HL Deb 10 March 1994 vol 552 cc1542-89

4.13 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department for Education (Baroness Blatch)

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

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

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [The Teacher Training Agency]:

[Amendments Nos.1 and 2 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Dainton moved Amendment No.3: Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new clause: ("Functions of the Higher Education Funding Councils in respect of teacher training 1. — (1) The Higher Education Funding Council for England shall exercise in relation to England, and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales shall exercise in relation to Wales—

  1. (a) their functions as a funding agency under this Part;
  2. (b) the function of providing information and advice on teacher education; and
  3. (c) such other functions as may be conferred on them by or under this Part.
  1. (2) The objectives of each of the two councils in exercising those functions shall be—
    1. (a) to contribute to raising the standards of teaching;
    2. 1543
    3. (b) to improve the quality and efficiency of all routes into the teaching profession;
    4. (c) to secure the involvement of schools in all courses and programmes for the training of school teachers.
  2. (3) It is hereby declared for the avoidance of doubt—
    1. (a) that section 82 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (which provides for the joint exercise by any two or more councils of any of their functions) enables the two councils referred to in subsection (1) to exercise jointly any or all of the functions referred to in that subsection, and
    2. (b) the the references in section 82 of that Act to functions includes the power, contained in paragraph 8 of Schedule 1 to that Act, to establish a committee, so that any or all of the functions conferred by subsection (1) may be exercised jointly by those two councils through the medium, or with the advice or other assistance, of a committee established by them jointly.").

The noble Lord said: I should like to speak to Amendments Nos.3,22,26,60,66,67,73 and 78. But, first, I wish to say a few words about the whole Bill. It is really two Bills in one. Part II, which is concerned solely with student unions, has excited much comment within and outside your Lordships' House. The Minister has been made fully aware of these comments and I think that we would all like to congratulate her on the very skilful manner in which she has handled the situation. I know that all universities and the CVCP are extremely grateful to her for the receptive and constructive way in which she has dealt with their anxieties. Part I of the Bill is completely different but, I hope and, indeed, expect, that the Minister will be just as helpful and receptie to the equally real anxieties which exist about the Government's intentions and proposals.

I am sorry my noble friend Lord Walton of Detchant is unfortunately not able to be in his place today. For many of us who thought that this Bill would by now have reached the other place, diaries have had to be rearranged and for him this day was impossible. But he has authorised me to say that he strongly supports the remarks that I am about to make.

These amendments go to the heart of Part I of the Bill. We propose them because we are as concerned as the Government say they are to do all that is possible to improve school teaching and teacher education. There can be no disagreement about these objectives but only on the bestmeans of achieving them.

The effect of the amendments is to charge the Higher Education Funding Council for England (but not for Wales because that is to retain its responsibilities) with all the responsibilities for the funding of teacher education apart from two exceptions; that is, the accreditation of teachers and the promotion of teaching as a career, to which I shall refer later. This change carries with it three consequential changes in wording of the Bill: first, to replace "Teacher Training Agency" by HEFCs in England and Wales in Clause 1 and the other clauses where TTA appears; secondly, to omit Schedule 1, which deals with the nitty-gritty of TTA; and, thirdly, to replace Clause 2, which defines the membership and method of appointment of members of the TTA, by a new clause, which specifies the desirable attributes for membership of any joint committee which the English and Welsh funding councils might wish to establish in order to assist them in performing their functions as defined in Clause 1 of the amendment. These functions are almost entirely the same as those specified in the Bill for the TTA.

Funding councils have the power to create committees for any purpose— these may also be joint committees— and, indeed, they have already exercised it. For example, on 4th January 1993 it was announced that all three funding councils— in England, Wales and Scotland— had formed a joint medical advisory committee on matters affecting medical education and research in Great Britain.

I would like to submit that this example from teaching and research in the great profession of medicine should be emulated in school teaching. Good quality services in both teaching and medicine are vital to national well-being and crucially depend on the quality of the training of the entrants to the profession. The resemblance should not and does not end there. Both areas of study have theoretical and practical aspects. A doctor cannot be a good physician or surgeon unless he knows how the various parts of the body work at the molecular and cellular levels no less than at the skeletal. But he must also be able to observe and interpret signs and symptoms in his patient before prescribing therapy. He learns the former— that is, the intellectual framework— largely in the university and the latter by the practical work in the wards and clinics of hospitals, where his teachers always include registrars and consultants employed by the NHS health authority or trust, who often also have honorary university appointments. Those students who are successful in their courses, both theory and practical, are then admitted to degrees by their university or to membership of the royal colleges. However, their licence to practise medicine is dependent on being granted admission to the register held by the General Medical Council.

So it is and so it should remain with teachers. They need an intellectual pedagogical framework plus practical experience. To acquire both requires the partnership of higher educational institutions and schools, and it is equally right that qualified teacher status, like a licence to practise medicine, should be in the gift of neither but reserved to the state, perhaps using some mechanism analogous to the General Medical and Dental Councils. I note that Amendment No.65 suggests that a general teaching council should have the responsibility of advising the Secretary of State on this matter and, in passing, I should say that that seems to me to be a good idea.

But I return to my main theme. I listened very carefully to what the Minister had to say in opening and concluding the Second Reading debate and, because that was three months ago, I have since scrutinised the Official Report. She then claimed that a teacher training agency was necessary. She said: They underpin the essential teacher training reforms" — [Official Report, 7/12/93; col.819.] I have tried very hard to find an argument for this assertion which would also justify a change from the present arrangement. I shall leave out of detailed consideration the notion, which is obnoxious to me, in the Bill that the members of this new TTA quango are all to be appointed by the Secretary of State on the basis of "appearing to him" to satisfy particular criteria laid down by him; that it cannot hold a meeting in the absence of a "representative of the Secretary of State", nor see any papers to which he is debarred access, as stated in paragraph 10 of the schedule. This is "Big Brother" indeed. It seems there is to be a chaperon to whatever is said or read— an arrangement which I find wholly repugnant.

But let us put that aside and ask what is the evidence that "essential reforms"— I use the Minister's words — are being impeded by the present arrangement. None has been proffered by her. The essential matter of accreditation of universities, colleges and schools to see if they, have the necessary commitment to the Secretary of State's criteria [and can] deliver quality courses", is, as she said, now based on inspection of courses by Ofsted and, as she also said, that will continue. Only the body to which Ofsted reports will change. What gain is there in that?

She also made. great play with the criticism that the Higher Education F. unding Council allocates funds on a formula basis and therefore she argued that, under present arrangements, educational research projects do not compete for funds. I think that she is seriously misinformed about that. Is she not aware, first, that the formulae used for funding universities in every subject area have within them a very large element of reward for high quality as seen by the HEFC through its quality assessment exercise, which also takes account of grants from other sources such as research councils; and, secondly, that within the universities money for research by members of faculties of education is up against very tough competition indeed from hard-nosed researchers in the expensive, experimental,"hard" sciences of engineering, technology and the natural sciences? How will the Secretary of State arrive at the research element of the grant to be made to any teacher training agency? I really do not know because he will have no means available to him which is in any way comparable in rigour to those already in use in universities and funding councils.

It is argued also that initial teacher training should be more school-centred. I suppose that many Members of this House have a gut feeling that that must be right. But, I want more than gut feeling as evidence, because I know how this country's blue collar workforce and its performance in the past has been held back by apprenticeship training based on that principle, in such marked and adverse contrast with that of other nations which sensibly combine practice and theory by insisting on a proper foundation in relevant theory as well as good training and practical skills.

To create an agency and to give it a clear steer to more school-centred training is premature, given the lack of evidence as to its value, especially since it is less than two years since the Government gave schools a larger role in initial teacher training and that change has had insufficient time either to settle down or to be properly evaluated.

Therefore, I find myself unconvinced by the Government's arguments for creating a teacher training agency. I can see several arguments against. First, and foremost, by removing teacher training from competition for funds with other disciplines there is a serious danger of not bringing to bear on decisions affecting resources for education those tough criteria now applied in other disciplines. Secondly, staff in universities receiving basic funds from a source different from those of their colleagues will then see themselves as peculiar, if not second class, and their links with cognate disciplines and with research necessary to inform and enrich their own work will weaken. Thirdly, quality will be more difficult to deliver and assessment of, particularly, school-provided initial teacher training will be more complex and less uniform in standard.

I could extend that list but I will not. Perhaps others will do so. Instead, I shall conclude by trying to answer the question: who, besides the Government, wants that change? Do the parents want it? I know that the Government attach great importance to their views. Here these organisations, which, incidentally, supported the 1992 change for more involvement of schools in initial teacher training, most certainly do not want the change. They are worried that such a change will distract teachers from their primary duty of teaching. They cannot understand why, if the Higher Education Funding Council in Wales can be entrusted with that responsibility, its English counterpart cannot. For somewhat similar reasons the National Association of Governors and Managers is also opposed and it says: Most Governing Bodies will decline to support school-centred ITT until successful experiments have proved its viability and value". Organisations representing teachers, head teachers (from both maintained and independent schools), university teachers, vice-chancellors and educational researchers all stand in opposition to Part I of this Bill. It is only too easy to dismiss the views of some of those organisations representing teachers and universities on the grounds that they have vested interests and no one likes change. Even if selfishness of this kind were the motive— and I do not believe for a moment that it is — it in no way invalidates the arguments which have been advanced.

Therefore, the plain fact is that in answer to the question I posed for myself I can find not one single body of knowledgeable people which considers desirable the establishment of a teacher training agency as against the present arrangements. I can respect the arguments which may be adduced in support of the opposition. But if one wishes to give higher visibility to teacher training, to subject it to special scrutiny and funding without breaking the indispensable functional links between theory and practice, between higher education and schools, then I recommend the device of a special committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils of England and Wales. I accordingly hope that the Committee will accept Amendment No.3 and those that go with it which I enumerated in my opening sentence.

I have not dealt with two matters, although I referred briefly to them; namely, the promotion of teaching as a career, which forms part of Clause 1(2), and the award of qualified teacher status, which is the subject of Clause 13. That is quite a deliberate omission on my part because neither of those functions sits easily with funding, nor is there any amendment dealing with such matters due to be considered today. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Beloff

In the unfortunate absence of the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, and as one of those whose name is attached to the amendment (and those consequent upon it), I should like to add a word or two to the very exhaustive coverage which has already been given to the Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Dainton.

The main point that I should like to make is that so far as I know there is no dispute about the Government's objective. All are agreed that there must be some changes in the course of time in the way in which teachers are educated, as, indeed, we have seen and are seeing changes in the way in which members of other professions now receive education and training. In a changing world, change is inevitable.

In the case of teachers, in the run up to the proposals a great deal was made of the argument that some university departments which deal with such matters are committed to theories— if you like, progressive theories — which are now shown to be invalid. I do not believe that anyone will accuse me of being in favour of progress or progressive theories in any sphere. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and I have been arguing about such matters for about 30 years.

The way in which one goes about checking any unfortunate consequences of such commitments can only be through looking at the training and education of teachers in the context of other professions. Other professions base what they do on research and that research is subject to highly competitive peer criticism. Therefore, it would seem that it is by bringing the teaching profession closer to other professions — that is to say, making it part of the structure of higher education as a whole— that the way can be sought, even if one accepts the Government's case that change is needed.

It is somewhat paradoxical that, if would-be teachers are to be merely deposited in schools and those schools given the responsibility for their training, they will almost certainly have to be looked after by people from the very generation whose political and educational philosophy is most challenged. They will be people who qualified as teachers in, let us say, the 1960s. I did not come to that conclusion myself; indeed, I am not clever enough. It was pointed out to me in a very interesting memorandum from the University of Exeter, which has a big responsibility for teacher education throughout the South West of England and whose objections to the Bill in its present form are supported not only by the relevant professions in the area but also by elected councillors on the Devon County Council of all political parties.

What I feel the Government should have tried to do — and what we are now suggesting they should do— is to accept the fact that change is needed but also to recognise that they can within their own objectives accept the basic content of Amendment No.3; in other words, the substitution for an unknown and inevitably unpopular quango of exactly what is done, as the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, pointed out, in the medical profession, namely to have a committee of the funding council which will give an overview of the supply of teachers (which is most important) and of the way in which they are trained.

Far from being in opposition to the Government's proposals, I believe that the amendment we are offering this afternoon gives the Government a way of having what they wish— that is, a greater degree of overview of teacher training education— and at the same time avoids, as the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, pointed out, the universal opposition of almost everyone who would have to take part in the system which they propose. One can say,"We can do without so-and-so". But you cannot, for example, enlist the schools in a system if those schools say,"We have neither the resources nor the will to do that on our own"— and many schools have said that— "nor do we wish to do so without the customary backing of an institution of higher education to which we can look for advice and monitoring". The whole debate seems to me to be something which we really ought to have been able to avoid. By now the Government should have come round to the view that the above approach is the one which would suit them best.

