§ Sir Joseph Lamb (Stone)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, to leave out, "under his control and direction."
I have nothing personal against the Minister or the Department. We all, I think, appreciate very much the manner in which my right hon. Friend has carried this Bill forward up to now, and the ability he has shown; but there is a principle involved here which I want to discuss. Most people will be aware that there is a widespread feeling of apprehension among the public that those powers which have been granted to various Departments during the war, for war purposes, may be retained after the war. That would be very undemocratic. We wish to be assured that behind this Bill there is no intention to start a new procedure which many of us would have to resist very strongly. The words which I propose to leave out specify that the local education authorities shall be under the control and direction of the Minister. Those words are so direct that we fear they may be misunderstood. The right of the Minister to effective action is not denied, but it is fully safeguarded later in the Bill, and we think that that is sufficient. In fact, in some quarters it is feared that the rights of this House are endangered by some of the extra powers 1648 which have been given to the various Departments and Ministers during the war.
I have looked up the Ministry of Health Act of 1919, to see whether it provides a precedent, but I cannot find such words in that Act. It is important that the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education should have equal powers, and it is unnecessary for one to have more autocratic powers than the other. The words used in that Act are:It shall be the duty of the Minister, in the exercise and performance of any powers and duties transferred or to be conferred upon him by and in pursuance of this Act ….Those are not specific, in the sense in which the words which I now propose to exclude, are specific. Why is it thought desirable, in this Bill, to depart from the wording used in other Acts over a long time? I ask my right hon. Friend to allay our fears lest this should be an attempt to create powers which are not necessary, which may be misunderstood, and which may lessen the power even of this House. I may be told that any power can be challenged by this House. That is true, but the procedure for doing so is unnecessarily long and cumbrous.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)
This matter is, I think, more important than one might at first realise. I am not sure that it does not touch the basic philosophy of the Bill. It is difficult to separate the words which it is proposed to leave out, from the whole of the Clause, because we are dealing with the constitution of the central Ministry. There are to be some 200 local education authorities, and they are to have laid upon them the duty of providing a varied and comprehensive education service. But the local education authorities are to provide 45 per cent. of the money. I notice that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) has an Amendment down providing that the Minister, and not the local education authorities, shall be responsible for producing schemes.
§ Mr. Lindsay
Yes, the whole thing. That is basic. The Parliamentary Secretary in the Debate the other day said that there were great dangers in 1649 adding to the amount of money which came from the centre.
What does my right hon. Friend mean by "control"? "Direction," I understand. I think I am the only person at the present moment in this Committee who has tried to enforce—in the case of Liverpool—the building of schools. That was under an Act called the Building and Lease Act which was a very peculiar Measure. What happened? For a whole year there were discussions in the Board, in Liverpool, and in the Cabinet. What sanction is my right hon. Friend to apply when he exercises control over a local education authority? Incidentally, is control a good thing? Direction is absolutely vital as must be the experience of many of those who have been at the Ministry of Health, and possibly the Ministry of Agriculture. I see my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture is present and according to the Luxmoore Report, powers are proposed for controlling the whole of agricultural education from the centre.
I think my right hon. Friend might explain the basis and philosophy of this Bill at the outset. As I understand, it is partnership between the centre and the local authorities. One is the senior partner. Partnership must be based on good will. No sanction is going to be of any avail without good will. If we are to have as I hope, frankly, we shall have, fewer and larger education authorities, who have the money to provide varied and comprehensive services, I am not sure that I want control. How do we know who will be at the Board of Education? How do we know that there may not be economy from the centre which will ruff right through the education authorities? It is a fact that certain education authorities have been pioneers, in spite of the centre, in progressive developments, in past times. I merely ask my right hon. Friend to explain in a little more detail the reasons for the word "control."
§ Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South-West)
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) that this is the essence, the foundation, of the whole Bill. The nation is demanding a real national system of education. Conditions vary from county to county, from area to area. That, as my hon. and 1650 learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) well knows, causes sometimes, though not always, stringency in money in areas of a low rateable value, and a great number of authorities which are not enthusiastic about education try to keep expenditure down to the minimum, to please the ratepayers. As I understand, the object of inserting this word is really to give the Board power to stimulate the authorities up to one common standard. I have a very vivid memory of a predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Pease, who cut down the percentage of grant to no less an authority than the London County Council, because they refused to reduce the size of classes. The result was that the education committee of that great local authority, the London County Council, had to put their house in order and reduce the size of classes.
This is a very important Bill, which in my opinion will revolutionise the whole system of education. If it is to work in all parts of the country, especially in certain rural areas which I have in mind, it is vital that the President of the Board of Education should be armed with full power and authority to force education authorities up to one common level. As I understand it, what is in the mind of the hon. Member is a fear that the Board of Education might in future be found working in the opposite direction, that it might stop local authorities who were too progressive, If we had a Board of Education taking that line Parliament could deal with it; but if Parliament is to see that the Board give a lead to the nation and really make this a living Bill and not merely a few written words it is important that the President should be armed with these powers, and I am glad to see that he has taken them. For the first time for many years we have a Board that really means business. I hope my right hon. Friend will resist the Amendment.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
It is true, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said, that this Amendment raises what he called the whole philosophy of the Bill. He seemed to have some doubts and fears about it. In this country we have had a sort of amorphous education system; indeed, it has not been a system at all. There has been great progress in certain areas. We have seen very progressive education authorities, especially 1651 when they have been captured by my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee. There have also been very reactionary authorities. From the point of view of Parliament the main weakness, in my experience, is that we here at the centre have had very little grip over the machine. For instance, the appointment and dismissal of teachers is in the hands of the local education authorities. We can do nothing about it from this end. In the past the Board have not been able to give positive directions to the nation as a whole. No local authority, however progressive, can view the requirements of the nation's education system. The centre must have a bird's eye view of the education requirements of the nation, and I believe that the powers the Minister proposes to take will ensure that, An hon. Member has some fears as to what a reactionary Board of Education may do. That is not a matter of machinery. That is a matter of what forces are in control in Parliament and I am prepared to let it rest there. Parliament itself will have a chance to focus its attention more definitely and more influentially upon the development of our education system. A balanced view, a national view, is needed in order to get a real national system of education, and I support the Minister on this point.
