensible or productive—rather than counter-productive—to define precisely what the mandatory responsibilities of local authorities are in this respect.
There is much excellent adult education going on all over the country; there is no question about that. The people who are professionally engaged in the work would like it to be a mandatory responsibility on local authorities. However, I am not sure that it would improve the situation; just as I am not so sure that it would do so as regards youth work. The teachers want it desperately and they push for it all the time. Nevertheless, I am not sure that the public does. Therefore I shall not be surprised if the Minister does not accept the amendment; nor shall I be upset because I think that very important work is going on and it will grow under the present arrangements. However, we shall see what my noble friend says.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, said that many of the arguments were familiar. Perhaps I may beg leave to offer her one which she may find a little less familiar. I wish to express my support for the amendment on the grounds of cost-effectiveness. When I taught at adult education classes, a high proportion of the people who attended belonged to one of two categories; namely, either married women whose children had grown up and left home, or people of either sex who had gone into retirement—which very often was premature retirement. Those are large categories. They are also categories in which I think we shall find a large amount of stress-related illness.
1310 Stress-related illness is something which I think is, as yet, imperfectly understood. However, I think that it is generally accepted that the sense of having something interesting and useful to do may be a great asset in avoiding the condition. I also think that the treatment of cancer or depression may cost a great deal more in terms of public money than adult education. I understand the desire of the Government to save public money but I would recommend to them the healthy maxim that a stitch in time saves nine.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, there have been many attractive and appealing speeches made on this subject and one's immediate emotion would be very much on the side of what the speeches were asking for. However, if we are going to be responsible parliamentarians, I do not think that we ought to ask for such words to be put into the statute without knowing the cost involved. Indeed, we ought to know what it will cost to place such a duty on the Government.
What would the words be? if the amendment were accepted the wording in the legislation would be:It shall be the duty of every local authority to secure the provision for their area of adequate facilities for further education and adult education".That duty will cost a great deal of money. It may be worth it, I do not know; but before we think of writing that provision into the legislation we are now about to pass, we should have some idea of what the cost will be.
I was impressed by the intervention of my noble friend Lord Eccles. He did not ask for the provision to be included. He asked the Government to give some indication of how they would meet that need in the future. I too should like to know that. At this stage to write into the Bill a duty which would be as far reaching as this, without having some indication of the cost, would be irresponsible. We should not pursue the matter.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, I support the spirit of the amendment. I shall be brief. With the greatest of respect to my noble friend, this is not a question of definition. It is not to the point that the existing provision may be satisfactory. Surely the point is what is to be the statutory status of the Bill as regards this most important aspect of education? All that I would ask is that my noble friend the Minister examines the position. With respect to my noble friend, I do not go along wholly with him on the question of cost, but it is a relevant consideration. All I hope is that my noble friend the Minister will not reject the matter out of hand.
§ Lord Parry
My Lords, there is one simple point that has not been made since I have been in the Chamber. If it was made during my absence, I apologise to the House. The whole basis of the Education Reform Bill and the emphasis of the national debate that led to it, the opposition to it and the support for it, have been engendered by the criticism that this country's education system has been failing and falling behind what the country has been expecting of it over the past 10 or 15 years. If that is true, it means that there is a young adult 1311 population that has been ill-served by its education programme during its daytime schooling. If that is so, it is necessary to build into any Education Reform Act facilities to bring back into full education those people who have been ill-served up to the age of 15. I make that point because I think that it is essential that that should be understood when the amendment is considered.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, perhaps I may intervene briefly on the subject. I was concerned by the intervention of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy. I should normally have expected her to be enthusiastically in favour of the proposal. I was somewhat taken aback by her negativism. In particular, I hope that I do not have to remind her or other noble Lords of the distinction between further education and adult education. The two are not the same, and have never been recognised as the same within statute or the education service.
The Bill defines further education, which is normally education connected with qualifications within a formal set of institutional arrangements. Adult education is normally much more informal and not necessarily related to a qualification, but that does not make it any the less educative. I believe that the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, put his finger on a point which has often troubled many of us within education; that is, the fact we have been content to look at it within its more conventional five to 21 frame. He is right. If we were starting with a blank sheet we would not write any kind of education structure in that form. It would make no sense. It would also be inequitable.
Those of us who are aware of the difference between the boy or girl, man or woman, who has the least spent on them—the five to 16 year-olds—right through to the Ph.D. students who have the most spent on them, would feel that some presumption was created that for those five to 16 year-olds who later wanted something more, something more would be made available. The Government do that anyway. Various training and other schemes enable people to come back into the system. The amendment is designed merely to recognise one particular aspect of the position. I would emphasise the bit that most noble Lords have stressed, which is that they are people who choose education. I should have thought that within the world of education not to respond to those who freely choose to be educated would be rather silly. That is why the point is important.
On the question of cost, I stand second to no one in always wanting to know what things cost. I wish that I knew more about the costs involved in the Bill. I shall not make tart remarks about comparing £200 million for CTCs while begrudging money for adult education. I am not in that mood at the moment. Nonetheless, if we are looking at cost, there are two matters to be considered. First, there is money available. Some of us argue that we would rather it was spent on adult education than elsewhere. Our real concern is the point made at the beginning by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear; that is, with the pressures that will appear in education, the danger is that adult education will be the easiest area to cut.
1312 Adding to the point made by my noble friend Lord Stewart, we are in a sense recognising and formalising one of our best developments. It is typical of our country that something grows and we do not want to recognise it. Adult education is one of our great achievements. The case for writing it into the Bill is overwhelming. I am not one of those who say "Take the matter away and bring it back". The case for at long last putting adult education formally into an education Bill is so strong that it is surprising that the Government, with all the other reforms that they have been introducing, have not taken the lead but rather have relied on us to do the job. I believe that I am speaking for many noble Lords, quite independent of party, when I say that I strongly support the amendment.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, the Government do not accept the amendments. That is not because we do not value adult education. Quite the contrary. I am happy to take this opportunity to emphasise that the Government fully recognise the importance of adult education. It provides a great many people with a great deal of benefit and pleasure. Our further education service, indeed our national life, would be poorer without it.
"Further education" is deliberately defined very broadly in Clause 112. Adult education is a part, of further education, not—I dispute the suggestion—something separate from it; and yet the amendment would have the effect of dividing adult education off as something different. Moreover, there are real difficulties about defining adult education. Does it include vocational work? Who are to count as adults? If we specify adult education in the way the amendment proposes, we risk setting up unnecessary divisions within the seamless robe of further education. The duty on LEAs to secure adequate further education already includes an implicit duty to secure adequate education for adults. So nothing would be gained by the amendment.
On Amendment No. 361, since as I said the duty to secure the provision of adequate further education includes the duty to secure adult education, LEAs should think about how best to secure such provision and the scope for co-operation with voluntary bodies. The amendment could impose an inflexible straitjacket. We seek to encourage support for éducation permanente from the institutions that provide adult education and the students whom we hope more and more to encourage to attend.
Adult education is a diverse service, which can be provided in a variety of ways depending on local circumstances. The Government believe that we ought to leave it up to LEAs to decide what will best suit local needs, and not try to specify a particular approach in the way the amendment suggests.
I have listened to the many contributions and in whatever steps we consider I shall keep in mind the suggestions that have been made. We recognise the importance of adult education, but we do not feel that the amendments present the unanswerable case that was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Peston. I therefore hope that the proposers will feel able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, I am of course very disappointed at the reply of the noble Baroness. She may believe that adult education is a part of further education; I can only say that in the past this has not been understood. If the noble Baroness were prepared to add to her definition of "further education" that the phrase includes "adult education", as normally understood, or an appropriate form of words which I shall not try to produce now, that would be altogether a different matter. However, she has not answered the point, which is of the greatest urgency and importance, that everybody has accepted that there has been no statutory obligation to provide adult education as it has normally been understood. If that is not the intention of the noble Baroness, then it would be extremely helpful if this were made clear on the face of the Bill.
One reason why I am most anxious to get it onto the face of the Bill is that on previous stages I have asked again and again what will happen to the poorer boroughs in London when the cross-financing from the wealthier boroughs to the poorer boroughs is withdrawn. I received a most helpful letter from the noble Baroness, for which I am very grateful, in which she said that the grants from central government would provide adequately for the needs of the poorer boroughs. This is a very important statement and I am extremely glad to have it. However, it all depends on how "need" is to be defined. If the phrase "adult education" could be included after "further education" in brackets or in whatever way necessary and if the provision for adult education is included when the Government are thinking about the need for the grants for adult education from central government, this would meet our point.
However, I assure the noble Baroness that, at present it would not be understood in that way. Up and down the country people do not understand "adult education" as being a part of further education. Because of that and because we have not had a reply that this change in the government thinking—if that is what it is—as the noble Baroness has put it, will not be put on the face of the Bill, I fear that I must test the opinion of the House.
§ Viscount Eccles
My Lords, with the leave of the House, and if the noble Baroness will permit me, does she not realise that outside this House and outside the department, most people think that "adult education" is quite different from "further education"? Experience shows that unless the words "adult education" are in the Bill, the Treasury will not give people any money.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I must re-emphasise that we feel that Clause 112, since it is so very broadly drawn, includes and embraces "adult education". The fact that in the past this has not been so or has not been recognised in that way is something with which we shall have to cope in helping people to understand the meaning that we give it in the Bill.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 355) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 125; Not-Contents, 135.1315
|DIVISION NO. 1|
|Addington, L.||Leatherland, L.|
|Adrian, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Airedale, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Ardwick, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Longford, E.|
|Barnett, L.||McNair, L. [Teller.]|
|Blaekstone, B.||Masham of Ilton, B.|
|Blease, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Bramall, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Briginshaw. L.||Nicol, B.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Carmichacl of Kelvingrove, L.||Oram, L.|
|Carter, L.||Parry, L.|
|Chitnis. L.||Perry of Walton, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Peston, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbredc, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||[Teller.]|
|Dainton, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|David, B.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Reilly, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Robson of Kiddington, B.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Russell, E.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Scanlon, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Seear, B.|
|Flowers, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Serota, B.|
|Galpern, L.||Shaughnessy, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Goodman, L.||Somers, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Greenhill of Harrow. L.||Stedman, B.|
|Grey, E.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Taylor of Blackburn. L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hart of South Lanark, B.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Hunt, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Hunter of Newington, L.||Walston, L.|
|Ilchester, E.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Whaddon, L.|
|Jay, L.||White, B.|
|Jeger, B.||Wigoder, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Kinnaird, L.||Winstanley, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Auckland, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Beaverbrook, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Arran, E.||Bellwin, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Layton, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Long, V.|
|Bessborough, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Blatch, B.||McFadzean, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Brookes, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Manton, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Marley, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Caccia, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Caithness, E.||Middleton, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Morris, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mottistone, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Munster, E.|
|Cox, B.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Napier of Magdâla, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Nelson, E.|
|De Freyne, L.||Norfolk, D.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Norrie, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Dormer, L.||O'Brien of Lothbury, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Effingham, E.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Pender, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Portland, D.|
|Foley, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Renton, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Gainford, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Gormanston, V.||St. John of Fawsley, L.|
|Grantchesler, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Granville of Eye, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Strange, B.|
|Harvington, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Havers, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Hives, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Hood, V.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Trafford, L.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Jessel, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Kenilworth, L.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Young, B.|
|Kimberley, E.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.10 p.m.
Baroness Faithfull had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 356:
Page 110, line 14, at end insert ("This shall include an appropriate range of education and training opportunities for persons over compulsory school age who have special educational needs").
§ The noble Baroness saids: My Lords, Amendment No. 356 deals with post-school education and training for students with special educational needs. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, and I do not intend to 1316 move this amendment or Amendments Nos. 369 and 415 in view of the Government's Amendment No. 360A. We are very grateful to Her Majesty's Government for this amendment. We are also very grateful to my noble friend the Minister. I shall not move the amendment.
§ [Amendment No. 356 not moved.]
§ The Earl of Arran moved Amendments Nos. 356A and 356B:
§ Page 110, line 15, leave out ("subsection (3) below") and insert ("the following provisions of this section").
§ Page 110, line 17, leave out from ("education") to ("and") in line 19 and insert ("for persons over compulsory school age (including vocational, social, physical and recreational training);").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendments Nos. 356A and 356B en bloc. These government amendments are designed to clarify the drafting of Clause 112. The amendments do not change the substance of the clause. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 357 not moved.]
§ The Earl of Arran moved Amendment No. 357A:
Page 110, leave out line 22 and insert—
("(2A) In this Act "further education" does not include higher education.").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Baroness David moved Amendment No. 358:
Page 110, line 22, at end insert—
("(2A) In the course of providing further education within the meaning of subsection (2) above, a local education authority shall have regard to the need to foster and develop the active participation of students, staff and the wider community, and to facilitate such participation through schemes for the proper representation of those groups on the governing bodies of institutions providing further education.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 374 and 417. Amendment No. 358 is a paving amendment. It is about representation on various governing bodies. The representation is outlined in Amendment No. 374 for higher education corporations and in Amendment No. 417 for further education establishments.
§ The purpose of the amendments is to widen representation on governing bodies. The present clauses in respect of the governing bodies of both PCFC institutions and maintained further education colleges will significantly narrow the representative base of these bodies. This is all the more serious in view of the new responsibilities given to the two sets of institutions through free standing corporate status in the case of the PCFC institutions and through devolution from the LEAs in the case of maintained further education institutions.
§ The Bill fails to acknowledge the important contribution to college government that a range of community interests and institutional representation can make, but it also does not take account of the valuable experience built up by governing bodies since their establishment in their present form by the 1986 Education (No. 2) Act. Governing bodies set up 1317 by the Education Reform Bill must be seen to be at least as accountable as their predecessors, if the credibility of the newly independent and semi-independent institutions is to be assured.
§ These amendments recognise the need for the interests of groups such as students, staff and the wider community to be represented on governing bodies. The authority has responsibility to specify the bodies, nominating representatives from business, industry, the professions or other relevant fields of employment, although these bodies have to be approved by the Secretary of State. The amendment provides that authorities should give consideration to the need for representation of the community as a whole. We attach great importance to that. So, for example, in an area where the population had a higher percentage of ethnic minority groups, the amendment would enable the authority to stipulate bodies to represent the interests of those minority groups within the community.
§ In each case, for HE in Amendment No. 374 and FE in Amendment No. 417, the local authority will draw up a scheme which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for his approval, setting out the composition of the governing bodies of each institution which it maintains. I shall not read out the provisions in each amendment as that would take up too much time. They are there for noble Lords to study if they wish. I ask noble Lords to look at the representation provisions, but I am quite sure that they will be accepted as sensible, reasonable and a broadening of what is at present proposed. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, although the Government cannot accept these amendments we accept that it is important that staff, students and the community in general should be able to participate in further education. We believe that further education is very much a local service, provided for the local community, and it is right that we should enable all those involved to play an active part. But I submit that that general principle does not require legislation.
I am very happy to endorse the view that local authorities should consider how they can best secure participation by staff, students and the community, but it should be a matter for their discretion and not something imposed from the centre. Amendment No. 358 also relates to governing bodies. Technically its effect would, 1 suspect, be very limited, as such a general statement would not override the specific provisions in Clause 141 on the composition of college governing bodies. In any case it is unnecessary. The Government have made clear their view that college governing bodies should normally include governors drawn from the staff and the students. This is stated in the draft circular of guidance on governing bodies which we issued on 5th May.
