HC Deb 19 February 1947 vol 433 cc1297-327

Motion made. and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £8,610,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947 for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Education, and of the various establishments connected there- with, including sundry grants in aid, grants connection with physical training and recreation, and grants to approved associations for youth welfare.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)

I do not want to raise any matter on this Vote if the Parliamentary Secretary is to give us a preliminary explanation. Is that so?

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

This is the second Supplementary Estimate of this Ministry in 1946–7. Hon. Members will remember that the first was in July, 1946, for the sum of £195,000. The present Supplementary Estimate is £8,610,000 net. That is a large sum. I want to remind the Committee that the total for the whole year, if this Vote is agreed to tonight, will be £113,785,112. The extra supply is required for the following purposes—Subhead C is for increased provision for grants for local education authorities, and the sum is over £4 million. Naturally, the question arises at once, why should this extra sum be required? The reason is that local education authorities have been able to do more than was initially expected. That is a serious statement, as I am going to show. First, there is the increased teacher staff as a result of the expanding output of teachers and the reduction the Department have been able to make in regard to emergency training courses. In 1946, happily, there was a considerable expansion in the production of trained teachers. Secondly, local authorities have developed their own provision for the training of teachers. The emergency training scheme has gone better than was expected 12 months ago. Local education authorities all over the country have co-operated with the Ministry, and have co-operated in the provision of buildings. Thirdly, they have co-operated in catching up on arrears in school maintenance. The view we took 12 months ago would be considered a gloomy view.

I believe that view has been falsified, and in the primary and secondary fields, in buildings and in the provision of teachers, the local education authorities have required more financial provision. Most important of all, the local authorities have gone ahead in developing the school health and school meals services. I think those two heads are extremely important, and where enthusiasm has shown itself in the local areas, it is surely to be welcomed on all sides of the Committee.

Mr. K. Lindsay

When the Parliamentary Secretary refers to school meals, could he say what percentage is paid by the local authorities? I thought it was a national charge.

Mr. Hardman

I cannot give the exact figures. It is a national charge, but I think there is a percentage grant. The school health service does show, in the provision which the local authorities have made, that they are prepared to cooperate and work with the Ministry, and we welcome that. I think it is obvious that during the last 12 months there has been a steep rise in costs of goods and services. The wages that are paid to canteen workers and to caretakers have all gone up. I suggest that all these heads, concurrently with preparation for raising the school-leaving age to 15 as from 1st April next, called for an increased expenditure for which we could not closely budget round about Christmas, 1945. Then, local education authorities, under present unstable conditions, have found it extremely difficult to estimate. We get very general and provisional forecasts in November of each year from local authorities, and we have to base our figures upon them. In prevailing conditions, such forecasts by local education authorities are bound to be of a very general nature. Therefore, I feel that, basing our figures upon these very provisional figures which were given by the local authorities, it is understandable, for these reasons, that there should be a request for this Supplementary Estimate under this head.

If I may turn to Subhead E, which asks for £4 million because of increased provision for payment of awards under the Further Education and Training Scheme, I would like to remind hon. Members that the original estimate was based on a very considerable underestimate of the number of applications from ex-Service personnel for teachers' training. The number of ex-Servicemen and of those in the Forces who, when they come out of the Forces, wish to go into teaching is something, to my mind, extremely gratifying. There has been an unprecedented number of applications from members of the Forces to take up the profession of teaching. The number has turned out to be much larger than we anticipated. The universities, colleges and technical institutions have provided a great deal more accommodation than we thought was possible. This has proved to be a fine piece of co-operation with the Ministry, and the governing bodies are to be congratulated upon finding so much accommodation. In view of the Debate on this subject initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) in December last, hon. Members may be glad to hear something about the position in regard to payments to students this term.

10.0 p.m.

Frankly, I do not think that the figures for current awards are discouraging. The number of students included on the lists sent to colleges and institutions for the Lent Term, 1947, was 18,573. The number of payments actually made to date is 15,505. To put it another way, there are 497 institutions at which students are in attendance, and all but a handful of these have returned their lists for this term. In 456 institutions, payments have already been made, and the remainder will be completed very shortly. I am confident that all current awards for which we have received the lists from institutions will be paid off by the end of next week, and, considering that it is not more than five or six weeks from the average date of the beginning of the term, I do not regard it as a bad achievement. I admit that it is not ideal, because there are these hundreds of cases that remain unpaid, but it is certainly very much better than the Michaelmas Term of last year. At that time, some 12,000 awards were due for payment, but it took some 10 weeks to clear off all payments, mainly owing to the delay in getting back certificates of attendance from the colleges. The position is certainly better than it was then.

Might I pass for a moment to the new awards? Hon. Members will appreciate that, all the time, new applications are being received. The rate at present is about 400 new applications per week. Since the compilation of the lists for the Lent Term, 7,000 new awards have been made. These could not be included in the omnibus list, and every one has to be dealt with individually. They are being dealt with as speedily as possible and we hope to introduce one more change this term, which I believe is one to help the students, by easing their position while waiting for the full grant to come through. As soon as it has been decided that an award shall be made and the case is passed on for assessment, a payment on account is made to the student of £25 for a bachelor and £40 for a married man. We are proposing to increase these amounts to the very limit consistent with safety, and, as soon as the payment on account has been made, assessment goes on and a final payment is made, generally within a period of three weeks. In addition, over 2,000 payments have been made on account. I want to tell the Committee here that, in making these payments, members of the Ministry's staff have been working every week-end since Christmas, and that there are officers of the staff who have not had a single free Sunday this year, who have been working in the Department to speed up the payment of these grants.

