HC Deb 25 March 1952 vol 498 cc215-338

3.55 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I beg to move, That this House views with grave concern the effects of the circulars issued by the Minister of Education on the estimates of local education authorities for the coming financial year, and calls for the restoration of all cuts which would impair the maintenance of the standards attained and the planned expansion of the service under the Education Act, 1944. I regret that my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) is not moving this Motion, but I am sure the House realises why that is so and will be only too pleased to see him fully restored at an early date to his usual health and vigour in debate. He brings to this subject a wealth of human feeling that generally enriches it whenever he is able to handle it.

He suggested to me that, in my speech, I might content myself with putting to the right hon. Lady all the questions that she put to him on the last occasion when this matter was debated in the House, but I feel that would be far too cruel a process for me to inflict, even if I did it vicariously for the right hon. Gentleman; so I propose to ask the House to listen to me for a short time while I deal with the subject of the extent to which the educational purposes enshrined in the Education Act, 1944, have been deflected injuriously by the circulars issued by the right hon. Lady since she took office.

I noticed that yesterday "The Times," which appears to be a journal capable of some historical research, recorded that I assisted the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in securing the passage of the Education Act, 1944. I am glad that notice was given to my former activities, because I noticed in some Election addresses and pamphlets statements that the Education Act, 1944, was a Conservative Act. I think that the most that can be said is that it was an Act that was passed when there was a Conservative majority in Parliament, but it was passed with the co-operation of all parties within the House. Those of us who were here at the time all contributed through our knowledge and experience towards framing what we hoped would be an Act which would receive general national recognition as a desire for the improvement of the country's educational services.

I notice that there is an Amendment to this Motion. I was considerably relieved by that because some of my hon. Friends thought that my Motion was so mildly worded that the right hon. Lady might accept it, and we might then be deprived of the debate; but I think there is sufficient difference between the two sides of the House in this matter to justify our having a discussion.

Since the right hon. Lady took office, somewhat belatedly, in the Government—the last announcement to be made of a Minister of her rank and after the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) had twice lunched with the Prime Minister—we have had this phrase put before us: The essential fabric of the educational service. I asked myself what is the essential fabric which the right hon. Lady says that the Government are determined to maintain. I think that here we shall probably find one of the points of difference between the two sides of the House.

To my mind the essential fabric of education consists of bringing as large a number of children as possible under the influence of skilled and sympathetic teachers in circumstances which will allow the nurture of these children in the essentials of education to proceed smoothly and efficiently, and also in making available for persons of very diverse tastes and aptitudes opportunities for access to the highest forms of education in universities, technological colleges, agricultural colleges and other places, as their individual abilities and aptitudes afford.

In the contact between the teacher and the pupil one can say that success will depend upon three factors. The first is the size of the class. The second is the range of attainments within the class, which is as important as the size of the class. Some of the most difficult classes to teach are among the smallest in the rate-aided system of the country. A woman in a remote village may be expected to teach 20 children aged between five and 15 in one class and spread her activities between them in the best way that she can. Consequently, I put the range of attainments within the class as being at least as important as the size of the class.

The third factor is the length of the school life, the number of years over which the pupil and the teacher will be in association. It was the aim of the Education Act, 1944, that within as short a space of time as possible those advantages should be available for every child of compulsory school age in the country. I am not among the people who are disappointed at the rate of progress which has been made under the 1944 Act up to the time that my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth left the Ministry of Education. Unfortunately, I am old enough to recollect the Act of 1902, whose great work was the establishment of the municipal grammar schools, in spite of the controversies which occupied so much of the time of the House during its passage. It took 40 years for that Act to reach its full fruition in that one important aspect.

While we could not expect that on the mere passing of the 1944 Act the whole of the educational firmament would be changed, we had hoped that under the Act there would at least be steady progress which would enable its best purposes to be worked out. Therefore, it is with very great regret that we on this side of the House have observed the effects of the right hon. Lady's circulars in the offices and committee rooms of the local education authorities. It does not matter what her motives may have been; I accept all that she says about her desire to maintain the essential fabric of education. I suppose that the essential fabric of the Carlton Club is maintained in Pall Mall.

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

It was blitzed by the Germans.

Mr. Ede

I saw it only the other day. The walls are still standing. When one comes to a definition of "essential fabric," there is very wide scope for diversity of opinion as to what is the main fabric and what may be the furniture, the equipment and, as we generally say in education, the trimmings.

There is no doubt that in the offices and committee rooms of a good many local education authorities the Minister of Education was believed to desire drastic economies in education even in some of the topics which, in Circular 242, the right hon. Lady appeared to have excluded from their purview. She said that she regarded it as important that proper standards of teaching should be maintained and that for the purpose she assumed that adequate teaching staffs would be employed and a supply of books, essential material and apparatus provided.

If a supply of books, essential material and apparatus is to be provided on any adequate scale in the coming year there must be a substantial increase in the amounts which have been used in previous years. The increase in the cost of books alone is such as to make the replenishment of the text and reading hooks in the schools on any adequate scale a matter of considerably higher expense than has ruled in previous years.

One of the great advantages of schools in modern days has been the fact that such a wide variety of reading material has been provided for them. I recollect that when I was in the first standard, in 1890, we had one book the whole year, and when His Majesty's inspector came to inspect us in reading not one of us could fail because we all knew the book by heart. In the 60-odd years which have intervened since that date there has been a very considerable improvement in that matter.

I want to ask the right hon. Lady exactly what she now regards as a supply of books—there was no adjective in front of that phrase—which is adequate for a school in these days and how far the Estimates for the coming year are expected to show an increase in resepct of that.

The right hon. Lady, and also the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech on 29th January, have also laid stress on the need for maintaining the school health service and special educational treatment. In particular, the right hon. Lady said that every effort should continue to be made to strengthen the school dental service, which was seriously understaffed.

I want to examine some of the economies in the maintenance of the essential fabric of education which have already been mentioned by local education authorities. I hope that all the things which I have so far mentioned may be regarded without controversy as belonging to the essential fabric of education authorities—and not among the least enlightened—have interpreted what the right hon. Lady has said in ways the variety of which is astonishing.

Let us take Kent, which, having been a member of a neighbouring authority for some years, I regard as possibly the second best, or, at any rate, very high in the hierarchy of local education authorities. There has been a reduction in the filling of vacancies in the school dental service; a restriction on the supply of cod liver oil, which I expect will be welcomed by at least some of the pupils; fewer delicate and maladjusted children will go to special schools; and fewer new appointments will be made of primary and secondary teachers.

Then let us take Northamptonshire. I draw attention to this in view of what I have just said about books. There has been a reduction of £5,082 in respect of books and stationery. In Flintshire, the cuts mean that the normal annual increase of 12 to 14 teachers will be reduced to about five or six, and the size of classes will be increased by less than 1 per cent. How to increase 30 pupils by 1 per cent. really beats me.

The right hon. Lady made some play in the House—and we were very glad that she did so—about the stern attitude she has adopted towards Warwickshire, which has decided to stop all nursery classes. The right hon. Lady told us that she had told one local education authority that she would not stand for that, and when she was asked what local education authority it was, she said "Warwickshire."

Well, Warwickshire has received her letter about the closing of nursery schools, and the county council has de-decided to stand by the cut they have made. The right hon. Lady should tell us that she is not going to be coerced by Warwickshire. I can think of one or two county councils that I would advise her not to be too severe with, but she can tackle Warwickshire quite safely, and I hope she will.

In Cornwall, a saving of £27,000 has been effected by cutting out the provision for the engagement of six head teachers, 21 assistants and 10 other staff. Under secondary education, it was also decided not to recruit up to the full establishment, with a consequent saving of £14,000. A big cut was made in the teachers' training scheme, and a similar saving was made by deciding not to recruit up to the full establishment of school dental officers. I give these instances as typical. I have here a large number of others. I would ask the right hon. Lady to say how far these instances can be regarded as entailing a failure to maintain the essential fabric of the service.

