HC Deb 17 December 1925 vol 189 cc1699-811

I beg to move: That this House deplores the policy defined in Circular 1371 issued by the Board of Education as calculated to discourage progressive local education authorities and to check an advance in education which appeared to have received the approval of all parties. I move this Resolution on behalf of the Labour party, but it is not to voice any partisan case. I cannot remember a chorus of disapprobation against any act of a Department which was so general, instant and sustained as that against this Circular. It is not only the local education authorities that almost unanimously disapprove of it, it is not only the teaching profession that regards it as a disaster, but, if you take the leadings newspapers in this country, it is quite irrespective of party that they express their objection. The "Yorkshire Post" and the "Manchester Guardian," and even such loyal Conservative organs as the "Observer" and the "Times" declare that the only course for the right hon. Gentleman is to withdraw his Circular. Perhaps the fullest statement of the general feeling is in the Educational Supplement of the "Times" last week, which said: Some 200,000 men and women who have in this way or that some special knowledge of education have not only rejected the scheme as wholly unsound, on the grounds that it destroys the basis of the Burnham Salary Settlement and makes impossible the progressive development of primary and intermediate education, but have freely asserted that the Government have sold the educational pass. My own primary feeling is that of disappointment because the Circular means that I have failed. I thought I had secured agreement throughout society and the consent of all parties to a period of steady expansion in education, not to be checked again in our time by any era of parsimony. I asked for continuity, and, simple that I was, I thought that I had obtained it. When the last General Election came, the Conservative party issued a manifesto in which there was a long passage about education. I need not read it. I can only say that I should have been proud to have written it myself. All through the country the addresses of Conservative candidates contained statements such as this: In education our aims are secondary and university education for every child desirous and capable of taking advantage of it; university training for all teachers; central schools for children over 11 who do not go to the secondary schools; a reduction in the size of classes in elementary schools and the replacement of bad school buildings; teachers' salaries and pensions to he put on a secure basis so that a salary scale, once agreed upon, shall not he departed from. There is a typical address by the candidate for the Borough of Hastings—the right hon. Gentleman himself. Not only were addresses of that kind promulgated in every constituency, but the present Prime Minister, making his principal speech before the election, said: It is very undesirable that the education of our people should be looked upon as a controversial subject and as a subject on which each succeeding Government is likely to adopt a different policy. Continuity is of the utmost importance, and that is why I have thought it right to show to those who may have been in any doubt about it, that the Unionist party, as much as any other party in the country, is resolved to proceed surely, steadily and sanely with the" promotion of sound education for our people. I am sure the President of the Board of Education will net deny that he himself has frequently said that it was the policy of continuity which he wished to follow, and so did the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. I do not suppose there will be any denial on their part. Of course, I took it that these statesmen were saying what they meant and meaning what they said. I was satisfied, and the Labour party during this. Session has offered to the right hon. Gentleman no captious or meticulous criticism. We have not pursued a policy of pinpricks. We have accepted him at his own valuation. When he appealed to the local authorities to put forward their programmes, when he asked them to look forward and to provide progressive and continuous programmes, we read this from him. On 23rd January he met the local authorities, and said: We must proceed on the basis that the grant system is going to remain substan- tially as at present. I do not want any authority to think that it cannot put forward a programme representing all that it really does want to do, for fear that the Board will cut it down in order to equal it to some other less progressive authority. There is no such intention in our mind at all. That was when the right hon. Gentleman was asking the authorities to prepare programmes at any rate by the 31st December. It is not yet the 3lst December, yet the authorities are now told that they have all to cut down their programmes. I and my friends were not even alarmed at the economy stunt of the "Daily Mail" in the summer-trying to revive the good old days of Geddes—because during the summer the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to Woodford and used these words: Those who thought that we should become richer or more stable as a country by stinting education and crippling the instruction of our young people were a most benighted class of human beings. It was absolutely necessary that thrift and economy should be practised in every branch of our Services. Economy in money must be achieved, but the course of education must never be set back; it must go forward from one generation to another. I still thought the statesmen were saying what they meant and meaning what they said. It appears, however, that unknown to us the tide of economy had already reached and submerged the Cabinet. We knew nothing or it. There was no announcement by the Prime Minister, but the President of the Board of Education a fortnight or three weeks ago blurted it out in this new Circular. He has the glory of announcing the new-policy of economy which has its most poignant manifestation in the case of babies under five years of age. What is this Circular 1371? One aspect of it, upon which the right hon. Gentleman lays great stress, is the condemnation of the percentage grant. That is really not the main question, and we here are not in a position to discuss it because we are denied access to the sources of expert opinion.

The last report which we have on the question of the method of the grants is that of the Treasury Committee of 1914, with Sir George Murray as Chairman, upon the findings of which, in favour of the percentage grant, the present system is based. That is the last expert report which the House has received on which to form its opinion in this matter. It is true there is the Meston Committee, which is said to have reported to the Government—a private report, apparently made by the Chairman, so far as we can hear. Before the House can form a proper judgment as to the best system of grants it ought to have the evidence given by all kinds of experts to the Meston Committee, and the general rumour is that 90 per cent. of that evidence was hostile to the block grant and that there was only one Government Department in favour of the system which the right hon. Gentleman is trying to foist upon the country.

The right hon. Gentleman has chosen to prejudge the question. He has announced that the percentage system is to be summarily executed, and we may swallow his conclusions as best we may. That is the sort of administration which older Percies did not appreciate on the Border in the old days, when there was what was known as "Jeddart Justice." Over in Jedburgh, the ancestors of my Scottish friends, if they caught a man whom they did not like, hanged him and then tried him afterwards. That is the system of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has been saying that this Circular is issued in the interests of education. If that be so, it is a very curious Circular. Anybody who reads it will read precious little about education. It is concerned with economy and with nothing else. In only one of its 10 paragraphs does the word "economy" not occur, and it generally occurs two or three times over in a paragraph. The whole argument of the first page deeply deplores the increase of expenditure by £1,260,000 this year, saying that the Government cannot contemplate another increase of expenditure, and that this will not do. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am only arguing that this is an economy and not an education Circular.

Reading the Circular further one finds the statement that the Government have decided to limit the demands made upon the Exchequer next year. One reads of the reductions which the Board of Education proposes to make, although the right hon. Gentleman is very reticent on that point and apparently does not yet know what those reductions are to be. It is also explained how reactionary authorities will be able to save in their rates, but it does not explain how authorities who want to advance will be able to do so under the new system. The right hon. Gentleman says the Circular is in the interests of education. He should have taken the trouble to inform his colleagues that that was the line which he was going to take. I remember an old political story of one of Lord Melbourne's Cabinets. They decided to alter the duty upon corn and, as they left the Cabinet room, Lord Melbourne said to them, "Will it increase the price of corn or decrease it? it does not much matter what we say, but we must all say the same thing." Last night I got hold of the memorandum sent round to Scottish Members, in which they are told what is to be the indirect effect of Circular 1371 upon Scotland. There is not a word about the immense advantages to education in Scotland, but they are told they will learn from it that in the light of the present state of national finances it has been found necessary to place a definite limit on the obligations of the Exchequer in respect of the contributions which public funds can be called upon to make towards the cost of educational services. They are also told— It follows, therefore, that any fresh responsibilities assumed by an authority during the next three years will have to be finances mainly, or it may be entirely, from savings, if a rise in the education rate is to be avoided. This Circular, good or bad, is an economy Circular, telling local authorities that they must stop expansion and expenditure which they were expecting to be able to indulge in during the next year or two. It is a ukase rationing education for the next three years. Let us turn to the basis of the rationing. In the Appendix appears the basis of the new grant—a sum equal to the grant payable for 1924-25 on elementary education less 1 per cent., and other deductions which I put aside for the moment. What does this mean? In 1924 the local authorities of the country were released from the burden of the Geddes parsimony. After three years of cramping and pruning, when they had cut their expenditure to the very bone, they were told they might again begin to go ahead. That is to say, that the local authorities in that year had reached the bottom of their expen- diture, and not only so, but it was a year in which the child population was very small, resulting from the drop in the birth-rate during the War, so that last year was the very lowest year to which under the Geddes system, the expenditure of the local authorities had fallen.

Naturally, when the local authorities, under the policy which I inaugurated, and to which the right hon. Gentleman and the Conservative party also gave their blessing—that is the essential part of it—were told that they could change this policy and could again go forward, they did not reach the expenditure which they wanted in the first year. Many of the things which the whole of society was asking for, such as smaller classes and better schools, could not be done in a year. The local authorities could only just begin, and now, after one year, their expenditure is to be stereotyped at what it was in the first year of this change of policy. No wonder there is an outcry and the Noble Lord has shown some misgivings when he has heard that outcry. The Prime Minister got up and said that, of course, the right hon. Gentleman was going to meet the local authorities and was going to be merciful on details and to discuss details with them, and the Noble Lord most anxiously pointed out that, hidden away in this economic Circular, is a statement that this basis of grant is only a minimum and that he has got a certain amount of money to dispense. But he has not got enough money to dispense to meet anything like the expectations of the local authorities in this year. We know that it is very much below what the local authorities have estimated, because the Circular says so. What a position for the 316 local authorities in this country! Hitherto, if they have decided on new commitments—of course, after consultation with and the agreement of the Board of Education—they could calculate on the grant that they would get.

Now, however big their commitments are, however much they may have been encouraged by the Board of Education, however much they may be merely carrying out Circulars of the Board of Education, each local education authority, if it is going to spend more than the basic grant—and they are all wanting to spend more than the basic grant—must come cap in hand to the Board of Education and ask for special consideration. What a system! 16 that the idea of a party that can govern, that all the local authorities should be scrambling for pennies on the steps of the Board of Education, that the chairmen and the directors of the various local authorities should wait their turn on the President's doormat, and be lucky if they get in first in order that their authority may get the first cut? For the authorities that come late, there will not be anything left. The right hon. Gentleman has misgivings. That is clear, even from the Circular itself. One catastrophe he dreads to face, and that is the breaking of the Burnham settlement which has just been made, that settlement which offers to the country and to the teachers a new era of security. Now the right hon. Gentleman recognises the importance of this, and, after stating the new-basis of the grant, he goes on to say: This sum will be sufficient to provide in general for the payment of grant at the usual percentage on the salaries payable under the Burnham award to the number of teachers employed on the 31st March, 1925. So far so good, but nevertheless a very formidable speech was made the other day by a very important person, no less a person than Sir George Luna, who was the spokesman of the local education authorities on the Burnham Committee. He said this: I tell you deliberately teachers' scales of salaries are in jeopardy all over the country. Many local authorities only accepted them under duress, and many accepted them only on condition that the Government continued to nay the grants then in force. The right hon. Gentleman must have known this when he issued the Circular, because when the Burnham Committee first met in order to discuss the readjustment which has now resulted, one of the first things the panel of the local authorities did was to write to the Board of Education, to the right hon. Gentleman, my predecessor, the Governor-General of India Designate: While the local authorities are prepared to enter upon the formulation of scales, they will not be prepared to assent to publication unless they are satisfied that the financial conditions as to grants are not altered to the prejudice of the local authorities. They went on to say: It is felt … that this is of such vital importance as to justify its being put forward as a condition. This was recognised by Mr. Wood, whose reply was: He, of course, recognises that it is not open to him to treat a conditional, qualified agreement as if it were an unconditional and unqualified one. Therefore, the Board of Education knew that those were the terms under which the local authorities had accepted the settlement, but not only so. The right hon. Gentleman must also have know n the last act of the joint committee of teachers and local authorities when they accepted the Burnham scales and passed this resolution: They accept and adopt the arbitral awards of Lord Burnham, and agree to forward them to the President of the Board of Education as the agreed reports of the respective Standing Joint Committees, subject to payments of grant by the Board being continued on a basis not less than now in force. That is to say, that the right hon. Gentleman must have known that the Burnham settlement was conditional on the continuation of the joint schemes with the local authorities as at present. I do not Ray that he accepted the condition, but what I do say is that he is singularly ill advised to disregard that condition. Take oven at his own valuation the improvement of the grant system which he proposes. Is that improvement anything as compared with the advantage of the peace achieved by the Burnham award? To endanger so great a national settlement for so disputable an advantage is pedantry and not statesmanship. I hope the Burnham award is safe; I hope the whole House will co-operate somehow in saving it. But now I come to the next point, with regard to the teaching profession. If they are to see themselves condemned for another year to crowded classes, if they are to be condemned to go on teaching in insanitary schools, if there is to be a new pinching in all school equipment, the teaching profession is going to be one of the first to protest against it. The right hon. Gentleman is going to provide money enough for the Burnham salaries for the number of teachers employed up to the 31st March, 1925. Is he satisfied with the number of teachers there are now? Does he, or does he not, believe in the continuance of the policy, which was inaugurated last year, of a progressive and rapid reduction of the size of classes? The House will recollect that a Circular was issued last year expecting the local authorities to give immediate consideration to such arrangements as are necessary to secure the elimination within the coming financial year of classes approaching 60, and the Board also expects that the authorities will, without delay, attack the problems of school organisation and school provision with a view to a speedy and substantial reduction in the number of classes over 50 and will formulate specific proposals for that purpose. Nobody who knows about what happens, the rate at which local authorities can do this, supposes that in one year they can get adequate staffing to drive down the numbers in the classes to what they should be. I am certain the right hon. Gentlemen will not pretend that that policy is yet fully carried out throughout the country, and I am certain he knows that in many cases he will have to put considerable pressure upon those authorities in order to get the numbers in these huge classes down to what they should be. What I want to know from him is this: Is he, or is he not, going to repeal this Circular which invites local authorities to go freely ahead in improving the staffing, and makes definite requirements which I thought he accepted from the Administration which he succeeded? Last year the Labour Government laid its plans on the assumption that as a result of this arrangement for an increase of staff to get rid of the big classes, which was approved by the whole House, there would be that increase of staff, and one thing that I did was to admit 5 per cent. more young men and women to training colleges. I knew perfectly well that if the better staffing for which we were asking took place, a year or two hence that increase of numbers would easily be absorbed by the local authorities. In fact, I was a bit afraid that there would not be enough teachers even as it was, but now the staffing development will have to cease, and the classes will have to remain as large as they are now. What we now have to look forward to is again one of those unsatisfactory periods when large numbers of well-trained young men and women will be coming out of the training colleges and will be eating their hearts out for months until they can find places under the local authorities.

I do not want to speak too long, and I leave to my hon. Friends to work out some more of the results of this economy. But the meanest and most unpardonable economy of all is the cutting off of 30s. in the grant for children under five years of age. The right hon. Gentleman says that his justification is that there is a strong social tendency in working-class families to keep children out of school. Probably the social tendencies of all classes to their children is very much the same. If there is a decent home, if there is room enough, if there is a nice clean place as a nursery, above all, if there are mothers or nurses to look after the children, it does not matter very much whether it is a working-class home or his little lordship's nursery in Alnwick Castle. It is better, and we all agree that it in better, that the children should be there rather than in school.

But that is not the problem. What we are thinking of are the mean streets of our cities, of the infants who sit on the kerbstone with their feet in the gutter, and whose mothers are out all day. There are hundreds of thousands of such children whose fate is that. The street is their nursery. It is the opinion of their parents and of the working class—and it ought to be the opinion of every class-that these children will be far better in clean, dry, well-lit schools. In this Circular the right hon. Gentleman takes credit for not going back on the system of restrictions and controls associated with the Circular 1190. That was under my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) when he had to inaugurate what is commonly known as the Geddes policy. Under that policy the Board of Education forbade certain lines of educational advance. For instance, it prohibited nursery schools; it discouraged school-building generally; it had a large number of detailed restrictions, and there wore certain educational subjects which were severely rationed. That is to say, only a certain amount of public money was provided for them. That was a bad system, and the country very gladly discarded it as soon as it got a Government that felt itself strong enough to do so.

I say that was a bad system. But the right hon. Gentleman goes one worse. He rations the whole grant. He stereotypes expenditure to what it was last year. He bars all progress. Well, that is not quite fair. He leaves one loophole. He has got a doctrine of counterbalancing economies. See what the situation is. For three years every local authority in the land has been cutting every kind of expenditure as much as it can. The whole thing is cut to the bone. Every local education authority until last year has been spending its whole time to see if it was going to save in this direction or the other. The small administrative economies that can be made are absolutely trivial, because they have all been done in the last three years of the Geddes period. What does this doctrine of counter-balancing economy mean? It means that if there is a local authority that wants to go in for still better staffing, as it was encouraged to do last year, it can go in for counterbalancing economies. It can dispense with half its scholarships. If it wants new secondary development, the development of secondary schools, as it was encouraged to do last year, as it was encouraged to do until November of this year by this Government, it can do without some frills in education. It can do without medical treatment, do without its clinics, do without the expenditure on school journeys, and things of that sort, things which every local authority knows are making a difference to backward children to an extent which is hardly credible. Local education authorities can economise, and there will be no protest from the Board of Education, the President of the Board of Education will rub his hands and say, "Good people, these! They understand my system of counterbalancing economy."

I say definitely, that I believe a worse period than the Geddes period is beginning. Personally, I prefer Sir Eric Geddes. I like plain, blunt men, who say what they mean and mean what they say. I like Sir Eric Geddes, when he says outright that they have to reduce expenditure on elementary education, which can only be done by raising the lower age-limit, by putting more people under one teacher, and paying the teachers less. There is a good, downright man! I really prefer that to a whole year's speechmaking about the value of education and the need for education and the method of education, and then, at the end of it, a Circular which prevents the development of education.

I want to say clearly what our position is. No one wants to avoid discussion of the best grant system, but the question must not be prejudged, and the House of Commons must have material for its decisions by the publication of expert opinion, which is reported to be overwhelmingly adverse to what the right hon. Gentleman proposes. Our position chiefly is this; As the major effect of the Circular is dismay in every local authority in the country, because it means chaos in all their arrangements, the Circular should be withdrawn at once. We must avoid another period of stagnation, years of disastrous wrangling between the local authority and the Board of Education. If the Circular is withdrawn, that could be avoided. I have no doubt that some suspicion and apprehension is likely to linger in the minds of local authorities, even if it is withdrawn. Much of the good, welcoming spirit which met the right hon. Gentleman when he came to office will be lost. If the Circular is withdrawn—I say this quite distinctly and deliberately—we on this side of the House will do our best to restore concord. [Laughter.] Have I done anything that justifies that laugh? I say, if this Circular is withdrawn, we shall do our best to restore concord, because we still mean, as we meant last year, that it is far the best for this country if education can go forward with the agreement of all parties, as all parties agreed with me last year.

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Lord Eustace Percy)

A good deal of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was of a controversial character, and I shall have to deal with it in the same spirit. Therefore I wish to begin by saying that I appreciate the end of that speech and I appreciate the words, in the Motion before the House, as to the advance in education which appears to have received the approval of all parties. I appreciate that, because I know that the Conservative programme at the last General Election was accepted by all parties as a reasonable and sound programme and policy. I want to say at the outset of my speech that, whatever invective we may have in this House from the benches opposite, whatever agitation we may have in the country outside, I am standing here to-night to defend and preserve that Conservative programme and policy. I have no inten- tion of relinquishing it. I have a good many personal acquaintances on the benches opposite, and I believe that they regard me as sincere. In this matter I think they would do well to ponder whether I may not also be right.

5.0 P.M.

I ought to apologise, before going further, for speaking so very early in the Debate before my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher), but he knows why I do so and he has consented to that course. I regret it all the more, because I am quite sure that the speech of the right hon. Member for the English Universities will offer a great contrast to that of the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan. The right hon. Member for the English Universities knows what it is to deal with educational finance on the present basis. He knows what it is to deal with the percentage grant system. He knows—none better—how short-lived under such conditions is the popularity of a reformer. The right hon. Gentleman for Central Newcastle is more fortunate. I do not want to say anything which would give offence, but after all the right hon. Gentleman at the beginning of his speech said that this meant that he personally had failed. There is so much of the personal element in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman on all occasions that perhaps the House is apt to forget, and perhaps he is himself, that he never had to draw up the Estimates of his Department. He never had to consider the question of finance. It was his happier lot, in his own happy phrase, to reverse the engines of policy, to put his foot on the accelerator. He never needed to inquire, and he certainly never did inquire, how much petrol there was in the engine or what were his prospects of replenishing it. Those whom the gods love die young, but in politics they seldom know how fortunate and highly favoured they are.

The right hon. Gentleman has favoured us with various extracts from my speeches, very judiciously selected, with a view to reflecting on my personal consistency. I am not going to waste the time of the House with that subject. I am going to leave my personal reputation to the judgment of the House and public without a further word. But it might have some bearing on my personal consistency—and it is the key note of what I shall have to say this afternoon—if I read an extract from what I think was the first speech I made on education after I came into office. I quote this from the paper "Education" of the 19th December He had been reminded within the last week of the importance of continuity in our educational advance and felt very deeply his debt to his predecessors at the Board of Education, and he would try to carry out a continuity of policy with them. But it must lie a policy of reality. Unreality was the besetting sin of politicians. No more unreal speech has ever been made to the House than that to which we have listened to-day, as I propose to show. I went on in my speech to describe, as instances of unreality, the anomalies of the present grant system. I am going to ask the House to consider what those anomalies are. That is a question which was not dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman, but it is essential that the House and the country should have a clear knowledge of it.

In the first place us the first supreme and central anomaly of the present grant system you have complete uncertainty in the Board's Estimates from year to year. The Board's Estimates are drawn up on the basis of forecasts by the local education authorities:. In the last three years in which they can be compared with the actual results of the year, these forecasts have beer over-estimated by £8,000,000. £7,000,000 and £2,500,000. What prospect is there of are irate estimating when you are presented with forecasts of that kind—I am not criticising local authorities, I am merely dealing with the facts—and when the overestimating varies between £8,000,000 and £2,500,000 over three years? Moreover, the uncertainty is not confined to these forecasts. The Board's Estimates have to be drawn up and settled before the April estimate of the local authority for the year comes to hand, but even these estimates have snown the following comparison with the actual results of the year. In 1920–21, the April Estimates were under-estimates of £2,879,000. They spent that amount more in the year than they estimated. In the three subsequent years they over-estimated and under-spent by £3,955,000. £4,649,000 and £3,005.000, and that is the basis on which Parliament votes money for education. Could anything more unbusinesslike, be possible?