Before saying a word about the future, I want to make two remarks. In the first place, I believe that the heads of colleges and institutions are always ready to receive representations from individual students and to take them up with my Department. Indeed, some principals have already told us that they have instructed all students to go to them if there is any difficulty. Complaints addressed to us are dealt with as speedily as possible, and I am somewhat surprised that students should not have availed themselves of this obvious remedy but should have troubled hon. Members of this Committee. [HON. MEMBERS: "No trouble."] Surely, where machinery is set up for co-operation, that co-operation might be tried first, and, if the machinery breaks down, obviously, the remedy is to go to hon. Members of this Committee. The other point is that the officers of my Department concerned with assessing and paying grants are, and have been for some time, working at very great pressure. I want to emphasise again the fact that many of them have been working on this job for even days a week. As regards the future, we have a number of suggestions under consideration for improving the procedure in the May term, that is to say the term after Easter.

The Chairman

The question of the May term does not arise on this Supplementary Estimate, which only carries us up to the 31st March.

Mr. Hardman

I am sorry. I wanted to give as rosy and optimistic a picture for the future as possible. I think I can say that the overhauling of the machinery, which I promised in December, is going on and will certainly be felt at some date.

Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)

On a point of Order. On page 27 there are two items concerning further provisions for students at training colleges for the Further Education and Training Scheme. Surely, the Minister is entitled to talk on those provisions?

The Chairman

If the hon. Member will be so good as to leave these matters to the Chair, we shall make better progress. Further provision means provision up to 31st March, 1947, further or additional to the main Estimates.

Mr. Bowles

With great respect, Major Milner, I heard you say, "The less the Minister says the better." That was heard by hon. Members here. The Committee is interested in the statement which the Minister is making, and I suggest that perhaps the less heard from the Chair the better in that respect.

Mr. Peake

Is it not very unusual for sotto voce remarks from the Chair to be repeated in public by a Member of this House?

Mr. Bowles

With great respect, it was not sotto voce at all.

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) is quite right. The hon. Member is certainly departing from the normal rules of conduct in this House. Mr. Hardman,

Mr. Bowles

May I with great respect, Major Milner, apologise to you? The remark was not sotto voce and—with great respect, and with great humility—I thought it was intended to be overheard by the Minister himself.

The Chairman

Mr. Hardman.

Mr. Hardman

May I return to the items in the Supplementary Estimate and comment now upon Subhead P? Hon. Members will have noticed that this refers to the provision of £100,000 towards U.N.E.S.C.O. That organisation has been established and naturally extra provision is required. This £100,000 covers the United Kingdom's share of contributions to the revolving fund. This revolving fund has been set up to finance U.N.E.S.C.O., pending the receipt of the contributions from other States based on the U.N.E.S.C.O. budget for 1947. The sum advanced does not carry interest and it remains to the credit of His Majesty's Government.

There is only one other item I wish to mention in detail. It is that concerning the war workers' clubs taken over by local education authorities from the Ministry of Works, and referred to under Subhead R. There are over 100 of these clubs, but only about 30 are in premises owned by the Ministry of Works. This item of £13,000 covers the taking over by local education authorities of about six of these 30 centres during the year 1946–47, and also the taking over with them of a certain amount of equipment. Other clubs will be taken over in due course, the procedure being that we pay the Ministry of Works and that Ministry hands the centres over to the local education authorities if they wish to have them. They are to use these centres as community centres. I hope that, with this brief introduction, the Committee will be prepared to give my Department this Supplementary Estimate of £8,610,000.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

I am not quite sure how far it is possible to deal with the £4 million which local authorities require. I am certainly not satisfied with the explanation which has been given. The whole Committee will be pleased at the increased establishment of emergency training colleges. I believe that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has taken this matter as his own responsibility and we appreciate the work that has been put in, and that there are now over 30 of these training colleges. That is a considerable increase. Obviously this £4 million is well spent, and no one here will cavil at it, but I cannot quite understand where it is spent. As far as the establishment of canteens is concerned—I admit that certain local costs enter into the matter—that is a national central charge.

Then the Parliamentary Secretary referred to catching up in arrears of building. I wish to bring to the Minister's attention the deep sense of frustration which is being felt among local education authorities at the present time, owing to the difficulties about building. A new code of building standards has been set up. For two years, local authorities have been working hard on these new development plans. My right hon. Friend will know that scarcely any development plans can really start until possibly 1949. Meanwhile, these standards, which have been set up by the Ministry, are making ordinary changes in building almost impossible to carry out. Let me give one example. A building for a secondary school which, in 1939, before the war, cost £75,000, requires to have another £80,000 spent upon it to bring it up to the standards of today. Therefore, local authorities are simply worried to death, because they know that they cannot possibly put into practice these new standards.

Partly because I am one of those who is pleased to see my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education change over from the Ministry of Works to the Ministry of Education, and also because he has had a peculiar experience in local education authority government, I wish to ask him to stop this nonsense of Belgrave Square taking three months to settle the position of a lavatory, which a local education authority wishes to provide, because of the hopelessly over-centralised nature of the direction in Belgrave Square. Among local authorities and directors of education there is, as I say, a deep sense of frustration at the present moment. They say they are becoming clerks. My right hon. Friend having himself been the chairman of the Association of Local Education Committees, knows how much that goes against the grain. The whole sense of local responsibility is being taken away through Regulations passed by this House, or agreed to by this House in relation to primary and secondary education, which make it impossible for the ordinary headmaster to carry on his school, without going to the local authority or to His Majesty's Inspectors.

His Majesty's Inspectors do not inspect schools any longer. They are no longer the guardians of qualities and standards hut interpreters of regulations. I remember the day when His Majesty's Inspector was regarded as a friend. Directors of education have said to me "Could you not say a word about so and so, because he has done a good job of work in this district?" We do not find that now. They are almost snooping on education officers. The whole relationship has changed. I hope that my right hon. Friend, with his recent experience, is going to put a stop to all that.

