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Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman has had two goes. The first time he was not listening, and I am now trying to answer the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas). I certainly do not intend to give way any more to the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon
Column 245Valley. The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West asked an intelligent question and I am trying to give an intelligent answer.
We certainly have a programme for the year, but it is not a final date for the Bill but the fact that 120 hours have been spent on part I that caused us to move the guillotine. In total, the Bill, which has 72 clauses, will spend 156 hours in Committee, compared with the Education Reform Act 1988, which had 147 clauses and spent 163 hours in Committee, the Local Government Finance Act 1988 which had 131 clauses and spent 136 hours in Committee, and the Water Bill, which has 180 clauses and has spent 153 hours in Committee. By any standards--
Mr. Foulkes rose --
The right hon. Gentleman argued that Government have a programme to get through, and we understand that that is the responsibility of Government. Will he compare the number of Bills being packed into this Session with those in previous Sessions? The Prime Minister has said in the past that the burden of legislation considered by the House is too heavy.
Last year, we considered opting out for England and the Secretary of State for Scotland said that it would not apply in Scotland. The Bill therefore was not anticipated, was not included in any manifesto and was not announced.
Mr. Wakeham : It appears that the hon. Gentleman has had rather a tiring day in the Vale of Glamorgan. He should have a chat with the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson)--we know that the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley listens only to his own speeches--who has made a number of speeches criticising the Government for getting their legislation through. Compared with past years, the number of Bills in this Session has not been as high, but their quality has been extremely high. The proper time to announce the Government's legislative programme is the Queen's Speech, but as the hon. Gentleman did not make that speech I suppose that he did not listen to it.
I commend the motion to the House.
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras) : As the 200th anniversary of the commencement of the French revolution draws nearer, the Leader of the House looks more and more like Madame Defarge in drag. He added nothing to the consistency of his approach, because in recent debates on guillotine motions he usually said that it is not the Opposition who have protracted debate in Committee but the Government's business managers who have become tired of debate and embarrassed by the performance of Ministers. I have reason to believe that next week we may be debating a further guillotine on the
Column 246Dock Work Bill. The right hon. Gentleman will scarcely be able to make allegations of protracted debate on that Bill, which has had only three sittings.
Today, the right hon. Gentleman has accused my Scottish colleagues of not making serious efforts to debate the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill. The motion does not mark a difference in Labour party tactics but is a Tory smokescreen to cover the shambles of this measure. In his sketch of proceedings in Committee, the right hon. Gentleman missed out one or two significant points. If the Government were doing their job properly, how does he explain that on several occasions so few Tory Members turned up that there was not a quorum and the Committee was unable to continue?
Nor did the right hon. Gentleman mention that, as a result of the assiduous work of my hon. Friends, the Government have made nearly 30 concessions, admittedly of varying significance. My understanding is that making points, obtaining explanations and securing changes to a Bill are the purpose of the Committee stage.
Mr. Dobson : I do not feel like it ; that is one good reason. There is a host of reasons for objecting to the motion to curtail debate on this important Bill. The short title of the Bill, Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland), is good enough reason for opposing it. The "etc." gives the game away and sums up the Government's attitude to education in general and Scottish education in particular. Who else but this Tory Government would dismiss in one three-letter abbreviation such major changes? Only a Tory with no direct connection to education in Scotland could encompass within "etc." major changes such as testing in primary schools, the appraisal and dismissal of teachers and lecturers, the abolition of the machinery for considering the pay and conditions of teaching staff and the establishment of companies to manage colleges, not to mention the placing of recorded children and young people in schools. All that is dismissed by one insulting "etc.". That "etc." covers clauses 48 to 72 which still await the Committee's scrutiny. If, as the Opposition expect, the parents of Scotland see sense and do not take up the proposition of having self-governing schools, these "etcs." will have a much more damaging impact on education in Scotland.
