HC Deb 13 May 1915 vol 71 cc1897-956

Motion made, and Question proposed,

1. "That a sum, not exceeding £9,906,378 be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants-in-Aid."—[Note.—£5,575,000 has been voted on account.]

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)

I propose this evening to make some change in my usual practice, and to refer not so much to questions concerned with the routine work of the Board of Education, as to the way in which the War has influenced our work during the past nine months. I think that that will probably be more interesting to the Committee. I do not want the Committee to understand by that that I depreciate in any respect whatever the routine work of education, for in my opinion there newer was a time in our history when it was more important that close attention should be given to the routine work on which depends the education of the children who will form the nation of to-morrow.

I ought to explain to the Committee that my staff has been very much depleted owing to the War. I have lost 320 members, who have joined the Colours, and a very large number of them, I am glad to say, have received commissions. Deaths have already occurred, and we mourn the loss of some of our colleagues. The reduction in my staff prevents my being able to supply the Committee with many of the statistics which have been given in former years.

7.0 P.M.

I should like to refer to the three great museums under my charge. The Victoria and Albert Museum was thrown open to the public free on every day in the week from the month of June last. The result of the abolition of entrance fees was an immediate rise in the number of visitors. Although the outbreak of War makes comparison impossible, that experiment, as far as I can judge, has been thoroughly justified. One of the economies we have been able to effect at that museum is to suspend the expenditure amounting to £11,000 a year which we usually incur in improving the collections. When War broke out I was proposing to bring up to date the Bethnal Green museum, and to demonstrate to parents in the East End of London, by illustrations, specimens, and various exhibits, the importance of ventilation, sanitation, cleanliness, and the provision of suitable food and clothing for children. That expenditure has had to be deferred. We have had to postpone the erection of the new Geological Museum, which is to be a connecting link between the Natural History Museum and the new Science Museum in Exhibition Road. Unfortunately for science, a very large number of the exhibits still remain stored away in the cellars of Jermyn Street, and students are not able to use many of the 115,000 specimens which we possess in that institution. We have, however, not only done very valuable work in completing the six-inch survey in some important counties, but we have also been able to give very valuable information in connection with the camps which have been established in the country, enabling the Army authorities to provide troops with adequate supplies of water of good quality. We have also given information to the Belgian Government in regard to the water supplies available in the parts of the country which the Belgians still occupy in Flanders. In the matter of finance, anyone who looks at the Estimates will see that the increases have been very largely of an automatic character. Teachers' pensions is an item which I think accounts for the largest portion of the increase, but there is an increase also in Grants to the elementary schools, because we assumed the normal increase, in the average attendance. We think that during the period of the War, although there has been a great deal of dislocation in certain schools in the country, the local authorities ought not to be penalised, but should feel sure of the Grant on their schools. There is one increase to which I want to allude—an increase due to the additional feeding of children owing to the outbreak of the War. A great tribute of praise is due to the education authorities of this country who at the outbreak of the War were suddenly called upon to feed a very large number of school children, aid were able to multiply the number of meals provided fivefold. We are now feeding something like 70,000 children, which is double what we were feeding in our schools a year ago. Immediately after the outbreak of the War we were feeding in the elementary schools 200,000 children.

I am not going to make any excuse for alluding to another subject—the work which is being done by the schools for mothers. Nothing is more important in regard to the prevention of infantile mortality and the preservation of the health of the small children than that the mothers should be trained how to rear and bring up their children. Since I last spoke on these Estimates the Local Government Board has been enabled to help forward this work by Grants for maternity and child welfare. The Board of Education has been helping something like 151 schools for mothers. There was obviously some danger of these two Departments overlapping in their work. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board and I, therefore, have met, and we have decided that, briefly, all matters connected with institutions provided by a sanitary authority should be supported out of Grants by the Local Government Board, and all matters connected with schools, as defined in our regulations should be in the province of the Board of Education. In that way we believe a satisfactory working arrangement will be arrived at which will secure not only a proper bringing-up of the children, but due attention to health.

It is a platitude, I know, when I say that it is a waste of effort to try to educate children who are not physically fit. Our great object is to get children to the schools in a healthy condition. If we get them thus and maintain them in a healthy condition, depend upon it they will learn a great deal more, and there will be much less waste of public money than there has been in the past. The demand for women workers in many directions has produced also a demand for women who have babies or very small children in their homes. One of the great social dangers in the country has been that these children should not be properly provided for when their mothers were at work. By a system of crèches which have been supported by the Board of Education, and by Grants, we are doing a very good work. We have now seventy-seven institutions in the country. During the past year we have contributed something like £5,000 in Grants in helping to look after these tiny dots while their mothers were at work. I do not think the value of that kind of work can be easily overrated.

There have been automatic increases, but there has been another decrease in expenditure, and the main decrease in our expenditure for the year is the suspension of building Grants to training colleges.

The more I have studied the question the more I am impressed with this fact, that the more a man is educated the greater is his tendency to realise the importance of making sacrifices for his country in its present hour of need. The figures of those who have left to join the Colours are really more striking when you look at the number of individuals who have been training for the teaching profession, who have gone from the universities, and who have been in the teaching profession. Tribute has already been paid by the Prime Minister to Oxford and Cambridge on the very large percentage of undergraduates who have left those universities, placing them, no doubt, in a very difficult position, financially, during the period of the War. The financial condition is still worse with the provincial universities.

Although the percentage is not quite so large in these as in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, yet more than 50 per cent. of the students who normally would be at the universities have joined the Colours. London University has a fine record. Its Officers' Training Corps have found, in cadets and ex-cadets, 1,100 individuals, and 200 other students joined, making 1,300 from London University who have received commissions. Manchester has over 100 who have received commissions, and Newcastle 100. I think this loss of men will leave no disfiguring mark upon our universities. Death has already taken many of them, and will, unfortunately, continue to take others, and it is for us, and for the country, to do its best to repair that heavy loss. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is proposing by an emergency Grant to help the universities in their hour of need. Losing the fees from a large proportion of their students has placed them in a very difficult position, and consideration is being given by a Departmental Committee which will report to the Treasury, so as to enable the provincial universities to tide over the financial position into which the War has thrown them.


Does that include London University?


It includes London and all provincial universities other than Oxford and Cambridge. I have not much to say in regard to the Principality of Wales, but in connection with university work there it is noteworthy that all parties concerned are united in a real endeavour to organise their university education, and are now considering the whole matter. In the past months a Departmental Committee has been sitting to consider the best means of providing a National Medical School at Cardiff, which has been made possible by the munificence of Sir William James Thomas.

In regard to the training colleges, at the commencement of the War in one of the training colleges—I think I should name it, it is St. John's, London—there were seventy-six students who had completed their first year's training. Of these sixty-nine joined the Colours without continuing their second year's course. In another college fifty-one out of seventy joined the Colours. Our attitude as a Board has been to leave the student quite free to stay or go. Pressure to leave was not needed, I am glad to say, even if we had been minded to apply it. On the other hand, we placed no obstacle in the way of the students leaving the training colleges. We have arranged that, in the case of all students who have completed their first year's training course—although in ordinary times it would have been necessary for them to complete the two years—we shall provisionally recognise them as certificated teachers when they come back from the War—as we hope many of them will do—and, subject to a satisfactory report upon their work, after a reasonable interval that certificate will be confirmed.

Since I last addressed the Committee on my Estimates, the Board has seen its way to increase the Grant given to the training schools for domestic subjects. We think it is all-important that housewifery, cookery, and laundry work should all form part of the curriculum in these schools, and we have increased the Grants with a view to securing a uniform system of instruction in these most necessary subjects. Coming to our secondary schools, the work, I may say, goes on steadily increasing. Ten years ago we only contributed £163,000 in Grants to these schools; now we are proposing to contribute £730,000. It will be a satisfaction to those who are interested in education to be told that in the classes in our secondary schools receiving Government Grants there are on an average throughout all these schools one teacher for every fifteen students. A question on which the Labour party places great store is the number of free places in these schools. I may inform them that at the present time 35 per cent. of the students in these secondary schools receiving Government Grants are receiving free education.

Colonel YATE

May I ask, is there any condition attached?


In connection with a certain number of individuals going forward into the teaching profession they are under an obligation to carry through their course. If they obtain bursaries for a particular work, such as going on to the teaching profession, they will be under that obligation, but most of those going to our secondary schools have no obligation beyond in some cases an obligation to remain there a reasonable period of time.

Colonel YATE

Would it not be an advantage to have an obligation?


Yes, one of the things I should like to lay stress on is the importance of further extension in that respect.


May I point out that in my own county that obligation does exist?


I am glad to hear it. In a great many schools it certainly does not exist. The progress of improvement depends, I think, on five things—an earlier entry in the secondary school; the imposition of some test, so that those only of reasonable ability should go forward into these schools; an undertaking by the parents that the children shall attend the full course in the schools; a better system of scholarship, so that the ladder may be improved to enable more able children to go forward to the university; and more vocational courses to be attached to those schools. We have at the present moment eight of these secondary schools with engineering courses, which lead up to the technical institutions, and I think money can very well be spent by local authorities, assisted by the Government in vocational courses in many of our secondary schools. French teachers, to a very large extent, have been recalled for military purposes, and, perhaps, I ought to allude to the loss in one of our secondary schools of a very able teacher through a ruthless and wanton attack made by our enemies on Hartlepool. Over thirty-two of our secondary schools are being occupied by troops, or as hospitals. Of course, I make no complaint of the War Office calling upon the schools of the country when they require them for military purposes. I am very glad to say, however, we have been looking ahead, and my hon. Friend (Dr. Addison) has been recently round the country with a Committee, aided by War Office and Local Government Board representatives, with a view of seeing what places are most suited for the purpose of hospitals and of making provisional arrangements for suitable centres, and, in the event of more places being required, provision can be made in advance for the children dispossessed of their schools. I am very glad to say that local authorities have helped very much the work of that Committee. With regard to camp classes for the troops, at the beginning of the War I thought there would be considerable demand for the teaching of a certain number of subjects, especially French, ambulance, mapping, and other subjects of that kind in the camps of the country, and it may interest the House to know that West Sussex heads the list, and receives grants in connection with 1,250 hours occupied by troops in those classes. The West Riding, Kent, London, and Birmingham also had classes in connection with these subjects.


Has the local education authorities' attention been called to them?


Yes. I sent a circular at the beginning of the War to all local education authorities, pointing out to them that Grants would be paid in connection with subjects taught in the camps, but many of the men in camps require entertainment, rather than occupation of a more serious character, and, although, perhaps, it is not very relevant to my duties as President of the Board of Education, yet, in another capacity, I have catered a good deal for the entertainment of men in the camps as chairman of the Professional Classes Sub-Committee, assisted by money from the Prince of Wales' Fund, and I have been able to secure employment for a very large number of professional people, who otherwise would be starving, by enabling them to entertain the troops at the various camps from time to time.

There is one other subject which I wish to develop for a moment or two, and it is a subject that I know will interest many Members in the House, as well as many people in the country. The War has brought home to us that we have been far too dependent for very many processes and many materials upon the foreigner, and we have realised that it is essential, if we are going to maintain our position in the world, that we must make better use of our scientifically trained workers, that we must increase the number of those workers, we must endeavour to see that industry is closely associated with our scientific workers, and we must promote a proper system of encouragement of research workers, especially in our universities. The fault in the past, no doubt, has been partly due to the remissness on the part of the Government in failing to create careers for scientific men. It has also, I think, been due partly to the universities, who have not realised how important it is that pure science ought to be combined with applied science and both brought into close contact with manufacturing interests. I think it was also partly due to the fact that the manufacturers themselves have undervalued the importance of science in connection with their particular industries. It was partly due, too, to the fact that the ratepayers have been too niggardly in making provision in connection with their technical institutions and colleges.

