House Of Commons
Thursday 24 March 1988
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified Her Royal Assent to the following Acts:
London Regional Transport Bill (By Order)
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on the Question, [10 December], That the Bill be now considered.
Debate further adjourned till Wednesday 30 March.
Teignmouth Quay Company Bill (By Order)
York City Council Bill Lords (By Order)
Associated British Ports (No 2) Bill (By Order)
Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill (By Order)
City Of London (Spitalfields Market) Bill (By Order)
Falmouth Container Terminal Bill (By Order)
North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill (By Order)
St George's Hill, Weybridge, Estate Bill (By Order)
Southern Water Authority Bill (By Order)
Orders for Second reading read.
To be read a Second time upon Wednesday 30 March.
British Railways (No 2) Bill (By Order)
Order read for resuming debate on Question [15 March],
That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Debate to be resumed upon Wednesday 30 March.
Oral Answers To Questions
Information Policy Unit
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on his Department's responsibilities for the information policy unit and pyschological operations in Northern Ireland.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Dr. Brian Mawhinney)
My Department has no such unit.
I thank the Minister for his response. Will he explain why members of the security services have been involved in exercises entailing the use of Government facilities to forge documents; the passage of arms, including guns and bombs, to members of the civilian community, to be used against members of the security services and individuals in Southern Ireland; and political disinformation programmes such as "Clockwork Orange" during the 1974 election? Who was authorising all that if there was no such unit?
The House is becoming aware—indeed more than aware—of the allegations constantly made by the hon. Gentleman. We would be interested to see the evidence to support what he has said.
Who authorised the bugging of the hay yard in the case of Michael Tighe, as adumbrated in Mr. Stalker's book? On what and on whose authority was that done?
I do not believe that that has anything to do with the question.
Mr. Cyril D. Townsend
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on cross-border co-operation.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. John Stanley)
Cross-border co-operation takes place over a wide range of activities. We shall continue to look for ways to develop it further.
I am glad to be told that the respective chiefs of police are to hold a meeting at last, but will my right hon. Friend explain why meetings recently arranged were either postponed or cancelled? Is not the closest possible co-ordination and co-operation between the two police forces absolutely essential, and does not the absence of that close co-operation greatly benefit the IRA?
I entirely agree with what my hon. Friend has said. We very much welcome the fact that a meeting of the full conference is to take place tomorrow, which will be attended, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier this week, by both the Chief Constable and the Commissioner of the Garda.
Has the Minister, through the Intergovernmental Conference, been able to take part in discussions with police chiefs from the Garda about the possibility of solidarity being shown with RUC members, when they are involved in incidents at funerals in Northern Ireland, by having members of the Garda present on those occasions?Secondly, has any further consideration been given to the question of a joint security commission?
I am not aware that the first point has been raised through the secretariat machinery, but the hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point which will no doubt be reflected on.The joint security commission is not part of our proposals. However, I stress to the hon. Gentleman and the House that we have made substantial progress on cross-border security co-operation and are continually assessing how to improve it further. We now have better co-operation on racketeering, better communications, better information exchange, better bomb disposal co-operation and certainly better operational co-operation than before the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed.
Does cross-border co-operation cover more than just Government agencies? Has Irish Television been prepared to release any broadcast footage of the disgraceful murders last weekend in the Province? If so, does that not show the reluctance of television companies this side of the water, to their great shame?
I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that my understanding is that the Irish broadcasting authorities have released the films in question.
Does the Minister of State agree that, although cross-border co-operation has concentrated on security matters — for necessary and understandable reasons—co-operation on economic and social matters is equally important? Have the Government agreed to approach the EC for funds for the International Fund for Ireland, not only to ensure continued support for the fund from the United States, but to improve conditions in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Europe?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I very much endorse his opening remarks. We envisage the process of co-operation extending beyond security into political, economic and cultural matters. It is very much the wish of both Governments that we consider ways of securing some form of direct EC participation in the working of the International Fund for Ireland, which I know would be very much welcomed in the United States.
Irish Ministers (Meetings)
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has any plans to meet the Irish Prime Minister.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next hopes to meet the Irish Foreign Secretary; and what matters will be discussed.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what items will be on the agenda of the next Anglo-Irish Conference.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Tom King)
I have no present plans to meet the Taoiseach, but I expect to meet Mr. Lenihan in a meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference tomorrow. It is not normal practice to disclose the whole agenda in advance, but it will certainly include cross-border security co-operation.
I am sorry about the right hon. Gentlman's reply. When he meets Mr. Lenihan, will he discuss the recent murders in Gibraltar and the Province? How can the Anglo-Irish Agreement reduce this violence? I voted against the agreement, for reasons which differed from those of Ulster Members. Many people, including myself, are concerned that the recent slaughter and carnage may spill over into the mainland, to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
Obviously, every hon. Member shares the concern about recent violent events: the attempted terrorist outrages, such as the one in Gibraltar, the terrorist attack at the funeral in Milltown and the various killings that have occurred. No amount of signing of agreements will abolish evil men. Our duty is to work together as Governments and people to try to isolate and deal with the men of violence.
If and when the Secretary of State meets leading figures of the Irish Government and discusses the recent killings in Northern Ireland, will he discuss with his opposite number the killings in Gibraltar, which sparked off a series of killings? [Interruption.] Does the right hon. Gentleman remember as clearly as most of us that the Republic of Ireland Government immediately raised these issues, which deepened divisions between the two Governments? Therefore, the Irish Government are bound to want to discuss those matters as well as the murders in Northern Ireland.
That was an outrageous supplementary question. I do not know what the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question would have been if 200 people had met their deaths in Gibraltar that day. As has been said in a letter to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), the bomb which was discovered in the car park in Malaga was said by the Spanish police, with their experience of terrorism, to be the most powerful bomb that they had ever seen in their lives. They had never before seen anything in Spain to compare with it. Obviously, no one welcomes death, but I have no hesitation in recognising the problems faced by the security forces in preventing outrages of that kind. I would not compare that with terrorist attacks.
Rather than restating the established position, does the Secretary of State not think that the agenda for tomorrow should be as wide and as open as possible, with a willingness to learn some lessons from the events of the past few weeks? There should be openness and acceptance that there really has been a sudden and dramatic deterioration in relations between London and Dublin and between the communities in Northern Ireland.
I have spent most of my life learning about issues and events that arise. The right hon. Member for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) is nodding agreement. Certainly I would be the first to say that I bitterly regret the sequence of incidents that have taken place. Every sensible hon. Member would rather that they had not happened—most recently, and most obviously and tragically, the events of Saturday. There are lessons to be learnt from all of that by every single person involved, as the hon. Gentleman rightly said, within the communities in Northern Ireland and within the Governments of the Republic and of the United Kingdom. I hope that we will not disappoint the hon. Gentleman. We do not wish in any way to restrict our discussions tomorrow. We shall have as open and as wide-ranging discussions as we can.
Will my right hon. Friend make it quite clear to the Irish Government that the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics in this country find it deeply offensive—[Interruption.]—I speak as a Catholic—that Roman Catholic priests in the Province officiate at masses and funerals with paramilitary overtones? Will he ask the Irish Government to use their good offices to make it quite clear to Cardinal O'Fiaich that it would greatly help ordinary men, women and children in Northern Ireland if he stopped that action?
The Catholic Church has made it absolutely clear that it does not accept any paramilitary trappings or associations within its churches or in their grounds. Of course, there is a problem after funerals have left the churches and are no longer within their jurisdiction.I have said to the House that I regret some of the phrases and comments of certain priests, but I would not want to make that comment without coupling with it the warmest respect and a certain humility at the courage and outspokeness of Bishop Cahal Daly and the clear statement that he made.
When my right hon. Friend meets the Irish Foreign Minister, will he express in the strongest possible terms his regret at the decision of the Irish Government to allow the bodies of the terrorists killed in Gibraltar to land in Dublin and the solemn propaganda procession from Dublin to Northern Ireland thereafter to take place? Will he also make it quite clear that Her Majesty's Government reserve to themselves alone the right to police Northern Ireland and every other part of the United Kingdom according to their own lights and interests?
In regard to the second half of the question, of course is correct. That is precisely why in the Anglo-Irish Agreement the operational independence of the Chief Constable is clearly defined. That is regarded as an important and indeed essential element within the agreement.I hope my hon. Friend recognises that the Irish Government certainly did not seek the arrival of the bodies of the terrorists in Dublin. As to whether they had the power to refuse them, the decision ultimately was for the families, who made their own arrangements without any Government support. Certain hon. Members suggested that the British Government should take responsibility for them, but we did not think that that was right. It was a matter for the familes, and they made their arrangements.
Mr. Peter Robinson
Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to report to the House on the progress that he feels has been made under the Anglo-Irish Agreement in real terms? The Prime Minister set the goals of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of peace, stability and reconciliation. Have the deaths decreased during the 28 months of the agreement? Is there more stability in Northern Ireland? Are the communities less polarised than before? Would the Secretary of State comment on that?
The hon. Gentleman is a master of the destructive intervention. He seeks to destroy. I had hoped, building on the contribution that he made to earlier exchanges on Monday, that his thoughts were turning to how we might build a constructive relationship. Of course, he knows the answer to his own questions. He knows that at present we are facing an acute terrorist threat —[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) should listen. I am answering the question. There has been sectarian violence, and the deaths caused by Loyalist and Republican extremists are far too high. It must be the determination of all hon. Members to seek to reduce the level of violence.
Rev. Martin Smyth
When the Secretary of State meets representatives of the Irish Republic, will he explore, in the light of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the comment of the Irish Prime Minister that there is no place for devolution in Northern Ireland, and that of the Irish Government's representative in America at the St. Patrick's day celebrations that the Hillsborough agreement is going to work?
I think that there is wide misunderstanding of what the Taoiseach said about devolution. Under the agreement, the Irish Government are in no position to put forward proposals about devolution involving the majority community. Their role is to comment on the position of the minority community. If the hon. Gentleman cares to consult the agreement, he will find that that is the position. What Mr. Haughey made clear in his statement to the Dail—and I should have thought that all hon. Members would welcome it — is that it is a matter for the British Government and for the parties within Northern Ireland to consider ways forward. It is certainly an opportunity for the Irish Govenment to comment, and I should have thought that that was the right way forward.
Does my right hon. Friend recall that the Social and Democratic Labour party in Belfast and the Irish Government in Dublin have both expressed their disagreement with the welcome announcement yesterday by the Royal Ulster Constabulary that in future funerals are to be properly policed? Is my right hon. Friend aware that tomorrow at the Intergovernmental Conference there will be further disagreement between himself and the representatives of the Irish Government, because the Irish Government have been given the right to put forward views and proposals about how policing should be carried out in Belfast? Is he aware that after the meeting tomorrow there will be further disagreements between Dublin and London?
I do not share my hon. Friend's pessimistic approach to these problems. The Irish Government can put forward views and proposals on a whole range of matters, but it is for us to take the decisions. It will be an opportunity to discuss different aspects. My hon. Friend, in paraphrasing it, said that there had been opposition from both the SDLP and the Irish Government to a statement by the RUC that funerals will be properly policed. I think everybody agrees that funerals should be properly policed, but the question is: in what way? My hon. Friend will have seen the Chief Constable's statement. He is carrying out his review against that background as a matter of urgency. I assure my hon. Friend that his concerns and those of some of my hon. Friends, as I made clear at this Dispatch Box on Monday, about the incidents that occurred are proper concerns. The incidents that occurred were wholly unacceptable and require an immediate review of the policing to be followed at any future funeral. That review is being carried out.
When the Secretary of State meets Mr. Lenihan tomorrow, will he discuss with him both the security issues involved in west Belfast and the great amount of social deprivation that exists there? Would not this be a marvellous occasion for the International Fund for Ireland, the two Governments and the European Community to deal with an area which Mary Holland said had largely been bypassed by the Anglo-Irish Agreement and which Bishop Cahal Daly, to whom he rightly paid tribute, said was a social desert?
I certainly recognise the problems that are faced by west Belfast, including the problem of unemployment. I wish to see what can be done to improve employment generally in the Province. West Belfast is one of the worst and most difficult areas. The hon. Gentleman will agree with me that what makes west Belfast acutely difficult to tackle is the problem of terrorism and the fact that the IRA and Sinn Fein, while pretending to be concerned about unemployment, blow up factories, intimidate employers and make it acutely difficult to provide more chances of employment for the people whom they claim to represent.
Health And Social Services
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to the draft proposals from the Eastern health and social services board to effect savings of £7·6 million in 1988–89.
Mr. Sean Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what consideration he has given to the draft proposals from the Eastern health and social services board to effect savings of £7·6 million in 1988–89.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Richard Needham)
The Eastern health and social services board is at present consulting on a wide range of possible options to allow it to live within its budget for 1988–89. The board will not be considering these until 14 April, and in these circumstances I cannot at the moment comment further.
Is the Minister aware that the board is considering cuts in gynaecological and surgical services at Lagan Valley hospital, the closure of the accident and emergency service at Ards hospital, the reduction of accident and emergency services at Mater hospital and the closure of Throne hospital with an overall loss of 100 surgical beds? Is he further aware that the board has demanded that all hospitals reduce their demand for blood products? Will he join Opposition Members in demanding that the money necessary to prevent cuts is made available as a matter of urgency?
Some 99 per cent. of the proposals put forward by the Eastern board—they are only proposals — to be considered and determined fall within the strategic plan that the board has accepted. I agree that, because of the levels of funding available this year, many of the proposals have been brought forward. Nevertheless, in addition to the rationalisation referred to by the hon. Gentleman, the Eastern board is bringing forward proposals for new development costing in excess of £2 million.
As a result of Government cuts in health and social services, the North Down and Ards areas are threatened with a reduction in the number of doctors and nurses and the possible closure of a number of wards and hospitals, including Cultra house and Crawfordsburn hospital. Will the Minister therefore reconsider the cuts and provide sufficient money to ensure that the standards that applied before he took office are maintained?
Given that the level of provision in the Northern Ireland Health Service is 23 per cent. higher than that in England and Wales, that we spend £539 per person in Northern Ireland compared with £438 here and that we have 50 per cent. more beds and double the number of home helps, I would hope that we shall continue to give a high level of service in health care in Northern Ireland. One of the hospitals to which the hon. Gentleman referred is an old hospital in poor condition, and we hope to replace the beds by much more professional and better provision than exists at the moment.
Does the Minister agree that his additional allocation of £5 million from the housing budget will not go any way towards alleviating the financial distress of the Eastern health board and the other boards in providing a reasonable level of medical care in Northern Ireland? Does he further agree that by his own Treasury's raid of the housing department he has put into total disarray the housing strategy that he and his Department agreed for Northern Ireland, and that the disrepair will now outstrip the ability of the Housing Executive to carry out its work? Furthermore, does he agree that the transfer of finances from the health and housing budgets to the security budget is an imposition on the ordinary sick and innocent in Northern Ireland and is totally unjustified?
It would be foolish not to admit that the pressures on the law and order budget in Northern Ireland have some effect on the remaining funds available in the Northern Ireland block. That inevitably affects the amount that we can spend on health. Furthermore, the results of violence mean that services in the Northern Ireland Health Service have to be devoted to neurosurgery and aftercare for those who have been injured and therefore cannot be used for dealing with the ordinary sick. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, we spend twice as much money in Northern Ireland on the housing budget. In the circumstances I thought it right, because of the restraints on capital on the health side, to transfer £5 million to the health budget. I think that that will be welcomed by the boards. Although it will not go the whole way, it will go some way towards improving the services.
Mr. Clifford Forsythe
Will the Minister do his best to see that the Antrim hosiptal is completed as soon as possible, and will he also do his best to see that when the contracts go out for that hospital as much local labour as possible is used in building it?
I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for the Antrim hospital. The Northern board has a coherent strategy for acute care. It has a large number of acute cottage hospitals at the moment that cannot remain viable in terms of equipment or staff. The Antrim hospital is a crucial and important new development in the Northern board, which will improve services for the people there. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall be starting the building of the hospital at the end of this year and that it will be completed on time.
Rev. William McCrea
Does the Minister agree that throughout the House there are many people who believe that there is an urgent need for extra funding for the whole Health Service, particularly in Northern Ireland? Does he agree also that there is anger in the Province at the moment at the removal of money from the Housing Executive budget so that it can be handed over to the health budget —in other words, robbing Peter to pay Paul?
There would have been just as much anger had I not done so. I repeat to the House that the amount of money that has been made available to the Health Service in Northern Ireland is over 20 per cent. more than that made available in the rest of the country. If we look at the levels suggested in the report of the Select Committee on Social Services, we can see that we are achieving those levels in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Jim Marshall
Does the Minister recognise that his words today will bring little comfort to all the people in the Province, across the political divide, who are concerned about the level of health provision in Northern Ireland? Why does he not take this opportunity to swallow his pride, and respond to those wishes from all the people in Northern Ireland and make the simple announcement that more resources will be available?
