HL Deb 16 May 1988 vol 497 cc11-76

3.7 p.m.

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

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Hooper.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]

Clause 71 [General provisions as to religious education]:

The Chairman of Committees

I should remind the Committee that a Division took place on Amendment No. 222, which is proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft. The Division took place in the early hours of last Friday morning and there was no quorum. Debate was therefore adjourned in accordance with Standing Order No. 55. Unless any noble Lord now wishes to re-open the debate, I shall put the Question again.

Baroness Cox moved Amendment No. 222: Page 68, line 35, after ("collective") insert ("Christian").

The noble Baroness said: It may help the Committee if I briefly summarise that debate. It took place in the early hours of Friday morning when few Members of the Committee were able to be present. Some have indicated a wish that there should be a brief recapitulation of what took place.

In moving Amendment No. 222 on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, who could not be here at that very late hour, it may be helpful if I speak briefly to Amendments Nos. 223 and 228 on which voting did not take place. In summarising the position briefly, as there are great pressures on Committee time, I shall not rehearse the evidence of the widespread violation of the letter and spirit of the 1944 Act. That is available in Hansard. Instead I shall seek to take the debate forward and clear up two misconceptions which I believe are outstanding.

In many schools there is excellent provision for Christian worship but in many other schools there is no active worship at all. As the right reverend Prelate said: Much of what passes for worship … is thinly disguised propaganda for … (a) stance … not properly the substance of worship".—[Official Report, 12/5/88; col. 1346.] In many other schools that act of worship has been transmuted into a multi-faith celebration of shared values. That is a development, I regret to say, commended by the Government earlier this year. There is certainly a place for a celebration of shared values especially in a pluralist society but that is a far cry from the worship of Almighty God and no substitute for it.

All that Amendment No. 223 seeks to do is to recognise explicitly on the face of the Bill the intention behind the 1944 Act by inserting the word "Christian" before collective worship. Amendment No. 228 provides also for the most important freedom for parents to withdraw their children if they do not wish them to participate in Christian worship. Therefore, appreciating that our society has changed since 1944 (with many citizens living in this country who adhere to other faiths), it would enable such people to have acts of worship according to their own faith if they so wish. That is a most important extention of the 1944 Act.

We recognise that the wording of these amendments may well be imperfect. I am especially not happy with the use of the word "sect", which featured in the amendment originally tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Somers. However, the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, and I both made it clear on Thursday night that we would be happy to withdraw the later amendments in the light of the assurance given by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London that on Report he would bring back further amendments that would meet our concerns more accurately. We are most grateful to the right reverend Prelate, and hope that we shall be able to support such amendments at that stage.

However, we could see no reason in the arguments put forward by the right reverend Prelate why the principle of Amendment No. 222 should be unacceptable, except that we agree it does not perhaps go far enough relating as it does to grant-maintained schools only. Nevertheless, the right reverend Prelate seemed unwilling to accept an amendment which places the word "Christian" before the words "collective worship". He was unwilling on two grounds. The first was because of the need to negotiate with other groups; and the second was because of practicalities, especially the shortage of Christian teachers. On that first point, I shall say briefly that numerous representatives of other faiths, to whose concerns we must rightly be deeply sensitive, have repeatedly argued that they prefer their children to attend schools where Christianity is enshrined as the main religion of this land. The noble Lord, Lord Jakobovits, the Chief Rabbi, spoke most movingly in this respect, and quoted from the Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who found his Jewish faith enhanced from attending a school where Christian worship was enshrined, because respect for one faith enhances respect for other faiths. Leaders of the Moslem community have urged us to restore Christianity to our schools. As a head teacher wrote in a letter to me, Hindu and Muslim parents entrust their children to Church schools because they want them to learn how to pray. Therefore many people are most puzzled by the apparent reluctance of the Church hierarchy to insert the word "Christian" before the words "collective worship". If that reluctance is finally derived from practical considerations of shortage of teachers—which was another point raised by the right reverend Prelate on Thursday night—it can be argued that we need the framework of the law even more urgently, for we see what a sorry situation has developed as a result of not identifying Christianity on the face of the Bill in 1944.

Many Christian teachers now feel unable to lead worship in schools because of pressure from secularised hierarchies to offer a secularised, and sometimes politicised, celebration of shared values which they see—

Lord Tordoff

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness, but she said she would give a brief resume of what happened last Thursday night. I was here at that time. I feel that she has gone beyond that point and is in the process of raising others. Thus far she has had just under five minutes. I wonder whether this is a proper way for the Committee to proceed. The debate on Thursday night has all been reported in Hansard, and has no doubt been read by many Members of the Committee.

Baroness Cox

I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his advice. I said that I was trying to clarify two outstanding misconceptions, and in fact I have almost finished. However, I am most grateful to him and I shall now move very fast.

I return to the issue of teachers. I must point out that many teachers are prevented from presenting Christian worship because they see what they are required to do as a betrayal of their faith. Indeed, that was a point raised by the right reverend Prelate on Thursday night. The remedy is to specify Christian worship which would strengthen the position of those teachers, and then to take practical steps to meet remaining shortages; for example, to draw on local clergy and Christian laity. Over the passage of time it is probable that the opportunity to reinstate Christian teaching and worship will attract more Christian students into such teaching and reverse the downward spiral of recent years. However, present problems are no reason not to improve the legislative framework. The reverse is the case: they lend greater urgency to such initiatives.

I conclude by saying that all we are trying to do is to ensure that our children have the opportunity to become familiar with the Christian heritage of our country. That provision requires the opportunity for both Christian education and worship. As the right reverend Prelate said: One cannot have one without the other". Far too many schools are now failing to give children the opportunity to become familiar with the scriptures, with the hymns, and with the prayers which can be a source of infinite value later in life. Anyone who has worked with people in times of crisis knows how often such people turn to these spiritual resources when they are most in need.

Therefore, if we deny our young people the opportunity to have Christian worship, we deny them the most fundamental experience of our spiritual inheritance, which it is our responsibility to pass on to them. T. S. Eliot rightly said that a nation does not cease to be a Christian nation until it declares otherwise. We have not so declared. As a Christian nation we have a gospel to proclaim and a duty to proclaim it to our children; we have been guilty of failing so to do, and now we have an opportunity to correct that failure. I beg to move.

3.15 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of London

I had not intended to speak this afternoon—or at least not to speak until later in the debate. However, I think it might be helpful to the Committee if I briefly state one or two points. On more than one occasion I have given an undertaking to the Committee that at Report stage I shall bring back proposals which will deal both with religious instruction and with worship. In fact, I have gone even further: I have said that I shall do my best to ensure that such proposals provide for the word "Christian" to be on the face of the Bill—both in respect of the teaching and the worship. I hold myself wholeheartedly to those undertakings.

I am much encouraged by the way in which my discussions with a wide range of people are progressing. However, I must ask the Committee to realise that if one is involved in any type of discussions, or negotiations with people, it is impossible to retain their confidence and trust if, in the middle of such discussions, one suddenly decides to pre-empt one way of securing the aim which everyone is seeking to achieve.

The Committee will appreciate that it is extremely difficult for a bishop to find himself in the position of possibly having to vote against the inclusion in the Bill of the word "Christian". Nevertheless, I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and I have the same objective in mind, although, if I may put it delicately, I think perhaps I am more realistic and more informed about the actual situation in schools and in the classrooms. After all, I work as chairman of our board of education with all the people who are involved; namely, the authorities, the teachers and many others. We have the same objective.

In my heart I hope that this amendment will not be put to the vote. However, if it is, I am afraid—although it may be misunderstood and misrepresented—that I shall have to vote against it, because I believe that it will destroy my credibility in trying to pursue those discussions which, as I have already said, are proceeding at an encouraging rate. I believe that when we have the outcome it will secure what I think I can say is in the minds of all Members of the Committee: that the Christian faith, as it has been practised and lived in this country over the years, shall be maintained, and securely maintained, for the future; and that it will be taught to our children, not only through teaching but by their being able to experience it in worship.

I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn. I have given my undertakings. If the amendment is pressed, I shall have to vote against it. If it passed I shall be in a difficult position with those people to whom we are saying, "Look, we are now trying to work out something that is to come back on Report. What is your line?" We are now going to pre-empt those discussions and say that something must be done in one particular way in Christian collective worship. We have already had amendments on worship which have been accepted, and on which we can build and take advantage. It does not matter what the subject is, but if one tries to pre-empt a course of action during discussions one is in danger of seriously jeopardising those discussions.

I see this also as a matter of charity. If I go to talk to someone, I have to do so with a willingness to listen and not at the same time to say, "I have already decided on one point". I hope that those who propose the amendment accept what I say examino, and accept that I seek to achieve the same ends. We are moving well. It would be a great help towards securing truly Christian education and Christian worship if the amendment were withdrawn.

If the Committee made its mind clear that would help in our discussions. If the amendment is pressed, I shall have to vote against it because I believe that it will seriously prejudice those discussions.

Viscount Tonypandy

I can hardly believe my ears. It is sad for me to listen to those who are entrusted with the protection of the faith and to realise that we have been told this afternoon that it may be necessary to come back on Report and not to have the word "Christian" in the Bill.

The Lord Bishop of London

Will the noble Viscount kindly give way? I have made it abundantly clear that the intention behind the proposal that I will bring back on Report is that the word "Christian" should be on the face of the Bill and should apply to instruction and to worship. I have said that repeatedly in this place. I do not wish there to be any doubt about that.

Viscount Tonypandy

I apologise to the right reverend Prelate. I had the feeling—clearly I was wrong—that he wanted a free hand to negotiate on this question. I believe in every fibre of my being that there are some things on which we cannot afford to compromise. The heritage of our faith must be passed to our children. If we turn our backs on that, we shall have betrayed our generation. I apologise to the right reverend Prelate for having misunderstood something that he said.

The Lord Bishop of London

I should just like to make one point. It will not take a moment. If it were possible, which it is not, for the Committee to lay down a principle which would guide our discussions, that would be what we would want. That is not what the amendment proposes. The amendment is much more precise and much more committed than merely stating a principle which I think we all accept is our guide in our negotiations.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

I have my name down to two amendments on this subject. I urge that this amendment be not pressed. I accept what the right reverend Prelate has said. When negotiations are taking place, as they are at the moment, it would be stupid for the Committee to try to aggravate them and to place the negotiators in an invidious position. It would be wrong for us, no matter how strongly we feel, to embarrass this place, as it could be embarrassed, if we pressed the amendment to a vote. I urge, first, that the amendment be not pressed; and, secondly, that if it is pressed it is not voted on.

Lord Thorneycroft

If I may perhaps say a word of thanks to the right reverend Prelate for what he has been saying, nothing I have ever said or thought is meant to be used in criticism against him. I yield to no man in my respect for him, both for his humanity and for his Christianity. I understand fully the difficulties that he is in.

I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, that at first sight it is almost impossible to believe that we should be hesitant about including the word "Christian" in a Bill dealing with religious worship. I want to make one matter absolutely plain because at one moment it was not. Our hesitations have nothing whatever to do with the immigrants in this country. At one time it was being said—once the Front Bench was briefed to say it—that somehow we were no longer a Christian country. That is not true.

The immigrants in this country, if anything, have lent an immense impetus to the weight of Christian worship here.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

May I interrupt the noble Lord on a small point which may carry implications? Can we use the words "ethnic minorities" rather than immigrants?

Lord Thorneycroft

I will use practically any word the right reverend Prelate asks me to use. It is not other faiths that are stopping us. The fault lies not in our stars but in our souls if we are underlings in this matter.

The West Indians are pressing for more religious worship in the schools. They were accustomed to it in the Caribbean. They are amazed to see it lacking here. Some of them have gone off and started their own schools in order to have it. It is not the Mohammedans who are stopping us. The Moslems are praying that we should return to Christian worship. It is not the Jews. The noble Lord the Chief Rabbi in a brilliant speech here begged us to stop what he called the religious cocktail approach to religion in this country and to try to have the courage to stand up for our own faith.

The problem is more difficult. It is a real one. In the negotiations in which the right reverend Prelate is taking part he is not having problems with the Moslem religion, the Methodists or the Catholics; he is having to negotiate with the teachers and the local authorities. It is much better to face that fact head on. Thousands of teachers are far better Christians than I am. Thousands of local authorities are as keen as any of us to have religious education in the schools; but there are some who are agnostic. There are some schools, I am told, where the Lord's Prayer is not permitted to be said; there is one school in which the name of Jesus Christ must not be mentioned. There are such places. The right reverend Prelate has to negotiate with all those people.

It is very difficult to deal with cases of that kind. I am bound to say that if there is a school like that I believe it would be better not to have worship than to have that kind of worship. When prayers are replaced by political ditties, it is time to consider seriously whether worship is really being thought about.

However, I say this to the right reverend Prelate. Whatever else we do, let us not try to solve this problem by a negotiation so open-minded, so uninhibited, so uninhibited by the mention of our Saviour, that we can get agreement with everybody and yet at the end lose the great Christian tradition and the Christian faith that we possess.

I shall not delay the House, I know it is late and there are many other things to do. I am not going to press this because I think it is wrong to press people to vote on an issue which touches us so deeply on the basis of a Whip. But I give the warning that somehow or other this House must have an opportunity to express its opinion clearly on this. I thought that the right reverend Prelate, in answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, went a long way, I understand from him that he is not asking for an open negotiation now and I think that is right. He is asking for a negotiation which is circumscribed at least to the extent that the names of Christianity and Christ are not ruled out of the Bill. I am very glad to hear that.

3.30 p.m.

The Earl of Longford

I am entirely in sympathy with what is in the mind of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I feel great sympathy also of course for the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who has laboured on behalf of his Church and other Churches for a general settlement which I think is better than most of us expected some time ago. I am glad to think that he may have been relieved from his personal dilemma by what has just been said by the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft. I support entirely Amendment No. 222, but as we seem to be dealing with a number of amendments, at any rate notionally, I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, to look at Amendment No. 228 again. It says: The governors of non-denominational maintained schools, whilst ensuring that the act of collective worship in that school is Christian". I can imagine schools where that would be an absurdity—not many schools but a few. I hope the particular phrasing can be looked at again. If I were forced to vote I could not cast a vote except in support of the noble Baroness, but I gather from what the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, has said that we may not be faced with that appalling and agonising dilemma this afternoon.

Lord Somers

As the person in whose name this amendment was put down and who was not here on Thursday evening to move it, I record my grateful thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Thorneycroft, and also to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I agree with every single word that they have said. To the right reverend Prelate I can only say that if one worries too much over ethnic minorities one will end up by achieving nothing at all.

Lord St. John of Fawsley

Perhaps I may add a footnote to what has been said. I am in the happy position of agreeing entirely with what everybody has said in this short debate. All Members of the Committee who have spoken seem basically to be on the same side but have a slightly different means of approaching the matter. I should like to say how grateful I am, and I am sure many other Members of your Lordships' House are, to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and others for their sheer persistence in this matter. They are, as it were, the grit in the oyster which we trust will in the end produce the right reverend Prelate's pearl.

However, it is right that this House should not leave matters of such importance and consequence for the future education of our children to be settled alone by arcane negotiations between people, however worthy and however well qualified, but should from time to time make its views known.

I ask those who are in the process of negotiating to remember that behind the desire of people who want to see a specifically Christian commitment written on the face of the Bill is the experience of what has happened in a great number of schools. We have heard an example of one school from my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft. The aim is precisely to avoid that total exclusion of Christianity—that is one of the powerful motive forces behind those who want to see that word written in—be it in connection with education or in accordance with worship.

I merely wish to make the point that what is at issue here is not a theological point; it is rather a historical and cultural point. Religious experience could have come to this country through any manner of means. The fact is that our religious experience has come to us through the Christian religion, that our institutions have been formed by and large by Christianity. What those who support this amendment and other such amendments wish to see is that due recognition is given to the historical facts.

I am not sure that the wording of the amendment is right. Nevertheless, unlike the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, I am afraid that if it were put to the vote I would support it because I could not bring myself as a member of the Christian Church to vote against such a proposal. But we must all make up our minds in accordance with our consciences and responsibilities.

I am not sure either in the parallel amendment that the word "predominant" is right, because after all when one thinks of religion what is being thought of? It is something that exists to serve, not to dominate. Religious education and the act of worship are not to force a form of religion on young people; rather they are to open their eyes to the possibility of making spiritual commitments. But if that opening of eyes is to be effective, it should be done in this country within a broadly Christian context. That is the point. It may be difficult to find the words for this, but they must be found because it is essential to preserve the concept. We want something like a primacy of service for the Christian religion in this context. It is that kind of phraseolgy that I think would be widely acceptable, arouse the least hostility and would in the circumstances be the most appropriate.

Therefore, I for one wish the right reverend Prelate and others with whom he is negotiating good luck. I claim for myself and other Members of your Lordships' House only the right to make an occasional contribution to the discussion to assure the negotiators that they are being fully supported. Furthermore, they are being watched very closely by those who consider that this is perhaps the most important part of the whole Education Reform Bill.