I ought, perhaps, to give a few illustrations to the House in order to show that by expenditure in the first instance of a comparatively small sum of money, which ought to develop into very substantial sums of money in the future, much can be done by research workers, and by scientifically trained individuals in regard to many of those processes for which hitherto we have been dependent upon other countries. We relied upon Germany for hard porcelain tubes used in pyrometers which are required for measuring high temperature. On a supply of these pyrometers depends the manufacture of needles required for the sewing of boots and providing the footgear of our troops. I am glad to say that, owing to the research work that has taken place recently, we are now able to produce as good porcelain as that previously produced for this purpose in Germany, and we are able, therefore, to produce the necessary needles for this purpose. It may astonish the House when I tell them that, whereas four firms in Germany employ 1,000 chemists in connection with their dye works, in the whole of our industries there are only 1,500 chemists employed. There are in Germany over 3,000 students, even at the present time, so far as I can learn, studying research work in connection with their university life, whilst in this country I do not think we have more than 350 students engaged in such research work. Let me give another illustration of the success which may be secured by research work. Our successes over our enemy in aviation are very largely due to the investigations made into automatic stability by a young man who went through an elementary school, fought his way up to the Imperial College, and went through a course at the National Physical Laboratory, and invented and introduced the B.E. Biplane—at any rate, from his investigations the B.E. Biplane was developed. We have hitherto done very little to encourage these brilliant young men taking up a scientific career.


Do you know the name of that brilliant young man?


Bairstow. The average salary given to a junior teacher of science is, I am told, only about £150 a year. It is not to be expected that individuals are going to endeavour to enter a career which is so badly rewarded. Let me give the Committee just one other illustration of what research may do. The price of lyddite went up at the beginning of the War from 6d. to 5s., and owing to laboratory experiments conducted by Professor Green at Leeds he was able to reduce the cost to 1s. That was entirely attributable to the research work of one man. If those things can successfully be done in times of war, I know how many things can be done in times of peace. I have been associated myself with the production of a large number of by-products from coal, and it was even necessary to go to Germany for the bricks and plant in order to erect Bauer and Otto Hilgenstock retort ovens in this country. I satisfied myself that it is possible that these materials can be produced, and ought to be produced, at home, if only we had a sufficient number of research workers and trained men of science turning to practical value their scientific training.

I could go on and develop this subject. I see opposite a representative from Ireland who asked me a question in regard to technical optics, and there is a great deal of research to be done in this country with reference to that subject. A professor told me the other day that it had only just been found out why they were making so many failures. A greenish hue came into the glass they were producing, and in consequence they were unable to produce the necessary lenses. By research work it was found that this was due to barium oxide being contaminated with iron, and they had to go to another source in order to obtain the oxide free from this impurity. And so I might go on and give case after case where by research and a little expenditure on the scientific training of able men we would be able as a country to succeed just in the same way as the Germans have succeeded in recent years. My fear is that after the War we shall have to contend with a fiercer competition than we have had to contend with even in recent years, and it will be conducted by our enemy with less scrupulous methods. The Government agree with me that something ought to be done at once, and we must make more use of the workers in our country and prepare for an increased supply of them, and bring our universities and technical institutions into closer association with industry, and also bring our leaders of industry into closer association with skilled workers. Steps must be taken at once. Adequate supplies require prolonged endeavour. The task immediately before us may be advanced at once by the appointment of an Advisory Council on Industrial Research. I want a Committee of experts who will themselves be able to consult other expert committees working in different directions. They, in turn, must be associated with leaders of industry. We shall want advisers representing various industries in the country who not only possess certain knowledge in connection with pure science, but will be able to turn to the best account the knowledge they have acquired in the application of that knowledge to industry. We shall work in close co-operation with the Board of Trade who are seconding the efforts of my own board. Such a body as an Advisory Council of very distinguished men upon whom we shall rely for advice, ought to be at work, and I hope it will be at work within the next few weeks. I am now considering the names, although I am not in a position to announce them at the moment.

As soon as we get a Committee of that kind nominated they will at once begin their work. The solution of several problems will be placed before them in connection with the glass industry, the making of hard porcelain, technical optics; and it will be one of their duties to secure selected workers who have passed through graduated courses suitable for doing research work in laboratories in the solution of a certain number of definite problems. They will have to advise me as to how money should be immediately spent, and how it should be subsequently spent when we are able to obtain rather larger Grants from the Treasury than we shall have at our disposal during the current year. They will have to advise as to the way money should be spent in training and research work generally, and how money should be spent and distributed amongst specialised departments, such as the Imperial College of Science at South Kensington. What I am anxious to secure is the use of the best scientific brains in connection with this enomous problem which is of such vital importance to the country. I hope to place on the Estimates for the current year a sum between £25,000 and £30,000, but the demand for money for this work will enormously increase as time goes on, and I want to inform the House that whilst we are beginning with this comparatively small sum we think it will develop, and if the scheme is to succeed I believe it must depend upon State help in the years to come, and State help must steadily progress.

As I have been longer in my present post than any of my predecessors, I may be allowed to say that in my judgment two things are essential in the interests of this country if we are to maintain our position and succeed in the future and remain in the proud position, industrially and commercially, in which we are now situated. Firstly, that after the War, and even during the War, an effort should be made to retain longer at school those who are able to benefit by further education. Too many now leave school at the ages of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, and there is an enormous wastage of ability in the country owing to the non-education of the children after that age. Secondly, the nation should create careers for capable men of science. If we can secure these ends I believe we should maintain our position, and without them nothing but disappointment awaits us. Therefore, so far as I am able, I wish to appeal to all those men throughout the country who are devoting their lives to the cause of education to do what they can to encourage, not only the longer education of abler children in the secondary schools, but also to make the scheme which I have outlined here this evening very briefly a success in connection with training scientific workers who will be a real advantage to the industries of this country in years to come.


I think it is generally agreed that the Education Estimates should be discussed on their merits altogether apart from political considerations. The subject of education is too directly connected with the well-being of the people and the safety of our country to be made a matter of controversial discussion. There are special reasons why we should dismiss all party considerations from these Estimates that have been laid before us. One is that a political truce has been proclaimed, and the other is that in the interesting statement of the President of the Board of Education nothing bordering upon controversial matter has been introduced. I have no intention of running through the various matters which have been discussed in what I am quite certain everybody will regard as one of the most interesting speeches which a President of the Board of Education has ever presented to this House. To do that would occupy far more time than we have now at our disposal, and I am doubtful whether I can add very much to what the President has so ably placed before this Committee. I find it difficult to offer even friendly criticism on most of the subjects to which our attention has been directed. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the condition of education in relation to the present emergency. I am certain that many of his remarks will be read to-morrow in the newspapers with very great satisfaction. I was very pleased to hear from him that the Science and Art Museum at South Kensington has been making great progress. I regret that the funds at his disposal prevented him establishing a branch at Bethnal Green, where the best of opportunities would be afforded of making such a museum useful to the people in our East End schools.

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to our training colleges and to the decrease in the building grants to be made to-day. I was gratified to learn that it is the intention of the Board of Education to increase the grants of training colleges for domestic subjects, because, as the President has informed us, the teaching of those subjects is of the greatest consequence to the rising generation. I hope he will be able to make an increase of grant to the training colleges for instruction in handicrafts. As he is aware a Committee is now sitting at the Board of Education which is charged with the drawing up of a new and improved scheme for the training of teachers in handicraft subjects, and I hope this matter will receive the careful consideration of the President. The right hon. Gentleman made reference to the essential conditions for the success of our secondary schools. I agree with nearly every one of his remarks, but I hope that our secondary schools will continue to present that variety which has been one of the distinguishing features of secondary education in this country, and that as regards our secondary schools we shall not be too eager to imitate what is being done and what has been done in Germany, but always remember that in no department of education is it more important than in secondary education that the instruction shall be strictly conditioned according to the requirements of the people themselves. In nearly all the conditions that he has referred to I must own that I agree with him, but I do not wish to see vocational instruction introduced too generally into our secondary schools. Although it is desirable that vocational instruction should be introduced into some of our schools, do not let it be imagined that it should be introduced at the expense of classical, mathematical, and other varieties of a liberal education.

I must, of course, refer to the scheme for co-ordinating more successfully science with industry. I have no doubt whatever that the scheme will be welcomed by all scientific men in this country. I should not like it to be thought for one moment that our universities and our technical institutions have failed to turn out a sufficient number of scientifically trained men to be able to carry on research work in connection with our industries almost to the same extent as in other countries. Where we have to some extent, and to a large extent, failed in this country is in the appreciation by manufacturers and employers of the value and importance of such scientific training, and if the conclusions at which the President has arrived, and if the facts connected with this War will bring home to our manufacturers and employers the great advantage which they can obtain by liberally supporting scientific men in connection with their work, then the right hon. Gentleman will not have spoken this evening in vain.

In the scheme which has been briefly outlined by the President, and which, I need scarcely say, will require careful consideration before one can express any decided opinion as to its practicability or as to the method by which it can be best carried out, I would like to point out that what is most needed is co-ordination and organisation. There is nothing in which we have been more deficient in this country than in scientific organisation, and, if I may say so, in the, organisation of science, and I hope that the council he has proposed will diligently apply itself to the better organisation of scientific research. We have a great number of institutions doing excellent work, but the work of one often overlaps that of another. We want very carefully to see that each institution does that work which it is best fitted to do, and that manufacturers shall have no difficulty whatever in obtaining through any technical or scientific institution the particular class of scientific man which will be helpful in the industry in which they are employed. Take London, for instance. We have already the Imperial College of Science and Technology, on the organisation committee of which I was a member. We have also the Imperial Institute, in which a certain amount of research work is being done of a very high quality in connection with our colonies. We have also, not very far removed, the National Physical Laboratory, where research work is being done, but where more research work might be done if larger funds were available for the purpose. In Berlin there is what is called the Reichsanstalt. That is a research institute which combines part of the work of our Imperial Institute and the National Physical Laboratory, and that institute is placed in close juxtaposition with its Imperial Science and Technology, which is known as the Charlottenburg Technical University.

The President of the Board of Education has referred to the fact that it is very difficult to obtain men who will be attracted to the profession of technologists at a salary of £150 a year. I was sorry that he did not remember that the Government itself has advertised for very highly skilled technical chemists at Woolwich at that same salary. [An HON. MEMBER: "They start at £100 a year!"] I complained of that years ago, but I was told that there was quite a sufficient number of highly skilled chemists only too glad to accept the position at that small sum. I hope that the Government will be the first to take to heart the lesson which the right hon. Gentleman has given. There is only one other word I want to say at the present time. I heard with great satisfaction that it is proposed in the scheme to which the President referred that the Board of Trade shall be associated with the Board of Education. I attach great importance to that, because we do not want in this work merely theoretical scientific men. We want men who are imbued with the commercial spirit, and it is desirable that in any body having to direct technical instruction you should combine those who have an intimate knowledge of the trade requirements with those who at the same time are developing the scientific side of the instruction. Personally, in the thirty-five years during which I have been associated in, it may be, a feeble endeavour to bring science to bear upon industry, I have always been most careful to see that the commercial requirements of those engaged in the trade are carefully considered by those who have the task of organising the schemes of instruction. I am glad to see that the same policy is likely to be carried out by the President of the Board of Education acting in conjunction with the President of the Board of Trade. I have found very little to criticise in the President's address. I welcome very heartily the scheme which he has outlined, and I wish him and his endeavours the fullest possible success.


