Previous Section Home Page

Mr. Anthony Coombs (Wyre Forest) : If the hon. Lady is arguing that many grant-maintained schools are effectively opting into central Government control, may I ask her to square that with the remarks of her predecessor, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw)--a quite intelligent Labour Front-Bench spokesman--who said in June 1992 that parents and governors might feel bound to make decisions about what was best for their schools and that Labour must not appear to be in opposition to those parents? If parents feel that they can take more control of decisions relating to their schools, they cannot feel that they are opting into control by central Government.

Mrs. Taylor : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that point. While I do not recall him praising my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) when he was shadow Secretary of State, I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept the praise retrospectively. There have been occasions when parents have suggested that a school should become grant maintained to protect its comprehensive nature. I believe that some parents will take that course, and I shall appreciate their concern in view of the selection that is being introduced.

Ms. Armstrong : My hon. Friend may recall that I was a member of the Labour education team at the time to which the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) referred. We were then particularly referring to parents in Kent, Tory Wandsworth and other Conservative authorities where schools were being starved and were having imposed on them a system of education that they did not want. Therefore, in order to preserve the strength of comprehensive education, which they wanted their

Column 166

children to continue to enjoy, we said that perhaps we had to allow them to make that choice. The Tories were not allowing them any decisions or any choice over the future education of their children. 5 pm

Mr. Pawsey : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know that it would not be the intention of the hon. Member for Durham, North West (Ms. Armstrong) to mislead the House in any way. We recognise that she is a person of integrity, but I fear that, inadvertently, she has not entirely answered the point.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse) : That is not a point of order for me.

Mr. Pawsey : I have in my possession a copy of the press release that was published at the time. It is headed

"Labour publishes new advice on opting-out."

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that that is not a point of order for the Chair.

Mrs. Taylor : I think that my--

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea) rose--

Mrs. Taylor : I will give way to the hon. Gentleman later, but I am answering the point first. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are working to a guillotine, because his Government have limited the time for discussion of this Bill.

When the White Paper was published, followed by the Bill, many people outside the House expressed concern at the centralisation of decision making in education. There are now many people whose anxiety has increased as the Bill has gone through Committee and the Secretary of State has taken more powers to himself.

Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham) : My hon. Friend will agree with me that from the beginning of this debate it has been clear that the Bill has nothing to do with standards. It is designed to centralise education and obliterate local education authorities. That has been the main aim of the Bill from the first day.

Mrs. Taylor : My hon. Friend is right. Sometimes Ministers have been honest about that, and sometimes they have tried to disguise that purpose. I think that it is true to say that Conservative councillors involved in education, as well as Labour councillors and those from other parties, are desperately concerned about the power that the Secretary of State has already, the way in which he uses that power and the constant interference in education by Ministers. I believe that their concern would increase were the Government to get their way and add the new clause to the Bill.

Mr. Pawsey : I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way. I seek merely to correct an impression that might otherwise mislead the House. I have in my possession the press notice that was issued by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). It is headed : "Labour publishes new advice on opting-out."

The date is 10 June 1992 and the relevant section is :

"it must be recognised that local circumstances will vary. The community of schools is under threat of being broken up, but parents and governors may feel bound to make decisions

Column 167

about what they think is best for their school. Labour must not appear to be placed in a hostile position of opposition to such parents.."

That is the relevant issue.

Mrs. Taylor : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for confirming what my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstong) said ; that that was in relation to Kent and Wandsworth. I remind the hon. Gentleman that the majority of schools that have opted out have been in Conservative-controlled authorities. The Secretary of State who introduced the original legislation said that he expected opt-out to take place in areas where there were poor local authorities and parents wanted to escape from them. It is very evident that, if that is the reasoning behind opting out, it is in Tory areas that there is the greatest level of dissatisfaction.

Mr. Bowis rose --

Mrs. Taylor : No, I must carry on. Hon. Members will complain if I do not draw my remarks to a close.

