House Of Lords
Thursday, 1st May, 1986.
The House met at three of the clock ( Prayers having been read earlier at the Judicial Sitting by the Lord Bishop of Hereford): The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
Skill Shortages In Manufacturing
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to remedy the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing industry.
My Lords, recent evidence on skill shortages in manufacturing industry shows that some skills are in short supply in a limited number of sectors. It is primarily for industry itself to resolve this, but the Government are investing some £1·4 billion this year in the Manpower Services Commission's vocational education and training programmes in order to create a more positive environment for training and make some direct contribution to the supply of skills in most demand.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware—I am sure that he is—that just last month, in a joint report between the CBI and the Manpower Services Commission, it was stated that one in seven manufacturing firms in this country has had to reduce production because of a lack of skilled workers? Do the Government accept no responsibility whatever for training workers in this country in the skills necessary to sustain our manufacturing industry?
My Lords, I should have thought that expenditure of £1·4 billion—an all-time high—would show that this Government are very concerned indeed to ensure an adequate supply of skilled labour.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that yesterday his reply when he was asked about the number of firms applying for adult training schemes was very sad? The vast majority of firms are not making any attempt to carry out adult training. Is it not therefore ironic that the firms that need skilled workers are not taking part in the adult training schemes that are available? Will the noble Lord elaborate on what the Government intend to do to get these firms which need skilled workers to go in for the simple matter of training them so that they become available?
Yes, my Lords, but these are two distinct matters. I can express some satisfaction with the Government's efforts towards meeting the demand for skills in short supply but at the same time dissatisfaction about the view taken by employers towards their responsibilities for carrying out training.
My Lords, is the Minister aware of the shortage of skilled engineers and draughtsmen, particularly in Lancashire? What proportion of the money is being allocated for training such people?
My Lords, the usual question I am asked in relation to Lancashire concerns the high level of unemployment. I was not aware until this moment that draughtsmen were in short supply there. I shall look into the matter.
My Lords, is the noble Lord not as disturbed as the rest of us that every time in the postwar economic history of Britain there has been a resurgence of economic activity, and in particular new prospects for our exporting abroad, we seem to come across the same problem? May I mention that I have just come back from visiting an exhibition held by GEC at Wembley, where I was speaking to its executives about problems over the recruitment of trained engineers? I was told that the company was extremely short of people in this category.
Yes, my Lords, but that has been a symptom of postwar experience in this country alongside the decline of the enterprise culture. We have somehow not bothered about training or about the provision of engineers. We have looked more towards other skills. That is changing today. I only hope that we have time to make up the shortage.
My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that whereas there are 600,000 apprentices in West Germany there are only 40,000 in this country? Is he further aware that whereas 94 per cent. of 17 year-olds in Japan are at school or in full-time education, the figure is only 30 per cent. in this country? Is he also aware that between 1981 and 1984 the university population of this country was cut by 10,000? There were 10,000 fewer university students in 1984 than in 1981. Is this not a government responsibility?
My Lords, it is, I believe, safe to say that, ever since 1982 when I went to the Manpower Services Commission, and, indeed, for years before, I was aware of the woefully inadequate measures of training for young people. However, it is unfair to compare apprenticeships which are a formal part of the German education and training system and apprenticeships in this country which have been limited in the main to the construction and engineering sectors. Today, we have the national two-year YTS. We have training for young people on a scale unparalleled in our history. We shall see as the years go by that we catch up with our principal competitors. As to universities, that is another question.
My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the comparatively high wages that it has been necessary in the past to pay apprentices have been one reason why firms have been loath to take on youngsters for training?
My Lords, in 1983, the electricians' union agreed a national deal under which it halved the level of apprentice wages. As a result, the number of apprentices in the electricity industry more than doubled. The engineers refused to do the same, and the decline continued. There is a great correlation between the level of young people's wages and the opportunities for work.
My Lords, we welcome the allocation of money for training. Can the noble Lord say precisely how this money is to be spent and through which agencies it will be channelled by his department? Can he say how many skilled workers over the next years will be trained as a result and in what branches of skill they will be trained?
Of course, my Lords; up to about 400,000 young people a year will be entering YTS. They will be coming out of a two-year YTS well on the road towards vocational qualifications. That is unparalleled in our history. In a year or two's time, there will be up to 700,000 young people engaged on vocational skill training. In addition, we shall be helping up to a quarter of a million people each year on adult training schemes. There has never been such a concerted effort towards training by government at any time in our history. Ten years ago, when the problem of youth training first came up, the then government looked at the principle of YTS and discarded it because of cost. That speaks for itself.
My Lords, is the Minister encouraging girls as well as young men to go into engineering? I understand that many girls are interested in pursuing this line.
Yes, my Lords. During my time as chairman of the Manpower Services Commission we gave total backing to WISE and towards programmes helping young women and young girls to go into engineering. Indeed, the principle of all Manpower Services Commission schemes has been no discrimination on grounds of sex or, for that matter, on any ground.
Is the noble Lord aware, as he has mentioned the position 10 years ago, that unemployment was then at less than a million? Will he also take account of the serious complaints emanating from the universities and the polytechnics at the Government cutback in the very important work of producing scientists and engineers?
My Lords, 10 years ago was the time when we should have laid the foundation for training young people and perhaps then the outcome would have been better. That is, however, a different question. As for universities and polytechnics, the Government have to ensure that the amount of research and training done helps to play a part in the economic life of the nation and is not research done simply for its own sake.
My Lords, in relation to the question asked by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, is my noble friend aware that there are well over 1,000 places in engineering unfilled at British universities because the schools are not turning out people qualified to enter upon these courses?
Yes, my Lords, and a further cause of concern is this. The Government have entered upon a programme to give additional resources to the universities for the provision of more electronic engineers. I hope very much that the schools system will respond by providing enough people with suitable qualifications for those courses.
My Lords, will the noble Lord not agree that after seven years of a Conservative Government it is a disgrace that there are 1,000 places unfilled?
My Lords, all I will say is that the responsibility for education in this country is vested in local education authorities and not in central government. That is something that everyone in your Lordships' House would do well to remember.
My Lords, the noble Lord told me that reductions in university places was "another matter". It should not be just "another matter" for the Government that 10,000 places were lost between 1981 and 1983. Is this not reducing essential research and training for our manufacturing industry by reducing the number of undergraduates within the universities, and is that not the Government's responsibility?
My Lords, it is another matter because that is another question. But if the noble Lord was asserting that the places lost have a direct relation to manufacturing industry, I venture to disagree with him. If he would care to put down a Question on the subject, I am quite sure that we shall provide the answer.
My Lords, following the replies of the noble Lord, may we take it that he utterly rejects the old fashioned capitalist idea that when labour is in short supply better wages should be offered?
My Lords, I believe greatly in the market principle. I am sure that wages rise to increase supply, and eventually supply will rise to fill demand.
My Lords, has not the shortfall to which the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, referred in the universities been partly taken up by the vacant places in polytechnics, and is not the polytechnic level in engineering one that we badly need to improve? Will the Minister consider making representations to his right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education that more universities should be urged to go over to sandwich course degrees? It is only through sandwich course degrees that we shall get close co-operation between industry and universities.
My Lords, I shall gladly do that. There are some who feel that an unsatisfactory outcome of Robbins was the conversion of many very good polytechnics to universities. But we should be looking at our centres of excellence and ensuring that they conform more closely to the needs of industry and commerce and to the life of this country. But I shall convey that message to my right honourable friend.
My Lords, if the Minister believes so much in the purity of supply and demand, why is he spending £1·4 billion in this area?
My Lords, the reason is that I believe in lubricating supply and demand, and that is a very good lubricant.
"Air Transport And The Consumer"
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they propose to take following receipt of the report from the National Consumer Council entitled Air Transport and the Consumer.
My Lords, we have strongly welcomed this report and its support for our campaign to liberalise air services in Europe. We hope that it will be read widely by consumer groups and governments throughout Europe. For our part, we are continuing to press for further liberalisation in Europe, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
My Lords, is the Minister aware that I was not sure who would be answering the Question today? It was the Department of Trade and Industry which requested the report, whereas the responsibility for civil aviation rests with the Department of Transport. Is he further aware that I say that knowing that the request was made in October 1984; and that may have been the reason?While we all hope that the report will be widely read, we should like the Government to do something about it. May I ask the Minister whether he agrees that, while the decision reached by the European Court is of great interest, and we shall come back to it later, it has a special significance in that it arose out of a refusal by the court to allow an appeal by the French Government against M. Jacques Maillot, who is the head of Nouvelles Frontieres, which is the second largest chain in France, for the issuing of cheap fares? Finally, is he aware that the first page of the National Consumer Council Report deals with the Treaty of Rome? Can he comment further on any action that the Government might take?
My Lords, the noble Baroness asked her Question of Her Majesty's Government and it was indeed Her Majesty's Government who replied. With regard to the judgment of the European Court yesterday, it is very wide of the Question on the Order Paper. But in view of its importance I think that it would be helpful to the House if I made this comment. The judgment was long and complicated. Therefore I can give only preliminary reactions on behalf of the Government. However, the ruling generally is helpful to our efforts to secure liberalisation of air transport in Europe and it is therefore welcome. We particularly welcome the fact that the court has now made clear beyond doubt what we have said all along, that EC competition rules apply to aviation.
My Lords, will the noble Earl convey to his noble friend Lord Bethell the Government's appreciation of his efforts in this matter?
My Lords, I shall indeed pass on the compliments of the noble Lord to my noble friend. But we hope that we shall be able to succeed where my noble friend has not by negotiation.
My Lords, is it sufficient for the Minister merely to say that the Government welcome the report? The report covers 104 pages and has 29 recommendations, and there are six working papers covering another 134 pages. Would it not be advisable for them perhaps to issue a green paper giving full details?
My Lords, the Government asked for the report. The comments and recommendations to a large extent support the Government's policy. We have therefore not considered it necessary to issue a further green paper.
May I ask the Minister, without being referred to the usual channels, and as the Leader of the House is here, whether it would be courteous to the National Consumer Council, which has produced this enormous report after great research, if we had time for a debate, not necessarily on what the Government will do but on what the National Consumer Council has reported to the Government? Does the Minister think that he could recommend to his noble friend the Leader of the House that we might have government time to debate the report?
My Lords, with my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip beside me I can do no more than remind them of the request of the noble Baroness.
Hbmc: Finanical Management
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, pursuant to Lord Elton's reply of 21st April [H.L. Debates, col. 1068], which referred to additional expenditure by the marketing division of the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission to cover marketing expenditure which "had not been properly authorised", what changes have been made in the original budgets of the other divisions of the commission.
My Lords, the budget for the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for 1985–86 was £59 million. I understand that at the midpoint of that year the commission identified savings and underspends achieved in the normal course of business which amounted to rather less than 2 per cent. of that total. This was more than sufficient to meet the expenditure to which the noble Baroness's original Question referred.
My Lords, while I thank the noble Lord for that reply, I should like to ask him whether there has been any contraction in the other projects of the other divisions—for instance, in historic buildings or archaeology. The noble Lord in his reply said that the excess expenditure in the marketing division was £0.6 million, which represents a 50 per cent. increase over the original budget for that division. I should like to know who authorised this? Who was responsible for controlling it? Are those who were responsible for it still with the Commission?
My Lords, with regard to the first supplementary question of the noble Baroness, I think that on reflection she will find the reply implicit in my first and substantive Answer. The amount of money involved—which was £600,000—was substantially less than the contingency money available to the Commission at the half-year point. The virement between different vote heads at no stage breached the maximum which requires ministerial sanction.With regard to the second supplementary question of the noble Baroness, the difficulty arose because the money was not properly authorised. That was revealed by the audit report to which I referred in my first Answer. I can tell the noble Baroness—as I believe I have already made clear—that our own auditors will be conducting a further audit later this year.
My Lords, I am sorry to press the Minister but the situation really is not satisfactory. The noble Lord has not answered the question which I put to him about who authorised this and who was responsible for this expenditure, which the noble Lord described in his Written Answer on 21st April at col. 1068 as not being,
Moreover, if there were an underspend, and if this unfortunate excess expenditure had not taken place, am I not right in assuming that the money would have been available to be spent on other necessary matters instead of there being an overspend by the marketing division which I would certainly give the Minister credit for at no point trying to defend?"properly authorised or sufficiently rigorously controlled".
My Lords, it is always true that if you spend money on one thing it is not available to be spent on another. In this case the money was from the contingency amount made available at the mid-year in the way in which I have described. As to individual responsibility, that is a matter which has been looked into by the commission. I do not think that I should name in Parliament those who signed cheques, but I assure the noble Baroness that we are seized of the matter and that there will be a further departmental audit later this year.
My Lords, surely it is a question, not of who signed the cheques but of who authorised the signing of the cheques which involved expenditure which was 50 per cent. greater than the marketing budget. The noble Lord said in his earlier reply that it was not "properly authorised". Who authorised it?
My Lords, when a person signs a cheque without proper authority he authorises it himself, and that was the irregularity to which I referred.
Royal Festival Hall: Foyer Space
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the South Bank Board decided to close the "Bookspace" literature centre in the Royal Festival Hall.
My Lords, the South Bank Board are carrying out a full review of the foyer space in the South Bank concert halls, and are considering the relocation of "Bookspace". It is the board's intention to increase the presence of literature on the South Bank.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer and accept that a review is being carried out. However, is it not the case that "Bookspace" has been operating for only a few months, has been very successful and is the one way of bringing literature and books together in a cultural mix with the other arts on the South Bank? Will he give us further assurance that space will be made available, even if in the beginning it is on a temporary basis, so that the continuity will not be broken? Is he aware that the year I have heard mentioned is 1988? It would be a great pity if nothing were done about books or literary events until then.
My Lords, the GLC asked the designated South Bank Board whether, if they did install the "Bookspace" area, they would propose to continue to use the space for literature. They were told that the South Bank Board would not so decide to do. It is, therefore, rather surprising that the GLC nonetheless went to the trouble and expense of creating something which they knew would be moved in five months' time.The second supplementary question of the noble Baroness is perfectly understandable: the noble Baroness wants to see literature provided for. There are many plans, and I am sure that they will be proceeded with as quickly as possible.
My Lords, I bear in mind and appreciate what the Minister has said. However, would he not agree that the Royal Festival Hall is the quality cultural centre of not only London but the United Kingdom, and that there are many people involved in these great activities who are somewhat apprehensive as to its future? Will the Minister give some assurance and make some statement, if not today at some time, to assuage those fears?
My Lords, I can see no reason at all why anybody should be apprehensive about the future of the Festival Hall. It is part of the complex for which the South Bank Board are the ground landlords, and I have every confidence in the South Bank Board.
My Lords, would not the Minister agree that, even by its political opponents, it is generally agreed that the GLC made a great success of the improvements which they carried out at the Royal Festival Hall? Would the noble Lord also agree that the South Bank Board would be well advised to follow up or to carry on that policy, rather than to make changes for the sake of making them?
My Lords, not in this particular case. the fact of the matter is that the area which was called "Bookspace" totally blotted out the splendid view of the Thames and the London skyline, so that nobody could see them at all. Now the South Bank Board have some rather better plans. They are looking into the possibility of accommodating the Arts Council's Poetry Library on the South Bank; they are considering whether the Purcell Room could be more closely identified with literature in performance—for example, poetry readings and play readings—and they are also looking in detail at the scope for exhibitions, and other events related to literature, in the foyer area as a whole.
My Lords, what we are talking about here—
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but I should like to take up the point about the Poetry Library. The noble Lord mentioned that the Poetry Library will be accommodated on the South Bank. Is it not the case that it has been offered the Waterloo Room, which it believes, quite rightly, is extremely inaccessible, that people just passing through that area will not visit it, and that it is looking into alternatives? Therefore, that situation has also disappointed the "Bookspace" staff and worried them about their future.
My Lords, I do not think that that has very much to do with the "Bookspace" area. I said that this was one of the plans of the South Bank Board. It is being considered, and quite rightly too.
My Lords, I apologise for not allowing the noble Baroness a fair hearing. Is the Minister aware that what we are talking about as regards the "Bookspace" is an area which used to be the restaurant of the Festival Hall, with a beautiful view over the Thames—an area which the new authority intends to return to that use? Is he further aware that the GLC were given full notice of that matter by the South Bank Board? Moreover, in the context of certain questions which have been answered, is he aware that those of us who are regular visitors to the Festival Hall are already heartened and encouraged by the signs of excellence and of standards which have become evident in the activities of the South Bank Board since 1st April?
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is absolutely right. The area in question was used as a restaurant, and certainly consideration is being given to returning it to restaurant use again so that people can not only eat there but also enjoy the view. I am particularly glad that the noble Lord has asked his second question, because the Government would most certainly agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has said. We believe also that literature has its rightful prominence in the type of centre which is being developed on the South Bank
My Lords, is it true that the restaurant to which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, alluded is intended, as part of the plan, to be turned into a private restaurant for the use of sponsors, and its use denied to the public? If that is so, why should it be so?—because sponsors already have the use of the Hungerford Room.
My Lords, I have no information on that matter. It will be a matter for the South Bank Board.
My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 this afternoon my noble friend Lord Glenarthur will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is being made in another place on prisons.It may be for the convenience of the House if I announce that the Committee stage of the Education Bill will be adjourned at approximately 7.00 p.m. for approximately one hour and that during this adjournment the House will again be in Committee on the Museums and Galleries (Prohibition of Admission Charges) Bill.
Business Of The House
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
Moved, That the debate on the Motion in the name of the Baroness Seear set down for 7th May, and on any amendment thereto, shall be limited to 5 hours and that Standing Order 35 and paragraphs 10 to 13 of the Rules for the Conduct of Short Debates shall apply to the debate with the substitution of "5 hours" for "2½ hours" and "25 minutes" for "20 minutes".—( Viscount Whitelaw.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
Education Bill Hl
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—( The Earl of Swinton.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House in Committee accordingly.
[The LORD ABERDARE in the Chair.]
Clause 37 [ Appraisal of performance of teachers]:
moved Amendment No. 85:
Page 38, line 42, leave out from ("duties") to end of line 2 on page 39.
The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 85 refers to the reserve power of appraisal which the Secretary of State is to take under Clause 37 of the Bill, which provides the opportunity, if there is no agreement between the local education authorities and the teachers' organisations or the teachers collectively on appraisal, for him to take that power for himself and to secure that there are regulations for appraisal to his own liking.
I wish to make it clear that, as was said on Second Reading, we on this side of the Committee are not opposed to the principle of appraisal. We hope, as I am sure the Government hope, that it will be possible for a voluntary agreement to be reached between the teachers' organisations and the local authorities on the appraisal that is in our view necessary, and that therefore the whole of Clause 37 will not be necessary, or will not necessarily be implemented. On the basis that the Government feel it necessary to take these reserve powers, we believe that there are two instances in which the reserve powers go too far and offend against the best interests of the teaching profession and the education service as a whole, and Amendment No. 85 is concerned with the first of those.
