Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £442,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants in Aid, and preliminary expenses in connection with Physical Training.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
It might meet the convenience of the Committee, Sir Dennis, if you would be good enough to indicate whether we may, on this subject, have a fairly wide Debate covering broadly the points of the White Paper, which, I understand, the President of the Board of Education is to explain.
§ The Chairman
As far as concerns the first two sub-heads C.1 and D.1 which are merely increases, the ordinary rule as regards Supplementary Estimates will apply and the Debate will be very closely restricted. As far as Item KK, physical training, is concerned, that is a new service and, therefore, the ordinary rule as to full discussion applies. Perhaps the most convenient way for me to put it would be to say that my present idea is that anything which is covered by the White Paper referred to, No. 5364, will be in order on that topic.
§ Mr. Maxton
Am I to take it that on the physical education proposals there will be a general discussion that will cover both the English Estimate and the Scottish Estimate that follows immediately after, not one Debate on physical education in England and a second Debate on the Supplementary Estimate for Scotland?
§ The Chairman
I should have mentioned that. It is quite impossible to separate the two discussions. The Votes will have to be put to the Committee separately, but the Debate on physical training will have to cover both the English and the Scottish Estimates.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Oliver Stanley)
I am sure that the Committee will be grateful to you, Sir Dennis, for your Ruling, because although my Supplementary Estimate falls under three main heads, elementary education, higher education and physical training, and although the Supplementary Estimate for physical training is much the smallest in amount, yet that is a new service, while the other two are only extensions of the existing service, and I propose, therefore, to devote most of my explanations to the physical training part of the Estimate. It would be for the convenience of the Committee if I explained as briefly as possible the reason for the increases under the other headings. Take first C.1, grants to local education authorities in respect of elementary education. The Committee will see that the excess amount for which we ask is £96,000. Hon. Members will realise that here we are dealing with grant-aided service of the local education authorities. When we prepare our Estimates in the spring all we can do is to make an estimate of the expenditure which the local education authorities will incur during the year and on which our grant will follow automatically. This balance of £96,000 is made up of a number of items, some of which show decreases and some of which show increases, but which on balance show this increase of £96,000.
It will be enough for the Committee if I refer to the principal items either of increase or of decrease. The first is that of the salaries of teachers. Here the reason for the increase is that the reduction of teachers during the year in relation to the fall in the school population has not been as great as was estimated. There are three causes for that. First, it is of course impossible to expect that the number of teachers will fall exactly in relation to the fall in the number of children. There is a large lag in excessive classes to be made up, and that makes any such proportionate reduction impossible. Secondly, we have to remember that although it may be that in many of the older schools the school population is falling, yet with the transference of population we are at the same time building a large number of new schools, and that means that the increase offsets the possible decrease. It has been the set practice of the board, since this 63 reduction in the school population began and since the necessity for some reduction of teachers arose, to insist that those reductions should be made only as opportunity offered, as posts became vacant, and without disturbing the tenure of existing teachers.
The second item upon which there is an increase is that of reorganisation. It is due largely to the fact that at the beginning of last year the Government increased the grant on school buildings to 50 per cent., and is due also, I think, a great deal to what was said in this House during the passage of the Bill last year upon the necessity for reorganisation and upon its value. I think the publicity then given to it acted as a stimulus to local education authorities and caused an acceleration of this work which we did not anticipate.
Thirdly, there is a substantial increase upon the special services—school medical services, nursery schools and clinics, and upon the feeding of children. On this subject a circular was issued by the board at the beginning of last year. Under the heading of decreases there is a substantial decrease in the loan charges and an increase in the product of the 7d. rate means, of course, a further sum.
Next, there is higher education. Here we ask for an additional sum of £424,000. We can roughly divide the amount under two heads, about half and half between technical education and secondary education. The extra expenditure on technical education is due to the very great increase in the demand all over the country for the provision of technical education. Last year the board undertook a survey of the requirements of technical education with regard to rebuilding and re-equipment. The extra expenditure during the current year means that the necessary steps towards that re-equipment have been accelerated by local education authorities and that the rebuilding and re-equipment are proceeding faster than was anticipated.
The increased expenditure on secondary education is due almost entirely to one cause, that is to the size of the classes. Hon. Members know that for many years now secondary school regulations have laid down that the normal number in a class shall be 30 and that the number of 35 was never to be exceeded. During the bulge period, when the accommodation of 64 secondary schools was being spread to the utmost, that regulation was largely relaxed and exceptions to the rule were allowed. Now that the bulge has passed we feel that these relaxations can no longer be allowed and the regulations, therefore, have now to be strictly observed. With regard to the last sub-head of the Supplementary Estimate, there is an increased amount of appropriations-in-aid. It has followed automatically on the fact that there are more teachers. The contributions in respect of their pensions are credited to the board as appropriations-in-aid. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be prepared to answer any questions of detail that arise.
Now I turn to the third part of the Supplementary Estimate, which deals with the preparation for the scheme of physical training and recreation set out in the White Paper. The Committee, of course, will have further opportunities of discussing this scheme. The Supplementary Estimate which I now submit is only for that amount of money which will enable the work to be carried on until the end of March. The Estimates, for next year, of course, will be presented in the ordinary way. There will be a necessity for some legislation and after that legislation is passed it will be necessary to have a further Supplementary Estimate to include the expenditure which will not be authorised until the Bill becomes law. It is, of course, only a day or two since the White Paper was published. In that White Paper we have set out at considerable length the schemes to deal with England and Wales and Scotland. We have not only gone into the details of the scheme, but have also stated some of the considerations which the Government had in mind in arriving at these details. But I think it would be useful to the Committee, even to those who have studied the White Paper, if to-day I were both to amplify the account that we give in the White Paper and also to deal with certain misunderstandings which may have arisen with regard to it.
First of all, I regard the response which this scheme has received from the general public as most encouraging in its character. The criticisms of it and the explanation of it have not been conducted at all on party lines, and I think that that shows a general desire among 65 people of all parties to get the maximum good possible out of the scheme. There is really only one criticism of substance, and that is a criticism not directed at what the scheme is, but directed at something that it is not and something that it was never meant to be. This, as expressed at the heading of the White Paper, is a plan to deal with physical training and recreation. It is not, and has never been meant to be, a plan to deal with nutrition. The least consideration would show how impracticable it would be to try to deal with these two problems at the same time. After all, what does the expression "nutrition" involve? It involves the question of poverty. That means the question of employment. It involves the question of food prices, that is to say the problem of agricultural production and distribution. It involves environment, and that means the problem of housing. As one of the Sunday newspapers said the other day, it even involves the question of noise, and that brings in traffic control and transport regulation. How inappropriate this scheme and that machinery, adapted and designed to deal with physical training and recreation, will be to deal with all these subjects which are involved.
I want to make it plain that physical training and nutrition are complementary and not exclusive. They are two branches of the same problem, both of which must be and are being dealt with. I do not think anyone in this Committee would regard physical training and exercising the body as a substitute for nourishment. I realise, of course, that it would be out of order to deal in any detail with the question of nutrition, but there is one point I would make. It may, of course, and probably will end in my being called too complacent. I am not complacent on this subject of nutrition. I do see the black spots. But I also think that the impression given in this country and to the world that the great mass of the people are so underfed, so weak from the results of lack of nutrition that they are unable to derive enjoyment or profit from physical training and games, is a grotesque mistake. You do not need ears to be convinced. All you have to do is to use your eyes. You have only to go into the schools, even the schools in some of the distressed areas, to the evening institutes of which 66 the London County Council are justly proud, in the poorer parts of London, into the places where physical training centres are being run for the unemployed, to the many playing fields and swimming baths all over the country, and see the enjoyment that is being derived and the profit that is being obtained, to know how false that statement is. Far from believing that this scheme of physical training is exclusive of nutrition, I believe that it can be of assistance to it and that in the course of the working of the scheme we shall gain a great deal more knowledge upon this complementary problem.
Let me turn from what is not in the scheme, which has been criticised, to what is in the scheme, which I believe has been generally approved. First, let me deal with its origin. Attempts are still made in certain quarters to make sinister suggestions as to the reasons for the Government putting this scheme forward. The bogy of militarism, if not actually put in the forefront, is discreetly kept in waiting in the background, but I think that anyone who read the speech of the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison), who has long taken a very keen personal interest in the question of physical training, will agree that, on behalf of hon. Members opposite, he has finally buried that bogy. I do not think the reason for the increasing demand for physical training, and therefore the necessity for increasing the supply to deal with it, is very difficult to find. The answer lies in the schools, in the very great change that has come over the character, the quality and the quantity of physical training in the schools during past years.
We have moved very far away from the old conception of physical training, under which the children, first of all, took care to put on their overcoats and mufflers and then marched drearily round a small asphalt space, under the care of a middle-aged mistress, whose own figure was no advertisement for the system. If you go now to one of the new schools provided with facilities for gymnastics and games, as many of them are, you will see what a different place physical training has taken in the school life. It is no longer a question of a few minutes pushed in here and there, but in many schools it extends to at least three periods. It is not merely the mechanical marching 67 round the playground, but consists of physical training which is devised to be not only attractive but profitable and practical to the children. It means games, the use of gymnastic and other appliances and, wherever available, it means swimming. The result of all this knowledge is that you can ask almost any of the children and they will give you the same answer, that they look upon physical training as a most attractive phase of the school curriculum. As they leave school, liking physical training so much, when they pass beyond the boundaries of the school they demand increasingly facilities to carry on with it. That is the real explanation of the undoubted demand which has grown up in a few years for these facilities for adolescents and adults who have passed beyond the school age.
Having dealt with the origin of the scheme, let me say a few words about its object. This question of physical recreation and training is not a virgin field. Any one who looks at the White Paper will see that we set out an account of the various activities that already exist and the work which is being done by local authorities and voluntary bodies. Very admirable work is being done by both bodies in some areas of the country. It is quite clear that if the Government were to have set up a new central organisation which competed with these bodies in providing the sort of facilities which they now are trying to provide, the new national body, with the great force of the Treasury behind it, would inevitably have ended by forcing the others out of the field. It would have been able to provide facilities so much better, because it would have had at its command so much greater resources, that there would have been a tendency for the other kind of efforts to die out and to allow the new body to do all the work. I think, and the Government feel, that that would have been the greatest possible mistake. It would have meant that we should have been actually reducing existing facilities at the very time that we were aiming to provide new ones. Secondly, we should thereby have dissipated an immense amount of local experience and local good will. Thirdly—and I think this is very important when we are considering what is an entirely voluntary system—it would have meant introducing an absolutely 68 uniform system instead of, as now, being able to cater for all the differing individual tastes. It would have been much more startling and much more dramatic if the Government had come down to the Committee with a proposal for some great new national machinery of this type, but although it would have been more startling and more dramatic, any such proceeding would have been both silly and wasteful. Therefore, our problem was perhaps the more humdrum one of helping existing organisations, co-ordinating their efforts and increasing their resources.
Now I turn to the details of the scheme. Hon. Members will appreciate that in principle the same remarks apply both to the scheme for England and Wales and the scheme for Scotland, and that whatever differences there are between them are differences of administration and practice in the two countries, and do not affect the underlying principles of the scheme. Therefore, the words that I speak for England and Wales apply mutatis mutandis for Scotland as well. The first part of the scheme is to set up a National Advisory Council. That body we hope, will consist of about 30 individuals. I use the word "individuals" advisedly, because they will not be members of the Council as representing, nominated and appointed by any particular body. They will receive invitations from the Government and will be appointed as individuals because of the particular knowledge they have of some branch of athletics, some form of voluntary work, some form of local government administration or of physical training itself, either on its scientific or its practical side.
I am afraid that it is not possible for me to announce to the Committee the composition of the Council. Invitations are going out and some acceptances have been received, but I am sure the Committee will agree that it will not be right to make any announcement until the composition of the Council is complete. I think, however, that it would be right, and I am sure that it will interest and please the Committee, to announce the name of the chairman. I am glad to say that Lord Aberdare has consented to be chairman of the Advisory Council. Lord Aberdare is perhaps better known to the students of the sporting Press as C. N. Bruce. His knowledge of athletics is vouched for by the fact that he played 69 cricket for Middlesex and the Gentlemen, that he was amateur champion at rackets and amateur champion at real tennis. His connection with voluntary movements in the world of athletics to-day is instanced by the fact that he is a member of the International Olympic Committee and hon. treasurer of the National Association of Boys' Clubs. The Government feel singularly fortunate in having secured the services of one whose own experience and reputation will be so invaluable in this work.
The duties of the Council will be varied and will be of extreme importance. They will be partly scientific, and through subcommittees they will be able to call upon the services of many individuals outside the restricted number of the Council itself. We at the board certainly feel the need of some body to whom we can refer matters connected with physical training on their scientific basis. We have, for instance, circulars in preparation dealing with physical training, and we should like to get the opinion of experts, particularly medical experts, upon some questions raised in them. Perhaps the most important part of their work will be more popular than scientific. It will be the work of propaganda and publicity, 'both the bringing home to the people of this country what facilities are available and also how important it is that they should make use of those facilities. This phase of the work becomes increasingly important when we realise that there is no element of compulsion whatever in the scheme and that it has to depend for its success entirely upon persuasion and popular approval. To that extent much of the success will depend upon the work of the Council.
Another of their duties will be to set up local committees. I will deal more fully with those committees later. Through them they will be able to get a general picture of the facilities available in the country and the demand for them. They will be able to suggest to the Grants Committee broad lines of policy, although they themselves will not be concerned with the detailed distribution of individual grants. That will be a matter for the Grants Committee, which will be a body of a different character, a small business body consisting of a chairman and two members. Their duty will be to receive and examine applications for grants and, having received and examined them, to advise as to the dis- 70 tribution of grants, subject to my approval. In England and Wales these grants will be borne upon the Vote of the Board of Education, and it will be the duty of the President of the Board to be responsible for them to the House of Commons.
In the main, the grants that will be distributed by the Grants Committee will not go to central bodies for general use, but will take the form of capital grants in aid of particular projects in particular localities. That is the only way in which we can ensure fair and equal distribution over the country as a whole of the money provided by the National Exchequer. If we were to give to various national bodies or local authorities certain sums which they could spend as they like, there would be nothing to prevent the concentration of the efforts of several of them in the same district, while at the same time another district might be overlooked by all of them. By attributing the grants to particular projects in particular localities the Grants Committee can ensure that no district is overlooked and that in no district is there wasteful overlapping.
§ Mr. Stanley
I was going to describe the working of these applications for grants. I have referred to the local committees which will be set up by the National Council, and it will be for the National Council to determine their numbers and areas. In doing so they will need to have particular regard to the boundaries of local education authorities because the link with them will have to be very close. These local committees will be a sort of microcosm of the National Council. They, like the National Council, will be selected because of their special knowledge of sport and voluntary work, or of local government work, and they will do in the localities much the same work which the National Council will do nationally. They will be responsible for propaganda and publicity and for a survey of their areas. But they will have this one additional task—that all applications to the Grants Committee for projects in an area will come through them, and will be forwarded by them to the Grants Committee for their comments.
I think that the easiest way of explaining how it will work is to take a typical case. Take a small town and consider 71 how we propose to meet a demand for facilities in that town. There are certain possibilities. First of all, the local authority either in its health or educational capacity will be prepared to, and could, provide all the facilities which are required. In that case the local authority could proceed under its existing powers, and if they are able to proceed as a local education authority—especially in view of the extension of powers which are envisaged in the White Paper—it would automatically attract a 50 per cent. grant for capital expenditure and for the subsequent maintenance of whatever it put up. But even though it is attracting this automatic grant from the appropriate department, it is not debarred from seeking to put before the Grants Committee an application for an increased grant. If it were felt that a 50 per cent. grant was not sufficient it could then, if it desired, get further help from the Grants Committee, and would follow the ordinary procedure followed by voluntary bodies by going through the local committee. If the Grants Committee felt that there was some case of exceptional need, if the financial circumstances of the district made it equitable, it would be in a position to give some additional assistance.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am referring to the smallest town which would have an authority for higher education, and I use it only as an illustration. But take the other case, that a local authority is not prepared or is unable to undertake this work. It may be an application from a boys' club to build a new club or extend the premises. They would have to put forward for the consideration of the local committee, and then to the Grants Committee, information which would satisfy them first as to the need for this new club, secondly, as to their power to 72 maintain it once it was built and, thirdly, the amount they thought they would be able to provide locally. If more than one application is made by different voluntary bodies in the same town, the local committee in forwarding them to the Grants Committee would have to say whether in their opinion there was a need and room for both these activities, and, if not, which of them they thought would best supply the needs and desires of the district. Once applications are forwarded to the Grants Committee and fall under their consideration, no rates amount is fixed. It is entirely within the discretion of the committee, but the committee, I think, will normally require that some contribution shall be made from the locality, having regard to the possibilities of local funds, and, above all, they will satisfy themselves that there will be sufficient funds available in the locality for the building to be maintained once it has been set up. They will also impose some conditions as to supervision by the parent body of the particular voluntary organisation. But there is another possibility, that neither the local authority nor any particular voluntary organisation is able to provide these facilities. Then it would be possible for the local committee itself to sponsor a project for a community centre on a new housing estate and submit that application to the Grants Committee in the same way as a voluntary organisation or a local authority.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the other case—that of an authority which is enthusiastic about this scheme but is not an authority for higher education and has, therefore, to depend on the county council; which may he indifferent?
§ Mr. Stanley
I cannot give a local authority which has no power to spend money on a project of this kind the power to do so. The Bill will not do that. Of course, through the local committee on which they will be represented they will be able to exercise a great deal of influence. Let me turn to two other points—I do not want to deal with all the details as to how different projects can be dealt with in different ways—first how the question of playing fields is to be dealt with. Everything is to be left in the hands of the Playing Fields Association and whatever money is available from Treasury grants is to be distributed to them. In 73 that way we shall avoid overlapping especially as there is a close liaison with the King George Memorial Fund.