Lord Beloff

I think that if a member of the ethnic minorities were to have a voice and not just be spoken about it would be a good thing. I have a great deal of sympathy with everything which has just been said by my noble friend Lord St. John of Fawsley. He pointed to a possible way in which this matter could be resolved. I am not privy to the current views on this amendment, but the speech of my own spiritual leader the noble Lord, Lord Jakobovits, the Chief Rabbi, has been referred to. But I do not believe that his important speech was intended as a backing for this specific amendment. As I understood it, it was rather giving a backing to the right reverend Prelate in his search for a formula which could appeal to those of all religions in this country. To press it beyond that, beyond the statement that clearly all religions benefit if religion is taught and understood, is unquestionable.

I must confess that I am a little worried by some of the things which have been said in support of the amendment not, I hasten to add again, by the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Fawsley, who I think got it about right. But there were some indications in the use of the words "a Christian nation" or "a Christian country" that persons like me who believe ourselves to be part of this nation (although practising a different religious faith) are somehow second-class citizens.

It is that which I think will create some anxiety among members of other faiths. That is why I very much hope that now that this issue has been quite properly ventilated, we shall all give our support to the right reverend Prelate in seeking an agreement which he can come and commend to us as acceptable to the leaders of all religions in this country as well as to all sections of the Christian faith.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

I hope that no one will accuse me of not being a Christian or not believing in my faith or not trying to bring my children up in that faith. However, I also hope that I am a parliamentarian.

We must surely remember that we are in Committee, we shall have the Report stage on which to vote, and we can amend and vote on Third Reading if need be. I read the debates in Hansard, which I thought had been satisfactorily concluded for the time being by what was said by the right reverend Prelate. I think it would be the greatest possible pity for anyone of any political or religious conviction whatever to press this amendment to a vote at this stage. We can vote on it later. In the meantime, we should follow the right reverend Prelate.

Lord Soper

I attach no emphasis whatever to my own personal conviction in this particular regard, which is that the advocacy of the Christian faith is for me dominant and imperative. But I want to support what has been said by my ecclesiastical and noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London because I believe the preempting of the issue at this moment would be disastrous.

What has been omitted from the debate hitherto is the fact that the word "Christian" is not a precise word. It covers a multitude of attitudes, some of them preferable to others. I believe it would be an anticipation of what properly comes later if we do not observe the very wise words of the noble and learned Lord who has just spoken that it would be wrong for us at this moment to accept this amendment. It would be right for us at this moment to take on board the conviction of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London that there is need for consultation and in that consultation there will be taken into account what has been said in this Chamber this afternoon. I do ask that this particular amendment be rejected at this stage for the benefit I believe of the worship and inculcation of religion in the schools in the future.

Lord Home of the Hirsel

I shall only speak for a moment. If this amendment is taken to a vote, I should have to vote for it because the issue cannot be shirked. But I am bound to confess that I would far rather that we gave the right reverend Prelate a little more time until Report in order to achieve what will be, I hope, a double of the use of the word "Christian" both in relation to Christian teaching in the schools and in relation to Christian collective worship. That is my position. But let us not put off the matter. It must be settled and settled soon.

Baroness Hooper

This is an important topic on which many of us hold strong views. We have now discussed the substance on three different occasions, and there is not a great deal that I can add to what I have said previously on all these amendments. I believe that the right time to return to a substantive debate will be on Report.

My advice to the Committee must be consistent. Last Thursday night I invited the Committee to support, as do the Government, the line advocated by the right reverend Prelate. We should return to these issues on Report when we can take into account the whole range of proposals as they affect all schools and not just grant maintained schools and when we shall have the benefit of the results of the consultations of the right reverend Prelate. This is not an unreasonable request. We want the best possible solution to what is a highly sensitive and most important issue.

A vote against this amendment would not in any event be a vote against Christianity appearing on the face of the Bill. It is simply a recognition that we are giving the right reverend Prelate the time that he has asked for. Nevertheless, I am greatly heartened to hear from my noble friends and the noble Lord, Lord Somers, that they do not intend to press their amendments at this stage.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Thorneycroft

Not for the first time I find myself in agreement with my noble friend Lord Home of the Hirsel. I think that he has struck exactly the right note in this matter. We have expressed our views strongly and we have great sympathy for the right reverend Prelate. I think that he understands the depth of feeling behind him in any negotiations that he enters. In those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 71 agreed to.

Clause 72 [Religious education in former county schools]:

Lord Somers had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 223: Page 70, line 7, leave out ("religious denomination") and insert ("Christian sect").

The noble Lord said: I have been told that the wording of the two amendments standing in my name is rather unsatisfactory, and that it implies that the way is left open for something other than the Christian concept. That was not my purpose. I meant to avoid confining the provision to any one particular sect of Christianity. But as this wording is unsatisfactory, I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 223 not moved.]

Lord Thorneycroft moved Amendment No. 224: Page 70, line 12, leave out ("religious denomination") and insert ("Christian sect").

The noble Lord said: I ask just to say one thing about the amendment which is on an entirely different subject. It has nothing to do with worship, but it is concerned with Christian instruction. I ask the Government to look at this clause carefully. It abolishes the teaching of the catechism, which I suppose I am prepared to accept; but it also deals with the question of not allowing the teaching of the Creed. The clause should be looked at rather carefully in common with many other of the educational issues. If the Minister will undertake to include this issue in the examination of the Bill, I should be very grateful. I beg to move.

Baroness Hooper

I can assure my noble friend that we shall be looking at this provision in the light of the whole package.

Lord Thorneycroft

In that case, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 72 agreed to.

Clauses 73 to 76 agreed to.

Clause 77 [Change of character or enlargement of grant-maintained school]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendments Nos. 224A and 224B: Page 73, line 46, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (1A) below,"). Page 74, line 3, at end insert— ("(1A) No proposals shall be published under this section for the purpose of making a significant change in the religious character of such a school unless the trustees of the school (if any) have given their consent in writing to the change in question.").

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to Amendments Nos. 224A and 224B with Amendment No. 207A. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 224C and 224D not moved.]

Clause 77, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 78 [Approval of school premises on change of character or enlargement]:

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth) moved Amendment No. 225: Page 75, line 9, at end insert (", and such particulars shall include a reference to the extent to which the proposed premises of the school will meet the requirements of Design Note 18 "Access for the Physically Disabled to Educational Buildings", published on behalf of the Secretary of State.").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment follows logically on the most welcome amendment introduced in another place to Clause 77. That amendment ensured that proposals for a change of character or enlargement of a grant-maintained school shall describe any effect that the implementation of such proposals would have on provisions for pupils with special educational needs.

My amendment will ensure that the particulars which the governing body must submit for approval by the Secretary of State include reference to the extent to which the proposed premises meet the requirements of Design Note 18. That document sets out the architectural requirements for access by disabled people to educational buildings. The amendment provides an excellent opportunity to ensure that access needs are not overlooked by mistake.

At Committee stage in the other place the Under-Secretary of State said that he recognised the anxieties that prompted the amendment but added that its provisions were unnecessary. He said that the particulars which the Secretary of State will require are sufficient to enable him to ensure that buildings meet the standards set, including aspects of Design Note 18.

That may be so. However, it is only a power; it is not a duty. Why should the Secretary of State have to ask about such details? Why not make it a routine matter to spell them out? If specific reference is made to Design Note 18, the governing body will have to think about access for disabled pupils when it first considers changes to a school. That could save time and also money that would be spent if it forgot those details until asked by the Secretary of State for them. If, by chance, the Secretary of State did not ask for those details, that could result in a partially inaccessible school.

I feel strongly that we need the amendment in the Bill to ensure that the needs of pupils with disabilities are safeguarded. I beg to move.

Lady Kinloss

I should like to support my noble friend. The matter was not debated at Report stage in another place. Does that mean that the Government see the issue as being more appropriate for regulation and guidance? The issue is as central to the integration of young people into mainstream education as is an entitlement to a balanced curriculum or right of admission to a school of their choice. It is essential that architectural requirements are kept in mind so as to avoid costly alterations. We need to ensure that disabled children are not restricted only to the accessible areas of schools.

Baroness Hooper

The Government had believed that the matter was adequately covered. Clause 78(1) permits the Secretary of State to request whatever information he considers necessary in relation to any building work which would be required to implement proposals for a significant change of character or enlargement of a grant-maintained school if those proposals are approved. The particulars which the Secretary of State will require should be sufficient to enable him to ensure that the buildings will meet the necessary constructional standards, including, where appropriate, those in Design Note 18.

The Government have also amended Clause 77(4). As a result, any proposals by the governors of a grant-maintained school for significant changes would have to be accompanied by a statement describing any effect which the implementation of the proposals would have on the provisions of the school for pupils with special educational needs. Such information will be taken fully into account by my right honourable friend in considering such proposals. I would expect, where appropriate, that it will include the kind of information to which Design Note 18 refers.

Nevertheless, I recognise the additional points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy (de Knayth) and the noble Lady, Lady Kinloss. I shall therefore take the matter back to reconsider whether we can go any further in this clause of the Bill.

Baroness Darcy (de Knayth)

I thank the Minister for that reply. I was a little worried when she first began to speak. There was a lot of, "the particulars should be sufficient" and "she would expect". I believe that my amendment would ensure that particulars are sufficient and that such matters were taken into account. Access can easily be overlooked. My noble friend Lady Kinloss is right in saying that the matter is central to the issue of integration.

When Clause 78 was introduced into the Bill, Clause 77 did not have any reference to special educational needs. It now does. I think that the logical progression would be to include such a provision in this clause as well. I am delighted with what the noble Baroness has said and I hope that she will come forward with a positive amendment at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 78 agreed to.

Clauses 79 and 80 agreed to.

Clause 81 [Withdrawal of grant by Secretary of State]:

[Amendment No. 225ZA not moved.]

Clause 81 agreed to.

Clause 82 [Winding up]:

On Question, Whether Clause 82 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness David

This clause deals with the winding up and disposal of property. I should like to ask the Minister why that process is not placed under the control of the Education Assets Board, the expert body which was appointed for the purpose of receiving and passing property on to new institutions. It seems to us that the role of the Secretary of State should be limited to assessing the education issues involved in the continuance or otherwise of such a school, leaving the financial and fiduciary issues to an independent organisation.

Baroness Hooper

I regret that I cannot give the noble Baroness a clear answer on that matter at this moment. Perhaps I may write to her.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clauses 83 to 87 agreed to.

Clause 88 [Provision of benefits and services for pupils by local education authorities]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 225A: Page 87, line 35, leave out from ("Where") to ("to") in line 37 and insert— ("(a) a local education authority are under a duty, or have power (whether by virtue of this section or otherwise),").

The noble Baroness said: With the leave of the Committee, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 225B, 225C and 225D. The amendments clarify the way in which a local education authority must approach its continuing duties and responsibilities towards pupils who attend grant-maintained schools in its area. At present, Clause 88 provides that where a local education authority has any continuing power to provide goods and services to a grant-maintained school or its pupils, it must exercise that power in such a way as to ensure that pupils at the grant-maintained school are no less favourably treated than those at schools which it maintains itself.

The amendments secure that that requirement for parity of treatment applies equally to any continuing duties which the local education authority has towards grant-maintained schools and their pupils. I hope that the Committee will agree that the provisions are fair and just. I commend them to the House, and I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendments Nos. 225B to 225D: Page 87, line 38, leave out ("may exercise the power") and insert ("the duty is to be performed, or the power may be exercised,"). Page 87, line 41, leave out from beginning to ("treat") and insert ("the authority shall in performing the duty, or exercising the power,"). Page 88, line 8, at end insert— ("This subsection is without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above").

The noble Baroness said: I have spoken to the amendments. I beg to move them en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 88, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 89 agreed to.

Clause 90 [Variation of trust deeds relating to grant-maintained schools, etc.]:

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 225E: Page 89, line 38, leave out ("or other proprietor of the school") and insert ("of the school and the trustees (if any)").

The noble Baroness said: I have spoken to Amendment No. 225E with a previous amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 90, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 91 and 92 agreed to.

4 p.m.

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 226: Before Clause 93, insert the following new Clause:

("Abolition of corporal punishment extended to independent schools.

.—(1) Section 47 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 (abolition of corporal punishment) shall be amended as follows.

(2 For subsection (5) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (5) In this section "pupil" means a person—

  1. (a) for whom education is provided—
    1. (i) at a school maintained by a local education authority;
    2. (ii) at a special school not so maintained:
    3. (iii) at a grant-maintained school; or
    4. (iv) at an independent school; or
  2. (b) for whom primary or secondary education, or education which would be primary or secondary education if it were provided full-time, is provided by a local education authority otherwise than at school;
but does not include any person who is aged eighteen or over.

(3) Subsections, 6, 7 and 9 shall be omitted.

(4) Section 48A of the Education Act (Scotland) 1980 (Abolition of corporal punishment of pupils) shall be amended as follows.

For subsection (5) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (5) In this section "pupil" means a person—

  1. (a) for whom education is provided—
    1. (i) at a public school;
    2. (ii) at a grant-aided school; or
    3. (iii) at an independent school; or
  2. (b) for whom school education is provided by an education authority otherwise that at a school."
Subsection 6, 8 and 10 shall be omitted.").

The noble Baroness said: My noble friend Lord Henderson of Brompton, in whose name the amendment also stands, is not well and he has asked me to move the amendment. The effect of the amendment is to extend the ban on corporal punishment in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 so that it covers all pupils at independent schools as well as all state school pupils. This would make any act of corporal punishment by a teacher on a pupil a civil wrong at whatever school it took place. It would still be a criminal offence only if it was immoderate and unreasonable. It does not prevent teachers from using necessary physical force to prevent personal injury or damage to property.

Corporal punishment promotes the wrong kind of relationship between teachers and pupils. It helps to foster in children a negative attitude towards school which impedes the process of teaching and learning. It is anti-educational.

When corporal punishment was banned in the Inner London Education Authority in 1981 there was a dramatic fall in the level of assaults by pupils on teachers. That demonstrates yet again that violence breeds violence. In the words of the Association of Educational Psychologists, children who are beaten tend in their turn to beat and to bully. It has never been a deterrent; it has always been the same pupils who are given corporal punishment again and again.

Most private schools find corporal punishment unnecessary and do not use it. Many would welcome the extension of the ban to private schools. At the time of the legislation two years ago Mr. Christoper Everett, Head of Tonbridge School and Chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, said that it would have been better if corporal punishment had also been outlawed in independent schools. On the whole it is the smaller and less prestigious schools which retain it and it is in some of those, often prep schools, that the worst abuses have occurred.

The European Commission of Human Rights is still considering several complaints about corporal punishment in British private schools. Given the stance it has taken against corporal punishment in state schools on the grounds that it is degrading punishment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, it will doubtless take the same attitude against corporal punishment in private schools. The UK will then be forced to eliminate it completely from our education system. It would be very much better to do so now.

Under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 corporal punishment is already illegal for some independent school pupils: those whose education is financed either in whole or in part by central or local government. That includes the 25,000 or so pupils with assisted places and approximately another 20,000 pupils placed in an independent school by a local education authority because of need. It also covers the 500 children at five specialist music and ballet schools whose fees are paid by the Government and those pupils who attend the few remaining direct grant schools. The Government have made it clear that they will use their powers under regulations to outlaw corporal punishment in the new city technology colleges. Approaching 10 per cent. of independent school pupils are therefore already protected from corporal punishment.

As a result in many independent schools there are currently two classes of pupil, those who can and those who cannot be given corporal punishment—the beatable and the unbeatable. In the approximately 250 schools which have assisted places the category in which a child is placed will often depend on the size of the parents' pocket. If its parents are too wealthy for an assisted place the child will be liable to corporal punishment. That is clearly an absolutely absurd situation, one of discrimination against the wealthy.

I understand that there is usually a free vote on these occasions. There was a free vote in another place when corporal punishment was discussed. I hope that it will be the same in this instance. I beg to move, and hope that the Minister can agree the amendment.

Lord Beloff

It seems only yesterday that the noble Baroness and I were debating this subject and that I pointed out the folly we had entered into in allowing Continental jurists with no knowledge of our own institutions to decide on the method of discipline in our schools. I maintain that position. I am rather surprised that the noble Baroness has not shifted a little in that direction.

She and her colleagues are always asking us to pay more attention to the views of the teachers' unions. In the last round of teachers' conferences there were many references to the fact that they believed that they had lost one method of discipline and that the increase in assaults on teachers—which we must all deplore—was the result. I admit that they did not suggest that we go back on the convention or the law. However, there is no confirmation from teachers that educational psychologists—a very odd brood—are right when they affirm the ill effects of corporal punishment.

There is another question. That is the question of the independent schools, which are not primarily the subject of the Bill. I can only assume that it is part of the wishes of the movers of the amendment to diminish the attraction that independent schools have for parents, because one main reason why parents choose independent schools is that they believe that their children will receive more discipline. It seems to me that it is a matter for the schools and for the parents. If one believes in independent education at all then surely the schools and the parents rather than the law should decide the method and manner of discipline. I hope that the Committee—free vote or no free vote—will reject the amendment.

Lord Aldington

I must declare my interest again. I believe that I have done so twice already in the discussions on the Bill. I happen to be chairman of the Independent Schools Joint Council.

This proposal is an invasion of the independence of the independent schools in deciding on discipline in education. That is surely a misuse of the Education Reform Bill. If it is the case that the civil law should be altered, then it should be altered in general. It should not be altered in this Bill to invade the independence of independent schools.

