HC Deb 29 July 1943 vol 391 cc1825-928
The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)

I beg to move, That this House welcomes the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform, as evidenced in the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction. I could not help reflecting, as I listened to the description of feud and quarrel which we have just heard, that that atmosphere was more suited to the conditions which prevailed at the beginning of the century, when some of these great issues which we are considering to-day were debated. But my experience of these great issues, including the religious issue, has been quite different. The whole of my experience at the Board of Education in working with my collaborators, whether in the country or at Whitehall, has been that personal, sectarian and political feelings have been subordinated to the interests of the children. That is a very remarkable fact to recall. I trust that this House will continue to consider these vital questions in that same atmosphere. While we may all desire to put our own points of view, and while the procedure is calculated to help hon. Members to do so, let us also remember that we are engaged in no less a task than that of moulding the future of the young generation when fresh responsibilities, and heavy ones, are being laid upon our people. I am sure hon. Members will realise that I cannot do justice to this great subject in a hurry and that I shall have to go into some detail, despite the lateness of the hour.

First, however, I would like to pay a tribute not only to those who have collaborated with me outside, but also to those who have assisted me personally in the task, particularly my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary who will be winding up this Debate. I shall be describing in a minute or two the manner in which we propose to divide up the subject, so that I shall not detain the House too long. In all these education questions history has shown that there is a combination of the wisdom of administrators, who have always played a great part in formulating the plans, and that of the more ephemeral politicians or statesmen—whichever is the appropriate term—who may be there for the moment. The administrators with whom I have had to deal have maintained the high traditions of the Board, and their wisdom has been brought into the formulation of this plan.

In approaching the subject, I would like to deal with the question of recasting our full-time system of schooling, to consider how to adapt the dual system to the new conception, and to discuss the arrangements for making this plan work. I will then leave to my hon. Friend other vital questions, including those of the independent schools, which are to be inspected and registered—he himself presided over an inquiry on this matter in 1932—technical education and the great scheme of continuation.

Before I launch into a discussion of our system of full-time schooling and the manner in which it is proposed to recast it, let me describe the whole philosophy of the scheme, which will run through all I have to say. We shall retain in our system a diversity of choice, while attempting at the same time to fuse the parts and weld them into an organic whole. Coming to our system of full-time schooling, it seems to me very like a schoolboy's jacket. It has done wonderful service, and much maternal care has been lavished upon it, but there are certain signs that it is becoming out of date. The sleeves are running far up the arm. The tell-tale let-down of material will barely cover the expanse of anatomy allotted to it. Stains, rents, patches and tears appear in various parts, and the shine on the nap makes one reflect on the need for change. It is not surprising, since the tailoring of this particular jacket was done in 1870, when our elementary system was designed to retain children in school up to the age of 10 years. The tailor—Forster—fortunately was a good man, and the material was exceedingly good with the result that when the Prime Minister—Mr. Balfour—in 1902 came to examine the garment he decided to adapt it, which he did with great skill, and he added a small extra garment. That was the beginning of our present system of secondary education. But even to-day less than 500,000 children are in the secondary system, and the capacity of the elementary system is strained to the utmost. Mr. Fisher's contribution, which has been recognised on all hands, was to stop half-time schooling and to carry the age up to 14, with other suggestions which the country has not seen fit to insist on being carried out. No attempts have been made in these years to alter the fundamental structure of our system, as I have described it, but an attempt has been made to regroup and reorganise the children into junior and senior departments, under what is known as the Hadow scheme, with the result that a start has been made in preventing children from being in all-age schools from the age of 5 to 14 with the consequent difficulty of supervision and the consequent need for age groups to be crowded into one class.

The Government now propose a radical reconstruction of the whole scheme. We propose that the system shall be so reorganised that over 11 years of age secondary opportunities of varying types shall be offered to all pupils according to their aptitude, and, if the choice at 11 is not satisfactory, there shall be a re-sorting up to the age of 13. Let me for a moment, in considering the successive stages which are now proposed in the system, consider the needs of the younger and infant children. There has always been a tendency to concentrate on children over 11—they seem to have been more fashionable. It is often forgotten that it is in the early ages that the foundations of good habits and good character are laid, and also of good learning, and the Government suggest, for the first time, that a duty shall be imposed upon authorities for the provision of nursery schools where they are needed from the age of 2 upwards; and there is no experiment, or shall I call it development, which the Government will watch with more interest than this particular one, which goes to the root of many of our social troubles and difficulties.

From the age of 5 schooling will be compulsory. I do not think I have had any greater anxiety in carrying out my responsibilities than in considering the needs of the infant and junior schools. It is here in many cases where the classes are very much overcrowded, and it is here that you get much of the neglect in regard to buildings, attention and the number of teachers necessary. Moreover, hanging over the whole of the junior world is the special-place examination, which we propose to do away with, so that in future a child may be selected according to its talent for the various different types and choices of secondary education which I propose to describe. The poor parent gets very little consideration in our education, and it is suggested that, although we shall not give way to the parents' belief that they think they know everything about their children and think they are the best children in the world—.

Viscountess Astor (Plymouth, Sutton)

Oh, no, they do not.

Mr. Butler

We shall try to bring them in to making the choice for the secondary opportunities which we propose to give to the children after the opinion of the teacher has been given. Coming to the secondary choices, they are, first, the new senior school as it is to be seen in various parts of the country and about which I shall be saying something; second, the ancient grammar school or the new secondary school education which has grown up and which we describe as secondary to-day; and, third, the junior technical school, of which there are far too few in this country. These choices were originally recommended by the Consultative Committee in their Report known as the Spens Report, and I would like to pay a tribute to the authors of that Report, for it is only to-day that we are inserting in our plans the outlines of the scheme which they recommended. I wondered, when I read the Spens Report, whether these choices were really a reality and whether we could in fact offer equivalent secondary opportunities to all children. But on going round the country and examining the schools in my official position, I have come to the conclusion that we can offer in this country secondary choices so adequate and varied that, in our own way and according to our own tradition, we shall be building a system of secondary education for all which will serve our purposes as a compact nation just as well as the high school system serves the purposes of the great American democracy.

The new senior schools, which I want to consider first, are the ones which will fit most easily into the system. The ones that I have seen, for example, in Lancashire or in the West Riding, indicate the type o/ opportunity which can be given to children, and I would say to those idealists who want to see more than one form of secondary education in the same school—sometimes called multilateral schools—that I hope more than one type of secondary education may from time to time be amalgamated under one roof and that we may judge from experiments what is the best arrangement. In running over the senior school provisions in this country, one has been struck by varying characteristics in various parts of the country. In Staffordshire, I was particularly interested by the facilities for practical handwork and domestic science. It is in these senior schools that one sees the substitution of a well-balanced regular daily meal for the wet sandwich which the pupil used to bring to school in the old days. One sees the consequent rise in the health and well-being of the children as a result of the development of this policy, which has increased by leaps and bounds over the last two years. We intend to drive forward so as to try to cover the large majority of the school population. In such rural counties as Somerset, or Suffolk, or Devonshire we see the beginnings of rural education being provided in these senior schools, and the teaching of the country way of life, which is very important to our people. May I say here that I am discussing the whole future of agricultural education with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, and to those who say that rural education was not sufficiently mentioned in the White Paper, I will give the assurance that I am pursuing these discussions and hope in due course to bring them to a successful conclusion from the point of view of the children.

There is another part of England where the senior school is exhibiting very interesting tendencies and that is in such districts as Middlesex or Surrey or in the neighbourhood of our great cities, where the secondary schools, as they will be, are providing for the needs of a closely-knit society. The result is that you are seeing, where the State provision is adequate, abandonment by the parents of the choice of the smaller private school. I have noticed, in going about Wales and on a visit to Scotland, that the parents arc accustomed to send their children to the State schools at an early date in their lives, and I anticipate that, as the State provision improves and as the trend of economic circumstances continues, that habit will grow all over the country as the result of the improvements that we are able to make.

Owing to the hour and also to the fact that I do not want to impose on the patience of hon. Members, I do not wish to make a special speech on Wales, but I would like the Principality to know that I have, as I have indicated by my interest in the Welsh language, a special interest in Welsh problems, and I trust that over this year as we are framing our plans every opportunity will be given for the development of the national self-expression of Wales within the framework of our education proposals. As it is, Wales has special features in the secondary sphere which are typified in the Welsh Intermediate Act, which was passed especially for the Principality. I trust that suggestions will be put to me this year from there in order that our plans may be made better.

Considering the various types of provision in the senior school, let us come to a consideration of the other forms of secondary education. What I have said of parents gradually taking advantage of the State provision leads me to ask what should be more natural than that we should follow up this development in British educational policy and make available free primary and secondary education in all schools maintained by the local authorities? Thus, all three types—senior, grammar, if I may describe it as such, and junior technical—will be equally accessible.

I come now to consider the second type of secondary school, the grammar school. I have heard on some sides that with the equalising and widening of opportunity a dull uniformity will creep over the whole of our school system. This is far from the intention of the Government. What I have said about diversity and the need for encouraging individuality applies as well to the secondary sphere and within the grammar school sphere, as it should apply everywhere else. It is the Government's desire to encourage the legitimate independence of the school as a unity so that the school has a school life and administration does not cramp down and destroy the personality of that life. Therefore, it is our intention that in secondary schools of all types, old and new, there shall be framed an instrument of government for such schools which will define the spheres of responsibility of the authority and the governors of the school. The old grammar schools were founded very often in periods of turmoil and strife in our history by eminent men and women who wished to pay a permanent tribute to the value of education in moments of adversity. They have been supplemented within the grammar school sphere by the new municipal and county provisions, started, as I described earlier, in 1902, which now provide more than half of the academic type of secondary education. This has been a splendid development, and these new secondary schools have revivified the traditions and enhanced the value of the secondary system.

It is desirable that there should be a proper measure of independence in all these types of secondary school, not only in regard to the administration, but also in regard to the thraldom of examinations. If you free yourself from too much administrative interference, it is no good at the same time subordinating your curriculum to the supposed needs of universities or business. That is what happens if you subordinate the whole of your curriculum to examinations imposed from outside. The Government, therefore, welcome the appearance of the Norwood Committee's Report, which will have careful consideration. While we are talking of changes, I trust that we may make other changes in the secondary world. Many grammar schools, towards the end of the 18th century, became non-local. That means that they provided boarding facilities, and it is the Government's desire that boarding facilities shall be provided by local authorities so that parents who for good reasons desire a residential education for their children may find the facilities available.

It only remains for me now to leave the sphere of the grammar school and come to the third type of secondary education suggested—the junior technical school, which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will describe later in more detail. I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that there are only 379 technical junior schools in the country at the present time. That figure is far too low, and it is our desire to see these junior technical schools as constellations surrounding the new technical colleges which we hope will be built up in our great cities and which will be the universities of industry. It is also intended that the junior technical schools will not confine themselves to a technical form of education but will also give a general education to their pupils.

The final picture of the secondary world, including the future of what are known as the direct grant schools, must await the Report of the Fleming Committee. When we have that Report we shall be able finally to take decisions which will give the House and the country a full picture of the various and varying secondary opportunities which will be linked up one with another and into which all pupils will have the right to pass.

This consideration of the secondary world leads me to consider for a few minutes the ancient and complicated problem of the dual system. In approaching it, I hope we shall be able to be inspired by the same philosophy that has so far animated my remarks, namely, that we should retain diversity while welding parts into an organic whole. I hope also that it will be remembered that the Churches were the pioneers of education and that they had a virtual monopoly before the State got going. In considering this ancient problem, I would like first of all to touch on the question of religious teaching. It is the Government's intention that the present practice in our schools shall be fostered and made to endure. I have purposely said "present practice," because it has been said that our schools are Godless and that our teachers are pagan. I indignantly repudiate any such suggestion. There is religious teaching over the length and breadth of this country, accompanied by forms of religious worship in schools, but, like many Debates in this House, the standard is uneven, and it is the Government's intention that this shall be put on a better basis. We have been encouraged in this matter by the development which has been taking place over the last seven years in the framing of what are known as agreed syllabuses of religious teaching. They are called "agreed," because the main denominations come together and frame them and reach agreement upon them with the teachers and the authorities. These syllabuses are widely used all over the country and are extremely successful. They include no distinctive doctrine or the tenets or formularies of particular creeds and do no violence to the Cowper-Temple Clause, which prohibits the teaching of doctrine in council schools. On this agreed basis the Government propose to deal with the question of religious teaching in the schools, supplementing it in the controlled schools, which are described in the White Paper, by two periods a week of trust deed teaching. In the aided schools, which remain free in this respect, religious teaching will be given at the discretion of the managers. These particulars are set out in full in the White Paper, but hon. Members may wish me to develop in a little more detail how this elaborate plan, which has been described by various journals as "ingenious," "Solomonic" and, occasionally, "statesmanlike," has come to be framed. I think I can do so because of the long experience of the negotiations in which I and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary have been engaged.

The position is as follows, and these are the facts with which we have to deal: Over one-half our schools are denominational--a figure which may cause surprise to many who do not realise the general nature of our educational position. It is on this sector of the front that reorganisation of the schools into senior and junior departments has proceeded most slowly. Without this reorganisation true secondary education cannot be provided for the senior children. You cannot give proper secondary education in all-age schools which have classes of pupils ranging from 5 to 15 years, or later when the school age is raised. Moreover, conditions in denominational schools are quite often bad, owing to the lack of funds. Whether in town or village, the conditions in the class- rooms, the recreative facilities and the sanitary conditions are often below standard.

Taking the educational needs of the country and the condition of these schools, let us look at the problem from the points of view of the various partners concerned. First, you have the point of view of the denominations, which desire more help to meet their new burdens and in general desire the continuance of the form of religious teaching to which they have been accustomed. The Free Churches, who own very few schools, retain their deeply felt grievance that their children in some areas, where there are no council schools, have to go to Church schools and thus live in an atmosphere, and be offered religious teaching, alien to their own beliefs. From the point of view of the Authorities in facing the present problem, they cannot fit the denominational schools into the appropriate provision for their area as educational necessity makes desirable, nor can they remove a redundant teacher from one council school to a denominational school, or even from one Church school to another. Looking at it from the point of view of teachers as servants of the public, they would prefer to be free from the denominational tests which condition their appointment to about half the schools—though the smaller ones—in our general provision. Therefore, from whatever way you approach this ancient and thorny question, you can see the various interests which have to be considered.

In the course of the protracted discussions it became clear that alternative "A," as set out in the White Paper, would commend a large measure of acceptance and would provide a give-and-take solution of our problems. Let me describe how the various interests have been met. The owners or proprietors of the schools coming under this alternative would find their burdens removed and a place for the teaching to which they attach particular importance. The Authorities would find an immediate easing of their administrative problems, the schools would be, as their name indicates, controlled by them, reorganisation could be proceeded with, and the school would form part of the picture or provision of education for their area. Teachers could be exchanged more freely, and, what is important, by making the headships of these schools a Council appointment, many posts would be free from those denominational tests to which I have referred. In this way the Free Churches would be reassured that their children were not obliged to attend a school which was the preserve of the Established Church.

It might well be imagined by hon. Members that at last there had been found a complete solution of the problem, because it would appear that the various interests were met, at any rate in the most important of their demands. It would appear that we could eliminate duality and that this solution would be universally applicable, but here, alas, we encounter a section of denominational opinion which has different views. They quite sincerely hold different views which it is the duty of this House to respect. These denominations are not confined to one faith. They believe that the children at their schools should be what I can best describe as "Church members," that the whole staff should be practising members of the body of the Church, so that children passing from class to class should never leave the atmosphere of the faith. Those for whom this solution would be imperative are not confined to Roman Catholics; there are many Anglicans as well. For these, for whom I have the greatest respect, a second alternative is suggested which proposes a more generous solution of the Church or denominational school problem than has ever been put forward before.

Under alternative "B" they are assured of a proportion of the sum for alterations, repairs and improvements, and they retain complete liberty of doctrine and conscience. But they say this, "When we have to fall back on this second alternative which you provide, we would like you to remember that we pay rates and taxes that help with the provision of all schools. Just because we will not take your agreed syllabus and are not content for some of our teachers to be freed from denominational tests, just because we want our children to live in school the life of our faith, why should we be penalised and why should not our building costs be met as fully as those of others." Here—and I think I would be interpreting the feelings of the House and the country if I am severely practical—I would like to say that I do not believe it is profane or wrong to say that the payment of the whole expenses of a denominational school must involve a measure of public control which would be irksome to the beliefs of those who cannot accept our first alternative. If we were to give 100 per cent. to the denominational schools without the accompanying conditions of control which I have described under alternative "A," what would we have done in this House? We should have met one point out of the catalogue of many. We should have met the need of the denominations for more money, but in no other respect should we have solved the dual system. We should rather have perpetuated it in toto and, what is more important, we should have alienated beyond recall certain partners in the field of education who are indispensable, namely, the authorities, the free Churches and the teachers. Therefore I have not been able to concede the full demand of those who desire complete liberty of conscience.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

What does the right hon. Gentleman really mean when he says that that does not solve the problem of the dual system? Is it the intention to try to get rid of that system?

Mr. Butler

No. The very fact that the dual system is being perpetuated should answer the hon. Member. We are continuing the dual system with the adaptations which I have been describing.

Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to explain why the Scottish scheme is not applicable in this case?

Mr. Butler

The reason is set out at such great length in the White Paper that I thought I had better not cover exactly the same ground but try to give as clear and homely a description of the problems as I could. [AN HON. MEMBER: "There are only two religions in Scotland."] That is the secret. The religious problem is quite different, and the proportion of Church schools is quite different in Scotland from what it is here.

I come to the next practical consideration which hon. Members will have in mind, and that is, to what extent will the first alternative be taken up? Of course, if it is not taken up, our attempt to get rid of some of the problems would be vain and otiose. That affects very much the judgment of hon. Members in deciding on the value of a scheme such as this. I can only say, without wishing to pledge any outside body or to exceed what I ought to say, that the Church Assembly of the Church of England has twice approved a scheme on the lines of that which I have put forward. Therefore I come to the House with a scheme which I consider will command a reasonable measure of acceptance. The Church of England has some 10,000 schools. If the majority of them ask for alternative A, we shall have taken a practical step forward to solve this problem without entering into any scheme involving the elaborate provisions and the transfer and purchase of the schools or special terms for one denomination or another which are the blemishes of any alternative scheme that has been put before me. In this solution, at the same time, under the second alternative, certain denominational schools, including those whose views I have referred to, will be able to continue as they are now on better terms than they have had before. I believe this plan has a good chance of working, but if we alter the balance, we shall risk upsetting the whole settlement.

I have naturally had to search my conscience, as responsible for the administration of education, as to whether denominations can manage on the basis of the second alternative, because one does not want to produce a plan which in the end will not work or will work to the disadvantage of the denominations. I realise the rise in costs with which the denominations are faced, and I have found to my hand a useful Measure in the 1936 Act passed by the Colonial Secretary. The proposals under that Act were rendered largely nugatory by the outbreak of war. It is now the Government's intention to revive all the proposals under that Act which were put in, without any qualifications as to the date by which they will have to be completed. It will be remembered that the grants under the 1936 Act were for the re-organisation of senior schools alone and that those grants amounted to not less than 50 per cent, and not more than 75 percent. But it will be realised what an immense help to the re-organisation of the schools and denominations the reintroduction of these proposals will be, particularly when it is remembered that re-organisation of the Church or denominational schools is one of the great problems which have to be solved to give children the secondary education that we wish to provide. Therefore it is decided that these proposals shall be introduced, and it is interesting to note that in the case of the Roman Catholic community alone, the proposals, including those under the Liverpool Act, amount to some 300 and it is our opinion that these will cover the great majority of the senior children of the Roman Catholic body who wish to be re-organised in senior schools. That confirms me in my belief that this will materially help both the Anglicans and the Roman Catholics in meeting the problems of re-organisation with which we are so clearly faced. I trust that the House will so far be with me that this is at any rate a plan which deserves consideration and has a. chance of working. I believe the extent of agreement which we have obtained for the plan is not likely to be exceeded by the production of any other plan, and I most conscientiously and sincerely recommend it to the attention of the House.

