HC Deb 21 August 1916 vol 85 cc2263-5

asked the Prime Minister whether he can state the nature of the body which is to make a comprehensive review of the existing provision of education in Scotland and to make proposals for developing it with a view to experience gained n the War, not as a special Scottish national problem but as part of a general review of the educational provision of Great Britain; whether any Committee or Commission is to be appointed for this purpose; and whether any independent authorities are to be consulted or whether it will consist simply of a series of memoranda by the Departments concerned?


With regard to the first two parts of the question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by the Secretary for Scotland on the 16th instant. The methods of conducting the inquiry proposed will naturally be left to the discretion of the persons appointed to conduct it.

50. Mr. SCOTT

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the educational system of Scotland, both in its methods and in its scope, in its historical development, and in the attitude of the people towards it, has always been quite distinct from that of England, and that the problems of Scottish education are specially national problems; whether he is aware that the proposal to review the existing educational provision in Scotland as a branch of a comprehensive review of the educational provision for Great Britain will fail to inspire confidence in Scotland; whether he will take steps to secure that a comprehensive inquiry into the existing educational provision in Scotland from primary schools to the universities, with special reference to experience gained during the War, shall be conducted exclusively by persons versed in the Scottish educational system; and whether the Government will appoint a Commission for that purpose?


I am aware of the differences in the educational systems of England and Scotland to which my hon. Friend refers, but I am also aware that there are many educational problems common to the two countries which I think it desirable should be investigated jointly for the common benefit in the first; place, without prejudice to any subsequent separate inquiry which may be rendered necessary by the special circumstances of either country.


Will my right hon. Friend consider that this is a matter in which the fullest publicity is desirable, and is in the interest of the inquiry, and will he say, first, who are the people who are making the inquiry; second, what is the scope of the inquiry; and third, what is the method by which they are making the inquiry? Is the method to be simply a series of memoranda from the different Departments or are outside persons desired to make suggestions?


Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that such inquiries are often most efficacious if they are not conducted according to prescribed rule, but according to the discretion of those to whom they are entrusted?


As I said a moment ago, I think that the procedure is to be determined by the persons appointed. I hope that we shall get a thoroughly independent body of persons to do so.


Will the Scottish Members be consulted before the inquiry is constituted?


Not before, but I hope that we shall have their cooperation during the course of the inquiry.


Who is going to appoint the members of this inquiry?


The Government.

51. Sir P. MAGNUS

asked the Prime Minister whether he is now able to give the names of the members of those Committees that have already been appointed to consider and report upon some of the matters connected with the present education inquiry; and whether he can state the terms of reference to each of those Committees?


The terms of reference and the names of the members to the Committee appointed some time ago on the education and instruction of children and young persons after the War have already been announced. An announcement as to Committees on the Teaching of Science and of Modern Languages will be made very soon.

Colonel YATE

Will the right hon. Gentleman also make an announcement in reference to a Committee on the subject of physical education?


No, Sir.

52. Sir P. MAGNUS

asked the Prime Minister whether, during the Recess, he will be able to publish the terms of reference to the proposed Reviewing Committee suggested by Lord Crewe; whether, in settling the terms of reference to that Committee, he will consider the desirability of making the term sufficiently comprehensive to cover the several important subjects which have been already indicated as requiring investigation, with a view to the improvement of our present educational system and to the better adaptation of the different branches to the new social and industrial conditions that will prevail after the War; and whether he will publish the names of the members of that Committee as soon as the Committee shall have been appointed?


Yes, Sir, I hope to be able to adopt the suggestion made by my hon. Friend. The considerations mentioned in the second part of the question will not be neglected. I will consider the suggestion contained in the last part of the question.

The following question stood on the Paper in the name of Sir P. MAGNUS:

53. To ask the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to inform the House whether the resignation of the present Minister of Education has been accepted; and, if so, whether he can announce who has been appointed as his successor?


I have already received a satisfactory answer to this question.