HC Deb 09 February 1944 vol 396 cc1786-810

Amendment proposed: In page 3, line 22, to leave out Sub-section (3) and to insert: (3) Not more than half of the members of each council shall be persons who are directly engaged in the statutory system of public education or in educational institutions not forming of that system."—[Mr. Linstead.]

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)

It will be in the recollection of the Committee that this Question was before the House when the Debate was adjourned, and, while I do not wish to delay the proceedings, I want to say a word or two in support of the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare), to insert: including persons with special knowledge of rural education which you, Mr. Williams, allowed us to consider along with the Amendment now under discussion. Those of us who have given some study to these questions in the past, would be very grateful if the President of the Board of Education could give us an assurance on these points in connection with the constitution of the Council. We do not ask for any bias in favour of rural education, but we do ask that there should be a proper balance between rural education and other forms of education, and, in supporting the point which my hon. Friend makes in his Amendment I would like to mention these facts. To-day, agriculture in this country is the most highly mechanised form of agriculture in the world. We have been told that by the Minister of Agriculture. It therefore follows that it is necessary that the educational system of the country in future should obtain recruits who are fully qualified in the technical sense. I would welcome a statement from the President to the effect that he would keep in mind, as persons who would be fit to serve on this Council, the education officers of the various local authorities. These officers are highly instructed from the rural education point of view, and I think they should be included. I hope this matter will be borne in mind, along with the fact that the increased mechanisation of the agriculture carried on in this country needs special treatment.

Sir Geoffrey Shakespeare (Norwich)

I had intended yesterday formally to move the Amendment in my name but in order to save the time of the Committee and to secure Clause 4 I gave up that right. The noble Lord, in his remarks, did, in fact imply, without meaning to do so, that I was not interested in this matter. Perhaps the Committee will now allow me to make a few points that I had previously decided to defer. This Amendment was put down to ensure that, on the statutory Council, there should be chosen persons with a wide knowledge of problems in rural areas, not necessarily those who have been on education authorities in rural areas. I am making the point that the greatest criticism of our educational system is the state of education in the rural areas. It is no good trying to apportion the blame. I think all of us are to blame for not seeing that progress was accelerated, but the Board of Education must bear its share, and also the local education authorities. We do know however that there have been extenuating circumstances. We all know that in a sparsely-populated rural area, where the children are scattered all over the area, the problems of reorganisation are much more difficult, and we certainly know how seriously the position is complicated by the dual system, and by the village school in the 4,000 single-school areas. Such a village school as one has in mind, inspired Oliver Goldsmith to song and has driven every one to despair ever since. The handicaps are in matériel but also concern personnel. The normal village school is not even good for the purpose for which it was devised. It is certainly no good for any communal life in the village. Very often there is absence of water and of electric light; often there is one teacher in charge of the whole school. Very often there are only a few handfuls of children, and they have to remain at that school for the rest of their educational days. As regards teachers, the problem is worse, because all self-respecting teachers shun the village school, and one cannot condemn them. There is no career, no promotion before them.

Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)

That statement is rather a reflection upon the teachers in village schools.

Sir G. Shakespeare

Perhaps that was an over-statement on my part. There are many philanthropic, public-minded teachers who, in spite of all the handicaps, do go into the village schools, but young teachers are, more and more, going into the urban districts, where there is a chance of promotion. If one takes the 70,000 teachers in the rural areas, one finds that 17,000 of them are uncertificated, and, in addition, there are 4,000 supplementary teachers. That is a condemnation of the kind of education that we are forced to give the children in the rural areas. What are we to do about it? May I "shorthand" what I want to say? First, we have to admit that we have failed in the rural areas. There has been a complete failure of our educational system there. To-day we admit that we have made little progress. It is no good talking about further reforms, such as raising the school-leaving age to 15 and setting up young persons colleges. The plain fact is that there is an enormous lee-way to make up. The rural areas are living in the pre-Hadow era. Ever since 1927 reorganisation has been going on in the urban districts all over the country, but there have been few senior schools in the rural areas.

Mr. Loftus (Lowestoft)

That statement does not apply to East Suffolk, where we have almost completed reorganisation, and have admirable senior schools.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Kilmarnock)

And it has no application to Devonshire, Leicestershire and several other counties.

Sir G. Shakespeare

I agree, but it is really important, if we are to deal with education in rural areas, that we should face the facts. I make no charge against the counties referred to by the hon. Members who have interrupted me. The county of my hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) is one of the best counties in the country, and there are other counties that have made remarkable progress. But my broad state- ment is—and the figures confirm it—that, by and large, throughout the country, reorganisation has not gone forward in the rural areas, with the exception of a few counties which have been very progressive. Consider the London area and the pupils there of 11 years of age and over. According to the latest figures, before the war, of 152,000 children in the London area 120,000 were in reorganised departments. On the other hand, of 279,000 children in the rural areas only 82,000 were in reorganised departments. In the one case progress has been 80 per cent. and in the other case 30 per cent. It is no good saying this county is good or that county is good. The facts are that, in the main, there has been very little reorganisation throughout the rural districts. My first point therefore is that we should admit the failure; my second point is that we should make up the leeway by getting on with reorganisation; and my third point is that we should get rid of the urban bias which, unfortunately, has been shown in too much of our legislation.

