§ (3) "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £86,000, 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, 1941, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Health including grants a grant in aid and other expenses in connection with housing, certain grants to local authorities, etc., a grant in aid to the National Radium Trust, grants in aid in respect of national health insurance benefits, etc., certain expenses in connection with 1627 widows', orphans' and old age contributory pensions; a grant in aid of the Civil Service Sports Council; a grant in aid of camps; and other services."
§ First Resolution read a Second time.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Butler)
I beg to move, "That the Resolution be postponed."
I gave an undertaking in Committee that the whole matter should be reconsidered. I have had a preliminary investigation of the question with the Department concerned and with as many Members as I have been able to meet over the week-end. Unfortunately there has been no meeting of the House since and, accordingly, the opportunity for proper consultation has been limited, and the contacts that I have made have not been sufficient to assist the Government in making up their minds on the matter. I therefore propose that we should not proceed further and that it should be postponed till consideration can properly be given to it before the end of the financial year. It will not be by any means easy to produce a solution of the problem which will meet the several criticisms that were made in Committee. That is an additional reason for delaying consideration of the matter. We shall have to investigate the estimable work of this Association and see how it can best be supported. I will meanwhile carefully examine the various suggestions for financing it, which hon. Members have made or for ensuring that there is some method of supervision of the activities of the Association. I will not go into these possibilities at present, but I should like to make it crystal clear that the Government attach the greatest importance to the educational work achieved by the British Survey. I did not on the previous occasion quote these words which the Prime Minister wrote to the Association on 9th July:I am very glad to learn that the British Association for International Understanding has decided to continue its activities, including the publication of British Surveys. I consider that the task on which it is engaged, namely, of disseminating exact and unbiased information to foreign countries, our Colonies and the Commonwealth of India, deserves the widest possible support.I should not like public opinion to think that hon. Members and the Committee on the last occasion, by criticism which in 1628 the circumstances may not have been in every case completely informed, have done any harm to the work of this body. In particular, I want to mention the work of education for the troops during the winter. This is a matter in which hon. Members have shown considerable interest, and it would be a thousand pities if this work, encouraged originally by the War Office and under their supervision, which has been so successful with the troops, should not be carried on and should be slighted or postponed in any way. I think, if that were so, it might possibly be against the wish of the very Members who have criticised the association. The position now is that the Government will report to the Committee in the New Year the result of our investigations into the present and future work of the association.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker (Derby)
I think the course suggested by the Under-Secretary is the wisest for the House to follow. We should all very much regret to see anything which would damage the work of the British Association during the coming winter, and I hope this will in no way damage this work. I should myself be very happy to see public money used for this association, and I hope it will be in time to come, and I hope that the general purpose which the association has in view, education in international affairs, will be successfully carried out.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
As a critic in the original Debate, may I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his wise decision? I hope he will look at the relation of this particular work to a great many other kindred types of work which are going on in the country for a clearer exposition of objective policy on international affairs and for the enlightenment of public opinion through other educational machinery.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has taken the wisest course in postponing the matter, and, no doubt, in the meantime he will get into touch with Members in different parts of the House who have taken an interest and expressed views on the question. He mentioned various possible ways of financing the Association. No doubt he will also be consider- 1629 ing the views of those who thought it undesirable that any public subsidy should be given to this Association in view of the work being done by private agencies. Without expressing any final view, and wishing every encouragement to the work of the Association, I should be glad if he would make it clear that he will also consider that point.
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)
I very much regret that it should be necessary to postpone this Vote, although I quite recognise that, in view of what has happened, the Under-Secretary is taking the right course in making the suggestion. I believe that many Members will agree with me that although there are difficulties about the form in which this Vote is presented, we have the highest opinion of the work of this association and of its importance. We earnestly hope that means will be found to allow it to continue. There is no other association which is doing this work or is capable of doing it, and, as the Under-Secretary has said, it is of unique value as an educational service, especially for the troops. I believe that more than half the subscribers to its bulletin are members of the Forces and the largest unit among these are members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. It is of great importance and value to many serving soldiers in isolated positions to be able to get regularly this valuable British Survey dealing with a series of public issues affecting foreign affairs, foreign countries and the British Empire in an impartial and objective way. Those who have read these surveys will feel what a great debt of gratitude we owe to those who are working in the Association to bring them out.
It has been suggested that the work might be done by Chatham House. That Institution however, has a limited membership with a subscription of £2 2S., which would rule out the mass of those who get the benefit of the British Surveys. It is far better that funds should come, at a moment of crisis to a body which has not the money for this necessary work, openly from a Government Department, so that its work can be open to the criticism of Parliament and subject to its review, rather than that it should be supplied, as it would be in many other countries, by some secret fund, or, as has been suggested, supplied by private sources. 1630 That would mean dependence upon a few wealthy people who might consider that they had the right of controlling in some way the publications of the Association. It is far better that such control should come from the Government and be supervised ultimately by Parliament than that the organisation should depend upon the benevolence of some well-meaning millionaire who might have his own special views which he would like the Association to spread in a way that would not be in the public interest. I am glad the Under-Secretary has made it clear that he so greatly values the work of the Association and that the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker), speaking for his friends, has made clear also that he values that work and desires it to continue. I believe the whole House wants the work to go on, and I hope that the step which the right hon. Gentleman has taken will make it possible for a decision to be reached which will meet the concurrence of all sides.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
Although I listened to the Debate last week, I did not take part in it because I had never seen or read a copy of the British Survey. Since hearing the criticisms that were levelled at this publication I have taken the opportunity of getting some back numbers. As a result, I feel that there were some Members who took part in the Debate who had not read this journal and were not in a position to form a fair and unbiased opinion about it. I have been tremendously impressed with the value of this journal, particularly to those soldier citizens of the Empire who are now located in this country. It is just the type of publication required for those educated and thoughtful young men who are congregated in large camps in the country and who are increasingly anxious to be made aware of the reasons we are fighting and to have a knowledge about those we are fighting against. In one number of this publication there was information which explained the radiant delight of one Nazi airman who broadcast the other day in submerging the bodies of children beneath their house; it explained that outlook and the outlook of those young men who are brought up and trained in the ruthless efficiency of force. I would like the Foreign Office to carry out its original intention of supporting this Association because it would not be wise that rich 1631 men and millionaires should out of their generosity be able to influence such a propagandist machine. I hope that when the Under-Secretary brings the matter before the House again he will not have departed from the principle which he set out last week. I hope that the Government will maintain their contribution towards this journal so that Parliament, through this contribution, will be able to keep some sort of supervision over it in order that it will never become a machine of propaganda, but will remain, as it is now, a useful contribution to the general education of our soldier citizens.
§ Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
As one who opposed this Vote when it was before the Committee I should like to say that I have no intention of depreciating the work of this Association. I am prepared to admit, although I have not studied its literature, that it is doing excellent work. I am prepared to take the recommendation of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) in that respect. I opposed the Vote on a matter of principle. We are the protectors of the taxpayers, and we should not let such a matter go through in an odd moment without some criticism. I am glad that, as a result of such criticism, the Under-Secretary has had the wisdom to withdraw the Vote for the time being. Reference was made by the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members to the lectures given to the troops by this Association. All sorts of people give lectures to the troops and I should have thought that, if it had been primarily a matter of welfare, it would have been more appropriate to have this vote under the War Office. Do not let us be led away with all these appeals about granting public money to a body like this merely in order to give lectures to the troops.
Reference has been made to the uninformed opinion of Members who took part in the last Debate. We cannot be fully informed on every subject that comes before the House, especially a subject which was sprung upon the Committee as this was last week. There is a moral attached to that, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will do something to remedy the situation in that respect. In the interim period of gestation before we get the Vote in its final form, may I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman 1632 should do something to put hon. Members in touch with the work of this Association so that they can be better informed? I am still of the opinion that we ought not to spend public money, even on such an excellent object as this, but I am prepared to consider the work of this Association to see whether there are other ways which have not been suggested whereby it can get this small amount. To the hon. Member who spoke about the value of this body in putting the points of view of Nazi airmen, I would say that that is the function of the public Press, which is bound to have a much wider distribution, even among our gallant troops from the Dominions, than any publications of this Association. They appeal in the main to what I may call the intellectual part of the troops. That is not confined to the commissioned ranks, and there is little opportunity for the ordinary rank and file to take advantage of these publications, with or without public money.
§ Mr. Butler
In response to the appeal of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), I will lay copies of the work produced by the Association in the Library so that hon. Members may have an opportunity of studying them. If they wish me to assist them to become better acquainted with the work of the Association, they have only to appeal to me and I will assist them. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) suggested that every possible method of getting money for this Association should be investigated. I undertake that we shall investigate every possibility of helping it. It is satisfactory to know that Parliament is exercising its undoubted right to criticise Supplementary Estimates and that the Government, I hope with wisdom, are paying attention to the wishes of Parliament. With reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw, this matter might have some appearance of being rushed. In fact, however, due notice was given and the matter was put down as first Order. We devoted a considerable time to it considering the small nature of the sum, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press that point because there was every intention of a complete and open discussion taking place. The discussion was open, and the criticism frank, and it has been accepted in the spirit in which it was put forward.
§ Question, "That the First Resolution be postponed," put, and agreed to.
§ Postponed Resolution to be further considered upon the next Sitting Day.
§ Second Resolution agreed to.
§ Third Resolution read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Malcolm Macdonald)
The understanding was, seeing that it was impossible to have a discussion on this Vote on the Committee stage, that the matter might be raised on this stage. In spite of the fact that, as Minister of Health, I am at the moment a slight danger to public health owing to the climate, I will try to help the House by making a brief statement on the situation. I ask the House to give us this Supplementary Estimate towards one of the best pieces of constructive work which has been done in recent years. I can explain briefly the financial position under the Camps Act, 1939. The maximum expenditure authorised by the Act was £1,200,000. Of that there was allocated to England and Wales £1,032,000. We put into the Estimates for the first year, 1939–40, a sum of £946,000. Towards the end of 1939 there was a conspiracy of war and winter to delay the work somewhat. War broke out and there was a very severe winter. They both had their partial influence on the pace at which the erection of the camps went on, and at the end of the financial year we had spent only £800,000, leaving an unexpended balance of £146,000. When making up the Estimates for the next year the authorities of the day thought that all that would be required was that unexpended balance. That figure was put into the original Estimate. As a result of further experience we know that we require more than that, that we require, in fact, the whole of the rest of the balance which we can spend under the Camps Act amounting to £86,000. It is that additional amount which appears in the Supplementary Estimate.
This money is required to meet the capital cost of the camps, which have been started and to all intents and purposes completed. It is entirely accounted for by the capital costs. Those are greater than had been originally antici- 1634 pated, for a number of reasons. When we first drew up the estimates 18 months or so ago, we had not much experience in this country of building this kind of camp, and the estimates were admittedly guesswork and turned out to be under estimates. Secondly, with the arrival of war certain of the expenses increased. The cost of materials and of labour has been much heavier for the later camps than for the camps which were started before the war. Again, with the arrival of war we had to reconsider the use to which these camps would be put. When the decision was taken that they should become residential schools, and be occupied by school children throughout the year, we had to add extra class rooms, a sick bay, and make other provisions for caring for the children during the winter months. For these reasons the capital cost has increased, and this Supplementary Estimate is required.
Let me give a sketch of the position regarding the camps at the present time. There are 31 camps, and all have been practically completed.
§ Mr. MacDonald
In England and Wales. All of them have been occupied since the middle of the summer and some were occupied earlier. Of the 31, one has been let to the War Office, because it is in a situation which in present circumstances is unsuitable for school children. Another is occupied by an orphanage for girls and boys. A third is occupied by a school for crippled children, which at first had been evacuated to the coast but has since been taken away from the coast. All the other 28 camps have been let to local education authorities, and are occupied either by individual schools or by composite schools which have been created for the purpose, made up of children who have been taken from cities and towns in the evacuation areas and accommodated in the reception countryside. Those schools are not confined to London. Many of the children come from London schools, but there are also children from Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Coventry, Bradford, Leeds, Newcastle, Hull, Portsmouth, Southampton and a few other places. In these 31 camps there are at present some 6,000 boys and girls. Twenty-one of them are secondary or 1635 senior schools, six of them are central selective schools, and one is a mixed junior school. The 6,000 children do not represent the aggregate capacity of the camps, because they are not completely filled, and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education is now in touch with the local authorities to see what steps can be taken to fill the camps completely.
