HC Deb 26 July 1927 vol 209 cc1060-166

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, note exceeding £28, 307, 020, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1928, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants in Aid. "—[Note: £16, 000, 000 has been voted on account. ]


I make no apology to the Committee for asking the House, at this late time of the Session, to devote one day to the very important question of education. It is such a real and living question, that I think Parliament would be lacking in its duty if it did not select this one subject for special discussion: in fact, I am rather surprised that the Labour party, with the larger number of clays at their disposal, did not select this as one of their subjects for discussion. I believe Parliament would be open to criticism if we allowed this big sum to go through automatically without debate. and, of course, it is a big sum—not, in my opinion, too large—for the amount we are discussing is a figure of over £44, 250, 000, and I understand some people think that the fact that the sum is larger than last year, is a reason we should discuss it. We had debates last year, and those debates, in my opinion, were very effective. I think criticism has been known in this House to have had the result of keeping the Minister on the right path, and preventing him from being a prey of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his desire to collect money here and there. Our pressure has prevented education from being sacrificed at the altar of economy. I think that is something for satisfaction. The various circulars and memoranda which were so prolific from the printing press at one time, have been replaced by much more moderate, reasonable and satisfactory circulars, as the one early this year, No. 1388. The spirit is very different from that of the right hon. Gentleman's earlier publications. There is a desire for conciliation and negotiation. I remember last year he gave himself the task of interviewing 300 authorities. I do not know if he has managed to find time to discuss with all those authorities. Probably, as this Circular suggests, he has found an easier way to work through the Association.

At any rate, if there has been no educational advance, there has been no serious setback in the last few months, and we always anticipated that that would be the case, because those of us who have knowledge and experience of education on the practical side, who have been on educational authorities, or who have been school managers, felt that the charge that there was extravagance in education was unjustified, and could not be proved on inquiry. After all, the largest part of this expenditure goes in teachers' salaries, which have been stabilised and taken out of the arena of controversy. I should like to take this opportunity to pay my tribute to Lord Burnham and his Committee. Lord Burnham will go down to all time as the man who brought peace to the teaching profession. At any rate, it has to be recognised that the bulk of this big Vote goes in the form of salaries, and that now the Burnham scale has been accepted by the Board and the President, and we have got outside the arena of party controversy, it is clear that if you are to economise in any direction, it must be in that of building, apparatus, books and in the ordinary provisions of school appliances. When you come to buildings, no one for the moment suggests at the present time that there is any extravagance. In fact, in many areas, educational efficiency is sacrificed by buildings and the unwillingness to engage in capital expenditure. I have a vivid memory of a long controversy the other day between the county council and a group of school managers over expenditure on such a small matter as fixed basins. That is typical of the attitude of local authorities. Far from the suggestion that local authorities are extravagant being justified, they strive for the smallest economies, because they have to face not only the criticism of the President of the Board but also the ratepayers, who are not at all anxious to meet the increased rates.

One thing I would like to know is what is being done with the black-listed schools in which, last year, the Minister told us some 500, 000 children are placed. Is that programme going on of replacing these by up-to-date buildings both of voluntary schools and council schools? If these buildings, as he told us last year, are to be built by 1930, that means a considerable expenditure on capital account. I should like to have some statement on that account. If the work of rebuilding these schools is to go forward, very considerable sums will have to be found every year. I feel some satisfaction that the ordinary educational work is going on this year undisturbed by the Board of Education, but I do not think that we ought to be complacent. There is plenty of work to be done, overdue work, work that public opinion demands should be taken in hand without delay. There is a provision of nursery schools. One of the things provided for by the Act of 1918 was the building of nursery schools all over the country wherever the need was shown in crowded slum areas. It is not for want of advice that the work has not been going on. Sir George Newman, who is the Board's Medical Adviser, in his very interesting report, in 1925, pointed out how urgent the nursery schools were and how much they would do to improve the health and stamina of the whole of the children of the country. He pointed out that one significant fact in medical inspection is the serious degree of physical defect in the children on their first admission to school. He said:— I place this in the forefront of the medical problems of the elementary school. Each year as it passes and adds to our knowledge and experience of the physical and mental qualities—and indeed of the general character—of the school child deepens the conviction of the importance of the earliest years of life, and particularly the pre-school years. This is the time when the ground is being prepared, and the susceptible soil of the child's body, within the limits set by heredity, made wholesome or unwholesome, sweet or sour, a suitable nidus for the beneficent agents of health and life or for the destructive agents of deterioration and death. In this Report, he goes on to point out that the real practical remedy is the provision of nursery schools. We have had one or two examples of the kind of good work that they can do. We have a building at Deptford called the Rachael MacMillan School. It is a school that was provided by Miss Margaret MacMillan as a memorial to her sister, and it has done an immense amount of good. It has shown what can he done by nursery schools at comparatively small expense. I can speak from my own knowledge. The other day the Noble Lady very kindly visited a school in my own area which has many of the elements of the nursery school, and which shows how, with very small expenditure, many of the existing evils can be prevented by the provision of schools of this character. I am informed that, though there is provision made in the Education Act, 1918, for nursery schools, there are only about a dozen examples right through the length and breadth of the country. I do not know whether this fact is due to any discouragement on the part of the Board or to the fact that no schemes have been put forward. I hope the demand for nursery schools will stimulate the provision of such schools, so that future generations may be given a fair chance in life and that the ills which, unfortunately, prove so expensive in after-years will be prevented by organisations of this kind.

The most important event during the last 12 months in the educational world has been the publication of the Hadow Report. I think educationists owe a great debt of gratitude to those ladies and gentlemen who formed the Consultative Committee for their splendid survey of the whole educational problem—detached, critical, practical. I was sorry that the President of the Board of Education rushed into print at too early a date. I think he is sorry himself now. He was too anxious to disown responsibility. He has been busy ever since making speeches to show that he is not really so unsympathetic as his first statement seemed to suggest. At all events, his recent speeches seemed to indicate that. The Report is really divided into three parts. The first is the reorganisation of schools, the age of 11 being taken as the dividing age. I for one do not want undue importance to be attached to this particular age. The one thing we do not wish to do in the reform of education is to stereotype our organisation on the basis of age. Children vary enormously. Some mature early in life, and some late in life, and I think it would be unfortunate to attach too much importance to the actual age for the reorganisation of the school suggested in the Hadow Report. I think we are entitled to know whether the Board of Education favour the proposed reorganisation of the schools, whether they favour the idea of the preparatory and senior classes, or the acceptance of the principle of secondary education being introduced in the later years of a child's school life, even if it has to leave at 14 or 15. Meanwhile, the education authorities are building schools. They want to know whether they are taking the right course. I asked a question the other day as to the number of schools which have been opened during the last few months, and had based their reorganisation on the new principle. I think the Board of Education might give us a lead in this matter.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Report is that which deals with the syllabus in the schools. In the past nothing made our schools more unpopular with the people then the fact that education was regarded as something purely literary in character; that the book was the only way in which a child could learn even at a very early age. What this Report accentuates, and rightly accentuates, is the necessity for greater elasticity and change in the whole atmosphere and spirit of the school, so that craft can be regarded as an essential side of our education, not only elementary but secondary. That, of course, not only means a changed attitude in regard to the training of teachers, but it also means a changed attitude in the designing of schools. It is no use talking about developing handicrafts and chemical laboratories unless the schools are so organised and provided with the necessary plant and paraphernalia required that that kind of work can be made possible.

Many of the schools which desire to develop the craft side are handicapped because of insufficient accommodation and lack of proper plant and tools. What can be done in this connection was shown to me the other day when I paid a visit to an exhibition of school handicrafts in the East End of London. There was one school in the most crowded part of London where a model house had been constructed by the small boys living in that overcrowded slum area. They had not only drawn the necessary plans to scale, but they had constructed in their work-rooms a building which stimulated interest in education, and made it something very much larger than mere bookwork. They had changed the whole attitude of the school and created an enthusiasm which gave hope and encouragement to teachers and staff. They were able to use that model not merely to teach handicraft and mathematics, but to bring home some of the lessons of history, because they had designed the house on an Elizabethan plan. They used it to inculcate history into the minds of the children and make Elizabeth a living Queen and Shakespeare a reality. That is the kind of work we have to look for in schools if we are to make real progress, and keep up the enthusiasm both of the child and parent for education.

The third and most important and controversial side of the Report is the school leaving age. The Report is moderate but very thorough in its inquiry and points out how important it is, if education is to be complete, for the age to be changed ultimately from 14 to 15, and then from 15 to 16. The problem we all have to face is not only a problem of the cost, but the difficulty of providing the necessary buildings and staff. They cannot be provided in a day. Were we to decide next year, by Act of Parliament, to compel every child to attend school up to the age of 15, there would be a difficulty, undoubtedly, in providing the necessary buildings and staff. But the Hadow Report, with great moderation, wisdom, and foresight, suggests that the local authorities should be asked to make recommendations, to look ahead. They suggest a period of five years. Five years is a long time. By that time, the year position of the country may have improved, and we want to be ready. We do not want to be stopped because buildings are not available and teachers are not trained. There, again, I would ask the Board to give us a lead.

I heard the Minister the other day say that he had sent out circulars to the local authorities, encouraging them to make estimates, at any rate, as to the probable cost and how far the necessary buildings can be applied. But we want something a little more than that. I would suggest that the least line of resistance is to take advantage of existing powers. Legislation is always difficult to pass through this House. As soon as you start to pass an Act of Parliament you are faced by opposition from all sorts of unexpected quarters. Powers exist in the Education Act, 1918, in a practical form, for provision is made that local authorities may make by-laws requiring the attendance at school of all children between 14 and 15 years of age, other than those employed in certain specified occupations and further to enable such authorities to grant individual exemptions. If those powers were put into operation by local authorities, everything that is required could be done. But who is going to foot the bill? Already two or three local authorities have taken advantage of those powers. I believe the Division of the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) has already set a very good example to the country. I do not know whether it has been at her direction or by her encouragement, but, whatever is behind it, Plymouth is going to give the lead. I am glad of that. I hope that other authorities are going to do the same kind of thing.

We want to be quite clear as to what the attitude of the Board of Education is going to be. Local authorities have to be assured that the money will be forthcoming, and that the principle will be approved of by the Board of Education, so that they can make plans ahead. I am credibly informed that in London, at any rate, with the present rate of decline of the school population, in three years it is almost certain that all children between the ages of 14 and 15 can be accommodated, that the necessary buildings will be available and that it will scarcely require the addition of a single man or woman to the teaching staff. The necessary teachers will be available because of the steady decline in the school population. That is a factor which has to be taken into account. If the local authority desire to use the powers of exemption that the Act of 1918 provides, the task will be very much facilitated; and that power of exemption is an important one. If you are going to vest in local education authorities the right to exempt those cases where children are in speci- fied occupations and are being trained and are learning something and being well looked after, much of the objection to early child labour will be removed.

Those who are concerned with this problem feel that it is a, criminal waste to allow children to go into blind alley occupations, as thousands of them do at the present time—van boys, errand boys and others running about the streets, learning nothing, and only to be thrown upon the scrap-heap at 16, and to become casual labourers and possibly unemployed at 18 or 20. That is a waste of our assets in a most reckless way. If the Board will face this problem in the spirit of the Act of 1918, I believe that in three or four years, if all have a will to do the work, we can raise the age without unnecessary opposition and expense. But we have had a very unfortunate example in the Board's attitude with regard to employment. One of the far-seeing things which the Liberal Government did before the War was to see that children should be properly placed at their work when they started their employment. That provision has done great good, because it has been under the supervision of the teachers in the schools and the teachers have been under the supervision of the Board of Education. Now, the Board has come along and thrown over its responsibility, and handed over the child to the Minister of Labour.

I thought the President of the Board of Education was a strong man, but, apparently, the Minister of Labour has been more determined; he has taken the child. This is a most unfortunate and reactionary action of the Board, and I hope that it is not too late to withdraw from that position. The attitude of the Ministry of Labour is that the proper place for a child between the ages of 14 and 16 is the labour market. Our view is that the proper place for a child between the ages of 14 and 16 is the school, and only as a temporary measure, owing to economic pressure on the parent, do we agree that a child should go out to earn its living at that age. The Board has taken a reactionary attitude and given way to the pressure of the Ministry of Labour. The Malcolm Report was linked up with the bringing of the child inside the machinery of unemployment insurance, and the justification for handing the child over to the Ministry of Labour so early was that the child might be insured; but that is not to take place. That Report further emphasised the necessity of education going on while the child was under 18. The unemployment centres that were organised with such a great flourish of trumpets have largely broken down. Those educational centres might do great good in training the child when it leaves school and happens to be out of work, but the machinery has broken down, as inevitably it must break down if it is not under the control of the Board of Education and is handed over to the Ministry of Labour. It requires a good deal of explanation why this decision of the Board of Education, which is the most reactionary thing that the Board has done during the last year, was taken.

There is another subject of very great importance, and that is technical education. I have asked many questions on technical education, but have not obtained much enlightenment. I have been referred to the Emmett Committee. One of the last things that Lord Emmett before he died was to deal with the position of the child in relation to education and industry. The Board has refused its blessing to that Committee; it has cold-shouldered the Committee. If it is an unofficial Committee, I do not expect the Board to take it under its wing, but what is the Board itself doing? We have had no real inquiry into technical education since the Royal Commission of 1882. If the subject of technical education was important in 1852, it is far more important today. When industry is subject to tremendous competition from every country in the world, when science, engineering and chemistry are more vital every day to the well-being of industry, and when we depend so much upon the product of our workshops and upon the maintenance of our foreign trade, it is most lamentable that technical education should be regarded as a sort of Cinderella. The Estimates for technical education have to be lumped into the Estimates for secondary education, and we do not know how much money is being spent on technical education. We are entitled to some survey and some inquiry as to how far technical education is effective in industry today.

Money spent on technical education would do more than all your tariffs or your safeguarding machinery to stimulate and revive many of our industries which to-day are suffering from bad trade. Not only are the workers very unscientific, but the employers and managers are behind-hand in technical and scientific education. We are entitled to ask the Government to tell us what their policy is? Yesterday, I asked for some guidance, and I was referred to pamphlet 49. I was already familiar with the contents of that pamphlet, and I was surprised that the Board should speak with such pride of that pamphlet, because it contains significant paragraphs. One paragraph contains the report of an inspector who had been up and down the country inspecting buildings. What does he say about one particular technical institute? It is interesting and illuminating, and it is quoted not as an isolated instance but as a typical example: There is no staff-room, no students' common room, no library, though there are many books: the cloak-room and lavatory accommodation is unsatisfactory, and the main corridor contains an objectionable projecting staircase. He also says: The lecture room is so badly lighted that it is impossible to see anything on the black board, and in the laboratory the lighting is so poor that volumetric or colorimetric work is impossible, and the atmosphere is bad. A specimen or precipitate obtained in the laboratory must be carried down a series of flights of stairs, across an open yard, through a gate, across another yard, before it reaches a recently provided furnace. These examples are quoted by the Board's own inspector of technical education buildings. I can speak from personal knowledge of the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, which is doing magnificent work in printing designs in connection with the printing industry, pottery and weaving. The school is handicapped by the same kind of out-of-date building, with insufficient accommodation, and the local authority will not do anything because they are afraid the Board will veto the expenditure and they will have to foot the whole bill. If industry is to be helped by education the technical side of our organisation must be brought up-to-date.

One further matter of importance is university education. For some reason or other university education is always ignored by the Board. It is usually dismissed in a few small paragraphs. I suppose it is because the local education authorities are only indirectly concerned. In this matter we are far behind Scotland, and even further behind Wales. Wales can give us a very good example. Fortunately, the local authorities in Wales really believe in education and, therefore, their university side has been properly developed.


And the secondary side also.


The neglect of our university side in this country is not because the people do not appreciate university education. There was a time, 30 or 40 years ago, when there was a lack of enthusiasm, when Oxford and Cambridge were both overcrowded and hundreds of students were turned away for lack of accommodation. In London something has been done, but not through the action of the Board, not through the action of the local education authorities but due to the magnificent action of the Rockefeller Foundation. It is a commentary on our university education that we have had to look to support from America.

We must have a larger conception of our responsibilities. At the Conference of the Labour party it was suggested that the Board of Education should be an elected Board. I do not suggest that, because I do not think it is a practical proposition; but I think the Board might be a real Board. Just as the Board of Admiralty is a Board representing all sides of the Service and just as the Army Council represents the various interests of the Army, so the Board of Education might be composed of a number of men and women technical advisers to advise the Minister and keep him straight and to take a large conception of what education really means. Just as in the Army Council we have various military members, such as the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General, I would like to see on the Board of Education an elementary school member, a secondary school member, a technical school member, a medical or public health member, a university member, and a finance member to keep all the various conflicting interests together and to keep up a comprehensive idea of what education really is. Thereby, the Minister could speak with authority. [An HON. MEMBER: "How would the members be appointed?"] Just as the First Lord of the Admiralty appoints his Board and as the Secretary of State for War appoints the Army Council, so the President of the Board of Education might appoint his technical advisers, and then instead of the Minister running up and down the country giving his personal opinion on this or that subject and laying down the law he would be able to speak with the moral authority of his technical advisers. That would not only strengthen the Minister's position, but it would make for co-ordination and a real advance in education. It would give the Board a moral authority which at the present time it lacks, and it would bring about that continuity which the late President of the Board of Education has for so many years preached. Meanwhile, the Board should go on with its work, not with the idea of fault finding, but as the real leader of education in the country to stimulate and encourage and lead the local authorities in the right direction of advance towards that kind of education which we really want.


The hon. Member who has just spoken hinted in his opening remarks that it was on account of some oversight on the part of Members of this party that the subject of education had not been brought on at an earlier stage. In agreeing with him as to the importance of the subject of education and its claims upon the attention of the House, I would remind him that we had a discussion on education on the Appropriation Bill on the 24th March in the last part of the Session, just before Easter, and as there are other subjects which have claims upon our attention we were not able to ask for the Education Estimates earlier than to-day. I cannot examine the Estimates of the Board of Education this year without feeling a sort of wonder as to whether these Estimates have been prepared by the same Minister as was appointed President of the Board of Education in November, 1924. When the Noble Lord entered upon office, he hastened to assure the country that, whatever was to happen to other Departments, education was to be subject to the policy of continuity. The policy of his predecessors, he said specifically, was to be his policy. I ask the Committee to look at page 6 of the Estimates presented this afternoon, on which there are some nine or 10 separate heads, and the final result which they will arrive at on examining the Estimates is that continuity to the Noble Lord means a net increase of £14, 000 in expenditure. In fact, it does not mean even that, for he only gets his £14, 000 increase by lumping in the £75, 800 very largely due to the operation of the Teachers' Superannuation Act, which is a mechanical increase that the Noble Lord cannot very well avoid, so that in fact, if you take out that £75, 800, so far from having real continuity, we are having a very deliberate species of retrogression.

If the Noble Lord, or the Noble Lady in his stead—and I quite understand his absence from the House at the moment—in replying to this discussion is able to say that where local authorities have asked permission to expand, the Board of Education has not curtailed them, where local authorities have asked permission to develop, they have not been hindered, or where local authorities have asked permission to advance, they have not been retarded—if they can answer in that way, then the gravamen of my charge against them will not have been sustained. But, as a matter of fact, it is easily proveable from these Estimates that there has been no substantial advance, and that continuity in fact is being interpreted by the Noble Lord and his Department as a form of stagnation. Indeed, they imply it themselves, for after the devastating flood of Circulars to which the local authorities were subjected—and it was a devastating flood which wrought havoc among local authorities who were keen upon progress, and filled them with dismay, discouraging and disheartening them—we had Circular 1388, in which the Board of Education indicated what it was they were driving at, for they said they were seeking to arrive "at some measure of general standardisation." You cannot standardise in this way in educational matters, and the only result of this attempt to secure standardisation has been that there is confusion. If there is confusion, if there is hesitancy, if there is uncertainty on the part of local education authorities, it is not the fault of those authorities—there has been no faltering on the part of their advisers—but the fault lies at the door of the Board of Education itself.

What is the position of local authorities? One admits that we can classify them like ordinary men and women into those who are good, those who are bad, and those who are indifferent. Of those various types of local authorities, which have suffered most at the hands of the Board of Education? Is it the retrogressive authorities? Is it even the indifferent authorities? It is the authorities whose needs are greatest, whose desires are keenest for educational progress, and I think that in visiting this upon the progressive authorities, it has almost added insult to injury, because these progressive authorities are already, without any pressure from the Board at all, subject to the most heavy industrial depression. That, of itself, would act normally as a pretty substantial deterrent to educational progress. In addition to that, the consequential heavy local taxation has been very difficult and grievous to bear, but it is those education authorities which have suffered most, by reason of the application of this principle of standardisation, if I may borrow that elegant word of the Board of Education.