I should not like the noble Lord to think that it is only long-established universities which are hostile to the present proposal for a new quango. Many Members of the Committee will no doubt have received letters from Oxford University. Cambridge is so well represented in the Chamber this afternoon that one need not worry about it, and it may well be said that Exeter is an old-fashioned university. However, let us take the most up-to-date of all our universities; namely, the Open University. Not only has it developed new methods of teaching and recruited new types of students, but it is also carrying out research— for example, distance learning of various kinds— which will eventually be of great importance to our education system as a whole.

The Vice-Chancellor of the Open University has written to me detailing the enormous amount of work which the university already carries out in respect of the training and education of teachers, including in-service and advanced training, which is also important. He also says that he very much hopes— as, indeed, does the Open University as a whole— that our amendment will be accepted and the proposed agency rejected. Do I need to say more?

Baroness Warnock

In putting my name to this amendment, I have little to add to what the other Members of the Committee who have put their names to it have said. However, I wish to make one or two points. Like the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, I scrutinised what the Minister said in opening and closing the debate at Second Reading of this Bill, and like him I noticed that she stated that the establishment of a separate funding authority for teaching training was necessary to underpin the necessary teacher training reform. But I, too, was unable to find any arguments to demonstrate this necessity because without the underpinning of a new authority quite radical reforms in the training of teachers have been going on for a decade now with accelerating success all over the country. Partnerships of a much closer nature between schools and universities have been growing up in Oxford, Keele, Exeter and Birmingham to name just a few. A considerable investment of funds by the universities has gone into that.

The improvement of standards and of the preparation of teachers is already beginning to become apparent, but there has also been set up a limited experiment in school centred courses; that is, courses where schools control the provision of teaching. However, this has been running for a short time and there are only a few hundred teachers who are trainees now involved in this. It is certain that there has been no time to evaluate the results. Therefore, I believe it is extremely early days to propose that the new funding authority should balance the different kinds. of training courses— the university based courses and the school centred courses. I believe we ought to let the present experiment run for a long time yet to yield some results before even raising the question of balance, let alone enshrining it in legislation.

There is no doubt that the removal of teacher education and educational research from the control of the universities would greatly diminish the standing of the professional qualifications of teachers and would considerably narrow the potential scope of research into educational topics, which must in many cases be conducted in institutions where there exist related faculties such as the faculty of psychology or urban studies or linguistics or philosophy.

It is not only those who carry out research who need the facilities of a university but also the student teachers themselves. It is difficult to see how in a school centred course, funded by a totally separate funding council, such students could attend lectures in subjects that are relevant to their studies or have the use of libraries to pursue their studies. It is not clear to me by what criteria the teacher training agency— if it were set up— would allocate funds to the proposed new courses. Even in the case of the present post-graduate certificate courses where schools are being asked to take much greater responsibility for the practical aspects of students' work, it is not yet clear that the right balance has been struck in every case in the workload and the salary allocation of the school based tutors, or mentors, enabling them to divide their time reasonably between their school pupils and their trainee students.

When the link with universities is broken altogether — if it is— the allocation of time and resources must be made by the school governing bodies. The school governing bodies will thereby have to take on yet another entirely new and unfamiliar burden which will entail a great deal of time and a great deal of work if it is to be done properly; and in which, of course, any funding agency will have to play its part. I suppose some of these difficulties could be overcome if it were strictly necessary but the question remains: why is the establishment of a new funding authority supposed to be necessary? In what way will the teaching profession be improved by this forcible separation from higher education as a whole? Why is this arrangement thought to be so utterly necessary in England but not necessary in either Wales or Scotland?

It is hard not to suspect that the teacher training agency is being put forward as a means to control not merely the numbers of teachers to be trained but the kind of training and the level of training that they will receive. The TTA will be able to allocate funds to schools as it thinks fit, and that means as the Secretary of State thinks fit. It is as if the teaching profession is somehow being punished for its past sins by its partial banishment from the universities. School controlled courses with a whole new funding mechanism attached may be the thin end of a wedge the effect of 'which may be to downgrade teachers, driving them further and further away from the position occupied by the other professions, or driving some of them— a balanced number— away; namely, those whose qualifications are to be based on school alone.

I detect here a relic of that ancient belief of which I have spoken before and which, since then, I have heard the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State express himself — that teachers do not really need training and that teaching is so easy that teachers, especially primary school teachers, need at most a few hours in the classroom to get the hang of it. It is almost beyond—

Lord Elton

I did not quite follow the noble Baroness. Was she attributing this view to the Secretary of State or quoting from him, or is it just a general impression she has?

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Warnock

I am grateful for that question. I have seen it reported, and also heard, the Secretary of State say that what is good enough for Eton— I believe that was the example he used although I cannot remember— should be good enough for a primary school; namely, an untrained teacher. I think it is almost beyond belief that anyone should hold even the relics of such a view when we are becoming more and mom conscious of the immense responsibility that teachers have; when we are asking them to compensate for the emotional, social and linguistic deprivation under which many of their pupils struggle, and when we require them to teach the difference— as we are told— between right and wrong and also to identify those children who will' have special educational needs. It is beyond belief that we should still be suggesting, by implication, that teaching is something any fool can do and that the training of teachers can therefore be funded and regulated with no regard to the kind of intellectual—.

Baroness Blatch

I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. If the noble Baroness is attributing quite monstrous comments to my right honourable friend it would be helpful, given that he is not in any position to defend himself in this Chamber, for the noble Baroness either to give sources for her comments or to leave that kind of speculation out of this debate. This is a serious debate and I believe we should have a serious discussion, not deal in speculation as regards what we think my right honourable friend may or may not have said.

Baroness Warnock

I understand that, but I believe that in the absence of my being able to find the necessity for the proposed new funding agency— I wait to be told that I am wrong— I am naturally obliged to look for reasons for the setting up of such an agency that would explain the insistence on having it. As I said, I simply fail to see that the establishment of such an agency is necessary at a time when our teacher training reforms are going ahead at a considerable pace and with considerable success. In the absence of any argument to prove that there is that necessity, it is only natural that one should look for a hidden agenda.

I am afraid that I am unmoved by the response of the noble Baroness the Minister. Although she may not subscribe in any way to the belief that teachers do not really require training, I believe that a considerable number of people have that view at the back of their minds. My point is simply that as we rightly demand more and more of teachers it seems ill-timed to suggest the removal of a proportion of teachers from the intellectual framework of the universities within which they ought to be doing their practical work and without which the practical work has no effect.

Lord Elton

As one who spent 10 years' teaching in the classroom perhaps I may be allowed to follow the noble Baroness, who has also had a distinguished career in the classroom and elsewhere. It seems to me that the first point that we have to establish is the view that we hold of teachers and of teaching as a profession. I yield to nobody in my regard for teaching as a profession. I believe that the teachers of this country are the trustees of our future and the guardians of our children for a great many hours of the day.

I am not one of those to whom my noble friend Lord Beloff attributed the view that all teachers trained in the 1960s are unreliable, either in their politics or philosophy. I believe that a great deal of very good work is being done in our schools. I believe that it is wrong to lay at the door of the teaching profession many of the present ills of society and the decline in standards in society, as is so popular in the newspapers.

However, having said that, it is clear that everything is not as good as it might be at present and that we need to look abroad if we are to see what standards can be achieved. If we are to make a change the question before the Committee is whether, as the amendment proposes, we should adapt what we have already or whether, in view of the urgency and importance of the question, we should create a specialist body to focus on a specific question.

One of the reasons which the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, advanced against that a moment ago was that it would be an organisation appointed by the Secretary of State on criteria which rested on his judgment. I may be wrong, but I believe that the bodies which do that job now— the HEFC and the FEFC— are appointed by the Secretary of State on criteria which he has to determine. If that is the case then the change proposed in the amendment is no change.

I shall not tackle the whole of the matter because my noble friend will deal with it, but there is one area on which I have strong views. It has been suggested that school-based teacher training will be in some way defective because it will deprive the students receiving it of the input of a university education. I think that I am right in saying that it is proposed that only postgraduate students shall be admitted to those courses. In that case, they will already have completed a degree course at university.

Earl Russell

I should be grateful if the noble Lord would tell me where in the Bill it says that only postgraduate students shall be admitted to those courses?

Lord Elton

That is a question to ask the Minister. I do not say that out of ignorance; one will not find it in the Bill. However, I imagine that the noble Earl, Lord Russell, wishes to find it in the Bill and therefore his wish should be addressed to the Minister.

My point is that this system can be used— and I hope that the Minister will confirm that it will be used— for postgraduate training. I taught for three years in a teacher training college and it was clear to me, and equally clear to my students, that much the most valuable time was spent on teaching practice in schools. Therefore, the focus on schools in the last postgraduate year should be regarded with great favour. It need not be isolated from institutes of education. There is no reason why there should not be co-operation between schools and those bodies which operate in their area.

Therefore, I ask the Committee not to run away from this idea without considering it. Arguments have been put forward from university common rooms which look very good and sound very strong and which address the interests of universities. I ask the Committee to consider the aspects of the issue which touch the interests of teachers and the pupils they will teach. It seems to me that this system proposes a route in that respect which may offer improvements over what is available now.

I urge the Committee not to dismiss this but to look at it carefully. I believe that Members of the Committee will find merit which will lead them not to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, and his supporters into the Lobby.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

With the leave of the Committee, I should like to ask for clarification of something that the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, said. The noble Baroness spoke about a hidden agenda. Is she suggesting that there is any unwarranted interference with academic freedom? Is she suggesting that any excessive control or abuse of executive powers is involved?

Baroness Warnock

I do not know whether it is proper for me to answer. I do not believe that I said anything about academic freedom. However, I do suggest the possibility of undue control of the content of teacher training courses which are not school based but school centered in that the funding council, whose membership is determined by the Secretary of State, will decide where to place resources and which schools should have them. I am not speaking of academic freedom directly but about the possibility, but not the inevitability, of undue control.

Earl Russell

I do not want to appear ungracious. Therefore, I shall say now to the noble Baroness that while I shall express my thanks in their due place for what has now happened to Part II of the Bill what I shall say will be even warmer than the note I wrote to her on 24th February, because since then further thought has made me more and more pleased with the changes to Part II of the Bill. It is now positively good.

However, like the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, I cannot extend that pleasure to Part I of the Bill. I rise to speak to my proposal to delete Clause 1. The noble Baroness may wish to say that that is a rather far-reaching proposal. Before she does so, I hope that she may reflect that it is no more far-reaching than her own amendment, which I warmly welcome, to delete Clause 20. Before she makes a distinction I hope that she will bear in mind the story of Oscar Wilde's Latin teacher. Oscar Wilde had a Latin essay to write. Needless to say, he had left it too late to prepare it so he found a passage on exactly that topic in Cicero and copied it word for word. The essay came back covered in red ink: "Far too ornate. Very flowery. Very bad Latin"."But please, sir, it's Cicero"."Well, my boy, Cicero could get away with it; you can't". I hope that the noble Baroness will not give me that reply.

I shall say a brief word about Amendment No.3. Amendment No.3 is a moderate amendment. Indeed, I might describe it as an extremely moderate amendment. Nevertheless, were the noble Baroness to agree to take it away and think about it I would, in those circumstances, not feel the need to press that Clause I should not stand part of the Bill.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, I have been very perplexed as to why Part I of the Bill has been introduced. However, since we debated the subject at Second Reading we have had an explanation from the Prime Minister in his "Back to Basics" interview in the Daily Express on 17th February. He said that the purpose of the Bill was to take influence from fashionable theorists and give it to schools. Behind those words I get more than a whiff of the suspicion that the noble Barone1s, Lady Warnock, suggests that teachers do not really need training but should learn on the job. In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, I also get more than a whiff of an interference with academic freedom. I hear a determination to rule out of court a certain body of ideas about education which at times have not found favour in certain quarters of the Conservative Party.

Education i s an academic subject. These are academic argurnents on which the jury is still out. You do not resolve academic arguments by creating a quango to ensure the success of one faction and not the other. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, made the obvious point that we are dealing with an attempt to take power from one quango to another quango. He is of course correct. But the higher education funding council necessarily represents a diversity of interests to match the diversity of higher education. It is not an appropriate body to impose on the training of teachers by force of authority one particular academic philosophy.

