§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Sir Charles Trevelyan)
beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The House has already given a Second Reading, by a substantial majority, during this Parliament to a Bill to raise the school-leaving age to 15. There was no time to proceed with it during the summer, and the Prime Minister promised that a Bill should be passed before Christmas, and that is our intention. I make bold to suggest that this Bill, which is the first we bring in this Session, is also, by any true standard, the most important. Some Bills are important because they may raise great controversies and others because they are capable of having immediate and dramatic results, but the real importance of legislation depends upon its lasting and prolonged effect upon the life of the nation. What can be more extremely vital than giving another year of school life to 500,000 children?
The main difference between this Bill and the one to which we gave a Second Reading in the summer is that the Clause dealing with voluntary schools does not appear in it. I have no doubt that the majority of the House will, as I do myself, greatly regret the omission of that Clause. It was a bold attempt to solve the not easily solved, to bring together apparently conflicting interests and ideas. Without some considerable measure of agreement I always made it clear that, in this or perhaps any succeeding Parliament, it would be impossible to pass legislation to alter the settlement of 1902. It is unnecessary for me to dwell on the difficulties that surround this topic. I reiterate what I said before, that there is not the remotest possibility of any particular interest getting the whole of what it regards itself as ideally entitled to. There must necessarily be a willingness to concede on all sides.
In the summer there was found a surprising and encouraging amount of agreement among many of the great interests 1090 towards the scheme for enabling the voluntary schools to play their full part in the national reorganisation. I have no intention of dropping my purpose of obtaining a national understanding and I do not believe any single interest in the community will be anxious in the long run to be responsible for preventing an understanding. I do not in the least regret having tried. Our effort, I am certain, has brought a settlement indisputably nearer. I know how anxious many local authorities are to modify the disadvantages of the dual system, and I am prepared at any moment to set to work again to see if agreement cannot be reached. There are controversial aspects in relation to this Bill, but I want to begin where there is complete agreement. The raising of the school age is part of a larger whole. That larger whole is the great drama of reorganisation of school life which is going on now throughout our country. For this great educational reorganisation no party can claim exclusive credit, or, rather, all parties can claim credit. A description of what is intended is given in the Conservative official statement issued before the last General Election. That description ran as follows:In the last four and a half years the ground has, in fact, been prepared for something that this country has never had before—a complete and balanced scheme of education. This scheme will provide courses of higher education for all children, instead of a select few, in schools adequately equipped and staffed for the purpose, and will enable them, if their parents so desire, to continue their education at least until the age of 15. It will link the schools not only with the universities, but also with the great technical colleges, so as to offer opportunities to all who desire to do so to pursue a connected course of study from childhood to manhood; and it will assist those who could not otherwise take advantage of these opportunities by an adequate provision of free places and scholarships, supplemented where necessary by maintenance allowances.All but a few words of that statement would have done for a Labour manifesto, but, at any rate, I think that all sides of the House will agree that it is a good statement of the main aim of reorganisation.
I want, first of all, to try to make the House fully realise how formidable and sweeping a change in education is in 1091 progress. While there is stagnation in most of our staple industries, and while lack of commercial development makes us all and everywhere anxious during this same period, there is no quarter of England, there is hardly a county or a great city where educational activity is not more and more apparent and where new schools are not springing up, and where new opportunities are not being prepared for classes of children who have never had their full opportunity before. What is the object of this great outburst in educational reorganisation, the extent of which I shall dwell on in a few moments? The most highly developed part of our national system of education for the last 200 years has been the long period of training for the children of the well-to-do in the schools adapted to their higher teaching. But for the bulk of the workers' children, in the 60 years during which education has begun to be universal here, the only chance was to be obtained in the elementary schools, which were organised, in the first instance, for small children up to the age of 10 or 12. The elementary school has far outgrown its original purpose of teaching the three R's to small children, but it has still remained an organisation on the old basis where the classes for older children, as the age has been raised, have been added to the existing schools with an insufficient attempt to provide advanced education. The object of the present great reorganisation is to ensure a real education between the ages of 11 and 15 in schools devoted to that purpose.
As I have shown, there is in general, agreement as to most of the principles of reorganisation. There is, however, one part of the great change envisaged by the Hadow Committee which is being carried on now about which the Noble Lord opposite has always been sceptical and is now openly hostile. A definite and important part of the reorganisation proposed by the Hadow Committee and prepared for, now by the local education authorities has been the raising of the school leaving age. In the education world there is hardly an effective challenge to the idea that it is about time we did it. How is a real challenge possible? What is good enough for the children of the well-to-do is surely good 1092 enough for the children of the working classes. There is a general agreement that it must be done soon, with the exception, I am sorry to say, of the Noble Lord opposite. Although he gave a general adhesion to the Hadow Report, and even seemed originally to accept the possibility of a later raising of the age, he has now come out into the open and has declared definitely against raising the school age. His attitude appears to me to be a curious one. He is fully aware that he cannot say, "My class has always had these chances of prolonged education, but I deny it to the workers." He has taken up a new position. I quote from his speech to the British Association. He said:At present our attitude towards higher education is vitiated by three unhealthy influences. The first is the superstitious reverence for full-time schooling which we owe to a hereditary governing class.Again, he said:An increasing number of 'upper' and 'middle class' parents must experience an uncomfortable feeling that, after all, this or that one among their sons might have developed stronger intellectual appetites if he had gone through a workshop apprenticeship at a comparatively early age. Yet this is the moment we choose for compelling all parents to burn incense to this aristocratic idol of indiscriminate fulltime education.So that what the Noble Lord now says is that he finds that at long last his class was wrong. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where are you?"] My class, then, if you like. I want to know where the Tory party stands. Just when the working classes are coming into their own, just when long schooling is beginning to be within sight for them, the workers are to be put off with the excuse by the upper class that: "We have been wrong all along; do not fall into the same mistake we made for our sons." It really will not do. There is nothing wrong with long schooling itself. There may, under any system, be some wasted days. In spite of that, no upper class father fails to keep his son at school until 17 or 18, whether he be clever or stupid. And what has been practised by the upper class for 200 years, it is time we began for the workers. I refuse, until I see it, to believe that the Conservative party, even under the ingenious leadership of the Noble Lord, is going all out against the raising of the school age to 15. There 1093 may be, and of course there are, formidable differences between us as to conditions, and especially as to the date proposed by the present Measure—April, 1931. That date has been chosen by the Government of deliberate intention and purpose for reasons with which I shall deal in a few moments. I have never denied that we were asking local education authorities to do a difficult thing in suggesting that they should be ready for raising the school age by this early date. Knowing that it was difficult, we gave them the added inducement to vigorous preparation by raising the building grant from 20 to 50 per cent., and there has been a magnificent response.
I want to make quite certain that the House understands what I tried to make clear to it in the summer. I have never said, and I do not say now, that full reorganisation will be complete in all parts of the country by April, 1931. Preparations are going on at the most extraordinary pace, and they are going on all the faster because many authorities would like to have reorganisation complete when the school age is raised. In the summer I said that there were 317 local authorities in England and Wales, and that all except 55 had sent in programmes. The record is now that all except 33 have sent in programmes, and the bulk of those who have not are working hard on schemes of reorganisation. I gave figures in the summer of the large capital expenditure on the building of elementary schools. The figures which I now give are even more remarkable. In the year ending 30th September, 1929, the capital expenditure approved by the Board amounted to £4,600,000, and that was up till then much the largest building year on record. But this year, up to 30th September, the approved capital expenditure rose to £7,555,000. Thus building has nearly doubled.
Another figure I will give to the House is in regard to the actual number of new school buildings. In May, it was possible for me to say that 100 new schools were being built and 350 enlargements were under way, in the period since October, 1929. To-day the figures for the full year show that 195 schools have been got under way, and that 844 enlargements have been or are being undertaken. I said in May that the information given me by my trustworthy staff of inspectors enabled me to say confidently that there 1094 were 140 local authorities which would have substantially reorganised most of their areas in time for the new school year. That statement still holds good, except that the list is longer rather than shorter. This is a picture of a national effort of which the country ought to be consciously proud. Within a year or two there is every reason to hope that reorganisation will be an established fact throughout the country.
I want the House to understand clearly that if we raise the school age at the early date next year selected in the Bill there need be no anxiety as to there being sufficient accommodation for the extra year of children, and in most places satisfactory accommodation. I have gone into the matter very fully with my inspectors, and they tell me that there need not be any serious difficulty in any part of England. There will be a few crowded towns where it will be necessary to hire halls or some outside buildings for some months until new schools are completed, but it is not true, as has been stated, that there are many places where there will be huge classes in the upper region of the schools. As a result of the raising of the age, very few of the upper classes will rise, even for a time, as high as 50. In the rural counties there is little or no difficulty in accommodating the extra year.
Some doubt has been thrown on our ability to find teachers. I gave in the summer a rather full statement of the position, and to those figures I still adhere, and I am prepared to discuss them, if necessary. I was then able to inform the House that I had every reason to think that there would be enough teachers if the school age were raised in April, 1931. A further review of the position and the returns so far available of the entry into training colleges this autumn only go to confirm what I then said. I can find no ground whatever for thinking that authorities generally will be unable to secure a sufficient supply of qualified teachers. The general quality of the increased number of teachers, even in such greater numbers, is particularly encouraging. Many hon. Members will be pleased to hear that of the extra new students coming into the training colleges there is an influx of men in larger proportion than before. The other day I was given an instance of the new Training 1095 College at Loughborough, at which it was originally intended to admit 20 students in the year, but so great has been the number of applications that the admissions have had to be doubled, and there is already a long waiting list for next year. The applicants, most of them, have entered with the Higher School Certificate and have all passed Matriculation, and many of them come from local engineering works. The facts seems to be that the misfortune of bad times in the industrial world is leading many of the best men to seek the teaching profession.
I say, therefore, that the school age can be raised by April, 1931, that there is school accommodation, that there are teachers, that there will be little overcrowding, that reorganisation is rapidly proceeding, and that while in every part of the country we are not yet able to promise the best possible form of education at once, in many areas our preparations will actually be complete by that time. I invite the House not to wait for perfection. There is a supremely important reason for adopting the proposed date. In all quarters of the House there is anxiety about unemployment. From many quarters we hear a complaint that the Government are not dealing drastically enough with the situation. I confidently offer this great change as an effective contribution to the problem about which we are all thinking. There are 500,000 children who leave school every year here and in Scotland. Most of them try to obtain employment. Of course, no accurate figures are obtainable, but a large part of them undoubtedly succeed in obtaining employment. There are some towns where the majority of children can get work at once. There are other towns where their chances are not as good, but I do not believe that it is an exaggeration to say that in the first year after leaving school probably some 300,000 children obtain employment. If they were to stay in school, in most cases somebody else would have to do their work. In some cases it would be older children, and in other cases it would be adults. It is open to Members to make their own calculations and their own estimates. For my part, I believe that if 300,000 children were kept out of the labour market it would not be an exaggeration to say that 150,000 older 1096 people might obtain work. It is for this reason that I ask the House of Commons to dare to take some risks: to ask the local authorities to be ready to take emergency measures and even to submit to some inconvenience. Of all the moments to make this change this is the best, when we are needing all possible expedients to deal with a tragic industrial situation.
I ask help from all quarters of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on Tuesday repeated his declaration of last year. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman said:At any rate what I am asking the Government is, first that they should carry out the definite pledges which they gave before the Election. If they carry out the proposals embodied in the Prime Minister's speeches and in 'Labour and the Nation' with regard to unemployment, in so far as we are concerned, we shall he only too happy to support them so that at any rate the right hon. Gentleman cannot complain that there would he no majority in this House." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th May, 1930; col. 1383, Vol. 239.]He repeated in almost the same words his reference to "Labour and the Nation" on Tuesday. In "Labour and the Nation," under the heading of "Unemployment," stands prominently the withdrawal from the labour market of children under 15, with the necessary provision of maintenance allowances, and I have full confidence that the right hon. Gentleman will not fail to fulfil his twice-repeated pledge of active support to our policy. The effect of this Measure on unemployment is my answer to the anxious economists who are groaning over the cost of raising the school age and of providing maintenance allowances. The expenditure is doubly worth it—is worth it, first and foremost, because it will repay us in improved ability, knowledge and sharpened intellect in a whole army of children, but it is worth it also because, not being wasteful expenditure, it tends substantially to reduce the unproductive expenditure on unemployment benefit which it would relieve.
I will now say a few words about the proposals for maintenance allowances which trouble many friendly critics and critical friends. I am told that the subject of maintenance allowances is going to constitute the main attack upon the Bill. The first thing that I should like to say about it is this, that whether the 1097 proposals of the Government are too generous or not it cannot be claimed that there is any difference of principle between the different sides of the House. I have already read out to the House the Official Statement of Conservative Educational Policy in the document called "A Charter of Opportunity for Every Child" issued before the General Election, and in that the Conservative party say:It will assist those who could not otherwise take advantage of these opportunities by an adequate provision of free places and scholarships, supplemented, where necessary, by maintenance allowances.Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who put their hand to that can say what they like to the effect that our proposals will give maintenance allowances in cases where they are not necessary, but what they cannot say is that the principle of maintenance allowances where need exists is wrong. But it is understood that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs is also uneasy about maintenance allowances. I am sorry because Carnarvonshire has been showing a lead in this matter and has been giving maintenance allowances in order to raise the school age to 15 already. But what is more important to point out is the avowed policy before the Election of the Liberal party. The resolution passed at the Liberal party Conference at Yarmouth in October, 1928, ran as follows:The elementary' system should be reorganised by the provision for children of 11 and upwards of a greater variety of schools adapted to their varied capacities. To make this possible the difficulties attending the dual system of elementary schools must be overcome and the school-leaving age should, as soon as conditions permit, be raised to 15, with maintenance grants where necessary.I say, again, that, whatever objection there may be in detail to the proposals of the Government, the Liberal party cannot, on principle, set itself against our proposals, and I hope we need not take the hint given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs too seriously. I never attempted to say that it was a logical proposal to pay maintenance allowances between 14 and 15 and not to pay them in the earlier years. I say simply that it is a question of necessity and common sense arising out of the condition of 1098 our people. I say that we are absolutely bound to take into account the poverty, unemployment, and low wages of a large part of our people. We may hitherto have been able to go on raising the school age without any maintenance allowance, but the time comes, and it has come now, when there are innumerable families all over the country where the wage earned by the children is most material to them. These are not parents who do not care for education. Many of them are passionately anxious to obtain it for their children, deeply conscious of the disadvantages under which they themselves have laboured from too short years in school; but they feel that they cannot voluntarily forgo the wage which their children could obtain. Local authorities already give without grudging, and we all think it right, maintenance grants and scholarships of various kinds to clever boys and girls. Are we always only to consider the clever ones? What a narrow conception that is of human development! Where there is money in a family, does the father only send his clever son to school? He is just as anxious for the education of the less forward members of his family. Then let the nation be no more grudging when it is dealing with the average child than it is now generous in dealing with the clever one.
The proposals in the Bill are more liberal to the claimants for maintenance grants than those proposed by the Committee of the Local Education Authorities which we discussed in the summer. Strong feeling has been shown that the first proposals did not take enough into account the dislike which exists of close inquiry into means and the fear in some places of meticulous investigation. The Bill which we are now discussing therefore proposes that parents who are claimants for grant shall make a simple declaration of income. That declaration can be challenged in Court, and if false, the parent can be severely punished, but if correct the declaration will carry the right to the weekly grant. It was also very generally urged in many quarters in the summer that the original income, limit proposed by the Local Authorities' Committee was too low, and that the limit set would exclude many people to whom the possible loss of their children's wage would be a serious family hard- 1099 ship. We have, therefore, taken a considerably higher income limit which, although it does not follow it with any exactness, compares not unfavourably with the standard at present existing in London. We have taken a standard which is sufficiently high, we think, to include all wage-earning families where, by any stretch of argument, the need can be regarded as considerable. We are proposing that the limit should be set under regulations made by the Board so that if, after experience, we discover that there ought to be amendment, it will be possible to alter the standard. I hope that in all quarters the present proposals will be regarded as sufficiently fair and equitable.
I should like the House to keep a just sense of proportion in dealing with this Bill and not to be led down by-ways of timidity in dealing with a very great reform. On the first day of the Session the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs begged the Prime Minister to put drive into his team, and regretted the lack of vitamins and red corpuscles in our legislation. He cannot complain about this Bill. No bigger thing can be done for our country than we are proposing here at this juncture. This Bill is the charter of the average child. Hitherto, we have said: "Let the unusual and remarkable boy or girl have their special chance of education." We have promoted youngsters who could show cleverness at the age of 12 to some of the opportunities which the children of well-to-do people get. But, in the first place, the age of 12 is much too soon to know where ability lies. Much of the most vigorous talent lies dormant until 14 or 15. Those who develop slowly often develop best in the long run, yet our present system gives them no chance.
In another and more general sense our present practice is such lamentable waste. We train children until the most fertile years and then thrust them out in industry. The years from 13 to 17 are the most important of all. Each year is then worth three times one of the earlier years because the individual begins to waken and both reason and emotion become powerful and conscious forces. More and more it is upon the average child that the future of our nation depends. How do we find ourselves anxiously facing a new world, where we can claim no 1100 monopoly and no primacy in modern industry 2 What is the great need? It is not merely that we want great industrial leaders; it is not merely that we want clever boys and girls, picked out and trained to hold key positions in science and commerce. Our chance of success is if our nation has a mass of average men and women with high training and mental activity capable of enabling them to meet the changing world and its new stresses. Therefore, we demand this new chance for the average child. It is a great thing that we offer to the rising generation, and we older men in this House must not stand in the way of youth. I do not think the nation will thank any party, any section, any creed or any class which is going to make it difficult for us—on whatever excuse of economy or of detailed imperfections in our proposals—to realise what all the best and most thoughtful of our people have already waited too long to attain.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add the words, "upon this day six months."
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for having devoted such a large part of his speech to an advertisement of my views. As regards that part of his speech I will only say this, that I never thought in the year 1930 to hear the voice in this House of the old Whig landlord of 100 years ago. The House will have noticed a curious omission in the right hon. Gentleman's speech. Never once did he use the word "compulsion" —so candid was his support of the Measure. It is characteristic of the old Whig landlord to say: "Everything that the Whig aristocracy have ever done must be right, and working men must be compelled to do the same." That is all that I need to say about that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. His speech shows the danger in which the House stands. The House is getting rather tired, rather weary of the Government's successive efforts to draft a School Attendance Bill. This is the third attempt and the right hon. Gentleman has had nothing to say in favour of it except what he has said so often before. On first glance, the Opposition would not appear to have anything fresh to say against it except that it is as perfunctory as its predecessors, and, if possible, more mischievous. In these circumstances, we 1101 are in danger of following the right hon. Gentleman's example and simply drifting back into a dreary repetition of our old debates. That temptation we must resist. During the last two days appeal after appeal has been directed to the Government from all quarters of the House to face a new situation in a new spirit. We must, if we can, on both sides of the House use this debate as an opportunity to reinforce and to drive home that appeal.
For 20 years the raising of the school-leaving age has been the routine resolution passed by conferences of educationalists and for 60 years it has been the standard trade union policy to prevent or to cure unemployment by "keeping the boys back" from industry. Do not let us waste our time to-day in asking whether those old resolutions and those old policies of the past were right or wrong. As the House knows, I have opposed them. I have opposed them even more consistently than the right hon. Gentleman gave me credit for. Let us assume that I was wrong in opposing them. What the Government cannot realise is that the very fact that those were the old slogans of the past is a presumption that they are out of harmony with present needs and the unprecedented economic crisis that we have to face.
This "red corpuscular" measure which the right hon. Gentleman presents to the House—I do not wonder that he presents it as a most important measure, for it is all that is left of the Labour party's programme to cure post-War unemployment, as the Prime Minister calls it. The unemployment that we are dealing with to-day is not post-War unemployment. It has as little to do with the War as the hungry forties of the last century had to do with the Napoleonic Wars. It is an economic crisis unprecedented in its causes, and in its magnitude. Therefore, do let vs try to examine these proposals, not in the light of the amiable enthusiasm[...] of our grandfathers, but in the light of the desperate needs of the present day. What is one of the admitted needs of the present day? It is that by every possible means we should maintain the purchasing power of tae masses of our people and maintain the employing power of what I may call the employing classes. We have, admittedly, got to a stage 1102 where any reduction of income of any class in the community is reflected either in a reduction of purchasing power or in a reduction of employing power.
What does this Bill do? According to the right hon. Gentleman's figures, which I think are an over-estimate, after paying your maintenance allowances to the parents of these children you are reducing the weekly budget of some 300,000 families in this country by about 7s. per week; you are reducing their purchasing power by that amount, and in the second place you are increasing the taxation on what I may call the employing classes by at least £7,000,000 to £9,000,000 a year. That, I think is a gross under-estimate of the cost of these proposals. To my mind, every penny of that reduction in working-class family budgets is going to be reflected in a reduction in the demand for those things which they commonly buy, and every penny of that extra burden on the employing classes is going to be reflected in less employment, especially for young boys and girls. That is the certain and immediate effect; but the right hon. Gentleman comforts himself with the belief that ultimately there will be a compensation because you will be employing more people to replace the children you are keeping in the schools.
That brings me to my second point—the effect of this Bill upon employment. Here again I ask the House to look at the problem of juvenile employment as it exists at the present moment and not as it existed 20, 30 or 40 years ago. In old days juvenile unemployment was due to the fact that with a rising birth rate you had wave after wave of the younger generation coming into industry in continually increasing numbers; you had juvenile unemployment because of the over supply of the labour market. Now you have, and have had for some years, a declining birth rate so that that influence no longer operates. The cause of juvenile unemployment to-day is something totally different. It is not an increased supply of juvenile labour but a fluctuating supply of juvenile labour, and the uncertainty of being able to get juvenile labour is inducing every big employer to try and cut down his requirements in juvenile labour and to employ fewer and fewer young workers between the ages of 14 and 17 years. It is that change in the employment policy of industry which creates the little juvenile 1103 unemployment which we have had recently. Until a year ago there has never been a period in the history of this country when there was so little juvenile unemployment as during the five years before the present Government came into office. It has been reserved for this Government during its tenure of office—perhaps it is not their fault—to see the amount of juvenile unemployment in this country almost doubled. The rise in juvenile unemployment has been one of the most marked features of the last year. But of all the periods of fluctuation in the supply of juvenile labour the next few years are going to be the worst, because owing to the low birth rate during the war you are going to have a steep decline in the number of juveniles seeking employment followed by a very great rise, owing to the high birth rate immediately succeeding the war.
