HC Deb 15 June 1936 vol 313 cc647-71

3.36 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 11, line 22, at the end, to add: (2) The said section twenty-one shall have effect as if the references in subsections (1) and (2) thereof to a child receiving full-time instruction at an educational establishment included references to a child undergoing training by any person (hereafter referred to as 'the employer') for any trade, profession, or vocation in such circumstances that—

  1. (a) a child is required to devote the whole of his time to the training for a period of not less than two years; and
  2. (b) the emoluments, if any, receivable by, or payable by the employers in respect of the child while undergoing the training, do not exceed thirteen pounds a year, exclusive of any emoluments receivable or payable by way of return of any premium paid in respect of the training;
For the purpose of paragraph (b) of this sub-section all emoluments at any time receivable by, or payable by, the employer in respect of a child in respect of whose training a premium has been paid shall be deemed to be receivable or payable by way of return of the premium, unless and except to the extent that the amount thereof exceeds in the aggregate the amount of the premium. (3) In this section the expression 'emoluments' means any salary, fees, wages, perquisites, or profits or gains whatsoever, and includes the value of free board, lodging, or clothing, (4) For the purpose of a claim in respect of a child undergoing training the surveyor may require the employer to furnish particulars with respect to the training and the emoluments of the child in such form as may be prescribed by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue. It might be convenient to inform the Committee that this matter was before the last Parliament on 15th June, 1935, when we had a long discussion upon it, and we did so well that we prevailed on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to review the matter again. On that occasion he allowed the Treasury officials to meet certain Members of the House in order to see what could be done in the matter. We had their assistance and drafted another Amendment, which was brought to the House on 1st July, and we on these benches expected to prevail upon the Chancellor to accept it. However, on examination he found that he could not do so, and so to-day we are making another effort to see whether the new House of Commons takes a different view from that taken by the old House of Commons. It is true that the numbers on the other side have not been reduced by very many, and that ours have increased somewhat, and we shall get their support, but we shall still require help from other Members before we can carry this Amendment. I notice that there is a new Clause on the Order Paper in the names of several hon. Members opposite bearing on the same matter, so probably there may be a change in outlook on their part, and they may help to support our Amendment.

The point is an extension of the facilities given for children to take on full-time education. It was recognised in 1920 that some help should be given to children to continue in universities and gain a whole-time education. It was felt that the burden was too great for families to take on, and that help ought to be given. But that point of view was rather narrow and was only for those who followed what is called scholastic education. That is a term that has always troubled me, because what is called scholastic education takes the line, I understand, of meaning just the ordinary education in universities or colleges. I look upon education in a rather wider way, especially now, when we are living in a mechanical age and children have to be educated in other forms of life. It is because of that fact that we are asking the Committee to consider the advisability of extending this Clause to those children who are put to other forms of vocation or profession.

May I outline one or two cases? We will say, for instance, that there are two families almost similarly placed in regard to income and position in life. One family send their child to a college or university, and because of that they are granted exemption. The other family decide that their son or daughter shall be put to another form of education, it may be by being articled to a solicitor or being put into engineering, or something like that, which is essential in these days if we are to get the best out of our children. In the first case exemption would be allowed. In the second case there would be nothing, even though neither family got any help from the children. The argument against it is that it would be difficult to find out whether there was any value coming into a home, because when a person is articled he sometimes has to pay a premium and the premium is paid back together occasionally, with other forms of benefit to the child. That was the point of view of the Chancellor when he resisted our Amendment last year.

This Amendment has been made comprehensive enough to cover all the points that he raised. Instead of this relief being given only for education under the terms of the 1920 Act, it would be extended by the Amendment to any trade, profession or vocation in such circumstances that a child would be required to devote the whole of his time to the training for a period of not less than two years. This period is sufficiently long to avoid any attempt to defeat the object of the Chancellor and gets over the objection that the Chancellor made in regard to the period when our Amendment was moved last year. We try to cover, the question of payment by saying in the Amendment that the emoluments payable by the employer, if they do not exceed £13 a year, shall not be taken into account. No one will argue that £13 can be regarded in any sense as adequate payment for a child who is being trained. We have also tried to deal with the question of premium, and in every way we have attempted to encourage in these enlightened times the idea of getting the fullest form of education. We do not want education to be tied down to university or college education; we want to make it wider and broader in every way. The cost to the Exchequer of the Amendment is problematical, but it is well worth while in order to encourage that broader opportunity for education to which, we think, all families are entitled.

One of the Chancellor's arguments, which I thought was rather sound, was that once he gave way on this point other people who were watching would see that the gate was open and would try to get a little more. Life is like that. You will never keep people from asking for a little more, but if the object is good and sound it ought to be granted whatever the consequences and other requests should be argued as they come forward. We, therefore, ask for this matter to be reconsidered after a lapse of 12 months. Last year it was a fairly new thing. The Chancellor does not take on any form of expenditure without full consideration. He has now had 12 months in which to think over this question, and he is still in a position to grant it. It may be his last opportunity. I am not saying that in any derogatory way of the right hon. Gentleman, for if common opinion is anything to go by, he may get to a higher position. If that is likely to happen, he should not leave some other Chancellor to do this good action. If he does it, he can say to the future generation, "While I was Chancellor I did something for you, and when the time comes and you get the vote, remember what I did for you." However, I am not offering bribes but simply asking for common justice for families who do not send their children to universities.

