§ Order for Consideration, as amended (in the Standing Committee), read.
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. DINGLE FOOT
I beg to move, "That the Bill be recommitted to the former Committee."
When the Bill was before the Scottish Standing Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) and I put down three Amendments to Clause 2, which, as I think everyone agrees, is the most important Clause in the Bill. Briefly, the objects of those Amendments were to determine, first, whether the exemptions Clause should be a mandatory or a permissive Clause; secondly, whether exemptions should be granted at the age of 14 or at the age of 14½; and, thirdly, whether the education authorities should be entitled to consider whether continued education at school would not be more beneficial to the child than going into the work offered. The Chairman of the Scottish Standing Committee, the hon. and gallant Member for Bute and Northern Ayrshire (Sir C. MacAndrew), in the exercise of his discretion, refused to select these three Amendments. We have put them on the Paper to-day, but as this is the Report stage, and as the Amendments would, I think, impose a charge upon the rates, they will not, of course, be in order at this stage; and I understand that in any case it is not intended that they should be called. That would not matter if they had been discussed upstairs.
To my mind these are three very vital points, particularly the Amendment to raise the age from 14 to 14½, an Amendment which was discussed at very great length, I think over two sittings, on the English Education Bill, but which we have not been able to discuss at all upon the Scottish Education Bill. The position is this: Owing to the way in which the discretion of the Chairman was exercised in the Committee and owing to the rules of order which apply to Debates on Report stage, we are not to have, as things now stand, any opportunity at all of discussing or amending some of the most important features in this Bill. I 638 want to make it clear that I am not making any personal attack on the hon. and gallant Gentleman who was Chairman of the Standing Committee, but I feel that we have cause for complaint if we are prevented from properly debating this Bill and the various important features in it. In these circumstances I feel that we have a grievance. We have not been able to discuss the Amendments which we regard as more important than any others. Therefore, I move this Motion.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. T. M. Cooper)
I rise to resist the Motion moved by the Junior Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot), a Motion of which we have had only a moment's notice. I am not in a position to verify, from the proceedings it the Standing Committee, precisely what happened at the various stages, but speaking from recollection, and I think accurate recollection, of the way in which the matters to which the hon. Member has referred were dealt with, the position is—I am within the recollection of many hon. Members who were Members of the Standing Committee—that the right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) and the hon. Member for Dundee put on the Paper a considerable number of Amendments, most of which I find on the Order Paper for to-day. One of the earliest and most important of the Amendments was called in the Standing Committee and neither of them was present to move it.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
In the short time at my disposal I have not been able to verify whether or not the Amendment in question is on the Order Paper to-day, but this I can say, and again I am within the recollection of hon. Members, that the particular Amendment which was called and which was not moved was an Amendment of such importance that when at a later stage of the proceedings a question was raised by one of the Members as to why a further Amendment had not been selected by the Chair, the Chairman of the Committee indicated that that later Amendment was so intimately associated with or consequential 639 upon the original Amendment that had not been moved, that he did not propose to call it.
§ Mr. FOOT
May I intervene? The Lord Advocate's recollection is entirely inaccurate. The two Amendments had nothing whatever to do with each other. Perhaps he will quote to the House what was said upstairs. With regard to the Amendments to Clause 2, to which I have referred, let me add that I was present in the Standing Committee throughout the Debates on Clause 2, and if any one of the Amendments to which I have referred had been called, I was there to move it.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir CHARLES MacANDREW
I have been referred to as the Chairman of the Standing Committee. I had no warning till this very moment, after the Division, that this point was to be raised now. If I had known it was to be raised I would have felt it my duty to look up what happened in the Committee. As far as the statement of the Lord Advocate is concerned, I very well remember that one of the Amendments in the name of the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) which I selected, I did call, and no one was present to move it.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I regret that I have not had an opportunity of referring to the particular passages of the Committee proceedings. I have had no opportunity in the few moments at my disposal to look up the matter. But there is another aspect of the question.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Will the Lord Advocate allow me to say that if he looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT of the fourth day's proceedings of the Standing Committee, column 120, he will see that I intervened in order to get discussed the first Amendment that is on the Order Paper to-day.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must remind the House that under the Standing Orders, on a Motion to recommit a Bill, only one speech is allowed, given reasons for recommittal, and a reply.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
Then it is all the more important that the Lord Advocate 640 in presenting his case to the House should not confine himself to the particular Amendments which are on the Paper for the Report stage, and should not try to create prejudice by bringing into the discussion other Amendments which are not on the Paper to-day.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
On a point of Order. Would I be in order in moving the Adjournment of the Debate in order that this matter might be cleared up? It is of the utmost importance in our proceedings. A statement has been made by the Lord Advocate, but he cannot quote anything in support of it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is quite clear from Standing Order No. 40 that when a Motion is moved to recommit a Bill the Speaker shall permit a brief explanatory statement of the reasons for such recommittal, and a reply, and without further debate shall put the Question thereon.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
May I press my point and ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that the Lord Advocate's reply should be confined to those Amendments which are on the Order Paper to-day and to what occurred when those Amendments were called in Committee?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The other aspect of the matter to which I wish to refer, in answer to the Motion, is simply this: The Amendments which are on the Order Paper to-day in very large measure, though not in every ease, cover the same ground as the Amendments which were discussed in Committee on the motion of hon. Members opposite, and indeed hon. Members in all parts of the House. With reference to the intervention of the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) I do observe that in the course of the proceedings on the sixth day, in column 215, the right hon. Gentleman intervened to point out that he had put down an Amendment slightly different in form but having the same object as one which had been moved by another hon. Member, and he thanked the hon. Member for his action.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
On that double ground, first, that the right hon. Member for Caithness and the hon. Member for Dundee have themselves to thank to some extent for the fact that at least one of their Amendments was not called, and in the second place that in very large measure—I cannot say more—the ground which they now seek to traverse
§ in this House has been covered by the discussions in Committee, I humbly submit that it would not be appropriate to recommit the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be recommitted to the former Committee."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 113; Noes, 185.643
|Division No. 267.]||AYES.||[4.10 p.m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Hard[...]e, G. D.||Potts, J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'Isbr.)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Holdsworth, H.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Holland, A.||Riley, B.|
|Barr, J.||John, W.||Ritson, J.|
|Batey, J.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Benson, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brooke, W.||Jones, J. J. (Silvertown)||Shinwell, E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Kelly, W. T.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Burke, W. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cassells, T.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees. (K'ly)|
|Chater, D.||Lathan, G.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, J. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Daggar, G.||Leach, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Dalton, H.||Leonard, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Leslie, J. R.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Logan, D. G.||Thorne, W.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lunn, W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Day, H.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Tinker, J. J.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Walker, J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||MacLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Foot, D. M.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Maclean, N.||Westwood, J.|
|Gallacher, W.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||White, H. Graham|
|Gardner, B. W.||Mander, G. le M.||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Marklew, E.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Marshall, F.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mathers, G.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gibbins, J.||Maxwell, S. A.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Messer, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Groves, T. E.||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Parker, J.||Sir Hugh Seely and Sir Percy|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Parkinson, J. A.||Harris,|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Channon, H.||Emery, J. F.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Emmett, C. E. G. C.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Chorlton, A. E. L.||Entwistle, C. F.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Errington, E.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Colfox, Major W. P.||Erskine Hill, A. G.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Flldes, Sir H.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Colman, N. C. D.||Findlay, Sir E.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Fraser, Capt. Sir I.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Gibson, C. G.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Gledhill, G.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Crooke, J. S.||Goodman, Col. A. W.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Gower, Sir R. V.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Cross, R. H.||Granville, E. L.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Crossley, A. C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cruddas, Col. B.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||De Chair, S. S.||Gridley, Sir A. B.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.|
|Bull, B. B.||Drewe, C.||Guy, J. C. M.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hamilton, Sir G. C.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Dugdale, Major T. L.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Dunglass, Lord||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Scott, Lord William|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Simon, Rt. Hon Sir J. A.|
|Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'If'st).|
|Hepworth, J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Morgan, R. H.||Spender-Clay, Lt.-Cl. Rt. Hn. H. H.|
|Hunter, T.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Jackson, Sir H.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|Keeling, E. H.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Munro, P.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Kimball, L.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Kirkpatrick, W. M.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Leckie, J. A.||Peake, O.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Penny, Sir G.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Leigh, Sir. J.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Levy, T.||Plugge, L. F.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Liddall, W. S.||Porritt, R. W.||Touche, G. C.|
|Lindsay, K. M.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Llewellin, Lieut,-Col. J. J.||Ramsbotham, H.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir. A. L. (Hull)|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Ramsden, Sir E.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Lyons, A. M.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|McKie, J. H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)||Major Sir George Davies and Mr.|
|Magnay, T.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)||James Stuart.|
§ Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
NEW CLAUSE.—(Transfer of teachers.)
Section twenty-one of the Act of 1908 and Section twenty-four of the Act of 1918 shall apply in like manner as they apply to the dismissal of a teacher, to any transfer of a teacher which would result in a reduction in his status or emoluments unless such transfer be effected by agreement with the teacher concerned.—[Mr. Watson.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 4.19 p.m.
§ Mr. WATSON
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause raises a very simple but a very important point. A teacher has a right of appeal to the Education Department in the event of dismissal but, if he is transferred from one school to another, or from one class to another, he or she has no right of appeal. Sometimes a teacher who is transferred suffers greater humiliation than one who is dismissed. We had not very long ago a very deplorable case in which a teacher was transferred from one school under the education authority to another, with a lower status and a lower salary. It created a considerable amount of interest generally and very strong feeling in the neighbourhood. The agitation went on for months and ultimately it found its way to the 644 Court of Session. Since then education authorities have taken steps to safeguard themselves against a repetition of such a case. We believe that by such a provision as this we shall obviate any such case arising in future.
I may be told that there are administrative difficulties, that, education authorities do not wish to give teachers a power of appeal against transference, and that it is impracticable to put such a Clause into operation. My view is that, if we had such a provision as this, greater care would be exercised by directors of education and education authorities in the appointment of teachers. If there were no square pegs going into round holes there would be little need for transfers, and in that case there need be no administrative difficulty. There is a possibility sometimes that teachers may be transferred for reasons which are not very creditable, and it would certainly give a teacher who was placed in that position a feeling that he was getting a fair chance. An education authority may be able to satisfy itself that it has good reason for transferring a teacher from one school or one class to another, but I do not see any difficulty in giving teachers an appeal to the Department if they feel aggrieved at being transferred.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I beg to second the Motion.
I think it is in harmony with the tendency displayed by legislation in previous years. Protection was first given to teachers with regard to dismissal in the Act of 1908, but that protection was not deemed to be sufficient and it was extended by the Act of 1918, which laid it down that not only was a resolution for dismissal necessary, but that three weeks' notice in writing must be given to the teacher before the meeting took place. Other aspects of a protective character were included in the 1918 Act. I must admit that I am not expressing views in conformity with the locality that I represent, because the Glasgow Education Authority advised me and others that they were not in consonance with the Clause, but I have a right to speak as one who was at one time a member of that committee and, while in that position, I could see the possibility of cases arising which would make such protection desirable. The Glasgow authority has been able to work harmoniously with its staff, and this proposal will not create any tendency among teachers to make trouble, such as perhaps was contemplated when the letter from the education authority was received. Men and women who have given years of study and attained a certain form of distinction have obtained a status for themselves and, in view of the harm that may be done by a reduction in that status, justice demands that there should be a right of appeal.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
On this matter I can speak with a certain degree of authority. I am probably the only ex-member of the teaching profession in the House who has had the distinction of being compulsorily transferred as a punishment, and also of being dismissed. Therefore I can speak with knowledge and understanding. I was dismissed and degraded by the Glasgow Education Authority some 20 odd years ago for committing what was in their eyes a very serious offence. I attended a conference of the Labour party. Looking back on it, I can see that the education committee had greater wisdom than I had, and I bear them no ill-feeling. But, joking apart, I think it is a shocking thing that an education 646 authority can transfer and degrade a teacher in a penal way. I do not know any teacher who would object to transference from school to school in the ordinary way of the proper functioning of the educational machinery in the district, but where it is done as a definite penalty the teacher should have some right of appeal.
In the case which I raised here some time ago, of a private soldier who was in difficulties, I found that the private soldier who regards himself as having been unfairly treated has rights of appeal right up to the Army Council, and yet a teacher can be transferred and degraded with a serious blot put upon his professional eputation and there is no appeal whatever from the decision of his local education committee. The House will remember the case of a headmaster of a secondary school in the county of Dumbartonshire—the case is 12 months old and has not yet been settled—who was transferred and degraded from being the head of his school, a position which he had held with very great distinction and success for a. long term of years. He had the enthusiastic support and respect of the parents of the children attending his school, the affection and regard of his pupils in an astounding fashion, was a man of the highest academic distinction (two universities), and had a great War record, with distinctions earned upon the field of battle as well. [An HON. MEMBER: "And all the teachers supported him."] Not merely the teachers who were his own immediate assistants and had worked under him, but he had the support of the whole of the teaching profession in Scotland. This man, over some petty dispute, if I may say so without being unkind, with a not too competent official, not over school efficiency, but over routine methods, was degraded and made a junior assistant teacher.
When the matter was raised in this House by the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), by me, and, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Stirling (Mr. T. Johnston), the Secretary of State for Scotland was in the humiliating position of having to stand at that Box and say that he was completely powerless even to investigate the circumstances. Although this House is responsible for at least 50 per cent. 647 of the whole of the educational expenditure in Dumbartonshire, although we keep a staff of inspectors to go round that county to see that education is maintained at a proper level, the Secretary of State for Scotland got up repeatedly at that Box and said that he had no right to interfere, that he had no status in the matter, no opportunity to do any thing, and he maintained that position. The aggrieved teacher finally had to go into the courts of law, and he obtained a decision that it was an illegal act to treat him in this way. It was definitely illegal, and you have had the anomalous position ever since, that this man has continued as an assistant teacher at work which would be remunerated, perhaps, at the rate of £300 per annum, and because of the legal decision, the Dumbartonshire authority and the ratepayers of Dumbartonshire and the Treasury generally, have been compelled by that legal decision to pay him the salary of the position from which he was illegally transferred. [An HON. MKMBER.: "Two headmasters in one school."] I think it is a salary of some £600 or £700 per annum.
That is a very shocking anomaly. I am certain that if, in the beginning of the dispute, it had been possible for that teacher to have referred the matter at once to the Scottish Education Department and the responsible official from that Department had gone down there, the whole thing could have been settled in 24 hours in a decent and intelligent way without ill-feeling being left behind and great harm being done to education in the locality, and without permanent blots being left upon the characters of the people concerned. This Amendment, I take it, has that case in mind. There are other cases of a similar sort. There was a case some years ago in the Cathcart area, where some lady assistant teachers were punished by transference and had no appeal. That case was taken into the law courts and the aggrieved teachers obtained a decision in their favour. All that we are asking in this Amendment is, that the administrative operations shall be brought into conformity with the legal practice. I cannot think of any possible arguments against the acceptance of the Amendment, except the rather trivial one which has been put up by the Glasgow Authority 648 and the Glasgow Town Council, namely, that, without the right to transfer, the work of a big authority would become very difficult if every teacher who was asked to go from here to there said, "No, I am not going." Everybody knows that in the ordinary course of the operations of the educational service teachers are very ready to accept transfers, provided that they are not being put into work that is completely uncongenial or unsuited to them. And, surely, even in a State organised enterprise, it is possible to allow the individual a certain margin of individual liberty. The anti-Socialists are always saying that our Socialist ideas would destroy liberty, and they seem to take every possible step to secure that that shall be so. I do not believe it. A publicly organised service should allow a greater liberty to the individual that any privately owned enterprise ever does.
Normally, the teacher who is asked to move from here to there goes gladly. If reasons and motives are required to support that movement, they know that a teacher who is perpetually putting himself in opposition to the wishes of the authority is not likely to go very far in promotion in his profession. Therefore, I hope that the Secretary of State will accept the Amendment and give to himself powers which would remove from him the appearance of complete ineptitude that he presented when he got up to answer questions in this House. It is a humiliating thing, even for Members of the Opposition to see their Ministers just standing at that Box looking like fools. They know that in certain cases it cannot be avoided, but there are certain things that we can do to remove that painful experience, and the acceptance of the Amendment I regard as one of them.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. MORRISON
I remember that during the progress of the case referred to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) there was very strong feeling, not only locally, but among the whole teaching profession in Scotland, that something in the nature of an appeal to the Department should be made. That appeal was made, and the Department, as the hon. Member says, had to say that it had no power to interfere unless the authority proceeded to dismissal. Incidentally, the Department, wrongly in my opinion, was 649 blamed for "putting ill" into the heads of the Committee, but the position surely requires some remedy. I should like to draw attention to one of the consequences of that case. One education Committee in Scotland since that date, I understand, has put into its conditions of appointment this Clause:The Education Committee reserves the right to transfer at any time any teachers in their service to schools under their jurisdiction other than those to which they are appointed in the terms of the formal letter of appointment accompanying these conditions.In the letter of appointment there is this further condition:That transfer in accordance with the terms of No. 5 of the enclosed conditions"—the one I have just read—may lead to the appointment to a lower status and salary.I will read the opinion upon that of a very eminent Scottish lawyer, who is so eminent that I am very sorry I cannot mention his name. He says:It is nut properly within my province, but perhaps I may be allowed to add that I think it is for consideration by the memoralists"—the Educational Institute of Scotland—whether they should not endeavour to have the matter of transfer placed under legislative conditions similar to those which affect the matter of dismissal. Unless this is done, if I am right in my view of the law as it stands, it may be that teachers will, in a practical sense, have no option but to refuse acceptance of what is a one-sided bargain.I hope that the House will agree that the teachers of Scotland had good reason to take action in this matter.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The case for this Clause has been presented with great moderation and force, but I think that I can satisfy the House in a very few moments that a closer consideration of the practical aspects of the Clause makes it really quite impossible to accept the proposal which it contains. The purpose of the Clause is to subject all transfers which involve a reduction in status or emoluments to the statutory transfer of the Acts of 1908 and 1918 which relate to dismissal.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
With one qualification, which the Lord Advocate has omitted—the qualification in the last sentence.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I think I mentioned it. Any transfer which involved a reduction in status or emoluments. The right hon. Member is referring to the words "not effected by agreements." I should like to recall to the memory of the House the conditions and restrictions which it is sought by this Clause to apply to such transfers. In the first place, three weeks' written notice of the proposed transfer would have to be given to the teacher to be transferred and to every member of the education authority concerned. A full meeting of the education authority would be required, such meeting to be attended by not less than one-half of the members of the education authority, and the resolution would require to be carried by a two-thirds majority. Then comes the second stage. After all that had been done, it would be open to the transferred teacher, after an interval of anything up to six weeks, to present a petition to the Department by way of appeal. If the Department were so disposed they could ask the authority to reconsider their decision—they could not compel them to alter it—and if the authority declined to alter it, then the teacher is to receive such sums up to one year's salary as the Department might determine.
Those are the conditions. What are the cases to which they refer? There are approximately 28,000 teachers in Scotland. The transfer of any one of these teachers may take place in a great variety of circumstances. You may have a transfer from one school to another school rendered necessary by the needs of the population. You may have a transfer from one department of a school to another department of the same school, rendered necessary by the same cause. You may have a case such as that referred to by the hon. Member for Dumfermline (Mr. Watson) of a round peg in a square hole. You do not discover that a round peg does not fit a square hole until you try to put the round peg into the square hole. Therefore, the advice which the hon. Member gave to the education authorities to be more careful in their appointments was a counsel of perfection, because it is only by experience that they can determine whether a, particular person is fit by temperament, qualification, experience or skill for a particular type of work.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Even Ministers, I imagine, have to be tried out, and sometimes they are found wanting. Another type of case is where a teacher is promoted on trial to a position involving a prospect of improved status and emoluments, and is found not to be suited for the high responsibility and has to go back to his former position. The passing of this Clause would involve this position, that we should have to start all this cumbersome and elaborate machinery of three months notice, a full meeting of the authority, a two-thirds majority, then delay up to six weeks, an appeal to the Department, and afterwards compensation—which, however appropriate it might be to a dismissal, seems to be singularly inappropriate to a transfer—by a money payment up to one year's salary. I cannot but feel that to impose upon the education authorities in Scotland restrictions and shackles of that kind would be definitely inimical to the proper administration of public education and would subject those authorities to interference with their discretion and their powers to which it is not fair to subject them. One could not help noting that in the speeches of hon. Members who have supported the Clause emphasis has been laid on the Lenzie case. It is true that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) instanced one other case, but broadly speaking, the Lenzie case is the one example in recent years.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The right hon. Gentleman bears me out there. It is a fair comment that there has been only this one outstanding case, and the fact that that outstanding case has attracted so much publicity and attention is in itself a high tribute to the discretion and humanity with which the education authorities of Scotland have exercised their powers.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I should be the last to withhold a tribute to the teaching profession of Scotland. When the new Clause first appeared on the Order Paper in Committee upstairs it attracted a considerable amount of 652 attention in Scotland, and it is right that the House should know that representations against the unworkability of the proposal have been received by the Government not only from the Corporation of Glasgow, but also from the Association of County Councils of Scotland and, in addition to the general representation of the counties, there have been special representations from the counties of Aberdeen, Angus and Kirkcudbright, which represent a substantial measure of opposition to the suggestion embodied in the Clause.