Now I want to discuss the question of timing. Anyone who studies educational history must be struck by the leisurely pace at which educational reforms often appear to have been pursued and the extent of the plans which fall by the way. Reorganisation initiated 17 years ago is only just about half completed. The system of part-time continued education introduced by Mr. Fisher in 1918 and passed by the House at that date is operating in only one district—Rugby—throughout the, length and breadth of the land. I should like to pay a tribute to the Warwickshire Authority and to the school at Rugby on the manner in which they have kept the flag flying. It, is now the Government's intention to introduce a system of continued education for all children released part-time from industry up to the age of 18. I therefore thought, and my colleagues in the Government agreed, that the best way to produce results this time would be to bring forward a comprehensive and thorough plan and to present the whole scheme, and then to enlist the aid of Parliament and the country in order to put it through.

Mr. Cove (Aberavon)

We are a little puzzled. The right hon. Gentleman has referred once or twice to explanations to be given by his hon. Friend. We are not quite clear about various items in the White Paper. I thought his hon. Friend was winding up the Debate. Is someone else going to explain further the provisions of the White Paper, or are we having it all from him?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member is going to get a great deal more from me yet. I am hoping to satisfy him, and I certainly wish to satisfy the House. Even though we are having a two days' Debate, I had not wished to occupy more than my allowance of time. The hon. Member will not be disappointed by what I am going to say now.

Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)

We do not know precisely whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to follow the whole of the White Paper. He has indicated that certain parts are going to be left to the Parliamentary Secretary. We want to know whether the Parliamentary Secretary is to follow him immediately or whether we shall only be discussing a portion of the Paper.

Mr. Butler

If I were to touch on every single point of the White Paper, I should be here the whole day. As there are certain aspects of it, particularly the question of the independent schools, with which my hon. Friend is very familiar, I think it will really be advisable to leave that to him. I shall be touching on most of the points, and my hon. Friend will supplement what I have to say at the end of the Debate. I do not think it would be in the interest of the House if we had more than two Ministers speaking. The usual complaint is that there are too many Ministerial speeches, and I think it is being let off lightly by having only two. I have said the Government thought it wise to present the whole problem to the House in order to enlist the - support of Parliament and the country to push it through. That will naturally mean that in a plan of this magnitude there must be certain priorities. That is, in simple language, that parts of the plan may come in before other parts. Therefore, in considering what parts to bring in, the Government have been animated by two principles. The first is that the several reforms should be introduced immediately material considerations, such as building materials, labour and the provision of teachers, allow and in accordance with the various priorities of the Government's various measures of social reform.

The second principle is that if you are to extend the obligation of parents to send children to school, you must satisfy them that they will derive genuine educational benefit from the extended time that they are expected to remain. In the light of those two principles we can consider the nature of the programme for bringing in the plan. If you look at the question of the raising of the school age in the light of those two principles, you cannot help feeling that the raising of the age to 16, for example, must depend upon the virtual completion of re-organisation. Otherwise you would find children obliged to stay in a school with pupils ranging in age from five to i6 with, perhaps, in some more remote areas only two or three teachers to cover the whole of the age group. Therefore let us press ahead with re-organisation. Let us also remember in this connection the various programmes of the Government for immense housing development and the tremendous call there will be on building labour and materials. I think the House will come to the conclusion that our first measure should be to concentrate on raising the age to 15 as soon after the war as possible. Hon. Members will then want to know what we propose to do about the age of 16. I have indicated that our decision to raise the age to 16 depends on circumstances and the facts that I have mentioned, but it is our intention to provide the necessary machinery to do this by taking powers in the Bill to raise the age to i6 by Order in Council as soon as circumstances 'permit

Let us consider the programme for the first three or four years in the light of what I have said. We should aim at raising the age to 15, completing the planning of full-time education and the provision of the various secondary opportunities that I have described We should push reorganisation substantially further and nearer completion than it is now. We should recast the local educational machinery, and we should start part-time continued education, which has been delayed for so long. If at the same time we can proceed, as has been requested in the country, with the development of technical and adult education, we shall, indeed, have made a very excellent start.

Coming to the machinery of these reforms, the House will want to know about the money available and the nature of the local administration to be provided. No doubt the system of finance, the grant system, will have to be reconsidered at some later date, but for this transitional period the House will be wise to launch these reforms on the basis of the grant suggested. I am very glad to have obtained the approval of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to an overall exchequer grant of 55 per cent., which should help authorities to carry out this programme. The present all-over grant is about 50 per cent. It is proposed that the poorer authorities shall be aided in addition by special provisions, which will be set out later, to enable them to take their part in the reforms which are suggested.

Mr. Leach (Bradford, Central)

Will the right hon. Gentleman, before he leaves the question of increasing the age to 16, say something as to the provision of new schools which that reform will undoubtedly entail? If children are to remain for two years and there are all the ix-learners at the other end, a large number of new schools will obviously be required. How are the denominational body on a grant of so per cent, going to provide them?

Mr. Butler

I covered some of that ground when I indicated that by the reopening of the 1936 Act the problem of reorganisation, at any rate for one major denomination, is largely met. That is the problem which most affects the raising of the age to 16. This plan is not one for providing money for new schools but one for enabling existing schools to fit into the system. The hon. Member has done a service if by his question he brings that out clearly.

In considering the determination of the local education authorities, I come to another of the very thorny subjects which have evoked discussion and attention for the last 70 years or more. The Government's proposal to abolish the terms and the divisions of our education as we know them to-day, elementary and higher, to which the present local education authorities are related by their constitution, means that there must be a redefinition of education authorities. This is inescapable. It has been put to me that the path of caution and wisdom would have been to defer consideration until a review of local government had taken place. I will answer that quite flatly. If the House thinks that by postponing this question for a review of local government they will solve it, I do not believe they are right. I believe that they will be taking the most fatal step to delay these reforms. That is why it has been decided by the Government to grasp this nettle and to take no delaying action but make definite proposals. Without a redefinition of authorities we cannot get these reforms launched. I would like hon. Members to realise that it is difficult under our new plan to establish local authorities for education for children only up to the age of Ir. That would really be a ridiculous solution. If our education is to be an organic whole, organised through successive stages, the authorities must themselves be whole organically. That is the principle which has animated these proposals.

I would make the following observations for conscientious Members who sit for some of the present elementary or, Part III authorities and have appealed to me ad misericordiam: First, I acknowledge the admirable work that has been done hitherto by the smaller education authorities, and it is the desire of the Government in framing a new scheme that there shall be secured for the leaders of education in the various areas a position of dignity and responsibility so that they can go on serving the cause of education as they have done before. Second, it is intended that the powers of delegation shall be properly exercised, that the appeal to the Board on the nature of the delegated powers shall be a reality, and that it shall be possible and, indeed, very probable that the powers for both elementary—or primary in the new phrase—and secondary education shall be delegated to districts under the scheme. In that way it will be seen that, although full details cannot be given in a White Paper, and must await the Bill, it will be likely that certain of the leaders of education in those districts will have more powers under these new proposals over primary and secondary education than they have actually had before. Third, nothing we propose removes anything from the sphere of local government. We simply suggest a rearrangement of functions as between certain authorities. During this summer I have little doubt that the Board will receive representations from all those interested. We shall hope during the summer—and that is one advantage of the procedure here suggested—to achieve a wider local administration in the final plan which will do no violence to the three principles set out in paragraph 114 of the White Paper and which will be just and fair to all.

I come to the last main question with which I want to deal, the supply of teachers. I have indicated in my reference to the programme that we mean business about the machinery of reform, about finance, about the units of administration and about buildings, on which we have a special inquiry proceeding. It only remains for me to show that we mean business about the teachers. It is no good having a tidy, efficient plan for education unless there is the inspiration of leader-ship. We do not want to give greater opportunities only to the children; we want to give them also to the teachers. I should like here to pay my tribute to the manner in which teachers have risen to their responsibilities in the present crowded conditions and have managed our education as well as any other country in the course of this great conflict. In considering the future of the teachers we have long-term plans and short-term plans. We do not mean to fob the question off simply upon an inquiry or upon long-term planning. We believe the long-term consideration of the training and supply of teachers is perhaps the most vital matter for the future of education, and it has been entrusted to an inquiry under the Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool, Sir Arnold McNair. This will be reporting at a not impossibly distant date, so that we may soon have before us the findings of this long-term inquiry.

We have to consider as short-term needs the immediate preparation of teachers to take on the first burdens of the reforms. For instance, I mentioned the raising of the age of 15 as soon as possible after the war. There are various other schemes in hand. As a preface to describing what those schemes are, I would like to say that the Government will first want to know that the House and the country mean business about educational reform. I trust that the House will take the first step by passing this Motion with acclamation. We shall then be encouraged to proceed, not with the details necessarily of the plan, but with the general question of educational reform and to intensify our search for teachers and our appeal to the profession and to new recruits. Having got over this hurdle, which I am convinced the House will take flying, we have to examine the sources of recruitment. We have our present sources which will be continued and there are new seams which we must tap. One of the most important seams will be those who are at present serving in the Forces, both men and women. We have several proposals in hand to secure suitable recruits. The first is under the Further Education and Training Scheme. This scheme has been introduced, as one was in 1919, to provide training for men and women coming out of the Forces. Already we are getting a few applications because men and women are being retired for various reasons. It is a comfort to realise that one-half of those applications arc for posts in the teaching profession. We trust the scheme will develop to an even greater extent than it did in 1919. Then there are the proposals under the Army Education Scheme. Correspondence courses have already been under-taken. We are also getting into touch with prisoners of war with a view to enabling them to start preparing themselves for what may be described as the greatest profession in the world.

When the House comes to consider the matter, what more inspiring and varied experience could be offered to the generation which is winning us our opportunities than that they should help to train the next generation not to waste those opportunities. What a varied choice we can offer in our new schemes to the teaching profession, ranging from the nursery school for teachers interested in young children, right through the scale of infant, primary and the three types of secondary, whether practical or academic, into the young people's colleges which are to provide continuing education up to 18. Here is no mirage in front of intending teachers such as they may have seen dancing before their eyes in the course of their struggles in the desert. Here are no castles in the air, but here is flesh and blood and a new edifice to inhabit. Plato had a vision of the philosopher ruler, but I trust that in our generation it will come true in the teacher leader.

Thus I believe Parliament has a double responsibility; first, to the generation which is winning this victory to assure them that a plan for the future world will go through, and, second, to the children to provide them with a chance to live in that future world. Thus Parliament may become a link between two generations. May we prove worthy by taking the first step on the road to educational reform this week. Let us see that in our time we have achieved something. We have got rid of the antiquated structure and reconstructed it. We have removed some of the impediments to the proper fusion of the efforts of Church and State. We have made it possible for children to be looked after up to 18 by care and supervision and we have induced a new love for those spiritual values which makes the human personality. If we can say that, we shall have fortified the character of the individual, and right action will flow from right character. If we can achieve right character in our rising generation we can say that in this time of strife we have ensured the fulfilment of our hopes.

Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)

The right hon. Gentleman concluded his speech with a moving peroration. I think we are all agreed that the Government have produced a memorable White Paper, and the President and the Parliamentary Secretary are to be complimented on submitting to the House and the country not a miscellaneous collection of reforms but an education plan. My friends and I pay tribute to the industry, imagination and broad conceptions which have been embodied in these proposals. We have been waiting for these proposals, as the country has, with growing impatience, but it will undoubtedly be true that if the scheme is fulfilled this country will have taken a very long step forward in education. In this scheme is embodied a great deal of what has been urged by my hon. Friends for the past few generations, as well as by many educationists and public spirited people who have been concerned with human welfare and democratic progress. But there are many misgivings among many such people as to whether the citadel of privilege has yet been finally taken, as to whether concessions of too important a character have been made to certain interests, and as to whether the vigorous spirit required for education reform is sufficiently evident in the White Paper.

This Debate will serve little purpose unless we approach this question of education and the proposals before us in a constructive and critical, though none the less an appreciative, spirit. We must ask whether these proposals fulfil our hopes. Do they offer a rapid advance over a wide field? Do they provide a complete statutory framework for a democratic national system? Are they practically realisable? It is unnecessary to discuss the defects of our education arrangements to-day—their inadequacy in both quantity and quality, the neglect in administration, the stagnation produced by private enterprise in education and by the operation of the dual system in its present form, the provision of different levels of education for the well-to-do and the rest, and so on, because Section A of Chapter II of the White Paper and page 13 of Section IV are a severe indictment, and will remain a standing challenge to the Government and to Parliament until those defects are removed.

It is unfortunate that we cannot see the whole of the plan now offered to us. The President has said that the training of teachers is fundamental, but that we cannot consider it until the Report of the McNair Commission is before us. Likewise, there is the problem of the place of the public schools, and the direct-grant secondary schools. Both these issues are highly controversial, but we must wait. We have only just received the Norwood Report on the curriculum for secondary schools, which raises a number of important issues concerned with the bias of teaching and the preparation of children for their livelihood and their life. On these matters we have still to await the decision of the Government. But the proposals opened out by the White Paper are to be welcomed, because, as the President has pointed out, they do insist that efficient education should be provided at all stages, that school life should be lengthened, that the range of opportunities should be increased, that the physical needs of children should be attended to, that nursery schools and young people's colleges should be made obligatory and provision made for youth, that a new emphasis should be put upon primary education and higher standards applied, that secondary schools should be available for all, with a common code for those schools, and that independent private schools should be registered. On all these points we welcome very heartily the proposals in the White Paper.

The President has, as was to be anticipated, made important concessions regarding religious teaching in council schools, certain aspects of which are highly controversial, such as the position of teachers in relation thereto and the use of secular schools for denominational teaching. So far as the dual system is concerned, the President has offered a compromise rather than a solution of this particular problem. On this difficult matter I want to say only that I hope the proposals will remove old controversies for ever and make no new ones, and that the field will be cleared once for all for big educational advances; but in saying that it cannot be ignored that many people are disturbed about the price the President is prepared to pay for a settlement. The situation becomes more complicated in some respects by the various categories of schools created and the extension of the dual system into secondary education, and it is right that I should say that important bodies in this country would have wished to end the duel system altogether, and that it is no small public to whom the changes contemplated are causing great anxiety. We hope, however, that some finality will now be reached on this vexed issue which will give satisfaction all the way round.

Before dealing with our main apprehensions and difficulties, I should like to refer in passing to the primary schools, because although our thoughts are largely directed to the general structure of the scheme, we are all conscious of the fundamental importance and the past neglect of the primary schools. We welcome the duty now imposed upon local education authorities to provide nursery schools and to raise the standards of the primary schools. Indeed, in the White Paper the existing evils are clearly seen. One hopes that the neglect of the past will be rectified quickly. One hopes that in the creation of nursery schools such schools for children from the age of 3 to 7 will not be ruled out, with junior schools from the age of 7 to 11. In the White Paper there is no indication of what is to be the maximum size of the classes or when that maximum, if it is already known, is to be reached, and no dates are mentioned for carrying through the improvements in respect of buildings and staff. Another thing we welcome is the provision for free medical inspection and treatment. There is now an obligation upon local authorities in respect of milk and meals. The cost is not so great, and we would rather hope that milk and meals for school childrden—a provision which has proved to be workable and is so valuable to the health and well-being of children—will be provided free. I would also point out, in connection with the extension of the age, that it is not clear from the White Paper whether provision is being made for allowances to parents for the maintenance of their children. Are we to understand that the undertaking given by the Government when the Beveridge proposals were under discussion that children's allowances will become operative over the country means that this difficulty of keeping at school children from ordinary working class homes will finally be removed.

I want next to refer to one of the major problems which is worrying us on this side of the House. According to the White Paper, it will be over a long period that these changes will be realised. Perhaps we can be told; first, of what is to happen after the war, and what the President means by after the war. Is he thinking merely in terms of the conclusion of the European war, or are these proposals to wait for the end of a war which may be very much prolonged after the conclusion of hostilities in Europe? There is, of course, on this side of the House, as elsewhere, an appreciation of the fact that we cannot hurry through changes which are so far-reaching as these, that we are conditioned by a number of factors, some of which are outside our control. First, there will be the necessity for training sufficient teachers; there is a very real shortage of them, and it will take time. There is also a lack of buildings, and there are competing claims in respect of priorities. But it seems to me, there is no intense sense of urgency about the carrying through of these changes.

There is to be, first of all, no start at all under the proposals of the White Paper, so far as one can see, until the conclusion of the war, even though a Bill is passed by this House. The school-leaving age is not to be raised to 15 until at least 18 months after the war. Is it possible for that interval to be shortened? School fees are not to be abolished until towards the end of the third year, and then that will only be a beginning. Young people's colleges for part-time continuation work are only to be brought in at the end of the third year, and then they are to start only by the provision of one day's attendance and not two. Also, the provision in regard to technical education will be further delayed, presumably for a period of four years. In the White Paper there is no period given within which the local education authorities are to complete their surveys and submit their plans to the Board. When one comes to the problem of raising the school age to 16, that is not likely to he done until more than seven years have passed.

The President has told us that obviously many of the factors which will have to be considered in the unfolding of these plans are at the present time unknown, and the White Paper declares: the rate at which it will be possible to proceed will depend not only on the factors mentioned in the preceding paragraph but upon the financial resources available, having regard to our existing commitments, to the new claims we may have to meet and to such orders of priorities as may have to be laid down. The rate of development of the proposals therefore will have to be determined from time to time in the light of those considerations. I do submit that that is profoundly disturbing. We want it clearly understood that for us there should be priority in regard to education, and that there should be an eager urge forward. If we are to linger on the way, weighing up one priority against another and taking into consideration the changing circumstances after the war in industry and in the country generally, we may be confronted not only with a very slow process of fulfilment, but possibly we may experience the disappointment which we had after the passing of the Fisher Act.

The second main difficulty in regard to these proposals is the absence of a target date for raising the age to 16. I wondered, after reading paragraph 6 and paragraph 3 of the Appendix, whether industrial and financial considerations will not influence a decision, even in respect of the raising of the age to 15. Indeed, some of these paragraphs to which I have referred are couched in rather ominous-terms—"the needs of industry will have to be considered," and so on. It may very well happen that instead of 18 months after the end of the war, it may be a number of years before we reach the raising of the age to 15. I fear too that there may be a great deal of evasion and interminable delay and uncertainty, which really are not good when you are trying to bring the local education authorities into line with a view to getting your reconstruction proposals actually adopted. Certainly, if one looks at the Appendix, the financial arrangements do not contemplate the age of 16 until more than eight years have passed, and then there is some doubt as to whether it will operate even at that period.

I cannot see how it is to be possible to work the secondary arrangements if certain types of education are to have a four-year period and a grammar school type of education is to have a five-year period. It seems to me that instead of achieving a common status in the various types of secondary school, by differentiating as against the technical and the modern school with their age of leaving at 15, we are again perpetuating the rather superior status of the grammar school whose normal leaving age is i6. I notice that the Norwood Report visualises the leaving age at 16.

I come to the third difficulty in respect of secondary education itself. In the course of time, under the proposals of the White Paper, secondary education is to be made available to all children without fee. That is, of course, a most desirable advance. There will also be a single code and a common standard for the three types of school. All that is to the good, and it is to be hoped that there will be established a number of multilateral schools. There is a difference of view as to whether it is a desirable type of change to bring all types of secondary education under one roof. The Norwood Committee expresses its own doubts as to the line of development; but if there is to be a common code and a common status, and if we are to attach in education just as much importance to technical as to narrow academic or grammar subjects, then it is obvious that the more you bring together the children under the same roof who are pursuing different paths the more likely are you to get a common standard and a common code operating between one kind of education and another. As to the curriculum and bias of the secondary education I noted paragraph 28 of the Paper. It reads: too many of the nation's abler children are attracted into a type of education which prepares primarily for the University and for the administrative and clerical professions; I hope that does not mean that too many children are going to the universities. It goes on: Too few find their way into schools from which the design and craftsmanship sides of industry are recruited. If education is to serve the interests both of the child and of the nation, some means must be found of correcting this bias and of directing ability into the field where it will find its best realisation. With that I think most of us would agree. But after this, in this consideration of secondary education one becomes a little puzzled about the general proposals of the White Paper. The President has quoted Disraeli at the head of his White Paper: Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. It seemed to me that he had unfortunately forgotten another familiar quotation by Disraeli in regard to the two nations. Anyway fees are to be abolished by the President in the maintained schools sometime in the third or fourth year after the war, but no decision is taken in respect of grant-aided secondary schools. These include the direct grant schools. When I saw the President's hesitation about that, I went back to paragraph I of the White Paper, and I read: But such diversity must not impair "— and here, quite conveniently, the President omitted in his speech these words, "the social unity." Mark those words: within the educational system which will open the way to a more closely-knit society and give us strength to face the tasks ahead. I next went to the last part of paragraph 2o, and there I read: A. system under which fees are charged in one type of post-primary school and prohibited in the other, offends against the canons that the nature of a child's education should be determined by his capacity and promise and not by the financial circumstances of the parent. I thought we were getting on, but when we got to paragraph 32 we discovered that under the excuse that there is the Fleming Committee at work, no decision can be taken in regard to the aided schools. One is left to suppose that these aided schools, some of which are linked up with the local authorities—

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education (Mr. Ede)

Will the hon. Member allow me to interrupt him? I do not think he has got the technicalities right. The only people who are excluded are the direct-grant schools. They are only temporarily excluded from consideration. Schools that are aided and maintained by the local authorities—to use the present nomenclature—are both to be free.