I now want to say a word on further education and training grants. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made a promise, after a Debate in which he was good enough to admit that the facts were completely accurate, and said, "I am going to take personal responsibility for this; I am going to get my officials round me and make some changes." He says that the changes will be made before May, and that there will be certain other changes. I am grateful that he has accepted what I should have thought was a commonsense piece of administration, that is, to pay a grant directly on account, and I hope that he will raise the £25, or £30 to £50 or £60. He did say that he would try to do that later on. If it is possible to give the students as much as possible at the beginning of the term, obviously, it is going to' be much easier to pay thousands of grants.

Mr. Hardman

I should like to clear up that point straight away. The matter is being considered, and I hope that, before long, we shall hear of these increased payments on account.

Mr. Lindsay

I am very glad to hear that. May I remind my hon. Friend that 70 per cent. of the students in the country had not been paid their recurrent grants after three weeks of the term had elapsed? Why should a student have to wait six weeks for a recurrent grant to be paid? I do not want to criticise, but I feel very strongly that a change has to be made.

Twice during the last 18 months the machinery of the Ministry of Education has broken down—first over emergency training colleges and then over students' grants. The matter was then passed to the local educational authorities, who are used to getting buildings and heads, and so forth. The speed with which the colleges have gone up has increased enormously because of that, although, I admit, these is still proper centralised direction. I suggest that this feature of paying grants from the centre is going to become part of the normal method in the future. In future, grants will be paid for university education by the central Ministry for many years to come; the transition period is going to continue. Therefore, if my hon. Friend can divest as much responsibility as possible from the Ministry on to the universities—and I am speaking with the full authority of some universities—it will be much easier to get these grants paid at the proper time.

One other point on grants. Will my hon. Friend have a look at the question of the pre-natal allowances? There are ex-Service students who are married and who, at the moment, have to wait until the child is actually born before receiving the allowance. Even then, it takes a long time before the allowance comes through. Will my hon. Friend also look at the matter of a differentiation in allowances to scientific, medical and art students, because students simply cannot afford to pay £25 or ££30 for books and equipment out of the present allowance. Those are two small points, but they are worthy of consideration.

I am sorry to have to refer to the £100,000 for U.N.E.S.C.O., but it is my last point. I went over to have a look at this Conference. Had it not been for the intervention of this House, my hon. Friend would not have been there at all. I am very glad that this has been brought out, but why in the world have not the Ministry of Education yet set up a national commission? It is part of this whole organisation. If it is going to mean anything, it must include the teachers, the universities and the cultural leaders of this country. Of the 30 people who attended that conference, five were connected with films, but not one was connected with young children. This is part of the expenditure of the £100,000. I happen to be one of those very much in favour of the growth of cultural relations between ourselves, Europe and other countries of the world.

Therefore, I support this item of £100,000. My hon. Friend made a strong plea at the Conference for a bigger figure, but I think the delegates from New Zealand and South Africa were wise, because they want to see this new body star. slowly and properly and then build itself up. I ask my hon. Friend, when are we going to have a national commission in this country? There is one in America and one in France. U.N.E.S.C.O. is not just something "in the air." The I.L.O. is related back to employers and workers. That is why it has been a success in the past and, in fact, has ultimately been a league of nations. At the present moment. U.N.E.S.C.O. has not got its roots in this country. No national commission has been set up. In fact, it is difficult to find anybody who knows what it is about I tried an experiment of writing an article in a daily paper, and a lot of people came to me who thought it was a boot polish or an ex-Rumanian minister or something like that.

I say to my hon. Friend, who was so eloquent at the Conference in Paris, that unless he can create in this country some interest in U.N.E.S.C.O. or in any other international organisation, it will not last or have any future. Therefore, I ask him to set up, through Belgrave Square and through the scientific bodies, universities and so forth, a permanent national commission so that the work of U.N.E.S.C.O. will be related to the organisations in this country. Next year when a conference is held, perhaps hon. Members in this House will take a little more interest in what it is doing and, possibly, if my hon. Friend asks for a larger sum of money it will be accepted. At the moment, with the lack of Debates and lack of publicity, I would not be at all surprised if on this occasion hon. Members challenged this sum of £100,000 and said, "What in the world does it mean, and what will it do for the future either of this country or civilisation in general?" It is because I feel that so strongly that I ask my hon. Friend to set up in the next few months a proper national commission. If he can answer some of these questions. I will be very much obliged.

Mr. A Edward Davies (Burslem)

There are two items to which I wish to refer. They are "United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation," and "Premises, &c. transferred to local education authorities for use as community centres.'' I would like to endorse the case made out by the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay) in relation to U N.E.S.C.O What is this money intended to do? The ordinary man in the street quite likely, as my hon. Friend has said, knows very little about this institution. I believe it to be one of the great hopes of the future, so far as our international relations are concerned, and I certainly would vote for granting this sum of money, as I am sure every other hon. Member will do But we want a little more definition and precision as to the purpose for which it is intended to be used. Is it for the interchange of students? Is it for some policy of re-education of Germany, or the provision of text books? All these things should be considered and this could be well done by a national commission.

So far as Vote R is concerned, "Premises &c., transferred to local education authorities for use as community centres, £13,000," it is encouraging to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary that some of the premises used as war workers' clubs are going to be used as community centres. I know we shall have the interest of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary in this matter, but will my hon. Friend tell us a little more about it? I would like him to say something about the old Army huts, for example. I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say that 30 community centres are available. I want to press him for the preparation and availability of the remainder, because throughout the country there is an urgent need for community centres.

In fact, some people take the view that community centres should be regarded as being as urgent as housing, and should certainly march alongside. I suggest that if this money is devoted to the provision of community centres, in the shape of acquired Army huts, it will serve a very useful purpose. We have urged the local education authorities to set up community associations, and to welcome the idea. But they now find themselves in the position of having no premises, and no prospect of premises. I think we might take over a lot of the surplus buildings. I do not know if this has been done as far as the Army is concerned. They are described in the Vote as "war workers' clubs." I am sure that as far as the Services are concerned there must be many buildings of a temporary nature which would do as makeshifts for this purpose, until we can get something better. Perhaps the Minister would give more attention to those two points.