Reference was made by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison) to the fact that one local authority was now embodying in its contract for teachers terms which involve that the teacher is bound to accept a transfer. As far as I am aware that is perfectly correct, but I would point out that the purpose of so drawing the contract is to obviate, in the case of that local authority, the situation which arose in the Lenzie case. I will not pursue that case now because this is not the time or place, but the hon. Member for Bridgeton said that the court in that case held that the action of the county council was illegal. All that the court held was that in that particular case their action was a breach of contract, which is rather a different thing.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Yes, but not in the sense that it is prohibited by the general law of the land, but merely that it is a violation of a particular agreement between a particular county council and an individual teacher. That is the distinction. While I fully appreciate the desire of hon. Members to confer upon the teaching profession in Scotland a high measure of security of tenure, I would urge upon them the consideration that they are pressing their demands in this matter beyond a point at which administrative efficiency can be attained. For that reason and because we feel that the acceptance of this Clause would be strongly detrimental to the efficient administration of education in Scotland, I am bound to resist the Amendment and to ask the House to reject it.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
We are fortunate in some respects in this discussion. We have had observations from hon. Members who have spent a lifetime in the administration of education in Scotland. We have had an appeal by. the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who has had experience as a teacher, and we have had a speech from the Lord Advocate, who, if I recollect aright, acted in the Lenzie case professionally on behalf of the county council. I speak as one who was not only educated at the Lenzie Academy but who lives in the parish and started the agitation which resulted in the Court of Session action. Certain things have not been said about that case. The Lord Advocate says that there has been only one case in recent years. What is the position? Here is this poor, victimised teacher, who was publicly humiliated and degraded 18 months ago and who has to go 30 miles to act as an assistant teacher. It is nine months, if I recollect aright, since Lord Pitman gave his decision. As a ratepayer in the county I am still paying my share of the salaries of two headmasters in one school because the Court of Session insisted that the action of the Dumbartonshire Education Authority was incompetent and illegal.
The Lord Advocate says that there has been only one case in recent years. There was no reason for him to tell us that there are 20,000 teachers, scaring hon. Members as if there were going to be 20,000 appeals to the 'Department. Suppose there was another case next week or next year, the Government would again be in the humiliating position that they are in to-night of not being able to put the screw upon an education authority which was so misconducting itself. What are the facts about the Lenzie case? This is an illustration of what may go on, elsewhere. Here is a headmaster against whose character there is not one word and against whose ability there is not one word. The inspectors have for years spoken in high commendation of his work at the school, yet suddenly he is told that he has to work in future as an assistant teacher 30 or 40 miles away, and no reason is given. There were all sorts of rumours about the reason. It was rumoured that there must be something serious and terrible. I learned from a local representative that not one of them knew of any reason why 654 this thing should ever have been done. The Vice Convener of the county, at my request, asked for an explanation but was refused. Public meetings of all kinds were held, letters appeared in the Press, and, finally, the case went to the Court of Session, with the result that the court said to the county council: "You have acted incompetently and illegally and you must pay this man his headmaster's salary if you are not prepared to dismiss him."
Here is the kernel of the whole business. Why did they not dismiss him? We know. They were well aware of their rights and duties under the Statute. It was said at the meeting: "Do not dismiss this man. If you dismiss him he has a right of appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland. Simply degrade him, and he has no right of appeal." Here we are this afternoon asking that if any man is degraded in his emoluments or his status, without his consent—I admit that there are cases where the population may move or where a man may on grounds of health agree to take a lesser salary—he should have the right of appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland and be able to state his case. That is the perfectly simply point.
The Lord Advocate says that the Government are unable to accept the new Clause because of administrative difficulties. He has been told by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. G. A. Morrison) that there is already one precious education authority who are asking the teachers to sign away their rights in advance as a condition of getting employment. The Lord Advocate shakes his head. I hope he is not going to deny that statement. I have the documents here, with names and addresses.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
They are being asked to sign a document that if they are transferred to a lower status or lower salary the education authority has the right to do so without appeal. The West Lothian Education Committee, as one of the conditions of the appointment of teachers—reserve the right to transfer at any time any teachers in their service to schools under their jurisdiction other than those to which they are appointed under the terms of the formal letter of appointment accompanying these conditions.655 That education committee reserve to themselves the right to degrade teachers, and the teachers have to accept this condition as a condition precedent to getting employment. So far as the administrative difficulties are concerned, we have been told that one case has occurred in recent years. The Lord Advocate asked why a man who is going to be transferred should get three weeks notice of his transfer. Surely, a man is entitled to three weeks notice if he is going to be degraded in his status and in his income. Surely, he should have time to gather together his goods and chattels, give up his home and transfer himself to another district. Is it unreasonable to ask that he should get three weeks notice? Surely not. An education authority which objects to giving a man three weeks notice of its intention to degrade him in his emoluments and status is sinning against the light, and I hope that the Secretary of State will indicate his sympathy with the purpose of the new Clause and if any slight alteration in wording is required we shall give him no trouble in the matter. I suggest that the time has come when the Secretary of State should indicate to the Dumbartonshire Education Authority his disapproval of their conduct, and the way in which he can do that is to accept what is pretty nearly the unanimous wish of every Scottish Member. I hope he will examine sympathetically between now and Report this proposal, and if he can accept it in principle he will receive the cordial approbation of nine-tenths of the people of Scotland.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. FOOT
I want to support the appeal which has been made by the right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. T. Johnston). The Lord Advocate in his reply did give a formidable list of administrative difficulties, and I entirely agree with him on that aspect of the matter, that it would be very difficult to apply the procedure which now obtains in the case of dismissal to the case of transfer. But in spite of that the answer of the Lord Advocate did not meet the point raised by hon. Members in this new Clause. They are not dealing with administrative difficulties. There is a very real grievance on the part of a teacher who is 656 transferred and degraded to an inferior position without any right of appeal. If that can happen it is clear that you are allowing a loophole to remain in the present system of appeals. A teacher can appeal if he is dismissed, but if the education authority does not want to face an appeal they can transfer a teacher, place him in an inferior position, so that no teacher with any self-respect would stay in the service. In that way it is possible for them to evade an appeal. It seems to me that you are also taking away a certain amount of the value of an appeal in the case of dismissal.
If we were deciding whether the new Clause is practicable or not from an administrative point of view I should support the Government in the division, but the right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan has made it clear that those who are supporting the proposal are not wedded to an exactly similar procedure but that they are asking that there should be a right of appeal in the case of transfers which are not transfers by agreement. The Lord Advocate did not meet that point. He could have said that if the new Clause was withdrawn the Government would look into the matter, but we have been given no undertaking of that kind. When you have a real grievance, of which an actual example has been given, it does not meet the grievance for the Minister to point out that the form of words of the Amendment is impracticable from an administrative point of view. As the Lord Advocate has not shown any sign of giving way on the principle of the new Clause I shall support it if it goes to a Division.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I desire also to make an appeal for an acceptance of the spirit of the new Clause if not for the actual words. It will give a right of appeal to a teacher who is transferred and suffers a reduction in status or emoluments. It does not touch the case of an ordinary transfer; it refers only to those cases in which there is a reduction in status or emoluments as a result of transfer. The Lord Advocate said that the objection to the proposal was that it would be strongly detrimental to the practical administration of education in Scotland, and he has told us that he has received communications from the County 657 Councils Association. What do they know about educational administration in Scotland?
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
He also mentioned the Glasgow City Corporation, which has had only six years' experience in the administration of education.. The County Councils Association had no control over educational administration until after the 1929 Act. I claim that I know some-think about educational administration in Scotland, and during the 25 years with which I had been connected with it I know of only one case in the County of Fife where there was any difficulty of this kind. There would be no difficulty in connection with the ordinary transfer of teachers in ordinary circumstances. No difficulty would arise under the new Clause. I admit that the changing numbers in our school population, the difference in the size of schools, means the transfer of teachers, but the new Clause will not interfere with such transfers in any way. The ordinary teacher in Scotland is safeguarded under the national minimum scale of salaries, and there would be no reduction in status or remuneration in such cases. But if the remuneration of a teacher is to be affected, if his status is to be affected by a transfer, he should have a right of appeal. If the Lord Advocate cannot accept the new Clause in its present form I appeal to him to accept it in principle. It would be quite easy to get the proper words inserted in another place and obviate injustices like that of the Lenzie case.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I want to ask the Lord Advocate to reconsider the matter. He said that he would be able to show very substantial reasons why the new Clause should be accepted, and those substantial reasons, he said, were difficulties in regard to administration. At the same time he failed to give us any idea of those difficulties. I should have liked him to have told us how many cases occurred last year and whether there were any transfer of teachers with loss of status and emoluments. Probably the only case that has occurred recently is the Lenzie case. I cannot see how this new Clause would create administrative difficulties if 658 it were accepted. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) that there is anything unsatisfactory in the wording of the new Clause, and the Lord Advocate did not mention anything that was unsatisfactory in it. It is true that one hon. Member did suggest that if the words dealing with status were removed, so that the Clause would simply say that no transfer would be possible which involved a loss of emoluments, that would overcome the difficulty of a teacher who might be transferred to a school because of a change of population and in whose case it might be argued that there was a loss of status. I think in such a case the status would be covered by the question of the emoluments.
But what I am arguing is that no administrative difficulties would follow from the acceptance of this proposed Clause. What could be the administrative difficulties? If a teacher is transferred with a loss of status or emoluments, he may make an appeal to the Department, but unless he has a good case the appeal will be rejected, he will lose everything and will not gain the year's salary in lieu of notice. Unless the teacher has a sound grievance, he has no hope of winning an appeal. Hon. Members have possibly had experience of going to Departments in regard to pensions or public assistance cases, and they will know the sort of sympathy one gets from the Departments. Unless one has an extraordinarily strong case, one gets nothing from the Department. The Minister will not override anything unless there is a substantial grievance. Therefore, in this case there cannot be any administrative difficulties because the teacher will be able to go to the Department only if he has a strong case. There is a strong case with regard to Lenzie, and the Lord Advocate did not meet that case. He did not deal with the difficulties that have resulted from the extraordinary decisions taken by the Dumbartonshire Education Committee. The only thing that would happen if this proposed Clause were carried would be that a Lenzie case would become practically impossible in the future. I challenge the Lord Advocate or the Secretary of State to deny that there is only a handful of cases in which there have been transfers involving loss of status or emoluments and that in the overwhelming majority of those cases the teacher had 659 not a right of appeal because the fault was very largely his own.
Nobody could say that of the Lenzie case. I remember my own reactions when I read the Press reports about it. Frankly I could not believe that the education committee had not a case, because the whole thing seemed so extraordinary, and I thought the teacher must have been acting in a way that was very detrimental to the interests of the pupils. Afterwards I was amazed when I found out how the case had proceeded, and that the education committee simply had nothing against the teacher, the trouble being between him and the official. Anyone who has studied the case will realise that it is the official who was wrong. The official's past experience did not show very great confidence and he evidently had a swelled head and thought that he would show confidence in the future by dealing with the teacher in that way. One or two members of the committee came under the influence of that official and did what he suggested. I submit that the Lord Advocate has not given any substantial reason for not accepting this proposed Clause. It is not sufficient to say that there would he difficulties of administration unless he can show that there would be many cases in which big burdens would be placed on the education authorities. That has not happened with regard to dismissals, although the same thing might have been said concerning the law on the dismissal of teachers. Everything that the Lord Advocate said with regard to transfers could have been said with regard to dismissals. I suggest that the Lord Advocate ought to meet the House on this matter. I do not believe there is one hon. Member who would not welcome it if the Lord Advocate indicated that he proposed to meet us on this new Clause and make a Lenzie case, or any of the other cases that have occurred, impossible in the future.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Mr. GUY
I have a great deal of sympathy with the purpose of this proposed Clause. I do not pretend to be in any way an educationist, and I have no association with Lenzie, but I think that the Lenzie case undoubtedly indicates the need for some kind of remedy in the event of wrong transfers taking place. When the question was raised in the Standing 660 Committee upstairs, a Division took place. At that time we had not heard the Lord Advocate's reply regarding the new Clause, and I refrained from voting one way or the other because I wished, I think rightly, to obtain more information. We have heard the reply of the Lord Advocate to-day, and in the interval which has elapsed since the Committee stage I have made inquiries as to how this proposal would work. With some reluctance I have come to the conclusion that this is not the best possible remedy.
I am a very strong believer in what I believe to be a fundamental principle, that for every wrong there should be an appropriate legal remedy. In this connection there is the choice of an appeal to the courts or to the Government Department. That is a question which has frequently been debated, sometimes with some heat, in this House. It has been argued time and again that it is far better to go to an impartial court than to a Government Department, which may have some administrative bias or interest, One thing which the Lenzie case showed was that an appeal was available to the courts and that the headmaster concerned was able to get. some remedy. He still retains the salary he had before the action of the Dumbartonshire County Council, although he has not been restored, as I hope he will be, to the position of headmaster. Can it be said with any degree of certainty that if he had had an appeal to the Department that appeal would have been successful?
§ Mr. FOOT
Surely if this additional appeal to the Department were provided it would in no way deprive any teacher of his right to appeal to the courts. He would have the alternative of a simpler and cheaper procedure of which he could avail himself if he wished, but he would still have the right to go to the courts.
§ Mr. GUY
I admit that there are certain advantages in having an appeal to the Department in some cases, but my objection to the particular remedy which has been proposed is that it would create administrative difficulties. I think it is one which would not work satisfactorily, and I understood that was the gist of the reply made by the Lord Advocate. As I understood him, he is not against some remedy, but he says that this particular 661 remedy would not work satisfactorily.
§ Mr. GUY
I am coming to that. One point which has already been referred to by the Lord Advocate is the penalty or sanction proposed in the case of a wrong transfer. I imagine that what the teacher concerned would like would be a retransfer. If he has been transferred wrongly, he would like to be put back into his previous position. The new Clause would not provide him with that remedy. What would it give him? It would give him a year's salary, but it would leave him in the wrong position to which he had been transferred. That would save his pocket, but it would not save his face. That is one of my objections. The other objection is that the machinery proposed would involve very considerable delays, although I admit that is an objection which might apply to various remedies that might be proposed. This long procedure might unnecessarily interfere with transfers of teachers in the ordinary way. Those are the objections I have to this particular remedy, although I sympathise very largely with the underlying purpose that there should be some appropriate remedy thought out to deal with the case of a wrong transfer.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. BARR
I must say that I do not think the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy) was very happy in putting forward the alternative of court procedure as against the alternative of administration through the Scottish Education Department, because the case of Lenzie illustrates distinctly the law's delays, and even now the appeal to the courts has not led to a satisfactory settlement. I read in the newspapers the other day that this man, with whom we sympathise so much, this headmaster who has been so much wronged by the opinion of the teaching profession and by the opinion of the law courts, is still travelling a very rough passage. His name was put forward the other day, and again the feelings excited were so keen that there was a very close division, and, if I am correct, he did not receive even the somewhat subordinate appointment, that of 662 headmaster of an advanced division school, which I believe he would have been willing to accept and for which he had been recommended.
Therefore I think if what is proposed in the new Clause is not satisfactory, the appeal to the law courts which the hon. Member recommends would be far from satisfactory. He pointed out also an objection to the form of words and the method here proposed, and said it would leave the man in the inferior position, Although it would give him some monetary compensation. I venture to say, however, that it would be much more effective than that. It would prevent cases of this kind occurring. The very fact that such a penalty was possible would be effective in itself.
I have a special purpose in rising at this stage. Reference has been made to the city of Glasgow and to the possibility of injuring the educational administration of that great city. Although one does not like to refer to one's personal experience, it so happens that for 11 years I took a central part in the administration of education in Glasgow. For five years I was convenor of the Teachers and Teaching Committee, and had to deal with every case of appointment and of transfer. I should qualify my statement by making it plain that it was not during my administration that the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was dismissed from his position. Perhaps he might have received more mercy at my hands. I wish also to say that we did exercise a very firm control in matters of ordinary transfer. On a number of occasions applicants would express a desire to be appointed to a west-end school and we would say to those applicants, "If you are to be appointed you must, in the first instance, consider the appointment that we offer to you." We would make no social distinctions, and the committee often pointed out to applicants the value of experience in schools which were not in what is called the higher social grade. Without imposing any loss of status or emoluments we insisted from time to time on transfers, but that is a very different thing from asking teachers to sign away their rights and to undertake that in no case will they make any objection against transfer. I think that is objectionable.
663 What we are concerned with here is the degrading of a teacher—something which involved loss of status and emoluments. The Lord Advocate pointed out that there would be delay under our proposal in dealing with a case of that kind. He referred to the necessity for three weeks' notice, to the conditions as to half the members of the committee being present and a two-third majority and so forth. I believe it is right that, in the case of a serious transfer, action should be deliberate and not hastily taken. The school board in Glasgow had its own rules for the purpose of giving timeous notice in these cases and securing that there would be no rushing in such a matter but that transfer if decided upon would be deliberate. Then the Lord Advocate said that our proposal would be unworkable and pointed out that there were 28,000 teachers in Scotland. He suggested that it would not be possible to work our proposal, and also that it would be detrimental to educational efficiency. I wish to say in reply that the school board of Glasgow had, even in my time, 100 large schools, and a very large number of teachers to deal with, and we did not find anything unworkable in this connection, nor would such a Clause as that now proposed have made our system unworkable.
During the time that I was in charge of the administration I cannot recall more than two or three cases in which we made transfers of this kind, involving reduction of status or emoluments. Indeed, the Lord Advocate gave his case away when he said that it was difficult to find a case that had been taken to law. That is true, although there may have been injustices which have never been taken to law, but have been borne silently by those concerned. He further gave away his case when he paid tribute to the discretion and humanity with which our educational affairs were administered. As to finding round pegs in square holes, we did not seek to remedy such cases by the degradation of the teacher. We sought a round hole for the round peg and a square hole for the square peg. In speaking of administrative difficulties the Lord Advocate is really building stumbling blocks beforehand. So far from being detrimental to the efficient administration of education in Scotland, I believe that the proposal 664 now before the House would prevent injustices, and promote efficiency.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Sir HENRY FILDES
I wish to join in the appeal which has been made to the Secretary of State, to accept this new Clause or something similar to it. I do so for a different reason from that which has already been advanced. Like most Members for Scottish constituencies, I am in constant communication with the Scottish Office, and it has been amazing to me, during my comparatively limited experience as a Member for a Scottish division, to find the number of occasions on which the Secretary of State has to tell us that he has "no power to intervene" in certain matters. I realise that this House votes practically half the cost of education in Scotland, and it appears to me that the Secretary of State ought to welcome some chance to have at the disposal of his Department a remedy for cases of injustice without forcing an appeal to the law of the land.
The Opposition have intimated that they are prepared to leave the wording of an Amendment on these lines to the Secretary of State and have suggested that it could be introduced in another place From all points of view, it is desirable that the position of the Secretary of State should be strengthened. There are many cases in which the House of Commons is making great financial contributions and the only control which the House of Commons has in these matters is through the Secretary of State for Scotland who repeatedly tells us that he has "no power to intervene." Here is a case in which the Secretary of State could remedy these grievances as far as his own Department is concerned, and in my opinion if he took that step it would have the approbation of a large majority of Members of all parties in the House.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. CASSELLS
I feel constrained to intervene in this Debate in view of references which have been made to the well-known Lenzie case. I represent the county of Dumbarton and I assure hon. Members that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling and Clackmannan, Western (Mr. T. Johnston) was not going too far when he said that in the county of Dumbarton there was a feeling of public indignation with regard 665 to that case. I wish to address this question to the House. Is it admitted that, in many cases, you may have grievances on the part of teachers who are liable to be degraded? If so, is it possible for these aggrieved parties to exercise any right of relief either under an Act of Parliament or at common law through the courts? As a member of the legal profession I am rather astonished at the statement of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy). He said that this Clause was not the best possible remedy, and he and I are at one on that point; but he went on to say that every legal wrong should have a remedy.