There was a great deal of concern when Ministers first decided to take these extra powers. The Association of County Councils, which is a Conservative-dominated body, called it a constitutional Bill and expressed its alarm ; the Churches expressed their concern at the extra powers that the Secretary of State was taking ; and even the Conservative Education Association talked about the Secretary of State trying to nationalise our schools, and said that the Bill proposed a frightening over-centralisation of power in the hands of the Secretary of State. And that was before this new clause was introduced.

No Secretary of State should be, or should try to be, all-powerful in education. No Secretary of State--not even a Labour one--has a monopoly of wisdom. I am disappointed that the Secretary of State does not share his Prime Minister's commitment to having a partnership between central and local government. Just as the delivery of education at school level is best achieved by a proper partnership between parents and teachers, so the structure of education in this country would be best achieved by a partnership between central and local government.

Ministers are not interested in partnership. This Secretary of State wants to grab all powers to himself. That cannot be the way forward, and for that reason we oppose these proposals.

Mr. Bowis : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether it is in order to respond to this first debate, as the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman just has, without referring to amendment (b) standing in her name. There has been no reference to any Labour policy on this measure.

Mrs. Taylor : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I not only sought to move that amendment, but asked the Secretary of State what his response would be. I spelt out very clearly the principle of equity established in our amendment. I hope that the hon. Gentleman's interest in that amendment means that he will vote for it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : That has answered the point of order.

Column 168

Mr. Harry Greenway : I have listened to my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) with great interest. Each seemed to me to seek to use party political and national history to illustrate their versions of events and their views on what ought to be happening in education in this country.

For my money, my right hon. Friend is going in the right direction. The central reason for that is the promotion of the theme of independence and of choice and diversity in education. One is bound, looking at the matter historically, to compare that with the Labour party's record. As the Bible says, by their deeds ye shall know them. I always remember that when I pay attention to the Labour party. One never wants to listen to what Labour party supporters say ; one must watch what they do.

This is the party that produced circular 10/66, which said that we would have a unitary system of education ; we would abolish all grammar schools, independent schools, single sex schools, and all the rest. We would have one form of secondary education--comprehensive. There is a lot to be said for that system--I worked in it for well over 20 years--but to say that everything else must be jettisoned simply for this unitary form of education was preposterous.

Mr. Mike Hall (Warrington, South) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Greenway : I intend to be very brief, but I will give way once.

Mr. Hall : Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that circulars 10/65 and 10/66 were advice by the Department of Education to local authorities, and that it was up to the latter to determine whether it was carried out?

Mr. Greenway : Yes, but "advice" in inverted commas. It was very heavy advice, and local authorities knew very well that they had to observe it. [Interruption.] I was in schools, and I know very well what the pressure was. I suppose that I was working for the most socialist authority in the country--the Inner London education authority. Its response was to get rid of every grammar and voluntary school. I remember hearing the chairman of the schools sub-committee of ILEA, Mrs. Irene Chaplin, tell the heads of all voluntary-aided schools, "We're going to do you." What did she mean? She intended to get rid of them.

ILEA intended to get rid of all diversity in education in London, and it produced the London plan, which aimed to produce 97 comprehensive schools out of all the secondary modern, grammar, and technical schools, many of which were so excellent. Why did ILEA do so? It was a response to heavy "advice" from the Labour Government, who wanted identical education for all children in secondary schools. Their aim was to achieve a unique socialist child or protege . Comprehensive schools were designed not to give children an education for life, but to produce socialists.

Mr. Bowis : My hon. Friend has heard the Opposition pay lip service to local accountability today. Does he recall what happened when local education authorities voted to oppose central Government diktat? Does he recall what happened every time that parents, teachers and schools sought to oppose it? They were overruled.

Mr. Greenway : There is no doubt that the Labour party's education record has been highly authoritarian,

Column 169

and that it never encouraged schools to have an individual approach. The proposal of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will ensure, by law, that schools may have such an approach in future, and I warmly welcome it.

Freedom and choice in schools are essential. The Labour party has argued that the Bill will centralise education, but it could not be more wrong. Every secondary school in my constituency is, or is on the way to being, grant maintained, and they choose that route by first balloting parents of children at the school. What could be more democratic?

Mr. Hall : What is the local authority?