All this uncertainty in the national system is accompanied by an equal uncertainty in local authorities' programmes. Local authorities equally can never have any real certainty as to the assistance on which they can rely from the Board of Education. The right hon. Gentleman says that when he came into office and reversed the engines he laid his plans for a great increase. With whom? With the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I think not. He had absolutely no assurance of being able to finance the advance for which he went in. If there is one condemnation of the present system which is more striking than another, it is that under the present system it is impossible for the President of the Board of Education to avoid the constant issue of promissory notes, which he has no assurance of ever being able to cash. I have done it and I know it. The difference between the right hon. Gentleman and myself is that he has done it and he does not know it, at least to judge from his speech.

I think I am justified in giving the House an instance. It is a very minor instance, dealing with a very small sum of money, but this is the sort of thing which takes place and is bound to take place under the present system. My predecessor, last year, issued a. circular in which he promised higher grants for adult classes. The Treasury, before he issued that circular, said that they could hold out no hope of a higher provision than £31,000 for the service for 1925–26 and, possibly, not more for subsequent years. That was from the Treasury, under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden). What was the actual cost for 1925–26 of the encouragement which the right hon. Gentleman gave? The actual cost was £36,000—only another £5,000. It sounds very little, but translated into loan charges for secondary schools it would mean a good deal, The right hon. Gentleman's estimate for this encouragement was that, perhaps, it would cost £50,000 before the end of a five years' period. It is costing me £52,000 for next year, which is the second year of the period. I am giving that as an instance of an encouragement with which I quite agreed and which I think was good and which I advocated, but it is an encourage-ment the effect of which has been totally under-estimated, and under the present grant system was bound to be underestimated, because you have no control whatever over the people who are carrying out your policy and who are taking advantage of the encouragement. I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman: for such improvidence, of which I have given this small instance, is inevitable under the present system.

How does he think you can carry on a policy of continuity on such a basis? When I spoke on education in this House, I spoke of continuity with my predecessor and I spoke equally of continuity with my successor. It is not possible to have a policy of continuity on this basis. It cannot really be a continuous policy, and I am determined, and the Government are determined, that education shall really be continuous over a long period of years. [Interruption.] Members opposite really should not make all sorts of obvious interruptions before I have reached the point. I have said that these anomalies arise from lack of control, and that is the fact.

The third anomaly of the present system is complete lack of control of the Board of Education over the growth of expenditure of local authorities. There is an extraordinary idea abroad, and I have heard it in another place within the last few days, that the Board of Education only makes its grants to projects of which it has specifically approved. The most expensive things in education, and the things in which expenditure is increasing most, and the things which cost most, are the things which local authorities do from day to day without prior sanction from the Board at all, such as increased expenditure on existing schools, engagement of new teachers, etc.

There is no control over that from the Board and no possibility under the present system of limiting that expenditure, even if it were desirable to do so. What is the result of that? One authority, by spending money on non-essentials, can attract a grant and does in fact prevent another authority which has a large programme in the future dealing with essentials from getting the grant which is necessary for it. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to talk as if the purse of the Board of Education ware bottomless and he could always have called on his right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley to supply him with all the money he needed.

But he knows perfectly well that from year to year, and from three years to three years, there is a limited amount of money to be spent. The very description which he has given of what he thinks my policy will lead to is the exact description of the policy which he is advocating, the policy which he carried on at the Board, the policy of percentage grants, the policy I have been carrying on, namely, "local authorities scrambling for pennies," and "lucky if they can get in first." That is precisely the present system. A local authority is very lucky if it can get in first, for competition between local authorities—I do not think the right hon. Gentleman realises it—is going on every day.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the reduction in the size of classes. I quite agree. The reduction of the size of these very large classes of 50 to 60—[An HON-MEMBER: "80 to 90!"]—is a most important thing. But if money is limited, if the amount available out of taxation is limited, the money necessary for that may be taken away by an authority which is pursuing an ambitious policy of substituting certificated for uncertificated teachers throughout its whole service.

A statement was made the other day that the issue of Circular 1371, after the Circular issued earlier this year, was a cruel joke, because local authorities who had just prepared their programmes, and hoped to bring them into effect, were prevented from doing so. Yes, it is a cruel joke; it is the cruel joke of the system, as hon. Members will see when I quote the figures, which has swallowed up the money so fast in other directions that the money needed for essentials is no longer there. Under this system, with its innumerable anomalies, experience has shown one thing quite clearly, that there are only two alternative ways of administration. One is a free rein and unlimited funds, and the other is a regime of minute Geddes restrictions on all expenditure.

There is no alternative between the two under the grant system as it stands at the present moment. None has ever been good; none has ever been carried out. There is no middle way between those two. I am not now putting forward any controversial proposition. Let me quote one or two expressions of opinion on the subject of the percentage system, and here let me say I do not bring forward right hon. Gentlemen opposite as witnesses for my solution, but I cite them as witnesses of the evil of the present system. The right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), speaking on 25th June last, in this House, pointed out There is a great deal of weakness in the connection between the State and the local authorities."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1925; col. 1810, Vol. 185.] and he proposed a development of the percentage system by way of establishing standards of cost which could become the basis of grants. In? book on "Grants in Aid," the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Webb), dealing with the principle of limiting the liability of the Exchequer, used these words: What seems pointer, to is an arrangement by which the aggregate amount of all the grants in aid (or, if preferred, of the grants in respect of each of the main services) should be fixed for a term of years (say seven or ten). "Seven or ten," be it observed, not three, as I propose. He goes on to say: The aggregate total so fixed … can then be allocated among the several local authorities upon the basis of whatever index of amount or efficiency of service may be adopted. There is no conflict of opinion as to the evils, and, indeed, no system could possibly be devised outside "Alice in Wonderland" which could so certainly ensure the promotion of expenditure without the promotion of educational improvement. All this my predecessor happily ignores. He said that we in this House are denied access to sources of expert opinion. The right hon. Gentleman administered a percentage grant system for all those months. Is he not an expert on it? Does he not know all the facts I have put forward? What better expert opinion could we have than that of those who have administered the system? Here I am bound again to refer to realities. Educationists who refuse to face the realities of educational finance are merely leading their fellow educationists into a quagmire. We must face the facts of the situation. We must get a financial system which will make educational continuity possible. I have very little reason to congratulate myself upon last year. I misjudged the full extent of the dangers of the present system, but, at any rate, unlike the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I was aware of the dangers, and I did propose a remedy. A year ago I proposed to local authorities, on the very grounds I have now explained to the House, that we should in future base education on a programme of the needs, of local authorities, over three years, and that on that basis a grant should be fixed for the three years. I have issued circulars; I have made speeches, which hon. and right hon. Members opposite are always very ready to criticise, but I think in every circular I have issued, and in almost every speech I have made, whenever I have asked local authorities to consider any particular educational reform, I have asked them to consider it in connection with their programme, so that we might have this winter, or, at any rate, by next Easter, a comprehensive estimate on which we really could base a financial policy.

That was my policy, and, as the right hon. Gentleman has quoted from my address to local authorities, omitting essential words from the passage, let me make a quotation. I there said, that although It would be clearly undesirable to postpone action in particular matters … such as the state of school buildings and the ascertainment and care of defective children." … I did "take the view that, save in exceptional cases, the authorities would be well advised to defer proposals involving far-reaching financial commitments until such proposals can be considered as part of a full programme, and in relation to other programmes. That was the advice which I gave the authorities on the 28th January, but I mis-calculated the possible results of the cumulative action of local authorities in expenditure on a large range of objects. What was my mis-calculation? These figures will be new to the House, and I think they will be surprising. In the White Paper which was laid before the House on the Board of Education Estimates, I estimated for an increase of local expenditure in 1925–26 over 1923–24 of £1,173,000. No voice was raised in the House at that time to say that that was a niggardly Estimate, except that my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher), if I remember aright, said I must remember that I had not allowed for the possible cost of feeding school children in the event of a coal strike. That was the only criticism on my Estimate. We now know, as against that Estimate, that the increase in local expenditure in 1924–25 was £1,400,000. On the basis of the October estimate of local authorities, the increase in 1925–26 over 1924–25 will be £2,800,000, that is £4,200,000 in all, in two years. On the forecasts of local authorities for next year, their expenditure will be £5,800,000 over the low basic level of 1923–24. If anyone had foretold that, in the year preparatory to the three-year programme which was my policy, endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, local expenditure would be £5,800,000 above 1923–24, would anybody have regarded it as possible that the Government could have afforded to finance a large additional programme like that?


Can the Noble Lord tell me how much of that expenditure is "other expenditure"?


I will deal with the results of the expenditure in a moment. As regards the forecast, I cannot Hay. The supreme absurdity of the present grant system is that knowledge of this kind only comes to me at this period of the year, and I frankly confess that these figures which have come to me since the issue of the Circular have affected all the calculations on which the Appendix to the Circular was based. The figure of £41,781,000, which I gave in the Circular as the figure to which the Board's Estimates might rise next year in the absence of counterbalancing economies, is now, I believe far too low; in fact, we are within measurable distance of finding ourselves back at the peak of grant expenditure in 1921–22. Was this kind of growth foreseen? Was it regarded as a feasible financial proposition? May I quote from a speech of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr, Snowden) on the 7th August on economy: I think it would be a business proposition to make some moderate reductions in expenditure by overhauling the separate items of expenditure in connection with these (i.e., social) services. … It might be possible to effect a few minor economies in regard to educational expenditure which might be devoted to increasing the educational efficiency of the system.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th August, 1925; col. 1780, Vol. 187.] So the right hon. Gentleman will see that I did not originate the policy of counterbalancing economies. At the moment the right hon. Member for Colne Valley was speaking did he know that he had to face an increase of educational expenditure of £4,000,000? May I say one thing in answer to the statement which, I think, was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) a few days ago? He talked about there having been a reduction in the payment of grants in a period of three or four years of £10,000,000. That was the reduction in the total of the Board's Estimates and was very largely duo to the falling off of exceptional war services, but the reduction in grants to the local authorities from 1921–22 to 1922–24 was— highest to lowest—£2,403,000, or 6 per cent., at a time of steeply falling prices. We have had this increase of expenditure. What can we show for it? I am responsible to this House for this increase of expenditure. I am responsible for informing the House what the results have been.

Under the present grant system I have no detailed knowledge, certainly, until six months after the end of the financial year, and in many cases not till much later. What actually has been accomplished by the expenditure? I know that in two years the number of teachers has gone up by 3,920. I know that of this number about 1,700 are accounted for by the replacement of supplementary teachers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is a very good thing to replace supplementary teachers by certificated teachers, but is it as important as a reduction in the size of the classes? After all, you cannot have everything at the same time.

Take secondary education. There has been an increase in the cost. I apologise to the House for the length of these observations, and I know they are not exactly a full indication of how matters stand, but I am giving the best I can to the House. In the matter of secondary education, there has been an increase of cost, so far as I can make out, of 15 per cent., leaving out administration altogether. During two years there has been an increase in the number of secondary school pupils of 2 per cent. Is it comparable? I admit that two years is a short period to take. It includes certain expenditure on new schools that have not yet been staffed, but I can tell the House this: having carefully examined the figures, it is perfectly plain that the bulk of that increase in secondary school expenditure is expenditure on existing schools, on the improvement of the provision for existing scholars, and not on the extension of secondary education, or for new scholars, or to give facilities to more scholars. The right hon. Gentleman opposite talks about the Conservative programme.


; Has the number of scholars increased?


The numbers have gone up. I quote from memory, but I think I am right, the numbers have gone up by just over 8,000 on a total of 360,000.

Viscountess ASTOR

Can the Noble Lord say how many there are waiting to get into the secondary schools?


There are a number waiting to get into the secondary schools, but how are you ever going to provide secondary school accommodation for those who need it, when for an increase of 2 per cent. of scholars the expenditure is as I have stated. It is impossible. [Interruption.]

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

I would ask hon. Members to allow the President of the Board of Education to continue his statement without interruption.


Is it not in order for an hon. Member to try to get the Member who is speaking to give way when a question is asked, even though the questioner sits on the back benches?


Whether a Member sits on a front or the back bench he cannot be made to give way unless he wishes.


May not an hon. Member ask the Member who is speaking to give way in order to make his point? That is what happened in this case.


It is for the Member on his feet to judge whether or not he will give way.


I am only too ready to give way if necessary. After all, there were three main points in the Conservative party's programme. Smaller classes; improvement of unfit buildings; and central and secondary school places. There has been a considerable advance in the provision of central schools, but little of the increased cost is due to that. The main fear at the present time is that the grants urgently necessary for the programme of improvement in buildings is being swallowed up in other directions. The same thing in regard to smaller classes. What chance is there of carrying out a programme of educational advance, what chance is there of carrying out any programme laid down by any party, at any election, or at any other time, under a system such as we have, where expenditure can always be undertaken in various directions, leaving the central authority no power to direct the advance along any particular line, or to concentrate attention upon the things which most need to be done? The hon. Member opposite and his friends have said outside: How can authorities be expected to take up a programme when they are faced with a circular of this kind? Yes, and equally how can the central Government be in a position to finance programmes when they are faced with automatic increases of expenditure such as I have mentioned.


By not reducing the Super-tax.


What is the policy embodied in Circular 1371? The policy embodied in Circular 1371 is that a system of grants leaves the Exchequer in complete uncertainty as to finance from year to year, and which leaves the Board of Education in equal uncertainty as to the steady carrying out of a programme of reforms must definitely go in the interests of efficiency, economy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—yea, I am not ashamed of the word—and in the, interests of educational progress. That is the fixed policy of the Government. It means also that next year, the year preparatory to the programmes, and a year of peculiar financial stress, we must endeavour, alike in the interests of economy and of a coherent educational programme, to mark time, and overhaul our expenditure—as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley suggested this summer—so as to work down to something like the basis which we had all contemplated as the basis from which the programmes are to start in 1927. That is the policy of Circular 1371. There are other points, but they are subsidiary. The method of the assessment of the grant, its amount, even the exact date of its introduction, are matters for discussion with the local authorities.

The main principle of the Circular which I have explained is a principle to which we must adhere, and I am sure the House will realise, after the explanation I have given, that a change in the system, from the old to the new grants, introduced at the proper time is absolutely essential, not only to sound finance but to a sound system of education as well. Further there is this implication in the Circular. We have got to get a system by which our local authorities have greater power of control and greater discretion in the matter of policy. We have got to put local authorities more definitely into the responsible position in which they were designed to be under the Act of 1902. Let me say that of all the objections that have been urged, no objection has been more futile than the talk about the local authorities keeping their own economies. As if you are to say that the great local authorities, established for 23 years, and responsible for education for 23 years, cannot be trusted to administer education! This means a. corresponding reduction in the scope and detail of the Board's regulations. It means a reduction in administrative interference. It moans a clearer division of responsibility between the Board and the local authorities. What it does not mean—1 know that is what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have been aiming at in various questions—is: it does not mean a reduction in the efficiency or the thoroughness of our inspection, or of the standard of education in the areas of the local authorities. It does not mean a reduction in the effective amount of control which the Board can exercise to maintain a proper standard of education. It does mean far greater concentration on one essential point of a proper standard of education, and less on administrative details.

I must now say one word on two subjects which have been specially referred to—children under five years of age and the Burnham scale. We have had from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle one of the speeches about children under five to which we are accustomed—this oratory about poor children whose alternative is between the gutter and the schools, who have to run about the streets. [HON. MEMBERS: "Quite true!"] Will hon. Members allow me to develop my point? That is, I think, a wholly erroneous idea of the reason why 221,000 children under the age of five are on the rolls of the schools. May I give the right hon. Member a few instances? Let us compare our respective constituencies. I am not lightly underrating the badness of the houses in certain parts of Hastings, but I think Newcastle-on-Tyne has the advantage in the amount and variety of bad housing. Newcastle has 342 children under five in the schools, and Hastings has 540. There are other instances—Bournemouth, 536; Hull, 361; Bath, 727; Wolverhampton, 116. As we all know, a very large proportion of these children are in the country districts.


Will you give us the number for West Ham—2,300?


Will the hon. Member give us the number for East Ham?


No, I represent West Ham.


I have not got the figure here, but my recollection is that for East Ham the number is about 36. Let us compare Devon and Cornwall, with their towns, excepting Plymouth— I leave Plymouth out for very good reasons—and Northumberland and Durham, with their towns. In Devon and Cornwall there are more than 5,000 children under five in the schools, and in Northumberland and Durham only 1,950, and half of those come from Middlesbrough. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Yorkshire?"] Well, I cannot go through all the counties.


Middlesbrough is in Yorkshire.


If the hon. Lady wishes to exclude Middlesbrough, we get the extraordinary comparison of 5,100 in Devon and Cornwall and only 1,000 in the whole of Northumberland and Durham. As everyone who knows the prob- lem knows, the habit as to children under five going to school is very largely a local habit. It depends upon local conditions and local habits, and does not depend directly upon the badness of social conditions and the housing; conditions of the towns.

I said a little while ago there was a strong social tendency for children under five years of age not to go to school. I have pointed to the figures of the reduction in the numbers of children under five between 1905 and to-day. I have been accused of using unfair figures on the ground that, in 1905, grants were withdrawn from children under five. That is not the fact. The fact of the matter is that the grant system in regard to children under five was changed in 1910 by the ruthless Liberal Government. The capitation grant for children under five years of age was reduced. Instead of this accelerating the reduction in the number of children under five attending school, the reduction in the five years before 1910 was greater than the reduction in the next five years after 1910. When the grant system was changed in 1918, and full capitation grant was again given to children under five, that change did not check the reduction in the number of children, the number falling: steadily until 1921.

What is the principle in regard to children under five? Many people pass resolutions on this subject, but if anyone tells me it is essential that children under five should go to school in order that they may be under the expert guidance of someone skilled in knowledge of the child mind, and that it is better that they should be in school than in a working-class home, I say, "No, I do not believe it."


Why not?


But if it said that there are social conditions in our big towns or in the country districts which make it impossible to keep children in the home, which make it essential to send them to school, which make it necessary to have a nursery in the school, then I say, "Well and good. I agree. Where those conditions exist we must have the children in the schools." But keep that problem within those limits, judge it according to those principles, and then we shall have no quarrel.


Who is going to pay?


I did not catch what the hon. Member said.


I said, "Who is going to pay for them?" I think that is the solution. We do not want to press this —[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] We want to know who is going to pay? [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] What do you mean by calling "Order"? I did not want to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

I think if hon. Members wish to have an orderly Debate, they must allow the speaker to make his points without interruptions.


I think mine was an orderly interruption.


I will answer the question as to who is to pay. At the present moment the admission of children under five years of age to schools in a large number of areas, especially mining areas and country areas, entails no extra expense on the local authority, and the capitation grant they at present receive in respect of those children is a pure bonus. If local authorities show me there are social conditions in their area which make it necessary and inevitable to have nursery schools, and if they show that the reception of these very young children into the schools entails additional expenditure, then I am perfectly prepared to consider making a grant towards it as a special service.

One word about the Burnham scale. I am going to confine myself to one statement. I am not going into the question of the extent to which local authorities are morally or legally bound to the Burn-ham award. I am perfectly prepared to take the local authorities' own decision as to how far they are bound. My obligation is to see that local authorities receive grants which can reasonably be regarded as sufficient to enable them to pay reasonable salaries, and my standard of reasonable salaries is certainly going to be the salaries awarded by Lord Burn-ham. I recognise that obligation on myself, and I believe I shall be able to carry it out. I intend to do so.

I am afraid I have claimed the attention of the House for an unconscionable time, But I have had much ground to cover and a variety of attacks have been made upon me. I would say this in conclusion. No educational advance is possible in the long run unless we in this country understand that we must have a sense of reality about what we want in education and what we can do in education, and that we must be prepared to exercise discrimination and to say what things we want first—what things it is necessary to have first and what things can reasonably be postponed. We cannot hope to have educational advance merely by throwing open all doors and suggesting to local authorities every form of extra expenditure, all desirable, each in itself desirable, but all varying in urgency and in importance. We must concentrate on the main thing. At the present moment we are running the risk every day of seeing our insanitary schools perpetuated because we spend money on other things. It has happened before. It happened before the War, when everyone was imploring the Government to spend a million or so of money on insanitary schools and they preferred to do other educational work. It is our danger to-day that we shall leave in the lurch those areas which most need educational help, that by a general expansion of elementary education services we shall prejudice the growth of central schools and the improvement of the education of the older children.

The danger is very great indeed, and it is inseparable from the present system, inseparable from a system where, as the right hon. Gentleman has truly said, local authorities are always scrambling for pennies, and lucky is the authority which can get in first. I have chosen to face the question of how to get a system which will really ensure continuity of advance. In doing so I have incurred a great deal of unpopularity. I shall incur a great deal more.


We hope so.


The hon. Member hopes so.


I do not mean personally.


The hon. Member is not like his leader, who does not want to make this a partisan matter. There are many hon. Gentlemen opposite who leapt with indecent haste at the chance of dragging education into polities again. I know that the Front Bench opposite do not feel like that, and I know there are other Members who do not. In taking this unpopular line, in emphasising that economy and educational progress are not divergent and conflicting terms but are absolutely concurrent and working-in with each other—in doing that, however much we on this side of the House may incur opprobrium, abuse and misrepresentation, we believe we shall be doing the thing that is most essential to secure real continuity of permanent educational advance.