From what I hear from the training colleges, I am certain that there is a great fear among the students there that by the time they are qualified to leave their colleges the full effect of these economics will be such that the employment they had looked forward to will possibly not be available for them. I understand that it is the policy of the right hon. Lady and the Government to ensure that, during the next four or five years at least, the training colleges shall be kept full, particularly the women's training colleges, and that the students shall be employed in reducing the size of classes and in opening up the new classes that should be available as the school building programme progresses.

I want to say a few words about the building programme. I have been travelling about the country a good deal during the current year, and I have been greatly oppressed by the feeling of depression that I found in those areas which were hoping that in the near future they would benefit from the further reorganisation of the education service provided there. The thing that has impressed me most has been the excellent quality in buildings and equipment of the modern secondary schools that have been built during the last five or six years. I had the honour of opening one in my own constituency, a school for 640 boys and girls. When I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry, and on other occasions, I visited a great many schools. I say without hesitation that this is the best rate-supported school I have ever seen, whether secondary modern or grammar, and I am sure that it will be regarded in the future as a great achievement.

I was with my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) in his constituency which, curiously enough, includes the urban district of Keswick. Except for my hon. Friend I can think of no other real connection between Keswick and Workington, but he makes a pleasant link between the industrial area of Workington and the delightful rural amenities of Keswick. Cumberland County Council acquired a mansion on a very fine site. They built on to it two wings forming a letter "L," with the original house at the angle. The building is surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery in this country and is a place of great delight. It is not as large as the school I mentioned at South Shields, but it is wonderfully adapted to the task that has been undertaken of dealing with the children of Keswick and 10 contributory villages.

The spirit which it has managed to evoke is well illustrated by the fact that the children in the villages say that when the examination for the grammar school takes place this year they will take jolly good care to be among the "also raps," because they are quite certain that it will be better for them in every way—and a large number of their parents agree—to attend this secondary modern school, with its up-to-date equipment and the wide variety of courses that it provides. When I was there, I was told, "Whatever you do, don't say anything about this in Maryport, because Maryport has just heard that, as a result of Circular 245, their secondary modern school is pushed two years ahead."

I saw another of these secondary modern schools at Helston, in Cornwall, in a building which is really a monument in stone to the educational developments since the Science and Art Department, which was set up under the Whisky Money about 1888. It was originally started as a technical institute. Then a bit was added to it and it was turned into a grammar school on a very limited site built into a cliff. Then, after it was no longer regarded as quite suitable for a grammar school, the grammar school was moved out and the secondary modern school was started in the building, and a new building was put into the development plant and the programme.

Here again, the more liberal atmosphere of the secondary modern school has made this place very popular with the parents of the contributory villages, although it was only opened last September, and it has justified all the high hopes of those of us who stood for bringing the secondary modern school into existence, with a dignity and esteem parallel with that of the grammar school. There, of course, the postponement of the development plan has brought about the most intense disappointment.

I take another county, Norfolk, and this is what I read has happened in that county: A most drastic cut, including a loss of £536,000 from the capital building during 1951–52 and 1952–53 was a comment in a report presented to Norfolk Education Committee. … The Buildings and Sites Sub-Committee reported that the Minister's decision to close the 1951–52 building programme meant that all the projects originally included in the Norfolk programme (four new secondary modern schools estimated to cost £450,000) must now be included with the projects originally approved for the 1952–53 programme, which represented an estimated cost of £283,650. The Chief Education Officer had reported to the sub-committee that of this total of £733,650 the Minister had initially suggested only the following projects for the revised 1952–53 programme, at an estimated cost of £197,250. Then it sets out the Costessey three-stream secondary modern school, £138,775 Aldborough county primary school, additional class rooms, £7,050; and King's Lynn, Gaywood junior school, £51,425.

The secondary modern school, to my mind, represents the main avenue of educational advance for the next 20 or 30 years. I think that the work that Robert Morant did, when he gave the Education Act, 1902, in its administration the grammar school twist, ought now to be regarded as completed, and while there may be some cases for rehousing some grammar schools that are in very inefficient buildings, I think that the supply of grammar school places in proportion to the population as a whole is probably now about right, if not a little too high.

I hope that we shall now be able to make provision for the non-bookish majority of our children, who do not get into the grammar schools, but who become the skilled craftsmen and designers upon whose activities in production we have to depend as a nation for our survival. It is high time that provision was made for them in the education system, in circumstances which will allow them to feel for their schools the pride that I found in South Shields, Keswick and Helston for the secondary modern schools that have been provided there. I am quite certain that we are not going to get it where we merely take an old board school building that has served as a senior school up to the present and expect in that old bottle to be able to pour successfully the new wine of the secondary modern schools' curricula and ambitions.

The right hon. Lady has given answers at Question time which seem to indicate that she thinks that all the buildings that would have been provided had there been no gap of six or eight months that we are now experiencing—as if that gap had never occurred and all the schools that were planned and urged on and approved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth—will, in fact, be in existence at the end of 1953. I am bound to say that I cannot find a single education office in England where that view is shared, if that is the right hon. Lady's view.

Although I am prepared to admit that there may be some slight gain in completing buildings before starting new ones, I do not think that the schools are built in sufficient quantity in any one place to make that argument hold as well as it does with regard to housing. I cannot find anywhere anyone who shares the right hon. Lady's belief in that matter, if I have correctly interpreted it.

I have listened to the right hon. Lady's answers, and so that I might not befog my own mind I have not asked her any supplementaries on the point; I have also read her answers. I must say that if that is the advice she gives for what is to happen at the end of 1953 I shall not listen to what she has to say about the prospects of the 1953 Derby runners.

I want to deal with one other point, and that is Circular 247. This circular is a somewhat remarkable document because, as far as I can see, the right hon. Lady gives us no guidance in it. On Saturday morning I received from her Department the appendix to the circular. This is a circular which deals with scholarships awarded by local education authorities to universities and other places of higher education. She has sent this to the local education authorities for their information and study, and I gather that she hopes that some of them will take some action on it. The figures show such a diversity of opportunity that I think the right hon. Lady ought to give a little more guidance.

For instance, I cannot understand whether Berkshire, which provides 19.6 such places per 10,000 of the children in the schools of the county, is to be lauded, and Buckinghamshire, on the opposite side of the river Thames, which provides 7.6, and Oxfordshire—another county facing Berkshire across the river—which supplies 8.8, are to be condemned. I recollect Lord Eustace Percy, when he occupied a comparative position to that of the right hon. Lady, used to say that he was in office to apply a spur to the laggard and to curb the hasty among local education authorities. I never knew a local education authority that required the curb, and I am bound to say that I did not often see him using the spur.

What does the right hon. Lady want local education authorities and the country at large to draw from this circular? The recruitment of our best pupils to places in universities, technological colleges and similar places for higher education is a matter of the most supreme importance. Because the figures vary so widely, I will deal with England only, since it seems to me that he is a lucky person in Wales who escapes getting a university education. [Interruption]. I would not have thought so. One can preach quite well without a university degree.

If I look through this list I observe with pride that Surrey provides 30 places per 10,000 of the school population, the highest of any county in England. Surrey, I hear someone say, is a Tory county. But I had a little to do with shaping the education service in Surrey. I see that West Suffolk, which is just as Tory, provides nine places. I do not think that politics have very much to do with it. That is the astonishing thing about this particular return. Anybody on either side who was trying to make a political point by carefully selecting the instances could do so.

The Minister of Education (Miss. Florence Horsbrugh)

indicated assent.

Mr. Ede

I am glad to see that the right hon. Lady agrees with me.