As the noble Baroness rightly stated, there are different views among headmasters and governing bodies of independent schools. There are a number of schools which have abandoned corporal punishment altogether. There are a number of schools which have retained corporal punishment in theory but do not use it or use it very seldom. There are some schools which use corporal punishment. But whatever they do they do with the consent of parents. In selecting a school the parents choose to send their child to a school which uses or does not use corporal punishment. So the amendment is not only an invasion of independence; it is an invasion of the parents' choice.

I know that there are many noble Lords and distinguished people outside the Chamber who hold strong views one way or the other on the use of corporal punishment. When I refer to corporal punishment I mean corporal punishment within the law of the country, I know that to be so. What right have we to overrule the independence of governing bodies and headmasters of independent schools and to overrule the choice of parents? That seems to me to be the fundamental objection to this amendment.

In the course of her speech introducing the amendment, the noble Baroness referred to the European Court. She appeared to me to be saying that it had already expressed strong opinions against the use of corporal punishment in Britain under Article 3 of the convention. My information is that that is not so. The famous case which led to the alteration of the law in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 followed the decision by the European Court that it was against the convention to administer corporal punishment—or even, in that particular case, to threaten to administer corporal punishment—without the consent of parents. The question was also put to the Court whether corporal punishment was or was not contrary to Article 2. It gave no judgment on that point because it had no evidence. I am not aware of any case which has come before the Court on which it has decided that corporal punishment within the criminal law of Britain is contrary to the convention. The noble Baroness may have other information, but I have done my best to be well briefed.

My recommendation to the Committee is that it rejects the amendment. I should like to add that not only is it against independence, not only is it against parents' choice, but it is against a principle which has constantly been put to us from the other side of the Chamber, namely that before any reforms or changes in the law take place there should be full consultation. To my knowledge there has been absolutely no consultation by the movers of the amendment with any of the properly constituted authorities of the independent schools.

I must ask the noble Baroness whether she has her tongue in her cheek when she continually accuses my noble friends on this side of the Chamber of making proposals without consultation. This is an absolutely clear case of a major reform as regards the discipline in independent schools which has occurred without any consultation whatsoever. I think it is wrong and I recommend the Committee to reject the amendment.

The Earl of Longford

I should like to ask the noble Lord a question before he sits down. Does one of the greatest schools in the world, over which I believe he still presides, maintain corporal punishment?

Lord Aldington

I do not know the latest position because, as the noble Earl is aware I am no longer warden of the school. I believe that at one time the school still kept the right to administer corporal punishment but in recent years has not used it. I am not sure whether that is so.

Baroness Elliot of Harwood

As the Committee will know, I have been away for a very long time. I did not know that this issue was to be discussed, although the noble Lord, Lord Henderson, telephoned me at home to ask me whether I would put my name to this amendment. I feel very strongly indeed about this matter but to exactly the opposite effect from the noble Lord, Lord Aldington.

I do not care for corporal punishment. I do not think that it is the right way to treat young children. As the noble Baroness, Lady David, said, it leads to violence and bad feeling between the teacher and the child, and it is not necessary. There are enormous numbers of schools today that would not dream of instigating corporal punishment. I believe that this is the moment at which its abolition should be encouraged. I do not think, as does the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, that it will interfere with independent schools. I know many independent schools that have done away with corporal punishment and there is no reason at all to continue it.

I have not had the time to prepare this point in detail because I have only just returned from absence but I should like to add some comment. I feel very strongly that this is the moment at which we should try to make things even for all children who go to school and that corporal punishment should not be included among the possible punishments. There are many ways to punish children. Indeed, we can often talk them out of doing something wrong. I do not think we can achieve that aim by beating them. I hope very much that the Committee will approve this amendment.

4.15 p.m.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

As the noble Baroness, Lady David, made clear, these amendments attempt to extend the abolition of corporal punishment in England, Wales and Scotland, which was provided for in the maintained sector in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, to all pupils in independent schools. At present only those pupils who attend independent schools at public expense are exempt from corporal punishment.

During the course of her remarks, the noble Baroness said that it was only the baddies who were beaten and that it happened to the same young men time and time again. Oh dear! From my experience I recall that I was beaten more times than I care to remember, so I must therefore fall into the category of baddie advanced by the noble Baroness. I dare say that other Members of the Committee do likewise.

The Committee will recall the case of Campbell v. Cosans heard in the European Court of Human Rights. The court decided that parents who hold a philosophical conviction against the use of corporal punishment in schools were entitled to have that conviction respected. In fact that decision was made under Article 2 of the European Convention and not under Article 3, which speaks of inhuman and degrading treatment, although it is true to say that currently there is a case before the European Court which relies upon Article 3. That case, however, has not yet been decided.

Following that earlier judgment under Article 2, the Government sought to introduce arrangements for exemption from corporal punishment in order to comply with the court's judgment. During the passage of the Bill that was to become the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, an amendment abolishing corporal punishment in all schools was carried in this Chamber. Subsequently in another place it was decided by a majority of just one to accept abolition of corporal punishment in maintained schools only.

Thus the United Kingdom has in the public sector more than discharged its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The situation in the independent sector is quite different. Parents who elect to send their children to independent schools do so of their own free will and they are at liberty to choose a school with an approach to discipline with which they are content. The state is not directly responsible for the education of those children. Its responsibility to independent schools generally is to ensure that minimum standards are met, these being standards of premises and accommodation, of instruction and of the suitability of teachers and proprietors. The Government's obligations under the convention are fully met in the public sector. It is not necessary for the state to intervene in the independent sector where parents exercise their freedom of choice.

An exception must be made, however, where the state itself provides education in the independent sector. In these circumstances there is a duty to ensure that parents and their children have the same rights as those in the maintained sector, and this has been provided for in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986. Those principally affected are pupils on the assisted places, music and ballet schemes.

The new clause also refers to pupils at grant-maintained schools. However, this reference is unnecessary, since paragraph 33 of Schedule 10 to the Bill already extends the abolition of corporal punishment to such schools.

It is argued sometimes that by allowing corporal punishment to continue in independent schools the Government are nonetheless in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention—the one to which I have already referred concerning inhuman or degrading treatment. The Government do not accept that corporal punishment reasonably and moderately adminstered with a proper instrument and in a decent manner amounts to degrading or inhuman treatment. We shall certainly defend our position if called upon to do so.

In short, the Government have met their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Pupils in state schools and pupils in attendance at independent schools which are assisted from public funds are both exempt under the new law. Parents who choose to have their children educated at an independent school at which corporal punishment is still practised have an unfettered right to make that choice. It is not this Government's intention to interfere with that personal freedom. I very much hope that the amendment will not be pressed.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

Before the noble Lord sits down perhaps he would clear up one point for me. The noble Baroness who opened this debate said that there had been a notable reduction in assaults since corporal punishment was stopped in maintained schools. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said the opposite. I wonder which statement is correct.

Lord Trefgarne

My information is that there has not been a reduction in classroom violence following the abolition of corporal punishment. On the contrary, I believe that there has been an increase.

Baroness David

The noble Lord, Lord Aldington, referred to the European Court. I said that the European Commission on Human Rights under Article 3 ruled that corporal punishment was degrading. I think that is correct. So far as consultation is concerned I said that Mr. Christopher Everett, head of Tonbridge School and chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, said two years ago that it would have been better if corporal punishment had been outlawed in independent schools. I think that one can count that to be as good as consultation.

Noble Lords

Oh, oh!

Baroness David

Well, we have heard what the Headmasters' Conference says and I respect that advice.

Lord Beloff

I am sure that the noble Baroness is aware that the chairmanship of the Headmasters' Conference is an office that rotates annually, and unless there is a resolution of the conference the chairman for the current year speaks only for himself.

Baroness David

I thank the noble Lord. I suspect that people have made their minds up about this one way or the other. I am very disappointed in the Government's response. I thought that they might clear this matter up once and for all. We are left with the ridiculous position that those pupils who are paid for by the state cannot be beaten and the others can be. That is a ridiculous situation. I shall therefore press this matter to a vote.

4.20 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 226) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided; Contents, 105; Not-Contents, 139.

Airedale, L. Basnett, L.
Amherst, E. Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Annan, L. Birk, B.
Ardwick, L. Blackstone, B.
Aylestone, L. Bonham-Carter, L.
Banks, L. Boston of Faversham, L.
>Bottomley, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Lockwood, B.
Caradon, L. Longford, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Carter, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. McNair, L. [Teller.]
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Milford, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Milverton, L.
David, B. Mishcon, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Morton of Shuna, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Mountevans, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mulley, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Ennals, L. Nicol, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Northfield, L.
Falkender, B. Oram, L.
Falkland, V. Peston, L.
Fisher of Rednal, B. Ponsony of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Fitt, L.
Flowers, L. Quinton, L.
Foot, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Gallacher, L. Rochester, L.
Galpern, L. Russell, E.
Goodman, L. Sai nsbury, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. St. Davids, V.
Grey, E. Seear, B.
Grimond, L. Serota, B.
Harmsworth, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Stallard, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Stedman, B.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hughes, L. Swann, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Hylton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. Tordoff, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Jay, L. Underhill, L.
Jeger, B. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L. White, B.
John-Mackie, L. Wigoder, L.
Kilbracken, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Willis, L.
Kirkwood, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Leatherland, L.
Listowel, E. Young of Dartington, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Croft, L.
Aldington, L. Croham, L.
Allerton, L. Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Ampthill, L. Davidson, V. [Teller.]
Attlee, E. Denham, L. [Teller.]
Auckland, L. Derwent, L.
Bauer, L. Digby, L.
Beaverbrook, L. Eden of Winton, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Ellenborough, L.
Beloff, L. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Belstead, L. Ferrers, E.
Bessborough, E. Fortescue, E.
Blatch, B. Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Blyth, L. Gainford, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Geddes, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Gibson-Watt, L.
Bramall, L. Gisborough, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Glenarthur, L.
Buckmaster, V. Gray of Contin, L.
Butterworth, L. Greenhill of Harrow, L.
Caithness, E. Gridley, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Grimthorpe, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone L.
Carnock, L.
Cathcart, E. Halsbury, E.
Cawley, L. Hanson, L.
Coleraine, L. Hardinge of Penshurst, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Harvington, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Havers, L.
Cottlesloe, L. Hesketh, L.
Cox, B. Hives, L.
Holderness, L. Platt of Writtle, B.
Hood, V. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Hooper, B. Porritt, L.
Hunter of Newington, L. Pym, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Rankeillour, L.
Ingleby, V. Reay, L.
Ironside, L. Renton, L.
Jessel, L. Rochdale, V.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Rodney, L.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Rotherwick, L.
Killearn, L. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Kinnaird, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Long, V. Salisbury, M.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
McFadzean, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. Sandford, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Selborne, E.
Malmesbury, E. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Manton, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Margadale, L. Somers, L.
Marley, L. Stockton, E.
Marsh, L. Strange, B.
Merrivale, L. Sudeley, L.
Mersey, V. Suffield, L.
Middleton, L. Swinfen, L.
Monson, L. Teviot, L.
Morris, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Munster, E. Thurlow, L.
Nelson, E. Trafford, L.
Norfolk, D. Trefgarne, L.
Northbourne, L. Trumpington, B.
Nugent of Guildford, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Orkney, E. Ward of Witley, V.
Orr-Ewing, L. Whitelaw, V.
Pender, L. Wise, L.
Pennock, L. Wolfson, L.
Penrhyn, L. Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Perth, E. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

[Amendment No. 227 not moved.]

Clause 93 [Collective worship at schools]:

[Amendment No. 228 not moved.]

Clause 93 agreed to.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Pennock moved Amendment No. 228A: After Clause 93, insert the following new clause:

("Governing bodies—County etc. special schools.

. In section 3 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, for subsections (2), (3), (4) and (5) there shall be substituted the following subsections— (2) The instrument of government for such a school which has less than 100 registered pupils shall, subject to section 7 of this Act, provide for the governing body to consist of the following (and no others)—

  1. (a) one parent governor;
  2. (b) one governor appointed by the local education authority;
  3. (c) the head teacher, unless he chooses not to be a governor; and
  4. (d) either—
    1. (i) two foundation governors and one co-opted governor, in the case of a controlled school; or
    2. (ii) three co-opted governors, in any other case.
(3) The instrument of government for such a school which has more than 99, but less than 300, registered pupils shall, subject to section 7, provide for the governing body to consist of the following (and no others)—
  1. (a) two parent governors;
  2. (b) two governors appointed by the local education authority;
  3. (c) the head teacher, unless he chooses not to be a governor; and
  4. 34
  5. (d) either—
    1. (i) three foundation governors and one co-opted governor, in the case of a controlled school; or—
    2. (ii) four co-opted governors, in any other case.
(4) The instrument of government for such a school which has more than 299, but less than 600, registered pupils shall, subject to section 7, provide for the governing body to consist of the following (and no others)—
  1. (a) three parent governors;
  2. (b) three governors appointed by local education authority;
  3. (c) the head teacher, unless he chooses not to be a governor; and
  4. (d) either—
    1. (i) four foundation governors and one co-opted governor, in the case of a controlled school; or
    2. (ii) five co-opted governors, in any other case.
(5) The instrument of government for such a school which has more than 599 registered pupils shall, subject to section 7, provide for the governing body to consist of the following (and no others)—
  1. (a) four parent governors;
  2. (b) four governors appointed by the local education authority;
  3. (c) the head teacher, unless he chooses not to be a governor; and
  4. (d) either—
    1. (i) four foundation governors and two co-opted governors, in the case of a controlled school; or
    2. (ii) six co-opted governors, in any other case." ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, unfortunately is not able to be present today. However, he has asked me to speak to these amendments, because I make exactly the same points under Amendments Nos. 267F and 268ZA, and it seems sensible to incorporate discussion on all three amendments rather than consider them separately.

I have been asked to speak on behalf of the business community because the Government have called upon us to play such a significant part on the governing bodies under the Bill. We accept those responsibilities with, I think, considerable satisfaction but also a growing sense of responsibility as we recognise how important they are. There has been a great deal of thought and of heart-searching among industrialists and business men as to the effective working of governing bodies, and I should like to give two general reactions before turning to the specific proposals in the amendments.

The first general reaction appertains to size. Under the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, which governs the regulations affecting governing bodies, it is stated that the maximum size of a governing body should be 25. Business men seek to advance the view that wherever possible in a committee, action group, board or governing body, small is beautiful, and that provided one can contain and obtain sufficient variety of views, necessary to ensure that every opinion is expressed, the body should be as small as possible.

We are of the opinion, advanced with due diffidence, that above 15 members a governing body is likely to find its effectiveness inversely proportionate to the size of the membership. There is a tendency, we feel, for bodies to become talking shops when they assume this size and for individuals to speak as if from a public platform. Rarely is there achieved an identity and cohesion of purpose which we believe necessary for effectiveness. It is our belief that smaller numbers on a body work much better as a team. In smaller groups a contribution leads to dialogue. Contribution is more frequent, more informal, more flexible and leads, under good chairmanship, to a sense of common purpose and much speedier effective action. When bodies are smaller they tend to get things done.

I recall an earlier period in my life when I had the good fortune to be a member of the NEDC, which perhaps places a magnifying glass on this principle which I am putting forward. The NEDC used to meet regularly with six trade union representatives, a significant number of Cabinet Ministers and representatives of the CBI, the Bank of England, consumer research, small companies and the NED office itself. The NEDC enabled members to be aware of opposing views and there were educative implications and consequences which boded for good. But it was not, alas, a body which became famed for reaching decisions and getting things done. It is our belief as business men that, perhaps in a more constrained way, but equally effectively, the governing bodies of schools, if they are smaller, will achieve effective action much more speedily and much more in accord with the desired results which the body as a whole is seeking to achieve.

The next general point I should like to make on behalf of the business community is really concerned with attitudes and the danger of considering oneself, on any board, governing body or committee, as representing sectional interests, when one has an interest over and above the sector from which one has hailed. And that is the effective working of the body as a whole.

I refer somewhat obliquely to the famous speech of Burke to the electors of Bristol almost 200 years ago which I am sure many noble friends will recall. He took to task his electors by saying that he was not simply a mouthpiece representing those who had voted for him. He was there to give his judgment on national issues and it was because of that judgment that he sought to be in the position that he was in.

Although the various members of governing bodies come from different sectors of the community—from local government authorities, from the business community, from teachers and from parents—we believe that, having been selected and appointed from those sectors, they should not simply represent the views of those sectors on a governing body but should seek to ensure the effective corporate working of the governing body as a whole. Therefore, these amendments seek to ensure that the business community is not just representing business men but that business men are selected to act as they consider best in the overall interest.

So, bearing those two general points in mind, Amendment No. 228A proposes a scale with fewer governors. Instead of 25 there will be a maximum of 15, starting with six governors for small schools with less than 100 and working up to the maximum of 15 in schools with more than 600 children.

The amendment specifies the various interests which should be represented but—and here I should face a very clear implication—it does not mention teacher governors as a category. If a governing body so wishes, this in no way excludes teachers from becoming governors. We are recognising the problem of size, our feeling that a head teacher should be able and competent to represent his teaching staff, and even thereby to become a better leader but also the possibility of teacher representatives meeting governors and attending governing boards in order to put forward specific views. Although there is no insistence that there should be governors from the teacher category, this amendment in no way excludes that.

