HC Deb 20 June 1938 vol 337 cc830-51

Postponed Proceeding resumed on Question proposed on Consideration of Question, That a sum, not exceeding £32,502,330, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1939, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various establishments connected therewith, including sundry grants in aid, and grants and expenses in connection with physical training and recreation.

Question again proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £32,502,230, be granted for the said Service."

9.56 p.m.

Mr. A. Somerville

When the Debate was interrupted, I was going to put this point, that at the present time we have in the latest central schools pupils who ought to be in secondary schools, and in the secondary schools we have a good many pupils who ought to be in selected central schools, but, so far as I know, there is no means of transfer from one to the other. In the light of that fact, it is very interesting to note what has been done and is being done in France. The Minister of Public Instruction, M. Zay, last year passed a Bill to organise national instruction in France in three degrees, the first degree to be up to the age of 12, and the second degree from 12 to 18, but divided into two sections—12 to 15 and 15 to 18—and here comes the interesting experiment that they are making. At the beginning of the second degree, in the first class of the second degree, called the sixième classe, there is a picked staff, and that staff, in conjunction with the parents and with the inspectors, decide what is the best line of study for each of the pupils in that class. Then the section is divided into three sides, classical, modern, and technical, and according to the form and capacity and bent of each pupil, that pupil is placed in one of the three sides. That has the great advantage that you have the pupils together, and if, as time goes on, a pupil is found to be more suited, say, for the modern side than for the classical, he can be transferred. We cannot do that with our present system, and I recommend consideration of that point to the Parliamentary Secretary, though I know there are very great difficulties in the matter of salaries, which are not the same in the central schools as in the secondary schools.

I would add, with regard to secondary schools, that I think we should look to them to train leaders. I do not mean to say that you will not find leaders in the other schools—you will, as the pupils are developed—but in the main we want to develop leaders in the secondary schools, and to develop the power of leadership we have to develop a sense of responsibility, self-control, love of truth, and the power to face the results of truth—the development of the critical faculties so that the mind can think for itself and not be led away by slogans. We know the slogan in Italy at the present time—"Believe, obey, fight." You have to cultivate the virtues of obedience and belief in order to be able to fight. It is interesting, in connection with that, to note what has been said by Aldous Huxley in his recent book "Ends and Means": Truth and kindliness are held by a dictator to be virtues only in so far as they do not conflict with his aims.…… He openly declares that truth should be disregarded in national propaganda. He affirms that the end justifies the means, and the end is the triumph of a section of the human species over the rest. He inculcates minor virtues, such as obedience, physical courage, and fitness, but disparages the higher virtues, kindliness and love of truth, without which the minor virtues are merely instruments for doing evil with increased efficiency. May I just add that I was delighted to hear the Parliamentary Secretary say what he did about rural schools? It is a most satisfactory thing to find that the authorities of the Board are alive now to the great importance of efficient teaching of the right kind in our rural schools. He rightly said that the key to the efficiency of the rural schools is the teacher. If you want to get the rural schools to fulfil the end which they should fulfil, and that is to instil a love and knowledge of rural matters in the pupils, you must have teachers who care for the country, who care for things rural. I am glad to hear there are special courses for such teachers, but, if possible, recruit them from the land itself. On Empire Day, in the morning, I took part in a celebration at a country school in a part of my constituency with regard to which I owe gratitude to this House for having saved it from industrialisation, which would have been destructive of the character of the district. I refer to Waltham St. Lawrence and White Waltham. It was a great pleasure to see what went on at the school—the physical training, which was extremely well done, and the play, All this was in the open air, and one felt that here was real good work being done.

I would venture to say to the Parliamentary Secretary that two of the main things that are necessary in order to render the rural schools efficient are, first, what he said himself, the teacher, the right teaching, and then the provision of ground for gardens, for instance, and the teaching of gardening and the care of country things. I was very glad to see at that school that the head teacher was particularly interested in that work, with very good results. Last year—and this is a propos of the village school being the centre of village life—in another part of the constituency, not very far off, they were so impressed with the need of preserving their school as a centre of village life that they collected nearly £2,000 in order to save the school. There, too, I am glad to say, there was sufficient land to teach gardening, and that activity was in full vigour. I will say no more except to express the hope that the Board will realise in an increasing degree the need for the encouragement and safeguarding of the rural schools at a time when it is so necessary to keep the rural population on the land.

