HC Deb 09 March 1944 vol 397 cc2286-305
The Deputy-Chairman

I propose to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), on which I think we can have a fairly comprehensive discussion.

Mr. C. Davies

I beg to move, in page 15, line 25, to leave out "four", and to insert "three".

Sub-section (1) of this Clause fixes the number of managers for county primary schools. These six managers are divided, so that where there is a minor authority they shall have two out of the six and the local education authority shall have the remaining four. Following, rightly, the principle that the local education authority has to foot the bill, that authority provides the majority of the management. There is the principle. We then come to Sub-section (3), where we have to deal with auxiliary primary schools. Here the principle is abandoned. Although the local education authority, with the assistance of the State, has to pay for everything except the bare walls and the roof, and all expenses in future have to be undertaken by the education authority, they are at once placed in the minority. The foundation managers are to be four, while the local authority education managers are to be only two. If there is a minor authority they appoint one and the managers of the local education authority appoint the other. There are only two for the publicly appointed body and four for the old foundation.

I sometimes feel that we are much less democratic than we were in the reign of King Edward I. The old dead hand is still governing us. I wish Members would read the Statute of Mortmain, which was passed in the time of King Edward I. We should look at these matters from the point of the present and the future and not all the time be governed by something which happened in the past. Just because a number of public-spirited people started schools in the past, and have done great service, there is no reason why we should stick to the past now we are coming to new obligations, involving tremendously increased expenditure.

I think we have been extraordinarily reasonable in not asking that the majority should be publicly appointed. The right thing would be to do as we are doing in Sub-section (1), dealing with a minority party again publicly appointed. Possibly the right thing would be four to be appointed by the public authority and only two from the foundation, surely enough to bear in mind what the Financial Secretary has so often reminded us about, the traditions of the old school.

Mr. Henry Brooke (Lewisham, West)

I appreciate the spirit in which the hon. and learned Gentleman has moved the Amendment, though I do not quite sympathise with his desire that we should go back to the reign of Edward I. We are dealing with an extremely important point, the future composition of the bodies of managers of different classes of schools, and we all want them to be real bodies and not just formal bodies of so many units. I should regret it if they were just thought of in terms of majorities and minorities, because I do not think it will work out like that. As I understand it, it was the plan of the successive White Papers and of the Bill that, where you have an aided school, the foundation managers should still retain majority control. I am not satisfied with the Clause as it stands. I should like to make certain that in any aided school that remained in a single school area there was provision to ensure that at least one of the managers was a Free Church-man. I do not specially want to put that sort of thing into the Bill, because I do not much like statutory conditions of that kind, but I should like to see that the Clause would enable that to be done.

While I hope the Government will not accept the Amendment I understand that you, Mr. Williams, are willing to allow us to discuss on it the whole subject of the composition of the bodies of management of primary schools, and I have an Amend- ment on the paper as regards the bodies of management of controlled schools. We should like to see—again I do not expect the Government will give this to us—that in a controlled school—the alternative type—the foundation managers should not be in a minority, though we do not assert that they should be in a majority. There is a point arising there which is more than arithmetical. The whole of the rest of the Bill is based on the figures given in this Clause, and there are certain safeguarding provisions by which representations may be made by the managers of different types of schools when questions are referred to them by the local education authority.

For instance, the composition of the body of managers has special importance in reference to Clause 19, where an auxiliary school cannot be compelled to join in a scheme for a unified body of management for several schools if the managers object. The power to object will clearly rest with the majority of managers, and it ought to be clearly understood that in controlled schools, as the Bill stands, no real safeguard exists in that Clause, because the local education authority will appoint the majority of managers and the Clause says that the managers may raise objection to a proposed action by the local education authority. That is very like a dog eating its own tail. That is why I ask that the Committee should give attention to the composition of the bodies of managers both in aided and controlled schools. In controlled schools, again, power is reserved to the managers to make representations to the local education authority as to the individual whom the authority proposes to appoint as head teacher. But clearly, if the managers who are in the majority are the nominees of the local authority, that does not give much safeguard to the foundation managers, who are supposed to be particularly concerned with the qualifications of the head teacher and his suitability to the school.

