HC Deb 20 July 1950 vol 477 cc2567-96

7.49 p.m.

Mr. Rankin

I want to add a very sincere compliment to the Department for the encouragement and help which they have given to education in the City of Glasgow. I know that what I am saying has the backing of everyone in Glasgow who is interested in education, and they assure me that, so far as the Department of my right hon. Friend is concerned, Glasgow has received nothing but encouragement and help on every possible occasion. That does not mean that the education authority in Glasgow has not got its difficulties; it has. The difficulties that face it are created by what I might call "inter-departmental difficulties" within the corporation, and over this the Scottish Education Department has no control. I shall not venture to go beyond that, otherwise I might be getting into difficult waters.

I want to raise an issue which has not been touched on during this Debate. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), as I have already said, gave a good send off to the Debate by stating that our purpose is to improve the quality of education. I wish to pose the question, how far does "tattie howking" or "potato lifting," as they call it in England, improve the quality of education. I want to take as an example the city of Glasgow. There are something like 180,000 boys and girls on the school roll in Glasgow, and between 6,000 to 6,500 teachers on the staff of the education authority. Last year, 3,300 pupils out of this total went to lift potatoes. They were accompanied by nearly 300 teachers. I ask the Committee to note that, when boys and girls go to this work, it is laid down that there must be one teacher for every 10 pupils, whereas in the clasroom the code lays down only one teacher for every 40 pupils.

I admit that the comparison between the schoolroom and lifting potatoes is not a fair one. Nevertheless, it is rather a sad fact that there should be this difference in treatment. People lament the effect of this on the education of the 3,000 boys and girls who are leaving the schoolroom, but little regard is paid to the more important effect it has on the remaining 177,000, which is where the damage is being done. We need 300 teachers in Glasgow today, but we are withdrawing 300 teachers from our effective teaching force when these boys and girls do potato lifting. It means that classes have to be heavily increased for other teachers. Work is disorganised, and the boys and girls who remain are very seriously and deleteriously affected.

I am not condemning the immediate necessity of carrying on the job of potato lifting, but what is worrying me is the fact that I am led to believe that the Department is not visualising this as a temporary measure but is looking ahead for years and years, which means that it may become a permanent feature of the educational life of the nation. If that is the case, then we are laying it down that boys and girls of 13 and 14 are a necessity to the economic functioning of our country. If that is so, I condemn it here tonight. I want my right hon. Friend to say that I am wrong, that we are not going to go back to the days when child labour was regarded as an essential part of our economic set-up.

I want to hear that my information is wrong, and that the Department are not making plans for this to become a permanent feature in our educational life. If I hear that, I shall be able to say that this Debate has finished on the note that was struck at the commencement. that our main purpose is to improve the quality of education and nothing, not even the need for potatoes, is to hinder or to detract from a continual improvement in the quality of Scottish education.

7.57 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)

I know that the hon Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) will not expect me to follow what he has said, because I understood that we were debating education. As far as I followed him, he did not touch on education throughout his remarks, but used a lot of time in congratulating his right hon. Friend on the magnificent job he has done, and trying to stir up a little class hatred in the intervals.

Mr. Rankin rose

Sir T. Moore

I am not going to give way because my time is very short.

Mr. Rankin

The hon. and gallant Member did not hear the speech to which he is referring.

Sir T. Moore

I am referring to the speech to which I have just been listening, the speech of the hon. Member for Tradeston in which he referred, in one phrase only, to education; that was when he said that we want it to be the best in the world.

Mr. Mathers (West Lothian)

Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will give way to me in order to explain to him that my hon. Friend was interrupted during his speech by other Business.

Sir T. Moore

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman was not in the House earlier. I would point out that I have been sitting here since 2.30 p.m. and heard what the hon. Member had to say. I really do not think that much of it had to do with education.

I am glad that the Joint Under-Secretary is back in her place, because I want to tell her that I thought she made her speech with great sincerity and charm, which we are always accustomed to expect from her, although she did seem to be a little on the defensive. I am wondering what it was she was defending; whether it was Scottish education as at present administered. When I look at this Report, which like every other Member I have read, I must say that purely from the booksellers' point of view it is well and attractively produced. It is couched in graceful and flowing language, and in every way it is a credit to the editor responsible for producing it. But what I cannot understand and reconcile with what is given in this Report is what is said in this document I read every month, the "Scottish Schoolmaster." If this document is consulted for the month of April, it will be seen that according to it we have reached the nadir of education in Scotland. I ask, therefore, whether I am wrong in my reading, of the Report. Is it just purely persuasive platitudes and wishful thinking? It says: Latin is holding its own. Greek is making progress. Biology is attracting attention. while all the time this "threatened collapse" of Scottish education—that is what they call it—is glossed over or ignored.

In Scotland, we have a reputation for learning and a great tradition for scholarship. Indeed, in many counties, particularly in Ayrshire, that tradition still persists because of the line of very distin- guished directors of education which we have had in Ayrshire and, if I may say so, good education committees. During that time we had students coming from many odd and comparatively unknown countries to participate in this great heritage. It is also true to say that this scholarship did not apply alone to the universities but to the academies and senior secondary schools as well.

Why was that? My hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) suggested it was because our education was based upon the "three R's." No doubt there is a certain amount of truth in that, but at the same time there was one remarkable addition, in that our Scottish educational system relied on teaching children to think. They were taught self-reliance, honour, and honesty in dealing with others. It is those qualities which have made Scotsmen welcome wherever they go in the world.

Has any change come over our educational system today? I believe there is a change. Does Scotland still hold the same reputation for scholarship? Why is the devoted band of teachers, to whom many compliments have been paid today, no longer showing their former enthusiasm for the profession, and why is it that we cannot attract enough men and women of character, ability and imagination to the profession? I will try to give the answer.

