Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £30, be granted to His Majesty, towards defraying the charges for the following Departments connected with Health, Housing and Public Education in Scotland for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1943, namely:
|Class V., Vote 15, Department of Health for Scotland||£10|
|Class X., Vote 17, Department of Health for Scotland (War Services)||£10|
|Class IV., Vote 13, Public Education, Scotland||£10|
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)
If we can emerge from this war with our liberties and our freedoms intact, with our health front unbroken, and with high standards of 785 nutrition and citizenship in our schools—then little else matters. As a nation, if we have health in mind and in body, then this generation and the generation to follow ours have sure foundations upon which to build material comforts and economic prosperity, and to develop the arts and graces of life. We have had three years of war, roughly 1,000 days, and it is my duty to survey the public health in Scotland. One fair measuring rod of the general average state of health is the condition of children at school. If there is definite evidence of improvement in their physical condition, then despite the stresses and the strains of war upon family life, despite interruption with house building, despite the black-out, despite, in some areas at any rate, an intensification of over-crowding, despite an increase in most respiratory diseases and in cerebro-spinal meningitis, and the disturbingly high rate of infantile mortality, we can say with some confidence that our state of public health is, on the whole, not deteriorating.
I should add that in most of those respiratory diseases to which I have alluded the trend so far this year has been towards their steady reduction. And we intend to see that our system of nutritious school dinners, with all its potentialities for a still greater improvement in the children's physique, is efficient and is pushed to the uttermost. Not all education authorities are submitting during the war school health reports. In Scotland only some 10 authorities' reports are so far in for the school year ended July, 1941. But Glasgow and Lanarkshire between them cover roughly one-third of the school population in Scotland, and they have reported no deterioration. On the contrary, the Glasgow Medical Officer of Health, in charge of the education health service, reports that measurements of some 14,000 children taken in certain Glasgow schools in September, 1940, and April, 1941, showed an improvement upon measurements taken in 1939, especially as regards school entrants.
This favourable trend has continued and the Glasgow report for the year ended July, 1941, contains further and indeed striking evidence of consistent improvement in the physical condition of our school children between the ages of five and 13. The 1941 figure shows a net increase over the quinquennial figures for 786 1935–39 of 0.47 inches, and 1.07 lbs. in respect of five-year-old boys, and 0.77 inches and 2.96 lbs.—almost three lbs.—in respect of 13-year-old boys. Figures for girls for the same comparative period show a net increase of 0.38 inches and 0.95 lbs. in the case of five-year-old girls, and 0.52 inches and over 1½ lbs. in respect of 13-year-old girls. The report adds:The net increase of about 1 lb. in weight for the five-year-old boys and girls seems to be unexpectedly high and may suggest an immediate response to the expanded scheme for the supply of milk to children under school age.The latest figures available for Dunbarton County, again a county with a very considerable industrial population, taken on a county average, show a consistent increase in the average heights and weights of all age groups, rising to as high an increase as 9 lbs. in weight for girls aged 16 compared with the five-year average 1930–35. Neither do Edinburgh, Dundee or Aberdeen show any deterioration in the physical condition of the school children. In Ayr County, for example, there is shown a marked reduction in what is described by the County Medical Officer of Health as defective nutrition, and the Medical Officer of Health for Aberdeen reports that the head and class teachers everywhere declare that the school dining schemes have produced in the children "obvious signs of physical improvement."
The Government are now meeting the capital expenditure and running costs to an average extent in regard to these school feeding arrangements of 83 per cent. The bare cost of food may alone be charged to the parents. The allowance of meat to school feeding centres is worth 2d. per child per day, as against 1d. allowed in the catering establishments for the general community—adults and juveniles alike. In Scotland we now supply 80,000 school children with a substantial meal per day, and that figure is steadily increasing. In addition 20,000 school children get soups during the winter months. Progress in school feeding, however, is not uniform. In the little County of Clackmannan they have the blue riband for an effort with over 40 per cent. of the school children being given a hot meal in the middle of the day. Dunbarton and Stirling Counties are bracketed second with over 26 per cent. Ayr County is 787 next with over 20 per cent., and Sutherland, in the far North, follows with over 18 per cent. Of the cities, Edinburgh is top scorer, with over 17 per cent. The average in Scotland as at 28th May was over 10 per cent.
In the milk-in-schools scheme we now supply over 500,000 school children. Among the local authorities West Lothian heads the list with the splendid figure of 81.7 per cent.; Glasgow is second with just over 80 per cent.; East Lothian is third with 80 per cent. exactly; Midlothian and Edinburgh are only a decimal point behind.
§ Mr. Garro Jones (Aberdeen, North)
Could the right hon. Gentleman give us the figures for the "also rans"?
§ Mr. Johnston
I am giving a kind word to the top scorers. We are exerting all the pressure we can upon the local authorities which are lagging behind. In addition to these nutrition efforts there has been a considerable development of works canteens, pit canteens and British Restaurants. All are playing their part in maintaining and improving the nutritional standards of the Scottish people.
I have been very concerned, as we all are, about our infantile mortality figures. The figure per thousand births rose from 68—I leave out the decimal—in 1939—and that in itself was a high figure—to 78 in 1940 and 83 in 1941. I have asked the Department of Health's Scientific Advisory Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir John Boyd Orr, to consider and report quickly, if they can, the causes of this rise and to suggest remedial measures. This Committee is composed of 10 of the most eminent medical scientists in Scotland and includes as liaison officer Sir Edward Mellanby, the Secretary of the Medical Research Council. This Committee in turn has co-opted to a subcommittee 12 recognised experts in child health in Scotland. Meanwhile the figures so far for this year show a definite improvement.
Against the main block of the child infectious diseases we are in the main holding our own, particularly over the last pre-war year, 1938. Scarlet fever is down by half; diphtheria is up, although it is down from 1940—I will say a word about that in a moment; enteric fever is up; whooping cough is also up; and 788 the figure for measles is down. In recent years the average notified infections from diphtheria were about 10,000. In 1940 they rose to 15,711. In 1941 they had fallen slightly to 13,586, but in 1942 they are back again to the pre-war average figures.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Could the right hon. Gentleman indicate what the pre-war figure was?
§ Mr. Johnston
Just about 10,000. There are now 73 per cent. of school children immunised against diphtheria infection in Scotland, and 58 per cent. of our pre-school children are immunised. We have traced the condition as regards immunisation of 428 out of 466 fatal cases of diphtheria among children last year. Among the immunised children there was only one death out of about 1,000 cases who contracted the disease. Among the non-immunised children there were 427 deaths out of about 7,000 cases which contracted the disease.
The Committee will expect me to say something about the recent and alarming outbreak of smallpox in Glasgow. On 29th May a ship with passengers from Bombay arrived in the Clyde. There was on board one case of smallpox among the crew. The usual precautions were taken, including the detention of the crew and the vaccination of all persons on board, but further cases have occurred.
§ Mr. Johnston
Those are the figures which I got from the medical officer of health. Ten cases are persons who had been on the ship.
§ Mr. Buchanan
This is a terribly important matter, and I would like the right hon. Gentleman to say whether he is sure that the Glasgow authority was properly notified about this. Did the shipping authorities notify the Glasgow authority properly, and were these people dealt with at once?
§ Mr. Johnston
I think I can say so. A doctor went on board, and as a matter of fact himself caught the disease.
§ Mr. Johnston
I am informed that they were notified. I am giving the informa- 789 tion which I have received. As I say, 10 cases were directly from the ship, and in Scotland there are 23 other cases. Of this total of 33 cases, 20 had never been vaccinated, and the other 13 had not been vaccinated since infancy. There have been four deaths, and the city medical officer of health and the chief medical officer of the Department of Health of Scotland both declare that the smallpox is unfortunately of the most virulent and infectious type.
§ Mr. Johnston
Yes. In 1920–21 we had in Glasgow an outbreak of smallpox which lasted for 11 months and produced 831 cases of the disease. This time the population has responded smartly and promptly to the medical officer's appeal to be vaccinated, and this morning I am informed that 400,000 persons in Glasgow have gone voluntarily to be vaccinated.
§ Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew (Ayr and Bute, Northern)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point about vaccination, may I ask him whether there is an adequate supply of lymph available? I have heard that there was rather a shortage in Scotland.
§ Mr. Johnston
I do not know about all Scotland, but there is an adequate supply for all the population in the industrial area around Glasgow if necessary.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the figure of 33 persons who had now been certified as suffering from smallpox. Are all these within the confines of the Glasgow area?
§ Mr. Johnston
No, Sir. On security grounds I do not know whether I ought to indicate where these cases are, but I think I may mention that there are three cases in an English town, including a passenger from the ship.
Venereal disease is not compulsorily notifiable, but several medical officers of health aver that since the outbreak of war there has been a considerable increase, and we are considering whether any further measures of control are possible. Again in the case of scabies, although there is no notification, by all accounts there is a vast and disturbing 790 increase. The 1941 Order made under the Defence Regulations giving power to medical officers of health for the inspection of premises and the examination and treatment of persons in a verminous condition and the cleansing or destruction of vermin-infested clothing is now being operated in a considerable number of areas in Scotland. Cerebro-spinal fever, which is, I believe, mainly a respiratory disease and is largely accelerated by wartime conditions, is still, alas, five times the pre-war figure, but I am happy to say that in the first half of 1942 a considerable decline is observable. Tuberculosis is still showing an upward tendency, the notifications for 1941 being 8,302 or over 800 cases more than there were in the last pre-war year. There may be various explanations of this increase—the stresses and strains of war, the black-out, medical examinations for the Services and for industry at an earlier stage throwing up evidences of tuberculosis, and so on.
May I here interpolate my view that the public health of Scotland will suffer greatly if during next winter or any part of next winter there is an acute domestic fuel shortage? Heat supplies are as necessary as food supplies for disease resistance. The rationing of coal is beyond my purview to-day, but I would strongly urge local authorities, especially in areas remote from the coalfields and where there is long railway haulage involved, to lay in and to encourage private citizens to lay in reserves of cut timber. There are many thousands of tons of timber-mill waste available in Scotland, and I have ascertained that the Timber Production Department will be willing to dispose of it to local authorities. Already five local authorities have trimmed their lamps and are ready with timber reserves should there be a fuel shortage at any period next winter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] I have not the names here. Speaking from memory I believe Langholm is one, and Aberdeen, I think, is another. In addition to mill waste, there are hundreds of thousands of tons of blown-down timber which private citizens might acquire and cut up as fuel reserves.
Let the explanations of the causes be what they may, the figures which I have given for the respiratory diseases are disturbing. They give cause for anxiety, and force us back clearly and definitely upon the problem of better housing.
791 Before I speak of housing, however, may I say a word in explanation of two major efforts we have made during the past 12 months to improve the general state of public health and to lessen unnecessary human suffering? In pre-war years Scotland was most definitely under-hospitalised; I will not say that we were the worst in Europe, but we were most certainly short of requirements by some 3,600 beds. Now, as one beneficient result of the war, we have in Government ownership nine first-class acute hospitals, with 8,000 beds, and 66 convalescent hospitals with 3,800 beds. These are war casualty hospitals, but so long as the beds—or, rather, a large proportion of them—were not filled with war service cases, it was obvious to me that they should be used, together with the doctors and nurses who were standing by, to reduce the waiting list cases in the voluntary hospitals. There were naturally thousands of cases upon those waiting lists; some of them had been on the waiting lists for years. We came to an arrangement with the voluntary hospitals whereby we would take over from them any cases other than chronic cases, and for which we charge the voluntary hospitals an all-inclusive fee of 30s. per case, no matter how long the patient has to reside in a Government hospital. The Committee will be glad to know that we have already dealt with nearly 6,000 of those cases, and one of our best-known Glasgow hospitals, which had a waiting list of 931, last week had only 87 on its books.
We are trying-out in the Clyde basin an experiment in providing specialist diagnosis and treatment, to which I attach the utmost importance. I had meetings with the panel doctors in the Clyde Valley and invited their co-operation in what I think is a great experiment in preventive medicine. Any young panel patient between the ages of 15 and 25—and I should say that we do not ask them to produce their birth certificates if they should be 26 or 27—may be referred to the Regional Medical Service by his panel doctor for specialist diagnostic assistance and, where necessary, hospital and convalescent home treatment. These are provided in our State hospitals, and there is no charge. The scheme began in January, 1942, and by 3rd July some 610 cases difficult to diagnose, and caught perhaps just in time—and that, I take it, is real 792 preventive medicine—had been dealt with under this new scheme.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps he is taking to publicise that most important statement in every single part of the industrial areas of Scotland?
§ Mr. Johnston
I could not go over the whole of Scotland; I had to take the Clyde Valley. I had meetings with all the panel doctors, who are the persons most directly concerned, and we also interviewed works and factory doctors, and so on. We have taken every possible step we can through the medical profession in the area covered by this initial experiment to see that the fullest possible use is made of our scheme. I should perhaps add that in some cases the hospital doctors in charge recommend the Ministry of Labour to see that the cure is made more certain and more permanent by transferring the patients to other and more suitable employment. I hope to see this system of providing specialist diagnosis and treatment gratis greatly extended, both in age groups and in areas.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of those 610 cases were under 18, or are figures not available?
§ Mr. Johnston
I cannot give figures for separate age groups, but only the total between the ages of 15 and 25. I hope to see the specialist diagnosis and treatment system greatly extended, both in age groups and in areas, but we already cover an area in which reside about 44 per cent. of the panel patients in Scotland, and that is a fairly good beginning.
The war stopped temporarily our drive for rehousing and for better housing. Labour and materials had to be directed to A.R.P. works, munitions factories, aerodromes and so on, but in Scotland we could and did plead successfully that as our housing conditions were so terrible we could not afford, even in the vital interests of the war effort itself, to stop the building of the houses that had already been begun. So in Scotland since the outbreak of war we have completed 27,960 houses, over 20,000 of them by local authorities, 6,000 by private enterprise and over 1,500 by the Scottish Special Housing Association. Obviously we started with those which were almost com- 793 pleted and then went further down the list, and in all we have completed some 27,960. The number at present still being constructed and completed is 7,482. Of those about 4,700 have roofs on them, and I will do everything in my power to get priority in labour and materials to secure the completion of those houses, but the position becomes steadily more difficult. Last year we had only 5,594 houses completed. I should perhaps add that hostels have been built for homeless workers, four of them each accommodating, if the occasion should arise, 480 men. Each is capable of being quickly subdivided into family housing with all modern conveniences in post-war years.
Housing is now the only necessity of life not rationed, and perhaps I may give one or two examples of what is being done in an endeavour to share what housing accommodation there is as fairly as possible. In Greenock, where there is severe pressure on housing, I am discussing with the town council the possibility of their requisitioning for partial division and occupancy houses over a certain size. A survey is now being made by the Corporation. In Glasgow I invited both the Corporation and the Property Owners' and Factors' Association to give me what information they could as to the number of unoccupied houses in Glasgow known to them. The Corporation discovered that there were some 89 unoccupied houses in their own ownership. Rents, of course, were being paid, but the houses, for one reason or another, were unoccupied. As a result of correspondence with the tenants 20 of these houses are now to be sub-let furnished.
§ Mr. Johnston
I put it rather mildly. I do not know how far we could have pushed it without requisitioning. More than 60 are being hurriedly reoccupied by their tenants, thereby freeing accommodation elsewhere. The position is even more surprising with regard to privately-owned houses. There are reported to be no fewer than 1,382 furnished but unoccupied privately-owned dwellings in Glasgow. They range from one-apartment houses up to houses of eight apartments and over. There are 592 two-apartment houses, 100 five-apartment houses, and so on. Obviously, therefore, 794 we have here a reserve of accommodation which we may require to indent upon for homeless people or transferred war workers. In addition, an inquiry is now proceeding as to how far the 2,295 vacant shops might be suitably and readily adaptable for housing accommodation.
I have said nothing to-day about areas in Scotland where there has been billeting of war workers upon the civilian population, nor about the hostels for potentially homeless families which we are now building—we have built them for 3,600 persons—nor about evacuation camps—five camps accommodating about 220 persons each. I am confining myself to a general survey, but I would, if I may, add these comments upon the housing of post-war Scotland. Whoever has to shoulder the task of organising the provision of from 40,000 to 50,000 houses a year—and nothing less will suffice—will require all the assistance and good will he can get in every quarter. Labour must be organised, additional workers must be trained, materials must be secured and in readiness, all up-to-date building methods both in the United States of America and on the Continent must be studied. There should be improvements in housing design and layout; care should be taken so far as possible to see that housing is distributed according to the development and location of industry. Local authorities will require to make more use of their powers to provide furniture at cost price, and the categories of tenancy for new municipal houses will require to be widened. Overcrowding, slum tenancy as passports to a new house, yes, but the young married couples beginning life, yes also.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves that point will he say—I know he cannot go into detail—what is the relationship between his own Ministry and the Ministry of Works and Planning?
§ Mr. Johnston
I would be greatly obliged if I were not pressed to run that hare across the track. At all events I can say that so far as house building in Scotland is concerned the powers of the Scottish Department of Health, the powers of the Secretary of State, are unimpaired.
There are some features of our Scottish local rating system which are alleged to be deterrents to a more vigorous develop- 795 ment of the owner-occupied house. It might be worth our while inquiring into how far some of these deterrents can be removed. I propose, at a very early date, to reconstitute and strengthen the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee. It will have powers to co-opt specialists for committee work. It will sit almost in perpetual session, I hope, and I have asked my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Mr. Westwood) to be Chairman. I ought perhaps to add that preliminary work in connection with the selection of housing sites so that local authorities may be ready to start building immediately after the war in certain areas is already in hand. We are getting full information upon what housing sites local authorities have already purchased so that we may assess their further needs. In addition, a classification survey of all the land in central Scotland is nearing completion. This survey, will show the agricultural possibilities of the land and will help us to plan the post-war use of land for housing, industry, playing fields, etc., in such a way as to preserve the best agricultural land for agricultural purposes.
§ Mr. Johnston
My Departments. [Interruption.] They are doing it in consultation.
If I may on this Vote, I would briefly refer to the alarming increase in juvenile delinquency. There is an increase of 3,500 cases over the last pre-war year, and that is an increase of 22 per cent. To some extent, perhaps, we might have expected that war conditions, the absence of parental control, the black-out, and in some areas the relaxation of school discipline and evening school tuition would cause some increase in what is catalogued as malicious mischief, and especially among older children of some 14 to 17 years. What is more disturbing is to find that 6,752 of the prosecutions were for theft, and 2,883 were for housebreaking, these two crimes amounting to half the total, and I regret to say that more than half the number of children found guilty were under the age of 14. I have no specific or tabloid remedy for this state of things, but we must do everything we can to get the probation officer system developed by local authorities.
I do not want to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, if he only intends a brief reference, but looking at the Votes on the Order Paper I am inclined to think that the matters with which he is dealing come under some other special Vote and not under any of those down to-day.
§ Mr. McKinlay
Further to that point of Order, is it not a fact that juvenile delinquency is closely linked up with housing conditions in Scotland? If so, is it not proper that reference may be made to it?
That may be. It is one of many matters which it is not proper to debate to-day, but it may be in Order to refer to it.
§ Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)
The right hon. Gentleman has shown that this problem, as he is discussing it, is related to school children, and we are dealing with the Education Vote on one of these Estimates.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Does not this come under the present Vote, and is not the Minister charged with all matters affecting the welfare of youth?
That may be, but it does not come under the Votes on the Order Paper, and, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are other special Votes which deal with these matters. Therefore we certainly cannot take these as matters for discussion to-day.
§ Mr. Johnston
I appreciate that these discussions would come more appropriately upon the Home Department Vote, but, as I was referring particularly to school children, public health and public well-being,. I thought it was necessary to make some reference to the alarming increase in juvenile delinquency. I was saying that we ought to get the probation officer system developed by the local authorities and that there should be a great impetus given to youth welfare clubs and hostels. Though, no doubt, we shall require to increase our approved schools and disciplinary institutions such as remand homes, still these things should be regarded as last resorts and also as a confession of the failure of society to provide playing fields and other outlets for the exuberance of youth. They are certainly not to be 797 regarded as a substitute for parental control. I would plead for a wider appreciation of the necessity of using our schools less as memory training institutions and more as training grounds for good citizenship. We should, in our schools as in our homes, try to inculcate high ideals of duty, mutual aid, and social service, and I confess that I would not be sorry to see these ideals supplant some parts of what are now called "learning" in our curricula.
There are many other phases of communal effort in producing citizens with the sound mind and the sound body upon which I have not touched to-day, such as nursing, householders' mutual aid schemes in the event of war damage, the development of nursery schools—and here we must clearly distinguish between nursery schools and war-time nurseries or creches—and the experiments in personal hygiene being conducted in several centres in Glasgow by local authority.
The further diminution in our school evacuation figures, the growing shortage of doctors in civilian service, maternal mortality, the Highlands and Islands Medical Service and other matters—many of these subjects have been elaborated with Scottish M.P.s at our regional gatherings. To-day I have concentrated upon the major issues of health, housing and child nutrition, and no doubt we shall in the course of the Debate receive many valuable suggestions and much useful advice enabling us to promote further the end we all have in view—the health and well-being of our fellow citizens.
§ Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)
My right hon. Friend has, as usual, given us a very comprehensive and very interesting statement upon the administration of the great office of which he is the head, and he has touched upon many subjects. I thought that at one time during the course of his remarks he was leading us on to very controversial ground when, arising out of his remarks with regard to the emergence of smallpox in Glasgow, he developed that to take us into the realm of compulsory notification of certain diseases which are not now required to be notified compulsorily. However, I am not going to follow along that line but to try and compress what I have to say within a very small compass. The statement made to us by my right hon. Friend is one which, while it was a good 798 statement in some of its aspects, causes us concern, and in the summary Health Report that was available to us yesterday we have to deplore the evidence of the increase in the incidence of maternal and infant mortality, although we are glad to notice that in the first quarter of this year there was an apparent fall in mortality in respect of these classes. We also deplore the incidence of rising tuberculosis figures shown both by notifications and deaths from this cause. My right hon. Friend has shown that inquiries have been set on foot into the causes of these increases, and I am sure that we hope that these will result in their being tackled effectively.
I wonder whether the point which arose during the English health Debate will be taken into account in dealing with the question of maternal mortality. There we had the question of the use of anaesthetics in child-birth very acutely raised, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to agree that that particular point shall be considered when his inquiries are being pursued. The report that is available to us is one that, because of the faults in it in respect of these increases, my right hon. Friend hardly deserves because of the energy and enthusiasm with which he tackles his great task. These things may be prevented. They look at the moment to be possibly due to certain war causes, but, notwithstanding that, we deplore them and hope that they may be remedied. We look at certain other things mentioned in that health report which we can deplore much more strenuously because we know and can point definitely to the cause at them. I refer, for example, to the failure of doctors in certain local authority areas to accept service in carrying out maternity services. That is referred to in the report. It is a deplorable state of affairs that doctors at this time of day should stand aside from giving what aid they can towards helping on a good cause of this kind.
§ Mr. Buchanan
The hon. Gentleman is making a very serious statement reflecting on a very important profession, for which I at least have a deep regard because of the work of doctors among the very poor people in my city. I would like him, when making so serious a statement, to give us some real evidence of the kind.
§ Mr. Mathers
The evidence of what I am saying is in the Health Report which 799 was available for us yesterday, and I know that in a certain part of my own area it is deplored very seriously by the local authority that they have not been able up to the present time to get the local doctors to co-operate with them in dealing with maternity services.
One of the most pleasing parts of my right hon. Friend's recital was that in relation to the experiment that is being made in the Clyde basin with regard to the arrangements he has established for supervising the health of industrial workers and for providing specialised diagnostic and treatment opportunities for disease in its incipient stages, before it has time to develop. Tuberculosis is also one of the bad marks in the Report we have before us. It is very largely a disease of bad housing, and my right hon. Friend has shown how much he recognises the need for Scotland having better housing. I am sure we congratulate him on reestablishing the Housing Advisory Committee, and we know that under the chairmanship of the energetic Under-Secretary of State it will not lack the necessary drive. In my area and in others there are at the present time quite a number of partly finished houses. Many of them, apparently, cannot be finished because of the lack of the necessary materials and, in some cases, the necessary labour. I notice that a little time ago there were in Edinburgh 372 such houses. In the Burgh of Bo'ness that position prevails to some small extent, and in discussing this matter recently the town council was faced with a circular from the Scottish Department of Health which showed the restrictions that were laid down in respect of dealing with the completion of these houses. The local newspaper, commenting on the Department's circular, said:Floors and roofs, it was stated, must be of concrete. No wood would be supplied for the purpose. Door facings, shelvings would be reduced to a minimum; cast iron would be deleted from all constructions; rones and conductors would be in asbestos; material would be allowed in lieu of lead and copper piping; only black iron would be permitted for water and other fittings. These, it was stated, were only some of the difficulties in house-building caused by the war, and the Ministry of Supply might curtail the above permissions at any moment as the supply position was changing almost daily. In face of the difficulties enumerated the Town Council felt there was nothing for it but to leave the walls standing as at present.800 These are houses built up to the first floor which cannot be completed, and if only a small number of these houses in Bo'ness could be finished, it would be of very great help. I am sure that applies all over the county which I have the honour to represent. Is it not possible for something to be done in this matter? Is it not possible, when war factories have been completed, to turn men and materials, which are at present unobtainable, to the finishing of these houses? The dire need for housing need not be stressed here to-day. All Scottish Members know our position. I am sure we wish well to the Under-Secretary in his drive in respect of post-war planning, but we also wish to see some progress made, if it is at all possible, in the immediate future.
