Motion made, and Question proposed.
That a sum, not exceeding £2,023,495, 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, 1925, for Public Education in Scotland, and for Science and Art in Scotland, including a Grant-in-Aid."—[Note: £2,750,000 has been voted on account.]
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
When the Scottish Estimates, particularly in relation to education, were discussed last year, most of our criticisms were directed against Circulars 44 and 51. Those criticisms cannot apply this year in connection with the Scottish Board of Education so far at least as Circular 51 is concerned, but so far as the relationship of Circular 44 to the new Circular which has been issued—Circular 60—is concerned there is still cause for very serious objection being lodged by educationists in Scotland. I may point out that when we raised our objections last year, it was because of the laying on the Table of the new Code and because of the attempt to change the method of granting intermediate certificates. Those of us who have been connected with Scottish education administration admitted that there were difficulties in the way so far as the continuance of that particular certificate was concerned. We were anxious that any certificate which was to take its place should be a 1588 certificate with a national significance. We have to admit that the Scottish Board of Education has conceded that point by arranging for a certificate which has a national significance, but we are not satisfied, and I believe in this I am expressing the opinion of the majority of the education authorities and of the overwhelming majority of Scottish public opinion when I say that we still demand that the certificate instead of being a day school certificate shall be continued as an intermediate certificate.
I know there may be a minority of opinion in favour of it being called a day school certificate, and the Education Department, when it has discussed this matter with us, has argued that there is very little in a name, but. if that be so, why should the Department hold out against the expressed opinion of Scottish educationists? Surely there can be no good result in seeking, against expressed Scottish opinion, to issue a certificate that shall be called a day school higher certificate in place of retaining the certificate with its Scottish characteristic and its Scottish significance, the intermediate certificate, which has been granted so long in connection with intermediate schools in Scotland. When we launched our criticisms last year on the attempt under the new code to change our system in Scotland of having primary schools which at the same time provide for higher classes of instruction, we prophesied that if we had secondary and non-secondary schools, it would ultimately lead to disaster so far as Scottish education is concerned. I want to give an instance to prove that, unfortunately, we have been justified in our objection. Let me take the case of one school authority of which I happen to be a member. That school last year, under the old regulations, had 152 entrants. My figures are brought up to the 20th June, and I think I may suggest that both my figures and my facts are more up to date than those supplied by the Board of Education. Under the new Regulations under which parents are compelled to give a guarantee for five or six years—and many of them find that they cannot give that guarantee—the total number of entrants for 1924 was only 109. That is one instance which proves the need for going back to our old system of having, not secondary and non-secondary schools, but a primary 1589 department, an intermediate department and a secondary department. For the purpose of emphasising my point I may quote from a letter, under date 24th June, by the headmaster of one of our finest schools in the county of Fife, in which he says:Many parents are loth to undertake at the very beginning of the Poet-Primary Course to keep their children at school for five years; for five years is a considerable period and the parents are uncertain how their children will shape at Post-Primary subjects. Many of these parents, however, would be willing at the end of the second year of the Post-Primary Course to undertake three more years if their children had shown ability and diligence in the first two years. At the beginning of the third year secondary pupils will as a rule specialise along a particular line, e.g., Classics, Science, Modern Languages, Art, and Music; and at this point the children whose parents are willing to allow their children to go on for three more years can be definitely enrolled in a full Secondary Course.My purpose in giving that quotation is to further strengthen the arguments we advanced last year, and which I am using again to-night, calling on the Secretary for Scotland to go back to our old system and let us have that which we in Scotland are satisfied is the finest system in the world in connection with education. We are not prepared to allow our system to be changed merely for the purpose of trying to get into line with an antiquated English system. The second point I want to call attention to is the new regulation issued in connection with the training of teachers. There is room for improvement in connection with this regulation. I suggest that the demand which has been made by the teachers for equality under the training regulations, and their application to those who have to train our children, is justified. We are net entitled to be satisfied with a regulation which provides that, so far as the female staff is concerned, they shall have only two years' training. We are demanding that there shall be a graduate course so far as the male teachers are concerned, and we are demanding something quite legitimate when we say there should be a three years' course. If the Secretary for Scotland cannot concede our demand for a full graduate course for male and female teachers alike, I suggest he might concede the demand for three years' training for teachers, so far as the female teaching staff is concerned.
1590 There is one point in the regulations that I do think ought to be amended before the final regulations are placed on the Table, and that is the section dealing with Article 55 classes. The very reason why the provincial colleges hold these Article 55 classes is because teachers are turned out of the training colleges not fully trained to deal with all the subjects with which they will have to deal in primary schools. I will give the Secretary for Scotland the actual figures in connection with the local authority of which I have the honour to be a member, namely, the Education Authority of Fifershire. That is the county from which the right hon. Gentleman himself comes, and where many of his constituents are proud that he has attained his present position. [Interniption.] I agree that, good as any of the other Secretaries for Scotland may have been, and bad as our present Secretary may be at his worst, he is better than they ever were at their best. Out of 138 non-graduate probationary teachers in the service of the Fife Education Authority in primary departments, 63 have received no training in the teaching of drawing, and 72 have received no training in the teaching of educational handiwork, while 56 female teachers have received no training in the teaching of needlework. Yet there is no provision in the new Regulations for the provision of Article 55 classes at the expense of the training colleges themselves, in order to complete the training which has not been given in the training colleges. The authority to which I belong has had to fight on more than one occasion in connection with this question. Desirous as they were that these classes should be run, they have had to fight for their being run, not at the expense of the local ratepayers or of the authority, but at the expense of the training colleges, so that the expense of training teachers for national work shall be a national burden and not a local one.
I want also to appeal to the Secretary for Scotland to impress upon his Department the need, in connection with our continuation classes, for speeding up the arrangements whereby the continuation classes may be real continuation classes. We have at the present time a tremendous number of classes that are really evening classes. I am glad to know that, as a result of Circular 60, one of the things 1591 for which I have been fighting for many years, and in regard to which I have the whole-hearted support of the Executive of the Education authorities and of the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl)—namely, that certificates should be granted and should be available for a student or a pupil in accordance with the ability of the pupil, and not merely because of the place in which the student had received that particular education—has been arranged for under Circular 60, and, accordingly, pupils who have continued their day school course in evening classes, having bad to leave school for economic or any other reasons, will, if they complete their education in the evening school, be entitled to sit for the certificate, and, if they are able to earn it, it will be granted. I do not, however, know of any education authority that has yet prepared a scheme and submitted it to the Department, and I am desirous that the Secretary for Scotland should press the Education Department, and that they in turn should press the Education authorities, to speed up their schemes, so that, in the continuation classes, the third year's course of the day school shall be the first year's course in connection with these evening continuation classes.
Another point which I desire to press upon the attention of the Secretary for Scotland is the need for a better system in connection with agricultural education, so far as our rural districts are concerned. I know that, in the course of the statement which the Secretary for Scotland made in introducing the vote for the Board of Agriculture, certain objections were alleged against the proposal for giving in our agricultural areas education with a rural bias; but I suggest that the Secretary for Scotland did not, in introducing that Vote, say that he intended to have an educational system in our rural districts that would turn out ploughmen—that he would have an educational system merely for the purpose of turning out agricultural workers. Surely, however, no one will dispute the need in our rural areas for education with a rural bias.
§ Mr. MAXTON
If my hon. Friend will allow me, I interrupted the right hon. Gentleman at that point because it seemed to me that this was wrong, and 1592 that it would be very much better to give our town dwellers an education with a rural bias, and vice versa.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
It comes to the same thing, so that we are now both agreed so far as that system is concerned. I will quote from a Circular—or shall I say a Report?—that was issued by the East of Scotland Agricultural College. That Report states:All education authorities are experiencing considerable difficulty in providing for a great many post-primary pupils, especially those who do not wish to enter our secondary or intermediate courses of instruction, as well as those who are not fitted to benefit from higher instruction.The Report goes on to set out the arguments in favour of a rural bias for education in our primary schools, and I would remind those Who object to that suggestion that, in pressing upon Scottish educationists the new Code, all pupils who are not secondary pupils have been made primary pupils up to the age of 15. Will anyone argue against having, in what used to be our supplementary courses, which are now known as our advanced division, science in its application to plant life, science in its application to agriculture, giving to these older children a chance to understand the science of the industry in which they are most likely to be engaged in after life? Then, having get, the central county schools on these lines, I want to press upon the Secretary for Scotland the need for having, in each of our counties, courses of instruction in the agricultural knowledge that is necessary in each county—it may be that the knowledge required in one county is entirely different from the knowledge required in another county—and for having experimental farms. The County of Fife has been pleading for a long time for such a system, and we are prepared to spend up to a, sum of not less than £5,000, if we can only get the necessary assistance from the State, for the purpose of having an experimental farm and a school in connection with that farm.
The executive of the education authorities submitted a questionnaire to the various education authorities, asking what they were doing in connection with agricultural education, and I think the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross, who, I understand, will be speaking after me, will admit that the replies to that questionnaire were far from satisfactory. They 1593 did not show that agriculture was getting its fair share, so far as education was concerned, in Scotland. I suggest to the Secretary for Scotland that more money ought to be available to the education authorities for the purpose of having these experimental farms and central schools connected with each county, from Which schools and farms the students could be sent to fill our agricultural colleges in the various areas of Scotland.
