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Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West) : I raised on Second Reading the problem to which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Davidson) referred. It is one of the many problems that arise from this divisive Bill. Many children and many schools will face difficulties because the proposed new local education authority boundaries cut across the boundaries of many school catchment areas throughout Scotland.

As the Minister knows, I instanced the case of St. Modan's high school, which, although not in my constituency, serves the children of many of my constituents from Denny, Dennyloanhead, Dunipace and Banknock. The Minister may recall that I said to him that if the catchment area of a particular school were confined to the local education authority area in which that school was located, the very viability of many schools would be threatened. Certainly, the viability of maintaining the number of children in some upper school courses would be threatened. In some extreme cases, the very existence of schools could be threatened.

In a sense, the situation at St. Modan's high school in Stirling has been exacerbated by the Government's latest amendment. Under the original proposals, St. Modan's would have taken in children from two local education authority areas. Now, if Clackmannan is to be a local education authority in its own right, however, St. Modan's will take in children from three local education authority areas. As the Minister knows, there was initially a storm of protest from the rector of the school, the parent- teacher association and many individual parents. They were joined by parents of children in many other schools throughout

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Scotland, particularly but, I emphasise, not exclusively, parents who chose to send their children to Catholic schools. Some non-denominational schools were also affected because their catchment areas would straddle the new local education authority boundaries. The Minister will recall that lobby groups came down to Westminster and that parents, schools, the Scottish Catholic hierarchy and Scottish Catholic Education Commission sent a flood of correspondence to the Scottish Office about the matter. There was a general welcome, and relief, that there was at least some response from the Government in Committee, and the Bill has been amended to meet some of the concerns that were expressed by parents.

However, people are not exactly dancing in the streets about the amendments that were passed in Committee. There is certainly no complacency. We will still have to be vigilant to see how the arrangements work in practice with regard to statutory consultation between authorities, referral to the Secretary of State, the provision of school transport, and so on. There is certainly a general welcome for the Government's response in Committee, but it remains to be seen how the arrangements will work in practice. The Catholic Church representatives to whom I spoke were not concerned simply about children whose parents choose to send them to Catholic schools. Obviously, they have had discussions on the matter with their counterparts in the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopalian Church and churches of other denominations.

Certainly, the Catholic Church spokespersons who communicated with me were at pains to point out that they were not demanding any special privileges ; they simply wanted statutory protection of the rights that they already have. They do not want special privileges to be given to Catholic schools or any other denominational schools in Scotland. They believe that there should be statutory protection for the rights of all children and parents, regardless of the school to which parents choose to send their children in Scotland. New clause 4 seems to be an attempt to extend that protection of rights to parents who choose to send their children to non-denominational schools, as well as to those whose children go to denominational schools. I should like some specific answers from the Minister to some questions. How many schools are there in Scotland whose catchment areas will straddle the new local education authority boundaries ? How many of them are denominational schools ? What denominations are they ? How many of them are non-denominational ? How many are high schools or secondary schools, how many are primary schools and how many are special schools ?

I conclude by referring to special education and the needs of children who attend special schools. The school that I mentioned earlier--St. Modan's high school--is unique among Central region secondary schools with regard to this boundary problem. But within Central region, there are cases of children with special educational needs who travel from one part of the region to another. If the Government have their way on the carve-up of the Central region, it may well mean that children with special educational needs will have to be bussed from one local education authority area to another. What can the Minister tell us about the safeguards with regard to the number of schools in Scotland that will be affected and the number of pupils who will be affected ?

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What will be the practical implications of those safeguards which, I hope, will be provided in the Bill ? I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say on those matters.

Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie) : The Bill is yet another example of the Government's failure to think about local authorities and the needs of the people of Scotland. It was introduced for one particular reason, but the people of Scotland must now face its consequences.

Because of the Government's proposals on education, some catchment areas will be irrelevant or a nuisance to the new local authorities, while others will be created. As my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) said, currently, there are no catchment areas for those receiving special education, but, by heck, there will be in the future. Those children who crop up in penny packets with their own particular special needs will not be catered for by the small local authorities of the future.

The present Strathclyde authority provides Middlefield school for the education of aphasic children. I cannot imagine that the new authorities of Dumbarton or Clydebank will be that concerned about aphasic children, because they may not come across such a child within 10 years. It is essential, however, that someone accepts responsibility for them.