It is not just the Bill's title that insults everyone in Scotland who is concerned with education. At every stage the people, parents and teachers of Scotland have been treated with contempt. The best illustration of that is the history of the self-proclaimed main purpose of the Bill--to get some schools to opt out. The Government have no mandate from the people of Scotland for this proposal. It is not that opting out was rejected by the people of Scotland at the last election. It is not even that opting out in Scotland was approved by the people of England at the last election, which is one of the curious propositions for mandates that the Government put forward. It is not even that opting out in Scotland was not mentioned by the Tories in Scotland at the last election. At the last election in Scotland, the Tories denied that they would introduce
Column 247opting out in Scotland. If they have any mandate in Scotland on this matter, it is a mandate not to force opting out on the people in Scotland.
Mr. Bill Walker : I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not give way earlier. I had a relevant point to make. I shall make it in my speech, if I am called, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman should be careful about the categorical statements that he makes from the Front Bench. Those of us who were elected in Scotland--
Mr. Walker : --do as many do, regardless of which party we represent, and put forward in our constituencies our personal views. I was elected on the basis--nothing in our manifesto said otherwise--that I would try to persuade the Government, if returned, to give schools the opportunity to opt out. That is on record in 44 speeches. The hon. Gentleman should withdraw his comment.
Mr. Dobson : It appears that opting out in education is following a precedent that the hon. Gentleman set during the general election. He apparently opted out of the Tories' election manifesto. That is very convenient for him at this moment. As I have said before in the House, when I discovered that the hon. Gentleman represented Aberfeldy, I realised what Burns meant when he wrote the poem "The Birks of Aberfeldy".
In the absence of any mandate, the Government propose to insist on going ahead with opting out and other important measures in the Bill. They have not consulted anyone in Scotland about whether to go ahead with these measures. There has been some consultation on how. It is no wonder that in Scotland there is anger among parents and parents' organisations, among teachers and teachers' organisations, among the Churches and among the education authorities. A combination of late consultation and haste in preparing a Bill is a guaranteed formula for frustration for those involved and bad law. My hon. Friends have extended discussion of the Bill in Committee because they are convinced that if it stays as drafted it will be bad law and harmful to children in Scotland.
On top of all that, the opting-out proposals for Scotland are worse than the ones already introduced in England. I do not know whether at the election the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was saying, "Yes, I would like opting out. The details of the opting out will be even worse and more stupid in Scotland than the ones proposed in England." The hon. Gentleman cannot have said that, because we did not know what the details were in England. In Scotland, special needs schools have not been exempted from these proposals ; in England they are. The opting-out process in Scotland can be triggered by as few as 10 per cent. of parents, rather than 20 per cent. as in England. Under the Bill as drafted, the outcome of a decision on opting out can be decided by a simple majority on one ballot-- although, following the cogent arguments mounted by my hon. Friends in Committee, the Government have, I understand, agreed to reconsider that aspect, and perhaps they will reach the stage arrived at in England. In England, schools with fewer than 300 pupils are exempted from opting out-- not so in Scotland. Any suggestion that what is sauce for the English goose should be sauce for the Scottish gander is untenable, because the law as passed in England will not be applied to Scotland. The position will be worse in Scotland.
Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes) : I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman's colleagues have admitted this point to him. He should be aware that an amendment was tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) and other Front-Bench members of the Opposition team calling on the Government to include special schools within the provisions. I sought to sign that amendment, and found that it had been withdrawn, which was very sad. My hon. Friends and I were convinced of the excellence of the amendment, so I retabled it in my name. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that the amendment to include special schools, which my hon. Friend the Minister accepted, was tabled by his hon. Friends.
Mr. Dobson : The hon. Gentleman has underestimated my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish), who has drawn my attention to one or two points that he thought that Conversative Members might mention. He drew my attention also to the fact that, as even the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) has admitted, the amendment was withdrawn. [ Hon. Members :-- "Why?"] Because it was not a sensible amendment. [Laughter.] I might add that the amendment which my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central concluded was not sensible was in due course almost automatically tabled by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes because he goes in for tabling that sort of thing, supporting such measures and getting them passed into law. I do not know what he is going on about.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray) : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way on this point, because, as he knows, I have been deeply involved in this issue in Committee. Does the hon. Gentleman feel that the raucous laughter from Conservative Members showed that the debate on special schools appeared to be lost in a party political battle rather than being addressed as a clear issue affecting a small minority of our population? Those people have become deeply angry as they have read of the move by Conservative Members on that issue. Conservative Members will hear from concerned organisations as the Committee proceeds.