I have said that I thought this Bill was one of the best Bills which I have seen presented to Parliament, but if I were captious enough to criticise it, it would be only on the ground that there does not, even in this Bill, seem to be a recognition of the urgency of providing educational facilities in rural districts. I am not satisfied that it is appreciated that the kind of teaching needed in rural districts is not the same as is required in the urban districts. I am not satisfied that the normal training of teachers that will fit them for an urban community, is adequate for a rural community. The real trouble is that, in the training colleges, teachers get no training in the subjects which should be taught in the rural schools. The bias is an urban bias.

Anyone going to schools in rural areas, and putting elementary questions on Nature to the children will find how ignorant they are. There is a tremendous opening in the rural areas for teaching children about the actual management and care of animals, the study of Nature, birds and so forth. Some Member of Parliament writing a book about the House of Commons said that from the House one could hear the songs of 21 different birds. It may be a comfort to some hon. Members when a Debate is dull, to know that they can go on to the Terrace and hear one or other of those 21 songsters. I once asked the children of a school how many birds there are which hover. There are, in fact, five birds which hover—and I am not going to ask hon. Members the question—but among these country children there was complete ignorance on the subject. In their training we should see that teachers get an understanding of the realities of life in the country and the needs of the country, the need, above all, for reviving some of the old village crafts which used to be the glory of England a century ago. There is also a complete absence of biological teaching, which should be the basis of good education in the country.

For these reasons I hope the President of the Board of Education will see to it that the training syllabus in the colleges for teachers will be really suitable for those who intend to live in the rural areas; and I hope that when he constitutes the Advisory Council, he will choose several experts on rural questions, because that would counteract that bias towards urban education which has been one of the difficulties of our educational system in the past.

Mr. Cove (Aberavon)

I rise to support the proposal though I cannot share all the reasons advanced by the hon. Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) in favour of it. I am afraid that the hon. Member does not really know the work that is being done in the rural areas. From my experience and slight knowledge of the rural schools of England, I am amazed to find how well they have done under the most difficult circumstances, and I would advise my hon. Friend and, indeed, all hon. Members, to read the publications issued by the Board of Education showing what is being done in the rural schools to meet the necessities of life in the countryside. I have one of the publications here, and the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) would be proud of it, because it relates to his area. I would re-emphasise that teachers in the rural schools of England have done a great job under the most terrible circumstances; but the hon. Member is quite right in saying, and I think the President of the Board of Education would agree, that the first central problem with which he will be faced, is that of the re-organisation of our education system. I think he would also agree that the first problem within that bigger problem will be the re-organisation of the rural areas.

I do not want to be very controversial, but I would say that if anywhere, we see the ravages, as it were, of the dual system, we see them in the rural areas. I do not want to rouse feeling, but in the dual system lies the real heart of this problem. It does not apply to the Roman Catholics; it applies, in the main, to the Church of England, which has nearly 4,000 schools in single-school areas. The Minister will be faced with that difficult situation. I am supporting this because I really want to give the children and the teachers in the schools in the countryside a better chance to do their job. A letter sent to me last week describes what is typical of hundreds of schools in the villages of England. It says that the lavatories condemned recently by His Majesty's Inspector and the sanitary inspector are the old original pits dug in 1878 when the school was first opened. They are not even earth closets. One fire heats a long, high room. There is no dividing wall between two classes and two teachers. The floorboards are rotten. Ventilation is nil, the walls are running with water, pools of water are on the floor and only near the stove is it dry. As in 1878 loose stones, mud and water lay at least four feet below the road on one side and there is a graveyard on the other. No windows have been mended for five and a half years. That is only one school.