It is no part of my purpose— any more than it was part of the purpose of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff— to argue about who is right, first because I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Brigstocke, who, when this matter was debated on 1st May 1991, said: So often the answer is not either/or but it is both/and". — [Official Report, 1/5/91; col.806]. Secondly, there are some things which rightness does not excuse. For example, I have a personal preference for the teaching of reading by the phonic method. for the simple but limited reason that that is the way I have been taught and it appears to work. Nevertheless, I would think it a gross abuse of my parliamentary position to attempt to use legislation and take the full weight of executive patronage to impose that method of teaching reading on others who had studied the subject far more deeply than I would ever live to do. That is not the way you win academic arguments. Indeed, it seems to me that it would be a fundamental interference with academic freedom. It would also be an extreme exercise in political correctitude. I believe that noble Lords know that I am no friend of political correctitude, but political correctitude may come from either the Right or the Left. It needs to be opposed no matter from which quarter it may come. Members of a government in office for 14 years must accept that for some people it may appear that they are now the fashionable theorists.

One has to imagine this clause in other hands. I shall not refer to the present Opposition, still less before the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has spoken. It is a commonplace that today's lunatic fringe is the day after tomorrow's orthodoxy. Can one imagine in 30 years' time a teacher training agency that teaches people how to eliminate heterosexist body language in class? The Government are unwisely laying themselves wide open to that.

An article by Mr. Stephan Shakespeare in the Daily Telegraph on llth February shows some of the dangers that may lurk behind this Bill. In the first place, he has confused the University of London Institute of Education with the University of London external degree. I do not know whether any legal action is pending on that matter. I would be quite glad if that were so. Secondly, he takes vehement objection to the notion that the concept of literacy is fraught with difficulty. He appears to want to prohibit the use of any such objectionable notion. But if he were to do that he would interfere not only with educational research but would also prohibit a vast amount of research into the growth of literacy in Tudor and Stuart England. I shall give one small example of what I mean when I say that the concept of literacy is fraught with difficulty. I take it from the Record Office of your Lordships' House. In a document of 1642 a man attempted to sign his name, mis-spelled it, crossed it out, tried again, made a blob, buried the word under the ink, gave up and made a mark. When I come to consider whether or not that man was literate I have to face the fact that it is indeed true that the concept of literacy is fraught with difficulty. If Mr. Shakespeare and his friends want to use the teacher training agency to ban any such doctrine they will be sending some of the best historians in the University of Cambridge over to America.

If you want to change anything in education you have to do it by working with teachers and giving them a chance to change their own ideas. You cannot change a culture by legislation. If that were not true we would not have Roman Catholics in this country today. The amount of effort that has been put into eradicating Roman Catholicism by force of law is immense. It has failed. As a believer in religious and political pluralism, I am glad that they have survived.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, pointed out to me at Second Reading, accreditation is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. It is something on which the Secretary of State should take professional advice. It is the Secretary of State's responsibility in the same sense that it is the responsibility of the House to confirm measures that have gone through the General Synod. I believe that the House would agree that we should not lightly, wantonly or unadvisedly set those aside.

This matter was at one time the responsibility of a body known as CATE. The Secretary of State's attitude to CATE makes Petruchio look like a new man. The Secretary of State has murdered CATE. That is not all. There is a very large series of practical questions here. The schools do not want this new responsibility. SCOP has conducted a survey in which, out of 1,202 respondents, only 12 (less than 1 per cent.) want a major share of responsibility for intellectual and pedagogical development of prospective teachers. Schools are for teaching children. They are stretched to their limit. Only in today's local paper I read that my borough of Brent plans to sack large numbers of teachers in order to allow the Conservative council to cut the council tax. You cannot do that and impose upon schools major new responsibilities. You cannot have good teachers unless they are trained in their subject as well as in teaching. You cannot train them in their subject without access to major libraries.

I have been in the House long enough to know that no one who intends to legislate can possibly refuse to accept laws made by Parliament. But if your Lordships look at degrees in the United States I do not know of anyone who gives equal weight to a BA from Yale and a BA from the State University of Alaska at Fairbanks, even though as state universities go that is quite a good one and I do not wish to slur it. In much the same way, if the Bill were to become law and I were to be a school governor— as after retirement would not be impossible — I should find it difficult to give equal weight to the qualifications of a teacher qualified under this Bill and those of a teacher qualified by what I recognise as the normal process.

Lord Skidelsky

I wish to put the case for Clause 1 in a way that I hope will commend itself to the Committee. Noble Lords will, I think, agree that teacher training is not like most other university subjects. I shall come to medicine a little later because it has been raised and in some ways it is like teacher training, but there are also important differences. In any case, the Secretary of State is not concerned with the supply and quality of historians, no doubt to the great relief of the noble Earl, Lord Russell.

However, the Secretary of State has long had the statutory responsibility for the supply of teachers. The classic English doctrine put by the Bryce Commission in 1895 is still worth repeating. It wrote: The fact is that the body of teachers must necessarily occupy a somewhat anomalous position in the … national life. The service they render is one over which the State must, in self-defence, retain effective oversight … Nor, on the other hand, do the teachers stand in the same relation to the Government as does the Civil Service". In France and Germany, teachers do stand in relation to the government very much more like the Civil Service and their funding and accreditation arrangements reflect that fact. But the English way, which is the way I support, has been different. It has been to delegate the state's responsibilities to various independent or quasi-independent bodies on the well-known hands-off principle.

However, that delegation cannot be unconditional and its form has varied many times this century. The question is whether the delegated arrangements at any one time enable the Secretary of State to fulfil his responsibilities effectively. That is the nub of the argument and that is the nub of the Bill.

I read with great interest the briefing I received from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. Its case against the proposed new arrangements is impressive, but it rests on one premise: that nothing is wrong with the present quality of teacher education. I believe that to be a blinkered view for two reasons. First, it ignores the widespread criticism of the quality of teaching there has been over many years. Some of the HMI reports have been pretty scathing. In that respect, I suggest that there is a difference from medicine and the arrangements for dealing with the funding of medicine through a medical council. There has not, to my knowledge, been widespread criticism of the way doctors are trained. If it were felt to any great extent that thousands of people were dying because doctors were incompetent, I suggest that there would be very strong pressure to introduce different arrangements. There has been strong criticism of teacher training.

Lord Dainton

Would the noble Lord be prepared to give evidence for that emanating from the Office for Standards in Education?

Lord Skidelsky

Is the noble Lord referring to evidence of widespread criticism of teacher training?

Lord Dainton

I am referring to criticism associated with incompetence of teachers.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Skidelsky

Certainly, there have been many reports. The HMI report of 7th December 1993 is a good example. The Committee would agree, I think, that the quality of teaching is linked to the quality of teacher training, which in turn affects pupils' achievements.

The second reason for the different position from medicine is that school education is being set new tasks today by the urgent need, accepted on all sides, to raise our level of national economic efficiency. Unless we upgrade our skills, we cannot get back to full employment without a disastrous decline in our standard of living. I have heard that argument many times from the Opposition Benches and it is an argument that I accept.

Under those circumstances, the Secretary of State's effective oversight of which Lord Bryce spoke has to take new forms. School education cannot remain a secret garden, impenetrable to outsiders, with the state simply paying up for whatever the professionals wish to do.

I understand the argument that school education should not be used as a form of manpower planning. It was put most eloquently by my noble friend Lord Beloff in a recent debate in this House. But I find it difficult to understand the position of those who preach the urgency of improving national skills, yet want to deny the Secretary of State any effective means of improving teacher quality on which pupils' achievements so largely depend.

The present position is that the funding of initial teacher training, vested in the Higher Education Funding Council, is separated from the accreditation of initial teacher training vested in the Secretary of State acting on the advice of CATE (the Council for the Accreditation for Teacher Education). It makes good sense to unite those two functions in a single body which will be able to direct funds to where they can be used most effectively.

Under the proposed system the Secretary of State loses his power to accredit courses and the power to fund directly school-based courses. So the principle of delegation is being, maintained by the new proposal. It is even being extended. Moreover, from the point of view of accountability, to which I attach great importance, it must be right to concentrate responsibility in a single place. How are responsibilities for funding, scrutiny and accreditation shared out now? Hardly anyone knows. We are shunted from acronym to acronym. Now we will have one body which will not be able to escape public scrutiny— the teacher training agency. The whole procedure for channelling money will he brought out of the vestry and displayed to the full view of the congregation.

There is one other argument which I find compelling. The new funder, the teacher training agency, will not provide teacher training itself. At present, the funding councils allocate block grants to the universities which can then allocate them between their various subject categories. It is notoriously difficult for any institution, with the best will in the world, to take a detached view about the relative merits of its component operations. If there are cuts in the budget, its natural response is to share them out all round. It is much easier for an agency which does not provide teacher training itself to apply quality criteria impartially.

I understand the fears behind the amendment and I share some of them. The arguments I have been advancing this afternoon would be overwhelmed if it turned out that the main purpose of the Government's exercise was to kill off courses of which they disapproved. Education is riddled with ideology, as the noble Earl said earlier, and that applies as much to teacher training as any other parts of it. We cannot get rid of it, so there must be room for diversity of approach within the quality standards. Whatever my private views may be, I do not want Right-wing coercion to replace the Left-wing coercion which has been too prevalent in some education colleges.

It is essential therefore that the appointments to the new agency be above reproach. There must be no suggestion of ideological favouritism or jobs for the boys. That is a crucial element in the contract which those of us who support the measure with open eyes want from the Government. I urge the Minister not just to give us that assurance but to act on it. It is not for our sake but for the credibility of the whole reform that the Secretary of State must behave honourably in the matter. It is in that spirit that I support the Government and oppose the amendment.

Lord Flowers

We have heard from the ancient universities and from the relatively modern ones. Perhaps I may speak as someone who, in his retirement, has become a governor of a former polytechnic, Middlesex University. I have to tell the Committee that the university opposes this part of the Bill as strongly as anyone else. I oppose it and if I get half a chance I shall vote for the amendment we are considering.

It is perfectly understandable that governments should occasionally be concerned about some aspects of education at some level and should wish to have the right and the power to do something about it. I too am disturbed about teacher training, and I want something done about it. But what we are talking about this afternoon is not whether or not that is the case, but, if there is something that ought to be done, how one should go about it and how the Government should influence matters.

This Bill proposes special arrangements outside the normal funding arrangements for universities to deal with the particular case of teacher training. That is the subject that happens to disturb them at the present time. But there are many other subjects which might on some occasion or other give rise to equal concern I can see perfectly good reasons why at some date in the future governments might be concerned about the teaching of doctors, or lawyers. They have in the past been concerned about the teaching of engineers. They might be concerned about economics; or, for all I know, about divinity. Are we to have special arrangements for funding, accountability, accreditation and scrutiny for all of those areas outside the normal funding arrangements? It really makes no sense.

The funding councils for England, Scotland and Wales are supposed to oversee and further the whole of the higher education system in every aspect. If their work is so soon to be fragmented— this is the first step — in this manner, why were they ever set up, and how are they supposed to carry out their responsibilities? It is simply not sensible to try to fund universities in this way. The Government have the power to require the funding councils to give particular attention to whatever field is bothering them. That should be sufficient. I shall vote for the amendment.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I wish to take a slightly different line. There can be very little doubt that if these amendments were carried into this Bill they would be rejected by another place. The conventional exchanges—

Noble Lords

Not easily ! Who says so? Order!

Lord Beloff

Will the noble Lord give evidence for his view that another place is committed to this kind of Bill? I know of no evidence to that effect. So far as I know, such an idea has not been debated.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I was unaware that I was giving evidence. I thought that I was expressing a personal opinion, which— I am grateful to my noble and learned friend— I gather I am entitled to do. I am trying to get to the realities of the situation. What we are really debating is a question of opinion. We are all agreed on the end, but we disagree as to the means to the end. That is a matter of opinion upon which people are entitled with total integrity to disagree. But in the result, as this Bill was introduced into this House, if another place rejects it— as I suggest is all but inevitable if it is amended in this form— what will happen is that traditional exchanges will continue, and continue. As this Bill was introduced in this House, it is not possible to invoke the Parliament Act to seek Royal Assent. In reality therefore we are looking ahead to a situation where in the long run we should have to defer to the elected Chamber. Is it sensible, when one has a difference of opinion as to the means rather than the end, to support this amendment, which would inevitably alter the whole structure of the Bill? As I understand it, there is no question of the Government being prepared to think again, and no question of their being prepared to drop the Bill. That is the reality.

The situation is that, in a sense, there is a sectional dispute on a matter of opinion. I agree with my noble friend Lord Skidelsky in what he said about the nub of the argument. If there had been any fear of any taint upon academic freedom, or any abuse of executive power, I would, as noble Lords know, have voted for the amendment and against the Government. But that simply does not arise.