Mr. Dobson : I agree with much of what the hon. Lady has said. I cannot see why there is anything particularly silly, wrong or humiliating about an Opposition Member tabling an amendment and withdrawing it because he thought it inappropriate or wrong. After all, many Committee stages have involved a vast array of propositions that have been drafted by civil servants and approved by Ministers yet have been withdrawn because even Ministers accept that they are not a good idea. That is what the process is about. It certainly applies to amendments submitted by the Opposition as well. One of the Government's other problems is that, with only five Scottish Tory Back Benchers, they have found it difficult to get people to serve on the Committee, especially as two of the five do not agree with opting out. The Bill has therefore been "augmented", if that is the right word--like the Augmented BBC Review Orchestra--by the addition of six English Tories. Having watched the Committee in action, I can say without fear of contradiction that the English element has not exactly helped the Government team to a win bonus. The formula so successfully applied by Rangers does not seem to work for the Tories.
Three of the English augmenting MPs--the ones with close political ties with the Under-Secretary of State--represent what might be described as full-frontal Thatcherism in all its crude individualism
Mr Dobson : I do not know whether I should name them, as it might endanger the other three. They say in the newspapers that the Prime Minister regularly meets a group of young Tories, including those three and the Under-Secretary of State. If, as is rumoured, she meets those hon. Members, I begin to understand her claim that there is no such thing as society. To describe this trio as philistine is to exaggerate their cultural aspirations. Throughout the Committee's proceedings they have displayed nothing but contempt for the people of Scotland and their institutions and for Scotland's elected representatives. I urge my hon. Friends from Scotland not to feel discriminated against, however, because these three Tories have exactly the same attitude to almost anything worthwhile in the rest of Britain, too.
Tories talk about a unitary Parliament and reject the idea of devolving power to a Scottish assembly. If they want to preserve the Union, that is all the more reason why they should treat the people of Scotland and their elected representatives with respect. The history of the Bill gives the lie to the Tory claim to be concerned about the people of Scotland and to regard the present arrangements as satisfactory.
The idea of allowing schools to opt out of local education is not just offensive in itself. It flies in the face of all that is best in the traditions of Scottish education and in the traditions of the whole nation. No nation on earth attaches more importance to education. As Burns wrote 202 years and one month ago, Scotland is "An ancient nation, famed afar
For genius and learning high
Where every science--every noble art
That can inform the mind or mend the heart
It is not just that Scots respect learning for its own sake, although they do. Education in Scotland has not been considered merely as something that benefits individuals and gives them opportunities, although it does. Education has been considered by Scottish people over the ages as something that enriches all and spreads out the
"pith o' sense and pride o' worth"
through a profoundly democratic people.
Except in a very few cases, the Scottish education system has been based on the local community, through schools and colleges catering for all. That was true even of the universities, which had more scholars from poor homes than those anywhere else in the world. The best tradition of Scottish education has been good quality education for all, rejecting the elitism that has besmirched the English education tradition. That is why opting out is so reviled. To the people of Scotland, it is an alien idea. They fear it because it may produce alienation between one group of children and another and one group of parents and another. That is why the people of Scotland detest the Bill and why my hon. Friends fought so hard
Column 250against it in Committee. It is why we oppose the guillotine motion tonight and why we shall continue to fight the proposals and we shall reverse them. The Bill flies in the face of all the traditions that are best in Scotland, and when one talks about the best in Scotland and the best in education one is talking about the best in the world.
uncharacteristically reluctant to give way to my hon. Friends. He did so only twice, and on each occasion he was clean bowled middle stump and gave clear evidence that, although he may have popped into the Committee for a minute or two, he had not read the Committee's proceedings with any attention to detail. It is anyway a change of Labour party policy to argue that the objectionable parts of the Bill are the parts that have not yet been discussed, rather than the parts that have been discussed.