I have here a survey that was compiled by the National Union of Teachers, and it is a terrible record of the callousness that exists as to conditions in country schools. It says: The contents of the earth closet were emptied into the school ashpit in front of the head teacher's house right on the side of the high road and the fluid draining from the ashpit trickled down into an open ditch along the roadside. During hot weather it was a definite nuisance to all passers-by. All the schools are old. Some of them are very old and worn out, and most of them are definitely behind the times regarding their sanitation. I could read pages to the same effect; it is nauseating. I ask the Minister to see that these cesspools are cleared out. Indeed, I hope our friends in the Church of England will help us to clear the countryside of these terrible buildings that exist. Of course, some local authorities are also re- sponsible, but they again are manned very largely by the same people, and I ask all who are interested in the religious teaching of our children throughout the countryside to be interested also in the terrible physical conditions that exist in these schools. If it needs the abolition of the dual system to get rid of these schools then, I say frankly, we ought to do away with the dual system, and I hope that the Minister will direct his attention very earnestly to this problem.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

I do not want to traverse the main ground, but I would like to say that one member or two members on an Advisory Council will make no difference at all. There was a Director of Education on the Consultative Committee in the County of Leicestershire who had been a pioneer in this field of rural senior schools. He was there for 15 years, but that did not make any difference. The reason is that one-third of the children of England are in rural schools and 75 per cent. of those schools have not been reorganised. I spent three years going up and down the country trying to get reorganisation. The school-leaving age was going to be raised the day war broke out.

Earl Winterton

May I ask my hon. Friend a question? Does he not agree that it would be the business of the agricultural officer of a county to impress upon his colleagues on the Committee that there should be an improvement in respect of those matters?

Mr. Lindsay

I am sorry the Noble Lord and I disagree on this problem. I think the root of the problem is the Church school. It was not the Board of Education, the Churches, or the landlords, but Dr. Spencer, a selfless man, who gave his whole time to endeavouring to build up new, inspiring schools. The people who stood in the way were the landlords, the Church and, generally speaking, the Board of Education. The reason is that the landlords said the children should have bread, the Church thought they should have religion, and the Board said "text-books." Dr. Spencer gave them open spaces, rural craft, playgrounds and brought in the children all round. You will never improve this position, even if you have three people on the Advisory Council, unless you attend to the question of rates. There is not the money in most cases. The dual system must be attended to and, if necessary, a clean sweep must be made. Therefore, I repeat that it is not a question of putting one man or two men on the Advisory Council. What the Board must do is to encourage a real, practical atmosphere. It must give more generous allowances, make more school estates and introduce ideas of youth service.

Mr. Burton, of Norwich, has written in his excellent book: After 40 years of secondary and 70 years of elementary education the relations between education and agriculture remain completely haphazard in this country. When I left the Board a Committee was started to consider this question, and I am glad to say that the Minister for Agriculture has now developed it to a point where there is to be some general machinery. The real answer to this question is a better relationship between the officers of the Board of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture. There must be a ladder in the countryside as there is in the town, and there has got to be a career in agriculture. Boys who have been to the Northampton Farm Institute say, "This is grand, but where do we go from here? We have not the capital to start with." I repeat that this is not just a simple question of putting two men on an Advisory Council. One-third of the children of England are in rural schools, and in the village in which I am living at the moment they are getting up at five o'clock in the morning, working for someone at sixpence an hour and then trying to work in the village school. I conclude by saying that if we are to face this problem we need a huge reorganisation in the countryside, and the Church of England must pay as much attention to this matter as it is paying to religion in these schools.

Mr. Loftus

For 24 years I have been a member of the local education authority of East Suffolk, and in all my public life that is the work on which I look back with the greatest satisfaction. As there has been so much allusion to the magnificent work done in East Suffolk I think it would be as well if I explained briefly the general idea of the system on which we work. The schools being in an agricultural area, we insist that five, six or seven acres of ground should be attached to them. Secondly——

The Chairman (Major Milner)

I do not think the hon. Member can go into details of local education. It does not seem to me to arise here.

Mr. Loftus

I bow to your Ruling. I wanted to point out that East Suffolk had tried to make these senior schools part of the system.

The Chairman

We appreciate the hon. Member's intention, but the real question being discussed is the constitution of the Council.

Mr. Loftus

I will not pursue the subject any further, and will merely conclude by saying that I do not think putting one or two members on a Council will be of much use, but that the proper solution of agricultural education is to continue the development of the Hadow Report on the lines of East Suffolk. That is the only method by which you will get a proper linking, of agricultural education with general education.

Mr. Mack (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

I think the speech of the hon. Baronet has raised perhaps more controversy than he expected. I, for one, can scarcely support the idea of placing the direction of rural education in the hands of persons with special knowledge merely because they were attached to rural schools. The very fact that this question concerning the conditions in rural schools has been ventilated and the knowledge we now have that about one-third of our children are being educated in these schools, will give hon. Members an opportunity of airing their points of view. Most of us know that rural schools in the past, and possibly at the present day, have not proved desirable, not merely because many of them are ill-ventilated and because many of the children have to walk miles from their homes, sometimes in snow and ice, and ill-shod, so that they arrive in school in poor physical shape to listen to teachers, but because the amenities and the condition of these schools are had. These are matters to which my right hon. Friend would do well to give consideration.