Mr. Creech Jones

I am glad to have that assurance. It is not clear in the White Paper. My point still remains that so far as direct-grant secondary schools are concerned the decision in respect of those is deferred until the Fleming Committee makes its report. What this means in effect is that in the field of secondary education we are likely to have the maintained schools, and some of the aided schools on one side, free and the direct-grant schools and the private schools on the other side of the fence. In one case education will be free, and in the other case the parents will be able to buy that education by fees on behalf of their children.

Mr. Ede

I do not know why the hon. Gentleman still says that "some of the aided schools will be on the other side of the fence." I thought I had made it clear that all the aided schools are maintained schools. The only schools not included are the direct-grant schools.

Mr. Creech Jones

That is precisely what I am saying. They will all be on one side of the fence.

Mr. Ede

All the aided schools will be on one side.

Mr. Creech Jones

I should have thought that many of the direct-grant schools were in receipt of aid. It does not alter my point, that in secondary school education.' there will be a line drawn. Such a line perpetuates what has vitiated our educational system up to now. Some parents will be able to buy expensive education for their children and some schools will enjoy, as in the past, a special status. It is certain that some vested interests in education will be preserved. I object to the existence of vested interests in the field of education.

Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)

Why will they have a special status?

Mr. Creech Jones

It is clear that many of the public schools at the present time enjoy a special status which is reflected in the whole of our social, economic and political system.

Mr. Pickthorn


Mr. Creech Jones

I am definitely opposed to snob schools of any kind, and I would like to know whether it is proposed by the Government to—

Mr. Pickthorn

Does the hon. Gentleman suggest that a snob school is one to which a superior status is accorded?

Mr. Creech Jones

I suggest that in the case of schools which are largely supported because of the financial ability of parents to buy the education of their children, the peculiar position of these schools in our national life does constitute them snob schools. All that I am now concerned about is that the Government should now inform us whether they have received any Report from the Fleming Commission, whether this problem has vet been reported on. I understand that there has been some discussion in regard to this question of schools receiving public moneys, and that a definite recommendation has been made that such schools receiving public moneys of any kind should be free. I would like to know whether it is possible for that Report to be in the possession of the House and whether it is the intention of the Government to act on that recommendation.

I wish also to say a word about the machinery of administration, because this is a highly controversial and very vexed subject. I think that everyone will agree that it is desirable that the old Part III authorities should go, that is, if efficiency and economy in education are to be achieved and proper units of administration are to be established. I cannot at the moment discuss what has worried many Members, the general process of disintegration that is going on over the whole field of local government, but in the field of education I am not altogether happy that the proposals as I understand them are altogether just and satisfactory. Unless I am misinformed, it seems to me that certain of these proposals are fraught with some danger, because to hand over educational control and policy to many county councils is to hand them over to reactionary bodies. To hope that the joint district boards or district boards which are to be created can function with delegated powers but with no initiative or financial control, on the guardians' model, is to belie the experience of this type of body.

It will be found that the progressive Part III authorities who will now be caught up in the new scheme of administration in these joint boards will often be penalised financially as a result of that co-operation, and that development in their areas is likely to be held up. I must confess that in some respects the arguments in the White Paper tend to beg the question. I would hope that when the Government are dealing with this very difficult problem they will see that the provision that is made inside the county areas will be of district boards sufficiently large for educational needs but exercising real responsibility and answerable, apart from their constituents, to the board, such boards reverting to the county control if they fail to fulfil their responsibilities, I think it would be fatal if we destroyed local initiative and the very considerable local interest which has been built up by the work on the existing educational authorities.

There are one or two small points to which I would like to refer. First of all, I think that we are imposing some very considerable burdens on the local authorities in regard to the cost of educational extension. In 1938–39 the cost to the local authorities was no less than £8,000,000. It is visualised in the White Paper that by the consummation of these proposals the cost to the local authorities alone will have risen to something like £79,000,000. Unless there is some very drastic overhaul of municipal and local government finance or new means found of raising the funds for carrying on local government, I am afraid that many local authorities, in spite of the special provision which the President of the Board of Education has mentioned in his speech, will probably fall by the way. There is another point that I will mention with regard to young people's colleges. I think it is an admirable development, but we have to wait for three or four years before such colleges will be established, and further, not until eight or nine years have passed will consideration be given to the question whether these continuation schools—young people's colleges is much the better term, of course—shall provide two days instead of the one. That seems to me to be putting back the continuation education between 16 and 18 too long and making it far too brief in attendance.

Again, I had hoped if I had had time to deal with the question of adult education, in which I personally have been very considerably interested for a long time. What the White Paper has to say about that is not very encouraging. The financial provision is of a somewhat limited kind, and considering the considerable discussion that has been going on all over the country, considering too the numerous proposals in the field of adult education which have aroused enormous interest everywhere, it seems rather unfortunate that there is little forecast in the Paper as to the manner in which the Board can help forward developments which have been so eagerly discussed during the last few years. Finally, there is a point too with regard to the universities, in that greater provision will have to be made in regard to State bursaries to the universities, and more money made available for research purposes.

I conclude, therefore, by expressing the hope that the Government will live up to the hopes that are aroused by this White Paper. They must by all means as vigorously as they can tackle this problem of the provision of teachers and the building programme. The Board must not be intimidated by big interests but must show drive and determination in the carrying out of its proposals. There must be no whittling away of the standards which are set up in this White Paper. The Government, I submit, must make the time-table more definite, and must accelerate the bringing of the promised reforms into operation as quickly as is practicable. The opportunity to do bold things has come, and the nation is ready for them. I hope that without delay that opportunity will be seized in the Bill which is to come before the House in the autumn. Education is the central constructive service of society. It should be adequate to the vast and inspiring task of creating a genuine, social democracy. I believe that this White Paper contributes substantially to this end, but I want a Bill which will be more precise and which will meet the difficulties and objections which I have raised to-day.

Sir Harold Webbe (Westminster Abbey)

I must resist the very serious temptation to enter into debate with the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Creech Jones) on many of those points of educational procedure and administration on which he has been speaking. I must resist the temptation too to follow him in what appeared to be the rather puzzling labyrinth of educational terms. But in one thing I would like very sincerely to follow the hon. Member, and that is in offering to my right hon. Friend and to his Parliamentary Secretary very sincere congratulations, not only on the admirably lucid statements to which we have listened to-day, but also on the production of a notable document, a document which marks a tremendous step forward in almost every branch of educational work, a document which shows not only all that administrative wisdom of my right hon. Friend, but, much more than the ephemeral qualities of the politician, his self-effacing method of referring to his own contribution. It is a document which bears clear evidence of courage and vision.

But what interests me in this document much more than its mere contents and detailed proposals is the very obvious evidence of a completely new approach to the whole problem of education. Education is seen as a whole, "as a continuous process conducted in successive stages," but it is no longer seen simply as a great social service but rather as an essential thread in, the whole fibre of society. Schools and colleges are regarded not objectively as ends in themselves but as instruments of social progress and as a means to the development of a national character and promotion of national purpose.

It is from that angle that I would like to say something in regard to one or two of the more important sections of this White Paper. First in importance I put that section which deals with religious education. The purpose of education is set out in the first paragraph of this Report as being "to strengthen and inspire the younger generation" and "to open the way to a more closely knit society." For that purpose I put, as I say, the sections on religious education first in importance. It may well be that some Members will not agree with that order of emphasis, but I am sure they will agree, and I am sure no one more heartily than my right hon. Friend, that those sections, the proposals in them, represent very much more work, anxiety and difficulty than almost any other part of the Report, not only because of the inherent difficulties of the problem and the fact that it touches the conscience of men, but also because of the tragic history of misunderstanding and controversy, usually sincere, sometimes I fear prejudiced, which has in the past defied a solution and which has been such a stumbling block to many aspects of educational reform. The Minister's proposals in this regard seem to me to be a great advance on anything which has ever been suggested before. They seem to me to offer for the first time some rasonable prospect of acceptance. I do not want to discuss those detailed proposals on this occasion, but I want to make an appeal that the proposals shall be regarded broadmindedly and with a genuine desire to secure agreement.

In my submission there is nothing more vital than that we should endeavour "to revive the spiritual and personal values in our society and in our national life." We sometimes say that this is an irreligious age. I believe that that is entirely wrong. Religious topics, which a few years ago were regarded as almost improper, are now discussed freely in trains, in buses, at the fireside, in clubs, everywhere; and I believe that the people of this country have never been more ready for spiritual leadership and guidance than they are today. A man's religion and his creed, the relation which he establishes with his God, and the form in which he expresses that relation, is an intimate and personal thing, and I believe that my right hon. Friend's White Paper is fully right in saying that the State cannot—and I would say, should not, take upon itself the full responsibility for fostering the distinctive formulas of particular denominations. That is outside the function of the State, but it is of vital importance to the State that that religious consciousness which I believe to be latent in every boy and girl and in every man and woman should be awakened and strengthened. I believe that it is only on the basis of a true religion that men can have courage to adventure and strength to achieve. It is only with the inspiration of a true religion that men can combine to great purpose. Therefore, the awakening of this religious consciousness is a fundamental necessity for the production of that more closely-knit society which is the objective of my right hon. Friend. In the awakening of that religious consciousness the schools and the teachers must play a most important part, both by their teaching and, perhaps still more, by the example of their own conduct. Therefore, I welcome the proposals in the White Paper that special training should be provided in this most difficult of all branches of school teaching for teachers who feel a genuine desire to give instruction of that kind. I welcome also the proposal that religious teaching should not be given as a class subject, to be taught equally by all, but that it should be left wherever possible to those teachers who feel sincerely what they are going to teach. Religious teaching must always be as much a matter of the heart as of the head.

These proposals, I am certain, will meet with much criticism—indeed, there are indications, not only in all our postbags but in this House to-day, that the storm may break. I beg the critics to examine their own consciences and to be certain that their criticism is sincere and has in it no element of prejudice or partisanship. I am optimistic enough to think that the circumstances of to-day offer a greater opportunity for accord and agreement than has ever been offered before. The strain and stress and the sorrow and suffering of this terrible war, which has lapped the doorsteps of almost every home in this country, have given us all a new scale of values. We have come to realise that many of these matters on which we have been divided in the past were matters of detail rather than of principle; and, therefore, I submit that, with that new scale of values, the whole of these proposals should be approached with that toleration which is of the essence of religion. This is a purpose in which we dare not fail. Whatever we may do to make our boys and girls scholars, whatever skill we may give them in the art and craft of citizenship, we shall have failed completely unless they grow up to be good men and women, with a high sense of honour, a sincere love of truth, a simple reverence in the face of those phenomena of life which they cannot understand or explain, and, above all, a readiness to put service to others in front of self-interest.

I turn now to another extremely important section of the Report, that which deals with young people's colleges. The proposals are on the whole, I think, on familiar lines, but I see here also evidence of a new approach and a new point of view. "It is important to make clear that what is in view is no going back to school." "These schools should look to the future rather than to the past. That is, they should be associated with provision for adults and adult activities rather than with the schools that the young persons have left." This conception of the young people's college as the link between childhood and manhood is, it seems to me, vital to the achievement of that more closely-knit society which my right hon. Friend wishes to achieve. I believe that in this country that idea of the closely-knit society is most nearly attained in the Cambridgeshire village colleges, and particularly at Impington, the newest and best of them. Impington, as hon. Members are, no doubt, aware, is the centre of a group of other villages within a radius of 1o to 15 miles. It houses, in the first place, a modern school for the older children of that district. There they hive their practical work rooms and domestic science rooms. These rooms are used by the adolescents of that district for their evening classes and other evening activities. But much more has been added. On the same site and under the same roof there are facilities for adult education, university extension lectures, county libraries, reading rooms, games rooms and a large assembly hall for dancing, stage performances and cinema. There is accommodation for the Bee-Keepers, the Young Farmers, the Pig-Keepers, the Gardeners, the Women's Voluntary Service, the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, the Women's Institute. All the social and educational activities of that whole area are concentrated at one spot. They have their playing fields, they have their gardens, they have their farmers' and fruit growers' test plots: everything in one centre; and in that centre, until the petrol restrictions stopped it, every evening during the year hundreds of youths and maidens with their fathers and mothers—yes, and their grandfathers and grandmothers—met for social and educational enjoyment.

That is a practical experiment in community living, a practical demonstration of the rights and duties of citizenship, which is worth far more than all the books that have ever been written or all the lectures that have ever been delivered. I know it is impossible to reproduce Impington in every rural area, still less in every great town, but the purpose and spirit of it can be reproduced. If it is not possible legislatively to secure this, I hope my right hon. Friend, in the schemes submitted to him by local authorities will see that they place these young people's colleges at the centre of all their educational activities, and that they are linked intimately and if possible physically not only with the secondary schools on the one hand but, even more important, with the facilities for adult education and social enjoyment on the other. In that way, I think a practical step can be taken to secure this closely-knit society.

Now may I say a word on technical education? I am sure the whole House agrees with my right hon. Friend that there is a very great need for the development of technical education. This country is definitely behind in that respect. We welcome also the paragraph at the end of the White Paper, which indicates that, in conjunction and in consultation with industry, it is proposed to develop the facilities for industrial research. But there is one omission, if I have read the White Paper aright. I see no reference to the provision of facilities for technical education of a post-graduate level other than industrial research. I believe that that is necessary, and I hope that when the Bill is before the House we shall find that that point has been taken care of.

I want finally to say a few words on the question of priorities, with which the hon. Member for Shipley dealt. We must be realists. We should all like to see a reduction in the size of classes, the wiping-out of all the black-list schools, the completion of the Hadow reorganisation, the introduction of day continuation schools, the development of technical education and all the rest, but all these things—to say nothing of raising the school-leaving age—mean more teachers, and, even more important, bricks and mortar and bricklayers. The supply of building materials and building labour immediately after the war will be completely inadequate for the total needs of the country. We have it on the authority of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour that for something like two years after the war mere repairs and deferred maintenance will absorb virtually the whole efforts of the building industry. On top of that, and apart from what we desire in education, there is an urgent need for housing. Every damaged city is producing its plans for tremendous development. There will be a grave housing shortage and the building materials and labour simply will not go round for all these things at once. It is definitely misleading the public to hold out false hopes which can never be realised. To urge, as has been done to-day, that the school-leaving age should be raised at once, day continuation schools started at once, and the Hadow reorganisation completed at once, day continuation schools started at once, day continuation schools started at once, and the Hadow reorganization completed at once, is just holding in front of the public a ridiculous promise which there is no possibility of carrying out. There is nothing that damps enthusiasm and tends to discourage more than hope deferred.

Therefore, we must be realists in this matter and appreciate that the desires of those of us who are interested in education cannot be considered alone. If we succeed in rebuilding all the schools that have been destroyed, in repairing and rehabilitating all the damage and in getting back to the standard of classes and the number of teachers we had in 1939 within 18 months or a couple of years of the end of the war, I believe we shall have done a great job. That does not in any way lessen the desire of some of us who are deeply interested in education to see these great reforms and developments put in hand at the earliest moment with the maximum energy. I am convinced that the Government mean business; I am certain that the President of the Board of Education means business. I end where I began by congratulating him on his White Paper. He is setting out on a voyage of adventure in which he will have the assistance of the whole House and for my part I wish him God speed and a quick and happy landing.

Mr. Sexton (Barnard Castle)

For many years now, far more years than anybody in the House has lived, the importance of education has been stressed. It was stressed by the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago when Diogenes said: The foundation of every state is the education of its youth. That statement was emphasised by Cicero when he said: What greater gift or better can we offer to the State, than if we taught and train up youth? Its importance is emphasised in the White Paper, which states in the first paragraph: In the youth of the nation we have our greatest national asset.… We cannot afford not to develop this asset to the greatest advantage. In view of such pronouncements, both ancient and modern, it is a tragedy that so many centuries have passed and so little has been done towards implementing those statements. In their escape from the Egyptian bondage the Jews were compelled to wander in the wilderness for a generation, but in escaping from the bondage of ignorance the children of the world and of this country have been forced to wander in darkness for over 80 generations. One criticism that I make of the White Paper is that the light of learning is not to be allowed to shine within a strictly defined period of time. Reference has been made by earlier speakers to paragraphs 5 and 6. There you can see how nebulous is the scheme from the point of view of a prompt start. We are told that changes cannot be achieved at once. Nobody expected that they could, but some definite work preliminary to the introduction of the scheme ought to be proceeded with at once. Buildings, equipment and teachers are mentioned, but the question which should be answered is, What is the order of priority which educational requirements occupy in the programme of priorities? The rate of progress referred to in paragraph 6 is in language very redolent of other post-war schemes. The rate of progress will depend upon the financial resources available. Does that mean that the recommendations of the White Paper may in effect be postponed for another generation?

These proposals of the White Paper are closely bound up with the related matter of teachers, their recruitment and training, and also with the problem of the public schools. These form an integral part of any sincere educational reconstruction. Yet the McNair Report on the former and the Fleming Report on the latter are not available and cannot be discussed. The immense question of educational reconstruction has arisen because of the inequalities and injustices of the past and of the present. Equality of opportunity has been inscribed upon the banners of all political parties and organisations for many years. It is time now to bring down that excellent motto and translate it into living fact. If that be done, it will fulfil the major part of educational reconstruction. Some people say that the country has at present equality of opportunity, and they talk of the educational ladder. But to realise the steepness and the narrowness of that ladder, see how infinitesimal is the opportunity of working-class boys and girls to get to the top. It is not lack of ability but lack of opportunity which keeps them at the foot of the ladder. As a teacher I maintain that the workers' children are as excellently endowed intellectually as those of any class in the nation.

I pay tribute to the gallant parents of some of these boys and girls who have passed on to secondary education. These parents have sacrificed a very great deal to enable their children to reach that high standard. It is not a small thing for a mother and father when the latter is only earning from 25s. or 3os. a week to forward their child's education. I have known a number of cases where that has been the income of the family, and the boy or girl has been awarded a junior scholarship at the secondary school. On the other hand, the children of the well-to-do have not to scale a ladder at all. They have a grand staircase by which they can ascend to the high seats of learning. The economic condition of parents decides the quality and quantity of the education of their offspring. Proof of that was found in the fact, stated in the White Paper, that over go per cent. of our children leave school at 14. They do not leave school; they are dragged out of school because of the economic conditions of their parents. Many times in my teaching career I could have wept to see boys and girls torn away, from me at 14, and, remember, these boys and girls, we are told by all and sundry, are the most priceless asset of the nation. When you come to country schools the chances of higher education are reduced. Some of the reasons are that the buildings are out-of-date, have antediluvian equipment, and long desks which ought to have been scrapped years ago. I remember teaching in one school when an old man came into the building, and, pointing to a long desk, said, "I sat there 65 years ago, and my grandchild is sitting there to-day." They are unhygienic and difficult to sit in, and that is the sort of equipment we find in many of our country schools. We have insufficient staff and have not the usual amenities, sanitary and otherwise. Sometimes there is no playground at all. I remember another school at which I taught where the children had to play on the King's highway at playtime and in the lunch hour. Such conditions are relics of the past when the education of country children was openly sneered at.

Major Sir Edward Cadogan (Bolton)

To what particular authority is the hon. Member referring?