10.5 p.m.

Mr. Tomlinson

The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the fascinating developments that have taken place in elementary education in the past few years and paid a glowing tribute to the local education authorities for the way in which they are attempting to carry out their work. I want to deal with one aspect of the question which has not yet been touched on and in which the claims of the local education authorities have not received the considerations to which they are entitled. For many years the local authorities have been asking the Board of Education to appoint a committee to inquire into the question of grants. The need for such an inquiry has been made out time and time again. I used to wonder in my early days in educational administration what the purpose and meaning of the grant system were. I began to ask questions to find out how this peculiar system grew up, and I was never able to find anyone who could put it upon a basis that was understandable. There may be some Members of this Committee who understand it. If so, all I can say is that they are cleverer than the people who are administering education in the local authorities, for I have not found anyone who really understands it.

The Fisher formula, on which the present system is based, was intended to give a sort of fifty-fifty deal whereby the local authorities and the Government provided equal amounts. It does not work out exactly in that way, but it was intended that something like that should be the net result. The grant is 36s. per scholar in average attendance plus a varied percentage for different things. It was, for instance, 60 per cent. for teachers' salaries, 50 per cent, for school medical services, and 20 per cent., raised at different times to 50 per cent., for building grants. Then we get an accumulation in later years. Travelling facilities, for instance, which have been spoken of as necessary in reorganisation, particularly in rural areas, rank for only 40 per cent. I wonder why there is this differentiation, except that it works all the time to the advantage of the Government. The proportion of the grant which the local authorities have been called upon to pay has been progressively increasing until to-day it can be said that it is nearer sixty-forty against the local authorities than the fifty-fifty it was originally intended to be. May I also call the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to the fact that although the deficiency grant was abandoned in 1931 in order that the 10 per cent. reduction in teachers' salaries might accrue to the Government, the deficiency grant was not restored when the salaries were restored, so that something which was taken from the local authorities has never been returned.

That is what I call a new type of legislation by administration, administering out of existence something that was there. The same thing has happened with regard to maintenance grants. Children in elementary schools between 14 and 15 can be provided with maintenance allowances, but the Board have consistently refused to pay grants upon that expenditure. The authorities have the statutory right to make that expenditure, but the Board refuse to pay their proportion of it. We should have legislation as it is passed by this House and not as it is improved by administration. I wonder whether the time has come when we can have a new formula that can clearly be understood. All educational facilities are of the same fundamental value and if they can be justified at all they should rank for grants at the same rate. I see no reason why there should be a 20 per cent. grant for one thing that is reckoned to be essential, while another essential service ranks for 50 per cent. I believe that the Minister's continued refusal to grant this inquiry or to set up a Departmental Committee to go into the question is based upon the fact that the present system cannot be justified. It works against the local authorities in two ways. There is, for instance, the 7d. rate which goes into the formula. All these varying percentages are calculated less a 7d. rate. That means that in the case of a local authority which is prepared to retain a low assessment, the 7d. rate brings in a lower figure. If there is an increase in the assessment it penalises the authority to the advantage of the Board. This system puts a temptation in the way of local authorities to adopt a lower assessment. The fact that we have a declining school population means of necessity that where the formula is based upon an average attendance, the local authorities must be suffering. The overhead charges remain, even though the school population goes down.

I am sorry it is not possible to develop the question of the size of classes. It can easily be shown that large classes are uneconomic. We have teachers fully trained and qualified, we spend a great deal of time and money in their training, and then we set them to address mass meetings in class rooms. It is like giving an artist a whitewash brush and expecting to get the best out of him. We are not doing justice to the teacher by expecting him to train such large numbers. It cannot be done, and I object to the waste of paying high salaries to individuals, who are well qualified to receive them, but who are not given the opportunity to get the best out of the children because we ask them to do too much. I ask that these questions should be taken more fully into consideration.

On the question of nursery schools, about which the Noble Lady the Member for Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) spoke, there is an idea abroad in some quarters that the nursery school is to help the working-class mother and is only for the working-class child. I realise its value to the working-class mother and her child, but I contend that, from the standpoint of education, the only child of well-to-do parents will derive more advantages in later life from a nursery school training than will the child of the working classes, because sooner or later the child of the working class will mix among its own kind, whereas the nursery school provides the only opportunity which comes to many of these only children. Nursery classes, on the value of which the Noble Lady certainly threw some doubt, may be a poor substitute for nursery schools, but I would encourage them on the ground that if we cannot have nursery schools—and under the county authority in Lancashire we have not got one nursery school—it will be as well to have nursery classes as the next best thing.