My right hon. Friend has referred to the unparalleled length of his tenure of office. We congratulate him upon that fact and also the House itself. He will remember very many years before he occupied that distinguished post sitting in this House on occasions like the present and listening to the very many and sore complaints brought by quite well-meaning Members against the condition of education in this country, and particularly against the condition of the public elementary schools. We may conclude from his speech to-night, I think, that in his view the condition of the public elementary schools does not need or deserve much criticism or even much encouragement at the present moment. When in the past I have listened to these well-meaning attacks, but very often unfair attacks, I have sometimes felt hurt and often even irritated at the way in which Members of this House, speaking in the same frame of mind as correspondents of newspapers and writers in newspapers outside the House, have placed before the country the view that the money spent on public elementary education in this country was being wasted, and that until radical changes and wholesale restriction had taken place no good thing was to be hoped as the result of what was going on. I think that the Friends and champions of the public elementary schools all these years past have some cause to point to the great movements in the nation during the past few months and to the great efforts, the great self-control, the great manifestation of patriotism, and much volunteering on the part of those hundreds of thousands and millions who were formerly in the public elementary schools, and who are now wearing the King's uniform. If the truth is to be known by its fruit, then I think that the fruit of the public elementary school in England is a far more desirable fruit than that which is grown upon the tree of the primary school in Germany. I am glad to think that in the future we shall cease to hear so much as we have done in the past about the extraordinary and almost supernatural fruits of the German system of education.

8.0 P.M.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman even to-night attached more importance to the highly technical education which has been procurable in Germany under the German system of education than was just. I am not an authority upon this matter like the hon. Member who last addressed the Committee, but the impression I have been able to form after years of study has been that it is probable that during the last twenty or twenty-five years as many capable men of science, highly-skilled chemists and physicists, have been produced by the educational system of this country as has been produced in Germany. They have not all been dull professors, because dull professors, thank Heaven, are not so numerous in this country as across the other side of the North Sea. My impression is that probably in number and certainly in quality, even our somewhat unorganised and unco-ordinated British system has produced quite sufficient men to provide the industries of this country with sufficient guides, leaders, and captains. The fault has been not with them, or with the schools, colleges, and universities, but, no doubt, with the manufacturers and employers of this country, who have been blind to the opportunities which this material has presented to their hands. Even now, when my right hon. Friend has created his excellent Advisory Committee, and has used his new Grant and has developed further this admirable attempt on the part of the Government to provide for what may happen with regard to industry after the War, little will be the result so long as it is rooted in the minds of employers and capitalists that rule of thumb is better than rule of brain. I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that he might consider, as a development of what he has submitted to-night, the running of this great concern which he has in view on a commercial basis, so that if manufacturers and capitalists will not take up this work, the State itself should take it up, and provide and sell to the manufacturers the results of researches which otherwise they would not obtain.

I want to refer to only two details with regard to public elementary schools. I believe they are in a very good way. Of course, in a time like this it is necessary to subordinate claims for the spending of more money on the schools to other demands upon the nation. I am far from wishing to criticise or complain, but I would beg the right hon. Gentleman to give more attention than he has hitherto done to two points. He has spoken of the commandeering of schools for use as hospitals. I would ask if the authorities have taken into consideration the possibility of commandeering for that purpose other large suitable and airy buildings. I do not go so far as to suggest that churches should be taken for this purpose, but I would suggest that Sunday schools, church institutes, and places of that kind, would be quite as suitable for hospital purposes and even more so than public elementary schools. I might go so far as to include chapels, for it does often happen that there are a number of chapels in immediate contiguity, each of which is only half filled, and some of these might be closed on the Sunday and the congregations transferred to other chapels. I would not dare to suggest that with regard to churches, but I do lay stress on the point that in connection with both churches and chapels there are Sunday schools, church institutes, lecture, and parish halls, and places of that sort, which surely are better fitted for these hospital purposes in a time of stress than are the day schools of the country.

With regard to the second point on which I wished to touch, I am aware that the right hon Gentleman has, with wisdom and discretion, so far as he possibly could under the circumstances, dealt with the persistent and almost unanswerable demand at this time for the employment of child labour in agriculture. I know the difficulty which faces the Board of Education whenever an attempt is made to limit or even diminish the number of children allowed to leave school when they ought to be there, in order to work on the farm. We want to be reasonable. We do not want to exaggerate in dealing with matters of this kind, but I feel that even yet something more might be done to shift this burden of agriculture from the shoulders of children to those of women. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will also give sympathetic consideration to that point. I congratulate him on his long tenure of office, and on the nature of the scheme he has submitted to the Committee.


It is always a pleasure to listen to the President of the Board of Education, and I think that pleasure has been greatly enhanced this evening by the fact that we have had an intensely practical speech from a practical man. The last speaker seemed to be a little perturbed because the subject of elementary education had occupied so small a portion of the address of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think he need be uneasy on that account, because the mere fact the right hon. Gentleman did not consider it necessary to refer at any length to that question shows that its condition is satisfactory. So far as that class of education is concerned, I think it bears favourable—intensely favourable—comparison with anything made in Germany. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the duration of school life in secondary schools. That is a matter which has engaged the attention of my own committee to a very large extent, and we put an obligation on parents of our children that if they come in at twelve years of age they shall stay at the school until they are fifteen, while if they come in under twelve they are bound to stay until they are fourteen. I want the Committee to realise that if a child is only going to be retained in a secondary school for a couple of years, it would be infinitely better for the child, for the country, and for the taxpayers, for it to remain in the elementary school. I am also of opinion that in order to get the full advantage of secondary education it is necessary to start early, and that on no account should children go from an elementary day school to a secondary school after twelve years of age. I was glad to hear the President speak of the advantage of technical education. I have been preaching from that text for the last thirty five years throughout England and Wales, and during that period I am bound to admit I have seen very great changes. It is perfectly true that one of the great reasons why our technical education has not been more highly developed has been that such a large section of the population has been opposed to it. I am glad to say that that spirit is disappearing, and that there are now more day students in our technical colleges. Still there is a very great amount of leeway to be made up before we can say that, as a nation, we are sufficiently technically educated.

I wish to express to the Board the thanks of the Education Committee of the County Councils Association for the desire they have shown in recent years to obtain the views of the local education authorities before promulgating new regulations. The most important during the past year was Circular 849, which dealt with examinations in secondary schools, and this was received with very great approval throughout the country. My own committee received it with general approval, with the provisos (1) that the Board should take steps to arrange that the new examinations should give exemption from those already in existence, and (2) that the entire cost of conducting the examinations should be met by the Government. With regard to the first point, the object was to prevent a multiplicity of examinations. Those who have to do with the conduct of secondary schools know that the many examinations, and the many preparations for examinations which are going on at one and the same time, are a curse not only to the scholar, but to the teacher, and therefore the object of the circular was to do away with the multiplicity of examinations. I only hope that the Board of Education will institute one or at the most two examinations which shall, in the first place, dispense with matriculation, and, in the second place, shall be an entrance examination to the professions.

I wish to touch on one other question which has already been dealt with to some extent by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), and also by the Prime Minister, and that is with regard to borrowing powers. My own committee in 1911–12 made an arrangement with the Board of Education to spend a sum of £50,000 per annum for a period of seven years. When bad times came—that is to say when the War broke out—we felt there was a very great necessity for frugality and economy, and we therefore approached the Board of Education and asked them to suspend our building programme. I am pleased to say that they met our wishes, but there are one or two outstanding cases of schools, on both the elementary and secondary side of our education, in regard to which we would ask the intercession of the Board of Education with the Treasury. These are cases where tenders have already been made, and where the schools are in various stages of erection. If the Treasury refuses to allow us to borrow money in order to complete these schools, we shall undoubtedly have to compensate the contractors. In one case which I have in my mind at the moment, all the materials necessary for the building of the school, which will cost £12,000, have already been purchased by the contractor, although the money for the building of the school has not yet been borrowed. Sanction has, however, been obtained from the Board of Education. Another matter of great importance is that the buildings will have to be left in an unfinished condition, and one can imagine the condition of a building of which only the foundations have been put in, or which has reached the first storey, if the continued erection is to be delayed until the expiration of the War or six months after. Perhaps infinitely more important is a commercial point. I am strongly of opinion, whatever the cost of the building materials may be to-day, they will be infinitely higher when the War is over, and therefore we should be penny wise and pound foolish in refusing to allow the erection of schools to go on where tenders have already been accepted and the buildings commenced. I am sure all local education authorities will try to be as economical as possible, and I for one shall be an intensely disappointed man if on the 31st March, 1916, I do not show a very large surplus on my estimate.

There is one other matter which I wish to mention, and that is the question of medical inspection. I notice that in the Vote now before this Committee there is an increase of £145,000 on that item. It is one of the few cases in which the estimate shows an increase. I do not think the money of this country was ever better spent than on medical inspection. It is probably one of the most valuable reforms which has ever been introduced. I should like to give the House some of the results which have been obtained in my county by medical inspection. For instance, with regard to clothing, I am told by my medical director that on the whole the children are now satisfactorily clothed. The chief complaint was usually of the unsuitability rather than insufficiency, many of the children being, in fact, over-clothed. The individual examination of the children by the nurses, who point out to the parents the various faults, is rapidly effecting an improvement. Then, again, practical instruction is being given in some of our schools in infant care and management. The classes given under the higher education committee by the lady members of the school medical staff to the teachers has greatly improved the teaching of this subject, and the effect which teaching of this kind will have in the future upbringing of children is obvious. We find with regard to verminous children that although the percentage in the first year of inspection was thirty-five of "entrants" and "leavers," now it is only twelve, although the standard of inspection has to become very stringent. The care of delicate children is perhaps even more important. The advice of medical inspectors and nurses to mothers in respect to feeding and hours of sleep have much improved the condition of these children. In some instances where delicate children have been removed from old schools and placed in new schools, the improvement has been very marked. As to under-nourished children, the number of children who actually suffer from lack of food in the county area is very small, in fact, it is exceedingly small. It has been observed by the medical staff, district clerks, teachers, and others, that when children have been fed— that is, during the coal strike and during the War—they have greatly improved in appearance and ability to do school work. This points to the fact that many children, although not suffering from lack of food, are unsuitably fed. The report goes on to prescribe the remedy, and says that cooking lessons and the lessons on domestic economy given in the schools ought to do much to remedy this condition of affairs. Speaking of backward children, it says that many children who were considered by their teachers to be mentally defective or backward, were so backward because they suffered from physical defects such as adenoids, bad vision, and defective hearing, and that appropriate medical treatment has done much in these instances.

It has been a very expensive matter, but I do not think that the money of either the country or the county has been better spent in any branch of education than in the medical inspection of school children. I should, however, like to say that we, in common with all other education authorities, are suffering from the War. I am very much afraid that medical inspection will have to stop, or be greatly curtailed. In my county we have a permanent staff of thirteen doctors, of whom ten have gone to the War. Three of them are serving under the Serbian Government. Two of the remainder are going, which will leave us with one. We have twenty-six nurses; eighteen have gone, and we expect two to go almost any day; while out of the seven clerks in this particular department, five of whom are eligible to go, no less than four have gone. I do not see what we can do in the matter, because it is absolutely impossible to engage fresh doctors. I have spoken of the very great expense of this department, and I hope that when the Board come to allocate their Grants for medical inspection they will live up, as far as they possibly can, to the words contained in the Circular No. 1899, which says:— The Board on their part will gladly render authorities any assistance in their power; and in determining the rate of Grant they will give full consideration to the difficulties in which authorities have been placed, and will continue to pay Grant at the present rate in relation to expenditure in all cases where the arrangements made are in their opinion reasonably satisfactory, regard being had to all the circumstances. I have only to thank the President and the staff of the Board of Education for their unfailing courtesy and tact towards education authorities during the past year.