Looked at objectively, the situation as regards academic freedom is that since September 1993 groups of schools have been able to apply for funds to run their own courses with higher education involvement as they wish; that the agency will have the same measure of independence as the existing funding council; that all teacher training in the past has had to meet the national criteria as set down by the Secretary of State; and that that will continue to be so. Finally, as to the quality of teacher training, it is certainly arguable— and the Government so argue— that it can benefit from an approach concerted between the council for accredita-tion which advised the Secretary of State on individual courses with the Higher Education Funding Council of England and the department that approves the courses. As that is an arguable approach, and as there is a perfectly respectable but genuine difference of opinion, is this a matter upon which the Government should be taken head on? If so, I ask the Committee, to what purpose?

Lord Glenamara

I shall not detain the Committee more than a few minutes, but I want to express the warmest possible support for this excellent amendment. I hope very much indeed that we shall have an opportunity to vote on it. I do not support it for any high-falutin' reasons, but simply because, as someone who has been involved in the education system all his adult life, I believe deeply that this Bill will damage the quality of our teaching service. That is why I support the amendment.

First, let me say that, like many other Members of the Committee, I greatly welcome the Government's proposed changes to Part II. But I am amazed that they have not suggested any changes to Part I, bearing in mind the debate that we had on Second Reading, when not quite all, but almost all speakers in the Chamber opposed it. In spite of the opposition of this House, the Government have not come forward with any proposals at all to amend Part I of the Bill.

There is no justification anywhere in the education system for this part of the Bill. The Government have tried to justify it on grounds of quality, efficiency, choice and accountability. I cannot see any of those being improved by this Bill. Indeed, quality will be depressed by it, and so will efficiency.

At Second Reading, I said that this measure took us back to the pupil-teacher system of the early years of this century — and indeed it does. Pupils leaving school could stay on and be trained as teachers in the school. They became excellent technicians; they knew how to write on the blackboard; they knew how to avoid elliptical questions, and all that sort of thing; they were taught the technique of teaching. They had no depths whatever. Surely in this day and age, with the advances in knowledge and technology that have been made, we need something better than that.

At the end of the war, I was headmaster of a secondary school. At one time I had in my school three of the one-year trainees who had come out of the forces. I know the problems that I had with those teachers. They came straight out of the forces into the schools, having done a few months' training in a college.

I point out again that Clause 11 of the Bill gives schools the power to devise schemes for training teachers. I invite the Committee, as I invited the Chamber at Second Reading, to consider any typical body of governors of a school and understand that the Bill would put in their hands the power to devise schemes for training teachers. That cannot be right. The proposal is based on the old idea of "watching Nellie". I was in the bank the other day and saw there a young boy sitting behind the girl who served me. Obviously, he was straight from school. He was learning the job by sitting there and watching how to count out the money and so on. That is what the noble Baroness wants to do in our schools. She shakes her head but it is exactly that. They will be teachers who are wholly trained in schools — they will sit and watch other teachers teaching. That is what she wants.

As the noble Earl, Lord Russell, pointed out, nothing in the Bill says that the trainees have to be graduates. They may or may not be graduates. I am not a betting man but I should like to bet that if this scheme goes ahead we shall see school-leavers with two or three A-levels from secondary schools being trained in another school.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Elton

Could the noble Lord tell us, if it were put in the statute or if he were reassured that all the people who train to be teachers by that method were to be university graduates, whether that would remove his objection?

Lord Glenamara

Of course it would not. I am saying that they may or may not be graduates. They may be school-leavers who stay on at the same school and train as teachers. That may or may not involve the universities. Why does the noble Baroness shake her head? That is, exactly what the Bill says.

Baroness Blatch

I wonder whether the noble Lord would point to where it says that in the Bill. I should be grateful to him if he would point out to me the provision in the Bill which says that.

Lord Glenamara

I am pointing out something that it does not say. The Bill does not say that they have to be graduates.

Baroness Blatch

I am grateful for that clarification. However, my noble friend asked the noble Lord, that doubt being removed from the noble Lord's mind, whether his objection would be removed as a counter to it.

Lord Glenamara

I say no. I answer that quite clearly by saying no. It is one objection to it— that they may not be graduates. I think that a lot of them will simply be secondary school-leavers. The noble Baroness shakes her head. How does she know? There is nothing in the Bill to stop it. The body of governors can have its own scheme for the training of teachers. There is nothing to say that the trainees have to be graduates. They may be people with a couple of A-levels and nothing more.

The other point to remember is that Clause 11 makes it clear that the school may or may not involve the university. So those trainees may have no contact whatever with a university. I believe that it is a great pity to sever the links between teacher training and the universities.

Why should the change be made? There is no demand for the change anywhere in the educational world, none whatever. It has been opposed by every single body in the educational world from top to bottom. Everybody— not only teachers but vice-chancellors and all levels— the whole educational world opposes it. So why make the cht. nge?

In conclusion, I have intimate knowledge of the teacher training department of a very large university. I believe that teacher training today is excellent. A great deal of it is done in schools. The noble Baroness shakes her head. She was responsible for training many of them until quite recently. But in the department which I know about— in a university that is bigger than hers— the training is excellent. First-rate teachers are being turned out. They spend a lot of their training time in schools and that time, as the noble Baroness knows, has recently been increased. So why mess up the whole system once again?

I oppose the notion. It will damage the training of teachers and depress the teaching quality in our schools. I appeal to the Committee to vote for the amendment.

Baroness Park of Monmouth

I should like to take the opportunity to thank my noble friend the Minister for the time, patience and readiness to listen to very real concerns which characterised her approach to Part II of the Bill, which dealt with student unions. It is not too late for her to follow, I hope, the same course with regard to some aspects of Part I, which we are now debating, and to take away the alternative courses of action now being put forward in greater detail than could be done at Second Reading to see what can be done to meet our concerns. She has gained much respect and gratitude already. I hope that she will do so again.

I respect the Government's general intention to correct past mistakes. I have seen something of the shortcomings of education in schools. I have known graduates who encountered a very rigid ideology in their teacher training courses. Though it is only anecdotal evidence, I know of one undergraduate who came up to read English and had to be given special teaching in English grammar. There was also one gifted graduate, with a first in English, who nearly gave up her teacher training course because she found it very difficult to accept the requirement not to teach but to wait for children to take the entire initiative to learn on their own.

The noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, skilfully captured both those aspects of current pedagogic dogma in his phrases at Second Reading: the misuse of linguistics in order to decry the importance of teaching grammar; and … the belief that didactic teaching is so uncongenial to learning that children should spend all their time trying to reinvent the wheel". Thus, I fully endorse the need to do some radical thinking to correct the undoubted flaws in the present system. However, I cannot believe that it is right to divorce teacher training from the whole system of higher education in the way proposed. I am not happy about an agency which is to be separate from and deprived of all the interdisciplinary advice, research and even practitioner experience which it would have if it remained part of the higher education system as a whole.

It seems to me that the Government are embarking on setting up yet another agency with extensive powers of intervention in a vital area of higher education and it is quite unnecessary. It seems to me equally unnecessary to set up a new funding mechanism when there is already the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Pedagogic education, like medical or legal education, needs to be related to and closely involved with teaching and research in university faculties as well as involving practical work in schools. That is why it would save much bureaucracy and make good sense to have the whole issue of teacher training dealt with, as the noble Lords' amendment suggests, by a new Committee of the HEFCE.

There are certainly faults, many of long standing, in present teacher training practice. I believe that the will exists to make the whole system work better and that people are prepared to identify and correct the undoubted faults. In any case, we face a whole range of new developments and requirements in teaching. However, we do not need to duplicate effort. We need to ensure that the funding and organisation of teacher education are recognised, valued and kept under scrutiny. Rigorous standards should be required as part of the whole complex, interlocking system of higher education and as a valued part of university life— not as a separate entity combining extensive powers of intervention with no responsibility toward or fruitful relationship with the rest of the infrastructure of higher education.

A good teacher is one of the most valuable people in a child's life. We have all had at least one and often many such teachers. It is vital that teacher training should stay in the mainstream and have the best possible chance of producing persons of quality and protecting their academic independence. It seems to me that the amendment offers the best formula for that. I hope very much that the Government will be able to adopt it. I must apologise for the fact that a long-standing engagement will force me to leave the Chamber at 7.30, for which I am very sorry.

Lord Judd

I hope that the Minister will take seriously the observations made by the noble Baroness, Lady Park. She speaks with tremendous authority and experience of education and I always find her interventions worth a guinea a second.

In his penetrating introduction to this group of amendments, the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, was absolutely right to pose the key question.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

Perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene to ask whether he is rising at this stage with any thought in his mind that we are nearing the conclusion of the debate.

Lord Judd

I would not dream of bringing to a conclusion such a tremendously important debate. I hope that all those with insights to share will share them. I am sure that the Minister is listening attentively and is benefiting tremendously from the exchange.

The key question was: who wants the TTA? It is a question which has conspicuously gone unanswered since the Bill first appeared on the horizon. As I have suggested to the Chamber before, it was the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who sagaciously made an important contribution to our discussions on the previous Bill when he said that, above all, in this realm of education it is essential to establish consensus. Would that the present Secretary of State would take a leaf out of the book of his wise predecessor.

I fear that as it stands this part of the Bill remains depressingly unimaginative, demeaning and altogether retrograde. I must therefore make it absolutely clear to the Committee and all those concerned that if the government-proposed, and totally unwanted, TTA as we see it before us is established, the next Labour Government will abolish it. It is an obstruction to the fulfilment of the very objectives it claims to serve.

In the meantime, our efforts in this Committee stage must be to limit the damage in the intervening period. Before I make a few observations in that respect perhaps I may pose three other questions to which so far I have not heard an answer. Why on earth are the Government unpicking their own Higher Education Funding Council for England established barely a year ago? Do they not recognise that that will inevitably still further destabilise the already anxious and uncertain world of education? Secondly, why is England different from Wales and Northern Ireland? They are to be allowed to build for the future on existing structures. Thirdly, why is it different from Scotland? A serious research exercise is responsibly under way in Scotland to see exactly what will make most sense for the future.

I hope that in replying to this part of the deliberations the Minister will endeavour to deal with those questions. However, what preoccupies many of us when we look at the Bill is the significant extension of the Secretary of State's powers which it contains. I identified, as did the scrutiny committee, at least nine more powers delegated to the Secretary of State. In the context of all the upheaval, the propositions, the counter-propositions, the adjustments and the back-tracking that we have seen in recent years, can any of us really regard with equanimity the prospect of still more delegated powers for our Secretary of State? I should have thought that we see the living evidence of the foolishness of such an approach.

Then there is the whole issue of the quango. We know that there is concern from all sides of the Chamber about the proliferation of quangos and the damage that they are doing to the whole quality of our democracy. The Bill, and in particular this clause, envisages still more centralisation. How will the Minister and her department deal adequately with the growing number of school-centred schemes, which is obviously the design of the Administration opposite? The Bill removes healthy checks and balances in the present system. I do not often agree with the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, but he knows all about ideological commitment and speaks about it very honestly. In that kind of setting where it is so important, checks and balances are greatly needed.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

I thank the noble Lord for allowing me to interrupt. But is he suggesting with regard to delegated powers that there is anything that the Secretary of State can do under the new proposals that he cannot already do?

Lord Judd

That is a powerful point, as one would expect from the noble Lord. The Bill underlines, strengthens and reiterates those possibilities and, indeed, in some respects it accentuates them.

Baroness Blatch

I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The noble Lord said at the outset that he counted no fewer than nine new powers to the Secretary of State. It would be enormously helpful if he were to point out what and where they are.

Lord Judd

I was anticipating that request. I can assure the Minister that as the Bill proceeds we shall do exactly that.

The procedure which the Bill spells out also undermines democratic accountability. It opens up yet another situation ripe for crude political patronage. It will be possible for the Secretary of State to pack the new agency with government supporters, as has happened in almost every other sphere of quango activity in the nation. It will introduce duplication and waste, not least in office administrative staff. We shall see duplication beyond what is already there in the Higher Education Funding Council. But what I find quite amazing is that, as we all read with great interest the procedures of the Scott inquiry in which we hear Ministers claiming that they cannot deal with all the detail of government, here is a proposition to put still more detail directly on the desk of the Secretary of State.

The proposal undermines the status and quality of the teaching profession at the very time that we should be rebuilding them. As the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, said, again in his introductory remarks, we should consider other professions. For example, when we look at nursing we see that in recent years in the professional interest of nursing an important move was made towards university education of nurses and the importance of higher education in their preparation for service is stressed.