I hope that what has been said in this Debate with regard to the Appointed Day will be noted by the Minister in charge. It seems that doubt arose over the weekend because of something said by Sir Percival Sharp. It was felt that the Government were weakening on the question of the Appointed Day. In the article which appeared in "Education" Sir Percival Sharp was speaking entirely for himself as an individual. He did not speak on behalf of the Association of Education Committees, and after the meeting at Bournemouth the executive of that body met, last Friday night, and having heard the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, and his reference to the Appointed Day affirmed their opinion that there ought to be no alteration of the date as fixed by the Act. As they are the executive committee of, perhaps, the most important educational association in the country I hope that notice of their opinion will be taken by the Minister.

10.18 p.m.

Mr. Morgan

At this late hour I cannot make the speech which I should like to have made on the important occasion of these Estimates and can only, I feel, address a few questions to the Parliamentary Secretary. I should have liked to take the opportunity of congratulating the Parliamentary Secretary on the great work he has done for education in what he calls his excursions up and down the country. No man who has filled his position has had a more lofty conception of what popular education should be for a democracy, and I wish that I had time to follow him into one of the speeches he recently made and to say how much I agree with his sentiments about what should constitute really true and free education in a democratic country like this. But let me say this if I say nothing else, that I am alarmed at the tenour of the Debate to-day, interrupted though it was, in taking such a gloomy view of education in this country. There is no country in the world, so far as I know, that has been so successful in solving the supreme problem of adjusting popular education to modern conditions of life and livelihood as this country; and I do not think that any of my honourable opponents opposite would disagree with that view.

We have got a good way forward in solving this great problem, and there is no country in the world which has done more to create a practical system of vocational guidance. Although we have heard so much about nursery schools—I have to race through this in order to keep within my time—I should like to say that we have not made a very bad start with nursery schools. If the Government are being teased about what they have done regarding nursery schools I do not think they stand alone, because if I remember rightly even the London County Council have not fulfilled all their promises regarding nursery schools. I have no time to deal with that subject.

I hope that the Board of Education will take steps to see that the part-accomplished scheme of reorganisation is completed as soon as possible. Two things give me some concern in the matter of reorganisation. One is that in the great town areas there is a tendency to reorganise by cutting out the infant schools. In a recent speech the Parliamentary Secretary very rightly said that in no part of education was more progress being made than in the infant departments. If large areas are tending to cut out the infant schools in the process of reorganisation, they are making a mistake. The same thing is to be feared in rural parts of the country. There seems to be a tendency in reorganisation schemes in country areas to get rid of the village schoolmaster, who has for so long been the centre of social activity. That is to be regretted. There is so much of which we can be proud in our educational system that it is a great pity that we should all have been deploring some aspect of it. I know that there is much to be done, particularly on the physical training side and with regard to starting a real course of civics in our schools, but we have to beware of the sad lessons taught us in some of the totalitarian States of the Continent.

I would finish my very short incursion into the Debate by asking one or two questions of the Parliamentary Secretary. Is he satisfied that everything possible is being done for unemployed teachers? If we have to do anything in this discussion it is to insist that we spend wisely the money that is being voted; does the Parliamentary Secretary think it is wise that in one district, for example, the West Riding of Yorkshire, there should be over 70 teachers unemployed? All those teachers have cost the State money to train. Several cases have come to my knowledge of teachers acting as bath attendants or as librarians at 6s. 9d. a week. There are two remedies; either we must limit the number of entrants into the training colleges or we must reduce the size of classes. I do not care which of those remedies the Parliamentary Secretary likes to select.

There are other questions with which I would have liked to deal if I had had the time. Many of us on this side of the Committee are keen upon educational matters. We can agree with some hon. Members opposite in deploring the conditions of the black-listed schools. I make the suggestion, and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree to bear it in mind, that we should deal with the junior departments of the non-provided schools in the same way as we have agreed to do in the 1936 Act with the senior schools. Whatever it costs should be spent, and we should get rid of these schools. There is only one other point that I should like to mention now, and that is the question of the staffing of schools in the rural areas. It has been dealt with at some length, but I should like to emphasise that the rural child should have the same opportunities as the child in the urban district of getting proper attention, and should have properly trained teachers to look after him.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Morgan Jones

I think I shall be expressing the view of all Members of the Committee when I say that it is somewhat deplorable that our discussion on education to-day should have been so greatly curtailed. By reason of the Rules of the House, we have had to sacrifice something like two and a-half hours of our time to a discussion on another subject, quite a proper subject, of course, but one not very closely related to the subject for which to-day was allotted.

