HC Deb 17 December 1948 vol 459 cc1562-79

1.24 p.m.

Mr. H. D. Hughes (Wolverhampton, West)

The last two weeks have seen the publication of two reports on university policy which are of great importance—the University Grants Committee's Report on University Development and the Report of the Ministry of Education Working Party on University Awards. The issue I want to confine myself to is that of the university scholarship policy for which the Ministry of Education is responsible.

The Ministry's working party was not, and could not be, competent to deal with the general problem of the size of universities and the total number of students, but only with the formulation of its scholarship policy on the basis of existing plans. Nevertheless, the University Grants Committee's Report has some important comments to make on scholarship policy. The figures it produces show that, in the current year, some 68 per cent. of university students are now receiving financial assistance compared with only 41 per cent. of university students in the period prior to the war. But this 68 per cent. includes at least 30,000 awards under the further education and training scheme which applies only to those who entered prior to October, 1947, most of whom will have been absorbed in universities by the session 1949–50.

There is, therefore, some urgency in bringing into operation some permanent scheme which will replace the war-time further education and training scheme. The University Grants Committee, which, of course, is representative almost entirely of senior figures in university life, points out that, in the post-war world, subsidies are needed both for scholars in the accepted sense and also for those who enter universities as commoners, and it poses the very important question whether it will be possible to stop short, subject to a means test, of subsidising all students. It also deals with the problem of selection, and says: A pecuniary test of fitness (for university entry) is obviously unsatisfactory, and is offensive to the social conscience of our time. Some considerable advance has been made in the past 25 years towards equal educational opportunity in university entrance and in this connection the Labour Party has a very proud record to show. State scholarships were first introduced in this country in 1920, but two years later they were scrapped, either by the Coalition Government or the Conservative Government which followed it, as a false measure of economy after the first world war.

Mr. Cove (Aberavon)


Mr. Hughes

Yes, the Geddes axe. After the war, the first minority Labour Government restored 200 State scholarships a year, and, in 1930, the second minority Labour Government raised the number from 200 to 300. In 1936, there was another slight increase, and the next big advance, apart from the special wartime Scheme, came in 1946 and 1947, when the late Ellen Wilkinson introduced important changes in university scholarship policy which led to the present position. The State today spends something over £11 million on scholarships and maintenance allowances, compared with less than £250,000 in 1938. In spite of these figures we are still a considerable way from equality of opportunity among university entrants, and I should like to quote from the Barlow Report on Scientific Manpower in 1946, which stated: Only about 1 in 5 of the boys and girls who have intelligence equal to that of the best half of the University students, actually reach the universities …. There is evidence that the great majority of the intelligent persons who do not reach the universities are ex-pupils of the elementary schools. If university education were open to all on the basis of measured intelligence alone, about 80 per cent. would be expected to come from those children who started their education in the public elementary school and only 20 per cent. from those whose education had been in independent schools. In fact, at the present time only about 40 per cent. of university entrants are ex-pupils of elementary schools, whereas 60 per cent. are from independent schools. Thus among university entrants, elementary school pupils are only half those to be expected, and those from independent schools about three times as many as expected.' It is clear, as the Report remarks, 'that a high proportion of the reserve of potentially able students comes from families that are unable to afford the cost of higher education.' That was the position in 1946. Faced with this position, and with the end of the further education and training scheme, the Ministry's working party now proposes, on the basis of an estimated intake of 18,000 students a year for the next four years, that the Ministry should increase the annual number of State scholarships for students of high academic promise from 800 as at present to 2,000, and that they should also encourage the universities to increase their awards to the figure of another 2,000, which will be supplemented automatically by the State. It also proposes that the local education authorities should provide awards for "all eligible candidates" selected by the universities with a minimum educational standard in the new examination which is about to be discussed in the House.

The working party recommend also an extension of the awards which are now being provided by the Ministry for technical students and mature students who have missed the ordinary entry to the university on leaving school, and for National Service men, and also make provision for the special requirements of students of technology, in art colleges, agricultural colleges and so on. Of the 18,000 entry each year, they estimate that some 2,000 students will come from overseas, and this leaves a balance of 5,000 students who, in the words of the working party either do not need or do not qualify for awards from public funds. If those proposals are fully implemented, it means that some 61 per cent. of all the entrants to the universities, or 69 per cent. of all the entrants to the universities from this country, will be receiving substantial assistance from public funds. This 61 per cent. or 69 per cent. is not a striking increase on the position today. With the further education and training scheme, there is 68 per cent. today and the working party proposals stabilise that position.