Before I deal with the more general point, may I, perhaps unusually, solicit the support of the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) for my amendment on the chairmanship of the university courts?
Mr. Foulkes : I shall certainly consider that carefully. It sounds a great prospect. Those of us who fought hard for Prestwick are elated today at the prospect of great developments. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree. In the spirit of such cross-party co-operation, I shall certainly consider that amendment.
I thought that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras would allege that the Labour party had spent so much time in Committee because they wished to go through the Bill line by line. That did not happen. What happened was a series of fits and starts. At some points, the Committee went extremely fast. Clause 15--a major clause dealing with ballots--for example, went through in about 15 minutes. I make no allegations about that. Other, purely technical, clauses took hours. The proceedings in Committee went badly wrong, first, because the Opposition were always determined that there should be a guillotine, and secondly because they were obsessed with one particular timetable--the timetable of the press.
The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish), whom I do not criticise for not being present now, worked extremely hard and enthusiastically ; I would not deny that. But he was absolutely obsessed with timing his great attacks with reference to the press. I happened to be the next to be called after one of his attacks on Tuesday 11 April. The hon. Gentleman did not listen to a word I said because he was busy talking to the press. I must say that one could understand the position that he adopted then. He had just moved three amendments in a major attack on the Government ; one did not do what his press release said it would do ; the second showed that he could not count ; and the third reversed the amendment that the Labour party had originally tabled. Perhaps on that occasion, therefore, the hon. Gentleman could be excused for having to talk to the Press.
Mr. Leigh : Does my hon. Friend recall that the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) made an error? He issued a press release one Wednesday saying that he proposed to move certain amendments on Thursday. Then he found to his horror that the English Members wanted to talk about religious education. He did not like the idea of people wanting to talk about the Bill, so in a fit of pique he ordered his troops to filibuster for the rest of the day. That meant that we did not reach the amendments described in the press release until the following Tuesday. What absurd behaviour that was.
Mr. Stewart : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That gives the lie to any claim that Labour Members were interested in debating the Bill line by line. They wanted to skip six clauses in no time at all, again because of the timetable of the press. There was clearly time wasting in Committee, and that is the principal justification for the guillotine. Hon. Members would have congratulated the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) on his masterly performance of filibustering, but, this afternoon, the term became somewhat relative. It was still good to start on one group of amendments at 6.30 and finish at 10.45--admittedly with a dinner break in between--and discuss something that was not in the Bill. I refer to academic selection. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that term. I thought that he would do so 100 times, but he did not reach that figure. He did so 64 times, and the Chairman warned him about repetition. The hon. Gentleman introduced the new technique of the silent filibuster. He stood and said absolutely nothing. He was firmly and fairly brought to order by the Chairman, who said :
"Order. Let us be clear. The hon. Member must not stand without speaking, because it cannot be recorded in Hansard. It cannot be said that during the day, the hon. Member has shown a lack of words, but, if he has now run out of words we may make progress."--[ Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 21 March 1989 ; c. 250.] One of my uncontroversial amendments was brought forward by the Scottish Consumer Council. No Opposition Member signed my amendment, although they could have done so. I took three minutes to move the amendment. The Opposition indicated support. The Minister said that he would consider it. I said that I was content. The Opposition said that they supported my amendment. They were not content with the Minister's assurance. The Minister said that he would accept my amendment. The Opposition continued to filibuster until a closure was moved and agreed. That morning's proceedings were rightly described by the press- -they managed to escape from the clutches of the hon. Member for Fife, Central for a moment or two--as degenerating into farce.
There was yet another example later. At 3.50 am on Tuesday 25 April, the hon. Member for Fife, Central moved an amendment. The Minister intervened. Did he say, "I will consider the amendment"? No. Did he say, "This is a good point, but the wording is technically flawed"? No. He said :
"I am happy to accept the hon. Gentleman's amendment, so perhaps we can move on".
The Labour Members who were present continued to talk. The Chairman said :
"I am in the Committee's hands, but I find it difficult to understand why amendment No. 154 cannot be dealt with quickly."--[ Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 25 April 1989 ; c. 1005, 1006.]