In brief, I would say that the general results of this camps enterprise have been wholly good. This is one of the most significant pieces of work to which Parliament has lent its hand in recent times, and we should offer our warm congratulations to the Members of the National Camps Corporation for their achievement and their success. Not only are the children in these camps more secure against the evil acts of the Nazi airmen and safer from their bombs, but they have gained other permanent benefits. The fresh natural air of the countryside has made them more healthy; contact with Nature has broadened the minds and refreshed the spirits of town children. They are healthier and better educated than they were before. One of the lessons which has been rubbed into us by our experience not only with the children in the camps but with the hundreds of thousands of other children who have gone into billets in the country is that contact with the countryside, with Nature, should be regarded as an essential part of the upbringing of the younger generation. When the war is over we ought to make adequate provision for sending town children regularly to spend a reasonable period of each year in the country. In achieving that aim these camps, and others which I hope we may be able to add to them, will play an important part. They are places where successive generations of school children can get an enrichment of their bodies, minds and spirits which will enable them, in their day, to maintain the highest traditions of a race which has always drawn much of its strength from the lovely countryside of the land of its birth.
§ Sir Robert Tasker (Holborn)
As I understand that the designing and arranging of these camps has been a labour of love by professional men and by men like my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks), is not this an opportune moment to express the grati- 1636 tude of this House to those who have done good service on behalf of this project?
§ Mr. MacDonald
I said a word congratulating the members of the National Camps Corporation. Perhaps I should have extended it to cover everyone who has been engaged in this enterprise; but those to whom my hon. Friend refers are so much in the debt of the nation, not only for this but for all sorts of other activities, that I thought it was almost unnecessary to make a special mention of them, but I gladly do so.
§ Mr. Hicks (Woolwich, East)
I am sorry that I was not present when the Minister was making his statement about the camps, but I had been called out and was unable to hear all that he had to say. I was particularly pleased with the latter part of his speech, when he said that he was satisfied that the camps had been a success and hoped later to be able to extend them and to give greater facilities for camp life. I think it only fair to hon. Members who are not too familiar with the setting up of these camps to give a brief history of their start and of some of the difficulties which the National Camps Corporation had to encounter. When the Corporation was set up I was invited by the Minister of Health to sit on the Board. The real purpose of the camps was that in peace time they should be school camps for children during the major part of the year and used for adults in the winter months, and, in time of war, for refugees.
The camps were initiated by the then President of the Board of Education, Lord De La Warr. He called together a small committee representative of various Departments to examine and report upon a proposal to set up these camps. That was in January, 1939. In February, 1939, the then Home Secretary announced that the Government had decided to proceed with the erection of a number of camps and would entrust the work to two non-profit earning companies, one for England and Wales and the other for Scotland, and that the companies would be set up and financed by the Government. In March, 1939, Lord Portal was announced as the chairman of the company for England and Wales. The composition of the National Camps Corporation was announced on the Second Reading of the Bill in March, 1939. In April, 1637 1939, the Board had its first meeting. We were fortunate in getting upon the Board Mr. Patrick Abercrombie, a very competent gentleman, Dr. Gurney-Dixon, a great educationist with a good deal of medical knowledge, Dame Florence Simpson, who has had a lot of experience of camps, Mr. Percy Thomas, who is an ex-President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks), who was there to give them courage and comfort, I suppose, and Sir Edward Howarth, who was the managing director. He is an excellent managing director, a first-class man giving signal service to the Board.
The Camps Act was passed in May, 1939. It provided a sum of £1,200,000, for the construction, maintenance and management of the camps. The share of England and Wales was £1,032,000. Of that, £860,000 was to be spent upon the construction of the camp, and £172,000 was for working capital. That division was not made statutory, although it was generally understood that that was how the money should be divided. It was estimated by the Government that the capital would be sufficient for 43 camps in England and Wales, but that estimate was largely guess-work, because there was no reliable data, and I think also, that the type of camp which the Department had in mind at the time would not have been suitable as a school camp. They had in their minds something rather on the lines of Army huts-long huts with asbestos roofing; but that would have been wholly unsuitable for camps for children.
The number of camps constructed in England and Wales is 31. The reason why we were not able to get 43 was that closer acquaintance with the matter showed that the Government's estimate of £20,000 per camp was too low. The camps were much more costly than the Camps Corporation originally estimated. In addition, the Ministry of Health were asking for additional facilities to be added to the camps. Moreover, military camps were being built in various places in this country. No doubt hon. Members recall the furore about the speed with which they were created and many questions were asked in this House with regard to cost and other aspects of that matter. An investigation was made subsequently into a number of cases, and even to- 1638 day the criticisms have not died down. The fact that those military camps were being constructed at the same time attracted material and labour from the camps with which I am dealing, and did not conduce to the normal course of procedure which would have been pursued by the Camps Corporation.
Owing to the advances which took place in the prices of materials and labour after the outbreak of war, the estimate of the Camps Corporation of what was originally a fair cost of construction rose to more than £20,000. It became clear that, owing to the war, the camps were likely to be of a permanent nature, and it was then decided by the Ministry of Health that additional classrooms and other improvements should be made to all camps. There is quite a need for additional accommodation in the camps. The Minister of Health is not unfamiliar with those needs and I hope that we shall be able to get sympathetic consideration with regard to giving us additional money to enable us to carry them out. In order that sites might be found as quickly as possible, the Government arranged for their chief valuer and staff district valuers to render us all possible help. That was of great assistance to the Camps Corporation because the Government valuer was able to go round and look at land, select a site, value it and give us the estimated cost of purchase.
We all regarded it as essential that sites should have a piped water supply whenever possible. We did not want to have to start sinking our own wells. We also hoped that electric light and power would be reasonably near. Most of the sites had sufficient fall in themselves to permit of the installation of an individual sewage system. The camps that we have had to purchase have been well away from the towns and the main sewage systems. We have, of course, had to go out into the country to select sites, and we have been able to establish our own individual sewage system where it was not possible to connect up with the main drainage. Particulars of the sites selected by the district valuers were sent to the Camps Corporation. Each site was then visited by the chairman or managing director. When a site had been approved by the Corporation the Ministry of Health were informed, and one of its inspectors viewed it and reported to the Ministry. The Ministry has 1639 the duty of approving the site and no site could be approved without its sanction. Before giving its final approval, the Ministry of Health had to consult the Board of Education, the Ministry of Transport, the Home Office, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of Works and local town planning authorities. All those Government offices and authorities were able to forward objections to any site. We lost more than one site because of the objections that were put forward, many of them frivolous. Delay occurred between the time when the objections were raised and when we were able to approve a site, but this is our democratic system of going round and giving everybody a chance of sticking his nose in.