These are the main points to which I want to draw the attention of the Secretary for Scotland, but I would also appeal to him to press upon the education authorities and the executive of the education authorities in Scotland the need that more justice should be done by our aged retired teachers. I am anxious that the respective education authorities in Scotland should be empowered to exercise even greater generosity than they have up to the present time, and to see that this rapidly disappearing body of deserving men and women, who did splendid yeoman service during the most difficult period in connection with education, just after the system of free education was applied, shall at least have better terms than have been theirs up to the present. I would ask that the sympathetic spirit and the expressions of sympathy which the Secretary of Scotland is always so ready to extend to everyone shall be extended in the direction of making that appeal to the executive of the education authorities, and to the various authorities themselves, that greater justice in the way of increased pensions shall be allowed to these deserving members of our teaching staff who have retired.
I want also to suggest to the Committee that a very noble heritage has been handed on generation after generation to the people of Scotland—the heritage of one of the finest systems, if not the finest system, of education; and it is our duty, irrespective of creed or political party—and I believe we shall carry out that duty irrespective of creed or political party—to see that that heritage, which is ours, shall, by legislative effort and administrative efficiency, be materially added to, so that, great as our heritage is, a still nobler heritage shall be passed on to our children and our children's children. Towards that end, which I believe all parties in the House, and certainly the people of Scotland, desire to see achieved, 1594 there are certain essential features to which effect must be given from the administrative side of the educational system of Scotland.
We must see that no child attends school without every effort being made to provide that the physical needs of every child shall be attended to, if it is to benefit spiritually, intellectually and morally by our educational efforts. I have read somewhere that, in order that knowledge may be properly digested, it must be swallowed with a good appetite. I believe that the intellectual appetite can be made more keen if the physical appetite of the children has been attended to. That is my reason for appealing to the Secretary for Scotland to call upon his Department to give the very widest interpretation to Circular 67, which has destroyed that misinterpretation of the law, Circular 51. It has been said that an education which does not cultivate the will is an education which depraves the mind, and that all real education will train our people to enjoy what is beautiful and good, and to do things that arc noble, intelligent and generous. That training can best be given by a well-trained, well-educated, and decently paid staff of men and women, and I would urge the Secretary for Scotland to resist any and every effort, even on the part of the Education Authorities and of the Executive of the Education Authorities, if necessary, to reduce the national minimum scale of salaries so far as Scotland is concerned.
I would also plead with him to speed up the negotiations and the work necessary for giving us a real Scottish superannuation scheme acceptable to the Department, the teaching staff, and the public generally. There must ho the best of buildings, equipped with the best of apparatus and material, and no system can be defended which allows any barrier to stand in the way of the progress and advancement of any child, no matter how poor, if that child has the ability and the will to succeed. If I have detained the Committee longer than I intended I have only one excuse, and that is my enthusiasm for this subject, to which I have devoted the best part of my life One of the reasons why we on these benches are so enthusiastic for higher education—and I believe the Secretary for Scotland is as enthusiastic as I am—is that we realise the disadvantages of not having had a higher education. 1595 That, I believe, is the main reason why we are so enthusiastic for higher education. What little education we have had—and the Secretary for Scotland is in the same position as myself—has only been got by many weary nights of work with a tired brain, when we have been tired out after our work in the mines. That was our heritage, because of our economic conditions. We are determined—and I hope the Secretary for Scotland will agree with all that I have said—that that heritage is not good enough to pass on to our children, but that we are going to pass on a nobler heritage than that in connection with our education in Scotland.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
I move this reduction in no carping spirit. I recognise that in the main the Secretary for Scotland has been carrying on what the hon. Member who has just sat down has rightly described as our great heritage of education in Scotland mainly on the lines followed by his predecessors, but there are two or three respects in which his administration is differing from that of his predecessor, and I move this reduction in order to draw attention to them. The first point on which I wish to criticise his administration is the basis of the allocation of the grant made to the education authorities this year. For the last four years this grant has fallen under four heads. There has been a grant for each child in attendance at school, a grant for each qualified teacher employed by the authorities, a grant in addition for every teacher employed by an education authority in excess of the ratio of one teacher to 36 children, and, finally, there have been special grants allowed for very small schools, grants which vary inversely with the number of children in these small single-teacher schools. This scheme was agreed on, I think, in 1921–2 by the Education Department after consultation with a Committee of the Association of Education Authorities, and figures were fixed for each of these various heads. In the two years that followed, owing to the decrease in the grant from the Education Fund, it was necessary to make the amounts given under each head—the amount given per child and the amount per teacher and so on—smaller. But the decrease was spread 1596 over three of these four heads, that is to say, the grant given for each scholar, for each teacher and for each excess teacher all suffered alike. The only exception to the general reduction was in the special grant for the small schools. I think that meant to say that the reduction was made in what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. F. C. Thomson) described last year as the spirit of even-handed justice which the Department was endeavouring to mete out to rural and urban authorities alike, because it is generally recognised that the grant per scholar favours the large cities—the scheduled burghs—whereas the grants per teacher benefit chiefly the rural authorities, as owing to the scattered nature of the school population, they have to employ a much larger proportion of teachers than the large cities are obliged to do.
So that when the grant is falling, the reductions were made equally over these three grants into those that benefited the rural areas and those that benefited the scheduled burghs. The balance was allowed to swing over a little in favour of the scheduled burghs when two years ago the authorities were allowed to include in their scholar grants the number of children in attendance at these schools, because everyone who lives in a rural area knows how difficult it is to get a good attendance at continuation classes. At the beginning of the autumn session school management committees strain feverishly to get these young people into classes, but we all know how very difficult it is to get a really good attendance throughout the winter. and how very often classes have to be abandoned in rural areas because the attendance has not been sufficient to justify the continued appointment of the teachers. It was recognised that when attendance at continuation classes was included in the scholar grant, that was giving some advantage to the scheduled burghs, and there was rather a feeling among some representatives of rural authorities at that time that, seeing it takes so many children in attendance at a continuation class to count as a scholar towards the grant—the attendance of a child has to be multiplied by 800 before it can count as one in a continuation class—it was rather hard on the rural authorities that the basis of calculation for the attendance of children at continua- 1597 tion classes to rank for grants was the same both for rural areas and for large cities. This year, as I understand, finances are in a better position than was the case last year. Owing to various reasons—one of which, I understand, is the fact that there is a decrease in the money which it is necessary to provide for the ex-service officers and men—there has been a windfall to the authorities of a considerable sum. I understand the sum they have had placed at their disposal from one source or another is £400,000 more than last year. It seems to me a very comforting reflection, after all the animadversions we have heard made, particularly last year, on the system by which Scotland receives her education grants, to know that these windfalls have arrived without depending on any increased expenditure by education authorities in England.
How has this very gratifying surplus been utilised? It seems to me that if the Secretary for Scotland desired to continue to dispense that even-handed justice which was the aim of his predecessor, he should have endeavoured to see that these various grants—the scholar grants, the teacher grants and the excess teacher grants—benefited in corresponding proportions, and if it is not possible to see that both burghs and rural areas benefited alike, he should have been particularly careful to see that no arrangement was carried out which was likely to prejudice the rural areas. It is perhaps unnecessary to emphasise it, but we can never afford to lose sight of the great expense which is necessarily incurred in carrying on education in these very scattered areas in Scotland. It is not only that they require to employ more teachers, because they get a special grant for every teacher, but they have to keep up more school buildings. That means more equipment and more fuel, and that is a costly item when you have a great many small schools. If you come to medical service, you not only have to supply the salaries of your school doctor and school dentist, but you have to pay for the travelling of these officers over large areas, and that is a considerable addition to the expense. Then when you wish to send on your children of ability to the secondary school or university, you have to give them maintenance 1598 allowances in many cases in addition to some allowance towards books. That maintenance allowance is an expense which does not have to be met by the scheduled burghs, each of which has its own secondary school and a university in its midst. Finally, there is also such an extra expense as is involved in the payment of the travelling of members. That is not a serious item in my county, but in other larger counties further north it amounts to quite a considerable item in the course of a year. The difficulties I have mentioned are difficulties which are inevitable in carrying on education in these scattered areas, which will be found at any time without any regard to any, special circumstances.
Then the rural areas have found their difficulties increased by the extensive amalgamation of areas under the Education Act of 1918. It is only necessary to refer the Committee to the Report of the Departmental Committee presided over by Lord Dunedin two years ago. Hon. Members who have studied the Committee's Report will remember how strongly it emphasised the very great and alarming increase which has occurred in the rates in many rural parishes, and the figures which were given to illustrate the findings of the Committee. In the Appendix to that Report you will find there were many rural parishes where the amount required to be provided by the parish for education had increased by 200, 300 or 400 per cent over the amount which had to be found in the year before the authorities came into existence, and that, in fact, these amounts rose as high as an increase of 900 per cent. Some relief to the agricultural ratepayer was indeed given by the Unionist Government of last year, but the main defects and inequalities pointed out by the Dunedin Committee two years ago still remain unremedied. For the last three or four years I have felt, in common, I am sure, with many other people who have studied the subject, that the rating machine in the rural areas of Scotland is really out of gear, and it is therefore very difficult to bring the pressure on it that one would like to do in the interests of education. That being the condition of matters, surely it was to be expected that the Education Department would wish to see that in the dispensing of this gratifying increase due regard should 1599 be had to the difficulties in which the rural areas find themselves. What do we find has been, in fact, the allocation of this grant? We find that whereas the grant given per teacher has risen form £123 to £126 10s., and the grant per excess teacher from £75 to £77, these two sums still remain far below the sums at which they were originally fixed, whereas the grant per scholar, which had been reduced from the original figure of, I think, £3 18s. 6d. per child, has now been increased to £4 2s. per child. That figure is considerably higher than it has ever before reached. The result of so increasing that grant per scholar is that out of this total increase of £400,000 which has been available for the education authorities no less than £262,000 has been credited to the scholar's grant. That distribution of the fund presses very hardly on the rural authorities. It presses particularly hardly on them in view of this fact that, in addition to the circumstances I have enumerated, which have been for the last two years causing considerable difficulty, they are faced with the necessity for further expenditure in consequence of the code of last year. I am frankly surprised that anyone who values efficient education, as I know the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Westwood) does, should express himself as entirely satisfied with the system of supplementary and intermediate education which was in existence before this code was issued.