In conclusion, business interests are not seeking to dictate or to superimpose views which they may have from their own experience on governing bodies, because we recognise that governing bodies must be democratically elected and represented. I believe that large bodies do not lead to speedy and effective action. To be a governor is not to represent a sectional interest, even though one is selected from a specific sector. On both those counts I put the amendments before the Committee.

Baroness Hooper

I understand the concerns which have led my noble friend to seek to make these changes to the composition of school governing bodies. He is concerned that they may prove to be unwieldly; there may be difficulty in recruiting enough people to act as governors and that, in the case of teachers, there may be inappropriate conflicts of interest inherent in their membership of school governing bodies.

While I understand those concerns I do not share them. In the course of the preparation of the measures introduced in the Education (No. 2) Act 1986, the Government gave careful consideration to the size, nature and composition of governing bodies. We see no justification for revising the conclusions which we then reached and which were endorsed by this House, especially as the first objective of the changes will be to secure a better balance of interest on governing bodies.

The measure which the 1986 Act introduces for county voluntary-controlled and maintained special schools will mean that in future there is a more even balance between the various interests which have a right to be represented on governing bodies; the parents, local authorities, teachers and the wider community served by the school. No single interest will predominate and the scope for governing bodies to be taken over by a particular faction will be substantially reduced.

The Government also gave careful attention to the question of the size of large governing bodies. My noble friend has spoken in favour of much smaller bodies. The Act provides for governing bodies of county-controlled and maintained special schools to range in size from eight to 19 members, depending upon the size of the school. Given that the largest comprehensive schools are organisations serving between 1,000 and 2,000 pupils, employing 200 to 300 staff and having an annual budget well in excess of £5 million, I do not believe that in such a case a governing body of just under 20 members can be regarded as excessively large.

Of course we recognised that there is work to be done in recruiting and training governors. For that reason the Government are currently publicising the role of school governors; hence also the current discussion with local authorities and other interested organisations about how best we can contribute to the development of appropriate training strategies. Recently we have also suggested to the local authority associations that education support grants on expenditure of £4.9 million may be made available next year in order to help all local education authorities carry out that task.

The matter of teacher governors was considered carefully in the context of the 1986 Act. We decided that it was appropriate to preserve the minimum position established in the 1980 Education Act. There are many good reasons for including teacher representatives on school governing bodies. For example, they can provide a professional viewpoint on a number of matters which will be of increasing significance in the work of the governing body. It is important that that expertise should be available, particularly in relation to financial delegations, for example. For that reason we believe that their presence should be more than merely optional.

There are safeguards to ensure that conflicts of interest do not arise. Schedule 2 to the Education (School Government) Regulations 1987 requires any governor, whether or not a teacher representative, to withdraw from a meeting of the governing body that is considering matters in which he or she has a financial or personal interest. In our view it would be going too far to give teacher representatives a reduced role or to eliminate them from governing bodies altogether.

Finally I must stress that the great majority of schools do not have governing bodies constituted under the 1986 (No. 2) Act. For many schools the provisions will take effect this September, but in the voluntary-aided and special-agreement schools it will be the following autumn. Surely it is premature to propose to change the new composition of governing bodies without waiting to see whether it is successful. Therefore I hope that my noble friend will give the new bodies a chance and in the meantime withdraw his amendment.

Lord Pennock

In the circumstances, I am happy to withdraw the amendment and shall not move Amendments Nos. 228B, 267F and 268ZA when we come to them. I rest satisfied that the business interests have made their points to the Government.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 228B not moved.]

Clause 94 [Agreements for establishment, etc. of city technology colleges]:

[Amendment No. 229 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 94 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness David

I should like to ask a question about city technology colleges. What is their relationship with the grant-maintained schools? Will the Secretary of State turn down applications for grant-maintained schools if there is a city technology college nearby? Will that be a reason for not accepting a grant-maintained school? Alternatively will local businesses thinking of supporting a city technology college need first to establish whether a grant-maintained school is likely to be established in the area? I believe that the practical effect will be that the two will be in competition for some of the brighter pupils. I should like to hear the comments of the Minister in that connection.

Baroness Hooper

The purpose of many of the proposals in the Bill is to introduce an element of competition into the education system, particularly into the maintained sector, with grant-maintained schools. I see no reason why there should be any problem in a grant-maintained school and a CTC existing in a similar area. They offer different opportunities and I believe that they will be both welcomed by parents.

Clause 94 agreed to.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Young of Dartington moved Amendment No. 230: After Clause 94, insert the following new clause:

("New foundation schools.

Extension of parental choice

—(1) The Secretary of State may also enter into an agreement with any charity under which

  1. (a) that charity undertakes to establish and maintain, and to carry on or provide for the carrying on of, an independent school to be known as a new foundation school, being a school for children at primary as well as secondary level in a rural as well as an urban area and which offers an extension of choice in respect of educational principle, in respect of size of school, in respect of curricular emphasis in addition to that on science and technology, in respect of method of teaching or which espouses a particular faith or philosophy provided the school is open, without discrimination, to all children in its catchment area; and having such further characteristics as are specified in the agreement and in subsection (2) below; and
  2. (b) the Secretary of State agrees to make payments to that charity in consideration of those undertakings.

(2) The further characteristics mentioned above are that the school—

  1. (a) provides ecucation free of charge by means of an academically comprehensive intake for pupils of mixed abilities who are wholly or mainly drawn from the area in which the school is situated;
  2. (b) admits pupils on the basis of criteria compatible with the practice of local education authorities if it cannot accept all applicants;
  3. (c) on inspection shows that it provides an efficient education;
  4. (d) does not propagate doctrines tending to foment racial, religious or other forms of intolerance;
  5. (e) has a curriculum such that there are not barriers to the transfer of new foundation pupils to or from county or voluntary schools;
  6. (f) should be funded at a unit cost per pupil not in excess of the unit costs in schools at the appropriate level maintained by the local education authority.

(3) The provision of section 94(3), (4), (5) and (6) above (which set out the conditions and requirements on which payments depend) shall also apply to new foundation schools.").

The noble Lord said: I have much pleasure in proposing this amendment, which will give the Secretary of State the power to support new foundations as new non-fee paying schools with many different biases other than those towards science and technology which are provided for by the city technology colleges. I should first like to thank my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock, who was prepared to move the amendment on my behalf last Thursday when I thought that it would arise. Unfortunately I was then laid low by the salmonella bug which also hit other members of the Committee. I have just managed to be here today and have therefore relieved my noble friend of his responsibility. I shall try to undertake the matter myself.

The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, has tabled a similar amendment which is grouped with this amendment. We have agreed to support each other's amendment and I hope that the noble Baroness will say something to that effect a little later.

I should like to present three main arguments to the Committee in favour of the amendment. The first is about parental choice and the need for it to be extended. The second is about the need for a greater variety. The third is about the need for a common system of education which includes what have been fee-paying schools and the public sector.

As regards the first argument about parental choice, the oddity of the Bill is that, although the principal purpose has been to extend parental choice in one way or another, as the Minister is well aware, there is practically nothing in it which will achieve that objective, admirable though it is. Opted-out schools are to retain their character unless in exceptional circumstances, and the only new schools contemplated are the city technology colleges themselves. Unless this amendment is accepted, as I hope it will be, uniformity will prevail.

On this issue Mr. Baker has been as generous, unless he relents, as was the original Henry Ford when he said that anyone could have whatever colour he liked for his Ford motor car provided it was black. I believe that this is a grave weakness in the Bill which should be recognised, and steps should be taken to add to the variety and so to genuine choice.

Apart from anything else, there are very strong educational reasons for the parents' choice to be extended; above all, because we have known from many studies, which support common sense, that the greater the encouragement that children receive from their parents, the better their performance at school. If parents can have a say in which school their children are going to they are more likely to support their children in the necessary way.

A study I made some years ago on parental preference in Hackney suggested that when parents' minds were opened up on the possibility, instead of taking it for granted that they had to put up with the schools which they had already in the district, many were keener on several alternatives, not just on schools which concentrated on the three Rs but schools which concentrated on the performing and visual arts, and, above all, smaller neighbourhood schools. Those parents had in mind what I have in mind in moving this amendment today.

The second argument, which stems from the first, is about variety, which is the lifeblood of any educational system. Britain is particularly fortunate in having a long line of educational pioneers, all of whom have necessarily been different in order to justify being called pioneers; but all of them have been alike in one sense in that they have departed in one way or another from what was, at the time, the orthodoxy. As Thomas Arnold of Rugby did with his new curriculum and new morality in his day, as Thring of Oundle did in including music and arts in the Arnold curriculum, as Sanderson of Uppingham did in substituting workshops for sedentary classroom studies, as William Temple at Repton did before he became archbishop and likewise in this century as did Kurt Hahn of Gordonstoun, A. S. Neill of Summerhill and W. B. Curry of Dartington in their different ways, they have put a new emphasis on learning by doing.

Harry Rée was a great grammar school and then comprehensive shool headmaster who helped to modernise teaching, and he was only one of many who did so. That is not to mention other great reformers like R. H. Tourney, whose report for the Labour Party on secondary education in the 1920s was such a landmark. One cannot leave out the great pioneering chief education officers in this century: Henry Moore of Cambridgeshire; Stuart Mason of Leicestershire; Sir John Newsan of Hertfordshire; Alec Clegg of the late-lamented West Riding, Peter Newson of ILEA, Jos Owen of Devon and Tim Brighouse of Oxford. These were and are all pioneers. I know it is an arbitrary and personal list, but those happen to be some of my heroes. They all did or are doing something splendidly different.

Under this Bill and the danger it carries of central control and more unrelenting crystallisation of current orthodoxies than ever, there will be a correspondingly greater need for more pioneering of the kind which we in our history can be so proud we have had before, still need and will need more in the future than in the past. We need more experiment, more pioneering and more variety rather than less.

To some extent my amendment will counter those dangers and keep the pioneering spirit alive by encouraging new foundations which put the emphasis on the arts as well as the sciences; on ecological studies or outdoor pursuits which will allow schools which use significantly different methods of learning to be supported out of public funds; which will encourage schools which, in themselves, also encourage the fullest participation by parents and children; open schools of the new sort which will use open learning methods to support study by children on their own; schools which represent denominations or faiths, both those of long standing in the country and those relatively new to us like Hindus, Moslems and Buddhists.

Above all, I wish to stress small schools. Following the example of the American high school, Britain has generally gone for large comprehensive schools and we have surely overdone it. Despite what Aneurin Bevan said—that bigness is the enemy of humanity—as a civilisation we have been taken in by the cult of bigness in government, in organisation, in high-rise tower blocks and in secondary and even primary schools. There has been a fearful price to pay in loss of humanity, loss of morale and loss of decent behaviour. We could begin to recover by supporting parents who wish to start small schools in towns and villages, particularly in villages, which have lost 700 primary schools in the last decade.

My third argument is about a common system of education. The common school is a great ideal. I have stood for it for most of my life and I shall continue to do so. In its name great work has been done and is being done in every LEA. All the same, throughout this century the educational system has been deeply divided between the state and the private fee-paying schools which have given free choice to parents but only if you pays your money and takes your choice.

This division need not remain forever. Denmark, of which I spoke at Second Reading, has the free choice schools which I am advocating. Any group of parents with 28 or more pupils between them can start a maintained school in Denmark and consequently, because this freedom is open to everyone, there are no fee-paying schools in Denmark. There is a common system of education even though it contains a great deal of variety. So I believe it should be in Britain. Eventually, if we go the way of this amendment—starting small and building on it—we could have a common school system which serves everyone and gives everyone the same freedoms and creates a new sense of unity instead of the divisiveness which we have had to put up with for so long.

Based on pluralism we could have a set of mainstream schools surrounded by a network of smaller free choice schools embodying variety and which continuously nourish the main stream. I do not believe it is an unworthy hope and I trust it need not be a vain one. Speaking for the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, as well as myself, we are hoping for a favourable response to this amendment and the one that follows from the Government Benches. We are hoping that there will be shown a willingness to explore how the intent behind both of these amendments might best be taken forward at the next stage.

It cannot be the case that we have all we need to have in the legislation already on the statute book about voluntary aided schools and other matters, for if we had all we needed to have we should not be in the state in which we are and the voluntary aided list would not be as moribund as it has been for a very long time. In order to show sincerity about the desirability of extension of voluntary choice there is needed a clear signal which should be embodied in the legislation showing that there is a new spirit abroad and a new willingness in the DES to encourage people, charities and promoters to come forward with new kinds of schools which will benefit particular parents and children in the interests of the great majority of people in all types of schools in the country. We look forward to what the Minister says on these lines not so much with trepidation as with a little hope, which I trust will not be entirely misplaced.

5 p.m.

Lord Somers

The noble Lord who moved this amendment seems to suffer from the same delusion as do a great many who sit on those Benches. It is that all children are exactly alike, or, if they are not, they must be made so. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are all different not only in appearance but in character, abilities, desires and in every possible way. Trying to make us alike is absolutely hopeless from the word go.

Lord Kilmarnock

Will the noble Lord give way for a moment? I am not sure he is speaking to the amendment that my noble friend moved. My noble friend was directing his remarks essentially in the direction of variety in schools. It seems that the comments coming from the noble Lord may be appropriate to another amendment but I do not believe they are appropriate to the amendment before the Committee.

Lord Somers

I am very sorry if I have misinterpreted the amendment but that is the impression I gained. If my interpretation is incorrect, then of course I apologise to the noble Lord. I sincerely hope that the Committee will not receive any amendment that is trying to unify or turn all our schools into a state of uniformity.

Lord Young of Dartington

Perhaps I may assure the noble Lord that I had no such thing in mind. I cannot think how this situation arose. I feel that I must have been far less clear that I tried to be. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, is agreeing with me—at least he has a smile on his face. The whole thrust of the amendment is very much in line with what the noble Lord was saying. It is because children are not alike, their parents are not alike, their interests are unlike and their needs are unlike that they need different kinds of schools. It is because they are unlike that I am arguing for unlike schools to be permitted.

Lord Somers

I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble Lord. It is such a lengthy amendment I am afraid I perhaps lost the meaning of it.

Baroness Cox

In speaking to Amendment No. 232, which is grouped with Amendment No. 230, I am very pleased to support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington. I believe it is striving towards the same end as my amendment; namely, increasing diversity, initiative and choice. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Somers, will be reassured as our discussions continue.

The effect of Amendment No. 232 would be to make it easier for independent schools to attain voluntary aided status. Its primary aim is to facilitate the establishment and development of new schools in response to parental demand and for such schools to have the benefits, and the corresponding responsibilities, associated with public funding.

Under the Education Acts of 1944 and 1980, existing independent schools can apply to become voluntary aided schools under their local education authority. However, there are a number of types of school, all of which cater primarily for poorer families and yet have to charge fees, which have been unable to obtain voluntary aided status, primarily because of opposition from their local education authorities. Such schools include, first, some of the schools for orthodox Jews such as those in Hackney and Stamford Hill. Perhaps I may voice particular concern for the Yesodey Hatorah school, which has been applying for voluntary aided status for many years, but in vain. Secondly, there are schools such as the John Loughborough School in North London, set up by the West Indian community because parents were so dismayed at the education given in their local state schools; not only in terms of academic results but also in terms of their failure to provide good spiritual and moral education. In fact, one of the parent governors from that school described how he had had to send his children back to Jamaica to get a good old-fashioned British Christian education before John Loughborough was set up. Those parents who come from a very poor section of the West Indian community have to make enormous financial sacrifice to send their children to the John Loughborough School. In spite of that, it is heavily oversubscribed.

A third category of school is that of the many other new Christian and Moslem schools which are mushrooming in various parts of the country. Recent years have seen between 60 and 80 new Christian schools established throughout the country, together with a number of new Moslem schools, for example, in my own borough of Brent. Some of the parents who have established those schools and who send their children to them have had to make enormous personal sacrifices in order to have an education for their children compatible with their deepest philosophical and religious convictions. Some of them have sold their houses in order to establish the capital and to raise the money to pay the fees for these schools.

However, for many years applications for voluntary aided status for such schools have been blocked because local education authorities have argued that an application should not be allowed if there is a surplus of maintained school places in the area. Surely that argument is slightly strange because it is very likely that some of the surplus places are available and empty precisely because parents are dissatisfied with the local authority schools. Therefore, they have moved their children—often, as I have said, at great personal cost and sacrifice—to some of the independent schools that I have mentioned.

This vicious circle could be broken if the Bill were amended in two ways. These are the essential strands of Amendment No. 232. First, the amendment would require the Secretary of State to accept applications for voluntary aided status if he was satisfied on all relevant matters even if the local education authority were to object on the grounds that surplus places were available in local schools. Secondly, the amendment is designed to enable the Secretary of State, if he thought it appropriate, to require the LEA to take such surplus places out of use if he needed to achieve a more efficient use of resources.

I believe that this amendment and the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, are entirely within the spirit of the Bill in its emphasis on the importance of respecting the wishes of parents as regards the education of their children and also in terms of the fundamental principles of freedom, diversity and choice which this Bill is designed to enhance.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

I hope very much that the Committee will not pass Amendment No. 232 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I should like to say something about that first and then come back to the points which the noble Lord, Lord Young, put before the Committee so forcefully this afternoon on the need for greater freedom of choice and variety in schools. There are one or two hard questions that he needs to answer on this way forward.