The choice of sites was far from easy. We were instructed to place our camps not more than 35 miles from London or from the centre of a town. We found that various Service Departments were purchasing sites for the purpose of constructing camps and of carrying out military works of a very important nature. No one wanted to enter into competition with them. We were able to persuade the authorities to let us have a larger radius, which was eventually settled as from 40 to 45 miles from evacuable towns, Before the 32 sites were approved by the Corporation, 183 were visited by the managing director. Each site was carefully examined before it was decided to purchase. Twenty of our camps were purchased on the recommendation of the valuers' department and 12 were secured by contract by the Corporation. One site has not been built upon, but we shall be happy to do so when we have the money and the materials.
As we get older we get mellower, I suppose, and institutions that used at one time to have the effect usually referred to as waving a red rag to a bull and used to excite all sorts of objections, affect us somewhat differently. I would like to pay tribute to two Members of the House of Lords. We did not know they were so useful. They gave us two sites. One of these generous donors was Lord Portal, who gave us a very beautiful site on which to construct a camp about 20 acres in size, at Lords-field, near Overton, in Hampshire. We were given a site in Ashdown Forest by Lord De La Warr. The cost of 1640 the sites averaged about £1,725 and the area averaged from 18 acres to 54 acres. We were aiming to get no sites smaller than 20 acres, in order to construct a camp and give amenities for recreation. The average cost of the land was about £60 per acre. We were particularly careful to avoid choosing any arable or grassland and so to injure agriculture. Of necessity the Board had not to enter into competition with the Ministry of Agriculture by purchasing land that might be better employed in providing food for the nation.
On the building side of the matter we were able to have the assistance of Sir John Burnet, of Messrs. Tate and Lorne, as our consulting officer. Eventually we got Mr. Tate of that firm. I think he was the architect of the Glasgow Exhibition and he designed our camps in the first instance. We decided to have them so designed that they could be taken from the site and re-erected. In the design of the camps he rendered us very signal service. The whole of the work has been done by competitive tender, both before and after the outbreak of war. I do not understand the experience of those who say they were unable to get tenders for the construction of camps because we could easily do so. After the outbreak of war we were able to get as many as 20 tenders from capable and responsible firms, many of whom I know myself and who were able to construct camps for us.
Each camp has been designed to accommodate about 350 children and 13 teachers in peace-time, but the camps are so laid out that they can be doubled if necessary in an emergency. The first camp was completed early in October, 1939, and nine were completed by the end of June this year. All the 31 were arranged to be constructed by the end of March of this year. We had unexpected delays in securing the release of materials, owing to the various war controls. We were not entering into much competition with other Departments, especially where timber was concerned, because the camps were constructed of red cedar, also for the shingles, instead of the ordinary asbestos. The architect whom we consulted and who was responsible for laying out the sites in various parts of the country testified to the beauty of the camps. We have been employing a 1641 series of architects, many of them local, and we have had very much in mind the necessity of harmonising the camps with their surroundings. We have been able to get a good and cheap job which fitted in with the environment and was not in the least ugly. That is one of the benefits of having more competent men on the board. Building operations generally were slowed down by the exceptionally heavy winter that we had last year. For several months it was almost impossible to do work on the outside.
Our agreement provides that, in time of war, the camps shall be placed at the disposal of the Government. Accordingly, in September of this year, the Ministry of Health were asked to determine for what type of person it was desired that the camps should be used, whether adults or children. A good deal of time was occupied in making that decision. Further time was occupied in deciding the proper age limits of these people. No doubt that was all very necessary, but it seemed to us that a lot of time was taken up that might have been short-circuited. Then there had to be a circular to education authorities. A description of the camps was given, and the authorities were asked for their observations. Hon. Members know how education authorities react; you do not get your reply immediately. In fact, the response was very slow indeed. I do not know whether the Minister of Health recalls the general layout of these camps, but hon. Members will he interested to know that there are dining hall, kitchen block, assembly hall, class block and hospital with seven beds, dispensary, and other necessary amenities. There is domestic staff accommodation, and quarters for transport. There is a bungalow and a boiler house. The needs of everybody have been very well catered for. If any hon. Member has not seen one of these camps we should be very happy if he would go and look at them.
In addition to the camps manager and staff, there are those who attended to all details of meals, which was important, so far as the children were concerned. I should like to pay my tribute to Miss Langley of the Board of Education for her very valuable help as meals inspector and her assistance in arranging the dietary and meals for the children. The educational side necessarily rests with the 1642 headmasters and headmistresses and does not come under the Camps Corporation. A good deal of the equipment and other such matters had to be directly under the headmasters and headmistresses. On the medical side, arrangements were made by the Ministry of Health with the British Medical Association, and suitable arrangements have been entered into which meet the requirements of the Ministry of Health and of the British Medical Association.
I would like to say this in order to show that the headquarters are not squandering the money which Parliament has granted, but that they are trying to utilise it to the best possible end. Salaries, rent, rates, stationery, etc., and travelling for eight persons amounted to just over £6,000. The total sum dealt with during the year was £8,900, and therefore the administrative expenses were just under 2d. in the £ so far as the camps were concerned. I must apologise to the House for going so much into detail with regard to this matter, but it has been very interesting work, and I was very honoured to serve upon the board. We have been doing the best we could to facilitate the construction of the camps. We believed that good national work had to be done, and we believe that it is an example which the country would like carried on further. We would like Parliament and the country to be as sympathetic as they can in regard to granting money, not only that full equipment may be given to the camps but that other camps may be built.