Industry is trying to dispense with young labour, and what we need to do to-day in order to prevent juvenile unemployment is not to dam back the flow of juvenile labour but to stabilise it and prevent violent fluctuations. The effect of this Bill will be to accentuate the violent fluctuations in the number of juveniles who will seek employment in the labour market during the next five years, and- for that reason, instead of finding a compensation, as the right hon. Gentleman contemplates, for a reduction in the family budgets by an increased employment for juveniles, you are going to shake the faith of industry in the utility of boy labour and thereby enormously increase the amount of juvenile unemployment during the next few immediate years. That is the second reason why we say that this Bill, which we are quite ready to discuss on academic lines, is fatal in the present circumstances and in the present economic crisis, from the point of view of the very problems it is designed to solve. All that I need say further on that point is this. The Government have changed their minds very often as to the amount of unemployment that is going to be created by "keeping the boys back," but they have at last come down to the modest suggestion that it will result in the employment of 150000- Juveniles who are now unemployed.
§ Lord E. PERCY
What the right hon. Gentleman said to a deputation was 150,000 older children. He may have been wrongly reported.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
I must have been wrongly reported because I have always said that there would be larger numbers of older children and larger numbers of adults.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I will leave that matter in that case. Let me say, however, that if any extra employment results from this Bill it will not be more than sufficient, probably it will be much less than sufficient, to counterbalance the influence of the extra taxation in inducing many people of the employing classes to cut down the number al people they employ. [Interruption.] No one knows it better than the right hon. Gentleman that all employers are tending now to cut down the number of people they employ, and yet hon. Members apposite seeing the results of their policy of heavy taxation cannot learn the lesson.
Now let me come to what is or ought to be the main purpose of an Education Bill—namely, education. What about the educational effect of this Bill? The point to be remembered is this: the problem we have to meet in these days is that a great majority of the children whom you will be keeping in school under this Bill will have to earn their living in the factories of the country. We were reminded the other day by the Lord Chief Justice that education is not apprenticeship. Neither is education schooling. It is in the factory, whatever your school-leaving age may be, that at least half the education of these children must be carried on.
§ Lord E. PERCY
That is What I have said in the extracts which the right hon. Gentleman has read. He does not agree; but that is precisely my view. At the moment I was not raising any controversial matter. What I say is that in raising the school-leaving age by this Bill to 15 it must be remembered that a great majority of the boys who are going to be taught under this Measure will be 1105 going into the factories, and that it is in the factories after the age of 15 that their education will be completed. That is obviously true of the children with whom you are dealing in this Bill. [Interruption.] The essential thing if you are to get a great improvement in education—this is what every teacher will tell you—if you are to get a great reform in education, is to mobilise the closest co-operation between the factory and the school, and the technical college, in order to make sure that your school education, your factory training, your conditions of work, work together and that the child goes up a steady incline as it were into life instead of having to change his gears violently when he goes from school to factory.
The outstanding fact of the present day is the change which is now coming about in the whole nature of work in the factories, a change in the nature of the work which the worker has to do; a change in the needs and methods of industry. We are going through an industrial revolution, which shows itself in a fundamental change in many of the processes of industry. These changes tend to eliminate both heavy manual labour and highly developed manual skill, and to substitute for heavy manual labour repetition work and for highly developed manual skill a different kind of skill, a skill which has to show itself, if I might express it in an amateurish kind of way, in the ability to handle mechanical appliances on a large scale. You see that change in the tendency, in the engineering industry for welding to supersede moulding. A change of that kind must involve a change in education as well. In old days, when the skilled artisan depended on manual skill mainly, the carpentry bench, the type of practical instruction that you could give in a primary school or in the new central school, was a very good foundation preparation for the training in the factory. What you need to-day is an education which will develop mental keenness, mental gifts a great deal more, but will develop them by an educational method that is very largely in touch with the machine upon which that skill has to exercise itself—[Interruption].
The old slogans of 30 years ago are really no good to-day. You can see this 1106 process going on before your eyes in every American high school at this moment. It is the keynote of American education—[Interruption]. I hope that hon. Members are not going to re-act back again towards the obstinate and unreasoning horror of vocational training which they exhibited at the end of the War. That, as every teacher knows, held up educational progress and the development of technical education more than anything else in this country, and we are suffering to-day from having missed an opportunity greatly to develop technical education. [Interruption.] Hon. Members must realise that in those wild interruptions of what I am saying they are exhibiting just that crass impenetrability to ideas—[Interruption]. We have had, in the last few years, a great advance in the mobilisation of industry and education around the technical colleges, in the improvement of our technical education in connection with the schools. That is the real line of advance in the future. And it will mean for a great many people longer full-time education. It will mean for others a much higher grade of part-time education in continuation schools. But the needs of the new industrial revolution, the needs of industry in future, will be infinitely varied.
What does the Bill do? It cuts across the whole of that mobilisation of industry and education. It cuts across the whole organisation of technical education. It throws the whole system of continuation schools out of gear by taking away one year. We have been given no information as to how the whole system of technical education is to be adjusted to this disturbing factor. No account has been taken of the apprenticeship systems of many industries. What steps has the Minister taken to see that industry will adapt itself, in its apprenticeship rules, to this disturbing factor of the Bill? What steps have been taken to see that industry will recognise the education given in central schools, as some industries recognise the education given in secondary schools for apprenticeship purposes? All this class of consideration has been wholly ignored. Above all, by spending these enormous sums of money on the primary stage of education, you are ensuring that for many years to came no local education authority will have the money to spend on the 1107 development of technical education in co-operation with industry.
This Bill is a Bill to sterilise originality in education—[Interruption]. The industrial revolution is to go on. It is to grind up the population like a juggernaut, throwing many men, and especially young men, out of employment, because you will take no trouble to adjust your educational system and your educational methods to the progress of that revolution. Under the name of educational reform you are preparing for yourselves and for the people of this country the most terrible difficulties, the most terrible maladjustments between education and industry, the most terrible risks of unemployment in the future, by holding up industry and preventing the increase in the productive efficiency of industry. You are, by a slapdash educational measure, running the risk of doing precisely what every step in Government policy ought to avoid—putting a hindrance in the way of the reorganisation of industry for greater efficiency. What are you putting in its place? What are you putting in the place of the technical college and the continuation schools which you ought to develop?
The right hon. Gentleman talked a great deal about reorganisation. It is quite true that there is no stronger supporter of reorganisation than myself, but one thing I always tried to do, and that was to prevent this reorganisation becoming a slogan and resulting in the stereotyping of a uniform system, all over the country, of central schools and junior schools. I tried, especially in the rural areas, to urge people to experiment. I urged them to experiment with the village school and the village central school so as to keep the children, if possible, in the rural atmosphere, and not to send them into some market town. I tried to get flexibility. I said many times that I did not want a situation ever to arise in which the employer would ask the boy who was coming to him for employment, "Have you been broken at 11?" The break at 11 was becoming a kind of slogan. But what has happened? Under the influence of the right hon. Gentleman's determination that without exemption, without any sort of consideration for the special conditions of any part of the country, all over the country the 1108 school age must be raised compulsorily—under that pressure the whole of the reorganisation has been coming increasingly under the deadly blight of administrative uniformity.
I get letters from rural areas. County councils ask the Board to approve certain experimental schemes for village central schools. They get back from the Board alternative schemes, which are imposed on the county, for a rigid system of central schools in market towns, to which all the children are to be conveyed. In this effort of reorganisation it seems to me madness to take a series of scattered communities like those in Somerset, and to insist that all over Somerset, or all over Devon, every child must be taken in an omnibus to some central school in a central place 10 or 15 miles away the moment he reaches the age of 11. That is the effect of this premature attempt to raise the school-leaving age. You are getting a deadly uniformity of central schools all over the country. The only practical instruction that you can get at these schools is the practical instruction of the carpentry bench, which is utterly out of touch and out of harmony with the industrial needs or the agricultural needs of the present day. That is the ideal!
§ Lord E. PERCY
Yes. The school garden is very good too, but does the hon. Member really think that it is a very great contribution to the agricultural revolution which is going on at the present moment? I appeal to hon. Members to think of these things in relation to the economic crisis that this country has to face. That is the ideal. But what is the fact at the present moment? All over the rural areas of the country the children are going to be kept in the ordinary elementary school. In my village school they are going on in the ordinary elementary school. In the summer the President of the Board of Education presented a Bill to help non-provided schools, and he justified it on the ground that it was absolutely necessary to get that Measure through in order that the rural areas might be ready for the raising of the school-leaving age. It was not only that they could not be ready without that before next April. Without it they could never be ready. They 1109 could never be ready for the raising of the school-leaving age unless something on these lines was passed. Yet the right hon. Gentleman comes to us to-day without those provisions in his Bill, and he presumes to say that the schools will be ready for the children.
What does he mean by that? The children will be able to get seating accommodation in the schools, and there will be just enough teachers for them, perhaps. The teachers are going to be very largely young married women and old ladies over 60. These are the people who are going to teach boys between 14 and 15, and those boys are to be taught in the elementary school in the rural area, in a lump with the boys of 13 and 12. This is simply a Bill to prolong school life and the only thing that can be said in favour of it by the Government is: "It is true that things in the schools can hardly be ready for it, but, after all, the accommodation and the teaching which they will get in those schools will be good enough for the children of the working-classes." [An HON. MEMBER: "That is too bad!"] It is too bad, I quite agree, to hear the Government openly saying that while they are going to compel children to stay in school, the schools in which they intend the children eventually to stay, will not be there, at any rate in the rural areas, at the time when they begin that compulsion. What does that mean, but that in order to relieve the labour market, in a fancied effort to prevent juvenile unemployment, and, as I believe, an ill-judged effort, they are willing to compel the children of the working-classes to be taught under conditions, under which they would never allow their own children to be taught?
I must say, in conclusion, something upon the subject of maintenance allowances. If there is one thing certain of the present economic crisis in this country, it is that we have to change the whole texture of our society in the future. We have greatly to increase the productive and the consuming power of the masses of the people. That is an attempt which the United States have made, and it is an attempt in which the United States seem to have failed. It has not protected the United States from the slump of the last 12 months, and the failure of the United States is, I think, 1110 mainly due to the fact that they have tried to stimulate mere mass consumption and that their attempt to increase the consuming power of their people was not based on any real attempt to increase the property-owning opportunities of their people, to increase the opportunities of their people to develop a higher standard of individual family life which can only be developed on the basis of the ownership of property. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Of course, the idea of property owning is abhorrent to hon. Gentlemen opposite but, if it be true that a high power of consumption in the people depends upon the development of a standard of economic independence, what must be the effect of proposals like the proposals in this Bill regarding maintenance allowances?
What is the principle behind the maintenance allowances in this Bill? It can only be one of two things. It may be that the Government consider that children between 14 and 15 years might be at work, and, therefore, they propose to pay maintenance allowances to the parents in compensation for the wages which that child cannot earn. But if that be their principle, then what becomes of their assertion that the place for the child between 14 and 15 is at school and not at work? That cannot be their principle. What is the only alternative principle? It is that a parent has a right to demand from the State a maintenance allowance in respect of his child in consideration of surrendering control over that child to the State. That is the only other principle on which maintenance allowances of this kind can be based. It is vain for the right hon. Gentleman to say that we on this side promised maintenance allowances in connection with the "career open to talent" from the school to the university. You might just as well say that because every university scholarship system has been, partly, a system of maintenance allowances and because, for hundreds of years, maintenance scholarships have been granted by places of education, therefore we cannot logically oppose this proposal in the Bill. But the new factor introduced by the Bill is that the Government say, "We compel the parent to keep the child at school. We tell the parent that it is wrong that that 1111 child should be at work, and, because we compel that child to receive education we make a maintenance allowance."
§ Lord E. PERCY
That is precisely where the hon. Member is wrong. It has always been laid down by the Board of Education up to now that, where there is compulsory education, there should be no maintenance allowances. That is the only principle on which compulsory education can be carried on.
§ Mr. SORENSEN
Is it not the fact that there is a system of maintenance grants already in operation, in reference to children who are compelled to attend central schools?
§ Lord E. PERCY
Yes, of course, there are maintenance grants paid in respect of children in central schools and secondary schools, but it has always been laid down that maintenance grants paid for children in central and secondary schools—children of compulsory school age—should not be higher than the amount necessary to cover the greater expense involved in attending that school rather than an elementary school. Moreover, what are the Government doing by these maintenance allowances? The right hon. Gentleman has said that the average maintenance allowance in the secondary school is only £6 15s. a year, and yet in the elementary school it is proposed here to give maintenance allowances of £13 a year. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that he can give maintenance allowances of £13 in respect of children between 14 and 15 in elementary schools, and not create a demand for the raising of the whole standard of maintenance allowances in secondary schools? But the Government have never considered that fact in their Estimates.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I am sorry that I cannot deal with the hon. Member's personal reminiscences because they relate to Scotland about the educational system of which I know very little. But this whole proposal for indiscriminate maintenance allowances is the introduction 1112 of a new principle and that principle can only be, as I have said, that where the Government compel a child to go to school then the parent has the right to some allowance from the State in consideration of having surrendered to the State the control of the child. That is what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and his colleagues mean to have, and that is the only logical principle on which maintenance allowances of this kind can be paid. It is at this moment, in the middle of an economic crisis such as we are facing, that the Government lightheartedly introduce a Bill of this kind, opening up vistas of unlimited expenditure in the more distant future and costing in the immediate future very much more than they estimate, utterly out of touch with the needs of the moment, reducing the standard of living of the working classes, reducing the employing power of the employing classes and calculated, not to diminish, but, positively, greatly to increase unemployment. On those grounds, I ask hon. Members in all quarters of the House, whatever their views may be on the abstract question of raising the school age some time and somehow, to vote for the Amendment which I now have the honour to propose.
§ Mr. HARRIS
We have had two very long, interesting and comprehensive speeches covering a very wide field hut the remarkable thing is that there was hardly any mention made in either speech of the Bill which we are now discussing. It is a very short Bill of two Clauses, but the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education made no serious attempt to expound or explain it. I could not help feeling as I listened to those speeches that they were concerned far too much with a blood feud going back a good many years. There was far too much use of the word "class" by both right hon. Gentlemen and perhaps I may be able to bring the discussion of this problem of education, and of this comparatively small and modest Bill, into a cooler atmosphere. This is not a revolutionary or even a new proposal. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to wish to convey that the Bill represented a great step forward, that it was a great Socialist proposal which was going to introduce a new era of educational and social progress. But this 1113 is not a new principle. It is already embodied in the Act of 1918. I have a very vivid recollection of the introduction by Mr. Fisher of his -Education Measure in the closing months of the War and Clause 8 of that Measure provides—by means of by-laws it is true—for county councils introducing compulsion of this kind in their own areas. I remember the debates and the discussions in those days and I am quite clear that it was the intention of Parliament then that the education age should be raised at the earliest opportunity.
It is true that provision was made for an alternative. The local authorities—I think very wisely—were to have the alternative of either raising the school age to 15 for full-time education, or having part-time education until the age of 16, and educationists assumed then that something of the kind would take place at a very early date. As a matter of fact in 1921 the London County Council—some members of which I notice are protesting against this Bill—put into operation the second alternative proposal I have mentioned, and, for a whole year, all children were compelled to attend so many hours a week at continuation schools up to the age of 16. This arrangement was ultimately modified, the age being reduced to 15 and then, owing to difficulties and the general economic disturbance of the time, it was dropped altogether. That is a good many years ago, and we are inclined to forget how quickly the years pass. The Noble Lord was Minister of Education for five years, and in May, 1925, we had a Resolution of this House, in which the principle of raising the school age, with maintenance, was affirmed, It is true that it was only a Private Member's Motion, but even the Noble Lord at that time accepted the principle. As far as I can make out, he has not gone back on the principle yet. It is merely a matter of expediency. It is a matter of pressure from outside. Unfortunately, he is very sensitive to outside pressure, and I have a good deal of sympathy with him and admire his courage—
§ Lord E. PERCY
The hon. Member says that I am amenable to outside pressure. Will he allow me to say that I have always been opposed, in 1925 and ever 1114 since, to the raising of the school age by compulsion, as he very well knows, and I oppose it to-day.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The Noble Lord is so sensitive that he will not let me complete my sentence. I was going to pay a tribute to his courage. I admired his letter to the Press, a. very bold and splendid letter, in which he stood up to the "yellow" Press. I did not say that he would give way to outside pressure, but merely that he was sensitive to it. I am, however, prepared to say that he still believes in the principle of raising the school age, ultimately.
§ Lord E. PERCY
I really must ask the hon. Member to believe me when I make a statement. I say that I have always been against raising the school age by compulsion, at any time, and I still am.
§ Mr. HARRIS
At no time, whatever the good results of Safeguarding, Imperial Preference, or tariffs, when everybody is at work, at no time in the history of the country is the Noble Lord prepared to raise the school age. Really, I gave him credit for more advanced views. I always believed he was an educationist. I took the view that he thought that this was not the time to do it, when the country was suffering from financial stress, but now we know. The word "never" has been introduced, and I am sorry that the Noble Lord has so committed himself. He is, however, still a young man, and we may yet live to see him repent of that statement, a statement which I do not believe represents the real feeling of the Conservative party as a whole, or of its leader.
The neat incident is the report of the Consultative Committee, the report of the official committee that advised the President of the Board of Education on the possibility of raising the school age. In 1926 that committee issued its report, which had a special significance, and I wish to remind both sides of the House that it recommended the raising of the school age in 1932. This is what the report said: 1115In this matter, time is evidently of the essence of the problem. Neither teachers nor buildings can be improvised, and, in the case of all but a minority of Authorities, an interval must necessarily elapse before the requisite supply of both can be made available. On the other hand, if the preparations require some considerable time for their completion, it is all the more important that they should be begun as soon as possible.Then they go on:The course of wisdom, therefore, it appears to us, would be to pass legislation fixing the age of 15 as that up to which attendance at school will become obligatory after the lapse of five years from the date of this Report—that is to say at the beginning of the school year 1932.The Noble Lord refused to take action. He missed his golden opportunity. We know now why. He did not believe in it. But "the evil that men do lives after them," and we cannot get over the fact that the legislation was not passed then. It meant that adequate preparation had not been made. For four years now local authorities have been uncertain, not knowing whether the age would be raised. A new Government came into power, with a new Minister of Education, and he aroused great hopes and expectations. Last year we had the King's Speech, and what was our surprise to find no mention of education in it—not a word, not a reference. Some of my hon. Friends put a Motion of protest on the Paper, and there were deputations from, among others, the Workers' Education Association, the National Union of Teachers, and the London Teachers' Association.
After a few weeks had elapsed, the right hon. Gentleman announced his intention of introducing a Bill. There was more delay; more weeks went by, if not months, and then the right hon. Gentleman introduced a Bill. I remember asking a number of questions as to when that Bill was to be proceeded with, and after a good many weeks it was printed, and then withdrawn, and a second Bill appeared. This Bill appeared to be of a very controversial character. It revived the old denominational issue and reopened it in almost its old essence. On all sides there was criticism. The right hon. Gentleman assured the House that he had got an agreement, but apparently he was too sanguine, and in due course the Bill was withdrawn. He says that it was due to lack of Parliamentary time, 1116 but I have a shrewd suspicion that it was because there was not general agreement on the denominational Clauses. But those valuable months were lost, giving opportunities to opposition to organise and consolidate itself.
The position is now somewhat changed and is no longer so favourable when he now introduces his Bill on the 6th November. He just missed the 5th November, Guy Fawkes Day. The right hon. Gentleman will be sanguine if he expects to get this Bill into an Act of Parliament before, say, the 10th or 15th December, and that only leaves three months in which to apply compulsory powers. That is unfortunate, because in various parts of the country local authorities have refused to make preparations. I know there are authorities which have done their duty, but no less an authority than the London County Council has refused to make any preparation. I do not put the entire blame on the right hon. Gentleman; his predecessor has got to face the facts; but nothing would be more fatal to the cause of education than a false start.
The failure of the continuation schools in London was largely due to inadequate preparation. In the very beginning the hostility of parents was mobilised. Because of inadequate staffing, unsatisfactory school buildings, and insufficient plans, there was the clamour of parents and children to drop compulsory continuation schools. Nothing, therefore, could be more fatal than to have a false start. The Hadow Report insisted that if we were to have advanced education and to raise the school age, there must not merely be marking time. There must be a change of syllabus and real reorganisation. They assumed, in the greater part of the whole of their report, that before the age was advanced reorganisation would he carried out, and what they contemplated by reorganisation was not merely a regrouping, not merely shifting children from one school to another building, but a complete change of atmosphere; and they rightly pointed out that one of the reasons for the unpopularity of education among a great number of parents in all sections of society has been that it has not shown enough elasticity. It has always assumed that the only purpose of education has been the teaching of history, literature, and so on.
1117 I think the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to admit that if we are going to bring the whole of the population into our schools and keep them there till they are 15, there has to be a very different kind of school from that which we visualised 10, 15, or 20 years ago. I am afraid now that the right hon. Gentleman must admit that the buildings will be inadequate, staffing unsatisfactory, and in some cases short, and that there will not he the variety of teachers necessary in order to justify the raising of the school age; and I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that I think it would be wiser, if he is not ready, to admit it to the House, fix a suitable date, and then pass his Bill. I want to see this Bill put on the Statute Book forthwith, as early as possible, pushed through all its stages, but there is no magic in the two words, "1st April." That might indeed prove an unfortunate date, which would do more harm than good to education.
Both right hon. Gentlemen made very lengthy references to maintenance allowances. Here again there is nothing very new in the principle. It was embodied in the Act of 1907 and in the Act of 1918, and actually to this very day the London County Council is giving maintenance allowances to all children in central schools whose parents have less than a certain income—£130, I think it is; they are actually giving a larger scale of maintenance allowance than this Bill provides. There is one very clear difference, however. The practice of the ex-Minister had been to award these maintenance allowances on merit—they were competitive, though there is nothing in the Act of 1918 that requires it—but they may be universal. The words are quite clear. The Act gives power to local authorities to give maintenance allowances where necessary in elementary schools.
I rather take the line, speaking for myself, that I attach more importance to the education of the ordinary child than to that of the clever child. I think a great mistake has been made in the past in concentrating energy and enthusiasm on developing the abilities of the clever and quick-witted child. They have always been able, and they always will be able, to look after themselves. They will always acquire education. In the past, a, long time before compulsory attendance at school was laid down by 1118 law, the clever child always managed to acquire knowledge, and if it could not go to the day school, it went to the evening school. But the problem now is not that of the clever child, but the ordinary, commonplace boy or girl.
Anybody who knows anything about unemployment knows that it is not the skilled workman who is out of a job but the unskilled workman. Less and less every year there are demands for unskilled labour; machinery, mechanics, and science are displacing unskilled labour over here. Even in the construction of roads the mechanical digger is taking the place of pick and shovel. In America they have faced that fact. The Ford factory and the factories in America and Germany are recognising the need for skilled labour. Germany has developed continuation schools universally because of a recognition of that principle. I suggest that there is a good case against maintenance allowances, but there is not a good case against them being made general. If it is good to give the allowance to some children because their parents are poor, it is good to give it to all children whose parents feel the pinch of poverty.
