I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, to leave out from "concerned," to "shall," in line 15, and to insert:the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1933, relating to the compulsory acquisition of land by means of such an order.This Amendment is intended to ensure that within the area of London commons and open spaces shall not be jeopardised.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 2.55 p.m.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
I am very happy to be able to make my first speech for the Board of Education on a Bill which is as important as it is non-contentious. I think that fact is partly due, at any rate, to the excellent start given to it by my right hon. Friend who is now the President of the Board of Trade. I can think of no Measure introduced since the War on which I would more gladly speak than this Measure. The Bill is designed simply to give statutory authority to those parts of the scheme published in the White Paper which cannot be carried out by administrative measures, and the Bill has two main objects. In the first place, it gives statutory authority to the setting up of certain administrative machinery. The framework has actually been set up in advance of legislation, and I think it is well known. It consists of two parts: First, a National Advisory Council of 31 members, under the chairmanship of Lord Aberdare, and, secondly, a Grants Committee of three members, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Pelham. These bodies were set up on 1st March last, and the larger body has had three full meetings and the other body, the Grants Committee, has had eight meetings. The second object of the Bill is to enable grants to be paid by the Board of Education, on the recommendation of this 2174 Grants Committee, to local authorities and to local voluntary organisations for providing various facilities.
I think the House would like to know what has happened since the last discussion on this subject. Action has been taken on four points—firstly, the framework of the local committees; secondly, publicity and propaganda; thirdly, the consideration of various technical questions relating to physical training; and, lastly, consultation with the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training and the National Playing Fields Association on the conditions under which these various grants can be made. This is rather dull, but I should explain that there are three committees. There is a local organisation committee, there is a propaganda committee, and there is a technical policy committee, and each committee has met three times since we last discussed this matter in the House.
The first committee, the committee on local organisation, has been considering the general functions, the areas, the size of these local committees, and the method of appointing them, and a great deal of preliminary work has been done, so that I hope these bodies will begin work by the summer holidays, and I also hope that they will include some young people among their members. The second committee, the committee on propaganda, has been reviewing the various channels of publicity and intends to start an intensive campaign in the autumn. It has given special consideration to films, and I am glad to see that those excellent frames of the Empire Marketing Board have found such good use and that the posters are being exhibited from May to September. I only wish we had the whole 1,600 of them, because they have excellent places and points of vantage throughout the country.
The third committee is a committee on the more technical side of this recreational activity, and has been considering the question of a national college. It has gone a good way and has done very valuable spade work on this question, but what is to me more important is the question of research. Finally, the grants committee has gone very fully into the position of the Central Council of Recreative Physical Training, and I am very glad to say that this body, which has done a lot of hard work in humble 2175 quarters, has had given it a grant to maintain the efficiency of the office, to appoint additional organisers, and to arrange demonstrations, so that before any training college is started it has given money to the body which can most efficiently start the training of teachers and the setting in motion of the various schemes of demonstration throughout the country.
A very similar procedure is being followed in regard to the National Playing Fields Association. We realize that in this case the question how grants can be made to the association, acting as agents for the Government, towards the provision of new playing fields, has to be carefully examined. One of the first points which the Grants Committee has considered—and I am glad to see that it has made considerable progress—is the preparing of a scheme for the various types of facilities for which it will recommend grants by the Board if and when the Bill becomes law. Thus no time has been lost, and as soon as statutory powers have been given, applications can begin to be considered by the Grants Committee straight away. That is very important.
I cannot give any details, but there will be a great variety of organisations and of types of facilities for which grants can be made, and I imagine they will have to make out a list of priorities. They will have to say, "We are going to concentrate on this type of thing in certain areas." It is simply to have a groundwork plan so that they can start straight away. So much for the machinery, which may seem a little complicated, but which, I can assure hon. Members, is in essence very simple. There is no question, to my mind—and I speak with some experience of East London and of some of the coal mining areas both in Wales and in Scotland—that there is a great unsatisfied demand in this country for facilities for playing fields, for equipment, for leaders, and for money, and until this Bill becomes law it is nobody's specific business to meet that demand, although scores of excellent individual efforts, both by 2176 voluntary societies of which we all know and by local authorities, have been going on for some time.