I agree with the Association of University Teachers, the National Union of Students, the Trades Union Congress and other bodies who have considered this question that every student admitted to a university should, where necessary, be awarded a maintenance grant from public funds. As long as we are short of university places, I can see no justifiable qualification to the principle, "Fit for admission, fit for aid." If a student admitted to a university while places are in short supply is not fit for aid from public funds there is something wrong with the system of admission. But the report of the working party is a step in the direction of equality of opportunity and I wish to congratulate them upon it. It has been widely welcomed by sections of the Press, including the "Manchester Guardian and "The Economist," by the National Union of Teachers, the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutes, the National Union of Students, the Association of University Teachers and the Trades Union Congress. But a section of the more conservative Press and one member of the working party have expressed considerable reservations and an attempt is being made in this quarter to encourage the Minister of Education to whittle down the recommendations. "The Times" comment on the scheme was that this is "too ambitious." "The Times Educational Supplement" says: There might well be an outcry if it was discovered in a particular year that the universities had refused to recommend candidates to the number of scholarships offered. But for universities to admit dunces in the name of democracy is a sure way of spoiling what they have to give.

Mr. Cove

"The Times Educational Supplement" has become reactionary.

Mr. Hughes

Certainly, on this issue any way. Similar reservations were expressed by "The Yorkshire Post" and "The Birmingham Post" but this criticism completely misses the point. The recommendations of the working party do not affect the number of university places as a whole or the qualifications of those to be admitted to the universities. The working party propose that the selection of students should be left in the hands of the universities and their proposals only affect the proportion of students who will be eligible for financial assistance from public funds if they require it. The issue is not the admission of dunces in the name of democracy, but how many available university places are to be reserved for dunces in the name of social and financial privilege. The University Grants Committee draws attention to this point when it refers to one type of student whom the possession of means once enabled to secure admittance, that is, the riotously-living pass-man, sometimes of athletic prowess on which the University as an agency of culture made small dent. Those of us who know the older universities of this country realise that this phenomenon has not entirely passed away.

The important question is, will this figure of 61 per cent. or 69 per cent. of publicly-aided students be reached in a reasonable period of time. That will only be so if there is full co-operation in working the recommendations by the Ministry, the universities and local education authorities. The universities are to be given control over admissions and in return, I think we are entitled to expect that they will give full co-operation to the scheme.

Then we come to the local education authorities. One of the great difficulties in the past has been the unequal assistance given by different local education authorities to students coming within their purview. It is quite intolerable that an intelligent boy who happens to come from an area with a backward local education authority should be hampered compared with an equally intelligent boy from a more progressive area of the country. The working party recommend the local education authorities to cater for all eligible students and propose that the Ministry should publish statistics for each local education authority area to stimulate competition in a progressive direction. I hope this will have the required result, but if it does not, that the Minister will take active steps to ginger up the backward authorities.

There is considerable urgency about this issue and I hope the Minister will press on with implementing the report as rapidly as possible. The working party point out that their proposals should be fully in force by 1951, but they also stress the issue of urgency. It is quite clear that some of these recommendations require considerable administrative preparation and reorganisation.

I wish to convey to the Minister a suggestion that he should get on with implementing the report in stages. In 1949–1950 I should like to see the Ministry operating the new proposed basis of assessing the value of awards both for new scholars and for the present holders. The new scale of parental contribution should apply, with the new proposals for vocational allowances and also allowances for home keep. Recent discussions with headmasters, and correspondence in the "Manchester Guardian," have convinced me that students and parents at present are having considerable difficulty in maintaining themselves on the present scales. I hope the Minister will bring in the new scales in the next university year and encourage local education authorities to do the same.

In 1950–51, the end of the further education training scheme will mean a sharp drop in the number of students admitted to the university with public financial assistance unless there is a considerable increase in that year in the number of State and local education authority awards. I hope that as the Minister cannot get the new scheme fully working by 1950, he will introduce an interim scheme to prevent a drop in the proportion of assisted students entering in 1950. It would be grossly unfair to conscripts called up after October, 1947, if there was a hiatus between the further education and training scheme which ended in that month and the proposed arrangements in the working party's report which cater for National Service men. The National Service men called up after October, 1947, should be coming out of the Forces during the 1949–50 academic year, and some arrangement should be made for them to get assistance in the academic year, 1950–51.