It is clear to us on these Benches that the close involvement of teacher preparation with higher education is essential. I believe that it was during the Second Reading debate that I shared with noble Lords an experience in an Inner London school I shall never forget. When left alone with some of the youngsters to talk to them directly about their feelings on education, I asked them what they found most important in their teachers. The answer came unequivocally,"Oh sir, somebody who knows and loves their subject". That is a point to which the noble Earl, Lord Russell, referred. We need teachers who have a depth of knowledge in their subject, a love and understanding of the material and on top of that the skills to deploy that effectively. Skills and techniques cannot become a substitute for knowledge.

There are also in the Bill some extraordinary and dangerously simplistic views regarding research. How can there be a concept of research that suggests that we can somehow separate it into methodology and technique and the research into the subject matter itself? The two are obviously inextricably interrelated. Indeed, who can look easily at a proposition which is going to give more direct political authority, through his own appointed quango, to the Secretary of State to direct research when we all know that the quality of research depends upon demonstrable independence from political intervention?

There is a similar disturbing blurring of vital distinctions between funding and the handling of criteria for accreditation, a task essentially, if ever there was one, for a general teaching council. Then implicit in this whole first clause is the Government's determination to see the promotion of school-centered teacher preparation as distinct from the partnership between schools and higher education. I find that a very questionable proposition simply in these terms. At the moment we have a few hundred trainee teacher apprentices in schools consortia in a scheme which is yet to be evaluated. Yet we are building a whole new strategy on that basis before the evaluation has taken place. At the same time we have many thousands of teachers in preparation in higher education institutions which are regularly inspected and accredited.

Schools are about the education of children. They are not about the training of teachers. That is why there is such deep concern among very pressurised teachers, trying to do their best, about taking on this extra burden. They do not know how they will take it on and they very much doubt whether they will do it justice. It is also why there is so much concern among parents. I hope I am not being unfair in saying that the proposition before us is a cheap and nasty one. It is still more evidence of knowing the price of everything and the value of very little. I am concerned at the demoralisation which is there in so much of the teaching profession at the moment because of all the chopping and changing and new ideas; several a day. It has been well demonstrated — I find it quite alarming— in the figures recently revealed which suggest that there has been a 6 per cent. drop this year in the number of graduates applying to undertake courses to prepare as teachers.

This is a vital debate on the clause. I feel that the Minister herself has somehow managed— certainly in my view, and I do not believe I am alone— to convey her sense of concern behind the scenes during the prolonged and painful deliberations about much that is contained in the Bill. I hope that where she has genuine doubts she will feel strengthened by much that has already been said and what may be said during the rest of the evening. I wonder whether, even at this eleventh hour, she might not herself have it in her heart to give some kind of undertaking to the Committee that she will at least take away the ideas and propositions before us this evening, look at them and consider them and not insist on dismissing them, so that before we complete our deliberations on the Bill we shall have time to hear her reflections and to discuss together what we should make of them and how we want to respond in that situation.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

I want to ask the noble Lord a question before he sits down. I was interested in what he said in the last part of his speech. What concerns me is that if the Committee adopts the amendment, we shall have a different Bill and a completely different proposition. We shall then not be able to look in detail at the things that are worrying us about the proposals in Clause 1 and, if possible, amend them. We shall not be able to do that. It is therefore crucial that we do not pass the amendment and that we look very carefully at the various points the noble Lord has made. I am not making a tricky political point. It is a House of Lords point. What does the noble Lord think about that?

Lord Judd

That is a very important point. What will be terribly important, as I am sure the Minister will understand, is what she will have to share with us and the way she shares it with us in her response to the debate. We must weigh that up. I have quoted the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, about the indispensability of consensus in building sound education systems for the future. It is something to which we on these Benches are deeply committed. It is an exercise through which we are going ourselves in preparing our own policies for the future. In that sense therefore there is nothing we would welcome more than a move towards a genuine consensus. However, if that is to happen, we shall have to have some kind of indication— I do not expect the Minister to give us all the answers tonight— that she is taking the debate seriously, which I am sure she is, and will take the matter away and think about it.

Baroness O'Cathain

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, asked the question: who wants the change? Several noble Lords have said that they have concerns. I too have concerns. But my concerns are solely from the point of view of employing the products of the school system. Of course, I acknowledge the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, that education is not manpower planning, but the reality is that one of the reasons for the high level of unemployment in this country is that the product of the education system is not capable of meeting the needs of industry and the commercial community. Therefore, the answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Dainton— who wants the change?— is that certain employers do.

The current standards of children coming through the education system often— very often— do not match up to the needs of industry and commerce. We need disciplined young people. We need young people who know how to concentrate on work. We need young people who can read; young people who can write; and, particularly, young people who can aim for accuracy in mathematics. We do not have the luxury of employing project-based young people who freewheel their way through a system. We are in a competitive world where we need to have the best educated workforce. We do not have it now. In nearly 30 years of working in this country in industry and commerce I can say that standards have slipped. I can assure the Committee that they have slipped. I am aware that I shall bring down the wrath of a lot of people in the Committee by making that statement. But we have had the views of the academic sector, the views of the teaching profession, and I felt I ought to make just a few comments from another side.

The teacher training agency, with the appointment of persons who should influence future courses with their, experience of, and to have shown capacity in, industrial, commercial or financial matters", will help these young people to take from their education something to make them worthy and indeed valued in the workforce. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, says— I paraphrase, I hope correctly— that there must be changes in the way teachers are educated, but not now; let us run with what we have and see how it works out. I submit that we do not have much time. I have been convinced that this Part I will actually benefit the group which interests me most; namely, the young people coming into the workforce.

Baroness Cox

I should like to support what the noble Baroness has just said and to respond to a point made earlier by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock. She suggested that there was a hidden agenda. I see no hidden agenda in these proposals. I strongly support the teacher training agency not as a hidden agenda but because it represents a positive approach to teacher education. It establishes a specialist body, uniting functions and responsibilities for funding and accreditation, and supporting good practice in teacher training. There is an enormous and urgent necessity for proposals of this kind. If there were not problems the Bill would not be necessary. I should like to follow the noble Baroness in responding to one of the requests made earlier on for some research-based evidence of why there are problems which need this very urgent kind of response. I shall not recite very many but I would just like to give a few specific examples.

There is a lot of evidence of serious underachievement in many schools; for example, declining reading ability in many primary schools seriously stunts young children's ability to learn, as evidenced by Martin Turner. There is the problem of reading difficulties among many undergraduates, documented by Bernard Lamb. This hampers academic performance and sometimes necessitates remedial education even for undergraduates. Illiteracy also affects the employability of school-leavers. Many employers find that they cannot employ school-leavers because they cannot even read safety notices. There is under-attainment in mathematics which puts British pupils at a disadvantage in competition with young people from other countries. Professor Prais found that our 16 year-olds are two years behind their West German counterparts. That is totally unacceptable.

I must emphasise that of course there are many good schools which are undertaking good teaching, but there is also research which shows enormous variations between schools, even in a similar catchment area. For example, in formal examination results some schools may achieve three to four times as many exam passes as schools in similar areas, or even adjacent schools. Such variations reflect the quality of teaching, which in turn reflects the quality of teacher education.

Perhaps I may refer to the HMI report published on 7th December 1993. That report found that in urban schools 40 per cent. of lessons were unsatisfactory and in some schools two-thirds of lessons were poor or unsatisfactory. Far too many teachers had low expectations of their children and, overall, nearly 30 per cent. of lessons in primary schools were unsatisfactory.

This is an urgent situation. There is a need for much greater evidence of proof from the education establishment and from higher education, that they have been ready to address these situations, which have been going on for some time. In the worst schools, the inspectors criticised in their report the inadequate knowledge the teachers of older primary children had of their own subject areas, the unacceptably low standard of work and the fact that many children were engaged in mundane tasks such as copying and colouring. They also criticised poor punctuality, persistent bad behaviour of pupils, unfinished homework and the slow pace of lessons.

These reports are desperately serious. They show that we are betraying a large number of young people in our schools. I believe that it is this which merits the special attention and the provisions of this Bill for teacher training. Those provisions do not devalue teacher training and they do not undermine the status of teachers. They respect the vital contribution of teachers and the wellbeing of our schools and our children, and they seek to enhance that.

I believe that many of the reservations expressed by noble Lords promoting the amendments before us, which would prevent the establishment of the teacher training agency, are in essence groundless. Research would not be jeopardised— why should it be? Indeed, rigorous policy-related research could be promoted and any institution or researcher could apply for funding from any existing source, including the HEFC as it stands. So far as membership of that body is concerned, as I understand there is no difference in principle between the membership proposed for the TTA and the HEFC. Like the HEFC, the TTA would consist of appointed members, chosen according to specified, relevant criteria. In its transparency of operation, the TTA would be at least as open, if not more open, to public scrutiny and accountability as a body formed within the HEFC.

I conclude by saying that I believe that the establishment of this specialist body, combining crucial responsibilities for funding and accreditation, would enable current good practice to be promoted and encouraged and the remaining problems, which are all too evident and are betraying many of our children, to be addressed more urgently and more effectively. Such a body is not a threat to academic freedom or to independent research. I believe it is essential for the future wellbeing of all our children. I therefore hope that the Committee will oppose the amendments before us and support the establishment of a teacher training agency.

6 p.m.

Lord Annan

I have two questions for the noble Baroness. Can she say whether the Government are really dissatisfied with the way in which universities have allowed their institutes of education to develop and with their supervision of the whole of teacher training? That is the first question I wish to put to the noble Baroness. Two noble Baronesses have been making very important points with which many people would agree.

I myself have had experience of this matter. When I became Provost of University College I found that no one there had ever been taught how to teach. I was not foolish enough to Ask horny-handed professors who had been teaching for years to submit to so appalling an intrusion, but I suggested that newly appointed university teachers should go to the institute of education and be put on a course precisely to meet that need. That was done and after a few years I thought it was right to monitor the result. All those who had attended the course said that it was a perfectly appalling experience. They were never taught how to give a lecture, how to hold a seminar or how to give a tutorial. That is very characteristic. There was no question of talk and chalk. There was much theory, but no talk and chalk or practical experience of any kind.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, made an analogy between medical education, in which we start with the pre-clinical schools in the universities and then move to the medical schools, but in many modern medical schools today that distinction has been much blurred. It has been found that simply to separate the pre-clinical rigidly from the clinical teaching does not produce the best kind of doctor. However, here I must again pay tribute to the institutes of education which I have just criticised. A famous course was put on during the 1970s by Mrs. J. Miller. It was much needed. It was called "The Survival Kit Course". That was for anyone who was going to teach in schools in some of the toughest and roughest areas in London. I would like a frank answer to the question as to whether that is why the Government have made this change.

The second question I want to ask is this: it was maintained by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, that there was really no difference in present practice and that everybody would in fact have had a degree either from a university or from what used to be called a teacher training college. It would only be as a postgraduate experience that students went into the schools. Is that correct? Even if it were— I see that the noble Baroness is nodding her head— is that quite adequate?

The noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, made a most important point. One really cannot expect schools which are trying to teach children also to take on yet another burden— and, my God, the burdens which have been put on schools in the past three or four years are enormous ! Yet another burden is now being put on them in asking them to try to teach the prospective teachers. I believe that they should certainly have some theoretical training, provided that it is mixed in with the practical courses as well, as I suggested a moment ago.

Do we really need this additional quango? In a way I despair. This Government began in 1980 with a very noble and high-minded attempt to cut back the enormous growth of bureaucracy. I remember when Mr. Heseltine came into the Department of the Environment and a swathe of civil servants were dispensed with. I well remember the charming man who used to come to see me at the National Gallery to find out whether everything was going well in the museums and galleries. Suddenly, he did not appear any more. I cannot say that the gallery necessarily suffered a tremendous loss in efficiency as a result of that.

Why then create yet another quango? I ask myself: are you, as a Government, still interested in reducing unnecessary bureaucracy? I know that the noble Baroness answered me on the questions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Higher Education Quality Council and said that great efforts were now going to be made to cut down the extent of bureaucracy, and of course I take her word for that. But do we need this extra body? I hope that she will be able to answer these two questions, because on them and on her answer my vote will depend.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

I was peculiarly relieved when the noble Lord, Lord Judd— having got to his feet rather early, I thought— made it clear that he had not got it in his mind that the debate would necessarily reach an early conclusion. I shall be brief in intruding into a debate in which almost all of the participants have been distinguished academics. I venture in with some diffidence.

There are three questions— some have been asked before— about which I am particularly concerned to hear answers from my noble friend the Minister. The first is the question with which the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, opened his remarks: who wants this change? In particular, are the teachers (without whom, good or bad, no change will work) persuaded that it has merits?