It may be that some would prefer a higher proportion of staff, student and community governors than the Government propose, but our view is that in future the prime consideration must be to ensure that governing bodies are efficient decision- 1318 making bodies, able to exercise effectively the important responsibilities that would be delegated to them. Their size and composition must reflect that. Governing bodies will still have a representational function, but that function cannot override the need for effectiveness in decision-making. There are, after all, plenty of other ways of securing the participation of staff, students and the community in further education besides representation on governing bodies. For these reasons we cannot accept these amendments.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, will she say whether she agrees with the final part of Amendment No. 374? That states:(c) that none of the categories of representatives set out in (a) or(b) above shall number less than two persons".We think it is important that there should be two members of staff and two students at the institutions on the governing bodies.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, I believe that I have explained on previous occasions the need for keeping those bodies to a reasonable size in order that they may be at their most effective. Again, while there is nothing to prevent representatives of more than one of the categories suggested being on a governing body, we should not wish to impose that as a requirement.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I am disappointed with that answer. I believe that the breadth which is suggested in the amendments and the representation which would be assured by having at least two respresentatives of each of the categories would be a great addition. However, I shall not press the amendment. 1 beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.
Baroness David moved Amendment No. 359:
Page 110, line 26, leave out from ("which") to end of line 28 and insert ("is designated as a school").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 359, which is a paving amendment, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 364 to 368. Amendment No. 359 deals with sixth form colleges and tertiary colleges. By repealing Section 42 of the 1944 Act, the Bill will remove the present basis for determining what an FE institution is, as opposed to a school. At present, an FE institution is one which is established in accordance with the scheme of further education under Section 4 of the 1944 Act. It is necessary to be able to distinguish between a school and an FE institution in order to establish how the institution is governed, the conditions of service for staff, the financial rules and the kinds of provision the institution can offer. Where post-16 provision is separated from other provision that may be made in a school—that is, a sixth form college—or in an FE institution—that is, a tertiary college— provision in the school is meant to be full-time for pupils within the appropriate age range.
§ The Bill recognises implicitly that a school—that is, a sixth form college—might admit some part-time students or some adults in that only a significant proportion of such students would determine that the 1319 school should become an FE institution. However, it also follows from the Bill that a sixth form college established as a school could not legally admit a significant number of such students were the need or demand to arise. If an LEA wished an existing sixth form college to be able to submit significant numbers of part-time and adult students or wished to set up a new post-16 institution that was able to do so, as well as going through the statutory procedures involving change in school provision, it would have to be able to demonstrate that there would be significant part-time and adult enrolment from the outset, following approval of the change. In this context, "significant" probably means around 10 per cent. of enrolment.
§ The provisions of the Bill are therefore fairly inflexible. We wish to change that. Existing or new institutions will be trapped on one side or the other of the divide. Therefore, the amendments seek to introduce greater flexibility in the arrangements for determining whether an establishment is a school or an FE institution.
§ Amendments Nos. 364 to 367 seek to change the basis of the determination from the actual provision made to the provision that is offered. The emphasis is thus shifted from a proportion of enrolments in given categories to the opportunities which the institution offers to potential students of any age. Amendment No. 368 does not go that far in that it simply allows time for part-time and adult enrolments to be built up in the case of a new tertiary college, rather than relying on a proportion of such work at the outset. It thus introduces a measure of flexibility and also a more practical approach.
§ Any proposal to establish a new tertiary college or to convert a sixth form college into a tertiary college will require statutory procedures to be followed since it will involve the removal of sixth forms from existing schools or the closure of an existing school. Where the institution does not from the outset take over all or part of the existing FE provision, it may not be possible to demonstrate that there will be a significant proportion of part-time and adult work from the outset. Building work may be necessary to provide specialist facilities. The market for courses may have to be developed.
§ It is therefore more helpful to be able to refer to forecast enrolment numbers some three years ahead rather than the numbers that there will be from the outset. That avoids the sort of trap whereby an existing sixth form college could not legally develop a significant proportion of other FE provision but, because it would not have a significant proportion, cannot become a tertiary college.
§ Where FE provision is added to traditional sixth form provision it will take time for FE numbers to build up and for there to be enrolments in the second and third year of FE courses. Where specialist provision is required, there may be building programme delays and so on. However, if accepted by the Government on those grounds, the provision would also have the additional benefit of giving some flexibility to LEAs in their planning as a by-product.
§ In effect, Amendments Nos. 364 to 367 are designed to create much more local flexibility in 1320 determining whether an establishment is to be a sixth form college or a tertiary college. They seek to reinstate th [e flexibility that has, in practice, previously existed. Amendment No. 368 represents a practical fall-back position which gives some room for manoeuvre and also deals more realistically with possible future situations.
§ We want to see flexibility and we want sixth form colleges to be able to change fairly easily into tertiary colleges. In cases where that has happened, the change has usually been successful. Tertiary colleges give tremendous opportunities to a local population for part-time study and also for adult enrolments. I hope that the Government can accept these simple amendments. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, I strongly support the amendments. It is very important that nothing should be done to stop or to make more difficult the development of tertiary colleges. The amendments are not in any way an attack on sixth form colleges. However, they express our belief that tertiary colleges have a great deal to offer a great many people. Youngsters leaving school at the age of 16 often feel they wish to mix in the more adult world of the tertiary college. Those of us who are in contact with them will know that they very often say that the mixture of people on part-time courses, studying all manner of things which youngsters may not be aware of when they leave school, can be revealing and stimulating.
It may well be that many sixth form colleges will stay just as they are. However, it would be a great pity to impede in any way the development of tertiary colleges or the ability of a sixth form college, where it believes on the basis of its own experience that the wider opportunities of a tertiary college and the greater degree of part-time study, together with the mixture of many people of different age groups, would be beneficial to provide those great educational benefits. We do not wish to see any obstacles put in the way of colleges which wish to do that. I hope that the Government will accept the amendments.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, we discussed at some length at Committee stage the boundary between the secondary and further education sectors. After that debate, I wrote to the noble Baronesses, Lady David and Lady Seear, explaining the Government's position in more detail. I shall therefore try to be brief in speaking to the amendments.
The Government's view is that it is importantt to have a clear boundary between the two sectors. The whole of education law is predicated on the assumption that schools and FE colleges are different things, and that for each given institution it is possible to tell whether it is a school or a college. If we leave the boundary hazy we shall cause ourselves all sorts of problems.
Yet that is what this group of amendments seeks to do. Amendment No. 359 speaks of institutions being "designated" as schools. But there is no mechanism for designating schools. And the Government deliberately decided against creating such a mechanism, because we believe that it is better that 1321 the criteria for determining on which side of the boundary a given institution falls should be as clear and objective as possible, and that we should not leave the matter to the discretion of the Secretary of State or anyone else.
Amendment No. 368 would give newly-established colleges three years to attain the pattern of provision which Clause 112 now requires for colleges. Again, the Government do not believe this makes sense. Schools and colleges are different things. Even sixth forms and tertiary colleges are different things. They are designed to cater for different types of students, and they are subject to different legal requirements. An LEA ought to decide at the outset what sort of institution is needed in its area, and make sure that the pattern of provisions made in the institution matches that conception.
I should draw attention to the fact that Clause 112 already allows some latitude to take account of what a new college is intended to provide as well as what it actually provides on day one. Wherever a question arises about whether a college is making significant part-time or 19-plus provision it falls to be determined by the Secretary of State. In making that determination, it would be reasonable to have some regard to the sort of provision which the institution is designed to offer. But the amendment goes too far in allowing a period of three years during which the Secretary of State would have to give an institution the benefit of the doubt.
In general, the Government do not believe that this group of amendments is necessary. Things might be different if' large numbers of institutions were going to have to reshape themselves to come into line with the requirements of the clause; but they are not. We know of only one FE college which does not already meet the criteria of classification as a college. We have discussed with the relevant local education authority what should be done and have explained that all that is needed is that the college should make itself look more like a college by providing for more part-timers and adults.
I should like to take this opportunity to respond to the further concern that has been expressed that Clause 112 as now drafted would prevent the establishment of any more tertiary colleges. That is not the intention of the clause; nor its effect. The Government recognise that many tertiary colleges do a valuable job and that the tertiary college approach is appropriate in certain circumstances. As now, if a local education authority wants to propose a reorganisation that replaces schools' sixth forms with a tertiary college, it will be free to do so. As now, my right honourable friend will consider each such case on its merits. All that the clause prevents is the transformation of a sixth form college into a tertiary college with no statutory process of consultation and approval by the Secretary of State.
The Government believe these amendments are really not necessary and that they would replace what is now a reasonably clear and objective boundary between the sectors with an indistinct and confusing one. I therefore hope the amendments will be withdrawn.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I am disappointed with the answer. One cannot help feeling that somehow there is a certain hostility towards tertiary colleges, as the Government are so unwilling to be flexible on this. It really should be an easy transition. In fact, of course, I think it is a terrible pity that further education regulations and school regulations cannot be gathered together, but I understand that is very difficult in view of the conditions of service of the teachers, and so on. However, I consider the Government are being inflexible and I shall test the opinion of the House.
§ 4.32 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 359) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 101; Not-Contents, 138.1323
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Addington, L.||Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.|
|Ardwick, L.||Longford, E.|
|Aylcstone, L.||McNair, L. [Teller.]|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Masham of Ilton, B.|
|Burnett, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Birk, B.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Mulley, L.|
|Blease, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Bottomley, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Briginshaw, L.||O'Neill of the Maine, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Oram, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Parry, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Perry of Walton, L.|
|Carter, L.||Peston, L.|
|Chitnis, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.|
|David, B.||Porritt, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Reilly, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Roskill, L.|
|Ezra, L.||Russell, E.|
|Falkland, V.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Flowers, L.||Scanlon, L.|
|Foot, L.||Seear, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Sefton of Garston, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Serota, B.|
|Glenamara, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Goodman, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Grey, E.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Swann, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Tonypandy, V.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Hart of South Lanark, B.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Jacques, L.||Walston, L.|
|Jay, L.||Warnock, B.|
|Jeger, B||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||White, B.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Lawrence, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Winstanley, L,|
|Lloyd of Hampstead, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Jenkin of Roding, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Johnston of Rockport, L.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Kaberry of Adel, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Kimball, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Kimberley, E.|
|Arran, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Lauderdale, E.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Layton, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Long, V.|
|Beloff, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Belstead, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Bessborough, E.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Borthwick, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Manton, L.|
|Brookes, L.||Marley, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Broxboume, L.||Mersey, V.|
|Butterworth, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Munster, E.|
|Carnock, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Nelson, E.|
|Cowley, E.||Newcastle, Bp.|
|Cox, B.||Norfolk, D.|
|Craigavon, V.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||O'Brien of Lothbury, L.|
|De Freyne, L.||Onslow, E.|
|Denham, L. [Teller]||Orkney, E.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Dundee, E.||Pender, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Portland, D.|
|Erroll of Hale, L.||Pym, L.|
|Faithful, B.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Renton, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Foley, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Fortescue, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Gainford, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Sandford, L.|
|Gormanston, V.||Selkirk, E.|
|Grantchester, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Greenway, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Harvington, L.||Trafford, L.|
|Havers, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Henley, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Hives, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hood, V.||Wise, L.|
|Hooper, B.||Wolfson, L.|
|Hunter of Newington, L.||Young, B.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the neg disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ The Earl of Arran moved Amendments Nos. 359A, 359B and 359C:
§ Page 110, line 31, leave out ("ortraining").1324
§ Page 110, line 34, leave out ("or training").
Page 110, line 36, leave out subsection (5) and insert—
("(5) The duty of a local education authority under subsection (1) above extends, in the case of further education of a vocational kind, to the provision of facilities for continuing education for persons already in employment or already engaged in a vocation as well as to the provision of facilities for education with a view to entry into any employment or vocation.").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ [Amendment No. 360 not moved.]
§ Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 360A:
Page 111, line 15, at end insert
("8A) In fulfilling that duty a local education authority shall also have regard to the requirements of persons over compulsory school age who have learning difficulties.
(8A) Subject to subsection (8C) below, for the purposes of subsection (8A above a person has a "learning difficulty" if—
(8C) A person is not to be taken as having a learning difficulty solely because the language (or form of the language) in which he is, or will be, taught is different from a language (or form of a language) which has at any time been spoken in his home.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in Committee the Government undertook to give further consideration to a group of amendments, some of which had reference to special educational needs in further and higher education. The Bill already places upon local education authorities a duty to secure the provision of adequate facilities for further education. Inherent in this is a responsibility to have regard to the generality of need in the authority's area. There is no implication that special educational needs are or may be excluded from consideration. Moreover, the Bill places beyond all doubt the duty on local education authorities to provide full-time education for all under 19-year-olds who seek it, subject only to the right of an LEA to choose whether to do so in school or in further education.
§ Nevertheless, the Government are conscious that a number of your Lordships and other parties are firmly of the opinion that it would be well to make specific mention of special educational needs on the face of the law relative to further education. This would meet two concerns. It would make clear the responsibility of local education authorities to have concern for special educational needs and it would recognise formally the entitlement to consideration of those with special educational needs. The Government are ready to accommodate these concerns. The amendment will have this effect. As will be observed, it does not specify how LEAs are to discharge the duty or to what level they are to consider making provision for those with special needs. It does not infringe the discretion of LEAs, but it makes clear the compass within which that discretion operates.
§ I recognise that the amendment does not go as far as Amendments Nos. 356 and 369. The first of these would point to a particular level of provision by local authorities for persons with special educational needs. The second, not on its own but with detailed extensions, would cause the assessment and 1325 statementing procedures applied under the 1981 Act to pupils in schools to be applied to students in further education. The Government considered these matters, but do not believe that it would be right to reduce local discretion in this field. We trust that, with the addition of the amendment that I now move, your Lordships will feel happy that we have gone some way to meet the arguments put forward. I beg to move.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Lord Campbell of Alloway
My Lords, the amendment is to be welcomed as far as it goes. However, as my noble friend hinted a moment ago, it does not go all the way. It is welcome particularly having regard to the definition of learning difficulty in such a way as to include speech therapy in an appropriate case and to appeal by statute the erroneous decision in the Oxfordshire case, to which I referred in Committee at cols. 435 and 436, when supporting the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock. My noble friend, speaking on Amendment No. 274A, then said that she would consider the position.
Why does it not go far enough? First, there is now the requirement that the local education authorityshall …have regard to the requirements of (such) persons".However, there is no duty to make due provision. A duty to have regard to the requirements of persons is not a duty to provide speech therapy. The test is this. lf, for example, under subsection (8B)(a) there is a significantly greater difficulty, and if under subsection (8B)(b) the child is hindered or prevented from making use of the general facility unless to an appropriate degree, say, speech therapy is provided, where is the duty to provide?
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt my noble friend. I believe that he is speaking to Amendment No. 424, which appears later on the Marshalled List in relation to speech therapists. The amendment that I have moved deals with a different and wider point.
Lord Cambell of Alloway
My Lords, I am obliged to my noble friend. I am aware of Amendment No. 424. I am merely testing by an example the incidence of the clause because one cannot take all the examples; one can take only one. Taking this example, if my analysis is correct, my main point is correct that there is no duty to provide.
I have been contending, and I still contend, that there should be a duty to provide. Somerset, for example, operates its affairs on the basis that there is a duty to provide. Other LEAs do not. Where one has "shall have regard to", how is that to be enforced? It is virtually unenforceable by judicial review. It is surely right therefore, if we are to have a national curriculum, that there should be appropriate provision for special educational needs or it is not worthy of the name of the concept. That must be common ground.