Secondly, one word on the training of teachers with particular reference to the new national college which under the scheme it will be necessary to set up. That college will be provided and maintained by the Government, and its administration, subject to my ultimate control, will be in the hands of a special governing' body. The tentative idea is that there shall be accommodation for 240; that in the first place it should be for men only, as the existing provision for women would appear to be adequate. There will be two types of courses, both senior and junior. The senior courses are to last for a year, and one of them will be for 30 experienced teachers, to enable them to qualify for posts of special responsibility, organisers of physical training, or directors in large schools. The other senior course will be for voluntary workers, to enable them to act as leaders in settlement or voluntary work. The duration of the junior courses will be for three months. They will be split into halves, one for existing teachers in elementary schools, to enable them to qualify for gymnastic training in the new senior schools, and the other for voluntary workers to enable them to act as instructor leaders in boys' clubs and other voluntary organisations. We shall also have to make provision for some interim supply of instructors and leaders until the college has been completed.
One other word on the question of finance. I have in the White Paper attempted to give some kind of forecast, but hon. Members will realise the difficulty. The National Council is not yet set up, the areas are not surveyed and it is almost impossible to give any real approximation of the amount which will be required for three years. But there has been some misunderstanding of the figures given in the White Paper. The two figures, £2,000,000 for capital expenditure and £150,000 a year, both refer to the period of three years. They are to be concurrent, and not, as I notice some papers think, £2,000,000 for the first three years and thereafter £150,000 a year. What they are is a division between capital and current expenditure. The £2,000,000 for three years is what estimate will be paid out by the Grants Committee in regard to the applications 74 I have described, and the £150,000 covers such things as the expenses of the National Council and local committees, the maintenance of the training college and grants to the central councils for assisting the salaries of teachers, and playing fields.
§ Mr. Stanley
That is a point of detail which has to be settled. It may very well be that we shall charge the voluntary organisations who send their members to be instructed some fees, as we may charge a local authority some fees for sending teachers to the college. I am referring to the net cost of maintenance after the deduction of any fees. With regard to the necessity of legislation, hon. Members will see on page 11 the proposals divided into those which can be done without legislation and those which will require legislation. The introduction of legislation will depend on Parliamentary time, but there will not be any delay. All the administrative machinery as to the setting up of local committees and local survey, and the receipt of the applications, have to be got through before the Grants Committee will be in a position to begin distributing these capital funds.
That is a rough outline of the Government scheme. We purposely have seen that it is not too cut-and-dried. This is a new field in which we shall no doubt have much to learn and much to improve. But in commending these schemes to the Committee I ask for their support irrespective of party, because this, I think, carries no party issues whatever. It may be—I believe it is—the beginning of a movement of very great importance for obvious reasons: not only because we are beginning to realise the value of physical fitness, the value not only to our bodies but to our minds, but because it has an importance which is even greater, and that an indirect one. It would be idle to disguise that we are facing a great challenge to democracy. We try on both sides of the House to defend democracy by speeches and arguments, but at best they are a very indifferent defence. There is only one real defence, and that is to make it work; to show that we can equal the mechanical advantages of dictatorship while still retaining our own individual freedom to think, to understand and to decide. Every observer, quite apart from his political convictions, who 75 has come back from one of the authoritarian States has been impressed with the standard of physical culture in those countries. There the standard is obtained by a system of compulsion and regimentation, a system which is alien alike to our tastes and to our traditions. If here we can obtain the same standard, not by ukase or decree, but by appealing to the interest and convincing the judgement of the individual, I think it will be an outstanding tribute to the value of our free institutions.
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to the instruction of boys and girls in physical training in schools? What plans are being made for proper instructors in the schools? Unless the instructors thoroughly understand the science of physical training, there will be no real benefit from the physical training. What arrangements are being made for duty qualified teachers of physical training in all schools?
§ Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew
I notice that in the original Estimates, in page 3, under C—Elementary Education—there is a sum of £34,518,200, and that in the Supplementary Estimate the comparable figure is £34,450,000. Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how he gets those figures?
§ Mr. Stanley
I think that both the points that have been raised could best be dealt with in the reply, and my hon. Friend will answer them. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Paddington (Vice-Admiral Taylor) will realise that the White Paper does not deal with physical training in schools, but with physical training after school-life.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education has made a careful and a practical summary of the Government's proposals, but I am bound to say that as I listened to him I did not see the necessity for all the advance publicity which has been given to these proposals for almost more than a year and which, now that the proposals are before us, seems to have been very much out of proportion to the tentative and experimental nature of the scheme that has been presented to the Committee. I may say, as a matter of 76 fact, that the main boosting of the scheme has been done by the Minister of Health, and the President of the Board of Education has been very much more modest this afternoon, and of the two, I prefer the way of the President of the Board of Education.
The first feature of this scheme is one with which, I am sure, the whole Committee will agree, and it is that it contains no vestige of compulsion. At the close of his speech the right hon. Gentleman referred to the dictatorship countries, where there is compulsory physical training even for the middle-aged, who, I learn, are now taught as physical training the art of throwing hand-grenades, military manoeuvres and the judging of ground distances. The right hon. Gentleman said that observers coming back from those countries have been greatly impressed. I am not sure they are justified, for in the Press I have seen, as other hon. Members have seen, pictures of masses of men drilling like so many robots, and the impression it made on my mind was that that is a system well calculated to atrophy all power of thinking for oneself and probably, when the day of crisis arises, of standing by oneself. In this country we do not need a system of military pageants to encourage physical exercise, for our people will take natural physical exercise when there are facilities, and if they are are not too much tired by the day's work.
Perhaps I may, in passing, observe that one of the most remarkable changes in this generation is the way in which the love of physical exercise has extended to girls as well as to young men and boys. When I was at the Post Office, it was necessary on account of some administrative question which arose to ask the supervisers of the women in the Post Office to give me a series of sketches of their general interests, their outlook and their characteristics. I was surprised to find that practically all agreed that in the case of young women up to the age of about 25 the main interest was sport, and that sentimental interests were a far smaller obsession with them than they had been with their mothers and grandmothers—so much so that one of the criticisms I frequently found among the girls and young women employed in the Post Office was that a rather delicate girl who could not take part in sport was apt to be neglected.
77 Those remarks lead me to point out to the right hon. Gentleman what I believe, unless he is exceedingly careful, will eventually be found to be the main danger which lurks in this scheme. None of his remarks this afternoon indicated that he has thought of that danger. The scheme is to be based mainly upon the existing voluntary organisations, which are to be given money and to be asked to extend the work which they already perform; but the right hon. Gentleman will find that the existing voluntary organisations work and spend their money mainly on the clerical and commercial class of the community, the sort of young women or young men employed in the Post Office, the non-artisan class. It is, of course, those people, who sit in an office all day, who have need of exercise, and their need naturally attracts the attention of these organisations, but the danger is that in the end it may be found that this scheme will become mainly a clerical scheme, and almost a London scheme, for these organisations are controlled largely from the metropolis. As a matter of fact, it is not the clerical and office class which is most urgently in need of physical improvement. Their work is rather more regular than that of the industrial workers, their wages are a bit higher, and a large proportion of them have had the inestimable advantage to their physique of remaining at school until they were 15 or 16 years of age.
The greatest single stride which could now be taken towards the improvement of the physique of the nation would be to keep children out of mills, factories and mines until their bodies are fully developed, and my whole sense of proportion compels me to tell the President of the Board of Education that his decision, at a time when the public mind was ready to extend the school-leaving age to 15, to pass a Bill which sends 50 per cent. of those children prematurely into industry will do far more to perpetuate stunted bodies and kindred growth than anything he can cure by this scheme, which will operate after the day's work is at an end. Broadly, it is my belief that the main danger of the scheme is that it may be distorted to serve the class that least needs it. I say frankly that I did not find in the Post Office many examples of young ladies who could not get opportunities for tennis and such sports if they 78 needed them, but when I go to my own constituency, where there is a factory and industrial population, I do not find these voluntary organisations at work and I do not find anything like the same opportunities. This leads me to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman on a subject which causes me some anxiety. How far will this scheme assist what I would call physical education as distinct from physical recreation? The new chairman, whose appointment we welcome, is far better known in the field of physical recreation than in that of physical education. I say that because it is quite a mistake to imagine that the playing of games, although it appears to be very attractive from the point of view of health, by itself ensures a high standard of physical health in later life.
I listened the other day to an address by Lord Dawson, in which he pointed out that, as he had watched groups of hikers or footballers or swimmers, he had noticed one shoulder higher than the other, curved backs and defects in the breathing system, which, although they were to be swept aside in the strength and energy of youth, would have heavy toll upon those young people within 10 years. I have mentioned that because, among the factory workers in my own constituency, particularly those in the smaller factories and workshops, who do do not come within these great schemes of some of the organisations, as I have gone round the mills and watched girls for whom these proposals are intended, I cannot say that I have been struck by the need of these girls for more physical exercise. They are having too much. They are chasing machinery all day, and as the machinery is speeded up the chase becomes fiercer and fiercer. Only last night in my constituency, I was speaking to the mother of a girl of 18 who told me that when her daughter came home from the mill where she was employed, all she wanted to do was to go to bed. How, she asked, was a scheme of this kind going to help her girl? That is the test. What are these proposals going to do for girls who are in positions like that? A large proportion of the factory population, especially women, suffer from anaemia. What are these proposals going to do for them? What are these proposals going to do for miners, builders, artisans, manual workers of all kinds—for the hard-working population?
79 I emphasise this point, because I hope that from the beginning the right hon. Gentleman will insist that these voluntary organisations shall not take the easy method of working more intensively along the lines that are already being pursued. An altogether different scheme is necessary. Perhaps remedial exercises are wanted, and certainly what is wanted for the class of which I speak is a fortnight's holiday in camp, in the open air, every year—a fortnight's holiday with pay. I am sure that that would give anaemic girls in my constituency and in similar districts a far greater chance of health than anything else that has been suggested here. But I should like to know whether, under this scheme, it will be possible, in industrial areas, to establish institutions something like the Pioneer Health Centre at Peckham? Unless we can include proposals of that class, we shall be spending money on providing facilities for one section of the population which will not be adapted to the needs of other sections.
I would put to the Parliamentary Secretary one or two further questions. First, how is it proposed to deal with the question of subscriptions and of help for voluntary organisations? I am sure he recognises the problem. The problem hitherto has been, in the field of education as well as other fields, that when you have voluntary organisations carrying on a certain work and the State comes in to assist with State funds, then the voluntary subscriptions are apt to dry up. Firms like Messrs. Selfridges, Imperial Chemical Industries, the Gas Light and Coke Company, and others already have arrangements for playing fields, physical recreation and so on. I should like to know whether any of this money will go to such firms, and particularly whether it will go to save them in respect of extensions of these facilities which otherwise they undoubtedly would provide in days to come out of their own finances.
Now I come to a question which the right hon. Gentleman was inclined to brush aside as irrelevant, but to which I wish to return. In the Special Areas there is already a scheme of physical training in operation, but the Commissioner for the Special Areas has arranged, in connection with a large number of these classes, that the physical training is to be accompanied by the provision of 80 simple meals, because he has come to the conclusion that it will do more harm than good to take energy out, if you are not going to put energy in. Will these proposals enable that scheme to be extended to the whole population—to all who need it? That brings me to the words of the right hon. Gentleman about nutrition. He had in his speech a very carefully-phrased passage on the connection between nutrition and physical training, and he gave what I thought was a rather exaggerated account of the views which apparently we on this side of the Committee are supposed to hold on that subject.
§ Mr. Stanley
I may have exaggerated the views of hon. Members opposite, but I did not exaggerate their speeches.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
In order to have no doubt on the subject, I propose to try to state with absolute precision what our speeches mean and how they differ from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his colleagues—and I am convinced that our speeches would increasingly gain the support of the medical and scientific professions. The Parliamentary Secretary in last week's Debate agreed that physical training given to under-nourished children or young people, might do more harm than good. The hon. Gentleman said that, that being so, where there was the slightest symptom of under-nourishment, physical training would be accompanied by feeding, and he went on to say that discovery of the symptoms of under-nourishment would depend upon the observation of physical instructors, teachers, medical officers and others in touch with the children.
That is the precise point on which we differ from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and our views are supported by the highest medical and scientific opinion. I presume there is no greater authority on the subject than Sir F. Gowland Hopkins, who in his last statement on the subject says quite plainly that there can be a degree of under-nourishment which will gravely undermine the future health of young people and children, and yet not be observed by physical instructors, teachers, medical men and others who are in touch with them. Three or four months ago I listened to an address by a lady doctor to a number of teachers who were engaged in physical instruction. She said in effect, "You have these young people 81 and children before you and your eyes can detect in them nothing wrong to report to any authority but 10 or 20 years hence, these young people will come to me, especially the girls, on account, principally, of anaemia, the beginnings of which are being established under your eyes to-day."
§ The Chairman
I hope the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to develop this argument too far. I had to watch the Minister closely when he was dealing with this part of the subject, and I hope it will be realised that the question of nutrition does not arise on this Vote at all, and is, indeed, expressly excluded from it in the White Paper.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I think, Sir Dennis, if you allow me to proceed, you will find that what I am about to say is of vital importance on the question of the conditions under which physical training is to be given. I would merely say that there is one method laid down by medical authorities of testing whether young people and children are capable of properly receiving physical instruction or training. The method is simple. Those authorities now know the actual quantity of food which the body requires before it can profit from physical training. They know what it will cost and have stated what it will cost, namely 6s. per week, according to the British Medical Association minimum standard, and 10s. a week according to Sir John Orr's optimum standard. In the case of people who cannot spend that amount on nutrition, physical training may be a grave danger, especially if carried to a point where excessive exertion is required. In fact, far the greater number of those who will be covered by these proposals have less than the amount indicated to spend on nutrition and that is why the right hon. Gentleman was not justified in sweeping aside the problem of nutrition as irrelevant to this subject. The White Paper says that the problem of nutrition is engaging the attention of the Government, but up to the present we have had no indication of any new proposals.
§ The Chairman
I am afraid that if proposals of that kind are made, I should have to rule them out of order in this discussion.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I will only say this, that as the right hon. Gentleman him- 82 self stated, the two things cannot be separated. Until the problem of nutrition is solved, proposals which are merely for physical training will be built upon a foundation of feebleness, anaemia and debility.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Sir Francis Acland
We have listened to an exposition of the scheme by the Minister which was extraordinarily clear and with which we were bound to sympathise, and we have also listened to a great deal of wisdom from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), whose speech impressed me very much. I leave the matter as he has put it without attempting to go over the same ground again. Both he and the Minister touched to some extent on the question of nutrition, but as it is obviously near the region of being out of order, I propose in that connection only to quote a sentence from a letter which I got this morning written by a man who holds, perhaps, the highest position in the dental profession and has held it for the last 50 years. He says something which is also interesting, if I am in order in reading it. He states:I have views on the best means of promoting physical health of the adolescent … I am fairly convinced that success can only be achieved by linking up the various means of promoting health—nutrition, medical inspection and treatment, regular periodical dental inspection and treatment, physical training, playing grounds. On a voluntary basis (probably the only possible one), if the adolescents are allowed to pick and choose, they will jump at the playing fields, and to a less extent at the physical training, and ignore the rest, even if offered, not because they have any strong objections, but from ignorance, due to absence of guidance, and lack of initiative and resolution.I agree that it would be absurd to say that the Government should not make any step forward with regard to this extraordinarily important matter of physical training unless they were, so to speak, in the same instrument doing something with regard to nutrition, and I think they will realise sooner or later that unless the country is impressed with the fact that they are aiming at the same sort of progress in regard to nutrition, although no doubt by other means, as they are with regard to physical training, they will find that their scheme for physical training lacks the push and the general support which it is so very necessary that it should obtain.
83 I want to discuss the White Paper, and I am afraid that I shall have to go into some detail about it, but there are, in spite of the Minister's explanations, some things which are really puzzling and, I am bound to say, some things which I think are wrong. One sits down to reading it pretty well knowing what is coming—commissions and committees and co-ordination—which, after 40 years of experience of those things, have become rather a weariness to the flesh, but still they are quite inevitable. Then the Paper discusses the question whether the system should be voluntary or compulsory, and there I entirely agree with the Minister, though not, I think, quite for the reasons given in the White Paper. I believe you could have a voluntary system which would admit of an enormous amount of variety, whereas it says here that compulsion means stereotyping, but the main point is that there is, as we all know, a great deal of enthusiasm, keenness, and steam behind all this sort of work, and it is very much better to take advantage of the interest and enthusiasm which have been spontaneously growing up than to impose any compulsory system, even if it were diversified, from outside.
Similarly, I am sure the Minister is right when he comes down on the side of building on what there is, rather than starting a lot of new organisations. I am not quite sure that the rest of the White Paper carries out that excellent principle so clearly as it is there laid down, but there again it is largely because things are going ahead without a very great deal of official action that it is well to build on what you have. I was interested to get the figures for my own county of Devon with regard to what we call "Keep fit" classes, classes for those who have left school. Two years ago we had only seven, last year we had only 19, and now we have 91. That is spontaneous growth owing to following out the excellent precepts of Circular 1445, and what it has been able to get from the National Council of Physical Training, and so on. That reflects a real growth of keenness in the people, and it is that on which undoubtedly you ought to build. That does not mean that the Minister is not right in saying that you have to have some central body to see that the grants 84 given are in inverse proportion to a district's power to help itself. You cannot deal with a matter of this kind by saying that the State will give 50 per cent., or something like that, of all approved schemes. If you go on that line, you will give some places too much, and in others, which have very little power of self-help, you will not get a move on at all.
One was, therefore, prepared, before one began to read the document, for the suggestions of national bodiesto survey the field and to advise as to the needs of development and as to the way in which they can best be met.Then, of course, as a local administrator, I come to the local bodies with some interest, and I like the idea, so definitely stated in the White Paper, that the committees should cover bigger areas than those of the local education authority. In my own area, though it might be difficult, I feel it would not be impossible to work with places like Plymouth and Exeter and so on. There is very much to be said for the idea of regionalism in many departments of our national life. I happen to have tried to talk about it lately on the wireless, in the Western Region, and if I was starting almost any new scheme, I should be in favour of getting authorities to work together in larger areas almost every time; but the question arises whether it is wise, as this is in many districts a fairly actively going concern, with people already engaged in promoting it, to try to alter the present organisation too much. May I offer the Minister a formula which I have found hitherto to apply? I think he might consider whether it is not true, and whether, if it is true, it does not affect the obvious fact, which we all acknowledge with so much gratitude, that one should get a move on in this matter as soon as one can. My formula concerns the ratio between pace of progress and enlargement of existing areas, and it is this: The pace diminishes in inverse proportion to the square of the figure by which the area is enlarged, by which I only mean this, that it you double your area, things take four times as long to settle, and if you multiply your area by three, things take nine times as long to settle. That really is so. The difficulty of getting consents and so on and making new areas from existing areas which have already justified themselves is really extraordinary in practice.