Dealing with post-war housing, it is rather remarkable to consider that we now need for Scotland, immediately, as many houses as have been built by public enterprise since the end of the last war. That means that we will need to make haste and try every method of tackling this problem against the post-war position. I am sure we all recognise the menace to marital happiness that is represented by unsuitable housing accommodation for people who, newly married, wish to have a place of their own. Among the other substitutes for normal building material I wonder whether my right hon. Friend can give some consideration to the immense deposits of spent shale that are available in the Lothians. I am told that certain interested people have had an analysis made of that material and have found that it will be suitable for building. I hope that an authoritative investigation can be made into this question to see whether it can be used. Millions of tons of it are available and we will be glad to see it wiped off the face of the landscape and use made of it.
§ Mr. Mathers
At the present time a small quantity of bricks are being made from this material. I am told that they are very good, and I am sure that even Glasgow would not look any the worse for having houses built with some of this spent shale.
§ Mr. Mathers
On the contrary, the bricks made from that material are a dark purple colour. Suggestions are made about what stands in the way of Scottish development on private enterprise lines in the building of houses. It has been pointed out that in Scotland much less use is made of the building societies by people who build and own their own houses. The factors that have operated in that regard are quite commendable and understandable from the Scottish point of view. The factors that have militated against the use that is made in Southern Britain of the building societies are, I think, two. First, there is Scotland's enforced consideration of industrial insecurity. The drift South has caused that feeling of insecurity, and many people who would probably otherwise have established their own homes in Scotland, with building societies' assistance, have felt that their position was too precarious to enable them to do so. Secondly, there is the characteristically Scottish reluctance to commit the future too deeply and to embark upon enterprises from which they cannot see quite ready emergence. Scottish people as a whole are, naturally, people who do not commit themselves financially until they can see right through quite confidently to the end of the debt that they incur.
Paragraph 60 of the Report to which I have made reference deals with planning. I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether that includes regional planning and whether he is taking steps to impress upon local authorities, especially the county authorities, the very great necessity for planning in conjunction with one another on a regional basis. I know that in my own county nothing is being done in this respect, and yet across the border of that county, in Midlothian, which is the same type of area, planning is going on. It seems to be an awful waste of effort and ideas that the planning of adjacent areas should not be carried on at the same time.
I turn for a moment or two to the Education Vote. I would like to know, if it is possible to give me the explanation, why it is that the county which I represent should be in the honours list in the matter of the provision of milk in schools and why at the same time, according to Command Paper 6366, presented by the 802 Secretary of State for Scotland in June, 1942, which gives a return relating to the second half of February of this year, the county of Linlithgow should be almost, if not absolutely, at the bottom of the list of counties providing meals in schools. One looks for the reasons for these things. I saw that when the county council were discussing their budget recently, it was shown that nothing had been provided last year for meals in schools; this year, I was pleased to see, they were providing in the budget an advance of £4,000 in this connection. I know that one might cynically point to the fact that not much trouble is involved to an education authority in arranging for milk in schools, but that a good deal of thought and care, and it may be trouble, are involved in providing for cooked meals in school. But I do not think that need deter the county of West Lothian, because in that county there is a cooking depot which, at the present time, is providing meals for schools to some extent and for British Restaurants which are equipped to do a considerable amount of cooking on their own account; and but for the fact that, apparently, it is desired to use this cooking centre, they would be using the equipment which they have locally. I think there is full justification for asking that the central equipment in the county should be used for schools and that the British Restaurants should do more of their own cooking. My right hon. Friend said in his statement that he intended to push to the utmost the idea of hot meals in schools. I hope he will be successful as far as concerns the county which I represent.
I want to say only a word or two on the general question of education and the schooling of children. I have often thought about—and I am sure the matter has been in many minds—the question of the textbooks that are used in schools. I have no desire to see education stereotyped along any particular lines, but there is room for both teachers and local education committees, perhaps together, to consider the question of these textbooks. I think, too, that education in the rural areas is far too seldom made attractive from the point of view of the countryside. The teachers are, perhaps naturally, urbanised in their outlook. They look forward to getting away from the country school to town and city schools, which represent for them promotion and 803 advancement; but I do not think that this necessarily compels them to seek to use textbooks and forms of teaching that in any way militate against the advantages of country life, especially to those who remain in the countryside and who ought to be provided with opportunities for remaining in the countryside, without this being of the slightest disadvantage to them.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to juvenile delinquency. I shall not pursue that matter. I think that education should be designed to teach the finer graces of life and that in schools we can develop those finer graces, good manners, good conduct, and everything that is consistent with the greatest manliness and the highest courage. Education should be for life, and health and education, it seems to me, can very well go together, as indeed we are linking those two subjects together in this Debate. More opportunity could be taken in the schools, for example, in the character-forming period of children's lives, to show them the advantage from the point of view of health of keeping clear of many of the evils with which they may be confronted in after-life—I mean evils such as drink and gambling and the like—and how important it is not to prostitute body or mind in any unworthy way. In Scotland what we look forward to in the realm of education, under the guidance of the right hon. Gentleman and those associated with him at the headquarters of Scottish affairs, is the development of a vigorous and worth-while education, leading to the real establishment of a Christian democracy in this country.
§ Sir Murdoch MacDonald (Inverness)
I want to congratulate the Secretary of State on the statement he has made in regard to public health in Scotland, particularly that part which referred to children and to the magnificent increase both in weight and stature as a consequence of meals in schools and the supply of milk to the children at an early age in the schools. The right hon. Gentleman is certainly to be congratulated on this and also on what he has done in regard to housing. Housing is, of course, of the very greatest importance to public health. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the steps that are being taken. I hope he will urge his Department to 804 pass through more quickly than they have done authority to select sites, to lay them out and to prepare all the initial stages. In my constituency a scheme to build 500 houses has been held up for some considerable time, although the council were anxious to settle the sites and do all the preliminary work. I quite realise that the necessary materials could not be provided and that they will not be provided until the war is over, but everything ought to be made ready now so that the building can begin when the war is over.
I gather from the Minister that new steps must be taken in regard to furnishing labour and inducing young men and boys to enter the various trades concerned. I hope the Minister will develop a programme in regard to that matter, because the number of houses required in Scotland is such that it would fully justify him planning for 30 years ahead. In saying that, I do not mean that the houses which are urgently required now would not be provided until the end of that time, but hon. Members must remember that while we are providing those houses existing houses are gradually degenerating into slum property and will require to be rebuilt. As I know only too well, that condition arises in every town in Scotland. If I remember the figure correctly, in Glasgow they were building 3,000 a year some time ago. I made a calculation which showed that with the deterioration of existing houses with a life of between 60 and 80 years a further 3,000 would be required to replace them. Therefore a programme for a long period of years is required.
There is also the question of the kind of service which is required to meet this situation, and in my view it will have to be some public corporation. That public corporation must prevent the cost of houses soaring to the sky as was the case at the end of the last war because there was no proper control. It resulted in no houses being built. We want houses very badly, and the houses must be at a cost which will enable people to afford the rents, and that can only be done if some arrangement is made now or immediately at the end of the war to induce people to go into the services of the various trades with the genuine expectation of 30 years' steady and regular employment. I can envisage at the end of that period, which I certainly cannot expect to see but which 805 many hon. Members may hope to see, the housing conditions in Scotland as they really ought to be.
The Secretary of State for Scotland also referred to council houses. He mentioned that there were unoccupied private and I think publicly owned houses which could possibly be used in many towns where congestion was rife. I would ask him to look into the position in council houses. These houses have two, three, four and five rooms, and often some of the larger houses are occupied by people without families who could be moved to a smaller house, making room for those who genuinely require the larger accommodation. If a proper rearrangement was made under the present difficult war circumstances, it is quite possible greatly to relieve the position. I suggest that some sort of scheme should be pressed on local authorities to see that full use is made of existing accommodation.
I was appalled, as were many other hon. Members, at the delinquency figures to which the Secretary of State made reference. This has a bearing on the first part of his speech, in which he dealt with education. Quite obviously it is high time that we had control over young people at a much later age than at present. To-day boys can leave school at 14 and enter work. Many stay on to 15, and I hope in the years to come, if it be not made compulsory, they will be encouraged to remain at school until they are 16. It is only by having control beyond the age of 16 and certainly up to the age of 18 that we can avoid such a dreadful state of affairs. It is not on those grounds alone that it is desirable that education should be extended to a later stage. To-day we are living in a mechanical age, and in my opinion the training which is given in schools is not what it ought to be. At least 90 per cent. of the boys who leave school become workmen, and in my view it is essential that they should have a thorough technical training before they leave school, and if that be not possible during school hours, they should obtain it by attendance at night schools. It may not be possible to do this during a war, but I recommend the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider extending greatly the technical institutions which we have already got and continuing training to a much later period than is practicable now. Also when they leave 806 school at 15, or even 16, it should be still compulsory upon them to attend training classes in the evening.
If that were done, undoubtedly the boys would be kept together and the likelihood of delinquency would be reduced and, still more important, the vast majority—because, after all, delinquency affects a relatively small percentage—would have a far better technical education to enter into the new world, in which mechanical matters will be of the most vital importance and where everyone ought to know all that is possible about them When the war is finished it will be the inventiveness and skill of our workmen which will save the country, and, in so far as that statement may be true, I recommend the Secretary of State to consider extending night classes compulsorily, if it can be done, up to the age of 18. It would be hard to take boys every night of the week, but that may not be necessary. There might be alternate nights, and physical instruction might intervene to make life more pleasant for them. If an extension is made up to 18 years of age, in the end a very great benefit will be done to the country, and I feel certain that delinquency will be very greatly reduced.
§ Major McCallum (Argyll)
I should like to add my thanks to the Secretary of State for his very interesting statement on public health, but there is one point in it that I should like to take up, the question of the very serious outbreak of smallpox in the Clyde Valley area. Rumours are going about my constituency that the question of notification and the immediate reporting of it was not all that it should have been, but that is a point which perhaps more concerns Glasgow. What concerns my constituency is this: Next week the Glasgow Fair holiday begins, and already the bookings in my constituency for the holiday are enormous. There has been a tremendous response in Glasgow to the necessity of being vaccinated, and the medical officers in Argyllshire are also stressing to my constituents the importance of being vaccinated. A difficulty has arisen already in the shortage of necessary supplies. Could the Department of Health arrange for urgent supplies in areas which are likely to be visited by many hundreds of thousands of citizens of Glasgow in the next week or two?
807 There is another point that comes under the Vote for education. In my constituency we are suffering very greatly from a shortage of teachers, caused largely by the call-up of male teachers to various forms of national service. Without the help of married teachers coming back I -am informed that the Argyllshire education authorities would have been hard put to it to carry on. We have to-day quite 1oo single-teacher schools, and the shortage means that the closing of numbers of them is imminent. It is obvious that there is a certain reluctance to go to remote areas, such as exist in many parts of the county, to take up work in these single-teacher schools. There is one way which I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman in which perhaps the Department of Education could help, and that is in the matter of petrol supplies to local contractors to carry children to and from school. In at least eight different areas in the islands and in the remote parts of the county contractors have said they are unable to carry out their contracts for more than five weeks out of 20, and for the other 15 weeks they have to refuse the work. They have applied for some adjustment in the supplies of fuel to the local petroleum officer, who on every occasion has turned them down. Could the right hon. Gentleman perhaps persuade the Minister for Fuel that these contractors should be given sufficient supplies to enable them to carry out their contracts? It is sometimes a question of a distance of 15 miles each way. Still further help could be given by granting certain specific areas even greater allowances of petrol, closing down a number of single-teacher schools and concentrating the children in the larger schools. That can only be done if sufficient fuel supplies can be arranged between the Department of Education and the Ministry of Fuel. I suggest that the lack of teachers can be overcome to a small extent in that way.
§ Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)
This is one of the few times when Scotsmen have the right to survey the affairs of Scotland. May I thank the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for one thing at least, that on this occasion he, in making his survey, did not confine himself to the miserable quarter-of-an-hour that has hitherto been allotted? I have 808 never approved of the way in which we allotted time in these Debates, and I was pleased that the Secretary of State took much more time, as he was entitled to, to survey the position with more detail than hitherto.
May I say a word on juvenile delinquency, although I do not think you would allow me, Sir Charles—I am not criticising you in any way—to go as far as you allowed the hon. Member for Inverness (Sir M. MacDonald). I will not discuss the question of raising the school age to 18, because I recognise that that would be out of Order. It is not sufficient for the Scottish Office to discuss forms of punishment when considering the question of dealing with boys. When juvenile crime is on the increase there must be some reason for it in the background of the children. However we may develop in later years, in the youthful years there is not a great deal of difference between us all. We may later develop other tendencies, but when there is a sharp rise in juvenile crime we must look outside the child and see whether the social conditions are not producing the children who commit crimes. In these day when the Ministry of Labour and the great Government Departments are doing everything they can to induce every type of woman to work and to take them from their homes, perhaps one of the greatest contributory factors of juvenile crime is that children are not merely minus their fathers, but are frequently minus their mothers as well. I remember my own boyhood days when I ran about tenement property in my native city without the guidance at least of my mother. It is all very well for us to talk about vengeance and for people who sit in the courts and adjudicate on these matters to talk about punishment, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to look for the contributory factors of juvenile crime.
May I say a word about a paragraph in the Secretary of State's Report that seems rather unfair? The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) referred to the section dealing with the maternity service. The Report says that certain medical people are still refusing to accept medical service for maternity cases. That statement may be true, but if the Secretary of State is going to make charges against the profession they ought to be more specific. Who are these medical people? In what districts are they? Are 809 they all over Scotland? To what extent do they exist? Speaking for the city I know best, I can say that the local authority have made a commendable effort. To my knowledge, since the maternity service has been developed there has not been one case in which the service was not accepted. It may be true that a medical practitioner in private practice is unable at times to cope with the work, but in my native city I do not know of a case where either the local practitioner or the town council through its health services has not been able to undertake the task. The Secretary of State in this paragraph in his Report has charged a profession which, on the whole, performs its work as creditably as most of us perform our work, and they should not be attacked in such a general way.
I should like to say a word about two problems which most concern me. The Secretary of State showed how the health of the people was not going back. Indeed, he spoke so much about improvement of health that one was almost inclined to wish for a war now and again to improve our health. I do not deny that in certain respects our health has gone up, but it happened in the last war. Those of us who knew the great centres of population in the last war knew that two things happened. Instead of great masses of the people being either constantly unemployed or only very partially employed, they became steadily employed; and in place of low incomes they got much better incomes than they formerly had. People in the main do not waste money, despite the lectures we receive. They devote their incomes to the laudable purpose of caring for their families and themselves. In great cities like my own, unemployment has fallen to nothing compared with pre-war days. The result is that people have a form of security, at least in the war period, and incomes which unfortunately they have not enjoyed before. It is properly spent in buying the necessities of life, and that must reflect itself on the health of the people. I claim that that is no great credit to the Scottish Health Department. It is a creditable thing to the parents in their spending. It also shows that mankind in war can provide steady employment with a good income, but is unable to do it in times of peace.
810 When we examine the facts in regard to housing and other aspects of the health question, one can only look at my native Scotland, and particularly the crowded parts of it, with ghastly horror. I would describe my part of the city, the part I know best, where I was born and bred and which I now represent, as a ghastly place in parts. No Secretary of State for Scotland introducing his Estimates, clothe his statement with figures as he may, and produce little improvements here and there as he may, can gloss over the fact that in great blocks in Glasgow the conditions can only be described as ghastly. Sometimes people ask in their exuberance "What would happen if Hitler came?" A perfectly natural question. I do not want to exaggerate, but when I look at those people, herded together worse than cattle, I often wonder how much it matters to them who happens to be on the throne. It is terrible that while men are fighting in the Middle East for freedom their children and their wives at home have not even the security of a house, not even the security of a slum. No Secretary of State for Scotland can tell me that in those circumstances we have a right to be a happy band of brothers, and should accept his Estimates almost unchallenged.
In the days before the war we used to speak about the slum problem. The position in the slums has got worse. The slum was bad. I remember going with a former Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, now the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire (Mr. Wedderburn) round parts of the City of Glasgow, and I am sure he will agree with me that some of the conditions we found there were shocking. We confined our visits to places like parts of Kelvingrove, the Anderston district, Cowcaddens, Camlachie and the Gorbals. The slums were terrible. We found no fewer than 30 or 40 persons using the same lavatory. Those were terrible conditions. But at least there was this to be said for the slum, that when the landlord came to the slum and locked the key in the door at least the slum dwelling was his. What is happening now? There is not even a slum available. The people are herded together in what were formerly big five- and six-apartment houses, with a family in each room and not even a key in the door to lock it. No distinction between sex and sex; the 811 one lavatory which formerly served one family now having to suffice for six families, each with young children, thus making the numbers greater still.
Turning aside for a moment to the smallpox epidemic, I am glad to know that it has been made clear that ths disease came from a ship, because Glasgow has enough to carry already without getting the blame for starting that epidemic. I would ask the Secretary of State to examine again the communication between the people on the ships and the people in the city in regard to this disease. My information, which is not from an unreliable quarter, is that our city authorities just did not get all the chances they should have had for grappling with this outbreak.
And now I come back to the question of houses. Within the last six weeks I have written to the Under-Secretary of State sending him particulars of scores of cases concerning men who are in Libya and whose wives and children have been ordered out of their homes. I have said it was worse than the old slums. Not one of these people has a day's security. The slum is at least protected by the rent restriction legislation and by the courts. These other people are thrown out on the street. What I get from the assistant to the Secretary of State is a letter always courteous in its terms, saying, "We are sorry, but we can do nothing. The question of letting the houses is one for the town council." When you write to the town council they say, "We are awfully sorry, we can do nothing. We have no houses. We have let everything we have got." I say earnestly to the Secretary of State that I think the position in the City of Glasgow is a tragedy. It is so terrible, so serious, that we cannot afford to wait until the end of the war before we build. I am as certain of that as that I am standing here. This war may go on for another two or three years. The Prime Minister, in his speech during the Vote of Censure Debate, talked about our being ready to go forward in 1943, and that means war going on into 1944. Is this herding of our people to continue for so long? Surely not. Just imagine a man with five children being out East and hearing that the rats are jumping over the heads of his children at home. What would hon. Members do if they were out East? Would they want to fight the enemy there or come back and fight the enemy at home?
812 Those are the conditions—and then I am told that I must be satisfied with these Estimates, that we are happy, that we are united, and that I must wait until some day after the war, because, mark you, it will not mean waiting only until just after the war. Plans have to be made, and there will be the question of schemes being taken in rotation. The Secretary of State has announced that he is setting up a new committee, or at least is extending the activities of the existing committee, dealing with Scottish housing. May I say this about the present committee without being too critical? The Scottish Housing Committee was set up by the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, and a chairman was appointed of whom nobody has ever heard. I am not saying that he was not an able man, but he was unknown in Scottish housing matters. I understand that he has now temporarily gone from the post and that another gentleman takes the chair. The committee may have been good or bad, but the results have not been nearly so encouraging as one would like.
The Secretary of State for Scotland should take all the steps in this matter that he can. In the City of Glasgow today, tenement property is standing empty, even in Gorbals. True, there is not much, but the position is getting worse. Houses have been knocked down in Glasgow. The corporation are properly knocking down those which have become dangerous. The Secretary of State says he will discuss the matter. If the Army wanted something in order to get on with the war, it would not be discussed for two seconds. They would go and take it and discuss afterwards. When the Admiralty want a hotel for billeting they do not discuss the matter for very long; they take it and discuss afterwards. The tenements in my Division which are empty were formerly factories, and before that they were tenement property occupied by people. I ask the Secretary of State to take steps now. Let him do so rapidly if he can. I do not want shops to be houses permanently, but I would take anything. I would not keep on discussing and experimenting, but it is not a question for me. I meet the people Sunday after Sunday and look at them. Let the Secretary of State for Scotland proceed not only with finishing what he has got, but let him go to the authorities and say that these terrible, savage conditions, particularly in the 813 West, must be ended. I ask him, with his great power, to take the first step to minimise these terrible conditions. Whatever you might say about these people, to me they are the only people I have ever known.
Mr. Wedderburn (Renfrew, Western)
The most grave and difficult matter for which the Department of Health is responsible is the housing of the Scottish people. I wish to confine what I have to say to that subject. I am glad that it was stressed by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in the speech in which he described the conditions in Glasgow. Those conditions can be paralleled in many other parts of the country. At the end of the last war, about two-fifths of the population of Scotland were living in slums or in overcrowded conditions.
At the beginning of this war, the proportion was about one-fifth. The number of houses built before the war used to average between 15,000 and 20,000 a year, and the greatest number built in any one year was 25,000, of which 7,000 were built by private enterprise and 18,000 by the local authorities, with the aid of a Government subsidy. The houses built by private enterprise were nearly all of a type beyond the means of the ordinary wage-earner, whose needs had to be met almost entirely by subsidised municipal building. In 1939 we still had one-fifth of the population urgently requiring new houses, and since very little building can be done while the war is going on, we must expect that the proportion will be considerably greater—one-fourth or perhaps one-third—if the war should end in 1944. The damage done by enemy action, although in one or two localities it is considerable, has only increased by a small fraction the need which existed when the war began.
Last year the Department of Health estimated that, in order to put an end to the slums and to overcrowding, it would be necessary to build, allowing for normal wastage, 400,000 houses over a period of 10 years, that is, an average of 40,000 a year. That estimate was partly based on the survey which was carried out by the local authorities immediately after the Act of 1936. In my own view the estimate is probably too low, but for reasons of time, the Committee must excuse me from attempting to justify that opinion by 814 means of figures, and I must be content to say that in my own judgment we should require rather less than 500,000 for the ten-year period, or, if it should be decided to do the job in five years, about 420,000 for the five-year period. I call this figure of between 400,000 and 500,000 houses—or, if you prefer the official estimate of 400,000 for the purpose of this Debate, I do not mind—the emergency figure. After it has been finished, we shall still have to go on with the ordinary building, which will always be required to meet normal wastage, and any increase which may take place in the number of married couples.
Normal wastage has been officially reckoned at 10,000 a year. I think it has sometimes been less than that in the past, but for the future I doubt whether this estimate has sufficiently taken account of the fact that we have a great number of houses which are not yet unfit, but which are very old. If it is suggested that some of these old tenements ought to be renovated, that is to say, converted into a smaller number of larger dwellings each of which shall contain a greater number of rooms, with modern conveniences installed, I certainly do not object to that; on the contrary, I think that in some cases it would be the right thing to do, but since the expense in labour and in money of doing so is not always very much less than the cost of building an equivalent number of new houses, it does not greatly affect the argument which I am submitting to the Committee.
I wish to make it plain that even if we accept the Departmental figure of 400,000 houses, which I think is probably too low, and even if we take the 10-year period, which is very long—10 years is a very long time to keep a family waiting in the slums—we shall not be able to do what is required by a continuance or even by an extension of the painfully restricted methods to which we were limited before the war. In order to build these 400,000 or 500,000 emergency houses, we must have sites, we must have material and we must have labour. I would most strongly press the Government to take whatever means may be open to them to acquire the sites now. At the present time the local authorities have in their possession about 8,500 acres of sites, sufficient for the building of 100,000 houses, and it is sometimes suggested that that might be enough to begin 815 with. But it would not be enough, because those sites are not distributed among the local authorities in accordance with their housing needs. Moreover, it may be that some of them will be found unsuitable, for agricultural or other reasons. At the present time local authorities are prohibited even from acquiring an option on a building site. I submit that that is a mistake, and that local authorities ought to be empowered now to acquire the sites which they think are necessary, for it takes a very long time after the site has once been acquired before the first house is built. It is also pointed out, and quite rightly, that before we can decide upon the whole of our building programme we must first determine what our location of industry is going to be, but there are many parts of Scotland where some building will certainly have to be done however your location of industry may be arranged. Do not let us spend years in arguing whether we shall have a satellite town here or a garden city there before anything at all is done in this matter of obtaining sites. It ought to be done now.