I am sure he has this matter very seriously at heart. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) feels that it is a desirable thing to cram into the elastic minds of young people a great deal of ornithological data, which is the province of frowzy professors, but I sub- mit, with great deference, that it is much more desirable that children in rural areas should know something about John Kett and Wat Tyler, who led the impoverished agricultural labourers of their time in defence of their just rights. That would be much more in line with education.

If two-thirds of the children of this country are being educated in urban districts, surely, it would be equally desirable that they should have a knowledge of rural conditions in relation to agriculture. That would enable them, if they so desired at a subsequent stage in life, to go into agriculture and give them a knowledge of agricultural conditions in this country. If we become too urbanised and industrialised a great number of these people may wish to seek employment in the country. It would be better if many children in urban districts went back to agriculture as a result of having been educated in the important science of producing food for the country. I hope we shall make a great effort to improve conditions in the rural schools. In my constituency there are good schools in the borough, and there are adjoining areas where the schools are not as desirable as they might be because of the general conditions to which I have alluded. My right hon. Friend would benefit very considerably by the opinions of Members in this connection and I hope that he will pay regard to them.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage (Louth)

I would like to follow up what the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Mack) said and to say that I agree with him that we ought to introduce a knowledge of rural education into the towns, so as to induce some of the townspeople to go into the country. That would be a very good thing; but I would stress the other side, which is, that we should inculcate a knowledge of rural activities into the minds of those who remain in the towns. The rural side of this country and the town side are completely apart—more completely apart than is the case with regard to any other class of industry. We shall not get a successful post-war agricultural policy unless the educational side of it is fully studied in the towns. The towns outnumber the rural areas in regard to the electorate, and that means that the future of the rural side not only in regard to buildings, but education, is practically dependent upon the towns. Townspeople should, from their youth, have a knowledge of the history of rural movements. The hon. Member mentioned outstanding leaders; there are outstanding figures of all kinds in rural life who could also be mentioned. The townspeople ought to have a knowledge of agriculture and what it means if British agriculture is let down, as it has been continually during the past 100 years. They have not been taught anything about it.

The Chairman

The question of what has or has not been taught in the towns on rural education does not arise. The question is what the constitution of this Council ought to be, and perhaps hon. Members would try to remember that. May I remind hon. Members that we are discussing a number of Amendments as to representation, in addition to the question of the representation of agriculture, I hope they will recognise that we are having only the one discussion.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

I entirely bow to your Ruling, Major Milner. I am only giving an illustration of the importance of having people on the Council who have a knowledge of rural education, and a knowledge of rural education is just as important in the towns as it is in the countryside.

Mr. Woodburn (Stirling and Clackmannan, Eastern)

I would like to say a few words about the general purpose of the Amendments which raise the question of the council and whether it is to be composed of a number of representatives of various interests who want to get their own particular axes ground in the schools of this country. Behind all lies one fundamental fact. The great majority of the people of this country want their children trained in order to get a good position in society. As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) said, they need a ladder, but the point is where is that ladder reaching? Unless the Council define the purpose of general education that ladder is pointing in the direction of good jobs. People are not being educated for the life that they are going to live; 95 per cent. are being educated for the life they are not going to live. Education must have some connection with life. It cannot be a Cook's tour round bird sanctuaries or the Zoo, or even round the country areas in order to see what kind of grass grows there. That may be good entertainment, but it should be a leisure occupation rather than an educational occupation. The Churches are clear as to the purpose of their education. They know what they want when they ask for religious teaching in the schools. Industrialists know what they want in regard to technical education. The purpose for which the teacher—and this is the handicap of the teacher—is supposed to be teaching the child has not been defined. At the moment the people in this country are taught to despise themselves, and to think that the only justifiable thing in life is to keep out of industry, to get jobs in which they will not have to take off their collars and avoid having dirty faces.

Unless the status of the people who build the ships or who take the coal out of the mines is raised and made equal with that of anybody else, the purpose of education is going to be frustrated. People will want to become educated in order to get out of real work and of doing anything for the country. The whole attitude of society is implied in this purpose of education. We must devote ourselves, in planning the new society, to seeing that the status of those who create the wealth of the world is of such a dignified nature that people will be proud to be members of the working class and not ashamed of it. The dignity of the person who tills the soil and who builds our machinery is not less than that of the person who works in an office or who teaches. I hope that the Minister will try to define the purpose for which the teacher is educating the children. If it is for the purpose of taking part in the new order which is coming along, we have to define that new order and know the status of the workers of the world in taking their share in that new society.

Sir George Schuster (Walsall)

I feel in some difficulty owing to the fact that all these Amendments are being discussed together. We have before us an Amendment which raises very generally the composition of the Council, and I myself wanted to move an Amendment to call attention to one particular class of education—adult education—which, I should like to put to the Committee, is at least of equal importance to technical and rural education which have been rather fully debuted. It needs no apology to talk on the general constitution of the Council for a few moments. I regard that as one of the most important features of the Bill. I look upon the Council as a body which will stand between Parliament—which really ought to be watching the development of the whole education policy but has not the time—and the bureaucracy, which tends to get tied up in regulations and administrative matters. From that point of view, the Council has a tremendously important function.