85 Now I come to look at the local committees, whether they are to be in existing or bigger areas. They are to stimulate local interest and co-ordinate local effort. Well and good, though one always feels that that blessed word "coordinate" needs defining and is rather difficult. They are alsoto examine the needs of their areas and to consider how any unsatisfied needs could best be met.That, I thought, was encouraging. It looked like making the local committees work out a scheme and make themselves responsible for putting forward definite recommendations as to what needed doing, what local contributions were to be expected, and what national help would, therefore, be needed. That is not, though, quite what is said. I am quoting again:They will constitute the channel through which applications to the Grants Committees for grants will be made, and when forwarding applications they will express their views as to the relative importance of the various proposals and the extent to which their cost could be met from local sources.That is not in so many words putting the local committees in charge, but I thought it would work, because clearly it is rather suggested that if a local committee, in forwarding proposals say, from towns in North Devon like Barnstaple, Bideford, and Ilfracombe, found that one of them asked for twice as much gymnasium area per 1,000 of the population as the others, or offered only half as much per 1,000 of the population in local contribution, the views of the local committee, if it was working on a reasonable basis, about requirements and contributions would be taken by the central authority. Therefore, in effect what is said here would mean that the final production of a scheme by the local authority covering a whole area would be very much part of the picture of the working of the scheme. That picture seemed to be borne out when one read that those committees, those new local committees would have a paid secretary and that their expenses on an approved basis would be refunded.
All that seemed then fairly plain sailing and to fit in with one's ideas of what would work most easily, but then one came to the section dealing with the allocation of grants, and, frankly, one seemed there to break away almost altogether from the idea of a comprehensive, co-ordinating scheme put forward by a local committee. I am being careful not to misquote, and 86 I am sure the Minister will follow me. The White Paper says with regard to grants for gymnasia and gymnastic equipment that the central Grants Committee is to consider each particular case and to make its grantsdirectly in aid of particular local projects.Lower down they talk about "individual capital projects." Local projects are to be, as I understand, a scheme put forward by a local committee, properly coordinated, but it might be possible for, say, an athletic club in one town to have a local project for a gymnasium and for a Y.M.C.A. in another town to have a local project, and so to have rival schemes for gymnasia.
§ Mr. Stanley
I think the right hon. Gentleman is making rather heavy weather, because surely that is dealt with in the previous sentence. These projects, before they get to the Grants Committee, will have to pass through the local committee and the local committee will comment as to which, if either, or both projects fall within what they consider a proper area.
§ Sir F. Acland
That, with great respect, is not in the White Paper, because it goes on to say that it will be for the central Grants Committee to consider these local projectswith a full knowledge of all local circumstances.With the greatest respect, you must not rely on a central Grants Committee to obtain a full knowledge of the local circumstances. If I had full knowledge of the local circumstances in a tenth of my area, I should know a great deal more than I do. You ought to rely on your local committee, and you should not say that it shall be for the central Grants Committee to have full knowledge of the local circumstances of each particular local project.
§ Mr. Stanley
I think the right hon. Gentleman has misquoted the circular. It does not say that the Grants Committee must have this local knowledge, but that, dealing with the whole of the schemes coming up from local areas to the Grants Committeeonly in this way can it be secured that the grants are equitably distributed between one area and another.The reference to full knowledge of local circumstances would apply to the whole system of filtering these applications up through this local committee.
§ Sir F. Acland
I am very glad to have that reassurance because I have discussed it with local administrators and we had come to the same misunderstanding about it. My point is that although Part V, which gives the outline of the scheme, lays, I gather, the same emphasis that I have laid on the local committees we get in Part VI, paragraph 15, not only the idea of grants being given directly in aid of particular local projects, but the idea that it will be for the Grants Committee fully to inform itself of the local circumstances which must be wholly for the local committee to work out in consultation, no doubt, with the central committee. When the local project is not a gymnasium, but a playing field, you do not apply to the central Grants Committee but to the National Playing Fields Association or the King George V Memorial Fund, but not to both. If it is a swimming bath you apply to the district council which, under one of the sub-paragraphs of paragraph 27, may be assisted by the county council. If the area is sufficiently poor, the central Grants Committee can help. If you want a camping site you apply to either the central or the local body as seems more appropriate. I should have thought it would have been a good deal simpler if you had said that all the applications should go to the responsible local committee and be welded together into a scheme for the local area, and had not indicated that applications for grants should be made in different ways according to the four different purposes which are detailed in this part of the White Paper.
§ Mr. Stanley
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not mind my interrupting him again. Has he thought of the kind of difficulty of an area like Manchester which wants to get camping sites which obviously will be provided in the locality of another area? It seems to me that that kind of case can be covered only by applications to the central authority.
§ Sir F. Acland
No doubt in such a case that would be so, but there again I think it ought to come to the responsible local committee, on which those interested in camping sites will no doubt be represented. I am sure the Minister will realise that I have no desire to misrepresent or deliberately to muddle up a scheme which is clear, but the point is that, even to a careful reader, it seems a little as if Part 88 V, which appears to lay emphasis on the local committee, and Part VI, which details the method of making applications for grants, has been drafted by people who are not able to carry out that coordination of one view with another which is stressed as an essential part of the scheme.
Arising out of that, although some of my difficulties have been cleared up, I think that the Government must make it a little clearer whether they intend to press the local committees to work out schemes for their areas or not. Local authorities are accustomed to that sort of work under the Public Health Acts and the Education Acts, and the education authorities are already accustomed to deal in a very friendly and satisfactory way with all sorts of outside organisations. They give, for instance, grants under the guidance of the central body to the Workers' Educational Association and the Red Cross Society, and schemes for adult education are worked out in close contact with the local university or university college. That sort of working with other organisations, while keeping the responsibility all the time in the hands of the local education authority, is well known and works all right. I hope that the Minister will not be too anxious to set up new apparatus altogether and to depart from the local education authorities which are accustomed to the sort of thing which is here sketched out.
That idea of trusting to the local committee seemed to me to be indicated when we come to the idea that the central grants committee would consider local projects in the light of full knowledge of local circumstances. That would still leave the central body with plenty to do without asking them to decide between the respective merits of local projects and the respective needs of neighbouring towns like Barnstaple, Bideford, Newton Abbott and Torquay. The central body would have to get some idea of the sort of accommodation that might reasonably be required if an area were to do its duty by all the different types of people who needed help with regard to such things as gymnasia and public halls. It is one of the advantages of this new idea of physical training that you do not always want a fully fitted gymnasium. You can do a great deal in an ordinary hall if there is room for the storage of equipment. Then there will be camping sites, playing fields, swimming baths and so 89 on, and it may be that they would work out a different standard of what is reasonable in town and country, and get a sort of yardstick by which to measure the different proposals put forward by different local bodies. More important than that would be the task, which the Minister touched on and of which we are bound to see the difficulty, namely, of working out what sort of scale of assistance ought to be given to the different types of areas, varying from perhaps very little in some areas to perhaps 100 per cent. in others, unless the Commissioner for Special Areas were willing to provide the money. That suggested to me the simple idea of trusting the local body, which will normally be a committee of the local education authority with co-opted members, to do the job of preparing the schemes, leaving the central body to do the job of approving the schemes and assisting them on fairly definite principles.
That leads me to my second point. Vastly important as this new aspect of physical training is, let me retort to the Minister, who suggested that I was dealing with it rather heavy-handedly, that I think the Ministry ought to be careful not to treat it with too heavy a hand and not to differentiate it too much from all the other things that are being dealt with by one authority or another at the present time. It is closely akin to and intermixed with adult education in general, which is one of the primary duties of an education authority. I hope the Minister will not try in the central or the local administration to pull it too much away from the administration of things like that, which have settled down in a good and reasonable way. I hope that he will not be tempted—I believe he will not, but the writer of the White Paper or somebody has been—to say, "Look what a nice lot of new machinery we have made."
Who will be the people to do the work? Who will arrange that your hall or gymnasium will actually be used, as one hopes it will, every evening of the week by one or other class or society for all this splendid new work? Who will recommend the local leaders for training courses or refresher courses? Who will try to arrange, say, with me, that I should put up a changing hut or diving board so that my bit of stream will be available for swimming classes for grown-up people 90 instead of for children as at present. It should be done by an organiser of physical training under the local education authority. He is the person whom we were not only requested but almost required to trust under Circular 1445, and, having got accustomed to that, are we to break away from it instead of building up this new idea round the people who are actually doing the work now? He and the officials over him will be glad to get all the help and technical advice they can from the national bodies. The Central Council of Recreative Physical Training is doing admirable work. When it is a question of playing fields they will be glad to get the technical advice of the Playing Fields Association as to tenure, model rules, trustees and other things. There will be lots of scope for these outside bodies, but I hope that the Minister will not try to create a lot of new machinery for the sake of creating it.
Do not let the Government try to rush this too much. It is very natural to want to do it or the main part of it in three years. It would be unworthy to suggest—I have not even a suspicion of it—that this is done partly with the idea that at the end of three years the Government will be able to say at the next General Election, "We have done this job." It is not a job that can be done in three years, and I am glad to see that the Minister agrees with me about that. There is a good deal to be said for taking the wave at the flood, because there is a wave now. There is also a good deal to be said for letting the flood find its own channels and canals; for giving the responsible local people chances of putting their heads together, of letting the ideas that come up at different places soak in, and of justifying ideas in one place before they become adopted in other places. If the idea gets about—it is rather suggested in this Paper—that unless you can get the schemes all ready in the three years they may be left out, it will be a great pity. It we can make that a little clearer it will be useful because, as the Minister knows very well, even if you were ready now to instruct the architect to prepare plans for gymnasia and had got guarantees of local subscriptions, it would be unwise to try and rush a great deal of building now, because in a great many counties the energies of local contractors who can be trusted best with that local work will be taken up 91 very likely on the senior school programme, on which most of them are hard at work at the present time.
These are my three points—make the local authorities responsible for working out the details; do not create a lot of new machinery; and do not try to rush it too much. They boil down to this criticism, which I have heard from people in a better position than I am to judge, that the Board of Education never makes a breeze unless it is a gale. They take up a new idea with wonderful enthusiasm and are a little inclined to make too heavy weather with it. As I have been engaged rather in destructive criticism, perhaps it would not be right to conclude without making some little constructive suggestion. I am not sure that it would not be better to build on the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training which, we are told, includes representatives of more than 100 organisations, rather than to create a brand new National Advisory Council. There would have to be persons whom the Government could trust on the executive, and some other organisations represented. I would draw the Minister's attention to this point, that if he looks at the paragraphs which describe those two bodies, he will find that they are in almost exactly the same words. On page 3 we have it stated of the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training:It is concerned to advise as to the provision of suitable facilities.And on page 6 the National Advisory Council is described as:To advise as to the needs of development and as to the way in which they can best be met.Those seem very similar phrases, and if we do not take care we shall have two bodies doing the same work and we shall have to appoint some other body to coordinate them and to avoid overlapping. As to the grants committees, while I do not want to put up a nine-pin to be knocked down, though I should like to have it knocked down, I do not see why there should not be simply a new branch at the Board of Education strengthened, if that be the right word, by officers from the Ministry of Health. I do not see why we should have to set up these outside grant committees. All this special appointment of special new committees only means more fuss and more expense and not necessarily more efficiency. I 92 believe that efficient co-operation between public departments can be secured without doing that. We have such co-operation between the Ministry of Labour and the Board of Education in the everyday work of the Juvenile Instruction Centres, and why there should have to be special grant committees to administer this scheme, which is only an expansion of adult education and graining, I do not understand.
As my last point I ask the Minister whether he is quite sure that it is right to give the National Playing Fields Association an independent power of distributing grants. They are a very eminent private body, but it would be, after all, rather a new departure, and if in a local scheme one has come to the conclusion that, say, North Devon wants a certain percentage of help and South Devon wants less, the National Playing Fields Association might entirely reverse those proportions in its grants, and that would lead to a great deal of local difficulty. I would conclude by relating to the President a very simple story which this whole document brought to my mind when I had finished studying it, because I think that it does over-weight things unnecessarily. A Yorkshireman who had been magnificently entertained in America by a friend was visited by that friend and thought that the least he could do would be to offer him a drink. He asked him what he would have, and the American said, "I guess I'll have champagne." The Yorkshireman said, "Well, guess again, and guess summat nearer tuppence." I wish the Minister would guess again and guess a scheme which did not contain so much new structure, but proceed rather more clearly with the structure he has.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Sir Francis Fremantle
The right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) referred a good deal to medical opinion in this matter, and seemed to condemn the scheme root and branch on the ground that the medical profession had made various remarks which pointed in certain directions. It is true that physical exercises are no end in themselves and cannot be conceived as necessary in themselves, and it is also true that in order to get proper results from physical training and recreation there ought to be proper nutrition and medical attention— 93 proper school doctoring and attention to dental defects and the like. But that does not mean that we must wait until we have perfection in those things before bringing forward a scheme of physical training. The general trend of the right hon. Gentleman's criticism seemed to condemn the scheme as useless unless it was to go forward pari passu with the provision of nutrition. I agree that we ought to improve nutrition, but supposing it were the case, which it is not, that it were impossible to improve the nutrition of the people, I should maintain, the medical profession would maintain and common sense would maintain, that an improvement in the facilities for physical training would be of itself a great advantage to the people.
The second point of his criticism was that this scheme is directed more to the interests of the clerical class, including, I suppose, drapers' assistants and so on, who by the hundreds of thousands play football and do athletics upon Saturdays, rather than to the industrial class. That may be true in one way, but it seemed to me he was giving an emphasis which could arise only from a desire to make party points. Of course, when a good scheme like this is brought forward by the Government the Opposition cannot officially allow it to be said that it is a good scheme, such as they would regard it if introduced by themselves; they must say that it is really a small matter and overshadowed by the fact that we are not keeping the whole of the wage-earning class for nothing and paying all their expenses. It is true that this scheme being a voluntary and not a compulsory scheme will be taken most advantage of by the bodies which are represented in the big central associations. It is difficult for the manual workers and small wage-earners of either sex to get proper physical training, and it would be difficult for them to get the same facilities under these associations. But that is part and parcel not merely of the wage system; and I do not think it is mainly that, because we must remember that Saturdays and Sundays are generally available, and I hope will be more and more available, to the great mass of the industrial wage-earning people.
One has to realise, too, that the voluntary system does depend upon the 94 people being prepared to organise themselves in voluntary organisations. It has been the experience of all of us who have tried to help-on the communities in which we live that it is extremely difficult to get those who have been educated in the ordinary elementary schools to take the initiative and to give the leadership which is required to make these voluntary organisations go. I do not stand up for the system of education of one class as against another, but there is no question that residential public schools, which I had the advantage of attending, have this advantage, that the children are thrown on their own resources at an early age. From the age of 10 onwards their initiative and responsibility are brought out. You get a public opinion being formed among those children, boys or girls, who, by degrees, have to learn among themselves how to fit in, and those who are able to take the lead take the lead. In a properly-organised public residential school you get a system in which nearly the whole of the recreation of the school is run by voluntary associations and leadership in those schools.
It is true that that system is by degrees being brought into the secondary school system, and, I hope, into the elementary school system, but at present it is very difficult, among the less fortunate classes, to get the leadership required for these voluntary organisations. Therefore, we meet here with the real crux of the problem, that we must either get these organisations run from without or have them compulsory; or, on the other hand, we must leave them voluntary arid partially open to the criticism which comes from the Opposition Front Bench, that the scheme will not apply to the full extent to the lower-paid classes. Finding ourselves on the horns of that dilemma, I feel there is something to be said for a compulsory system of recreation when considering the ideal of physical education. Nobody objects to compulsory mental education, to compulsory mental exercises, hateful as they may be to the children. [Interruption.] I should think there is not a single boy or girl who has not at one time or another hated the compulsion of lessons.
§ Sir F. Fremantle
Go to any school and ask the children whether they like their lessons. They will like one lesson or another—but compulsory lessons!
§ Sir F. Fremantle
No, I am thinking of ordinary village schools, of the ordinary children to be found in schools. It is human nature. It is the same with regard to recreation. If games and athletic exercises are compulsory they also are liable to be hated by those who are less attracted to them, though compulsion is not objected to by those who shine at them. In a scheme for the whole community I am not sure that we should not get better results by having the compulsory system of education extended to include a compulsory system of recreation. Why is it objected to? It is objected to by many as a matter of dogma. I think the Opposition must recognise that they, as a matter of dogma, object to compulsory physical training because they are afraid it will lead to militarism. Let us recognise that bias. If anybody is prepared to support the armed forces of this country, I cannot understand why they do not agree that every person in this country should be trained to do his or her part, if necessary, in defence of their country.
§ Sir F. Fremantle
Apart from that, we are dealing purely with the physical education of the community, and are we to get the best results by compulsion or otherwise? This proposal of the Government seeks, first, to create in the public mind a realisation of the value of physical fitness, and, secondly, is directed to the provision of facilities. We have thought hitherto that education of the mind and, to a certain extent, education of the character were desirable, but we have not thought that education of the body is equally desirable. I am sure that all educationists are agreed that we want to get back to the old Greek classical ideal, which was that it was as essential to the complete being to have education of the body as education of the mind and of the spirit. I want the three to go together.
At one of my schools I had as a colleague a boy who was afterwards a rather distinguished Member of this 96 House for a few years and was distinguished outside Parliament. While at school he was studying for the school classical scholarship, and in the term in which he was working for it he ran with the beagles three days a week. That is the hardest kind of exercise that anybody can have. He ran for about three hours over fields and so on, arid at the end he used to come back and work hard all the evening. The result was that that boy, by combining physical and mental exercise, won through.