It is partly due to the newspapers, although possibly they are not aware of the fact and do not mean it. They print the news in black headlines, which make it unnecessary for the lazy to read any further. Then I think it is partly the fault of the war, which has rendered the elderly generation too tired to inspire the younger with the joy and use of real knowledge. It is possibly the result of the welfare State, which has made real education and knowledge unwanted to short-sighted youth, in that they can earn big money without even learning or without even endeavouring to acquire knowledge. Simply carrying a parcel or sweeping a crossing, can get them bigger wages than educated men receive.

But I think the real trouble is, as has been mentioned already, that we are either driving away from, or not attracting to, the teaching profession the men and women who have a definite urge to teach, who have a definite calling to impart knowledge and who have a definite sense of fulfilment in their work. That, of course, brings me to the question of salaries. I am afraid I must charge the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary of State with having said "nonsense" when I mentioned this question before and stated that the salaries were totally inadequate. I do not think in her position of responsibility today that she would repeat that word tonight.

It may be argued that, since teaching is like preaching, a calling, and, therefore, inspired and a matter of the spirit that money should not play any part in our attitude towards it. Teachers are like preachers, they are men and women and they are likely to fall in love, to be wishful of marriage, and to be hopeful of children. On the present scale of salaries, not enjoyed but endured by the teachers, all hope of that future is taken from them. I was told in the last inquiries that I made that a secondary school male teacher, who is an honours graduate, after 25 years' service, can earn a maximum salary of £625 per year. I was also informed that a woman with the same honours qualification can earn £610 a year in the same period. If I am wrong in those figures the Secretary of State will correct me when he winds up tonight, but that was the last information I was given.

As some of the Committee know, that is a little more but not much more than we pay to an under-educated shorthand typist, and a little bit more than we pay to a completely uneducated labourer. That is tragic for all of us and for our people. There are, of course, other problems such as the lack of adequate school buildings and text books, but the main problem is the lack of trained teachers. It is quite lamentable, as is noted by the Report, that some 700 to 900 of our teachers today are non-graduates. It is stated in the "Scottish Schoolmaster" that some of the teachers have not even the education of the people they themselves are teaching.

Mr. McNeil indicated dissent.

Sir T. Moore

This book is published by the Scottish Schoolmasters Association, and presumably it has some status in the scholastic world. How can education flourish under such conditions either in Scotland or anywhere else? What can we do about it? I have got the facts as I extracted them from authorities who know far more about education in Scotland than I do, and I go, as is my custom, to the fountain head to get my facts.

Mr. McNeil

I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not base his speech upon that publication, when there are official publications available. The figures of the salary scales which he quoted are wrong, and he can get the correct information from the Vote Office.

Sir T. Moore

I am very glad to hear it, and I did suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he would correct me if I were wrong, but in the last inquiries that I made on this subject those were the figures that were given to me.

I come back to my main remarks. What can we do about them and how can we improve Scottish education and raise it to the standard we all want it to reach? Many of us hoped, and most of us thought, that when the Butler Bill became an Act of Parliament the problem of education in this country would be solved. Yet I am told—and again I quote from some of the documents which are not held in high regard by the right hon. Gentleman—that the Butler Act is practically a dead letter. We seem to have acted about education as we acted about the National Health Service and the whole policy of the welfare State, to which we have all contributed, and which we have all helped to create. We have gone too fast and too far, without laying the solid foundations upon which any permanent system should be based.

I do not know whether it is possible to go back or whether it is too late. I do not think it is. I think there are certain policies we should still adopt, and if I were asked my opinion, which is extremely unlikely, I would make these suggestions. First of all, I would say do not press the school-leaving age too rigidly, since obviously we are not ready yet to absorb the 300,000 children who come under that scheme. Instead of taking our great hotels, blocks of flats and private houses in order to house redundant and unnecessary Ministries, why can we not take them for our schools, technical colleges and junior colleges? Why can we not allocate more paper for text books instead of for the trashy novels on which so much paper is wasted at the present time?

Let us, above all, make the teaching profession one of honour and dignity and adequate reward so as to retain in the profession the men and women upon whom the whole system depends. That is essential, when industry in this welfare State has financial rewards to offer our mathematicians and scientists which the teaching profession cannot offer. Indeed, the House of Commons itself is a very hot competitor in absorbing some of the teaching profession. These are matters on which the right hon. Gentleman can make his name, as Secretary of State for Scotland, or lose it. Time is passing and although he has great responsibilities he has also great opportunities.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

I do not propose to follow the line taken by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs.

Sir T. Moore


Mr. Manuel

Yes, but the hon. and gallant Member's constituency includes mining districts which he does not like to talk about. I recognise that he has not the same grip of Scottish education as some of us who have been dealing with it. He was educated, as I understand it, in Enniskillen and Dublin and he was polished off in the Army, with some skirmishing around Ireland—

Sir T. Moore

I am none the worse for that—

Mr. Manuel

—which would not give him any great knowledge of the Scottish educational system.

Contrary to what was said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman I feel that the Report is essentially good and factual and is easily read and easy to assimilate. Accordingly, I congratulate the Secretary of State upon presenting the Report in this admirable form. We should have some regard to the background against which the Report has been drawn up. We should never forget that many of our children are suffering educationally from their war experiences. Children were among the first casualties in the war. There were infringements of school time, rationing and scarcities, evacuation from busy industrial areas and shortage of teachers. From 1945, we started against a background where many children had lacked much in the previous six years. I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Mem- ber for East Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) is not present. He seemed to forget these things when he was talking about delinquency.

There are three aspects of this subject in which I have always taken a keen interest, although they might be considered small details. I endorse entirely what was said by the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) about the importance of primary schools. It has been my main interest since I was the convener in a school in Ardrossan. I am particularly interested in the retarded child. The report calls them backward children but I do not like the word "backward," which ought not to be used because it casts a stigma which does not help the children once it becomes known that they are backward. We should regard these children as retarded in their education. I am not talking about the handicapped or spastic children but about those whose education was retarded in their early years, perhaps because they were weakly or did not put in the school attendance because of illness and so dropped behind.