My right hon. Friend gave us a very satisfactory and wide definition of his conception of the Council and its work. It was, he said, to be concerned with the whole content of education. I would like to ask him—I believe that he, in his own heart, agrees with this—to spread his conception just a little wider than that and to tell us that he believes the Council will have to watch not only the working of our educational system as such, but the working of all the educational influences which play upon the people of this country. Further, I want him to agree that it will be concerned not only with the content of education but with the subjects of education, the people themselves. We want to have on that Council men who are in touch with the nation and the various influences that are at work.

I would like to give two illustrations in order to bring out the meaning of the point which I am making. We have had reference already—and the Minister said that he was going to say something about it—to broadcasting in education. I hope that attention will be directed not merely to direct educational talks in broadcasting, but to the whole effect of our B.B.C. programmes. For example, one of the interesting phenomena to-day is that a programme like the Brains Trust has such a vast audience and, apparently, such influence on public opinion. It has in fact become an educational influence. My second illustration is this. We had yesterday a very interesting discussion on technical education. I thought myself it was definitely inadequate in one way. There seemed to be in the minds of most Members who spoke a distinction between technical education on the one side as a process that was going to prepare children for their task in life—for earning money—and a liberal education on the other side which was going to give them what I hope we all want to give, a cultural back- ground to their lives and a capacity for establishing true standards of values and to discern what is good. But we have heard nothing about scientific education. Technical education in a narrow sense was all that was talked about and that was contrasted with a literary education.

I want to represent the point that the teaching of science can be a vehicle for a liberal education just as much as the teaching of history and the classics. And that is relevant to my present point, because it seems to me that the generation of young people we have to-day is tuned into science. There is a chance through science of educating them in the true sense. You can draw them out on that because their interests are alive on it. That therefore is one of the things the Council should watch—what type of education will catch the people's interest and thus provide the medium to give them something of real value. Anyone who listened to Sir Lawrence Bragg in his postscript last Sunday night will realise what I have in mind, and what are the possibilities of scientific education in making people think and giving them all that a liberal education in the classics can give them.

Turning from that to the question of adult education, I would like to ask your advice, Major Milner, on this point. I want to register the hope that it will be possible to have a proper Debate on adult education. But the Committee has already spent a good deal of time on this Clause and perhaps will not wish to have anything like a full Debate on adult education now. Can you give us an assurance, Sir—and perhaps the Minister will tell us something about it too—that we shall be able to have a full Debate on adult education in connection with Clause 40, under which local authorities are to be asked to submit their schemes for further education? If I could get some assurance on that, I would cut my remaining remarks very short.

The Chairman

I do not think it is desirable that I should take upon myself to indicate where a particular Debate should take place, and I cannot speak for the Minister, but it may be that there may be opportunity there. It is not possible to have an extensive Debate here; there may be opportunity later.

Sir G. Schuster

I trust that the Minister will give us an assurance, but at any rate I will cut my remarks as short as possible. I hope that will not be interpreted to measure my interest in the matter, since I think that that is perhaps the most important aspect of education with which we have to deal in the conditions of these days. I put it to the Minister that he has not treated adult education quite worthily in the papers before us. I thought he himself was a little apologetic when, in the Debate on the Second Reading, he said that it was rather lumped together with technical education. Incidentally I want to put it to him, that this is logically a very bad classification. Indeed I am surprised that a high-brow Department like his own should have adopted it. I am reminded of the days when I was learning logic, and a lecturer gave us as an illustration of bad logical classification a certain tradesman in Oxford who called himself "A University, family and pork butcher." I venture to say that the heading "technical and adult education" is about as bad a classification as that. Quite apart from that, we do not know what my right hon. Friend has in mind as to the expenditure to be allocated to adult education. I want to stress particularly the urgency of this subject just now.

The education of children is of course important, but it is a delayed action business. In the years we have to face after this war we shall be facing a period perhaps more critical than any which this country has been through in its long history. It is of the most vital importance, therefore, to have an enlightened public opinion. We must also remember the large number of people who will be coming back from the Services who will have had their interest awakened by the courses and discussions made available to them in the Services. Not only that. A great many hon. Members will know in their own constituencies the amount of discussion that has been started by wardens and so on at centres in towns. Intellectual interest is everywhere aroused. We must have proper measures taking advantage of that. Further, I would remind my right hon. Friend that under Clause 1 of this Bill the duty is laid upon him to promote the education of the people of England and Wales, not merely of children and adolescents, but of "the people." I would remind him, too, that in the first White Paper, in paragraph 85, the statement was made that without provision for adult education the national system must be incomplete. In paragraph 86 there was recognition of the very great opportunities that would be now available, and paragraph 87 emphasised that there would be room for new methods and new approaches. All that was good and encouraging. But the financial provision in the White Paper was ridiculously low. Now we have an increased financial provision, but we do not know how much is to be allocated to technical education and how much to adult education. All these matters need further discussion. For the present I only want very strongly to emphasise to my right hon. Friend that he should have on these Councils men of the widest vision who will appreciate the importance of adult education, and who will be able to watch and interpret and collate all the evidence there may be about the various educational influences at work in the country. I hope he will give us an assurance to that effect.

