§ The Chairman
Before I call upon the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) to open the Debate, I think it might be helpful if I expressed a hope that right hon. and hon. Members will be as brief as possible in their speeches. To my knowledge, there are over 50 hon. Members who desire to speak—quite an impossible number—and if hon. Members will be as short as possible in their speeches it will, at any rate, enable the Chair to allow many more hon. Members to speak than would otherwise be the case.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
This is the first time since the passing of the Act of 1944 that I have ventured to open a Debate upon Education Estimates. I feel that the child for which we were all responsible in the Parliament before last has been nearly weaned, but it has now got to the stage when the whole course of its future development is in question. All of us, in all parties, were responsible for this Act, and I am sure 1909 that we all still desire to see it carried out in the spirit, and, as far as possible, in the letter of what we arranged at that time. We all wanted to work it together, and I believe that is still our desire.
I understand that when hon. Members opposite are pleased with the Act, they call it the " 1944 Act," and when they find something which they very much dislike, they call it the " Butler Act." I have nothing to complain of about that because I have had it the other way as well. I recently received a letter from a constituent of mine in the depths of a rural district, which ran as follows:Dear Sir, I do not hold with education. Your opponents are telling me they are responsible for all these new fangled and stupid ideas. I am therefore giving you my vote.That shows that if one remains calm throughout all these controversies which are bound to arise in the education field, one gets a dividend in the end.
We tried, at the passage of the Act, to work out a scheme upon which development plans could be based in the period immediately following the war. We tried to work out a scheme which would set the social pattern of the age in which we live, and in this respect those of us who were responsible foresaw, I think, the times that were coming ahead. Similarly, in the realm of what I want partly to talk about this afternoon, namely, the religious settlement under the Act, I think it would be agreed by all sides of the Committee that it would have been impossible had the old-style dual system continued to operate in the present circumstance. I think it was right to grasp that nettle, and while it was an extremely difficult task—and one which Fisher very wisely neglected to grasp at the time of his Bill at the end of the previous war—I think we may now say we were right to plan on such a large canvas.
Fortunately, at the time of the passing of the Act, I happened to say that this was the work of a generation. That has proved prophetic because there is no doubt that it is going to take a generation to work out the whole scope of the Act in every detail. We cannot, in fact, try to do everything at once. Already we are seeing the chance—and, I fear, almost the certainty—of grave casualities at each end of the school age. I shall be saying a word later about 1910 continuing education and the county colleges. I fear they are being indefinitely postponed, and that, at the other end, many authorities are being obliged to cut their nursery schools which were a subject of such very great hopes at the time of the passing of the Act.
The fact is that we are obliged to concentrate on the sheer physical effort of accommodating the ever-increasing school population. That is landing us with administrative efforts which are of a very great and important character. At the time of the Act, we were particularly interested in the three " A's "—age, ability, and aptitude. Now it seems to me that our troubles are summed up under the three " B's "—the increased birthrate, the unfortunate burdens which are falling upon all concerned, and the overladen bureaucracy which can barely cope with the problems with which it has to deal. It is by addressing myself to these three " B's " that I am enabled to divide up what I want to say.
Before I say anything else, I want to refer to an extract from a book by James Truslow Adams in which he describes a story of a distinguished explorer who spent a couple of years among the savages of the Upper Amazon, no doubt the Amazon with which the Minister is so closely connected in his researches with U.N.E.S.C.O. He was attempting a forced march through the jungle with a company of natives. For two days this forced march continued, and, on the third morning, he was surprised to see the natives sitting on their haunches and the headman refusing to move. He askew them what was the matter. " They are waiting," the chief explained, " before moving farther until their souls have caught up with their bodies."
That seems to me to sum up the whole problem facing us in the educational world today. We are so occupied with the details of physical administration that we have not given time for the souls to catch up with the bodies, and it is to this particular aspect that a large part of my remarks will be addressed this afternoon. While observing your injunction, Major Milner, about not speaking too long, I venture to reflect that, alas, even on this occasion, very few people will devote their attention to the real content of education. I prophesy that nearly all our speeches, including my 1911 own, will be devoted to the problem of administration. If we all fall into that fault, let us remember that the content of education—what is taught, the quality of the teachers, and the inspiration—must be the basis of any national system which is going to work, and that the voluntary schools have a vital part to play in providing a particular inspiration in the midst of the whole national effort.
The bodies, that is the children, are almost too numerous to cope with. I calculate that there will be about 500,000 more school population in 1953 than there were in 1949. This is largely due to the increased birth rate, which reached its peak in 1947 but which will result in an increased school population at about the date I have mentioned. I want first to ask the Minister whether his plans for increasing the number of teachers are sufficiently ambitious to cope with this problem. As I understand it, in his Circular 174 he expected a net increase in teachers of some 41,500, enabling him, as he hoped, to cope in 1953 with the increased number of children in school and with the ever-increasing numbers in the classes.
This means an annual rate of increase of about 8,000 and, as I calculate the figures, the annual rate now is only just creeping up to the 6,000 level. If this is the case, it is going to take at least seven or eight years, instead of the five-year programme, to cope with the increase in classes and to meet the emergency in the rise of school population which he has to face. We want a clear line of policy on this point, both from the Government and from the Central Council.
When we reflect that the classes, of over 40 and many of over 50 in the primary sphere will number 33,000, and will number over 4,000 in the secondary sphere, and when we reflect upon the conditions which exist in these over-numerous classes we must realise that a teacher is not a teacher but a circus master to keep children in order. Proper education cannot be conducted in these circumstances. The size of classes today is a subject which must impress itself upon any Minister or Government. I hope the Minister will give us some satisfying answer about the supply of teachers now that the emergency training is ended.
1912 In the case of building, I calculate that no fewer than 1,450,000 new places will be wanted by 1953. This seems to mean a rate of increase of well over 300,000 new places a year. I gather that a scale of increase of about 135,000 is planned for 1950. If that is the case we have to double and more the number of school places in the ensuing years if we are to hit our target. Therefore, I consider the Minister is right up against a very serious problem if, leaving aside some of the matters to which I referred earlier, he is going to make it possible for teachers to retain that vital principle of all in education—some personal relationship between the teacher and the taught by a reasonable size of classes in our schools.
I am purposely putting these problems quite shortly in answer to your request, Major Milner. I come now to consider the great increase in cost in these Estimates. In passing, I would say that education today actually takes less percentage of national expenditure than it did before the war. It has now dropped to rather less than 5 per cent., whereas before the war it was running at the level of about 6 per cent. of the national expenditure. This is explained, not by economy on the part of the Government, but by the fact that estimates for the social services have swollen to such an alarming extent. The Health Scheme has been allowed to swell almost without any restraint whereas expenditure on education, although it has increased, has not increased in proportion to the national expenditure.
Further, it is a fact which is sometimes forgotten, that the cost of education largely falls upon local government revenue, with the result that local councils, and those of us engaged in local government, are apt to blame education whilst forgetting that the greater part of the rise in the cost of the social services are borne by the national Exchequer and do not fall to such a large extent upon the local rates. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the Opposition to enforce upon the Government the absolute necessity of the maximum economy in the conduct of our education Estimates because otherwise we shall, with the whole range of social service, get into realms which are quite uncontrollable.
I notice that the Minister has decreed that the price of primary school places 1913 shall be £170 with a drop to £140 next year and that secondary places shall cost £290 with a drop to £240 next year. This is a move in the right direction, but I should like to push the Minister further and remind him that in Hertfordshire and, I believe, also in Yorkshire, they can build at figures which are less than those he has enunciated. Every opportunity should be given for cheaper building. As the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mrs. Middleton) said at Question time, I hope an opportunity will be given to consider the Report of the Working Party on the Building Industry so that we in Opposition can give the Government useful tips on how to reduce building costs.
This question of costs brings me at once to the question of the voluntary schools. It is clear that increased costs are felt very heavily by voluntary school managers. No doubt it is a fact that the estimates made in 1944 are not valid today owing to the increased cost of building and in every other way. One important object of the settlement of 1944 was to give a choice to voluntary managers whether they desired to adopt " aided " or " controlled " status. I understand that 1,480 Church of England schools have already adopted controlled status, as I thought they probably would, and some 670 have already adopted or opted for aided status. The choice, therefore, is beginning to work out. I and my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the Committee attach great importance to this choice remaining a real and genuine choice, because that was the wholly British free way of working we adopted at the time of the settlement.
In passing, I would regret the slaughter of the innocents in the shape of little country schools cut out of development plans by local authorities so that they are given no choice to opt whether to be aided or controlled. I impress upon the Minister the vital importance of the small village school. It is an integral part of country life. I express sorrow at the sale of school buildings condemned by the diocese against the wishes of the village. The Minister has power to approve or disapprove of development plans. I appeal to him once more to be extremely careful before he allows these country schools to be cut out of those plans. It was a particular feature of our plan that 1914 the small village schools should be maintained.
Now we come to a far more serious question. The Managers are at present being put in the dilemma that if they opt now for aided status they themselves and those who succeed them may be accepting unascertainable liabilities at an uncertain time. This has caused many conscientious people very great heart-searching. One of the main objects of our desiring a Debate on education today was to press the Minister to make some necessary adjustments within the framework of the Act in order that the Act can work in the letter and in the spirit. I do not know of any subject which arouses more conscientious and heart felt feeling on this side of the Committee than this matter. If I may refer to what I said earlier, there is no better way by which we can ensure that our souls can catch up with our bodies than to give to voluntary schools a certainty of future life.
The voluntary schools, through the inspiration of the teaching which they provide, give something vital to our national character and to our future national existence. I do not believe it is either necessary or desirable to reverse the religious settlement we reached in 1944. This, indeed, I think has been made clear by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a speech which he made on 20th April at Cardiff in which he said that the Church of England warmly welcomed the positive contribution which the settlement made by sections designed to secure a sincere and efficient religious teaching and a daily corporate act of worship by every school in the country, and that it was a settlement fair to all the conflicting aspects of the problem. That is a testimony from the Primate.
§ Mr. Butler
I do not think that things are quite so simple as the hon. Member is making out. Perhaps I may proceed with my speech, because I do not think he will have any cause to be dissatisfied with what I say.
In the " Church Times " of 17th March, the Dean of St. Albans, speaking on behalf of the National Society, said that the grant was, in the light of the strange history of 1915 popular education in this country, a genuine and generous offer. Before I refer to the hon. Gentleman's own anxieties about his denomination, looking at it from the Anglican position, I am convinced that had this settlement not been reached it would have been impossible for the Church of England to face its school problem.
I looked up some notes which I made with the late Archbishop Temple when he came to visit me to discuss this matter. At the time the Church of England had over 10,000 schools, of which only 582 had been built since 1902. When we examined together the black list which was then 17 years old, out of 731 schools we found that 543 of those were in fact voluntary schools. We further found that the reorganisation had only proceeded to the extent of 16 per cent. in the case of voluntary schools and 62 per cent. at that date for the council schools.
The Archbishop at that date, backed by his own advisers and friends and since supported by the present Archbishop, came to the conclusion that this was a problem which the Anglicans simply could not face without extra help. It is undoubtedly true today, provided we can work out this point of difficulty to which I have referred, that the choice offered them of a new grant and the option of controlled status has made it possible for the Church of England to face up as it would desire to do to the problems which it had before it. In this connection I would say that had it not been for the pioneer work of the voluntary schools and the denominations we should have had no proper education in this country. It is because they stepped into the breach at a time when the State would not take a proper interest in education that they have been landed with this hideous problem.
I must tell the Committee that in my experience it would be very unwise to underestimate the gravity of any proposal to re-open the whole issue of the settlement. There is more than one side to this question. We heard a great deal from one side in the General Election, and we all answered it according to our consciences, because these are matters of deep conscience and we on all sides of the Committee should acknowledge that. But it must also be realised that there is another side; in fact, there are many other sides to this problem. For example, 1916 just before speaking I received a most urgent communication from the National Educational Association representing the Free Churches, who besought me to realise that if any radical alteration in the settlement were advocated or were carried through by the Government, that would land the country back in some of these hideous quarrels and quite unnecessary disputes which would vitiate the whole future course of our educational development.
Further, another principle from which we never departed in 1944 is that all denominations must be treated the same. For example, there is no difference of conscience between an Anglican in Lancashire who feels that the children in his school must be Church members, as was put to me so eloquently by the Bishop of Chichester at the time of the settlement, and the Roman Catholic position which is in fact almost exactly the same, except perhaps that the Roman Catholics desire an even more marked religious atmosphere to prevail through the whole course of the day's curriculum. But there is no difference in essence. Therefore, it would be impossible for this Committee to try to promulgate a settlement which dealt with only one denomination, because they would immediately be in trouble with the others.
