HC Deb 27 July 1944 vol 402 cc919-21

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line i8, after the first "Minister," insert: but as to one-third of the members the Minister shall make the appointments after consultation alternately with the President of the Board of Trade and with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. Butler

I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

I have put a Motion to this effect on the Order Paper, and I think it behoves me to give one or two arguments in support of it. Naturally the Government have considered very carefully the issue raised in this Amendment. The Amendment requires that the Minister of Education shall make appointments to his Advisory Councils after consultation with two of his colleagues in the Government. The first difficulty in the way of accepting this Amendment, on which the Government view was clearly stated in another place, is that if I were to pick out two of my colleagues for the purpose of consultation many of my other colleagues who are very much interested in education might feel aggrieved that I had not also taken them into consultation. The Minister of Labour and the Minister of Home Security are very closely concerned with the children and young people of this country, and there are several matters upon which they have very strong views, and I should not like to think that any of my colleagues should feel that a slur had been cast on them if they were not consulted. The matter is made even more complicated by the fact that the Minister of Agriculture and I have set up a special committee to deal with agricultural education. Therefore it seems otiose that I should be obliged to consult my colleagues before setting up Advisory Councils. In fact, without saying too much, this doctrine of setting down in a Bill that I should consult two of my colleagues is not, in the Government's opinion, the proper view to take of Government responsibility as a whole.

I should, however, say to hon. Members and other persons outside who are interested in this subject that the Motion to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment does not mean that the Government are not very much interested in technical education. The object of the mover of the Amendment in another place was to ensure that the Councils had upon them people interested in the technical aspect of education. It is the intention of the Government to put upon these Councils persons interested in technical matters and to consult such bodies or persons as are interested in order that technical education may be given every support. I go further by saying that this Bill will not operate properly unless we stress the importance of technical education. It is only if we can get our industries going properly—our export trade and everything else—that we shall be able to find the funds to finance these Measures, and without technical education we should be nowhere. I therefore repeat what I said during the Committee stage and have said on other occasions, that it is our desire that technical education should be given every possible opportunity to develop under this Bill, and that I shall consult persons in the country and take all possible care to ensure that these Advisory Councils are properly constituted. Question, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.