§ Sir F. Fremantle
He was fairly well fed. Of course, we want them to be sufficiently fed in order to be able to carry out that ideal. I would emphasise the point that as you must obviously go in for the voluntary system, the children having left school and being no longer under compulsion, you must have a voluntary scheme, which will have the great advantage that it will depend upon organisation and proper co-ordination. That will call up the power of leadership and initiative, which are so valuable and are qualities so essential in man whatever purpose he is carrying out.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted; and, 40 Members being present—
§ Sir F. Fremantle
I was saying that the voluntary system is essentially creative; it is good because it is creative in the individuals who work it. I agree that we do not need to have more new machinery than we can help. There is, among the existing machinery, such an excellent body as the Central Council for Recreative Physical Training, but the difficulty about that body is that it is essentially recreative. I think that the recreative side has to take the first place in this scheme, but that body was found incomplete by a good many people, and they formed, in association with it, a corresponding body called the National Federation of Personal Health Associations. Those bodies are concerned with personal health and not only with recreative physical training. It is a wider body, although it is of less importance from the point of view of those who support it in the subsidiary bodies. About 20 different constituent bodies work with it. As the Minister said in the course of his speech, you want people who are scientifically interested in the matter to 97 try to work out, either scientifically or academically, the part that physical education is to play in the new scheme of fitness in the community.
The White Paper says that the scheme is dependent upon public opinion, and that we have tocreate in the public mind a realisation of the value of physical fitness for its own sake.How can you do that? There are two things: One is that the public mind is formed by the children in the school, and that it is largely created by opinions which reflect themselves, with considerable amendment, from the middle-aged people with whom the children are in contact. The opinions which the school children get during their school life will help them to develop themselves in after years. For that reason we should carry on with physical exercises in the schools. Let us remember for this purpose that competition seems to be necessary. Merely exercising daily in classes of one kind or another does not seem to be good without competition, which, however, may be overdone. A good many of us know that the competitive system is becoming an absolute durance vile to those who have to take part in it, but you want competition between class and class, house and house and village and village in order to get people keen on those forms of athletics which are capable of being subjected to competition. Many children and others cannot go in for the competitive system because it is bad for them to do so, and we must provide for them. We want them to realise that it is quite as admirable an ideal to be keen on walking, viewing scenery, studying nature, gardening or camping, as it is to take part in athletic games. There is a danger in the worship of games as such, although it is very much inculcated by the newspapers and by the enonnous holiday crowds who go to visit football and cricket fixtures.
§ Mr. E. J. Williams
Has the hon. Gentleman taken into consideration the large number of boys who go to work in mines and of small children who go to work in factories? Is he taking those children into his calculations at all?
§ Sir F. Fremantle
Very much so, because I said that if they could not go in for games they could go in for gardening. The miners are very great gardeners. The difficulty is very much for the middle-aged. Many young people from 25 years 98 of age onwards cannot pursue strenuous athletic pursuits any longer, and that is why I want to develop facilities for the middle-aged as well as for the younger people. I am glad to see that considerable provision is made for such matters as hiking, riding, swimming and gardening; such pursuits should be developed as much as possible. What do the young feel? They feel that the idea is being pressed upon them from the middle-aged, but they see the middle-aged people, potbellied, over-clad, over-dressed and overfed, waddle up to see local competitions but taking no part, and discarding any idea of trying to be healthy in body themselves.
§ Sir F. Fremantle
It would be a very good thing indeed. One of the things I should like to see is a Thames barrage, as a result of which you could have clear water all the way from Woolwich upwards for bathing establishments on both sides of the Thames. I want to provide for the middle-aged as well as for the young, and such a scheme would enable us to do so. The medical profession as a whole would be all out to help you in this scheme. One last point is that it is essential to teach people the ideal of a healthy body and of constructive physical health. You want a change of medical education; you need applied physiology.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member is going far beyond the limits of the Debate.
§ Sir F. Fremantle
I was saying that the medical profession would help the scheme. You want the whole of public opinion behind the scheme, which is I think the only basis for beginning the age of the new idea of physical education.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
The hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) seems to be unable to understand why Members on this side of the House always return to the subject of nutrition. May I give him a simple illustration affecting the part of London with which he is well acquainted? We have a football club in my constituency whose name is a household word. Those who are responsible for managing the club have for many years taken a keen interest in the welfare of the young. As 99 a part of that policy, they last year arranged a football match on their ground between a team of boys from the depressed and Special Area in South Wales and a team from North London. The boys from the Special Area were selected as the best boy footballers that could be obtained; their average age was 17 years. The boys in North London against whom they were pitted had an average age of 15 years. I went to see the match, and when the two teams came on to the field it was found that the boys from the Special Area were almost two inches shorter in stature and several pounds lighter in weight than the boys from North London, who were two years younger.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I have been informed by the Chairman of Ways and Means that the question of nutrition does not arise on this Vote.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
Allow me, Sir, to read from the first page of the White Paper:With regard to the problem of nutrition action has already been taken in many ways.I want only to add that on this side of the House we are perhaps a little nervous that in the publicity accompanying the launching of this scheme, public education may be diverted from the extreme urgency of the matter to which I have just referred. I welcome the scheme. I could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman below the Gangway went out of his way to make an appeal to the Government not to go too fast. If the Government go ahead with their proposals as quickly as they can we may achieve many beneficial results.
The White Paper gives a list of the organisations that are referred to as being the most important. They include the Ling Association of Teachers, the League of Health and Beauty, the English Folk Dance and Song Society, the Margaret Morris Movement, and the National Association of Organisers of Physical Training. It is not my purpose to be critical, but I recently attended a demonstration given by one of these organisations—the League of Health and Beauty—and, while I was struck with the excellence of the training, I was also struck by the fact that they did not appear to have touched the most deserving class of the community. For example, they 100 were about to open weekly classes in the part of London which I represent in this House, and they had decided that those classes should start at six o'clock. Anyone who understands the kind of people who are most in need of this training should know perfectly well that it would be no use starting classes at six o'clock, and I told those responsible that I thought they were appealing to quite a different class from those who were most in need of it. I hope that, so far as some of these organisations are concerned, the President of the Board of Education will use his influence to see that they direct their attention, I will not say less to middle-class people who are comfortably off, but more to those who are most deserving.
In this connection I should like to make a suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that invitations had been sent to certain people to join the National Advisory Council, not as representing organisations, but as individuals. I commend to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman—it may have been already done; I hope it has—the desirability of asking one of the leading members of the Football Association to serve on the Council. There has been a considerable change in the work of the Football Association. Films have been produced, lectures have been arranged, coaches and tutors have been sent out, and it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman ought to grasp with both hands this opportunity of associating with the Council a representative of that very powerful organisation. In the North of London we have taken some preliminary steps towards bringing into existence a community centre and in this connection also I should like to make a suggestion. If the interest of the powerful authorities who are responsible for the game of association football in this country were to be aroused, I feel sure it would lead to very beneficial results. The club which I have already mentioned, and which is sympathetic towards this kind of work, has already offered voluntarily, not only to take an active part on the community centre which we hope to set up in our district, by offering certain cups to be played for by juniors, but also to use its influence to get its own players to attend the community centre in the capacity of leaders. Everyone knows what a tremendous appeal it would make, to the 101 boys especially, to be able to say that they belonged to a community centre of which, perhaps, international football players were members, and if they were able to go and see the way in which they trained. I can think of nothing more calculated to appeal to the young idea and make the centres more popular, and I hope that the possibility of putting it into practice will not be overlooked.
I should like to make two quotations to show the difference between the scheme introduced by the President of the Board of Education this afternoon and the method which is followed in certain other places, and which seemed to have somewhat of an attraction for the hon. Member for St. Albans. The White Paper, on page 5, says thatPhysical fitness has a vital part to play in promoting a healthy mind and human happiness.My other quotation is from the recently issued syllabus of the Nazi Academy for Physical Education. The following statement, on page 294, shows the way in which Germany looks upon this problem:Physical exercises constitute from early childhood and youth a preparation for the skilful handling of arms by the future soldier. Test exercises for the sports badge include grenade target throwing in all positions, long-distance grenade throwing, pack marches, target practice and military reconnoitring.I think that, if one were asked to choose between the two kinds of recreation, however much some of us may feel called upon to criticise the right hon. Gentleman, we should certainly come down straight away on the side of the proposal that he has made as against the one I have just quoted.
I should like to ask the President of the Board of Education to try to obtain some further information as to the position of Part III authorities in this matter. Let me take the example of a small town which is a Part III authority and which I help to represent in Parliament. It has a population of 160,000, and is not responsible for higher education, which comes under the county authority. We have been making preparations for some time to establish a community centre, and, to use a hackneyed expression, we are straining at the leash, ready to get off the mark and to do our best to make the scheme a workable one; but our difficulty is as to how we are going to arouse an equal degree of enthusiasm in the 102 county authority, which is the responsible authority. Perhaps, if I put my point in the form of a question, the Parliamentary Secretary, when he comes to reply, may be able to give an answer. The question I would ask him is: Will the scheme that we have prepared be taken out of the hands of the county education authority for decision, and shall we be able to submit it to the newly formed local committee, or direct to the Grants Committee, for their approval of grants-in-aid? In other words, will the local authority—the Part III authority—having got the scheme ready and being unable to arouse sufficient interest in the county council, who are the Part II authority responsible for higher education, have to stand still, or is there any way in which we shall be able to get on without waiting until we may be able to convert the county authority, which is responsible for higher education? To conclude with the point with which I began, the hon. Member for St. Albans said that competition was necessary. I think the example I have given indicates that we are quite willing to accept the proposition that competition in sport and games is necessary, but we would like to see it on level terms.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle), because a few days ago I read a paragraph about him in the "Birth Control News," in which his membership of the House of Commons was commended because it enabled him to prevent so many bad schemes from being brought to birth here. I am bound to say that, if his obstetric activities this afternoon enable this infant ever to be brought to life, it will be a great deal more vigorous than I believe it to be at the moment. I have read the White Paper with considerable disappointment. It shows a considerable falling off as compared with the advance publicity given to the scheme by the party and in the Press, and the Minister's speech to-day was even less strong than the White Paper. I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member for St. Albans, in his attack on the elementary schools and their system, did not realise how responsible the House of Commons and his class have been in the past for the very evils of which he was complaining. It is only during the last few years that any elementary school has had a decent playing 103 field in which other than purely routine games, of a sort of "touch you last" character, could be played, and a very great many areas and some of the older schools are still deficient in that matter. It is no use complaining that these schools have not produced a certain type of mind and body when no opportunity was ever given to them to do it.
I recently had brought to my notice a case of initiative on the part of elementary school boys whose desire for physical education seemed to have been carried to an almost absurd extent. It was reported to my county council, when we were asked to establish a juvenile community centre on the great London County Council estate at St. Helier, that there was one body there giving physical education, and that was the Girls' Friendly Society, which had a membership of 200, of whom 40 were boy associates. The presence of boy associate members in the Girls' Friendly Society, especially for physical education, seemed to me to be so novel a feature that I made further inquiries. I was informed that these boys, believing in the equality of the sexes, and considering that boys and girls should have equal facilities for physical education, thought it wrong that the other sex should monopolise physical education, so they assembled outside the hall in which this instruction was given, and threw stones on the roof. As it was a corrugated iron roof, they made their presence heard as well as felt. That had no effect, so they threw stones through the window. That again had no effect, so they threw stones at the girls when they were coming out. They were then invited to come inside on the next occasion. Since then, the report says, there has been no trouble. I do not know whether that kind of exercise of initiative would have been commended by the hon. Member for St. Albans, but at least it achieved the end that the boys had in view. It is a real answer to those people who say that working-class boys coming from elementary schools do not desire physical education.
I can only say, as an ex-schoolmaster, that one has to recognise that when boys go out from the elementary schools and do a hard day's physical work, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) suggested, very often what they really need in the 104 way of physical education in the evening is some remedial exercise. Of course, that is not likely to be very popular with them. I share a good many of the misgivings of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland). It really seems to me that by this White Paper we are creating a large number of fresh bodies which will have no other real excuse than to employ a paid secretary. That may be one of the ways of dealing with unemployment among the black-coated profession, but the machinery which the law allows will quite meet any real needs that exist, especially when the right hon. Gentleman carries out his announced intention of removing from Section 86 of the Education Act, 1921, the stipulation which has been regarded as necessary in the past, that persons, for whom the physical education and other facilities are to be supplied, must be already receiving some formal education. I cannot help thinking that in the bigger counties this scheme, whereby proposals to go in front of councils will have to be examined by these committees who will have to give their approval, and whereby these bodies will have some share in the assessment of grants for them, is likely to lead to a good deal of friction and delay. I am sure, if the right hon. Gentleman will remove from education authorities a limitation in Section 86, he will find that the more progressive education authorities, at any rate, will be quite willing to act in the way he desires.
I also wanted to raise one question with regard to the teachers who are taking these courses to improve their qualifications. It is a very desirable thing, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the difficulty that may arise under the Superannuation Acts with regard to it. As I understand the law, if a teacher is absent for such a purpose for more than a month, the further period cannot count for purposes of superannuation and, if he proposes to stay away possibly for six months, or even more, it is often a very serious consideration whether a man is to lose that additional number of months towards his superannuation period. I have been conducting a case in the past fortnight with the right hon. Gentleman's officials. The question whether a man was paid for a particular day determined whether he was to have one additional completed 105 year's service to be counted in his pension calculations. When one day is as important and as risky as that, obviously five months or more is an even more serious consideration.
I welcome the opportunities which will he afforded to the existing staffs of the schools to improve their qualifications as teachers of physical education, and I hope people who are trained primarily as physical training instructors will also receive some general training as teachers, because the worst disservice that can be done to this scheme is to encourage a number of young people, especially young women, to go in for it, who, while they retain youth and vigour, will be quite suitable as physical training instructors but, when they reach some age beyond 40, may quite probably find themselves with no really skilled occupation left. It may be a very fascinating, almost an exciting, sight to see a young woman between 20 and 30 showing a class how to do some of the more intricate exercises, but it becomes rather comic when a woman between 50 and 60 tries to do the same thing. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not want to destroy the balance of the schools. We may perhaps, owing to lack of opportunity, not have emphasised this side of education sufficiently in the past, but we do not want to over-emphasise it now, and there is a tendency to get it over-emphasised if you have a person who teaches that subject and nothing else, and is not qualified to teach anything else. If it is to be made a really integral part of the school, so that the child appreciates that it is an essential part of education, but not the whole of education, it is desirable that the teacher who takes it should have one or two other subsidiary subjects in which he or she can instruct some of the children so that the proper place of this subject in the school is assured in every detail of the school organisation.
I regret exceedingly that this country did not think of dealing with this subject on any very emphatic lines until it became quite clear that the two great dictator countries of the Continent had made up their minds that they were going to deal emphatically with the subject of juvenile physical instruction. The Minister's peroration was really an acknowledgment of that. It was a little better, it is true, than what he said in Circular 1445: 106Any imitation of the centralised methods in use in some of the Continental countries would be altogether inappropriate.I hope he is really going to live up to that phrase when he comes to apply it administratively. Each area will have its own particular problems to solve. I should like to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison) said, owing to a very startling experience that I have had during the week-end. I went to Spennymoor to distribute the prizes at a secondary school and, when I saw the children, I asked the head master whether he had not a large preparatory department, because I could not believe that these children were really the same age as those that I am used to seeing on similar occasions in Surrey. In my view they represented a physical retardation of at least two years in any anthropometric measurement that one could make on a casual survey.
§ Mr. Ede
The Alderman Wraith County Secondary School, Spennymoor. In every other way than physique they seemed to be at least the equal of the children that I am accustomed to seeing, but so impressed was I by the contrast to the eye that I have asked the head master if it is possible to have an accurate anthropometric survey made of them so that a comparison can be made with children of similar ages in the South of England. It is clear that the problem of physical education in a school such as that must be a very different problem from that of physical education in a secondary school where the state of physique of the children on entering is higher and they appear more robust in every way. It is quite difficult enough to carry on the work of physical education in areas where every child can be assumed to be reasonably well fed but it must be an infinitely more difficult matter in areas such as this.
The opportunities for persons just leaving school, I hope, will be pressed by the Board of Education on local authorities. It seems to me that what one must insist on is that there shall be some gymnasium apart from that in the elementary school. I am sure that in these days the old-fashioned evening continuation school is very largely going out 107 of favour because the child who has been up to 14 or 15 in the elementary school thinks "When I have passed the seventh standard I am a little beyond that school". To ask the child to go back and sit at the old desk, very often to meet the same person to take a lesson which is not very different, is not a very great encouragement to evening continuation work. That will be even more true of physical training. It will be futile to expect that you will get children going back to the elementary schools to use the same apparatus as they have been using during the last two or three years of their school life. There will have to be provided in the community centres or in some other suitable place apparatus which will be more suited to their years, and possibly give them a rather extended curriculum.
We have to recognise that a very great amount of good will towards this movement already exists among the young people themselves. On occasion I go on Sunday on Southern Railway rambles, and it is astonishing to see 600 or 800 people, most of them young, de-training at some centre in order to walk 12, 15 or more miles through some of the best scenery in England. It is an example of the way in which this desire for physical culture has grown. I can only hope that the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Keighley that encouragement should be given for the establishment of camps for young persons employed in factories and mines and other places to get a fortnight's holiday under healthy conditions in the fresh air, will be borne in mind.
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not feel, as his Parliamentary Secretary did last Wednesday, that physical training is a cure for under-feeding. It is not. If it is a cure for anything, it is a cure for overfeeding. If there should be any overfed people among the elementary school population—I did not meet many of them in the course of my experience—more physical exercise should be good for them. It is futile to think that this subject can be dealt with other than as part of the general scheme for raising the physical condition of the nation and before you can train their bodies. Before you can train your body you must put something into it which will enable it to stand the rigours of the training course. 108 I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take the broadest possible view of the matter and will not unduly trouble himself about recommendations from voluntary organisations. I am sufficiently a local government man to believe that, if the Board of Education and local education authorities will co-operate, they need no voluntary organisations to tell them their business or to tell them how to do it. I am sure that, with co-operation between the two, and with a bold and vigorous policy on wise, human lines, the scheme can be made a great deal bigger than it is at the moment, and can very considerably increase the happiness and health of the nation.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Major Oscar Guest
I should like to ask the Minister what is to be done with the question of community centres. That is one of the places where physical training and recreation would have a great deal of scope. I see on page if of the White Paper:Local authorities will be empowered to exercise throughout their areas the same powers of providing (or aiding the provisions of) community centres as they have in connection with their housing estates.The difficulty that I come up against is that local authorities are not always willing or able to provide those amenities for the community centres, and I wonder whether, under the terms of this new proposal, any grants could be allotted towards these projects? Community centres on the larger housing estates are very good ground upon which to, develop this physical training, but the difficulty is that they cannot do it unless they have accommodation. I would ask that they should be considered seriously in this scheme. The National Council of Social Service, which is referred to in the White Paper, is particularly interested in this activity, and in some places where I have been working with them, our difficulty has been to obtain accommodation for such work. I very much hope that this scheme will enable the National Council to get further ahead with the development of social centres upon these estates. It was for that reason that I wished to intervene in this Debate.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Cove
I wish to say a few words about the previous items we have been discussing to-day before I talk about 109 physical training. The Minister gave some reasons why the extra money under Subhead C.1 was needed, and referred to the fact that the Board of Education, as far as the teachers are concerned now in the employ of the local authority, always endeavoured to maintain the security of their tenure. I am often a critic of the administration of the board, but I would like here to say how much the action of the board is appreciated so far as the security of tenure of teachers is concerned. It is a very wise thing on the part of the State to see that the people who have been trained and have already obtained employment in schools, should not find themselves swelling the volume of unemployment. On the other hand, I would remind the Minister that there are in the ranks of the young people a number, who, I am advised, cannot obtain employment, and that this is particularly the case in certain well-defined areas. I am not going to specify them all, but I know that in Wales there are a number of very sad cases of students who have been to college for two or three years and cannot get employment. I met one of these the other day. He had been to college for four years and had not succeeded in getting employment for the last year and a-half or two years. While we are generally grateful that, in spite of the shift of population, and, in some areas, of the decline in the school population, the security of tenure of teachers has been maintained, I would emphasise the fact that there is a growing and an aggravated problem among those students who are coming from the universities and the colleges at this particular time. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will see that a forward policy is pursued, particularly in relation to the size of classes.
