HC Deb 16 May 1928 vol 217 cc1055-171

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £26,215,828, 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, 1929, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants-in-Aid."—[Note.—£15,000,000 has been voted on account.]


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

The Noble Lord, the President of the Board of Education intimated to me yesterday that he did not wish to open the Debate to-day. I am content that he should speak later, for I do not suppose that he will have very much to tell us. This has been a rather uneventful year, and the country knows now what is the fixed policy of the Government in regard to education. I think it is probably more desirable to-day to have a short, sharp and vigorous, discussion on the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment. Let me first of all allude to a subject on which I think there will be very general agreement on both sides of the Committee. One thing has occurred within the last three years which meets with general approval, and that is the permanent settlement of teachers' salaries. It may be said to be rather a remarkable exploit when we consider the times in which we have been living, when there has been in other parts of our national life a persistent campaign in the Press and elsewhere to lower wages and salaries of all kinds, that in the case of the teachers exactly the opposite has taken place. An arrangement has been arrived at by arbitration and agreement which has established a relatively high level for teachers' salaries. That arrangement has been accepted by employing local education authorities from one end of England to the other, and those who are watching what is going on in the teachers' world are aware that this new era of stability in teachers' wages is having at any rate two very good results. In the first place, there is a better class of young person coming forward and entering the profession and, secondly, the teachers are thinking more of their vocational proficiency now that their bread and butter is secured to them.

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This new salaries arrangement, although local in its form, has been national in fact. The scales have been based on the kind of schools in which teachers find themselves and not on the kind of districts in which the schools are placed. In the last few weeks there has been an anxious situation in regard to a certain part of the country. In one of the most stricken districts in Wales, in the Valley of Abertillery, the local education authority has handed over its powers to three men, and these three men proposed a cut of 10 per cent. in the salaries of the teachers. Why they did so, no one quite knows. Perhaps it was their own misguided ingenuity. It is suggested that the idea had been put into their minds by the promptings of the Ministry of Health. I do not know whether that is so, and perhaps the Minister of Education can tell us whether his colleague's Department had anything to do with suggesting this reduction? It was obvious that if one local authority were to begin breaking into the national settlement a very serious situation might be created. It would be a first-class calamity if the disastrous poverty of a few districts broke the phalanx of agreement throughout the country. I am glad to say that that danger has passed. I mention it chiefly because I want to express the hope that the danger is not going to arise of a breach of this understanding in any other part of the country. I think that the three parties in the country are agreed upon it. The Labour party expressed its determination to uphold the scale in every possible way, in a resolution passed only the other day, and, as far as we know, behind the scenes the right hon. Gentleman has been using his influence, or was using it in this case, in order to maintain the Burnham Scale as established. In fact I think he is absolutely bound to do so, because the Conservative party in its manifesto at the General Election issued this announcement: Where a local authority has accepted the Burnham Committee's scales of salaries and has subsequently departed from them, that authority should be made to adhere to the scales by the Board of Education. Therefore I express the hope that, first of all, during the period of the running of the present Burnham Scales, there may be no further attempt to interfere with them, and the further hope that when the time comes for any reconsideration or revision of the scales, all parties in the country and all sections connected with education will realise to the full the advantage which this settlement has been, and will continue it in subsequent years.

Let me conic to the main situation in education in which we find ourself. We are in a period of slow movement. A few years ago there was an entire stoppage in the education machinery. The impetus of 1924 is not yet altogether lost; there is still some way on. We have in this country what is in many respects a very fine and effective system. The local education authorities have in them, what ever the dominant party may be, abundant unselfish and capable enthusiasm for developing education. There is throughout the country a band of very capable directors of education. In fact we have an educational machine which does not very easily clog. The greatest proof of its strength and effectiveness has been that, when in the last few years it has been faced with a threat of wholesale economy, the local education authorities of the country, assisted by this House, have succeeded in thwarting the great economy campaign started by the right hon. Gentleman. That great economy campaign was balked, but it has not been scotched. What is happening now is that we are going through a period of uninspiring administration, when the depression of the right hon. Gentleman's policy is felt throughout the country, although it is not able to be altogether deadly.

I want, first of all, to show how in every direction, in small things, the policy of the present Board of Education is operating for ill. I shall begin with lesser illustrations. The right hon. Gentleman has, I suppose, acquired a good deal of merit with the Treasury this year, as he-has now begun reducing his Estimates. The expansion of 1924 has been successfully stopped. But that has not been effected without a good deal of meticulous parsimony. For instance, last year a Committee on Public Libraries sat and made an excellent report. The Committee had been presided over by Sir Frederic Kenyon. There were in that report hardly any proposals for increased expenditure of any importance, except one. It was proposed that the Central Library for Students should be strengthened, that it should be associated more closely with the British Museum, and should have its activities and stores of books enlarged in order to assist students all over the country and to assist other libraries. It was a very modest proposal, and £5,000 was suggested as an expenditure which would really enhance the effectiveness of this library and make it valuable to the whole country. The President of the Board of Education was asked about it last year, and in July he said that the proposals would be considered "with the Estimates for next year." The right hon. Gentleman added, "When that time comes we will give them the most favourable consideration that the finances of the moment may allow." In fact he approved of what was proposed. He said he was not quite certain that the £5,000 would be forthcoming. It has not been forthcoming, under the withering stinginess of the Department.

Take another case of petty meanness. The London County Council at the present time is not a riotous and revolutionary assembly. Everyone in the country is talking about playing fields. Everyone is saying that the advantages of athletics ought not to be confined to those who have means. There is a National Playing Fields Association under Royal patronage, over the meetings of which Lords-Lieutenant take the chair and declare that means ought to be found for enabling the children and young men of the working classes to have playing fields. The right hon. Gentleman's important subordinate, Sir George Newman, writes long and eloquent passages about the health of the school child and the importance of enlarged playing fields. Now comes the London County Council with a modest little proposal to expend a sum not exceeding £500 annually in defraying the travelling expenses of necessitous pupils for athletic training. The Board's reply was: I am to say that the Board sympathise generally with the proposal, but, in view of the existing financial conditions, they do not feel justified in approving, at the present time, the proposed expenditure. I suppose that that statement has acquired more merit for the right hon. Gentleman from the Treasury.

I do not want to deal only with small things, but that illustration shows what is happening all over the country. One must take a few small things in order to illustrate. The final examination of students going into the profession has up to now been conducted and paid for by the Board of Education. The Board decided, I dare say quite wisely—I am not discussing that—that in future as far as possible universities should carry out the examination. I dare say that was right, but in making a change the Board saw a chance of saving a measly penny. So, whereas they had hitherto paid the expenses of these examinations, they now say that they will pay only 30s. out of the £4 or £6 which it costs to examine a student, and the students are to pay the difference. Of course there are many of the students who can manage it. But, they are not generally well-to-do people; they are largely children from very poor families, and those families very often find great difficulty in sending their children into the profession. It was unnecessary, just to save a few hundred pounds or £1,000 or £2,000 for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to put this expenditure on the shoulders of the students.

I want now to come to the rather larger defects, disappointments and delays entailed in the general policy of economy. There is a growing belief in the need for looking after children before the school age. People are becoming more and more alive to the evils of home conditions in too many of our city streets, and are realising how disastrous the first two years of life are to an enormous number of children who are brought up in our industrial districts. Again, page after page of Sir George Newman's Report to the right hon. Gentleman contain protests on this subject. For instance, it is stated that 35 per cent. of the entrants into school in London now require serious medical treatment. That means that these children want looking after. The only person who is not very appreciative of this is the right hon. Gentleman. He never has been sympathetic. The least appreciated paragraph in his first Dead Circular was the one in which he tried to withdraw the grant from children under five. He had to drop the proposal, but pressure is still being put on local authorities. The number of children in school under five years of age in the last two years has actually gone down by 40,000. I wish it had gone up by 40,000 or 80,000. Although throughout the country there is a growing feeling that nursery schools for children between three and six years of age ought to be a general requirement and not a very rare exception, at the present time there are only 26 nursery schools and only 1,367 children in them out of 2,000,000. I think it is a pity that we are not moving faster. I was in Vienna the other day, and in Vienna the best part of half the children are in what we should call nursery schools, children between three and six, and all the schools were built recently because of the appreciation of the rulers in Vienna of the fact that, in order to make a good, effective child population, you have to begin looking after them at an early age. But then, of course, Vienna is governed by Socialist wastrels!

A good many of us are getting rather impatient about the continued existence of the worst kind of school building. A list of the worst schools was finished soon after 1924. That list of schools was not by any means hardly pressed against bad schools. It was only a selection of the very worst. Many of them had been condemned even before the War. They were schools—to use a phrase, which I thought a very good one, of the President of the National Union of Teachers—which were "in such a condition as to constitute an offence against the children." Nobody has a good word to say for these ill-lighted, insanitary buildings.

The right hon. Gentleman, I agree, said that these schools have to be dealt with, but he is so very slow about it. That was in 1924. He tells us now that by 1930 the schemes of local authorities will have dealt with all the Council schools in the list, but he holds out extraordinarily vague hopes that the whole list, is going to be dealt with. I have here the report which has just come out, and I note a phrase in it which certainly we on this side of the House will hardly regard as adequate. He says that the inclusion of a school in the list was to be regarded as "a challenge rather than as a final decision." That certainly is not the spirit in which I intended that list to be made. I intended it, at least with regard to that very limited class of very bad schools, to be a final decision, and I am sorry to see, so far as I can understand the figures which he gives, that the numbers in List A that will have been dealt with are only 35 per cent. I do not know how quickly this is going on. I can only say that I am quite certain that all my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee are entirely dissatisfied with the pace at which things are going, and we do not see, as things are going, that even this worst class of school is really finally going to be remedied 10 years after they were condemned.

Many years ago the most celebrated of Board of Education inspectors, Matthew Arnold, said that there ought to be no classes over 40. I do not suppose that everybody agreed with him then, but I do not suppose there are many who disagree with him now. When the. Labour Government was in office, it established a very modest standard upon which it intended to insist with regard to the size of classes. It announced that all classes were at once to be brought below 50, and presently to come down to 40. There was a little improvement, and, of course, the right hon. Gentleman said that he entirely approved of that circular and that he proposed to go on with the policy. When that circular was issued, there were 24,900 classes where teachers were trying to teach more than 50 children, and in the first two years those numbers fell to. 21,300. At that, the reduction practically stopped, and in the last two years there has actually been an increase in the numbers of these classes of over 50, of children under 11, of nearly 2,000. That is a most lamentable thing.

Hon. Gentlemen who want to know the reasons, or rather the excuses, may turn to page 18 of the report which has just been issued. There, a series of reasons are given, but the main reason is not given. The main reason is that you cannot reduce the size of classes unless you are ready to pay money to build more schools freely and to employ more teachers. In the last two years, there has been an increase of only 40 teachers employed on the staffs of all the schools of the nation. Of course, you cannot get a real reduction of the size of classes if that is the standard with which you are content. The right hon. Gentleman, I have no doubt, wishes that the classes could be reduced, but, if so, I wish he would put a little more individual pressure, such as we do not hear of his putting, on the local authorities that are to blame. We do hear of his writing letters to the local authorities and telling them: "Do you not think you could make a reduction in your expenditure, because of the very high standard of staffing which you have got? Do you not think you could reduce your staffing?" I wish he would do the opposite.

Why is it that we are pressing this? Why is it that we want to put our school houses in order and to have a really effective system of teaching, such as everybody in this Committee knows there cannot be where teachers are trying to teach classes of 50 children? I put it in this way. To me it is outrageous that our schools should not be places where all parents would be quite ready to send their children. There ought never to be any hesitation about sending any child of any parentage to a school under public control. Some day, we shall know what a grave disadvantage it is nationally that the well-to-do sections of our country send their children to one set of schools, and the rest of the population to another. I am not blaming the well-to-do to-day, because they care about their children, and they care about them a great deal too much than to send them to schools where they know that they will not get effective teaching, because of the handicap there is on the teachers, or to schools which are so badly built that they cannot rely on their living under healthy conditions. I only wish the whole population did go to these schools, because I know that if for a year all the Members of this Committee and others of the same class from which they come were to send their children to the schools of the country, they would insist within a very few months on a higher standard than they are prepared to insist on now. Perhaps it might be worth the while of those who do not send their children to these schools to think how much less talk there might be of class war in England if the children were not separated into classes from their infanthood.

We want great changes in education. We are not content with the sort of static conditions in which we find ourselves to-day. I do not know how much the right hon. Gentleman agrees with me and how much he does not, but I very much doubt if he really agrees with me in the last thing I was saving about wishing that all children were in the same school. It did not look like it the other day when he was dealing with the Dulwich business. I am not going to talk about that. There are some of my hon. Friends who will again wish to ask him questions about the way he has permitted the Dulwich school to reduce the number of places for the sons of less well-to-do parents from 150 to 100, I think it is.

I wish we could see enterprise in any direction from the present Government. One of the most disappointing things is the way in which the Hadow Report is being dealt with. In theory, we all give lip service to the idea of secondary education for all. We all know that there is no chance of it being realised until children stay longer in school. The right hon. Gentleman has resolutely set himself against raising the school age. We cannot discuss his attitude on the main question of raising the school age because it entails legislation, but there is one side of the question of raising the school age which is very relevant At the present moment, one of the worst tragedies in our midst is the condition of the mining districts. The right hon. Gentleman knows it as well as any of us. He has been down there himself, and he has shown his sympathy.




I expect that I am right and my hon. Friend is wrong. I think the right hon. Gentleman has shown sympathy. He must also know what is the policy of the Miners' Federation. The policy of the Miners' Federation is to relieve unemployment by getting the old and the young out of the labour market. That is part of their declared policy. Here you have a stricken industry, and stricken districts, suffering from a peculiar and local trade disadvantage. Why cannot. we do something in those districts to keep the boys in until they are 15? It is known that some of the local authorities—Durham and Glamorgan—are thinking about raising the age. The difficulties are apparent. Why could not the Government, seeing that the situation in the mining districts is so serious, seeing that there are local authorities who are thinking of raising the age, try to give them some advantages and offer them some inducements to do what they are on the point of doing, and in those districts at any rate to keep the children in school instead of sending them into the mines? Their particular form of relief of rates under the Budget proposal—which I do not want to discuss to-day—is not going to help them. It will not affect them, but there is no reason why the Government should not set their mind to advance in this direction where they find a willingness to do what has already been done in some places—to do what has been clone in Plymouth without any disadvantage to Plymouth's interests.

The difficulty of the whole position is this. The right hon. Gentleman is most ingenious in finding reasons for not doing things. I entirely agree that there is not one of these things that we want done, which is not, in the first place, exceedingly difficult and, in the second place, exceedingly expensive. I quite agree that there are two qualities necessary in a Government that is going to do anything worth doing in regard to education to-day. Such a Government must have a modicum of faith in the possibility of progress. Where on earth would the men of 1870 have been if they had only looked at the difficulties—hardly any schools and very few teachers? Yet in their imagination they saw this land of ours studded all over with schools and all the children going to those schools. They were not afraid of the difficulties. Coming to more recent days there were many of us who did not like all the legislation of Lord Balfour in regard to education in 1902. There were many things in it to which many of us objected, but at least he had vision. He had the idea that we could establish a system which did not then exist of secondary education. I want the House of Commons to begin to believe that these things are possible—because they are possible. Take the question of the size of classes. I was in Vienna the other day and I find that in the working-class districts of Vienna there are no classes over 30. I dare say they have some advantages which we have not but they have disadvantages especially in relation to poverty which we have not. They have done it because there are people there who have the faith to do it.

Of course, I quite agree that we must be ready to spend. As long as the Board of Education is just going to be the good boy of the Treasury and is content to be praised for lowering its Estimates, we shall not get anything. We on this side of the House knew well enough in advance that the progress which we inaugurated would cost money. When my right. hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) told me that I might do this and that when there was a Labour Government in office, do you imagine that he supposed that four years after we had begun we were going to have to push down the Estimates? He knew well enough, as everyone knew, that if we were going to have a real expansion of education our country had to he ready to pay; and I believe that it is ready to pay for education as the greatest necessity and not merely as a luxury.


I desire to call the attention of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education to the educational problem which has arisen in Essex owing to the establishment of the Beacontree estate. The nature of that problem is quite simple and can be very shortly stated. After the War, the London County Council found themselves faced with a very urgent housing problem. There was a large mass of population who required housing accommodation and that accommodation could not be found within the area for which the London County Council is responsible. Urged on by the Ministry of Health and with the facilities provided under the Town Planning Act, they purchased a large block of land in Essex amounting to about 2,770 acres. That land is situated in the districts of Dagenham, Barking and Ilford and I think the greater portion of the estate is within the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Rhys). He has taken a great interest in this question and would be here to support me this afternoon were he not in a position, in which he is unable to give voice very often to his views in this House. Upon this area of 2,770 acres the London County Council are erecting 26,500 houses and it is estimated that, when the housing scheme is completed, there will be a population in these houses of 106,500 people. There must inevitably be a large proportion of children and this naturally raises the question of providing educational facilities.

The burden of providing those facilities will necessarily fall upon the Essex authorities. It will be necessary to provide elementary schools, intermediate schools, secondary schools and a technical college, and the estimated capital cost of the elementary portion of that programme amounts to over £500,000. In addition, there will be a net annual cost imposed on the ratepayers of Essex in respect of elementary education of something like £122,855. The Essex County Council are building 15 new large elementary schools and one large intermediate school to meet elementary educational needs, and, in addition, are enlarging a number of existing schools to provide additional places. Altogether, they are arranging for nearly 22,000 fresh school places in elementary schools to meet the needs of the influx of population from London which is being settled on this estate. The cost of this to the ratepayers of Essex is estimated to represent a rate of 9½d. in the £. In addition to the cost of elementary education, there is the cost, which will necessarily fall either on the Essex County Council or on the district authorities concerned, in respect of higher education, and the total net annual cost of that is estimated at £29,503. Upon the scale suggested by my right hon. Friend it will be necessary with this population to provide 2,128 secondary places at a cost of something like £25,500. The total net annual charge which will fall upon the rates in the districts affected is £152,503, and the annual contribution which this estate will make towards that cost is such amount as it will contribute in the way of rates on the houses. It is unfortunate from that point of view that houses for that particular class of population are necessarily of a low rateable value, and the rateable value of the houses which are being erected is put at £14. To illustrate the effect of that low valuation, in relation to the annual provision which has to be made, I may mention that in Dagenham district alone, if the rate derived from these houses were sufficient to pay for the net annual cost involved, the houses would have to be rated at £72 a year instead of £14 a year.

I wish to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Education to what has taken place and what is taking place. The London County Council, in order to provide for the housing of the people for whom they were responsible, bought this large area of land in Essex and covered it with houses. They filled those houses with a large mass of their population for whom they were under an obligation to provide housing accommodation. Then they wash their hands of that population and leave the educational authorities of Essex to bear the whole cost of education for that population. I would point out to the Committee that this is not a case of a natural process of infiltration. This is not the process which we see going on constantly, especially around London, where population is continually drifting from one district into another. When the London County Council Housing Committee were considering this problem, they characterised it—rather airily, if I may say so with the greatest deference—as the inevitable spreading outwards of the population of London. It is nothing of the sort. It is the definite and deliberate settlement in one county of a large block of population from another. As a matter of fact, this inevitable spreading out of the population of London is going on at the same time and alongside this scheme; and if any hon. Member does me the honour of driving with me about the constituency which I represent he will see new houses springing up every day and families from London moving into the new houses.

That is a similar problem arising from natural causes, the result of the situation I am drawing attention to is that Essex has to shoulder the burden of providing the necessary education facilities for London children, which, in equity, ought to be borne by London and not by Essex, and it gets no contri- bution from London for doing it. London is a county with a large rateable value and large potential resources to be derived from any rates which it may make. Essex, on the other hand, is a very poor county, and the bulk of its rates falls upon an agricultural district which is suffering enough from the depressed circumstances of that industry at the moment, without having the additional handicap imposed upon it of a large addition to the rates like this. I submit to my right hon. Friend that this is really a problem which demands serious attention at the hands of his Department. We have been told by his Department that the problem is different in degree but not in kind from many other similar problems existing throughout the country. I very respectfully deny that altogether. I say that there is no problem comparable to this which has yet been pointed out to me as existing anywhere else. It is true that we have natural infiltration, and it is true that some of our large cities have been obliged to acquire tracts of land outside the area of the local authorities to house their population, but those tracts of land have been within their own county.

I have yet to hear of any other instance in which one county has deliberately and definitely settled a large mass of its population inside the area of another county and left that other county to bear the burden of the necessary educational facilities. If it is necessary for any one county, in fulfilment of its natural obligation of providing for its surplus population, to form settlements of this description in other counties, it is only right that special assistance should be given in some form to the county which suffers from an enforced migration of this kind. I submit that the position of Essex in respect to this burden, which has been imposed upon it without any consultation and without any chance of making representations with regard to the rating effects, ought to receive special consideration, and I would like to ask my right hon. Friend if there is no form, either by way of an increased grant or otherwise, by which be can do something to come to the financial assistance of the Essex authorities and ratepayers in respect of the additional burden imposed on them of providing educational facilities for this population which has been compulsorily transferred into their midst.


I do not want to allow the Debate to-day to be diverted from the larger problem of education to the local difficulties of the County of Essex. I appreciate those difficulties, but they are common to all districts where a large working-class population is congregated.


That is a point which is always made against us, but can the hon. Member tell us of a single county in which an exactly similar set of conditions has arisen, of land being bought and a big population planted from one county to another?


The London County Council have not only got estates in Essex, but they have large estates in Middlesex.


I am a London Member, and I am also a member of the London County Council, and I am not ashamed to say that I am a member of the housing committee of that council, and that I have encouraged, and shall continue to encourage, people in over crowded areas in the centre of London to spread out into the undeveloped districts round about London. I think that is in the best interests of the populations concerned.


Will you help in the expenditure involved?