§ Mr. CASSELLS
I stand corrected. The point which I wish to address to the hon. Member is this: Does he suggest that if this proposal is not accepted by the Government, a teacher faced with the prospect of being degraded has any legal remedy of any kind. That is the difficulty. In cases such as we have placed before the House, the aggrieved party has no remedy. I pass from that point to ask what is the substance of the Lord Advocate's argument against this new Clause? It is that practical difficulties will arise. I invite the attention of the House to Section 24 (1) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, to which the Lord Advocate has referred, dealing with the procedure laid down where a teacher has been dismissed. There we find this:No resolution of an education authority for the dismissal of a certificated teacher from their service shall be valid unless—Is it not rather significant that under that Statute it is made abundantly clear that a teacher is not entitled to be dismissed under Section 24 unless certain stipulated notice is given and, most important of all, that the majority against the teacher is not less than two-thirds? Does the Lord Advocate suggest that 666 there is the slightest difference between the Common Law right of a teacher who is dismissed and that of a teacher who is degraded? As the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) pointed out, this involves transfer and degrading in a penal way, and I do not think the Lord Advocate would question that there is justice behind the proposed Clause. Even although it is conceded that there are practical difficulties, it is the duty of the Government to see that the right of the individual citizen of this land is of paramount consideration and importance in this House of representatives. I trust the Secretary of State will reconsider this matter before it proceeds much farther.
- (a) written notice of the motion for his dismissal shall, not less than three weeks before the meeting at which the resolution is adopted, have been sent to the teacher and to each member of the education authority; and
- (b) not less than one half of the members of the education authority are present at the meeting; and
- (c) the resolution is agreed to by two-thirds of the members so present."
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Sir MURDOCH MACDONALD
While I quite appreciate that the Secretary of State for Scotland cannot accept this Clause, I feel that if the two items of status and emoluments could be separated, he might quite well see his way to making some suggestion as to how the question of emoluments should be met. I have heard the Lord Advocate say that there are 28,000 teachers in Scotland, but I do not suppose that in any one year in all there could possibly be 10 per cent. of those changed from one post to another. If there were even 10 per cent., which would be a large figure, it would mean 2,800. Of those, not more than 5 per cent. would be reductions in status or emoluments in which case the figures would come down from 2,800 to somewhere about 140. Out of a possible total of 140 cases, there would be bound to be a greater number where the teachers would realise that justice was being done by their education authorities and, as a consequence, would not think of appealing to the Scottish Office to help them. If that be so—and I think it seems a reasonable suggestion—the actual number of cases that would probably be tried in a year by the Scottish Office would be very small indeed—possibly at the outside 20 or 30 cases.
I have known the case of a teacher who, for quite reasonable causes, had to be shifted from the particular school in which he was teaching to a much smaller and more insignificant school, but the education authority in that case—and rightly, in my view—did not interfere with his emoluments. After all, when a teacher is placed in any particular class, 667 it is a very serious matter indeed to be reduced from that class, particularly when a man or a woman in the teaching profession is getting on well in years. It may happen that a teacher would get transferred to another position with lesser emoluments and status, and it does not seem quite reasonable, although it might well happen that the status should be left in the hands of the education authority, to alter the emoluments, one-half of which, after all, come from the Government. I earnestly hone the Secretary of State, if he cannot accept the present Clause, will take into careful consideration whether some suggestion could not be made to the education authorities which would prevent their reducing the emoluments of teachers, at any rate without an appeal being made through the regular channels to himself, so that he should exercise an opinion upon them without causing the necessity of an appeal to the law courts.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
I want to direct attention to one particular point, but before touching on it I would like to say that we cannot find a way out of this difficulty by the expedient suggested by the previous speaker, that when anyone is transferred to a smaller school or degraded his salary should continue as before. That would never work, because if you got to the stage where all those who were being reduced to smaller classes or schools were getting the same emoluments as those in the bigger schools and who were holding more responsible positions, the latter would immediately demand more salary, and so the degrading would express itself eventually in different emoluments. I do not object to any process of keeping up wages when degrading takes place, but that particular suggestion does not solve the problem. The other suggestion, that they should go to the law courts, is an impossible suggestion. I understand that the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy) is associated with the law, and if he were honest with himself and his friends, if he has any friends, he would advise them that the last thing they should contemplate doing is to go to the law courts.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
Oh, yes; that is the last desperate resort of anyone, and for any teacher who has been degraded or worker who has found himself in difficulties to go to the law courts and there defend his case is impossible. The motto for people who enter the law courts should be, "Abandon cash, all ye who enter here."
§ Mr. GALLACHER
No, but we would make them free. We would stop the robbery that goes on in the law courts.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
I object to the proposition that the solution of this matter can be found in the law courts. What I want to get at is that the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh said that if anyone was degraded wrongfully, he wanted to see him restored and put if possible into the position from which he had been transferred, but why should he go through that process of being degraded or transferred and then retransferred back again? If this Clause is not accepted, and if the Lord Advocate is going to work out some solution of this question and have an appeal to the Scottish Office, then surely what we should do, wherever there is a proposed dismissal or transference that represents a degradation, is, before the dismissal or transfer takes place, to give an opportunity to the teacher to appeal to the Scottish Office.
I know that many transferences that take place are justifiable, and in 95 per cent. of these cases those who are being transferred will understand the reason and accept the position, but in cases where there is a feeling of injustice, it is much better to have them considered before the transfer takes place rather khan afterwards, because once it has taken place, those who are responsible for the transfer will use every means in their power to try and justify it. I therefore appeal to the Lord Advocate to take up this question, to accept this Clause, and also to make a reformulation in connection with it that will allow of the prevention of transfers rather than permitting 669 injustices to take place and then re-instating the victims after a very considerable amount of injury has been done. That is the point about which I am very concerned, to prevent an injury to any teacher taking place if it is possible to avoid it by preventing an unnecessary transfer.
§ 5.59 p.m.
§ Mr. MATHERS
Before this Debate closes, I want to take a very small part in it, and simply for the reason that the county which I have the honour to represent in this House has been mentioned in the course of the discussion, which arose because of certain conditions that are laid down, to which teachers on appointment must adhere if they are to get the appointment. I know that the principal condition signed by those teachers puts them entirely in the hands of the authority to transfer them, degrade them and reduce their emoluments; it practically puts it into the hands of the authority to do whatever it will with them. I look upon that as a hard condition. To those who have mentioned the Lenzie case and have had some connection with Dumbartonshire, it cannot have been a pleasing thing to know how the name of the county has been bandied about in connection with that case.
I appeal to the Secretary of State to take such power as will make it impossible for us in West Lothian to have the humiliation that come upon those who are affected by circumstances of that kind. I cannot understand why this proposed new Clause is so strongly resisted. I am sure that if the question were left to a free vote of the House there would be a majority for it, such is the consensus of opinion in its favour. The trade union to which I belong has established in the railway service excellent conditions in respect of appeals against injustice meted out to any member of the staff, and I want to see the same opportunity given to members of the teaching profession to appeal against any condition which they feel is injurious to them. I do not share the view of those who think that the wording of this new Clause is unsatisfactory. It is sound and reasonable, it would be workable, and it would cause very little difficulty.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Lieut.-Colonel Colville)
We make no complaint that there has been such a full discussion on this new Clause. The hon. Member who moved it will remember that in Committee it was indicated that if the proposed Clause were called on the Report stage, a full discussion would take place and a reply would be given. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has replied fully and in detail to this proposal and stated accurately the Government's point of view, so that there is little that I can add. With every desire to protect the interests of anyone who is wrongly used, the Government have given careful consideration to all that has been said, and we are not convinced that there is sufficient evidence before us to justify legislation on the isolated instances that have been mentioned where there is a feeling of unfair treatment.
We will continue to watch the situation, but we cannot feel there is any justification for bringing forward legislation at the present time in order to correct isolated instances. With the present-day responsible education authorities, it should not be necessary, but I wish to stress that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has given, and is giving, full consideration to all that has been said in relation to instances where there is a feeling of dissatisfaction in regard to transfer. In England there is no such appeal to the central department, even for dismissal. What hon. Members opposite are asking is that we should afford to teachers in Scotland a further privilege. [HON. MEMBERS: "A right!"] It is a privilege which they have over teachers over the Border. In regard to dismissal, they have an appeal to the central department, whereas teachers over the Border have not that privilege.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman suggest that because a wrong is being perpetrated in England we in Scotland should put up with it?
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I am not suggesting that. If we were satisfied that such a wrong was being perpetrated and that there was a case for legislation, my right hon. Friend would not hesitate to 671 act. It is relevant to point out that teachers in Scotland have this appeal to the central authority in case of dismissal. I hope that after the full discussion we have had on this point the House will be ready to come to a decision.
§ Mr. T. HENDERSON
May I ask the Under-Secretary of State whether the real reason for the refusal to accept this new Clause is the fact that the Government have no desire to give a statutory right to the teachers because of the results that would follow?
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Can the Minister tell us the number of persons who lost status and emoluments last year? I asked for that when I spoke in the discussion.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
If I may reply with the permission of the House, I am afraid that I cannot answer that question without notice. The answer to the question of the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson) is that the reason he mentioned is not our reason for declining to bring in legislation at the present time.
§ 6.8 p.m.672
§ belong to Scotland. I am glad to know that Scottish teachers have privileges which English teachers have not. It will be an impetus to English teachers to emulate the Scottish teachers and to get more rights for themselves. There is a point that has not been mentioned in the Debate which is vitally important to Scottish and English teachers, especially to the older teachers. Teachers' superannuation is based upon salary. If a teacher is degraded and his emoluments are reduced during the later years of his teaching, it will seriously affect his superannuation. So serious is this loss that I would beg the Lord Advocate to try and do something to give teachers the right of appeal. They have the right of appeal in cases of dismissal, which means loss of salary. They ought to have the same right when they are degraded, for not only do they then lose emoluments, but they are in danger of losing part of their pension. Justice demands that they should have the right of appeal in that case.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 111; Noes, 203.673
|Division No. 268.]||AYES.||[6.10 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Adamson. W. M.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Hopkin, D.||Riley, B.|
|Bonfield, J. W.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Rowson, G.|
|Batey, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Benson, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Kirkwood, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Lathan, G.||Shinwell, E.|
|Burke, W. A||Lawson, J. J.||Short, A.|
|Cassells, T.||Leach, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Chater, D.||Lee, F.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cove, W. G.||Leonard, W.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Daggar, G.||Leslie, J. R.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Dalton, H.||Macdonald. G. (Ince)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||MacDonald. Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stephen, C.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||McEntee, V. La T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Davies. S. O. (Merthyr)||McGhee, H. G.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Day, H.||MacLaren, A.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dobbie, W.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Thorne, W.|
|Ede, J. C.||Maclean, N.||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Mander, G. le M.||Viant, S. P.|
|Flides, Sir H.||Marklew, E.||Walker, J.|
|Flatcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Marshall, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Foot, D. M.||Maxton, J.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Frankel, D.||Messer, F.||Westwood, J.|
|Gallacher, W.||Milner, Major J.||White, H. Graham|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Whiteley, W.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Paling, W.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parker, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Groves, T. E.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, G. D.||Potts, J.||Mr. John and Mr. Mathers.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Albery, Sir I. J.||Errington, E.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'kn'hd)||Erskine Hill, A. G.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Findlay, Sir E.||Munro, P.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.|
|Assheton, R.||Furness, S. N.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Gibson, C. G.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Gower, Sir R. V.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Penny, Sir G.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Granville, E. L.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Pickthorn, K, W. M.|
|Bennett, Capt. Sir E. N.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Plunge, L. F.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Grimston, R. V.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Gunston, Capt. D. W.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Guy, J. C. M.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hannah, I. C.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan[...]||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Russell, A. West (Tynemouth)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Hopkinson, A.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir R. S.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br.W.)||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Scott, Lord William|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Channon, H.||Hudson, R. S. (Southport)||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Hunter, T.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U. B'If'st),|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Jackson, Sir H.||Smith, L. W. (Hallam)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Keeling, E. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Clarke, F. E.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Kimball, L.||Spens, W. P.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'[...]'d)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Leckie, J. A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff(W'st'r S.G'gs)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton. (N'thw'h)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Levy, T.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Liddall, W. S.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lindsay, K. M.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Cross, R. H.||Lloyd, G. W.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Loftus, P. C.||Touche, G. C.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Train, Sir J.|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. C. C.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L.(Hull)|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||MacDonald Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Dawson, Sir P.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|De Chair, S. S.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||McKie, J. H.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Making, Brig.-Gen. E.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Drewe, C.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Mr. James Stuart and Dr. Morris-|
|Emery, J. F.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Jones.|
§ CLAUSE 2.—(Grant of employment certificates.)
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, after "authority" to insert "in duplicate."
When this question was under consideration in Committee the view was generally 674 expressed that employment certificates should not be given to employers alone, and following an undertaking which I then gave I am now moving this Amendment to provide that the certificates shall be issued in duplicate to the parent of the child.
§ Amendment agreed to.675
§ Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 11, after "employer," insert "and to the parent."
§ In line 14, leave out "or guardian."—[The Lord Advocate.]
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. FOOT
I beg to move, in page 2, line 15, to leave out from "satisfied" to "after," in line 17.
The words which it is proposed to leave out are:after consultation with the local committee for juvenile employment, if any, and.I know the view may be taken that we should not cut out anything from the Bill which may possibly obstruct exemptions, and that is a view with which I have a good deal of sympathy, but I do not think that this necessity for consultation with the committee for juvenile employment will be a particularly formidable obstruction to the flow of exemptions, though I am convinced that it may be a nuisance to education authorities. I think it is reasonable that there should be general consultation. After all, each education authority will have to make up its mind about the standard it is going to set in the matter of beneficial employment. It will, so to speak, have to draw a certain line and to say that jobs which come above that line shall be regarded as beneficial employment and those which fall below it shall not. It is perfectly reasonable that in settling these standards the education authority should enter into consultation with this committee, but it seems to me that the proposal in the Clause goes further than that. As I read the words they mean that in every single case an education authority before granting an exemption certificate must apply to the local committee for juvenile employment and get their approval; at any rate they have to consult with the committee. That seems to be imposing too many formalities. Obviously, it will be a nuisance to an education authority in one of the larger cities, which may have to deal with hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for exemptions, if consultation must take place in every individual case. By all means let there be some general consultation, but not consultation in every case.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. GUY
I beg to second the. Amendment.
676 I am glad to have the opportunity of doing so, because I put down this Amendment in Committee and I lost the opportunity of moving it owing to a very curious circumstance. The Government had put down the same Amendment, but wished to add other words, and thereby I lost my opportunity to move. I support the Amendment for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot). I have made inquiries in Edinburgh and am informed that there might be as many as 3,000 applications for exemption, and in Glasgow I understand there might be 10,000 applications. From the administrative point of view it would be quite unreasonable to require consultation with the committee in every case. It would throw an unnecessary burden upon the committee and would hold up the machinery of the Bill. I wish to add that in nothing I have said and in nothing, I understand, the hon. Member for Dundee has said, is it desired to cast any reflection upon the useful work done by these committees. I have been reading the report of the Edinburgh committee. They have undoubtedly done very useful work in a number of cases, and I wish them to have the opportunity of continuing that work, but I think it would be interfered with if they had to be consulted in every case.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
The angle from which this point has been discussed so far has been that of the education authorities having to consult these employment committees in every case, but the last speaker stated quite clearly that he did contemplate that some cases should still be allowed to have contact with these committees. If any cases are to have the advantage of contact with these committees why should not that advantage be extended to all cases? It is true that there may be thousands of boys and girls leaving the classes at different periods, but there are district juvenile committees functioning in the large centres; it is not a case of consulting one central committee only, there will be a number of committees. I have had the honour to sit with men and women who have given service on these committees, and they have on many occasions gone to tremendous trouble to deal 677 with the peculiar circumstances attendant upon the case of some one child, and I do not think the question of introducing difficulties into the administration should overshadow the outstanding point of the needs of the child itself. Administration should be secondary to the question of the advantages which can be given to the child.
The Under-Secretary will remember that I raised this matter in Committee with special regard to the fact that the words "if any" appear in the Clause. It is to be regretted that there are some parts of the country which have not got committees to give this guidance, and I hope we may be told what alternative machinery may be brought into being in order to ensure that guidance may be given. Another point I wish to emphasise is that these committees are to be brought in at the end of the investigations into whether a certificate should be granted. I should like to see them operating not at the end but at an earlier stage of the proceedings, in order that there may be a really good chance of ascertaining the qualities and the aptitudes of a child. My personal inclination is towards setting up machinery to give all children who contemplate leaving school much longer contact with the juvenile employment committees than they have. Contact with them at present is only transitory, as they leave school, and in the main through the facilities afforded by Employment Exchanges. As a craftsman myself I would point, out that these committees assist numbers of young people to enter particular occupations. They are particularly fitted to determine whether a child or a group of children will suit given work.
I happen to be a cabinet maker, and I am aware that the cabinet-making industry contains about six different branches of trade. In all the branches, I have over and over again seen young boys come into one trade for which their aptitude was not entirely suited, although it was suited to a different branch of the trade. I hope that it will be possible for these committees, through the medium of administration, to be brought into contact with the child at the earliest possible moment, and that education authorities will take their guidance in respect of any child directly from them, before they deal with the other 678 points necessary as to where the children shall be located in industry.
§ 6.31 p.m.
After the speech of the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy), who has so unexpectedly supported this Liberal Amendment, perhaps another private Conservative Member might be allowed to say one or two words briefly against him. As my hon. Friend was closing his speech, I tried to put a question to him, but he did not give me the opportunity to bring out rather more fully the reasons why he so warmly espoused the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot). I was glad to hear the speech delivered by the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard), who spoke from first-hand knowledge. He knows how essential it is to have all the facts of the case fully investigated in dealing with this matter. It is necessary to call in the most unbiased and unprejudiced minds in order to consider the rights and wrongs, and merits and demerits, of the various cases which come up for beneficial employment certificates.
Speaking as a private Member from the Conservative benches, I hope that the Government will resist the Amendment, about which one or two hon. Members seem to have a bee in their bonnets. I look forward very much to hearing the speech of the learned Lord Advocate, or whoever will speak from the Government Bench upon this matter. So far as any lay mind can be satisfied, I am satisfied, although I have not the benefit of the keener legal acument of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Edinburgh. Perhaps on this occasion he cannot see the wood for the trees, when he says that we are going in for clumsy administration which will double or treble the necessary work. Perhaps the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) will say a word. It is necessary in large centres, where these committees exist for the sole purpose of investigating the opportunities for juvenile employment, that the committees should be called in now to tackle the work that has to be done, and in regard to which they may be expected to have the best and first-hand knowledge. I hope that the Government will resist the Amendment, in which case I shall certainly give them my support.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Mr. HUNTER
I also hope that the Government will resist the Amendment. I have had experience of educational authorities and of advisory committees, and I think it is necessary that there should be consultation with advisory committees. It would be foolish to give exemption to a child if the advisory committee were aware that thousands of boys and girls past school age were waiting for such jobs. It would merely intensify the situation to take a child away from school too early and thereby prevent someone who had already left school from getting the situation. There are no administrative difficulties, and it is easy to keep connection between the education authorities and the juvenile advisory committees. It is an essential and valuable part of the work that you should keep closely in touch with these bodies, because it will enable you to prevent unnecessary exemptions, and to see that those who have already left school have an opportunity of employment.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
We cannot accept this Amendment, and the reasons I will be very glad to give to the House. Local committees for juvenile employment have an intimate knowledge of labour conditions and of the type of child likely to be suitable for each branch of industry. As the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) pointed out, the juvenile advisory committees, of which there are 32 in Scotland, are doing most useful work in, I will not say all, but nearly all, industrial centres in Scotland. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour takes a keen personal interest in the work of these committees, and that he is satisfied that they serve a most useful function in helping young people into suitable employment. It may be that some hon. Members disagree with having in the Bill provisions for exemption in respect of beneficial employment, but it is only right that we should take advantage of the machinery which exists, to see that the jobs into which the young people go are suitable.
As regards the junior Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot), we do not share his view that this would be administratively impossible. It is true that in the conferences which were held with local authorities in Scotland to discuss the provisions 680 of the Bill some of the authorities expressed the view that there might be difficulties in working the provision, but that view has not been strongly pressed in all the weeks which have followed. The reason is, I think, that on closer examination they have felt that it would not be difficult to operate this provision. There are a number of ways in which the advice of the juvenile advisory committees could be obtained without adding to administrative difficulties. Members of the juvenile advisory committees could sit with members of the local authority upon the sub-committees which deal with questions of exemption. There are other ways which I could suggest. I agree with the hon. Member for St. Rollox that the committees should not be brought in merely as a last resort. I believe that the House will agree with me that the provision which we have put into the Bill for utilising the useful machinery which is now in existence should be preserved, and that the Amendment should not be accepted.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I cannot resist the kindly invitation which was offered by my hon. Friend and colleague the Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) that I should participate in the Debate and offer my observations. I am in a little difficulty about the Amendment, because I think the whole question of exemptions is so preposterous and stupid that I propose to vote against the Bill in its entirety. I cannot make up my mind whether the Motion or the Amendment is the more obstructive to the operation of the Measure. If I could be informed which would be the more objectionable to the authorities operating the Bill I would support that one. I would put the greatest difficulties in the way of operating the exemption system.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Only one consideration weighs with me in the vote which I shall cast; it is not so much a question of making difficulties for the Government as of doing what I think is best for the children, and of improving the Bill and enabling the Government to do what is right in this direction. I am satisfied that the work of the juvenile advisory committees is good; I wish only that we had taken more advantage of them, so far as employers and children are concerned, 681 and that there were more of them. It is not only the advice which is given to the child which is important, but the follow-up work, which is so useful in helping children as to the industries they go to and the industries they remain in.