Mr. Greenway : When the ballot was set up at the school attended by the children of the former Leader of the Opposition, the then Labour- controlled Ealing council sent in all the heavies--

Mr. Patten : There was intimidation.

Mr. Greenway : Yes, there was tremendous intimidation. The council sent in the education officer, the deputy education officer and the chairman of the education committee, whose father is the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn)--every heavy that one could think of--to pressurise the parents against voting to make Drayton Manor high school grant maintained ; but the parents fought it and took a democratic decision. They threw off Labour party pressure to go grant maintained. The debate was long and lasted many months, but the ballot could not have been more democratic or more decisive, which was a slap in the face to local socialists, to the then Leader of the Opposition and to the Labour party.

First, parents are balloted ; secondly, the Bill will ensure that grant- maintained schools and many of those with local management, which all schools will soon have, will take decisions locally. How was it done in the long days of Labour Governments? One could not take decisions locally then. My last school, which was built by the Labour-controlled ILEA--before that it was the London county council--had five gymnasiums, and they all leaked. How long did it take for the roofs to be repaired? First, I had to contact the local education authority's architects department, and after six months it sent for the GLC architects. When they could not come, they sent in contractors. After a couple of years, the job was put out to contract, and eventually the leaks were repaired. Grant-maintained schools will be able to call in builders to fix leaks the day after they occur. Such independence is a great improvement and will be of tremendous value to schools.

Finally, giving independence to schools, which the Bill once enacted will do through new clause 22, will grant them a crucial decision-making power over how to spend their cash. For example, Northholt high school has decided to change from local authority cleaners to a cleaning company, which saves £70,000. That money has gone towards more teachers, pens, pencils, rubbers, books and all the rest, and that was a local decision.

Mr. Nick Hawkins (Blackpool, South) : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the most important advantages of new clause 22, once it becomes law, will be that schools will have the opportunity to spend money on building improvements? For example, in my constituency the Labour-controlled local authority is insisting that a school

Column 170

should install another old terrapin building, when the governors and the head teacher know that they could get a new, brick-built classroom for less.

Mr. Greenway : My hon. Friend has such a good argument. I cannot understand why Opposition Members do not accept the arguments for independence and freedom put forward by Conservative Members to involve the local community, whether parents with children at the school or well- wishers, such as pensioners who enjoy attending school functions and others near the schools. They will become more involved, schools will improve and the children will benefit. Surely that is what it is all about.

The reorganisation of London schools wasted between 10 and 20 years, and children's education suffered grievously. That must never happen again, and it will not under the Bill.

5.15 pm

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) : First, I join the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) in welcoming the Secretary of State to the debate. We are all delighted that he will at last join our detailed discussion of the Bill, for which he claims personal responsibility. Many hon. Members will have seen the press release of new clause 22 put out by the Secretary of State, which explicitly stated that the new clause was being tabled because schools are in the driving seat. Those of us who have studied the changes in legislation in recent years will know that that is being economical with the truth. The reality is that the Secretary of State is firmly in the driving seat. He has closed the doors of his vehicle so that he cannot hear what anyone else is saying, save for those few who have decided to get in with him. The Secretary of State has determined the direction and the route that will be taken, and many people are concerned about that. The new clause states :

"The Secretary of State shall exercise his powers in respect of those bodies in receipt of public funds".

I hope that that means that local education authorities will be included in the list.

Mr. Patten indicated assent.

Mr. Foster : I see that the Secretary of State nods. I know that many hon. Members fear for the long-term future of local education authorities because of the hammer blows that the Government have dealt them.

The new funding authorities established through this legislation will also be included in the list. My problem is that I do not understand--and it has not been explained to me in a way that I can understand--how the Secretary of State will exercise his powers through those two bodies. He was not with us when we debated this issue in Committee, but perhaps I can remind him that, in respect of the working relationship between LEA and the funding authorities, he said :

"There will be two bodies--the LEA and the funding agency--with parallel but not shared responsibilities."--[ Official Report, 9 November 1992 ; Vol. 213, c. 635.]