Mr. Sexton

I am talking of long ago before the 1902 Act, when local authorities were the managers of the schools. It is only now that these country children are being recognised not only as children of the countryside but as children of the nation. Fifty-two years ago to-day a boy entered the teaching profession, which has been called by the President of the Board of Education, the noblest profession of all. He felt very important, because on his very first day he had reached the position of principal-assistant, because he was the only assistant there was in the school. What were his duties? I refer to these things, because I want to compare the present condition of things in which some improvement definitely has been made and for which we are all glad. Primarily he was a teacher. There were set before him 40 pupils ranging from three years to eight years. He had to be an assistant cleaner in the school, because once a week he had all the maps and pictures to take away from the walls and dust. He had to be assistant cook, because he had to look after the oven in the school—and between 8o and go per cent. of the children brought their mid-day meal—in order to heat up the pies and the bottles of tea: Every Friday he had to be furniture remover, as he had to place the desks in a neat rectangular pile in the main room, because on the next day the petty sessions were held in that room. What was his remuneration? Five pounds per annum, paid quarterly. I think they paid it quarterly, so that he could see that he got something. I was that boy, and for 44 years I have been a teacher. I have taught all day long, from going in the morning to coming home at tea time, not being able to study as I ought to have done part of the time for my own academic benefit. I was actually teaching with no one to help or guide me, so that I know something of the educational problem. Out of those 44 years I have spent 32 in country schools, and I know from my own experience that children have been shamefully denied their just rights of education and are still being robbed of their lawful heritage.

How are the iniquities to be removed? The White Paper shows us. If the proposals in the White Paper are carried out, alI these injustices will be swept away. Children's allowances will do something towards the maintenance of children, but they are not enough. What of the only child, who will get no allowance? What of the child of the father who is on low wages, or is receiving unemployment or National Health Insurance benefit? What of the only child of the widow who has 10s. a week? Is that enough to help maintain them as they ought to be maintained? This question of maintenance will have to be far more seriously tackled than is at present suggested. In the better schools to come there should be smaller classes. I speak as one who knows, because I have tried to teach 80 children in one class—an utter impossibility. In country schools there should be a smaller number of grades. When I was a head teacher, before I came to this House, I was tied up all day with teaching. The class I had was from 11 to 14 years, while one of my assistants had another class from 7 to 11 years. It is absolutely impossible with such different age groups and grades to do any definite educational work. At one time in my career we had the old examination system where the head teacher's salary depended upon the number of pupils he got through the three R's. My head teacher's salary was £50 per annum plus what he received from Government grant, which meant what he could make out of the children by screwing and forcing them into the same mould to pass the same examination. You might as well try to force all children into the same physical mould as to try and press them into the same mental mould. The danger of pressing them into a physical mould is physical deformity; by mass teaching it is mental deformity, which is infinitely worse. Head teachers of smaller schools ought to be placed on a par with head teachers of larger schools. They should be set free from teaching all day in order to attend to organisation and administration. I have been in small and large schools. In large schools, where you have a well trained and qualified staff, the head teacher has an easier job than in country schools where the staff is not so well qualified.

As regards religious teaching and dual control, I had eight years' experience of teaching in denominational schools, and. I can say that there never was any religious problem inside the school. All the controversy came from the outside. In my 44 years' experience I have never known of one child being withdrawn from religious education, either an agreed syllabus or dogmatic training. The tone of a school is bound up not only with Scripture lessons and dogmatic training but with the lessons of truth, honour, neighbourliness, love and beauty. For my part, the Scottish system would satisfy me If we could clear away the vexed religious question as they have in Scotland, I should be satisfied. When I read the memorandum with regard to religious instruction in the schools in Scotland, which was issued this year, I did not find in it a word of complaint about the way in which they go on in Scotland. Everything seems to be going on all right, and so far as I know Scotland is in no way behind this country in education.

As regards the proposals for secondary education, I would advise care about the separation of scholars into three different schools. The proposal is to have grammar, technical and modern schools. Perhaps it' would be wiser to have multilateral schools where the three sides could be taken under one roof. This would prevent the evil of competing grades and the abbreviated labels—"gram," "tec," and "mod —being attached to them. Other Members will no doubt discuss the question of young people's colleges. All I wish to say about them is that I think the name is clumsy. I would prefer to call them academies of youth, because such places seem to be concerned with the social, humanising and practical aspect of life just as did the Greek academies of old. We must never forget that we are all learn- ing, we are still going to school, even in this House day by day. As Solon said: I grow old ever learning many things. I well remember the mechanics' institutes of the past, which miners used to attend in the mining villages. They have died out; their functions seem to have changed. Could we not revive some of the functions of these old institutes of the past, these workmen's colleges and village halls?

May I say, in conclusion, that this scheme is like the previous scheme which was formulated during war-time. The last one was scrapped because of financial considerations. Is the same thing to happen to this one? If so, the country will realise that the oft-repeated phrase, "Equality of opportunity" is merely a phrase, that their vision of a sincere re-construction in education will remain a dream and that the immortal mechanism of God's own hand—the mind—will continue to be neglected Let us not rob human beings of that unpurchasable blessing of education—the inculcation of self-respect. It may be hard to keep the wolf of hunger from the door, but once you chase the dragon of ignorance from the hearth there still remains to a man self-respect and hope, and it is because these twin virtues along with others will arrive from a complete education that I wish the present proposals to be urgently considered.

Mr. Lakin (Llandaff and Barry)

The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton) has given us a most interesting story of his personal experiences, to which this House has listened, as it always does listen, with respect, but I cannot help thinking that too much of it was concerned with the past. My hon. Friends on this side of the House are more concerned with the future. We think this scheme is bold and progressive, and for that reason we welcome it. If the White Paper's proposals are eventually translated into an Act, we shall in due course change the face and mind of British civilisation. It may be true that for some time we shall have to wait—we have not the teachers or the buildings—but perhaps by I950 we shall put human beings into their proper place as the most important part of this great nation. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education has realised that education must be carried into adolescence and beyond, that education can be unified without uniformity and, best of all, he has realised that there must be equality of opportunity. I think that is most essential.

As I wish to be brief and cannot range over the whole White Paper, I would like to refer to the question of teachers. They are the most important thing of all; they are the master key of the White Paper. If you get the right teachers, I think the syllabuses can almost look after themselves. How many of us owe so much to one or two particular teachers who have inspired us in our early life? This is a great opportunity for teachers. We must treat them right and with fairness, we must give them self-respect and must respect them. After all, teaching is one of the greatest vocations to which any man or woman can be called. Teachers are to have a great new responsibility thrust upon them, and rightly. They will be put into a position where their judgment is to supersede the special place examination for children of 11 years. That is a great responsibility, but I believe they will accept it willingly and discharge it faithfully. On one point the Norwood Report, which is an excellent Report, supplements the White Paper. I refer particularly to careers at the university. It is a most excellent thing that the canon laid down in the White Paper, that capacity and promise and not financial circumstances are to be the determining factors in secondary education, shall also be the determining factors in university education.

I hope that is one of the things my right hon. Friend will press forward as quickly as possible. It is certainly indefensibly illogical that we should, as we do even in a great part of our education now, prepare a young man for the university and then, at the very gate, leave him entirely unprovided for and unable to pursue the object for which he has been trained. It would be ridiculous for anyone in his senses to say that this is not an inspiring forecast of the Act which I hope is to come very soon. My right hon. Friend has realised, as the Norwood Report also realises, that Wales is indeed a special problem. The offer of an Advisory Committee goes some way towards meeting Welsh national aspirations, but I am afraid it does not go nearly far enough.

I want to deal with one particular point, the Part III authorities; and because I respect my right hon. Friend's faith and work, it is very grievous to me that I should join issue with him on this point. It is not a parochial matter but one that goes to the very core of British tradition, a tradition which my right hon. Friend has more respect for than perhaps any other man in the House. He says he wants to maintain and widen local interest in education, and the strong local feeling of patriotism and a great deal of the unpaid activity that are put in by the Part III authorities are to be encouraged. My right hon. Friend wants to merge those people into a district committee. Whenever I hear the term "district committee" I think of gas and water undertakings. This, surely, is a matter of human life and destiny and cannot be treated as a commodity like gas, water or electricity. Who is going to take any notice of the Mid-Glamorgan or South Glamorgan district committee? How will it be constituted? Who will take the trouble to look after it, and how can it deal with different places with the same interest that it should?

I agree that there is no answer to the argument that some stages of a child's education should be entrusted to one authority and others to another, except that there arc some small authorities which are far better than counties and county boroughs. The real trouble with the proposal is that it is really a revival of the ad hoc principle: a school board, without responsibility. Will these district committees have the right of inspection? Clearly not. Yet inspection, surely is the very key to all educational administration. He has promised to delimit the authority of the Part III authorities, but will this delegation include all the powers that are now delegated by the education authority to the education committee, except, of course, the imposition of the rate. Or would he at least follow the analogy of Section 56A. of the White Paper, which refers to the "Controlled" voluntary schools, and retain the Part III authorities as local boards of governors with the right, if necessary, of imposing a special rate for special services? We do not know. What I am afraid of is that these district committees will have no life in them at all, and teachers and managers do not want a lifeless third body interposed between them and the authority.

My right hon. Friend has to take a national and an objective view. I know it is a most difficult question and I have the utmost sympathy with him. There are bad Part III authorities no doubt, just as there are good ones, but I make no apology for speaking for my own town of Barry, which is a Part III authority. I think I can give an unanswerable case that a place like Barry must have its full control of elementary, and indeed of higher, education. My right hon. Friend realises the place that education takes in Wales. I think he knows that in many of the newer Welsh industrial towns the real landmark of the town is the school. There are not many others, and it is like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land very often. Barry is one of the best of those authorities. It has a population of 40,000 and a school population of 5,000. Therefore it does not come within the White Paper, which gives the right to certain towns to have a district committee. It has always been a progressive town in its education. Before the Burnham scale was adopted nationally, Barry paid probably the highest salaries in the Kingdom. The result is that it has always had the best teachers. It has never been asked to increase the number of teachers, but on occasion it has been asked to reduce the number. Already it has two nursery schools, whereas in the whole county of Glamorgan there are only four.

My right hon. Friend may think that this is parochial, but it is not. It touches the very heart of Britain. The education rate of this authority is 4s. 5d. The county rate is 5s. 9½d. for the equivalent elementary education. That is 30 per cent. more and certainly no better. He proposes to hand this excellent authority over to the tender mercies of the Glamorgan County Council. The hon. Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) is the chairman of that august body, and I am glad that he is here, because the people of Barry feel that the new education will be administered by people who are to be appointed by the county council and they will not be directly elected by the people. That in itself is a most undemocratic proceeding. Keenness will suffer, because they know that they will have to report, not to a body exclusively concerned with education, but to a body with multifarious interests which cover the whole public administration. Most serious of all, they have the feeling that such is the constitution of the Glamorgan County Council that there is great danger, as they have learned from past experience, that party politics will play too great a part and the real interests of education too small a part in the future. Therefore I appeal to my right hon. Friend. This is not an appeal ad misericordiam but an appeal to fairness. Is he going to throw over an authority such as that, which has the record and the financial resources to deal with elementary and higher education? Is it right and fair, and will it be in the interests of education? I say "No."

Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)

It is as much a pleasure as a duty to congratulate my right hon. Friend not only on the substance of the White Paper and on his unusual good sense, I might almost say cunning, in testing the temperature of the water before taking the plunge. By means of this Debate we can now criticise the proposals of the White Paper without that feeling of challenging the immutable, which one finds when dealing with a Bill. I am going to ask my right hon. Friend to believe that none of the rather drastic changes which I am going to suggest are made in anything but a spirit of extreme good will and complete appreciation of the enormous labour which he and his advisers have undergone in preparing this White Paper and in preparing for the corning Bill. The Paper itself is a complete summary of the President's intentions with regard to education for the future. He has given a clear sketch of two kinds of proposals, first the changes to be made in the more unsatisfactory features of our present system and, secondly, the changes which have to be made in order to extend the system as amended so as to get a fuller educational life for the Britain of the future. But there is one very important section to which I think he has given too little attention, namely the administration of education, both centrally by Government and locally by local education authorities and other bodies. I cannot help regretting this omission because, after a lifelong study of this question from every angle, I am convinced that no real reform in education is possible on purely educational grounds. That is to say, that there is no reform possible in the substance of our educational provisions unless it is accompanied by a very considerable reconstruction of the machinery by which those provisions are carried out.

Before I make some drastic suggestions on this question I want to say a word about that Medusa's head of our educational system, the so-called dual control, to which so many references have already been made. I want to emphasise one point in particular, that the question of religious instruction is tightly bound—it is not a separate question—with the question of Dual Control. I think the White Paper, on the whole, treats them with a greater separateness than is warranted by history or by circumstance. It may be well to remind ourselves of one simple fact, that Roman Catholics and many Anglicans regard the training of the young as an essential activity of the Church rather than of the State. I do not agree with that view, but it would be quite impossible for me or for any one else to say anything useful about education until we recognise that fact. If the Roman Catholics and the Anglicans did not take this view, there would be no controversy about dual control because all schools would then be under the State. But that claim has been made and it has been reinforced by more than a century of tacit public acquiescence.

To-day, the educational reformer is faced with the impossible task or arbitrating between two mutually exclusive views of education. It cannot be said, and no one in this House would maintain, that the compromises of the past have notably furthered the cause of either religion or education, compromises which we accepted because we valued a quiet life above logic and a clear conscience. All that can be said of them is that in a sense they worked. That is to say, the wheels continued to turn round, though the machine was in every respect inefficient. In this White Paper, a real attempt is made to solve the difficulty, an attempt which certainly will, if adopted, ease some of the present friction so far as administration is concerned, but not so far as conscience is concerned. The objection to the dual control system is only partly administrative and the proposals as they are in the White Paper will fail to satisfy two important sections of public opinion, namely, those who believe that the churches today, under present conditions are ineffective in imparting to the young their Christian view of life and should be given a greater opportunity of doing so by the help of our educational system. That, I think, can be said to be the Anglican point of view. There is another section at the opposite end which comprises those who resent any priestly or ecclesiastical interference in schools predominantly maintained by public money and who think that such interference would, inevitably, impose religious tests upon the teachers. I do not wish for a moment to revive the religious controversies of the past. To most of our generation they are as comical as Dundreary whiskers and crinolines. I have no confidence that either of the two sections of opinion to which I have referred will be quite satisfied by the solution contained in the White Paper.

Here in the White Paper we have envisaged as far as Protestant schools are concerned—and I make no apology to my Catholic friends for using that word—

Viscountess Astor

It is a very good word.

Professor Gruffydd

It is a very good word and I always use it. As far as Protestant schools are concerned, we have an agreed syllabus of so-called religious instruction given by secular teachers who may be, indeed, specially trained for the purpose; and, secondly, we have the denominational teaching at the demand of the parents which is also given by secular teachers, who, again, may be trained. I have no doubt that all properly equipped secular teachers can teach most effectively an agreed Scripture syllabus, or even an agreed moral syllabus, because interpretation, as such, plays no part in those subjects. But when we come to religion we might as well face the truth. If religion is to mean anything different from mere Scripture and ethics, it seems to me that the proposals are impossible. The relations between the religious teacher and his pupil must be a spiritual one. All churches and creeds have realised this truth throughout the ages and have, in general, entrusted religious teaching, as distinct from ethical instruction, to those who are familiar with its dogmas and accept its theology, that is to say, to its own ministers. As it is at present, priests and pastors of the Protestant churches find an increasing difficulty in keeping in touch with the young. That will be the experience of every Member of this House whatever his constituency. I remember that in my own youth the boys and girls of my generation were organised into classes by the church, through its minister and his voluntary helpers. I am certain that no teacher, however well-trained, in any day school, would ever have given us the understanding of the faith of our fathers which those teachers who were not trained did in the churches.

I can think of no more certain method of raising atheists in this country than to place religious instruction, especially denominational instruction, in the hands of secular teachers who, for the most part, whatever their own convictions are, have to impose knowledge on an unwilling class. We must remember—and I have a long experience of teaching—that all classes of ordinary secular schools "creep unwillingly to school." Then there is the position of the teacher to be considered, and I wish the House would pay some attention to it. In areas where denominational teaching, as conceded by the coming legislation, will be in general demand, how are we to avoid subjecting teachers to denominational tests. Suppose you have a primary school staffed by three teachers and the demands made by the parents are for three types of denominational teaching—Church of England, Orthodox Free Church and Unitarian Free Church. How can we then help imposing tests on the teachers, as all the teachers will be occupied in teaching one of these three denominational subjects? In a new school, for instance, where those types of instruction are demanded, teachers with definitely religious and denominational views, will, naturally, be appointed as against those who do not hold views which will fall within the framework of the religious instruction given in the schools.

Mr. Ede

My hon. Friend has not quite grasped what the position is. There will be no school in which three types of religious instruction can be demanded. In the controlled school, the normal teaching will be that of the agreed syllabus, but the parents of children holding the faith of the original trust deed of the school, may demand teaching in accordance with that particular faith. There is no third alternative—Mr. Gladstone is quite dead.

Professor Gruffydd

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for that explanation, but I do not think that the answer covers the point at issue. If it is just in one type of school to give denominational teaching and if we are to be fair to those schools, we must give it in all types of schools.

I am going to make a suggestion. There is only one solution of this question, and as far as I can see it is foolproof. It is a solution that will end all voluntary schools except perhaps Roman Catholic schools—because they will be unnecessary and undesirable. Completely cut them out. Take over all schools and make them fully provided council schools. Pay their back debts and set them on their feet again, and have a unified type of governing body for all schools of the same grade. Invite the various churches to appoint religious teachers to visit the schools and instruct their own children at the same hour. In other words, it is the old right of entry. If necessary, pay those ministers and teachers, and especially pay those who are willing, in their ministerial course, to take teacher's training. Let the work done by them be inspected by special inspectors of the Board of Education, who will not, of course, inquire into the substance or orthodoxy of the teaching, but only into its competence.

This will, at one blow, do away with the strangling growth of unreal compromise and inefficiency which has checked education for years in this country. It will form a closer link between the school and its environment and help to prepare the way for that noble aspiration of the President to which many parts of the White Paper amply testify, that the schools of all grades shall become the centre of the social life of the community and provide for that life most of its intellectual vigour and a great and growing awareness of the things of the spirit. It will also, incidentally, help the churches towards the solution of one of their most pressing problems, namely, the decline of their influence among the younger generation. As the British nation has still a majority of men who wish well to the so-called outer forms of Christianity, but who also wish for the utmost freedom of thought, I commend a solution on those lines to the serious consideration of my right hon. Friend who has, during his Presidency, been willing to give all prejudices short shrift and to give an understanding welcome to new ideas.

I now wish to say something about the contents of the 12th chapter of the Memorandum, which is headed "Education in. Wales" and to which reference has been made by the hon. Member for Llandaff and Barry (Mr. Lakin). I suppose there is some reason for the omission from this rather jejune chapter of any reference to the problems of Wales, and I do not blame the President for not attempting to cut a figure in skating over the thin ice of this extremely small but dangerous pond. But we who represent Welsh constituencies cannot be excused if we miss the chance now offered of insisting that special provision shall be made for Wales in the reconstruction of education. I will not trouble the House with an account of many of the reasons why this is necessary as well as desirable, but will name only one or two. First, in addition to the numerous complications in education in England we have in Wales the problem of making provision for teaching two languages instead of one. [An HoN. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because the Welsh people judge that it is well to do so. In passing, I wish to pay a very special tribute to the President for his unsual—for an Englishman—understanding of the attitude of Wales to its own language and his general sympathy with it. This additional language teaching throws a burden on the Welsh Department, on the local education authorities and on teachers and on inspectors which it is very difficult for outsiders to gauge, and we are all convinced that, if only for this reason, any new provisions for England as such would inevitably be inadequate for Wales.

Further, the administration of secondary education in Wales suffers under a deplorable state of cross purposes. The secondary schools under the 1902 Act are directly under the Welsh Department, while those under the Welsh Intermediate Act, 1889, are still under the Central Welsh Board, of which most people in England have never heard but which was created specifically for Wales because there was no provision in English law to supervise the giving of grants to secondary schools. When the Act of 1902 was passed I think Parliament made a serious mistake. At that time the Central Welsh Board should have been abolished, or, alternatively, all the schools in Wales should have been put under its authority. They have suffered from that mistake ever since. No one in Wales will now be content to see a new and revolutionary change in England while there are still lamentable anomalies in Wales still un-rectified. Some time ago, my fellow-countrymen formed a small committee to consider the circumstances, and with one dissentient, namely myself, that committee suggested a Welsh Council of Education, largely elected by the local education authority constituencies to take over the duties now belonging to the Board of Education. As I foresaw then, this proposal was unworkable and I am convinced that any attempt to revive that ill-considered project would be doomed to failure, for reasons which I shall be only too eager to explain if the proposal is ever made.