If the hon. and gallant Member will wait, I will answer that question. Already the London ratepayer is subsidising the rent of every single house that the London County Council has constructed in the County of Essex. There is not a single tenant who is not receiving something in the form of a special subsidy out of the London rate payers' pockets towards his rent, and that is a very considerable contribution. As to the larger question, I may say that the London County Council was quite ready to take in the surrounding districts. A Royal Commission was set up, and the present Minister of Health was a member of it. The County of Essex and all the surrounding local authorities, however, objected to any change in local government areas, and did not want to part with an inch of their ground. If it is thought desirable now that there should be a change of areas, let the County of Essex come forward and ask for another Royal Commission, and let them support the extension of the boundaries of London to include Greater London. That is the only practical solution. I think they have to thank themselves for their present difficulties, which are largely due to their lack of foresight. On the other hand, I think that all these areas, these large working-class districts, require special treatment. We, on this side, have always claimed that there was a need to deal with the rating problem. The Government are now doing so, though not in the right way, and the hon. Member's quarrel is really with his own Chancellor of the Exchequer, because he is not going to help the small householder, who will get no relief of rates. The hon. Member would be well advised to fight out his problem more with the Chancellor of the Exchequer than with the President of the Board of Education.

It would be a pity, however, on this, the one clay on which we can deal with education, that we should be diverted to what are important but, after all, local problems. I have always on these occasions fulfilled the rôle of the optimist, as opposed to that of the pessimist taken by the ex-President of the Board of Education. On two or three occasions we have attacked the President of the Board of Education very vigorously and found fault with certain reactionary proposals which he has put forward, but I believe that we have met with considerable success. During the last 12 months the Minister has been, I will not say a changed Minister, but at least an improved Minister. He has ceased to issue so many circulars. The printing press has been comparatively quiet. I do not know what the number of circulars is this year, but it has certainly been exceeded in every preceding year, and the Noble Lord has been content to be quiescent and has been making fewer speeches. I am a great admirer of his oratory and think that at times he has become very eloquent, but I also think that on the whole he is wise to be quiet, and to attend to the ordinary, humdrum machinery of his office. I think he has learned something, that he has been educated by contact with the realities of education throughout the country, and that the more he visits the schools and institutes the better. I admit that he is always very willing to do that, and I am glad to know that he is going to visit an institute in the borough which I represent, a visit which will, I hope, do something to complete his education. I say that the less he issues circulars and makes speeches, and the more he attends to the routine of administration, the more is he likely to go own to posterity as a successful Minister of Education.

I noticed that the ex-President of the Board of Education made special reference to nursery schools, and I think they are very worthy of the attention of the Committee. The Education Act of 1918 made special provision for nursery schools, and educational experts strongly recommended them, but local education authorities for the last eight years have hesitated to embark on any large policy in that direction. Now, however, I think public opinion is ripe. We have had some experience, and I think that all of it proves that these schools are economical to work, that they serve their purpose, and that they do an immense good to the child population. We have only 26 such schools in existence, 11 of which have been provided by private enterprise. That is a very small result for eight years, and, as has already been pointed out, we have the glowing recommendations of the Medical Officer of the Board of Education, Sir George Newman. In his last Report, on "The Health of the School Child," he has constant references to the question, and we might almost say that he regards nursery schools as the cure for almost all the ills of the child population. He says, on page 38: The remarkable improvement in the health and nutrition of children attending nursery schools may be attributed to medical supervision, a suitable dietary, sufficient rest, and an open-air regime. He goes on to say: The activities of the nursery school are two-fold—medical, social and educational—(particularly the elements of training in good habits). The chief aim is to provide the right environment, physical, mental and social, for the proper development of very young children. Experience shows that fears lest the removal of such children from the home would result in lessened parental responsibility have no foundation. 5.0 p.m.

As I say, we have only 26 of these schools. On the other hand, in Germany every town has something in the nature of a nursery school. I admit that to some extent educational organisation is different in Germany. There they do not start their proper school life until seven, but, on the other hand, it has been proved by having these nursery centres that, when a child actually does enter school, the educational results are much more rapid and effective, and the child, already having learned the simple principles of discipline, orderly habits, and the proper use of its faculties, very quickly responds to the educational training. I hope the Minister will take the opportunity this afternoon of giving a message to those splendid people who have been the pioneers of the nursery school in England, and at the same time give a lead to local education authorities by telling them that the Board of Education will view with favour, for grant, any practical proposals put forward for the extension of nursery schools. In London sites are already available, but I am not sure that we want expensive buildings. I have seen private houses with gardens which have been adapted at very small expense, and have proved quite effective for their purpose. I would not like to see too large an expenditure, because, once it can be suggested that nursery schools are likely to prove expensive, the Treasury will discourage their extension. I come to the question of elementary schools and the Hadow Report, which is the most tremendous document issued in the last 20 years. [Interruption.] I wish hon. Members opposite would stop talking. The hon. Lady is talking all the time, and is a nuisance. If she does not want to hear what I have to say, she had better leave the House.

Viscountess ASTOR

We were only trying to give a little encouragement to those who are supporting your views.


The Hadow Report probably more than any other document has revolutionised the attitude of educationists and the public to education. It strikes an entirely new note. The ordinary educational expert has during the last 30 or 40 years, looked with suspicion upon anything of a vocational or technical bias in the ordinary elementary schools. Now we have had a new lead, showing how, by remodelling the syllabus, education can be brought more into contact with the realities of life; but, as is pointed out in the Report and by the Minister, the possibility of introducing this new system entirely depends on the reclassification of the school, and establishing the division of 11 years of age at the end of the elementary school life. I understand—and here I hope that the Minister can give us an assurance—that, during the last 12 months, the Board has been giving every encouragement to local authorities to remodel their educational organisation on this basis. Every new school that has been proposed has been subject to the condition that provision should be made for the division under what one might call the "Hadow basis." This is all for the good, but on the other hand, it would be a misfortune if the idea got abroad that, by merely establishing the age of 11 as the critical age in the child's life, we are doing something very substantial to alter education. If we are to make this division, it is essential that, when the change is made from elementary education to advanced education, a definite syllabus should be provided.

It has been suggested that the Board should give a lead in the matter, but I understand that the Board hesitates, do not suggest that we should have a stereotyped syllabus; nothing would be more disastrous, but some sort of lead is necessary. The difficulty of getting the necessary staff immediately comes up. The staff problem is the most difficult of all. We cannot get over the fact that there are still in elementary schools 26 per cent, of the teachers who are uncertificated. That gives the Minister a great opportunity for the training of teachers. Special provisions should be made for training a large percentage in handicraft, art, technical and practical education. The idea that the headmaster of a school must have linguistic attainments must go, and the Minister can do a great deal by advising local education authorities to make far more provision in their training colleges for the training of handicraft teachers, and by making it clear that, when it comes to promotion, at any rate in the central schools and the higher classes of the elementary schools, craft and art qualifications will be considered, and that such qualifications will be approved by the Board. Of course, a great deal of new buildings will be required. The ex-President of the Board made a lot of reference to schools on the black list which should be rebuilt or remodelled. A good many of these schools are in rural areas, and the real problem that has to be faced, when we come to reclassification and introducing this new system of education, will be the difficulty of applying it to the rural areas, unless we are prepared to deal with the burning question of the Church schools. When there is in the rural areas only one school, and that a Church school, it will be very difficult to get the division of the school for the age of 11, and to provide for re-organisation. I do not know what the Minister is doing in that direction. At any rate, we are more likely to get a solution of this question from him, with all his influence, than probably from any other Minister.

I should like to refer to technical education. The right hon. Gentleman received a deputation from a committee which has become known as the Emmott Committee, which was started by the late Lord Emmott. They have inquired extensively into the whole problem of technical education in England, and they have shown that, in many parts of the country, there are serious and grave defects. In their Report are statistics of the provision of technical education. In the iron and steel trade and in coal mining, there is, I will not say ample provision, but a very efficient organisation. In the smaller industries, the number of classes of young children attending evening instruction is lamentably small. Take an example. We had an attempt a year or two ago to safeguard the lace industry. I find that, according to the statistics, there is only one class of instruction for young persons engaged in that industry, and only 12 young people attend it. The lace industry depends for its success, first on technical knowledge and secondly on design. If it is to compete with the successful lace industry on the continent, it is obviously important that there should be adequate provision for technical education.


The hon. Gentleman said there is only one class, but surely that is ample provision if only 12 persons attend.


If more opportunities were given, and more encouragement offered, more persons would be ready to attend. Experience in London shows that, where classes are started under capable supervision and are properly run, young people will be inclined to attend. This is one of the things into which I want the Minister to inquire. Is the industry prepared to co-operate, a lid to let its young people have time off? I recently visited Germany, and found in all the industrial centres that no industry is too small and unimportant for technical instruction and technical classes. I visited three big industrial centres, Hanover, Leipzig and Nuremburg, and there every trade is catered for by technical classes in design, mechanics and handicraft, not only theoretical but practical. The manufacturers co-operate, and the Ministers of Education of the various States make it their business to see that the industries do co-operate.


Does that mean compelling the boys and girls to go to these classes?


Yes, there is compulsion; it is willing compulsion, Continuation schools are compulsory throughout Germany. These classes are very popular with young people, and, what is interesting, very popular with the employers, for they found that their workers became more efficient. I said to one of them that, when we started continuation schools here, the country said that they could not afford them. The answer which I got from a German industrialist was that, under the Dawes plan, they have to pay their debts to their late enemies, and the only way they could do that was to make their workers more efficient, and to train them in their craft so that they could get the most efficient and satisfactory results. If the Germans are wasting their money and not getting good results, by all means let us not embark on anything of this kind, but if we find that part of the progress during the last two or three years in many German industries is due to the large amount of time and money spent on technical education, it is time that we put our own house in order. There is no reason why this country should not have as efficient and well organised technical instruction as Germany, or any other country. I do not think that compulsion is practicable, but, in spite of what the hon. Member says, I believe that, if there were more provision for technical instruction, and more assistance from the Board—


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Germany attendance at these schools by young people is part of their apprenticeship, and that they must pass craft examinations under experts before they can be considered to be journeymen?


The hon. Gentleman is quite right. The training is done during the employer's time, and no person can employ young people between 14 and 18 unless he is prepared to allow them to attend day continuation schools before seven o'clock for six or seven hours a week, according to the industry, and according to the particular State where the law is being applied. I want to be perfectly frank with the House and say that I recognise that our country is not prepared to undertake anything of a compulsory nature. We made an experiment in London with continuation schools, and public opinion turned it down. Therefore, we have to look for some substitute, and a substitute which is better than nothing can be found in our evening schools and in our technical schools, though I am afraid the Board is not encouraging them, but is rather inclined to stint them in the matter of money, damping down expenditure on a large scale. At a time when industry is largely in the melting pot, when industrial methods are changing and world competition is increasing, this country, so largely industrial, has a special responsibility to satisfy itself that its workers are technically and scientifically equipped to compete with the workers in other countries. I think this matter is something which is worthy of the attention of the Board.

I have one other word to say on a subject which is akin to this, and that is adult education. It is a very remarkable thing that many young men and women who have left school at 14 realise when they reach the age of 18 the disadvantage of not having attended any form of continuation school during those four intervening years, and all over the country there is a great demand for adult schools in different forms. Various experiments have been made, and in London they have met with great success. The right hon. Gentleman is to visit one of these schools in London next autumn in order to open an extension of the building. I would say to him; "Do not try to make the syllabus too stereotyped; give it as much elasticity as possible, and give every encouragement in the way of grants to this very important form of education."

It is difficult for a working man to go back to school. The ordinary syllabus is a long one. In talking to men, I have often found that the idea of going back to school, and starting to learn again, is not very attractive, and what we must do is to adapt the provisions made to the needs of the case. Let us make the syllabus as broad as possible, and let us not be too particular about the size of the classes; because if we get these young men and women back into an educational atmosphere we shall have done a great deal for their character and towards making them good citizens. We hear much at the present time of the growth of Communism in the country. Assuming for a moment that Karl Marx and his doctrines are wrong, what chance has a boy leaving school at 14 of judging of the merits of these new theories and ideas with which he is brought into contact? If young men and young women are willing to go back into the educational atmosphere at 18, it is the business of the Board of Education to encourage that movement, to stimulate it, and not to do anything, by regulations regarding the size of classes, to make the task of local authorities difficult; rather, it should be made easier for them to start adult classes.


In spite of the resentment which the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) has shown with regard to the County of Essex putting forward the objection which has been so ably explained by my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker), I rise to say a few words in support of the contention of Essex. The figures given by my hon. Friend were of such a convincing nature that it is, perhaps, unnecessary for me to refer to them. I think it has been clearly proved that Essex is suffering materially as a consequence of the very large migration of population which it has received. Essex is a very important county, and one of the largest counties in England, but, unfortunately, it is not one of the wealthiest, and it is suffering from very serious agricultural depression Any further burdens will press upon it with particular severity, and I want the President of the Board of Education seriously to consider whether something cannot be done to lighten its burdens. It has been explained this afternoon that the increase in the matter of rates will amount to something like 9½d. in the £. So far as I am aware, Essex was not consulted about the introduction of the very large number of families who have settled in the district of Becontree. It reminds me of how the Children of Israel came into the Promised Land and found it a land flowing with milk and honey. The people who are flowing to Becontree to-day are getting the milk and honey of education, and the residents of Essex, who have to pay, are naturally protesting, and I wish to voice their protest in this House. Just as I came into the House this afternoon I received a copy of a resolution passed by the Borough of Saffron. Walden, as follows: This Council views with considerable concern the very heavy, increasing and exceptional expenditure thrown upon the County of Essex by the creation of a large township within its borders by the London County Council, and asks the Essex County Council to continue their efforts to secure some contribution towards these expenses. It is with that object that I am asking the President of the Board of Education to give this subject serious consideration and to do all that is possible to remove the hardship from which the county is suffering, through no fault of its own. I hope the Minister may be able later to tell us that he has the matter under consideration and that there is some hope of early relief.


My name appears on the Order Paper in support of a reduction of the Vote, but for reasons which are entirely distinct from those which have already been advanced by other speakers; and I would explain, further, that it is in no carping spirit, nor with any wish actually to reduce the Vote, that I support the Amendment. The subject I am raising concerns the pensions of teachers, and I wish to call attention to the inequalities suffered by a certain section of teachers under the control of the Board of Education. The section to which I refer are commonly known as supplementary teachers. I have no doubt that that title would apply to a majority of the so-called supplementary teachers, and I am not concerned very much with those. The class with whom I am concerned cannot, to my mind, rightly be described as supplementaries, because some of them have given 20, 30 or 40 years' service to the State; they have been given certificates of competency by the Board as being fit and proper persons to act as teachers, and those certificates have been confirmed every year. I understand there are 9,000 of them. I am prepared to admit that at least 50 per cent, of them have no proper and reasonable claim, and for those I am not making any very strong appeal, but I do specially plead for the others. I am not so much concerned about those who were appointed during the War or since the War, but I am very much concerned at the continued recruiting of such teachers. In view of the large number of other teachers available, I think it is time the education authorities made up their minds once and for all to stop recruiting what are really and truly described as supplementary teachers, because in my opinion it is entirely unnecessary and unwarranted.

I should say that, on the whole, the people for whom I am appealing do not cover more than 2,000 out of the total. They are people who in spite of their long service to the State have been shut out from all recognition. Legislation has been passed from time to time, and Burnham scales and all the rest of it set up, but they have never had a voice in these matters, simply because they were included in what is known as the supplementary class. Nobody will have them. They have applied to be admitted to the National Union of Teachers. A deputation waited on the National Union of Teachers, but the Union will not admit them to membership. Deputations of them, accompanied by myself, have more than once been received by the President of the Board of Education, and J have to admit that it was made evident to us that there are great difficulties in the way of acceding to their request, but I do not think those difficulties are insurmountable, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman and others responsible with him will reconsider the situation. In order to secure some standing for themselves they formed a separate association, under the title of Uncertificated Teachers. And yet, strange to say, those uncertificated teachers who had reached the matriculation stage, and had not received their certificate were accepted by the Board of Education and the National Union of Teachers, and they have become members. I have in my possession a report from one of the inspectors, speaking in eulogistic terms of the general conduct and intelligence of these supplementary teachers.

What are the arguments against them? The first is that they are not certificated, and they have not received the certificate of a college education. They are cheap, and they are taken advantage of for that particular reason by the managers of schools, arid the education authorities are also accused of having exploited them in that direction. Whether the President of the Board of Education will be able to absolve himself from that charge I do not know; that rests entirely with the right hon. Gentleman. That fact alone has prejudiced the case of these people. It has been said that young women simply take on this job for pocket money, but I strongly repudiate that statement.

It has been stated that by admitting these teachers to membership of the pensions scheme and to the National Union of Teachers—an institution for which I have the greatest respect and regard—that would raise them to the status of civil servants. Why not? If they are capable of passing the examination of His Majesty's inspectors, why should they not be treated like anybody else? They have the imprimatur of the Government inspector, to the effect that they are perfectly capable people. What these people want is an opportunity and a proper avenue of employment so that they can raise themselves to the existing status of the National Union of Teachers. At present that union will not have them and they are treated as outcasts, Let me point out the inconsistency of adopting this course. Even in the National Union of Teachers there is a very wide distinction in the payment of salaries according to sex. The men teachers get considerably more than the women teachers, and the National Union of Teachers have agreed to that.

Viscountess ASTOR



In a matter of this kind I would like the National Union of Teachers to be consistent.


Is it not a fact that the salaries agreed to by the National Onion of Teachers were the salaries laid down by an independent arbiter, Lord Burnham?


I was reminded of that by the President of the Board of Education when I went before him with a deputation and his reply to me was, "What can we do? If we include them they will have to accept the Burnham scale." Of course they could not prevent that, but why lay down such a condition and then quote cheapness as an argument against these teachers, when the members of the National Union of Teachers themselves have drawn a distinction in the matter of salaries between men and women? The teachers employed under Poor Law authorities are not, in the truest sense of the word, teachers, in fact they are more nurses than teachers. They have not got a university certificate, and all they have to do is to prove to the satisfaction of the President of the Board of Education that they have had five years service under the Poor Law and then they are included in the pensions scheme. Why have this distinction? It is argued that during their period of 20, 30 or 40 years service, surely they have had an ample opportunity of qualifying as certified teachers.

Let us examine the question a little more closely. The persons I am appealing for are the children of the ordinary working classes. Some of them are prepared to struggle on as teachers, and they are making every effort to take the fullest advantage of our educational system. I know a case where one of these teachers won a local scholarship worth £40 a year, and, of course, that had to be supplemented by further assistance in order to carry that scholarship to its logical conclusion, but sheer poverty was an obstacle. Some of these people who have been called supplementary teachers have won scholarships, and their poverty has prevented them following up their success. I know of cases in my own constituency of the daughters of working-class parents, some of them the daughters of widowers and others the daughters of invalid mothers, who in addition to earning money to assist the narrow family budget, have to take over the domestic cares of the household, and at the same time follow their vocation. What opportunity have they got to secure the benefit of our educational system?

Let me give a typical case of what occurred in my own domestic experience. My mind travels back to the time when as a lad I was dragged from the school at the age of 10 in order to work for a wage of 2s. 6d. per week on a 12 hours shift in the constituency which I have now the honour to represent in this House. I was one of a family of six. My father, owing to an accident in the early days of his marriage, was advised by the doctor to give up physical labour and in order to get a living he adopted the profession of a packman and he went round to country fairs. My mother—God bless her!—was a lady in every sense of the word; in fact, one of nature's ladies. My father died before he reached middle age, and my poor old mother took over the burden of the household. She took over the business of my father and travelled around the country with a pack on her back. I had a younger brother who was delicate in health, and my mother's ambition was to make him the gentleman of the family; and by making very great sacrifices she kept him at. school in order that he might take full advantage of our educational system. This went on for years. After a great struggle, my brother became a schoolmaster, and when he died he was the headmaster of a school in Liverpool.

I had a sister who possessed the same ambition as my younger brother. She was a woman of ability and considerable intelligence and she wished to take advantage of our educational system; she also had to forgo her opportunity and her ambition and take her mother's domestic duties in the home in order to meet the cost of her brother's education. To achieve this end further sacrifices had to be made, and I myself had to brave the terrors of the Western Ocean in consequence and deny myself many necessities. My case is typical of hundreds and thousands of cases that exist to-day. In the plea I am putting forward to-day I am not asking for anything very extraordinary. I am simply pleading for these unfortunate women teachers who are respectable members of the ordinary working-class, who have done 20, 30 and in some cases 40 years' service and who at the end of that time have been denied the opportunity of subscribing to a pension scheme. I appeal, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman, and I also appeal strongly to the National Union of Teachers, whose slogan is, "Educate, educate, educate," and whose aim is to elevate, evolve and improve the intelligence of the people—their platform slogan for the abolition of poverty. In this respect they are attempting God's work. Let them carry this out to its logical conclusion in God's own way: Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Viscountess ASTOR

It is well that the Committee should have heard a speech like that of the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton). We have all realised his great qualities, and now we know why he is such a gentleman. His mother was a lady. I am glad that he has told the Committee the story of his struggle for education. One thing that moves me greatly is the thought that there are so many hundreds of children who really are fit to take education and cannot get it, and also that there are so many children who can get education and will not take it. I do not know which is the more tragic. Some of us feel so strongly about education that we dare to criticise our own party, and I must say that we on this side are much quicker to criticise our party than are hon. Members opposite. We can do it with freedom and stay in the party, and, therefore, we who believe in freedom are very glad to hear the hon. Member for St. Helens daring to attack any part of his party, and even the National Union of Teachers. I want to congratulate the President of the Board of Education, because I like to congratulate any Minister when I can, and, above all, I like to congratulate my party when I can, but I have never said, "My party right or wrong," and I would not say, "My country right or wrong." That is a blind, stupid point of view, and that is why I deplore the attitude of people who have that narrow point of view, and stand up for their party whether it be right or whether it be wrong, instead of trying to fight what is wrong in their party and to help it to go on the right way. That is not a very popular attitude, I know, and I would not advise anyone desiring to better their position to follow me.

I have no desire to better my position, but, as the Committee knows, I am ardent where children are concerned, and this question of education affects children so much that I hope the President of the Board of Education will forgive me if I criticise him, but before doing so I want to congratulate him. No one in the Committee has congratulated him over the Budget, though perhaps it has been noticed that he has succeeded in getting the percentage grant system for education, although there was a time when we were all terrified about the block grant. I realise that in getting the percentage grant system he has won his fight against the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I congratulate him also on the increase in the number of new school buildings, although we must deplore the fact that there are still 544 schools in England and Wales which have been condemned by the Board of Education as unfit for use. These 544 condemned schools provide accommodation for 140,000 children, who are thus compelled to spend several hours of every day in surroundings which are likely to damage their health and are certain to hamper instruction. That is a very serious matter, and, although I congratulate the President on the increase in the number of new schools, I implore him not to stop fighting wherever it is necessary to fight, and not to leave too much to the local authorities.