Some of us did not understand that and, in Committee, we pressed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools to explain it. At one point, he said :

"We have no difficulty accepting the concept of shared responsibility"-- [ Official Report, Standing Committee E, 1 December 1992 ; c. 391.]

He was already beginning to contradict the Secretary of State.

Column 171

Finally, in what the Under-Secretary called his definitive explanation, he said in Committee :

"there is shared responsibility exercised by parallel duties."--[ Official Report, Standing Committee E, 8 December 1992 ; c. 517.] I hope that the Secretary of State will take particular note of that, as it directly contradicts his statement. None of us really understood what that meant, so we have grave reservations about new clause 22(2), which states that the Secretary of State will exercise his powers

"in respect of those bodies in receipt of public funds". What is even more worrying about the new clause is the way in which subsection (3) is significantly infused with Tory party dogma. It refers to the Secretary of State exercising his powers "with a view, among other things, to improving standards, encouraging diversity and increasing opportunities for choice." Those words are harmless enough on the face of it, but given what we have come to know the Secretary of State to mean by them, they are extremely destructive in his hands. Many hon. Members will have noticed that, when the right hon. Gentleman introduced the new clause, he did not quote those words precisely ; he put it rather differently and spoke about the power to improve standards, mainly through encouraging diversity and increasing choice. That reinforces my point about the new clause representing Conservative party dogma. When the Secretary of State talks about improving standards, he fails to do so in the way that most of us consider to be vital--by making a significant improvement to the resources available to our schools. When the Secretary of State talks about judging standards, as he did in the debate about the key stage 3 English standard assessment task, the SAT, he is talking about simplistic paper and pencil tests. The right hon. Gentleman may talk about encouraging diversity, but many of us are increasingly concerned that what he means is the back-door introduction of selection by ability. The decision on Southlands girls school reinforces our concern. The Secretary of State's concept of choice is different from that understood by many others. It is therefore surprising that he introduced a new clause that included the word "choice", especially when the Under-Secretary has accepted that that word is inappropriate. It was the right hon. Gentleman's own Minister who referred back to the words contained within the right hon. Gentleman's White Paper, which explained that parents had the ability "to express a preference" for a school. Many of us know that the choice of school is not available to the vast majority of parents.

Mrs. Ann Taylor : On the question of choice, is the hon. Gentleman aware of the situation in Hillingdon, where many of the secondary schools became grant maintained, and where, as a result, a smaller proportion of parents are now getting their first choice of secondary school for their children than under the old system?

Mr. Foster : The hon. Lady has illustrated the concern that many of us feel about the concept of choice, as used by the Secretary of State and his colleagues on the Conservative Benches, which is merely rhetoric. It is not borne out by the options available to parents.

Column 172

The hon. Member for Crosby (Sir. M. Thornton) is even more trenchant than I have been in his criticism of the use of the word "choice". I should remind the Secretary of State that that hon. Gentleman said :

"To be told that you have the freedom to choose is a sick joke when the only choice is between losing teachers or slashing an already reduced sum for capitation."

The Secretary of State may talk about choice, but he still refuses to allow legislation to be introduced that would enable future generations of parents to have the option to allow their children's schools to opt out of grant-maintained status and back into LEA control.

In Committee, we discovered that one of the reasons that we were there was for the Secretary of State--or in his absence, the Under-Secretary--to explain their thinking behind the Bill. The words of the new clause may seem fine, but when we analyse the underlying principle and what it would mean if it rested in the hands of the Secretary of State, we must all be extremely concerned.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes) : I welcome the new clause. I cannot think of anyone in whose hands those powers and responsibilities would be better placed than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I have one slight proviso : I hope that they will always rest in such good hands, because I am a little worried that, at some point in the future, improving standards may not be part of the picture. On Second Reading and in Committee there was little mention of nursery education and I should like to spend a few moments considering it. Evidence has been gained from this country and many others of the effectiveness of early education. In countries where children have access to good-quality pre-school education the evidence suggests that they have an advantage when starting school. They score higher marks in the SATs at the age of seven and do better at school at the age of 10 on a variety of scores.