As regards the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, I believe that LEAs are often faced with great problems in distributing resources and raising standards in schools right across the field, especially those which are affected by quite severe environmental problems. I made this point—I was not the only one— when we were discussing Clause 42 on the opting-out towards grant-maintained status. The job of the LEAs is to serve all the children, parents and schools in an area in the context of the interests of the education system as a whole. One of the factors which is currently compounding the problems facing LEAs concerns the fall in school rolls in many areas and the backlog of empty places still to be taken out of the system. The noble Baroness told us that this was because people are dissatisfied with provision by the LEAs. I do not believe that that is so. Very often it is due to demographic changes, falling birth rolls, people moving out of an area, and so on. Those are the questions with which education planners are concerned. It is therefore absolutely essential that the LEA should be thoroughly involved in any plans for the introduction of a new school into such areas.

Amendment No. 232 would deliberately exclude the LEA from any planning for the establishment of a new voluntary aided school. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who is not at the moment in his place, noted in his brief speech welcoming Amendment No. 207A, it is not always enough for there to be a link between Church and school. There is a need to maintain the link between Church, school and local authority. I do not believe that those of us in the Churches should in any way welcome the proposal that the authority's voice in the planning of a new aided school should be excluded, however superficially attractive to the Churches that might be.

The extent to which this amendment would undermine the partnership between the Church and the LEA, a partnership which must continue to operate for the sake of the rest of the education system, is revealed most fully in subsection (3) of the amendment. If the creation of a new aided school added to the problem of existing overprovision of places, the LEA could be ordered to close down one of its county schools or cause it to become unworkably small so that the new aided school could in effect be substituted for it; all this in the face of what could be quite reasonable opposition on the part of the local education authority.

If it is argued by those who support the clause that if the LEA's opposition were reasonable the Secretary of State would use his powers, I would have to ask why he should be given the powers in the first instance. We already have quite workable arrangements under the 1980 Act by which new aided schools can be established. Under these arrangements the Secretary of State already has the power to set aside objections that are raised by the LEA.

If, on the other hand, we are told that this amendment is to deal with those rare cases where the LEA is being unreasonable, the Secretary of State is already empowered to act under the 1944 provisions. That should be enough. We do not want charitable trusts and other competent bodies to be encouraged to take on the role of being a further stick with which to beat the LEAs, making their job still more difficult at times of social change. The Churches seek to maintain their role as partners in the education enterprise both with central government and with the LEAs.

Perhaps I may briefly throw one or two questions across to the noble Lord, Lord Young, whose writings on some of these questions I have admired over the years, as have many other members of the Committee. I believe, though, that he must face the question of what will happen if multiplicities of small schools are encouraged, some of them on a sectarian basis. In the Church of England there has been a profound change in our attitudes towards involvement in the education system, a change which I hasten to say is not universally shared by all Anglicans working within the system. However, the great majority would see our involvement now as being service to the community from Christian principles and not primarily to turn out little Anglicans in our schools.

What worried me about what the noble Lord, Lord Young, said is that it seemed to me that he was going down the line of arguing that, because children are different, parents are different, and so on, one should encourage these differences in society. In addition, he was less than fair to the large comprehensives. Surely the argument that small is beautiful has distinct limits, especially in the education system. What we need to do is to secure the advantages of size at certain levels while breaking down the school's system into sub groups in other ways. The large comprehensives have a great deal more to be said for them than the noble Lord allowed.

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Cox

Before the right reverend Prelate sits down, perhaps he will explain why he thinks it is that at a time of falling rolls between 60 and 80 new Christian schools have been set up. It is not a time of pressure on local authority schools. It is a sign of great dismay about what is happening in those schools. He is perhaps appearing, without intentionally doing so—I should like him not to upset those parents—to belittle or to denigrate the motives, sacrifices and commitment of those parents who have set up these new religious schools.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

Without wearying the Committee, the short reply to the noble Baroness is that I have never denied that there may be dissatisfaction in certain areas with some LEA provision. There will always be a head of steam from certain groups which wish to set up their own schools. That is undeniable. However, the factor which she completely ignored is the much more important factor causing falling rolls—demographic change and movements of population.

Baroness Blackstone

Perhaps I may answer the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. Most new denominational schools have been set up in areas where the population is increasing, not in areas where there are major declines in population and where rolls are falling.

Baroness Cox

I wonder on what basis the noble Baroness makes that point. A recent report shows the geographical spread of those schools, and does not support the point she has just made.

Lord Hylton

It is clear from what has been said, especially by the right reverend Prelate, that these two amendments are sailing into somewhat rough waters. Perhaps I may invite the Government to say that proposals for new primary schools will be looked at more favourably than proposals for new secondary schools. It is a well-known fact of life that both the capital costs and the revenue costs of primary schools are lower on a per pupil basis.

Baroness Young

The noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, identified a point about which many parents are concerned. One of the schools he has in mind was established in Cornwall by parents who decided that they would set up an independent school. The points he made about parental choice and variety have a great deal to commend them. What I suspect the Government will say is that allowing this extension will be expensive and take up more resources and that one cannot be sure that it will fit precisely within the terms of the Bill.

When I was a Minister at the DES I had to listen on many occasions to parents who were extremely concerned about school closures, usually primary schools either in the country or in the inner city. They were concerned about the closure of their school. One of the themes which underlies the Bill is parental support. Where parents support a school it has a much greater chance of succeeding and doing well by its pupils than if they do not.

On the separate issue raised by my noble friend Lady Cox, I was well aware of the cases put up both by the school for orthodox Jews in London which has been seeking voluntary aided status for some time without any success, and by the school for Caribbean children. This issue needs to be looked at. I take the point of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester that the 1980 Act helped to make it easier to establish a voluntary aided school. That was one of the purposes of that part of the Act which I recall very well. Nevertheless, there is a strong feeling about an increase in the number of voluntary aided schools.

I suspect that this is a large issue not entirely within the terms of the Bill as the Government have conceived it, and that it is a point which they will want to consider. However, the amendments would add a greater variety. Even if the amendments are not properly drawn up as they appear on the Marshalled List, there is a lot to be said for having a look at them on the grounds that they would add variety and widen parental choice.

Lord Kilmarnock

Before the noble Baroness replies and accepts the metaphor of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, of choppy seas or waters—I think that is what he said—with its implication that these amendments would be liable to sink, I believe that we should not lose sight of the essential thrust of the amendment of my noble friend Lord Young and indeed that of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. It is that the Bill as drafted is based on the concept of choice—choice is the buzzword behind the Bill. However, when one comes to look at it there is little variety in the Bill: choice, I submit, equals variety.

If one has a school which opts out it does so with the same ethos and structure as it had under the local education authority system; it jumps over some sort of invisible boundary and becomes a grant-maintained school. It may be that its exam results will improve, maybe they will not; however, we hope that they will. Yet it still remains essentially the same type of school.

The CTCs are the only new type of school which has been written into the Bill. All the other considerations to which my noble friend has been drawing the Committee's attention are not really there; there is no breathing room for them. As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, fairly said, perhaps the amendments are not quite right. However, those of us who have expressed an interest in them hope to hear from the Government that they will be looked upon seriously, with the idea of returning at a later stage of the Bill's proceedings with something more suitable.

The issue regarding the small school is also relevant to the amendments. Demographic patterns change; schools are evacuated; parents move back into the area and they may well wish to take over village schools again. There are many considerations which ought to be looked at and I hope that the Government will not just throw the proposals out without seriously considering them.

The Duke of Norfolk

I too support Amendment No. 232 tabled in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. The amendment is designed to make it easier for new voluntary-aided schools to be established where there is a demand for them on denominational or other grounds. Surely that is a purpose which must command wide support from all concerned for parents' rights in education, especially in the religious education of their children.

Earlier in Committee I moved an amendment seeking assurance that the religious character existing in aided schools would not be impaired by the national curriculum. This was merely to ensure that aided schools could continue to offer religious environments which parents had chosen. However, the choice of religious environment must also be open to parents in other areas where, as yet, aided schools meeting their religious wishes do not exist. In some cases, the areas will be those where new developments have taken place; where the school population is growing and more schools are needed. In other cases, there will be areas where changes in the composition of the local population create demands for religious schools which did not previously exist. In both cases there will be an unsatisfied demand for religious schools of one description or another. In a Bill which seeks to extend parental choice, it is most important, in addition to increasing choice within the existing range of schools, that the existing range of schools should be widened where there is clear evidence of demand from parents. I have taken advice on the amendment and quote the gist of it. In the first place, under the present law promoters of a voluntary-aided school are not required to obtain the consent of the local education authority before submitting a proposal to the Secretary of State and issuing public notice of it. Their obligation is simply to consult the education authority. I understand that in practice it is desirable to have the support of the education authority. The first subsection of the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, is fully in accordance with existing legislation.

In the second place, unless the promoters of a new-aided school already happen to own a building which is fully up to standard, the creation of a new-aided school will entail capital expenditure. It will require a capital expenditure allocation from the Department of Education and Science before it can go ahead and attract the capital grant of 85 per cent.—which, as I have already said, I wish was 100 per cent., as happens in Scotland—which is available for building works at aided schools. I am told that a difficulty may arise here in the long-standing policy of the Department of Education and Science that capital expenditure for new school places is only allowed if there is a basic need, which is defined as an overall shortage of school places. That is an objection that aided-school promoters have encountered frequently in the past. The amendment seeks to meet that situation by providing that a proposal should not be rejected on the grounds that there is already a surplus of maintained-school places in the area. It also provides that when he approves the proposal the Secretary of State may require surplus places in the area to be taken out of use.

I make a comment which is designed to anticipate objections to the amendments. It will be legitimately said that excess places cannot be eliminated overnight. To my mind that is not an argument for rejecting a proposal for a new-aided school. Rather, it is a possible argument for phasing the implementation proposal to give time for consequential adjustments. There may be other little adjustments which should be made to the amendment of the noble Baroness but I support its general intention.

Lord Peston

I have become most puzzled while listening to this discussion. I should like some clarification by the movers of the two amendments, because my interpretation of them is that the amendments are fundamentally different. The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Darlington, is about openness; about the common school; about variety and many other such matters of which we approve. Whether this is the way of achieving them is a matter for argument but it is certainly not about narrowness; it is not about schools being doctrinaire schools; and it is not, in my opinion, primarily about religion. In fact my reading of it is that, although it mentions faith, it mentions it en passant and it certainly refers to philosophy.

The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, seems to me to be entirely different. Indeed, her examples were entirely different. They were about an orthodox Jewish school and—although I am not sure whether she mentioned any by name—about Moslem schools and the Moslem fundamentalists who are putting pressure on them because they would like to have a fundamentalist school. Having listened to earlier debates, I think we are even verging towards Christian fundamentalism. I regard that as a different concept and a different type of parental choice, which is not in the least one which I support. Therefore, I want to ask the noble Lord whether that is precisely what he had in mind. However, my interpretation of what is behind the type of amendment he has proposed is a totally different concept; it is a concept of the comprehensive school that is built into it. It refers to pupils being admitted—certainly in the case of over-subscription—with the general criteria for entry into local education schools, and so on.

Therefore it would certainly help me to interpret the position if the Committee were given some clarification on the matter. Having listened to the two speeches I must say that the amendments seem to be about entirely different matters and that each has an entirely different approach to education.

Baroness Cox

I am happy briefly to respond and clarify the position from my point of view. The examples I gave were from those schools which have already applied for voluntary-aided status and therefore are, so to speak, already in the pipeline but have had little satisfaction. It was because they were tangible examples that it seemed to me to be useful to exemplify the principle behind the amendment by using them.

Of course the principle is entirely compatible with that of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington. It would enable any of the other independent schools to apply for voluntary-aided status; for example, some of the schools may be Rudolf Steiner schools, which may be able to benefit a great deal from state funding. Therefore, although the examples I gave concern schools that are already in the pipeline, the principle could apply to a much wider range of schools. Indeed, I hope that it will do so.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Young of Dartington

I am happy to answer the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Peston. I hope that when he gets what I trust he will consider as being a satisfactory answer he will then feel able to support the two amendments. As I see them they are certainly, on this particular point, equally open; neither is narrow, both are open. There is no prescription about the type of school that would be able to benefit from this provision provided it was carried into law.

The amendment tabled in my name goes into much more detail about the type of school that it is hoped would benefit from such a provision. The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, (No. 232), when referring to the voluntary-aided school mentions a voluntary-aided school of a certain type or denomination being proposed; that is, proposed by whoever is suggesting that a new school should be set up. That kind or denomination is, as we have just heard, intended to go very wide.

I shall try to answer some of the pertinent questions and points put by the right reverend Prelate who referred to local education authorities' shortage of resources. All Members of the Committee will sympathise with him and local education authorities on that score. For a moment I was reminded of what happened when the 1902 Act was passed, when the great Free Church cry was, "Rome on the rates". I do not know what the modern counterpart of that cry will be, especially now that we are to have the poll tax. Perhaps it will be, "Pontius Pilate on the poll tax"; or more to the point, "Mecca on the community charge".

In any case, the complaint that was made in 1902 was an old one which goes deep in our history. It kept on coming up in different forms in the 19th century when the Churches were waging their great battle to make education free, compulsory and generalised. I have great sympathy with what the right reverend Prelate was saying, but by putting two amendments before the Committee we are offering the right reverend Prelate, and others who think like him, a choice. If they agree with the general tenor of what is being proposed they can either go down the road of the city technology colleges, in which case the bill will be picked up by the Department of Education and Science, or they can go down the other road, the voluntary-aided road, which is of long standing, in which case the bill will be picked up by the local education authority.

If the right reverend Prelate is especially concerned, as he has every right to be, with the local education authority, he can join me in the symbolic lobby, but the one symbolic lobby will be open to the other symbolic lobby. It will also be there for others to choose if they so wish. Behind that point is another which is much more serious. It is about the local education authorities and the point that from wherever the money comes it would represent a right distribution of resources to support schools of the kind which are in mind here, even though to begin with they would be on a small scale.

That point takes me back to a discussion that I had with one of the hearers I mentioned earlier in the debate—Peter Newsam. After I made the little survey in Hackney which I mentioned, and uncovered, as it seemed to me, considerably more demand by working-class parents for unusual kinds of schools than I had expected to find, I put the case to him that some local comprehensive schools there—I have the greatest admiration for many comprehensive schools—might be divided, especially those already on different campuses, among schools with different regimes, some of them being performing arts schools, some of them basic three R schools, and some of them being what were then called free schools. They could all co-exist within the same overall campus.

My case, which was strongly argued on both sides, was that if ILEA, in that case, were to countenance such an increase in variety it would not be sacrificing the support of its constituents but adding to the support, because it would be meeting their sensitive demands and needs by recognising their dissatisfaction with the existing organisation of the school, and so would do something better for those parents and then, by one remove, for their children. It would also be better, as I was then arguing, for ILEA, which if it followed that course would have the support of even more Londoners than if it had stuck to what seemed to me, rather unimaginatively in that case despite my great admiration for the man, to what I thought of as a monolithic type of school which has not in all cases worked in anything like the way that we hoped.

Our case is that by recognising some, not all, of the multiplicities of deep-lying interests in the form that schools take and by encouraging variety we will not only be getting the good that flows from variety but in the end we should be getting more of the unity which can flow from from the recognition of variety. On those grounds, I appeal to the right reverend Prelate to say that there is at any rate a case which is worthy of consideration. I hope that I may have his backing in persuading the Government that this is a proposal which should be looked at further. I hope that we shall also be able to persuade everyone else who wishes to take part in the debate that this is the right course to take.

Baroness Seear

Before the noble Lord sits down, will he clarify a point which is not clear to me, although perhaps it should be, and which also arises in connection with the contribution made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester? In Amendment No. 232, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, she says specifically: The Secretary of State shall consider all applications… whether or not the relevant Local Education Authority objects to the application". That is an important point and one which I would find difficult to accept. I do not see any such reference in the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Young. Will he say that before the Secretary of State does anything of that kind he would be in consultation, at least, with the local education authority so that it could take on board the point in its planning and could make its objections to the Secretary of State? One could perhaps go further and say that unless the local authority was prepared to go along with the application the Secretary of State would not proceed. I do not see that point in the noble Lord's amendment. Will he tell me where he stands on that matter?

Lord Young of Darlington

I am happy to answer that question. It may not have been entirely clear that two different routes to the same objective are being put forward. One is the route of the city technology colleges, which is why the amendment has its place in this part of the Bill, in which case it would be the same as for city technology colleges. However, the purpose would not be to set up more CTCs but the schools of greater variety that have already been mentioned several times. The other route is the old route, which we have had for many years, of going for voluntary-aided status.

The question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, really applied to Amendment No. 232, and in particular subsection (1). The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, may want to speak for herself, but as I understand it, under the Education Act 1980 the Secretary of State, when considering an application for a new voluntary-aided school, can agree to it whether or not the relevant local education authority objects to the application. All that is being stated is what is stated in existing law. There would be no change.

What is being hoped for is not just that the law on this point, as it stands, will be restated, but that it will be restated in such a way as to show that the Secretary of State will be prepared to look much more kindly on such applications than in the past, in which case there is likely to be many more of them. It does not mean that he could say that they would be agreed in particular cases, because every case would have to be looked at on its merits. It could be indicated in the Bill that there is a new mood around. It would mean that there would be more applications which could be considered on their merits.