§ 8.0 P.M.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I think after the hon. Member passed on from what he had to say about names—I think a rose smells as sweet by any other name, and he might keep in mind that in regard to the intermediate certificate, the great point is that after some pressure the last Secretary for Scotland agreed to continue the giving of a certificate which should be equivalent in value to the old intermediate certificate—when the hon. Member had dealt with the question of names and certificates, I think he went on to say that he was quite satisfied with the system of supplementary education. I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Member. Any- 1600 how, I say quite frankly that, whatever his view may be, I am not satisfied with the system of supplementary education as too often it is found in rural areas.
§ Mr. NICHOL
Even when it is called an advanced course? Is the Noble Lady making any distinction between the supplementary departments that were in existence and the new supplementary departments under another name as advanced courses?
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am speaking of the supplementary departments as they exist to-day before it has been decided to give effect to the Regulations laid down in the code of last year. Too often that supplementary education has not been efficient or has not been well enough staffed or well enough equipped to give to children of from 12 to 14 the education that we wish them to have. The aim of the new code, as I understand it, and as it is being given effect to in counties with which I have been in communication, is to provide a very much more efficient education for the children than in many cases has been available.
Something was said last year in the Debates on this code as to its creating class distinction, or something of that kind, and reducing educational opportunities. If any hon. Member opposite holds that view, I would like him to see the difference between the staffing and equipment of an intermediate school in a typical rural area and a supplementary school a few miles from that intermediate school. The distinction is there, and the aim of the code has been to level things up and remove that distinction and to give to all children an opportunity of an equally efficient course with a common core of instruction and allowing them to specialise at the fringe of the instruction according to their various gifts and capacities. What is very important to remember in regard to the code and in regard to the arrangements which have now been made in areas that are putting the code into force is this, that not only in these advanced divisions are you going to get courses which are better staffed and better equipped—if my hon. Friend doubts it, I can show him particulars of the arrangements in several counties which show improvement in staff, equipment and improved accommodation—and not only are you getting everything that makes towards better and higher 1601 efficiency, but you are going to get a closer co-ordination between the various types of advanced division courses which will make it very much easier for a child Who, perhaps, at first is put into a course which does not seem to lead direct to the University, to change over, if in the course of time it appears that he has ability to profit by a secondary school and university education. That is a very important point.
To-day there is too little co-ordination between supplementary and intermediate classes. They are carried on often in different schools, by different teachers, and if a child goes into a supplementary department to-day and develops abilities later on which are unexpected, it is difficult for him to pass into an intermediate school—very much more difficult than it should be in the new advanced divisions. We find where this system is in operation as it is in full operation in Aberdeen—a city always in the forefront of educational progress—[HON. MEMBERS:"Oh!"] I do not say that other parts of Scotland are not in the forefront of educational progress, but we all have a very genuine respect for Aberdeen in these matters.
§ Mr. MAXTON
It is the only Scottish constituency that sends an Englishman here. [HON. MEMBERS:"He is a Labour Member!"]
Duchess of ATHOLL
We are not concerned at the moment with Parliamentary representation, but with education. Where that system is actually in full operation in Aberdeen—Aberdeen had anticipated the policy of last year's code by a year or two—I have had the strongest possible testimony from someone who is keenly interested in this question and who has had the best possible opportunities for judging. My informant says that the road to-day from the secondary school to the University is open in Aberdeen as never before, and that every child is being given an opportunity for a sounder and more extensive education. Finally, what is extremely interesting and satisfactory, it is found that in these new schools, with their varied alternative courses, many more children are staying after the age of 14.
From the schemes I have seen, there is no question that the bringing into operation of this code means in those counties where it has been adopted increased staff, 1602 increased equipment, improved accommodation, and in scattered areas where a certain amount of centralisation is necessary, a charge for travelling allowances for the children going from their homes to the centralised schools. Therefore, the introduction of the code of last year is putting considerable additional expense on the rural parishes, but I think there is no expense that is so well worth while incurring in Scottish education as the improvement of the alternatives to what we know as the intermediate course. In the cities I submit that the bringing into operation of the code should mean very little additional expense, because their supplementary courses have been more efficient. Probably all that will be necessary will be a closer co-ordination of supplementary courses and intermediate courses, so that there may be, as in all advanced courses there should be, a common core of English subjects, mathematics and science.
Does this seem the moment at which to make a change in the allocation of the grant which, it is quite obvious to anyone who studies the subject, must seriously prejudice the nasal areas? I can imagine that the right hon. Gentleman has been subjected to some pressure on this point. He has behind him many hon. Members interested in the largest of our cities, and I know that those specially concerned with education in the largest of our cities have been anxious that a special grant should be given for the schools provided for children suffering from mental and physical defects. I yield to no one in my recognition of the urgency of making better provision in Scotland as a whole for the mental defectives. I have been doing what I can in my small way, though I fear not with great success, in my own county, and I desire to pay tribute to the work which Glasgow has clone in that respect. But, as I understand it, the reply of the Department to the request of Glasgow for special services was in the negative. The Department did not wish to give a grant for special purposes. They may have refused in appearance but they have given the substance, in giving this additional amount per scholar.
It would have been much better for the mentally defective child if a grant had been given openly as a grant for special services, because then there would have been some inducement to the other 1603 authorities in Scotland to do what they could for their own mental defectives. Here again, we have an example of the rural authorities lagging behind the cities, because if the rural authorities have a mentally defective child it is not a case, as in a city, of just sending that child to a day school, but it is a case of getting the consent of the parent for the child to go away from home, and paying for the board and maintenance of the child. In the action that the Department have taken they have, in a back-handed way, given Glasgow what Glasgow was asking for in respect to its special services.
Scottish education is costly and always will be costly, for three reasons. In the first place, it is costly because of the scattered nature of the population in so many parts of Scotland. Secondly, a fact on which we may congratulate ourselves, we have so very few uncertificated teachers in the service of the authorities. Thirdly, we have a more developed system of bursaries than in England.Reasons two and three press hardly on the areas which come under reason one, namely, the scattered nature of the population. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman how it was that when the Association of Education Authorities was consulted on the allocation of this grant, as I understand it was consulted, that it was not found possible to give the association a clear indication of what the grant per scholar was likely to be. As far as my information goes, the highest likely figure mentioned to the association for the grant per scholar was a figure, the difference between which and the £4 2s. per head represents a difference of £56,000 in the aggregatee. If hon. Members representing rural authorities on the association had known what the figure per scholar was likely to be, I believe they would have criticised the proposal as I am doing now.
The right hon. Gentleman may tell us that this proposal for the allocation of the grant has been before the House. I only learned after I came here to-day that it was embodied in a Minute of his Department which, I understand, has been laid on the Table of the House in the usual way. I was entirely unaware that any Minute on this subject had gone through. I should like to ask the right 1604 hon. Gentleman to reflect on the fact that this Minute appears to have gone through the House without being noticed by any Scottish Member, and to bear that in mind when we consider upstairs some proposals of his own in regard to another subject for increasing the powers of another Department for which he is responsible in Parliament. That is the first criticism that I wish to level at the right hon. Gentleman's administration, namely, the allocation of the grant.
I should like to remind the. Noble Lady that the Minute is still lying on the Table, and if there be anything to which she objects there may be power to put it right.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am glad for that assurance, and I thank the right hon. Gentleman for telling me that the situation is not without hope.
Duchess of ATHOLL
My second criticism is in regard to facilitating authorities giving travelling allowances to children in rural areas. On this question of making it easier for education authorities to send children to the rural schools, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman remembers that his predecessor introduced a Bill which would have enabled education authorities to drive children to school if it could be shown that by doing so that meant greater economy in education by the closing of schools. I am certain that those of us who live in very scattered areas realise that there are some localities in which, if a tiny school could be closed, and the children driven to another school in some conveyance which could be closed on a wet day, it would be a great benefit to the children educationally, and an economy to the education authorities. As matters stand, education authorities really have no power to drive children to a school, and obviously if they close a school, and the children have to go further away beyond the three-mile limit to another school, education authorities must be prepared to spend some of the money, which they save by closing the school, on driving the children to another school.
This question has become one of greater urgency because of the coming into operation of the new code. It does mean the improvement of certain schools in 1605 rural areas in what they offer to the older children, and if these improved facilities are to be brought within reach of all the children there must be more facilities for driving them to school. In my own county we have had £400 expenditure sanctioned for driving children to the new advanced divisional courses, but I believe, as matters stand, that that expenditure might be questioned, and I understand that the attitude of the Department is that it is just closing its eyes to what the authorities are doing in this matter.That is not a very satisfactory position for a Department administering a great and very necessary public service, and I am disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman has not seen his way to re-introduce, with such modifications as might appear to him to be necessary, the Bill which was introduced by his predecessor, but which was lost owing to the General Election.