§ Mr. Mander (Wolverhampton, East)
I am sure the House has been very interested in the first-hand details which my hon. Friend has just given about these camps. As he truly says, a great national work of permanent value to the children has been done, and it will find a permanent place in the life of the nation. I have had an opportunity of visiting some of these camps in Staffordshire, and I was very favourably impressed with the spirit, the siting and the attractive appearance of the camps themselves. The cedar tiles to which my hon. Friend has referred are a very attractive feature of the camps. It has been a great opportunity for the children and others who have gone to these pleasant country scenes, far away from the troubles of the war in most cases.
The action of the Government a year or so ago in taking the initiative and 1643 instituting the camps has, I am sure, been fully justified. The problem is quite different, though, from what was originally intended. These are not holiday camps for a fortnight. They are not camps for whole families. They are camps for schools without holidays, because I imagine the children stay there all the time, and it would not be thought desirable to encourage them to go back home to certain areas during the holiday periods. They are public schools without holidays. I think it took the Government Departments concerned—the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education—a long time to get together and make up their minds exactly what they were going to do with these camps. However, they have now got over that. We have had an interesting account from my right hon. Friend who said that 31 camps have been occupied to a considerable extent and that steps have been taken to see whether they cannot be more fully occupied. I am sorry that the War Office had to take over one. I do not know whether that could have been avoided by more forethought at the time when the planning was being done. I am glad, at any rate, that the Bank of England have evacuated one of the camps. They ought never to have been allowed to go there at all; it is certainly no place for them.
There is one point that I would like to make about the organisation of the camps, and that is with regard to the administration. It seems to me that a considerable, and perhaps unnecessary, expense has been involved in having a teacher with all the head teacher's qualifications and responsibility, and also a catering manager who is also a highly responsible and well-paid person. It seems to me that a good deal depends upon the personality of these individuals as to which one at any particular camp is really the dominating personality and takes control of affairs, in particular, after school hours. I should have thought that you could do one of two things. You might have a welfare officer in charge of the whole camp, with a proper matron, possibly his wife, who would be responsible for the catering and looking after the administration of the nursing. That welfare officer would also be responsible for all the activities of the children after school hours. In that case the role of the teacher would be purely during school hours, as is the case 1644 at school at the present time in a town. That is one way of doing it, and I fancy that it works out in that way under certain conditions at the moment. The alternative is to have a teacher in full charge, with a matron who again would be responsible for the catering and looking after the nursing side. I cannot see the necessity for having two rather important personalities on the staff. The authorities should make up their minds as to which of the two they will delegate the responsibility, and having done that let him have full charge, and underneath him and responsible to him there should be people who are able to do work of the kind which I have indicated. I feel that there is a certain unnecessary conflict and possibly waste of money at the moment in the way some of these camps are being run. It may have been altered by now, but that is the impression which I got.
I also feel that in cases where the teacher takes full charge and looks after the children after school hours—they are there together, all the time, day and night—he ought to receive some extra remuneration other than what is paid to a teacher in a town who merely has to look after the children during school hours. I do not know whether anything of the kind is contemplated, but it is quite a different problem from the usual class of a teacher. It may be said that there are countervailing advantages, that he is away in the country, that he is not subject to bombing and that kind of thing, but perhaps my hon. Friend in replying will be able to deal with that point and the others which I have raised. I would only say in conclusion that I am very glad that the Minister gave some indication in his speech that the Government, profiting by the successful result of the camps that have already been built, are thinking of building more, and I hope it will not be very long before they come to this House with a further estimate for a substantial sum to enable them to build similar camps in other parts of the country.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I should like to say a few words, particularly because of the speech from my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks). He told us a great deal about the bricks and mortar—although there is not much in the way of bricks and mortar in the case of a camp. He told us about the construction and lay- 1645 out. It was interesting to hear of the valuable work which the Camps Corporation have done, and I think that the composition of that Corporation is eminently suited for construction work. I well remember a Debate in this House—the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) and other hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health and the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Noel-Baker) took part—which was a conspiracy to get a member of the town planning profession on this board, and they got him on. Anyone who has seen the excellent choice of sites which has been made by the Camps Corporation must feel that the inclusion of that gentleman on the board was fully justified.
In the history which the hon. Member for East Woolwich gave he did not tell the whole story. The origin of these camps, like everything else in an adventure, was rather due to one or two people with strong ideas, and in this case there were those who saw in the prospect of camp schools a possible advance in educational experiment in this country. I myself never thought that they had very much use for evacuation, because we had to build for six years in order to make any impression on the evacuation problem. Even then I am not quite sure it is such a good thing for a reception area to have an open camp. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, this is an educational experiment, and I resent, not on any petty grounds of machinery of Government belonging to one departmentalist, but because the very nature of this work is educational, that it should be under the Ministry of Health. I do not think that there would be any great quarrel with changing over Departments; I do not think there is very much in it. It was part of the general evacuation policy, and quite naturally fell under the Ministry of Health, and the Board of Education had its place in the scheme. Indeed, the manager of the Corporation is the late Deputy Secretary of the Board of Education.
But there is more to it than that. These are not the first camp schools in this country. There is a very considerable experience in local education authorities in the direction of camp schools. They have been built for many years, and I suppose there were many thousands of children who used to go to these camps long before the Camps Corporation was invented. They are part of a definite 1646 machinery in each local authority. They are partly for children who are sickly or weak, but also partly for perfectly normal children who are taken into the country for a period of two weeks, four weeks or a summer term. These camps have relation to the local authority, the borough, the over-urbanised areas; they are part of the local education policy of a borough. I am not sure that it would not be a good idea to regionalise them, because joint authorities could easily provide a camp and possibly share in it.
That is the history of what happened in the case of these camps; it is no secret to say that it was very largely "First come, first served." I know of authorities which did not hear about the camp until later; perhaps in some cases they were a little slack, so that those who were enterprising got in first. The result has been, as I think my right hon. Friend will be aware, that it is the enterprising schools which are using the camps. The difficulties and delays which hon. Members have referred to in regard to the submission of proposals to the local education authorities by the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education were partly due to the fact that there were two departments of State responsible. If the Camps Corporation had been able to report directly to the Board of Education, the whole machinery for dealing with other camps would have been made available, the necessary knowledge would have been at hand, and the local authorities could have been consulted through the regular channels.