We have had a very clear statement of policy from the President of the Board of Education. From that statement it can be gathered that the right hon. Gentleman has a very high conception of his duties and obligations. I can quite understand that at the present moment he is working under very difficult conditions; therefore the criticisms which might be forthcoming in more normal times are not likely to be forthcoming to-night. We know that in many directions there will be retrenchment, or what the Prime Minister described this afternoon as a "slowing-down" policy. All I wish to say on that point is that the "slowing-down" policy ought not to be carried to the extent of starving education or hurting the future of the children of this country. I believe that would be bad economy, just as it would be unwise economy on the part of a farmer to restrict the quantity or the quality of the seeds he is going to use on his land. Strong children will be required for the rebuilding of the State. Therefore, I was glad to hear from the President of the Board of Education what is being done in the matter of child feeding and medical inspection and treatment, all of which are exceedingly important. We all agree that it is no good to speak of training a child's mind unless at the same time we attend to its bodily ailments and build up its bodily strength. The President stated that 35 per cent. of those now attending secondary schools are able to obtain free education. That is a policy for which these benches stand, and we want to see it developed to the fullest possible extent. We believe, in the first place, that the basis of all education is the elementary school, which ought to be well equipped in every respect. Side by side with that we stand for the principle of equality of educational opportunity among the children of the land, so that as far as possible a child should be able to develop its best gifts. So long as that policy is pursued, it will certainly have the support of Members in all parts of the House.

Perhaps the most important matter raised by the President to-night was that of establishing an Advisory Council to deal with matters relating to science and industry, and to bring science into closer touch with industry. That is a very important statement. Personally, I believe that it is along these progressive lines, and not by adopting reactionary policies that the nation is going to hold its own in regard to industry and trade. We have not in the past spent anything like the amount of money we should have spent in regard to scientific research and technical training. We ought to equip ourselves to the fullest extent along these lines, and it is by doing so rather than by adopting backward policies that we are going to make headway in the future. You ought to try to bring science and industry into closer touch with each other and to make science the great servant of industry, to make it a more practical matter rather than merely be taken up with abstract questions, and you ought to avail yourselves to the fullest extent of the practical knowledge and experience of the working people who are now employed in the factories, in the mills, in the workshops, and so on, and I believe in regard to that, that your Advisory Committee ought to have representatives of labour so as to show that you are going to bring the practical knowledge and experience of the workpeople into account in this matter, and I believe it will be important from the standpoint of the success and welfare of your scheme.

The President of the Board of Education said it was an unwise policy to have the children leaving school too early, and, therefore, we want to watch very narrowly all questions which allow exemption of children of school age. Since we cannot re-open the whole question, we ought to have from time to time returns giving the children of school age exempted, say, in order to go into agricultural labour, and we ought to have the actual number of children exempted by way of examination or by the number of attendances, and so on; because it is very desirable that there should be no permanent lowering of our educational standard. We should do everything in our power to guard against that, and if we have to give way on a point here or a point there in face of grave national crisis that ought not to be taken as involving any permanent lowering of the educational life of this country. From the whole standpoint of the future and from the standpoint of the nation holding its own in the future, it would be very bad policy if we adopted that point of view. Therefore, I want to ask this question in regard to the children who have been released from school to go into the fields. What is going to happen to them? Is their lost school time going to be made good when the opportunity comes to make it good, or is the lost school time to be a permanent thing? Are they going back to the schools later on, or is the time they have lost to be permanently lost so far as education is concerned? I feel, without wishing to enter into controversial matters, that it sometimes happens with regard to some of the rural educational authorities that they are too much controlled by the very people whose economic interests may be also involved in this question of child labour, and that there may sometimes be a clash with regard to the educational advantages of the child and the economic interests of the farming people. I believe, in so far as there is a problem, it is not a problem that the War has created, though the War may have aggravated it. The problem has been brought about by long years of neglect. I will not place the responsibility for that neglect. It may have to be shared by farmers, or landowners, or local authorities, or by the nation. But we know that long before the War came there was a very terrible driving away of the labourers from the country districts, and that the country districts have been depopulated year after year, and this was in large measure due to the alarming shortage of rural cottages, so that if a labourer wanted to marry he had to go away, and also that wages have been so low and very often the future of the labourer and his outlook and hope of independence have been so restricted that he has been driven away from the land in order to take his chance elsewhere, and that has all contributed to the present problem. After the War, that problem may still present itself in a new way, because, at any rate, some of the wives of those who have enlisted have enjoyed a far higher standard of living since their husbands went away than they did under normal circumstances, and they have had 25s. and more in place of the 14s. or 15s. that they got previously, with a husband to maintain as well, and it is very doubtful indeed if, under these circumstances, the labourers are going to return to the old conditions of life. I think there is a problem in this respect and I believe that if we are going to get rid of child labour in the country, the farmer must at the same time take in hand the improvement of the standard of life of the agricultural labourer.

I want to put two other points. Does the Board of Education accept any responsibility towards the children who are exempted during school life? Do they accept any responsibility towards the suitability of occupation that these children are going into? Do they accept any test as to the conditions under which the child is going to work? From the standpoint of the child itself that is a very important matter, and I think the Board of Education has a responsibility in that connection. I want to make quite sure that this demand for the labour of children of school years is not spreading beyond the country into some of the industrial undertakings as well. At a meeting of retail and wholesale traders at Stockport the other day, a resolution was passed that the boys and girls ought to be exempted from school in order to go into ordinary industry and commerce. I think that is a very dangerous development and one that all those who are concerned in the welfare of the child ought to watch very narrowly indeed and enter a protest against. It is highly important that as far as possible the educational standard of the country should be maintained, and I believe that is not only good in the present but is good from the standpoint of the future of our country.


I beg to call attention in the first place to the audience, fit though few, which we have to-night to listen to what I regard as perhaps the most vital of all questions of public life, namely, that of education. The subject is so vast that it would be impossible to deal with all its aspects in a volume; yet it seems to me that whenever one touches on education, one is at the same time dealing with those problems which lie at the very source of a nation's life. A discourse on education is really also indirectly a discourse on the decline and fall of Empires. I had an Amendment down to reduce the salary of the President of the Board, but my grievance with him is perhaps not so much that his salary is too large as that it is not large enough. That is to say, irrespective of the immediate holder of that position of whom we all entertain a high opinion, I think the status of the President of the Board of Education should be so high that he is co-equal with any other Member of the Cabinet and his office should be regarded as one of the most important. Even this very War in which we are engaged has its deep roots in questions of education, for I am convinced that, whatever we think of the material aspects of Germany, we really have in her history one of the most extraordinary examples in the whole history of the world, of a nation gradually rising to great material power on a foundation of high scientific education. The rise of Germany does not date as some have said, merely from the great victories of 1870, but from a much earlier epoch when a German with a less salary than the then President of the Board of Education held that office for only two years, and yet within those two years left such a stamp on the education of Germany that it has remained ever since, and has been the real source of the education of the nation—Wilhelm von Humboldt.

Let us consider now one of the questions referred to by the President of the Board of Education to-night, technical education. When we speak of technical education in this country we are too apt to think of trifling details, such as wood carving and filigree works, or such as crewel-work or crocheting impossible parrots on the background of some fancy cloth. In Germany technical education has a very different and a much higher meaning, and having had the advantage of studying in the University of Berlin myself, I can say that one of the most abiding impressions of my whole life was the extraordinary revelation I had there, not merely of the devotion to science itself, but of the manner in which that widened out the whole horizon and prospect of the nation's view, and the way in which science was seen to be the vital influence in great enterprises and wonderful industries. I would not labour this question to-night, but those who have leisure might refer to an article by Sir William Ramsay, first published in "Nature" in November, 1914, but to which my attention was called in the French paper "La Revue Scientifique." The French recognise the value of that article, and in France I think it got wider publicity than in this country. Sir William Ramsay analyses the causes of the greatness of Germany in the industrial world, and he finds several very interesting points which he tabulates. The first is that in a great German industry the board of directors are not a set of ornamental magnates with a peer thrown in to give respectability or publicity, but are a board of specialists on that subject which is the basis of the industry, keen and hard-working men. Secondly, that there is another agency definitely appointed with the definite active functions to watch out for new inventions in other countries. I could enter into this question very deeply, and I could show that right throughout the range of industry there are cases where the real central idea of that industry has not originated in Germany, but in France, England, or America. I believe if I were to ask which is the nation most fertile in ideas and most inventive, from my own brief experience I would be inclined to place the French in inventive genius, above even the Americans. The Germans are always looking out and asking the question, "In what way can we utilise new inventions for the benefit of our own industry?" That forms No. 2 of the points of Sir William Ramsay.

The third is that there is another agency always asking the question as to the cheaper production of the material, not in a passive way, but in an active way; in making inquiries and making voyages to other countries, examining what is done there and exploiting the brains of other men, often covering up the source. That is what the Germans call war. Then comes in the question of protection by the Government. There is a point where the Government could actively intervene to foster industry. Another point not less important is the protection of patents. In many cases Germans have gone so far as to steal the patent from other countries and protect themselves by patents from the other country recovering its ideas. Then there is the propaganda of the excellence of their own products, sending men throughout the world, speaking many languages, active missionaries of the active progress and greatness of Germany. I will cite several industries. The German spirit of organisation is so great that in the most unexpected fields it is exhibited. I remember one of the most prominent mathematicians, Monsieur Picard, of the Institute, who said that though perhaps there had been great names in the history of French mathematics equal to those of the Germans, such as M. Poincaré, who I am proud to have called my friend, who recently died; yet the Germans had pushed their organisation so far that even in that field, so abstruse, they had perfected an organisation for that study.

Take the question of aniline dyes, of which we have heard so much, and which has been the subject of consideration in this House. It is always said in this House, and in the public prints and textbooks, that the story of aniline dyes is that a certain British chemist. Dr. Perkin, discovered and invented a new dye and that was stolen by the Germans. The matter does not rest in such a passive way at all. Perkin was not, I believe, the first man to produce coloured material from the by-products of coal tar. That was done by Runge some years before. In 1856 Perkin produced his first aniline dye, mauve, and that was considered a great achievement in this country. Already the Germans were beginning that extraordinary organisation of which they are the masters. They seized hold of this, saw its possibilities, and set to work in all the laboratories of that great kingdom, particularly Prussia, and soon produced a whole succession of aniline dyes. They opened up new possibilities, and in this way founded their industry in a perfectly legitimate manner. So that the lack in this country was first a want of appreciation of the value of that discovery, and then the want of active organisation to make use of the discovery when found.

Or take, again, the case of glass, also raised by the President of the Board of Education. The manufacture of glass, of course, has gone on from time immemorial. As a matter of fact, one of the oldest glass manufacturies in the world was in what at that time was a Roman colony, Cologne. The most interesting development of the glass industry, however, was, perhaps, the manufacture of optical glass. It arose in this way: A German physicist of great ability, Abbe, noticed that a great deal of the finest microscopical work was robbed of its value by the difficulty of obtaining good optical glass, and so he turned directly away from his own study, sacrificed himself in a certain measure—that is to say sacrificed his scientific ambitions—upon the altar of the industry of the Fatherland, and devoted his great talents to the study of glass in itself. Being a man of scientific endowment, he speedily discovered what those who had been engaged in the industry before without scientific knowledge might not have discovered in a hundred years in reference to the manufacture of glass. Then came another point which has been raised earlier in the Debate. After having reached a certain point, he found that it would be difficult for him to proceed without being sustained financially. He then appealed to the State. The Gorman State was intelligent enough to foster his researches in every possible way, to pay him not merely for his chemical research, but for his endeavour to build up a great industry. So there you have a striking example of the alliance of science with industry, and of State aid supporting both, one which we might very well take to heart. The result was the building up of an industry which imposed itself upon the whole world, and is one of the legitimate glories of Germany to-day. Every medical student who wishes to do his work well is forced to buy a German microscope.

Compare that with the condition of things in this country. I have come down to this House myself in those days when I was more hopeful and I had a real respect for the Government, and I have pleaded for £10,000 for great research work, research work which would have enabled one of the very few men in this country who stand out in the eyes of the whole world as a great figure in modern science to do most useful work, and I was received with a certain polite indifference and shunted off. I say that, so far from asking £10,000 for research work, I should have been entitled to ask for £10,000,000—that is to say, if I could ask with sufficient authority—to stimulate in every possible direction the great industries of this country. I go so far as to say that eventually the whole civilisation of this world, and not merely of England itself, must turn on the axis of science, and as we advance we must give proportionately greater and greater importance to this great development of scientific life. When I was a student some years ago of some of these questions, of which I have only given one or two examples out of hundreds which I could expound to the House, I made this extraordinary discovery, that in tracing out the development of science I was really in my own mind proceeding with the development of Humboldt's cosmos. That is to say that science is the roof of civilisation, and our civilisation is superior to that of the Greeks only in one particular, and that one particular is the advance in positive science. As a result of the advance of positive science our modern civilisation has reached that great expansion which we now recognise.