Swallowing my pride is unlikely to make the resources available. I am sure that the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who is speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, realises the problems within the Northern Ireland block and knows that we spend 40 per cent. more through public expenditure per head in Northern Ireland than the rest of the country. A total of 70 per cent. of the gross domestic product of Northern Ireland is in the public sector. We have an unrivalled example of good services in health. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will also accept that the present priority of law and order inevitably means that there are other pressures, so that we are not always able to do everything that we would want.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the security station in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Tom King
Since I last answered questions in the House on 25 February, 12 people have died as a result of the security situation in the Province. They include two soldiers, one policeman, five civilians and four members of the Provisional IRA. A further three members of the Provisional IRA were killed whilst on a terrorist mission in Gibraltar. Against this serious background, the security forces have achieved some significant results.Since the beginning of the year a total of 56 people have been charged with serious offences, including one with murder and six with attempted murder. In addition, one person was charged earlier this week with the three murders at Milltown cemetery on 16 March and with three sectarian murders committed between November 1984 and May 1987. A total of 247 weapons, approximately 65,000 rounds of ammunition and 2,700 lb of explosives have been recovered in Northern Ireland. I also understand that the Gardia Siochana has recovered some 138 weapons, over 88,000 rounds of ammunition and 600 lb of commercial explosive.
As the Secretary of State comes under obvious pressure to return to hard-line policies, will he bear in mind the earlier opinion expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), which I share, that it was the adoption of such a hard-line policy in Gibraltar that started the present phase of violence? Will he also bear in mind that the restoration of saturation security presence at funerals will, on past records, always end in violence? Will he be especially wary of those advisers who are probably less motivated by a desire to find a way of breaking out of the present mounting cycle of violence than they are simply by blood lust and revenge?
I have to say that, while I understand the second part of the hon. Member's supplementary about the very difficult problem of the policing of funerals and the difficulties with which the House is familiar, which are issues that exercise the Chief Constable very much indeed, as his statement yesterday made clear, I do not accept in any way the premise of his question. The hon. Gentleman speaks with enormous authority about something at which he was not present, on which the inquest before a jury has still to take place and in which certain military personnel were in aid of the Gibraltar police seeking to prevent a very serious terrorist outrage. How he can interpret that in the way that he does as some present hard-line policy under my control within Northern Ireland quite defeats me.
Last week in the House I asked my right hon. Friend whether the IRA was being allowed to police its own funerals. He told the House—Hansard, column 1250 — that I had fallen prey to "damaging and pernicious propaganda." Did my right hon. Friend fall prey to propaganda, or was he deceived, and, if the latter, who deceived him and what is he going to do about it?
My hon. Friend used the word "police". There is only one police force in Northern Ireland, the RUC, and, as the Chief Constable has made clear, we will not countenance breaches of the law or usurpation of the police function. I make that absolutely clear. May I also say to the House—I hope that my hon. Friend will bear with me and agree with me on this — that it is an absolute obscenity that a funeral, of all the ceremonies in life, should require a police presence. It is because of the utterly unscrupulous approach of paramilitary organisations that seek to exploit such occasions for propaganda and terrorist purposes that it is necessary to take the steps that we do. I am sure that my hon. Friend would far rather see a funeral, of all occasions, pass off with dignity and respect and without political propaganda.
Will the Secretary of State, bearing in mind how the Government of whom he is a member were able to change the method by which unemployment figures were presented, to make them more meaningful, we believe, try to change the method by which he presents figures to the House about trouble in Northern Ireland? He constantly tells us about the number of people charged with crimes, but gives us no idea how ineffective the courts are within the civil law in dealing with those crimes or of the number of convictions.Will he also comment on the fact that when he answered my question about cross-border co-operation he asserted that the Irish Government had charged someone with the murder of Corporal Thomas Hewitt in Belleek? Will he now tell the House that the same Government, and the same judicial procedure, had that person released without even being brought before the courts? May we have meaningful figures in future?
I have some sympathy with the hon. Member in the point that he has made, because it is very difficult indeed to find the best way of presenting these figures. The difficulty that I face, to be quite frank, is that this very week we have had the sentencing of Martin Meehan, the conviction and a substantial gaol sentence for the kidnapping of a TA soldier on 12 July 1986 — and I remember that incident very well. We have had just today the conviction of some people involved with the UDR arms theft, and that, of course, was some time ago as well. I think that it is more accurate to give the House the charging figure, but I will look at the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised.
Sir Eldon Griffiths
Since the Royal Ulster Constabulary's armoured Land Rovers play an essential role in the control of public order, can my right hon. Friend say what steps are being taken to get on top of the new molten copper weapons that the IRA is now using against these Land Rovers? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that when he seeks the support of the entire community to turn down the graph of violence that must include everybody, including the media and especially the BBC, whose explanations for not handing over the film were meretricious and unacceptable?
On my hon. Friend's first point, which is very serious, several steps are being taken, and among the work that is actively being pursued are, initially, security procedures. Material investigation is also taking place to try to insure against and prevent what my hon. Friend correctly identifies as a serious problem.On my hon. Friend's second point, I welcome the fact that yesterday the BBC and ITN, and today RTE, agreed to provide all available tapes to the RUC investigators.
At the risk of receiving a further rebuff, may I ask the Secretary of State again whether he will explain how the stand-off decision was taken, what wider considerations preceded the issue of the Chief Constable's directive, and what part was played by the Maryfield secretariat in those deliberations?
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman seeks to pursue these matters when he has already alleged a meeting which I think he now admits did not happen—I hope that he accepts that. The decisions on policing were taken by the Chief Constable, who informed me on Tuesday evening of the decisions that he had reached. I have absolutely no doubt that he consulted widely. Those consultations included myself—I make no secret of that. The Chief Constable took a decision, which I have no doubt was made in conjunction with his senior officers, which seemed to him appropriate in the circumstances. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not seek to undermine the operational independence of the Chief Constable which I respect and which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will support.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many representations he has received concerning his fair employment proposals.
Representations from 87 individuals or groups were received in response to the consultative paper published in September 1986 and from 63 individuals or groups in response to the draft of the guide to the effective practice which was published in its final form in September 1987. A number of comments have been made in relation to our new fair employment proposals announced by my right hon. Friend on 2 March, including a statement welcoming them in principle made by the Irish Foreign Minister.
While I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's proposals, will he be particularly careful to ensure that fair employment legislation is specifically targeted at genuine discrimination and that he does not create a complicated bureaucratic superstructure for positive discrimination, which would be quite counter-productive and against his laudable aims?
I assure my hon. Friend that it is exactly our intention that we should enshrine it firmly in legislation and ensure that employment recruitment in the Province is based entirely on the principle of merit, and on nothing else.
Bearing in mind that at the centre of those proposals is the proposition that employers should keep registers of the religious affiliations of all their employees, will the Minister consider the suggestion that, to set an example to private employers, he should instruct DHSS officers in Northern Ireland to start keeping registers of the religious affiliations of the unemployed in Northern Ireland? We may learn a lot from those statistics.
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that our fair employment proposals apply as much to the public sector as to the private sector.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is imperative to encourage employment in places such as west Belfast and the Bogside of Londonderry? Will he tell the House what specific measures he is taking to encourage small businesses and self-employment in those communities?
As my hon. Friend knows, a later question has been tabled on that matter. We have announced some far-reaching measures to try to increase the number of training opportunities and the number of opportunities for the self-employed, and to encourage small businesses in a wide variety of ways.
Health And Social Services
Mr. Tony Lloyd
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had on additional funding for health and social services provision in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have recently met the chairmen of the four health and social services boards to discuss this issue. I have also discussed it with local representatives of the Royal College of Nursing and will be meeting a number of other groups in the near future.
The Minister has already given a number of figures and statistics about the quality of health care in the north of Ireland, but what does he think about the statistics produced by the four health and social services boards? —[Interruption.]
Order. We have made very slow progress at this Question Time. Since the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mrs. Barnes) cannot find a seat in her accustomed place, perhaps she would like to sit somewhere else.
Will the Minister comment on the statistics of the four area health and social services boards and on the fact that, in the financial year 1988–89, they are underfunded by £14 million a year? What will he do about that?
I am sure that the hon. Lady would be welcome to take a seat on our side of the House, if she so wanted.As I explained earlier, funding in the Health Service in Northern Ireland is 23 per cent. per head higher than in the rest of England and Wales. Although there is always room to spend more money on the Health Service, we are well funded. There are savings that we could make and we shall still provide excellent health care for all the people of Northern Ireland.
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.
The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)
This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
The Prime Minister's support for the armed services is well known, but is she aware that service personnel who have been seriously crippled and damaged by negligence before December 1986 can neither sue for negligence nor obtain any kind of ex gratia payment because of rigid and dogmatic Government policy? Will the Prime Minister recognise that any Government who are not prepared to fight for these neglected casualties are open to the charge of having no memory, no stomach, no spine and no guts?
The Prime Minister
I know the particular case to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. He is aware that it is not possible to make all new legislation retrospective, for reasons that he will understand. I believe that that is possibly why he has taken up the matter with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. This particular case came to my notice only within the past 24 hours and I am looking into it further.
Mr. Quentin Davies
Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is no more fundamental duty for any citizen than to contribute to the maintenance of law and order and to do everything possible to prevent crime, particularly violent crime and murder? It is, therefore, the duty of every citizen to co-operate with the police and to supply such evidence as he or she may have available that is relevant to investigations. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that duty is indivisible and that it affects every human being, including cameramen, employees of broadcasting corporations and the management of those corporations? Does she agree that it is disgraceful that the broadcasting corporations have not seen fit to see matters in that light and that it is particularly—[Interruption.)
Order. That is enough. It is unfair to ask several questions at one time.
The Prime Minister
I agree with my hon. Friend that upholding the law cannot be left only to the police and the courts and that it is the duty of every citizen to give information and evidence and, if necessary, to bear witness, and they should not need to be prompted to d o so. However, I am very pleased that the evidence now seems to have been provided.
In view of the fact that a meeting is to take place tonight at 10 o'clock our time at Ford's headquarters in the United States with trade union representatives from Britain, will the Prime Minister accept from me, as one who has been in touch with them during the week, that it is—[Interruption.]
Order. We are making very slow progress.
—worth making a last-minute plea to Ford and the Transport and General Workers Union to secure 1,000 jobs for Scotland? Will she invite other party leaders to join in such a united plea?
The Prime Minister
As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, we want the jobs. We want the business. We would like to have both. It is a matter for great concern that the trade unions, over a period of five months, disagreed, and disagreed publicly, and that so far they do not seem to be unanimous on the course that they wish to take. They must sort out their own problems and then take their particular case to Ford and see whether they can win back the jobs that they have so severely jeopardised.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett
Does my right hon. Friend agree that Ford might be helped to change its decision not to locate its plant in Dundee if sponsored Members of the TGWU were to back the Government's call to help Ford? Would not the Labour party support that if it were not more concerned with the 1·2 million block vote in the coming leadership election?
The Prime Minister
It would be a great advance if the trade unions could speak with a single voice and if they all recognised that many companies now wanting to invest in Britain require a single union, and in many places—for example, Nissan at Sunderland, and places in Wales—a single union is normal. That appears to be the way of the future and I hope the trade unions will realise it so that we shall get business and jobs.
Mr. Win Griffiths
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.
The Prime Minister
I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave some moments ago.
Will the Prime Minister, in the middle of her busy day, share with me a sentence from a pensioner constituent of mine in which he said that this Budget was the most unjust, un-Christian, provocative Budget ever produced? He is a pensioner who has lost £9·20 a week because of the Government's changes. Moreover, a Bristol mother, Ms. Felicity Gorden, will lose £47·74 a week because of the changes introduced by the Government in social security regulations. The Prime Minister thought that the most significant thing about the parable of the Good Samaritan—[Interruption.]
—was that he had money in his pocket to help those in need. Will she now, in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, advocate that all those who have received money beyond their wildest dreams from the Chancellor in the Budget should give it back to help those people, or does she prefer the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?
The Prime Minister
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not notice that in the Budget the age allowance for pensioners reached the highest level since it was introduced, so that marginal relief is not phased out until they reach an income of some £10,000. I remind the hon. Gentleman that his policy would dry up the prosperity upon which increasing pensions depend.
I appeal to the House for brief questions, please.
Mr. Andrew MacKay
To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 24 March.
The Prime Minister
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave some moments ago.
Was my right hon. Friend not appalled by the TGWU's negative, destructive response to the proposed agreement for a single union deal between the Amalgamated Engineering Union and Ford at Dundee? Does she agree that there is more than a little whiff of hypocrisy in the air when we find today that that same TGWU has negotiated two separate single union deals in Wales?
The Prime Minister
Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. There are a number of factories and companies where it is quite normal to have a single union, and there are a number of companies which, if they are making an investment in Britain, make it a condition that there should be a single union. Those particular companies do very well indeed and I hope that their example and success will be more readily followed by the trade union movement and that we shall not see any more squabbles, such as the demarcation disputes that we have seen recently, so that we shall get more investment. That is the way to get more jobs and manufacturing exports.
While the Prime Minister is on the subject of American companies and jobs, I thought that she might refer, at least in passing, to the extraordinary relationship that she managed to establish very recently with Boeing.Does the Prime Minister know that as a result of her social security cuts next week a single newly unemployed 24-year-old will get only £26·05 a week? Does she think that is enough for anyone to live on?
The Prime Minister
Our record on social security—[Interruption.] is excellent. The right hon. Gentleman is quite well aware—indeed, we fought the election on it—of the differing arrangements that we have made for those between the ages of 16 and 18. I remind him that expenditure on social security as a whole is now £46 billion a year, while it was £16·5 billion during the lifetime of the Labour Government. It is going up by an extra £2 billion.
That is all very well, but hundreds of thousands of people still get only £26 a week. Could the Prime Minister, in order to help this very large number of young people, place in the Library a copy of the budget that she would recommend for living on £26 a week?
The Prime Minister
The points that were made by the right hon. Gentleman in his reply to the Budget would have completely dried up—[Interruption.]
Order. Let us hear the answer.
The Prime Minister
The points that the right hon. Gentleman made in his reply to the Budget last week, and the way in which the Labour party voted, would have completely dried up the money that enables us to pay £46 billion to social security and £22 billion to the Health Service. Indeed, if we went back to government by the Labour party we would need a fantastic number of cuts in the Health Service and in pensions.
I will ask the Prime Minister to give an answer in terms that even she cannot slide out of. Will she tell these young people how they can live on £26 a week?
Order. There is no point in hon. Members shouting "Answer" as the Prime Minister has not started.
The Prime Minister
I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that social security payments have gone up in real terms—[Interruption.]—and greatly exceed anything that happened to them in the lifetime of the Labour Government.
Mr. Michael Morris
May I say, "Thank you" to my right hon. Friend for being so supportive to the family of the late Corporal Howes, who was a constituent of mine. My right hon. Friend doubtless reflected on the security situation at that time at Northolt. Is she aware that it brought back for some of us memories of Malaya, Aden and Cyprus? Does the serious security situation that we undoubtedly have not call for stricter security measures now? Some of those may be intrusive on a personal basis and may include house-to-house searches; certainly they should include the end of processional funerals.
The Prime Minister
We are considering the security situation. I heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland answer a question earlier about the decision of Chief Constable with regard to funerals, and policing them.I agree with my hon. Friend in what he said about the relatives of the two soliders who were murdered in Northern Ireland. We all found it utterly repugnant and deeply moving, but their families will have to bear the burden year in and year out. We all give them our deepest sympathies and condolence.
Mr. Tony Banks
The right hon. Lady got some good publicity out of it.
Order. I call Mr. Hume.
In the light of the Prime Minister's statement of Tuesday, directed at constitutional parties in Northern Ireland and relating to the bringing to justice of people who commit crimes, may I tell her that the implications of her statement were deeply resented by every member of my party, all of whom are in the front line of the battle against violence? I repeat for the nth time that when it comes to bringing to justice the people who commit crimes in Northern Ireland the police have our full and unequivocal support. I add only one qualification to that: that they behave impartially. That is not an unreasonable request in the light of experience in Northern Ireland. I ask the right hon. Lady to practise what she preaches by telling her right hon. Friends, particularly her right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, that no one is above the law in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am pleased with what he has said. I am sure he will agree that the RUC is impartial in everything that it does. I hope he will go on to encourage more Roman Catholics to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary, because that would make its task a great deal easier.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
I shall take it after business questions.
Business Of The House
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business for next week?