Let the Committee for a moment look at the Estimates. The elementary education Estimates are reduced by £393, 278, a decrease of nearly two-fifths of £1, 000, 000. Is there any sort of case that can justify so big a reduction in the elementary education Estimates of the country? I have read the White Paper, which indicates why it is that the Board feels justified in reducing this Vote, and two points are adduced by the Board as reasons for this reduction. The one is a reduction in the average attendance of children in the schools, which I can quite understand, and the second is the anticipation on the part of the Board that a 7d, rate will produce more this year than previously. I admit that the Noble Lord and his advisers have access to much better and more reliable figures than I have—I can go very largely only by guesswork—but I am absolutely certain that, in regard to the authorities in progressive areas, a 7d, rate will not produce more in the next 12 months, but will produce considerably less. I take my own County of Glamorgan. The Glamorganshire County Coun- cil is in this position this year, that its rateable value has been reduced to the tune of £1, 250, 000. How in the world can anyone argue that these areas are going to produce a larger sum out of their 7d, rate? The thing is ridiculous, and what applies to Glamorganshire applies to Monmouthshire, I presume to Lancashire, to Yorkshire, to Durham, and to most of the industrial areas of this country. It may not be true of London, but I assert, without very much fear of contradiction, that this anticipation that a 7d, rate will produce more this year is founded upon entirely insecure grounds.

5. 0 p. m.

But suppose you grant that this 7d, rate does produce more, and suppose also that you grant, as you must grant, that the average attendance in school is lower, is that all? Is there not something to be put on the other side? What about the condition of school buildings? Has the Noble Lord himself looked at the report of his own medical officer of health? Has he looked at the Report for 1925 on "The Health of the School Child," starting at page 68 and going through the following six pages, where he will find instance after instance, not confined to poor areas, but applying also to tolerably well-to-do areas? The Report speaks of places where the school buildings are a standing disgrace to the local authorities concerned. Let me read some extracts. Here is one that applies to a Manchester district: It cannot be claimed that the essentials for health are provided in all the schools in the district. There are buildings which are defective in structure and where the lighting is deficient. There are playgrounds which is wet weather are pools of mud and water, directly injurious to the children, and rendering impossible the maintenance of a high standard of cleanliness in child or school. There are desks which are obsolete, and sanitary conveniences which are primitive. There are instances of insufficiency of lavatory bowls and cloakroom accommodation, and in general a multitude of defects which were so common a generation ago, hut which are gradually giving way to better things. I need not proceed any further with that particular instance, but that is in a town. Turn to the next page, and you have two instances, one taken from Nottingham and the other from Herefordshire. This is what is said of Herefordshire: In Herefordshire 174 schools have been inspected in 1925 for sanitary condition; 60 are poorly heated, 35 have bad 'pails' or privy middens"— This is put in brackets— ('the indescribable condition in which they are kept not only tends to lower the child's morale, but contaminates the water supply'), 52 have no water supply. Surely, before we can begin to cut down even the expenditure of last year, we ought to give the Committee assurance anyway that what can be done in the matter of the improvement of buildings, especially in regard to the sanitary conveniences attached to them, is being attended to. Let me ask another question, that has already been asked by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). What is the position in regard to the black list of some 650 schools, which was drafted before my right hon. Friend the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) left office? Have all those schools been attended to? Have all of them been put in order? Those are on the black list, but I would not be at all surprised if I found that this was a true state of things—that there are probably at least a thousand schools in this country which require immediate attention on the part of the local authorities. Here we are beginning to cut down in this direction with the consequence of course that the local authorities concerned necessarily cannot apply themselves to the business of renovating schools which are already requiring attention. We are told that they must not spend beyond a certain amount.

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

Is the hon. Member not confusing revenue and capital expenditure?


There is a distinction there but how much readiness does the Noble Lord show to entertain the idea of capital expenditure? Is the Noble Lord free to entertain it?




That is a piece of information which I am very glad to get, because only a fortnight ago the Noble Lord received a deputation from my own county which was asking for certain educational progress and certain items of educational advance. Meeting that deputation were not only the Noble Lord but representatives of the Ministry of Health, and before that grant could be entertained the Noble Lord, if I re- member aright, judging from the Report which I saw recently said that not only had he to be assured that this, that or the other expenditure was justified, but that he did not propose to move a yard until the Minister of Health had given his sanction. There is no use in the Noble Lord talking to me about capital expenditure when he knows as well as I do that he is not free to entertain it himself. Let me take another item of necessary expenditure—the question of books. Anyone who has been a teacher in the last 20 or 30 years as I have been, knows perfectly well that there has been a tremendous change in the nature of provision by way of books in the schools, but that change has come about very largely because of the difference in the type of teaching, the different methods of teaching and the different outlook upon the kind of curriculum that should be provided. All that involves not only new books but an infinite variety of books, and that involves very great expenditure. I really cannot conceive that adequate provision of good, sound, up-to-date books can be made while this parsimonious policy is in operation in the Board of Education. Are we adequately provided with playgrounds, and if we are not, how can we justify this whittling down? Buildings require attention, books require attention, playgrounds require attention. Is the staffing sufficient? I travelled one day this week with a member of a local authority in South Wales. I have only his authority for it and I have not seen the actual circular, but he assured me that a circular has come from the Board of Education almost entering a caveat against any attempt to replace uncertificated assistants with more efficient certificated teachers. If that be true clearly this is not educational progress at all but educational stagnation.

We in South Wales are very much concerned about a crisis which has developed in the administrative county of Carmarthenshire. I would not like to say any unwise word in regard to this matter; I know that it is a very delicate matter, but it is a matter which is agitating the minds of a very large number of educationists in the whole of the principality. What is the attitude of the Board towards it? This is the second instance of this kind of action being adopted by local authorities in South Wales. Some time ago we had the same difficulty or a cognate difficulty in Cardiganshire and it took a long time to settle it and it was then I fear settled only by mere exhaustion. Is the Board actively interesting itself in this matter? I see that in Circular 1388 it is stated in regard to salaries to be paid in public elementary schools that "grants will be paid upon expenditure properly incurred under the Burnham Award." I do not wish to enter into a discussion upon this matter, but what is the Board doing in this business? Already there is a threat of cessation of work on the part of the teachers; I hope it will not eventuate; if it does eventuate we shall have a very serious situation in that county and it is a county, after all, which looked at from the standard of its ability to pay salaries is not worse off, indeed it is in exactly a comparable position to the county of Breconshire.

Now I pass to another aspect of this question, namely, secondary education. We have cut off £390, 000 odd from elementary education and we have added £354, 000 odd on to secondary education. This rather reminds me of the Irishman who, when he had retired to rest discovered that a rather uncomfortable draught was coming from the window; he got up and cut a piece off the bottom of the blanket and put it on to the top of the blanket. That is what the Noble Lord is doing at the present time in regard to elementary and secondary education. He proposes to cover our intellectual nakedness by cutting off something on elementary education in order to put it on to secondary education. The Noble Lord spoke with some assurance and with a sense of great achievement the other day when he said that all was well with the Board of Education and that the secondary school children were not being adversely affected. In support of his contention he argued that the yearly entry of children over 10 years of age to secondary schools had increased under his ægis from 71, 460 to 77, 361. But he seems to have forgotten that in the year 1921 the number was 79, 801 and that in 1921–22 it stood at 77, 244. Until we have at least reached the level of 1920–21, we are not entitled to congratulate ourselves unduly.


May I ask what figures the hon. Member is quoting?


The yearly entry of children over 10 to secondary schools. I quote them from a speech which the Noble Lord made. What, after all, is the dominating feature of this secondary education problem? It is, I think, that in the post-War years there has been a greater urge for increased facilities for secondary education than in regard to anything else. Let me take figures which I received last week-end from my own county. The county of Glamorgan Education Authority some time ago decided to examine all its children in Standard V. Of these a certain number desired to go to secondary schools. 6, 032 actually qualified for admission in the sense of receiving the appropriate number of marks, I think 60 per cent. Of those, only 1, 900 were able to obtain places. What accounts for this terrible disparity between the figures of those who were able to go and the figures of those who desired to go? I think the reason is not far to seek. There is poverty on the part of education authorities and on the part of parents and that poverty in those two forms proves almost an insuperable barrier to very large numbers of children throughout the country. I want to adduce somewhat fresh evidence in support of that contention. I found the other day a book written by Mr. Kenneth Lindsay, who has been inquiring into the whole system of free places and the scholarship system of the country. He examined four separate places, London, Warrington, Bradford and Oxford, which are fairly representative of different types of areas. He summarises what he has to say in this paragraph: Finally, it has been conclusively proved that success in winning scholarships varies with almost monotonous regularity according to the quality of the social and economic environment. London, Bradford, Liverpool and the countryside bear this out in the minutest detail. One school in Lewisham wins as many scholarships as the whole of Bermondsey put together, seven poor London boroughs have an average of 1. 3 scholars per 1, 000 children in average attendance, as against 5. 3 in seven better-placed London boroughs. In Oxfordshire only 40 schools out of a total of 212 appear as sending scholars or free-placers to secondary schools in 1924; the remaining 172 are mainly poor and remote schools. At Bradford 75 per cent. of the children qualified in a school situated in a well-to-do dis- trict, while 34 per cent, qualified in a poor district. Out of 321 departments at Liverpool, from which free-placers and scholars might have come, 78 failed to nominate a single one, 208 did not win a scholarship, and 115 did not win a free-place. If the 39 wards of the city are analysed, it appears that eight, with an average attendance of 37, 133 children, sent 1, 224 scholars and free-placers, and that the 31 other wards, with 81, 422 children, had only 850 places distributed among them. These figures clearly indicate that the poverty of local authorities, coupled with the poverty of the parents, makes it almost impossible for innumerable children who desire secondary education to get into a secondary school at all. What I am about to say may sound a little unfair, but I hope it is not. Let the Committee consider the effect of poverty in these cases, with the effect of comparative wealth in other cases. Wealth does not impede but assists educational progress; at any rate it provides additional opportunities. We spent about £26 9s. or £26 12s. in 1924 to 1925 on each secondary school pupil. Then the noble Lord reduced the super-grant, and said that from now on educational authorities shall not spend more than £25 per pupil, unless they have sanction in advance for the expenditure. Compare that expenditure with certain boarding schools. A series of articles was written some time ago by Mr. Mackenzie in the "Spectator," in which he pointed out that the average cost at Eton per pupil in 1914 was £179 10s. To-day, with inclusive fees for extras, it is £210. Winchester's charges, he says, have risen from £140 to £210, and similarly Charterhouse, Radford, Lancing, and Marlow.

The point is that unless the Board of Education changes its policy and helps and stimulates and encourages the development of free places in secondary schools it will have this unjust result, that all the better places in industry, commerce and business will be reserved for the children whose parents can afford to pay, while the children of those who cannot will be debarred from these opportunities. Some hon. Member opposite may ask: why should the public provide this money? Let me answer that there are people who have children called fee payers in secondary schools, and a fee payer does not always pay the full cost of his education. Many of the fee payers in secondary schools do not pay more than £5 or £7 per year, while the total cost of the education is about £30, and for a premium, therefore, of about £7 a year they are able to get a secondary school education, whereas parents, because they cannot afford to pay the premium, are deprived of giving this education to their children. That is an unjust apportionment of the country's good gifts, and the only way to overcome the difficulty is to make the scholastic system of our secondary schools as free as the elementary school system itself.

Let me say one word on the question of nursery schools. The general argument has been put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). May I strengthen his argument by giving a few figures? Hon. Members will remember that there is a very grave loss of child life up to the age of 15 years. In 1900, 142, 000 children died before they reached the age of 15. In 1921, 112, 000 died before they reached that age, and in 1925, 96, 000 died before reaching that age, and the heaviest incidence of that mortality falls upon children below the age of five years. The children who survive that age come into the elementary schools frequently suffering from some form of disease or other, and in that way are unable to secure the best results from their school training. While I know that the Board of Education cannot compel local authorities to do much in this way, I submit that they can stimulate and encourage them. We ought, 10 years after passing the 1918 Education Act, to be able to rejoice in the equipment of more than 29 nursery schools throughout the country. It is a disgrace that we can only point to 26 nursery schools for this year; even evening play centres have been reduced from 266 to 261.

This pruning and paring is at the expense of those who require the attention of the Board of Education most of all. I ask the Noble Lady who is going to reply whether she can give us some encouragement to hope that nursery schools will he stimulated and encouraged. Some of the most gruesome figures came to me from Exeter last week upon this point, horrible figures of the rate of mortality in certain wards in Exeter, and what is true of Exeter is true of other parts of the overcrowded areas of the country. I am sure I shall not appeal in vain to the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, to encourage local authorities in this direction. I should have been glad if I could have spoken with more encouragement and with more congratulation of the work of the Board of Education, but it is impossible. There is no doubt that local education authorities do not know which way to turn; they do not know what next is going to happen. The hard hand of reaction is clearly being forced upon them by the Board of Education, and the Minister of Health, and until that hand is removed and progress once again becomes the dominating note in the policy of the Board, the outlook for education in this country is full of everything but hope for the children of our land.

Viscountess ASTOR

It is always a disagreeable thing to have to speak against your own party. Sometimes I wonder whether I am in the right party, and I am sure that all right-minded people feel the same, no matter to what party they may belong. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but they know exactly what I am talking about. It is with grief that I have to speak against my party to-day, but I think it is absolutely necessary. I agree with the hon. Member who has just spoken. I see signs of the hard hand of reaction taking hold of our education policy. Last week a Resolution was moved urging the Government not to raise the school-leaving age. It is not often that I bore the House with a long speech, but that Resolution reminds me of the 1919 Parliament. I must take hon. Members back to that Parliament and ask them to remember the mistakes which were made then in order to avoid future failures. In 1918 Mr. Fisher brought in his Education Bill because some of us had learned the lessons taught by the War. We had learned the enormous waste of educating children up to the age of 14 years and then putting them into blind-alley occupations. It was not worth the expense of educating some of them, although there were exceptions, and then putting them into blind-alley occupations. To-day, it is not a question of their going into blind-alley occupations; it is a ques- tion of their going on to the streets, because there are no occupations for them to go into.

We learned also the enormous wastage there was through ill-health and sickness—it costs the country far more than strikes and lockouts—and we, therefore, increased the number of our factory inspectors. We also found that if we wanted efficiency we had to get to grips with the drink problem, and we established a Board of Control in order to deal with the drink problem. We found out that immorality was at the bottom of a great deal of ill-health, and we established our women police, who had a great deal to do with keeping thousands of young boys and girls from leading immoral lives. All the plans of social reform proposed by the Coalition Government were killed by the Anti-Waste party, which fought the then Prime Minister, not because of his War record, but because of his forward social programme. We had to cut down expenditure on education, on factory inspection, juvenile employment centres, women's training centres, and the women police, and, as far as I can make out, the only thing the Anti-Waste party brought forward was a Bill to make drink more plentiful.


I can hardly see that the President of the Board of Education is responsible for these matters.

Viscountess ASTOR

I am only warning the President, against the same spirit which is beginning to make itself manifest in our party to-day. Even the 1919 Parliament, bad as it was, turned down that policy. I do not feel that I am like John the Baptist crying in the Wilderness. I feel that I am more like Ruth crying among the alien corn, with no Naomi to comfort her, and no Boaz to advise. All our social services were cut down on the excuse that we could not afford them. And the policy was supported by men who had made great profits out of the War. They were not interested one scrap in the social services of the country, only in their own war profits. They put money and gain before the general welfare of the country. Many of these gallant fellows have passed out, but their spirit goes marching on, the spirit of reaction. I have no doubt the spirit of reaction is to be found in all parties, but I am afraid it is getting too much of a free hand in the party to which I belong, and I appeal to the President of the Board of Education to listen to reason and not to reaction. I want to urge him to take the advice of the Committee which the Government set up to consider the question of education. The Report of this Consultative Committee was hailed and welcomed on every hand, but it had no sooner reported, when, without waiting three days, the President said he was not going to raise the school age. He made this announcement before anyone had had time to look at the Report; and one of the vital points in that Report was the raising of the school age. Let me read it to the Committee. The President says that he is not going to raise the school age in the elementary schools. Nobody has asked him to do so, all we ask him to do is to stick to the main lines of the Report. This is what the Report says: Provided that due provision is made, on the lines suggested in our earlier chapters, for the extension and improvement of post-primary education, the desirability on educational grounds of raising the age of compulsory school attendance from 14 to 15 is not, it seems to us, open to doubt. Such a step would do far more than merely add 12 months to the school life of the great majority of the children. Its effects would be, not merely quantitative, but qualitative, and would be felt in the years before 14 as well as in the years after it. For the extending from three to four years of the period available for post-primary education would not only make it easier for such education to be planned as a coherent and progressive course with a character and quality of its own, but it would also, and this is much more important, ensure that it continued sufficiently long to act as a permanent influence for good in the lives of those who passed through it. It is because the President has turned down that proposal that I feel compelled to speak to-day. He said last week: His Majesty's Government have seen no reason to depart from the policy thus defined (not to make raising of school leaving age compulsory), especially since both the Consultative Committee to the Board of Education and the Association of Educational Committees have recently expressed the opinion that local authorities cannot in any case be ready to provide generally for the proper education of children between 14 and 15 years of age before the year 1932 or 1933. In fact, the Consultative Committee recommended immediate legislation on the subject, to come into force in five years, and as for the education committees, representing some of the most experienced administrations in the country, they recommended that immediate legislation should come into force within six years, and some of them proposed that the matter should be left to local education authorities. So it is no good anyone getting up and telling us that the local authorities could not do it. The local authorities can do it if they are given time and given a lead. Quite frankly, I want to know what is the policy of the President of the Board. He can make out a very good case regarding the progress he has made—higher expenditure on secondary education this year, though lower expenditure on elementary education. I shall not go into details as they have been given to the Committee already. There has been an increase in the size of classes, but an increase in teaching staff and an increase of technical education and medical services. But the President need not take too much credit for himself; he is simply carrying out in the main the programmes of previous Presidents. He knows perfectly well that his policy will not be felt for two or three years, and we want to know what his policy is. Is it to wait on local authorities? If so, it is not a policy of progress but a policy of reaction. What a fight we had in Plymouth! Mercifully in Plymouth we have Conservatives who belong to my section of the party. They got it. We had to fight the Die-hards tooth and nail to get it through.

Everybody who has to deal with education knows perfectly well that generally it is not a popular subject. But all know that education is a vital necessity to the country. Suppose that the Minister of Health had waited on the local authorities. Does anyone think that we would have reduced infant mortality in the way that we have? If the Minister of Health had waited for the local authorities to make a move we would still be losing thousands of children every year. It has been otherwise because the head took a lead. I do not feel that we are getting a lead from the President of the Board of Education. I have no doubt that he wants to go on. The trouble is that he does not fight hard enough. One wants to care enormously for an idea to fight for it. The Minister of Health had not to reduce his expenditure much. I am sure he would not have waited for the local authorities to say what should be done. He had his programme and he put it through. He had to fight the Chancellor of the Exchequer. All Presidents of the Board of Education will have to fight Chancellors of the Exchequer. I am certain that the late President of the Board would tell the Committee that that is so. All Presidents have to fight a hard and vigorous fight.


I found the Chancellor of the Exchequer extremely sympathetic.

Viscountess ASTOR

Then why did not the right hon. Gentleman raise the school age? He had a majority to enable him to do so.


I was not allowed to stay there long enough.

Viscountess ASTOR

The right hon. Gentleman cannot get out of it in that way. He had a majority in the House in favour of the raising of the school age.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) has not a salary under discussion by the Committee.