3.46 p.m.


There was a long discussion on this question last year, and I have taken the opportunity of looking up some of the speeches, including the Chancellor's speech when he said that he would have to refuse the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman adopted a very cautious attitude, but I think that, unless I have misinterpreted his speech, he was in agreement with us on the principle of the Amendment. I suggest also that many of the Chancellor's supporters are in agreement with the principle. Therefore, we are perhaps half way towards getting the Chancellor's agreement to the Amendment. The Chancellor based his argument last year on two grounds. One was that the Amendment would not meet the purpose which the Mover suggested that he had, that is to say, it would not enable the apprenticeship system to be carried out, but rather that it would benefit those with higher incomes who were not entitled to it. He went on to say that if he accepted the Amendment there would be no finality. I take it that the Chancellor must have been somewhere near agreement with the Amendment; otherwise, he would not have suggested that we should bring it up on a further stage.

I maintain that if the Chancellor would accept the Amendment it would do something which all quarters of the Committee would say was highly desirable, that is, it would get the apprenticeship system, which has fallen into disrepute in the last few years, going again. When we listen to discussions like those that took place on the Cotton Industry Bill, when we hear of the lamentable state of affairs which exists in the cotton trade, which show that parents are not sending their children to learn a trade, we must admit that it is highly desirable that the apprenticeship system should be got going again. It has been suggested that it is impossible to get the Government rearmament plan thoroughly going owing to the lack of skilled labour. If the Chancellor will accept the Amendment it will have the effect, in what I may term the lower middle-class families, of some attempt being made to send children into a, trade to learn it thoroughly by way of apprenticeships with or without premiums. It is highly desirable that our mechanics of the future should be as skilled as those of the past.

I have addressed my remarks to the two objections which the Chancellor raised last year, but there is another ground on which I support the Amendment, and that is the ground of equity. If a parent can get an allowance by keeping his child at school up to 16, surely it is only reasonable that, if he would rather send his child out to work to learn the trade which it will eventually follow he should also get the benefit of that allowance. I appreciate the Chancellor's desire to help parents, which is evidenced by the increased allowances he has this year given to parents in respect of their children. As a parent myself, I agree entirely with the arguments put forward by the Chancellor in earlier Debates on the Finance Bill. As to the cost to the Exchequer, perhaps the Chancellor is better able to estimate it than I am, but I hazard a guess that it would not be very great. It has been alleged from these benches by, I regret to say, no less a person than the Mover of the Amendment that the Chancellor is a very hard man. It may be that he looks a hard man, but appearances are often deceptive. I do not think the Chancellor is a hard man; at any rate, I will hold that opinion until I hear what he has to say on this Amendment. But I do put it seriously to the Chancellor that the Amendment is reasonable and will effect the purpose for which it is put down, and I would point out, further, that it is supported not only from these benches but from the benches which support the Chancellor.

3.52 p.m.


I wish to support the Amendment, as I did on the last occasion. I do not propose to bandy compliments with the right hon. Gentleman, except to say that he did prove himself a humanitarian the other day when he "lugged" the boy out of the water. That shows that on occasions he does the right thing. Neither am I going to attempt to forecast his future. That is on the knees of the gods, I suppose, or of the Prime Minister. The argument which I felt to be the strongest that he put forward last year was that if he once started giving way in these matters it would open the door to many other applications. On occasions he does give way, and this is one of the occasions where it is hard to see what similar applications can be put forward. If the right hon. Gentleman makes this concession he meets the only case, I think, which can be regarded as being on all fours with the case of a boy remaining at school, and, therefore, he ought to judge it on its merits, and without regard to what anyone may press him to do in the future.

I take rather a different view of apprenticeship from the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger). It may well be that under present conditions it would be better for a boy or girl not to serve an actual apprenticeship, but to learn, say, for a couple of years how to adapt himself—or herself—to the mechanised system of production which prevails to-day. I think the apprenticeship system has broken down, because there is such a tremendous amount of mechanisation in our methods of production that skilled men in the old sense are not required. I cannot for the life of me see the justification, for parents who may be so well off that they are able to keep their children at school or college getting the advantage of this allowance and it being refused to parents in different circumstances. There does not seem to be any logic or reason for that distinction. I think that on the last occasion the Chancellor was really convinced by the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), but that the Treasury officials who discussed the matter with Members of the Liberal party and the Opposition generally were some- how not able to see how the proposal could be carried out. I really fail to understand what difficulties there can be, and I very much hope that to-day the Chancellor will grant this small concession to parents who really need it.