Further—and this is equally important —it is, in my opinion, quite wrong in education to deal with these matters unless the partners in education are brought into negotiation. By " the partners " I mean the local authorities who have strong views on this subject, which I have taken care officially to ascertain before speaking at this Box this afternoon. They support what I say about the danger of reversing the basis of the settlement. Further, there are the teachers, without whom it would be impossible to conduct the education system of this country. There are, as I have said, the Free Churches and there are the various denominations. I am convinced that if any alteration of any sort is to be made it must be made with the agreement of the partners in education. If that be achieved, then I think a lasting settlement would endure.
Here I would like to say that I have been able to notice by the contracts which I am fortunate enough to have that there is a very much better spirit abroad about 1917 the need for co-operation between the partners concerned. The denominations realise it, and I believe the Minister has a real opportunity here to face up to existing problems and to extend the settlement, with any adjustments necessary. with the agreement of the partners concerned. I should like to press the Minister to take this opportunity and to do what is needful in the interest of all concerned.
At the time of the passage of the Act and at a late date before it was finally passed, I decided that it was necessary to introduce into the Act some loan provisions of an exceptionally generous character. I do not mind saying that they were not put in with the easy agreement of His Majesty's Treasury at that date, but they were negotiated with a view to helping the denominations. They are included in Section 105 of the Act. I want to appeal to the Minister to see that those loan provisions are properly used in the interests of the denominations, with the object of spacing out the liability which managers have to undertake and rendering possible the acceptance of more distant and uncertain liabilities by making them less onerous.
This is an extremely complicated subject, but it is quite clear that some modification of the procedure outlined in what is known as Form 18 will be necessary, and I therefore appeal to the Minister in his answer, or at a suitable date when he has finished his negotiations, to give us some assurance that he will press forward on these lines. Without going into too much detail, there is a variety of procedure. Either this matter can be settled on a diocesan basis or by negotiation with individual managers. I understand that the Anglicans prefer to negotiate on a diocesan basis, and that the Roman Catholics, on the whole, prefer to negotiate on a basis of parishes, because the self-sacrifice of the parishes in a Roman Catholic community is really most remarkable. I believe, with the hierarchy, that the matter must be negotiated on a parish basis. The Minister can, at any rate, tell us if this is the fact.
The Anglicans have evolved a scheme which is called the Barchester scheme, presumably after Trollope. I always thought that Trollope's wisest phrase was, " Don't marry money but go where 1918 money is." I presume that the Barchester scheme is framed with the idea of going where money is. If that be the case, I wish the Anglicans well in proceeding tc' negotiate on this diocesan basis. What it broadly comes to is that managers are only asked to provide an annual premium of one-quarter of the liability charge, on the understanding that a general insurance scheme is entered into for a diocese and the diocese accepts liabilities in a broad geographical area and for an indefinite time. If that be the case, perhaps the Minister would describe in more detail how these liabilities can be so arranged that managers can face up to them today.
There is an alternative, that the negotiations should take place with parishes or individual managers. I understand that it would be possible to devise a scheme whereby for projects which are not due under the development plan for a few years, say 10 years, only a proportion of the loan charge would be required from the managers. Old ultimate projects, which are to be deferred for an indefinite time might, according to what I have heard from one side and another, be able to be accepted at a liability of some quarter of the loan charge. If that be the case, then a manager or a parish undertaking to state whether they are able and willing to undertake the liability would at least know that their liability is much reduced and is reduced in proportion as the project is in the near or distant future. If the Minister can work out a plan of that sort, it would be worth while for the denominations to examine it and for the other partners to approve it.
There are other methods. The Archbishop mentioned legislation in his speech at Cardiff and there has been mention on the part of the Anglicans of a special aided status involving a 75 per cent. grant. This involves the surrendering of some of the right to appoint teachers. My own feeling is that the denominations would be most unwise to subtract anything from the freedom of the present aided status. If the denominations start conceding the appointment of teachers they will take away that atmosphere which they so earnestly desired at the time of the past negotiations. Therefore, I would not advise the denominations to back any plan which takes away from the liberty of the aided status and takes away from the liberty of the 1919 school from their point of view. As the State encroaches more and more on our being, the voluntary schools should choose a status which gives them the maximum liberty and the choice of appointment of teachers, however great the difficulty may be in finding the necessary funds.
Then there is another department of discussion, whether the liabilities could not be repartitioned between the authorities and the managers. That, in my view, might mean the re-opening of the settlement, and if so it could only be done by agreed negotiations. For example, I heard of a proposal from the Church of England that sanitation, not being a religious subject, should be removed from the purview of the school managers and given back to the authorities. I have heard a point of view expressed by the Roman Catholics that the Roman Catholic responsibility should be confined solely to the classrooms. I believe that discussions on these lines are not certain to be successful, and I should prefer to stick by the repartition of responsibilities as agreed in the settlement and to make more helpful the financial terms which the managers undertake.
I, therefore, press upon the Government the desirability of reaching a settlement within the framework of the Act without, unless there is agreement among the partners, any legislation on minor points. I must press the Government to take action on this matter, otherwise I do not think they will hold a position which is not so easy as it looks on the surface. I think it is vital for the Minister to act, and to act with imagination, on lines somewhat like those I have laid down.
There are one or two other matters I want to mention before I resume my seat. These extra costs which fall so heavily on the voluntary schools also fall very heavily now upon the teachers. There is no doubt that the remuneration of the teachers today is far from satisfactory. The teachers' profession is a profession, as was so ably put at the N.U.T. annual conference by the Secretary, Mr. Gould; it is not a service. It is vital in our view that the teachers should remain a profession and be free to take part in the various public activities in which they are so interested. They are finding that their basic rates compare most unfavourably 1920 with many other occupations, and their higher rewards are failing to attract sufficient recruits.
I hasten to assure the Minister that I do not think, nor do my hon. and right hon. Friends, that there is any easy solution of this question. Nor do I think it right for an individual Member of Parliament to state exactly by how much he would wish the teachers' salaries to be increased. This is a matter for the negotiating machinery of the Burnhatn Committee which has been set up for the purpose. I understand, however, the authorities are looking sympathetically at this problem, and it is the local authorities who will have to bear the main burden of any increase if it be granted.
I hope, therefore, that local authorities will adjust their spending programme so that the human element receives first priority, even above the building. In that case those who provide the inspiration of the teaching will be properly rewarded. If I may give any opinion, I would say that we must approach this subject from the basic salary, which is unsatisfactory. The primary teacher, in view of the size of classes, is having a tough deal at the present time. Then we must take into account a variety of incentives for heads of schools, for those who do especially good work, for those of long service, and so forth, so that incentive rewards are given not only to graduates but also to those who have done good work for the teaching profession.
I have noted in a report of the Headmasters' Association on mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, that in a list of some 777 schools—a few of which are independent—there are 62 per cent. of the vacancies unfilled in mathematics alone, and the position in biology and physics is to the extent of 65 per cent. and 40 per cent. of the vacancies being unfilled. There is a real crisis in science teaching in our grammar schools due to the extra reward being offered by industry and to other causes. It is essential not to take the advice that Samuel Pepys gave to the captains of his ships when he told them to take with them:A godly divine as chaplain and to pay him as mucb respect to his function as could be shown without increased charge to His Majesty.I am afraid that if we adopt that principle we shall not get a satisfied and contented teaching profession.
1921 I have three more points which, in view of your request, Major Milner, I will make quite briefly. The first is the need to face up to the fact that, if we do not take care, the continuing education of young people between 15 and 18 will fall by the wayside again as it did in Fisher's day. This would mean that for the second time the nation had gone back on an Act of Parliament which had been passed amidst wide approval. I believe it will be extremely difficult to build county colleges but I believe we can use far more than the Government have done hitherto the voluntary effort of industry to provide continuing education for the people within their ranks, and not under their own aegis but with the aid of the local authorities.
During these five years I have deliberately tried an experiment in a firm in which the employees number over 20,000. We have now provided continuing education for every young person in that firm with the aid of local authorities in six or seven different parts of England. I can tell hon. Members I have learned far more from that practical experiment than sitting all the time in the ministerial chair. I recommend that type of experiment to the Minister because I believe we have to call in voluntary effort in this sphere and in the sphere of the local authorities to take the place of the overburdened bureaucrat.
In regard to the universities and technical colleges, no doubt in a future Debate there will be time to develop the many points I should like to make, but I will now merely ask the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary to give us a final view as to the number of students he proposes shall receive awards at the universities. Most hon. Members have received a circular from the National Union of Students. It is not clear to what extent the Minister proposes to accept the working party report. We do not seek numbers for the sake of numbers in our universities, many of which are overcrowded. We do seek adequate candidates, adequate outlet for the quality available, and adequate grants and remuneration to those who are there.
In regard to technical education, I will simply say this, that the universities are having pressing upon them many who are looking for higher technological courses. I do not believe that it will be 1922 possible indefinitely to expand the universities of this country. We shall have to put up beside them other institutions which give technological training, without at one and the same time falling into two errors; the first, having confusion in the different type of awards that are granted, and secondly, trying to mix up two staffs, one giving technical training and the other higher technological training in one department. The Minister will have somehow to try to resolve this. I understand that a royal institute or society of technology has been suggested to make awards. If that is so let it avoid the confusion which I have stated, and let the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary try to give some further guidance on this matter today.
I myself feel that, as the Percy Report recommended, we shall have to introduce into this country at least one experiment—and, I hope, later two or three—of the higher technological college such as exists in America, such as exists in Holland, and such as exists in other countries, because in that way not only do we open up a further outlet for further education, but we stop the pressure on the universities and we avoid the uncertainty of mixing purely technical training with higher technological courses.
I have attempted to obey your command, Major Milner, and I hope the Minister will do likewise, and I will conclude by telling the 'Minister the advice given by George Borrow in " Lavengro," that he should follow resolutely the straight path before him.Bound along it if you can. If not, on hands and knees follow it, because if you turn into other paths to have a momentary advantage or gratification you will have sold your inheritance and your immortality.The priceless feature of education is that it combines the traditions of the past with the hopes of the future, and the Minister has it in his power to carry on with our old traditions and yet keep alive those hopes of the future which we had in 1944.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Mr. Tomlinson)
Let me, first of all, say how pleased I am to have the opportunity of taking part in a Debate on the Estimates. I do not object to being reminded right at the beginning that we should cut down the time or length of our speeches. However, one does find it a little hard if, having cut down the length of one's 1923 speech and left out the subjects which are of most importance, one is chided afterwards for the fact that, though we have had a Debate, the Minister had nothing to say. I have a lot to say today, and if I were to say it all, it would take a long, long time; but I realise that other hon. Members want to take part, too. There are some things of paramount importance with which we should deal.
I, too, regret, as the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) also regretted, that it is so difficult to discuss education in a Debate on the Education Estimates. I have never yet been able to succeed in this Chamber in making a speech on education. I hope some day to have the opportunity of doing so. Today I am bound to deal with the questions of administration, because they are possessing the mind of every Member of the Committee, and many people are very concerned about them. I feel that I should first deal with the question of the voluntary schools, which has been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman.
Let me say, first of all, that I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the maintenance of the settlement embodied in the 1944 Education Act. We are fortunate in this country that this question of denominational schools is not a party matter. There are members of all Churches on both sides of the Committee and in all political parties. Differences of opinion on the treatment of church schools cut across all political divisions. We can, therefore, discuss these problems more freely and, I hope, more sincerely, than is possible, I believe, in most countries of the world at the present time. This is an important advantage, and I, personally, should deplore any attempt to bring this issue into the hurly-burly of the ordinary political platform. At the last election there were, I believe, some attempts in this direction. I do not believe those attempts did the cause of the Church schools very much good, and I hope they will not be repeated.
I think that the country and the education service owe a great debt to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden, to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, and to all those others who helped them in the intricate and 1924 lengthy negotiations which led up to the 1944 settlement. Today the right hon. Gentleman has reaffirmed his view that this settlement should be maintained. For my part, the longer I stay at the Ministry of Education the more I appreciate the delicate balance achieved in the settlement of the religious problem which was em- bodied in the 1944 Education Act.
I am convinced that we should start our discussion today on the basis of some words which the right hon. Gentleman himself spoke in this House last July when we were debating the Estimates. Perhaps I may remind the Committee of what he said:No doubt many of the denominations are finding it difficult to meet the costs under the present situation. Nevertheless, all denominations must find the rise in costs equally disturbing, and I would therefore beg the right hon. Gentleman to make no fundamental alteration in the general principles governing the religious settlement under the Act. I am not convinced that if the subject were raised again, we should reach so amicable a settlement as we did on that occasion." — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1949; Vol. 166, c. 2029.]Ever since I have been Minister of Education I have taken the line, and announced it as my policy on various occasions, that I intended to do everything I could for the Churches within the framework of the 1944 Act, and to treat all denominations alike. I have realised of course, all along that the Churches would not find it easy to carry out the obligations which the Act, with all its provisions for new help to Church schools, still left them to carry. However, for reasons which are fairly well known, the Churches are finding it difficult to carry out all the obligations which they wish to assume, for I would point out that it is the Churches who choose to assume the obligations: they could be taken over by the State, but at a price which the Churches—rightly, I feel—are not prepared to pay. Naturally, therefore, they seek some alleviation of the burdens which the 1944 Act requires them to carry if they seek to retain full control of their denominational schools. I do not blame them for seeking this alleviation, but I do want to remind the Committee, before I come on to discuss more detailed matters, that, compared with their position before the war, the Churches gained enormous advantages from the settlement in the 1944 Act.