6.0 P.M.


I confess as I listened to the Noble Lord that I felt conscious of a lacuna in his argument. He propounded with very great force and animation his objections to the present system of relating educational grants to expenditure. He told us that he was desirous of substituting for that system some other system which would be more consistent with continuous educational development, but whether it was for lack of time or through some other reason he failed to disclose to the House the nature of the system which he wishes to adopt. It is very easy to criticise any system of allotting grants-in-aid, and no system is perfect. I have given some attention to this matter, and I have certainly come to the conclusion that a system of percentage grants, accompanied by adequate safeguards, is, on the whole, the most flexible system that can be adopted, that it does not necessarily lead to unregulated extravagance, as the Noble Lord seemed to suggest, and that it is probably the strongest and most effective instrument a State can possess for maintaining an educational standard and for promoting educational advance.


I did not accuse local authorities of extravagance, and I have never done so.


I am indebted to my Noble Friend for his explanation. I would like to point out, however, that the policy of my Noble Friend fails in two respects. In the first place he has called an educational halt for three years upon a lower basis of expenditure, and he has been careful to take as his standard the expenditure of a year when, owing to the diminution of the number of children in the schools, the estimates were at a low level. That, of course, is very disappointing and disheartening to the friends of education all over the country. That education should be put into cold storage for three years is particularly disappointing in view of the speeches of the Noble Lord the declarations of the Conservative party, and the Circular issued last March in which local education authorities were distinctly encouraged by the President of the Board of Education to elaborate programmes as part of an organised system of advance. Circular 1371, which pulls up the local education authorities very sharply indeed and puts them on a lower national grant, has created consternation from the Cheviots to the Channel. It has pulled them up very sharply indeed, and therefore the Noble Lord cannot complain if his action has been a matter of great concern to the 318 local education authorities whom he has enticed up the slopes of Mount Pisgah, find then politely informed that the mountain has been mined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so that unless they scramble down very quickly to the plain they are likely to be blown up.

I have had experience of hard Treasury weather, and I realise that the President of the Board of Education is a member of the Cabinet, and has to consider educational needs in the large perspective of national policy; he may have to do less than he would like to do and less than he intended. I think, however, that the Noble Lord might have put up a better fight with the Treasury. I do not, however, regard the educational part as the most serious part of this policy. I consider that the gravest part is his declaration that he intends to abandon, and that the Government intend to abandon, the percentage grant system. That is a system under which all our recent educational progress has been achieved, and without which all our recent progress would have been impossible. I propose in a very few words to remind the House of the reasons which led to the introduction of the percentage grants, the results which the grant system has attained for education, and the ways in which that system can be fortified.

The percentage grants were first introduced in 1917, and in the main for two reasons. In the first place they were introduced in order to distribute more evenly the aggregate burden of expenditure between the rates and the taxes. When I came to the Board of Education in 1916, I found that the ratepayer was bearing 56 per cent. of the burden of education and the taxpayer 44 per cent.

It is far more difficult to extract money from the ratepayers than from the taxpayers, and under that distribution of the burden which then prevailed it was vain to expect any educational advance whatever, because the local authorities were oppressed by their existing burdens, which were further aggravated by war conditions. The introduction of the percentage grant system permitted the local education authorities to discharge their task more adequately, and also provided better salaries for the teacher. That was the second purpose for which it was introduced.

I need hardly say that I was not rash enough, or self-confident enough, to transform the system of educational advance upon my own authority. I acted upon the best expert authority which was then available, and I based my action upon the report of a, very strong Treasury Committee which found in favour of the percentage grant system in the year 1914. Moreover I was confirmed in my belief that such a system was desirable by a strong and imposing deputation which I received from the administrative County of London supported by every London Member, whatever his political complexion might be, and they were mostly Conservatives, urging me to assure to local authorities all over the country 50 per cent. of their approved expenditure. I was told that the London County Council would break down under its educational burden unless it was assured of that relief, and in consequence a Clause was inserted in the Education Act of 1918 assuring the local education authority a grant equal to 50 per cent. of their approved expenditure on elementary and higher education. That Clause has ever since been regarded as the Magna Carta of educational authorities. I respectfully submit to my Noble Friend that he is taking a great risk after only 12 months' experience of educational administration in attacking that most important guarantee.

On what grounds does the Noble Lord ask us to discard the system under which we are now operating, and which has been the means of securing the Burnham scale, and doubling the range and effectiveness of our secondary schools. The present system has been the means of increasing very largely all the opportunities of improving the health of the children in our great towns, and on what grounds does the Noble Lord ask us to abandon that system? He says in effect that the Board of Education under this system is unable to control local expenditure, or that if the Board does attempt to control expenditure, it can only do so at the expense of a meticulous interference with the working of the local education authorities which would deprive them of all sense of responsibility. I think that is a clear representation of the case put so lucidly by my Noble Friend, who also added that it is difficult under this system for the Board to form an exact estimate of what its expenditure will be.

On that point let me remark, in the first place, that our percentage grant system was introduced at a period of exceptional economic difficulty because no one knew how far the cost of materials would go up or whether it would go down. I remember the time when a copy book one year cost a penny and next year rose to sevenpence; and the cost of educational furniture and of repairing schools and paying caretakers was subject to similar variations. I remember one year in which a caretaker who used to sweep out a school in the East End of London charged 15s. a week and next year she charged 45s. a week. Consequently the local education authorities were under very great difficulties in forming their estimates, and those difficulties prevailed during the whole period in which, as the Noble Lord observed, the estimates of local education authorities were so wide of the mark.

Now I come to the Estimates of the Board, which were formed upon the basis of the estimates of the local education authorities. I very well remember what our difficulties were. We were told that whatever happened we were not to come to this House for Supplementary Estimates. That was forbidden. Consequently, we were compelled to take no risks, and it is perfectly true, therefore, that our Estimates were, over a series of years, in excess of expenditure. But now we are at last drifting into normal economic weather. Local education authorities are now far better qualified to form an exact estimate of what their expenditure will be than they were during the years immediately after the War, and I have not the slightest doubt that the able officers of the Board whose business it is to form Estimates for the President will be able to budget very exactly in future. They will be able to budget within, at any rate, £300,000 over an Estimate of about £40,000,000.

The Noble Lord says that there are no controls. By degrees, however, the Board has been working out a standard of costs which very largely meets that objection. Let me take the item Teachers' Salaries, £41,500,000, assumed for the Board's Estimates of 1925–26. There is no difficulty about that figure, now that the Burnham scales have been adopted by the President—[An HON. MEMBER: "Not yet!"]—or will be adopted. That means that some 70 per cent. of the Board's expenditure is now practically under control. It is quite true that local education authorities may increase from year to year the number of their teachers, but that increase is very small, and at the present moment there are, or, at least, there were in 1924, fewer teachers in the schools than in 1914. Then take another item—Loan Fund, £3,000,000. No loan charge can he incurred, no school can be built, without the consent of the Board of Education. Take another item— Special Services, £3,000,000. Those services, including loan charges, are worked under arrangements made by the Board which give the Board a very large opportunity of chocking the expenditure.

There remains an clement in the expenditure which is, I admit, still uncontrolled, because the Board has not yet worked out a reasonable standard of cost in relation to it. There is the element, assumed in the Board's Estimate for 1925–26, of administrative expenditure. That is the element to which my Noble Friend alluded. It figures in the Estimate at £10,000,000, but that expenditure only attracts a grant of 20 per cent. from the Board, so that £2,000,000 only is involved. I agree that at the present moment the Board has no control over that expenditure, but what is the remedy? Surely, it is that suggested, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), that an inquiry should be instituted by the President of the Board of Education into this local administrative expenditure, to see where the extravagance is, and to work out a standard of cost which would gave to the Board as much control over that area of expenditure as it already exercises over the salary expenditure, which is now under control. That would be a very proper step to take. I would like to see my Noble Friend appoint a strong. Departmental Committee to go into this local administrative expenditure, to cut down extravagance, and to make recommendations to the Board; and, when that is done, I believe that the Board will have all the advantages of flexibility and all the advantages of stimulus which the percentage system gives, and at the same time will have obtained a fully adequate measure of control.

There is only one other large consideration to which I desire to draw the attention of the House. As I listened to my Noble Friend, I confess I was in considerable doubt as to whether he was a centraliser or a decentraliser. On the one hand, he told us that what was wrong in our present system was that local authorities were spending too much on non-essentials and neglecting essentials, and that it was necessary that the Board should direct them on the right path. That is centralization; that is the control of the Board. On the other hand, he held out to us the beatific vision of local authorities, admirably active, doing the best for education in their own respective areas, and deserving to be left severely alone. Which is it to be? It is very important, that we should know. At any rate, for the next three years we do know. FOR the next three years the local education authorities are to be left to themselves. They are to have a fixed grant. The Board has abandoned the very powerful control which it now exercises through the percentage system. The local education authorities are told, "What-ever rates you raise, however much you reduce your rates, however inefficient your education becomes, you are still certain of the Board's grant." That is, is, so far as I see it, the system for the next three years, and when the Noble Lord tells us of his great ambition to develop education on the right lines, and to check it when it is proceeding on the wrong lines, I ask him this question: How is he going to do it during the next three years? It seems to me to be quite impossible.

Let us, as the Noble Lord said, look at realities. I can quite understand that a system under which our 318 local authorities are to receive a grant from the State, from public funds, quite irrespective of any effort they may put out for themselves, will not be without attractions for them, especially if it be accompanied by the assurance that all that the Board will expect of them is that they should adopt a minimum standard of efficiency. I can quite understand that being rather attractive to them, and when it is accompanied, as I take it it will be, by a considerable reduction in the staff of inspectors and of officials of the Board itself, it may appear to be very attractive to the economists. But is it good for education? Will it be good for education? That is the only thing about which I am concerned; that is the only thing about which we need trouble; and I confess that I look with great dismay on any policy which would take the mind of the Board out of education, and eliminate or diminish the idea of progress. Although I know that that is the last thing the Noble Lord would desire, that will, I believe, be the ultimate effect of the policy which he is asking us to pursue. It will take the idea of progress out of education, and it will take the mind of the Board out of education—if he can do it. But here let me remind the House that this House is very jealous of the money which it votes for public purposes; that is to say, it is not likely to vote sums in the region of £40,000,000 a year for the service of education in England and Wales without desiring to have some account of the manner in which that service is performed. It will require the Board of Education to check, to stimulate, to direct. I cannot conceive of such liberty being given to local education authorities as in one part of his speech my Noble Friend seemed to advocate.

There was a time when I myself was very largely impressed by the desirability of decentralisation, and I made a proposal in the Bill of 1917 for the amalgamation or association of local education authorities. I thought that, if we could get England divided into certain large associations of education authorities, we might have a good deal of financial devolution. But I quickly saw that I had burnt my fingers. The proposal was received with almost as great a howl of denunciation as my Noble Friend has experienced as a, result of his Circular No. 1371. The vested interests were far too strong. You have to reckon then with the fact that we shall, for many years to come, have 318 authorities, some of them large, some of them small, some of them efficient and zealous, others inefficient and languid, and it will be dangerous—I say it advisedly—to take the direction of the Board from them. Some years ago, the Treasury laid down an injunction with regard to inspection by the Board. In the interests of the public purse and of educational efficiency, it insisted that the inspection should be so organised as to enable a report to be received upon the work of every elementary school every three years. The inspectorate has never been numerous enough to furnish reports on that basis, and I should regard a reduction of the inspectorate as a very great educational calamity.

The Noble Lord contends that he can abolish the percentage grant system. I may be pardoned if I think that that system is essential to the working of the Act of 1918. I do not regard it as perfect; I think many improvements ought to be introduced into it. In the Memorandum which I submitted to the Meston Committee, I adumbrated certain improvements in the existing system which might well be carried out. I suggested that more money might be given to necessitous areas and that grants might be distributed more evenly according to the relative wealth and poverty of different parts of the country. I suggested that standards of cost might be worked out over the whole field of education. I suggested that many of the Board's regulations might be simplified. On those lines I believe a really effective system of grante-in-aid could be established. But I earnestly hope the Government will think again and again before they throw over a system which has so much authority behind it, under which so much progress has been realised, which has been introduced under such un fortunate economic circumstances and which has not yet received all the improvements of which it is capable.


It is difficult to follow such a high education authority as the right hon. Gentleman, but I feel impelled to declare my belief that the principles on which this Circular, which has been so strongly attacked, is founded, are sound and good, and as such they should be welcomed by all true friends of education. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the President of the Board has left a gap in his information. He has told us that the percentage system has been given up and no real explanation is given of the system that is to take its place. As it seems to me, the system that is to take its place is one that can combine economy with real efficiency, a system which is one of trust of those who are responsible for education and one which restores to the Board its real function—to be a Board of Education and not merely a Board to administer educational grants. It is because those principles are to be found in the Circular that I hope the President of the Board will maintain it strongly and ant upon it. There are in it, no doubt, formulae which he has told us himself may be discussed with the local authorities and may be modified, but the. root principles of the Circular seem to me to constitute a real step in the progress of true education. I would submit that the real author of this Circular is the right hon. Gentleman who has moved this Motion. As we have been reminded by the President of the Board, he has never had to go into the details of the financial estimates of the Board of Education, and, whether wittingly or unwittingly, he gave local education authorities to understand that the national purse was inexhaustible. The result has been an enormous increase in the estimates of the local education authorities, and it was absolutely necessary in the present state of our straitened finances that a system should be devised which would give the Board a real control over expenditure. At present, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) admits, there does not exist real control.

During the last two years all those who care for education in this House—and there are many such—have been delighted to find so great a measure of agreement between all parties, and we hoped that at last education was being raised above party strife. Now it has been plunged back into that strife The cause of it is the Mover of this Resolution. Teachers, at any rate, have good reason to be grateful to the President of the Board. Only this year, with infinite care, he has piloted a Measure through the House which provides for the teachers of the country a superannuation system better than exists in any other country. In Canada lately I found the teachers very envious of our system. In the pledges that he gave with regard to the Burnham Award, he has now rendered the position of the teachers assured, and I think we shall all agree that what matters most in the schools is the teaching. We all want spacious, airy, sunlit rooms. During the last three months I have been in a good many schools in the States and in Canada, and I envied their space and their air and their sunlight. But at the same time I was glad to find a boy, the son of a settler who went out this spring under the 3,000 families scheme, top of his class, although he was not regarded as very brilliant in this country. It is quite true that the right kind of teacher, with tattered books it may be, with inadequate accommodation it may be, will get far better results on the minds and characters of those whom he teaches than an unsuitable teacher with the best equipment in the world. Now we have a scale of salaries and pensions which puts the teacher in a position that compares favourably with that of the teachers of any country in the world.

There is an assumption that an increase of expenditure means an increase of efficiency. It is not so very often. Look at the history of the last 20 years. From 1902 onwards, through the agency of a Conservative Government, some of the greatest educational reforms were initiated. A system of secondary education was instituted. The control of our national system of education was handed over to the local education authorities. Those authorities spent much time in learning their business, and there was much waste and much useless expenditure of money, and consequent inefficiency, in the process of learning. Now the President says, through his Circular, to those authorities, " You have served your apprenticeship; you have come of age, you are fit to be trusted. Instead of this meticulous system of correspondence and cheeks which exists between the Board and the county councils, and again between the county councils and the schools, we will trust you. We will cut away all this unnecessary system and thereby give you an opportunity of effecting a great saving." I believe, as always happens when bodies are trusted, they will rise to the height of their responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman recommended setting up a Committee which should inquire into possible economics at the Board—


Into the one area that is at present uncontrolled—that is, local administrative expenditure.


Set up a Committee to inquire into the possibility of economy in one Department of the Board—


Not a Department of the Board. The administrative expenditure of the local education authorities.


The system that is proposed by the President of the Board is the one most calculated to effect that economy which could possibly be conceived. You guarantee them a minimum sum, and it is obviously in their interests to use it in the most efficient way. At the same time the Minister says to them, "in matters of detail, such as pressing matters of social service, I am quite ready to discuss the matter with you and to increase the grant if the need is shown to be pressing." But the broad principle of placing money at the disposal of the local education authorities seems to me sound and good and conducive to real economy. These education authorities, in working out their own salvation, may approach the solution of that problem which seems to mo the most pressing one in the education of all civilised countries, and that is, that recognising as we must, that the great-majority of men and women must earn their living by manual labour, and that every child has a right to the opportunity of developing to the full, under the best teachers, with the best schools and equipment you can provide, powers of body, mind and character—and of these the greatest is character—we must ask ourselves, are we educating these children in a way that will tend to make them the beet and most useful citizens of their country?

The problem is complicated by the fact of the monotony of the work in so many of our industries. To a large extent the old pride in work has gone, and it is for employers and workpeople to try to devise some way of getting back to the old pride of work so that we may realise the dignity of labour. They have the same problem in Canada, but there it is easier, because the dignity of labour is more recognised. May I tell the House one small experience I had in Stratford, in the Niagara Peninsula? I was taken into a wicker-work factory, which employed a great many men and women; everything in it was hand-made with the exception of the coverings of the chairs and couches, and those coverings, I am glad to say, mainly came from Bradford, and very fine material they were. That was a happy factory. The people were obviously contented, whistling over their work, and they earned good wages. I heard that two years ago the head of the firm found it was necessary to reduce the wages; he called the working people together and told them this, and asked them what they had to say, but there was nothing said except by one man who remarked, "We were wondering you did not do it two years ago." That is an instance of the effect on contentment of pride in work. Instead of blaming my right hon. Friend for this Circular, I think we should be welcoming it. I think it is a step in the true interests of education, and I believe when it is further considered by the nation it will be thoroughly supported.


I am rather afraid the hon. Member who has just spoken is much more loyal to his Conservatism than to his educational ideals. I cannot understand any person who has had any relation whatever with education in this country, especially the elementary system, arguing in the manner the hon. Member has done. I doubt whether the hon. Member would apply the same spirit and the same maxims to the equipment and staffing of Eton and Harrow that he has applied to the elementary schools of this country. He said that he desired that education should be clear of party. So do we. We have shown it by the fact that not one single question of opposition or of criticism have we directed against the President of the Board of Education during the whole of the 12 months he has been in office. It is not we on this side who are plunging education into the arena of party politics, but it is those responsible for issuing this Circular.

The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) said that the President of the Board of Education had provided the teachers of this country with a good pension system. The teachers, while they may be thankful for that pension scheme, do not forget what the predecessor of the Tight hon. Gentleman, the right hon. Member for the Combined Universities (Mr. Fisher) did for them in this matter. Further, while they probably feel grateful for the pension scheme, they are not prepared to sacrifice the education of the children, even for the sake of pensions or salaries.

Let it be clearly understood that, as far as I know them, I can confidently prophesy that on this question the teachers will stand firmly and solidly against this Circular, because they know full well that what lowers the status of the elementary school will eventually lower the status of the teachers in those schools.

The President of the Board of Education was, I thought, at times rather nasty towards my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle Central (Mr. Trevelyan). I imagine that he verged near to being impertinent. He was very anxious about his personal consistency, and he was prepared to leave his personal consistency to the people outside this House and to the Members of this House. It may be well, therefore, in order that a correct judgment may be formed, that some evidence should be presented as to the question of consistency. The right hon. Gentleman backed up his own party's policy. That policy enunciated at the last General Election by the Conservative party— when for the first time, I believe, they had an educational programme—was issued and endorsed by the Conservative Teachers' Advisory Committee. I have a statement here, if there is any dispute on that point, which proves conclusively that in the circular which they issued these people deliberately asked for the teachers' vote and for the votes of all concerned in education and also their active interest, on the basis of this new educational programme of the Conservative party.

I say that Circular 1371 is a breach of the pledge contained in that election circular. It is more than a Government breach. The right hon. Gentleman himself is guilty of a distinct personal political breach in this matter. He has been talking very much up and down the country, and I have had the honour and privilege of reading every speech that he has made. It took a good deal of time to read them. I believe if he will look over them he will find that he has delivered over 50 speeches since last January, on every conceivable topic relating to education. Not only has he made these speeches in his enthusiasm for education, but he was asked questions at the last election. In order that we may see whether there has been a breach of faith in regard to continuity of policy and in regard to his opinion, it may be well that his personal pledges should be put on record. He was asked: Are you in favour of a reduction in the size of classes in public elementary schools? The reply was a direct and simple "Yes." I wish the Circular had been as direct and clear as that answer. Are you in favour of the enforcement of regulations to secure the provision of suitable and sanitary school buildings?—Yes. Are you in favour of extending facilities for higher education, of increasing the number of free places in secondary schools and of widening the scope of maintenance grants?—Yes. If elected, would you do your best to prevent the withdrawal of the present proportional grants from the Exchequer to local authorities? The right hon. Gentleman replied: I presume this means that the Exchequer grants should be based on a percentage of local expenditure as at present. I think this is right"— I want to be quite fair to the right hon. Gentleman, so I will read the whole, although it does not alter his commitment to the principle of the percentage grant. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded: but … I think the percentage should be calculated upon the estimated cost over a five-year programme at least"—


Hear, hear!


Yes, but I venture to say in regard to the Circular that the programmes the right hon. Gentleman asks for will never be put into operation. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded: and for this purpose the local education authorities should now be encouraged to send in comprehensive schemes as contemplated by the Fisher Act. In Circular 1371 the President of the Board of Education has deliberately—it may be at the behest of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but at any rate he is responsible for it—committed a deliberate breach of the pledge given at the last General Election. His enthusiasm did not evaporate with the necessity for securing votes. It was maintained during a considerable period while he has been in office. It lasted until the 19th October of this year, when he issued a personal letter, a letter of endearment almost, to the chairman of education committees asking them to hurry up with their programmes, as he was anxious to see them and anxious that they should be got into full swing and operation. But in the quiet of his Department, where he has not been talking but where he has been doing his thinking—


Will the hon. Member read that Circular letter?