In subsection (1)( a) it is provided that the regulations shall apply to teachers "in discharging their duties". There can hardly be any objection to that. That is clearly what appraisal is to be about, and we do not question that. But subsection (1)( b) goes on to say that the regulations apply to teachers,
"engaging in other activities connected with the establishments at which they are employed".
That implies that these are not duties. I am conscious that there is, and has been, controversy about the definition of duties between teachers and local education authorities, and indeed with the Government, over a number of years. But one way in which it will certainly not be possible to resolve it is by saying, as the Bill as at present drafted says, that appraisal is to apply to what are in effect voluntary activities.
At this stage it seems curious that the Notes on Clauses say something that appears to me to be different from the provisions of the Bill itself. The Notes on Clauses, which are usually so helpful, say:
"The Government hope that these discussions will produce an agreed definition of duties the performance of which will then voluntarily be made subject to appraisal".
I cannot see in this clause any indication that these duties, or indeed any other activities, are voluntarily to be made subject to appraisal. As I read Clause 37 it says that the reserve powers will be to impose appraisal on both the duties of teachers and these other activities.
It may well be that I am reading the provision wrongly; I am no expert in drafting matters. But it appears to me that the clause does not say what the Notes on Clauses indicate, and that what is being proposed here is compulsory appraisal of voluntary activities. That seems to us to be an unnecessary provocation, an unnecessary extension of the principle of appraisal in itself, and one which we query with this amendment. On the basis of the Government reply we shall have to consider what position we take on this matter. I beg to move.
It seems to me that this amendment overlooks the fact that in most schools most staff are required to do duties of some sort outside their actual written engagement, such as invigilating for examinations, being on duty for lunch, or something similar. There are many minor details. Teachers might even be asked to be present on the ground during games, or something like that. It is narrowing down a schoolmaster's activities very much to say that he may do only this, that, and the other. He should want to take part in the life of the school. That is a far better way to engender a feeling of partnership in the school and a desire to do it well.
We should have clear in our minds the difference between a duty and a voluntary activity. The two paragraphs of the subsection very clearly make a division. The first relates to duties—and nobody can deny that if anything is to be appraised, duties should be appraised—and the second relates to activities which are not duties. Duties are obviously such things as teaching, preparing for lessons, parent meetings, staff meetings, supervision, and the like, as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, mentioned. In my view he was referring to supervision duties.However, paragraph (b) relates to activities undertaken by teachers which they do not have to undertake. I take that to mean the voluntary activities such as the running of clubs and societies which, as I have said before in your Lordships' Chamber, are the chief joy and bright spots in a teacher's day. A teacher's day is always extremely hard working. It is often stressful and, I am afraid, quite often discouraging. But the sort of thing that he can do with children which he does not have to do, such as running a club or a society, is the bright spot in his day. This is because of the very fact that it is voluntary, and it also tends to be successful because it is also voluntary for the children. If this becomes subject to appraisal, it becomes something that the teacher has to do because he has to think of his future and his promotion chances. As soon as he has to do it, it ceases to be voluntary. That takes the joy out of it for both him and the pupils. I feel strongly that this paragraph should not be there. If the teacher is to be appraised in regard to such activities, he must be appraised by someone who is reasonably expert in them. Suppose you have a woman teacher teaching dancing. How can anyone appraise a dancing club unless they know something about dancing? I think that teachers would fear—I know that I would have feared, as a teacher, rehearsing a play, which is what I spent most of my voluntary hours doing—that whoever came to appraise them would not know anything about the activity. This may well be a fear of teachers. I am not saying that the out-ofschool activities of teachers should not be taken any account of. They should enter into a general consideration of a teacher's quality, but not in any specific way. Therefore, it is a great mistake to introduce this as a separate paragraph, and I support the amendment.
When the Minister replies will he throw a little light on what is going on between the teachers' organisations and ACAS at the present time? I understood that the reference to ACAS covered conditions of service and other matters in dispute between the Secretary of State and the teachers' unions. The impression I had was that this matter was part of conditions of service and was therefore within the scope of the discussions they were to have with ACAS. They have been given a few months to try to come up with something permanent, agreed, and comprehensive.Here we are considering putting a matter of this kind into statute law. It is preposterous that Parliament should be occupied, with all its Members and expense, in dealing with a matter of this kind which elsewhere is dealt with as a matter for negotiation and agreement between staff interests, management, and those responsible for the organisation. I know of no other sector in the public service where it is necessary to have a law before you can report on people, and have some appraisal of their qualifications and their aptitude for advancement and of whether the whole organisation is efficient because of the common denominator of quality within the organisation. All this is management. What an out-of-date set up we must have for the teaching profession and the teaching organisation if we have to have a statute law before we can decide whether or not a teacher is qualified according to some prescription or report made upon him. The activities referred to in sub-section (1)(b) are external activities in one way. They are assumed always to be voluntary. They may not be entirely irrelevant to the general usefulness, quality and character of a teacher. In many reporting systems—I have had a great deal to do with many of them and invented one of them—outside activities and interests were not irrelevant to the assessment of aptitude and the characteristics and general fitness of an officer. We have all this in the Civil Service. We have a special set of reporting arrangements in a technical department such as the Inland Revenue. We have different reporting forms and systems for management as distinct from other classes and I should expect the form to be prescribed in due course would be different according to the classification of the people being reported on. I do not object to anybody being reported upon who was engaged in activities for which they were in some degree accountable, especially in the public service. We are all reported upon. Probably the least reported upon people are Members of this chamber. They can get by with anything or nothing. We have no constituents to say how good or ill we are. We might occasionally have a favourable or unfavourable comment in the press or in somebody's speeches against which we have no appeal, but we are not regarded as fitted for promotion by some qualities we display here that are reported upon in any formal way. It is better to have this appraisal done by agreement so that people accept the structure upon which their qualifications are to be judged. Management is interested because it has to do the invidious job in many cases of making an appraisal of those who are serving with them or under them. In any agreed scheme I should not expect these other activities mentioned in the clause to which this amendment relates to be ruled out entirely. However, if one is asked to put them in, for the Secretary of State to have statutory powers to ask for these items to be included in the report made on teachers, one bridles against it. What are we coming to? We shall soon have to have statutory authority to allow teachers to use lipstick and to make themselves presentable. Many of them are not! But we are making ourselves look ridiculous. I hope that the Secretary of State will have enough gumption—he has plenty surely by this time—to leave this clause out of the Bill altogether, when we come to it, and let this take its proper place in the discussions that are now going on. He can see what he can do to incorporate this in a complete system of new pay and conditions of teachers and get some kind of harmony restored in this outfit. He will not get this while the teachers are in their present state of mind. He will not get this while management is in its present state of mind. This is a dead duck in this Bill. We are wasting time on it. It is about time that we submitted ourselves to an efficiency test and said, "This is rubbish, get rid of it!"
I am delighted to follow my noble friend in his theme. Of all the time-wasting and expensive Bills that we have ever been presented with, this has to take the cake. At a time when the teachers are trying to get a little extra salary we are to spend money on ridiculous things like training governors.However, when it is said that there is not already an appraisal of teachers I feel that shows a lack of information. What is the county inspectorate doing? What are Her Majesty's Inspectors doing? They are constantly going round schools, appraising teachers and submitting reports. If this is now to be extended to out-of-school activities—and I seem to recall that I spent a lot of time taking primary school children to pantomimes and to sports grounds—then I am not sure whether that would have been in my favour or would have been described as a subversive activity which perhaps would have gone against me in an appraisal. I support everything that my noble friend has said. The teachers are totally demoralised and here we sit discussing this kind of nonsense when we should leave it to the profession to do their job. No other profession has been interfered with as much as the teachers. For Heaven's sake, let them get on with the job.
My noble friend Lady Young made clear on Second Reading that the Government hope that the negotiations now taking place will make sufficient progress to allow an early start to the practical field work which the Government have long wanted to launch. We do not expect the talks themselves to lay down an exact working model, but we hope progress will be made. We have no national blueprint to impose.I think that I can answer the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. ACAS is indeed discussing conditions, duties and appraisals. In fact, four working parties are now sitting and are, I understand, to report in mid June. Like the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, the Government wish them every success. We hope that this is the way to do it. Of course, this is the way to do it; but surely it is not provocative—and this is only an enabling power—for this to be put in the Bill in case they do not come up with a satisfactory solution. After all, this was first mooted by my right honourable 'friend in October 1984 and it appeared in the March 1985 White Paper Better Schools. Contrary to what the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, said, the principle of appraisal is accepted on all sides. I cannot see any provocation in moving it in this Bill just in case it has to be used as an enabling power. As I said, this amendment attempts to pre-empt the outcome of the current talks. If the talks go well, we can expect agreement on:
These duties should form the core of the appraisal scheme. In addition, the intention is that other activities, such as running: clubs, societies, weekend activities, and so on, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, should be appraised. The Government firmly believe that many activities which teachers are not contracted to undertake are part of a teacher's overall contribution to the life of the school and there should be scope in the appraisal process for recognising that contribution. The amendment would effectively deny that teachers make a considerable professional commitment to the well-being of our schools through those activities. If only contractual duties are appraised, the extra commitment made by teachers who run a multitude of other activities will be ignored. That cannot be right. Here I take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, and also the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips: the idea of this appraisal would be to the advantage of the teachers. After all, if a teacher spends his or her lunchtime running a chess club or taking the children out on walks, it is surely right in the appraisal that these things should be brought to light, and this would go down on the teacher's very good record."a clear definition of the contractual duties and responsibilities of teachers".
This happens already.
I should not reply, as the noble Baroness speaks from a sedentary position; but the whole idea is that from now on this should be the situation. She also asked what is the point when already confidential reports are made by authorities and appraisals are carried out. I am delighted to say to the noble Baroness that this was the very first question I asked when I went to be briefed about this. Having served for many years on a local education authority I said just what the noble Baroness said—one gets confidential reports. The point of the confidential reports made now is that they are made behind the teacher's back by somebody and as often as not the teacher has no right to find out what is in them or to question them. This will make it clear that the teacher has a right to find out what is put in.Surely if the teacher is doing something extra above the call of duty in the school and taking part in school activities at lunchtimes, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, said, this is rewarding, the idea is not that they should have to do it but if they do it and do it voluntarily this should, as it were, be a Brownie point to them. I think that is absolutely fair. It may be argued that the inclusion of non-contractual activities in the appraisal process is unfair to those teachers who are highly competent in the classroom but simply cannot afford the time for additional activities. The Government firmly believe that classroom effectiveness is the prime test of a teacher's success. But they also believe that other factors—for example, relations with parents, pupils and the local community—add to classroom teaching to define the teacher's total contribution to the school. The weighting given to non-classroom factors will always, and rightly, be less than that given to classroom teaching. But if a teacher is able and willing to help with other useful activities, it seems right that that contribution should be formally recognised. It is possible, as I said to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, that the current talks will not produce:
If, unfortunately, there should fail to be agreement between the employers and the unions on this issue, the Government would then expect LEAs to appraise these duties which the employers believe to fall within the express or implied terms of their contracts of employment with teachers—together with those other activities by which teachers contribute to the full life of the school. I hope this explanation helps remove any concerns that this clause might be used in some way to "punish" teachers who do not take part in activities other than duties. This is not the case. The reverse is the case. The Government want to see an appraisal system which is not mechanically restricted to duties but is flexible enough to recognise the extra professional commitment through which teachers contribute to the vitality of schools. Teachers themselves expect that contribution to be recognised, and so it should be. If they are doing things beyond what is laid down for them, it is only right, as I have said, that they should benefit from that. This amendment would destroy that flexibility and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey—and I know that he is a reasonable person—will feel having heard that explanation, that he is able to withdraw this amendment."a clear definition of the contractual duties and responsibilities of teachers".
Before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether he can clarify something for me. If the appraisal goes against the teacher then what happens?
The teacher will be able to meet the people who are appraising him and will be able to discuss the appraisal and make very clear what he thinks about it. That is something which does not happen at this time.
I wonder if the noble Earl the Minister can help me on a very small point. Who is to supervise the activities of the teachers who supervise the better part of 100,000 children at Wembley attending the final of the Schoolboys' International? Would that be a function of the Secretary of State?
I think that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, whom I very much respect, is getting somewhat carried away here. This is not laying down what teachers must or must not do. This is saying that, if teachers do things which are bringing extra credit to them and to the schools in helping the children, that should be recognised as such in their appraisal.
As the Minister says, I am a reasonable man. I am also noted for my devout adherence to the proprieties of the Committee. I spoke only about the amendment and not about the wider issues which have been raised in debate. I am bound to say that the contributions of my noble friends and others have convinced me, if I needed convincing, that the issue is more serious than what is covered by this amendment, and the reply from the noble Earl gives me much greater concern about what is in the mind of the Secretary of State and whether this is the right way to go about it.The Minister has indicated the kind of weighting—and he used the word himself—which will be given to classroom activities as opposed to other activities. Clearly, the Government have in mind some sort of balance between classroom duties and other activities. There has been a good deal of discussion about what are duties and what are not duties and, clearly, the Government have in their mind some definition—and not just the definition which may be arrived at by the ACAS negotiations—of what are duties and what are not duties. The Minister replied to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, in terms of the use to which appraisal is to be put. That is the absolutely fundamental question. Clearly, the Government have in their mind some formula for the use to which these appraisals are to be put. What we are being asked to give to the Secretary of State here is a blank cheque on appraisal. There is no indication of who should do the appraisal. There is no indication of what the objectives of the appraisal shall be; there is no indication of the range of activities which the appraisal will cover, other than that it can be totally all-embracing. There is no indication of whether the appraisal is to be used only to the benefit of teachers in order to encourage good teaching and to encourage professional development among teachers. whether it should be used actually for rewarding teachers—and there are plenty of arguments on both sides of that issue—or whether it should be used for punishing or ultimately removing bad teachers. Again, there are arguments on both sides of that issue. The more one thinks about the seriousness of the appraisal issues and the more one looks at the description which is made of it in Better Schools and the lack of any precision in this section of the Bill, the more sceptical one has to be about the wisdom of including this clause at all in the Bill as it stands. Before making up my mind finally on what to do, I must ask the noble Earl to respond to the particular question that I asked him about the wording of the Notes on Clauses and how that is reflected in the clause itself. The Notes on Clauses, I remind the Committee, say:
I ask the noble Earl directly, where in the text of the Bill is that voluntary aspect of appraisal made?"performance of which will then voluntarily be made subject to appraisal".
The Notes on Clauses refer to the ACAS talks which are going on and where the Government fervently hope that a voluntary agreement will come out. If that is reached then the power will not be used.
I agree with that. That is certainly what is said in the sentence that I read out earlier. But does that mean that every aspect of a teacher's working life, or even, to some extent, leisure life, is going to be controlled compulsorily by appraisal? The whole point about this clause is that this is provision for compulsory appraisal. What may be agreed voluntarily by negotiation is a very different thing from what can reasonably be imposed by the Secretary of State on the basis of statute.I am afraid that this debate has raised wider issues than those in the amendment itself but the amendment is a boiling down of one of the most important issues on appraisal and I do not believe that it is one which this Committee ought now to pass on from without expressing a decision.
On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 85) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82: Not-Contents, 103.
DIVISION NO. 1
|Alexander of Potterhill, L.||Ewart-Biggs, B.|
|Amherst, E.||Ezra, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Foot, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Gallacher, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Galpern, L.|
|Banks, L.||Gladwyn, L.|
|Bernstein, L.||Graham of Edmonton, L.|
|Birk, B.||Grey, E.|
|Bottomley, L.||Hampton, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Harris of Greenwich, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Hatch of Lusby, L.|
|Caradon, L.||Houghton of Sowerby, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Irving of Dartford, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||Jeger, B.|
|Crawshaw of Aintree, L.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Cudlipp, L.||John-Mackie, L.|
|David, B.||Kennet, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Kilmarnock, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Serota, B.|
|Lockwood, B.||Shepherd, L.|
|McIntosh of Haringey, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Stallard, L.|
|McNair, L.||Stedman, B.|
|Mais, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Mellish, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Mishcon, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Molloy, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Morton of Shuna, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Nicol, B.||Tordoff, L.|
|Oram, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Phillips, B.||Wallace of Coslany, L.|
|Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.]||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Rathcreedan, L.||White, B.|
|Rea, L.||Wigoder, L.|
|Rhodes, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Ritchie of Dundee, L. [Teller.]||Willis, L.|
|Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Rochester, L.||Winterbottom, L.|
|Allen of Abbeydale, L.||Hooper, B.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Belstead, L.||Ilchester, E.|
|Bessborough, E.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Blake, L.||Kitchener, E.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Layton, L.|
|Broxbourne, L.||Long, V. [Teller.]|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Buckmaster, V.||McFadzean, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Marley, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Merrivale, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Mersey, V.|
|Coleraine, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Cox, B.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Orkney, E.|
|Davidson, V.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Peyton of Yeovil, L.|
|Denning, L.||Porritt, L.|
|Digby, L.||Portland, D.|
|Dundee, E.||Reilly, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Renwick, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Elles, B.||Romney, E.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Elton, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Faithfull, B.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Fanshawe of Richmond, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Ferrers, E.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Forester, L.||Somers, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Gainford, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Swinton, E.|
|Gardner of Parkes, B.||Terrington, L.|
|Gisborough, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Glanusk, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Glenarthur, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Gray of Contin, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Gridley, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Hayter, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Henley, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Hives, L.||Young, B.|
|Hood, V.||Young of Graffham, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
I think this might be a convenient moment to take the Statement. I beg to move that the House be now resumed.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
The Prisons: Disturbances
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement on prisons which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:"Mr. Speaker, as I undertook in the House last night, I will with permission make a further Statement on the situation in the prisons. "I reported to the House last night on events at Lewes and Northeye prisons. Disruption continued there during the night but the situation has now been brought under control, though at both establishments, and particularly at Northeye, there has been extensive damage to buildings. Police intervention was necessary at Bristol to regain control of one wing of the prison, and at Erlestoke Youth Custody Centre some 40 trainees made a mass breakout: some 16 are still at large. The other more serious incident was at Wymott, where there was a major disturbance but where staff were gradually able to regain control. In addition, a number of lesser incidents took place at 12 other prison establishments. "The situation in all establishments has now been brought back under control. I want to take this opportunity to pay public tribute to hard-pressed prison governors, those prison staff who remained at their posts and the members of the police and fire services who have helped to restore the situation. "There will need to be an inquiry into these events. The form and scope of this will have to be compatible with any police investigation into alleged offences, and I will keep the House informed. "I have taken immediate steps to try to ensure that, now order has been restored, it can continue to be preserved. Prison governors are in touch with their local chief officers of police about the situation in their establishments. After consultations with me, the acting President of the Association of Chief Police Officers has opened the National Information Centre at New Scotland Yard to collate and disseminate information relating to the police involvement in the current prisons dispute. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence has ordered preparations in case military camps are needed to house prisoners as a result of the destruction of prison accommodation. Arrangements have been made to ensure a co-ordinated response by all government departments to the present difficult situation. "Although some of the violent action by prisoners may have been imitative, there is little doubt that the occasion for it was the overtime ban instituted by the National Executive Committee of the Prison Officers Association as part of its dispute with the Prison Department about manning levels. This both increased the prospect of trouble in the prisons and reduced the resources available to deal with it. I believe that not only the public but many members of the prison service, including members of the Prison Officers Association, will have been appalled by the events of the last 24 hours. "I therefore welcome the decision of the National Executive Committee of the POA to suspend its current industrial action to allow talks at the Home Office to take place. The POA ask for a reciprocal gesture, asking us to allow staff to work normally and lift threats of suspension. I see no difficulty about this: staff temporarily relieved from duty, that is to say suspended, can lift their own suspension by agreeing to work normally. We cannot start substantive negotiations until the threat of industrial action has been removed. But I have invited the NEC to discussion at the department with a view to the simultaneous calling off of the industrial action and the institution of discussion about the agenda for the future which I set out in my letter of 22nd April to the POA General Secretary. The House will recall that this agenda involved: a rapid settlement of this year's pay claim, including the outstanding question of a reduction in the working week for prison officers; the immediate payment of tax compensation on housing allowance for 1985–86; bringing forward as fast as possible work on new shift systems and pay arrangements for detailed discussion with the POA, with a view to the new arrangements being in place by April 1987. "I very much hope that the POA NEC will respond positively and constructively to this package and that the talks I have set in hand will find a way through present difficulties. The House may be assured that I shall be doing everything I can to ensure that the control that has been regained in our prisons is maintained and that a constructive way forward is found from this destructive dispute." My Lords, that concludes the text of the Statement.