3.58 p.m.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

This question was originally raised by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) last year, and he will recollect that the form of his Amendment as it was presented on the Committee stage then was open to a number of objections which I pointed out. It is true that his purpose in moving the Amendment, namely, to revive the system of apprenticeship, was one with which I Felt a great deal of sympathy, and it was for that reason that I did offer to allow Treasury officials to assist in redrafting the proposal in such a form as would not be open to the objections which I had put forward. The result was the draft which is now before the Committee. The hon. Member has brought it forward again in the same terms as he put it forward last year after those consultations, which produced an Amendment which, I think, is quite unexceptional in form, and which I cannot say is not practicable. If I was not able to accept the Amendment last year it was not on account of its technical objections, but owing to rather more general considerations. The hon. Member put his case to-day with great moderation and sincerity, and so did the hon. Member who supported the Amendment. It is a case which, on first examination, appeals to us on two grounds. First, there are a good many besides myself and the hon. Members who would like to see the system of apprenticeship revived; and, secondly, there is an undoubted anomaly in, the fact that the parent who keeps his child at an educational establishment obtains a relief from Income Tax which is denied to the parent who puts his child to another form of education, that obtained by training, whether for a trade or a profession.

Let me examine those considerations. In the first place I am sure that the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is a better authority than I am on the subject, but I do not agree with him as to the causes of the apprenticeship system breaking down. It seems to me that although mechanisation has spread very far and wide throughout industry, none the less it has created a new demand for the higher types of skilled mechanical labour. Today the prospects for anyone who has attained the best of that skill are as good as are to be found in any branch of industry. I think the apprenticeship system has broken down because it means a considerable sacrifice for some time on the part both of the parents and the young child concerned. It means that they have to be content with the very small remuneration paid while the boy is learning the trade to which he has been apprenticed. Parents who make that sacrifice may see a very good prospect that the child will get the reward of a better position than he would obtain if he had not got the skill and experience that apprenticeship give him, but in years of trade depression there is no such prospect, and indeed the parent has to face the position that a boy may spend some years in getting practical experience of a trade and bringing nothing into the household at a time when the whole household is probably anxious about its income, and at the end there is no security, no certainty that the boy will find occupation in the trade to which he has been apprenticed. The situation now is entirely different, and I should hope that with the return to activity in the engineering and allied trades the system of apprenticeship will once more come into favour, in the long run with very substantial consequences. Therefore, I would be glad to see the system revived.

The question is, how far the proposal of this Amendment would go to effect that end. I must say that the case for the Amendment seems to me to be very weak. I am taking now the first of the two grounds I have mentioned—what does it really mean; what is the relief which would be obtained by anybody who had the benefit of this concession, if I accepted the Amendment? I am not now dealing with the argument of the comparatively wealthy parent, for I am sure that that is not the case which the hon. Member had in mind. He spoke of the man who is a small Income Tax payer. Let us examine how the Amendment affects him. What is the relief that he will get? It will be only a relief on £60 a year, and not at the standard rate but at the rate of 1s. 7d. in the £. That is under £5 a year. I submit that that is not going to decide the question whether a parent shall apprentice his son or not. If a parent has made up his mind on other grounds that it is a good thing for his boy to be apprenticed, he will not alter that decision according to whether or not he gets this relief of something less than £5.

Now I come to the other argument, which is that this is inconsistent and illogical compared with the relief already given to the child who is engaged in educational pursuits. I frankly admit that there is an anomaly and that the Amendment would remove it, but I have to repeat what I said on a previous occasion, that in removing one anomaly you would create a further series of anomalies. The right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley said that he could not foresee any other case that would be likely to come along. He has not the ingenuity of some of his hon. Friends on the benches opposite. If I exercised my ingenuity in that direction I should have no difficulty in seeing the next case that would come along. It would be said, "Here is the case of a man who has got relief because his child has been apprenticed." He would not be getting more than £5. But it would be said, "Here is another case of a man who would like to apprentice his boy but he cannot find any place where he can get him apprenticed. Why deny him the relief which you give to the man who is really much more fortunate in finding a trade which will take his boy?" When you have made the concession in the case of the young person who is unemployed but would like to be apprenticed, there comes the case where a young person is unemployed because he does not wish to take any particular form of work.

A series of steps would lead us up to the position where all juveniles would be the subject of this rebate whether they were employed or not, and after that we should get the case of dependent relatives and we would be asked how we could justify only £25 allowance in the case of dependent relatives when £60 allowance was given in the case of the child. I may be called a hard Chancellor again in putting forward these arguments, but it must be remembered that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the trustee for the taxpayer, and he is inevitably dragged along the downward path which leads from one concession to another, which removes one anomaly and creates another, and finally he is brought to the position that has so often been reached in other cases where the last stage of a concession which appeared quite small reaches a substantial sum, which, in conjunction with many other substantial sums, involves additional taxation. I very much regret that I cannot give a more favourable answer, because I have genuine sympathy with the object of the Amendment. I cannot accept it for the two reasons I have given: first, I do not think it is going to make much difference; and, secondly, I can see that the grant of this concession would lead to a request for more concessions.