Viscountess ASTOR

All I will say then is that the right hon. Gentleman did not raise the school age when he was President of the Board of Education. He, however, laid down a progressive programme, and so did the present Viceroy of India when he was at the head of the Board of Education, and both of them carried out their programme. But the Noble Lord who presides over the Board now has no progressive programme. He has killed the Hadow Report, which was the one hope. I hope that the Noble Lady who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Board will lay down a programme before the Government and fight for it. I would have every faith in her getting it through. I would warn the Committee that presently there will be hon. Members saying that we cannot afford to raise the school age in five years' time. Of the 550, 000 to 600, 000 children leaving elementary schools yearly only about 9. 5 per cent. go to secondary schools and about one in every thousand reaches a university. Of the 2, 800, 000 juveniles only about 20 per cent. are in full time attendance at any school. We have a very serious problem, as far as the juveniles are concerned. So serious was it that the Government set up a Committee to report on juvenile unemployment, and the other day the President of the Board of Education said that he did not think the raising of the school age would have any effect on unemployment. I have here the Report of the Malcolm Committee. The members of that Committee were not cranks like myself, but mainly nice law-abiding quiet citizens, not in any way Bolshevists but in every way most respectable. What did that Committee say? Of these measures the most important is the raising of the school leaving age …. The main reasons for the change ar educational in character, since it is felt that the termination of full-time compulsory education at, or shortly after, 14 years of age is premature. It is also urged, however, that a higher school leaving age will have considerable advantages from the point of view of employment…. The usual form which the proposal takes is that the school leaving age should be raised as soon as possible to the end of the school term in which the child reaches 15, instead of, as now, 14 years of age. Subsequently, but again as soon as possible, the leaving age would be further raised to 16. That is the opinion of respectable Conservative gentlemen—remember that. They say further: Even the most optimistic estimates allow a considerable period for preparation for the extension to 15, the minimum being about three years. Apart from those who advocate an immediate change, there are many others who, while expressing no opinion as to the time of preparation which would be required, definitely regard the raising of the school age as desirable in itself. It is also urged in favour of the change that it would mean a deduction of two years from industrial life, and the removal of some hundreds of thousands of juvenile workers from industry, with consequent beneficial effects on the prospects of employment of older juveniles and adults. After the publication of that Report, I cannot see how the Minister of Education dare say that he does not think the raising of the school age would have an effect on unemployment. The Government has a perfect mania for Committees. I do not mind their having the mania if they did something after the Committees had reported. They set up Committee after Committee and then we have opposition to what the Committees report. Arising out of the Malcolm Report they put the juveniles under the Minister of Labour instead of under the Minister of Education, which we think was a backward step. I want to appeal to those hon. Members who say that we cannot afford to raise the school age. I ask them to realise that we have more than 26, 000 boys and more than 25, 000 girls already registered at Employment Exchanges. Those are mainly young people between 16 and 18 years of age. When we come to the unregistered we find there are 120, 000 juveniles unemployed. That is a problem in itself. I do not think we can afford not to raise the school age.

I had intended to deal with the question of nursery schools. We have closed two and opened one. Everyone knows that about 40 per cent. of the children going to elementary schools are defective. There is too much waste going on in education, and I am against it. We do not begin soon enough and do not continue long enough. It is no good going off at half-cock, as the saying is. In industrial areas it is absolutely essential to have nursery schools. Consider the case of the Rachel MacMillan school. One-third of the children who attend come from one-roomed houses and two-thirds from two-roomed houses. Is it suggested that these children are to be turned into the streets? These nursery schools are run at a minimum cost. I beg Members of the Committee to go down and look at that school and to realise that that is the only possible way we have of giving the children of the very poor the start which we, the very rich, are able to give to our children. I do not know what hon. Members feel, but when it comes to the problem of starting the children something rises in me. I do not go as far as some hon. Members opposite. I do not agree that people are born equal and I do not believe that all would take the chance if they got it. But I do believe that there is wrong in not striving to give them a chance. That is what worries me. The percentage of children who died in 1925 was enormous. Of the 94, 000 children up to the age of 15 who died, 81, 000 were under five years of age. That is why nursery schools are absolutely vital in industrial areas.

I am really very unhappy about certain trends of legislation just now. I know that there are people in our party who are frightened of going too far and are frightened of expenditure. They do not realise that we are living in a changed world. The whole system of industry has changed. An able-bodied seaman in these days has to know more about machinery than an admiral knew 50 years ago. It is necessary to have trained minds, and industry cannot afford to go on with untrained minds. There is appalling waste in education. The Noble Lady who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Board knows perfectly well that of we had accepted the Hadow Report and had had a progressive programme, although it could not come into operation for five or six years, at least it would have encouraged and stimulated the local authorities. I would beg Members on this side of the House to urge on the Government the necessity for keeping the pledges which the Prime Minister gave. The Prime Minister came into power on a forward policy, and nobody who studies it could say that the Board of Education at present has, a forward policy.

Conditions have changed. As one goes through the streets, one can see that the problem of our young boys and girls is appalling. When they reach the transition age, we know there is no control over them at home such as there used to be. That applies not only to the homes of the poor, but to the homes of the well-to-do. One hears women who have every advantage to give to their children saying that they can no longer control their children, and if that difficulty is found among the well-to-do, how much more difficult is it in the case of those children whose education is stopped at the age of 14? We have 120, 000 juvenile unemployed walking the streets and listening to every kind of propaganda. A Socialist once said to me: "I could understand the Communists not wanting, to raise the school-leaving age, but I cannot understand a Conservative Government not wanting to do so." But it is not for any party advantage that I plead this evening. I speak with a real desire that the country should face up to its responsibility, and, after all, all this is the country's responsibility. Education is compulsory, and it is the duty of the House of Commons to urge a forward policy on the Board of Educa- tion, and not to be fooled by the figures which the Minister gives us, and which are simply carrying out what other Ministers have done before.


The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) at the outset of her speech said she feared she was going to appear as a rebel rather than as a dutiful supporter of Conservative policy in this matter. I do not know how that may be, but I feel sure that much of what she said, and certainly the spirit in which she said it, would be greatly admired and applauded in all sections of the Committee. I intervene in this Debate for a few moments, not because I claim to be what is called an education expert, but, because, since I have been a Member of Parliament, I may claim to have taken a close and genuine interest in educational matters. I am glad to say quite simply to hon. Members here, that I have not myself ever come across a publication dealing with the present problem of education in this country so interesting to read and so instructive in what it has to say as the Report of the committee presided over by Sir Henry Hadow on the education of the adolescent. I should like to ask the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education to consider with the President of the Board whether it is not possible to make this book available in the Vote Office. Although this is one of the most interesting, striking and effective hooks on educational reform which has appeared in our time, I understand that one has to go outside to buy it—no doubt through His Majesty's Stationery Office, but I do not think it is at present obtainable in the Vote Office. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I am glad to hear that it is available. It is a matter of the greatest importance that as many hon. Members as possible should find time to read this most interesting book.

It deals among other things with three points which I will mention, and I hope the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary, or the head of the Department will tell us in the plainest possible terms what attitude the Board of Education intends to take upon each. It deals with the technical and important subject of the grading of schools and, if I follow it rightly, it proposes that there should be a rearrangement by which—leaving aside for the moment the question of infant schools—the elementary school should be the first stage carrying the child up to the age of 11, and that there should be a perfectly definite and recognised change, a passing-up the ladder—a graduation in that sense—to schools of a different character, which other stages should be classed under particular heads such as grammar schools, modern schools, special classes, and so on. They give a number of reasons for that view which will appeal to anybody who reads the Report with attention. There is one passage which, I confess, struck me very much and which I will ask leave to read. It is to be found in the introduction to the Report, which I would remind hon. Members is a unanimous Report, and it is only necessary to read the names of the committee to see that they are people whose guidance to the Government and the country is not partisan guidance and is not the guidance of prigs or pedants. They are the very people from whom one would wish to get opinions, and they say: We cannot but feel—as we unanimously do—that the times are auspicious and the signs favourable for a new advance in the general scope of our national system of education. Do the Government take that view? Are we, in the view of the Board of Education and its political chiefs, at a time where a new advance in the general scope of our national system of education may be worked for and expected? Many critics and opponents—narrow-minded and obstinate people as I think—take a different view and agitate it. What is the view, as a matter of practical common sense, of the Board of Education on that question? The Hadow Committee go on to say: There is a tide which begins to rise in the veins of youth at the age of eleven or twelve. It is called by the name of adolescence. If that tide can be taken at the flood and a new voyage begun in the strength and along the flow of its current, we think that it will 'move on to fortune. ' We therefore propose that all children should he transferred at the age of eleven or twelve from the junior or primary school either to schools of the type now called secondary, or to schools (whether selective or non-selective) of the type which is now called central, or to senior and separate departments of existing elementary schools. They proceed to argue that if you transplant to new ground, and set in a new environment, you are creating an atmosphere and surroundings which are most hopeful for an advance in popular education. I think we are entitled to know from those who are going to speak on behalf of the Government how far they adopt and confirm this principle which is at the very beginning of the Report. I think any man who has children and has been responsible for their education during the years of youth, must feel a sort of sense of shame at the apparent ineptitude and the complacency with which we accept the situation, that so many of the youth of our country should start a systematic education and should drop that education just at the moment when it was likely to bear fruit. No father who has devoted himself to considering how his own children should be educated, can possibly contemplate this spectacle without desiring intensely to know how the Government regard the prospect of a general advance in our national system of education. That is the first point on which I wish to ask this definite question.

The second point is the subject of curricula. There is a most interesting passage in this Report which discusses how to shape the curricula in the schools to which the children are to be moved. How far the education is to be what is called practical, and how far is it to be designed, rather to cultivate the mind and to prepare the child for its duties in a broader spirit? I do not think I have ever read any document on this subject which seems so packed with good sense, and so absolutely devoid of the ordinary platitudes on the subject. What does the Board mean to do about that? I noticed the other day that the President of the Board had been receiving a deputation, headed, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull), who urged that patriotism should be taught in the schools. As long as it is clearly understood what is meant by patriotism, and as long as it is not a subtle or disguised attempt to denounce or ridicule opinions which Englishmen are perfectly entitled to hold, every decent person should be in favour of teaching growing citizens their duties as citizens and their loyalty to their country. But I noticed at the same time a controversy in the newspapers and a number of letters written to the "Times" on the subject of what is called "Teaching the League of Nations in the schools." A number of people are protesting most indignantly against what they call propaganda on behalf of the League of Nations in the schools.

I do not understand that view at all and I should like to know what the Board of Education have to say about it? The reason why patriotism, in its proper sense—not as a party cry but as expressing the deep, common, underlying sentiments and feelings of all citizens towards their country—should be a subject of instruction for a youth, is because the youth owes his duty and allegiance to the community in which he is growing up, and he cannot fulfil his part in the world unless he has been taught those fundamental facts which are the pride of the British tradition. That is the reason for teaching patriotism but there are people who seem to treat, what is sometimes called propaganda for the League of Nations, as a sort of fad, as if it were a thing upon which it was quite legitimate to entertain feelings of contempt or derision like vegetarianism or anti-vaccination, or somethng of the kind. It is nothing of the sort. The citizens of this country are just as much committed to the Covenant of the League of Nations as they are committed to the obligation of patriotism. Nurse Cavell said in a famous moment: "Patriotism is not enough" and it is an utterly false view of the proper function of public education in this country, as I think, that when you have one deputation to urge the teaching of patriotism, which is right enough as long as it is done in the proper spirit, you should in another connection seek to discourage what is called "teaching the League of Nations." We have entered into the most solemn covenants under the League of Nations and it is only possible to carry them out if the growing generation is made familiar with the obligations we have accepted and is prepared in its turn to support them.

I, therefore, should like to know on the subject of curricula, so far as it is dealt with in this report, what are the views of the Board of Education. When the President of the Board wrote his letter on the very morrow of receiving this elaborate document, he said he had not had time to study it, which was natural enough, but he lost no time in saying that the public mind might be quite certain he would not be responsible for proposing a raising of the school leaving age. Now that he has had time to study the report we are entitled to know the view which the Board takes. Lastly comes the vexed question of the school age itself. I would earnestly urge my colleagues who have not done so already to study chapter 8 of the Report which is headed "The Lengthening of School Life." It deals with the matter chronologically, traces step by step how we have by legislation approached this problem, and, as it appears to me, brings together as in a focus a series of considerations which some people may be prepared to disregard but which no Minister of Education worthy of the name could possibly "give the go-by to" by writing a letter. No doubt the difficulties are very great.

6. 0. p. m.

There is the obvious difficulty of money. No doubt it is difficult in matters of this sort to preserve a due sense of proportion, but I have no doubt hon. Members noticed some astonishing figures in an extremely vivid article written by Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson in connection with the dedication of the Menin Gate, which appeared in a newspaper two days ago. He said that the cost of the British preliminary artillery bombardment prior to the launching of the infantry attack at the battle of Messines amounted to £17, 500, 000, and that the cost of the preliminary bombardment before the third battle of Ypres was £22, 000, 000, that gigantic sum of nearly £40, 000, 000 being spent before those two battles proper had ever begun. I am not arguing that that was not necessary, but it does show that at certain times we not only face the outlay of very substantial sums of money but that money is poured out literally without counting the cost at all; and when I reflect that the Estimates presented by the Minister are Estimates for little more than that total, I find it very difficult to think we are making a wide use of our discretion, or making a true distribution of our resources between different objects all Clamouring for support, if the financial difficulty is put forward as a serious argument against an extension of the school age.


Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what possible relation there is between war expenditure when we were fighting for our lives and economic post-war expenditure in peace time?


I will tell the hon. and gallant Member. In the opinion of some people, at any rate, education is the preliminary bombardment for the battle of life, and it may be that even in these hard times money is quite wisely spent on securing that the children of the poor are kept at school to the age of 15, especially when some of us remember what education has meant for us, and when, as in my case, I recall that the advantage I have enjoyed in life is simply due to the fact that my father made his effort to give me that particular opportunity. That is the relation between these two things, and while I am perfectly willing to concede to the hon. and gallant Member that there is no precise correspondence between sudden and inevitable expenditure on a bombardment and this expenditure, my point remains, and it is this, that probably very few Members of the House were conscious that that sum of money was being spent during the War.

Let me ask the hon. and gallant Member who interrupted me to consider this. He is no doubt aware that something like 450, 000 young lives are poured into the market for employment on leaving these schools. With this going on at a time when industry cannot find employment for its adult workers, does anyone who is able to take a large view really contend that it can be for the prosperity of this country that we should show ourselves chary about considering this change? Let me point out finally that there is no way in which we can effect this change except by being prepared to legislate now for a period some time ahead. A change of this sort cannot be made in the course of a Session. The recommendation, and the only recommendation, of the Hadow Commission on the subject is this. They say on page 148:— The course of wisdom, therefore, it appears to us, would be to pass legislation fixing, the age of 15 as that up to which attendance at school would become obligatory after the lapse of five years from the date of this report, that is to say, at the beginning of the school year 1932. Are we really to understand that private Members of the Conservative party are resisting that proposition, that that method of approach, which is the only method of approach, is rejected at sight by the Government of the day? The proposal leaves an opportunity for postponement if some calamity overtook us which made it impossible to fulfil the undertaking, it gives notice to the local education authorities so that they may be able to make the necessary rearrangement of structures and extend their arrangements for the training of teachers, and it gives notice to the parents of this country, who, I quite agree have got to be considered, that this is the direction in which the progressive educational movement of this country is determined to go.

This Committee, as I have pointed out, was staffed with the very best people for the purpose, people with, so far as one knows, not the smallest bit of bias in their composition—authorities, it is true, but not pedants. We got from them a unanimous report, expressed in one of the most interesting and readable books it has been my lot to peruse. In these circumstances it seems hopeless that we should be told the last word has been said because the President of the Board of Education, the moment he received the report and before he had time to read it, wrote a letter giving an assurance that no step in the direction of the extension of the school age was contemplated. I do not wish to minimise the difficulties. I think it is fair to say that the Minister is able to give a list of a number of matters in which his performance in the last 12 or 18 months may be compared to his advantage with the prospect which would have been seen if Circular 1377 had been put into operation in all its naked thoroughness and fury—whether the House of Commons had anything to do with that I do not know, but I perfectly well admit it. That plea is, however, no answer when we are trying to take a view of the future along the line of the re-grading of schools, the revision of curriculum and the extending of the school age. On these, I submit, we are entitled to have some very specific answers from those who speak on behalf of the Board, and I invite the Noble Lady and her colleague to give us satisfaction.


A number of questions of great interest have been raised this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) in particular raised several questions to which I will endeavour to reply. I think the first question related to the progress made in the replacing of black listed elementary schools. That is a question I will deal with later when I answer the questions put to me by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green next put to me a question about nursery schools, inquiring whether the Board had refused to sanction any nursery schools. We have had very few proposals for opening nursery schools since we came into office. We have sanctioned one being opened in an important industrial area. Three have been closed for various reasons incidental to the locality, not on account of any compulsion from the Board.

I should like to assure both the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green and the hon. Member for Caerphilly with what concern I read the passage quoted from the Report of the chief medical officer dealing with the health of children of pre-school age, and I recognise the importance of doing all that is possible to bring those children within the scope of the school medical service. I greatly appreciate the work done for such children in nursery schools and in day nurseries such as those to which the hon. Member has referred as being established in his constituency. Unfortunately however nursery schools have proved a costly method of dealing with the young child. The cost per child in most of them works out at about double the average cost per child in elementary schools.

Viscountess ASTOR

That is not the case in regard to Miss MacMillan's school.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I do not forget that Miss MacMillan has developed her school to a size which has made it possible for the cost per child to be considerably reduced, but what I have said holds good, I think, of all or almost all the nursery schools in the country, namely, that they are being run at a cost which, though not excessive when compared to the value of the work done for individual children, would mean that any considerable extension of these schools could only be undertaken at a cost very much greater than the cost of other forms of education.

The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal-Green next drew attention to the Report of the Board's Consultative Committee, on which we have just had a most interesting speech from the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). I wish to say emphatically that I yield to no one in my recognition of the value of that Report. It is one of the most valuable documents, so far as I am able to judge, which has emanated from the Board's Consultative Committee. In some respects it bears a striking resemblance to a Report issued by the Board's Consultative Committee of some 20 years ago. I am glad to know that the Report has been widely read, not only in this country but in the Empire generally, and I heartily echo the wish of the right hon. Gentleman that all Members of the House who are interested in this service of education will make themselves acquainted with the Report.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley grouped the proposals of the Hadow Committee under three heads, and asked what was the attitude of the Government with regard to them. The first point he mentioned, as being emphasised by the Committee, is the desirability of making a break in school life at about the age of 11—namely, at the end of the primary stage—in order that the child may receive the incentive which comes from entering a new department, from being surrounded by a new atmosphere, and from entering upon a new curriculum at a time when, in the case of the normal child, there is considerable development. I am glad to be able to assure the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that to make this break at this age is already the declared policy of the Board. More than two years ago we issued a circular urging this upon local education authorities, and recommending reorganisation of elementary schools to this end wherever possible. As a result, such reorganisation has been carried out in many areas. The second point mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the need for broadening the curriculum at the post-primary stage. The Committee have shown us the importance they attach to what I consider to be an absolutely fundamental consideration—namely, that children vary infinitely in tastes and types of ability, and if education is to develop as well as to discipline—and I think there is general agreement to-day that it must include development—it stands to reason that, within such limits as are possible to us, the courses of instruction must be such as to suit varied abilities. Further there is expert educational opinion to show that variation is above all needed when the post-primary stage is reached. I am glad that this appears now to be recognised by all political parties. I was very interested to notice an indication of this in a very interesting statement of educational policy which was issued a short time ago by the Labour party. I also noticed with interest that a resolution in favour of varied courses was passed at a recent Liberal conference, and I am glad to think that the provision of better opportunities, and varied opportunities, in central and other schools was put forward by the Prime Minister in his manifesto at the last General Election. We have been pursuing this policy of endeavouring to provide a variety of forms of instruction at the post-primary stage, and there has been a steady increase in such forms of instruction, but to-day children receiving a purely academic secondary education are about three times as numerous as the children receiving alternative types of post-primary education. It is therefore clear that while we need more secondary schools, and we are steadily increasing them, what we need equally and indeed more is the development of the alternative courses recommended by the Consultative Committee, and our efforts are being directed to that end. Then the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in connection with the curriculum the question of teaching about the League of Nations. I can assure him that there has been no discouragement of that teaching. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education took the initiative among Ministers of Education in that respect, by calling a conference which met a month or two ago and which was unanimous in drawing up a resolution on the subject.

The third point in the Committee's Report mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley was the raising of the school age. I would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that, while the members of the Consultative Committee were unanimous in regard to his first two points, when they came to this question of raising the school age they were not unanimous. There was a Minority Report signed by three members, one of whom was the chairman of the education committee of the London County Council. I venture to say that the signature of such an influential gentleman is one to which considerable weight must be attached. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green spoke of the ease with which the school age could be raised in London. There is evidently some inconsistency there with the Minority Report signed by the chairman of the London Education Committee.

Now I think the President of the Board made his policy quite clear in reply to a question which was put to him the other day. We are very conscious of all that has been done to improve the education of the elder children in many of our elementary schools. We have placed in the forefront of our policy the improvement of the opportunities for elder children by reorganisation and better grading. There is still much defective grading in small schools, in which too often children between the ages of 11 and 14 are grouped together in a single class, and, while we have so many defective school buildings and crowded classes in our large towns, we cannot see our way to name a day for taking a step which we know in such schools will inevitably intensify these defects. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley mentioned the £40, 000, 000 spent on the preliminary bombardment at the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Ypres, and complained that we were only spending a like sum on education. I would only say to him in the first place that just because money at that time had to be thrown away like water it is difficult to do everything that one would wish to-day.