Under the system that we regarded in the past as good, these retarded children never had an opportunity to come forward in their class work. Our classes of 40 to 50 were far too big in the primary schools and even in the infant classes. We are trying now to help the retarded child before eight years of age. There are many children like that who, although they are naturally intelligent, need extra coaching which they cannot be given in classes of 45, which is the average situation today. We should get these children between the ages of five and eight years, as was done in the school in which I was convener and before the child was old enough to know that he was backward. By the age of nine or 10 years they should be back in their proper age groups. If children of that age are kept back—put among younger children it gives them an abhorrence of school and they can never get any further forward.

On the question of size of classes the Report does not reveal the number of children actually affected by this overcrowding. That is a weakness in grappling with the problem. The size of classes is linked with staffing and the shortage problem generally. Nevertheless, we ought to be given a clear indication that even 45 children in a primary school class is too many if we are to get the type of education where the teacher can give a little individual attention and help. I want it to go on record that for many years the Ayrshire education authority has said that the number ought to be 30. That may be an ideal, but if we try to attain it, I am certain that we shall do so some day.

The size of classes is also linked with the question of buildings. We need more schools in order to be able to reduce the size of classes, but many of our old schools, particularly in Glasgow, have classrooms which are already too small as classrooms. I have been in a classroom where the children in the front row were right up against the blackboard. That sort of thing is ridiculous. In such circumstances no teacher can carry out her duty to the children.

While we cannot produce the schools, we are producing plans. Allowances are made for future school buildings in the plans of municipal housing development now. Such recognition that there shall be schools when we can afford to build them is all to the good, and those schools will ultimately come. Meanwhile, we ought not completely to drop the idea of redecorating and brightening up the older schools because we know that they will not be used for ever. We should be lavish in spending money on bright paint and cleaning the woodwork in old schools which are likely to serve us for 10 years or more. That would be really worth while. When inspectors visit schools they ought to inspect not only the classrooms but also the lavatories, for the hygienic conditions in those places are not all they ought to be.

I have always taken a particularly strong line about exemptions from school attendance. According to the Report the figure is much better than it has been, though there is still a tendency for it to increase. It rose from 1,284 in 1948 to 1,415 last year. In my local education work I have always felt that I could not be a party, unless there were very exceptional circumstances, to giving a child exemption from school attendance. We have often had to fight the type of mind among our political opponents which believes that a boy or girl might be exempted to do some work for someone. The only reason why a child gets exemp- tion today—it is also at a higher age—is to assist in the home. I am totally opposed to exemption even on that ground if another solution can be found.

It is all wrong that a little girl of 14 should become a household drudge and be responsible for the running of a home with all that that entails. Could we not have some liaison between the Departments of Health and Education so that such applicants can be advised to solve the problem by applying for home help from our Citizens' Advice Bureaux and other Home Help Centres. The value of her previous education is lost if a child is made to work between 14 and 15 instead of being at play and enjoying herself. Such a girl may become a drudge for life doing somebody else's work when she might otherwise be equipping herself for an academic or technical career during that final year.

The picture in our Scottish schools today is particularly bright. We have nothing about which to be sorry. When we visit schools we find the children looking well, happy and well-fed. There are no more bare feet and no more cases of malnutrition. If we continue in this way education should lead to a fuller, richer and happier life which breeds better feeling between individuals, and, if it does so, this companionable relationship between people will make Scotland a better place to live in.

8.27 p.m.

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)

I am sure that I shall be expressing the feelings of every hon. Member if I at once congratulate the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary of State on her admirable opening speech. I have only one comment to make about it. Like other of her hon. Friends, the hon. Lady found it very difficult, I believe, to resist having a good smack at the Opposition. Once or twice in the course of her speech I thought I noticed that she was restraining herself with very great difficulty. She seemed to find it very difficult indeed to prevent the old Adam from breaking through. Well, that may be a very admirable quality in a politician, and I congratulate her on behalf of every hon. Member in the Committee.

On the whole, the Debate has been conducted on a very high level. Many speeches have been on a very high moral plane and other speeches have shown very great technical knowledge of the subject, and yet those who have made those speeches have managed to get behind the technicalities to the spiritual qualities which our education must not only maintain but continually refresh. We have had some very forthright speeches. I believe that the highlight of the Debate has been the obvious sincerity with which hon. Members have stated their views without any thought whatever about political considerations. I agree with very much that has been said, but before I sit down it will no doubt be obvious that I do not agree with all the points which have been made.

It is apparent from the Debate that teachers, pupils and schools are necessary to education. It may be that two of these are variables, but one is absolutely constant. Pupils are much the same from one generation to another. Every generation is, I am certain, equally fond of their lessons; equally devoted to their teachers. They are equally amused when they can have a good practical joke, particularly when it is at the expense of their teacher, and they are ready at all times to have a good rough and tumble. When I hear people say—and here I exclude the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan)—that one school generation differs greatly from another, then I come to the conclusion that it is due to advancing years either warping the judgment or blurring the recollection of the person making that remark. I can see that my contention is accepted, and therefore I shall assume that the present generation is neither worse nor better in ability or conduct than those before it. If that is so, I propose to leave them there, at least for the present.

I wish to turn my attention to the teachers. Like other hon. Members who have spoken, my information is that, as a body, teachers today are somewhat dissatisfied. When I have asked for the causes of that dissatisfaction, I have been given a large variety of reasons. Other Members have given their reasons, too, and I will attempt to sum up the situation at least as I see it. Classes are far too large. That has been said time and again. After all, we have to recognise that the number of overcrowded classes has been very much reduced during the past year, and that is all to the good. But still there is some cause for irritation and here I will give the figures to which the hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central (Mr. Manuel) referred.