§ Mr. HARRIS
In London we give them at the age of 14. There is a good reason to give them at 14 in preference to 12, because at 14 a boy is a bigger expense to his parents than at the age of 12.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I do not wish to enter into a controversy on the meaning of the Act of 1918. That provided for children from 12 upwards. Thousands of children throughout the country who go to secondary schools, are getting maintenance allowances at 12 years, and it is given in their cases as a reward for their capacity.
§ Lord E. PERCY
It is well to point out that the Act of 1918 mentions 12, and that the 1921 Act embodies an old Act which was passed at the time when the age of compulsion was not 14 but 11. The principle has always been that there should be no maintenance allowance where there is compulsion.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I do not want to split hairs; it is rather immaterial. As a matter of fact, it dates from the Act of 1907. It is an immaterial point, and does not alter the principle. Whether it was the Act of 1918, 1921 1907 or 1870, is surely quite immaterial. I have never been alarmed at the principle of special allowances. I remember the fury which arose against old age pensions, and I have read the controversy about making education free. It was suggested that nothing would be more demoralising to a parent than to have his children kept at school without any cost to himself. After all, it is not a question of theory; we have to face facts. I agree that the economic position of the country now is very serious, and that it would be impossible to compel parents to keep their children at school another year without making some allowance to them. There may be a real case against the principle, and it may be argued that it is a bad way of distributing money to give parents cash as an inducement to keep their children at school. I am not, however, interested in the parent but in the child. I am prepared when we go into Committee to consider alternative ways of distributing this money. In France they have a system of cantine scolaire, and in Germany children are equipped with the clothing and boots necessary for them to go to school.
There is a case to be made-out against a cash payment, but I want to see the children of the future generation, on whom our prosperity depends so much, have a real chance of a full and generous education, and, unless some money payments are made in the present economic conditions of the country, the proposal will be unpopular, and there will be no great enthusiasm for this educational change. It will make it difficult to operate the Bill if the child has to go short of clothes or food owing to the economic condition of the parent. I support the Second Reading of this Bill as I did last Session. When it comes into Committee, I reserve complete freedom to criticise and to endeavour to make the Bill more effective and satisfactory to all concerned. It is rather unfortunate that London has the same scale as in the rural areas. If it is adequate for London, obviously it is too much for a country village. [Hors. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If 1120 it is not too much for a country village, it is insufficient for London. Hon. Members know that there is a difference the rents, and 5s. is not very much in London where rents are high and the cost of food is much greater—
§ Mr. HARRIS
That shows the wisdom of scrutinising these proposals. If we can improve them in Committee, and, it by our combined capacity we can make a better Measure, the success of these proposals will be the more assured. The first advance in education was made in 1870 by a Liberal Measure. The next great Act was in 1918, which was backed by a Liberal President of the Board. I am prepared to back this next advance, which is brought forward by an ex-Liberal, who was brought up in the Liberal tradition, and I hope that in due course the Bill will become an Act of Parliament.
§ Mr. EDE
I am sure that everyone on this side of the House welcomes not merely this Bill, but the speech with which it was introduced. The speech placed before this House and the country the hopes and the aspirations of this party in the matter of education. I am pleased to note that the President does not despair even yet of being able to bring about some agreement between the Denominations, so that a great part of the difficulties that confront us in the proper reorganisation of education, which is necessary to make this Measure most worthy and effective, may be overcome. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) was particularly nervous lest we should fall into the amiable enthusiasms of our grandparents. Apparently, all the amiability has gone, judging from the tone of his speech this afternoon, and I did not notice any very great enthusiasm either. I notice that he made a plea that we should mobilise co-operation between the factory and the school. That, apparently, is the keynote of the Noble Lord's educational philosophy. Our great grandfathers had that amiable enthusiasm, as was evident from the child gangs that were collected in the poor houses of the south of England and driven across England 1121 into the factories of Lancashire and the industrial districts of the north, where complete co-operation was secured between the factories and the schools. Witness after witness before the Factory Commission urged the great advantage of the scheme, because it enabled them to assure that every child should have an education and would get it near where it worked.
Just over 100 years ago a speech was delivered in this House by a gentleman who rejoiced in the name of Mr. Giddy. He was President of the Royal Society, and he had a very inappropriate name for the President of so learned a body. He spoke in this House on one of the first Motions—that of Mr. Whitbread (the brewers were more enlightened in those days)—to give general education to the poor. The early part of his remarks is a very illuminating paraphrase of what the Noble Lord said this afternoon. He said:However specious in theory the project might be of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would, in effect, be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in agriculture and other Laborious employments to which their rank in society had destined them; instead of teaching them subordination, it would render them factious and refractory, as was evident in the manufacturing counties; it would enable them— to read seditious pamphlets, vicious books and publications against Christianity; it would render them insolent to their superiors; and in a few years the result would be that the Legislature would find it necessary to direct the strong arm of power towards them, and to furnish the executive magistrate with much more vigorous laws than were now in force.I agree that the Noble Lord has abandoned the last part of the story, but the first part puts his case a great deal better than he put it himself. Fifty years ago, in September, 1880, there was a discussion on the question of raising the school age at a meeting of the Epsom Union. A report of the meeting says:The clerk to the Whittlesey Guardians wrote to the effect that his Board had forwarded a petition to the House of Commons protesting against the Act which provides that children should not be employed until they were 12 or 14 years of age. The petitioners maintained that 10 and 12 years were the snore suitable ages. Mr. Chuter—he was my maternal grandfather—agreed with the substance of the petition. They were carrying school teaching too far, 1122 and it was very inconvenient that children were not allowed to work until they were 12 or 14 years of age.I am bound to say that he said that two years before he had an opportunity of consulting me on the point. A neighbouring clergyman said heconsidered it a great hardship to a person with a large family.The Chairman thought they were carrying the teaching a great deal too far; it could not be called education.This is not the kind of education that will be wanted for the children between 14 and 15. I detected in the Noble Lord's speech a hankering after retaining the worst parts of our present system, and the canalisation of the child's life starting from the age of 11. There is no suggestion in his speech that the education of the whole people should be conducted in institutions where each class, and each small division in the class, should be taught side by side, learning one another's strengths and weaknesses. I remember taking part in a viva voce examination for boys of 13½ who wanted to enter a technical school. A boy came before us, and a lady of title who was my co-examiner, said, "Well, my little boy, where do you want to go when you leave school?" The boy replied, "I want to go into a bank." The lady said, "Do you not know that you ought to have got a scholarship to a secondary school at 11 years of age if you wanted to go into a bank?" She was going to turn him down. I said "No, don't turn him down on that. He has not yet told you the hour of the night at which he is going into the bank. If be is going to a junior technical school his entry into the bank may be more profitable than that of the boy who goes through the secondary school." The idea that you can separate children at the age of 11 into those who are going into what are called the black-coated professions and those who are destined for the factory and the mine is one of the worst things in our education system. At least this Bill brings the school-leaving ages of the two kinds of schools a year closer together. In practice it is less than a year, because a child will not leave school until the end of the term in which it is 15, which for some children will mean that they are 15 years and three months, and a child can leave a secondary school at 1123 the end of the school year in which it attains the age of 16, and owing to the long summer holidays that occasionally means that it leaves at the age of 15 years and 10 months.
While the Bill does not bridge the gulf which now exists it is bringing things so much nearer that, from the point of view of breaking down the class distinctions which still mar our publicly-provided education system, it must be welcomed by every educationist. It gives to the average child, to the ordinary child, to the common people, an extended opportunity which the nation, if it follows the precedents of the past, will be particularly keen to take at this time. In 1806, when Prussia lay devastated after the battle of Jena, her king said to her people:We have lost in territory. Our power and our credit abroad have fallen, but we must and will go to work to gain in power and in credit at home. It is for this reason that I desire above everything that the greatest attention be paid to the education of the people.Napoleon said, "I have no time for the A B C." He conquered at Jena, but the work that was done in the schools enabled Prussia to recover, and France, during the greater part of that century, was inferior to her in economic development.
The arguments addressed to us by the Noble Lord all tend to the old view that a wide liberal education is a good thing for the few, but that a vocational education, pumped into the child at an early age, is a desirable thing for the many, and if that be his principle, then between him and us there is an unbridgeable gulf. An hon. Friend of mine who is one of the Members for Birkenhead said to me last year that the greatest argument for the Bill then before us had not been said. He said: "This is a Bill to give children another year of childhood." The factory, the mine, the workshop, the fields will claim them all too soon. Another year of childhood from 14 to 15 is in itself an inestimable boon to the nation in building up the hopes, the aspirations arid the general outlook of a community such as ours. The Noble Lord said this was a Measure to increase the fluctuations that were shortly to take, place in the supply of juvenile labour. It cannot increase the fluctuations; all it can do is to postpone them. The children are born. This Bill 1124 cannot alter the birth-rate of any year prior to this year; doctors will tell us that it cannot alter the birth-rate till next year. These children are in the schools. The Bill can postpone the outflow, what the Noble Lord calls the "bulge," into industry for a year, and that in itself, in the present condition of industry, will be a tremendous boon. Our view is that it is a boon; the Noble Lord's view is that it is a disadvantage.
§ Lord E. PERCY
The trouble is that it is not a bulge. At the end of the year it is not a bulge but a decline in the supply of labour, and that shortage will be increased by this Bill.
§ Mr. EDE
And really it does not. There will be one year in which there will be no output from the schools, because the children will be maintained a further year. From thence onwards the output, that is, the children who 'have already been born will come out a year later. Apart from the fact that the Noble Lord does not want the Bill and that we do, I really cannot see that there is very much between us. I desire to proceed to another point, and to take the example the Noble Lord gave. He said his own school would not be ready. I take it he meant the Albury Church of England school.
§ Mr. EDE
May T assure him, as the Chairman of the Committee responsible for it, that if this Bill is passed his school—not the school to which he sends his children, but that to which his neigbour's children go—will be included in a scheme which will take those children to another rural school and will not involve their being taught in a town
§ Lord E. PERCY
I am much obliged for the information, but I hope the hon. Member will excuse me if I say that I have heard that for the last six years and I am still waiting for it to be done.
§ Mr. EDE
It is called "one of the Duke's schools," and I wish to assure him that that school will be provided for. The rural problem is not the most serious problem, because all over England the rural population has fallen, apart from the fall in the birthrate, and the places where most buildings are available are in the rural areas, although he seemed to think it would be necessary to take the children into the towns. This is a Bill which, as my right hon. Friend has said, was included in "Labour and the Nation." In fact, in the party manifesto it was the only thing mentioned twice. We referred to it once under unemployment and again under education. My right hon. Friend dealt with the manifesto of the noble Lord's party and with the statement made by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite; but there is an even more remarkable thing with regard to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. It is true that Carnarvonshire gives maintenance grants, and when last night I looked in the Municipal Directory to ascertain who were the members of the Carnarvonshire County Council I discovered that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) is one of the aldermen of the county— the county where not only has this been approved in principle but put into practice in detail.
§ Mr. EDE
He is not responsible for his brother. My brother is a Liberal, too.
The Bill does one final thing for which it ought to be placed upon the Statute Book. It does a great deal towards equalising the rights and the opportunities of every child in the country. In discussions on education we hear a great deal about the rights of parents, the rights of teachers, the rights of managers, the rights of education authorities, and the rights of the Lords, but what should be predominant above all the others are the rights of the child. The most precious thing given to earth 1126 is a new child, with all its hidden possibilities; it is the only real recruitment of wealth that this or any other country can get. To give that wealth an opportunity of expansion is something which this House, as the servant of the nation, ought to desire to do. It says to the child in the home where conditions are such that the parents are apt to neglect it, "As far as the State can do it, the mistake of birth shall be remedied in your case." As far as poverty is concerned, the Bill does what it can to reverse some of the misfortunes into which children are born; and, after all, the children in our schools to-day will be even more the victims of the mistakes of our generation than we are. The appalling burdens placed upon us will all too soon be handed on to them, and the least this generation can do is to see that they are well equipped for the task.
I hope that this Bill, rich with the spirit of education, will be administered in the country in the spirit of the speech made by the Minister this afternoon; that it will be used as a means whereby the schools of the common people can be liberalised and a wide intellectual outlook given to every child, and used to provide for those who have managed to miss the secondary schools at 11 an opportunity for that sound general education which an industrial democracy cannot neglect. What did the right hon. Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) say the other evening? "We have become a full fledged democracy before any of us were ready for it." Very true, quite right; and this is a Bill that does something to put a few feathers on to the wings that will enable democracy to fly. For that reason, if for no other, I suggest that this Bill should receive a Second Reading, and go forward to become a part of the legislation of the land at as early a date as possible.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I cordially assent to the eloquent defence of a universal liberal education which has been given in the speech of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). Where I differ from the hon. Member is not in his premises but in his conclusion. I congratulate the hon. Member on his courage not only in breaking away from the principles of his maternal grandfather, which is very desirable for all of 1127 us to do, but in other respects. The criticism which we have heard upon the King's Speech from every quarter of the House has been that it shows an insufficient realisation of our economic situation, and amongst the Measures listed in that speech none seem to me to be more remote from our urgent problems than the Measure now before the House. The hon. Member for South Shields, like the Minister for Education, supports the urgency of this Measure on the ground that by an extension of the school age to 15 a large number of children will be kept out of the labour market, and in this way jobs will be found for the unemployed. On that which is really the vital point, I wish to say, in the first place, that even if those hopes are realised this Measure does not touch the fringe of the question. It is no more a root remedy for our troubles than the cognate proposal, often urged from the other side of the House, which would antedate pensions, and so bring about an earlier retirement of many of the older men. My second point is that I believe, as far as I can judge, that these hopes are purely illusory. The Minister of Education has given us some very remarkable figures relating to the number of men who will be brought back into industry by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has not told us how he got those figures, and I cannot imagine what data, exist for such an estimate. So far as I can judge from inquiries which I have made, I fancy the actual effect upon unemployment will be very small. There will be some effect, no doubt, but nothing comparable with the cost of this Measure. Therefore, if this Bill has to be defended, it must be defended upon some other grounds.
I propose to take up the time of the House for only a few minutes. I speak not as an old Whig landlord or an old Tory landlord, or anything of the kind, but as a humble member of what is called, no doubt erroneously, the educated class. I have had the inestimable advantage of getting my education in precisely the same way, and at the same school and the same college as my Friend the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). I regard this Bill as being inferior in many respects to the Measure to which we gave a Second 1128 Reading last summer. In particular, I felt that the provisions for the non-provided schools were of extreme value in that Bill, and it seems to me an ill-omen that they have been ousted from the present Bill by what I suppose can only be sectarian jealousy. I am perfectly prepared to defend the Measure now before the House with the same kind of argument as I defended the Bill of last summer, but for one reason. I believe now, as I believed then, that the extension of the school age to 15 is a genuine step in educational progress, a view in which I differ from most Members of my own party. I agree, as I agreed then, with the proposals for maintenance allowances in proper cases, not for the sake of the parent but for the sake of the child. I believe it is right to make the child between 14 and 15 a vehicle for a contribution to the household exchequer in order to relieve some of the extraordinary difficulties of early adolescence and to preserve his self-respect.
Where I differ from the Minister of Education is as to the opportuneness of this Measure at the present moment. In the last six months there have been many changes, and these changes have been for the worse. Many of us have come to a new realisation of the exceeding gravity of our national position. There is one problem which has taken precedence above all other problems, and that is the economic problem—how to save what we are losing and regain what we have lost—to unemployment, and what is far more important, the causes of unemployment. In any solution which is suggested to deal with this problem there must be two sides, a negative and a positive, a policy of construction and a policy of conservation. I am not going to say anything about the first side, but I must say a few words about the second. Economy must be a concurrent policy with any attempt at national reconstruction. We are suffering from a dead weight of taxation, and that is one of the causes of our difficulty. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking in the City of London the other day, said that he hoped it would not be necessary for him to impose any new taxation. The likelihood of his realising that hope if he is in office next March seems to me to be about equal to the 1129 likelihood of his being in office next March. At the present time the National Insurance Fund is running into debt at a rate higher than the total annual services of the National Debt before the War. Until that hole is stopped dare we make any other hole. There is no question about these facts. The most drastic economy must be a pre-condition of any attempt at reconstruction. Moreover, in any reconstruction policy more money would be needed, just as with the old-fashioned pumps. You must first pour the water in before you can get any water out.
Economy may take various forms. It may take the form of getting full value for every penny spent. Upon that point I do not think there will be any disagreement in any quarter of the House. It may have to take the form of reducing desirable and beneficial social services, or it may take the form of refusing to spend further money upon such services until we can better afford it. That third proposition seems to me to be the common sense of the situation to-day, and it is the only way of escaping the second. I do not want to see any attempt at retrenchment on our social services, and I am utterly opposed to wage cuts and any attempt to reduce the standard of living. But to escape this we must refrain from any further expenditure on social services at 'he moment. It is no good saying that this is reproductive expenditure. In a sense it is reproductive expenditure—in the long run, but the run is too long, and we cannot afford to wait for it. Every hon. Member of this House knows that many private businesses have been bankrupted by reproductive expenditure undertaken at the wrong moment.
So I have come unwillingly to the conclusion that this Measure or any Measure of this kind should not be proceeded with for the present. I say "unwillingly," because I realise that all educational advancement is unpopular, and I am always happier and more comfortable when I am on the unpopular side. We must concentrate upon one thing, and upon one thing only, and that is the gravity of out economic problem. I would ask this simple question. What is the teal purpose of this Bill? What is the real purpose of all education? Surely it is to enable youth to make a better livelihood 1130 and lead a worthier life. But our first duty is to see that there is a chance of a livelihood. What is the use of providing young men and young women with an expensive equipment for a career if the expenditure we are incurring lessens their chances of a career? This Bill is going to cost during the first year of its operation £5,000,000, after which the cost will be advanced to £8,000,000. The solemn truth is that we cannot afford it.
I make these few observations, because I think it would be a cowardly thing merely to give a silent vote against a Measure which I have already defended in this House and with the principles of which I agree. I make a special appeal to hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. They, like me, believe in the principles of this Measure. As a party they have always professed a. special regard for public economy. If they are honest with themselves, I do not see how they can come to any other decision than that to which I have been regretfully compelled.
§ Mr. SCURR
The President of the Board of Education is to be congratulated on his persistence in bringing forward this Measure, and as far as those for whom I speak are concerned, we are in agreement with him in certain of the ideals which underlie the promotion of this Bill. We have heard this afternoon a very interesting discussion upon those ideals. The Noble Lord die Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) has urged the necessity for more vocational training and fitting our people to be obedient workpeople in order that they may be able to keep up the industries of our country, and I suppose enable them to make more profit for their employers. We have also heard something of the ideals of education for which those who occupy the Labour benches stand. Those ideals have been re-echoed by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan).
I want, for all the children of this country, the fullest and equal opportunity for every possible kind of education. I am not one of those who think that the only training should be a training for a livelihood. After all, man does not live by bread alone, and one of the great problems which will face us in the future, with the growth of rationalisation and the growth of machinery, will 1131 be the right use of the leisure that will arise from that process; and for the right use of that leisure it is necessary to have more than a mere vocational education. I speak this afternoon for a section of the children of this country who, if this Bill passes into law in its present form, will be under a very grave disadvantage indeed, and may not be able to attain the advantages which we desire to secure from the Bill. I refer, of course, to the Catholic community. When the last Bill was before the House I had to speak on behalf of that community, as I am speaking to-day, and I think I can say that I speak for the overwhelming majority of them. I had to oppose some of the suggestions in that Bill, because they did not meet the fundamental ideas which we hold in regard to education.
We hold very strongly to the idea that education is something which concerns the parents, that it is for the parents to say whether they desire certain forms of education for their children. We have shown in the past that we have been quite prepared to pay for that education, and not only have we quite cheerfully and without complaint paid the education rate in respect of the education of those who differed from us, but, on the top of that, we have paid also for the education of our own children, because of our desire for the religious education in which we intensely believe. To-day we have 1,164 elementary schools, with accommodation for 426,000 children, under the Catholic community. If this Bill pases into law, it will mean that places for 30,000 more children, so far as the Catholic community is concerned, will have to be provided. We also have to remember that not merely is this question of the raising of the school age before the education authorities at the present time, but a great educational revolution, a great reorganisation of our system of education, is going on, and, as a result of the Hadow Report, a very considerable expenditure will have to be met by all schools, whether provided or non-provided.
So far as the raising of the school age is concerned, the Government are prepared to meet the provided schools. We are told, in Circular 1404, that the Government are quite prepared to raise the grants to those schools to 50 per cent. But, so far as the non-provided schools 1132 are concerned, and particularly those which are under the Catholic community, there is, as yet, no suggestion from the Government that in equity half our expenditure should be met, or that any form of expenditure should be met at all, except the proposal made last year, which was in such terms and subject to such conditions as we could not possibly accept. I am taking a great risk this afternoon on behalf of my community in saying that we are going to support the Second Reading of this Bill. We believe in the raising of the school age; we believe in it intensely. My community has always been noteworthy for its defence of education and its provision for education. Rather curiously, a day or two ago I was reading a statement by an ancestor of the present Minister for Education, and, if I may, I should just like to trouble the House with these few words from Macaulay:When I consider how munificently the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford are endowed, and with what pomp religion and learning are there surrounded; when I remember what was the faith of Edward III and of Henry VI, of Margaret of Anjou and Margaret of Richmond, of William of Wykeham and William of Waynflete, of Archbishop Chichele and Cardinal Wolsey; when I remember what we have taken from the Roman Catholics—King's College, New College, Christ Church, my own Trinity; and when I look at the miserable Dotheboys Hall (Maynooth) which we have given them in exchange, I feel, I must own, less proud than I could wish of being a Protestant and a Cambridge man.That shows the view that the ancestor of the present Minister for Education took of the work that we have done for education. We have continued that work throughout the ages, and we are continuing it now; and, even if we are not met in fairness, as we ought to be, by the State, we will bear the burden, even though it is going to cost us £1,000,000 to provide the necessary school places for those 30,000 children. I venture to suggest, however, that there is no man or woman in this House who, if they think for a moment or two on the matter, will not say that it is unfair that we should be compelled to bear that burden alone, and that we ought to have the right in equity to the same assistance that is given to the provided schools of this country. I sincerely hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman, considering the fact that we are taking the risk 1133 —as we say, the great risk, in view of what it is going to throw upon our community—of supporting this Bill, he will go forward and negotiate to bring about a settlement, in order that we may be given that justice and that proper equity for the schools which I represent, and which have contributed so much to the education of the children of this nation.
§ Sir CYRIL COBB
As one who has worked for many years on a very large education authority, I should like to say a word on this Bill. I do not wish to speak so much on the question whether or not the school age should be raised compulsorily, because that is a matter on which the London Education Committee has not yet made a direct decision; we are content generally to regard the matter of raising the school age as at any rate an event which must come in the near future. I look upon this Bill more from a practical point of view. Are we going to be able to carry out the details of the Bill in the time that is given? The President of the Board of Education is sanguine on that point, but I have taken some trouble to look into the actual figures and the possibilities of carrying out this Bill and bringing it into operation on the 1st April, 1931, and it seems to me that, in the short time that is in front of us, it will be extraordinarily difficult to supply two essentials of education for the purpose of getting the Bill into working order next year. The two essentials are accommodation—the necessary number of places—and, more important still, the necessary number of properly qualified teachers for teaching the classes.