In making my contribution with regard to Wales, I beg the utmost indulgence from my right hon. Friend for making a suggestion which, in my opinion, would not only solve the problem of Wales, but would also greatly strengthen and consolidate the system of education in England. It is, in brief, to carry out the intentions of Parliament in the Education Act, 1899, which created a Board of Education as an active agency to direct the control of education. It is to be noted that Parliament in its wisdom was, presumably, not willing that education should be under the control of one man, namely the Minister, as other Departments are under the control of the Minister, but considered that a multiplicity of counsellors was desirable in order to keep in touch with public opinion throughout the country. It did not appoint a Minister of Education in the usual sense, but a Board of Education with a Minister as President, that is to say, as the person responsible to Parliament. Did that Board ever meet? I am asking a question which I cannot answer, but I hazard the statement that the answer is "No." As a matter of fact, the Duke of Devonshire stated in a Debate upon the Bill in another place that it was perfectly well understood that there would be no Board at all. To all intents and purposes, the Duke was right. The Board has never functioned and the so-called President is as much a monarch in his departmental realm as any other Minister. If there is one Department of Government which depends upon keeping in touch with opinion in the country and which must depend upon outsiders for expert advice it is the Department of Education. It is the one Department which cannot be static, which must grow like a living body, yet as at present operated, this Board, apart from its rather ineffective Consultative Committee, can have no new ideas except those supplied by the Minister and by civil servants. My suggestion is that a real Board of Education should be created for England and a precisely similar Board of Education created for Wales, smaller perhaps in membership, and that the President should be at the head of both Boards. By this scheme, we can have progress, and progress continuously fostered by the living experience of men in practical touch with the needs of the country and we can guarantee reasonable continuity of policy from one President to another. I have made what I think may be very drastic suggestions. My only excuse is that I have devoted the best part of my life to the consideration of this matter.

Before I sit down I would ask the indulgence of the House for a few remarks an another aspect of the matter, that is local administration. In Chapter XI of the White Paper it is proposed to combine two or more areas where this is conducive to efficient or economical administration. That is certainly right, in spite of what the hon. Member for Llandaff and Barry said, but it does not touch the main problem of the distressing inequality between different parts of the country in the adequacy of the provision they make for education. It is the Board's intention that every child should have an equal chance, but how can that be possible, unless there is some drastic change in the rating arrangements throughout the country and in the grants to schools? Let me take an example from Wales, which I know best. We should gain nothing whatsoever by joining together Anglesey, Carnarvonshire and Merionethshire, because each of them, individually, is too poor and if they were joined together they would be collectively poor. All those areas are poor and not an additional penny would be available for education and we should still see the schools in their present shameful condition unless something else were done. Why should a Welsh child because he was born in Glamorgan, under the very excellent chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Sir W. Jenkins) have opportunities which are denied to a Welsh child born in Anglesey? However the administrations are combined nothing is to be gained if the resources are still inadequate. What is necessary?

I suggest that there should be a uniform education rate and a uniform education grant throughout a much larger area than is contemplated in the White Paper—in the case of Wales throughout the whole of the Principality. The efficiency of education should be the concern of the State as a whole and not of local councils as at present. In that way we should not have the alleged disparity between the very adequate Barry council and the Glamorgan county council. As it is, a child born in a rich industrial or commercial area has enormous educational advantages over a child born in any one of the many poor and backward counties of England or Wales. To me, it seems utterly incomprehensible that such an anomaly should be tolerated. It is not only a question of the doors of Eton and Harrow being open to a labourer's child as well as to a peer's. There is a graver anomaly than that to be set right. Education which is the birth-right of the child born in the slums of London or Cardiff or some other city must be put within the reach of the child born among the lovely rural amenities or Little Puddleton or Llannwchllyn.

I conclude with a sincere expression of envy—envy of my right hon. Friend's youth and enthusiasm and of the great opportunity which has placed the future of British manhood in his hands. May he drive his furrow to the end now that he has put so determined a hand to the plough.

Mr. Denville (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

Is it necessary, Mr. Speaker, that fresh air should be shut out of this Chamber?

Mr. Speaker

I am arranging that the remaining windows shall be opened now.

Mr. Denman (Leeds, Central)

Up to how I think we shall all agree that this Debate would have been highly suitable to the Second Reading of an Education Bill. I do not know that there has been any appreciable difference between such a Second Reading Debate and the Debate upon this White Paper. Perhaps the last speech would have been more in Order on the Bill itself. The Minister did not refer to an Amendment which some hon. Members and myself have put on the Order Paper which indicates the eagerness of some of us to see a Bill and to get on with it. It has been the Government's policy, as far as we can tell, that this House should have no major legislation brought before it during the war if the Government can possibly help it. We want to save the Minister from that ban. He gave no signs that he would produce a Bill but I hope he will get encouragement from this Debate to bring in a Bill as soon as may be.

This is a profoundly important White Paper and a profoundly important discussion. We all recognise that this change does mark a great move forward—or backward, because people take different views—in the direction of State control of the development of youth in this country. We all of us realise that that control may have great perils as well as great opportunities. Any hon. Member who has read that distressing book entitled "Education for Death" written by an American about Nazi education will realise to what depths of infamy education can be brought under the conduct of evil men. Though we have faith in the President of the Board of Education and his Parliamentary Secretary, it is still the fact that we are giving the State immense power, and that is something which should make us regard with open eyes the road we are taking.

The President has no doubt carefully surveyed the duties of the State, the parent and the youth respectively. Assuming for a moment that education is confined to youth, we can see a steady change in the incidence of duty. It begins with the duty of the State and the parent and the aim is the good of the child. It ends in the duty of the youth to pursue the welfare of the community of which he is a member. I am a little sorry that the White Paper made no reference to this matter, which, for the first time in recent years, we have seen exemplified in the Military Training Act, 1939. That was the recognition of the duties of youth towards the State. Before this White Paper plan is put into full operation, we may well have reached the decision that democratic education is not complete unless it has a concluding stage in which it is the duty of youth to be trained in the service of his community; in which that duty is fully recognised and a period of service is inserted in relation either to the university or to the child's life. That point is not dealt with.

Another point which is not dealt with is the employment of school children. The Act of 1918 made a series of important improvements in the law relating to the employment of juveniles. The White Paper is silent on the subject. We must recognise that in this scheme, juvenile employment is in one particular point removed from educational influence. We all like the idea of a school-leaving age at 15 or 16 without exemptions, but the procedure of exemption did give local education authorities some power in influencing the employment of children. The employer had to go cap in hand and satisfy the education authority that his occupation fulfilled certain specified conditions laid down in the Act, before the local authority would grant him release of the child until the age of 15 was reached. No doubt that would have been indifferently administered in some cases, but we know that a number of first-rate authorities were taking it very seriously and they would have had a very real influence in the conditions of employment of juveniles in their neighbourhood. Once again we shall get a situation in which the child suddenly stops his schooling and suddenly starts his employment without any necessary influence by the education authority. Of course, when the youth colleges are started there will again be an educational influence in the youth's career, but for anything up to six years there will be no such influence at all.

Yet another point which I wish to bring to the attention of the President is that I believe our present system of having general Statute law that can be modified by by-laws in relation to children's employment has served its purpose and is no longer desirable. The time has gone when we should lay down statutory standards and permit variation by means of by-laws. If that change were not adopted, I should suggest another one, and that is that the by-laws should be confirmed by the Board of Education rather than by the Home Office. By-laws relating to the education of school children are essentially a matter to be dealt with on education principles rather than on industrial principles. Yes- terday, by the way, we had a meeting of the Committee on Wage Earning Children and the view was very strongly expressed that all employment for wages by school children should now be abolished. Work before school in which children become tired or wet is a mistake, and we should recognise that a child of school age is the whole time concern of the educational authority.

I warmly commend in this White Paper the recognition of the place of religion in education. It is a commonplace to-day that education is not a matter of mere mental instruction, or even merely a device for promoting orderly activities of mind. We need to provide for the development of the whole man, physically, mentally and spiritually. The need is the greater in proportion as the State increases the range of its control. The State is now to have control up to the age of 18, and it must not develop lopsided men. That would be a profound mistake. The State has hitherto been unduly concerned with material things and has impressed its materialistic outlook upon its people. Education which fails to stir up and strengthen the religious instincts of man is incomplete. It must lead to a decadent society, lacking in vital purpose and living inspiration. I am not going to deal with the subject of the dual system. How to stimulate those religious instincts is a matter for experts in teaching, but I am quite sure that the best results are derived not so much from verbal instruction as from the creation of an atmosphere pervading the life of the school and giving the school community a recognisable character. The teaching is successful when the school is living its religion rather than when it is showing its capacity to talk about it. No syllabus alone can do that, only the personal quality of the teacher. On our success in finding and encouraging the true type of teacher the future of this country rests. I observe that the fires of controversy are already being lit. I feel sure that the House as a whole will have little sympathy with any denomination, however high-minded its supporters may be, that attempts to impose its will in hindrance of a general settlement.

I come to my final point. I thank the President especially for his word "diversity" and for his insistence upon the importance of freedom in the school. He wishes us to retain diversity and to avoid dull uniformity. That is profoundly important. Neither school nor teacher can do its best work if made unnecessarily conscious of the weight of imposed authority. Of course, there must be order and system. But the more those engaged in the great adventure of teaching can breathe the air of freedom, the better for their pupils. Beware of the pursuit of equality. Catch phrases like "equality of opportunity" are very attractive, and we all like them, but they have their limitation. I have always urged and shall continue to urge that education should be related not to the pockets of the parents but to the capacity of the children. Equality of opportunity, however, does not and cannot exist, and undue pursuit of it may result in excessive standardisation and sameness. Children in two houses side by side in the same street may not have equal opportunity.

Viscountess Astor

Even children of the same parents.

Mr. Denman

Let us not try to delude people with that phrase. Opportunity depends even upon psychological factors within the children and within their parents. [Interruption.] I am sorry. I know that this is an interesting point, and I should like to pursue it, but my time is severely limited. I want other hon. Members to have their full equality of opportunity. I welcome what the President said about grammar schools. I believe that the freedom of the governors of the grammar schools has largely been preserved in the past. There are dangers in paragraph do, but I hope and I feel sure that under the President's administration the freedom of these governors will not be impaired. The more democratic a society, the more must the aim of diversity be pursued rather than the aim of uniformity and sameness. Man must not emulate the ant. We should make up our minds that the governing word of educational advance is "quality" rather than "equality" I am sure we all join in wishing the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary success in their enterprise. They have what is in the long run the major reconstruction task, more important than that of any other Minister and more important than any contained in all the portfolios of the Minister without Portfolio. I hope all sections in the House will collaborate in helping them to build with courage and wisdom.

Dr. Haden Guest (Islington North)

I wish very shortly to draw attention to certain physical aspects of this subject dealing with the physical condition of the child, and I would refer to page 24, paragraph 95, in regard to school meals, which were designed to prevent the value of education being lost through the inability of children to profit from it through insufficiency of food. At the present time one quarter of the children in the country are getting a midday meal. I wish that the President of the Board of Education would undertake that it shall be a definite part of Government policy that in every school of every kind without exception, from the public school, where pupils usually get, but not invariably get, a meal at the middle of the day, to the schools which are now called primary schools, that there shall be one completely sufficient meal on all occasions and without any test: or question of ability to pay or otherwise. I am quite sure the experience we have had of this matter in the war will have shown the immense value of providing this meal, and in view of the fact which we have been told twice this week, once in a Debate on overseas trade, about restrictions and stringencies in the years after the war ends, and yesterday, when the Minister of Agriculture spoke of stringency for some years in regard to food, it is essential that we should now provide, before this war ends and before this year ends, one suitable meal for every child in every grade of school. I think that is a matter on which, whatever else we may disagree on, all Members of the House might agree.

Then there is another matter that I must refer to, because I am astonished. I want to draw the President's attention to the wording of paragraph 94 with regard to medical inspection and the adequate treatment of defects found on medical inspection of children in school. The sentence I would draw attention to says: When this stage is reached … —that is to say, when there is a comprehensive and unifies. medical service. That may be a considerable time as yet—the White Paper to be issued by the Minister of Health has not yet been issued, and the House has not yet had an opportunity of discussing that matter, and it certainly is not going to be immediately possible to bring Assumption B of the Beveridge Report into existence, but whether that was brought into existence or not, this particular sentence is a dangerous one. It says that when this stage is reached of a general medical service being created: … it will no longer be necessary for local education authorities to provide treatment, and their functions will be confined to providing medical inspections. … I venture to say that is a very dangerous statement. It is the general experience that the medical inspection which was instituted quite a number of years ago brought knowledge in the schools of the existence of a large number of comparatively minor defects which had never before been treated by hospitals or doctors in the normal way. It was necessary to provide special school clinics to treat them. These, starting in London, have spread all over the country. They have proved their value, and the improved condition of development, the improved conditions of school children to-day as compared with the school children's condition 20 years ago, are undoubtedly due to the activities of the school medical service. This paragraph, unless it is explained away or unless it is retracted, is a dangerous one, because it would tend to undermine that school medical service, and it would be extremely unfortunate if that should be so.

My concluding comment is that in the White Paper, extending to 36 pages, there are only one page and a few lines dealing with the physical conditions of the child. I venture to say that that is out of proportion. One paragraph goes so far as to deal with the whole class of children described as handicapped children—crippled and handicapped in various ways, who, it points out, are dealt with in Part V of the Education Act, 1921. All that the White Paper says is that this Part of the Act will require substantial modification. We might have been given a little more indication of the President's views on that point. What is it proposed to do With regard to the physical development of the children apart from food and the prevention of ailments by proper medical inspection? What is it proposed to do by way of games, sport and so on? This is referred to very briefly under the heading "The Youth Service," but only very briefly indeed. I venture to think that the President has been too much occupied with this unfortunate religious controversy, which seems likely to divide us again. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am glad hon. Members do not think so. I hope that the President will give more attention to the physical basis of education, the child's body, because you cannot get proper education into a child unless that child is properly fed, and you cannot get a very large number of children in this country properly fed unless they are given a meal at school. It is not only a question of poverty. You get conditions of bad feeding from ignorance among the children of many people who go to the public schools. I have known cases of persons attending schools, the names of which are household terms all over the world, suffering from rickets through malnutrition—bad feeding. One of the most important changes that could be made in education in this country would he to provide every child going to school with a good and a satisfactory meal in the middle of the day, whatever class they come from, whatever kind of school they attend.

Colonel Sir John Shute (Liverpool, Exchange)

I do not often intrude myself upon the notice of the House, because I have found, so far as I am concerned, that the problems I have to deal with in my constituency are best dealt with by direct contact with the Ministers, or the Departments over which they preside. But on this occasion I feel it is right for me to place before my fellow Members some thoughts and opinions with regard to education problems in which I have been interested for the best part of my life. I shall deal with the problems specifically from the Roman Catholic point of view, of which faith I am a member. Doubtless others as the same faith as myself located in different parts of the House will add their contributions later to the Debate, so I intend entirely to confine my remarks as far as possible to the problem of the elementary schools, and the financial position they will find themselves in according to the terms of the White Paper. I would say, in passing, that I agree with many of the thoughts that have been put forward by previous speakers, and I could not agree fundamentally with many of the points put forward by the hon. Member for the University of Wales {Professor Gruffydd).

It will be necessary, as I see it, but I trust without unduly keeping the House at this late hour, to sketch out the historical background of this part of the problem, which is one of outstanding, and indeed fundamental, importance to our Catholic people. Let me say at once that any comments I may make or any criticisms I may put forward I would desire to preface such remarks by saying that I am a whole-hearted believer in the sincerity and desire of my right hon. Friend a and also his most able and conscientious Parliamentary colleague in trying to find a solution of this age-old problem that has eluded so many of his predecessors. They have, to my knowledge, laboured patiently and with untiring zeal in seeing those who are associated with this problem to try and find a way out, and if I have any complaint at all, I would say only this, that I believe they have failed, as I see it, to take advantage to the fullest extent of the changed circumstances of the time and have allowed their minds to be too occupied and impressed by the arguments and suspicions of the past, many of which even at that time were, as I saw, illogical in their thesis and dishonest in their implications.

I would turn to this brief historical survey. Prior to 1870, it will be remembered, the question of a dual system and the problems involved in it hardly existed, as the bulk of the elementary schools were denominational. There were some 6,700 Church of England schools, looking after 1,500,000 children, 1,691 schools of various denominations, looking after some 450,000 children, and we Catholic people had at that time 383 schools with 113,000 children. It was decided quite rightly that a much more complete system of education should be brought into being, and board schools, as they were then called, came into being. From that moment, I claim, injustice and inequitable treatment were meted out to the denominational schools, which have continued to a greater or lesser extent since. The first fundamental alteration in the financial provisions affecting voluntary schools took place in 1902, when a new Parliamentary Measure was carried to enable maintenance charges of voluntary schools to become a public charge. Otherwise all expenses of general repairs and so forth and the total costs of any new schools which were to be erected which for the preceding 32 years had been carried on entirely by subscriptions and private donations to the bodies concerned, were left entirely to the voluntary bodies concerned. At the same time we Catholic people—and the Church of England was the same—were at the same time as ratepayers paying fully our quota of rates for council schools to which practically none of our children went.

Simultaneously with this, the famous Cowper-Temple Clause was incorporated in the Act of 187o. I claim that that Clause really meant that religious instructions of a certain kind became from that moment State subsidised and protected. The 1902 Act undoubtedly lessened to some extent the burden which had been carried solely by the denominational schools for 32 years, but since then many advances and improvements, all desired and desirable, have become more insistent, but no further aid was received to meet this financial burden. It is hardly surprising that in the course of years the Board of Education, after a survey of the schools of the country, found that many schools were not up to the standard they desired, and a black list was issued of those which were felt to fall below that standard. Even at that time I would point out the original black list was by no means confined to the denominational schools, for of the number coming under this heading while 2,113 were in charge of the voluntary bodies, no fewer than 714 were council schools.

Here I might interpolate that by the end of 1938 the official figures of the Board of Education showed 417 improved or closed council schools, leaving 236 to be dealt with, but of the 2,113 denominational schools the same list showed that a total of no fewer than 1,585 had been removed from that category, all of those, which were still open having been improved by and at the sole expense of the voluntary bodies themselves. I have said "all those that were open," because many, primarily Church of England schools, had been either closed entirely or turned over to council schools because they could not or would not face the expense of the improvements. But no Catholic school had been closed and none handed over as far as I know, out of this list. The latest official figures that I can find are those of 1942, showing that out of the total I have mentioned 212 provided schools are still on the black list, 399 Church of England schools and Roman Catholic and other schools 142. Attempts were made after 1902 to upset the comparatively partial measure of equity and justice which had been obtained in the 1902 Act. In 1906 what was known as the Birrell Bill was brought forward. It failed to pass into law, notwithstanding the fact that the promoters had a large Government majority behind them in the House of Commons. The next step was the McKenna Bill of 1908, which introduced the new idea of contracting out by the voluntary bodies. That was withdrawn. Later in the same year came the Runciman Bill, which also had the, to us, objectionable Clause, with its subtle temptation to contract out of the general and national system, which we had no wish to do. This Bill went no further, and since then no fresh effort has been made to rob denominational schools of the partial financial aid given in the 1902 Act.

Might I interject a few remarks on public control of voluntary schools, about which I am sure there is much genuine misunderstanding in the minds of those who have not studied this subject closely? The managers of voluntary schools are compelled, and rightly so, to carry out secular instruction exactly on the lines laid down by the local education authority. The managers do appoint the teachers on the regular teaching staff, but they must obtain consent from the local education authority before doing so. The managers must carry out the instructions of the local education authority to dismiss teachers on educational grounds. It is true that the managers have the right to dismiss teachers, but solely on religious grounds. The managers must provide a school house, free of charge, for use as a public elementary school, keep it in good repair, and make such alterations as may reasonably be required, all at their own expense. If the local education authority have no suitable accommodation available in the neighbourhood, the managers must allow the building to be used out of school hours for not more than three days a week if required for general educational purposes.

