§ 2.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton, Itchen)
I am glad to be given an opportunity of discussing a matter which is engaging the interest of an increasing number of people, and which was recently the subject of a debate of some hours in another place. In introducing this subject of higher technological education, I shall necessarily cover a wide range, and I will make my remarks as brief and as concentrated as possible, so that other Members may have an opportunity of making at least a short contribution to the debate.
The people of this country are demanding a high standard of life. We do not object to that. Hon. Members on this side of the House taught them in the past to demand it. The people of any country cannot have a high standard of life unless there is a high standard of internal production. People cannot have sufficient food, clothing, housing, amusements and education unless these things are sufficiently produced within the country or are obtained by exporting goods abroad in order to import the necessary goods and commodities to maintain a high standard of living.
It seems to me that there are three categories of men and women who are concerned in production. They are the technologists, the technicians and the skilled operators. The technologists improve existing methods of production and invent new methods of production. Their researches and investigations often lead to the establishment of entirely new industries. The technicians organise and administer the inventions of the technolo- 2628 gists, and the skilled workers carry out the actual work of production.
So far as the skilled operators are concerned, I think that no one can deny that in this country they are a very fine body, second to none in the world. We have a fair number of technicians but, in the general opinion, not a sufficient number, and nearly everyone is agreed that we have not a sufficient number of fully-trained technologists to meet the needs of expanding and productive industry.
It is rather difficult to define what is the difference between technologists and technicians. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), has defined it as being the difference between commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers. I think that we may say that we expect the technologist to have a wide knowledge of pure science and, in addition, a knowledge of the technologies of a number of industries, engineering, chemical, mechanical and electrical; of ceremics; of plastics and of fuel. It is to the technologist that we owe a great number of our new industries. We owe to them the internal combustion engine, rayon, the cinema, wireless and a number of other recent inventions which have produced new industries, expanded the production of the country and maintained full employment.
The labours of the technologists are just as necessary in war-time—perhaps even more so—as in peace-time. It was the technologists in the last war who produced Pluto, Mulberry and the Fido apparatus for dispersing fog upon which an hon. Member of the Front Bench opposite grew lyrical in the debate on Civil Aviation on Monday last. One of the most remarkable things in our contemporary scene during the last decade has been the fact that production in the U.S.A. has been practically doubled. Many people attribute that to the ample provision for higher technological education in such institutes of technology as those at Massachusetts and California.
While everyone is agreed that we should have more and even better trained technologists in this country, there are diverse opinions on how this is to be done. First, the universities come along, and say, "Give us the finance, give us the building licences, give us the staff, and we will produce all the trained technologists that the nation requires." But there are 2629 people who argue that the range of technological studies in the universities is too narrow being confined mainly to engineering, metallurgy and mineralogy. They also argue that the universities are predominantly academic in their atmosphere, and perhaps it might be a pity to destroy the academic atmosphere of a university by introducing a large number of technological students. It is also argued that the major universities already have their full numbers, and it would impair their efficiency if those numbers were materially increased. Then, of course we have the democratic purists, who say that additional finance from public sources to expand technology should be accompanied by a concomitant increase of public control over the univerities. We all know that universities object very strongly to any increase in public control,
Recently the Ministry set up an Advisory Council to report on education for industry and commerce. That Advisory Council has now issued its Report, and the main emphasis is on further assistance being given to technical colleges. They apparently look upon the technical colleges as being the main instruments to produce the technologists of the future. There are many technical colleges in this country, but they vary very much indeed. They vary in the number of students that they have, in the extent of their equipment, apparatus and building facilities; and in the instruction they give, which runs from more or less elementary part-time instruction to advanced instruction.
The more important technical colleges, such as Bradford, Manchester, and Loughborough, have as many students as an average university college. They have large staffs of very highly skilled, qualified and competent lecturers, and they not only encourage part-time elementary technical instruction, but also the higher branches of technological instruction for postgraduate courses. Their students take external university degrees. Some of the colleges are affiliated to universities, others are not. As a matter of fact, for the last year for which there are any available statistics it is shown that half the technological degrees were taken by students of technical colleges in this country.
The Report of this Advisory Council recommends that further financial assistance should be given to these technical 2630 colleges. Of course, technical colleges, unlike universities, are under the control of the local education authority and the Ministry. A recommendation is also made that arrangements should be made for additional building over a period of years, and also that consideration should be given to better remuneration for the staff, so that technical colleges should have better equipment, better staffing and expanded buildings. It is suggested that we should take some of the major technical colleges in the country and concentrate on them to provide the higher technical education, leaving the more elementary stages in technical education to some of the other technical colleges.