I do not believe we can fiddle about to much purpose with these proportions of managers, but need we really restrict ourselves by keeping this old limit of six managers for primary schools? On the governing bodies of secondary schools one can have an unlimited number. If there are many people interested, they will all have a chance of being appointed. With the primary school, though there may be more than six people keenly interested, the law is apparently to say, "No, not more than six of you can take part in the management of the school." That seems to me to be out of keeping with the democratic purpose of the Committee and of the Bill, and I hope, in considering Amendments to the Clause, the Government will bear in mind the possibility of removing that limit of six, keeping the existing proportions but bringing forward its own Amendments on Report to give greater freedom of appointment.

Mr. Cove

Whenever I listen to the hon. Member, who, I understand, represents the Church of England schools, I feel very sympathetic towards the Minister. I have heard more than once the voice of the Church of England, in words kindly, nice and sympathetic, but in deeds giving nothing away—not merely giving nothing away but demanding more. If there is a party that comes in from the religious point of view it is the Church of England—far more than the Roman Catholics, certainly far more than the Nonconformists. The representative of the Church of England on the one hand says, "I am not prepared to agree to equal representation of managers in aided schools three and three," but at the same time refers to an Amendment that he has himself with regard to controlled schools, where he wants equal representation. He wants to retain a majority of the managers of aided schools and, on the other hand, he claims further representation on the controlled schools.

I ask the Church of England to make some contribution to the problem that confronts the Minister as far as reorganisation is concerned. You cannot reorganise the educational system if the Church of England is going to remain entrenched in these areas. They have given up nothing. The Minister has given more to the Church of England than to any other section. I have a feeling that he has given more to the Church of England with regard to making religious teaching and inspection compulsory. When is the Church of England going to make its contribution? When is it going to help the Minister to solve the problem? The Nonconformists have had nothing out of it. The Catholic Church has something but it is dissatisfied. Nearly 4,000 schools in single school areas are in the hands of the Church of England.

The Deputy-Chairman

I hope that in a Debate on proportions and numbers, the religious controversy will not be introduced.

Mr. Cove

The control of these schools is a vital thing. The proportion of managers is a vital thing in the governance of these schools. The Church of England gains tremendously out of the Bill. I ask the Church of England representatives not to come here with smooth, honeyed words but with concrete offers.

Earl Winterton

It will not hurt the hon. Member to hear a few hard words from other people. I happen to be a governor of a Church of England school. If he thinks that the kind of speech that he has made will facilitate the passage of the Bill, he is very much mistaken.

Mr. Moelwyn Huģlhes

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has said that those who represent the interests of the Anglican Church have not made any contribution. I am not concerned for the moment with their contribution towards the general progress of the Bill. I am more concerned with the fact that they have made no contribution whatsoever to the discussion of the Amendment. Not a single reason was supplied to justify this proportion, and the Committee was treated with contempt. The Church is not prepared to justify this great exception to the ordinary democratic rules in this country. In an aided school the community finds 95 per cent. of the capital cost and maintenance. We are, therefore, making a most reasonable suggestion. We are not demanding a full majority, but We suggest that it is elementary justice that at least half the members of the governing body should be placed there by the public which finds nearly all the money.

Sir W. Davison

Who provided these schools in the first instance when the State was not so generous as it is now, and who provided the funds for giving the education in them?

Mr. Moelwyn Huģhes

It is perfectly clear that at the time when the community was not prepared to be generous in this direction the Church did that, but it cannot make a claim on that ground for all time. It is because of that that the Committee has accepted so many of these concessions. If we went on the point of immediate equity there ought not to be one of them. The Church has been given half the representation, and I should have expected to hear from those who speak for the Anglican Church some reason why they want a majority. Is it on religious grounds? If we look at the Bill we see that it would not matter much if they had no representation at all on religious grounds. They are protected in the teaching of their religion, in the religious tests of the teachers and in the use of the school for their own religious purposes. In an aided school they have got 100 per cent. statutory protection for their own denominational religion. Why, therefore, when Parliament is prepared to provide them with all this protection, should not half the members be nominated by the public who provide practically all the money?

Mr. Ede

We have not got back to the reign of Edward I, but we have been perilously near 1902 in some of the discussions that have gone on. The Noble Lord was not here in those days, but he came sufficiently soon afterwards to be well imbued by the spirit when he was serving his apprenticeship here.

Earl Winterton

I hope the hon. Gentleman does not mean to be unfriendly. I was merely deprecating the line of argument of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), and was saying in effect that two can play at that game.

