§ The Orders for the remaining Government business were read and postponed.
§ Whereupon, Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Mr. HOGGE
I desire to raise a question of which I gave private notice this afternoon, with regard to the attitude of 1951 the Scottish Secretary in answering questions which I put down on Tuesday. A short time ago we were desired by the Scottish Secretary to be good enough to put our Scottish questions down on Tuesdays. I received a communication to that effect, and probably other Scottish Members received a similar communication. We were also advised to give as long notice as we could on account of the difficulty the Scottish Secretary had in getting into touch with the various departments in Scotland. Some of the questions put down to-day were in my name. I may say that all the questions I put down to the Scottish Secretary on a Tuesday have been put down several days ahead, so that there is no difficulty in getting the information. It has also been the custom of Ministers when questions have been put down to their Departments which ought to be asked of other Departments, to have them replied to by the Ministers concerned on that date. As a matter of fact, to-day certain questions beginning about No. 80 were put down to the Postmaster-General and answered by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and there was no difficulty in getting a reply to them. But there is a difficulty in getting replies with regard to Scottish questions, and although we were asked to put them down on a Tuesday we were told they should have been asked of another Minister, in spite of the fact that there was time if he did not care to answer them himself to say that they ought to have been addressed to another Minister. We Scotchmen who represent Scottish constituencies in this House have very few opportunities for discussing Scottish questions. We have had four and a-half hours this Session, in addition to the Scottish Temperance Bill, and the only way in which we can draw attention to the grievances which exist is by taking advantage of Question Time. The Secretary for Scotland seems to think that there is some personal animus against him, and that we desire to rag him on that bench. As a matter of fact, the contrary is the case. When the right hon. Gentleman was appointed, those of us on his own side looked forward with pleasurable anticipation to the time when he would break up the bureaucracy of the Scottish Departments which governed all sorts of questions in Scotland. Instead of that, we find the Scotch Secretary giving the most official answers of any Minister on that bench. I put a question to-day. I asked if the right hon. Gentleman did not think that in 1952 future in dealing with Scottish education questions before further changes were contemplated they ought to be submitted to the Scottish Members, and the right hon. Gentleman replied that he objected to charges being made in that vague form.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The question I put was as follows:—To ask the Secretary for Scotland whether, in view of the dissatisfaction existing in Scotland with the policy pursued by the Scottish Education Department, he would entertain the suggestion that, before any further changes are finally determined, the changes contemplated should be submitted to the Scottish representatives in I his House for their approval?The Scottish Secretary replied:—I must protest against such vague charges being made in the form of a question. I shall always be glad to give hon. Members every possible opportunity for considering changes of importance11.0 P.M.
I would remind the Scottish Secretary that every change of any importance in the educational system of Scotland within the last ten years has been made without reference to any Scottish Members. I could detail these at great length and point out the growing dissatisfaction which exists in Scotland with regard to those changes. Take the one contemplated by the Treasury to impose upon the Scottish Universities certain restrictions unless they adopt an inclusive medical fee. I have pointed out to the Secretary for Scotland that in Edinburgh in particular, and also in Glasgow there exist large extramural schools garrisoned by the cleverest students passing through our universities and from those schools are chosen the professors of medicine, who sit in the chairs of all the British universities I know. If you impose this scheme upon these universities, you will inflict incalculable injury on those extra-mural schools. I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he knew of the existence of those schools. He seemed to think it was not his business at all. He now shakes his head. I suppose that means he does not think it is his business.
§ Mr. HOGGE
The Secretary for Scotland ought to be sufficiently alive to the advantages of these extra-mural schools in 1953 medicine in our Scottish universities to prevent the Lords of the Treasury imposing any scheme on the universities that would kill those schools. If he is not alive to that fact, the sooner he is the better. He may take it from me that a great many of us who have been associated intimately with our universities and extra-mural schools are not going to see them driven to the wall by any "My Lords of the Treasury" in this House. I make an appeal to other Members on the Government Bench to-night. After all, Scottish Members come here this autumn to support the Government on measures which do not apply to Scotland. We have in the past supplied almost that constant majority for the Liberal party in this House which has sustained Ministers, and we do object to this continual neglect of Scottish affairs, and to the further evidence of neglect in answers which are given us now from the Government Bench by the Scottish Secretary. I do wish to impress that upon him, and to have him believe that this is a real and genuine feeling and will continue to exist unless he takes early methods of supplying a remedy.