What is not common ground is what is appropriate. The point between us is this. I 1326 respectfully suggest that "shall … have regard to"—be it unenforceable by judicial review to all intents and purposes unless there is a totally absurd, ridiculous or biased decision, but in the ordinary way totally unenforceable—is not appropriate provision.
Although I welcome the amendment, I ask my noble friend to consider whether in this regard there should not also be a subsection (8D) added between now and Third Reading so that the duty is not merely to "have regard to" but to "have regard to and provide".
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, welcomed the amendment in advance, but I thank my noble friend the Minister very much for it.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, we are thankful for small mercies, too. When the Government give something it is indeed agreeable. I too am sorry that in a way it is a rather weak amendment. The phrase, "shall also have regard" is not very strong.
I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, will remember when the 1981 Act was going through this House how hard many of us tried to have something put into the Bill at least for the 16 to 19 year-olds so that there should be some statutory obligation to provide for them. If one has been a governor of a school for either the physically or mentally handicapped, one is all too aware that a terrible situation very often arises when those young people reach the age of 16. They may be kept on for a short time, but eventually they have to be pushed out of the school and very often there is nothing but an adult training centre to which they can go. I am very sorry that there is not an absolute duty to provide something; but, as I say, we are thankful for small mercies, and this at least is a nod in the right direction.
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, I intervene to say that I am grateful to see this advance on the 1981 Act. It is a very real measure of the influence of your Lordships' House on the legislative process. I am very glad indeed to hear that it has been welcomed both by my noble friend Lady Faithfull and by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth). I too welcome it very much.
§ Baroness Hooper
My Lords, the intention behind this amendment is to make explicit that the duty inherent in subsection (1) of this clause has reference to students with special educational needs as well as to other students. I feel that the suggestion of my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway to add to that would build on the original clause in a way that was not intended by the movers of amendments at a different stage. I must say that I am very glad to note the welcome that has been given to this amendment. I commend it to the House.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ [Amendments Nos. 361 and 362 not moved.]
Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 363:
Page 111, line 32, after ("sector") insert ("or within the sector of any body which replaces the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council, or is merged with it)").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No. 363 is coupled with Amendments Nos. 406, 411 and 412 and is by way of being a paving amendment to those later ones, all of them being probing amendments which seek to clarify certain aspects of this part of the Bill, although not all aspects of the Bill are of equal importance of course. In introducing the amendments perhaps I may remind the House of the achievements of the polytechnics and the higher education colleges in the provision of higher education. I should also like noble Lords to bear in mind that they were and are for the moment still local authority institutions and show what our local authorities can achieve.
§ I should also like to pay tribute, as I have done before in your Lordships' House, to the Council for National Academic Awards which has been unique as a validating body in education. It has helped to raise and maintain—and obviously more appropriately to validate—standards in the polytechnics and colleges. Nonetheless, there are questions that must be asked about this whole sector. There are questions about which those in the universities in particular are rather uneasy. I suppose that they stem from what is now the acknowledged fact that the cost of a graduate in a polytechnic is distinctly lower than the cost of a graduate in a university. That is so, having made full allowance—indeed more than full allowance—for all the other research and scholarship activities undertaken in the universities. The universities are dearer institutions compared with the polytechnics. People in my profession especially find that a problem which, to say the least, needs further analysis.
§ A related question concerns the reason why up to now the methods of financing the two sectors have also been so different. If one looks at the UGC and the corresponding NAB body, their documentation, approach, and so on, have been entirely different. It seems to me therefore that we have already had before us an agenda for action, an agenda for analysis and an agenda for policy making; but that when we move on to the Bill with its PCFC and UFC then that agenda is brought even more clearly into focus.
§ The purpose of my amendments is to make us think about these matters. I hasten to add that not for one moment am I suggesting that we are ready to have a single system of higher education. I am certainly not of the opinion that all higher educational institutions should be the same—clones of each other, as it were. I do not think that we are yet ready for a common institution which would be a funding council for all those bodies.
§ The reason for these amendments is twofold. I suppose that the standard question is: why is there still a difference? More to the point is the question: when will the time come when we ought to have a unified system? By "unified" I do not mean a system in which everybody is the same; but, if I may refer specifically to Amendment No. 411, a system in which for similar courses there are: "common principles of funding". The important word to note is "principles". Those are my questions, and I believe that they are extremely important ones.1328
§ One way of avoiding the question is that which the noble Lord, Lord Annan, would probably take if he were now in his seat (and I hope that I am not being improper by mentioning it, because he has spoken and written on this subject many times); namely, to argue that standards are not equal and that some degrees are better than others. I do not accept that view for one moment. I believe that a degree of a given standard is of the same worth and that in particular the CNAA has been successful in validating standards.
§ Many years ago I wrote a number of articles pointing out that I had learned through my membership of the CNAA and from my knowledge of what happened in polytechnics that, if anything, the worry was that some polytechnic degrees were of a higher academic standard than was being met in certain universities. However, I do not press that point. The key point is that broadly speaking they are much the same. So far as I am concerned, we cannot find a way out of the differences of funding and of provision via the route of standards.
§ Those are the questions that I put. Essentially, the point of my amendments is to show that we have to face those questions, and in due course start to consider the possibility of having a single funding council. In the meantime, at the very least there are two matters that we need to consider. One concerns the notion of common principles and the understanding that the two bodies—the UFC and the PCFC—so far as possible ought to work together co-operatively and should try to evolve common principles. The principles are not there for financing anyway. In my view, there has been far too much ad hoc financing of higher education. The other consideration may be that one may say, "Well, any sensible Secretary of State would do that anyway". As you know, I always operate on the assumpti'm that we do not have a sensible Secretary of State and that is why we need legislation; because one does not have a sensible anything is the reason why one needs legislation. Be that as it may, my Amendment No. 406 proposes that we ought to review the operations of the PCFC some three to five years from now. I should like to take that point further and do that with the UFC as well.
§ If the noble Baroness or the noble Lord will rise and say, "Well, a sensible Secretary of State would do that"—I beg your pardon, I believe that it is the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor who intends to do that—that will satisfy me and I shall accept that it will be done on the basis of sense. But my real point is that we must monitor our actions with a view to moving forward. Those are the kinds of remarks that I wish to make.
§ I hope that I do not have to say that these are genuinely probing amendments. I have no intention of dividing the House on them and it may well be that I must accept that some of them are unanswerable at this time and must wait for an answer; but I believe that this is an extremely important topic that is worthy of the consideration of your Lordships' House. I beg to move.
§ 5 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
My Lords, I begin by accepting that the matters that 1329 the noble Lord, Lord Peston, has raised are extremely important, and that the two particular questions that he has posed certainly require consideration. However, we have to consider our progress.
At the present moment there is no statutory provision in relation to the funding of universities. Some people have raised a question about whether it is necessary to make even that progress. We have therefore sought in this Bill to put the universities' funding on a proper statutory basis with legislative provisions applying to them which we hope are reasonably plain. We have sought to treat the polytechnics in a similar way, recognising, as the noble Lord has done in his approach to this, the tremendous contribution that the polytechnics have made and do make in our education system.
It would certainly have been an option to set up a body which tried to fund the whole lot. However, the history of the matter—the present distinctions between the two types of institution and so on—has to be recognised. Therefore the Secretary of State and the Government have proposed in this legislation the two distinct funding councils. It is clear that there will be much co-operation between them but they are distinct because the universities and the polytechnics are different historically, have different requirements, and —as the noble Lord, Lord Peston, mentioned—historically have had rather distinct levels of funding.
A detailed discussion of the precise reasons for that would not be appropriate here. I agree with the noble Lord that even after one makes fair allowance for research and the like it is not altogether easy to see exactly where the differences lie. However, it is reasonably recognised that there are differences.
The various amendments that are referred to in this grouping envisage the possibility of these two funding councils either becoming one, in the fullness of time, or having some common principles of funding. The Government do not rule out the possibility of development but at the present stage we have a very big Bill which has attempted a great deal. Some may be inclined to think that the Bill is perhaps too big, attempting too much at once. However, the future must be left for development.
We believe that it is right to provide a distinct structure for funding the two branches of this important part of our education system. As the statutory bodies develop, the matter is one for Parliament to consider. If that is right, then the correct approach is that these funding councils will remain distinct, each co-operating with the other and considering what the other does, under the ultimate responsibility of the Secretary of State to Parliament. One then sees how matters develop. We do not have a crystal ball. It is very hard to see precisely what the future may be. In due time Parliament may think it right to make an alteration. However, at the moment we feel that this is the right approach. Therefore we feel that none of these amendments should at present be accepted. We understand fully the important questions that they raise but we feel that the time is not ripe for them.
Perhaps the amendment on the common principles of funding calls for the closest consideration. To impose that structure on the two councils at this stage would, in the Government's view, be premature. 1330 Unless these were fairly closely defined it would be quite hard to see how they applied. For the reasons that I have given, our judgment is that this is a rather delicate, historical development. It has not yet been fully analysed because the statutory basis for analysis is not yet in the statute book. As we now hope to take important steps in that direction, we hope that the future may well yield some interesting ground for further development. I am sure that Parliament has not finished with universities or with polytechnics when this Bill receives Royal Assent. We must leave some work for another day.
§ Baroness Blackstone
My Lords, is the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor able to comment a little more on the desirability of some kind of independent review which might monitor the work of the funding councils? One of the characteristics of this Bill is that it sets up much new machinery with new functions and new roles. I believe it is commonly understood that it is a very good practice in government to build in some kind of mechanism for reviewing new organisations to see whether they have fulfilled their objectives, or whether there is need for some adjustment or change.
I am very sympathetic with all that the noble and learned Lord has said about the relationship between what has in the past been called the public sector institutions and the universities. It is a sensitive relationship. At the same time, it is true that the institutions have become rather more similar. The distinctions that existed some 15 or 20 years ago are much less clear than they were.
In the light of those factors, it seems to me highly desirable that we should at least think about reviewing the work of the funding councils in, say, five years.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, with the leave of the House, after some interval it may be appropriate to have such a review. However, the initiative for that must be generated by the way that the developments proceed. It is very hard to say at the moment exactly what period of time would make such a review right. Certainly the Government are by no means ruling out the possibility of a review. There will be a certain amount of monitoring available from the accounts of the funding councils. One would be able to see how things are developing to some extent.
While we do not rule out the possibility of review in perhaps five years or longer, we do not think it appropriate at this stage to try to fix now—as we would be required to do by putting it into the statutory provision—any particular time. This is a natural growth. It would be natural to effect a review of the situation at some period yet to be determined in the light of growth.
In the light of these responses, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, will feel that the points he has made are matters to which the Government have given very close consideration, and will continue to do so.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his reply. It seems to be constructive and encouraging. I am 1331 certain that the Secretary of State will have listened to what we had to say and will at least prod the relevant bodies in the right direction in due course.
The noble and learned Lord is quite right. One or two of us may return to this theme in the course of the years to see whether what we said today is remembered. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 364 to 369 not moved.]
Lord Peston had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 370:
After Clause 112 insert the following new clause:
§ ("Purpose of and duty to provide, higher education.
§ —(1) The statutory system of public education shall be organised in four progressive stages to be known as primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education.
§ (2) Accordingly the following section (which—
- (a) re-states the duty of local education authorities in relation to the first three stages;
- (b) separates that re-statement from the other parts of the section; and
- (c) provides for the duty of the Secretary of State in relation to the fourth stage);
Stages and purposes of statutory system of education.
§ 7.—(1) The statutory system of public education shall he organised in four progressive stages to be known as primary education, secondary education, futher education, and higher education.
§ (2) It shall be the duty of the local education authority for every area, so far as their powers extend, to contribute towards the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community by securing that efficient education throughout the first three stages shall be available to meet the needs of the population of their area.
§ (3) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, so far as his powers extend, to contribute towards the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of society by securing that efficient higher education shall be available to meet the needs of the people of England and Wales.
§ (4) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, discharged by him through the Funding Councils estabished by this Act, to secure adequate facilities for higher education, that is to say, education provided by means of a course of any description mentioned in Schedule 4 to this Act, or by means of any other activity funded in accordance with this Act by the Funding Councils, which—
- (a) provides instruction in skills;
- (b) promotes the general powers of the mind;
- (c) advances knowledge and learning;
- (d) facilitates adjustment to technological, economic and social change;
- (e) meets individual needs for personal development;
- (f) assists in the transmission and maintenance of standards of citizenship;
§ (5) The higher education referred to in subsection (3) above includes in particular any of the following—
- (a) full-time and part-time academic and vocational educational or training; and
- (b) full-time and part-time social and physical and recreational education or training;
§ (including, in the case of vocational education or training, continuing education or training for persons already in employment or already engaged in a vocation as well as education or training for entry into any employment or vocation)".").1332
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that I can deal with this very briefly. As noble Lords are aware, we have raised this matter before. I wish to place on record one or two disagreements with the Government on the matter.
§ It seemed to me, on reflection, that the amendment had more to offer than the Government were willing to recognise. This is a major Bill. Many of us may dislike parts of it, but as a Bill it will undoubtedly represent a great achievement within education. It seems a pity therefore that the Government have not taken the opportunity, 44 years on from the great 1944 Act, to provide within it the missing parts of the 1944 Act which are essentially to do with the definition of, and the obligation to provide, higher education. I say that with regret and with sadness. The amendment offered a positive and broadly correct statement of higher education and its definition. It does not seem to me that the 1944 Act does that. I believe everybody recognised that.
§ It does not seem to me that the workaday statements in the Bill are satisfactory for the job in hand. Having said that as a generalised moan, I leave it there and will not pursue the matter further.
§ [Amendment No. 370 not moved.]
§ Schedule 5 [The higher education corporations]:
Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 371:
Page 201, line 42, leave out ("twenty-four") and insert ("twenty-five").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I understand that it would be for the convenience of the House if I were to speak to Amendments Nos. 375 to 379 inclusive with this amendment. These amendments deal with the concern about the composition of the bodies that we all recognise will play a very important part in the future life of higher education in this country. I refer to the Universities Funding Council and the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council. Other noble Lords have already sought to suggest to the Government that perhaps we can move the deckchairs around on the deck; not necessarily changing the numbers substantially but making suggestions for changes in the composition of the various bodies.
§ On this matter I have been advised by the Association of Polytechnic Teachers. It is concerned that the representation of the academic staff is wholly inadequate to allow a proper input and flow of information concerning the academic function. Some care has been taken with the initial composition of these bodies to present as faithfully as possible the constituent parts of the life that will be affected. Nevertheless the burden of the amendments is to increase the number of academic nominees who will serve on the bodies.
In the schedule on page 202 we have in lines 29 and 30 the definition of "academic nominee" as,
a teacher at the institution nominated by the academic board.
§ I am asking the Governnment to look kindly upon the anxiety of those who consider that they have a 1333 claim to better representation so that they can fulfil the Government's wishes in the early life of these new boards. 1 beg to move.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, the boards of governors will he responsible for the overall strategy of the institutions. They will need to be small and cohesive enough to take key decisions. They have to include a strong voice for lay members, to ensure that the institutions are responsive to the wider world, and particularly to the needs of employers. I believe that we all agree with that.
Equally, there is a long and respected tradition that academic institutions include a representative element in their governing bodies. The Government's proposals in Schedule 5 try to balance these objectives.