§ Mr. Craik Henderson (Leeds, North-East)
This Amendment raises a very important question indeed. Everyone will feel it is right that the Minister should have the power of direction, but the word "control" is a very wide one indeed, and we ought to know exactly what it means. Nothing could be worse for education than that there should be uniformity and standardisation. Education advances by the progressive ideas of individuals, and are we to have the dead hand of Whitehall bringing everything down to a standard form? The present Minister is very progressive, but we have known Departments in which the civil servants have been more powerful than the Minister. This is an Amendment which deserves very great consideraticn. The tendency is not to standardise education but, where necessary, to give directions, and there ought not to be interference with new and progressive ideas among education authorities. I think the Committee are right to ask the Minister why it is necessary to demand control.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I should like the Minister to explain what is meant by "control". There are in this country a great many well administered education authorities, and I know that the Minister acknowledges the assistance which he has received from them, but in the preparation of schemes a substantial difference may arise between a local education authority and what an hon. Member has called the bureaucracy of the Civil Service in Whitehall. If we could ensure the continuance in office of my right hon. Friend the present Minister for an indefinite period of time I should not suggest interfering with this part of the Bill, but he, like all of us, is subject to the possibility of changes. A day may come when someone will arise who knew not Joseph; a great change may take place in the Board of Education. On the Second Reading of the Bill I ventured to say that we have an efficient education committee in Birmingham, and I should like the President to tell us in what instances he would exercise control when problems are submitted by that authority. I hope the time will not arise when any differences of opinion will exist between a well-administered local education authority and the President of the Board of Education, but we ought not to let this part of the Bill go through Committee without knowing precisely the limits within which control will be exercised and what is the official interpretation of this part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas (Keighley)
As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has said, this Clause is the heart and philosophy of the Bill and we ought to be clear as to what that philosophy is. In my view education is not primarily the business of local authorities nor of the State, but the business of parents, and the schools stand in loco parentis. The question is whether the wishes of parents would be best carried out by the President of the Board of Education or by the local authorities. It may be paradoxical, but it is a fact, that the electors have more influence upon the central Government, through Parliament, than they have upon local authorities. I have great confidence in the staff of the Board of Education, but I do not feel a like confidence in many local education authorities, especially the councils of counties, and therefore the President will certainly have my support for this Clause.
§ Mr. Colegate (The Wrekin)
I hope the Government will resist this Amendment. In my opinion the words we are discussing are of vital importance if the objects A this Bill are to be carried out within a reasonable time. All interested in this great education reform know that the difficulties during the next few years will be almost overwhelming, and in my view it is essential that the Board of Education should have the fullest powers not merely of direction but of control in order to get the scheme into operation. The problem is not that of dealing with progressive education authorities but with reactionary authorities. No one who has had any practical experience of administration will suppose that a great Department of State will bother its head about a first-class education authority like, say, the Birmingham education authority when it is getting on with its job. The powers are wanted to deal with reactionary local education authorities, and we know there are a great many such authorities who will take advantage of the very difficult circumstances which will affect building and the supply of teachers during the next few years in order to put obstacles in the way of bringing the scheme into operation. In my opinion this is one of the greatest reforms which has ever been submitted to the country, and it is for Parliament, through the Minister, to see that it goes through.
I would remind the Committee that if the word "control" is included that will enable Parliament to exercise greater authority over the President in seeing that we do get on with the scheme. Parliament can say "The Act gives you control and direction and if the scheme is not going through as smoothly and quickly as we desire it is the responsiblty of the President of the Board of Education." It will be up to us, as Members of Parliament, to see that the President does exercise control, does exercise the powers which I hope we shall give him in this Clause. I hope the Amendment will be resisted.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I think this Amendment has been misconceived. The first purpose of the Clause is to place upon the Minister the duty of promoting the education of the people. The second purpose is to promotethe progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose.1654 How can he do that unless he has powers of direction and control? Further, the purpose of the Bill isto secure the effective execution … of the national policy.not the local policyfor providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area.That does not mean that there will be one form of service, it is to be varied and comprehensive; but, of course, we are all anxious that there should be maintained throughout a standard of quality such as has been sadly lacking in the past. It has been lacking for the reason that there was no power in the Minister to see that the quality was maintained.
Let me give one instance which I have mentioned before. A survey was made by the Ministry to ascertain the conditions in schools in Wales. That survey was made in 1927, and more than 180 schools were condemned as being dangerous to health. All they could do was to write to the local authorities asking them to remedy the position, and I came along to years later, in 1937, and found the conditions unremedied. That state of things has got to come to an end, and the purpose of this Clause is to give the Minister that control and direction which will secure the standard which we all desire. The scheme set out in this Clause provides that the Minister shall promote the education of the people and secure the progressive development of institutions and a national policy, but that he shall work through local education authorities. That is quite right, and I do not object to that in the slightest degree, but what I shall be asking in a later Amendment is that the expense shall fall completely upon the Government and will not be apportioned between the Treasury and local authorities. Local authorities cannot possibly carry on or follow the direction which a Minister gives them if they have not the money. The Minister might well control, but if the local authorities have not got the wherewithal to meet his directions then the whole thing fails.
§ Mr. Eccles (Chippenham)
The Bill is a challenge to the quality of our local government. Local authorities are being asked to plan and administer services of a greater range and complexity than ever before. I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) that a 1655 sense of partnership is absolutely essential to the effective working of the Bill. I entirely agree that the senior partner should be the President and the junior partner the local authorities, but I do not like the words which the Amendment proposes to leave out because they give the impression of master and servant and not of senior and junior partners. I find that some county councils are saying: "Well, what is the President paying in hard cash for this flat-footed phrase? He pays only 5 per cent. more towards the cost of education with the result that the rates have got to bear many millions more than before." This is rather like "Alice Through the Looking Glass." The more you pay the less you get. I therefore ask the Minister whether "control" in any way alters his desire to work in partnership with the local authorities many of whom, including my own in Wiltshire, have done so much good work in the past.
§ Professor Gruffydd (University of Wales)
Surely it is the constitutional practice of this country that Parliament should have control over expenditure, and the word used in the Bill is "control," so that if you left out these words "control and direction" it would make no difference whatever to the actual practice. Democracy has been mentioned two or three times in this discussion, and I have noticed lately a tendency to speak of democracy as being something involved in local affairs and in local government as contrasted with the affairs of Parliament and Government Departments. Bureaucracy can flourish in local council offices as effectively as in Whitehall. Why should democracy express itself better in local government than in national government?