Very useful work is being done in Kirkcaldy, where the officials are doing their best in the interests of the children, who are invited to come back repeatedly. Juvenile advisory centres report upon the work on which they are engaged, and in many instances they have placed children in satisfactory jobs. I am glad that the Government are resisting the Amendment, and I think that the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) would be wise to ask leave to withdraw it. The juvenile advisory committees are not perfect, and in many instances they are only in embryonic stage, but they are doing useful work. The Government have done right in resisting the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES BROWN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 18, after "child" to insert "with reference to the occupation proposed."
The words I am proposing to insert would supplement the words, which are already in the Clause,that the employment will be beneficial to the child.If I did not know the turns which Debates sometimes take, I should think that this Amendment would be accepted without any words of mine or of any other Member. An hon. Friend of mine said to me: "There will be no difficulty about your Amendment." I said, "You had better wait and see." I have hopes that this Amendment will be accepted, because it is a small one which would do great good to the children. It will give protection which the children now do not have. I am not reflecting upon the local authorities; probably 97 per cent. of them would act justly in any matter which came before them, and would discriminate as to employment which was really beneficial. "Beneficial" is a good word, but when it is attached to what it is attached to here we disagree with it. We do not think that the work would be beneficial to the children in many cases; it might be beneficial in many directions, but not to the children. I know that hon. 682 Members are anxious that the children should be protected.
The spirit of what we are asking is highly necessary. All that we ask is that the medical authorities should decide whether the child is fit for the employment that is offered. Surely they will be able to judge whether the child is really fitted for the employment. Exemptions are here, and will remain, but we want to make them as tolerable as possible for the children themselves. We want to be sure that any employment into which the child may enter will not be of a blind-alley nature or of a degrading nature, such as going round with milk or bread in the morning or distributing newspapers, and other occupations that are not so sane as these. We do not want the child to be put into a blind-alley occupation and thereby prevented from obtaining better employment such as might be obtained if the parents were only a little more patient and if the child were less impatient to enter into employment.
In all the essential trades there is the protection of trade union regulations, and children are not allowed to enter these occupations until they are 16. We do not, therefore, trouble about engineering, electrical engineering, or any other occupations where there are trade union agreements; but there are other occupations, like mining, agriculture and the textile trades. As regards mining, I do do not think that any Member here would wish to see a child of tender years entering the mines. The mines at the moment are denuded of many of their employés; indeed, in the county which I represent more than a third of them have been out of employment since 1924; but mining is a highly dangerous occupation both for the man and for the boy. I am assured, on the authority of the inspector for the North of England, that in the case of boys in the mines the number seriously injured and killed is almost double what it is in the case of the men, the percentages being 10.75 in the case of boys and 5.62 in the case of men. The amount of employment that is now open to boys in the mines is not so very plentiful. Machinery has taken many men and boys out of the mines, and any employment that is left in the mines is of a highly dangerous character.
With regard to agriculture, I know there is a good deal of opposition from 683 many hon. Members, because many think that children should assist the family income at seasonable times by entering into some sort of employment in agriculture. I do not deny that occasional work on the land may be good for the child, but the farmer does not always employ the child because of the good it is going to do the child; he employs the child because he thereby gets cheap labour, and it is because we are afraid of exploitation of the child in agriculture that we do not want to see children employed in that industry. In the textile industries there are departments of work which are not altogether healthy at all times.
In any case, whether in regard to mines, agriculture or the textile trades, the Amendment would not take away anything, but would only provide that the medical officer of the district should have the first voice in this matter, and should have regard to the nature of the employment that is offered to the child. Everyone knows that the years between 14 and 16 are the most critical years in the child's life. Character is beginning to be formed; a different outlook on life is beginning; and we want the child to be disturbed as little as possible during those years. Therefore, in the name of common sense and common humanity, in the name of everything that is good and great, in the name of our great system of Scottish education, which has for so long held up its head, I trust that the Lord Advocate will accept the Amendment and add this one little thing to the Bill, so that the child may have a little more protection than seems to be provided at present.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I think that, of all the Amendments that have appeared since we began discussing this Bill, none is of more importance than that which my right hon. Friend has moved, because it is at this point that we are interrupting the child's natural right to that continuous access to accumulated knowledge which we call education. The words which my right hon. Friend seeks to add would come after the provisions as to consideration by the medical officer of health and the physical condition of the child, which relate to the question whether the employment offered would be beneficial to the child. There is a point to which I want to get the Lord Advocate to apply 684 his mind once more—I asked him to do so in Committee—and that is with regard to the responsibility that rests with the medical officer. What is the medical officer asked to do when he is asked by any education authority to inspect a number of children? He is not asked to say whether a child is fit in the general sense; he is not asked to say what defect there is, if any, in the child; all that the medical officer is called upon to do under this Measure is to say whether or not the child is fit for a certain occupation that is being offered to that child. The governing factor in the mind of the medical officer is the occupation that is offered to the child, because he will not be asked to inspect the child unless he is first told to what occupation the child is going.
If the wording is allowed to pass in its present loose form, the medical inspection will amount to nothing so far as medical inspection is concerned. In the schools from which these children will be taken, medical inspection has already been going on, but not with reference to the filling of a job by the child. The medical inspection in schools has been on the question of health—whether or not the child is suffering from malnutrition, or whether the health of the child is such as to interfere with the assimilation of what is being imparted by the teachers in the school; it has not had reference to any position offered to the child. In this Bill we are departing from that line of general health, and are giving the medical officer one view only—the occupation offered to the child. I do not know anything about what the legal mind is trained to do, but I know the results of that training when I come up against it. I know something of what happens in the medical mind. I know that, the moment you give the medically trained mind any hint at all in regard to the application of its science, the view or opinion that it forms is immediately prejudiced. The professional type of mind especially is influenced in this way. If Scotland's great reputation in the matter of education is to continue, we shall require to get something done in relation to this matter.
I want to draw attention also to the provision that the employment must be beneficial to the child. What employment can be beneficial to a child the development of whose mind is interrupted? 685 What is beneficial to any country that interrupts the education of its people? No long view is being taken of this question. If we took the educational point of view of our forefathers, as some of us still do, there would be no reference here to the question of a child earning money; the basis would be an educational basis alone; but it has always been in the minds of the Tories, or Conservatives, as they call themselves, to prevent the working-class child from getting freedom through education—for real freedom can only come through education. Throughout the last 50 years, while we have been making progress in Scottish education, we have found the Tories trying to put a sprag in the wheel in order to stop it, and the method now is to use the economic conditions of the home to destroy the educational opportunities of the child. The child cannot go to the medical officer for inspection until the parent has applied, and the only reason for the parent applying is because of the economic conditions in the home. The medical officer is therefore related to the economic conditions in the home from which the child comes, and you go back to economic conditions, and not to conditions related to education. I do not know why this Bill was ever called an Education Bill; it is the economic condition of affairs that forces the parent or the child into this position.
Who is to determine whether the employment will be beneficial to the child? The medical man cannot do so, because he has never done the kind of labour which is to be offered to the child. What is to be the nature of the recommendation? The medical man may say that the child is a strong boy or girl, able to lift so many pounds, but there is another side to the question of employment, and that is the mental side. Here we are interrupting both the mental and the physical development of the child. All brains do not develop at the same speed; there are some that do not waken up until they are well in their teens. But when they do they prove to be some force. The same thing happens with the physical condition. Some children take a long time to build up bone and muscle, but when they do they count. I hope that the Lord Advocate is going to give some further consideration to this question of what he means by interrupting 686 the education of the child. There are various kinds of murder, but the worst kind that I know is that committed by individuals who try to prevent children from having the best education which the world can give them.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Because this is essentially a matter of drafting, involving no question of principle, I do not feel justified in detaining the House a moment longer than to say that I am prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
May I thank the Lord Advocate for fulfilling to the full a pledge which was given in Committee? This is of importance to the children in view of the fact that a child may be mentally and physically fit for a particular class of work and may be altogether unsuited to another class of work. That is the reason why the Amendment was on the Order Paper in Committee, but owing to a misunderstanding was not called, and a pledge was given in regard to the Report stage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, after "certificate," to insert:and shall also require such undertakings from the employer as they think necessary for enabling them to satisfy themselves that the employment has not, by reason of any change in the conditions thereof or for any other reason, ceased to be beneficial to the child.Hon. Members will be aware that in Sub-section (5) of Clause 2 there is a provision that an education authority when granting an employment certificate shall require an undertaking from an employer in regard to matters connected with the welfare of the child. They will be aware also that in Sub-section (2) (c) of Clause 3 it is provided that a certificate shall cease to have effect if changes are made in the nature of the employment which renders it non-beneficial. Now we propose that the education authority should require also from the employer any undertakings which may he necessary to enable them to satisfy themselves that the employment does not at any time cease to be beneficial. I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to the House.
§ Amendment agreed to.687
§ CLAUSE 3.—(Provisions with respect to employment certificates ceasing to have effect.)
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I beg to move, in page 3, line 38, after "effect," to insert:Sub-section (1) of Clause 3 provides that an employment certificate shall in certain circumstances cease to have effect. It is now proposed to extend the Sub-section for a possible isolated case. It is possible that there would be such cases where a child obtains a certificate, leaves school and then decides, or his parents decide, not to take the employment. In our view a certificate should not go on being valid for an unlimited period in such cases. We therefore propose to provide that in the event of such cases arising the certificate should be cancelled after 21 days if the child does not take up employment. I hope again that the Amendment will commend itself to the House.
- "(a) if the child in respect of whom it was granted does not enter the service of the employer named in the certificate within twenty-one days after the date stated therein as the date from which the certificate is to have effect; or
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
In a few words I can say on behalf of the Opposition that we cordially welcome the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In page 3, line 38, leave out from "child," to "ceases," in line 39:—[Lieut.-Colonel Colville.]
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I beg to move, in page 4, line 31, to leave out from "school," to the end of the Sub-section.
This is a drafting Amendment. The words proposed to be left out provide that where a child has had an employment certificate he shall nevertheless be deemed to have attained the minimum age for insurance. It is now proposed to make this provision in an, extended form and to include it in Clause 17. This Amendment, therefore, is simply to clear the way in order that we may move the Amendment to Clause 17.
§ Amendment agreed to.688
§ Further Amendments made: In page 4, line 38, after "ceasing," insert "by virtue of the provisions of this Section."
§ In line 39, leave out "by the employer."
§ In page 5, line 3, leave out "of the certificate and."—[Lieut.-Colonel Colville.]
§ CLAUSE 4.—(Limitation of power of exemption under act, of 1901.)
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I beg to move, in page 5, line 11, to leave out "in his," and to insert "at."
We now come to an Amendment which is not merely a drafting Amendment, but one of some interest to the House as a whole. Clause 4 provides that exemption from the obligation to attend school may be grantedfor the purpose of enabling the child to give assistance in his homewhere the education authorityare satisfied that by reason of any circumstances existing in the home it would cause exceptional hardship to require the child to attend school.I want hon. Members for a moment to draw their thoughts away from the large cities to the rather sparsely populated parts, particularly to the crofting districts in the north and west where great difficulties may have to be met by smallholders and crofters if in times of hardship they are unable to get temporary assistance from their children over 14. It should be borne in mind that in any case they will not be able to get assistance from children under 14, but if the Bill passes into law in its present form it would not be proper for an education authority to give exemption to a child between 14 and 15 to assist his parents in an emergency about the home as distinct from actually under the roof of the home. It has been represented to us—and we have thought it wise to give careful consideration to these representations—that where a crofter is living in an isolated district and is taken ill, or otherwise incapacitated, and is prevented from attending to his croft, it would cause great hardship if his child aged 14 or over were not able to help him with his croft. This appears to be a case for which we ought to provide, for such a smallholder or crofter could not get outside assistance very readily. Where it might be possible for a man differently situated to get some help on such an 689 occasion, we feel that it would cause real hardship to many crofters if they could not get temporary assistance from young people over 14.
The change of wording will not extend the Clause sufficiently to enable the children to go into employment in the sense of paid employment, or to take the place of parents when the parents are on hired service. It is the intention that when parents themselves are by illness or other cause placed in a really difficult position and ask for this temporary relief, they shall be able to get it. The fact that the education authority must be satisfied that it is exceptional hardship will prevent there being too many cases. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) shakes his head. He is afraid that there might be such a demand that all the children would be exempted. We do not take that view. The very word "exceptional" would prevent that happening. It would not be exceptional if all cases were exempted.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
The hon. Member asks if there is any check on the local authority. We believe that there is a very real check to see that such a provision is carried out. Under the first proviso to Section 3 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1901, an education authority is bound to keep a register containing the names of children to whom exemption has been granted. A statement showing the number of exemptions granted is annually submitted to the Scottish Education Department by each authority, and from this statement the Department will be in a position to see whether there is any undue fluctuation in the number of exemptions granted in any particular year. If the fears which were in the mind, of the hon. Gentleman when he shook his head sadly were justified, it would be shown in the statement which would go to the central Department.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
Again the hon. Member anticipates me. He wants to know what is the final sanction. In this case it is very complete if it should be necessary to exercise it. The Act of 1901 gives the Department power to require 690 an education authority to recall any exemption that it has granted and, if the authority fails to do so, the Department is empowered to withhold or reduce the grant payable to the authority, so that there is a very complete check.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give any single instance where a local authority has ever yet had its grant docked?
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
No, for the extraordinarily good reason that they have trusted local authorities to operate the provision wisely. In the event of their not operating it wisely, the barometer will at once show what has happened and the Central Department can put the check into force. The Government have come to this decision in order to assist a class of people who are not too well off and who, unless they get some special assistance at certain times of the year, are hard put to it to make ends meet. If we are going to get the good will of these people in relation to our educational system, it is necessary that we should have this Amendment in the Bill.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I have seen many quick-change artistes on education, but I never saw anything to beat this. In Committee the Noble Lady the Member for West Perthshire (Duchess of Atholl) on 12th May tabled ark Amendment in the following terms:The exemption is granted for the purpose of enabling the child to give temporary assistance in seasonal occupations, provided that such exemption shall not be granted in respect of any child of whom a medical officer reports that he is not physically fit for such employment.In other words, provided that the child was physically fit—it has nothing whatever to do with the employer—the local authority was to be empowered to give wholesale and retail temporary exemption in agriculture. The Under-Secretary and the Lord Advocate could not face up to a thing like that. The Under-Secretary frankly and openly told the Noble Lady that the Government could in no circumstances accept the proposal as it was a clear violation of their election pledges, it was going to open the door to wholesale and retail exemption and it would destroy the whole purpose of the Bill. One of the most amazing things that 691 happened upstairs was that, immediately the Under-Secretary had finished, her Grace tamely, meekly and humbly said, "After that speech I have no more to say," and sat down. I thought there was a nigger in the woodpile somewhere. I thought there was something wrong, and here it is. They got rid of the Noble Lady in the Committee stage and now at the last moment they come forward with an Amendment not only to do what she wants, but a jolly sight worse. What are they after? I have a copy of a circular dated 5th March from the Association of County Councils on the subject of these exemptions. They are solemnly of opinion that in these rural areas, where agricultural pursuits still absorb most of the boys leaving school, it is desirable that discretionary power to exempt children between the ages of 14 and 15 in cases where employment can be obtained should be vested in the education authority. That is to say, they are not to be inhibited by anything in the Act of Parliament at all. The association proposed the terms of an amendment and the Government have swallowed it in substance if not in words. The Under-Secretary put the best face on it, but I guess he was jolly unhappy at doing it, if he was happy upstairs.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
The two occasions were entirely different and I was happy on both. The Noble Lady's Amendment was of quite a different nature, relating to paid employment.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said:We have given it careful consideration but we could not accept it as being in line with the decision to which the Government have come in this matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee on Scottish Bills) 12th May, 1936; col. 334.]because it is going to introduce a large additional class of children to be exempted from school for the purpose of seasonal employment.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
No, you did not say paid employment. That is an afterthought that someone has given you to-day. The point here is that under Clause 4, as the Bill has stood up to this moment, exemption may be given in cases 692 of exceptional hardship in the home. Now what is to happen? It is to be not "in the home" but "at the home" and, unless you are very careful and think what you are doing, you will imagine that this is a mere drafting Amendment. In other words, the child is to be kept away to attend the kirk, to muck the byre and to work on the farm. The reason for this is perfectly obvious. I am simply staggered that the Under-Secretary should, almost at the last moment of the progress of the Bill, attempt to smuggle this kind of thing into it. It simply means that in rural areas, in the Western Isles, in the crofting districts and in a lot of other districts outside, you are going to get every farmer who has a pull on the county council, or on his local representative on the county council, saying, "I have exceptional hardship at my farm." In other words he needs someone to work on the farm, and you are to get children exempted from school, and the crofter's children and poor boys in these rural areas are to be debarred from receiving the benefits, such as they are, of secondary education. Everyone knows the agitation that is continually on foot for what are called potato holidays. In the rural areas, certainly in the potato districts, there is continually pressure on the education authorities for seasonal temporary child labour. Bad as that is, it is only seasonal and only temporary. Here, if you please, the Government, under the pretence that they are bringing in a Bill to extend the school-leaving age, are not content with seasonal or temporary employment for absolutely, as they say, necessary processes in agriculture. It is wholesale and retail exemption.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
Not exceptional hardship in the home. It is to be for work at the home. This is in effect the little mother Clause. A child, perhaps a girl, gets exemption. The mother is perhaps dead and the child has to look after younger brothers and sisters. There is a case for that, and no one would shut his eyes to it. There are exceptional cases of hardship where a local education authority is at its wits' end to know what to do. But, granted the exceptional hardships, the child has always to go to the home to meet the exceptional hardship 693 in the home. That is not what is to happen here. She has now to go away and work on the farm. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says, "This is not paid employment. They get no wages for it. That only makes it worse. The Government have yielded to the most reactionary of the local authorities. You get no help from these education authorities in the Western Isles. They propose nothing new. They develop nothing. They help you in no way. At the last moment they come forward and bring pressure on the Government to accept the Amendment and the Government have yielded. I trust that the House will resist this and divide on it, and the onus of what will follow from the acceptance of this Amendment rests with the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Major NEVEN-SPENCE
The right hon. Gentleman is barking up the wrong tree. He is trying to fix the responsibility for the Amendment on the noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl). As a matter of fact it is my little ewe lamb, my Parliamentary first-born, and I hope it is not going to be slaughtered. The right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong from beginning to end in his diagnosis of the reason for the Amendment. He tried to drag in the so-called potato holidays for the purpose of paid employment, which has nothing to do with this at all. Under the Act of 1901 education authorities have power to grant exemption in necessitous cases between the ages of 12 and 14. The Act of 1918 provided for the raising of the age limit for exemptions in necessitous cases to 13, when the school-leaving age was raised to 15. This Bill goes a step further and raises the age for exemption to 14 in necessitous cases. In the past the power to grant exemption in necessitous cases has been a discretionary one vested in the education authority, and it is fair to say that the powers which they have had have been sparingly and wisely used in the past. What is more, they have used these powers without discrimination between the sexes, and I shall refer to that matter a little later. I have served for several years on an education authority, and when cases for the granting of exemption on account of the necessity of the home have come up 694 they have all been gone into with the utmost care. Consideration has been given to every side of the case; not merely to the question of necessity in the home but to the interests of the child. Whenever a case for exemption has been asked for, and it has been shown that the child had prospects of benefiting from further education, every possible effort has always been made to find some other solution, if possible, and in many cases it has proved to be possible. Whenever the position between granting exemption to a boy or a girl was comparable, a decision was taken according to the circumstances of the case.
The first point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House is that by substituting a period of one year, that is to say, 14 to 15, in granting exemption in necessitous cases, for a period of two years, from 12 to 14, as has been the case hitherto, you very severely restrict the discretion of the education authority. As the matter stood when the limit was 12 to 14 the education authority very often had the choice of granting exemption either to a boy or girl in the family, and they were able to grant the exemptions to whichever seemed to them, taking all the circumstances into consideration, the more suitable. That choice is gone for all practical purposes. I admit that in cases where children have been born close together a situation might arise in which you might have a boy of 14 and a girl under 15 in the same family, but as the matter now stands, in the case of a girl of 14 and a boy under 15, the young girl would get exemption and the boy would not. That limitation is severe enough.
§ Major NEVEN-SPENCE
No, I do not want both to get it, but I want the local education authority to exercise discretion in any particular case. The limitation on the discretion of the authority due to cutting down the period to one year is severe enough, but there is a much more obnoxious side of it than that. As the Clause now stands, it will press with particular severity upon individual cases in the more scattered parts of the community, especially in the Highlands and Islands. As soon 695 as this Bill was available inquiries were made, especially in the Highlands and Islands as to whether Clause 4 would cover, in the case of the crofter, illness in the home, or accident or death, and give help on the croft. The answer was, "No," as the Clause now stands.