As for materials, apart from stone, of which the supply is unfortunately much diminished owing to the exhaustion of our quarries, the three established methods of building are, brick, timber and poured concrete. I see that the Ministry of Works and Planning has despatched a single representative to the United States to study American building methods, including the prefabrication of timber houses. Before the war there were already a number of firms in this country who were manufacturing those houses, two or three in the West of Scotland, one in Dundee and an English firm in Hull. The 500 houses which were erected in Dundee are generally recognised to be much the best of the Dundee housing schemes. The Department of Health should make it their business to ascertain from all firms capable of doing this work how many houses they could produce during the first few years of the peace. They should also make it their business to estimate the quantities of timber likely to be available in that period, and to see that in any arrangements which are being made for the allocation of the surplus timber stocks which will be on our hands at the end of the war due priority is given to the needs of Scottish housing.
816 Since it may be some little time before the manufacture of these houses can proceed in our own country on a great scale, the Scottish Office should also be prepared to purchase manufactured houses either from Canada and American or any other country which is capable of supplying them. Before the war, the Government of Sweden were willing to supply Scotland with any quantity of timber houses which we might require, constructed to any designs which we might choose. Two of them were purchased as specimens by the Scottish Office and erected at Carntyne. I have been over them with other hon. Members once or twice. We still have diplomatic relations with Sweden; and the Swedes cannot have a great deal to do at the present time, it could do no harm to anyone if we were to order provisionally 20,000 or 30,000 of their prefabricated timber houses to be delivered during the first year of peace, provided that Sweden has not met with any unforeseen accident in the meantime. I do not think that that is an impracticable suggestion. At least it would be worth looking into; the Swedes could be engaged in making houses now, while other countries are engaged in making war materials.
I think that there are now two Inter-Departmental Committees sitting, on both of which the Scottish Office is represented, one to consider the whole subject of building and the other to consider the training of building labour. Whatever those committees may report, it must be made plain that the Scottish housing problem demands separate treatment. Scotland has a right to ask for priority, because we have at least six times as much overcrowding as England, and whatever may be decided about Great Britain as a whole, in Scotland at least the Government must continue to exercise the powers which they now hold over the disposition of property and the allocation of labour. I would wish to see some separation made between our normal post-war building programme and the emergency needs which I have described, or at least part of them. Let us have a long-term programme by all means, but let us have superimposed upon it a short-term programme which will be sufficient to get rid of the slums and the worst cases of overcrowding in a much shorter period than 10 years. No 10-year plan that I have ever heard of has ever been finished in 10 years, and I 817 am afraid that if we include the whole of our emergency needs as part of a long-term programme, those needs will hardly be met in our time. You will have endless disputes with the local authorities about the amount of subsidy which they should receive, and continual arguments with the building trade about the number of apprentices to be taken on. I do not blame the building trade, for after all their true purpose is to fulfil our normal building needs, of which domestic housing is only a comparatively small part. And as for the local authorities, their normal function is to provide for the ordinary housing needs of the inhabitants in their area, not to deal with a great national emergency.
One of the great difficulties will be in acquiring sufficient labour to start work as soon as the war ends. When the Ministry of Labour wants to put an additional 100,000 men into the work of making munitions, it does not need to guarantee them continuous employment in that job for another 10 years. If this emergency housing programme is taken by itself, the problem of finding work for any new employees taken on to carry out the programme, and who will not still be employed in building after the programme has been finished, will only be a very small fraction of the general problem which we shall, in any case, have to deal with after the war, of finding work for those who are no longer to be engaged in war industries. Do not let us have any vested interest in bad housing, whether it be on the part of property owners, or on the part of anyone to whom had housing may seem to offer a perpetual prospect of employment.
If the Committee will allow me, I would like to read a short passage from the Prime Minister's book, "The World Crisis," from Volume 6 page 32, where, describing the state of affairs on 11th November, 1918, he says:The organisation and machinery of which we disposed was powerful and flexible in an extraordinary degree. The able business men among us, each the head of a large group of departments, had now been working for a year and a half in a kind of industrial cabinet. They were accustomed to unexpected changes enforced by the shifting fortunes of war. Four or five of them … would put their heads together in an intimate and helpful manner; and in a very few hours—at most in a few days—orders would be given which worked smoothly downwards through innumerable ramifications. There was little in the productive sphere they could not at this time actually 818 do A requisition, for instance, for half a million houses would not have seemed more difficult to comply with than those we were already in process of executing for 100,000 aeroplanes, or 20,000 guns, or the medium artillery of the American Army or 2,000,000 tons of projectiles. But a new set of conditions began to rule from 11 o'clock onwards. The money cost, which had never been considered by us to be a factor capable of limiting the supply of the armies, asserted a claim to priority from the moment the fighting stopped. … A vast and general relaxation, and descent to the standards of ordinary life was imminent.There is no doubt that if the Government are resolved to do it, these emergency needs which we urgently require in Scotland could be carried out in a very short period at the end of the war. I would wish to see them done, not as the opening chapter of peace, but rather as a postscript to our war effort. Surely it would not be too much to ask the whole community in Scotland to submit for a further period of time to that control and to those restrictions over our economic and industrial life which are necessary in war until we have ended the disgraceful and intolerable conditions which would shame the most backward and uncivilised country in the world. When that has been done, but not before, we may then begin to consider that we are at peace.
§ Mr. Barr (Coatbridge)
I think that many of us will be gratified that the hon. Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn) has set before us so bold and so zealous a claim for housing as he has done. I should like also to congratulate, as others have done, my right hon. Friend on his statement, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, who is being asked to undertake this very important work as convener of the Advisory Housing Committee for Scotland. We wish him all success in co-operation with his colleague the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State. It is to the question of housing that I wish to devote myself. I think that, while emphasising what has been so well said by many, it is also a first duty to recognise the progress that has already been made—though it might not so seem to many—in this question of housing. I had the privilege, as a fourth-year student in 1883, on 22nd March, of hearing in St. Andrew's Hall John Bright deliver his Rectorial address as Lord Rector of Glasgow University. He dealt first in a very critical spirit, which we can understand, with the wars of his time, 819 and his prophecies, which he maintained had been justified. Then he turned to the home front and stated this startling fact, which he took from a book, not long published, that in the 1841 census in Scotland it was found that 41 per cent. of all the population of Glasgow were living in single-apartment houses—in one-roomed houses. He went on to say this:There passes before my eyes a vision of millions of families, not individuals but families, fathers, mothers, and children, passing ghastly and sorrow-stricken in a never-ending procession from the cradle to the grave. Was the future to be no better than the past? Do we march or do we not to a brighter time?His own answer came in the striking words with which he closed his address:I plead not for the great and for the rich; I plead for the millions who live in the homes of only one room. Can you answer me in the words which fell from the crowned minstrel who left us the Psalms?—'The needy shall not always be forgotten. The expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.'His expectation of better times was slowly but surely fulfilled. In the census of 1881 the 41 per cent. of 1841 was reduced to 29.6. In the last census in 1931 it was down to 11 per cent. of the population of Glasgow, but that meant the large number of 115,000 living in single apartments. Since then it has been further substantially reduced.
I wish to refer for illustration to my own constituency. At the last census in Coatbridge, the larger of the two burghs that I represent, there were 2,108 one-roomed houses. That has now been reduced to 1,496. In 1931 there were 20.5 per cent. of the population of Coatbridge living in single-apartment houses. I sometimes think it is not so material how many of these houses we have, as how they are inhabited. I find that in Coatbridge 812 single-room houses, according to that census, were occupied by five or more persons, the figures being as follow: 319 one-roomed houses were occupied by five persons each; 237 by six persons; 133 by seven persons; 60 by eight persons; 14 by nine persons; 15 by 10; three by 11; and one by 12.
Coatbridge had the largest percentage of overcrowding in the return that was given from 1934 to 1936, namely, 44 per cent., and yet they set themselves to do their best to remedy this state of affairs. By 15th November last they had either built, or had in course of completion, 820 3,740 houses. At the census of 1931 there were 9,164 houses in Coatbridge, so that they had either in course of erection or completed, 40 per cent. of the originally existing houses. They have always stood very high in proportion to the rate of new houses to population, and it is a highly honourable record that they did so much. Notwithstanding that, the report of the local authority to-day is that the overcrowding position has become worse, and the number of persons occupying rooms has also greatly increased; and they calculate that they need 5,000 new houses to meet present needs.
I turn to the other burgh which I represent the burgh of Airdrie. At the last census the houses with one room were 909. This has now been reduced to 398; but in 1931, 13.5 per cent. of the population of Airdrie were living in single apartment houses. At that census 312 of these one-roomed houses were occupied by five or more persons as follow: 130 by five persons, 98 by six persons, 48 by seven persons, 18 by eight persons, 12 by nine persons, and 6 by ten persons. Until lately Airdrie had completed or had in course of completion 3,196 new houses, and taking the number of existing houses as at the census they had an addition in new housing of 56.4 per cent. of that which previously existed. They not only stood high, like Coatbridge, but on one occasion they were the highest of all the burghs of Scotland in the percentage of new houses per population—a highly honourable record.
What is the position to-day? There are still in Airdrie 1,128 overcrowded families in 980 overcrowded houses. There are 432 unfit houses; and a squatters' survey in 1939 reported 210 squatters, later reduced to 147, but now again increasing. Applications for housing accommodation for the evacuated municipal houses that they hope to have, amount to 550, so that the lists have had to be completely closed for some time. They had in course of erection something like 587 houses, but with the exception of 44 building is at a complete standstill. They have now to wrestle with another problem. As fast as they build houses, different Government Departments come in to commandeer and claim them. Sixty-four new houses in this burgh have been requisitioned, not always on justifiable grounds, as I consider, by various Governments Departments for the housing of im- 821 ported labour. The burgh, authorities claim that they want 1,090 houses for their present needs, leaving out future unfit houses and the growth of the population.
I give these figures to emphasise the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland and those associated with him have a gigantic task before them. On 12th May he gave me an answer that since 1919 there had been erected with Government subsidy in Scotland 281,704 houses at a cost to the Exchequer in subsidies of £38,857,675. Now he has to look at a programme going far beyond those dimensions. Sir William E. White, in his booklet: "Housing Policy after the War," calculates that between 300,000 and 400,000 houses must be built in Scotland. That has been more than confirmed by the hon. Member for Western Renfrew, who thinks that even 400,000 houses, spread over five years or over 10 years, is an under-estimate. That is a gigantic task and I would say to the Joint Under-Secretary for Scotland who is present, and to the Secretary of State for Scotland that the conditions are urgent and desperate. As the right hon. Gentleman himself said, a "terrible condition existed in Scotland."
In order to emphasise how desperate it is I will take three cases with which I have been dealing within the last week of terrible overcrowding, in one-roomed houses particularly. The first is that of a man and wife with seven children, nine persons in all—making a total equal to six adults when they are calculated in that way—in a one-roomed house. Five of them sleep in one bed and four in another. The second is that of a woman in a sub-let house who writes that in a single roomthere are four of us in one bed, and sometimes five of us when my husband comes home on leave.In the third case there are n in one room. The mother writes:I have a son in the Army and a husband working away from home. My husband can only manage home every month. He and my son, if home together, have to sleep on the floor. There are five boys and four girls, and only two beds set in the wall, and one wooden bed.That in itself, in the completeness of its revelation, is an emphasis of the desperate condition of housing, and for my own part I cannot pass along the streets of my two burghs without some one accosting me with tales like these.
822 I want to give three reasons to the Minister and to the Committee for the urgency and helpfulness that will come from advanced housing. As to health results, Dr. Russell, who was medical officer of health for the City of Glasgow, in 1888 published a book entitled "Life in One Room." Nothing more startling or impressive has ever been written, and on the question of health he says:Of all the children who die in Glasgow before they complete their fifth year, 32 per cent. die in houses of one apartment; and not 2 per cent. in houses of five apartments and upwards.Of all the figures that I have brought with me from my service on the Royal Commission on Housing on which I served, and which reported in 1917, the most striking were those given us by Dr. Chalmers, who was then Medical Officer of Health in Glasgow, and who gave us these figures, taken from the Census of 1911:
He said:The death rate at the ages one to five among male children in one-apartment houses is 40.56; for a two-roomed house 30.2; for a three-roomed house 17.9 and for a four-roomed house and upwards 10.2.These figures, however, should be corrected because there is a larger proportion of children between one to five in one-roomed houses than in other houses. It would then run:The death rate of boys under the age of five is as follows: one-roomed house 20.4; two-roomed house 16.83; three-roomed house 12.63; four-roomed house and upwards 10.32.As regards the educational value of good housing I think it is more than accidental that we should be discussing housing and education together to-day. The Reverend David Watson, formerly of St. Clement's Church, Glasgow, a Minister of the Church of Scotland, distinguished for many years for his keen interest and arduous labours in the cause of social reform, before the Royal Commission to which I have referred, gave this evidence bearing on how bad housing affects the education of the young:Children are forced out of doors to give the housewife room to work. That is the saddest result of wretched housing. In my evening visitations I find children everywhere—sitting in the closes and on the stairs, trying to play, often half asleep, on bitter winter nights. Sometimes they play in dark evil-smelling courts, sometimes in the dimly-lit streets. They learn no good, they see sights which demoralise and hear language which corrupts. Any good they learn in the school is neutralised at night.823 But I wish to call more technical evidence. The medical officer of health for the City of Glasgow in successive years, particularly 1929–31, supplied statements from Headmasters as to the benefits that had come to education from rehousing schemes, and the improvement in intelligence and attainment of those who have come from slum property to rehousing schemes, till they were coming up to the level of those who had better conditions. In a report issued in 1936 by Mr. A. J. Belford, M.A., F.E.I.S., convener of the research committee of the Glasgow Local Association of the Educational Institute of Scotland, there are described tests in spelling and reading in or near the qualifying stage, and they reveal that the percentage of successes or failures depended to a large extent on the social grade of the school. A survey of reading ability undertaken by Dr. Charlotte M. Fleming who tested a representative sample of 4,000 Glasgow children proved that the difference in reading ability measured by her tests were correlated to a positive degree with social status.
The report of Mr. Belford indicates, that assistance was given in the undertaking of the tests in arithmetic by Headmasters and teachers of the qualifying classes in 48 schools. In addition 14 specially qualified classes were examined. About 3,400 boys and girls sat for the examination. In determining the social grade of any school the research committee was guided by these factors: (a) whether the school was a fee-paying one or not; (b) the density of the population of the wards of the City; (c) the infantile mortality rate of each such district; (d) the general death rate of the ward; (e) the percentage of one and two roomed houses in the ward's housing accommodation; and (f) the percentage of the school roll of children reported as necessitous—i.e. requiring food or clothing. There were five groups graded A to E, and tables prepared showing results of the test showed a descending average per pupil of sums correct from group A to group E; and a corresponding ascending average of sums wrong, or work unfinished in the tabulated groups. Special attention was given to new housing areas, and on this the report says that the highest return from any class in Glasgow was obtained from a school in a new housing area, classified 824 as grade B. The general summary of this report is given in these words:It is evident that it is impossible to ask corresponding classes in different schools to reach a common standard of attainment so long as there exists intellectual differences as measured by intelligence tests, and sociological inequalities, as evidenced by poverty, bad housing and malnutrition.Equally striking is the report of Dr. James Steel, Headmaster of Allan Glen's School, Glasgow, as published by the Qualifying Examination Board in Glasgow, on behalf of the Scottish National Council for Research. It deals especially with the testing of pupils at the quality stage in English composition and English comprehension, as also in arithmetic. The schools are grouped according to environment and necessity, and the results in attainment tabulated in an ascending scale accordingly. The total number of pupils of qualifying age was 16,461, so that the examination was on a very wide range. The general conclusion here is:For any school, average attainment both in English and in arithmetic at the qualifying stage is dependant on the average necessity of the school. As percentage necessity increases, attainment decreases, but at high percentage necessities appears to reach a minimum level.In this report by Dr. Steel, special attention is given to housing conditions. Wards were arranged into six groups in ascending order according to the average number of persons per room. The result was as follows:An examination of Table 10 shows that there is undoubtedly a definite relationship between housing and educational attainment. … Attainment in English and arithmetic at the qualifying stage is related to housing conditions, better housing conditions being associated with higher attainment.The third reason I give is the moral uplift that better housing will bring. May I here quote one sentence from Dr. Russell's classic "Life in one Room"?:You grown-up daughters, with your bedrooms and your bathrooms, your piano and your drawing room, your little brothers and sisters to toy with when you have a mind to, and send out of the way when you cannot be troubled, your every want supplied without sharing in menial household work, your society regulated, and no rude rabble of lodgers to sully the purity of your surroundings, how could you live and preserve 'the white flower of a blameless life' in one room?The old idea was that people got the house they deserved, that they were physically and mentally of inferior stock, naturally drifting to a cheaper and dirtier type of 825 house, and that the best one could do was to put them under some measure of control and supervision. That idea found expression in black and white in the Minority Report of the Housing Commission to which I have referred. It so happened that I was asked to write the reply to that, and if one may quote from oneself, I will take the liberty of reading what I wrote in answer to that kind of attitude and mood, as now recorded in the Commission's Report:The supposition that any large or considerable section of the people, denominated or stigmatised as 'the less disciplined class of the community,' must be held in tutelage and subjected to the custody of caretakers and supervisors, will be properly resented by those whom it is proposed to treat in this way. The minority seem to regard this section of the community as in large measure the architects of their own misfortunes, of a physically inferior stock, earning low wages, and drifting towards a cheaper and dirtier type of house because they are physically and mentally inferior. To us they are rather the victims of manifold social evils, of which bad housing is one of the greatest. Without in any way minimising or under-estimating the importance of character in the securing and maintenance of good housing, we maintain that the provision of better houses will be one of the best means of elevating the character and habits and taste of the people, and thereby of maintaining a much higher standard of household management. Several witnesses have testified that the provision of good housing has had this effect.I know that there is another side to the question. I know that you can have high education, fine character, noble lives, produced even in the worst housing conditions:Fair as a beauteous tender flower,Amid the desert grows.I know that men and women can rise above their environment, can break their birth's invidious bar, can breast the blows of circumstance, can grapple with their evil star, if indeed for such any star appears in their dark and dreary firmament. But what of the multitudes that are dragged down by wretched housing conditions? People show you, rightly, as a thing to be proud of, the houses in which great men were born. They show you the birthplace of David Livingstone, who was born and brought up in a single-apartment house. But they tell you nothing of the mute, inglorious Livingstones who, because of wretched housing conditions, were strangled in their cradles. I know there is heroism in the slums. I know there is heroism in these home battles as much as in the battles of fields 826 afar, but my answer to all this would be to endorse the words of Revd. Dr. David Watson, in the evidence which he gave before the Royal Commission on Housing, when he said:I am familiar with 'the eternal heroism of the slums,' but it is a heroism that should be uncalled for from any man or woman in a civilised, not to say a professedly Christian, country.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
It would be not unfitting if I were to say a word of congratulation to the hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr), who might be described as the Grand Old Man of Scottish politics, on the conclusion of his 8oth year, and on the speech which he has prepared and delivered in this Debate. Among the many other services which he has done to his country, his services on the great Housing Commission from 1912–1917 will always be remembered in Scotland. The fact that all through that war until the critical year 1917 there was a Commission sitting and examining one of the great problems of Scotland and laying down plans on which we were able to proceed when the war came to an end, is, I think, a justification for some of the planning that is being done in these days, although, of course, all of it must be secondary to the winning of the war, without which none of the plans can come to fruition.
I do not want to speak at any length upon housing, although it is the preeminent problem of Scotland, but it has been dealt with very thoroughly by hon. Members who have spoken already, particularly the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn). However, no Debate can take place on Scottish affairs without our again hammering in the enormous and fundamental importance of that problem, and the call which it will make, as the Secretary of State said, for the services of all men of good will, both now and immediately the war is over. The problems of supply, of labour, of land, of capital—all these will require a great deal of give and take, and speaking as one who was for a time responsible for Scottish affairs and for Scottish housing, a spirit of give and take is not always the most obvious of sentiments in Scotsmen when they get together to consider any problem, especially the problem of housing. It is rather tragic that our people, who gladly build great palaces 827 of ships and then see them float down the river and be lost to them for ever, who, when war breaks out, fling aside other preoccupations and hurl themselves into the production of munitions of war, throwing aside hours of labour, demarcation lines, many cherished things to which they have held for years as though they were the banners of the country, will not consider doing any of these things when it comes to a matter of housing themselves and keeping themselves and their wives and families in comfort. That is one of the points which undoubtedly the Secretary of State will need to consider very carefully with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, because I am sure that in all these matters, unless we are willing to go ahead immediately the war comes to an end, a very long period of misery and of overcrowding is in front of the people of our country.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals. The Division which I represent contains, as is agreed, many of the most festering spots in the City of Glasgow. No one could go around the slums of Glasgow in peace-time—and the Secretary of State has been around them—without being shocked and horrified by the things they saw—30 or 40 people to a single lavatory, a condition which not even Zulus would tolerate. One-third of the people in Scotland to-day do not possess a water-closet of their own, which is one of the social features it is impossible to bring home to the imagination of the ordinary person South of the Border. Therefore, I add my voice to the plea of the hon. Member for Gorbals that now, in the height of the war, the Secretary of State should not be weary in well-doing, and that he should do his utmost to secure that a certain amount of construction goes on, even under these conditions, because it is as truly war work as the production of lethal weapons with which we are now preoccupied.
The Debate is not limited to housing, but also covers health, and we were most interested to hear the review and survey which my right hon. Friend gave, all the more so because we were able to compare it with the review given by his right hon. Friend the Minister of Health for England. I think it may be said that vital statistics are better than many of us had 828 hoped; they are certainly better than we deserve. Cerebro-spinal fever, for instance, is a very troublesome disease. It is a disease which requires close watching, because there is always a tendency for it to flare up; it growls along for a certain time, and then suddenly blazes into a bright flame when there is tinder lying about, and tinder is certainly lying about in the overcrowded slums of many of our great cities. The diphtheria figures were of the greatest interest. I understand that my right hon. Friend who is responsible for affairs South of the Border pointed out how very much better we had been able to deal with diphtheria in Scotland than in England. The figures show that roughly one out of a thousand have died among those who have been immunised, and 427 out of 7,000 among the non-immunised. About 15 times as many children have died among the non-immunised compared with the immunised. It is a significant figure, because it enables one to begin to draw deductions. I think it is clear that in Scotland, at any rate, the experiment of immunisation has been crowned with great success. It is an experiment which on results we can confidently recommend to mothers who, after all, are the people we have finally to convince.
In regard to tuberculosis, my right hon. Friend stuck very strictly to the figures of notification. His right hon. Friend, the Minister of Health, who preceded him in his present office, in presenting the picture recently, by producing a number of figures showed a state of affairs which commended itself more to the Committee on that occasion than perhaps would have been the case if he had stuck to the figures of notification. The fact is that the curve is moving against us. We have to face it and face it resolutely; the more resolutely we face it, the better we shall be able to deal with it. Although my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland said he was unable to deal with the subject of nursing, I wonder if the Under-Secretary, when replying, will give us some information about the supply of nurses for fever and tuberculosis hospitals. Perhaps he can tell us now whether there is a shortage of nurses for tuberculosis hospitals.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
Definitely, so far as nurses are concerned, in all spheres connected with hospital work.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
That is also the information which I have. While I agree that compulsion would bring difficulties, perhaps as great as the difficulties which it would solve, I commend this suggestion to my right hon. Friend: Would it not be possible, at any rate during the war, to provide some distinction for those willing to volunteer for all nursing service under any conditions? We know that in war-time people are very proud to wear an armlet, a badge or some little decoration or other. Suppose you gave the Lion Rampant of Scotland to any certified nurse who stated she was willing to serve anywhere under any conditions in any hospital, whether it be a fever, tuberculosis, or general hospital.
§ Mrs. Hardie (Glasgow, Springburn)
Does not the right hon. and gallant Gentleman think that an improvement in the wages and the conditions of nurses would do more to get women into the profession that offering them a badge?
Mr. McNeil (Greenock)
I am rather puzzled by the reply. When the Under-Secretary tells us there is a grave shortage of nurses, is he including the nurses who are standing by—those who are in reserve and not now being used?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I think myself there is a shortage, but it is rather a pocketed and compartmented shortage. If you take the gross number of beds in Scotland and the gross number of nurses and reserve nurses and add them up, you will find we have enough nurses. I do not disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn (Mrs. Hardie) as to the necessity for improving wages and conditions, but it is a question of dealing with this matter now. It is not a question of drafting into the nursing service girls who will not be qualified for a long time. The Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland said, when the question of the E.M.S. was raised, that girls would not be asked to serve in tuberculosis hospitals. That is a pledge which cannot be broken, but I think an invitation might be extended to see whether girls would be willing to release the Government from that pledge and work and serve anywhere. The point was raised in the English Debate as to Wales, and it was brought out clearly that there was a shortage of Welsh girls 830 to nurse Welsh sick in Welsh sanatoria, but that there were enough nurses to staff all the beds.