The Minister, in his explanatory remarks, pointed out that part of the additional sum required under item D.1 was due to the fact that there had been an extension in the development of the technical services of the country. We should all be very pleased that there has been development as far as the technical system of education is concerned. There is no doubt, particularly in some areas, a lamentable lack of this type of education. I believe that the nation as a whole has been too well satisfied with reliance upon its past. It had a start in the industrial race among the nations, and we have 110 in consequence the self-sufficiency of the self-made man. It has been most difficult in the educational world to convince John Bull that the gospel of the self-made man is no longer the gospel for a modern industrial nation. Industry will have to rely more and more upon the contribution which our technical efficiency can make to our industrial prosperity or our industrial supremacy.
I wish to point out one thing which is giving concern to those of us who represent depressed areas, and I hope that it will not be regarded as irrelevant. It is remarkable that if one surveys the provision of technical education in this country, one is struck by the fact that, in a number of these depressed areas, there is a most marked deficiency in this kind of education. I believe that it is true to say of Durham that there is, in the administrative county, little or none of what you call technical education. If one looks round South Wales, in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, there is some service of a technical character in these counties, but, as the Departmental Committee under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) pointed out, there is a woeful lack of technical education throughout the whole of South Wales, and often what is called technical education is not the real thing that we desire it to be. Technical education is costly, the capital expenditure is rather large, equipment is costly, and so on.
Throughout history, if you take South Wales—and I suppose it is true of Durham—we have had our eyes fastened upon the more basic industries. We have been satisfied and the industrial and social needs have been realised by the products of the main basic industries of coal, iron and steel. That era is passing away, and we are left in these areas with a lack of technical education of sufficient variety and quality. I am afraid that in South Wales in particular we have had our eyes too much fixed upon the mining school. We have been too directly, closely and narrowly concerned with the main basic industry. I say quite definitely that the formula under which these grants in respect of which we are voting to-night will not meet the condition of these areas. I cannot speak for Durham and other areas because I do riot live there, but I am sure that I can speak for South 111 Wales, for Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire—and I should not be surprised if it were not the case in other areas—when I say that the formula under which these grants are dispersed will not meet the needs of the particular areas. If the Government intend to do anything in the development of technical education in these areas—and I hope that they do—the first essential is that Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire, Durham and other areas should have greatly augmented grants from the National Exchequer.
I see the Minister of Health on the Front Bench opposite, and he is, no doubt, greatly concerned about this matter. He has, of course, a great interest in the grants to these areas, and I want to tell him and the President of the Board of Education, that I hope that before the Government bring in their Bill to deal with the Special Areas, they will consider, as part of the policy for those areas, the great expense of technical and vocational education by the giving of extra grants in order that such education may be provided. Some people may say that the provision of this kind of education ought to take in the secondary industries as well. History has shown, particularly in the case pointed out in the report of the Departmental Committee—the case of Staffordshire—a decline in the heavy industries and the interdependence of technical education upon industry and industry upon technical education, and that both contribute to industry and the well-being of the community in which there is that provision. We may have a further opportunity of developing this matter, but I would like to get in a few words here before the Bill relating to the Special Areas is introduced, and plead with the Government the need of developing technical education.
There was a time when I used to indulge in hot disputations as to whether the adolescents should have a liberal cultural education, or a vocational education. Frankly, I am no longer moved by such disputations. I am keen that in these areas a great development of this type of education should take place, but it cannot take place unless the Government are prepared to foot the bill to a much greater extent than they do at the present time. Like a number of my hon. Friends, I am rather surprised at the 112 modesty, or even the meagreness of this scheme. There is nothing in it which arouses my tremendous enthusiasm. For some reasons, perhaps reasons of great principle, one is glad that it is based upon the voluntary system. I have a sort of sneaking idea that all this machinery indicates a desire on the part of the Government to get away with the spending of only a small amount of money. I do not believe that the money envisaged here to be spent upon the physical education of our children will meet the need. It may be that it is only a beginning, but I am quite sure that the provision made here will not meet the need. In any case, I want the Minister to look most carefully into the physical state of these children, particularly in these areas, to see whether or not, as an essential preliminary, these children receive clothes and boots. That is absolutely essential.
I will give a short quotation to try to re-enforce that plea. I have here the County Council of Durham juvenile employment report for the year ended 31st July, 1936. I have read volumes of what doctors have said; I have read every mortal thing I could get hold of so far as nutrition and medical reports are concerned, and I am absolutely befogged after reading all that sort of thing. I do not know yet what nutrition is. I only know that I have three children, and those who have examined them have told me that they are the finest physical specimens they have ever examined. They were not merely fed on milk. They never had anything else to drink, they never had a drop of tea, but they have also had meat, fruit, eggs and so on, and I am beginning to think that the public conscience is being drowned as far as nutrition is concerned by a third of a pint of milk a day. Nutrition means variety as well as milk.
§ Mr. Cove
I have here evidence of the fact that these adolescents in the distressed areas are not fit subjects for physical education. It is useless for anybody to say that they are. If money is spent on them for that it would be a waste, because it would do more harm than good. I plead with the Minister to cast his eyes over the services that exist. I am not going to oppose this. I welcome 113 physical education. I believe in it in the early part of life as much as mental education. My criticism against the ordinary State schools would be that they have been endeavouring to get too high a mental result. With my own children I refused to allow the pressure to be put on them. I believe that in childhood and adolescence we should have a free chance of nurturing the body. But that needs food. Here are these adolescents—not only children whose fathers are out of work, but children whose fathers are in work—who are physically unfit. I ask the Minister not to be satisfied with this, that this should not be his main line of advance, that he should look to the nutrition of these children, and fit them physically to take advantage of any other effort that may be made in future.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Sir Samuel Chapman
This is the first time that English and Scottish Estimates have been allowed to be discussed together, so perhaps it is appropriate for a few moments that a Scottish Member should say something regarding tins great scheme. I rise with regard to one question only, the composition of the National Advisory Council. We in Scotland know this scheme well. The Secretary of State has explained it admirably, and great interest has been taken in it. A few weeks ago I got hold of 300 or 400 young fellows—not from school, not in work—all of them representing that decent chap, the Scottish young fellow who has not been so fortunate as to secure work, and who has not the facilities for indulging in physical exercise which the more well-to-do have. That is the young fellow I speak about to-night, and I want to ask my right hon. Friend to see that his position is safeguarded. I have no doubt that the education authorities, town councils, representatives of boys brigades and girl guides, and all those social activities will be well looked after. When my right hon. Friend is setting up this Advisory Council, for goodness sake let him get hold of some man who, as a grandfather of mine used to say, knows how to lift the latch of a poor man's door.
We want the Advisory Council to be composed not entirely of gentlemen with titles, all most admirable in their way, but to include someone who goes among the decent working chaps on Saturday afternoons, who looks at the pitch on which they play, half water-logged, for 114 which they pay 3s., scraped together from pennies and halfpennies. That should be the type of young fellow we should go for first of all. We could get in Edinburgh, if we went the right way about it, 500 of them who have practically nothing to do, the class of young, decent, honest Scotsmen about whom Walter Scott used to write. They do not like to cadge, they have to play in their ordinary boots, they have no shorts, they have no equipment of any kind, and yet they wish to indulge in the manly games of Scotland. You do not want this Advisory Council composed only of gentlemen who have done admirable work in the past. You want one or two men who, at the Council meetings, can represent at first hand the difficulties and troubles of those young fellows.
The Secretary of State must not think that the only people who represent the decent working classes of Scotland are my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). We also represent the decent working classes, and we are just as anxious to do something for them. Let the Secretary of State get on the Advisory Council somebody who knows the difficulties and troubles of the decent young working man. I can put him on to one or two. I know a man of 40 who has been working in the County of Durham since the War among the working men, and who has now come to Edinburgh and is doing an immense amount of work there. Titled men are all very well, but that is the sort of man you want. If the right hon. Gentleman does not make his Advisory Council representative of all classes he will start his scheme badly, and I ask him to think over what I have said.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I would never attempt to deny that my hon. Friend has working people in his constituency, and I am glad to hear from him that he tries to represent them as my hon. Friends and I try to do. I think the difference between himself and us lies in that phrase he used—"decent." We try to represent the decent young working men and the ones whom he would call indecent. Probably they are the ones who require the greatest interest and support. In my experience the fellow he calls "the decent working chap," the fellow who is able to get into a job and keep it, and comes from a good home, is well able to look 115 after his own sports and recreation without the aid of this House, Government subsidies or anything else. In essence I agree with the approach of my hon. Friend to this problem.
In the few minutes I propose to speak I do not wish to use my time dealing with the problem of nutrition or the other problems that impinge on that. I am hopeful that this new-found interest in the welfare of the people, starting as I believe at the wrong end, will not go far—if it goes at all—before it is found that at the root of the problem of physical training, and more fundamental, is the problem of seeing that the people are decently fed and housed, and have opportunities of cleanliness in body and mind. The greatest gain that will come to the nation from this campaign will be the recognition by those in authority that you cannot make men fit physically merely by running a few extra training classes or training a few physical instructors.
I want to limit myself more closely to the proposals put before us. I agree with the principle laid down by the Government that the system must be voluntary. Any attempt compulsorily to make people enthusiastic over physical education will be doomed to failure. I do not know that I carry the voluntary principle to the extent of believing that it can best only be carried out by voluntary organisations, but I would point out that when the right hon. Gentleman spoke high words of praise about the work which is being done by authoritarian States like Germany and Italy in the matter of physical training, he ought to have recollected, and it should never be forgotten, that the finest and best work that has been done—and it has been going on for years—has been done in the Scandinavian countries, the most democratic in the world. Sweden has been ahead of every other nation in the great thought and national organisation directed towards developing the best possible physique in their population.
I want to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland a few questions. I understand that he spoke on this matter on the wireless last week, and perhaps the questions which I am about to put to him may have been dealt with in that speech. I regret that I was not able to hear that speech, but I was engaged in duties in 116 this House, listening perhaps to some less informed colleague of the right hon. Gentleman on a less interesting subject. I hope that he will not think I am asking unnecessary questions. I look at the list of voluntary associations mentioned in the White Paper as examples of those who are expected to take an active part in the organisation of this work, and frankly I do not think in the main—there may be one or two exceptions—that those bodies will be bodies that will give the greatest amount of aid in Scotland. I imagine that some of them do not run in Scotland, and others, even if they have branches of their organisations there, have no real connection with the general life of Scotland.
I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that in developing his scheme in Scotland he should try to get into touch with those bodies that are actively engaged in physical interests, sports, etc., in the West of Scotland. I would direct his attention to the tremendous amount of work done by the Glasgow Corporation, the number of football grounds they have in various parts of the city that are let out on Saturdays to football clubs, consisting of young boys, the number of gymnasia, swimming ponds, bowling greens, tennis courts, and golf courses that are going on through the good weather season as fast and as hard as they can go. I would suggest that he should establish touch at the earliest point with the members of the committees of the corporation, who are also voluntary workers, who have had some experience of the running of these things, and see to what extent provision might be made for expert guidance in the various games and sports that are carried on.
I would rather approach this problem from the point of view of getting the mass of our population interested in sports and games, with the health results as a byproduct rather than the objective. I play golf. Perhaps that is a bit of swagger on my part. My handicap is a matter of concern to me. I am in the same position as the cleric who after he had played a round of golf said, "I think I had better give it up." His friend asked: "What, give up golf?" "No," was the reply, "give up the ministry" I am somewhat in the same position. I should not go with any pleasure or satisfaction to play golf if I felt that I was being compelled to go, either as a national duty or as a 117 substitute for medicine. There is too much of that about it. I want to play golf because I like it. I want the boys to play football because they feel it is worth playing. I want the girls to play tennis and the old men to play bowls because they really get good fun and enjoyment out of it. We ought to approach this subject along those lines, recognising that the health will come. I am not going to pose as an expert, but I do say that the health results will be better if there is real gusto and pleasure about the play. Therefore, I want the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether in conjunction with great corporations such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, and many of the small burghs throughout Scotland, he cannot see to what extent in connection with the sports that are already existing in those communities under public control, there cannot be provided expert guidance to teach the games so that the young folks can feel that they are becoming more expert at the game they want to play.
As far as voluntary associations are concerned, I think that a better approach to the young people, in my district at least, rather than through the Morris dance clubs and so on, would be to get into touch with the men who run the football clubs. The right hon. Gentleman knows the tremendous standing in the City of Glasgow of football clubs like the Rangers, the Celtic and Queen's Park. They have fine grounds and training quarters and the men who are in charge, men like the secretary of the Celtic Football Club, have not merely an interest in their club as a venture, but a general interest in it as a social asset to the city. They are public-spirited men. I suggest that at a very early point the right hon. Gentleman should get into consultation with the gentleman I have named and the secretary or chairman of the Queen's Park Football Club and the Ranger's Football Club, and also the leaders of the junior associations in the football world, also the men who run the amateur athletic associations, who have been for a lifetime putting tremendous skill and effort into the organisation of sport. The other organisations from the point of view of the average working man in the West of Scotland would be regarded as a sort of namby-pamby, parlour-game sort of business. I could make a whole list of further suggestions along similar lines, but my right hon. Friend has had as long and as 118 close an association with the West of Scotland as I have. His education, experience and association have been very similar to my own, and I only regret that the results in his case have not been quite so good. I know when I make suggestions that it will be sufficient for him to think perhaps of better developments of the ideas that I have indicated.
If this is to be a real national movement into which the people are going to enter with enthusiasm, and whole-heartedly, big changes will have to be made in the school systems of physical education, and the Secretary of State will have to consider immediately very large-scale changes in school construction and environment. In an ordinary school in Glasgow you sometimes have up to 2,000 pupils; 1,000 pupils is a very common size of school. Usually there is one hall provided for physical instruction purposes which should be in every case a central hall which is part of the corridor system of the school. It is impossible to go round all the classes in a big elementary school of 1,000 pupils, and give the scholars even half an hour a week of physical exercises in the hall, certainly not half an hour without interruption of the ordinary operations of school life. In Glasgow and in many places outside Glasgow apart from the school hall there is what one can scarcely call a playground, merely a yard, where only one class at a time can be outside the school in good weather having any physical exercises. There will have to be big, wholesale changes in school structure, not merely of the school buildings but of the places that are available round about. Those changes ought to be contemplated right away. The right hon. Gentleman has been asked on various occasions about school buildings in Scotland, and he has promised to give the matter careful attention. There must now be coming to his Department regularly requests for the approval of new school buildings, and I suggest that from now on no new school should be passed by the Department unless it is abundantly evident that the arrangements for the physical sports and games side of the school are adequately provided for. That is all I wish to say. I hope the scheme will be a success and that in a short time a marked improvement will be shown in the health and physique of the people.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Hardie
The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman), who insisted upon giving advice to the Secretary of State for Scotland as to what he should do, must have had a sense of shame, like all Scotsmen, to have to admit that the juvenile physique in Scotland is the lowest in Northern Europe. The Secretary of State is no doubt well acquainted with every argument that can be advanced in relation to what is called the ordinary method of trying to get physical training. Being a Scotsman, I want to ask first, what is it going to cost? Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any idea what is likely to be the cost of carrying out the proposed scheme? Scotland is well suited for what is called in Switzerland "Winter Sports." Are we in this scheme to have any development in the mountains of Scotland for sport during the snow period?
Does not the hon. Member recollect that such a scheme was recommended two or three years ago, and that it met with no measure of success in the Highlands?
§ Mr. Hardie
I am not asking that the Highlander should do it by himself, but that the Lowlander might find it beneficial in every way to get to something like the same conditions which you find in Switzerland.
§ Mr. Hardie
Oh, yes, you can. It is only the landlords who prohibit any kind of a scheme like that.
§ Mr. Hardie
You will find them in every part of the Highlands. But before anyone can enter into winter sports they have to be physically fit, and while it will be out of order to discuss nutrition, all I can say is that the scheme suggested, and the bodies who are referred to in the Bill, are going to make it extremely difficult for the development of the scheme in Scotland. There is always a definite kind of snub on the part of those who organise these sports and flaunt their so-called benevolent activities on Saturday afternoons. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, said that his grandfather once wanted a man who could lift the latch of 120 the poor man's door. That is perfectly true. There is a sense of condescension which is felt whether it is there or not. In some cases it is not there, but it is felt nevertheless by those who may be called in to take part. This will prevent the scheme developing in Scotland.
Then take a young boy who has left school and gone to work in a mine. Take the case of a boy who works in a 12-inch seam. When I was a boy I worked in a 12-inch seam and I had the good sense to realise that the sooner I got out the better I should be able to keep my shoulders square. What is to be the physical training for a boy who is deformed through working eight hours a day in a 12-inch seam? Let me for a moment give the position of the body for these eight hours. When the coal is being hewn you have to lie on your side if you are not more than 18 inches across the shoulders, but if you are more than 18 inches across the shoulders you have to lie on the half-knee. Then the position of the lungs has to be considered. When that boy has finished his day's work and you want to interest him in physical training what do you do? What is the first thing which comes into that boy's mind after eight hours in this cramped position? It is not a question of any kind of play. All boys with whom I have been acquainted naturally find all kinds of sport attractive, but this boy requires medical attention in order to bring back the natural posture of the body. Unless you have a natural posture of the body none of the organs can function properly.