§ Major NEVEN-SPENCE
The words in the Clause must be held to cover only cases of assistance within the four walls of the house. That is plain. The suggestion was put forward by these authorities that the words should mean "at home" in order to enable a boy to help on the croft where necessary. There are certain things for the House to bear in mind before coming to a decision on this matter. Take, first of all, the income from a croft. If you take into consideration everything that is sold off the croft, and everything that is produced and consumed on the croft, the income will seldom work out at more than £50 during the course of a year. It stands to reason that with an income of that size there can never be any money available for the hire of labour on the croft. Even if money and hired help were available, in very few crofts indeed would it be possible to accommodate the help so hired. It follows that, in the rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, if any disaster overtakes the family, illness, death, accident, whatever it may be, the family is thrown back upon its own resources. Some hon. Members must have had some personal experiences concerning the conditions. The women very often do as much work as the men, and in some cases more. I have seen women cultivating with a spade in lieu of the work being done by horse and plough. I have seen women harrowing and carrying out all the work of cultivation on a croft and doing work in connection with stock and everything else. Often supplies have to be brought long distances, perhaps three to six miles, and are very often carried on the back to places to which there are no roads.
Let the House consider what will be involved if Clause 4 is allowed to stand as it is now without Amendment. Education authorities will only be allowed to grant exemption to girls of 14 ostensibly to work in the home, but actually, if hon. 696 Members follow what I have said, the real work these girls will have to do will, in many cases, be on the croft. The education authority will be debarred from exempting a boy of 14, perfectly fit and able, perhaps better able than a girl, to do this work. The authority will not be able in a suitable case to exempt a boy to give assistance in the home. I cannot conceive of anything more preposterously unpractical than that, and I am speaking as one who has had to deal with these cases for many years as a member of an education authority. It may be thought that the objection to the Clause comes from the crofters. Nothing of the sort. I have never heard a word from any crofter in either of my counties. Probably they do not know what is going on at the present time. You do not know anything about the legislation that takes place in these places until it hits you at the back of the neck. There is the well-known case of a one time Member of this House who went to Shetland. He said how dreadful it must be not to know what was going on in London, and received the crushing retort, "It would be a good thing if you in London knew a little more of what is going on in Shetland."
I deeply resent the charge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) in his insulting reference to backward authorities. The education authorities in the North of Scotland in the Island Counties can stand up to anybody. They are as keen on education as any other authorities in the country and have a very fine record. Take the case of the county of Orkney. What are the two chief exports? Fat stock and professors. I do not think that such a county which has an educational record like Orkney ought to be held up to contempt. We have had reference to what might be expected. What is the actual case with regard to exemptions? In the county of Orkney exemptions between the ages of 12 and 14 for the past two years were 11 permanent, and 11 temporary—22 in a school population of over 3,000. I know from my own personal experience only too well the difficulties of the struggling poor in these sparsely populated parts of the Highlands and Islands. I may have put my case very badly, but I hope that I have succeeded in showing the House that by not accepting this Amendment it will not do any good and may do some harm and 697 cause definite hardship in certain cases. I hope that the House will certainly not do anything to increase the already overwhelming difficulties with which these people have to contend.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Major Never-Spence) upon his chivalry in rushing in to take the responsibility off the Noble Lady. He describes it not as the widow's one ewe lamb, but his one ewe lamb. I should have thought that a Member coming from a great agricultural district would have taken care to see that his lamb had not so many maggots in it. Obviously, it is perforated with All sorts of objections. He has described a very touching picture of the condition of the crofters in the Highlands, which most of us are prepared to accept as being true. In many of the remote counties of Scotland our rural populations are living very mean and penurious lives. It does not reflect Any very great credit, either upon this House or upon the general economic system that it should be so, but we know that it is the fact. I want to ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman this question. He pictures one of these homes. It is in a penurious condition, but some special accident takes place and makes the circumstances even worse. If there does not happen to be a boy or girl of 14 or 15 years when the accident occurs, what happens to the home?
§ Mr. MAXTON
The reply of the hon. and gallant Member is that the home is deserted; that the people clear out. They go to the workhouse, I presume. That reflects very little credit on the local authorities in that county. Here is a family living in hard circumstances but managing to get along. Something happens. The head of the house is stricken by illness or taken away by death, and the hon. and gallant Member tells us that the resources of his local authority are so limited, or their desire to help is so little, that it is only by the labour-power of a boy or girl of 14 or 15 that that family can be maintained in doing useful work on the land. I think that is a 698 shocking admission. May I say to the hon. and gallant Member that I do not believe that it happens in more than a negligible percentage of cases?
I do not want to do anything in this Measure that makes the life of anybody in Scotland harder than it is just now. I do not want to exploit children from 14 to 15, and I do not want children, even in the remote parts, children of the poorest people, to be denied the educational advantages that are available to those who are more favourably placed; but I have to consider exactly how I can meet these things. We think and the majority of hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House think that this type of problem would have been dealt with if allowances of a reasonable kind had been made to the children for their continued year at school. If the hon. and gallant Member had used his exertions at an earlier stage to get the Government to accept an Amendment to that effect he would have had the hearty support of everybody on this side of the House. He said that the exemption only permits of a child being brought home to render service where there is illness in the home, and that the assistance given by the child exempted must be strictly limited to the four walls of the house. I should have thought that where a father was stricken down and there was a big strapping boy of 14, 14½ or nearly 15 years, the eldest member of the family, any intelligent education authority would have said that to exempt that boy in order that he might help his mother to run the croft, was beneficial employment. The hon. and gallant Member shakes his head.
Am I to understand that beneficial employment is only to be regarded as beneficial employment where the child goes to a particular employer to earn wages, and that it would not be beneficial employment to go home to the croft and assist his own mother, not in doing menial work but in order to get some sense of responsibility? In every rural county education committees would regard that as being beneficial employment, and would be ready to grant an exemption on the main terms laid down in the Bill without the necessity of the Government bringing in this additional Amendment, which is open to all the evils of this child employment problem, which we thought that we had done with in the Committee upstairs. We were led to believe by the 699 Minister that this question was settled upstairs. I agree with my right hon. Friend; I do not think it is the sort of thing to which we have been accustomed, that when we have settled a particular point upstairs the Government should come forward and try to alter what has been done in Committee.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. ERSKINE HILL
I rise to try to correct what I take to be a misapprehension on the part of the right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston). He seems to fear that this Clause might be so interpreted as to include cases of cheap child labour. I have looked at the Clause again and the interpretation I would give to it is clearly one which would exclude any such fear, a fear which I think would have the sympathy of my right hon. Friend the Minister if it was right. The words in the Clause are that the exemption is to be granted for a child to give assistance. The right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan does not give his assistance in this House, any more than I do; we are paid for it. The words, "give assistance," imply, as far as I am concerned, labour which is not paid for, the sort of labour that a child gives to his parent, particularly in cases where there are exceptional hardships.
I should like to reassure my right hon. Friend that there is no reason for the fear which he has expressed, so far as I interpret the Clause. The Clause is drawn to limit it only to those cases of exceptional hardship in the home such as were submitted to us very well by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Major Neven-Spence). I do not want to detain the House further. All that I would say is that I can see no reason why there should be any distinction drawn between a girl helping her mother in the family in an exceptional case, and a boy who has to do work outside, equally necessary work, for his parent. It is for that reason that I support the Government's Amendment.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
I was amazed in listening to the last hon. and learned Member, particularly in view of the statement of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Erskine Hill) 700 during the Committee stage, when some of us were arguing that the educational attainments of the child should be taken into consideration in granting of exemption for beneficial employment. The hon. and learned Member was very anxious that he should fulfil the pledges made to the electors in the National Government's General Election manifesto. He said that to give effect to the Amendment that had been moved would be to over-ride the promises made by hon. Members to their constituents that exemption would be granted in the case of beneficial employment. The Clause that we are now discussing has nothing whatever to do with the pledge made with respect to beneficial employment for the child.
§ Mr. ERSKINE HILL
I think it has everything to do with the beneficial employment of the child. I think the keeping together of family life, the supporting of the children by the parents and the supporting of the parents by the children, are things which are distinctly and definitely something which has to do with the beneficial employment of the child.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
There is not a word of that, so far as this Clause is concerned. In the Committee stage this Clause was repeatedly referred to as the little mother Clause, and we understood it as that type of Clause. Now, because of the reactionary attitude of the Government in submitting a proposal of this kind, it is to become a little farmer or a little crofter Clause, so far as Scotland is concerned. The English Bill is reactionary enough, but nothing so reactionary as this has appeared in the English Bill. The poorer the children are, particularly in rural districts, the more are they to be robbed of their rights of decent educational opportunity. While we have been opposed to the Bill up to the present stage this action on the part of the Government should compel every real progressive in the House to vote against the monstrous and reactionary proposal now submitted.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. GARRO JONES
I cannot think that either the hon. and gallant Member for Orkney and Shetland (Major Neven-Spence) or the Minister has fully appreciated the magnitude and consequences of the Amendment. It has been suggested 701 that the Amendment will cover only that class which always appeals to the romantic instinct of the House, namely, the crofter in the Highlands and Islands. But there is no restriction in the Amendment to that class. The proposal is to substitute for beneficial employment as a ground for exemption, difficulty in or about the home. It does not matter whether the home consists of a croft or some house which has a factory in a back room, provided the parent is conducting the work. We shall find that behind the screen of crofters' children in the Highlands and Islands there will be crowds of children in the back rooms of houses in the industrial district of Glasgow. Because an upholsterer or a cabinet maker conducts a one-man business in his back room and there is some illness or difficulty, he will draw his child away from school and interrupt his whole education, without any safeguard as to beneficial employment. If that is not the meaning of the proposal, I cannot see that it means anything.
The Minister gave as a safeguard against this loophole becoming too large, certain provisions in the Act of 1901. I would ask the House to see to what those safeguards boil down. In the first place, the school board under the Act of 1901 must give a return to the Department, but not until the Department calls for it. Therefore, the first thing that happens is that the Department when it sees fit must call upon the school board for a return. Secondly, the Department must make due inquiry and if after making due inquiry the Department is satisfied that the exemption was not justified, it proceeds to call upon the school board to recall such exemption or to take steps to improve the attendance. Finally, if the school board fails to do so within a reasonable time, the Department can withhold the grant. By that time the child will have passed the age at which it can be exempted, the year which is the most vital year in the child's education will have passed, and the whole purpose of this Bill as it applies to that child will have been completely destroyed.
This Amendment will alter the whole basis of the Bill. It substitutes for the principle of beneficial employment an entirely new principle. The hon. and gallant Member for Orkney and Shetland is convinced that it would be a good thing in his constituency, where, as he 702 said, the claims for exemption have been very few. His constituents are wiser than the hon. and gallant Member, because they know that whatever may be the hardships, it is important that the education of a child should not be interrupted in the last critical year. That is a much more serious matter than any hardship which may be caused in the home. I wonder whether he would like his own child to be deprived of the last year of education and have to work on the farm or croft? There will be cases of hardship and difficulty, but I think a much greater hardship will be caused to those children who will be deprived of their educational opportunities if this Amendment is passed.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
In view of the indignation, real or assumed, which has been shown by hon. Members during the discussion of this Amendment, it is a little interesting to recall that when the Bill was in Committee, Clause 4 was ordered to stand part of the Bill without discussion and without amendment. The purpose of the Amendment is to substitute "at" for "in." The original phrase was "in his home," and it is now proposed to make it "at home." If the indignation of hon. Members is as real as they would have us believe they should have thundered their denunciations against the original Clause as well as against the Amendment which is now proposed, but if that is not the position I can only think that some radical misconception existed as to the precise form of exemption originally dealt with in the Bill. So far as exemptions are concerned, the scheme of the Bill divides them into two wholly distinct chapters, exemptions which are granted for the purpose of beneficial employment, and those limited exemptions which are still allowed to be granted under the Act of 1901. As regards the first class of exemptions, for the purpose of beneficial employment, I should like to emphasise that Clauses 2 and 3 contemplate employment in the normal sense of the term, where the employer is a different person from the parent, where there are questions of wages and hours of work and all the other things associated with normal industrial employment. That is the field in which we are working when dealing with beneficial employment.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Do I understand that an employer of labour cannot get his own son into his own factory?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
There might be a special case where the parent is himself the employer of a number of hands. It is conceivable that one person may unite in his own person the two characters of employer and parent, but the distinction which I am endeavouring to draw is a distinction between exemption for beneficial employment, which assumes industrial employment in the normal case, and the quite different type of exemption with which we are concerned in Clause 4. I would ask hon. Members to keep in view the fact that the effect of the provisions of Clause 4 with Clause 1 is to abolish the power of exemption which exists at this moment; that power of exemption from the age of 12 upwards. The first effect of Clause 4 is to wipe out that power and to say that there shall be no more exemptions of that type. The case is defined in terms which were accepted by the Committee when related to the "little mother"; that type of exemption is defined in terms which limits its operation within the narrowest possible field. Exemption can be granted only for the purpose of enabling a child to give assistance at home. It is not a question of being employed at home. It is a question of giving assistance at home.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The type of occupation which is envisaged by Clause 4 is in an entirely different category from the employment which is dealt with in Clause 2 and described as beneficial employment. I hope hon. Members agree with me that a person, a boy or girl, man or woman, may do useful work in this world without being engaged in industrial employment at home.
§ Mr. HARDIE
The question is whether the work done by the child is remunerative. There are many small businesses in which there is a single man working, and they may call for the assistance at any time from any one of his children who may be attending school. Does "assistance" mean something which is not paid for, and is the other to be on a purely remunerative basis?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I was emphasising the distinction which exists between exemptions for beneficial employment and the type of exemptions under Clause 4. We are concerned here with the abolition of exemptions under the 1901 Act, unless they are granted under two conditions, first, for the purpose of enabling a child to give assistance at home and, second, if by reason of the circumstances existing at home it would cause exceptional hardship to require a child to attend school. These are the conditions, and not one word of criticism was raised in Committee of the application of these conditions to the case of the little mother. The right hon. Member will no doubt assent that where the mother is dying it is right and proper that a girl of 14 should be released from the obligation to attend school in order to discharge the far more important obligation of assisting in the home in such circumstances. May I then put it to him that if it is regarded as right and proper that a girl should be released from the obligation to attend school in domestic circumstances of that kind, a boy of a similar age and capacity should not be denied the opportunity of doing his duty and undertaking his responsibilities if his father is dying or is dead.
I feel that a great deal we have been hearing from hon. Members to-night has been paying lip service to the idea that it is more important that a boy and girl should attend school than that they should accept in a time of domestic crisis a far more important obligation, more important for the development of character than any amount of schooling—namely, the acceptance of responsibility in relation to the home. That is what the Amendment is designed to effect. It is in no sense associated with the Amendment which we rejected, and to which we are still heartily opposed, in relation to beneficial employment and seasonal occupation. That is in another category altogether, and we are still opposed to it.
The sole reason for the Amendment is to meet the difficulty that, as the Clause was drafted, it was appropriate to the case of the "little mother," but it was very doubtful whether it was appropriate to the case of what I do not hesitate to call the "little father," the comparable services of the lad to those of the little 705 mother. It is in no sense a reflection upon the Government that they have brought forward the Amendment. On the contrary, it is entirely in accord with what has been done in Committee that we should now recognise the difficulties and make this alteration in order to avoid hardships which would otherwise occur. I feel that hon. Members who speak with much knowledge and experience of the conditions of the poor in Scotland are not qualified to speak with the same authority as the hon. and gallant Member for Orkney and Shetland of the conditions which prevail in the sparsely populated areas in many of the Highland counties.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
In my constituency there are still a number of hand-loom weavers. The father is old, or dying. Does this mean that a boy of 14 will be allowed to work the loom, to keep it running?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I am not familiar with the type of case to which the hon. Member refers. I thought the hand-loom had gone out. If such cases exist they must be very few and they would be covered by the Clause as it stands. I should be very surprised if a boy of 14 who has not been trained would be capable of taking his father's place in such an emergency. But let me add that if he is able to do it, if his father is dying and the family is dependent upon the loom being kept going, then I would think very little of him if he did not do it.
§ Mr. GARRO JONES
May we leave out of account for a moment the question whether the father is dying, because the father is ill far more often than he dies. If the father is ill for a week or a fortnight, does it mean that he would get a temporary exemption for the child? I would like the Lord Advocate to be good enough, with his usual candour, to give the answer which he knows to be true. Apart from looms, does this not apply to every one-man business, where the parent and the employer are one?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The House will recall, in connection with the point which has been put to me, that the power to grant the exemption is vested in the discretion of the education authority and is—I say this advisedly—effectively 706 checked and controlled by the Scottish Education Department under the Act of 1901. One hon. Member cast some doubt on the efficacy of that central control. I do not for a moment share that doubt, and I am in a position to tell the hon. Member, because I verified it a few moments ago, that the returns as to the number of children exempted are obtained and included in the annual statistics of the Department. They are analysed and challenged, and cases occur every year—not many, I admit, because the exemptions granted are not many—in which the central Department finds it necessary to challenge what an education authority has done in individual cases here and there. I am certain they will continue to do so, and to do so with redoubled vigilance during the early years of the operation of this Bill.
Further, in answer to the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones), may I be permitted briefly to refer to a later Amendment on the Paper, that in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. T. Johnston), in page 5, line 14? If that Amendment is called, it is my intention, on behalf of the Government, to accept it. The effect of that Amendment would be to limit every exemption under this Clause to the school term during the currency of which the exemption is granted, so that on any view of the matter the exemption would be a very temporary one, perhaps a matter of a, week or two, and at most a matter of a couple of months if the application happened to be made at the beginning of the term. Therefore, I think it is only fair, in view of the way in which the matter has been put to me, to make it plain at this stage not only that this is a wholly exceptional Clause which, as at present drafted, will in my judgment require exceptional treatment, but which will also, if this later Amendment is carried, be narrowed down to a very temporary proposition. Accordingly, I present the whole Clause, in the light of the Amendment which the Under-Secretary has moved, as one which is in no sense concerned with the major purpose of beneficial employment, but the sole purpose of which is to avoid the infliction of a hardship which no one in this House desires or ought to desire to inflict.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Before the Division is called, I would like to put a question to the Lord Advocate, but at the same time I wish to take exception to his statement in which he twitted the Opposition with permitting this Clause to go through the Committee stage without dividing upon it, and without putting down any Amendments to it. I would say to hon. Members who took part in the Committee stage that it is not the Opposition which is now amending or seeking to amend this Clause, but the Government themselves, who, having had the Clause drafted to their satisfaction and allowed it to go through the Committee stage without making any suggestion or amending it in any shape or form, are now, almost in the last stage of the Bill, coming before the House with an Amendment which, on their own statement, does not alter the meaning of the Clause as originally drafted, but seeks to extend its scope to bring in young lads whose parents may be in a difficult position either because of illness or for some other reason.
I put it to the Lord Advocate that the Clause as it stood and as it was accepted in the Committee stage was good enough for the House, and that only at the last minute, due to some influence which has not been revealed to us to-night, have the Government yielded to the crofter elements or the crofters' representatives who wished to some way or another to get cheap labour. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members object. We had information from the hon. and gallant Member for Orkney and Shetland (Major Neven-Spence) as to the purpose of this Amendment, which he claimed was his. He is now the father of the Amendment. He gets the Government to put forward an Amendment which he himself did not think worth while putting forward during the Committee stage. He gets the Government to do the dirty work of the crofter education authorities, and it is they who want this Amendment to be carried. The Lord Advocate twitted us with opposing the Amendment now, and he said our indignation was assumed. I would point out that until he defined the word "at" as meaning "in," our indignation did not arise. Here we have one of the Law Officers of the Crown telling the House on his 708 soul and conscience that the word "at," before a law court in this country, would also mean "in." I ask him whether the word "at" is defined by him as having the same meaning as the word "in"?
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I would answer the hon. Gentleman by saying that the word "at" is inserted by this Amendment in place of the word "in" because we think it has a wider meaning. We thought that the words "in his home" might and probably would be read as referring to those operations performed under the roof, that is to say, purely domestic operations. It was with a view to widening the Clause so as to include the homestead that we substituted "at" for "in." I hope I have made myself clear.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has made his interpretation clear. He will not tie himself down to a definition. lie wishes to widen the scope of the word "in" and he therefore puts in the word "at." Surely he will not claim that there is a local authority in Scotland which will define as tightly as he is now defining it the phrase "in his home" as meaning only under the roof of the home. Take, for instance, the crofters' county, represented by the hon. and gallant Member who claims the father ship of this Amendment. Does the Lord Advocate wish the House to understand that a young girl taken from school to act as the "little mother" in a crofter's house, would only be considered to be exempted if she performed her duties underneath the roof and within the four walls of the house? The Lord Advocate knows there are many duties in the case of a crofter's home which have to be performed outside the house. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is 'home'?"] It is for the Lord Advocate, again, to try to find a definition of "home," but when he asks the House to believe that local authorities in granting exemptions would make their interpretation as strict as he suggests, he is asking the House to believe that the education authorities are worse educated than the pupils to whom they are giving exemptions.