Column 252Still Labour Members talked, after the Minister had accepted their amendment, after the Chairman had demonstrated as strongly as possible that the Committee should move on. It was crystal clear to Conservative Members that a timetable motion was inevitable. I have had 10 years' experience of sitting on Committees, but Labour Members' behaviour was quite without precedent.
The Opposition were constantly in a muddle. They undertook that discussion on clause 28 would start at midday on 25 April. That debate was delayed for hours. I inform the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras that the debate was delayed for hours because the Opposition were embarrassed that some of their amendments did not mean what they thought they meant. Any sensible Opposition would have admitted that and said, "It was a mistake ; let us carry on." However, the Committee was treated to endless filibustering so that the Opposition could avoid the minor embarrassment of making that admission when the press were present instead of at 4 o'clock in the morning.
The Bill is an enabling measure--at least, the controversial parts of it are. Nothing happens in relation to opting out unless Scottish parents want it to happen. I do not criticise the Opposition's work rate. I do not know whether you are a reader of P. G. Wodehouse, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the hon. Member for Fife, Central reminds me of Rupert Baxter--the efficient Baxter of the flashing spectacles, who rushes around with mind-boggling energy and enthusiasm at all times. No one could criticise hon. Members' work rate or the way in which they tackle the measure.
The last two Scottish education Bills that the House has considered since 1979 were not guillotined. In many respects, they were much more radical than this one. The timetable motion is necessary for the orderly progress of the Bill. It has been made necessary by the absurd time-wasting tactics that have been used again and again by Labour Members on the Committee. There is no doubt that the guillotine will provide considerable relief for Opposition Front Bench Members.
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) referred to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Mr. Dobson) as being bowled middle stump. As those of us who served on the Committee know, any fast bowling from Conservative Back-Bench Members was directed not at the Opposition but at the Minister. There were not a few occasions when his middle stump was removed by his hon. Friends who rebelled against him. They sufficiently embarrassed the Minister so that he tried to deny it profusely in the press later.
The hon. Member for Eastwood referred to the Opposition being reluctant to debate a set of amendments at the agreed time of 12 o'clock. The Government were in control of the timetable. They could easily have wound up the debate at any point in the
twenty-six-and-a-half-hour sitting, but they refused to do so because they wanted to clock up hours, no doubt to justify this motion. The hon. Members for Eastwood and for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) were keen. They said, "We are looking forward to the debate. We will embarrass the Labour Opposition." However, they did not speak because they were embarrassed about their claims, which
Column 253could not be substantiated. They backed away from the debate. The Opposition did not back away from the debate. We debated the issue when we had time.
Guillotine motions can be justified by democratically elected Governments, but it is a point of dispute whether the Government have been democratically elected in the context of Scottish legislation. It is true that Oppositions who have lost general elections and are worried about it sometimes do everything in their power to frustrate and delay Government legislation. One of the most potent weapons which an Opposition can wield is that of time. Oppositions can slow the parliamentary process. They can talk at great length on matters of little significance or importance which are disguised in the form of amendments. They can filibuster ad infinitum. They can seek line by line and word by word to pressure the Government into making concessions which they believe will improve the Bill, either by softening it or by changing its impact from that which the Government originally intended. It is strange that the manifestations of most of those tactics were deployed in Committee. They were deployed by Conservative Back -Bench Members on many occasions, in an attempt to justify the motion.
That method of parliamentary opposition can be legitimate, and all hon. Members would accept that. It can equally be legitimate for an elected Government to call a halt when they believe that the Opposition are simply indulging in time wasting and are no longer seriously debating suggestions for amending a Bill. A guillotine is legitimate only when the Government's parliamentary majority reflects an electoral majority in the country at large. When the Government's parliamentary majority reflects the will of the people who have elected them
Mr. McAllion : I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. He can make his own speech in his own time. I gave way to him time and again in Committee, and hon. Members were distracted by a lot of irrelevant nonsense.
Oppositions are always entitled to oppose any legislation brought forward by Government. They are not entitled to frustrate the will of the people by parliamentary manoeuvring. That is the only occasion when Governments are entitled to ensure the passage of legislation by introducing a guillotine motion. How does that principle apply to this motion and this piece of Government legislation?