Tuberculosis is a disease about which people feel a certain amount of uneasiness, although statistics do not bear it out. The rate for contracting tuberculosis in sanatoria is not in general as great as the rate for contracting tuberculosis in ordinary hospitals, because greater attention is given to the subject. But any of us who have had anything to do with medicine knows that the first time one goes to a tuberculosis dispensary, looks through the window and sees the patients, and then opens the door and is met with a stream of coughing as heavy as a storm in the Western Hebrides, how uneasy one feels. The fact is that tuberculosis is a disease which everyone regards with great fear, but I say that in time of war it is one of the forms of service which we might not unreasonably ask the younger generation of women to accept, especially when we remember the greater risks which are being taken by some of our young men.
Health statistics for children were, on the whole, encouraging. Reference was made to the improvement of the condition of the intake in the Glasgow schools, which seems to me to be significant. It was suggested that it is connected with the scheme of milk for mothers and children. If so, it is very significant because that scheme has not been going on for very long. Yet it has already apparently reflected itself in the health of the children, or at any rate in the increased weight and height of the children. On this question, although I would go all the way with hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have stressed the importance of housing, the fact remains that no alterations on housing can affect the health of Scotland to a major degree this coming winter, or the winter after that. We have to concentrate upon the immediate problems before us, which brings me to the two points made by my right hon. Friend—warmth and food. Warmth is, of course, of great importance, especially in our country of Scotland, if only because ventilation is bound up with it. If you have a room which cannot be adequately warmed, the temptation to stop up all apertures and prevent fresh air getting in is much greater than if you have reasonably warm conditions. The Secre- 831 tary of State said that the rationing of fuel was outside his immediate ambit, but there is another aspect of the fuel problem to which I should like to ask him to give his attention. That is the outcrop coal, which is now being worked in England and is being explored in Scotland. My information is that a much smaller number of sites have been located and less work is going on——
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Price)
I must call the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to the fact that mining is outside the scope of the Vote.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I can only refer to it incidentally, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to get into the closest possible touch with the Minister of Fuel and Power and to do his utmost to see that sources such as this are exploited to the full as much as they are in England. It is almost impossible to keep consideration of the grate away from consideration of the dinner table. These are the two pillars upon which the home stands—the fire in the grate and food on the table—and you cannot consider one without also considering the other. With regard to food, the right hon. Gentleman himself said that the figures seemed to show a satisfactory result. If the health of the children has been improved by milk, an adequate supply of milk, especially in the times we are now in, becomes of the greatest importance. With milk you can make porridge an almost ideal food, but I would utter the strongest protest against those who put sugar on it or, still worse, spread treacle upon it. Of all the ways of making a wholesome dish into a mess of poison the spreading of treacle or golden syrup upon porridge is the surest way to do it to injure health, especially of the younger generation. There is a great surplus of oats, and, if we can have oats and milk, it is surprising how good and solid a race you can rear upon it. When I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Coatbridge and reflected that he was reared before any of these social services, of which he was so proud, had come into existence, I wondered whether, 80 years hence, some of the children who enjoy all these benefits now will be able to get up and make as good a speech as he did.
I hope the Debate will not terminate without mind as well as body being 832 brought into review. I am against attaching too much importance to mind, but a passing reference to education in a Debate on children would not be wholly out of place. Yet the immediate difficulties before us, I say again, are the difficulties on which we shall have to concentrate. The provision of nourishing food for the people has given results which have exceeded our most hopeful expectations. But there are great immediate problems with which we have still to grapple. The problem of infestation, which has shown itself during the war, is much graver than any of us had believed—louse infestation and scabies. I am not quite sure whether the development mentioned in the report of the Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow of using decontamination and the A.R.P. services for baths and cleaning of one kind and another is being pressed to the full. I think that more might possibly be done along those lines. Washing, after all, is one of the oldest remedies, and a plentiful supply of soap and water will do a great deal towards getting rid of this most distressing and disgraceful condition to which war conditions have condemned so many of our population. But we have to deal with the facts as we find them. Vaccinate for smallpox in Glasgow, immunise for diphtheria, produce more fuel, distribute the fuel as equitably as possible. Then the abolition of waiting lists to the hospitals—a great achievement—long-distance planning for housing—all those are things which bode well for the future of Scotland. Meanwhile, it will require the utmost energy and good will of everyone of us to see that we come through these frightful times with as little damage to the population as possible. This afternoon the Secretary of State has sketched out a programme on which we may be well satisfied to give him his Estimate.
§ Sir Samuel Chapman (Edinburgh, South)
The Secretary of State uttered a very pregnant sentence or two with regard to the coming winter, and I rise to ask him; with all the emphasis I can, to carry out to the utmost of his power the policy that he had in mind when he spoke of the provision of warmth in view of the shortage of the ordinary fuel which everyone is burning now. When Disraeli was first advocating the great social reforms which he carried out, he said that pure air, pure water and pure food were the chief essentials for good health. He 833 never thought of warmth. In these days we must have warmth, and I was delighted to hear the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) speaking on those lines. Health is very cheap, and disease is very expensive. In my experience good health arises chiefly from keeping oneself warm by outdoor exercise, but not everybody can do that, and some have to sit by their firesides. If firesides are not properly lit, it leads to a great deal of trouble. I am not talking from second-hand information but from firsthand experience when I say that I have seen lying about in the South of England, during something like 300 miles of tramps that I have made through the woods, sufficient fuel lying about to supply the greater portion of the shortage that may be caused by the want of coal.
I may be pulled up by the Chair, and I will not go on, but I want to stake a claim for having said beforehand that I am not forgetting what is likely to happen in the winter. In the Debate last week the Government were asked why they did not provide the right kind of munitions at the right time. I now suggest before it is too late that we should now start gathering wood for the winter and filling garages and coal cellars with wood. Then the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say that he for one and some of us in the House of Commons did not forget the necessity which is rapping at our doors. There is not a moment to lose; for July, August and September are the time to get more fuel for the household. If we do it now, we shall not only burke much political and social grumbling, but perhaps avert a political crisis of the first magnitude.
§ Mr. Garro Jones (Aberdeen, North)
A few weeks ago I addressed a Question to my right hon Friend asking him whether he was aware that Aberdeen was the only city in Scotland where secondary education was conducted on a half-time basis. It will take me only a few minutes to elaborate and explain that fact to the right hon. Gentleman and to make a plea to him to bring it to an end at the earliest possible moment. In England in 834 March, 1941, 96.5 per cent. of the children were receiving full-time education. In March; 1942, the figure was 99 per cent. In Aberdeen 66 per cent. of children are receiving full-time education and in the senior secondary schools only 51 per cent. If this were a necessity of war conditions, no one could complain, but because of my belief that it is due to an administrative failure, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to intervene to bring it to an end. The situation arose in this way. On the outbreak of war the military authorities took over a large hospital which is occupied by the aged poor. In looking for another place for them, they took over the largest central school in the centre of Aberdeen. They turned out the central school and compelled it to obtain the whole of its education in the grammar school of Aberdeen, so that the present position is that in a school which was designed to educate 700 children there are now 1,500 children being educated.
I recognise that we must treat the old people with gentle kindness. It is our desire and their right, but I know that they themselves feel the embarrassment of the position under which they are depriving 50 per cent. of the youth of Aberdeen of full-time secondary education. Moreover, the centre of a seaport, even looking at it from the point of view of the old folk, is not a suitable place to house infirm and old people at the present time. There have been many bomb raids on Aberdeen, and it is only due to the blessing of Providence that a bomb has not fallen on this building. Of all the people who should be removed out of the immediate danger zone, the old and infirm are entitled to an early priority. I recognise that it may be a little inconvenient for their relatives to visit them, but nevertheless, on balance of advantage, I suggest that it would be better to remove them 10 miles out of the city. That was proposed in the early stages of the war but was rejected on the illogical ground that the place to which it was proposed to remove them was within 10 miles of the coast, for the city is not only within 10 miles of the coast but is a military target. I could give the right hon. Gentleman alternative accommodation for these old people. I do not propose to do so, because I realise that in the acquisition of premises it is best to act without notice.
§ Mr. Johnston
I will be obliged if my hon. Friend will give me that list of alternative accommodation privately. This has been a matter of some concern to us, and we have had joint consultations about it, but if he can give me privately suitable alternative accommodation, I will be greatly obliged to him.
§ Mr. Garro Jones
I will give the information to the right hon. Gentleman privately, but I give it with the caution that if it is to be referred to people who rejected the other proposal, he should himself adjudicate upon the matter. We all know, when we are searching for some remedy or some proposal, or some name or title, how easy it is for the critic to say he does not like this or that, but when he is asked to produce something better he is seldom able to do so. Aberdeen has been a city of learning for 1,000 years. The right hon. Gentleman has made great contributions himself to the social life of Scotland, and it is intolerable that in this city, for no valid reason, the youth should not have laid upon them a burden that will follow them to the end of their days. It affects not only the ordinary academic education, but such matters as health, for the school building is occupied from morning till night and is inadequately ventilated and cleaned; the chemical and physical laboratories are unable to be used for continuous experiments; the scientific side of the education is being crippled; and the scriptural education, to which some of us still attach a good deal of importance, has entirely been brought to an end in that school. And so, speaking in the name of 1,500 children in my constituency, and of their parents, and on behalf of the constituency as a whole, I, with respect, demand that the right hon. Gentleman should take immediate action to bring this unnecessary state of affairs to an end.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I will not detain the Committee by recounting further details of the housing position in Scotland, but I think I may make this observation. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has painted a picture of his constituency, with which I am familiar, but the unfortunate thing is that Gorbals is not the only place that fits in to that background. That portion of Glasgow is the product of the industrial revolution. One thing I should like this Committee to understand is that it is not 836 as simple to deal with what is known as dual occupancy as hon. Members would have one believe. For a number of years it has been my responsibility to deal with this problem for the whole city of Glasgow. At the moment I am convener of the committee called upon to adjudicate upon the rival claims of dual occupants. What is the position? The moment you start to trace back the movements of these unfortunate people you find you can provide accommodation for them only if you are prepared to cast aside persons with perfectly legitimate claims who have been on a waiting list for a considerable number of years. Most of the dual occupants are not even on the list of applicants. Not only in the constituency of the hon. Member for Gorbals but in the whole of the East End of Glasgow—more so than in the West—you can provide accommodation from a rather scanty supply, only if you are prepared to step over persons already on the waiting list, and according to my latest information the waiting list in Glasgow numbers 46,000.
After that no one can have any doubt as to the magnitude of this problem, and I firmly hope that the Government will not be pushed into flashy expedients to get out of the difficulty. I am willing to concede that improvisation must take place, and I have much sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn). I think something can be done in anticipation, but what is essential in any comprehensive housing policy is that there must be continuity of policy. We must not have successive Ministers jumping from one leg to the other. Since 1919 we have had 11 Housing Acts in Scotland. If my right hon. Friend could tell us what happened to the Housing (Rural Workers) Act, 1931. I should be happy. I was a member of a committee appointed to allocate the subsidies. It was the first attempt which had been made to relieve the countryside of the tied cottage system, under which the labourer was tied to his employer—though I see we are still reconditioning old and dilapidated property in rural areas. As a member of the advisory committee appointed to allocate subsidies, I do not think we received a notification from the Department thanking us for our services or telling us that the Act had ended. There was a programme of 4,000 houses projected and subsidies were allocated for about 1,000, and we were given 837 our discharge cards without even the necessary polite notice. I should like to hear something about that in the right hon. Gentleman's reply.
The Addison Act of 1919, if I may say so without offence, betrayed the colossal ignorance of those who controlled local authorities, as to the advantages which were to be gained from it. What local authority would not start building all the houses they could get now if the local contribution was confined to the product of four-fifths of a penny rate? There was an Act of Parliament designed to provide houses and to apportion to the State its responsibility, but all that happened was that some authorities succeeded in starting the fortunes of future building trade millionaires, two of whom ultimately financed a political party in Scotland—and were duly rewarded—to send "phoney" Members to this House representing a body that does not exist. But the 1919 Act passed away, and we had the Acts of 1921 and 1922 and other Acts right up to the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1938. If I may offer a criticism I would say it is of no use to provide housing legislation and no use to have continuity of policy in that legislation, unless you stabilise the conditions in the industry to which the legislation applies. In passing, may I congratulate the Department of the Secretary of State on "carrying its bat" against the Ministry of Works and Planning? I do not know who is the head of that Ministry—some people say it is the Paymaster-General and others that it is Lord Portal, but in any case it has made a substantial contribution, in advance, to the solution of the problem.
Mr. McKie (Galloway)
About two minutes ago the hon. Member alluded to the financing of certain "phoney" candidates for Parliament by a party which does not exist. May I ask whether it would not be advisable if the hon. Member gave us some more specific information?
§ Mr. McKinlay
I did not say "phoney candidates," I said "a phoney party." The hon. Members' credentials are perfect; but one is an hon. baronet and the other is only a common or garden knight, and if one knows anything about Scotland one does not need two guesses to know whom I mean. In any case the Ministry 838 of Works and Planning have made a substantial contribution to the post-war reconstruction of Scotland. They have sent out a circular indicating that on and after a certain date bricks in Scotland will be standardised and will measure 2⅞ inches as against the 3½ inch brick hitherto used in Scotland. Just watch this. Up to two months ago the Glasgow Corporation Housing Department had, since 1940, built houses and shelters which needed no fewer than 65,000,000 bricks. If the new standard of the Ministry of Works had been in operation we should have required an additional 13,000,000 bricks. With those 65,000,000 bricks we used 29,000 tons of cement and 110,000 tons of sand. In a four-apartment house, the cottage type, the brick content is at present 15,000 bricks but under the new standard it will be 18,000. The mortar content of such a house with the Scottish brick is 14 tons, but it jumps to 17 tons as a result of the brain wave of the Ministry. As a consequence of using those additional 13,000,000 bricks, we should require an additional 26,942 tons of mortar.
I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to put his accountants on to the figures. You can take it from me they are perfectly accurate. To use the 13,000,000 bricks there would be an addition of 23,330 additional man-days, taking the output of a bricklayer at 600 bricks a day. That is a conservative estimate. I do not know whether the Minister was responsible for it, but when we were getting 670 bricks a day from the bricklayers at one place in Glasgow, a new Order came out, putting those men on piece-work and fixing the datum at 320 bricks per day and so much per 100 after that. If that is the only contribution which the Ministry of Works and Planning can make, the Secretary of State can beat away for all he is worth. There is no division of opinion, irrespective of the party to which we belong, and we shall back him to the utmost. Before we proceed further, we must get from some responsible member of the Government—I am glad to see the Leader of the House present—information as to the functions of this rather important Ministry which has been created. That would place at rest many difficulties which confront Scottish Members at the present moment.
§ Mr. Johnston
Before the hon. Member departs from the story about the bricks, will he please make it clear that the Order to which he refers was never operated in Scotland?
§ Mr. McKinlay
Yes, Sir, I make it clear. I may blame you for a lot of things, but I do not want to blame you for that.
Is it in Order for the hon. Member to keep on addressing the Minister? Surely any question to the Department must be addressed through you, Mr. Price.
§ Mr. McKinlay
By way of a change I do not mind addressing the hon. Member, if it will in way placate him. If the Minister interrupts me, I am entitled to speak to him across the Floor of the Committee. We are all friends in this Committee.
§ Major Lloyd
Is not the hon. Member replying to the point of Order himself, instead of allowing you, Mr. Price, to do so?
§ The Temporary Chairman
It is the rule that hon. Members should address their remarks to the Chair.
I should not dream of interrupting the hon. Member if he had not done it a number of times.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I am sorry, but I am indebted to the hon. Member for having handed me that lecture on Parliamentary etiquette. It may be that my inexperience in public life was responsible for my indiscretion. I apologise. Every time a Government propose new housing legislation there is a loss of two years' time. One of the things which never could be understood in Scotland was why the 1924 Act subsidy was withdrawn before an adequate Act of Parliament was put in its place. I am not forgetful of the fact that there was an Act of 1933. That demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that the then Government did not know the magnitude of this problem. It was only because the Act of 1933 produced practically no houses that a committee, of which I had the privilege of being a member, was set up in a hurry. In consequence of the report of that committee, the Act of 1935 was placed on the Statute Book.
840 In the period between the withdrawal of the Wheatley subsidy and the passing of the Act of 1935, valuable time was lost. I believe that the purpose of withdrawing the Wheatley subsidy, under which the ordinary requirements of a community could be dealt with, was to drive persons who were in the category of ordinary tenants into the hands of the building societies. Immediately that subsidy was withdrawn, the private enterprisers who built houses for sale went full steam ahead. Thousands of innocent people were saddled with responsibility, the end of which they do not see even now. When the Government did that, they should have been decent enough to compel building societies to create a corps of competent building trade inspectors to see that the societies were not advancing their money on jerry-built houses. The position now is that the only supervision of any kind taking place is by local authorities to see that local regulations are complied with relating to damp courses, drains, the carcassing of houses, strength, and so on. In actual practice, unless a purchaser engages an inspector for himself, he may be paying for three coats of plaster work while only two coats' have been put on the walls. He may pay for something which is in the specification but is not in the building. The law should compel the societies to do this work, not only in their own interests but to safeguard the rights of borrowers who may be investing their life's savings in order to get a home of their own.
There are one or two weaknesses in the Acts of 1935 and 1938. Local authorities have no power to build houses for ordinary requirements—at least, that is the interpretation placed upon departmental circulars relating to the financial provisions of the Act of 1938. Thousands of the most undeserving types of persons are now being allocated houses while decent citizens who may not have the required unit density are passed over. In any projected legislation, I would ask the Secretary of State to keep in mind that this problem cannot be dealt with by a single comprehensive overcrowding Act, because overcrowding is only a part of the problem Slum clearance is only a part of it. Let nobody say that private enterprise can cope with the problem of the ordinary requirements of the people, in large areas such as we have in the West of Scotland.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I am talking about the West of Scotland, with which I am familiar, and I say that any subventions paid by the Government should be reflected in the quality of the houses provided and related to the rent being paid for those houses. That did not happen under the Housing Act after the last war. As a matter of fact——
§ Mr. Craven-Ellis
On a point of Order. I have been sitting here for several hours listening to this Debate with very great interest, because I take an interest in the housing problem, and I think I should protest when a Scottish Member tells an English Member that he has in fact no right in this Chamber at all.
§ Mr. Mathers
It will be observed that the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Craven-Ellis) made his observations without rising to his feet and seeking to address the Committee by asking the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) to give way.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I am sorry if I have been responsible for creating international trouble. I have no desire to do that at all. I am trying to indicate what happened after the last war. If any person cares to examine the housing revenue account of any local authority of any size, he will discover that the subvention paid by the Government and the contribution of the local ratepayers, when they did pay a contribution—and I think they should be compelled to do so—are such that even in Glasgow, if it were, not for the ordinary house subsidising the cheaper-rented house in respect of repairs 15 per cent. of the income would not meet the outgoings. In the case of one of the schemes I have in mind there is not a single original vestibule door left, and it was only completed in 1923; thousands of doors have had to be renewed. Here is another illustration. Where I live the city was badly bombed, and tenement property with sandstone front walls backed up with brick were damaged. The internal walls collapsed to such an extent that I myself, 842 as convenor of a committee, gathered about 14 lbs. of mortar and took it to the city analyst. Here is his report; the scheme was commenced in 1928 and completed in 1931:On the 15th inst. I received from you a sample of cement mortar. I understand this sample was obtained from an old building which had been damaged by enemy action.Imagine, an old building—it was completed in 1931.On analysis the sample was found to consist of one part cement and 13 parts of sand, each volume.That was criminal. When I received that report, I called for a report from the clerk of works responsible for that job. What did I find? I found that week in week out he had reported to his immediate superiors what the contractor was doing on the job, and if he had been more persistent he himself would have got the sack. The political interest was backing up the contractor on the job. The man who built the scheme is dead, and I hope he is resting in his grave; if it is any consolation for him, there are nearly two dozen people dead to-day who might have been alive if the mortar had been as specified, one in five instead of one in 13. I shudder to think what is going to happen in some of the other schemes if ever bomb damage brings to light what has been buried behind the front walls.
As a consequence I am appealing to the Government, in any projected legislation, first to see that there is continuity of policy and, in anticipation of projected legislation, to make their preparations now. Fifteen per cent. of the cost of any scheme would be saved if the roads and services were completed before the builders went on to the job. There is no reason why, when the war programme of construction is completed—and if it is ever to be of service to us it is about time it was completed—the roads and services should not be developed in anticipation. If that is not done, we shall be overwhelmed. There are tens of thousands of young married soldiers whose wives are either on munitions or other war work, and who at the moment have dual occupancies. If they come back and wait as long as they had to do after the last war, the more fools they. If there is one operation in connection with a housing scheme which does not require much material and on which the labour employed can be labour unfit for military 843 service, it is on the engineering side, preparing the roads and sewers.
In my own division, in one area there is 48 per cent. overcrowding, yet we found during the blitz that we had to send people to stay even in such an overcrowded area. Some of the local authorities in Scotland are wiser than they were 20 years ago, with the possible exception of one rather antique organisation to which I will not refer. They have submitted their proposals to the Secretary of State and I hope he will analyse them very carefully. I do not want to mention the organisation, but its antiquity is undoubted, although its usefulness is rather doubtful. I appeal to the Secretary of State to anticipate the magnitude of this problem. If it came to a question of giving the House harrowing details, with the files of the biggest housing authority in Britain at my disposal I could give reams of them. I sat for hours analysing them. The crux of the whole problem is that there is not a sufficiency of houses to deal with overcrowding, slum clearance or ordinary requirements, all because, in the years following the last war, politicians tinkered and played with this problem without understanding it until the year 1934. Between 1934 and the outbreak of this war they tried to make up lost ground, and solve a problem which was the outcome of 100 years of neglect.
I ask the Secretary of State to pay little heed to those who advocate the reconditioning of old property unless they are prepared to transfer that property to the local authority at a reasonable valuation. If those people had made provision from their incomings for obsolescence, as other people do in nearly every line of business, they would not require to come cap in hand to ask assistance from the State to bring their properties up to date. What has happened? One of my hon. Friends talked about John Bright. As a matter of fact some of the houses which it is suggested should be reconditioned were built before John Bright was born, and these people have been drawing rents from those houses, on and on and on—I do not want to say "up and up and up," in case the Committee might think I am trying to follow in the footsteps of a well-known statesman. Successive generations of owners, from father to son, from son to daughter, from daughter to grandson, have failed to make provision from 844 revenue, for the obsolescence of the property. Well I know the financial basis of tenement building in Glasgow. It was to pay off the annual cost in 14 years. The rents were fixed on that basis and if the rent was so fixed long before any Rent Restriction Act became operative, the capital cost had been wiped out years before it became law.
Personally I would recondition suitable buildings, always provided they were under the control of the local authority. If they are not under the control of the local authority, and you spend public money reconditioning property on behalf of an interest over which you have no control, my view is that you may be doing something to intensify our overcrowding problem in the future. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has a very difficult job, and Secretaries of State for Scotland have had a notorious habit of never lasting in office more than 2½ years. That has been the average, with one exception, since the last war. I wish the Secretary of State well in tackling his difficulties. I hope that if he is personally responsible for drafting housing legislation he will see that such a Measure will make provision for all deserving elements in the community. It should not be the deliberate design of Parliament, even supposing that building societies are overloaded with money, deliberately to drive people into their arms.
I urge the Secretary of State to take steps to safeguard the industry. I give one example to show that it is not difficult to do something if you want to do it. The guaranteed week for building trade workers is supposed to be a terribly difficult problem. It was an innovation under the Essential Work Order. The Glasgow Corporation have been paying a guaranteed week to the workers—contractors and men alike—so long as they were building houses, since 1935. Far from being difficult, it has proved to be the cheapest method of retaining workmen in one's employment. The cost of the wages bill, spread over the activities of the corporation in house-building alone, was less than one penny per hour on the wages of the men. There is nothing difficult about it. It is not necessary to bring in accountants and actuaries. It is not necessary to have it analysed and brought to decimal points. If you plus a scheduled priced job by two per cent. for contingencies covering "wet time" I am 845 satisfied it would meet the cost. I conclude by asking the Secretary of State to make provision for controlling the head of labour necessary, to make provision for continuity of employment. When you are needing thousands of houses do not have building trade workers placed in the position in which I myself was placed, of going home with 32s. wages at the end of the week because there had been rain, or snow, or because the weather was too dry, in other words, because there was too much frost. You must remove that element from the building trade worker's life. If the Secretary of State has the vision, I am satisfied that the Government can produce a comprehensive Housing Act and tackle this problem in the way it should be tackled, once and for all.
§ Mr. G. A. Morrison (Scottish Universities)
I wish to join with several previous speakers in congratulating my right hon. Friend on the interesting and on the whole hopeful statement he made, and I wish to thank him particularly for what he has done and is doing in extending the system of school meals. I know that this beneficent activity lies near his heart, and he must be glad to see it growing and flourishing. In the few minutes at my disposal I wish to speak of two things, the recent actions of certain local education authorities and the problem of the supply of teachers. I have good cause to know that for many years it has been felt by the leaders of the teaching profession and by the more enlightened administrators that it would be a tremendous gain to Scottish education if an end could be put to the irritation and waste of time caused by local bickerings over salary questions. With a view to this being settled nationally by collective bargaining, a National Joint Council was set up in 1938 with high hopes and with the blessing of the Scottish Education Department. This Council, on which local education authorities and teachers have equal representation, has no statutory powers to fix salaries, but it was hoped that ere long it would acquire the considerable prestige which the Burnham Committee enjoys in England, and that its decisions, particularly its unanimous decisions would be honoured by the constituent bodies, would be thereafter approved by the Education Department and would speedily become law.