Mr. Linstead (Putney)

From this side of the Committee, I think it would be appropriate to offer a few words of congratulation to the new Minister of Education on his appointment, and at the same time pay a tribute to the late Minister. If there was anybody who, through a sense of deep duty, burned herself out with her task, I think it was the right hon. Lady.

We on this side of the House were glad to hear such a rosy and optimistic report —if I might use the words of the Parliamentary Secretary—on the development of the Education Act, 1944. We forgive him for having jumped into the month of May; because we can imagine that most of those who sit on the benches opposite are only too anxious to jump as quickly as they possibly can into the month of May, when the temperature may be a little warmer. Among the items for which the Parliamentary Secretary was asking for money from the Committee was the training of teachers. I should like to put this question to the right hon. Gentleman. Is he satisfied that there is sufficient central control over these training centres for the new teachers? Is he satisfied that there is not competition between the local authorities for the available teachers? May it not be that some closer control by his own Department over the people and their destination is not called for, if there is not to be an uneven distribution of available teaching manpower at a later stage?

On the Vote for buildings one or two questions arise. It does seem as though local authorities, encouraged by the Department, are spending a greater part of their available resources on primary and secondary school buildings. It would be interesting to know whether no encouragement is being given to other aspects of education which are provided for in the 1944 Act. For example, what provision, if any, has been made for county colleges? Or have they been put into the background? It may be a quite proper thing that they should be, but I think we ought to be told. Is any provision, by way of buildings, being made for adult education, or is that being put into the background in order to make room for secondary education? Then again, has his attention been directed to the expenditure which the London County Council have incurred, and are proposing to incur, for the putting up of these vast multilateral schools for 2,000 pupils in one place, for which they are already buying land instead of retaining the small and normal sized schools which have entities of their own, which students or pupils can get to know, and which can be associated with the lives of the communities in 'which they work? Is he doing anything to check the tendency which has been started already, by at least one great education authority, to develop that type of secondary education which is quite foreign to the educational history of this country, and which should be experimented with at least before it becomes a general practice, as it threatens to become in London?

10.30 p.m.

Then I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary whether he is satisfied that local authorities are spending this money adequately upon bringing up to date existing schools. There seems to be a tendency in some areas to go in for closing all the small country schools as soon as possible. No doubt there are some which very properly, should be closed, particularly the one-teacher schools, but, on the other hand—

The Chairman

I gather that that item to which the hon. Member is now referring is not in the Estimate.

Mr. Linstead

There is an item of about £4,000,000 for expenditure by local authorities, and it would not be unfair to assume that, at any rate, some of the money may be used or would be used for the repair of existing schools where the local authority does not desire—

The Chairman

To which item is the hon. Member referring?

Mr. Linstead

Item C, on page 27.

The Chairman

Perhaps the Minister could tell us whether there is anything in the Estimate with respect to this matter.

Mr. Hardman

Yes, Major Milner, there certainly is. In that Estimate of £4,116,000 there is money which is being expended on buildings, and I should like to answer my hon. Friend straight away. Considerable expenditure is being made on the improvement of existing buildings, some of which I saw only yesterday in Portsmouth.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is then clearly in Order.

Mr. Linstead

I must say that until the hon. Gentleman gave his explanation I was as muon at sea as any other hon. Member of the Committee. I would underline the point that I have made. I believe there is a tendency among local authorities at the moment not to spend money on certain types of small schools. They tend to favour the development of large centralised schools. To take some of the smaller schools out of the cornmunity in small country towns and villages, where they are the centre of intellectual life, may be a most serious matter. I hope, therefore, this desire for things "bigger and better" will not be allowed by the Minister to go too far.

I thought the hon. Gentleman was, perhaps, a little complacent in what he said about the Further Education and Training Scheme. He has now given us a firm date—the end of next week—but I think that some of his civil servants will have to work next Sunday, if he is going to get these cheques sent out. I had given to me this morning the names of 40 students at one training college who have not yet received their cheques. If that is a sample of conditions in other parts of the country then there is still a great deal of work to be done in the next few days. My last question relates to the sum of £13,000 for premises transferred for use as community centres. I do not know whether the Minister could tell us whether any part of that sum will be allocated to the provision of bars or the intoxicating liquor which we understand is to be provided in future in such Government-owned institutions. Those are the only questions I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman. To the Minister himself I am sure that we on this side of the House wish good fortune, in the administration of this great Measure.

Mr. Corlett (York)

It would be ungracious not to acknowledge the addifonal financial assistance given by th Ministry to the local education authorities I think that all the local education authorities were very pleased indeed when the Minister took off their shoulders the whole cost of school meals. But I think most of the authorities would argue that that was rather an allowance in kind, under the Family Allowances Act than a strictly educational grant. While we welcome these piecemeal grants I think it must be recognised that this additional assistance is cnly of a temporary nature, and it must not be allowed to hide the very urgent need for a full review of the whole problem, so that a new, formula may be introduced by 1st April, 1948, and authorities be enabled to carry out their statutory duties.

We are now receiving the various development plans, so we are getting some idea of the shape of things to come. It is quite clear that this new Act will cost annually about £300 million, and of that it is reasonable to say that the education authorities cannot be asked to pay more than £100 million. That is the maximum to which they ought to be asked to go, but that is only one-third of the total, or 33⅓ per cent. Today the education authorities are paying 40 per cent., and I do not think it is reasonable to ask them to bear this burden any more. The education rate in the counties is, on the average, 6s., which is greater than the total cost of the other services. The average education rate in the county boroughs is 4s.; in my own city the education rate has risen by 1s. 4d. since 1939, and has risen in the neighbouring Ridings by 1s. 3d. or is. 4d. at the same time, and there is nothing to show for the increase, that is the essential thing. This cannot be continued very much longer, and something will have to be done.