Having spent some years in dealing with this subject in the County of Surrey, which comes out at the top, I must say that my colleagues and I on the education committee were often almost heartbroken at having to refuse places within the rules we had framed. I recollect that on one occasion the chairman of our finance committee said, "You are giving too many of these awards. I will come to the next meeting and will adjudicate on them." He did, and he passed more than we would have done.

This is one of the places in which, unfortunately, some of the local education authorities lowliest on the list are making further economies. It is a very serious thing for this country that the chance of children to get the highest form of education should depend so largely on local policy in this particular matter. I think it is a very grievous thing that we have to rely on gentlemen like Professor Pontecorvo—who gave me a lot of trouble not so long ago—and others to take part in scientific research and activities that involve undivided loyalty to this country. One feels that British citizens ought to be the people conducting such activities.

I think the right hon. Lady should not restrain anybody who is doing the things that result in high figures in this table, but that there should be very considerable pressure brought to bear on those authorities whose figure are among the lowest. I hope that Circular 247 will not be another instrument of financial economy because I am quite certain that when we get pupils in our grammar and technical schools who can with advantage proceed to a form of higher education, it is not merely in their interests, but in the national interest that they should be encouraged so to go on.

I hope I have given the House sufficient reasons to justify the feeling on this side that we view with grave concern the action being taken by the local education authorities on the first two points I have raised. After all, it may be that the right hon. Lady only kicked a stone, but she certainly started an avalanche in some of these places.

The other day I asked her about Somersetshire. Really, the Press cuttings of the Ministry appear to be much worse than they were when I left, because there is no doubt that in Somersetshire the most astonishing economies will have to be effected if the decision of the county council on the estimates is to be implemented. The education committee said at its meeting that it might have to dismiss between 220 teachers on one basis or 490 on another. I hope that when the estimates reach the right hon. Lady she will be as courageous with them as she was with Warwickshire, and will see that the appalling cuts that have been made in that particular county are not pressed.

The Education Act, 1944, included the development plan. For the first time, local education authorities were asked to sit down and think out what their districts required. As a result, the development plan was produced. It has now in most cases, I think, been accepted by the Ministry and should be implemented. I do not think that in this matter of education we have very much time which we can afford to spend in waiting for the development plans to be brought into as full use as possible because we need in the Forces, in the factories, in the fields, and other places, people whose trained intelligence will enable them to deal with the far more complex problems that confront the workman in this modern mechanical world than those with which his ancestors had to deal.

I and my right hon. and hon. Friends regard with the gravest concern the atmosphere which the right hon. Lady's circulars have created in the committee rooms of the local education authorities. We believe that it is as well that we should say so now, and that we believe that the steady expansion of the service under the 1944 Act remains the paramount duty of the right hon. Lady and of this House.

I sincerely hope that the right hon. Lady will be able to give us assurances on the points I have mentioned. I notice that in the Amendment we are asked to recognise the duty of Her Majesty's Government in present circumstances to promote economy"— My trouble with the Tory Party has always been that I have never known them to be other than in a parsimonious mood with regard to education—and that we should welcome their determination to maintain the essential fabric of the educational service. As our Motion says, we go beyond a belief in maintenance. We believe that if this House and the Ministry are to do their duty by the country there must be as steady and as rapid an expansion as can possibly be arranged.

4.40 p.m.

The Minister of Education (Miss Florence Horsbrugh)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: recognises the duty of Her Majesty's Government in present circumstances to promote economy and welcomes their determination to maintain the essential fabric of the educational service. The first thing I want to do is to express my regret, and, I am sure, that of my hon. and right hon. Friends, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) cannot be with us here today. We have always listened with keenness and interest to what he has had to say about education, we know that he has it very much at heart, and we know that he is able to enliven what he has had to say in many ways which gave great pleasure to this House. We only hope that he will soon be back with us again, when, as he knows, he will receive from us a very warm welcome.

I am also glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), when moving his Motion, referred to co-operation in the 1944 Act. I thought that was a good omen, because I am hoping that we shall have co-operation in working out our educational system both now and in the future.

I hope that at the end of this debate we shall be able to agree unanimously on the terms of the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The right hon. Gentleman said he was glad that we had put down an Amendment as he thought that, otherwise, we should have agreed to his Motion and there would have been no discussion. I think the right hon. Gentleman can look forward to a discussion, which is what he wants, and at the same time I think we can have what I certainly want—a full discussion of our educational services at this time and of what we mean to do in the future.

I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the essential fabric of education. I agree with what he said about the relationship between teacher and pupil. He urged me not to be coerced by any local authority, although he said he thought I might give in to some more than others. My reply to him is that I am determined to be coerced neither by any local authority nor by anyone else in the work I want to do for education.

Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)

Including the Chancellor?

Miss Horsbrugh

Including the Chancellor. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] I think that perhaps the best way for me to deal with this problem is to ask the House to consider our present difficulties, and also what I consider to be the essential fabric of education. Before doing that, I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman that on this occasion in his speech we have got away from what I might call the hysteria and panic which has been displayed in some of the statements made about education at this time.

It is time the facts were known, and I have waited a good many weeks, even months, to make them known. I shall do my best to put them as quickly as I can, but I may take up some time of the House. Statements have appeared and I know that protest meetings were held. Speakers at those protest meetings gave what I presume was what they thought was the meaning of the circulars.

I have had a flood of letters from people who attended the protest meetings. Some wrote asking me if it would not be possible, even now, not to have the cut of 5 per cent. of the amount we are spending on education but, even in these difficult times, to keep the amount we are spending on education to the sum set down for this year. Others wrote to me—and I came to the conclusion that the balance was fairly even—saying they were glad we were cutting down as they felt they had been spending too much in their rates and not getting full value for the money. This misunderstanding was perhaps due to the speeches made at protest meetings—

Mr. Frederick Messer (Tottenham)

Due to the circular.

Miss Horsbrugh

Either there was a lamentable inability to read and understand the circular or a complete incompetence to reach the understanding of the audience. It is quite clear that in many cases these people really thought that what was being suggested was a cut of 5 per cent. on what is being spent on education this year in the amount that is to be spent next year.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)


Miss Horsbrugh

No, I have a good deal to say.

The only other thing I can suggest is that it might have been political propaganda. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] It might be as well if I first give certain facts. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will already have read the facts for themselves in the Estimates, but it would be as well for the country if those facts were recorded once more. It will be easier if I give the figures to the nearest million. A great many people thought that a 5 per cent. cut in the present year's expenditure on education is to be made and that, therefore, we should be spending next year 5 per cent. less than we shall be spending this year. What are the facts?

Mr. G. Thomas

The right hon. Lady puts them up and knocks them down.

Miss Horsbrugh

The fact remains that a great many people—

Mr. Thomas

Not here.

Miss Horsbrugh

I am quite certain that the hon. Gentleman may have done his best to explain to people. He may, even after this debate, go on trying to explain to people, but as there are many who have not understood, it will be just as well if I continue the explanation.

By the publication of the Estimates we know that local authorities will be spending in the coming year, 1952–53, over £14 million more than they will spend during the current year. In other words, strange as it may be, the public will now learn that there will not be a cut of 5 per cent. in the expenditure next year, 1952–53, on the expenditure of the present year 1951–52. Strange as it may be, there will not be a cut of 5 per cent. but practically an increase of 5 per cent.

These figures can be found in the Estimates. The increased grant from the Ministry of Education to the local authorities will be over £10¼ million. There- fore, the local authorities will be getting from the Exchequer over £10¼ million because they are spending £14 million more than last year and more than they have ever spent before. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Gentlemen will be quiet, I can get on more quickly and I think I shall meet their points. The net increase—[HON. MEMBERS: "A little more quickly."] If hon. Gentlemen do not want to hear, I am sure that there are a lot of other people who do want to hear.