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham)
The business for next week will be as follows:MONDAY 28 MARCH—Completion of remaining stages of the Education Reform Bill (4th Allotted Day). Motion relating to the Community Charges (Registration) (Scotland) Regulations. TUESDAY 29 MARCH—Progress on remaining stages of the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Motion on the terms of reference and membership of the Select Committee on televising of proceedings of the House. WEDNESDAY 30 MARcH— Until about seven o'clock completion of remaining stages of the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Remaining stages of the Merchant Shipping Bill [Lords]. THURSDAY 31 MARCH—The House will meet at 9.30 am, take questions until 10.30 am and adjourn at 3.30 pm until Tuesday 12 April. The House may also be asked to consider other business as necessary.
Given that the Government's legislative programme is already in such disarray that we understand that the Palace has been warned that the next Queen's Speech may have to be deferred until December, will the Leader of the House cut his losses and withdraw and abandon altogether the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which, if passed, would harm the people of Scotland and his party's electoral chances in that country?Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that it is unacceptable for the Scottish poll tax regulations to be discussed for only one and a quarter hours, late at night, when they give snooping powers to the poll tax registrars that are not found in the original statute on which they are supposed to be based? Does he also accept that such slipshod drafting at the Scottish Office makes it all the more important that the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs should be set up and allowed to get on with its work? How much longer must the people of Scotland wait for the Tory Whips to put their side of the House in order? Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that the Merchant Shipping Bill [Lords] is debated at some reasonable hour? We all understand that it is a pay-off for P and O's contribution to Tory party funds, but a fundamental attack on the employment rights of seafarers should not be debated in the dead of night. Talking of the dead of night, will the Leader of the House tell us whether the orders setting up the Select Committee on televising the House are to be debated in the early hours of the morning? Is there any chance that the Committee will meet before Easter to start its important task? I recognise all the problems about the timing of debates next week, but does the Leader of the House agree that a simple solution to all the problems would be to withdraw the Housing (Scotland) Bill and then abandon it? Finally, when does the right hon. Gentleman expect to be able to announce an inquiry into the leak of the Prime Minister's letter on testing to the Secretary of State for Education?
The hon. Gentleman has asked me a number of questions about the business for next week and other general matters. He suggests that Government business is in disarray. I do not know whether he has seen the article in the New Statesman today, written by one of his runners, which seems to indicate that the hon. Gentleman thinks that the Opposition are doing a good job. If he is under that illusion, he is happy with his thoughts.The hon. Gentleman asked me to drop the Housing (Scotland) Bill. The answer is, no; it is an important Bill and we intend to proceed with it, as I announced a few minutes ago. The hon. Gentleman also raised the question of the community charge registration regulations. I have already made clear to the House that we regard the points at issue as minor and technical. Of course, it will be open to hon. Members to raise the matters in the debate. We propose that the debate should run for up to one and a half hours, which is more generous than if the prayer had been taken in the normal way. As to the Scottish Select Committee, that is in the hands of the Committee of Selection. I have done what I can, and I hope that the deliberations of the Committee of Selection will be successful. The hon. Gentleman asked about the Merchant Shipping Bill. I believe that it is right that it should be taken next week. I think that the hour at which we shall proceed will be reasonable. As to the debate on the television Select Committee, I regret that that will be late at night, but there is a lot of business to be got through and it is not unreasonable if it is to be dealt with as soon as possible. That is the most convenient time that I can find. As soon as the Committee is set up, I will be happy for it to meet.
Mr. Cranky Onslow (Woking)
I welcome what my right hon. Friend has said about getting on with the appointment of the television Select Committee. The blame for the delay does not attach to him. Has my right hon. Friend noticed the unhappy tendency on the part of the Leader of the Opposition to slide out of the Chamber on these occasions and to subcontract the job of asking the question on business to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who reads out a bad list clumsily? Would it not be better if the Leader of the Opposition showed a bit of leadership for a change?
I would welcome the Leader of the Opposition if he were able to be present for business questions, but he is always very courteous and explains to me why he cannot be here. I accept that he has competing claims on his time, particularly over the next few months. I think that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) does his best, and I am all for encouraging him.
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)
In arranging the business of the House, will the Leader of the House take account of the interest of those of us who wish to ask oral questions on Scottish legal affairs? As the business is presently arranged, hon. Members with an interest in these matters have to choose between asking a general question on Scotland or a legal question. I understand that between 1974 and 1987 there was a separate and distinct opportunity to ask questions on Scottish legal affairs. Will the Leader of the House consider reinstituting that practice because of the large number of hon. Members who have an interest in these matters?
I recognise the difficulty for hon. Members on the Liberal Benches who have to make up their minds about the question which they will ask before they ask it. I will be happy to have discussions through the usual channels if the arrangements are not satisfactory. If there is any way of improving them, I shall do so.
Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)
Does my right hon. Friend recall that I asked him on 11 February whether he would reinstitute the limit on speeches that existed in the previous Parliament? He said that he recognised that there was need for that. Is he aware that if the limit was reinstituted there would be considerably more opportunities for Back Benchers to make speeches? He said that he was having discussions through the usual channels. How are those discussions progressing?
Slowly, but hopefully we are making some progress. I am in favour of bringing the proposals forward, but I want to ensure that I have as much agreement on the matter as possible.
Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
Will the Leader of the House please put off the business relating to the Housing (Scotland) Bill so that we can have a full debate on the poll tax regulations? Is he aware that the regulations are vital to the substance of the poll tax in Scotland? My constituency is one of only two in Scotland in which constituents will benefit from the poll tax—even so they voted for me at the general election. Does the Leader of the House realise that my constituents are worried about the regulations and want a longer debate than the one that the right hon. Gentleman is providing? My constituents and the people of Scotland believe that it is outrageous for the matter to be tacked on at the end of a day's business and dealt with in only one and a half hours.
I thought that I had been forthcoming in providing a debate that would be longer than the debate on a normal prayer. However, I have already been pressed on that point by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, I am unlikely to be more forthcoming to the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) than to the Opposition Front Bench spokesman.
Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)
Has my right hon. Friend had time to note the campaign by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents for a change in the law regarding British summer time? Has he noted that the campaign calls for clocks not to be put back when they are put forward on the 27th? Has he also noted that the RSPA believes that putting the clocks back at the end of summer time has caused 60 child deaths and probably about 500 adult deaths? Whether we accept those statistics or not, is this not a serious matter which perhaps should be debated in the House at an early date?
The question of British summer time is under active consideration by the Government. For this year and next year the present situation will remain unchanged. That will allow the Government to consider and consult on what arrangements should be adopted subsequently.
Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)
I know that the staff in the House of Commons are hard pressed at times, but could a couple of carpenters be made available to make these Benches longer? I find it most distressing when the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) comes in to the Chamber and pushes hon. Members like me around. It also seems unfair that one third of the right hon. Gentleman's party had to stand throughout Prime Minister's Question Time. Can something be done to prevent the bullying and ruffian tactics of the right hon. Member for Devonport?
I am surprised that a big fellow like the hon. Gentleman should need my protection in these matters. As we approach the end of Lent, I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman might be more successful in losing a little weight and that might help him with his problem.
Sir Geoffrey Pattie (Cher tsey and Walton)
Has my right hon. Friend any plans for an early debate on the Griffiths report on community care?
I arranged last week for copies of the report to be placed in the Vote Office. At this stage I can give no firm undertaking about the timing of a possible debate. However, I will bear the point in mind.
Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)
Will the Leader of the House give further consideration to a debate on the Griffiths report at the earliest opportunity because it is causing concern?I appreciate that there is tremendous demand and pressure on time in the House, but the Leader of the House and others are aware of the concern for more time to be made available to debate the general situation in Northern Ireland. Has consideration been given to that? Would it be possible to have a debate about the possibility of bringing our laws into line with the laws of the Republic of Ireland with regard to terrorist propaganda on the media?
I cannot say more about the Griffiths report than I have already said.As for the second point, the hon. Gentleman knows that I have had a number of discussions with hon. Members from every party in the House about Northern Ireland legislation, over quite a long time. There are no proposals for change at present, but I am happy to continue discussions, and to and out whether there is a generally agreed way forward.
Sir John Farr (Harborough)
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend, as part of his duties as Leader of the House, will take an opportunity to examine the proceedings of Standing Committee C. On Wednesday, it was decided by nine votes to eight to take the unusual step of sitting on Tuesday mornings and afternoons, Wednesday mornings and afternoons and Thursday mornings and afternoons.I know that my right hon. Friend's immediate reply will be that he is rather glad not to be on that Committee— as, indeed, am I. What is most important, however, is that the decision to put the Question in regard to this unusual—
Order. I do not think that the matter is the responsibility of the Leader of the House.
Sir John Farr
I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by saying that the Question was put when a number of hon. Members were on their feet—
Order. That is just the point. I am afraid that it is not the responsibility of the Leader of the House.
Mr. Roy Beggs (Antrim, East)
In planning future business, will the Leader of the House take account of the real concern throughout Northern Ireland, in all the area health boards, about the limited funds available for the services that they provide? Will he recognise the need for rationalisation of hospital services for the whole Province, thereby avoiding inter-board conflict as the boards chase funds to maintain existing services? If the right hon. Gentleman could provide time, I feel that it would be beneficial and cost-effective in the long term for all of us.
If the hon. Gentleman would like to be here tomorrow morning for the Easter Adjournment debate, and if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that he will be able to make his points then.
Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South)
When we debate the Merchant Shipping Bill next week, will my right hon. Friend ensure that the Minister responsible makes a statement on the safety aspect of the industrial dispute that is now paralysing the Channel ports? Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while it is of course inappropriate for the Government to become involved in arguments about manning levels, nevertheless no one has yet answered the fundamental point put forward by the officers and seafarers that certain aspects of the proposed rest and shift patterns may present serious dangers to the ferries? The Government need to make a clear statement to ensure that any proposals put forward by P and O are in accordance with the merchant shipping regulations of 1982.
I take my hon. Friend's point, and I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I am sure that he will say whatever is appropriate in next Wednesday's debate.
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)
Does the Leader of the House recall that, on a number of occasions before and after the general election, I asked him whether we could have a debate on the Select Committee report on the procedures and methods of the Boundary Commission? Does he consider that important — not least if there is a problem of seating with a House of 650?The way in which the Boundary Commission now works is outside the control of the House, and it keeps increasing the number of Members of Parliament without any link to us. We ought to consider this matter; it is of great importance.
I recognise that it is an important matter, and I shall have a word with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary about it.
Rev. William McCrea (Mid-Ulster)
Last night in my constituency there was a further attack on the members of the security forces, the Army and RUC patrol, in Pomeroy. The continual—indeed, continuous — attack by the Provisional IRA has caused great fear in the Province as a whole. Will the Leader of the House arrange business to allow a proper, full-scale debate on the security position in Northern Ireland?
I hope that I do not say anything that shows that I do not believe that the security situation is extremely serious, but I do not believe that it would be right to change the business next week to have a debate on that subject.
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)
I wonder whether you can help me, Mr. Speaker. I notice that the Scottish Nationalists, who have expressed an interest in causing great trouble on these occasions, seem to be—
Order. Questions should be directed to the Leader of the House, not to me.
I wondered whether you had named those hon. Members while I was out, Mr. Speaker.Is the Leader of the House aware that the business to be considered late on Monday night is not technical and minor but vital? It is an outrage that a matter affecting the administration of the poll tax will be dealt with in one and a quarter hours, late at night, without adequate time for discussion. The 50 Scottish Labour Members will want to take part in the debate, but that will be impossible. Surely the Leader of the House can think again. There is all the time after Easter, when we shall be happy to spend a full day — two, if necessary — discussing this important matter.
The hon. Gentleman should recognise that the measure was originally tabled as a prayer. Because of the way in which I have arranged the debate, the time is slightly extended rather than reduced.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke)
Some weeks ago I raised with my right hon. Friend the matter of the Short money allocations to minority parties. In view of the statement yesterday by the leader of the Liberal party that the BBC was right to stick to its principles over the film in Northern Ireland and the fact that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) said that this was a disgrace, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind this further split in the amoeba-like qualities of the SLD and arrange for Short money to be divided accordingly?
I hope that I shall come to the House shortly with proposals on financial assistance to Opposition parties. I have a fairly clear view as to how to proceed. We shall have to wait and see whether the Opposition parties agree.
Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
The right hon. Gentleman will be well aware that there is growing realisation in the House as to how disastrous the introduction of television cameras may be to the proceedings of the House. The climate has certainly changed in the past few weeks—
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)
My hon. Friend will get a star part.
Will you be quiet for one moment, you loquacious, arrogant—
Order. I said nothing.
We all have our tribulations, and how I sympathise with you, Mr. Speaker. You have all of them; I have only one or two.
Mr. Tony Banks
But my hon. Friend would not need a wig.
Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman should change places and move down the Gangway.
I should welcome a move nearer you, Sir, by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), but not, for God's sake, on to the Labour Front Bench. I am trying to make an extremely serious point.As the House will recognise, there has been growing realisation of the damage that the ridiculous introduction of television cameras will do. Therefore, is it satisfactory that the only chance that the House has to debate the composition of the Committee is late at night? There are at least three good reasons why the debate should be in prime time next season. First, there is increasing opposition to the proposal. Secondly, the composition of the Committee in terms of the parliamentary Labour party's contribution was based on the choice of one hon. Member opposing the introduction and five backing it. It is extraordinary that the one who was chosen to oppose the measure has been in the House for only a few months and will not be nearly as effective as some other hon. Members. Thirdly, it is unacceptable to debate late at night this major issue, which will affect the reputation and public perception of how the House conducts its business, because late at night most of us—the healthy ones—have much better things to do.
I have already said that I am sorry that this business has to be taken late at night, but that is the best proposal for dealing with it next week. I shall certainly be here. I wonder whether the length of the hon. Gentleman's question reveals that he might have better things to do at that time. I hope that he will be here with us.
Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)
Does my right hon. Friend recollect that some time ago I asked him what part Her Majesty's Government will play in the celebrations this summer to commemorate the 400 years since the Spanish Armada was defeated, a very great occasion in English history? Is he aware that beacons will be lit from Plymouth to Berwick-upon-Tweed, and I hope that there will be a parade of troops, at Tilbury. What will the Government be doing?
That is a very important question. The best I can do is to invite my hon. Friend to have a drink with me and discuss what he thinks the Government should do.
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)
Will the Leader of the House acknowledge that there will be questions to the Department of Energy on Monday? We have heard quite a lot in the House about safeguarding jobs in Scotland and the desire of the Secretary of State to bring jobs to Scotland. We accept and acknowledge that. Will the Leader of the House remind both the Secretary of State for Energy and the Secretary of State for Scotland that they have a statutory responsibility for the electricity and coal industries in Scotland? May we have a statement on Monday on the progress of negotiations between the SSEB and British Coal in regard to safeguarding mining jobs as there is tantamount to one union operating in the mining industry?
My right lion. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland know full well their statutory responsibilities and they will discharge them. However, I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's question to them.
Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)
Will my right hon. Friend find time next week for a statement by the Government on the implications for the sovereignty of the House and for jobs in Britain of the instructions given yesterday in Brussels to a senior Government Minister that the Rover Group and British Aerospace merger should not go ahead unless the terms of the deal were approved in detail by the EEC and until there is a six-month review? As this is obviously a serious matter, and has been widely commented on in almost all this morning's papers, will the Government say what has happened, why it has happened and what are the implications?
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said something after his meeting yesterday. I shall refer my hon. Friend's point to him to find out whether it is necessary for him to say anything further next week.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
Will there be a statement on whether other Cabinet Ministers will be spending their time picking up litter from parks when it has been specially put down for that purpose? Is the Leader of the House aware that, while the publicity-crazy Prime Minister was happy to do that, if other Cabinet Ministers were to engage in the same task they might cause less damage to the country than they do when they work in their own Departments?
The hon Gentleman has included rubbish in many of his questions in the House. However, this is the first time that I have heard him do it so directly. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was right to take the initiative and to try to help in the big task of clearing up litter throughout the country.
Mr. Bowen Wells (Hertford and Stortford)
Will my right hon. Friend explain carefully to the House why he has not yet been able to set up a Select Committee on Procedure? There are matters such as the way in which we deal with European questions, including the one that my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) has just mentioned. European legislation is poorly dealt with in the House and there are great implications. There is also the issue of Members' behaviour. Many hon. Members believe that that should be reviewed and fines imposed on those who abuse the Chair. There is also the way in which the guillotine operates to prevent Back Benchers from taking part in, for example, the debate on the Education Reform Bill last night when most Back-Bench Members' amendments were not reached.