I wish to make two points which are more or less strictly Welsh. With regard to the first I can speak for all Members representing Welsh constituencies, regardless of party. I happen to be chairman of the Welsh Parliamentary Group this year, and I think I shall carry their complete assent in what I am about to say. We are very disturbed, as a Welsh group in this House, by the fact that no provision is being made, either by the Board of Education as such or by the National Fitness Council, for a college for physical training in Wales. I hope that this matter will not be dismissed lightly. Scotland, I believe, has one, if not two such organisations. England has one at Leeds, and it will have another very large one under the National Fitness Council in Surrey; and I think it is time that the Welsh claim received more consideration from the Board of Education, as well as from other Departments, than it has received up to the present moment. I beg the hon. Gentleman to consider whether the claim of Wales in this matter is not sufficiently strong to merit a rather more agreeable response than it has had in recent months.

The second point is one which has been put to me by an hon. Member on my side of the House who is closely acquainted with the problem in question. I believe there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction among local authorities in South Wales arising from the somewhat different treatment that is meted out to them, as compared with the social service organisations in South Wales, from the point of view of grants. I will give a case in point. I believe it to be true that the Social Service Council in Wales is able, because of its larger resources, mainly due to grants, to pay a much more generous scale to its lecturers for evening class work than local authorities are able to pay. That, really, is not good enough, because it hampers the local authorities in the choice of appropriate lecturers and teachers. I hope the hon. Gentleman will look into that point, because, if there be any justification for the complaint, it clearly ought to be removed.

Mr. Lindsay

I am not quite sure what the hon. Gentleman is referring to. Is it the National Council of Social Service?

Mr. Jones

Yes, the National Council of Social Service. My third point is not strictly a Welsh point, but has, I believe, a much more general application. We think the time has come when the Ministry of Education might consider in a rather more generous way the problem of the cost of conveyance of children from their homes to the schools which they happen to be attending. Of course, he will realise that in some of these counties there are little villages and hamlets far removed from the new schools, and the cost of transport is apt to be somewhat heavy. I believe the claim which has been advanced already to the Board, and which I venture to advance again, is sound—that the Board should consider raising the percentage of grant from 20 per cent. to something higher.

The Parliamentary Secretary made a speech which was much more attractive in phraseology than in fact, if he will allow me to put it that way. It was a most alluring picture that he presented, but it did not reflect the position as we see it. He talked about the recent book which has been issued, making an examination of the rate of admission of children who had once been to elementary schools into the universities. He advanced a certain number of figures to controvert the figures published in the book. We are somewhat disturbed by what we consider to be a tendency to reduce proportionately the entrance of secondary school children to universities, as compared with the entrance of pupils who pass from public schools. Do not let that proposition be dismissed too lightly. Formidable figures can be adduced to show that the tendency will require careful watching; and, indeed, I do not need to turn to Mr. Glass's book on the point, for figures from the annual reports of the Board show that there has been a tendency in the wrong direction.

The total admissions to universities in England and Wales in 1929 amounted to 9,757, and from grant-aided schools the number was 3,638. Then, after a beneficent Labour Government had been in office, the figures in 1931 were 10,831 total entrants, of whom 4,132 were from grant-aided schools; but in 1935 the total admissions numbered 11,655, of whom 3,824 were from grant-aided schools. I do not know what the correct deduction may be. My inference may be wrong. The hon. Gentleman may put another side to the case. But I submit that these figures do challenge very close inquiry, because, after all, it is true that the population of our secondary schools tends to increase. The number of children who pass into the secondary schools tends to increase: therefore, the number of children who pass into the universities ought to increase. Our complaint is that the tendency is in the opposite direction. We beg the Parliamentary Secretary to look into this at his leisure.