I hope that the Lord Advocate, the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary will appreciate the fact that "at," in this connection, means "at the home" and not "in the home." It will 709 have been noted by hon. Members that the Lord Advocate when challenged would not give us a definition. He would not say that "at" also meant "in" the home. He is only prepared to say that the Government thought it would have that meaning, and he is not prepared to say that, legally, it would have that meaning. He is there as a Law Officer of the Crown, but he cannot say that legally the word "at" also means "in." Yet this Government with their great majority behind them ask us to vote for this Amendment when the Law Officers of the Crown cannot give a legal definition of the meaning of their own Amendment. I trust that when this Amendment goes to a Division the Opposition will be united on this point. I only hope that the results of this proposal will not be such as to bring blushes of shame to the cheeks of the Lord Advocate and the Under-Secretary,
§ in view of their persistence in foisting this Amendment on the House.
§ Mr. CASSELLS
In view of the reply which the Lord Advocate gave to the last speaker, may we take it that the word "at" is more elastic in its application than "in"? If that be so, will the Lord Advocate give the House his opinion on the definition of the word "assistance"? Does that mean financial assistance or other forms of assistance? I think we are entitled to an answer on that point.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
I must point out that the Lord Advocate has already spoken twice.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 102; Noes, 138.711
|Division No. 269.]||AYES.||[8.30 p.m.|
|Adams, D.M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Ritson, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hopkin, D.||Rawson, G.|
|Banfield, J. W.||John, W.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Barr, J.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Batey, J.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Shinwell, E.|
|Bellenger, F.||Kelly, W. T.||Short, A.|
|Benson, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Silkin, L.|
|Bevan, A.||Kirkwood, D.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Broad, F. A.||Lathan, G.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Brooke, W.||Lawson, J. J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Leach, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Buchanan, G.||Lee, F.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Leonard, W.||Stephen, C.|
|Cassells, T.||Leslie, J. R.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Cocks, F. S.||McEntee, V. La T.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cove, W. G.||McGhee, H. G.||Thorne, W.|
|Daggar, G.||MacLaren, A.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dalton, H.||Maclean, N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Marklew, E.||Walker, J.|
|Dobbie, W.||Marshall, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Ede, J. C.||Mathers, G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Maxton, J.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Messer, F.||White, H. Graham|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Milner, Major J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Foot, D. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Oliver, G. H.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Paling, W.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Parker, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hardie, G. D.||Potts, J.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)|
|Asks, Sir R. W.||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Bull, B. B.||Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Carver, Major W. H.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Cary, R. A.||Crooke, J. S.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Channon, H.||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Cross, R. H.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Clarke, F. E.||Crossley, A. C.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Lees-Jones, J.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Drewe, C.||Liddall, W. S.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Little, Sir E. Graham.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Remer, J. R.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Lloyd, G. W.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Elliston, G. S.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Emery, J. F.||MacDonald Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Errington, E.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Scott, Lord William|
|Fildes, Sir H.||McKie, J. H.||Selley, H. R.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Gledhill, G.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Guest,Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll,N.W.)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Spans, W. P.|
|Guy, J. C. M.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hanbury, Sir C.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Hannah, I. C.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Hannon, Sir. J. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon)||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Munro, P.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Hopkinson, A.||Nall, Sir J.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Hunter, T.||Orr-Ewing, I, L.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Jackson, Sir H.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Penny, Sir G.||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Kimball, L.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Power, Sir J. C.||Mr. James Stuart and Captain|
§ Word "at" there inserted in the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I beg to move, in page 5, line 13, to leave out "in the," and to insert "at his."
§ This is a purely consequential Amendment.712
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 101; Noes, 141.713
|Division No. 270.]||AYES.||[8.40 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rowson, G.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hopkin, D.||Salter, Dr. A.|
|Banfield, J. W.||John, W.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Barr, J.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Shinwell, E.|
|Batey, J.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Short, A.|
|Bellenger, F.||Kelly, W. T.||Silkin, L.|
|Benson, G.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Bevan, A.||Kirkwood, D.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Broad, F. A.||Lathan, G.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Brooke, W.||Lawson, J. J.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Leach, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Lee, F.||Stephen, C.|
|Burke, W. A.||Leonard, W.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Casselis, T.||Leslie, J. R.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cocks, F. S.||McEntee, V. La T.||Thorne, W.|
|Cove, W. G.||McGhee, H. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Daggar, G.||Maclean, N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Dalton, H.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||Marklew, E.||Walker, J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Marshall, F.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Dobbie, W.||Mathers, G.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Ede, J. C.||Maxton, J.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Messer, F.||White, H. Graham|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Milner, Major J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Naylor, T. E.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Foot, D. M.||Oliver, G. H.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Paling, W.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Parker, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Potts, J.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Groves.|
|Hardie, G. D.||Richards, R, (Wrexham)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Furness, S. N.||Munro, P.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Gledhill, G.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll,N.W.)||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Guy, J. C. M.||Penny, Sir G.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Birchall, Sir J. D.||Hannah, I. C.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Hopkinson, A.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Bull, B. B.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Remer, J. R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hunter, T.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Cary, R. A.||Jackson, Sir H.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Channon, H.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Clarke, F. E.||Kimball, L.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Kirby, B. V.||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Scott, Lord William|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Selley, H. R.|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Lees-Jones, J.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh,W.)||Liddell, W. S.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Courthope, Col. Sir G. L.||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lloyd, G. W.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, E.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Croom-Johnson, R P.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Spens, W. P.|
|Cross, R. H.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Crossley, A. C.||MacDonald Rt. Hon. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.)|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||McKie, J. H.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'n)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Drewe, C.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Duggan, H. J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Elliston, G. S.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Withers, Sir J. J.|
|Emery, J. F.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Errington, E.||Morgan, R. H.|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Flides, Sir H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Mr. James Stuart and Captain|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)||Waterhouse.|
|Fox, Sir G. W. G.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
§ Proposed words there inserted in the Bill.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I beg to move, in page 5, line 14, at the end, to insert:(2) Any such exemption as aforesaid, if granted during the currency of the school term, shall be for a period ending not later than the end of that term, and, if granted between two school terms, shall be for a period ending not later than the end of the ensuing term:Provided that nothing in this subsection shall prohibit an education authority from renewing an exemption if they think fit to do so, and the provisions of this section shall apply to any such renewal in like manner as they apply to the original grant of such exemption.The meaning of this Amendment is that under the "little mother" Clause, once an exemption is given, it will not be given for any longer period than until the end of the next school term and the 714 local authority will have to review the certificate at the end of each school term. In other words, the exemption certificate which may be given to a child at the beginning of the school term is not given for a year or a year and a-half, but is given only for the period of the school term. An Amendment on these lines was accepted by the Government to the English Education Bill, and I hope, therefore, that they will accept this Amendment to the Scottish Education Bill.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Without any argument, I will simply say that I am prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ CLAUSE 7.—(Amendment of Act of 1906.)
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper: In page 6, line 36, after "schools," insert "or in occupation centres."—[Mr. Guy.]715
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. GUY
The purpose of this Amendment is to clear away any doubts which may remain in the minds of education authorities as to their duty to provide instruction or education in occupation centres for a limited class of mentally defective children. This Clause deals with mentally and physically defective children, and places a duty upon the education authority to make special provision in schools or otherwise for these children, who are defined in, Sub-section (2). As it stands, the Clause suggests that provision should be made in special schools only. It is true that the Lord Advocate, when a similar Amendment was moved in Committee, gave his interpretation of the words "or otherwise." I shall come to his statement in a few minutes. My submission is that certain doubts still remain and the object of the Amendment is to remove those doubts. The category of children with which the Amendment is concerned is very limited. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) challenged my estimate in Committee of about 1,000, but I have made several inquiries as to the probable number, and, although my estimate is by no means accurate, it is sufficiently accurate to give an idea of the scope of this problem.
There are several categories of mentally deficient children for which special provision is made. The main categories are those who are educable and those who are uneducable. The Amendment is concerned with the specially limited category on the border-line between the two main categories. Hitherto, the education authorities have not made any special provision for this category. Provision has been made by voluntary care committees in occupation centres. There are some 12 of them in Scotland, and with one exception they are All voluntary. The exception is in Edinburgh where the centre is run by the local education authority, but is financed, not out of education funds, but by the public health committee. The next point is that these children will not necessarily always be in this category, because experience has shown, in Edinburgh and elsewhere, that children who have only a limited degree of educability may, under proper supervision, and with training by properly qualified instructors, qualify for promotion to the special schools. It would 716 be a mistake to consider that they will remain always at the lowest point of the scale of educability. When I moved a similar Amendment in Committee as an addition to Clause 8—
It appears to me, after listening carefully to the hon. Member, that the intention of the Amendment which he wishes to move goes beyond a drafting Amendment, and if that is so it is out of order.
§ Mr. GUY
I have no intention of trespassing against the Rules of Order. My intention is to give effect to a statement made by the Lord Advocate when I moved a similar Amendment to Clause 8. He said, quoting him from column 380 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the 11th day's proceedings:I would stress the words 'or otherwise' because they were deliberately inserted to cover other forms of instruction or occupation centres than schools, and not only than ordinary schools but than special schools. When the Clause becomes law, if it becomes law in its present form, it will accordingly be the duty, and not merely the power, of every education authority in Scotland not only to provide special schools but to make any other provision, whether by occupation centres or otherwise, for the particular class of children which hon. Members have in mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT (Standing Committee on Scottish Bills), 14th May, 1936; col. 380.That was a very satisfactory assurance. There was agreement in all parts of the Committee as to the purpose we wish carried out, and the Lord Advocate, in his statement, did not challenge that purpose, but at the end of the discussion, and before I withdrew the Amendment, promised to reconsider the question with a view to the addition of any further words to Clause 7 which might be required to make this duty of the education authority absolutely clear. The provision of some limited degree of training and education in occupation centres for this unfortunate class of children is recommended by the Scottish Association for Mental Welfare which is a very representative association, including representatives of local authorities and other bodies all over Scotland. Yesterday, received the report of the Committee on the Scottish Health Services. I may say, in passing, that this is one of the finest reports of its kind which I have ever seen. I then discovered—
I feel bound to ask for an opinion from the Lord Advocate on this point. Either the hon. Member is arguing something not covered by the Clause, in which case he is out of order at this stage, or he is arguing something which is completely unnecessary. I should like to hear what the Lord Advocate has to say.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
My view is that, in so far as the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy) desires that provision be made by education authorities for mentally defective children otherwise than in schools, that object is already covered by the Clause. In so far as he desires, by inserting the words "in occupation centres," to lay upon education authorities the duty of the care and supervision of children who are not capable of education but are proper subjects for a mental deficiency authority, that is, in my humble opinion, not only outside the scope of the Clause but outside the scope of the Bill, and I shall find it my duty to oppose it strenuously.
After what the Lord Advocate has said my impression is confirmed that this Amendment is out of order and I cannot allow the hon. Member to move it.
§ CLAUSE 17.—(Interpretation.)
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I beg to move, in page 10, line 16, at the end, to insert:(2) For the purposes of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, a child in respect of whom an employment certificate has been granted under this Act shall, as from the date from which the certificate has effect and notwithstanding that it may thereafter cease to have effect, be deemed to have attained the minimum age for entry into insurance.I think I can say with fairness and accuracy that this is a drafting Amendment, because only a short time ago, on the Motion of the Under-Secretary, we deleted from page 4 of the Bill paragraph (b) of Sub-section (4) of Clause 3. We now propose to re-insert it in a slightly more ample form and in better phraseology as a Sub-section to Clause 17. It leaves the substance of the position unaffected. I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite accepts it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I wish to raise a point of Order before we leave the Report stage. During the Committee stage there were two Amendments from the Glasgow Corporation referring to secondary education and to a census every third year. The Lord Advocate promised the delegation from Glasgow that he was going to deal with these points and we expected that they would be dealt with on the Report stage. I should like to hear whether he can tell us why nothing has been done about the matter on the Report stage.
I am afraid that is hardly a point of Order. It is not a matter which can be dealt with now.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,. "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ 9.4 p.m.
The right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) has given notice of a reasoned Amendment to the Motion for the Third Reading of the Bill. I think that before I call upon him to move that Amendment I ought to acquaint the House with the views of Mr. Speaker on this subject. He says that, according to the practice of the House, what can be debated on the Third Reading of a Bill is confined to what is in the Bill. There is a growing practice on Third Reading of putting down and moving reasoned Amendments containing much that is not in the Bill. That is a practice which must not be encouraged; otherwise the practice of confining Debates to what is in the Bill and the old practices and old Rules of Order in this House become inoperative. The Amendment which the right hon. Member proposes to move refers to several things not in the Bill. They are, however, only expressions of regret, so that I have not been able to rule them out of order, but I can only allow the merest reference to them, and no debate upon them on the Third Reading.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: 719this House, while strongly of opinion that the school-leaving age should be raised, regrets that a Bill purporting to achieve this end should be made largely inoperative by Clauses designed to encourage the entry of children into industry whilst still of school age, makes no provision for assisting necessitous parents, penalises the child who remains at school, so far as future unemployment benefits are concerned, and retards the complete provision of full secondary education for all the children of Scotland.I have had the advantage of an intimation from Mr. Speaker on the lines that you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have just communicated to the House, and I propose to observe faithfully the conditions of Debate which he has indicated. We have reached the last stage of this Measure, so far as the House of Commons is concerned. There is a general consensus of opinion that it has been steadily improved, both in the Committee stage upstairs and on the Report stage this afternoon, but it still remains primarily and chiefly a Ministry of Labour Bill, regulating somewhat the flow of juvenile labour to the market, but leaving wide holes for exemption and evasion. In the Preamble to the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers make a rough estimate that there will be, in the initial stages at all events, something like 50 per cent. of the children of Scotland, who, on reaching the age of 14, will receive exemption. I would draw the attention of the House to the to the further fact that the provisions of this Measure, meagre as they are, have not to come into operation until three years have elapsed.
Education is a social service which differs in Scotland in some degree from all other social services. We have more in the nature of Home Rule in education than we have in our other services. Once Parliament has voted its annual sum of money for the purpose of education, the Secretary of State is allotted his 11/80ths of that expenditure and he may spend it on education in Scotland without being compelled to face Treasury experts every other week. In this connection, may I express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, in the immediate future, see to it that the present permanent head of the Department of Education for Scotland has his headquarters transferred from Dover House to Edinburgh. We cannot afford to lose one inch, one fraction, of the local Scottish control 720 that we presently have in our Scottish Services.
Since 1918, when Lord Alness stood at that Box, during the Debates upon the Scottish Education Bill, the Secretary of State for Scotland has had power in his hands to raise the leaving age of the children of Scotland to 15. He has had the power all these years. Abortive attempts have been made in the intervening period to get the school age raised. I will refer in a moment to the effort which was made by the Labour Government in 1929, but in Lord Alness's time he stood at that Box and said that he would not be satisfied with the raising of the age to 15. Indeed, he speculated on the time to come when we should be able to raise the age by instalments to 17 or 18. His words were:As circumstances permit, without binding ourselves to any specified length of moratorium,the Government undertook in that Measure, to raise the age for education, so far as continuation classes were concerned, to the age of 18. Lord Alness added that education, in his view, should be a common possession of all, as befitted a true Democracy and he put the raising of the age in the forefront of the advantages he sought. He added:The premature breaking off of education … has deprived us in the past of much potential energy which otherwise would have been placed at the service of the State and the nation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th June, 1936; cols. 1083–86, Vol. 107.]Then we come to 1929. The Labour Government brought in a Measure to raise the age to 15. This leads me, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the prohibited subject. The Labour Government provided for 5s. per week maintenance allowance for the children who took advantage of that additional year. Now we have this belated, date-postponed, exemption-riddled effort of the right hon. Gentleman. That it is primarily a Ministry of Labour Bill, we can, I think, deduce fairly from the "Notes for speakers" issued by the Conservative and Unionist central offices in February of this year, wherein they advise orators on behalf of the National Government, when speaking on the Education Bills, to note that owing to the prospective fall in the number of juveniles, there would be by 1939 a shortage rather than a surplus of juvenile labour, except in the depressed 721 areas. It was therefore visualised that there will be a shortage rather than a surplus of juvenile labour, and, that being so, there is nothing very much to worry about as a result of this Bill. They have provided that, wherever there is a demand for juvenile labour, they can supply it; there is nothing to stop them; but there is going to be a surplus of employment for these juveniles, so that by 1939 the problem of the extension of the school age will not matter very much anyhow. Therefore, the Bill as it now stands is a very meagre, pettifogging, and largely illusory effort, so far as the present generation is concerned, to raise the school-leaving age.
When the Labour party were in office, they provided a 5s. maintenance allowance. The present Government provide nothing. They certainly do, although hon. Members opposite hesitate to remind them of it, provide maintenance allowances for the Income Tax paying classes. Every hon. Gentleman who fills up his Income Tax form is allowed £60 off his taxable income for every child of his who remains in an educational establishment, and, at the rate of 4s. 6d. in the £, that represents something in the neighbourhood of £10 per annum of clear relief to the Income Tax paying classes for every child who remains in an educational establishment. But, when it comes to the children of the poor, no maintenance allowance whatsoever is provided. The right hon. Gentleman, on the occasion of the Second Reading of the Bill, made a declaration to the effect that we were the admiration of the world in regard to our education system so far as the question of age was concerned. That, however, is definitely not so. I have had inquiries made, so far as it was possible to do so since the Second Reading, and I learn that, in a little country like Latvia, the school-leaving age is already 16; that in several Provinces of Canada and in several States of the Commonwealth of Australia, in the United States of America and in South Africa, the age is either 15 or 16 already; while in Germany, Portugal, Roumania, and some of the Swiss cantons, it is 15.
Other speakers may make further references to the details of the Measure and the facilities which are given for exemption, so I do not propose to trouble the House with those matters, but I 722 desire to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and his friends to the new age that has dawned upon us—the new age that opens before his eyes and mine. It is an age of potential and actual plenty; it is not an age of scarcity or of famine, but an age of enough. Famine has been banished, from the Western world at any rate, by the coming of the machine and the technical knowledge which our generation possesses. Someone has said that the horn of plenty is filled, or could be filled, to the brim. Yet we are not training our children for a life of prosperous leisure; there is no conception, of that in our educational machinery. We are not training them in the virtues, in the best sense of the word, of ladies and gentlemen; we are not training them in the arts of leisure; we are not training them in dignity, courtesy, poise, love of beautiful things, or anything like that. I happened to be reading the other day Montaigne's well-known essay, De l'institution des Enfants, in which he said—and it is as true to-day as it was when he said it—that the purpose of educating a boy should be to reach this result, that it would be:not by the testimonie of his memorie, but by the witnesse of his life,that you would judge of your educational system. Instead of that, we have a system of beneficial employment for children. Upstairs in Committee we tried to prevent the sending of children down the coal-pits. It was refused; that was regarded as beneficial employment for a boy of 14. In a market glutted with surplus labour in the coalfields you would not prohibit the taking of a boy away from his studies, you would not even guarantee him a secondary education. No; the door is open to beneficial employment for him in the coal-pit, in the factory, in the moulding shop, even in mucking out a byre. I am reminded of the quatrain in Gray's Elegy:But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,Rich with the spoils of time, did ne'er unroll;Chill penury repressed their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.By this Measure we condemn 50 per cent. or thereby of the children of our country to be without, for all their days, the chance of a ripening, widening, developing view of life. Because of their poverty 723 we take them away from school; we refuse to make financial and economic provision for their retention there. We cannot afford to continue this ignorance. Nationally, no nation can afford it. On humanitarian grounds it is an outrage and a scandal. Ill health and ignorance are an economic burden which no society can afford to carry once it has learned to lighten that burden. If we are to liberate the lives of the coming generation, we must liberate their minds—the minds of the children who are coming after us, who are to carry on the culture and the civilisation of which many of us are so proud. By this Measure, instead of earning encomiums and votes of thanks, the Government and the right hon. Gentleman, in my view, are clearly blameworthy for the miserable, pettifogging restrictions with which, in an opening world of plenty, they have chosen to prevent such a large number of the children of the poor from enjoying the benefits of a secondary education.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. FOOT
On behalf of my party I want to enter one last protest against this Bill before it leaves us. Nowhere in this House or in Scotland is there very much enthusiasm for it. There was no great enthusiasm anywhere for its English counterpart. The "Times" is not exactly an organ of Left Wing opinion, but I would remind the Government of what was said in the "Times" last April, just before the Report stage of the English Bill, which embodies a similar structure and principles to the Bill we are now considering. The "Times" said:No doubt Mr. Stanley can get his Bill as it stands, but there can be little satisfaction in adding one more to the laws which encumber the Statute Book without having any obvious effect on our daily lives.That is an admirable description of this Bill and the effect which it is likely to achieve. This Bill has no educational value. It had a certain electoral value last November, when it was represented as being a measure of social and educational reform. Under a Coalition like that from which we now suffer we are bound to have legislation of this description, which serves the double purpose of saving the faces of the National Labour and Liberal National supporters of the 724 Government without really offending the prejudices of their Conservative followers. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken gave an estimate of the number of children who would be affected by this Bill. He thought that only 50 per cent. of the children in Scotland would be kept at school after 14.