As the House will know, it has been argued that our proposals to limit the size of the boards do not go far enough. Some have suggested, indeed an amendment was put down at Committee on the point, and others have argued, that our plans went too far and that the boards should be as representative of staff, students and other bodies as many governing bodies are at present. It is clear that no solution to this problem is perfect. If I have understood the amendments correctly, the noble Lord has sought to offset the effect of his proposal to increase the number of academic board nominees by removing one of the local authority nominees. That at first sight would not be particularly attractive to the local authority interests.
The Bill allows a minimum of 12 appointed members and specifies a maximum of 25. We decided that 25 was the maximum consistent with the need for an effective decision-making body. As there is to be an independent majority, this puts a limit on the number of nominated members.
Similar arguments to those made for this amendment could be adduced in aid of other interests. The proposal for four mandatory academic board nominees will effectively mean that boards of governors can be no smaller than 18 members, appreciably more than the minimum allowed in the Bill. This would severely reduce the flexibility deliberately provided in the schedule.
Institutions will need to maintain good communications with their academic staff both on academic matters—through the academic board—and on staff matters. But this does not require a strong phalanx of staff members on the board of governors, as the amendments provide. Other communication and liaison channels are also important. As part of this, the Government amended the Bill in the Commons to make it clear that each institution is to have an academic board.
The amendments upset the balance and flexibility of the Government's proposals. While I understand that the interests that this amendment seeks to serve would like to have more representation, I believe that what they are asking for can be as effectively obtained by other methods. I therefore feel unable to support this amendment and the others to which the noble 1334 Lord has spoken. I hope that he may find it convenient to accept this conclusion.
§ Lord Graham of Edmonton
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for taking time and care in explaining the raison d'être for the current composition of the boards. As he fairly points out, no matter how one juggles to give someone an advantage, if one keeps to the numbers someone will be disadvantaged. It it not an easy job. I simply warmed to the suggestion that was made to me that bodies of this kind ought to have a greater representation of those who actually teach in the institutions without remotely, by one wit, denigrating the value of the contribution that can he made by the various other bodies.
As the noble and learned Lord will appreciate, there are those outside the House who have anxieties in these matters. They have been expressed. The Government's case has been made. It will be considered and perhaps at a later stage I may need to come back. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Morton of Shuna moved Amendment No. 372:
Page 201, line 43, after ("Schedule") insert ("including not less than two and not more than four members appointed by the governing body to respresent the local community").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment that the boards of higher education of institutions should include not less than two and not more than four members appointed to represent the local community, we return to a debate which we had in Committee on 16th May at cols. 102 to 106 in the Official Report.
A higher education institution of this kind, a corporation, is very important to the local community. I trust that no one in this House will consider that the local community is not interested in having such an institution and in supporting it. The constitution of the board provides that:
up to thirteen … shall be persons appearing …to have experience of, and to have shown capacity in, industrial, commercial or employment matters or the practice of any profession.".
Considering that the maximum number of people on the board is to be 24, the Government's intention is that there should be a majority of such persons. They are not necessarily representative of all strands of the local community. One can see that much of the community is left out. I move the amendment in order to ensure that the community is represented.
§ In replying at the Committee stage, the noble and learned Lord said that the community was not a very specific concept. I find that statement from the noble and learned Lord very surprising. I believe that both he and I will recognise that in various parts of Scotland the community is a well-known and well-recognised concept. I should be surprised if that were not also true of England and Wales. Perhaps it is a reflection of the idea which sometimes seems to permeate some people's thought—that there is no such thing as a community, only individuals. I believe that that also is demonstrably false.1335
§ The noble and learned Lord also said that the inclusion in the independent category of community representatives who do not have strong links in business would detract from the fact that at least half the membership had to be drawn from business and commerce. It does not appear to me that, if the minority must include representatives of the local community, it detracts in any way from the majority. If those experienced in business and commerce are to be so frightened of the local community I do not believe that they will be effective representatives of business and commerce.
§ I suggest to the House that this amendment has merit and I beg to move.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I replied to a similar amendment moved by the noble Lord in Committee. He has quoted somewhat extensively from the reasons that I gave on that occasion. No doubt I could improve on them even more if I took up the time of your Lordships' House.
He said that I might possibly be under the impression that there is no such thing as a community but only individuals. As it happens, I am not under such a misapprehension. I am very much of the view that there are individual responsibilities and that those individuals may make up one or more communities. The point that I was seeking to make in the passage to which he has referred was that it is not easy to identify the community which should be associated with a particular institution.
The noble Lord took the Scottish position and, although it is not of particular relevance here, for the purpose of illustration it may suffice. For example, if one has an institution in Aberdeen, what is the local community? Does it include the whole of the Highlands up to Caithness and Sutherland? For some purposes it would. I believe that the community which has an interest in one major institution in Aberdeen would go as far north as that and probably a good deal further, to Orkney and Shetland. On the other hand, it could well be that the local community in Aberdeen would be regarded as a much smaller unit. That is the point that I was making. It was not that there is no such thing as "the community" but that the noble Lord's amendment does not seek to define it. It makes no provision for defining it by reference to particular people.
As I said in Committee, and 1 could repeat it if necessary, the provisions in the Bill give considerable scope for representation of local interests. I do not believe that the amendment in this form will advance the matter any further. Assured that I believe in the community, as well as in the individual, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, before the noble Lord decides what he will do with the amendment, I should like to say with great diffidence and humility that I found the noble and learned Lord's difficulty about the community to be somewhat exaggerated. After all, nearly all universities and other institutions of higher education recruit their students from practically the whole of Britain. Nevertheless, they 1336 have on their governing bodies representatives of the local community.
I should like to quote that notorious and amiable example, the University of Kent. To our immense advantage, we have all the MPs who represent the county of Kent. By a curious mistake they are all Tories but we regard Kent as part of our community. I fully appreciate what the noble and learned Lord has said about being precise but I do not believe it to be so difficult. Most people will be content to have local people and I go so far as to say that any members of the community are better than none.
I do not find the concept of "community" much more difficult than the concept of "business". I do not understand how one defines businessmen and I believe that their position is exaggerated in the Bill. However, I do not object to their being appointed to such bodies. I believe that the thought behind the amendment is most worthy of consideration. While it may not be a matter to be pressed at the moment, I personally hope that the Government will give more thought to it.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, I was glad to hear the noble and learned Lord's statement that he believes that there is such a thing as the community. I believe that it is fairly obvious that the particular community of the various types of institution will differ. If one were dealing with an institution in Aberdeen covering agricultural research it would have a wider community than that of Robert Gordon's Institute. However, either organisation would be perfectly willing and able to recognise its own community. That is the point that the amendment sought to make, and therefore there could not be a definition of "community".
I am disappointed in the noble and learned Lord's reply but I do not think that it is worth testing the opinion of the House on this matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn
§ Lady Kinloss moved Amendment No. 373:
Page 201, line 45, at end insert ("; and
(c) one shall have special knowledge of and concern for provision for people with special educational needs, and regard shall be had to the desirability of that member being a person with a disability.").
§ The noble Lady said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 373 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 389 and 403 and to No. 418, which was included in an earlier grouping but the others were withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
§ It is important to focus attention on the needs of those with disabilities in the new higher education corporations. These are largely made up of the former polytechnics. Access is of course of paramount importance. I note that the Government have, in moving Amendment No. 310, listened to the need to take account of access in relation to grant-maintained schools. It is particularly important, with the expanded opportunities for higher education opened up by the new corporations, that no opportunity to develop courses and facilities that are suitable for the many types of special need should be lost. New corporations will be very much run by their governing bodies.1337
§ In Amendments Nos. 389 and 403 there is a need for a member of both those councils who can represent the views of disabled people. Appropriate methods of adapting provisions are developed when people are sensitive to and knowledgeable about the needs and aspirations of disabled people. Under Clause 123, if the Universities Funding Council has a member who explicitly represents the views of disabled university candidates, past experience with other similar councils shows that their needs are more likely to be considered. That applies also to Clause 124, which covers the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council.
§ In Amendment No. 418 the concept of the representation of the needs and interests of people with disabilities on various committees was enshrined in the law by the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. Its importance lies both in the widespread lack of knowledge on the subject of the needs of people with disabilities and the ease with which their particular needs can be overlooked, not deliberately but accidentally.
§ Clause 141 as it stands accepts the need for representation on college governing bodies of commercial, business and professional interests relevant to the activities of the institution. This amendment seeks to extend the principle to cover the interests of people with special educational needs.
§ The draft circular of 21st April from the DES entitled Local Management of Further Education Colleges: Delegation Schemes and Articles of Government offers guidance to LEAs and colleges to help them prepare for the introduction of planning, budget setting and delegation procedures. A governing body is likely to be at a considerable disadvantage if it does not have represented special expertise.
There is a recently issued DES guidance on the reform of governing bodies. Paragraph 14 of the draft circular states:
Where colleges cater for significant numbers of students with special educational needs, the Secretary of State asks that particular considerations should be given to the desirability of specifying that the one coopted governor should have experience relevant to the needs of such students".
§ This amendment seeks to put into the Bill the principle of representation for special needs which the Secretary of State seems almost to have accepted in his draft circular. I beg to move.
§ 5.30 p.m.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, perhaps I may add a few brief but very warm words of support for my noble friend. She has explained very fully why representation on these councils and bodies is necessary. I warmly support her.
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, from these Benches, I am very pleased to support these amendments which all have the same purpose; namely to seek to ensure that there is proper representation on the various bodies mentioned for disability interests and to ensure that special educational needs are given proper attention. 1338 As a result of this amendment, those needs will he recognised and met.
On many of the amendments dealing with special educational needs, the point has been made that in many cases these needs are not being met. We feel that by appointing people with appropriate experience—and perhaps their experience has been gained as consumers of special education—those needs will be met. There is a widespread lack of knowledge about the problems of disability, and there is a general conditioning of society in its attitude towards disability. That conditioning starts in the education system which is where the specialist representation is required. Therefore, from these Benches, I am pleased to support this group of amendments.
§ Lord Somers
My Lords, I should also like very strongly to support this amendment. Special education has been mentioned in the Bill; but no particular emphasis has been laid upon it. One must remember that for those who need it special education is essential. Without it, they would have to go without education altogether. That is something which we do not want to see. I believe that this is a very necessary amendment.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, of course the Government sympathise with the reason which prompts the amendment. The question is whether the aim is best achieved by an amendment of this sort or whether that is achieved in other ways.
It has been suggested to me that this amendment as drafted restricts the power of the Secretary of State to nominate people with special knowledge because it says "one". Whether that is a good point or a legalistic point, perhaps I may leave to one side.
The question is more profound. In connection with the powers which the Secretary of State has for appointments, he is required to ensure that the body as a whole is a proper body to achieve the purpose. Special educational needs are a very important matter. However, in relation to the higher education corporation the important matters for special educational needs are matters that centre on physical access—that sort of problem—communication aids and additional maintenance grants; for example, if an additional expense is involved. It is in that area that particular knowledge is required because it is that sort of special provision which is needed in that situation. It is not that there should be a special course for the particular person. It is that the particular difficulties which the person has in attending and benefiting from the course should be dealt with. Access, communication aids and the additional grant which is available to enable the additional expense involved in transport and that sort of matter would be covered.
Therefore, that is the approach that the Government have to this particular provision. The real emphasis is that people with disabilities would be given the necessary means, particularly under the headings that I have mentioned, to undertake the higher education. However, relating courses to their needs does not so much arise.
1339 The Bill certainly leaves open, and the guidance which has been mentioned shows, that the Secretary of State has very much in mind the knowledge of special educational needs as an aspect of what would be required as the expertise in governing bodies of this kind. However, it seems inappropriate to single out special knowledge of and concern for people with special educational needs as a particular qualification on one governor or one member of the funding council.
We would hope that those who are appointed would, among them, have knowledge of and concern for people with special disabilities and the like. What is required is a cohesive team to make necessary decisions and not to have particular persons representative of a particular interest or disability. Therefore, as I say, in making appointments the Secretary of State has very much in mind that type of problem and the expertise which requires to be covered. However, he considers and the Government consider that with regard to special educational needs and special provision needing to be made for them, it is best made under the various headings of means which I have mentioned.
I hope that the noble Lady will feel, in the light of that explanation, that she may be able to withdraw the amendment.
§ Lady Kinloss
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for his very detailed reply. I wonder whether I dare hope that he may come back with an amendment at Third Reading, particularly on Amendment No. 418. Secretaries of State come and go, and the next Secretary of State might not agree with this one. Therefore, I believe that it should be written into the Bill. I shall read what he has said in Hansard and perhaps come back at Third Reading. Meanwhile, 1 beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 374 to 379 not moved.]
Baroness Davidmoved Amendment No. 380:
Page 202, line 16, leave out ("one") and insert ("two").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I refer also to Amendment No. 381. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord will remember the debate we had in Committee on this subject when I moved the same pair of amendments. The purpose is to increase the number of student nominees on higher education corporations from one to two. There was support from every part of the Committee. At the end of the debate the noble and learned Lord said that he was willing to reconsider the matter. I do not know whether he has thought about it, but the interval has not produced anything on the Marshalled List. We are very disappointed about that.
§ A number of reasons were given for having two students rather than one on governing bodies. One reason was that two students would give moral support the one for the other when among a number of perhaps older people with more experience in education than they themselves have. There was also the point made that one student would be able to gain experience and then pass on that experience to another. Presuming one student was a second or third 1340 year student and the other a first year student, one could guide the other so that the younger student could take on the more senior responsibility in a later year.
The noble and learned Lord seemed to think—in fact hesaid—that it was unnecessary to provide a student with a second student for moral support since moral support could come better from mature people on the governing body. I cannot say that any of us were convinced by that argument. The noble and learned Lord acknowledged that communication with students was important but he considered:
Having a student on the governing body is one part, but only one part, of that system. Other liaison communication channels are also important. To have a good system of communication it does not appear to me to be necessary to have more than one student."—[Official Report, 16/5/88; col. 110.]
Many of us begged to differ. I can only say that I am extremely disappointed that we have not had a response from the noble and learned Lord. I hope that I shall have the same support from the House that I had in Committee.
§ All noble Lords who spoke in Committee have had experience of serving on governing bodies where there were two students, and they have found it extremely satisfactory. The students make a real contribution and the governing bodies learnt a great deal from their attitudes to the governing bodies themselves, the institutions and what goes on in them. Therefore, I very much hope that the noble and learned Lord has had second thoughts and is willing to accept this amendment this time round. I beg to move.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, as I undertook to do I have, with my colleagues, reconsidered this matter. The situation is that I am not able to accept this amendment. However, the noble Lord, Lord Peston, has tabled Amendment No. 381ZA which deals with the possibility of part-time students being independent or additional nominee members, and I am prepared to accept that amendment in principle. There is perhaps a small technical difficulty but, as I said, I accept it in principle and will produce an appropriate amendment at Third Reading to give effect to it.
As regards the other amendments which seek to increase the number of students from one to two, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said yesterday in referring to this in passing, we had too long an argument on this issue in Committee so I shall try not to be too long on this occasion. The Government's position is that the boards will have to be small and cohesive enough to take effective decisions. They will have to include a strong voice for lay members to ensure that the institutions are responsive to the wider world and, as I said before, particularly the needs of employers. Indeed, we have been urged by some to confine membership of boards of governors to lay members, excluding representative members altogether. But we also want to maintain the long and respected tradition that academic institutions include a representative element in their governing bodies.