I will pass to the subject of reorganisation. This has now been before the country as a recommendation for something like 12 years. In 1926 the Hadow Committee made its recommendations. That is a very long time in the history of education. I think it is not too much to claim that in 12 years we should register a much larger measure of advance. Even now, I gather from the hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon, there remains a substantial portion of the work uncompleted. That is reorganisation in the sense that is now accepted by the Board, but, frankly, I have very much doubt as to the educational content of much of this reorganisation. Much of it, in my judgment, is little more than shifting children from one school to another. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) discussed very interestingly a French experiment dealing with the question of reorganisation, but the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that the central idea involved in the French model is not entirely new to education in this country. The National Union of Teachers, if I remember rightly, have advanced a proposal for multiple bias schools before now, and I believe that you cannot really reorganise and give equality of opportunity and educational content to the organisation unless you have a sort of multiple bias school for the 11-plus children. I know that it is late to do it, and it might be almost impossible as the problem may have become almost insuperable by now. I would prefer to have multiple bias schools for 11-plus children, giving a chance to move them according to adaptability and ability when the abilities are disclosed and the aptitudes are discovered.

Whether that be too late or not, I say to the hon. Gentleman that I am convinced that you are not going to build up reorganisation effectively in this country until all schools of 11-plus work under the same regulations. I am sure of it; it simply cannot be done. You will have artificial distinctions between the secondary schools and the senior schools or the central schools, as the case may be, and those artificial distinctions, whether intended or not, will create the impression in the mind of the parent that one school is more meritorious than another school. You must not have grades of schools, because if you do you will give ground for the suspicion, to put it no higher than that, that you are working a sort of class conscious type of education for the 11-plus children. You are not going to do it effectively as it ought to be done until you apply the same regulations for 11-plus schools, be they secondary or anything else. I will not enter into an argument as to the merits of central schools or senior schools, but I cling tenaciously to the general demarcation laid down by the Hadow Committee. We must try to produce schools which cater for those two classes, the academically-minded and the more practical-minded, and I prefer the school which houses both sorts under the same shelter, yielding opportuntiies for transference from time to time without creating any sort of invidious distinction between one type and another.

I turn to the next point discussed here to-night, which, I think, is vital. It is the question of the raising of the school-leaving age. I know that I cannot raise the point too far because it would involve legislation. I was very glad to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) give the Committee the result of the deliberations of the executive of the education authorities at Bournemouth during the week-end. There is no argument for postponing the raising of the school-leaving age. Let me remind the Committee of what has happened. When we were in office our party introduced two Bills to raise the school-leaving age. The last one which came to this House was defeated not on the issue of the raising of the school-leaving age, but upon the religious issue. We had to deal with a situation which was brought about by an enormous increase in the school population, called the bulge, which represented children who would not emerge from the schools until 1934. In order to prepare for that, we stimulated the colleges and universities to provide more teachers, we made provisions for special teachers, and we also said that we would increase the grant from 20 per cent. to 50 per cent. in respect of all buildings contractually undertaken between September, 1929, and September, 1932. The crisis came, so that they had only two years. Millions of extra [...]ney were contracted for by local authorities under the operation of that increased grant from 20 to 50 per cent.

What has happened since that scheme was defeated? The children who would have come under our Bill if it had become an Act from 1933 would have had six years, from 1933 to 1939, during which they would have had the benefit of the school-leaving age. That was lost. The present Government have done the same thing that we did. They have offered to increase the grant from 20 to 50 per cent. Therefore, with our effort and the effort of the present Government it is impossible for the local authorities to say that they have not had a chance. They have had two chances—the chance that we gave them for two years and the chance which the present Government are giving them by their increased grant. Therefore, if the local authorities come along and say they are not ready, it is their own laziness and their unwillingness or inability to prepare for the job. The present Government have not to deal with as big a problem as that with which we had to deal. They have to deal with a much smaller school population. The school population is declining. There are fewer children, and consequently there are more class rooms available. The result is that the case against the raising of the school-leaving age in September, 1939, weakens with every month that passes. I hope the Board will set its teeth firmly against any attempt to postpone the raising of the school-leaving age when the time comes.

It may be argued that the denominational bodies do not like it. Here, again, we must be firm. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) said, rightly, that many members of local authorities, teachers representatives and many people interested in education as such, accepted the Bill of 1936 as a compromise; many of them did so unwillingly. They accepted it, not because they love the denominational cause, but they said that they did not mind making terms on the denominational issue if they could get the raising of the school-leaving age as a consequence. If we are to be told that, having got a grant made possible of from 50 to 75 per cent. to the denominational schools, and having availed themselves of our compromising spirit, they say, "We do not want an extra number in our schools and we cannot raise the school-leaving age now," it would be a breach of confidence with those who in all good faith supported the Bill of 1936, though unwillingly. There was another difference between our Bill and this Bill. In the Bill which we proposed there was provision for maintenance allowance, but in this Bill there is no such provision. So we were accepting a burden that is not present in connection with this Bill.