My Lords, the House will be grateful to the noble Lord for repeating the Statement of the Home Secretary. When we discussed this matter two days ago I ventured to say that we were facing a grave situation in the nation's affairs approaching a national emergency. I fear that the events of last night have confirmed that anxiety up to the hilt. The whole country will have been appalled at the savagery of the events, at their widespread nature and at the anarchy which has prevailed in the prisons.We deplore and we condemn the violence. What we need, and what I think the nation demands now, is an early resolution of the dispute. As the Home Secretary's Statement has indicated, the Prison Officers Association has today taken a crucial and constructive step towards a truce (which was the phrase I used two days ago) by suspending industrial action. It is therefore essential now for the Home Secretary to respond by taking further steps to facilitate discussions with the Prison Officers Association national executive which could resolve this dispute. Accordingly, I suggest that the Home Secretary instructs his officials to get in touch as soon as possible with the national executive committee of the Prison Officers Association so that they can discuss together the basis for a possible agenda for talks. There is still a good deal of ground to cover. The House will be aware that the industrial action that has taken place followed a ballot of the members of the association which overwhelmingly supported industrial action. However, an agreement for the agenda as to talks and their resumption could well ease the way for the process that will end this dispute. I hope that the Home Secretary will take action on those lines so that this grave threat to the security of the country and of the people themselves may be met by negotiation—by give and take on each side—in order to avoid a renewal of last night's arson and anarchy. A resumption of that would be intolerable for the nation to endure.
My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for repeating the Home Secretary's Statement in the House of Commons, may I ask him whether he agrees that last night's wretched events have undoubtedly done a great deal of damage to the self-confidence and reputation of the British prison service? Can I ask him whether, notwithstanding that, he will pass on to the many dedicated prison governors and staff who did not abandon their positions last evening our congratulations, and I am sure I speak for many in all parts of the House? Without them, people would have lost their lives last night, and it is right that the courageous men who stayed at their posts should have public tribute paid to them. I hope that these words will be passed to the prison service.
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one or two questions specifically? There is a suggestion of an unconfirmed report of the death of two inmates at Northeye. If the Minister will forgive my saying so, that is rather a strange statement. Have bodies been discovered? If the prison department now has total possession of Northeye prison, why should there be any doubt about this? No doubt there is an explanation, and I am sure we should like to have it.Can the noble Lord also say what form of inquiry the Home Secretary is considering setting up into these events? Very naturally, he has said that this cannot get in the way of the police inquiries which are obviously going to have to take place. But is it thought that a member of the judiciary will be involved? I think it would be helpful if he could give us a preliminary indication of what is to be done. Lastly, may I put this to him again? Does he agree that the background to this problem is twofold? First, there is an urgent need, which I think is recognised by all who care about the reputation of the prison service, to support the position of governors in prison department establishments. We just cannot tolerate a situation where we have this form of anarchy year after year; the often unpublicised anarchy which has taken place. If we are to get some benefit out of the dismal events of last evening, it is critical that the position of governors should be enhanced. Secondly, does the Minister agree that these very sad events take place in the context of gross overcrowding throughout the prison system? That is emphasised by the fact that military camps may have to be used because of the loss of one prison department establishment; namely, Northeye. Will he consider with his right honourable friend whether it is not necessary once again to look at the provisions of the executive release scheme? The House has discussed this matter on a number of occasions, but unless there is some relief to this huge problem of prison overcrowding, I am afraid there will always be a risk of violence in our prisons.
My Lords, I am grateful to both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, for their remarks in expressing horror and condemnation of the violence which took place last night. I am sure that is something which we all feel; and, like both noble Lords, I and my right honourable friend the Home Secretary hope that we can achieve an early resolution of the problems which have arisen.The Statement made plain the Home Secretary's proposals for talks with the national executive committee of the Prison Officers Association. I hope that the formulation which is spelt out in the Statement is one which covers the suggestions made by the noble and learned Lord that my right honourable friend should respond in the way that has been suggested to facilitate discussions. That is what is suggested in the Statement and that is what will go ahead. I share entirely the views of both noble Lords when they suggest that any resumption of activities of the type we saw last night would be intolerable not just for the prison service but also for the public. I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, that I shall of course pass on the congratulations of the House to all those who stayed at their posts and to the governors, who, I can state from experience, having been in the operations room until about two o'clock this morning, were performing a most amazing job in juggling the necessary components of the prison service and the police to meet the need as it arose. I shall do what the noble Lord suggested. On the suggestion that there may have been a death at Northeye, it has been rumoured—the rumour came from prisoners—that two inmates had died there. I am glad to be able to report that there is no substance in those allegations. The debris of the prison has been sifted and no bodies have been found. The noble Lord asked whether I could give him any further information about the nature of the inquiry which my right honourable friend has proposed; I cannot at the moment. I hope that the noble Lord will accept the paragraph in the Statement which dealt with the matter. As my right honourable friend has suggested, the inquiry will have to be compatible with any police inquiries into alleged offences. He will of course keep the other place informed and I shall no doubt have the opportunity to keep your Lordships informed. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that support for governors is essential. Governing a prison is no easy task. There are many competing claims and difficulties facing governors and they therefore need the support of everybody working in the prisons, and people outside, in order to carry out the difficult task that they face, particularly at a time of increasing costs, and, as the noble Lord mentioned, of overcrowding which in some prisons, as he is aware, is acute. On that matter it must be said again that we have embarked on a huge prison building programme. Over the next few years 16 prisons are to be built. That will be no mean feat. When it is done it will largely meet the concerns which the noble Lord expressed. It comes of course within the whole criminal justice field and there are other matters which must also be looked at. That is a significant and imaginative project which has been taken forward and is gathering speed. The subject of executive release was raised by the noble Lord the other day, I think. The early release power contained in Section 32 of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 is intended for use only in extreme circumstances. I do not believe that those extreme circumstances have yet been reached. It is important to bear in mind that only a dozen or so prisons out of about 125 were affected last night. It speaks volumes for those concerned in the other prisons that nothing more serious happened. Nevertheless, my right honourable friend has said that he is not prepared to use that early release power except in extreme circumstances. I believe that I have covered most of the points raised by noble Lords opposite.
My Lords, can my noble friend say whether, apart from the 16 young offenders whom he mentioned had escaped from the Wiltshire centre, in the course of those horrible events any other prisoners, and if so how many, have escaped? Can he also confirm, in the light of the better news that he has given us today, whether the normal working of the criminal courts has been resumed?
My Lords, the latest information I have is that 16 prisoners from Erlestoke are thought to be still at large and 10 prisoners from Northeye are similarly presumed to be at large. Those are the only prisoners at large I know of. With regard to the courts, my right honourable friend issued instructions to the courts yesterday in the form of a circular which I announced to your Lordships the other day. It is too early to say whether that should be withdrawn.
My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Lord one question. Nobody can deny that the work of a prison officer is highly skilled and demands a long training and, let us face it, considerable courage. Can he say what steps, if any, the Government are taking to draw more young people into the service, because I understand that one of the great difficulties has been due to understaffing in the prisons?
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that the task of a prison officer is a difficult, dirty and often dangerous one. Nevertheless, many of those who work in prisons are extremely highly motivated and do a great deal for the benefit of the prisoners. Current plans are to recruit at least 1,200 prison officers during the present financial year. As I said the other day, between 1979 and 1985 the number of prison officers rose by 18 per cent. to nearly 19,000 while the prison population rose by only 12 per cent.
My Lords, will the noble Lord tell the House how far existing prison officers' salaries compare with equivalent grades in the police force? If that information is not immediately available, will he let me have it in writing?
My Lords, I do not have a direct comparison with me. I shall let the noble Lord have details in writing. The average earnings of prison officers is in the region of £15,000 a year.
My Lords, bearing in mind that the level of overtime has been and is an emotive issue, does the noble Lord the Minister now appreciate that the working of overtime is called for wholly in the interests of the prison service and that hitherto prison officers have worked overtime to avoid the kind of situation that occurred yesterday? Now that the prospects of talks has emerged, does the noble Lord the Minister accept that prison officers recognise their great responsibility to the service, prisoners, the public and their members and that there must be a successful outcome to the talks? I wish the Home Secretary and the prison officers a fair and honourable resolution acceptable to both parties.
My Lords, I note what the noble Lord says about overtime, but I am sure he will realise that the amount that is being worked to achieve an average figure of about 16½ hours of overtime a week must in many cases lead to excessive amounts of overtime. I must say that while it is important that one's response to these issues should be measured, there are many examples, of which the noble Lord will be aware, which lead to inflexibilities in the system and to a promotion of overtime. That is why it is suggested that we discuss the package set out in my right honourable friend's letter of 22nd April. I hope that what has been said in the Statement today will go some way towards that.
My Lords, has the Prison Officers Association made any claims or set of demands that can be put on the record so that the public may understand what the dispute is about? If we are to resolve it, is it not a good idea to know what it is about? Although I have followed all the events, I have great difficulty in knowing what the row is about and what justifies the action. The public must be as uninformed as the rest of us. What is the reality of the dispute?
My Lords, there is, I suppose, a fairly substantial history to what has arisen over the past few weeks. The Prison Officers Association says that it is concerned about the maintenance of safe manning levels and regimes. It seeks the right in negotiations to determine what those manning levels should be. My right honourable friend and I are as concerned as the POA about the safety of prison officers and their professional standards, and we have repeatedly made clear that management is ready to consult the POA about manning levels. But I cannot concede that the union has a right to determine those levels. In effect, that would give the union and not Parliament the right to set the budget for the prison service.
My Lords, I rise from these Back-Benches for a reason that the House will know, by virtue of the fact that I have disclosed an interest in that my firm acts as legal advisers to the Prison Officers Association. I think we all welcome the Minister's Statement, as repeated in this House, and the words of wisdom that fell from my noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones. May I suggest, in view of the fact that discussions are to take place, that further questions of the nature of the last two are not very helpful? Could we therefore proceed to the next business?
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what I think was a suggestion that, at a time when emotions run fairly high and considerable damage has been done, it is not sensible to raise the temperature any further than it has already been raised. I am grateful to him for suggesting that.
Housing And Planning Bill
Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.
Education Bill Hl
House again in Committee on Clause 37.
moved Amendment No. 86:
Page 39, line 3, leave out ("requirements as may be prescribed") and insert ("arrangements as they may determine")
The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I acknowledge the decision of the Committee in relation to the previous amendment. I also acknowledge that it is clearly the Committee's view that Clause 37, however defective it might be in the eyes of some of us in practice, ought to be a part of the Bill. I want to put to the Committee the case that the provisions which are made in line 3 of page 39 are an unnecessary, as well as an overbearing, requirement.
The Bill proposes that the appraisal which is to be established under the conditions of this clause shall be,
"in accordance with such requirements as may be prescribed",
and it is clear from this that the prescription shall be by the Secretary of State. Even if one were to accept in full the argument that there has to be some sort of ultimate sanction for the Secretary of State to impose appraisal, if agreement has not been reached—and I repeat that we all share the wish that agreement should be reached and that this clause should not necessarily be brought into effect—it is a different thing to suggest that the content of the appraisal shall itself be determined by the Secretary of State.
I want to suggest to the Committee that appraisal is a matter fundamentally between the teachers themselves, collectively and individually, and their employers, the local education authorities, and that therefore, whatever the original impetus may have been for an imposed scheme of appraisal, surely its implementation and the arrangements for its implementation should be left to the teachers themselves and to their employers. That is what this amendment seeks to provide.
It seems to me that the possibility of conflict and resentment from a scheme which is imposed both on employers and on teachers is far too great a risk for the Government to sustain, and I confess I am surprised that the Government should seek to add this additional burden on to their own appraisal scheme. None of us wants it. It is accepted that it is the wish of the Committee that it should happen, but surely it would be much more effective if, having been imposed, the requirements should be those of the local education authority rather than of the Secretary of State.
I do not see how it can be argued that the local education authorities are unfit to make these arrangements and to lay down the requirements for an appraisal scheme themselves. After all, as was said on a number of occasions on Second Reading, appraisal is not a new thing. Appraisal has been in existence as long as there has been a teaching profession. It may have been informal, it may have taken all sorts of different forms, but the appraisal of teachers as a basis for promotion, as a basis for continued employment, as a basis for the career and professional development of teachers, is something which has been part of the teaching profession ever since the very beginning. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, said this very effectively in his speech on Second Reading.
Indeed, when one turns to the role of Her Majesty's Inspectors it could be argued that the corps of Her Majesty's Inspectors actually predates an effective national education department, and that the original purpose of the Board of Education was to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspector rather than any other purpose. That, after all, is one form of collective appraisal of the work of teachers in the schools. To that extent, surely it is a very considerable break from tradition to say that the appraisal scheme which is necessary, which we all agree to be necessary, however little we agree about how it shall be achieved, shall itself in its operation and in the arrangements for it be under the direct control of the Secretary of State.
I believe that this is not an amendment that is at all in conflict with the decision of the Committee on the preceding amendment. I believe that it is an amendment which ought to commend itself to the Government in self-defence, if for nothing else, against a charge of being overbearing, which I am sure they would not wish to be levied and, I am equally sure, they would not wish to have sustained against them. I very much hope that the Government will see the rationale of this amendment and find ways of accepting at least its spirit, if not the actual wording. I beg to move.
I must re-emphasise my view that this clause has no suitable part of this Bill at the present time. My difficulty on this amendment is different from that in relation to the previous one, but I want to examine for a moment or two just how difficult it is to ask the Committee to accept the version in the clause and (at the moment equally as difficult, so far as I am concerned) to accept the amendment as making any contribution to resolving the dilemma. I think we want to know to what use these appraisals will be put. Without that, we really do not know what form they should take or whether they should be gone into in greater detail in the statute, if that is where we have to deal with the matter, so that we know exactly what we are doing.To the question, "To what use are these appraisals to be put?", we can only turn to subsection (2) of Clause 37, which is in general terms of jargon of the statute law, saying that they are for such purposes as may be prescribed. However, in looking at appraisals it matters a great deal to know for what purpose they are going to be used. That indeed is the root of much suspicion by staffs when they are asked to submit to a reporting system. Who is going to see the reports? To what use are they going to be put? Are they confidential? Where can the reports go for other people to see when members of staff are seeking other employment? If the Secretary of State wants to arrive at some overall assessment of the quality of the teaching profession and to know into what classifications of efficiency, ability and potential for promotion they fall, he will want a common form of appraisal throughout the teaching service. He cannot manage without it. It would be a nonsense to a scheme of that kind to ask the local education authorities to formulate their own appraisal system because they could all be different. An authority would formulate one for itself for internal purposes without necessarily having regard to the use to which the Secretary of State might wish to put it. There are half a million civil servants—more of them indeed than teachers. There are 75,000 civil servants in the Inland Revenue. We formulate for them a reporting system of general application so that at any time the administration can say what sort of staff it has; it can say what is the standard of recruitment: and it can look at this from the point of view of what pay they ought to have. Is this kind of concept—the use of the appraisal system—going to form any part of what the Secretary of State wants to do; or is this purely a local affair? If it is a local affair for the information of the local education authority—something that it ought to do as a matter of internal discipline—let local education authorities formulate their own appraisal system. But if the Secretary of State wants this for a wider purpose—and I rather suspect he does; I certainly should if I were in his position—he must have the appraisal conducted on a common form related to the different classes and grades to which the appraisal system is to apply so that the different classifications would have their standard form of appraisal. That is what I think the Secretary of State has in mind. If that were so, he would negotiate the system through the Whitley Council—that is, if there was one, but there is not. How sad it is that teachers are so bereft of sensible negotiating machinery. He would have to negotiate it with the teachers unions centrally and get it agreed for application to the teaching profession as a whole for all that he wished to bring within the scope of this appraisal system. That is how it should be done. Then the appraisal would take place within the machinery of the local education authorities, which would be responsible for looking after the work being done, gathering the appraisals together, making whatever summaries they wish, supplying information to the Secretary of State and so on. But we do not know whether what I am offering as a conjectural basis for this appraisal system is what the Secretary of State has in mind. All we know is this jumble here on page 39. It may mean anything. If one is a teacher, one cannot be entirely free of anxieties in the absence of more information as to the purposes to which the provision might be put. Therefore I am bothered about this. I am bothered about the clause and I am bothered about the amendment. When it says,
presumably the statute law intends the Secretary of State to prescribe them. If not, the whole situation is different from the one I have described. Can we please know what is in the mind of the Government?"such requirements as may be prescribed",
The noble Earl the Minister said a moment or two ago that this is only an enabling clause. When enabling clauses offer the hope that the Minister is going to do something that you like and want him to do, then you are all behind enabling clauses. But if the enabling clause is almost a covert threat that he is going to do something that you do not like but it is going to be imposed, you have a very different attitude.
We are so lacking in information that we cannot do this job intelligently. I beg of the Minister who has all that documentation in front of him to disclose the mind of the Government on the nature and use of the system that this clause is intended to bring into existence. We may then be able to get on, although I think the more sensible course would be, before we are asked to put the provision into the form of statute law, to discuss it with those who will be the workforce within the system, the management who will administer it and the Secretary of State who is going to use it. Until that is made clearer, the Government should not ask us to pass anything on Clause 37.