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

The noble Lord is very persuasive but I am afraid I shall not be with him in the Lobby on this amendment. The reason is the linking of the Bill with the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, Amendment No. 232, which has to do with the whole question of how local education authorities do their job.

I should perhaps make clear to the Committee that I regard the establishment of the city technology colleges as being potentially extremely damaging to educational planning anyway. Having said that, I do not really follow the argument that because LEAs will face problems over the establishment of these colleges, let them face even more problems by overriding any opposition and any interests of planning, in the establishment of more voluntary aided schools.

Baroness David

I do not wish to say very much. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester has said everything and I shall not repeat it. Of the two amendments I much prefer that of the noble Lord, Lord Young. He has had so many excellent ideas in the past that it is very difficult not to accept this one. However, the position of the local authority will be very difficult. I agree about the city technology colleges, I do not like them either.

The amendment put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, says in subsection (2), it shall not be a ground for rejection that there is already a surplus of maintained school places in the area". This will surely be a very uneconomical way of carrying on. Subsection (3) says that the Secretary of State, if he approves the proposal, can make a requirement, that other surplus maintained places in the area be taken out of use". That is extremely dangerous. I am afraid that we cannot support either of these amendments.

Baroness Hooper

The noble Lord, Lord Young of Dartington, has spoken very persuasively in support of Amendment No. 230. It is an argument I remember well from Second Reading. The opportunity to attend small schools is already available to children living in many rural areas. Indeed, in areas of sparse population small schools are sometimes the only schools available for children within reasonable travelling distance of their homes, and it is obviously right that where such schools are educationally viable they should continue to operate.

Geographical and other practical considerations apart, however there is widespread agreement among the partners in the education service that schools which fall below a minimum size face difficulties in developing and delivering high quality education cost-effectively to all their pupils. Size is not the only determinant of the quality of a school, but in general a school which seeks to offer and deliver a curriculum of the range and diversity nowadays required will need to be of a certain size and will face increasing difficulties if numbers fall below it.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has made it clear that local education authorities and governing bodies should aim to bring as many schools as possible as close as possible to viable size, and that schools should be closed if the educational and financial arguments for their closure are clear, and practical alternatives are available. It would not be consistent with this advice to establish a system of new foundation schools with the explicit aim of encouraging the development and support of small schools.

Another area of choice which the noble Lord, Lord Young mentioned is that of educational principle and curriculum emphasis in addition to that on science and technology. In view of our proposals for the national curriculum—indeed, the noble Lord suggested that the proposed schools would offer a curriculum compatible with the national curriculum, although there might also be emphasis on other curricular areas—this must be considered in the context of the national curriculum. So there is difficulty in what the noble Lord, Lord Young, suggests. Existing small rural schools for example sometimes face difficulties in providing an adequate curriculum and for this reason may be grouped by their local education authorities together in clusters to share curriculum expertise. A newly established foundation school of the kind which—

Lord Young of Dartington

I wonder whether the noble Baroness will give way. The objection about the curriculum seems to apply immediately to the city technology colleges themselves. But they are to be allowed to have a broad curriculum which nevertheless gives special emphasis to science and technology. That same provision could apply equally well to many of the other kinds of schools that are in mind.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness Hooper

Yes, I take the point of the noble Lord. But we feel that a newly established foundation school of the kind that he is advocating would not enjoy the sort of support structure which would provide that broad and balanced curriculum. If pupil numbers and teacher numbers in that school fell, there would be no means of ensuring that pupils received a sufficiently broad curriculum.

The amendment envisages also that a system of new foundation schools would embrace schools which espoused a particular faith or philosophy. But it is already open to those responsible for the running of an independent school of any religious persuasion to make a formal proposal that the school should change its status and become a new voluntary aided school.

In her Amendment No. 232, my noble friend Lady Cox proposes changes in the present arrangements for considering applications for voluntary aided status. I believe that the Government's existing powers are sufficient to meet the situation outlined by my noble friend. Every application for aided status is already considered by the Secretary of State on its particular merits, taking account of all the circumstances of the case. In doing so, the Secretary of State certainly takes account of objections, including any made by the local education authority, and has regard also, inter alia, to the extent to which there are empty places in the maintained system in the area. But neither consideration is necessarily decisive.

The Secretary of State may consider also the grounds for the local education authority's objection and the scale of demand for special provision which cannot adequately be met within the mainstream of maintained schools. His decisions are made on the balance of these and other relevant considerations.

An aided school is maintained by the local education authority. Its best chance of success as an institution lies in the development of a fruitful and harmonious relationship between the two of them. The Secretary of State expects that in the great majority of cases where aided school proposals are otherwise likely to meet his requirements, any objections on the part of the local education authority will be capable of being resolved in discussion. Even if this proves not to be the case, he is nevertheless not precluded in the last resort from approving the aided school proposal.

The existence of a surplus of maintained places in the area is not necessarily a reason for rejecting an aided school proposal. It is nevertheless an important consideration, in the light of the Government's policies for the removal of surplus places. It is one to which the Secretary of State would wish to continue to give weight. It would not in his view be helpful or consistent with government policy to be constrained in all cases of applications for aided status to set this important consideration on one side.

Other factors arise in considering these proposals. We must recognise, as my noble friend Lady Young has said, that the resources available for public expenditure are not unlimited. Small schools are more expensive to run than large schools. If pupils are to be offered a full curriculum and properly differentiated teaching, more general pupil/teacher ratios are needed.

We believe that local education authorities are best placed to consider in each case the balance between educational, social and resource considerations and whether the more generous level of resourcing needed to maintain a small school is justified by other circumstances.

Substantial changes and increased choice are being introduced by this Bill. Parents will need time to learn about their new rights and choices in order to take full advantage of them. The Government believe that the introduction in the present Bill of a further category of schools of the sort envisaged by this amendment would not be timely. That is not to say, of course, that the idea will be lost for all time. I say to my noble friend that I shall look again at the criteria operated for voluntary aided status to ensure that they are not operating unfairly to the disadvantage of minority groups. New ideas are always welcome, but I must ask Members of the Committee not to accept these amendments at this time.

Lord Young of Dartington

I cannot admit to anything but disappointment. I wish, however, to express the hope that there might be second thoughts enabling even this amendment to be reviewed well after it has left this Chamber. A tiny slender hope was held out about the closer and perhaps clearer delineation of the criteria for the granting of voluntary aided status to new schools. Perhaps something can be built on that. Therefore in the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Young moved Amendment No. 231: After Clause 94, insert the following new clause:

("Duty to compile reports on absent pupils.

.—(1) Head teachers of all maintained schools shall prepare a report of all those pupils who are registered at the school and who have been absent, for any reason, at any time, during the four weeks prior to the preparation of the report.

(2) The report required in subsection (1) above shall—

  1. (a) be prepared every four weeks during term time,
  2. (b) report all pre-registration absences,
  3. (c) report reasons for absence where known,
  4. (d) report absences for days, or parts of a day, of pupils who have absented themselves after morning registration.

(3) The head teacher shall submit each four weekly report immediately to the chairman of governors of the school, who shall—

  1. (a) consult with the local education and social services departments concerning any persistent absentees, and
  2. (b) take whatever action seems to him appropriate to secure attendance at school of persistent absentees, and
  3. (c) submit the head teacher's reports of absentees, and of action taken by him, to the next appropriate meeting of the governing body,
  4. (d) in the case of a chairman of governors of a local authority maintained school, submit, at the end of each school term, the head teachers' reports of absentees to the chief education officer of the school's maintaining local authority,
  5. (e) in the case of grant maintained schools, submit at the end of each school term the head teachers' reports of absentees to the Secretary of State.

(4) Each local education authority shall submit a report to the Secretary of State of absentees from school, which report shall—

  1. (a) be submitted on or before 1st September in each year, and cover absentees for the previous school year,
  2. (b) be a compilation of the individual reports for all the schools maintained by that authority.

(5) The Secretary of State shall publish an annual report showing pre- and post-registration truancy amongst pupils at maintained schools, what measures have been taken to secure attendance of pupils at school, and what further measures are to be taken to secure such attendance.").

The noble Baroness said: I wish to move this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lady Faithfull as she is unable to be in her place in the Committee at this moment. This is a very important amendment. All the debate that we have had at considerable length in the Committee both about the core subjects and the national curriculum will have no effect at all if children are not actually in school. This amendment, which is concerned with the whole question of truancy, is therefore very important.

Truancy falls into two types. It affects those children who do not attend school and register at the beginning of the day. It also affects those who come to school and register often both in the morning and in the afternoon yet, having registered disappear, change their school clothes and play truant for the rest of the day. This particularly affects those children between the ages of 14 and 16.

It is perfectly obvious that if the children are not in school they are not learning anything. Not only are they not learning anything but they are also acquiring extremely bad habits by not having to go to school regularly and take part in the day's work. Unfortunately it is very difficult indeed to obtain statistics on truancy, but in preparation for this amendment I looked again at Circular No. 2/86 published by the Department of Education and Science in February 1986, which states in paragraph 1: In some schools attendance rates are worryingly low, particularly among pupils in the 14–16 age range".

In the piece of research which has been carried out entitled Unwillingly to Lessons: Curriculum, Truancy and Nationalised Education, written by Patricia Stoll and Dennis O'Keeffe, a number of statistics are quoted which come from the newspapers. But they go on to write about post-registration truancy. That is the second kind of truancy to which I have alluded. They write: A pilot study carried out in a North London Comprehensive school over a three year period indicates that PRT is very common and that the newspaper headlines are not exaggerating. Of the one hundred and ten Fourth and Fifth year pupils in the sample, more than 70 per cent. admitted to this kind of truanting on a regular basis and often with their parents' and teachers' knowledge. There is no reason to believe that this school is atypical". I have no reason for thinking that those statements are not absolutely true. If indeed they are true this is a very serious matter. It must concern not only the Government but also the local education authorities and not least the schools themselves.

There are obviously a great many reasons for that. I shall not go into them all but it is often said that one of them is that there is a kind of connivance by the school whereby when extremely difficult pupils stay away the school is in some way relieved that it does not have to deal with these children. Furthermore it is suggested that there is from time to time a measure of parental connivance.

But whatever may or may not be the reasons for truancy, it does exist and it is a serious matter. I hope very much that when my noble friend the Minister replies she will be able to say that this is a matter that the Government view seriously. I know that had my noble friend Lady Faithfull been speaking she would have wanted to suggest that perhaps an inquiry should be set up. It may be that we need more educational welfare officers or that there should be more work done between the local education authority and the social services. That is not for me to say. But I hope that the Government will say that they will find a means of examining this problem, identifying it, obtaining accurate statistics on it and at any rate issuing guidance to local authorities on what they should do. While the truancy exists the parents involved are breaking the law, but it is the pupils who are suffering.

It is not surprising that quite a number of young people, particularly in city centres, are quite unable to get a job. Not only do they not have the benefits of any schooling whatever as they have been out of it, but they have never cultivated habits of regular attendance and of having to come to school and sit through things which they do not often particularly like. They have not had to face in miniature what the real world is like. It is no kindness to them, above all, to allow this situation to persist. I hope that my noble friend will be able to say something about what the Government could do about this if not at this stage at least at the next stage of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Seebohm

I have put my name down to this amendment because I was fortunate enough, with the noble Baroness, Lady Faithfull, to have quite a long interview with a teacher in a secondary school who had carried out quite a lot of research on this matter. The teacher had found about 69 regular truants to play ball and give her a great deal of information. It transpired that there was at any one time about 30 per cent. absenteeism in that school. At another school nearby the figure was, I believe, 34 per cent. That makes a nonsense, as the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, of the curriculum. Those children will miss out.

The sad thing for me was that the two classes which those children definitely cut were mathematics and French. It is serious when those important subjects—one of which is a primary core subject—are missed out by so many students. The question is what one does about this. That is difficult. My view is that, first, registration at the beginning of the day should be compulsory in every class. That would take a little time but at least one would know who was not present.

Secondly, every parent should immediately be told if his child is absent, because a lot of parents do not know that their children are truanting. The children having registered go off somewhere, put on their jeans and T-shirts, take the day off and then put their school clothes on again to go home. Parents do not necessarily know when their children are truanting.

If the child persists there must he a meeting of the parents, the child and the teacher to try to persuade them that education in this country is compulsory and legal action can if necessary be taken. It is vital that the child should be impressed with the fact that he is breaking the law.

In the school to which I referred there was no educational welfare officer. That had occurred as a result of cuts in the local education authority and since well before Christmas there had been no EWO in the school. So there is no follow up at the moment in the cases of truancy. I also think that a great number of cases should not be dealt with by the EWO but should be referred to the social services department. That is very important, as the teacher mentioned, that at least 10 per cent. of truants never come to school because of trouble at home. They very often come from a multi-problem family and their behaviour is not just the result of naughtiness.

This is not necessarily exactly the right wording for this amendment, but truanting should be included somewhere in the Bill. It is not as if it were just a sudden event. It has been going on for a long time and is steadily increasing. So its inclusion could be well justified in this Education Reform Bill. I hope that the Minister will be able to say something about this.

6 p.m.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

I support the amendment. We must be very careful about suggesting ways and means of dealing with the problem. I do not believe that we can consider this afternoon whether we should encourage the keeping of attendance records for every class and other such matters. That would impinge on questions of administration.

As regards teacher social workers, there is a lack of such people in many schools. The Government should accept the recommendation which has been made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and a committee of inquiry should be set up to look into the matter. A number of studies have been made over the last few years and many recommendations have been made. There is also an experiment at present in Birmingham which may be very useful. All those matters should be looked at carefully. I am absolutely positive that there is a link between truancy and juvenile delinquency. Therefore, this provision would help in that direction as well.

Lord Hylton

I should like to support this important amendment. Perhaps the noble Baroness, when she comes to reply, can confirm the report which appeared in the Evening Standard of 11th May that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, had been appointed to head a national inquiry into problems of discipline and indiscipline in schools. When will the report from that inquiry be available?

Secondly, I understand that it is the policy of the Inner London Education Authority to attempt to get particularly difficult and obstructive truants out of schools and into special remedial centres. Do the Government approve of that course and will they make sure that that sort of initiative continues, whatever the future of ILEA may be? I make those remarks having visited an excellent remedial centre in Belfast called the Jaffe Centre. It has a high staffing rate. However, it also has a high rate of success with very difficult pupils.

Lord Peston

As the noble Baroness, Lady Young, emphasised, the matter is extremely serious. We on this side of the Committee are very sympathetic to the spirit of the amendment. There are two types of truancy, and it is concentrated in the 14 to 16 year-old age group. The noble Baroness was entirely correct when she spoke of the other consequences of truanting. Truants are people who have all the broad social difficulties and truancy is related to juvenile delinquency, vandalism and other such behaviour. That behaviour is confined to a minority. However, it sometimes seems to dominate our environment, particularly in the inner cities. One of the difficulties is that of parental complacency. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, when he says that parents must be confronted with the problem. However, many of the truants about whom we are speaking this afternoon do not have the sort of parents who will help to solve the problem.

That leads us to what leverage teachers and others in authority have. That is a problem which has existed from the earliest days of the comprehensive school. The framework of those schools was free and there was no leverage, in the first instance, to make students do homework. What steps can be taken and what leverage do we have as regards the truant? Another point which must be borne in mind is that if we drag such students back to the schools—I do not say this cynically—they will create problems inside a school for other pupils. It is not surprising that teachers wish to concentrate on pupils who want to learn rather than on truants. I am not saying that teachers give in to truancy or encourage it. However, the fact remains that those young people are clearly indicating that what the school offers them is not what they want.

When I visited schools and looked at the facilities available for boys of my size, I noticed that they are often uncomfortable places. No one seems to realise that a six-foot boy needs a comfortable chair to sit on. I have seen boys sitting in chairs which were left over from the infants school because that was all that the local authority had to put into the secondary school. Teachers perform miracles in such schools every day and I am often amazed how marvellously they do in such physical environments. However, if the environment is uncomfortable physically and if what is being taught bears no resemblance to what stimulates young people, one can see that there are difficulties. All that does not condone truancy. However, it indicates that there are a number of underlying causes. The underlying causes are not all to do with disturbed children. Quite a number of the children we are discussing tonight are not disturbed. This is a different phenomenon.

I should also like to ask the Minister about the Elton inquiry. I should be interested to know what connection is seen by the Government between discipline on the one hand and truancy on the other. The two are undoubtedly connected. The clause says, quite rightly, that data should be collected. Then we have the pregnant sentence telling us that we are to be told what measures have been taken to secure attendance of pupils at schools. I look forward to the reports on what measures could be taken. All over the country teachers will be interested to know what measures may be taken to secure attendance.

Lastly, many of us, and particularly the academics among us, may feel that the correct response to any problem is to have an inquiry. I am not encouraging the Government in that direction. However, this is a matter of such seriousness that we cannot let it go with a small debate in this Committee, an expression of shock and horror at the existence of truancy and an agreement to come back to the matter in a few years' time. This is a topic on which any government of any political persuasion must find a way of moving forward or at least of commissioning work which will allow us to move forward.

