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The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, perhaps I may pursue the Minister a little further. He said that the Bosnian authorities were bound by the Dayton agreement. But they were not represented at Dayton. Surely it was Milosevic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, who was at Dayton, not Karadzic.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, the noble Earl is quite right; but I was also trying to make the point that the local authorities have a clear responsibility for trying to assist the forces of law and order in arresting war criminals or suspected war criminals. I regret to say that they have been very delinquent in their responsibilities in these matters. On his past visits to the area my right
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I am sorry to come back to this matter but I am concerned about the sealed indictment. Can the Minister explain it a little further? If it is a sealed indictment, the person indicted does not know anything about it and therefore does not know that when someone comes to arrest him he should give himself up or even give himself up before someone comes to arrest him. It may be that I am being a little naive but I do not understand what this term "sealed indictment" means. If the Minister could explain it, I should be most obliged.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, if I understand it correctly, obviously the person named in the sealed indictment knows when it is handed to him that he is named in it. On the other hand, we do not publish these things in the newspapers so that he and his cronies know in advance that he is likely to be arrested.
Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I have delayed speaking until this stage in the Bill because my objection to the Bill goes wider than merely the monetary considerations which were discussed largely at the earlier stage.
History will relate that the first act of an incoming Conservative Government in 1979 was to introduce on 17th May a very short education Bill, the purpose of which was to restore to local authorities and local people the right to choose the type of secondary education in their areas by removing the compulsion placed upon them to reorganise all secondary schools on comprehensive lines.
The first major Bill, brought in almost immediately after the Summer Recess and debated on 5th November 1979, included among its aims that of expanding parental choice and of setting up the assisted places scheme. While we are debating a clause of a Bill, the intention of which is to abolish that scheme, it is right to remind Members briefly of the purpose for which that Bill was intended.
The purpose of the Bill was to reduce the damage that had been done by the destruction of the direct grant grammar schools; two-thirds of which had gone into the independent sector. It also sought to ensure that the high quality academic education that those schools had provided--particularly in the industrial inner city areas--to children of ability, irrespective of the means
I say at once to the Committee that I was proud to be able to introduce that Bill as I have been proud to be able to introduce the first of the education Bills. I was and remain proud of the assisted places scheme. I cannot claim to have been the total author of that scheme. I noticed a moment ago my noble friend Lord St. John of Fawsley move through the Chamber, who could claim more of that privilege than I can. However, I can certainly claim to have been the Minister responsible for introducing it.
Therefore, I find it both ironic and sad that almost the first act of an incoming Labour Government, 18 years later, is to remove that opportunity from those children so that in future those schools will yet again become available only to those fortunate enough to have parents who are able to pay the fees. What is more, though I accept that the intention of the Labour Party to remove the assisted places scheme has been clear from the outset, it is largely contrary to the spirit of what was said in the manifesto. In its manifesto on education the Labour Party said,
I repeat, I find it sad and ironic that the first act carried out by the new Labour Administration effectively is to abolish the one scheme that aimed to reduce that divide in a way in which the Labour Party claimed to believe. They abolish it not only to the damage of the pupils who have benefited from the scheme over recent years, but also to the damage of the schools themselves.
I said that it has been known from the outset that the Labour Party was committed to the abolition of the scheme. I congratulate New Labour in one respect; that is, that it has made one substantial difference to that which was proposed by old Labour, however much the noble Lord, Lord Peston, may regret it. Its original commitment made at the time by Mr. Neil Kinnock in another place was to put an immediate end to the scheme so that all financial assistance should be immediately withdrawn and those children being educated in those schools would have their education disrupted and be required to go elsewhere. At least that degree of callousness does not now appear in the Bill.
Nevertheless, the Bill remains no more than a sop to the left wing of the Labour Party with its inbuilt dislike of any form of independent education. The fact is that 80,000 people have benefited under the assisted places scheme; the fact is that there are now 37,000 people taking part in those schools. One is told by the critics that the scheme has not benefited those that it set out to benefit. I do not accept that. Of those receiving assisted places, 42 per cent. have their fees wholly paid. That means that the income of their family is less than £9,843 a year; 80 per cent. of the families benefiting from the assisted places scheme come from families with less than the national average household income of £18,000. Indeed, the annual average income of all the assisted places families is in the region of £10,500.
I believe particularly that in those areas with which I was concerned--they are ones the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, would know well, though she is not at present in the Chamber; Blackburn, Bolton, Stockport, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester--the direct-grant schools which had been abolished by a previous government and saved by the assisted places scheme (as schools they will survive) will no longer be able to give the opportunity to those children because of the effect of what is--I agree with my noble friend Lord Henley--a mean and nasty Bill.
For what purpose is that being done? It cannot be suggested for one moment that it is being done for educational purposes. No one is suggesting that those who are in those schools are not benefiting from education of the highest standard. It is being done to save money. I do not want to become involved--I would not dare--with the noble Lords, Lord Peston and Lord Skidelsky, on the issues of economics. Of course there will be some money saved. But to suggest, as the Labour Party has, that we take the gross cost of the assisted places scheme and propound that as the money that is going to be saved as though there were no counteracting charges, is bogus and dishonest.
Anybody reading that would be entitled to think that, first, £180 million was the cost at the time that was written; secondly, that the savings would be the total gross cost of the scheme; and, thirdly, that the savings would be adequate to reduce all class sizes for five, six and seven year-olds to under 30.
Lord Peston: Perhaps the noble Lord will give way, if I may interrupt him. I am not criticising him as a Secretary of State; he held that position admirably. I should like to ask him a question, assuming that it does not fall within the Official Secrets Act. When he was Secretary of State and pushing for this scheme, did he go to the Treasury and say, "You must let me have this scheme because it is completely costless. It costs no money whatever because anything I am spending on the
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