I should like to speak for a moment or two about the difficulty that will be involved in appraisal in a scheme any more structured than that which exists already. It is going to be very expensive. We are not talking about that today but I mention it in passing. Extra staff will be needed as well as a great deal of extra computerisation, filing and goodness knows what else.It will also be difficult for this reason. One has to bear in mind that teachers are not salesmen. Over the past year I feel that there has been a tendency to regard them as such. I want to quote to the Committee a few words from the interesting and thorough survey of appraisal methods that was undertaken by the Suffolk Education Authority. The last words of the introduction are:
in plain English, that means that there will be good teachers and less good teachers—"To make or to help make a teacher more effective in the iob must take account of the complexity of the task of teaching, it must take account of the fact that there is and will continue to be a spectrum of teacher competence"—
Those things should be said about the work that the teachers do. I should also like to say that this seems an unfortunate moment for legislation about appraisal. I say this for two reasons. The first is the low state of teacher morale at present and the implied threat, to which the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, referred, that teachers may feel is implicit in this clause. Secondly, negotiations are taking place at this moment with ACAS which involve the teachers and it may be advisable to wait for the issue of these. I should like to say a few words about teacher morale. The education service has been under attack for a long time. I noticed an instance of that this afternoon. Noble Lords may not have been particularly aware of it, but when a Question came up earlier about skilled workers I heard murmurs from one or two places in the Chamber about it being the teachers' fault. There has been a great deal of this about in recent months and teachers are sensitive to it. They are very aware of it. They feel that their professional competence is being challenged. There is a lot of talk about bad teachers, poor exam results, children leaving school half educated and so on. The profession has been under attack. Of course there are bad teachers, but there are bad doctors, bad lawyers and bad parliamentarians. The teachers have been at the receiving end of a great deal of veiled criticism of this sort for a long time past, with the result that to the poor pay that they receive and the implied low esteem of society has been added the "incompetent teachers!" cry. I feel that the Secretary of State has forgotten that a pat on the back is worth two raps on the knuckles. I do not think that is a well known proverb, as I made it up this afternoon. Perhaps I may add a few further words about appraisal. Teachers are told that it is about career guidance, professional development and in-service training and that it is all in their interests: but that is not what teachers think it is about. If one speaks to them it is apparent that their view is much more negative. They think it is about awards and punishments. They think that it is about being awarded with merit pay or accelerated promotion, or punished with decelerated promotion, disciplinary action of some sort and ultimate dismissal. Teachers feel threatened. I fear that, owing to the bad relationship which they have with the Secretary of State at the moment, this clause on the Secretary of State's enabling power is unfortunate. For those reasons we feel that arrangements should be left in the hands of the local education authorities, which will have to operate any such scheme, and indeed are doing so, in an amorphous way. We feel that it is more sensible and more reassuring to teachers; and nothing could be more important at the moment than for teachers to be reassured. Therefore, I join with the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Irving of Dartford, in supporting this amendment."that much of what a teacher does and achieves cannot be measured and that some of his work indeed does not bear immediate fruit".
I should like to take this opportunity, following my noble friend and following what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, to speak about this mysterious clause. One learns, and my short exercise in government taught me always to beware of that part of a Bill called "Miscellaneous". It always contains the most contentious clauses as far as I can see.Under the heading Financial effects of the bill, which I always look at first, it states:
That is very good to know."Clause 37 is an enabling power and no costs are consequent on its enactment".
and this is the part to note—"If and when a teacher appraisal scheme comes into being there will be costs at the local authority level, partly for administration"—
Now we know that it is the teachers who will appraise the teachers. At least we have moved one step further. That makes it all the more difficult to operate and all the more reason why people will feel that there will be some discrimination against someone. We all know the criticism that is accorded the doctors' complaints board because, it is said, doctors are complained about to other doctors, and that is not desirable. Here we shall have the teachers appraising other teachers, if we can believe the explanation of this clause. I should like to endorse what has been said. The teachers see it as some criticism of their work, whatever way one looks at it. As I have said, they are already reported on quite enough. At the moment it would not matter how good the appraisal was of a teacher; the reason why they are employed is that they are coming in at the earliest part of the scale and because they are the cheapest. Those are the plain facts. That is because so much money has been taken from the local education authorities."but mostly in respect of teacher time used in preparing for and operating the scheme".
I am worried about the situation as it has emerged in the discussion. If I follow the noble Lord, Lord Plowden, correctly, the concept of the Secretary of State wanting a national system, so to speak, seems to suggest that the Secretary of State is to become the employer of the teachers. I know of no case where people who are not employees of the Government are subject to such an appraisal.I am bound to remind the Committee that even when the percentage grant from central government was 60 per cent. of the cost of the education service there was never a proposal other than that the local education authorities were the employers of the teachers; but now that the contribution is about 49 per cent. and the local authorities bear 51 per cent. of the cost, is it suggested that this, so to speak, minority shareholder, the Secretary of State, is to run the whole service? I am appalled at such a suggestion. The 1944 Act was perfectly clear in its concept of the relationship between central and local government. For 20 years that worked most successfully and the education service was developed rapidly and, in my opinion, effectively. Unfortunately, party politics then became mixed up with it and that caused all the trouble. The Committee will know where it started. It was at a Conservative Party conference in Scarborough, which passed a resolution approving the tripartite system of education. The Labour Party promptly passed a resolution in favour of comprehensive education. They have been arguing about it ever since. I cannot believe that we will not do dreadful harm to the education service if this Bill emerges with the Secretary of State enjoying a power greater than any Secretary of State in the history of the education service in this country. That frightens me more than anything else. Central control and direction is not the answer in a democratic society. Distribution of power in the education service—as I have said repeatedly and as I said in my maiden speech in this House—is a fundamental condition of freedom in a democratic society.
I was not able to be present during the discussion on the previous amendment, and so I hope I shall be forgiven if anything I say on this amendment I should have said then.My understanding, and I hope that my noble friend will confirm it, is that this suggestion has nothing whatever to do with running teachers from the centre, any more than the move in the examination system towards measuring against national criteria rather than against the group being examined in a given subject at a given time is the centralising of teaching. Surely the setting of national criteria against which local authorities can make arrangements for assessing teachers and in which they can involve teachers in assessing themselves—which, as the noble Baroness observed, is in the financial explanation—is the way that it should be done. The setting of national criteria can only be a good proposal. If one does not do that one always finds people within one local authority making arrangements against the criteria that they set themselves the previous year and perhaps meeting objections that have occurred the previous year, so that one authority is perhaps lowering expectations and another raising them. How much better to have national criteria within which the local authority works. I may be misunderstanding the intention, and it is certainly not clear from the legislation precisely how it will operate, but it is no more than that. It seems to me that not to have national criteria would be a great mistake. It is not what people want. They want teachers to know where they are and not to be at the mercy of party politics. A good appraisal system will get politics out of promotion in those authorities where politics are playing far too big a part. It will make it clear to everyone what the arrangement is—and it will not always be the same in every authority—and how teachers can aspire to improve their performance. That does not seem to me to be threatening at all. It is what the public want and I should have thought that it is what everyone wants, except possibly some local authorities which are alarmed that they will not have 100 per cent. of the say. However, they are quite accustomed to meeting national criteria in other ways and they will do so here. It seems to me to be the national mood and the national will, and, indeed, a very sensible arrangement.
For the second time, I find myself making a "clause stand part" speech on the amendment. We seem to have had a number of points made in the last debate all over again. Noble Lords will be aware that in Better Schools, the Government stressed that appraisal was a key instrument for developing teacher quality. This clause gives the Secretary of State an enabling power to set up by regulation a national framework for appraisal. I stress the words "national framework". The Government's preference remains for appraisal to be introduced voluntarily on the basis of practical fieldwork and voluntary agreement between the teachers' unions, the local education authorities and the Government. If this desirable outcome is achieved, it might well be appropriate to use the enabling power of this clause to set firmly in place this national framework.Local appraisal schemes are developing. The noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, mentioned one in Suffolk. We are watching that with interest. A national framework is needed to ensure that the many teachers who move about the country have their performance appraised in a broadly consistent way. Failing a national agreement, a legislative framework would be essential to avoid proliferation of inconsistent local schemes. In either case, the intention is not to create a straitjacket but to provide room for local manoeuvre within broad national guidelines. I have made abundantly clear—as everyone will, I think, agree whatever their views on the amendment—that the Government's preference is for appraisal to be introduced voluntarily on the basis of voluntary agreement between the teachers' unions, the local authorities and the Government. Even with this desirable outcome, it might well be appropriate to use the enabling power to set up a national framework to ensure that the many teachers who move about the country have their performance appraised in a broadly consistent way. I was a little surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, say that this is a break from tradition. I was even more surprised to hear the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, whose knowledge of the education system far outweighs mine. I remember as a very junior member of an education committee trembling in awe and terror before the noble Lord and then having a jar or two afterwards with him. I would, however, point out that there is already a national framework for the appraisal of probationary teachers. If the noble Lord has forgotten that or temporarily overlooked it, he will find it set out in the 1981 teachers' regulations. If all concerned see that a national framework is desirable and acceptable for probationers, why not also for teachers in their subsequent career? As in the probation regulations, the idea would not be to impose a straitjacket but to provide broad national guidelines with room for local flexibility. The noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby. asked me what all this is about. I can perhaps refer the noble Lord to a speech made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to the Industrial Society conference on the Education Bill on 14th April, spelling out what he sees as being the purposes and the various ways in which appraisal might be used. I shall gladly send the noble Lord and, indeed, any other noble Lord who so wishes, a copy of the speech, so that they can study what my right honourable friend has in mind. I should like, in fact, to quote briefly from the speech to give some idea of what it contained. tinder the heading, "What purpose is appraisal supposed to serve?"—the very question the noble Lord asked—my right honourable friend said:
This amendment would transfer the power to determine the framework of appraisal from the Secretary of State to local education authorities. Regulations made under such an arrangement would be a patchwork and not, as we see it, a framework. The aim of ensuring a bottom line of consistency between LEA arrangements for appraisal would be swept away. Consequently, I must ask the Committee to reject the amendment."An appraisal system for school teachers should serve a variety of purposes. The findings of the appraisal system should be taken into account when schools and local education authorities come to decide such matters as planning in-service training provision, selecting in-service training participants and developing the careers of individual teachers, for example, through deployment, promotion, counselling and assistance. The overall purpose is better decisions by local education authorities and school management, feeding through to better teacher performance and better pupil achievement. The whole object is to help improve teaching effectiveness".
The Government's replies to this debate are not only unsatisfactory, they are positively alarming. The noble Lord, Lord Alexander, put the point very precisely. If it is proposed that the minority shareholders in our education system, those who do not employ the teachers, those who do not run the school systems—in other words, central government—shall have the control over the appraisal of individual teachers throughout their careers, then we have a complete break with all the traditions not only of the education service but of appraisal in any sphere of employment. It seems to me inconceivable that the Government—
If we honestly had these things, I, for one, should not be moving the Bill from this side of the House. With all respect to the noble Lord, this is a travesty. There is no question of our trying to employ the teachers or trying to form some national system. We are trying to set up a framework for it. I hope that the noble Lord will accept what I say. I would not have anything to do with such a thing as he describes if I had to put it forward for the Government.
I am delighted to hear the noble Earl confirm something that did not need confirming. I was not making that claim. It is common ground between us that central government does not employ teachers. It is common ground between us that central government does not actually run the schools. What the noble Earl has now confirmed is the illogicality and, indeed, the undesirability of having central government, which is not the employer and which does not run the schools, actually imposing the appraisal system. It is quite inadequate for the noble Earl to say that we have a national framework for probationary teachers. It is true that our teacher training system—probation is part of that, and an immediate follow-on from that—does necessarily have a national framework because it is providing teachers for the school system as a whole. That is not the way in which our subsequent education system operates. It operates through local control of finance and employment. It is plainly irrational of the Government to seek, on this one matter of appraisal, to impose this national framework about which the noble Earl is so keen. I apologise. It is not, in fact, one matter. We see in the next clause that the Government seek to impose a national framework on the in-service training of teachers. We shall have something to say about that matter, too.Everything that the Government have said convinces me not only that our individual amendments are correct but, as my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has said, that there is something fundamentally wrong with this clause. The Government appear to have in mind through the words of their spokesman in the Committee today a much clearer idea of the purposes and methods of appraisal than they are prepared to put into the Bill. If it is thought—I can see the justification for this—that it is unsuitable for the face of the Bill to set out a complete appraisal scheme, then, surely, the Government should agree, as the Secretary of State has already been asked by my right honourable and honourable friends in another place, to publish model statutory instruments about the appraisal system before asking the Committee and this House to agree that Clause 37 should stand part of the Bill. I am not expecting the Government to answer that point now. I leave the thought with the Committee and suggest that, if the Government come back with model statutory instruments that are to the satisfaction of the House, we might well consider not making further moves at Report stage. If there is no move in that direction, I can undertake to the Committee that we shall hear more of the matter. We will not agree to a blank cheque being given to the Government for the appraisal of teachers in service in our schools and in our institutions of further education. With that indication of our further views I think that it would be appropriate for me to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 86A:
Page 39, line 22, at end insert ("and
( d) requiring local education authorities to provide for a person of standing, not employed by and independent of the local education authority that is the employer of the teacher concerned, to be involved in each appraisal.").
The noble Lord said: This amendment also addresses the Government's proposals in Clause 37 for the appraisal of teachers' performance. We have already had extensive debates about the propriety of this in principle. I gather that the Labour Party is opposed to appraisal, and so are the teachers' unions. Certainly in the form set out here it does not commend itself to us.
Will the noble Lord forgive me for interrupting? We have never said that the Labour Party was opposed to appraisal. We have said that the Labour Party was opposed to appraisal imposed in the way that Clause 37 proposes to impose it. However, that is not being opposed to appraisal; indeed, we have said the opposite.
In that case I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I thought his party's views were somewhat different. I am glad to hear the noble Lord say that.As I was saying, the proposal does not commend itself to us in the form in which it appears in this Bill. As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said only a few minutes ago, it gives the Secretary of State a totally blank cheque, including a right to assess what is unassessable, as my noble friend Lord Ritchie suggested on an earlier amendment. It is arguable that certain of the disputed other activities could be taken into account in a much improved teacher contract, including a right to in-service training and proper career development. Another approach could be the setting up of a teachers' professional body on the lines advocated in this House by the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock. However, that is not what is before us. We have here something quite different. It is an extremely unsatisfactory clause in the Bill. My amendment seeks simply to make the Government's proposals at least somewhat fairer than they are and to allay the very understandable suspicions of the teaching profession. The amendment simply requires local education authorities,
I am not sure that my form of words is necessarily quite right, but my aim is to get the Government to acknowledge the principle and to come forward at some stage of the Bill—possibly the next stage—with an amendment of their own. The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, who is no longer in her place, talked about teachers appraising teachers, but there are considerable dangers if one keeps it too in-house. So I am not wedded to the wording I have down here. This is a probing amendment and I should like to hear the reaction of the noble Earl to it. I beg to move."to provide for a person of standing, not employed by and independent of the local education authority that is the employer of the teacher concerned, to be involved in each appraisal".
The effect of this amendment would be to have an outsider, unspecified but defined as being independent of the LEA concerned, involved in the appraisal of each and every teacher. The motive, as the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has expressed, is to ensure fairness for the individual. Such fairness is clearly essential and the Government are most concerned that appraisal arrangements should embody adequate safeguards for the individual. But the education service would be unique if it were to have an external element carried into its appraisal scheme. As I understand it, model practice in the private and public sector is to build into internal management procedures appropriate checks and balances to avoid bias, favouritism and so on. Some do it by means of "grandfathers" who scrutinise the appraisals of immediate superiors. Also, as is envisaged for teachers—and I referred to this earlier—in Clause 37(2)(b) it is standard for the appraisees to have the right to make representations.I wonder whether the teachers themselves would want somebody with the judgment of Solomon standing at the back of their classroom, listening to them in action, and then saying, "I, who have nothing to do with the local education authority, teaching or schools, know just what is wrong with you or what is right with you". With all respect to the noble Lord this strikes me as being a very strange suggestion. As I have said before—but I cannot get this message across—the Government do not have a national blueprint to impose. These important matters can and should be worked out by the parties concerned. But the Government's view is that senior personnel in the schools themselves, and, as appropriate, in the LEAs, should provide the management expertise to operate an appraisal scheme which is sensitive to the understandable anxieties of teachers and embodies adequate safeguards for the individual. I think the noble Lord will have guessed that the Government do not think an awful lot of this suggestion.
The mover of the amendment ought to tell us where this independent assessor will come from. It might be a parent of a child at the school. The child might have carried tales about the school to his parents. I presume that the teacher would have the right to object to the assessor in the same way that an accused person can object to a juror: on the grounds that perhaps he would not get a fair deal.What is more important is the question: who will appraise the heads and deputy heads? This is a problem with which we had to deal in the Inland Revenue. I am sorry to keep referring to the Inland Revenue, but it is about the most sensible piece of administrative personnel machinery that one can find. We solved this problem by making the inspecting officer the independent assessor for district inspectors, for example, who are in a similar position to heads of schools. I would say that HMI is probably the person who ought to appraise the heads of schools. He already has to look at the school as a whole and so on. All these matters need discussion somewhere, at some time. Again we have the mischief of trying to do too much without doing enough in the statute law. I am sorry that I cannot support the Alliance on this amendment because I do not think it is necessary. Objections can be raised against it. That is another detail. This is only one of half a dozen important matters which will have to be discussed and negotiated. I think that the best thing to do on this clause is not to try to amend it but to vote against it.
The noble Earl has left me in no doubt of his view of this proposal. I was glad to hear the Government's commitment to fairness and I hope that it will extend to other areas of the Bill. The noble Earl seemed to feel that the proposed checks and balances would be adequate. He also suggested that it would not be encouraging for teachers to have people with no knowledge of education forming part of the assessment process. I would confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, that I had in mind—though they are not specified in the amendment—such people as HMIs, or indeed representatives from other education authorities. I should have thought that that was a very sensible check and/or balance to introduce into this kind of procedure. However, I put this forward simply to gauge the feeling of the Committee. I shall read the debate. For the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved Amendment No. 86B:
Page 40, line 2, at end insert—
("(4) Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this section shall not come into force unless they have been laid before and approved by affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament.").
The noble Lord said: It has already emerged from the discussions that we have had on this subject that there are severe disagreements about how an appraisal system could best be run. The Government's Clause 37 has come in for widespread criticism on all sorts of points during the course of our debates in Committee this afternoon.