Coming along through the years, I get down to 1923. I find, going through the records of what took place in this House, that the following Motion was carried nemine contradicente. It was moved by the late Mr. T. P. O'Connor and seconded by a most profound scholar, a member of the Labour Party, Mr. Sidney Webb, as he was at that time. The Motion was: That the present system of imposing on Catholics of England the burden of building their own schools is contrary to religious and economic equality, and that the system of complete educational equality, as existing in Scotland, should, with necessary changes, be adopted in England. That was 20 years ago. I pass on to 1926, when we had the Hadow Report, which foreshadowed far-reaching changes for plus II children. We welcomed these proposals, as we shall always welcome proposals which mean improvements in the education of our working-class children. The very reasonable Catholic attitude was voiced in a resolution passed by the Liverpool Catholic School Managers, Association as follows:— Whilst recognising the merits of the proposals"— that is, the Hadow proposals— from an educational point of view, the managers of the Catholic elementary schools find themselves unable to carry out the proposals, because they are utterly impracticable without suitable additional aid from public funds, of which there is no promise. This resolution was not surprising in the light of what had happened in the meantime. The cost of erecting school buildings just before 1914 was somewhere about £12 per place. After the war it was about £40 per place and continued to soar. Some of the newer schools cost about £60 or £70 per place. Between 1915 and 1930 the Catholics themselves built new schools at a cost approximating to £1,700,000. The cost of repairs and improvements to these schools had gone up, and these had to be borne practically entirely by the voluntary bodies. There are other points: travelling expenses of teachers, the upkeep of playing fields and so forth; the cost of all of which falls on voluntary bodies. I think it is a conservative estimate that since 1918 the Catholic bodies alone have spent on their schools £2,500,000 on new buildings, extensions and replacements. In the archdiocese of Liverpool, where I was born, bred, and have lived, we have spent £490,000 on elementary schools, £200,000 on secondary schools, and £io,000 on a training. college. I think that the lines of Rudyard Kipling dealing with the price we pay for our command of the sea might well be adjusted to the case of our Catholic schools: If blood be the price of Admiralty, Lord God we have paid in full"— for our consciences. I now pass on to 1930. An attempt to revive the Hadow scheme was made, and a new Bill was introduced by the then Minister, Sir Charles Trevelyan. Two Bills were produced that year, and, after arguments, both were withdrawn. A third was introduced, and it passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons. On the Report stage, the late Mr. Scurr, a highly respected member of the Labour party, moved his historic amendment, providing: That the Bill shall not come into operation until an Act is passed authorising expenditure out of public funds on such conditions as were necessary to meet the cost to be incurred by managers of voluntary schools in meeting the requirements of the Act. That Amendment was carried by 282 to 249. With this Amendment added, the Third Reading was passed. The Bill went to the House of Lords, and, with its Amendment, was rejected there. So the Bill was killed. Three years later there was a new Minister, Lord Halifax. He stated in Debate that the Scurr Amendment was fundamentally important, and added that he was quite certain that if at any time, especially in the light of reorganisation, a fresh attempt to raise the school-leaving age, etc., were made without first dealing with the voluntary school problem, such an attempt would meet the same fate as formerly. I would remind the House that in 1935, just before the General Election, both the National and Labour Parties issued statements on educational policy, and both promised to introduce legislation to give further financial aid to voluntary schools to allow the suggested re-organisation to take place. Then came the last Education Bill in 1936. It passed through the Legislature under the Presidency of the present Colonial Secretary. In one of his speeches during the discussion on that Bill and referring to the failure to implement the Trevelyan Bill he lamented the fact that it had been impossible to meet the emergency but remarked that nobody had gained from this. For voluntary schools had for five years been without the possibilities of a grant, the local education authorities for five years had seen in many districts their scheme of reorganising held up because the grant was not available, and, of the children, many had passed from school life, without ever having been brought into the sort of senior school which a settlement of this grant would have made available for them.

The 1936 Act, in which I took a part in Committee, marked another step forward in justice and equity, in so far as the new senior schools for plus II children were concerned, but only for this age range of scholars, it empowered the local education authorities to give a grant of between 50 and 75 per cent. of the cost of such alterations and improvements for the putting up of a new senior school if such new school would be more advantageous than the extending or reconditioning of an existing school. Financial aid was furnished, and in a great number of instances the full 75 per cent. was paid. It was not so in all cases, and Liverpool, to its discredit, refused to carry out the Act in its implied entirety. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was the Tory Party."] I agree that a Tory Party was in power for which I had no use. I dissociated myself from them. It was such a discreditable performance. I made no bones about it. A special Act of Parliament had to be passed to deal with the special situation in that city. Here is a point worth remembering. This Act allows public money to be found for new schools under certain conditions of repayment. Following on the re-organisation suggested by the Hadow Report, in the Liverpool Archdiocese they had arranged for 28,500 places at a cost to the Catholic community of £356,000, reckoning on a 75 per cent. grant and calculating each school place at £50. Owing to the war, many of these schemes could not be carried out.

The President of the Board of Education will agree that in proportion to our numbers the Catholic body put forward a very large proportion of the total number of plans lying at present in the archives of his Department, to be carried out if, and when, the possibilities exist of so doing. But it must be remembered that no grant at all is to be made for any new school for juniors, and with the growth or change of population, the latter of which will probably be more marked in future by the replanning and transference of industrial areas, there is bound to be a call for new schools as our Catholic child population is, generally speaking, increasing. I have noted a resolution passed by the Trades Union Congress. It was brought forward, I understand, without previous notice of their intention to deal with this special problem. In it they suggest incorporating all denominational schools in State schools except insofar as denominations themselves may be able, and willing, to bear the whole cost of their separate institutions. It was surely an astounding negation of democracy and the right of conscience which this country still ensures to its inhabitants. I am not unduly alarmed by the resolution, because I am sure that it does not represent the views of the majority of the Labour Party in this House. Indeed I was assured by one of the important Labour leaders in my part of the world, with whom I am in friendly contact on many questions, that nothing would be more helpful to my party—the Conservative Party—to capture many of the seats now held by Labour members than that such a resolution should be adopted.

Rather am I glad that there is a National Government in power with all parties in it, and the problem would seem to me to be easier of solution. That great Englishman and patriot, the late Cardinal Hinsley, whose death some few months ago was such a great loss to the country generally and to the Catholic body in particular, published a letter in February last, from which I extract the following to show his deep feeling on the question before us. Our present difficulties, our debts for school buildings, our defects, are due to the inequalities of the past, which condemned us to compete with the provided schools in respect to building and equipment. This unfairness was inflicted on Catholic ratepayers and taxpayers because of their consciences, and because they could not accept a programme of religious instruction agreeable to more wealthy fellow-citizens. Catholics from these Islands and from the various parts of the great British Commonwealth of Nations, have given and are giving their full share to victory in the war, and we are most anxious to avoid a revival of the old controversies of the past, at this time of crisis. We are still willing to make financial sacrifices for conscience sake, but there is a limit and the present financial proposals are inadequate. One could prolong this and other arguments indefinitely, but I do not wish to detain the House any longer, knowing how many Members desire to speak. The Catholic body welcomes fully the general outline of the White Paper but we are desirous that our schools and the children therein, should have at their disposal all the advantages that are freely offered elsewhere. In justice and equity, I would always maintain that we are entitled to exactly the same financial support as the council schools, so long as we can find the requisite number of scholars to fill our schools, and the secular teaching is fully up to the approved standard. But if this complete solution is not yet possible, then I have to say that the amount we, as a body, would have to find under the suggested plans embodied in the White Paper, is beyond our power. We feel it right and proper that this fact should be stated frankly and clearly, so that no possible charge of breach of understandings can be levelled against us in the future. I leave the matter now to my fellow-Members, the great majority of whom are not of my faith; but I have full confidence in their fair and unbiased judgment and trust to them to see that we are not penalised, in the manner and to the extent indicated in the proposals now before the House.

Mr. Guy (Poplar, South)

I appreciate very much the opportunity of saying a few words in such an important Debate. I would, first, offer my congratulations to the Minister and to the Parliamentary Secretary for having been able to reach such a measure of agreement as that brought forward in the White Paper now before the House. The proposals are far reaching and will have a great effect upon the well-being of the future of this country. I also feel sure that there are many Members of this House who would have liked to have seen these proposals brought in in 1923 instead of 1943. Heading the White Paper's proposals are the words: Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. No truer words could ever have been put before the House of Commons. Many of my fellow Members could, I am sure, speak of hard and bitter experiences which we have suffered as a result of the defects of the previous Education Acts which have been passed by Parliament. Many of us have suffered because of the absence of reforms such as those we are discussing now. I am one of five survivors of a family of 21. The five of us have had children who have won scholarships in the County of London. But the tragedy has been that each one of us has been compelled through economic circumstances to take away our children from further education and put them to work on the labour market in order to bring some measure of support and income into the family and to help keep the home going. I myself, stricken with ill-health through war service, and having a son who would have been able to continue his career at the City of London College, had to take him away so that he could go to work and support me, my wife and child. Only as recently as last week a brother of mine whose son was fortunate enough to win a scholarship in Somerset had to consent to my sister-in-law taking him away from school so that he could contribute towards the family income. My brother is in the Army, and he had to do this because of the inadequacy of the separation allowances. Therefore, I hope that hon. Members will see that what is said in the White Paper with regard to this question of allowances is implemented in the Bill which is to come.

I am looking forward with very great hopes to the presentation of the Fleming Report. I trust we shall be sincere in saying that we do not intend to allow any exemptions at all when we raise the school-leaving age to 15. If ever there was a tragic aspect of the Act of 1936, it was that which allowed exemptions to take place. What would have happened in 1939 in the East End of London if Mrs. Jones's boy had been given exemption and Mrs. Brown's boy, a few doors away, had not? My hon. Friend the Member for North Islington (Dr. Haden Guest) has spoken about the feeding of our school children. I attach great importance to this subject. Many of us will remember past years when school children went out to school with a piece of bread and jam, and if they came home at midday were fortunate if they were able to get anything else. I suggest to the Minister that he should make it compulsory for all local authorities to provide two school meals a day, not one. Such an act would have a very beneficial effect upon our children's education.

There is one other point which -has been too easily forgotten, yet which is important. I hope it will be made compulsory for local authorities to hold school camps to which our children can be sent for a holiday every year. Think of the beneficial effect of such holiday camps. It is no good talking about the future of our children and what should or should not be for their benefit unless their physical well-being is looked after. We have now arrived at the time of the summer school holidays. Year after year we see thousands of our children roaming the streets with nowhere to go. I believe we should get absolute unanimity of agreement on this question, not only among our ordinary people, but among large employers. Who have been more affected than they by the cadging appeals of organisations and individuals year after year for donations to send poor children out for a day in the country? Such things ought never to happen again. There have been organisations like the Country Holiday Children's Fund which have done useful work, but they have only been able to touch the fringe of the question, and the places the children have gone to have not been very satisfactory.

I have had the opportunity and privilege recently of visiting many of our public schools, and I want to see the same opportunity for our children as is given to the boys of other schools. One of the principal features of their education is that they are well fed. That is a determining feature in the educational well-being of our children. A great responsibility rests upon the shoulders of every one of us to put the proposals of the White Paper into effect as speedily as possible in order that the children of the class that I am proud to belong to will have the opportunity of furthering their education in the best interests of the community at large.

Mr. Nunn (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

I wish to join in offering my very hearty congratulations to my right hon. Friend and his colleagues on the really notable piece of work that they have undertaken. I am hoping that, when the Bill is presented to us and ultimately becomes an Act, my right hon. Friend's name will go down to future generations as that of one of those who made the soundest mark upon the civilisation of our people. He has something far more important in his charge than a mere departmental charge. His work will make an impact not only upon our own civilisation but in all probability upon the future of the civilisa- tion of the world. I think he has the capacity to do it in spite of the fact that he is perhaps a little too disposed to be modest about himself. I beg him to go the whole hog, take his courage in his hands and do a really good piece of work.

I imagine that the hon. Member who spoke last moved everyone by the sincerity of his remarks, but I beg him, in common with his colleagues, to remember, when speaking about the privations of youth and so forth—I am not suggesting that he was in any way bitter about it; he was not—that those conditions are not entirely unknown on this side of the House. There are Members on this side who, thank Heaven, did not have everything handed to them in a silver or golden spoon. I think it has been the making of many people that they had to go through these privations in their early youth. When I recall the careers of some of my friends and realise what a lamentable use they have made of the splendid opportunities they have had, simply because they were handed out to them without any effort on their part, I am not always so sure that life is so unequal as to hand out everything to the man who does not have to make any effort. If we do not like making the effort at the time—and it is disagreeable to do it—it is a most salutary thing. Life is not a sheltered experience. There are some very cold winds that blow through life, and the sooner you get used to that fact the better for you and your future career. There is an idea current in certain quarters that people on this side are entirely ignorant of those things with which they themselves are so very familiar.

I think most Members would agree heartily with the hon. Member that full opportunity should be given to any class of boy to go to a public school. I have the greatest possible admiration for the public school system, and I disagree entirely with anyone who says that the public school trains only a set of snobs. That is entirely untrue. In fact, the snobbishness comes from the persons who lodge the complaint. It is widely assumed that those who go to public schools go there because their fathers have the greatest possible ease in paying for them. Anybody who knows anything about, say, life in a country parsonage, knows that hundreds of parents are suffering great privation because, having paid through the ordinary methods of taxation for the general education of the country, they had determined that their children shall go to the same school as that to which they themselves went. They are starving and denying themselves, in order to meet that expenditure. What I should like to see if possible is that we should pass any class of boy—I do not like the word "class" because it is offensive, but I cannot think of another word—right through the public school. It would be good, not only for the boy who goes there but for the boys with whom he comes in contact when he gets there. Recently, the master of a good school told me that he would welcome it, because he thought it would have a good effect on his other boys. I agree. Do not let us have a stereotyped monotony in education. We want variety. If we reduce life to one deadly monotone, we shall take something valuable out of it. The more variety we can get in education, the better it will be for the country.

I really got up to say a word on the Roman Catholic schools. I am not speaking as a member of the faith. If I am taxed on that point I would say that I am an extremely Low Churchman—using the word "low" in an ecclesiastical sense. I have had, perforce, for a good many years, to come in contact a great deal with the Catholic educational system, and in doing so, not only in this country but in other parts of the world, I have secured a sound idea of how they carry out their work. I have gained a great respect for their educational work. The basis of that work is not the daily act of worship; it is the daily contact between believing master and flock. I am not going to indulge in a historical survey such as the hon. Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Shute) gave us. One of those surveys is probably sufficient for one day. I want to bring this matter back to its reality. What is the reality of the position? There is a fact existing, and that fact is that the Roman Catholic community, whether they are right or wrong—I think they are right—does not like any arrangement which cuts them off from daily contact with the young members of their flock. We pride ourselves on our religious tolerance. We can argue if we like, that the Roman Catholics should be more tolerant. I think that the Church of England and the Nonconformist bodies would be perfectly satisfied, probably, with the system of worship suggested in the White Paper. I am convinced that the Roman Catholics will not and that they will have a sense of grievance right through. I will read a letter which I received an hour or so ago from one who has every authority to speak for the Roman Catholic faith. It puts the point much better than I could put it. I voice the earnest wish of all Catholic parents. The children belong to them, and they have a God-given right to educate them according to their conscientious belief. They see their fellow-citizens having schools built for their children out of funds to which all contribute; and those schools are built to satisfy the religious belief of the parents who send their children to them. Not unnaturally they ask why they, Catholic parents, should have to build, at immense cost, schools to satisfy their own conscience. Why not build Protestant, Jewish and Catholic schools, in cases where their numbers admit of it, taking care to see that the standard of secular instruction is the same for all. I believe that there would he a greater opportunity of getting acceptance of these proposals from the Roman Catholics if, in an area where there were sufficient Roman Catholic children to fill a complete school, that school were built by public funds in the ordinary way. It would not cost the country any more, because if the school were not built two council schools would have to be built. We might just as well face the question that there are so many hundreds of Roman Catholic children in the area who would fill a school. So why not build it? It seems to me a very small concession. This is not a matter of reason; it is a matter about which you cannot reason or argue. It is an indubitable fact which exists, and so long as there are Roman Catholics holding to their faith, so long will they hold that opinion and take that attitude. We may like it or not, but we cannot argue about it.

Mr. R. Morgan (Stourbridge)

What would the hon. Gentleman do in the case of a single-school area?

Mr. Nunn

Where there were not enough children to fill one school, they would have to make their own arrangements on the lines of the White Paper. I am only suggesting it for areas where it can be done.

I want to make a comment on the subject of art. Among my few interests in life, art happens to be one. I do not know what my right hon. Friend includes in art, whether he means pictorial art or the arts of music, poetry and so forth. These subjects will have to be tackled with considerable vigour by our educational system, and I hope that when my right hon. Friend comes to tackle art, in both the primary schools and the continuation schools, he will have the courage to divorce it entirely from South Kensington. I, in common with most people who have taken a little interest in art, feel that the impact of South Kensington is one of the major tragedies of the latter half of the Victorian period, and it is still most marked all over the country.

If my right hon. Friend can so arrange that his art students shall be taught the rudiments of drawing, the rudiments of perspective—and in all branches of education, there are no rudiments that can be acquired without taking a severe amount of pains and without blood and tears—and then leave the talented boys and girls more or less to paddle their own canoes, to find their own modes of expression, it will be some sort of effort to produce a nation which has a better idea of art than our nation has at the present moment. If when he is tackling music he can divorce the children, when they go up to the secondary schools, from that very useful tonic sol-fa notation which they teach in the primary schools, and train a large number of them to learn staff notation, he will not cut off the children of this land from a knowledge of music. It is true that it may have some effect in making a lot of people disagree with the jungle wailings which proceed from the radio night after night. He may even, by accident, cause the people of this country to feel queasy when so-called humour is produced by the same mechanism under the title of "Itma," but that would not be altogether without advantage. If he can do anything through his education methods to bring back something of those conditions which I remember in my rather remote youth, when it was not uncommon to go into house after house, even humble homes, and find three or four persons who could pick up a sheet of music and read it, even if their voices were not good, he will do a very good piece of work for the country.

My last point is about teachers. It is difficult to talk about teaching staffs, because so many people are apt to suppose that one is being scornful of them or is sneering at them. We all know there are some splendid teachers, many of them quite the right type of men, doing good work, but we also know that there is in the profession some very inferior material, inferior temperamentally and inferior culturally, unfortunately. Something has to be done to put that right. I know that my right hon. Friend attaches a great deal of importance to this. I suggest that perhaps there is a strong wish to save the administrative machinery by making a regular service of the teaching profession. I should like to see things a little more elastic, with men coming into and going out of the profession. Nothing would do teachers more good than to go out into business for a few years after five years of teaching, under arrangements whereby if they could not succeed they could go back to teaching again. What I would like to see as much as anything is a regular system of exchange of the teachers of this country and the teachers of the Dominions and, if possible, of foreign countries. It can be done. I beg my right hon. Friend not to worry too much about the administrative difficulties. If he finds any difficulty he can always come here and get the full sympathy of the House.

We must get into our schools men who will really take in hand the training of the future generation. It is not so much that we want children to learn how to pass examinations. I am rather scornful about examinations. I hope, above everything, that my right hon. Friend will never allow anybody to persuade Lim that...one of the main objects of education is training to get a job in life. The main job of education is to rear up people of character, to teach people to read. As a politician I would, above everything else, teach them to reason logically and to recognise a logical argument when they see it. Those of us who have to appear on platforms would then find ourselves much more comfortable. I do not know why the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor) should think I am an optimist. I am hoping that by the change in education, we shall get a race of people growing up in this country who can both reason and hope for the future—because, without hope, their reasoning will be no good. I hope we shall get them to believe that one of the main objects of life is to seek truth and ensue it. If we can do that, we shall be going a long way towards making this country much happier than it has been for many years in the past.

Mr. William Brown (Rugby)

We have had a very unusual experience in this House to-day. We have had a Minister speaking to us about the post-war policy of the Government. Sometimes Ministers are unable to speak to us about the postwar policy of their Departments, sometimes they are unwilling to speak. And sometimes, as in the case of the Minister of Agriculture, they are not allowed to speak to us. To-day, we have had a Minister who has been both willing, able, and free to speak to us about post-war policy in education, and that is a very gratifying thing. I should like to add my tribute in recognition of what hon. Members have said at least of the intentions of this White Paper.