What we aim to do is to stimulate club life and voluntary endeavour, two of the most precious suggestions that we have had. We aim to build up a new leadership of trained men and women. We have not got anything like enough at present, and we aim to inspire the whole nation with a great ideal. That ideal is personal fitness. I do not believe there is any need to qualify that ideal on any moral ground, but if I am asked, "Fitness for what?" my only reply is, "Fitness for the greater enjoyment of life." Healthy homes and fresh food are all important, but they are not the subject of this Bill. I have been able to play most games since I was able to walk, but what has been a normal development for most of us here has been denied to thousands, even millions, of our fellow countrymen. We cannot rest content until every child in the country has equality of access to all that is meant by physical education and has an equal chance to become a healthy citizen and to feel the glow of fitness. This is a measure of positive health, a measure to help to free people from what Dr. Jacks called "physical bondage." My Noble Friend and I will spare no trouble to make this Bill a success. I believe that the need is for action. I should like to thank all parties in the House for their spontaneous co-operation. On the Committee there were members of every party, and I suppose the time taken by this Bill in Committee was almost a record. I thank hon. Members for their spontaneous co-operation, and I commend the Bill through the House to the whole nation.
§ 3.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I am glad to have the opportunity of conveying my congratulations to the new Minister on coming to a Department which has previous interests for him, and which, from the ideas he has just expressed, will be one where we know he will be happy. He began his explanation of this Bill by saying that it had been non-controversial. That depended mainly on my friends and I, for we have offered no obstruction to the Bill. At the same time, there are certain dangers about it which I have expressed 2177 before but to which the hon. Gentleman has not referred. I will point them out once again to him in order that he may bring his mind to bear upon them. We have to remember that this Bill has not very large sums of money to expend when you come down to any particular area—£2,000,000 capital expenditure and about £150,000 annual expenditure. If you ask what that means in any of our constituencies, it means that each constituency will get £3,000 capital expenditure and about £200 a year annual expenditure for the whole constituency. Therefore, we have to be particular as to whether the money in this Bill is going in those directions in which it will give the greatest return.
My main apprehension about the Bill is that it has rather followed the line of least resistance. It has taken the existing organisations. It has made them the basis of the new structure and has given them money to spend. As a matter fact, the existing organisations have concentrated themselves mainly on one class of the community—the clerical class, office workers and black-coated workers. Well over three-quarters of them have catered for this class, because it is a class which has demanded them. It is the sedentary class, having a bit of time to spare in the evening and a bit of money to spare. It is not, however, the class with the greatest need or the class whose physical fitness is of the lowest standard. It is rather better off in wages than the working-class and a great proportion of it has had greater advantages in early life. What I asked myself as soon as I saw the Bill was, "What is it going to do for, say, the girl in a mill who works all day?" Nothing I have heard satisfies me that that section of the community will be the one which will get the most benefit from it and that was why I asked what kind of facilities the Bill provided. The Minister has spoken of the various councils which are to help him to work the Bill, and we are grateful to them, but they are representative largely of middle-class athletes and from the point of view of the class I am considering I am not sure that these sprinters, sloggers, pugilists and tennis stars have really given much thought and care to the problem of the anaemic mill girl, although that is the problem we have to consider.
2178 I have come to the conclusion that the part of the Bill which ultimately will probably prove to be most valuable will be that which deals with physical education rather than with physical recreation, physical education particularly in the form of remedial exercises for those whose work is deleterious to their health. It must not be taken for granted that because young medical men engage in active physical recreation up to the age of 25 or so they do not need physical education. One of the most striking observations which have fallen from Lord Dawson of Penn is that when he has watched hikers, tennis players and even Territorials he has noted that many of them are suffering from defects of posture, stooping shoulders and bad chests, which will pay them out a little later when the health and strength of youth have passed. I have never envied great athletes from the point of view of the permanent fitness for life. When I read of the death of great athletes and note their age I come to the conclusion that they are not quite as well off as the rest of us and I am always reminded of an observation by Plato which I carried away from school, and which seems to be true in this day as in his day:An athlete is on a slippery edge in respect of health.I hope it will not be thought, therefore, that by providing facilities for great athletic prowess on the part of young men and young women we shall be doing the work of building up the physical health of the nation. The Minister spoke of personal fitness as the ideal at which he aimed. I imagine that a man's personal fitness, taking his life as a whole, depends a great deal more on what he does after the age of 25 than on whether he was a centre forward before the age of 25. Therefore, I think that in the long run probably the most important of the sub-committees to which the Minister referred, will be that which will engage in technical research into how health can be improved by simple processes which the ordinary man can follow out day by day in his own home.