846 I am sorry to say that in two very important matters which have arisen since the outbreak of war the unanimous decisions of this Joint Council have been flouted by most education authorities in Scotland. Some of these authorities have up to date disregarded the wise advice of my right hon. Friend. I refer to supplementing the pay of teachers on war service and the war bonus. With regard to supplementing war service pay, the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Council was that the example of the Government should be followed and the pay of teachers on war service made up to the amount of the civilian salary. Some authorities have done this; others have made up salaries in part. The percentage varies considerably over the country. Some have done very little. The same inequality has marked the operation of the nationally negotiated war bonus. This is not all. In many cases married women whose husbands are on service have returned to teaching. When this has happened many authorities—not all, I am glad to say—have immediately reduced the supplementary allowance to the serving man. The amount of the reduction varies very much. I know one case where a lady who returned to teaching finds that, all things considered, she is working at a remuneration of 13s. 6d. a week, a sum insufficient to cover the extra expense she incurs on bus fares and meals away from home.
May I point out that the teacher on service is here penalised as compared with the exempted man? An exempted teacher and his wife who returns to teaching both draw, full salaries. Also the lower ranks are penalised as compared with senior officers. If an officer's pay is equal to or greater than his civilian pay, his wife may return to teaching without reduction of salary. It is the privates, N.C.Os. and junior officers who have their allowances cut. Again, married women returning to teaching are frequently offered lower salaries than they formerly enjoyed. Several cases of reduction from £300 to £200 have been mentioned to me. The extreme case brought to my notice is that of a young lady teacher who got married. She was absent only one week-end, but she found on returning that she was in a new category, and that a considerable reduction was made in her salary.
§ Mr. Morrison
The serious thing is that in some cases this will affect the woman's pension so that she will have to suffer all the rest of her life. These examples of meanness are bad enough in themselves and sufficiently provocative of irritation, but the march of events has suddenly made things much worse Owing to the serious shortage of teachers entering in the course of the last few years the Education Department has been obliged to ration the supply of newly trained teachers, and has suggested what amounts to a ban on the recruiting of more experienced teachers by local authorities hard hit in the matter of supply. Hitherto it has been possible for a teacher dissatisfied with his or her conditions to apply for another area, but in this new system the teaching profession will be so to speak frozen in its present areas. This will increase irritation, and indeed inequality will now pass into injustice.
The situation revealed in the recent speech of the Chairman of the National Committee for the Training of Teachers may well cause concern and even alarm. The total number of entrants to the profession, all categories included, has fallen from 1,524 in 1930 to 728 last year. The number of non-graduate entrants has risen from 232 in J932 to 378 in 1940. There has been a serious decline in the number of graduate entrants, from 902 in 1930 to 308 last year, a drop of 66 per cent. The most alarming decrease is in the honours graduate group, where from the peak figure of 280 in 1932 there has been a decline to 55, a decrease of over 80 per cent. Consider this in relation to future developments in education. Where are we to find the number of teachers required for the raising of the school-leaving age or the reduction of the size of classes, both long overdue reforms? It means that unless something can be done and done at once, the reforms for which we have fought and reforms which we are busily planning must go by the board. Even allowing for the diversion due to war exigencies, I cannot help thinking that part of the cause is found in the unsatisfactory conditions of service, such as those to which I have referred. Unless my right hon. Friend can think 848 of a better answer than that which he gave yesterday, that he has no power to intervene, I must warn him that I can see trouble ahead.
May I make one more appeal on behalf of the retired teachers living on pension? They have had no war bonus. In particular, I refer to the group that we know as pre-1919s. Think for a moment what must be the age of the survivors. If they were 65 in 1919, they must be 88 years of age now, and I am informed that 137 were still alive in May of this year. These were the people who had had a lifetime on low salaries and had little opportunity of saving. I know that something was done for them in 1919 and again in 1925, but the pensions are still far below those of teachers who were lucky enough to retire after 1919. I cannot think that any education authority would grudge the small sum that this would cost, if it were taken out of the Education Fund. Will the right hon. Gentleman please look into that question again?
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I have listened to most of this Debate, and I was greatly impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn), who did service to the Committee in his presentation of the problem of housing. I was somewhat depressed as I listened to the Secretary of State for Scotland making his review. He did not seem to be very hopeful from the point of view of the things that are needful in Scotland. I would ask him what has happened to his Council of State. How often has it met, or are there regular meetings of this Council of ex-Secretaries of State for Scotland? I would suggest with regard to our general Scottish administration that just as he thought it possible to set up the Council of State, it might be worth his while also to appoint all the Scottish Members as an advisory committee and have regular meetings when the Imperial Parliament is not sitting, at which the members of the Council of State might give some report and we would be able to make a survey of Scottish needs and problems much more fully than we are able to do in this Parliament, which is burdened With so many questions. I hope that the Secretary of State, in view of his own past history, will consider the possibilities in that respect. We have had the experience of being invited to meet in Edinburgh and have a look at 849 the St. Andrew's building, and we also ought to have a meeting down here to meet some of the principal officers and possibly to put questions to them. We might be allotted probably one question for every four Members in the time that is available. The procedure would be very useful with regard to the needs of Scotland in the future. I am putting this suggestion as a serious proposition. All Scottish Members should be appointed as an advisory committee and should meet and receive reports on the work of the various Departments and have an opportunity of putting forward proposals for the better government of Scotland.
I now wish to deal with the two questions that I have particularly in mind, both of which have been discussed to some extent to-day. The constituency that I represent is one in which there is a fearful lot of bad housing. During the last few months scarcely a week has passed when I have not sent a question relating to some constituents of mine who are living under the most dreadful housing conditions. The Secretary of State knows that I am constantly putting these cases before him for his attention, and it is only fair to say that, when I bring a case to his attention in that way, he certainly looks into it very thoroughly, gets into touch with the corporation and does what he can within his limited power in order to press the urgency of the case. I have no complaint whatever to make about the way in which the Secretary of State has handled it within the limited powers he possesses. I had a case the other week concerning nine or ten people, a mixed family, including many adults, who were living in a single apartment, with no possibility of anything being done for them. Even though there is a war on, something more than is being done now must be done in Scotland in connection with this housing problem. The Secretary of State pointed out that an exception had been made in our favour in that houses partially completed had been allowed to be completed by the provision of the necessary labour force for the work. Well, what has happened to the labour force that completed 27,000 houses? Was it not possible for that force to continue with the provision of houses now, in spite of the urgencies of the war? It is absolutely imperative that something should be done to help ameliorate, in some little degree, at least, the dreadful conditions under 850 which so many of our people are living to-day.
When I heard about the threat of a big smallpox epidemic, my blood ran cold when I thought of the housing conditions in many parts of Glasgow and the possibility of the epidemic turning into an absolutely devouring plague. I have not the confidence of so many other Members in vaccination; something much more than that is needed, and I hope we shall have some promise from the Government that building labour and material will be put at the disposal of the local authorities, in Scotland for the provision of houses. When the Under-Secretary replies I would like him kindly to tell us something about the demarcation of power between the Ministry of Works and Planning and the Scottish Office with regard to building schemes. This Ministry has been set up, but most of its power is negligible. It has spread across the Border and has separate offices in Edinburgh. What is the relationship between the two Departments? The Minister, in making his review, asked that we should set this rabbit going. I do not think it is a rabbit. I think it is a matter of very great importance, because we have found by means of Questions in the House that while there still seems to be some technical power left to the Scottish Office, its practical power has been taken away and is under the control of the Ministry of Works and Planning. Much of our bad condition in Scotland to-day is due to the fact that so much of the power to deal with Scottish affairs has been filched from us and has come from over the Border. In fact, as one of my hon. Friends has said:It's o'er the Border and awa'.Therefore, I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to give us some clear indication of the demarcation between his Department and this Ministry and will say whether the Scottish Office will be able to demand labour and material to enable local authorities to carry out the schemes for housing that ought to be carried out.
The next question I want to deal with is the problem of the supply of teachers in Scotland. It is a very serious problem A large part of Scotland has become slum country, but I remember that in days gone by we were able to lead England in many respects in educational matters.
§ Mr. Stephen
I have some knowledge of education and educational development, and I think there was a substratum of truth in the assertion that the general educational standard in. Scotland was higher than in England. I beg leave to doubt whether we have not lost altogether the lead we had in education. As I look to the future, I become more and more perturbed when I realise that at the end of the war we shall be faced with a tremendous shortage of teachers in Scotland. Members have been talking about what we must do at the end of the war, about the new development in regard to education and what we must do for the new generation, yet here we are allowing our teaching supply to fall off in a most dreadful fashion. What steps will be taken by the Scottish Office to deal with this very pertinent problem? One of the causes of the present situation is that in recent years the tendency of the Government has been to make light of the teaching profession with regard to their conditions of service. Anything they received had to be wrung out of the Administration. If we are to have a properly qualified and highly trained teaching profession, we must make the conditions of employment within the profession decent, so that it will compare favourably with the sister professions, the ministry, the medical profession, and the legal profession. At the present time teaching is the Cinderella of the professions. If even half of what we are being told about the brave new world, the wonderful new era, we are to have at the end of the war, is true, then in Scotland we shall be left very far behind unless the Scottish Education Department take steps now to build up the supply of highly qualified teachers.
I am interested in the Secretary of State's endeavour to improve conditions in Scottish schools in regard to the feeding of the children, but I have in my hand two documents, one relating to England and the other to Scotland, showing the percentage of school children receiving milk and meals in the area of each education authority. With regard to meals in Scotland I notice that the figures are: dinner, 8.2 per cent.; lunches, 11 per cent.; soup meals, 1.7 per cent.; whereas in England the overall percentages for school meals are: 852 elementary schools, 11.5; secondary schools, 32.2. This comparison shows Scotland to be in a very unfavourable position, and if the bulk of the expenditure is provided by the national Exchequer, it means that once again in Scotland we are in an inferior position proportionately to England. I know that I have to give the Secretary of State credit for the fact that he has been making this matter one of urgency and trying to get improvements. I suggest to him that he might find it worth while to deal more firmly with the local authorities. Just as one hon. Member wants the Secretary of State to deal more firmly with them in order to make them honour the decisions of the National Joint Committee, so I think he must deal firmly with them to make them realise that there are supervisory authorities in the House of Commons and in the Scottish Department which have to be taken into account, and that if the local authorities will not do the job which they ought to do, it will done by the Department. Certainly, there must be a big advance made in this respect.
As I look to the future, I feel a large amount of hesitancy. At the end of the last war, I remember that the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State and myself, together with some of our fellow Members who were taking part in the Socialist struggle, had great ideas concerning education. We very often spoke about the advances that there would be, with the children finishing their term in the secondary schools and then going on a trip round the world. There was all that shipping available at the end of the last war, and educationists were all talking about the possibilities of running educational tours for the children of this country so that they might see the world and broaden their outlook by visiting other lands. Nothing came of all that. I hope that on this occasion the Scottish Education Department will have in view the need to give the children an opportunity of a full education which will mean that not only will they pass through the schools, but will have in their homes an atmosphere of comfort and peace, and will have an opportunity of visiting the beauty spots of their own land, and, before their education is considered to be complete, an opportunity of visiting other lands and realising how wonderful a place is the world in which we live. Certainly, 853 I feel somewhat pessimistic after the review that we have heard, but I hope that, as a result of the Debate, Ministers will feel that they have behind them the support of all the Scottish Members in any big movement forward which they may make to solve the problem of housing in Scotland and also to put Scottish children once again in a position of having an education which will enable them to enjoy the fullness of life in the days of their manhood and womanhood.
§ Major Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
I shall not detain the Committee for long, and I trust hon. Members will accept my apologies if not in accordance with usual custom, I leave the Committee at the conclusion of my remarks, but I have another engagement. I want only to say a few words about, and bring to the attention of the Committee and the Secretary of State, a matter in which I am particularly interested. My hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) said that the teaching profession is the Cinderella of the professions. There is another profession which I think is the Cinderella of the professions in connection with the health and hospital services, and that is nursing. My right hon. Friend made some admirable remarks concerning the most progressive policy and really splendid work which has been done in Scotland in connection with hospital development. We are all proud of it. But I think it would help the Secretary of State and the Department enormously if they paid still more attention to the pay and conditions of nurses in hospitals. Nurses are still grossly underpaid and are not receiving the attention or getting the conditions which they richly deserve. Many hospitals are short-staffed and there are great demands upon female labour. We are trying our very utmost to induce people to go into the nursing profession, but we are not offering them the necessary inducements. If the Secretary of State would use his great influence at any opportunity to press for better conditions, and above all, for better pay for the nursing profession in the Scottish hospitals, he would be doing a very great service not only to the nursing profession, but to the public health of Scotland.
I want to touch very briefly on housing. We are all beginning to think out and puzzle out the immense problems of postwar housing, and we all know what a 854 tremendous problem that will be for us in Scotland. I implore my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to do his utmost as much as possible to keep two things out in dealing with this problem. One, to some extent, is essential. Firstly, I do not want our post-war housing policy to be run too much by bureaucracy. I do not want my right hon. Friend to get into the grips of bureaucracy, which is becoming far too firmly established in Scotland. The second thing is to keep this great housing problem out of politics. For goodness sake, do not let us toss it to and fro on the platforms of Scotland as if it were a political problem. Let us realise its immense importance, and keep politics out.
I should like to see architects, who, I imagine, are not too busy at the moment, thinking out the housing problems in their own areas, and preparing memoranda for the Scottish Office. Each area in Scotland has its peculiar problems, and they cannot be settled in Edinburgh or in London. My right hon. Friend knows only too well how busy Scottish local authorities are to-day. They have an enormous number of activities imposed on them, by Government regulations, by Acts of Parliament and by war time difficulties, and they are very short of staff. Their staffs have not the same safeguards as the Whitehall bureaucrats, of whom far too many are reserved. Therefore, I feel that for many of our post-war problems, especially those in connection with housing, we should not depend too much during war years on local authority initiative and enterprise. I say "during war years" for the reason, which I think is reasonable, that they are already overloaded with too much work. If we want thought and consideration on this vital problem, then let us get those who have the time and are technically well qualified to consider it to make reports on their local areas to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
My right hon. Friend knows that for a considerable period many hon. Members have been deeply concerned over the large amount of part-time education which has been going on in Glasgow. Due to the earnest attention my right hon. Friend has given to the matter the position has improved, and I am grateful to him for it. For a long time the difficulty arose out of a particular regulation in connection with 855 shelters, but it is also due to another reason to which I should like to refer for a moment. Too many of our schools in Glasgow and elsewhere are being occupied by the military. It is not necessary, although it was necessary at the time when the emergency was greater, and we have had long enough time to bring sufficient pressure to bear on the military authorities to find other accommodation. Our patience should be exhausted in this matter, and I urge my right hon. Friend to make representations that Scottish Members are becoming a little intolerant with the way in which military authorities are hanging on, in most cases unnecessarily, to school buildings because they feel that possession is nine points of the law. I would go one step further, and say that the time has come when, in many cases, the Civil Defence authorities might be asked to consider why they have not, in all these long months, made preparations' for alternative accommodation for their various organisations, which are occupying far too many of our fine school buildings in Scotland, especially in the West. I ask my right hon. Friend to give his attention to that point. There was the necessity for this at one time, and we all understood it and did not take exception to it, but, after all these months, is it right and necessary that they should be occupying valuable space, and in many cases seriously interfering not only with the work of teachers, but with education in the schools themselves? I have done, and I am grateful to the Chair for allowing me these few minutes.
§ Mr. F. C. Watt (Edinburgh, Central)
I intend to speak for only five minutes, because I know there are other hon. Members who wish to take part in this Debate. In the first place, may I say that I learned with surprise and great pleasure of the record of housing? I wish to say how pleased I am that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has shown so much energy, courage and initiative in pushing on, under great difficulties, with this essential matter, at a time when it must have been well-nigh impossible to obtain supplies.
I should like to say a word or two on the subject of education. We in Scotland have always been proud of our education, and we have liked to flatter ourselves that 856 Scottish education is second to none. I am sorry to say that the other day someone from England had the temerity to suggest that English education was better than Scottish education Of course, as one gets older one does not know whether education is as good to-day as it was 20 years ago, but, while I would not concede that Scottish education is worse than English education, I am not sure there is not room for some improvement. I speak with personal knowledge of our ordinary Scottish education, having been at a parish School and a secondary school. My father was sent direct from a parish school to a university, or, in other words, the old parish schoolmasters were sufficiently competent to teach pupils to go straight to the university. They were very poorly paid, but they had the ability, and they did a good job of work. They were the foundation upon which our Scottish education was built. To-day we have turned Scottish education into a sort of Government Department, and teachers are almost a branch of the Civil Service. We pay someone a little extra because he is an M.A., a little more if he is an M.A. with honours, and a little more for each year's service. We are in danger, when endeavouring to give everyone a square deal, of not giving sufficient scope to individual ability. I am not here to put forward a remedy, but merely to make that suggestion. I should like very much to have the same type of man we had in the old days, who did a fine job but on a miserable pittance. If we could get him, we would have no fears about Scottish education.
No doubt the ambition of all educationists is to give everyone a fair chance. Scottish education fits people for certain professions, but there are other professions where this is not so. I can speak with personal experience on the difficulties of getting a footing from the bottom. I think we should have a system whereby we could get men into the legal and medical professions, giving everyone a chance to rise to the top, provided they have the ability and grip to work their way up. I do not believe that any educational system is perfect, but we want to plan ahead and make our educational system worth while. If we find someone who would be a brilliant surgeon, we should do everything we can to give him the necessary facilities. I believe that our educational system will 857 fail and will not be complete unless something of that kind is done.
§ Mr. Sloan (South Ayrshire)
I waited through the whole of the speech of the Secretary of State to hear what he had to say about education, and he wound up without mentioning it at all. The picture that he drew was a depressing one with regard to our health services, but I think that the fact that he made no reference whatever to post-war education will cause great anxiety throughout Scotland. I do not know whether he wanted to discuss it or not, but he had his opportunity and failed to take advantage of it. We are to have a new world, a new social system, a planned economy—a New Jerusalem. Democracy, as a way of life, is to be promoted and preserved. This will mean, if it is honestly meant at all, serious fundamental changes in the intellectual outlook of human society, and these changes cannot be effected without what one might term an educational revolution.
What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to effect an educational revolution? We have heard the proud boast that Scotland holds a primary place in education. A certain egoism permeates the people. The most illiterate people that you speak to will boast of the high standard of education in Scotland. Throughout my life I have never been able to find that high intellectual streak that runs through our people. I have seen young men going to universities and taking a very high place in the educational circle, but I am sure that if I had lived in England, I should have seen the same. If I had lived in West Africa, I should have seen the same. I have met a few West Africans to-day. At the weekend I was speaking at Indian meetings, and I met Indians, some of very high culture. The sooner Scotsmen get rid of this idea that they have some sort of intellectual superiority, the better it will be for them in the future. If there was ever any justification for the claim, I think we can state definitely now that we have lost our place in the race, if race it can be called. It is more like a jog trot developing into a crawl. Education in Scotland is in serious danger of being arrested for loitering. In any case we cannot live on our reputation.
Education has suffered since the passage of the 1930 Act, which has proved a 858 retrogressive Measure. It has been a tragic and ghastly failure. I sincerely hope that it is not like the laws of the Medes and Persians and that, having discovered its defects and failures, Scottish Members will take the earliest opportunity possible to have it changed. The most prolific and fruitful period in education was the 11 years between 1919 and 1930. It is a thousand pities that those ad hoc authorities were ever allowed to be removed. The 1930 Act has proved a most unhappy experience and the result of it is that people who never had the aptitude, or even the desire, to carry out this most important function of educational administration find themselves overflowing from county councils into education committees. I was never of the opinion that you could mix sewage and education. They simply will not mix. People get elected to county and city councils for many reasons. One which has been canvassed very much today is the question of housing. A person is elected to a council to see that a particular area is properly housed, but he finds that he cannot even get on to the housing committee. Or he may be an advocate of better public assistance scales. The education committees are made a sort of receptacle where all the odd lots are thrown, and you have an agglomeration of people on education committees who have very little interest indeed in education.
The 1919 Act was hailed as the children's charter. It was sympathetically and progressively administered in many cases, and the results will bear the most scrupulous examination. There has been a tremendous, increase in secondary pupils. Opportunities for advanced education in the universities and central institutions because of enlightened education authorities' schemes, which assisted thousands of boys and girls, the marked reduction in the size of classes, the attempt to eradicate the slum type of school—the legacy of the old school boards—a marked rise in the standard of teachers, the introduction of the best type of equipment, and the foundation that was laid for health services in the schools—these were only a few of the marked changes that took place as a result of the 1918 Act. The provision of free places in secondary schools for all children was a tremendous step forward. Not a single child in Scotland who wanted to go forward for secondary education was 859 deprived of the opportunity. There was no necessity to pay fees to secure secondary education, and most of the education authorities, these ad hoc bodies, provided free books and equipments for the children.
These advantages, however, have been sadly dissipated during the past 12 years and the number of secondary pupils and of those proceeding to the universities have fallen. The greatest casualties have been among those entering the teaching profession. The peak year was 1930, when 1,524 teachers were trained. That year coincided with the loss of the ad hoc authorities when the management of the schools passed into the hands of the county councils. That started a diminution in the number of teachers required. The numbers trained dropped to 1,200, and without any artificial limitation—for the teachers were not there to be trained—they declined in 1939 to 930. The number, which is to some extent affected by the war, has now fallen to 728, which is less than half the number of teachers trained under the old education authorities. I commend to hon. Members a study of the latest report of the National Council for the Training of Teachers. It will prove revealing and disturbing. A point I would like to mention in passing is that in this age of science the number of teachers trained for mathematics and science has dropped from 74 in 1936 to 38 in 1939, and, because of the war, they have been practically eliminated, the number being only nine.
The 1918 Act provided some other important opportunities which have been sadly neglected by the people of Scotland, by the House of Commons and by successive Secretaries of State. My right hon. Friend was not Secretary of State, but he was Under-Secretary, at a period when the Secretary of State had the power of naming the appointed day for raising the school age to 15 years. The people of Scotland wanted the school age raised and the Coalition Government in 1918 provided facilities for it, but, although a generation has passed, it has not been done yet. It is an interesting fact that it is 42 years since the last extension of the school age was made in Scotland when it was raised to 14. As my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) would be able to 860 tell us, the children of Israel were in the wilderness for 40 years, but the children of Scotland have been there for 42 and there is not much sign yet of their reaching the Promised Land.
Will my right hon. Friend tell us what plans he has for post-war education in Scotland? The Coalition Government during the last war were preparing a scheme for education in Scotland. Is anything being done during this war? An inquiry is being made into education in England. Are we to understand that the legacy which my right hon. Friend received from his predecessors is such that there is no necessity for developing a post-war education scheme for Scotland? Is it so good and grand? My information is that there is no committee of inquiry for Scotland because it is not considered necessary. If there is, who are the experts who are to deal with the question of post-war education in Scotland? I say, frankly, to the Secretary of State that the situation has deteriorated badly during his administration. There have been contributory causes, I agree, but they are only contributory. The Scottish education system is disintegrating before his very eyes. It has not been in a worse position for the last 50 years than it is now. What plans are proposed to deal with it? It may be that the Scottish Parliamentary group is too old and too tired to undertake the task; too weary, jaded and outworn to face the responsibility.
I think that Scottish education has been treated shabbily by the Secretary of State to-day. Here was a great opportunity to let us know something of what is being done. The Debate is nearing its end but the Secretary of State has not said a single word about it. He has talked of other things, but has not said a word about the most important social service in the country. It has been a most depressing state of affairs. I hope that the Under-Secretary, when he replies, will be able to relieve the minds of the people of Scotland. After all, we are facing an entirely new situation, a complete revolution in thought. That revolution must carry with it educational responsibilities, and we dare not attempt to face the postwar world with a pre-war educational mentality. Therefore we must extract from the Secretary of State or the Under-Secretary some information of what is to be done for post-war education in Scotland.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
I do not usually agree with my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan), but I want to say straight away that I agree with much of what he has said to-day, the reason being that he speaks as a member of a very important education authority and that he has said in so many words that he thinks it is time to reconsider the present method of directing education. That is a very important statement, and as there have been some other references to this subject to-day I think I may as well read the following passage from a speech of the president of the Scottish Educational Institute:The year 1919, when ad hoc educational authorities came into being, marked the beginning of a decade of educational expansion and uninterrupted progress. In 1930 the ad hoc bodies ceased to exist and the local administration of education passed into the hands of city councils or county councils.He went on to say that we supported the change and had some responsibility for this, and proceeded:There was good reason for believing that a system or a method which had operated with such conspicuous success in England and Wales would ultimately work to the advantage of education and other social services in Scotland. It has not turned out so, for—with some few notable exceptions—the years from 1930 onwards make up one of the most barren and depressing periods in the history of educational progress in Scotland.That comes from the president of a very important body, and needs analysis, and I would like, in no party spirit, to ask the Secretary of State what is his view of it. A year ago I asked the question that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire asked. I think it was about the time that the Green Book for England and Wales was published, and I asked what were the plans for Scotland. I did not get an answer, though I thought I might have got one after the Debate. Since then, I have been making other inquiries. I understand that the Secretary of State had to confine his remarks to-day to one portion of the area covered by the Debate, and that he would leave it to the Under-Secretary to deal with education. I do not wish to make the same complaint as the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, but I wish the Secretary of State could have gone further.