Mr. Price (Forest of Dean)

I think the appointment of two advisers to the Advisory Council to study rural education is a step in the right direction, but I do not think it is going to solve the problem unless it is accompanied by other very important steps. The hon. Baronet who moved this Amendment has given an indication of and figures have been quoted to show the relative backwardness of the rural areas in reorganisation under the Hadow scheme. I think he was a little unduly pessimistic. The county I know best, Gloucestershire, has made important contributions in that direction. I know of rural areas where reorganisation into the junior and senior schools has taken place for some time and is continuing, but I agree with him that this is only the first step, and we have a long way to go yet before we can lay even the foundations of sound rural education.

The real difficulty in the rural schools is to find out the aptitude of the children for whatever line they are going to take in future life—whether they are adapted to rural life, whether they want to go in for agriculture or the various industries connected with agriculture, or whether they have the mechanical mind which draws them to the towns. As rural educa- tion is to-day we have nothing like the proper apparatus to enable us to make that dissection. A famous public school headmaster, Mr. Sanderson of Oundle, who in his day did a great deal to introduce a new spirit into the education of the great public schools, is said to have made this remark: "All parents are stupid, most masters are stupid, but no boys are stupid." I think he meant that it was the task of the master to find out just where the aptitudes of the pupil lay and to develop them in the right direction.

The first step is to get the segregation of schools between junior and senior, then to find out in these various classifications just where the interests of the children lie, and then to afford the means—in the case of those with aptitude for rural pursuits, gardening or attention to livestock, and opportunity for those with mechanical minds to go into industry. As the Noble Lord who spoke first on this Amendment pointed out, agriculture today has its mechanical side and is becoming increasingly mechanical. So there is this important contact between industry and agriculture which again must be provided for. Here we have a field of abundant work and research. The appointment of these two advisers on the Advisory Council is a step in the right direction, and I am very glad the hon. Baronet who moved this Amendment called attention to it. It is, however, by no means enough in itself, although it has at least done something to draw the attention of the Minister to this, and along these lines we ought to be able to make progress in rural education.

Sir Arnold Gridley (Stockport)

I feel I should say a word or two on the Amendment which stands on the Order Paper in my name and refers particularly to the importance of having on these Advisory Councils persons with industrial and commercial experience representing both employers and employees. My hon. Friend the Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) uttered a sentence with which I find myself in perfect agreement. We have to raise the status of the fellow who works in overalls higher than that of the man who wears a black coat and a white collar and sits in an office. There is no reason whatever why that should not be done, but it will take education some time to make people realise that the man who works with his hands is more often than not a very much better member of society than the man who writes with a pen. As the Committee know, I have been connected with the engineering industry for the whole of my working life so far, and we attach the greatest importance to getting the right type of young lads coming along as apprentices. In many cases we have our own education officers, highly paid men, who keep in touch with the local education authorities, and it is such men, who have valuable experience from many years of watching the advancement of youths who come out of our secondary schools and local technical institutes, whose experience will be of immense value if it is used on these Advisory Councils. The last speaker referred to Sanderson of Oundle. I was one of those stupid parents who nevertheless was wise enough to send my sons to that school.

Mr. Price

So was I.

Sir A. Gridley

There is no doubt about it that the method of selection practised by that great headmaster is one we want to get into the schools much lower down. There is one other and final reason why I want to impress upon the President of the Board of Education that he should give serious attention to this Amendment, and I feel sure that he will. We have now established in industry, for good or ill, production committees. Some of these committees are working excellently, some moderately and some not at all. If we want them to work well we want to raise the standard of education of the men who come into the workshops and become members of these committees. Thereby, the value of these committees will enormously increase.