The Advisory Council also realises that the technical student, who was not able to take a university degree, would like to have some award to show to his fellows and to the nation generally that he had reached a certain level of competence and knowledge in his technical studies. So the Report suggests that a Royal College of Technology should be set up, and that it should grant awards on varying levels. There should be an associateship of the Royal College at the graduate level; a membership at the post-graduate level; and a fellowship at the level of distinguished work and original contributions to technology. It also recommends that the Royal College of Technology should have a board of governors, a council and an academic board. The Royal College of Technology would not itself set the examinations for the various awards but it is proposed that it should moderate the examinations and advise upon them to the various technical colleges.
The Report of the National Advisory Council on Education has not had a very good Press, nor a very warm reception. It is said that when this board of governors, council and academic board were set up, they would be a new bureaucracy, and we all know that, owing to the eloquent and almost non-stop speeches by right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite, the word "bureaucracy" has now come to have a pejorative connotation, and anything which seems to set up a new bureaucracy is condemned beforehand in the minds of quite a number of people.
2631 Some people make a further proposal that we should set up technical institutions having university status and power to grant degrees such as bachelor of technology and doctor of technology, and form technological institutes of the same standard, and covering the whole range of subjects, as in Germany, Switzerland and the United States of America. It has been suggested by some people that it would do if there were two such institutes in this country for England and Wales and one in Scotland. They propose that the major technical colleges such as Bradford, Loughborough and Manchester be united to form one technical institute, and the Imperial College and the Polytechnics in London should be united to form another, while the Herriot Watts School in Scotland should form one for that country.
As a layman I am not at all competent to decide as to the respective merits of these different recommendations with regard to the future of technical education. From the point of view of immediate practicability, and of doing something which can be fairly quickly made effective, I feel rather in favour of the Report of the National Advisory Council on Education. I understand that the teachers in the technical institutes themselves are very much in favour of the implementation of that Report. I was talking yesterday to the general secretary of the Association of Teachers in Technical Institutes, Mr. William Evans, and he said, "If you speak tomorrow, go all out for the implementation of the Council's Report."
We must admit that there were a very distinguished array of members on that particular Council, and it took a good deal of representative evidence. At the same time, I feel rather disposed towards the setting up of technological institutes with power to grant degrees. I feel that technologists should know something of humanity as well as of technology. I have spoken to a number of men who are employed in the publicly-owned industries of this country, and, generally speaking, they believe in public ownership, but they say it is just the same old gang who are running the industries as they did in private ownership and they lack the human touch. I suppose that, in order to effect a smooth transition, we had to employ men who were running the 2632 industries when they were privately owned to organise and administer them under public ownership. As time goes on they will be replaced by other men, and they will be replaced by technologists.
It is necessary that technologists should know something about humanity and not merely about technology. They should know something about sociology, economics, history and human relationships, so that the work both of themselves and others can be properly performed for the benefit of the country. I have a feeling that I should prefer to see technological institutes as a means of increasing technological education in this country in the future, but I also have to reflect that before we can set up these institutes we shall need special legislation which might be controversial and would require Parliamentary time to get them through. I have enumerated various suggestions and I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will find time to make short speeches. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education will benefit from the advice which has been given and from the speeches which have been made when he and his chief are making up their minds on this important subject.
§ 2.33 p.m.
§ Wing Commander Bullus (Wembley, North)
Whether or not we agree with all or any of the statements made by the hon. Member for Southampton. Itchen (Mr. Motley), the House will be of one mind that the subject is of vital importance and will be grateful to him for raising it. I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not answer his arguments point by point. There is much confused thought about the development of technological education, about the difference between technologists and technicians, and about Government policy in the matter. I shall listen with keen interest to the reply of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, because I hope that our minds will be made clear on this matter of Government policy.
No doubt the Government are aware of the urgency of the problem, but the tempo ought to be increased. I shall expect the Parliamentary Secretary to declare a short-term policy and a long-term policy. The long-term policy will involve expenditure on new buildings and 2633 upon new and expensive equipment; yet despite its importance this development will inevitably be affected by the limitation placed on capital expenditure. That is why a short-term policy is of especial importance at this time, when the necessity of a pool or continuous supply of technologists is more imperative than it has ever been. We must make the best possible use of the existing machinery for the education and training of the technician as well as the technologist. That calls for a great measure of co-operation between the universities, the technical colleges and the colleges of technology, and with industry and research organisations.