Then the President spoke about the number of chemists in this country, and said that the number of research students in chemistry is only 350, and yet this country is competing in the commercial world with Germany! I have looked into the organisation in Germany, and I find this astonishing fact: That, in the great chemical works in Germany, for every fifteen men employed in any category whatever there is one highly trained specialist and chemist, and that this industry is so important that there is one highly trained specialist in chemistry for every forty-five employés in any category, right throughout the whole range of industry. When we reach facts like these, are we astonished at the pacific invasion of Germany in every country in the world which, had they been sage enough, would in fifty years have given them a mastery of the world without the cruel and brutal and abominable war which has caused such suffering? But knowing the enormous disparity between one trained chemist for every forty five employés in all industries, and a total of 350 research students in this country, how are these defects to be remedied? Partly by giving encouragement to students of science. That is important, but it is not all. I asked a question in this House about the pay of students of chemistry. I find that the War Office itself, which is advertising for students of chemistry, some of them men with degrees from Oxford, all of them required to do analytical work of a really very difficult kind, such as, after a man obtains his degree in chemistry, would require some special training for at least six months to do the work with the requisite degree of fineness, offered to these men a salary of—£1,000! There would be nothing preposterous in that. Some of these men are quite qualified to become professors in the great capitals in the Dominions. Was it £500? It was £100. With what conditions attached? Those men technically were placed on the same footing as ordinary workmen, and they could have been required, had the regulation been enforced, to join in a queue every Saturday to take their £2 at the pay office.

To-day an advance has been notified by the Under-Secretary for War. They are paid £150. Even that is hardly enough to stimulate men to follow in the path of scientific research. I do not believe that any man who has the true scientific spirit—I appeal to my hon. Friend to back me up there—is ever attracted by the mere sake of gain. There is something of the scientific spirit which is almost incompatible with making money. I suppose that my hon. Friend (Dr. Addison) is a poor man, because I know that he has the scientific spirit. But, nevertheless, in dealing with the nation at large, and not with individuals, there you find the advantage of directing the energies of men into certain definite channels. I believe that what is at the root of the difficulty of obtaining great experts in sufficient number is that science is not sufficiently considered even in a social way. I believe that it is the great ambition of the man who becomes an eminent scientist not to figure before his fellow scientists as having done great original work but by continually labouring at this mechanician's work after a while to attract the attention of the authorities and have a knighthood dubbed upon him, and get into the great social world of London upon a social equality with the manager of a music-hall When I read the lives of the great workers of the past I feel indignation even now. Take, for instance, the record of Faraday The great man, who stands out among the few whose names will be remembered for a thousand years, even after the records of our own Parliament have passed away, as one of the great pioneers of human civilisation; toiled all his life at the stipend of the valet of a peer, and that, remember, in a country where a man's social status and his work, as he calls it, is judged very largely from the amount of salary that he earns.

Before I sit down I would like to speak on the subject of the Universities. The two great Universities may pride themselves upon the record which the President has given of their activity in military service at the present time. Yet, apart from that, and apart from a few great names, such as Sir J. J. Thompson, Sir William Ramsay, and others, the record of the great Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the fields of science and literature is disgraceful, so disgraceful, indeed, that one is forced to ask the question, what is wrong in the whole spirit and manner of the education of these great educational centres—centres which have an influence extending far beyond mere technical education, a great social and great spiritual influence, if I may use that word, which has become rather fashionable. I have asked men who have gone through the curriculum of Oxford, who have carefully acquired the Oxford manner, even to the extent of contempt of ordinary mortals like some of ourselves, about university life, and they have told me that, after all, a senior wrangler at Cambridge, or a first classic of Oxford, was not thought very much of at those universities, but that the gods of the place were the cricketers and the rowing men. I should be sorry to say a word in depreciation of sport, to which I have devoted a great deal of time and zeal, but these are toys, and after all, outside adornments. In many senses this education, university education, is false. Under it men may obtain high degrees and reach high places in the State, but the test of all this comes in the shock with other nations, who may have a saner and broader view of education. When this War is terminated it will require heart searchings by the leaders of education to find out what is false in the education of our great universities, with their toys, with their great mills of literature, turning out, what?

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Can any man name any great writer, any great scientist, any great idealist, who is a direct product of our universities? Possibly there are eminent scientists and eminent literary teachers in our universities at the present time, but that is a very different matter, and looking at the record of men who have made a great mark in the history of civilisation, such as Faraday, Darwin, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, Sir William Hamilton, the author of Quaternions, and others, I find that these men were often rebellious to the teaching of the university, were little considered in the universities themselves, that some of them left without having obtained a degree; and when they make reference to the works of others, by whose thoughts they have been helped to develop their own, they have nearly always gone to France and Germany. In France and Germany great thinkers almost all come direct from the universities, and one can trace a line of descendants, one might say spiritual descendants, from some great teacher or some great man who is a direct product of the universities. But here men who stand out for originality of work are hardly ever men who owe their qualities and reputation and scientific development to the universities. Therefore, I say you have to consider what is there in this teaching which is false in our universities. To disparage German intellect is a great mistake, but the universities are living in the cloud and mist of Kant's reasoning and transcendental philosophy, obscuring their intellects to such an extent that it is easier to acquire by superficial dissertations on Kant or Fichte, or by a translation of Schopenhauer rather than by great, valid, original work. I have turned deliberately, as some of the greatest German thinkers have done, from those belated and moribund works, to strike out into some new path of work founded on the rational lines of psychology and philosophy.

There will be a revolution when the War is over; a peaceful revolution, if you will, which will be felt right throughout the world, enlarging our education particularly in regard to our technical schools. We do not want the history of the world in text-books given to children at their most susceptible age, which divide history into reigns of kings and queens, most of them utterly worthless as if the whole philosophy of the world turned on the sanguinary and wretched and often unintelligible accounts of wars and battles. I hope the time will come when we shall have a clearer and saner view of the whole scope and importance of education. It will be more important for the child to know the date at which Oersted discovered the reaction between electricity and magnetism than even to know the date of the battle of Waterloo. There is in science a real spiritual influence—that is to say, the most alluring and fascinating of all the problems which can attract the mind in the gradual unfolding of the meaning of this world itself in which we live. I would like the President of the Board of Education to take his courage in his hands as did Wilhelm von Humboldt in other days; and if he feels himself not strong enough to do this work solus, let him call in the aid of those enthusiastic in the development of science, and the help of those committees of which he has spoken, to carry out their recommendations, not in the half-hearted way in which matters have sometimes been presented in this House, but with something like the missionary zeal of a new evangel. I am certain that when this War is over that if the education of this country remains in the condition in which it now is, you may bolster up your military power, you may build "Dreadnought" after "Dreadnought," but this country will sink. But if this country is to save itself, to regenerate itself, and to proceed on a new path of high development, then the most vital of all problems is that of education.


I am sure the Committee must feel greatly indebted to the hon. Member for his very interesting and enthusiastic speech. Personally, I am very glad that I have foregone dinner in order to enjoy a feast of rhetoric and scientific knowledge. I must at the outset call attention to the very pleasant contrast which has been afforded by this Debate to the Debate which preceded it. On the preceding Vote we had various Members I am sorry to say on both sides, uniting to stop education, or certainly to thwart and hinder the progress of education in the elementary schools. On this Vote we have had a chorus of approval in favour of greatly increased expenditure on scientific education. I wish to join in that chorus. You cannot have a nation able to benefit by the scientific research and technical instruction and the various facilities for scientific advance which have been foreshadowed to-night unless you have a good foundation in elementary education. If you begin on the same night to cut and curtail elementary education, you are doing an evil turn to advanced research in scientific education. I wish very heartily to congratulate the representatives of the Board of Education upon having shown what is to my mind the first evidence we have had that statesmanlike foresight exists on the Treasury Bench at the present time. We have had plenty of energetic pushing on of the War, but in grasping the issues of what are to come after, and to prepare for the inevitable changes and difficulties and problems which will immediately arise at the end of the War, this is the first inkling we have had that those considerations are present to the mind of the Government. I congratulate the President of the Board of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education on the scheme they have put forward. I from time to time called attention, by means of questions and in other ways, to our great deficiency in scientific and technical education, especially with regard to research. Anybody who knows anything about Germany knows the enormous amount of money and the great numbers of men of the highest ability and training and standing engaged in purely scientific research and inquiry.

Everybody who thinks of it and who studies the question must know that Germany's position in the world to-day is due not to the real genius of the people, so much as to organisation combined with education and especially scientific education. I am very pleased that at this time there is an opportunity for an educational advance. I congratulate the Members on the Treasury Bench upon their courage and persistence, for I believe it must have needed something of that kind to get this scheme through the Cabinet. I congratulate them on the prospect of having an early Supplementary Estimate. It is true it is only £25,000. I think it ought to be ten times as much, but I have no doubt it is an estimate that will grow. I should like to recall to the Members of the Committee the historical references, to my mind of great significance, which we had from the hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. Lynch). It was in the year 1809, only two years after the Peace of Tilsit, that Prussia started the University of Berlin. Prussia had been robbed of half its territory by the Peace of Tilsit, which also imposed upon it an enormous indemnity. It had also to support a huge French army of occupation until the indemnity was paid. Yet in that very time Stein and Wilhelm von Humboldt founded the University of Berlin, which has become for its equipment and influence in scientific matters by far the greatest university in the world. They also established at the same time, when the taxes were simply overwhelmingly crushing, the elementary school system of Prussia, which remains to the present day. I say that a nation that could so appreciate in its hour of ruin the value of education is a lesson to us which we ought to take to heart. I feel not only pleased with but proud of the President of the Board of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board that at this time they realise that an educational advance of this character is a thing that absolutely must be put through.


I am sure, we all deeply sympathise with the President of the Board of Education's touching allusion to the teachers and to the eldest scholars in the universities who have laid down their lives in the War. We all feel that it is only an exhibition of patriotism we expected to find from this class of public servant, and which is repeated in every Department of the State. I regret that the President of the Board charged the ratepayers with niggardliness with providing funds for education. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] I notice that an hon. Member opposite endorses that statement. I should like to point out that instead of that being the case it is the State that has been niggardly and not the ratepayers. Thus I find that in the year 1909–10 the cost of elementary education was £23,507,592, and of that sum over £11,000,000 came from the rates, and just an equal sum from the Imperial Exchequer, while five years afterwards the expenditure had risen to £26,314,000, and of the increase of £2,762,000 a sum of £2,411,831 came from the rates, and only £351,011 came from the Imperial Exchequer. I cannot refrain from pointing out that the ratepayers have shown greater devotion to the cause of education than has the State. We all claim that education is a national responsibility, and therefore the State ought to have contributed a much larger share towards its cost than is shown by those figures. With reference to the county in which I live, elementary education in the last six years has increased from £73,655 to £89,016. Of that increase, £16,191 came from rates and only £2,696 from Government Grants. Therefore the charge of the right hon. Gentleman is not justified. The ratepayers have borne the lion's share of the increase of the cost of education, while the Imperial Exchequer has failed to come to the aid of the ratepayers by bearing at least half of the increased expenditure.