Mr. Ede

May I thank the Noble Lord for that interruption, because the game is not limited to two. There might be other people joining in from other angles we have not seen up to the moment. The issue raised here is whether in the aided school there shall be a majority of managers appointed by the foundation. The aided school is one in which the buildings and site have been provided by the foundation and where, up to date, the whole cost of maintaining the fabric has fallen on the foundation. In future half the cost of bringing the school up-to-date and maintaining the exterior of the fabric in a sound state of repair is to fall upon the foundation. The foundation is assured that the teaching given shall be in accordance with the trust deed by teachers who can be relied on to observe the trust deed faithfully. Quite clearly, as the managers are the people who appoint the teachers, we must ensure that there shall be at the appointment of teachers a majority of the people who are pledged to secure the carrying out of the trust deed. I do not like religious tests for teachers or for anyone else, but, this being established by the law, we must be assured that the people at the meeting where the teachers are appointed shall be able to secure what this Bill says the trust shall be entitled to. On that ground it is not possible to accept the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies).

The hon. Member for West Lewisham (Mr. Brooke) suggested that in the case of the controlled school there should be a move the other way whereby additional members are appointed to represent the foundation. Let us realise what happens in the future with regard to that school. The number of teachers who are to be appointed, subject to a religious test, is strictly limited by the Bill, and the approval of those teachers is left in the hands of the foundation managers. It is necessary to do that because they are in a minority on the body. The whole of the cost of bringing the school up to date and maintaining it afterwards falls upon the public. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that, the right of the foundation to secure its reserved teachers being approved by the foundation managers being preserved to them, they shall remain in a minority. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lewisham then threw out another suggestion. It was that we were perhaps unduly limiting this Measure and the opportunities for some accommodation in the single-school areas by limiting the number of managers.

The Government will be prepared at the next stage of the Bill to propose an Amendment which will allow the number of managers to be increased, provided that the proportions in the Bill are maintained. That is to say, in the aided school two-thirds will be appointed by the foundation and one-third by the local authorities and, in the controlled school, two-thirds by the local authorities and one-third by the foundation. We shall not be prepared to put into the Clause anything which indicates that the people appointed by the local authorities are to be subject to any religious consideration. If there is to be accommodation in respect of the single-school areas, it must be made from the group of managers to be appointed by the foundation. It by no means follows, because managers have been appointed by a local authority, that when there is a dispute between the local authority and the managers or the locality the managers take the side of the local authority. I have spent too many hours arguing with recalcitrant local authority managers as a member of a local education authority to think that that very often happens. Generally speaking, when it comes to a local dispute the local managers, whether appointed by the local authority or by the foundation, are racy of the soil and stand up pretty well to the county hall or the town hall as the case may be. This is a difficult subject which has given rise to great controversy in the past. We have endeavoured in this Bill to do something to remove that grievance, and we commend this Clause as it has been drafted because we believe that it enables all the issues that have been raised to-day to be dealt with on reasonable lines in accordance with the general wishes of the community.

Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)

Does the Amendment which the Government will introduce apply to the proportions in Sub-section (1) of this Clause with regard to major and minor local authorities?

Mr. Ede

It relates solely to the figures themselves. Some bodies will have to consist of multiples of six and other bodies of multiples of three.

Mr. Martin

That will apply all through the Clause?

Mr. Ede

Yes, Sir.

Mr. C. Davies

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) began his speech by sympathising with the President. I extend my sympathy much more to the Parliamentary Secretary. One knows from his past how much he must agree with the reasons I have advanced for this Amendment and how much he disagrees with the Bill. As some feeling has been engendered and a retort has come from the Noble Lord, I must say a few words about this question. It is a fundamental matter. It is the old question of representation going with taxation. The Parliamentary Secretary gave a description of the cost that will fall upon the foundation. It is very limited, something like 3 to 4 per cent. of the total expenditure.

The rest has to be provided by the public. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Secretary has to stand at that Box and justify the control, expenditure and management of that money by foundation managers who will provide only some 3 to 4 per cent. of it. One has to ask under whose instructions the Parliamentary Secretary is so acting. It is contrary to the wishes of this Committee and of all democratic institutions.

There is somebody calling this tune. I cannot really quarrel with the question which was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon, which was: "When is some concession going to be made?" If we dare to ask for a concession we are at once accused of raising religious controversy. We have to submit quietly. As I said earlier, the Church of England have been, throughout the years, in charge of the citadel and they have all these matters under their control. From time to time concessions have had to be made, but the Bill is not the kind of Bill that Would have been introduced—this Clause, for example—by the party represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon, or by the Liberal Party. It is fundamental that representation should go with taxation, and they would have said that the majority in this instance must be publicly appointed. I am asking for a mere half and half, and not for a majority. In this case, because of what the foundation have done in the past, they want to be asked to do nothing in the future, except to have regard to the appointment of teachers, where they have the major selection.