When a boy has been in the mines for three years and has been working in a dry place where there is coal dust, he gets what is called a clocher. That is best explained in this way. It is the lodging of thin coal dust in the lungs which produces a cough called clocher. In my early days I belonged to what we called a club. We had wrestling, tug-o'-war and boxing, and a trapeze slung on to a branch of a tree. In that way 24 of us kept ourselves physically fit and guarded against the conditions which our daily labour underground would have imposed. Posture means everything. But take modern conditions in our cities. Wherever you get a piece of spare ground you will find some youths kicking a ball or a tin can about, and they are always 121 appearing in the courts for playing football in the streets, simply because sufficient provision has not been made for the playing of youth. Youth must play if it is in health. The natural claim of all young people is the right to play.
I would like to know what is going to happen in those areas where many of the youths cannot put on the clothes they would like to wear when they have to meet these other people who will probably be there. This is a serious thing. Those people who are kind-hearted and want to do something for the boys will come along dressed in flannels and proper shoes, everything suited for the sport, but these other boys will not be able to do that. And they are very sensitive. They will probably have only one suit, green with age. What are you going to do? How are you going to break through that prejudice? This matter will have to be faced if you are to attract those you wish to come and benefit by physical training. You must have some method by which you will be able to get through this prejudice. Then, again, there are many who cannot enter into any kind of sport at all. They are physically unfit. I cannot discuss the reasons, but we know that there are boys and girls who are physically unfit to take the swinging rope and climb up it, or to take the weight of their bodies on one arm on the trapeze, or to take a flying leap.
What are you going to do with them? An hon. Member who is also a medical man seemed to assume that it was riot necessary to be physically fit to absorb physical training. That is a very specious way of putting the argument, but the point is that unless the body is able to take its own weight on the arms and feet you cannot safely put that boy or girl to any kind of physical exercise, because you are running the risk of straining the heart. I do not know that from any medical knowledge but from my own practical experience, as I had charge for seven years of a number of boys from the ages of 12 to 16. Whenever we put a boy on the scales and got his weight and height we knew exactly how he had been underfed and exactly the conditions in his home. But we are not supposed to discuss that which is the basis upon which any scheme of physical training must depend.
122 The success of this scheme will depend upon the youth being able to take that which is said to be provided. I would like to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can give us any further information on the proposals relating to the supply of teachers. How is the money to be raised, if the teachers are to be paid, for there is no provision in the Vote? On page II of the White Paper, it is said that:In Scotland the powers of local authorities will be extended so that effect may be given to the proposals of this scheme.Does that mean that the local authorities will have the power to govern in connection with this scheme? Are they to be, so to speak, the bosses over all the other bosses that have been mentioned? It is very important, for instance, to know whether or not the Glasgow Corporation will govern, for it will be largely through the Glasgow Corporation that space and all the other things required will be found. If the Glasgow Corporation are to govern, there will be an advantage. In every direction it will be possible for real help to be given, if for no other reason than that the education department will be able to follow up all the boys and girls who leave school. There will be some form of control and some co-ordination over them.
The whole scheme is one that ought to have been brought into existence at the same time as the first compulsory education Act in this country. That has always been my opinion. It is of no use expecting strong wills and strong minds to develop in weak bodies. In the past there has been no measure of the physique of boys and girls other than whether or not they were fit for the job to which they were sent. There has been no national care or control over youth, and to-day we are still in that position. Let hon. Members think for a moment what it means to be really hungry, and to know that what one gets to appease that hunger is not something that will build up, but something that will be like a piece of clay and simply prolong the agony. I hope that whatever may take place in any other part of the British Isles, the Secretary of State for Scotland will not allow any public body or association mentioned in this White Paper to deny the right of the child to its natural health. A nation which not only thinks 123 of its physical prowess but which is physically developed, is bound to have a mental development commensurate with its physical fitness.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Guy
The hon. Member for Spring-burn (Mr. Hardie) seemed to be rather doubtful in some respects about the prospects of success of this scheme, but the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was more genially constructive towards these proposals than he has ever been, in my recollection, towards any Government proposals, and he abandoned for once his usual vein of withering scorn and shattering satire. I am in entire agreement on one point which he made. I think it would be a mistake if this scheme for the provision of adequate facilities for recreation and sport were approached in the spirit of some experiment in recreational education. It may be the duty of sport and recreation to improve health, but the wiser attitude would be to provide in a more lighthearted spirit adequate facilities, such as are suggested in the White Paper, for sport and recreation for its own sake. I think the health result would then follow with absolute certainty. Personally, I consider that the Government have made a very wise choice in adopting the principles that are set out in the White Paper. It is a voluntary scheme and the existing voluntary organisations are to be fully utilised.
I wish to direct the attention of the. Secretary of State for Scotland to one point to which reference has already been made by the hon. Member for Bridgeton, namely, the voluntary organisations which may be called in to function in Scotland. Reference is made in the White Paper to the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training. As at present constituted, that is a national body for the United Kingdom. It is already functioning in England and Wales, but, as far as I know, it has only made preliminary contacts in Scotland. It has had consultations with the directors of education in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but so far, apart from contacts with certain existing organisations, the Central Council has not started to operate in Scotland. There are two Grants Committees, one for Scotland and one for England, and I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that if a grant is made 124 to the Central Council out of this sum of £2,000,000, care should be taken that a certain proportion, for instance, the usual eleven-eightieths, should be allocated for the work of providing facilities which is to be done by that body in Scotland.
There is one other point arising out of the Vote, on which I should be obliged if the Secretary of State for Scotland could give an explanation. In the English Vote—on page 15, under the subhead "KK—Physical Training"—there is a provision forthe setting up of a National Advisory Council and other bodies for the purposes of the scheme, and making interim training arrangements for instructors.It will be noticed, on page 17, that in the corresponding item for Scotland there is no mention of any interim training arrangements for instructors. In the White Paper it is proposed that there should be established a National College of Physical Training which, presumably, will be situated in England. In Scotland, there are at the present moment two centres for the training of instructors, one in Glasgow and the other at Dunfermline. As this scheme will inevitably involve a very considerable extension of the existing facilities for physical training, not only in schools but between the school-leaving age and 21 years of age, there will necessarily be an increased demand for physical training instructors in Scotland during the next two or three years, and I suggest to my right hon. Friend that some college, in addition to the two centres which now exist, should be established. I suggest that Edinburgh would be a suitable place, since it has no physical training centre at present, and an establishment there would in no way detract from the value of the work of the two other centres, but would be a useful addition to the existing physical training facilities.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Elliot)
It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I replied briefly to certain points affecting Scotland that have been raised by hon. Members. The Debate will continue after that, and hon. Members may be sure that I am making no attempt whatever to cut it short, but am merely replying in order to deal with certain points concerning Scotland to which hon. Members have asked me to give special consideration.
§ Mr. N. Maclean
Do I understand that when the right hon. Gentleman has replied to the points raised by Scottish Members, the Debate will be switched back to the English side of the question, and that consequently no further reply will be made by the Secretary of State for Scotland, or by any other Scottish Member of the Government, if another Scottish Member makes a speech?
§ Mr. Elliot
The Debate must, of course, be under the control of the Chairman, but since no other Scottish Member rose when I rose, I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I spoke now.
§ Mr. Maclean
The point is not the conduct of the Chair, for that is outside our scope. I am asking whether it is the intention of the Government, if any Scottish Member rises after the right hon. Gentleman has replied, that a Scottish Member of the Government should reply to the points raised.
§ Mr. Elliot
That is a hypothetical question to which it would be very unwise of me to reply. I can only say that the Committee as a whole might resent it if Scotland tended to monopolise the whole of the Debate, and indeed I have seen some signs and manifestations of concern at the number of Scottish Members who have been called already. I would not like to call forth the indignation of the Committee by frying to speak again in this particular Debate. There are several other occasions on which Scottish points may be raised, and I am sure that Scottish Members will not be backward in bringing them forward.
I was asked by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. Guy) to give attention to the organisations to which grants may be made. The same point was raised by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who was very anxious that we should be careful, in the organisations through which we work, not to choose mainly or even partially what might be regarded as "Cissy" organisations. He suggested that young fellows might look with a certain uneasiness upon bodies such as those which foster Morris dancing. I think the hon. Member may be assured that it is not our desire to give the grants to any organisation which would not meet the desire of the young people in the West of Scotland, and indeed all over Scotland, 126 to have somebody better at the job than they are, and somebody who can do something they would like to do rather better than they can do it themselves, whether it be football, boxing, or some of the more rough-and-tumble activities of young Scotland. The hon. Member may be assured I will not leave out of account the almost reverential feeling which our people have for football and skilful footballers. A sign of the respect for boxers, for instance, is to be found in the fact that an hon. Member on this side added several thousands to his majority in virtue of the fact that he was known as the "boxing Marquess," and he certainly got more votes for the boxing than for the Marquess.
I am certain that we all desire to have a real physical training movement in Scotland. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh asked that we should make sure, in regard to the financial relations, that Scotland received an adequate share of the grants. That consideration, I am sure, will be in the minds of any of us who are concerned with operating the scheme. He asked particularly why allowances had been made for preliminary training of instructors in English schools and not in Scottish schools, and to a certain extent he supplied the answer himself when he pointed out that there were already in Scotland colleges for the training of instructors. I think the preliminary need is not so great in Scotland as in England, although no doubt an extension of the facilities for training physical instructors will be necessary in both countries.
The hon. Member for Springburn asked what the scheme would cost. I refer him to the preliminary estimate in the White Paper which allows for a capital sum of the order of £2,000,000 and an annual amount for maintenance charges of the order of £150,000. Of course, a reasonable proportion of these grants—both the capital sum and the annual maintenance—will go to Scotland. He raised several wider questions which are, I think, rather outside the scope of the immediate scheme—such as the danger to health caused by young persons undertaking unsuitable work in mines and factories. I think the time to deal with that question will be when the Factories Bill comes before us later this week; but clearly the 127 most uneconomic of all processes is to distort the frames of young people by unsuitable work and then to spend money trying to put those distorted frames right again.
§ Mr. Hardie
Will some medical knowledge be available when the people who have these defects come along to be trained?
§ Mr. Elliot
It is certainly our desire that in all these activities, exercises should not be given by amateurs or ignorant persons. Exercising the human body is a skilled business, and the instructors who are already being trained and who will be trained in the future, will need to give attention to corrective exercises as well as to games and sports. The fundamental necessity is to avoid making the initial distortion, and so avoid having to spend time and money in getting these distorted frames restored to normal. The hon. Member also asked a question as to the provision of the appropriate clothes or kit for games and exercises. That is exactly the sort of question which the organisation, either the central body or the local committees, will have to consider. It will no doubt be desirable that grants should be made for such purposes as would include the provision of some cheap gymnastic kit, for instance, in areas where local clubs or associations were unable to provide it themselves. In all these matters local contributions will be desirable and it is one of the most interesting features of the voluntary activities of the Playing Fields Association and of various sports and games clubs, that they have been able to raise considerable sums locally. It might very often be the case, however, that the encouragement of a central organisation which was able to supplement such activities would be just the deciding factor in determining a club to go ahead when, if it had to do the whole thing unaided, it would feel that the job was too big, and would not start at all.
The hon. Member for Bridgeton, who speaks in this matter with first-hand knowledge, having taken part as a teacher in many of these activities and as an amateur in the game of golf, was extremely anxious to be reassured on the point that inducement and not compulsion would be exercised under this scheme. 128 That is, emphatically, the Government's desire. We do not wish to drill or exercise people merely for the sake of producing more muscular or more robust citizens. We desire that result to be rather a by-product of the enjoyment which the people themselves will derive from the facilities which the community will have provided. The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman) particularly drew attention to the problem of the less well-off individuals. It is the less well-off individuals of whom we are all thinking. I believe it to be true, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton said, that the young fellow who is in a good job and has got his foot on the ladder, is generally capable of securing adequate facilities for exercise, either by himself or by entering into an association which is financially self-supporting and able to afford its members these facilities, It is to help those who are not so well off, who have not perhaps so much initiative, who do not know so well how to set about it, that the scheme has really been launched.
Perhaps a few words on the working of the scheme in Scotland will not be out of place. As I have said, we are setting up two organisations, one Scottish and one English. The Scottish organisation will be completely self-governing. It will not be subordinate in any way to the English organisation. It will have its own Advisory Committee and its own Grants Committee. The Advisory Committee we conceive as a council of some 30 persons; and we shall certainly seek to include some of those who are prominent in amateur athletic organisations—persons who can speak with authority for the football clubs and other bodies such as those referred to by the hon. Member for Bridgeton. It will also include representatives of the local authorities. The hon. Member for Springburn asked would the local authorities govern the scheme? Clearly, they will not "rule the roast," as we say in Scotland, but they will have a very important influence. By bringing them in, we shall secure an effective liaison with the great machine, both educational and post-educational, which they control, as well as with the system of playing fields, and the sports and recreation facilities which they have in the parks and around the great cities; especially in Glasgow, where the Argyllshire Estate is a most valuable addition to 129 the corporation's arrangements in that respect.
All these things will be brought in. Of course, a corporation is given power to carry out the desires of the country as a whole in this matter, but compulsion is not to be brought to bear on a corporation any more than on the individual. This advisory council, then, of 30 persons will include those who are eminent in the sphere of athletics and organised games, and representatives of other organised bodies, such as the Boys Brigade and girls' and women's organisations; and it obviously would not be complete unless it included representatives of local authorities also. I think it is not giving away anything to say that it is hoped to have at least one representative from each of the great cities. We shall do our best to have on this body those who are eminent in the cities for their knowledge of and sympathy with a movement of this kind. It is hoped that over and above the representation which they may have semi-officially, so to speak, on such a council, they will be prepared to act. Then as the hon. Member for Spring-burn suggested it will be necessary to have one or two persons with medical knowledge to deal with the points which he raised—one or two, or let us hope more persons, with generous sympathy both with the objects and the methods that are being proposed so as to ensure the smooth running of the scheme. In addition there will be a small grants committee of three or four persons which will "vet" the applications for grants from all over the country.
As regards the local organisations, our system will differ a little from the English system, and I think "local committees" is the wrong term to apply to the Scottish bodies. We propose that there should be five regions or areas covering Scotland, namely, the Highlands and Islands; the East Lowlands; the West Lowlands; the East Coast; and the North-East. Four of them will be naturally grouped around the university centres. This, I hope, will enable a close association to be made with the medical schools. Each of these areas will have a secretary. Some form of whole-time organisation will be necessary. The work cannot be left entirely to amateur effort, and a certain amount of paid staff will be necessary. We hope by limiting the number of regional committees to five that we shall be able to 130 get an adequate staff for each, and to pay reasonable salaries to the five persons who will act as secretaries, thus ensuring that efficiency which, as the hon. Member for Springburn rightly insists, must be part of any scheme which is to be a success.
§ Mr. Elliot
There will be a secretary for the advisory council, and I expect the secretary for the advisory council will also be a paid officer.
§ Mr. Elliot
He will be paid out of the funds which I have already mentioned, namely, the £2,000,000 capital, and the £150,000 a year maintenance. The maintenance grant will provide the salaries for that small secretarial staff which I have just described to the Committee. I hope that that covers, roughly speaking, the technical points which were raised by hon. Members as regards Scotland. I need hardly say that we in Scotland greatly appreciate the friendly reception which, on the whole, has been given to the scheme, and we trust that in our selection of helpers, both on the Advisory Committee and on the Grants Committee, we shall make our selection with no party bias whatever, but with a genuine desire that the whole national life of Scotland shall be represented on these bodies.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths
I am very desirous to come back to England. It is not that I have any grouse against my Scottish colleagues. Scotland can look after herself very well, and I wish England could look after herself in this House as well as Scotland does. Two or three special pieces of legislation are known to me in which Scotland is in front of England. I do not know whether it is because that legislation was passed first for England, and Scotland made a better job of it than we did. I have found that out in many cases while I have been in the House. I am sorry that the Minister of Health is not present at the moment, because I wanted to say one or two nice little things to him. The right hon. Gentleman has been up and down this country for the last six months preaching this lovely stunt. He 131 has been telling us what was going to happen about physical training and recreation, and wherever he has been speaking he has attempted to whet the appetites of the people of this country, but when I got hold of this scheme last Friday and took it home with me and read it, I thought to myself that there was not much stuff in it after all. Then I found that the right hon. Gentleman was off the Treasury Bench for a long while, but he came back again and sat next to the Minister of Education.
I remember the President of the Board of Education introducing another scheme two years ago last December, and everything in the garden was lovely. When he introduced this scheme to-day, I am sorry I was not able to be here when he started his speech, but I came into the House when he was finishing up, and his finishing up was fairly tame. It was a lot tamer than it was in December, 1934, and I felt that this scheme, after all, has very little in it. There is not as much in it as I really expected to find. There are one or two things that I want to put across, and I am glad that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education is in his place, because I should like him to take note of what I am saying. The first question that I asked myself when I read this White Paper, first on going home and then coming back today, was, What will this do in my division? One Member spoke for the Liberal party. I think he was, the Member for the whole county of Devon, he covered so much ground in his speech. I am told that he is the right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland). I thought it was North, West, South and East Cornwall that he was speaking about, or, rather, he was speaking about Devonshire, Barnstaple and different places. One of my colleagues got up, and I think he represents Tottenham Hotspur by the way he put the stuff across to-day.