This is a revolution in British education, or at least opens up revolutionary prospects. Think what we are doing; we are giving poor children the chance of a boarding school education. Every problem associated with the question is an educational problem. Why should my right hon. Friend, in addition to the score of other problems with which he is faced today and many of which are crying for his attention, now have to give time for this particular question? It may be said that the question of whom the Camps Corporation report to is a small point. I think it is a big point. I know personally the interest which has been taken in this question by my hon. Friend who is going to reply, and I think it would be more in keeping with his wish if he were to be in charge. Week by week he could follow the weights and measures 1647 of the children. I hope the records are being very carefully kept; it was difficult at first because previous records were not available from some of the schools and because composite classes, composed of children from different schools, were made up in the camps. Now, however, I hope that accurate records of height and weight are being kept throughout the camps, along with details of the dietary systems. Such possibilities as that the camps may be partially self-supporting from the school garden should also be borne in mind. These are all first-class educational problems. For instance, how can you keep teachers in these camp schools under present conditions, without giving them greater leisures? After all, the housemaster at a boarding school has certain facilities for his own leisure; he has a house of his own, very often his wife is there to help him, and a long tradition of experience has grown up about it. The camp masters, in the early days, lived day and night with the boys; they never got away from them, and it was only at a later stage that rooms were added, including a common room, where the masters could meet and could at any rate have a little time on their own. Indeed, my right hon. Friend said in his opening remarks that one of the reasons for the increased costs was that the camps had had to be adapted as schools. If that is not an educational problem, I do not know what is. In whatever way we look at it, this is primarily a problem for the Board of Education and the local authorities.
I would like to ask my hon. Friend to deal, in his reply, with one or two straightforward questions. I would like to ask whether, while the "Blitzkrieg" is going on, the children will live there the whole time. That will bring up problems connected with the relief of teachers. I would also like to ask how children are being recruited for the camps as they come of age? Also, why are the camps not full? I should have thought that they would be, but is there a reason why they are not? If they were a little more closely related to the education authorities, perhaps they might be fuller. What the reason is I do not know, but my hon. Friend did say that they were not quite full.
1648 Another question I should like to ask—perhaps it is a little early yet, but I hope my hon. Friend will watch the point—is, How will the camps stand up to the winter? It is all very well in summer; I visited a large number of these camps in spring and summer and saw the children there. I was immensely struck by the possibilities of extending this experiment and I hope that the experience that the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks) had in the early days, of delays caused by having to deal with several Government Departments, will in future be avoided by the transference of responsibility, when the time comes, directly to the Board of Education. I hope my right hon. Friend does not feel that I am over-stressing the point. How can he spare time, from all his multifarious duties, to talk about such an educational experiment, although he may be tremendously interested in it? The Corporation had a constructive job—draining the sites and so on, the ordinary sort of job that any local education authority has to do time after time in building schools. We do not need to make too much of that; it has been well done, and we now have plenty of experience to work on. The important thing about these camp schools now is the use to which they are to be put.
I do not believe that these camps should be used for adults; so long as there are adolescents and children for them, they should come first. Would my hon. Friend say that if, by any chance, the camps are empty, they may be used by the Youth Service Movement about which a circular has been issued by the Board of Education this week? They might well, it seems to me, be used by clubs and other bodies even in war-time. Some of us are trying to inaugurate a movement whereby lads between 14 and 18 go out into the country at week-ends-from Saturday noon until first thing Monday morning—because sleeping in shelters is not a very pleasant life. If these camps could be used, in addition to the schools, by such boys—perhaps as guests—they might camp out, not in winter, but certainly as soon as spring comes. I think one of the essential uses always visualised for these camps was that they could be utilised by adolescents and by clubs of various kinds. I am very glad that my right hon. 1649 Friend hinted that there might be an extension of their use.
§ Mr. David Adams (Consett)
I should like to offer my congratulations to the Minister of Health for the statement he made under, probably, some considerable personal disability. Nevertheless, that statement, by indicating the mind of the Government in this matter, shows that a very considerable advance with regard to the necessity for and the virtue of these camp schools is apparent to the mind of the Government, since those who heard the debates which took place when the idea was first put forward will know the extremely qualified opinion which the predecessor of the present Minister of Health held in regard to the camp school movement. Now, the general expression of opinion from him and from other Members, is that this is an innovation which is certainly going to stay and which is of great national value at the present time. I am disappointed to learn, however, that only some 6,000 children are so far accommodated. We were advised that there would be an average of at least 330 children in each of the camps and that this—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Clifton Brown)
I think I should warn the hon. Member that it seems to me that he is now going into the whole policy. I have allowed the Debate to be very wide, but this is a Vote of £86,000 only, a Supplementary Vote on the administration and not on the policy.
§ Mr. Adams
I only desired to traverse a little of the ground already covered by other speakers. It is important that if additional money is to be granted to this experiment, it should be fully utilised. From my experience of the benefit that children have derived from this country life, one cannot speak too highly of the way in which the movement has affected their health, their general outlook and their standing in the community. The fact that we are converts to this movement indicates a growth of faith in it, and I am not certain that much more can be said unless we stress the value of additional camps.
During the Debates in the House on evacuation, many Ministers have extolled the virtue of life in the country for evacuated children. It was pointed out that the opportunity of country life was now open to very large sections of our 1650 population. This departure means that those who had no possibility of obtaining a public school education, with all its advantages, have now this opportunity for the first time. If the Government are converted to that point of view, we may certainly feel, as has been said by the ex-Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, that this is indeed a revolution. For that reason I am glad to support the adoption of the Estimate, and to support this great movement in education.
§ Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)
I wish to raise one short point, dealing only with administration. The figure upon which we are asked to vote is, in my opinion, far too small in view of the problems which are going to be raised in the future by the evacuation of school children to the country. I already see—and I am sure it is going to develop still further—the growth of overcrowding in the rural schools in areas to which first one district and then another evacuate their children. What we require is something very much bigger than this. When this matter was first discussed it seemed that the policy of dispersal for our urban populations, particularly of the children, would be one of the means by which we should deal with air raids. That has certainly come about. Official and unofficial evacuation is going on, and rural schools are becoming overcrowded everywhere. I want to see school camps dotted about everywhere that evacuation is taking place on a large scale.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
One has to confine oneself to what is in the Supplementary Estimate. One cannot discuss what one would like to sec in it.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Ede)
I am sure my right hon. Friend will be gratified 1651 at the course which the Debate has taken. The House generally, like the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Price), feels that this policy has been so successful, within its limits, that it might be extended. We are very grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Hicks), not only for the account he has given of the work of the Camps Corporation, but for the great amount of interest he has taken in that work, especially on those matters of which he has practical experience. His efforts have been of great value. I spent the hours vouchsafed to me last night in reading the Debates on this subject last year, when I was on the opposite side and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) had to defend the policy of the Government. I was exceedingly anxious to say nothing to-day that was inconsistent with what I then said, and I was pleased to observe the careful way in which I had safeguarded my communications to the rear. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock might have read his speeches again before making a lot of the suggestions he has made to-day. I would like to bring this point clearly before the House. As far as the educational work in the country is concerned, the Board of Education is, and always has been, supreme. From the moment the camps begin to be occupied, they come under the Board of Education; our inspectors visit them and advise on the educational problems that arise, and we carry on just as if they were ordinary schools.
§ Mr. Ede
Yes. I was coming to the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) shortly, but, since he has interrupted, I might say this. One of the great advantages of the present arrangement is that supplies are purchased nationally in bulk. That is an advantageous way of dealing with the very difficult problem of supplies in these areas. I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock—and I emphasised this last year—that here we are really dealing with a great opportunity for an advance in practical educational developments in this country. The work in these camps, I think, has fully justified the opportunities that have been afforded to the teachers. In last week's Educational Supplement to the "Times" there was 1652 a reference to the magnificent work done in the camp at Cranleigh, to which the hon. Member went and told the boys that they would "soon be introduced to all the local birds"—to the great terror of all the local mothers. The first paragraph of the article in the "Times" Educational Supplement will give an idea of what has been done in this camp, and of the possibilities that are open to the others. It says:The first prize in the town and countryside competition organised by the 1940 Council has been awarded to the Elmbridge Camp School at Cranleigh (the Loxford non-selective Central School for Boys, Ilford), which has carried out an elaborate survey of the district and produced a pageant telling the story, in nine scenes, of Cranleigh, from the time of the Romans to the present day.The ninth scene shows the arrival of the boys themselves at the camp; and they regarded that as being not less important than any of the other eight scenes. Among the things that this school has done has been the preparation of a model of the parish of Cranleigh, on a scale of 10 feet to the mile, reproducing, as far as possible, appropriately to scale all the buildings, trees and other landmarks in the neighbourhood. They have conducted a social survey, from which they have reached this not very remarkable conclusion: that the people of Cranleigh desire it to remain a village, but that they desire to have all the amenities of a town, without sacrificing any rural amenities. I would suggest to hon. Members who get a chance of visiting the newspaper room that they should take the opportunity to look at last week's Educational Supplement to the "Times," which gives some idea of what can be done when teachers with imagination take advantage of the opportunities presented to them in these camps.
I do not share the misgivings expressed with regard to local education authorities in this matter. I think that one of their difficulties has been to select the right type of teacher. I know some of the shortcomings of my own profession. We want to send to these camps people who are not too experienced and successful in the old ways of running a school. We should send somebody reasonably young, who is not afraid even of making a mistake, and of then wiping out the mistake and making a fresh start. In this matter, I would suggest, the local education authorities should take particular care in 1653 the selection of the individual teacher. In reply to both the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, I would say that the arrangement at present is that the recompense to the teachers for the extra duties imposed upon them takes the form of making no charge for their board and lodging in the camps. With regard to spare time, that is a matter best left to the staffs of the schools to arrange for themselves. The schools are staffed with quite reasonable generosity, having regard to the ordinary staffing of schools in the country, and it should be possible for them to arrange on-duty and off-duty times in a way which will not inflict undue hardship on any of them. Of course, these schools are being used as part of the evacuation scheme. It is hoped that the children, as the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton said, will stay there as if they were at a public school with no holidays. It would be clearly wrong to bring them back to the suburbs of London at the present time. One must contemplate that this winter the camps will be in continuous occupation.
§ Mr. Ede
I think so. I spent a couple of nights in Liverpool recently, and it was not much different from being in London. I imagine that the arrangement will apply generally. Every effort will be made to persuade parents to leave children in the camps during the whole of the normal Christmas holiday period. There was some return of the children from the camps as winter approached; but the Board and the local education authorities are trying to persuade the parents to send the children back—or, where that is not possible, to recruit fresh children for the camps. At the moment it is perhaps the least gratifying of the things I have to say that the demand for places in the camps has not been so great as to make any selective process necessary. But we would desire to recruit children of over 11. Experience, so far, has shown that the children under 11 are not quite as suitable. The incidence of juvenile illnesses is far heavier among the under-11's than among the over-11's. We do not yet know how the camps will stand up to winter. We have had only a few days of real winter so far. The magnificent October and November that we have had 1654 so far are really only an extension of summer. I hope that next year we shall be able to use the sites of the camps for the youth movement, as was originally contemplated last year, While we shall not have buildings available, we hope that it may be possible to arrange for tents or some other accommodation, so that the youth movements of the towns may use these sites. I hope the hon. Member will feel that the Board of Education really have sufficient control over the educational part of these camps. Once the camps are built they are handed over to the local education authorities, and they come completely under the Board of Education.
I think I have answered the real point put to me by the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. David Adams). These camps were originally designed for schools that would visit them for a fortnight or a month. In those circumstances it would have been possible to accommodate a substantially larger number of children at a time than is the case when we have to regard the camps as places where children will be in permanent residence for 12 months in a year. The average number in a camp is well under 300, and I do not think that a full-time camp for 12 months in a year could accommodate more children. With regard to the plea made by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton, that certain additional amenities should be provided, I am assured that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is fully in accord with that view, and that at the moment it is not so much the shortage of money as the shortage of materials that is a hindrance to our providing some of the additional rooms. If the material becomes available, both the Ministry of Health and the Board of Education are so pleased with the results of the experiment up to date that nothing will be left undone to ensure that those in charge of the camps shall have the fullest opportunity of extending the experiment along all legitimate lines.
§ Mr. Mander
Would my hon. Friend mind dealing with the point that I raised, as to whether there is not some unnecessary duplication in having both a head teacher and a high-grade catering manager as well?