Baroness Hooper

The Government do not underestimate the seriousness of the truancy problem. We fully understand the concerns which underlie the amendment. At present the responsibility for taking action on truancy rests with local education authorities. It is for them to decide on a policy for their area, and it is for schools themselves, in association with the LEAs' education welfare service, to pursue individual cases of unjustified absence. There is an important distinction to be drawn between absence from school, which may be for entirely valid reasons, and truancy. Truancy is usually defined as unauthorised absence without parents' knowledge or consent, but the term can also be used to embrace absence which is unjustified from the viewpoint of the school or LEA but condoned by the parents. Such problems of definition make it very difficult to identify levels of truancy within the overall incidence of non-attendance.

I should like to pick up two points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, and others. My noble friend Lord Elton has been appointed chairman of a committee of inquiry into discipline in schools. We expect to have his report later this year. So far as concerns ILEA and truancy, we are to discuss with the inner London boroughs the means for transferring responsibility for common services, including the education welfare service which is the prime agency for pursuing school attendance matters.

The Government believe that the present system of local responsibility would not be improved by the introduction of a complex system of national reporting. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Schools is currently examining best practice in securing good attendance levels, and the findings will be communicated to local education authorities and schools to help them to maximise their efforts. As my noble friend Lady Young has said, in 1986 the Department of Education and Science issued a circular on school attendance and the role of the education welfare service. I can reassure her that we intend to issue another circular on school attendance during the coming year. In addition, the schools inspectorate examines schools' attendance records in the normal course of inspections. We expect that the introduction of GCSE courses and the national curriculum, with other initiatives such as TVEI and school/industry compacts, should improve pupils' motivation and thus help to remove the root cause of truancy. But the response to individual cases will continue to be for local determination and will be an important part of a local education authority's role.

With those assurances, I hope that the proposers of the amendment will not feel that they must press it.

Baroness Young

I thank my noble friend the Minister for her reply. I think it is helpful that she has clarified one or two points about the committee that has been set up under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Elton, and that another circular is to be issued this year on this important subject.

It is not my intention to press the amendment to a Division. However, I think—and I hope that my noble friend the Minister will take note of the fact—that the very helpful contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, the support from the noble Lords, Lord Taylor and Lord Hylton, and the important contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Peston, indicates that my concern is shared in all parts of the Committee. It is a concern which will not go away.

I was very interested in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Peston, about parental complacency and the fact that there is no leverage on parents. That is very true. I think that it would be very interesting to know why the record of some schools on truancy is so much better than the record of others. It seems to me that it would be worth while to carry out some research to see whether it can tell us something about that. It may, for example, be relevant to the size of the school.

I am quite certain that what comes out from all the points that have been made is that it is very important that there should be close co-operation between the school authorities and parents. The parents must understand that they are responsible for their children and that if their children are not in school the parents bear a real measure of responsibility for breaking the law. I do not think that we should hesitate to say that they are committing an offence.

The other point which I believe is very important is one made by my noble friend Lady Hooper about the new courses such as TVEI. I believe that they are much more relevant to a great many children and should encourage them to take an interest and to take part.

As I indicated earlier, I do not intend to press the amendment to a Division. However, I hope very much that this subject will be taken very seriously both by the Government and by local education authorities. That is in the interests of the children themselves and in the interests of the teachers, who will find it much better if children are in school willingly. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Seebohm

Perhaps I may make just one comment. A lot of people blame the teachers. It so happens that in the school about which we have been talking in which absenteeism from the French course was particularly high, the teacher I spoke to said that the teacher involved was one of the best French teachers she had ever come across. I should like to get rid of the idea that it is all the fault of the teachers.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 232 not moved.]

6.15 p.m.

Clause 95 [Prohibition of charges, etc., in maintained schools]:

Baroness Birk moved Amendment No. 233: Page 95, line 8, leave out ("subsection (3) below and").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 233 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 234 as the two go together. The amendments deal with a change in the law which means that a charge will now be made for music lessons, whereas that has not previously been the case. The government proposals for changing the law on charging for activities in state schools were added to the Bill at a late stage in another place. They followed a consultation which revealed widespread opposition to any attempt to dilute the principle of free state education. I think that I should say that the opposition did not come just from political parties; it came right across the board from those involved with music, educationists and others concerned.

The Government argue that the law was confused and needed to be clarified. In fact, Section 1 of the 1944 Act clearly forbids charging for admission to school or in respect of the education provided in schools. A court judgment in 1981 emphasised that anything provided as part of the school curriculum must be free. The changes proposed in the Bill do not simply clarify the law. In certain respects they change it, in particular by allowing charges to be made for instrumental music tuition even if it takes place in school time and on school premises.

I think that we should be absolutely clear that the Government are thus departing from the principle of free education which was first set out in a Ministry of Education circular accompanying the 1944 Act issued on 13th March 1945. It made clear: Where an activity forms part of the ordinary school curriculum, all expenses, irrespective of hardship of the parents, must be met by the local education authority, as expenses of maintaining the school, by virtue of the prohibition in section 61 of any fees 'in respect of the education provided in' maintained schools". Therefore any activity which appears in the school timetable must be free of charge.

Subsection (2) of Clause 95 establishes the basic principle that no charges may be made for education provided in maintained schools during school hours. Subsection (3), which these amendments would remove, allows charges to be made for individual tuition in playing any musical instrument. The effect of the subsection which the amendment seeks to delete is to single out music tuition as an extra not worthy of a place in the basic curriculum which will be protected from charging. I believe it is a divisive and discriminatory provision which will undoubtedly threaten the development of musically gifted children from poorer families and will affect all musical activities in school.

There is no logic or justice in making this single exception to the general principle of free school hours education. Music is listed as a foundation subject in the national curriculum in Clause 3 of the Bill. Indeed, when on 3rd May in Committee I attempted to change the wording of Clause 3 from "arts, music" to "the arts" the Minister said: we recognise, that our proposals for the various creative arts subjects must be consistent with each other and must also take account of developments which have taken place in the field of integrated arts … We are concerned that replacing art and music as foundation subjects with some generic title covering all the creative arts would result in less attention being given to arts subjects in the national curriculum and in those subjects being treated with less rigour than they would if they were separately identified, as they are in the Government's proposals".—[Official Report, 3/5/88; col. 532].

It seems to me a very odd way of safeguarding a subject which is included in the Government's proposals in the Bill to change the law in order to charge for it. This is a matter of much concern to a great many people in this Chamber, not just to Members on these Benches. I beg to move.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

My noble friend Lady Birk has said everything that is necessary of a legal nature to make it perfectly clear on a non-party basis that this subsection is entirely unacceptable. In support of that view, perhaps I may remind the Committee that it was, I believe, the noble Lord, Lord Joseph, who in laying down details of the curriculum for music for the GCSE, established that it should include three principal activities: listening, performing and composing. The noble Lord was quite right, as he often is—unlike certain of his predecessors and successors. It is quite impossible to teach music in any constructive way without an instrument, even if it is only a piano at which the teacher sits.

The use of the voice is the first and most essential element. However, for any child who becomes really interested—and I understand that in ILEA terms rather more than 20 per cent. of children go on to further study—introduction to an instrument becomes an essential part of musical instruction. Among the enormous number of people who have given advice on this Bill, I cannot believe that any thinks otherwise. If some do think otherwise I should like their names and addresses.

If music is to be taught as a foundation subject—something on which, I think, all parties agree—instruments must be provided on loan. And part of the early teaching must consist of individual coaching in the use of an instrument. A situation may develop where the individual parent who considers that Jack, for example, is doing rather well pays for additional teaching. That takes place outside school hours and does not form part of our argument.

The denial of an element essential to the awakening a child's interest in music can result only from lack of understanding on someone's part. It is as though tuition in the use of a slide rule or of logarithm tables were excluded from the teaching of mathematics and had to be specially paid for if given in school hours. Nobody would believe that possible. Yet one cannot possibly teach music without musical facilities; it makes the Government look rather foolish if they stick to the assertion that it is possible.

I hope very much that this amendment will be accepted. It concerns something quite fundamental to the teaching of music to all young children. We must stand on our rights and insist upon it.

Lord Somers

The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, is absolutely right. One cannot class music under one heading. Teaching singing to a class may be part of the curriculum for which no charge need be made, but if one child needs individual instruction in playing an instrument, that is quite different. His teacher will not form part of the regular staff but will be a peripatetic teacher from outside the school. That teacher has to be paid. Who will pay him? My experience tells me that no parent would hesitate to pay for proper tuition where a child has talent. That situation occurs regularly and is taken absolutely for granted. I cannot see that the ideal of having everything for nothing is at all workable in this context.

Baroness Blatch

I rise to support much of what the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said but also to take the matter a little further. However tempting this particular amendment, I hope that the Government will find it possible to resist it. I believe that it will limit musical tuition in schools and not extend it. In my mind there is no question but that we should protect music within the curriculum and that any music that is taught should be free from a charging policy.

I can give the Committee some examples of schools where a peripatetic teacher has been brought in to give piano tuition. That can be given only on a one to one basis, which is above and beyond the basic fundamental music provision within the curriculum. If this amendment is accepted, it will mean that rather than more children having one to one piano instruction on the house, as it were, no children will have it at all. That is the alternative. The alternative will be simply not to have it.

The noble Lord, Lord Somers, is right. Music tuition in many schools takes place with groups of children who learn an instrument. So the school orchestra flourishes as does the musical experience of the children within the school. However, there will be occasions when certain children show particular promise and one to one tuition is thought desirable as an extension of that teaching. If parents can afford it they are invited to pay a sum of money to cover the cost. Schools will go to enormous lengths to ensure that ways and means are found whereby children from homes unable to afford such fees obtain that tuition. If this amendment is accepted in its present form it will severely retrict a marvellously healthy extension to the musical experience of our children in schools.

Lord Hylton

I venture to disagree with both previous speakers. In this Bill I notice that music, art and physical education are all placed on a par; they are all foundation subjects. I cannot imagine that anybody would think of charging for paint and paint brushes in the art department. Nor would anyone charge for coaching the fast bowlers and the best batsmen who have a place in the first eleven. As regards music it must be clear that individual coaching has to precede orchestral playing. This country has now reached a point in its history at which it is perhaps more musically pre-eminent than at any time since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Therefore I hope very much that the Government will have second thoughts and see fit to accept the amendment.

Lord Kilmarnock

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has largely said what I wished to say. It seems totally illogical to include music in the list of foundation subjects and then not provide the means of its implementation. Technology and art can certainly be taught in group situations. However, I am sure that the noble Baroness is aware that as children approach their GCSEs and A-levels in art they require a great deal of very individual attention. So they do, for that matter, in craft design and technology. Presumably, instruction will not be withheld from children on other foundation subjects. It seems to me that the Government are in a slightly illogical position here.

Baroness Seear

I should like to respond to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, although she is no longer in her place. It seems quite extraordinary to suggest that in a foundation subject children should be means tested—for that is what it amounts to—for the wherewithal in order to study the subject. Where does one stop if one starts means testing for the equipment for a foundation subject? I cannot imagine!

It is sad that the noble Baroness is not present in the Chamber. Unless we reject her idea, we shall be making charges for all manner of things. Perhaps the English simply do not believe that the arts are anything like as important as the sciences and maths. Therefore while it is all right for instruction in those latter subjects to be free of charge, music is a frill and therefore charges may be made for it. That is the implication. Only for the really serious matters such as maths, which of course one has to have, will the state pay. That idea is totally unacceptable.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

Before the noble Baroness replies, I should like to say something in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, although, as she has left the Chamber, perhaps I may speak to the noble Baroness who is to reply. What happens in a class is that after a certain amount has been taught the children are given very cheap instruments such as recorders. Four or five of them try to play and a teacher goes round from one to the other. It is not a question of having an hour's lesson on the violin or something of that kind. It is an integral part of the teaching of music. It is altogether unsatisfactory that this factor should be taken out.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness Hooper

Of course we believe that music is important. That is precisely why music is part of the national curriculum. However, these amendments would prevent schools from charging for individual music tuition. In introducing the amendment the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, said that the Bill would introduce charges for music lessons for the first time. That is not correct. Music lessons have always been seen as an optional extra to the mainstream curriculum and local education authorities have been free to charge.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

Perhaps I may intervene to say: but not as a foundation subject.

Baroness Hooper

I should like to begin by reassuring this Committee of the Government's commitment to music as an integral part of the learning process and of each child's artistic and aesthetic development. We are indeed strengthening music's position in school life by making it part of the national curriculum. All children will now have to study music throughout the years of compulsory schooling.

Our charging proposals forbid charging for any tuition which is part of the national curriculum or required as part of a prescribed public examination such as GCSE music. In particular, this means that any individual tuition, whether vocal or instrumental, which is given as part of a GCSE syllabus—and I hope that this reassures the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, in particular—would have to be free. There is no question therefore of the provisions of the Bill, as presently drafted, in any sense undermining music education in general. Indeed, I would say the contrary.

We all recognise, however, that schools have always offered extra provision for which parents have been happy to pay. Any Members of the Committee who enjoyed individual music lessons at school will agree that these have always been seen as optional extras for which parents could be charged. I say could be charged, since I must stress again that we are only saying that charges may be levied in respect of individual instrumental tuition. It will be for the individual school or local education authority to decide if charges are to be made.

Individual instrumental music lessons take place during school hours simply because, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, said, demands on the services of specialist peripatetic music teachers, who may have to visit a large number of different schools to teach individual pupils, could not permit otherwise. These lessons cannot properly be seen as part of the basic education for all pupils which we are clear must be provided free. They are provided by agreement with parents to individual pupils in school hours and on school premises essentially for reasons of convenience only. They cannot be seen as part of the education provided by the school.

I recognise that there are fears in the music world that allowing charges for individual music lessons, where there are other calls on resources at local level, may encourage charging and thus reduce opportunities, especially for pupils whose parents are unable to pay. In practice, however, I believe that the opposite is the case. If charges were now—and for the first time—prohibited there is every likelihood that specialist music provision would be reduced and that parents and pupils would be denied the choice presently available of opting for individual tuition.

In view of the reassurances that I have given on the extent to which the Bill strengthens the place of music in our schools, and the fact that our provisions on charging are intended to safeguard the opportunities for individual music tuition, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

Before the noble Baroness sits down, will she consider putting some provision into the Bill on Report to reconcile what she has said with what is in the Bill? The provision is perfectly clear. It states: Subsection (2)… shall not apply in relation to individual tuition in playing any musical instrument". One cannot possibly say anything more clearly than that. It is a statement of fact. If it can be done for the GCSE, or for any reason, can we have an amendment? If the noble Baroness will consider giving us on Report an amendment which makes this clear, it would be another matter.

Baroness Hooper

I believe that it is perfectly clear and that there is no need for an amendment. However, I shall consider this to make absolutely sure of that point and take any action if it is necessary.

Baroness Birk

It is a great pity that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, is not in her seat because she may have been so convinced by the arguments in reply to what she said that she might have changed her mind. I cannot agree with the Minister when she says that this has not been the case. The provision may not have applied before 1944. However, the subject then became part of the curriculum. I must put to the Minister that it is a clear change in the law.

There was a judgment in 1981 known as the Hereford and Worcester case in which a parent and teacher took Hereford and Worcester Local Education Authority to court to challenge its introduction of a £10 fee for individual music tuition for the parent's two daughters. Mr. Justice Forbes ruled that charging for individual music tuition which formed part of the school curriculum was unlawful. He stated: If it is possible for a pupil to get an A-level as a performing musician, or an O-level, that is a qualification towards which a school curriculum might well aim … for this purpose there seems no logical reason for distinguishing between an O-level in physics and one in piano-playing". In the Bill music is now part of one of the foundation subjects. The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was quite right when he pointed out that we are now becoming musically pre-eminent in this country. It is also right to remember that those of us who are very interested in the arts often feel that not enough is done in this country to encourage people. There is often an air of the philistine about the issue. What better way is there to encourage young people to be interested in the arts and to participate than to have these subjects integrated in their education? One cannot do that and at the same time say that such a subject is an extra and—as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said—regard it as a frill. This is what is wrong with the way in which we consider art subjects in a curriculum. They are too often looked upon as frills and not the serious part of life.

Lord Somers

Perhaps I may intervene and remind the noble Baroness that there is a great difference between having an interest in music, and performing it.

Baroness Birk

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Somers, for saying that. That is exactly the point I was trying to make. There is a great difference. When one is dealing with young people, encouragement is of extreme importance. This is what we are talking about.

In view of the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Government to consider making any changes—the Minister was very honest to put it in the way she did and not to lead us up any garden paths—I shall have to divide the Committee.

6.38 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 233) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided; Contents, 89; Not-Contents, 178.