In case the Treasury may have some doubts about our ability to meet the cost of the scheme, may I point out that it involves no dollars and no capital expenditure and is, in fact, a replacement of money which has been found in the last few years during the further education and training scheme. As the working party's report indicates: Without it there will be a serious shortage of trained graduates in the various professions. May I conclude on a personal note? I am one of those many prewar scholars the educational value of whose schooling was diminished by the need for intensive concentration on scholarship requirements, and who on reaching the university, dependent solely on public financial assistance, had to deny themselves the delight and value of full participation in all but the most austere amenities of college life. In future it should be the aim of our scholarship policy to provide real equality of opportunity in our educational system. As a nation, faced with the great tasks ahead of us, we cannot afford any longer to warp or frustrate the latent abilities of any of our children.

1.40 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay (Combined English Universities)

Perhaps I should commence by declaring my interest in this matter. I also went to a university solely by means of scholarship and public funds. That was a long time ago, and I come in a different category possibly from that of the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. D. H. Hughes). I was forced to scrape together the extras to make up a reasonable standard of living after the first world war.

I should also like to enter my usual protest against Debates in this House. We have had one this morning on the Overseas Food Corporation in which a number of hon. Members could not speak, and this afternoon typical of a Friday, we are going to have two Debates on education which, in fact, bear very closely on each other, and we have got very limited time. It is a complete disgrace to this House, and if it were not for a few hon. Members like the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton who from time to time raise this question, we should have no Debates on this subject at all. I should also like to say that I am not going to debate with the hon. Member, although I should like very much to do so, because he has raised a number of questions which, to my mind, are controversial and which really ought to have been debated in this House a long time ago.

I mention one as an example. I do not necessarily accept the basis of the Barlow Report. It is based on a private inquiry at Manchester University, of rather doubtful authenticity. It may be true and it may not be. The Barlow Report accepted it straightaway in the body of their document. In general terms I very much welcome this report. Not only do I welcome it, but I welcome the sense of urgency which has produced it, because, as the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton said, there must be some continuity between the break-up of the further education scheme and this new situation with which we are faced.

It is quite impossible for large numbers of boys and girls—and I hope it will not be an afterthought to put women on these inquiries, as was the case with this inquiry—to go to a university without very considerable assistance. The important part of this report—indeed, the important part of the new situation—is that it is not a question, as it was in my day, of getting £40, £60, £80 or even £100 by winning a scholarship. It is necessary to have something very much nearer £200. Therefore, this large addition not only in the case of the further education scheme, but to the total funds for maintenance as well as for fees, is a very important point.

I asked a Question yesterday about the capital expenditure on universities, and if I raise some of the implications of this report, I hope the Minister will not assume that I am in any sense opposed to the report. I accept the report with one or two minor amendments. But this is the framework in which we live. First of all, the capital expenditure on universities is going very slowly indeed. One has only to read the letters in the "Manchester Guardian" or to go round universities, including the eight which I represent, to see the problem which is facing them at the present moment. It is sheer improvisation in many cases to keep the universities going, and in some cases I would use the word "dislocation." Therefore, it is no easy task to swell the university population further than the existing number, unless there is very much increased capital expenditure, especially as the increase in the universities which I represent, in the science field is 100 per cent., which means laboratories and equipment. In the arts it is 50 per cent.—

Mr. Cove

There is provision for increased capital expenditure.

Mr. Lindsay

I wish the hon. Gentleman would not interrupt unless he wants to say something.

Mr. Cove

I do want to say something. I say there is provision for increased capital expenditure—£40 million, and £10 million on sites.

Mr. Lindsay

I wish the hon. Gentleman would restrain his impatience for a moment. The expenditure which was promised was £40 million and £10 million on sites. It has now been whittled down to £20 million, and of that £20 million little more than £5 million has been sanctioned. I am talking about actual figures.

Again in the matter of selection of scholars, it is one thing to select scholars; that has been done for many years, and there is a great deal of experience in it. It is not quite the same thing to select 11,000 out of 16,000, or 69 per cent., of the students to go to universities. That is a new technique. I have taken the smaller figure of 11,000; 2,000 come from overseas, and although some of them are assisted by the British Council and by Government funds, I am leaving them out for the moment. In other words, we are going to subsidise from the State 70 per cent. of the students who go to the university. I do not object to that. What I am worried about is the process by which it is done.

