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Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian) : The hon. Gentleman seems to be labouring under a delusion. He says that this is a highly controversial Bill, but there is no controversy about it in Scotland--the area to which it applies. There is no detectable support for the Bill in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman should get that clear in his head.

Mr. Leigh : This is an enabling Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is right to say that there is no detectable support for it, presumably no schools will opt out of local authority control.

On three occasions I have put the question to the hon. Member for Fife, Central and on no occasion was he prepared to answer me. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, did me the great honour of thereafter referring to it as the Gainsborough question, and it remains unanswered. If this is such a controversial item of legislation that there is no support for it, why is the Scottish Labour party worried about it? Presumably no schools will opt out. The English experience has some relevance and value and it proves that the case is otherwise, as I shall show in a moment.

In legislation where there is a sharp political divide, it must be right to timetable early. I doubt whether anything new was said after the first 20 to 30 hours of debate in the Standing Committee. Labour Members on that Committee had to prove to their paymasters in the Scottish teaching unions that they were a robust and powerful Opposition, keeping the Tories up all night, and similar rubbish. Is there a single hon. Gentleman who has had--

Mrs. Ray Mitchie : Or hon. Lady.

Mr. Leigh : Is there a single hon. Gentleman or hon. Lady who has received a letter of complaint about the guillotine motion imposed this week? I doubt it. People outside care about the arguments and the issues, but they do not care about Conservative and Labour Members staying up all night engaging in filibusters and procedural debates.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland) : The hon. Gentleman referred to the Labour party's paymasters in the Scottish teaching unions. The teaching unions have been careful to obtain cross-party support for their stance. Can the hon. Gentleman name one that is affiliated or pays money to the Labour party?

Mr. Leigh : I shall deal with the Educational Institute of Scotland in a moment. I hope that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) will give me some credit for having sat with my hon. Friends through discussions on the Bill for over 100 hours and for knowing, therefore, something about what has been said on these matters by the Scottish teachers' unions. I shall deal with that in a moment. I said that after the first 20 hours of debate, nothing new came out, but perhaps I was wrong. There was a perceptible shifting in the Labour party's position on these matters. Labour Members started by saying, as they have said this afternoon--the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) repeated the point--that there is no support for the proposals. When the original proposal for school boards was published, the Scottish Labour party opposed it. From the results in Scotland, one can see

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that two thirds of schools, 70 per cent. of pupils and 80 per cent. of secondary schools will have school boards. Turnout in most areas was more than 55 per cent., which is higher than the turnout for most regional council elections, although those councils run education at present.

We can see, therefore, just as we saw in the debate on school boards, that we shall start to win the argument on the ground as the debate continues. If the hon. Member for East Lothian is right in saying that there is no support for the principle of opting out in Scotland, I must refer him to the English experience. Sixty-nine schools have been balloted and no fewer than 50 have opted out. That shows that, contrary to what the hon. Gentleman said, there is considerable support for the principle of opting out.

Other interesting developments have taken place in recent months. The first national survey of parents' views on education was carried out in Scotland, having been commissioned by the Scottish Office. There were some interesting results which confirm all that my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling has managed to achieve in his two years in office and Conservative Members congratulate my hon. Friend on all his work for Scottish education. The results are grim reading for the Scottish Labour party because they show that parents support choice of schools, firm discipline, testing, school uniforms, school prize givings and competitions, the regular appraisal of teachers, giving parents a say in what is taught and, to a lesser extent, how it is taught, giving parents some say in how the school budget is spent and more parental involvement through voluntary help in schools.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) said earlier, Strathclyde made an about-turn on the matter halfway through our deliberations, much to the chagrin of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish). On 17 April, Strathclyde published a report saying that schools and colleges should have far more control over their own affairs, especially in handling their own budgets. It said that a slimmed-down Glasgow headquarters would deal only with future strategy, while the region's six divisions would handle operations in co-operation with local schools and colleges.

Our delight with what we heard was so great that my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) suggested that the leader of Strathclyde regional council, Charles Gray, should be given a knighthood. Indeed, he was referred to in our deliberations as "Sir Charles Gray". The hon. Member for Fife, Central was rather surprised by the about-turn by Strathclyde, which undermined all his efforts and everything he had said in the first 10, 20, 30 or 50 hours of our debate. He was forced to say in the Glasgow Herald on 21 April 1989 :

"I very much welcome this excellent report",

although he said that the timing did "quite surprise" him. I am not surprised at that, because his position had been wholly undermined. As the debate progressed over many hours, we saw that my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary had got it right and that he was in tune with what Scotland, Strathclyde and the parents whose views were reported in the survey wanted. Is it not sad that the Labour party has learnt nothing? It published a policy review which has had universally bad treatment by the press. Even The Independent said that the Labour party

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"is still influenced by the Fabian approach, under which things are done to people in their best interests, quote, independently of what they want themselves Labour really isn't learning."