It may not be known to all Members of the House that before the Act came 1925 into operation the entire cost of external repairs and of improvements to existing Church schools, and the entire cost of all new Church schools, other than what are now called special agreement schools, fell upon the denominations concerned. The new Act gave the denominations a choice. As the right hon. Gentleman said, it was intended to give them a choice.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
There is, I think, one point which needs correction. Surely the state of affairs my right hon. Friend is referring to is the state of affairs before the 1936 Act, and not immediately before the 1944 Act.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
No, but they became special agreement schools as a result of the passing of the 1936 Act which was intended to deal, as I think everybody realises, with only one problem.
The new Act gave the denominations a choice. They could surrender part of the Church's control of a school and in return be relieved of all expenditure connected with the school, though they could still retain ownership of the property and certain rights with regard to the appointment of teachers and denominational religious instruction. The other alternative offered to the Churches allowed them to retain the denominational character of the school unaltered while benefiting from public funds to the extent of 50 per cent. of the cost of external repairs of existing schools and 50 per cent. of the cost of improvements or of new school buildings if these were needed to replace existing accommodation.
The fundamental principle of the whole settlement was that public money should be available to assist the Churches to provide up-to-date accommodation for the pupils already attending voluntary schools, but that no public money should be available for the provision of new and additional Church school accommodation. In other words, public funds might be used to help the Churches to bring their schools up-to-date, but not to extend the sphere of denominational education. It should, however, be remembered that the 1944 Act carried forward a large 1926 number of the so-called special agreements which will considerably assist the Churches in meeting their needs on very favourable terms. That is the effect of the 1936 Act.
Apart from the very considerable sums of money involved in the grants to Church schools which I have mentioned, the denominations obtained other advantages in the 1944 Act which are often overlooked when this question is being discussed. For example, the Act included new provisions for the payment out of public funds of the cost of transport to schools selected by parents for their children on denominational grounds. In applying these provisions of the Act it has in some cases been necessary for the Ministry to compel local education authorities against their will to grant benefits to which I thought the parents concerned were entitled, and I have not hesitated to do so.
There are other provisions in the Act which have enabled parents to obtain assistance towards the fees of their children at denominational schools. These are new elements in our public education system, and it should not be forgotten that they represent very real advantages to the Church communities. All these things are, of course, additional to the running costs of the voluntary schools, including all the teachers' salaries, which have been entirely paid for out of public funds for many years.
I have spoken at some length about the background of this problem as I see it, because without understanding the background one cannot usefully discuss the detailed proposals which have been put forward from various quarters in the last few months. If the Committee will bear with me, I will now say something about these proposals.
The ideas that have been discussed fall under three heads. First of all, there was a proposal that we should cut the knot of this problem and adopt something on the lines of what is generally called the Scottish system. This would involve, in fact, complete provision of denominational schools out of public funds without any effective transfer of control from the Church to public authorities. It would involve complete revision of the denominational provisions of the 1944 Act, which of course we cannot discuss on a Supply Day. It would involve some 1927 sort of religious test for teachers. It would arouse again all the old difficulties and controversies about the single school area. I do not think that this solution is in the least likely to be acceptable to the opinion of the majority at the present time.
The second set of proposals which has been in people's minds lately is concerned with the higher costs of school building compared with the costs as they were estimated six or seven years ago. It is, of course, true that the costs of school building—as of other kinds of building —have risen considerably compared with the pre-war costs, or even the costs in 1943 or 1944. But I would remind the House, in the first place, that the possibility of such an increase was in fact foreseen when the 1944 Education Act was being debated.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden himself said on the Floor of this House during the Debates on the 1944 Act that no undertaking could be given that the financial arrangements for voluntary schools could be altered in the event of a general rise in building costs. He pointed out that if building costs rose, so also would the funds from which those costs would be met. This has, in fact, happened. There was, therefore, never a guarantee that an increase in wage and price levels would necessarily lead to a review of the financial arrangements embodied in the Act.
It is true that the building work will be spread out over a longer period than was foreseen in 1943. But it seems to me that this should place the Churches in a more favourable position to meet their obligations rather than in a less favourable position. It does, after all, mean that they have a considerable period of time in many cases in which to collect funds to meet their ultimate liabilities.
Then again, a great deal of the anxiety which the Churches feel about their ability to meet their liabilities is based on the cost of school building between 1946 and 1949. I have already taken steps to amend the building regulations in some minor particulars. A completely new set of building regulations is being prepared, and by this and other methods it has been shown that in 1951 we shall be able to 1928 build schools at a cost 25 per cent. below the average in 1949. This must represent some easement of the burden on the denominations, and no one can be certain that the 1951 level of building prices will be maintained indefinitely. I, personally, shall be sorry if we do not get prices lower still before very long; and I commend what the right hon. Gentleman said about one authority which has been building below these prices by the application of new methods
I do not think, therefore, that there is any justification at the present time for tampering with the financial provisions of the Act. There have been proposals for grants to be increased as the right hon. Gentleman said, from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent., and there have been other suggestions which would have the effect of shifting part of the Churches' present liabilities on to public funds.
All these changes involve a considerable departure from the principles of the 1944 settlement. That settlement, as I have said, represented the highest common factor of general agreement as recently as 1944. No one can yet be certain that these arrangements will not prove satisfactory for the Churches in the long-run. Therefore, I say, let us not jeopardise the whole stability of the voluntary school system by interfering now with something that may very well—and I believe in fact will—work out all right in the long-run.
Finally I come to the problem involved in what is known as " Form 18 Schools ", or, in other words, the procedure by which I have to satisfy myself as Minister that the managers of an existing voluntary school are both able and willing to carry out the commitments involved in aided status.
Let me say that on this point I have a good deal of sympathy with the Churches in the difficulties which they find in giving assurances that they will be able to meet their share of the cost of modernising their schools at what may be an uncertain point in an uncertain future. I can see their point, and I have done my best to meet it. Various statements that have been made about this problem have given the impression that this Form 18 which the managers have to complete requires a formal guarantee of the money required. This is not so. It is explicitly stated on the form that: 1929It is well understood that statements under Head 4 and 5 cannot in the nature of things attain the financial certainty of statements relating to income from endowments. They are not therefore to be regarded as guarantees. They will be read as sensible, probable and moderate estimates of the funds which it is reasonably hoped to raise.Moreover, my Department have all along set out to administer this part of the Act in as liberal and reasonable a way as possible. There is no question of using Form 18 as a means of whittling down the number of schools granted aided status, or, as some people have suggested, administering the schools out of existence.
We should also remember that the Form does not require the managers to undertake to raise large sums of capital. Managers need only show their prospects of raising, by the time it is needed, their share of the capital or of the annual charges on the capital required for modernising the school and their share of the cost of external running repairs.
§ Mr. Logan That will be without payment?
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I am coming to that later.
It may well be true that the major alterations to the school buildings will not be carried out for many years, but it seems to me that this should make it easier rather than harder for the managers to find the money when the time comes. They will, after all, have a number of years in which to collect funds, before any substantial liabilities fall due. Nevertheless, as I have said, I do see the difficulties which the Churches feel about this Form 18 and I have, therefore, proposed to them that we should administer this matter in a way which will, in my view, substantially meet the point that is made.
What I am prepared to do is to assess their ability to meet their obligations by reference to a sort of sliding scale. In other words, the criteria applied to their statement of resources on Form 18 will be progressively more lenient according to whether the work is likely to be done within two years, in under 10 years or in more than 10 years. Where the work is to be done within two years—that is to say, where the work is included in a building programme or is expected to be included in the next building programme —it is clearly reasonable that the managers should be able to find the neces- 1930 sary money to meet their share of the loan charges.
Where the work is not going to be carried out within two years but is likely to be carried out within 10 years, I propose to ask the managers for information about their prospects of raising 50 per cent. of their share of the capital charges_ In a more remote case again, where the rebuilding of the school is not likely to take place within the next 10 years, I am prepared to grant-aided status if the managers can show a reasonable prospect of being able to raise 25 per cent. of their share of the capital charges. Where a number of schools are grouped together for these purposes under a diocesan scheme, I am prepared to regard all the schools as eligible for the most favourable treatment.
Let us look at the effect of this scheme in a hypothetical case. Suppose we have a two-form entry primary school which is to be entirely rebuilt almost immediately at a cost of £80,000. Let us assume that the managers' share of this cost will be £40,000, the remainder being met by an Exchequer grant. The annual loan charges on £40,000 would be about £2,000 a year for 30 years at the present rate of interest.
It is important to realise what this annual charge of £2,000 represents as a burden on the community concerned. At a conservative estimate, a two-form entry primary school would serve a community of at least 5,000 people. The annual contribution per head of this community to meet the full loan charges on the sum of £40,000 would be only about 8s. a year. I repeat, 8s. a head a year is the charge on individual members of the Church community to cover the loan charges on a sum of £40,000 which would represent the Church's contribution to the cost of replacing a large primary school. But if the school is not to be rebuilt within the next 10 years—and this is the case with regard to the vast majority of them—the managers need only show that they can raise 25 per cent. of their share of the loan charges—that is to say, about £500 a year, or about 2s. per head for the community supporting the school.
I hardly think that burdens on this scale can be called unreasonable or intolerable in these days, and I sincerely believe that on this basis the difficulties which the Churches find in completing 1931 Form 18 Schools evaporate. At any rate, I say, let us give this system a fair trial before we risk upsetting the 1944 settlement.
Now let me come to the question of building, to which the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden made reference, and about which he asked me several questions. I have already referred to the long number of years which will inevitably pass before we can complete the vast amount of building work required by the development plans of the local education authorities. No doubt the Committee will expect me this afternoon to give some account of the educational building programme.
The first point I want to emphasise to the Committee is the rate at which the school building programme has expanded during the last three years. During 1946 the total value of educational building work started was about £7 million. Three years later, during 1949, a total of £58 million worth of work was started on the ground. That is an eight-fold increase. The most significant thing about it is that only in 1949 were the authorities able for the first time to achieve a level of activity as high as that allowed them by my Department in accordance with the national investment programme. In other words, it was not until the end of 1949 that the local authorities were able to build all that I was prepared to allow them to build.
It is important that the Committee should realise this fact, because we have heard so much about cuts in the school building programme. In fact, most of the so-called cuts which have been advertised in the Press were not cuts in any building programme in the real sense of the word, but reductions in the inflated estimates made by authorities of their capacity to carry out school building work. Up to the end of 1949, the amount of school building started in any year has been limited not so much by any restrictions imposed by the Ministry as by the capacity of the local education authorities to carry out their part of the preparatory work, and in some cases in the earlier years by shortage of materials.
I do not want it to be thought that I am blaming the authorities when I say this, because I understand fully the great difficulties which they have had to face 1932 in building up their technical and administrative staffs after the war. It may also be true that some individual local education authorities could have carried out more building work than they have been allowed to do. But over the country as a whole the position is as I have described it, and the ability of the authorities to do all the work that we were prepared to allow them to do was not reached, I repeat, until 1949.
Whatever the difficulties which have had to be faced, the school building programme has fallen short of what is needed. Of course, it has. I should be the last to say that we had all the buildings we wanted, but we have had all the buildings we could get in the circumstances and conditions. When it is suggested that we should have more school buildings, it is the duty of someone to point out to us what it is we should go short of in order to have more school buildings.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate in his speech today that, if necessary we should sacrifice buildings for a better paid teaching profession. I do not think we can afford to do that, because we want somewhere in which a well-paid profession, when we get it, will be able to teach. Do the critics of the size of the building programme want more houses, more factories and more power stations? Something has to go short if we are to have more school buildings. As I pointed out last year, I believe that in the light of the economic circumstances, for the purpose of meeting our educational programme, we have received at the hands of the Government what I consider to be not only reasonable but generous treatment.
In last year's Debate on the Education Estimates the Opposition made a big point about the selection of priorities. Of course, within the educational building programme we have all along been working to a certain scheme of priorities. We have had to recognise that the first claim on our resources must be the meeting of our statutory obligation to provide full-time schooling for all children between the ages of five and 15. This means providing a very large number of additional school places, partly for the increased numbers of children coming into the schools as a result of the higher birthrate of recent years, and partly to meet 1933 the needs of new housing estates. We have also set as one of our priority objectives the improvement of facilities for technical education.
Perhaps I may say something about each of these priorities and how we are succeeding in achieving our objectives. I hope that because I give some realistic figures I shall not be accused of complacency. The last thing anyone can accuse me of is complacency about these things. But the facts are there, and I think they ought to be given. I make no apology for being optimistic; I make no apology for presenting the programme in an optimistic and realistic way. Our figures and those of the right hon. Gentleman vary very little.