Has the right hon. Gentleman estimated what the cost of this concession would be?


The Amendment, as drafted, would not cost very much—perhaps £100,000 a year; but if it led to the other steps which I have indicated, as I feel convinced it would, the ultimate cost might run into millions.

4.9 p.m.


I confess my disappointment at the concluding part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. In the earlier part of his answer he held the balance fairly equally, and we waited to know the final result of his decision. Even now I do not wholly despair of the Chancellor in this matter. The two sides of the case are so nearly equal that only a little pressure, or a little cajolery on the part of the Government supporters, is required to induce the Chancellor to come down entirely on the side of the Amendment. I would remind him that it is usual for those in his position to do at least one good deed in the course of a day, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will start off by doing this good deed at the beginning of to-day. That would very much accelerate business and improve relations among all Members of the House.

Let me examine briefly the two arguments which the right hon. Gentleman used. The first argument was that it was such a little thing from the point of view of the recipient, that the recipient of the benefit would have to make a sacrifice in any case to get his boy into full apprenticeship, and that while he was making a fairly large sacrifice there was no particular reason why he should not have to make a smaller additional sacrifice at the same time. I do not see that there is much in that argument. It applies equally to all other cases. A man keeps a boy at school and makes a sacrifice, and the amount he gets by the remission of Income Tax in such a case is very small. Yet this House has not disdained to give him that slight relief and the recipient is grateful for it.

There is surely the other side of the picture, brought out by the figures of the Chancellor himself. If the relief to the recipient is small the corresponding burden on the Exchequer is small. The £100,000 which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned as the total cost of the Amendment is not a very heavy burden on the Exchequer, but spread about among the various people who are perhaps weighing in the balance whether they can afford to let their children be apprenticed, it may be a considerable thing. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke not so much about the £100,000 as about the stages which would follow if he granted this concession. He said that by removing this particular anomaly he would be creating other anomalies, that it would be easy, if this victory were won, for greater pressure to be brought to bear on future Chancellors in order to remedy other anomalies. My answer to that is that surely the right decision is to get as nearly to a logical halting-place as possible.

I do not think that the anomaly that would be created if the Chancellor accepted this Amendment would be nearly as great as the anomaly which exists now. It is a very real anomaly. One child is undertaking a certain amount of training in the form of general education. The anomaly is that another child devoting years to another kind of training is put in an entirely different category. The position of the two children is very nearly the same, and the positions of parents who are considering whether to allow their children to go on being trained at school or to be trained in some work are almost precisely the same. The right hon. Gentleman says that if this concession were granted there would be the anomaly that the child who was at vocational training of some kind would get this relief, whereas the parent who had not put his child out to apprenticeship because he could not, did not get any relief. The anomaly there is not very great. I have sat on the Treasury Bench and have had to resist Amendments for the precise reasons that the Chancellor has given—that when one anomaly was pulled down another was created—but I honestly think that in this case the anomaly that would be created by acceptance of the Amendment is rather farfetched. I suggest that the Chancellor would be taking a logical stand in accepting the Amendment. I hope that other hon. Members will support our appeal to the Chancellor and that he, instead of balancing himself levelly on the top of these criticisms, will come down on the right side on this occasion. It will help very much. If he does not, I believe what we have said may help next year's Chancellor of the Exchequer, who-ever he may be, to take a favourable view of this Amendment.

4.16 p.m.


The speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was divided into two parts, and rather reminded me of that ancient volume, "Pros and Cons," although I cannot help thinking that the pros are very much stronger than the cons which came from him. When he speaks of £5, it does not require much exercise of the imagination to picture family circumstances in which £5 would be of very great use. We ought to try to enter into the frame of mind of people to whom £5 is a matter of very great interest. The Chancellor admits that an anomaly exists. If so, why can he not have the courage to do away with it? I suggest it is his duty to do so. He says that he is the trustee of the taxpayers, but he is not a trustee for the maintenance of anomalies the existence of which he himself recognises. His speech seemed a most feeble attempt to find other anomalies which would flow from the new situation, and if he cannot do better than that, the speech was merely an exercise in setting up his own Aunt Sally in order to knock it down. I can well imagine on some previous occasion a Chancellor of the Exchequer resisting a proposal to give an exemption in respect of children at an educational establishment because if he gave way on the point he might be asked to extend it to apprentices. If people are to be as timorous as that, no forward step will be made in achieving justice.

The acceptance of the Amendment would be a notable step, and one particular group of demands for relief would be completed, based on educational work, because a sufficiently extended view of education would have been taken. I agree with every word that was said by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). The proposers of the Amendment have not shown themselves unreasonable because, when difficulties have been pointed out to them, they have endeavoured to meet them and they have tried to safeguard their Amendment from misuse. I appeal to the Chancellor to do justice. If this be an anomaly, and if other unjustifiable demands are put before him on other occasions, let him have the courage to refuse those demands on their merits; but let him not anticipate the future unreasonableness of others, and use it as an excuse for refusing the very reasonable demands made upon him now.