I will read from the Circular. It is Circular 1358. I would point out that this Circular 1358 is the one in which he asked the authorities to get out their programmes, to think of the size of their classes, to think of their provision for secondary schools, to think of their new elementary schools, to think of advanced instruction, to think of the provision to medical attention.


Read the Circular.


There is more of the educational spirit in Circular 1358 than there is of educational spirit in what is called the spirit of economy which has been evinced this afternoon. The Noble Lord asks me to read the Circular. I promised Mr. Speaker that I would only occupy 15 minutes, but I will read the Circular. The right hon. Gentleman urged the local authorities to do what I have said. Not only did he ask the authorities to get their programmes ready and to develop them on a scientific basis, but he said to them: "The planning of your programmes must be no excuse for not tackling immediate and urgent necessities in your areas." Those are the right hon. Gentleman's words.


Will the hon. Member read the actual words?


Here are the words from Circular 1358:— The Board especially desire to make it clear to authorities that they do not contemplate that either the submission or the actual initiation of individual proposals for improvement or development will be suspended during the preparation and consideration of the programmes. Such a course would clearly involve an unjustifiable delay in dealing with many matters of immediate urgency and importance.


Will the hon. Member read the last paragraph?


Does the right hon. Gentleman say here, on the Floor of the House, that in Circular 1358 he did not do two things at least—urge the preparation of comprehensive schemes and programmes in the first instance, and, secondly, that he told the authorities that, though they might take time to get these comprehensive programmes out, that must be no excuse for their not going on with the immediate work which is absolutely necessary and urgent? Does he deny that?


I did those two things, but I also did a third thing. Will the hon. Member read the last paragraph? If not, I will read it.


I am glad that the Noble Lord agrees with me that he told the local authorities to get on with their plans and not to neglect immediate and necessary work. Throughout the whole of his regime at the Board he has been doing the right thing until—


Why does not the hon. Member read the last paragraph? May I read it? In general, there should be no postponement of work necessary to enable authorities adequately to discharge their normal duties, especially towards children whose attendance at school is compulsory, but, on the other hand, novel proposals involving far-reaching commitments may well be reserved for the programme itself.


Novel things must be put into the programme. The very sentence which the Noble Lord has read out means that things that are urgent must go on. If I read the whole of Circular 1358 I am afraid I should detain the House too long, and I might convince the House that the Noble Lord was really an educational enthusiast, and that might make him unpopular with his party. What about the Circular 1371 which has been issued? I do not wish to overstep my time, but I say that Circular 1371 is the most insidious, reactionary and subtle circular that has ever come out from the Board of Education. The Noble Lord smiles at the word "subtle." I will show him how subtle it is. In the Appendix, which is the operating part of the circular rather than fine words in a preamble, we find the following: (a) 30s. for each child on the register on 31st March, 1925, under the age of five years. 7.0 P.M.

I am not going into the social and sentimental plea for children under five, but why did not the right hon. Gentleman say, not 30s. for each child on the register but " 30s. for each child in average attendance "? The grant now is 36s. for each child in average attendance You may get 100 children on the roll, but the average attendance may be only 60. At the present time, therefore, the authorities in such a case only get sixty 36s. If the average attendance is only 60 and there are 100 children on the register the "Noble Lord will come along and say, " I am going to fine you not sixty 30s,. but one hundred 30s. That is one of the little things which show that the intention behind this Circular is not to help the educational authorities to get on with their work, but is nothing but a clear, downright, pure economy Circular to secure that less money shall be spent on education. The Circular also deals with taking the figure of 1924–25 and the one per cent.—T want to take that in relation to a supplementary statement which has been issued by the President of the Board of Education. He says: It has become essential to educational progress that the cost of purely educational services should be defined as a basis for the future expansion of advanced and higher education. I put a question the other day in which I used the word "restricted" instead of the word " defined." The right hon. Gentleman replied and reminded me that he had used the word " defined " and not "restricted." What difference is there in the words "defined" and "restricted"? What it means is this: that he is going to endeavour to save a lot of money on the little ones in order to spend a little bit on the bigger ones, starving the elementary schools in the country and preventing new buildings being established. I would like to ask him what about his black list? Will he say in this House that the authorities will be able to replace the insanitary schools that exist in hundreds up and down the country? He speaks about employing more teachers without the expense coming out of the rates. He speaks about essential services. What are essential services? Essential services in elementary schools are provided now in the curricula and the health services. Every teacher, I believe, throughout, the country, in the elementary schools at least, and every educationist in the country will fight to the bitter end. The educational intention behind this Circular is to cripple and curtail the activities and narrow the functions of the elementary school. It is going back to the days; of the "three Rs."


If the hon. Member will read the speech, he will see I said that it was absurd to talk about the curriculum of the schools. "Whether it was too wide or not, whether it was useless or not, the curriculum had practically no effect on this question at all


Why do you not cut it down if that is so? I will quote from the speech and I think the, right hon. Gentleman will agree I have not been making unfair or untrue statements. I am taking it from the "Times" Educational Supplement of 7th November, 1925: Lord Eustace Percy, speaking at Hastings on Tuesday, said he agreed to a great extent with the view that they were now teaching the child too much, and they ought to confine the curriculum more to the three Rs and domestic instruction.


I deny completely that that is what I said. That is entirely inaccurate. If the hon. Member will read on, he will see what the real paint of the speech was.


The right hon. Gentleman continually wants me to rend on and on and it will take me a considerable time to read those speeches of his. I say deliberately that it is the intention of this Circular to restrict the scope and function and the purpose of the elementary schools. As it is going to have that effect, every educationist throughout the country will resist it even if only because of that. We will not stand idly by and see the scope and function of the elementary school curtailed. For years there have been experiments carried on, new developments undertaken. Your school to-day is much more than a medium of instruction in the three Rs; it is a great social institution catering for the whole personality of the child, body, mind and soul, and we will not go back to the days of the three Rs even if Circular 1371 is issued.

I want my hon. Friends here to get a chance in the Debate and my last point is this. I cannot understand the statements on the financial arrangements under this Circular. The right hon. Gentleman talks about giving the local authorities freedom. It would be far better if he gave them cash. He says that he expects a drop in expenditure, on loan services.

I am going to give a few of the many I found out very hurriedly. Hornsey, loan charge in 1924–25, £5,000; estimate 1926–27, £10,000. Kent County Council, loan charges, 1924-25, £40,000; 1925–26, £46,000; 1926–27, £59,000. Where comes the saving on loan charges? Bridlington, loan charges, 1924–25, £1,100; 1926– 27, £1,900. Carmarthenshire, 1924–25, £12,500; 1926–27, £19,000. Chorley, 1924–25, £400; 1926–27, £1,200. Can the right hon. Gentleman provide one single instance of an authority that has at all met Us building programme where loan charges were not increased? If these charges were undertaken, they were undertaken under the promise of a percentage system of grants and the expenditure that will accrue under the new rationed grant was undertaken on the basis of the percentage system of grants. That is a deliberate breach of faith with the authorities of this country. The right hon. Gentleman says: " I am giving the widest freedom. They can carry on. They have educational destinies in their own hands." Why, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman, is every authority in the country up in arms against this proposal? They much prefer him to go on applying the percentage grant, keeping faith with those people in order that the system of education, which has been crippled for too long and which ought to be developed on the last plan to the material advantage of this country, should go on. If he imposes this Circular, he will be pointed to as the President of the Board who made great promises, but took no effective action. He has done worse than any other President of the Board to ruin and spoil our educational system.


I am a believer in the Ten Minutes Rule, and I know in Debates like this all Members as far as possible should have an opportunity of expressing their opinions. I certainly shall not waste any time in criticising the past career, educational or otherwise, of the Noble Lord. Speaking for myself, I believe him to be a thoroughly progressive educationist. That is why I have great hopes that when he continues to think over this Circular he will think it was a great pity it was ever issued. I have several reasons which I will briefly place before the House why I object to this Circular. In the first place, I regret that it was sprung upon the local educational authorities. If I may say so, it would have been very much wiser if the Noble Lord had referred to the different education authorities before he issued the Circular. I am quite sure he would have discovered very strong local opinion against it. I think this is a very bad time for us to economise with the best raw material that we have got. It is the time to make the best use we can of our raw material. I think it is admitted on all hands that our best raw material will always be the child.

I am quite free to admit that economy is absolutely essential at the present time, but it must be sound economy. There is an economy which, in my opinion, is very extravagant. For instance, we have the privilege of having many Members of this House who are experts in agriculture. They would not think it very wise on the part of a farmer who wanted to economise on the seed put into the land. I look on the children as the seed of the nation. It is from this seed that we shall either reap in years to come a good, bad, or indifferent harvest. I look upon education as belonging to quite a different category from nearly every other item of expenditure, and for this reason. You may go slow in many other directions, you may economise for seven or 10 years, and very often when you commence work when times are better, you go on without a great deal of harm being done. It is not so with education. You go slow for seven or 10 years, and you handicap for life those people grow- ing up in that period. You cannot replace the "going slow" in education as far as the people are concerned.

There is one great flaw in the proposals, and it is this: that although it may not contemplate at once a reduction in the expenditure on education, it certainly does mean one thing, and that is that you remove from the taxes and place upon the rates an increased expenditure.

Speaking for myself, I am of opinion that the ratepayer pays now more than he ought to pay of what is becoming more and more a national obligation and less and less a local one. I cannot help fancying that this Circular will have the effect of rather discouraging the local authorities in their educational programme. I should not make any local reference had it not been that the Noble Lord referred to Devonshire and Cornwall. I know nothing of Cornwall, and I should not speak of the other parts of Devonshire, but I would point out to the Noble Lord that, if his programme is carried out to the full extent, and if the city which I represent continues its progress, this Circular means an increase in the rates of about 2d. in the £. If that applies to other parts of the country, where the ratepayers are already heavily burdened, it will result in the discouragement of any development of educational policy. We all recognise that it is essential to give every child the best education possible. Why does the rich man send his son to Eton? Not because it is the only place at which his son can be educated, but because he thinks that an education at Eton gives the boy a good chance in life. The same thing should apply to the children of the poorer people. We ought to give them the best chance.

Occasionally I go to a race meeting, and I am not ashamed of it, because I like to see a good horse. At a race meeting I do not expect all the horses to reach the winning-post at the same time. Like every other sportsman, however, I like to see them all get a fair start. I do not suggest that all children will be at a dead level when the race is over, but I do say—and I am sure, as we are all good sportsmen in this House, wherever we sit, that all hon. Members will agree with me—that whatever happens at the end of the race, we should at least give all children a fair chance at the start of the great race of life. An hon. Member in this Debate said that the Conservative party never did much for education. I think he is mistaken. Nearly 40 years ago a Conservative Government gave the country free education. I do not want the Conservative party to go back on that policy. We should show to-day that we are as progressive as we were 40 years ago. I still hope and trust that this will not be treated as a party or political question, and if I oppose the Noble Lord's Circular it is merely because I believe it to be detrimental to the progress of education, and I look on education as the one thing which, in the long run, will maintain the greatness of this country.


Some months ago there was an attack upon the educational policy of this Government in a leading journal, and one of the principal grounds of the attack was that the words of the President of the Board of Education and those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) and those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) upon the subject of education had a remarkable similarity. When I saw that that was the ground of the attack, I felt that one need not worry any longer about the question of education. So long as the three great parties were united on the general lines of policy with regard to education, I felt that that all-important question was pretty safe. The author of that attack on our educational policy must be pleased to-day with the result of his work. We now see the three parties hopelessly divided on a subject on which the whole future of the country depends. There are many technicalities connected with this question which can be dealt with better by those who have practical experience of the subject, but behind all the technicalities with which it is possible to obscure the issue, behind all the exaggerations in which some people indulge so as to acquire party capital out of the question, one fact emerges as clear as day, although we may not like it— that is, that it is the intention of this Circular, and will probably be its result, to diminish expenditure upon education. If you diminish expenditure upon any commodity, in 999 cases out of 1,000 you reduce the amount of that commodity which you receive. It is possible, of course, to spend money wisely or unwisely. One man will get more for a small amount than another man will get for a larger amount. But if you reduce the amount which the extravagant and unwise man is able to spend you will not endue him with any new qualities of economy or wisdom in regulating his expenditure.

In this case, those who are going to control the expenditure will be the same people, but they will have less to control. The conclusion is inevitable that you are going to get for less money, less education. We are often told in this connection that the French people spend very much less upon education than we do and get a superior article for their money. I believe that to be true. I am a great admirer of the French people, and in no way do they show their excellence more than in their control of their own private expenditure. A Frenchman spends less upon his dinner than an Englishman, and he certainly gets a much better meal. Does anybody therefore argue that the Englishman would do well to cut down his expenditure upon his dinner, or that he would be likely in that way to secure any improvement in the food which he would obtain? I do not think it is an argument anybody would advance; it is certainly not one on which anybody would act, yet it is just as sensible an argument as to say that you are going to get a superior quality of education by spending less money upon it.

We on this side of the House are often accused of being reactionary. It is an accusation that never worries me because I know reaction is an impossibility in practical politics, but I believe that many of those who are seriously and sincerely in favour of reducing expenditure upon education are moved by a reactionary motive and, in my opinion, a perfectly sensible and logical one. It is the opinion of many people that education does more harm than good; that those who, in the unfortunate circumstances of their lives, are bound to spend the greater part of their time in some unintellectual and uninteresting manual labour are not rendered any better, any happier, or any more con-tented by receiving an education superior to that which their ancestors received. I have always thought there was a great deal to be said for that point of view, and that education brought many evils in its train such as a cheap Press and an enormous output of worthless literature. I remember 16 years ago I advocated that point of view in no less an assembly than the Oxford Union Debating Society, and I was then reproved for making a frivolous speech in a serious debate. It was pointed out to me that an attack upon education was entirely out of place in an assembly which was devoted to the discussion of serious politics, because any retracing of steps in the matter of education was not practical politics. I think I deserved the reproof, and what was not practical politics 16 years ago is very much less practical politics to-day.

Therefore I would remind hon. Members of any party who feel that by reducing expenditure on education they may be diminishing the evil which they deplore, that they are no more doing that than they would, if they were to reduce the wages of railwaymen, be likely to re-introduce the era of stage coaches. All they can secure is that education shall be incomplete and that the little learning which was always a dangerous thing, shall remain in the small proportions in which it is doled out at the present time. They cannot stop the progress of this movement; they can only delay it. When it comes to delaying it I would ask the Government to consider from the purely material and above all from the economic point of view whether we can afford it. We are so used to the word " economy " that we are beginning to think it means nothing but saving money. Economy, of course, means nothing of the kind. The miser who dies in starvation with a hoard of gold under his pillow is a far worse economist than the spendthrift who throws his gold into the gutter. From the purely economical point of view, can we afford to cut down expenditure upon education? I read the other day a remarkable report upon the financial, commercial and industrial position of the United States of America. It was drawn up by members of the Federation of British Industries and it showed the tremendous wealth of that country at the present time. Foremost amongst the causes which had contributed in the opinion of those who drew up this report, to this almost unprecedented development of wealth is the efficiency of labour, and when they come to discuss the efficiency of labour they put foremost among the causes of that efficiency the high standard of education.

We have lived through a period and are still living in a period when the security of any power and its future safety depend very largely upon the armaments which it keeps up. Some of us hope to see that era pass. It is not likely to pass in our own time and so long as it existed and so long as it still exists we were right and we will be right to maintain at the highest possible point of efficiency our national defenses. But when that period passes, and we believe it is passing, there will come another era of competition between the nations of this world in which the vital factor will be the efficiency of labour. In the long run the future of this country, its power, prosperity and wealth will depend not upon minerals hidden in the soil, not upon the climate or geographical position of this island but upon the capability, character and efficiency of its men and women and above all of the men and women of the next generation. To reduce expenditure upon education is to tamper with that all-important element of national security. It is a risk which in my opinion we should hardly dare to take at the present time.

With regard to the principle embodied in the Circular, I believe that the principle of a block grant is right. It seems to me, on the face of it, without, I con fess, any export experience, that it is better that those who are going to control expenditure and who are responsible for schemes of development should know before they sit down to that work exactly how much money they will have to spend. If that theory be right, and I am sure the President of the Board of Education believes it to he right, I ask him could it be launched under more unfavourable circumstances than those under which it is being launched at the present time. If this is the right system upon which to work, it is being started with the hostility of all the people who are responsible for working it. Upon the education authorities and the teachers that responsibility must devolve. How can they work it properly unless they feel some enthusiasm, or, at any rate, some good will towards it from the outset. Might it not have been possible to change the system without involving any reduction of expenditure, without the? per cent. deduction, without the withdrawal of the allowance for children under five? Surely some agreement could have been come to by the Noble Lord, in consultation with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) and the right hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher). I cannot believe it is impossible, and I still have a hope that it may be done.

Materially and spiritually, I believe it is striking a great blow at the best interests of this country. I received the other day a copy of a magazine edited and composed entirely by young people attending a higher education centre, and there was in it an article written by a girl who had just left the school and was working in a factory. She described the difference of the long hours of monotonous manual labour after the variety and the interest of the changing life of the school, and she said that in order to put up with the tedium she used to spend her time in repeating to herself as much as she could remember of the poetry that she had learned by heart at school. I thought it was a rather pathetic picture, the child standing by the side of the machine and trying to remember the verses that she had been taught. It seemed in a way symbolical of the effort of culture and the best form of civilisation to keep up its end in the struggle with the materialistic world, the world of industry, as it exists to-day; but I was afraid that the battle was one-sided, and that finally the roar of the machinery would reduce that small, courageous voice to silence. I am quite sure that every Member of this House is on the same side in that battle, and I know for certain that there is no more eager supporter, no keener and more devoted adherent, of the cause in question than my Noble Friend the President of the Board of Education.

I would ask him to reflect once more whether what he is doing is worth while; to put into the scale, upon the one hand, all that he hopes to get out of this Circular—and he knows better than any of us what he really thinks will be the result of it—together with the sum of money, small or large as it may be, that he hopes to save, and to put, upon the other side, the discouragement which has been broadcast among all his fellow workers in the same cause, the consternation that they feel, the apprehension of worse times coming, the putting back of the clock which they have felt, perhaps wrongly, to be the true significance of this Circular, and let him weigh, so far as such things are capable of being weighed, those two scales carefully, and decide whether it is worth the while.


As one who has for some years been a member of a local authority and the chairman of a committee there, I would like to say that if I could believe that the result of this Circular will be what it has been made out to be by those who are supporting the Vote of Censure, I for one, undoubtedly, would agree with them, because there can be no question that if there were an intention to reduce the expenditure on education at the present moment, it would be a most fatal thing for this country.

The last speaker, the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Duff Cooper), made a very eloquent speech, and I am sure we all appreciated it very highly. That speech did express our feelings as regards the need of education being maintained at a high level in this country, but as I understand the issue to-night it is: What is intended by this Circular? What I and many, I am sure, in the country feel, is that there has been a complete misunderstanding of the intentions of the Circular. I will go further, and say that many of us feel—and I am sure the Noble Lord will not mind our saying so—that the Circular might have been expressed rather differently, because if so many of those who are in sympathy with the objects of the Circular find it difficult at first to understand that Circular, it is no wonder that there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding in the country.

But those who have listened to the Noble Lord and to the explanations that have been given, those who have read the Circular carefully, must, I think, come to this conclusion. We know the record of the Noble Lord. We know that he is just as earnest in the cause of education as the most earnest educationist in this country, and his explanation to-day, and the explanation he has given before, has led many of us to this conclusion, that there is no intention of hampering the efforts to maintain and improve the efficiency of the national system of education; secondly, that there is no intention of reducing the cost of education to the taxpayer by making wholesale transfers of expenditure to the rates; and, thirdly, that there is no intention of interfering with the settlement effected by Lord Burnham on the complex question of the salaries of the teachers. It seems to me that those three points have emerged most clearly from what the Noble Lord has said today, and it is for that reason that I do not think it fair to judge the Circular in the way in which it has been judged.

One has listened with great interest to the very able speeches delivered on the Opposition side of the House to-day, and to the very interesting extracts and quotations' from the Noble Lord's speeches, and on one occasion, at any rate, I was reminded of what was said some time ago, to the effect that you can get anything out of the Bible if you take extracts. For example, it says distinctly, "Judas …. went, and hanged himself." "Go, and do thou likewise." That is the effect produced on me by listening to some of the quotations from the Noble Lord's speeches that have been given. If I understand his Circular, it defines the intention of the Government to give a minimum grant. I have not heard the word " minimum" used on this side to-day, but, as I understand it, there is the minimum, and we must read this Circular in conjunction with Circular 1358. We know the Noble Lord is not chopping and changing every minute, and we must read these two Circulars together. The one involves schemes and programmes for some years ahead, and the other indicates the way in which they are to be carried out. We have as local authorities schemes, it may be, for developing the technical education of the young people, and, as I understand it, we are not going to have those schemes interfered with. I understand that the Noble Lord is quite clear on that point, that where schemes are clearly laid down in the interests of the development of education they will be supported, but as such, and I cannot help feeling that there has not been a sufficiently full and fair consideration of the true intentions of this Circular.

I would urge those in this House and in the country who have jumped to a conclusion as to the effect of the Circular without a proper study, that they suspend their judgment, because they will find that the intentions of the Circular and of the Noble Lord are exactly in correspondence with the earnest desire of those who wish to see our education maintained at the high and increasing level at which it has been maintained, in order to meet the growing requirements of this country and of the world.


