HC Deb 05 November 1946 vol 428 cc1220-6

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

132. Mr. KENNETH LINDSAY,—To ask the Minister of Education whether she has any statement to make on the forthcoming U.N.E.S.C.O. Conference in Paris; who are the British delegates; and how many times the British national cooperating bodies have met previous to the conference.

At the end of Questions—

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and with the consent of the House, I should like to make a statement in reply to Question No. 132. The first General Conference of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation will be held in Paris from 19th November to l0th December. It will be preceded by meetings of the Executive Committee and of the Preparatory Commission. The general aims and purposes of U.N.E.S.C.O. which will already be well known to the House, may be summarised as follows: to devise and establish method of international cooperation in the fields of learning and the arts, to work for the raising of the standards of education all over the world, and to help in rebuilding the intellectual life of those countries where it suffered during the war. A large programme of work designed for these purposes has been prepared for the Conference. His Majesty's Government have been closely associated with the work of U.N.E.S.C.O. since its inception, and they regard it as a most important element in the establishing of international harmony.

The British delegates to the Conference will be Sir. John Maud, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education, who will lead the British delegation, Sir Philip Morris, Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University, Sir Ernest Pooley, Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain, Mr. J. B. Priestley and Sir Robert Robinson, President of the Royal Society. The alternate delegates also attending the Conference will be General Sir Ronald Adam, Chairman of the British Council, Professor P. M. S. Blackett, Mr. Ronald Gould, General Secretary Designate of the National Union of Teachers, and Dr. Margaret Read, head of the Colonial Department of the Institute of Education in London University.

The British delegation will also include a number of experts and advisers, who have experience in various branches of education, science and culture, both in the United Kingdom and in the Colonial Empire. Since the list is rather long, I will circulate the names of the experts and advisers in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Engage the "Queen Mary."

Mr. Hardman

Five cooperating bodies have been specially constituted and will meet before the Conference. In addition the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Institute of British Architects have undertaken to act as cooperating bodies. I should like to take this opportunity, which I am sure the House would wish to share, of saying how glad we are that these bodies, whose great distinction is universally acknowledged and respected, are cooperating with us in this work.

I will Circulate in the OFFICIAL. REPORT a document setting out the arrangements for meetings of the national cooperating bodies before the Conference begins.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

While regretting that this important delegation is not being led by a Minister of the Crown—in view of the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few minutes ago—may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether the national cooperating body on education has yet been constituted; and secondly, whether the Government's policy will be to concentrate on the practical problems facing Europe at present, as of first priority?

Mr. Hardman

In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, I am sorry to say that the establishment of the education cooperating body has been delayed, and I am afraid it is impossible for it to be constituted before the Conference. My hon. Friend will, however, be glad to know that conversations have been taking place for some time with prominent representatives of the educational world, in order to take their advice on some of the problems that are to be discussed. In regard to the second part of the question, I think I can say that all the participating delegations are determined that the results of this Conference shall be along the most practical lines possible.

Mr. R. A. Butler

While appreciating to the full the merits and value of the delegations enumerated by the hon. Gentleman, may I ask him whether a Member of His Majesty's Government will not go to this very important Conference? We on this side of the House think it very important that a Minister should attend.

Mr. Hardman

There have been complaints from hon. Members opposite about Ministers being abroad, and all kinds of articles have appeared in the Press of the party opposite asserting that we do not do our jobs properly. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I would like to say that the right hon. Lady the Minister and myself feel that at this very important juncture in the preparations for the raising of the school-leaving age to 15 on 1st April, our duty is certainly at home.

Mr. Butler

Is it not the case, then, that if it is so important to concentrate on administration the services of the Permanent Secretary of the Department would be equally important at home; and, would it not be reasonable for at least one Member of His Majesty's Government to head this very important delegation, the importance of which I fully realise as I myself presided over the meetings of the Ministers of Education of the United Nations for many years before U.N.E.S.C.O. was set up?

Mr. Hardman

In reply to that question I would say that hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. They would like to have it both ways, but the Ministers feel that they should be at home.

Mrs. Leah Manning

In view of the fact that there is great disorganisation, especially on the Continent, in the education of young children, would it not have been possible for the Government to select at least one practising teacher, as a member of the delegation?

Mr. Henry Strauss

Since the hon. Gentleman has apparently some knowledge of the subjects to be discussed at this Conference and desires it to have practical results, can he assure the House that one of those subjects will be the shortage of books in this country, which is causing the most appalling difficulties in education?

Mr. Hardman

Yes, Sir. That question will be discussed, not only as it applies to this country but as it applies to the whole of Europe.