Let me give two examples. The open scholarships at present are going to be made up to whatever is the necessary figure and that is admirable. It is suggested in this report that we promote a larger number of open scholarships, especially those open to provincial universities. How is that to be done? I am not clear about that. At present there are roughly 1,400 or 1,500. It is suggested that the figure should go up to 2,000. How is it intended to promote those further open scholarships? Does the money come from benefactors or from funds, which would otherwise come through the University Grants Committee? There is another group of State scholars. I do not know that there is any insuperable difficulty in doubling the number of State scholars, but the machinery for doing that is a little complicated, and I think there is a very real difficulty which the Registrar for Cambridge University raised about the clearing house. I think we can find a way through it, but there is a difficulty.

The next point concerns the 7,000 who are coming from the local educational authorities. I have been round to the universities lately, and I have seen very fine material, not necessarily with high previous scholastic attainments but with quite top ability, at Birmingham and Durham. However, I do not close my eyes to the fact that there is a percentage of local authority scholars who have had to be weeded out in the first year. I can quote the exact universities and the exact places where this has happened. It is just a question, when we are spending public money, of whether we should not go a little carefully at that point.

There is no experience from any other country to guide us. This does not happen in America at all. What happens in America is that the university fees are very small, but the overwhelming number of students pay their way or partially pay their way, and if it is suggested to the universities in America that there should be some subsidy during the vacations it would be roundly opposed, because it goes against the whole of the American way of life. Therefore, do not let us think America is a guide. On this point it is no guide at all. There is no country in Europe which has dared to go as far as we have gone. We are approaching the stage when we shall be subsidising or giving assistance through the State to the whole of the university student population. It is now 70 per cent., and the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton has made a case for making that figure even larger.

The point is that as long as a larger number of people want to go to the universities than there are places, the examination must necessarily be competitive. That seems to me obvious. It looks like being so for many years to come. Therefore, it is a mistake to say that there should be a qualifying examination. What is a qualifying examination? Are we to say that those who get the school certificate should automatically go to the universities? If so, my friends who have examined the problem tell me that there is an increase of 100 per cent., and that the standard has been lowered. At any rate, there is a 100 per cent. increase in higher certificates, which is very considerable. The competitive examination must, by its very nature, also be a qualifying examination. I remember this problem 23 years ago, when I tried to examine it at a lower stage in writing a book on the educational ladder. How was it that there were just about 5,000 scholarships in the London area and just that number of pupils happened to qualify for scholarships. In fact, it was a very rough guess, and those who got the scholarships were those who qualified by a very highly competitive examination. We shall have to face the fact, therefore, that there will be a competitive examination which will also be qualifying.

We say "benefit from a university education." What do we mean by "benefit"? Do we mean personally benefit, or do we mean turn into useful citizens? That is a very important point. It may be both for that matter. In saying "benefit from secondary education," there are certain standards which could be put to the country. After a while the scholarship system became 100 per cent., and now we have secondary education for all, or at any rate we are trying to reach that position. We have never expected that we shall have university education for all—that everybody will go to a university. There is bound to be this difficult problem of selection. I want to see that nobody is barred by poverty alone, who otherwise has the qualities and the capacities for a university education.

I welcome this report. I still have an open mind on one or two questions like that of the means test. I am not sure that I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; I think there is great worry about this means test, especially in the middle income ranges from £1,000 to £2,000 a year. I am not sure it does not bear hardly on certain professional classes.

Mr. H. D. Hughes

May I interrupt to make my position clear? I am not defending a means test. I welcome the more liberal proposals in the scale, particularly in going up to £2,000, and when we can afford it, I shall be delighted to see the scale go even higher.

Mr. Lindsay

I was trying to say the same thing. I welcome the increase to £2,000 and I am not sure it should not go to £2,500. In that range there is great hardship on parents with large families. The difficulty is that we may be barring children from going to universities and may be pressing very hardly on those families unless this whole means test is re-examined from the beginning.

The universities have a very wide public duty to perform; they are receiving well over £20 million a year by different methods from different Departments. I hope that, before long, we can have a full-scale examination of the whole university problem in this House, because it is now a question of public policy.

1.53 p.m.

Squadron Leader Kinghorn (Great Yarmouth)

I know that other hon. Members wish to speak in this Debate and I shall limit my speech accordingly. I am afraid that my remarks, as a consequence, may be very spasmodic. I agree with the latter part of the speech made by the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay), and we on this side of the House are, of course, very much in agreement with the general tenor of the remarks made by the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. H. D. Hughes).