The net increase, therefore, in the expenditure of the Ministry of Education is just under £6 million, because we have made certain economies. If we had not made those economies, the full increase of the extra £10 million to the local authorities would have been shown. From the taxpayers we are taking for education next year just under £6 million more than last year, and from the ratepayers we are taking about £4 million more. In all, on the education services of the country, the total increased expenditure is just under £10 million, and not a decrease of 5 per cent.

As we all know, the Estimates for education are the highest ever presented to Parliament. I want to say straight away that there should be no great pride in the fact that we are asking the taxpayers and the ratepayers for more money. I think there is a certain snobbishness nowadays in assuming that if you are spending more you must be doing better, and if you are spending less, then it must be cheap and nasty. What we want to do is to see that we get full value for our money and to spend well.

The reason for this increase, which will disappoint some of my correspondents and perhaps please others, is that there will be more children going to school—an extra 250,000—and more teachers—an extra 3,000. We have had the full impact of the increased salaries granted last year. Of that, 90 per cent. came in last year's figures and 10 per cent. comes next year. We carry forward 10 per cent.

In addition, there are the increased salaries and wages for those working for local authorities, and the increase in costs. Because of these increases, we are having the highest Estimate for education that we have ever had and we are assuming that local authorities will be spending £14 million more than they spent last year and more than they have ever spent. That, I may say, takes into account the reduction suggested in Circular 242.

With those figures before the House, I should now like to say something of the problem which faced me when I became Minister of Education. We knew that there would be an increase in the number of children going into the schools—we knew that that increase was beginning and that it would continue to about 1957. Then, the peak will flatten out slightly, and the number will go down after 1961. We knew also that, with our housing drive, there would be a further distribution of the population, and we realised that we must bear in mind the problem of the school accommodation which we could provide in the new towns and the new housing estates.

We had to do this at a time which, I think no one will disagree, is a time of great financial stringency—a time when all parties have decided that our armaments must be built up and our exports must be increased. We are tackling this problem at a time of financial stringency and also of stringency in materials.

I should like to take, first, the subject of teachers, because whatever we say about all the other difficulties, the main pivot of the entire system is the provision of teachers. I entirely agree with what has been said today about the size of classes. When we look at the figures we appreciate what has been said in another place—that when a teacher is trying to teach children in enormous classes, it is not teaching but is what has been described as mass instruction. The size of these classes is, I think, the greatest blot on our educational services today, and I do not think anybody will disagree with that.

It is a blot which I have inherited. Let us face the facts. That is what I want hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to do—to face the facts as they are today and to see what we can do about them. These classes exist, and not a single hon. Member disagrees that it is the greatest possible blot on the education service. Everybody, whatever his political opinion, would like to see a decrease in the number of children in the classes—in other words, a better ratio of teachers to children.

The question is: Can we do it? I take, first, the subject of teachers, because it is no use having extra buildings or anything else if we have not the teachers. We must first consider the provision of teachers. I have made the position clear in Circular 242. The right hon. Gentleman has said that, from the circular, local authorities might think I meant something different. I am quite willing here and now to make it perfectly clear—and I have made it perfectly clear to local authorities—that I meant, and I still mean, exactly what I said in Circular 242.

The National Advisory Council on the training and supply of teachers have been considering this problem. We have this large number of large classes, and I wanted to find out whether there was any possibility of increasing the ratio of teachers to pupils. They gave me no hope whatever of doing that in the years to come while there is this increase in the number of children. I am telling the House the facts, because we must face them. That is their opinion.

Let us look at the figures. I am determined that recruitment and training shall go on at full strength. As hon. Members will see, we are putting aside extra money for the training of teachers, and we hope to get more teachers. I am told that at present the wastage each year is in the neighbourhood of 10,000. I am looking into the question of whether we can obtain any more information about whether many leave the profession to enter other professions or whether, in a great many cases, it is a question of people getting older or of women getting married. That is a problem I want to consider. We know, of course, that some of them leave to take up other professions. We know that there are some who have been drawn from the schools into the House of Commons.

Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)

They are all on this side of the House.

Miss Horsbrugh

All I hope is that in the next few years we shall not have too much wastage from the schools into the House of Commons.

Mr. W. G. Cove (Aberavon)

The right hon. Lady does not like it.

Mr. Lindgren

They will never come as Tories.

Miss Horsbrugh

If we cannot decrease that wastage—and I am advised that there is not much hope of getting many more teachers that way—we must see how we can increase the number of entrants. We want 10,000 to keep the same ratio and to keep our teaching profession at the same level—10,000 a year. If we are to increase the number of teachers, as we must, even to keep the present staffing ratio, we must try to get an extra 3,000 a year, rising to 4,000 a year, in addition. In other words, we shall be attempting to recruit between 13,000 and 14,000 teachers each year. That is not easy. But I think everybody will agree with me that we must go all out to see whether we can do it.

When we see how we are getting them now, we find that we are getting into the teaching profession more than 60 per cent. of all the girls who stay through their secondary education course. We are taking probably 8,000 a year from there. I am told that, roughly speaking, there are about 13,000 to 14,000 of these girls. But, of course, we must ask ourselves, what about the nursing profession? It provides competition, and, from my experience of six years at the Ministry of Health, I know how I used to think that the Ministry of Education were trying to get many more of the girls to be teachers, whereas I was trying to get many more to be nurses.

In the country as a whole, we have to face the difficulty that we have to find staff for these schemes at a time when there is a real shortage of supply. The Ministry of Health tell me they would like to recruit 10,000 girls for nursing each year and would like them to come from the girls who have continued their secondary education. I should like a similar number, or at least 8,000. We shall also get our university graduates, and I find that a third of the intake at present are of people who have taken up other work and then made up their minds to come into the teaching profession.

But when we look at all this, we have to face the facts that have been put before me by the National Advisory Committee. We cannot hope—they inform me—to be able to recruit more than the 14,000 who are necessary even to keep the standard as it is. In fact, I am told that about the year 1954 it will be very difficult even to keep the present ratio of teachers to pupils. If any hon. Member, during this debate, or at any other time, can assist with any constructive suggestion of what more can be done, I shall be glad to hear of it.

Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

Equal pay.

Miss Horsbrugh

I am asking all local authorities to staff up to the full. I should also like to say to those leaving the training colleges that, if possible, they should go to the areas most in need because, having taken the figures of the country as a whole, we find that the difficulty is distribution. There are areas where the ratio is much lower and areas with appallingly large classes. If the Minister of Education were a dictator—which I hope no Minister of Education will ever be—and dictated to local authorities and teachers, and distributed teachers exactly where they were needed, we would improve the situation to a certain extent.

So I urge that more and more we should look at the question of distribution. I am informed that there are some, very few, who are unemployed because, for many reasons, they cannot, or do not wish to, go into another area, but I appeal to all those coming from training colleges to see if, in these particularly difficult times, we can get a better distribution.

I have to say this to the House, that on the advice and facts given to me we cannot hope for an improvement in the size of our classes until the numbers of the children begin to go down after 1961. I think that is a dreadful thing.

Mr. G. Thomas

Classes will get larger.

Miss Horsbrugh

We might have a slight increase, but I am hoping that it will be only slight. Those are the facts. Here, at any rate, I can say that there is no cut. We are paying more for training and doing everything we can and will do all we can to get the right standard and give them the training. [An HON. MEMBER: "Building."] I am coming to building, but for the moment I am speaking of teachers.

Teachers are essential and it is no use having extra buildings if we have not the teachers. I am urging those coming into the teaching profession to see how important it is in these days. There is no cut in regard to teachers. Let those who talk—and I agree with them—about this subject of the size of classes face the facts. The only way we could decrease the size of classes would be to decrease the number of children. There is no other way that I can see, and that I do not wish to do.