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
I want to make only one point. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has done a good service in suggesting to the Committee that this is a question of a possible fight between two partners, one of whom has to be in control. There is only one authority which should be in control, and that is Parliament. The Minister is the servant of Parliament. I think we must keep that in mind, and I hope that, as the discussion of this Bill goes on, that point will not be forgotten. There will be 1656 occasions when we shall have to ask ourselves whether we, as Parliament, are not being asked by this Bill to put too much of our power into the hands of the Minister.
§ Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)
I see that the principal difficulty in carrying out this Bill will be securing teachers who will have to work it. May I say that I have cumulative evidence that teachers greatly fear increased control by the local authority?
§ The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)
I once had a preceptor when I was young who kept me in very good order, and he used to start the day by saying, "Let us begin as we mean to go on." If I may begin as we mean to go on, I would like to indicate early in my remarks the Government's attitude to the Amendment which is that we cannot accept it, and I will then continue with the reasons why we have adopted that course. I should like to make it clear from the start that it is intended that this Bill shall contain bath powers and duties which will enable the Minister and the Government, with the aid of Parliament, to carry through the development of a really national policy in education.
I have welcomed the attitude shown by many Members that it is desirable, now that we have the great opportunity, that there should be the necessary powers to see that a national policy for education is carried out. I, for one, am not at all ashamed of these words, to which the Government attach particular store. When I turn my attention to the speeches that have been made, I have no cause for objecting to any of the remarks put forward. The hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) intimated that he was putting forward this Amendment in order to obtain the reactions of the Government and to receive an explanation, and I believe that to be the view of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). We can, therefore, take it that the whole sense of the Committee is in favour of these words remaining, and what I have to do now is to explain what they mean.
First, I can reassure the hon. Members who have taken this point of view, that we do believe, to use the words of Gladstone, that "Here indeed exists the true excellence of English government, with 1657 all the parts of it affirming a mutual check upon each other." While I should, naturally, wish to keep in the hands of the Minister as much power as possible, I must, myself, defer to Parliament. In the same way, while I should expect the administration of an area to be under the administration of the local authorities, I would expect them to have control in their area, just as I should expect them to work with me. The position is that there are controls in this Bill, which we shall come to in the course of our prolonged discussions upon it, and we can examine them all in detail. I have been able to examine in the course of the drawing-up of this Bill the many different occasions on which the Minister is empowered to make orders and to give directions and I am perfectly sure that they are necessary. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) indicated one example of dilatoriness in dealing with bad conditions in schooling. Let me give the Committee another example—of which I have found many—and that is the comparative dilatoriness in proceeding with the reorganisation of schools into senior and junior departments. That has been going on since 1926 and 1927, While it is true that some 62 per cent. of the children of 11 and over in council schools have benefited in this way, it is also true that in the voluntary schools, only 16 per cent. enjoy the same facilities.
The whole success of this Measure depends upon the completion of the scheme of reorganisation. Without reorganisation, you cannot have a proper form of free secondary education for all. I should like to make it clear that it is desired that the partnership between the local authorities and the central government shall result in a real development. In giving an explanation of how the Bill will work, I think it would be wise if I confined myself to this one point and drew attention to the fact that reorganisation is, first, laid as a duty upon local education authorities under Clause 8 (2) (a). The local education authorities, under the Bill as drawn, have then to prepare the development plan, in which all aspects of education in their areas are put forward. It is then up to the Minister to make an order under Clause 11 which imposes upon the authorities the duty of carrying out that development plan.
1658 Here we see the new machinery of the administration of education and this new machinery means that the initiative or enterprise, the variety and the diversity to which we attach so much importance in English education, shall be provided at the instance of the local authority and shall differ in various areas, but that once the Minister has had the opportunity of approving the development plan and has made his orders, it shall be mandatory upon the authority to carry out that plan. I trust we shall not see the delays that have occurred in the past because, if we do, I think the House may well find that in passing a Bill of this character, it is not achieving anything at all.
I must look back upon the history of this question because I should like to treat the hon. Gentleman's Amendment with the dignity it deserves. It is an important point and a good one with which to open our discussions. I turn to the Debate on the Act of 1870 and I find that Mr. Lowe, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that date, said:At present we have really no public education at all. … What is called public education is merely the humble and ancillary task of following private benevolence and societies which interest themselves to educate the people. Instead of leading boldly we follow timidly.If that was the conception in 1870, it is certainly not the spirit in which I am approaching this great Bill now. I say, frankly, that I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I do propose that the central authority shall lead boldly, and not follow timidly, and that in no sense shall we take away the spirit of partnership which we desire from the local authorities.
§ Sir J. Lamb
I should like to thank the Minister for the way in which he has treated this Amendment. I may say that I am satisfied on one point although, perhaps, only on one point, and that is that this matter has been ventilated in this Committee. I am satisfied to have done that, if I have done nothing more. But I must admit that my fears are not altogether allayed. As I have said, I can trust this Minister, but Ministers come and Ministers go and even the first supporter of this Amendment did state that he had very grave fears on one particular point, and that is the number and size of the authorities.
1659 We do not know who will be in authority in future, and if a matter of that size and gravity is to be decided by the Minister and not by this House, I think it would be a very grave situation. The Minister said he and the Department would carry out their task with the aid of the Government and this House. I would prefer it to be the other way round and to say that the House of Commons, with the aid of the Minister and the Department, should carry it out. What I really wanted to discuss was the power of the Minister, but I am satisfied now that this matter has been raised and I am confident that in the future the House of Commons will find it necessary to keep before it the principle which I have enunciated. Otherwise we might find ourselves losing a great deal of the power which has been given to us—and which is not so much a power as a duty—and seeing it transferred, first for minor and ultimately for greater points, to the Department. In view, however, of what the Minister said, I do not propose to press the Amendment to a Division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Messer (Tottenham, South)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, to leave out "President of the Board" and to insert "Minister."