Mr. Edmund Harvey (Combined English Universities)

I wish to intervene for only a moment or two, to support the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster), with regard to adult education. It is most difficult to survey the whole field of adult education now, but no doubt we shall have a greater opportunity of dealing with adult education on Clause 40. As regards the composition of the Councils there will be pressure from all sorts of interests and the natural tendency of the Board will be to consider the existing work and the work which is now being planned. Adult educa- tion has been the Cinderella, in many ways, of the Board's work. The amount of money which has been devoted to it in the past has been utterly inadequate. Until recently we had little assurance that there would even be adequate money provided in the future. The vast mass of the citizens of this country are affected by the plans that will be made and the work which will be done in connection with adult education in the next few years, and it is especially important for all those in the Forces whose interest in education has been re-awakened. Therefore, I want an assurance from the President that when the right time comes he will see that the wide interests of adult education are adequately provided for in the formation of his Councils and that it will not be left to one person to take up this matter as a special interest but that it will be one of the major issues considered by the Councils as a whole when they start their great work.

Major Gates (Middleton and Prestwich)

I want to speak for only a very brief time, Major Milner, because you have already twice made my speech for me. I want to remind the Committee; and particularly the Minister, that we are still discussing the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Lin-stead), which is, I think, the main Amendment to this Clause. Members have expressed different opinions as to how these batches are to be carried out, but I think the whole Committee is agreed on this one main point. All the speeches made yesterday and to-day, whatever Amendment they have been on, have been leading up to the fact that wherever we start we can start at the top with these Advisory Councils. For several months past I have been meeting educationists—and I have the profoundest respect and admiration for them—and I think they will be the first to admit that the Advisory Councils must be as wide and as strong as possible. I hope that when the Minister replies he will give us an assurance that whatever the constitution of the Councils a certain considerable percentage—we have asked for 50—will be persons of wide interests.

The President of the Board of Education (Mr. Butler)

I quite appreciate that other hon. Members wish to take part in the Debate, and there is nothing to prevent them from doing so for a long time ahead. But I must intervene now because we have a great deal of business before us. As regards the problem of the constitution of the Councils, this Bill is so large and has very many Clauses on which these matters can be raised again. For instance, on Clauses 39 and 40 hon. Members will be able to have a long field day should they so desire. Therefore, they may feel that although this problem has had an airing they still have the right for further full consideration.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Middleton and Prestwich (Major Gates) is quite right in saying that the original discussion was raised on an Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead). I will deal with the Amendment in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare), the hon. Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stock-port (Sir A. Gridley). I will also touch upon the question of films and broad-casting. Dealing first with the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney I can sum up my answer to all these Amendments by saying that the Government would rather not be tied to making a definite set proportion on these Councils represent a definite set interest. Therefore, it would not be possible for me to accept the Amendment in the terms moved. But it will be the intention of the Minister in setting up these Councils to try to represent so far as possible not only those whose work is devoted to the world of education but those with whom the world of education wishes to create a proper understanding. That was what I attempted to say yesterday, and I repeat it now. We in the world of education want to hold out a hand to all those who are interested in the children and young people of this country, not forgetting the great mass of the adult population, with which we are now charged. It will be a weighty and responsible task to choose a team suitable to carry out this work but I have received so much advice to-day that I feel my task has been considerably lightened. I can assure the Committee that every point will be weighed.

We started with the introduction by the hon. Baronet the Member for Norwich, who came with the lark's blithe spirit into our Debates and who wishes all children to have not only that modulation of voice which we associate with that bird, but the soaring characteristics of its flight. I can assure him that we are most anxious to include on these Councils representatives of those who understand the country way of life, which is bound up with the traditions of this island. That is something we wish to cultivate and encourage in our young people. I welcome very much the speeches made by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham and Worthing (Earl Winterton), and others, on the rural aspect. There is no doubt that some rural districts are very much behind-hand. But I must answer the hon. Baronet by saying that some of the most remarkable examples of reorganisation in the country are to be found in rural districts and some of the counties. If I were to choose a model for developing agricultural education I should choose some of these counties, though far be it from me to pick out one from the other when all vie with each other in asking me to visit their up to date senior schools.

I should like to see, when we develop our policy towards farm education, it based upon the experiments already made in the counties in the development of agricultural education. We hear of junior technical schools but we hear practically nothing about junior farm schools. I am here to be shot at and so is the Board. I would remind hon. Members that the Board, which is a suitable target in these Debates, has made considerable effort in the development of country education. We have issued numerous books on the subject, from some of which I have derived some of that wisdom which the Committee now associates with my position. I would ask Members to feel that the Board has not been backward in this matter. There is no doubt that on the Councils which we shall initiate we shall wish to see those who will attempt to meet the points of view and develop the philosophies which have been so wisely stressed to-day. It has been one of my great prides that I have been able to come to an agreement with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture that all education below the higher level, that is, the agricultural colleges, shall come within the purview of the local education authorities. We welcome back this child who has left us for so long. If I have been able to achieve nothing else I should have felt pride, as one who lives from time to time in the country when I am spared by this great metropolis. I hope my right hon. Friend and I will be able, in the next few months, to put before the House and the country, the plan we have in mind for developing rural education.