In the United States, research has revealed the long-term benefits of nursery education, which include a reduced likelihood of delinquency in later years--that is of particular importance in the light of recent events in this country and the statement made by the Home Secretary only this afternoon. That research also revealed that nursery education resulted in fewer referrals to special education schools and fewer unwanted teenage pregnancies and that children went on to enjoy happier marriages and a better job life than those who did not benefit from such education. One report of particular importance, bearing in mind that it covered two departments, revealed that for every dollar spent, $4.30 was saved. It is important, therefore, to appreciate that nursery education is a question not merely for the Treasury, but for policy decision.

In Committee, the Under-Secretary rejected amendment No. 83 because he said that it was unnecessary and pointless. It had been moved by the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mrs. Prentice), who made an extremely good speech ; I endorse much of what she said. The Under-Secretary was good enough to accept amendment No. 105, which added a reference to nursery schooling to schedule 2.

The Minister also referred to the Education Acts of 1944 and 1980 and he correctly pointed out that neither required previous or future funding of nursery education--more's the pity, to my mind. Many LEAs, however, provide such education now and I believe that many more should be encouraged to do so.

Column 173

The new clause establishes the Secretary of State's responsibility for, and powers over, the conduct of all educational institutions in England and Wales that receive public funding. I am sure that he would want to clarify how the provision for nursery schooling will be made in the future. That raises two questions, the first of which relates to the general level of funding for nursery education. There is certainly a lack of clarity about the Government's future funding policy for it.

I should like increased resources for nursery education, and have argued about the effectiveness of such expenditure, both earlier in my speech and on previous occasions. However, my immediate concern is to ensure both a continuing commitment to nursery education and that expenditure is maintained, at least at current levels. That is one way forward.

5.30 pm

There are three other possible ways forward. The first is to earmark funding for services for children under five at both central and local government level. The second way is to accept the longer-term need for increased spending on nursery education and reflect that in increased standard spending assessments. The third way is to make provision statutory or to return to the pre-1980 position, where local authorities had a duty to provide nursery education, with additional resourcing as required. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State or my hon. Friend the Minister will clarify the position.

In Committee, my hon. Friend the Minister said that the Government did not intend :

"that the duty of the funding agency of the schools funding council for Wales to secure sufficient school places should include a duty to secure nursery places. The LEA's duty under section 8 of the Education Act 1944, to which the duty of the funding authority is linked in paragraph 3(3) and (5) of schedule 2, does not include a duty to secure sufficient nursery places--it is not the intention that the funding agency or the funding council should cover nursery education. However, if on further reflection we believe that that may be the case, we shall return to it at a later stage."

I hope that there is a promise hanging there. My hon. Friend continued :

"if a school with full-time nursery provision becomes grant-maintained it will be funded in total by the funding agency for schools. That will not be so if the school offers only part-time provision."-- [Official Report, Standing Committee E, 3 December 1992 ; c. 483-84.]

Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am a little concerned about to which of the Government's new clauses or amendments the hon. Gentleman is speaking. I think that many Opposition Members will endorse what he is saying about nursery education, but we fail to see the relevance of his speech now.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : The scope of the new clause is wide, and it refers to nursery education. The hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) is in order : if he were not, I should have ruled him out of order.

Mr. Rathbone : The subject could not be more pertinent, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is taking on more and more responsibility for the funding. We are discussing an important point of principle as well as a point of practice. I hope that I have illustrated by the two quotations that I gave from my hon. Friend the Minister

Column 174

that there appears to be an inherent tension between the two extracts, particularly since some definitions of full time might include the majority of nursery provision.

The proposals on the common funding formula are currently out for consultation. There still appears to be some confusion over what constitutes full-time provision and what constitutes part-time provision. In a recent High Court case--I believe that it involved Lewisham--it was contended that nursery education was provided on a daily basis. Even if it was provided for only a part of each day or if pupils attended only part time, that constituted full-time provision. It appears that full-time, but not part-time, nursery education will be funded by the funding agency, with the cost to be recovered from the LEA.

There are five possible policies, and I seek clarification from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about which policy, or which combination of policies, will be adopted.