I should like to say a little as to how this Circular will affect Scottish education. We have a very direct interest in this matter, as our educational grant in Scotland is given at the rate of eleven-eightieths of the English and Welsh expenditure. The Scottish people have always prided themselves on their high standard of education, and we who are Scottish representatives are very anxious that that standard should not be lowered. The Scottish Education Department has sought to allay our anxiety by issuing Circular 69, but I am afraid that they Slave not been entirely successful in that effort. Its real message is contained in this sentence: The imposition of a limit on the grants-in-aid for England and Wales will automatically produce a similar effect on the money to be paid into the Education (Scotland) Fund. It follows that any fresh responsibilities assumed by your authority during the next three years will have to be financed mainly, or it may be entirely, from savings, if a rise in the education rate is to be avoided. I think that is very significant. The Circular goes on to point out that high rates are also undesirable and that education, authorities can only safeguard themselves and their ratepayers by effecting further economies. Now the normal increase of school population is not confined to particular areas which may receive the special treatment which it has been indicated might be given to certain areas in England. It will be general, and it must involve increased expenditure by the education authorities in the next three years which the ratepayers apparently will require to pay. Then again, the movement for the reduction of classes must be arrested by the stoppage of buildings and extensions of buildings, and by the restriction of the supply of teachers, which appear to be involved in the working out of this Circular. All of these facts will doubtless be emphasised by other speakers, but I would wish specially to devote myself to considering the importance of the medical and public health aspects of the new situation.

In consequence of the serious facts in regard to the physical condition of the school children in Scotland, found by a Royal Commission in 1902, and later by an Inter-Departmental Committee, the Education (Scotland) Act of 1908 made provision for the medical inspection of school children, and the later Act of 1913 gave definite powers for treatment as well as for inspection. The War followed, suspending even medical inspection, and making it impossible to provide the proposed centres for treatment. After the War, medical inspection was early restored in the burghs, but, even as late as 1920, school medical officers had not been appointed in some of the counties, and only in a few burghs had treatment been introduced. Since then, there has been slow and satisfactory development, but a great deal remains to be done. I wish to urge that prevention of disease by a recognition of defects and ailments and the providing of treatment for these are not only in the interests of humanity and public health, but also in the interests of true economy. For a weakly child tends to become later a burden on public funds. Now the Board of Health points out to local education authorities that an effectively organised health service should provide for inspection, following up, treatment and prevention. No local scheme as yet provides adequately for all of these services, and the Board of Health, in their latest Report, explain this fact by saying: There has boon neither the time nor the opportunity to develop them fully. Will the Circular policy prevent the development?

Then again, the condition of many of the schools could be very greatly improved. Many of the education authorities of Scotland have been looking into this matter and have been making arrangements to improve the schools. In all probability these plans will be arrested.

In 1924 there were over 750,000 school children in Scotland. Of 215,000 medically examined in the year ending, July, 1924, 7 3 per cent. showed a state of nutrition below the average and over two per 1,000 were in a state of very poor nutrition. These figures have been getting worse during the recent years of unemployment and the plain fact is that many children in Scotland are not getting enough to eat. How is the feeding of school children going to be affected by this Circular? At present supplementary meals are given by many progressive authorities. These will probably require to be discontinued, and other authorities will not be likely to start giving the supplementary meals which are so desirable in certain cases.

Again, many children are suffering from markedly enlarged tonsils and adenoids. These were found in 44 per cent. of the children. Most of these cases were sufficiently serious to require operation. I would point out to hon. Members that a child in such a condition is liable to contract tuberculosis, rheumatic fever, and many other serious and disabling diseases. Only in a few cases is there any arrangement so far for treating these conditions. Five per cent. of the children had seriously defective vision and 6 per cent. required spectacles. Early and skilled attention to this matter is important for the child and for the community. One child in every 100 had running ears, which is a very dangerous condition, leading often to permanent deafness and frequently to danger to life itself.

Forty-six per cent. of all the Scottish children examined were defective or ailing in one way or another, and even on the number examined, which was only one-third of the total school population, the 46 per cent. represented 99,000 children. The probable total number of ailing or physically defective children in Scotland is just under 300,000. These children are not fit and yet they are being educated. Deformities, of various kinds, are also very common. It is estimated by orthopædic specialists that 75 per cent. of the children in cripple institutions or being maintained at home or in other places, could, by effective and early treatment, be put in a position to support themselves, so that later they would not become a burden on the community. Glasgow, Dundee, and Dunfermline have already centres for orthopædic treatment, and Paisley also has a small centre. Is this work, which is so important, going to be stopped or slackened, and are other centres to be prevented from being opened because of local economies forced upon education authorities?

My last point is in regard to dental treatment. This is a comparatively new service, but it is of vital importance. There are many well known as well as obscure diseases caused by a bad condition of the teeth, and here, if anywhere, a stitch in time saves nine. Educational authorities are now authorised to provide dental services and to charge the parents where the parents can afford to pay. I do not wish to weary the House by giving detailed figures, but the serious position can he realised by the fact that in Scotland no fewer than 405,000 school children are in need of early dental treatment. That docs not include all who have bad teeth, but those who are fairly urgent cases. This service has been making considerable progress of late years, but there are still five educational authorities in Scotland who make no provision at all for dental treatment, and most of the others have a very inadequate service, dealing only with urgent cases. Now, it has not been easy, and in this connection I think the Board of Health is entitled to great credit for its efforts, to get local authorities to go in for these medical and dental services, and it is only now that those authorities are beginning to realise how important they are. I would like to know if the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland is sure that this Circular 69, the offshoot of Circular 1371, will not damp the enthusiasm of progressive authorities and salve the consciences of those who are otherwise. I would very earnestly suggest that these important medical and public health services should be kept outside the area of this controversial grant altogether, and that they should be met by a " special services " grant. Their development then will not be hampered by the fluctuations which may attend the purely financial policy of the Department.

I could give many other illustrations of the importance of this subject, but I hope I have said enough to show that it would be very foolish to water down or to mark time on these services. These services are justified, not only by motives of humanity, but they are in the truest interest of education. Hon. Members realise how difficult it is to take an interest in the business of this House if one is not feeling fit. Think then how cruel it is to be pumping education into a child that is either half-starved or is not in good health, and that is what we are doing every school day throughout the country. I say that whatever services are retrenched, this service should not be retrenched. Education is very good, but health is better. To pay for the rearing of a healthy adult population is not really wasteful expenditure, but is the truest and most far-reaching economy.


I wish to deal purely with the question of nursery schools that will be affected by the withdrawal of a grant of 30s. per head, because the question of the children under five was dismissed rather at the end of the Noble Lord's speech as though it was not of very particular importance. According to the Report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education in 1923, it was stated that 80 to 90 per cent. of the children are born healthy, but that 35 to 40 per cent. of these admitted to schools at five years old are suffering from preventible defects, which means that, as these are the percentages for the whole population, the percentages for the slum child are very much higher.

The Noble Lord rather dismissed the idea of the education of children under five as being such an unnecessary social service on the ground that certain over-populated areas in this country were not apparently taking as full advantage of it as might have been thought necessary. He gave figures which, taking out Middlesbrough, illustrated the need for these services of children under five. Northumberland and Durham are largely mining areas, where in every case the woman stays at home, whereas in West. Ham you have very, very large numbers of mothers who have to go out to work, and that is why it is so necessary that they should have somewhere to send their children other than the streets. I want to say further; there has been going on—I admit it is not a very large number —this enormously important experiment in nursery schools. It is a great experiment, and it is an experiment to be encouraged, but I have a long report which I could read by the Director of Education in Manchester who says with regard to nursery schools that by the long waiting List for each, and by their popularity with the children and parents, it is judged that they probably should be doubled at once if there is to be sufficient accommodation. Not only can accommodation not be doubled, but it will not be doubled without overburdening the already heavily rated area itself, or to continue the present accommodation if this Circular 1371 is carried into effect. I want to ask the Noble Lord to consider, if he will, the use of this education of children under five, how necessary it is. I have been a pupil teacher in a sum school. I know a case that came under my own notice, of a child that was brought to us, but we were not a nursery school. That child, although suffering from bronchial trouble, had to be tied in its chair by its mother, who did washing at homo for a living, and it had to spend the whole of its day, not able to run about and exercise its limbs because the poor woman was not able to do anything with the child but keep it practically a prisoner. In many of these big areas there are no playgrounds for these children; it means that they are on the pavement; that they live in the streets. It is much more than that. Doctors and psychologists admit that almost the most important part of a child's education are these impressionable years of from two to five.

This experiment of nursery schools was to take these children out of all the grime and horror and ugliness of our big industrial areas, and give them bright nursery conditions, teach them clean personal habits, teach them love of duty and self-control, and just lay the foundations of those decent social habits which go to make good citizens. Can you compare battleships with that? Are battleships as important as that? The Noble Lord may consider that this is merely sentimental. It is probably so, but when most of his own friends and children can have that beauty and that air and love, we are concerned that these people, whom our industrial system deprives, should have of these very necessary things, sunshine and light, and the possibilities of rest. The nursery school gave it; they gave to children opportunities for rest, for getting air and light and sunshine, and all those possibilities of making a firm beginning. I want to ask the Noble Lord if this reduction of 30s. is absolutely final.


It has nothing to do with nursery schools.


How can the Noble Lord say that? Obviously the only inhabitants of nursery schools are children under five. If he is taking away a grant of 30s. per head from children under five, then he is obviously reducing the amount to be spent by these schools.


The reduction in children under five is in elementary schools and does not affect nursery-schools; they are special schools.


Ah, but will the Noble Lord tell me that it does not also affect nursery classes?


No I do not think so.

8.0 P.M.


In a very large number of elementary schools, as for instance in Manchester, they have largo numbers of class rooms which we call the nursery schools but they are part of the general elementary education, and they are set apart for this equipment of which I have been speaking. They have the separate low washbowls and all the equipment of nursery schools. If the Noble Lord would read nursery classes instead of nursery schools it would amount to the same thing. The point is that the whole of these essential services is not only to be starved but practically cut out if this grant of 30s. is taken away from the children in these nursery classes.

I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education has returned, because I wanted to say something which it is quite impossible to say in her absence. Many women, quite apart from party, rejoiced when the one woman Minister in the present Government was sent to the Board of Education. We felt that, of all the services where a woman could be of use, it was in the sphere of education. I want to appeal to her and to ask her as a woman if she can prevent the cutting down of these grants to these babies in these big industrial areas, babies who have no one to look after them. It is a service so essential for their future. If we are to have the spectacle of the one woman Minister defending this reduction of the grant, many of us will be extremely disappointed, and will feel that all we have said about her in public will have to be to some extent denied.


There is a fallacy that appears to be at the bottom of the opposition to this particular circular, and the speech of the right hon. Member seemed to share it. He took a purely materialistic view. He talked about education as a commodity and argued that if you spend less you get less of the commodity. It is nothing of the kind. It is a spiritual matter. It does not come by more spending of money. Some money, no doubt, is necessary, but we used to have a good system of education in Scotland for very little money, and I think it was a better system than we have now in many places for the expenditure of a great deal of money. This idea that by sheer expenditure you are going to get something better is a complete educational fallacy. The hon. Member for Welling borough (Mr. Cove) rather gave away his case when he said that the elementary teachers would oppose anything that would affect the status of the elementary schools because they knew it would affect their own status in the end. That was rather an unfortunate way of putting it. He said there was an attempt to bring people back to the three "R's." I wish we saw more of the three "R's." If you take boys from the elementary schools, you will not find a great percentage of them that can read coherently, write a decent letter and do their sums properly.


How many Members of Parliament can?


There may be quite a large number of them who cannot. I do not know about that. I have not tested them. I think, possibly, an examination would be a very useful thing for Members of Parliament. The fact is, you are not getting education, and I think it is because there is a great deal of pretence about modern teaching. I have discovered that nowadays in schools, instead of calling it "arithmetic," as they used to call it in my young days, they call it "prime mathematics," and try to pretend that they are going into some higher sphere of education. I feel that this system of block grants that is proposed will probably lead to a closer surveillance of local education, because the local authorities, having a great responsibility put upon them instead of being guided entirely from Whitehall and Edinburgh, will keep a closer surveillance and will see that they are getting the best value. I can assure the House that there is a very general feeling in many parts of the country that we do not get anything like real value for the amount expended. The House must recollect that the Education Act, 1918. was slipped through this House. It went through this House two days before the Germans broke through in 1918, at a time when the country had not the slighest idea of the burden that was being imposed upon them. We had a similar Act passed shortly afterwards for Scotland. There is a very strong feeling, especially in the country districts, that it has imposed a burden altogether out of proportion to the advantages that have been obtained from it.

The system of education that is being pursued is not suitable for the country districts at all. It may be all very well for boys of the town to sit indoors from one end of the year to another, but I believe in the open air life for country boys. I believe they would be much better if, during a larger part of the summer, they were in the open air. I wish more attention were devoted by educational authorities to the great experiments made in the United States in open-air schools. When I had to do hard study, I always liked to be out in the open air and not to be confined to a room, because one's brain is always more active. I think some attempt should be made to look into that idea. It will be better for the. scholars and may save a lot of money. It has been an enormous success in many parts of the United States, where they have found that it has improved the physique and the educational standards of the scholars.

With regard to what the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels) said about health, those matters are not matters of education. Those should be separate services. Take the question of dental services. What is needed is education of the people as to the proper kind of food to eat, hard food that will preserve them from dental cavies. I well remember the late Member for the Western Isles, Dr. Murray, telling us that when he was a boy it was the rarest thing to see anyone over 70 with anything wrong with their teeth, while now it is the rarest thing to see the youngest people with their teeth sound. They were fed in those days on simpler and harder food. It is a dietetic education that they want.

I would demur from anything that I thought would impair the facilities of the community, but I do think that this percentage grant was a direct incentive to money being expended not in the way that was likely to yield the best results. I see the local authorities are protesting a lot. The reason is that it is easy to get money out of the Exchequer at a distance, but it is harder to get it out of the local people. The local people will insist upon their getting value, and that is why the local authorities are protesting. I believe that by giving them a block grant and bringing the local people into direct touch and letting them see that their money is well expended you will get better results.

One saving that might be made is in officials. One of my local people told me how he was trying to give a few lessons in gardening to the children. He said that when a couple of men came down in an expensive motor car after a long journey by steamer to see about that little bit of gardening, it made him think of the enormous expense involved. Look at the educational directors we have! Look at the psychologists! I saw that one county had appointed a consulting psychologist. I wonder why they have not appointed a crystal gazer. All these things are not helping education. I believe that if the Imperial Government were to take a census of the number of children in each county and then say to the local people, "Here is a sum of money—so much per head. Educate your children in the way you think best," you would find that the country people would give the country boys the best education for them, while the town people would give the town boys the best education for them. This attempt to turn out a common stamp of education all over the country is one of the greatest mistakes ever made. Leave these local districts to develop their own schemes and their own systems. By doing that you build up variety and build up much better the character of your people.


I think I have heard the gist of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) on three or four occasions before, but it is none the less welcome because we have heard it once more. I was interested to learn from the hon. Member that some education authority has appointed a consulting psychologist. I am quite sure that if there were a consulting psychologist attached to this House he would have no more interesting study than the hon. and learned Member. This Circular 1371 applies nominally to England and Wales only, but in fact it equally affects Scotland. It is because of that that I venture to interpose in this Debate. It will be noted that in the Circular itself there is a constant reference to the President of the Board of Education, and not to the Board itself. We are not told whether it has been fully discussed by the Cabinet and whether the Circular indicates the final resolve of the Cabinet in regard to this educational problem. There is one omission. There is no indication of the Secretary for Scotland being a party to the Circular which has been issued. It is quite true that we have been told in this House that the Secretary for Scotland was consulted, but it is like a little cockleshell against a man-of-war to have the Board of Education brought into an argument so far as the natural resources for Scotland are concerned.

I would like to know from the Secretary for Scotland what share he really has in the preparation or approval of this Circular. The Circular itself really opens up quite a new outlook from the financial and from the educational point of view. The declared purpose of the Circular is to secure some economy in educational administration, but at the same time there is a complete change of view with regard to the State's responsibility in the matter of the education of its citizens.

From the very outset of his taking office, the President of the Board of Education has made considerable reference to the duty which falls on local authorities. In almost the first speech he made he said that any new advance must come from the local authorities. I hold that the President cannot divest himself of responsibility. Nor can the Government divest themselves of responsibility by merely shifting some of the duties that really belong to them on to the shoulders of the local authorities. The Government must be finally responsible for the education which is given, and it is their duty to see that, so long as they choose to co-operate with a local authority, that local authority will do its fair share of the work. We have various kinds of local authorities. There are some who are animated by a progressive spirit, but there are many others we know who do not do more than they are compelled to do.

The Circular issued by the Scottish Education Department is really an explanatory apologia for Circular 1371. The Circular issued by the Scottish Education Department goes somewhat further, in so far as it says that the other Circular must be regarded as the considered opinion of the Cabinet with regard to educational administration. The President of the Board of Education has had the opportunity of consultation with the local authorities in England, but how does Scotland stand in this matter? Automatically the reduced grant for England will mean a reduced grant for Scotland, but the Scottish authorities have no means of making their views known on this matter. They have simply to accept the decision come to with regard to this Circular, and make the best of the means placed at their disposal. It is said in the Circular issued by the Scottish Board of Education that Scottish authorities have some experience of the block grant. I hold that that is not quite so. The grant made to Scottish education authorities is not the block grant in anything like the sense in which we speak of it in Circular No. 1371. The grant to education authorities in Scotland is based on many varying factors— the number of teachers, the number of pupils, the rating value, and so on, and so we have got in Scotland a system of block grants from which any deduction may be made with regard to the fair working of such a scheme.

I hold that the block grant will be almost impossible in operation, and I am very sorry indeed that the President of the Board of Education has felt compelled by circumstances to issue this Circular at all. If I may say so, the Noble Lord had begun to build up a reputation which, I think, would stand high in the records of Presidents of the Board, and I am afraid that the issue of a Circular of this kind is very likely to damage a reputation which began with such promise. Therefore, I could hope that, even at this late time, the President would take advice, not from the benches on this side, but would leave it to his own best friends and the best friends of education on his own side. Nothing has given me greater pleasure this afternoon than to hear the speeches of the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir It. Newman) and the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Cooper). It has also given me great pleasure to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Macquisten), because the oftener the hon. Member speaks against education, the more advanced education is likely to be.

I view with great misgiving the argument put forward that the block grant system would allow education authorities much more initiative and freedom than they have at the present time. I think I can say what I have already said in this House some years ago, that the system adopted in Scotland of giving something like a block grant to the education authorities has resulted very largely in the Scottish Education Department losing its power of encouraging progressive authorities, and of stimulating those who are retrogressive. I am quite sure there will be no satisfactory solution of the problem in England or elsewhere, so long as we have a dual administration of central and local authority, unless the one works in co-operation with the other and not independently of it; and, therefore it ought to be an important principle that each contributes its fair share. In conclusion, I would urge the Secretary for Scotland to say a few words on the Scottish aspect of this question before the Debate closes.

Viscountess ASTO R

I want to back up what has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I do not like this Circular at all. I think it was a mistake, and a clumsy mistake. If, as the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir It. Newman) says, it does not mean economising on our education, what does it mean? What I most regret is going back to a block grant system—a system which has been tried and found wanting. I am really not frightened about the children, under five, because the Minister has said that he is prepared to consider favourably a special grant in areas where it is clearly necessary that children under five should be at school. If he is going to do that, there will be very few areas he can leave out. But I am very nervous about this block grant system, and I want briefly to say why. The right hon. Member for the English Universities Mr. Fisher) showed that the last Committee to report about this in 1914, reported all against the block grant system, and said the only hope of progress was; the percentage grant, and that has been proved. It has been shown in our different services. Take, for instance, the school medical service, the infant welfare service, the tuberculosis campaign, and the juvenile employment service. These have all been built up on the percentage grant system. I remember the same old cry, "We do not want more bureaucracy." It is not a question, really, of bureaucracy. It is the helping hand of the central authority which is needed to stimulate the backward areas.

That is, really, the root of the whole thing. We want Whitehall to keep in touch with local authorities through their inspectors, and to raise the general level of education throughout the country. What is more, we want them to ensure that the taxpayers' money is being spent on sound schemes, and not on schemes that are out-of-date. The President of the Board of Education has not made it at all clear. I do not know whether he was for more central or more local control. One moment he spoke as though it were absolutely necessary that the central authority should watch how money was spent, and the next moment he said he wanted to give more power to the local authority. The President of the Board of Education has not helped me to make up my mind at all about the Circular. I am perfectly certain that he himself wants the best education; but my point is this: that somehow he has been bad by the Treasury. It is net that I at all suspect the Minister of Education. I do not, nor do I for a mement suspect the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary at present on the Front Bench, but I am very frightened of the Treasury. I see in this another Geddes axe. We saw what happened to the Fisher Act under the Geddes axe. I should like to ask the Government about this. When the Committee reported, there were certain Departments suggested where ecomonies might be affected. There are some of these that, so far, the Government have never tackled at all. There were the defensive Services. I should like to see the Government tackle these before education. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about armaments?"] There is not armaments at all.

Sir Eric Geddes did not know a great deal about local authorities and some other matters, although he might know a great deal about administration, gained by war service. He put the Admiralty, I think, in the forefront of the economies. He suggested co-ordination in the fighting Services. No Government has ever attacked that. Another thing I should like to say to the Government: I do not think it is fair for us to change our present system of percentage grants, which has been proved a success, until we see the Report of the Meston Committee. None of us have Been it yet. We may know something of it. You can always hear everything that is going on if you are alert, and are wishful to discover, and I gather that they are in favour of the percentage grant system. If that be so, I think the House ought to know. It is a very big step for the Board of Education to take to reverse a policy of education which has been approved, as the percentage grant system has been approved, by former Education Ministers—by the late Labour Education Minister (Mr. Trevelyan), by Lord Gain-ford when he was Minister of Education, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher); while I never heard that Mr. Edward Wood, who is going out to be Viceroy of India, was against the percentage grant system. The House ought to look at the proposal with great suspicion. It is a reactionary step.