I would also say, in the second place, that, while the figure of the Board's grant may not be very much greater than the figure which the right hon. Gentleman quoted, do not let him forget that all the money which the local authorities are spending on education from the rates is also educational expenditure. If hon. Members will study our Estimates Memorandum they will see that the total expenditure on education in England and Wales alone is not less than £76, 500, 000. When we are comparing the amount spent on education with other expenditure, we must not ignore what is spent from local public funds as well as the amount of the Board's grant. In regard to the Hadow Report, I hope I have been able to reassure the right hon. Gentleman as to the policy of the Government. The second point of the policy advocated by the Consultative Committee—namely, the broadened curriculum—was implied in the policy in regard to children of 11 to 14 on which we came into office. My right hon. Friend has not only been giving effect to that policy, but to the first point mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. He is not, however, able to fix a date for the raising of the school age. But, after all, the date on which a change of that sort is made is quite a secondary matter. What does matter is that we should all have the same educational aims in view, and that is what I think is really gratifying because, as far as I can judge, we are all one in approving the main educational point in the Consultative Committee's report.


May I assume that, without fixing any particular date, the ultimate aim of raising the school age is the policy of the Government?

Duchess of ATHOLL

I am afraid I am not in a position to say that.

The hon. Member also referred to the question of placing the administration of choice of employment under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour. I would ask the hon. Member to recollect that whereas one-half of the Education Authorities administer choice of employment, in the areas of the other half the work of placing young people in employment is being administered by Commit- tees acting directly under the Ministry of Labour, and that it is under the Ministry of Labour that Education Authorities administer the juvenile unemployment centres. All that the change means is, that instead of two Government Departments being responsible for the placing of young people in employment, only one Department will be responsible in future. The Ministry of Labour have information on the subject of industry that we cannot claim to have, and, as the Malcolm Committee pointed out, local authorities are handicapped in the administration of choice of employment if they are unable to deal with a Ministry which can, so to speak, overstep the boundaries of local authorities, because industrial areas do not necessarily correspond with those of the education authorities. I assure the hon. Gentleman, as I have assured the House before, that, in handing over to the Ministry of Labour the whole of the administration in regard to placing in employment, instead of only half, as hitherto, we do not for one moment wish to minimise the importance of the boy or girl of 14 or 15, after leaving school, being kept in touch with educational agencies, in order that every facility may be afforded to them for taking advantage of opportunities for further education. It is simply a matter of uniformity of administration. The child will be kept in touch with educational agencies, and local authorities will be invited to assist the Ministry in the supervision of this work by sending representatives to a national council.

Then the hon. Gentleman is inclined to blame us for alleged lack of progress on the part of the Universities of England. I would only say to him that very brave would be the President of the Board of Education who would try to impose his will or authority on the Universities of either England, Scotland or Wales. My right hon. Friend does not lack courage, but I think that even his courage would not carry him quite so far as that.


And would not his money?

Duchess of ATH0LL

I think the hon. Member is blaming us for things which are other than questions of money. We have to remember that the Treasury gives grants direct to Universities through the University Grants Committee, and it would be impossible to duplicate grants. Then the hon. Member wished to see something corresponding to the Army Council set up at the Board of Education—an Army Council which would include members of the teaching profession. I would only say to him that there can be no analogy between a council of experts set up to advise the Minister of a highly centralised and very expert service, and a council such as the hon. Member suggests, set up to advise a Minister who already has a very valuable Consultative Committee, and whose service is widely decentralised, so that not only administrators of experience throughout the country, but also teachers, are sharing in the work of educational administration. To set up a further council such as the hon. Member suggests would, it seems to me, be adding a fifth wheel to the coach.

The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) uttered a very severe indictment against us. He said that, whereas my right hon. Friend had announced a policy of continuity, he had pursued a policy of stagnation. The hon. Gentleman was very concerned to find that our Vote this year was only £14, 000 more than our Vote last year, and he told us that we could not take credit for our Vote being larger by even this small amount, because it showed an increase of £75, 000 for teachers' pensions. I would only remind the hon. Member that we thought ourselves very fortunate in that we have had to face an increase of only £75, 000 for teachers' pensions this year. Last year we had an increase of £360, 000 for that same item, and the year before we had an increase of over £400, 000. Therefore, if we had had to meet the amount for teachers' pensions that we might normally have expected, our Vote would have been several hundreds of thousands of pounds greater than it is.

Then the hon. Gentleman seemed to have had some difficulty in understanding the reason for the reduction in the Vote for elementary education. I quite agree that at first sight that reduction does look alarming, but I do not think the hon. Gentleman has really taken the trouble to read carefully the reasons for the reduction which are given on page 26 of the Estimates. The reasons there given are: the fall in average attendance, which is an accepted fact; the rise in the value of a 7d. rate; and the diminution in estimated salary expenditure due to the operation of the last Burnham Award. I think the hon. Gentleman must take it that those are the reasons for this reduction. He was inclined to question whether the product of a 7d. rate would rise as expected, and I suppose that at the present moment that must be only a matter of estimate, but I fail to see any connection between the question whether a 7d. rate will produce more or not and the question of fixing standards of cost for certain items of local authorities' expenditure. I think the hon. Gentleman was inclined to argue that those areas in which it was doubtful whether the value of the rate would rise would not be very severely hit by the proposed limitation of certain parts of their expenditure as laid down in Circular No. 1388. I suggest that there is really no connection between the two. If there are areas which show that their assessable value is not rising as we expect, that may bring so many more areas into those that we class as necessitous, and to which we give a certain amount of relief. I do not think there is any connection between assessable value and the question of standardisation of certain items of expenditure.

I was very glad to hear the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green hail that much abused Circular No. 1388 as moderate and reasonable in substance, and I think that, if the hon. Member for Caerphilly will read the reply which my right hon. Friend gave a few days ago to a question on this subject, he will see that the number of authorities which it has been necessary to approach as the result of the principles laid down in that Circular has been very small, and that most of those who have been approached have been able to make a good case. Therefore, the number of authorities affected by the Circular is very small. Then the hon. Gentleman was inclined to deny that we were making any progress either in the replacement of defective schools or otherwise.


I merely asked if any progress was being made.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I am very glad to know that the hon. Gentleman is only doubtful on the subject. I think the Committee ought to realise, in the first place, what a very heavy and, perhaps, unexpected burden has been laid on the Board and on local authorities by the necessity for building new schools in new housing areas. That is a development which I venture to say was quite unforeseen when we came into office; I personally was not aware of it until after I had been at the Board for some time. It is more urgent than anything else that we have had to meet. In the first place, it has helped to swell the figures for capital expenditure on building which we have approved during the two and a-half years we have been at the Board, and I must once more, at the risk of wearying the Committee, repeat how very large those figures have been.

In the year 1925–26, my right hon. Friend approved £6, 000, 000 of capital expenditure, a larger amount than in any year since the War; and in the next year he approved nearly £6, 000, 000 of capital expenditure, of which the greater part was for elementary schools, either in new areas or replacements. In the last financial year, capital expenditure to the amount of £3, 300, 000 for elementary schools was approved, a sum which represented 50 black-list local authorities' schools, while 18 more black-list local authorities' schools have been approved for replacement since the 1st April this year. Besides that, programmes have been put forward by the local authorities, which, as my right hon Friend told the House on a previous occasion, will practically complete, by the year 1930, the black-list schools—List A schools—for which they are responsible. Besides these replacements by local authorities of List A schools, we approved replacements of similar voluntary schools to the number of 122 in the last financial year, and 67 such schools since the 1st April this year. I think, therefore, that we can say we are doing something really substantial to meet what I agree is a very grave blot on our elementary education system.


May I ask how many of the remaining schools are council schools?

Duchess of ATHOLL

My right hon. Friend will give that figure later; I have not it by me at the moment. I do not yield to the hon. Gentleman in my sense of the misfortune it is that to-day we should have so many schools which are of the type that has been described in this Debate. We have, however, in the programmes undoubted evidence of the intention of local authorities to deal with these schools. They have put them in the forefront of their programmes, and I think the figures I have quoted are substantial evidence of the desire of voluntary bodies in many parts of the country to grapple with what is undoubtedly to them a serious and difficult problem.

Then the hon. Member for Caerphilly was inclined to doubt whether we were making any progress in the provision of new secondary schools. He told us that we had not got back to the figures of 1920–21. That may be true of the figures at the beginning of the school year, but we are not responsible for what happened from 1921 to 1925, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that throughout the time we have been in office we have had a steady increase of pupils coming into grant-aided secondary scools. In 1926–27, for instance, we have had just over 13, 000 more pupils in these schools than there were in the year 1922, and just over 13, 000 more free places. Unquestionably, therefore, we have made a steady advance in that direction also, and our Estimates Memorandum shows that we are allowing for an increase of £300, 000 for local authorities' secondary schools for the current year, as compared with the actual figures for 1925–26.

The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the inequalities in the numbers of children coming forward for free places from areas of different types, and I think he is inclined to hold us responsible for those inequalities. It is very regrettable that there should be inequalities of that kind, but I do not think the instances that the hon. Gentleman gave were altogether apposite. He started with Lewisham as an area which sent a large number, and Bermondsey as one that sent but few. Clearly, the difference between those two areas cannot be due to poverty of the local authority, or to limitations imposed on one local authority by the Board, because both areas are under the same local authority. There must be other causes, therefore, for inequalities such as that.


I also adduced poverty on the part of the parents.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I think it is unquestionable that poverty of the parents may very often be a cause of failure to give the child the background and assistance out of school hours that would help him forward; school organisation and teaching may also have something to do with it; but I think that, anyhow, the Committee should be assured that such inequalities are not due to any action taken by the Board.

Finally my Noble Friend the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) spoke with the earnestness and warmth of heart which we expect from her when any question of child welfare is concerned. I have already dealt with the question of the raising of the school age and I need not add to what I said on that subject. I will only say in reply to what she said as to the small number of children who passed on to whole time education from elementary schools that there is some comfort to be found in the fact that some 40 per cent. of the children leaving elementary schools attend part-time classes, and there benefit by educational influence and interests, and I think that is a fact of which we should not lose sight. Continued full time in school is best, but failing this, the great thing seems to me to be that someone who has the child's welfare at heart, someone who realises the value of education, someone who can impart new interests to the child's life, should be in touch with him during the years of adolescence. If he is in touch with such an influence, whether in part-time classes or some voluntary organisation, we need not despair of him. I may therefore assure the Committee, if further assurance is needed, that we stand by the policy announced by the Prime Minister in his election manifesto, a policy which my Noble Friend has often repeated to the House. It is idle to ignore the difficulties which the financial position of the last two years has put in our way, but I think we may claim that in spite of those difficulties we have been making steady headway in the things that most needed to be done and the things that we put in the forefront of our programme. We can only hope that before long a brighter day will dawn and that we may be able to give more expeditious effect to the policy in which we believe—the policy to which we are pledged.


I think we may congratulate the Noble Lady on the capacity she has displayed in defending her Department, and also on the manner in which she has evaded the very definite specific question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), that is, the raising of the school age. That is the acid test of progressive policy as far as the Board of Education is concerned. I want to ask the Minister whether, in the first place, the Government is definitely in favour of the principle of raising the school age and whether this year, next year or at any time they are prepared to raise it. Is it merely a question of the length of time that ought to elapse between now and the bringing of the compulsory raising of the age into effect or is the Government determined that it never shall be raised? As far as I can ascertain from the answer of the Minister himself and from the speech of the Noble Lady, the Committee can quite make up its mind that the Government has decided that the school age shall not be raised compulsorily and that the Government has decided something more than that, that the Board of Education shall no longer be responsible for children after the age of 14. I notice the Noble Lady in defending her Department stated, as she has stated before, that this giving over the choice of employment after the age of 14 is merely a step in progressive administration and that there is really nothing at issue in that matter. But the fact that the Board of Education has transferred the choice of employment to the Ministry of Labour, coupled with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and coupled still more with an answer given on Thursday last, clearly shows that up to now the policy of the Government is that the school age shall not be compulsorily raised. I hope the Noble Lord will be able to assure us that there is some hope that that position may be altered.

The Noble Lady also excused the policy of the Government on the plea that the Committee that has been praised so much to-day that issued the Report on the education of the adolescent was not unanimous about this matter. I believe that statement needs a slight correction. The Committee was unanimous about the principle of raising the school age. Even the three people who signed the dissentient note admit that they are in favour of raising the school age of the child. The only difference they had was a difference of time. Let me quote: We are entirely in agreement as to the desirability of gradually extending the school life. That means that the whole of this Committee without exception unanimously agreed that it is desirable to raise the school age and that the only difference, even of the small minority mentioned here, was on the matter of time. The Government, by their policy of refusing to raise the school age, are going against the recommendation of every Committee that has inquired into the question since 1909. In 1909 the Royal Commission on the Poor Law recommended the raising of the school age. There was a Committee in 1917 that considered the question of juvenile employment and unemployment. It recommended the raising of the school age. The Malcolm Committee has not recommended, but it has denitely stated that the cure for this question with regard to children between 14 and 16 is the raising of the school age. The Salvesen Committee, which considered the question in Scotland, recommended that at least the children who could not get regular employment should be compulsorily retained at school. Every single Committee that has considered the problem has reported in the direction of raising the school age.

It is quite clear from a close study of what is happening in the educational world that what is saving us, in so far as we are being saved in the educational system, is the attitude of the local authorities. It is the local authorities who are preventing violent reaction taking place in the educational world. It is not the progressive policy of the Board of Education but the progressive policy of the local authorities. As a matter of fact it can be clearly proved that the Noble Lord has endeavoured to secure reductions as far as staffing is concerned in about 84 authorities. He has pointed to the, fact that their expenditure was large in that respect, and it was the stiffness and the determination of the local authorities that prevented a drastic reduction in staff. The Noble Lord also has been taking praise to his Department for an increase in the number of teachers, but that is not by any means the whole picture. If codal values are taken into account it will be found that there is less staffing—less qualitative and less quantitative staffing—in about half the authorities than there was last year. He will find also that no single reactionary authority, no authority with bad staffing, no authority with too few teachers or too ill-qualified teachers, no authority of a reactionary character of that kind has been spurred on by the Noble Lord to progressive action, and it is the progressive authorities by their attitude towards education who have saved us much as we have been saved and not the policy of the Board. I want to come back again to this question of raising the school age.

The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain FitzRoy)

I think I ought to point out to the hon. Member that, strictly speaking the raising of the school age will not be in order on this Vote because it would be necessary to have legislation.


May I point out that under the Act of 1918 it will be possible for every local authority to raise the school age with the approval of the Board.


That is the reason why up to now the remarks of various Members have been allowed to pass, but when there is a direct challenge to the Minister I doubt whether he can raise the age without legislation.


May I point out that the Under-Secretary has made a speech a substantial portion of which was addressed to this subject, and while, of course, we are all anxious to obey your ruling, those of us who have spoken and those who have not, it is a little difficult to see how the Noble Lady can deal with the matter at that length, and there can be no opportunity of discussing it.


May I point out that not only has it been raised already, but also in the matter of administration there are several authorities who have raised the school age.


I should like the Minister to tell us whether he has that power without legislation.


I think it is perfectly within the limits of order on an Estimates Debate to raise the question of the effect and desirability of an increase in school life, or even the compulsory raising of the school age, in view of the fact that under existing legislation local authorities can do it. But if Members are to challenge me directly as to whether it is or is not the policy of the Government to introduce new legislation for universally raising the compulsory age, I only hope you will allow me, when my turn comes to speak, to deal with the point.

7. 0 p. m.


That is exactly what I was trying to convey to the Committee. As long as it is limited to the desirability of raising the school age, it is another matter, but, if it be a direct challenge to the Minister to make the raising of the school age compulsory, then it would not be in order.

Captain A. EVANS

On that point of Order. Do I understand, from that ruling, that it is in order to say it is desirable to raise the school age, but it is not in order to say that it is undesirable to do so?


There is, in a sense, a distinction without a difference.


I am very glad to have had this interruption, and I hope the Minister will have the opportunity that he desires. I should like to help him in coming to a decision on this matter by pointing out the attitude of the local authorities. The local authorities have consistently, for some time now, supported the raising of the school age. They have considered the matter from the point of view of raising it by individual authorities and have come to the conclusion that that is an impracticable proposition; further, not only is it administratively an impracticable proposition, but it would inflict injustice on those children whose school age was raised so far as employment is concerned. I have pointed out before that the continuation schools broke down London because the children were at a disadvantage, when they were compelled to attend continuation schools, in getting employment as against children who lived in contiguous areas where they were not compelled to attend. The authorities, therefore, have come to the decision that the only practicable method is to raise the school age generally throughout the country, and that is the function of the President of the Board of Education.

At their last conference the local education authorities—who were by no means all Labour men or Socialists, for I think some of them belonged to the Liberal party and some to the Conservative party—considered this matter, and I find that Alderman Sir Percy Jackson, the chairman of the West Riding of Yorkshire Education Committee, is quoted as having said: Anyone who had been engaged in educational work would agree that if they added a year to the school life of the child they were doing something for it which in proportion was far greater than one year, and by increasing the school leaving age to 15 they were going to do something for the child which was of overwhelming importance. Further, Sir Percy Jackson did not forget the cost. He said: As to the cost, he considered there was no authority which could not afford to build the schools which were necessary. People were raising bogies over this question. Where should we have been to-day if educationalists in the 18th Century and in 1902 had adopted a similar attitude? There was plenty of money in this country to-day to pay for things which were not necessary, and there was plenty of money also to make this additional provision for the children of this country if only educationalists had sufficient courage to face the position squarely and say it should be done. I assume the Noble Lord is an educationist, and I ask him, in the words of Sir Percy Jackson, to face the position squarely and with courage and to see that it is done. Here is a practical administrator, the chairman of one of the largest authorities in this country, who says that this is definitely a practicable proposition, and I should have thought that his experience ought to have some weight with the Board of Education. Then I noticed Sir George Lunn, in the same debate, said he was strongly in favour of raising the school leaving age and that he knew from personal experience the value of those two or three years following the age of 13, and he added: I am strongly of opinion that every year of continuation over the age of 13 is worth every two years before that age. That whole Conference of Education Committees passed a resolution that in six years the school age in this country ought to be raised. I will not ask the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans), who seems so violently opposed to this measure, whether he is going to place his experience and knowledge of this question before that of men who have had to deal with the problem in a practical manner as these men have. It appears to me from the attitude which the hon. and gallant Member has adopted that he belongs to the school of thought which thinks that economy is got by starved bodies and stunted minds. He has quite clearly shown his attitude this afternoon, and I ask him: Can he tell us what equality of opportunity there can be to any child without this education and this raising of the school age? Can the State say it gives equality of opportunity to our children when some of them are forced into the factories and workshops and, worse than that, into the streets, and some are forced into intermittent employment and blind alley occupations while others, because of their better position, are able to get extended educational facilities and opportunities? The fact of the matter is that right behind every practical effort to achieve equality of opportunity there is our educational system and the facilities which it offers. There cannot be, in modern society, equality of opportunity for children without extended educational facilities. I am amazed at the hon. and gallant Member purely from the economic point of view. If he will only study the Balfour Report on Education in Industry, I think he will find that that Committee emphasised the supreme and tremendous importance of continued and further technical education and the complete reorganisation of the system not merely from the local point of view. What they say is that there ought to be a national survey of all this business so that we can pool experience and develop our technical education system along the right lines.

I want to tell the Noble Lord, quite frankly, that, taking his policy and that adopted by the Board with regard to this question and the attitude of the Ministry of Labour, I am beginning to feel there is more educational hope in the Ministry of Labour than there is in the Board of Education, for the Ministry of Labour are quite clearly showing that they are alive to the stupendous technical and economic results and value of education while the Board of Education are not alive to that at all. I was very interested in reading the Report of the Advisory Committees issued by the Ministry of Labour, for I actually find that the Advisory Committees in the Ministry of Labour are instruments for keeping the children in school until they get employment and until 15 years of age. Just imagine the pass to which we have come under the regime of the President of the Board of Education. The enlightened policy of progressive education is now being taken on by the Ministry of Labour, and I am becoming almost convinced that I have made a mistake in thinking that we ought to keep children under the Board of Education and that there is much more hope from the other—the Ministry of Labour—than from the Ministry which we generally call the Ministry of Education.