If there is one proposal in this Bill that would appear to have obtained universal approval, it is that, at last, we should have what will be, in effect, a Ministry of Education. Arguments which have been submitted already on the Amendment which has just been withdrawn have tended to show the necessity for such a control. It is not necessary for me to use many illustrations to show that we have nothing like a standard of education in this country. It varies from place to place, and there are illustrations of that in the right hon. Gentleman's own county, which has made no improvement for the last 30 years. If we are to have a Ministry, why cannot we give it the dignity it deserves by calling the Minister by the name he should have? What tradition is there that would add to the power or efficiency of the Department if we carry on this empty title—which is, in fact, a fiction—of "President of the Board"? The truth is that there will be no Board and that the Minister will be President 1660 of nothing. I suggest, therefore, that we should do the thing honestly. It is a mere pretence to call the right hon. Gentleman "President" when he is to be nothing of the sort. When the Local Government Board went out of existence there was no question of preserving the title of "President." We instituted the Ministry of Health, and it seems to me that every argument used for the change to "Ministry of Health" could, with equal force, be used for the change in this instance to "Ministry of Education."
I have been looking, not for arguments in favour of this Amendment, but to find what arguments could be used against it. I have endeavoured to see whether there would be any benefit in the administration of education by the preservation of something which is out of date. My conclusions are that there is no practical reason for the retention of this name of President. I think the day of the Board has gone and I am very glad it has. With it, a type of administration has gone, and I am very glad it has gone. I am not ashamed of the fact that I got some teaching—I am not going to call it education—in a board school. If there was any special reason why I should welcome the change, it would be because of my experiences. I was a favourite with my teacher and she would often take me on her knee—face downwards.
§ The Chairman
For more reasons than one, I do not think we ought to continue a discussion on those lines.
§ Mr. Messer
I was merely trying to indicate that sometimes there is an association of ideas, and, instead of preserving a name which has unhappy memories, it would be better for all concerned if we could bring ourselves to change that name to one more befitting the duty which faces the Minister. I hope the Minister will realise what a very heavy task he has undertaken and that consideration will be given to what I believe to be the most reasonable Amendment on the Order Paper.
§ Sir P. Harris
I am sorry to find myself in disagreement with the mover of the Amendment. If he will forgive me for saying so, I think he has mixed up two things—the old school board and the Board of Education, two very different 1661 things. The school board disappeared many years ago, and the Board of Education has survived.
§ Sir P. Harris
If we were going to gain anything by substituting a more vigorous authority, I would be in its favour, but I approach this problem from a different angle. I want to retain the idea of the Board of Education. I do not want the Board to revolve entirely round whoever is the individual Minister for the time being. I want to see a continuous policy at the Board of Education. I want the Minister to benefit by constant and efficient advisers. I do not want to see the whole policy, and the great expansion of education centred on one Minister. We have constant changes, and when education was associated merely with "the three R's" the importance of the organisation at the centre was not great. Now it is to cover the whole field of education, and I want to see such a staff and such a machinery, at Whitehall, as will be able to view education as a whole and devise a comprehensive policy. We have a provision for making these Advisory Councils permanent, and putting them on a sound basis. If it had not been for that, I should have liked to have seen the Board of Education becoming a real Board, like the Board of Admiralty or the Army Council. But the various aspects of education are represented by members of the Board who are to be the councillors and are to view policy as a whole. For that reason, and not merely on sentimental grounds, because I want the Board to have something more than the policy of one individual, I would like to retain the term "Board." There should be continuity of thinking at the head on the whole problem of education, so that primary, secondary, technical and adult education, and also university education, should be considered in all their aspects by an authority responsible for national policy. I want to keep the term "Board" so that it should not be merely the work or policy of one individual, who happens to be the Minister at any particular period.
§ Mr. R. Morgan (Stourbridge)
I rise to support the Amendment. I think the hon. Baronet has given all the reasons why the Board should become a more dignified Ministry. It has always been said in the 1662 past that the Board of Education is the Cinderella of the Ministries and I think the change would be helpful. We have a Minister of Agriculture and a Minister of Health. Why not a Minister of Education? The Board has never met, and, if we are to make some change now, let us give it a proper title and let us have a Department known as the Ministry of Education, with a Minister in charge.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lindsay
This is only a question of nomenclature, but I beg the Minister to accept the Amendment. I find it extremely difficult to speak on this question without touching the question of the Advisory Councils which, as the Committee knows, will arise on later Amendments. To get the Bill in proper proportions, we ought to have a discussion on Part I and on what we mean by it. In the previous Amendment, the only point was to get a definition of "control." I want the Minister actually to have more power, but I also want to know, by what sanction he is going to enforce it. This question of a Ministry, is far more important than the question of how he is to deal with local education authorities. I wish the Minister would remember a phrase he used himself shortly after he came to the Board, when he said something about satisfying other Departments. What is it that he has to do to-day which is utterly different from the days of 1889? The Duke of Devonshire, asked what he meant by a Board, said:I admit I have never been able to find anyone who could recollect the reasons which we had in favour of a Board instead of a Secretary of State.The right hon. Baronet the Member for South West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) says that he wants to preserve the Board because he wants this central Ministry to deal with all the questions that come up. Surely, the Minister has appointed his Advisory Council for that very reason, so that commercial, adult and technical education would be covered by that council? My right hon. Friend has been meeting Allied Ministers of Education and nobody is more appreciative than I am of what has been done at these conferences, and I hope that that work is going to continue. He is going to introduce an entirely new scheme of adolescent education and that is going to take up a very great deal of time somewhere within the Board of Education. With things like C.E.M.A, and probably some control of libraries, museums and 1663 galleries, the Board of Education will become a much more comprehensive thing. It is going to deal with a new branch of agriculture; agricultural education is to be brought back again after having been taken to the Ministry of Agriculture by the Liberal Government preceding the last war.
The case is very strong. My right hon. Friend, in his opening speech to-day, said that he is going to use these powers to drive through these policies and will not be timid and wait for local education authorities, and I want to hold him up to it. There is a very good case for changing the name. It is not old as the recent report of the Conservative Party says. It is only between 40 and 43 years old, and it was borrowed from other Boards in the 18th and 19th centuries. The only reason for it was that if the Minister was ill, somebody could act in his place. The junior Minister could act in the Minister's place. A good case has been made out for the Amendment and I hope my right hon. Friend will accept it.