In the last amendment, I was trying to argue that there could be less teacher opposition if the system were at least seen to be fair and objective and not to permit of any local victimisation. Certainly the Secretary of State does not have the monopoly of wisdom on this subject, as is evidenced by the clause that he has brought before us in so clumsy a form that it presumes to appraise such activities as are at present voluntary and arise from supervision or leadership of non-curricular activities that cannot possibly be assessed. My noble friend Lord Ritchie has already pointed out that such activity cannot possibly be susceptible to appraisal under some kind of points system.
If the Secretary of State can make such unrealistic proposals in the Bill, then it is not at all acceptable to us that he should have the right to make whatever regulations he likes without returning to Parliament. By Parliament, I mean both Houses of Parliament, with particular reference to this House, where there is a great deal of knowledge, expertise and wisdom on those matters, some of which has already been demonstrated this afternoon.
I remind the Committee that the amendment reads:
"Regulations made by the Secretary of State under this section shall not come into force unless they have been laid before and approved by affirmative resolution of each House of Parliament".
Some noble Lords may secretly feel that that proviso is lacking in value because it lacks teeth. Indeed, your Lordships can reject regulations but very seldom do so, and your Lordships cannot amend them. Therefore, what is the point of such a proviso?
The point is that we can debate regulations, and if we believe that they are misconceived or are open to serious criticism, then we can point that out to the Secretary of State and even move a Motion asking the Government to withdraw them and reconsider them in the light of the opinions expressed in this Chamber. That means that we should at least be able to look at the Secretary of State's proposals and give him the benefit of our advice and the opportunity to take his proposals away and think again if we do not feel that his first effort has been up to scratch.
It really is not good enough to allow the Secretary of State to produce regulations in this very sensitive area, vitally affecting the future of the teaching profession and what our children are taught in schools, without coming back to Parliament. I beg to move.
Here again we have this business of having to consult both Houses of Parliament. If we go on like that, before very long we shall have to consult both Houses of Parliament before we appoint a teacher. It seems to me that it would be much better to let the Houses of Parliament get on with their own work, which certainly has nothing to do with education.
Perhaps I may say a few words in support of my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock. This clause is causing considerable apprehension among the teaching profession, and such an amendment as my noble friend proposes would give teachers some reassurance that the Secretary of State's proposals will be scrutinised. The teachers do not know what may come forth from on high; that is the trouble. A provision such as that proposed would give them some reassurance. I am afraid that all this arises from the lack of trust that at the moment obtains between the teaching profession and the Secretary of State. A provision such as my noble friend proposes would do something to give reassurance in a very sensitive situation.
I am in sympathy with that which the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, wants to do, but I share his scepticism about the effectiveness of statutory instruments and regulations being laid before both Houses of Parliament—largely for the reasons he gives; that they are not capable of amendment, and by convention they are not actually turned back, particularly if they have been approved by another place.I wonder what the noble Lord feels about the suggestion I made a few minutes ago: that before we approve Clause 37 as part of the Bill, we should see a model statutory instrument. It is when considering the later stages of the Bill that we shall need to know in writing, and not simply from the lips even of the noble Earl, what really is in the Government's mind.
This amendment, as has been admirably explained, would require that regulations made by the Secretary of State on the subject of teacher appraisal should not come into force unless they have been laid before, and approved by affirmative resolution of, each House of Parliament. I would not go so far as the noble Lord, Lord Somers, on this.I am sure that all noble Lords are aware that Clause 48 of the Bill makes clear the Government's intention that powers of the Secretary of State to make orders or regulations under the Bill shall be exercised by statutory instrument, and that such instruments shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament; that is, the negative resolution procedure should apply. I see no reason why the regulations on appraisal should be treated differently from others in this Bill. I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, that they will indeed be of major importance, but I have more than once made clear what is the Government's position on this matter. Our intention is that the framework for appraisal arrangements should be drawn up on a voluntary basis by agreement between the parties concerned; teacher representatives, the local authority employers, and central government. That process will surely involve much consultation and debate. In fact, that debate has been running for some time and, as far as it is possible with the unions blocking development work to look into the practical issues, my right honourable friend has spelt out the sort of arrangements that he would like to see. They are positive arrangements designed to stimulate professional development and improve management. I should have thought that when the regulations come before Parliament they will contain nothing that has not been the subject of analysis and open debate between the parties concerned. I can assure everyone that the regulations will not be pulled out of the hat. My right honourable friend really does not have some overpowering white rabbit that he is waiting to unleash upon a miserable band of teachers throughout the country. There will be time for consultation. In those circumstances, the process of negative resolution is surely entirely appropriate. If there remain matters of concern, then the regulations can, after all, be prayed against and a debate must be held. Consequently, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw this amendment.
I myself found the Minister's reply to the speech of my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock most disturbing, because it does not meet at all the point on the basis of which my noble friend presented his amendment to the Committee.The Minister is content in simply saying that he sees no reason to treat this provision any differently from the other provisions of the Bill that may have the effect of empowering the Secretary of State to make regulations. As I understood the speech of my noble friend, he was saying, and in this he was supported by the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie of Dundee, that the regulations under Clause 37 should be treated differently because everyone who had spoken on the earlier amendments had expressed grave anxieties about the provisions of Clause 37. Indeed, I listened to all the speeches that were made, and no one said a word in favour of them with the exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for whose judgment in many matters I have the greatest respect. However, it was clear that, in relation to this matter, the noble Baroness had not listened at all to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, who expressed the gravest anxieties about the provisions of this clause. The Minister's answer does not meet the point. Everyone who spoke, with the exception of the noble Baroness, expressed the gravest concern. People who are knowledgeable and experienced as regards the matters with which the Bill is concerned, expressed the gravest concern. Surely that is a perfectly good reason for treating the provisions in this clause relating to statutory instruments quite differently from the other provisions in the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Somers, spoke in support of this clause on two occasions. However, I can understand all that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, has said if, with all respect, he believes what the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, reads into this provision, which is that all the teachers will be taken over by some coup by my right honourable friend and paid for centrally. If Members believe that, then I can understand the reasons for their anxiety. However, as I have tried to explain, that is not the point of the provision. The negative procedure is perfectly adequate to cope with anything which may arise under this clause or, indeed, the rest of the Bill.
I did not say that I thought that that was what would happen. I was quoting the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, who said that that would have been the right thing to do. I do not fear the Secretary of State taking over the teachers in this country. He would not be Secretary of State very long if he did so.
I am most grateful for that remark.
I did not say that it was the right thing to do. I said that I could understand it, and I made the confession that if I were the Secretary of State for Education it was what I would want to do. However, that is not quite the same thing. Let us get the record straight, otherwise there will be more trouble.
There seems to be a general misunderstanding, but I can give a categorical undertaking that what has been put forward is not in the mind of either my right honourable friend or anyone else in the Government at present.
I was as amazed as the noble Earl to hear the noble Lord, Lord Somers, make the remarkable statement—and I wrote it down—that our work has nothing to do with education. If he really means that, he would do the noble Earl out of a job, other of course than in his distinguished capacity as Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Somers, that I am not suggesting consulting Parliament upon something trivial; I am suggesting that Parliament should be consulted on a whole new mechanism to be imported into the field of education—an almost revolutionary concept. I do not think that that can be put down as trivial.As always, I listened with respect to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who followed me when I pointed out the constraints under which we operate in this House on affirmative instruments. However, I remind the noble Lord that Motions have been moved—and no doubt will be moved—before or after instruments of that kind, asking the Government to withdraw them. If my memory does not serve me ill, regulation have been withdrawn after debate in this House. Indeed, I think that that was possibly the case in relation to a Motion of my noble friend Lady Seear on equal pay for equal work. Perhaps I overdid it myself in suggesting that this form of procedure is entirely toothless; I do not think that it is. The noble Earl has assured us that regulations will not be pulled out of a hat. He has talked about consultation. I should like to ask him what form of consultation he has in mind. Is he thinking of a discussion paper, a Green Paper, a press release, or what? Perhaps before I decide what to do with the amendment, the noble Earl will, with the leave of the House, say a few words on the matter. I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilson of Langside, for his support, and I am bound to say, bearing in mind the balance of the debate at the moment, that I am not satisfied that we do not need to bring these regulations back to Parliament in the form of a statutory instrument. A great deal of concern about Clause 37 has been expressed on all sides of the Committee. I do not know whether the noble Earl is able to tell me something about the form of consultation?
Yes, I can indeed, It has been going on for a long time. The Government's intentions on appraisal were first set out in March 1983 in Teaching Quality, which said:
Since the summer of 1984 the department has been trying to launch practical fieldwork to work out how appraisal might best operate in the schools. Specific grant for this work has been available, but the opposition of the unions has meant that it has not been taken up. In October 1984 the Secretary of State wrote to the local authority associations and the teacher unions suggesting for the first time the possibility of his taking an enabling power to secure appraisal. Both employers and unions, including the NUT, have continued to endorse the idea of appraisal in principle. For example, when my right honourable friend met the NUT in January 1985 there was considerable agreement on the value of appraisal for the professional and personal development of teachers. In March 1985 the White Paper, Better Schools, which referred to appraisal, appeared. In June 1985 HMI issued Quality in Schools: Evaluation and Appraisal, and so on. Quite honestly, consultation is taking place the whole time. There is a great deal of discussion taking place at the moment."The Government believe that the formal assessment of teacher performance is necessary."
I am most grateful to the noble Earl. He has pointed out that there has been a great deal of discussion of the idea of appraisal in principle, and he has pointed to various discussion and background papers. However, we are now in the area of a statute and that statute is extremely sketchy in this respect. Therefore, although I am grateful for the noble Earl's attempt to satisfy me, I am bound to say that I do not think that he has done so, and I am inclined to test the opinion of the Committee.
On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 86B) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 109.
DIVISION NO. 2
|Airedale, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Amherst, E.||McNair, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Mais, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Mishcon, L.|
|Aylestone, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Birk, B.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Mulley, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Nicol, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Oram, L.|
|David, B.||Phillips, B.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Rea, L.|
|Elwyn-Jones, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Ennals, L.||Rochester, L.|
|Foot, L.||Serota, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Grey, E.||Shepherd, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Silkin of Dulwich, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Stallard, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Stedman, B. [Teller.]|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|John-Mackie, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Tordoff, L. [Teller.]|
|Kirkhill, L.||Underhill, L.|
|Listowel, E.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||White, B.|
|Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Willis, L.|
|Longford, E.||Wilson of Langside, L.|
|Alport, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Forester, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Bessborough, E.||Geddes, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Gisborough, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Glanusk, L.|
|Brentford, V.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Gridley, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Harris of High Cross, L.|
|Cathcart, E.||Henley, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hereford, Bp.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hives, L.|
|Cox, B.||Hood, V.|
|Craigavon, V.||Hooper, B.|
|Croft, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Killearn, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Kitchener, E.|
|De La Warr, E.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Lawrence, L.|
|Denning, L.||Layton, L.|
|Digby, L.||Long, V. [Teller.]|
|Dilhorne, V.||Lothian, M.|
|Dormer, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||McFadzean, L.|
|Ellenborough, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Mancroft, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Marley, L.|
|Elton, L.||Marsh, L.|
|Marshall of Leeds, L.||Somers, L.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Merrivale, L.||Swinfen, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Mottistone, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Orkney, E.||Thurlow, L.|
|Penrhyn, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Peyton of Yeovil, L.||Trenchard, V.|
|Portland, D.||Trumpington, B.|
|Rawlinson of Ewell, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Rodney, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Romney, E.||Vivian, L.|
|Rugby, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Whitelaw, V.|
|St. John of Bletso, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Sandford, L.||Young, B.|
|Sempill, Ly.||Young of Graffham, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Clause 37 agreed to.
Clause 38 [ Grants for teacher training]:
[ Amendment Nos. 86C and 86D not moved.]
On Question, Whether Clause 38 shall stand part of the Bill?
I have not given notice of my intention to oppose the Motion that Clause 38 stand part of the Bill. It is always difficult to anticipate whether there are going to be amendments from any quarter on a particular clause which will enable one to say the things that have to be said. We appear to be approving, without comment, the provisions for in-service training of teachers.It is appropriate that a word should be said about the Government's proposals, as with appraisal, on the basis that there is no opposition at all on this side to the in-service training of teachers but there are some doubts about the method whereby in-service training of teachers may be secured, and whether this is the best way of going about it. I rise on the Motion that the clause stand part in order that the Government may have an opportunity to make their position as clear as possible so as to help us in our consideration of how to treat these matters at later stages in the passage of the Bill. The proposals for the in-service training of teachers were certainly anticipated and presaged by a speech by the Secretary of State in March of last year. There is no question that there has been consultation on these matters and that the matter is referred to in better schools. Indeed, the Secretary of State last year referred, very properly, to the report of 1984 of the Advisory Committee on the supply and education of teachers. However, I should not like it to be thought that we accept the claim made by the Secretary of State that these particular proposals for in-service training follow naturally from the proposals of the Advisory Committee on the supply and education of teachers and would have the support of that committee. The Advisory Committee is a committee of all partners in the education service. Broadly what it recommended was a programe of in-service education and training for teachers which should be accompanied by an increase in funding for the purpose, and that the local authorities should retain the power to decide how the money is spent. In view of what is said in the Notes on Clauses on this clause it is important that the in-service training system should be "systematic and purposeful"—I do not think anybody would disagree with that—but also that it should concentrate on "areas of national priority". I am not convinced that the advisory council, if it were reassembled to consider this clause, would be so confident either that the resources are being made available or that there is sufficient agreement about areas of national priority to justify the way in which this clause is being proposed. I remind the Committee of what the advisory committee said in its recommendations. It said that there should be a general grant to education authorities for in-service education and training; and that it should be paid at 90 per cent. and distributed on a basis agreed between central and local government. Local education authorities should have discretion on how to use the grant within the INSET field, and the recommended target should be 5 per cent. of the expenditure on teachers' salaries. The important matters here are two-fold. The first is that there should genuinely be new money for this purpose. I should welcome some words of assurance from the Government that the money which will be devoted to in-service education and training will be in addition to the general grant going to the education service. The second is that, as ACSET recommended, the power to decide how the money will be spent shall remain with the local authorities. It is all very well to talk about areas of national priority. We can all identify areas such as, and particularly, science teaching or teaching in computing and information technology. One could name a number of others where this is of high priority for the development of our scientific, technological and industrial skills in this country. But that does not mean to say that an individual local authority necessarily has the same priorities. It may be that an individual local authority has a high standard of scientific or engineering teaching and that in its case the money should be spent more on teaching basic mathematics, languages or other subjects which are as important but which may not have been identified by the Government as areas of national priority. To that extent surely local authorities must have the ability to take account, by all means, of the national priorities which the Government set, but to adapt them not to their own prejudices or to their own ill thought out wishes but to the actual quality of teaching in different areas that is available to them and the needs of the teaching staff that they have in their service. This is not making any revolutionary point and it is certainly not making a point against the improvement and better co-ordination of the in-service education and training of teachers. That is an objective which we all share, but I should be grateful for something more than is in the Bill or was in the Second Reading speeches to indicate the way in which the Government see this provision taking place; an assurance that it will be genuinely new money, an assurance that the individual needs of local authorities will be taken into account and that the many recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Supply and Education of Teachers will be taken into account in the implementation of the clause.
Clause 38 will enable the Government to grant-aid local authority expenditure on the in-service training of teachers and certain others closely involved in the education service. It is idely accepted that the current arrangements are imperfect and that a more systematic approach to the planning of in-service training is required at local level. A new system of grants would create the framework for more purposeful and systematic planning.I am aware that the local authorities wish to see an increase in expenditure on in-service training from the beginning of the scheme. We fully accept that our policies for improving schools will make increasing demands on teachers and that extensive in-service training will be required to equip teachers to respond to these demands. We also consider that in-service training should form a part of the career development of all teachers. The amount of local authority expenditure to be grant-aided under the intended new scheme in 1987–89 will be determined later this year as part of the Government's wider consideration of local authority expenditure. The Government cannot take decisions on the financing of the scheme ahead of their general consideration of public expenditure, and so the question of whether it is new money has not yet been decided. But the new grant should simplify and systemise the existing arrangements for supporting expenditure by local authorities on training. I hope that the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities will enter into dialogue with us on the detailed aspects of the scheme to help to ensure that the new scheme provides the benefits which we intend. I am also aware of concern that the new grant mechanism would be incompatible with the proper exercise of local authority discretion over the deployment of resources for in-service training. In reply I would stress our intention that the prime responsibility for planning, and implementing in-service training would remain with the local authority. Our aim is to create a better framework for more effective local planning and management which we believe is in the interests of local authorities and of teachers. As I said, detailed arrangements for the new scheme are currently under consideration. We intend that grant will be provided to support local authority expenditure incurred after 1st April 1987, subject to enabling legislation and the coming into force of the necessary regulations.
Clause 38 agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 86E:
After Clause 38, insert the follow new clause:
( "Training of school governors
. A central advisory unit shall be set up to—
The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I should also like also to speak to Amendment No. 92 which is concerned with the same issue of ensuring that governing bodies have the training and skills necessary for the proper exercise of the functions laid on them by the Bill. I noticed that my noble friend Lady Phillips expressed scepticism about the training of governors. I do not know whether she was confident about the ability of governors to exercise their functions without training or whether she felt that it was a wrong use of public finance. No doubt she will be able to enlighten me on that point.
I say to my noble friend and to the Committee that for some years now there has been recognition by governors that the proceedings of a governing body, the effective conduct of governing bodies and the way in which an individual governor can perform effectively as a governor is not something which comes as a matter of animal instinct. It requires, particularly for those who have not been used to committee procedure, some introduction and training. A number of local authorities and the National Association of Governors and Managers particularly, have taken pains, at their own expense and not at the expense of the public purse, to provide training materials and courses for new members of governing bodies. I have seen the programme of the National Association of Governors and Managers and I express my admiration for the work that it has done within the limits of the resources available.
The Bill proposes, in our view rightly, that there should be a wider responsibility for governing bodies and a different method of composition of governing bodies. It seems logical that if we are to have considerable numbers of new people coming on to governing bodies—and many more governing bodies, apart from anything else, because the provision for governing bodies is universal and the provision for grouping of governing bodies is very restrictive—there will be literally thousands of members of governing bodies (sometimes a majority of a particular governing body) without the experience of committee work or of the education service which is available to those who have been serving on governing bodies in the past.
Therefore, to provide the minimum, as we see it, in these amendments—
"A central advisory unit … to collect and publicise … training materials … promote good practices in governor training … and develop new initiatives in governor training and … support
—and then, in Clause 43, if I may anticipate it, to see to it that the local authority has the responsibility of ensuring that governors are provided with such training and support as is necessary for the effective discharge of the functions of a governing body seems to us a useful corollary to the intentions of the Government. It in no way conflicts with the purpose of the Bill. It does not involve central government in substantial additional expenditure and, indeed, with the continued co-operation of a body such as the National Association of Governors and Managers it need not involve substantial additional expenditure for the local authorities themselves.