From the Minister's letters to me it is extraordinary to note his touching faith in co-operation and his urge to offer goodness and light to people. Despite that, we have the most conflict-ridden Government I have ever known, who do not believe in any kind co-operation. It will, therefore, be difficult for people to heed the Government's call to co-operate.

The new clause is important because, although the consequences of the new boundaries may cause problems for primary schools, those created for secondary education will be enormous. My hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West has already asked how many schools will be affected by the new boundaries.

In my constituency, I can think of two particular problems that will arise. Some time ago, secondary schools in Drumchapel had to shut down because of overcapacity. The loss of those schools was a painful process for the citizens of Drumchapel. Schools in Clydebank were asked to take the Catholic children of Drumchapel. St. Columba's and St. Andrew's schools in my constituency went through careful preparations to ensure that the difficult integration--in community terms--of the Drumchapel children with those of Clydebank went ahead successfully. That integration has worked extremely well. What will happen in the future as a result of the boundary proposals ? Will the children within the boundaries of the City of Glasgow council be told that will be expected to go to a Glasgow school and be taken away from the Clydebank school into which they had been integrated ? I am sure that the Minister has not even thought of that. Will a future Glasgow corporation or council look happily on the fact that, although it has space in its schools, it must pay Clydebank or Dumbarton authority for the education of the children in those authorities' schools ? I cannot see such an arrangement lasting for long.

The problems that I have described affect just one constituency on the boundary of the Glasgow, but I am sure that they are replicated everywhere. In the Milngavie end

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of my constituency, Catholic children from St. Joseph's currently go on to John Paul academy in Glasgow. In future, those children will be part of another authority, so will they be expected to go to Kirkintilloch for their education ? In future, a cash transaction will take place--all because a Government wanted to gerrymander boundaries. That is all. That is why the disruption will occur. I have regrets about supporting a further centralisation of power to the Secretary of State. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Davidson) intimated, I think that all Opposition Members regret that. Nevertheless, there is an anomaly.

The Government have responded to the pressure of the Catholic Church by introducing special measures to provide an extra assurance for Catholic children in Scotland. When the first school closure takes place, that will obviously cause sectarian tension. People will ask why Catholic children in Catholic schools have a built-in extra safeguard when there is no safeguard for non-denominational children.

Therefore, overcoming my squeamishness about further centralisation of power, I support the new clause.

4.15 pm

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray) : I shall briefly comment on the amendment, which I and my colleagues obviously support. It is especially appropriate that I follow the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), because he and I both taught at St. Modan's. In that previous existence, he was my boss at one stage. I eventually had responsibility in that school for children with special needs and I taught as a non-Roman Catholic in a Catholic school. I think that we wish to retain in our educational system the type of friendship and organisation that existed there.

I represent a constituency which is far removed from the central belt and the issue of non-denominational schools does not arise to the same extent. In my district, although there are primary schools that represent the Roman Catholic community, there is no Roman Catholic secondary school and the children move on directly to schools that do not have that religious attitude. That works extremely well. However, I recognise the importance that the Roman Catholic Church attaches to the continuation of its schools and of their ethos.

As someone who is trained in looking after the special needs of youngsters, I hope that the Government recognise the anxieties that are expressed by many people who believe that children's special needs should be met in their districts and communities. The problems that are created for the families of such children are exacerbated if they have to move far from their original communities.

Therefore, I hope that the Minister--I believe that he shares our worries-- will ensure that the Bill makes it clear that children's special needs will be recognised in all areas of Scotland, thereby preventing the problem of children being sent vast distances to meet their educational needs.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East) : As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Davidson) said, it is important to place the problem of the new local government boundaries cutting across the catchment areas of exiting schools against the background of the financial pressures from the Government under which the new single-tier authorities will find themselves --there is no doubt anywhere in Scotland about that.

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The Minister in the Scottish Office with responsibility for education and housing sent me a copy of the letter that he sent to Archbishop O'Brien on 4 February, in which he said :

"the existing arrangements for distributing resources between authorities should continue to apply after"

local government

"re-organisation, although the distribution will of course be driven by assessments of need in each area derived by The Scottish Office".

Everyone knows that the Scottish Office assessment of the need for secondary school places in different parts of Scotland is that there is an excess of places in secondary schools throughout Scotland and that it expects the move to single-tier authorities to result in a decrease in secondary school places and, thus, school closures throughout Scotland. That is no secret.