There are today 243 primary classes with more than 50 pupils in them and that we have to recognise is an increase of five over the year 1948. Then in the first three years of secondary education we have 510 classes with more than 40 pupils, and in the fourth and subsequent year 110 classes with more than 30 pupils. What interests me in looking at the figures is—when does the Secretary of State expect to reach the reduced numbers he has laid down in the Schools (Scotland) Code, 1950? That still allows a higher number than the English code, where the number is 40 for primary schools and 30 for secondary schools. After all, 40 is too high. That has been said time and again today, and I agree with the hon. Member who said that 30 would be about the proper number. The figure of 45 in the Scottish code should be reduced as soon as possible.

Besides these overcrowded schools, I am told that there is also a shortage of books, a shortage of stationery and a shortage of equipment. In addition there is the considerable uncertainty of promotion. There are the long years that stretch ahead before any teacher, no matter how brilliant he or she may be, can expect even to be considered for promotion. These things, I am told, are responsible for much of the discontent which exists.

On top of these irritations there is a new and more serious cause for discontent which has only appeared during the last year or two. As has been said, teachers have long complained that they are underpaid. Every man in receipt of a salary complains about that, but up till now they have had no yardstick by which they could measure the amount of the underpayment in a way that would carry conviction to any unprejudiced person. There were the other professions of law and medicine, and the accountants, too; and we have to recognise that members of these professions were taking risks, and that there was no certainty as to the amount they could earn; and no proof at the end of the day, when everything had been taken into consideration, that they were better off than the average teacher.

But now the teacher is looking at something different. Hon. Members have said he is looking at those in the nationalised industries, but I am talking of something more particular; he is looking at one particular section, and that is the dentists. There he sees one who has gone through a no more rigorous or lengthy course of instruction than himself and one who has no higher mental capacity and no better scholastic record. The dentist receives, with the full recognition of the State, a remuneration far higher than anything to which the teacher can ever aspire.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman wish to bring the teacher's salary up or the dentist's down?

Commander Galbraith

I can answer that question quickly. The dentist is overpaid and the teacher is underpaid. I think that is the feeling of everyone.

The discontent arising from this cause is, I am told, increased by the fact that, before the situation became as clear as it is now, there was already a feeling of a certain amount of injustice among the teachers. In order to examine whether or not that is right, I want the Committee to consider what has happened since the war. If I remember aright, it was in April, 1945, that the revised scales were introduced, and at that time they were generally accepted. Since then they have been improved under the Teachers' Salaries (Scotland) Regulations of 1948 which, I believe, are to hold good until 31st March, 1951. There were further modifications in the Regulations in 1949.

In the meantime, as the hon. Lady said, the National Joint Council has been endeavouring to get agreement on the scales which are to come into operation after 31st March, 1951. If, as I have reason to believe, negotiations have broken down, it is very much to be regretted. I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will succeed in bringing the parties together again and that his meeting with Lord Teviot today will prove fruitful. Every one of us knows, to our misfortune, that the cost of living has increased since 1948, and that it has increased still more since 1945. We know, for example, that the £ of 1945 is now worth only 16s. We also know that the remuneration of most people—at least, this is the claim of many hon. Gentlemen opposite—has kept pace with the rise in the cost of living, and that many are better off than they were before the war. That is not true of the remuneration of the teachers.

Since 1945, the number of our teachers has increased by between 3,000 and 4,000. I allude to Appendix 3, on page 70 of the Report. There we have an analysis, under various heads, of the expenditure of the local authorities. The teachers in 1945–46 received £14,374,000. If that number of teachers were to have their salaries brought up to take into account the increased cost of living, the figure for 1949–50 would have to be increased by £880,000. When we study the figures, and take into account the addition of the 3,000 to 4,000 teachers I have mentioned, it will be seen that the purchasing power of the teacher today is considerably less than it was before 1945.

These matters, and particularly the question of remuneration, may perhaps have some connection with certain disturbing trends. As I understand the position, before the war there was a Departmental ruling, departures from which were seldom, if ever, tolerated, to the effect that an honours degree, or Chapter 5 qualification, was essential if one wished to take a class beyond the second year of secondary education. My information is that it would be impossible to enforce that rule today, and that the number of honours graduates entering the profession is steadily falling. I am given to understand that at present we have something like 3,900 students in training. Only 209 of them have honours degrees. That is a number which, it is admitted, is far too few to meet our needs.

The Report draws attention to this matter. It tells us of the change in the proportion of graduate to non-graduate teachers. That fact has been mentioned already. I was indeed glad to hear from the hon. Lady that she hoped to keep up the quality and before long to return to the pre-war proportions. Reference has also been made by those taking part in the Debate— and it is also made in the Report—to the scarcity of teachers in certain special subjects. The Report says that it is a disturbing feature. If the figures which I am about to give are correct. "disturbing" is a very mild term.

My information is that in the Glasgow Training College there are today only 11 students with an honours degree in modern languages, 11 with an honours degree in science, 13 with an honours degree in mathematics, two with an honours degree in classics and three in engineering. When we recollect that that training college is the source of supply of teachers of both sexes for the non-transferred and of male teachers for the transferred schools for the whole of South-West Scotland, it is a very serious matter indeed.

With regard to women teachers for the transferred schools, I am told that at Notre Dame and Craiglochart there are only three students today with honours degrees for the whole of Scotland. The situation really is that about half of our teachers in training have no degree at all, and that only one in 20 has an honours degree. I agree with the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), and I do not claim for a moment that the graduate is always the best teacher, but I do think that, for the higher classes in any school, the graduate teacher, the man with high qualifications, is really essential.