I rest myself upon the fact that something like 97 per cent. of the cost is to fall on the public and the other 3 per cent. on the foundation. Because somebody was charitable 200 or 300 years ago, we are asked to saddle the future with these proposals. I beg the Committee to have regard to the fundamental question at issue that those who pay the piper, that is to say the public, who have to pay 97 per cent. of the cost, should have at least half the representation. There is one other thing. May I give a warning to the Committee? We are anxious to see the Bill carried through because of the improvements which it contains and which we hope will benefit the children of this country. That is why we are anxious, but this is not the Bill that we expected or desired, because it continues a system to which we are fundamentally opposed. We are anxious to see the Bill go through and we accept it, but we ask for a little more consideration from those who have for so long occupied the citadel without any concession.

Mr. Walter Edwards (Whitechapel)

I should not like the discussion on the Amendment to conclude with the impression that only one representative of the Church is interested. Hon. Members will observe from the wording of the Clause that this is not just an Anglican matter but one affecting all other denominations. I was particularly pleased to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) remark that the Catholics have not got a lot out of the Bill. From the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Clement Davies) one might run away with the impression that no sacrifices and no expenses are being paid by the parents who send their children to these denominational schools, and that all the Catholic schools in this country were put up many years ago from a fund given by a generous donor. The position is exactly the reverse, as has frequently been stated here. Catholic parents have contributed no less than £3,500,000 in the last 25 years and have built many good schools, every bit as good as council schools. When the Bill becomes an Act, those Catholic parents will pay exactly the same rates and taxes as people who are sending their children to council schools. I think they are not asking too much in asking for the retention of what they have had in the past. That is all it is. There is no concession.

All the talk of democracy can sound very nice, but democracy can work both ways. If rights that we have held for some time are going to be denied us, and in view of the fact that we have to find more money than we did before 1939, I do not think it will be very fair to the Catholics. There may be a different position for others. I maintain that we have a very fair case indeed for the retention of what we have had in the past, and I hope that the Government will not give way on the matter.

Mr. A. Bevan

I have been very sympathetic to many points of view put by the Catholics on this Bill and, when we come to discuss the position later on, I hope to be able to say something about it. I thought, until my hon. Friend spoke just now, that the Catholic point of view was that, as a much larger proportion of the money is to be found by public authority, that provision should be accompanied by a much greater proportion of public control. Do I understand that that is not my hon. Friend's position now?

Mr. Walter Edwards

The position is that we have to provide a much larger amount than we have found in the past.

Mr. Bevan

No, that is not the point. Let me ask about the principle, leaving the Bill alone for a moment. If 97½ per cent. of the money for Catholic schools were provided by the State, would my hon. Friend still insist upon denominational control?

Mr. Edwards

I do not think that anybody would say that 97½ per cent. is the figure, so far as the post-war period is concerned.

Mr. Bevan

Say 100 per cent. then. According to my hon. Friend's argument it is not the amount of money that is being provided at the moment that matters, but the fact that these are ancient rights. Let me understand this point, because it will influence my decision very much in this matter. I have been very sympathetic to the Catholic point of view, and I have considered that the Catholics were getting a raw deal under the Bill, which deprives me of the argument I used to have against providing additional assistance for Catholic schools. If I follow my hon. Friend's argument aright, he is shifting me back to my former position. I would like to know this: If 100 per cent. were granted, would he then still consider that the fact that Catholics had provided schools in the past, and that there were some ancient rights connected with them, means that Catholics would still insist on having control of the schools?

Mr. Edwards

It is a little bit different from what my hon. Friend is trying to make out. We have stated on previous Amendments that we were prepared to accept the Scottish system, under which we should have the opportunity of having our denominational teachers, but that is not the question of managers from the local authority and from the foundation.