We are not the party which forces education policies down the throats of parents. We want to give parents initiative and choice.

Mr. Gerald Howarth : Is it not the case that the Labour party's policy is best summed up by its former education spokesman, the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) who said that what was good enough for his children was good enough for everybody else's?

Mr. Leigh : That is a disgraceful remark, typical of the old- fashioned Labour party that those of us fighting it have grown to know, love and beat in three successive general elections--and in a fourth one as well, no doubt. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd) : Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is coming to a conclusion. This is a short debate.

Mr. Leigh : I am coming to a conclusion, but I cannot leave the hon. Member for Fife, Central alone without quoting him once more. On 23 February he wrote :

"we have failed to properly develop the desires of parents to be more involved in their children's education ; and we have failed to embrace the real and changing needs of education into a radical and imaginative agenda."

The words of the then Labour party spokesman are the words of a man who realises that his policies have failed. It is my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary and his successor who are now in tune with the wishes of Scottish parents.

4.46 pm

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : There is little to which we should heed in the remarks of the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), given that he knows little about anything that happens in Scotland, even to the extent that he assumes that the Conservative party has won three successive general elections there. I ask him to go away qietly and look at the Scottish election results in 1979, 1983 and 1987--during which time the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), has had quite a lot to say in Scottish politics--and he will see that the Conservative party has been rejected decisively by the Scottish people, as have the policies that it attempted to push through the House with the support of English Members who know nothing about the issues that are being debated in Scottish education.

The hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle said that, after 20 hours of discussion in Committee, little new was introduced into the debate. I ask him to consider the contribution of the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart). He seemed to be highly entertained by his hon. Friend's speech, although it was the same speech that he made on 3 May 1989--six months ago- -even down to the same quotation from the Official Report of the first Scottish Standing Committee on 21 March 1989. Any hon. Member who doubts that need only to look up Hansard of 3 May at column 251, and he will see the same speech that the hon. Gentleman rendered this afternoon. If ever there was an example of the poverty of the contribution made to politics in Scotland by the Conservative party, we have seen it this afternoon in the contribution of the hon. Member for Eastwood.

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Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross) : If the hon. Gentleman and the Labour party are at all interested in debating the amendments, what on earth is the point of that idiotic speech?

Mr. McAllion : The hon. and learned Gentleman obviously does not know what debate this is. We are debating a guillotine motion and there are no amendments for the House to consider. The hon. and learned Gentleman would do well to go back to where he came from, where he would probably find the atmosphere far more congenial. The Labour party will continue to resist the Bill and the guillotine motion, as we have done throughout the proceedings on the Bill. We do so all the more because the political context in which the measure is being assessed has changed dramatically since the Bill was previously considered by the House. That change has important implications for the way in which its provisions are likely to be implemented in Scotland--if the Bill is ever allowed on to the statute book.

The provisions in the Bill are potentially radical. No one should make any mistake about that. We are considering giving individual schools in Scotland the opportunity to opt out of their education authority's control. For the first time for generations, and certainly in my life, we could see deep divisions in the provision of primary and secondary education. There is also the prospect of the return of academic selection for entry into local neighbourhood schools. Pupils could be denied the right to attend the school at the end of their street on the grounds that they are too dim. It was clear from the speeches of the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) and English Members in Committee that the spectre will be raised of doors being slammed on Scottish pupils on the grounds of their ethnic origin, sex or religious belief. Conservative Members made it clear that they wanted single-sex schools, Muslim schools and schools dominated by a particular religious ethos to the exclusion of any other.

Mr. Allan Stewart : Will the hon. Gentleman explain why he believes that Catholics should have the right to separate education but that Jews and Muslims should not?

Mr. McAllion : The hon. Gentleman is not even aware of the changes to be made by the Government. Anyone will be able to gain entry to a Catholic school but will not have to attend any religious classes. That is not the case now. In Committee, the hon. Gentleman suggested that that should be the case in schools which opt out. That is what he and his hon. Friends have sought in supporting the Bill. The Bill paves the way for the privatisation of further education colleges in Scotland by setting up private companies to manage them. In the process it dismantles the existing structure of pay and conditions for staff. It also establishes technology academies, based on the principle of creaming off the best and brightest pupils from Scottish education, and concentrates an unfair proportion of available resources on them. It reintroduces compulsory national testing into primary schools, which implies branding pupils as either successes or failures at seven and 11. The Bill introduces teacher appraisal, not as a means of strengthening career structures but to allow boards of management to weed out teachers whose faces do not fit--perhaps teachers who represent the EIS, progressive

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teachers or those who put the needs of pupils before the prejudices of a minority of parents who dominate the board.