How do we stand in that matter in London. It is true that London has done as well as any other authority, if not better, in the matter of reorganisation. We have been laying our plans for a long time for supplying the needs of the children of 11 to 14 in the new reorganised schools in London, and we have done that to the extent of at least one-third of our schools. Therefore, we are by no means behind in the matter of reorganisation. While we have been reorganising on these lines, we have kept in mind the possibility that we should have to provide in the near future, not only for the children between 11 and 14, but also for the children of 14 to 15. Nevertheless, when we come to consider whether by the 1st April, 1931, we shall have sufficient 1134 places in our schools for the number of children that will come into them by April, 1932, which is when the full number of children between 14 and 15 will be in the schools, I am bound to say that we shall find it extraordinarily difficult.
We have 599,000 children in our schools. That is our roll at the present moment; and we have to make such provision that, by the 1st April, 1932, we shall be able to put into those schools an additional 38,000 children. That is to say, by April, 1932, we shall have to provide for 637,000 children. The interesting point is that in those particular years, as has already been mentioned in this debate, there will be a very considerable natural increase in the number of children in the schools, so that we shall have to provide, not only for that natural increase, but also for the children of 14 to 15, which makes the total additional number of children 38,000. We also have to remember that, although there will be this natural increase for two or three years, owing to fluctuations in the birth rate, after that time the actual number of children in the schools will drop, and we shall have this very curious position, that, while we shall be providing for these 38,000 extra children between 1931 and 1935, by the time the year 1935 comes round, or certainly as soon as we reach the year 1936, we shall only not require those 38,000 extra places, but we shall not require 11,000 other places, by reason of the reduction in the number of scholars in our schools. That is to say, instead of the 599,000 places which we have to provide in our schools at the present moment, in 1936 we shall only have to provide 588,000 places, or 11,000 less. Meanwhile, owing to the passing of this Bill at this date, we have to provide all these extra places which will not be necessary in 1935.
I say that that is a very great and unnecessary extravagance. It will cost us nearly £500,000 to provide these necessary places, and it seems to me that, if there were any way of putting off the date of operation of this Bill, it would be very much better for the children of 14 to 15 themselves. Then, with regard to the teachers we shall, of course, have to provide every year, as we always do, for the wastage in our teachers. We require something like 15,000 teachers for 1135 the 599,000 children, and in future, in addition to having to provide for 800 teachers to make up the wastage every year, we shall have to provide 650 more teachers for the purpose of teaching the 38,000 additional children who are to be brought into the schools by the operation of this Bill. That means that we shall have to find 1,450 teachers by the time that we have the 38,000 additional children in the schools, that is to say, in April, 1932. That is an impossible task.
The President of the Board of Education skated lightly over this question of the supply of teachers. I believe it is true that the Board of Education was able to induce something like 1,000 extra teachers to enter the training colleges last year, and there has been a considerable increase in the number of students in the training colleges this year. But, even if there were 1,500 extra students training in the colleges at present, they would not afford us anything like the number of teachers to furnish the schools, I will not say of London, but of the country, and incidentally of London, with the necessary qualified teachers. You require two years for a qualified teacher to be trained. We might adopt expedients. We might take in the married women. We might take in the old people of 60 and 65 who have retired from the service. We might take in the graduates after a year's course on the top of their graduate course at the college. But even so we should not be able to secure, as far as I can see, more than a third of the number of extra teachers that we want.
Look again at the question from the point of view of expenditure. I do not mind expenditure as long as it is not wasteful, but here, surely, is wasteful expenditure, because just as we shall not want those 38,000 places, so we shall not want these extra teachers in 1935. It seems to me that it is an unwise course at the present moment to take this action. Supposing we change our plan. Supposing it were possible to postpone the coming into operation of the Bill till 1934. The Hadow report, on which the Bill is very largely founded, was very emphatic on the question that, when this was brought forward for the consideration of the country, there should 1136 be due notice for the local education authorities and the time suggested was, I believe, five years. Suppose we took 1934–5 for the coming into operation of the Bill, we should be in a very much better position. By 1935 we should have got over the difficulty of the extra number coming in from the increased birth rate. We should have the required extra teachers for these children. Then the birth rate goes down. At the same time that it goes down we should have the 14's and 15's coming in. That would effect the necessary accommodation, and it would also ensure that we had the right number of teachers properly trained for the purpose. That would be a very much better way of doing it. I am not quarrelling with the principle of the Bill. I am quarrelling with the way it has been hurried. There are other defects in it, in regard to the expense of the maintenance grant and the rest of it, hut if the Bill could be postponed till 1934, I should not be opposed to it. As it is, I think it ought either to he defeated or withdrawn.
§ Mr. COWAN
I rise to support the Second Reading. The merits of the question of raising the age have been so fully discussed on former occasions that there is really little more to he said by one who supports the Measure than that I am in agreement with much that has already been said. I think that the House was disappointed in the speech of the Noble Lord who moved the rejection, and it might well have been disappointed. I have a very great admiration for him. I have always admired the spirit in which he tackled his job. He knows where he stands, and I think everyone interested in education would benefit by reading a very challenging book which he issued last year. I think that his speech to-day did not attain the level he has attained on previous occasions or in that book. He devoted himself very largely to economic details, but to-day we are hardly discussing that question. If this great Empire has come to such a pass that it is a matter of life and death that we should have some children engaged in employment between the ages of 14 and 15, its case is much more parlous than most of us were willing to believe. I was equally disappointed by the speech of my colleague in the representation of the Scottish Uni- 1137 versities (Mr. Buchan). It gave me very great pleasure, when the last Bill was before the House, to find his voice, even if it were a solitary voice, giving a blessing to the Measure. To-day the hon. Member has told us that, while his views on the merits of this question are as they were six months ago, the economic position has so forced itself upon his attention and has filled him with so much alarm that to-day he finds he must cast his vote against the Measure. He did not give us any very specific details as to what great harm would ensue from bringing it into operation at the earliest possible date. He pointed out that there might be some economic difficulty, that it would cost £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, but every advance has to be paid for in some way or other. He admitted that. His whole point was that we could not afford it at present.
We have heard also from the hon. Member who spoke last that the time is inopportune. I would ask hon. Members if they ever heard an opponent of a Measure say the time for it was opportune. The time was inopportune in 1870 and 1872 for England and Scotland. The time, in the view of a very large number of Members, has been inopportune for every Education Bill that has passed since then, and it will go on being inopportune until they are forced by circumstances to take those steps. But I do not discuss this question as a purely economic question of how much it will cost. We have estimates as to what that may be, but they are only estimates. I put my support on higher grounds. I put it on the broad ground of citizenship, and nothing more. It may be that the raising of the school age will have some effect on the labour market. It may be that the effect will be the finding of employment for some adults. If so, good and well, but whether that be so or not, I contend that it is in the interest of the nation that this step forward should be taken at once. In my view, it is not only time for it now, but it should have been done long since. It has been contemplated for years past but, as time went on, even in the years 1920 to 1922, when the country seemed to be at the height of its prosperity financially and industrially, there was no move forward by the present opponents of the Measure. So now is the opportune time for raising the age.
1138 I am speaking as one who does not represent an English constituency, and to that extent I am an interloper in the debate but, while you are discussing a specific Measure for England and Wales, you are at the same time determining the policy as regards Scotland. We have for years been urging this forward Measure in Scotland. It has not got universal consent, but it has the majority of educated opinion in its favour in Scotland. We are dependent upon your decision on the matter. Unless you pass this Bill, we can have no raising of the school age in Scotland. That, then, might be a personal point of view of mine. I might be speaking for my own advantage, as it were. But knowledge and education know no territorial boundaries or even class boundaries. I should support a larger measure of education for the children in any part of the country or of the world We have heard a great deal about how to consolidate the Empire, and to make the most of its resources. I think there should be common agreement that all the members of the Empire should cooperate in giving the best possible chance to its future citizens. It is not a question of continuing education or no education. It is certain that, if the people of this country are not getting good education, they will be getting bad education. [Interruption.] It is one of my regrets that I am speaking before and not after my hon. Friend. I believe the greatest service that can be rendered to the unity of the Empire is that in every part of it its future citizens should have the best possible opportunity.
We are told that the Measure ought to be postponed. That means that several generations of children are to go without the opportunity that this Bill affords. That loss can never be made up again and, if the State does not do something for the young people in their time of need, when they are not able to do it for themselves, the State will have no right to call upon them later on to perform the due rights of citizenship. Speaking for myself, and I am sure with the approval of a large body of support in Scotland, I welcome the Bill, I congratulate the Minister on the most excellent speech in which he introduced it, and I hope that it will obtain a triumphant majority.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
When we look at the series of Education Bills which the Government have seen fit to produce, one begins to wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education is not a disciple of M. Coue in the way that every day and in every way Education Bills get worse and worse. Knowing as we do the genuine wish to help which the right hon. Gentleman has got, those of us who have had the education, which we are now endeavouring to extend, might well quote the Latin tag,Facilis descensus Averni"and remind the right hon. Gentleman that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. We well know that it is useless for us to preach economy to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They are in their political infancy and have not yet learned that there is only one safe place where a man or a country can live, and that is within their income. They have to learn it by practical experience, and let us hope that they will not learn it at the expense of the bankruptcy of this country, because that looks very likely at the present moment. If we have money to spend, there is nothing on Which I would sooner see it spent than education, but, if we are going to spend it on education, spend it on some education that is going to do real good, spend it on more and better scholarships at different ages, spend it on paying teachers salaries which will get you the best brains in the country, spend it on giving the best child a chance. Do not spend it on this hybrid Measure which is going to do nothing but harm to the children of the country, to the people of the country, and ultimately, though some of them do not see it, to the teachers. The real reason was given away by the right hon. Gentleman. He said that the well-to-do keep their children at school until a much greater age, and why should not the poor man do it?—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
I shall be delighted to give the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills) the details of my past life at any time he likes outside the Chamber, 1140 but they are not relevant to the debate to which we are addressing ourselves. The right hon. Gentleman, as I was saying, said that the children of the well-to-do stayed at school longer than the children of the poor, and why should not the children of the poor have the same benefits? That argument, like so many of these class arguments, is absolutely futile because it begs the main point. It is perfectly true that those who are so lacking in taste as to have more money than others do keep their children at school longer than others, but they keep them at an entirely different type of school. They would not keep them a day longer than they were compelled if it was a public elementary school. If this Bill was a Bill to set up the same kind of schools as those to which the well-to-do send their children, it would be some sort of argument, but it is not such a Bill. It gives an entirely different education. If it is such a benefit, why have you to pay parents to accept it?
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about economic conditions, and at the same time talk about the number of children who are unemployed. They say that you have to give maintenance allowances because of economic conditions. Maintenance allowances are simply, as I have said before, the sugar coating to cover the pill of an extremely unpopular Measure. They know that perfectly well. The object of the recent White Paper dealing with maintenance allowances, which puts them on a flat rate all over the country, was simply to get the maximum number of maintenance allowances, and, as they hope, a minimum of unpopularity for the present Government. The flat rate of maintenance allowances is the worst feature of a very bad Bill, because it may be true that in the country, as the hon. Member for Dartford said, boots and clothes cost more but food and rent cost less—
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
And wages, as he so aptly observes, are lower. But the relation is not the same as anyone who has lived there can tell you. There are some places where it costs more to live and the wages are not higher, and others where it costs less to live, but the wages are higher. Maintenance allowances should be arranged so that everybody is 1141 given the same actual benefit, but not the same literal benefit.
I want to turn now from that side to the educational side of the Bill. Like my Noble Friend the right hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) I am absolutely opposed to this Bill in principle. The hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) was pleased to be playful when the right hon. Gentleman said that he never proposed to introduce a Measure of this sort. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the education of the children is a matter for the parents rather than for the State. Therefore, I should like to see this Measure voluntary and any raising of the school age voluntary. I would like to see the raising of the school age much higher than this, but always voluntary and not compulsory. Putting that on one side, there might be something to be said for this Measure if you were going to keep the children in school another year and teach them something, but you are not. The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said that the rural areas would profit. If the hon. Member really thinks that, I shall be delighted to take him round and show him how wrong he is. It is the rural areas that will not profit, and it is of the rural areas that I am going to speak to-night. I know nothing of the education in urban areas, but I do know something—because it was my job—of the administration of education in rural areas, and Mere this Bill is going to do an infinity of harm.
The rural areas have always been struggling to catch up and to get the same benefits as the town children enjoy. They have been struggling to get the practical instruction, the advanced instruction, the best teachers to teach them. When the Hadow Report was published and the scheme of reorganisation was proposed to be brought into effect, we thought in the rural areas that our chance had come, that at last the rural children were going to get a fair deal as compared with the town children, and then this Bill comes and puts an end to all that. It was bad enough in the last Bill when we had some hope of developing the voluntary schools, and it must be remembered that the vast majority of the schools in the rural areas are voluntary schools. 1142 We had some hope then of getting some money to develop those schools. It was bad enough then, because the building programme in the rural areas was so enormous that it was very doubtful whether we should find the money to do our reorganisation properly in any reasonable period. The President of the Board of Education said to-day that he did not expect the reorganisation would be complete until 1931. If this Bill goes through, in some of the rural areas it will not be complete until 1941, because all the money we were going to spend on new central schools, more teachers and further practical instruction, has to go, not only to provide these extra places, but also to provide maintenance allowances. We are not allowed by law to take children from voluntary schools and send them to provided schools.
§ Mr. OLDFIELD
There are plenty of voluntary arrangements all over the country by which that is done.
§ Mr. BEAUMONT
That is perfectly true. There are many voluntary arrangements, but there are plenty of cases where the children are refused, and therefore those children have to go without these central schools under this Bill, because there is no way of getting the money for these non-provided central schools. Even where a voluntary arrangement is possible, the alterations which will be necessary to the voluntary schools are practically incapable of being carried out. The effect of this Bill in the rural areas is going to be this: You are going to have your children, instead of going to the central schools, in the same old village schools, the same old schools with the children from five to 15 presided over by one or two teachers. You are going to perpetuate that vicious system for good. That is going to be the effect of this Bill in the rural areas. Though it is perfectly true that the National Union of Teachers are in favour of this Bill, there are many rural teachers, who have not the time or the money to go and attend conferences and say so, who are bitterly opposed to the Bill. They have been carrying out an impossible task in the rural areas, and this Bill is perpetuating it. For those reasons, because I believe the Bill is unsound economically, because I believe the Bill is unsound educationally, I am 1143 going to do every-thing in my power to fight it if it passes to-night, and I hope that the House will show its wisdom by rejecting it.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
The President of the Board of Education referred to this Bill as the charter of the average child. Every child is entitled to an education and the average child not infrequently turns out to be a remarkable man. Our biographies are full of average children who have lived to do great things for their time and their country. The House will not deny what I say when I assert that one of the most remarkable and outstanding geniuses in the last two hundred years in these islands was Sir Walter Scott. Yet, when he was at Edinburgh University, the Professor of Greek told him "Dunce you are, and dunce you will remain." I wish to approve this Bill not only as an individual but as the spokesman of the group of Church of England Members in the Labour party. We support this Bill as a substantial contribution to the progress of education. We much regret that the last Bill had to be abandoned. If that Bill had been carried through, we believe a remarkable service would have been done to education.
Although the Bill was dropped, I make an earnest appeal to my right hon. Friend to continue the negotiations with a view to an all-round settlement which will include the non-provided schools. If the non-provided schools are not utilised, one of two results will happen. Either an enormous expense will have to be incurred by the country in building new schools or the schools will be greatly overcrowded and in the interests of the children, the country, the community and the taxpayer, I urge him not to abandon the idea of a scheme that will bring in these non-provided schools. There are areas with non-provided schools in which an immense amount of assistance could be given by my right hon. Friend if the school districts were under the county council. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will try to get an all-round Measure, a Measure which will satisfy the Roman Catholics, the Church, and the Nonconformists. We attach particular value to the support of our Nonconformist fellow Christians to whom the religious life of this country owes so much.
1144 We hope that any settlement which may be made will include all classes. Such arrangements have been partially made in this country already. I do not know whether the House is aware of the fact that in the West Riding of Yorkshire a settlement has been made, which, I am informed by those Members of the House who come from that district, is working very well. In the West Riding of Yorkshire the non-provided schools are leased to the local authorities who pay a peppercorn rent. If the schools require to be put in order, they put them in order and they keep them in order. The children get religious teaching on every day of the week and denominational teaching twice a week. A similar scheme to that in the West Riding of Yorkshire has been established by the Bradford City Council and also, I am told, by the Middlesex County Council. Is it not possible for the beginning made in these places to be followed up with the object ultimately of spreading a system all over the country which will satisfy all sections of the community. It is very important in discussing this Bill to remember it is the children that matter.
I am very glad to have been told that one result of the Bill will be to relieve the labour market of a considerable number of children. T am very glad that that should be so, and I have no doubt that it will he so, but I should still support the Bill if that were not true. We are told that it will he of assistance to parents. I am glad that the parents should get assistance, but, again, I say I should still support this Bill if that part of it which deals with maintenance were not in it. It is the children of whom I am thinking, the importance of giving children another year of education. We are told that some parents are opposed to their children being retained in school for another year. I do not wonder at it when I think of the rotten education which a very large number of the parents in this country have received. I do not wonder if they say "My education did not do me much good. I was kept at school, and here I am, and it has not helped me. Why should my child be retained at school?" The way to abolish that spirit is to improve education, which is the aim of this Bill. I would point out, in passing, that in proposing to raise the age from 14 to 15, we are only following the example of 1145 some of our more enlightened colonies. In Canada the leaving age in several of the provinces is 16, and in South Africa the age is from 15 to 16 for children of European parents in different provinces. So that we are really riding behind our own colonies in allowing 14 to remain, as it is now, the leaving age. I have never realised the importance of education so much as I have since I entered this House. I am not going to make any imputation against Members of this House. We are engaged in solving the most important problems.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
We are trying to solve the most important problems. We are living in an age of stunts. I hate the word "stunts," but I know of no other word which expresses the same idea. We live in an age of stunts, political and industrial, stunts supported by information which is true and by statements which are false, and stunts supported by arguments which are good and by arguments which are bad. We have the most important questions pressed upon the attention of our people, and in this welter of confusion, of argument, contradiction and discussion, one wonders sometimes how the ordinary man is going to make his way through it all. Our salvation is in education. A very eminent man defined an educated man as one who knows when a thing is proved or not. If hon. Members would grasp that and think it out, they would realise that it is an admirable definition. Let us think of those whom we know. Let us think of those around us. To how many does that definition apply? How many know whether a thing is proved or not. If the question of Protection against Free Trade was submitted to those who knew when a thing was proved or not, what a different controversy it would be. I do not want to dwell unduly on this topic, but at the present age more than ever do we require that our education should be extended and improved. I agree with the remark made by my right hon. Friend about the importance of his office and the importance of the work of education. It is the most important work that you can be called upon to do. I have always had in my mind, since my Cambridge days, the statement of Plato, that great Greek 1146 philosopher, when he said that the Minister of Education was more important than the Minister for War. I hope the day is coming when the Ministry of Education will be the most important of all the offices filled by those who govern us.
§ Colonel Sir JAMES REYNOLDS
I was filled with consternation when I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr). Last Session the hon. Member took his stand against the Bill which was proposed with the greatest possible courage, and he was supported by a large number of his followers who insisted that they would resist the Bill as presented at that time. To-day a new Bill is presented with less provision for the denominational schools than was to be found in the previous Bill and to-night the hon. Member runs away from the whole position. He accepts the Bill in the hope that the President of the Board of Education will do something for the Catholic community. I have never witnessed a greater mental somersault than that which I have witnessed to-night in that connection. I hold in my hand a list of Parliamentary candidates in the Arch-Diocese of Liverpool who were called upon to answer a questionnaire. Fifty-nine questionnaires were sent out, and 41 answers were practically in the affirmative. Certainly, 38 of them were in the direct affirmative. The questionnaire was that the candidates should support equal treatment, educationally, for the denominational schools and for the provided schools. I do not know what these gentlemen will have to say to their constituents concerning the attitude that has been adopted to-night. To me it is inexplicable, and I do not know how they will be able to justify any explanation which will suit those vast numbers of people who already labour under a very great sense of grievance in the educational system as it previously existed. Now we have another burden put upon the denominationalists which add enormously to those we have already carried and will render it almost impossible for us to carry on and live up to the full educational demands of the country.
I am against this Bill for other reasons than that it is an unjust Bill to the denominational schools. I am against it educationally, being convinced that in 1147 this country to-day we have ample resources for the higher education of those more intelligent pupils in the elementary schools who are able to carry themselves further, educationally, than is possible in those schools. The Government and education authorities give bursaries and scholarships in several directions, and there are many private funds to help a lad up the educational ladder to the university. We have a very important council in Liverpool, called the Council of Education, of which I have the honour to be Chairman, which does a very great deal in that matter. I have had my personal attention called to the opportunities which are afforded to students of the elementary schools to reach the higher walks of intellectual life by the case of my gardener. The man has been my gardener for 30 years and has been blessed with extraordinarily clever children, and in that I have envied him because they have been very much more clever than my own. Four of his children were advanced by scholarships from the elementary school to the secondary school entirely on their own merits with practically no extra assistance from the father or from myself. Two of them are studying ecclesiastically, another is studying for the degree of bachelor of science at Liverpool University, and the fourth, a girl, is in a secondary school studying to become a pupil teacher. This has all come about by the efforts which these scholars have made and the influence of the home with which they have been blessed. Therefore, I feel that the educational ladder is available to any child who may be in a position to take advantage of it.
I am against this Bill for the reasons which many of my confreres on this side of the Rouse put forward, namely, that it is a financial rake's progress. We cannot afford it, and, if we do not begin to cut down our luxuries, we shall drift into a situation in which the country will not be able to sustain its necessities. I further object to the Bill because the extra money which has to be found for this purpose, according to the doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer practically comes out of the same pockets as does every sum of money required to meet the necessities of the country. I also object to the Bill because it extends 1148 the principle of the distribution of funds to the electors generally. I do not think that it is right that people should expect to be paid for the benefit of receiving something which is very precious, namely, extra education for their children. We might just as well claim that any man or woman going to the Employment Exchange to collect his or her unemployment benefit should have his or her tramway fare paid.