We estimate that between January, 1947, and the end of 1953 a total of about 1,150,000 new school places will be required. Towards this total we had, by the end of 1949, actually brought into use about 350,000 new places. In 1949 alone 165 new schools were brought into use, compared with 55 in 1948. To those who may quote the figures for one year as an indication of how we are reaching our target, I would point out that this work is cumulative. The local authorities did not get into their stride until 1949—if the right hon. Gentleman had taken 1948 instead of 1949, it would have shown that it would take five times as long to reach our objective.
Another 310,000 places will be provided by work actually under construction on the site at the end of 1949, or approved for a start early in 1950. The amount of work under construction at the end of last year was £70 million worth, which included 665 new schools. That gives us about 660,000 places towards the total. The programme already approved for 1950 and small jobs to be done this year will provide another 185,000 places. And so, we have a total of about 300,000 places to be started in 1951 and during part of 1952.
Looking at the country as a whole, therefore, I think there should be no great difference between the number of school places available and the number of children to be taught. But, in individual areas there may well be temporary shortages of accommodation. This will largely be due to the fact that in some areas the rate of housing development 1934 has not been sufficiently clearly foreseen, with the result that school building has lagged behind house building, and in some areas the local education authority has been less well able than others to speed up their school building programme. In some areas they have deliberately used the labour that was available for the building of houses rather than of anything else.
May I say a word now about the economies which I had to make last autumn as a contribution to the reductions in Government expenditure, which were necessary on account of the economic situation? My main object, when I had to find some savings in the educational programme last September, was to avoid slowing up progress in the main part of the programme which I have just summarised. That is why I decided that several very desirable but less essential things had to give way to the urgent need for more school places and for extension of the facilities for technical education. This is what the setting of priorities means. It means that we have to do without some things we want in order to get a greater number of those things which are essential. We could just not go on with all the things we wanted to do and at the same time maintain the momentum of the school building programme.
All the saving that was necessary in this part of the programme was achieved by getting the same number of places for less money, that is to say, by getting better value for the money. This economy drive in school building, about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke, did not begin last year. I have been working at it for quite a long time. I referred to it last year when we were discussing the Department's Estimates. In view of the shortage of time I cannot go into all the details, but I want to give the figures for 1950. We believe that, by the adoption of these new methods suggested in the building bulletins we have sent out, it will be possible to get a greater number of places for less money. If it should be asked later on why we have not done this before, I would point out that it is a result of the research that has taken place during the last three years, and that it is something which might have been thought about during the last generation.
1935 In 1949, primary schools were costing on the average £195 a place and secondary schools £320 a place. But remember that when an average is taken it follows that there are cases below the average line as well as above it. The striking fact about post-war school building is that some of the best postwar schools have been built far more cheaply than some of the poorer quality ones. In fact, reducing the cost of school building does not necessarily involve reducing standards. For 1950 the ceiling prices will be 121 per cent. lower than the 1949 average—£170 for primary and £290 for secondary. This means in practice that we shall get 170,000 places in the programme for £36 million instead of £42 million. For 1951 we are sure we can get a further saving of some 121 per cent. The ceiling prices will be £140 for primary and £240 for secondary.
With regard to the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, if it is found that these figures can be lowered without interfering with the efficiency of the building and the amenities of the school, then I should not hesitate to lower even this figure. The size of the 1951 programme has not been settled. I want to point that out because in many local newspapers accusations have been made that there has been a cut. There has been no cut because the programme has not yet been determined. What has been decided is that the authorities should be given the power to go on with the urgent part of their programme, leaving the remainder to be approved at a later date. There is no intention of economising in that direction.
The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of county colleges, and on that I should like to say a word. Everybody realises that it would be impossible in the present situation to introduce the part of the Act relating to those colleges. We have attempted to follow to some extent the lead that the right hon. Gentleman has given in industry by appealing to employers to release for part-time study the youngsters who are employed by them. I cannot find the figures at the moment, but there has been a big increase in the last two years in the numbers available. Employers more and more are seeing the benefit and advantage of it. We are utilising all the space that is available, sometimes in co- 1936 operation with the employers themselves. in order to develop this voluntary side of what may be described as further education between those ages, and we shall go on doing so because I should hate that this Clause in the Act should suffer the fate of some of the Clauses in the Fisher Act of 1918. I believe that the purpose and reality of these Clauses cal be kept alive by the development of this voluntary side.
May I say a word about advanced technological training which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. I do not want to go into it in too much detail, but as he and the Committee know I set up an influential committee to inquire into this matter. They have been going into it, and although they are not quite ready to put forward a solution to this problem, or to provide their conception of the solution, they and we realise its urgency. When I am called upon to decide the matter what I should like to put forward to the Committee is that somewhere, somehow and some way, those individuals from the workshop floor who reach the higher levels of attainment by utilising their leisure time for the purposes of study, should receive a reward that is comparable with the degree that can be obtained at a university. How that can be achieved at this stage I do not know, but surely it is a desirable objective.
I wish now to say a word about teacher training and supply, because this, next to building, is perhaps the most important thing of all. At the end of the war we had to face a situation in which the training machine, at any rate as far as men teachers were concerned, had been virtually suspended, and large numbers of elderly teachers who had remained in service beyond their normal retiring ages were about to with- draw from the schools. On the other hand, the raising of the school leaving age, the increased numbers of children to be expected as a result of the higher birth rate, and the higher standards of staffing which were demanded, all indicated the need for a considerable increase in the strength of the teaching profession as compared with the position before the war.
Fortunately it is easier to improvise a training scheme than it is to improvise a large building programme, and as a con- 1937 sequence of the Emergency Training Scheme we are, in fact, in a better position as regards the supply of teachers than we have ever been before. I think it is important that the Committee should realise this because a great deal of the publicity that is given to the shortage of teachers tends to give the impression that the situation is getting worse rather than better.
The Emergency Training Scheme has so far turned out about 20,000 men teachers and 9,500 women. By the time it ends the scheme will have produced altogether about 23,000 men and 12,000 women—a total of 35,000 teachers. Twenty-seven of the 55 colleges which were in action at the peak of the scheme are still open as emergency colleges but most of these will be closing down in the next few months and the whole scheme will be at an end in the summer of next year. It was necessary to expand the normal training machinery to provide for the greater post-war needs of the schools, and arrangements have been made to this end.
While the output of the Emergency Training Scheme was at its height the strength of the teaching profession was increasing at the rate of 8,000 to 9,000 a year. This rate of increase is neither possible nor necessary as a permanent arrangement, but the number of permanent training places has been just about doubled compared with the pre-war figure. When the Emergency Training Scheme finishes I expect that the increase in the strength of the teaching profession will continue at the rate of some 4,000 to 5,000 a year. Of the 55 emergency training colleges, 20 will have been taken over for normal two-year training colleges by this coming autumn. By this means and others the number of places in the normal training colleges has been increased to about 11,000 this autumn compared with about 5,000 before the war.
There is, I am glad to say, widespread concern about the number of over-large classes. I am really glad to say this because it means that public opinion is more alive to the necessity for what is. in my opinion, the most important of all educational reforms—a reduction in the size of classes. But it needs to be remembered that before the war the regulation maximum figures for the size of classes were 50 for elementary schools and 40 for secondary schools. Now the 1938 maximum figures are 40 for primary schools and 30 for secondary schools. It is easy to carry out a reform of this kind on paper, but not nearly so easy to achieve it in practice, especially after six years of war, when the training machine has been run down and the strength of the teaching profession has been reduced.
I hope that public opinion will remain sensitive on this point and that members of this Committee who press for a reduction in the size of classes will support the Government and the Minister of Education in finding the amount of extra money—and it will be a substantial amount—that will be needed to reduce all classes even to the maximum figures now laid down in the Regulations—and we shall need to do better than that eventually.
However, in spite of all the war-time and post-war difficulties, the ratio of teachers to children is now better than it has ever been, and the numbers of teachers are still increasing proportionately faster than the numbers of children in the schools. There are some serious difficulties in maintaining this rate of increase, which I have not time to go into this afternoon. I ought to say, however, that my plans provide for an increase in the strength of the teaching profession from the present figure of about 211,000 in primary and secondary schools to rather more than 230,000 in 1954. I would ask the Committee to compare these totals with the position as it was at the end of 1945, when the whole of the teaching profession in primary and secondary schools numbered no more than 173,500.
As a matter of fact by 1954, in nine years altogether, we shall have added something like 60,000 teachers to the sum total of teachers available. In connection with this matter there is the problem of the utilisation of more men teachers in the schools, because we have not sufficient women teachers to meet the requirements of the situation. The proportion of men to women teachers in our schools will need to be increased over what it has been, although local authorities have done well in that direction.
Finally—and I must hurry on—I would say a word about university awards. This is a question about which I know that hon. Members have received a great deal of correspondence. If they multiply their correspondence by 625 they will have 1939 some idea of my correspondence on this subject, and I have also had to answer a number of Questions about it in the House. It is natural that there should be some anxiety, now that the Further Education and Training scheme is coming to an end, lest the number of awards at the universities should fall too low to secure an adequate supply of suitable students, or that suitable students might be prevented from entering universities by lack of means.
I think that every Member of the Committee will agree that without the further education and training scheme the great expansion in the university population which has taken place since the war would not have been possible. Up to the end of 1949, my Department had made more than 83,000 awards under the scheme, of which nearly 44,000 were held at universities and university colleges. The proportion of university students receiving assistance from public funds had risen from a little over 40 per cent. before the war to about 70 per cent. The total cost of the scheme to my Department up to the end of the last financial year was more than £42 million. This is a large sum of money, but I do not think that any Member of the Committee would grudge it.
The results of the scheme, both in enabling thousands of individuals to realise their ambitions and in securing a supply of qualified men and women for the various professions, have been of incalculable value to the community. What is more, it has meant keeping faith with those people who were called up during the war when the promise was made to them that their national service would not interfere with their opportunity for university education. That is the most important thing of all.
Now the question is being asked: " Will the arrangements which will replace the Further Education and Training Scheme be adequate to maintain a university population of the post-war size?" As the Committee will remember, I appointed a working party in 1948 to consider these arrangements, and the recommendations of the working party have for the most part been accepted by the Government. Most of the letters which I have received, and I venture to say which hon. Members have received, 1940 about the arrangements for the current financial year are based upon two misunderstandings. First of all, it seems to be assumed that the state of affairs which the working party envisaged after the ending of the Further Education and Training Scheme is already upon us. This is not in fact true. This year we expect to make about 2,000 new awards under the Further Education and Training Scheme, so that there is no case for bringing into operation this year all the recommendations of the working party.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Carlton)
" This year " meaning the academic year ending at the end of July, or meaning the financial year.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
The fact that we have these 2,000 awards to make renders it unnecessary to bring into operation at this stage all the recommendations of the working party. The 2,000 awards, under the further education and training scheme, together with 1,050 State scholarships and about 1,300 supplemental awards, will exceed the recommended number of State and open scholarships which the working party regarded as a reasonable total for the period after the Further Education and Training Scheme had completely closed down.
Another point where the present situation differs from that envisaged by the working party concerns the four-year grants for intending teachers. The calculations of the working party were based on the assumption that the four-year grants would be abolished. They will be abolished, and I personally hope they will be abolished fairly soon, but this year they will continue to exist to the number of some 1,300. This must be borne in mind in considering how far the university population will be maintained under present arrangements.
The second important misunderstanding in most of the letters I have received is based on the assumption that the figure of 7,000 local authority awards recommended by the working party is a maximum. The working party's calculations, as the Committee may remember, were based on an annual intake into the universities and university colleges of about 16,000 students from England and 1941 Wales. From this number the working party deducted the number of students which they thought would either obtain assistance from trust funds and other private sources or would be ineligible for grants from public funds. They put this figure at 5,000, but it was always recognised that it could only be an estimate. This left a balance of 11,000 awards, made up by 4,000 from State and supplemented open awards and 7,000 from local authority awards.
If the figure of 5,000 students requiring no grants from public funds should prove to he an over-estimate, there is provision for the number of local authority awards to increase. In fact, I am glad to be able to announce that the local education authorities and the universities have recently worked out together a procedure which is based on the principle that students accepted and recommended by universities who are otherwise eligible shall be considered for local authority awards without any limit on the numbers.
This is a great advance on anything that has existed before, and I think the local education authorities generally deserve to be congratulated on the fact that already the figure of more than 7,000 has been reached. It is very encouraging that more than half of the local education authorities have adopted the new financial basis for awards recommended by the working party and adopted by my Department for State scholarships. Considering that the administrative memorandum recommending this change to the local education authorities was only issued six months ago I do not think it is bad going that more than 50 per cent. of the authorities have responded. I hope that the remainder who have not responded will do so, for this reason, that two individuals in the same university from two different authorities may find it difficult to understand why one of them should be penalised by his allowances being not so great as the other's.