I would ask the Minister a couple of questions on that point. I am thinking now of the ordinary citizens who have got to middle age. I have never understood why the British Broadcasting Corporation does not help them more. In Scandinavian countries, one of the 2179 features of life, an ordinary normal feature, is that almost the whole population, up to the age of 80, does physical exercises every morning to the wireless; and a very healthy race they are. I cannot understand why, in the mornings, when the wireless is blank or gives nothing but a few cricket scores now and then, we should not be able to have physical exercises, if we want them. Another question, which perhaps is being considered is why the gramophone companies should not on a proper scale, provide little records to which we could do physical exercies, if the time of the wireless did not suit us. It would do us all good. In the end, probably a few simple things like this, developed by the technical committee, may do far more to build up the physical fitness of the nation than much more elaborate and widely advertised schemes.
Those are merely suggestions. We welcome the Bill, I may say on account of reasons which are rather larger than any contained in the Bill. The Bill calls attention to physical fitness; my belief is that, when the Bill is in operation, very large and perhaps at present unanticipated, results may follow. The result will be to raise a great issue, the whole question of physical fitness and of the standard of life of the nation, which hon. Members on this side of the House have for years been trying to bring to the attention of the nation.
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ Sir Percy Harris
I wish to add my congratulations upon the hon. Member becoming a representative of the Board of Education. He is a young man, but is none the less suitable because of that. I believe that education is an evolutionary process of which we are only at the beginning, and we want to see men with fresh minds and new attitudes in our education departments. We would rather have the President of the Board of Education in the House of Commons, but we have a good substitute. On the other hand—I am not saying this with any sense of hostility to the hon. Gentleman—it is rather a comment that we should have to look to Scotland for our representative of the Board of Education. After all, Scotland has its own Education Department and education Debates, and it is making a new precedent that we should have had to search outside the English 2180 Border in this respect. In many ways, Scotland leads the way in educational ideas. The hon. Gentleman has our good will. It is fortunate that he starts under the very good auspices of this Bill.
I cannot say in how many education Debates I have taken part. Invariably, even when a Minister from this side of the House has been guiding a Bill through Parliament, I have been a critic and have been busy moving Amendments, picking holes—in some cases successfully—and trying to improve the Measure.
The Bill had a harmonious passage through Committee. I think it is right to say that it has the good will of every section of the House, and we wish it good luck. I do not attach, and I am glad that the Minister himself did not attach, too much importance to the Clauses of the Bill. They are largely machinery Clauses. Its success will depend on the driving force behind it, and on the enthusiasm which it is possible to engender in the population and in the local authorities. I attach great importance to the local authorities, because, however good may be the resolutions passed by the Central Committee, or however fine their proposals are, if they cannot get the active and intimate co-operation of the local authorities no great results will follow.
There is no doubt that some—I will not say all—of the inspiration behind this Bill is what has been going on on the Continent. Great publicity has been given in this country to the campaign for improving the physique of the people in certain continental countries, not by any means confined to countries in which there is a dictatorship. Sweden, of course, has been a pioneer in physical education, but great publicity has been given to what has been done in Nazi Germany, and here I would sound a note of warning. I hope that in the experiments which are to be made the organisers will not aim at turning out robots, that they will not indulge too much in these mass drills. They are very interesting, and may actually more or less improve the physique of the people who go through that training, but they do not have the same result as the individual exercise that is gained under the British tradition of organised games.