4.20 p.m.


In spite of the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I hope he will reconsider this matter, particularly when he realises how difficult is the position in the big cities, and even in smaller ones, for children who are undertaking this work. Great sacrifices have to be made by their parents. One need only picture the position in London, which I do not say is typical, of children who go to the great shops to learn dressmaking and other sewing trades. Great sacrifices have to be made in the matter of fares and the provision of fees for school and books, and those sacrifices are a great drain upon the family incomes. I assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that £5 is a very serious matter for such people, and that they would be grateful for a prospect of saving £5 by the acceptance of this Amendment.

Apprenticeship has been referred to. Hon. Members who have served apprenticeship, say, in the engineering trades, in which the wages were a great deal less than 5s. per week when they started, can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that those who are responsible for the upkeep of apprentices at such times would appreciate to the full his assistance. I appeal to him to reconsider his attitude. The Amendment does not apply only to apprenticeships. It speaks of two years' training in occupations giving a prospect of reasonable wages at adult age. I cannot see that the anomalies to which the Chancellor referred would arise. I do not believe that people would declare, because they could not get their children into an apprenticeship, that their work was a training and not an apprenticeship. I trust that the Chancellor will accept the Amendment, in order to help the families of these young people.

4.24 p.m.


The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) is to be congratulated upon raising this issue which, incidentally, would have been raised by a new Clause which appears upon the Order Paper, but which I imagine, will not now be called owing to the discussion which we have had upon this Amendment. That new Clause is drawn in much fewer words than this Amendment; whether the draftsmanship is better or worse I am not clear, but the underlying principle is the same in both cases, namely, that we should regard apprenticeship as education.

If I were intending to be a doctor I should go to a medical school, for a period of training which is now six years. If I were the parent in such a case, I should have the advantage of being able to claim an exemption from the payment of tax in respect of that medical student. If the student decided to take up the more lucrative profession of the law—I understand that it is easier to make money in law that it is in medicine—the preliminary training would last about the same time, which I think is about five years. After that, the boy would leave school and be articled to somebody in practice. I understand that when the articles are signed, you pay some money down and that you have to pay Stamp Duty. The young boy is being trained as a solicitor, while in the other case he would have been a medical student. One, as a rule, studies in the offices of a practising solicitor, and the other practises in hospitals, lecture rooms and laboratories. Why any difference should be made between those two positions I cannot understand.

Let us take the case of apprenticeship. I was apprenticed to the engineering trade, although it was only a very short apprenticeship, because I had spent a good deal of time in the engineering school. My apprenticeship was a continuation of the educational process. I had been for some time in the lecture rooms, laboratories and university workshops, and when that period was over I thought I had better do a certain amount of practical work before I could be in a position to undertake designing work or the other work which I wanted to do. I remember that the remuneration was 1d. per hour, which did not seem excessive. I do not see why that should not have been regarded as a continuation of education for my profession.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) has drawn attention to the fact that there is a shortage of juvenile labour. Despite the predictions of the educational experts, who said that when the bulge came, as they termed it, there would be an acute glut, their predictions have not yet been verified.


I did not call it actually a shortage.


The point is that, so far as South England is concerned, every child that leaves school looks for a job and that in a good many cases there are many more jobs available than there are juveniles to fill them. That is one of the problems in the metal trades, which has been particularly affected because of a shortage of the more highly skilled operatives. I do not think anyone will deny that.


I deny it.


The hon. Member for Rochdale represents the unskilled operatives, perhaps, more than he represents the skilled. I am not unfamiliar with the trouble he has with other unions. It is true that 8,000 or 9,000 members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union are without jobs. I think that was the figure mentioned at their annual conference—perhaps rather more; but that does not alter the fact that while a number of skilled men, in certain classes of skill, are without jobs, it is equally true that there is a shortage of skilled men in the engineering trade at this moment. Every skilled man has not identical skill; there are grades of specialisation and subdivisions of skill. There is a shortage of highly skilled labour in my own industry, and unless the situation be remedied we may perpetuate unemployment among unskilled people also.

Surely it is more desirable that we should give every encouragement to people to train their children for the best conceivable position in life. It is worth while making a little sacrifice, although not a sacrifice of principle, upon a certain kind of occasion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the custodian of the national purse, and we merely ask that the word "educational" shall not be limited strictly to educational establishments. I do not know what is to happen with respect to the raising of the school-leaving age. It does not thrill me very much, and I am dubious about the experiment but it will be raised, and it will be disastrous if all the children are turned to a literary education. A great many minds would revolt against that unless they got only very little of it. Many of the children will have a preliminary training in handicraft, and because they are receiving that instruction in the schools the parents will be able to claim exemption. If the same children had left the schools and had been doing exactly the same thing in a factory, that would not count for exemption.