Finally I wish to express a disappointment that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to see his way to do anything for the street-trading child. I am sure that he cannot forget that some years ago a Departmental Committee which inquired into this subject, was emphatic as to the evil effects on the character and habits of the children caused by street trading, and a Clause was inserted in the Act of 1918 expressly designed to make street trading impossible by young persons under 17, but the right hon. Gentleman must know that it has been found that the Clause was not sufficiently carefully drafted, and that while it makes it impossible for a young person under 17 to be employed by somebody else in street trading, it does not prevent the street trading entirely on his own account; and that means that, while at the present moment the less objectionable form of street trading is not permitted, the form in which the young person is responsible to somebody else and, therefore, subject to a certain measure, however small, of discipline and control, the right hon. Gentleman is to-day obliged to allow street trading, which is subject to no control or discipline whatever.
The predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman two years ago introduced a Bill to give effect to what was the obvious intention of the Education Act in this respect, but that Bill was lost owing to the General Election of 1922. Then his immediate predecessor was ready to in- 1606 troduce a Bill, provided that he was assured of support for it from all quarters of the House, and as the indications were that such a Bill would have support from ell quarters of the House, and certainly from these benches, there was every reason to hope and believe that, had the late Government remained in office, before long we should have had a Bill such as that presented to the House. But the only reply which the right hon. Gentleman has made to inquiry on this subject—and he has been pressed on this subject, not only by questions in this House, but by representations from the Council of Juvenile Organisations in Scotland, which I may remind him is intended to help to keep his conscience on matters concerning juveniles—has been to return nothing more than a blank negative. It seems strange to me that a member of a Ministry representing a party which is not without a very real and genuine interest in the slum child, and which is rather wont to proclaim itself as the only champion of the shun child, has shown such a lack of interest, in the slum child when he becomes a street trader. I do not wish to detain the Committee. It is therefore on those three counts, but more particularly on the first question of the allocation of the grant, which I do feel is going to cause real difficulties, and will not afford the help which rural authorities had the right to expect in view of their great difficulty, and of the increased expenditure entailed on them this year, that I have moved the reduction of this Vote.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
I think it rather unfortunate that Scottish education always comes on for discussion at the dinner hour, when it, is impossible, apparently, for English Members to be present to hear what is said in the House, and it is doubly unfortunate because under the present régime England very largely sets the pace for Scotland. Scotland does not get treated in educational matters according to her merits, but merely in accordance with the demerits of the sister country. But that being so, and it being impossible to remedy it just now, I think that, I am safe in saying that every Member of the Committee has listened with the keenest interest and the greatest pleasure to the two speeches which we have heard already. I join heartily with my hon. Friend the Member for Peebles 1607 (Mr. Westwood) in what he has said with regard to the position which we took up last year in the Debate on Scottish Estimates. I still think that the Education Department made an unwarrantable and uncalled for mistake in changing the name of the certificate which had gained for itself respect in commercial and other quarters. It was one of those things done by a Department when it finds itself in the position that it must do something to show that it is there. The change of name means no advantage whatever.
Then he has spoken about the advanced department not being quite what it ought to be. The children of the country ought to have a fair chance all round, but to demand as a condition of making the grant a, guarantee that the child should be continued at school for five years is, as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out, impossible as far as the majority of parents are concerned, and, apart from that, it seems antagonistic to the Department's own policy. In a few minutes I shall say something with regard to the regulations for the training of teachers. There, in order I suppose to support their own position, the Department made a strong point by saying the two years' teaching should be on such lines that the student will be able to continue and to take a degree later on. That is exactly what we are asking with regard to the schools of the country, that the school for the child up to 15 should be such a school as would enable that child to go further if opportunity and ability warrant.
On one other point raised by my hon. Friend I would like to say that the time has come when we ought to have from the Secretary for Scotland a definite answer, yes, or no. We have put before successive Secretaries for Scotland the claims of the retired teachers, and the time has come when the Secretary for Scotland should be able to say whether he is going to do anything in the matter or not. The teachers have been hoping against hope long enough. If the right hon. Gentleman will at once say "No" we will understand exactly where we are, but it will be unworthy of him and of his past record if he once more puts off with doubtful words the claim which has been urged on him more than once already. I appreciate keenly the speech of the Noble Lady 1608 who has just spoken. She speaks not only with knowledge of administration but with knowledge of the great principles which must underlie all educational systems. Practical experience gives to her words an authority which very few of the Scottish Members can claim. I do not enter into the contest between the urban and the rural districts for a larger proportion of the money. I confine myself entirely to the battle ground of the subject which has been chosen by the Department itself. The Department has issued a memorandum explaining its policy in the past and seeking to justify it for the future. The first sentence in the memorandum makes a not inconsiderable claim. It says:The regulations now presented to Parliament constitute the most important advance that has been made in connection with the training of teachers since the introduction of the existing system in 1906.The point is this: Advance may be actual and positive or it may be only relative If the Department claims that these Regulations mark the greatest advance that has been made, it by no means follows that that advance is in itself great. I say that the Regulations do not in any essential particular mark any advance worthy of the name with regard to the training of teachers in Scotland. Take the points as they arise in these Regulations. We have first the claim that the standard of entrants to the profession is being raised. I do not like to weary hon. Members by quoting technical terms, but in these Regulations, or in the memorandum, we have a strong point made that by the setting down of the leaving certificate as the entrance to the profession, as against the old junior student's certificate, a very great advance has been made. If the Department had made that Regulation 10 years ago it could have claimed an advance. But the Department is coming forward now and claiming merit after the thing had really solved itself. The entrants to the teaching profession in Scotland, without the assistance of the Department, and almost with the opposition of the Department, have proved themselves equal to the winning of the leaving certificate.
The next claim is that the Department has made it essential for every man who enters the teaching profession to be a graduate or to have some equivalent qualification. That might be regarded 1609 in itself as good, but there again the Department is coming in long after the question has solved itself. The men teachers of Scotland are graduating. They would all graduate, with one or two exceptions, without these Regulations. This is again a matter where the Department is not marking an advance, but simply recording the advance which has already been made. I take very strong exception to these Regulations. I would like to see them withdrawn entirely. They are not essential in any way to secure an improvement in Scottish education, but they bring up a very vexed question which will trouble Scotland for many a long day to come. We are living in an era of equality between the sexes. There is before the House a Bill, which will probably be passed, adding 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 voters to the electorate in the name of sex equality, At a time when all the professions have been thrown open on equal terms to the two sexes, we have the Scottish Education Department coming forward and quite unnecessarily introducing a discordant note into the teaching profession. The Department is claiming as an advance that the men teachers are all to be graduates. But the women teachers are to have a two years' course, as before. The men teachers were becoming graduates, but now we have the one sex stamped as inferior to the other.
The Regulations, in essence, say to the teachers and people of Scotland, "We have no room in our primary schools for one man teacher unless he has graduated, but we allow an unlimited percentage of women who have had only a two years' course." The women are to be placed in a false and invidious and inferior position by these Regulations It has been done without the slightest necessity for it, and without the hope that the Regulations will do anything to advance the best interests of Scottish education. I challenge the claim that these two things mark any advance. There is another point on which the Memorandum prefacing the Regulations claims an advance, and that is in regard to the size of classes. The proposals of the Department are retrograde. Last year we had a keen discussion in the House on the question of the size of classes. We wanted equality between the classes in the advanced departments and the intermediate or secondary schools. We 1610 get that equality. How? Not by lowering the number in the one, but by raising the number in the other, a thing that no Scotsman ever expected the Department to be a party to. More than 10 years ago the Scottish Education Department put forward a scheme whereby the maximum number in a class was to be 50. School Boards were to be encouraged and rewarded in proportion as they brought that number down to 40. What is the position to-day? The legal number of pupils in a class is 60, a larger number than in almost any other civilised country. We are to have that stereotyped for at least four years. Even then the Department is not free from blame.
I am not criticising the Department unfairly, but merely dealing with the Memorandum issued by the Department to justify its policy and possibly to gain confidence for carrying on that policy in the future. They say that for four years at least to come the legal number of pupils in a class is to be 60, going back upon the proposals of more than 10 years ago, when the number was to be very considerably reduced and very possibly to 40 as a maximum. I hope the Secretary for Scotland or his advisers will be able to give a definite answer to the question which I am about to put, We have in the Memorandum reference to the fact that 60 is to continue to be the legal number of pupils in a class, but even then people do not know where they are in regard to this matter. It would have been easy for the Department to have said that there were to be 60 pupils on the rolls or 60 pupils in average attendance, and there would have been no mistake as to their meaning, but in the code we have these words:There shall not be more than 60 pupils habitually under the charge of any teacher.What does that mean? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean by the notices which he is giving to the authorities that there are to be 60 pupils on the roll or 60 in average attendance? I am sorry to say that so far as the Scottish Education Department have been called upon to interpret their own words, they have interpreted those words as meaning 60 pupils in average attendance. That means that the over-driven teachers of Scotland may be called upon to teach practically all through the year classes of between 65 and 70. I wish a definite answer to the 1611 question: Is the maximum number to be 60 on the rolls or an average attendance of 60? This whole system is wrong. The time has come, and is years overdue, when those numbers should have been reduced, and the policy which I suggest to my right hon. Friend is that he should, from now onwards, lay it down that the maximum number is to be 50, not to be exceeded unless in very exceptional eases, owing to the structure of the buildings or something of that sort. It should be made perfectly clear that no authority was to be allowed to ask its teachers to teach the classes which are possible under the Regulations at the present time.