I want, for five minutes, to speak about the mining area in which I live. As I say, I asked myself the question, What does this do for the people in my division? I cannot see very much here. Unless the President of the Board of Education is going to dig up some money for us, we shall not be able to go on with this thing. We have been talking about physical training, and the hon. Member 132 for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) spoke about physical fitness. In my division I have some boys who leave school at 14 years of age ruddy, jolly, bouncing boys, because they have enjoyed school life, and it is wrong that the statement should go out from those benches that boys and girls to-day do not enjoy school life. They do. I have a grandson of my own, and he is ready for school at half-past eight in the morning and has only five minutes' walk to get to school. You do not find boys playing truant now the same as they did when I was at school.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I think some boys nowadays have as much pluck as I had when I was a boy, but the point is this, that these boys and girls to-day enjoy school, and when these lads leave school at 14 and start to work in the pit, they have a nice colour in their cheeks and are very plump, but inside of three months you will find those boys sallow and hollow through working in the pit. I want to know whether the Minister is considering these districts as far as physical training is concerned. When I was a boy in the pit, 43 years ago, and I got home from the pit—I was between 14 and 17 years of age—it was not much physical training that I wanted; it was bed that I wanted then. I was fagged out. I could turn out in the morning pretty lively, but after 9½ hours' work in the pit it used to take me all my time to drag myself home. I want to know whether the Government are considering this matter as far as these boys are concerned.
I want to put another point. There is in the country to-day a tremendous force, especially in the mining areas—what we call the miners' welfare schemes. It is a tremendous force for building up the physique, but within the last few years the present Government took £500,000 out of that fund. It used to average £1,000,000 a year, but it now averages £500,000. When it was cut down to the £500,000 it was the local welfare schemes that suffered the first cut, and they had no finance coming from the centre to the districts to help them to carry on the local schemes. Some of these—
§ The Chairman
Not only does that not come under this particular Vote; it does not come under the Board of Education at all.
§ Mr. Maxton
On a point of Order. We are discussing voluntary associations, of which certain samples are given in the White Paper. Is the organisation that the hon. Member has mentioned not a very appropriate organisation to be associated with this work?
§ The Chairman
That may be, but I think the hon. Member himself would scarcely have gone so far in developing the point as the hon. Member for Hems-worth (Mr. Griffiths) was doing.
§ Mr. Griffiths
If you would allow me, Sir Dennis, I want to get to the point that I am very desirous that the Minister should see to it that these schemes that are breaking down shall receive finance from this fund. I am sorry I did not make myself clear at first. Some of these schemes that are going derelict, or, to use a term we use in South Yorkshire, rotting for want of finance, in some cases have had £20,000, £30,000, and £40,000 spent on them. We had a scheme in my own township where we had to buy 32 acres of land or we could not have any, and it was too big, some 10 years ago, for us to develop with the money that we had, and the scheme was handed over to the local council.
§ Mr. Griffiths
It was bought for recreation, for swimming, tennis, football, cricket, and miniature golf. It was also bought for the children. It is carried on by the local authority at the cost of a 5d. rate per year. We have a swimming bath and as there are no pit-head baths under the Miners' Welfare Fund the men go to the bath in the summer. There is no scientific purification of the bath and we cannot afford to provide it. We made application to the King George Fund for a certain amount so that we could get a purifying apparatus. We knocked at the door of the fund in London, and they said, "Nothing doing." We have asked the Playing Fields Association for something towards it, and, although we have been knocking for three years, they have not opened the door yet.
Will there be anything for us out of the scheme which we are now discussing? I am anxious to know because the White Paper mentions swimming baths and playing fields and says that the money for playing fields is to be handed over to the Playing Fields Association, which will 134 have the power to give us a grant or to refuse it. I am afraid, however, that there is not much chance there because they have already refused us. The swimming bath I have mentioned serves a population of 7,000 and we desire at least £1,500 to put it into proper condition. A penny rate brings in only £80, and it costs a 5d. rate to run the bath. We therefore cannot reconstruct the bath unless we get some money from somewhere. I thought at least that I should be in order in asking whether, if we sent the hat round to the Minister of Education, we should be able to get some money for our bath. We have to change the water about every three weeks and it costs us £10 every time we do it. If we can get machinery to clean the water I shall begin to feel that the revival services of the Minister of Health up and down the country on behalf of physical training will have been of some account. While the Minister of Health has been in the country preaching the Minister of Education has been in the office organising, and now he has come here to put his blessing on what the Minister of Health has said.
I want the lads in my division between 14 and 20 to have the same facilities as the lads of the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison). I want my boys to be as big as his when they play on the Tottenham Hotspur ground. Unless we can get better facilities I am afraid they will be smaller instead of bigger. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall said that he hoped the Minister would not go too fast. Can we go too fast in physical training? Is £2,000,000 in three years going to fast? After that, we are to have £150,000 a year for physical training. Is that going too fast? I am pleased that the President of the Board made it clear—and we shall keep him to his word, if we can—that this physical training scheme has nothing to do with getting the lads ready for fighting another nation. I hope that the Government will keep that in mind, and that, instead of only £150,000 a year to keep our folk physically fit, they will later make it far greater. If they do that and keep to the spirit of the scheme, we shall not need to spend as much money on the Army in future as we have done in the past.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Sir Ernest Graham-Little
I am sorry that I did not hear the opening speech in 135 the Debate. I would like to ask certain questions with regard to the measures contemplated in the White Paper. I am told that I must not discuss nutrition. I will, therefore, only say that when we are informed on unimpeachable authority that 50 per cent. of the population is in receipt of incomes lower than that required to maintain physical fitness, the problem of nutrition becomes of first importance. It is really wrong not to put nutrition before the problem of physical exercises. It is obvious that the type of people we shall receive for the purpose of development physically will be largely that type which is definitely undernourished. There is a great and obvious medical danger in applying wholesale measures of this kind to people under that serious handicap. What measures are to be undertaken to see that bodily harm is not done by this scheme? I am afraid that it will be done in very many cases. One is induced to take that view from the consideration of what happens in the great public schools, universities and other institutions which cultivate sport. The public schoolboy is well nourished. There is no difficulty about nourishment as a rule in the great public schools, but, notwithstanding that, every important public school has a medical officer to look after the boys before they are allowed to do physical exercises.
In my own experience I have known a large number of public school boys who have suffered serious disabilities through lack of careful examination before being allowed to undertake exercises of a difficult character. I have in mind one boy who was put through very vigorous exercises. Because he could not do what he was asked to do, he was called a "namby pamby" and was forced to exercise. He came under the observation of a friend of mine, a heart specialist, who said, "That boy must lie on his back for 18 months. He has overstrained his heart to such a degree that unless he rests he may suffer for the rest of his life." We shall have to be forewarned against things of that sort, but what is going to be done to prevent its happening? I am pleased to see that voluntary associations are to be entrusted with so much of this work, but, as a rule, they are completely unequipped for undertaking medical 136 supervision. If we look at the communities throughout the world which are so successful in this matter of athletic training, I suppose we should agree that there is none which is more successful than the United States. I do not refer to Germany, because I am not familiar with Germany under the present regime. In the United States, where the universities are among the largest in the world, some with 30,000 students and others with 15,000 students, the greatest possible medical care is taken of the youths who engage in athletics. What provision is there in this White Paper to show that, either as regards England or Scotland, we are looking after that side of the matter? I think the circumstances in which we find ourselves will make that item one of the most important which we have to consider.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Evans
I should like to join in welcoming the evidence we have had of the desire of the Government to improve the physical well-being of the people of this country. If anything were needed to impress upon hon. Members the importance of this matter it is to be found in the speech made during the week-end by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence. He said that this country had spent tens of millions of money in order to re-equip this nation in haste. He was, I presume, referring to the question of munitions and the services engaged in national defence. What he said then applies, it seems to me, with even greater force to the subject with which we are concerned to-night; for whereas you may repair deficiencies in munitions and equipment, a wastage in human physique and human health cannot be repaired by the expenditure of money, by the establishment of shadow factories, or the adoption of shadowy devices. Therefore, I hope the Government mean to pursue in earnest what they profess in this White Paper to be their policy.
Reference has been made in discussions in the Press and in the House to the great efforts made by other countries for the promotion of the physical health of the people. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to make inquiries, if he has not already done it, and he probably has, to ascertain what is being proved by those efforts in countries which are now being held up to us as models of what can be 137 done to promote physical training. I think he will find out this basic fact, that in Germany, in Italy, in Russia, in fact in all the countries which are now laying great stress upon the improvement of the physique of the people, those undergoing training are showing the deleterious effects of the malnutrition not only of themselves but of their parents. That is an essential matter for the Government to bear in mind in considering this scheme. Therefore, I was glad to find in the White Paper that the Government do say that this is a question which affects both nutrition and physical training. I suppose most Members have at one time or another had to indulge in what are called "physical jerks," and know that it is of the utmost importance that the greatest regard should be paid to the physical condition of those undergoing such exercises. It is a matter which is concerned not only with their bodily condition but with their mental condition. It is a curious thing—if, indeed, it be curious—that the one thing reacts on the other, and that in all questions of physical training you have to bear in mind not only the physical but the mental condition of those concerned.
I think we are all glad that the Government are now giving attention to this subject. They are a little bit late in doing so. One of the interesting features of the drive to improve social conditions in this country is that we started at the wrong end. The great drive to improve the social services came about 30 years ago, and began with the old people. The first effort was in favour of giving pensions to old people. It was a very natural and proper thing, but we were starting with the old. Only afterwards did we establish a system of insurance against ill-health and unemployment. That was about 20 or 25 years ago, and it is only within the last three or four years that the country has settled down to try to improve the social services in the interests of those with whom we ought to have started, the children and the very young. However, we have made a start, and now we ought to see to it that we proceed on a proper basis. I am glad that the Government are now to give assistance, and it is very important to have expert people to give guidance.
I welcome the suggestion to establish a national training college, but I should like to have a little more information as to what the college is going to do, who 138 are to control it, who will be entitled to attend it and who will pay the expenses of those who attend it. That is vital. The extra guidance in physical training is at the root of the whole matter. We must know who are the people who are to be entitled to attend this national college and at whose expense they are to go. The local education authorities of this country have done a great deal and so have members of the teaching profession, in undergoing voluntary training in regard to giving instructions in physical exercises. What is the national college to do more than is being done now? Are the Government to utilise the facilities which have already been obtained, or is the new college to wipe out all the existing facilities? It is wise on the part of the Government to proceed as they are doing upon the basis of the already existing voluntary organisations. I do not think that I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who laid great stress upon the local authorities. I do not detract from the value of their work, but I say that in the social services of this country the State usually lags behind voluntary work. Voluntary work takes the lead, and the State comes in a little later. We are wise in accepting the guidance and experience of the local authorities of the country. The only thing that alarmed me about the speech of the President of the Board of Education was the statement that the board already had circulars in preparation. Government Departments are very fond of issuing circulars. Will the Minister accept it from me that of all the circulars of all the Departments of State, it is those of the Board of Education which are viewed with the greatest suspicion and cause the greatest qualms in the local government of this country?
I want the Government to look far ahead. One of the great troubles about any social endeavour upon which the country engages is that it does things quickly in a small way without looking far enough ahead. There is plenty of experience of that. The Government have given to the local authorities wide powers of town planning and so on, but new districts have been created in this country in which all the schemes adumbrated in the great Acts of Parliament provided for giving powers to local authorities in regard to town planning are disregarded. In a large number of 139 new districts which are growing up outside the big cities of this country you do not find the idea of town planning with a view to preserving some years ahead those amenities which the population are entitled to expect. You find the same thing in regard to the roads of the country. The Ministry of Transport have assumed powers over the main trunk roads but houses have been allowed to be built upon them and although, as I am told by the Sunday papers, the Minister of Transport is not to be allowed to sleep until he has found some solution, he ought to have avoided the difficulties because he had sufficient powers if he had cared to exercise them. No Government looks far enough ahead. The Board of Education, asking for these powers, must look ahead and prepare not merely for the creation of little playing fields here and there, but for what are likely to be the needs of a growing population.
Will the Board also bear in mind that what are called physical jerks, and the opportunities for physical training, are not the only things to be looked after? An hon. Gentleman very properly pointed out a minute or two ago that many people who are engaged in various forms of labour get plenty of physical jerks in their daily employment, and that what they wanted was recreation. They want an opportunity of cultivating a social and communal sense and those feelings which help to make life a little easier. I would stress very much that the people whom we are supposed to be helping—we are not forcing this upon anyone—should have some choice in the sort of physical training and recreation which may be helpful to them and to the country. The creation of social camps will be a good system. All parts of the country wish to participate in the benefits of the scheme. We are told that the Government, by the sheer necessity of the facts, will take care that the poorer areas of the country derive benefit, but it is not only the cities and towns or the poorer areas which require these amenities; I am thinking of the rural areas. You expect children to be healthy there, but you find children who are obviously under-nourished. I want the Government to bear those areas in mind. Let the Government see that those areas get something. I beg the 140 Government, in the establishment of regional committees, not to lose sight of those smaller areas, which will have a smaller representation upon a regional committee, if the committee is to represent a large region.
I welcome the scheme. It is not a bold scheme, but I do not know that it is any the worse for that. It is a start, and £2,000,000 is to be provided, spread over three years with a grant. I am reminded of a man who engaged in harvest. He had his own men but he had the assistance of labourers from neighbouring farms, as is usually done in my part of the country. He thought he ought to do something for them, and in accordance with the custom of the country he sent a barrel of beer down. In the evening he went to see them and found that they had got on with the job. They had done fairly well, and he thought that they would at least give him some word of thanks for the beer which he had sent them.
§ Mr. Evans
In the end he had to say to one of them, "Did you get the barrel of beer, Jones?" The latter answered, "Yes, sir." The farmer said, "What did you think of it?" "It was just right," replied the man. The farmer asked him, "What do you mean by saying 'Just right'?" "Well," replied the man, "if it had been any worse we could not have drunk it, and if it had been any better we should not have had it, so it was just right." So with this scheme—it is just right. If we had expected anything better, we should never have got it; if we had had any less it would have been of no use. Therefore, we have to say it is just right, for what it is worth we accept it, and we wish it well. I do not complain that the Government are not proceeding more boldly in the matter. It is simply that they are following the tradition of this country, which is that precedent must be upon precedent, line must be upon line, here a little and there a little. If the scheme does not go very far, nevertheless it comes up to that tradition. Someone must be led on. The Government must be persuaded to do something, but it must be according to precedent, and must not go too far. In order to meet the House 141 of Commons, they must satisfy their supporters by moving here a little and they must satisfy their opponents by moving there a little. It is not much, but it is our way of doing it. In the administration of the scheme I would ask the Government at least to see that it is so strengthened that the results shall not be so small as to be infinitesimal.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison
The White Paper deals very largely with organisation, not very much with method and still less with the spirit in which this effort is to be carried on, or with the attitude one would wish to induce in the people of the country towards this movement. A general system of physical education is not confined to the authoritarian States, though even there, so far as one can judge, people are interested in physical education not merely because they are made to take part in it; there is a great deal of idealism in those States, though it may be misdirected. It has been pointed out, however, that the Scandinavian States, and Sweden in particular, have been pioneers in this matter. One reason why there is less interest in it in this country than in Sweden is that people here do not know what has been and is being done in Sweden. There is some reference in the White Paper to propaganda, and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that illustrated articles in magazines and newspapers might be useful. Better still, it is quite possible now to obtain attractive films of what is being done in some of these countries.
I am not going to refer to the subject of nutrition, although I know that teachers in Scotland as well as in England are very firm in the belief that that must be the foundation of any effective scheme of physical education; but I heartily agree with the last speaker that this drive for physical education will be found to be one of the most effective means towards hastening and enhancing the efforts for better general nutrition. Another point I wish to mention is connected with clubs or evening institutes which include physical education. I was glad to hear the Secretary of State for Scotland mention that it may be possible to supply, not merely expert guidance, but also some measure of medical supervision. I had intended to put that question to him, and I was glad to hear him say 142 that, because this is one of those cases in which supervision of that kind is necessary—not, perhaps, that every club should have a medical man present every evening, but that the services of a consultant should be available. I was glad to hear that there is some possibility of that being brought about.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Morgan Jones
We have had to-night a most interesting discussion on a subject which has been brought before the attention of the country for a considerable time, namely, the subject of physical training and recreation. The President of the Board of Education naturally felt obliged to refer to one or two items other than physical training which concern the Votes we are discussing. I do not propose to go into these beyond mentioning two items, and those more or less cursorily. In the first place, I am glad to hear that the business of reorganisation is being pressed forward in various parts of the country. Last year we passed a Bill dealing with the school-leaving age, and, once that Measure was put on the Statute Book, the problem of reorganisation became more urgent than ever. I am glad to gather that considerable progress is being recorded in that direction. Perhaps local authorities may be helped to move ahead by the fact that, having now their 50 per cent. grant, they do not propose to "miss the bus" on this occasion lest another government like the one that followed us in 1931 should do a dirty trick upon them again.
The next item to which I desire to refer is that of technical education. I do not think we ought to enter upon a discussion on that subject to-night, because it is such a big subject, but I hope that, when we come to discuss the Estimates for this year, the Minister will take the opportunity of explaining to us in rather fuller detail what is happening in technical education in the country generally. It is a matter of first-class importance, and, as the years pass, its importance increases. Its importance has been noted already by some of my hon. Friends, and it has been pointed out that in some parts of the country there is practically no provision for it worth talking about. As regards my own part of the country, I am profoundly convinced that, if we are to help areas like mine, which are called Special Areas, to equip their boys 143 for new secondary industries in those areas, technical instruction must be developed to a much larger extent than is now the case.
I pass to this business of physical education. The Minister will probably take some encouragement from the fact that on the whole his scheme has received general support. As to its general purpose, I agree with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). I would rather that we encouraged boys and girls to embark upon physical recreation for the sake of the recreation, acquiring thereby as a consequential result better physical well-being for themselves and better health, because if we have any element of compulsion half the pleasure is gone at once. I thought the Minister said with truth that we have seen a new connotation introduced into this term, "physical education" in recent years, and it has been all to the good. Some of us can remember our life at school and we know the sort of physical instruction that we got. We got some drill sergeant descending upon us once or twice a week who made us form fours and jump over parallel bars, the most wooden kind of instruction possible and most uninspiring. I am very glad to feel that there is a change of attitude coming over the matter generally.