Dundee will be left with 12 secondary schools within the city boundaries, to be supported by a population of just 150,000. The Government obviously expect the new authority in Dundee, whoever happens to control it, to make savings by closing a number of places currently available to kids in Dundee. Of those 12 secondary schools, at one end of the spectrum we have the Harris academy, the Morgan academy and Menzieshill high school, which have a high number of pupils. At the other end of the spectrum, we have schools such as Linlathen and Rockwell, with only 352 and 533 pupils respectively. Pressure will be placed on the new authority to close schools that are sometimes two thirds empty. In those circumstances, the authority will look for any way in which to make savings.

In Committee, the Minister said that funding for individual pupils will follow those pupils wherever they happen to go. If, in addition to the pressure already on the new authority to close schools in Dundee, the authority is then expected to save the money that would have funded pupils attending schools in its area and to fund pupils who cross the boundary to attend schools in a neighbouring area, it may find the position intolerable.

The Minister knows that I am referring to Monifieth academy, one of whose main feeder primary schools will remain in the Dundee area while Monifieth academy will be in the Angus area. Will the new education authority in Dundee council be obliged to allow pupils who currently attend Barnhill primary school in Dundee to cross the boundary into Angus and be educated at Monifieth academy, or could it say that it is not prepared to fund pupils to attend a school in another area ? Could it simply redraw the catchment area for the local Grove academy in Dundee and insist that children who have attended Barnhill primary school must attend Grove rather than Monifieth academy ? That is a critical consideration.

What obligations will be placed on the council in those circumstances ? Could the council simply say, "Kids from Dundee can no longer attend the school in Angus. We are not prepared to fund it. We shall keep all the resources available to us within the Dundee boundaries and insist that Dundee children attend Dundee secondary schools" ? If the council does not have the power to do that, in addition to closing its own schools, it will have to fund some of the children to attend schools across the boundary in another authority area. if the council can insist that children stay within Dundee, the future of Monifieth academy will not be good because it will lose a substantial number of its present school population.

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I want the Minister to be absolutely clear about the position between the two authorities, Angus and Dundee, and about attendance at the school in Angus by pupils currently living in Dundee, whose catchment areas may be redesignated to focus on schools in the Dundee area.

Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East) : I hope to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to discuss special education. There is a much larger debate to be had on that subject, given the Government's failure to respond to the concerns of Enable and other organisations that deal with those with special educational needs, which were raised in Committee.

People in central Scotland face considerable problems now that the Government have been silly enough to proceed with the three council solution, with Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk as separate districts. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), I have spoken to the headmasters of St. Modan's school in Stirling, Mr. John Oates, and of St. Mungo's academy in Falkirk, Mr. Hugh Lynch. The academy is in my constituency. The result of the Government's proposal is that 60 per cent. of pupils who now attend St. Modan's will not live within the catchment area of the new local authority, which will be a major problem.

The people of Falkirk district, who are keen to have their own unitary authority to look after their citizens, will be asked to levy taxation locally to maintain the infrastructure of a school in a neighbouring local authority. Given the substantial cost of the reorganisation, they will doubtless be pressed to find the resources to look after the infrastructure of their own schools. Clearly, that will not work, cannot be sustained in the long term and cannot be justified. It is the disease within the Bill, which is driven by boundary considerations and the Government's malice. Eventually, it will weaken the educational provision within St. Modan's, cause cancerous growths in the education system within Falkirk district and kill the educational provision that the people deserve. The Government should have thought of that when they introduced the Bill. They are out to wreck education--maybe unknowingly. As I said in Committee,

"Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do." In the case of this Minister, that may be true.

Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North) : I am not an expert on the Bill. Indeed, in the best traditions of Parliament, it was brought to my attention by constituents. Ministers and the Conservative party in Scotland grossly underestimate the feeling among ordinary men and women about the provisions in this part of the Bill.

I shall first refer to the main problem--the slicing in half of catchment areas. The two most important educational institutions in Scotland--the secondary schools and the primary schools--were physically, geographically and demographically put in place over a period of 25 years, on the basis of existing catchment areas. They were built and structured to service those catchment areas, which are suddenly being slashed, sliced or cut away. I am glad that the Government made their concession, particularly with regard to Roman Catholic schools, but stopping at half the truth is often like telling a whole lie. Half measures are often worse than nothing at all.

I fear that, by trying to go halfway towards meeting the problem of catchment areas and the concern of parents--particularly because of circumstances among Roman

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Catholics--the Government have left to simmer a potential cause of resentment among people whose children go to non-denominational schools. There will come a time when, because of a school closure, because a particular school is full or because of a lack of parental choice, people who want their sons and daughters to go to a non- denominational school will be filled with resentment. They will blame the Government and ask the simple question, "Why have safeguards given to one section of the community not been delivered to the rest ?"