There is one other thing I wanted to say. We know that the Government, the prime Minister, and the whole of the Cabinet have pledged themselves in favour of educational development. Of course it is expensive, but you cannot have any sort of progress without expense. We have had splendid speeches from the hon. Member for Exeter and several other of the younger Members, who are of the very best in the country—young and ardent in favour of education. We really cannot afford to economise on education. It is the very last thing. I do not want a reckless expenditure. I believe that the country is divided up in this matter into three classes of people. There is the man who says we do not want to teach the people anything except reading, writing and arithmetic. That is generally the man who has been taught everything else, or has got such natural abilities that he can get on with them. Then we have the ardent and enthusiastic hon. Members on the other side of the House who say that everybody should be educated up to the age of 21 with maintenance grants, [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Perhaps that is the extreme view. I should not say with maintenance grant—possibly that is an exaggeration. But there are extremists who believe in this. I hope that while the Government intends to have a progressive educational development, education will be the last thing the expenditure of which is cut down.

This Circular is a great disappointment to us. It has come as an absolute bombshell to moat of us. But what I am so frightened of is that perhaps hon. Members are not aware that the block grant— and this is the real crux of the question —has been tried and found out. So the percentage grant was started. What has been the result? We have saved thousands of lives of the children of this country. It is not a matter of bureaucracy at all at Whitehall, as against the local authorities; but you could not have done this on the block grant. If it could have been done it would have been done. There are many hon. Members in this House who are highly educated; some of them, perhaps, considerably over-educated, but they have not had experience in local administration. If you ask the people who have had you will discover the true state of affairs. I do hope that the President will either call in the Circular or take some other appropriate action. We are approaching the local authorities after having sent out the Circular. Why not have seen the local authorities first, and then come and say what had to be said upon the matter, and see which was the wisest course to adopt?

I feel perfectly convinced it would be a far better plan to go on with our present system of percentage grants, and if necessary, say to the local authority: "We will reduce the percentage." But do not do away with it altogether. We have great hopes of this Government. Many of us hate to vote against it and dislike criticising its Members, but we know perfectly well about the great pressure to try to economise. We want to economise, but not on education. When England, as everybody knows, is fighting for her very life in the markets of the world, it seems to me that proposals of the sort are not economy but madness. I heard an hon. Member interject: "What have we got for our education?" Have we not got one of the soundest and sanest democracies in the world to-day? Look out on Europe and note the contrast between the conditions there and here. The difference is entirely due to the progressive education of the people of this country. This is not the time to go back. If democracy is to succeed it will only succeed with an educated electorate.

A good deal has been said on this side of the House about Socialism, Bolshevism, and Communism. It is far more to the interest of those on this side to see that education is progressive than it is to the interest of any other section of the House. I do hope that the Government will take this warning, and seeing that they have a most progressive set of people behind them, go on with our education and make it the very last economy. There are the great social services of the country. Ministers intentions are all very well, but I want constructive legislation. Education is constructive. I have spoken quite frankly. Nobody can ever accuse me of being under any party in regard to the Navy. I would far rather cut down the fighting services for the next 10 years than cut down education. I would go as far as that. [HON. MEMBERS; "What about dockyards?"] I do not want to go into that question because I do not want to take up much time.

I do hope the Government will realise that they have made a crashing blunder in sending out this Circular. It would not be kind not to tell them so. I think most of the hon. Members on this side of the House think so. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!") Well, I am very, very sorry they do not think so. I think we have to economise, but we ought to have called the local authorities together and economised in a constructive way, and not thrown education back into the political arena. That is what I am so concerned about. It is the last thing that ought to be in politics. Education ought to be above politics, and I deplore any movement on the part of the Government which throws it back. It is not a question of one section of the country; it is a question of the whole country. Unless we go forward we go backward—there is no question of standing still—and we cannot go forward if we cut down expenditure on the education of the children. The last thing a good parent will do is to economise on the wellbeing. of his children. He will cut down his household expenses, he will give up his motor, in many eases he will give up his beer and tobacco, but the last thing a, good parent does is to cut down expenditure on his children; and the last thing this Government ought to do is to cut down the educational service of the country, though no one can say that this is not a cut. If it is not economy, what, in name's sake, is if?


I want to congratulate the Noble Lady on her very practical speech, and may I also say what a delight it was to listen to the beautiful speech delivered by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Cooper)? I commend those speeches to the. Board of Education. Surely those two speeches cannot be regarded as partisan, as both Members belong to the same party as the Government. Let them listen to those words of wisdom. What we say from this side of the House may, of course, be regarded as partisan, though I always keep education right above party, and I hope we shall continue to do so. I rise for the purpose of opposing Circular 1371 and of supporting the Motion moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member of Central New-castle-on-Tyne (Mr. Trevelyan). Why do I do it? I have often heard it said in this House that thinking a policy is acting a policy. In education I see changes of policy continually facing made in the space of one Parliament. At the beginning of this very Session circulars were sent forth and speeches were; made urging local authorities to go forward with educational progress. I remember being told that the President of the Board of Education had got progress in education right in the forefront of his mind. Then why this change?

In Durham County we were urged to go forward. We have been told that we do not spend the amount of money on children under five that they do in Kent. There is a sad and sufficient reason for it—we are so poor that we can scarcely find places for the children between five and 14. We were told to go forward with schemes to give advanced education to boys and girls over 11 years of age. We have done our best in that respect, but there again we have not the requisite money, and again we are being held back. We were told to decrease the size of classes. We have not had the wherewithal to do so, and we still go on with classes containing 50 or 60, and in some cases 70, children. How can a teacher impart knowledge to a class of 70 children? He has enough to do to keep them quiet and. in order. We were urged to train teachers by sending them to training colleges; here, again, a cut is to be made. We want a better class of teacher in Durham County than we have had before.

I want to see the very best teachers possible secured for our schools, because I agree with the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) that the security of this country and this Empire rests on an educated population. Any Government have more to fear in the shape of revolution from an uneducated people than they have from an educated democracy, and I want to see this country—this country that I love so well, despite my sitting amongst Socialists and claiming to be a Socialist —the most glorious country in the world. I want to make it the best in industry, and the happiest place that can be found in the whole world. Therefore I want the teachers to have the beet teaching qualifications, but the Government are crippling us in the matter of funds, for we cannot do it if they take away the grants. We have been asked to erect and equip secondary schools. We know only too well that they are absolutely essential. In Durham we can provide secondary education for no more than six per thousand of the population, a really ridiculous position. We have been urged to do more, being told that 75 per cent. of the children in our elementary schools are fitted for further education, but we have not the wherewithal to do it. Durham wants to do it, Durham will be delighted to do it, but Durham cannot do it on its own, and so we ask that the percentage grants that have been given to us in the past shall be continued.

I have had a long experience of administration in education affairs in the County of Durham—24 years. I remember the taking over of education by the Durham County Council. What did we find? A large percentage of the schools were densely overcrowded, 50 per cent. of the schools not fit for the children to go into; they were insanitary and, indeed, would not keep out rain or frost or sonw. That condition of things we fought for 10 years, doing our best. I believe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher) knows our conditions only too well. We did our best, and in the ten years we did some good work. In 1914 came the Great War, and our energies were stopped; and nothing was done until the right hon. Gentleman for the English Universities took action in 1919, when again we got assistance, and for two years we did good work. Then camp, the Geddes Axe, and again we were placed in the humiliating position of having to stop doing work for education. It is as true to-day as it was then, that we have children being educated in places that were not built for education. All over the county we are in that position.

Now we are up against the very worst policy, namely that of a reversion to tho block grant system. We have had many years' experience of the latter system and we know how badly it worked. We found that under it hundreds of thousands of children had never been to school at all, and that was the position in which we ware placed at that time. I know there are people who call us spendthrifts in educational matters, but they only look on one side of the picture. They simply look at the cost through the rates, and not at the benefits derived by the children themselves. In Surrey £11 6s. 5d. per child is the cost of education and the rate is 1s. 3d., whilst in Durham the cost of education is £10 7s. 2d. per child and the rate is 2s. l1d. showing that we cannot possibly bear any more expenditure through the local rates, and the Government ought to give us more money to spend on education rather than mate proposals to take away what we had before.

What will be the position of the County of Durham under this policy? We have embarked on a programme of building schools costing £350,000. That work has been commenced, and under the Government proposals we shall get nothing for three years to help us out of that difficult position. I think all these things should be considered very carefully by the President of the Board of Education before he puts his new proposal into operation. I have known a certificated teacher in Durham doing the best he can, and he could not afford to go to college. He had a wife and four children to maintain, and his salary was £65 a year. This teacher was asked to impart his knowledge to the children under those conditions and carry on duties which demanded the greatest amount of thought. Immediately we have got our schemes going to improve matters, we find this discontinuance of policy is to be forced upon us.

Durham has spent a great deal of money under the present system, and Durham knows very well now that, if the proposal now put forward by the President of the Board of Education is put into operation, they will have £120,000 less to spend than they had last year, which means an addition of 7d. in the £ to the county rates raising it from 2s. l1d. in the £ to 3s. 6d. in the £. Durham ratepayers cannot afford this, and no doubt I shall be told that the taxpayers cannot afford it. But those who talk in this way do not reside in Durham, and they have no interests in our county.

I hold very strongly that as far as possible the cost of education ought to be a national and not a local charge. As far as the money is concerned I agree with the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Lady Astor) that saving this money on education is not all that we should consider because the education of the children is the great thing.

We heard at question time that one large school in Durham was completed last September in regard to which the cost of maintenance alone for 350 pupils was £30 each. The consequence will be that under the new proposal of the Government that large expenditure will be thrown upon the county and not upon the Board of Education. That is what is going on now and we shall be in exactly the same position with regard to our secondary schools. A poor county like Durham with its dense population ought to have all the sympathy that the President of the Board of Education can give it. We are educating the people not so much for local as for national purposes, and if that is so then the nation should pay more towards the cost of education.

I urge with all the earnestness at my command that the Minister should withdraw this Circular at once, and I deeply regret that the Noble Lord was so emphatic in his statement that he intended that the Circular should receive legislative sanction. I hope he will listen to the pleas put forward from his own side as well as from this side on this point, because he can rest assured that the people of this country are desirous that their children should be educated, and they desire to give them an education that will make them good citizens, and they ought to have as good an educational opportunity as any other citizens. If while the rich man can afford to educate his children, the poor man cannot afford to educate his, that is not the fault of the child; it is the fault of the system under which we have organised society. Therefore, I urge, with all the earnestness at my command, that hon. Members on the other side, who know some of our circumstances, should urge their Minister at once to have this Circular withdrawn. The longer it remains, the greater will be the mischief done. Let us get back to sanity; let us see to it that education is not in any way prejudiced. Let us concentrate on the things that make for the improvement of the human race, that make for the development of a magnificent people. I appeal that this Circular may be withdrawn.


I think it is a very healthy sign that a Circular issued by the President of the Board of Education should have aroused so much interest throughout the country and in this House. We realise, too, that it has aroused hostility, but I think the force has been taken out of the attacks launched against it by the fact that the Circular is not a final one, but has been issued as a basis of discussion. I think the only feature, as far as I can see, in that Circular, which can be regarded as fixed and determined, is the resolve of the Board to change the method of grant from the percentage to the block system. No one can challenge the right of the Noble Lord to make that change, and the expediency of taking such a step has, I think, already been recognised by educational societies. If I am rightly informed, the education committees, when their association met in conference last May, came to the conclusion that the re-adjustment or reconsideration of the grant system was due and ought to be taken in hand.

The fact that this grant is a minimum seems to me to take out the sting from all hostile criticism against it. If it is a minimum grant, then no one is justified in assuming that by the change the cause of education is restricted, whether in regard to new premises, or to the settlement of salaries, or to the efficiency of teaching and administration. There is a well-known principle in the world of art that no painter should be stingy with his paints. I believe that the President of the Board of Education has the instinct of a true artist in this respect, and that he knows that from a mean and ungenerous palette he can never produce a rich canvas.

9.0 P.M.

I am quite confident that under the block system the benefits and the cause of education will not suffer, but I must confess that I felt a little anxiety when I read the words in the Circular which refer to children under five years of age. We have already many schools in which the training of those children of tender age is being carried on, and no one can visit one of those schools without recognising that the teachers who are engaged in the work are performing a high service to the State. We have realised only recently that the policy of letting a young child just grow up until it is of school age is a social blunder and an educational mistake, and we have now introduced into our educational system a programme for the scientific development of children between the ages of three and six years. The results of that programme have been most hopeful. It is no mere theory; we are able to test it by experience; and those results have been examined, they have been approved, they have been imitated by educationists in other countries. As we are promised that the details of this Circular shall be open to discussion and accommodation, I should like to express the opinion that, not only in the interests of the individual, but in the interests of citizenship and national type, this work shall continue. I think that to discourage it would be a mistake, and to arrest it would be almost culpable.

To suggest that this Circular is intended to restrict the benefits of education, or to hint that the present Government and its followers are unmindful of the rights of the poor in this respect, is, I think, a. gross perversion of facts. We on this side of the House realise the value of education; we believe that in education lies the national wealth—the true wealth of the nation. We also con-eider that from education springs that enjoyment of life which is finest in quality and infinite in quantity. To most of us education is an evangel, and we who have participated in the good news are most ardent that its benefits shall be spread and the privilege? shared by others. We could brine many instances to prove that that is the case, and I believe that, when this Circular has been fully discussed, and when its issues have been decided, the public will see that it is not an attempt to thwart or limit in any way the educational system of this country, and that they will also see that Not those who prate of rights and wrongs Have loved the people well.


I rise to-night to enter my protest against the issue of Circular No. 1371, and also to protest on behalf of the two education committees that are responsible for the education of the children in the division I have the honour to represent. I find, in the Memorandum I have received from the Workington Education Committee, some startling information in regard to the Circular No. 1358 issued by the Minister, telling local authorities to prepare their programmes and plans for the autumn so that they might be submitted to his Department. On the top of that, I find that the Workington Education Committee received a very drastic report from. His Majesty's inspector for that district. In that report the inspector states definitely and distinctly that four of the leading schools in the centre of the town need immense structural alterations, and he has gone so far as to say that some of the schools are practically out of date and that new ones ought to be built.

If this local authority has got to meet the demands made upon it by His Majesty's inspector, and 1371 is to be put into full operation, how is it going to be possible for that authority to carry out the requirements as set out by His Majesty's Inspector of Schools? Of course, I may be told that will have to come out of the local rates, but in that locality the rates are so high that the United Iron and Steel Company, who are the largest ratepayers and the largest employers in the locality, have been crying out and appealing for a reduction. If this local authority has got to meet all the requirements of the Inspector of Schools, the rates will go up to such an alarming extent that it will not only make it impossible for the children to be educated in sanitary schools and under the best health conditions, but it will reflect itself on industry. I understood that this was a Government that was going to protect industry from excessive taxation and rating.

In reference to the part of the Circular dealing with children under five years of age, the President of the Board of Education made a statement in regard to certain towns and cities where the number of children under five was a very small proportion of the number of children attending the various schools. It is rather difficult to say what is the real cause in particular localities why children under five do or do not go to school. But in the town I live in I find there are 289 children below the age of five who go to school and that a reduction of 30s. on account of the grant to these children will mean a loss of between £700 and £800 to that small education authority, and I have a bitter protest from the education committee against the putting into operation of this Circular. If the Minister is determined still to put it into effect I should like to ask if he has taken into consideration the real consequences it is going to have.

I should think most education authorities are controlled and governed by people of his own political party. It would be safe to say that 90 per cent. or more of the education authorities are directly opposed, in one way or another to the Circular. I think the Minister made a. gross mistake in issuing it, and I think he realises it now by the very fact that he has called together, since opposition has become so prevalent, representatives of the different education authorities to see what they think about it. If he had called them together before issuing it he would probably have not made the mistake he apparently finds he has made. I should like to read to the House a quotation from an authority which is governed and controlled by people of the Noble Lord's political creed. I want to show that there is a desire in every political party for the fullest possible education for the children of the land. This authority says: This authority, while prepared to approve economy in every possible way in its administration, is of opinion that to further starve education by diminishing its expenditure is a policy against the best interests of the country, and strongly urges a large diminution in expenditure on armaments. Owing to the serious depression in the iron and steel trades the produce of a penny rale is considerably reduced in this area, and consequently a large increase in the already high local rate for education will be necessary during the next financial year to enable this authority to carry on its work on the same lines as hitherto, quite apart from proceeding with the developments recently pressed upon them by His Majesty's inspector. I want to join with colleagues of the Noble Lord in trying to urge upon him the necessity of withdrawing what I would call one of the most obnoxious Circulars that have been issued from any Government Department during my time in this House, which is since 1919. I think he would be rendering a good service, not only to himself and his Department, but to his party and to the country as a whole, if he removed this thing out of the way. Surely if we are going in for economy there are lots of ways in which we can economise better than taking it from the child. The last way in which any Government should attempt to make economies is to try to rob the child of something which would be of advantage to it as it makes its way through life. I can speak from that point of view, probably, from a different aspect from a good many Members opposite. I remember the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) once saying it was those who had the least education who thought most about it. I am one of those, amongst many of us, who had not the ad- vantage one would like to have had, and therefore we feel the need of it to-day. When we have to go into public life and advocate certain things for our people we find that, because of lack of education in the days of our childhood, we do not possess that knowledge we should possess if we had had that education. I beg of the Minister not to attempt to put us back again to the simple three E's system which was in operation some years ago. if he puts his Circular into effect I cannot see what progress can be made so far as the education of the children is concerned.


I had not intended to speak, but I feel impelled to do so by the misrepresentations of the Minister's motives that we have heard in so many speeches and by the misunderstandings, apparently genuine, which are obvious in the remarks of other hon. Members. If you wanted an example you could not have anything better than the speech we have just heard. HE; proceeded to inform us that what was needed in Workington, according to the report of one of His Majesty's inspectors, was the practical rebuilding of four schools. He was under the impression that one of the results of the Circular would be that it would be impossible to rebuild those schools, except at the expense of the local rates. The intention of the Circular is directly opposite. If existing conditions under the percentage grant go on, and if as the Noble Lord has told us, there will be increased expenditure in 1926–27 of £5,800,000, there will be an immediate outcry, much greater than there is at the present time, for diminishing the cost of education, and that outcry will remove the last chance of any more money being spent in respect of either building or rebuilding schools. At the present time, under the existing system, the money available for education and for building schools is being diverted from the schools in which the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape) is interested, in favour of several local authorities who are. by way of being called progressive authorities, and is being used for painting schools or doing up schools or for other small improvements in schools, when the whole, or a large part of the money, ought to be used for remedying the conditions that exist in Workington and other places.

Hon. Members opposite have assumed that the proposed block grant is a maximum and not a minimum. Whether that is a deliberate misrepresentation or not I leave to their consciences. It is very obvious, from what the President of the Board of Education said and from what is known of his record, that the grant is intended to be not a maximum but very far from being a maximum. The hon. Member for Workington evidently did not thoroughly understand what the Minister said about children under five years. He inferred that the 280 odd children under five at present attending school in Workington will be cut out, owing to the withdrawal of the 30s. grant. If he had listened to what the Minister said in his speech, he would have realised that, providing the local education authority can make out a case that this provision for children under five is needed owing to the condition of the locality, the Minister will consider it as a special case and provide money to enable these children to attend school.


Can the hon. Member give me a guarantee that the Minister will do that?


What will the Chancellor of the Exchequer say?


The Parliamentary Secretary will deal with that point when she replies.


This is a question which, no doubt, the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to answer considerably easier than it would have been for the late Minister of Education to have got that extra money for adult education out of the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. The main reason why I defend the principle of the Circular, if not its actual terms, is because of its thrusting increased responsibility upon the local education authority. I can conceive of no more retrograde step than continuing to treat local education authorities as reactionary. It is absurd after they have been in existence 25 years with all their responsibilities, that the whole of them should be tarred with the brush of what is called reaction. It is a denial that they have progressed, and that public opinion has made any advance in the last 25 years in the matter of education. It is a denial that local public opinion has any effect on these local education authorities. Some hon. Members may have had a bad experience of local education authorities, but they must be very few. Those local education authorities, of which I have had any experience, or of which I know anything, are far from reactionary, and certainly they respond to the pressure of local public opinion.

If there is one thing more than another which has impressed me since I have been in politics it is the sacrifices, in many cases the heartbreaking sacrifices, which are made by working people to give their children a higher education. It seems to me that the need for higher education is the one crying necessity of the present time.


Hear, hear!


We have heard a great deal about the progress which has been made in the United States of America, and a great deal of that progress is attributed to increased facilities for education. Rightly so. Let me point out that those increased facilities go very much more in the direction of increased university facilities and increased high school and technical school facilities, rather than increased facilities for mere elementary education. I think our standard of elementary education is higher than the standard of elementary education across the Atlantic. It seems to me that the main problem with which we are to concern ourselves at the present time of financial stringency is how to boil down our expenditure on elementary education to the minimum, consistent with real efficiency, and spend any surplus that we can get, or what we can expect to get, on increased facilities for higher education.

There is a French proverb which says that it is necessary to leap back in order to be able to leap forward again more successfully. I think this is the moment when that might well be done here. We have heard a great deal to-day to the effect that if there is to be any economy, education should be the last to be attacked. We all agree with that, and we shall certainly be surprised on these benches when the Government announcement is made next year with respect to the cuts in various Services, if it is not found that, far from the cut in educa- tion being the first, the cuts in the fighting Services and in armaments and other Services will far exceed the very small cuts that have been made in the Estimates on education. On the general ground of the progress of education and of the country we ought to defend the Circular, and not attack it.


Notwithstanding the explanation from the last hon. Member and from the Minister, I am by no means happy about the question of children under five. My principal reason for that feeling is the attitude of the Minister himself. The right hon. Gentleman has definitely stated that the admission of young children would be discouraged, except in certain areas.