The right hon. Gentleman said that one result of the War would be to show us that we must depend more on home production; he went on very eloquently to impress upon the Committee the importance of every opportunity being taken to give our young people every advantage in technical education; he predicted that after the War the competition with other countries would be still more acute than before; and he declared it was most important that we should qualify to take our position in that keener competition. I am with him entirely in thinking that it is of great importance that the rising generation should nave every opportunity to qualify to till with credit to themselves and to their country the station in life which they will occupy. But I was a little disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman made no allusion whatever to the importance of educating boys, at any rate in the rural districts, in the interests of rural life. I cannot but think that the right hon. Gentleman realises the importance of this aspect of the question, because one thing that we have learnt from the War is that it is a very serious matter to be so dependent on foreign countries for the food supply of the nation. I regret that, while emphasising the importance of technical education in order to qualify for trade, the right hon. Gentleman made no allusion whatever to the necessity of qualifying for the industry of agriculture. After all, agriculture is the largest industry in the country, and while it is important that we should hold our position as a manufacturing people, we cannot be successful as a manufacturing people unless we have food upon which the people may live.

I would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot do something in the rural districts to interest the boys and girls in rural life. If he would seek to inspire in their minds a realisation of the importance of plant and animal life, and to interest them in acquiring a knowledge of the composition of the soil and so on, they might be attracted to seek their future in the rural districts rather than to hurry into the towns. I believe that there is a prospect for those who settle in the rural districts which will make it well worth their while to follow that course. We know how important it is for the physique of the nation. After all, it is from the country districts your teachers come, your railway porters, your policemen, and the best of your soldiers. It is as important and as dignified to be a tiller of the soil as it is to be a maker of guns or a member of any other industry. I would not for a moment ask that a boy born in a country district should be prevented from going into a town if he thinks it will advance his interest to do so; but I complain that our present system of education is calculated to create a distaste for rural life, and to induce boys to go into the towns to their disadvantage and loss. While agreeing entirely as to the importance of waking up to meet altered conditions after the War, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether it is not as important to create in the minds of the children in rural districts a sense of the important position which they will fill in helping to provide from our own land more of the food supply than has hitherto been the case. A great deal has been said against the action of the Board of Education in allowing some boys of school age to assist in farm work. I do not believe that it will do the boys any harm whatever. It is of the highest importance to the country that the land should be tilled.

I know that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite blame the farmer because there has been a diminution in the number of agricultural labourers; but it has been the tendency, not only in this country but in America and other countries, for the rural population to drift into the towns. It is a serious menace to the stability of the State that that should be so. Our system of education, instead of being of a character calculated to accentuate that evil, ought rather to endeavour to remedy it. I believe that there is a better future for lads in rural districts than in towns. They live healthy lives, and have high moral privileges which they do not always have in the towns. Therefore, in the interests of the lads themselves, as well as of the State, I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman that, while not relinquishing his efforts fully to qualify and equip the trader for future competition, he should not forget that it is of equal importance to the State that agriculture should be maintained, and that end cannot be secured unless more of the rising generation than has recently been the case settle in the country districts. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is altogether wilfully against us in this matter, but it was an omission in his speech that he will forgive me for pointing out. I hope he will mend his ways, will at any rate hold an even balance between trade and agriculture, and give as much inducement to a lad to follow agriculture, as he does to follow trade. I will be bound that the lad when he grows up will be grateful for the opportunity he has had of realising the dignity and the importance of the cultivation of the soil.


I did not intend to speak in this Debate, and I would have remained silent if it had not been for the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He is very keen that the President of the Board of Education should promote education in the rural districts which will keep the lad on the land. As a matter of fact, the remedy is with the class that the hon. Gentleman so admirably represents in this House. The hon. Member can keep the labour on the land provided he is prepared to enter into competition with the industrial centres in the matter of wages. The problem reduces itself to that. It is a question of wages and housing accommodation. For the hon. Member to suggest that the President can cure the ill is beside the mark entirely.


I am sorry to interrupt, but I do not think the President can cure the ill. At present he is aggravating it, and that is what I object to.


That is where the hon. Gentleman makes a mistake. I would recommend him to look around in his own county, and would ask him, for example, to ask his own local education authorities how many school gardens there are in Devonshire to promote the very thing that he wishes, and ask whether his own local authority gives the opportunity to the teachers to stimulate the interest of the children in the land? I should like to know whether there are any schemes in Devonshire to give extended education in scientific farming to any considerable number of the community?


The county council has done a lot in that direction. If the hon. Member will visit me I will take him to a school at Okehampton, where for many years we have let the boys have their plot of land, and allowed them to have the value of the proceeds. I have repeatedly urged that in other rural schools there should be a plot of ground for practical work. The President of the Board of Education knows that I take that view.


I am very glad to hear it. That is one school in Devonshire and Devonshire is a large county. But I would suggest to the hon. Member that before he complains about the President of the Board that he should look at home and see whether there is in his own county that stimulation of interest that can be given by a local authority. As a matter of fact, to-day teachers have the liberty to model their schemes of work on local requirement. The President of the Board of Education suggests that course to them. But if the locality does not provide the necessary staff and equipment, how does the hon. Gentleman expect that there will be this stimulation of the children in agricultural affairs? But I really rose mainly to point out—


I am sorry again to interrupt, but it is not the ratepayers' fault that things have not been done; it is the fault of the Board of Education. I gave figures just now showing that on the increase of the last six years £16,000 had been provided by the ratepayers and only £2,000 by the Board of Education. The ratepayers are doing their duty. It is the Board that is not doing its duty.


Yes, Sir, I agree with the hon. Member in that. We ought to get from the Board of Education—which, after all, means the Treasury—a larger Grant in this matter, but I recall the attitude of the hon. Member and of the hon. Member's Friends earlier in the Debate, when I suggested that the Treasury ought not to cut down the amount proposed to be spent in London. I associate myself with the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. Lynch) when he said that we ought to emulate old Prussia in her great difficulty, prepared to spend her last copper, it seems to me from what the hon. Member said, in attempting to reconstruct her educational system. As a matter of fact, our reconstruction must commence in the elementary schools. If the ratepayers, and the Treasury, are not prepared to find the money, then the doom of this country is indeed sealed.

I am satisfied that if the Treasury would back up the President that things would be better, and I am not quite sure that the hon. Member in his captious complaints of the Board helps matters very much. If he would encourage the President to get a larger Grant from the Treasury, if he would stimulate his own local authority, and counties like Devonshire, where we have the most backward authorities, which restrain the development of education by maintaining a low leaving-age and complain that the Board will not allow children to get on to the farms at twelve and thirteen years of age, then something might be done. How can you inspire children of twelve and thirteen years of age when they cannot be kept within the reach of the influence of well-qualified and excellent teachers? The remedy can be applied if hon. Gentlemen are prepared to find the money. When I hear hon. Members like the hon. Gentleman who last spoke, I am always interested to note what their attitude is when the Estimates are under discussion. They profess a belief in education. I should be glad to have a little support from the hon. Gentleman and his Friends when Estimates are before us, and support also in our appeals to the Treasury to make the work of the Board of Education even greater in the future than it has been in the past.


I was glad, Mr. Whitley, to hear the right hon. Gentleman pay the tribute he did at the beginning of his speech to the patriotism of those who have worked under him in the Education Office, and amongst the ranks of the teachers. Of all the classes who have done their duty in trying to stimulate their countrymen to a sense of their duty to enlist, and take their share in the furtherance of the interests of the country, there is no class that has done more than the teachers. I mean not only since the War began, but by the teaching that most of them gave and have been giving systematically for many years. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman paid the tribute he did; that tribute, I am sure, will be endorsed from every quarter of the House. I was also very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman intended to take up more warmly than before the question of the linking-up of educational research with the great industrial concerns of the country. He is beginning in a small way, very properly, considering the finance of the country, but there will come a time, I expect, when we shall be able to launch out a little more freely in the matter of finances. Many of us are prepared to see him spend money in that way, more than in spending it in some of the ways it has been spent in the past.

I fear my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock, and those who are interested in rural education, cannot congratulate themselves on having had any very great comfort from the speech of the right hon. Gentlemen. Why, he said, we are only considering the great industrial concerns. Why is education only to be fostered and encouraged in their case? The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Anderson) very properly drew attention to the want of attraction in country life. He gave a good many reasons, with some of which I cordially agree, for the many lifficulties of getting agricultural labour. I am afraid I should not be in order in following him into a discussion on rural cottages on this Vote. But there is one thing which, I venture to think, is more essential than anything else, and that is to encourage village industries, to show the people how to make simple things in their spare time, and be able to earn a little extra money by so doing. I went this morning to the British Industries Exhibition, and I wished I had more time to spend there; but in the time I did spend there I was immensely struck by the number of industries I saw that could be taken up in rural districts and taught to rural children or rural adults. I hope the President will remember there are some other people to be considered besides the great industrial concerns, and that the Board of Education will extend its fostering care and assistance to establish schools for rural industries in the villages of this country. I am quite sure that that would go a long way towards making country life more attractive, and it is certainly one of the things in which the Board of Education could assist.

I am not one of those who regard the employment of boys over twelve years of age in agricultural pursuits, if they are selected from those who are physically fit, as being so pernicious as some hon. Members seem to think. It is an extremely healthy life, and it is perfect nonsense to talk, as some people do, about the detriment to their health. It is quite possible that they may lose a little education—book learning, at any rate—although they may gain in technical education, which hon. Members opposite are always supporting when applied to any industry except agriculture. I have always been one of those who think that you would do much more good in rural districts if you allowed strong, forward children to take their share in agricultural work, and make them continue their education in the winter evenings to a further age than what they are obliged to do now. And I believe it would be very easy to devise schemes by which they could, on one or two evenings a week in the winter, continue their education up to an age when they would cease to forget things they had learnt. As it is, when they leave school entirely at fourteen, many of them by sixteen or seventeen have forgotten everything they have learnt. If their education were carried on for one or two days a week up to the age of sixteen or seventeen, they would have acquired the power of making use of what they had learnt, and of realising that it was worth while to keep up the education they had had. Of course, we heard a little, as usual, about the duty of the farmer in this matter, and that it was the farmer's fault. Hon. Members who talk like that never seem to consider whether the rural districts are rich or poor. It is of no use lecturing people about finding money when they have not got any to find. I do not say the time may not come when more may have to be found, but, if so, I think you will find that they are quite as ready to spend their money on education as other people, and I think they do quite well in proportion to the wealth they possess.

There is one other thing I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman. At this time I think he will agree with me that to talk about spending a great deal more money on education is absurd, but I should like him to go further and do all he can to discourage unnecessary expenditure, and especially expenditure which is caused by forcing local authorities to fall in with fads which happen to be popular and fashionable at the Board of Education for the moment. There is an immense amount of money wasted in that way—on architectural fads, and many other fads which do not make the children any better, or better educated, but very often make them much worse. There is, for instance, ventilation, which is lectured upon by people who have never seen the school about which they are lecturing. I know a school where children get colds perpetually, and there have to be two stoves instead of one, simply because of some stupid rules about ventilation, people in London fancying that they know better than the people down there what is necessary. An immense amount of money is wasted in that way. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will take the opportunity of riding these hobbies a little loss hard than before.

I want to give one example where, I am sorry to say, he has already failed to economise or encourage economy where he should have done so. I have tried by question and answer to elicit some information from him about a certain school at Dolgelly. Everyone is agreed that the existing council school needs alteration. When the Board of Education issued their notice that they were going to build a new school, they invited objections, as they are bound to do under the Education Act, from the ratepayers and managers of other schools in the district. The ratepayers, to the number of at least 100, signed appeals against this school. They sent their appeals to the Board of Education, and the Board took no notice. The school was advertised to be built; the notice was given on 27th June, and the appeals were sent within the proper limit of time—three months. After these appeals had been sent up, the ratepayers who objected were rather surprised at not hearing from the Board of Education, and they wrote on 15th September asking whether they might not have an opportunity of stating their case. The Board wrote back to say that, before holding an inquiry, they would like to have from the local authority a few more reasons why they thought the new schools should not be built. The ratepayers then wrote on 12th October that the chief ground of appeal was that the present school was better suited to meet the wants of the district than the proposed new school. They go on to say it is not intended to convey that this school is not required, and there is a considerable feeling in the neighbourhood against it being erected. There are numerous reasons which cannot be stated in a letter, and they feel that the Board should hold an inquiry. That letter was written on the 1st October, and they received a formal acknowledgment of it.