I also object, and this is the principal gravamen of my objection, that the Bill is grossly unfair in its incidence. To have ignored the denominational schools of this country in the cynical manner in which they have been ignored is nothing less than an act of the grossest injustice. The denominational schools have played their part for generations in the education of the children of this country. Today, they represent more than half the schools and one-third of the places in the schools in the country of the children who are taking advantage of elementary education. There was a concordat established between the denominational and the provided schools in 1902 which has been lived up to faithfully by all concerned. We of the Catholic community have been crying out for assistance because the burden now presses so heavily upon us, that we are hardly able to hear it. It is one of our principal demands that we should receive equal treatment with the provided schools in the educational necessities of the day. This heavy additional burden is to be cast upon us, and I do not see how we are going to live up to it and do justice to our children, in view of the new conditions. It is an extraordinary thing to me to observe in this England of ours, a country which we all proudly claim to be above others in justice, that this state of things should continue. In Scotland, the difficulties between the denominational schools and the provided schools have been settled amicably and justly. In Southern Ireland equal conditions are afforded to all sections of the community and in Northern Ireland, where one might have expected that there would have been some prejudice against the Catholic community, it is 50–50, which is 50 per cent. more than we get here.
It is a dreadful sight to me to see this Parliament lagging behind in essen- 1149 tial justice to the denominational schools, and that this additional burden is to be put upon them. It is time that the members of the denominational community throughout the country should rise up in their tens of thousands and protest. I do not forget nor can any other hon. Member forget the movement of passive resistance that swept through the country a generation ago when the original Act of 1902 was brought in. That Act merely distributed the educational rate that was collected with some degree of fairness as between the denominations who paid the rate in the shape of the upkeep of the schools, although it still left the provision of the schools to the denominations. The situation in which we stand to-day is that, in addition to the burden we are already carrying, we are asked to carry greater burdens without any attempt on the part of the State to meet our case. I can only speak for the Catholic community. We cannot see our way, as the hon. Member for Mile End explained, to accept the concordat that was come to with the Anglican party. We cannot see our way to weaken our grip upon the provision of teachers of our faith for our own schools and for our own children. We cannot weaken that grip by the offer of money, and we never will. To-day I am able to claim that for 40 years the Catholic community have never given up a school. During those 40 years despite our financial difficulties, we have not reduced the number of our schools but we have increased them by 213, representing 80,000 places.
There is nothing more to be said from the point of 'view of the Catholic body. The pass has been sold and if this Bill becomes law we shall have to bear our burdens, but I do protest, as a member of that body, at the acceptance of the present situation and I feel certain that there will be a rising sense of indignation throughout the country on behalf of the denominational schools of the country against this outrageous act of injustice.
§ Dr. FORGAN
The hon. Member prefaced his remarks by saying that successive Educational Bills were becoming worse. Some of us on these benches hold a very different view. We regard this Bill as an infinitely better Measure than the one that was introduced last year. Speaking from benches from which very often comes criticism of a not altogether 1150 kindly nature of proposals coming from the Front Bench, I am happy to say that the Second Reading of this Measure will have the unanimous support of Ion. Members on these benches. There are certain details about the Bill which some of us have tried elsewhere to have altered, but we find ourselves so utterly antagonistic to the point of view coming from the Conservative benches that we can do no other than support the Government. Speaking as a Member representing a Scottish constituency, I wish to express my personal regret that one of the representatives of the Scottish Universities should have revised his opinion since the last Education Bill was discussed in this House. On that occasion his was the only voice raised from the Conservative benches in support of the Education Bill and I greatly regret his reasons for opposing the present Bill. He says very bluntly, and that is the argument of many of his Friends, that we cannot afford this Measure at the present time. I wish to meet that argument. The total cost, even in a peak year will not amount to more than £8,000,000.
The figure that was given by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) was £8,000,000 or £9,000,000, and he argued that to increase the national expenditure on education by this amount could seriously prejudice the chances of the children we are educating getting jobs in the future. I am sorry that he is not in his place. Seeing that we have a national income of £4,000,000,000, an expenditure of £9,000,000 per annum, to some extent reproductive, is not going to have the effect that the hon. Member anticipates. I am very glad that another representative of the Scottish Universities spoke warmly in favour of the Bill. He apologised as a Scotsman and as a Scottish Member for taking part in this debate, but I would point out that it depends entirely on what happens to this Measure whether or not we shall get the financial grants requisite to extend our educational facilities in Scotland. Whatever situation may obtain in England, we are certainly ready for such a Measure in Scotland. Not only have we 1,000 unemployed teachers waiting to be employed, but we have increased our buildings to such an extent that all over 1151 the country we are ready for this Measure. Therefore, the views expressed from the Conservative benches by the Scottish University representative is not expressive of the opinion in that country. Speaking in Edinburgh the other day the chairman of the Edinburgh Educational Committee said:There is a tremendous loss, an educational loss and a business loss when children are taken away from school too soon.He went on to say: thatWe know that keen opponents of the raising of the school age are people who keep their own children at school until the age of 17 or 18.He added:I note also that while there is always money for armaments there never is and never will be money for education.In a country which is expending in the current year £108,000,000 on armaments, I suggest that we can well afford to increase our expenditure on education to the extent of £9,000,000. The argument is used by certain opponents of the Bill that we should put off the Measure until some years hence when the number of pupils at school will have got beyond the peak and will have begun to diminish, and then we shall save the expenditure of increasing buildings and increasing staff. I would point out that not only in Scotland but in England the size of many classes is still far too large and that if now, by means of this Measure, we increase the building accommodation and increase the number of teachers then, once the peak year in the number of pupils has passed, it is obvious that we shall be able to reduce the size of the classes and thereby be able to improve the quality of the education given.
There are one or two minor points not touched upon by other speakers to which reference might be made. I would like to refer to the effect upon the health of the children of the nation by this Bill becoming law. It is generally admitted that the school medical service has been responsible for considerable improvement in the health of the children. Unfortunately, from the school-leaving age of 14 until the age of 18, a period in the lives of boys and girls when they are becoming young men and young women and are specially in need of medical attention and supervision, there is no State 1152 provision for the care of the health of these young persons. The fact that this Measure will extend the school medical service to some 500,000 boys and girls will be a positive benefit which will mean in time to come a direct financial saving. From the medical point of view I heartlly support the Measure. There are some who would accept the Measure if there was no maintenance allowance in it. Without the maintenance allowance the Bill is unthinkable. If we were to pass it without the maintenance allowance and children were compelled to remain at school another year the result would be that many children would be stinted and starved of the necessities of life.
In this country up to now from the educational standpoint we have devoted far too much attention to food for the mind and far too little attention to food for the body. The under-nourished child cannot gain benefit from the educational facilities that are given. Not to grant maintenance allowances to families where means are low would mean that the child would be under-nourished and that he would be unable to get full benefit from the educational facilities provided. There is to be some sort of declaration by the parents of the amount of their income. We are assured by the President of the Board of Education that there will be no inquisitional methods employed. Some of us were more than a little apprehensive about this and would have liked to see the means test abolished. Income Tax payers have received in the past maintenance allowances for their children not merely for one year but from the first year of life right until they leave school. Surely the principle that has been accepted as good for the Income Tax payers in equally good for the children of the working classes.
The amount of the maintenance allowance, 5s. per head, is none too generous and I was glad to hear from the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) that he thought that if we had maintenance allowances they ought to be more than 5s. He pointed out that a child would earn more than that, and he deplored the reduction of the spending power of the masses of the people of this country that would result if we take out of employment children who might be earning 7s., 10s., or 15s. a week. I am glad 1153 that the Noble Lord has at last come to realise the importance of that consideration, the purchasing power of the working classes being the only thing that maintains the industry of this country. Although some of us regard the 5s. maintenance allowance as merely a Grant-in-aid of maintenance, and insufficient to provide the necessary food and clothing for a child of the age in question, we hope that the House will accept the Measure as it stands on Second Reading, and that after it has been discussed in detail in Committee it will be put on to the Statute Book in time to allow the local authorities to be ready in April next. I have referred already to the fact that one of the representatives of the Scottish Universities is opposing the Bill, and I should like to quote what he said on the same subject about five months ago:Every educational advance has been won only after a hard struggle with the forces of apathy …. If, therefore, we take the long view, and this House is bound to take the long view, it must seem that whatever criticism attaches temporarily to a bold education policy will be short-lived; but that an inert educational policy, a policy which clutches at any excuse to call a halt in educational progress, will not be readily forgotten or readily forgiven."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th May, 1930; col. 1578, Vol. 239.]If the Conservative party and the Liberal party defeat this Measure on the ground that we cannot afford maintenance allowances the Bill will be dropped, and in that case I am quite certain that the mass of the people of this country will neither forget nor forgive.
§ Sir JOHN WITHERS
I regret very much that this Bill has been introduced by the President of the Board of Education as a political and class issue. I do not propose to consider it on those lines, and I hope that no hon. Member on any side of the House will do so. We ought to consider the question of education purely and simply from the point of view of the benefit to the children of the country. I do not entirely agree with all that has been said on the side of the House on which I have the pleasure to sit. I think that the school age should be raised for all children who are suitable and who may possibly receive some advantage thereby. The great majority of children come within that category, but I am equally keen to point out that 1154 all children do not come within that category, and it is just as important to understand this second consideration as it is to understand the first. There are only two ways of making that differentiation, either to make the school-leaving age 14 and find out at that stage who are the best and most useful children to help, not necessarily the prize winners, but those children wham it really would help, and the other way is to make it compulsory up to the age of 15 and then just as carefully exempt those to whom it would be of no benefit. It has been said that the upper classes, to use a horrible expression, keep their children uniformly at school up to the age of 17 or 18. As a general rule, that may be so, but it is not a universal practice, and nobody would attempt to say that all girls should be kept at school up to the age of 17. There are a large number of children who must be exempted, who are not fit to go to school after the age of 14. Anyone who has had anything to do with education will realise that.
I object to the Bill mainly on the ground that there is no power of exemption of any kind. That to my mind is sheer idiocy. Anybody who knows anything about education knows that in the case of a considerable number of children it is useless and foolish, and wicked, to keep them at school after the age of 14. That is a fatal blot on the Bill. There is no power at all to delay the operation of the Bill in isolated cases. I assume that it will come into operation at the date named, but there are obviously a number of cases where the school and the teachers may not be ready, and any sensible person would put in a proviso that the President of the Board of Education or the local authority might postpone the operation of the Bill in such cases. Then again I deprecate no arrangement for the non-provided schools. I supported the Bill of last Session principally because of the concordat, and I hoped that by extending it, and giving way here and there, that we should get a proper scheme through. But I cannot see how we are going to work this Bill with the non-provided schools standing outside.
These are my main objections to the present Bill. I also object to the Bill being treated as a sort of unemployment relief Bill. It has nothing really to do 1155 with the case. No person connected with education should consider that matter at all. Either it is an Education Bill, or an Unemployment Relief Bill, and the two should not be run together. If you treat it as an Unemployment Relief Bill naturally you do not want any exemptions, because you would get into all sorts of difficulties if you exempted children and had to pay maintenance allowances as well as unemployment relief. I hope it will be really considered as an Education Bill. Unfortunately, unless the right hon. Gentleman gives a clear and definite undertaking with regard to those clauses which are fatal, I shall have to oppose it.
§ Mr. COVE
The debate up to now shows that the main objections to the Bill can be summarised in one or two sentences. One of the greatest objections put for ward by hon. Members opposite is that it is inopportune from the point of view of the economic circumstances of the country. They are of the opinion that the country at the present moment cannot bear the financial burden which will be imposed. They also say that it will lead to a shortage of juvenile labour, and that, therefore, that will impose further burdens upon the country. I support this Bill for exactly the opposite reasons. I believe it is absolutely necessary because there is a surplus of labour in this country. There is also a surplus of wealth, and, therefore, since there is a surplus of labour which is unnecessary, resulting in a mass of unemployment amongst the millions of our people, I argue that these very circumstances are one of the main reasons why we should have this Bill on the Statute Book. The fact that there is this surplus labour is a justification for the Bill. We are told that the country cannot afford it. In my judgment the country cannot afford not to afford it.
As a matter of fact, this Bill, in so far as it really redistributes the wealth of this country, I admit only to a small degree and not nearly as far as I would go, is a potent factor in the solution of unemployment. Let us look for a moment at the question as to whether we can afford it. Our national income is said to be about £4,000,000,000 per annum, and this country can only afford to spend about £2 per head on the education of its children! That is a fantastically small figure in 1156 relation to the total income of this wealthy nation. It is rather interesting but only last night the "Evening Standard" in its financial columns provided a complete answer to the objections of hon. Members opposite. The financial editor of that paper had an article headed "Where does the money come from?" He is amazed at the amount of money that is coming in at this moment, although we have a large volume of unemployment and trade seems to be stagnant. This is what he says:Each time banking statements appear in the early part of the month, one is tempted to ask where are the new deposits coming from? Figures are not available for October for all the clearing banks. There is, however, every reason to expect a further growth in deposits.Why should deposits he growing when banks pay only 1 per cent. interest on the bulk of them? Does the growth represent new savings? On a careful study of the banking position the only conclusion one can reach is that fresh savings are the cause of the increase.In that case, do not increasing bank deposits, the prosperous business of thrift institutions, the enlarged issue of National Savings Certificates, the increase of insurance show that defeatist talk is all wrong and that even in very hard times we are earning a surplus?8.0 p.m.
I suggest that the speeches of hon. Members opposite have been defeatist speeches, and the fact that there is unprecedented amounts deposited in banks during the last month shows that there is still plenty of money in this country and that we need not fear. If we turn again to new issues during recent days, the India Loan, the Gas Light and Coke Company's Loan, and I believe the South African Loan, you will find that every loan that has been floated has been over subscribed in a very few minutes. It is quite clear therefore that if there was a genuine desire on the part of hon. Members opposite to give what is a right to the ordinary worker's child, there is no validity in the argument that this country cannot afford this reform at this moment. I have said that this Measure is a substantial contribution to the problem of unemployment, not merely from the point of view that it will withdraw child labour. It is perfectly reasonable to expect that if you withdraw half a million children from industry it ought and must result in other labour of an older age being employed in factories and workshops. I suggest that it is far 1157 better for the children of 14 and 15 years of age to be in school and that the places thus made available should be taken by those who are older. With regard to that, I would draw attention to a paragraph of a somewhat more authoritative nature than any words of mine. I refer to the Ministry of Labour Report for 1928, in which there is a forecast of the prospective employment position of juveniles. The forecast is a summary prepared after consideration of the reports of the various committees up and down the country, and this is what it says:It has naturally been very difficult for committees to arrive at reliable estimates owing to the uncertainty of the future trade position, but the majority of the committees report that, so far as can be foreseen, the demand for juvenile labour will be fairly constant, and that, despite temporary inconveniences in some cases, there will be neither an acute shortage nor any pronounced surplus within the next six years. It seems probable that the less prosperous and less skilled industries, together with what are known as blind-alley occupations, will teel first and most acutely the effects of any restriction of labour supply.I hope hon. Members will direct their attention to the last sentence of that quotation, that if there is to be a shortage of labour and if this Bill does restrict it, that shortage of labour and that restriction will be felt, where it ought to be felt, in the blind-alley occupations and in the casual and intermittent labour of juveniles. Here is a very sound and solid argument for the Bill. The report goes on to say, further, that in addition to taking children out of blind-alley occupations, and in addition to saving them from casual labour,opportunities of employment may be afforded in sonic areas to older workpeople simultaneously with or without improvements in, and extension of, machinery and labour-saving devices.Those are two great and beneficent effects: first, taking children out of blind-alley occupations; and, secondly, finding work for older people. I suggest that these reasons, as far as the unemployment side of the problem is concerned, justify us in supporting the Bill with enthusiasm.
Let me turn to the educational side. I am rather afraid that the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) does not understand what is going on throughout the country. He does not 1158 understand the real educational value of this Bill. It can be put in a nutshell. If you are out for an improvement of the quality of education for the older children, you must increase its quantity. You cannot have an approach to secondary conditions unless you lengthen the school life of the children. The Noble Lord seemed to give the impression that he was not against raising the school age as such, but he was against raising the school age now because the children would get only elementary education. I suggest that if he wants to assist us in getting secondary education for the normal child his best plan will he to support this Bill. I believe that what he wants has no very great dangers in it so far as education is concerned. I am not opposed to his general ideas of vocational education; I am opposed to particularising for particular industries. I am not opposed to linking up our education system with our technical institutions and other forms of higher education. But if the Noble Lord wants an improvement in the quality of education his first step must be to see that we get the school age raised and that the children have a lengthened life in the elementary schools.
This is a provision for the normal child. I am glad that the normal child will come into a slice of his own under this Bill. The Committee on Scholarships and Free Places suggested that at least 75 per cent. of the children of this country were capable of benefiting from secondary education. There is this vast pool of capacity in the ordinary normal child—capacity not only for literary education, but for technical education, for a wide and varied education that will meet the needs of livelihood and life. We are prepared in our schools to meet the needs of livelihood and the needs of life, but before we can do that the first step necessary is to raise the school age. With regard to maintenance grants the real shame is that they are necessary and the fact that there is such poverty in this country. This is not a proposal to pay children for going to school. The grants are not necessary for that. The necessity comes from the poverty of the parents. Anyone who examines the figures of income of workers throughout the industry will see that to-day there are millions whose standard of life is not above the Rowntree poverty line, pre-War. There 1159 are 15,000,000 to 17,000,000 people whose wage is below £3 a week, and if you take the Rowntree figure of 35s. 3d. pre-War, and work out its equivalent to-day, you reach a wage of 58s. to 60s. a week. The agricultural labourer does not get that; the skilled engineer does not get it; most of the men on the railways do not get it; the miners do not get it. As a matter of fact only an exceptional few in industry get a wage above the Rowntree necessity line. It is because of that fact, the poverty of the workers, that there is need for these maintenance grants.
I say quite frankly that I hope this will be but the beginning of the State aiding the physical sustenance of the children of the country. We want them well fed in order to educate them. I hope that hon. Members opposite will not take the line that the children are to be starved in the interests of so-called national economy. If there is to be economy let us have it all round. If there is to be rationing, if the nation is in dire distress, as it was in the War, let us conscript everyone; let every one of us make equal sacrifice and contribute a share to economy in the national emergency. But the economy that is demanded by some is an economy on the workers' homes, and it is to come out of the children. I suggest to the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies), who has been a keen opponent of this Bill, that in the interests of the children of Lancashire, where they have only to look forward to unemployment, even with the normal development of trade in that county, in the interests also of the physical well-being and the educational well-being of the children—I appeal to him as a progressive member of the medical profession, representing sometimes the inhuman reaction of half-time Lancashire, to forget that he comes from Lancashire, to get rid of all trace of the half-time mentality, and to realise that these children want feeding, that the income of their fathers does not provide a decent standard of life, and that we have no right to impose upon the homes of our country such conditions that men and women cannot lead a decent life.
There is no hope, not even if industry prospers under rationalisation, with its control of prices and its restriction of output—there is no hope under the 1160 capitalist system for a higher standard of life for the workers within the individual industry. Scarcity is the principle underlying the organisation of rationalisation. Mass unemployment, is a practical result. In so far as this Bill goes upon the line that the State is stepping in, and society in and through this House is stepping in, to remedy what individual industries cause as a disease, the disease of poverty, I heartily support the Bill, and I am sure that everyone on this side will support it on technical and economic grounds, and on the ground that it will help employment through a fairer distribution of national products and national income.
I feel very grateful to the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) for the compliment which he paid me across the Floor of the House when he referred to me as a progressive medical man. I appreciate his reference, even though certain people on his own side of the House greeted it with ribald cheers. I would remind the hon. Member that one characteristic of the Lancashire people is their capacity to face facts, and, however idealistic they may be, they have sufficient common sense to look facts in the face. We have had many speeches this afternoon extolling the virtues and the desirability of education, with which we all agree, but I notice a very definite lack of suggestions in the speeches from the benches opposite of the means to produce that end. Personally, I am a great supporter of education, but I recognise that education has two distinct purposes. The first is to educate the child so as to make him a decent intelligent, intellectual citizen of this country. But behind all education, in all classes of the community, the second great point is to educate the child to earn his own living. To give education without any knowledge of how the child is going to apply it, or even without knowing if he can apply it at all, to the earning of his own livelihood is a great mistake.
We in Lancashire, although idealists, are also realists, and we look at the matter in this way. If these children are kept an extra year at school, are the children themselves and the community in general going to benefit from it? The House must understand that the parents of this country are not fools; neither are the employers of labour. If the parents 1161 felt convinced that this extra year in school was going to benefit the child intellectually, and enable him the better to earn his own living, the parents would he anxious for it and would not have to be forced and coerced into sending their children to school for this extra period. On the other hand, if employers of labour thought that the extra year at school was going to result in more efficient and better producers they would welcome it. Hon. Members may say that they would do so from a selfish point of view, but the employers recognise that the more expert the workmen, the better the production and the better for the people generally. Therefore, if the raising of the school age were recognised as something which was going to be of national benefit, both to industry and to the child, it would not be necessary to introduce a compulsory Measure to make children attend school between the ages of 14 and 15.
I venture to remind hon. Members also that this proposal is going to cost money. [Laughter.] I notice that some hon. Members smile—audibly—at that statement. We read every day that the position of this country at the present time is very serious, that unemployment is rising by leaps and bounds, that industry is in a very depressed condition. We are told by eminent financiers, by bankers, industrialists and economists that we are spending too much money, that we cannot afford to live at our present rate of expenditure, and that if we are going to maintain our present standard of life we must either increase production or spend less money. I have noticed that hon. Members opposite, when it comes to the spending of money, are quite happy because they have the antiquated economic idea that the money is coming out of the pockets of the rich. They have not yet got to modern economics which prove that all expenditure ultimately comes down to the worker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear !"] When hon. Members opposite advise this House to vote large sums of money for certain improvements and developments, they have all the time, at the backs of their minds, the idea that it is the rich who are going to pay. Only when the fact is brought forcibly home to them do they recognise—as they showed by their cheers just now—the fact that if is the worker who ultimately pays.
1162 The question now before the house is: Can the worker afford to pay? Can industry afford it? All we read points to the contrary. Our export trade and our general trade are depressed, principally because our costs of production are too high. What we have to do in order to regain our markets is to reduce the costs of production by some means or other. Industry says, "If you put anything in our way to make it more difficult for us to compete in the world market, then instead of benefiting the working man you will do him harm. You are going to provide more unemployment." It is very nice, and very desirable, it may be, to have this education, but we must face the fact that we have to cut our coat according to our cloth. If the country cannot afford it, or if, on the other hand, the return for the expenditure is not commensurate with that expenditure, I venture to submit that we should not at the present time vote for the Second Beading of his Bill. Industry is very concerned about this Bill, because those engaged in industry recognise the grave difficulties with which they are contending.
I wish to refer to the report of the National Advisory Council for Juvenile Unemployment, issued in 1929. There was a very full inquiry into the juvenile unemployment system and two reports were given, a majority report and a minority report. On this committee were five representatives of industry—the method by which the people earn their living—and those five gentlemen presented a minority report in which they disagreed largely with the recommendations of the majority. I must refer to certain portions of that report in order to justify my argument. They disagreed with the majority about the question of "bridging the gap." Hon. Members know what is meant by the "gap"—the lag between the age of 14 when the child leaves school and the age of 16 years and six months or seven months when the child first comes into contact with the Employment Exchanges. It was said that during that gap period the children were lost sight of, unless they were in employment and there was the possibility that they would get into awkward occupations or wrong occupations and it was felt that there should be some method of "bridging the gap" and keening control over children during that age period.