There remains only one question on which I want to say a word—or rather not to say a word—and that is teachers' salaries. I know that other Members of the Committee will probably want to speak about it. It is laid down in the Act that the negotiating body is the Burnham Committee. The teachers have given notice to that committee that the agreement under which they are working 1942 will end next year. I know that the Burnham Committee will be meeting shortly to thrash out this problem. Therefore I can say nothing about it, except that last year, on his appointment to the Governorship of Ceylon, Lord Soulbury resigned from the Chairmanship of the Burnham Committee. I am now glad to be able to announce to this Committee—this is only a nomination, as the appointment has to be made by the Burnham Committee—that I have nominated Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve as the new Chairman of the Burnham Committee. I know that hon. Members of this Committee will join with me in wishing him success in his work.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Oakshott (Bebington)
Rising to make my maiden speech, I hope that the Committee will accord to me that indulgence and kindness which hon. Members have so generously shown to others who have gone before me. I approach this rather frightening ordeal with all the more trepidation when I remember the very high standard of the speeches of other hon. Members who have gone before me. I will remember the Chairman's request, and be brief.
There are only two matters in connection with this very wide subject which I want to mention. Both have been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and the Minister. They are matters in which there is undoubtedly hardship and where there might well be injustice. One was the last point mentioned by the Minister, the question of teachers' salaries—the rewards which the teaching profession get for their work. I feel that there is among large sections of this great profession a sense of grievance and a feeling that their remuneration is' entirely out of line with that of other professions, of the salaried members of the community and of the industrial workers. Upward adjustments to meet, in some measure, the rising cost of living have been made for others but these people have lagged behind.
As my right hon. Friend said, men and' women enter this profession because they have a genuine call for it, and, if they are to fulfil their great task of providing proper education for our children, of giving our children the right outlook and of bringing them up to take their full place in our society. it is essential that 1943 the teachers should feel that they are being treated fairly in comparison with their fellow citizens. I do not think that we can say that that feeling is generally held at the present time, and if we are to secure the men and women of really high quality for this great profession, as we must, we have to show that it offers both a status and a scale of remuneration which compares fairly with other sections of the community and that where hardship, real or comparative, exists, sympathetic consideration will be given to the alleviation of it.
I will give the Committee two examples of what I have in mind. I know of a young man, a former draftsman, who is now a schoolmaster. He is aged 27 and is married and has one child. His monthly cheque, after deduction of tax, insurance contribution, and superannuation, is just over £26. If he had remained a draftsman it would be over £32. I know another case of a young man of 30 who was formerly a senior administrative officer in the Royal Air Force. He is married and has a child. His gross monthly cheque now as a school teacher is £35 2s. If he had remained in the Royal Air Force it would be between £60 and £70.
The importance of restraint in demands and expenditure—the Government should not be excluded from that—is well known, but it is a fact that the remuneration of teachers has not kept pace with the general rise in earnings. I believe it to be right to say that between 1938 and 1948 the income of the average wage-earner rose by about 94 per cent. while the income of schoolmasters rose by something between 52 per cent. in some cases and a maximum of only 65 per cent. in others, which leaves schoolmasters both relatively and actually very much worse off having regard to the rise in the cost of living.
I do not believe that these are the conditions under which we can expect to attract the very best people into this honourable calling. We have the negotiating instrument of the Burnham Committee, and I do not for a moment suggest that we should upset it—it is perfectly true that the parties are bound until April next year—but I believe that this is a case which merits serious and urgent consideration, and I feel that many in the teaching 1944 profession think that this is all very remote and all rather slow, whereas their need is immediate. I believe that the Minister could hurry up the operation of the Burnham Committee now, and I hope that he will give serious thought to it.
As to the question of economy, I know how difficult this is, but I sometimes wonder whether there are not sums individually small but large in the aggregate now being spent in which saving could be effected. For example, the Minister might think it worth while to have an examination made into the price now being paid for some of the material and equipment for our schoolrooms. We could expect these to be higher than they were before the war, but when we see increases in almost every item from penholders and blotting paper to notebooks and monthly return forms of anything from 200 per cent. to 1,500 per cent., one begins to suspect that here is an avenue of possible saving, even if only a small one, which could be explored.
I should like to say a word about a subject which has been in the minds of so many of us, that of the voluntary schools. To follow my right hon. Friend, I believe that these schools have an absolutely vital place in our national life. I do not think we can do without them. No one could help feeling a deep and sincere admiration for the work they do, for the standard of education which they produce and for the outlook which they give to our children. I believe that parents are entitled to ask that their children should be educated and brought up by people with like views to their own. I also believe that the religious beliefs of parents should play a prominent part in the school life of the children.
As my right hon. Friend and the Minister have said, it would obviously be wrong to treat any one denomination or church in isolation. All the voluntary schools must be treated alike. I should be sorry to see the settlement in the 1944 Act upset, for that settlement, as has been said, was arrived at as the result of the united efforts of all parties under the wise guidance of my right hon. Friend. Nevertheless, it is true to say that since that settlement was made there has been a fantastic and, I still believe, unforeseen rise in the cost of building which has made the figures envisaged in the settlement completely unreal. If the building 1945 under the various development plans were carried out at the present level of costs the position of many voluntary schools would become impossible and in many cases the managers would be so placed that they could not possibly apply for aided status, and there would be a risk that the schools would lose their independence and freedom, which I should regard as a disaster.
It is obvious that a very great deal of this building cannot be carried out at the moment, and probably cannot be carried out for many years, but under this Form 18, which it has been said this afternoon has been modified, the managers have to indicate now their willingness and ability to find the money which, in any case, they would not have to spend for a very considerable time. That seems to me to be unfair. They are asked to commit themselves to a debt which today is crippling, but which in days to come could be and would be lessened by a further reduction in building standards, if that is possible, and as time goes on, as I believe, a drop in the cost of building. I hope very much indeed that, after we have had an opportunity to study in detail the information about the modification of this Form, which the Minister announced this afternoon, we shall find that it will ease the grievous burden which lies upon the managers of so many voluntary schools and will help to safeguard the future position of these schools in our country.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
The hon. Member for Bebington (Mr. Oakshott) has just concluded what is notoriously an ordeal, although he showed no sign that he was passing through an ordeal as he spoke. I am sure that he has endeared himself to the House by revealing at once the two qualities which are especially calculated to endear anyone to both sides of the House; the first was brevity and the second was clarity of utterance. I am in a singularly happy position, in heartily congratulating him, for in such a position it is not everyone who can say with sincerity, as I can say, that he finds himself in agreement with almost every word of the speech. It must be rather a privilege to one who passes these congratulations to be able to say that. It almost reconciles us to the temporary loss of our Solicitor-General.
1946 I always address the Committee with genuine diffidence, but I address it with even more diffidence today because I am embarking on a somewhat uncharted political sea, and I do not regard myself as one who has had a very high standard of education. We hear in these Debates much about suffering from overcrowded schools, but I suffered from a singular form of overcrowding; I had the privilege of going to a good school, now a very much better school, but when I was 15 years of age the headmaster wrote to my parents and told them that he had come to the conclusion that there was not even room in the school for the two of us. He added, in the best of good humour, that he had decided to stay, and I lost the chance of ever completing an education and had to drift into those avenues, like law and politics, open generally to people without any capability for a steady and industrious contribution to the world.
I gained some experience later, because, when I was 22, I was made a governor of the same school, with the same headmaster, and then I had a much fuller and freer opportunity of discussing those technical defects in the administration of the school which had been impressed upon my mind seven years before. I was also a member of the county council education committee, which made very marked contribution in those days on the question of the agreed syllabus, and I had the privilege of gaining some experience in these matters.
There are one or two points to which I should like to refer before coming to the subject to which I intend to devote most of my limited time. First, on the question of teachers' salaries, I think it is manifest in all parts of the Committee that there is very real disquiet about this question. We accept what the Minister said—that the Burnham Committee is there, that application is made, and that really nothing can be done until the Burnham Committee have sat to consider the matter; and that, therefore, in a sense, perhaps any sort of agitation by us would really be unfair to the Tribunal which has to consider the question.
But even after my own warning to myself, I must say that one views this situation with genuine disquiet, that salaries have fallen out of all proportion to those of many other occupations and that 1947 the difference between the qualified man occupying a key job, and a responsible job, and one who is not is surprisingly low. We on this side of the House have often urged the necessity for a wages policy. Of course, one cannot have a wages policy without a profits policy and, as you would observe, Sir Charles, with your usual accuracy, a profits policy is right outside the terms of the Debate today, and I cannot pursue that line.
There is one other matter I want to refer to the Minister today and it is the question of the call-up of students who intend to qualify for the teaching profession. The first point, and the first real difficulty, is this: an 18–months' period of compulsory service means that the poor student will have some six months' complete halt in his life of no use to him and no use to anybody else—the six months when he is waiting. Unfortunately, his call-up is so worked that it is frequently 18 months and not six months, because he has no means of being certain of getting admission to the appropriate training college. He is accepted provisionally for the university without knowing whether he will finally get to the university, and there is very real hardship caused to parents and students by this aspect of the matter. I think administratively that could be overcome; I think it would be possible to arrange for some training colleges to end their academic year at one time in the year and for others to end at another time. If my right hon. Friend talked with his customary persuasiveness to the Minister of Defence I think he could get a little more concession out of him in cases where a man has only a few weeks to go to complete his service.
But that is not the end of the matter. What are these people being called up for at all? What are they being conscripted for? They will not be called up in the event of war; they will be in an exempted occupation, so that there is really no point at all in calling up these students. I put it to the Committee—and this is a view which I am sure is shared on all sides, although we find it so difficult to put into practice—that money spent on education is every bit as important as, indeed is much more important than. money spent on defence. Indeed, money spent on religious education is a very 1948 effective form of defence, because if the ethical concepts were spread more widely we might have a most vital means of avoiding war.
I feel that this is a matter to which the Minister should direct his attention for I cannot see the purpose of calling these people up for military service at all. I have no objection to military service as such, although I know that some of my hon. Friends have. My own son is at the moment a conscript in the Royal Air Force and I believe he is getting as good an education there as he got anywhere else in the course of his life, but I cannot see the use of calling up these students in circumstances like this unless it is intended that ultimately and in certain circumstances it shall serve a useful purpose.
§ Mr. Hale
I have no idea, but I am quite sure the Minister knows.
I want to turn to a point which no doubt will occupy a good deal of this debate. I entirely agreed with the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) when he said that we should be discussing the content of education. I would most heartily and cordially agree that if we could set apart a whole day for the discussion of that limited subject it would be a wise thing. We on this side of the Committee would urge that there could be no more useful discussion. It seems to me that the problem to which the right hon Member for Saffron Walden devoted part of his time, and to whose comments my right hon. Friend replied, is one which is exercising the minds of so many of us at the moment, and it is one to which we have a duty to apply our minds. It is, of course, the subject of the denominational schools.
I do not want to introduce for a moment a note of controversy into this discussion. I am most reluctant to do so, for I feel that anyone who introduces any controversy into this discussion is serving no useful purpose. I want to deal quite briefly, however, with the historical aspect of it, because I do not understand why there should be reference to the 1944 " settlement " at all or to the 1944 "agreement" at all. There never was an agreement and there never was a settlement. I seem to see a look of incredulity 1949 on the face of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education at that time and who shared with the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden the credit for that very fine Measure.
The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden referred to the history of this matter. Before 1870 all schools were voluntary schools and the pioneer work in education was done in the denominational schools. Then, there was that 32 years break during which no assistance of any kind was given, and then we came to the Act of 1902. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will forgive my drawing his attention to it, for he frequently refers to it as the 1902 settlement. Dr. Clifford and his followers never regarded the 1902 Act as a settlement of the matter, as the whole history of the period of passive resistance will show, and there is no more ground for suggesting, as far as the denominational schools are concerned, that there was a settlement in 1944 than there are for suggesting that there was a settlement in 1902.
The opinion of this House in this matter was taken in 1923. The Resolution that was then passed was by no means an unimportant Resolution. It was to this effect:That the present system of imposing upon the Catholics of England …I want to say at once that in dealing with this matter I am speaking for nobody. I have no direct personal interest in this matter. I represent a constituency in which there are a large number of members of the Churdh of England, a large number of Nonconformists and a large number of Roman Catholics, spread about equally, I should think, amongst the constituency. I was first approached about this matter during the recent election by representatives of the Church of England, who were gravely distressed about it, and since then I have had information from the Catholics. It may well be that some of the information which I put today may be based primarily upon the Catholic case, just as the case of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden was based primarily upon the Church of England case—I presume, for the very simple and sane reason that that is the source from which a good deal of information has come to each.