§ Mr. WHYTE
I desire to follow my hon. Friend to the extent that he has raised the question of the inclusive fees. It would not be easy for us in any Session of Parliament to effectually raise a question of this sort, and especially is that the case in this Session. We may be told, as we have been told, that the Scottish Education Department has no direct responsibility for that, but we want to know, if we are going to conduct a campaign against the Treasury, whether, in the communications which passed between the Scottish Education Department and the Treasury, the Scottish Office has already sold the universities by giving what we believe to be unpatriotic advice to the Treasury. I do not say that advice has been given, but it would clear the Scottish Office of an imputation which rests upon it at the moment if we were led to understand that the advice when sought was that the policy which "My Lords of the Treasury" sought to impose upon the Scottish universities was practically a policy which would end in their complete strangulation. That is a very strong statement to make, but knowing as I do intimately the organisation of my own university, the University of Edinburgh, I can assure the House that any decree which had the binding force of law upon these universities and which would tend to discourage the activity of the 1954 extra-mural schools to which my hon. Friend has paid a well-deserved tribute, would undoubtedly rob the Edinburgh University of her high name as one of the greatest medicine universities in the world. I, as a devoted alumnusof that university, wish to raise my voice in the strongest protest against that policy, but I will withdraw every word of that, protest if I am satisfied that the Scottish Education Department are alive to the danger, and tender to "My Lords of the Treasury," the advice that the course they propose to pursue is one fraught with great peril to the true educational interests of Scotland.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
If I may, I will first refer to the personal complaint of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, and I would remind him of one or two facts of recent occurrence. On Tuesday last I explained very carefully, and I think quite clearly, that the Scottish Education Department is not responsible for the Scottish universities. The duties of the Scottish Education Department are imposed upon them by Statute, and are perfectly well defined. I asked the hon. Gentleman to look up the Universities (Scotland) Act, which provides, so far as Government interference with Scottish universities is concerned, what that interference is to be and by whom. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh was under no misapprehension on the subject; he required no instruction from me as to whom he should put questions, for I find he put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday upon this very matter affecting the university; he therefore cannot pretend ignorance on that point.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
They are not different questions; they are questions affecting the Scottish universities. The hon. Member said there had been a great many changes during ten years. No doubt there have, but I have not been responsible for them. The change with regard to inclusive fees has been spoken of as if it were a new proposition. What are the facts? They are perfectly simple. In the 1955 year 1909 a Committee dealing with the subject of Scottish universities examined witnesses on the subject, and among them were some of these extra-mural teachers referred to, some of whom were in favour of an inclusive Grant. That Committee suggested the adoption of the inclusive fee. That was not one of their recommendations, but it was one of their suggestions in the body of the Report. The Treasury acted upon it, and all the universities with the exception of Edinburgh fell in with the proposal. Glasgow fell in with it and took the Grant. The Scottish Education Department can no more control the Scottish universities than the English Board of Education can control the English universities. I am not saying that in all details the two cases are precisely analogous, but our position is perfectly clear. We are not responsible for the Scottish universities or for this recommendation of an inclusive fee or for making the Grant conditional on it, or for the amount, or for the conditions attached to it. The responsibility does not rest with us. My hon. Friend is perfectly aware of it, as last Tuesday he put a question to the Treasury, and to-day he is complaining that I am still referring him to the Treasury. What is the ground of complaint? It is a perfectly preposterous and ridiculous complaint, for which there is no foundation at all. What is our position in the matter? The Treasury has, no doubt, reasons for making the condition. It has accepted the Report of that Committee which dealt with Scottish universities. I cannot accept any responsibility for that. There is no reason why I should express an opinion on a subject for which I am not responsible, but I have told Members, quite candidly, what opinion was expressed three years ago or thereabouts by the Scottish Education Department, when they were asked what their view was on the question of inclusive fees. What they said was that they thought thatthe institution of a composite fee for specific courses of study is a reform which has very much to recommend it on educational grounds.That was their opinion two or three years ago. But the responsible body is the Treasury. It is the Treasury which gives the Grants, and the Treasury which makes the conditions, and really I must refer my hon. Friends to the Treasury. The Secretary for Scotland has a wide 1956 range of responsibilities, and if he feebly and inadequately strives to live up to his responsibilities, and to answer for the Acts which Parliament has committed to his charge, he has quite enough to do without answering for other matters for which the law has not made him responsible, but into which hon. Members are simply trying to drag him for reasons which I fail to understand. It is not my duty to express an opinion on a matter of this kind. I was asked to-day, for example, if the Carnegie Trust was at the back of this. I have not the faintest idea. Why should I express an opinion upon that? It is not reasonable for me to express an opinion upon matters for which I am not responsible. It is outrageous to accuse me of discourtesy if I give the perfectly courteous and plain answer to a question that it ought to be addressed to another Department and not addressed to the Department of which I am the head.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he himself has had any communication with the Treasury on the subject, and what was the reply?