This does not leave many options. We decided to give one place each to the teaching staff at large, to the non-teaching staff and to the students. I think 1341 these three representative interests have to be seen alongside each other as a group. The same arguments that might be used to support an extra place for the students—isolation, diversity of views, reporting back to their colleagues—apply also to the governors nominated by the teaching and non-teaching staff. There is not enough room on the boards to give all three interests an extra place. Therefore, the Government believe that we should stay where we are.
As I said in Committee, and the noble Baroness kindly referred to this, I accept that institutions will need to maintain good communications with their students; but they would have to do that not only with the people on the governing body, and the student on the governing body, but with students generally and also with the staff. Having student representation on the governing body is one, but only one, part of this. Other communication and liaison channels are also extremely important. The students, and the staff, will also be able to use these channels to make their contribution to responsible decision-making.
The Government are willing that the boards of governors should, as I said, be opened up to part-time students. For that reason we shall accept in principle Amendment No. 381ZA in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Peston. However, I regret to say that reconsideration of the matter leads us to the view that the opinion which I expressed in Committee remains correct and therefore I am not in a position to accept Amendments Nos. 380 and 381.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Baroness White
My Lords, I am sure that I voice the opinion of many in this House who spoke in Committee, and possibly some colleagues who did not but have experience of these matters. We are deeply disappointed in the reply given by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I find it completely unconvincing. I am not asking— and I am sure that my colleagues are not, either— for a greatly enlarged governing body. We understand that it should be, as the noble and learned Lord rightly said, a fairly close and cohesive body. That is perfectly justifiable. However, without rehearsing all the arguments that were made in all parts of the Committee, those of us who have had experience know how important it is, if one has a student representative, that he or she should be in a position of confidence; the kind of confidence which is required to face what is, after all, an inexperienced student body to whom he or she has to report. One needs to have some experience of the psychology of student bodies to recognise that it is very difficult indeed, unless one has an exceptionally capable and confident student representative, to ensure that the decisions reached by the governing body are adequately and persuasively communicated to the student organisations.
I have the warmest personal regard for the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, but I have to say that my opinion of him plummetted with the reply that he gave in Committee. It showed all too clearly 1342 that he could not have had experience of dealing with student bodies at university or higher education level in the sense of being, as I and other noble Lords have been, chairman of council, president, and so on, of these governing bodies. I am deeply disappointed at his unrealistic attitude.
I ask one specific question. What provision is being made for alternatives? Are they to be permitted on governing bodies if they are representative of the teachers' organisations, other staff organisations or the students? Has nobody thought of that? If there is an important meeting of a governing body and there is no provision for alternatives, who is to report to the student body? I would be obliged if the noble and learned Lord could let us know what thought has been given to that aspect and whether or not it is legitimate. I hope that between now and Third Reading there will be further thoughts on the question of student representation, on which there was unanimous opinion from all quarters when this was debated in Committee.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, it is in order. If the noble Lord chose to speak early on in the debate, as he did, others may speak afterwards. I believe that to be correct according to Standing Orders and the Clerk at the Table agrees that I am correct. In that circumstance I believe it is in order for other noble Lords to speak.
§ Lord Walston
My Lords, I shall be very persistent. I am very much ignorant of these matters. There is one point I have not heard mentioned in favour of having two student nominees. Normally, a student nominee is there for only one year and therefore has very little opportunity of gaining real experience. Then a new nominee comes along a little later to replace him. The other nominees will be there for very much longer and they will become experienced members of the body and able to contribute. If there were two student nominees it would be possible to have one senior and one from a junior year who was therefore able to stay for two years and be of very much more value in contributing to the decisions made by the body.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, with the leave of the House, that was a point mentioned at the Committee stage, that students tend to be present for a shorter time than the staff and are therefore perhaps more inexperienced. That was one of the reasons for suggesting that there should be two nominees rather than one. These points arising from the Committee stage have been considered by my colleagues and myself. As regards alternates I believe I am right in saying that Clause 117 of the Bill provides for proxies for the governing bodies if the articles of government so provide. In answer to the noble Baroness, Lady White, that provision would certainly be possible.
§ Baroness David
My Lords, I am no more satisfied with that answer than I was with the answer given last time. As the noble and learned Lord is not willing to change his mind, I must test the opinion of the House.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 380) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 107; Not-Contents, 134.1344
|DIVISION NO. 3|
|Addington, L.||Jay, L.|
|Adrian, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Airedale, L.||Jenkins of Hillhead, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||John-Mackie, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Kennet, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Birk, B.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Kinloss, Ly.|
|Blease, L.||Kirkwood, L.|
|Blyth, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Bottomley, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Longford, E.|
|Butterworth, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||McNair, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Carter, L.||Mountevans, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Newcastle, Bp.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Nicol, B, [Teller.]|
|Cobbold, L.||Northfield, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Oram, L.|
|Dainton, L.||Parry, L.|
|Darcy (de Knayth), B.||Peston, L.|
|David, B.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]|
|Dean of Beswick, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L,|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Russell, E.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Seear, B.|
|Ezra, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Falkender, B.||Serota, B.|
|Flowers, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Foot, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Gallacher, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Galpern, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Grey, E.||Tordoff, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Halsbury, E.||Underhill, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Walston, L.|
|Hart of South Lanark, B.||Warnock, B.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Henderson of Brompton, L.||White, B.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Hughes, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Hunter of Newington, L.||Young of Dartington, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Auckland, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Barber, L.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Beloff, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Belstead, L.|
|Arran, E.||Bessborough, E.|
|Birdwood, L.||Killearn, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Kimball, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Kimberley, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Layton, L.|
|Brookes, L.||Long, V.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Caithness, E.||McFadzean, L.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Mackay of Clashfern, L.|
|Camoys, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Marley, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Mersey, V.|
|Cox, B.||Middleton, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||Monson, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Cross, V.||Mottistone, L.|
|Davidson, V. [Teller.]||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Deedes, L.||Munster, E.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Nelson, E.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Norfolk, D.|
|Dundee, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Onslow, E.|
|Eden of Winton, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Elles, B.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Oxfuird, V.|
|Elton, L.||Pender, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.||Renton, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Renwick, L.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Rochdale, V.|
|Gormanston, V.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Grantchester, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Salisbury, M.|
|Greenway, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Haig, E.||Somers, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Harvington, L.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Havers, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Henley, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Trafford, L.|
|Hives, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hood, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Hooper, B.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Wise, L.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Young, B.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 381 not moved.]
Lord Peston moved, as a manuscript amendment, Amendment No. 381ZA:
Page 202, line 39, after ("a") insert ("full-time").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I apologise to the House for the manuscript amendment, which has added to the confusion. I shall explain the purpose of the amendment.1345
Schedule 5(4)(4) says:
a person who is—
(b) a student at the institution…is not eligible for appointment as an independent member",
of the governing body. My amendment changes that to:
a person who is …
(b) a full-time student at the institution…is not eligible".
That means that a part-time student is eligible. If that is clear I do not wish to say much more because the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that he would accept the amendment in principle. I look forward to hearing in a moment what "in principle" means.
§ It may help noble Lords to know why I wish to insert the word "full-time". I can best illustrate that by giving the example I have in mind. I am thinking of someone who is on the governing body of such an institution who then decides to attend a part-time course at that institution; for example, a course in computer technology. He would then be registered as a student—albeit part-time—for this course. As the Bill stands, that person would immediately have to resign as a governor. I felt that the Government could not possibly want that to be a consequence of the Bill.
§ It seemed to me that whatever the Government had in mind about not allowing students to be independent governors, they could not mean what I have just outlined to be a consequence of the Bill. Therefore I felt that if I inserted, "full-time" to allow the part-time case to be eligible, that might meet what any reasonable person would want the schedule to say. I apologise again for this being a manuscript amendment. I look forward to hearing the noble and learned Lord's acceptance of it and also the explanation of "in principle".
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, we are prepared to accept the amendment so that part-time students would be allowed on the governing bodies. I cannot accept it as it is without further amendment because it would require a definition of "full-time" to apply to the schedule. The noble Lord has used the words "full-time" in the amendment. I think I am right in saying that there are definitions of "full-time" in other parts of the Bill and we require to apply an appropriate definition of "full-time" to this schedule so that the noble Lord's amendment would have its full effect. If, with this explanation, the noble Lord is willing to withdraw the amendment, I undertake to bring back at Third Reading an amendment which is in the same terms on this matter but tries to deal with the definition point which I have mentioned.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord. I accept with alacrity. I think it is the first amendment I have ever had accepted in any form at all, and I sit down hurriedly. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 381A:
Page 203, leave out lines 33 to 35.
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 381B and 381C. This amendment seeks to deal with a matter which was raised in the other place. The Bill currently provides that the independent members of a higher education corporation only shall appoint their successors. In other words, the independents would appoint the independents. In another place a mechanism was suggested to allow the full corporation to make the appointment but only where this had the support of a majority of the independent members. The Government agreed to consider this.
§ These amendments are based on that idea and are somewhat complicated. The legislation must ensure that there is no risk of deadlock. Assuming that no appointment was made, there must be a provision in the Bill to avoid deadlock. The amendments are based on the principle that the full governing body, with the consent of the majority of independent members, should have an opportunity to make independent appointments.
§ The amendments achieve the avoidance of deadlock by giving the full corporation a definite period—three months—to make the appointment, with the approval of the current independent members. If the corporation does not make an appointment in this period, or cannot secure the agreement of the independent members, the right of appointment reverts to the independent members. It gives effect to the principle with a fall-back position for the independent members in case the opportunity is not taken. I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 381B and 381C:
§ Page 203, line 36, leave out ("those purposes") and insert ("the purposes of this Schedule").
Page 203, line 38, at end insert—
("(4) Where an appointment of an additional independent member of the corporation falls to be made in consequence of a determination under paragraph 6 above, the appointing authority for the purposes of this Schedule in relation to the appointment—
(4A) Where a vacancy in the office of an independent member ceasing to hold office on the expiry of his term of office—
(4B) Where a vacancy in the office of an independent member of the corporation arises on the death of any such member or on any such member ceasing to hold office under paragraph 8(2) or 10 below, the appointing authority for the purposes of this Schedule in relation to the appointment of his successor—
(a) shall be the corporation if the appointment is made within the period of three months beginning with the date of death or the date of the notice under paragraph 8(2) or 10 below (as the case may be); or
(a) if the appointment is not made within that period, shall be the current independent members of the corporation.
(4C) No appointment of an independent member of the corporation by the corporation under subsection (4)(a), (4A)(a) or (48)(a) above shall be made unless the appointment has been approved by the current independent members of the corporation.").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 116 [Powers of a higher education corporation]:
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 382:
Page 114, line 28, at end insert ("In exercising powers under this subsection the higher education corporation shall have due regard for meeting the needs of disabled students with special educational needs.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment is identical to one that I moved in Committee to ensure that the higher education corporations should have due regard to meeting the needs of students with special educational needs. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor felt it was unnecessary. He said that the problems for disabled students in higher education mainly related to access. At col. 118 of the Official Report for 16th May, the noble and learned Lord said that Section 8 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 applied to all institutions in the PCFC sector. I withdrew the amendment and said that I would go away and think about it. I thank the noble and learned Lord for his letter, but he still says he feels that the amendment is unnecessary. So, having consulted the National Bureau for Handicapped Students, I hope to persuade him that this most moderate amendment is indeed necessary.
§ Section 8 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 covers new buildings only, and not existing ones. Further, the National Bureau for Handicapped Students says that those with physical handicaps are in the minority among handicapped students in higher education. The percentage of those who have problems of access is perhaps fewer than 25 per cent.
§ What then are the problems, if they are not of access? The National Bureau for Handicapped Students gives many reasons. Probably the most important factor of all is that colleges, and so on, prefer candidates to have conventional qualifications. Many disabled young people have had difficult or interrupted school careers and therefore do not fit into the conventional pattern. Then there is the lack of support services, both in further and higher education; for example, interpreters for the deaf and care assistants for the physically handicapped. There is also the problem of lack of counselling and careers guidance services.
§ I was horrified to find in Holland—well, I was in fact delighted to find this in Holland; but what comes later is what horrified me—that the Government provide a grant to a voluntary organisation called Handicap and Studie. The organisation has a trained counsellor in every university town. The equivalent organisation in this country is the National Bureau for Handicapped Students, which can afford only one 1348 information officer who has to cover the whole of higher and further education throughout the United Kingdom.
§ The national bureau also mentions difficulties in obtaining extra financial support; sometimes outright discrimination; absence of appropriate care to meet the personal care needs of severely disabled people; and underestimation of disabled students' abilities, which discourages them from applying for higher education courses. Some or all of those factors combine to make up this rather discouraging list.
§ Many noble Lords will have read in the Sunday Times 10 days ago about Professor Stephen Hawking, who is the greatest world expert on black holes. He is totally paralysed and is only able to speak with the aid of a voice synthesiser. Perhaps it is just as well that he was already a postgraduate student at Cambridge before motor neurone disease struck him; otherwise we might have been deprived of the fruits of one of the finest brains of our age.
§ There are, however, some chinks of light in this gloomy picture. Individual institutions have tried to increase the numbers of disabled students by positive policies and by being especially welcoming to them. Indeed, three such institutions provide specialist accommodation; for example, Lancashire Polytechnic has appointed a member of staff to take on special responsibility for disabled students. It has been instrumental in getting together representatives of higher education in the North-West to seek to bring about improvements.
§ It is important to note that the Open University—which has from the beginning welcomed disabled applicants—has almost 3,000 disabled students. Some of them prefer distance learning for obvious reasons, but many have simply given up hope of trying to gain admission to conventional universities. Over 80 per cent. of disabled students who have enrolled with the Open University have achieved a degree, which is a far higher percentage than that which applies to the general average Open University student population.
§ Therefore disabled students are keen and successful; but they are not as numerous as they should be. The amendment would ensure that meeting the needs of such students would be part of the brief of the higher education corporations. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, said that an almost identical amendment on training had been tabled to the Employment Bill. I think that the amendment stemmed originally from the noble Lord, Lord Basnett, and was subsequently moved by the noble Lord, Lord Peston. The Government took the amendment away and came back with one of their own at the next stage of the Bill's proceedings. I very much hope that the Government can be persuaded to do the same for higher education corporations. I beg to move.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Baroness Faithfull
My Lords, I should like briefly to support the amendment. It has been so ably put by my noble friend Lady Darcy (de Knayth) that I think it needs no further expansion. However, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that if 1349 we do not make special arrangements for some disabled students with special educational needs, we are losing much in our society. I remind the House of Peter Utley, who died recently. He was partially sighted from the age of nine. He took several journalistic jobs on various newspapers and finally worked for The Times. Further, I know that people from Oxford will remember the late Professor Cross, who was a legal luminary and who was totally blind. I think we should bear in mind the outstanding people we may lose if we do not make special arrangements for them.
I should mention that many universities, to their credit, have opened hostels for the disabled with the provision of special care. The amendment does not order people to do things; but it does ask that they should take into account the needs of students in higher education with special educational needs.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, I hope that my noble and learned friend, who I believe will reply to the amendment, will regard it sympathetically. Of course we know that there are famous cases, as mentioned by my noble friend Lady Faithfull, where people with great handicaps have been most successful academically. I happen to have been taught by a blind tutor at Oxford. He had great difficulty in achieving what he did and it was only because his elder sister was able to make up for his lack of sight that he managed to get a first and subsequently became of a fellow of Balliol.