Conservative and Opposition Members agree that the provisions in the Bill are radical. Our disagreement is on their desirability. Are the changes necessary, given the state of Scottish education? The answer is no. I tabled a question to the Secretary of State for Scotland about capital spending on primary and secondary schools in Scotland in the past 10 years. The answer provided by the Minister of State, Scottish Office was that this year, the Government have spent about half as much on schools in Scotland as the Labour Government spent in 1978-79. At current prices the Labour Government spent £108 million on primary and secondary schools in 1978 -79 whereas this Government are likely to spend £57 million in 1988- 89. What is necessary for education in Scotland is that the Government release resources to improve school buildings. The introduction of divisive and offensive measures which nobody in Scotland wants is unnecessary.

Are the measures in the Bill popular in Scotland? The answer is overwhelmingly no. At St. John's primary school in Alva, parents had themselves elected to the school board with the explicit intention of preventing any changes from being introduced through the medium of the school board. Some parents might have wanted the school to opt out of local authority control.

The evidence that we are considering is not only anecdotal. In the time that has elapsed since we previously discussed the Bill in Committee and on Report, huge press interest has been excited in Scotland about our consideration of the Bill. On occasions, the Committee proceedings seemed more like rival press briefings to put the message across in Scotland than serious examination of the Bill. Both sides were guilty of that. No one can deny that Scottish people are aware of the measures in the Bill.

Subsequently, there have been elections to school boards. They have focused parental interest on the Government's attempt to change education in Scotland. Since then, the previous Secretary of State for Education and Science has been elevated to the chairmanship of the Tory party, which, as he would argue, could mean an increase in Tory party campaigning in Scotland to put the Conservative message across. It is undeniable that the message is getting across to the people of Scotland. They have received it and they understand it-- It being one hour after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Madam Deputy Speaker-- put the Question necessary for the disposal of them, pursuant to the Order[3 May].

The House divided : Ayes 266, Noes 198.

Division No. 406] [4.56 pm


Adley, Robert

Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Amery, Rt Hon Julian

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Ashby, David

Aspinwall, Jack

Atkins, Robert

Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Batiste, Spencer

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, Vivian

Bevan, David Gilroy

Biffen, Rt Hon John

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Body, Sir Richard

Bonsor, Sir Nicholas

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Column 209

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Buck, Sir Antony

Budgen, Nicholas

Burns, Simon

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chope, Christopher

Churchill, Mr

Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Colvin, Michael

Conway, Derek

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cormack, Patrick

Couchman, James

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Curry, David

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Dicks, Terry

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Emery, Sir Peter

Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)

Evennett, David

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Fox, Sir Marcus

Freeman, Roger

French, Douglas

Gale, Roger

Gardiner, George

Garel-Jones, Tristan

Gill, Christopher

Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian

Glyn, Dr Alan

Gorman, Mrs Teresa

Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)

Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)

Greenway, John (Ryedale)

Gregory, Conal

Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')

Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)

Grist, Ian

Ground, Patrick

Grylls, Michael

Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn

Hague, William

Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)

Hanley, Jeremy

Hannam, John

Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')

Harris, David

Haselhurst, Alan

Hayward, Robert

Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)

Hind, Kenneth

Hordern, Sir Peter

Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)

Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey

Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)

Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)

Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)

Irvine, Michael

Jack, Michael

Jackson, Robert

Jessel, Toby

Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey

Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)

Jones, Robert B (Herts W)

Jopling, Rt Hon Michael

Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine

Key, Robert

Kilfedder, James

King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)

Kirkhope, Timothy

Knapman, Roger

Knight, Greg (Derby North)

Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)

Knowles, Michael

Knox, David

Lang, Ian

Latham, Michael

Lawrence, Ivan

Lee, John (Pendle)

Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)

Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark

Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)

Lightbown, David

Lilley, Peter

Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)

Lord, Michael

Luce, Rt Hon Richard

Lyell, Sir Nicholas

MacGregor, Rt Hon John

MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)

Maclean, David

McLoughlin, Patrick

McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael

McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick

Madel, David

Malins, Humfrey

Mans, Keith

Maples, John

Marland, Paul

Marshall, John (Hendon S)

Marshall, Michael (Arundel)

Martin, David (Portsmouth S)

Mates, Michael

Mawhinney, Dr Brian

Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin

Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick

Meyer, Sir Anthony

Mills, Iain

Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)

Mitchell, Sir David

Moate, Roger

Monro, Sir Hector

Montgomery, Sir Fergus

Morris, M (N'hampton S)

Morrison, Sir Charles

Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)

Moynihan, Hon Colin

Mudd, David

Neale, Gerrard

Nelson, Anthony

Neubert, Michael

Newton, Rt Hon Tony

Nicholls, Patrick

Nicholson, David (Taunton)

Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)

Norris, Steve

Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley

Oppenheim, Phillip

Page, Richard

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