Secondly, why butcher the Higher Education Funding Council for England? It has not been long in this world. Has its performance given grounds for despair? What hope, what real chance, is there of the teacher training agency which is now to be set up doing better? Perhaps I may observe gently to my noble friend that amenability to the requirements of a Secretary of State— and Secretaries of State have successors from time to time— is not in everyone's view the highest of human virtues.

My third question echoes one which has already been asked. Is the separation of teachers from universities desirable? Is it the aim and intention of the Bill that that separation should take place? I am relieved to see my noble friend shake her head so clearly and, if I may say so, so articulately. I was going to say that if that was the aim, it would be incomprehensible. Then, I am bound to say, it seems to me that the separation is likely to take place and must therefore be regarded as an accident. It is a particular accident that I would wish to see avoided.

I end my few remarks with one brief observation. I have always cherished and felt myself fortunate to have just a nodding acquaintance with one or two of those eminent people who occupy the post of vice-chancellor of one of the universities. I could say the same of those who have been, or are, heads of colleges. My observations of those eminent people have led me to believe that they are not always totally united in their views on education and that from time to time they differ strongly among themselves. What I am leading up to is wondering how I can express my astonishment at the way in which the Government have united those eminent people in opposition to their proposals. That cannot be just luck, or ill-luck, because this is not the first time that the Government have done it. I am wondering whether the Government have learnt any lessons from succeeding in uniting those eminent persons. Perhaps they will recall that on the last occasion when it happened, they did not win. The vice-chancellors, united, did.

6.15 p.m.

Earl Russell

I hope that the Committee will forgive me for responding briefly to the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain. Those points are at the heart of the debate. Perhaps I may assure the noble Baroness that I am not in the least cross at her for saying what she did. My observation of what has happened to standards of literacy is very close to hers. I deplore it as she does.

The question is the cause of the problem and the remedy. I began to think hard about this when I went over to the United States with two school-age children. We in this country think we have a British problem. We think it is something that is our fault. They think they have an American problem. They think it is something that is their fault. In the United States, where they have a federal constitution in the true and best sense of that word, the government do much less to direct teachers. I found in the 70s that, left to themselves, American teachers had moved much further and faster away from progressive education than any British teachers. That is something from which the Government might learn a lesson.

A problem that is happening across the Atlantic cannot be the result only of national policy in one country. Looking at the behaviour of my children when they are left to themselves, I think that the explanation is technological. Rather over 400 years ago we had a change in our culture— a massive shift from the visual to the verbal. Many people said that that was the result of people spreading the poison of heresy in their preaching or, as others preferred to put it, lighting a candle which will never be put out. I think that we are living in a time when that change is going into reverse. We are shifting away from the verbal in our culture and back to the visual. Once again, we are trying to blame all sorts of people for the change. Once again, the moving force is technological and we will not change that by bashing British teachers.

Baroness Young

Like many noble Lords, I have been very exercised in my mind about Part I of the Bill. I have listened with great interest to the debate this afternoon and read with care the extensive briefing that I was sent by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and the accompanying memoranda of a number of vice-chancellors. Having not only read all the briefing but listened to the debate I have come to the conclusion that the Government are right on this matter and I very much hope that the amendment will not be carried this evening.

I think that we are all agreed on the first point that the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, made and that we all want to see an improvement in teacher training and the raising of standards. It is certainly not my wish to criticise teachers generally. A great many are doing very good work under very difficult circumstances and they need all the support we can give them. But sadly— and this is where I detect a serious point for society— there is a real dichotomy between the academics who have spoken this afternoon and the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, who speaks as an employer. I do not think that there is anything to be gained by conducting a great argument about this. However, the noble Baroness made the important point that if we do riot have properly qualified teachers providing a good education we are simply allowing our young people to grow up to be unemployed. That is a very serious matter. It is not a party point. I should have thought that we would all agree on it. Whether we like it or not, that is what comes out of report after report about what employers require.

It seems to me that the question ultimately before us is whether we should continue with what I broadly claim is the same as before— that is, that teacher training will continue in the way that it has for some considerable time. One must question that proposition, whatever the unanimity of view of all those involved. After all, the great efforts that have been made with the national curriculum, testing and assessment have been criticised throughout by everybody in the teaching profession. It is only now that people are beginning to recognise the value of many of close things. They may not have been absolutely right the first time round but at least we are getting to a stage where there is a large measure of agreement.

There are details of the Bill I would like to see amended and I hope that my noble friend the Minister will examine them. I believe that she will. However, we must look at the new proposals for what they will achieve. There have been a great many misunderstandings. As I understand it, the Bill, if anything, reduces the powers of the Secretary of State to affect the future pattern of teacher training. The Secretary of State retains his power to set criteria for training courses and to define the competence that new teachers must possess. On the other hand, he is giving up the power to fund school-centered courses and to approve individual teacher training courses. He is taking no new powers over higher education institutions and is re-enacting the safeguards for academic freedom. The argument as to whether he is acquiring new powers is debatable.

I hesitate to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, with whom I nearly always find myself in complete agreement. However, I do not believe that the analogy with medical education stands up. The noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, made that point too. By and large, people are satisfied with doctors. Although the question of what one does with an incompetent doctor once trained is real, that is a slightly different issue. After all, one can complain as a patient, provided that one survives, or as a member of the family. The noble Lord, Lord Flowers, spoke about all kinds of other issues such as historians, divinity and so forth. I have no doubt that the Church would have something to say if it felt that people were riot properly qualified.

The truth of the matter is that as regards education we are talking about children and their lives. They are not in a position to make a complaint; they must take what comes to them. Therefore, a different situation exists. I believe that the Government's proposals are right. I shall support them this evening. I shall look for some amendments, although I will not go into that matter now because the hour is too late. The Government are broadly right and they deserve our support.

Lord Desai

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, justified the Bill by saying that standards of education are slipping. I believe that they are, which means that they were once higher and have fallen. Why does the noble Baroness not ask herself who has been in power for the last 15 years while our education standards have been slipping?

Why is it, for example, that the United States has a similar problem? Both societies have something in common. We have been under-investing in education for a long time. Our schools are badly in need of repair and our teachers have not received good pay. The Government believe in free markets and incomes, and so forth, and they must ask whether, if we have bad teachers, we are paying teachers enough to attract good people. We must ask whether the education system has been harried, worried and made insecure by such an annual rate of legislation, chopping and changing, and changing again. If all those things occur standards will slip. Aspects other than teacher training may be at fault and therefore there is no argument to say that because standards are slipping we must change teacher training.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

I am grateful for the good debate that we have had today. It has ranged widely on issues such as the nature of the training of teachers and what goes on in schools. At this stage in the debate it would be helpful to look at what the amendment will do and at what the Government are proposing in Clause I, rather than allowing ourselves to vote on issues which have nothing to do with what is being proposed.

We have heard real anxieties about taking teacher training out of higher education. I share that anxiety. But that is not what the Government are proposing. The crucial part of the education of any teacher is education in the subject he will teach. There is nothing in the Bill which suggests that that will come out of the university system. There is nothing in the Bill which suggests that teaching should not continue to be an all-graduate profession. Many Members of the Committee believe that that is right. There is no proposal to set up a teacher training agency, wholly divorced from higher education, which threatens the position of teacher training and the education of people who will teach in our schools. The teacher training agency is not a new quango; it is not one more addition to the range of quangos.

I was the chief inspector for teacher training within Her Majesty's inspectorate at the time when CATE was set up. I remember the happy moment when we decided that the acronym would fit a female name; we decided that sexism in quango names was good. As the Secretary of State's professional adviser, I was also involved in the writing of the criteria for teacher training courses, which it has been CATE's responsibility to operate. That is a crucial way in which we bear on the quality of the training of teachers through the criteria which the Secretary of State lays down for what goes on in teacher training. It does not determine the academic content of individual parts of the course but the overall totality of knowledge and skills which teachers should have at the end of their training period.

It is extraordinary that the amendment suggests that the funding council for all of higher education— responsible for the funding of half a million students across the whole gamut of engineering, medicine, science, history, the humanities, the social sciences and so forth— should also have within it the extraordinary accretion of a professional body operating the criteria for the training of one particular group. No one has raised any question about what is glaringly wrong with the amendment. It would be extraordinary for a funding council, which deals with all the complexities of formula funding and unit funding, to have within it a body which accredits a small number of the millions of courses

Lord Dainton

I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. I expressly excluded accreditation from the business of the amendment that I proposed. Perhaps the noble Baroness will accept that.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

In that case, where does the noble Lord believe that accreditation will take place? Are we to have a separation of the accreditation of courses and their content from the funding?

Lord Dainton

As I said in my speech, it is done by Ofsted and will continue to be done by Ofsted.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

Ofsted does not accredit courses. The accreditation of courses has been done by CATE. The power of the Government's proposal in Clause 1, which is a genuine and real way to bear upon the quality of the training of teachers for children in our schools— an aim to which all Members are committed— is that it brings together the work of accreditation of courses. Until recently that work was done by CATE, acting on HMI advice— I know very well about that— on the advice of Ofsted, to bring that together with the funding competence. For the first time we shall be giving a body which does the job real teeth in that where there is excellence and high quality in the training of teachers the money can flow but where the system is unsuccessful and falls below standards the funding can be cut off.

That is an important new thrust which, in a way that nothing else could, will bring together a powerful tool for raising the quality of teacher training. It is needed. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, for stating how many improvements have taken place during the past 10 years. That is true. The teacher training system has begun to respond very well to the criteria and the work of CATE. But it is still not good enough. Only last year HMI stated in its report The New Teacher in School that one in four of the teachers coming out of the new system was unable to cope with the demands of the job in the classroom. Therefore, one in four of the teachers teaching in every class and one in four of the experiences of the children in those classes was substandard and below par. Of course there have been improvements, but I accept that further work needs to be done.

I believe genuinely that the setting up of a high-powered separate agency which would bring together quite properly the funding work that is currently being done together with the valued judgments and the accreditation of courses is the best tool that we have. I hope that everyone who cares about the quality of teaching in our schools will vote with the Government this evening and will not vote in favour of this new and quite bizarre proposal which allows a funding council to divert itself from its proper purposes towards continuing to look at a very tiny minority of the courses within its control.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch

I wonder whether I could add my voice, as someone who works in commerce and industry, to what the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, said.

I also, like most of us who work in those areas, have noticed a decided decline in the quality of the product of our state system of education, and I believe that it must be the responsibility of the establishment which has run that system for so long to look somewhat more closely within itself.

The movers of this amendment seem to believe that the proposed agency is not necessary and that those of its intended duties which they find acceptable could be better discharged by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. A large part of their argument seems to me to run something like this: teacher education is largely part of higher education, so why not trust the HEFC to sort it out, if, indeed, it has any remaining problems, about which some of us do not seem quite so sure?

With the very greatest respect, I have to disagree with them. I go further and suggest that they may not have been particularly close to our teacher education courses over the past 25 years and so they may not perhaps fully appreciate how irrelevant and dangerous our teacher education courses have, I believe, become and how different and separate they are from much of the rest of higher education.

I suggest that not so much by way of criticising the movers of this amendment and some of their supporters, who are all highly respected figures in the world of true academe, as by way of exonerating them from any blame which might attach to them if they had known what was going on but felt that it was not their responsibility to do anything about it, or, worse, turned a blind eye to it, which I feel sure was not the case.

I, on the other hand, have had an unusual insight into what our teacher educators and their courses have been up to, but, as the lone representative of commerce and industry on the Council for National Academic Awards and its teacher education sub-committee for 10 years, until last year, I was always in a minority, usually of one, when I challenged the so-called best practice of the teacher education establishments.

I would remind your Lordships, as I mentioned on Second Reading, that the CNAA validated rather more than half the whole teacher education system until its demise a year ago. What is it then which, in my view, makes teacher education so different that it should not be absorbed by the HEFCE and the rest of higher education in the way that these amendments appear to envisage?

Before answering that question, I should perhaps mention that I am well aware of the trap which the movers and supporters of the amendment may think that I am setting for myself. Surely, they might argue, the worse teacher education is, and the more separate it is, the more our amendment is appropriate; the more teacher education should be encouraged towards the rigorous bosom of the rest of higher education. I admit that this may sound a beguiling argument but it fails to acknowledge what I see as the reality of the situation, two aspects of which I feel I should submit to the Committee.