1163 The minority report says that although there has been a gap for some years, the majority of children find employment straight away. They also say that, against 10 per cent. of adult unemployment, juvenile unemployment is only 2 per cent., and that part of that is accounted for by children changing their occupations and going from one place to another. When the hon. Member for Aberavon was giving certain figures, I asked him from what he was quoting, because, in this report also, there is a table compiled from a memorandum submitted to the council by the Ministry of Labour showing that if the school age remains at 14 plus there will he a short-age of juveniles suitable for employment, from 1931 to 1940, with the exception of 1937. Thus there will be a shortage of juveniles to fill the jobs already available. If the age is raised to 15 then the figures show that in every year up to 1940 there will be a shortage of juveniles. It is said that, if the school age is raised to 15, in 1931 there will be a shortage of 428,000 juveniles, rising in 1934 to 762,000, by which time there would only he 1,330,000 juveniles available for 2,000,000 juvenile posts.
That simply means that with this shortage of labour you will have a greater demand for labour, which, of course, will mean increased costs and higher wages. We all agree with higher wages, but they have to be added to the costs of production, and at a time when we are doing all we can to reduce those costs, hon. Members opposite are asking us to raise them. The result must be that they will not get any work at all, not because the employers will not employ juveniles, but simply because trade will be in such a shocking condition that they will be unable to afford to employ any labour. By so raising the costs of production in these vital industries, you will strangle industry, which is the only source of the wealth of this country with which to bring about the necessary social services. Therefore, it is literally killing the goose which lays the golden eggs. The figures given in this report were based on the actual juvenile employment figures for 1927, but if trade within the next 10 years increases, they say there will be a greater shortage of juveniles than ever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, 1164 hear!"] Is it the wish of hon. Members opposite that we should have no juveniles in employment at all?
Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Robert Young)
May I appeal to hon. Members? There is a large number of Members who want to speak, and Mr. Speaker and myself have been asking those who have been called to speak briefly. These interruptions and questions will only prevent some hon. Members being allowed to speak.
§ Mr. McKINLAY
On a point of Order. I am simply doing what the hon. Member did himself. He asked for information from the previous speaker.
In referring to this shortage of juveniles, the committee say that itis not a matter of speculation but may almost be stated as a mathematical certainty. … Our view is that, even with a school-leaving age of 14 plus and inevitably more so if the school-leaving age is raised to 15, the problem which the industry of this country will have to face will not be that of finding jobs for unemployed juveniles, but of finding available juveniles to fill vacant jobs.Hon. Members opposite say they do not want children to go into industry, but it is essential in agriculture and in cotton spinning that, if a child is to become an efficient workman, he should go into the industry at a sufficiently early age to acquire the necessary skill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Half timers!"] I have taken the trouble in the last three or four weeks to inquire in Lancashire, both from workpeople and employers, if they have noticed any difference in the skill of little piecers in mule spinning, and the unanimous opinion is that they are not as expert as their predecessors, and they say that that is due to the abolition of the half-time system and that these children are not as expert as their fathers were. If the age is raised to 15, the probability is that the mule spinner of the future will not be as expert as the present mule spinner.
The people in the East are becoming more and more equal to our workpeople. They are becoming more and more expert 1165 in spinning, but the one part of cotton spinning where we are supreme is in mule spinning. No people in the world can spin from mules like the Lancashire operatives, and we propose that the child should be kept at school for another year, and make it more difficult for him to get the necessary experience, which will mean that in future the production or the skill of the Lancashire cotton trade will disappear, and we shall find our foreign competitors beating us more easily. Ron. Members opposite are asking the House to envisage the future of a Lancashire cotton industry no better than that industry in foreign countries, and the gradual decay, to a very low level, of what has been our principal export industry.
These are very serious questions, and it would be wise for hon. Members to consider the cost. Can we afford it at the present time? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I venture to say we cannot, and I am supported in that view by all the enonomists, financiers and industrialists. Hon. Members also know very well that this Bill is intensely unpopular among the working classes, and I would be willing to fight any bon. Member in any part of the country on that issue alone.
Another point to bear in mind is the maintenance grant. Hon. Members opposite are approving, more or less, of paying parents to keep their children at school for another year, and the argument has been used that this is necessary to prevent children suffering from lack of food or clothing. But if those children were working in the mill, and earning money, they would be earning perhaps three times as much as they will get through this allowance. It is not unusual in a Lancashire cotton mill for a young boy to be earning 14s., 15s., and up to 18s. a week, and so, from the point of view of finance, he would be greatly better off in the mill. The cost of maintenance allowance at 5s. a week, 40 per cent. of which comes from the local rates, means 2s. per week per child, so that what the people in industrial districts have to bear in mind is that for every child kept at school another year the local rates have to pay £5 2e. That is serious, and when we come to Lancashire, where we are dealing with an industry that is in a very sad condition, 1166 and where we find mill after mill being shut up, it means that the rates on working class property, on working class houses, are advancing all the time, due to trade depression; and you are going to ask them to pay an extra £5 2s. for every child between the ages of 14 and 15. It is a terrific expense, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that those people cannot afford it.
A suggestion has been made by the hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir Cyril Cobb) which seemed to me to be eminently sane. He asked that the Measure should be postponed till 1934, I think he said, because it would enable better provision to be made for the change. I would corroborate that by saying that perhaps by that time industry may be in a better position, but if hon. Members opposite are determined that, irrespective of cost, irrespective of whether or not the country can afford it, they are going to force this Bill upon an unwilling population, I am sure the reaction will be very severe. The people, instead of having employment., will be out of employment, and it will be harder and harder for this country to compete against other countries, and we shall run the risk, instead of being the premier industrial country in the world, of sinking to a second-rate and perhaps a third-rate country simply because we are living beyond our means.
Hon. Members opposite in their private lives do not live beyond their means. If they have £1 in their pocket, they do not spend 21s., and I suggest to them that when they are voting other people's money, they should bear the same idea in mind. They should not spend any more than they have; they should not run into debt. Let them remember that they are supposed to be the custodians of the public purse and that they are not sent here to squander the money of the country. They are sent here to see that the money is properly expended and that we do not spend a penny more than we can afford. I submit that at the present time we cannot afford the expense entailed by this Bill.
§ Mr. LLEWELLYN-JONES
As I listened to the remarks of the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies), it struck me that I was listening to a speech in the House of Commons when the Education Bill of 1870 was being passed. It sur- 1167 prised me that in the year 1930 anyone even on the Tory benches could give expression to the views to which the hon. Member has lent himself. He seemed to think that the workers of the country do not want this Bill, and that there is no class which is prepared to approve of the proposals of the Government. There are possibly some details in the Bill to which I should like to draw attention in the Committee stage, but on the whole, the Measure is one which should receive the hearty support of all educationists. It is from that point of view that we should approach this Measure. It is not a question of how it will affect unemployment; that is the view taken by some. Nor is it a question of how it will affect employment, which is the view taken by the hon. Member for Royton. The problem is, what can we do in order to improve the educational facilities of the mass of the people?
I should like to refer to one or two points raised by the hon. Member for Royton. He seemed to believe in children being employed at as early an age as possible. In giving expression to these views, he will not be supported by the great mass of the honourable profession to which he belongs. One of the things that we are told by medical man after medical man is the prejudicial effect of child labour upon the physical development of the child, and it is marvellous that a medical man should rise in the House to support what is really child labour, which cannot for a moment be defended. He made another remark that, if this Bill were wanted, we should find great anxiety among the parents, in which case there would be no need for compulsion. Do we realise that the whole series of Acts insisting upon compulsory attendance at school are due to the fact that unfortunately there is a minority of parents who are not prepared to perform their duty towards their children unless the State comes in and compels them to do it. [An HON. MEMBER: "And the State pays!"] If the State pays, it has a right to insist on the children attending school. I have had a wide experience of educational administration, and have been for a large number of years a clerk to a secondary school authority. One of the things which I have had to deplore constantly is that the large number of parents who 1168 are anxious to send their children to school cannot afford to do it, and that the resources at the disposal of the school authority are not sufficient to enable them to do it. I am certain that the great mass of the parents appreciate the advantage of education and are desirous of seeing that the children get the widest facilities.
I am not going to deal with any of the arguments for or against the Bill. I am quite satisfied, judging from the speeches to which the House has listened to-night, that there can be no question that the advocates of the compulsory extension of the school age have amply proved their case. It is remarkable that in the speeches of Members on the Conservative benches who oppose the Bill, the opposition was offered in a very apologetic way, and hon. Members have said that they would support the principle if this or that were in the Bill.
I should like to refer to certain aspects of the problem which concern Wales. The Parliamentary Secretary, with his wide experience of education in Wales, will bear me out when I say that the rural problem in Wales is far more acute than it is in England. Only one English county can be regarded as essentially rural, and of the same type as some of those in Wales: that is Westmorland. Three counties in North Wales, and four in South Wales are of this character. Reference has been made to the difficulties which local education authorities have to face in connection with the building of schools. In rural Wales that is not a difficulty which the authorities have to face at all. In the return of public elementary schools for England and Wales, a remarkable fact is brought home to anyone who takes even a casual glance at the figures. It is a sidelight upon the great de-population which has been taking place all over our rural districts.
I will take the case which I know personally. My childhood was spent in a school-house in a village in Denbighshire, where my father was an elementary school teacher. The school was erected to accommodate 234 children. The average attendance at that school, looking back over 50 years in my recollections, was in the neighbourhood of 180 or 190; and it must be remembered that the age up to which attendance was com- 1169 pulsory was, I believe, only 13 at that time. To-day the number of children in average attendance there is only 85. On looking through these statistics it becomes perfectly clear that, so far as rural schools are concerned, local education authorities will not experience any difficulties in the matter of accommodation.
But is there not another aspect of this problem in rural districts? Hon. Members have had placed in their hands to-day the Agricultural Land (Utilisation) Bill. I believe I am right in saying that there is anxiety on both sides of the House to see not only that something is done to stop men and women leaving the countryside for the towns and industrial districts but to bring back to the country men and women who are living in the towns. One thing we can do is to improve the educational facilities in the rural districts; to see that the rural child, in his own surroundings, gets the advantages which the town child gets. I am not sure that it is not a mistake, in many respects, to expect the rural child to attend a central school in a neighbouring town. The result, frequently is that he feels dissatisfied with his life in the country, and is prepared to enter a blind-alley occupation, if only he can get into the town, rather than remain in the country. I am satisfied that this Bill may help to remedy that condition, and I appeal to the Board of Education, and through them to the local education authorities, to see that something is done to utilise these partially-filled rural schools in giving the children education from the age of 11 plus. Instead of building expensive central schools, all we have to do is to utilise one or more of groups of existing schools. It may be necessary in some cases, particularly if we want to give teaching of a rural character, to have itinerant teachers visiting groups of schools in addition to the ordinary staff of teachers employed in them.
There is another point in connection with the problem of our secondary schools in Wales. Could not something be done to provide two courses of education in those schools? A very interesting report which has been drawn up reveals that of the pupils who leave secondary schools in Wales only 25 per cent. go in for university education or for the learned 1170 or other professions for which a long literary training is required. On the other hand, about 49 per cent, go into industry—engineering, agriculture and other businesses—and I suggest, so far as Wales is concerned, that we might provide for two courses to be carried on in the secondary schools, a course which leads to the university on one aide and a course of a more practical or technical character on the other side. I make these suggestions in the hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary winds up he debate he may find time to refer to some of the educational problems of Wales.
The only other point to which I wish to refer is the expenditure involved. No one desires to spend a penny of public money if it is not going to bring a return, but I am confident that the expenditure under this Bill will not only bring a return but that it is expenditure which it is incumbent upon us to undertake at the present time. I happened to overhear a remark—it was not a speech—by an hon. Member behind me, to the effect that we did not beat the Germans by education. Have we not realised that the Germans are able to beat us in many fields of commerce and industry through their education? Was it not significant that after the War, when the Germans were in severe financial difficulties, the first thing they did was to see that nothing was spared to ensure adequate educational facilities? I was in Germany shortly after the War, and found that modern universities had been set up at Cologne, Frankfort and other cities. That was the proper spirit to show when they realised that they had been beaten, and it is the spirit we ought to display now that we find ourselves, unfortunately, face to face with economic difficulties. This is the time to train the youth of the country to become better citizens, and also to make them more capable and apt, in the employments they will have to undertake in after life; and although T disagree in some respects with certain details of the Bill I have no hesitation whatever in supporting its Second Reading.
§ Dr. HASTINGS
I do not propose to follow in detail the points which have been raised by hon. Members opposite, but I should like, very briefly, to refer to one of the subjects raised by the hon. 1171 Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers), who said that there were a good many children who were unfit to continue at school after the age of 14. I seem to remember stories of various hon. Members of this House who did not show extraordinary educational ability at 14, and yet who have made great progress, and have become leaders of opinion since that time. I suggest that the question as to whether a child is going to derive benefit from education after the age of 14 cannot be easily determined at the age of 11 and 12 at which a working-class child sits for a scholarship examination to-day. I remember reading the story of a working-class father speaking to his daughter, who had reached the age of 11 years, and saying to her, "Look here Mary: you are going to sit for an examination to-day, and you must do all you can to show your ability, because your whole future depends on the way you pass this examination." I want to urge the claims of the late development in education, and I think that even those children who show no brilliancy at an early age should he given a chance.
I want to expand the point made by the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Dr. Forgan) earlier in the debate. As every hon. Member of this House knows, we have, in a comparatively few years, provided for every child in our elementary schools not only medical inspection but medical treatment as well. In same cases that medical treatment is admirable, but in some cases it is not so good. The result of this inspection has been to show that there is a tremendous amount of disease among the children. I have looked up the figures in the report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education, and I find that in 1928 over 20 per cent. of the children had defects needing treatment other than for teeth, and 67.5 per cent. of the children needed dental attention. There can he no doubt about the admirable results of the treatment which has been given. I have been reading the report of the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education for the year 1923. This officer took up the question of deafness, and his report shows, as regards London, that the amount of deafness in 10 years among the children in elementary schools had decreased to one-half. The report gave 1172 details showing that even better results were being obtained in Cambridge, Exeter and elsewhere. But children coming to school at the age of five showed no decrease in the amount of ear disease. I make that paint, because I want to show that it is not the improvement in the general health of the nation but the medical treatment given that has produced this result. When the children take their place in industry they have the panel service, and that has been of value from a public health point of view and has provided medical treatment for a large class of people who never before obtained it.
I do not see how the argument which the hon. Member is using comes in in regard to this Bill.
§ Dr. HASTINGS
My point is that between the termination of treatment by the school medical service and the commencement of that by the panel service there is a gap. I also wish to make the point that this gap comes at a very critical time in the life of the child When he earns poor wages and sometimes no wages at all. A child at the age of 14 or 15 does not realise the importance of the treatment of diseases early, and he frequently puts things off as long as he can. To-day I asked the President of the Board of Education whether it was not possible to do something to close that gap by passing on the records obtained from the medical inspection of school children to the panel committee. It seems to me that if we increase the school age even by a year we shall do a good deal for public health by adding an extra year's preventive treatment to the lives of the great mass of our children.
Yesterday we were talking about rationalisation and two points arose from that discussion with which all appeared to agree. One was that rationalisation was inevitable and the other that it is bound to cause the displacement of a great deal of labour. In many cases, it simply means replacing muscle by steam. It is very extraordinary what can be done nowadays by mechanical contrivances to produce the articles we need. We have all seen how the flour goes in at one end of a modern bakery and comes out almost without being touched as a 1173 finished loaf at the other end. If that is so, and it is so, it means that, while we are increasingly doing without muscle, we cannot do without brains. However far rationalisation goes, we shall still need brains to produce those wonderful machines that save so much trouble, and we shall still need the skill of the men who manufacture these complicated instruments. We hear a great deal about the competition of foreign nations who possess such a vast pool of unskilled labour. I agree that if it is a question of numbers alone they will beat us over and over again, but, if we are to be successful in competing with them, we must develop the mental side of our population and produce people with the skill and ability to work out new inventions and processes rather than develop people who are only capable of managing a mechanical machine.
One more point. It seems to me that perhaps the moral issues involved in this matter have not been dealt with quite as fully as they might have been to-night. I do not know whether the modern child respects his parents as much as did the children of long ago, who have been so often referred to to-day. He may love his parents, but I am not quite sure if he respects them as much as he should. But, whether he respects his parents or not, I am quite certain that most children have a great respect for their school teachers. They put them in an entirely different class from their parents. They realise, or at any rate, I think most of them do, that their parents are human, perhaps very human; but they look upon their teacher as something different and superior, and, in consequence, they are influenced more by their teachers than by their parents. At any rate, that was my experience when I was a boy. Surely it must be a good thing to keep children under the helpful influence of their teachers for another year if that is possible. Many children leave school at 14 with their characters entirely unformed. Those children, in many cases, go to the factory or workshop, and there they hear things that they ought not to. Most of this is mere talk because most of us are not quite as bad as we sometimes make ourselves out to be in what we say. These children, with their impressionable minds, may be very much more influenced than a child a little older would be, and the child may 1174 become, as the result of his experience in the factory or workshop, disillusioned, sickened or even corrupted by what he hears. If we can keep these children for another year under the influence of their school teachers, an influence which I think is, on the whole, extraordinarily good, we shall, from the moral point of view, have done a service to the youth of to-day.
§ Mr. ANNESLEY SOMERVILLE
The hon. Member who has just sat down has told us that, in order that we may hold our own with eastern competition, we must develop the mental side of our children. I agree that we must develop the mental side and the mechanical skill of our children, and hold our own by producing the finest kinds of manufactures; but I submit that the Bill which is now before us will not for years to come produce that result, but will only lead to considerable educational waste and inefficiency. The hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Llewellyn-Jones) told us that, as an official of a secondary school, he often greatly regretted the fact that there were many children who wished to obtain secondary education, but for whom there were no places—[Interruption]. I understood him to say that there were no places for them. At any rate, he spoke of secondary schools, and that was my point. That is an argument against this Bill. There is only a. certain amount of educational energy to be disposed of, and that energy is going to be directed into what I believe to be a wasteful channel at present. If you were to put part of that energy into the development of your secondary education system, into the provision of more free places, you would be doing far more for the educational system of the country. What is necessary—and what the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Hastings) has said supports this view—is, first of all, to train the leaders of the people. It is the leaders that matter. It is the leaders that direct, that put the energy and the enterprise into the life of the nation. Give the rank and file the soundest education you can, but what matters most is the education that you give to the leaders.
The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) is not, I am sorry to say, in his place at the moment—I suppose he went out to get another copy of the "Evening Standard" to support his view. I do not 1175 know whether the "Evening Standard" would be flattered at being quoted in support of this Bill. The hon. Member told us that there was a surplus of wealth in the country, and he quoted an article by, I understood, the financial editor of the "Evening Standard" as saying, "Where does the money come from?" We were accused of being defeatists on this side because we drew attention to it, but the money comes from industry, and, because the Government that sits on the Front Bench opposite is in office, industry has lost confidence—[Interruption]. The facts are patent. Capital ham been withdrawn from industry, and is seeking investment in safe securities, in Government funds and in safe loans. That is the reason that we see these loans so eagerly taken up. The hon. Member for Aberavon said that, if rationing is to be done, if there is to be economy, let there be economy all round. I agree; but the rationing has begun, and it is the rationing of one class only. It is the rationing of the class that has the brains and the energy to produce employment, and it is because of the heavy taxation which is rationing those brains and that energy that we have so much unemployment to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted that heavy taxation is a severe handicap on industry, and no one cares to deny it.
The hon. Member for Aberavon followed the President of the Board of Education in asserting that this Bill is going to provide considerable employment. I do not follow him. The right hon. Gentleman said that there are 500,000 children leaving school every year, that, of those 500,000 children. 300,000 get employment, and that, if they keep those children in the schools from April, 1931 to 1932, instead of the 300,000 children, mainly boys, who would get employment, some 150,000 older persons would get employment. I think I am quoting correctly. But when the 500,000 children come out of school at the age of 15 in 1932, what will happen? The 300,000 who would normally get employment will find that half their jobs are taken up by the other people. [Interruption.] Hon. Members laugh, but it will be very difficult for them to disprove that.
The Minister told us that he was easily going to overcome the difficulties in the way of putting this Bill, if it becomes 1176 law, into operation next April, and he said that there would be the places. He may get the bricks and mortar, but I doubt it. He did us the honour of coming down to Windsor recently to open a new school to provide for 700 or 800 children, and he made a most delightful speech—a very much pleasanter speech to listen to than the one which he made in introducing this Bill, and in which there were far too many appeals to class prejudice and far too few appeals to reason. In our small place, if the age is raised next year, we shall have to add to that school, and we shall not 'be ready. The Minister ought to listen to the very weighty letter that appeared in the Press this morning by the leaders of London education. He ought to listen to the resolutions that have been sent in from my county and from a number of others. London says she cannot be ready in time, and the other counties say so very largely.
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
In that nice speech that I made, did I not tell you that you would have to be ready? I think I suggested that you had better be ready.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
What is the use of that suggestion if we cannot be ready? [Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to jeer, but facts are too strong for theories. You can only do what you can do. London and the counties have told you that they cannot be ready.
The County Councils Association by a large majority have declared in favour of the principles contained in the Bill.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
Yes, but that does not bind the county councils, and the county councils' association will not have to provide the places or the teachers. I oppose the Bill as being unwise at present on the ground that we cannot provide teachers of the right type in time. Unless you get the right teachers and provide the right teaching it would be much better for the boys and girls of 14 and 15 to be out in the world helping their parents. The chief duty of a teacher is to train character even more than to teach the pupil to acquire knowledge, to train them to have a sense of responsibility, to develop the critical faculty to 1177 some extent so that they do not believe everything they read in the stunt press, and to have a little of the spirit that I found in a working man friend of mine who was speaking of our political leader and said, "I like him. He is not always abusing the other side," the spirit that does not abuse a thing simply because it is abused by the other side but sees the good ponts in it. That is the spirit we want to cultivate.
We want to cultivate, in this levelling age, individuality and personality, and every great educational reformer from Jean Jacques Rousseau downwards—and hon. Members opposite ought to pay heed to what Jean Jacques Rousseau said—has extolled the value of individuality. One of our educational leaders has written lately, "We must stress individuality in education, individuality of the pupil, of the school and of the teacher," and in these days of mass production and combines, which are blotting out the old relations between master and man, in these days when administrative areas are being widened and we are falling more and more into the hands of officialdom, it is well to develop something in the way of individuality. There is nothing that a teacher values more than a flash of intelligence and originality. The teacher who asked a pupil what Pitt would have said of the state of politics to-day must have been delighted when he got the answer, "If Pitt Were alive to-day, he would be too old to take an interest in politics." Personality and individuality are being developed in the secondary schools to-day, and that principle of selection, which is the mainstay of the secondary schools, is a good principle. If you cannot apply a good thing to everyone, select the best people to whom to apply it. When I was in Tanganyika two years ago, I went into many schools there, and I found there is no likelihood of a sufficiency of teachers either black or white for many years to come, and so they confined themselves to the sons of the chiefs and headmen. [An HON. MEMBER: "Class prejudice!"] Is that class prejudice? I do not think that is a worthy remark. They were doing the best they could for education, and the education was of a very practical kind. There was instruction to a large extent in agriculture, which is of the greatest importance there.