Concern about the issue was expressed to me in my constituency on a bright Friday night when most reasonable people would have wanted to do something other than attend a meeting in a public hall and listen to their Member of Parliament. On that occasion, more than 400 parents turned up because they were concerned that, after decades, their children would no longer be able to go to Uddingston grammar school. The three feeder schools that have traditionally looked to that grammar school, which is only three miles away, will find themselves, as a result of the Government's proposals, split from it. The children will have to go to another school.

Although that school is only slightly further away, traditionally, those parents would want their children to go to it. When the practical effects of the Bill are felt, the parents of the children going to those three non- denominational schools and wishing to go to Uddingston grammar will demand to know why they do not enjoy the concessions that were given to other parents.

Two brief points arise from that situation. The parents will not only resent the move in the long term but take action now to redirect their children from one feeder primary to another. It is well known that Bellshill academy, which is one of the alternatives to Uddingston grammar, will not be able to cope with the intake from all three primary schools. In other words, the children from one or two of them will be able, even after the introduction of the new catchment areas, to go to the traditional school.

I predict that, over the next year or so, parents will move their children from the primary school that they anticipate will feed Bellshill to one that they anticipate will continue to feed Uddingston grammar. As a result, one of the primary schools will appear on the records as having children disappearing from its roll like snow off a dike. The head teacher will be blameless, and the school will be blameless. I know that it is a marvellous school, but the head teacher and the school's board will find that, because of the insecurity created by the changes and because they are anticipating how to get round them, people will move their children away.

I ask the Minister even at this late stage to do what we have been asking him to do all along--preserve the catchment areas that already exist for all schools and all parents. If he does not, the freedom of choice that he likes to speak about will be theoretical, not practical. He knows that, although a theoretical freedom will obtain, the practical compulsion of a lack of finance for local authorities will mean that they fill first their own schools, not the schools that have traditionally been in their catchment areas, which will be separated from them by the new boundaries.

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4.30 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) : I am glad to respond to the debate, and especially to the important points about special educational needs. I am glad to confirm that the Secretary of State has the powers to ensure that the necessary duties in this connection are carried out by education authorities. Those duties are set out in section 1 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, which requires every education authority to ensure that there is made for its area adequate and efficient provision of school education and further education. That obviously covers all special educational needs.

A failure to fulfil that duty could bring about complaints under section 70 of the 1980 Act : the default provisions. They provide a mechanism by which the Secretary of State can, by order, require an authority to discharge the necessary duty. Accordingly, section 70 provides an opportunity, in extremis, for the Secretary of State to intervene where and when he considers that an authority has failed to discharge the necessary duty under the Act.

Mrs. Ewing : Is the Minister satisfied that records of needs are being dealt with adequately and within the necessary time in the education system ?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The hon. Lady asks a relevant question. Each new education authority, under the 1980 Act, will have responsibility for identifying and assessing children who require records of needs and for providing for their special educational needs as identified and recorded. I can confirm that no record of needs will be affected by the reform and the terms and obligations that the Act places on education authorities will continue in full force.

Amendments Nos. 99 to 102 relate to clause 140. As we have said, it is not the intention of the Scottish Office to diminish or change the statutory provisions governing Catholic education in Scotland. The purpose of clause 140, which was introduced in Committee, is to clarify the arrangements under which certain changes proposed by an authority which would affect denominational schools would have to be referred to the Secretary of State for his consent. It was intended to ensure that the interests of all the children affected by a relevant proposal were taken into account.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Davidson) referred to equity. With that thought in mind when reflecting on the terms of clause 140, we came to the view that changes were necessary to the original wording. The intention was to move from a comparison between the denominational and non- denominational schools provided by a given authority to a comparison between the denominational and non-denominational education available for pupils belonging to a given authority's area, regardless of which authority managed the schools.

In layman's language, that means that if a school's catchment area is proposed for a change, it can be compared with all available schools nearby, thus widening the interpretation. I believe that that meets the point made in this regard in Committee.