§ Mr. Burden (Sheffield, Park)
I support the Amendment. As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) pointed out, the title "President of the Board" is neither old-fashioned nor venerable. The question of a Minister arose when the Bill of 1899 was under discussion. The Minister explained then that he could not recollect the reasons which weighed in favour of a Board rather than a Ministry, but he went on to add that, in any case, everyone knew that there would be no Board at all. I suppose that in 1899 there were more precedents for a Board than there are to-day. At that time there were the Board of Trade, the Board of Agriculture and the Local Government Board. The Board of Agriculture is now the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the old Local Government Board is now, somewhat quaintly, called the Ministry of Health. It is pedantic to retain the title "President of the Board" when everyone knows there is no board and it is silly to pretend that there is one.
If the retention of the title, "President of the Board," were simply another instance of fossilised routine, one could afford to smile at it and pass on, but I am afraid that there is a far more subtle and sinister reason than fossilised routine. Mr. H. C. Dent, in his admirable and fas- 1664 cinating study, "Education in Transition," published recently, pointed out that the status of the Board of Education among ministerial departments was very low and that its bargaining power practically negligible. And, as the "Sheffield Telegraph" indicated a day or two ago, the position of President of the Board of Education has usually been a stepping stone to higher ministerial rank. Since 1900 there have been 19 changes in the office of President of the Board of Education. Not only have we had a phantom Board, but we have had transitory phantoms as President. That may have been a good thing for Presidents but whether it has been a good thing for education is perhaps an open question.
I want to put this point bluntly. Is it Departmental jealousy? Is it a determination to maintain an inferior status for education that insists upon the present setup instead of a Ministry? Now that we have a new orientation for education and are making a new start, full of promise, nothing would strike the public imagination more than to wipe away silly, old, obsolete names and to have a real Ministry of Education to guide our educational development. I yield to no one in my admiration for both the President of the Board of Education and the Parliamentary Secretary for the work they have done in connection with this Bill. Whatever its omissions and defects, it holds the promise of a great educational advance, and it is because I wish to help in that advance that I most earnestly commend the Amendment to the Committee.
§ Sir E. Graham-Little
Would it be in Order to move that there should be a Board of Education in the proper sense of the word?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
It is not because of any sort of sentiment or opposition or even criticism that I have put my name to the Amendment, but merely because I cannot understand why the title of "President of the Board of Education" has been retained. We have not a President of the Board of Health, a President of Information or a President of Reconstruction, and there is no tradition attached to this title. We in Britain do not treat the habit of a few years as a tradition. We have not been reduced to that yet. And then let us consider the cost. By retaining the present title, we are going to use six 1665 words instead of three—"Minister of Education" and "President of the Board of Education"—and think of the labour, ink-printing and time entailed in using the present title. My next point is that the title of "President of the Board of Education" misleads the public. When the public read about the President of the Board of Education they visualise a benign chairman, presiding over a huddle or gaggle of wise old owls, who are fully acquainted with all precedents in regard to education and are delving into the biological, racial and mental qualities of the future of our race. And Heaven knows they would have their work cut out to find them after this war. I therefore want to show that there is nothing whatever to recommend the present title. We are starting a new and live system of education and surely, this is the opportunity to sweep aside these old out-of-date, meaningless titles and start afresh with a real Ministry and a Minister.
In order to reinforce my arguments I looked up in the dictionary the precise meaning of the word "President" and the word "Minister," and I found that "President" was "a presiding deity." I do not suppose for a moment that my right hon. Friend, even in his august position at the Board of Education, would regard himself as that. It also said that "President" was "one who presided over a permanent body"; that is precisely what my right hon. Friend is not doing and, therefore, the word becomes unsuitable as applied to him. But what according to the dictionary is a "Minister"? A Minister is "a servant." Surely there can be no more powerful or more noble title than a servant of education. That is the job that my right hon. Friend has taken on—to be servant of the future education of this country, and the servant of this House with regard to education. I cannot conceive of any more suitable Minister to be in that job and there is no name that is more suitable for him. Therefore, I press my right hon. Friend to give serious consideration to what is obviously the general will of the Committee.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I only intervene to say that I am frankly astonished at the arguments which have come from hon. Members opposite, both from Members of the Socialist Party and more especially from 1666 my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore). Why must we take an entirely logical view of the name of the President of the Board of Education? I should have thought that this House was the guardian of tradition in these matters. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is no tradition."] Are we to go on from this to reason that, because the Board of Trade, after the war, is going to be responsible very largely for the industries of this country, therefore we must change the name of the President of the Board of Trade to that of Minister of Commerce? Are we going to argue that the Lord President of the Council, because he is likely to be concerned increasingly with science, should be called the Minister of Science or the Minister of Scientific Research? Do we want to change all our old titles? It is fantastic. The hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) said that this was not an old title. It is certainly the oldest title in education. We have not had public education in this country for longer than 60 years. The title was invented at the time that public education came ino being and I cannot see why we should now rush to change it. I hope that the Committee will not take to the over-logical view already expressed but will decide to retain the old title, in the full knowledge that the President of the Board is now going to preside over a greatly elaborated system of public education.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison (Tottenham, North)
Until the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) spoke the discussion had been one-sided. He is the only Member up to now who has spoken against the Amendment. He seems to have done it because this is an original idea. Apart from it being an original idea, a famous educationist, Matthew Arnold, away back in 1868—that is quite far enough back for the hon. Gentleman—said thatAt the apex of the pyramid of public education there should be a Minister of Education, a centre in which to fix responsibility A man is not a Minister of Education by taking the name but by doing the functions.The real reason why some of us are rather keen that the President of the Board of Education should become the Minister for Education is because it would improve the status of education, not only in this House but in the country. May I 1667 remind the hon. Gentleman that even in my short term in this House, during a period of only 10 years, there have been nine separate Presidents of the Board of Education? I suggest that that is not good for education. [An HON. MEMBER: "He has not changed his job because he is called by another name."] I was going to say that the reason why there were nine separate Presidents of the Board of Education was because successive Governments regarded it as one of the junior positions of the country. If a Member of the House remained President of the Board of Education for more than a year or so people began to think that his political career was almost stagnant. Some of us have too much regard for education to believe in that sort of thing. I listen frequently to the Brains Trust, and once or twice recently I have wanted to propound a question to them. It is a simple question, but I think none of them could answer it. It is this: Who were the three predecessors of the present President of the Board of Education? It is because we wish to raise the status of education that we press this Amendment, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will treat it sympathetically.
§ Sir P. Hannon
I hope the President of the Board of Education will resist this Amendment. In 40 odd years we have maintained a distinct tradition in respect of the Board of Education and a great many predecessors of my right hon. Friend would turn in their graves if they felt that the title of the Board of Education were to be altered. That is a process which I do not propose to examine meticulously to-day.