I want to ask one or two questions on this matter. We take it for granted, and shall continue to take it for granted, that the Government stand firm by the Act as it is now. The Parliamentary Secretary went to Bournemouth and perhaps used an unfortunate phrase which has been misunderstood. Of course, he did not seek deliberately to mislead the conference. We also take it that the Government mean that they want the benefit of the Act to extend to as many children as possible, otherwise there is no benefit in the Act. How is that to be done? Clearly the best way is to reduce the number of exemptions to the lowest possible limit. That cannot he done if it is left to the initiative or decision of local authorities acting, so to speak, in vacuo. Obviously the line for the Government is to stimulate regional agreements among local authorities so as to get a common interpretation of the phrase "beneficial employment," and by doing so to extend the area of the school-leaving age to larger and wider districts on the same terms. If they could get regional agreements upon a common interpretation of "beneficial employment" it would be tantamount to getting a fairly national standard interpretation of the word "beneficial."

It is only in that way that you can avoid confusion in interpretation between one local authority and another. I found myself upon the experience in regard to the by-laws with reference to the school-leaving age. When that was left to local authorities some acted sympathetically and some did nothing. The result was confusion in areas where the by-law was applied, and in neighbouring areas where it was not applied. We must avoid that as far as we can, and I beg the Government—I believe they will—to use all the authority at their command to see that local authorities arrive at a common inter- pretation of the phrase "beneficial employment." I apologise to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Committee for having spoken so long, but I trust we shall have an assurance from him that real attention is to be given to the business of reorganisation, and that it will be agreed by this House that unless and until an overwhelming case is presented for the postponement of the Act—I see no possibility of that being done—the House will stand by its decision of 1936 that children in 1939 shall attend school until the age of 15.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. Lindsay

In the few moments which remain I will try to reply to one or two major points which have been raised. I am sorry that I cannot possibly deal with many of the interesting points which hon. Members have put forward. Like the hon. Member, I also regret that our Debate just when it was being warmed up by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. A. Somerville) was interrupted, and I am afraid that there are some hon. Members who are going home with undelivered speeches in their pockets. There is one point I should like to make, because it runs through all the speeches and commentaries which have been made, and it was for this reason that I gave a brief description of education in this country. It is a decentralized system. We are not living in a totalitarian State—for this particular purpose I sometimes wish we were, but we are not—and everybody is agreed that it is very much better to have local authorities with duties and powers. We can visit with punishment the neglect of duties, but I am afraid we can only visit with the disapproval of my Noble Friend and myself the neglect of powers. That is as far as we can go. We can encourage, we can persuade, we can do almost everything short of compelling. That is the position with regard to nursery schools and the provision of meals and feeding generally, but it is not the case with regard to elementary education, where we have given to local education authorities very definite duties.

The Member for Keighley (Mr. Lees-Smith) raised a number of points to which I should like to refer. The first was exemptions, and it was also raised by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones). The Committee will be aware that whereas local education authorities are bound by Statute to have regard to a number of considerations the decision as to whether or not exemptions shall be granted is given in their absolute discretion. In the words of the Act: The determination of the authority shall be conclusive. I am dealing with the Act, but what we have done is this. We have sent out a circular of good advice from which I should like to quote: In order to obviate complaints by parents it is clearly desirable to avoid a situation in which adjoining authorities take different views as to the beneficial character of a substantially identical type of employment which is prevalent in both the areas. Accordingly, if difficulties and friction are to be avoided it is of the first importance that all authorities should take an early opportunity of discussing with their neighbours questions of common interest. I am glad to say that in many areas there has been a ready response to that suggestion. Conferences have been held—I refer particularly to London and the Home Counties, and to the Lancashire authority of which the hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) is a member.