I also have an interest in this question of university awards because I imagine that at this moment there are some people studying at universities whose award was given on some of the work I did as an examiner. It is true that the three Labour Governments have probably done more of this kind of work than any other kind of Government. I happen to have here the figures for those who passed the higher school certificate in 1937–8 and those who passed it in the years 1946–7. The pupils are taken from the grant-aided schools. In the years before the war, in 1937–8, 7,860 pupils passed the higher school certificate, but by 1946–7 there were 18,701.

That is great progress. The Report we have here is also a sign that the Government are looking into this matter and that we are trying to use the talent which we do waste in this country and which we cannot afford to waste any longer. This talent must be used at least for ourselves, if not from a very high or philsophical motive. We have been discussing this morning the question of Overseas Food Corporations. We need hundreds of qualified people for a scheme like that alone and in the years to come we shall need hundreds more, technological experts, men who have passed through the universities, especially those in the scientific faculties, and we cannot do without them. This report is going some way to meet the problem but I do not think it goes far enough.

We have first to decide that one cannot buy education in this country any longer. That system should go; it should have gone many years ago. We have to look at this as a public duty to see that we give people the opportunity they need, not so much for themselves as to see that we save the world from starvation in the matter of food alone and so we can send experts to Africa, Queensland and other places. We must see there is some award by which these people can have expert university education. That brings in the larger issues. Is it not time we in this country decided to abolish this bar between the residential universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the rest? In Germany, and in Switzerland where I studied myself, there was no such bar. One went to Geneva, one went to Berne, I went to Basle, my friends went perhaps to Bonn and for another six months to Munchen. There was no question of that "bar sinister."

What existed in this country? If a man applied for the headmastership of one of the publicly-owned secondary schools, the first thing which gave him the idea that he was well in the running for it was the fact that he had an Oxford or Cambridge degree and he was probably accepted for interview out of hundreds of others with degrees from other universities. There was a bias and in my opinion we did not always get the best people for the jobs. I have seen some shockers. They got the job over others who were much better teachers but had degrees from other universities. How can we set about getting rid of that bar? In my view we should look closely into the question of reserving the two older residential universities for postgraduate work. Let us keep the other universities in the country and in Scotland and Ireland for the normal university courses. There would then be no bar at all.

This report does not face the situation. We still have in Oxford and Cambridge special personnel college, open scholarship and exhibition system. We shall have to do something about it. As an examiner I would say we can learn a lot from countries abroad. We can learn a lot from America, but I am afraid I have no time to develop that point this afternoon. We can learn a great deal much nearer home; we can learn a great deal from Germany, where a very high percentage of the people passed through the universities much more cheaply than in this country. The same applies to Switzerland, too.

Mr. K. Lindsay

Would the hon. and gallant Member say where he gets that information? It is completely contrary to the report on German Universities of the Committee of which Lord Lindsay was a member.

Squadron-Leader Kinghorn

That may be. I am talking from my personal experience. In my opinion we can learn from these other countries. In France and Germany, for instance, they make a lot more use of oral work than we do. I believe we could get a much better system if we learned from this kind of thing and if we gave more time to the oral side, especially in languages. After all, languages are made to be spoken, yet the oral side of a languages examination is very small indeed. That would overcome some of the difficulties which we have seen and which have been mentioned today of some people who were examined and had to leave after their first year in the university.

So many people going through the secondary schools have passed the written examinations very well, have gone to university, but have not quite made the grade. We have all known that kind of pupil. The crammer is bound to have more success in the examination than the average, very fine type of pupil we get in the sixth form who is probably not a 100 per cent. academically qualified but who have made good school captains and good senior prefects and have helped to organise all the activities of a modern school. Unfortunately, they are not the qualities which are recognised in these written examinations. I realise that my remarks have been spasmodic but the time for this Debate is short.

2.0 p.m.

Mr. Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

There is one point which has been omitted. It arises from the obvious fact that the way to the university for the schoolboy of humble origins was never an easy one, and, even with the advances now being made, is still difficult. He is tested all along the line, when he is 11, 16 and 18, and when he takes the final examination. In addition, he has to suffer the whole time a financial strain, because in most cases, the awards given in the past have not been adequate to cover all his needs. There have been many cases in which people have had to take loans to help them. I do hope my right hon. Friend will get rid of the practice whereby local authorities make a loan to the student instead of making him a grant. I believe great progress has been made in that respect, but we still have some way to go.

To get the benefit of a university ėducation, many boys and girls in the past have tied themselves down to a course of four years in which they have committed themselves to enter the teaching profession as a result of getting a grant. I believe that that has led to many undesirable people entering the universities and entering the teaching profession. I hope that the recommendation in paragraph 37 of the Universities Awards Paper will be carried out as soon as possible.