I must also congratulate him on the decrease in the size of the classes for children over 11; but, on the other hand, I understand that there has been an increase in the size of the classes for children under 11, and I think the statement in the report, regarding this matter is rather feeble. The report says: Further classes ought not to be made of uniform size without regard to the age and attainments of the pupils. I would ask the Committee how on earth can anyone teach children when there are more than 25 in a class? Think of the money that we are wasting on these large classes. Personally, rather than give a woman a class of 60 children to each in a room, I would let her take them out and play games with them. It is almost impossible to teach such large classes of children, and I do hope that the Board will continue to press this matter, and will not deal with it in the, as t think, rather feeble manner that they have. I also regret very much that the grants for universities and colleges in Great Britain and for intermediate education in Wales have been cut down by £200,000 this year. That seems to me to be a bad point, because we know that it is very desirable to get teachers with a university training. Perhaps my information in regard to this is wrong, though I got it on the very best authority, and, at any rate, I hope the Minister will give some explanation on this matter.

With regard to the Hadow Report, it may be thought to be going back, but we must adhere to the first part, and consider very seriously the question of raising the school-leaving age. It is 18 months since the Hadow Report was made, and when it was issued it was looked upon all over the country as one of the greatest reports that had ever been made on the subject of education. The President of the Board of Education, however, issued with it a letter in which he said he could not then raise the school-leaving age because to do so would gravely disturb the balance of some of the most comprehensive of the local education authorities' programmes.


The Minister has no power except by legislation to raise the school age.

Viscountess ASTOR

The Hadow Report has already been referred to by one or two other speakers. Perhaps I might ask the President if he could bring the matter before the House, and leave it to the House, if he has no power himself.


With a view to the development of the Debate, may I ask whether it is not possible for the Minister by administrative action to encourage the raising of the school-leaving age? Is not the Noble Lady pointing to the fact that, instead of encouraging it by administrative action, he has discouraged the raising of the school-leaving age, and is it not, therefore, within the purview of this Debate to discuss such a matter in relation to administrative action by the Minister?


I understand that it is not within the authority of the Minister, and the Minister could not be asked to reply on that question, because it would need legislation to give him the power.

Viscountess ASTOR

The letter sent out by the President to local authorities said that the Government did not propose to raise the school-leaving age, as it would dislocate the programmes of the local authorities. He is always sending out communications to the local authorities, and, therefore, it seemed to me that I might ask him a question on this matter. The local authorities themselves have said that they could do it, not in five years, but in six years, and I wanted to ask him to reconsider the matter, and, instead of telling the local authorities that its was not possible, to give them a lead, and say that it would be possible with their consent within six years. Everyone who knows anything about education realises that the school-leaving age will have to be raised sooner or later, and what we want to do is to get it in train, and bring about the necessary reorganisation referred to in the Hadow Report. Simply to say that the school-leaving age is going to be raised in six years' time would in itself do nothing; what is required is the reorganisation of the whole system under the Hadow Report, and what we are hoping is that the President of the Board of Education, having already won one battle with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will also win this battle. I do not know who is against him in this matter, but I am certain that it is not Parliament or the country at large, though it may be the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer is becoming very progressive, and I hope that the President of the Board of Education will do what he can.

Another matter that I want to urge is that of nursery schools. The Minister of Health yesterday made the House almost shudder when he talked about rheumatism and all the different diseases that one could catch. I do not want to deal with the diseases that one can catch, but to bring before the Committee the condition of children in crowded areas who go to elementary schools. The average proportion of children entering nursery schools at two years of age who are rickety is from 80 to 90 per cent., and within one year all cases of rickets are cured in open air nursery schools. The average proportion of diseased and delicate children entering elementary schools at the age of five is from 30 to 40 per cent., while the average proportion of children who have attended a nursery school between the ages of two and five is only 7 per cent. If the Government would press on with these nursery schools in crowded areas, rickets could be practically entirely eliminated. The birth rate is going down, and thank goodness for it. I do not believe in large rickety families; I would rather see small healthy families than large rickety ones. I am perfectly certain that no Member of the House who visited the Margaret Macmillan nursery school, and saw what it is possible to do in crowded slum areas, would think any expense too great to save the children in those areas from these diseases, which otherwise are bound to continue.

6.0 p.m.

We who have the advantage of looking after our children cannot visualise what it is in crowded areas for a mother with four or five young children. Where are children between two and three going to play? There is only the street. If you can get these young children into nursery schools, you can guarantee to eliminate rickets. I do not think it is so much a question for the Minister of Education, but he can settle it with the Minister of Health. The Government should not suggest it to local authorities, but should press it on them and make it compulsory in crowded areas. The Board is apt to leave things which are a great necessity to the initiative of the local authorities. We should never have reduced infant mortality if we had left it to them. There had to be a central authority pressing on the local authority. If people realised what Sir Robert Morant has done in the way of progressive reforms they would see that you cannot leave these things to local authorities alone. In the matter of maternity mortality, it is the central authority that is going to take a step forward. They cannot leave it to the local authorities.

I beg every hon. Member to look into the question of nursery schools. We have to preserve our children, and there is only one way that we who are living in better conditions can help the children in slum areas, and that is by providing them with nursery schools. It is no good saying that you are going to get rid of slum areas, and that it is impossible to reduce the responsibility of the mothers. It is absurd to talk about the responsibility of the mother with four or five children in one room in a slum area. Go and see for yourselves. It would not only improve their health, but one of the problems of the slum is the slum mind, and in these nursery schools you get hold of the children and teach them to live together, like our children are taught, how to get on together in peace, and how to play together. One of the teachers told me that the worst children with whom they have to deal are those who come out of the very crowded areas. It takes three or four months to get them to act normally. They grab and fight, as people do when they are too near together. Every married woman knows that. Human nature cannot stand overcrowding. When these children who come from the worst homes are sent to nursery schools they become quite natural and normal. I beg the Minister not to leave it to local authorities, but to put it at the head of his programme along with the other progressive things which the Unionist party are now going for. Do not say that it is permissive. Let us say that it must be done.

Hon. Members opposite have talked about our national schools and wished we had national schools to which all classes would go as they do in Australia, Canada, and America. In many ways that is a splendid thing. The worst about this country is that when a man, no matter of what class, gets a little money he wants his children to go to a little better school. It is not always that he wants a better education. It is snobbery. I regret this class-consciousness, but I do not think it is confined to one class. It goes from top to bottom, and it is an ugly thing wherever it is found. I look forward to the time when our national schools will have smaller classes and better buildings, when there will be no class consciousness and our children will all go to school together. But I should never send my child to a school where they had classes of 60. I beg the Minister not to make excuses for the past. We realise that he has had to do things of which he did not approve, and things he did not want to do, but it was on account of finance. Let him go ahead with his progressive policy, but remember, in our fight against ignorance, a great deal of our trouble is because of the teaching of Communism, and Communism came from a country where 90 per cent. of the people could not read or write. I believe in democracy and in education. If the Minister wants education he has got to fight for it. There are very few people who really believe in education. You will only find so many Members over there, and so many over here, who really see the possibilities of education. You need not tell me you put it in your trade union programme. It is always at the bottom of the programme, and you never get to it. Having a thing in a programme is quite different from having it in your heart. This is in the heart of every mother, whether she be rich or poor, and we beg the Minister to go ahead and convert the House, as he has converted the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


It is interesting to hear the Noble Lady declare herself as a birth controller. That is one of the ways or keeping down expenditure on education. I want the Minister to make a statement regarding his visit to the mining areas. I asked him last week whether he would be prepared to issue a report as to the object of his visit and the conclusions he had arrived at. He did not feel that it would be wise to issue a report, and I want him to make a statement now. Either by him or by the Prime Minister, we were led to believe that he was going to make inquiries into the condition of the miners' wives and children. Since he was in Durham, one has been talking with some of the people whom he met, and I know he not only visited schools but had various conversations. We have been led to believe again and again that something was going to be done for the miners' children, and in this case the wives also. Are we going to be disappointed again? The Noble Lord cannot feel justified in regarding his visit as something that is secret. He ought really to be glad of the chance of explaining what, is going to be the result. Did he inquire into the feeding of the children, whether they were properly fed or if there were some need for some out- side agency to come in and help? Did he make inquiries as to whether they were properly clothed, and whether there was any need for some outside agency to help in clothing them? During the whole of the dispute in 1926 the county education committee fed the children. Does the Noble Lord consider there is, a need for the education committee to recommence feeding them? When I saw that the right hon. Gentleman was going to the mining areas, I offered to make a bet with a friend that it would all end in smoke, and that we should get nothing from it. I am wondering whether I was justified or not.

There is one other matter I should like to mention. Two years ago the Minister took away a schoolmaster's certificate. I imagine he would not be in Durham without discussing this with some of the people he met. Did he do so, and has he come to the conclusion that the time has arrived when he should restore that certificate? I met the schoolmaster only a week ago, and he is still out of employment, after two years, for caning two children. I ask the Minister, very quietly but very sincerely, whether he does not think the punishment has been sufficiently great—as a matter of fact, too great?

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

I ought perhaps to apologise to the Committee for not having made a statement on the Estimates at the beginning of the Debate, but I wished to defer my speech in case anyone wished to ask me that kind of personal question which the hon. Member has just asked. I can make no statement on the last subject he has mentioned.


Does the Noble Lord mean that the matter is finished with entirely?


I said I could make no statement upon it.


Will the Noble Lord receive a deputation of Durham Members on the matter of the dismissal of the head teacher, Mr. Towers?


I wish to deal with the question of the children in the distressed areas.

Viscountess ASTOR

Will the Noble Lord tell the Committee how often he has been down a mine?


When we had a Debate on this subject a little while ago, I expressed the view that the provision of boots and clothing for the children had better he taken up by a private and non-official body. That has, as hon. Members know, been done. I then said that as regards the feeding of children I thought that what was needed was feeding on a medical certificate, strictly a selecting the children according to their state of malnutrition rather than taking children merely because they belong to a necessitous family. I expressed the hope that if that were done the deductions by the guardians from the relief received by parents for those children would not be continued in those cases. With regard to South Wales, I am now able to tell the Committee that the Rhondda, and Glamorganshire, in certain parts of the area, are now giving milk meals in the middle of the day to children on medical certificates, and both the Bedwellty and the Pontypridd Guardians have agreed that on that basis they will make no deductions from the parents' relief. That, I think, was the thing which mainly needed to be done in South Wales in the matter of feeding the children. Perhaps I ought to add that we have told the medical officers of health of the various local authorities in South Wales that we think that that is the way in which the local authorities should proceed if they wish to feed children and deal with cases of malnutrition.


Is that the only means? Is it only one meal a day?


The meal which is now being given in Rhondda and Glamorganshire is a milk meal in the middle of the day.


Only on school days?


I really cannot answer that question at this moment.


This is the most important thing you are going to discuss.

Viscountess ASTOR

Oh, nonsense. Let us get on with the business. {Interruption.]

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope)

I must point out that the Noble Lord and other hon. Members can speak twice, and, if hon. Members are not satisfied with what the Noble Lord says, they can press the matter, and they can speak again.


There was no desire to arrest the right hon. Gentleman, but he started to explain and we only asked whether milk meals are being given on five days a week or on seven days?


That, I am afraid, I really cannot answer at this moment. I do not know whether they are feeding the children simply on five days, or on six or on seven days. I think it is only on five days. As regards Durham, I not only visited the Durham area the other day, but some medical inspectors of mine went up there and inspected many schools. I am considering the results of that investigation now. Broadly speaking, what applies to South Wales applies to Durham, namely, that that system of milk meals, on a medical certificate is probably the best way of dealing with cases of malnutrition and is a better way than merely giving dinner in the middle of the day at a canteen to all children whose parents are necessitous. I think that it ought to be kept strictly on a medical basis, for it is medical malnutrition which is really the chief danger to the children in these areas. That is roughly the situation at the present moment, and I shall be very glad to tell the Committee more as soon as I have formed a definite conclusion as to whether anything further than that is needed in Durham.


Does that really mean that a child cannot get food until a medical certificate is given?


It means that I am describing what is practically the system in London.


Does not this mean that the children go to school and have to remain there until midday without any food at all?


The hon. Gentleman is apparently assuming that a large proportion of these children go to school without breakfast. That, as far as South Wales is concerned, I think, is rare at the present moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I have been down there and my representatives have been down there, and I think it is rare. It may not be rare in Durham, and that is precisely one of the questions I shall have to consider.


Has the Noble Lord inquired not only into the condition of the children but into the condition of the miners' wives? Is he going to take any steps with regard to them?


I am afraid I cannot within the rules of order deal with that question to-day. That really does not come within my official responsibility. To pass to the general question of these Estimates, the right hon. Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) opened what he said was to be a kind of general attack upon the record of the Government. He opened with one or two, what he admitted to be, trivial instances, but which, he said, were instances which were happening all over the country. He then only dealt with big questions of educational policy in a very broad and vague way. He made a few vague and general statements. The only thing I can say about those statements is that all of them are quite demonstrably inaccurate, as he stated them. We were told that, of course, I had not got up to speak because I had nothing much to say, as last year was a very quiet year. That was not a very gracious thing to say when the right hon. Gentleman knew quite well the reason why I did not get up. He said that last year had been such a year of inaction.

I think he knows quite well that in regard to the matters of which he was particularly speaking, the subject of buildings, the large classes and so on, that last year was the biggest building year there had been since the War. Moreover, the amount of capital expenditure approved by the Board is a very great deal above any previous year either before the War or since. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like the figures. Last year the figure was £6,474,000 against £4,488,000 in 1924–25. If he looks at the figures he knows perfectly well that there is no slackening at all, but that there has been a steady progress in building. Next he says that I am the bright boy of the Treasury because my Estimates have been reduced! He knows quite well that they have not been reduced, and that last year I spent, for good or for ill, £870,000 more than he spent in 1924–25. This year my Estimates are higher than last year on a comparable basis, and the apparent reduction is entirely due to adjustments in regard to contributions in respect of teachers' pensions and so on. One more general statement which he made which bears no—[Interruption].

Mr. COVE rose


The hon. Member must really allow me to continue. I have given way on several occasions.


On a point of Order. The Noble Lord did not explain his Estimates at the outset. Now he is making certain statements with regard to the Estimates which absolutely puzzle and bewilder me, and he says that there is no decrease. I merely ask him how he makes that out. Will he kindly, for the convenience of the Committee, enter into a litle more detail to show that these Estimates have increased rather than decreased? After all, I require enlightenment, and I am sure the Committee do.


I will come to that in a moment. I have assumed that the hon. Member had done me the honour of reading the memorandum on the Estimates.


I cannot understand the figures.


If the hon. Gentleman cannot understand them in print, he may not be able to understand them when he hears them from me. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle, with another of his sweeping statements, said there were only, I think, 42 more teachers in 1927 than there were in 1925. That was a reference to a particular page in the Report. I admit that that page might lead to a misapprehension, but actually there are about 2,480 more teachers, and not 42 as was stated. I think that the general condemnation of the Government's policy perhaps rather falls to the ground, when it is stated in those exaggerated and quite baseless terms. I think I shall be able to show to the Committee, and to my Noble Friend the Member for Sutton (Viscountess Astor), who takes such an interest in this question, and to others, that so far from the Government being weak or slack or deficient in energy or in devotion to the national policy of education, the reverse is actually the case. In previous years I have regretted that the Education Estimates were discussed late in the Session, but to-day I am inclined to regret that we have them so early.

There are, after all, only two questions in educational policy which really matter at this moment—better education for the older children in the elementary schools and better opportunities for the further education of those children after they leave. In other words, the re-organisation and development of the elementary schools and the fuller use of our technical schools are the real subjects that matter at the present moment. Taken together, as they should be, they represent a profound change in the whole structure and conception of our national system of education. I am preparing reports on both of these subjects which, I hope, will be issued very shortly, setting forth more clearly than I can expect to do in a speech, the lines upon which I believe that national policy should proceed in the future. I will try to do my best to deal with those subjects this afternoon, but I should have been better able to do so had I been able to refer to those forthcoming reports on the re-organisation of elementary schools and on technical education.

Perhaps I can best introduce this subject to the Committee by asking them to consider what progress has been made during the past three years with regard to the policy which I outlined to the Committee when I presented my first Estimates in 1925. I assume, in spite of what the hon. Member for Welling-borough (Mr. Cove) has said, that hon. Members have seen and have before them the memorandum on the Board's Estimates, and the Report of the Board of Education which this year is issued in a new form, including the statistics which in previous years have only been published in September. I think the Report itself is shorter; at any rate, it only contains about 90 pages as against 140 pages in previous years, and is in a more readable form. The information in it is fresher because it carries down the story of our administration to the end of the preceding calendar year. I hope that that Report will appeal to a wider public than before and will be for the better information of the public generally concerning the history and the state of our education.

I come to consider what has happened during the last few- years. Let me dismiss in a few words, because I have dealt with it so often at length, what I may call the housemaid's work of education, the clearing up, the sweeping away of material defects in our elementary schools. It was to this subject that the right hon. Member for Newcastle, Central, devoted most attention in his speech. Three years ago, bad school premises and large classes were generally regarded, even by educational reformers as, perhaps, theoretically undesirable but as a necessary evil. Anyone who has had experience of educational administration will agree with that statement. We have now, for the first time, made these material defects the subject of an accurate survey and continual scrutiny, and I cannot agree that the progress made has not been great, considering that we are at the end only of the first year of the programmes of the local authorities, and that it is hardly more than two years since the local authorities and the voluntary bodies had a real opportunity of considering not merely the black list as a whole but the actual reports and criticisms of the inspectors in regard to the individual schools with which they were required to deal. Considering that little more than two years have elapsed, I think the progress made has been very great.

Some 37 per cent. of the schools on List A have either been removed from the black list or plans for remedying or replacing them have been definitely aproved by the Board. Taking all the compartments of the black list, as the report shows, actually 700 schools have either been removed or plans have been definitely approved for remedying them within two or two and a half years. I cannot agree that that is slow progress. This is a thing which has been neglected for at least; a quarter of a century. It was neglected, I may remind the right hon. Member for Newcastle, Central, who criticised me so violently, during the time that he was at the Board of Education, in less happy circumstances, before the War. We cannot expect to make up the ground that we have lost, in three years or in five years. Now, for the first time, the question of large classes and the question of the black-listed schools are accepted by everyone, by the local authorities, by the Church of England, by the Roman Catholic Church in regard to their schools not merely as a theoretical end to aim at but as a definitely practical and feasible policy, and they are working towards it. Apart from the very real progress we have made during the past three years, the general acceptance of that principle as a definitely practical and feasible thing is a great and, indeed, a surprising advance, compared with the situation three years ago.

I am told that the reduction of large classes is hanging in the wind; that I have not proceeded fast enough with it. Even in spite of the very slight setback that we experienced last year, we still have 19 per cent. fewer classes of over 50 to-day than we had in March, 1924. The right hon. Gentleman says that he does not think very much of the reasons for the setback which are given in the Report. If he had listened carefully to the speeches of the two hon. Members who spoke for the County of Essex, if he had knowledge of a housing estate like that at Becontree, or any of the other large housing estates throughout the country, he would realise some of the appalling difficulties which local authorities have to face. I have figures, for instance, relating to one school on a housing estate where the number of children of six years of age is four times the number of children of the age of 13. Consider the difficulty of reducing the size of classes, when you have to build schools for an abnormal age distribution of children of that kind! It is there where the number of large classes have gone up. It is the particular local authorities who have to deal with these new housing estates who have experienced a setback in the reduction of large classes. I have carefully gone into the conditions in every area where the conditions cause anxiety in regard to the setback, and I believe that the figures of last March will show a very substantial improvement.

As additional class-room space is provided we are increasing the establishments of teachers in each area where the additional space is provided. For example, next year, 1928–29, the approved establishments of teachers will be, I hope, 1,500 more than they were, or that the local authorities could use, in 1927–28. Housemaid's work, important though it may be, does not in itself make a home; as many a husband in the midst of spring cleaning knows, it may make a home very uncomfortable. The mere replacement in situ of the old school buildings or the mere addition to them of extra class rooms, or the rushing up of children from the junior forms into the senior forms, prematurely, simply because the junior forms are crowded and senior forms empty, may provide a remedy a great deal worse than the disease, and schools rebuilt where they ought riot to be rebuilt may become a positive bar to progress.

This brings me to the great constructive reform which has taken shape during the past three years. Almost immediately after I came into office I issued Circular 1350, advising and urging local authorities to establish the principle of a break at 11 years of age; that is, that the old undifferentiated elementary school, stretching and straggling vaguely from five years to 14 years, must go, and must be replaced by a primary school for children up to the age of 11, and by secondary and senior schools of various types for children of the age of 11 onwards. That policy has been reinforced and expounded with great force and cogency by the Hadow Committee. Three years ago that policy was, in part, unfamiliar to the country and, in part, definitely distasteful to certain sections of opinion, and to certain sections of opinion inside this House. Nothing has been more remarkable in the last three years, as showing the advance we have made, than the fact that now that policy, that principle, is accepted practically by every section of opinion in every area, and by none more warmly and more whole-heartedly than the National Society which speaks for the Church of England schools. The general acceptance of that new principle has enabled me to prepare the Report on the reorganisation of elementary schools and the provision of general secondary and senior education, and I am accompanying that Report with a Circular dealing with a point which has caused a good deal of difficulty and difference in the past, namely, at what definite programme of work local authorities should aim in carrying out the principle.

The Hadow Committee felt very strongly the necessity of setting a definite goal before the local authorities and of setting them a definite time-table. They suggested that the goal and timetable at which the local authorities should aim should be to provide by the year 1932 accommodation for all the children who would be in their schools in 1932, if the school age were raised from 14 to 15. I cannot discuss that particular recommendation now, within the rules of Order, but I think it has now been generally agreed that whether the school age were raised or not local authorities could not provide by 1932 or 1933 accommodation for all children between 11 years and 15 years, because about that time there will be an entirely temporary transitory "bulge" in the senior school population, for which it would be impossible to provide at that date. I am, therefore, in my Circular, suggesting that the definite programme at which local authorities should aim is the provision f accommodation by 1933 for all children who will be in attendance at the senior schools on the basis of the present law, and that all such schools should be so planned as to be able to provide, as and when required, a full four years' course. That, I think, is the best basis for a definite programme of work.