The second point raised by the right hon. Member for Keighley was the question of the matriculation examination. The present position in London is that a candidate can obtain a Matriculation Certificate by passing in five Matriculation subjects with credit at the General Schools Examination or by passing the General Schools Examination and the Higher School Certificate. The Matriculation and School Examinations Council of the University are at present considering the possibility of discontinuing the award of Matriculation Certificates and making Matriculation simply a qualification for entering on a University course. It is not yet clear how this Matriculation would be obtained—it might be by a special examination or possibly by the General Schools Examination; but, if the proposal were adopted, it would mean that the award of Matriculation Certificates at the General Schools Examination would be discontinued.

A third point was raised by the right hon. Gentleman. He was a little critical of some of the grants and machinery of the National Fitness Council. A criticism was made of the grant of—200,000 for universities. Hon. Members are anxious, and very rightly anxious, that the universities should be democratic in their attitude towards the children of elementary schools, and I think they ought to be equally keen that there should be equality of physical education, because to my mind the equality of physical education is one of the neglected parts of equality in education. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker), who is on the National Fitness Council was, I may say, a very strong supporter of that particular point. The other question that the right hon. Gentleman asked me was with regard to homework. All that I can say there is that the inquiries we have made reveal that the local authorities are taking very seriously the recommendations of the report, especially for children under 12, and there is a strong measure of agreement among the secondary schools.

I come now to the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly. I will certainly look into the question of the College of Physical Training, and if there is any need for further provision, I shall consider it favourably. I am not quite certain what the hon. Member meant in his remarks concerning the National Council of Social Services money. The money does not come from us, although it may come from some other Department. We are not spending money at the expense of the Welsh local authorities. The question of the increased cost of transport is a very difficult one wherever there are large districts and remote schools in country villages. A criticism which ran through the hon. Member's speech suggested that there is something going on at the present time which is preventing the secondary school boy, who has gone through the elementary school, getting to the University. I admit that at the present time the figures show a slight reduction, and in my opening remarks I promised that I would look into the matter in order to see whether there was any explanation. Frankly, I cannot find one at the moment. There is no diminution in the provision as far as we are concerned, nor, as far as I know, in the proivsion by local authorities.

There has been a great deal of talk about secondary schools, senior schools and the rest, and I say frankly that if we could start afresh, things would be very much simpler. I would not have all these different methods of post-primary education if we could start afresh, but

as I emphasised in my opening remarks, we are dealing with a country which is steeped in tradition, particularly in its educational system. Anyone who has looked at the history of the last 150 years must realise that what we are frying to do is to remould that tradition, to introduce new ideas and to bring these schools in step with modern society. Criticism was made, by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) and others, about the small expenditure on nursery schools. There has been criticism that there is a shortage of expenditure on technical schools. What is happening is this. I came to the Board at a time when every aspect of education was being rebuilt. We were trying to do it almost all at once, within a few years. What is happening is that where there is a duty, that is to say, a statutory requirement, with regard to elementary schools and reorganisation, that is taking first place, I admit that.

May I say, finally, with regard to the question of the appointed day, that it would be very foolish of me to stand here and say that every authority is going to be wholly ready at the appointed day. It is not. I am dealing with the situation as I find it, but I say categorically that the Board of Education takes precisely the same view as the executive committee of the Association of Education Committees. The appointed day is on the Statute Book, and the Board has no intention of introducing legislation to vary it. I cannot say more than that. It is very encouraging to note that there is such a large measure of agreement in the Committee on the subject of education. It seems to be growing more and more. I believe there is an old tradition in the Committee that hon. Members opposite should now go into the Division Lobby to vote against the Estimates, but I know that in their hearts they are absolutely with us in pushing forward with the improvement of the whole educational system.

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £32,502,230, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 118; Noes, 196.