Mr. Ede

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Lady, but does this mean that she will see that any education authority which has made what she would regard as an unjustifiable cut in the amount it sets aside for the training of teachers in its area will have its attention drawn to that and be called on to do its duty, not merely to its own area, but to the country?

Miss Horsbrugh

I shall come to some of those points at the end of my speech. I have already said that I will be coerced by no local authority. I am stating what my policy is, and that policy I want to carry through. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I have not received the estimates yet, but I am stating as clearly as I can the policy I wish to pursue and I think I have made it perfectly clear on the subject of teachers, although I have, again, to say that one of the difficulties is distribution. If there were areas on a very different ratio of teachers to pupils, there might be a case where it would be useful if teachers moved to areas where there is a desperate need for them.

I now come to the subject of buildings. I have put the subject of teachers first because it would not matter how many buildings we had if we did not have the teachers there. The teachers are most important of all. I come to the subject of buildings and the supply of school places. My predecessor, the right hon. Member for Farnworth, calculated that between 1947 and 1953 there would be a need for 1,150,000 extra places. He calculated this in consideration of the extra number of children who were in schools because of the raising of the school-leaving age and on account of the increase in the birthrate and movements of the population to new housing estates.

The right hon. Gentleman said that some desirable things would have to be postponed. He said there might be no new provision for nursery schools, except in very special cases. He said there could be no replacing or improvement of the present schools and, I am sorry to say, also, as the right hon. Member for South Shields has said, reorganisation of present schools, which meant buildings.

That was the policy my predecessor laid down after consideration of the facts. I accept that policy. I have examined it; there is much I should have liked to have changed, but I have been up against it just as he was up against it. I cannot see how we can change the facts that he stated, because to provide those places we must concentrate on the building of new schools, primary and secondary, for the increase in the number of children coming into new housing estates.

Mr. Norman Dodds (Dartford)

What about the present nursery schools in Kent? Are they to be allowed to close?

Miss Horsbrugh

If the hon. Member will wait, I will deal with all these matters.

The figures we have worked out are calculated to produce the 1,150,000 extra places by the end of 1953—680,000 have already been completed, 400,000 are under construction and we have plans for the rest. I shall be told, perhaps, that this is not possible after the statements put out in Circular 245, so I will come to that matter next.

I think hon. and right hon. Members will all agree that there was no doubt that last autumn the building industry was lover-loaded. I do not think there is any disagreement about that. The investment programme that had been undertaken by the previous Government was based on an assumption of greater productivity in the building industry and on a greater supply of certain materials, especially steel. Their estimates were wrong. It was found by the autumn of last year that that was wrong and that the building that had been arranged under the building programmes could not be completed. No one who looks into the facts of the building programmes of the various local authorities will deny that it was found impossible to carry out the programmes of 1951–52.

The first thing the present Government did was to put a moratorium on new starts. We might then, by continuing the use of the labour and materials available, be able to complete more of the work under construction. There were 400,000 places at that time, and I believe that in that way I shall get those 400,000 places sooner than I should otherwise have got them. Two-thirds of the building programme of 1951–52—we looked at it at the end of November—had to be carried forward to the next year.

Let me give the example of the London County Council. By the end of 1951 London had started £1.6 million worth of work out of their approved programme of £4.5 million, and £3 million worth of work had, therefore, to be carried forward. The revised 1952–53 programme for London is £3.9 million. If they manage to start the whole of this, they will be doing far better than in any previous years. Their best year for starting work was 1950–51, when the programme was a 15-month one. They then started £2.6 million worth of work.

This year, provided the steel is available, the L.C.C. will be allowed to start, in the 1952–53 programme, £3.9 million worth of work; plus £500,000, the value of the main contract which had been carried over from 1950–51. That is the programme of one very large school which was authorised in 1950–51 and of which only the foundation construction has so far been started. The whole superstructure has not begun, and it was authorised in 1950–51. That £500,000 structure is in addition to the £3.9 million. It will be a bigger programme than they have ever attempted, but they assure me that they can deal with it.

I am sometimes asked to increase the programme. I can assure the House that over and over again we have discussed with authorities the figures of progress in the past. I am convinced there is no use whatever in merely adding to the size of the programme and getting more starts unless we feel that the programme can be carried out, that the industry will not get overloaded and that the architects will be able to give sufficient supervision to the work being done.

It is sometimes suggested that we could have done more than we are doing. I agree that some work has had to be postponed, in some cases for a year. But I should like any hon. Member to give me some constructive advice about what else could be done. We have had to carry forward this work which was not done last year. If it were possible to get an increase of about 60 per cent. in educational building, in both labour and materials, we could do more, considerably more, in catching up on what was not done last year; but we all know that that is quite impossible.

I am sometimes told, "You are not thinking of the children. Should not you be trying to get this extra amount because of the children?" I would assure the House that I am thinking of the children. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day that it was our greatest duty to the children to see that we kept this country secure and solvent. We realise that houses have to be built. We have agreed that we have to build up armaments. We have all agreed that there must be further exports to pay for food and raw materials. After a certain balance has been achieved—and I think I have done well—I do not think that any hon. Member would consider that we can demand more steel to the detriment of housing, or exports, or of the rearmament programme.

Mr. G. Thomas

One ton in 500.

Miss Horsbrugh

Hon. Members will have their chance of putting forward figures of amounts which they think are required, and from where they will be taken, either from housing, exports or the re-armament programme. We shall have these adjustments, and in planning this programme I said it was calculated to produce the same number as my predecessor said was necessary by 1953.

The question arises: What about after that? What about the secondary schools? We know that the bulge, as we call it, will be through the infant schools in 1953, and through the junior schools in 1956, and that is the time that the extra numbers will be going into the secondary schools. I have looked at this, and we either have to make certain arrangements or we shall not be able to get the full 10 years of schooling, because we would not have places for the children. We are keeping the 10-year programme. The arrangements I have made are, I think, known, but I had better repeat them.

For a relatively short time there was, in the new secondary schools, fourth form entry with 27 teaching places, shall we say, an arrangement for 20 classes. For this relatively short period I am suggesting there should be 24 classes. After 1956, as we know, the bulge will have gone through the primary schools to the secondary schools, and we shall have a very substantial number of surplus places in the primary schools. Some of those places can, I think, be used for secondary education. There might be a case where a whole primary school could be used as a secondary school, and there are cases where a whole primary school could be taken as an annex for a secondary school.

Further, in some areas it might be necessary to keep children who would be moving to secondary schools in a primary school building for one, two or three terms. Those, I think, are definite and practical suggestions for dealing with this tremendously difficult problem and, at the same time, retaining the full school age of 15. I see no other way, and if any right hon. or hon. Member can suggest any other way it can be done, I shall be very willing to listen. The numbers will be going down after 1961, but we have to hold the situation during those few years. I believe that it is the sensible and wise plan for doing it.

Mr. Ede

I understand from the explanation given today by the Minister, which is a little fuller than is given in Circular 245, that the third group of children will be on the roll of the secondary school, and will be taught by teachers on the staff of the secondary school, under the head teacher of the secondary school, and will not be part of the primary school organisation of the area.

Miss Horsbrugh

This will not happen until 1956, and I ask local authorities to consider it. I want to see that these children do get a secondary education and are not being set back. That is my point. I have not laid it down. Discussions will take place with the local authorities nearer the time. But in that circular I have not suggested any detailed scheme. This will not happen until 1956 and I think local authorities will consider it because it varies from area to area.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)

Does the Minister think that those children will, over that limited period, receive secondary education in the primary schools? If so, who will be responsible for the teaching of that secondary education—the primary school teachers or secondary school teachers?

Miss Horsbrugh

I want to give suggestions to the local authorities, but I want them to deal with the problem themselves and to make suggestions to me. Those children should be receiving secondary education. I am asking the local authorities to consider the matter before 1956 and to make suggestions about the best way of doing it. It will only be for a short time—perhaps one or two terms and, at the most, three terms in certain limited areas.