The Chairman

The hon. Member cannot advocate an increase, nor speak about the shape of things to come.

Mr. Corlett

May I put it this way? The Minister will be prepared to agree that these great differences in local rates are due to the fact that the existing formula is completely discredited. For 20 years that formula has been severely and intelligently criticised, but little has been done to alter it. When the war came along we knew the costs would rise and the disparities increase, but nothing was done to alter the grant formula. When the new Act was introduced, and it was obvious that there would be increased costs when it became operative and when the new Burnham scales became effective, nothing whatever was done to alter the grant formula, except to add five per cent. in respect of each authority. Obviously that cannot continue, and I hope the Minister will be prepared to tell us that he is going to introduce a new grant formula at the earliest possible date. I was always puzzled by the fact that when the new Act was introduced no new grant formula was proposed. There was plenty of time to introduce a new formula; there was plenty of material available. Plenty of time was spent on the Fleming Committee on this question-begging remit, but there was no time to discuss a matter that was really vital to the education authorities. Mr. Fisher was more fortunate; when he introduced his Act he had a formula ready to hand and he used it, in an altered way, and thought he had secured a formula which would settle this problem for all time. We know he was fundamentally wrong. Whereas education rates varied before the formula from 6d. tO 2S.—

Mr. Peake

On a point of Order. Is there anything in the Supplementary Estimate which relates to formulas, whether of Mr. Fisher or anyone else?

The Chairman

The whole grant is based on formulas. Whether a change of formula would imply legislation I do not know.

Mr. Peake

It would.

The Chairman

If it would, the hon. Member is out of Order.

Mr. Corlett

I was trying to base my argument entirely on the fact that the whole formula is discredited, and that, consequently, we have these piecemeal methods constantly being applied. I feel that that is the whole essence of the case. I want to press on the Minister, when he does bring forward the new grant, to get right away from this detailed Fisher formula, and go back to a simple Kemp formula. The Fisher formula failed for two reasons. One was that the rate-equalising device has never been allowed to operate; and the second is the constant interference by the Ministry with the local authorities in regard to their expenditure.

The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) raised that very point, about whether the Minister was encouraging the authorities to spend in certain directions. I believe that the formula has failed for the reason that the Minister has always been interfering with the grant formula in order to encourage the local authorities to spend in the way the Minister has wanted. I regard it as an impertinence and an insult to base the grant formula in the way it is based today. The local authorities today are experienced; they know their job, they know the needs and possibilities of their areas; and they do not need to be bribed in order to spend in certain directions. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will give me a promise that he is going to introduce a new grant formula, and end, once for all, this make and mend method of trying to do with a completely discredited formula.

Commander Maitland (Horncastle)

I am very grateful to the hon. Member for York (Mr. Corlett), because he has with great ingenuity raised several points which I might not have been able to do under the Rules of Order. I should like to say I sympathise very much with the main tenor of his remarks. I think, perhaps, the reason why we find it so difficult to keep in Order on these occasions, is that we have had in the recent past so few Debates on education; and it would be a very good thing if we had some more, so that we could let ourselves go a bit. I should like to refer to Grant C, and, particularly, its relation to the rural areas. It seems to me that in order to get the best value for our money under Grant C, two things are requisite: first, that we should have really keen and enthusiastic local education authorities; and, also, that they should have a keen body of support outside. For example, at the moment we have in every county council housing committees, and they are being driven on by the pressure of the ratepayers outside. But I sometimes feel—in fact, I am quite certain—that in rural areas local education authorities, far from being driven on, are being dragged back by the feelings of the ratepayers, for reasons given by the hon. Member for York. I do think that this acts against the efficient administration of the Act.

I make this simple suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman, how we might, perhaps, assist in the matter; and this particularly applies to the countryside. In the country we have very good provincial newspapers. They are not—anyway, in the district I represent—taken sufficiently into the confidence of the local education authority. I should like to see the Ministry encouraging the local authority to have quarterly conferences with the editors of the local papers, in order that the whole principle, the problems and difficulties of education may be written up in the local papers, in the areas in which they are read, and which they serve. I believe that that would have a great effect on the people outside the local authorities, and would encourage them to support their local education authorities, and assist greatly the members of those authorities in their work.

10.45 p.m.

I think it is essential if we are to get the best out of this Act that we should have the very best type of headmaster in our rural schools, and especially in those rural schools which are separated some distance one from the other. I feel that sometimes headmasters are not given enough encouragement to carry out their own ideas. I have raised in this House the question of the various expeditions and so on which headmasters have tried to get up for children, but in spite of their efforts, it is surprising the amount of red tape which has to be faced before quite simple things are granted. If headmasters are going to he allowed to think for themselves, there may be one or two very bad "flops" but on the whole, I think we will reap a hundredfold by getting a better type of man by making the job far more attractive. It will benefit the whole system if we let them have more freedom.

There is one further point, which may be only a matter of detail. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of making money available for the extension of the school leaving age. In the Lindsey county district we have not seen much evidence of anything happening. That is not the fault of the local education authority. It may have something to do with the right hon. Gentleman in his previous office, but I think that at the moment we have not got one single extension hut started in the whole of the Lindsey county council district or any huts being got ready for the extension of the school age and unless we get going soon there is going to be a frightful mess when the scheme is due to start in the Autumn. I leave that point in the capable hands of the new right hon. Gentleman particularly when he is thinking over his past life for the last 18 months when he had so much to do with the erection of huts.

Whenever I try to speak in this House about rural matters I always feel there are two great principles struggling one against the other, and they are, first, the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number of people and, secondly, the principle of equal opportunity for all. Some people seem to think that the two principles are synonymous. One has to live in the country to find out that they are not one and the same thing. That is particularly so in the realm of education. I welcome these Estimates but only so long as I am assured that the countryside is going to get a square deal, and that we are not going to be treated in the way which was recently indicated by the late Minister of Education, when she said she was sorry but the Countryside would have to wait. We do not want to wait any longer.