The fact of the matter is that till recently the Board of Education was a progressive spur to local authorities on matters of education. Till recently the Board spurred on laggard authorities. Now the Board of Education is no longer acting as a spur at all, but welcomes reactionary authorities who will cut down educational expenditure. The Board dislikes the progressive authorities who are attempting to expand. It is merely the fact that we have in this country at this time a strong volume of educational opinion, working through local administrations, which has saved us from the policy of the President of the Board of Education. Here we are, in 1927, in the position, that we have all these thousands of our children from the age of 14 to 16 and nobody knows, or hardly seems to care, what becomes of them. There is no Ministry responsible for them, for neither the Board of Education nor the Ministry of Labour at the moment is responsible for these hundreds of thousands of children. We do not know, as a matter of fact, how many of them are unemployed, but we know that tens of thousands of them enter into blind alley occupations and many of them into intermittent employment. We know for a positive fact that there is a huge, amount of human deterioration going on, and yet the President of the Board of Education in this situation stands idly by and says, "We are not going to do anything with these children and are glad to get rid of them and to let the Ministry of Labour take them over if they care. We are not concerned. All we have to do is just to carry on in a very free and easy manner as far as these children under 14 years of age are concerned. "

The President of the Board has a great chance of doing something for these tens of thousands of boys and girls. As a matter of fact, he has an even greater chance than that, for he has the chance of getting these children's education linked up in the variety of type with the economic needs of the country. I want to stress here, as I have done before, that we do not stand for a similarity of type. We do not stand for the Three R's. As a matter of fact, we stand for something which the President of the Board knows is most difficult to carry into effect, because it is most costly. Members on all sides have spoken of practical education and variety of type in practical education. I am strongly in favour of that practical education, but it is no use blaming the schools for any lack of it. The real reason for the lack of it is to be found in the fact that practical education, with its technical and crafts equipment, is much more costly than theoretical, literary education. I should like to know from the President if he is prepared to foot the bill and to say that the teachers shall have a chance both in our industrial and rural areas.

My final point is that I see signs that the Board of Education are looking for cheap rural teachers. They have appointed a Committee to consider this matter. All I have got to say is that it is a profound mistake to look for cheap rural teachers. As a matter of fact, the rural areas demand teachers who are as well qualified as those in the industrial areas. It would be a tremendous mistake merely to recruit the teaching profession for the rural areas from those who have lived in the rural areas. There must be a free flow of teachers from the industrial to the rural areas and from the rural to the industrial areas. I hope the Debate will be mainly concentrated on the raising of the school age, and therefore. I do not want to touch on any other points. I appeal to the President, if it is any use appealing to him, to reconsider this matter in the light of the fact that no one is responsible for these children now, and that the Board of Education ought to be responsible. Let him reconsider the matter also in the light of the fact that every possible Committee which has considered the matter has decided that the raising of the school age is a good thing—good educationally, socially, and in an economic sense also—and that for the whole social well-being of the nation, it is imperative that the school age should be raised, and raised immediately or as soon as practicable. I am not concerned whether it be a question of four or five years, but let us have a statement from the President that he is definitely in favour of raising the school age, and let him give us some idea as to the time it ought to take to bring it into effect and then this Debate will have been worth while.

Captain A. EVANS

I should like, Captain FitzRoy, without falling under the ban of your ruling, and with your permission, to address to the Committee one or two remarks regarding the proposal to raise the school leaving age, and, if I may say so, frankly, and at once, the view expressed so forcibly and admirably by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Cove) is entirely contrary to the views which are held to-day by certain hon. Friends of mine who have put down an Amendment on the Order Paper. I would like to say at once, that we were considerably relieved when my Noble Friend, the President of the Board of Education, in reply to a question put to him by the hon. Member for North-West Camberwell (Mr. Campbell) last Wednesday, said in the House of Commons that the Government were not prepared, under existing circumstances, to impose on the country the additional financial burdens which would be entailed by a general raising of the school leaving age. If I may, with your permission, Captain FitzRoy, remind hon. Gentlemen on that side of the Committee of views which are held by hon. Members for whom it is my privilege to speak to-day, I should say that they were expressed in these words: That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient, having regard to the burden of both national and local taxation and the need for economy, to contemplate, irrespective of the merits of such proposal, the raising of the school leaving age at the present time. I venture to think that, although the contrary opinion has up to the present time, been expressed in this Debate, that is the view which is largely held by hon. Members who sit on this side of the Committee. Unfortunately, my Noble Friend, in reply to a supplementary question which was put to him by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), said, in effect, that he had suggested to local authorities that they should work out some survey of the cost of raising the school leaving age in their respective areas. Does this mean that he will sympathetically consider any scheme from any particular local education authority which will involve a charge, either on the National Exchequer or on local authorities, because we say in this Committee, and we say it most emphatically, but with respect, that any proposal of this kind only warrants sympathetic consideration at a time of national affluence and not at a time of national financial stringency. I venture to suggest, and I do so modestly, to the Committee this evening that the question that hon. Members have to consider, irrespective altogether of the merits of this proposal, is whether or not the country can afford to increase its expenditure on education the present time, and whether such a scheme would benefit the child concerned on the one hand and industry and commerce on the other. I think, for reasons which I shall endeavour to show later on, that it is not only an unwise and ill-considered scheme, but it is entirely contrary to all economy pledges which have been given on behalf of the present Government by their Ministers and by their supporters who sit on these benches.

I should like to invite the Committee to consider the total aggregate expenditure under the purview of the Board of Education in the years immediately preceding the War and in the financial year 1927–28. In the financial year 1912–13 the expenditure on education, national and local, which included, I may remind the hon. Members, the whole of Ireland, amounted in the aggregate to £22, 500, 000. To-day, as the Noble Lady has previously informed the Committee, the expenditure on education in England and Wales alone amounts in the aggregate to £76, 000, 000. That, in my judgment, is an immense sum of money. Approximately, £2, 500, 000 of the pre-War expenditure can be accounted for by the expenditure on Ireland. Ireland happily, very happily, does not cost us anything to-day. So we get this position. Whereas education in the aggregate cost us in 1912ndash;13 £20, 000, 000—


Does that include rates and taxes?

Captain EVANS

Yes. I hope I have made it clear to the hon. Gentleman; it is the whole of the expenditure which comes within the purview of my Noble Friend at the Board of Education. Today the cost of that same social service is £76, 000, 000, an increase of £56, 000, 000 over the pre-War figure. I may also remind the hon. Gentleman that the Estimates of the Board of Education have risen by over £1, 500, 000 of money over those of last year.

Duchess of ATHOLL

No. If my hon. and gallant Friend will look at the Board's Estimates, he will see that the sum is £14, 000.

Captain EVANS

If that be the case, I apologise most humbly to the Noble Lady, but I studied the figures yesterday, and I was under the impression that they were an increase of £1, 500, 000 on those of 1926. May I say, on behalf of my hon. Friends who placed their name to the Motion which stands on the Order Paper of the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who are they?"] The hon. Gentleman asks me who they are. If he studies the House of Commons Order Paper as carefully as I do, he will have no difficulty in deciphering the names. [Interruption. ] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that it is a Debate on the question as to whether I would like to leave school at 14 or whether my son would like to leave school at 14.


That is just what it is.

Captain EVANS

Exactly. May I say, in reply, that if I had been invited to leave school at the age of 14 nothing, personally, would have pleased me more. May I say also, as far as my son is con- cerned,that if it were possible I should like to have 20 sons and to see them all go to the public school and to the university, but I know that is neither practical nor probable, and I doubt whether it is even possible. Our duty here to-day is not to discuss our own personal problems. This is not the place for such a discussion. I put it to hon. Members opposite, that our duty to-day is to decide and to debate whether we are spending £76, 000, 000 of money to the best advantage of the whole of the population, and that is the argument to which I propose to confine myself to-day.

The Noble Lord told a deputation of teachers that he would give sympathetic consideration to this proposal, and I would remind the Committee, apart altogether from the financial cost of such a scheme, that the Noble Lord has every reason to be proud of the educational advancement for which he has been responsible since this Government took office in October, 1924. Those hon. Friends of mine who placed their names on the Order Paper share with him the just pride which he enjoys in that connection. [Interruption. ] May I remind hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not seem to regard this matter at all seriously, that considerable progress has been made under the administration of my Noble Friend in remedying the defects of old and insanitary schools, that to-day there are over 3, 500 more pupils attending the secondary schools than ever before in the history of this country, and that the number of free scholarships in the secondary schools is 5, 590 more than in January, 1925 Those hon. Gentlemen opposite who take a keen interest, as I know they do, in the question of the salaries of teachers, may find comfort in the fact that teachers' salaries and pensions have been placed upon a national basis, and that practically every authority has adopted the salaries scales allowed. Let me also remind hon. Gentlemen on all sides of the Committee that over £6, 000, 000 is being spent upon building new or upon enlarging existing schools. Much progress has been made in providing better instruction for elder children in central and senior schools and classes. After all, let us remember this, that the number of classes of more than 50 pupils has been steadily reduced since my Noble Friend took office in 1924. Although my Noble Friend has every reason to be proud of these achievements, in a time of financial stringency, when the country is faced with an overwhelming burden of taxation, he must remember that he has to cut his coat according to his cloth like everyone else.

I should like to come to the question of the public demand for the raising of the school age. From whence does this public demand come? Does it come from the parents of the children affected? I venture to suggest to the Noble Lord that it does not. It comes from a deputation of the teaching profession. After all, although all of us in this Committee have a great respect for the representatives of the teaching profession, surely it is reasonable to assume that it is in the interests of that profession that the school leaving age should be raised. It is only natural and human that the deputation from the teaching profession should advocate a policy of this kind.


Does the hon. and Gallant Member think that the teachers are doing this in order to get increased employment or increased salaries for themselves? Does he not recognise that it is for the good of the State and not for any particular classes in the State?

Captain EVANS

The point of view we hold on this matter is this, that, naturally, teachers who are in close association with their pupils must of necessity take a narrow view as regards education. Owing to their close proximity to this question, they are not in a position to regard it from a national point of view, having due regard to the larger considerations which weigh in this very vital matter.


The teachers are advocating this question entirely from an educational point of view.

Captain EVANS

That, if I may say so with respect, is a matter of opinion. I and my hon. Friends cast not the slightest aspersions on the good will or endeavours of the teachers in this connection, but we hold strongly that, of necessity, owing to their close proximity they must take a narrow view of the case. The Noble Lady, the Parliamentary Secretary, must not regard this deputation as being at all representative of the public demand in this matter, and I would ask her, in all seriousness, whether the President of the Board of Education has ever been asked to receive or has ever received a deputation from the parents of the children who would be affected by such a proposal. I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman replies he will be able to enlighten us on this point, because I think that not only has he never received a deputation from the parents but that he has never been asked to receive such a deputation.

I would like to say a few words regarding the excellent speech of the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). Apparently in her zeal for promoting the interests of big education in this country she appears to have overlooked the history of her country of origin, otherwise she would have realised that in the 50 Years subsequent to the formation of the United States of America very great men, including the famous John Marshall, received nothing more than elementary education. Those people were faced with extraordinary difficulties and they had recourse only to elementary education. In the great progress which that country has made, and which the English people welcome, in the affairs of the world, it must be remembered that they have sprung from a stock of people who received only an elementary education.


And the moral is?

Captain EVANS

I will endeavour to draw the moral, if the hon. Member will wait. Some hon. Members in all parts of the House hold that in these times of keen industrial competition in the world it is the duty of this country to make every endeavour possible to give our rising generation every educational advantage and facility of which we are capable. That is a very sound and very reasonable point of view, but in view of the heavy burden which commerce and industry is bearing at the present time, those hon. Members must be very careful not to cripple industry and commerce in the process. It is the last straw that breaks the camel's back, and if you increase expenditure over the figure which we have at the present time, we may well find that when the time comes for these recruits to take their place in the ranks of industry and commerce, that there will be no industry and commerce left. Let us endeavour, as the Noble Lady has told us, to preserve our sense of proportion in this, as in other matters. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) drew an amazing comparison between the cost of a bombardment at a battle in the salient of Ypres during the War and the possible extra cost of increasing the school-leaving age.

Duchess of ATHOLL

The comparison which the right hon. and learned Member drew was between the cost of that bombardment and the total amount of the Board's grants, and I endeavoured to point out that that was a rather fallacious comparison to draw because it ignored the different conditions.

Captain. EVANS

It is not for me, a junior Member, to endeavour to destroy the arguments of the right hon. and learned Member, when they have been dealt with so well by my Noble Friend. The right hon. and learned Member did not carry his argument to its logical conclusion. He said, in effect, that the reason why industry and commerce were in such a depressed state at the present time was largely because they were not in a position to call upon more educated recruits. I think the right hon. and learned Member will agree with me that the reason why industry and commerce are in such a depressed state is largely owing to the heavy burdens of taxation which they are called upon to bear [HON. MEMBERS: "No. "] Obviously, that is a matter of opinion, and that is the opinion which I put before hon. Members. I do not think my right hon. and learned Friend is serving any useful purpose in drawing an analogy between war expenditure which was absolutely vital if we were to preserve our freedom and ourselves individually and collectively as a nation with post-War departmental expenditure in which careful regard has to be had not only to expenditure but to revenue. One of the chief complaints which the country has against the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) is that in no circumstances whatsoever did he pay regard to revenue as well as expenditure. [An HON. MEMBER: "You were one of them. "] That was one of the reasons upon which we parted company.

In regard to the proposal for the school leaving age, a child who has shown the necessary ability and proved that he is capable of absorbing a higher degree of education will qualify under the present system for higher education in any case. Unfortunately, the majority of children are not adaptable or capable of being educated beyond a certain point. Some 40 per cent. of the children who leave school at the age of 14 attend night schools. It is purely voluntary, and any child sincerely anxious to improve its educational status can take advantage of the night school system. Let us spend our money on those outstanding children who are not only capable but capable of absorbing the highest degree of education. It is no use this Government or any other Government ladling out education as if it were soup. Soup does not agree with all of us. Therefore, do not overtax the mental digestion of the children and at the same time overtax those people who have to foot the bill. Those hon. Members who are associated with me in the views which it has been my privilege to express this afternoon lay this down as a fundamental policy—give your elementary education to the masses up to a certain point and spend the remainder of the money which you are able to afford to spend on the selected few, of all classes, who are capable and show signs of absorbing the higher education. I hope that when the noble Lord replies he will tell the House that in no circumstances whatsoever, irrespective of the merits of any such proposal, will he recommend his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the burden of the money which is paid in respect of education at the present time.


I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.

The appearance of a new star in the firmament is always an interesting phenomenon, and I understand that the speech to which we have just listened partakes of that character. I gather that the hon. Member represents one of the many new parties which have arisen in the ranks of the Conservative party in recent times, and he has been put forward this afternoon as the spokesman of the 12 apostles. If that is the best that the 12 apostles can put forward, I do not think the Conservative Govern- ment need worry much about them. The main part of his speech was based upon false premises. He compared the amount of money which is expended on education to-day with the amount of money which was expended before the War. The two things are not comparable in the figures which he gave. He omitted to tell us that some £41, 000, 000 of the apparent excess of expenditure is due to teachers' salaries, and that other parts of the expenditure are due to pensions and many other matters. When we come to the basis of the value of the money to-day compared with what it was before the War, we are not spending very much more upon education than we were in those days. Not only was his first premise false, but the logical conclusion of his speech was false, for if his speech meant anything it meant that, so far from increasing the school age, you must reduce it, and you must also reduce the efficiency of our schools and the amount of education which is going to be imparted in our schools to those selected children who are to be allowed by the 12 apostles to attend our schools.

Captain A. EVANS

The hon. Member will not desire to do me an injustice. If the point which I made was not clear to the hon. Member, I will repeat it. I said that the higher education should apply to those children over the age of 14 years who have shown sufficient aptitude to absorb that education after that age.


What is the good of talking like that, when we are faced with the fact that there are not enough places now in our secondary schools for the number of children who are qualified to attend them? In view of a fact like that, to talk about selecting those who are fit, in the hon. Member's opinion, to attend such schools, is a ludicrous misstatement of one of the fundamental facts connected with our education system at the present time. When the discussion was initiated to-day, I do not think it was the intention of anyone on these Benches to move a reduction of the Vote, but I propose to do so because, quite honestly, I am very much afraid that the speech to which we have just listened is typical of the controlling interests and the controlling voice of the Conservative party at the present time. It was to be contrasted very much with the speech delivered by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), in which she took a wide, wise outlook of our educational standard.

It is true that she said that it was very disagreeable for her to speak against her own party. If she had been here now, I should like to have comforted her with the reflection to which one who was a very distinguished Member of this House, Mr. Birrell, once gave expression, when he said: "In these disagreeable days, we have all to be disagreeable," and he said: "It is not so easy to be disagreeable as some people imagine. It is an art which requires cultivation." It is true that he slyly added that it is a lot easier for some people than for others. I think the Noble Lady would probably count herself among the others, but although she may have found it difficult to give expression to those views, I think she was expressing views which are held by an increasing number of parents and of the public generally in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans) turned to the Noble Duchess in his best style, worthy of Serjeant Buzfuz at the height of his great cross-examining powers, and said. "Can the Noble Lady tell me if the Noble Lord has ever been asked to receive a deputation from parents?" I do not know, but I will give the hon. and gallant Member this assurance, that if the Noble Lord cares to state at any time that he is prepared to receive or would welcome a deputation from parents, I could introduce him such deputations by the score, asking for this very thing.

The hon. and gallant Member says there is no public demand for raising the school leaving age. I wonder where he lives. I wish he could have the happy experiences which, I am glad to say, fall to my lot very frequently, of going about the country and seeing schools on different occasions, and, as an illustration, on the occasion, say, of a prize distribution at an elementary school, or a central school, or a secondary school, particularly in South Wales. If he would only go outside his own constituency and travel a few miles, he could see this scene for himself. He would find, very likely, the largest hall in the town taken for this purpose: the children are there. looking happy and enjoying themselves, and the parents also are there, and people who are not parents are there in their hundreds, in order to demonstrate their interest in the school and their demand for further educational facilities. And if he were to take the trouble of dipping even lightly into the history of our country, he would find that one of the great characteristic features of that country has been the demand which has been put forward by the common people, who could not afford to give their children the educational facilities the need of which they themselves had felt, and the sacrifices which they had made for that purpose. That spirit of sacrifice is still apparent to-day in Wales, and not only there, but in Scotland and in parts of England also.

So far from there being no public demand for an increase in the school leaving age, I venture to say that if he would care to make inquiries from any source from which he could expect to obtain reliable information, he would find that one of the things on which parents are most keen is that their children shall have an opportunity of continuing in school until a later age than is now possible for them. Then we are told that the Government cannot introduce legislation. If I may say so with great respect, I thought the Noble Duchess was going to lead us, if not into the Promised Land, at least into a land of promise. She was talking with such apparent sympathy of the ideal of raising the school leaving age that I really was beginning to think that at last we could see light. Unfortunately, my hon. Friend asked a question, and that question ruined the whole structure upon which my hope was being based.

I want to say, quite frankly, that I do not complain that the President of the Board of Education has not said that he would introduce legislation this year, or even next year, for the purpose of compulsorily raising the school-leaving age. I think that is quite a fair attitude to take, and I agree also that for practical considerations it could not be done. That is not the gravamen of our complaint against the President and against the Board of Education. The Hadow Committee had on it members who, if I may say so with respect, were quite as cognisant of the needs of education and of the practical difficulties as the President or any other member of the Board of Education, and it was because they knew the practical difficulties that they suggested, not that the age should be raised compulsorily now, but that notice should be given that it would be raised some years hence; and our complaint is that, after all the pretty speeches which the President makes up and down the country, when it comes down to the practical question," Are you going to put those speeches into operation? "we are faced with the statement by the Noble Lady that she really could not make an answer on behalf of the Government on that particular point.

Apart from legislation, there is another way of doing it. It can be done now, and I venture to say to the Noble Lady that if the attitude of the Board of Education were a little different from what it is, we should probably find that the number of local authorities which would apply for permission to have bylaws to raise the school-leaving age immediately would not be two, hut a very considerably larger number. I want to say further, on this question of the school-leaving age, that I welcome very much the assurance which the Noble Lord gave, in reply to a question the other day, that he would encourage local education authorities to prepare schemes in order to show what their ideas are. He said: I have suggested to the local authorities that in view of the Consultative Committee's Report, they should work out some survey of the cost, and local authorities are surveying their probable needs in that direction. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1927; col. 554, Vol. 209.] I am very glad of it. I think it will be of immense value for us to know what response is obtained from the local authorities, and I hope the Noble Lord will take steps to see that the survey which will be obtained from that source of information will be made available, in order that we may all have an opportunity of seeing what the local authorities are thinking on this particular matter.