In the short-term policy, the important thing is to get on with training people and with making the maximum use of all available resources so as to be in a position to meet the competition of the world not only in trade and industry but in the more sinister sphere of rearmament which has been made necessary by the armed strength of Russia and her satellites. There may be difficulties in getting all the elements to give this maximum of co-operation because of differing views on the long-term policy. The common ground is the urgent necessity to provide trained technologists and not to fall behind other countries in knowledge and invention.
We are all agreed that our technologists are second to none in the world: and during the war we overcame great handicaps. We must remove all handicaps now if we are to maintain our proud position. We have to remedy an obvious shortage of skilled technologists. Are we making full use of all available buildings? Though many buildings are obsolete and even sub-standard, compared with modern ideas, they have nevertheless in the past turned out men of genius. I have in mind the College of Technology in Leeds where, before the war, a scheme was in hand for new buildings. The old buildings were to be pulled down; but the war came and those buildings are still in use. The college has had to take over a nearby garage and turn it into two lecture rooms and a drawing office.
Are we making the maximum use of our equipment? Are the times of practical classes and lectures staggered in order to allow the maximum use of avail- 2634 able equipment? Do we get all the friendly co-operation possible from industry? I am fully aware of the valuable assistance that we get from industry but is it the maximum possible? In the City of Leeds, Messrs. I. Braitwaite & Co. made a generous gift recently of pressing and processing machinery to the College of Technology. The college attempted to install this equipment but the old buildings would not take it. The college showed invention and initiative in securing other buildings and full use is now being made of that valuable equipment. Are we getting the maximum help from industry? That is the sort of help we want. Are we doing all we can to encourage them to give that help?
Are the universities encouraging all possible research? The University of Leeds sets a valuable example by the association of its fuel department with the gas industry, and in the City of Leeds we have had the benefit of the work of the late Professor J. W. Cobb and his successor. Professor F. Dent. These two professors attended the school in Leeds which you and I, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, also attended. We know something of the value, therefore, of the association between the university and industry. I feel that if we are successful in our short-term policy, we shall evolve from this our long-term policy
The problems which we have to face include the possible separation of the teaching of higher technology from the training of technicians. I know this is a controversial subject, but it is one that has to be considered. We shall have to face the provision of more accommodation and new equipment, and the securing of staff of high calibre or standard. Our universities have not sufficient places to offer for technology and eventually it might be necessary to build two new universities, one for engineering and one for textiles. It may be necessary soon to take technical colleges from the control of local education authorities and from the Ministry of Education. The Report of the National Advisory Council is not the answer to all the problems and it does not go far enough. Our first essential task is to seek universal co-operation and to give the maximum encouragement while pressing on with liberal schemes of training.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I am glad to have caught your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have decided views on this subject, because only 12 months ago I was lecturing in a technical college. The hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) spoke of the link between technical colleges and industry. In Rugby we have a fine college of technology which has been most generously equipped by the British Thomson-Houston Company and also helped by the English Electric Company. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also mentioned the imperative need for more technologists. The Percy Report says:The position of Great Britain as a leading industrial nation is being endangered by failure to secure the fullest possible application of science to industry, and this failure is partly due to deficiencies in education.The universities have been almost "dogs in the manager" in regard to giving technical colleges more chance to develop. There has been very haphazard development indeed in this field of education; let us do something about it in the very near future.
The university teachers tell us that the production of technicians should be the function of the technical colleges but that the production of technologists should be the function of the universities. My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) told us that they say, "Give us the tools and we will expand our departments, like the University of Leeds, with eight departments of technology, including colour chemistry and the like. Let us expand these departments and we will do the job for you." This does not go down well with people like myself who have been in technical education and think that we have done a good job in the last decade or two. Technical colleges have done a fine job and can do an even better job in supplementing the fine work of the universities in their own field.
In 1948 the technical colleges had something like 9,000 full-time degree students and almost 10,000 degree students on a part-time basis. I cannot get the numbers, but there were many more in part-time evening education. There were also many others doing postgraduate work. I have been given the figures for the years 1945–49 by 31 techni- 2636 cal colleges, and these showed that about 196 students and staff submitted original post-graduate papers and 218 higher degrees were obtained including eight B.Sc, 85 Ph.D. and 150 M.Sc.