I am not one of those who minimise the utility of those traditional games of this country, cricket and football, and everything associated with those two great 2181 games. They do something more than merely improve the physique of those who take part in them; they are the strength and foundation of British character. Some people seem to have the impression that a love of football and cricket is confined to the great public schools and the secondary schools, but that is far from the truth. I could take hon. Members to parts of the East End of London where in almost every back street, in spite of motor cars and traffic and all the dangers of modern life, games of cricket are going on, perhaps to the disadvantage of glass windows and of the neighbours, but to the general enjoyment of the children.
Unfortunately, when these small boys grow up to the age of 14, 15, or 16, and the police are less likely to tolerate their sporting enthusiasm, they have to be content with watching other people play cricket and football, becoming mere spectators, and that is where they suffer physically. I hope that this Bill will be used to remove that disadvantage under which the mass of the people labour, and that football and cricket grounds will be available to them at reasonable prices. I think that that will do far more than any organised drills or mass physical training. If cricket pitches and football grounds can be provided for boys, and for girls also, they will find their own opportunities for physical improvement and recreation. I do not want that to be interpreted as hostile to the new Technical National College, but I hope that that National College will not be used only to turn out drill instructors. I recognise the value of drill instructors and the magnificent work that they are doing in drill halls connected with secondary and technical schools and evening institutes, but I hope that this College will have a larger conception of its obligations, and will take a larger outlook as to what physical training means. I hope it will not discourage our traditional games. Meanwhile we wish the new Bill every success. We are conscious that, for it to be a success, we must have publicity, and we hope that those men and women who agree to serve on the committee will be rewarded for their work by a general improvement in the physique of the nation.
§ 3.27 p.m.
Marquess of Clydesdale
I should like, first, to add my congratulations to those 2182 which have been showered on the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has introduced the Third Reading of the Bill. I think the last speaker, perhaps, slightly under-estimated the importance of organised exercises. I should like to remind the house, if the impression has been given that organised exercises are always compulsory abroad, that the organised games started in Germany before the Nazi regime on a voluntary basis. Furthermore, perhaps the country which organises big demonstrations most efficiently in Europe is Czechoslovakia, and on an entirely voluntary basis. While I welcome the national physical training scheme of the Government and the efforts that they are making to improve the health of the people as much as anyone, I should like to make a few comments on one or two aspects of the Bill and touch on one or two possible dangers to the scheme. I intend my remarks to have reference to Scotland particularly.
I think it is a mistake to lay too much emphasis on the Clauses. The Bill should be somewhat flexible. On the construction of the Bill as it stands, it would appear that the National Advisory Council is legally in rather an ambiguous position. It is composed mostly of eminent men and women who have some special knowledge or experience in physical training but they are appointed in a purely advisory capacity. One of their duties is to appoint regional committees, which will do the main work. There is no doubt that the real object of these regional committees will be to cater for the mass of the people—those who are in most need of physical training. But they will make their recommendations direct to the Grants Committee thus short-circuiting the National Advisory Council. The Grants Committee, therefore will become the one co-ordinating body in the country, and I understand from reading the Bill that this Committee has powers to make recommendations regardless of the National Advisory Council or the regional committees. I do not for a moment suggest that that will take place, because the people who are serving on these committees are public spirited, and I am certain that they will co-operate in the right spirit. But the mere fact that this is the position may have the danger of acting as a slight discouragement to members of the regional committees.
2183 There is, as I have said, a great deal to be said for making the National Advisory Council the main co-ordinating body in the country at any rate for sometime. May I put forward a suggestion—it is important as far as Scotland is concerned—that the power of appointment and dismissal of the Secretaries of the regional committees should lie in the hands of the Advisory Council? I feel that there is a danger of regional friction unless the National Advisory Council is vested with strong centralised control. The scheme as it stands may appear very complex, but because a scheme is complex, that does not necessarily mean that it is inefficient. One of the most complex bits of mechanism in aviation is the Rolls Royce engine, and any one who has sat behind a Rolls Royce engine in the air as much as I have, will realise that it is not only a complex but a very highly efficient engine. I feel certain that this scheme can be made to work efficiently.