§ Mr. Ede
I apologise for overlooking that point. My own view is that one 1655 has to take into account the personnel that will be required in these camps. The head teachers of elementary schools and even of the ordinary non-residential municipal and county schools have not been trained in catering. Neither has the catering manager been trained in the duties of a head teacher. I do not know which would be more disastrous, to have the head teacher doing the catering or to have the catering manager supervising the duties of the head teacher. The information we have is that in the camps arrangements are being made between the catering managers and the head teachers which will secure the best of food and the best of teaching. I do not think that at the moment we can adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member that there should be a subordination of one of these people to the other. I imagine that where the personality of the head teacher is the stronger he may perhaps exercise a little more influence over the feeding than is desirable, and it may even be that, in certain cases where the catering manager has a strong personality, he would exercise a little more influence over the teaching than is desirable. But I am assured by those in close touch with these camps that no practical difficulty has at the moment arisen, and I should be reluctant myself to give any pledge that the Board of Education would consider altering the present arrangements.
It may, of course, be that, if these camps become greater in number and a more permanent feature of our education system, we might evolve a kind of elementary head teacher who would be capable of supervising the catering department as well. At the moment those who would be prepared to stand up for the teaching profession—and I see Members who, like myself, left the profession no doubt for the profession's good in days gone by—would be the first to say that at the moment it would be imposing upon the teaching profession a burden which it could not be expected to bear if you asked them, in addition to looking after 200 children, to take on the job of catering for them.
§ Mr. McEntee (Walthamstow, West)
I wish to offer some little criticism, which I desire to be helpful. I have had experience of only one of these camps, and I cannot speak at all of the other camps. I agree with all that I have heard in 1656 favour of these camps, and, as an experiment, they are doing exceptionally good work, which, I hope, will continue to improve. I want to offer a few suggestions for that improvement, and I hope that some consideration will be given to them. As I have said, I speak with knowledge of only one camp—the Finnamore Wood Camp. The Education Committee in the town that I represent contemplated in the early days sending the Central School children at Walthamstow, and they sent over the Director and Deputy-Chairman of the committee, but they decided not to take the camp unless certain improvements were made. Other schools went there later, and whether they are satisfied or not, I am not in a position to say.
I think that that school camp is overcrowded. There are too many children there. The beds are too close together in the dormitories, much closer than the Minister of Health would be prepared to allow in other circumstances and in respect of other people. The accommodation, particularly for the girls, is not sufficient in respect of lockers. When building future camps consideration should be given to that point. The lockers should be made larger, and the amount of extra timber required would comparatively be so small that I am sure that the Timber Control would not make any trouble about it. There is only one lavatory attached to each dormitory. That is altogether insufficient and would not be permitted at other places where large numbers of people sleep in dormitories. It might be said that because they are children they do not require the same accommodation as adults, but I have no hesitation in saying that children require not less, but more accommodation at night than adults. It is possible for the children to go to lavatories away from the dormitories, but I do not think that it would be suggested that children should have to get up at night and leave the dormitories, particularly in winter. I suggest that at any rate there should be an increase in the lavatory accommodation in any future camp buildings.
Why on earth were the baths built away from the sleeping accommodation without any covered approach from the dormitories? Why anybody with any knowledge of building or of institutions should do a thing like that passes my compre- 1657 hension. Children have to go outside, some 15 yards away from the building, in order to use the baths. There ought to be a covered way to the baths, or the baths ought to be attached to the building. There is an ample number of baths but they are all, with one exception, shower baths, and I do not think that shower baths are suitable, particularly for girls. I do not object to shower baths, but there ought to be more slipper baths made available for both boys and girls.
Reference has been made to the provision of accommodation for practical work for the boys and girls. There are no science rooms. It would have been better to have arranged four class-rooms, with not more than 200 children, and to have set aside two of the class-rooms for use for other purposes, including the practical work to which the hon. Member referred. There should be accommodation for practical handwork such as is available in the ordinary schools. I know that these camps were originally intended to be used as holiday camps, for which purpose they would have been excellent, but it is q site different when children are there permanently and are supposed to undergo their ordinary school-room curriculum. Therefore, the accommodation ought to be, approximately, equal to that in the towns from which they have come. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would suggest for a moment that the curriculum carried on in the central or senior schools in towns could possibly be carried out in view of the number of children in this camp, and the accommodation provided. I am sure my hon. Friend will be pleased to give some consideration to the profession which he thinks is better off because he has left it. I do not think that it is better off. The profession miss him, and if he were in the profession—though I think he is doing very well where he is—he would really be much better off serving the profession by giving his time to the teaching which he left. The teaching accommodation at the camp is bad. It would not be tolerated for five minutes in a well-organised town. Better provision ought to be made for teachers. I say this in a desire to help and not in order to criticise. Consideration should be given to these points and if improvement cannot be made in existing camps it ought to be made in future camps
§ Mr. Ede
I can only speak again by leave of the House, but I would like to say one or two sentences in reply to my hon. Friend. These are not schools first; they are camps first. All the criticisms that he has made must be viewed in the light of that consideration. We have no desire to give in these schools what he rightly calls the school-room curriculum. The whole burden of my remarks, and the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), was to welcome these opportunities for studying, on quite new lines, a good many educational problems, and so far from regarding many of the things that he mentions as disadvantages, I regard them as great advantages because they compel teachers to pick out first principles.
§ Mr. McEntee
They were built for school camps in which to give the children a fortnight's holiday, but they are being used now during the period of the war, and the Prime Minister himself indicated that we may still be fighting in the war in 1945. In view of that fact, it is absurd to talk of the school camps now as if they were only camps and not schools. They are schools, and may last for years.
§ Mr. Ede
What my hon. Friend has said makes no impression upon me at all. I still believe that these buildings are as good as could have been constructed in the circumstances. I have no doubt that some things can be improved on in future buildings, but I would not like to hold out to him any hope that we propose to erect in these camps the ordinary type of school buildings. I know of one headmaster who turned down a school camp because, he said, he could not be given an art room with a north light. He was being provided with 30 or 40 acres of the finest scenery in England and he had no idea of teaching art other than taking it in a closed room. The whole idea of these camps is to get away from that conception altogether. I know that some people have turned down these camps, but I cannot help thinking that the children on whose behalf they were turned down, have been infinitely the losers.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.