I would say to the universities that they are doing a very fine job but that they should not wish to shut us out. They should not take away the keenest and best students and leave behind only the elementary work. We can do a good job in the technical colleges just as the universities themselves are doing a good job. If the universities could expand and double the output of technologists, so also could the technical colleges expand and double their output.
As to the attitude of many people towards technicians and technologists, it is one of the oddities of the English educational system—I say "English" and not"Scottish"—that people who have spent their university course in the classics or art, are regarded as having more culture than those who are technicians and technologists. It is regarded somehow as more cultured to know about the night haunts of Messalina on her tours of Rome than to know about the inside of a jet engine. That sort of thing ought to disappear with many of the other snobbish attitudes in our social system.
I am quite happy that the universities should expand and make progress. All I would say is that the technical colleges should also have a slice of the cake. The Minister ought to choose four or five of the better technical colleges, such as Manchester, Bradford or Birmingham, and develop the education there to first degree and post-graduate work. He would have to eliminate all the elementary work done there and the governors would have to scrap a large proportion of the present teaching staff. Without becoming too personal, I should like to quote from my former timetable. I was going from lecture to lecture, leaving external London first-class honours students and going to 15-years-old ex-modern secondary school classes taking social subjects. We must cut out the elementary staff if we are to develop the higher technological work by selected technologists. Conditions and salaries for these ought to be very much better. Technical college teachers and lecturers should have improved conditions and they would also like fewer lectures per week and some time for post-graduate work——
§ Mr. William Wells (Walsall)
I had a letter from a Cambridge don yesterday in which he complained that he and his colleagues were now having to work 60 or 70 teaching hours a week.
§ Mr. Johnson
That is a shocking statement. I suppose that other universities are not working quite so hard.
The hon. Member for Southampton. Itchen talked about the award which will be given by the new Royal College of Technology. I am most unhappy that it has not been suggested that a degree such as B.Sc. (Technology) should be given. It is important that technologists have a degree. I am very disturbed indeed at this hypothetical equivalent of the associateship to a university degree. I should be much happier if we "came clean" and said that we were giving degrees in technology and that we could proceed beyond that degree to post-graduate work in universities. Let the universities expand their work, and at the same time let us upgrade four or five of our major technical colleges and appoint a technological grants committee so that these colleges may have internal autonomy, and thus expand and stand alongside the universities on an equal footing. If we can have this, I am quite sure that the technical institutions will play a very big part indeed in turning out the technologists that we need so badly these post-war days of economic survival. Let us do something soon.
§ 2.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Linstead (Putney)
In the few moments left for this question, I should like to express my thanks to the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley), for having selected this as his subject and also the hope that there will be an opportunity before long for the House to give more than 55 minutes on the Motion for the Adjournment to a matter which is of vital interest to the future of this country. We are no longer the world's factory, as we used to be. What we have to sell is our brains, and it is the special obligation of the Minister of Education to see that all the facilities are provided for producing the type of man who is needed to enable us to keep our place in the modern highly industrialised world.
I have listened to the speeches and I have some sympathy with one or two hon. Members who attempted to define 2638 a technologist. My own view is that it is less important to try to define the type of man we want or the label we put on him—whether it be a diploma or a degree —than to get the right type of institution with the right type of teacher. When we have those, the products of the institution will be known at their own value for what they are. I am sure that the main problem before the Minister is to provide the right institutions and teachers of unquestioned calibre, and then he can leave the rest of the problem to them to solve.
I want to make particular reference to the report of the National Advisory Council on the Future Development of Higher Technological Education. The central recommendation in this report is that there should be created a Royal Institute of Technologists. I dissent from the view expressed by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) and to some extent, though with no great enthusiasm, by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen, that this represents the way to solve our problem. As I see it, all that such a college will do is to add a further complication to an already complicated field without really producing any new, positive contribution.
After all, within the field of technology we already have the universities giving degrees and technical colleges giving diplomas; we have the National Certificates as well as those of the City and Guilds of London Institute, and the diplomas of the innumerable professional bodies over every field of technology. What a Royal Institute of Technologists will do over and above what has already been done by the existing bodies, other than create confusion, frankly, I cannot make out.
So far as I know, there is no substantial technology in existence today which has not developed of its own enthusiasm its own qualifying body, with its own professional diplomas already established and recognised. There may be a few new technologies which are in the process of developing such bodies, but in the ordinary way in a little time they will do what all the other technologies have done. I do not know of a single established technology to which the Royal College of Technologists could make any contribution. I do not know whether there are one or two in the mind of the Minister. If so, I should be interested to hear of them.