I want to express the view that there are three key words in this problem of education that go to the root of the matter. The first is "buildings"; the second is "teachers"; and the third is "maintenance." I will say a word or two about each of those three things. This programme envisages a tremendous amount of building in the post-war period. I am not sure that the Minister of Education will get that building unless he has already arranged a suitable priority for himself. This matter assumes some importance from what happened the other day when we were debating the Ministry of Works. During that Debate there was a widespread demand, which came mainly from the benches opposite, that as soon as the war came to an end the control of the Ministry of Works over building operations should be brought to an end. If that were to happen, we should then presumably see education authorities competing in a market still short of labour and materials for the wherewithal to equip themselves with schools. If that happens, I think that, grave as the rise in building costs has been since the war, it would go up to astronomical heights. Therefore I invite the Minister to give us an assurance that the Ministry of Works is playing ball with him in this matter, and that he will get the priorities and the material and the labour which this immense programme involves.

The second element are the teachers. Here I want to be absolutely blunt. This education programme will call for probably 70,000 extra teachers. That was the figure given to us at Question time to-day by the Minister. I do not believe that we shall get 70,000 additional good teachers, with the teaching profession in anything like its present condition. I regard the teaching profession as a first-class example of skimping on necessary work. I believe the teaching profession has neither the status nor the emoluments that that important service ought to have. I regard it as an indispensable preliminary to putting education in Britain upon a really satisfactory basis that we should lift up the status of that profession, that we should apply, if you like, stiffer tests for admission to it, but that we should give to the good teacher a remuneration worthy of the service he renders to the country.

We must be frank about this. That state of affairs does not exist to-day. I was talking the other day to the editor of one of our weekly papers. He has a daughter whom he has kept at school to a very advanced age. She has been trained as a teacher, and, on top of the ordinary training, has had a year's training in a Montesori school. Here in Britain we are very short of teachers. That girl, on the completion of her training, has been trying to get a job, and with those qualifications the best offer she has been able to get is £80 a year. What has happened to that girl? She has gone into a munitions factory. We have probably got a good additional munition worker, but we have lost what might have been a very excellent teacher. That is what will go on while the present range of emoluments stands.

I happened to pick up in the Smoking Room this morning—and I am afraid I have broken the rule by bringing the newspaper out—a copy of the "News Chronicle," which gives the experience of one would-be woman teacher on this question of salaries and municipal service. She says here: I left school at 18 and entered a training college where I stayed until I was 20. In order to pay my fees I had a loan of £80 from my local education authority. This lady is now working as a teacher. She has been working for one year. She does not qualify for the full war bonus, which by the way is itself grossly inade- quate, because she is not yet 21. Her salary is £13 10s. a month and her war bonus £1 12S. 6d.—a total of £15 2s. 6d. In order to be a highly trained and highly skilled teacher, she has stayed at school and in training until a comparatively advanced age. I beg the President of the Board of Trade to take this case seriously. I believe that there is a movement developing in this country away from what I might call the "black coat professions," because people believe they represent permanent penury and undistinguished poverty for a long lifetime. And they would rather wear no collar and get an income, than wear a collar and spats and carry a rolled umbrella, and endure poverty behind lace curtains.

I do not believe that the Minister will get his 70,000 teachers unless he is prepared not merely to tinker about with this matter but to do something adequate. I beg him to star d up to the Treasury. It is a truism that behind every problem raised in this House you will ultimately find the hand of the Treasury. The Treasury is the common enemy of the House of Commons, and nowhere is it more the common enemy than in the sphere of the reasonable remuneration or wages of public servants. Before I leave this side of the matter I wonder whether the Minister knows of the concern caused, among those interested in education, by the Treasury's refusal to increase by a single halfpenny the pensions, of retired teachers? I have headed a deputation of M.P.s about it, and the Trades Union Congress has sent a deputation to the Chancellor, but still we leave these public servants aside. I mention the teachers, but that attitude is common to the Civil Service, pensioners, police pensioners and local government office pensioners.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)

And officers in the Forces.

Mr. Brown

Certainly. These are categories where we are doing a gross wrong, and I hope that the Minister of Education will stand up to the Treasury about it.

Mr. Wakefield (Swindon)

The hon. Member mentioned the case of a teacher. I wonder whether he can say whether the figures he quoted included any allowance for food or for accommodation, or whether it was just straight pay.

Mr. Brown

Evidently it was straight pay, because she goes on to give her expenses: Loan repayment £4 10s., board £6, superannuation 13s. 6d., insurance 17s. 6d., bus fares £1 and N.U.T."— which I may explain for the benefit of the uninitiated means the National Union of Teachers— Red Cross, etc. 3s. 6d. It all makes a total of £13 4s., and she adds: I have not £2 a month left. after she has paid the elementary expenses attached to her job.

The third item I want to mention is the connection between maintenance and democracy in education, between maintenance and equality of opportunity. I saw in my own early experiences how impossible it is for there to be educational equality, while there exists gross economic discrimination. My father was a plumber—a very good plumber, and therefore a very rare man. He had seven children, of which I was the second—and much the best locking of them. I went to an elementary school like the other children, and I won a scholarship to a secondary school. It represented to my father, whose earnings were very small, a considerable sacrifice to keep me at that secondary school two or three years longer than I would have stayed at an elementary school. I will tell the House what happened. After I had been at that secondary school about two and a half years, and my scholarship was drawing to its close, my headmaster sent for me one day, and told me that the school gave a scholarship every year for Oxford. He told me to ask my father whether he would agree to my sitting for that scholarship, which the headmaster thought I should very probably be able to win. When 1 went home and told my father about it, he told me to go back, and ask the headmaster certain questions, which were: "Does the scholarship cover only tuition, or maintenance as well, and if it does not cover maintenance, what does it cost to keep a boy at Oxford?" I asked the question, and I received the reply that the scholarship did not cover maintenance. When I asked how much the maintenance cost, I was told by the master that if were a good lad, and did not smoke or drink, and never took a girl to the pictures—a wholly unnatural condition of life—I might be able to do on £2 per week. I took the message back to my father. His reply was brief and terse. "Willy, that is what I earn, and there are six more besides you, and your mother to look after." There was in my case complete opportunity to go to the university in theory, but the theory was completely nullified by the economic condition of my parents. I have very little personal feeling about it, because I know that there are other advantages to be gained than those of university training, in the rough and tumble of life, but that is a clear case where economic inequality utterly nullified equality of opportunity.

That brings me to the fourth point that I want to make. The White Paper carries us roughly to the age of 15 and a little later to 16. I have been touched by many of the speeches to-day about the relationship between education and the development of Britain as a more organically united and closely-knit community. I have been touched by what has been said about the place of religion in educational life. I want to point out that the religious instinct does not develop until adolescence, at the same time as other adolescent instincts. It is about that time that the real training for citizenship in an educated democracy should begin, but it is unfortunate that that is where we stop. We carry education to a point beyond the beginning of adolescence, but drop it before the end. Now it is between the years of 15 and 19 that a young person experiences the biggest development of personality. It is then that enthusiasms develop, either superb or otherwise, and that the young person begins his training to be a partner in an organised community. Therefore it is then that education for citizenship is most important.

This document carries us part of the way. It may be that the Fleming Report will carry us a bit further. I want the Minister to do two more things. I want him first to do a great deal more than has been done yet or even contemplated about adult education. I know it is true that all education is an education for life, but it is also true that most boys leave school without having come into contact with many of the problems that are subsequently going to dominate their lives, among them the problem of politics. I say that there is need in Britain to-day for the development of continuation classes for adult education which will represent a training in citizenship. Everyone will pay tribute to the magnificent work now being done by A.B.C.A. The very excellence of that work is a tribute to its necessity. It so happens that my constituency, Rugby, which is an enlightened one, is the only one, I think, in Britain, which runs an adult school under the Fisher Act. I have seen the work of that school at first hand. Believe me, it is first rate, and I should like to see institutions like it everywhere in the country.

The second thing relates to public schools. I understand that some of my colleagues have lately received some interior illumination on this subject. They have discovered, to their extreme astonishment, that the public school boy does not necessarily walk about with his nose so high in the air that he cannot see what passes in his immediate vicinity. They have discovered that the training is not a holiday, but a very severe discipline, and that the grub is not always good. Indeed, sometimes the more expensive the school the worse the grub—one of the many contradictions which mark the economics of the capitalist State. I hope, of course, that the Minister will provide entry for working-class boys to the great public schools there are now. But if you take all the seats in all the public schools put together, the total number is so small in relation to the number of working-class children who could, in my opinion, benefit, that really it would not make very much difference if you reserved them all for this purpose. The essence of a public school is not that it should be situated at Rugby, Harrow, Eton or somewhere else. The essential feature of the public school is that, unlike the ordinary elementary or secondary school, the boy lives in association with his fellows under a common discipline, before going out into the world. That is the essential feature of public school education.

I am concerned less with trying to get an extra seat into existing schools here and there than with the problem of how we can provide for literally scores of thousands of boys, say between 16 and 18, to live together in association before they go out into the world. I believe that fortune has placed the possibility of solving that in our hands. We have built in Britain in this war vast camps for the Army, Air Force and Navy and so on, and in those camps you get the essential elements with which to begin a public school, dining accommodation, sleeping accommodation, hall accommodation, sewage and drainage and all the rest of it. You could take one of those camps—I refer especially to those of the more permanent type—and with a very small relative expenditure of capital you could provide the extra accommodation required for classes, etc. I have sent a memorandum to the Fleming Committee which I hope they will investigate. We shall not have begun to settle our problem if we leave it at 16. We shall still have, in education as in life, the "two nations" which Disraeli spoke of, divided educationally and socially. It is a tragedy that it is only in time of war and great crisis that we suddenly discover among ourselves unity of purpose and unity of spirit, and that as soon as the war is over it begins to disintegrate. The political problem of Britain is to equip this nation in time of peace with the courage, the unity, and the identification one with another that it possesses in time of war. It is a very real problem, and what the answer to it is I do not know.

The last thing I want to say is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about public schools. They have become associated with something with which they have no necessary connection, the tradition of the "old school tie" I disagree as much as anybody in this House with a system which gives in the Civil Service, the Diplomatic Service and in Government an undue proportion of the places to the products of a limited number of public schools in Britain. But that is not the fault of the public schools. That is the fault of the class division within society itself. I want to say this, that the public schools did something in England in the last three-quarters of the nineteenth century which I think is not appreciated as it should be, and it was of tremendous importance. When the industrial revolution came to Britain, when the domination of Britain by the old landed gentry ended, and the new type of hard-faced capitalist developed, it was the sons of those men whom the public schools of Britain taught and educated in the humanities. We may still think that they are not perfect, but I shudder to think what they would have been if they had not been to a public school. I have spoken much longer than I intended, and I apologise, but I felt that, as representing Rugby, I had a special interest in this Debate.

Mr. Brooke (Lewisham, West)

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. Brown) has certainly performed a service by correcting the most untruthful allegation made during the Debate to-day—the allegation that public school boys are invariably well fed. I would like to follow him on the subject of teachers, but it strikes rue that the House could dwell more profitably on that when the Report of the McNair Committee is in our hands. In what he said about adult education I am with him with my whole heart. Again, however, I feel that what adult education needs most in this country is not change in the law, not change in administration, but the uprising among us of another man like Albert Mansbridge. It is by personal inspiration and that alone, that adult education will come into its own.

In all that the Minister has offered to us, I put first his plans for religious education in this country. It is a tribute to the advance which we have made in 40 years that my hon. Friend the Member for West Newcastle (Mr. Nunn), speaking avowedly as a non-Catholic, can put as forcibly and movingly as he did the case for those who hold the Catholic faith. I would not have it thought that people like himself and myself feel any less deeply or strongly about the education of the children of the Churches to which we belong. Speaking here as a member of the Church of England, I want to put it on record that I regard the proposals in the White Paper as a fair and just offer to the Churches in respect of their schools. The White Paper does not do everything I should like in every direction, but it seems to me to be a genuine attempt to meet this horrible, long-lasting difficulty, and I can conceive no plan which would give a greater measure of satisfaction to the Churches and at the same time have any reasonable chance of obtaining general agreement throughout the country.

I thought the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for West Newcastle was a complete answer to the proposals which the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd), with great sincerity, put before us earlier in the Debate as his solution of the religious problem. I beg my friends who speak in the name of religion, in this House or outside, to remember that all those who speak as they do must have at heart not only the interests of the children of their own faith or denomination, but, most of all, the interests of the children of the whole country. It is to get general agreement on the best possible plan for the religious education of the whole country that we must aim. I am very pleased indeed that the President of the Board of Education has introduced proposals for starting every day with an act of religious worship, and for religious education being given in all schools. My own hope is that in many schools it will develop until it becomes universal that the school one day in the year should have a day of dedication; a day of holiday because it is a holy day, a day marked by a religious service, and a day which will also be a day of reunion for all those in the neighbourhood who have passed through the school in days gone by. I believe that that development would be consonant with my right hon. Friend's hope that every school shall truly have a school life.

Little has been said in the Debate about the wide development of nursery schools which the White Paper envisages. I hope that means that the proposal commends itself to all parts of the House. The Government have come out for nursery schools as against nursery classes. It seems to me desirable that, before we go too far, we should make quite sure that we have the whole of pre-school care and education of children integrated, lest we find growing up in some areas a haphazard, non-integrated system of day nurseries, nursery schools and nursery classes. There must be a right and a wrong in these things: it ought not to be left to chance. We are taking five as the upper limit for nursery schools. It is not absolutely certain that that is the right limit, any more than it is certain that II is the right age for passing from the primary to the secondary school. At the same time, we understand the Government's desire not at this stage to complicate their reforms by attempting to alter either the age of five or the age of r. I am not in the least afraid of the prospective cost of £10,000,000 per year for nursery schools. That sum will be more than offset by the consequential savings in the improvement of the quality of our population that this development will bring about. As for those, and there are many in this country, who would like to see all small children sent to the same schools, there can be no chance of that so long as two-fifths of the young children going to school in our big towns are suffering, as recent authoritative figures have told us, from head lice. That is a disgrace on our nation. It cannot expect parents who wish to keep their children clean to mingle their children with dirty children if they have other opportunities. The growth of the nursery school will, I believe, do more than anything to eliminate that slur upon our schools.

As regards the triple system of secondary education, I have no time to deal with it at any length, but let me express the hope that the three kinds of schools will be kept close together where can be, and that the practical means of moving children from one type of school to another, if it seems desirable, will be made as easy as possible. It will be easiest when all three types of school are on the same site or in close proximity. We all want to know what the Government's eventual intentions are with regard to the direct-grant schools. I have an excellent school of that category in my constituency. We will not press the Government to give a premature answer, but Parliament should show that it attaches importance to their future. Personally, I am extremely glad to see in the White Paper the provision that secondary schools are to have an instrument of government setting out and safeguarding the rights of the governing body. It is not made perfectly clear in the White Paper whether, should there be a dispute between the local education authority and the members of the governing body, there will be any right of appeal to the Board. I hope that the President of the Board of Education will be able to assure us that there will be such a right of appeal.

I now come to the children who will no longer be in full-time schooling. Between to-day and the time, not long hence, I hope, when we have the Bill before us for Second Reading, I should like to think that every Member of this House would read one of the most fascinating books which has recently come into my hands, called "Girls Growing Up," by Miss Jephcott. If they read that book, they will have no doubt whatever about the necessity of breaking the sudden transition from school to work by some kind of part-time education as is here suggested. It is to my mind the most grievous defect in our present education system that nearly all children are pushed over the cliff at 14—it will be 15 in future—and there is too little done to ease the transition for them from school to work. It is largely because of that that, for instance, the majority of boys and girls in their teens in this country are found to have no interest in books. They put their school days behind. They do not link up education and industry or other forms of work in their minds at all. It was a slur on us—for ultimately this House is responsible for education—that Miss Markham's Committee, when reporting on conditions in the Women's Services, had to say: It is a melancholy reflection on the educational failures of the last 25 years that many young people refuse to use their minds at all outside working hours. Whether or not the House thinks that is too pessimistic, we know that there is a lot of truth in it. I hope the new scheme of young people's colleges will improve matters in that serious respect. The White Paper does not make it clear, to me at any rate, whether the development plans which each local education authority has to prepare are to include the provision of young people's colleges. They are to cover primary and secondary education and technical, commercial and art education, but I hope every local education authority will also be definitely required to produce a development plan for young people's colleges in their area. There will be some sticky problems about this. It is easier for big industry, but it will not be at all easy for the small employer or shopkeeper, to release boys and girls even for one day a week. But we must not be deterred by these difficulties. We have to find a way round them, and the sooner all of us start thinking how to do it, the better. It is the biggest task of all that lies in front of the local education authorities.

I wish I could think that local authorities were not going to be deterred by finance. The present expenditure for education falling on the rates is, I believe, £52,000,000 per annum. The total rates levied in England and Wales amount to just under £200,000,000 per annum. This White Paper foreshadows an extra £28,000,000 falling on the rates and a further £4,000,000 when the school age is raised to 16, making an increase of £32,000,000 altogether, no less than 16 per cent. increase on the total rates levied at the present time. I ask hon. Members to go into their constituencies and judge for themselves whether local authorities generally will willingly and keenly embark upon a great progressive policy which alone will send up the rates by 16 per cent., apart from all the other kinds of expenditure that may fall upon them after the war. My fear is that not only these big reforms which the White Paper envisages but all the kind of things we have long known, for instance, overlarge classes, will fail to be dealt with unless my right hon. Friend the President is able to reach a more favourable agreement with the Treasury. It would be a bad thing if the Treasury gained for itself the unenviable reputation of having stood in the way of what might have been the greatest advance ever in the quality of the British people.

I had hoped to have time to say a few words about the local education authorities themselves. Taken as a whole, they are not as good as they ought to be, although some are excellent. Has the President ever conducted a nation-wide examination to ascertain how the powers of co-option by local education authorities are exercised? If not, it strikes me that that would be, a very fruitful field for further investigation. In London the ordinary man in the street, the ordinary parent, is further cut off from the educational machine than in any other city. It happens in this way. London is such an enormous education authority. The other day I was talking with a group of interested people in my constituency about educational advance, and one was made conscious that there is in London, as distinct from other cities, little that an individual can do to exercise practical interest m education, between becoming a school manager and having some care for perhaps 500 children and becoming a member of the L.C.C. Education Committee and taking responsibility for 500,000.

If we are to develop throughout the country this plan of district education committees, I hope the Board of Education will consider whether anything of that kind could also be brought into existence in the great area of London as well. The universities too are often not sufficiently associated with the work of local educational authorities. If the whole educational system leads up to the university, I am sure that the impact of the universities on local education administration throughout the country should not only be through examinations but through the universities playing a part in some kind of advisory regional system that might help to raise the level of administration throughout.

Here in this sovereign Parliament we have been too content in the past with the defects in our educational system. We have been too content not only with the defects of machinery set out in the White Paper, but with obvious defects such as the ugliness of most school buildings. Why do we allow our children, the citizens of the future, to be brought up taking ugliness for granted? We must correct that. We must introduce into our whole educational plan far wider opportunities for education for responsible leadership. I believe that to be needed perhaps more than anything else. If we can help the President in these ways, I really think that we might do something as a Parliament to justify what the hon. Member for South Bristol (Mr. A. Walkden) said when he moved the Address on the first day of this Session, that, if we carried out our charge properly, we might come to be known as the Great Parliament. I am not sure that we have been gaining many marks so far in that respect, but now the opportunity has been given us. The President has put it before us. As for him, he went to the Board of Education two years ago in very dark days. I believe the whole House will echo it when I say of him that he has kept the divine vision in time of trouble.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

I welcome this opportunity of saying a few words in regard to the White Paper. I have many recollections of expressing opinions not only in the House of Commons but among members of my own body in regard to the question that is before the House to-day. There has never appeared to be any solution, in the British House of Commons, but I have heard a statement made to-day—I do not say this disparagingly—that, if the Church of England were put into the national system, all would be well. I believe that that kind of opinion, even if expressed from a Welsh university, is utterly wrong in regard to the national life. I think the House of Commons is a forum where we may honestly, and not by subtlety of language, express to Ministers and others the exact position inside the nation. If I had not had the opportunity of speaking to-day, I should have spoken outside, and I dare say my words outside would have been very different from what they will be here. This is, mainly, a matter in regard to elementary education and its advancement. I am a little too old now t0 listen to those who have had a university training and who come here as professors of universities to try to lay down a rule of life and say what should be the standard for our people in regard to education. I pay tribute to the President of the Board of Education and to the courteous Parliamentary Secretary for every assistance they have given me. I am not unmindful of the fact that when I went to a member of my own party who was Minister of Education, he showed me to the door and told me he would put me out. That may come at a later stage from the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary, but I hope not.