The Memorandum also mentions the question of raising the school age. We are told the Department is sympathetic to that proposal, and I am sure the Secretary for Scotland is personally sympathetic, but, even here, the Department have not made their position quite clear. They say there are two great obstacles to the raising of the school age at present, one being the question of accommodation and the other the question of proper staff. They have left, out one of the most important considerations, namely, the question of finance. It would be, almost impossible for Scotland to raise the age unless England did the same, otherwise the whole expense would fall upon Scotland and not in any way upon the Treasury. Therefore I suggest that my right hon. Friend should consider the whole matter of grants for education to Scotland, in order to see if he cannot devise some system whereby Scotland will be encouraged to go on and raise the age. I may have appeared to criticise rather severely some of the statements in the Memorandum, but, unfortunately, we have not time to pay the compliments to the Department which we might otherwise be inclined to pay. I do not question, and I am sure no one questions, my right hon. Friend's enthusiasm, his zeal and his good wishes for the success of Scottish education. I have heard him speak with most convincing eloquence on what has been done in Scotland and what would still be done but I would remind him that he now occupies a different position from that which he occupied in the old days. We now look to him not merely for words, but for deeds, and at the end of his term in his present office—which 1612 we hope he, will only vacate in order to take up a higher office—we are not going to be content with mere words, but we shall look for performance as well. We have had many professions of good intentions. I hope my right hon. Friends will not go to pave a certain place which might well be left unpaved
§ Mr. NICHOL
I should like to call the attention of the Committee to another aspect of educational administration in Scotland. I do not wish to traverse the arguments of previous speakers but, in passing, I should like to say that, if the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) instead of devoting her speech to the question of the sharing out of the Education (Scotland) Fund and to demanding a bigger share for Perthshire at the expense of other parts, had made a proposal that another million should be spent on education in Scotland I should have been very pleased to support that proposal. I feel we do not expend very much money on education in Scotland. I was speaking to a Glasgow ratepayer last evening and I asked him what he paid in rates for education. The cost, in rates to him as a householder worked out at 2d. per child per week and the national contribution works out at about 2½d. per child per week and if we are spending 4½d. per child per week on education in Scotland we are not doing anything about Which we can crow very loudly.
With regard to the proposed advanced courses which gained such laudatory notice in the Memorandum to the Report, I call the attention of the Noble Lady to the fact that the very Regulations which were laid on the Table and issued from the Vote Office to-day draw a distinction between the new advanced courses and the intermediate and secondary schools. If she cares to look at Article 39, on page 16 of the draft Regulations issued to-day, and presently lying on the Table of the House for approval, she will discover that it is there very clearly laid down that it will he a teacher with much lower qualifications who is responsible for the education in these advanced courses as compared with Chapter V teachers, which are demanded for intermediate and secondary schools, and if it is the case in Perthshire that she can instance two schools, one an intermediate, very poorly staffed school, and the other an advanced, 1613 but rather better staffed school, all that I can say is that there must be a great deal of meanness on the part of the Perthshire authorities, because it means that they are breaking the Regulations so far as their intermediate school is concerned. I should say, also, that every promise that is being made at present about the correlation of the new advanced course, so that a child can move into an intermediate school and go on to a secondary school, was made when the now discredited supplementary course was put forward in this House, but everyone who knows anything about the subject knows quite well that, although these promises are made by Departmental officials or by responsible Ministers in this House, the inherent qualities of the problem itself are going to make these new advanced courses an inferior substitute for secondary education, which is going to be foisted on the working classes in Scotland. I think it could be described in even stronger terms, but I will leave it at that in the meantime.
I want to call attention to the only line of advance in Scottish education on which I think it is worth while this Committee spending time. So far as Scotland is concerned, it is an administrative point, although it would require new legislation if it were attempted to apply it to England, I refer to the Section in the 1918 Scotland Act by which the school-leaving age in Scotland at the present moment is, legally, 15 years, but what has happened since 1918 is that we have not had a head of the Scottish Education Department, a Secretary for Scotland, who has had the courage to put the law into force. The Act 1ays down that the Secretary for Scotland shall name an appointed date on which that Section of the Act shall come into force, and we have not yet had a Secretary for Scotland who has done so. I feel very much disappointed that this thing has not been done. It was approved by every section of the House when the matter was fully discussed, and I felt that when we did come to the point of having the first Labour Secretary for Scotland, he would have taken this necessary step. I appeal to him to take this step, and I will put forward one or two grounds why he should name the appointed day, and why it should be named as some time soon—I would suggest the 1st January, 1925. The plight of the children who leave 1614 school is a subject that was under discussion in this House only a few weeks ago, and by one of the most unanimous votes—I think the whole House who voted, against three or four—it was decided by every party in the House that we would not, by bringing them under the Unemployment Insurance Act at 14 years of age, label every boy and girl in the country as being a part of the industrial machine. Every argument put forward then was an argument for an advance in the school-leaving age.
What is the actual position? We find it extremely difficult to get accurate statistics about children between 14 and 16. Up to 14, we get the information from the Education Department, and after is we get it from the Ministry of Labour, but between these two ages the thing is very largely a blank. A very interesting private inquiry was made in Cardiff two weeks ago, which showed a very grave state of affairs as far as the children of these ages are concerned, but I want to give one more instance that has already been refereed to in another Debate by one of my hon. Friends on these benches. Last winter the headmaster of one of the continuation schools in an industrial town in Lanarkshire made an investigation of every child who came to the evening continuation classes, a total of about 500, who had not left the school for more than 12 months; that is, roughly speaking, the boys and girls between 14 and 15. He inquired as to how they were employed, where they were employed, and what they were employed at, and he discovered that only 13 per cent of these children between 14 and 15 were in employment at all. When they were asked what they were doing, they said they were knocking about looking for a job. So far as the actual type of employment is concerned, even of the 13 per cent. who were employed, most of them were employed in stop-gap, blind alley ways, which they had no intention of following up, and, indeed, they came to the continuation classes so that they could throw them overboard as soon as possible. This matter, therefore, is really a question of the tragic plight of the children themselves.
I am afraid I feel that this Debate has been too much about administration and too much—if I may say so, as a teacher myself—about teachers. I think we ought to get back again to the condition of the children themselves, and, so 1615 far as these children are concerned, I am making this plea to the Secretary for Scotland, that on his shoulders lies this problem and the correct solution of the problem. He does not need to come and ask us to pass a one-Clause Bill, and use up Parliamentary time in doing it, for he could settle the point to-morrow with a stroke of the pen and his own signature. I have tried to show that these children are being wasted at present. The custom in skilled trades, at least, in the West of Scotland, is that the employers in the big industries, and especially in the heavy steel and iron industries, refuse to accept apprentices until they are 16 years of age. It has been found that the very young apprentice is a danger to the other workmen in the works, and that he is not a very economic instrument so far as the employers are concerned, and in some places it is a rule, but all over Scotland it is a very general custom, that nobody is apprenticed in the skilled trades until 16 years of age, so that there again is another argument for putting forward the school-leaving age to some extent—I am only suggesting to 15 in the meantime.
From the point of view of employment, I am going to assert that no time is more opportune for making this real educational advance than the present moment. I would ask hon. Members who have the Report to look at page 1 of the Report on Education in Scotland, and they will see there that the number of pupils recorded as attending the Scottish schools is the lowest recorded since 1908 in absolute numbers, but we have to go back to the year 1902 to find any similar low number so far as the children under 14 are concerned. If hon. Members look at page 6, they will see emphasised the reason for the low numbers in the schools at present—and this deals with the chief objection against raising the school age, which has been the question of the supply of teachers and the question of school accommodation. There is going to be less pressure under these two heads for the next six years than there has been at any time since the educational advance has been made in Scotland. Most Members of the Committee are quite well aware of what has happened, and they will find it very neatly detailed in an Appendix which shows the birth rates back to 1908 and the children attending 1616 school. It is in Table 2, Appendix V, but it is very aptly summed up in a sentence on page 6 of the Education Department's own Report. It points out that the decline is due to the low birth-rate during the War years, and while the War babies, as we might call them, will be starting to come into the schools, the cumulative effect of the years of low birth-rate is such, that there is going to be a steady decline in the number of children from 5 to 14 up to the year 1930. The actual words of the Report are:The decline is unlikely to be appreciably arrested before 1930, when the lean generations of the war period will have begun to pass out and to be replaced by what should, in normal circumstances, be a more abundant succession of new entrants.9.0 P.M.
As that barrier, which has always stood in the way, owing to constant pressure of school population, is removed for the next six years, I do put forward the plea that was put forward by Parliament in 1918. The difficulties, I have said, are mainly those of school accommodation and the supply of teachers. So far as the supply of teachers is concerned, I think one method that might be used for the first few years, and used quite successfully, would be that the superannuation age for teachers should not be enforced. I do not think that anyone would suggest, that the hon. Member for Partick (Mr. A. Young) is not a very fit and proper person still to have carried on the Canongatē School in Edinburgh. I suggest he is a fairly healthy specimen, and that there are many such who are fit and willing. That, then, is one method of getting rid of the difficulty. So far as school accommodation is concerned, the pressure will not be so great, but in the past we have been up against this difficulty. I have taught in a tin hall, and all sorts of buildings, but I do not think the teaching there was very much poorer than it was in any other school, although I admit that a properly equipped building is very much to be preferred. I suggest that at this time the difficulties are fewer than they are likely to be in the future. Appendix No. 5 of the Report shows that the problem we are up against is in the provision of accommodation for 90,000 children who are between 13 and 14, and who would be the children who would stay on at school. Looking at Table I, it will be seen that 20,000 are already accommodated in 1617 primary schools, that 4,000, roughly, are accommodated in the primary departments of intermediate schools, and 3,400 in the preparatory departments of secondary schools. In the intermediate and secondary departments of these schools, we have another 17,000 accommodated. I admit that of the 20,000 in primary schools, some are probably waiting for a leaving date, but the accommodation for that number exists, and we have only got to provide for rather more than 50,000 new pupils, and I am told that many of the education authorities have accommodation in their secondary schools and in their intermediate schools, that is in no way overcrowded or even adequately filled. From that point of view, again, I suggest the time is now ripe for the enacting of this advance. I disagree entirely with the policy of the Government in this matter. I think it is a policy—and this applies to both countries—which is—I can hardly say more cowardly but which is less courageous than any educational reform since the year 1870. Instead of the Government taking the onus of raising the school age, they are leaving it to the local authorities, with the result that in this country, after five months, as I was informed in reply to a question I put to the Minister of Education to-day, only two local authorities have proposed bye-laws to put up the age to 15. That is a policy of running away from the problem. The whole educational problem of the present Government ought to be revised. Instead of publishing pamphlets about what they are going to do, they ought to do something. I think it is a quite unfair, undemocratic policy to put the onus of the decision on the local authorities, because if one local authority raises the age to 15, and a neighbouring borough keeps to 14, the children in the neighbouring borough feel a grievance. They do not mind going on till 15, but they object to one getting different treatment from the other. The question of grants will arise in the same way.