I do not think that we should have been able to launch a programme of this kind, for it is an enormous programme, had it not been for another innovation of the last three years, the introduction of the programme system, by which we have applied the method of accurate survey to all the problems of educational administration. We have now definite programmes and definite estimates in advance, and with the experience gained in this first programme period of 1927–30, I hope that the next programme period for 1930–33 will gain a great deal in definiteness, and will be concentrated more clearly and in a more businesslike way on this one great central reform at which we are aiming. This great central reform does not depend upon mere administrative plans or mere bricks and mortar. It depends also upon the training of the teachers who are to develop and carry on the new form of senior education. This senior education is not to be only elementary education, advanced; it will be something better.

Our system of training teachers for elementary schools has been amazingly successful in the technique of teaching children; but there has been a growing desire for a very long time past amongst the students of our training colleges for wider opportunities for study, and that desire has shown itself in the development of closer relations between the training colleges and universities in many parts of the country. The result of the work of the last two or three years is that we have established this closer relationship between universities and training colleges on a really permanent basis. We held a conference two years ago representing the universities, local authorities, governing bodies of training colleges and the teaching profession, and went into the whole question of bringing the training colleges into closer relations with the universities, and, as a result of that conference, local negotiations have been going on throughout the country.

It has been a very big and difficult task, but, thanks to the keenness and cooperation of all parties concerned, I am able to announce to-night that arrangements have been completed in ten out of the eleven grouped areas into which the country was divided, whereby in each of these areas the training colleges will be grouped with certain universities in the area and a joint board will be formed which will take over the responsibility for conducting examinations for the teaching certificate. Perhaps the Committee will allow me to take this opportunity of expressing my special thanks to Mr. Mayor, formerly Principal Assistant Secretary to the Board of Education, for his invaluable work as Chairman of the Central Committee of the Conference during the negotiations. That scheme is not to be regarded as merely setting up a new form of examination. It is the creation of a common body, with a community of interest between the universities and the training colleges, by which both the universities and training colleges may consider what are the proper courses of study both for university degrees and for the training colleges in connection with the training of teachers. That is a subject which needs a great deal of hard thought. The universities themselves do not by any means accept the present degree courses as the best that can be evolved for intending teachers, and I hope that out of this new matrix, as it were, we shall get a very much improved and greatly strengthened system of training teachers.

Given the administrative planning, and the teaching power necessary to the realisation of our great central reform, what kind of schools are we going to establish? First, there are the secondary schools of the existing type. I will not pause over these because there is not too much time, and I have not been specially asked about the development of our secondary school system. I would remind the Committee that during the last three years we have been putting in hand entirely new secondary school places at the rate of about 8,000 per year. We have taken again an accurate survey of the need for new accommodation for existing schools. In 1923, about 75,000 secondary school pupils were being taught in schools which required either wholly or in part new or extended premises, and we have been able to put in hand the replacement or extension of one-third or possibly one-half of these premises. In view of the burden of replacement, I think it is satisfactory that we should have increased in the last three years the secondary school population by 25,000 and the number of free places—and this is a much later figure than the one already given-4y no less than 21,000.

The criticism is sometimes heard that even with this great growth in school population, the admissions to secondary schools are lower than they were in 1919–20. That is quite true, they are; but apart from the special reasons for an abnormal influx of secondary school population into secondary schools in 1919, it must be remembered that at that time—this is important when you consider the character of the new schools which are to take the children from the age of 11—the secondary schools were not doing the work for which they were specially designed. They were designed for the purpose of carrying children up to the age of 16, but in 1921 the average length of school life after the age of 12 years in secondary schools was hardly more than three years. Since then we have increased the average length of school life in secondary schools by about seven months, and of course you cannot use the same places twice over for new pupils and for old pupils staying longer. When that criticism is made it must be remembered that in 1920 the number of admissions to secondary schools represented about 14 per cent. of the elementary school population of appropriate age; last year it represented 15 per cent., so that although our total number of admissions may not be as high as in 1920, we are yet giving an opportunity to a larger proportion of the elementary school children than we did in 1919.

Next to the existing secondary schools, we shall have a number of other selective schools of the type now known as "central," which will select children from a large number of primary schools, and it is on these central schools that the chief responsibility will fall for working out the courses of study appropriate to the new type of school. These central schools are not the humble camp followers of the existing secondary school army. They are the head of a new advance, the forerunners of a new adventure, the purpose of which is to provide better education for children in the elementary schools who are going on not to a secondary school or other selective school, but into non-selective senior schools as a part of their ordinary school life. This policy of the break at the age of 11 is for all children, not for the few bright and intelligent children. These central schools will have to work out courses suitable to the new form of school. What is required from them is experiment and invention, not a slavish copying of ready-made courses based on semi-academic examinations, such as the Oxford or Cambridge junior local examinations. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) wanted me to start issuing syllabuses on the strict understanding that they should not be definite, but should allow for variation. I agree that the question as to whether the Board of Education should give a lead in the matter of syllabus to these schools is exercising the teaching profession in many areas; and I will only say this to-night, that we do look to the teaching profession in this matter for experiment and invention and we hope they will not content themselves with accepting as a standard ready-made examinations which happen to be to hand but which were really designed for quite different purposes.

I have referred to the opposition which existed in many parts of the country to this new reform. That opposition was largely due to a strangely mistaken idea that the new type of central school was to be a mere substitute, and an inferior substitute, for the secondary school, a kind of finishing education which led to nothing more afterwards. That, of course, is the exact reverse of the truth, and I have been rather impressed by the fact that in Durham, where there was perhaps the strongest opposition a few years ago, they now propose to call their new non-selective senior schools "intermediate schools." I do not know whether that will turn out to be a convenient name, but I am quite sure that it does indicate what must be the essential character of the education in these schools, and indeed the essential character of any education which is worthy of the name. It must lead to definite opportunities for further education after a boy has left school at the ordinary age, whether it is 14 years, 15 years or 16 years. Just consider how new is this conception that education from the age of 11 should lead on to any further opportunities of education after wards. Before this new policy was launched the best thing that even educational reformers could find to do with elementary schools was to establish what are barbarously known as "higher tops" for the older scholars.

I do not pretend to have the same acquaintance with mountain tops as the hon. Member for Central Newcastle, but I have always understood that the great thing about the top of a mountain was that when you were there you could get no further, or at any rate no higher. Unless you are a person with a clear head and strong brain you are liable to fall over the edge; if you are a mountaineer you, of course, descend by a more dignified method. In any case, you arrive at the point of departure. That represents the real fundamental weakness in the whole of our educational system. When you got to the end of the elementary school there was nothing to do for very many children. They could only fall over the edge; and that is what has made so hollow a great deal of the argument one hears constantly about educational economy. People say that in these days of international competition we cannot afford to economise on education; that we have to develop skilled workers for our industries. That is quite true. But if the people on whom you are spending money in the schools are going to be afforded opportunities for higher education it must be after the age of 16, which is the time when they really get the skill and knowledge and ability which is going to help this country in international competition. Merely by raising the school age, merely by heightening the top, you do not get any real improvement unless you provide a path from the summit to the higher summit for all who wish to go on.

7.0 p.m.

That brings me to the second part of my speech—the question of technical education. Technical education, of course, is not an accurate name. A great deal of the education in what are known as technical schools and colleges has very little to do with technology, or even the technique of industry, and, in fact, a good deal of it is not really directly vocational in character at all. But hitherto even that general side of our technical institates has been, as the hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green has said —and it is quite true—in a watertight compartment of our educational system. It has been regarded as something apart from and out of the way of the rest of our national system. This general side has been rather looked down on. It has been assumed that the sort of general education that you get in a polytechnic is, after all, only a makeshift for children who had to leave school too early, and that that is the best you can say of it. The more definitely technical side of education in those institutions has also been looked down on a good deal, owing to the old superstition that a hard and fast line can be drawn between general and vocational education, and that only the liberal studies really deserve the name of education and everything else is a mere matter of functional training. Those prejudices and superstitions have contributed to putting technical education in a watertight compartment. But now that we are developing this definite system of secondary and senior schools for children from the age of 11, we are able to bring the whole of the work of these institutions into integral relationship with our educational system as a whole.

The hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green said that he wanted me to inquire into matters of technical education. As he knows, I received the Emmott Committee and I made a statement to them. I promised to undertake a whole system of inquiries into education for particular branches of commerce and industry and in different parts of the country. I explained to them that we had reorganised our inspectorate during the last three years, so that we had for the first time an intelligence service which I thought we could really ask to survey the position as a whole, and one which was not entirely absorbed in minute administrative detail and minute inspection of individual schools. I outlined a whole programme of inquiries. I hope shortly to publish a report showing what are our existing methods of co-operation with industry in technical education and sketching out what I think should be our future policy. If the Committee want to know the kind of result which I hope from this new programme, it can be seen from what has recently happened in Yorkshire—a rather remarkable occurrence.

The Board's Inspectorate completed last year a thorough inquiry into the whole system of technical education throughout the geographical county of Yorkshire. That report, a few years ago, would have fallen upon sterile ground, and would have passed practically unnoticed. Instead of that, a conference was summoned—it met last April—of all the various local education authorities in the County of Yorkshire, and they have established an elaborate organisation for cooperation between the various local authorities who manage technical institutes in the county and between them and the chief industries in the county, including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, mining, woollen and worsted spinning, cloth weaving, cotton spinning and doubling, and building. Along that kind of line, I believe we can do a great work, and I believe also that anything that we can do will depend on the closest co- operation with employers' and workers' organisations at every stage of our inquiry. That I propose to aim at, and I am considering for the purpose, besides the arrangements for consultations in particular enquiries which I outlined to the Emmett Committee, the setting up of some general arrangement for some form of consultation with employers' and workers' organisations in regard to this whole field of technical education.

That is the machinery that I propose to use for the development and rationalisation of our technical education. What will be the character of that education in the future What kind of opportunities will it offer to children going out from the senior or central or secondary schools to those institutions? Of course the opportunities, and the character of the education will be infinitely varied. It will be as varied as the character of the various branches of industry in this country. But I think one can see the general ideal at which we are aiming. Our technical schools and colleges must become—and here I would ask the attention of lovers of academic education—what one can see that our universities themselves really are, if one remembers their history—institutions whose courses of study have been formed upon a core of vocational requirements, but whose teaching has extended far beyond those requirements, and has in the course of generations profoundly modified those requirements themselves. This process is still going on. To the vocational requirements of the liberal professions have been added quite recently the requirements of the army, of engineering, of the chemical industry and so on. That process is applicable just as much to the technical colleges and institutes, and in a varying degree to the whole range of industrial occupations.

I would ask the Committee to consider whether this does not touch the very root of all social reform. We have today in the modern world what there has never been in the world before—a situation where men are banded together in immense organisations for production or marketing, whether it be the organisation of employers and workers in a particular industry or the organisation of hundreds of thousands of workers in a particular trade union. It is a remarkable thing that for the first time in the his- tory of the country, membership of those great organisations depends on no recognised educational qualifications of skill or knowledge. The qualifications that enable men to enter the trade unions or employment in industry are, generally speaking, not educational at all. They are, in a very large number of industries, only requirements that a boy shall have worked for a number of years before he enters the ranks of skilled workers. There is no such mastercraft examination as the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green mentioned. That goes to the root of a great deal of the difficulty and doubt and confusion in our social structure of the present day. The fact that the manual worker has no opportunity of acquiring that professional status and pride which comes from having conformed to definite educational requirements, having passed examinations or having gone through a definite course of study—it is that confusion and that want in our social structure to-day which education ought to aim largely at meeting and remedying. The development of education in our technical institutes and colleges in co-operation with industry offers, if it be looked at from that point of view, tremendous opportunities for further education, and those are the opportunities at which our new system of senior and secondary schools must largely aim at introducing their scholars.

It is along those lines that the Government are working. It represents a tremendous programme, which will need great efforts to carry out and which is already being carried out step by step, and at which everything we have done in the last three years has been aimed. It involves action not only by the Government and by local authorities, but action by the co-operation of industry and commerce as a whole, and of employers and workers. It means the consideration of the question of whether you can, or how far you can, develop higher education for industry on the basis merely of evening education, and how far evening education is suited for various courses of education for which it is being used to-day. It means the consideration of the whole question of day classes during employers' time, such as are increasingly being organised in various parts of the country in various industries—in the engineering industry in the North West, for instance—and it involves a whole variety of questions of that kind.

Finally, I must say one word, although I have not been challenged to-night on the question of expenditure—at least not challenged in the sense that my expenditure is too high. While I have not been challenged or accused of extravagance I should like to say one word to those who are inclined to ask, very naturally, and as they should ask, "Well, it is a great programme, but what is it all going to cost?" In general reply to that I would say that, as I think the Committee and the country know, we have tried during the last few years to apply to educational finance the same methods of accurate survey and continual scrutiny which I have mentioned in various branches of our administration. We have tried to check any tendency at unreasonable or needless expenditure. We have got the administration of our educational finance on to a very sound basis.

I shall not go into the question of whether the percentage grants are the ideal or best system but, apart from the question of the nature of our grants, our educational finance is on a sound and businesslike basis. What I want to say in general about the question of economy is this: What costs money in educational administration is not comprehensive planning of the kind I have been suggesting to-night; what costs money in educational administration is drifting along. For instance, you may have a large number of small elementary schools gradually becoming obsolete. You may have replaced a particular school, but all the time, because you have indulged in no reorganisation of your schools, you are paying a large number of headmasters' salaries and have a very poor classification of the children in proportion to the teachers, while the number of teachers is higher than would be necessary if you grouped all the schools together, and higher than would be necessary to get a teacher for every class of 30 children. It is that sort of thing which costs money and which leads to administrative waste.

If that is true of the reorganisation of our elementary schools, it is even more true of technical education. What costs money in technical education is the automatic expenditure which comes from a, continual flow of students into a technical institute for this or that subject, some of whom may very often not complete their course. They may continue their studies only for six or seven months and never go on with them again. It is that sort of unregulated expenditure which costs money. To have a plan such as I have outlined and go steadily on with a survey of the field, planning and executing your plan as occasion offers and arises is not extravagance. It is not that which costs money. Rationalisation is always cheaper than drifting, and I believe that the kind of policy that I have laid before the Committee to-night will prove in the long run not only a great agent for social reform, but will prove most economical and businesslike.


Has the noble Lord no answer to give, or is he not going to say anything about the question of supplementary teachers which I raised?


I beg the hon. Member's pardon. As he knows, I cannot deal with that point. Although he concealed it very cleverly in his speech, he is asking me whether I cannot change an Act of Parliament passed in 1925, dealing with the superannuation of teachers. I really cannot deal with that.


I am not asking you to do anything of the kind. I am asking you to make Regulations.


In the course of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman has made many interesting observations, and one of the most interesting was that education does not consist in bricks and mortar. That is very true. The school in itself is a social institution, and nothing was more interesting in the Noble Lord's speech than the fact that it showed evidence of an appreciation of a point of view which is rapidly changing throughout the country. A new attitude is growing up towards education and educational institutions. It has unfortunately been the case in this country that there has been a great deal of suspicion existing between employers on the one side and the populace at large as to the effects of education. On the other hand there has been a great deal of suspicion existing among the teaching profession and those engaged in educa- tion, that what employers wanted was someone who would be efficient only for the purposes of their particular industry. The result of that suspicion on the part of the employers and of the teachers was to make the educational system of the country largely inefficient. It was handicapping it and making its development virtually impossible.

If the Noble Lord had said nothing beyond the fact that it was his policy and the policy of the Government to bring about a feeling of good will between the employers on the one side and the teaching profession on the other he could not have said anything which Members on all sides of the House would be more glad to support, if it could be carried out, and if they found that the Noble Lord was pursuing it. By such means they would appreciate that the school was a social institution having social functions and preparing its pupils in co-ordination with the employers and the State. Thus they would make the school an efficient school. For that purpose and for that object the most important school to-day, whatever else might be said, is the elementary school. Only a small proportion of the population go to a secondary school and a smaller proportion still to the Universities. The elementary school is by far the most important school, as far as the great mass of the population of the country is concerned, and it is because of that that one attaches a great deal of importance to the fact that even to-day there are 20,000 classes where the pupils number over 50, making the teacher's task an impossible one. The Noble Lord rightly pointed out that that number was decreasing and was not as great as it was three or four years ago.

We are glad to see that progress is being made, but it still a most urgent part of the elementary school problem. I think it is even more important than the question of raising the school age that you should have efficient teaching in the schools. Coupled with that problem there is another serious problem—the problem of the supplementary teacher. I was looking at a report issued yesterday, and it is a little alarming to find that 2,928 of these huge classes of over 50 are taught by uncertificated teachers and 272 by supplementary teachers. It aggravates your problem to have these large classes placed in charge of the less competent members of your staff. The two things go together—an efficient staff and the size of your classes. The second and major problem is the character of the members of the staff of the school. The best teachers that this country can command should be found to be employed in the elementary schools. It cannot be said at the moment that the provision made for the training of teachers in elementary schools is satisfactory. I regret the new step which has been taken by the right hon. Gentleman in abolishing the preliminary examination—I think it is called the certificate examination—from this year onwards and supplementing therefore an examination to be held by Cambridge and Oxford Universities, on a plan somewhat analogous to the Cambridge local examination. I see no reason why public teachers, instead of sitting for the examination for the preliminary certificate, should not sit for the ordinary University matriculation examination. It could not be said to be too difficult for them. They can be provided with the same educational facilities as other people, and I do not think it can be said that they are not as competent to pass a University matriculation examination as other people from the secondary schools.

I view that matter as important for this reason: Until teaching in the elementary schools is regarded with some degree of respect and of the vocational value, you will not be in a position to draw upon men of the same calibre as teachers in the elementary schools. You will be thrown back upon an inferior class. It may be necessary to remodel the whole of the elementary school system. I do not believe for a moment that the last word in elementary school organisation has been said. We are very much in the position to-day, as regards the mental sciences, as the physical sciences were in 300 years ago. The physical sciences have progressed at a much greater rate than the mental sciences. It is one of the best signs of the times, not so much what has been done, but the experimental attitude in which the advisers of the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman himself regard the educational problem. They are prepared to look upon it as providing a chance of experiment in this way and in that, but they are not tied down to one fixed and irremovable system. That is one of time great hopes of the future, rather than the actual achievement, of the day.

But in that progress, although education may be a good deal more than bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar count, and upon that account I want to ask one or two questions, particularly with regard to the educational system in Wales. I noticed that in the Report on the system of secondary education in Wales the schools are described as belonging to three different categories—intermediate schools, schools under the jurisdiction of the local authority, and some of the endowed schools. I noticed further that some time ago an influential deputation representing the University of Wales and the Central Welsh Board went to the right hon. Gentleman to urge upon him the necessity of appointing a National Council of Education for Wales. He intimated to that deputation that he was not in a position to do that, but that he was prepared to consider the setting up of an Advisory Council. On page 70 of the Report it is stated: Proposals with reference to the constitution of such an advisory council and to the definition of the functions which it might be asked to perform are being explored by a committee of the University Court, and the Welsh Department of the Board of Education have expressed their readiness to co-operate in the preparation of such proposals. That is a very interesting step forward, and I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman, or from the Noble Lady if she replies later, how far these proposals have progressed. The other is this: It concerns university education, and particularly agricultural education. Agricultural education in Wales has been carried on, as far as the university is concerned, in association with two university colleges—the University College of Bangor and the University College of Aberystwith. Grants were paid by the Board to the amount of £3,800 a year to Bangor and Aberystwyth.


That does not come under these Estimates. The Ministry of Agriculture deals with that matter.


Then the only thing I would say is that, in the interests of agricultural education the right hon. Gentleman ought to communicate with the Minister of Agriculture and insist on the maintenance of these grants. If the matter does not come under the right hon. Gentleman's jurisdiction I do not wish to pursue the subject. The main issues at the moment are the staffing of the schools with appropriate and fit teachers and the reduction of the size of the classes. Coupled with those questions is the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan). It is unfortunately the case, particularly in South Wales, that there is serious trade depression and educational progress, in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire especially, is being seriously handicapped by that trade depression. The building policy of the Board has been changed and instead of building 13 new schools as they did last year, the programme has been reduced to four schools. The provision of additional places is fewer by some thousands than it was last year. All this is bound to have a serious effect on the rising generation and the problem is a serious one, not only as it confronts the people who are at present suffering from trade depression, but in relation to the future.

I welcomed one statement in the speech of the President of the Board of Education which seemed to me to open a new avenue in elementary education. It has always struck me that in many elementary schools the position of head-master might be reviewed. The head-mastership of an elementary school is becoming largely an administrative post and one head-master could well administer a group of schools, the schools in the group all working together and the staffs cooperating in a larger field of elementary education. I welcome the spirit and the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The only thing I want to be quite sure about is that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) is right when she says that the right hon. Gentleman has triumphed over the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am not sure that all the followers of the right hon. Gentleman by any means share his enthusiasm. I hope he will be able to convert all his followers to his enthusiasm and pursue a programme of educational progress in the spirit indicated by his speech this afternoon.


So far, this Debate has been characterised by a moderate amount of criticism, a very considerable amount of approval and a remarkable speech from my Noble Friend the President of the Board of Education, outlining a programme of development in central schools and technical schools, and of co-operation in the development of the training of teachers on right lines, between the universities and other authorities. One cannot help feeling a certain amount of sympathy with the Opposition. For the last three years, in the Debates on the Education Estimates, we have heard a great deal of sound and fury and accusation. This time there has been almost as much sound but very little fury because there has been little about which to be furious. This Government suffers from one defect which is shared to a large extent by the President of the Board of Education. That defect is that they do not possess the art of self-advertisement. When we consider what has happened in regard to educational progress during the past three years, it must be confessed that the country has good reason to congratulate the Government.