The right hon. Gentleman told me that these were not considered sufficient reasons, but they are the reasons actually set out in the Clause of the Act of 1907, which provides that people may appeal on the ground that the proposed school is not required, or that the school provided or not provided is better suited to meet the wants of the district. Those are the grounds they are obliged to appeal on, and I cannot imagine what right the right hon. Gentleman or his Board has to say that those are not sufficient grounds to appeal on. I am not accusing the right hon. Gentleman personally, because I feel that if the matter had been under his own personal supervision, instead of being left to the Welsh Secretary of the Department to arrange with the chairman of the local education authority, probably better justice would have been done. What I complain of is that after the receipt of that letter by the Board these ratepayers were treated in the most insulting manner. The letter was merely acknowledged, and the next they heard of the matter was on the 19th December, when the local educaton authority advertised for tenders for a new school. The ratepayers were very much surprised to find this was being done entirely behind their backs. I complain of the discourtesy of the Board, for they might have told them that their reasons were insufficient, or, at any rate, they might have given some decent answer to the letter of the 12th of October. The right hon. Gentleman tried to make out that this was not a new school, but simply one to replace another school. Surely he could not have been aware of the fact that the school which it is now proposed to be built is more than half a mile away from the old school, and outside the urban district, and how can that be the same school? If it is not a new school, why is is set forth in the notice that— Notice is hereby given that the Country Council of Merionethshire, being the local authority, propose to provide a new public elementary school. How can you say that it is not entirely a new school when it is half a mile away and in a different district. I think it is a case in which the ratepayers should have been heard. This expense was being incurred five months after the War began. The school cost £5,000. I am informed that the alterations to the old school could have been done for a very much smaller sum, and would have left the school in what they think would have been a more suitable part of the district, and certainly that would have been the best way of dealing with this question. To wantonly spend £5,000 when you could have done the whole thing for half that amount or less in the teeth of objections from a very large and influential body of ratepayers, I consider is a great breach of the duties of the Board of Education under the Act of 1902. I do not know whether this thing has gone too far to be saved now, but I hope that the Board will be more careful in future, and will listen to all arguments of this kind during a time when the country has to find all the money it can for the prosecution of the War. If the Board of Education is going to take steps in the future when money is more plentiful to make education more practical and less theoretical, then they will have the support of hon. Members on this side of the House, and we shall, I hope, have the patronage of the Board of Education not only for the industries of our great towns, but for the village industries of our rural districts.


I wish to say a word or two in reference to the speech which has just been made by the hon. Member for West Clare (Mr. Lynch). Although the speech was interesting from a literary and scientific point of view, I cannot allow it to pass unchallenged. I know it was very largely imaginary, but the hon. Member let himself go, and he made some wild statements about the University of Cambridge, which requires from me some sort of an answer. One of his statements was that there was no scientific name of any eminence at the University of Cambridge, and he said that the rank and file of those at the University of Cambridge were "toys in the crucible of nations." I do not know upon what basis the hon. Gentleman judges scientific distinction, but in this connection Sir Isaac Newton was possibly entitled to some consideration. Darwin can be quoted as a distinguished undergraduate of Cambridge, and he left three very distinguished scientific sons, also connected with that university, and probably these will pass through the narrow meshes of the hon. Member's measure. I may also quote Lord Kelvin, Lord Rayleigh, and Sir J. J. Thompson, and possibly that is sufficient. If the hon. Member really wants to go into facts, let him do so, and he will find that there are a large number of men who are doing steady and useful scientific work in every branch of Cambridge University, and, whether it is for good or for evil, it is being done. There are connected with Cambridge a large number of persons who are well qualified to serve both Church and State. If I may dwell upon the branch of science which my hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Spear) referred to, I would point out that agriculture is to a certain extent dependent upon science, and, if he wants to see it at its best, he had better inquire, and he will find that he owes a considerable debt of gratitude to Cambridge for experiments in wheat growing. If the hon. Member will go to the university farm which deals with the experimental breeding of animals, he will see there the intimate connection between science and agriculture. I am not going to say another word about the rank and file of Cambridge, who have been described as "toys in the crucible of nations." If we look at the House of Commons, we have every cause to be proud of our representatives. There is one here, although he is not known as a leading scientific man, but I am sure we are all proud of the President of the Board of Education. Does he look like a "toy in the crucible of nations"?

10.0 P.M.

I was very glad to hear the President's announcement of the creation of an Advisory Council to deal with this matter, and I need hardly say that though I have not been able to consult them upon the point, the University of Cambridge, I am sure, will give most unstinted support to the scheme, such as it is. Whether it will fee a success or not will depend upon matters which we cannot discuss to-night. It will depend largely upon the men and upon the methods by which the work is carried out. No one doubts that there is a need for it at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman has enumerated some of the things in connection with which we have discovered the need, and he could have made a much longer list—things which are vitally important for the carrying on of the War. This country has had brought home to it the recklessness of any island country being dependent for its supplies to a large extent upon places outside its bounds. That is one of the lessons we shall learn from the War. It must be remembered that scientific men have been connected with agriculture and industry in this country before. They were connected with it in the best possible way; they were present while the work was being done. But in one case after the other the Germans bought up those firms and practically carried the industries away to Germany. We must not have that occur again. It is not merely a question of scientific research; it is much more a question of policy. As far as the scientific side is concerned, I think that even the President of the Board of Education was hardly sufficiently optimistic when speaking of the enormous supply of men in the universities who are perfectly qualified and ready to take part in the industrial side of science. A large number are already doing so, and a very much larger number are perfectly ready and willing to take part and assist in the science of industries of any kind. I was very much surprised to find the large number of Cambridge men who had been engaged in industries like that of aniline dyes. I do not think that it would be fair upon the House, however, to keep them longer upon this very big question, which no doubt we shall have an opportunity of discussing upon some future occasion.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the excellent work which the schoolmasters of the country had done. Possibly he may remember that the Government—I am not sure whether it was the Board of Education, but I think it was—sent round a circular to the different schools at the beginning of the War, saying that the very class of men they wanted were the men who had been schoolmasters in the secondary schools. They wanted men of education who could fit themselves to be officers and who had the best brains for that particular work. The response to that appeal was taken advantage of, and a large number of masters of secondary schools of all classes became officers. In a few instances they joined the ranks, but in the majority of cases they became officers. There is an application which I am going to make shortly to the Treasury, and I hope that I shall have the support of the President of the Board of Education in the matter. Many of the men who have gone are, of course, making less than they made as schoolmasters. A man who was possibly in receipt as a schoolmaster of £150 a year does not how receive more than £100 a year. The margin between £100 and £150 is in the case of the richer schools made up to him. Of course, if he had joined the ranks, he would get separation allowance and various other things, but in the case of officers great distress occurs.

Schools that can afford it have made up the difference between the two salaries, but there are a considerable number of schools which have not got the funds to do so, and I do submit to the President of the Board of Education that these men have a very strong claim upon his support. He has talked of helping, and rightly helping, certain universities who are suffering owing to the stress of the War, but surely the claim of these men who are going out now and risking their lives for the service of the country at the direct and special invitation by circular of the Government is even stronger, and where there is no other fund from which to make up the difference for the support of their wife and family at home, I do submit most earnestly to the President that he should support an application of this kind that is to be made on behalf of those assistant masters in secondary schools. I hope that we may have his whole-hearted support when the application is made. Possibly he might even make the application himself, rather than leave it to private Members.


I am sure my right hon. Friend is to be congratulated on the fact that, although there has been a very small House, the great scheme which he has indicated has received so warm a welcome. I will refer to one or two points in connection with it later, but with respect to the pay of secondary school teachers mentioned by the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) of course, in a large number of cases, the authorities of the secondary schools do make up to them the difference between their military and their civil pay. There are, for all that, many cases of inequality existing, and I am sure he knows that the representation, which he has made will be sympathetically considered by my right hon. Friend. I will take first the only point of criticism, in the old-fashioned Parliamentary sense, to which we have listened to-day, namely, that raised by the hon. Member for the Oswestry Division (Mr. Bridgeman). I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend very much regretted the misunderstanding which seems to have arisen in this matter. There has been a good deal of misapprehension about this case, and, but for that, many of the subsequent misunderstandings would never have arisen As a matter of fact it really was not necessary, in the first place, to issue notices with respect to this school at all, and it was owing to the issue of the notices, which was not legally necessary.


May I ask why it is not necessary to issue them?


It was not a new school within the proper meaning of the Act.


Is it not a new school when it is an entirely different building?


Not necessarily. I am advised that in this case it was not really necessary that the notices should have been issued, and the subsequent misunderstanding largely arose from the fact that they were issued. In April, 1913, it having been reported to the Board that the condition of the school was unsatisfactory, the local authority, the inspector of the Board, and the architect of the Board, all agreed in condemning the premises, and saying it was desirable that they should be replaced by others. As a matter of fact it was quite in order for the local authority to have proceeded to do all they wished to do without any reference to my right hon. Friend.


I think the hon. Gentleman does not remember the facts quite correctly. The local authority and, indeed, everybody agreed that the school was not in a fit state, and it was recommended first that certain alterations should be made provided the board of guardians would give land for a playground. The board of guardians, however, refused to do that. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman is not quite correct when he says that the first recommendation was to build a new school. The first recommendation was to repair the old school, provided a playground could be obtained from the board of guardians.


I think the facts are as I have stated. The local authority would have been quite within their powers in proceeding to carry out the alteration without reference to my right hon. Friend. He gave very serious consideration to the representations of the ratepayers, but there were no grounds upon which an inquiry could be ordered in this case. The Board has provided the solicitor to the representatives of the ratepayers with a full statement of the reasons that lead the Board to the conclusion at which it arrived. I regret there have been certain misunderstandings in respect of this case. I am sorry the ratepayers should feel that they have not been fairly dealt with, but the result of the whole case is that there is now to be provided what the local authority and the Board's inspector agreed was necessary a very long time ago. Two or three points have been raised with regard to educational finance, but at this late hour of the night I do not propose to detain the Committee long in regard to them. I should have been glad if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had been here during the speech of the hon. Member for the Chorley Division (Sir H. Hibbert), because that hon. Gentleman pointed out the serious undesirability of the abandonment of schools now in process of erection, with respect to various schemes in his own county. His speech showed in many details the kind of considerations which the Board had to take account of in arriving at the decision it did in connection with the case discussed earlier this evening.

I think the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Spear) had not really got his case up with his usual attention to detail, if I may say so, with all respect. My right hon. Friend's scheme—and here, perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oswestry may be interested in what I am saying—does not exclude the application of science to agriculture and suchlike industries. As the hon. Member for the Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) very rightly said, a great deal is being done at the present time in fostering the application of science to agriculture, but it must depend, whatever my right hon. Friend may try to do, to a great extent upon the co-operation of the local authorities and upon a certain amount of missionary zeal on their, part. We do give very considerable Grants for gardening classes and suchlike. The hon. Member for the Tavistock Division, in inquiring if my right hon. Friend really could not do something with regard to gardening and suchlike has, I am afraid, overlooked the very specific and detailed recommendations we have issued as suggestions to teachers. In dealing with these subjects, the Board, as a matter of fact, has taken great pains for some years to foster the holding of classes of instruction in practical subjects like these. Last year we paid Grants on 55,000 children attending classes in gardening and kindred subjects, and I am sorry to say that of these 55,000 children Grants were only paid in respect of 500 in the county of Devonshire. I should have thought there would have been more interest shown in these subjects in that county, and I am sure the hon. Member for the Tavistock Division will agree with me that it is very desirable he should use his influence with his own local authorities. I hope he will take note of the state of affairs in his own county.