§ Mr. Burden
On a point of Order. Would the hon. Gentleman explain how anyone can understand something which does not exist?
§ Sir P. Hannon
I accept that Ruling at once, Mr. Williams. It is the privilege of Parliament to maintain association with existing Government Departments and no change can be made in the education of this country by transmuting a Board 1668 into a Ministry. In the great teaching profession the Board of Education is a familiar title to everyone, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to resist the Amendment.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I support the Amendment and, if it is carried to the Division Lobby, I will vote with my hon. Friend, but I am not satisfied with it. I think the title of President of the Board of Education is misleading. It has no high historical sound about it. "Minister" is a right title, but I would infinitely have preferred it if the Amendment had suggested "Secretary of State." The use of the term "President" is quite misleading unless there is some intention to make the Board of Education a reality and not merely a figment of imagination. In Scotland we have someone we call "My Lord" in the Scottish Education Department. I do not know whether the title has been abolished or not, but when I passed the third standard my certificate came from "My Lord." I felt a pretty big man, but I do not think even a six-year-old would appreciate a certificate from the President of the Board of Education.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has added further amusement to this discussion without throwing great light on it. We cannot debate the structure and titles of Government Departments on this occasion. It may well be that the President might be called "The Secretary of State for Education" and there is something to be said for that, when we are going through a transformation. The hon. Baronet said there was no tradition about this. There is an old tradition about it which I would like to destroy. Before we got our present system of government, it was the custom for His Majesty to establish a Board, but we are gradually getting rid of that. We abolished the Local Government Board and made it the Ministry of Health, and they were doing important work. I would remind my hon. Friend who said it would be too great a change that everybody knows the title "The Ministry of Health." I think it is wrong myself, because it goes far wider than health questions. The argument that, when we are on the eve of a great educational development, if we change the title it will upset the apple cart, does not seem 1669 to me to be an argument of any substance. In the Act which established the Ministry of Health certain statutory consultative councils were established. I was—and so far as I know still am—either chairman or vice-chairman of one which, notwithstanding the fact that under statute it should meet once a quarter, has not met for the best part of 20 years. Most Boards are even worse than that. I want to quote from a book called "The Board of Education" written by Sir Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge who, for a long time, was Permanent Secretary to the Board of Education:The Board consisted, and still consists, of the President, the Lord President of the Council, the principal Secretaries of State, the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.This Board has not met. I told my friend the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a member of the Board of Trade, that it is fantastic in 1944 to continue with anomalies like this. The first Clause deals with the establishment of a Minister. It says:It shall be lawful for His Majesty to appoint a Minister (hereinafter referred to as "The Minister"),and then goes on to say, in line 16, that the Department of which he is in charge shall be known as the Board of Education. Really, this is carrying tradition to terrible extremes. The way back was pointed out in the discussions in 1899. There was strong feeling in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords against the appointment of a Board and a good deal of feeling in favour of the appointment of a Minister. I would like to quote again from the same volume:In Debate on the Bill it was suggested that it would be much simpler to have a Ministry than a Board, and the Duke of Devonshire, with characteristic candour, said that the point was mooted when the Bill was first prepared, but he was quite unable to recollect the reasons which weighed in favour of a Board rather than a Ministry. 'It has the advantages at all events of numerous precedents, and it is perfectly well understood that there will be no Board at all.'The Board, in fact, never meets and might as well be abolished.The criticism that the Board would be a 'sham' and a 'phantom' was repeated in the House of Commons. Sir John Gorst excused himself from further explaining the reasons given by the Duke of Devonshire, referred to the precedents of the Board of Trade, Local Government Board, and Board 1670 of Agriculture, and suggested that Boards were 'potential,' because they might meet.Really it is reducing Parliamentary nomenclature to a farce, and it surprises me that my right hon. Friend—whom I and many others commended on the Second Reading of the Bill for his progressive outlook and his determination to deal with these problems in a modern spirit and in the light of modern needs—should hark back to Sub-section (2) of Clause 1. The Board of Agriculture and the Local Government Board have ceased to exist, and it seems to me that the sooner all the remaining Boards go and we know where we are the better. I feel so strongly about this absurd provision of the Bill that if my right hon. Friend is not inclined to withdraw it I will take my hon. Friends into the Division Lobby in favour of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)
This Amendment raises the question, "What is in a name?" I think most of us are more concerned with what the Minister does than with what he is called. At the same time I agree with those who have argued that to change the name to Minister would be a symbol of a change of attitude towards education, a change we would like to see reflected not only in the country but in the Government itself. If the change was effected we should not see, perhaps, frequent departures to other Offices of competent Ministers of Education. I am wondering what possible objections there can be to the proposal of the Amendment? The only argument hitherto advanced has been that there has been a President of the Board of Education for just over 40 years. Surely an argument of that kind to-day has a very limited appeal. I believe that the change suggested in the Amendment is in accordance with the spirit of the Bill itself, which wants to put the educational services in this country in an entirely new position. I, personally, hope the Minister will see his way to accept it and that it will not be necessary to force a Division upon this matter. Unless my right hon. Friend can adduce a more convincing argument that has hitherto been brought forward I shall support the Amendment in the Division Lobby, if need be.