In the past three years, £18,000,000 has been granted for school buildings as compared with £8,500,000 in the preceding four years. The number of places in secondary schools has increased by 25,000 and the number of free places by 14,000. The arrangements for the training of teachers have been improved. Last year there was spent on education, from the Exchequer and the rates, about £71,500,000 as compared with £69,000,000 in 1924–25. We also find that 600 schools which were on the black list have been dealt with, that there are nearly 2,500 more teachers in the public elementary schools than there were three years ago, and that there are 20 per cent. fewer classes of over 50 pupils. With regard to the question of the size of classes a good deal of nonsense has been talked. I can speak from experience. I have had classes of over 50 and success in teaching such classes depends very much upon a variety of circumstances, such as the type of pupils in the class, the subject which is being taught and so forth.


You could not teach a class of 50—neither you nor anybody else.


I have done so.


You only pretended, as you are doing now.


I admit that if there were many pupils in the class of the type of the hon. Member who interrupts, it would be very difficult. But when the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) says that there should be no class of more than 25 she is not speaking from practical knowledge. If you can manage to get the average class down to 40 in the elementary schools, you are not doing badly. I regret that there are so many classes of over 50 but the number is gradually being brought down. Then, what of the teacher? The man that tanned the hides of us Our ancient foe and friend, as the poem says. I suppose I ought not to refer to the tanning of hides because that is now a class privilege of the idle rich. What has been done in recent years for the teacher? More than had been done for a very long time previously. The Superannuation Act of 1925 has placed the teacher in this country in a better position, as regards superannuation, than the teacher in any other country—I say so without fear of contradiction—and, with regard to salary, the adoption of the Burnham scales, which was hastened and supported by my Noble Friend, has improved enormously the salaries of the teachers. The result is that the position of the teacher in this country is excellent. In other directions the Government have been active. There has been appointed, for instance, a Committee presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Mr. Lamb) to inquire into the training of teachers for rural schools. That Committee I believe is doing excellent work which is referred to in the Board's Report just published. That Report, as the Noble Lord has said, is in a very readable form and it conveys extremely useful information. I find in it, relating to secondary education, a most interesting section on free places. The number of free-place pupils it is stated has grown from something under 45,000 in 1910 to over 131,000 at the present time. That is a considerable advance, and another interesting fact in regard to the free pupils is that they are nearly 40 per cent, of the total number of pupils in these schools.

One reads with great satisfaction that those free pupils are doing excellently, whether we judge by the number who obtain school certificates or by the percentage of secondary school pupils who go to the universities. It is to be hoped that this system will be continually extended. It is a system to which we look to provide leaders in every walk of life. We heard to-day about the desirability of all children going to the same class of schools; about getting the best possible teachers for the elementary schools, and placing those schools in the best possible position. That is what we must aim at, but we can do these things only by degrees. In reference to the development of the selective central school, I should like to have heard the President of the Board of Trade say something about the provision of teachers for these schools. After all, the school depends on the teacher and it is no good providing a school of a certain type, unless you provide a teacher suitable to that type of school, who will develop what is most needed at present in this country—that is, skill and pride of handicraft among our boys and girls.

We have a great national asset in the inventiveness and mechanical aptitude of our boys and girls and it is for us to train that aptitude to the greatest extent possible. How are we going to hold our own in the markets of the world, unless we imbue our young people with that pride of handicraft? We can hold our own in the markets of the world by producing the best goods. We can produce the best goods, and our young people ought to be trained with that end in view. An American friend recently said to me, "There is an enormous market waiting for you in my country. We are quite willing to pay for the best goods. Send them to us." We have to provide those goods and, to a large extent, we must do so increasingly in competition with the rest of the world. We must leave to—I will not say the inferior races but I will say the less developed races—the manufacture of the coarser kind of goods. We must concentrate on the production of the very finest kind of goods. In order to do so, in face of the competition which we have to meet, we must provide in the central selective schools and the intermediate schools the right type of teacher. There is another point, and that is with regard to reciprocal arrangements with the Dominions concerning superannuation. The matter was brought up at the Imperial Conference of 1926. The opinion was expressed that it was most desirable that where possible there should be reciprocal arrangements between the superannuation systems here and in the Dominions. I regret to say that the superannuation systems in the Dominions are of a very fragmentary character, and at present it is not possible to make such arrangements, but I hope some progress is being made.


I am afraid that that can hardly be done without legislation.


I apologise. I will simply add that anything of that nature that would increase the interchange of teachers between this country and the Dominions would be of the greatest advantage to our mutual understanding. I believe that the President of the Board of Education is on the right lines and that his policy is likely very largely to help the object which must be always the object of this House, and that is to make democracy safe for the world.


I wish to say a few words with regard to the Public Libraries Report of last year. The Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education will recall how depressed the House was when it learned about a year ago that the bottom had been knocked out of the Hadow Report, and how we were cheered later when we heard the Noble Lord say last year that so far as the report of the Departmental Committee on Public Libraries was concerned, he meant to do his level best to see that the financial recommendation of £5,000 for the development of the work of the Central Library was carried through. In taking up that position, he has been fortified by all who are concerned in the work of the libraries of this country. I do not think there is a single association dealing with the library movement in this country that did not with great enthusiasm support the recommendations of that Committee a little more than a year ago. The Library Association, the Association of Special Libraries and Information Bureaus, the General Committee of the British Institute of Adult Education, the Seafarers' Education Service, the County Councils Association, and the Association of Directors and Secretaries of Education have all, in the course of the last year, unanimously endorsed the findings of that Report and supported the Noble Lord in the very welcome statement that he made as to the finding of a very modest sum for this important work.

It was with very great regret that on turning up the Estimates this year we observed that this particular sum of money was not provided for, and I should like to ask the Noble Lady whether this is an oversight or whether it is that the President has fought a pitched battle with the Treasury. I confess that I should like to see the Noble Lord, before his term of office expires, take a real stand in a pitched battle with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I can conceive of no more glorious way of crowning his career as Minister of Education than that he should resign on some first class issue upon which he had fought that very right hon. Gentleman. I hope the Noble Lady, at all events, will assure us that perhaps in the course of this year her Noble Friend intends to bring in a Supplementary Estimate in which this sum of money will be included, or that certainly within the next 12 months this very important piece of library development will be carried through. As she knows, it affects most particularly the serious working men and women students of this country. It is not an ordinary library, but is concerned especially with the dear kind of text books to meet the needs of the very choicest working men and women students in the country. It is a subject that appeals very specially to the heart of the Noble Lord, and I want to reinforce the plea of the late Minister of Education for very careful reconsideration of this matter, in order that we may really take it that what was almost the promise of the Noble Lord last year is going to be redeemed at a very early date.

Speaking on this matter of the better provision of the adult education libraries of the country, I am reminded of some questions which have been asked in this House in the last few weeks concerning the activities of the Workers' Educational Association. We have had, from two or three hon. Members, doubts cast on the essentially educational character of that institution. There was one Conservative Member who suggested that the Association, in the work it is doing through the tutorial class movement, was little other than a Socialist organisation. Indeed, one hon. Member at Question time suggested that it was even a Communist organisation, and so far as I could gather the ground for this extraordinary accusation was that somewhere or other there was a tutor who had political convictions presumably either of a Socialist or a Communist character. It is very important that it should be made clear in this House—and I am speaking in this connection as one who has rendered many years of very happy service as a tutor for the Educational Workers' Association—that investigation into the private political opinions of members of the teaching profession is very undesirable on the part of anybody, and least of all on the part of Members of this House.

I do not know of any more difficult piece of teaching work than that which is associated with the Workers' Educational Association, for they have to handle not only the natural sciences, but perhaps their most difficult work is that of handling subjects of controversy, the problems of modern citizenship and industry, and it is necessary, therefore, that they should set before themselves the very highest ideals of education. We, on this side, should never dream of questioning the fundamental test that a man is really competent to teach his subject and has a special capacity for teaching in this direction, and the last thing that we, as Socialists, should ever dream of would be to conduct a private inquiry into the political opinions of the members of that particular profession.

I hope the Noble Lady, if subsequent speakers from the Tory benches should repeat what. I must call these slanderous allegations against what I believe to be one of the noblest parts of the British teaching profession, will make it quite clear that the Board of Education does not exist to make discriminations against Workers' Educational Association teachers, or any other branch of the teaching profession, on the ground of the political opinions that they hold. In point of fact, a very large proportion of the members of that profession, as the Noble Lady knows, belong to her own party, and people with Labour views are inevitably, under the circumstances, in a minority, but I would like to ask her to make it clear, when she comes to reply, that the Workers' Educational Association is essentially an educational movement handling very difficult problems of education, and that it is a matter of the highest concern that the integrity of those tutors should be safeguarded against the kind of questions that we have had in this House during the past two or three weeks.

I would like to turn to a third matter, about which I must confess a certain matter of concern. I notice that in one of our daily newspapers, the "Daily Dispatch," there has been offered recently a kind of Empire travel scholarship to the boys and girls of our schools. I know that under the influence of the Empire Marketing Board and various other organisations unusual importance has been directed to the question of education in matters that concern the British Empire, and certainly we, on this side, would be among the first to welcome every genuine attempt at education concerning the British Commonwealth of Nations, but I confess to a certain amount of concern when we get a daily newspaper appealing to the boys and girls of our schools and offering prizes of a particularly attractive kind to them. From representations made to me, I have reason to believe that parents are getting in many instances seriously concerned that their children are devoting their time to competitions of this kind, to the neglect of their serious studies in school; and I think that, if the Noble Lady will inquire of the teaching profession, she will find there a serious amount of concern about the undermining and harassment of the essential work of the elementary and secondary schools growing out of public competitions of this kind and out of the possibilities of exploiting the lives of boys and girls in this way.


Can the hon. Member say what form this competition takes?


If the Noble Lady will look at. the columns of the "Daily Dispatch," she will get full particulars of the competition. The last point that I wanted to raise concerns again the children mainly in elementary and secondary schools, in relation to the annual air display encouraged by the Minister of Air. She will recall that last year the Board of Education cooperated with the Hendon Air Display to the extent of encouraging boys and girls of the schools of London and district to take a half-day's holiday, or it may be a full day's holiday, in order that they might witness the demonstration on the day before the public festival. I want to make it clear that we welcome every opportunity for the wider education of our boys and girls, and in particular it is very desirable that they should all get the fullest possible knowledge of what is perhaps the greatest triumph of our age, namely, the conquest of the air; but there is a widespread concern lest the Board of Education, in this very praiseworthy effort to broaden and enrich the stream of educational influences for our boys and girls, should be subordinating themselves as an educational institution to the military interests of the Ministry of Air.

8.0 p.m.

The Noble Lady will recall that last year there was a bombing expedition carried out on what was described as a native village, and that in consequence a number of questions were raised in this House as to the wisdom of organising, through the Board of Education, large numbers of children to witness that kind of military exhibition. We who live in a country which has always been characterised by voluntary institutions have always regarded very jealously the encroachments of military Departments on to our educational institutions. There is nothing of which the average-minded British man and woman stands so much in jealous care as that we should have nothing in the nature of what we used to call "Prussianisation" in our educational institutions. In this particular case, it does not mean that one of the fighting departments is going to the schools, but that the schools are going into the department of the Air Service itself. I do not know what is the intention with regard to the Hendon Air Display this year, hut I ask the Noble Lady, if she assists in organising the boys and girls of London and district to have the opportunity of witnessing the triumphs of civil air development this year, to use her influence with the Air Minister, so that there shall not be the kind of spectacle which we had last year, and so that the minds of the children shall not be drawn into romantic military displays, such as we had a year ago. I am the more encouraged to express this view, because the teachers' organisations in their national executive —certainly four of them, including the National Union of Teachers—declared that, while they welcomed this wider conception of education, they were unanimous in taking the view that it is not consistent with good education that the Board should lend itself to taking boys and girls to a purely military display. I have confined my remarks to four definite and specific points. I have refrained from going into questions of wider policy, and I hope that, when the Noble Lady replies, she will give us some encouragement with regard to these points. So far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned, I hope that she will give us some indication that, if she cannot induce her chief to put up a first-class fight for the things that matter in education, she will do it herself and set him a good example.


I listened very attentively to the speech of the President of the Board of Education, and I found it rather impressive, but I feel that the bouquets which were offered to him by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) were by no means merited. When listening to the President's speech and his outlines of development for the future, I naturally referred to the Estimates to see what provision was made for this development, expecting to find that there would be an increase for this year as compared with preceding years. To my astonishment, I found that the Estimates are down by £650,000, and, when the hon. Member for Windsor suggested that the Conservative party suffers from their inability to engage in self-advertisement, I felt that, the President of the Board of Education was undoubtedly a genius in self-advertisement. I have reason to doubt the sincerity of his programme and his intentions. If his programme, as outlined this evening, is to be carried out, more money should have been provided in the Estimates.

I will take as an illustration the position of the London County Council. It has been admitted in this House time after time, and by the Board of Education, and more especially by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, that playing fields are essential to the health of the boys and girls in the schools. The secondary schools are provided, to a very large degree, with playing fields. The London County Council ventured to put aside £500 to be given as grants towards scholars in London County Council schools who are likely to benefit by being permitted to engage in athletic instruction, and the Board of Education ruled it out. That is a small sum when we consider that the population or Greater London approximates to 8,000,000 persons, and we are entitled to form the opinion that the Board of Education were not prepared to allow that sum to be so spent because it would mean admitting a principle of which the Board was not in favour, and that it might lead to further development. We are in every way justified in saying that the President of the Board, who has from time to time supported the principle of playing fields, is not prepared to back up his opinion in a practical manner by allowing a small amount of this kind to he granted by the London County Council. The physical development of the pupils in the schools is essential for their mental development. That is evidenced by the manner in which the secondary schools are provided with playing fields. I hope that, in the very near future, the Board of Education will be prepared to give more consideration to this aspect of the subject than they have been prepared to give in the past.

The President in his speech introduced the word "rationalisation," and he said that his Department had embarked upon what may be termed a rationalisation of our educational policy. When I look at the Estimates, I am confirmed in my mind that it does not mean rationalisation; what it means is stabilisation, in keeping with the so-called stable government. Instead of an increase in the amount to be spent on education, there is a reduction in the Estimates. Local authorities are being informed from time to time that they are over-staffed. Mention has been made this evening of the fact that the number of children in the schools to-day is some 40,000 less, and I suppose that this is the reason for the President of the Board of Education ask- ing local authorities to make strict inquiries and investigations as to whether they are over-staffed with teachers. I had hoped that, in view of the smaller number of children, it would have given the opportunity of reducing the size of classes. The hon. Member for Windsor said that it was an easy matter to teach 50 boys or girls. I have served under an education authority, and it has appeared to me that many of the teachers have been quite unable to teach the boys and girls in such large numbers. Is there a reason why we do not have smaller classes? We shall never perfect our educational system if we allow the classes to be of such a size that the teacher is unable to come into individual contact with the scholars and to find out their special aptitudes. It is useless trying to impose arithmetic on some boys and girls: if they were approached individually by the teacher, and the teacher was enabled to show them individually the advantages of arithmetic, it would make all the difference in the world.


I would like to ask your ruling, Sir. Is it in order to continue this Debate when there is not a Member of the Tory party in the House, save the two Members on the Front Bench?


It is quite in order.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being present


As there are 30,000 fewer boys and girls in our schools to-day, instead of education authorities reducing their staffs, classes ought to be reduced in size, in order to enable teachers to come more directly into contact with their pupils. Though I have had no experience as a school teacher, I have taught apprentices in workshops, and I know that if you can get into direct contact with the apprentice and show him the advantages of going to evening classes in order to improve his arithmetic and extend his knowledge in other subjects, in order that he may become a good mechanic, he may see things—for instance, the bearing of arithmetic on his everyday work—in an entirely different light. Classes in our elementary schools ought to be of such a size as would give a teacher facilities for more personal contact with his pupils. Quite a large number of teachers are unemployed at the present time. When the Labour Government came into office in 1924, high hopes were inspired, and a large number of young men and young women entered the teaching profession in the belief that this country would embark upon a great educational policy. A reduction in the size of the classes would enable a large number of unemployed teachers to be absorbed.

Nursery schools are very important. A tribute has been paid to the work of the sisters MacMillan in the East End of London. Theirs was a great experiment, the value of which is appreciated by everyone who has been at pains to investigate it. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) paid a tribute to that work this afternoon, and I hope the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary, being a mother herself and having done a large amount of social work, will be prepared to admit the value of these nursery schools, not only from the point of view of the health of mothers in crowded areas, but from the point of view of the health of the children. I hope that she, with her motherly instincts and her experience, will influence the chief of her Department to bring about a development of these schools throughout the country. If we start with children when they are very young there is every possibility that their health and their opportunities in life will be greatly enhanced when they grow up.

As regards our general educational policy, I think it has been aimed at selecting the best brains in our schools and concentrating upon their development. I admit that we have derived ceradvantages from that policy, but I think we have arrived at the stage when it may be to our advantage as a nation to change that policy from the point of view of producing a better type of citizen. I am told that America has already changed her policy on this point. In developing the best brains we have followed two courses. On the one hand we have provided for fee-paying pupils to be received in our secondary schools, and on the other hand pupils in the elementary schools are given opportunities to win free places in those secondary schools. If we are to get the best results and to eliminate the air of superiority which attaches to our secondary schools—as is evident by the eagerness of quite a large number of parents to get their children into secondary schools, thus leading to the development of class consciousness—we can only do it by abolishing the fee-paying system altogether. All citizens will then recognise the need of giving their children the best possible education, not in order that they may be superior to someone else, but in order that they may become the best possible citizens, and that ought to be our objective.

We talk about superiority, but there is no such thing as general superiority, it is only relative. The classical education given in our universities to-day may produce one who is a most efficient linguist, but whose abilities and knowledge in other directions may be very limited, so that the superiority is relative and not general. We may produce one who is a genius in certain directions and another who is a genius in certain other directions, but there is no such thing as general superiority. The curriculum in our schools ought to undergo a great change, and until we aim at finding out the particular aptitude of individual boys and girls and then educating them in accordance with that special aptitude, we shall not direct them into the channels where they will attain the best results. I am not speaking from the utilitarian point of view. We are too much inclined to introduce the utilitarian aspect into our educational system, and ultimately it may prove to be disastrous. We ought to preserve a sense of proportion. I hope the few remarks I have made will induce the Noble Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to give me answers to the one or two points I have raised which will satisfy us that the speech of the President of the Board of Education was not mere window-dressing but that the Estimates have been prepared in such a way that the programme he outlined this evening will be carried out in its entirety.


I have listened to-night to the informative and interesting speech of the President of the Board of Education with very great pleasure. The enthusiasm which characterised that speech, which I know is shared by the Parliamentary Secretary, was not shared by the Members of the party to which they had the misfortune to belong. One had suspicions before about the lack of interest of the supporters of the Government in educational matters, but those suspicions have been greatly increased to-night by the remarkable absence of Members of the Conservative party from this very interesting Debate.


We have as many Members present as the Liberal party.


I think the hon. Member for the Hartlepools (Sir W. Sugden) is the only Member present out of a party of 400, if you exclude those who are present as officials. There are two matters connected with education in Wales upon which I should like to make a few observations. Last year, when the Estimates were under discussion, I raised a protest against the way in which the Board of Education was dealing with the National University of Wales, and I am glad to notice that the grant to that institution has been increased. With reference to setting up of the Advisory Council which the President of the Board of Education said he was prepared to consider, I do not think that any Advisory Council of that character can really fulfil the functions of the other body for which educationists in Wales have been asking during the last few years. I will not comment upon that point now, but I think we are entitled to ask what progress has been made in the negotiations which are taking place between the Board of Education, the University of Wales, and the Central Welsh Board. Unless this body is going to be one endowed with some real responsibility, it is not going to fulfil any useful purpose, and in all these negotiations the President of the Board of Education should bear that fact in mind.

I pass from Welsh topics to a general consideration of the education question. While I listened with great pleasure to the speech of the President, I would like to say that there are still some considerations which give rise to anxiety in regard to our system of education. The first question I want to raise deals with the size of the classes. Associated with that subject is the question of the staffing of the schools. In the Report published this year on education, there is a paragraph on page 27 which I think is a little disquieting. It says: The proportion of graduates employed has decreased in the case of men to 78.5 per cent. as compared with 80.0 per cent. on 31st March,]926, and in the case of women to 60.4 per cent. as compared with 61.6 per cent. on 31st March, 1926. The number of classes over the normal limit of 30 has increased slightly from 3,045 on 1st October, 1925, to 3,085 on 1st October, 1926, but of these only 87 contained more than 35 pupils as compared with 102 in the previous year. It is only fair to say that in case of both elementary and secondary schools there are signs of improvement. Nevertheless, the figures we have before us do show that there is room for considerable advancement in this direction. That argument applies not merely to the size of the classes but also to the staffing. Progress is being made in securing closer association between the training colleges and the universities, and I believe that is a step in a direction which is likely to prove very useful. It is a good thing in itself, but, apart from that, it is good because it furnishes an additional link in the whole educational system in which you start at the elementary school, work up to the secondary school, then to the colleges, and lastly to the universities.

I am not sure whether hon. Members realise the great influence which is exercised by the school teacher in the social life of this country. Anybody who is acquainted with life in our rural areas knows perfectly well that the teacher in an elementary school in a village can be a real power in that particular locality for good or evil. I am glad to think that almost invariably they are a power for good. They act in a way which appeals to the sense of citizenship of the people in the locality. The elementary school teachers advise people on all sorts of things, even on legal matters, although perhaps not always very wisely. These teachers are great figures in the social life of the community, and anything that is directed to the improvement of the type of man and woman who teach in those schools is of great assistance to the social life of the community.

Another question referred to by the President of the Board of Education was technical education. I welcome the spirit in which the Noble Lord spoke upon that topic. I do not think I am lack- ing in my appreciation of the importance of securing a, sound technical education, but I would like to emphasise that if you are going to regard technical education merely from the point of view of training boys and girls for a particular occupation, then you are taking a very short view, and a very narrow-sighted view, of technical education and education in general. You have to regard all these facilities for good technical education as part of the greater problem of educating citizens, so that they can worthily play their part in the life of the community.