Before I leave the subject of building and the supply of school places, I should like to add that my predecessor stated, when discussing the number of places required, that these figures would be sufficient—he thought and I agree—for England and Wales as a whole. But he always added that in some cases there may be a temporary hold-up perhaps on a housing estate. We are aiming to synchronise the completion of school building with the building of houses, but we cannot absolutely guarantee that. My predecessor did not and I do not.

It will make some difference if the newcomers to housing estates have a baby under school age or large families of children of both primary and secondary school age. I state that because my predecessor stated it and I entirely agree. I want to say something further on economy in building and in design.

Mr. Dodds

The right hon. Lady promised to say something about the nursery schools which have been open for some time. Are they, or are they not, to be closed?

Miss Horsbrugh

I am trying to deal with what I call the first priorities—primary, secondary and technical education. Then I will deal with the others.

I want to say something about building, the difficulty about materials and the financial strain. Then I want to say something which I think the House will find more cheerful and encouraging, but I warn hon. Members that it is a cut. I hope that it will be a cut in money, a cut in time and a cut in materials. We want the utmost value for the money, labour and materials, and we want the local authorities to get value from the buildings they are putting up.

We want adequate schools at the lowest price compatible with reasonable expenditure on maintenance. We all agree on that. I congratulate my predecessor on the fact that he began the economy drive in 1949. I might say that he did not begin it any too soon. I only wish that somebody had begun it before he did. I think that the cost figures would interest the House. The average net cost of a place in a primary school started in 1949—

Mr. W. G. Cove (Aberavon)


Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)

Order. If the right hon. Lady does not give way, the hon. Gentleman must resume his seat. The hon. Gentleman told me that he wants to make a speech. He is going the wrong way about doing it.

Miss Horsbrugh

The average net cost per place—

Mr. Cove

The right hon. Lady spoke of economy in cost.

Miss Horsbrugh

The average net cost per place in a primary school started in 1949 was £195. In the autumn of 1949 my predecessor sent out two circulars and started an economy campaign. By 1950 the cost had gone down from £195 to £158 per place. It will now be £140 per place. In secondary schools the figures are £323, £276 and £240. I am absolutely sure that the schools will be not less adequate.

The saving is due to the intelligence, the hard work and the ingenuity of the officials both in the offices of the local authorities and of the Ministry of Education, and the help of many manufacturers who have been considering how they can plan better. They have made economies in superficial area, but they have done it with absolutely no effect on the teaching places in the primary schools. We shall have more compact buildings. The economies are in circulation space, long corridors and wide passages. The size of a school, with the teaching places kept as they were, will be two-thirds of the size of the old school.

There are other economies in heating and lighting and in the places where the coats usually hang. All these have made a considerable difference. The cost of the installation of the heating system can now be reduced from 7s. a square foot to 5s. a square foot. We are getting more efficient schemes for the automatic control of fuel consumption. Experiments are now being carried out by the Hertfordshire local authority and the Building Research Station. By these means we shall get economy, and we intend to get still more economy.

Further economy is in site labour. A single-storey primary school built on traditional lines has taken two years to build. Under the new methods we hope to cut that time by one-third or one-half. This will all help in our building programme. The development group in my Department, four local authorities and several manufacturers are co-operating to develop multi-storey construction. We hope to be able to build secondary schools in 18 months instead of taking three years. I think that these are cuts which will be welcome and which will be of immense assistance in the tremendous problem of the local authorities who have to tackle the building programmes.

Now I come to the question of awards and scholarships. The right hon. Gentleman asked me about this subject, and I hope that I shall be able to give him a satisfactory reply. First, let me say that I want to keep the full opportunity open. There will be the same number of State scholarships as there were last year. There will be more students going up to university this year, because so many were deferred and did not take up their scholarships last year. We are considering now with representatives of the universities and of the local authorities what should be the right maintenance rate.

It was because these matters were being considered that the circular to which the right hon. Gentleman referred was sent to local authorities. The new rates for maintenance will come in in the autumn. I do not want to lay down definite rules. In the discussion of their awards, I thought that the fullest possible knowledge should be given to them. I asked them in that circular to await the further particulars, and the table to which the right hon. Gentleman referred has been sent to them since. He asked why we had given this long list of the different amounts awarded in the different areas. He asked whether the one who was awarded the most was to be praised and the one awarded the least was to be blamed. I say certainly not.

We in the House were all anxious to know what the lay-out was. We all agree that exactly the same principles apply. People who wish to profit by university education cannot be geographically arranged throughout the country. There are bound to be more candidates in some areas than there are in others. But I felt that it would help the local authorities if these facts were made known. For that reason, I had a table prepared.

The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that this circular would not do anything. I think the last paragraph of the circular shows that what I suggested was that the local authorities should wait to make their arrangements for awards until they heard what the maintenance rates would be for the State scholarships, and until they had this further information which I could give them.

I then said, as the right hon. Gentleman will see, that the next step was that I would like to have discussions with them about the number and size of the awards they were to make. I asked them to wait until they got the information, and suggested that, when they had the information, they should discuss the matter with me before they decided.

Now I turn to further education and technical education. I am trying to indicate the fabric of our education, and I think that as yet there is no part of the fabric of education in which it can be said that I have made cuts and have pushed back education in this country. We wish to provide more and better technical education for all grades of workers. We know the interest taken in it by both sides of industry, and of the increase in daytime students taking the national certificate.

The building programme will provide for new starts up to £3 million and, at present, there is under construction £15 million worth of work. What we have had to say to those in charge of technical education is that, in this new building programme, we must look to certain priorities, and that priority must be given to new buildings in connection with mining, engineering, textiles and the building industry. We are not applying any cuts to the other branches, but simply saying that their premises cannot be increased by more new buildings. The others must be content with the buildings which they now have, while the increased new building must go to those branches which I have specified as having been given priority.

Local authorities should also look at the fees being charged, and here again I am doing what my predecessor did in his Circular 210, in which he told the local authorities that they should examine the fees being charged, and he gave them a margin of 10 per cent. by which local authorities should increase their fees by 1959. I have not done that. I have simply asked them to look at their fees because of the extraordinary divergences.

I have not got the full figures in connection with fees, as I had for the awards, but, in the figures which I have got, the divergences between one authority and another are very great. I find that, in full-time art classes, they vary from one authority to another from £3 a year to £30 a year. I find that, in the part-time, one-day-a-week machine shop engineering classes, the fees vary between one local authority and another from 10s. a year to 4 guineas a year. When we come to the engineering certificate classes, the variation is from 5s. 6d. to £1 10s.

I think it will be of value for the authorities to look at these variations in their fees, because I am perfectly certain that there are cases in which those who are attending such classes are able and quite willing, as they have told me, to pay more than the small sum which they are now being charged. Therefore, I see no reason why, in certain cases, these fees could not be increased, and I agree with what my predecessor said in 1949 on these very facts.

It is my view that recreational classes should be made self-supporting, and I do not think that anybody will disagree about that. I know it is very difficult sometimes to draw the line between recreational and vocational education, but nobody will disagree with me when I say that those who attend ballroom dancing classes must see that they make their classes self-supporting. There is no reason at all why anybody wishing to attend classes in ballroom dancing should think that other ratepayers are having to pay for those classes. I am perfectly certain that our recreational classes should be self-supporting.

Now I turn to special schools. I am trying to build up what I call the essential fabric of our education. In special schools, we shall be spending on the pupils more than was spent last year. The building programme also includes more places in special schools. I am particularly anxious to see that we should give a priority, if possible, to deaf and partly deaf children.