§ Mr. FOOT
I am not sure that it is not a highly optimistic estimate. In many areas this Bill may be simply a dead letter. Although unemployment is a serious matter in Scotland, it is probably less serious among those between 14 and 15 than among any others. Even in the cities where unemployment is still high it is only a small minority of those between 14 and 15 who are unable to find jobs. I have here some information concerning my own constituency, which shows that of all the children in Dundee who have left school since 1931, only 15 individual girls and 24 individual boys have never at any time had a job. We have 9,000 juveniles between 14 and 18 in Dundee, and the number of unemployed between those ages at any one time is only about 500. In 1935, taking the four school-leaving dates together, the number of children who left school was 2,410. The number between 14 and 15 who were unemployed in November last year was 183 boys and 101 girls, only 284 in the whole city. In March this year, the latest figures I have, the figures were even lower—100 boys arid 119 girls, a total of 219. The number at that age who failed to find jobs on leaving school is only about 10 per cent. in a city like Dundee.
This Bill might work in such a way that, if the education authority took a lax view of its duties, only that 10 per cent. would be kept at school, and no more. I hope the authority in my own constituency will take a more enlightened view. The number who will be kept at school will depend on the standard of beneficial employment fixed by each education authority. Unless, in a place like Dundee the authority is prepared to say of a large number of jobs occupied by children between 14 and 15 that they do not regard them as beneficial employment, and will not let their children take them—which is a very strong line to take—only a small minority of the 725 children will be kept at school under this Bill. Another objection which we have to the Bill is the rigid way in which it is drawn. There is no flexibility about this Measure. It is clear, on the wording of Clause 2, that if the job that is offered comes up to the standard that has been set by the education authority for its own guidance, the authority has to grant a certificate.
The authority has no option, and it is not able to refuse a certificate. They could use their discretion in such a way that, by practically ignoring the law, they could distinguish between one case and another. But that is far too much to expect of any education authority. If an employer comes along and offers a job at a certain wage and under certain conditions, and a certificate is granted, and the next day another employer comes along offering a precisely similar job, it would be impossible for the education authority to say, "No, although we have granted a certificate in one case we will refuse it in the other." so where you have a large number of cases it would be impossible for any education authority to draw a distinction of that kind. That is to say, if the position comes up to the standard—each authority will set its own standard—they have no option, and they have to grant the certificate even when they are quite certain in their own minds that it would be better for the child to remain at school.
I know the argument that has been put up. It was put up at the General Election and it has been used since, particularly by the Minister of Education when discussing the English Bill. He said that this method of exemptions is the road along which we have always advanced in matters of education. It has been pointed out that under former Statutes the old system of exemptions, both in England and Scotland, played a very much larger part 20 years ago than at present, and that gradually the number of exemptions has grown smaller and smaller as the years have passed by. The suggestion is that the same thing is going to happen under this Bill. But there is a very great difference between the system of exemptions that has existed in the past and the system of exemptions that is going to be created by this Bill, because there is no absolute discretion left to the local authorities. They have not the discretion gradually to decrease the number of exemptions. 726 There are only two ways under the Bill in which the number of exemptions can be steadily diminished, firstly if there is a great falling off in the number of applications made by the parent, and, secondly, if the education authority is prepared to get round the terms of the Act by steadily raising its standard year by year of what constitutes beneficial employment.
The Amendment refers to the failure of the Bill to provide assistance for necessitous parents. The Government has from the beginning, and indeed before the Education Bills were introduced, set its face against anything in the nature of maintenance grants, but it seems to me that, even with the Bill as it stands, one rather peculiar anomaly is likely to be created. If you take the case of a parent who is in work and who keeps his boy at school, even though it is a sacrifice for him to do it, there is obviously going to be no financial assistance for him. But supposing next door there is another parent, also with a boy just over 14 whom he keeps at school, and he comes under the Unemployment Assistance Board, he is going to get an extra 6s. a week under the Unemployment Board's scale. I do not say that this is entirely the fault of the way in which the Bill is drafted, but we might take note that we create rather a remarkable anomaly where you have two boys, one the son of an employed parent and the other of an unemployed parent, and there may be very little difference between the wages that the one receives and the benefit that the other receives.
We regard this as an entirely bogus Measure. We do not regard is as being in any way an educational advance. We regard it as simply an attempt to evade the 1918 Act—in fact, it goes back On the provisions of that Act—and also we believe it is going to create very considerable administrative difficulties. I know that some hon. Members do not seem to think that considerations like that are of very much importance, but it seems to me that, particularly since 1929, we have put extraordinarily heavy duties on those who are taking part in the business of local government. The duties that have to be carried out by town and county councils become progressively heavier as time goes on. We are going to put a very difficult task upon the shoulders of education authorities. 727 In the first place, we are bound to have very wide disparities between one area and another. I know that there are certain things in the Bill which have to be taken into account by an education authority in deciding what employment is to be considered beneficial, but there is no minimum standard laid down, and you are bound to get variations from one district to another. In one district they may say that no employment is to be regarded as beneficial where the wages are less than 10s, a week. In another they may put it at 6s. or 7s. You Ore bound to get these anomalies arising. Also you are going to create exceedingly strained relations between the education authority and the employers of labour.
May I remind the House of the sort of difficulty that will exist in my constituency? We have there an industry which is under the control of a trade board. Wages go up according to age, and the result is that a great many children are taken on in the mills at the age of 14 and are kept on for a few years, and when the time comes, generally at the age of 18, when they would be paid a higher wage, they are thrown off. They just get those few years of employment, and sometimes when they are thrown out it may be years before they can get another job. It is going to be a very difficult matter to say whether employment of that kind is to be regarded as beneficial or not. I should say definitely that it is not, because in so many cases it really constitutes blind-alley employment, and, although it may be two or three years' employment, or perhaps a little more, it is going to mean possibly long years of idleness after that. But imagine how difficult it is for the education authorities to say to the industrialist in the principal industries in the city: "We do not regard the employment that you offer as beneficial." You are asking them, when they do that, to carry an extremely heavy burden and you 'are going to create very strained relations between the industrialists and those who are running the education authority.
These are some of the objections which, in spite of what has been said, we still hold towards the Bill. We do not regard it as a Measure of educational advance at all. We believe it is one of 728 the most useless Measures that even this Government has put upon the Statute Book.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
The Junior Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) in his opening sentence described this Bill as not a Bill of educational advance. One like myself who holds different views from some of my colleagues on these benches—
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I will come to that in a moment. I am dealing with this particular point. I have found that my colleagues—and I can only speak from such experience as I have had—are as anxious as I am in the cause of education, though perhaps my Liberal views are not so progressive, after all these years, as those of my hon. Friend. My hon. and right hon. Friends and I are in complete agreement that this Bill is a real education Bill, and is a far greater advance than the hon. Member imagines. In one portion of his speech he described the Bill as probably being a dead letter. He went on to deal with the enlightened views of the local authorities who would administer the Bill, and thereby, I presume, he meant that the Bill would not become a dead letter. He went on to state also that the Bill was placing too heavy a task upon the local authorities. I have had some opportunities of getting into touch with local authorities since the Bill was introduced, and I can tell him that the local authorities who know the Bill and who know the rights, needs and necessities of education in different parts of Scotland, do not share his pessimism. They are at close quarters with the real problem. They have studied the Bill and believe, as I do, that it is an educational advance, and they do not share in one iota any of the apprehensions raised by the hon. Member.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) in his opening speech on the Third Reading of the Bill submitted to the House four simple propositions. I always envy the wording of manifestos of the party opposite. Whether it be their reasoned Amendment in the Debate 729 this evening or their election manifesto on peace or war, it always commands my respect, although I may profoundly differ from the policies which they try to convey. He urged that the head of the Scottish Education Department who took up his duties a few months ago should be moved to Edinburgh. Let me tell the House that after appointing the present head I asked him to stay in London so as to be in touch with the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills and with all stages of the Bill while it was becoming law. I also said that after this Bill became law, in the autumn, he would take up his duties at the headquarters in Edinburgh. I am as convinced as is the right hon. Gentleman that it is essential, in the interests of Scottish education, that the civil servant who administers the different Acts passed by this House should be resident in Scotland and in touch with the numerous local authorities administering education in different parts of Scotland. Side by side with that, it is essential for the head of any Department to be constantly in London in touch with Dover House and the wider interests of education which we have to administer in the metropolis of this country.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I agree that it places a heavy burden upon this civil servant, but it is essential that he should be doing the work of administration in his office in Edinburgh, and at the same time keep in touch with London.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I think the right hon. Gentleman said that he wanted him in Edinburgh and in London at the same time.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I said that I wanted him in Edinburgh, but there are constant journeys to London in order to keep in touch with the Minister responsible for Scottish Education in this House. There would have to be constant travelling to and from Edinburgh. The right hon. Gentleman also mentioned that education was a service which was distinctly a home rule service. I would go further and describe it as a local service under local bodies, with local control and central direction. When the right hon. Gentleman said that Scottish education did not sufficiently train people in dignity and poise, he was taking rather too 730 pessimistic an outlook of the spirit and cause of education in Scotland to-day. If I remember aright, in a speech delivered a few months ago the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) spoke with truth of the vast forward movement which has taken place in education among the poor children in Glasgow during the last 30 years. If we compare the interests of the teachers and the love and devotion which they extend to the children under their care with the position in former days, I do not think it can be said of us that we are not training, and that this House through different parties and Ministers and different Governments is not training, our people in dignity and poise and in outlook. We may not be going forward as rapidly as hon. Members opposite desire, but at any rate year after year there is a distinct step forward in the wide cause of education.
When the right hon. Gentleman spoke in too pessimistic a tone he was not doing justice to his fellow countrymen in Scotland. He advanced four simple propositions about this Bill. The party opposite are strongly of opinion that the school-leaving age should be raised to 15 without exemption and that the Bill should be amended to achieve this end. Nothing that I can say this evening will naturally convince any hon. Member opposite that the Clause to which they have rightly taken exception, and which they have used every proper Parliamentary opportunity to oppose, for raising the school age under the terms proposed in the Bill, is a good one, or will lead them to accept all the views we hold. But this I will say, that though they have lodged their protest against the main purpose of the Bill, we have received their assistance in other Clauses of the Bill, and I am glad to state our appreciation of their services in helping my right hon. Friends when they piloted the Bill so successfully through the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, and of their assistance in the matter. When we speak in this House of our Bills going up to the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills the public outside do not, I think, sufficiently appreciate the very close scrutiny which takes place not only in every Clause but in every Sub-section of the Bill.
The Bill which is now before the House, although it is substantially the same Bill as that which went upstairs to the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, 731 in certain Clauses has indeed been improved. I will not weary the House with the number of Amendments which have been made, but I will recall to the memory of hon. Members that the leaving date, which was very vague in the original draft, has now been completely altered and children can leave only on certain specified days throughout the year. A duty has been placed upon the shoulders of the local authorities to make more ample provision for mental defectives. In addition, provision has been made for those who are anxious to secure further education. These Amendments have improved the machinery, and if the House this evening in its wisdom determines to pass the Bill hon. Members may ask what steps the Government propose to take when it becomes law. We shall at once address ourselves to the problem which Parliament has placed on our shoulders. We shall again get into touch with the local authorities to see what further steps can be taken for the provision of school buildings in the various areas. We have promised at the same time to review the curriculum of the schools so that when the Bill comes into operation in 1939 all that foresight and energy can do will have been done in the intervening years.
Many hon. Members opposite who feel very keenly on the subject of the school-leaving age would like to see it raised to 15. In all these forward movements, if they are to be successful, it is essential that the great mass of public opinion must go with you. The right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. Johnston) quoted some sentences delivered by my predecessor in office in 1918, when he sketched out the prospect that the school-leaving age would be raised rapidly to 15. Eighteen years have passed and many Governments have administered the affairs of State since that date. Looking back, one realises that that Bill, that Clause or that outlook in 1918 was in advance of public opinion.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
It was a vague promise. There was no specific date in the Bill. It was an airy hope, dangled before the people to attract them.
§ Mr. MAXTON
In 1918, the Bill was very comprehensive and the whole lot was accepted by the people. The right hon. Gentleman says that it was in advance of public opinion. Everything that was operative was accepted. The only thing that was not operative was the school-leaving age.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I was addressing myself to that point. The right hon. Member for Stirling and Clackmannan quoted several sentences from a speech delivered from this bench in 1918. I have not the reference by me, but the general sense of the speech was that the school leaving age would be rapidly raised to 15. Eighteen years have passed and the school-leaving age has not been raised to 15. Therefore, I submit that although you may pass Acts of Parliament, although you may enshrine what you desire, what we all desire, unless you can carry with you the full force of public opinion, that Clause becomes a dead letter. I am convinced, with all respect to hon. Members opposite, that if we are to carry the country with us, as we all desire to do, and if the school-leaving age is to be raised gradually under certain conditions to 15, we must go forward step by step, so that not only shall we carry public opinion with us, but we shall carry the parents of the children with us.
When we talk of education we are so often apt to think of the interests of the teachers. I agree that the interests of the teachers are all-important, but public servants, whether they be in the House of Commons or whether they be teachers in our elementary schools, live to serve the public, and the teachers and the whole educational machinery exist for the benefit of the children and the interests of the parent. The interests of the parents are in the forefront of this Bill. We have thought it well to leave the discretion whether the children should leave school at 14 or continue to. 15, to the parents themselves, who, in the first place, are to decide. Then, later, it is for the education authorities to determine whether the work offered is of real beneficial value to the child.
These are some of the general thoughts which occurred to me as the right hon. Gentleman was speaking. I fear that it will be very difficult to say anything. fresh on a Bill which has been so 733 thoroughly thrashed out in Committee, but before sitting down I should like to say a few words about certain Clauses dealing with physical training, on which we have had the active assistance of hon. Members opposite. Since the Second Reading of the Bill I have addressed a personal letter to the chairmen of all education authorities in Scotland directing their attention to the value of physical training to the children in their schools and the House will be glad to hear that that appeal has met with a ready response, and that to-day up and down our country further steps are being taken to improve the physical well-being of the children in our schools. I mention that in passing.
If the House of Commons, if Parliament, thinks fit to pass the Bill I and those associated with me at the Scottish Office and in the Scottish Education Department will bend our energies to see that the new powers entrusted to us by Parliament have been entrusted to those who will do their duty. We shall endeavour by gradual steps and by sympathetic attention to the needs not only of the children but of the parents, to see that when 1939 comes, not only will the schools be ready but that public opinion in Scotland will be ready for that forward movement in the cause of education which is so dear to the hearts of my Scottish colleagues.
§ 10.4 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Like my colleagues on these benches, I shall oppose the Third Reading of the Bill. The Secretary of State for Scotland in his closing remarks dealt with the question of physical training. A good number of the points with which he dealt in his speech are in themselves only incidental to the Bill. There was no need in a Bill of this kind to deal with the question of physical training or several other issues which the right hon. Gentleman raised. They are only incidental and have come in as a sort of side wind. I cannot understand the Government on these issues. They come here and talk about what they are going to do for physical training. Every chairman of an education authority has been written to asking him to interest himself in physical training. I am a bit cynical. The appeal for physical training must be in respect of schools in which the poorer people are concerned. The average well-to-do children do not need the chairman 734 of an education authority to see that they get physical training. The children in Hillhead School and Albert Road School come from well-to-do quarters and do not need a benevolent chairman of an education authority to see that they get physical training. They are living in surroundings adjacent to the open country and, therefore, this appeal for physical training is for the poorer section of the community.
In three weeks time the Government propose to introduce Regulations dealing with the unemployed. At the same time that one Department of the Government are urging that poor people should get physical training another section of the Government will be coming along and taking away the income of these poor people, without which there can be no physical training. You cannot have physical training if people are not properly fed. You can pass your Bills from now until Doomsday but unless the working people and their children have the means to live, proper housing and proper food, your Bills will be no good unless you deal with the poverty problem of the poor. I am not against any provision dealing with mental defectives but I say that they should never have been dealt with in this Measure. The problem not merely of mental defectives but of the crippled child is not one which should have been dealt with as a side line in this Bill; it is a problem which should be dealt with in a separate Measure. In Scotland we have made some provision for the treatment of the blind. Education authorities can deal with them throughout their adult life, but we cast aside the mental defectives and the cripple at a certain age, and make absolutely no provision for them except the Poor Law after they leave school. The problem of the mental defective and the cripple should have been dealt with in a separate Measure, not in a Measure raising the school age.
As to exemptions, I agree with the criticisms which hon. Members have made in regard to beneficial employment. In this matter the Bill is reactionary. Under the existing law every local authority has the responsibility of seeing that the job is a decent one and also that the parents need the income. Now under the present proposal all that they have to do is to prove that it is beneficial employment. 735 There is no other test. It is said in some quarters, and I believe it is the case, that the Government have held out this bribe of exemption in order to conciliate the opposition of the poorer sections of the community to the raising of the school age. There might be something in that if the Bill really meant that the children of poor people will be able to get these exemptions. The Bill however is a fraud in this respect; it is the biggest fraud I know. The people who will get exemption for beneficial employment are not the poorer sections of the community.
What is beneficial employment? I take it is means a decent job, a job which holds out some kind of prospect. Who gets these beneficial jobs? It is the boy with influence, the boy whose father is at work, who is of some social standing. I represent a mass of people who have known nothing but poverty. In my division the problem is that the poor children are automatically unemployed, except for the most menial and contemptible of jobs which no local authority would ever say was beneficial employment. That is the problem in my division. These jobs are got by the boys of parents with an income, who can send their children out decently dressed and who can speak to men in authority. From this point of view the Bill is a fraud and a sham, and in my opinion will make the position 50 times worse than it is now. I am going to support the Amendment, although there is a phrase in it which I do not like. I do not want it to be said that I am in favour of anything like a means test for children. I know that the Amendment was framed hurriedly and handed in as a manuscript Amendment, but I want it to be understood that I am not in favour of any kind of a means test. I was amazed at the attack of the Secretary of State on a predecessor, now a Noble Lord and a distinguished judge in the Court of Sessions. The right hon. Gentleman criticised him very strongly.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I did not make any attack on my predecessor, and I did not intend to criticise him, If my remarks were taken as criticism, I withdraw them. The object of my intervention was to point out that he held out a hope that the school age would be gradually raised to 736 15, but that it has been shown that he was in advance of public opinion.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman said that he held out an airy hope, and that is a reflection. It is only when I have drawn attention to those remarks that the right hon. Gentleman chases away from them. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to draw contrasts; he is the strong silent man and the other fellow holds out airy hopes. Compare this puny, contemptible Measure with what was attempted and what they at least tried to settle in the 1918 Bill, a Bill which settled questions on which there had been great controversy over a period of years. On that Bill they had to face great conflicts which have not to be met now, and in the main in Scotland the provisions of the Bill were accepted and have worked since. What is frightening the Government? Are they frightened that there will be criticism if they raise the school-leaving age too quickly? Are they frightened that somebody will criticise the Bill? Which is the section of public opinion for which we must wait? Those of us who sit on this side of the House represent the bulk of the population which will be most affected by this Bill.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Why wait until 1939? Why this wait, and why these exemptions? One would have expected that hon. Members on this side would have been subject to far more pressure to allow the school leaving age to remain as it is if it were true that public opinion is against the raising of the age. Was the right hon. Gentleman speaking of the employers who want a cheap and ready supply of labour? Even in that respect may I say to the right hon. Gentleman that decent employers are ahead of him? They will not take on boys before they are 15, and in some cases 16. Almost the biggest employers of labour in the city of Glasgow are the co-operative societies. They are not against the raising of the school-leaving age. Is the printing trade against it? Hardly a decent firm of printers approves of this Bill. Who are the people that the right hon. Gentleman refers to when he speaks of public opinion?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I hope that in what I say I shall cast no reflection on the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I hope that I pay as much attention to my division as any other hon. Member. I have not missed visiting my constituency regularly for years and never once in my weekly interviews with my constituents have I had a complaint about this matter. It is true that they wanted decent maintenance for their children, but I will tell the hon. Member an amazing thing. It is not a case of the parents complaining about the extra year of education. It is a case of the poor people asking for education for their children. Only the other week I got the Under-Secretary to assist me in enabling people on Poor Law relief to keep their children at school. In Glasgow to-day the Poor Law authority, to their credit, are giving such people small payments to enable the children to be kept at school. Search to-day all round and you will find how the poor people strive for the education of their children. Next to a decent home, comes the need for education and I say to the hon. Member that what he has said is a reflection on the parents. The parents of Scotland to-day are more in tense in their desire to give the children a chance than ever they were in the past.