1950 The Motion was:That the present system of imposing upon the Catholics of England the burden of building their own schools is contrary to religious and economic equality, and that the system of complete educational equality existing in Scotland should, with the necessary changes, be adopted in England."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th April, 1923; Vol. 162, c. 2200.]That Motion was carried nemine contradicente in 1923. It was moved by Mr. T. P. O'Connor, himself a Catholic, of course, and a very popular and highly respected Member of the House. It was seconded by Mr. Sidney Webb, a name that, I think, can be heard with very great respect on this side of the House and one which would hardly be likely to be associated with any Motion without very careful consideration and thought.
Then came the 1936 Act. I intervened in the speech of my right hon. Friend to say that that Act certainly had altered the position. There was a vagueness about the 1936 Act, and the Committee will remember that Liverpool came along for a special Bill to remove that vagueness, because authorities were saying that they did not have to contribute the 50 per cent. or the 75 per cent. as provided by the Act.
Then there came the 1944 Act. I have read carefully the long Debates, stretching over, I think, 21 days; I did not have the privilege of being here. It is right, first of all, that we should remember the atmosphere in which those discussions took place. The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden was introducing a Measure which was almost universally welcomed, which had many acts of generosity for denominational schools, and which he presented with very great ability, obviously with sincerity, and with the enthusiasm with which he spoke today; and he was supported by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
There was talk of challenging Divisions time after time, and of votes of confidence in the Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill); but there was a war on and there was a real desire not to challenge Divisions. But it is perfectly certain that time after time speakers on all sides of the House, if there were sides in those days in that sense, urged that there had been no acceptance of the position so far as the denominational schools were concerned. I culled from the eloquence of 1951 my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
I take it that the hon. Member is advocating some change in the law.
§ Mr. Hale
I am about (1) to express approval of the proposals made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education so far as Form 18 schools are concerned; (2) to ascertain from him what administrative changes can be effected to cover certain matters that I desire to put; (3) to make it quite clear, to follow up my argument, that there has been an inaccuracy about talking of a settlement or agreement in 1944; and (4) to voice a certain amount of pious aspiration, which I will not too fully particularise in view of the possibility of being out of Order.
I am well aware that this particular flower which I cull from the oratory of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works will, perhaps, be met with more enthusiasm on the other side of the Committee than on this side. It may be held either as showing his prescience or that he entertained unnecessary forebodings. My right hon. Friend, in voicing some doubts about the future, said:We do not know what the future holds. We are not quite sure about the Government, and future Governments. There may be all sorts of funny people at that Box.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th April, 1944; Vol. 398, c. 1920.]I am sure that hon. Gentlemen who took part in that discussion will know that what I am saying is abundantly true, that time after time my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works and others threatened to challenge Divisions on this matter. There was talk of Divisions, there were pleas for alterations and concessions and, indeed, the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden from time to time undertook to consider matters and to report.
I want to be quite fair about this. I do not suggest for a moment that the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden did not make his position abundantly clear, or that he did not set it out quite fairly and did not make it clear in the end that the particular concessions 1952 which were asked for were not to be given. But I do not think that my right hon. Friend was completely fair in his account of the matter. I know, however, that he cut out many passages of his speech and that, therefore, in compressing it he may have missed out matters of importance.
The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden based his financial arguments on a computed increase of 35 per cent. over pre-war in building costs for school places. So far as I remember, the figure of the cost of school places before the war was about £50—my right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong; and a 35 per cent. increase on that means about £17, bringing it up to £67. Today, my right hon. Friend is talking about a figure of £170; in other words, an increase of eight times as much. Even if it is true that a Division was not finally challenged or that unanswered pleas went out, it is abundantly clear that an increase of eight times in the burden on a voluntary organisation is a burden that that voluntary organisation cannot bear.
I am not for a moment challenging the provisions of the 1944 Act or the decision to carry on with the dual schools. Indeed, I feel that some of my hon. Friends on this side who disagree with me on this matter forget that the dual position is accepted; that the arguments against a dual position are now archaic and have gone. However sincerely those views may have been held—and there was something to be said for them—those arguments have gone. We now have the position of the acceptance of the dual school.
The second argument which is put so often is that, after all, the State is paying such an enormous percentage of the cost that the remaining percentage is re latively of no importance. But if it is of no importance in that respect, it is of no importance in respect of the Budget. It would mean, so far as the State is concerned, assuming only a comparatively small increased burden to deal with this problem. The burden which the State may legitimately bear may be a very heavy burden for a community of something like 2,500,000 of His Majesty's citizens to bear, particularly when, as I think is generally accepted, in general they are not among the most wealthy members of the community.
1953 The right hon. Member for Saffron Walden talked in the concluding stage of the 1944 debate about a figure of from £9 million to £10 million. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Works talked about £10 million. This figure is now somewhere from £50 million to £80 million, and it is a fantastic increase. Over the years between the wars, the whole cost of education to the Catholic community was of the order of about £3,500,000 over 25 years. These figures are so out of proportion that they are inconceivable. They raise a problem, not merely for the Catholic or Anglican community, but a very real problem for the educational policy of the Government; because if we are in a position in which we cannot carry out a policy, a position in which it is impossible to do so, it is exceedingly difficult to see what can be done without some alteration.
I would just like to say one or two other things, if I may, to my right hon. Friend. He has today announced substantial concessions—I think that they are very substantial—in respect of Form 18 schools. I am sure that announcement will be very welcome. I have to admit frankly that I did not follow altogether clearly in my mind precisely what those concessions amount to. As I understand the matter—I hope my right hon. Friend will correct me if I am wrong—Form 18 schools are the whole of the schools in respect of which applications for maintenance and repair grants are concerned. Do I understand that those same concessions apply to replacements?
§ Mr. Tomlinson
Form 18 applies to all schools. Form 18 is the form under which aided status is granted.
§ Mr. Hale
I am very much obliged to my right hon. Friend. Although it is impossible at this short notice to compute the magnitude of that concession, it is obviously a large one and one which will be very greatly valued.
I have taken more time than I wanted and I apologise, but I must mention one 1954 other question. That is the new school, what my right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) called " the brand new school." We have never had a definition of the brand new school and do not know what it is.
I have quoted the case of Corby. That is a very special problem. The Committee are well aware that in Scotland none of these questions arises. Catholics pay their taxes, Catholics pay their rates and Catholics have their schools, but in Corby, where a great new town has been erected since about 1934 and where there are thousands of Catholic parents who have come to work at the great new steel plant from all over Britain and many from Scotland and from Northern Ireland, the necessity arises to build a school and because they have not all come from the same place there is no grant at all. When the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden introduced these proposals, and made them perfectly clear, I do not think any of us could quite visualise the sort of redistribution of population and of industry which has taken place as a result of war and that the problem would arise on quite so large a scale. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider this particular aspect of the matter.
I sincerely hope that no one is talking of voting on this issue tonight. It is quite clear that negotiations are taking place and my right hon. Friend has most carefully considered the matter and is really trying his best to find a full and complete solution. I am told that although there were the fullest and most complete consultations with the Church of England and the Free Church Council and with the Catholic hierarchy, never in the course of those negotiations—I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden will correct me if I am wrong—never until now have all the people interested in the denominational schools been brought together round one table. There is still the problem of the single school area. [Interruption.] I think it a very good thing that we are discussing this matter in a different atmosphere, very different from that even of 1944 and certainly very different from that of 30 years ago. It is certainly a different atmosphere when I as an agnostic, and an avowed agnostic, can put a plea for religious tolerance and religious freedom in a way which will be 1955 accepted by most hon. Members in this House interested in this problem. I suggest that my right hon. Friend could do a great deal of good if he gathered round the table all those interested in denominational schools for a free, full and frank discussion to endeavour to find an agreed solution to this difficult problem.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Viscountess Davidson (Hemel Hempstead)
When the Butler Act became law, it received the approval of the whole House and most of the country. It was regarded as a great Measure showing vision and imagination. It was a longterm plan and, in view of the position after the war, no one expected that it would be put into operation immediately in its entirety, but we all hope to see built upon it a complete system of education worthy of our great country.
I do not believe that the administration of the Act has been given the careful consideration which it needed. There has been too great haste in some matters and too much slowness in others. First, local authorities have been urged to push forward and the next moment retrenchment has been the order of the day. How can plans be made that are efficient and economical when there are continual changes? The position of the local authorities has been difficult and not altogether satisfactory.
We all realise that teaching is a very great profession. Not only is it a profession but it is a calling and a vocation, and the influence of the teacher cannot be measured because it lasts through the whole of the life of the individual and can result in good or bad. It is obviously true that the responsibility for the child is first of all that of the parent, but the teacher comes next. The combination of the two should be very close, but sometimes it is true that the teacher has the greatest influence. The moulding of the character of the child is in the teacher's hands and for that reason we must be able to call on the best men and women to come forward. We must be able to attract the right kind of teacher.
I have great sympathy with the claims of the teachers today. They are not well paid. I do not believe that the majority of the teachers really think first of money. They think first of their profession and 1956 of their calling, but they must live. They must keep up a high standard. They must look nice, they must set an example, they must have a certain position in the locality where they live and they must be able to keep up decent homes. They cannot do that if financial worries are overwhelming them as they are today.
I hope to see, one day before too long. equal pay for men and women doing the same work. Many of us are very anxious about the elder children who, since the raising of the school-leaving age, have stayed on until the age of 15. Many thousands have not been occupied and have wasted much of their time. That is not the fault of the teachers. The classes are too large and we all know that children of over 14 require quite different handling and teaching from those under 14. Many parents have expressed their anxiety. It is an age when these children want to be fully occupied and kept constantly interested. It is a very real and serious problem, and one which at present I do not see being solved. It is obviously impossible for teachers to keep that personal touch with the children as the classes are today.
I suggest that there are certain improvements which could be made in the conditions under which teachers work. The rooms in which they rest and the sanitary arrangements and so on may appear to be small things, but they matter and could make a great difference. If we cannot have new buildings, there are some comforts which could be introduced into the old buildings.
I wish to say one or two words about the teaching of religion. No country can survive unless it is founded on religion. I sometimes fear that we are becoming a pagan country. This trend must be stopped. We must give our children the religious upbringing and background which is their right. We all realise that in the Church schools—Established, Free and Roman Catholic—religion plays a bigger part in the life and in the teaching of the schools than is the case in the State schools. We are very anxious about the position of these schools in view of the immense rise in the cost of building today. In his speech the Minister has shown a sympathetic attitude towards the problem. We all appreciate the difficulties of those who have to raise the necessary money 1957 and we very much hope that the concessions he has made may ease their burdens.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) mentioned the problem of the village schools. Those of us who represent county constituencies are very anxious when we see these village schools closing. The parents do not like their small children travelling many miles; it tires them and they are not able to obtain the best results. I am fully aware of the argument that better teaching may be given in the larger schools, but I believe that the village school plays an important part in the life of the village, and that with the right kind of village teacher it can be a great influence for good upon those children. We do not want to see those schools being closed if it can be avoided.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
Surely the noble Lady is aware that many of these village schools' are a standing disgrace to the village and to the nation?
§ Viscountess Davidson
I am fully aware of that, but I also know that many of them are extremely good, and that even though the building may sometimes be bad, the influence of the master, the surroundings and other factors have played a very important part, and have not only influenced the children for good but have been a benefit to the village. I do not want to see them removed except when it is absolutely essential.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden mentioned Hertfordshire in connection with new buildings. I am glad to be able to claim that in my county the education authorities have done a good job of work. They built their schools not singly but as a mass operation. They bought their materials in quantities more cheaply than—indeed well below—the maximums laid down by the Ministry of Health. They omitted the frills from their designs and substituted colour for architectural features. I was present at the opening of one of their new schools the other day. I hope that the Minister has had an opportunity of seeing some.
§ Viscountess Davidson
I was more than impressed by the beauty and simplicity of the whole building. I feel that our education authorities are much to 1958 be congratulated on what they have achieved. They have been so successful that in their 1950 programme, which will begin next year, the cost per place will be £140, which is £30 below the maximum laid down by the Ministry of Education. I am glad to have heard the Minister say that he has informed other local authorities of what Hertfordshire has done.
I wish to ask the Minister a question which has already been put to him, and which I am sure will be repeated again and again in this Debate. What are the Ministry doing about the bulge in the birth rate in 1956, by which time there will be 200,000 more grammar school children, of whom 100,000 will be girls? These will require 2,000 more grammar school mistresses. What steps is the Ministry taking to see that women are being trained by the universities, because that action must be taken now? At the present time the annual output of the universities is 2,000 women, and the 2,000 more required by 1956 will be additional. This is a vital matter and should be regarded as being one of urgency. I do not think the same problem arises in regard to men, but I know that great anxiety exists with regard to the number of women needed to be trained and ready for that year.