Mr. Janner (Leicester, West)

I will not detain the Committee long, but I have a rather important point although it does not affect very many people in the teaching profession. There has been brought to my notice in my constituency a rather serious case. Art anomaly appears to exist and it is one which I have no doubt the Minister would like to put right. It appears that the increased rate of salary payable to a teacher who has been teaching for a considerable period of years, exceeding twenty years, differs from the increased rate of salary payable to a man or woman who undergoes one year of probationary training, and then becomes a qualified teacher. While I agree that it is essential that we should train as many teachers as possible, and I think the Minister is doing valuable service in that direction, the question of the qualifications—

The Chairman

Will the hon. Member be good enough to indicate where there is any question of the training of teachers in this Estimate?

Mr. Janner

I am talking, with respect, on the salaries of teachers, and I am referring to the first item, on page 26, of £4,116,000, which includes in part the payment of teachers. In that regard, I respectfully suggest that the payments which should be made to a teacher of long standing by way of salary should be different from the scale of payments made at present. I ask the Minister to see to it, if he possibly can, that the period of 20 years shall be reduced, to enable a man to come within the category, of "qualified teacher" for the purpose of such payments, and that when a teacher who has that experience reaches the qualifying period instead of getting an increment only every three years, he shall get an increment annually, in the same way as a person who is trained under the present scheme. It seems to me that the persons I have in mind have a really serious grievance. There is for example a man in Leicester who has been teaching for 30½ years in a secondary school; he gets excellent results, and under the new scale he is only regarded as having become "qualified" by virtue of the fact that he has served for 20 years. He has trained large numbers of excellent scholars, and, after that period of teaching, he is only allowed an increment for every three years of his duties after the 20 years.

With regard to the teacher who is coming into the profession at present, not only does fre get, as I understand it, an increment for every year, but other ancillary service rendered by him which is regarded as having been of use to him as a teacher, is accounted to his benefit in that direction; and he is granted a year's increment in respact of the period of any other work which he may have done, and which may be considered to be of use to him in his teaching. A teacher who has been teaching for 20 years, however, is only considered to be entitled to an increment once every three years. In my view, that is an anomalous position which ought to be remedied, and though it may only apply to a small section of the teaching community, I hope my hon. Friend will give the matter his consideration and remedy it.

Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)

I do not share the satisfaction which the Parliamentary Secretary seemed to derive from this Supplementary Estimate, especially in regard to that under C—the big grant of £4,000,000. I agree with the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Kenneth Lindsay) that local authorities all over the country have, to a very large extent, a feeling of frustration because they do not appear to be receiving from the Ministry that sympathy and help which they really need today. They are faced with an extremely difficult task in preparing buildings which are needed in connection with the raising of the school-leaving age. I am speaking as a member of a local authority, and we have not received the help which we expected from the Minister. I am very glad to see the new Minister of Education present. Many of us were not satisfied with the Ministry from which he has just come. Now, when we appeal to the Minister for assistance in connection with the buildings which come within this Estimate, he will be able to give us not only his sympathy as Minister of Education, but he will also be able to appreciate the practical point of view in regard to the erection of these buildings.

The number of huts which have been delivered is a very small fraction of the number we expected to receive. I ask the Minister to look into this question. The procedure was that the Ministry of Works should erect the shells, leaving the local authorities to equip them. The result has been that we have had two controls. The officials of the Ministry of Works naturally had to satisfy themselves from their standpoint; we had not one inspection but two, and much time was wasted. I know from experience that had the erection of these huts been undertaken in a more practical way, a great deal more would have been accomplished. The Parliamentry Secretary said that the Supplementary Estimate was due to the particularly satisfactory performance of the local education authorities in hastening on with their work. He took a. good deal of credit for that, and although I agree that the Fstimate may cover a great deal of money in regard to the buildings and the erection of canteens—which I agree are essential—I am not at all sure how much of it represents the actual buildings which will be necessary before we shall be in a position to implement the provisions of the Act, at the end of the summer term. In my own county of Surrey we have not been able to obtain the temporary buildings, and we have not had the huts provided for us. It will make it very difficult for my education authority. I hope that the Minister will give this aspect of the matter grave consideration, and see to it that we have some additional help.

11.0 p.m.

I should also like to raise the question of delays. We had to replace five schools. We submitted our plans to the Ministry last August. The complete plans were submitted at the beginning of November; it is now February, and we are still waiting the approval of the final plans. There is no difficulty in regard to the building. These are free-place buildings which have been destroyed and there is no question of the population having moved away, and no reason why the Minister should not have given the local authorities instructions to proceed with the schools, which are greatly needed, as we have nowhere to send the children. It is particularly difficult with regard to the primary schools, because the children are small, and cannot be sent to other districts or expected to travel far. To provide secondary education we have done our best to adapt what classrooms we have, but it is impossible to carry on the work in domestic science and practical subjects because there are no rooms available. I would like the Minister to indicate 'how much of this £4,000,000 has been spent on the provision of classrooms for practical subjects in the new secondary schools.

The people in the country today are asking when their children are to get the new secondary education—I am constantly being asked that. Many are dissatisfied because they have been promised that they would have full secondary education for their children without any delay. The grammar schools are still going on in the existing buildings and some of the selected children are getting the benefit. Other people think that their children should share this, and I hope that the Minister will give some indication as to the amount of money which has been allocated for these new buildings, particularly in regard to the raising of the school leaving age.

I am not sure whether the amount in this Vote covers the training of teachers. I hope that the Minister will reply to the question of the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities, not merely in regard to the training of teachers in the emergency training colleges, but also as to whether, at this stage, he may be able to do something to provide more places in the universities next year so that we may once more have university graduate teachers. It is essential that we should have these teachers to follow the teachers now being trained to carry out this programme, for which we are being asked to spend £4,000,000, in order that the full implementation of the secondary school course may be carried out.