Division No. 240.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Anderson, F (Whitehaven) Barr, J.
Adams, D. (Consett) Banfield, J. W. Batey, J.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Barnes, A. J. Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.
Benson, G. Hicks, E. G. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Broad, F. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ridley, G.
Bromfield, W. Jagger, J. Riley, B.
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ritson, J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (S. Ayrshire) Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Cape, T. John, W. Seely, Sir H. M.
Charleton, H. C. Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M.
Cooks, F. S. Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Silkin, L.
Cove, W. G. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Simpson, F. B.
Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Dagger, G. Kelly, W. T. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Dalton, H. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Kirby, B. V. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Sorensen, R. W.
Dobbie, W. Lathan, G. Stephen, C.
Ede, J. C. Lawson, J. J. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.) Leach, W. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Leslie, J. R. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Logan, D. G. Thurtle, E.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. McEntee, V. La T. Tinker, J. J.
Gallacher, W. McGhee, H. G. Tomlinson, G.
Gardner, B. W. MacLaren, A. Viant, S. P.
Graham, D. M. (Hamilton) Maclean, N. Walkden, A. G.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Mander, G. le M. Walker, J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Maxton, J. Watkins, F. C.
Grenfell, D. R. Messer, F. Watson, W. McL.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Montague, F. Welsh, J. C.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S) White, H. Graham
Groves, T. E. Muff, G. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.) Nathan, Colonel H. L. Wilkinson, Ellen
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Naylor, T. E. Williams, D. (Swansea, E.)
Hardie, Agnes Oliver, G. H. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Harris, Sir P. A. Parker, J. Wilson, C. H. (Attereliffe)
Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Pearson, A. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Hayday, A. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Poole, C. C.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Price, M. P. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Mr. Mathers and Mr Adamson.
Albery, Sir Irving Doland, G. F. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)
Apsley, Lord Dorman-Smith, Major Sir R. H. Jones, L. (Swansea W.)
Aske, Sir R. W. Dower, Major A. V. G. Keeling, E. H.
Astor, Major Hon. J. J. (Dover) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Dugdale, Captain T. L. Lamb, Sir J. Q.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Duggan, H. J. Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)
Atholl, Duchess of Duncan, J. A. L. Leech, Sir J. W.
Baillie, Sir A. W. M. Dunglass, Lord Lees-Jones, J.
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Eastwood, J. F. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Liddall, W. S.
Beit, Sir A. L. Elliston, Capt. G. S. Lindsay, K. M.
Bernays, R. H. Emmott, C. E. G. C. Lipson, D. L.
Birchall, Sir J. D. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Little, Sir E. Graham-
Blair, Sir R. Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.
Boulton, W. W. Findlay, Sir E. Loftus, P. C.
Brass, Sir W. Fleming, E. L. Lyons, A. M.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Fremantle, Sir F. E. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Furness, S. N. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.
Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.) Fyfe, D. P. M. M'Connell, Sir J.
Bull, B. B. Gluckstein, L. H. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Butcher, H. W. Gower, Sir R. V. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Butler, R. A. Grant-Ferris, R. McKie, J. H.
Cary, R. A. Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham) Gridley, Sir A. B. Markham, S. F.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n) Grimston, R. V. Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Channon, H. Gritten, W. G. Howard Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.
Christie, J. A. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)
Clarke Frank (Dartford) Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Moreing, A. C.
Colman, N. C. D. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Morgan, R. H.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk N.) Hepworth, J. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)
Cranborne, Viscount Herbert, Major J. A, (Monmouth) Munro, P.
Crooke, Sir J. S. Herbert, Capt. Sir S. (Abbey) Nall, Sir J.
Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C. Hopkinson, A. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Crossley, A. C. Hewitt. Dr. A. B. O'Connor, Sir Terence J.
Cruddas, Col. B. Hudson, Capt, A. U. M. (Hack., N.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Culverwell, C. T. Hunloke, H. P. Palmer, G. E. H.
Davidson, Viscountess Hunter, T. Patrick, C. M.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Hutchinson, G. C. Petherick, M.
Denville, Alfred James, Wing-Commander A. W. H. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Dodd, J. S. Jarvis, Sir J. J. Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Proctor, Major H. A. Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Ralkes, H. V. A. M. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Rayner, Major R. H. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich) Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Reed, A. C. (Exeter) Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen) Warrender, Sir V.
Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Waterhouse, Captain C.
Reid, Sir D. D. (Down) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor) Watt, Major G. S. Harvie
Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Romer, J. R. Spears, Brigadier-General E. L. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Spens, W. P. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool) Stourton, Major Hon. J. J. Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Ropner, Colonel L. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (N'thw'h) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Rowlands, G. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Tasker, Sir R. I. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne) Wragg, H.
Russell, Sir Alexander Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.) Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Thomas, J. P. L. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Salmon, Sir I. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Samuel, M. R. A. Touche, G. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sanderson, Sir F. B. Tree, A. R. L. F. Captain Hope and Lieut.-Colonel
Sandys, E. D. Turton, R. H. Kerr.
Selley, H. R. Wakefield, W. W.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Original Question again proposed.

Mr. Leslie


It being after Eleven of the Clock and objection being taken to further Proceeding. The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.