I never used the word "discouraged.


I think so, or words to that effect. I believe "discouraged" is the word. I have not the reference with me, but if I am not referring to what the Noble Lord said, I am referring to what was said in another place by a Noble Lord speaking on behalf of the Government. That is the Board of Education's policy. I do not think many people in this House realise the importance of these young children being able to attend school in poor districts. London has 1,000,000 people living in homes in which there are two or more persons per room, and 200,000 are living three or more persons per room. It means crowded areas, crowded homes, the mother very often having to go out to work, and there being no one to take care of the children. I do not think hon. Members realise that, without having nursery governesses at home, most of us started our education in the home quite unconsciously.

Very few people it this House could say when they started to learn to read. They learned from their mother or father or in the home. Given an educated home, the child assimilates knowledge almost unconsciously. In these homes, through no fault of the parents, that is not possible. The one educational centre must be the school. The first year is often spent in unlearning, educationally, what they have heard in their own homes. There is not an infants' school mistress who would not tell you that when the child comes at five it is infinitely more difficult to start teaching that child. From three to five the child has learned school discipline and good habits, and at five is able to appreciate the teaching. Every child who enters the school is examined by a doctor, it may be at the age of three. At the age of three, the doctor is able to say the child is suffering from some ailment which requires treatment. The longer you postpone the time when children go to school, the longer it will be till that child has medical treatment. If we are to have a strong and healthy nation it is imperative that those children should be brought to school at an early age.

There is a large chance that physical defects may be cured or small ailments arrested before they become important items in their health. I am not thinking of the health and comfort of the child alone. I am thinking of the nation. The nation depends on having a healthy chiid-hood growing up to manhood and womanhood. The congested area, which is already high in its poor rates, has to pay higher than the rich areas. You are going to have the Poor Law problem over again. The poorer the district, the more you have to pay in rates. That is a very serious matter with a poor district. It will mean the employment of non-certificated instead of certificated teachers. Foolish people who know nothing about it think that any woman can teach very little children. One realises that one of the most difficult tasks in the world is to train little children. Only the fully certificated teacher is able to do that work. In the poorest districts there is hardly any room for the mother even to look after the children, much less train them.

I think I know the homes of the poor as intimately as anybody in this House and what the school is to the children. You see the children, even by attendance at school, growing more healthy, more amenable to discipline, and able to take advantage of the instruction. Anybody who aims a blow at these schools is aiming a blow, not at the child or the parent, but at the future of England itself. I want to get rid of the idea that because a boy or a girl is to be employed in manual labour it is not necessary that they should have education. They need it more. Education, after all, teaches one how to use his brains and will make a better bricklayer. We have thought of education as forcible feeding with indigestible chunks of knowledge thrust down the child's throat. Education is for adapting the child to any occupation. The best thing is to train a man and adapt him. He will not only be less liable to revolutionary ideas, but will be more healthy. I hope even now, though rather late in the day, the House will persuade the Minister to change his mind. We shall not throw it in his teeth that he withdrew the Circular. We shall think he has the great courage of a man making a mistake and acknowledging it.


I do not know whether it will please the Noble Lord to hear his whole attitude entirely approved of by one who has been for 40 years engaged in education, and has great pleasure and profit in it still. Of course I regret that there should be one penny of reduction on the general expenses of education. If I were a major-general I should sorrow at the thought of every battalion that was disbanded a few years ago. If I were a retired sanitary inspector I should sorrow at the idea of every main drainage scheme which had not been carried out because of its expense. But I should also at the same time as a citizen of this country grant that, unpleasant as these things were to me, it might, be necessary that these economies should be made. What I grumble at in the attitude of the gentlemen who have been speaking so much on the opposite side, and also of some of those who have been speaking from the Government Benches against any idea of restricting any expansion of any kind In the shape of education, is that they do not see that education like the Defence of the Realm, like the defence of life and health, is but one of the functions of the Stale. And to claim that this particular function shall be immune from all economy, when every other function all round the whole circle of State administration is suffering, seems to me both unhappy and unwise.

Let us suppose that this present rapid rate of educational development goes on as it has for the last 20 years. It will apparently end by swallowing the whole Budget. What is the State expense which is growing most of all? It is educational expense that is increasing by leaps and bounds. I see the time when England may be a well-educated nation, but possibly a bankrupt nation. There is one example in history of the extremely well-educated nation which was also bankrupt. That was the case of the Greeks under the Roman Empire; capable of doing everything—in caelum jusseris ibit—but, unfortunately, bankrupt in every sense. That is what I am afraid I look forward to if, neglecting the other ideals and functions of the State, we regard education alone. I am afraid perhaps, that the priests behind the shrine have sometimes a less awe for the idol than the genuflecting multitude that waves banners and shouts " Great is Education of the Ephesians" in front. " There is no more fearful wildfowl than your educationist living "—to misquote the poet. I once heard an educationist claim that the more stupid a boy was the more necessary it was he should have a complete university education. That was equivalent to saying that every blind man must learn watercolour painting, and every deaf man to play the trombone.

The items of the very large sum of money that is claimed for education had better be looked at twice before they are passed and given to Education. The State must discharge all its functions. Education is a very high function, but it is not the only function of the State, and I should like to see every case where money is being spent on any State object carefully investigated, because I believe that in certain cases money is being spent unwisely on Education as on other things. I speak from a prolonged experience of education. For example, a very well trained examiner once told me: "I have just been awarding county council scholarships, and five or six boys at the bottom of the list were very stupid—indeed they were only just better than those who had been rejected. I proposed to the local authority that I should cut short the list, because I imagined that the boys at the bottom of the list would never make any career for themselves at the university, and would be spoiled for other careers by a university training. The local authority said it would never do, and that I must put them all in." In that case the local authority was sending to be spoiled at the university a number of young men who might have made excellent farmers or machines or emigrants or electricians, but who were simply incapable of profiting by a university education.


Have all those been capable who have gone to the universities in the past?


There are many people of all classes who ought not to be sent to receive higher education at all. There are a number of "younger sons" who ought to be sent at once to Canada. I claim that in some cases in higher education so called you are simply wasting Government money on material out of which you will never make anything.


Most of them have been educated on money stolen from the working classes. [An HON. MEMBER: " You have not! "] I have been educated better than, the hon. Member.


I have formulated my thesis, and to conclude, I fear it may be said of Education as a certain great victim once said of Liberty: Oh, Education, how many dreadful things have been done in thy name! Remembering the awful possibilities of extravagance in education, I sympathise with the Noble Lord when he says that there must be, somehow or other, a stop in progressive expenditure. Let us spend all the money we can afford on education —we should spend every penny that we can .afford—but do not let us spend upon it money which we cannot afford.


I desire to refer to the effect of this Circular on the educational system of Scotland. Our grants depend upon the amount of money which is spent in England. It may be said that much of that money is being wasted, and I am sure there are hon. Members on both sides of the House who will agree that the last speaker proved his case in that respect, and showed that in particular cases the money spent on education is wasted. I am quite willing to make the hon. Member a, gift of that point and his speech certainly seemed to prove it. We must make up our minds on this matter—whether there is to be a stopping of expenditure on education or not. Some have told us that the Circular only involves a small alteration in the system; that the principle of the block grant is being adopted in place of the percentage grant system. Others tell us that in this time of national emergency when the country has only a limited amount of money to spend, it is absolutely necessary to economise. The Noble Lord said we had to choose between the percentage system and the block system, and that there was no other alternative. He and his supporters must make up their minds on the question of whether there is to be less money spent on the educational services of the country, or whether there is going to be as much money spent in future years as would have been spent on the percentage basis. Hon. Members must choose their ground in that respect if we are to get anywhere in this Debate and I do not think the Noble Lord can feel comfortable, having regard to what has been said by the critics on his own side. I was greatly surprised to hear the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) say that as the teachers here had now a superannuation system better than that of the teachers in Canada, it did not matter if they had inferior surroundings in which to carry on their work. The hon. Member seemed to suggest that as long as teachers could look forward to getting pensions, they would continue to produce good results in the schools, even though the schools were ill-adapted to the purposes of education.


I did not say that because teachers' salaries and superannuation had improved I therefore did not wish to see them with good equipment. I simply said that their position had been improved, and that the improvement was due to the Minister. I do wish to see their equipment improved also.


We have this explanation from the hon. Member, but I remember distinctly that he said that, even if the scholars were using tattered books, the teachers, having secured good pension prospects for themselves, would be able to produce good results.


I never said anything of the kind. What I did say was that a good teacher, even with tattered books and poor equipment, would produce better results than a bad teacher with good equipment.


Having heard the hon. Member repeat his statement, I submit that it contains implicitly the conclusion which I have been drawing from it. What was the hon. Member's reason for bringing in this idea about tattered books, unless there was the suggestion that this Circular would lead to a lack of equipment in the schools? I do not think there is any teacher in the country who will thank the hon. Member for the speech that he made and for the position in which he sought to put the teachers. I knew that he it himself a member of the teaching profession, but as one who is also a member of that profession, I want to join issue with him with regard to the attitude of the teachers. Right up and down throughout the whole country the teachers are absolutely against this proposal, and with this gift that has been made to them of a Superannuation Act, unless there were in this proposal something that was going to act very adversely to the interests of the children, I do not think there would have been so much indignation among the teachers as is the case. The House has to come to a definite decision as to whether or not this is going to involve a restriction of the educational services of the future, and I think the voices from the Government Benches, other than those of the Minister and a few of his supporters, make it plain that that is the opinion even of the more enlightened members of the Conservative party. That being so, I think the Noble Lord would be well advised to take the advice given him by one of his own supporters on this side of the House below the Gangway, when he recalled to him the Biblical words, " Go, and do thou likewise."

With regard to our position in Scotland, I want to protest, as representing children in that district who have had to pass through a very rough time, and I want to try to make plain to the House what is going to be done with regard to the interests of those children. Their parents served in the Great War and were promised the reward of a very comfort-able country, with decent opportunities for their children, but it seems that the only contractual obligations of this country at the present time are those that were entered into with the profiteers during the War, who had a big holding in the War. I see an hon. Member opposite smiling at the suggestion. Possibly, as a representative of those profiteers, he can afford to smile.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)

This has nothing to do with the Circular under discussion.


I think it has this to do with the Circular, that this Circular is contemplating a reduction in the expenditure upon education, and I think I am quite within my right in pointing out that there were certain obligations entered into with regard to the working-class people of this country.


If that argument were to be admitted, many other matters could be raised in this Debate, which must, however, be conducted with absolute relevance to the Question before the House.


On a point of Order. The last speaker from the other side referred to the Army and the Navy, and another speaker referred to the problem of France and certain questions arising from the digestion of the French people. Am I to understand from your ruling that nobody is allowed to draw a single comparison, and that if a Member tries to draw a comparison and urge that the burden of the National Debt ought to be reduced so as to allow the money to be spent in increased educational facilities, he will be out of order??


The hon. Gentleman makes me doubt whether I ought not to have called the preceding speaker to order. Possibly I ought.


I hope, Sir, since you did not do so, you will allow me the same latitude.


The lapse, if it was one, applied to one sentence, and I think the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) has had three or four sentences.


I think the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) mentioned three or four different matters that other Members have spoken of. This Circular has this effect upon our education in Scotland. I tried to get from the Secretary for Scotland, by question in this House, some estimate as to the amount of money that was going to be involved. He professed that, with the aid of his advisers, he was unable to give any figures, but in his Circular he points out: It follows that any fresh responsibilities assumed by your authority during the next three years will have to be financed mainly, or it may be entirely, from savings, if a rise in the education rate is to be avoided. That means to say that those education authorities in Scotland are practically being warned that they are not to make any forward move in education. We in Scotland in the past have had a somewhat decent educational system. It has been possible for a boy to pass through the elementary school and the secondary school and on to the university, even although he belonged to the working class, but I think I can see an increasing tendency in the last few years for those opportunities which belong to the working class to be taken from them. I had experience in an intermediate school in Glasgow, as a result of which I found that there were ever so many clever children who would have been able to go forward to an advanced education ant? to the university, and who had the ability to confer gifts upon their fellows if they had had their abilities trained, but because of their circumstances and the difficulties that were being placed in the way of those children through economies that were; being brought in, such as the difficulty in getting boots and the increasing tendency to introduce fees into schools where there had been no fees, those educational opportunities could not be taken.

Now, after all the talk that we had during the election to the effect that the Conservative party was not going to do anything to hinder children getting a. decent educational opportunity, we have this Circular, which has brought forth protests from every party in the House because of the consequences it is going to have in regard to those educational opportunities, and I want to protest, in the name of those children in the east end of Glasgow who are crowded together in large classes and who are going to have their spiritual birthright stolen from them, just as they have had their material birthright stolen from them in the past. One of the wards that I represent in Glasgow has the largest infantile mortality rate in the whole of Glasgow, namely, 164 per 1,000, and in that district, with these large classes in the schools, there is going to be no hope with regard to those children and those class- rooms if the proposals in this Circular are going to be maintained. I protest against the policy of the Government, but I would risk the Noble Lord to give the House some assurance that the whole matter will be taken into consideration. After all, anyone who has listened to this Debate throughout to what has been said by Members of all parties must feel that we are embarking upon a policy of retrogression. There is no true economy in economising at the expense of the children, who ought to be the hope of the future of this country.


I desire only to say one or two words on this most important topic at this stage of the Debate, which has, I think, enlightened undoubtedly the House to a very unusual extent. It is now clear that the main object of this Circular was to substitute for the present system of grants a block grant. So far as that main object is concerned, there has surely been no valid criticism at all, and such criticisms would come extremely badly from the hon. Member who spoke last, also for myself, because we both represent constituencies in a country which has in fact had a block grant in /principle for a number of years. Our block grant, indeed, has been of a more artificial and arbitrary sort than anything proposed in the present Circular, but I think we may take it in this Debate that the principle of the block grant as such in principle has not been seriously challenged.


You have not listened to the Debate.


On the contrary, I have listened to it. I do not think, if I may venture—


The hon. Member has not understood it.


That is a mere rudeness, if I may say so, and quite out of the spirit in which this Debate has been conducted.


Mr. Speaker —


I do not propose to give way. I was saying that in my view of the Debate—perhaps I shall be corrected more politely by others if I am wrong—the principle of the block grant has not been seriously challenged. One element of doubt or anxiety remains in the minds of Members of this side of the House. I venture to suggest to the Noble Lord that there still remains this element of anxiety. Is the block grant going to be a real minimum upon which can be built other expenditures when the proof of the necessity of that expenditure is clear, or, for the years ahead of us, is this block grant not merely to be a minimum but the total? If it is to be the total, are we therefore going to suffer either from stagnation in education or from absolute retrogression? I venture to tell the Noble Lord—I am sure it is. superfluous to tell him—that the large bulk of opinion on this side of the House will not be content if, in the event, it turns out that a retrograde, step is being made, and that the block grant is not a mere minimum, but is the total. That is a matter which you cannot really argue to-night, because it depends whether the block grant is to be the minimum or the total. That depends entirely upon the strength of will of the President of the Board of Education.

10.0 P.M.

Speaking for myself, I trust him to carry out the duty with which he has been entrusted and I also trust the Conservative party both upon its principles and upon its pledges made at the last election to make it clear to the Government that the pledges they made at the last General Election will not be set aside. I think therefore I may say in a single sentence that as far as this Debate has gone, the block grant principle has maintained its position, and so far as the future is concerned it depends upon the President of the Board of Education. May I in conclusion say that I trust that in regard to education of the smaller children under five, the right hon. Gentleman will exercise a very wide discretion with the principle that is laid down and that it may be interpreted as widely as possible, namely, that wherever the social conditions of the district require it their education shall continue. In my view it would be a rash and dangerous thing to concentrate attention merely upon secondary and advanced education to the detriment of the primary. I am sure that is a mistake, for reasons that it will be impossible to go into now. I trust that the result of the new policy will not be to make us lose interest or attach less importance to the education of the younger children.

On the whole, the future is still in the hands of the President of the Board of Education. He may have to fight those who think that education is a thing which has just to take its chance with other public services. I do not think we on this side think that. We do realise the difference between the education and the restriction of opportunity in education and restriction in other public services is this; that, so far as the children of a particular generation is concerned, they have only their five or six years of opportunity and if during that period the hand of the clock is set back, then something is done that never in this world can be undone We realise that just as in the ordinary home very great efforts are made to secure that the education of the children is the last thing that suffers—it does not matter whether the saving is made to send the boy to Eton or to some other kind of school, everybody knows the saving and skimping that goes on in homes— so, I believe, that has to be kept in view by the State. I trust the Board of Education. I believe myself implicitly that so far as a fight may be necessary for the sake of education, the right hon. Gentleman will fight that fight. I do not think that this Circular was in the wisest terms, but the advice that he should withdraw it is the advice, not of an ally, but of a rather anxious enemy.


This has, been a very unusual Debate and has been characterised by three outstanding things. First, that the Debate has not divided the House so much as is our practice into the different parties. We have had criticism against the Circular from all parties in the House. I very often wish we had more of those Debates. The success is not always confined to the party opposite. One other tiling that characterised the Debate was some very able and luminous speeches made against the Resolution by hon. Members who afterwards said they wove going to vote for it. If the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Skelton) would allow me to say so, one of the very best examples of that is the speech which he has just delivered.

The third feature is the speech of the junior Member for Oxford University (Sir C. Oman). I am afraid that I am one of those people whose education has been very defective. It was confined to a board school and I have been striving all my life to get into some sort of affectionate touch with Oxford University. A speech like that to which we have just listened is enough to undo in 10 minutes the honest striving of 50 years to find light in Oxford. The hon. Member is the only Member of this House, however, who quite sincerely, bluntly and definitely has supported the Circular upon what the Circular is going to do.

My interest in the Circular is purely educational. I would have liked to have said, if I could, in the same impressive-language as that used by the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman) how every one of use, irrespective o£ party and irrespective of experience, should bend our energies to improve the education of our country at the present moment. The temptations to be superficial, the temptations to run after things that satisfy neither the mind nor the soul of man are accumulating every year round about us. Advances in knowledge, advances in certain types of entertainment, advances in certain types of literature are besetting this country, and the people of this country, with temptations which, if yielded to, only become the habits of the next generation and mean the destruction of all the fine fibre that is in the people of these islands. Moreover, the modern developments of industry are of such a character that unless we can produce a very special, a very self-reliant and a very intelligent type of skill, we cannot hold our own in the markets of the world, neither in our home market nor in the foreign market, and the only processes that we can adopt to defend ourselves against those intellectual and moral dangers and those industrial dangers are the processes of education.

What is this Circular going to do? That is how I start I want skill, I want personality, I want intellectual and individual power, and then we get this Circular. I am sorry that the Noble Lord referred to an outside agitation as though the stories which were blow-nig about him form the Cheviots to Devon and Cornwall were something that had been manufactured. I hope he will not blind himself to their significance. It is not every day you get the action of a Minister immediately made the cause of storms bursting out from one end of the country to another absolutely spontaneously. Within 24 hours of the receipt of that Circular, every education authority that was active was protesting. We have education authorities that we would regard as reactionary: we have education authorities that we would regard as progressive. There is no distinction between them so far as condemning this Circular is concerned. An old proverb says, " Beware when all men speak well of you." I do not know how much you ought to beware when all men condemn you. [HON. MEMBERS: " Not all men! "] No, that is a very good Oxford doctrine, but a very bad common-sense doctrine.

This is the first fact and the House cannot get away from it. You praise those people when it suits you—those wonderful men and wonderful women who give up their time to education, who are great authorities on education. Very well, if that is your genuine belief, how can you get out of it? How can you defend yourselves by saying that all these intelligent people, all these people of experience, experience of the curriculum side of education, experience of the development aide of education, experience of the financial side of education have all misread your Circular, and are doing you a grave injustice by putting things into if that are not there at all? That will not do.

The Noble Lord made a very interesting speech. It was a long speech, but none of us would have wished a minute taken off it. It raised some very important questions in educational administration, but not one of the important questions raised had anything to do with the Circular. Let us see what he says. He talked about the inaccuracy of estimating. He is troubled, because, he estimates when the time comes that X is to be found by him in order to enable him to pay his percentage grant. But Io and behold! He discovers that it is X + Y. Is his the only Government Department in that position? I have known of some service Departments whose estimates are not only + Y, but they are X + Y2. Besides, his own figures show that the margin of uncertainty is going down. I do not know if four years would show the same result, but his three-year figures show a constant diminution in the breadth of the margin of uncertainty. Moreover, does he really mean to come and tell us that at the Education Department, he has no officers sufficiently experienced after five or six years examining of the accounts and studying the progress of the community and the work which the local education authorities have in hand? Is he going to confess to this House, as he very nearly did this afternoon, that he has not got officers at his Department that can make a. fairly decent estimate of what the expenditure is going to be next year? It is a very, very grave charge upon his Department, a charge which, so far as I am concerned, I would not like to make.

But supposing it is right. Let us take him on his own ground. Supposing he has a genuine grievance that local education authorities, owing to the slackness of control of the Education Department are tax in their own Estimates. (HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] Oh, yes, it is. The Education Department can stop all that in the course of a year or two by compelling them to be much more careful than they are of the Estimates they hand in. The Education Department, with its knowledge of three or four years, can regularise and bring it within a reasonable margin of uncertainty. Supposing his case is sound, does that justify him in throwing a Circular like this at the head of the local education authorities, without giving them any sort of reasonable warning that it is going to be done? Surely he ought to have consulted them before he issued his Circular, rather than consulted them after he issued his Circular? I have never known such a piece of incompetent handling as the issue of a Circular such as this upon the ground given by the Noble Lord this afternoon.