I know that the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd) 862 differed very much from the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn) on the subject of housing. The hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew said he hoped we should take housing out of the region of bureaucracy and party politics, and if I understood my hon. Friend the Member for West Renfrew he said something which is very nearly the opposite. He hoped that we should keep these controls over the essential part of the machinery until we had made a real hole in this appalling problem of housing in Scotland. I do not want to say anything more about housing except that it is high time that we took up a more realist attitude. In a Scottish Debate the other day everybody was saying, "Let us take unemployment out of politics." It is possible to take unemployment out, but if you take employment out of politics the problem becomes more complicated, because then you come up against the old issue of private enterprise or some form of Socialism. I notice in passing that it is the professions of nurses and teachers—neither working for private profit—which are underpaid and are still grossly neglected.
I am speaking for only a few minutes to-day, because so many other hon. Members wish to take part in the Debate, and the question I wish to put is, What is this issue about Scottish and English education? I think that the, hon. Member for South Ayrshire spoke uncommon good sense and it was all the better coming from him, because he has been on an education committee. Is there any justification for the statement that Scottish education is at the moment inferior to education south of the Border? I have a quotation from Dr. Boyd, who is a very great authority, and was speaking in Kilmarnock last week. He said:Throughout the British Empire there were two different sets of tradition in education and the one that counted most in the Dominions was the Scottish tradition. Nothing but the best was good enough for the ordinary child. English people bow down before the public school. All the generals and admirals and most of the people in the Cabinet are that sort of product, a long way off from people like you and me.I have taken the trouble to look up the school origins of Scottish Members as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) once did in an earlier Debate, and I find 863 that 16 Scottish Members went to English public schools—seven to Eton, three to Harrow and six to other schools. That movement has been going on steadily. They were sent there either for a purely social reason, to gain some cachet, or else they went there because their parents thought they were better schools—though I doubt very much whether they are and I think it must have been very largely for social reasons that they went there. Dr. Boyd went on to say:In one year there will be 25,000 attending these schools, and from them have come the great majority of people to hold positions of great responsibility in Government and civic life. In Scotland you are given a training and if you have it in you, you will get to the top; if not—well, you will get the position you are worth. That is the Scottish tradition.If that is the Scottish tradition, with all due respect to Dr. Boyd, for whom I have a great admiration, I think it ought to be changed, and I have come to the conclusion, for what it is worth, that Scottish education seems to be falling a bit behind, because it does not breed the same community sense. It is too much individual advancement, too much climbing up a ladder, vertical mobility in society, going through a series of examinations—and examinations count more than anything else. That is why I am very pleased that my right hon. Friend is pressing—with an increased grant, let it be noticed—for an increase in the provision of meals and milk in schools. I saw some children yesterday in the only nursery school in Ayrshire, due very largely to Mrs. McNab Shaw. Why is it that there are so few nursery schools? Would it mean breaking up home life? That is what we are always told. It is said that if meals are taken out of the home, it will break up home life, that if little children are taken out of the home it will break up home life. The fact is that it is our houses that are breaking up home life, not these things. We have still to face it.
Why is it that there are only 28 or 29 war nurseries in Scotland, and 640 in England and Wales? I have discussed this matter with my right hon. Friend before, in a quite impartial spirit. He says that there is something peculiar about Scotland, and that there are very strong reasons in the character of the people which prevent them from accept- 864 ing such bodies. With all due respect to my right hon. Friend, I think he has to go a bit further. He has to ask whether the administration, as between the Department of Health and the Department of Education, is really making a drive for this scheme. Edinburgh has had excellent nurseries for many years, first-rate ones. Once people are persuaded and have seen the thing in operation, they take a different view. I know there is rather more conservatism North of the Tweed in these matters, because there is a great educational tradition, and I appreciate it.
As the hon. Member for South Ayrshire said, the time has come for a revolution in education—nothing less—and it has to start with the teachers. I speak as a friend of the teachers and not in a carping spirit. Sometimes the teachers are criticised, but we all realise that it is not such an easy thing to go on, as some of them have been doing for a year now, with very little holiday, in some parts of Great Britain, teaching both day and evening and becoming a nursemaid, giving out milk and engaging in all the other welfare activities of the school. We have to look about and ask ourselves whether passing three examinations at three periods of your life and going through a training college is sufficient justification for teaching not only small children but possibly also those between the ages of 14 and 18.
Now I come to the Under-Secretary of State. I want to ask him one or two questions. What has happened to the Scottish Youth Committee? Why did it not meet for eight months? What has happened to the circular that he promised? I will quote his words and those of the Secretary of State. This is the Under-Secretary:I can assure my hon. Friend that in the circular we are issuing in the near future to local authorities it is intended to draw their attention to the importance of employing one or more organisers for youth welfare."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1942; col. 1599, Vol. 379.]Is that circular out? If so, I have not yet seen it. The Secretary of State said:The question of a revised administrative arrangement recommended for educational authorities is under consideration, and I hope we shall issue a recommendation shortly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1942; col. 1620, Vol. 379.]865 Is that done yet? If it is not done, it really is not very fair. I am interested in this matter. I know that some things have been going on between the various bodies, and that the Under-Secretary of State has to straighten out certain difficulties between the Central Council for Juvenile Organisations in Scotland and the Scottish Youth Committee. He has also set up a committee on training. I understand that that committee is not in a very happy state. There have been some courses. I do not want to underestimate what has been done. There have been extra grants of about £16,000 for youth organisations. Who knows about this? Do the people of Scotland know that there is a great move on at present to stop juvenile delinquency starting from the positive end? Are the people of Scotland aware that there is a move to bring the education authorities back into the centre of the picture? I had something to do with the beginning of it. I do not quarrel with the Under-Secretary, but I warn him that if he does not allow some voluntary and informal side in this very sensitive movement between 14 and 18 years, but simply ties it up with the normal educational machine, he will kill something which is vital and precious in that movement.
The Department say, "We will have continuation schools." Will they? Where are the buildings, where are the teachers, and what are they going to teach? The right hon. Gentleman has talked about building; I hope there is to be a long-term programme for building. If a start is to be made with young apprentices—we are starting 50 in Kilmarnock Academy and 50 in Ayr Academy—what bursary is to be given in order that the boys' fathers may be interested enough to say to them, "You are to go to the technical school between the ages of 14 and 16 to prepare yourselves for the building trade"? Is that likely to happen when the boys can go off elsewhere and get a couple of pounds a week? Something has to be done. I understand that one authority is to pay 5s. as a maintenance grant and that another authority proposes to pay 30s. I should like to know a little more about it. In Ayrshire the amount would probably be small. It will be very difficult to get these young fellows to go in for apprenticeships when they can get four or five times the amount elsewhere. Something else must be done if you want 866 to re-create up the building craft in Scotland.
What has happened to the Education Advisory Council? I see that its expenses are £130 this year? When did it last meet, and when is it going to meet again? In other words, what has happened to all these committees? Is my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary going to take on this job? He has taken on a big job to-day; he is going to be the chairman of the Housing Committee. He is also chairman of the Scottish Youth Committee. What is the plan? Who is going to tackle the problems raised by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire?
I want to make a suggestion. I believe that Scottish education could do with some of the experimental ideas that are going on in England as well as in Scotland. I should like to see far greater individuality among headmasters and less code. I should like to see far more use of the Highlands and far more use of forestry and camping. I should like to see an extension of what is happening in Marr College in Ayrshire. I admit it is only because of a windfall connected with a trust. I should like to see bursaries being given for several different professions so that a boy could become a doctor, an architect or a dentist, without having to raise the premiums which are needed before a boy can get through—and then he may need something to buy a practice. Boys are being started in specific professions because the college happen to have a few thousand pounds which they can use for this purpose.
I should like to see every headmaster in Scotland given his head and greater freedom from the code. I am against all examinations except for entrance to a profession. You must have an examination if you wish to be a doctor, but the sort of hurdle that these poor children have to pass at 11, 15 and 17 years of age thwarts the whole progress of education in Scotland. The tradition that Scottish legislation has always to be tacked on to English Bills should be broken. I was for three years Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, and I always wanted Scotland to do something entirely different. I hope that they will do so over youth organisations. Scotland has far more chance of carrying out really ambitious schemes of training youth, because it has more rugged territory in which to 867 do it. You will not attract the young people between 14 and 18 by giving them evening institutes of the old order. You have to give them something like the A.T.C., which appeals to them, where they have some vision, some dream, and where there is some adventure.
As to Scottish youth and the so-called juvenile delinquency, they are no more delinquents than hon. Members are in this House. They simply see the Commandos about, and they are flinging off their high spirits. The best thing that could happen, as Dr. Boyd said, is to have a little more invention and imagination put into Scottish education. We ought not to depend solely upon the Scottish Education Department and upon 35 county councils, as we do at present. Perhaps my hon. Friend is right, and we are getting the wrong people on to the education committees of county councils. He is one of them. I have heard it from many quarters. He says that you must not mix sewage and education. I agree. What is the remedy? Will my right hon. Friend have a really honest inquiry into this matter? If it is true that the ad hoc bodies have something in them, is it possible to construct bodies, right from the parish up to the head in Edinburgh, which are wholly concerned with education and with nothing else? Is it possible to have less of the code and more freedom for the individual schools? Is it possible to introduce some element of boarding for every boy, for a period of six months or a year? The camp schools have proved that it has nothing to do with rich and exclusive schools, but that there is something in the boarding principle which is good in itself.
I was told at Glasgow University yesterday that the boys who have been coming recently from Marr College were showing elements of all-round capacity and leadership by which they stood out. I am not concerned with the Scottish boys who go to Eton and Harrow, I am concerned with the resurrection of the 500 ordinary Scottish secondary schools. I happen to know that my right hon. Friend is really deeply interested in this. He has taken some interest in the Scottish farm school which has been started in Glasgow, but we do not want one farm school, we want 20; we want a farm school in every county. We do not just want a technical 868 school for building, we want a whole new bias given to the secondary schools in Scotland. It is because I think that a revolution in education is much better than a revolution elsewhere, and would probably be the basis of a better attitude towards building, employment and everything else, that I plead with my right hon. Friend to take action to-day.
§ Mr. Snadden (Perth and Kinross, Western)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman), I hope I shall not detain the Committee for more than a few moments, but, unlike the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan), I feel that I should like at the outset of my few remarks to pay my tribute to the Secretary of State for what, in my opinion, is a very real service which he has rendered to his native Scotland during a very difficult time of office. I think that through sheer hard work and ability he has most abundantly earned, and certainly secured, the confidence and respect of the Scottish people. That in itself is a very considerable achievement. He has even succeeded in damping down the fires kindled in the hearts of the Scottish farmers through the iniquitous imposition of Summer Time. His powers in that respect, to my mind, almost bordered on the miraculous, and I cannot help feeling that with the assistance of his able new Under-Secretary he might now succeed in persuading the Scottish cow to produce her offspring in six months instead of nine. If he did so, he would ease the milk supply and go down to history as the greatest Secretary of State of all time. At any rate, I wish him and his colleagues at the Scottish Office all success.
I do not know whether we shall have what is called a new order when this war is over. I do not know under what "ism" we shall live, whether it will be Socialism or Fascism, Conservatism or Liberalism; I cannot help feeling, however, that under any of these systems of government we shall probably find that the problems facing us at the end of this war will be substantially the same as they were before the war began. The industry with which I am connected, and the constituency which I have the honour to represent, have very good reason to know what happens when there is no long-term policy, only a jumble-up of hastily improvised expedients, the principal char- 869 acteristic of which was that they never had any relation whatsoever to each other. The resulting chaos has been described by one eminent authority as "a policy of progressive impoverishment." I feel that we must, at all costs, avoid a repetition of our past failures and plan for the future.
A good deal has been said to-day in the speeches to which I have listened about the post-war housing position. Most of the speeches have come from hon. Members representing industrial constituencies. I hope the Secretary of State will forgive me if I remind him that there is such a thing as rural Scotland and that rural Scotland does represent, or should represent, a great deal—possibly most—of what we Scots are proud of—hard work, common sense, learning and decent living. I am concerned lest in the scramble for material and labour when the war is over, we may find that our rural areas are pushed aside, and are not very far up the post-war priority list. I am sure that the Secretary of State will agree that rural depopulation is one of the fundamental tendencies which must be reversed if our national economy is to be properly balanced and the health of the people improved. There are two things I wish to see when the war is over. One is the abolition of slums. I was very much impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in which he drew attention to the appalling conditions in Glasgow. I have seen them myself and I am thoroughly ashamed of that city when I pass through it. The hon. Member did not exaggerate in any way in what he said. The other thing I wish to see is a healthy and prosperous countryside. I may confess that that was one of the reasons why I came into this House. When the war is over, I do not want to see any derelict land with reed-infested grass and a few disease-infected sheep upon it, but we cannot get a healthy and prosperous countryside unless we provide decent accommodation for the rural worker.
The position at the end of the war, as far as I can see, will be one of high costs, shortage of material and labour, many married couples coming back from war service and a host of competing demands. I wonder whether the Secretary of State will indicate what place the rural area will occupy in the post-war priority 870 list? Have our county councils begun to, plan our post-war rural housing schemes? I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn), who in a previous Debate said that it did not matter very much what plans were made, they were always retarded by something or other. In my constituency, one of the largest in Scotland, the principal obstacle to progress in the realm of housing in the past has been the exasperating delay caused between the county council at Perth on the one hand and the Department in Edinburgh on the other, arising out of masses of correspondence. First of all, when a housing scheme is mooted, the site is surveyed, the proprietor has to be seen, negotiations take place with him, and then begins the laborious business of getting out the estimates. At each stage it appears that the local authority, the county council, must consult the Department in Edinburgh.
I know of a pre-war scheme in my constituency involving 10 houses where correspondence went on for two years, and the houses are not built yet. The Department in Edinburgh seems to possess a prodigious capacity for argument in regard to whether a house should face this way or that. I cannot help feeling that if we are to get on with this business after the war we shall have to have more confidence in our local authorities, and allow them to say what is to be done in an area like that. They have all the knowledge. There is one suggestion which I would ask the Under-Secretary to consider. Would it not be possible to appoint an inspector with power to go round the local authorities and attend their meetings? It could be arranged quite simply, and he could give a decision on the spot, at the committee meeting, when they came up against a point of difficulty. It seems to me that if that were done it would eliminate all this business of letters to Edinburgh—one letter followed by another calling attention to still another. At present this goes on for months and months, whereas were my suggestion adopted you could get a decision on the spot and have your house built, which is what we want.
The other point to which I would like to draw attention is whether it is sound on the part of the Department always to insist on the acceptance of the lowest 871 tender in our housing schemes. I have had a little experience in my own way when I have built farm cottages and overhauled steadings and things like that. I do not necessarily accept the lowest tender. I know the builders. We often find that when the lowest tender is accepted, a man goes away with the contract and then scrimps the work. In the case of housing schemes, the local authorities know the firms whereas the Department does not. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that. There is a further point on which I would like an answer. I have noticed that where a house is condemned, there may be a house on the left and a house on the right of it in first-class condition with the condemned house between them in what would otherwise be a presentable street. Surely it cannot be said that that house can be left for ever in that condition. I feel that position must be remedied by some action on our part—by the State taking it over and converting it into a suitable house.
A subject which I do not recollect having heard mentioned to-day is that of water supply. It is no use talking about houses without considering water, drainage and so on. The only point I wish to bring to the notice of the Under-Secretary in connection with water supplies is that if we are to make proper progress, especially in the realm of milk production, is it not absurd that in this year of 1942 we have to deny farmers licences to produce milk because their source of water supply is the polluted river Forth? That is the position in my county at the present time. On top of that, we have stringent dairy by-laws retarding milk production, while at the same time, we are receiving questionable milk from Eire. We must look to regional schemes in the future.
I have only one point to make touching on education before I conclude. If we are to have an agricultural policy after this war, as I hope we Shall, clearly our educational system must be revised. Present methods, so far as I can see, are designed to turn out pupils only for town jobs. The pupils know nothing at all except about books and examinations. Agriculture must get its recruits from the rural areas. This will never come about so long as the teachers themselves have no knowledge whatever of the country or 872 about the industry of agriculture. It is not their fault that they have been brought up on a system of examinations. So have their inspectors. I feel that in the future they must be given a new background by a course of rural science. I think that they would look forward to it. I also feel that we must set up rural centres not unlike those proposed by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). I wish to see rural centres set up where our children could co-operate with the agriculturists in the region. Instead of doing dry sums in a class room they would check up their sums by coming across our fields, measuring up our stacks, distinguishing between mild white clover and other clovers. They would soon be able to tell the difference between wheat and barley, beet and turnips. Farmers will willingly co-operate. I think there is enormous scope in that direction.
Lastly, I would suggest to the Under-Secretary that he should consider what may appear to be a rather extraordinary proposal. I remember when I came home after the last war seeing that a French town had been adopted by some town in Britain. Why could not our urban schools adopt a rural school which the pupils would visit periodically? By that method you would get a very useful link between town and country, and you would educate the urban mind. Very soon they would come to realise something about the glories of the countryside. They would also become conscious of the fact, astonishing as it may seem, that men work and make their lives in the country.
§ Mr. McLean Watson (Dunfermline)
This is one of the few days of the year when the Secretary of State sees himself as others see him. I am not sure that he has always been able to recognise himself during the course of this Debate, especially when we have had such speeches as that delivered by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan). I think that the Secretary of State made a very fair statement with regard to public health. It is quite true he did not deal much with education, but he did refer to the matter. It is true that he did not outline the revolution which my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire wants in connection with education, but I note that my hon. Friend did not outline the revolution himself. He did not outline the form which the revolution in educa- 873 tion is to take, but he wants a revolution. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) agreed with the Member for South Ayrshire with regard to the present administration of education in Scotland. I agree with them that a great deal of the deterioration that has taken place in Scottish education has happened since we passed the Local Government Act, 1929, that changed our educational system in Scotland, but my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire is wrong in saying that the present Secretary of State favoured the handing-over of the education of Scotland to the county councils.
§ Mr. Watson
My hon. Friend may be right. I will read the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow and see who is right. I was under the impression that he assumed that the Secretary of State for Scotland was favourable to the change that was made.
§ Mr. Watson
We will leave it there. The Committee may take it from me that when the Local Government Bill of 1929 was before the House the present Secretary of State and the Scottish Labour Members who were in the House at that time fought that provision in that particular Bill. That Act made a change from the old education authority to the county council. I agree with the criticism that has been made that the deterioration in Scottish education dates, from the time when that change was made. I would say to my two hon. Friends on this side of the Committee that the parties who were keenest on the change from the education authorities to the county council were the teachers in Scotland. They wanted the change. Why they wished it I do not know, except perhaps that they imagined they would be further away from the gaffers. Maybe the authorities were keeping too tight a hold on our education system in Scotland, both from the teachers' point of view and from the point of view of education in general, and perhaps the teachers imagined that, if they were under the county councils in Scot- 874 land, they would fare better than they had fared under the education authorities. But it has not worked out in that way, not even for the teachers, and it certainly has not worked out to the advantage of education in Scotland. [Interruption.] The teachers may not be financially any worse off, but I am certain that it is not a pleasure to them to know that our education system to-day is not as good as it was when it was under the control of an ad hoc body in Scotland. Perhaps my hon. Friend wishes to go back to the old education authority system again and have this service taken out of the hands of the county council and put into the hands of men and women who are specially interested in education, because most of the education authorities in Scotland before the change was made consisted of men and women who were interested in education. They were not interested in local government generally, in roads or in sewers, but they were interested in education. It was because they were interested in education that they handed over education to the education authorities, and we have in our educational system in Scotland a very efficient instrument.
I want to refer to one or two points that have already been raised in the course of the Debate, because they affect my own constituency. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) suggested that there was no need for waiting until the war was over before certain preparations were made for housing in Scotland. Everybody is agreed that we require something in the nature of half a million houses in Scotland. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested that preparations should be made before the end of the war for a programme of house building to be undertaken immediately the war is over, and I agree with him that sites ought to be acquired. I also join with others who have urged the Secretary of State to obtain powers to enable the local authorities to acquire sites for housing schemes before the war is over. In my constituency, the burgh is fully built up, and I do not think that the authorities would be inclined to go in for an extension of the burgh. It would be an expensive process, and I think that a good deal could be done inside the burgh itself in acquiring old sites and places where there is derelict property. There is a great deal of it in that particular burgh, because it 875 has suffered from mining subsidence in bygone years, but the ground is gradually settling. The old ruined buildings ought to be cleared off, and there are sites for new houses if the Secretary of State for Scotland had the power to authorise the local authority to acquire them.
The right Hon. Gentleman knows that I have been in communication with him for some time in regard to the acquisition of housing sites in that particular burgh. It would be a pity to extend the boundaries of the burgh, and it would not very easily be done when there are housing sites within the burgh itself. It would be a good thing to have these derelict buildings removed, the sites acquired and everything prepared for the end of the war, when we could expect a building programme to be undertaken. Even if the building could be proceeded with before the end of the war, it would be a good thing for many places in Scotland where they require houses urgently. It would be a good thing even if before the end of the war local authorities were empowered to go ahead with building schemes. I hope that when we get our new houses they will be real houses and not like some of the houses that have been erected during the period of the war. I not not attracted to the concrete house. It may have good qualities, but I prefer the ordinary type of house. In some schemes that have had to be undertaken during the period of the war we have had to accept the concrete house. We have also had to accept brick houses which have been erected for a temporary purpose and which have not the accommodation with which they ought to have been provided. These things have been going on during the war, and we are likely to have plenty of tenants to occupy these houses, because there is a demand for them everywhere. In every part of my constituency there is a demand for housing accommodation. I hope that when we start to build houses again we shall not have the type of house built during the war as something which is satisfactory and with which we ought to be satisfied.
There is one other point that I wish to put to the Secretary of State, with regard to education facilities. He knows that in another part of my constituency the school children have to a very large extent been deprived of educational facilities. Recently endeavours have been made to find 876 accommodation to improve the educational facilities in that particular place. But why schools should be scattered all over the place instead of being housed in the schools for which they were intended is a matter I cannot understand. I cannot understand why the Service Departments should insist upon taking large buildings over for particular requirements when there are smaller places such as halls or other accommodation ample for their purpose. I hope that the representatives of the Scottish Office will make representations to the Service Departments, which insist upon using schools when other accommodation could be got, so that the children in the particular areas can be given the education that they are entitled to receive.
I wish to put these points to the Joint Under-Secretary of State, and I hope that the result of this very long and interesting discussion will be to strengthen the Scottish Office and encourage it to go forward to other Government Departments. It is obvious that discussions will have to take place with other Departments. Some discussions will have to take place either with the Air Ministry, the Admiralty or the War Office but, more particularly, the Treasury. The Treasury is the bugbear so far as preparations for post-war housing are concerned: they are the stumbling-block. If they would remove from local authorities the ban on making preparations to undertake housing schemes after the war, things would move speedily and smoothly, but in all likelihood the ban will be maintained until the war is over, with the result that, as on the last occasion, hundreds of thousands if not millions of men will be unemployed, drawing benefit, instead of being ready to start on the work which has been prepared. I hope the Council of State which has been referred to, this Council of ex-Secretaries of State, will have plans not only for housing but for many other things. If by any means they can give us a plan for education in the future, I am certain that the people in Scotland will rejoice to know that not only in housing but in education and other ways their requirements will be met.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
I would like to apologise for my absence from the Chamber for the two or three hours during which I have been engaged on a Committee of the House upstairs. I want first to raise a small point with 877 regard to public health and then deal with education. The point is well known to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and has a direct bearing on food production. As ray right hon. Friend will know, the farmers' organisation in Scotland feels that the present dairy by-laws impose restrictions, rather stringently and rather unevenly, upon dairy farmers, with the result that a good many—I cannot say how many, but I am assured that there are a good many—who would otherwise undertake milk production are prevented from doing so. The present bye-laws lay down a whole lot of regulations such as the ventilation of the byre, the form of the grip, the length of the stall, and so on, and quite a number of farmers have premises that do not quite meet these specific requirements. Obviously, some relaxation is wanted in war-time, when milk is vitally needed. Some relaxation, I know, is being made, but I am assured that it is uneven. In some counties it is more uneven than in others, and I suggest that a way out would be something like this: Let the question of the purity of milk remain one for the Department of Health: Milk for public consumption is a matter for the Department of Health. But let the actual production of milk be properly the business of the Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary inspectors. If that were done, the difficulty would I think be overcome and some sort of uniformity would be provided for Scotland. I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary would deal with this point when he comes to reply.