If we do not have such teachers, the logical consequence must be a progressive deterioration in the higher levels of our Scottish teaching, because the majority of our future teachers have to come from the secondary schools, and if they are to receive a lower level of teaching they, in their turn, will pass on a progressively lower level when they begin to teach themselves. It has been a very long and laborious task to bring Scottish teaching up to its present level, and we must do everything within our power to see that there is no decline.

The Report hints that the supply of honours graduates is insufficient to meet the demands of education and industry, and that may well be, but unless the Secretary of State secures a just proportion for education, the supply will diminish further. Every one of us recognises with gratitude the great increase in the number of young people coming forward for training for the teaching profession, but in spite of that the demand for teachers continues and it must be met. In that connection, I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has set up the working party to help to solve the problem. From every point of view, conditions of service in the teaching profession must be such as will ensure in all respects an adequate supply of teachers and a contented and efficient profession which is capable of maintaining the prestige of Scottish education.

I want to make one constructive suggestion which, if it can be worked out, may possibly remove some of the discontent and create more contentment. We are building new towns today. In many of our old towns there are very great housing schemes in course of development. It seems to me that there is here a great opportunity to reconsider the size of the secondary school. After all, if we can provide more schools, there will be increased opportunities for promotion, which at present are all too rare, and I am sure that it is the experience of every one of us, and of the right hon. Gentleman as well, that we must have a reasonable flow of promotion if we are to have a vital, progressive, contented and efficient service.

Now I turn to the cost of education. I feel that the question of cost has been rather brushed aside during the Debate, but, after all, when we are considering the Estimates, one of the principal things to which we should direct our attention is the cost, and the use of the money we are handing over for education. It is very difficult to ascertain what is the cost of education, and I am going to make use, for the most part, of the figures which appear in Appendix 3 under the heading of "Expenses of the Local Authorities." The increase in recent years has been very great indeed, and as yet we have not begun to embark on many of the schemes laid down in the Act of 1945, but since then the expenditure of the local authorities has gone up by £10 million, and in the last five years it has increased by one-half, not one-third, as was stated earlier in the Debate. The total expenditure—and here I am going beyond the Appendix and referring to the Estimates as well—would appear to be somewhere in the region of £36,500,000 for 1949–50, and it will be at least £2 million more for 1950–51.

I want to take the expenditure under the various heads mentioned in the Appendix, and to give a figure of 100 to the expenditure under these heads in the year 1945–46 and see what the figure is in 1949–50. Where administrative expenses were 100, they are now 157; maintenance of schools has gone up from 100 to 181; bursaries, travelling transport, and board and lodging of pupils have gone up from 100 to 403; school meals horn 100 to 260, and other expenditure from 100 to 125. There are two remaining items, and strangely enough they are the lowest of the lot. The repayment and interest on loans has only gone up to 123, and the salaries of teachers have gone up only to 119.

I want to repeat that the total expenditure has gone up from 100 to 144, and while that has been happening the teachers' salaries have gone up from 100 to 119. It is quite impossible to criticise these various costs without a much more detailed knowledge of how they are made up, but I want to say that, where the increase in the case of any of these services is more than 50 per cent. above what it was in 1945, there should be the most stringent examination into the cause, and a much fuller explanation given to this Committee than is contained in this or in previous Reports. After all, there may be perfectly good reasons for the increasing of administration from £584,000 to £918,000, for maintenance of schools, from £3,400,000 to £6,100,000, for bursaries from £500,000 to £2 million, and for school meals from just over £1 million to just under £3 million. I do not think there is any single Member of this Committee who could adequately explain how these figures come about were he asked to do so by any of his constituents.

I come now to the question of residential schools. Under the Act, the authorities can set up boarding schools if they consider it expedient to do so. Thirteen have been set up, but the Report gives no information about them, possibly because they have not been in existence long enough. But both in regard to residential schools and to hostels, of which there are 18, I hope that in the next Report we shall be told how they are managed, who is in charge of the pupils, whether they are proving a success, and what is the actual cost.

There has been a great increase in the amount and in the number of bursaries. Last year alone, there was an increase in the number of awards amounting to 6,000, and the amount spent on these awards was £250,000. The total amount of the bursaries for 1948–49 was over £1 million. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman quite seriously whether he considers that all these awards are justified. I would also like to know whether they are made on some uniform basis of assessment, and whether they are scrutinised by some impartial body. I ask that, not because I wish to deny higher school or university education to any boy or girl who can benefit from it, but because I believe—and here, I think, I have the Director of Education of Ross-shire with me—there are only a limited number who are capable of benefiting from that education, and to give that education to some others at least may well do them a very great disservice.

There is the question of smaller classes, which has loomed so large in our Debate today. I have always felt that it was a mistake to have raised the school-leaving age before we had reduced the size of the classes, but I am perfectly certain that there is no putting the clock back now. Anyway, the raising of the school-leaving age has impelled authorities to build, although it has postponed the day of classes of a reasonable size. It has also resulted, of course, in a reduction in the standard of education of the present generation. We regret these results. They cannot be helped. The provision of rooms is proceeding slowly, and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart), I was distressed to read in the Report that: … acute problems of accommodation will continue to arise in our new housing areas. Surely, it is not necessary, if we have reasonable planning. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I have made representations on this matter, and I wish to acknowledge the courtesy with which he has replied to me on that subject. As a result of inadequate planning, there is a very serious situation within my constituency and, as other hon. Members are in the same position, I want to give the facts about it very briefly.