I do not think we, in this House, do ourselves justice when the subject of education comes up for discussion. We do not often get opportunities, and when we do get them we are so apt to concentrate upon details that perhaps we forget the larger and wider outlook which I believe we all ought to take; and I welcome a Debate like this, not merely because we are able to draw attention to particular details of administration to which we object or upon which we wish to comment, but also because I think discussions of this sort are valuable in creating a true perspective of the field of educational activity in the life of the nation. A great Welshman, a great philosopher, and a great educationist, the late Sir Henry Jones, once made a statement to this effect. He said: When we speak of education, our horizon is limited, and we think of a mere fragment of life. Our imagination as a rule does not travel beyond the primary and secondary school, or at most, and in the case of a very small minority, the university. Education is, in fact, supposed to be a preliminary and introductory matter. When 'real life' begins, education, whether it has been good or bad, is normally assumed to have come to an end. I am very much afraid that there is a good deal of truth in that statement, and it is a point of view which, despite the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff, we ought to fight against for all we are worth. It is for that reason that I take such a great interest in all that is being done in connection with adult education throughout the country, and, if I may say so in passing, we in Wales rather pride ourselves on what we are doing in this direction. I find from the recent Report of the Board of Education that there are in Wales 166 classes of different kinds, and I may be pardoned for saying that in 44 of those classes the Welsh language is either exclusively or normally the medium of instruction. Further, I think it is true to say that the number of classes of this character conducted under the auspices of the University of Wales is larger than the number conducted under the auspices of any other University in the United Kingdom, and what is even more important than the numbers is the fact that the subjects which are being discussed are increasing in their range. These things are having their effect on the life of the nation, and what is being done in regard to adult educa- tion I want to see done also in regard to the children of all our schools, and even those who at present are not able to get to secondary schools.

I will do the Noble Lord the justice of saying that I do not think he needs to be guarded against the spirit of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff. It is a spirit which would be fatal not only to the education system of this country, but to the whole social life of the people. He talked about our not being able to afford this and that. It is not so many years ago since the same objections were used, and the type of mind which talks like that to-day talked in other language. The language which it then used was that the height of political sagacity was to keep the masses ignorant. There is not much difference between that and the type of mind which to-day says that we cannot afford the money which we are spending on education. The fact of the matter is that, if we are not getting value for our money in education, the reason is not because we area spending too much, money upon it, but that we are not building our education system in such a way that there is given to the children of this country a greater opportunity of obtaining knowledge and building up character. That is what we need, and, as I say, it is because I believe that discussions of this character are helpful, not only in drawing attention to details, but also in creating in this House an atmosphere which will help the Board of Education to enhance the prestige and increase the efficiency of our education system, that I am very glad that to-day has been devoted to this purpose.

8. 0 p. m.


It was very pleasant to listen to the speech of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans), even if one cannot follow him quite through the whole of his arguments. It was a speech that was informed by a rare zeal for education. There was a remark made by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Cove) to which I should like to refer at once, because otherwise it might lead to misconceptions, and that was that the Government at present were engaged in trying to get cheap teachers in the country. I happen to be in a position to say that that is quite a misapprehension. The Committee which is now sitting under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for the Stone Division (Mr. Lamb) has set before it as one of its objects the maintaining and, if possible, the raising of the standard of the rural teacher. I think that we owe a great deal to our friends on the Liberal benches for having given us this opportunity of discussing a question which is becoming more widely interesting every hour. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green South West (Mr. Harris) raised a great many interesting points. He spoke as one who takes a practical interest in education. He spoke of the value of training in handicraft and of the value of such education in after life, and that reminds me of an incident that took place during the War. I was starting one day to go from Paddington to Windsor when a fine man in the uniform of a Canadian gunner got into the carriage and sat opposite me. I said to myself, "That is a very fine specimen of a man," and then I went on reading my paper. Presently he bent over to me and said, "You don't remember me?" I said, "I am afraid I don't." "Well," he said, "I was in your house at Eton," and then he told me his story. He had lost his money and had gone to settle in Vancouver Island. There he obtained a small piece of land and built himself a house, and he said to me—and this is the point I am trying to make—"I never realised the meaning of that proposition in geometry, that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides, until I got a set-square in my hand. "That is an illustration of the value of education in handicraft.

We have heard a great deal about two remarkable Reports—the Malcolm Report, and the Hadow Report of the Consultative Committee. The Malcolm Report recommended, but with some hesitation, that, as a partial remedy for unemployment of boys of 14 and 15, the school-leaving age should be raised, but they expressed doubts, and they added that this change should not be made for industrial reasons, but on educational and social grounds. The Hadow Report recommended legislation to make the school-leaving age at 15 compulsory after five years. Reference has been made to the fact that that recommendation was not unanimous, that there were three dissentients. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wellingborough pointed out that those three dissentients had agreed in principle to the raising of the school age, but at the beginning of their Minority Report, they say: In our view, the weight of evidence on this point"— that is, the raising of the school age— is summed up accurately in the first sentence of Section 62 of chapter VIII. That sentence is: The desirability of prolonging education must depend largely on the character of the education that is offered. That is the kernel of the whole matter. It is no good prolonging school life unless you give the children the right kind of education. What are the facts? All educationists are agreed that it would be well to prolong the school life to 16 if you get the right people to teach and if you get the right kind of education given, providing, of course, that it is possible to take this step. At the present time it is well known that, in a great many instances, we cannot make the best use of the last years of school life in a great many schools, especially in the country. It is not the fault of the teachers. It is due to a great many circumstances. It is due to the size of classes and to the imperfect grading of classes. It is due to several causes over which the teachers have no control. It is no good building on an insecure foundation; you must be quite sure that you are making the best of the time already given before you add to the time that the pupils have to remain at school.

There is another important factor in the matter and it is this. Why do we value in secondary education so much the last years of education in school life? It is because in those years you can more effectively train character. Those, who care for education are anxious to see that training of character carried on. We must be quite sure that we have got the teachers to do that. There is also another point and a most important one. We must he quite sure that we are not training a discontented generation. What is the fact? The great majority of the human race must get its livelihood by manual labour, and it would not do to train up our children to be discontented with manual labour. What we have to do is to try and train them up to realise the dignity of manual labour. The problem is not one confined to this country alone; it is a universal problem. The other day I listened to a very interesting and informative address by the Governor of Nigeria, Sir Graeme Thompson. He mentioned the subject of education in the Colonies, and one was almost amused to hear him say that one of their chief difficulties is that the boys and girls in the schools in Nigeria want to become clerks. They want to give up their old life on the land, and become clerks! How are they meeting that difficulty in Nigeria? They are meeting it by establishing agricultural courses for teachers, as we are doing in this country. It is a problem that we have got to face. It is a problem that the Board of Education is trying to face. We have some excellent junior technical schools in the country, but unfortunately their output is limited to a few thousands a year. But the output, such as it is, gets employment almost at once of a good kind. That is encouraging.

The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), with his consummate skill pointed out three matters which were the three chief points of the Hadow Report. The first of these was the grading of the schools. Obviously, he did not realise what is being done already in that matter. In the country we have a growing and increasingly successful system of central or senior schools. In London these schools are very successful. The boys and girls that leave the central schools in London very readily get employment, but in rural districts the problem is much more difficult. You have got these rural schools which, with local interests, are entities in themselves. You have established a senior school or central school in some of the districts, and that means that the children above 11 are drafted into the central schools. These rural schools are the chief difficulty at the present time in many districts. They say, "You are decapitating us. You are depriving us of our greatest interests; our leading and best children. "That has to be taken into account. At the same time, when the children of 11 and upwards are taken into the central schools, the teaching they get is very much better graded and is more efficient. These are some of the efforts that are being made at the present time to meet the difficulty, but the difficulty is there. We have got to order our education so that, while it develops the mind and character to the fullest extent—and I am all for the fullest opportunity for every boy and girl in the country to get the fullest development of mind and body and character—at the same time we must be careful to try and imbue them with a sense of responsibility, and of the dignity of labour.

One of the great difficulties is the monotony of so much of the manual labour at the present time. One hopes to see a great development of the cooperative principle in industry, of the principle of co-partnership, of the obtaining by the worker of an increasing share in industry, so that that sense of responsibility and ownership may be developed, and that industry may, to a large extent, in the factory lose its monotonous character. One knows that the teachers of the country as a class, as a profession, are honestly trying to do their duty. I would say here: "For Heaven's sake, keep politics out of the schools. "It is a crime against the young mind for any teacher to try and warp it by forcing on it the teacher's own political proclivities. Put before the children the facts, and give them the possibility of judging for themselves, but do not try to force them into any particular groove. I mention that because there is a political society at Eton, and that society consists of a great many of the leading boys in the school. They run it themselves, and they invite various political personages to address them. One of those whom they have invited was the hon. Gentleman whom I see sitting opposite, the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). They also invited the hon. Member for the Mossley Division (Mr. A. Hopkinson), and they liked his original ideas so much that they invited him a second time.

That is the kind of thing one wants to see—freedom in education. It must be free. One knows that a very great deal of harm has been done by the wrong teaching of history, especially in America, where it—[Interruption. ] That is so. Those hon. Members who have read what Mr. Owen Wister, a good American, says on the subject and have read his book where he analyses school history in America, know that that is so. That is being changed. I am glad to think that in the schools of this country history is being taught in a much more impartial way, and I am glad to think that a gentleman of whom I was a former colleague has written historical books that are used throughout the Dominions and in the schools of this country, written in a most impartial way. After all, the school depends upon the teaching, and the teaching depends upon the teacher. I think it is true to say that in most of the teachers of the country you find a touch of the spirit that we find in the lines: Beyond the book his teaching sped; He left on whom he taught the trace Of kinship with the deathless dead And faith in all the Island race.


The hon. Member made an interesting speech, but I have been wondering, while he was criticising some of those who spoke from these benches, why he did not refer to the remarkable speech of one of his colleagues on the benches opposite, the hon. and gallant Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans). I am sorry that the Noble Lord the President of the Board of Education was not present when that speech was delivered. I hope he will make a point of reading the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow morning, because it is obvious that very soon it will be necessary for the party opposite to declare where they stand in this matter, and whether the views of the hon. Member for South Cardiff are the views of the party. I am sorry the hon. Member has left the House, because I would have made a reply in somewhat plainer language, but I do not want to take advantage of the hon. Member who is not in the House at the moment.

I have risen, at the risk of boring the Noble Lord to raise a question which has not been mentioned so far in the Debate, and I suppose would not be mentioned at all unless I mention it now, the position of special schools—the schools for mentally defective children. I have raised this question on almost every education debate, and I am not doing it now merely for the sake of making a speech, because anyone who takes an interest in the development of special schools must be alarmed at what has happened recently. When the history of the Noble Lord as President of the Board of Education comes to be written, there will be no blacker chapter in that history than the chapter which deals with his treatment of the abnormal child. Three years ago the Noble Lord in this House proclaimed stoutly that he stood for a policy of continuity in education. So far as abnormal children are concerned, he has broken entirely with previous policy. In Circular 1341, issued in 1924, it was pointed out that the problem was too urgent to be left until it was solved in its entirety. The Noble Lord now is pursuing the policy of doing nothing himself and preventing anybody else from doing anything. Then, Circular 1388 tells us that: It does not seem prudent at the present moment to incur heavy expenditure on new schools for mentally defective children or enlargements of existing schools. My complaint is not that the Noble Lord is attacking special schools—we could forgive him for that—but that he has not the courage to do it in a straightforward way. He has adopted a shifty attitude. When questions have been put to him in the House as to how many authorities have been refused permission to construct special schools the Noble Lord looks across to this side of the House with pain and indignation at the suggestion that i-e has done anything to stop any local authorities from building special schools. He is surprised that anybody should sloop so low as to make such a suggestion, and he usually answers with dignity that no authorities have been required to abandon proposals. Strictly that is true, but it is not the whole truth. He has done his utmost to put every obstacle and impediment in the way of local authorities making any further provision for mentally defective children.


The hon. Member has not quoted my answer in full.


I believe his answer in full was to the effect that no authorities have been required to abandon proposals, and he gave the names of five authorities which had been asked to postpone proposals. The attitude of the Noble Lord has been not to veto proposals but that he has put every obstacle and discouragement and impediment in the way of local authorities. There are over 12, 000 children in elementary schools now who have been certified, after prolonged investigation and a careful medical examination, to be incapable of receiving proper benefit from elementary school instruction. I have a list here, I have no doubt the Noble Lord has the same list. In Cornwall there are 107 feebleminded children, and 34 imbeciles, attending the elementary schools. In Derbyshire there are 155 boys and 124 girls who are mentally defective attending elementary schools. In Kent there are 152, and in Lincolnshire 88.


Does the 12, 000 include physically as well as mentally defective children?


No, mentally defective only. I am not dealing with physically defective children. Not only are there 12, 000 mentally defective children attending elementary schools but there are also 4, 000 mentally defective children who are not attending any school at all, making 16, 000 in all. I would remind the Committee that every mentally defective child in an elementary school class is impeding the teacher and is a drag on the whole class. It only requires one mentally defective child to upset the whole work of a class, to keep the whole class back, and if one goes through the list of the different counties and boroughs where these feeble-minded and imbecile children attend school one can picture the damage they are doing to the normal child. It is not fair to the normal child, it is not fair to the teacher, and it does harm—this point is perhaps not recognised as it should be—to the mentally defective child. I do not know anything more harmful to a mentally defective child than to be brought into contact with a class of children much superior to himself in intellect. It leads to a loss of confidence, and to many of these children, boys in particular, confidence is a most important factor.

Let me give the Committee an actual case which came under my own notice and which illustrates the importance of confidence in such cases as these. A boy went to one of the London special schools for mentally defective boys. Two of his brothers had won scholarships at secondary schools, but he was the idiot of the family. He had no confidence at all in himself. He was ashamed at home because he felt that he was the fool of the family, and in the district where he lived he was looked upon as being stupid and a simpleton. After that boy had been a mnoth or two at a special school in London—it was no good trying to teach him to read and write—he was taught boot repairing, and one day he asked the teacher whether he should bring his father's boots to school in order to sole and heel them. He did so. He soled and heeled his father's boots, and when he went home with them it was at once recognised that he was a different boy. It made all the difference to him. It was evident the moment he marched into the house and put down his father's boots. He became somebody in that family; he felt that he was somebody, and everybody realised that, even if he had not won a scholarship there was something in him after all. It made all the difference to his self-respect and confidence. I have said already that there are 4, 000 mentally defective children not attending school at all; what is going to be the ultimate cost of these children to the State? The cost, even in the case of one individual, may amount to thousands and thousands of pounds. Such children later in life will be in and out of prison and in and out of workhouses, and a trouble all their lives, because they are neglected now. The Noble Lord must know that the special schools have been a success. His Chief Medical Officer, in his last Report, points out that 134 boys out of 211 trained in special schools, that is over 63 per cent. have proved themselves capable of engaging in regular work. often of a skilled character.


That is in London?


Yes, the quotation relates to London. I think I understand the significance of the Noble Lord's interjection. He holds the opinion that there is a marked difference between the special schools in London and those in the Provinces. At least he thinks that in London the special schools deal with a much higher grade of mental defective than those in the Provinces. But even on the Noble Lord's argument, even if you can never get the mentally defective child up to the level that he is enabled to earn his own living, you at any rate can teach the child so that it can keep itself out of mischief and not be as great an expense to the community as it would be if constantly in and out of prisons or workhouses. The alternative to training these children in the special schools is to leave them in the elementary schools or to let them run wild. This attack on special schools is penny wise and pound foolish. It is opposed by every teachers' organisation, by the Association of Education Committees, and by almost every recognised authority on the problem. Within the last few months all of these have expressed an opinion against the policy of the Board regarding special schools. Before the Noble Lord went to the Board of Education anyone who was in close touch with the education world would have told him that there was no more enthusiastic section of the teaching profession than the teachers in special schools. They are enthusiastic not only in their working hours, but in their spare time and holidays they tried to perfect themselves and experimented with new courses of study. They were largely pioneers in this work.

The Noble Lord's policy has taken the heart out of these teachers, and we find that the teachers who have spent much money and time in specialising for this particular work are now looking round to see how they can get out of it and into something else. Moreover, the Noble Lord's policy is discouraging new entrants into this branch of the profession. There is a Departmental Committee now sitting to deal with this subject. Would the Noble Lord say whether he proposes to publish the evidence? I ask, because the Noble Lord has changed his policy in this matter. He is certainly not following the policy of his predecessor at the Board. Surely the public, and Members of this House in particular, are entitled to know on what evidence he has decided to alter his policy. It seems to me that it would have been more decent to have delayed the inauguration of this destructive policy towards special schools until the public had seen the evidence in its favour. The policy is calculated to do irreparable damage. There have been many Presidents at the Board of Education, but not one so confident as the Noble Lord that he knows about every department of his work and what ought to be done. There is one gleam of satisfaction for us in this Debate, and that is that sooner or later this Government will be forced to face the country, and, when it does, I think that the black record of the Noble Lord in regard to these abnormal children will make the Government's downfall worse.


The hon. Member who has just spoken has raised the question of the special schools, and I want to say a few words about them. First of all I would assure him that it is a question in which I take a special interest. I myself moved a Clause in the Act of 1918 for the extension of schools for physically defective children. That Clause was not in the original Bill. I quite agree that the number of 12, 000 mentally defective children in ordinary schools sounds alarming, but there are two qualifications. First of all my mind goes back clearly to the discussion that took place in 1918. I have not refreshed my memory, for I did not know that this question would be raised, but my impression is that the number was infinitely greater then, and that steady progress has been made in placing these children in special schools. A second point is that I think the hon. Member will find that the large majority of these children are in the rural areas, though again I have not looked up the facts. The hon. Member will agree that it is infinitely harder to provide a special school in a rural area than in a town. He and I know very well the sort of schools that we have in our big towns and how admirable they are. You cannot get the same sort of school in a rural area, for, in the case of the physically defective certainly, you have to bring the children to school in some conveyance, and you do not find inside the ambit from which you can bring the children a sufficient number to provide the school population of one school. So the problem in the country is quite different from that in the towns.

I want to say a few words upon the question of the school age. I listened to the speech of my Noble Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, with the interest that I always pay to her speeches, and with admiration for her abilities and her Parliamentary qualities and skill; but it seemed to me that when she came to the point of the school age a burden fell upon her shoulders. I got the impression—I may be right or wrong—that if she had given us her whole mind she herself would be in favour of raising the school age to 15. However that may be, I believe that the whole Committee, and I am certain the President of the Board, would not dispute that at some time or other and at a time not far distant, the compulsory leaving age should be raised to 15. Practically all the discussion has centred round the question of cost, and it is a curious fact that although we have talked a great deal about cost, no one has told the Committee what is the cost, and I do not yet know what is the cost. The Hadow Report does not attempt to estimate the cost, but the Minority Report says it would involve the provision of school places for about 400, 000 extra children and the provision of some 20, 000 teachers. I hope when the Noble Lord comes to reply on the Debate he will give us some estimate of the cost.

Summing up, as far as I can, the arguments for and against raising the school age to 15, I find that the great argument against it is the cost, and I find the arguments in favour of it are, first, that if you educate a child up to 14 years of age and then cease educating that child, you lose a very large part of the benefit of the expenditure. That, to my mind, is a very strong argument, but an even stronger argument is this, that if people are left alone and have the means to provide education for their children, they will not take them from school at the age of 14. It may be that some of us were over-educated. I continued my education until I reached the age of 22, with the dreadful result which the Committee see, and though perhaps that may be rather too long to spend on the training of the mind, it is quite certain that up to the age of 14 is too short a time. Personally, I do not despond in my imagination or in my forecast of the future. I foresee the time when we shall train the mind up to a later age than 15, and get those very productive years, up to the age of 17, if not further, when education gets into the mind and when the mind of youth is trained to a far greater extent than in the earlier years. While I agree that is not prac- tical politics, I submit to the President of the Board of Education that the case is overwhelming for a consideration of raising the age to 15. It cannot be done without about five or six years of preparation, but I hope this Debate will not close without the President giving us some indication that this change is in contemplation.

I do not expect to be given a definite date on which it will he brought into operation, but I ask the Committee to consider the position of a great country such as ours, claiming to stand in the van of civilisation and yet stopping the compulsory education of its children at the age of 14. The two things do not go together, and we have to consider that our industrial democracy has now got the vote, and at the same time has not got all the educational advantages which the vote ought to carry with it. I do not over-estimate the effect of schooling. When I was at school I think a great deal of my education was got by a healthy reaction to what my teachers taught me, but I did get something. At any rate, I got a spirit of discipline, which, though it has faded, has not quite deserted me in after-life. Above all, when I reached the higher classes in my school and when I went to the university I got a training of the mind which I have found invaluable. We have to look at the question of education from a different angle nowadays. We cannot regard it as we did before the great extension of the franchise in 1918, and we ought to increase the educational facilities of those to whom we have given electoral power. Then I am not, unfortunately, as young as the President of the Board of Education, and I do not want to wait. I do not want to lose the whole of a child generation or two or three child generations. I want the children who are now coming along, between 13 and 14 years of age, to get these advantages, and I should like to hear a promise from the President of the Board of Education that this matter is being considered.