Mr. McAllion : The hon. Member can make his own speech in his own time. I will not give way to hon. Members who have tried to embarrass the people of Scotland time and again by the way in which they have behaved. The hon. Members who are trying to intervene repeatedly refused to give way to me in Committee.
The Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill applies exclusively to Scotland, affecting only the people of Scotland--the parents, pupils, teachers and ancillary staff of Scotland and nowhere else. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to ask whether there is any democratic legitimacy for this Bill, and any kind of support for it within Scotland.
Column 254I shall look at the evidence available on this matter. For example, what is the evidence on parliamentary elections? The most recent general election in Scotland saw a complete collapse of Tory support and a reduction of their number of representatives in this House by more than half. There were previously 21 Tory Members representing Scotland, whereas there are now only 10. The Conservatives are unable even to staff Scottish Standing Committees or, in fact, to form a Scottish Select Committee comprising Government Back Benchers from Scotland. Even the Government's Scottish Whip now comes from an English constituency, so bereft are the Government of Scottish Back-Bench support. In parliamentary terms, there is thus no democratic support in Scotland for the Bill, which will affect only the people of Scotland.
What about local expressions of support? For example, at the level of education authorities elected across Scotland by local electorates, there are nine regional councils and three island councils that act as such authorities. Not one is controlled by the Conservative party, since the regional elections of 1986. Not one of those bodies actually supports this Bill, which is being railroaded through the House. The Scottish Churches have registered their opposition to the Bill, as have the teachers' unions, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, and even two of the Government's own Back Benchers from Scotland.
Thus the question must be asked : are the Government justified in assuming that the will of the Scottish people is being frustrated by parliamentary manoeuvring by the official Opposition? The only possible answer is that they are not justified in any way in that claim. The next question is whether the guillotine motion is justified. Again, the only answer can be that it is not. Of course, some Conservative Members will argue that what Scotland wants is completely immaterial, and that Scotland will get what the United Kingdom Parliament decrees it will get, no matter how tenuous the link between the United Kingdom parliamentary majority and the popular majority, whether that popular majority be at the Scottish or the United Kingdom level.
This is a particularly repulsive doctrine, because it is profoundly undemocratic and contemptuous of the will of the people of Scotland and indeed of people across the United Kingdom. Like all forms of tyranny, such as the poll tax, it always calls itself something else, masquerading behind the democratic facade. Sometimes it calls itself the concept of the unitary Parliament ; at other times it describes itself as the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty. However it describes itself, it is wholly and unashamedly opposed to the doctrine of popular sovereignty and the democratic principle that legislation can be introduced only with the democratic consent of the people to whom it applies. That is why a democratic Parliament would look to protect and secure the rights of the people against an elected dictatorship and not collude with the elected dictatorship, denying these very rights to the people of Scotland.
We have already heard the argument of the Member for Eastwood that the Bill is purely permissive, and that nothing has been imposed on anyone without their consent. He has said that only in schools where parents vote for the procedure will opting out actually be implemented. That is absolute hogwash, a spokescreen set up to confuse public opinion and get around the very
Column 255undemocratic nature of the business that the Government are now embarking on.
First, an option cannot be based on a minority of parents choosing to vote for self-governing status. The actual decision lies with the Secretary of State for Scotland. The parental ballot is purely indicative, and the Secretary of State can take it into account or refuse to take it into account--the decision rests with him whether or not the schools opt out of education authorities.
Secondly, schools which opt out do not do so in isolation. When they go, they take with them their current grants and capital allocation that otherwise would have gone to education authority schools. They therefore divert much-needed financial support away from education authority schools. When the self-governing schools go, they will forcibly take with them teachers and other staff in those schools who have no rights to choose to stay with their current employer, the education authority.
Thirdly, the Bill does not only deal with schools opting out, as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras said ; the "etc." in the title covers a whole range of measures that have nothing to do with opting out. Further education colleges have been forcibly restructured to manipulate the majority of business representation on every college council. They have been forced into a more and more commercial and entrepreneurial direction, which the Government want but nobody else wants, least of all those in Scotland.