There are three great housing schemes in my constituency—Pollok, Housilwood and Priesthill. The present population is 31,500. Two years from now it will be 45,500. The school population today is 7,900. There is no secondary school, and the primary schools, such as do exist, are temporary in nature and character, and quite inadequate. So inadequate is the provision of schools that 4,700 pupils have to be transported daily to schools all over Glasgow at an annual cost of £25,000. I know the right hon. Gentleman is doing all he can do to remedy that situation, but when I say that nine primary schools and three secondary schools are required, it will be realised that it will be a large' number of years before the situation can be coped with.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) remarked that houses came before schools. In general, I agree in particular, I do not. Where there are great housing schemes like these, houses and schools must go up together. I was also depressed that the warning of the 1948 Report was repeated: It is accommodation which will be the limiting factor of educational development during the next decade. What is so sacrosanct about this next decade? Is it necessary to wait for the next decade before we can get rid of the difficulty of accommodation? Surely there is here no law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be altered. It looks as if the Department has accepted the situation and has said, "It is very unfortunate, but we cannot do anything about it." I hope that is not the case.

It is regrettable to note that the Report still has to say that scholastic standards, even now, are not as high as they were before the war. It was always my belief that the standard of education before the war and now could be far higher if we did not attempt too much. We attempt to give a smattering of too many subjects before there is a real foundation of basic subjects on which to build, and there, I think, I have with me the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), my hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) and also, I believe, the hon. Member for Ayrshire, Central (Mr. Manuel).

Be that as it may, it is gratifying to know that we are progressing towards pre-war standards. Progress is being made, but, as the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary of State said, there is no room for complacency. There is still much more to be done before we regain pre-war standards, and before we can consider our system of education is satisfactory.

May the Department and the education authorities press on with their work, and may they and the great body of teachers even find some encouragement from our Debate today. If it has been critical, it has only been critical because we take an interest in this great subject and in the greatly appreciated work of those who strive so hard, and so faithfully, to improve the standard and to maintain the prestige of Scottish education.

8.55 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Hector McNeil)

I know that I am speaking for my colleagues on the Front Bench when I thank the Committee for the high level of debate and for the moderate and constructive tone which has been adopted. I should particularly like to say to the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) that we are indeed indebted to him. He has addressed to me several queries which I shall try to answer. I should like to add that he has made a very reasonable point in saying that we as a Committee are entitled to more details of expenditure. I can assure him that we will consider this matter to see whether we can expand these details next year.

I think it will be convenient to divide the discussion into more or less four heads, and I will try to answer questions in those four divisions. That was the route which, broadly speaking, the Debate followed. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) once said that I had written about a speech he had made that it was very good. I am very sorry that he is no longer in his place, because I should like to tell him that his speech tonight was not one of his better speeches, and I might have given reasons for it.

He diverged from the general line, and we saw him once more haunted by this dreadful fear of the welfare State. Some hon. Members opposite, for an understandable reason, can never say that they are against the welfare State. The understandable reason is that their constituents would tear them to tatters if they did. But now and again they permit themselves a little timid divergence, and they try to hang some blame on the welfare State. Once more we had the hon. and gallant Member and one other hon. Member saying that perhaps the deficiencies in our present educational system, which deficiencies we on this side of the Committee would agree exist, are due to the welfare State.

Broadly speaking, the discussion was concerned, first of all, with the physical side, the building side. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok drew attention to the increase in expenditure. I would be the first to admit that this is the primary business for discussion here, and we should do less than our duty if we did not attempt to scrutinise, control, and explain the expenses. I am inclined to think that, while he was very moderate and said that he wanted more details, he was a little hurried about some of his conclusions, but I do not put it stronger than that.

He did us a service in reducing his comparative figures to the two periods 1945–46 and 1949–50. He showed us that the biggest jump was in the fourth item relating to travelling, transport and board and lodgings of pupils. I suggest that this is an item where we were bound to have a very big jump. He will remember that the whole matter of transport expenses has been changed in that period. I am not quoting the exact test, but he knows that nowadays if a child is attending a secondary school and lives more than three miles away these expenses are frequently automatically met without question. He will remember, too, as I am sure the Committee remembers, that we found that we had to vary the basis upon which bursaries were awarded for the very reason which worries the hon. and gallant Gentleman. When first they came into operation in 1947, we found that there was considerable variation from district to district.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman asks me: Is there now a uniform standard? I think I should be stretching things if I said that there was a uniform standard, but I would say that, after careful revision of all the figures in the first year's working, we changed the regulations so that there is a uniform minimum available in each local authority area, and provided the child satisfies the university entrance stage and is of the required age, then examination is made only of the father's income and the bursary award is made upon that same uniform, and I think quite just, basis. Of course, that change has meant a very large jump indeed. I think it is entirely reasonable, however, that we should have information, and I will see whether we can arrange that for the next Session.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked a number of questions about building and made some suggestions on that subject. He was joined in those questions by the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith), who referred to the Report and regretted the fact that the H.O.R.S.A. scheme was running down, while we were still admitting this great scarcity of places in the general school situation. He asked me why that had happened, and, in fact, asked me pretty bluntly what I intended to do about it.

With great respect, I think he is guilty here of a little confusion. The H.O.R.S.A. scheme was an emergency scheme under which the Government admitted that the local authorities, through causes quite out-with their control—the war situation—had been unable to pursue what would have been their normal responsibility, the building of schools; and the Government went in to carry them over that gap. I think it will generally be agreed, and in my recollection no one contended otherwise today, that that is what has happened. I do not think the hon. Member for Hillhead is asking me or the Government to say to local authorities, "We will do the job." I would not want to do that; I would not want to take any educational responsibilities away from local authorities in Scotland.

The job of the Government is to see that the facilities are available for the local authorities to do their job and the Committee are quite right to question whether or not this is happening. I think it is happening. I think that, on reflection, the Committee will agree, for two very simple reasons, that the Government have been doing their job. The first reason is that the capital allotment for educational building has, unfortunately, not been taken up so far. The second reason is to be found if one takes, say, the City of Aberdeen and other cities in a comparable position. They have the same facilities made available to them and yet, from the point of view of school buildings, the City of Aberdeen is in an incomparably better position than any other town or city in Scotland.