2639 As far as I am aware, the only field within which the qualifications of a Royal Institute of Technologists might operate is within the field of the nationalised industries. Yet surely it would be extremely dangerous if Ministers responsible for the nationalised industries were to encourage those industries to prescribe for various technological appointments the standards of a new technological body in preference to the standards of the old-established technological institutions. Ultimately, there would be no advantage to the State from the creation of such new and lower qualifications.
Apart from what was said by the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen, and possibly by the hon. Member for Rugby, I have heard hardly one good word for the recommendations of this report by anybody who has read it. It is condemned almost universally by the professional qualifying bodies, and I only hope the Parliamentary Secretary has seen the various letters that have gone into his Ministry expressing their opinion of those recommendations.
What Great Britain needs are technologists of the highest possible qualifications, as I have said. What we have to do is to provide not fresh labels but institutions of the highest quality where these people can be trained. I agree with the hon. Member for Rugby that the old academic argument as to the place of technology in the university should, by now, have gone by the board. Given the proper teachers, we can get as broad, as generous and as liberal an education on the technological basis as from the humanities or from any of the more historic university courses.
I believe that the answer to our present need is that which the Committee itself referred to but rejected. That is the upgrading of two or three or half a dozen of our best technological colleges in such a way as to take them out of the hands of the local authorities, who are always perturbed with questions of rates and of dividing the money available between higher, secondary and primary education, and putting those few institutions in a position of autonomy similar to our great universities. Whether or not they should be detached from the Ministry of Education, I do not know.
2640 It would be a painful process, and no doubt even an enthusiastic Minister would not find much support in the Department for such a proposal. But they must have academic freedom, they must have financial freedom, they must have on their governing bodies men of the highest quality who really understand higher education and the needs of industry. Given those necessities, I feel quite certain that half a dozen of our big technological colleges can provide the type of men we need.
I hope the Minister will refer this report back to the Committee; that he will say to his Committee that he does not see that their present recommendations do anything more than touch unrealistically the fringe of the subject, and that they should now turn their attention to the fundamental problem of producing the right institutions in which the technologists of the future are to be trained.
§ 2.57 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Hardman)
May I join with hon. Members who have spoken on all sides of the House in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley), on raising this important subject. The Report of the National Advisory Council was published last November, and was discussed in another place as recently as 1st February. We welcomed that debate and we welcome this one with equal cordiality. However, I hope my hon. Friend will not charge me with discourtesy if I tell him at the outset that I can add very little at present to what the Government spokesman in the other place said on this Report.
The hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus), spoke about increasing the speed with which a decision could be taken. In the few minutes at my disposal, I will try to show the variety of interests that have to be considered before my right hon. Friend can take a decision and make it known. He has not yet reached conclusions on the recommendations of the Report, and whatever I have to say this afternoon is governed by that fact.
It has been pointed out that comments from interested parties have come in. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), has mentioned, many letters from interested bodies have arrived, not 2641 all of them as cordial as we would wish. There have also been articles in the professional journals on this Report. Hon. Members of both Houses have made their comments in writing, in the debate in another place, and in this debate this afternoon. Discussions at an official level must take place that there may be cooperation within the Departments concerned, because, as has been shown by the speeches this afternoon, the universities are much implicated in any decision taken. The universities themselves naturally must make known their point of view as well as that of the staffs of the governing bodies of the various technical colleges, and these are all most important factors which must be taken into account before my right hon. Friend can reach a decision. It is only after considering common problems that the Minister can reach worthwhile conclusions.
We are not, of course, this afternoon concerned with the general aspects of general technical education. We are concerned with technology and I confess I have found it extremely difficult to find an adequate definition of that term. I think I know the distinction between a technician and a technologist, but I confess that I find it extremely difficult to find a watertight definition of technology and I think there is a great deal in what the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) said, that really the arrival at any such definition depends on the kind of place where technological studies occur. Technical education in general and higher technological education in particular are so important to the future commercial prosperity and safety of our country in peace and in war, as has been pointed out by my hon. Friend who opened this debate, that we must see that the next step is not only the right one but is supported by all the main interests concerned. I promise the House we shall not delay a day longer than is necessary in making known our decisions on this Report, because we realise how important it is to let those engaged in higher technology particularly to know what their future is to be.