Mrs. Manning

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is there to be no answer to my question?

Mr. Hardman

In reply to the hon. Lady, I would point out that a State may not send more than five delegates, but if my hon. Friend reads the list of advisers when it is published tomorrow, she will see that all sides of educational work in this country are very well represented, including teachers.

Mr. Eden

May I ask the Government to consider the question of the leadership of the delegation? The hon. Gentleman has emphasised the importance of this subject by singling out this Question, quite rightly, for answer. A large number of administrators are going on the delegation, and in view of some of the other journeys on which some Ministers have gone, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask the Government to think again as to whether there should not be a Minister on this delegation.

Mr. Hardman

I have already replied to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Lipson

As no Member of the Government is available to leave at this time, might not a Member of the Opposition be invited?

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

While appreciating that it may be impossible for the Minister of Education or the Parliamentary Secretary to attend this Conference, could not the Lord Privy Seal add this task to his other mysterious activities?

Mr. Pickthorn

Since the Parliamentary Secretary has assured us that the question of book supply will be one of those considered, will he suggest to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that much more might be done by allowing English individuals to buy French, German, Italian and other books, and vice versa, as on balance there could not be much loss of exchange and there might even be some gain?

Mr. Hardman

I am quite sure my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will read the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

In view of the representations which have been made, and as this country initiated the whole business, and as thousands of teachers have been looking forward for about 40 years to this Conference which has at last been established, cannot the question be reconsidered?

Mr. Hardman

I can only say that we do realise the importance of this Conference, and the importance of the part the British delegation has to play, but we have had to weigh our responsibilities in the balance and we have come to this conclusion.

Sir Arthur Salter

Will the hon. Gentleman attach more importance to this consideration: on the one hand he has a negotiating and diplomatic part to play at the Conference, and on the other he has a purely administrative part in making the arrangements required for raising the school age? Is it not anomalous that for the first duty, the permanent head of the Department, the official, should go, while for the second, both Ministers stay here?

Mr. Speaker

We cannot have a Debate on the question now. Hon. Gentlemen are now going rather wide.

Following is the list of the experts, and advisers:


Experts and Advisers.

Mr. A. C. F. Beales, King's College, University of London.

Sir Alexander M. Carr-Saunders, Director, London School of Economics.

Mr. Ritchie Calder, "The News Chronicle."

Miss L. E. Charlesworth, Head Mistress, The High School, Sutton, Surrey.

Mr. Evan T. Davis, Director of Education, West Sussex.

Mr. C. H. Dobinson, Reader in Education, Oxford University.

Mr. R. Gardiner, Vice-Principal of Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone.

Mr. John Grierson.

Mr. R. H. Hill, Librarian, National Central Library.

Mr. T. D. Jayasuriya, Deputy Director of Education, Ceylon.

Mr. B. Kennedy-Cooke, Head of Production Department, British Council.

Mr. W. W. McClelland, National Committee for the Training of Teachers (Edinburgh).

Mr. R. D. Marriott, British Broadcasting Corporation.

Miss N. Parkinson, Head of Home Division, British Council.

Professor A. D. Ritchie, University of Edinburgh.

Mr. Paul Rotha.

Professor Sir Charles Webster, K.C.M.G., University of London.

Mr. Basil Wright.

Experts and advisers from Government Departments.

Mr. Leigh Ashton, Director, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Daw Mya Fein, Government of Burma.

Mr. A. Gore, Director, Secretariat Division, Central Office of Information.

Miss Helen de Mouilpied, Films Division, Central Office of Information.

Mr. W. E. F. Ward, C.M.G., Deputy Educational Adviser, Colonial Office.

Mr. F. A. Vallat, Assistant Legal Adviser, Foreign Office.

Mr. B. B. Thomas, Permanent Secretary of Welsh Department, Ministry of Education.

Mr. W. R. Richardson, Principal Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Education.

Mr. F. R. Cowell, Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Education.

Mr. G. T. Hankin, Ministry of Education.

Mr. A. B. Roberts, Adviser, Ministry of Education.

Mr. P. Wilson, H.M. Inspector of Schools, Ministry of Education. (Staff Inspector for English.)

Miss K. Kennedy-Fraser, Private Secretary to Sir John Maud.

Miss S. Guiton, Ministry of Education, Secretary to the Delegation.

Following are the arrangements for meetings of the National Cooperating Bodies:

Date and Cooperating Body

Thursday, October 24th—Museums.

Tuesday, October 29th—Social Sciences.

Thursday, October 31st—Fine Arts.

Friday, November 1st—Libraries.

Tuesday, November 5th—Mass Media.