Within the last few months the Board of Education have published a very interesting interim Report, and the Committee have been considering facilities for educating women in our rural areas. One of the central features of their Report is the emphasis which the members of the Committee lay upon the fact that the whole basis for anything which you can do in regard to technical education is giving to the children first a general education, and training their minds so that they can absorb whatever other technical instruction you can give them, and particularly a general education which will develop their minds so that they can see things for themselves, and think out things for themselves. If you are going to deal with technical education from the purely occupational point of view, you are bound to lower the whole standard of our education.

The trouble about our discussions in the House on the Estimates of the Board of Education is that they deal with so many matters of detail, in which we are all interested in varying degrees, arid which successive speakers take up, that we are apt to be in the position of not being able to see the wood for the trees. There are a great many details in regard to our educational system which are, naturally, the subject of inquiry, and occasionally of criticism. What I would like to see would be a day for a discussion in the House, not upon the details of the Estimates of the Board of Education, but a day when we can try and picture for ourselves what we really mean by having an educational system in the country at all.

Children go to school, the majority of them are thrown upon the world at the age of 14 without any chance of getting any further instruction, and then employers of labour, and particularly business people, tell us that education is a failure. What on earth is the use of saying that education is a failure when the great majority of the boys and girls of this country are thrown out into the world to face life as it is at the present time, and when the only equipment that this great state of ours gives to those children is the small amount of training that they can get in an elementary school in the early years of their life? It would be a great thing, I believe, for the House of Commons and for the country, if we could have a real survey of what we are doing in the educational life of this country—how many children have finished their education at the age of 14; what provision we are making to enable boys and girls whose parents cannot afford to pay the fees to go on from the elementary schools to the secondary schools; arid what provision we are making to enable promising boys and girls to go on from secondary schools to colleges and universities. I believe that, if the country could only see how little we are doing in that direction, there would be a really great move forward.

Before I sit down I should like to put this consideration to the Noble Lady, the Parliamentary Secretary. I do not know what her views or opinions are as to the result of the next General Election. It may be that she hopes that a Conservative Government will still be in power, but I venture to think that very few Members on the Conservative Benches are optimistic enough to think that, even if a Conservative Government is in power, it will be in power with a large majority. The result will be that in the next Parliament there will be an even larger body, though perhaps not a more enthusiastic body, of opinion in the House that will insist that the Government of the day, whatever Government it may be, shall really take a wide and a wise outlook as to the demands for greater educational facilities in this country. The Noble Lord to-day has referred to the necessity for a programme. He said, quite truly, that rationalisation is less expensive than drifting. But is he applying that to his own Department? Are there not at the present time indications of drifting in the Board of Education, even in these days, although I admit his own ability and that of the Noble Lady. The point is that what the Board of Education ought to be doing at the present time is preparing a programme, not for one, or two, or three years, but a programme which will enable this country in the course of the next few years to take a real step forward in the direction of increasing the educational facilities which are given to our children, and improving the educational facilities which now exist, thereby helping to build up, in the future, generations which will be more worthily fitted to carry on the responsibility which we shall hand on to them.


I think that in all quarters of the House we are agreed in speaking of education as the idealism of development in character. I believe, also, that every section of the House has as its definite purpose an enlargement of the possibilities of creative genius in every stratum of society. Our difference is in regard to method. On one side—I am not saying which side it is—you get the pure idealism; on another side you get a sort of diluted mixture of practicality and idealism; while in a third section there is a combination which is neither fish, flesh, fowl nor good red herring. With this general menu to digest, the President of the Board of Education has to consider, with the money that he possesses—after the successful raid which, so we were informed by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor), he made on the coffers of the Treasury—how far and to what extent he can apply this mixture of practicality, aestheticism and idealism to the general purposes of the enlargement of character which we know as education. To-night I simply want to contribute one or two thoughts on one section thereof, namely, upon the question of technical education.

Whether for good or ill, we in this nation have accepted the swiftest of speed lust in industrialism. Whether or not it fits in with the ideals and theories of those who accept Socialism, the fact remains that we are a highly industrial ised nation, and we bid fair to be in due course a nation with the highest industrialised future in the world. When we are dealing with the question of technical education, we have to consider how to present technical education so that the craftsman can retain his creative soul and his inventive genius, and at the same time walk in the mundane paths of life and perform his function of looking to his home and presenting his quota to the general civilisation of his own nation. Any technical education, therefore, must be applied, firstly, to retaining the idealism, and, secondly, to getting the practical results of that which has been taught.

I want to make it my first point that His Majesty's Government should get proper value for what they spend in regard to technical education in schools. What exactly is the position in regard to the great creative trades of this country I am not concerned at the moment with the shopkeeping views of a certain section of a nation which has no need be in understood, to be ashamed of the features that contribute to its shop-keeping proclivities; but no nation can live by shopkeeping alone—it must live by creating and manufacturing. What are the particular features that we have to consider? Iron and steel, machinery and shipbuilding are three main, vital issues in industry, and I challenge any hon. Member of the House to tell me of any technical institution in this country that can compare, in point of modern up-to-dateness, with some of the technical institutions in the United States of America, France and Germany.

Let us take the case of shipbuilding. There is no finer body of men in the world than the engineers and machinists who build ships in this country; and for their quality of craftsmanship be it agreed they are the poorest paid. If such men desire to improve their craftsmanship, technically and scientifically, there is no technical institution for them similar to what they have in France, Germany, and the United States. The Board of Education would do well to have a general stocktaking in respect of technical institutions, schools of metallurgy in those machinery and engineering centres where this specialised knowledge is gained. The han. Member who spoke last very properly suggested that technical education should not be dealt with from a regional standpoint. I accept to the full that the parish pump position is not good enough to-day in regard to the training of craftsmanship, but we must accept the fact that the local training and posi- tion of many counties in Britain are of such a nature as by the habits and traditions of the people to centre certain industries in certain places. Further, the position of water, coal, iron ore, oft.-times bears its part in the centring of industries in certain localities. Some shipbuilders might possibly like to go into farming districts and some farmers would like to go into shipbuilding districts, but, of course, the thing is impossible. I suggest that there should be also closer association between universities and technical institutions, for there are many technical institutions which do their work more efficiently than many universities. But when we consider the minds that are dominating the different sections of life and the issues of life and that have been trained to use their intelligence and their brains as the results of attendance at the universities we admit the greater use industrially of the universities.

Secondly, I plead that there should he greater camaraderie between local authorities. To give an example which engineering minds will appreciate, take the Diesel engine. There is no technical institution which can enable a marine engineering or shipbuilding student to make himself thoroughly efficient and improve his creative genius, also eliminating standardisation if he happens to be out of the region of Glasgow, Newcastle, or Barrow. This is one of the terrible issues of a highly industrialised nation such as ours. There is no specialised combination institution training centres such as you get in Germany, France and the United States that can deal with the further development of the Diesel engine in this country.

I want to nay my tribute to the textile machinery makers. Though they have not been having a very good time lately, they have out of their own pockets provided in many technical institutions some of the most up-to-date exhibits and some of the most up-to-date patterns of what they make and at their own cost. But you cannot do that with shipbuilding when you consider that to build a ship costs what it does. I do not ask the Board of Education to spend a great amount of money, but I ask them to get value for what they are spending by reorganizing these technical institutions so that it will be possible for our craftsmen to retain their souls and bring forward even more the genius which has made us the greatest manufacturing nation in the world. I desire to advocate better facilities for the interchange of engineering and technical students between this and other countries. There are facilities in regard to scholastic interchange, but there are none in regard to technical training in engineering, metallurgical and textile work between our own universities and technical institutions and those across the waters. Much can be done there. I welcome with very great pleasure the forward movement that has taken place in regard to these matters of education by the League of Nations, and if we are prepared to take a lead in this matter by our representation on the Council, it will be possible at very little cost to take full advantage of that opportunity. Germany and France have not exactly the same sort of technical institutions that we have, but I know from my own practical knowledge, for I have technical industrial knowledge of other countries than our own, that their universities are willing to interchange their students and give opportunities such as we desire.

I want to plead with employers of labour, through the agency of the educational section of the Ministry, for a closer comradeship in regard to giving opportunities for research work between some of the bigger firms in industry and their lesser brethren. Where you have a firm with a capital of £9,000,000 or £10,000,000 why should there be any dog in the manger policy towards those who cannot, for lack of capital, come into the same orbit 1 I had a long talk with Mr. Schwab of the great American Steel Company, who patriotically placed his genius at the disposal of this country when we were taking our part in the Great War. He told me: "We have a magnificent forward movement in regard to the rolling of steel in this country. I am prepared to allow any iron or steel roller to come into our works and, if there are metallurgical specialities that we possess which you have not got, I am willing to advise my directors to give you full facilities for research." It was a magnificent offer and one worth taking notice of. Some of our great employers of labour are well forward. I know some in the silk and artificial silk industry who are giving their specialised knowledge to others, under proper safeguards and guarantees of course. But there are certain industries which cannot afford to do this because of the cost. I pleaded for this ten years ago in this House. Now it is coming home to roost. I am not going to say, "I told you so," but I could prove from my own speeches, if they were worth considering, that I pleaded for a reduction of Income Tax to any firm who would be so progressive as to give a definite promise to spend the taxation imposed upon them on the furtherance of research in their own industry.

If we as a nation are to retain our industrial soul—this speed lust without idealism is going to make us a nation of robots and we shall lose in the long run—there will have to be better and more practical connecting links between the universities and the technical institutions, between the universities and the employers of labour and between the universities and technical institutions here and on the Continent. I hope the Government will be able to help in the matter. Then when the time comes for us to play our part as industrialists, we shall be able to present our quota as the finest race of craftsmen the world has known, and assist in the general settlement of peace which peaceful earning capacity in industry always ensures to every nation.


I intervene for a few minutes in order to raise one point. It will be remembered, by some hon. Members, at any rate, that shortly before the Adjournment for the Easter Recess I raised a question with regard to Dulwich College and the action of the President of the Board of Education in approving the scheme that was then brought forward. It will also be within the memory of hon. Members present on that occasion that, although the case was presented with 'courtesy and fairness, the Noble Lord succeeded in being more offensive and insulting than usual, on an occasion when there was no opportunity—as it was on the late Adjournment—to reply to him. I rise merely to ask whether we can be given some information with regard to the scheme. Briefly summarised, the position is as follows: The foundation of Dulwich College was originally left for the welfare of very poor and destitute children. Through the process of years the whole of that foundation has been diverted to other channels and is now being used for the sons of the wealthy. During the period immediately following the War the revenues of the College suffered considerably, and the Governors applied to the public authority for assistance, the natural corollary to that being that they had to give a certain number of scholarships, and these scholarships in 1927 numbered about 170.

They provided a suitable outlet for some of the abler lads front the elementary and secondary schools, and they also provided a connecting link with the universities. The lads who went to Dulwich College proved themselves so efficient that they swept off nearly all the extra prizes in the college. Then Dulwich College made an application for a new scheme under which they would no longer receive public grants and no longer provide the necessary scholarships. The agitation that followed brought a certain amount of public opinion to bear upon the position, with the result that they stated that a certain number of scholarships would be given even under the new scheme. What I want to ask the Noble Lady—I know we shall get a courteous reply from her—is exactly how many scholarships will be provided under the new scheme, and how the scholarships will be allocated? For instance, are the scholarships to be selected as hitherto from elementary and secondary schools on real merit, or are they to be left solely within the discretionary power of the governors of Dulwich College? The reason I ask this is that at the bottom of the old agitation to dispossess the elementary school lads of these prizes was a strong objection by some people, the paying people, to their boys going to the school and mixing with the lads who came from the homes of working-class people. Therefore, it would be interesting if we could be informed exactly how these scholarships are to be allocated.

9.0 p.m.

There is one other point upon which we would like some information. The Noble Lord, in replying to me on the last occasion, when it was impossible to get in a rejoinder, led the House to think that the beneficiaries of scholarships to the secondary school were limited to persons in receipt of incomes of somewhere between £300 and £700 a year. That was insinuating that those people were very much better off than some of the persons who were paying for the entrance of their sons. As a matter of fact, that is not true. The scholarships are open to any lads from any home anywhere, provided their parents are willing to let them go. I hope that that may be made quite clear and that there is no deliberate intention to mislead the House in this connection by indicating that the lads who went from elementary and, secondary schools were in a social position, as far as income was concerned, equal to, or perhaps better than, the fee-paying boys. It is important that there should be some information as to the number of scholarships compared with the number under the system which has just been set aside by the new scheme, and the method that is going to be adopted in choosing them.


I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Sir W. Sugden) at any great length in his general observations as to the relationship of technical education to industry and to the further education that can be obtained in the university, except to say that it seemed to me that his speech illustrated very clearly another breakdown in the private business and private enterprise of this country. He quite obviously admitted that private firms, industries based upon private ownership, run for private profit, could no longer provide the technical equipment that was necessary to carry on those industries, and that employers had now to come to the State to provide the technical efficiency required in order to make their industries a technical and productive success.

Having said that, I want to go back to what is, after all, perhaps the most important speech of this evening—the speech of the President of the Board of Education. In the first place I want to refer to the answer he gave to the questions put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), who raised two points. The first point was the feeding of the school children, and the second point was the treatment of Mr. John Towers. Quite frankly, in the latter case, I was very disappointed to find that the Minister was not prepared to give us an assurance that he would reconsider the case of Mr. Towers. I say bluntly and quite openly, without fear of contradiction, that the judgment delivered upon this teacher was a judgment influenced more by political considerations than by any educational or efficiency consideration as far as this teacher is concerned. For an offence entirely outside the school, for something that was not committed inside the school, this teacher has not merely been suspended from teaching but has actually had his certificate taken away from him. Hon. Members on the other side of the Committee tell us that we should not bring party politics into the question of education. This is the first case in the history of educational administration in this country, so far as I know, where political considerations and party political considerations have determined the judgment delivered by the President of the Board of Education. It is a deliberate injustice to this teacher, and cannot be justified by the right hon. Gentleman. It is political vindictiveness.

No charge of professional inefficiency has been made against this teacher. No charge of being unjust to the children in the school has been laid against him. He was convicted of a technical offence, of doing something for which had he done it inside the school nobody could have touched him, but because it happened just outside the confines of the school, the court was able to give a decision against him and the Minister of Education punishes him, in addition to the punishment which he received at the hands of the Court. This case has made the teachers of this country very uneasy. The Conference of the National Union of Teachers have considered the case, and there is no teacher, whatever his political colour may be, but is disturbed at what they consider to be a political decision of the President of the Board of Education. I resent that decision, and until it is remedied and until this man's certificate is restored to him, I shall consider, and I believe every teacher will consider, that the decision was based upon political considerations, which are thoroughly unjustified as far as Mr. Towers is concerned.

What has the right hon. Gentleman said about the feeding of school children? In 1928, a Minister of Education, who has in his hands the physical, mental and moral well-being of the children of this country, 600,000 or so of them, comes to this House and says that it is sufficient for starving children to be fed with one milk meal a day, if they can get a certificate from the medical officer of health. What these children need is a round square meal. [Laughter]. At any rate, a square meal that will make them round. You cannot raise an Al physical nation on the basis of medical certificates for malnutrition. You cannot get healthy bodies on that basis, and much less can you educate children in the schools, if they are to have one milk meal a day. One would have imagined from the way in which the right hon. Gentleman prompted questions on this matter, that he would have had something much more humane to say. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey), at the direct invitation of the Noble Lord, put a question in order that the right hon. Gentleman might show to this House and the country how humane, how benevolent, how sympathetic he had been to the children in the distressed areas. If he is satisfied with that standard, then I say that it is a disgrace to capitalistic civilisation, and a condemnation of it. The standard of one milk meal a day is not a standard on which to raise the physical well-being of a child, much less a standard on which to educate them. Talk about waste! It is waste of the nation's money to try to educate children in our schools if they are ill-fed and ill-clothed. No teacher can educate a child that is not well fed. I wish the Noble Lord had been in his place to bear my remarks. I hope the matter will be driven home further in this Debate.

The Noble Lord claimed some credit for progress. I cannot find any progress in the Estimates or in the explanatory note, neither can I find any progress in the speech which he delivered. I can find organised insidious reaction and stagnation. He twitted the right hon. Member for Newcastle, Central (Mr. Trevelyan), who was Minister of Education in the Labour Government, about the size of classes, and seemed to claim credit for progress in the reduction of the size of classes. Some hon. Members even on this side thought that the Noble Lord had made a case out on this point. The size of classes is one of the most important educational policies that confronts us. You cannot get true education in classes of 50 and 60 children. You must have very much smaller classes. The size of classes at Eton and Harrow as compared with the size of classes in our ordinary schools afford an example in the educational world of class distinction and class privileges. It is impossible to teach children in classes numbering 50 and 60.

Let us see whether the charge of stagnation made by the late President of the Board of Education is not true in relation to this problem. I find that, in round figures, under the heading "Classes of over 50," that in March, 1924, there were 24,972 classes of over 50 children; in March, 1925, 21,000; in March. 1926, 20,000; and in March, 1927, just over 20,000. Under the administration of the Labour Minister of Education, the drop in the classes of over 50 children totalled 3,000. With the ebbing of the impetus given by the Labour Minister of Education, there was a drop in the number of these classes of 1,000 in 1926, but in 1927 instead of there being a decline in the number of these large classes there was a gradual ascent. These figures prove conclusively that in regard to classes of over 50 children, instead of pursuing the policy of reduction in the size of the classes, there has been a gradual return to the old policy of an increased number of large classes. On March 31st, 1927, there were 43,904 classes with 40 and not over 50 children; there were 19,934 classes with aver 50 children and not over 60; and there were 278 classes with over 60 children in number, so that there are 63,306 classes which ought to be reduced in size. How many children does that represent? Stated as a percentage, it is 42 per cent. of the classes in elementary schools which are far too large. It means that 1,000,000 children are in classes of over 50 and about 3,000,000 children in classes over 40. Is that anything to boast about? And there is this curious fact, that if a class drops from 50 to 49 it does not come into the 50 category but into the 40 category. It reminds me of the drapers' reduction, an article is not 5s. it is 4s. 11¾d. The Noble Lord is proud of his drapers' reduction, he is proud of the 4s. 11¾d. reduction which he may have made here and there. In the classes of children below the age of 11 years he admits himself in his own Report that there has been no reduction in the size but an increase—

Duchess of ATHOLL indicated dissent.


I see the Noble Lady shake her head. It is said in the Board of Education's Report: In these circumstances it is not surprising to find that the number of large classes containing over 50 children under the age of 11 has increased.

Duchess of ATHOLL

Will the hon. Member kindly read the explanation?


The explanation does not do away with the fact. The Noble Lord said that he had reduced the size of the classes—

Duchess of ATHOLL

If the hon. Member will give the whole of the facts he will see that there was a full reduction of 20 per cent. up to last year during our period of office in the size of classes over 50. Last year, owing to circum- stances explained in the Report and repeated by the President of the Board of Education, there has been a slight drop from 20 per cent. The reduction is not quite fully 20 per cent. at the moment, but it is a reduction of almost 20 per cent. for the three years during which we have been in office.


I quite accept what the Noble Lady says. I cannot be expected at the moment to deal with percentages; I am dealing with the actual figures given in the Report. As for the explanation, it is merely an excuse. As a matter of fact, the Board of Education knew how many babies were born in a certain year and how many they would have to cater for when they came of school age. They knew the birth rate in 1920 and 1921, and they knew that five or six or seven years later these babies would be coming into the schools, and it was the duty and the responsibility of the Board of Education to provide teachers and accommodation for them. It is a curious fact that in a Debate on education there is nothing but a series of denials from the Treasury Bench and, therefore, I must repeat what is set forth on page 3 of this document—

Duchess of ATHOLL

What document?


It is the Report of 1926–27, the latest Report. This is what it says: In these circumstances, it is not surprising to find that the number of large classes containing over 50 children under the age of 11 has increased. I am mentioning this not only from the point of view of the size of classes but in relation to the whole policy outlined by the President of the Board to-night. I wish the Noble Lord were present at the moment, but I must say this, that the reorganisation scheme so proudly enunciated by him to-night has this tremendous danger in it, that children below the age of 11, instead of having skilled and efficient teachers and an equal number of teachers, instead of having the educational amenities and facilities in the school buildings which they ought to have, are going to be in a very much worse position under the scheme propounded by the Noble Lord. Again, the Noble Lady shakes her head. In his speech this evening, the President of the Board said that we were going to have the Hadow Report brought into being: that the future schemes of education authorities were to be based upon that Report. Most of the Labour party has endorsed that Report, and one would imagine that the Noble Lord has endorsed it, too. One would imagine from his speech to-night that he was very anxious for, indeed that he was urging, local authorities to put this Report into operation, but that he was not going to hurry them or have anything unscientifically done; that he was going to ask them to take their time and leisure to create a scientific organization, so that no mistakes might be made and that waste might be eliminated.

I put it to the Noble Lady: Does the President of the Board of Education accept the two fundamental principles embodied in that Report? The first is that the Hadow Report cannot be brought into being unless you raise the school age. Does the President of the Board accept that proposition? Does the Noble Lord accept the policy of raising the school age, with the Labour party's policy of maintenance grants for these children? Does he accept the policy that poverty is to be no bar to children receiving a full and free secondary education? The second fundamental principle is, that all education at 11-plus, as it is called, should be secondary education. Does he accept that proposition? I see that the Noble Lord is now in his place. If I get a favourable answer on this point, my speech will be cut short and the children of the country will benefit. In that case, I do not mind my speech being cut short. I repeat my question: Are the fundamental principles of the Hadow Report accepted? First, the raising of the school age, and, secondly, that all education at the age of 11-plus should be secondary education?

As I followed the scheme outlined tonight by the Noble Lord, necessarily very sketchily, secondary education for all above 11 years of age is not accepted as a principle by the Board of Education. What does secondary education mean? It means much smaller classes than 40 or 50 or 60. As a matter of fact, in the report somewhere the Board of Education has complained about the size of classes in secondary schools, and they hope for classes of about 35. Classes of 40 no longer exist. Will the size of classes in your 11-plus schools be reduced? Will you have your specialist teachers and better buildings? Will you have your playing fields? Will you have, in short, all the educational facilities and social amenities that characterise the secondary school? No. I want to draw the Noble Lord's attention to the suggested scheme in Wiltshire, which I find in the "Warminster Journal" for Friday, 4th May. There is a scheme outlined for this reorganisation to take place on the basis of 11-plus. About half-a-dozen schools are to be decapitated, certain schools are to be closed, and this is what is left in the elementary schools. They are small schools, and their staff is to be: In Corsley, one bead teacher and one supplementary teacher: in Heytesbury school, one head teacher and one supplementary teacher; in Horningsham school, one head teacher, one supplementary teacher: in Long-bridge Deverill and Crockerton schools, one head teacher, one supplementary teacher; and in Sutton Veney, one head teacher and one supplementary teacher. Are there supplementary teachers in secondary schools?