Lastly, it must not be forgotten that the Hadow Report hangs together. The interesting, the fascinating part of it which points out how education ought to change at the age of 11 and ought then to be rearranged, hangs together with the raising of the age at least by one year. If you make that change at the age of 11 and only keep the child until the age of 14 under the new education, I do not think you allow sufficient time for the child to get the full advantage of the new surroundings and instruction. Accordingly, although the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Board of Education were encouraging this change-over at the age of 11, the full benefit cannot be derived from it unless at the same time we extend the compulsory leaving age to 15. I speak, having in my mind the record of my party upon education questions, a record of which I am not at all ashamed, and I hope that something will be done and that some indication will be given that the President intends to take the preliminary steps necessary for the raising of the school-leaving age.


I have listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Ripon (Major Hills) who has emphasised, as he always does, the liberal view of education.


The Conservative view.


Well, if it be the Conservative view, in this case it happens to be also the Liberal view. I did not use the word "liberal" then in the strictly party sense. I was very glad to hear him supporting the raising of the school age to 15. The arguments he has put forward ought to weigh not only with the President of the Board of Education but with all local authorities throughout the length and breadth of the country. As he pointed out, we have extended the franchise to very nearly all the adult male population of the country, and I understand it is the intention of the Government to extend it to all the adult female population, so that virtually the whole adult population of this country will at any General Election determine the fate and the destiny of this Empire. When we hand over the destiny of the Empire to the electorate it becomes of first-class importance that they should be competent to decide the issues raised at a General Election.

Whether from the point of view of the present expenditure on education and the return obtained from that expenditure. or from the point of view of determining the destiny of the country, there are sufficient arguments for raising the school age from 14 to 15. That cannot be done without at the same time taking into consideration the reorganisation of the present elementary system of education. I do not think that raising the age to 15 while leaving the children in the present elementary schools from the age of 12 to 15 would be of any value to the child. We should require to reorganise the schools in such a way as to allow children to continue in the elementary school up to between 11 and 12 years of age and then to draft them to a different kind of school if they are to benefit from the additional year they are to remain at school. Not only must we do that, but the character of the education during that extended period must also be changed to some extent.

I do not attach all the importance that has sometimes been given to the distinction between what is called cultural education and technical education. I do not understand what that distinction may be. I think education is all one, whether it be the old-fashioned cultural education or education of the hand; the whole scope of education is one, and everything that a boy or girl is trained to do as well as to think is education, and in a central school ought to be linked. I imagine that in the strictly elementary school of the new type such as I envisage the really important thing will be that the child shall be taught chiefly to read and to write. After all, they are the two main things on which we base education in after life. If you have taught a boy and a girl how to read you have taught them the main elements of education. A boy who has been taught to read and to write can practically educate himself, and that, after all, is the important thing in education—to help a boy to educate himself in after life.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to his life at the University. I imagine that the great privilege of life at the University—and I speak partly from my own experience—is not that you have the opportunity of attending lectures by even the most distinguished professors but that you have the privilege of the companionship of other people who are engaged in a similar quest, the quest for knowledge. The tone of the place is far more important than the privilege of attending lectures. After all, one can as well acquire information from books outside a University as inside, but at the University you get an atmosphere, you are searching for truth in common with other people. The foundation has been laid, or ought to have been laid, in the secondary schools, indeed it should have been laid even in the elementary schools, so as to enable students whether inside or outside the University to pursue truth for its own sake.

I represent a rural Division and I have been interested to watch the effect of the personal contact in education, and to note the value of the educational centres in one district as compared with those in another, even in the same Division. When I go to some districts I find a very keen, alert intellectual interest. In other parts of the same Division there may not be the same keenness, or interest or the same desire for knowledge. When I ask why this difference is so marked I invariably get this answer. "At such a time"—it may be 10, 20 or sometimes even more years ago—"there was a very celebrated schoolmaster in this neighbourhood who left the impress of his personality on the whole of the neighbourhood and it has remained. "That is a curious fact; and such a thing exists in schools no less than in neighbourhoods. Very often it accounts for the difference between school and school.

Reference has been made to the importance of giving notice of the raising of the school age in order that teachers may be trained. It is important that the teachers themselves should be given a proper training, should be given a training suitable not only to the development of their own personality but given a training that is suitable to impress the school with the ideas and the ideals which they themselves represent. From that point of view I would like to see the day coming when not only should we raise the school leaving age but when the present system of training elementary teachers in training colleges should be abolished. I see no reason why training colleges should be maintained, or why those destined to pursue the profession of elementary school teachers should be trained apart from those destined to pursue other professions. I shall be glad when training colleges are closed down and the students transferred to university colleges where they can mix with those going into other professions, so that their sphere may be enlarged, as it should be and as it would be if they were so transferred. That is of primary importance, particularly with regard to elementary schools.

I am very glad to see that, by comparison with the period before the War, the proportion of certificated teachers to uncertificated teachers in elementary schools is totally reversed. In the pre-War period there were more uncertificated teachers and supplementary teachers than certificated teachers. The proportion of uncertificated and supplementary teachers to certificated teachers is still too high, but a movement in the right direction has begun. There is another problem still alive in the elementary schools, although I am glad to see a change in this case also. In 1911 there were some 6, 000 classes of over 60 pupils each. I am glad to say that that figure is down to 639, although to have even 639 classes is a disgraceful position. It is impossible for any teacher to give efficient instruction to such classes. There are a large number of classes also with more than 50 pupils. While the change to which I have referred is all to the good, it ought to be rapidly accelerated, so that even within a year all classes of over 60 ought to be abolished and, indeed, those over 50, and an opportunity be given to the teachers to do justice to themselves, particularly in the elementary schools, where a large number of the children have no opportunity for education in after life. After all, primary education is the most important form of education in the country. The other forms of education can more or less look after themselves provided there has been a good primary system to lay the foundation for them.


Before I turn to the subject which has been discussed so much to-day, there are one or two questions which I wish to put the President of the Board of Education on other subjects. There is another Report of the Departmental Committee which has recently been made public on public libraries, and I am anxious to know what action the President is going to take upon it. I do not think there is any need for alarm on his part, because there is only a very small requirement of public money if he carries out the full recommendations of the Report. The right hon. Gentleman may not like one of the earlier recommendations. The Report calls attention to the fact that there are a few benighted localities that have failed to put into operation the Libraries Act, and one of them is the Borough of Hastings. I can assure the President that if he adopts the recommendation to constitute the Borough of Hastings a library authority by Act of Parliament the Opposition will not oppose the borough Member if he brings in a Bill on this subject.

With regard to the larger recommendations of the Committee, the two things which they recommend that would require action on the part of the Government and some expenditure of money are, first of all, the greater use of the present science library for which they consider £3, 500 a year will be needed. They are also very anxious that the central library for students should be made more easy of access. I should like to read one of the recommendations which the Committee make with regard to that question. They say: We recommend that an interim grant of £5, 000 a year should be made by the Government in order to establish the existing central library for students on a sound basis as a national institution and to provide for the extension of its work which is immediately necessary, and that a Committee should be set up without delay to work out the details of its transfer to the control of the trustees of the British Museum. That is a matter of great importance for the spread of students' literature throughout the country, and it cannot be effected except by proper organisation of some central library of this kind. I merely point out that the Committee which make this and many other minor recommendations say that £12, 000 a year during the next few years would be all the expenditure that their proposals would entail. I hope that even with the Government anxiety for economy, they will not think that is too much to spend on organising effectually the public libraries of the country.

9. 0 p. m.

Another matter about which I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to express his views is the difficulty which exists at present between the local education authority of Carmarthen and its teachers. I understand that this authority has refused to pay part of its teachers on the full Burnham scale. I do not want to go into the merits of the case, but here we have this situation that, fortunately for the teaching profession and for the schools of the whole country, practically all the education authorities of the country have accepted the Burnham scale. I think it would nevertheless be a very serious matter if one authority were to repudiate that scale and refuse to put it into operation. There would be a resentment of the teachers, and as the Committee knows, the teachers are organising for a possible emergency in this case. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to hold out some kind of hope that there will be a solution which will prevent a definite dispute occurring in Carmarthenshire, and I can assure him that any steps he takes to bring the matter to a proper conclusion will have support from this side of the Committee.

The Debate which has taken place to-day has turned almost entirely upon one subject, and I think it will have done some good, in clearing the air by showing the division of forces which there is going to be in this matter. We have been discussing the raising of the school age to 15. A new situation has been created by the Hadow Report issued at the commencement of this year. The Noble Lady the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor) chaffed me because when I was in office, and seeing the difficulties of raising the school age in the then condition of public opinion, I contented myself during my short nine months of office with trying to induce local authorities to use their existing powers of raising the school age separately and locally. I hoped at that time that we should be able to make considerable progress by that means, but I was disappointed because the local authorities failed, the reason being that they could not act separately. It is quite true that one or two of them, with the full encouragement of my successor, have adopted 15 as the school age, but obviously we are not going to make any substantial progress by that method. You have this authoritative Report which, in spite of what the Parliamentary Secretary has said, shows that in prin- ciple, even if not in practice, the three who have stood out from the Report stand out on the practical question of its immediate feasibility.

This very important Report declares in favour of raising the school age, and moreover it is perfectly obvious from the Debate we have had to-day what a large amount of opinion there is amongst all parties in favour of raising the school age. When you have in the Conservative party several hon. Members getting up and speaking in favour of it with the enthusiasm that they have shown, it shows that down below the surface at any rate there is a great deal more feeling than is absolutely exposed in words in this House. We know very well that party loyalty keeps people silent who would prefer to speak, and it is not often that we get such plain speaking Members as the Noble Lady the Member for Sutton. The fact is that there is a universal, or very nearly universal, desire for this change, and there is no formidable opposition except from one group—I do not mean a Parliamentary group, but one group of thought. It is simply economy, and nothing else. There is a Resolution on the Order Book of the House of Commons to the effect that, because of the need of economy, it is inexpedient to contemplate the raising of the school age, irrespective of its merits. Even those who, on grounds of economy, are against it, show by their very Resolution that they are themselves in favour of it on its merits.

The fact is that there is no serious question at issue except the question of economy. The right hon. Gentleman is to-day in a different position from that in which he was at the beginning of this year. At the beginning of this year he turned down the proposal of the Hadow Committee on the ground that it would create difficulties with the schemes which the local authorities were then drawing up—the three-year schemes that were on ahead. He is now, if he wants it, being helped out of his difficulty, because since then the Association of Education Authorities has met, and has dealt with that difficulty. It has passed a very nearly unanimous resolution, I understand, which, in effect, says to the right hon. Gentleman, "You say there will be great difficulty in getting ready in three years; you say you do not want to disturb the present programmes. Very well; we say, take six years, and, at the end of six years, do it, and we will give you the backing of practically all the local authorities. "If that is not a good offer I do not know what is. It seems to me that it eases the way for the right hon. Gentleman; and so much does it ease his way that, when he gave his answer—I do not know whether it is going to be the final answer—in the House of Commons last Thursday, he based his objection solely on the ground of economy; he is falling back on that.

I want to ask him this quite seriously. Allowing that the Government are in difficulties now, allowing that the nation requires economy, and accepting their estimate of the present situation of the finances of the country, do not they expect the finances of the country to be better six Years hence It is a dreadful confession if they feel that the finances of the country under, presumably, a continuance of their Government, are going to be still so severely handicapped six years hence that they cannot entertain a proposal of this sort. There are difficulties, of course, in this change, but they are not insuperable. There are, I think, only three. There is first of all, the necessity, which keeping more children at school would entail, of having more school places, more teachers—more preparation, in fact, for the change. That is met by time. Give the local authorities six years, and tell them that at the end of six years they will be expected to take the children. Give them that time to build more schools and prepare more teachers, and you eliminate that difficulty. That is an administrative difficulty—undoubtedly a considerable one, but one which can be eliminated, as I say, by time. Indeed, I am not sure that the House would not be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would say, "Six years is not enough; I want seven, I want eight. "Give us some limit. Obviously, time meets that difficulty.

The next difficulty is one that has hardly been alluded to to-day, but one which, to my mind, is the greatest difficulty of all, and that is that, if you are going to ask the parents of 500, 000 children to keep their children at school a year longer, there are many of them who are so poor that they really cannot do it. The House has got to face the fact, to face what it means. If you are going to deal with that, you will, very probably, have to give maintenance to the parents who are keeping their children at school. But if you do that, is that a worse thing than giving maintenance to the parents who are kept out of work because of these children coming into the markets? You are giving maintenance to someone, because there are too many people in the labour market; and it is better to give maintenance to the children, for the great advantages that they gain by education, than to give maintenance to the parents to live on charity. That is the second difficulty. The third is simply that of cost, and there is the rub. At present, so far as I can see, the right hon. Gentleman is not ready, or his Government are not ready, to face the cost. It is a very simple issue. We think it is worth it. Many on the other side—I do not know how many—think it is worth it. I wish the Government would take their courage in both hands. Let them hope that someone else will have to pay the bill. Let them put it on six years hence, and then let someone else find the money. If only they show courage they can do it. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wants to do it; I am sure his colleague wants to do it; why do they not put pressure on their other colleagues? Why do they not insist on doing a thing on which they would have the country behind them if they would only stand up and do it?


I hope the Committee will excuse my rising rather early, but so many questions have been put to me, and on such large subjects, that I think the Committee will wish me to have a considerable time in which to answer them. The difficulty for one who is replying to a Debate like this is that, while certainly the Debate has justified itself, while it has given an opportunity for the raising of many most interesting and most important questions, it has also, like all of these Debates, given some opportunity to the politicians and the bureaucrats to express their views, and it is almost too much to ask the Minister not to make a passing reference to those two classes of speeches. May I, perhaps, if he will not be offended by my referring to him under the heading of a politician, just say a word to the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) on part of his speech? He produced some very wild statistics, and, among other things, I noticed that he said we had invented standards which would reduce the cost of a secondary school pupil from, roughly, £26 18s. to £25. He omitted to observe, however, that the £26 18s. was gross expenditure, and the £25 was net expenditure, and I think he had better revise those figures before charging the present Government with forcing down the cost of a secondary school pupil's education. But what I want particularly to allude to is the fact that the hon. Member for Caerphilly said that standardisation of the costs of education was impossible. That is what. I understood him to say.


I was speaking of standardisation of educational opportunity.


No, the hon. Member was talking about Circular 1388, and he said this idea of establishing standards of cost was impossible. I would ask him to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill last year and his speech on the Third Reading of the Finance Bill this year, when he urged the Government to establish units of cost for local authorities' services. He asked last year, in introducing his remarks, "What is our proposal?" and when they see it attempted to be carried out by the present Government they take every opportunity of making party capital out of it.

The hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) said the present. Government were going back and were not following the policy of continuity in the matter of defective children, that they had gone back on the policy of the previous Government, who had spent large sums of money on defective children. Will the hon. Member look at the actual figures, most of which have been published, of the capital expenditure approved by the Board of Education on medical services, including clinics, special schools, and so on. My predecessor, in 1924–25, approved £139, 000 worth of capital expenditure, next year, 1925–26. I approved £218, 000 worth, last year £190, 000 worth, and in the first quarter of this financial year £97, 000 worth. The last two years have shown a greater development in orthopædic schemes than there has ever been before, and the accusation that we have cut down the provision for defective children is really too absurd. I call the hon. Member a bureaucrat, because, if he would only go outside London, he would see that his views about mentally defective children are really the views of red-tape bureaucracy. The idea that you can take these 12, 000 to 16, 000 children throughout the country, representing all grades and types of mental deficiency, from the dull and backward child right down to the nearly in-educable idiot—the idea that you can take them or their parents by the scruff of the neck and say, "That child must go into a thing that we call a special school, where all these grades of children will be herded together"—that is what you would have to do in order to put all these 16, 000 children into special schools. Do let us look at the realities of the case. Do let us consider what is the actual view of the medical profession about the degree of accuracy and authority which certification as mentally defective under the Education Act implies and carries with it. Let us consider, as I am considering with the Committee that my predecessor appointed, what is the proper view of the education of the mentally defective child. It is a very serious educational and medical problem, and I really ask hon. Members opposite not to think it can be solved by herding these poor children together under compulsion in a particular type of institution. That is the worst and most retrograde kind of view. [An HON. MEMRER: "You would allow the problem to drift!"] I am considering it with the Committee, and I hope they will he able to give at least a preliminary report about the end of this year.

May I now give the right hon. Gentleman opposite the information I promised earlier. It is a little difficult to bring statistics at any given moment into relation with each other, because the situation is always changing, but at the beginning of December last there were 208 council schools on black list A, and I think for practical purposes the right hon. Gentleman may take it that the figure given by the Parliamentary Secretary of 68 council schools, plans for which have been approved in the last 15 months, are the first instalment of dealing with these category A blacklisted schools. One hundred and seventy seven of those 208 are included in the three-year programmes of local authorities, so I think we may be fairly certain that practically the whole number will be dealt with by the end of the three- year period. In regard to libraries, the Report of the Committee on Public Libraries did not recommend any very drastic action on the part of the central Government. Its recommendations, so far as they affect the central Government, fall into three categories. The first is proposals for the consolidation and amendment of the Public Libraries Acts. The Government agree that those Acts should be consolidated and simplified in certain particulars, and we propose to proceed with that work. There are one or two very minor respects in which the consolidation of those Acts, as recommended by the Committee, might impose a slight extra charge on the rates. In those respects naturally we shall have to consult local authorities, though I think the effect of the recommendations will be very small indeed. Secondly, there are certain matters in the Report concerning the Inland Revenue, the Department of Overseas Trade, and the Stationery Office. I can only say of those that the Board is consulting with those Departments.

Thirdly, and most important, come the recommendations in regard to the Central Library and the Science Library. With regard to those, the Government are ascertaining the views of the trustees of the British Museum and of the trustees of the Central Library on the proposal for reconstituting the Central Library on a new basis as a special department of the British Museum. I do not think it would be for me to set up a committee on this subject, because the proposal appears to fall within the purview of the Royal Commission on Museums which is just appointed. As regards the proposed grants for the Central Library and the Science Library, there is no provision in the Estimates of this year, and I do not think the Committee will expect me to approach the Treasury on the sub- ject except in connection with the Estimates for next year. They will be considered with the Estimates for next year, and when that time comes we will give them the most favourable consideration that the finances at the moment make possible.

As regards the salaries dispute in Carmarthenshire, I must not say very much about that. The position is that Carmarthenshire is the only authority which has not yet adopted the Burnham scale. The history of the negotiations and the communications between the county council in Carmarthenshire and the County Association of Teachers at the time when the Burnham Committee was sitting, is not a very easy one to unravel, but after full consideration of the history and discussions with both parties, I informed a deputation from the National Union of Teachers, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, that I did not consider the Board of Education could approve or endorse the action of either of the parties to the dispute in this matter. Quite frankly, I think they have both been very seriously in the wrong. I have offered any good offices that I can give to both parties to settle the dispute, and that offer remains open. I do not think I can say more than that at the present moment. I notice that the hon. Member for Caerphilly said that the conditions in Carmarthenshire were almost the same as those in the neighbouring county of Brecon. I think he forgot that Brecon is paying Scale 2, and the whole dispute is whether Carmarthen should be obliged to pay Scale 3. That just indicates one of the difficulties in the question.


The two counties are, for all practical purposes, almost identical in character, being semi-industrial and semi-agricultural.


It indicates the fact that Carmarthen had at least a very arguable case for Scale 2 and not for Scale 3 at the time of arbitration. They did not press that case owing, it is alleged, to certain assurances and informal discussions which had taken place with the County Association of Teachers. I cannot express any opinion or take any sides in the dispute. I think both parties have been seriously in the wrong. Both parties ought to be willing to compromise, and when both parties realise that, I think my good offices may be of some use, but until both of them realise it, I do not think anything the Board of Education can do will be of any assistance in the dispute.

Now I come to the two main questions which have been dealt with—the raising of the school age and the question of technical education raised by the hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris). I will deal with the school age first, because logically it comes first. I do ask the Committee, in considering the question of the raising of the school age, to distinguish between three entirely distinct propositions. The first proposition is this: Is it desirable that the Board of Education and the local authorities should provide school accommodation and adequate teaching for every child who desires to stay on at school after the age of 14 until the age of 15? The answer to that question is emphatically, Yes, and I venture to say that the Board of Education, during the period of office of the present Government, have, in conjunction with the local authorities, done more to provide accommodation and teaching for children between the age of 14 and 15 than has ever been done in this country before.