Mr. King (Penryn and Falmouth)

May I offer my congratulations to the Parliamentary Secretary on what he has said, and on what he has done? In recent months, he has probably borne a heavier burden than most Parliamentary Secretaries have had to bear. I think that the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) said that twice in the last 12 months the machinery of administrative education has broken down. I do not think that the Parliamentary Secretary will accept that view. He will probably say that that is an exaggeration, but there can be no doubt that the strain has been very heavy. When the hon. Gentleman said that members of his staff had worked every Sunday since the beginning of this year, I think that some Members said "Hear, hear." I did not feel like saying "Hear, hear" I do not think that that is right, or that education can thrive under those conditions. I urge the new Minister of Education or his Parliamentary Secretary to look into the internal administration of the Ministry. Without that, further progress is going to be difficult. What I have said is not intended as a criticism of civil servants; I know that they are a devoted body of men. But more is being asked of them than should be asked.

Mrs. Leah Manning (Epping)

With regard to Subhead E, I was sorry that the Parliamentary Secretary did not raise a point in which I am very interested, and about which I asked a Question the other day. I hope that something will be said which will give satisfaction to a large body of students in London and in the extra-metropolitan areas, in respect of this Supplementary Estimate. They are the young people who, owing to the difficulty of finding hostel and lodging accommodation near the university, have to live at home, sometimes very long distances from the university. They are deprived of many advantages and in fact they are not really at the university. What they are getting is little more than an extension of school life, accompanied by very long journeys, both morning and night. They are missing what is of great importance to university life, that close contact with a body of young students of their own age who have the same desires in life.

The Parliamentary Secretary, who has had the advantage of being at Cambridge and knows something about the value of university life, will, I feel sure, sympathise with these young people. At the moment, they are getting no chance at all of joining in what is the most important side of university life. But, added to that, they have to forgo the maintenance grant which they would receive were they living in a hostel or lodgings. If hostel and lodging accommodation were available to them, they would certainly not live at home. It may be that many of their parents are working-class people to whom this burden of maintaining their sons and daughters for an extra three years of university life is very great, and one with which they would not be encumbered if today there was available that hostel and lodging accommodation which once existed.

I feel that these young people suffer a double deprivation. They suffer the deprivation of not being in close touch with the student body which would give them the full advantage of university life. They also suffer from not being able to take part in the unions, the social clubs, and so on, which they would be able to enjoy if they lived nearer the university. In addition, the hard endeavour of their parents to keep them at the university is exploited, because they do not receive this maintenance grant. I had hoped to see in this £4 million Supplementary Estimate that something was going to be done for the young people. Many of them have very heavy fares to pay; they live long distances from the university buildings. I sincerely hope that, within this Supplementary Estimate, something will be done to help those who, because of circumstances, cannot live near the university and, therefore. have to travel long distances and pay heavy fares, but are, at the same time, deprived of maintenance allowances.

Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)

I do not wish to let this occasion pass without making a short intervention. Unfortunately, an engagement has prevented me from hearing the full Debate, and therefore, I do not think I am really entitled to take part in it, but I would like to say that I consider the priority that education is retaining in the present economic blizzard is extremely satisfactory. We are in face of undoubted difficulties of great magnitude in the economic sphere, and I always envisaged, in framing the Education Act, that we should come into this sort of crisis. I was not blind, and I foresaw it, if I may say so. Therefore, I think the fact that extra moneys are being asked for is not in itself a bad thing. Nor do I think that the fact that the moneys are required for certain purposes, such as the raising of the school-leaving age, is a bad thing either. I shall not enter into that subject tonight. because I do not think this is the occasion to do so, and I have expressed my view on that subject outside the House, and it has been reported. But I think it is satisfactory that hitherto, unlike the Fisher Act, we have managed to preserve a priority—and a first priority—which is a very satisfactory thing to all educationists who are devoted to this subject and art determined that, on this occasion, we are not going to allow the same thing to happen as happened after the 1914–18 war. After the 1914–18 war, the crisis occurred over continuation, and in my view, the Minister of that time, although the architect, did not press his point enough.

I would say to the new Minister, and to the Parliamentary Secretary, who, I agree with another hon. Member, has had a heavy burden, that they should press ahead and retain this priority in other fields, particularly in the technical, industrial field, where I think they will have the sympathy of industry, and the sympathy of those who are grappling with the economic crisis. I would only say, in passing, that the other field in which we must retain our priority is in trying to deal with the very large classes which exist up and down the country, and which impose an intolerable strain upon teachers at the present time.

I do not want to go into details on this occasion, but I should like to give due warning to the Minister that, in due course, I may have some ideas to put before him on a suitable occasion when I shall be in Order, for I do not think I would be in Order tonight in touching on all the topics with which I want to deal. I would like also to say that—I think I am in Order in this—I do not sympathise with much of the correspondence which has taken place recently about the type of Minister of Education that we ought to have. I agree with the letter from Dr. Albert Mansbridge in "The Times" today that one should get a practical bloke who is interested in the subject and devoted to it, and encourage him to do his best. That, I think, we have got, and I think we are lucky to get him. Of course, if the Prime Minister had had the range of talent that we have on this side of the Committee, it would have been quite an easy task for him. But I consider that the educational qualifications of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education, his excellent character, his knowledge of the subject, and his knowledge of the administration of the subject, are very valuable at the present time, and certainly I wish him well in his very onerous task, and I hope I may be able to retain with him the same relationships as I retained with his predecessor, whose passing we all regret.