On education, may I refer in passing to a small point which I dealt with rather fully on a Bill a few months ago and which I do not want to go over again at length? I want to say how much I welcome the information given us to-day about the additional number of children receiving midday meals. I congratulate my right hon. Friend. I wish all power to his elbow. One would like to see the figures doubled. But I cannot help repeating the view I expressed when this subject was last debated, that it is a great pity and a great deterrent to social equality to insist upon imposing a means test on the children who are to get these meals. I am disturbed by a sentence on page 13 of the Report of the Education Department, which reads:Meals of the desired nutritional standard cannot be provided cheaply, and the authori- 878 ties have been asked to bring them within the means of the poorer children, not by lowering the quality of the meals, but by adopting generous scales for determining which children are necessitous.Frankly, I do not like this idea that somebody has to peer into the family affairs in the case of little children. No doubt a case can be made out for a means test in other circumstances, but I hate it in regard to midday meals for children. My right hon. Friend has given us proof of the enormous and indeed incalculable value of midday meals to the physique of the children. Nobody who has heard such a declaration as he made should desire to continue this system of picking out the children who are to pay for the midday meal and those who are not to pay for it. Although I know that the system cannot be altered now, I feel I must express regret that the Committee should continue this unhappy means test.
I have certain strong views on education which I Want to express to the Committee. Some of them are views on which I have formed a clear conclusion, on others I am not sure I am yet perfectly convinced, but they are in my mind, and I would like to express them. I believe that during these Debates we spend too much time on administration and too little upon what is actually taught in the schools. What is taught in the schools? I have before me a pamphlet issued by the Scottish Education Department, called "Training for Citizenship." In it are set out in excellent language and most persuasive and noble terms what are the views of the Scottish Education Department. My right hon. Friend has contributed a foreword to it. It is a fine document. I will read the Committee some extracts from it:The degree to which this training is given, however, varies considerably from school to school, and the purpose of this Memorandum is to ensure that the duty of the schools in this matter is more widely and more fully recognised.The assumption is that some schools are not nearly as good as others, and the admission is that some of them are pretty bad. That is my reading of the position. There are a good many things lacking. This is, in fact, a document intended to go to the teachers to show them what is intended. Here is the first objective:The schools have no more vital duty than to mould the character of their pupils.879 Let hon. Members from Scotland recall, as I do, our own education. I was at a good school. We were taught admirably the three R's, we had a first-class training in English literature, geography, mathematics, the classics; but I do not seem to recollect that such character as I may have was greatly built up at the school. I do not recall, nor can I see in the Scottish schools now, any deliberate and concentrated effort to develop character.
I had a very good home. The document continues:They should be taught to develop industry, initiative and forethought.Admirable.Under this head fall such habits as chivalry towards the weak, consideration for the feelings of others, courtesy to elders, cleanliness of person and of speech—in brief, good manners.Again I say, it is a most excellent objective to go for, but is it really taught at the schools?
It continues:The riper years of the pupils should make it possible to entrust them with some responsibility for the government of the school.I cannot recollect any single occasion when I was at school, until I was 18—and I repeat that I was at a good school—except on the sports field, when I was invited, or any of my boy friends were invited, to take on one scrap of responsibility. Is it now the usual practice?
I was saying that that was my experience. Instructions are included for discussions on such topics as the working of the representative system:The children should be brought to see the interdependence of various members of the community and to recognise that the different occupations of those members are forms of service to the community.I repeat that these are admirable objectives. But I would say that this almost pious document would be of much greater value if it included practical steps designed to meet these objectives, or 880 offered us any hope that this ideal state would come about. Why is it that these things are not now being taught in Scottish schools? There is no doubt that they are not being taught, otherwise this document would not have been issued. I say that the fault lies largely with the teachers. That is not a criticism of the teachers, but of those who teach the teachers, and of the system. That view is not only mine, but is the considered view of the Board of Education in England, and of a good many educationists in Scotland. I observe that the Minister of Education, speaking on 16th June in this House, said:I confess that I am not satisfied that we recruit teachers from a wide enough field, or that the teachers themselves get sufficient opportunity for fitting themselves for their noble career. In my opinion the old days of academic attainment being the sole test for the teaching profession are gone. Education is more than a mere acquisition of knowledge."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th June, 1942, col. 1414, Vol. 380.]He thought this question so important that he announced he had set up a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. McNair to investigate it together with the question of the supply of teachers and the supply of youth leaders. Do we in Scotland know anything about that committee, and are we on to this as well? Are we taking any steps to make some inquiries as to what we are doing to create a tar better body of teachers with those much higher ideals? It is not enough to be first class at mathematics and having first-class certificates. You cannot build character in children-by these qualifications alone. I had university degrees and honours, but for teaching I do not consider they are anything compared with the qualities which go with a man who can by his own experience or special personality create in young persons courage, honesty and leadership. These are the things which we should seek in the teachers of the future.
Again, to what extent is there encouragement in music and art? I have the greatest possible pride in my country, but let us be frank for a few minutes. Why is it that the average boy who goes from Scotland to the South—and they went in their thousands before the war—why is it that these boys of 16 or 17 suffer from a certain gaucherie and uncouthness in the cultural side of life? Such a boy knows his three R's, but he is sometimes abys- 881 mally ignorant of the finer sides of art, music, sculpture and pictures. He does not have the critical sense of the arts which is so keen a pleasure when you ultimately acquire it I am speaking again for myself and my contemporaries who came to London twenty-five years ago and very often felt ourselves out of place. It is a positive handicap to a young man. Boys in certain schools in England have the advantage of this cultural enjoyment, and it greatly assists them. It expands their minds. Why cannot we get it? What part are we playing in this Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts?
But there is more in it than just teachers. My mind is moving also in the direction that we should at least at this stage offer to the children of all classes, rich and poor, the possibility and, as I think, the benefits of a boarding-school education. I came from Scotland rather critical of the public school system. I believed profoundly that a child was best brought up in his or her own home. I was immensely fortunate in having a fine home and good parents, but not all children, unfortunately, are so blessed. Slum conditions make it almost impossible for the best intentioned parents to give their children the start they would like to give them. But there is more than that. It is not only opening these public schools to children of all classes and giving to the poorer children something which up to now has been the privilege only of the rich. It is not only that it would remove snobbery, that stupid thing which is to be found not only among the rich, but equally among the poor. I should like to see the distrust, the dislike, the bitterness that exist between employees and employers, between capital and labour, in the great cities gradually disappear. It is not so noticeable in country villages, where all are brought up more or less together and farmers and ploughmen send their children to the same school. But in the cities a child grows up, in a home where the man is a worker, to believe, as a result of the last century of conflict between labour and capital, that capitalists are necessarily bad people, out to exploit them; and the children of the employers grow up with the old tradition that there is something wrong with the working classes. I should like to see an end of that, and I hope an effort will be made to be done with it. Let us try to abolish 882 this stupid, evil class distinction that is doing such great harm to our country. I believe that it might be reduced if we could bring children of all classes for one, two or three years of their lives not only to be educated, but to live in the same school. That is almost a revolutionary view for me, a Scotsman, to take, but I have turned this matter over with great care, and I am of the opinion that the question ought to be examined. Are we in Scotland participating in the inquiry which is now being conducted by Lord Fleming into the possibility of opening the public schools to children of all classes? It is of tremendous importance that we should participate, and I invite my hon. Friend to tell us what steps are being taken. In this business of education we are touching the very heart of the nation. A generation is rising which in 10 or 20 years' time, when we have passed to retirement, will be sitting in this House directing the affairs of the State. The responsibility for their training now is ours. It is a tremendous responsibility, and I would say with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) that a revolution is needed in education to make this new generation fit to stand the terrible strain that they will have to bear.
Mr. McNeil (Greenock)
As I enter this Marathon, I will try to emulate the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) in the rationing of time which he imposed on himself. I congratulate him on his self-discipline, and I deplore the fact that many of my colleagues failed in this simple exercise in self-control of speaking for only 15 minutes. The hon. Member for East Fife, however, did his best to tempt me to exceed this period, because I cannot imagine he was seriously arguing that if we knocked down the wall between the public schools and our schools, and if the two classes intermingled, the economic flow of cause and effect would automatically disappear when the boys left school.
I said I hoped that it would help. It is a big problem and would take a long time to solve, but I thought that it would help if the barrier were broken down.
My impression was that the hon. Member said that in the towns there was this conflict between employer and employed arid that in the country 883 there was not that conflict because they went to the same school, and he added that if we knocked away the wall that separated the schools, the problem would be simplified. That is utter nonsense—not that I do not share much of what the hon. Member said about the Scottish education system. Frequently as I bow to the authority of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sloan) on matters appertaining to education, I will not take part in this dismal howling that all the strongholds of Scottish education have fallen and that we are trailing along behind the other nations of Europe. It ought to be examined how far this lag in our Scottish educational development is due to the fact that we have transferred education from the ad hoc body. I do not think my hon. Friend's logic was exhaustive. He took the year 1930 and said that from then we have steadily receded in the number of secondary pupils and university students. From 1930 something else has happened in addition to a change in the administrative structure of our education. Since 1930 we have never escaped, until the year immediately before the war, all the effects of the economic depression.
I know that in that year we were discussing in one Scottish University, at any rate, what effect this would have on the precessions, that Scottish universities anticipated a drop in their figures, and that the drop came. I would not suggest that these economic circumstances completely accounted for the drop, but they made a contribution to it, and I think, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has suggested, that if we are going to revise our approach to education, we cannot stop short at the year 14 or the year 16. We have to say, "Why is it that the fellow whose parents have got cash makes a dive for the safe professions and the other boy makes no attempt to educate himself for the workbench?" We have to find out whether that is a matter of prestige or how far it is a matter of cash. When we attend to that, when we make the one job as attractive as the other and demonstrate its necessity, then we shall be able to set our class rooms in order and regulate the flow of our pupils, and will therefore be able to address ourselves to the problem of the properly-equipped teacher. I do not 884 wish to press that point and I must hurry on, only I did feel that as our Scottish education system, of which we have been proud for so long, had been dealt one or two rather nasty blows I could not leave it in the dust.
I should like now to say a word about housing, which has been very competently discussed to-day. Here we have two problems. One is the long-term problem to which the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn) addressed himself in a most excellent and well-argued speech. I wonder whether I could, without recapitulating that speech, add two points to it. He said very properly that we must control our housing in terms of the industrial distribution of the population. The right hon. Gentleman, in opening this Debate, made that point, and went on to say that we might consider the buying of pre-fabricated houses from Sweden and that an order might be placed now I wonder whether we could not combine with this an extension of the Lease-Lend Agreement. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) both pointed to the sudden changes that took place in 1919, and the hon. Member for West Renfrew capped the references with that most apt quotation from the Prime Minister. If we could have a purchase of pre-fabricated houses and an extension of Lease-Lend, at any rate that horrible day of reckoning is for the time being postponed. We should regard it as an extension of our war effort once the Armistice had been signed. If these prefabricated houses are of a type capable of reassembly then we have got over the worry of making permanent for another 40 years the distribution of houses quite irrespective of whatever change may take place in the distribution of the industrial population.
There is also the other half of this housing problem which has not had so much discussion, and that is the immediate and short-term policy. When I first came to this House a year ago, I felt that I could not do otherwise than make my first speech on this subject. I joined in the general congratulations that had been handed out to the Secretary for Scotland and his two Under-Secretaries on doing a most excellent job in face of great difficulty, but I have to say most sorrowfully 885 that the plea that I made has received very little attention I will not compete with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in harrowing this Committee with descriptions of housing conditions. He talks of Gorbals; some of us could talk of conditions which are as bad as those of Gorbals and have been accentuated by heavy bombing. Very little has been done. I do not say that the Scottish Secretary has not been interested in this subject. I know that he has plans, to which he referred just now, to find out how far he can requisition large houses capable of billeting bombed-out tenants.
The right hon. Gentleman probably saw that I hesitated in the use of that word. It was because of my dislike of saying "houses capable of housing" bombed-out tenants. I know that the hon. Gentleman will not think that I am over-simplifying the matter if I say two things. I agree that that should be done, and should be done urgently. I am inclined to argue that local authorities have the power presently to requisition houses for Civil Defence workers. I have told my own people to go to the Scottish Office and blackmail them. If the Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate are of opinion that powers must be sought, let them get power properly and quickly, and have regard to two points, one of which was made strongly and vividly by the hon. Member for Gorbals. It is that you should give these people security of tenancy. As to the billetees, the persons forced to accept accommodation in bombed-out houses, I do not know whose fault it is that they are in that situation. Sleep is impossible for many of them. It is a nightmare not to know when you are to be pushed out of a given situation. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman not to requisition houses unless they are of such a type that they can be parcelled off into bits as self-contained homes. A key, in working-class circles, is a symbol. In my Division, the people who have put up billetees have shown great patience in many cases, and a great deal of understanding. The billetees have shown an equal amount of restraint, and have with some degree of cheerfulness accepted most trying conditions, but sooner or later there comes the clash. If they use the same kitchen, the same bath- 886 room, the same hall and there is one door for four families, I predict confidently, unless they are a company of archangels, that there will be disaster within three months.
May I use my remaining five minutes to make one or two remarks about public health? The right hon. Gentleman was questioned by the hon. Member for Gorbals about the communication between the Port Authority and the medical officer in Glasgow in connection with this smallpox outbreak. I plead with him most earnestly to make an emphatic and clear declaration on this subject to-day, for although the people of Glasgow and Clydeside have behaved most splendidly in the face of this epidemic—they have queued up in an orderly fashion to be vaccinated, having had plenty of experience of queueing—in the queues and in the shops, for some reason that I cannot put my finger on, there are rumours of a lack of liaison between the Port Authority and the local medical officer. One newspaper has published a story which I did not think was in line with the ordinary responsibility of that newspaper; I have heard it from a medico who had been vaccinating, and I have heard it repeated here in this House. It is being told in the streets of Glasgow that the ship's signal, "Smallpox on board," was read as "Small boxes on board."
§ Mr. Johnston
The hon. Member might oblige by not giving that story credence, or further currency. The one case that was on board when the ship arrived was not known to be a case of smallpox at all. It was not reported at the time, and it was only after the Port Medical Officer had examined the man that it was discovered to be smallpox.
I do not think it is proper for the Secretary of State to ask me not to give credence to the story. I said quite clearly to everyone who spoke to me about it that it was utter nonsense, because ships do not signal in that way. It was not a telephonic confusion. I mention the incident because I think that the Secretary of State ought to make a plain declaration and stop the rumouring which is going on.
In conclusion, I would like to refer to the Clyde Basin scheme. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman most earnestly on the effort and the address which he 887 has displayed in this problem. Therefore, he will not think me offhand if I say that I am a little disappointed in the comparatively small return from this scheme. There are some 600 people who have been handed over from the doctors to the specialists, and about half of that number have gone to hospital. The Secretary of State must ask himself why so small a number of people have responded to the scheme. He inferred, and I think would admit, that the people he hoped most to benefit from this scheme were the potential sufferers from tuberculosis.
§ Mr. Johnston indicated dissent.
The Secretary of State shakes his head, and he may have more information, but we know that one of the most difficult types of illness to discover, and certainly one of the most common, is the tuberculous patient between the ages of 15 and 25. I want to suggest to the Secretary of State that he is unreasonable if he hopes to get a large number of that type of young person to volunteer for treatment as long as this other condition obtains, over which I admit the Secretary of State has no direct control, namely, the fear on the part of the person who knows he is unwell that if he is certified as suffering from tuberculosis he will get only 18s. a week under the National Health Insurance. I need not elaborate this point, it is so obvious, but I am certain the right hon. Gentleman and his Parliamentary Secretary appreciate that it is real and un-escapable, and that unless it is tackled the community will not get the full dividend of improved health from this most bold and attractive scheme which has been developed in the Clyde Basin.
May I make this point finally as a corollary? With regard to the rehabilitation scheme of the Ministry of Labour, could I ask for there to be included within it the tuberculosis patients who have come from us? The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that he was trying to arrange a change of employment for that type of patient. Sometimes change of employment is not the most desirable thing. In present conditions you may have a skilled engineer who is of value to the community and whom you do not want to change his employment. Perhaps after being six months in hospital and costing the com- 888 munity £120 for his treatment he comes out to find himself on 50 per cent. National Health Insurance plus any arrangement he can make with his local authority. He knows that he should have two months' unemployment, and several months' part-time employment to complete his treatment, but he cannot do it on the present scale. I suggest that he could come within this rehabilitation scheme so that he could accept part-time employment, and could have the rest subsidised in the same way as you will subsidise the rehabilitated patient who loses a leg or an arm.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
My reason for intervening is that of the hon. Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Snadden), that the Debate so far has almost entirely represented conditions in industrial rather than in rural areas of Scotland. In connection with housing, I would like to reinforce what the hon. Member for Perth and Kinross said about water supply. It is a subject related to health and housing and is one of the most important, and one in which we are most backward in North Scotland. Can we be given any assurance in connection with this aspect of housing and health? I do not intend to join in the rather amazing attack made upon the right hon. Gentleman to-day. I shall not go further than to say that there is very little to show that in his comparatively short tenure of his present office he is responsible for the deterioration in Scottish education. There were other criticisms aimed less directly at him by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) in the form of questions rather than direct criticism.
§ Mr. Lindsay
May I explain that I was asking for an inquiry into certain aspects of Scottish administration, and I was asking for answers to certain questions?
§ Mr. MacMillan
The enthusiastic support which the hon. Member gave to the main attack led me to suppose that he was on that side rather than the other. The hon. Member for Coatbridge (Mr. Barr) referred to the happy grouping of the subjects of health and education. The ex-Secretary of State, the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) referred then to the use of soap and water as preventive methods and health measures. Mark Twain's aphorism summed it up: 889Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.I think that that grouping of the Estimates is not altogether on accident. I associate myself very directly with the Secretary of State's policy.
I have great faith in the Secretary of State's perception of the truth of that relation of education to health. I for one support him on what everyone in Scotland recognises to be a very progressive policy on both health and education. Everyone in Scotland is with him in his policy of expanding the health and educational facilities jointly. That is the right sequence and the way in which to consider these subjects and to relate them. He has made and is making an effort, which I think will be successful, to establish permanently an irreducible minimum of children's rights—an extremely important thing. If he can achieve that, it will go a great way towards consolidating the policy which he has announced and has again outlined to-day. I am sure that everybody in Scotland will welcome that statement. Various criticisms have been made of the content of our education and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock strongly that we would like to see it so revised that it will no longer be a mere accumulating of facts leading directly to the passing of examinations for academic purposes; but rather the equipment for citizenship and the service of the nation and of the world. We have to look not only to the national good nowadays but to the service of the world state as well.
I agree with those who have said that teachers are, within these limitations imposed upon them, an efficient and hardworking body of people. Too many criticisms are levelled at them which ought to be levelled at the faulty system to which they are just as much tied as other people are tied by other professions. A startling set of figures was given from the Students Christian Movement, that 70 per cent. of young people leave school at 14. If Scottish figures compare as usual with English figures as I am afraid they do, then the Scottish percentage must be more. Along with that you have the effects of war and in the mining areas of Lanarkshire, for example, you see a further serious war-time effect on the top 890 of that, which it will take a long time to make up after the war. I do not think that it can be made up during the war. Regarding the length of the school day, I do not like the assumption that children of 5, 7, or 16 can assimilate the same amount, possess equal endurance and work under the same strain of sitting and giving attention for perhaps six hours a day m more or less the same environment. It would be an excellent thing if we could get them out, especially the younger children, rather earlier, not necessarily to send them home to be a further burden and worry to probably over-worked parents but to put them under the guidance of school and teach them citizenship and local knowledge.
I would like the Secretary of State to emphasise in his reform work the value of teaching map and compass reading and field work, things which many of us have had to learn in a hurry on going into the Army. Many of these subjects could be taught very pleasantly with the local background and you could get the children out into the fresh air. I would also like to see the Secretary of State do something more in connection with the teaching of economic history, and I would ask him if possible to take certain parts of his own history of the working classes in Scotland and give junior digests for use in schools. It would be an excellent thing on a subject much connected with Scottish education. The proposed teaching of American history will be a step forward. Can he also help us to revise the Scottish curriculum so as to introduce the teaching of modern Russian history—not the bitter bilge such as has been inculcated in the children of this generation in connection with Russia, but the genuine teaching of Russian history on the model of the teaching of the history of the United States of America.
This teaching of understanding of our Allies would play an extremely important part in post-war understanding. Also, in that connection, the teaching of economic geography is important. I do not at all favour the extension of the "privilege" of attending the public schools, as was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart). I think his whole outlook lent itself to snobbery, in spite of himself. I think we should be very glad to be rid of such a system in Scotland. People enjoy these 891 privileges without necessarily having the capacity for the offices to which their privileged position leads them.
In connection with my own constituency I would like to ask my right hon. Friend whether he would consider most seriously the need for introducing some teaching of subjects like navigation, agriculture, scientific soil fertility improvement and cultivation, weaving, home-crafts and things related to the actual life of the people in the countryside? I think that is extremely important to us. Many in the Western Isles would favour a central school or an institution for the teaching of such practical subjects. It is long overdue. We must not simply have regard to academic teaching; education must also be related to teaching people their own jobs in their own environment. We can do nothing but support my right hon. Friend and indeed I do not think anyone has failed to support him in his policy of a balanced diet for school children. His nutritional policy is inevitably linked up with reforms in education and he will have the support of this House in forcing home his policy on local authorities to ensure for children the advantages which he desires for them. There must be the right foundation for childhood; but I would like to ask whether we have considered sufficiently the question of the over 14's, the growing citizens of to-morrow, not simply as appendages to their families or dependants on their parents, but as prospective citizens of to-morrow, the people who will have to take responsibility after the war, in the rebuilding of Scotland.
I think in that connection the question of family allowances without the stigma of any means test, should seriously be considered. So far as I am aware it will have the support of all the Scottish Members. Moreover, I think we in Scotland could give a lead to the world in respect of university education in helping students to go through their universities or technical colleges without the continually haunting embarassment of lack of finance and means. I know widows and crofters in the Western Isles who have sent their children across to the mainland to universities and who have been constantly nagged by the fear of not being able to see their sons and daughters finish their courses because they could not collect, 892 borrow or furnish the money for the children. We should help these students to continue to the point where they are professionally matured and equipped citizens of the country. I ask my right hon. Friend earnestly to consider that question. It is a degrading experience for a Member of Parliament to have to go to private charities of all kinds in order to get help to enable the students to pass through their courses at the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. I do not see why the subsidisation of education for citizenship should stop at the age of 14. I have made some suggestions which, I hope, have been of a constructive character. I have no criticism to offer of the speech of the Secretary of State. It was very much to the point and most constructive, as I think his policy is also. I hope that no merely destructive criticisms will be made which will in any way impede him in putting forward the most progressive and generally favoured policy on education and public health with which the House has yet been presented.
§ Mr. T. Henderson (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I am very much interested in the housing conditions of the people in our country, and I have listened to most of the Debate, but I have not heard any speech that will help the Secretary of State for Scotland to solve the problem of housebuilding when the war is over. You may get the sites, the roads and the sewers, but from where will you get the building operatives to carry out a great programme when the war is finished? During the war, the trade unions, and the engineers in particular, have agreed to dilution, the handing over of membership to men who have not served the necessary years of apprenticeship. They have made all sorts of sacrifices, at the request of the Government, for the purpose of helping to win the war. We can solve the housing problem only if we consider that we are at war with poverty and bad housing conditions, and we must apply to the organised building workers the same policy as has been applied to the engineers.
What has been done? There is a Consultative Committee. I know of no report made by that Committee that will help the Secretary of State or Members of Parliament in the solution of the housing problem. I want to make a suggestion. 893 When this war finishes, we shall be faced with the same problem as faced us prior to the war. It was a shortage of labour, a shortage of building operatives, that kept us from building working-class houses in our country. How are we to deal with the matter? I thought that some of my trade union colleagues would say a word or two about this aspect of the question, but they have not done so Therefore, I will make a suggestion. The bricklayers' union is a close corporation. I do not know whether the Department of State which deals with building has any power to act in Scotland, but the head of that Department, at least in this House, is a well-known member of the bricklayers' union. It is not likely that the Secretary of State will get any help from him. Do not hon. Members think that if a man has carried a hod for five, 10 or 15 years he is able, after that time, to lay a brick? Why the Prime Minister himself laid bricks to the satisfaction almost of the bricklayers' union. I am quite serious about this.