The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) asked a question to which I should like to reply next. Where there are proposals for catchment areas, those catchment areas will remain in place unless and until authorities seek to change them. Before that can happen,

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certain statutory procedures have to be gone through, including extensive consultation with parents and others. In certain cases, the consent of the Secretary of State for Scotland must be obtained. Incidentally, the 80 per cent. rule means that any school that is more than 80 per cent. full will automatically be referred. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr.McAllion) asked about the parents' choice provisions. Where a school has room to take the pupils, under the parents' choice legislation, it is obliged to do so. In certain cases, where a school is 15 per cent. full or mostly empty, there may be a case for rationalisation. That will be the same in future as it has been in the past, but full consultation would have to take place.

The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) asked for the numbers of schools. The Department does not at present have details on record of all school catchment areas or similar arrangements with particular secondary schools. Central Government involvement in the maps and schemes of educational provision ended 15 years ago ; those are now the responsibility of local authorities. However, where the Department requires details--for example where particular issues are raised with it, or for school inspection purposes--it can establish them with the help of the education authorities.

Mr. Canavan : That is a disgraceful admission by the Minister. He has known of the existence of the problem for six months or more. Enormous pressure has been put on the Government through letter writing, parliamentary representations, lobbies of Parliament and meetings with the Minister and he is telling us now that not only is the solution very conditional, but he does not even know the magnitude of the problem. Only the Government have the responsibility for the problem and the resources to quantify it by contacting all the local education authorities in Scotland. The Minister is now admitting that he has not even bothered do his homework before replying to the House. It is a disgrace.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : It is not as simple as the hon. Gentleman suggests. I explained fully in Standing Committee that the reason for it was the non-co-operation of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. If the hon. Gentleman wants that information provided more readily, he should encourage local authorities to co-operate with the provision of information. Of course, if necessary, the Scottish Office will do it, but it is better that a job should be done by the local authorities as arranged under the 1980 Act, and that the information should be forthcoming. If the hon. Gentleman has a particular request in relation to a particular school, that matter can be followed up.

Mr. Canavan : Will the Minister give way ?

Lord James Douglas Hamilton : No. I have answered the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Canavan : It is on the same point.

Lord James Douglas Hamilton : I have answered the hon. Gentleman. He may not be satisfied with the answer, but that is the answer.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris) : Order.

Mr. Canavan : If I tabled a parliamentary question, would the Minister reply to it ?

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Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. When the Chair requests order, both sides should resume their seats.

Lord James Douglas Hamilton : I shall provide the information within my possession, but I have answered the hon. Gentleman. If I have to give a rough and ready estimate without confirmation, I shall say that I believe that the number will be under 100. Some have suggested that it will be 600, but I do not believe that it will anything like as large as that. That is a rough and ready estimate ; if the hon. Gentleman's tables a question I shall give as much information as I have available.

My first concern is that new clause 4 would result in almost any proposed change to a catchment area or almost any proposal by an authority to rationalise or reorganise its position having to be referred to the Secretary of State to assess whether his consent is necessary. Apparently, under the new clause as drafted, anyone at all can trigger that process by making representation. I find it hard to believe that Opposition Members really intend that local authorities should be so constrained. The whole thrust of the Bill is to give authorities greater flexibility, as I have made clear on a number of occasions. Indeed, in certain cases they may have to rationalise. My second point relates to the fact that Opposition Members may claim that new clause 4 is intended to give some non-denominational schools more protection ; but that would be to misunderstand the current position. I repeat that nothing in the Bill introduces new safeguards for denominational education.

Clauses 140 and 141 clarify the existing position. Clause 140 does not introduce a new safeguard. The intention behind it is to make certain that the interests of all the children affected by any relevant proposal will be taken into account in relation to denominational education. Clause 141 removes any doubt about whether an education authority would still have a duty under section 51 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Non- denominational schools will be no worse off as a result of the boundary changes. The safeguards that exist at present will continue to apply--I have already mentioned the 80 per cent. rule.

Thirdly, because the new clause would apply to all schools--both denominational and non-denominational--it would directly cut across existing safeguards for denominational schools. So the impact of new clause 4 would be to limit section 22D only to a proposal to change a denominational school into a non-denominational school. It would remove the right of the denominational body to be consulted about a proposed change in, for example, the catchment area of a denominational school.

The new clause takes no account of the arrangements to be made for the religious instruction of pupils in denominational schools which are currently set out in section 22D. It would require the consent of the Secretary of State, even if the denominational body agreed to the proposal. New clause 4 would be a substantial weakening of the existing safeguards and, for that reason, I cannot support it.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton) : The Minister brings to the Dispatch Box the old skill that I remember from my trade union official days : if one cannot convince, then confuse. He deploys that tactic with great skill, and has brought it to the debate today. However, he is unique

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in that he usually manages to confuse himself. His distance from officials today has meant that there has not been a constant stream of answers to questions.