From 1870 the question of education in this country has been a tragedy. No one knows better than Members of the House of Commons the tragedy it has been to the poor. The intolerance and bigotry that have been displayed whenever educational questions have been brought forward have taught me to be charitable in expression, and that I intend to be in my utterances to-day. We have reached a stage when the House has to look at this situation as it is and not as we would like it to be. We are told in regard to our national system of education that what is practically a State service will come into operation. I do not believe in the State managing my child. There are many homes where the people do not believe that either. I do believe, however, that it is the duty of the State to see that its children are properly educated and made fit citizens of a fit country. The right of religious training was deprecated by a medical Member who said that the question of good food was essential. The sooner some of my col- leagues learn to understand the true value of words and the fact that food does not count for everything in life, the better it will be for all concerned. The remarks of the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Sexton) took my mind back to a time when I read the classics. I have read my Cicero, as he has, and my Diogenes and Socrates. Among all the classics, I found that Aristotle came the nearest to a knowledge of God. I want to get from that age to 1943 in a jump, because I am governed by the clock. Tempus fugit, and as we do not always have a chance at saying what we want to say I have to be very careful.

The hon. and gallant Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool (Sir J. Shute) has put the whole position from the Catholic point of view, and I do not know whether I can add to it. He told us that he repudiated the city of Liverpool, and I am afraid that in that repudiation, it might be said that he was associated with me and my opinions from the Labour point of view. That is not so. The hon. and gallant Member for the Exchange Division is strictly orthodox, strictly individualistic and stands where he has always stood, in regard to the Liverpool position. I represent a different class of people. I represent the dockside. I represent those men that go down to the sea in ships. There are wide divergencies between the Scotland Division and the Exchange Division, in regard to politics, but in regard to faith, unity was never more thoroughly established. On the question of faith we speak as one. We do not speak as "Roman Catholics," with abbreviated titles, or italics, or inverted commas; we speak as members of a Church that was already well known in this country when education was being given to it. If you look round, you will find that many of the places that are now in the possession of others, were ours in those days long ago. As the ancient owners of those places we have a right to come, not cap in hand, not begging, not as friars or Ishmaels, but as Englishmen claiming equal rights with other Englishmen. If we are good enough to fight for this country we are good enough, in a national system of education, to share equally with every other man, woman or child in the benefits which the nation gives. For the Jew, the Catholic, or the Protestant, I demand not only equality of opportunity but equality in the State; their children should have the same chance as others have.

I made a statement before I came to this House that I would speak only as I felt, and that what I said here I would say outside, and I will do so if the necessity should arise. I never read any more ridiculous or illogical statement than the statement that if Church schools will give up their rights—because they are not able to carry out their legal obligations—they can have a reduction in their managers and can get freedom in a national service, but that if they want to teach the faith of their fathers and to give to their children that moral environment which is essential, they are to be penalised. In other words, in a Christian land agnostics can have a school built by the State, while professing Christians, because they are not able to maintain their schools, cannot get religious teaching in schools. To me that is the most absurd thing I have ever read. I spent some time reading a work of John Stuart Mill and I could not understand it until it dawned on me that there were various methods of reasoning. If that be the method of reasoning of the Minister I want to set his mind at rest about what is likely to happen.

We do not say that we are not anxious for a national service. There is not a man in the land who is not most anxious that every boy and girl should get every opportunity that the Minister can offer for education. Up to now the right hon. Gentleman has proved to be the most enlightened Minister we have had, because of the programme that he has put before us, but while I say that he has put a wonderful prospectus before us, I have a right to query that prospectus and to recall the promises made by other Ministers occupying positions similar to his own. I want to see the full implementation of ail the Minister's promises. We have the right to say to this British House of Commons: "If you want a national service you must treat every citizen alike. If secular education and advancement are considered knowledge, place the standard upon us and we shall give an advanced secular education equal to any of the other schools. If we can obey and carry that: out, you should give us facili- ties for our children equal to those of any other citizen."

Why should any of our children be penalised because of the faith of their fathers? Why should I be penalised because I kneel, or because I stand, in a prayer to my God? Why should schools be built for a man who says there is no God and not for us? In the practical politics of this matter we get down to the man's faith and his duty to God, to his family and to the State. I tell this House that in the life of a Catholic his faith is of primary importance and the questions of environment and of the scholastic teaching that may be given and is considered necessary, are regarded as of importance. We insist upon these things. We are willing to fall in with a national service, but we are asked to forego things under the local agreement, in the matter of controlled schools and aided schools, and if we do so we are told we shall get this or that little dole from the Minister. The nation will express its opinion on this matter. There will be many agitations when the soldiers return, in regard to the future of their children. There are many men on our dockside who have risked their lives and others have lost their lives in the streets of my city. We are the poorest population in the north of England, and I therefore appeal to my colleagues, especially on the Labour benches, to forgive me when I say that these things are more important to me than life.

I respect all their feelings, but I am anxiously asking them to give us the chance in life that they demand for their own children. If we worship God, that is a matter for ourselves. Give our children the chance under the national system of equal opportunitiy for education and development, to understand life. We want true education to come their way, because this nation has recognised education as essential. After the sacrifices of its men, women and boys, we hope that this Government does not propose to separate the wheat from the chaff but will give to all the equal opportunity in life which a National Government ought to give to its citizens.

Mrs. Cazalet Keir (Islington, East)

Twenty-five years ago Mr. H. A. L. Fisher said in this House: The broad question before the House is whether the education provided for the general mass of our young citizens is adequate to our needs. Let us remember what we have been asking them to do, and what we intend to ask them to do. We have been asking them to die for their country, to economise for their country, to go short of food for their country, to work overtime for their country, to abandon trade union rules for their country, to be patient while towns are bombed from enemy aircraft, and while family after family is plunged into domestic sorrow.… I ask them whether the education which is given to the great mass of our citizens is adequate to the new serious and enduring liabilities which the development of this great world war creates for our Empire … I say it is not adequate. Any competent judge of facts in this country must agree with me. I believe it is our duty, here and now, to improve it. If those words were true in 1918, they are even more true in 1943. I quote this with only one object, because I am convinced that if we are to take a positive view of our responsibilities to-day, including, if I may say so, the Board of Education as well, the White Paper can become the most decisive weapon in winning the peace, and a peace which will not result in a third world war. I hope that in the Bill there will be statutory provision for the review of our educational progress at least every five years, so that never again shall we have on the Statute Book a great Act like the Fisher Act which to a large extent has remained inoperative.

I would like to congratulate my right hon. Friend on the excellent speech he made to-day, and on his good fortune to be President of the Board of Education at such a time as this, and also on the wisdom and the determination he is showing to make full use of this good fortune by wisely preparing his plans now, before the end of the war, so that when victory comes, as come it must, we can go full steam ahead on the educational front. I do assure him of one thing, as has been stated by other Members to-day, that the more energy, decision and speed he puts into his work the more greatly will the people of this country be pleased.

Any criticisms that I make to-day will be made with a deep desire to be helpful and constructive in the great task which the White Paper sets before us all. My main criticism, like that of a number of other speakers, is concerned with page 4 of the White Paper. We are all glad that the Norwood Committee has reported. But what about the other two Committees? We are not even told exactly when they are likely to finish their work. I think the President's words were, "at some not impossible distant date." I should like to know exactly what that date is. I think that the very least we ought to demand in this House is that before embarking on a Measure of the importance and magnitude of the new Education Bill we must have the recommendations of the McNair Committee before us, because the recommendations of this Committee are fundamental to the whole future success or failure of the scheme. In addition, since the Norwood Committee has issued its findings, the teachers, if those findings are accepted by the Government, will have a further great deal of responsibility placed upon them. If a final Report is not possible in time, I would press for an interim Report. Surely, after they have been sitting for a year and a half, this is not asking too much. Before the Bill is introduced we should have a full day's discussion on the Reports and recommendations of each of the Committees which are sitting now. To start debating an Education Bill without knowing the recommendations of the McNair Committee is like driving a horse without reins.

My right hon. Friend himself says, in paragraph l00 of the White paper: It depends almost entirely upon the quality of those who staff the schools whether the reforms proposed will be merely administrative reforms or whether they will, in practice, work out as real educational reforms. Of course, we all want to know how the teachers are to be recruited, how they are to be graded and paid, and how their training will prepare them for the great task they have ahead. I agree with hon. Members who have said that it is vital that the whole status and prestige of teachers should be raised. I have often thought that this lack of recognition is instanced by the almost entire omission of the teaching profession from the Honours List. This inferiority in status is particularly noticeable, and regrettable, in the case of elementary teachers. If anyone is doing work of national importance, it is the teacher in an elementary school today. I know from personal experience that many head teachers are very unhappy because they are hopelessly overworked, with the wrong kind of work—not what they consider their real job. They are in many cases spending as much as 75 per cent. of their time doing what I might describe as extraneous work. I will give just one example. The headmaster of an elementary school in a country district, to whom I was talking about this problem last week, told me the actual experience he had had that day. One of his assistant masters had asked him if he would take the history lesson in his class from 11 0'clock in the morning till 12. No sooner had he started than at 11.10 the milk supply broke down. He had to leave to get it put right. Back to the history lesson. At 11.25, the labour officer for the war agricultural committee came in about the harvest camp. Back to the history lesson. At 11.45 a mother came in about' children being transferred to London. Thus ended the morning. At 1.30 he started off again with enthusiasm. At 1.40 the school attendance officer came, and stayed 10 minutes. Back to the history lesson. At 2.10 a psychologist came in with the billeting officer to get a report on a child who was leaving. At 2.30 he went back to the history lesson again. At 2.35 someone turned up to see how the proposed new canteen was progressing; and, as the school break was at 2.45, the headmaster reluctantly gave up so far as the history lesson was concerned.

Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)

That was quite unnecessary. It was bad organisation.

Mrs. Keir

This is most frustrating to a keen teacher. But what is more important is the children's side. These teachers should have proper secretarial help, in exactly the same way as teachers do in many secondary schools. I hope that this will be one of the recommendations of the McNair Committee. While on the subject of teachers, I think it should be provided in the new Bill that local education authorities cannot dismiss women on marriage.

I want to say just one word about nursery schools. We all welcome the large amount of money that is going to be spent on children of nursery school age, and also the fact that it is now, for the first time, going to be the duty of local education authorities to provide these schools. I am sure my right hon. Friend knows that there is a considerable body of opinion in the country which would like to see all small children of the 2 to 7 age group put together, with the nursery school forming part of the infant school. It is felt that this is both best and wisest, educationally. While not wishing to go into details here, I feel that the President of the Board of Education probably knows all the arguments, and I ask him to look at this question again very carefully before the Bill is introduced. I am very glad that the White Paper recognises that the junior schools have been the "Cinderellas" of the system. The national policy for many years has been to improve the top first, although all mothers and teachers know that the first years are really the most important.

I want to say just one or two things about the new secondary schools. Of course, free secondary education for all is a grand idea, but I am not altogether happy about the division into three types, although I know that this was the recommendation of the Spens Committee and that it has been adopted by the Norwood Committee. We do not want to see mainly vocational training between the ages of 11 and 15 or 16, and I feel sure that my right hon. Friend does not intend that this should be the case. But, surely, if you want to achieve equal status—and that is what you are out to achieve—it would be wiser to call all schools by one name, and then attach to certain schools a particular bias, such as technical or domestic. Between 11 and 15–16 I hope it will soon be—all children must have the widest possible form of secondary education, with anything that savours of the vocational taking definitely a second place. If all schools are called by different names, you may tend to defeat your object of achieving equal status. I am very glad to hear that the children will be freely interchanged between the schools. There should also be freedom of interchange of teachers. This will help in building up what we all want—equal status.

Next I want to say a word about dual control. I congratulate the President of the Board of Education on having made a serious attempt to reach agreement on a problem which has been the subject of controversy since the time of the Lollards, 500 years ago. I welcome the fact that religious instruction is to be given in every school and that it will be given under Government inspection. A short time ago a friend of mine, who is an inspector, went into a small country school, and as she found a religious lesson being taken, she sat down quietly in a corner of the classroom to wait. Immediately, all the children turned their heads round to look at her, and this so annoyed the teacher that he exclaimed, "Stop looking at the lady and concentrate on Judas Iscariot."

We all know that religion is not really a separate subject, but it is interwoven in every single thing we think, say and do. I hope the Bible, which is God's greatest gift to mankind, will be used widely. It is the only book which can, through study and understanding, give us real equality of opportunity. If we mean to use it, we must think about it and study it, and if we think about it and study it, we shall begin to practice it.

To-day everyone is agreed on the principle of. compulsory part-time education, but one day a week is not enough, even to start with—two days are the very minimum. Industry will have to reorganise itself for peace at the end of the war, and it is far better to let it do this on a two-day basis from the beginning, rather than start with one day and a few years later disturb the whole juvenile organisation again, with all the probable controversy that is likely to take place. The more I think about it, the more I prefer the whole idea of a short, concentrated term of two to three months, such as is suggested for rural areas, because I think educational opportunities would be much wider, and there would be greater possibilities as regards corporate life, citizenship and social training, and probably less disturbance to industry. If for the time being only one day is possible, there should be a short concentrated course in addition. I hope the President of the Board of Education will give the matter further examination.

As regards adult education, I do not think the subject has been dealt with adequately in the White Paper. It is through adult education that we intend primarily to help the present generation, whereas the majority of the White Paper proposals will benefit the children of to-morrow. May I say a few words about the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts? This Council has shown in its short life that the study and practice of music and the arts are not just little frills to make life pleasanter. They are vital necessities; they are an essential part of life itself, and I was pleased to hear the hon. Member behind me refer to it in the way he did. This is one of the best and biggest discoveries of the war, and I think it should be carried on into the peace. I would like to see paragraph 78 of the White Paper embodied in the section on Further Education, as it applies to people before and after the age of 18.

Of course, I welcome the extension of free meals and milk, but I am not quite so happy about the implications of paragraph 96. I think the Board of Education, under this new scheme, should embrace all the bits and pieces, if possible, from the other Government Departments concerning children of all ages—the delinquent children from the Home Office, the under fives from the Ministry of Health, and the educational functions from the Ministry of Agriculture. I am glad that my right hon. Friend is having discussions with the Minister of Agriculture on this very problem at the present time. In conclusion, I am quite sure that with all these big new schemes and the spending of vast sums of money it is essential to remember one thing—I think it was Dr. Tom Jones who said it: There are no children in general; there are only children in particular. This is very important, because, owing to the size of our country, it is only by quality and not by quantity that we can hope to make our influence felt in the post-war world. Ten years ago, when advocating in this House the raising of the school leaving age to 16 and part-time compulsory education up to 18, I said that I hoped I should live to see this. I am glad and grateful that my wish will so soon be realised, but I would give this warning. I know from my own experience of administration that without continual pressure and prodding the best laid schemes can be unduly delayed. I am sure that my right hon. Friend, after his speech to-day, will supply the pressure, and I can assure him that we will supply the prodding. In the concluding words of his speech my right hon. Friend said, rightly, that character has made this country great. I believe that in character allied to education will lie her chief greatness for the future. There are tremendous changes ahead, and since education is the mother of all reform, it must lead all the rest. We talk often of the future. Let us not forget that the future lies soft clay to our hands, here and now. Let us shape it well.

Mr. G. A. Morrison (Scottish Universities)

We have listened to-day to a very interesting Debate on great and far-reaching reforms. The President of the Board of Education is faced with a unique opportunity. Competent observers have told me that people have never been so intensely interested in education in England as at present. We have never known in England so much public interest in this matter. Memoranda by individuals and still more by societies, political parties and other bodies, have been plentiful; newspapers and periodicals have been full of the subject. In the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom. The right hon. Gentleman cannot complain of lack of advice. Let me say at once that I consider the White Paper worthy of the occasion. I can scarcely pay it a higher compliment. It bespeaks care and discretion, vision, courage and wise judgment. Its authors must be congratulated further on having presented it in such a readable form.

Some of the problems are very distinctly English or Welsh and I will not presume to offer advice on them. Others are common to England and to Scotland. Indeed, we cannot begin to operate some of these reforms in Scotland until agreement is reached on this side of the Border. It is difficult for a Scotsman to forget that Scotland could and would have operated the raising of the school-leaving age 24 years ago. The date was actually fixed by the Secretary of State. Again, in 1931, the same thing happened. So, I am not altogether disinterested in wishing the right hon. Gentleman better luck with his Bill than some of his predecessors have had. The educational memoranda of which I have spoken are naturally very varied in content and in outlook, but there is a surprising and welcome agreement on some of the main points. First, the raising of the school age to 15, this time without exemptions and, thereafter, as soon as may be, to 16. Secondly, part-time education up to 18 in institutions which will cater for a class hitherto more or less neglected—young people who have left school at 14 or 15; third, reduction in the size of classes, and fourth and not least in importance, a rapid increase in the supply of teachers and improvement in the methods of training and selection as well as in the conditions of service. Those who have been urging those reforms must be gratified to find that they are all promised in the White Paper. How welcome is the promise, in regard to the raising of the school age, that there are to be no exemptions. Those of us who were defeated on that point in the 1936 Acts often used to say that the allowing of exemptions would hamstring the whole reform. With regard to part-time education up to 18, those who have no firsthand experience have difficulty in understanding how fatally easy it is for pupils, leaving at 14, to forget much of what they have already learned. This, of course, implies a vast amount of waste of labour in teaching before that time. It was, indeed, one of our arguments for the raising of the age.

The name "Day Continuation schools" is to be changed. It is a backward looking name, which seems to imply that the pupil is to go on with the kind of education he has left. The name suggested, "Young People's Colleges," or "junior Colleges," ought to prove more attractive. I think it will be found that one day a week which is suggested for instruction will be too little. These new schools are to offer facilities for social and recreational activities. There is no intention to regiment young men and women every evening of the week. That would defeat the whole aim of the scheme. Leaders will have to be selected with the utmost care. Many teachers will be attracted to this work, which offers a fruitful field of social service. The position of such leaders will call for special qualities and special training. Voluntary agencies are already doing useful work of this character and we want to extend this far beyond the small proportion of our young folk who are being reached and influenced at present.

I do not wish to be misunderstood; the instructions given in day classes must be real instruction—solid, serious educational work under the very best teachers. Methods will, of course, be adapted to the age and capacities of the learners who, having begun their life work, feel that they ought to be free from some of the restraints of their early schooldays. I visited in the Spring the admirable continuation school at Rugby, which is the only area in England and Wales which has maintained a compulsory day con- tinuation school under the Fisher Act. I found an enthusiastic staff and happy pupils. The teachers welcome the cooperation of the voluntary agencies dovetailing their activities, and the employers find the school useful and support it wholeheartedly. There is almost no limit to the field of service which such institutions are going to offer. There will be groups for discussion and study, musical societies, orchestras, art clubs, camera clubs and lectures of all kinds and the young people should be encouraged to take an increasing share in their management. They should have real responsibility.

With regard to the reduction in the size of classes, there will have to be a new conception in people's minds of the conditions under which effective educational work can be done. This particular reform is marked, I hope, for high priority. From the beginning of school life, classes must be smaller. We are glad to see the nursery schools given an assured place—their rightful place—in the school system. I always remember that Dr. James Kerr, a Scotsman, who did much of his work in London, used to say that the open air nursery schools were the greatest educational discovery of our time. All through the school, as I say, the classes must be smaller as soon as conditions permit. There will have to be new buildings and alterations in existing buildings. Above all, there must be a considerable increase in the number of teachers.

Here I touch what seems to be the heart of the right hon. Gentleman's problem. Where is he to get the teachers? He has indicated some possible sources. I spoke in the Scottish Debate on Wednesday and I need not repeat what I said then. The supply of teachers was tending to decline on this side of the Border as in Scotland before the war. I do not know what the McNair Committee may recommend, but do know that the Advisory Committee set up by the Secretary of State for Scotland has promptly recommended an increase in remuneration. That is something but it is not everything. Efforts must be made to improve the status and the public estimation of the teaching profession. The establishment of closer relations with universities will help. They should have fully staffed and equipped faculties of education with facilities for experiment and research and scholarships for foreign travel.

It being one hour after the hour appointed for the interruption of Business, the Debate stood adjourned. Debate to be resumed upon the next Sitting Day.