My first point is not one which will be well received by those Members of the Committee who work in or are close to higher education in this country, but I have made it before and I shall doubtless feel obliged to make it again. It is that, influenced by my years on the CNAA, I personally do not have a very high opinion of the quality of higher education delivered by many of our social science and humanities departments. I do not believe that for the: cost involved enough value is added to what students learnt at A-level in these areas, although, of course, there are many sparkling exceptions with which some Members of the Committee present are or have been closely associated. Since teacher training is close in character to these faculties, and perhaps particularly to social science, or it is as it has been delivered in recent years, I personally would simply not trust higher education or the HEFC to grasp the teacher training nettle with sufficient firmness.

My second point is that the teacher educators, or teacher trainers, as we are now rightly being encouraged to call them, do not really want to be part of the rest of HE and the rest of HE does not really want to be associated with the teacher education departments in colleges either. Any process of assimilation will be long and difficult. I speak from years of experience of trying, and failing, to persuade serious academics from other faculties to sit on the CNAA teacher education sub-committee and thus help influence our courses to better purpose. The subject content and the whole ethos of teacher education was just too difficult, different and uncomfortable for real academics to tolerate for more than about two meetings. Resistance to such influence and advice by the teacher educators was also fierce and I am sure it will continue to be so in future.

So I for one am convinced that teacher training in this country now requires very special attention, which I fear will not be forthcoming from the rest of higher education or the HEFCE. I believe that that attention can be given only by a new body such as that proposed in the teacher training agency, which will be able to give all its energies to the purposes set out in the Bill. If it succeeds, it will, in my view, have cured the greatest ill which lies at the root of our education system.

Lord Dixon-Smith

I shall not detain the Committee for more than a few moments. I have listened with great interest to the debate. I have a peripheral interest. I remember opening a new building in the 1960s and having a hand in the appointment of its first director. That building was a ghastly piece of architecture but it was a teacher training college. It is now a flourishing department in what is a very new university.

I have tried to strip the heart out of the debate. If I listened to those who oppose the Government's proposals, it may be supposed that that teacher training department would be feeling rather threatened and disillusioned. It may perhaps be thinking that it does not have much future. That simply is not so. The work that the department does has increasingly been in partnership with schools. It is increasingly oriented that way and the courses involve more and more classroom time. Nothing in this Bill leads us to suppose that that will change.

What is the heart of the discussion which has generated so much thunder in this Chamber? To me, it comes down to some very small points. First, in future is teacher training to be controlled by a committee of a quango or a quango? That is quite a small question when it is discussed as bluntly as that.

One then asks the second question as to whether it is a matter of clarity or administrative convenience. When I think about that, I come down quite clearly in favour of clarity because administrative convenience can be catered for by other means.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, made a very strong plea for consensus in this matter. I have always been a great democrat and I believe in democracy for just so long as everybody agrees with me. I put the noble Lord's plea in that category and I hope that I never have to remind him of it, because there may be occasions when he will regret those words.

Lord Haskel

I should just like to clarify the point about the needs of employers. I have been an employer in industry for over 30 years. Quite simply, it is the needs of industry that have changed, not so much the quality of education. I have not noticed the difference in the quality of people coming into industry now and 20 years ago. However, what is different is the demands on them. Twenty years ago there were jobs to sweep up around machines. For that, you did not need to be able to read and write. But today, such jobs do not exist. Similarly,20 years ago there were supervisors and foremen to look after you. Today, those people do not exist; you have to do that work yourself. The demands are much higher.

I believe that we can well leave it to the TECs and to the arrangements that schools are making with industry to inform the schools what it is that industry requires. However, I am not so sure that it is as relevant as other Members of the Committee have implied in the debate.

Lord Peston

Perhaps I may say a few further words from this side of the Committee. It has been some time since I was involved in education matters in the Chamber. I had forgotten how much I miss the kind of speeches that I have heard today. In particular, I had forgotten how much I miss hearing a speech from the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. Indeed, it has been just too long since I heard him speak on such matters. I am sure that the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not respond rather acerbically to him today as I have in the past.

There is one question that I must ask the Minister. I appreciate the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, in that the best way to deal with such matters is to ask questions. Essentially, what the noble Baronesses, Lady 'Cathain, Lady Cox, and the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, said is that teachers have failed their pupils and that therefore they have failed the nation, thus causing a crises about which something must be done. Does the Minister agree with her noble friends that that is the present situation— that teachers have failed their pupils and a crisis has resulted? If she does, will she tell me why, in the past, in response to my questions about teachers she and her predecessors have always gone out of their way to say what a tremendously good job they


There is a logical problem here: either they are doing a tremendously good job, in which case the Minister will reject what her noble friend said; or they are not, in which case she will reject what she and her colleagues have said in the past. I should like to know the answer to that question. There is no way of getting into the matter unless we can work on the basis of what the state of affairs is supposed to be. I have to say that I do not believe that teachers have failed their pupils and the nation. Despite the rather selective quotations from the reports of inspectors and of Ofsted, those reports overwhelmingly say that teachers are actually doing a good job. Indeed, the Government confirm that to be the case when they constantly parade before us pupils' achievements in GCSEs, A-levels, and so on.

The Government must tell us what they think has been going on over the past 15 years. Which side are they on? I know which side I am on. I am on the side which says that teachers are doing a good job. However, I believe that they could do a better job. That is quite a different logical position. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, wishes to intervene. I give way.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Northbourne

I am much obliged. In his recent Ofsted report, Professor Sutherland said: A stubbornly persistent minority of poor work remains: 15% of the teaching of the post-I6 year olds and 30% of that received by pupils in Key Stage 2 is less than satisfactory, and a small proportion is downright poor". Is the noble Lord aware of that?

Lord Peston

That is exactly my point. I am delighted that the noble Lord has produced that quotation rather than leaving it to me to do so. There is no doubting the fact that there is a problem which needs a solution. However, it is not a problem of the sort about which some Members of the Committee have talked; namely, that the teaching profession has failed the nation. The problem is that some teachers need to do better.

The latter leads to the obvious point which also relates to the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry. As was pointed out to her by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, the noble Baroness did admit that there had been considerable improvements. When I observe considerable improvements, I say that we should reinforce what is producing such improvements. We must not tear down the structure and say that the way to deal with it is to start all over again. That is completely irrational.

I move on now to the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, in response to my noble friend Lord Glenamara. I am sorry that I seem constantly to be wearing a logical hat. However, as regards remarks such as,"This is not in the Bill", I must point out that almost the whole of human knowledge is not in the Bill. Therefore, such a statement carries no weight. The question is: what is in the Bill?

The Minister can deal with the matter very easily. My noble friend said that he was concerned about whether the teaching profession will stay as an all-graduate profession. The noble Baroness said that she was completely confident that it would. We can deal with that with the greatest of ease. In her reply, the Minister can simply pledge that she will write into the Bill a clause which says that the teaching profession will remain a total graduate profession. That would deal with my noble friend's point. Of course, there are other questions but that one can be dealt with very easily. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, will press the point when we come to deal with the matter.

I should also like the Minister to reply to the other question raised by my noble friend Lord Desai—

Baroness Blatch

I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. So far, the noble Lord has repeated questions that have already been put by other Members of the Committee. Moreover, I believe that he is about to repeat a question put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Desai. We have been speaking on the amendments for two hours and 32 minutes. I have yet to sum up the debate. There are something like three pages of amendments to get through during the course of the evening. I wonder whether it will be possible for me to conclude the debate now.

Lord Peston

I regard the Minister's intervention as really quite insulting. I have not spoken for two hours and 32 minutes. So far as I know, I have spoken for about three or four minutes. As a spokesman for this side of the Committee it is not unreasonable for me to underline and clarify some of the points that have been made. However, the noble Baroness will be delighted to hear that I shall sit here for as long as she cares to speak. I have done so in the past, but I have never stood up to ask her to please shut up or not speak. I would like her not to say that to me either now or ever again.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

Get on with it!

Lord Peston

No. I do not need that kind of intervention from Members of the Committee on that side of the Chamber. We have sat here for a considerable period of time. I believe that Members of the Committee on this side are entitled to say a few words.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

That is two speeches that you have had.

Lord Peston

No, I have not had one yet.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone

Well, you have had one and a half!

Lord Peston

The embarrassment for me is that I was actually coming to my final point which would have been dealt with a good deal more quickly if Members of the Committee on the opposite side had been able to sit quietly and listen for a change.

I should like the Minister to answer my final question. I should like to stress the fact that I would appreciate receiving some answers. Is the Minister saying that standards have fallen? That is the central question. My own view is that there is no evidence to show that standards have fallen. The question before us is: are standards high enough? Further, and related to that, is the question of what will raise standards. I am convinced that the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, is the way to raise standards. However, as someone who is always open minded I am totally ready to listen to the Minister as she explains to me how her method will rake standards rather than the one proposed.

Baroness Blatch

If the noble Lord took offence at my intervention, I apologise unreservedly. However, I was referring to the degree of repetition at this late hour. Members of the Committee are united about the importance of high quality teacher education and professional training. Indeed, perhaps I may use the words of my right honourable friend which appeared in the opening paragraph of the consultative book which was sent out on the reforms of teacher training. He said: In education the role of the teacher is central. For every child, high standards of achievement depend on the skill and dedication of individual teachers. It is therefore essential to ensure a continuing supply of highly qualified entrants to the profession". It is clear from what I have heard from today's debate that there are concerns about the Bill and much misunderstanding of its provisions.

I believe that it is common ground that there is a set of important jobs to be done in respect of teacher education— encouraging good applicants, making sure the courses that they take meet the necessary standards, distributing student numbers between institutions, and funding the tuition provided. All those tasks need to be carried out with one aim in view: ensuring a continuing supply of enough high quality and well-trained entrants to the teaching profession across the full range of subjects.

I hope it is also common ground that teacher training has some key characteristics which distinguish it from the generality of higher education provision. It is a topic for which my right honourable friend has some general statutory responsibility under the 1944 Act. It is an area of provision where he has for some time now had direct control over the content of courses in the interests of consistency and high standards. It is now the only area of higher education which is inspected by Her Majesty's inspectors, working within Ofsted. It is an area where responsibility is taken not only by higher education institutions but also by schools.

In considering how most effectively to carry out the tasks we all agree are necessary for good teaching, we need to find an answer which fits the special circumstances of teacher education— not simply to look for a model which works in another area. It was a careful consideration of these issues which led us to conclude that those tasks would be best served by a free-standing agency, wholly dedicated to the quality and supply of teacher training.

The linkages between the functions I have mentioned are clear. They focus on two core elements— numbers and quality— which must themselves be linked. Teacher supply depends on attracting enough students and funding enough places. Teacher quality depends on all courses meeting essential standards. Both numbers and quality also depend on the promotion and encouragement of teaching as a career. Action in pursuit of these objectives is currently shared among the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Education, all with separate access to Ofsted advice, and the Teaching as a Career Unit. The teacher training agency will bring all of these together and be able to use Ofsted advice consistently across all its functions.

I believe that there is a strong practical case for bringing these vital functions together. We sought views on the question of accreditation in our consultation document last summer and there was strong support for our aim of ensuring high quality with the minimum of bureaucracy. Institutional accreditation will allow us to do that. Having it carried out by the agency will avoid the current overlap of roles between the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which has its own quality assessment duty, and the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education which advises the Secretary of State on course quality with a view to course approval. CATE advised us that institutional accreditation, carried out by the agency, was in its view the best way ahead.

Giving authoritative and up-to-date information and advice about teaching as a career will be very much easier for a body like the TTA, at the heart of funding and accreditation decisions, than for a semi-detached body such as the Teaching as a Career Unit.

The agency has been attacked as an additional bureaucracy. Many Members of the Committee today have asked, who needs another quango? But we are in the business of rationalisation, as has been pointed out by my noble friend Lady Perry. The teacher training agency as proposed in the Bill will replace the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teaching as a Career Unit. It will reduce the functions in the Department for Education and take over that part of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The agency is also seen by some as an attack on higher education. Higher education is not in any way threatened by these proposals. It has a changing role, in partnership with schools. But it is not under threat. All degrees, including Bachelor of Education degrees, will be under the control of higher education. Postgraduate courses will also be provided in higher education and some postgraduate training will be school-centred, as it is at the moment.

However, I am happy to clarify what I know to be a concern about wholly school-centred training. It is and will continue to be offered to students who are already graduates. I see my noble friend Lady Perry and indeed the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford have tabled amendments— Nos.50 and 63— designed to limit schools to offering only postgraduate courses. When we reach those amendments, I shall be more than delighted to include an assurance on the face of the Bill, and therefore I shall recommend that the Committee accepts my noble friend's Amendment No.63.