I am very eager to congratulate the people of Aberdeen, but I hope that in this year the other local authorities will strain themselves to the uttermost to take up all the portion of the capital investment programme allotted to them. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State has already quoted figures and showed that, for new building alone, we have this year an allotment of £3.74 million, and we have a further allotment of £600,000 for maintenance. I will go a little further. I cannot, of course, go outside the gross allotment in the capital investment programme; that is a physical impossibility. But I will say very cheerfully that if the demand from local authorities in the oncoming year exceeds this figure of £4.34 million, I shall be prepared to find additional money at the expense of some other sector of the capital investment programme in Scotland.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

May I ask my right hon. Friend a question on this point? Does he mean that he will be prepared to remove the ban on building nursery schools?

Mr. McNeil

No. I dislike the use of the word "ban." I know the warm and sincere interest of my hon. Friend on this subject.

Mr. Hughes

May I point out to my right hon. Friend that the word is in his own Report.

Mr. McNeil

Then I apologise to my hon. Friend for having concurred in the use of such a word. What I should prefer to say is that I must apply this sector of the programme in the most urgent educational tasks, and I think that the Committee will agree that the most urgent ones are the provision of places in primary schools and, to a lesser degree, the provision of technical and secondary places.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked me if we could not hurry that process. He asked me at what period I would predict that the size of the class of 45 pupils per class would be overtaken. I shall be dishonest if I offer a figure. It will depend primarily on the rate of building by local authorities. There must be limits as long as there are so many demands—these competing demands—upon our investment programme. But I am not tied to a decade. I shall be eager to assist the local authorities and the Committee. But we should admit to ourselves that there is a great deal of slack, that there are new commitments, and that it will be a long job demanding the energy and ingenuity of us all.

In connection with that he made a proposal about smaller classes in re- lation to promotion. I think that that is an entirely reasonable proposal, and I should think that, as the building programme for the new housing schemes develops, and as the bulge in the graph of the child population disappears, then the lopping off of the temporary parts of these new primary schools will indeed make smaller schools—make the average size of the schools smaller—so that, therefore, a larger number of schools over the whole programme will be made available.

The second series of questions, of course, turned to staffing. The question of the supply of teachers, as the Committee knows, was dealt with by the Advisory Council; and as a result of that, as the Committee knows, the emergency scheme was launched; and the emergency scheme has been a great success. What has been said about the high quality of the men and women coming in through the emergency scheme should be borne in mind when we are offering dogmatic assertions as to what ought to be the qualifications of teachers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, of course, did not make that kind of assertion. I want to be quite fair.

Since the Council reported, of course, the situation has been watched most carefully, and there has been continual review by the National Committee and by the Department. The forecasts of the Council, I am assured, have been remarkably accurate, and, as a result, we are within sight of overcoming our present staffing difficulties, and of dealing with these developments, such as the raising of the age, which have occurred since the war. Now, we are entering into a new phase, and the Committee has focussed attention upon it, and it is proper that we should admit it.

Having made these advances, other developments and other consequences are upon us. The new schools which are going up in housing areas—not as fast as anyone would like—are making fresh demands upon the teaching population. Moreover, we have a delightful dilemma in that the increased birth-rate and the reduced infant mortality rate are giving us an increasing school population, and we have to meet that.

The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok referred to the departmental committee which has been set up. Their remit is: To ascertain the existing and to estimate the prospective vacancies for teachers in schools and other educational establishments; and, having regard to the trends in recruitment and to the circumstances of the times, to estimate the number of recruits likely to be obtained; and to report to the Secretary of State from time to time. That is one side of the staffing difficulty. Many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), referred to the shortages in certain classes of teachers, and to the shortages in graduates. I think the hon. Member unwittingly did an injustice when he described the 900 uncertificated teachers as being rather second-class, and certainly not graduates. That is not necessarily true, and I should be glad to offer the hon. Gentleman an analysis of these uncertificated teachers. We actually have amongst them some honours graduates; we have specialist teachers; and the point is that they are not qualified in the sense of training college attendance and having obtained training college status.

But that does not affect the main question, that there is a shortage of graduates and honours graduates, particularly in maths and science—which the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok, quite properly, said is a good deal more disturbing. I should like to make it plain to the Committee that, while it is truly disturbing, it is not a situation which alarms me. It is a situation in which, in some respects, the Committee must delight, because it flows primarily from the fact that industry and commerce in this country are now acknowledging the need for higher education and the place of the graduate and the honours graduate in an efficient, throbbing and vital economy.

When I get the next report from this departmental committee, I propose to go a stage further and set up a working party which will embrace both the universities and the industrial and commercial side to consider the probable supply of this type of teacher and the probable demand, and to make recommendations on interim remedies. I, of course, have not the advice of the experts upon this subject and I cannot therefore commit myself yet, but if I might give a short example, in this situation it would not seem impossible to me to seek to encourage, as a temporary measure and upon a sessional basis, maths and science honours students from our universities who might quite easily teach in the first and second years of our secondary schools, leaving the critical third, fourth and fifth years to qualified honours graduates who are already in our service. I merely offer that as an example. If our predictions about the call of industry and commerce upon honours graduates are happily borne out we shall have to adopt some temporary measures.

The hon. Members for Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), and for Fife, East, and my hon. Friends the Members for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), and Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) alluded to our obligations towards teachers—their salary level and their working conditions. I do not seek to touch that at all. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary has already alluded to the further stages in negotiations which I hope may take place, and the Committee will excuse me if I do not discuss these, because I must not anticipate what is being done. I want to say that there are obligations, and as a Government we mean to meet them.

I doubt if we shall attract to this profession the men and women we want, merely by adjusting the salary levels. When we consult our own experience, we know perfectly well that, happily, salary is not a dominating factor in peopling the important sectors of our social life. If it were, I doubt if we would have the higher civil servants who are such a distinguished feature of British life. I certainly know that in the church, on the bench, and in a great many sectors of our life there are no glittering prizes such as commerce and industry offer. I think that if we are to attract to this essential and noble profession the people we want, we must take great care that they are given reasonable and adequate reward, but it will be other features in the profession which will attract them.