Viscountess ASTOR



I seem to detect certain very ungrateful interruptions from the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth. I made a weary pilgrimage to the West some time ago in order to open two central schools, one at Torquay and one at Plymouth for taking children up to the age of 15, and I think her running comment is somewhat ungrateful. The fact of the matter is—and I do not think the Committee has realised this sufficiently—that you have had during the last three years provided by local authorities an increasing number of schools which not only provide improved education for children from the age of 11, but actually schools into which children cannot enter unless their parents are prepared to sign undertakings that they will keep the children on at those schools until the age of 15—undertakings similar to the one given in the case of secondary schools. I emphasise that because I think all parts of the Committee and all sections of public opinion outside miss, in this matter, what are the two important things. In the first place the parents of the present day are, to a greater extent than ever before, men and women who have received a very good elementary education themselves and they want, if possible, to leave their children at school until 15. Secondly, the tendency of industry all over the country, except perhaps in Lancashire, is to advise boys not to come into industry until the age of 15, and the really important thing at the present moment—and here I repeat what I said in the first speech I ever made in this House on the Board of Education Estimates two years ago—is how best we can provide accommodation for children between 14 and 15 for which there is actually a. voluntary demand at the present time—and that is taking up, as far as I can judge, all the energy of the local authorities at the present time.

I see some signs that the saturation point is beginning to be reached in the number of building schemes that local authorities can put through, in the same way as when, during the period of Dr. Addison's regime, we relied wholly on local authorities for the building of houses, we reached rather soon the saturation point where the local authorities could not get through the necessary work which they had announced. It must be remembered that during the last 2½ years the local authorities have had approved by the Board some £14, 000, 000 of capital expenditure on school buildings and I think the local authorities, in dealing with the Black List schools and large classes and commitments for central schools, are really proceeding as fast as they can get the work done. Therefore, on that first proposition as to whether it is desirable that we should afford facilities for every child whose parents desire it to stay on at school from 14 to 15, I say Yes, certainly, and we are doing that as fast as the local authorities can do it, and we are doing it, certainly, on a bigger scale than it has ever been done before. I think we mar claim that by our good fortune—I do not claim anything else for it—our period of office has synchronised with practically the beginning and the real foundation on its present scale of the central school system. The second proposition is this. I am asked, "If local authorities desire to raise the school age compulsorily, should they be allowed to do so?" The answer I give to that, is precisely the answer which my predecessor gave, "Yes, provided their school accommodation and their teaching arrangements are fit for it. "I need not comment upon that at all. The action of my Noble Friend the hon. Lady for the Sutton Division is ungrateful, considering that I am on the point of sealing an Order for the raising of the school age to 15 at Plymouth.

Viscountess ASTOR

Give others the same advantages.


Now we come to the third point which has excited the most discussion. I am sorry to see my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon (Major Hills) is not in his place.

Viscountess ASTOR

He has had to go to a meeting.


Are we to raise the school age compulsorily over the country as a whole by legislation? I hope you will remember, Mr. Hope, that in this connection there has been a challenge definitely made to me, and that you will allow me at least some latitude in which to reply.


I am afraid I understood the Board of Education have powers on this matter already. Is it suggested that they want further powers? If so, I can only allow the Noble Lord to reply to something that has relation to this Vote.


I think the Committee will agree that our Debate to-day has been practically about nothing else but this point, and I hope, at least by general consent, I may be allowed to reply. I will do so as much within the Rules of Order as I possibly can. May I say at once about that, that I do not think I have ever heard of a Government being asked to say what it would do five or six years hence. Such a challenge has never been made to any Government, and it is a challenge which no Government can possibly reply to in that sense.


I do not think that is the proposal to the Committee. I think the proposal to the Committee is, that the legislation should be for three years ahead, which is now suggested should be six years.


The Committee recommended five years. On that I have replied quite definitely to the County Councils' Association last March. The answer to that is "No." No Government can come to Parliament and say, "Here we have a Report of a Committee, the whole burden of which is, that the education of the children of this country between the ages of 11 and 14 is thoroughly unsatisfactory, that you are not providing proper education for them, and that you have not got the accommodation or the teaching staff necessary to increase school life. "The Committee recommend that the school age should be raised, and now the Government have to say," We have the Report of this Committee, and because—just because—the accommodation and the teaching provision for children are thoroughly inadequate, we ask Parliament to pledge itself five years in advance to compel the parents of the children to send their children to schools which, admittedly, we have not got ready for them at the present moment. "Such a proposition was never presented to any Government before; no Government could ever carry it out. I would remind hon. Members opposite that they have always been very keen on raising the school age when they were in Opposition, and very remarkably forgetful of their pledges when they were in office. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle that that is not the proposition that the Association of Education Committees have approved. The Association of Education Committees never went further than the proposal that the school age should be raised in the year 1933.

As I say, no Government can possibly be asked what it will be able to do six years hence, but I can, I think, give the Committee information such as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ripon asked for, as to the factors which must govern the position of any Government in this matter. The first of the factors is what I have already mentioned, that local authorities in their three years programmes are, as far as I can judge, proceeding as quickly as they possibly can with the provision of accommodation for children over the age of 14 who wish to stay on at central schools after that age. There is, I think, no possibility of local authorities proceeding very much faster with their provision. The second factor is, that practically no local authority has yet made any survey of what would be the practical cost of raising the school age. I do not know whether the Committee realise how widely that cost would vary between area and area. Indeed, in some rural areas the cost would probably be negligible. You have there a number of schools which are now one quarter empty, and you could probably deal with the question in those areas without very great expense. There are other areas, big towns, with their schools already overcrowded. London, for example, is carrying out with great pains the rehousing scheme for its existing school population. There are many areas like that where the cost would be very considerable indeed. I need not talk of the extra cost of £30, 000, 000 that we have heard in certain works of fiction circulated outside this House. It is absurd. It would be nowhere near that. But I think we must get a much more careful survey by local committees as to what the actual cost would be. These surveys are being carried out, know, by many local authorities at my invitation at the present time.

Until we see the results of those surveys, I cannot hope to give the Committee any remotely reliable estimate of what the cost would be. As the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle has reminded us, the cost will depend very much on whether we are going to encourage the parents of these children to believe that besides getting free education they are to get maintenance allowances as well. In my judgment, if they will allow me to say so, it is the section of opinion represented mainly by the party opposite which will prove the great obstacle to any raising of the school age in the future. The idea, the promise held out by many of them to the parents of the children that every parent whose child is to go to school will get a thumping maintenance allowance—that kind of promise— [An HON. MEMBER: "Bogy!"] It is a bogy, is it? Then, I suppose it is a pledge which hon. Members opposite are not going to redeem.


That is quite unjustified.


If the hon. Member who used the word "bogy," means that that promise has not been held out by his friends, he had better read the educational papers a little more than he does. That kind of promise will prove a great obstacle to any raising of the school age. Hon. Members opposite are very fond of appealing to the experience of the United States of America, and saying, "Look at the free education; look at the high school education given in the United States of America!" If they would inquire rather more closely into American education they would find that the great principles on which American education has always hitherto proceeded are the twin principles of no fees and no maintenance allowances. I think hon. Members opposite and all parties in the House will have to consider very much more closely what kind of policy they really mean to follow in regard to the question of maintenance allowances than they have done up to the present moment.

Whatever may be the probable cost of the raising of the school age, it would cost the most during the period, roughly, between the years 1933 and 1936. The cost would be highest during that period because during that period you would just about get that bulge in the upper standards of the schools resulting from the high birth rate after the War. That is a question which is worth consideration when we are considering what is the probable date when, other things being equal, we might be able to bring in the raising of the school age. My own view is, and I am sure it will be the view of the Committee as a whole, that the only way properly to provide for the education of the older children in this country is to get steadily ahead and as quickly as possible with the capital expenditure on new school accommodation. That is what this Government have concentrated on from the beginning. We have more school building going on, certainly, than has ever been going on in this country before. We are doing everything that local authorities can possibly do in the circumstances. We are, consequently, getting at a greater lengthening of school life at the present time, and more and more opportunities for children to stay on beyond the age of 14. It is by following those lines—here I entirely agree with my Noble Friend—and by following those lines only, that you will solve this problem. If I may mention the bureau- crats again, I do ask bureaucrats like the hon. Member for North Tottenham to remember that the parents of the working classes of this country are not merely to be the subjects of compulsion by the Government.


With due respect to the Noble Lord, I would suggest to him that I have forgotten more about the parents of the working classes of this country than he will ever know.


I quite agree that the hon. Member must have forgotten. All this looking at the question of raising the school age, and all this attitude towards the raising of the school age from the point of view that the only thing that is worth considering is compelling the parents, or that it is more important to compel children to go into school, than to provide them with proper education; all that attitude of mind is an attitude of mind which is really holding up, and will hold up in the future, progress towards the lengthening of school life. You have the parents and the children clamouring at your doors at this moment for voluntary education between the ages of 14 and 15, and you are paying no attention to the efforts of the Government to meet that voluntary demand.

I am afraid that I have left the question of technical education, raised by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green, to the last moment. My reply must be very brief. I am sorry that I missed hearing the hon. Member's speech, but he will understand that it was inevitable. He began by saying that I cold-shouldered the Emmott Committee; a voluntary Committee which sat on the question of technical education. That charge is quite unjustified. I received a deputation from the Emmott Committee some time ago, and I told them that I was very interested in their work and I hoped they would carry it on and come back to see me when they had more nearly reached a conclusion. I have had no communication from them since, and I think the hon. Member will find that the Committee has not yet reached any conclusions or any recommendation which they feel they can bring to me.

The hon. Member appealed for an inquiry into technical education, and said that there had never been an inquiry since 1882. Sir Arthur Balfour's Com- mittee is now sitting and is conducting an inquiry into this question in its relation to industry. The Malcolm Committee has been inquiring into the question more from the school age. We have those two Committees inquiring at the present time. I agree that there is a great deal to be done in developing technical education more according to the needs of the various industries. You must take the industries, however, one by one; you must meet their requirements industry by industry. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green talked a lot about co-ordination, but it is no good trying to co-ordinate the needs of skilled bricklayers in Liverpool with the needs of the chemical industries at the other end of England. You must proceed in this matter industry by industry, and the amount of co-ordination that you can do in that sense is rather limited.

But I think perhaps—and this is all that I can say to-night—that the point at which you can best get a consideration of this problem may be the point of the central schools. There is no doubt—to refer to a recommendation of the Hadow Committee which has not been referred to here, but which is, I think, one of the most important recommendations of that committee—that you will have in the future to devise something in the nature of a leaving examination standard for central schools, giving the children an alternative, as it were, for the first examination standard of the secondary schools. When it comes to considering what that standard should be, the relation of the central school to technical education will be one of the most important considerations in determining the lines upon which this examination standard shall be drawn up, and I believe probably it is at that point that we shall be able to get the greatest consultation with industry and be able to consider most

usefully the whole future of technical education. I can only, in conclusion, thank the Committee, and I think the Committee may congratulate itself on a very interesting and very fruitful Debate, more interesting and more fruitful, perhaps, than education Debates commonly are.

Captain A. EVANS

May I ask the Noble Lord a question? Earlier in the Debate—


He has spoken before!


I understand the hon. and gallant Member wants to ask a question, not to make a speech.

Captain EVANS

The question that I desire to ask is this, and it is one which I put to the Noble Lady earlier in the Debate, namely, whether at any time the Noble Lord has been asked to receive a deputation from the parents of the children affected by the possible raising of the school age, and, if so, whether he received such a deputation and what were their views?


I am sorry I did not refer to my hon. and gallant Friend's remarks on that subject. I understand he said that I had received a deputation from somebody, and had expressed to them my willingness to consider the compulsory raising of the school age. I never received such a deputation, and I never made such a statement. As regards his corollary question, as to whether I would receive a deputation from parents, I will certainly be very glad to receive any deputation which my hon. and gallant Friend may wish to introduce.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £28, 306, 920, be granted for the said Service. "

The Committee divided: Ayes, 153; Noes, 316.

Division No. 287.] AYES. [10.0 p.m.
Adamton, Rt. Hon. W. (Flfe, West) Bromfield, William Cove, W. G.
Adamson, w. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bromley, J. Cowan, D. M. (Scottish universities)
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Brown, Ernest (Leith) Dalton, Hugh
Ammon, Charles George Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Astor, Viscountess Buchanan, G. Day, Colonel Harry
Attiee, Clement Richard Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Dennison, R.
Baker, J. (Wolverttampton, Bliston) Charleton, H. C. Duckworth, John
Baker, Walter Clowes, S. Duncan, C.
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery) Cluse, W. S. Dunnico, H.
Barnes, A. Clyncs, Rt. Hon. John R. Edge, Sir William
Batey, Joseph Compton, Joseph Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
Broad, F. A. Connolly, M. Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)
England, Colonel A. Lawson, John James Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhlthe)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Lee, F. Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Forrest, W. Lindley, F. W. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Gardner, J. P. Livingstone, A. M. Snell, Harry
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Lowth, T. Stamford, T. W.
Gibbins, Joseph Lunn, William Stephen, Campbell
Gillett, George M. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Stewart. J. (St. Rollox)
Gosling, Harry Mackinder, W. Strauss, E. A.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) Sutton, J. E.
Greenall, T. March, S. Taylor, R. A.
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Maxton, James Thomas, Rt. Hon, James H. (Derby)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Montague, Frederick Thorne, W, (West Ham, Plalstow)
Groves, T. Morris, R. H. Thurtle, Ernest
Grundy, T. W. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Tinker, John Joseph
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E. (Bristol, N.) Mosley, Oswald Townend, A. E.
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Murnin, H. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Hardie, George D. Naylor, T. E. viant, s. p.
Harney, E. A. Oliver, George Harold Wallhead, Richard C.
Harris, Percy A. Palin, John Henry Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Hayday, Arthur Paling, W. Watson, W. M. (Dunfermllne)
Hayes, John Henry Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Watts-Morgan, Lt. -Col. D. (Rhondda)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Potts, John S. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Hirst, G. H. Rees, Sir Beddoe Wellock, Wilfred
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Westwood, J.
Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Riley, Ben Whiteley, W.
Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Ritson, J. Wiggins. William Martin
Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Rose, Frank H. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
John, William (Rhondda, West) Salter, Dr. Alfred Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Scrymgeour, E. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Scurr, John Williams, Dr. S. H. (Llaneily)
Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Sexton, James Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston) Wilson. C. H. (Sheffield, Attercilffe)
Kelly, W. T. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis Wilson, R. J (Jarrow)
Kennedy, T. Shiels, Dr. Drummond Windsor, Walter
Kenworthy, Lt. -Com. Hon. Joseph M. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury) Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Kirkwood, D. Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Lansbury, George Sitch, Charles H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Lawrence, Susan Smillie. Robert Sir Robert, Hutchison and Mr. Fenby
Acland-Troyte, Lieut. -Colonel Burton, Colonel H. W. Davies, Dr. Vernon
Age-Gardner. Rt. Hon. Sir James T. Butler, Sir Geoffrey Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Butt, Sir Alfred Dawson, sir Philip
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby) Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Allen, Lieut. -Col. Sir William James Campbell, E. T. Dixey, A. C.
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Carver, Major W. H. Dixon. Captain Rt. Hon. Herbert
Apsley, Lord Cassels, J. D. Drewe, C.
Ashley, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Edmondson, Major A. J
Astbury, Lieut. -Commander F. W. Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.) Ellis, R. G.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Elveden, viscount
Atholl, Duchess of Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton Erskine Lord (Somerset Weston-s. -M.)
Bainiel, Lord Chapman, Sir S. Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)
Banks, Reginald Mitchell Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Everard, W. Lindsay
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Chilcott, Sir Warden Fairfax, Captain. J. G.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Christie, J. A. Falle, Sir Bertram G.
Barnston, Major Sir Harry Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Fanshawe, Captain G. D.
Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.) Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Fermoy, Lord
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W. Clarry, Reginald George Flelden, E. B.
Benn, sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Clayton G. C. Finburgh, S.
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish- Cobb, Sir Cyril Forestler-Walker, Sir L.
Berry, Sir George Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Foster, Sir Harry S.
Bethel, A. Cockerill, Brig. -General Sir George Foxcroft. Captain C. T.
Betterton, Henry B. Cohen, Major J. Brunei Fraser. Captain Ian
Birchall, Major J. Dearman Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Fremantle, Lieut. -Colonel Francis E.
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Colman, N. C. D. Gadie, Lieut. -Col. Anthony
Blades, Sir George Rowland Conway, Sir W. Martin Galbraith. J. F. W.
Boothby, R. J. G. Cooper, A. Duff Ganzonl, Sir John
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Cope, Major William Gates, Percy
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vanslttart Couper, J. B. Gault, Lieut. -Col. Andrew Hamilton
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Gilmour, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.) Glyn, Major R. G. C.
Briscoe, Richard George Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim) Goff, Sir Park
Brittain, Sir Harry Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Gower, Sir Robert
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Grace, John
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Brown, Brig. -Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Grant, Sir J. A.
Buckingham, Sir H. Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Dalkeith, Earl of Greaves-Lord. Sir Walter
Bullock, Captain M. Davidson, Major-General Sir John H Greene, W. p. Crawford
Burman, J. B. Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovll) Greenwood. Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'W, E)
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John Shepperson, E. W.
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Macquisten, F. A. Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Gunston, Captain D. w. MacRobert, Alexander M. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Bolfit)
Hacking, Captain Douglas H. Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel- Skelton, A. N.
Hall, Lieut. -Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Makins, Brigadier-General E. Slaney, Major p. Kenyon
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Malone, Major P. B. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)
Hammersley, S. S. Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hanbury, C. Margesson, Captain D Smithers, Waldron
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Harland, A. Mason, Lieut. -Col. Glyn K Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Harmsworth. Hon. E. C. (Kent) Merriman. F. B. Stanley, Lieut. -Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
Harrison, G. J. C, Meyer, Sir Frank Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Heslam, Henry C, Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Steel, Major Samuel Strang
Headlam, Lieut. -Colonel C. M. Moore, Lieut. -Colonel T, C. R. (Ayr) Storry-Deans, R.
Henderson, Lt. -Col. Sir V. L. (Bootle) Moore, Sir Newton J. Streatfelld, Captain S. R.
Heneage, Lieut. -Col. Arthur P. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut. -Col. J. T. C. Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Morden, Colonel Walter Grant Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Moreing, Captain A. H. Sueter, Hear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford) Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Hills, Major John Waller Murchison, Sir Kenneth Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Hilton, Cecil Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph Tasker, R Inigo.
Hoare, Lt. -Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Nelson, Sir Frank Templeton, W. P.
Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone) Neville, Sir Reginald J. Thorn, Lt. -Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Hope, Sir Harry (Fortar) Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Hopkins, J. W. W. Nuttall, Ellis Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Oakley, T. Tinne, J. A.
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossiey) O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Howard-Bury, Lieut. -Colonel C. K. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough
Hudson, capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Pennefather, Sir John Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'and, Whiteh'n) Penny, Frederick George Waddington, R.
Hume, Sir G. H. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Wallace, Captain D. E.
Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Perkins, Colonel E. K. Ward, Lt. -Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Huntingfield, Lord Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Hurd, Percy A. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Hurst, Gerald B. Phillpson, Mabel Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Illffe, Sir Edward M. Pitcher, G. Watts, Dr. T.
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Pliditch, Sir Philip Wells, S. R.
Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Pownall, Sir Assheton Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.
Jephcott, A. R. Preston, William White, Lieut. -Col. Sir G. Dairymple
Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington) Price, Major C. W. M. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Kennedy, A. R. (Preston). Radford, E. A. Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Kidd, J. (Linilthgow) Raine, Sir Walter Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Kindersley. Major Guy M. Ramsden, E. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Rawson, Sir Cooper Winby, Colonel L. P.
Knox, Sir Alfred Reid, D. D. (County Down) Windsor-clive, Lieut. -Colonel George
Lamb, J. Q. Remer, J. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Remnant, Sir James Wise, Sir Frederic
Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Rentoul, G. S. Withers, John James
Little, Dr. E. Graham Rice, Sir Frederick Wolmer, viscount
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y) Womersiey, W. J.
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint) Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)
Loder, J. de V. Hobinson, Sir T. (Lane., Stretford) Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich W.)
Long. Major Eric Ropner, Major L. Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)
Lougher, Lewis Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Woodcock, Colonel H. C.
Lowe, Sir Francis William Rye, F. G. Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere Salmon, Major I. Wragg, Herbert
Luce, Maj. -Gen. Sir Richard Harman Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham) Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Lumley, L. R. Sandeman, N. Stewart Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Macdonald, H. (Glasgow, Cathcart) Sanderson, Sir Frank TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Maclntyre, I. Sandon, Lord Commander B. Eyres Monsell and
McLean, Major A. Sassoon, sir Philip Albert Gustave D. Caption Viscount Curzon.
Macmillan Caption H. Shaw R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

It being after Ten of the Clock, the Chairman, proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Vote under consideration.

The Chairman then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15, to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the several Classes of the Civil Estimates, including a Supplementary Estimate, and the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Navy, Army, Air and Revenue Departments, be granted for the services defined in those Classes and Estimates.