Adrian, L. Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Ailesbury, M. John-Mackie, L.
Airedale, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Annan, L. Kirkhill, L.
Ardwick, L. Kirkwood, L.
Attlee, E. Listowel, E.
Aylestone, L. Lockwood, B.
Birk, B. McCarthy, L.
Blackstone, B. McNair, L.
Blease, L. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Mayhew, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Meston, L.
Buckmaster, V. Milner of Leeds, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Morton of Shuna, L.
Carter, L. Mountevans, L.
Chichester, Bp. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Nicol, B.
Cobbold, L. Oram, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Perry of Walton, L.
David, B. Peston, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Donoughue, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. Rea, L.
Ennals, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Ewart-Biggs, B. Rochester, L.
Falkender, B. Russell, E.
Falkland, V. Seear, B.
Fitt, L. Serota, B.
Flowers, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Gallacher, L. Southwark, Bp.
Galpern, L. Stedman, B.
Gladwyn, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Grey, E. Swann, L.
Grimond, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Hampton, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Tonypandy, V.
Hatch of Lusby, L. TordofT, L. [Teller.]
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Underhill, L.
Hylton, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Irving of Dartford, L. Walston, L.
Jay, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Jeger, B. Williams of Elvel, L.
Airey of Abingdon, B. Beaverbrook, L.
Aldington, L. Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Beloff, L.
Allerton, L. Belstead, L.
Alport, L. Bessborough, E.
Auckland, L. Blatch, B.
Bathurst, E. Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Bauer, L. Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brentford, V. Long, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Lyell, L.
Buckinghamshire, E. McAlpine of Moffat, L.
Butterworth, L. McFadzean, L.
Caithness, E. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Malmesbury, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Manchester, Bp.
Campbell of Croy, L. Mancroft, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Manton, L.
Carnock, L. Margadale, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Marley, L.
Cathcart, E. Marshall of Leeds, L.
Chelwood, L. Merrivale, L.
Chorley, L. Mersey, V.
Coleraine, L. Middleton, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Milverton, L.
Colwyn, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Monson, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Cottesloe, L. Morris, L.
Cowley, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Cox, B. Munster, E.
Craigavon, V. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Craigmyle, L. Nelson, E.
Crickhowell, L. Newall, L.
Croft, L. Norfolk, D.
Cross, V. Norrie, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Orkney, E.
Davidson, V. [Teller.] Orr-Ewing, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Pender, L.
Denman, L. Penrhyn, L.
Derwent, L. Platt of Writtle, B.
Digby, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Dilhorne, V. Polwarth, L.
Dudley, E. Pym, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Quinton, L.
Elibank, L. Rankeillour, L.
Ellenborough, L. Reay, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Rees, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Reigate, L.
Erroll, E. Rennell, L.
Erroll of Hale, L. Renton, L.
Fairfax of Cameron, L. Rippon of Hexham, L.
Ferrers, E. Rochdale, V.
Ferrier, L. Rodney, L.
Fortescue, E. St. Aldwyn, E.
Freyberg, L. St. Davids, V.
Gainford, L. St. John of Fawsley, L.
Geddes, L. Saint Oswald, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Salisbury, M.
Gisborough, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Glenarthur, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Sandford, L.
Greenway, L. Seebohm, L.
Gridley, L. Selborne, E.
Grimthorpe, L. Selkirk, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Shannon, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Halsbury, E. Somers, L.
Hanson, L. Stockton, E.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Strange, B.
Harmar-Nicholls, L. Strathclyde, L.
Harvington, L. Sudeley, L.
Henley, L. Suffield, L.
Hesketh, L. Swansea, L.
Hives, L. Swinfen, L.
Holderness, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Hood, V. Thorneycroft, L.
Hooper, B. Trafford, L.
Hylton-Foster, B. Trefgarne, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Trumpington, B.
Kaberry of Adel, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Killearn, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Kinloss, Ly. Whitelaw, V.
Lauderdale, E. Wise, L.
Lawrence, L. Wolfson, L.
Lindsay, E. Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Young, B.
London, Bp.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.48 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 234 to 234B not moved.]

Clause 95 agreed to.

Clauses 96 to 98 agreed to.

Clause 99 [Charges and remissions policies]:

[Amendment No. 234C not moved.]

Clause 99 agreed to.

Clause 100 [Charges for board and lodging at boarding schools]:

[Amendments Nos. 235 and 236 not moved.]

Clause 100 agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 236ZA: After Clause 100, insert the following new clause:

("Extension of powers as to trusts for religious education. 1973 c. 16.

.—(1) Section 2 of the Education Act 1973 (special powers as to certain trusts for religious education) shall be amended as follows.

(2) For subsection (1) there shall be substituted the following subsections— (1) Where the premises of a voluntary school or a grant-maintained school have ceased (whether before or after the passing of the Education Reform Act 1988) to be used for a voluntary school or, as the case may be, a grant-maintained school, or in the opinion of the Secretary of State it is likely they will cease to be so used, then subject to subsections (2) to (4) below, he may by order made by statutory instrument make new provision as to the use of any endowment if it is shown either—

  1. (a) that the endowment is or has been held wholly or partly for or in connection with the provision at the school of religious education in accordance with the tenets of a particular religious denomination; or
  2. (b) that the endowment is or has been used wholly or parrly for or in connection with the provision at the school of such religious education and that (subject to subsection (IC) below) the requirements of subsection (1A) below are fulfilled.

(1A) The requirements of this subsection are—

  1. (a) that the school was or has been maintained as a voluntary school since 1st April 1945 (the coming into force of Part II of the Education Act 1944) or, in the case of a grant-maintained school, was so maintained from that date until immediately before it became a grant-maintained school; and
  2. (b) that religious education in accordance with the tenets of the denomination concerned—
    1. (i) is, and from that date has been, provided at the school; or
    2. (ii) where the premises have ceased to be used for the purposes of the school, was provided at the school from that date until immediately before the premises ceased to be so used;
in pursuance of section 27 or 28 of that Act (religious education in voluntary schools) or section 73 or 74 of the Education Reform Act 1988 (religious education in grant-maintained schools which were formerly voluntary schools).

(1B) For the purposes of this section—

(1C) For the purposes of this section—

(a) where in the case of any school falling within subsection (IA)(a) above it is shown—

  1. (i) that religious education in accordance with the tenets of a particular denomination is provided at the school; or
  2. (ii) where the premises have ceased to be used for the purposes of the school, such religious education was so provided immediately before the premises ceased to be so used;
such religious education shall be taken to have been provided at the school from 1st April 1945; and

(b) where religious instruction in accordance with such tenets is shown to have been given to any pupils at a controlled school or a grant-maintained school which was a controlled school immediately before it became a grant-maintained school, the religious instruction shall be taken to have been given to them at the request of their parents;

unless the contrary is shown."

(3) In subsection (4) for the words from "in connection with voluntary schools or" to "such a school" there shall be substituted the following paragraphs— (a) in connection with schools which are voluntary schools or grant-maintained schools; or (b) partly in connection with such schools (or either description of such schools) and partly in other ways related to the locality served by the voluntary school or grant-maintained school at the premises that have gone or are to go out of use for such a school;").

The noble Baroness said: In speaking to this amendment, I speak also to Amendment No. 281CA. The purpose of this new clause is to give the Secretary of State a somewhat wider discretion to make an order to reapply for other educational purposes within the diocese the endowments—which normally means the proceeds of sale—of a closed or closing voluntary school. At present he may make such an order only where it can be shown that the endowments are "held" for the provision of religious education in accordance with the tenets of a particular denomination.

In practice it is the Church of England that is most often affected by these provisions. Many older voluntary Church of England schools are established on trusts which are silent about the provision of denominational religious education, even though there may be a strong inference that this was the original intention and even though the school has been for many years maintained and run as a voluntary school providing religious education in accordance with the tenets of the Church of England. In these circumstances the diocesan authorities are precluded from applying the proceeds of sale for other educational purposes within the diocese and they are instead used for local religious or educational purposes under schemes made by the Charity Commission.

It seems to the Government that where it can be shown that the endowments have in practice been used in connection with the provision of denominational education for a substantial period, the Secretary of State should have the power to make an order for their continued application for this purpose. Use in this way, since the coming into force of Part II of the Education Act 1944, provides an appropriate and convenient yardstick.

The clause will make no difference to those cases where the provisions of the trust make the intentions of the original donors unambiguously clear. Even in those cases where the new clause will apply there is no presumption that the Secretary of State will be prepared to make an order in all circumstances. He will continue as at present to make a careful assessment of all the circumstances, taking account of the views of the Charity Commission where appropriate. What the clause does is to enlarge somewhat the range of circumstances in which it is possible for an order to be made. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of London

I should like to welcome the government amendments. In large measure they are as a result of correspondence between officials in the department, the Charity Commissioners and legal advisers of the Church of England. I am sure that the Committee will appreciate that the long list of amendments attempts to deal with some complicated matters. We are still examining some of the amendments to make certain that they deal with the difficulties which have been experienced, particularly Amendment No. 236ZA. With regard to Amendment No. 236ZC, which relates to the 1953 Act, I know that some dioceses would like more flexibility in respect of controlled schools. We should like to look at the amendments carefully and if necessary come back. However, in the meantime I welcome these amendments and we are grateful to the Government for bringing them forward.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 236ZB: After Clause 100, insert the following new clause:

("Schemes under the Endowed Schools Acts

.—(1) Where under any provision (however expressed) of a scheme made under the Endowed Schools Acts 1869 to 1948 the power of the trustees under the scheme to apply any property to which the scheme relates for purposes authorised by the scheme is subject to the approval or order of any other person—

  1. (a) the scheme shall have effect as if no such approval or order was required; and
  2. (b) no liability shall be deemed to have been incurred in respect of any failure before the passing of this Act to obtain any such approval or order.

(2) The Secretary of State may, on the application of any person whose approval or order would but for this section be required under such a scheme, direct that that requirement shall continue to have effect notwithstanding subsection (1)(a) above; but no liability shall be deemed to have been incurred in respect of any failure before the making of such a direction to obtain any such approval or order.").

The noble Baroness said: In speaking to this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 281CB. This is a wholly technical amendment. Section 86 of the Education Act 1944 has been repealed but trusts made under it still exist. These trusts have terms requiring the Secretary of State's approval before the proceeds of sale of redundant property can be reapplied. That is an anomalous requirement. Under Section 2 of the 1973 Act modern trusts do not include it. The amendment abolishes that requirement to the convenience of the Church authorities and should result in a small but worthwhile reduction in unnecessary work. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 236ZC: After Clause 100, insert the following new clause:

("Extension of power to require local education authority to defray expenses of establishing controlled school. 1953 c. 33. . In section 2 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953 (power to require local education authority to defray expenses of establishing controlled school), in paragraph (b) (which limits the power conferred by that section to cases where the new school is required for pupils for whom accommodation in some other voluntary or grant-maintained school has ceased to be available) after the words "for whom" there shall be inserted the words "or for a substantial proportion of whom".").

The noble Baroness said: In speaking to this amendment I speak also to Amendments Nos. 281DA, 285A and 285B. The amendment rectifies another anomaly in the present law. At present a local education authority which wishes to do so may under Section 3 of the 1967 Act pay for a new controlled middle school, provided that a substantial proportion of the children for whom it is intended would otherwise have attended some other voluntary school.

By contrast, under Section 2 of the 1953 Act a local education authority may provide a new controlled primary or secondary school only if it is required for the pupils from one or more other voluntary schools. The amendment brings the law applying to controlled primary and secondary schools into line with that applying to middle schools. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hooper moved Amendment No. 236ZD: After Clause 100, insert the following new clause:

("Power to determine times of school sessions. etc.

. The following section shall be substituted for section 21 of the 1986 Act—

"Terms, holidays and sessions.

21.—(l) The articles of government for every county, controlled and maintained special schools shall provide for it to be the duty of the local education authority to determine the dates at which the school terms and holidays are to begin and end.

(2) The articles of government for every such school shall provide for it to be the duty of the governing body to determine the times at which the school session or, if there is more than one, each school session is to begin and end on any day and, where the governing body propose to make any change in those times, for it to be their duty—

  1. (a) to consult the local education authority and the head teacher before taking any of the actions mentioned in paragraphs (b) to (g) below;
  2. (b) to include a statement in the report they are required to prepare by virtue of section 30 of this Act—
    1. (i) indicating that they propose to make a change in those times;
    2. (ii) specifying the proposed change and when they propose that it should take effect; and
    3. (iii) drawing attention to any comment on the proposal included as an annex to the report by virtue of paragraph (c) below and including such response to the comment as they may consider appropriate;
  3. (c) If so required by the local education authority, to include as an annex to that report such written comment on the proposal as the authority may provide for that purpose;
  4. (d) to provide an opportunity for discussion of the proposal at a parents' meeting held by virtue of section 31 of this Act;
  5. (e) to consider any comments made at the meeting on the proposal before determining whether any change in those times should be made and (if so) whether the proposal should be implemented with or without any modification;
  6. (f) not to effect any change in those times except at the beginning of a school year; and
  7. 74
  8. (g) not less than three months before any change in those times is to take effect—
    1. (i) to inform the local education authority; and
    2. (ii) to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that the parents of all registered pupils at the school are informed;
of the change and of when it is to take effect.

(3) For the purposes of any provision included in the articles of government for any such school by virtue of subsection (2) above, the times determined by the local education authority immediately before the coming into force of section (Power to determine times of school sessions, etc.) of the Education Reform Act 1988 as the times at which the school session or, if there is more than one, each school session is to begin and end on any day shall be taken to have been determined by the governing body.

(4) The articles of government for every aided and special agreement school shall provide for it to be the duty of the governing body to determine—

  1. (a) the dates and times at which the school terms and holidays are to begin and end; and
  2. (b) the times at which the school session or, if there is more than one, each school session is to begin and end on any day;

(5) The articles of government for every county, voluntary and maintained special school shall provide for the governing body to have power to require pupils in attendance at the school to attend at any place outside the school premises for the purpose of receiving any instruction or training included in the secular curriculum for the school." ").

The noble Baroness said: In speaking to this amendment I speak also to Amendment No. 284B. At present the control of the timing of the school day for county controlled and maintained special schools rests with the local education authority. For aided and special agreement schools it rests with the governing body. During the Committee stage in another place my honourable friend the Minister of State undertook that the Government would consider the transfer to the governing bodies of all schools, although with some safeguards, powers relating to the control of the timing of the school day and to the determination of places outside the school premises at which instruction may be given to pupils.

At this point I should make it clear that the Government undertaking did not extend to altering in any way the current arrangements for the control of school terms and holidays, or the powers of governing bodies of aided and special agreement schools, to control the timings of the school day. The clause leaves those arrangements unchanged. Furthermore, it makes no provision for grant-maintained schools. The Government are considering what further provision, if any, will be required to ensure that the governing bodies of grant-maintained schools possess all the powers available to those of aided and special agreement schools regarding the control of the timing of the school day, the dates and timings of terms and holidays and the attendance of pupils at places outside school.

The Government have consulted local authority and teacher associations on the form and scope of the safeguards to be attached to the transferred powers. Responses indicated concern to safeguard the effective and economic provision of local education authority services, particularly school transport; the interests of parents with children at more than one school; and the development of effective inter-school collaboration. The Government have taken careful consideration of those views in drafting the new clause and have—

Lord Peston

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness but I am completely lost. Which amendment are we currently dealing with? I thought that we were dealing with Amendment No. 236ZC but the noble Baroness appears to be talking to Amendment No. 236ZD. Did we deal with Amendment No. 236ZC without anyone telling us?

Baroness Hooper

I said Amendment No. 236ZD.

Baroness David

It is not grouped with Amendment No. 236ZD.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Alport)

I called Amendment No. 236ZD.

Viscount Davidson

We have dealt with Amendment No. 236ZC and we are now dealing with Amendment No. 236ZD. I hope that that enlightens the Committee as well as me.

Lord Peston

Has the Minister finished her contribution at this stage as regards Amendment No. 236ZD?

Baroness Hooper

I have not but I have entirely lost my place. I was saying that, as a result of the consultations that have been carried out, the Government have taken careful account of the views in drafting the new clause. They have endeavoured to balance the legitimate concerns of those affected by a transfer of powers with the need to ensure that the transfer is genuine and credible. The interests of parents, staff and other interests specific to the school and adjacent schools have been taken into account.

Giving the governing bodies control of the school day would be consistent with the powers they have recently acquired over the curriculum in the 1986 (No. 2) Act and with those to be devolved to them in the Bill concerning financial delegation, the national curriculum and charging for extra-curricular activities. We have sought to meet the legitimate concern of those whom we have consulted in drafting the new clause. I beg to move.

Lord Hylton

It would be very much for the convenience of parents if the terms and holidays of schools in contiguous education authority areas could be harmonised. I speak with some feeling on the matter as someone living on the borderline of the counties of Avon and Somerset. It is a highly arbitrary boundary across which many pupils commute in both directions.

Lord Peston

I believe that I strongly support this clause but, since I am not sure whether I fully understand it, perhaps I may ask one or two questions before committing myself totally. As I understand the clause and as I understand the noble Baroness, the school day, if we take that as an example, will be determined by the governors. Am I to understand that they will be able to determine the school day in a totally unconstrained fashion? Will the governor who decides to concentrate the whole of the school's activity in the first part of the day be allowed to do that, or more or less have any other arrangement? More generally, is this an area where governors will be able, and indeed be encouraged, to experiment with the school day in order to see parents' attitudes and so on? I read this as a decentralising or decontrolling clause but I should like a word or two in reply on that.

Baroness Hooper

Yes, it will be possible to experiment and to seek new ways of doing things. Since the Government are satisfied that the safeguards included are adequate to ensure that governing bodies consider all the relevant factors and consult and inform concerned interests before initiating any changes, I believe that these clauses will open up new possibilities.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 236A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clauses 101 to 103 agreed to.

Viscount Davidson

This may be a convenient moment to adjourn for dinner and I suggest that we do not return to the Committee stage before eight o'clock. I beg to move that the House do now resume.

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

House resumed.