There is also another confusion about wholly school based teacher training courses. I have made the point that such courses will apply only to postgraduates. Only schools or consortia of schools which apply voluntarily and which by assessment are considered suitable to the task, and are subject to inspection by Ofsted, will be able to provide these courses. These early schemes will indeed be evaluated and there will be positively no imposition on any school or schools to provide wholly school based initial teacher training. The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, asked why, if this can be done in Wales, it cannot be done in England. However, the scale is vastly different. In Wales one is talking about 2,500 students, whereas in England one is talking about 20 times that number of students, many of whom are in specialist teacher training colleges.

Two important omissions have been made in the amendment that we are considering. The promotional activities of the Teaching as a Career Unit are not referred to and, as has already been said, accreditation is not dealt with. I believe these to be important activities and I believe it makes sense that they should come under one umbrella.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, said he would prefer the device of a separate specialist committee. My noble friend Lady Perry has dealt with that point, but the amendments before the Committee tonight do not require a separate specialist committee. The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, also referred to research projects not competing for funds. I believe he completely misunderstood the point that I made on Second Reading in relation to research funds. I expect that, as the Higher Education Funding Council does at the moment, the teacher training agency would allocate funds on a formula basis to departments and not to specific projects. I well understand that there is other competition for project funds from other sources and of course there is nothing in this Bill to prevent that from continuing.

The noble Lord, Lord Dainton, also queried the role of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State in the teacher training agency. All the points which the noble Lord found so objectionable such as the constitution of the TTA, appointments made by the Secretary of State, his view on appropriate experience of members and the Secretary of State's powers to send assessors to meetings apply in exactly the same way to the Higher Education Funding Council.

I thank the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and all other Members of the Committee who have made generous comments about Part II of the Bill. However, the noble Earl was concerned about teaching methods. We do not, nor have we ever, advocated interfering with teaching methods. There is no measure in this Bill, nor in any legislation anywhere, which seeks to impose teaching methods on schools. However, what is important is that the effectiveness or otherwise of teaching methods in our schools should be subject to a proper judgment by external inspection. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, asked whether the agency will have the powers and authority to accredit institutions. The agency will indeed have the power to accredit institutions, working within the criteria that will be set by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. The noble Earl also mentioned the Higher Education Funding Council representing the diversity of higher education. The HEFC certainly represents the wide sweep of higher education but it certainly does not represent teachers and schools. While a sub-committee might do so, this amendment does not give us a guarantee that this committee will be dedicated to the quality of teachers.

My noble friend Lord Skidelsky and the noble Lord, Lord Annan, were concerned about teacher training and asked whether it had ever been criticised. I can inform both my noble friend and the noble Lord that Ofsted and its predecessor body have not been universally complimentary about teacher training, nor would one expect them to be. However, many of the reforms have come about precisely because of the shortcomings that have been pointed out by the inspectorate.

Perhaps I may give some examples. An increase in school-based experience in teacher training came about because Ofsted found that young teachers in classrooms simply were not taught the craft of managing children in the classroom. The importance of paying greater attention to subject competence has been stressed. That was a point which was made extremely well by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. Too many teachers do not have the subject competence which they require to teach in schools. Perhaps too much theory has been levelled at them in the past and too little attention has been paid to subject competence.

There is a need to improve the teaching of reading by primary teachers. To be anecdotal for a moment, recently I visited a school and met a young teacher who had enjoyed her teacher training experience. I asked her whether she had any criticisms. She had two. First, she was not taught enough about managing children in the classroom in a practical way. She was the teacher of a class of six year-olds. I found her second point devastating. In a four-year Bachelor of Education degree course she had not been taught how to teach children to read. That is a disgrace when someone is given the sole responsibility for teaching six year-olds.

The noble Lord, Lord Flowers, asked why there should be special arrangements for teacher training. The noble Lord gave some interesting examples— engineers, lawyers, doctors, accountants and so on. The very foundation on which most learning takes place and is subsequently developed relies upon the competence, the experience, the quality and professionalism of our teachers. I make no apology for arguing that within the framework of higher education and schools an agency wholly dedicated to the supply and quality of teacher training is a thoroughly good thing.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, gave a refreshing view from the world of business and commerce. She reminded us of the importance of being concerned about the quality of outputs from education. She put some balance back into the debate. But I was deeply saddened that the one view that came from the body of employers in industry and commerce should have been so challenged during the course of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, asked whether shortcomings were the fault of teachers. What would the noble Lord have said to a vice-chancellor who not so long ago said to me, in the margins of a meeting, that at his university he had to lay on remedial English classes for his undergraduates who were reading English?

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, spoke of new powers but declined to list them. I have no doubt that we shall get round to them during the passage of the Bill. I must tell the noble Lord that most of the order-making and direction-making powers in the Bill simply replicate those in the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 in respect of the Higher Education Funding Council. Others are simply technical and underpin the normal business of the agency, such as the designation of training providers.

The noble Lords, Lord Annan and Lord Peyton, asked me whether I was dissatisfied with teacher training. It is not necessary to be dissatisfied in order to see a good argument for improvement. Much has been achieved. I have given one reason: bringing a number of disparate bodies together and making sense of the arrangements. There are very good and positive arguments for doing that. However, as in a school report, there is always room for improvement, and I believe that these changes will bring that about.

The noble Lord, Lord Peston, asked whether teachers have failed. Perhaps I may reply to that point with another question. Could it be that some of the training has failed the teachers?

The noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, made some very positive comments about the reforms. But she also made what I believe to be a monstrous interpretation of the purpose of the provisions of the Bill. The noble Baroness attributed the purpose of the Bill to the promotion of an untrained teaching force. That is such a grotesque interpretation that I regard the comments of the noble Baroness as deeply unworthy of the debate and an unacceptable commentary on all of those who support an emphasis on quality in the training of our teachers. Those people include my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, my ministerial colleagues and young teachers who feel let clown by inadequate training but most essentially those young teachers of tomorrow who are looking for quality teacher training.

I should also make it clear, as I hope I did at Second Reading, that there are some practical aspects of the Bill on which I shall want to consider the arguments very carefully, especially in the light of what has been said today. The notion of some hidden agenda has apparently been fuelled by the proposal that the agency should take responsibility for funding non-teacher training courses offered by education departments and the funding of education research. I find that a puzzling view. As the "blue paper" noted, those proposals were made on essentially practical grounds. They would allow education departments to interact with one major funding body and keep links between courses currently funded within a single academic subject category and its related category of research funding.

If those whom these proposals were intended to assist — those in the institutions of higher education— do not want us to use those existing boundaries and would prefer the agency only to fund courses of teacher training, then the case for any wider role may he weakened. As I have made clear, the Government's intention is to have a body whose main focus is on teacher training. That is the point on which we stand. But when we reach later amendments on those wider functions I shall listen very carefully to the views expressed and then take those issues away for further reflection and discussion.

I should like to remind the Committee of some aspects of the Bill which I believe will be welcomed. My right honourable friend is giving up the power to fund school-centred courses. He is giving up the power to approve individual teacher training courses. He is taking no new powers over higher education institutions, and he will re-enact the safeguards for academic freedom contained in the 1992 Act. There is no intention, nor will there be a power, to require schools to become involved in teacher training. Only those schools which apply and are considered suitable will be allowed to provide school-centred courses for postgraduates, as I said earlier.

The amendments in this group would emasculate our proposals. They do not address the present fragmentation of various services— advice, promotional activity, quality assessment and accreditation. They would not encourage a link between funding and high quality teacher training. Accreditation would remain the Secretary of State's own, unfettered responsibility, and the promotion of teaching as a career would not be anyone's statutory duty.

The Bill as proposed addresses all of those issues by establishing a body which brings the functions together and which is wholly dedicated to the supply of high quality teacher training. The objectives of the agency would be firmly set out in statute. They include raising standards of teaching and increasing the quality and efficiency of courses. Action which was not carried out with a view to furthering the agency's objectives would be open to challenge in the courts. That is our agenda. It is clear, it is open and it is set out on the face of the Bill in Clause 1 for all to see.

Lord Judd

Before the Minister sits clown perhaps she will comment on one point which may help to clarify the matters before the Committee. I totally accept her point about some of the provisions for delegated powers being a reiteration and strengthening of what already exists. But in their own memorandum to the Select Committee on the Scrutiny of Delegated Powers her department said that the Bill contains seven provisions for new delegated legislation and two amendments to existing powers to make such legislation.

Baroness Blatch

There is nothing inconsistent in what we said to the scrutiny committee and what I have said in Committee today. I said that it depends on what one means by "new". Many of those powers replicate powers which already exist under the present system. There is nothing new. Perhaps the noble Lord thinks it inappropriate that there should be proper powers to do the job properly.

Lord Dainton

I thank the Minister for her careful consideration of the points that have been put before her today. As everyone has said, this is a matter of agreement on objectives but disagreement over the means of achieving them. There are still a considerable number of differences.

I have been asking myself what is the best way forward. On some matters the Minister has offered careful consideration of the points that have been made. I hope that that means all of the points that have been made, some of which she has answered completely and some of which she has not. I am much taken by the proposal, which I believe was made by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, that the area surrounding the amendment that we have been debating today should provide an opportunity for more discussions. It is on that basis that I am prepared to seek leave to withdraw the amendment at this stage, in the hope that the window of opportunity — the door to which they referred— will be kept open. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill)

Is it your Lordships' pleasure that this amendment be withdrawn?

Noble Lords


7.10 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No.3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents,74; Not-Contents,110.

Division No.1
Ackner, L. Falkland, V.
Acton, L. Flowers, L.
Addington, L. Gallacher, L.
Airedale, L. Glenamara, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Ashley of Stoke, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.[Teller]
Bonham-Carter, L.
Bottomley, L. Greene of Harrow Weald, L
Bridges, L. Gregson, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Halsbury, E.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Hamwee, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Haskel, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Dainton, L. [Teller] Hooson, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Houghton of Sowerby, L.
David, B. Hylton-Foster, B.
Desai, L. Jay of Paddington, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Eatwell, L. Judd, L.
Kirkwood, L. Plant of Highfield, L.
Lawrence, L. Rea, L.
Lewis of Newnham, L. Richard, L.
Lockwood, B. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Longford, E. Russell, E.
Lovell-Davis, L. Serota, B.
Mclntosh of Haringey, L. Sherfield, L.
McNair, L. Stedman, B.
Meriyn-Rees, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Meston, L. Tordoff, L.
Molloy, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Walpole, L.
Morris of Kenwood, L. Wamock, B.
Nicol, B. Wharton, B.
Ogmore, L. White, B.
Park of Monmouth, B. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Peston, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Aberdare, L. Jeffreys, L.
Annaly, L. King of Wartnaby, L.
Annan, L. Lauderdale, E.
Arran, E. Leigh, L.
Astor, V. Long, V.
Blatch, B. Lucas, L.
Boardman, L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor]
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L. Merrivale, L.
Bridgeman, V. Mersey, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Miller of Hendon, B.
Bumham, L. Milverton, L.
Byron, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Cadman, L. Mottistone, L.
Caithness, E. Munster, E.
Caldecote, V. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Norrie, L.
Camock, L. Northbourne, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. O'Cathain, B.
Chelmsford, V. Orr-Ewing, L.
Chesham, L. Oxfuird, V.
Clanwilliam, E. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Colnbrook, L. Perry of Southwark, B.
Cork and Orrery, E. Plan of Writtle, B.
Courtown, E. Radnor, E.
Cox, B. Reay, L.
Craigmyle, L. Rennell, L.
Cranborne, V. Renton, L.
Crickhowell, L. Rodger of Earlsferry, L.
Cumberlege, B. Romney, E.
Dean of Harptree, L. Seccombe, B.
Denham, L. Sharpies, B.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. Skidelsky, L.
Downshire, M. St. Davids, V.
Elles, B. Stewartby, L.
Elton, L. Stockton, E.
Ferrers, E. Strafford, E.
Finsberg, L. Strange, B.
Flather, B. Strathclyde, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Strathmore and Kinghome, E.[Teller]
Glenarthur, L.
Goschen, V. Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Hacking, L. Swinfen, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Harding of Petherton, L. Thurlow, L.
Harmsworth, L. Tollemache, L.
Hayhoe, L. Trumpington, B.
Henley, L. Ullswater, V.[Teller]
Hesketh, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
HolmPatrick, L. Wakeham, L.[Lord Privy Seal.]
Hooper, B. Whitelaw, V.
Howe, E. Wise, L.
Huntly, M. Young, B

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

7.19 p.m.

[Amendment N7.3A not moved.]

Viscount St. Davids

I beg to move that the House be resumed. In moving this Motion, perhaps I may suggest that the Committee stage begins again at 8.20 p.m.

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

House resumed.