On the health service, I will speak only of the dental service, and I think my opinions on this matter are well known. I am entirely in favour of strengthening the dental service, and, in the last debate in which I spoke from the other side of the House last July, I said I was horrified that we had not provided a comprehensive service, that the recommendations of the Teviot Report were set aside, and that we started in 1948 a free dental service for all.

If hon. Members will look at that Report and the White Papers which have been issued, they will find that it was known that there were not enough dentists in the country to give that free treatment for all, and it was decided that children should be given priority. This is only common sense. If children's teeth are properly looked after, we shall have a generation coming along with much better teeth than the present one, and it will mean, not only that much ill-health and pain has been saved, but that a waste of money in fitting dentures has also been avoided.

Since 1948, the number of dentists working in schools has been falling. In 1948, there were 921 full-time dentists; in 1950, there were only 736; and, in 1951, at the beginning of the year, there were 711, and the figures were still falling. A Whitley Council has been set up, and I have great hopes of a new scheme which will really help to build up the dental service again. It is too early yet to judge, although I am encouraged to note that one authority has just engaged two extra full-time dentists.

I know it has been said that cuts have been made in some estimates. Local authorities have been putting into their estimates sums for dentists whom they were trying to get, but failed to get. They have been advertising for dentists, but have found that they could not get them. When they found that they could not get the dentists, some of them took out these extra sums, but, if we can get the dentists, they will be employed, and the estimates can be re-arranged in the autumn. I assure the House that I shall do everything I possibly can to build up this service, and to help local authorities to do it.

I have already kept the House too long, but I want to say something about school meals. The number of children taking school meals is now 2,750,000, and 300,000 are having them free. I have been looking into the cost here. I know that, in Circular 210, my predecessor put up the price. Hon. Members may have seen that Circular 242 is similar to Circular 210 in what we have done.

I am now looking into the cost of the school meals service, and I find that the food cost £19 million last year, and that the overheads represented £21 million. I consider these overheads or administrative costs too high, and, before I consider any change in the price of the meals, I want to be assured that I have cut the administrative costs to the lowest possible amount. Therefore, I have been discussing and am still discussing this matter with local authorities, and I feel that I can aim at a reduction in the administrative costs of £1 million a year. I cannot get the full reduction in the current financial year, because it takes time to work these things out.

We want some reorganisation. The service was set up and has been working for a number of years, but I believe that we should reorganise it to make it an efficient service, and yet not spend as much as we have been doing on the administrative side in proportion to the food we are supplying.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)

Would the right hon. Lady assure the House she will not cut down on administration by cutting down the numbers of people employed in the school meals service and so putting more work on the teachers?

Miss Horsbrugh

I can assure the hon. Lady I have no intention of putting more work on the teachers. I can give that assurance absolutely. The hon. Lady must realise there is more in this than serving the meals. We have to look at the whole organisation. We have to see, for example, whether the accommodation is fully used. It is a cut, but it is in administration and I hope it will be a benefit. I think that if we could reduce the cost of administration we should be all in favour of it.

I have been looking into administrative costs at the Ministry of Education and I am glad to say that there is a considerable saving in expenditure on headquarters staff. This year there will be a decrease of £30,000 despite an additional sum of £75,000 which is being paid out in increases in salaries announced by the Treasury last January. The salaries of the inspectorate will be increased, but we shall also have a saving of £7,000 on travelling and incidentals. I am glad to say that administrative costs at Ministry Headquarters in ratio to the amount to be spent in the coming year will be a record low figure.

I will now turn, briefly, to Circular 242 and what are called the cuts. I have already described how this 5 per cent. was being regarded by some people and I have referred to the misapprehensions. There are those in this House and elsewhere who have taken up this matter with much vehemence. Someone went so far as to say there should never be an economy in the educational service at all. It was also said that expenditure on education should be exactly in ratio to other expenditure and that ratio should never change. That is madness, that is heading straight for bankruptcy. It has also been said that if we spend more on armaments we should spend more on education, but I have not heard anyone say that if in any year we spend less on re-armament we should therefore spend less on education.

There is a great similarity between Circular 210 and Circular 242. My predecessor said, in Circular 210: The maintenance of this policy depends, however, on the strictest economy being exercised in the administration of education. He spoke of expenditure on administration and inspection and he told the local authorities that it had increased too much. It was then £12,500,000, nearly double what it was in 1945–46. He added: Making all due allowances for unavoidable factors, such as an increased volume of work and higher salaries, there appears to be room for considerable retrenchment. I agree. Some people have said, "We agree there should be economies, but you cannot have two bites at the cherry." The economies were made in 1949 and, therefore, we cannot have more economies in 1952."My predecessor said that the cost of administration at £12,500,000 was too high and he asked that it should be cut. Administrative costs have risen to £13 million and I think a little more should be cut. Recreation and physical training was costing £4,500,000 in 1949 and my predecessor said: This is a higher figure than can be justified in present conditions … That cost has risen by £1 million.

I am convinced, despite all that has been said and written and all the misapprehensions, that the majority in this House, facing the present situation, feel from the statement I have made of what we are doing that we are maintaining the essential fabric of education. I doubt whether there is any hon. or right hon. Member who will tell me how we can obtain more teachers. We shall be delighted to get them; there will be no cuts, we will take them all. I should be interested to know how we could have more buildings. I am willing to go on with our arrangements as far as possible, and our new economy design and the speed with which we can build nowadays will help us.

I have dealt with primary, secondary, and technical education, the health service in schools, and school meals, and I say with all sincerity that in these difficult days, in face of all the pressure and all the urgency of the times, if we worked together as those who have been planning buildings have worked together and have produced those buildings through teamwork and unity; if we in this country showed the same ingenuity and the same inspiration, if we at the Ministry, the local authorities and we in the House of Commons really looked forward to doing the best possible job for education, I believe that little disagreement would be found between us. I should like to feel that this unity will begin tonight and that it will go out from the House that we are unanimous, that we have to promote economy but that we intend to maintain all the essential fabric of education.

Mr. Dodds

Before the right hon. Lady sits down, will she say something about nursery schools?

Miss Horsbrugh

I quite agree that I should have said something about nursery schools, but I was looking at the clock and I knew I had spoken for too long.

The policy on nursery schools is exactly the same as the policy of my predecessor. We cannot build more and we cannot get more people to staff them, but I mean to maintain them. As hon. Members know, I have said to the local authorities that there can be no indiscriminate closing of nursery schools. They must look at each school on its merits and consider the purpose of the service. The same applies to the divisional executives.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Dryden Brook (Halifax)

I am very glad to have been called and to have been given the opportunity of following the right hon. Lady. Although in the time at my disposal I shall not be able to deal with all the points in her speech, there were one or two which come within the scope of what I had prepared to say. If we wanted any justification for today's debate I think we should find it in the words of a very eminent Conservative statesman of the last century, Disraeli, who said: On the education of the people of this country the fate of the people depends. Today we are debating whether Circulars 242 and 245 issued by the Minister will have any deleterious effect on educational standards either now or in the future. I am glad that the right hon. Lady has repeated today something which she said yesterday, and something which the Parliamentary Secretary said in a speech a week or two ago, in which there has been an attempt to deny that there has been a cut in the educational services. The trouble arises because the right hon. Lady tries to hide what she has done in a mass of figures.

What is the purpose of this expenditure on education? Surely it is the maintenance of the standards of education which are implied in the 1944 Act. That Act was intended to provide not merely for an increasing number of children, as a result of the raising of the school-leaving age and the rise in the population, but also for a constantly expanding sphere of education.

If we have regard to that, and also take cognisance of the fact that we have, in our Education Estimates, to provide for a continual rise in the cost of everything—and it should be remembered that while many of the services are of a contractual nature the prices of which are fixed in advance there is also a continual rise in the price of the requisites for education—then it seems to me that unless the Minister can prove that the expenditure this year will amply cover the expansion of the service for the required number of children, there has, in fact, been a cut in the service if not in the amount of money.