National testing for the primary sector of students aged between seven and 12 has been forcibly introduced into Scotland. Public funding for new private schools, called technology academies, has been forcibly introduced in Scotland. The abolition of the Scottish joint negotiating committee on further education has been forcibly introduced into Scotland. New forms of teacher appraisal and teacher dismissal have been imposed on teachers and employers alike in Scotland. There is nothing permissive about any of those measures. They have simply been imposed on Scotland undemocratically and against the wishes of those people.
This guillotine motion is therefore profoundly undemocratic, because it seeks to frustrate the real will of the Scottish people, as does the Bill itself. It should be resisted by any true democrats in this House.
We have been accused of organising a filibuster. What we have simply tried to do is examine the Bill in detail, exploring fully the wide ramifications and implications of the measure as it will affect the people of Scotland. We have done that in respect of part I, clauses 1 to 47, over the past 12 days in Committee. We are now denied the opportunity to do that on a similar basis in respect of parts II and III and clauses 48 to 72 because debate is to be stifled and examination curtailed by a Government timetable.
I look to the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes particularly to support the Opposition in trying to defeat this guillotine motion. He said in Committee :
"I hope that the Committee will take the opportunity to sit for as long as is necessary for those such as myself who have yet to be persuaded by Opposition amendments. It is essential that we have a long and leisurely Committee."--[ Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 25 April 1989, c. 18.]
I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he thinks that parts II and III of the Bill will be given sufficient time, when the timetable motion allows only five days to cover clauses 48 to 72 and the schedules.
Mr. Michael Brown : Indeed I said that, because I was assuming that the Labour Opposition would not waste time. I was assuming that they would take the debate seriously and would not then spend hours and hours debating an amendment when my hon. Friend the Minister said that he was prepared to consider it. At the point when Labour Members then conducted a filibuster, after my hon. Friend had said that he was willing to consider the amendment, it was clear that only a guillotine motion would solve the problem for the Opposition.
Mr. McAllion : It is difficult to take any admonition from the hon. Gentleman. At one point in Committee, he actually threatened myself and other Scottish Members of the Committee. He said that if we did not shut up he would make sure that concessions given by the Minister would be defeated by the Back Benches. It is hardly consistent with democratic debates for a Scottish Member to be threatened by an English Member that a Scottish Bill will not be amended as Scottish Members want it amended because he is being kept out of bed. That is intolerable.
It is important that we spend as much time considering the next two parts of the Bill as we spent on the first part. When we spent 12 days discussing that, we found out the Minister's real intentions on several points. On 16 March, at column 119, the Minister said that his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland would not consent to the introduction of general academic selection. However, much later, on 18 April at column 790, the same Minister confirmed that, if self-governing schools could secure the endorsement of the Secretary of State for Scotland, they could introduce general academic selection. Something that was not on at the beginning of the Committee, suddenly became on much later when the Minister's defences were down and he let it slip. The purpose of our deliberations in Committee is to find out such things. At column 754, the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) stated : "I fully support the right of parents to opt for schools whose admissions policy is based on academic selection."--[ Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 18 April 1989 ; c. 754.] At column 783, the Minister congratulated his hon. Friend the Member for Hexham on an excellent speech. That was the same Minister who said that he would not allow general academic selection to be introduced via this Bill. It is important to spend a long time in Committee deliberations because, when the Minister makes mistakes, we find out what the Government's real intentions have been all along. The Government's conduct of the Bill in Committee has been as provocative as it has been contemptuous of Scottish opinion. The Government's Back Benches were packed by extremist ideologues of the No Turning Back group. They displayed an obsessive interest in the technicalities of tabling amendments, but no interest whatsoever in how the Bill may affect Scottish people and the pupils who attend Scottish schools. However, in defence of some the Government's Back Bench members of that Committee, I must say that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Irvine) was less extreme than some of his hon. Friends. He at least has a Scottish auntie and claimed that his grandfather came from Fife, so there must be some good things about some Tory Members on that Committee.