However, that was an exceptional case. There may well have been other people who could have performed great service if only their needs had been specially considered by those in authority in universities and now in technical colleges, and so on. So I consider that a very strong case has been made out. As the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth), said, it is a modest amendment. It does not impose—so far as one can tell—much cost or great obligation upon higher education; but it is something which, in these enlightened days when we are trying to help people at all levels of handicap, we should not ignore.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I should like briefly to add my support to the amendment. One of the things I noticed while teaching in the United States of America was that a great deal more has been done in that country than has ever yet been done in this country, especially in the way of securing easier access to university buildings. The only word of caution I shall say on the matter is that such things cost money.
As regards English university buildings—some of which are not the newest—the amount of money involved may perhaps be more than it would be for a newer American building. We are most willing to spend this money, but it is something on which we shall need a certain amount of help.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor will react sympathetically to the amendment. It may well 1350 be argued that it is not strictly necessary and that in some other ways the Bill takes care of such cases. However, I think it is of some importance and some value that this historic Bill—which will be the legal foundation of our educational system for perhaps the next half century or so—should spell out Parliament's concern for this category of students. One does not need to enlarge on the issue.
I am sure that all Members of this House have the greatest admiration for those people who, despite serious handicaps, nonetheless pursue advanced courses of study and, as has already been said, sometimes make considerable contributions to our country and to the advancement of learning, knowledge and science. I hope I may express the view that we shall not take (dare I say this in the presence of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor?) too legalistic a view of the amendment, which may give some real importance to the psychological aspects and to the great encouragement which Parliament, by enacting this, will give to a most deserving section of the community.
§ Lady Kinloss
My Lords, I should like to support everything that my noble friend Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, have said. I hope that the Government will feel able to accept the amendment.
§ Lord Henderson of Brompton
My Lords, after the powerful advocacy of the noble Lords, Lord Boyd-Carpenter and Lord Renton, it is hardly necessary for me to add my voice to their pleas asking the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to be sympathetic in his reception of the amendment so comprehensively and ably moved by the noble Baroness.
Unfortunately, I could not be here during the Committee stage but I read the whole of the Committee proceedings on this amendment. The amount of support which the noble Baroness received from all parts of the House on that occasion, as on this, was most impressive, as I am sure the noble and learned Lord will remember.
I should like to take up only one point made by the noble Baroness; that is, that the Department of Employment seems to have the edge on the Department of Education and Science in its sympathetic regard for the people we are discussing. In its training schemes, as I have said before, it has made most imaginative and sympathetic provision. I ask that the Department of Education and Science be as receptive to the pleas as the Department of Employment has been.
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, I am pleased to support the amendment from these Benches. It is obviously receiving support from all parts of the House. In moving the amendment, the noble Baroness mentioned that 0.15 per cent. of the student population in further education is disabled. That compares with the 6 per cent. of the population as a whole who are disabled. Disabled students are obviously under-represented in further education.
Besides the problems the noble Baroness mentioned which are experienced by students, such as 1351 the interruption in their pattern of education and a lack of support services and counselling, they have a need for extra financial help. Regrettably, there is often discrimination against such students in certain universities. It is accidental rather than intended. Disabled students all experience the insensitivity and indifference which, unfortunately, is the daily lot of most of them. It is decided on their behalf that they will be unable to cope with the university, polytechnic or whatever it may be. Above all, there is an underestimation of the abilities of handicapped students. Throughout society and institutions of further education there is a low level of expectation of the potential of disabled people.
The amendment is intended to go some way towards overcoming the problems of the handicapped which have been mentioned. I hope that the Government will feel able to accept it.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, no one who listened to the noble Baroness who moved the amendment, speaking either now or in Committee, could fail to appreciate the power of her eloquence or the case she was making. The question is whether it is appropriate to make the amendment part of the Bill. The purpose of Clause 116(1) is to confer on the higher education corporations broad powers to provide further and higher education. Special courses for the disabled are usually the province of the schools and further education colleges.
Where it is a question of training, with which the Department of Employment is concerned, and the provisions which have been referred to, special training may well be required. However, disabled students in higher education usually study alongside their peers who do not suffer similarly. The courses are the same. In making provision the higher education corporations will need to have regard to a wide variety of considerations, including what special facilities are required to make their provision accessible to disabled students. That point has been focused on and was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Russell. It is distinct from the education provision that is required. The house may wish to reflect on the wisdom of singling out one consideration among many for expression in a statutory duty.
The real requirements of the disabled in relation to higher education are not so much in special provision for, or special regard to, what they require in a course, because what they wish to learn and what they are taught is the same. In some cases, as we have heard, disabled people have made tremendous use of such courses, putting to shame their fellow students who have their sight and all their other faculties. A number of institutions have made great efforts to give the necessary support to enable students with disabilities to enter higher education. There are examples of good practice, including microelectronic aids, personal support, special facilities and accommodation. Such initiatives are already taking place without the institutions being placed under any statutory duty to make such provision. We should expect the corporations, as responsible and independent bodies, to continue and build on present good practice in that connection.
1352 The Government believe that it is appropriate for the voluntary sector—the noble Baroness referred to this point—to continue to play a co-ordinating role and to work with the institutions to provide personal support for students with special needs. The National Bureau for Handicapped Students, which is supported by government, is a major source of support and help to students with special educational needs. I appreciate that the noble Baroness pointed out that they could all use more support. Its governing body includes a range of higher education representatives and is advised by a working party on higher education with membership drawn from higher education and institutions that supply students for higher education.
A network of lecturer support groups operates regionally to support students and staff in higher education. Legislation should complement, not duplicate, the provision of such support.
The Education (Mandatory Awards) Regulations authorise local education authorities to supplement the maintenance grants of disabled students to enable them to attend higher education courses. I have already mentioned that point. It is in the additional provision to reach such courses that the emphasis lies. A major issue for disabled students in higher education, as I have already said, is access to buildings and facilities. Paragraph 63 of Schedule 10 applies Section 8 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 to all PCFC institutions. That, of course, has the effect to which the noble Baroness referred.
The Government feel that the deserving case of disabled students in higher education is catered for by concentrating upon additional support to enable the student to obtain a course of higher education. That meets the case. It is not a question of supplying special education which seems to be the emphasis of the amendment. The noble Baroness kindly referred to the letter I wrote to her which sets out our point of view on this matter.
She mentioned a topic which I think had not been drawn to my attention anyway up until now. It may be that the noble Baroness wishes to elaborate on it. As I understand the position, the Government are basing their view on the fact that as regards higher education, the disabled student wants from the system the same as the person who has no disability. The additions for the disabled person are in the nature of support. If there is an additional point in relation to the qualifications with which the disabled person should be able to get into the course, which is the point I understood the noble Baroness to make, speaking for myself I have not had an opportunity of considering it. I am not sure to what extent she bases her argument on that aspect of the matter.
§ 6.30 p.m.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, perhaps I should speak now. I simply wished to say that the National Bureau of Handicapped Students says that one of the chief obstacles to getting into higher education is that many children or students who have been disabled or who have had a learning difficulty through their childhood, have a complicated pattern 1353 of education, and do not go through the usual forms up to A-level. They have had interrupted school careers and therefore there has to be a little flexibility in the admissions policy.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, as I said, that is an aspect of the matter which, so far as I know, has not been brought to my attention before. It is obviously a matter of great importance to the House, and if the noble Baroness is willing to withdraw the amendment I shall certainly undertake to bring this aspect of the matter to the attention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, so that he can consider it.
I do not feel that it is right to take up a final position on this amendment in the light of that new factor which I have not yet had a proper chance to consider. I do not know whether my right honourable friend has. Certainly I know of nothing to suggest that that particular point has so far been put before him.
Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord for that little hit of give. I was getting very depressed at getting what was a much more considered and lengthy reply than I received at Committee stage but one which was much the same. 1 had rather hoped that in view of the amazing and most impressive support I have had from all sides of the House the noble and learned Lord would have the ability to change his mind between writing this letter to me and replying now. I thank him very much indeed for that chink of light.
However, the admissions policy is only a part of the whole package of providing help. I am not asking for special courses—we are not talking about that—but for help in following those courses, as well as for understanding on the admissions courses. It is all part of the same package.This amendment is very mild, as the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said, and I think it would be immensely useful. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will talk to the Secretary of State. I am most grateful and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 117 [Articles of government]:
§ [Amendment No. 383 not moved.]
§ Clause 118 [Transfer of property, etc. to higher education corporations]:
The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 383A:
Page 116, line 44, leave out ("or").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, with Amendment No. 383A I should like to take a rather large number of other amendments: Amendments Nos. 383B, 385A-385C, 403A, 403B, 406A, 413A, 424A, 433A, 433B, 433D-433J.
§ The purpose of the new clause in Amendment No. 406A, after Clause 124, is to empower the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council to reimburse local education authorities and governing bodies for certain liabilities to former and serving 1354 staff of polytechnics and colleges. These liabilities, which will be defined in regulations, are for the most part statutory. They cover such things as premature retirement compensation, pensions increase payments and salary safeguarding payments. The local authority associations have been consulted about these prospective arrangements and are content. There are consequential amendments to Clauses 118, 122 and 124.
§ The other change effected by this group is to make provision for any existing local education authority loan liabilities on behalf of assisted institutions transferring to the polytechnics sector. Amendments Nos. 385A-385C in Clause 122 ensure that the local education authorities will be compensated for these liabilities on the same basis as for loan liabilities for maintained institutions transferring to the sector. The new clause after Clause 178, Amendment No. 424A, and the amendments to Schedule 8, are consequential. They simply draw together various provisions relating to the treatment of such loan liabilities.
§ Finally, the amendments to Clause 203 apply the loan liability provisions, should the Welsh Secretary of State ever exercise the powers in this clause to transfer Welsh higher education institutions to central government funding.
§ I commend these amendments to your Lordships and particularly the one which I have just moved, Amendment No. 383A.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, on this group of 18 amendments to which the noble and learned Lord has spoken there are a number of questions on which I should like some assistance. The first is why, when the liability to contribute to outstanding loan charges is being transferred, has the compensation for former employees to remain the responsibility of the local education authority? It would seem just as logical to transfer the responsibility over to the higher education college.
Secondly, it appears that Amendment No. 406A, the new clause, allows the PCFC to develop the funding of courses by means of contracts. That seems to be a new concept and one not previously provided for in legislation. Is this of any significance, or why is that being done?
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, Amendment No. 406A. That amendment also includes the phrase at the end that the local education authority and the governing body of the designated institution:shall give the Council such information as the Council may require".It seems to me a very wide-ranging power. It could be interpreted as the PCFC demanding details of private funding which, as the noble and learned Lord will recollect from the Committee stage, was an issue which came up in connection with university funding. It seems possible that it is being raised at this point also.
The next question is: was there consultation with the governing bodies as to the loan liability 1355 provisions which I think are in Amendment No. 424A? Is it not possible that under these provisions, outstanding loan debt will affect different institutions in significantly different ways?
Apart from those fairly minor points, I have no objection to the amendment.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, as regards the point about the requirement to provide information, I think it is fairly plain that the information to be supplied is for the purposes of the subject matter of the provision. Therefore I do not think that it could be objectionable, for the reason which is mentioned.
As regards loan charges, the idea is that loan liabilities will amend the property transfer provisions to put the provisions for debt liabilities on all fours with those for the maintained transferring institutions. The reason why this was not done before was because we had understood that local education authorities did not hold debts on behalf of institutions in this sector. Therefore, it was just a question of dealing with the matter in the way that was appropriate once it was discovered that there were such responsibilities.
As regards premature retirement, the amendments give local authorities payment from the governing bodies of the institutions in respect of staff at existing or former higher education institutions. These provisions are, of course, all concerned with past liabilities—not new liabilities. They concern liabilities which existed at the date of transfer. I understand that consultation took place with all local education authorities. It is the education authorities which are concerned in this matter because these liabilities are local education authority liabilities. As I understand it, they are content with the way in which we are proposing to deal with these liabilities which seems, even on an overhead view, to be a reasonable way forward.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ The Lord Chancellormoved Amendment No. 383B:
Page 116, line 46, at end insert ("; or
(c) any liability of any such authority in respect of compensation for premature retirement of any person formerly employed by them. ).
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 119 [Transfer of staff to higher education corporations]:
Lord Morton of Shuna moved Amendment No. 384:
Page 117, line 26, leave out from ("conditions") to end of line 28.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment seeks to take out two lines on page 117 of the Bill. Clause 119(4) states:
Subsections (2) and (3) above are without prejudice to any right of an employee to terminate his contract of employment if a substantial change is made to his detriment in his working conditions".
This whole clause relates to the transfer from a local education authority to a higher education corporation. However, the words in the clause which I wish to take out are:
but no such right shall arise by reason only of the change in employer effected by this section.
I consider that those words are unnecessary and confuse the issue. Subsection (2) of this clause already provides that if all that happens is that the person transfers from the local education authority to the higher education corporation:
The contract of employment between a person to whom this section applies and the transferor authority shall have effect from the transfer date as if originally made between him and the corporation.
§ Therefore, the mere fact of the changeover from one body to the other does not affect an employee's employment rights. It may be that the transfer makes a radical change in a job description. Administrative staff and non-teaching staff may well have to take on many new burdens that were previously carried out by the local education authority and other staff. If a member of staff attempts to claim constructive dismissal before an industrial tribunal, he will have to show that the dismissal had nothing to do with his change of employment because, I would suggest, of subsection (2) of this clause.,
In Committee, where I raised much the same argument, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that:
The purpose of the words sought to be deleted is to make it plain that the mere change of employer would not in any way detrimentally affect the right conferred by this subsection."—[Official Report,16/5/88; col. 122.]
§ However, it does not appear to me that the inclusion of the words I wish to remove does anything but add to possible confusion. If the words are left out, it is still clear that the rights are the same as they were under the previous employer. To add these, in my view, unnecessary words, adds to possible confusion, if not also to the length of the Bill. However, that is a fairly academic matter. I beg to move.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Lord Harmar-Nicholls
My Lords, far from the words which the noble Lord wishes to delete having no effect, I think it is vital that they should be left in. It is the general practice in industry that a change in ownership of an enterprise to a new employer means that the conditions and the terms are exactly as they were before. The employees are not entitled to redundancy or other concessions that normally would be the case. I think that that is right.
To leave out the words that the noble Lord seeks to delete would place this particular matter in a different category altogether. The noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, said that a change of employer may alter the conditions and the terms under which an employee was working. The noble Lord said that the employee may be asked to undertake tasks which he had not been expected to take on before. If that is the case, it is under those conditions that the 1357 employee would make his application as regards any of the advantages that the noble Lord thinks are being lost. The words that the noble Lord wishes to delete make the position very clear. They state:but no such right shall arise by reason only of the change in employer".Therefore, if the only change that has occurred involves the employer and everything else remains the same, it is vital to maintain the same conditions in this case as in every other area of employer/employee relations. It is vital that these words should remain to show that there is no difference in those relations in this situation.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls is, in my view, absolutely correct. One needs to look at this matter a little more thoroughly. Where a person is employed by a and a decides to give up his business and hand it over to h, the employee is not obliged to go to b. A by giving up will breach his contract with the employee in the normal course.