1178 May I say one word about what has led up to the present position. For many years the country had an uneasy feeling that it was not getting value for the educational effort it was making, that during the last two years of school life the children were marking time., and the subject was referred to the consultative committee of the Board of Education, presided over by Sir Henry Hadow, and the result was that memorable Hadow Report. Its chief finding, the reorganisation of education after the age of 11, was adopted by the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman and an epoch-making manifesto, "A New Prospect in Education," was issued and a great reorganisation was undertaken. That re-organisation is in progress. When the country is making a great educational effort of that kind, would it not be wiser and more far-seeing to complete it before super-adding to it another great effort in raising the school age?
§ Sir C. TREVELYAN
The hon. Member, no doubt, remembers that an integral part of the Hadow reorganisation was the raising of the school age.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I am quite aware of that fact. I said the chief finding was adopted by my Noble Friend who was then President of the Board of Education. For various reasons the other finding, the raising of the school age in 1931, was not adopted, and the arguments against that have been repeated so often that I will not go into them now. [Interruption]. I am quite ready to give them only time presses. There are other reforms that ought to be carried out before the school age is raised. There is the reduction of the size of classes where the number of pupils is 60 or over. That ought to be carried out before you raise the school age and bring a fresh population into the schools, and it will take 3,000 teachers to do it. I appeal to anyone who has any experience of teaching if it is not a grievous thing that there should be as many classes over 50 as at present and whether it is not imperative that the size of such classes should be reduced at once. Then there are the schools on the black list, the development of secondary schools and the increase of free places and, what I regret more than anything else, the absolute absence of any agreement with the non-provided schools.
1179 The right hon. Gentleman spoke with great confidence in introducing this Measure. He was far less conciliatory than in the speech with which he introduced the previous Bill on the 29th May. I suppose the reason was that he had come to an understanding with his hon. Friend the Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr). He has not satisfied the denominational schools, and he knows well that those schools are an integral and necessary part of our educational system. He cannot do without them, and, if he does not treat them with justice, he will produce chaos. Then the technical schools require consideration, for they are of the utmost importance, and require development on the lines laid down by my Noble Friend who was the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor and so do the central schools. Before you introduce and put into operation such a Measure as this, you must provide the necessary supply of teachers. We see that 13,000 additional teachers will be required in 1933. How will they be supplied? You must introduce into the schools large numbers of uncertificated teachers. It astonishes me that powerful organisations of teachers, whose previous policy for many years has been to eliminate as rapidly as possible the uncertificated teacher, should support a Measure which will bring into our educational system thousands of uncertificated teachers, and prevent the reforms for which those bodies are working for many years to come. The policy on which all teachers are agreed is thorough training and certification of teachers.
There is another point which seems to me fatal to the Bill. Automatically when this Bill passes, as I hope it will not, you introduce the dole spirit into children of 15. Automatically, the dole will be available to children of 15, and there is nothing more regrettable in the present national position than the spirit of dependence—the pauper spirit—that is being introduced among our young people. At a time when we need the independent spirit, the spirit to meet and overcome difficulties, we are training young people to be dependants of the State. On the Second Reading of the previous Bill, the Minister of Education told us that it was a disastrous national waste to allow half-a-million 1180 children to leave school just at the most vital educational year. Would it not be still more disastrous to keep those children in school and let them leave at the end of the year with the feeling that they had been wasting the last two years of their school life? That is what will happen if you put the Bill into operation next year. You will not have the teachers or the equipment, and you will go on teaching the children in the old rut, and, instead of bringing them benefit, you will do them damage.
That is why I oppose the Bill. I say to the Minister, let him build up our organisation and carry out the other reforms that I have mentioned, and produce the teachers properly trained who will undertake this great work. There is no teacher who would not be glad to see every child getting his full opportunity and having all his powers trained to the full, but that cannot be done by this Bill for many a year. Let the Minister carry out these reforms and convince the country of the soundness of his system by so doing. If he does not, he will produce a reaction against education that will be disastrous. When he has convinced the country of the value of what he is doing, then he can expand his system to make it of real use to the country.
§ Miss RATHBONE
Standing aloof from party politics as I do, as is proper for a University representative, it did seem to me that this was one of the few things in the Government programme on which one might hope for unanimity, at least as to its main lines. We hear it said that education, like foreign and Colonial affairs, is a question above party. It seems that, in fact, there is no such question, because there is no Bill introduced by any party which does not contain some risks and some disadvantages, and on which there is always the temptation to make electoral advantage by insisting that the risks and disadvantages are too great. I have listened throughout the debate to the criticisms passed on the Bill from both Opposition benches, and I have wondered, if this had been a Conservative or Liberal Bill—as, for all it contains, it might very easily have been—what different arguments would have issued from the same mouths! Suppose that it had been a Conservative Bill—and it does not differ 1181 in many respects from many of the Measures which issued from the Conservative Administration. Should we not have been told that the real remedy for unemployment was Protection, but that, pending Protection, and while its full effects were working out, it was essential to do something quickly to reduce unemployment?
The argument would have been to ask what quicker and better way of doing it than to lift half-a-million children off the labour market so that their places might be taken by a smaller number of adults. If the Bill had been a Conservative or Liberal Measure, should not we have heard—because all three parties preach rationalisation—that, as the rationalisation of industry proceeded, it would cause a steady diminution in the demand for unskilled and juvenile labour and that we must be prepared for that, and that the best way was to keep the children at school with the double purpose of equipping them the better for more skilled employment, and making more room for the adolescents who would otherwise be unemployed? Suppose that it had been a Liberal Bill: How easily it would have fitted into that great scheme of national development which is the chief panacea of the Liberal party for unemployment! We should have been told that just as we are behind every nation in our bridges and roads and afforestation and electrification, so we are behind in our policy towards school buildings and equipment and the educational opportunities which we are giving to our children. We should have been reminded, in the words of the Hadow Report, thatThere is no capital more productive than the energies of the human being. There is no expenditure more remunerative than expenditure devoted to developing them.On the question of maintenance allowances, the note would have been more hesitating and more apologetic if it had been a Conservative or Liberal Bill. Would not the spokesman of either party have reminded their followers that those who will the end will the means, and that it would be a sheer impossibility for any party to pass to-day a Bill for adding a whole year to the burden of the child dependent on the parents without doing at least something additional and partial to assist them to bear it. What do the 1182 objections brought against the Bill really amount to? I think that nearly all of them were foreshadowed in the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). First of all, there was the administrative difficulty, the difficulty of getting over the bulge period. I will not enlarge upon that matter, as others, who have the figures at their finger ends, have done so, but the Noble Lord admitted that in his fight the great bulk of expert opinion was against him—All the teachers' organisations, all the associations of local authorities"—in opposing the main principle of this Bill. The second of his principal objections was his dislike of compulsion. Here surely is a belated knight-erranty! Supposing that this country had relied entirely upon voluntarism, what proportion of the children under 14 would have been in the elementary schools to-day? It reminds me of Lord Shaftesbury, himself a great Conservative statesman and a great friend of the children on certain questions. When the raising of the school age to 11 years was proposed, he opposed it in the House of Lords on the ground that—The extent to which parents in London are dependent on the labour of their children between 10 and 11 years old your Lordships would hardly imagine.The Noble Lord said he would rather wait for the willing child and the willing parent. But shall we get the best type of child without compulsion? In the interests of the enforcement of parental responsibility the Noble Lord may be willing to let the child suffer when the parent is able but not willing to make the necessary effort for keeping him at school. But what of the parents who are willing but not able? Supposing the circumstances in a family are straitened. The greater affection of the child for its parents the more reluctant the child will be to accept the extra year of school life if it is left to its choice, and the greater will be the anxiety of the child to make its proud contribution to the family exchequer. Children are not the best judges either of their own good or of the common good. In the whole of this discussion too little has been made of the enormous evil of adolescent unemployment. Economically the unemployment of adults may be worse, but morally the unemployment 1183 of the adolescent is even more destructive, for the effect of a long period of unemployment on ardent young minds is likely to turn weaker characters into wastrels and stronger characters into revolutionaries. Even if you send the adolescent to an occupation center its necessarily spasmodic attendance and often makeshift equipment, the arrangements for teaching are very poor substitutes for the regular attendance of the child at school from the age of 14 to 15. The mind of the child attending the occupation center is not really bent upon his task, but upon the chance of escaping from it.
The greatest group of objections to the Bill which have been brought forward by speakers from the Opposition benches relate to the cost both of keeping the scholar at school and of maintenance allowances, and the two really hang together. I defy any Member of this House to contend that it would be practically possible for any Government o introduce a full year of additional compulsory school attendance without a fairly extensive system of maintenance allowances. I will not take up the time of the House by repeating figures already given as to the substantial reductions that can be made in the cost of the scheme owing to the relief which it will afford to expenditure on unemployment. As to the maintenance allowances, the arguments of the Opposition seem to show altogether a lack of appreciation of the relevant economic factors. The Opposition argument seems to come to this, that just because these are bad times it is a particularly inopportune moment for making any further extension of the assistance given to parents in maintaining their children during their school years. You ought, on the contrary, to continue the old system of assuming that the parents will be able to maintain their children out of their wages. I suggest that the moment is opportune just because times are bad. We continually assert that our industrial difficulties, in so far as they are not due to international causes but are due to national causes, are due to high costs of production, and the problem is, how are we to reduce our costs of production without lowering the standard of life of the workers, or, if that is not 1184 judged possible at least without compelling any of them to live under conditions of acute and injurious privation?
I wonder how many Members of Parliament have studied the pre-War figures given by Dr. Bowley and Mr. Seebohm Rowntree showing the proportion of families at that period actually living under conditions of acute and injurious privation. They called it primary poverty. They showed that nearly three-fourths of those found in that condition was due to the fact that the father's wage was insufficient to cover the cost of the number of children actually dependent upon that wage. That was at a time of relative prosperity when there was comparatively little unemployment. Unemployment, next to child dependency—even more than child dependency—is the primary cause of poverty. Interesting investigations made by a society of the University of Liverpool have illustrated that fact in a very remarkable way. How absurd it is to suggest, therefore, that the father who wants to keep a child at school until 15, or is compelled to keep a child at school until 15, ought to be able to pay for its keep out of his wages, and at the same time to hint that his wages are already too high and ought, therefore, to be lowered either in kind or in value! The truth is that side by side with the rationalisation of industry we need a movement for the rationalisation of the method by which we provide for the rearing of happy future generations. We need a more scientific method of doing it than through a wage system which makes no extra provision for the heavy but temporary strain of child dependency. The Conservative party, who believe that the workers can do without Socialism, are the last party who ought to ignore the importance of that policy. This Bill takes but one faltering step in that direction, but at least it takes that step.
Finally, I have one word to say to those who object to the proposal for maintenance allowances, not because it goes too far, but because it does not go far enough. I think I was the first person in this House to raise objections to maintenance allowances based on a means test. I pointed out some of the injustices and anomalies they involved. But as a realist in politics, I think I know a 1185 stone wall when I see it. I believe that it would be politically possible and economically justifiable to give maintenance allowances without a means test. When the Bill is in Committee I shall put forward some suggestions for removing some of the anomalies and injustices that are contained in the particular form of proposals which hate been made. In the meantime, I would counsel those who think on this subject as I do to take what we can get when we can get it, and content ourselves, even if we think this is not enough, that when the Bill is on the Statute Book the right hon. Gentleman responsible for putting it there will have "lighted a candle in this realm which will not easily be put out."
Sir HILTON YOUNG
The speech of the hon. Member for the combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) has, I fear, only served to persuade us that she does not in the least apprehend the strength and the depth of the feeling that there is upon these benches against the principles of this Bill. Her speech has served also to suggest to us that she does not apprehend the gravity of the financial situation with which this country is confronted. On this third occasion on which the House has the opportunity of discussing this or similar Measures one thing has emerged. There is a willingness on all hands to understand that the utility of our debate depends upon the general recognition that in all parts of this House there is the same sense of the value of education to the country, and that nothing is to be gained by mere party attributions to our opponents of indifference on this subject. I wish I could say that on this occasion we have observed an equally general sense of the actual circumstances in which we are considering the Bill. It has occurred to me that the speeches which show an appreciation of the conditions to which we are attempting to apply this Measure have proceeded from this side of the House only. All the speeches that I have heard in support of the Bill might just as well have been made 20 years ago, and I hope that they may be made 20 years hence if and when times have improved, but I am sure that they are inappropriate now.
We are unalterably opposed to this Measure, first of all on educational grounds, grounds, because we believe it to ill- 1186 directed as a present effort for the improvement of education in the country. I proceed upon the basis of common sense that we have not an unlimited amount of money to spend even for the very best of purposes, and I shall later attempt to argue that at the present time we have not any more money to afford for the extension of educational expenditure. But let me assume for the moment that we have the money. All the argument that has been advanced and which has carried the day on the merits, is to the effect that, if we have any money to spend at the present time in further educational expenditure, the best way to spend it is the most selective way, and the most selective way is by spending it on higher education and not in the general extension of elementary education. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) was completely misunderstood at one period of his most valuable argument. He said that the educational expenditure should be now upon the leaders of the nation, and an attempt was made to pervert the meaning of that statement into a class sense. Of course, no class sense was intended. The argument was this, that if you have some money to spend at present you should spend it in a selective way on the brains and minds of those who are most capable to profit by it. There would be inevitable waste in spreading it in the manner proposed in the Bill. Higher education, continuation schools and secondary schools, would be the most economical way of spending the money.
A further ground on which opposition to this Bill will be maintained is that, even taking it at its best intentions, taking it as a Bill for the advancement of elementary education, it is a humbug and a sham. It is designed to give an appearance of effecting something by the efforts of the Government under conditions which we fear the Government must know will prevent them from effecting anything at all. To-day, the hopes and expectations expressed by the President of the Board of Education that he will be able to get this scheme into working order next year have been shattered by criticism. I refer, in particular, to the speech of the hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb), and also to what we have read in the public Press as to the condition of London and its preparations to carry out the scheme. Re- 1187 organisation is not ready. When that argument is advanced, the right hon. Gentleman folds his arms, like Napoleon, and says: "I tell London that it must be ready." It is impossible for him to dragoon London. It is no use expressing the determination that London must be ready. We are faced with facts that cannot be overcome even by the will of the most powerful Ministers, and what we have to enforce before this debate closes is the fact that if and when this Bill is carried through, it is possible that there may be an appearance of a system of extended education for one year introduced into the country next year, but that appearance will be a sham.
The accommodation may be ready, but even the right hon. Gentleman himself has expressed some doubt and apprehension about that. The apprehension that the accommodation ready will be inadequate for the children, is not the gravest question. The gravest question is that of the teachers. Education is nothing without the teacher. In 1935, which will be the peak year, 13,000 teachers must be ready in order to carry out this scheme, to provide for the normal growth and the additional children coming in. From the words of the right hon. Gentleman himself, it is apparent that the teachers will not be there, and, if an appearance is made that the teachers are ready to take the classes, it will he by a lamentable lowering of the standard. The right hon. Gentleman told us in his speech in introducing a similar Bill what was going to happen. He has told us that, if necessary, the teachers will have to be obtained by bringing in those who are old, those who have retired because they have earned a rest, and those who are too young. It is well known to those who are acquainted with the organisation of the normal colleges that the only other way in which the teachers can be obtained is simply by a process of scuffling the teachers through, so that there will be a general lowering of qualifications. If that be so, what will be the result?
It is agreed by everybody who knows the difference between education which is worth while and education which is not worth while that the worst of all features in the elementary schools is inadequate provision for the last year of a child, which leads to this marking time, which 1188 leads to his simply sitting on the bench repeating work that he has done over and over again. That teaches him a con-tempt for education. That is precisely what must happen if this scheme is scuffled in the way it is being scuffled. That will be the experience in schools of all sorts; that is the other evil we shall be incurring by hastening this Measure.
There is much more. There is much imprudence in hastening this Measure at any time but the action of the President of the Board of Education at this time will duplicate the imprudence, because he is being hasty at a time when the increase of the birth-rate after the war will he reflected in an increase of children in the schools. At any ordinary time it would be unwise to hasten such a Measure on the country, but these additional children coming in, owing to an increase of the birth-rate after the War, will duplicate his difficulties.
If our objections were only based on these technical educational objections, strong as they would be, there would not be the same necessity for confronting the Government on this occasion with a strenuous opposition, but they are based upon considerations which are deeper still. The deepest consideration upon which the opposition to this Bill is based is an unalterable opposition to the extension of the principle of compulsion and maintenance grants. [Interruption.] In enacting this Measure, the Government are committing an outrage upon the very deepest things in life. They are raising an issue, and let us face it, which is perhaps the most fundamental of all issues which separates hon. Members on the other side of the House from hon. Members on this side.
What is it that we object to in the Bill? We object to the principle of compulsion. It is no good arguing that compulsion has been need in the past. That is true. In the past there has been compulsion on children to go to school, but observe the conditions under which that compulsion has been exercised. It has always been exercised in order to compel a minority to come up to the standard which has already been accepted voluntarily by the majority of the country. [Interruption.] I have not the least hesitation in saying that, and I challenge 1189 any student of educational history to refute that proposition in general from the history of this country. In each case in which the country has decided to exercise a general measure of compulsion the fact that the principle was accepted by the country had been demonstrated by its acceptance voluntarily by a majority. Here you have precisely the contrary conditions. You have no evidence of any sort that the principle of compelling parents to send their children to school for another year is acceptable. On the contrary you have the strongest evidence that it is not acceptable, because for some years it has been possible voluntarily for parents to send their children to school for the additional year, and, on the whole, it has not been adopted by the country. Therefore, what is being done by the Government at the present time is to force upon this country a Measure which on the whole the country has voluntarily shown that it is not willing to accept. That is an offence against the deepest principles of that liberty which underlies all human aims, and an offence against it in the most susceptible place, that is, in regard to the relations of the parent to his children.
We have heard much during the debate about this Measure conferring a benefit upon the children. It is very touching, and awakens a chord. But let us look at a deeper verity still. It is not for this House, or for this Parliament, or for any Government at any stage to interfere between the relations of the parent and his child. [Interruption.] I am perfectly prepared to lay that down as one of the principles which will ultimately divide us from hon. Members opposite. Here we are up against the difference between a Socialist and one who is not a Socialist. There are two units in society—the family and the State. Hon. Members opposite exalt the State above the family; we exalt the family above the State. [Interruption.] You think that it is possible to advance a nation by the subjugation of the family unit to the State unit. We, on the other hand, in debates in this House and in the country, in the measures we have taken, recognise that the ultimate foundation stone on which the welfare of the country must be built is the family unit, and a free and independent family unit. 1190 Against the bond which binds the family together, and which makes the bricks out of which a sound State is built, you are advancing two attacks—a frontal attack of compulsion and a flank attack of maintenance. Just as compulsion is designed directly to break it up, so the sapping influence of maintenance is also designed to break it up. There is no possible compromise or reconciliation on this principle. It will be resisted until we have restored the essential liberties of the country to their proper estimation in the minds of the people of the country.
Let me look at the financial provisions of this Bill. The estimates show that in the year 1935 the cost of the Bill will amount to nearly £9,000,000. These estimates are worth no more than the paper on which they are written. They are based, first, upon an estimate of the cost of schools, school buildings and accommodation, and they profess to be made for five years ahead. It is beyond the ingenuity of the ablest official of the ablest office to give an estimate of that sort for five years ahead. Secondly, they are based on an estimate of what maintenance is to cost. There, again, they are worth no more than the paper on which they are written. The President of the Board of Education has told us that he is allowing for maintenance grants for 70 per cent. of the children in the elementary schools. According to the income limits which have been set by his scheme I believe that a reference to the best authorities on the income of the wage earners shows that the income limits will practically include all children in the elementary schools without any exception at all.
At any rate, let us see what the defences are to the limitation of maintenance grants. The defence is nothing but a regulation of the Board of Education. Is that strong enough I As long as we have the present Government in office it does not prevent an immediate extension under pressure from their own followers, which will lead to the cost of the maintenance grants being swollen until upwards of an additional £2,000,000 will be paid out in maintenance grants to all children in the schools. These estimates are quite inadequate. Taking them at their face value there is to be an additional expense of £9,000,000 a 1191 year in order to provide for this extension of the educational system. To make that proposal this year, under the conditions in which the country stands, convinces us more than ever that this Government is a public danger.
What are the conditions of the country at the present time? First of all, let me invite the attention of the House to what is being done already for the social services. Our expenditure on social services has been multiplied by six since 1911. It now amounts to over £1,000,000 a day, to over £365,000,000 a year. It amounts to very nearly half of our total expenditure. The expenditure upon education is now round about £45,000,000, and will soon be above the £50,000,000 mark. The total national income is in the neighbourhood of only £4,000,000,000. Even the most simple consideration of these figures shows that if we were in a state of normal vigour in our industries, we would suggest to ourselves caution in the increase of this expenditure. What is our actual condition? The country is struggling under a burden bigger than it has ever borne before; it is lying in the trough of a depression more severe than it has known before and is not yet seeing a way out; and the Government has no suggestions to make but the accumulation of fresh burdens on industry. It learns nothing, it can perceive nothing. In its proposals it cannot apply even the most elementary common sense to the changing conditions of the day.
We are told, "Oh, but the retention of the children in the schools is to give an indirect benefit to employment." There never was a more illusory argument used in this House. Where arc these children to be retained in the schools? Many of them in the agricultural areas, where there is no unemployment at all. Then as to the rest, suppose that you take the argument at its face value and suppose that the retention of 500,000 children in the schools is to employ 150,000 men in industry. I believe the argument to be completely illusory, but suppose it to be true. What would be the balance of the account? The President of the Board of Education cannot pretend that the gain would be even of the same order as the actual fresh expenditure. He has moreover forgotten one detail; he has forgotten the cost on industry of employing 1192 adult labour. [Interruption.] I am not advancing any contention on the merits; I am only pointing out that the President of the Board of Education has forgotten one of the terms of his equation. I am sure that hon. Members opposite desire to get their equations right, without forgetting some of the terms. Even if it were so, even if we grant that there would be a direct saving, our function to-day is to call the attention of the House to that which it should consider, not what someone conceives may be the direct saving, but the indirect loss and injury to industry from the increased taxation. The argument has been so often advanced that I will not weary the House with it again: Industry can bear no further burdens.