I hope that the Government will feel that these amendments are in the spirit of the Bill and that they will find some way of accepting them or of giving recognition to the principal behind them. I beg to move.
I rise to support this clause. I think that it is one which is necessary and which very much needs inclusion in the Bill. The reason I support it is that some time ago when I was going round looking at governing bodies I realised that many of them were unaware of what were their rights as governors and, because of their unawareness, all kinds of decisions were taken that should not have been taken—decisions which had to be corrected by the local education officers.I should like to use the analogy that I have used on numerous occasions in emphasising the need for training. Years ago, when I was first appointed a magistrate, there was no training for magistrates. My only way of gaining experience was by sitting back and listening and then asking questions, after the case had been tried, of the people who were on the bench or of the learned clerk. I feel that the new decisions of the Lord Chancellor's department—and they are not really new now; they have been in force for several years—on training magistrates are good and proper. I feel that due to that we have many good magistrates who are doing a very useful job throughout the country. If we had a similar scheme for the training of governors, it would again improve the government of schools. I am not suggesting that we introduce a training scheme that would enable all governors to come away with a diploma or with a B Ed. Degree; I am wanting something simple that can be operated. I differ from my noble friend Lord McIntosh on this. I would rather see a national agreement on training than leave it to the local authorities. I would leave it to local authorities to administer, but I should like to see a national body that would devise a scheme that would be acceptable to local authorities—but we are getting on to that matter later. I feel at this moment that the amendment before us is good, is practicable, and will work. Quite a number of good local authorities, sensible local authorities, have introduced this already, and it is proving of great benefit to a great many people who spend a lot of time in service to education as governors.
I should like to ask the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey (because I think that he said that he was speaking also to Amendment No. 92), what he has in mind by the use in that amendment of the word "support". Support apparently is something distinct from training. I do not think that there is much dispute about training, but "support" is a very general expression. Does it mean support of a financial value—the provision of a secretary or a car? It is a very imprecise expression, as I understand it. It might possibly be the basis of some abuse. At any rate, before the Committee is asked to decide on this amendment I should like to know how the noble Lord himself understands that word.
I am happy to answer the noble Lord, although I think that my noble friend Lord Taylor, has in effect already answered him by his analogy in relation to magistrates. I would remind him that Clause 43 at present provides that local authorities shall make available,
The word "support" means that not only should the training be available but that such things as fares to the training centres, subsistence to pay for meals while the training is going on—that kind of thing, which is proposed by the Government themselves in Clause 44 for the meetings of governing bodies—should also be available on those occasions when training takes place. I think it is rational that if you are providing support for governors to attend governors' meetings you should provide the same support when they are attending a course of training."to every … governor (free of charge) such training as the authority consider necessary".
Since my noble friend mentioned me, although I had no intention of speaking on this particular amendment I naturally rise to the bait that is laid. I do so whether it comes from my own Front Bench or from the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, who has not actually laid me any bait in this particular discussion. But I would question very much whether people who are trained for voluntary exercises actually perform them much better than those who adopt the old system of, "Sit next to Nellie!" Like the noble Lord here, I went on the Bench when there was no formal training. I do not think that I was ever a very bad magistrate, because I have got reasonable intelligence and I was given an idea of what my particular functions were.Equally, as a chairman of governors I found that our governors, when they came on to the boards of the voluntary schools—and I am beginning to think that the voluntary schools must be quite different from state schools, bearing in mind the different matters that have emerged from these debates—were each given the details of their particular conditions, of the fact that they were governors and of the things that they could and could not do. I cannot recall any occasion when we ever came into conflict with the local education authority or, indeed, when we did not perform an excellent piece of work. I was, equally, an unpaid and untrained councillor many years ago. I do not think that the quality of local government then was any less than it is today. There are moments when I think that it was decidedly better. I think that you can overstate the value of training voluntary people. I think that if you get people who are intelligent and have a knowledge of life, they cannot go very far wrong. My reason particularly for being concerned about this is that if this Bill is going to cost £10 million then it is all going to come from the same source. It is going to come from a local education authority. If you are spending it on training governors while at the same time you have books in the schools which are a disgrace and in some cases almost unreadable, and if you have teachers who are not receiving an adequate salary, it seems to me that the money would be better employed in that direction rather than in introducing some frills. If, much later on, another government is elected which want to put more money in, that is a different thing. But that is my particular objection. I say to my noble friend that I should like to see the money spent on the things that are really vital; namely, the children and the people who are teaching them.
If I may intervene between the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, it seems to me that a lot of the argument depends on what is thought of in terms of the amount of time that would be devoted. The word "training" means all sorts of things. If you are talking about training for a man to pilot an aircraft, then this is a matter of months or, in some cases, of years. Or are you thinking of something which could be done on a Saturday afternoon, just learning the rules of committee procedure? Or is there something in between? Unless we know the density, as it were, of the training, and the amount of time which governors are supposed to spend on it, we cannot answer the question as to how much the support would cost. Nor do I think we can altogether estimate the willingness of governors to submit themselves to training in addition to the work that they already do.
I am grateful to the noble Lord for intervening between myself and my noble friend. I suggest that I am intervening between him and the Bill he is supporting, because the questions he is raising apply not only to the amendment but also to Clause 43 of the Bill. It is his Government which are proposing that,
If his question is valid—and I believe it is—it is to his own Front Bench that he should be directing the question. I can only give my personal answer; I cannot answer on behalf of the Government who are proposing to enact it in law. My personal answer to my noble friend would be that I readily concede that when she first became a chairman of governors or a magistrate her native wit and understanding of the way in which our society operates made it unnecessary for her to have formal training. I am in no doubt about that whatsoever. However, in view of the many thousands of people without committee experience who are going to be involved—and I hope we are not going to become a nation of committee members because that would be a fate worse than death, even though I suspect most of us spend more of our time in committees than we would wish to—as new members of governing bodies a modicum of help would be useful on how to achieve certain things, when and how to ask questions and what the rights are of going to a school and talking to people there. I believe the Government are sincere in wishing to open up governing bodies to more people and different kinds of people. There are many things which are already the content of training for governors in good authorities and which could be valuable to these new governors. I do not believe that is in any way in conflict with the Government's wishes."there is made available to every such governor (free of charge) such training as the authority consider necessary for the effective discharge of those functions."
Perhaps I can start by saying that I agree with a good deal of what the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has just said on the training of governors although I do not wish to come between him and his noble friend Lady Phillips, with whom I may say I quite frequently find myself in agreement. I think that Clause 43 has been widely welcomed in connection with the training of governors and it has to be read in conjunction with the early clauses in the Bill, setting out the greater importance and the greater proportion of governors who will be parent-governors, the greater importance we attach to the role of the governing body and therefore the need quite properly to train those who are to take part in these governing bodies.I think one can advance very good reasons for this training; and it is on that point that I find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, because I think there are many good reasons, particularly for parents who perhaps will not have had the experience of serving on a committee or of being a school governor, so that they may become from, as it were, day one, more effective governors than they otherwise might have been. Of course, some people are naturally good and they make naturally good governors without training, but I think that Clause 43 has been widely welcomed and that its provisions are to be seen in relation to the earlier clauses in the Bill on the role of governing bodies. That said, I hope I can show that the new clause which is proposed in Amendment No. 86E is misconceived and not necessary,principally for two reasons. The first is the implication that local education authorities will not or cannot effectively organise the necessary provision. Until a year or so ago every survey showed that the provision of, and presumably interest in, governor training was extremely patchy; but things have changed dramatically. Many schemes are evolving in LEA areas, and arising from this two-thirds of LEAs put in extremely high-quality bids for the 10 pilot projects in appropriate forms of governor training just starting with the aid of education support grants. The results will be available in time for the new Clause 43 duty about training. I think that is good news, and news that we would all welcome. LEAs do not have to be self-reliant in governor training. Many make use of other agencies which are active in the field: for example, dioceses in respect of voluntary schools, the Open University, the Workers' Education Association, the National Association of Governors and Managers, the Society of Education Officers and the National Association of Head Teachers. Clause 43 allows continued use of all these organisations and the talents that they represent. The second misconception relates to the nature of the training needed. The aim is not to train governors to the point where they can in some way "out-perform" the school's teachers, on the one hand, or the LEA on the other. The aim is to give governors sufficient background knowledge and self-confidence to apply their natural ability as governors within the carefully drawn-up framework of responsibilities in Part III of the Bill. Those functions recognise the governing body as an essentially lay body between the professionals in the teaching force on the one hand, and the LEA on the other. The necessary training therefore need not be elaborate. If I may now turn to the second amendment, Amendment No. 92, where changes are proposed to Clause 43, here the first change is that the training has to be "provided" rather than "made available". Under this Bill, training is not to be obligatory and of course in that regard it differs from training of magistrates which, as I understand it, is obligatory. But the completion of training cannot be a pre-condition of taking up service as a governor. The Government very much hope that new governors will avail themselves of the opportunities for training. Against this background, I believe that the present formulation in Clause 43(b) is the right one. The second change is that that which is to be provided has to be "necessary" to some absolute standard, rather than as judged by the LEA. As it is the LEA that is responsible for securing the provision, it has logically to be for the authority to decide what is required. Of course that does not give the LEA carte blanche: it would need to be able to demonstrate that it had seriously addressed the issue and come to a reasoned judgment. If it failed to provide anything or discharged its duty in a manifestly frivolous way, it would be liable to corrective direction by the Secretary of State under Sections 68 or 99 of the 1944 Act. That would of course be an extreme case. A much more obvious day-to-day force on LEAs is the fact that I am sure the governors will make it all too clear if they feel they are not being adequately prepared. It would therefore seem unnecessary to have some central standard set here, presumably by the proposed central unit, although I see that its role is to be only advisory. Indeed, such prescription could actually stifle welcome innovation and yet higher quality provision. Finally, there has been some discussion about the word "support". My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked what it meant. As I understood the answer given by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, he suggested that this would include such matters as travelling expenses and subsistence, which might be available to those undertaking training. The answer would be that this would be covered by the provisions already in Clause 44 if the local education authority had a scheme of paying such allowances; and so that particular point would be covered. I very much agree with what my noble friend said: if it does not mean that, it is an imprecise term and it would be difficult to translate it into a meaningful duty to be added to the statute book. I think it is encouraging that there is every sign of great life in the whole area of governor training. Again, I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, said about this. This is anticipated in the new, and widely welcome duty proposed in Clause 43. Given governors' own clear interest in receiving appropriate training, the Government see no need to alter the wording of Clause 43 or to construct some new central agency by means of a new clause. I believe that this would add to bureaucracy. It would be an unnecessary drain on resources. It may even stifle some of the welcome diversity that is now emerging. I hope that the Committee will be reassured that we are mindful of the points that are raised, and that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw these amendments.
I have found that a helpful and constructive reply, and I shall certainly read carefully what the noble Baroness said. I noticed that the brief that she was reading from at one stage was written on the assumption that the central advisory unit was prescriptive rather than advisory. She herself observed that this was the case, and what we were proposing was advisory rather than setting central standards. I think that that is an important distinction which we ought to have made more clear in moving the amendments.I was also encouraged to learn from her, and it was due to my ignorance that I did not know beforehand, that there had been so many applications for grants under the education support grant. I wonder whether she feels able to say whether the pilot project, which was so successful, would now be extended to cover all local education authorities and a wider range of projects. I do not know whether that is something which the noble Baroness feels able to answer now or whether she would prefer to write to me, having read what I have said. I am happy to leave it on that basis. I believe that we are not far apart on these matters and I am sure that the intention is in the right place. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment. by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 39 [ Recoupment]:
moved Amendment No. 88:
Page 41, line 11, after ("amount") insert ("reflecting the average cost of provision to the providing authority").
The noble Lord said: We now turn to the complex area of recoupment among local authorities for educational expenditure, and I have to say immediately that I am by no means an expert on this subject. I understand that it is an area in which a certain number of people in the Department of Education and Science are expert and a large number of other people are happy to leave it to them, so anything I say about recoupment I say with considerable diffidence. If I may, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 88 and 89, and I should like to treat them as probing amendments because my understanding of the situation may be totally wrong.
As I read it, it appears that there are two ways in which the Government can determine the basis on which recoupment takes place. As I understand Clause 39, the Government's intention first of all is that wherever possible there should be agreement between the authorities concerned about the level of recoupment. I think we can all be agreed on that; but it says that if there is no agreement about the level of recoupment the Secretary of State shall lay down regulations to cover the level of recoupment.
There are two ways of doing it. One would be the average cost of provision to the providing authority, and the other would be the marginal cost of provision. As I understand it, the marginal cost of provision could lead to difficulties, either when the actual level of provision varies greatly between one local authority and another, or where the unit costs are substantially different, as for example where you have an inner city authority, let us say the Inner London Education Authority (which has the additional costs of London weighting), the additional costs very often of higher rateable values and higher rates, and higher costs of expenditure, provision of ancillary staff, and so on.
The intention of this amendment is to see whether the Government can be a little more precise than they have been in Clause 39; to see whether it is possible to reflect the necessary differences in costs between different authorities; and to see whether there is any way of making clearer to local authorities the way in which recoupment costs are going to be settled by the Secretary of State. I beg to move.
I am very happy to start by agreeing with the noble Lord opposite that this is an extremely complex area. The purpose of Clause 39, as I understand it, is to put beyond doubt the legality of the existing inter-authority payments committee system which has been operating successfully for many years. It will also allow the Secretary of State to use his default powers to bolster that system where appropriate by giving directions based on national average costs. This system inevitably contains an element of rough justice, but I think it is to be preferred to one based on actual costs because of its administrative simplicity and because it provides a better balance between the interests of the home and the providing authority.As I understand the noble Lord's amendments. the average costs which he suggests should be reflected would, in fact, be the average between the providing and the home authority, whereas, as I said, the acknowledged system under the inter-authority payments committee system reflects the national average. Therefore, the amendments appear to frustrate the purpose of the clause and should he resisted. I do not know if I have helped to clarify, but perhaps not, judging by the look on the noble Lord's face.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness, but what she says is not in accordance with my understanding of the way in which the inter-authority payments committee actually operates. I understood that it was not a single national level but that it was an agreed and negotiated level of recoupment which includes a London weighting in the consideration. Therefore, if there is a recoupment between the Inner London Education Authority with its necessarily highest costs and another neighbouring authority, the London weighting as applied to ILEA's costs would be taken into account under existing arrangements; but there is no assurance that it would be taken into account in the arrangements as proposed by the Bill. However, this is a technical matter, and rather than detain the Committee with this I would prefer to read what the noble Baroness has said. I am sure she will wish to write to me if there is any difference of understanding or of evidence. I think it is preferable if I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 89 not moved.]
moved Amendment No. 87:
Page 41, line 19, leave out paragraph ( b) and insert—
(" (b) further education of a kind such that expenditure on its provision would fall within paragraph 6 of Schedule 10 to the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980.")
The noble Lord said: This is on the same subject but it is not quite such a technical amendment, although the wording of it does seem to be totally technical. Certainly, when I first looked at ways of achieving what we wanted to do I was amazed that there was no clearer way of producing it. The intention of the amendment—I hope we have got it right—is to extend the recoupment system to adult education and not just to advanced further education. The reasons for this are more than technical because it is increasingly recognised, not only by the Department of Education and Science and the education community as a whole but also by those concerned with training in the Manpower Services Commission and elsewhere, that there is no longer a hard and fast line to be drawn between advanced further education and vocational education and training. There is a somewhat illogical division between the education and training sectors in our society and government. I am not in any way arguing for a Department of Education and Training, in case anybody should draw that conclusion. While we have differences in the organisation of different aspects of what is after all a whole, which is the determination in our society to have a better educated and trained adult population and workforce, it seems illogical for adult education to be excluded from the recoupment provisions in the Bill, and I hope that Amendments Nos. 87 and 90 will achieve the objective of extending the basis of recoupment. I hasten to say that it should not involve any increase in public expenditure because it is a balancing out between local authorities. I beg to move.
The effect of these amendments would be to extend the principle of automatic recoupment enshrined in subsection (1) to all types of further education except those financed from the advanced further education pool, as the noble Lord has explained. The Government are keen to remove the undesirable restrictions and anomalies in the present voluntary recoupment arrangements for non-advanced further education and, in particular, to eliminate the difference in the arrangements relating to those pursuing post-complusory schooling and those seeking further education in a college. However, we do not believe that automatic recoupment is appropriate for all types of further education for a number of reasons.I recognise that the amendment's objective is to include within the scope of the automatic recoupment provisions non-vocational adult education. That is something that the Government are opposed to in principle. The Government believe that the generality of non-vocational adult education students should make a significant contribution to the cost of that type of provision. However, authorities' policies on the degree of subsidy to be offered for adult education vary widely, and the Government would not wish to create a situation in which authorities which themselves provide little or no subsidy for non-vocational adult education classes were forced to accept recoupment charges from authorities pursuing a policy of high subsidy. Another significant factor in the Government's thinking is the rate of change and development in the types of provision offered on non-advanced further education and the mechanisms for financing them. Increasingly, and at all levels within the further education service, training provision is being offered to employers on a full-cost recovery basis. Other types of provision—for example, off-the-job training under the YTS—are still in the process of development, and the local authorities are themselves considering whether recoupment arrangements are apropriate and what form they may take. In that developing situation the Government consider it sensible to define the scope of the free-trade provision in regulations rather than have a definition written into the primary legislation which may prove inappropriate or inadequate in a relatively short space of time. We also need to consider the intention of recoupment arrangements with the system for assessing authorities' needs as part of the distribution of rate support grant. Our proposals are designed to be consistent with the existing rate support grant system but would also give scope for changes to respond to alterations in the system for financing local government. That flexibility would be lacking if the amendments were accepted. In the hope of maintaining maximum flexibility in this matter, I ask your Lordships to reject the amendments.
I wonder whether I could ask the noble Baroness the Minister to reconsider this matter. I think that adult education is excluded because it is not concerned with vocational training, and that is true. However, if we look far enough into the future it could become an important sector of education. The likelihood is that with the advance of technology the working week will become substantially reduced. The idea that people will be utterly happy about that will depend entirely on their capacity to do things when they are not working. It is 20 years since I set up an adult education body because I was worried about that. I am even more worried about it now because the prospect of what I am suggesting is much closer.There is no reasonable doubt that the concept of the 40-hour working week will not be sustained for the next 10 years. We must prepare for retirement. People will not be happy if it just comes and they have not prepared for it. We need adult education to help people. It is important that the education service should provide people with the opportunity to develop interests and skills, not necessarily for work or production but so that they can live happily. I therefore ask the noble Baroness the Minister to look at this matter again, because I do not think that it is as simple as the Bill suggests.
I can reassure the noble Lord by saying that this is a subject which is generally considered to be important and the Government will continue to look at it. In my original response I explained that we see this as a developing situation. That is why we seek the maximum flexibility, which we feel the amendments do not necessarily provide.