I conclude by saying a word about U.N.E.S.C.O. I think that the grant for U.N.E.S.C.O., as far as I understand it, is to make part of a revolving fund. It has, therefore, a very peculiar financial significance which I will not go into tonight, but it is not as expensive as it looks. I think that this development, at a moment when the prestige of Britain needs maintaining, is one which owes a great deal of its inspiration to this country. It owes its inspiration to an act of faith performed in the war. Therefore, I hope that we shall by degrees see practical results from this act of faith, and if any of us can contribute in any way to the success of this organisation, I want to say that we would like to do so, and that I am very glad to see that the Government are taking their part in U.N.E.S.C.O.

There are a great many other subjects cm which I could touch. My hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. S. Marshall) referred to the difficulties of local authorities. Those are obvious. There are very great difficulties at the present time, and I hope, as I said to the Minister in a message which I sent to him when he was appointed, that he will take his good works with him, because it is the good works we want. His practical knowledge of huts I hope will be extended to an even more practical knowledge of school buildings, and I hope he will bear in mind what the London County Council has said in their report—that some of the modern buildings are a great deal too expensive. I hope he will look into the whole question of building regulations in the light of modern circumstances.

We on this side of the Committee, and I think many hon. Members opposite as well, are devoted to the cause of the rural schools. We do not wish to retain small schools which are unsuitable, but we trust that the individual school associated with the life of its own village will be retained That is oui desire, and I hope the matter will be decided on educational grounds and social grounds. When I say social grounds, I mean that education has its part to play in society, and the place of the school in its locality must be retained, if Britain is to remain a healthy place. I hope that on some future occasion I may raise some more severe problems.

Mr. Hardman

We on this side of the Committee always welcome the friendly help we get from my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), and we are extremely grateful to him for his kindly and sympathetic remarks on the passing of our late and gallant Minister. May I presume, with him, to say how much I welcome my new Minister? I feel sure that the combination of practical experience with university education ought, on the whole, to be a very good one.

I can take up only a few of the many interesting points raised tonight. May I first refer to the main point raised by the hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) in regard to the possible payments of block grants to universities, colleges, and higher educational institutions? It is not quite so easy as it sounds, but I want to assure my hon. Friend that this matter is being considered at the present time. That is one of the major changes in the machinery for the payment of these grants which we hope may be effected for the term that begins before Easter. But I stress the words "may be effected" because I would remind my hon. Friend that, as regards these institutions taking on these onerous duties, they are already under-staffed, and are not at all enthusiastic about taking on a job which may mean as long a period as the so-called delay in the Department at the present time. Then with regard to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities and the hon. Member for Burslem (Mr. Edward Davies) about the £100,000 for U.N.E.S.C.O., I would repeat what has been said much better by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden that this is a payment to enable U.N.E.S.C.O., which was set up at the November Conference, to start to function in its headquarters in Paris. It is a payment on account, and contributions from other nations will come in during the next few weeks and the next few months. On the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities about the lack of a national commission, I can answer that in two ways. First, the delegation itself has been kept in being, and has met in Belgrave Square to carry on the work where we left off in Paris Secondly, the national commission is being set up at the present time. My hon. Friend will no doubt acknowledge that there are many interests to be considered, and we do want as full representation and co-operation as possible from the interests involved.

Then the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) raised the question of the supply of teachers. This question is being discussed at the meeting of the interim committee which is concerned with the recruitment, supply, and training of teachers. In regard to the point about the provision of county colleges, I would remind him that the provision of buildings must await an Order under the Act. All this is involved with the planning which the local authorities will be doing under the general umbrella of further education. I'here were, I am afraid, many points which my hon. Friend mentioned which really concern development planning, and development plans are being considered at the present time. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Corlett) I would like to say that he was really concerned with a matter of general Government policy, and that I cannot possibly refer to that in this Debate except to acknowledge that I personally am aware, and my right hon. Friend the Minister is very well aware, of the difficulties of implementing to the full the Act of 1944 without giving considerable help to local authorities to get on with buildings and equipment.

The provision of buildings for the raising of the school leaving age was mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland). It it true that at the present time only a small number of buildings are complete, but we are thinking in terms of completing buildings when the full effect of the raising of the school leaving age is felt in the middle of next year, and with my right hon Friend the new Minister straight from his experience in the other Ministry, it is to be expected that a full drive will take place in that direction.

The last point I would mention is that raised by the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning). This surely is a matter which has received the sympathy of every hon. Member of this House. Here are students living at home, or, I think the hon. Lady would agree with me, often living with friends, and naturally they have to face important costs in the way of maintenance and travelling expenses. I want to assure the hon. Lady that this point is being looked into, and my right hon. Friend the Minister and myself realise its urgency.

We have been asked tonight for the provision quickly of many new and substantial buildings. We have been accused of talking optimistically about the new secondary education which is to be provided. We have been urged, particularly by the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam, to get on with the job. I only want to remind him that while we listened to his eloquence he must remember that many precious years were wasted between the wars, when he and his hon. Friends on the other side of the Committee were in power and could have done so much to make the implementation of this 1944 Act very much easier.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

Apart from the hon. Gentleman's eloquence, could he answer the question as to whether any of this £4 million is going towards the raising of the school leaving age? That was the point I put to him.

Mr. Hardman

I cannot split this item and give the hon. Member a round figure under that particular heading, but I can assure him that some of the money certainly is being spent for the raising of the school age on 1st April.

Mr. Janner

Could I have an answer to the point about the qualified teachers having served 20 years?

Mr. Hardman

That is a matter which after all concerns the original Estimate, and is to be found in this Estimate as well. It has been discussed with all the representative teachers' bodies and, I would like to remind my hon. Friend, there is something to be said for the teacher who has gone through a course of training and who has passed an examination. There are certain standards to maintain, and the great majority of teachers have taken courses in training colleges and universities, and are very jealous of the position which they have quite rightly gained by the work they have done.

Resolved: That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £8,610,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1947, for the salaries and expenses of the Ministry of Education, and of the various establishments connected therewith, including sundry grants in aid, grants in connection with physical training and recreation, and grants to approved associations for youth welfare.

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