We are told, "Yes, but this is a long-term investment. You must invest in the long-term investment to improve the standard of education in the country, because it will bring you in an ultimate return." In that argument there is much force—so much force that at an ordinary time it deserves to succeed. This is a long-term investment. I have argued that at the present time it is not such a good long-term investment as would be an investment in higher education. But undoubtedly the raising of the school age is a good long-term investment, but, alas, there are times when you cannot afford long-term investment.Delightful task, to train the tender mindAnd teach the young idea how to shoot—but when the house is on fire you have not time for things of that sort; you cannot spare resources for it, and you have to devote all your energy to putting out the flames. So on the arithmetical count, at a time like this you want all the resources of the country for the essential underpinning of industry. When we start forward again towards prosperity, as we all hope to do some day, we shall once more be able to take up this long-range policy, but not till then.
The remarkable thing about the Government's efforts is their extraordinary inopportuneness. When they have a good thing they advance it at the wrong time. They seem to me to be able to make every error that can be made in their policy. In the case of industry they can make the forcible errors personified 1193 in the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—the forcible errors of seeking to restore prosperity to industry by bludgeoning it with direct taxation. Then there are the feeble errors that are personified in the right hon. Lady the Minister of Labour—feeble errors of doing nothing at all about unemployment. There are such errors as we see to-day which, if the President of the Board of Education will allow me to do so, I would call "forcible feeble errors." The Government are now trying to do something which was a good thing once long after it has ceased to be a good thing to do. They are so extraordinarily inopportune. They can show great courage in defying the laws of nature and the rules of common sense and arithmetic; and they can show a very great caution, where courage is necessary, in order to check that dependence and that self-helplessness which is becoming in this country so perilously prevalent. Sometimes they can be economic. They can be economic where expenditure would be wise, as in the development of the assets of the Empire overseas. They can be lavish with other peoples' money. They can be lavish where economy is advisable in husbanding our resources for the reconditioning of our industries. I think to myself of the fervour with which they must say their General Confession on Sunday mornings:We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us.I ventured to use in a moment of fervour, just now, the phrase that this Government is a public danger. I think it is. I can imagine the country recovering without permanent injury from such a misfortune as the present industrial depression. I can imagine the country recovering equally from such a misfortune as the present Government, but I can hardly imagine the country recovering without very grave injury, from the coincidence of calamities of having the two at once. Yet I am confident that the country will recover. Its wonderful resilience will enable it to do so. But when we march triumphant from this coincidence of calamities I think that in all the long record of achievement to which we look back as a nation this will be the greatest achievement of all.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Morgan Jones)
If I do not immediately refer to the points which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) has made in the course of his speech I hope he will take it that that is not from any sense that the points which he has made are valueless, but because I desire to refer to them at a. more appropriate stage of my remarks. We have heard this afternoon a discussion which I am sure has given satisfaction to everybody. It has encouraged the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks in the belief that the balance of argument is on his side and it has encouraged us in the confidence that the weight of proof is with us. It seems to me that the issue between hon. Members opposite and ourselves can be summarised in one sentence. They take the view that this Bill will be a millstone round the necks of the people of this country. We take the view that it is a milestone marking the progress of this country towards greater industrial efficiency and social happiness. Different reasons have been advanced as to why this Bill should be opposed and I conceive it my duty to address myself particularly to those arguments.
Before I come to them, however, I should like to make a reference to one fact which has been observed by many speakers concerning an element which was present in the previous Bill and which is not present in this Bill, namely the proposals in regard to the voluntary schools. Several hon. Members have deplored the absence from this Bill of similar proposals. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Scurr), who has consistently and pertinaciously maintained his point of view throughout the controversy, invited the President of the Board or someone on his behalf to hold out the hope that the door might still be open for a discussion of this very perplexing matter. I wish to tell my hon. Friend and all of a similar preoccupation of mind that my right hon. Friend is extremely anxious to keep the door still open. I am sure I speak on his behalf when I say that nothing would please him better than to find a concordat possible which would reconcile the great religious and public interests involved.
Now, for the purpose of my argument, I propose to divide the opponents of the 1195 Measure into two classes—those who take their stand simply upon the question al principle in opposition to raising the school age at all, and those who are not so violently opposed to raising the school age as a principle, but who regard it at this moment as inexpedient from a national point of view. I take the first class, and I would make this observation at the outset, that it seems to me that the speeches of many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have disclosed, perhaps unintentionally—I do not know—some measure of social prejudice in this matter.
I observe that the Noble Lord himself derives some great enjoyment from that observation of mine. What was the point of a substantial portion of his own speech if it was not to argue that education, from his point of view, was not essentially a right for the children of workers beyond a certain age? We contend against and contest that point of view. We are not going to yield—I hope this party never will—to the assertion, arising from purely social prejudices, that the children of the working classes are destined, because they are children of the working classes, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. I do not emphasise that point unduly; I leave it just there. I have merely noted the point that it has been apparent in more than one speech, including that of the Noble Lord this afternoon.
I turn to the second line of argument in that first class, and that is the element of compulsion, and it is a point to which the right hon. Member for Sevenoaks himself subscribed. What is there sacrosanct about the age of 14 from the point of view of compulsion? We have compelled—indeed, several times has the State enlarged the area of compulsion in respect of education, and it is a fact, which many of us deplore, undoubtedly, that every time compulsion in the realm of education has been applied, it has been applied very much in spite of the opposition, oftentimes, of parents and employers. Invariably, however, whenever any opposition was to be put up to proposals to extend the education of the community, whoever it was could always rely with confidence on the enthusiastic support of the party opposite.
1196 But they object to political compulsion. Do they not overlook this other element in this matter, the element of economic compulsion which drives children from the schools into the labour market? Have they any objection to that compulsion Does their feeling of abhorrence not develop when they contemplate this measure of economic compulsion that drives hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of children unwillingly into the labour market at the age of 14? Not at all. They agree to it because they believe that children of the workers ought naturally to go into the labour market.
We have had another argument here to-night—and I am bound to admit that it is advanced by people who thoroughly believe the proposition involved—that it is useless to educate so many of these children. I may claim that I know something about the children of the elementary schools, having been connected with them all my life, and I assert that the people who talk like that assume far too readily the presence of uneducable children in our schools. It is not true to assert with such freedom and without qualification that large numbers of children 'are worthless from the point of view of educability. I know what hon. Gentlemen are thinking of; they are thinking really of the practically-minded child. When they think of the practically-minded child as distinct from the academically-minded child, they ought to remember that a big revolution is taking place within the schools, and nobody has contributed more to that revolution than the right hon. Gentleman opposite. When, therefore, hon. Gentlemen opposite say that so many of these children are not worth attention, they are merely reflecting upon the proposals of their own educational leader of the last four or five years before this Government came in.
What in fact is happening in the schools? People have been looking upon our educational machine and have inquired whether it in fact fits the requirements of the nation at large at this moment, and there is a substantial measure of agreement in regard to the answer that, however good may be the work of the schools, even of the elementary schools to the age of 14, it falls short of the educational requirements of the Briton of to-morrow. Because of that, the right hon. Gentle- 1197 man himself has been responsible, I will not say for enforcing, but for inducing education authorities, since the publication of the Hadow report, to apply themselves diligently to the problem of reorganising education at the age of 11, providing on the one side for the academically-minded child, and on the other side for the practically-minded child. Having had the privilege of seeing, especially in the last 12 months or so, the work done by the more practically-minded children of our schools, I assert that the work constitutes nothing short of a real revolution. Therefore, it is absurd for people to argue to-day that, because there are a few somewhat worthless people, there is no justification for enlarging the bounds of educational opportunity within the schools.
The Noble Lord, as he has done so many times with my wholehearted approval, spoke enthusiastically concerning the need for the development of technical education. I am sure that he is quite right in urging this in season and out of season upon the community. It is in the highest degree essential, but does not the Noble Lord see that before technical education, started round the age of 16, can be of real permanent value, we must have an effective foundation established and laid down by the schools. To raise the school age from 14 to 15 years would be a very substantial contribution indeed towards broadening the basis upon which to build your later technical education. Having made that observation concerning those in the first class who object to the raising of the school age on principle, let me turn to those who object to raising it on the ground of expediency. I repeat my question, Are those who take that view quite satisfied that our present educational arrangements and organisation are adequate to meet the needs of the Britain of to-morrow?
In order to answer that question I am entitled to adduce this evidence. The right hon. Member who spoke last, as well as other speakers, have said that the nation cannot afford it, for this reason or the other. But there is an impressive volume of opinion, not drawn from Labour circles or any tainted political source, if I may put it so, but drawn from commercial and business circles, the opinion of people who would be likely to look at this problem from the 1198 businesslike point of view, which says that one of two, or both, proposals should be undertaken in order to improve our educational standards to meet the needs of to-morrow. The two methods a re either to give a 12 mouths' course of fail time education, as we propose in the Bill, or to give a course of part time education under the continuation school system. I appeal to hon. Members, with a deep sense of earnestness, not to forget, in all this talk concerning administrative difficulties, that some large national issues are involved in the step which we are taking for the further improvement of our educational system. I admit that the administrative problems cannot be burked, and they have not been burked; but this great thing which we propose to do for the youth of our land can be achieved, and it is long overdue. Nobody would deny that there are difficulties, but I appeal to the House not to exaggerate them and not to be intimidated by them, but, rather, to do their best to surmount them.
What is proposed in the Bill is worthy of a big effort. Our nation is an industrial nation and is becoming more and more an industrial nation, and industry is being rationalised; but a rationalised and an industrialist nation requires skill and efficiency from its members, and the addition of a year will contribute very substantially to the opportunities of our schools to add to the reservoir of skill and technical efficiency which will be available some few years hence. I therefore plead that hon. Members will dispose themselves, so far as they can, to taking the long view, believing that in the long run, as is indeed admitted by hon. and right hart. Members opposite, this Measure cannot but be of tremendous importance and value to the nation. It has been urged by hon. Members opposite that this Bill should be rejected for various reasons. The main reason is that it is argued that the time is not opportune, and that we should leave this question alone for the present. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks, that these speeches reminded him of those of 20 years ago, and he said that he did not want to hear of them again for another 20 years. In the very next sentence the same right hon. Gentleman told us how 1199 enthusiastic he was that there should be equal educational opportunities for everybody.
I would like to ask hon. Members opposite: When is the proper time to give our children a better educational opportunity? I do not think I am overstating the facts when I say that I do not believe that there has been a single argument advanced to-night against the principle of raising the school age that has not been advanced on every single occasion when an advance of the school age has been proposed. Suppose that we agree to postpone this Measure for five or 10 years until there has been a revival of industry. What does that mean? It means that the moment a current of prosperity begins to flow we should be told we are flinging this Measure into the current to dam it up, and thus prevent the nation reaping the benefit of this revival during those five or 10 years.
In the view of hon. Members opposite there never will be an appropriate time. I submit to the House, having regard to the obligations that may confront us a few years hence, that it will be much better for the nation to prepare itself now to face the future by promoting this Measure, which will bring about greater industrial and national prosperity, and ensure that we shall not lag behind other nations. I do not commit myself to any definite figures, but, whatever the figures may be, surely no one can deny that the keeping of 300,000 or 400,000 children off the labour market must inevitably have a beneficial effect on the labour of older children, and later perhaps on the labour of adult people. I care not what the figures may he, but, whatever they are, surely it is better for us to secure a return to more constant labour among our adult people than that the younger children should be at work. I agree with the hon. Lady who represents the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) that in this discussion we have not nearly had a sufficient contemplation by the House of the effect of this horrible unemployment upon the morale of our juveniles in this country, and I am entitled, I think, with the hon. Lady, to ask the House this question. Looking upon that horrible picture of queues of young people 15, 16, 18 and 20 years of age losing their spiritual 1200 sense of worth, I am entitled, surely, to ask the House, what shall it profit this nation if it gain the whole world's markets and lose the nation's soul?
There is another alternative that is offered, and I want to deal with it. I discussed on the last occasion the alternative to this, namely voluntaryism, and I need not traverse that ground again to-night, but an alternative has been discussed in this debate which I think deserves some attention. It is the continuation school system, which is offered as an alternative to the raising of the school age. Whatever may be said against the raising of the school age, it does, anyway, give one continued year of education. What does the continuation school system do? If we take Mr. Fisher's proposals the proposals now embodied in the present law, all that is offered is something like 40 weeks of eight hours each, with a possible reduction, in special circumstances, to 40 weeks of seven hours each—that is to say, as against 12 months of continued education, you have the alternative of something between 320 and 280 hours per year of part-time education.
I submit to hon. Members who advance this proposition that the working of that system involves an entirely new and separate system of education. It involves centralised buildings; it involves the teaching being done in shifts, because, unless it is done in shifts, the teachers will not be occupied for the whole of their time; it involves having a very large educational school unit, because otherwise the school cannot he effectively organised according to the various attainments, endowments and interests of the pupils. Consequently, taking it all round, it is an infinitely better proposition as a piece of practical politics that the raising of the school age should be accepted, rather than that the temporary expedient of continuation schools should be put forward. May I add this with regard to continuation schools? If you have continuation schools, let is be clearly kept in mind that in the main the benefit will accrue to those who live in the more urban areas. A continuation school system will, in my judgment, be very prejudicial indeed to the interests of the purely rural child, and, if once you erect a system which would be more attractive to the urban than to the rural child, you 1201 may encourage to an even greater degree the depopulation of the countryside which has already taken place.
The right hon. Gentleman opposite told us that we were not going to be ready. All I can tell him is that we have inspectors whose business it is to survey the field constantly, in season and out of season, and our information from them is that there need not he any undue difficulty either in the country or in the towns. There will be nowhere—there may be exceptions here and there as regards reorganisation—nowhere where this proposal cannot be accepted as a practical proposition from 1st April next. I want to argue another thing. The argument was advanced by the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris)—I do not complain of it, it was quite a good point to make—that the local education authorities have only from now to 1st April. Not exactly so. The full effect of the Bill will not be felt on 1st April. It will not be felt anyhow until the end of the term that comes after 1st April has passed, and it happens that the end of the first complete term after April comes about midsummer. So that takes you till after the midsummer holidays before you begin to feel the effect of this proposal. That, therefore, gives nearly 12 months before we are called upon to face that. eventuality.
I must turn at this point to discuss the animadversions of hon. Members upon the maintenance allowance proposals. I am somewhat amazed at the effrontery of the Noble Lord opposite and his colleagues, who have attacked us on the ground that the proposal to give maintenance allowances is something that causes them shame and great spiritual discomfort. I am not exaggerating. On the last occasion he used these words:I really have not the patience to deal with such irrational and humiliating proposals.It happens that in my country there is a county called Carnarvonshire, and in that county the local education authority has availed itself of the power to carry a by-law. Having carried it, it became a law of compulsion in that area for children to attend school up to the age of 15. That law of compulsion was imposed on the authority of the Noble Lord opposite. He had no objection to compulsion in Carnarvonshire. He might 1202 have a vague objection in Hastings, but I resent the implication that my fellow-countrymen require it more than his constituents. Not only that, but in that area in Carnarvonshire, again with the Noble Lord's assent, not only was compulsion applied by the by-law that children should attend school at the age of 15 but also maintenance allowances are given. I have not yet heard any report of spiritual discomfort on the part of the Noble Lord in 1927 when he approved this proposal I would ask another question. When the Noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman opposite published the document I hold in my hand, in May, 1929, were they still objecting? Did they still feel a sense of apprehension or humiliation concerning the possible effects of a maintenance allowance on the population of the country? Of course, they were marching towards the ballot box then, and this was going to do the trick for them. This sets out their education proposals, and it saysIt will link the schools not only with the universities but also with the great technical colleges so as to offer opportunities to all who desire to do so to pursue a connected course of studies from childhood to manhood; and it will assist those who could not otherwise take advantage of these opportunities by an adequate provision of free places and scholarships, supplemented where necessary by maintenance allowances.That was not an unauthorised document. It was issued with the full imprimatur of the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Prime Minister, and is an official statement of Conservative education policy. I take another case, the last administrative action of the Noble Lord, and it was this. He issued—let the House remember they were then marching towards the ballot box—this circular to the local authorities concerning maintenance allowances. In it they actually removed the limitation set by the law upon maintenance allowances, and they said—
§ Mr. JONES
Well, set by the regulations. They said this:Experience has satisfied the Board"—that is, of course, the Noble Lord—that the provision under which arrangements and estimates of cost have to be submitted for the Board's approval render the retention of the limitation unnecessary.… These provisions, as in the past, are based on the principle that the purpose of the 1203 maintenance allowance is to assist a pupil to pursue a suitably organised and progressive course of study extending over a definite period of suitable length beyond the date when he ceases to he under a legal obligation to attend school; and grant will only be paid in respect of allowances awarded to pupils whose parents express a bona fide intention of keeping them at school for a specified period after that date. What this period should be will to some extent depend on the nature of the course, but the Board anticipate that pupils will be normally expected to remain at least until the end of the term"—we ask for 12 months—or preferably to the end of the school year in which they reach the age of 15.The point the Noble Lord makes is that that is voluntary. Suppose 10,000 people had availed themselves of this, would he have agreed? Suppose 100,000 or 400,000 had applied, would he have agreed? The difference between us is not a question of principle but of degree. The actual point I am making is that if it is right to grant maintenance allowances to 10, to 1,000 or 10,000, or 100,000, it is equally right to grant them to 400,000.
Finally, the point I want to make to the House is that, when we offer maintenance allowances they are doles, but when the Noble Lord offers them they are allowances. It is the old question of the difference between a salary and a wage. When did the Noble Lord feel the
§ promptings of conscience? When did he begin to experience this spiritual discomfort? When did he begin to feel that it is a source of spiritual exaltation to give it to a few thousand and a source of humiliation to give it to 400,000? I ask the House to consider this question upon broader grounds. Hon. Members are oppressed, and rightly oppressed, at the great crisis in industry, and I am confident that once again the country and this House will not create further difficulties, but will take a longer and a wider view. It has been said that a nation marches forward on the feet of little children. If we look back to the old days of child labour in the mine, the mill, the factory and the workshop we realise how the prosperity which enriched our country, was in fact a burden borne on bruised and wearied feet. I am confident that if this Measure is accepted by the House, we as a nation will be able to secure that the coming generation, strong in physique, alert in intelligence, and stable in character, will be able to carry our national burden in the days of difficulty and complexity, which, no doubt, lie before us, on to a prosperity greater, perhaps, than we now dare hope.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now,' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 294; Noes, 227.1207
|Division No. 3]||AYES.||[10.58 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Brothers, M.||Duncan, Charles|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Ede, James Chuter|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Edmunds, J. E.|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.||Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Burgess, F. G.||Egan, W. H.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Angell, Norman||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Arnott, John||Caine, Derwent Hall-||Foot, Isaac|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Cameron, A. G.||Forgan, Dr. Robert|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Cape, Thomas||Freeman, Peter|
|Ayles, Walter||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bllston)||Charleton, H. C.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Chater, Daniel||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Church, Major A. G.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes, Mossley)|
|Barr, James||Clarke, J. S.||Gillett, George M.|
|Batey, Joseph||Cluse, W. S.||Glassey, A. E.|
|Bellamy, Albert||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Gossling, A. G.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Gould, F.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Compton, Joseph||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Benson, G.||Cove, William G.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., cent.)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Cowan, D. M.||Gray, Milner|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Daggar, George||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Dallas, George||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Dalton, Hugh||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Day, Harry||Groves, Thomas E.|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Grundy, Thomas W.|
|Bromfield, William||Devlin, Joseph||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)|
|Bromley, J.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brooke, W.||Dukes, C.||Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Mansfield, W.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Harbison, T. J.||March, S.||Shield, George William|
|Harbord, A.||Marcus, M.||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Hardie, George D.||Markham, S. F.||Shinwell, E.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Marley, J.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mothers, George||Simmons, C. J.|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Matters, L. W.||Simen, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Haycock, A. W.||Maxton, James||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Hayday, Arthur||Messer, Fred||Sinkinson, George|
|Hayes, John Henry||Middleton, G.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mills, J. E.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Milner, Major J.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Montague, Frederick||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Herriotts, J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)||Morley, Ralph||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hollins, A.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Snell, Harry|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Mort, D. L.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Moses, J. J. H.||Sorensen, R.|
|Isaacs, George||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Stephen, Campbell|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Muff, G.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Johnston, Thomas||Muggeridge, H. T.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)||Murnin, Hugh||Strauss, G. R.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Nathan, Major H. L.||Sullivan, J.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Naylor, T. E.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Noel Baker, P. J.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Jowitt, Sir W. A. (Preston)||Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Oldfield, J. R.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Oliver, George Harold (likeston)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Tillett, Ben|
|Kirkwood, D.||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Knight, Holford||Palin, John Henry||Tout, W. J.|
|Lang, Gordon||Paling, Wilfrid||Townend, A. E.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Palmer, E. T.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Law, A. (Rossendale)||Perry, S. F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Walker, J.|
|Lawson, John James||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Wallace, H. W.|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Pole, Major D. G.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Leach, W.||Potts, John S.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Price, M. P.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Pybus, Percy John||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Lees, J.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Raynes, W. R.||West, F. R.|
|Logan, David Gilbert||Richards, R.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||White, H. G.|
|Longden, F.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lunn, William||Ritson, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Williams, T. (York. Don Valley)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Romeril, H. G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|McElwee, A.||Rowson, Guy||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|McKinlay, A.||Sanders, W. S.||Wise, E. F.|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Sandham, E.||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)||Sawyer, G. F.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Scrymgeour, E.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Scurr, John|
|McShane, John James||Sexton, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Balniel, Lord||Boyce, H. L.|
|Albery, Irving James||Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Bracken, B.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Beaumont, M. W.||Braithwaite, Major A. N.|
|Allen, Lt.-Cot. Sir William (Armagh)||Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Brass, Captain Sir William|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Berry, Sir George||Briscoe, Richard George|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l d'., Hexham)|
|Ashley, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Buchan, John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Bird, Ernest Roy||Bullock, Captain Malcolm|
|Atkinson, C.||Bildell, James||Burton, Colonel H. W.|
|Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W.||Boothby, R. J. G.||Butler, R. A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Butt, Sir Alfred|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth. S.)||Hammersley, S. S.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hanbury, C.||Remer, John R.|
|Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm.,W.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Christle, J. A.||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd,Henley)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Kennell|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Hoare, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hunter-Weston, Lt-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hurd, Percy A.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Savery, S. S.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Iveagh, Countess of||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Simms, Major-General J.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kindersley, Major G. M,||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Skelton, A. N.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lamb, Sir J. O.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset,Yeovil)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Locker-Lampoon, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Long, Major Hon. Eric||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Lymington, Viscount||Stewart, W. J. (Belfast South)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Macquisten, F. A.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Mason, Colonel Glyn K,||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Meller, R. J.||Train, J.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Fielden, E. B.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mond, Hon. Henry||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Forestier-Walker., Sir L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Grace, John||O'Connor, T. J.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||O'Neill, Sir H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Peake, Capt. Osbert||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Greene, W. P. Crawford||Penny, Sir George|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
|Sir Frederick Thomson.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Sir C. Trevelyan.]
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.