§ Mr. A. Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I do not wish to repeat many of the arguments which have been used; indeed, with a good many of them I am not in sympathy. 1671 I do not sympathise with the argument that a change in name will confer any inferior or superior status upon the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman will be what he does, and I do not intend to allow myself to be deceived into thinking that by calling him a big man he will necessarily do a big job. In saying that I am not, of course, speaking about the Minister as such. I am suspending my judgment about this Bill, because none of us yet know whether it will be a big Bill or not. It is not only not true to say that a big name indicates a big job. The most important job in the Government was not known to the British Constitution until quite recently, namely, the job of Prime Minister. He was an obscure Lord of the Treasury, I believe, and it was by allotting to him, by slow accretions, an enormous amount of power that the office became what it is to-day. The substance of a Prime Minister's job now is not what he does but what he is called. However, I hope to adduce a reason why the Government should make a decision in favour of the Amendment. I do not mind whether we call the Minister "the President of the Board of Education" or "the Minister," but let us call him one thing or the other. At present we are calling him both. We have not made up our minds. The Bill says:It shall be lawful for His Majesty to appoint a Minister (hereinafter referred to as "The Minister")….That is in the Bill and not anywhere else. If we are to put Questions in the future are we to put them to the President of the Board of Education or to the Minister? Sub-section (2) of Clause I goes on to say:The Minister shall for all purposes be a corporation sole under the name of the President of the Board of Education, and the department of which he is in charge shall be known as the Board of Education.If the Department of which the right hon. Gentleman is in charge is known as the Board of Education it is logical that he should be called the President of the Board of Education. But, as I have said, are we in the future to put Questions to the President of the Board of Education or to the Minister? Unless we come to a clear decision about this matter the Chair, Members and people in the country will be in a muddle, because the title of the Minister will be established by usage and 1672 not by legislation. The most simple and logical way out of the difficulty is to accept the Amendment, and I use the word, "logical," with some timidity because I know that if there is any illogicality to be found anywhere the Conservative Party will rush to its defence immediately, as the Noble Lord the Member for South Dorset (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) did just now. The only justification that can be found for him sitting in his present position is because there is no sense in it. I therefore suggest that it would be much better for us to make up our minds. As it is a Ministry we are establishing we should refer to the right hon. Gentleman as a Minister.
§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith; North)
I want to appeal to the Minister to accept this Amendment. I agree that it is far more important what the right hon. Gentleman does and what powers he has than what name he carries, but it is natural and reasonable that when people carry greater responsibility they should take what is recognised as the fuller title. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) quoted the case of the office of Prime Minister. It is a very good precedent indeed, because by the time it became clear to the country that the First Lord of the Treasury was the Prime Minister of this country we did then positively, by Statute, if I remember correctly, give him the title "Prime Minister," which corresponded to his office. We all hope that the President of the Board of Education will be a big Minister, that the Board will be a big Ministry and that the country will have better education. That being so, let us give him the title. If we do the country will say that Parliament has put a stamp on the letter and means business by giving the right hon. Gentleman the title appropriate to his job. If hon. Members opposite resist the Amendment on grounds of tradition and change of name what will they do about the constant agitation to change the name of their party in order to try to make the Conservative rose smell a little sweeter?
§ Mr. I. Thomas
I think this matter is covered by Lord Falkland's dictum:If it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change.Most of us want so many things changed that I, personally, cannot be bothered to waste my energy on such a matter as this. There are far more important matters in 1673 our educational system which need changing. If there is objection simply on the grounds of illogicality there is no end to where we may go. Why not change Mr. Speaker's title, because most of us do far more speaking in the House of Commons than Mr. Speaker? So far as the objection of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is concerned, I do not see the force of it, because it applies to all Ministers who are so described in their official title. Most of us preface our supplementary questions to the Secretary of State for War by saying, "Is the Minister aware …?" It is a difficulty that does not arise in practice. I have not the slightest objection to illogicality where it does not involve serious consequences and I hope, with all respect to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), that the Government will not accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Butler
I am placed in a position in which a great many right hon. and hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), take the view that the Government should pay attention to the point of view put forward by the hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer). I would like first of all to make clear to the Committee what exactly has happened before going on to consider the arguments which have been put forward. The Board of Education, which has never met, and which has been fully described, or rather not described, by the Duke of Devonshire, whose statements on the subject I have before me, is no longer to go on or to exist. In connection with the central machinery of the Bill, as set out in Part I, we shall be considering shortly the question of the Advisory Councils, their constitution and the whole new set up of the educational system at the centre with a Minister—I am not frightened at the name—a Ministry and the Advisory Councils, in respect of which there are Amendments on the Order Paper. Therefore, I think that the set up of the new attitude to education is direct and satisfactory and will be found to have bigger variety and discretion.
We are here solely concerned with a name, and what has been achieved in drafting the Bill, as it stands now, is that the name of the Minister is to continue as before. Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 states:The Minister shall for all purposes be a corporation sole under the name of the President of the Board of Education, and the de- 1674 partment of which he is in charge shall be known as the Board of Education.The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is correct in pointing out that this is a question of name and that there may be confusion over the name. If that is the view of the Committee I must address myself to that matter, but before I do so perhaps I may relieve the anxieties of those who are not quite certain as to what is "a corporation sole." It is defined as:A body politic, having perpetual succession, and being constituted in a single person who, in right of some office, or function, has a capacity to take, purchase, hold and demise … lands, tenements, and hereditaments, to him and his successors in such office for ever, the succession being perpetual, but not always uninterruptedly continuous. …This is perhaps comforting to those who are in some anxiety lest a change in the whole set-up of education might lead to a too permanent Member of the House as President of the Board of Education. It shows, that in law, under the definition of a "corporation sole," there will be no Board, and that is really the answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris), who asked that a real Board should be established. The Government would not be in favour of blurring in any way the direct responsibility of the Minister to Parliament. I am not in favour of accepting Amendments which would have that result. My duty is to answer to Parliament, and not to have my responsibility blurred.
As to the question of name, the decision I have to take on behalf of the Government is whether to accept the challenge of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield and start our discussions in the spirit of having a vote. Not that he has shown any animosity but he has argued from a definite point of view. I would prefer to examine this question in the light of what we have done so far in connection with this Bill. The Government desire to work with the House of Commons. That does not mean, however, that I am prepared to accept the Amendment which has been moved to-day. I would like to discuss the matter with my colleagues in the Government and bring it before the House on the next stage of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), like myself, has a great disinclination to see everybody described as a Minister. That is really why this name was retained. While it 1675 does not date from a long while back it has, at least, a certain ring of its own. I gathered that it would not have excited the juvenile aspirations of my hon. Friend, who would have been preferred to have been addressed by a lord. Well, if I can satisfy my hon. Friend in his lordly aspirations, and the children of the country, I shall do so, but I would like time to consider something which has a ring of its own and which gives distinction and status to the office of the Minister of Education.
To that I attach great importance. It was for that very reason, that we thought we were maintaining a certain tradition and attaching a certain status, that the Government decided to keep this name. I do not propose to give it up without further consideration, but I am prepared to say that, in view of the Amendments that have been moved and the attitude that has been expressed, I will consider the matter again and put down some positive suggestion after having some conversation with those interested.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his statement, and I am sure in the circumstances my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment, but I hope that in future I shall not have to address the right hon. Gentleman as President of No Board of Education.