As the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, said, Clause 119(2) states:The contract of employment between a person to whom this section applies and the transferor authority shall have effect from the transfer date as if originally made between him and the corporation.But subsection (2) is subject to subsection (4). Therefore, one must deal with the question of a mere change of employer. Subsection (4) in effect says that if a change of employer is accompanied by a substantial change to the detriment of the employee, it will constitute a dismissal. But if it is not, if nothing happens but a mere change of employer, then the employee will not have a right on the basis that he has been dismissed. He will not have a right to terminate his contract.
To miss out that provision in the structure that is used here, would be to introduce a grave doubt on the rights of the employee in the event not of any detriment but only as regards a mere change of employer. From what I have been told by the officials of the department, I understand that the view of the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, is not completely shared by those who work in this particular sector. They have the feeling that the local authority may be a different employer in some respects from the new authority which will be in charge of a particular polytechnic. A big local authority may have different attitudes to a smaller employer. It is necessary that that point is made clear. Therefore, my views and those of the noble Lord are identical as regards what should be effected. He says that the provision is unnecessary. However, he has not pointed to any harm and even on his own argument the matter should be left as it is. I hope that the noble Lord will, on reflection, agree with that point of view.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, I shall not take up the time of the House in arguing the point further. I shall merely keep to my own view, as I trust I am entitled to. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1358
The Lord Chancellor had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 384A:
After Clause 119, insert the following new Clause:
§ ("Restrictions on appointment of staff, etc.
§ .—(1) After the relevant date a local education authority shall not—
- (a) in the case of an institution falling within section 113(2) of this Act; or
- (b) in the case of an institution with respect to which an order under section 114 of this Act has been made;
§ (2) In subsection (1) above the "relevant date" is—
- (a) in the case of an institution falling within section 113(2), the date on which this Act is passed; and
- (b) in the case of an institution with respect to which an order under section 114 has been made, the date on which the order is made.
§ (3) This section applies to the following actions—
- (a) the employment of any person to work at the institution (whether solely or partly);
- (b) the dismissal of any person who is so employed; and
- (c) the withdrawal of any person who is so employed from work at the institution (otherwise than by dismissing him).")
§ The noble and learned Lord: My Lords, Amendment No. 384A is one of the amendments which was referred to yesterday. As my noble friend the Leader of the House said at that time, the Government are extremely grateful for the way in which noble Lords on all sides of the House have responded to the heavy burden of business which has been put on them in the last few weeks.
§ In recognition of that and to assist the House, the Government propose not to move five of the dozen substantive amendments tabled at the end of last week. In respect of one of them, Amendment No. 433K— an incidental and consequential provision—we shall return with a less wide-ranging amendment at Third Reading. However, the others, beginning with the present amendment, will not be pressed further. The amendment is therefore not moved.
§ [Amendment No. 384A not moved.]
§ Clause 120 [Dissolution of higher education corporations]:
Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 385:
Page 117, line 40, at end insert ("the local education authority from which they were transferred, with its consent, or otherwise to").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I spoke yesterday to a number of amendments involving the same problem; namely, the fact that the Bill seems to take real assets from local authorities and therefore from taxpayers while leaving them with real liabilities. That is a matter about which I expressed concern. I have argued the general case before. However, the particular case that is involved here seems to me to be so serious that I feel I must mention it once more.
§ Essentially, the setting up of a higher education corporation involves the transfer of assets away from an LEA for which, 1 understand, it gets no compensation. Be that as it may, I am concerned about Clause 120 which considers the hypothetical case—we hope it is extremely hypothetical—in which 1359 a higher education corporation is dissolved. If we look to see what then happens, we find a list of bodies to which property may be transferred. The LEA, from which the real resources were taken, is conspicuous by its absence.
§ To my naive view, that is wholly wrong. I do not go so far as to say that it is obvious that the real resources should go back to the LEA from whence they came, even though they were the property of the taxpayers. I accept the view that there may be some possibility that they should be used for other educational purposes. However, that the resources should not go back under any circumstances, as the Bill seems to say, is quite amazing. My first question is why the government do not consider that the LEA should have some claim to its former assets; and, secondly, why it does not have a first claim to those former assets. I shall be interested to hear the answers to those questions.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, the amendment seeks to add a new category to the transferees to whom assets may be transferred on the dissolution of a higher education corporation. I emphasise the word "may". The position is that the Bill lists a number of possible beneficiaries for such a transfer. The Bill proceeds in the order:(i) any person appearing to the Secretary of State to be wholly or mainly engaged in the provision of educational facilities or services of any description;(ii) any body corporate established for purposes which include the provision of such facilities or services".Accordingly, subparagraph (ii) includes local education authorities since they are bodies corporate established for purposes which include the provision of educational facilities or services. Therefore, the body which the noble Lord seeks to add to the list is already included. I believe that the amendment adds nothing to the provision in the Bill. It simply expresses in a slightly different form one of the beneficiaries already included.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I am glad that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who of course understands such matters better than I, has said that in his view an LEA is included. I accept that view. However, it does not explain why an LEA should not have first claim since the assets belonged to it in the first place. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord will answer that question before I withdraw the amendment.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may answer. I believe that the idea is to provide for the situation which would arise in the rather sad event which might trigger the provision. The idea is to give the Secretary of State the power to make the best use of the property as the circumstances of that time may dictate. I suspect that the reason that the list contains two categories rather than one is simply the drafting reason that the body corporate should come after the natural person. The natural person should come first and the body corporate should come second. The description of educational services or facilities has been used in subsection (1)(b) and should not be repeated. In practical terms, the order is not important because there is a discretion to choose. I suspect that the order has been dictated by drafting considerations.
§ Lord Peston
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for that answer. I believe that that takes us along some of the lines that we wish to see followed. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 122 [Transfer of property to certain designated institutions.]:
§ The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 385A, 385B and 385C:
§ Page 119, line 32, leave out ("transferor") and insert ("former assisting").
Page 119, line 33, leave out subsection (2) and insert—
("(2) Subject to subsection (2B) below and section 178 of this Act, on the designation date in relation to any institution to which this section applies the property, rights and liabilities mentioned in subsection (2A) below shall be transferred to, and by virtue of this Act vest in, the appropriate transferee.
(2A) The property, rights and liabilities referred to in subsection (2) above are—
(2B) Subsection (2) above shall not apply to—
§ Page 119, line 46, leave out subsection (4) and insert—
§ ("(4) Where any persons so specified are the appropriate transferee for the purposes of subsection (2) above—
- (a) any land or other property or rights transferred to them under this section shall be held by them on the trusts applicable under any trust deed relating to or regulating that institution; and
- (b) they shall incur no personal liability by virtue of any liability so transferred, but may apply any property held by them on trust for the purposes of the institution in meeting any such liability.").
§ On Question, amendments agreed to.
§ 7 p.m.
§ Clause 123 [Universities Funding Council]:
Lord Grimond moved Amendment No. 386:
Page 120, line 5, leave out from ("established") to end of line 6 and insert ("bodies corporate to be known as the Universities Funding Council for England and Wales and the Universities Funding Council for Scotland").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I wish to consider the position of Scottish universities. The noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, and I feel that that position should be recognised in the Bill. We admit that could be done in various ways, and certain ways were suggested at the Committee stage. I do not intend to repeat all the arguments that were used then. Your Lordships will find the general argument very well set out at col. 138 of Hansardfor 17th May, in a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Morton.
§ As regards the general proposition that the Scottish universities are quite different from the English universities and deserve to be so recognised in the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Morton, quoted Lord Croham, who is certainly a man who has examined this position. At Second Reading we were 1361 supported in general by the noble Lords, Lord Howie and Lord Swann, the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, and the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. Therefore, there is a recognition in the House that these universities are quite different from the English universities and deserve to be dealt with rather differently when we come to the Universities Funding Council. This is to be a powerful body. I personally rather regret that it has been set up at all because I think the UGC probably would do the job as well; but this is to be an important and powerful body which will have very considerable influence over the development of universities and therefore it is essential to ensure that it will recognise the special position of the Scottish universities.
§ This amendment suggests that there should be two funding councils: one for Scotland and one for the rest of Britain. It is possible—and this is an alternative which we have put forward—that the position might be met by other means. However, let me just repeat why it is necessary in some ways to differentiate, within the functions of the funding council, between Scotland and England. I must say again, as I have said many times in this House, that the Scots are a nation. That is extremely important. Although most people would pay lip service to it, the actions of the Government recently have shown that this is not really the view of the Government. They do not regard the Scots as a nation.
§ It has been said that there are great differences between the universities in Enlgand and that of course the funding council will take note of the Scottish position. I would just ask your Lordships to consider what would happen if, in examining the relationship of Germany with France, it was said, "We are appointing a council which is going to be a German council, and of course it will take notice of France. Germany is an excellent country with a fine academic tradition: why do you want any special treatment for France?" Of course, people would then say at once that the French are a separate nation, and they have their own history and their own type of education. So it is with the Scots.
§ The first thing about the Scots that is particularly important, as I have also said often before, is that they have no parliament. Therefore their institutions are extremely important in keeping alive their traditions and their civilisation in general. I would emphasise again that the history of the Scottish universities is quite different from that of any of the universities of England. It is not the same as that of Oxford or Cambridge; nor is it the same as that of the great provincial universities.
§ Secondly, the educational system in Scotland is quite different and of course the universities are the peak of that system. Thirdly, the position of the universities within the community is also quite different: they are much more integrated. For instance, in England, at any rate when I went to the English Bar, law was taught by the Inns of Court. My law in fact was taught by correspondence by a firm called Gibson and Weldon. In Scotland, such a thing would have been intolerable. In Scotland, so far as I know, you have to have a law degree, and law was 1362 intimately connected with the universities. That was not so in England.
§ Again, in the Church, the Church colleges—I stand to be corrected, but believe I am right—are an important, if not an integral, part of the English universities. If we take the position in Edinburgh, the botanic gardens in Edinburgh are run by the Professor of Botany. The whole of Scottish academic life and the institutions which in England are very often separate from the universities is centred upon the Scottish universities. It is absolutely vital that when this powerful funding council takes over the position in Scotland is safeguarded.
§ The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in answer to a previous debate that of course the Secretary of State would keep Scotland in mind when he appointed members of the council. But will he? It is not so apparent to me, from various reactions there have been from some parts of this House, that the position in Scotland is fully recognised. The difference between the old Scottish universities and the English ones is not merely the difference between, say, Birmingham and Cambridge: they are deeply different in all the ways that I have outlined. Further, I would say that we do not know who will appoint the members of this council. We might have very great faith in the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but he will not make the appointments.
§ Finally, as is often said, and rightly said, what we are told in the Houses of Parliament is of no importance compared with what is written in the statutes. It is the statutes which count. If your Lordships feel, as I do, that it is essential that in this very important Bill the position of further and higher education in Scotland is to be recognised, something should be written on the face of the Bill to show that that is so. I beg to move.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, I do not want to repeat what I said at Committee stage or at earlier stages, but it seems to me that in addition to the notable speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, one has to consider the fact that the Department of Education and Science is responsible for all education in England and Wales, including universities and polytechnics: it covers the whole thing. That is a vast responsibility. Then there are the eight Scottish universities. The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for all education in Scotland except the Scottish universities— those universities which the Act of Union said were to be kept separate and protected.
Scotland has a very different history in its universities and it has a very different history in its education. It also has a very different approach to education, which, from our discussion on the curriculum, seems to be getting wider and wider apart as the English system gets more and more rigid. We have a different degree system. It is normal for an honours degree to take four years in a Scottish university. There is a different emphasis in the universities regarding the numbers of students in different faculties. For example, Scotland has a tradition of producing doctors, which is reflected in the fact that the medical faculties in the Scottish universities occupy a far higher proportion of those 1363 universities' expenditure than is the case in any English or Welsh university. In Aberdeen in particular this is largely the cause of that institution's difficulties.
If Scottish education is to go forward in the way the English are wanting to go forward in this Bill, with the whole of education being run as one unit, one would have thought that the Government would have accepted the report of a committee set up by the Secretary of State for Scotland and called The Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council on the Future Strategy of Higher Education. The report recommended that there should be academic planning and co-ordination by one body of provision across the university and non-university sectors of further education. That cannot happen when one has the university funding council running the eight universities in Scotland and the Secretary of State from Edinburgh running all the other polytechnics and further education colleges.
As described in The Times Educational Supplement, this seems to be a straitjacket that the universities in Scotland have run into, cut to an English specification. There is published in the press today a report on education by the Scottish Conservative Party, not all of which I would be expected to agree with. With one part I totally agree. The report expresses serious concern about cuts in funding for central institutions. Of course the universities are central institutions in an education sense. The report says:The committee, while supporting effective economic management, believes that more money should be spent on education in order to bring Scotland up to the same level as many of our traditional industrial competitors".We on this side of the House would totally agree with that.
The University Grants Committee recently has cut and cut again, particularly in regard to the Scottish universities. The Scottish universities consider that they are not getting a fair deal from the University Grants Committee, and do not consider that they would have a fair deal from the Universities Funding Council unless it was separate. In my view this is an urgent necessity for the planning of education in Scotland and for other reasons.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I hope that in opposing this amendment I shall not be thought unsympathetic to the idea of Scotland as a nation. If the noble Lord were to bring forward a Bill to repeal the Act of Union or to rebuild Hadrian's wall, he would find no greater supporter than me. However, we are dealing with something quite specific and concrete, namely, the application of this principle of Scotland being a nation to the present system of universities and their funding.
On the basis of past experience, it seems to me that there are obvious reasons—and the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, has given them—for Scotland to worry as, indeed, other parts of the United Kingdom may have cause to worry, that their universities are inadequately funded. I do not think that the noble Lord can quote the report with which he finished his speech with quite the confidence that he did because of course central institutions are not universities in 1364 Scotland, I understand, but correspond to what in England are called polytechnics.
Be that as it may, the question is: would a separate funding council meet the needs of Scottish universities or would it be regarded—because presumably its funding would still come from the national exchequer—as simply a sign that the Scottish universities wish to preserve diversity or indeed perhaps even to increase it? It is possible to say that there is a degree of diversity. Some of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, are correct. The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, is, I fear, half a century out of date. Anyone now wishing to enter the legal profession in England has also to be a university graduate.
Much the most important thing—and this is where I find myself at odds with the proposers of the amendment —is that hitherto, from the point of view of career structure, both in teaching and in research, we have regarded universities of the United Kingdom as equally accessible to all. My own brother, who is a graduate at Birkbeck College—I give the present of him to the noble Baroness Lady David—passed his teaching career partly in Belfast and partly in Edinburgh. I should think that that is a desirable situation.
I am not clear whether the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, regards that kind of thing as desirable or as the importation of unnecessary aliens into the Scottish university structure. We have notable examples in England also of eminent Scottish learned men and scientists who have adorned our universities— indeed, in the case of Balliol College, even contributing to setting them up.
I think that the matter is not the simple one of whether or not we accept that Scotland is a nation; it is whether or not the creation of' an independent council would benefit Scottish universities. On that, it seems to me that the opinions to be taken are those of the universities. I have yet to be convinced that that is their wish.
§ 7.15 p.m.
The Earl of Halsbury
My Lords, before the noble Lord concludes, would he correct his references to Scotland as a nation by remembering that it is a kingdom? That is why all of us in this House are citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
My Lords, I am not very moved whether Scotland is a kingdom or a nation, but 1 like it. I know that many Scots, including the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, think that it is a nation, and that really matters.