Mr. Bevan

No, my hon. Friend is not meeting the issue at all. Under the Scottish system, the principle is that the local authority shall provide Catholic teachers, and if there are not enough Catholic teachers they can provide other teachers; but it is the local authority who do it and not the managers at all. I was a manager of a Catholic school for some years. It was certainly an anomalous situation. I represented the local authority, and I am bound to say that I found my situation embarrassing on many occasions. As usual, I was in a minority. I must confess that I still do not understand my hon. Friend's argument. What we want is that the extension of public control should be proportionate to the extension of public financial obligation. I should have thought that would be accepted by all parties. All that we are, in fact, now asking, is that, in view of the fact that we are increasing public money for these schools, public control should accompany the extension of public funds, by a proportion of half to half—although we are providing far more than 50 per cent. of the money.

Sir Joseph Lamb (Stone)

The hon. Member keeps on referring to public money and to percentages. Does he contend that public money is provided by Nonconformists only?

Mr. Bevan


Sir J. Lamb

You cannot talk about public money.

The Deputy-Chairman

For some little while I have been wondering how far this discussion might be running away with a discussion on a future part of the Bill. To discuss how much money is to be found by different sections of the com-

Division No. 6. AYES.
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock) Bull, B. B. Davison, Sir W. H.
Albery, Sir Irving Burden, T. W. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)
Apsley, Lady Cadogan, Major Sir E. Eccles, D. M.
Aske, Sir R. W. Campbell, Dermot (Antrim) Ede, J. C.
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.) Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley) Edmondson, Major Sir J.
Barnes, A. J. Cape, T. Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. Channon, H. Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley) Cobb, Captain E. C. Emmott, C. E. G. C.
Beech, Major F. W. Colegate, W. A. Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)
Beechman, N. A. Colman, N. C. D. Everard, Sir W. Lindsay
Beit, Sir A. L. Conant, Major R. J. E. Foot, D. M.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland) Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Foster, W.
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R. Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Garro Jones, G. M.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham) Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Gates, Major E. E.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd) Gibson, Sir C. G.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Glanville, J. E.

munity is certainly encroaching upon a future discussion.

Mr. Bevan

I have not used any such argument at all, Mr. Williams. This is public money provided by Parliament and not by denominations.

The Deputy-Chairman

I was referring to the argument of the hon. Member who interrupted.

Mr. Bevan

Exactly, I agree.

The Deputy-Chairman

This may be a convenient time to warn the Committee that the discussion is getting pretty wide.

Mr. Bevan

One of the difficulties is to be able to discuss one part of the Bill without discussing another part of it. What in fact we are discussing is the amount of control which the public authority should exercise over this category of school. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend proposes to divide the Committee on this matter, because once more the Government are unable to make any concession to the Committee as they have commitments outside the Committee. The Parliamentary Secretary did not really convince the Committee of the strength of his argument, because he had very little argument to commend what he had to say; but the bargain has been struck, and the Committee can make no modifications whatsoever of the bargain. I therefore hope that my hon. and learned Friend will press the matter, when I shall support him. Unless we insist upon this principle we are losing all control of the educational structure.

Question put, "That the word 'four' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 169; Noes, 17.

Gledhill, G. Linstead, H. N. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Glyn, Sir R. G. C. Lipson, D. L. Savory, Professor D. L.
Gower, Sir R. V. Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.) Schuster, Sir G. E.
Grant-Ferris, Wing-Comdr. R. Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley) Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Leftus, P. C. Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)
Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Lucas, Major Sir J. M. Silkin, L.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard Spearman, A. C. M.
Gretton, J. F. McKie, J. H. Stokes, R. R.
Gridley, Sir A. B. MacLaren, A. Strickland, Capt. W. F.
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham) Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E. Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (Northwich)
Gunston, Major Sir D. W. Manningham-Buller Major R. E. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Guy, W. H. Martin, J. H. Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Mathers, G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Mellor, Sir J. S. P. Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Tinker, J. J.
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Molson, A. H. E. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Montague, F. Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.
Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown) Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge) Turton, R. H.
Hubbard, T. F. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's) Viant, S. P.
Hume, Sir G. H. Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury) Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford) Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham) Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
James Wins-Com. A (Well'borough) Oliver, G. H. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
James, Admiral Sir W. (Ports'th, N.) Pearson, A. Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.
Jeffreys, General Sir G. D. Petherick, Major M. Webbe, Sir W. Harold
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Jennings, R. Plugge, Capt. L. F. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Jewson, P. W. Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Wilkinson, Ellen
Keatinge, Major E. M. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Keeling, E. H. Prescott, W. R. S. Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Keir, Mrs. Cazalet Price, M. P. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Pym, L. R. Woodburn, A.
Key, C. W. Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Kimball, Major L. Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey) Wootton-Davies, J. H.
King-Hall, Commander W. S. R. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Wragg, H.
Kirby, B. V. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) York, Major C.
Lamb, Sir J. Q. Riley, B.
Lancaster, Lieut.-Col. C. G. Ritson, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—
Leach, W. Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A. (Mitcham) Mr. Boulton and
Leighton, Major B. E. P. Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Mr. A. S. L. Young.
Liddall, W. S. Rothschild, J. A. de
Cove, W. G. Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor) Wayland, Sir W. A.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) Owen, Major Sir G. White, H. (Derby, N. E.)
Gruffydd, W. J. Quibell, D. J. K. Woolley, Major W. E.
Hardie, Agnes Richards, R.
Harvey, T. E. Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Mr. Clement Davies and
Loverseed, J. E. Watson, W. McL. Mr. Aneurin Bevan.
Mr. E. Harvey