I am glad that the noble Baroness felt able to start to heed the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Potterhill, because what he said is true. The distinction between vocational and non-vocational education is no longer a tenable distinction from the point of view of statute law when we have, as we have now and shall have in the future, a population, many members of which do not have access to a full-time job and whose working life will change in ways they do not expect and do not want, and who face retirement earlier than they would wish and without the preparation that they would wish to have for retirement.We see a growth in our service industries at the expense of manufacturing industry. That growth will certainly include a growth of leisure industries, for which adult education of the type that we understand is probably a more relevant preparation than some of the stricter vocational training which falls within the scope of automatic recoupment. When we look at those changes over decades and not years, it will be seen in due course that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, has it right, and that increasingly that distinction will not be possible and the Government will not be able to sustain it. I was equally unconvinced by the argument that some local authorities provide more support for non-vocational education than others and that therefore it would be unfair to those which choose to provide a lower level of support. I remind the noble Baroness that she successfully resisted my previous amendments which provided a basis upon which recoupment could be calculated. As she did successfully resist them, the amount is to be determined in accordance with the direction given by the Secretary of State. It is therefore in the Government's hands to set the recoupment at a level which avoids the injustice which the noble Baroness was pointing out. I am not satisfied by the Government's answer. I hope that the Government will be able to go further than the noble Baroness did in her response to the noble Lord, Lord Alexander. I would certainly welcome, as I am sure he would, any indication of further thinking between now and a later stage of the Bill. Failing that, it may well be a matter to which we shall feel it necessary to come back. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[ Amendment No. 90 not moved.]
Clause 39 agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 90ZA:
After Clause 39, insert the following new clause:
( "Costs of establishing new voluntary schools.
Where any persons submit to the Secretary of State, under subsection (2) of section 13 of the Education Act 1980, proposals for the establishment by them, or by persons whom they represent, of a new school and for its maintenance by the local education authority as a voluntary school, the Secretary of State shall by order direct that the whole of the cost incurred in the establishment of the school as would, apart from the order, fall to be defrayed by the persons who establish it, shall be defrayed by the local education authority, provided that he is convinced that the establishment of such a school is a desirable addition to the range of educational provisions available within the local education authority area.").
The noble Lord said: I think I should start by admitting that this amendment is technically defective. If I did not do so, the noble Earl would, I am sure, point it out to me. But I think I am right in saying that it should refer to Section 13 of the Education Act 1980 and not to the 1944 Act. But I hope I shall be forgiven by the Committee for that lapse, as this is simply a probing amendment designed to explore the attitude of the Government to the proposal which it contains.
There is undoubtedly a crisis in education at present and a sign of this crisis is the philosophical debate raging about where power and control over education should lie. There are forces at work, not only in the Conservative Party, urging that even greater involvement by the Secretary of State is the way ahead. The latest idea for Crown schools, for example, is merely an extension of the highly interventionist style of the present Secretary of State whether in regard to exams, the curriculum or the quality of teachers.
There is an alternative approach or philosophy, which is one that the Alliance supports, and which sees the strength of the education system as residing in local control and decentralisation. Already within the maintained sector there is an alternative type of school, particularly in inner city areas. The voluntary sector, mainly through denominational schools, remains popular and successful. In these schools, there seems to be perhaps an additional quality arising, it could be, from a certain inner coherence that comes from the religious dimension or from the spirit of the original founders. But it is difficult, if not impossible, for a group of people with some vision about education, but not necessarily denominational in origin, to come together to start a new school.
At present, as I understand it, new voluntary schools can be established with the maintenance being paid by local education authorities, but with at least 15 per cent. of the capital cost of setting up the school having to be met by those establishing the school. This 15 per cent. hurdle, or barrier, effectively prevents groups of people other than institutions with financial resources, such as churches, from being able to set up new schools in the voluntary sector.
The amendment seeks to answer that difficulty and it provides a mechanism whereby the Secretary of State, if he is convinced of the desirability and the necessity of doing this can, out of a special fund, provide that 15 per cent. of pump priming money. One can imagine that perhaps in some prosperous areas it would not be difficult for parents to come together to do that themselves; but in other areas, particularly within the inner cities, this might not be so easy. So the amendment is designed to get round that difficulty.
I suggest that there is a real need for new voluntary non-fee paying and non-selective schools, especially in areas with problems. It is not just the local authorities, the churches or indeed the state that can have bright ideas about education or that can breathe new life into educationally deprived areas. Rather than developing an entirely new concept such as the Crown school, which the Government have floated or mooted, and which would presumably be centralist and selective, why not adapt the system we already have by allowing the Secretary of State discretion to meet the 15 per cent. of the capital cost of founding a voluntary school from a special fund?
A new school in the voluntary sector which is founded from within the community with the parents as the driving force could add a new dimension to a local authority's provision, particularly if it is small in size. We should, I suggest, be willing to encourage experiments and new ideas along these lines but still within the maintained sector. The Secretary of State, on the advice of HMI, should be able to prime the pump of this process by some mechanism along the lines suggested in the amendment. I beg to move.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has explained that this is a probing amendment and that the intention behind it is to facilitate the establishment of new, small aided schools in inner-city areas, especially by parents, who may not be able to afford the promoters' financial responsibility for such schools. The Government very much sympathise with the thinking behind this amendment and I am sure it strikes a chord with many noble Lords. However, I do not believe the amendment provides the right answer, quite apart from the technical defects which the noble Lord himself admitted.Aided schools have a greater degree of autonomy from the local education authority than other schools in the maintained sector. But that autonomy is in return for the governing body's or, in the case of a new school, the promoters' bearing certain financial liabilities. They are responsible for the capital costs of establishing the school and, thereafter, for external repairs and any capital alterations. They are eligible to receive 85 per cent. grant aid on such expenditure from the Secretary of State leaving the 15 per cent residue which is the subject of this amendment. Incidentally, I am not clear whether it is the noble Lord's intention that the governors' continuing liability for alterations and external repairs, once the school is in operation, is also to be borne by the LEA. The fact that they have to be responsible for that 15 per cent. is one of the reasons for the very success of aided schools. The last part of the amendment seeks to restrict the concession to those new schools which the Secretary of State is convinced would be a desirable addition to the educational provision in the area. But every new school, of whatever type, whose establishment is approved by the Secretary of State would come within that description. All statutory proposals for new schools are decided on their merits, and there can be no question of a proposal being approved unless it would be a desirable addition to the educational provision in the area. The noble Lord might then argue that the role proposed for the Secretary of State could be made discretionary. But it would be highly invidious for the promoters of some new aided schools to have to find their 15 per cent. while, for others, this requirement was waived. It is difficult to see how such a power could ever be exercised differentially. It would either lie unused or have the practical effect of reducing to nil the financial liabilities of promoters and governors in respect of aided schools. That would not only have significant resource consequences; it would also do great damage to the foundations of the dual system which allows aided school governing bodies a measure of independence from LEAs in return for their financial contribution. Indeed, Section 15(2) of the 1944 Act currently allows the Secretary of State to grant aided status only if he is satisfied that the promoters are able and willing to meet their liabilities. There would thus be a quid, but no quo—in fact, there would be an awful lot of "quids" falling upon the head of the Government—and the continuation of that independence, which noble Lords on all sides of the House have supported, would be hard to justify. I said that the Government are sympathetic to the noble Lord's arguments. What, then, he might well ask, are we doing about them? We have brought forward this Bill, one explicit aim of which is to increase the scope for parents beneficially to influence their children's education—in all schools, not just those in inner-city areas. Under the Bill's various provisions, parents will be able to play a greater part than ever before in the running of their children's schools. They will have greater representation on school governing bodies and so share in the enhanced and clarified responsibilities which the Bill guarantees for such bodies. Only a minority of parents can become school governors, but Clauses 24 and 25 offer new opportunities for all parents to become more involved in the work of their children's schools. The annual parents' meeting will offer a forum for parents to probe local policies and to make their feelings known to to the governors, the head teacher and the LEA: those feelings cannot just be ignored. The Bill as a whole will serve to make LEAs and schools more responsive to the needs of the parents and the wider communities they serve. In inviting the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment, I repeat that I understand his arguments but am clear that his amendment is not the right way to go about things since it would do substantial damage to the basis of our highly valued dual system. Instead, I ask him not to under-estimate the impact this Bill's provisions will have on the life of all schools through harnessing parents' natural and special interest in their children's progress.
I am grateful to the noble Earl for the care he has taken in his reply. I have accepted from the outset the technical deficiency of the amendment. The noble Earl seemed to be concerned about the possibility of a sheep and goats result from this amendment in that it would be difficult to distinguish between those parents' groups which should be assisted and those which should not. It could be done by establishing special funds for special areas where there is a genuine crisis, which is I think almost universally acknowledged, particularly in the inner city areas. You could do it on an urban aid basis. Therefore, there would not be discrimination between those and perhaps more prosperous middle-class areas.The noble Earl referred to the "quids" and the "quos". He said that this would cost a lot of "quids" and that these "quids" would be falling on the head of the Government. It is obviously true that no educational initiative designed to meet the disastrous situation in areas of educational deprivation can be taken for nothing. That is clearly true. There would have to be some new money for an initiative of this kind. If the Government did a cost-benefit analysis of educationally deprived areas and tried to sort out what would be the results of having good, small, popularly supported schools in these areas, they would find that the overall real cost was not that great. I am slightly disappointed. I am genuinely grateful to the noble Earl for saying that he appreciates my motives. I am slightly disappointed that the Government are not prepared to be a little more imaginative about this. I shall certainly not press it, but I shall go away, read the debate—the debate has been between the noble Earl and myself—think about it and come back possibly with some other proposal along these lines at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 40 agreed to.
Clause 41 [ compensation payable by governing body on change from controlled to aided status]:
moved Amendment No. 90A:
Page 45, line 7, leave out from ("as") to ("to"), in line 8, and insert ("the Secretary of State thinks fit having regard").
The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 90A, perhaps I may also speak to Amendment No. 91 standing in the name of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. I think that his concern was to clarify the basis of the valuation of the compensation to be paid by the governing body to the LEA. The Government share that concern. We recognise that valuation is not an exact science and our intention in this clause, which is, I think, made clear by our amendment, is that the Secretary of State, in making any determination under subsection (1)( b), will be guided, but not constrained, by the current value of the buildings in question. We intend his discretion here to be quite wide because we feel that that is most likely to achieve the fairest result.
I understand that it is feared that there could be confusion over whether the valuation should be by reference to the current use of the property or to the development value. There is provision, in subsection (3), for the Secretary of State to take advice on the valuation, and his appointed adviser would normally be the district valuer. Some of your Lordships, and, I am sure, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Hereford, will be familiar with the provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 to the 1946 Act, which require similar sorts of valuations. On many occasions we need the assistance of the district valuer in these cases, and he appears to have had no difficulty in producing a figure.
However, the important point is that because of the many variables there can be in individual cases we do not intend the Secretary of State to be bound by a particular formula when making his determination, though we do intend, as our amendment indicates, that he should have to take account of the valuation. Against this background I hope your Lordships, and especially the right reverend Prelate, will accept the Government's amendment in preference to Amendment No. 91. I beg to move.
I am grateful to the noble Earl the Minister for what he has said. Our concern was that there should be some kind of guidelines about valuation, on which there clearly might be confusion if there was different practice from one area to another. In view of what the noble Earl has said, it is not the intention to move Amendment No. 91.
On Question, amendment agreed to.
had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 91:
Page 45, line 8, after ("current") insert ("use").
In the unavoidable absence of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, Amendment No. 91 is not moved.
[ Amendment No. 91 not moved.]
Clause 41, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 42 [ Reports to Secretary of State]:
On Question, Whether Clause 42 shall stand part of the Bill?
I read this clause with some incredulity and I looked back at the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to see what provision was being made for extra civil servants in the Department of Education and Science to read all these reports to the Secretary of State. The governing body of every county, voluntary and maintained special school and establishment maintained for further education shall make reports and returns tc the Secretary of State. I cannot believe that the Secretary of State will read or have anybody read for him reports from every school and every further education establishment in the country.I am encouraged (or, if you like, discouraged) in that view by the knowledge that the Department of Education and Science or its predecessor was originally set up in the 19th century to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors. That was the only original purpose. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Alexander, is not here to confirm my history, that the only purpose of the department was to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors. Yet in recent years, because it was an excessive burden on the department to receive the reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors, that reporting has been dispensed with. If, because of pressure of work, the department is not able to undertake its primary and original task of receiving reports from inspectors, how on earth will it receive reports from every county, voluntary and maintained special school, and what use will be made of those reports? I suggest that the Government have fashioned a rod for their own back. If the Government are determined to proceed with this course, I ask them to tell us truthfully what use will be made of the reports.
I find myself in difficulty, because I thought that the noble Lord was going to oppose this clause for a completely different reason than the one he has given. I thought that he might be opposing it because he felt that it was a crafty route for the Secretary of State to bypass local education authorities and to obtain information about schools or colleges and governing bodies behind his back.
As if he could think that!
I cannot imagine how the noble Lord could not have thought of that, but he did not!I am of course well aware that Section 92 of the 1944 Act already requires LEAs to provide the Secretary of State with such information as he may require for the purpose of the exercise of his functions under the Education Acts. Here are the reasons. Sometimes, the information sought is for a particular policy initiative and is then requested through a circular sent to all local education authorities. I must stress that we agree that it would be quite inappropriate for information of that sort to be requested from individual governing bodies. I agree with the noble Lord that it would also be totally outside the capacity of the DES and the Welsh Office to cope with thousands of individual replies. On other occasions, however, the information sought from an LEA concerns a particular school. That arises particularly where the Secretary of State is investigating a complaint under either Section 68 or Section 99 of the 1944 Act. Those sections are concerned respectively with unreasonable behaviour by LEAs or governing bodies in the exercise of their functions and with breaches of the statutory responsibilities of either LEAs or governing bodies. The Committee will note that both sections refer explicity to governing bodies, so where the Secretary of State is investigating a complaint against a governing body under either of those sections, clearly he needs to be empowered to obtain information from the governing body. On such occasions it would not be appropriate for the information to be obtained through the agency of the LEA. It is not unknown for a complaint against the governing body to be made by the LEA. It would clearly not be fair for the governing body's side of the case to have to be submitted via the LEA with whom it was in disagreement. If the LEA were not involved in the complaint, which might relate to a matter wholly the responsibility of the governors, it again seems inappropriate for the LEA to act as the information-gathering agency. Either it would put its own gloss on the information—in which case it would no longer be a true reflection of the governing body's view of the matter—or it would simply send it on—in which case it would be adding a quite unnecessary layer to the proceedings and increasing the time taken to resolve the matter. I can give the assurance that the Government do not intend to use that new power to cut out local education authorities from those matters on which it would properly be their responsibility to report to the Secretary of State. I believe that I have given the reasons why such information is necessary from time to time and why it is to be allowed to be gathered in and not made compulsory; I assure the noble Lord of that. He will be delighted to know that it would be embarrassing my Secretary of State extremely if all that information was sent in just as a matter of course. Having heard that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will not oppose the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill.
I am sorry that the noble Earl should think that I am so distrustful of the Government's motives that I would believe that they would wish to bypass local education authorities in an unjustified way. I have great faith in the noble Earl on a number of matters.With the assurance that the Secretary of State will not be seeking reports from every county, voluntary and maintained special school, but will only be using that power in the way that the noble Earl described—to deal with particular needs for information from individual schools or possibly groups of schools, rather than from schools throughout the land—I am happy not to oppose the Question that Clause 42 stand part of the Bill.
Clause 42 agreed to.
Clause 43 [ Information and training for governors]:
[ Amendment No. 92 not moved.]
Clause 43 agreed to.
This might be a convenient moment to break. In moving that the House do now resume, I suggest that we do not return to this Bill until five minutes past eight o'clock. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
Public Order Bill
Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.
Museums And Galleries (Prohibition Of Admission Charges) Bill Hl
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—( Lord Jenkins of Putney.)
My Lords, before the Question is put, may I say that when this Bill was debated on Second Reading there were many pleas that we should allow it to go to Committee so that it could be carefully discussed in detail? When it first came to Committee, I ventured to protest that it came on very late at night and that that was unsuitable for a Bill whose provisions all of us who attended thought were important.The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, accepted that point with his usual courtesy and put himself in the hands of the House. I have no doubt that he was correct in interpreting the feelings of the House; that as we were all there and as a Second Reading of a prior Bill had been withdrawn, we should go on with the Committee stage. As I have said, I believe that the noble Lord was right in saying that that was the feeling of the House. Nevertheless, there was very soon an early Division in which there was no quorum in the Lobbies. As a result, the Committee stage was then adjourned. The Bill now comes before your Lordships with a great deal to discuss in the dinner interval only. I certainly do not oppose the Motion that your Lordships should now go into Committee on the Bill, but I say that it is a most inconvenient way of dealing with a matter of considerable importance. My view is that we cannot possibly finish the Committee stage this evening in the dinner hour. If the remaining Committee proceedings are either going to be in a dinner hour or very late at night—and some of us have to travel a considerable distance because we attach importance, like the noble Lord, to these matters—it is not treating the subject matter, to which we all attach great importance, with the seriousness that it deserves. This Bill cannot possibly pass into law this Session. However, there is the duty on your Lordships' Chamber to see that it is put in proper order and not left indefinite and with questions outstanding. That means that there must be serious discussion in Committee. I venture to say only this to the noble Lord. If we cannot finish the Committee stage this evening perhaps he will be good enough, having made his point on Second Reading although in a very sparsely attended House, to call it a day and leave the Bill for the remainder of the Session and, with his usual enthusiasm, introduce it again next Session. It is really a most inconvenient course to have the Committee stage either very late at night, as it was on our previous Sitting, or in the dinner hour when there is a great deal of great importance to discuss.
My Lords, I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, will allow us to make progress. A private Member, of course, as the noble and learned Lord knows, is in no position to select time. He has to take the time that is available to him. In all the circumstances I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, will, as I think he has already indicated, allow us to go ahead in the hope that we make good progress in the time available to us.
My Lords, I think the protest of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is well justified. It is an important Bill. It is a fact that, whoever is responsible, the Bill was pushed in at the end of the day when it was unreasonable to expect a reasonable House to deal with it. Now we have come to the Committee stage, having progressed through Second Reading, and we find that it is in the dinner hour when, of necessity, it is confined to a period of time when one cannot hope to do justice to the number of amendments on the Marshalled List.While I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, that it is not for a private Member to arrange the allocation of time for these matters, perhaps he will forgive me if I say that private Members, in trying to work the parliamentary system as it is, have certain responsibilities. I have always argued that private Members' responsibility in this field is not to use the Private Member's Bill procedure for matters which are of full national consequence. The procedure carries responsibilities and powers that are not within the realm of private Members to adjust to their time. The Private Member's Bill procedure is a valuable one but, in my judgment, it should be used on matters which do not involve the whole of what would be national policy on an issue but should be on matters of amending existing legislation or inviting legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in wanting to implement his very strong views on this important national matter, did wrong in not first of all convincing his own party which has the power to decide certain allocations of parliamentary time, that he had a good case so that this important issue could have been given, under the normal procedures, the time that it deserves. Therefore, I think that the protest by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is well justified and I hope that a lesson will be learned both by Members on the Front Benches, who arrange the times, and by Back-Bench Members when they choose subjects on which to use the Private Member's Bill procedure.