I now turn to a particular point of the Bill as it affects Scotland in the application Clause. The effect of paragraph 10 is that local authorities are given additional powers to providing buildings, swimming pools, playing fields for physical training. There are, however, certain limitations laid down in the case of premises that come under this category. I am referring to Clause 10, Sub-section (5) (2), in page 7, line 27, which reads:Provided that no concern or other entertainment provided by a local authority under this sub-section shall include—stage performances, and so forth. This particular provision, I understand, was left out in the original Bill, and has been brought in not only to bring the Scottish part into line with England, but with the main object of preventing local authorities from competing by staging various variety performances, and so forth. That may be perfectly all right, but I would ask the Minister to look into the words in line 28:provided by a local authority.For example, in Scotland it is customary for big schools to feature in their annual demonstrations, historical pageants and tableaux, and one might very well say that these entertainments are provided by the local authority. It is true that the ratepayers pay something, however little that may be. Furthermore, there are 2184 entertainments provided by a local authority in which voluntary organisations take part. If the words "provided by the local authority" would make it impossible for schools to run historical pageants and so forth, and would cripple entertainments in which voluntary organisations take part, may I suggest that the Government should look into the matter with a view to making a slight alteration? Possibly in another place it may be found advisable to delete the word "provided" and put in words to this effect: "at which performers are employed to appear." Might I suggest that this might cover the case?
I have said that this scheme is complicated, but what will make for its success is the spirit with which it is laid before the public and the spirit with which the country receives it. I feel confident that those who are appointed on Committees will lay the scheme before the country in the right spirit, and that the country will receive it with that enthusiasm which will ensure its success.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ Mr. W. Astor
May I join in the general welcome of this Bill, in the welcome of the scheme of which it is a part, and in welcoming the manner in which the Parliamentary Secretary introduced it this afternoon? May I take up a point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith), in which he said that he understood that voluntary organisations mainly provided facilities for people of the clerical class. That may have been so in the past, but it is certainly not so now. When I was associated with the National Council of Social Service, a beginning was made with "Keep Fit" classes in Lancashire, and several thousand mill girls have been participating in physical training classes in Lancashire. In Durham there are a large number of "keep fit" classes for men and women, and in the boys' clubs in London and the Provinces where games of all sorts are provided, the members cannot be called people of the clerical class. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the voluntary societies have covered the widest range and have not been confined to a small section of society.
One of the most important things which the partners who are carrying out this scheme must remember, is the ques- 2185 tion of kit. There is nothing more pathetic than to see people trying to do physical exercises in unsuitable clothes, and I hope that one of the first objects of the grant will be the grant of cheap and simple kit. Kit can be provided very cheaply, arid it is always tremendously appreciated. I hope that the great organisation for hiking, the youth hostel organisation, will not be left out. There is great danger that the local authority may think that this organisation does not come particularly under its aegis, that the townspeople will not want to spend money on them in the counties, and that the county people may think that they ought not to spend money on hostels for people who come from the towns. This is one of the healthiest and finest movements that the country has produced since the War, and I hope it will receive its due consideration.
If there are any hon. Members who think that organised physical training is a form of militarism, I would ask them to come with me to my constituency in Fulham where the borough council, which is a Socialist borough council, has brought in a full-time physical organiser. It was a brave thing to do as he was an ex-Army man, and it has not prevented him from organising physical classes in parks, in connection with schools, for the unemployed and for all classes. It has been a great popular success, and it can be done without any trace of militarism. If any hon. Member has any lingering feeling about militarism in this connection, I would give him a cordial invitation to come and see for himself what can be done without the slightest trace of militarism.
There is also the question of exercises by the British Broadcasting Corporation in the morning. I have heard these exercises over the wireless as they are given in America. I do not say that one always did them, for sometimes one sat in one's bath and thought of other people doing them. But the wireless did keep the subject of physical fitness in one's mind. In a country like America, where broadcasting is on a commercial basis, advertisers, who are commercial people, recognise that in providing these physical exercises they are providing a real need, and experience has shown that there is a real need. Advertisers there are very shrewd people and they know 2186 whether they are satisfying a public demand or not. The experience in America proves that there is a public demand for physical training exercises given over the wireless.