If we could do this in some proper way, it might be of enormous advantage. It might have the effect of making sure that apprenticeship was rather better run than has sometimes been the case. Some firms have been very good; they have had a manager whose business it was to see that their apprentices were properly trained; but in other cases boys have been left to drift along in odd jobs, and, although they were gradually trained, it was not in any very formal way. If the principle were conceded, and the allowance were only granted where it was shown to the satisfaction of the inspector of taxes that the apprenticeship was being properly conducted, it might do a great deal for the young people of this country who want to be properly trained. I do not know what sum this proposal would involve; unfortunately, I missed that—




Even on the basis of £100,000 I think the money would be well invested. I understand that the Chancellor has rather dug his toes in this afternoon, but there will still be another opportunity on Report, and, even if he cannot do anything to-day, I hope he will examine the question sympathetically, because I am certain that this encouragement of training for professions and of apprenticeship would help us enormously in the future.

4.33 p.m.


It is very seldom that we on this side have occasion to agree with the hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), but we welcome his intervention in this Debate, and trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider the speech that he has made. I think that last year the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say he would see what could be done to assist my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) in drafting a suitable Amendment on this subject, and I hope that now the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the matter. I should have thought that, in view of the opinions expressed from all quarters of the Committee, not only in the Debate on this Amendment to-day, but last year, he would have realised that the emphasis has been rather against the manual worker who endeavours to give his son a training of this kind, and in favour of the professional man, who, on the average, has a larger income than the manual worker. Educationists in this country are doubtful whether there is not too great a tendency in these days towards academic rather than vocational training; that point of view always comes to the fore in discussions on education among headmasters and so on. In the present Amendment the emphasis, in my opinion, is put in the proper place.

Surely, also, the Chancellor ought to reconsider this question on grounds of equity. If people who are relatively well off are able to obtain an exemption from taxation in this regard, surely the same should apply to persons who are relatively poor, because they are the people who usually have the larger families. It is people whose incomes are low or who are overloaded with domestic responsibilities that are unable to send their children to the university, and are obliged by circumstances to limit what they can give them to two years' training in this way. I hope the Chancellor will realise that £5 is really a significant sum to a family of that kind. It means a complete rig-out for the year for the child, and that is something which matters, particularly in a large family with a small income. A sum of £100,000 is small to the Treasury, but £5 is a really large sum to a poor family.

Personally, I have little knowledge of apprenticeship. I am attached to an industry in which boys work for a small wage when they are very young. I myself started at 13 as a boy underground, with no apprenticeship, just getting 7s. or 8s. a week. That continued for 12 months. But, if my parents had been able to afford it, I should have been kept at school a little longer, and perhaps apprenticed to engineering or something of that kind. I am inclined to believe that unemployment has been detrimental to apprenticeship. The fact that such a large number of competent craftsmen have been unemployed during the last few years has certainly not encouraged them or others to train their children for engineering or any other craft, and I think the Chancellor is probably correct in what he said on that point. One cannot fail to appreciate also the fact that jobs which, in what might be described as the manufacturing age, were done by skilled men, are now being done by machinery in an age in which the machine produces the man rather than the man the machine. I would ask the Chancellor to reconsider the matter in the light of the fact that, although the sum involved in each case is only £5, it means a great deal to people who are relatively very poor.

4.39 p.m.


I am sorry to say that I did not realise at first that the Amendment which we are now discussing raises the same point which I desired to cover in a new Clause which I put down. I must apologise, therefore, for not having been present to hear what I have no doubt were the forceful and cogent arguments in favour of the Amendment, and also the Chancellor's reply, though I have been made acquainted with the nature of it. I do not wish to press upon the Committee all the various advantages which I maintain would accrue from this assistance to the principle of apprenticeship. Many of us in different quarters of the House who are interested in education from different angles have always felt that the neglect of apprenticeship in recent years has been an educational disaster. We feel most strongly that the education in craftsmanship that is received during apprenticeship is every bit as valuable and as much to be encouraged as the education received in the school, and I do not think my right hon. Friend will seriously combat that view. It has been the policy of the Government, in theory, at any rate, to encourage and support the principle of apprenticeship and the vocational education which it involves, and I am, therefore, the more sorry that the Chancellor cannot see his way to give this practical assistance to that end. It is most undesirable that it should go forth from the House of Commons or the Government that the only education worthy of assistance is academic school education, and that vocational or craftsmanship education should not be assisted and relieved.

There seem to be only two possible objections to this proposal. The one is the fact—I do not know whether the Chancellor urges it or not—that apprentices receive some form of remuneration which is not given to those who remain at school. I have tried since putting down the new Clause to which I have referred, to get some figures to show exactly what that remuneration amounts to, but it is very difficult, because remuneration of this sort varies so much in different industries and according to different employments and different ages. There is no uniformity at all, and to make any general statement on the subject is very nearly impossible. As far, however, as I have been able to gather, there is hardly a case in which the remuneration received by the apprentice is not infinitely less than the relief suggested in this Amendment or in my proposed new Clause, and it would be wrong to suggest that the families of apprentices are in any way compensated for the absence of this relief by the remuneration which the apprentices receive.