I recognise that my hon. Friend has a number of points which he would like to be discussed by a Select Committee on Procedure. I have said that I should like such a Committee to be set up, but I cannot add anything more to what I have said about the matter in previous weeks. We are doing the best we can.
Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Mon)
I was disappointed by the reply that the Leader of the House gave on Monday when a question was put to him about the use of the Welsh language in the Welsh Grand Committee, because since I have been in this place I have always regarded the right hon. Gentleman as a reasonable man. I ask him to look at early-day motion 768 on the use of the Welsh language in the Welsh Grand Committee.[That this House mindful of the fact that the Welsh language is a native language of one of the nations of Britain, and is spoken by hundreds of thousands of people in Wales and many other people in other parts of the United Kingdom, calls for the use of the Welsh language to be permitted in the proceedings of the Welsh Grand Committee, using simultaneous translation facilities.] It shows that this is not a party issue. The motion has been signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is not even a linguistic issue because the motion has been signed by English, Welsh and Scottish Members of Parliament. This question is of great importance to the House. In his reply on Monday, the right hon. Member suggested that it was a matter for the House, not for him. Will he therefore reconsider the holding of a debate on this question?
In all charity, I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that if he was disappointed by the reply that I gave on Monday he will have many disappointments in his career in the House of Commons, because I thought that I was as reasonable as I could be in the circumstances.The Government share the desire of hon. Members to safeguard the Welsh language, but I do not believe that it would be practical to conduct any aspect of the business of the House in a language other than English. I am sure that hon. Members will agree that there are other more practical means of supporting the Welsh language, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is now actively considering. If the hon. Gentleman were able to be present tomorrow for the Easter Adjournment debate, perhaps he could make a speech on the subject, if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker.
Several Hon. Members
Order. May I allude to the question that was put by the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr. Wells). Today there is to be further discussion under the timetable motion of the Education Reform Bill. It would be very helpful if hon. Members could put brief questions to the Leader of the House.
Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
Before the Government were sidetracked into signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which enables Ministers of the Irish Republic to pressurise Ministers of this country in private, there was a proposal that a parliamentary tier should be added to the then Anglo-Irish Council. When it was suggested that such a parliamentary tier should be created, my right hon. Friend's predecessor used to say that this was a matter for the House of Commons, not for the Government. It looks as though we need a new initiative and, indeed, an opportunity for parliamentarians on both sides to argue in public about Anglo-Irish relations, so should not this proposal be resuscitated? Will my right hon. Friend say that it is a matter for the House and not the Government, because he is the Leader of the House?
I am quite happy to confirm to my hon. Friend that it is indeed a matter for the House. If there is a strong desire in all parts of the House, we shall see how we go from there.
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
Has the Leader of the House seen early-day motion 864?[That this House notes with disbelief the hesitation of certain broadcasting authorities to make available to the Royal Ulster Constabulary film relevant for a murder investigation in Northern Ireland; and hopes that, even at this late stage, some sense of civic and moral responsibility will prevail.] Does he not agree that it ill becomes Members of Parliament, speaking in the safety and security of the House of Commons, to pontificate on the civic and moral responsibility of men and women who often place themselves in great danger to report to the public what is happening throughout the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, and around the world? Will he go and see the Prime Minister, take with him the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), try to knock some sense into her and show her the statement by the National Union of Journalists, issued this week, that says that if journalists are perceived to be collectors of evidence to give to the authorities and that if their impartiality is called into question they will be placed in very great danger—in even more danger than they are now? If the Prime Minister's real motive is to deny to the public of this country information about the barbarity of terrorism, the only victors will be the men of violence who believe that political change can be brought about only by violence.
I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman's desire would be the same as the Prime Minister's — to bring to book the people who perpetrated those terrible murders in Belfast on Saturday and to speed it up in every possible way. The RUC called yesterday on the BBC and ITN and took possession of film of the events surrounding the murder of the two soldiers in west Belfast on 19 March. I hope that this material will be of considerable assistance to the RUC in the major murder inquiry that it has now instituted.
Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)
Will my right hon. Friend have a clear idea after Easter of when the Criminal Justice Bill will return to the Floor of the House so that hon. Members may have an opportunity to debate and vote on capital punishment?
I shall report to the House as soon as I am able to do so, but I cannot give my hon. Friend any news today.
Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
Could there be an early debate on the danger of solvent abuse to young people? Is the Minister aware that about three youngsters die each week from solvent abuse and that in recent weeks two have suffered this tragedy within the city of Leicester — one being the 14-year-old son of a most respected councillor? Will he please ask the Home Secretary what steps have been taken, what steps he is taking and what steps he proposes to take in order to meet a menace that is, alas, growing all the time?
I am sorry that I cannot promise the hon. and learned Gentleman a debate next week, but I certainly undertake to report to the Home Secretary on the point that he raised.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)
Given my right hon. Friend's wider responsibilities as Leader of the whole House, does he agree that if parliamentary democracy is to operate efficiently, and that if minority rights are to be respected, it is vital that the decisions of the Chair should be respected? Is it not a matter of concern to my right hon. Friend, therefore, that a senior Member of this House, a member of the Chairmen's Panel, voted against his motion to suspend an hon. Member who had been named by Mr. Deputy Speaker during the Budget statement?
I agree with my hon. Friend that it is vital for the proper running of this House that the decisions of Mr. Speaker are upheld. I hope that all hon. Members will support Mr. Speaker in his very difficult task.
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made on the seizure of the film from the BBC and ITV? The right hon. Gentleman must recognise the jeopardy in which every BBC and ITN reporter, camera man, crew man and sound recordist is placed. It is a very important issue that cannot be swept to one side.Will the right hon. Gentleman also arrange for a debate on the Jarvis plc report that was published this week and sent to every hon. Member? There have been leaked documents from the Secretary of State for Transport about the Settle to Carlisle railway. It is a long-standing issue. I have asked the Leader of the House on at least three occasions for a statement. The matter ought to be cleared up, since one Government Department has produced a useful report that advocates retention of the line while the Department of Transport is busy trying to sabotage it and get it closed.
I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be pleased that the BBC and ITN handed over film taken at the event in order to assist the RUC in its major murder inquiry. I believe that that was the right and proper way to proceed.As for the Carlisle to Settle railway, the recent Jarvis report is a helpful contribution to the debate, and the Secretary of State will take it fully into account before reaching his decision.
Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)
If my right hon. Friend decides to disburse taxpayers' funds to minority political parties, will he take into account the fact that the Scottish National party Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) had no sooner been allowed to return to the House after his expulsion from it than he stated that he intends to increase parliamentary disruption and guerrilla tactics and to destroy democracy? He is supported in that view by his two colleagues. If those who wish to disrupt Parliament do not want to take part in the democratic process, I suggest that they should not be funded to do so.
The question of the Short money will be a matter for the House, not for me, to decide. My hon. and learned Friend referred to press reports about threatened disruption of the proceedings of the House. I cannot believe that any Members who have been elected by the democratic process would seek to rely on unparliamentary means to achieve their objective.
Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
Would the Leader of the House make a progress report —if that is the proper term—on the fate of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs? I understand that in response to the letter that he received from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, he wrote to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection. Would it be possible to divulge the contents of that letter so that we might have some hope?
The letter that I wrote was to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection. It is up to him to decide how to proceed, having received that letter. It is not a matter for me.
Mr. John M. Taylor (Solihull)
In considering shorter speeches, will my right hon. Friend direct his attention to shorter questions, and perhaps give the House some guidance?
The short answer is yes.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
In view of the concern about parliamentary behaviour, would not next week be a good time to discuss early-day motions 228, 253, 272, 273, 286, 622 and 627?[That this House notes in the book, Campaign, by Rodney Tyler, the Selling of the Prime Minister: from behind the doors of Downing Street and Conservative Central Office—A unique inside account of the Battle for Power that the author on page 1, chapter 1, paragraph 1, sentence 1, states 'It was an extraordinary turnaround in fortunes from the moment on 27th January 1986 when Mrs. Thatcher secretly confided to a close associate that she might have to resign …' and on page 3 that 'On the eve of the crucial Westland debate she herself shakey enough to doubt her future' though some around her later sought to dismiss this as late evening anxieties of the sort that had disappeared the following morning). It is certainly true that if Leon Brittan had chosen to, he could have brought her to the brink of downfall, by naming the real culprits inside Number 10. Instead, he chose to remain silent', and calls on the Prime Minister to give a full account of what transpired between 3rd January and 27th January 1986, at Number 10 Downing Street, in relation to the selectively leaked Law Office's letter concerning the Westland Affair.][That this House notes that the Member for Aldershot on page 136 of his book Heseltine: the unauthorised Biography, states in relation to the Westland Affair that 'John Wakeham issued an order of the day which contained the trite, if effective message, that it was time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. We did and calls on the Leader of the House, The Right Honourable Member for South Colchester and Maldon, to explain when he first knew the role of the then Trade and Industry Secretary, The Right Honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, in the matter of the disclosure of a selectively leaked Law Officer's letter.][That this House notes that in his book Mrs. Thatcher's Revolution, published this week by Jonathan Cape and Co., Mr. Peter Jenkins writes, on page 200 'Britian himself refused to enlighten the Select Committee on any point of substance. However, he is reputed to have told close friends subsequently that not only has she known perfectly well what had happened but that, on the day following the leak, had expressed her satisfaction to him at the way things had been handled. However at that time, the downfall of Heseltine hadnot been achieved… He (Mr. Brittan) might point the finger at her (Mrs. Thatcher). Potentially he now had the power to destroy her'; and calls on the Prime Minister to give the House a full account of her conversations with the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the Right honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, over the period from 3rd January and 27th January 1986, in relation to the selectively leaked Law Officer's letter concerning the Westland Affair.][That this House notes that in The Thatcher Years—A decade of Revolution in British Politics, published by BBC Books, Mr. John Cole, on page 170, considering the selectively leaked Law Officer's letter in the Westland Affair, writes 'why did he (Sir Robert Armstrong) not give her a quick interim report when he discovered that the leak was an inside job, authorised by her office? Why did Leon Brittan not tell her? Or the private secretary concerned? Or his chief, who sits in the same room? Or her press secretary? And why did she never ask?'; and calls on the Prime Minister to inform the House of the answers to these questions.][That this House notes that, in the book 'Not with Honour—The Inside Story of the Westland Scandal', on page 142, Magnus Linklater and David Leigh write that 'Instead, following Havers's complaint, she spoke privately to Brittan about the leak. Although this is something the Prime Minister has failed to disclose, to widespread disbelief, the evidence comes from an authoritative source, who told us: "The Prime Minister knew about the leak. She was pleased it had been done. There was a meeting between Britian and her after the complaint from Mayhew. Only the two of them were present … Brittan assumed she knew of [the leak's] origins. You must draw your own conclusions." One of Brittan's friends adds, "Nobody thought it was a problem. The complaints were out of the public domain and any inquiry was expected to be a formality. Leon wasn't worried at all about it."; and calls on the Prime Minister to give a full account to the House of the meeting between herself and Right honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, referred to therein.][That this House notes that in an article by Mr. Paul Foot in the Daily Mirror, dated 28th January, a Ministry of Defence official, Mr. Paul Newbegin, is quoted as having admitted witnessing the shredding and incinerating of the log book of HMS 'Conqueror'; is concerned that if this statement is true, the Ministry of Defence is guilty of having established an entirely bogus investigation into the disappearance of the log book when the facts of its deliberate destruction were already known; further notes the parallel between this case and that of the leaked Solicitor General's letter in the Westland Affair, when a similar investigation was launched despite the availability in advance of all the salient facts; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Defence to set up an immediate inquiry with the genuine purpose of furnishing Parliament with a full explanation of this bizarre series of events.][That this House calls for a debate on the conduct of honourable and right honourable Members of the House, considering the position of back bench members who resort to unparliamentary language and Heads of Government who misuse Law Officer's letters and then display lack of candour about what they have done.] Would the Leader of the House expand on his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) about the letter from the Prime Minister's private secretary, Mr. Gray, to Mr. Jeffrey of the Department of Education and Science? When I asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science about that letter in the debate on the Education Reform Bill, as reported in column 233 of Hansard, he replied—at his most charming and with that famous smile of his—that I should address such questions to the Prime Minister. When I went to the Table Office, the learned Clerks told me that the Prime Minister has blocked every question on this issue. The Leader of the House says that he has nothing to add, but he has said nothing, so I do not know what he has nothing to add to. There is an easy solution to all this: go and ask Mr. Ingham what he did.
I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman, but I have nothing further to add.
Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
If I or any of my right hon. or hon. Friends were to put up for the leadership of the Conservative party against the Prime Minister, it would certainly be futile, it might well be selfish, and it would certainly be self-defeating. If we were to have a debate on the subject, would the leadership of the Government have the arrogance and the antidemocratic gracelessness to say so?
I have to say to my hon. Friend that there is a certain hypothetical ring about his question.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
Does the Leader of the House have a view on why Privy Councillors should be given priority in being called in debates?
By and large, I think the traditions of the House have stood the process of time and provide us with the best way to proceed. I am always open to suggestions, however, and I consider them carefully—especially those made by the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)
Has my right hon. Friend had the opportunity to see early-day motion 864 on the tapes of the funerals at Andersonstown last week?[That this House notes with disbelief the hesitation of certain broadcasting authorities to make available to the Royal Ulster Constabulary film relevant for a murder investigation in Northern Ireland; and hopes that, even at this late stage, some sense of civic' and moral responsibility will prevail.] Has he also had an opportunity to look at the article in The Independent, in which it is pointed out that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), who is the Liberal party spokesman for Northern Ireland, agreed that the tapes should be handed over but that an hour or so later he was contradicted by his leader, the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel)? In the light of the seriousness of the situation in Northern Ireland, may we have a debate on this matter —particularly so that the Liberal party can explain its new-found unity on the position in Northern Ireland?
I find it inconceivable that any responsible person should think that the BBC and ITN should not hand over the films, given the seriousness of the situation in west Belfast. But I have no ministerial responsibility for the views of the Liberal party.
Several Hon. Members
Order. I again remind the House that we have a timetable motion on the subsequent business and I therefore ask for brief questions.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
In view of what the Prime Minister has said about single unions at Dundee, will the Leader of the House ask her whether she would now be in favour of a single union at GCHQ?In view of the creative litter-placing that took place last Wednesday, will the right hon Gentleman also ask her whether the Secretary of State for the Evironment will come to the Dispatch Box to explain who will pay for the placing of that litter? Will the councillors be surcharged for wasting ratepayers' money? Will the BBC be asked to deliver all its untransmitted film, including the shot in which, unfortunately for her, the Prime Minister missed one of the pieces of carefully placed litter and picked up some genuine rubbish?
I do not think that anything in the hon. Gentleman's diatribe requires me to say anything other than no.
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)
Is the Leader of the House aware how insulting it is both to Scottish Members of Parliament and to the people of Scotland that we will have only an hour and a half to debate the regulations dealing with the whole procedure of implementing the unwanted and unfair poll tax? Is not that a reflection of the fact that the Minister is incapable of putting a proper case and that the Government have no arguments in favour of the tax worthy to put to the House?
The reason why an hour and a half is adequate is that the points at issue are minor and technical —[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] I know that Opposition Members do not accept that, but I am not prepared to shift from that ground.
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)
Does the Leader of the House realise that his dismissal of the regulations as minor and technical will be deeply resented in Scotland where people are only too well aware of the serious civil liberties implications of the regulations? Does he not realise that the Scots will see him as acting like a thief in the night, trying to slip through highly controversial regulations without proper debate or analysis of their impact on the Scottish people?
I am not sure that the points that the hon. Gentleman made about me were exactly flattering. Clearly he did not listen to the answer that I gave a moment ago. I said, not that the community charge registration regulations were minor and trivial, but that the points at issue were minor and trivial.
Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Is the Leader of the House aware that only this morning Standing Committee E, dealing with the poll tax legislation for England and Wales, was debating clauses that affect Scotland? One clause added a new exempted category—visiting forces. The Minister was pressed about the category of severely mentally handicapped people as early in the Committee's proceedings as February, but he has still not found time to discuss the matter with his Scottish colleagues. The regulations, which are described as minor and technical, are to go before the House at 10 pm on Monday, yet the matter is still being discussed in Committee.
I am not sure that I would be in order if I were to discuss the proceedings of a Standing Committee, but I shall certainly refer the hon. Lady's point to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.
Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central)
Will not the Leader of the House accept that the Scottish poll tax regulations are virtually incomprehensible to lay people, and about as readable as a Russian novel? Does he not accept that most people will not understand what is required of them, and will he join me in advising everyone in Scotland who receives a form to go to the registration officer or send the form back without further question?
No; and I think that the hon. Gentleman's points are more appropriate to the debate than to business questions.
Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)
May I caution the Leader of the House against spending too much time bothering about the proposed consistent disruption of the House by certain Members of the Scottish National party? In order to disrupt, they would have to be here and, judging by the SNP's past record, there will be precious little attendance or disruption.Would the Leader of the House therefore spend more time addressing himself to the question that has been raised about the poll tax regulations? He may recall that I raised this matter last Thursday. On that occasion the Leader of the House described as "minor and technical" the fact that the regulations were unlawful. How can a Government who place so much stress on the necessity to act within the law then decide to allow one minute for each Scottish Member to discuss the imposition of unlawful regulations in Scotland so that they can push through what is already widely regarded as an unfair poll tax?
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I do not treat these things lightly. I know that he raised the matter with me previously. I have given the matter long thought and decided to do what I have announced to the House this afternoon. I do not think that I made a mistake in doing so.
Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)
Will the Leader of the House accept that, if by any chance he believes that what is being put through on Monday night is minor and technical, he is suffering from a severe delusion? What is being put through in an hour and a half on Monday night is the whole business of registration and the designation of a responsible person within a household. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if this thing is to be bludgeoned through without explanation or debate and in the midst of total confusion, it will be no surprise when literally millions of people in Scotland follow the advice of Opposition Members and send the forms back? Indeed, the Government have invited them to send the forms back if they do not understand them. They will be sent back and the Leader of the House will bear responsibility for that. Seventy five per cent. of Scottish opinion is totally opposed to the poll tax. It can command 15 per cent. support. In fact, 15 per cent. of Scottish Tories are demanding a campaign of non-payment. Yet, in an hour and half on Monday night, this gobbledegook is to be shuffled through. The forms will be sent back, and the Government will be responsible.
The hon. Gentleman is under a bit of a misapprehension as to exactly what is happening on Monday night. If he is at the debate, he may find out.
Mr. Dennis Turner (Wolverhampton, South-East)
I wonder when the Leader of the House will find time for another debate on rising crime. In the west midlands and my constituency many thousands of people live in fear and frustration. In the west midlands, despite an appeal by the committee of the west midlands police authority and the police chief, we are still awaiting fulfilment of the promises that have been made with regard to improving our community policing. We are short of resources. From the Autumn Statement we learned that the Home Secretary and the Government are committed to investing more funds in the police. May we have an early debate so that we may know, certainly in the west midlands, whether we will be able to offer something tangible and concrete to the people of our conurbation?
The hon. Gentleman has raised an important matter. He will recognise that the Government have allocated an extra £500 million in the coming financial year for the fight against crime and for the upholding of law and order. However, I cannot promise an early debate on the subject because we have a lot of other matters with which to deal. However, he might like to try his luck tomorrow in the Easter Adjournment debate.
Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)
May I draw the Leader of the House's attention to early-day motion 738, which has been supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House?[That this House calls for the return of British Standard Time in order to provide an extra hour of daylight that will reduce the number of road accidents, probably by 600 fatal and serious accidents every year according to research findings, reduce crime and energy consumption and increase opportunities for tourist and leisure activities.] Yesterday, the motion was supported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents because it says that the restoration of British standard time will reduce fatal and serious accidents by 600 per year. The evidence from the Policy Studies Institute shows that British standard time or a combination of British standard time and double British summer time would produce prodigious savings in fuel and lighting, ease trade communication with the continent, and expand the availability of leisure facilities, especially for the very young and elderly. In view of the savings to be made in resources and human life, and in view of the long period that would be necessary to make the change, does not the Leader of the House consider that to be a prime and urgent priority?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House when I answered a question on that subject earlier. In case he was not, I will repeat what I said. The question of British summer time is under active consideration by the Government. For this year and next year the present situation will remain unchanged. That will allow the Government to consider and consult on what arrangements should be adopted subsequently. I know that the hon. Gentleman will find a way of making sure that his views are expressed to the Government at the appropriate time.
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
May I draw the Leader of the House's attention to early-day motion 868 concerning the problems facing the Kurdish people in Iraq?[That this House is alarmed at the continuing persecution of Kurdish people in Iraq; records its horror at the way all Kurdish people have been treated in their struggle for a Kurdish nation; demands that Her Majesty's Government request the United Nations to send an independent mission to Iraq to seek safeguards for the Kurdish people and that the International Red Cross be requested to send essential supplies to save the lives of Kurdish people in Iraq.] Can he find time for a debate on foreign affairs when such matters can be raised, but, in the meantime, will he communicate urgently to the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister the need to put pressure on the United Nations to send a team of observers to Iraq to see what has happened there and on the International Red Cross to send urgent medical supplies? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that today the Committee of Kurdish Organisations in Britain has delivered a letter to the Prime Minister pointing out that already 21,000 have died in Halabja following cyanide and other chemical weapon attacks on the town by the Government of Iraq? The very least that the British Government should, indeed must, do is to demand an end to all chemical warfare and an end to the attacks on the Kurdish people and put pressure on all international agencies to bring urgent humanitarian relief to end the tragic loss of life.
I understand the feelings expressed in the early-day motion to which the hon. Gentleman referred and that was made clear by my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office in answer to a written question on 11 March. We deplore the denial of human rights wherever that may occur. The International Red Cross cannot enter or act within a country without the permission or invitation of that country's Government. However, I shall certainly refer the hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)
May I draw the Leader of the House's attention to early-day motion 874 relating to the impending execution of Michael Lucas tomorrow in South Africa?[That this House deplores the execution of Tsepo Letsoara in South Africa on 18th March and the impending execution of Michael Lucas on 25th March; expresses its grave concern that the apartheid regime is resorting increasingly to the use of the death penalty against opponents of apartheid; recalls the interventions made by Her Majesty's Government on behalf of the Sharpeville Six; and appeals to the Foreign Secretary to intervene immediately with the South African authorities to ensure the commuting of the death sentence on Michael Lucas and all others on death row for their alleged involvement in activities relating to the opposition to apartheid.] May we please have a debate immediately after Easter on the situation in South Africa so that we can make sure that the views of the House with regard to the possible judicial murder of the Sharpeville six is communicated in a direct way to the South African Government in view of the failure of the Prime Minister to intervene directly with P.W. Botha?
I do not accept for one minute what the hon. Gentleman said about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, nor do I accept the terms of early-day motion 874. We are prepared to make appeals for clemency on humanitarian grounds only in exceptional cases, and the case of Mr. Lucas does not meet our criteria for representations. We will, of course, be having a foreign affairs debate in the not too distant future, but I cannot promise a date for that debate now.
Points Of Order
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that you and the House are in some difficulty following the business statement. It is clear that the Leader of the House has no idea what the motion on the poll tax, which is to be debated on Monday, is about. He has repeatedly said that it is of a minor and technical nature. However, it sets up the whole registration procedure for the poll tax.I shall not rehearse all the arguments on that because, Mr. Speaker, you would be right not to allow me to do so. However, I do believe that you and the House are m difficulty. The Leader of the House has made a statement about something that he does not understand and knows nothing about. When asked about the Committee stage of a Bill that affects that motion, again he knew nothing about it. In those circumstances, is it within your power, Mr. Speaker, to ask the Leader of the House to take the regulations away, think about them again, do his homework and, when they are properly drafted and worked out, tell us what he is going to do?
As the hon. Gentleman well knows, I am not responsible for the order of business in the House. I am sure that the Leader of the House understands fully what it is about, and I shall look forward to hearing what it is all about.
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
During the course of Questions to the Prime Minister the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) made an outrageous allegation that was very clearly audible on the Benches on this side and which I ask you to call upon him to withdraw, Mr. Speaker—[Interruption.]
Order. I may say to the hon. Gentleman that I heard a disturbance, but I heard no words that were disorderly.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham. North-West)
What was it?
The allegation that the hon. Member for Newham North-West made was that the Prime Minister had only attended the funeral of the two corporals so brutally murdered in Ulster—[Interruption.]
Order. This seems to me to be like a continuation of Question Time. Sadly, the noise at Prime Minister's Question Time has greatly increased and I deeply regret it. It is not always possible at this end of the Chamber to hear what goes on below the Gangway or across the Chamber. If that remark was made, I would certainly regret it, but it was not a disorderly remark. It was not part of the proceedings of the House because I had not called the hon. Member to speak.
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the House referred to the statutory instrument on the collection of the poll tax in Scotland. It is the subject of a report by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. In the ordinary course of events those reports are not debated, because it depends upon the Leader of the House tabling them for debate. The Leader of the House commented that it was because of a prayer limited to an hour and a half that the debate was to take place. Can I make it clear that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments would certainly welcome a debate on its 18th report, which covers several instruments in addition to the poll tax instrument referred to?If the Leader of the House is concerned that this is only a prayer and that the time is therefore limited to an hour and a half, and if he wishes to spend a whole day on the report, I am sure that that will be welcomed by members of the Committee and Members on both sides of the House, so that we can have an in-depth investigation and demonstrate that this is not a minor and technical matter. The Joint Committee has made a very serious report. It is an all-party Committee empowered by the House to make sure that the House receives a report if there are serious deficiencies. Those serious deficiencies have been reported. It is misleading for the Leader of the House to suggest that a report of this nature is a trivial matter when serious considerations are involved.
Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
Further to the points of order raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) and for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). You bear a responsibility, Mr. Speaker, for trying to maintain the reputation of the House. We sit here and receive virtually constant lectures from Government supporters about law and order, the traditions of the House and maintaining the order and dignity of the House. But Opposition Members feel that what the Government are doing — taking powers in regulations which greatly exceed the powers given in the basic statute and giving a public official extra-parliamentary, unlawful snooping powers against the people of Scotland — will do more damage to the reputation of the House than all the yah-booing of the centuries.We ask you, Mr. Speaker, to see whether you can prevail upon the Government to treat this matter seriously. It is crucial that the House should not be expected to give to public snoopers powers that they do not possess in statutes. If we are not going to jib at that, God knows, we are not going to jib at anything.
I understand the strong feelings about this matter, but the House knows that it is not in the power or the authority of the Chair to do what the hon. Gentleman has requested. The matter will be debated, and that is the time at which these arguments should be strongly made.
Mr. Ken Livingstone (Brent, East)
I am asking your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman) has misled the House in reply to a question of mine about the scale of psychological operations in Northern Ireland.
No. I say to the hon. Gentleman that no hon. Member misleads the House. The hon. Member may inadvertently have said something with which the hon. Gentleman disagrees, but he has not misled the House.
That was why I did not say something stronger. I thought that "misled" might have been in order. If it is not, I withdraw it. It may well be that the hon. Gentleman has been misguided inadvertently by his civil servants. Given that I cannot say that someone has lied to the House, what must I now do to expose what has happened? Do I raise it with you, Mr. Speaker, or through some motion that I put forward?
Do not raise it with me, because I am not responsible for what is said from the Front Bench. The hon. Gentleman must consult his hon. Friends about the parliamentary ways in which he can achieve his objective.
Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on a matter relating to sub judice that arose this morning in one of the Standing Committees. When a Member—
Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot raise with me in the Chamber what goes on in Standing Committee. If he is alleging a breach of privilege or anything of that kind, he should write to me. He cannot raise with me what goes on in Standing Committee, because that is a matter for the Chairman of the Standing Committee, not for the Speaker in the Chamber.
I accept what you say, Mr. Speaker. It relates to sub judice in reference to the continued claiming by Home Office Ministers of sub judice when questioned on anything relating to the Birmingham pub bombings. I have in front of me the sub judice resolution, which says that—
Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman is now doing what I have said that he cannot do. These are matters which he must raise with the Chairman of the Standing Committee, not on the Floor of the House. I cannot help him with what goes on in Standing Committees. It is not within my authority or power to do so.
This matter has been raised on the Floor of the House on a number of occasions. I am just inviting you to elaborate on it in the light of the wording of the text of the resolution of the House on sub judice matters, which says that sub judice should be claimed only according to the discretion of the Chair if there is
I cannot see that anything that is said in the House constitutes a"real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceedings."
when any judgment that may or may not be made will be made by five Law Lords, who could not possibly be influenced by anything that anyone in this place or anywhere else had to say and whose impartiality is not challenged."real and substantial danger of prejudice"
The hon. Gentleman well understands the sub judice rule and the reason why we have it in the House. The hon. Gentleman is expressing a view on whether what is said here may or may not influence the Law Lords, but I am bound by the sub judice rule laid down in our rules.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to come and discuss this matter I shall be very happy for him to do that, but not on the Floor of the House, especially on a day when we have a timetable motion, with a very large number of hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. I will see the hon. Gentleman about it privately.
I remind the House that on Thursday 31 March up to nine Members may raise with Ministers subjects of their own choice. Applications should reach my office by 10 pm on Monday next. A ballot will be held on Tuesday morning and the result made known as soon as possible thereafter.
Health And Safety At Work (Tobacco Smoking)
Mr. George Foulkes, supported by Mr. Roger Sims, Mr. Sam Galbraith, Mr. Alan Amos, Dr. Lewis Moonie, Mr. Jeremy Hanley, Mr. John Maxton, Mr. Henry McLeish and Mr. Alastair Darling, presented a Bill to amend the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 so as to provide for the control of smoking in places of work, and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 29 April and to be printed. [Bill 134.]
Orders Of The Day
Education Reform Bill
As amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.
Functions Of Local Education Authorities With Respect To Higher And Further Education
The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)
I beg to move amendment No. 253, in page 95, line 38, leave out from beginning to end of line 43 and insert 'The following section'.
With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 254 to 260, and Nos. 240 and 242.
Government amendments Nos. 242 and 253 to 260 inclusive are all designed to clarify the borderlines between secondary and further education. The 1944 Act defined further education as including all full-time and part-time education for persons over compulsory school age, but it also stated that further education could be provided only in accordance with further education schemes that had been approved by the Secretary of State. This meant that the dividing line between the schools and further education sectors could be determined in each case by what was set out in the scheme. In particular, it made it possible to determine that a school that provided for those over 16 was still a school, because it was not specified in the local education authority's scheme as being part of its further education service. Instead, it was provided by the local education authority in pursuance of its duty under the 1944 Act to secure the provision of sufficient secondary education.The further education schemes procedure set out in the 1944 Act is repealed by clause 99. This means that we need to find an alternative mechanism for setting the boundary between the schools and further education sectors. As drafted, the clause does not quite do that. It draws on the 1944 Act in defining further education as including all education and training for persons over compulsory school age, but this needs to be qualified to ensure that post-16 provision in the schools sector remains classified as secondary education, and riot further education. This need is most obvious in relation to sixth-form colleges, which are currently classified as schools. Since sixth-form colleges cater for only 16 to 19-year-olds, they would fall wholly within the definition of further education in the clause. Obviously, this could cause considerable confusion, so we have decided that the position needs to be sorted out. Government amendments Nos. 242 and 253 to 260 are designed to rectify the problem. As schools, sixth-form colleges may not, under existing law, provide for part-time students or students over the age of 19, other than in exceptional cases. Government amendment No. 255, which is the key amendment in the group, therefore provides that full-time education for 16 to 19-year-olds is not to be regarded as further education if it is provided by an institution which does not provide part-time or post-19 education other than in exceptional cases. This means that provision in sixth-form colleges is to be considered secondary education, not further education, and the colleges themselves are to be considered schools, not FE colleges, which effectively has been the understanding of most of the local education authorities up to now, although it has not been strictly following the 1944 Act. Most of the other amendments in this group are consequential, defining the terms used and tidying up the drafting. Government amendment No. 242 is significant, however. It allows a breathing space for any institutions which are now classified as FE colleges, but which do not have significant numbers of part-time and post-19 students and would therefore fall to be classified as institutions of secondary education under Government amendment No. 255. As far as we know, only two colleges are in that position. Their authorities have been notified of the Government's intentions. Government amendment No. 242 will give them until the end of 1989 to make whatever changes to the pattern of their enrolments are necessary to continue to be classified as further education colleges. The two colleges in question are New college, Swindon and Alton college in Hampshire. The amendments are not designed to change the institutional pattern. They are designed solely to recognise and legitimise the pattern that already exists. It is self-evidently important that we have secure definitions of secondary and further education which do not overlap, and which allow all concerned to know where they stand. Government amendments Nos. 242 and 253 to 260 make it clear where the dividing line between the sectors is to be. I hope that they will be welcomed. Government amendments Nos. 240 and 241 relate to clause 184, which specifies when the various clauses in the Bill will come into effect. They provide that the clauses on further education should take effect on Royal Assent. Clause 99 is fundamental to the further and higher education sections of the Bill, in that it sets the framework of definitions and powers relating to further and higher education. It therefore needs to be brought into effect as soon as possible. The amendment also brings the clauses on delegation in FE into line with the clauses on delegation to schools, which again come into effect on Royal Assent. It is still our intention to require all schemes — for both the school and further education sectors — to be submitted for approval by September 1989. Bringing the clauses into effect on Royal Assent will encourage local education authorities and colleges to set to work promptly on drawing up the schemes required by clause 116. I commend the amendments to the House.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
On the whole, Opposition Members welcome what the Minister has just said because it brings clarity, but there should be a little more probing so that we could have a little more information. However, as the guillotine falls on this part of further education at 6 o'clock, we feel that it would be far better for the House to allow that probing to take place in the House of Lords and for us to move on to the next group of amendments, when we can have a much more wide-ranging debate on the problems for further education that are presented by the Bill. Therefore, the Opposition do not want to say anything more about the amendments.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), I should like to be brief by asking just two questions. First, in the Paul Gray-Tom Jeffrey correspondence, the Prime Minister referred to an "elaborate and complex" system. Those are the words of Downing street. Have the Education Ministers been able to satisfy the Prime Minister about the complexity and elaborateness of their system, and have they won that, albeit narrow, part of the argument?Secondly, I went to the Table Office to do what the Secretary of State suggested I do — to ask the Prime Minister by what alchemy her letter arrived on the table of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). The Secretary of State will not be entirely surprised to learn that the Table Office finds that all questions to the Prime Minister are neatly blocked on this issue, so it is back into his court, at some convenient moment, to enlighten us.