The Minister said that clause 140 offers no new protection to denominational schools, but the reality is that it widens protection for denominational schools where their catchment areas are affected by the boundaries that have been created through the unnecessary reorganisation. That concession was obtained as a result of a massive public campaign by the churches in Scotland, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

I do not for a minute take away from the Roman Catholic Church's success in bringing its problems to the notice of hon. Members, but it was only one message that the Government received. In making the concession that is enshrined in clause 180, the Government have ignored the fact that all the churches in Scotland--the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland and the rest--gave the Government a united message about the danger to education as a whole posed by the reorganisation.

The Churches warned us about what would happen. They warned us about the fragmentation of existing local authorities in Scotland, and they were right to do so. They warned that there were implications for the standards of education in Scotland and that funding difficulties would follow, as day follows night, the fragmentation of local authorities that would occur as a result of the reorganisation. They warned us that there would be an inevitable reduction in the breadth and scale of education provision for people in Scotland as a result of creating small and, in many cases, non- viable local authorities. They said that those who would suffer most as a consequence were those who presently rely on the provision of special needs education across Scotland.

New clause 4 has nothing to do with sectarianism or creating difficulties for non-denominational or denominational schools. It is about equity ; it is about providing protection for

non-denominational schools, which will find their catchment areas sliced up arbitrarily by the reorganisation, in the same way as protection has been found for the denominational schools that brought their case to Parliament.

Rather than being enhanced by the reorganisation, education in Scotland will be endangered. The new clause is one way of drawing that fact to the attention of the Scottish people. Now is not the time to divide the House about the issue or the new clause, but the issue will remain because the concerns about Scottish education are alive and real. They are shared by the churches and the wider Scottish population. Nothing that the Minister says either to convince or to confuse will reassure people who have a genuine and well-justified fear that education is in danger.

Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central) : I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 5 --

Joint children's panels

123.-In Schedule 3 to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (Children's Panels), after paragraph 1 there shall be inserted "1A-(1) Two or more local authorities may make arrangements to form a joint Children's Panel for their areas.

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(2) A joint Children's Panel shall not be formed in pursuance of the arrangements made under sub-paragraph (1) above unless the authorities have obtained the consent in writing of the Secretary of State.

(3) The Secretary of State may give a direction to two or more local authorities requiring them to form a joint Children's Panel ; and the local authorities shall comply with any such direction. (4) The provisions of this Act shall apply, subject to any necessary modification, to a joint Children's Panel as they apply to a Children's Panel formed under paragraph 1 of this Schedule.".'.-- [Mr. McLeish.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) rose

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill) rose

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian) : She is in charge.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I do not think that that was a very helpful remark from the hon. Gentleman.

4.45 pm

Mrs. Fyfe : I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : With this we may discuss the following : New clause 6-- Reporters' Service --

.--(1) Subject to the provisions of this section the functions of existing local authorities immediately before 1st April 1996 to provide suitable accommodation and facilities for children's hearings under section 34 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and to appoint a reporter under section 36 of the said Act shall be carried out on and after that date by the councils established in terms of Part 1 of this Act.

(2) If it appears to the Secretary of State that the functions referred to in subsection (1) of this section of two or more authorities should be discharged jointly by those authorities, he may by order establish a joint board in accordance with this section. (3) The provisions of subsections (2) and (3) of section 62A of the 1973 Act shall apply to a joint board established under this section as they apply to a joint board established under this section with the substitution of a reference to subsection (2) of this section for the reference to subsection (1) of that section.

(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding subsection, the membership of the joint boards established under this section shall consist wholly of councillors elected to the authorities established under Part 1 of this Act within the areas of the joint boards.'. New clause 7-- Children's Panel Training

124.-In Schedule 3 to the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (Children's Panels), in paragraph 7, after "Each local authority", for "may" there shall be substituted "shall" ; and after "panel members" there shall be inserted "in accordance with such requirements as the Secretary of State may by order establish.".'. New clause 8-- Reporter's Service Charter

122.-In section 36 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 (the Reporter), after subsection (3) there shall be inserted

"(4) Each Reporter will produce a Charter relating to such issues as the Secretary of State may by order define, including statements of the standards of service and hearings accommodation which are to be provided, and implementing an effective complaints procedure to ensure these standards are met.".'

Government amendments Nos. 131 to 134 and 153.

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