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Jenkins is perfectly in order to bring a Bill on this subject at any time that he wants. The noble lord, although he may have been in order, was quite wrong in spirit and sentiment in what he said.We have now spent a quarter of an hour talking about whether the Committee stage should go ahead. May I suggest that if any noble Lord wants to move that the Committee stage should not go ahead he does so now; otherwise we should get on and not spend any more time talking about it?
On Question, Motion agreed to.
House in Committee accordingly on Clause 2.
[The LORD STRABOLGI in the Chair.]
Clause 2 [ Prohibition of admission charges]:
In calling Amendment No. 1, I remind your Lordships that the debate upon it was adjourned at the previous Sitting pursuant to Standing Order 55. Unless, therefore, the noble Lord wishes to continue the debate, I shall now put the Question.
moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 1, line 11, at end insert ("without the approval of the Arts Council of Great Britain.").
The noble Lord said: We have already been reminded of what happened on the last occasion. There was not a quorum, so the amendment I had moved could not be accepted on a vote. Therefore, I shall now repeat my amendment, although I shall not necessarily repeat the whole of the argument.
Perhaps the noble Lord will give way. The point at which the proceedings came to an end was when all the debate had taken place and the Question had been put for a Division to take place. Surely, in view of what has now been said both by the noble Lord and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, it should now be for the noble Lord to have the Question put, as the Chairman suggested as one of the alternatives. We all have Hansard before us. The noble Lord put his case very strongly and eloquently when we last sat, and I think it would be taking up his own time and that of the Committee to repeat it.
I was in the process of saying that I did not intend to repeat my speech but since we had to adjourn on the previous Sitting because there was no one to hear my speech and, therefore, insufficient Members for it to become effective, it seems to me reasonable that now noble Lords are present who have the authority to do something about it they should know what the argument is all about. I intend to push my amendment again to a vote. It is as well that the people I suggest should join me in the Lobby should know what the argument is about.The argument is clear. This Private Member's Bill removes from the trustees of museums and galleries (trustees who are eminent and illustrious from every point of view) the right given to them under an Act that was passed by both Houses of Parliament in 1972 to decide how they should obtain money to carry out their functions as trustees, in addition to the grants given by government. They have instituted schemes such as opening shops, and so on, and in some cases making a charge or asking for donations in order, as they see it, to carry out their functions as trustees most efficiently. This Bill removes that power from them. It was a principle decided when we voted on Second Reading. That vote was marginal—indeed I believe 34 votes carried the day. It did not truly reflect on such an important matter what I consider to be the real view of this House. One had to accept the principle because the Second Reading received a majority and, under the procedures of the House, that principle had to be accepted as being the desire of the House. However, in Committee it is the right and duty of Members who feel that that principle is a bad principle and ought not to be allowed to go through in its full form, to try, if they feel strongly about it, to amend it to a point where the objectionable removal of all the powers from all the trustees is replaced with something which does not remove those powers, which recognises the principle of the Second Reading vote but which retains some powers for the trustees to carry out their functions as we expected them to do when they were appointed as trustees. On the basis that our Second Reading vote means that the trustees should not have complete power to charge or to ask for donations, my amendment proposes that where the trustees consider it right to charge in the interests of maintaining the museum at its proper level of excellence, as every other country does and as Apsley House and the Tower of London do one could give a whole list of places where it has been accepted that people who enjoy viewing and learning from treasures should pay—they should be able to charge only if the Arts Council does not disapprove of it. This really means an extra tier of decision before the general principle of making no charge is breached. So the amendment does not move away completely from the principle decided on Second Reading: it makes use of powers possessed by trustees—trustees whose standing is such that they should have that responsibility. In the debate that took place prior to the Committee being adjourned my noble friend Lord Eccles, who, in 1972, introduced the Act under which the powers were given to the trustees, said that he did not like my amendment. I was arguing that the trustees could have powers to charge if the Arts Council agreed. My noble friend said:
That is not what my amendment does. However as one or two people may have been influenced, as rightly they should, by the eminence of my noble friend Lord Eccles, I should add that the Arts Council is not being given the power to charge. The power to charge would still be left with the trustees. It would be a power that could not be implemented unless it had gone through the further sieve of the Arts Council saying that from an arts point of view it did not find the proposal objectionable. I feel that this is going some way along the lines of the Bill itself, while preserving the vital ingredient of allowing the trustees to carry out their function, which was the intention when they were appointed. My noble friend on the Front Bench, speaking on behalf of the Government, did not altogether accept my arguments on the adjourned Committee stage. He said that,"If, however, one compares the councillors of the Arts Council with the distinguished trustees of museums, it would clearly be ridiculous to give the Arts Council power to override the museum trustees".—[Official Report, 20/3/86; col. 1123.]
I agree with my noble friend. I would much prefer that the trustees, appointed for their quality, should have the power given to them under the 1972 Act to make the decision and to implement it without having to refer to anyone else. The principle that my noble friend wanted to preserve means that he would not take any account of the Bill we are now considering. I am saying that half a loaf is better than no bread. Rather than the trustees giving up the complete power under any circumstances to be able to do what they think right, I would settle for them having to satisfy themselves through having to obtain Arts Council agreement before the implementation could take place. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, criticised the merit of my argument. I had to remind him, and I remind your Lordships again now—it is the common sense of the argument—that I introduced to your Lordships' House the Theatre Trust Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, is vice-chairman of the Theatre Trust. The power of the Theatre Trust is that any planning authority has to have the agreement of the trust before planners can carry out what they think right in regard to altering the use of anything used as a theatre. That principle accords exactly with my amendment. One is leaving the powers with the trustees and making them go through another sieve to make sure that they are not doing anything outrageous and wrong. One is not quite achieving the principle that my noble friend wanted, but it is a step nearer to what we believe right. By voting for the amendment that I shall be submitting in a moment, I believe that we shall be nearer to what my noble friend wanted."it does not fulfil the important point of principle that trustees should be free to exercise their judgment in the discharge of their responsibilities."—[Official Report 20/3/86; col. 1123.]
Does the noble Lord wish to move the amendment?
I now formally move Amendment No. 1 in my name.
Before pursuing the matter, the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, should have asked himself why, on the last occasion, he failed to secure any support from his own Front Bench. He failed to secure the support of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, who was the architect of theatre charging. If anyone is enthusiastic about theatre charging it is the noble Viscount. The reason is that the amendment is a nonsense. I hesitate to suggest to the noble Lord that it is deliberately a wrecking amendment: however, I have not heard anything in my whole parliamentary experience that sounded more like a wrecking amendment.The noble Lord must be aware that the Arts Council has nothing to do with the matter. The noble Lord is trying to place upon the Arts Council a duty that the council would reject out of hand. The moneys that go to the museums affected by the Bill come direct from the Ministry. They pass nowhere near the Arts Council. To give the council a duty to intervene on a matter that is not within its purview is a function that it would reject out of hand. Without further ado, I hope that noble Lords will recognise the amendment for what it is. Let us by all means have serious discussion upon the amendments which follow, but an amendment designed to destroy the Bill out of hand—a Bill that has already been given a Second Reading—is one that should not be allowed to waste your Lordships' time any longer.
I am not entirely in accord with the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. This is a perfectly reasonable amendment. The Bill is formed on a hypothesis. The hypothesis is that the trustees are pusillanimous, weak-kneed, incompetent and mean spirited because they do not really have the public interest at heart. 'That is the hypothesis on which the Bill is founded. I concede that, from some people's point of view, it is a reasonable hypothesis. People are perfectly entitled to take that view of trustees of our museums and galleries.I would, however, suggest that there is another hypothesis. That is the advent of a new government which immediately falls into financial difficulties; there is a run on the pound; there is high inflation; and immediately there are demands from the unions, understandably, whose members work in museums and galleries. All this will lead to a substantial diminution in real terms of the grant that the museums and galleries receive. This is an hypothesis. I do not believe that it is any less reasonable an hypothesis than the hypothesis on which the Bill is founded. If, however, this hypothesis is taken the amendment tries to say: "Look, the trustees will be placed in an impossible position. They have not got enough money, but they cannot go to the government for more. If the government give them more, it will be wiped out by increasing inflation". What are they going to do? They must be able to appeal to someone. I take it that the point of the amendment is that the Arts Council is the only body to which they could appeal. The Arts Council is skilled in these matters. It faces them every day in regard to its own clients. Therefore, to my mind this is a perfectly understandable amendment to put forward. If the noble Lord moves it, I shall vote for it.
It has been moved.
I ought to make clear from the Government Front Bench that, with regret, I do not support my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls on this amendment. I find that characteristically he is being too reasonable on this occasion. I must confess to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, that on behalf of the Government I disagree fundamentally with this Bill. I therefore do not believe that there should be any seive or court of appeal of the kind which has just been suggested. I believe that the trustees, who are distinguished people, should be completely free to exercise their judgment in the discharge of their responsibilities. But I must confess that I do not believe this amendment is a waste of time. I do not believe that it is a wrecking amendment. Nonetheless it would not be fair to the Committee if I did not say that I cannot support my noble friend in the Division Lobby, for the reason I have given.
On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?
Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 35.
DIVISION NO. 3
|Annan, L.||Lane-Fox, B.|
|Beloff, L.||Layton, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L. [Teller.]||Lindsey and Abingdon, E.|
|Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Mersey, V.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Mottistone, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Murton of Lindisfarne, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Napier and Ettrick, L.|
|Dormer, L.||Newall, L.|
|Elliott of Morpeth, L.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Glanusk, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Swinfen, L.|
|Harmar-Nicholls, L. [Teller.]||Teviot, L.|
|Henley, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Hives, L.||Vickers, B.|
|Ardwick, L. [Teller.]||Dean of Beswick, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Denning, L.|
|Birk, B.||Elwyn-Jones, L.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Ennals, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Hatch of Lusby, L.||Rea, L.|
|Irving of Dartford, L.||Rhodes, L.|
|Jeger, B.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Jenkins of Putney, L. [Teller.]||Shackleton, L.|
|Kennet, L.||Stewart of Fulham, L.|
|Kilmarnock, L.||Stoddart of Swindon, L.|
|Kissin, L.||Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Lockwood, B.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|McGregor of Durris, L.||Tordoff, L.|
|McIntosh of Haringey, L.||Underhill, L.|
|MacLeod of Fuinary, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|McNair, L.||Ypres, E.|
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 1, line 12, leave out subsection (2).
The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 2.
I should like to know whether Amendment No. 3 is being taken with this amendment. There seems to be a large overlap. Amendment No. 3, which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, proposes, first, what Amendment No. 2 wants to do, and it then inserts something in its place.
I prefer my amendment to be taken separately. From reading the words of the amendment, I see the point which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is making, but I believe that as regards this matter we ought to have a very clear message from the Committee. The clear message of my amendment is that subsection (2) should not be allowed to stand in the Bill. The argument is similar to that put forward as regards Amendment No. 1, except that I believe that if we let this subsection go through we shall be making this House look rather ridiculous in the light of the practical common sense of how any organisation must be run—and certainly organisations as important as the museums and galleries.Under subsection (2), not only can they not make a charge—that was decided by a very narrow majority on the last vote, which we lost, and for the time being until Report stage we must live with it—but that subsection, which I want to erase, goes even further than that, because the trustees of the museums will not even be allowed to ask people to make a voluntary contribution. They will not even have the power to point out the importance of the museums and the galleries. They will not be given the power to point out how vital it is that they should have money in order to replenish their possessions. They will not have power to allow those people who derive enjoyment and benefit from museums and galleries and who leave them with a desire to want to maintain them, to make a contribution to ensure that they are maintained. I believe that to appoint trustees of the eminence of the trustees who sit on the boards of these museums and galleries, and to say that they shall not be allowed the judgment to decide how they obtain their finances in terms of advertising the value of what they have on offer and encouraging people to make a voluntary contribution, is nonsense. I am quite certain that the Bill will not be allowed to go through both Houses of Parliament. I am convinced that it will never become the law of the land. It is an exercise in the furtherance of the views of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins. I greatly respect his assiduity and tenacity as regards the views which he holds, with most of which I rarely find myself in agreement. However, to satisfy him by having his view placed upon the record, even for a short time, would result in your Lordships' Committee being made to look rather stupid. It would be rather stupid for the Committee to agree to this type of provision so that, even for a temporary period, it appeared to be the law of the land. The idea of not being able to allow these eminent trustees even to accept contributions is, as was said by the noble Lord on the Cross-Benches, almost an insulting attack upon the integrity of the people who do so. The Victoria and Albert Museum already implements a request for people to make voluntary contributions when they go into that museum. The chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum is the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who was the Leader of this House and whose eminence is such that he is expected to give guidance on matters which affect the world and the nations of the world. However, in the report issued only last week in defence of the Victoria and Albert Museum's achievements, he sets out that it has taken this action and the success which is flowing from it. For a Private Member's Bill to suggest that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and his fellow trustees shall not have the power to be able to do this is to my mind rather stupid if it receives full acquiescence by a vote of this House. Therefore, it is with some confidence—whatever happened on the last amendment—that I now move my second amendment, which would remove subsection (2), which places this insulting embargo upon the trustees of our museums and galleries.
Since this Bill has been introduced. the Museums Association, which I think all Members will agree is the representative body of museums, has carried out a survey of its membership. By an overwhelming majority it has decided to support the Bill. It decided to do so because it regards what is happening at, for example, the Victoria and Albert, as something which ought not to have happened there and certainly should not be allowed to happen anywhere else. That great institution is being brought into considerable disrepute by the nonsense which is taking place at the so-called voluntary turnstiles. Therefore, it is essential to the purpose of upholding what the Museums Association recognises as the reputation and standing of our national institutions that we get rid of this absurd nonsense which reflects no credit upon the Victoria and Albert.I gravely doubt whether the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—who, if my memory serves me correctly, is no longer chairman of the Victoria and Albert—would approve of this. I think that this nonsense was introduced by the present chairman, who I believe to be a Mr. Conrad.
Only last week we had the report from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, chairman of the Victoria and Albert trustees. The noble Lord was answering the museum's critics. Of course he is chairman. I should like to know the name of the body which the noble Lord says held this vote. Is it the one standing outside the Victoria and Albert with placards, trying to prevent the trustees doing what they think is right?
I am open to correction. I may be mistaken, but we shall have to find out tomorrow. It may be that the report from which the noble Lord is reading refers to last year's business rather than to what has taken place recently, but we shall see. I am not absolutely certain that I am right, but I believe it to be the case.The essential point is that museum people throughout the country are in favour of the Bill. Why are they in favour of it?—because in principle our great national institutions have always been open without charge to our people. What we are seeking to assert here are Victorian values. We are ensuring that there shall not be substituted an access charge, which I believe would be better than the nonsense which is being carried out at the Victoria and Albert. What is happening is that you go in, you are told how much you ought to pay and you are made to feel very mean and nasty if you do not pay it. I am not against donations. I had planned to make this point as regards my amendment, but perhaps I should make it here and now. I am not against donations. Indeed, in a modest way I participate in them myself. However, I am against the erection of a notional charge before you can get into the museum—a statement in the museum, with donation boxes; a statement before you leave the museum saying that if you have enjoyed what you have seen, there is an opportunity to make a contribution. All this would be reasonable, but to erect a barrier—in effect a barrier against entry—would keep away precisely those people we have always said must be given free access to these museums. For that reason, I hope the Committee will agree not to accept the proposed amendment.
I abstained on the last Division, but I have no hesitation in supporting this amendment. On Second Reading the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, described what was going on at the Victoria and Albert Museum as "squalid blackmail". Then your Lordships heard the experience of my noble friend Lord Perth, and the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie, gave testimony to the same effect. There was obviously nothing going on there, so far as they experienced, which in any way justified the language of the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson, or indeed what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, has said today about the Victoria and Albert Museum.The noble Lord said that museum people through-out the country were opposed to this because the tradition has been for free entry. That may be true of the main London museums and galleries, but it is certainly not true throughout the country. For example, in the North of England we have a counterpart of the Wallace Collection at the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, which has a fine mixed collection of pictures and decorative art mirroring that of the Wallace Collection and in some respects exceeding it. It charges for admission. All except two of the museums and galleries in York charge for admission, and one of the exceptions makes a charge for car parking, which is difficult to find in York. As for invitations to make a voluntary contribution, so far as my experience goes we have had that as long as I can remember. I cannot remember a time when that large coffer (filled with notes and coins) was not just at the entrance of the Tate Gallery to solicit contributions. It seems to me absurd to say that suddenly one must attach a notice to it. Similarly when the Tate Gallery was seeking to buy the Rodin carving of The Kiss voluntary contributions were solicited. That was immediately adjacent to the entry and exit, which of course are the same. In my submission to the Committee it is intolerable to tell experienced trustees, appointed because of their knowledge and standing, that they shall place this or that placard next to any collecting box; that they must not have turnstiles, for example, to monitor entry so that they know how many people are coming to the museum; and if they have turnstiles they must not solicit contributions there. It is an intolerable insult to such people as we expect to be trustees and governors of museums and galleries. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, will press this to a Division, and I shall support him if he does.
May I add one word before we divide on this? I am in favour of this amendment, but for a slightly different reason from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon. This provision has a nonsensical quality about it. You are not allowed to make any voluntary contributions on entry. Again the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, intends to move says:
What about exit? Why should you not make a charge on exit? Indeed if this became law that would be the natural thing for trustees who were in distress to do. It is already done. It is when the public are going out that they are asked for contributions by notices, by boxes and by other receptacles which solicit gifts from the public. But it would be perfectly possible and legal, if this Bill became law, to do precisely what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, does not want done on entry, on exit. I therefore think that this provision has a real defect in drafting and in law."In this section the making of a charge for admission".
I should like to support this amendment, partly for the reasons mentioned by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. It is not unusual to see notices in the press of a masterpiece in danger of being sold abroad because we cannot raise the funds to buy it and keep it in this country. Anyone visiting a gallery would be precluded, under the Bill as now drafted, from helping by making a donation as they go in. If a major donor, who happens to be a busy man, arrives at the gallery and says "I have only 10 minutes, what do you want?", this would stop the director, as he takes him into the gallery, from saying, "I want some money from you". That would be an illegal act, as I read this Bill. Therefore, it is essential that this amendment be agreed to.