These amendments relate to further and higher education, and I was discussing the statutory provisions under which the amendments will operate.
Amendment agreed to.
Dr. Keith Hampson (Leeds, North-West)
I beg to move amendment No. 436, in page 96, line 3, after 'further', insert 'and continuing'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 388, in page 96, line 32, after 'shall', insert—
No. 389, in line 40, at end insert—'in formulating any local scheme under this section'.
No. 469, in line 40, at end insert—'(6A) A local education authority shall have a duty to consult the Manpower Services Commission, any institution within the PCFC funding sector in their area, and the PCFC and thereafter to publish a local scheme in relation to further and higher education courses for the purpose of co-ordination the efficient and flexible provision of such courses for, or available for use by persons living in, their area.'.
No. 390, in line 41, at end insert'(6A) It shall be the duty of a local education authority to make arrangements for the adequate provision of adult and continuing education services for their area in accordance with the provisions of this section'.
No. 437, in line 42, at end insert 'and continuing'. No. 391, in line 44, at end insert'for the purposes of a local scheme drawn up in accordance with this section—'.
No. 470, in page 98, line 1, at end insert—'and to coordinate the provisions of such facilities by institutions within the PCFC funding sector'.
No. 471, in line I, at end insert—'(9A) In carrying out any duties in relation to adult education, a local authority shall—'
No. 472, in line 1, at end insert—"(9A) In carrying out any duties in relation to adult education, a local authority shall, in determining such arrangements, have regard to the needs of sections of the community who are disadvantaged as users of the education service'.
'(9A) In carrying out any duties in relation to adult education, a local authority shall—
(a) in determining such arrangements, consult with local voluntary organisations and such other persons as they think fit; (b) in determining such arrangements, include and publicise arrangements to support voluntary organisations carrying out activities covered by (a) above; (c) make facilities available to enable the provision of initial and in-service training of full-time and part-time staff, including as appropriate volunteers and members of voluntary organisations'.
It is with great pleasure that I find myself leading this section of amendments on further education. It gives me the opportunity to say in passing how extraordinary many of us find it that, with all the skills that the Opposition Front Bench can muster, they manage to end up this evening in all three sections of the guillotine without a single lead amendment. It is gratifying, therefore, to see that they have all added their names to my amendment. Obviously that means that my amendment is of such power and obvious common sense that I trust that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench will accept it.
Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)
Is the hon. Gentleman going to vote for it?
Indeed. Amendments Nos. 436 and 437 are admirable and innocuous, although I would hesitate to say the same about some of the other amendments that are attached to amendment No. 436.We found ourselves in a similar position last night when, for some peculiar reason, the Opposition again found themselves incapable by their tactics of managing to establish an amendment that would have highlighted in a vote some of the key central feelings of hon. Members of all parties about the main parts of the Bill. It is a pity—
Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)
This is the intervention that I sought to make yesterday in the speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), but he refused to let me intervene. Is it not the case that there was a substantial revolt on the Government Benches on the question of the voting procedures for opting out, which, because of incompetence in the way in which the amendments were moved, was never revealed?
I hesitate to follow the hon. Gentleman on the question of the competence or otherwise of the Opposition. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science would not want me to go down the road of opting-out, except to say, for future reference in the other place, that at least a score of my hon. Friends felt that some adjustment in terms of a simple majority would have been a good thing.I admit that this small and reasonable amendment is more symbolic than of substance. Although it is symbolic, it is important to hon. Members of all parties. I pay tribute especially to Gerry Fowler, who is now the rector of North East London polytechnic, and who was the Minister of State, Department of Education and Science three times. He epitomised the political law of diminishing returns. He was three times in the same job, each time for a shorter period than previously. For a number of years he and travelled the country arguing for what was then fashionably called recurrent education. The education system must be geared to the increasing pace of change of industry's requirements. Professional people and the entrepreneurs of whom we on this side think so highly must improve their qualifications and come up to date with the latest knowledge, whether in the realms of management or on the shop Floor. We are seeking to legitimise the new consensus that has emerged in favour of continuing education, ranging from retraining and updating to second chance opportunities for people who missed out at school and to managers who require the latest skills. Information technology is an obvious example of an area where such training is essential. If Britain is to retain its position as a leading economy, people must have the opportunity to update and improve their skills in information technology. The Bill is the first piece of education law that mentions the term "continuing education". It does so only in brackets in new section 41(2), which states that further education must include
It is a pity that that is in brackets and that it comes after vocational education and training, because, in a way, it subsumes that. It falls under the scope of clause 99, which deals with the duties placed on local education authorities with regard to further education. We have changed the definitions in this piece of legislation. The category of further education used to be divided into advanced and non-advanced. If we had kept that, further education, as a catch-all phrase, would have been adequate, but we have now switched to further education, meaning non-advanced education, and higher education. The use of the word "continuing" implies that the provisions are limited to non-advanced education. Officials may believe that that is appropriate for a specific reason. After all, further education is now the main responsibility of local education authorities. They still have other responsibilities in mixed economy colleges, which have a large element of higher education, although they are owned by local education authorities. Ministers are mistaken in not changing the requirements in respect of mixed ability colleges to give them a fairer crack of the whip. The funding council should be obliged to recognise the requirements of those colleges. This is the only part of the higher education system for which local authorities have direct responsibility. The Bill may be intended to have specific regard for such training below degree level. The reference in new section 41 to further and continuing education is a broad definition. It refers to continuing education across the spectrum of post-school learning. There may be an alternative. For example, the Bill states that a local authority shall have power to secure provision of facilities for higher education. That makes me suspicious, as the Bill refers only to higher education and not to continuing education. Let us be open and give a full blessing to continuing education. Let us not be half-hearted. Let us recommend it as something that every part of the system must pursue. A system must be put together, bearing in mind the needs of individual areas. In many northern areas, for example, industry has declined and there is a need to introduce new industries and to update the work force. We ought to consider the entire spectrum of provision and say, "What have we got in our colleges? What can the mixed economy colleges, such as Bradford, offer? What role can universities play? Where does the Open University fit in?' Failing the creation of a new regional structure, the institutional body to tackle this issue should be the local education authority. Although universities might not like that, local education authorities should consider the spectrum of continuing provision in all the institutions in their areas. This requirement should be placed upon them, rather than simply a requirement to have regard to continuing provision in further education colleges."in the case of vocational education or training, continuing education or training for persons already in employment".
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
It is a little churlish of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) to complain that we allowed him to open the debate on this group of amendments, rather than to be pleased about doing so. We can spend a great deal of time playing parliamentary games as to who has the lead amendment, but it would be more useful to people if we spent our time on the substance of the issues.The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West also claimed that we had failed to exploit the opportunity that there might have been a revolt on the Government Benches. Conservative Members made that virtually impossible when they voted for the guillotine motion. If there had been any possibility of revolt, the Government Whips would have ensured that the earlier debate would have continued and that there would have been no possibility of a vote on an issue which might have caused a minor revolt. The hon. Gentleman should also reflect on the performance of his colleagues in Committee. Time after time, they said that they were going to do something, but, as soon as the Minister looked at them, they backed off. It ill becomes the hon. Gentleman to make such remarks. This is a major opportunity for us to discuss further education. This is the third day that we have debated the Bill on the Floor of the House. It reminds me of the funfair in the local park to which I looked forward as a child. There was great excitement when it arrived, but it turned out to be disappointing. The national curriculum could well be that roller coaster which was exciting when one was on it for a moment or two—it might have made some people sick—but, a day or two later, it had disappeared. The opt-out section could be the coconut-shy, when most people missed with their aim and those people who won a coconut found that it was rather mouldy. The further education provisions remind me of the lucky dip, where one rummaged around in the sawdust and ended up with the suspicion that very little had been put in. That is the tragedy of the Bill. It is a tragedy that further education has been treated so scantily in the Bill. Further education is probably the area in which this country's performance is worst at present. If the Government were serious about raising standards, they should have concentrated on improving continuing education rather than on school provision and higher education.
There have been complaints about underfunding of schools and higher education, but, throughout the Government's term of office, no one has complained about the growth in spending on further education. That may have come mostly through the MSC, but it has been the most substantial increase in funding of further education provided by any Government since the war.
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to Tuesday's debate, he would have heard us say how ridiculous it is that, whereas the Manpower Services Commission has grasped the nettle by doing something for 16 to 19-year-olds, the Department of Education and Science has sat back and done nothing. It certainly gave youngsters no financial incentive to stay on in education rather than be lured away to training. We have seen little development in that area. For example, access courses tend to be dominated by initiatives from local authorities rather than the Secretary of State. It is sad that almost all the initiatives for 16 to 19-year-olds have come from the Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission rather than the Secretary of State for Education and Science.5 pm I have some reservations about developing the concept of further education within the confines of a narrow box. There are too many boxes for education in Britain. Primary, secondary, further and higher education are put into separate boxes. Those boxes may be necessary for bureaucratic convenience, but it is important that they do not get in the way of educational developments, and, in particular, the education of the individual. I fear that the emphasis that the Bill places on the break between further and higher education will get in the way of good educational development. We support the amendment that seeks to emphasise further education as part of continuing education. We also want to emphasise the need for local development plans to co-ordinate the activities of further and higher education within a locality. One of the worrying things about removing higher education from local authorities is that such co-ordination will be more difficult in many areas. In an area such as Greater Manchester it is important that there is good co-ordination between the provisions made by the local authority further education colleges and those made by public sector higher education and the universities. We need some mechanism for planning the development of courses in all those institutions. I hope that when the Minister replies he will tell us how the Government envisage introducing a proper planning mechanism so that there is no overlap of courses between further and higher education institutions and no failure to provide courses because further education institutions see them as the work of a higher education institution and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to develop a co-ordinated plan to make sure that good quality further and higher education is provided on a regional basis. In particular, I want to press the Government on the problem of mixed colleges. We have received many representations, from places such as Salford, Glosscott and Stockport colleges of further education, about the many advanced courses which should be funded by the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council and which run side by side with courses which will be financed by the local authority. Such mixed colleges are fundamental to the development of education in Britain. It is attractive to have people on non-advanced courses, such as engineering, working in workshops alongside people in advanced courses. That encourages people to stay on and complete their education. Despite many requests in Committee, the Government made no clear statement about the way in which they would guarantee funding for at least the group of 10 mixed colleges and the many other colleges of further education which have some advanced work. It is important to develop the ladder of expectation that can come from such mixed colleges.
I endorse that point entirely, but let me draw attention to the reverse of that—the position in the polytechnics, particularly in Leeds where the polytechnic has many non-advanced level courses. The polytechnics are currently in the process of trying to set their fees for next year and it is fundamental that they should have some information on the funding of the non-advanced section of combined courses. In Committee, we mentioned the Farnley language centre in Leeds, where much of the work is non-degree level but it leads on to degree level. We asked about the funding of such courses within the polytechnics.
That is helpful. The hon. Gentleman might have been reading my notes because the next problem that I intend to deal with is that of mixed colleges where further education work dominates, but where there may be a big proportion of higher education work, and in the next group the opposite applies. Not only do the polytechnics in many cases have non-advanced work going on, but there are many higher education colleges in exactly the same position. The Government have not given us sufficient assurances that the non-advanced work in such colleges will be adequately funded.Let me deal now with who has responsibility for basic education. I could read out amendment No. 470, but I simply ask the Minister to spend a little time, when he replies, setting out how he sees the development of basic education in Britain. The Government are often keen to trumpet the number of adults who are not literate or numerate as a criticism of the school system, but they are nothing like as enthusiastic about setting out what should be done in further education, and sometimes in higher education, to ensure that adequate courses are available to encourage the development of literacy and numeracy. The Government, in their White Paper, recognise that there will be a substantial reduction in the number of 18-year-olds who will be available to enter higher education. They rightly point out that we should be making up that shortfall by increasing the participation of working-class youngsters, women and the ethnic minorities, and also by developing access courses for the many adults who missed out the first time round. There have been some extremely good initiatives from the Inner London education authority and Manchester to develop access courses. Although the Government have paid lip service to such initiatives, they have done little to encourage the development of such courses or to provide the funding to make it possible for people to go on such courses. I hope that when the Minister replies he will tell us to what extent the Government will provide grants for people on access courses and how he will ensure that such courses continue during the changes in higher education which will take the public sector away from the local authorities. I hope that he will also preview what will be said in the ILEA debate on Monday and tell us how he will guarantee the continuation of the excellent access courses which have been run London-wide by ILEA. I press him to tell us how access courses will be improved and expanded under this legislation over the next few years. Let me deal now with continuing education for those who do not want to obtain degrees in higher education but who want to study for their own pleasure at quite high levels. How will the Minister fit in work done by the Workers Educational Association, the extra-mural departments of universities and the adult education carried out by many local authorities? The Bill does not set out how they will be funded and co-ordinated. Many people outside the House have pressed the Government to place a duty on local authorities to provide further education. There is still no fundamental legislation that places such a duty on local authorities. Many people outside hope that the Government will take this opportunity to do that. We shall listen carefully to what the Minister says when he replies, but for the Opposition the further education section is very much a lucky dip with not much in the barrel except sawdust. We want a development of further education in Britain which will release the talents of all those who missed out at school, who did well at school or who simply want to study for its own sake.
Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
The amendment gives us an opportunity to stress once again the definitional and institutional problems that face the various categories of post-16 education in England and Wales. It gives us an opportunity especially to stress the need for the Government to recognise clearly the importance of all the different modes of post-16 education.The major weakness of the Bill, as other hon. Members have pointed out already, is that it does not deal adequately with the needs of the curriculum in further and higher education. In those sectors the Bill has directed itself to institutional issues. It has not considered the interlinking between the various levels of teaching, or between institutions. The Government are obsessed with the notion that the so-called national curriculum in schools will make a qualitative difference to the measured output of those schools. Significantly, the Government have not given similar attention to the curriculum, in the broadest sense of that word, or to the structure of institutions at 16-plus. In this area the Government are apparently satisfied with the content of education and with the institutional basis. By neglecting this area they are once again allowing the chaos that we described in Committee, and earlier on Report, to continue. Within that chaotic, unplanned and uncoordinated provision, these institutions and the mode of education that have had status traditionally are being allowed to continue at the expense of the rest of the system. Where are the Government's market principles in secondary education in relation to post-16 education institutions? Where are the principles of the liberating curriculum and the independent control by consumers, which are apparently so important in the secondary education sector, within the sector for adult, advanced or continuing education—however we may describe it? The simple way in which the Government can tackle this issue, which successive Governments have failed to address—so it is high time it was dealt with—is to have one label for 16-plus education. So long as there is a variety of labels there will be confusion of understanding and of funding at institutional level. That is not to say that within that name there will not be a variety of provision. The argument about post-16 education is that it deals not only with early vocational and non-vocational training but with recurrent training. This can mean anything from an adult student going to an adult literacy class to improve his or her ability to cope with English, perhaps as a second or third language, in an inner city to—I am not saying that provision extends up or down — someone who is taking an Open University continuing education course. This might be a short course for his or her own educational experience, or a more long-term course to improve his or her career prospects. That illustrates the range of the system, excluding those undertaking part-time higher degrees. That range of provision within the system needs to be integrated and planned, as well as movement between sectors within that system. In particular, all aspects of that system should be regarded as equally valid. If all consumers are equal as consumers, in the Government's rhetoric, then in this area, of all areas, all consumers of a range of educational products—here I am borrowing the Government's language—should be regarded as equal in the range of provision, funding and especially the status of their courses within the overall system. That is why those of us who have emerged from that particular educational tradition have always felt aggrieved that adult and continuing education provision in England and Wales—and to a lesser extent in the Scottish system —has been marginalised. The Government are missing an opportunity in the Bill to follow their own ideology. I see that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary is agreeing with me.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Robert Jackson)
I am surprised by the argument.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is shocked that I am deploying his arguments.The Bill was the Government's opportunity to take on the already massive explosion in adult education at all levels, which needs to continue. A major fallacy of the Government's approach in this sector is that they believe, as they do apparently in relation to secondary education, that a national curriculum will somehow directly affect the economic performance of Britain. The rhetoric coming from the Government says that, by changing the curriculum, suddenly an enterprise culture will be created and the performance of the British economy will shoot up. If that sort of rhetoric is valid in relation to secondary education—I shall not enter that debate now—it is valid for the post-16 sector. The educational opportunities afforded to people directly and immediately affect their position in the job market. That is why I fail to see why the Government have not taken this on board and come to grips with it. In their activities in relation to MSC-funded courses, they have faced the issue, for example, in the curriculum content. I have mentioned TVEI before and other MSC courses. The change in curriculum content has deliberately and successfully put a stop to that lack of direction between education and training. In the rest of the post-16 system, however, the Government have failed to integrate that level of provision. I ask the Government to take away the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) and supported by Opposition Members, and to reconsider all this before the Bill is debated in the other place. I am a bit concerned that the only concession that the Government are prepared to make in the Bill is to the Church of England, as we heard last night. I am all in favour of concessions to the Anglican Church, but we know why it is happening. The Government are in an ideological battle with the Anglican Church and they have to make some concessions to it on religious education. The Government should equally be prepared to assess the defects of their Bill which may not be linked immediately to their short-term political battles with any of their major adversaries. They should look particularly at the fact that in drafting the Bill their attention was fixed fully on secondary education, to which the opting-out proposals and the national curriculum rules are directed. Further education has been neglected for a long time in local government and Government policy. The Government have created new free-standing institutions. We shall be debating them later. Between the provision of these new institutions in higher education and the secondary education sector, which seems to be of concern to the Government in this part of the Bill, there is a mess of potage of educational provision. The Government have not addressed themselves to it. In Wales the free-standing institutions will be in a better relationship to the rest of the system than they are in England. I welcome this "potage" — or caw1 as we say in Welsh. It is right to have a variety of provision, but what is important is that the variety of provision, from access courses to higher education provision, should be treated equally. The way to do that is simply to designate the sector for continuing adult education. It would be part of the central educational experience of everyone at 16-plus. Once the Government have done that they will have made a significant shift in provision. It will not cost them much at first, but that sector will be recognised as equally important with the primary, secondary and so-called higher education sectors. The Government should accept that the 16-plus area of educational experience has validity. They should have the grace to be generous in responding to the amendment of their hon. Friend. They should consider it carefully and show us the grace that they have shown to the Anglican Church.
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas). He eloquently made many of the points that I want to make.The points made by the hon. Members for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy and for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) show clearly, yet again, why this cannot be referred to as a great reform Bill. Such a Bill would provide the sort of liberties and freedom in the further education system to which they referred, but it does not. Wherever one looks in it one finds what the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish called "putting things in boxes." The Bill stops movement across the system from vocational to academic courses and from training to education—yet it is supposed to give liberation. The Bill does not exhibit the reformist zeal that would provide a system of higher education that was freer and gave pupils the ability to go to institutions of their choice, carrying the funding for that with them. I say to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish that one of the areas in which the Bill fails so spectacularly is the way in which it preserves the artificial divide between education and training. A great reform Bill would bring together education and training under the same Ministry and abolish what is increasingly becoming an artificial divide, for all the reasons that the hon. Gentleman suggested. I remember that, when I took part in the debate on the City, we referred to Chinese walls in firms that prevented people from knowing what was going on on the other side. The Government are building Chinese walls in the higher education sector: between education and training and between some aspects of further education and others. There has been some movement away from that. The movement towards the National Council for Vocational Qualifications is a welcome step that will begin to break down those walls. Why do the Government not take this extra step and build a system that would allow the sort of freedom that they say is their goal elsewhere? I agree with all the amendments under discussion. The amendment of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson) is important. Among the things that we will require in an education system that will serve Britain's future needs is a massively expanded continuing and adult education sector. I saw an article the other day that showed this. I ask the House to accept a difficult concept known as "out-datedness". The article's argument was well backed with good reasons.
Mr. Jack Straw (Blackburn)
How about obsolescence?
Mr. Andrew Rowe (Mid-Kent)
If one is aged 40 or more today and has had no further education since leaving school or university at 18, one is in the same quartile of out-datedness as Archimedes and Pythagoras, so fast has the world moved since we were at school. The same will be even more true of the future. The article went on to say that if one was 45 and had received no further training or education since school or university, no less than seven eighths of the skills one had learnt are now out of date and inapplicable to the job one is in.What we desperately need for Britain's future is an adequate system of retraining and upskilling — a word that I know that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) does not like. It is not very elegant, but it covers the point well. All this will require a massive input into continuing education. Britain's future needs must place far more emphasis on adult retraining and continuing education than the Bill gives them. Here again, it falls short of the reforms that are necessary in the education system. I strongly support the remarks of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West; and the Opposition amendments, giving a role to the LEA and some status and publicity for youth provision, are also important. I hope they will all be considered. We have here a tremendous opportunity. Pupils in post-16, post-18 and adult education should be given an entitlement that they can take with them to the institutions of their choice. I should have thought that that was entirely in keeping with the Government's philosophy, but there is neither echo nor substance of it in the Bill. There is a case for tying the YTS into a system of qualifications that would then be applicable in the education system—both further and higher, if necessary. That would be a system built in part on national qualifications or credits that might be assembled. People might start off in vocational training and come out as late developers through the academic system of higher education. That is the sort of system that we want, but there is no evidence of it in the Bill. Where the Bill has anything to say about funding, it points in the opposite direction. I am delighted that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is to answer the debate. He it was who throughout the Committee chided us for seeking to support what he referred to continuously as the nanny state. Now he is operating in the guise of the nanny state.
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Under the great nanny in Downing street.
Indeed. She presides over us all.I invite the Minister to look at page 114 of the Bill and cast his mind back to 18 February 1988 when we debated why the Government had decided that further education colleges should be funded purely on the basis of a plan by the LEA which would determine the number and type of students at each further education college. That is quite unlike the funding basis for schools, which is a per capita arrangement. Confining further education colleges within such a nanny-operated straitjacket is wrong. The local education authority will play the nanny and decide how many students there will be; the colleges cannot then make more effective financial provision in order to take more students for the same cost. In short, they cannot do any of the things that the Government supposedly want done in every other part of the Bill. The hon. Member for Leeds, North-West, like me, was outraged by this clause. I draw the Minister's attention to the debate in Committee on 18 February, when his hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), in answer to a point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West, said:
I have not heard the result of that consideration, and I doubt whether the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West has. Was that a promise idly given, not to be fulfilled, or has this matter been considered and will the Minister answer it when he replies? The Bill has been changed not one whit. The Government, who pretend to give us freedom, have confined the further education colleges in a straitjacket of the LEA's making. They are preventing the freedom and operation of market forces that would be beneficial. The Bill fails consistently because of the damage that it will do to education and because of the opportunities that are missed in it. The chance has been missed to create a genuine system of education and training that would allow cross-over, give flexibility and allow funding on the basis of numbers of students who choose to go to those colleges. Students should be free to go to them and carry their funding with them when they do. None of that appears in the Bill. That is why it is important to vote for the amendments, which go some small way towards improving the Bill to bring that about."I shall undertake to look at those points with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and consider what changes we may make."—[Official Report, Standing Committee J, 18 February 1988; c. 1565.]
Ms. Hilary Armstrong (Durham, North-West)
We are dealing with one aspect of education which is lacking in the Bill. It demonstrates that the Government see education in narrow terms. It is a tragedy that they have failed to address one of the greatest difficulties in the education system. Government Back Benchers talk almost as much as we do about the need for much better educated and trained people. Yet the Government have failed to address that need during their term of office and they have allowed the Manpower Services Commission to pull the rug completely from under the Department of Education and Science.The DES has almost abdicated responsibility for work for those over 16. The Government still think that the only proper activity for the 16-plus age group is in sixth forms. If we restrict our vision of what is good education to A-level studies, we have missed the most incredible opportunity, but we are also selling exceptionally short the young people, the skills and the potential of the nation. Several of my hon. Friends have talked about the Government seeing further education as being in boxes because they regard it separately from the main stream of education. They see it as being separated from higher education. The Minister and I have talked on several occasions about the link between further and higher education and between continuing and higher education. The lack of a close link means greater inequality in access to higher education than in any other area of life. I shall not repeat the figures because I am sure the Minister is sick to death of my quoting them. But we must address that problem, and we cannot do it just at higher education level. We have to deal with it throughout the education system. I have argued strongly for access courses, but we must encourage and enable many more young people to be involved in meaningful education after the age of 16. Education should mean something to them, to their lives and to their communities. The Bill fails to address the regional differences in need and experience over the past 20 years. In the north-east, and some other areas, deindustrialisation has decimated past training and the Government have tried to lay on top of that what is almost artificial training through YTS. I am not decrying much of the experience that many young people have gained from YTS, but it does not supplant the training experience that used to be available. The training of the past would not meet the needs of British industry or manufacturing today. Training which is separated from education will never match the needs of the 1990s. Therefore, we plead with the Government to expand their understanding of what further education means. The Government should examine the funding for students and for potential students. They should also consider differential funding for part-time and full-time work. Again, I argued strongly in Committee that much could be done through part-time work and that many opportunities are being missed because there is an enormous disincentive for people to go into part-time education, particularly if they are in receipt of benefit. We want the unemployed to be drawn back into education. My experience of working with mature women who want to return to education is that when they get over the hurdles and become students they are the most encouraging students to teach because of their commitment, dedication and determination to get on. We should not put all those hurdles in their way. I am arguing for more planning and co-ordination across the boundaries between school and further education, between voluntary classes in tenants' associations, the Workers Educational Association, and so on, and the maintained sector and between further and higher education. We have good experience where that has happened. There are some remarkable examples of good practice, despite the enormous hurdles. We need from the Government a signal that they understand the nature of the hurdles and that they are determined to find ways round them. That demands a close examination of funding for courses and students. The prevarication of the Government has been appalling. Students can only be confident about continuing education if they have substantial financial backing. The Government must consider differential funding for part-time and full-time education. They must also plan. Because of the attack on their services, local authorities have not got the confidence to begin to plan. In post-16 education we need planning not just within but across authorities. We need much more support for regional planning of further education for the 16-plus age group. I do not differentiate between education and training, but regional planning is essential if we are serious about enabling young people to continue their education. The only experience young people have had of training and education in many regions has frequently been negative. In areas like mine there is a very low stay-on rate and historically there are few women in the work force. That is changing, and it has to change. The level of skill and the qualifications for measuring skill are appallingly low. In such areas we need to raise skill levels and provide opportunities to develop skills. There is so much that the Government have missed. We have been arguing this week that all parts of the Bill should be linked. The move to tertiary education has been crucial in encouraging young people who saw education as having nothing to offer them to stay in education. That has been very important, particularly in my area. Ministers may remember that there was great resistance from schools with sixth forms to the setting up of Consett tertiary college. On Saturday I spoke to a teacher who is now a lecturer at that tertiary college. She was formerly a teacher in one of the sixth form colleges. She told me that she opposed the change root and branch and supported the argument against the college. She told me that she feared that they would have gone for opt-out if it was available then. She said, "I now know that I was absolutely and totally wrong. My experience of teaching at the college has been exciting and interesting." She told me that the range of students that she is involved with is much wider and that the opportunities available to her as a teacher have meant that her teaching has improved beyond all bounds. She said that she was worried that other areas might oppose such an idea in the way that she did at first. If that were the case, opportunities for young people would diminish. We have recounted the arguments before. I am worried that the Government have not responded to those arguments and they have not recognised the sincerity with which they have been made. We want the best opportunities for the widest possible number of young people and adults. The Government must provide a structure that will enable that to develop. At the moment the Government are centralising, and that means that the necessary adaptations and responses will not be made at local and regional levels. That would be tragic. We want the Government to reconsider and produce the right structure in the post-16 sector.
I am very cautious about speaking in an assembly that has already had such cogent things to say about being out of date.
Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)
That has never stopped the hon. Gentleman before.
No, and I take courage to speak from the knowledge that if I am out of date, so are many other hon. Members.As I was not a member of the Committee, I am somewhat puzzled by the debate. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to reassure me when he replies. I understood that the schemes that local education authorities are required to create will be annual schemes in the sense that they can he altered every year to take account of changing local circumstances. In that respect, they do not seem to be anything like as restrictive as Opposition Members have suggested. As a governor of one of the largest further education colleges in Kent, I believe that there are wide opportunities — which are extended considerably by the Bill — for colleges to find support from local business or in other ways almost where they will. The college to which I have referred established its own company last year and is looking forward to considerable freedom of movement and activity. We hope to be able to perform in a far more entrepreneurial way than ever before. Nothing in the Bill will prevent that from happening. I want to ask my hon. Friend the Minister a question that was put to me by a member of staff at an FE college. According to the member of staff's reading of the Bill, and to my reading of it, staff members are excluded from being part of the governing body. If that is the case, they are the only section of teaching staff throughout the education system who appear to be debarred from sitting on the governing body. I hope that we have misunderstood that, although clause 127 seems to give that impression. I hope that my hon. Friend will reassure me about that or make changes if I am correct. I cannot see any reason why members of the teaching staff should not be allowed to sit on the governing body if they are appropriate in other ways. My hon. Friends are in difficulty with the Bill because most of the major changes that we would like to see in the way in which further education is delivered, particularly to adults, throughout their lifetime, depend on funding changes which I do not believe are part of the Department of Education and Science's responsibility. I have already put the proposition to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment that the method of funding that he introduced in his training White Paper for the longterm unemployed should he adopted more freely for everyone who has been unemployed for, say, more than three months. 5.45 pm It should be possible to change the social security regulations so that the unemployed who wish to take approved training to acquire the kinds of skills that are in short supply in this country are allowed to continue to draw unemployment benefit. I realise that that is not a point to which my hon. Friend the Minister can respond. However, I believe that that is probably one of the most important elements in freeing the further education system so that it can serve those who perhaps need it most, namely, the unemployed.
This has been an interesting and worthwhile debate, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds-West (Dr. Hampson) on the lead that he has taken in promoting it. The debate is a tribute to his pertinacity and, as he pointed out, a tribute to the flaccidity of the official Opposition.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
Where is the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson)?
Unhappily, my hon. Friend is not in the Chamber, but I am sure that he is pursuing his pertinacity pertinaciously elsewhere.In his absence, I congratulate my hon. Friend on the concessions that he has obtained from the Government. I refer to Government amendments Nos. 233 and 234, which give effect to the commitments that we made in Committee. That answers a point made by the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), who referred to the points covered by those amendments. On behalf of the Government I want to state that we agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West and all other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate about the importance of continuing education. However, the amendments tabled by my hon. Friend are not necessary to achieve his objective. He said that his objective was to legitimise continuing education. The fact is that continuing education is already legitimate and widespread in our system, and that is a very desirable fact. That point is outlined in clause 99, which will add a new section 41 to the Education Act 1944. New section 41(2) says that vocational education or training includes
That is in the Bill; it is recognised and it is legitimised. That is what my hon. Friend was seeking. I draw the attention of the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) to that passage, because he made the extraordinary statement that there was no provision for that in the Bill."continuing education or training for persons already … engaged in a vocation as well as education or training for entry into any employment or vocation)."
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
I said that there was no duty.
There is a duty on local authorities to provide further education.My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-West also asked for local schemes to be created. Clause 116 provides for local authorities to draw up schemes for further education. Of course, there is guidance to come, and that will include reference to the concerns expressed by my hon. Friend. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Kent (Mr. Rowe) made his point about local schemes well in his brier intervention. I notice that he is wearing the tie of a well-known further education college somewhere near Slough. I can offer him the reassurance that he seeks about teachers as members of governing bodies of further education colleges. Clause 99 already requires local education authorities to have regard to relevant further and higher education provision in their areas. I think that that answers my hon. Friend's point about the importance of continuing education in the context of higher education. The amendments that he has put down are not necessary to meet the points that he seeks to promote. A more fundamental point is that we should seek to avoid over-specification in the Bill. There is something of a contradiction, and I make no apology for reiterating a point that I have made many times before. Hon. Members on both sides of the House make two points about the Bill quite regularly, frequently in the same paragraph, if not in the same breath. On the one hand they say that there is too much centralisation, and on the other they say that we should centralise more. Clause 99 lays a general duty on local authorities to promote further education, and that includes, among other matters, adult education. We feel that it is a mistake to single out particular categories of further education for special mention in the statute. There are varying needs in different areas, and we should not intervene too much and impose too many directions, instructions and specifications on how local authorities fulfil their duty to deliver further education.