I am not quite sure how to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, but I would say this. I have lived in England for some 35 years, although I was not actually born there, and I like living in England. It is a civilised, agreeable and gentle place in which to live. I am also the pro-chancellor of an English university and I greatly admire—although it is a humble one, I have to admit—the City University. It is not one of the great universities of state, but I admire it, and I admire the English system of education.
Although I have lived in England for so long, I do not think that England is the same as Scotland, 1365 whether it is a nation or a kingdom. I know that it is different. Although I admire the English university system and support it as a pro-chancellor of City University, I do not imagine that it is the same as the Scottish one. I do not make a qualitative judgment here about whether it is better or worse. That is not the point of the debate. The point is that it is different. There is no reason why that difference should be set aside merely for the convenience of an Act of Parliament, which is what we seem to be doing here.
The noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and my noble friend Lord Morton of Shuna were hesitant about repeating the arguments that had been used at an earlier stage of the Bill; but I am not, I shall repeat them briefly because I think that they have not sunk into English heads, although English heads are capable of absorbing argument just as well as any other heads.
The point is that the Scottish universities are essentially European in their structure and their tradition, whereas the English universities are not. England is a very insular country, not to be disregarded for that reason, but it must realise that it is not always a case of everybody being out of step except England. The Scottish university system is in the European tradition. For that reason it has the differences that the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, and my noble friend Lord Morton of Shuna have outlined. It has a different length of degree—four years as against the English three years. It is a different structure. The students in some of the Scottish universities at least, if not all, elect a lord rector to represent them, something that would be inconceivable in the English system. The entry qualifications are entirely different. The Scottish universities require a broader range of learning among their young students than the English A-levels present.
Those are simple arguments which are irrefutable. The Government know them extremely well, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor knows them better than anybody else. The differences arc real. Whether they are differences between nations or kingdoms does not matter, but they are differences which have existed for many years. There is no reason lightly to throw them aside.
For those reasons I think that the amendment of my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Grimond, ought to be accepted, not merely grudgingly but with acclaim.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I go along with all that has been said except the last remarks. A little preprandial discussion on Scotland does no harm at all. However, the truth of the matter is that there have always been two ways of funding the universities in Scotland. They could be funded separately or together as a whole. As the noble Lord, Lord Morton, has said, STEAC (the Scottish Tertiary Education Advisory Council) recommended that the funding should be separate. They did not in fact recommend the proposal in the amendment, but stated that the funding of the Scottish universities should be channelled through the Scottish Office.
1366 As I understood it, the Government consulted the universities and the universities disagreed. They were split on that issue. Some wanted it done one way and some the other. After due consideration the Government decided that unless the universities were wholly in favour of something like that, it should not be done. The majority of the universities did not want to be shunted off into separate funding from the whole university system. As I understand it, that is why we have the recommendation as it stands.
I respect that. I know that there are many people in all the universities who feel strongly either one way or the other. This is the closest to the status quo, and if there is not a majority which wants to change, one is better with staying nearer the status quo.
On the other hand, the Universities Funding Council must take account of everything that noble Lords have mentioned. Of course, the universities are different, of course there are different considerations in funding, and of course the funding of the universities, the central institutions (which the noble Lord now appreciates, I am sure, are not universities) and the rest of education all need to be dovetailed together. The proposal is that there will be a Scottish sub-committee of the Universities Funding Council which will keep the funding council right about Scottish funding, just as the Scottish Commitee of the Manpower Services Commission keeps the Manpower Services Commission right about its relationships with Scottish local authorities. It seems to me that in that situation one can compare, and the system works.
I should not have come down one way or the other, but that is the situation. It seems to me that noble Lords should accept it and that we Scots should not keep other noble Lords too long from a little refreshment.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down I should like to ask whether she agrees that, if our amendment were to be accepted, it would be the Secretary of State for Scotland who would be appointing the Universities Funding Council for Scotland.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, I do not know, but presumably the funding council would be on a level with the English funding council and it would not be done through the Scottish education system. However, I do not know. If it is against what half the universities want, I should have thought that that was an argument very much against the amendment.
§ Lord Hunter of Newington
My Lords, I have been trying during this debate to recognise the homogeneous English universities which have been lumped together. As the person who had some responsibility for the founding of the universities of Nottingham, Leicester and Southampton and who spent a little time in the universities of Birmingham and Liverpool, I wonder what are the similarities and not the proud differences that they have with Oxford and Cambridge and not St. Andrews—which certainly believes, rightly or wrongly, that although it may have a Scottish flavour and a French connection, 1367 it also has very strong links with Oxford and Cambridge.
With respect to those who said it, I think that much of what has been said about the Scottish universities and their homogeneous nature is no longer true. It may have been true when there was a University of Glasgow and a University of Aberdeen. But then of course Edinburgh broke away. As the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor knows very well, Edinburgh is a town university formed and governed by an entirely different method originally from the other Scottish universities. For myself, I do not really believe that the case for a Scottish council has been made, although I accept that there are very important connections that have to be built with the other higher education institutions in Scotland.
§ Lord Dainton
My Lords, I should like to speak on this subject. Having heard so much eloquence expressed in the delightful Scottish accent and having heard other eloquent words expressed in an equally delightful English accent and phraseology, perhaps I may speak as a Yorkshireman who has an alliance with neither of the other two. I wish to speak as one who served for five years as chairman of the University Grants Committee and for whom this particular problem is very familiar. It is territory that has been gone over before.
Arising from what the noble Lord, Lord Hunter, has just said, I am bound to say that having considered the whole scene in the United Kingdom —and I think not only of Wales and Scotland, but also of Northern Ireland and all universities in England—the question that I put to myself is: are the differences between any of those four parts as great as or less than the differences between the types of universities in each of those sectors? I have to tell your Lordships that on grounds of the kind of work that they do in teaching, research and learning, the methods which they employ, the kind of way in which the students are assessed and even the way in which they are admitted and in terms of the general ethos of those who teach in them, the differences are far greater between, for example, a new university such as the University of Essex and a technological university such as Bradford, or a big civic university like those of Manchester or Sheffield and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge or the federal University of London, than ever exist between the universities as a whole of England and Wales on the one hand and Scotland on the other.
Indeed, the same diversity can be found in Scotland with its technological universities of Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt, its quite different kind of university, the new University of Stirling, and its ancient universities of St. Andrews, Aberdeen and Glasgow. But as the noble Lord, Lord Hunter, has pointed out, Edinburgh is really the first of the great civic universities of the United Kingdom and bears more relationship to the universities in those cities in the great mercantile and manufacturing centres of England than it does to its fellow Scottish universities.
I believe that to go down that particular road of trying to make a distinction of this kind is to emphasise a distinction where there is no real 1368 difference and I hope that your Lordships will not pursue that line, the outcome of which can only be divisive. There is no reason why particular Scottish traditions should not be reinforced within the present system. I can tell noble Lords in fairness, that it was so during my time at the University Grants Committee and during the time of my predecessors, one of whom was a very distinguished Scotsman, Lord Murray of Newhaven, and another the chairman of the proto-UGC before that body was formed, of course, Lord Haldane— and who could have a better chairman than he! His father advised him to study philosophy at GɆttingen rather than to go to Oxford where he would acquire the idle habits of the Oxonian.
In all ways I think that it would be a great pity if there were any division within the United Kingdom at this level of education, which is fundamentally an activity carried out at a standard which is not national in any sense, but international.
§ Lord Howie of Troon
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down perhaps I may ask him whether he would accept that there is one substantial difference, apart from the ones raised earlier; that is, that the Scottish universities, with the possible exception of St. Andrews, are rather more regional than are the English ones, and that the great majority of students from Glasgow will come from within hailing distance of that city.
§ Lord Dainton
My Lords, Glasgow is unique in that respect only. It is the one university in the United Kingdom to which, if I remember the figures correctly, about 85 per cent. to 87 per cent. of students come from within about 30 miles of Glasgow. However, that is not true, for example, of Edinburgh which has many English students. Nor is it true of St. Andrews, nor indeed of the Highland and Islands university of Aberdeen with its many students. I would say that Glasgow is unique not just in Scotland but in the United Kingdom.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, I agree very much with the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy on this issue. I well recall, as she does, the argument a year or two ago about whether the Scottish universities should go it alone or whether they should have a sub-committee of the University Grants Committee. In the end the decision was that universities should remain as part of the overall set-up. However, my memory also tells me it was understood that there should be a Scottish sub-committee of the University Grants Committee.
There is a successor now. We have the Universities Funding Council. Before I come to any conclusion on this amendment I would ask the Government what view they take on Amendment No. 388. That is the critical amendment. If we do not agree Amendment No. 386, that would be understandable if we could be assured that Amendment No. 388 were acceptable.
In that event, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that we are not trying to be independent. We wish to be part of the overall system. However, accepting that Scottish education is in many respects different and that the control of it lies with the 1369 Secretary of State for Scotland, we wish to be sure that that difference will be observed in one way or another. That is what is provided for in the amendment; namely, a sub-committee of the council.
§ The Lord Chancellor
My Lords, I do not wish to extend this debate further. It seems to me that whoever will be properly appointed, a member of the Universities Funding Council will be able to appreciate that not all universities are the same and will take account of the differences in carrying out his or her function. I am the first to accept that there are differences between universities in Scotland and those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As has already been pointed out by people with more experience of university administration than I have—although I have some experience of being a beneficiary of it—there are many differences between universities in Scotland, England and so on. This funding council will have to cope with differences between universities and try to deal fairly with them all, taking account of these differences.
As my noble friend Lady Carnegy said, the views of the universities themselves are important in this connection. Those who have experience of universities will know that unanimity is not perhaps the most common quality of decisions in universities. There are varieties of views among the universities of Scotland and within particular universities. For my part, I believe that the future of the universities of Scotland lies in the universities of the United Kingdom as a whole. In my view they are a very important, significant part of that unity. The treaty of union preserves the older universities that existed then. They are still functioning, and functioning extremely well. However, I believe that they are recognised internationally as part of the universities of the United Kingdom, and that they should remain.
So far as concerns a Scottish committee, it is plain that it might be appropriate for the funding council to establish a Scottish committee. Precisely how that would be arranged, and precisely what function it should have, would be a matter of experience and not necessarily set in concrete. Experience often shows that one's first proposal may require modification in order to function properly. There are many other committees that the UFC will require to set up. It seems right to give the UFC the freedom to set up its own structure including the way in which it might deal with the universities of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, as well as its relationships with other aspects of the education system such as the central institutions in Scotland or the polytechnics in England and Wales.
While I can well envisage, with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that a Scottish committee would be appropriate, I do not see that it is wise or necessary to set it up as a statutory sub-committee. I believe that it would be right to leave these arrangements to the good sense of the Universities Funding Council. I hope that in the light of all these considerations the noble Lord who proposed this amendment so eloquently will feel able to withdraw it.
§ Lord Grimond
My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and 1370 other very distinguished people for taking part in this debate.
Perhaps I may briefly answer three points. I have never wholly understood the attitude of those who oppose any form of devolution for Scotland. It is apparent that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, wants to rebuild Hadrian's Wall. That is a perfectly reasonable ambition. I have often thought that if I were English I should be a passionate Scottish nationalist because at one blow the Conservative Party would get rid of a very important part of the Opposition. Part of the reason why the Conservatives do so badly in Scotland is not that we do not understand what they are about, but that they do not understand what we are about. They constantly treat us as though we were delinquent English people. I am wholly on the side of the noble Lord. If he wishes to do so, let him do it by all means.
Perhaps I may also say that we were delighted to see a Beloff at Edinburgh University. No doubt many American universities are delighted to see people from this country. But it does not mean that we should amalgamate the American and British university systems. What is the difference between them? The difference is the system of education. The early part of the Bill that we are discussing applies to England only. It is a wholly separate system. The Scottish universities are the apex of the system in Scotland. That alone puts them in a different position.
It was also suggested that there is no more difference between the Scottish universities than between the universities of Edinburgh and Birmingham. I am far from claiming any special knowledge of universities. But it so happens that I have been Rector of Edinburgh University and, owing to the wonderful insight of the noble Lord, Lord Hunter, I was appointed to a committee to examine the University of Birmingham. I am eternally grateful to the noble Lord. I spent many of the happiest days of my life looking into the virtues of that university.
Both universities have very great virtues. However, they are quite different. To mingle and move about the University of Birmingham is quite different from mingling and moving about the University of Edinburgh. The great difference in education is that the Scottish are devoted to a broad education—a four-year course—of what has been called the democratic intellect. That is very valuable and should be preserved. It has been proposed to write into the Bill many provisions—quite rightly in my view—for the disabled. Yet it is considered that we cannot write in what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor admits is necessary: that there should be provisions in the funding council for Scotland.
Perhaps I may say to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, that he clearly will not get any change out of the later amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, and I put down three different alternatives for the Government to accept on this matter. They have turned them all down. If there were any indication that the later amendment, in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, were going to be accepted, I would willingly withdraw this 1371 amendment. However, I am not prepared to do so. It is seen in Scotland as most extraordinary that no one in your Lordships' House, in a major education Bill, is prepared to stand up and say that the Scottish position should be written into the Bill. I beg to move.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 386) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 63; Not-Contents, 122.1372
|DIVISION NO. 4|
|Addington, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Airedale, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Alport, L.||Longford, E.|
|Ardwick, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Birk, B.||McNair, L. [Teller.]|
|Bottomley, L.||Mason of Barnsley, L.|
|Brooks of Tremorfa, L.||Mishcon, L.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Carter, L.||Nicol, B. [Teller.]|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Northfield, L.|
|David, B.||Perth, E.|
|Davies of Penrhys, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Ewart-Biggs, B.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ezra, L.||Russell, E.|
|Falkender, B.||Seear, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Serota, B.|
|Galpern, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Grimond, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|Hart of South Lanark, B.||Turner of Camden, B.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Houghton of Sowerby, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Howie of Troon, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Hughes, L.||White, B.|
|Jay, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Jenkins of Hillhead, L.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Adrian, L.||Cork and Orrery, E.|
|Aldington, L.||Cowley, E.|
|Allenby of Megiddo, V.||Cox, B.|
|Annan, L.||Craigavon, V.|
|Arran, E.||Cranbrook, E.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Crathorne, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Crickhowell, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Dainton, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Darcy (de Knayth), B.|
|Borthwick, L.||Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Dormer, L.|
|Brookes, L.||Dundee, E.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Eccles, V.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Erroll of Hale, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Faithfull, B.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Ferrier, L.|
|Carlisle of Bucklow, L.||Flowers, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Forester, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Fortescue, E.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Clitheroe, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Granville of Eye, L.|
|Colnbrook, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Grimston of Westbury, L.||Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Pym, L.|
|Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Renton, L.|
|Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Rochdale, V.|
|Harvington, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Havers, L.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Henley, L.||Seebohm, L.|
|Hesketh, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Hives, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Hooper, B.||Stedman, B.|
|Hunter of Newington, L.||Stevens of Ludgate, L.|
|Hylton-Foster, B.||Strange, B.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Kaberry of Adel, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Kimball, L.||Taylor of Gryfe, L.|
|Kinloss, Ly.||Teviot, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Layton, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Long, V.||Trafford, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|McFadzean, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Mackay of Clashfern, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Vinson, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Middleton, L.||Walston, L.|
|Mottistone, L.||Warnock, B.|
|Munster, E.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Newcastle, Bp.||Wyatt of Weeford, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Young, B.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, may I suggest that this is a suitable moment to break for dinner, and that we return at 8.45. I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.
§ Moved, accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.