Village schools.


Never mind about village schools. The village child ought to have a properly trained teacher. Is this the Liberal policy?


The Liberal policy stands for the facts and all the facts.


They are only small schools, and therefore they are to have unqualified teachers.


Not at all. I did not mention unqualified teachers. That is your usual unfair way. You are noted for it.


I am sorry the hon. Member got angry. I was giving the staff of the elementary schools that were left below the age of 11.




Yes. The Noble Lord seems to agree with Liberals—a new coalition in education. I was explaining to my hon. Friends on my left that these schools are going to be staffed with one head teacher and one supplementary. You cannot justify a school of this kind even in a small village. I suppose the, supplementary will teach the infants. The poor head teacher will have classes one, two, three, four and five; he will have to divide himself between four or five classes. Is that what they do at Eton? Is that what they do at Harrow? The Noble Lord laughs. Has yet to learn, after all this time and all the circulars he has written and all the speeches he has made, education and administrative, that. this period of child life is as important as any other period? Has he get to learn that the stages of education beginning at five are of equal importance with the stage reached at 16 or 11-plus or any other fictitious psychological age? There is a good deal of fictitious psychology in many of these demarcations of age. One year is as important as another year. To generalise, I say that in your schemes of reorganisation, I see still lurking increased difficulties, increased injustice and increased dangers for the ordinary elementary schools of this country—fewer people on the staff, and a less qualified staff. We wish, as a Labour party, to see more teachers in your ordinary elementary schools, better qualified teachers in those schools, and I class the elementary schools together in town and country. If you are to have educational opportunities equalised, you should have equal opportunities in your ordinary elementary schools.

Finally, I find in this scheme that the secondary school that was existing there is to be abolished, and this new modern school is to take its place, with 320 children and a staff of seven teachers and one head teacher. Including the head teacher, that is 40 in a class. The head teacher ought not to be tied down to a class and, therefore, the average is above 40. Will the Noble Lady get, up and say, on behalf of the Board of Education, that a standard of 40 and over in a class is a secondary standard It certainly is not a secondary standard, and the whole danger behind this scientific reorganisation of education is that you are going to substitute for true secondary education, secondary education that ought. to be backed by maintenance grants, an inferior grade of education in order to fob the workers off from that broad general education they ought to receive.

I want to raise one other aspect. I am not against vocational education under a Socialist system. The clash and the dualism comes under the capitalist system. If you have vocational education early in your system you get the pre-destination of children to one particular job. You talk about provision for craftsmanship. I am not afraid of provision for craftsmanship, but, as a matter of fact, a study and analysis of the economic, technical, and industrial tendencies in modern society seem to show that modern society needs fewer and fewer technicians at the top and a greater mass of unskilled labour at the bottom. The logic of the machine is to negate skill. The machine is converting skilled work into unskilled work. Anyone who doubts that should read in his leisure time the analysis of Mr. Arthur Pound of the tendencies of American education and American industry in the book called 'The Iron Man,' which analyses what these tendencies are. Anyone acquainted with the tendencies of education in this country knows full well that vocations are changing and that the needs of craftsmanship are changing. What is craftsmanship and skill to-day becomes unskill to-morrow.

It seems to me that the Hadow Report is sound in this respect, that what it wants is the raising of the school age. Every normal child, not selected child—away with your examinations—is fit for secondary education, not necessarily a bookish education but a secondary education, with no distinction in the size of classes, no class distinctions as far as playing fields and social amenities and all the rest that makes up the secondary atmosphere are concerned, equal regulations for all, a variety of type supplying the needs of a varied life, supplying the needs of the developing organism which you have in every child. Why, you cannot see the individuality of each child. My own boy, and he is a very normal boy—he may be subnormal—has learned to read in about a couple of months because he was able to be taught by his mother as one and not as one of 40 or 50. The progress of the individual child depends upon these equal facilities, and I make bold to say that the policy of the Board of Education is not merely stagnation; it is reaction. There is no progress, and we shall find that the old battle of the Labour party will have to he waged more intensely than ever for full, free secondary education, with maintenance grants for the children of the working classes.


It has not been unusual for a Scottish Member to intervene in an English education Debate, just as it has not been unusual for an English Member to intervene in a Scottish Debate. There is, indeed, one very important reason why Scottish Members should be keenly interested in the matters discussed here to-day. As Members of the Committee are no doubt aware, Scottish finance depends upon the amount of money spent in England. The whole basis of our educational system is that our financial needs should be met within the limits of eleven-eightieths of what is spent in England. It follows, of course, that Scotland as a whole takes a very lively interest in all matters of educational progress or reaction in England. I have, therefore, listened to-day with the keenest interest to the speech of the President of the Board of Education and to other speeches dealing with various details. I join with those who regret that greater progress has not been made in the way of eliminating unsatisfactory buildings and reducing large classes. But I think there is a greater reason than the financial reason for a Scottish Member taking part in our discussion to-clay. It has often been said that knowledge knows no bounds of nationality or race or creed, and it is true to say that if one is interested in education anywhere, one must necessarily be interested in education everywhere.

There are two points on which I wish to speak. The first is the departure indicated by the President of the Board of Education with regard to the training of teachers. That, I think, is a matter of congratulation to the Board. It is perhaps an exaggeration to say that the teacher is really the great factor in education, unless one says it with certain qualifications; but it is to Scottish people somewhat difficult to understand when, as is the case to-day, we have 20 per cent. of the teachers in the elementary schools' of England uncertificated. Therefore as educationists we must all rejoice at what has been done, and I trust it will prove a very fruitful step forward. It may interest the Members of this Committee to know that in Scotland we have now less than one per cent. of uncertificated teachers in the schools. Further than that, after a long period of effort the position has been achieved that from two years ago onwards every man entering the teaching profession must be a graduate, and in the present year I think there was a larger number of women graduates entering the profession than non-graduates. My hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) said that he trusted that the President of the Board of Education would take steps to see that in the appointment of headmasters due regard was given to qualifications in arts and crafts. I trust that while due regard will be given to such qualifications no undue regard will be given, because I think the first essential for those who have to deal with children in our elementary schools, and who have very little chance in any other direction, is that they should be brought into contact with men and women of some degree of culture.

There is a second matter with which I venture to deal, because it is one in re- gard to which we have long looked to England for a lead. We have been very sorry in Scotland to note that the number of children between three and five now attending school has been very seriously reduced. Those of us who are interested in education in Scotland have long felt that in this respect we came far behind England and we are very sorry that England is giving up the lead which it had taken with regard to nursery schools and early provision for children. Having spent many years in connection with school work, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the most necessary reform is along the line of the physical well-being of the child. I have seen for many years much waste of effort in attempts to teach children who were not in a fit condition to be taught, and I trust that, while every chance will be taken to advance intellectual opportunity, there will disappear from our midst cases such as we heard of to-day, where children are supposed to be educated on a very slender physical basis.

I must confess that I have an admiration for the President of the Board of Education for the way he puts his case. We may or we may not agree with his policy, but we certainly admire the courage and the ability with which he advocates it. We look forward to advance in various directions, and more particularly with regard to the provision for children over the age of 14. If it is not possible to raise the age at once, or even within five years, I think we may fairly ask that the Board of Education should make such a survey of the needs of the country that it will be possible to do so within at least a reasonable time. I thank the Committee for having given a Scottish Member an opportunity to intervene for a few moments in this Debate.


I should like for a moment or two to raise a question that I have raised previously in these Debates from a rather different angle with regard to cases of abnormal children. But before I do so, may I just say this to the Noble Lady opposite? I am sorry that the Noble Lord was not present when the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Cove) made reference to the case of Mr. John Towers. I should like to add this point to it. Since the case of Mr. John Towers, we have had another important case relating to Mr. Gregory and Mr. O'Malley, whose conduct was inquired into by a Committee. As a result of that inquiry both were dismissed from the Civil Service. After a matter of two months ago an announcement was made in this House last week—an announcement with which all individuals and parties agreed—that Mr. O'Malley should be reinstated in his position in the Civil Service. I think the Noble Lord, when giving reconsideration to the case of Mr. Towers, should take into account the fact that there was no protest by any member of any party when the announcement was made by the Prime Minister that Mr. O'Malley was to be reinstated in the Civil Service. I am not going into a comparison of the gravity of the offences but the Noble Lord should bear in mind the fact of Mr. O'Malley's re-instatement when he is going into the case of Mr. Towers. I wish to draw attention once again to the question of the education of abnormal children. It is not an exciting topic and does not provoke flaming headlines in the Press but the Noble Lord realises that it is a difficult problem. Speaking at a conference not long ago, he said, in reference to the special schools: This is quite the most difficult problem that we have to meet in education. I am sorry that in his speech to-day he did not follow up what he said on previous occasions on the subject of crippled children. In previous Debates, he told us of the importance of orthopedic treatment in the cure of crippled children. I think the last report of the medical officer of health says, in regard to this treatment, that "we are beginning to see results." Perhaps the Noble Lady who is, I understand, to wind up the Debate, will tell us whether those results can yet be put into tabular form. Those of us who use our eyes as we go about every day, realise that there are fewer crippled children--and crippled adults, too, for that matter—to be seen in the streets to-day than there were formerly. I wonder if figures are available to show whether there is an actual decrease or not. I endeavoured to get some figures from the President of the Board of Education this afternoon, and I gathered, to my surprise, that the figures showed an increase, but he went out of his way to explain that they included children who are undergoing open-air treatment.

We all hope that the number of crippled children will rapidly diminish with the development of orthopedic treatment. At the same time it was never more essential than it is now that these children should be taught in very small classes, where they can get a great deal of individual attention. The crippled child, in order to earn a living on leaving school, has not only to be as clever as the normal child but has to be more clever. I have found that employers generally are sympathetic towards the idea of employing crippled boys and girls, but, after all, they are not philanthropists but business people. Crippled children have to bear two great handicaps in this matter. In the first place, they have to be above the average in skill at the particular work for which they have been trained. Then, when they have accomplished that standard, as most of them do, they have to face a still greater handicap. The average employer frequently objects to employing crippled boys or girls because of their special liability to accidents. In these days of workmen's compensation, it is a serious thing for an employer to take any additional risk of that kind. I have a suggestion to make to the Noble Lord in regard to that matter. Has the Board considered the possibility, through some extension of after-care work, of providing from education funds, a payment to meet the employer's risk in that respect, so that crippled employés will be able to start work on an equal standing with other employés. I think that suggestion is worth consideration. There are many employers who, but for this risk of accident, would go out of their way to employ crippled boys and girls.

The other point which I wanted to raise concerns the extraordinary position which seems to exist in reference to mentally defective children. In this matter confusion is being worse confounded, and I hope the Noble Lady may be able to clear up the matter. Last Thursday, in reply to a question, the Noble Lord told me that 18 London schools for mentally defective children had been closed and he gave figures to show that the number of children on the rolls of the special schools in London, after remaining stationary from 1918 to 1924—there was a difference of eight in that period—had suddenly, between 1924 and 1928, fallen from 7,000 to 5,500. These are round figures. In other words, it would appear that there was a decline of 20 per cent. in four years in the number of mentally defective children in London. Are we to throw up our hats and cheer and hail this as a sign that mental deficiency is disappearing? To make the matter more confused, the Noble Lord emphasised the fact that there had been no change in the standard of ascertainment which would go to show that mental deficiency among London school children had fallen by 20 per cent. in four years.

In my joy and pleasure at the good news that we were rapidly becoming a saner people, I pursued my inquiries and put a question to-day as to the number of mentally defective children in Birmingham. To my surprise, the figure given shows a considerable increase in Birmingham. Are we to take it that mental deficiency is increasing in Birmingham and diminishing in London? I do not want to give the Noble Lord too much work in answering questions as to all the different towns but all this is very bewildering, coupled with the uncertainty as to the general position which exists among teachers and people who take an interest in the question. Is it the case that some policy, which nobody understands except the Board of Education, is being worked out quietly?

Lord E. PERCY indicated dissent.


Then perhaps the Noble Lady will explain whether the figures in the London special schools have been reduced by 20 per cent. in four years and whether that means a net reduction of 20 per cent. in mentally defective children in London. When she has explained that perhaps she will also explain why the number in Birmingham is increasing while the number in London is diminishing. When we try to find out what it all means either the Noble Lord or the Noble Lady will tell us that a Departmental Committee is sitting on the question. They shake their heads wisely and say, "Have you not heard that this Committee has been sitting for four or five years; that special schools have been established for about 20 years and that we have reached the stage when the whole question has to be discussed?" I think the last statement which the Noble Lady made on this question, was in December last six months ago. The Noble Lady said—I quote from a Press report: I regret the fact that anxiety is being felt as to the future of special schools. I think you are awaiting the Report of the Special Committee which has been sitting for some time at the Board of Education dealing with this big problem. It is not possible for me to say anything more than this. That was in December last, and I want to ask the Noble Lady to-night, six months afterwards, if it is possible for her to say anything more now. We understand that this Committee finished its deliberations several months ago, and what some of us are afraid of—and I may as well be candid about it—is they the policy of the Board is being worked out and that it is likely to take a year or two before the Report of this Committee is issued. Everybody knows that these special schools and the methods of treatment for these special children are in the melting pot, but I think the Committee has had long enough in which to make its report, and the Board must have sufficient information, to make some statement on the subject.

Finally, I want to say this: On previous occasions when we have raised this question in the House the Noble Lord has twitted some of us, and myself in particular, that what we want to do is to put every child who is abnormal in any way in a special school. That is not our policy at all. We do not demand that every abnormal child shall be put into a special school, but we do say that it is the duty of the State to provide every educable child with educational facilities. Our case is that special children ought to receive an education in harmony with their handicapped faculties, and that unless they do they will be come a higher charge upon the State. I hope the Noble Lady may be able to say something, not only to satisfy my idle curiosity, but to satisfy the curiosity of a very great number of people who are interested in what the Noble Lord said was quite the most difficult problem in education to-day. We have the extraordinary position of some education authorities trying to get their teachers to go in for special courses of training in order to become teachers in these special schools, and they cannot get any applications because the teachers themselves have no idea as to whether there is any future for them in such schools. If the Noble Lady can shed any further enlightenment on this bewildering position, I am sure that those who are interested in the subject will be very grateful to her.

10.0 p.m.


Before I come to discuss the larger issues that have been raised in the course of the Debate to-day, I should like to make reference to one or two smaller points that are yet not small points in themselves. I wish the Noble Lord were present at the moment, because I want to return to the discussion of this deplorable case of Mr. Towers, from the North of England. My hon. Friend the Member for Welling borough (Mr. Cove) made an impassioned speech—and I think quite justifiably so—in regard to the treatment of this case by the Board of Education. I can sympathise with those at the Board of Education who have to sit in judgment upon these cases, because I recall with some interest some of the complexities that arise in connection with them, from my own experience at the Board. But there has been a specific charge advanced against the Noble Lord to-night, and I think we have the right to expect from the Noble Lady a precise and specific answer to that charge. What is the charge? It is that Mr. John Towers has been punished by the President of the Board of Education in such a way as to indicate that he has not been dealt with specially on the ground of professional misconduct, but specifically on the ground of political bias. I am not at the moment subscribing or otherwise to that charge. All that I say is that I had the privilege of hearing discussion upon this case at the conference of the National Union of Teachers this year at Cam bridge, and the Noble Lord will know that the National Union of Teachers, in the main, is composed of people who are not members of the Labour party by any means. There are, of course, members belonging to all political parties there, but the Noble Lord knows, I should think, that the majority of the delegates to the National Union of Teachers would be mainly supporters of either the Conservative party or the Liberal party; and yet I am absolutely certain that there is scarcely a man or a woman inside that conference—Tory, Liberal or Labour— who is not absolutely convinced, rightly or wrongly, that political considerations have entered into this decision, that the fact that Towers was an active propagandist for the Labour movement in Durham has landed him into this unfortunate position.

I am not necessarily stating my own view at all, but I am sure that the Noble Lord will recognise the justice of the point, that it will be disastrous from any point of view if the idea once gets out, whether rightly entertained or otherwise, that a person holding opinions that are not acceptable to the President of the Board of Education at any given moment is to be mulcted in a decision involving, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) quite rightly pointed out, not merely a suspension from the Civil Service for some three, four or six months, but a life sentence, his bread and butter gone. And, after all, no one could dream of comparing the offence—and it was a grave offence, if you like—with the offence of those two civil servants, one of whom has just recently been re-established in his position. I am not stating my own personal view, except that I am exceedingly anxious that the idea shall not even go forth that political considerations enter into the judgments of the Board of Education concerning delinquency on the part of teachers.

So much for that one point, on which I think we are entitled to have a very specific assurance tonight. The other, smaller point, but still important, is one which my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Rennie Smith) raised, in regard to the subject matter of a deputation that waited upon the Noble Lord yesterday or to-day on the vexed question, with us, of the attendance of school children at air displays at Hendon. There is a feeling that it is a little undesirable, not to put it higher than that, that special arrangements should be made for school children to attend a display like that of last year, when there was a bombing of a native village, and the children were instructed on how we can deal with the subject-races when they prove recalcitrant. It is an undesirable sort of exhibition, to say the least, and I beg the. Noble Lord, if he wants to give the children variety in their experience, to let them have displays of civil aviation with no taint of militarism.

I turn to the purely educational questions which we have before us. My right hon. Friend, the Ex-President of the Board of Education, made a reference to the question of Abertillery, and I would like to carry that point a little further. Fortunately, the difficulty which arose at Abertillery did not land us in the awkward situation which many people apprehended. I am not blind to -the fact that the Noble Lord was probably extremely anxious to avoid any breakdown in the national agreement.concerning the application of the Burnham scales, but one point of principle arose from that situation, and I raise it because there are other districts in South Wales that might perhaps be in a similar predicament. Let us hope not. The difficulty in Abertillery, it has been suggested to me—and I am not sure that I could not even quote speeches by some of the "Big Three," as we call them—the difficulty at Abertillery, there was reason to suspect, was largely created by a ukase or edict issued by the Ministry of Health. This is not the time to discuss the work of that Ministry, but it is important to know whether the Ministry of Health is now beginning to arrogate to itself the right to determine how much money shall, or shall not be, spent upon educational purposes. Is a third master now entering into this matter? It is enough to have the Treasury to determine how much the Noble Lord may, or may not, spend, but if we are to have the Minister of Health as well, it is time,that we asked where exactly we stand.

Several local authorities in South Wales are autonomous areas in matters of education, and many of them are in grave financial difficulty. They have had to appear before the Minister of Health, and the Minister says, "You must appoint three, or four, or five people to be an almost unchallengable authority.in your areas, and you must reduce your orates below a certain figure." What does that mean? It means that the Minister of Health indirectly, and I sometimes suspect deliberately, is trying to place himself in the position of determining how far educational progress should be registered in any given area. That is an important question of administrative principle, and we ought to have an assurance on the point. The Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor), made an eloquent appeal, as she usually does, to the Minister of Education to look with greater sympathy upon nursery schools. When the Noble Lady, who is replying to-night, spoke last year, she implied that the Board was not able to develop this policy of establishing nursery schools, largely because the expenditure was somewhat forbidding. I admit that the expense in many areas may prove to be a considerable problem, but, at the same time, do not let us exaggerate it. The expense of providing nursery schools need not be greater, if as great, per child than the cost per child in elementary schools. One could refer to illustrations. There is the case of a school at Derby, where the cost per head is just under £12; and a nursery school at Birmingham, where the cost is just slightly over £12.


Does that include loan charges?


I am not sure. The Birmingham figure does, I think. At the Salford nursery school the cost is £11 8s. I do not know whether that includes loan charges. The point is that, in the end, it is much cheaper for a Government Department to help to preserve health than to cure disease. It is a far sounder policy. Last night, we had a speech from the Minister of Health, in which he implored the Committee to realise that, if he were to push forward certain administrative reforms in the matter of public health, they would cost money. Among the great reforms which were indicated was an attack upon the terrible problem of rheumatism in its various forms. It is demonstrable that much of this health difficulty with which the children of the elementary schools are confronted, is avoidable and can be removed if we take it at an early age, and the nursery school might very usefully be used for that purpose.

I do not propose to follow the discussion, which has rightly taken place, upon the policy of the Noble Lord in regard to elementary schools, and especially in regard to large classes, except to make this observation. The hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Somerville) seemed to put up a case as an old teacher—and I was sorry to hear him say it—that, after all, there is no great danger or difficulty in a teacher having a class of 50 or 60. I happen to have experience of teaching a class of 50 and 60, and if there is one thing that you cannot secure in a class of 60, it is the thing which the hon. Member asked for as a pre-requisite for success, namely, homogeneity. You cannot expect a class of children of 50 or 60 to be all alike. They are not like marbles in a row. They are 50 or 60 separate personalities, each different in a particular way, and because they are different, because they vary so infinitely, it is in the highest degree essential that the teacher, in order to be successful in a class, shall have time to establish intimate relationship between himself and each pupil. It is on the ground that it is impossible for a teacher to teach a class of 50 or 60—we can only lecture or talk to a class of 50 or 60—that we ask for smaller classes in elementary schools.

I want to-night to speak mainly about secondary education, because the record of the Noble Lord on elementary education has been adequately dealt with already. From the statistical tables on page 145 in the second part of the Report we find that the total number of full-time pupils in secondary schools on 31st March, 1927, was 371,493. I believe I shall be right if I say that quite a number of people are unaware that there are preparatory schools in association with some of our secondary schools. I admit that it will be easy for the Noble Lord or the Noble Lady to say in reply that very little was done in this matter during the short period of our life as a Labour Government, but I can reply that nine months is nine months and that one can do very little in that time. I do not conceal the fact that I have never liked this preparatory school system. I think it is unjust: it involves a loss of secondary school education to many children who would otherwise be able to obtain it. Of the 371,493 pupils to whom I have referred, 16,280 are children below the age of 10, representing 4.3 per cent. Before we are told that it is not possible to increase the number of free places in order to meet the demand for secondary education, can we be assured that these 16,280 children are not excluding from secondary schools a number of older children who ought to be there? What is a preparatory school? As my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Shepherd) quite rightly observed, the sending of these children to preparatory schools is mere snobbery, coupled with a good deal of careful calculation.