I beg to move, in page 15, line 37, at the end, to add: (d) the instrument of management for every county primary school and for every auxiliary school shall provide that at least one manager shall be a representative of the parents. At different stages in the discussion of this Bill, I think from all quarters of the Committee there has come an expression of appreciation of the parents' part in the education of the child, and I think that that is something on which, above all differences, we can unite and which we all, therefore, ought to try to express in the structure of our educational system as hitherto we have failed to do. We want the parents of the children to feel that the school is their school, just as the children feel that it is their school, and this would be best done if it could be provided that at least one representative of the parents should be actually a manager of the school.

In the case of one of the latest developments, that of the nursery schools, a most encouraging feature has been the immense interest of the parents in the school, the way in which they have come to visit it and help it. Too often in the past they have not had the same intimate relationship with, and interest in the elementary schools attended by their children. If they are entrusted with the duty of having a representative on the management of the school, that will provide the opportunity of bringing together the parents at intervals. It will bring them into closer contact with the staff of the school. It will make them take a wider, deeper interest in it, and, on all these grounds I hope that the President may see his way to accept, if not the wording, the principle of the Amendment, that the parents should be associated with the management. It may be said that, in some cases, it may be said that the parents are not equipped educationally to do that. I do not think that is an argument which should be admitted. They will be educated in the process of their association with the work of the school, and it will give a great opportunity for civic service of the most valuable kind to thousands of our citizens throughout the length and breadth of the land.

Sir Ernest Graham-Little (London University)

I wish to support this Amendment. I would like to point out that as the Bill now stands it would seem quite probable that the child from the age of two years to the age of 18 will be in the atmosphere of the school and not the home, and that the home will be regarded, rather as a place of board and lodging and nothing else. I hope that some degree of parental interest and responsibility may be retained in the way proposed by the Amendment, which will counteract this unhappy estrangement from home influences.

Mr. Martin (Southwark, Central)

I also should like to support the Amendment. For some 12 or 15 years I have been a representative of a major authority on a management committee, and I have been impressed by two facts. One was that the major authority tended to send representatives who were interested in the academic side of education, and the representatives of the minor authority were useful, not so much for that function, as for acting as a liaison between the authority and the school. Not every headmaster and headmistress is equally happy in his or her relationship with the authority and not every authority is equally happy in its relationship with the headmaster or headmistress of the school concerned. To have in any particular area a number of people who actually represent that area, who live in the streets from which the children come, is extraordinarily useful in bringing the whole body of parents in that area into touch with the schools and interpreting the ideas which the teachers put over, and also in communicating the feelings of the parents, who are often inarticulate themselves, to the teachers. These often do not live in the locality and do not sense the difficulties and troubles which parents experience. This seems, I know, an insignificant matter, but I am sure that it is of immense importance. These insigni- ficant things often have great validity behind them. I remember from my own schooldays an old Latin tag, Res angusta domi, which may be loosely interpreted as "How important are the small things of life." I am certain that our success in local government, national government, and other sorts of government is due to the fact that we have a proper sense of the value of small things of this nature.

Captain Cobb (Preston)

I fully sympathise with the principles involved in this Amendment, and I think it would be an excellent thing for every body of managers to include somebody who was a representative of the parents, somebody to whom those parents could come with their difficulties and complaints. But who is to select the representative of the parents? It seems to me that that is a very great difficulty. Where you have an effective parents' association connected with every school, the matter is comparatively simple; but where, as in certainly the majority of primary schools, there is no such association, it is going to be very difficult to find anybody who can be said to be a suitable representative of the parents. Another question is, where is that manager coming from? Is he to be taken off the foundation managers, or to be taken off the authority managers, or is he to be an extra? I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) could answer some of these questions. If he could, it would help me to make up my mind.