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
This question of the universities is one of the most important questions for Scotland. The universities have played a very great part in the national life of Scotland. It is a question of vital importance to Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman is Secretary for Scotland, and, as such, not necessarily as head of the Education Department or the Fisheries Board or the Board of Agriculture, he ought to be directly and vitally interested in this question of supreme importance to Scotland. It is he who is head of the Scottish Department. It is he who has all specialist knowledge with regard to Scotland. Here we have the Treasury, which has no specialist knowledge with regard to Scotland, and which has no expert knowledge of Scotland, interfering in the internal affairs of the Scottish Universities, and laying down the conditions upon which they receive Grants. Conditions ought not to be laid down except on the advice of persons who are expert in these matters.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
The Treasury have not adopted the whole Report of the Committee. They have picked out this and I that item from the Report. How can they have the expert knowledge to say which of the recommendations shall be enforced? There is no body which has expert knowledge except the Scottish Office, and the Treasury showed their appreciation of that fact by consulting the Scottish Education Department to some limited extent—an extent which we do not understand. This is a matter upon which there is very great feeling in Scotland, not merely in Edinburgh, which is officially wholly opposed to what has been done, but also in Glasgow. It is a feeling which has existed for a considerable time. I asked a question about this last Session. The effect of what has been done has been now to raise the cost of university education. It is having a retrogade effect upon university education in Scotland. The ideal at which all Scottish educationalists aim is to make university education as cheap as possible, and this is having the effect of making it dearer. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will really devote some attention to this subject, and consider that it is a question of vital interest.
§ Mr. PIRIE
I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has in my opinion lowered the position of the Secretary for Scotland even lower than it has ever been before, and that is saying a great deal. He seems to me, instead of being anxious to be of real use in his official position as a means of communication between Scottish Members and the Government of the day, rather to attempt to avoid and throw them over and pass them on to someone else. The great argument which was used by his predecessor certainly, and possibly by himself, when the question of removing the Scottish Education Department was urged—
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Will the hon. Member answer me a plain question? Is he prepared to say the Scottish Universities wish to be put under the control of the Scottish education authorities?
§ Mr. PIRIE
I was not talking of Scotch Universities at all. I mentioned the general fact of the trend of Scotch opinion and the relations of Scotch Members with the Treasury. I look upon the Scotch 1958 Office as a go-between between the two. When the question of the transfer of the Scotch Education Department was brought up, the answer was that it is most important that the head of the Department should be close to the Treasury in order to bring pressure to bear on it to get more for Scotland. But he is prepared to sit comfortably on that bench and say, "I will not do a single thing more than I am bound to do, and the less I can do the better I am pleased." I feel sure that the Scottish Secretary has taken a completely erroneous view with regard to public opinion in Scotland on the education question. My hon. Friend has referred to the dissatisfaction which exists in Scottish educational circles as regards the administration of the Scottish Education Department. I am wrong in using the word dissatisfaction. It is seething discontent in every educational circle. High and low, every single educational expert of any standard in Scotland has some grievance against the Scotch Education Department. I am sorry we should have fallen on such bad times as regards the representation of Scottish views is this House, and as regards the representations that we think the Scottish Secretary ought to make as a Member of the Cabinet for the advancement of Scottish interests, and more especially when this question of devolution is in the air, I strongly hold that there is a great opportunity for the Secretary for Scotland to take up a special line for himself, and to insist upon the claims of Scotland being more prominently put forward than they are at present. What the Secretary for Scotland says on the platform is vastly different from what he says in this House. [An HON MEMBER: "You voted against the Government."] What does that matter? I mean to defend the vote I gave yesterday when I speak to-morrow. When the electors of Scotland have a chance of declaring their view on the conduct of the Secretary for Scotland they will take notice of the right hon. Gentleman's attitude in a way perhaps he will not like. He has to pass before the bar of public opinion, and unless he changes his position on this question he may find a rude awakening.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-one minutes after Eleven o'clock.