I should like to end by quoting from a short article which I read last night:Education is not the assimilation of facts but the establishment of strength of spirit and mind. Education authorities get bogged in a mass of detail—' plans' time tables, travelling fares, grants for school uniform—and too seldom ask themselves what is this huge educational structure for? What are the principles on which all our teaching must be based? It may not be possible to mould the world into which our children grow up, but it is possible to give them honour, courage, ideals of truth with which to face the world.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
I am glad to have the opportunity of taking part in this Debate. I intend to deal with the single point of the position of the denominational schools and with the arrangements which have now been announced by my right hon. Friend. This is a non-party matter, and it is at the same time a matter of quite crucial importance for the whole life of the nation. There was one great danger implicit in the 1944 Act. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale) objects, I think rightly, to reference 1959 to a 1944 " settlement." The danger which seems to me to be implicit in that Act is the danger that denominational schools might be squeezed out of existence. Once the principle is agreed upon in this country that the State cannot carry.the whole burden of financing the denominational schools it follows inevitably that there must be some provision in the relevant statutes, such as the provision which appears in the 1944 Act, providing that if the Minister is satisfied that the managers or governors of a voluntary school are unable to meet their obligations those managers or governors are under a duty to ask for an order which will revoke the order giving them aided status.
That provision expresses the danger which is implicit in that Act, because the aided school or the voluntary school is confronted by the dilemma that if it cannot pay, if it cannot meet the cost, it must submit to control. I believe that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will agree that is an inherently dangerous and unsatisfactory situation, and that they will desire to do all that is possible to alleviate the consequences of that dilemma. The point was clearly recognised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), who said in the course of the Debate on the Second Reading of the 1944 Act:I would ask those who feel deeply to dismiss from their minds the wholly unwarrantable view that the Government desire either to tear away church schools from unwilling managers or to force them inhumanely out of business."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1944; Vol. 396, c. 229.]One appreciates that sentiment, but that is exactly what is beginning to happen. They are being inhumanely forced out of business. In dealing with a non-party point of this kind, I have no hesitation in saying that there are many hon. Members on both sides of this Committee who on grounds of deepest principle are greatly alarmed at what is occurring, and at the danger that these voluntary schools might be inhumanely forced out of business.
The total cost to the Roman Catholic community of meeting the expected requirements of the national plan, when it was estimated in 1944, was put at £10 million. The estimate now is that the sum involved will be much nearer £60 million. It is true that there was no 1960 commitment by anyone at the time of the 1944 Act. It was recognised that the making of an estimate was a difficult matter, that prices might rise very considerably. But having studied the position although I was not then a Member of this House, I take the view that, on the whole, the governing expectation was that there was not to be a very remarkable rise in building costs. There is one significant passage in a speech made in Committee by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden on 4th April, 1944, when he said—and I think this is an interesting passage:I think it would be very unwise to take too pessimistic a view of what building costs are likely to be when the whole scheme is brought into operation, in stages, three or four years after the war."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 4th April, 1944; Vol. 398, col. 1916.]There is the right hon. Gentleman with, no doubt, no better opportunity of making an estimate than anyone else, but none the less distinctly indicating that it is his impression that one could be too pessimistic about the rise in building costs. What of course has happened in fact is that these costs have risen beyond all recognition.
What is the inference which I venture to draw from these factors? It is out of order for me to raise any question of amending legislation, but the inference which I seek to draw, which I submit is relevant to this Debate this afternoon, is that it is reasonable, because of these circumstances to which I have drawn attention, to ask that my right hon. Friend should, within the fabric of the Act, make every concession that is administratively possible to help these schools; and that is what we are asking him to do. I would emphasise that that is being asked from both sides of the Committee. I am extremely glad to acknowledge the assistance he has already given today upon these matters. The passages in his speech in which he referred to the changes which have been made in the building regulations, the changes in the treatment of Form 18 and the new procedure in regard to the Form 18 schools—although I share the difficulty of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hale) in immediately grasping fully the implications—would appear to constitute very substantial benefits and advantages; and we are distinctly grateful for that.
1961 That and no other is the purpose of my intervention; to remind my right hon. Friend the Minister of how much we look to him to deal with these matters with all the latitude which the Act can give him and to make all the concessions to the voluntary and aided schools which he can within the fabric of the Act. What we are here discussing is a matter of fundamental principle. It is a matter of quite crucial importance and what so many of us are afraid of is that a settlement, which appeared at the time on the whole to be fair enough, is becoming, as a consequence of unforeseen rises in building costs, an injustice. Let there be no place quicker to detect injustice, and having detected it, quicker to stamp it out, than this House of Commons.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Deedes (Ashford)
I, too, must begin by claiming the indulgence of the House on this the first occasion I have addressed it, and I have a feeling that this afternoon I should best earn that indulgence by using even less than the traditional allowance of time given to a maiden speech.
I wish to add to what has already been said on this very difficult subject of the status, the morale and the remuneration of the teaching profession itself. I combine those three things, status, morale, and remuneration, because they seem to me inseparable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) said that this would be capable of no easy solution and no hon. Member should go into details. That is not my intention this afternoon. The Minister of Education was quite right when he said that he was on very delicate ground. But he did say that last year. The Minister will always be on delicate ground on this matter in relation to the Burnham Committee, but that should not prevent some of us from expressing the very deep feeling which there is on this subject at the present time.
Without going into details, I want to touch upon what seemed to me to be three of the fundamental considerations in relation to the teaching profession. First of all, as I think is generally agreed, and as has been said at least once this afternoon, the financial status of the teachers in relation to the wage-earning community has fallen since the war. I do not think that there will be any disagreement in this Committee on that 1962 point. I stress the qualification " wage earner." The term " salary " in this country sometimes becomes a euphemistic term for a wage; but the fact remains that a man receiving £350 a year is not noticeably better off than a man getting £7 a week. Though I must not touch on detail, I would suggest in all seriousness that it might be a considerable benefit to the teachers if their salary scales were expressed in terms of a weekly wage, rather than an annual salary, so that the community would get a better sense of what in effect the teachers are paid.
Secondly, there is some need to redress the balance between those who ordained this great plan which we all have at heart and those who are required to execute it. In the programme of expansion envisaged by the 1944 Act, as I see it, success or failure will in the long run depend upon the teaching profession itself. The human factor, the teacher factor, is fundamental. I believe we may plan and plan, and be doomed to failure, unless we consider the people who must execute this plan in detail.
The third consideration I wish to stress is that, as the status of teachers tends to increase. As the terms of this Act unfold, as education widens, as vocational education increases and scientific education develops, more and more is expected of the teachers of this country; not only of their technical abilities, but their personal qualifications, their personalities, and so on.
Those seem to me to be serious and fundamental considerations in this matter. I omit all the factors affecting human need; the plight of married teachers, the need today for self-imposed overtime among many of them, the decline of those who hold first and second degrees—and I do not think the Minister would dispute that there would be such a decline—and the rival claims of industry. However, when we come to seek to improve these conditions we come up against the brick wall of economic expediency.
I am fully aware that if this were not a maiden speech I would probably be assailed when I sit down, and it would be pointed out to me that while stressing the need of economy in other directions, I am putting forward plans which must involve additional expenditure. But I still think one is entitled to refer to the direction of a policy which tends now to develop with- 1963 out sufficient sense of priorities. My point is that an insufficient priority has been given to the profession and I do not think it is fair that we should now seek to evade our responsibilities to these people simply on the grounds of economic expediency, the wage freeze, and so on. I feel that one is entitled to accept the global figure contained in these Estimates and still to suggest that the teachers' share of it is not as great as it should be and, further, that unless that share is increased, a great deal of the global figure under discussion this afternoon will ultimately be wasted.
I am not sure that when this matter comes to be considered—and I am still dealing only with the broad principle—an all-round increase will be found to be a lasting solution. There does seem to be a case particularly for a new system of differentials something based on human qualities and abilities as well as length of service and paper qualifications. Difficult though it is, and will be, to work out, I feel that that is the only way, without enormous expenditure, in which we will attract the quality and the ability which this profession needs and will need increasingly in the years to come.
It is essential that greater consideration be given in future to the career aspect of the teaching profession, and that we should not count merely upon the instinct of the profession to regard this as a high calling—an instinct which is never lacking in our people. We cannot trade for ever on that instinct. It may well be that we have traded too long on the selfless instincts of a great profession. I was glad to hear the reassurance the Minister gave on this subject. But, whatever the statistics—and I do not think that he will deny this—the fall into quality and quantity needed for this profession is undeniable, and the erosion of their professional morale is certainly rather alarming. I believe that quantity, quality and professional morale, will, in the long run, be found to be the foundations of all upon which we seek to build and that, if we ignore those foundations, we shall build in vain.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)
It falls to my lot to follow the maiden speech of 1964 the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), and I am sure that I can offer my sincere congratulations to him. As I. look across the Committee and see his hair without a speck of grey and think of my own, it makes me wish that I could. have made my maiden speech one-tenth as well as he made his, when my hair was not perhaps his colour but when it was without the streaks of grey which it has now. I am sure that we all look forward to hearing him again on many occasions in our Debates.
When my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education was speaking, especially. when he referred to the building programme and spoke of what had been accomplished, it brought to my mind my reflections at Easter when the professional organisations connected with education were holding their conferences and we, had a number of speeches which presented a doleful picture of what had been accomplished in building and in many other aspects. I felt then that we all begin our social career with one ideal uppermost in our minds, and that we tend to make that ideal particular and exclusive of other ideals. One of the first lessons which I learned when I came to this House was that my particular ideal clashed with the ideals of a number of other people. We must re-assess our ideals and make one integrated whole of them.
My own experience this week is an indication of that fact. On Monday and Tuesday I saw deputations from my own town council, of which I am still a member. We discussed the housing question. I am a member of the education committee of that council. This year we have let contracts for three new schools. The people who are to build those schools are contractors who have been building houses for us for the last three or four years. Those contractors are no longer interested in building houses. Now we face the problem that the building of three schools this year will mean a drop in our housing programme of between 50 and 100 houses.
That is a problem with which I imagine almost every constituency is faced. We must decide, in a time of scarcity of resources what is to be the order of priority. In deciding that, we must also remember that we must keep the larger 1965 picture in our minds all the time. In spite of all the difficulties with which we have had to contend, we have made real and substantial progress in all fields of education in the last five years. My right hon. Friend said that at the end of 1949 we had 665 schools in process of construction. Unless the figures which I have looked up are wrong, that is more than we built in the whole of the seven years 1918–19 to 1924–25, when we built 542 new schools in England and Wales.
The best year that we had before the war was 1937–38, when I believe that £14,500,000 worth of building construction was approved by the Ministry. That compares with the figure the Ministry gave of £58,000,000 for building construction started in 1949. If we consider that much discussed aspect of education, the size of classes, we find also that some progress has been made. In 1938 the number of children per class in the primary schools was 32.1. In 1947 it was 30.1. In the secondary schools the figure in 1938 was 22.5, and in 1947 it was 21.
Whatever criterion we take, we have made substantial progress. For instance, in 1939, 13,255 children sat for the higher school certificate and 9,901 passed. In 1947, 26,322 took the examination and 18,701 passed. That shows that there is a considerably bigger proportion of children staying on at school after the age of 16 than there was before the war. We find the same progress is shown in regard to school meals. If we consider every aspect of education, we have no need to be ashamed of ourselves. I am not using these as party points. Hon. Members in all parts are responsible, in part at any rate, for the progress which has been made since the war.
I turn to a subject which I have mentioned before in this Committee, and that is educational opportunity. The ideal at which we must aim is that university education should be open and free to all who can profit by it, and that only by individual merit and not by means of the length of the purse of the parent shall the criterion be made. If the community is to bear the cost, it must also have a voice, first in the standards of attainment which must be reached, and secondly in regard to the future needs of the community as between the different faculties of education in which the universities are engaged —science, the arts and medicine.
1966 In the solution to that problem it appears to me that there are three parts: the contribution which the State may make; the contribution which the universities may make, and the contribution which the local authorities may make. In respect of the State, in the present stringency of resources, which we all hope Is a passing phase, I think that the Minister of Education has done as much as is humanly possible in the time in which he has had to work. I cannot accept the contention which has been put forward in recent weeks that because the further education and training grants are ended, or are about to end, this amounts to a cut in the allocation to university education., These grants were an emergency provision for special circumstances. In respect of the universities, their contribution is limited by the amount of the endowments at their disposal. There have been suggestions made that the State itself should provide the universities with funds for increasing the number of their scholarships. I believe that would be wrong. If the State has further money to expend on university education, it should use it directly by increasing the number of its own scholarships.
I come back all the time to the contribution which the local education authorities should make and, from my experience of my own authority, I should like to put the suggestion that it is with them that the solution lies. My own authority at the present time is prepared to make grants of major scholarships on the full maintenance and fees basis of the Ministry's scheme to every boy or girl in the constituency who reach the standard of the equivalent of two "goods " in the Higher School Certificate examination. All education authorities have not yet accepted the scheme, and I am not satisfied that the 50 per cent. which have not will respond. I should like to know what kind of pressure may be put upon recalcitrant authorities which have not yet accepted the Minister's scheme.