§ Lieut.-Colonel MOORE
I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I would remind him that during the General Election last year one of the greatest reliefs that could be offered to the parents was the statement that there would be exemptions to enable the children to take beneficial employment.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
If that were so, one would imagine that it would be the case in Gorbals more than anywhere else. I do not suppose that 10 per cent. of the people there have decent incomes. Many of them are living under terrible conditions and one would imagine that if exemptions were a bribe for votes they would be more of a bribe there than anywhere else. I stood at the Election and I would not pledge myself to exemptions. I said I wanted the school age raised for all to 15, with decent 738 maintenance grants. I said I was against making fish of one and flesh of another and against providing cheap labour for employers. As to the right hon. Gentleman himself, down in Greenock, I do not believe that his speeches about exemptions mattered at all as regards votes. As a matter of fact, in great industrial districts like Greenock there were other issues at stake and the question of exemptions played little if any part in the Election. [An HON. MEMBER: "Battleships."] Yes, he did manage to get Scotts some battleships, and if he had done a little less for battleships and a little more for peace, it would have reflected greater credit upon him. It is no use hiding and dodging round the facts. We saw the posters "Vote for Collins. Keep him in the Cabinet." Why? Because he would get battleships for Scotts and one or two other places—just a form of bribery. I must confess that we were taken in. [An HON. MEMBER: "Clydebank."] I am not going into the relative merits of Clydebank and Greenock. It would be dangerous if I were to do so, but I say that those things mattered more than this exemption business in our industrial areas.
I feel that this Bill will cause dissension between family and family. One of the things that it will tend to do will be that in overcrowded districts, where one child has been fortunate enough to get exemption, the minute that child walks out of the school with the exemption, the other children cannot see why they too should not walk out, and it will be a very great problem indeed for the teachers and the education authorities. One of the reasons why the present exemption system has broken down in every intelligent district is that the education authorities have found that in actual practice they have two sets of children, and it has been impossible to carry on. I shall vote against the Bill. I believe the school-leaving age should be raised. I come from a family that have had, I think, a fair measure of success in the educational sphere, and I want to see education extended. I have been denied it myself, and I would like to see education and the beauties of life extended to the children. I would like to see the school-leaving age raised higher than 15—raised to 16. The children of the future, I think, ought to be better than the 739 children of the past, and I would welcome any Bill, even although it might not offer the same hope for my division as for other divisions, that raised the school-leaving age and gave to education a better status than it has, but this Bill, far from doing that, will bring education, I am sorry to say, into contempt and public ridicule. It is not a Bill that faces the problem at all; it is a Bill that holds out a mean bribe to certain people, and I hope that between now and 1939 a new and more enlightened Government will have taken the present Government's place and raised the school-leaving age to even higher than 15.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Mr. HARDIE
One thing that astounded me to-night was the Secretary of State for Scotland, when he said that this was a real Education Bill. I cannot understand anyone, with even an elementary education, who had read the Bill saying that. The whole of the Bill deals with the question of poverty. The whole Bill is class legislation. It does not deal with all the children in Scotland; it only deals with the unfortunate children who happen to be born, by accident, into severe economic conditions. There is nothing educational in the Bill, and I am prepared to meet the Secretary of State for Scotland on a platform in his own constituency to prove if there is anything relating to education in the Bill. I lay that challenge down to-night. The whole idea underlying this Bill is to get a return to mental serfdom in Scotland. We have had to-day, even from the Northern counties' representatives, the fact that it is essential to get the child back on to the croft. That means the destruction of the mind of that individual, because you take from that individual its access to education. If this had been called a Destruction of Education Bill, it would have been a very proper title. We seem in the North of Scotland to be getting back to the industrial hind. In the industrial areas we have got the men broken down with poverty so far that they are what is called, by a good many people opposite, eating out of their hands.
If you take this Bill in another section what do you find? You find the whole mental outlook of the Members on the other side is based upon the fact that they have no personal experience nor can they 740 visualise the conditions of life where economic strain takes the child from school. None of the Members opposite realise what poverty means. They do not know what it means to be taken from school to work when they want to be at school at their lessons. They do not realise what it means to be taken from school to the mine. The poverty question should not be allowed to measure the accident of birth. The accident of birth should place the child outside the deprivation of the one thing we believe makes a man or woman in a mental sense, namely, education. Now we find the Secretary of State for Scotland saying that this is a real education Bill. One could understand the Secretary of State being in favour of more education if for no other reason than that more people being able to read would mean more purchasers of the books of the firm with which the right hon. Gentleman is connected. We often discuss in the House the physical starvation of the child. It is called malnutrition, but all it means is that the child is not getting enough to eat. This Bill aims at the mental starvation of the child. In these days someone comes along with claims to be associated with science and he makes deductions from things we all know, and it is called the effort for statistical deduction. They work out pages of graphs, but their accuracy does not feed the kids who require food. In education you do not play with graphs and figures unless they speak of realities. I am sure that the Secretary of State does not understand what I am saying.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I did not expect the hon. Member who interrupts to be able to understand anything educational. I applied that observation more to the Secretary of State. There is something you cannot buy at a university. In conclusion, let me say that this Bill is not an Education Bill and the name of those who are associated with it in days to come will stink in the nostrils of the people of Scotland. I can imagine that the boys and girls who are going to be maltreated under this Measure, who will be deprived of rights to education, will in the future have sufficient sense, even with the skimpy education they have been able to obtain, 741 to turn and rend these education arrangements.
§ 10.35 p.m.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
From beginning to end of the discussions on this Bill, both on the Committee stage upstairs and on the Report stage, we on this side of the House have done our best, with our limited knowledge of administration and of the difficulties that stand in the way, to improve the Bill, but with all its improvements there are certain Clauses in the Bill on which we differ fundamentally from hon. Members opposite, and we have now before the House a reasoned Amendment for the rejection of the Bill and I am supporting it. I was rather interested in the statement by the Secretary of State for Scotland in which he said that he envied the way in which we could draft manifestos and draft reasoned Amendments. I am afraid that I am not in the happy position of being able to envy the Government for the way in which they drafted their manifesto at the General Election, nor can I appreciate, as hon. Members opposite would like me to appreciate, their alleged sincere desire to adhere to the letter and spirit of that manifesto. I am afraid that Scottish Members who sit opposite have not read the whole of that manifesto, otherwise they would have been demanding in the Bill before the House something at least slightly different from that which applies to England. The manifesto of the Government stated that education must always take a foremost place in social progress and thatfor some time past the Government have been engaged in drawing up a comprehensive scheme of reform.It goes on:including the raising of the school age to 15 with exemptions for children who can obtain satisfactory employment.That is not the part of the manifesto which dealt with Scotland and I am afraid that far too many of my colleagues from Scotland—I mean colleagues merely as representatives of Scotland and not my political colleagues—were not careful to read the paragraph of the manifesto dealing with Scottish questions. There the manifesto said:Scottish problems will continue to receive sympathetic attention.742 It stated further:but in many spheres separate treatment is necessary to meet the special circumstances of Scotland.I submit that in education Scotland requires special treatment as compared with England. We have claimed for a long time that Scotland led the way in education. England has rapidly been catching up in other matters. Scotland has mainly been tied to its present rate of progress by the financial conditions affecting the provision of education in Scotland. We are entirely dependent upon the expenditure in England. No special provision was made in the Financial Resolution to enable Scotland to make the progress which she desires to make in education.
There are three reasons why I shall oppose the Bill on Third Reading. Let me first point out that there is nothing in the Government's manifesto to lead the people of Scotland to believe that it would be 1939 before even this miserable Measure was put into operation. The Bill delays until 1939 even the minimum of progress which is provided by the Bill, which means at least 1940 before anyone gets advantage from the Bill. This House ought to reject this Measure. I oppose the Bill because of the exemption Clauses I will not say that it will be impossible to administer the Bill, but my knowledge of administration tells me that it will be extremely difficult to do so. I know that my colleagues in Scottish local administration will face the difficulties, but you are making local administration almost impossible when you impose this burden upon men and women who voluntarily give their services in the local administration of Scotland. The problems will be exceedingly great. Upon your own estimate, 50 per cent. of the children between 14 years and 15 years of age will be liable to be exempted. All those applications will have to be considered by these voluntary bodies. The problems of local administration are great enough at present, but you are adding another problem which will make it almost, if not quite, impossible to carry the burden.
There is a Clause in the Bill giving enabling powers to Scottish education authorities to provide playing fields and other things referred to in Clause 8, as well as to make certain improvements, 743 in connection with physical instruction. The strange point is that this is an extension of the general powers of education authorities contained in the Education Act, 1908, I think it is, and that there are education authorities who have not yet exercised those general powers. Very few local authorities in Scotland have used the power enabling them to supply free books for children in their education area. That is one of the general powers. Very few, if any of our education authorities, provide travelling facilities, particularly for the young children, for distances inside the three-mile radius. There are cases, and no one should know this better than the Under-Secretary of State, who, I understand, is responsible politically for the administration of education in Scotland, where difficulties have arisen in getting local authorities to provide travelling facilities even outside the three-mile limit. Now you are adding another power, and expecting local authorities to exercise it when, because of their financial disabilities, they cannot utilise the powers already contained in the main Act. For that reason—that it is only humbug to give additional powers to local authorities unless they are given the finance with which to carry out those powers—I think this Bill ought to be rejected.
I have often noticed what I thought was well-feigned indignation on the part of hon. Members opposite when we have suggested during the discussions on this Bill that they ought not to support the principle of exemptions contained in the Bill. I have also noticed what I thought was well-feigned indignation when it was suggested that they might go back on the pledges contained in the manifesto to which I have already referred. When that manifesto dealt with the robbing of the children of Scotland of their rightful educational inheritance, there was well-feigned indignation, but sometimes there appeared to me to be undisguised satisfaction when it meant going back on the pledges they had made to provide collective security to save those children from the horrors of future war.
May I remind the House that at least 80 per cent. of my colleagues on this side were denied the opportunity of a school education to equip us efficiently for the 744 battle of life? In the race of life you want as few handicaps as possible. Some of us have known the bitterness of the struggle and the heartbreaking efforts to overcome those heavy handicaps, not erected by Nature, not due to any lack of desire on the part of our parents to see that we got the best, but erected because, in our childhood's days, we had to experience the galling effects of the poverty which surrounded the lives of our parents and of ourselves. I submit that every child ought to be equipped as fully as is possible educationally for the battle of life. Competition is so keen, and the fight is so great that, as has already been said from this side of the House, you cannot afford to give less than the best in the way of educational opportunities for the children of our race. This Bill does not do that. It is the child units that make the nation of to-morrow, and, when you equip the child, you equip the nation to maintain its place among the nations of the earth.
The Murdocks, the Stephensons, the Watts, the Kelvins, and others have given us a mechanical and a scientific heritage of which we are all entitled to be proud. That heritage has been made possible now, not three years hence—not by putting employment first, but by putting the educational uplift of our people first, in order that Scotland's children may enter into their educational heritage. This Bill, by the political ineptitude of the Government opposite, denies to our children what the mechanical, inventive and scientific genius of our people has now made possible. We fight for Scotland's children to get the best. This Bill does not even provide us with the second best. It is only a makeshift, and, because of that, we shall go into the Lobby to vote against the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ 10.49 p.m.
§ Mr. GALLACHER
Much of the discussion that I have heard to-night has, in my opinion, emphasised the very urgent need for an extended age for education in Scotland. But we not only want an extended age; we want it immediately. There are two points to which I desire to draw special attention. One is the urgent need for making this Bill operable not in 1939, but at the latest in 1937. The other is the question of parents and education. We have at present a large number of teachers who cannot get 745 employment. When this Bill was introduced I got several letters, and I want to draw attention to one or two of them. One says:As an unemployed teacher I am writing you this note in the hope that you may be able to induce the Government to bring forward the date for raising the school age.This teacher has got optimism if she thinks that I or anyone else can move this Government in a progressive direction. That is the appeal she makes, and she is one of many who would have the possibility of employment if the date was brought forward to 1937. Another writes:Meanwhile we people who are just fresh from college are being allowed to stagnate. … My heart sickens when I see my colleagues who qualified two years ago.These are young people who have been trained and on whom money has been spent to make them teachers. Surely if we are concerned with education we should make the earliest possible date in order to provide employment for them. I know that not only do the parents not want the children out of school, but the school masters do not want them out of school. A case came to my notice at home the other week of a boy who was being talked about as being taken out of school for employment. The headmaster sent for the guardian of that boy in order to persuade' him that it would be an injustice to the boy to take him out of school. The Lord Advocate says that they may be taken out at 14 and put into a job in the home which will develop character. There is not a job that can be mentioned but will kill character, and not develop it. I have another letter here which says:My mother was widowed when I was six months old and she worked day and night, often all night, as a nurse to educate me. … That was two years ago. Since then I have been on the waiting list.The writer tells how she got a job as a canvasser for electric cleaners and went to 109 doors and never got an order. I appeal to the Government to bring forward an Act that will be of advantage to teachers and to children, and to put an end to what is called "beneficial employment."
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
We have now reached the last stage of this Measure, before it leaves us for another 746 place. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) made his usual stout advocacy of the point of view that he holds. I gathered the impression that he found it a little difficult to make a strong case that the Bill is a failure and a fraud. We have had very extravagant expressions used about it, yet the hon. Member who spoke last urged us to bring it into operation at the earliest possible moment. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. Westwood) referred to the Government's manifesto at the last election, but where does his party stand? The official manifesto of the Labour party did not contain any reference to Scotland. The Measure has had very careful consideration in Committee. We held 12 meetings and we received assistance from all sides of the Committee. We could not always agree with the advice that was tendered to us but there were occasions on which we could co-operate together to improve the Bill. Our sittings were rather protracted. We adjourned for a short time for the convenience of certain Members who wished to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, but, if I remember rightly, we resisted the request of other Members that we should adjourn for a highly competitive event held near Epsom on another day.
We thrashed the Bill out thoroughly and it now comes back to the House. We make no apology for it. We regard it as a real advance in education. When Part 1 comes into operation children between the ages of 14 and 15 will be kept at school unless they go into employment which the education authority is satisfied is beneficial to them and which their parents wish them to enter. The fact that an increased number of children will remain at school until 15 will make it possible to improve and extend facilities for education beyond the primary stage, which normally ends about 12. For those who will enter employment between 14 and 15 the Bill makes a notable advance on the present state of affairs. The education authority must be satisfied that the employment is beneficial to the child and stipulations are within the power of the authority to see that these conditions are carried out. These safeguards go far beyond anything in the existing law on the subject.
It also abolishes the present system of exemptions between 12 and 14. In the 747 case of children over 14 exemptions, as distinguished from the grant of a certificate for beneficial employment; will be allowed only when the conditions in the child's home are such that there would be exceptional hardship if they were not granted. We regard the Bill in its present form and the provision it makes for exempting a child in case of hardship as a practical way of dealing with this particular problem.
In addition to Clauses relating to school attendance, there are in Part II of the Bill a number of important and valuable provisions which will effect a substantial advance in various directions. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) complained that these provisions did not go as far as he would desire in dealing with mentally defective children. He wished the Bill to be not an education Bill, but a general social service Measure dealing with all sorts of problems.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I said that the portion of the Bill dealing with mentally defective children ought not to appear in the Measure, and that you should have a separate Bill dealing with the problem of defective and crippled children.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
Let me tell the hon. Gentleman that responsible opinion in Scotland approves the provisions made in the Bill for dealing with the defective child, and that his point of view is not held in any responsible quarter in Scotland.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
Every education authority in Scotland approved Part II of the Bill in relation to defective children, and the hon. Member for Gorbals knows that quite well.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) was clear and precise, that the problem of the mentally defective is not one that ends at the school-leaving age but goes on through life, and if you are to consult experts, they must be other than education authorities.
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
The hon. Member is pleading for the rejection of the Bill, and yet the provisions of Part II of the Bill have been welcomed all over Scotland. Both in Committee and during other stages of the Bill these opinions 748 have been propounded, and I do not think it necessary to go over them again to-night. The minor Amendments included in the Schedule will pave the way for a much-needed consolidation of the Acts relating to education in Scotland.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
Will it be possible, arising out of the changes, to have a conference as soon as possible of the teachers and the local authorities with a view to arranging amicably the changes in connection with the national minimum scale of salaries?
§ Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE
I will bear in mind what the hon. Member says. I am going to speak in a moment on some conferences which we shall hold. The Bill lays new duties on education authorities. The local administration of education in Scotland has a long and honourable history, and the Government look with confidence for the co-operation of the authorities in administering the new Measure. When the Bill becomes law, we intend to have conferences with local education authorities to discuss the arrangements which will be necessary following the passing of this Bill. There will be full consultation with regard to the action to follow, The teacher, no less than the local administrator, stands to gain by the Bill. It will increase his opportunities and responsibilities, and it will also lessen unemployment among teachers, which has been a cause of grave concern. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) spoke of it to-night, and said that if the date could be accelerated it would do still more to help the employment of the teacher. We have chosen 1939 as the date because we think that it is the earliest date for the whole country, to go forward. The position of the employment of teachers has already improved, and I am confident that the Measure will greatly assist the problem of the employment of teachers in Scotland.
When I first read the Amendment moved by the Opposition it seemed to me that they must think it is a bad Bill, but when I read it again, I felt that they were simply doing their duty. It is the duty of an opposition to oppose and to look for the worst possible construction that they can put on every action of the Government. I do not complain of that, but there was rather a hollow ring in 749 their protests to-night. Say what they will, they wish, this Act to go to the Statute Book as early as possible. There are, of course, fundamental points of difference between us. There is the question of exemption for beneficial employment. On that subject I do not expect that I can convert hon. Members opposite and I do not expect that they will convert me. We have discussed the question fully, and I do not agree with their policy and they do not agree with mine. We differ, but let us go forward with this Measure, which will be welcomed as a whole.
Hon. Members have, no doubt, a policy in relation to this question of the raising of the school-leaving age. but it is a policy which has not been very clearly stated or well thought out. I disagree with them in their attitude with regard to raising the school-leaving age without exemption. Be that as it may, we have
§ together worked out the Bill which we present for Third Reading to-night.
§ Hon. Members opposite are continually asserting that this Government is in a shaky condition, and that they will hail its fall with joy. When the appointed day for this Measure coming into operation, three years hence, is reached, and the life of this Parliament is still maintained, the National Government will go to the country with the strong record of its administration fortified still further with the weight of public opinion behind the Measure which we are passing to-night.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 153; Noes, 95.751
|Division No. 271.]||AYES.||[11.8 p.m.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Furness, S. N.||Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Ganzonl, Sir J.||Munro, P.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Gledhill, G.||Nall, Sir J.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Goodman, Col. A. W.||Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Aylesbury)||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Blindell, Sir J.||Grimston, R. V.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Guest,Maj.Hon. O.(C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Guy, J. C. M.||Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Hanbury, Sir C.||Petherick, M.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Hannah, I. C.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen, H. C. (Newbury)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.|
|Bull, B. B.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Butler, R. A.||Hellgers, Captain[...] F. F. A.||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Rankin, R.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Cary, R. A.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Remer, J. R.|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)|
|Co[...]ns, Rt. Hon. Sir G. P.||Hunter, T.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Jackson, Sir H.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'burgh,W.)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Kimball, L.||Scott, Lord William|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kirkpatrick, W. M.||Selley, H. R.|
|Crooke, J. S.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Leckie, J. A.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cross, R. H.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Llddall, W. S.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col, J. J.||Southby, Comdr. A. R. J.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Lloyd, G. W.||Spens, W. P.|
|Dawson, Sir P.||Loftus, P. C.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'I'd)|
|De Chair, S. S.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Dorman-Smith, Major R. H.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Dower, Capt. A. V. G.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h)|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Duggan, H. J.||MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Macdonald, Capt.- P. (Isle of Wight)||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||McKie, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Com. R. L.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Ward, Irene (Wallsend)|
|Elliston, G. S.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Emery, J. F.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Errington, E.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Erskine Hill, A. G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Flides, Sir H.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Sir George Penny and Mr. James|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Potts, J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hardie, G. D.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Barr, J.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Rowson, G.|
|Batey, J.||Hopkin, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bellenger, F.||John, W.||Silkin, L.|
|Benson, G.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Bevan, A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, C.|
|Burke, W. A.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Chater, D.||Leach, W.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Leonard, W||Tinker, J. J.|
|Cove, W. G.||Leslie, J. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Daggar, G.||McEntee, V. La T.||Walker, J.|
|Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)||MacLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Maclean, N.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Dobbie, W.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Westwood, J.|
|Ede, J. C.||MacNeill, Weir, L.||White, H. Graham|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Marklew, E.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Marsha[...], F.||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Foot, D. M.||Maxton, J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Gallacher, W.||Messer, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Paling, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Parker, J.||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
|Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parkinson, J. A.|
Question put, and agreed to.