§ Mr. Messer
I understand there is a definite undertaking that we shall be presented with a suggested change of name and, in the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Lindsay
I beg to move, in page 1, line 19, to leave out "a," and to insert "such."
This is an Amendment in the same spirit as the last. The point of view that I hold is exactly the same as that of my right hon. Friend, but I want to see the status of the Ministry, or Board, or whatever it is to be called, raised in the eyes of the country. The dice are loaded very heavily when there are three Cabinet Ministers and seven Under-Secretaries thought necessary for the arts of war, and yet for the arts of peace one lesser Cabinet Minister and one assistant are regarded as sufficient to nourish the growing genera- 1676 tion. I do not think that is good enough, because the work that is going to be entailed by this new Ministry is, I believe, far larger than even the House at present understands. May I give one example based on a certain amount of experience? When certain new youth developments were starting at the Board—as it then was—in my time, I found that it was essential to concentrate on one specific aspect of the work. It was impossible to know what was going on with regard to certain other very important aspects, such as evacuation and so on, and I cannot see how the right hon. Gentleman is going to do the work that will be necessary unless he has further assistance. If the answer is that it is not necessary to insert this in the Bill, because it can be done already, I am prepared to sit down straight away but, if not, I would press him to accept the Amendment.
To give a further example, some of us would like to see a different arrangement of affairs within the Ministry itself with regard to the whole of the children—I should estimate the number at about 100,000—who do not come within the ambit of the Board of Education at all. Some are destitute, some are handicapped and some are in homes and so forth. But that is not for us here. It is for him to decide how he is going to arrange the departments within his own Ministry. He has already established something near the mark, a sort of division for very young children. If this Ministry is going to be the basic thing which everyone talks so much about, it should have at least as many Under-Secretaries as the Board of Admiralty and one should have one for the young children.
When I was at the Admiralty as Civil Lord it was perfectly possible to have a little Department, over which you had complete or very nearly complete control. My Minister at the time was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare). He would consult and bring you into general discussions but within the Civil Lord's Department you had complete control and got on with your job. I want to see the same thing happening within the general field of education. I think there is a special case for someone dealing with the vast increase in work amongst youth and I think that work should not be divided up as it is between the Ministry of Labour and several other Departments. I want to see the Board 1677 not servicing 12 other Departments. I want to see it an initiating body, calling in agriculture when agriculture is necessary and calling in the services when they are necessary so that it can have a major supervisory control. Some of my hon. Friends have put down Amendments dealing with national service. I do not want this to come under the Ministry of Labour. It is this great Department of State, which we hope to rebuild, which should be doing this work.
What about this great growth of Army education? Some of my friends are trying to initiate something which will be a carryover of education in the Forces back into civil life. I should like to see such discussion groups linked up in a great scheme with adult education and C.E.M.A., which I hope will be retained by the Board. Who is going to be responsible? A greater increase of staff will be necessary, legal and otherwise. All I am asking is that it shall be possible to have more than one Parliamentary Secretary if necessary.
§ Captain Sir William Brass (Clitheroe)
Sub-section (3) says that the Minister may appoint a Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education. I have always understood that the Prime Minister appointed his own Under-Secretaries. I should like to ask whether it is not a fact that an Under-Secretary is appointed by the Prime Minister and not by the Minister of a Department concerned. In fact, the Under-Secretary might even be there before the Minister himself was appointed.
§ Mr. Ivor Thomas
Adult education is so different from both elementary and secondary education that I hope very much the right hon. Gentleman will accede to this request, for which the hon. Member made so convincing a case. Legal English is so vague that a Parliamentary Secretary may mean several Parliamentary Secretaries and, if that is so, it may not be necessary, but if it is necessary to appoint a Parliamentary Secretary who will be able to take charge of adult education I hope the President will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Butler
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) has raised an interesting point, and I am obliged to tell the Committee what the position is about the appointment of Under-Secretaries and the number of them that exist and the 1678 way in which this question is governed. The matter has been put on a proper statutory footing by the Act of 1937, which specifies the number of Under-Secretaries for each Government Department and the salaries to which they are entitled. That Act was amended by the Ministry of Supply Act, 1939, when, on the constitution of the Ministry of Supply, provision was made for an extra Under-Secretary, and the number of persons entitled to sit in the House as Parliamentary Under-Secretaries is limited by existing legislation to 21. That structure has again been built upon by the Defence Regulations, 1940, which included provision to increase the number of Parliamentary Secretaries for the Treasury and the War Office, and to extend those for the Ministry of Agriculture from one to not more than two. That, therefore, is the position as we find it.
I now address myself to the hon. Member's suggestion. The Government do not under-estimate in any way the great range of duties which will fall on the future Minister of Education and his Under-Secretary. They do not underestimate the reference that the hon. Gentleman made to the field of youth nor to the field of adult education, nor to the development, perhaps, of some sort of English counterpart of the foreign Ministry of Beaux Arts and the development of the work of what is known as the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts. None of these matters are under-rated by the Government, and nothing that I say should be taken as derogating in any way from the great value of these many activities which have been referred to.
We do, however, feel that it will not be necessary to appoint an extra Under-Secretary to assist the Minister and his deputy in carrying out the vast range of duties under the Bill. After mature consideration the conclusion that we have come to is that the House has enough Ministers as a whole, and we do not want to enlarge their number, and, although I personally, as the one charged with these heavy duties, would value the addition of further assistants, particularly if they are of the quality of my hon. Friend who assists me here, and if they have the educational knowledge and vision of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, who has filled the office with such distinction. At 1679 the same time, in the light of the numbers that already exist and of the undoubted ability with which I hope the future Minister and his Under-Secretary will be endowed, I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment but will realise that we greatly appreciate the spirit in which it has been moved.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) need not get too excited about the wording of the Bill as to the Minister appointing his own Under-Secretary. It follows very clearly established precedent. The Ministry of Health Act, 1919, Section 6 (1) has similar wording:The Minister may appoint a Parliamentary Secretary and such secretaries, officers and servants.Similarly, in the Ministry of Transport Act, 1919, the same language is used in Clause 25 (1). There is, therefore, nothing very revolutionary in the language employed in the Bill. Although this is the legal position, discretion in the matter would not be removed from the Prime Minister himself. I think my hon. and gallant Friend may feel satisfied that, whatever views the Minister might have, the views of the head of the Government would prevail.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.