I wish this new Council and its organisation all success. A physically-trained world is a most complicated world. There are many organisations, with different theories and different traditions, some organisations with a great deal to do and not much money, and some organisations that are perhaps in rather the reverse position. This scheme will mean a great deal of drive and a great deal of publicity. I hope that the Minister will not at any moment relax in the drive and the publicity that are necessary, and I can assure him that he will have tremendous support both in the country and in this House for anything that he may do.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Wakefield
As a Member of the National Advisory Council I am delighted, and I am sure my colleagues on the Council will be delighted, at the quick and smooth passage of this Bill to-day. During the past week a number of people have said to me, "Well, what are you doing? We have not heard much of you since you were set up." They do not seem to realise that until this Bill is passed through the House, although much spadework could be and has been done, no money is available to advance the work. The Minister has described in detail the work which has been done during the past three months by the Council and by the sub-committees which have been set up. I would add that the main work facing the National Advisory Council at this moment is the establishment of area committees. It is quite clear that our work cannot be properly done unless the area committees are properly constituted throughout the country, and that takes time. It is important, if the full co-operation and assistance of all those who will have to work with these area committees is to be obtained, that the members who serve on those committees must be very carefully chosen. But as the Minister has said, we hope to have the committees established by August, and then all will he ready for a campaign during the coming winter.
I am glad that the right hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) raised a number of points, because it enables 2187 them to be answered. His first point was a suggestion that perhaps voluntary organisations had up till now catered only for black-coated workers or those engaged in sedentary occupations. As a member of the National Playing Fields Association he will be glad to hear that the Association has provided, or helped to provide, something like 1,600 playing fields and open spaces during the 12 years of its existence. The policy which has guided the Association has been to provide open playing spaces in those very areas which he described—where the need is greatest. Neither class nor creed, age or sex is considered. It is merely a question where the need for these open spaces and playing fields is greatest. The right hon. Member also hoped that the National Advisory Council would not aim at encouraging, as he said, first-class pugilists and sprinters who can do the 100 yards under 10 seconds; in fact champion athletes of all kinds and descriptions. Speaking for myself, and I am sure also for my colleagues on the Council, our aim is to try to make the great mass of the people, young and old, physically fit, and to provide facilities for improving their general physical fitness and well-being. We do not want to get a few sprinters doing the 100 yards in 10 seconds dead; we would far rather have a million people doing 100 yards in 12 or 13 seconds. That is our objective. In this connection perhaps I may give an illustration. I hope in the years to come we shall see at our athletic meetings not a lot of prizes being given to a few individual runners and jumpers, but that we shall see whole villages and towns competing against each other, relay teams of girls, women and young men competing, so that you will have a whole town running against another town, in relay of 100 or 200 athletes. The result would not depend on the success and ability of one or two outstanding athletes but on the general excellence attained by all. I hope I have satisfied the right hon. Gentleman as to our aim.
We have two objectives, first to develop throughout the country a stronger will to be fit, especially in the younger generation, and, secondly, to ensure so far as fitness can be achieved from actual exercises, that the facilities for such 2188 exercises are readily available to everyone who desires to make use of them. These are our two main objectives. The hon. Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) hoped that we should not try to turn out mechanical robots, and that we should not stultify our national games. The objects which we have set before us are not to have great mass mechanical drill formations. We want to try to develop a desire for physical health and recreation by the encouragement of team games. I think that by playing team games you can at the same time develop mental activity as well, and thus achieve the harmonious development of body, mind and soul. That is the objective towards which our aims must be devoted. We want to see a development of community centres. We should like to see in this development the playing of games work hand in glove with the development of other social activities. I hope that this brief expression of our ideals, which I feel sure are the ideals which animate all other members of the Council, will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman and that we may see them achieved in the not far distant future.
If those objects are to be achieved, the local authorities, the voluntary organisations—ranging from those concerned with adolescents and boys' and girls' clubs to those whose objects are more directly associated with physical recreation, such as the National Association of Swimmers—athletes, cyclists, those who go walking and rambling, and campers, must all play their part, and it is for their help and co-operation that we must ask if we are to make a success of the work entrusted to us. But there is more in this movement than the mere provision of open spaces and playing fields. It must be animated by an ideal, and that ideal is the achievement of the physical wellbeing, and thereby the general happiness and welfare, of the people of this country.