Mr. Steinberg : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a great danger that if a local education authority, particularly a Conservative one, finds that its schools have opted out and it no longer controls education in its area other than nursery education, that authority might provide no nursery education? It could be that the only local authorities providing nursery provision will be those controlled by the Labour party, which already has an excellent record on nursery provision.

Mr. Rathbone : I certainly agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is a risk of that happening. However, his comments about Conservative- controlled education authorities is incorrect. He need only to refer to the Hansard Committee report to see the clear description of the marvellous job done by the Conservative authority in Wandsworth.

To return to my first points : first, clarification is needed on the role of the funding agency and the funding council for Wales in relation to nursery education. Secondly, if grant-maintained schools, through the funding agency, are to be funded for full-time nursery education, clarification is needed about what constitutes full-time provision and what constitutes part-time provision in respect of the common funding formula.

Thirdly, if the funding agency is to be responsible for funding nursery education, it will be important to ensure that its membership includes at least one experienced early teaching specialist. Fourthly, and crucially, there is a need to safeguard the ability of the LEA to locate nursery provision where it is most needed. If grant-maintained schools are able to demand new nurseries, local education authorities will effectively have to fund those by losing money from their standard spending assessment, which will be re-routed through the funding agency to the grant-maintained school. That would have an impact on the LEA's ability to fund its own nurseries on a continuing basis.

Fifthly, the Bill enables the Secretary of State to require inter-authority recoupment on under-five pre-school provision. I hope that he will use that provision. I should welcome clarification on those matters.

Mr. Enright : The Secretary of State said that the Bill was of straightforward simplicity, but that phrase should be properly interpreted. It is a Bill of downright naivety,

Column 175

which illustrates the Government's problems as they panic instead of considering and understanding the causes of anxiety, and acting to resolve them.

I took the trouble to look at the Government's history on education Acts. There was the Education Act 1979, the Education Act 1980, the Education Act 1981, and further legislation on education in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985, but the Government still did not have it right. Therefore, in 1986 they introduced three education Bills that became the Education Act 1986, the Education (Amendment) Act 1986 and the Education (No. 2) Act 1986--

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Mr. Eric Forth) : There is a consistency

Mr. Enright : The Government were not consistent as, thereafter, they gave up as there were a few other semi-important pieces of legislation such as the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the poll tax legislation. Therefore, we had a couple of years without anything until, in 1988, we had the great Education Reform Act, but still the Government had not got it right. They would have been far better advised to sit down in 1979 and appoint a royal commission on education so that we could find the best way forward.

The Secretary of State's problem is that he has no underlying philosophy or principles to guide him as to what should be done in education. The Secretary of State should be like Lochinvar leading forth the teachers and the educational world into a new age. Instead, he behaves much more like the first world war generals, who stayed behind and shot soldiers in the rear as they went forward. The Secretary of State cannot distinguish between tactics and strategy or between the purpose of war and the actions required to win the war. The Secretary of State referred to the 1944 Act, and gave me credit for new clause 22. I am grateful to him for that, but, alas, the words with which he chose to replace the 1944 Act were wrong, as, indeed, was his interpretation of the Act. The Secretary of State clearly said that it refers only to LEAs, but it does not. It refers to a tripartite arrangement between schools, local education authorities and the Secretary of State for Education. It is a tragedy that it was abolished. The 1944 Act showed that the authorities knew the distinction between being progressive and being effective, and they honed their weapons accordingly. They knew of the desire for the varied as well as for the comprehensive. They knew of the duty of a local education authority to stimulate the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of all pupils. All that is wiped out by new clause 22--tossed aside in an effort to satisfy the Secretary of State's megalomania.

New clause 22 emphasises and underlines the Secretary of State's power. He is to take to himself the task of monitoring standards. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) said that by their deeds shall ye know them. The Secretary of State is to monitor standards. What a track record he has, on the way in which English in particular has been introduced. It is absurd to suggest for one moment that illiteracy can be removed by looking at gobbets from "The Importance of Being Earnest". It is a means, but one must make sure that the proper resources are there.

Next Section

  Home Page