Do the Government not think that a bricklayer's labourer, with all that experience, could do all the internal bricklaying required in the average working-class house? Do they not think that a slater can do at least 25 per cent. of the plastering work in our country, leaving the plasterers to do the enormous amount of work which is waiting for them? That is the only way in which this problem can be solved. There are plenty of carpenters. The Government can have them at any time. We produce plenty of carpenters from our technical schools, because that is a nice clean trade, but we do not produce bricklayers and plasterers. It is not only a question of more bricklayers and more plasterers, but of something else. I do not pretend to know as much about it as my hon. Friend. He is a journalist, and I am a building craftsman. I am willing, therefore, to allow that his knowledge must be a great deal better than mine, because a man who has had nothing to do with it knows less—at least, that is my experience in this House.
My advice to the Under-Secretary is not to trouble too much about these abominations in houses. The people of Scotland deserve to live in the best houses which can be built. There are plenty of materials, if the Government take the trouble to see that they are properly 894 produced. I wonder when a census was taken of the stone-quarries in Scotland. Would it not be possible to take a census of the stone-quarries which are nearest to the big industrial centres? We are spending £11,000,000 a day to destroy life; cannot we spend a few pounds to find new methods for dressing stone for building purposes? That is the only way in which we shall solve this problem and have a good house-building policy. Get the workers at war against poverty and bad housing. They can give the Government the men, providing they realise that their fellow workmen have as much right to live under good conditions as they. I hope that the Under-Secretary, who knows a lot about housing, will be able to tell us what the Committee have done. I knew they have done nothing; perhaps he will tell us what he knows.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
We have almost reached the end of what I believe has been one of the longest Debates on Scottish Supply. It is a Debate, I am sure every Member of the Committee will agree, which has not lacked in interest from the moment it was opened by my right hon. Friend to the last speech which has just been delivered, and in which most helpful and useful suggestions and considerations have been brought to our notice. If I omit any points that have been raised in detail affecting Members' constituencies, I will do my best to see that appropriate replies are sent to them. The spirit of the Debate has been typical of the spirit which animated the Secretary of State when he set up his Council of State. It was to endeavour to get advice and guidance, irrespective of the political views of those who make up the Council of State, for the purpose of enabling us to face Scotland's problems and try to solve them in Scotland's interest. I think that spirit has been imported into the Debate, because, irrespective of political views of Members on all sides, there has been an honest and earnest endeavour to give advice and to make suggestions with only one object in view, not to gain political advantage for any particular party or individual, but with the sincere desire to help Scotland in the problems she has to face.
The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) asked how many meetings of the Council of State had been held. There 895 have been eight, the last as recently as 22nd June. There have not only been meetings of the Council of State, but there have been regular meetings of Members coming from Scotland, representing all parties and various parts of Scotland, and the next meeting will complete the number necessary to bring the whole of the Members into contact with the Scottish Office and with other Government Departments for the second time.
I propose to deal first of all with the problems which have been raised with regard to housing. It has been suggested that we might have a survey of the possibilities of the raw materials which could be provided from West Lothian and the shale fields. Some years ago shale was used for the manufacture of special cement bricks and partition blocks. Technical difficulties, however, were encountered, there was not a large market for the bricks, and their manufacture was discontinued. But I understand that shale has been used in West Lothian for the manufacture of special composition bricks. A committee which has been set up, which will have a remit from the Secretary of State to consider and advise on a multitude of problems associated with the construction of houses and to try and solve Scotland's housing problems, will certainly look into the possibility of using shale for the manufacture of ordinary kiln-burnt composition bricks.
Another point raised was the possibility of county councils being encouraged to plan on a regional basis, and also to prepare their plans for dealing with the problem of housing. Planning work is at present being carried out by Scottish local authorities in the preliminary task of a fact-finding nature. This will provide a general background of information about the present houses, the land and the visible characteristics bearing on its possible future use which will enable local authorities to plan intelligently and well. The local authorities are not yet ready to prepare actual planning schemes, but I can assure the Committee and those Members who particularly drew attention to this point that when this stage is reached all planning authorities will be strongly encouraged to combine in the preparation of regional planning schemes. An interesting point was brought to the notice of the Committee by the hon. Member for 896 Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay), and he gave us a fine picture of what would have happened or could happen if we had gone in for the standardisation of bricks that was suggested. All I can say is that the useful table of figures submitted to the Committee will be brought to the attention of the Minister of Works and Planning so that he may have an, opportunity of considering all the implications of the standardisation of bricks. I had better make it clear that as far as Scotland is concerned we were determined to keep clear of that proposal and it proceeded no further.
I was asked what had happened to the Housing (Rural Authorities) Act, 1931—a pertinent question which was put by the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire. This Act was passed in the summer of 1931, and it provided for an extra subsidy for houses in rural areas to be added to the ordinary housing subsidies that were being provided under the 1924 Act. The Wheatley subsidy, as it is referred to in housing in Scotland and in England, was £9 in burghs and £12 10s. in rural areas. The extra subsidy under the 1931 Act was a variable one, and likewise a valuable one, ranging from £2, 15s. in East Lothian to £12 in Shetlands. For Scotland as a whole the average increase on the Wheatley subsidy was about £7. The Act was just beginning to operate when there was an alleged financial crisis. I say "alleged" because I do not admit all the things that were said in connection with that crisis of 1931, even from this Box. The Act was just beginning to operate when there was the alleged financial crisis, and I have a faint recollection that there was a change of Government. The new Government decided that the 1931 Act subsidy should be paid for only 500 houses and that thereafter the Act would cease to operate. It is probably true, as the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire stated, that someone forgot to thank the committee of which he was a member.
§ Mr. Westwood
I am not responsible for the lack of thanks or the failure to provide O.B.Es. I am merely stating what happened at that time. Another Act which was placed on the Statute Book in 1938 provided a generous subsidy for houses for agricultural workers. The new subsidies under that Act ranged from 897 £10 10s. to £15 per house, with a higher subsidy for remote areas. I want it to be noted, however, that only two houses were completed under the 1938 Act, the reason for this being the outbreak of war.
Several Members have stressed the need for continuity of policy in dealing with housing. I entirely agree with that suggestion. I have had some little experience as a convener of housing, and one of my real difficulties has been that if a new Act was in the offing and a local authority thought it would get a better bargain than under the existing legislation, it always delayed housing. In many instances—and it is as well to face the facts—local authorities were not very anxious to help the central authority, and any excuse was good enough to avoid getting on with the job. Therefore, continuity of policy is absolutely essential if we are to make a success of any post-war planning in houses. I think I can say on behalf of the Secretary of State that he fully recognises that there must be continuity after the war if we are to cope with the housing problem. The local authorities must know where they stand in the matter of subsidies, and, as pointed out by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. T. Henderson), the building-trade workers who can give us those houses equally want to know what their position will be. In having continuity we shall require to know what the subsidies will be and the number of building-trade workers available.
A question was asked as to the number of houses that had been built in Glasgow out of the 27,960 houses built since the war began. The Glasgow Corporation has built 2,480, and 205 have been built by private enterprise, a total of 2,685. I want this Committee to know, because I am sure that if I do not draw their attention to it, the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire will draw my attention to it, that of the 2,480 houses built by the Glasgow Corporation 323 are in the Penilee scheme and are not directly relieving the housing shortage in Glasgow.
§ Mr. Westwood
I was trying to point that out. I gave the numbers built by private enterprise and have given the total figure of the houses built in Glasgow.
§ Mr. Stephen
The figures mean that whereas Glasgow should proportionately have had about 7,000 houses, it has had only about 2,500.
§ Mr. Westwood
I do not want to be drawn into that question. I have given the position so far as Glasgow is concerned. The hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Wedderburn), in a most helpful and useful speech, said that Scotland's housing problem is an especially acute one and should be considered separately and not merely as part of the country's post-war building problem. I think this Committee, irrespective of nationalities and apart altogether from parties, will agree that the housing problems of Scotland are far greater than those of England and that the position respecting overcrowding and unfit houses is worse than in England, so that they expect to get the whole-hearted support of the House, not merely from Members from Scotland irrespective of party, but of Members of this House irrespective of whether they represent Scottish, English, Welsh or Irish constituencies, to enable them to obtain priority for Scotland in dealing with this particular post-war problem. I assure the hon. Member that the Secretary of State is fully alive to this matter and that the points mentioned by him, namely, the supply of timber houses from Canada and Sweden and the measures to be taken for obtaining building labour materials for housing in Scotland, are being kept prominently and continuously in mind.
I think the hon. Members for Dumbartonshire and Camlachie both raised questions about the responsibilities of the work of the Ministry of Works and Planning in Scotland, with special relation to housing. I can say most emphatically and definitely that the Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for housing in Scotland and that that is not a problem which comes within the purview of the Ministry of Works and Buildings. We have at least tried to keep our end up there.
§ Mr. McKinlay
The Ministry deals with planning, but planning does not consist only of the building of houses, if you take the Minister's own connotation. We want to know more about it.
§ Mr. Westwood
All I can say is that the planning Bill will not apply to Scotland. 899 Over the portals of the Ministry of Works and Buildings there are two different titles. In England the title is "Ministry of Works and Planning" and in Scotland it is "Ministry of Works and Buildings." The Ministry have nothing whatever to do with the planning of Scotland. That is a matter which we have reserved for the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Scottish Office and the officials who guide us in such problems.
§ Mr. Maxton
Are the Scottish staff of the Ministry of Works and Buildings housed in the Scottish Office, or separately?
§ Mr. Westwood
I have no knowledge of it, unless they surreptitiously arrived there last night. I assure the hon. Member that to the best of my knowledge they are not housed in St. Andrew's House.
§ Mr. Westwood
I have not the slightest idea whether they have been lost in transit or not, and I am not worrying at the moment.
I am sorry to interrupt this elaborate joke, but surely the Under-Secretary of State is not solemnly telling this Committee that he does not know the whereabouts of the staff of the Ministry of Works in Scotland.
§ Mr. Westwood
I am saying without any hesitation, and I have never attempted to mislead the Committee, that I have not worried about it. No doubt the staff will have offices in different parts. It does not come within my Department, and I am sure that if I attempted to deal with the matter you, Colonel Clifton Brown, would rule me out of Order, because it does not come within these Estimates.
It was suggested by the hon. Member for Inverness (Sir M. MacDonald) that a possible check on building costs would help us in dealing with housing and that it might be possible to set up a public corporation to build houses and to keep down monopoly prices against the community, such as happened after the last war. We have a Special Housing Association in Scotland which can effectively carry out that type of work which the hon. Member had in mind. Many other 900 points have been raised in connection with housing. For instance, it was suggested that it might be possible to retain the building labour which completed the 27,000 houses built since the war started. All I can say in that connection is that some building labour has been taken into the Army, some has had to be transferred to war works, munition factories, aerodromes and so on, but about 7,500 houses are still being built. The Secretary of State gave those figures in his opening statement, and we are doing all we can to retain labour and to get materials for those houses.
§ Mr. Westwood
That point was raised earlier by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan)—and I am trying to take points as I have them—who suggested that we could not wait until after the war to deal with this problem. I can assure the hon. Member and this Committee that that is exactly the view of the Secretary of State and myself. Wherever we can get houses built under existing conditions with the labour and materials available, we believe that we have to do our best—and we are doing our best—to get the maximum number of houses built. I have pointed out the limiting factors, but we entirely agree with those who have suggested that this is a problem which cannot wait until after the war. The problem is so great that wherever we can get work done we are determined it shall be done, keeping in mind, as I have already pointed out, all the limitations and obstacles which stand in the way.
§ Mr. Buchanan
All that you are doing at the moment in Glasgow at least is finishing off a comparatively few houses; you are building nothing new. I implore the Secretary of State for Scotland to see whether it is not possible to get on with the building of completely new houses with what is already there in labour and materials. I know of the most horrible cases in that city. I do not ask too much in the middle of a war, but I do ask that an effort should be made to build something new, and not merely finish off what has already been started.
§ Mr. Westwood
All I can promise is that we will do all we can. I think the hon. 901 Member has put it quite fairly. He is not asking us to do the impossible, but what we can do will be done, and it would be unfair to the Committee if I did not point out, as I have already done, the limitations which stand in the way. What can be done, within the powers we have and keeping in mind those obstacles which stand in the way, will be done.
I have tried briefly to deal with the housing problem. The Secretary of State has done me the honour of inviting me to act as Chairman of the re-constituted Advisory Committee on Housing that is to be set up. It is a problem which will require the most careful consideration on the part of every member of the Committee, and I for one am perfectly sure that the same whole-hearted co-operation as has been given to the Secretary of State by the ex-Secretaries of State in dealing with Scotland's problems will be extended to me, irrespective of the political views of those who will compose that Committee, in what will be one of the greatest tasks of my life, to which I will honestly devote my services and any little ability and knowledge that I have. Just as I have given them in the past in connection with education, so I will endeavour to give them in connection with Scotland's housing problems, with only one aim and object in view, and that is to try and have a high enough target of houses per year to be built, to get designs which will be acceptable to the people of Scotland; and to use any kind of material for the purpose of helping to solve the problems of overcrowding and unfit houses in which our people are living at the present time, and to try and make Scotland a healthier and happier place than it is at the moment. So much then for housing.
Other points have been raised in connection with the health services. For instance, I was asked to give details as to the local authorities, or the doctors in the areas of local authorities who had refused to work under these schemes for maternity benefit. There is no scheme in operation, for instance, in Argyle, but a meeting has been arranged with the doctors with a view to trying to get an arrangement there. All the doctors in Dumbartonshire except those in Helensburgh, have agreed to work the scheme. In Orkney County, where the scheme is not yet operating, meetings are now being held between 902 officers of the Department and the doctors concerned. In Selkirk County the doctors have refused, but the matter is being taken up by a doctor with the British Medical Association. Meetings with the doctors have been arranged, though the scheme is not yet operating, in the areas I shall now mention—Ayr Burghs, Dundee Burgh and Kirkcaldy Burgh. In Clydebank Burgh a scheme is now in operation although only two doctors have agreed to give their services. In the main the doctors have tried to come into the scheme. There are these areas where up to the present time we have not been able to bring them into the scheme and make the scheme work. Dumfries County has a scheme which is not yet submitted. In Dumfries Burgh the scheme is not in operation, and from the City of Edinburgh we have had a scheme submitted in draft. So far as Glasgow is concerned, they have been allowed to postpone the coming into operation of this scheme until December, 1942. I think it was a statement of fact which was made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers), and was not based on the report of the Secretary of State but on a report submitted to the Secretary of State which gives us the facts in connection with these questions.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Surely the doctors are not to be blamed because the scheme is not to be put into operation in Glasgow before a certain date?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am not apportioning blame. I am saying that, due to the action of certain doctors in refusing to work in these schemes, those schemes are not in operation and that we are doing our best to get the schemes into operation.
§ Mr. Maxton
The medical profession in Scotland are not an ill-set body of men, and if there are objections to doing a particular job they are asked to do, they have some good reason for it. Surely the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary will try to meet the difficulty.
§ Mr. Westwood
I am now informed that the arrangement was made with the British Medical Association, but that some local branches of the British Medical 903 Association are refusing to accept the terms which had been arranged by the parent body.
§ Dr. Morgan (Rochdale)
Does that mean that the arrangement was made with the local secretary in Scotland or with the central body?
§ Mr. Westwood
I understand that it was made with the central body, and that some local associations have refused to accept the arrangements made with the British Medical Association. A particular point was stressed by some hon. Members as to the Civil Nursing Reserve. Nearly 5,000 members of the Civil Nursing Reserve are now employed in hospitals. They consist of 1,240 trained nurses, 760 assistant nurses, and 2,780 nursing auxiliaries—a total of approximately 4,700. Most of them are employed in the new and extended hospitals, but the Civil Nursing Reserve has given, and is giving, help in many other types of hospital. Recruits for training as nursing auxiliaries continue to come forward. Nursing auxiliaries are now trained in special training centres at two of the large emergency hospitals. They are given three weeks intensive training and are then placed in hospitals. The point raised by two or three Members was that the best way of solving this particular problem was to offer decent conditions of labour and decent salaries to the nursing profession. Towards that end a committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Professor T. M. Taylor, of Aberdeen University, to draw up an agreed scale of salaries and emoluments for State registered nurses employed in Scotland in hospitals and in the public health service, including the district nursing service, and for student nurses employed in hospitals approved as training centres by the General Nursing Council for Scotland. The scope of the committee's remit has been extended to include the salaries and emoluments of midwives, health visitors, school nurses and tuberculosis visitors. The committee were also told that "emoluments" covered conditions of service, such as hours of work, length of holidays and the interchange-ability of pensions. A grant to cover part of the cost of any increased expenditure on nurses' salaries is to be paid to hospital authorities. We are awaiting the report of that committee. That is the main 904 point with which I wanted to deal as far as the Department is concerned on the health services.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The Committee is anxious to know whether there is a shortage of nurses for the tuberculosis hospitals and whether that shortage is confined to the department dealing with tuberculosis, or is it an over-all shortage covering all the nursing services in Scotland?
§ Mr. Westwood
I am glad that that point has been put by the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot). There is a shortage, as far as nursing T.B. patients is concerned, of approximately 200 nurses. As he knows, with his wide experience of administration and of dealing with these particular problems, all kind of obstacles stand in the way and we have a real difficulty in recruiting the personnel necessary.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
There is not an over-all shortage. Certain other branches are adequately staffed. If you take in the reserve figures, you have a surplus, and if you added all the nurses and staffed all the beds, you would in fact have an adequate supply of nurses.
§ Mr. Westwood
I am neither going to admit nor refute the point made by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I cannot off-hand say whether there is really an adequate supply of nurses for all our services. I know from the information at my disposal, which I am giving to the Committee, that we are still recruiting to get the maximum number of nurses necessary to deal not merely with T.B. cases, but with the whole problem associated with this work as far as Scotland is concerned. I shall endeavour to provide an accurate answer for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman later by correspondence.
So much for the health part of the Debate. Several questions have been raised in connection with education. A point was raised in connection with secondary education in Aberdeen by the hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Garro Jones), and it is a matter in which there is a possibility of some adjustment, and we shall certainly pursue the points specially raised by the hon. Member. The Secretary of State will be anxious to get the 905 details from the hon. Member as to the alternative accommodation available in the City of Aberdeen so as to enable them once again to set free for educational purposes the secondary school which is occupied at the present time for purposes other than education.
Then a point was raised about a war bonus for teachers. The National Joint Council which dealt with the salaries of teachers in Scotland and which is a body representative of teachers and education authorities, with directors of education authorities as assessors—and is an advisory statutory body whose recommendations are not binding on the parties concerned—resolved that education authorities should be recommended to grant a war increase to their employees. I want to make this comment. I have always believed in negotiation between employers and employees and I have always believed in those negotiations being carried through by the organisations of employers and employees. The local education authorities in Scotland who are members of that National Joint Council are morally, although not legally, compelled to accept the decision of the body of which they are members. I have no sympathy whatever with a local authority which enters into an association and then refuses to accept the majority decisions of the association of which it is a member. I sincerely hope that as a result of the conference which is to be held in the very near future these recalcitrant authorities will be brought into line.
A question was raised about the supply of teachers. In order to safeguard future supply, special arrangements are being made for women students who are within the scope of the National Service Acts or the Registration for Employment Order. These arrangements I may summarise as follow: Women students will be allowed to remain at universities and training colleges until the end of the academic year in which they reach the age of 20. Women intending to be teachers and already at a university or training college, or who intend to enter in the autumn of this year, will be allowed to complete their course of study. A woman who has graduated will be allowed to take a course of professional training lasting not more than one year and a woman who has obtained a teaching appointment within three months after completing her course 906 of training will not be withdrawn from school. We are dealing with a war problem and are doing our best to meet what will be an urgent need in dealing with the problem of education in post-war years. Several hon. Members raised the question of fundamental changes in education and asked what steps are being taken. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock asked about the Scottish Advisory Council on Education which, he said, has not met for a long time. Well, in the near future we are reconstituting the Advisory Council to make it possible for them to give remits on the same lines as the Housing Advisory Committee.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Would the Secretary of State consider allowing the Council to remit themselves and not only take their cue from him?
§ Mr. Westwood
All I can say is that consideration will be given to the hon. Member's suggestion. That is the purpose of this Debate. It has been on the level of a Council of State, and all suggestions made by hon. Members will receive consideration. I merely point out what is the position. The Advisory Council is to be reconstituted, and possibly—this is my own view—one of the remits for consideration might be the problem of local administration. I do not know whether the Advisory Council will be the competent body to consider such a problem, but no hon. Member can accuse either the Secretary of State or me of having been parties to the handing over of education to the county councils. We opposed that as long as we could. Now we have to work the machine which Parliament set up and try to make it as successful as possible in dealing with educational matters. [Interruption.] All I say is that these are matters that will be remitted for consideration by the Advisory Council when it is reconstituted.
I will deal now with two or three points that were raised by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. If there are any points with which I do not deal, it is not because I want to avoid dealing with them, but because I would prefer to give later a carefully considered reply. Every point raised will be dealt with. With regard to war-time nurseries, the problem in Scotland is different from that in England. We have sometimes had disappointments because of unexpected difficulties in deal- 907 ing with war-time nurseries. In England, in many instances, pre-fabricated huts have been rushed up. We had to determine whether that type of housing for our war-time nurseries was suitable or not in Scotland, and we came to the conclusion that it was not suitable, owing to climatic conditions, and that it would be far better to use bricks for the war-time nurseries we were building, so that when peace comes they can be turned to other useful purposes.
§ Mr. Buchanan
What about concrete? I must confess that some of the buildings for war-time nurseries in England are not bad.
§ Mr. Westwood
I do not dispute that. We were not in favour of pre-fabricated huts, where it was possible to have more substantial buildings erected, because of the climatic conditions. True, this meant slower building, but it meant permanent building, not merely for dealing with this problem, but for dealing with some of the post-war problems. It has also been our experience that where we have set up nurseries they are not always being fully used by the parents. In one area—Dumfries, I believe—where two nurseries were built, one of them is only half filled, and naturally the local authority does not want to start using the second one until the first is fully occupied. Further, we have carried out surveys and found that in many cases, as a result of the "good-neighbour" policy, there is no real need for war-time nurseries. The children are being looked after by relatives and the mothers are going to work; and I suggest that in many cases—not in all cases—the children are being just as well looked after as they would be in war-time nurseries. The problems are different in Scotland, although I may mention that to-day 33 nurseries are open, 65 have been approved but are not yet ready, and about 40 more are being considered by local authorities. We expect a further 13 to be opened this month, another 15 in August and 18 in September.
Then there is the question of the Scottish Youth Committee, to which he made reference. It is true that we did not meet for eight months, and I think he gave an indication that he knew at least one of the main reasons for that. There were difficulties which had cropped up 908 respecting the functions of the Scottish Central Council of Juvenile Organisations and the Scottish Youth Committee. We tried to get these difficulties removed, and we tried to get some scheme which would work. Finally, we reconstituted the Scottish Youth Committee, but, although the Committee was not meeting during those eight months, that does not mean that the work had ceased so far as youth activities were concerned, because we were carrying on the work from the Department. I suggest that it was carried on most effectively, as hon. Members would see if we gave the full report, which I am prepared to provide to the hon. Member or any other hon. Member who is interested in the matter.
§ Mr. Westwood
A question was put about the circular which I suggested was to be sent out because of these difficulties, and because of the reorganisation which had taken place, and the carrying on of the functions of the Youth Committee entirely under the direction of the Education Department, instead of having them mixed up between the Home Department and the Education Department. There was some delay in the issuing of the circular, but arrangements for the local youth machinery and for that circular explaining this will be issued at an early date.
§ Mr. Lindsay
This is a very important question. Two months ago this circular was said to be coming. It is not that I care two pins about it, but local authorities do not know the model to set up. In Ayrshire, for instance, we have been going on for six months. I want to see this work started now, because, unless it is started in war-time, we shall not get it done. Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that it will be issued in the next month?
§ Mr. Westwood
I promise it will appear as speedily as possible. The hon. Member cannot tie me down to a month, but it will be issued as speedily as possible. I trust I have dealt with practically all the main points which have been raised, and again I give the Committee the assurance that any question which I have omitted will be carefully considered by the officials of my Department after they have read the record in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. Stephen
There is the big question about the Scottish Advisory Committee being in regular session.
§ Mr. Westwood
That is a matter which will receive consideration. I cannot give a reply now, and I am sure my hon. Friend does not expect me to do so. We are deeply grateful to every Member who has taken part in the Debate and to every Member who has given us useful and helpful advice and suggestions to enable us to carry through the work of the administration of Scotland in the interests of Scotland, to make Scotland a better place than it is at the present time.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"—[Captain McEwen]—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon the next Sitting Day.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.
§ It being after the hour appointed for the Adjournment of the House, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.