I think that the refusal of this Amendment will have the unfortunate effect of weighting the decision of parents and forcing them, in order to get the rebate, to keep their children to academic education. That is a branch of education which is already overfilled, and the tendency will unquestionably be to produce more black-coated workers, who are already more numerous than the places available for them, and fewer workers of the kind that we all want to encourage. The only other objection that I can see to the Amendment is the one on which I understand the Chancellor based his opposition, namely, that it would cost £100,000. I have never been an advocate of expenditure of public money on education or any other service, nor am I now, but I do say that, in view of the vastness of the sums that this Government and all other Governments appear to be ready to find for academic education, it appears to me that, in refusing this very valuable £100,000 for the assistance of the kind of education in question, they are straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel.


I think my hon. Friend was not here when I made my speech. I did not base my opposition on the ground of the £100,000.


I am sorry if I have misinterpreted the Chancellor, but that is a possible objection, and it seems to me that it would not be a sound one, because when you consider the cost of the new and, as I believe, very largely futile Education Bill which we have just passed through the House, I think this £100,000 would be infinitely more valuable to the youth of the country, and to the country as a whole, than the whole of that Bill, and it would cost a great deal less. For these reasons, I urge the Government most seriously to consider whether they cannot see their way to giving what I believe is a most necessary assistance to a neglected branch of education.

4.46 p.m.


I believe that if this concession were granted it would give to apprenticeship and to vocational training a status and a prospect of steady employment which at the moment it lacks. You have this really amazing position, that a boy who goes to a technical school is able to secure for his family some exemption from Income Tax, but if he does exactly the same work in some firstclass firm as an apprentice, it does not rank for exemption. I believe we talk a great deal of cant about vocational training. After all, the two ancient universities were for centuries merely providing vocational training for the parson, the pedagogue and the politician. I very nearly became the first. I only escaped as a brand plucked from the burning. It was when I was at the university represented by the hon. Gentleman who has expressed such surprise that I realised that it would be very difficult to live up to the requirements of that profession, so I fell into the other two. There can be no doubt that there are many boys who really become better citizens if they take their practical course first and through that proceed to the theoretical, as they do in apprenticeship, especially in modern conditions where you can attach the requirement that the boy shall attend some technical school, and in that way they get back into the realm of general education.

This is only £100,000 in a Budget of £800,000,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had every sympathy for the Amendment except the practical sympathy of conceding the principle for which my hon. Friend contended. I should hope that he could go one step further and grant the concession, because it would not merely be a benefit to the families concerned, but it would be a very great national benefit to give to approved apprenticeship, under the stipulations set down by my hon. Friend, the educational status that it really occupies. It would mean a great deal to a number of families who are doing their utmost to see that their boys become useful citizens and get in their early years that mental, moral and physical discipline which comes from the knowledge that for a certain time they have to give their undivided attention to

qualifying themselves for a particular walk of life. That is not the least of the advantages that come from apprenticeship, and I could have hoped that the right hon. Gentleman, who represents part of a City which in itself is a monument of what skilled craftsmen of years gone by have built up, could have seen his way to meet us in this matter.

4.51 p.m.


I have probably had as much experience of apprenticing children as any Member in the House. Backed by the Poor Law, with plenty of money, we had the utmost difficulty in finding the employers and, even when we found them, there was great difficulty in the boys finding occupation after they had served their time. We came to the conclusion that it was due to the development of mechanisation. I should have asked my hon. Friend to alter the Amendment if I bad not read it as meaning that training, whether apprenticeship or not, was involved. It was in that sense that I tried to support it. Even to-day the children who come under the care of the Public Health authorities will have an advantage over other children both in regard to apprenticeship and to training, because public funds will maintain them right through to the end. The right hon. Gentleman's argument as to this being as anomaly which, if rectified will create yet other anomalies, is unworthy of his reasoning capacity. I would ask him to give the matter more consideration so that, when we have the assistance of the hon. Members for Aylesbury (Mr. M. Beaumont) and South Croydon (Mr. H. G. Williams), we may be able to get an Amendment of this kind on Report. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman is not in the mood to do it now, but there is time for him to consider it before Report.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 112; Noes, 212.