There is one last point in connection with the raising of the school age to which I should like to draw attention. It. is not so much the technical difficulties of the school accommodation, or of the supply of teachers, or anything of that kind, but it is a question of the parent of the child, because, undoubtedly, in 1618 these days of low wages, when in many of the industrial districts the labourer's wage is round about 32s. or 33s. a week, the question of keeping children for another year at school is a handicap. There is not much chance of the child at 14 getting a job, but even the meagre chance it has of earning 2s. or 3s. a week is a bait which a parent, who is only bringing in 30s. or 35s. a week, feels is something he must get, merely to relieve their physical wants. Under the Insurance Bill introduced into the House, and now departed from, there was an allowance of 5s in the case of boys and 4s. in the case of girls if unemployed. I suggest that some such allowance should be paid. We have the power to make these maintenance allowances. At present, for instance, the Bute and Ayr education authorities give an average rate of £10 per annum to every pupil who has to travel to a central school. The £10 can be spent either in the purchase of a bicycle, a railway ticket, or in any way they care, but is an allowance by which the family is relieved to a very considerable extent. We might provide maintenance allowances of £9 or £10 a year which would be rather less than was proposed under the Insurance Act as insurance benefit. We can help to relieve the necessitous cases likely to arise by putting up the school age. If we were to give to the children the 1s to which reference has been made for attending school, there would be absolutely no difficulty in the case of even the worst slum regions of our great towns of having a very good school attendance. If people object to that method all I can say is that the children have to be kept alive somehow, and if wages are going to be forced down to the present low levels, so far as the labouring population is concerned, we have got to see the children are looked after in other ways.
The Labour party maintains that it believes in education. I have been disappointed, as I have said, bitterly disappointed, with its educational programme during this last five or six months But I am also disappointed with its prospective programme—a programme looking forward at the outside to certain regulations such as are to be put forward, and which everyone who is connected with educational machinery knows are merely stereotyping what has come 1619 about from natural causes, and the proposal that the wildest limits of idealism will perhaps get 50 in a class, instead of 60 or 70 in the year 1928. If that is what we are going to get as the Labour programme for education I am going to be against it. I do feel that, so far as this Debate is concerned, that on this occasion the Scottish position is unique. The power of the Secretary for Scotland is unique. But we seem to know how he will meet us in this matter. With one of his beautiful smiles he will read to us what has been prepared and will tell us that he is dependent upon the English precedent for getting us the equivalent grant. I would only remind the right hon. Gentleman that we passed from that position in 1918 when the House passed a law raising the leaving age of the children in England from 13 to 14, and in Scotland from 14 to 15. That was one of the disabilities we knew we were going to be under. I have always contended it was an unfair disability. I am not going to contend though, that because the disability is unfair, that the people who are going to suffer under it are the children. I suggest that even with the rating difficulty, with educational rates, that now we can go ahead if we have the courage. I would appeal to the Secretary for Scotland, and remind him that he will get the full support of everybody who is interested in unemployment, and everybody who is interested in the welfare of the children, and if he gets these two forces behind him in working for the children I am perfectly certain he will go clown in Scottish history as the most successful Scottish Secretary we have had.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I most sincerely and honestly offer the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down my warmest thanks for the speech that he has just made, for though on many of the points on which he has spoken I disagree with him very markedly, yet from the beginning to the end of his speech he has spoken words of sympathy in this work which come from his heart. I do not know whether it is failing of intellect that makes me on these occasions of educational debate feel rather as if I were going back to the terrible strain of school drudgery that we used to have in our early days. We may talk of those days as pleasant days but they were burdensome and boring. The debates in this House are very apt to my 1620 mind to be exactly of the same nature. I look back upon what may be thought by seine to be an ill-spent life because I myself was responsible as head of the Department for 20 years for many of these things which have been criticised. I suppose I had a good deal to do in the way of giving forth circulars, regulations, codes, statistics and all that sort of thing. I got through it some how, but there are some heavy tomes in the library of the House for which I am responsible and which I sometimes read with some misgiving.
There is something, however, after all, in the subject which we call education and the human interest in it may surely make it something brighter than it appears in our debates. We have surely heard too much to-night as to the character of the circulars or methods, and attacks upon regulations about minor matters. We had an eloquent speech from the hon. Member for Peebles and Southern (Mr. Westwood). He told us that his aim was to get back to the old times and to that which savoured of the national traditions of Scotland. But how does he, propose to do this? He spoke a great deal about an intermediate certificate, the disappearance of which he laments. But really does the hon. Member realise what this intermediate certificate is? It is after all a mushroom invention and has no connection with any old Scottish tradition. Of late years we have worked hard at inventing new certificates. I did a good deal that way myself and I have sometimes doubted whether I did not deserve to have been shot from behind a hedge for the torture I caused to hundreds of thousands by these examinations. Mercifully they spared me. But really we need something else to talk about when we speak of the great work that we have to do, beyond endless party criticism about whether this or that draft is or is not to the point. I have no prejudice in favour of a Department which has changed many of my own customs and traditions into what they conceive to be something better. But in their new scheme of abandoning this mushroom certificate I see an attempt to get back to the real spirit of what we tried to do in the old days for Scotland for our younger generation. I would beseech hon. Members who take part in these Debates long after I am gone never to forget the 1621 tradition of the old parochial school of Scotland. I am not fond of the word "democracy" and I do not know exactly what it expresses, but if it means popular advance, full liberty, and equality of opportunity and a sense of innate responsibility, I say never was there a more popular, a more free or a more equal institution in any country than the old parish school of Scotland. That school solved many of the great social problems of Scotland. Through the parish school system the lowest may rise to the highest if he only has the grit in him to try to rise. That was the solution of the great social difficulty of the past in Scotland.
Over and over again I have seen in my own experience in England men checked at every turn of their career, for whom if they had had the opportunity of the old parish school system there would have been a comparatively easy passage, and no friction would have occurred. That is what the Department are trying to get. We do not want these intermediate certificates, and secondary and other departments. Do let us forget these distinctions. There should he in every school an opportunity for a boy testing his ability and catching on to something higher if he has the ability, and we should open the door as widely as possible to all these boys. I east to the wind all these petty objections that have been raised because we are trying to get back into our school the real spirit of the old parish school, where all were equal and where all had equal opportunity.
The hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Nichol) spoke with great force upon the question of continuing the attendance of children up to the age of 15. He gave striking reasons in pointing out that in certain skilled employments apprentices of an earlier age were not taken. I agree that we should do everything in our power to induce these children to stay on at school. I agree with him entirely that there are or ought to be quite enough teachers and accommodation, and neither of those causes would make me hesitate to support the hue Member. If we have not enough school accommodation we ought to have, and if we have not enough teachers we ought to provide them, but do not bother too much about drawing very clear distinctions as to exactly the number of children a teacher can take. I was 1622 brought up in the pre-educational era in the High School of Glasgow, and it was a most excellent but certainly not a stimulating institution. There a great deal of my time was spent nominally in listening to class work, and really in reading a great many of Scott's novels. I remember going to Glasgow University at the age of 14, and entering into a class of 150 students of all ages and drawn from all ranks of life. The very size of that class was an influence that brought us into an atmosphere of energy and emulation.
§ Mr. NICHOL
Is it not the practice at the Glasgow University to have classes of 200 or 300 students? It. is, however, quite a different matter when you are dealing with infants of five or six years of age and children up to the age of 13.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
No, T was not, but an extremely backward school boy. In these large classes you have an advantage of emulation amongst people of all classes and stages of intellectual development. We should remember that part of education which is very useful to boys and girls is the little wholesome neglect where they left you to your own devices. Do not think that you inquire the immediate attention of the teacher at every moment because that is not the very best way of developing your character or your advancing education. It is most desirable that these boys—who ought certainly, instead of being idle, to be kept on at school—should be kept on at school until they are fit to enter a high sort of employment and not merely blind alleys. I agree that no difficulty of accommodation and no difficulty as to the number of teachers should put a stop to it. But I think there is one method of doing it which we have pursued almost to death, that of compulsion. When compulsion was established by the Act of 1872, I remember sitting under the gallery—the "dovecot" that an hon Member referred to—helping the Minister in charge to the best of my limited power and I knew what was in the thoughts of the leaders in that effort. They thought that compulsion, which had its faults, would prove its usefulness by making itself unnecessary. They knew its dis- 1623 advantages. Surely, now, after 50 years or more, if it were so inefficacious, that people cannot now learn the advantages of education for their children, it is time that we should try to see whether we cannot get on with a little less of compulsion. Compel people, and you stir up that innate tendency which is in human nature to dislike doing what they are forced to do. Are you sure that you will not destroy that first-help and first motive power in education—enthusiasm for the subject? If you compel big boys and girls of 15, 16 or 17 years of age, take care you do not produce a powerful reaction in their minds.
