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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I find it quite amazing to hear two former Secretaries of State for Education who served various Conservative governments, under whom numbers of grammar schools were turned into comprehensive schools, make the speeches that they have just made. They criticise the Government for fighting the battles of yesteryear. It seems that it is they who are now fighting the battles of yesteryear, and perhaps battles that they wish they had fought a little harder when they were members of those governments.

However, the criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, is accepted. Of course, I should have referred to secondary modern schools too. When members of the Conservative Party are debating this subject, they never refer to the fact that where we have the selective system, as in Kent, with grammar schools we confine 75 per cent of pupils to secondary modern schools. They are labelled as failures at the age of 11, and it is made very difficult for them to escape from that failure. It would be more honest if from time to time members of the Conservative Party made it absolutely clear that that is what is being discussed.

The noble Lord, Lord Baker, referred to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, as a "good egg". I do not want to dispute that at all. But the claim that the Government are involved in blind prejudice against academic ability is outrageous. The Government are committed to raising the academic ability of all our children, right across our primary schools and right across our secondary schools. In fighting old battles, the Conservatives are becoming obsessed with 160-odd grammar schools. What a pity the Conservatives do not think about the needs of all our pupils in all our schools.

I do not want to get involved in another debate about selection, because, as I said in my introductory remarks and as the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, rightly said, we have already had that debate several times.

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I shall answer the two questions put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew. He supports the continuation of not only grammar schools but also secondary modern schools in Kent. The noble and learned Lord asked whether I accepted that there would be a period of uncertainty when ballots take place and whether that would cause damage. I repeat what I said earlier, and what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Tope. It was the noble and learned Lord's party which introduced ballots in the first instance. So I wonder whether he believes that there was any damage caused in that respect.

The noble and learned Lord also asked about whether the Government have any intention of amending the thresholds. The threshold is in primary legislation and the Secretary of State has said that he will not reduce it.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, has inadvertently neglected to answer the first question. Will she take this opportunity to do that?

Does the noble Baroness regard "secondary modern" as some pejorative term which applies, for example, to Angley School in Kent, which operates in co-operation with Cranbrook School, at the other end of the town, and is sending its children to Oxford and Cambridge and to other universities from an increasingly successful sixth form?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I thought I had answered the first point. Of course, whenever changes to admission arrangements are made, some disruption will be caused while they are carried out, but it is not believed that long-term damage is done. I reiterate what I said earlier: the Government believe that it was right to consult parents about the issue.

Regarding the point about secondary modern schools in Kent, I am sure there are a great many secondary modern schools in Kent doing the best that they possibly can in a situation which is not at all desirable.

The noble Lord, Lord Baker, thinks that the Government are out of touch with public opinion. I think that he is profoundly out of touch with public opinion. When surveys of public opinion were undertaken when the 11-plus was still in place--it still is in Kent--the vast majority of people disliked it intensely and wanted to see it come to an end.

I set out my reasons earlier for rejecting the Opposition's proposals and I shall not repeat them all again. I urge noble Lords to support the Government's Amendment No. 136 and to restore the provisions for parental petitions and ballots about the future admission arrangements at grammar schools to the School Standards and Framework Act and to support the position achieved while the Bill was in another place. In so doing, I hope that noble Lords will also be persuaded by my arguments against the Opposition's Amendment No. 136A, which would impose a moratorium of 10 years on further balloting instead of

18 Jul 2000 : Column 815

the present five years. To support the Government's amendment and to resist the Opposition's amendment is to support the balance the Government have been keen to strike between ensuring that parents have opportunities to decide the future of admissions to grammar schools and ensuring that schools have the stability between ballots which they need.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it was the Prime Minister and not the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, who said that the Labour Government were out of touch, and therefore my noble friend was right to refer that. The Prime Minister himself said it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said rather patronisingly that some secondary moderns were doing their best in the best possible circumstances. Many secondary moderns are doing exceptionally well indeed, and so are many other schools, many comprehensives, and many high schools. I refute very strongly the accusation that somehow or other my colleagues and I are not concerned with all children in all schools. It was our government who introduced city technology colleges. It was our government who introduced specialist schools. It was our government who introduced bilateral schools and grant-maintained schools. It was our government who supported grammar schools and the best comprehensive schools, high schools, secondary modern schools, Church schools and special needs schools. That system provides choice and diversity and an education that meets the needs of all children, including children of high academic ability.

Why is there a vendetta against 164 schools out of 4,000? We all know why: it is the Government's obsession with academic brilliance and pandering to every other form of selection. Why is it right to select on the basis on an aptitude for science and technology, or art, or music, or sport, and not for a child who is bright and very able academically?

I am afraid that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, did ask for it. First, he referred to the ballots which we introduced for grant-maintained schools. There is a very important distinction in that regard. The parents, the teachers and staff in each school which became grant maintained made that decision. This is a very different form of attrition.

The parents of children in many of those grammar schools are denied a vote at all about the future of the schools. In the case of grant-maintained schools, they were not voting about whether the school survived as a school; they were voting about a change of management in the school This is about whether the school should survive at all as a school. Many of the schools will cease to exist as grammar schools. I am saying to the noble Baroness that if there is a successful vote in those areas--in other words, to change the admissions arrangements--those schools cease to exist as grammar schools. They are no longer grammar schools.

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That was not the position in relation to grant-maintained schools. They continued to be the schools that they were and the ballot was on a change of management and the fact that there would be more control over the running of the school.

Once again, we have witnessed the two faces of the Liberal Democrat Party. When we were discussing the Bill originally, we all remember that a Front Bench Liberal Democrat spokesman said quite openly in this Chamber, "What we say nationally is one thing; what we do on the ground is another". I have no respect for such a policy.

Let there be no mistake that we shall abandon those petition and balloting arrangements when we return to office. A vote for my amendment will be a vote for a widening of choice and diversity in education. A vote against my amendment will impact most strongly on bright children from low income families.

This Government prove beyond doubt that the politics of envy and the class war are alive and well. I commend the Motion to the House.

4.52 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 136A), as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 136, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 206; Not-Contents, 237.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barber, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bell, L.
Belstead, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Brigstocke, B.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Buxton of Alsa, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Carver, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chilver, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cox, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cranborne, V.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Durham, Bp.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fitt, L.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanson, L.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Haslam, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hylton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Kelvedon, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Wartnaby, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Knights, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monson, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Moran, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Noakes, B.
Norfolk, D.
Northbourne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Parkinson, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pike, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Quinton, L.
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Sainsbury of Preston Candover, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Slim, V.
Sterling of Plaistow, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tombs, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wilberforce, L.
Wilcox, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Wolfson, L.
Wolfson of Sunningdale, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Attenborough, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackburn, Bp.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Bristol, Bp.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chandos, V.
Chelmsford, Bp.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Derby, Bp.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Diamond, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkender, B.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Hattersley, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jacobs, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Joffe, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Ludford, B.
McCarthy, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McFarlane of Llandaff, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mishcon, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Oxford, Bp.
Palmer, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Prashar, B.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Richard, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Rochester, Bp.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Salisbury, Bp.
Sandwich, E.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stallard, L.
Stern, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Varley, L.
Wakefield, Bp.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

18 Jul 2000 : Column 819

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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