The hon. Member who preceded me said that nobody has objected to the block grant. Well, I quite admit I did not hear all the speeches, but I think I heard most of them, and I quite admit that there had been comparatively little discussion of the block grant on its own merits. I would remind the hon. Member that one of the reasons why that was so, was the extraordinary smashing attack made upon it by my right hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher). The speech of the right hon. Gentleman must have been taken by everybody who is interested in the discussion of the Circular to have settled that particular matter. I quite admit—my right hon. Friend, I think, will admit it, too—that an inquiry into how this percentage grant works might very profitably be undertaken. But it has been undertaken.

In 1922, the Treasury appointed a committee to inquire into, amongst other questions of the same kind, the relations of central finance and local finance. What has happened to that committee? What has happened to the Report of that committee? There were some questions put to-day about it. I joined in, because I happened to know something about the committee. Lord Meston was appointed chairman of the committee. It was very representative, and I think the House will agree very capable and competent. They discussed this question of the percentage grant and the block grant The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us, very much to my surprise, to-day that he had got the Report. I am in a position to say that the committee has not met for two years. I am in a position to say that the first part of the Report was circulated to members of the committee, and it was perfectly evident the committee would reject it. The other portion of the Report has never appeared at all.

Everybody who is interested in these things, who has been in touch with what has been going on, knows perfectly well that that Committee would not have reported in favour of block grants. How is this House being treated? A special Departmental Committee was appointed to consider this question. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman standing at that Box and delivering a speech on the assumption that we are not aware of the difficulties. We are aware of them, and want to face them. But we are waiting for the Report. Why has the Meston Committee not reported? Why are the Members of this House being compelled to-night to vote for or against a Circular which is, as the hon. Gentleman who proceeded me said quite truly, the beginning of a new system of block grants, when this Committee was appointed, nearly three years ago, to discuss the matter, and without us knowing what were the terms submitted to the Committee, and to what con-elusion the Committee has cornel This is, therefore, the block grant as against the percentage system. There is another point that the Noble Lord made. He said, not only is there uncertainty about the amount of money spent by the local education authorities, but that from his point of view it is spent inefficiently.




Yes. First things are not coming first —


The right hon. Gentleman is not justified in putting it that way. It is not that an authority docs second things where it ought to do first things, but that the first things which may be necessary in. one authority which is higher in the scale, and has got further, will not be so necessary as the things which another authority urgently needs to do.


If the Noble Lord did not mean it, of course I accept what he says. What does this Circular seek to do? It is said it deals with administration. It is said that the intention of this Circular is to be carried out if there is inefficient administration. But the effect of the Circular is to remove the hands of control of an efficient, Whitehall, and allow an inefficient local authority more latitude. The gist of the Circular is in two sentences. The rest is all padding. This is the first sentence: The President of the Board of Education has decided that in the present state of the national finances he would not be justified in making no large a demand upon the taxpayers. The second is a reference to local authorities. It is a long sentence, and I will not read it all, but it comes to this, that in this national emergency Local authorities ought to make corresponding economies. That is the Circular. The Circular is: Less money from Whitehall and—very strong advice—less money locally. Hon. Members can say as much as they like than with a saving such as is suggested we can get the same results as we get now. We cannot. In order to establish that, the Noble Lord has got to make a case in favour of extravagance, of inefficient expenditure, of the most overwhelming character; and when it is suggested by me, quite honestly, as a result of what I heard him say—my deductions may have been wrong—when it is suggested that he has suggested ineffi- ciency he repudiates it. How is he going to get saving with efficiency? That is the gist of the situation.

This is an attempt to reduce education expenditure and let education itself go hang. I hope we will have a debate on the block grant. To begin with, this is not a block grant at all, it is not of the nature of a block grant, it is a ration, a war-time ration—the coupon. The Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education and I have come to a bargain and I will keep it; but I have in my hand most illuminating figures taken from the Parliamentary Report on the subject of how the block grant used to work. I will put them by. I will use them another day. The sooner we get a chance of discussing the block grant, the better it will be for us, and the more disconcerting for the Noble Lord. What he hopes is this, that by reducing the financial obligations of Whitehall he will compel local education authorities either to reduce their expenditure or to increase their rates. This is another phase in the steps taken by the Government to lift burdens off the backs of the comfortable and the well-to-do.

If it were allowable, even if the suggestion were allowable, I would like the Noble Lord to give us any authoritative opinion upon the relative incidence of rates and taxes which does not point out that those who pay rates are, in the mass, and in relation to the burden, more poverty-stricken than those who pay taxes. I should like very much the Board of Education to produce something to the contrary, and that is the reason for making the statement I have just made. I suppose that to-night we shall have a Division. I was hoping after the start that was made in the Debate we should be able to finish it without a Division, and that we might have had some statement which would enable us to believe that this Circular was not going to be operative. I am very sorry to say that that expectation of ours has not been realised, and consequently some of us will go in one Lobby and some into the other.

I am afraid that whatever be the speeches made in explanation and apology for the Circular, the action of those who support it will be in favour of reducing expenditure and reducing the efficiency of our education — [HON. MEMBERS: " No! "]—whereas those who go into the other Lobby will make a declaration, and a wise and sane declaration, that saving money on education is the very worst form of extravagance, and between the two I know perfectly well which way my hon. Friends will go, because we prefer a strong elementary education, and an education not clipped and pruned and selected as the junior Member for Oxford University would like us to have it, but a broad elementary education containing a large element of culture and not merely the three R's and that sort of thing. In support of that idea and policy my hon. Friends and myself will certainly vote to-night.


During the last two hours we have listened to much criticism of the Circular issued by the Board of Education, and, like the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I fully appreciate the friendly spirit in which the Debate has been conducted. I appreciate that spirit alt the move, because I know what deep interest hon. Members opposite take in this subject. Although I am not able to agree with everything I have heard from the benches behind me, I welcome a great deal of what has been said as affording evidence of the great interest taken in this all-important subject by Members of our party. I should like to associate myself with what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in that part of his very interesting speech in which he dealt in general with the value of education. It is indeed of special importance in these days, when not only industrial efficiency is so important, out when one cannot fail to recognise the many temptations there are to spend leisure in unworthy or less worthy ways. That is one of the reasons why I agree with the right hon. Gentleman's desire that all sections of our people should have an opportunity of enjoying culture in their hours of leisure.

This Circular has given rise to many misunderstandings, and I want to try and dispel one or two of them. The first is the question of the children under five. I wish to repudiate the suggestion made by the hon. Member for North Lambeth (Mr. Briant) that the policy of the President of the Board of Education is to discourage the attendance of children under five at school when it is shown that their homes are such as to make their admission desirable. My right hon. Friend only wishes to be certain that the social conditions are such as would I think be recognised in all quarters of the House as constituting a sufficient reason for their admission; and, being satisfied on that point, he recognises the duty to give special assistance towards the cost of education of these children.

I should also like to say how fully I appreciate the value of the work that is being done in many schools for these young children. I recognise the value of the training in habits of obedience and order which they receive, and also of the beginning of their intellectual development which, though it may not proceed very far, is valuable as a preparation for later stages. Above all, I value the opportunity which their admission to the school gives with the school medical service. I should like, in reply to what was said by the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson), to repeat what I have already said elsewhere, that, if the policy of my right hon. Friend had failed to recognise that there are children—many children, as I believe -especially in our pities, the conditions in whose homes, cither because the mother goes out to work or because of defective housing, make it desirable that they should be admitted to school. I should not be speaking here to-night from this bench.

I want, if I may, to deal with some of the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities (Mr. Fisher). I think his points were two. He put forward a very interesting defence of the percentage grant system, in which I will not attempt to follow him, and he expressed two fears in regard to the change in the grant system as foreshadowed in the Circular. One of them has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. The first fear expressed by the right hon. Gentleman was that loss of control by the Board would follow any such change as is proposed. I recognise that this question is one which needs very careful consideration, and I think hon. Members who were present earlier in the Debate, when my right hon. Friend spoke, will remember that he gave a specific assurance that a reduction of the standard of efficiency in inspection is no part of his policy.

To that I should like to add that, while I share his view that the Board's control should not restrict the initiative of local authorities, I personally feel that the Board cannot divest itself of responsibility for seeing that authorities make proper provision for the services for which they are responsible, and also that the Board must ensure the efficiency of those services. I think, however, it. must be manifest to everyone how formidable a power is the power to withhold a grant if necessary, and I believe that, with effective regulations, with an adequate staff of inspectors, and with firm administration at the Board itself, the maintenance and the development of our educational system will be fully ensured.

The other point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the English Universities was the expression of a fear that progress was not possible under the block grant system. I think he said that no progress would have been possible in England without the percentage grant system within the last few years. I do not think anyone will deny what progress has been made under the percentage grant system, but I demur to the suggestion that progress is impossible under the block grant system, and, if the right hon. Gentleman asks me for tiny proof of that I would refer him to Scotland.

In Scotland no doubt he may remember we paid him the compliment in 1919 of following his example in regard to adopting the percentage grant system. The Education Authorities were led to expect that they would get 50 per cent. of their expenditure, but we had not an elastic Exchequer behind as. We had only a limited sum, and before many months had passed it became evident that it was impossible to continue the percentage grant system, and we were obliged to change to what was technically a capitation grant system, but based on so few and such stable factors that, in fact, it is a block grant system for. anyhow, a considerable part of the services administered by the Department. I was a member of the Association of Education Authorities with which the Scottish Education Department conferred as to the proposed change in the system, and I remember clearly that it was commended to the authorities by the then Secretary of the Department as a block grant system, and it was welcomed as such.


It has done us great harm.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I continued to serve on an Education Authority for some years, but I cannot remember ever hearing one member of that Authority saying, " We cannot afford to do this because now we are on a block grant system," and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to refer to the Reports of the Scottish Education Department for evidence of the steady progress that has taken place in the last five years. It is worthy of note that the last Report of the Scottish Education Department mentioned a noticeable increase in the provision of school buildings and equipment for technical instruction, items both unnoticed in the grant formula. I also have the assurance that there has been a steady improvement in the school medical services, which has had to be built up in Scotland since the War, anyhow in the rural areas.


I am sorry to interrupt the Noble Lady's interesting and lucid speech, but of course she realises that Scotland receives a quota from England based on English expenditure.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Yes; there were days when we benefited from the growth of English expenditure, but there were also unhappy days when, owing to the economy pressure of the right hon. Gentleman on the English Authorities, the balances payable at the end of the year were less than we expected. Fears have been expressed by one or two Scottish Members that their country is going to suffer under this change of system. Scotland will only suffer from the Circular if the grant available for education in England and Wales is less than it is at the present time. If hon. Members will read the Circular carefully, I think they will realise that there is no such reason to fear that that will be so, and I can imagine few things that would be more helpful to Scottish authorities than to know the minimum sum on which they can rely for a year or two in advance.

The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Cove) expressed some fear that a speech of my right hon. Friend adumbrated a curtailment of the scope and development of elementary education. I can only say that I have heard no proposal of that kind, and Circular 1371 propounds no such view. Finally, I should like to deal with the question of economy. I agree unreservedly with the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman) in regarding the children of this country as our best and most valuable raw material. Education is the last service on which I should like to see any economy made, but when the finances of the country are in the condition in which they are at the present time, when drastic economies have to be made all round, I do not see how education can hope altogether to escape.

I should, however, never take as my motto that it should be subjected to the ruthless, relentless economy which I understand was advocated by the leader of the Liberal party in the House of Lords not long ago. We find ourselves in a position in which it is impossible to maintain the advance that has been made in the last few years; but what we want to do is to be able to hold our ground and to maintain existing services, subject to an overhaul of expenditure in order to see that all economies possible are achieved that can be made without serious damage. My right hon. Friend has made it clear that he will maintain the Burnham scales. I should like to assure the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Richardson) that commitments into which local authorities have entered for new buildings will receive special consideration, as also will the needs of new areas of population.


May I say that Durham people are a proud-spirited people, and that when they do their business they expect to be paid and not to come cap in hand to anybody.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no question of coming cap in hand, or sitting on the Minister's doorstep. Commitments entered into by any authority will be honoured as a matter of course. In the past year, if we may judge from the considerable increase in the number of teachers, some progress must have been made in the reduction of the larger classes, and it is our aim not to jeopardise the improvement that has been made.

I should like to refer to a statement that was made by my right hon. Friend earlier in the Debate. The words to which I refer were that the date of the introduction of the new system, the method of its assessment, and the amount are open for discussion. It is also important to remember that the grant proposed in the Circular is a minimum. The right hon. Gentleman also asked on what system my right hon. Friend proposed to frame his block grant. The reply is that he hopes to be able to frame his block grant on the programmes which he hopes it may be possible to receive from the authorities at the date on which he originally hoped to do so. The policy of my right hon. Friend has always been to ask for programmes to be put into operation by 1927, and, if possible, to keep the expenditure within limits until the approved programmes are put into operation. That is still his intention.


Would not grants be related to finance?

Duchess of ATHOLL

The grants would be related to the expenditure, actual and prospective, of the authority. Though we have to ask the authorities to hold their hands and to avoid new commitments, we do hope at a later date to be able to proceed with the programmes. Our education policy remains as it was stated a year ago; the improvement of opportunities for the older children, either by advanced instruction in elementary schools, by more central schools or more opportunities Ear secondary education, the replacement of bad buildings, and the reduction in size of the large classes. We hope to be able to give effect to this policy when the happy day comes that programmes submitted by local authorities can be approved. It-will be a, very happy day to my right hon. Friend and myself. I earnestly hope that: before long we may he able to proceed further with this policy, which we have been pursuing in the last year and which we continue to regard as vital to the interests of the children and the nation.


I hope the educated gentlemen of England will give an ignorant workman an opportunity of saying something about this. I am proud of my ignorance. Never having had an opportunity of education, which you and your class have denied me, I want to say a word or two in reply to the speech delivered by the Noble Lady. She says economy is absolutely essential. Where is the economy going to begin? It begins always at the bottom, but never at the top. Nothing is said about the robbing of educational endowments from the workers of this country by those who sit opposite. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, every great endowment in this country was established to educate the children of the poor; now those endowments have become the privilege of the rich—or their satellites or parasites.

I came to this country uneducated. I used to have to carry a sod of turf under my arm as a schoolboy in Ireland and a penny a week—if there was no turf, there was no fire to heat the school, and I believe the Noble Lady may understand that position as it exists in Scotland. We had to pay for our education, but other people got the advantage of it and we were kept in ignorance. Those who are educated now say to us that expenditure on education must be limited. We have heard to-night how we can save £4,000,000 in a few years on the Government's education policy—about one-half the cost of a new battleship. I want to spend more on brains than on battleshipe, and the more we spend on brains the less we shall have to spend on battleships, and a good job, too' [HON. MEMBERS: "Dockyards!"] Hon. Members who interrupt should be in dockyards. [HON. MEMBERS: "Docks!"] Most of them will be in the dock and not in the yard. We in West Ham have done our best in the matter of education, and we stand second to none in this country as regards elementary, secondary, and higher education. This Circular will cost us at least 2d. in the £ on the rates. The Noble Lord knows all about his own particular kind of education, but nothing about working-class education. What he knows about working-class education would fill a book: what he does not know-about it would fill a library. The Government are giving bounties to all sections of the community, but when they want to economise they start with the poorer section of the community. Therefore we hope that the Circular will not be issued, because it will be disastrous to education. I stand for education because I know what the lack of it means. I am giving my children the best chance I can, and I say this Circular is an insult to the workers of the country.

Question put: That this House deplores the policy defined in Circular 1371 issued by the Board of Education as calculated to discourage progressive local education authorities and

to check an advance in education which appeared to have received the approval of all parties.

The House divided: Ayes, 124; Noes, 266.

Division No. 501.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Greenall, T. Ponsonby. Arthur
Ammon, Charles George Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Potts, John S.
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Groves, T. Riley, Ben
Baker, Walter Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth) Ritson, J.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Rose, Frank H.
Barnes, A. Hardie, George D. Saklatvala, Shapurji
Barr, J. Harris, Percy A. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Batey, Joseph Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Scurr, John
Beckett, John (Gateshead) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Sexton, James
Bowerman, fit. Hon. Charles W. Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Briant, Frank Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Broad, F. A. Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose) Sitch, Charles H.
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Jenkins. W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Buchanan, G. John, William (Rhondda, west) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Cape, Thomas Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Snell, Harry
Charleton, H. C. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Cluse, W. S. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Stephen, Campbell
Clynes, Right Hon. John R. Kelly, W, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock) Kennedy, T. Taylor, R. A.
Connolly, M. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Cove, W. G. Kirkwood, D. Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Lansbury, George Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Crawfurd, H. E. Lawson, John James Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Crook, C. W. Lee. F. Thurtle, E.
Dalton, Hugh Livingstone, A. M. Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale) Lowth, T. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Davies, Ellis (Denbigh, Denbigh) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R.(Aberavon) Viant, S. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Day, Colonel Harry Mackinder, W. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Dennison, R. MacLaren, Andrew Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Duncan, C. Maclean. Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Westwood, J
Dunnico, H. March, S. Whiteley, W.
Edwards. John H. (Accrington) Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Montague, Frederick Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Fenby, T. D. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L. Naylor, T. E. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Forrest, W. Oliver, George Harold Windsor, Walter
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Palin, John Henry Wright, W.
Gibbins, Joseph Paling, W. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Gillett, George M. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Gosling, Harry Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Warne and Mr. Hayes.
Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Brocklebank, C. E. R. Couper, J. B.
Albery, Irving James Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Courtauld, Major J. S.
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'rd., Hexham) Courthope, Lieut. Col. Sir George L.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Buckingham, Sir H. Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)
Apsley, Lord Burman, J. B. Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Butter, Sir Geoffrey Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)
Atholl, Duchess of Butt, Sir Alfred Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Cadogan. Major Hon. Edward Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert
Balfour, George {Hampstead} Caine, Gordon Hall Curzon, Captain Viscount
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Campbell, E. T. Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)
Barnett. Major Sir Richard Cassels, J. D. Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Cautley, Sir Henry S. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Cayzer, sir C. (Chester. City) Dawson, Sir Philip
Bennett, A. J. Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston) Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Berry, Sir George Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Dixey, A. C.
Betterton, Henry B. Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Drewe, C.
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood) Eden, Captain Anthony
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Chapman. Sir S. Edmondson, Major A. J.
Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.) Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Elliot, Captain Waiter E.
Blundell, F, N. Christie, J. A. Elveden, Viscount.
Boothby, R. J. G. Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Clarry, Reginald George Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)
Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart Clayton, G. C. Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W. Cobb, Sir Cyril Fanshawe, Commander G. D.
Brassey, Sir Leonard Cockerill,' Brigadier-General G. K. Fermoy, Lord
Briscoe, Richard George Conway. Sir W. Martin Fielden, E. B.
Finburgh, S. Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Salmon, Major I.
Fleming, D. P. Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Samuel, A M. (Surrey. Farnham)
Ford, P. J. Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Loder, J. de V. Sandeman, A. Stewart
Foster, Sir Harry S. Looker, Herbert William Sanderson, Sir Frank
Fraser, Captain Ian Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Sandon, Lord
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Lumley, L. R. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Gadie, Lieut. Col. Anthony MacAndrew, Charles Glen Savery, S. S.
Galbraith, J. F. W. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)
Ganzoni, Sir John Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R , Sowerby)
Gates. Percy McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Macintyre, Ian Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Gee, Captain R. McLean, Major A. Shepperson, E. W.
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Macmillan, Captain H. Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Goff, Sir Park Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Skelton, A. N.
Gower, Sir Robert McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Slaney, Major P. Kenyan
Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Macquisten, F. A. Smith, R.W, (Aberd'n & Kine'dine, C.)
Greene, W. P. Crawford Makins, Brigadier-General E. Smith-Carinyton, Neville W.
Gretton, Colonel John Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Smithers, Waldron
Grotrian, H. Brent Margesson, Captain D. Somerville A. A. (Windsor)
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K. Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R,(Eastbourne) Meller, R. J. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Merriman, F. B. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Hammersley, S. S. Meyer, Sir Frank Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Hanbury, C. Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Storry Deans, H.
Harrison, G. J. C. Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Hartington, Marquess of Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Harvey. G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T, C. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Haslam, Henry C. Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Hawke, John Anthony Murchison C. K. Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Neville R. J Templeton, W. P.
Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd, Henley) Newton, Sir D.G.C (Cambridge) Thomson, r. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle) Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.) Tinne, J. A.
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Nield Rt. Hon Sir Herbert Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Oakley, T. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hennessy, Major J. R. G. O'Connor, T. J. {Bedford, Luton) Turton, Edmund Russborough
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) O'Neill Major Rt. hon. Hugh Vaughan-Morgan. Col. K. P.
Herbert, S.(York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Wallace. Captain D. E.
Hills, Major John Walter Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William Ward. Lt.-Col A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Penny, Frederick George Warner. Brigadier-General W W.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D, (St. Marylebone) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Warrender Sir Victor
Holland, Sir Arthur Perring, William George Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Holt, Captain H. P. Peto, Basil E.(Devon, Barnstaple) Wells, S R.
Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Philipson, Mabel Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Hopkins, J. W. W. Pielou, D. P White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney. N.) Pilcher, G. Williams Herbert G. (Reading)
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Power, Sir John Cecil Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Hume, Sir G. H. Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton Windsor-Clive Lieut.-Colonel George
Hurst Gerald B. Preston, William Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Radford, E. A. Wise, Sir Fredric
Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S. Ramsden, E. Wolmer, viscount
Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Rawson, Alfred Cooper Womersley, W. J.
James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Reid, D. D. (County Down) Wood. E. C. (Somerset Bridgwater)
Jephcott, A. R. Remer, J. R. Wood, E.(Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Rentoul, G. S. Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich. W.)
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Kidd, J. (Linlithgow) Rice. Sir Frederick
King, Captain Henry Douglas Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Lamb, J. Q. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Commander B. Eyres Monsell and
Lane-Fox, Colonel George R. Rye, F. G. Colonel Gibbs.

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with Amendments.