I want now to discuss another side of the scheme. One of the main issues that the Minister had to determine for himself was this: "What shall I do? Shall I use voluntary bodies or local authorities?" because, of course, the general idea of compulsion all round must be rejected at once. I speak for myself in this matter. I am not adversely criticising the scheme and I would not reject it on this ground, but I experience some uneasiness at the developments that have been going on the last five to ten years. We have been evolving a new professional class. It is the professional voluntary worker—I cannot think of a better term. I do not doubt his intention at all; I believe his intention is good; I believe the object that he has in mind is admirable. But I do not like to see a new class of people growing up in the State, drawing salaries from public funds, but above public control. It is a development of which I am becoming more and more suspicious. I cannot quite understand why it is that Governments show 144 such a remarkable attachment to this new development. To-night we see it carried a step further. We are setting up a scheme in which these professional people are set above local authorities. As I understand it, there is set up a local committee, which naturally becomes the vehicle through which appeals go to the Grants Committee, and so on, and finally to the superior body at the top. The superior body at the top, a national body, is itself a group of individuals drawn simply on their own personal merits, however good those merits may be. Similarly the Grants Committee are just individuals representing no one but themselves. A local authority may wish to embark upon a part of this scheme, but its 50 per cent. grant may not be adequate for the purpose. It may want to establish a swimming bath and the 50 per cent. may not be available. It, therefore, wants an extra sum. To whom does it go? As I understand it, the appeal goes to the local committee. Here is a local committee of voluntary workers who are to sit in judgment—
§ Mr. Stanley
It is not confined to the voluntary workers. Local authorities will be represented on the committee.
§ Mr. Jones
They will be part of it, but when the local authority qua local authority is making an appeal it has to go, not to the right hon. Gentleman, but to the local committee, which is partly representative of local authorities and partly of outside organisations. That development may be acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman, and perhaps it is the best arrangement he can make. I do not know. All I am saying is that it is a development which I dislike, and I do not think he will find it a good thing in the long run that local authorities are, even by implication, to a limited degree, to be subservient to a body which is half public and half private. I dislike that element very much indeed and I really doubt whether it is the best way of doing it. I should have supposed it would be much better that the vehicle, through which the money is to percolate, should be the local authority, which should itself set up its subordinate body for discharging this function. That is how I should feel like doing it. It is not a vital matter, but I prefer my method because I do not like the idea of making a publicly-elected body subservient to a partly-elected body.
145 I turn from that to my next point—the local committee. I have looked at this list of organisations, all very admirable, and I say nothing at all against any of them—but I cannot find any of them operating at all in my area. The Ling Association of Teachers—entirely unknown to us. The League of Health and Beauty—entirely unknown to us. The English Folk Dance and Song Society—unknown. The Margaret Morris Movement—quite unknown. There may be some representatives of the National Association of Organisers of Physical Training. I know of them all personally and think them very admirable. There are national associations which have their counterpart in my area and there are some few—very few—boys' and girls' clubs. I should not think that in all the 25 or 26 villages in my constituency there are two boys' or girls' clubs. There is no Y.M.C.A. and no Y.W.C.A. of which I know. There are a very few, if any, women's institutions there, and one or two branches of the Welsh League of Youth.
The point is, that under the scheme you have to start out with a local committee representative of these organisations, and therefore you have to create from the beginning in my area a new organisation since there are none of these bodies functioning in the area. Why need you go to the trouble of implementing a vast machine like that when you have the local authorities there functioning already in the area? I would like to take up the point which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) with regard to the miners' welfare organisation, because it is important. I wonder whether hon. Members realise what the Welsh, Yorkshire and Durham miners have had to do for their areas by way of recreation. It really is astonishing. The only reading-rooms they have are provided by the miners themselves out of their own pockets, and the only public halls they have, in the main, are paid for by themselves by the deduction of a penny or twopence in the pound every week.
I never remembered in my boyhood days, though we had plenty of free land round my village home, seeing a cricket match played in any one of our fields except in the field belonging to the local grammar school. Topographically, of course, the land did not lend itself to this sort of thing, but we have created playing 146 fields by means of the Miners' Welfare Fund; we have excavated them out of the mountains almost. What boys' clubs there are in South Wales, are, in the main, attached to the miners' welfare schemes, and are financed by them. I ask the Government not to forget the miners' welfare organisations. They know infinitely more about the life of South Wales and of South Yorkshire and other coalfields than some of these bodies. Swimming pools have been provided by this organisation, and I hope that the Minister will not overlook the knowledge these people have acquired during the last few years, and that it will utilise the knowledge to the full.
One of the demerits of the scheme, good as it is, is that those who have devised it have been considering it somewhat from a town point of view. They are thinking of communities that can be well organised. The scheme can be worked in such areas, but my hon. Friends from Durham and from Yorkshire and myself are in this position. For instance, I have not a large constituency, judging by the size of constituencies in South Wales, but there are in my area 26 villages, some of which have a population of between 3,000 and 6,000. If you make the county authority the regional authority, it will be very hard for the individual claims of each community to be kept in mind by a body which is as remote even as a central body operating for the County of Glamorgan would be. You have, therefore, to think not merely in terms of the town which has a population of 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 or more, but in terms of the needs of the smaller industrialist community of from 3,000 to 6,000 people, and perhaps fewer. In addition, you have to think of the claims of the rural areas, which are just as great. I urge that fact upon the Minister, because if I were to venture upon a criticism of the mentality of the scheme, I should say that it has been devised with the claims of the consolidated community in mind rather than the more dispersed communities, such as I and other hon. Members represent in this House.
I am very glad indeed that there is to be the establishment of a national college. Perhaps I ask this prematurely, but are there to be fees extracted from the students? I hope that I shall not be misunderstood when I say that I do not 147 quite understand why you so carefully exclude women on the ground that there are two other colleges already catering for women. I have tried to get one or two ladies into some of these training colleges—they are privately owned though State aided—and I have found that in practice the average girl from constituencies like mine cannot afford the fee of £120, £130 or £140 in order to go to Chelsea or some place like that. If the Minister is hoping to recruit his women instructors, guides and leaders from areas like that, he will clearly be getting women from a different stratum of society entirely from that of the type of persons with whom they will have to deal in practice.
I do not know whether the men's colleges are to be cheaper. I hope that they are. If there has been a wise thing said in this Debate to-night, it was contained in the speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman). It is in the highest degree important that we should not bring into this business ornamental people, those with handles to their names, so to speak, and who, just because they happen to have plenty of leisure available, are to be shoved into some job in connection with this scheme. The right hon. Gentleman has appointed Lord Aberdare to be President of this organisation. Lord Aberdare is well known to be keenly interested in recreation, and I have no doubt he will bring the right approach to this matter. I do not know him personally; I only know of him, but I would emphasise the appeal of the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, that this scheme should be conducted by men and women who have not lost the common touch, and who not only know their job, but the type of individual with whom they will have to deal. If that is done, then so far so good.
The right hon. Gentleman quite properly recalled to the Committee that we are on trial as a democracy. I was glad that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton put in the claim that the dictatorial States in Europe are not the leaders in real recreation. There is no better type of physical training given in Europe at this moment than is being given in the Scandinavian States. They were at it long before Germany or Italy ever dreamt of it, and we must not accord these totalitarian States the sense that they are 148 the leaders even in this, for as a matter of fact the Scandinavian countries are well ahead of both them and us. We must show that our democracy can do as well as and even better than they can. I sometimes think that the test of democracy to-morrow will be not how it will run its industry—that will be one test, no doubt—but with the increasing measure of leisure that is going to be available to our young people the test will be how they will use their leisure hours. This instrument will be an instrument of abundant good in enabling them to utilise their leisure wisely and well.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Shakespeare)
Before I answer the many points which have been put to me, I should like to say that the whole House echoes the very eloquent sentiments in the peroration of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. Although there has been certain criticism directed from all parts of the House, some of it on points of misunderstanding, there has been a very gratifying response, not dissimilar indeed from the response of the country. A number of hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted to know how far this scheme would apply to their own constituencies; a number of others complained that some section in whom they were interested might be left out—clearly showing the general good will and spirit of co-operation which there is as regards this question of physical education. I want to deal with it in no party sense.
The arguments can be divided into two parts; those generally touching the question of nutrition—and here I will try to keep in order—and questions touching the machinery under which we hope to operate the plan. First, as regards nutrition, the President of the Board of Education made it perfectly plain that although we consider nutrition a very important part of physical welfare, this scheme was aimed at one side only of physical welfare, that is, physical education. But that does not mean to say that the Government under a variety of measures are not on all occasions seeking to improve the standard of nutrition of the people of this country. It would be out of order if I pursued that thought, but clearly that is so. Therefore when it is said, as the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) said, that 149 until the problem of nutrition is solved physical training must be built on feebleness, I think the short answer is that no doctor would say that you must wait until you have solved all the problems of nutrition before you try to improve the health of the people by promoting physical education. The unemployed do not say it. In my own constituency the work done by the Council of Social Service is beyond all praise. There are 12 football clubs for unemployed men. No unemployed man says, "My standard of nutrition is such that I deplore any facilities for physical education." It is surely a great confusion of thought to say that because this particular scheme does not deal with nutrition, therefore we will have nothing to do with it. The practical Socialist, like the right hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. H. Morrison), is providing facilities through the London County Council for meeting the enormous demand from the youth movement in London.
§ Mr. Shakespeare
He does not say "You half-starved Londoners must have no opportunity for physical recreation." What he is doing, under a very able instructor at a very good college, is to turn out as many instructor leaders as he can in connection with the youth movement and the evening institutes. All the countries in Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries, have for a generation laid special stress on the close relationship between health and physical recreation and physical training, and 50 years ago when they started this movement they did not say "Let us wait until every one is agreed on the subject of nutrition." They fortunately went ahead and the result is that the physique of their people is in a very satisfactory condition to-day. The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) put one or two questions on whether a particular swimming bath could be purified under this scheme. Clearly it is almost impossible to answer that and put myself in the position of the local committee, but from what he said I should think that if there were inadequate facilities for a modern swimming bath with proper facilities for changing the water under hygienic conditions, this was the very 150 scheme for his constituency. I cannot say anything more clear than that.
Then he asked whether a boy working in the pit all day got any advantage from this scheme. Here again it is often true that the adolescent is engaged on such a hard job that it is not contemplated that he will go off and indulge in violent gymnastics. Indeed he may go to bed, as the hon. Gentleman said. That is the real reason why we have put this whole scheme on a voluntary basis. At the same time, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that these boys at the week-end would welcome further facilities for physical recreation under a variety of heads. The right hon. Member for Keighley rather thought our scheme applied to the clerical class and might not apply to the artisan class. I think he is under a misapprehension. I suppose there are anything up to 1,750,000 young people in all sections of the community who now enjoy some sort of physical recreation through the voluntary societies and they are by no means confined to the clerical class. He asked whether the system of grants which we had chosen would dry up the voluntary contributions. Our experience is that it has not done so in the past. On the contrary it has rather encouraged voluntary contributions. I can well imagine that when grants are made by the Grants Committee one of the first questions will be: "What is the local interest in the scheme? Are any funds forthcoming from the locality?" If they are not, then it will be clear that there is no interest in the particular scheme. I do not think that the provision for capital grants will dry up the voluntary system of contributions.
§ Mr. Shakespeare
That is provided for in the White Paper. The other questions mostly related to machinery points. The hon. Member for Hemsworth dislikes what he called the professional volunteer. The right hon. Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) asked why we had not used the existing machinery, and he further asked why we could not use the local education authorities' organisers. The answer is that without the machinery we are now suggesting there has been little movement to satisfy the enormous 151 demand for physical recreation. It is true that the local authorities have had power under Section 86 to do a great deal in the way of providing holiday camps, centres for physical training, or facilities for social and physical training for youths up to 18, and in certain circumstances for those over 18, but the plain fact is—I am not blaming them—the local authorities have been so heavily engaged with other matters of public health, in looking after children, slum clearance and housing, that it is no reflection on them that we say that some new type of machinery is needed; and we have provided the simplest machinery possible.
We believe that in any area you can get good co-operation between the local authority and the voluntary bodies. In any area there is such an enormous demand for further facilities that the local education authority will co-operate with the local committees, will survey the whole area and submit schemes whereby the area will benefit—not only the voluntary youth movement organisations, but the local authority itself. I had the opportunity the other night of seeing the work that is being done in Liverpool. One saw there the very closest co-operation between the corporation and the 40 odd bodies now working under the Juvenile Organisations Committee. I am sure that in that spirit local authorities and the voluntary bodies who will be represented on the local committees will survey the needs of the whole area and will not say: "This is Socialism," or "This is the voluntary method of doing it," but will look upon it as a practical problem and submit the best proposals they can to the National Council.
The right hon. Member for North Cornwall asked why we could not use the Central Council for Recreative Physical Training. That is only concerned with physical training. We want a form of machinery which recognises the club. That is why we have chosen the form that we have. Physical training is only incidental to the larger question of club life, which not only introduces the physical training element but the spiritual moral and social element, which we want to cultivate.
§ Mr. Shakespeare
Yes. I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the White Paper. The hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. C. Morrison) made a very interesting suggestion, which we have already thought of, and I hope he will see his suggestion mature very soon. It is a very sensible suggestion. He said that boys loved football and that there are a number of flourishing football clubs, particularly in his constituency, and he suggested that they should be enlisted or that those who represent the football associations should be enlisted so that their services might be available. That has been noted. He also asked whether the Part III authority, which does not exercise the powers of higher education and could not therefore go to the Grants Committee could come into the benefits of the scheme. We will look into that point. It may be that as we are conferring larger powers on such an authority in respect of health, it may be able to qualify.
The hon. Member for London University (Sir E. Graham-Little) raised a number of medical points, which I need not go into now. It will be the duty of the National College to consider such points. One of the weaknesses of physical training has been the almost complete absence of research, not only in this country but abroad. Clearly, you cannot provide severe physical exercises for the unemployed man or severe gymnastic exercises for children. The whole question of the kind of physical training is one that has to be studied and very carefully worked out according to the needs of the recipient.
The hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. E. Evans) made a very excellent contribution. I hope that he spoke for the Welsh University, because he welcomed the scheme in its major parts. He asked whether we could have the advantage of the experience of foreign countries. Certainly. We are constantly in touch with foreign countries. In the last three months we have had delegations to three foreign countries to see what they have done. He further asked why could we not copy Sweden or Denmark? The fact is that the whole syllabus of physical training in the schools of this country has for years been based on the best Swedish methods adapted to English practice. I saw a demonstration at the Albert Hall on Saturday, and many of 153 those exercises are already in vogue in the schools of this country. The new National Advisory Council will follow any beneficial practice in any country in the world, and adapt it to our English methods.
Questions were raised about the National College, which were mostly questions of detail and can be left for another occasion. The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) raised a point as to the position of women in relation to the National College. He will realise that there are four women's colleges which give a three-years' course, but there is nothing comparable to that at the present time for men. He said that these college courses were expensive and asked whether a cheap course could not be provided for women. Although the National College is mainly for men we realise that we must cater for the big demand from women connected with the voluntary movement, who cannot afford the large fees and the time of the long courses. If we cannot get the women's colleges to come into line and provide something of the nature that the hon. Member for Caerphilly envisaged, then we must think out some other method.
The question raised by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is being considered in order that a teacher who is absent for more than a month on some refresher course may not be penalised in regard to his superannuation. The hon. and gallant Member for North-West Camberwell (Major Oscar Guest) who raised the question of community centres, must, I think, have been absent when my right hon. Friend made his speech, because he will find that the Bill enables a community centre to be built outside a housing estate. Under present conditions it cannot in that case qualify for the 50 per cent. grant. Anyone who knows anything about the physical training movement attaches the greatest importance to the development of community centres, particularly on new housing estates, which are centres not only of the social life but of the physical and recreational life of the locality.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
May I put two points which I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to answer? In areas like South Wales and Yorkshire we have many voluntary organisations, and there 154 is overlapping of a vicious kind. Unemployment centres are competing with our workmen's halts and that leads to all kinds of difficulty. Will the Government consult with the Miners' Welfare Committee in these areas? In South Wales we have provided 130 recreation schemes at great expense, and I think it is desirable that these organisations should be consulted. My second point is this. None of these recreation schemes can be made to pay; they have to be subsidised and assisted. The Miners' Welfare Fund is prohibited from giving grants to maintain schemes. We can only give grants to establish schemes. We can give £1,000 or £2,000 to purchase a field and equip it with a bowling green and tennis courts, but we cannot spend one penny on maintaining it. I had a pathetic letter only the other day from an official of a recreation scheme which had cost £7,000 and which was dependent on contributions from the colliers. The colliery has now closed down, and he asks me whether there is any other source of help to which he can appeal to keep going. I notice that £150,000 per annum is to be used for maintenance. Would it be possible for schemes which are already doing this work to make application for assistance out of this £150,000?
§ Mr. Shakespeare
In reply to the first point, I cannot conceive of any one who is considering any scheme in South Wales not utilising to the full the very valuable experience gained by the Miners' Welfare Association in any mining area. In reply to the second point, everyone knows that these voluntary clubs have been doing magnificent work and that they have a hard struggle to get their maintenance expenses. There is provision in the White Paper not only for a capital grant but also for a grant towards maintenance in special cases such as those which the hon. Member has in mind.
§ Major Owen
May I put one point to the Parliamentary Secretary? This is a voluntary scheme and it has been well received throughout the country as well as in this Committee. I notice that as usual Wales has been linked with England in the matter of this National Council. Is there any reason whatever, if the voluntary scheme is going to be made a success, why there should not be a National Council for Wales and a Grants 155 Committee as well? I make this appeal. Circumstances have arisen in my country which is amongst the foremost—
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. and gallant Member is quite entitled to ask a question, but he must not take the opportunity to make a speech.
§ Major Owen
I want to urge upon the Minister to reconsider this question. Is there any reason why there should not be a National Council for Wales as well as for Scotland and England? Is there any reason why there should not be a separate Grants Committee for Wales? If that question has not been considered will it be considered; and shall we in Wales have something which will help us to put into real operation the scheme in Wales and thus produce a generation which will be physically fit?
§ Mr. Shakespeare
I am dealing with the question of physical training and I am sure the Committee will not expect me to go into the question of nationalism. I am quite sure that the council which will be set up will command the respect of Wales.
§ Mr. Shakespeare
Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will listen to my reply. Local committees will have to be set up to survey the local needs of the areas of Wales, and I am sure that the physical welfare of Wales will be well looked after and that the council will satisfy every local need.
§ Mr. Shakespeare
More than that I cannot say. May I end as I began and thank all sections of the Committee for their interest in the scheme and for the offer to co-operate in it as far as they can?
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
May I ask whether the Government propose to introduce the necessary legislation and get it through the House in this Session?
That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £442,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, of the various
Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants in Aid, and preliminary expenses in connection with Physical Training,
§ put, and agreed to.