Division No. 232.] AYES. [4.55 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir F. Dyke Batey, J. Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Bellenger, F. Daggar, G.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Benson, G. Dalton, H.
Adamson, W. M. Bevan, A. Day, H.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Broad, F. A. Dobble, W.
Ammon, C. G. Burke, W. A. Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Chater, D. Ede, J. C.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Cluse, W. S. Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)
Banfield, J. W. Compton, J. Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.
Barr, J. Cove, W. G. Foot, D. M.
Frankel, D. Kirby, B. V. Seely, Sir H. M.
Gardner, B. W. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Sexton, T. M.
Garro Jones, G. M. Lathan, G. Shinwell, E.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Leach, W. Short, A.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Leslie, J. R. Silkin, L.
Gibbins, J. Logan, D. G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Smith, E. (Stoke)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. McGhee, H. G. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) MacLaren, A. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) MacNeill, Weir, L. Sorensen, R. W.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Marklew, E. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Groves, T. E. Maxton, J. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Messer, F. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hardle, G. D. Montague, F. Thurtle, E.
Harris, Sir P. A. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.) Tinker, J. J.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Ha'kn'y, S.) Viant, S. P.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Owen, Major G. Walkden, A. G.
Holdsworth, H. Parkinson, J. A. Walker, J.
Holland, A. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Watkins, F. C.
Hopkin, D. Potts, J. Whiteley, W.
Jagger, J. Price, M. P. Wilkinson, Ellen
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pritt, D. N. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Richards, R. (Wrexham) Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
John, W. Ritson, J. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.) Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Kelly, W. T. Rothschild, J. A. de
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Salter, Dr. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Charleton and Mr. Mathers.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Davison, Sir W. H. Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) DC Chair, S. S. Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Denman, Hon. R. D. Kirkpatrick, W. M.
Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.) Denville, Alfred Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Aske, Sir R. W. Dorman-Smith, Major R. H. Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.
Assheton, R. Duckworth, G. A. V. (Salop) Leech, Dr. J. W.
Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Dugdale, Major T. L. Lewis, O.
Atholl, Duchess of Duggan. H. J. Lindsay. K. M.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Duncan, J. A. L. Little, Sir E. Graham-
Balneil, Lord Dunglass, Lord Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Lloyd, G. W.
Baxter, A. Beverley Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Lovat-Fraser, J. A.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Elliston, G. S. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Blair, Sir R. Emmott, C. E. G. C. M'Connell, Sir J.
Blindell, Sir J. Emrys- Evans, P. V. McCorquodale, M. S.
Bossom, A. C. Erskine Hill, A. G. MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Scot. U.)
Boulton, W. W. Findlay, Sir E. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Fox, Sir G. W. G. McKie, J. H.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.
Boyce. H. Leslie Fyfe, D. P. M. Macquisten, F. A.
Braithwaite, Major A, N. Ganzoni, Sir J. Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.
Brass, Sir W. Glimour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J. Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Gluckstein, L. H. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Brocklebank, C. E. R. Goodman, Col. A. W. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Granville, E. L. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Gridley, Sir A. B. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Bull, B. B. Grimston, R. V. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Bullock, Capt. M. Guinness, T. L. E. B. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Burton, Col. H. W. Hacking, Rt. Hon. D. H. Moore, Lieut.-Col. T. C. R.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hanbury, Sir C. Moreing, A. C.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hannah, I. C. Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H.
Cary, R. A. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Morrison, W. S. (Cirencester)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hartington, Marquess of Munro, P.
Cayzer, Sir C. W. (City of Chester) Haslam, H. C. (Horncastle) Neven-Spence, Maj. B. H. H.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Br. W.) Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Palmer, G. E. H.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Hepworth, J. Patrick, C. M.
Channon, H. Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Peat, C. U.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Herbert, Captain S. (Abbey) Penny, Sir G.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. J. W. (Ripon) Percy, Rt. Hon. Lord E.
Clarke, F. E. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Petherick, M.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Holmes, J. S. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cook, T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.) Horsbrugh, Florence Pilkington, R.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Howitt, Dr. A. B. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. A. Duff (W'st'r S.G'gs) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Pownall, Sir Assheton
Cranborne, Viscount Hulbert, N. J. Radford. E. A.
Crooke, J. S. Hume, Sir G. H. Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.
Crookshank, Capt, H. F. C, Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Ramsbotham, H.
Crossley, A. C. James, Wing-Commander A. W. Rawson, Sir Cooper
Crowder, J. F. E. Jarvis, Sir J. J. Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Davies, C. (Montgomery) Joel, D. J. B. Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)
Davies, Major G. F. (Yeovil) Keeling, E. H. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Remer, J. R. Smithers, Sir W. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe) Wakefield, W. W.
Ropner, Colonel L. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ross, Major Sir R. D. (L'derry) Southby, Comdr. A. R. J. Ward, Irene (Wallsend)
Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel Sir E. A. Spens, W. P. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Russell, A. West (Tynemouth) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd) Waterhouse, Captain C.
Samuel, Sir A. M. (Farnham) Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Samuel, M. R. A. (Putney) Storey, S. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Sandeman, Sir N. S. Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, N.) Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Sandys, E. D. Strickland, Captain W. F. Wise, A. R.
Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir P. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h) Withers, Sir J. J.
Savery, Servington Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Scott, Lord William Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Sutcliffe, H.
Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. Tasker, Sir R. I. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Captain Hope and Mr. Cross.
Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Touche, G. C.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.