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Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, which was both full and very welcome. There is no doubt whatever that those in this particular sector of further education will be delighted with the news that he has given me today. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 8 [Amendments]:

[Amendment No. 150 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 151:

(". After section 109 of that Act insert--
"New grammar schools.
109A.--(1) This section has effect for enabling the admission arrangements of a school to be revised so that the school has selective admission arrangements which--
(a) make provision for selection by ability; or
(b) make provision for one or more of the following, namely--
(i) any selection by ability authorised by section 101;
(ii) any selection by aptitude authorised by section 102;
(iii) any selection by ability such as is mentioned in section 99(2)(c).
(2) Any such revision of the admission arrangements of a school shall be one of the alterations to a maintained school which are prescribed for the purposes of section 28.
(3) Regulations may provide that in their application to any proposals for any such revision of the admission arrangements of a school, any provision of section 28 or Schedule 6 shall have effect with such modifications as may be prescribed."").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment is self-explanatory. It seeks a permissive power--where this is appropriate or is requested--to set up new grammar schools. But the point I want to make--

Lord Hattersley: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. A couple of hours ago the noble Baroness and her noble friends warned the House against the disruption caused by changing the status of a school every five years. How does she reconcile that with this amendment which offers the prospect of changing the status of a school every day of the week and every week of the year indefinitely?

14 Mar 2000 : Column 1519

Or is it disruptive to change grammar schools into comprehensives, but not disruptive to change comprehensives into grammar schools?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, my amendment is not disruptive at all. The power it seeks will be a bottom-up power from a local community, if it so wishes. I am talking about a power to create new schools, new sixth-form colleges, new colleges and new universities. I simply include grammar schools in that permissive power.

I wish to counter a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, earlier. For most of my life I have been concerned about standards in education. The remarks which the noble Baroness made earlier were deeply offensive. I believe that, as far as possible, the policy aim should be to meet the needs of all children: those with special educational needs; those with talents and aptitudes for the arts, the sciences and sport, for example, and those with good academic ability.

The amendment seeks to create new schools on the basis of selection. Earlier, the noble Lord, Lord Hattersley, made an interesting point about selection. Where do the Labour Government stand on selection? Apparently there was to be no more selection under a Labour government. However, three years on, there is selection for ballet schools. I approached the department only this week to inquire whether it was possible to help a young person enter ballet school. I was told that the department only provides assisted places--I emphasise that point--in three ballet schools. The ballet school I was interested in was not covered. I refer in this connection to music schools, specialist schools, city technology colleges where there is banding and selection by interview, Church schools where there is selection by interview, and, in some Church schools, selection by ability, and, of course, grammar schools. Therefore there is much selection in any case. My amendment is a modest addition to that. I beg to move.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, this is the second amendment today on the subject of grammar schools. The arguments are the same and therefore I shall not go over them all again. The noble Baroness takes personally comments that I make about the performance of the previous government. I am constantly the butt of the noble Baroness's criticism but I take that to be part of the political debate; I do not take it personally. I certainly do not mean my remarks to be taken personally and I hope that in future the noble Baroness will not take them personally.

The amendment introduces new grammar schools. Therefore, it would allow schools to introduce selection by ability. I shall not go into all its technical defects but it appears to be intended to allow a grammar school, where parents have voted against selective admission arrangements, to reintroduce them and to allow schools to reintroduce selection where it has been removed. I believe that that would be disruptive, as my noble friend Lord Hattersley said.

14 Mar 2000 : Column 1520

The amendment also makes absolute nonsense of existing legislation on the future of grammar schools and on partial selection. It is a further attempt to divert the debate from standards to selection. It shows yet again an intention to overthrow the legislation which delivered our commitments that where grammar schools exist, their future selective admissions will be decided by local parents and that there will be no new selection by ability. As I said earlier, that legislation followed a manifesto commitment and was passed by both Houses of Parliament.

Legislation allowing parents to decide the future of selective admission arrangements at grammar schools is based on our belief that further selection by ability would not enhance standards. As I said earlier, placing the future of selection by ability for the remaining grammar schools in the hands of parents allows us to concentrate on our main agenda of raising standards. I explained earlier at some length how we are doing that and I gave plenty of examples.

As I said of the earlier amendment, this amendment is simply an attempt by the Opposition to reintroduce their "grammar school in every town" policy which they singularly failed to implement during their 18 years in office and which has been disowned by both shadow Education Secretaries since the election. Noble Lords will not be surprised to hear that I cannot accept the amendment. I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw it.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I said that this was a permissive amendment. I believe that it is an important amendment; it is part of the tapestry of provision. I wonder when we shall hear a proper defence of a government whose members take advantage of selection, send their children to selective schools, allow their children to attend schools which have selection by interview or examination, and yet close the door on all other parents who would like to make the same choices. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

7.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 151) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 53; Not-Contents, 152.

Division No. 2


Ackner, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Byford, B.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Glentoran, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Marlesford, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Moynihan, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Rawlings, B.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wharton, B.
Young, B.


Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brett, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greengross, B.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Hattersley, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Laird, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Levy, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
O'Neill of Bengarve, B.
Orme, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L
Richard, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Simpson of Dunkeld, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

14 Mar 2000 : Column 1522

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