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Mr. Gerald Howarth: The issue is not the terminology of beating, but the level of chastisement that is given, with sensitivity and love. If parents are not entitled to take discipline into account when choosing a school, should they be able to take into account other factors, such as a school's religious denomination? Independent schools provide a range of choice for parents. The Minister should respect that.

Ms Morris: I am sorry that I gave way. It was a huge mistake. I shall make progress rapidly. In his original speech, the hon. Gentleman said something along the lines of, given the amount of money that the parents pay, that is almost the least that they could expect. He did not progress with the argument that, the more they pay, the greater the beating. That is the issue in deciding whether to extend the prohibition into the independent sector.

24 Mar 1998 : Column 393

I can do no more than quote the chairman of the Independent Schools Council, Ian Beer, who said in the press release to which the hon. Member for Bath referred:


He speaks on behalf of the independent sector. I am happy to take his word for the fact that that sector is part of the nation's education system. In my view, the rules that the House has approved for the vast majority of children who are educated in the maintained schools should also apply to those who are educated in the independent sector.

We have made it clear that Labour Members have a free vote on the subject, and must follow their consciences. My conscience tells me clearly that I should vote for one of the new clauses, but I ask the hon. Member for Bath to withdraw his new clause and to support instead new clause 23, which is to be moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley.

Mr. Don Foster: The Minister referred to the debate a year ago, led by Mr. James Pawsey, who was then the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth.

Mr. Andy King (Rugby and Kenilworth): He lost. He was beaten badly.

Mr. Foster: Tonight's debate has been much more measured than last year's, and I shall finish by making four brief points.

The contribution by the hon. Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls) was measured, but in reply to his comments about our following Europe, I must explain that the reason for raising the fact that all other European countries have abolished corporal punishment--more than 200 years ago, in the case of Poland--was simply to give further evidence in support of the people who believe that it is not an effective form of punishment.

Child abuse has also been mentioned. In 1996, the national committee of inquiry into the prevention of child abuse said:


That is what the House will decide tonight.

Thirdly, as a follow-up to my observation that we were completing unfinished business, hon. Members may be interested to know that the first attempt to persuade the House to abolish corporal punishment in schools in this country took place as long ago as 1669, when a "lively boy" presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of the children of this nation to protest against


So many years since that petition was presented, I hope that tonight, at last, that lively boy's wishes will come true.

24 Mar 1998 : Column 394

I hope that the following quotation from Elizabeth I's schoolmaster, Roger Ascham, will sum up the feeling of most Members:


That, I think, is what the House believes.

I am convinced by the arguments of the hon. Member for Colne Valley and the Minister that, although our new clause 21 would have achieved our purpose, new clause 23 would do so even more effectively. I therefore hope that the House will give me leave to withdraw our new clause, in the hope that there will be an opportunity to vote instead for new clause 23 and the various amendments consequential upon it. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New clause 23

Abolition of corporal punishment in schools etc.


'.--(1) For section 548 of the Education Act 1996 there shall be substituted--
"No right to give corporal punishment
548.--(1) Corporal punishment given by, or on the authority of, a member of staff to a child--
(a) for whom education is provided, at any school, or
(b) for whom education is provided, otherwise than at school, under any arrangements made by a local education authority, or
(c) for whom specified nursery education is provided otherwise than at school,
cannot be justified in any proceedings on the ground that it was given in pursuance of a right exercisable by the member of staff by virtue of his position as such.
(2) Subsection (1) applies to corporal punishment so given to a child at any time, whether at the school or other place at which education is provided for the child, or elsewhere.
(3) The following provisions have effect for the purposes of this section.
(4) Any reference to giving corporal punishment to a child is to doing anything for the purpose of punishing that child (whether or not there are other reasons for doing it) which, apart from any justification, would constitute battery.
(5) However, corporal punishment shall not be taken to be given to a child by virtue of anything done for reasons that include averting--
(a) an immediate danger of personal injury to, or
(b) an immediate danger to the property of,
any person (including the child himself).
(6) "Member of staff", in relation to the child concerned, means--
(a) any person who works as a teacher at the school or other place at which education is provided for the child, or
(b) any other person who (whether in connection with the provision of education for the child or otherwise)--
(i) works at that school or place, or
(ii) otherwise provides his services there (whether or not for payment),
and has lawful control or charge of the child.
(7) "Child" (except in subsection (8)) means a person under the age of 18.
(8) "Specified nursery education" means full-time or part-time education suitable for children who have not attained compulsory school age which is provided--

24 Mar 1998 : Column 395

(a) by a local education authority; or
(b) by any other person--
(i) who is (or is to be) in receipt of financial assistance given by such an authority and whose provision of nursery education is taken into account by the authority in formulating proposals for the purposes of section 110(2)(a) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, or
(ii) who is (or is to be) in receipt of grants under section 1 of the Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Act 1996; or
(c) (otherwise than as mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)) in any educational institution which would fall within section 4(1) above (definition of "school") but for the fact that it provides part-time, rather than full-time, primary education."
(2) The following provisions of the Education Act 1996, namely--
(a) section 549 (interpretation of section 548), and
(b) section 550 (no avoidance of section 548 by refusing admission to school etc.), shall cease to have effect.'.--[Kali Mountford.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 211, Noes 15.

Division No. 228
[5.38 am


AYES


Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Atherton, Ms Candy
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chaytor, David
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Edwards, Huw
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Godman, Norman A
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Home Robertson, John
Hope, Phil
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lansley, Andrew
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lock, David
McCabe, Steve
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Madel, Sir David
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Nicholls, Patrick
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Hara, Eddie
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Rapson, Syd
Rendel, David
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Tyler, Paul
Wallace, James
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wise, Audrey
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:


Mr. Adrian Sanders and
Helen Jones.


NOES


Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Evans, Nigel
Hawkins, Nick
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Luff, Peter
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Sayeed, Jonathan
Swayne, Desmond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and
Mr. Andrew Robathan.

Question accordingly agreed to.

24 Mar 1998 : Column 397

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.


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