There is another point which is very important when considering the development of university education. The basis and the area of university education have been widened considerably. I can remember that some years before the war when, for example, in the case of my own authority, there was not a single student taking a scholarship who was studying medicine. The period of the course for 1967 medicine was far too long for local authorities to shoulder the burden of the cost. Today, in my own authority, the largest group of students taking university courses is studying medicine. We have 12 students already at the universities on major scholarships or grants taking medical courses, and 36 per cent. of the grants and scholarships of that authority are for courses of from five to seven years, while 60 per cent. of them are for courses from four to seven years.
There is one weakness of this scheme, and it is the variation of the standard set for attainment, but that will come to an end when the new examination system comes in, or at least I hope it will. There is another anomaly on the scholarship question and that is in regard to the age limit for State scholarships. It is stipulated that a candidate shall be 19 on the 31st July of the year in which the Higher School Certificate is taken, but the local education authority has no such limit, and it is therefore possible at present, and particularly for a boy, to fail at a State scholarship and go back to the local education authority, where he will have an advantage over the younger boys in being much more mature. I hope that, as a result of the Debate today, the Minister will look into that small problem to see that uniformity is established there.
One other problem concerns the difference in the means test for parents which exists between the cases of those boys and girls who go to a training college in order to train as teachers and those who go to a university. It is manifestly absurd and unjust that a boy or girl who goes to a training college should be penalised because the income of their parents is fixed at £300, whereas in the case of a major scholarship it is in the region of £1,000 a year. On all these grounds, I plead with the Minister to look into some of the small points which I have referred to him.
I am quite well aware of the time factor in this Debate and of the number of hon. Members who wish to take part. Therefore, though I have spent much time in preparing a longer speech, I am cutting it down, because I think that it is a great compensation for reducing my own speech to know that there are so many hon. Members on both sides of the 1968 House who are so keenly interested in this subject as to wish to speak on it. I cannot conclude, however, without offering to the Minister my congratulations on the work which he has so far accomplished and wishing him Godspeed in his work in future.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. John Morrison (Salisbury)
Unlike the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Brook), I cannot compare my locks with those of the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) who made his maiden speech just now, as I am already half-and-half grey myself.
I should like very briefly—in view of your warning that we should be brief today, Major Milner—to say a word or two in regard to the position of the voluntary schools, and I speak as one who is the father of four, the youngest of whom is at a small village school. I hope that one day he will not still be in the bottom class. I also speak as one who has been a manager of two Church of England schools in two small villages for some 18 years, and I also speak in the knowledge that, in a large and scattered constituency, there are many Roman Catholics who are equally worried in regard to the position of the voluntary schools.
In supporting my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler) in his excellent opening remarks, I feel that the whole position of the various denominations must be considered together with the voluntary school problem. It would indeed be disastrous and unfortunate, and a retrograde step in education, if we were to go back on the full scope of the Education Act, 1944, which is leading at present to a better outlook in education throughout the whole country. There is no doubt that all those responsible for voluntary schools at the present time are very alarmed. Some of them have already faced up to the problem of completing this Form 18, while others will shortly be finding themselves called upon to decide whether to complete it or not. It is not an easy matter for ordinary school managers to face up to it, because it is very difficult to know how they will find money in 5, 10 or 15 years, and give this information on the form, when most of that money has to come from garden fetes and the like. I, therefore, sincerely hope that we shall hear something from the 1969 Parliamentary Secretary tonight on the subject of this form.
I should now like to quote to the House part of a letter which Dr. Scott Lidgett wrote to " The Times " on 14th February. He is the Chairman of the Education Committee of the Free Church Federal Council, and he says:At the same time, it must be conceded that the rise of prices has made the duties of the denominational schools more onerous than they appeared to be in 1944. Therefore, let the Roman Catholics and those similarly affected work out their costs and present their case to whatever Government comes into power. Should it then be established that they have a necessary and equitable claim for some relief, I au not think that the Free Churches would oppose this being given, provided it was within the 1944 Settlement, instead of demolishing it.Apparently, all denominations are agreed that, where a case of difficulty or hardship arises, there is scope for reviewing the position at the present time. I believe that there is both difficulty and misgiving, and there may well be hardship, about this particular form, and I hope the Minister will not close his mind to the possibility of keeping the whole position under review, so as to ensure that the fact that building costs have gone up enormously is not a factor which forces the voluntary schools and all those interested in religious education, no matter of what denomination, to give up the unequal struggle on account of having to fill up a form which, perhaps, to their minds indicates a situation much too difficult for them to face for a period of years. It may well be that the cost of a village school, or of any school, in 15 or 20 years' time will be much lower than is at present anticipated.
I wish to refer very briefly to one or two points in the Minister's speech. He said it depends on the new standard of building and the costs of the day, and these are at present still under review. That is one of the main difficulties in filling up this form; it is still under review, and we do not know the cost. He said also that there is no justification for tampering with the financial side of the Act. There is, I believe, every justification for looking into the whole financial position as it stands at present and, within the scope of the Act, making every easement that is possible.
I did not follow some of the Minister's remarks in the last part of his speech.
1970 He said, I think, that the programme for building in Form 18 worked out between two and 10 years at a certain figure, and that over 10 years grant-aided status was to be given at a cost of 25 per cent., which, I believe, is a concession. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will enlighten us a little further when he replies because, quite frankly, I do not follow that.
In conclusion, I wish to say that I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden that the salaries of teachers, and their consequent enrolment into that important profession, are two things of the highest importance in this country at the present time. As the matter is under discussion, I will not touch on it further now, except to say that I hope it will always have the highest priority from the Government. One other small point. In building new schools I hope that, from an agricultural angle, the Minister will remember that children can and always have been able to walk upstairs, and that sometimes one can build just as good a school on a two-storey basis as one can on a large amount of space on the best agricultural land in the district.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton, Itchen)
There have been two very gratifying features about this afternoon's Debate and one rather disappointing feature. The gratifying features were the assertions made both by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) and the Minister that there is to be no interference with the compromise regarding voluntary schools effected under the 1944 Act. The disappointing feature of the Debate has been the fact that hon. Members on the Government side of the Committee have opposed the Labour Party's policy with regard to the 1944 settlement. That policy is to support the compromise embodied in the 1944 Act. It is not particularly easy—
§ Mr. L. M. Lever (Manchester, Ardwick)
On a point of Order. Are we discussing the Labour party policy in this Debate?
§ Mr. Morley
It was not at all easy to effect any compromise at all in 1944. A good many interested parties had to be consulted before anything approaching an 1971 agreement could be arrived at. The teachers had to be consulted, and I hope it is not suggested—
§ Mr. Morley
—by anybody on this side of the Committee that one can run an educational system satisfactorily without the co-operation of the teachers.
§ Mr. Morley
In any educational settlement, one has necessarily to have the cooperation of the mass of the teaching profession.
§ Mr. Morley
Teachers had to be consulted too; members of the Free Church, of the Church of England, and of the Roman Catholic community had to be consulted. The consultations were carried on with all these bodies by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden, who was then Minister of Education. Of course, those four bodies held diametrically opposite views as to what should be the nature of the settlement. So far as the teachers and the Free Churches were concerned, they were both opposed to the continuance of the dual system; they both wanted to see the abolition of that system, and all schools in the country run as council schools.
The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church were diametrically opposed to this. They wanted to see the continuance of the dual system and conditions that would make that possible. With these conflicting views among the four interested parties, there was no possibility of a settlement except on the lines of a compromise, and that compromise is embodied in the 1944 Act. The fact that a compromise was effected in face of such a wide divergence of opinion between the interested parties is a great tribute to the initiative, skill, and finesse of the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden.
The compromise effected was not one under which the churches were treated at all ungenerously. It improved the financial position of the voluntary schools. Before the 1944 Act, the voluntary 1972 schools, the Church of England schools, and the Roman Catholic schools had most of their running costs paid out of public funds. The salaries of the teachers were paid out of public funds; all apparatus and all equipment were paid out of public funds. Even the maintenance of playing fields was paid for in that way, but the voluntary schools were responsible for the building and the upkeep of the fabric. Prior to 1944, practically 95 per cent. of the cost of voluntary schools was met out of rates and taxes, and for the remaining 5 per cent. the voluntary schools had full denominational control.
In a way, the settlement of 1944 actually improved that position because it gave assistance in regard to the building of voluntary schools. It gave a 50 per cent. building grant to such schools, and, in addition, there were ways of getting the other 50 per cent. of the building cost by means of public loans at reasonable rates of interest. Therefore, the position of the voluntary schools was improved financially by the Act of 1944, and that was as near an agreement as we could possibly have obtained.
§ Mr. Morley
The teachers agreed to that, although the majority of them wanted to see the abolition of the dual system. They agreed to the compromise in the interest of the children. The Church of England also agreed to the compromise embodied in the Act of 1944. So did the Free Churches, against their previous position. The majority of those consulted, therefore, agreed to the 1944 compromise, and it was the only compromise which could have been got through the House of Commons at that particular time. If anything more had been given to the voluntary schools at that time the Bill would have been resisted in the House of Commons and would not have been successful in finding a passage. It is a fairly generous compromise.
§ Mr. Morley
The people who would have objected strongly if the compromise 1973 had gone any further would have been the whole organised body of teachers in this country numbering some 180,000. Teachers have a right to be consulted in these matters; they are the people who will have to run the schools. The Free Churches would also have strongly objected.
§ Mr. Morley
I think that a great deal of sensible opinion in the Catholic Church concedes that the settlement was a fairly generous one as far as the Church is concerned and is willing to abide by the compromise. There is, of course, an intransigent section in the Catholic Church whose aims can be stated in one simple sentence: they want Catholic schools for Catholic children, taught by Catholic teachers, run by Catholic clerics and entirely financed out of public funds. That is, of course, an impossible position in any democratic community.
If any organisation is entirely financed out of public funds there must be a large measure of public control. No concern can be financed entirely out of public funds and its management left to private persons. if a 100 per cent. building grant were given to Catholic schools, then other churches would also have a perfect right to ask for it.
§ Mr. Morley
The Church of England would demand 100 per cent. grant for Church of England schools. The Non-Conformists would also demand a grant.
§ Mr. Morley
The Baptists, the Methodists, the Wesleyans, the Pentecostalists and the Seventh Day Adventists would demand 100 per cent. grant for their particular schools. The result would be that the educational system of this country would be completely divided into different denominations. The teachers would lose their liberties and have a religious test applied to them. In effect. they would be minor clerics in religious sects, and the children would be segre- 1974 gated into denominational enclaves. The atmosphere of Northern Ireland would be brought over to this once happy land, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) would have another damsel in distress for him to go to her assistance. This compromise is about as fair and reasonable as could have been possibly granted.
§ Mr. Morley
I am glad to hear from the leaders of both the Labour and Conservative parties that there is no intention on the part of either of them to interfere with the compromise effected in the Education Act of 1944. That statement, coming from both leaders, ought to carry conviction to most people in this country, except perhaps to a very small and very noisy minority. I am sure that teachers and educationalists throughout the country would be very glad to read tomorrow of the decision made on both sides of this Committee.
Another—satisfactory feature of this discussion is the fact that in several parts of the House hon. Members have risen to advocate better salaries for teachers. A number of Conservative Members have advocated increased salaries in this Debate. I am very glad to see that change of heart on the part of the Conservative party. The last time that the Conservative party interfered with teachers' salaries was in 1931, when they reduced them by 10 per cent. They would have reduced them by 15 per cent. had it not been for the mutiny at Invergordon. The British Navy has very often saved the British people, but on that occasion it saved their teachers. I am glad to see this change of heart. It is a matter about which I think we ought to have a few sympathetic words from the Parliamentary Secretary when he replies. I know it is a matter principally for the Burnham Committee, but the Parliamentary Secretary and the Committee of this House cannot be entirely disinterested in it.
I heard the Minister say that he expected to get 23,000 teachers in the next three years. To get the number of new entrants of the right quality that is desired, there will have to be some 1975 increase in the present scale of salaries. I hope, therefore, that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies to the Debate he will be able to offer a few sympathetic words on that point without, in any way, interfering with the prerogative of the Burnham Committee.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Watkinson (Woking)
I accept the challenge to be brief, because I think the time is getting short. I apologise to the hon. Member for Southampton, Itohen (Mr. Morley) if I do not follow him. There is one new matter to which I wish to bring the attention of the Committee. It was very briefly referred to by the Minister and I hope that when the Debate is summed up we may hear more about it. It is the question of training in technology—a very unfortunate word for a very important subject. I hope we shall hear a little more about the discussions which I believe are going on about the projected Royal College of Technology.
This Debate has ranged widely, but there is one theme: that the funds to pay for this educational work must come from our success as a trading nation. In the end, that is how we have to find the money to maintain this educational programme. The best way of finding that money is to make sure that on the higher levels of the educational system, we train people who can maintain the manufacturing skill on which our trading success abroad depends.
§ It being Seven o'Clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair, further Proceeding standing postponed until after the consideration of Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking Private Business).
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.