For all practical purposes a preparatory school is part and parcel of a secondary school. The staff, who are paid on the secondary school scale, are highly qualified teachers, and people send their children there partly because they dislike the idea of their children associating with the children in the public elementary schools and partly because they think they will be staking out a claim for a place in the secondary school later on. A system of that sort is most unjust. Here are people getting the best sort of education from the best qualified teachers, almost every one of whom is a graduate, and at the same time safeguarding the automatic progress of their children to the secondary schools when the time arrives for it. In doing this, they reserve to themselves space for 16,280 pupils. I have only to observe about the process that if these people, out of a desire for snobbery, do not want their children to associate with the children of the common herd in the public elementary schools, they ought to pay for their snobbery, and send their children to schools specially provided for the purpose, and the room those children now occupy in those schools will be available for secondary school purposes.

I turn to another aspect of the secondary school accommodation problem. The Noble Lord this evening not only said that all is well with the Board, but he also stated that elementary school accommodation is as it should be, and that the secondary school accommodation is not bad. Let us look at the facts. On page 17 of the Memorandum on the Board of Education Estimates, we find some very interesting figures. They show that the percentage of secondary schools who charge no fee is 5.2 per cent., and those whose fees do not exceed £8 8s. is 18.5 per cent. of the total. Those who charge fees exceeding £8 8s. but not exceeding £15 15s. form 63.9 per cent. of the total, and those who charge fees exceeding £15 15s. amount to 12.4 per cent. of the total. [Laughter.] The Noble Lord laughs, but we shall see later what explanation he has to offer.


You have got the figures all wrong.


I have quoted the figures from the Memorandum. No doubt we shall get an explanation presently, but meanwhile perhaps the Noble Lord will repress himself. Our claim is that the secondary schools at this moment are not providing adequate accommodation for the poorer children of this country. Who are the people who can afford to pay between £8 8s. and £15 15s.? Who are the people who can afford to pay up to £8 8s.? They are not the very poorest people, to say the least of it, and when you talk of the 63.9 per cent. they are people who are in tolerably affluent circumstances. I do not complain that these people are in possession of these secondary educational facilities, but what I say is that before we can be satisfied with a policy of stagnation we really ought to make a greater effort to increase the percentage from 5.2 per cent. to something equivalent to what the other classes enjoy.

When I turn to page 16, I find some more significant figures. There are two columns on page 16, the first of which gives the number of pupils who pay no fees, while the second gives the number of fee-paying pupils. I admit quite frankly that from 1920 to 1926 there has been a substantial increase in the number of children paying no fees who have passed from public elementary schools, but from the other column it will be found that the number of fee-paying pupils passing from the public elementary schools has remained almost exactly the same from 1920 to 1926, the number in 1920 being 109,214, and the number in 1926, 109,408; that is to say, there was almost complete stagnation.


Fee-paying pupils.


Yes, but the Noble Lord will get no comfort from that, and I will tell him why. The children who pass from public elementary schools can only do so, in the main, by securing scholarships. If they fail to get scholarships, that is the end of the matter as far as most of them are concerned. While the number of children who, having failed to get scholarships from public elementary schools, can find it possible to pay, remains almost exactly the same, in the case of the others the number in 1920 was 97,677, and in 1926, 107,853. What really is happening, therefore, is that the poor children, simply because of their poverty, cannot look at the idea of paying fees, and, therefore, those who are able to provide a premium get the places that the others cannot take up.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite often argue as though rich or well-to-do people were providing education for the children of the poor out of their pockets, but as a matter of fact, even in the case of those who pay 15 guineas, the cost of their education is not 15 guineas. The average cost, excluding loan charges altogether, is over £20 per head, while the fees are only 15 guineas, so that a child whose parents can find a premium of 15 guineas can secure an education which costs £20 or £30, whereas the other child, whose parents cannot find that premium, gets no secondary education at all. A child of comparatively well-to-do parents who goes to a grant-aided secondary school gets education "on the cheap." The point, therefore, that I want to put to the Noble Lord, and really it is one of some importance, is that, until we have changed our secondary education system in such a way as to make passage from the elementary school to the secondary school, of whatever kind, as natural and normal as passing from one standard to another—in other words, until our secondary education is a system of free education—these unjust inequalities will still prevail among us. They are unjust in the sense that they place a barrier against the poorer child because of his poverty, and give a handicap in favour of the rich child because of his riches.

The Noble Lord has referred—and I was glad to hear him—to a proposal to bring the training colleges into closer touch with the universities. I think that is a step in the right direction and one long overdue, because the isolation of these training colleges from the universities is not only bad for the colleges as institutions but is bad from the standpoint of developing among the teachers too narrow and limited an outlook for the purpose of the work they have before them. On the other hand I have heard apprehensions expressed by one or two people who know more about the internal work of university life than I do lest this scheme of development by areas may not tend to a sort of parochialism in the matter of the efforts and the activities of the Universities. I have heard the fear expressed and I presume it is entertained by some people who are competent to judge.

The noble Lord spoke a good deal about his proposals concerning technical education, and there again I was very glad to hear him speak, but I should like to make one plea with regard to areas like the one I represent. They are areas of one industry only, and on account of the difficulties now confronting them they cannot expect very much relief. Indeed their destiny seems to be that large numbers of the younger men must inevitably leave them for a livelihood. I hope, therefore, if we are to see a development of technical institutions in these areas, an attempt will be made through those institutes as far as possible to equip the people with a knowledge of other trades than the one that prevails in the area. It is vital. One of the mistakes of our evening classes in South Wales particularly is that we have trained innumerable colliery managers, colliery foremen, colliery firemen, colliery this and colliery that. Hundreds of people have been attending classes night after night. I do not say it is wrong, but the effect has been that they have only been thinking all the time in terms of mines when they ought really to have been thinking in terms of some other trade. I urge upon the Noble Lord that if he is going to press upon these authorities the development of technical education, he will keep that simple point clearly in mind. We have moved a reduction of the Vote because we really believe the Noble Lord's policy in practice has not come up to his professions. He has failed to maintain the policy he announced in his first speech at that Box, the policy of continuity in educational progress. Because of his failure in that respect we are going to carry the Vote to a Division.

Duchess of ATH0LL

An hon. Member, speaking not long ago from the Liberal Benches, said that in a Debate such as this, where so many varied points have been brought forward, it was rather difficult to see the wood for the trees, and in rising at the end of a Debate of a character such as he so well described, a Debate in which I think the subjects brought up have been even more numerous and more varied than usual, I hope the Committee will not expect me to do too much clearing of the wood, particularly as I cannot help feeling that the wood on this occasion has been encumbered with a good deal more brushwood and lumber of a rather secondary character than usual. The first question with which I shall deal is not one which I would describe in that way. I shall reply first to the question which was addressed to my right hon. Friend by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Newcastle (Mr. Trevelyan) and later addressed to me by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. R. Smith) in regard to the Central Library proposal. The Departmental Committee recommended that a Government grant should be made to the Central Library as an interim arrangement for a limited period pending the reconstitution of the Central Library as a special department of the British Museum. I understand that the Trustees of the Museum feel some doubt about the Committee's suggestion in regard to the relation of the Library to the Museum. So long as the question of the future constitution of the Central Library remains in doubt, it is impossible to come to a decision in regard to an interim grant. It would be undesirable and, indeed, contrary to the whole trend of national policy in the past, that an institution whose purpose it is to lend books to students should come to depend upon grants from the Board of Education and should thus tend to fail under the Board's control. It must therefore, in my right hon. Friend s opinion, be an essential condition of any such interim grant that it should be non-recurrent, and that the question of the permanent constitution of the Central Library should first be settled before the question of a grant is considered. In these circumstances the Government propose to ask the Royal Commission on National Museums and Galleries to consider the problem of the Library in relation to the position of the British Museum Library, and I hope, at the same time, that the Central Library itself will work out its own proposals. When the question of the permanent constitution of a Central Library has been settled, the Government will be prepared to consider whether an interim non-recurrent grant is required for the purpose of tiding over the Library until the new arrangements for its maintenance are completed.

Then my right hon. Friend was asked a question by my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Looker) in regard to the position of percentage grants, and as he had not time to deal with the question in his speech he has asked me to make a statement on his behalf. The hon. Gentleman will remember that the Minister of Health foreshadowed, in a recent statement in connection with the Budget scheme, a grant system which would give special consideration to increases of population in relation to rateable value. I think my hon. Friend will be well advised to await the development of these proposals. When the Minister of Health places his proposals before the local authorities, the Essex County Council will doubtless consider how far they meet the peculiar needs of their county, and, in so far as they do not meet those needs, they will doubtless consider whether they would wish for a modification or extension of those proposals. I can only say that the solution of the difficulties of the Essex County Council lies in this direction rather than in the modification of the existing percentage grant system, the difficulties of which my right hon. Friend has already explained to the Chairman of the Essex Education Committee.

Next. I come to the questions addressed to me by the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Morris) and also to some extent by the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans). The first question, jointly asked by these two Members, was what was the position in regard to the proposed Welsh National Advisory Council in the Board of Education? The reply is that the University of Wales has set up a representative committee which is considering the advisability of asking for such an Advisory Council and the constitution and functions such a Council should possess if it should be considered advisable to appoint one. Probably the hon. Member before long may be in a better position than I am to know how, the matter stands.

The hon. Member for Cardigan also asked a question about rural education in Wales. A Departmental Committee is sitting to consider that matter. The hon. Member further asked a question with regard to the holding up of buildings in areas such as Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. The hon. Member might be excused, perhaps, for not realising that it rests with the Ministry of Health to sanction loans for local authorities, including local education authorities, but I was rather surprised to find that the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), who was my predecessor at the Board of Education, forgot that fact.


The point that I dealt with was not the sanctioning of loans for buildings but the question of salaries.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I apologise if I misunderstood the hon. Member. I thought he referred also to the question of loans. I am glad to find that his recollection of procedure is so correct. All loans for capital expenditure must receive the sanction of the Ministry of Health. The hon. Member for Cardigan must know far better than I can the financial position of areas such as Monmouthshire and Glamorgan at the present time, and I do not think he will be surprised that, under the circumstances, some loans have been temporarily held up, because other matters more urgent than the question of buildings have to be dealt with just now in that part of the country.

The hon. Member for the University of Wales made an appeal to the Board that technical education should not be of too narrow a character, and that it should go side by side with general education. I should like to reassure him on that point. If he studies the curricula, in the junior technical schools, he will see how much general education is given along with technical training. I have the pleasure of being on a Departmental Committee which is considering part-time education, and we have had it borne in upon us how much general education there is in technical classes, particularly in the junior ones, where the instruction is mostly general.

A point which has been impressed upon us by many is the need for more training in craftsmanship in technical schools. The training tends more towards scientific principles than to crafts. One of the needs of the country is for more craft training. Then the hon. Member for Peni- stone, in addition to asking a question about the Central Library, which I have answered, put a question relating to the Workers' Educational Association. I can only refer him to an answer given recently by my right hon. Friend on that subject, in which my right hon. Friend showed his appreciation of the fact that the Workers' Educational Association is a body of great educational importance and has a great educational record. He looks to them to maintain that educational record, and has no desire to be inquisitorial. The same hon. Member was rather exercised about the effect on children in some schools of taking part in a competition for a travelling scholarship promoted by some daily journal, of which I must frankly confess I am not a reader. I cannot pretend to give him any information on the subject—


Does not the Noble Lady read it on Sunday?

Duchess of ATHOLL

There are other ways of spending my Sunday. All I can say on this subject is that it seems to me part of the duty of the teacher to prevent the attention of children being distracted from their lessons by inducements from the outside world which may encroach upon school hours, and so far as taking part in a competition of this sort may be injurious to school work, or too exciting and absorbing, it is rather a fine test of the teacher's powers of discipline and his power to induce concentration on their lessons on the part of his pupils. Then we come to the question of the attendance of children at the proposed display of the Royal Air Force. My hon. Friend in his desire to shield children from seeing performances which might be too much for their nerves, or which might seem to glorify war in their eyes, gave the House, I think, a wrong impression of the position in regard to this display. He spoke about the Board of Education organising the attendance of school children at it and protested against the proposal. There is no question whatever of the Board of Education organising the attendance of children at this display or at anything of the kind.

The fact is that the Air Ministry have sent an invitation through local education authorities to the children of the schools to attend a rehearsal of the Air Force display which is to take place shortly, but it will rest entirely with the teachers to say whether they are to be taken to the performance or not, and for the Board of Education to take the action which the hon. Member suggests would be tantamount to depriving the teachers of the option of taking the children to this performance if they and the parents of the children desire it. The hon. Member admitted, when he was on a deputation to my right hon. Friend, that there is much in this display which will be highly educational and he was very anxious to explain that he did not wish to withhold from the children a knowledge of the wonderful progress which is being made in aircraft and of the bravery, initiative and resource of the men who fly these air machines. Any sort of display of a military character which might form part of such a display is likely to form a very subsidiary part, and I do not think it should be beyond the competence of teachers if they take children to such a display afterwards to put matters in a true light before them. I think teachers should be equal to putting these things in a fair and true light, and explaining them to their pupils. We do not think of the Air Force merely as an organisation for flying, but as part of the great system by which order and peace are maintained throughout the British Empire.

Then the hon. Member for Willesden (Mr. Viant) complained about the disallowance by the Board of a proposed expenditure of £500 by the London County Council for the travelling expenses of school children to go to playing fields. The right hon. Member for Central Newcastle also animadverted on the same matter, saying how very small the sum was. Although the sum was so small, the reason it was disallowed was because it was not a ease of providing travelling expenses for the children in general, and it was felt that it was preferable that money should be spent on providing opportunities for all children, rather than on merely providing travelling expenses for individuals to play in school teams. The same hon. Member made an appeal to the Board to abolish fees, on the ground, apparently, that the existence of fees tended to an assertion of superiority on the part of those children whose parents are able to pay for them. So far as my experience of school life goes, the only superiority that anybody can claim in a school is of two kinds: either superiority on the ground of intellectual attainment, or superiority on the ground of athletic achievement.

I cannot conceive of any assertion of superiority because it happened to be the case that the parents of one child paid fees while the parents of another did not. It we turn to what usually constitutes superiority in a school, namely intellectual attainments, then we have to recognise what is a very interesting fact in our secondary schools, namely, that the children who go there on scholarships from elementary schools for the most part do extremely well and their place is usually a very good one. Hon. Members need not fear any assertion of superiority on account of the payment of fees. Again, if there were any tendency in a school on the part of any fee-paying children to assert such superiority, I should think very little of the teachers of that school, and I should think that they were falling behind the high tradition of teachers in this country if they were not able to show those children how wrong that was.

The hon. Member for Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) put two questions to me about Dulwich College. His first question was how many children from the elementary schools would still be in the College. The reply is that it is hoped there will be nearly 100, taking it year by year and including all the age groups, so that is fully 50 per cent. of the present number. The second question which he put to me was as to the conditions under which those children would be selected. They will be selected, just as in the past, on their work in the scholarship examinations of the London County Council. We have also to remember that the fees in this College are pretty high, and if the London County Council does not send so many boys there, it has all the more money to provide scholars with free places in other secondary schools. The responsibility still remains with the London County Council to provide secondary education for those children who have shown themselves capable of profiting by it. The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Cove) has rather excelled himself to-night. I imagine that he has earned the right to feel a little tired after all the energy he has displayed. The first point he raised was the question of the cancellation of the certificate of Mr. John Towers. Both he and the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) accused my right hon. Friend of having taken this action on political considerations.


I will not have that.


Sit down!


On a point of Order. I specifically said to the Noble Lady that I did not in any way subscribe to the allegation. I merely said that it was important that we should have an answer to it.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I am very sorry if I misrepresented the hon. Gentleman, but I wish to say that I have the clearest recollection of that case, and political considerations did not enter for one moment into it.


Oh, but they did!

Duchess of ATHOLL

The hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that professional inefficiency did not enter into it either. Mr. Towers in repeatedly refusing to allow children whose father was receiving no pay to go to the school canteen for their meals, even when he was instructed to do so, and in caning these two boys after they had gone to the school canteen on their father's express instruction, showed himself devoid of humanity, a quality that we expect to see in the teachers in this country. I am afraid that I have exhausted the time available and there is no time to deal with the other questions. I can only repeat that I repudiate entirely the charge of window dressing made against my right hon. Friend's administration. When hon. Members have read the Estimates Memorandum they will see that we are allowing for increased expenditure. We have allowed for an increased expenditure of £779,000 on the part of the education authorities for this year, and that fact in itself shows the expansion for which we are preparing in this year. If hon. Members will study the report they will see the progress that has taken place in many different directions. In spite of great difficulties we are proceeding steadily through the programme which my right hon. Friend called upon the authorities to submit to him, and I have now to ask the House to agree to the Vote.

Question put, "That a sum not exceeding £26,215,728 be granted for the said service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 121; Noes, 228.

Division No. 125.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Ritson, J.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Saklatvala, Shapurji
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Ammon, Charles George Hardie, George D. Scrymgeour, E.
Attlee, Clement Richard Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Scurr, John
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley) Sexton, James
Baker, Walter Henderson, T. (Glasgow) Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Barnes, A. Hirst, G. H. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Barr, J. Hore-Belisha, Leslie Shinwell, E.
Batey, Joseph Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Broad, F. A. Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Bromley, J. John, William (Rhondda, West) Smillie, Robert
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Smith, Ben (Bormondsey, Rotherhithe)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Buchanan, G. Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Snell, Harry
Cape, Thomas Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Stamford, T. W.
Charleton, H. C. Kelly, W. T. Stephen, Campbell
Cluse, W. S. Kennedy, T. Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Compton, Joseph Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Sullivan, Joseph
Connolly, M. Kirkwood, D. Sutton, J. E.
Cove, W. G. Lawson, John James Thomas, Sir Robert John (Angiesey)
Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities) Lee, F. Tinker, John Joseph
Crawfurd, H. E. Lowth, T. Tomlinson, R. P.
Dalton, Hugh Lunn, William Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Mackinder, W. Varley, Frank B.
Day, Harry MacLaren, Andrew Viant, S. P
Dennison, R. Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Wellhead, Richard C.
Duncan, C. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Edge, Sir William Maxton, James Watts Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Montague, Frederick Wellock, Wilfred
Fenby, T. D. Morris, R. H. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Whiteley, W.
Gillett, George M. Murnin, H. Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Oliver, George Harold Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Owen, Major G. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Greenall, T. Palin, John Henry Windsor, Walter
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Paling, W. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Griffith, F. Kingsley Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Ponsonby, Arthur Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Hayes.
Groves, T. Potts, John S.
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Dalkeith, Earl of
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Brown,Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y) Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)
Albery, Irving James Buckingham, Sir H. Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovil)
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James Davies, Dr. Vernon
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan Dean, Arthur Wellesley
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Burman, J. B. Dixey, A. C.
Apsley, Lord Butler, Sir Geoffrey Edmondson, Major A. J.
Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W. Butt, Sir Alfred Elliot, Captain Walter E.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Ellis, R. G.
Astor, Viscountess Carver, Major W. H. England, Colonel A
Atholl, Duchess of Cayzer, Maj, Sir Herbt.R.(Prtsmth.S.) Fairfax, Captain J. G.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Charteris, Brigadier-General J. Fanshawe, Captain G. D.
Balniel, Lord Christie, J. A. Fielden, E. B.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Churchman, Sir Arthur C. Forestier-Walker, Sir L.
Barnett, Major Sir Richard Clarry, Reginald George Forrest, W.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Foxcroft, Captain C. T.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Fraser, Captain Ian
Bethel, A. Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.
Betterton, Henry B. Conway, Sir W. Martin Gadie, Lieut.-Col Anthony
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton) Cooper, A. Duff Ganzoni, Sir John
Blades, sir George Rowland Cope, Major William Gates, Percy
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Couper, J. B. Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton
Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John
Brass, Captain W. Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Goff, Sir Park
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Gower, Sir Robert
Briscoe, Richard George Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick) Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey,Gainsbro) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.
Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Greene, W. P. Crawford
Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Sanders, Sir Robert A.
Grotrian, H. Brent. Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Sanderson, Sir Frank
Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F.E. (Bristol, N.) Macintyre, Ian Sandon, Lord
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Macmillan, Captain H. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm Savery, S. S.
Hacking, Douglas H. MacRobert, Alexander M. Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)
Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich) Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D.Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.) Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)
Hamilton, Sir George Margesson, Captain D. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Hammersley, S. S. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Smithers, Waldron
Hanbury, C. Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Meller, R. J. Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Harland, A. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Harrison, G. J. C. Meyer, Sir Frank Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
Hartington, Marquess of Milne, J. S. Wardlaw- Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington) Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M Tasker, R Inlgo.
Henderson, Capt. R.R.(Oxf'd,Henley) Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr) Templeton, W. P.
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Moore, Sir Newton J. Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Hilton, Cecil Nelson, Sir Frank Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Tinne, J. A.
Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hopkins, J. W. W. Nuttall, Ellis Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universities) Oakley, T. Wallace, Captain D. E.
Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley) Oman, Sir Charles William C. Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Pennefather, Sir John Warrender, Sir Victor
Hudson,Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.) Penny, Frederick George Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n) Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)
Hume, Sir G. H. Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Hurst, Gerald B. Pownall, Sir Assheton Watts, Dr. T.
Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Preston, William Wells, S. R.
Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Price, Major C. W. M. Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Kindersley, Major Guy M. Raine, Sir Walter Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
King, Commodore Henry Douglas Ramsden, E. Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Rentoul, G. S. Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Lamb, J. Q. Rhys, Hon. C. A. U. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Rice, Sir Frederick Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Little, Dr. E. Graham Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'v) Withers, John James
Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley) Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford) Wood, B. C. (Somerset, Bridgwater)
Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green) Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Ropner, Major L. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Loder, J. de V. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Looker, Herbert William Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
Lougher, Lewis Rye, F. G.
Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman Salmon, Major I. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Lynn, Sir R. J. Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney) Captain Viscount Curzon and Major
MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Sandeman, N. Stewart The Marquess of Titchfield.

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.