Local authorities are still asked to give something like 7,000 awards. My hon. Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. H. D. Hughes) mentioned the disparities between different authorities. Personally, I should like to see all the available resources lumped together in one pool and allocated either by the State or some examining board among all the applicants for university places. I am not at all in favour of having this wide disparity between one authority and another. I think we must see that any award given must be adequate to cover all the needs of the student, and not merely his academic needs. He should not be debarred from enjoying the full fruits of a university education because he cannot compete on financial grounds. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give us some encouraging information today which will show that equality of opportunity for all to receive a university education is becoming more and more of a reality.

2.3 p.m.

The Minister of Education (Mr. Tomlinson)

Let me first thank the hon. Members who have raised this question for the valuable reactions they have shown to the publication of this report, which has not yet been accepted but which was sent out in order that we could get the reactions of people definitely interested in it. The short Debate we are having today will give us an opportunity of looking at those sides of the problem that have been ventilated here today. Let me say straight away to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd), in regard to his two points, that I think we have gone already a long way with this report towards the accomplishment of the two things which he thought most needed to be done—the abolition of the loan from the local authority, which has been frowned upon now for quite a long time, and the earmarking, so to speak, of the student for the teaching profession before he goes to the university. The report recommends the abolition of that practice. I think it may be concluded that that is one of the things that will happen.

The working party was set up to report on university awards because of changed and changing circumstances. I think my hon. Friend went wrong, if he went wrong at all, in contrasting this report with the present situation of the further education and training grants. Rather, if one is seeking a contrast, one must contrast it with what took place before the war, for this report is seeking a way to meet the requirements of the universities in the changed circumstances. Everybody realises the fact that we cannot go back to the pre-war position, but that a much larger percentage of grant-aided students will be needed. I think that that is common ground, no matter what differences there may be as to how they have to be chosen.

The further education and training scheme which has given the student whose education was interrupted by war service his chance to complete his studies had to come to an end when war conditions disappeared. Everybody realises that, and it was the knowledge that it would leave a blank that led, not only to questions in this House, but to the setting up of the working party. At this moment, however, I should like to tell the House, because I think it is important, that we are still making several hundred awards a week under that scheme to students who were called up before 30th September, 1947, and we believe that they will run at the rate of some 400 a week for some time to come.

The working party has been criticised in some places for basing its calculations on an entry of 18,000 per annum. This, however, was the forecast of the University Grants Committee, and it was not the business of the working party to recommend a cutting down of the numbers, even if it had wanted to do so. It was not set up for that purpose, and it did not, as a matter of fact, do anything other than simply take the estimated number of places and set about recommending the way in which those places should be filled. There are at present 41,400 students at universities holding awards, and this gives an average of round about 11,800, so that if the two figures—the figure that is suggested in the working party's report and that which is the actual position now—happen to coincide, it is only because they were looking at the problem before them in a realistic way.

One or two questions have been asked which seem to imply that we shall be faced with a situation in which, unless this report is implemented in stages, there will be a gap between the coming to an end of the further education and training scheme and the coming into being of the new set-up, whatever that may be. I should like to point out that practically all the students who will come into this scheme, either through State scholarships or through local scholarships, will have had an opportunity to study for those scholarships, and will have qualified, before they do their National Service, so that, in the main, they will be the people who are in the new scheme; and the only students at whom it will be necessary to look particularly, and whom we would call upon the local authorities to look at particularly, in the enlarged group of scholarships that they will be giving, will be those who will, for some reason or another, between the time of leaving school and the time when they enter training courses in the Army, have missed the boat. It may be necessary to cover that period, that gap.

Therefore, it may be necessary, and I think that it will be necessary, for us to request the local education authorities to adopt some uniform basis of consideration for dealing with these men in the interim period. It seems to me that in our dealing with the local authorities we must, too, at the same time, take up the question, which has been raised again and again in the House, of what I would call the varying standards set by the local authorities and, in many instances, the varying amounts that are paid by them, and see to it that there is something like uniformity of treatment.

For the rest, I shall look at what has been said on this subject, with a view to seeing whether or not it will assist us in the acceptance of the report by the Government, which has not yet taken place. These considerations will be taken into account together with the representations which come to us from the universities, from students and from the local authorities who are all partners in the scheme, and on whose co-operation we are dependent for its successful working, as we shall be for the working of the subject which is now about to be discussed.