I do not want to indulge my own interest in the subject and in my own reminiscences by speaking at undue length. Points have been referred to on the question of the training of teachers. Can we lay down one hard and fast rule for all? Are there not faculties to differentiate? I am not sure, but I think that of all infant school teachers the best is the best class of woman teacher. She has tact and insight, and intuition which is far superior, in an infant school, to anything which can be found in our sex. Would you try these teachers, after all, by the certificates they have obtained, and the schedules of work they have done? Many of these teachers we are told come out not fully trained in all the specific subjects in which they might have been trained. Does any one of us want to be trained in every possible subject? Cannot we make ourselves fit, with ordinary intelligence, in the ordinary subjects of an elementary school, without being specially trained—and these have been mentioned—in handiwork, in music, in sewing, and in some other miscellaneous matters? Was the old parochial teacher an expert in handiwork? Did he know how to sew? What he did was to know something about all the subjects that his pupils had to learn. He would not have liked any specially-qualified person to come in and take out of his hands a certain part of the teaching. He knew where he was defective, and he know where he could remedy his defects, but he took care to have the whole intellectual guidance of his pupils in his own hands, and that was what made him a creator and a builder-up of character, and 1624 that was far more. The old parochial teacher knew every intellectual interest and every trait in the character of his pupils, and that was what made him useful, Do not let us forget that teacher's tradition, and do not let us enslave ourselves by rules and schedules, made hide-bound, when considering the real essence of the work we have to do for the younger generation.
§ Sir MURDOCH MACDONALD
I would call attention to a Minute of the Scottish Education Department, providing for the payment of grants from the Education Fund for the coming year. It is made up on the attendance sheets of scholars on the 31st July of this year, but as this subject has already been referred to, I do not propose, except in a small particular, to deal further with the matter. The Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) has spoken in regard to this particular matter. The point was that the rural areas in Scotland were likely, under this Minute, to be prejudicially affected in so far as the division of money between the rural and the urban areas was made under the Minute—that a less sum would be given to the rural areas now, than was given in former years. An interjection was made in the course of the Noble Lady's speech to the effect that nothing should be taken from Glasgow. I am sure, speaking for myself, no one would wish to take anything from Glasgow or any other urban area. This is not a question of taking anything away. It is a question of not giving what Glasgow or any other area is not entitled to. Last year the figures under the main headings were £3 15s. for scholars and £123 for teachers. Some short time ago the education authorities were enabled to increase the amount for scholars from £3 15s. to £3 17s., and thence to £4 0s. 6d. and the teachers' grant was increased by £3 10s. to £126 10s. The relative percentages of increase on these figures is not the same, and the Noble Lady pointed that fact out. But further money has since become available, and the grant for scholars has been increased from £4 0s. 6d. to £4 2s. without any corresponding grant being made on the teachers' side, and as the rural areas depend on the teachers' grant to balance the amount that they get as compared with urban areas, undoubtedly hardship 1625 will be inflicted on them unless this matter can be put right. The extra 2s. for 750,000 scholars in Scotland represents a sum of £75,000 in excess; that £75,000 really ought not to be given under that particular heading; it ought to be distributed among the others, and mainly under the teachers' heading, increasing their grant from £126 10s. to £130. It would not take anything away from any urban areas if this amount were properly allocated. The Secretary for Scotland said that this Minute was still lying on the Table, and I was very glad to hear it, but when I took the Minute up again I found the words:This Minute, having been presented to Parliament on the sixth May, nineteen twenty-four, and having laid for not less than one month on the Table of both Houses of Parliament in accordance with Section 21 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, has duly come into force.I am glad indeed to know that that is really not correct and that the Secretary for Scotland is still entitled to revise the figures as he promised the Noble Lady he would do. I do not say that he promised he would actually change the figures; what he did promise was that he would fully consider the matter, and I do not wish to imply that he went to the length of saying that he would change the figures. I suggest that an error has been made in dealing with that extra 2s. It was found, I conceive, after the original figures were produced that there were fewer scholars to be paid for than had been imagined to be in existence, and that left a balance of money unallocated. That balance was allocated to the scholars' side instead of being divided proportionately between the scholars and the teachers' sides. Of course, the whole of the money goes to the education authorities in each area, to be divided equally, and I hope, therefore, that the Secretary for Scotland, when he implements his promise to the Noble Lady the Member for Perthshire to reconsider this matter, will see his way to increase the amount for teachers from £126 10s. to £130, which, I respectfully suggest, the amount ought to be.
§ Mr. F. C. THOMSON
I will not detain the right hon. Gentleman for more than a minute or two. I remember that last year I was responsible for making a speech on education, and I got into rather hot water for the extreme length of my remarks. I shall now be as brief 1626 as I can. Will the right hon. Gentleman clear up the mystery with regard to this Minute dealing with the allocation of the grant. Has the time for the Minute to lie on the Table expired, or is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the question? He will be expected to reply to that when he answers on the general Debate. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) has left the House, because I wanted to refer to something he said. His speeches on education are always interesting, and it is somewhat remarkable that he who has been addressing us to-day sat in what is known as "the dove cot" when Lord Advocate Young was piloting the Education Bill of 1872 through the House.
I was very much interested in what the right hon. Gentleman said about the size of classes. Sixty years ago in Scotland classes of 100 were quite common and it seems remarkable that boys learnt as much as they did. I am perfectly certain there was a great mass to whom very little instruction was imparted, but it is certainly true there were always at the top of the class 10 or 12 boys whose attainments were very high and the competition amongst whom was very keen. I remember looking at a prize list dated 100 years ago of my old school the Edinburgh Academy, and I was struck by the extraordinary excellence of the compositions and prize poems written by the boys in classes of over 100. While that system was of great value to those boys, I cannot help thinking that the boys in the middle of the classy—like Sir Walter Scott and others—did not get a great deal of instruction in their school days. Sir Walter Scott made good use of his opportunities, as did my right hon. Friend, by reading all sorts of literature surreptitiously under the desk. As we know very well, it is a, most remarkable thing that Scott, in writing in his journal, for instance, could not make the smallest entry, even one of three or four lines, without quoting some bit of poetry, sometimes from an obscure and sometimes from a well-known author. His mind was stored in a phenomenal way, and no doubt a great deal of that knowledge he acquired while sitting in his class at the High School at Edinburgh.
I think that, as my right hon. Friend has said, the old parish school in Scot 1627 land was one of the most marvelous educational institutions the world has ever seen. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Partick (Mr. A. Young), who has had a great deal of experience in primary school work, will agree with me, but I think the Code which was put into force last summer does really do something to help to restore the parish school in the country districts to some-think like its old position. It is provided, as indicated on page 4 of the Report, that advanced divisions may be conducted in any school where the education authority decides to institute them, provided that the curriculum, staffing, accommodation, and so on, are approved by the Department. There is a desire, and a possibility under the new arrangements of the Code, that, if a master is a good man, he will be able to carry a boy or girl with great advantage and profit much further than is possible under the old Regulations. I think the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) disputed the fact, but I think it is quite certain that the new advanced divisions are a very great improvement on the old supplementary courses which prevailed before the Code came into force. There is much greater flexibility and variety of curriculum, and I think it can be hardly denied that they are in every way a vast improvement. The Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (the Duchess of Atholl) referred with very just appreciation to the work performed by the education authority in my constituency in Aberdeen, and pointed out—and I think it is quite apposite to this Debate to refer to it—that they are the first to have worked out a scheme under the new system. They have a number of elementary schools which together feed an intermediate school—they still call it intermediate, but there is no virtue in the name one way or the other——
§ Mr. THOMSON
That is so. As a matter of fact, the City had two Universities until the year 1860, when they were united, and it has now only one. That system has been worked out there, and I quote it, not from any desire to talk about my own constituency, but because it is the first place in Scotland where the 1628 system has been fully worked out, of these primary schools feeding one school which consists entirely of advanced divisions, the whole town being covered in this way. It has been found already that a boy can pass, after having been one year in the advanced division, into the secondary school and carry on there with adequate success. Moreover, if he has taken French, which is provided for in the advanced division, he can go through the whole three years' advanced course, and then pass into the secondary school, complete two years there, and take the leaving certificate after five years. Those are arrangements which make for flexibility. It is difficult to tell, when a boy or girl is starting in the advanced division, whether they are likely to wish to go on, possibly to the University; and it is quite right that there should be an easy way of getting from the advanced division into the secondary school.
As worked in Aberdeen, these three years' advanced courses are practically the same as the three junior years in the secondary school. In the secondary school there is more language training, but, as I have pointed out, if a boy takes French in his advanced course, he can pass into the secondary school after three years, complete two years there, and sit for the leaving certificate. As the representative a year ago of the Scottish Education Department in this House, hon. Members will recollect that I was fiercely attacked because of the introduction of this new Code and Regulations, but I submit that, after a year's experience, it has been found that it does represent a very substantial educational advance in Scotland. It is a great advance in the rural districts, and also in the towns, and, as more towns work out the scheme which is now operating in Aberdeen, it will be found that Scotland owes a great deal to the distinguished head of the Scottish Education Department for the great part that he had in getting the arrangements for the code successfully negotiated. Of course, there was trouble about the certificates, but, as the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross pointed out, a rose by any other name smells just as sweet, and now the Department have come to an agreement, and we have the senior day-school certificate after three years' training, and the junior certificate after two years.