I was a little alarmed by the hon. Member for Hillhead who wanted to cut out the falderals in education. I like the hon. Member for his courage in saying quite bluntly: "I want the three R's and I think that it is nonsense to teach typing until you are sure that they can spell." I think that he is wrong. It is a dreadful confession. Think of the days when we knew little more than that. It is claimed that Scotland in those days turned out a whole nation of literate, educated, vital self-confident people. But the facts do not square at all with this claim. Would the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Colonel Gomme-Duncan), if I pressed him on this point, really contend that the agricultural labourer who was forced to work for 20s. a week, with no safeguards about his working conditions at all, would have done so if he had come out of school, as we like to pretend, a virile, self-reliant, literate, Scottish boy? It is not so; he would not have been there. The right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) is not going to tell the Committee that he is going to be satisfied with the Scottish education system if boys and girls come out of school like well-drilled little penguins, able to put letters together, as we sometimes see them do in a circus.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

I only say that typewriting is much more like the penguins he is describing than handwriting. My hon. Friend was saying that it would be a good thing to be able to shell. Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not going to deny that.

Mr. McNeil

The hon. Member for Hillhead went a hit further than that. He said "give me the three R's and then think about the other things." I think that he inferred that if we did so we should have a vigorous, virile, robust and self-reliant Scottish population. It is not so. The great tragedy of the Scottish educational system was that the village school turned out one, two, or perhaps half a dozen, distinguished girls and boys—usually boys—hut did not pay attention to the rest of the class.

The hon. Member for Fife, East (Mr. Stewart) properly directed our attention to the magnificent Report on Secondary Education produced by the Advisory Council. Like everyone who has referred to it, I want once more to record my congratulations and thanks to the Advisory Council, including the hon. Member for Fife, East. When I went back to the Report last night, I came across this phrase in paragraph 133: We have assumed throughout this Report the immense value of the modern science of education, with its techniques and its psychological equipment; but, unless we are to go back on all we have said about human personality, we must attach an equal importance to the immemorial art of teaching. There is an understanding which comes not from analysis and observation but rather intuitively, from the slow commerce of person with person, a spiritual quality in the relation of teacher and taught which has been nobly affirmed by Jacques Maritain—What is of most importance to the educator is a respect for the soul as well as the body of the child, the sense of his inmost essence and internal resources, and a sort of sacred and loving attention to his mysterious identity, which is a hidden thing no techniques can reach'. That is a hidden thing which no technique can reach. I do not believe we are going to reach this mysterious identity or give it an outlet to express itself, or produce the reliant, robust, curious boy and girl who comes out of school as lively as he goes in, equipped to tackle his worries and questions, by dull, rigid methods—certainly not by concentrating upon "the three R's." I do not think we shall do it by saying to these men and women from our universities, "Cut out the falderals and come here and drill these children."

I was asked about my attitude towards this Report. I say, without reservation, that I accept the general tenor of the Report, and that in this perhaps the most solemn sector of the important Scottish Office, I shall be wary of cranks and fads. So long as I am at this job, I shall consider benevolently any person or method that seems likely to measure up to that report and produce a lively and curious Scottish child. I am circulating a memorandum very soon, which will be the first of the series in which I am hoping to elucidate and illustrate my views.

The hon. Member for Fife, East, also asked me about primary schools. We must not, of course, neglect the primary schools. I have had the recommendations and curricula offered by the panel of inspectors brought up to date, and I hope also to circulate that very soon. Of course, I shall make a whole bag of errors, because no one can be certain about what the purpose of education should be. I believe, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, that this is a question which has been answered differently in every generation.

But, do not let us have dull or apologetic people. Do not let us think that our undistinguished stage, or our shabby screen, or the squalid periodicals, are the fault of these 16 and 17-year olds who buy them or go there. They are not. It is our own fault, because we have not made up our minds what we want from our schools, and I hope to try to add such life as I can, and by that method I hope we will attract into this profession those men and women we so badly need.

Reference was made to the scarcity of text books and equipment. That is true and we are all very anxious about it, but when I recently made inquiries I was told that there now was no appreciable shortage of text books, and I shall be glad to look at any shortages to which my attention is directed. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), who is against controls, invited me to assume dictatorial powers. He wants me to ban the trashy novels, and presumably to direct the paper to text books. I shall not look for these powers; I could not use them, but if we bring our children up in a lively, self-reliant and vigorous frame of mind, which the whole Committee want, they will dispose of these trashy novels by themselves.

9.26 p.m.

Commander Galbraith

I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman who has very courteously left me a minute or two to put a point to the Committee. Hon. Members need not be apprehensive; I am not going to renew the Debate. I rise because, as the Committee well knows, at 9.30 the outstanding Votes will be put. This used to be a great occasion, because it gave an opportunity to those who desired to make good rather poor Division records. That is a thing of the past. The crack of the whip tells hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they have got to be in their places, and I am glad to see that the Patronage Secretary agrees with me on that point.

I desire to inform the Committe that on this occasion as on previous occasions recently, we do not propose to divide against any of these Votes. Our reason for that is not that we do not disagree in places with certain of the Votes. We do, and we should like to show our disagreement by voting against them, but there are other parts of the Votes with which we agree entirely, and if we voted against the one we should be voting against the others also. Hon. Gentlemen will understand the implications which arise in these circumstances. It is for that reason that we do not propose to divide against these outstanding Votes.

Question put, and agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, forthwith to put severally the Questions, That the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the several Classes of the Civil Estimates, including Supplementary Estimates, and the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Revenue Departments and Ministry of Defence Estimates, and in the Navy, the Army, and the Air Estimates, be granted for the Services defined in those Classes and Estimates.

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