Coming to the industrial and commercial side, in regard to which the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport—to include persons with industrial and commercial experience—has been discussed, I am able to say that we have given consideration to the need for representing industry and the employment side of it as well, on these Councils. Industry is waking up. Some of our great concerns are now appointing their own education officers and I must acknowledge with gratitude the attitude being taken by industry towards education as a whole. I have had experience myself, not only of the engineering industry but also of the cotton trade and even other small industries of the country, which indicate that with rare exceptions their attitude now is that their most priceless possession is their young people. I am determined to create further links between the Board and the world of industry, and the constitution of these Councils may be one of the best ways of achieving that.

As regards adult education, it so happens that whenever I speak I am told that I have spoken on adult education in a minor key. Well, I cannot pull out the stops to-day, for I am reserving some of my thunder for a little later in the Bill, but I can say that adult education is not to be lumped together with anything else, whatever it may be, in the actual Clauses of the Bill itself. Hon. Members will see from Clause 39 (c) that adult education is to have its own compartment and that we are intending that this very wide range of educational activity shall receive the maximum of consideration. The sole reason why I have not spoken at great length on this subject before is that I am very much impressed by the great weight of responsibility that lies on the shoulders of the Minister of Education, the leeway we have to make up and the inadvisability of promising to do everything at once. We shall see to it that there are people who understand these matters on the Council and we shall see to it that, as the Service experiments develop, we educationalists watch them and take full advantage of them.

There is no doubt that there is a boiling and simmering going on in the world of adult education, in the experiments that are being carried out in the Forces the study of which will be of first-class importance to us in the future. We are revising and looking over the adult education regulations. These slight indications will show the Committee that this matter is very much in the forefront of our minds. I will refrain from fortissimos until later in the proceedings on the Bill. Broadcasting and films were referred to yesterday. We shall demand that all the most modern techniques shall be represented and encouraged in the schools. I thank hon. Members for the manner in which they have put their views before the Government, and I hope we may now make progress in getting through other matters on the Order Paper. In the making up of these Councils, the Government have been very much assisted by the advice that has been offered.

Major Gates

I am sure my hon. Friend would wish, in view of the assurances that have been given, to withdraw his Amendment.

The Chairman

In the hon. Member's absence the Amendment will have to be negatived.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: In page 3, line 30, after "Council", insert "and."—(Mr. Butler.)

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)

Rightly or wrongly, I regard this Clause and the appointment of the Central Advisory Council as being the most important part of the machinery to administer the Bill. If that is so, the personnel of these Advisory Councils will be most important and the composition, personnel and qualifications of the Councils must form a kind of acid test of the spirit and attitude of the Board. We have heard, particularly during the last several months, that great changes in our social and economic structure may take place after the war. I am accepting that with all the hope in the world. If that is so, the Bill, when being administered as an Act of Parliament, will have to fit not only into the structure of society as we know it to-day but should certainly act as a powerful dynamic and creative force in changing that society to meet the needs of our modern life. The Advisory Council, then, must be seized of the clamant need of these changes. Therefore, unless the personnel and their qualifications are such that they will meet the requirements of the time the Bill will very largely fail unless the Minister selects progressively minded people to advise him.

The war has revealed, among other things, the great drawback that science is un-co-ordinated and isolated from the daily activities and problems that confront our people. At the same time it has given us great promises of scientific possibilities which ought to be exploited later. Will the Minister be aware of these great changes which are pending and which modern life is calling for to-day? Will he be careful enough to see that people are selected who are aware of the need of these great changes and of exploiting the great discoveries which have been made during the war in the world of agriculture, chemistry, physics and other branches of science. Unless the Bill becomes a driving force which will make its contribution in making the necessary changes in the form of our society so that these great discoveries are fully used and implemented into the lives of the people, our Advisory Councils will fail because those responsible for the administration of the Bill will not be aware of the great possibilities awaiting them to-day. The Bill must be a positive force and, if those who are called upon to administer it are not fully seized of the great changes which life is demanding, it will fail. I appeal to the Minister to see to it that progressively minded people, people who are aware of the possibilities of modern life, people who will take possession, as it were, of the great discoveries that have been made are selected so that the Bill will bring about the results that we are all hoping and praying for.

Mr. Gallacher (Fife West)

I have not spoken on any of the Amendments but I am glad the Minister has resisted these Amendments, which are built up on a basis of utilitarianism. I hope he will select men who, in the spirit of the White Paper and the Bill, view education as something which is an essential part of the make-up of the life of every man and woman in the country. I like the spirit of the Minister in resisting the utilitarianism of this world. I only hope he is strong enough to resist the utilitarianism of the next world.

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

On behalf of my right hon Friend I have no hesitation is giving my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. Davies) the assurances for which he has asked. I will convey to my right hon. Friend the compliments paid him by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and also the warning he conveyed in the last words of his speech.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.