§ 3.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I wish to express my praise of the Bill on its Third Reading. I cannot say that I wish the same effects to come from it as does the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), for as I get on in life, I do not know that I want to take part in mass races of the people of my native town against the people of other towns. As we get on in life, 2189 we should have exercise, but much more gentle exercise than that suggested by the hon. Member. There is one feature of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) which has perhaps been a little neglected by the House. The right hon. Gentleman appealed for that portion of the community which undoubtedly needs opportunities for physical recreation, and perhaps I may enlist the sympathy of the Parliamentary Secretary if I recall to him some of the experiences which I had in my younger days in the East End of London, with which apparently the hon. Gentleman is, or was, familiar. In those days the average county council schoolboy got his cricket in the summer up against a lamp-post. It is true that he also had additional facilities in the London County Council's parks, but those facilities were not all that could be desired since there were so many cricket teams crammed into a very limited area that often, as one was batting at the wicket, one was in danger not only from one's own bowler but from a bowler belonging to an adjacent team.
Even to-day, in spite of all the advance that has been made in sport and physical recreation, in the London County Council schools the cricket and football are mainly carried on by the voluntary efforts of the school teachers, who are very limited in the amount of equipment which they have provided for their boys and girls. Therefore, I appeal to the hon. Gentleman that when this Bill becomes law, he should consult with what is probably the biggest education authority in this country, and see whether something more cannot be done for those county council schoolboys. I agree with the hon. baronet the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that it would be lamentable for this country if the day should come when we neglect those national games of cricket and football. I cannot say that I look with too much favour upon mass demonstrations of sport. They may be all very well for some of us to go and watch, while sitting in a comfortable seat, but from the point of view of the young man or the young woman, the individual game is the best game of all. I would like to re-echo the request made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley that the B.B.C. should broadcast some musical records in the morning so that those of 2190 us who wish, under great disadvantages, to do our "daily dozen" may have a better opportunity of getting out of bed and practising those few movements which give us physical fitness.
§ 3.55 p.m.
My first duty is to thank hon. Members for the kind words of encouragement which they have addressed to me on this the first occasion on which I have spoken here on behalf of the Board of Education. A great many suggestions have been made in the course of this Debate and I think it says something for the original draft of this scheme that every point which has been raised this afternoon falls naturally to be considered by one of the three committees which are to be set up under the Bill. Some of them indeed have already been considered. The question raised by the last speaker regarding the British Broadcasting Corporation and the playing of gramophone records is to be taken up, and I am sure that the suggestion will not fall on deaf ears. I would like to hammer home the answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) about organisations for clerical workers and organisations for other classes of workers. I have had some experience of voluntary societies of this kind and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the suggestion which has been made concerning them is not true. They do cater for the very poorest. But I am also aware of the fact that even when you take into account, all the cubs and the scouts and the other organisations dealing with boys, there are still 75 per cent. of the boys of this country who do not belong to any organisation at all. That is the problem. I went out of my way in my earlier speech to say that we would not rest content until every child had equal access to physical education.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I think the point of my right hon. Friend was that the clubs which cater for clerical workers are much better equipped with facilities of every kind than other organisations which cater for the industrial classes.
Then those which are worse equipped will be able to put their claims before the Grants Committee. The provision of such things as cricket equipment and other equipment of various 2191 kinds, will be considered by the Grants Committee. The other point which has been emphasised is the variety of methods of approach to this question. While we all wish to encourage the games which are characteristic of this country there is a great deal to be said for physical education as such. I am told by experts that at the present time we are all going about half-dead and that there a few very simple exercises which any Member of the House could take every day, and which would make a great difference to the health, the physique and the happiness of those who engaged in them. We do not quarrel with that theory at all. The right hon. Gentleman opposite expressed some doubt about utilising existing organisations. I think in this matter we must build on what we have got. I have the greatest admiration for what is being done in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Denmark 2192 and elsewhere, but I am still convinced that we have to proceed on the basis of our characteristic British games. I am certain that if we do that and retain the spirit mentioned by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), we shall make this organisation a complete success.
§ Question "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 2.
§ Adjourned at One Minute before Four o'Clock until Monday next, 14th June.