Let me make two points. Does my hon. Friend accept that there is a point in being consistent? If he is really going to make a stand about not putting too much in, why has he put in, in brackets, the "aside" definition on page 96, which includes the words "continuing education"? I see no logic in putting that in if it is not included elsewhere.Does my hon. Friend accept that law can be declaratory, that it can influence attitudes in a climate, and that we should now be trying to signal to the world that continuing education is at the heart of the higher education system as it will develop at the turn of the century? Schedule 4, which amplifies clause 99, gives a list from (a) to (h), but does not mention continuing education. What is wrong with putting the words in to send a signal?
There is a case for listing a number of matters in the legislation, but we believe that it is necessary to keep the specification to a minimum, and that is the basis on which we are proceeding. Local education authorities have a duty to pay regard to the need for continuing education in their areas. That need varies from area to area, and we must leave it to their discretion.
We are timed, and I have a number of points to make to answer the debate.The hon. Members for Denton and Reddish and for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) returned to the general theme discussed on Tuesday, that of 16 to 18 provision. It was a pity that the hon. Member for Meironnydd Nant Conwy was not able to be present on that occasion. [HON. MEMBERS: "He was here."] I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. The congratulations of the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish to the Manpower Services Commission and the Department of Employment have been noted, and I shall pass them on. I join him in congratulating local authorities on their initiatives to promote access. We have great confidence that local authorities will fulfil their duty to promote further education. We do not consider it desirable to undermine them in that duty by intervening in the way that the amendments urge us to do.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
We are up against the guillotine. I must try to answer the points that have been made.Running through many of the contributions from Opposition Members was a call for planning mechanisms. The Government agree strongly about the importance of strategic planning by local education authorities in further education. I emphasise the word "strategic". Too often, "planning" can be rather an abstract term that distracts people from doing. In that context, I note with interest the decisions reported in today's newspapers from Hereford and Worcester in respect of its further education provision, which will give further education lecturers the opportunity to deliver more of such education to those who need it. The hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) made an interesting intervention, in which he questioned the Government's liberatory radicalism and urged us to be more liberatory and more radical. Let me draw his attention to the liberatory potential of financial delegation of further education colleges. Meanwhile, in the exercise of new thinking on the Opposition Benches—and the Opposition certainly need it — I noticed the hon. Gentleman's conversion to the idea of vouchers. That is a most interesting and impressive development, which leads to a new line of criticism that we have not heard before: that the Bill does not go far enough. That is a rather refreshing line of criticism, coming from the hon. Gentleman. We believe that there is a need for strategic planning in further education. We set that out in the consultation paper that was published in August, and widely welcomed. We pointed out that further education numbers are very difficult to predict. They fluctuate. That is one reason why it is necessary to avoid the rigidity of over-specified planning, but some of the Opposition's suggestions lead us in that direction. The relationship between further and higher education has been touched on. The new Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council will have to work closely with the local education authorities, and we consider that to be very important. A strong mutual interest will have to be recognised. The local education authorities will have an interest in the higher education that will be delivered in their further education colleges, and the PCFC will have an interest in the provision of further educaton in higher education institutions. This will enable them to work together, and they will have every inducement to do so, particularly at regional level, where they will be able to develop structures. The subject of access courses is very important. I agree strongly with what has been said by a number of hon. Members — notably the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong), the sincerity of whose views we very much appreciate. We welcome the increasing participation in higher education by more and more of the population, but, as the hon. Lady rightly pointed out, a problem will emerge in the mid-1990s as the 18-year-old age group diminishes. The Government are addressing the issue of access in that context. We are in discussion with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and with the Council for National Academic Awards about the recognition of access courses. We have commissioned a study by the development of adult and continuing education unit, which is funded by the Department, and we shall be pursuing the matter. Although access is improving all the time, there is more to do. In the meantime, nothing in the Bill will impede the development of access. It is one of the issues that the new PCFC will need to address at national level, and I am sure that it will wish to consider the hon. Lady's point about the funding of part-time education, as compared with that of full-time education. The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy expressed surprise that the Government were not following their ideology. I think that he has misunderstood our ideology. He believes that it is one of centralisation, and he tells us that he wants more centralisation in further education. Our ideology, however, is one of the devolution of power. That is why we believe that local education authorities have a continuing duty to provide further education. In contrast to the hon. Gentleman, who describes the position as a "mess of potage", we believe that the local authorities are doing a good job and that they should continue to do it. We do not believe that their elbows should be jogged as they do that work.
We listened carefully to the Minister, which is more than can be said of the hon. Member for Leeds, North-West (Dr. Hampson), who was not present for the Minister's opening remarks and who spent a large part of the rest of the time chattering to the Under-Secretary of State for Transport—the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley) — who came in to be entertained by the debate.The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science speaks with a forked tongue. Time and again in the debate we have been told to accept the good faith of Ministers and not to write undertakings into legislation. Even if we accept the Minister's good faith—which goes without question in respect of this Minister—he will not be a Minister for ever. Moreover, what he says cannot be enforced in the courts. If we are to make a reality of continuing education, it is crucial that the provision is written into the Bill. Local authorities would welcome that, because they know that from it would flow an undertaking from the Government to help to fund the education that local authorities have a duty to provide, just as the Government have to help to fund five to 16 education. For those reasons—
It being Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the orders [1 and 17 February] and the resolution yesterday, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, That the amendment be made :—
The House divided: Ayes 194, Noes 305.
Division No. 230]
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)|
|Allen, Graham||Battle, John|
|Alton, David||Beith, A. J.|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Bell, Stuart|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Benn, Rt Hon Tony|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Bermingham, Gerald|
|Ashton, Joe||Bidwell, Sydney|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Blair, Tony|
|Boyes, Roland||Janner, Greville|
|Bradley, Keith||John, Brynmor|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Johnston, Sir Russell|
|Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Buchan, Norman||Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn)|
|Buckley, George J.||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Caborn, Richard||Lamond, James|
|Callaghan, Jim||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Lestor, Joan (Eccles)|
|Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)||Lewis, Terry|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Livsey, Richard|
|Canavan, Dennis||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)||McAlliort, John|
|Cartwright, John||McCartney, Ian|
|Clay, Bob||McFall, John|
|Clelland, David||McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||McKelvey, William|
|Cohen, Harry||McLeish, Henry|
|Coleman, Donald||McNamara, Kevin|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||McTaggart, Bob|
|Corbett, Robin||McWilliam, John|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Madden, Max|
|Cousins, Jim||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Crowther, Stan||Marek, Dr John|
|Cryer, Bob||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Maxton, John|
|Darling, Alistair||Meacher, Michael|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Michael, Alun|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Dewar, Donald||Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)|
|Dixon, Don||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Dobson, Frank||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Doran, Frank||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Eastham, Ken||Mullin, Chris|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Murphy, Paul|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Nellist, Dave|
|Fatchett, Derek||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Faulds, Andrew||O'Brien, William|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Flannery, Martin||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Flynn, Paul||Parry, Robert|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Patchett, Terry|
|Foster, Derek||Pendry, Tom|
|Foulkes, George||Pike, Peter L.|
|Fraser, John||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Fyfe, Maria||Prescott, John|
|Galbraith, Sam||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Radice, Giles|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Redmond, Martin|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn|
|Gordon, Mildred||Reid, Dr John|
|Gould, Bryan||Richardson, Jo|
|Graham, Thomas||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Rogers, Allan|
|Grocott, Bruce||Rowlands, Ted|
|Hardy, Peter||Ruddock, Joan|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Sheerman, Barry|
|Haynes, Frank||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Short, Clare|
|Henderson, Doug||Skinner, Dennis|
|Hinchliffe, David||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)|
|Holland, Stuart||Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)|
|Hood, Jimmy||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Snape, Peter|
|Hoyle, Doug||Soley, Clive|
|Hughes, John (Coventry NE)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport E)||Stott, Roger|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Straw, Jack|
|Illsley, Eric||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis||Wilson, Brian|
|Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)||Winnick, David|
|Turner, Dennis||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Wall, Pat||Worthington, Tony|
|Walley, Joan||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Wareing, Robert N.||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)||Mr. Frank Cook and|
|Wigley, Dafydd||Mr. Adam Ingram.|
|Adley, Robert||Day, Stephen|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Devlin, Tim|
|Alexander, Richard||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Dicks, Terry|
|Allason, Rupert||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Amess, David||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Amos, Alan||Dover, Den|
|Arbuthnot, James||Dunn, Bob|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Durant, Tony|
|Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)||Dykes, Hugh|
|Ashby, David||Eggar, Tim|
|Atkins, Robert||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Atkinson, David||Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Evennett, David|
|Baldry, Tony||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Farr, Sir John|
|Batiste, Spencer||Favell, Tony|
|Bellingham, Henry||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Bendall, Vivian||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Benyon, W.||Forth, Eric|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Franks, Cecil|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Freeman, Roger|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||French, Douglas|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Fry, Peter|
|Bottomley, Peter||Gale, Roger|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Gill, Christopher|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Bowis, John||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Gorman, Mrs Teresa|
|Brazier, Julian||Gorst, John|
|Bright, Graham||Gow, Ian|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)|
|Browne, John (Winchester)||Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick||Gregory, Conal|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Grist, Ian|
|Burns, Simon||Ground, Patrick|
|Burt, Alistair||Grylls, Michael|
|Butcher, John||Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn|
|Butler, Chris||Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)|
|Butterfill, John||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Hanley, Jeremy|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hannam, John|
|Carrington, Matthew||Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)|
|Cash, William||Harris, David|
|Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda||Hawkins, Christopher|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Hayes, Jerry|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hayward, Robert|
|Chope, Christopher||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Churchill, Mr||Heddle, John|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)|
|Colvin, Michael||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Conway, Derek||Hill, James|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Hind, Kenneth|
|Cope, John||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Cormack, Patrick||Holt, Richard|
|Couchman, James||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Cran, James||Howard, Michael|
|Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Patten, Chris (Bath)|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Patten, John (Oxford W)|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Pawsey, James|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hunter, Andrew||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Irvine, Michael||Portillo, Michael|
|Irving, Charles||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Jack, Michael||Price, Sir David|
|Jackson, Robert||Raffan, Keith|
|Janman, Tim||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Jessel, Toby||Redwood, John|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Riddick, Graham|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Kilfedder, James||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Knapman, Roger||Rost, Peter|
|Knight, Greg (Derby North)||Rowe, Andrew|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||Ryder, Richard|
|Knowles, Michael||Sackville, Hon Tom|
|Knox, David||Sainsbury, Hon Tim|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lang, Ian||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Latham, Michael||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lightbown, David||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Lilley, Peter||Shersby, Michael|
|Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)||Sims, Roger|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Luce, Rt Hon Richard||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Lyell, Sir Nicholas||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|McCrindle, Robert||Speed, Keith|
|Macfarlane, Sir Neil||Speller, Tony|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Squire, Robin|
|MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Steen, Anthony|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)||Stern, Michael|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Madel, David||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Major, Rt Hon John||Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stokes, John|
|Mans, Keith||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Maples, John||Sumberg, David|
|Marland, Paul||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Marlow, Tony||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Mates, Michael||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Thorne, Neil|
|Mellor, David||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thurnham, Peter|
|Miller, Hal||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Mills, Iain||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Tracey, Richard|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Tredinnick, David|
|Moate, Roger||Trippier, David|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Trotter, Neville|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Moore, Rt Hon John||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Morrison, Hon Sir Charles||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Morrison, Hon P (Chester)||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Moss, Malcolm||Walden, George|
|Neale, Gerrard||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Needham, Richard||Waller, Gary|
|Nelson, Anthony||Walters, Dennis|
|Neubert, Michael||Ward, John|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Warren, Kenneth|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Watts, John|
|Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)||Wells, Bowen|
|Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley||Wheeler, John|
|Page, Richard||Whitney, Ray|
|Patnick, Irvine||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Wilkinson, John||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Wolfson, Mark||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Wood, Timothy||Mr. Robert Boscawen and|
|Woodcock, Mike||Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.|
Question accordingly negatived.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You may recall that in the last debate, in answer to a series of questions put in the debate and in Committee by myself and by Conservative Members—
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will defer his point of order until I have put the Question, as I am required to do by the order of the House.
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions on amendments moved by a member of the Government up to the end of clause 109.
Amendments made: No. 254, in page 96, line 3, leave out 'that is to say' and insert—
'(1A) Subject to subsection (1B) below, in this Act "further education" means'.
No. 255, in page 96, line 9, at end insert—
'(1B) Full-time education suitable to the requirements of senior pupils over compulsory school age shall not be regarded for the purposes of this Act as further education if it is or is to be provided by an institution which does not provide part-time senior education or post-school age education to a significant extent.
(1C) In this Act—
(a) "part-time senior education" means part-time education or training for senior pupils over compulsory school age; and (b) "post-school age education" means full-time or part-time education or training for persons of or over nineteen years of age.'
No. 256, in page 96, line 10, leave out from beginning to 'in' in line 11 and insert
'References above in this section to education and training or (as the case may be) to education or training include'.
No. 257, in page 97, leave out lines 32 to 34.
No. 258, in page 97, line 34, at end insert—
'(6A) In section 67 of that Act (determination of disputes and questions), at the end there shall be added the following subsection—
"(4A) If in the case of any institution a question arises as to whether any current or proposed provision of part-time senior education or post-school age education by that institution amounts or would amount to the provision of such education to a significant extent, that question shall be determined by the Secretary of State.".'
No. 259, in page 97, line 39, leave out from 'In' to end of line 45 and insert
'section 114 of the 1944 Act (interpretation)—
(a) in subsection (1)—
(i) after the definition of "further education" there shall be inserted the following defini-tion—
"Higher education" has the meaning assigned to it by section 99(1) of the Education Reform Act 1988;";and
(ii) after the definition of "parent" there shall be inserted the following definitions—
"Part-time senior education" has the meaning assigned to it by section 41 of this Act;"
"Post-school age education" has the meaning assigned to it by section 41 of this Act;";and
(b) after that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsections—'.
No. 260, in page 97, line 50, at end insert—
'(1B) For the purposes of this Act, an institution which provides part-time senior education or post-school age education shall be regarded as providing such education to a significant extent if the provision of such education by the institution is not merely incidental to the provision of education which is not part-time senior education or post-school age education.
(1C) For the purpose of determining whether an institution is a school as defined by subsection (1) of this section, the provision by the institution of part-time senior education or post-school age education shall be disregarded if the institution does not provide such education to a significant extent.".'.—[Mr. Jackson.]
The Higher Education Corporations
Amendments made: No. 138, in page 173, line 28, leave out 'had'.
No. 139, in page 174, line 13, leave out from 'board' to end of line 14. — [Mr. Jackson.]
Articles Of Government
Amendments made: No. 120, in page 101, line 14, leave out 'if any'.
No. 121, in page 101, line 16, leave out 'any' and insert 'the'.
No. 122, in page 101, line 18, leave out 'any such' and insert 'the'.
No. 123, in page 101, line 22, leave out '(if any)'.— [Mr. Jackson.]
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise for seeking to raise a point of order at an inappropriate moment, but the Minister, in reply to the question posed by myself and Conservative Members about a serious matter relating to the funding of further education institutions, said that the Government had answered the question with amendments Nos. 123 and 124. The Minister may have rnisunderstood the nature of his own amendments as they did not address the question about which a promise was made. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may agree that it might be appropriate for the Minister to give an undertaking that, if it is impossible for the correct answer to he given now, it should be given later in the form of a letter.
The hon. Gentleman is correct. I had misunderstood his reference. In fact, the amendments do not cover his point. The point was misunderstood and its interpretation in the Bill was a misunderstanding. It is true that the hon. Gentleman is owed a letter which should be circulated to every hon. Member on the Committee. I shall ensure that that letter is sent, and I apologise for the fact that it was not sent sooner.
Universities Funding Council
Mr. Win Griffiths
I beg to move amendment No. 423, in page 105, line 32, at end insert—
"(1A) The Council shall establish a sub-committee on matters relating to Wales.'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 424, in page 105, line 34, at end insert
'and at least five who shall serve on the Welsh sub-committee and be appointed after consultation with the Secretary of State for Wales.'
No. 425, in page 105, line 35, after 'members', insert ',
of whom at least two shall be members of the Welsh sub-committee,'.