1629 It is very important—and this is really the underlying idea in the Code—to revivify the personal relationship between master and pupil, to which reference was made by my right hon. Friend. What we have to look to in the future is the development of the teacher's interest in the pupil, and the desire that, so far as possible and under careful inspection, his verdict on the pupil shall be accepted. Such difficulties as arise are being surmounted, and I am not at all ashamed of the humble part I took in being responsible for the introduction of the Code into the House a year ago. Of course, any new thing must be exposed to criticism, and it is right that it should be. The fierce criticism of the proposals in the Code has resulted in many improvements. I hope my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, in his reply, will admit that the Code and the secondary school regulations are really a great advance on the system to which the hon. Member for Peebles would like again to return.
In rising for the purpose of suggesting to the Members of the Committee that we should now finish the Debate on the Education Vote, I would point out that we have five Votes on the Paper, and are still discussing the second of them. I was hopeful that before 11 o'clock we should have been able to get at least four of those Votes, but evidently that is not to be the case. Not only do I rise to suggest that we should finish this discussion, but I want to reply, as briefly as I can, to a number of points which have been put by hon. Members to the Department and myself in the course of an interesting discussion. I cannot remember a more interesting discussion on the Scottish Education Estimates since I became a Member of the House. In the course of it, a number of problems have been raised by the various Members who have spoken. Some of them have been mentioned by more than one speaker, and, while I may use the name of one particular hon. Member in replying to certain of the matters that have been dealt with, I shall reply at the same time to all those who have taken part in the discussion and have mentioned the particular matter in question. In his very eloquent address my hon. Friend the Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) urged that no child should be allowed to attend school without his 1630 physical needs being supplied. With that sentiment I am in complete agreement. To such an extent is that the ease that one of the first jobs I took in hand was the withdrawal of Circular 51 and the issue of Circular 57, with the object in view of seeing that the children attending school are placed in a position of being able to take advantage of the large sums of money we arc spending on education. My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan) mentioned, in rather regretful tones, the disappearance of the intermediate certificate. They evidently thought there was no necessity for its withdrawal, and that certain changes which have been made could have been made, at the same time retaining the certificate. Like them, I regret its disappearance on sentimental grounds.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that the intermediate certificate to which he attaches such deep sentimental and traditional affection is mere mushroom matter not 15 years old?
We are evidently getting side-tracked on to an interesting discussion on sentiment. From the sentimental side I have much sympathy with my hon. Friend, but I am assured that in the development of our educational system we have reached a time when it is absolutely necessary that the change which has been made should be made. Much as we may regret the disappearance of certain things, if they have served their generation they have to disappear and others take their place.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Really, does the right hon. Gentleman know that this intermediate certificate is not 10 years old
Really, we cannot waste any more time over it. The hon. Member for Peebles dealt with the question of the superannuation 10.0 P.M. of teachers, and expressed the hope that I should be in a position to give a more definite reply than on the last occasion when we discussed it. I regret that I am not in a position to give a definite reply at the moment, but I am even more hopeful than I was on that occasion that the present arrangement is of a temporary character and will come to an end in a much shorter time than many hon. Members were inclined to 1631 think the last time we discussed the matter.
§ Mr. D. M. COWAN
We are not dealing with the whole question of superannuation. We are asking that an increased allowance shall be given to men and women who are already 70 years old.
I am dealing with a point put not by the hon. Member but by my hon. Friend the Member for Peebles. On the last occasion we discussed it the hon. Member for the Universities put a very straight question on the point I am now dealing with. In these days he takes up a rather different attitude towards the present holder of the office I hold from that which he was accustomed to do towards a previous holder.
§ Mr. COWAN
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I have never said anything to him that I have not said to his predecessor. I should be glad if he would give me any instance. It is the most absurd statement that could possibly be made. The right hon. Gentleman could not say that from anything he himself has heard.
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Entwistle)
The hon. Member must not get up and speak unless the right hon. Gentleman gives way.
On the last occasion on which we were discussing the point I am now dealing with the hon. Member used almost the same language that he has used to-night in relation to another problem, and he said we ought to get a definite reply from the Secretary for Scotland to-night as to what is to be done with regard to superannuation. That is putting it in a different way from what I ever heard him put it to the late Secretary for Scotland. The last time we discussed the point I told the hon. Member that if I was to go into the point he was putting regarding superannuation, I would take it up with the teachers' representatives themselves, and I am glad to tell him I have arranged to meet the representatives of the teachers next week on these points. That is as definite a reply as I can give him. The teachers who retired prior to 1919 and who have not the same superannuation terms as those who have retired 1632 since that date, naturally feel that they are being very unfairly treated because their superannuation is fixed at a much lower figure. I have arranged to meet their representatives next week also and to discuss the matter with them. The hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan) know that already in order to provide superannuation for the teacher who retired before 1919, the Education (Scotland) Fund has been raided to a certain extent, and it would be difficult either from the Education Department or myself to raid it further without the consent of the education authorities, because the education authorities have a considerable amount of interest in the Education (Scotland) Fund. Arrangements have been made for discussing that matter next week
Another point raised by the hon. Member for Peebles was the question of the training of teachers. In the case of men a four years' course is demanded as against a two years' course for women, and the hon. Member expressed the hope that even yet I should he able to make it at least three years in the case of the women. I have gone very closely into that matter with the Education Department, and I regret that it is impossible to make the course four years for both men and women, or to make it a three years' course in the case of women. I do not take this course, as some hon. Members seem to suggest, because I am attempting to set up a distinction between men and women. That would be against all that I have done in my public career. I have been fighting all along to get the women treated on an equality with the men, and because I happen to-day to hold my present office I am not going to begin to undo the work of my lifetime. The reason why I have come, very reluctantly, to this decision is because I feel that if such an arrangement were made under present conditions there would be such a scarcity of teachers that we should have to employ uncertificated teachers. I have gone as Closely as my hon. Friend into that question, and I can assure him that that is the danger I fear, and rather than run the risk of that danger I have decided, much to my regret, to keep the training course of the women to two years.
Another point, which has been raised deals with the question of the size of 1633 classes. The hon. Member for the Universities (Mr. Cowan) said that the present proposals of the Education Department were worse than the proposals of the Education Department 10 years ago. He pointed out that 10 years ago there was a proposal to reduce the size of the classes to a maximum of 50, but what he did not tell the Committee was that there was such a strong opposition from the education authorities and others that the proposal had to be departed from and could not be carried out.
It could not be carried out because of the opposition that developed against the proposal. I hope that our proposal to-day to reduce the maximum size of classes ultimately to 50 will meet with a better fate. I hope we shall get the consent of all parties and the good will of all parties to our proposal to reduce the size of the classes to a maximum of 60 for the next four years, and thereafter to a maximum of 50.
The hon. Member for East Renfrew (Mr. Nichol) dealt with the question of raising the school age to 15. He said that he was disappointed with the educational policy of the Labour Government and that the Labour Government would be well advised to accept the responsibility of raising the school age from 12, instead of putting it on the education authorities, as is being done in England. He went on to say that in Scotland the case was different, and that it only requires a stroke of the pen; or that the Secretary for Scotland only requires to say that it was to be done, and it would be done. If I was as sure that it could be safely done as is the hon. Member, I have sufficient courage to do it, and I should be as ready to do it as it is possible for him to be, because I claim to be as much interested in education as my hon. Friend or any other hon. Members who have taken part in the discussion. The reason why I have refrained from doing it up to the present time is because I feel that there is not sufficient school accommodation. I think that when the education authorities——
§ Mr. MAXTON
The education authorities got fair warning in the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act and in the Code 1634 previous to that, and there is still a tremendous scarcity of decent schools in Scotland.
I was giving the reasons why I refrained from naming the date that would raise the school age to 15. It is because I believe that there is not sufficient school accommodation, and because I believe that we have not a sufficient number of teachers, and because there is still a considerable number of parents of children who are opposed to a change of this kind.
§ Mr. NICHOL
Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say that, as far as the supply of teachers is concerned, this reform will not be granted until we have thousands of unemployed teachers? Is he going to create teachers and keep them standing unemployed? That would be quite a new proposition.
I would regret, as much ac it is possible for my right hon. Friend to regret, the existence of unemployed teachers, but, as he knows, there has been far less unemployment among teachers than there has been among any other section of the community, and at the moment there are very few unemployed teachers in Scotland. There were two other points mentioned by the Noble Lady the Member for Kinross (Duchess of Atholl), to which I ought to reply. She referred to the desire of the rural areas to obtain larger grants than have been provided for in the estimates of the present year. With her knowledge of the position she will agree that the Board of Education has been very good to the rural areas. If one took time to go into detail on this question it would not be very difficult to prove that the Board has been very good to rural areas. It is true that there has been a larger grant made to the burghs and to the big industrial areas this year than was made last year, but we must not be unmindful of the fact that within recent years the burghs have complained that too much was being done for the rural areas.
Another point which she put was in connection with the circular which had been put on the Table in May last. Frankly, I misunderstood the point which the Noble Lady was raising when I gave the reply which I did. I thought that she was referring to the Regulations that had been laid on the Table, and that there 1635 was plenty of time if she desired to protest against them, and to take the necessary steps to prevent them coming into operation. It was purely and simply a misapprehension on my part. I hope that the Committee will now see its way to give me the Estimate on the assurance that the points which have been put to me in the course of the Debate will receive the closest consideration with the view of seeing whether they can be put into operation or not.
Duchess of ATHOLL
As it is clear from the statement which has just been made that the Minute to which I drew attention, which explains the allocation of the grant, has passed through tin; House, and as, in any case, the education authorities have been notified of what they are to receive under the Minute, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.