Mr. Gallacher

Would the hon. and gallant Member not agree that the local authorities, in choosing a parent, could look round, and if they saw a good Labour man or a good Communist, that would be a suitable choice?

Mr. Lindsay

I put my name to this Amendment because, like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Preston (Captain Cobb), I am in complete sympathy with it, but I think he has raised important objections. Unless there is a parents' association it will be difficult to make a choice. I think that, over a large part of the country, it is the exception to find among the managers, parents of the children who actually attend the schools, and, in consequence, something absolutely vital is lost.

Captain Cobb

The Amendment asks that there shall be a manager who is representative of the parents—not necessarily a parent.

Mr. Lindsay

I know; either a parent or a representative of the parents. But it is an exception to find anybody who can be called even a representative of the parents. Unfortunately, the managers seem to come from a different stratum of society. Therefore, I support the spirit of this Amendment, but I am well aware that there are very great difficulties.

Mr. Ede

The Government are in complete sympathy with the idea behind this Amendment. We desire the closest possible association between the parents who send their children to the schools, and the day-to-day activities of the schools. We welcome anything that will tend to make the association between the parents and the schools closer than it has been in the past. Much has been done in recent years, by parents' days and by all sorts of invitations to parents to come in to see exhibitions, and so on. Our difficulty is the question of machinery, which was pointed out by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Preston (Captain Cobb). Is this representative to be one of the foundation managers; is it to be the parish council representative or the county council representative, if we have the existing proportions? Any effort to upset those proportions will, as has just been demonstrated, lead to some contention. I do not share the view of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) that this is an exceptional matter, even at present. I think that in a good many areas, even now, a representative of the parents is chosen. In my own county the county councillors, in suggesting representatives, are charged to see that one of the managers shall be somebody who is reckoned to be representing the parents.

Mr. Lindsay

How do they determine that?

Mr. Ede

It must be left to the managers. Some people say that it must be a parent; then, when that person's last child goes out of the school, that person ceases to be a representative of the parents, although he may never have been more truly representative of the parents than at that particular moment. Other people say, "This person is associated with such-and-such an organisation with which a majority of the parents are associated, and he is a suitable person." I hope that this discussion will reach the ears of local education authorities and others when they are making appointments, and that they will endeavour to see that the managing body of a school is not, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock said, drawn from a different social stratum from that in which the pupils of the school are found, but that some, at least, of the managers will be people who live the daily life of the village or town, who are in close association with the parents, and can make the wishes of the parents known to the managers and to the teachers. I am a little suspicious sometimes of persons nominated by the parents' association, because it is not always the best person who is put forward, but the most thrusting person, who thinks he has to justify his existence by making as much trouble as he can. I have had one or two unfortunate experiences of that kind myself. But I would like my right hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) to feel that the Government are in thorough sympathy with his view. I think he would admit that he has suggested no machinery by which this can be carried out, but I hope that note will be taken of this discussion in the offices of local education authorities, and among the people who are responsible for nominating foundation managers, and in that way the spirit of his Amendment may be mare largely met in the future than it has been in the past.

Mr. Harvey

I ought to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for the way in which he has expressed sympathy with this Amendment. I think that the fact that he has taken that view, on behalf of the Board of Education, will be of real assistance in encouraging the election of managers who are really representative of the parents. I think he might have gone a little further and given an assurance that if there is any circular of recommendations sent out by the Board of Education to authorities in connection with the Bill, it will contain a suggestion that, where possible, there should be someone who was representative, in the true sense of the word, of parents. I deliberately did not suggest machinery, because there might be different ways in which, in different districts and in different schools, the best persons would be selected. In many cases they would be parents or people who had had children at the school in recent years. In other cases, they would be trusted persons in touch with the parents. I am grateful for the way the Government have accepted the idea underlying the Amendment, and, in view of that, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

Mr. Brooke

This is the one opportunity I shall have to express my gratitude to the Government for the announcement they made that, on the Report stage, they will withdraw this silly restriction of the number of managers for a primary school to six. It is a little change, but a change which may have valuable results in improving the quality of education. For that reason, we ought not to let the opportunity pass without expressing thanks to the Government for a far-sighted decision.

Question put, and agreed to.