He was also a little unduly severe on my right hon. Friend with respect to contributions to local expenditure. Of course the contribution from the Board in respect of education varies in different counties. But the hon. Gentleman's complaint, against us does not seem to be very well founded in the case of Devonshire, notwithstanding the figures which he gave. I find, as a matter of fact, from the last available returns of the total expenditure on elementary education in the county of Devon, 58 per cent. came from the Board of Education and central funds, while only 41 per cent. was contributed by the local rates.


I was alluding to the increased cost of elementary education in the county of Devon The total expenditure last year was £89,046 against £72,635 five years ago, and of that increase £16,191 came from the rates, whereas the contributions from the State showed a decrease of £2,696.


I have had the relative contributions carefully analysed, and the fact is that so far from contributing in a niggardly way, we have contributed no less than 58 per cent. of the total expenditure of Devon in that respect, and if the ratepayers in the county of London were consulted the hon. Member would find they would say that the county of Devon was not so badly treated.


Does the hon. Gentleman refute my figures when I say that of the increase in respect of elementary education in this county during the last five years, namely, £2,806,503, £2,411,831 came from the rates and only £351,011 came from the Imperial Exchequer? Does the hon. Gentleman think that is a fair contribution on the part of the Imperial Exchequer towards the cost of elementary education?


That was not the point with which I was dealing. I am going to deal with it, and I will not shirk it.


I was afraid you were going to miss it.


In the case of Devonshire, I was pointing out that the Board had contributed a far larger proportion than the local authorities. With regard to the State contribution towards the expense of education generally, if the hon. Member will consult the Budget which Was abandoned last year before the War, he will see that my right hon. Friend had very large figures included for additional State contributions towards education, and that it is only the necessities of our time that restrain my right hon. Friend from contributing much more generously, as he would like to do, and as was proposed in Parliament before the outbreak of the War. The hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Bridgeman) exhorted my right hon. Friend to restrain the officers of the Board from any propagation of their views with respect to expensive fads. One of them which he indicated was ventilation. My own time at the Board has been very short and the only expensive fad which has been brought to my notice was connected with this very subject, but the complaint was not that the Board of Education proposal was expensive, but that the regulations of the Board prevented the local authorities from putting in their schools a certain very expensive form of window, which we said was needlessly extravagant. The complaint was that the Board limited the expenditure of the local authorities in this particular thing. I am free to confess from my impression of the whole case that that particular window was an expensive fad, and that the Board were right in excluding it from the school.


They recommended it two or three years ago.


With respect to the employment of child labour on farms and in other places, hon. Members are familiar with the recent Debate on the subject. Following that Debate the Board issued a circular embodying the conditions which were agreed upon in the Debate, and we do our best, within the limits of our power, to see that throughout the country those conditions are complied with. In respect to the suggestion that something more might be done for the continued education of children who are released from school for employment on farms, the subject is surrounded with a good many difficulties, but as far as the Board is concerned, it is glad enough to give Grants for technical instruction in evening work and does so very extensively all over the country. It will welcome the institution of evening instruction in technical subjects, but it is generally found not an easy matter to get children, after having once left school, to go back again. We welcome experiments such as that which is being tried in Cambridgeshire, where the local authority is endeavouring to secure an arrangement whereby children liberated for work on farms will attend evening instruction during the winter months for three years afterwards. I hope sincerely that that experiment will be attended with success.

After all, we depend in this country very greatly on the value of our elementary education, and encouragement is given in many quarters to the longer stay of children in school, and the scheme which my right hon. Friend indicated, in order to encourage talent wherever it may come from, includes arrangements by which able children, carefully selected, will be able to stay longer at good schools, and we hope will be able to continue their course of whole time training at technical schools or universities. Some time ago it was arranged that the regulations with respect to technical instruction, which have to some extent hampered the development of technical instruction in some directions, especially with regard to specialisation and so on and the cost of instruction in the more expensive classes, are now to be thoroughly revised, and our new regulations will shortly be issued, and we hope to be delivered almost completely from having to pay our Grants mainly on the basis of the number of students' hours in classes. A large number of young people might attend a class which was quite inexpensive, and the results of which were not particularly fruitful—that is to say some classes of quite an elementary kind that happened to be popular because it was in vogue just then, whereas some other classes of good technical instruction might necessitate the provision of expensive apparatus. If you pay your Grant simply on the basis of the number of hours attended by the students in the class, it will mean that the relatively inexpensive and useless class will get a much larger share of the Grant than that which is really very valuable and is provided at considerable cost for a few students. We hope to get rid of that in our new regulations.

The hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Hibbert) spoke of the increased value which he found recognised in his county by the cost which the State has incurred in the contribution to medical inspection and treatment. Of course the increase in the Vote is mainly due to the fact that we now contribute a share to medical inspection and treatment, whereas before the cost of the inspection solely fell upon the local authority. The feeding of school children, which was costly for the month or two months after the War, has necessarily declined a good deal lately, because there has been a very great fall in the number of children receiving meals in consequence of the better employment throughout the country.

Colonel YATE

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how or why it is that there are as many as 70,000 now being fed?


In that matter, of course, the selection of the children is entirely in the hands of the local authority. It must be that in certain districts where the War employment has not affected so much the local depression you still have a considerable number of children who need feeding.

Colonel YATE

Can the hon. Gentleman account for that?


Yes, certainly. In some districts war expenditure affects employment more than in others; it depends entirely upon employment in the district itself. In a district where there are armament firms everyone is well employed, but in some of the cotton districts, in some months of the War, employment was very bad, and therefore in those districts there will be a heavier charge in respect of them. The hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Hibbert) said we had lost a very large number of our medical officers and nurses for the War. In his case, I think, all but one of the medical men has gone, and many authorities are working with greatly reduced staffs. Some of the criticisms that have been made against us as to the use of schools as hospitals I am afraid did not take into account all the considerations to which we have had to have regard in drawing up the scheme. The Primitive Methodist or chapel school or Sunday-school, notwithstanding the number of them that may exist in a town, is not always, I can assure him, a suitable place for a hospital. In Liverpool, and other places, we visited with the local authorities all available buildings which were anything at all likely to be suitable, and our anxiety was to spare the school children from dislocation and disturbance if we could. A chapel is very seldom a suitable place. You want a place where a man lying on a bed can see out of the window and get a glint of sunshine, and it often happens with chapels and halls, and suchlike, that they have only windows high up, and a man lying on a bed in the middle of the floor would see the light come in from above and it would be like a prison. Although it would be a sacred edifice, it would not be a suitable hospital. We had to take all these considerations into account, and it was not with any avidity, I can assure him, that the Board of Education consented to the use of schools as hospitals.


I did not complain.


I know the hon. Gentleman did not; it was another hon. Member. We did it with great regret. It was found advisable by the Army Council to have the Committee which my right hon. Friend (Mr. Pease) appointed to go throughout the country and make a comprehensive scheme in case so many beds were unfortunately needed. I am glad to say that in every case the local authorities, as we should have expected, and the Poor Law authorities as well as the local education and other authorities, co-operated with the Committee in every way, and we found it was quite possible, by friendly negotiations in all these great cities we visited, to arrive at a scheme, and, notwithstanding the criticisms from outside, we made arrangements which, I think, will be found to meet the full requirements of the case, and cause as little friction and disturbance as possible. You cannot fix up arrangements for 1,500 beds in places without disturbing someone, and we did our best to make arrangements with as little friction as possible. I do not think it necessary to say anything connected with the comments which hon. Members have made on the proposal of my right hon. Friend with respect to the scheme for getting hold of the best brains of the country for the purpose of bringing science in close relation to industry, and encouraging on proper lines the development of scientific research. I agree with all that was said by hon. Members, and have nothing to which to reply on behalf of my right hon. Friend, except to say that I think that every one of the criticisms brought before us have been present to our minds during the last five months, during which this scheme has been under most careful consideration, and it was not possible, even in the emergency of the War, to waste the present year before calling into being an organisation which affords a more extensive development, so as to bring the manufacturers and masters of industry, including the agriculture of this country, to the position to which science can bring them.

There are many things which we must attend to without any delay, and it is for this reason that the Committee for Research will be set up quite soon. A great deal has been done by private effort in respect of research, and notwithstanding all that my hon. Friend the Member for West Clare (Mr. Lynch) has pointed out, quite properly, in this connection, I think that the research which has been associated with British scientists has often been the most original of any in the whole world. We have not organised and developed it as we ought to have, but the British researcher is often freer in his outlook and greater in his conceptions, I think, than almost any other. At all events he certainly stands far above the average German researcher, who tends more to apply the ideas which have been suggested by others, but from all that my hon. Friend pointed out, we have got to recognise that we cannot afford nowadays to leave all this to private effort. A great deal can be done by careful organisation and by seeing that the men turned out from our universities and technological institutions are equipped with that training which will make them acceptable in industry, and make them more likely to find a good market and a good career for themselves. Going around our institutions you will find certain departments where the professors will tell you that they cannot supply the men quickly enough to the manufacturers, while in other departments it is quite the reverse. The Royal Society has lately, very patriotically, been assisting chemical research in respect of drugs. This was one of the matters in which we felt ourselves behindhand at the beginning of the War. However, I think that my right hon. Friend may be satisfied with the full assent of the House in all quarters in getting ahead with this great scheme, which, while we hear so much of the mobilisation of our industries with respect to the production of munitions of war, will quickly, for the first time in this country, show that we are going to some extent, at all events, to create a machine which will enable us to mobilise brains and science in the service of industry and national progress.

Colonel YATE

There are two small points upon which I should like to ask the President of the Board of Education a question. First, however, I should like to congratulate him on what he said earlier in the day regarding boys who are sent to secondary schools, and the necessity of their engaging to continue throughout the whole school course. There are great complaints by teachers in secondary schools that the time and trouble taken with many of the boys are often absolutely wasted and thrown away. The boys come from the elementary schools, and perhaps remain a year and then go off. The time and trouble of the teacher are wasted, and the ratepayers' money is wasted. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to arrange that the guarantee of each boy should be secured that he is to take full advantage of the whole school course, and to see that the ratepayers' money is not wasted on useless scholarships.

The second point on which I wish to put a question has relation to physical education. I would like to know what steps are being taken to afford a better physical education in our elementary schools. We know that the physical education of children in elementary schools is just as necessary as the mental education in those schools. A glance at the number of rejections during the last few months amongst those who wished to join the Army, and who were pronounced medically unfit for the Service, has brought home to the people the fact that many of our children are quite unfit for active duty or outdoor life. Forty per cent. of the men who offered themselves for service in the Army have been rejected. That shows the great need of better physical education in our elementary schools. Boys are only given one hour a week physical education, very often they are taught by women, and there is no continuous physical training. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take this subject into his consideration, and appoint proper inspectors to see that the boys are really given a good physical education.


Perhaps I may just reply to the last point the hon. and gallant Member has made. We have recently had appointed two or three extra inspectors in connection with physical training—men who have studied the subject, and who have passed tests in Sweden or elsewhere—to go round the country and see that the best system of physical training is adopted in all our schools. They are to examine the curriculum of the school and endeavour to see that as much attention as possible, having regard to the other interests of the school, is given to physical training and exercise. I believe more could be done than is being done, especially in connection with the first few minutes of school day. In many of the schools the first ten minutes is given to breathing exercises and to certain simple exercises, in addition to the regular period set apart of twenty or forty minutes, the time varying from school to school, for physical training. A real advantage would thus be secured by the children. We are making physical exercise a compulsory subject in all our training colleges, so that both women and men teachers in future will be turned out from those institutions, and be able to impart to the children of our elementary schools the way in which they should exercise their limbs, as well as enable them to be subject to proper teaching during school hours. I believe in this way we shall very much improve the condition of the schools of the country. As I believe nobody else in the House desires to speak now on this subject, I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next (17th May); Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.