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Division No. 2


Abercorn, D.
Ailsa, M.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Arran, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Belstead, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brentford, V.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Butterworth, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Colwyn, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Crathorne, L.
Cuckney, L.
Davidson, V.
Denham, L.
Dunleath, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erne, E.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Grimston of Westbury, L.
Hayhoe, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Jopling, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knollys, V.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Milverton, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moyne, L.
Munster, E.
Naseby, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Pender, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rathcavan, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller.]
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swansea, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alport, L.
Ampthill, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bledisloe, V.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fitt, L.
Gallacher, L.
Glenamara, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grey, E.
Halsbury, E.
Hampton, L.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Kintore, E.
Kirkhill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Ludford, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Meston, L.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Ogmore, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Porter of Luddenham, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Ripon, Bp.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

30 Jun 1998 : Column 551

4.45 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Plans by LEAs for reducing infant class sizes]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 2, line 7, leave out ("the limits imposed under section 1 are") and insert ("any limit imposed under section 1 is").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 11 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 2, line 46, at end insert--
("( ) The Secretary of State shall not approve any statement prepared by a local education authority under this section which envisages an increase in the average size of classes in junior schools or secondary schools in that authority's area over the level prevailing in the same area in 1997.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in speaking to this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15. These amendments cover the issues of growth in junior schools; the costs incurred by the application of the pledge; distances travelled by children to school; and accommodation.

30 Jun 1998 : Column 552

As regards junior schools, the Minister in another place, Estelle Morris, went to Derbyshire last week and met a large number of teachers. She was challenged a number of times about the subject of overcrowding in junior schools, which is a logical correlation with the proposals we have before us. The Minister replied:

    "Our current priority is to fund Key Stage 1 and we do not have any plans to deal with Key Stage 2 at the moment".
I suggest to the Minister that the application of that class-size pledge leaves the Government with two choices: they either fly in the face of the proposition in the guidance--that it shall not result in increased class sizes at junior school stage--or the pledge must be continued throughout the school.

I give an extremely simple example. The intake of a school has 75 children. That is too many for two classes, so there would have to be three classes. The three classes would be in year one and sustained in years two and three. But at year four, either there are two classes of 34 or 35--and one can take any number of children over the magical number of 60 which is appropriate for two classes under the new proposals--or there continues to be three classes in years five to seven. Those are the two choices. They are stark but they are real. If those classes are to be sustained throughout the school, there is not a need only for one teacher in year one but there is a need for seven teachers in seven year groups. It is not merely one classroom that is needed for the extra class at year one, but an extra classroom is needed when that class becomes class two and so on. It is all very well for the Minister to say that she has no plans to address Key Stage 2, but I suggest there is no choice if the pledge is to be delivered.

In response to the previous set of amendments, the Minister said that as the classes work through, classes in the junior school will also become smaller. That is an absolutely logical progression from smaller classes in infant schools. As the classes become smaller in junior schools, there will be a need for more teachers, classrooms and so on. Therefore, it is not possible simply to say that there will be no knock-on effect.

Because we believe that that is a very real danger caused by the rigid application of that policy, we believe that it should help the Government, and certainly help them in their arguments with the Treasury to have this provision on the face of the Bill. After all, the Government have promised that under this clause, which envisages an increase in the average size of classes in junior and secondary schools, the Secretary of State said that he will not approve any statement from a local education authority that involves increasing class sizes at other key stages. It is such an important issue because, as was shown at the meeting with the Minister last week, teachers fear that it can only be achieved at the expense of junior school classes, unless a great deal more money is provided beyond Key Stage 1.

In Derbyshire last week, when speaking with the people from local government, the Minister of State, Mr. Byers, said that he could absolutely assert that there will be no reduction in parental preference. The conference went on to pass a motion to the effect that reduction in class sizes would constrain parental preference. The chairman of the Labour controlled

30 Jun 1998 : Column 553

borough of Lewisham, Mr. Gavin Moore, said that people should not make pledges that they are not in a position to carry out. The Government have made two pledges on class sizes and parental choice, but they are in danger of failing to deliver on both of them.

The concern is not just with teachers in schools; the concern is with the very people who will be charged with implementing the policy. The problems that they foresee are those which will arise because of the extra costs involved in coping in three years' time with the extra provision in junior school classes. The charge that they will have put upon them to enhance parental preference--indeed, not even to sustain it--is very important. The leader of Lewisham Council went on to say that the election pledge made by Labour last year to reduce primary class sizes to under 30 pupils will be impossible to achieve if parents have the right to decide which school their child attends. There are huge tensions, which must be addressed.

When responding to a similar amendment during the last stage of the Bill, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, gave us an assurance--indeed, a reassurance because some of us rather gulped at what he said about the permanent classrooms pledge. However, he made it absolutely clear at that stage, and said:

    "I have just said that our letter to local education authorities wishing to apply for the class size capital funds makes it clear that their plans will have to be for permanent classrooms, not mobile classrooms. As I have already quoted, the guidance we sent out states that,

    'Applications relating simply to the provision of mobile classrooms will not be accepted'".
That was queried by my noble friend Lady Byford and, in response, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said:

    "I must be precise about this. We are saying that applications for funding for the purpose of reducing infant class sizes which rely on the use of mobile classrooms will not be accepted".--[Official Report, 5/5/98; col. 582.]
When speaking to previous amendments I said--and I repeat it now--that very often there is a bulge in the number of children coming through a school which then moves away in the course of time. Very often, where there are new developments of housing, large numbers of primary school places are required in the early stages, but the situation always settles down again later. The use of mobile classrooms, which have improved immeasurably over the years, has been the local education authorities' way of being flexible; in other words, they can take a mobile classroom, satisfy the school's needs for two or three years and then move the classroom to where it is needed.

The situation where every child in a class where the number has exceeded 30 whose placement might involve him travelling a longer distance to school, and mean putting him into a school where the performance is poorer than the school which he would have attended, could in fact inhibit all the promises that the Government have made. In that case, as Ministers said, a classroom and a teacher would be provided for any single child in a class where the number of pupils has reached over 30. If the Government are really saying that they can deliver that in every instance beyond the school year of 2001, then LEAs will need a good deal

30 Jun 1998 : Column 554

more assurance. The amendments are designed to take the Minister's own words in the guidance and put them on the face of the Bill, so that there could be no doubt in that respect: LEAs are bound by law to ensure that classes do not have over 30 pupils in those age groups, just as schools will not be allowed to have classes with over 30 pupils come the year 2001. Indeed, the Government require that parental preference must be enhanced; buildings must be permanent; distances travelled must be reasonable; and denominational choice must be adhered to as far as is possible.

In order to deliver that, it is right that the Government should have an obligation placed upon them to ensure that the money is made available in all those circumstances so that LEAs can be assured that, in order to avoid some of the side effects of implementing this policy, they will not be found wanting but will have the wherewithal to put it into effect. I beg to move.

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