On one point I can be definite. It is a point which has been widely supported this afternoon. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) made very clear the line that certain critics have taken, that all higher technological educa- 2642 tion could be carried out in the universities and that technical colleges should have little or nothing to do with it. I emphatically reject that point of view. It is not the view of the majority of the universities; it is not the view of any well-informed critics, even those critics who have been opposed to some of the recommendations in the Report. Where it is held as a point of view, it is in my view based upon an ignorance of what in fact takes place in the best technical colleges of the country. There can, indeed, in certain quarters be a great deal of intellectual ignorance about technical education, technical education which for far too long has been the Cinderella of the educational service.
What we have to do, I suggest, is to work for developments both in universities and technical colleges, not in any competitive spirit, but to meet the needs of both and in so doing to meet the needs of the nation. Extremely valuable and varied work in advanced technology is being carried out in our technical colleges often, as the hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North, rightly pointed out, under most adverse conditions. The Report itself emphasised this point. The success that has been attained already has been due, in my opinion, to a lively cooperation between teaching staffs and local authorities up and down the country, with the help of industry. There is no question that where technical education and high technological studies have advanced most there has been willing co-operation.
Moreover, the volume of degree and post-graduate work being done has increased since the war and is still increasing since the material upon which the Report was based was brought together in 1948–49. Education of the technician is one purpose of technical education. Facilities for advanced technological work is its apex and for practical purposes I suggest that this means concentrating more and more of this advanced work in selected colleges, which was a point made by the opener of this debate. The link with industry must not only be maintained, it must be strengthened. This entails a concentration of advanced work spread over all the major industrial areas.
It seems to me that to talk of two or three upgraded colleges is no solution to the main problem. Again, giving a few 2643 colleges a quasi-university status by excluding more elementary work does not give a technical college university standards, and I think the universities are rightly opposed—in fact they are inflexibly so—to any attempts to establish degree-awarding bodies which do not have the full characteristics of the universities. I am convinced that advanced technological work should be carried out in technical colleges and I am prepared to help them to do their job as well as they can in their own right, and not as imitations of something else.
I want to draw the attention of the House to one or two other points in the Report, upon which I think comment will be of interest. To carry on and to provide for developments, technical colleges must have better finance and better staffing. They must have better equipment, they must have better accommodation. In regard to better staffing, on which there has been the Report of the Burnham Committee on Salaries to be paid to those who work in technical colleges, the plea for better remuneration was made by the opener of this debate. The value of the new scales as they affect technical work is that they do allow for greater flexibility than did the old scales, so that it is possible to pay appropriate salaries in colleges where advanced technological work is undertaken. This is clear evidence of the value local education authorities are placing on advanced work, and I have every confidence that they will make good use of the freedom the new scales allow.
Not only must improvements in staffing be made—higher salaries with better equipment and better accommodation— but there must be, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby so rightly emphasised, academic freedom to allow courses to be planned with the maximum adaptability to new conditions and techniques. It will not suffice to determine courses by rigid outside requirements such as external university degrees. Working only for university degrees can be a very limiting factor indeed, particularly in this field of 2644 higher technology. It is in the main to remedy these defects that the Report has put forward these recommendations. It is accepted as a sound and valuable analysis of things requiring attention if higher technological work is to develop as it should in our technical colleges. Any decision which my right hon. Friend takes is bound to displease somebody, but all comment and criticism is being most carefully considered and today's debate will help still further.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen, said, it is only right that in replying to this debate I should pay regard to the fact that the Report has received a great deal of cordial support. My hon. Friend referred to the distinguished people who have served on the Advisory Committee. I am not prepared to go the whole way with him when he suggests that there has been so much criticism. In fact, there has been a great deal of cordial support for the recommendations. In their essentials they have been endorsed, as I have already said, by most of the universities. They have been endorsed by the local education authorities. They have been endorsed and supported by spokesmen of most of the teachers in the technical colleges, and they have been supported by many distinguished representatives of many varied and important industries. Such support strengthens my view that developments must be based upon existing foundations, a point which was made particularly by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead). Existing traditions are things on to which we must hold and on which we must build. We must build also upon the undoubted achievements of technical education in this country, and at the same time seize every opportunity to remedy defects and to remove handicaps.
It is in that spirit that my right hon. Friend and I approach the recommendations of the Report. To us there is no field in education, whether it is the university or the education of the child, that is more vital to our future well-being than education at the higher technological level.