It is not the amount of money that is of significance; it is whether the amount of money available will cover the cost of the services we envisage. I have here a quotation from the "Manchester Guardian" of the 12th December, 1951. In a leading article it says: It is nonsense, of course, to pretend that the average cut of 5 per cent. demanded by the recent circular in the Educational Estimates of local education authorities for 1952–53 can be anything but injurious. The forest of frills ripe for pruning supposed to proliferate in the public primary and secondary schools exists only in the imagination of Conservative Members of Parliament, most of whom, except for the purpose of Election meetings, have never entered them. I have another authority—the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees—who says in "Education" of 14th December, 1951, in concluding an article: In the light of these facts the request for a 5 per cent. saving is, in my judgment, neither reasonable nor practicable in the terms of the circular. In the light of those two statements, can it be seriously maintained that no harm will result either now or in the future from these circulars?

We should ask ourselves whether there should be any cuts at all in the education services, and here I have high authority. Before the 1944 Act was produced, the then Minister of Education sent round to a number of organisations the famous green circular, in which he asked for an expression of their opinion. Almost every organisation interested in education in the country expressed its views. This is a quotation from the Conservative and Unionist Party organisation in a pamphlet which they issued called "Looking Ahead." Educational aims. First interim Report. Of all the State's activities Education is the basic activity, because it conditions the future character of the entire community. Since it is essentially a long-term activity, nothing but the direst necessity should be allowed to hamper or interrupt it. In peace-time no temporary economic crisis should be permitted to have any effect at all upon educational services. That was what was said by the Conservative and Unionist Party organisation in 1944.

The right hon. Lady gave expression to an idea, which is becoming prevalent at the present time, that our educational services have become extravagant; that there is a good deal of waste.

Miss Horsbrugh

indicated dissent.

Mr. Brook

I do not say that that is the right hon. Lady's own idea, but she gave expression to it as coming to her from other people. I have had that idea brought to my notice and I have made inquiries of my own education authority in Halifax as to what is the actual cost per child in education now, as compared with the cost in 1946–47.

In 1946–47, in Halifax, the overall cost of education per child was £30.6. In 1950–51 it was £37.5. That is an increase of 22½ per cent.; but the index figure of retail prices over the same period has increased by 29 per cent. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may smile, but the retail price level has gone up more than the price of education, and that destroys the idea that there has been extravagance in education.

In relation to the increase in the retail price level, there must obviously be taken into consideration the fact that a good many of the prices are controlled, and some of them have been subsidised; so if one takes the general run of prices necessary for the education service—the educational requisites, the salaries of teachers and all the other expenses—the probability is that they have gone up in greater proportion than the retail price index. Yet, in my own borough of Halifax the actual cost on the rates is less per child today than in 1946–47.

I suggest that the method adopted by the Minister in sending out Circular 242 was both vicious in its principle and unfair in its incidence. Local educational committees have always been subject to pressure by the local chancellor of the exchequer—the chairman of the finance committee. There is always that pressure to reduce their estimates. Now, superimposed on that, we get a national pressure.

The unfairness of the incidence arises from the fact that many local educational authorities had already, under that local pressure, cut their estimates for 1952–53 to the bone; and when they had this second pressure superimposed any attempt to make the cuts inevitably meant that they had to go far beyond what the Minister said in the Circular. The "Manchester Guardian," again in a leading article, says: The Government has to be forced into the open and made to defend the proposals on their merits. Let me compare what the Minister suggested in Circular 242 as being the field in which cuts might be made with some of the cuts which have been made by local education authorities. In the circular it is suggested that there are four fields in which cuts are possible; first, administration; second, transport of children; third, further education; and fourth, facilities for recreation—social and physical.

What have local education authorities done? My own authority, which up to now I have always looked upon as being a progressive authority, has decided to close down completely four nursery classes and to reduce two more by 50 per cent. All these classes are in working-class areas. In response to Questions in this House the Minister has repeatedly deprecated that kind of action.

The extent to which the mothers of the children are employed in work of national importance is a primary factor to be taken into consideration. In Halifax there has been a high priority for working mothers in our nursery classes. I know that the great majority of those mothers are working either whole-time or part-time, and at present there is a long waiting list of mothers wanting to get their children into these nursery classes.

It seemed to me that it was inevitable from the wording of the Minister's circular that that kind of thing would happen. The chairman of the education committee says that this cut is made to provide room for those over five years' old, but I hope that when the Minister comes to consider this question she will make the strictest investigation into all the factors before allowing that kind of action.

Then there is the decision to revise the scale of income limits for the award of maintenance and clothing allowances to children in our primary schools The past scale of the authority to which I am referring compares favourably with those of other authorities but the Minister's edict has led to this cut which affects the very poorest section of the population.

I should also like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that that authority has cut its grant for university scholarships by £1,000 for next year.

Mr. Pickthorn

Is that Halifax?

Mr. Brook

Yes; Halifax.

Halifax has a good record in the past, of which I have been proud; and I have spoken of my pride in the House. But what the Minister has done has meant that drastic action has been taken contrary to her own professions in the House. This must mean that there will be either fewer scholarships or lower maintenance grants, which is, again, in direct conflict with the Minister's own Circular 247. If we are to read the signs aright, according to the "Economist" last week the probability is that the maintenance allowance will be raised, and not lowered. I hope that this may prove to be true.

I should like now to turn to Circular 245. The Minister's justification for this stand as regards the building programme is that local authorities will be able to quicken the pace at which they are able to finish what building is in progress. As the Minister herself said today, they will be able to use all the labour in completing the work that has been begun.

That is a misconception of the nature of the labour that is involved. All the preparatory labour that has to be used before a school can be begun is not the kind of labour that can be used in the finishing processes. Therefore, when the programme is finished, the labour that was used in the preparatory work will have been dispersed and it will be exceedingly difficult to get it back again. It is not as if the same kind of labour could be used throughout, from the beginning to the end of the building of a school.

The right hon. Lady has asked for practical suggestions in regard to building. In my opinion, she gave them herself when later in her speech she described the new methods to be adopted for building schools. If I remember rightly, she said that the new methods would mean a reduction in the time for building a school from two years to one-half or one-third of that period. If the right hon. Lady could, here and now, put into operation the new methods of which she has told us today, they would make a vast difference to the possibilities of the educational progress, after the end of 1953, to which we all look forward, and with which she has dealt this afternoon.

The problem will be not merely to deal with the bulge in the school population at the end of 1953. The great problem from then onwards will be the implementation of the other aspect of the 1944 Act—the content of education rather than the machinery. That involves great reductions in the size of our classes. How are we to be able to begin in that direction when, even if teachers are available, we do not have the accommodation for the smaller classes?

The purpose of this debate will have been achieved if it can have driven home, not merely to Members of the House but to the people as a whole, the vital importance that is attached to the development of our educational system; not merely in the amount of money that we spend, but in ensuring that in spending it we proceed also with the implementation of the 1944 Act in so far as it affects the calibre of the nation's children.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)

I am delighted that it should fall first to my lot to be able to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education on her speech this afternoon, in which she revealed in detail a practical, constructive and imaginative policy which has gone far farther than I ever imagined possible towards overcoming the extraordinarily difficult problem with which the Ministry of Education is at present faced.

My right hon. Friend must have found it difficult to know how to answer the case put forward by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), because the case, as far as I could gather from his speech, did not exist at all. The right hon. Member put forward no single broad, constructive argument to support the Motion which he was moving, and the answer given by my right hon. Friend seemed to me to be overwhelming.

The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook), in a considerable proportion of his speech, dealt with matters of detail with regard to his own local education authority, to which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will be replying later. The point which interested me most in the hon. Member's speech was when he asked the House to consider whether Circulars 242 and 245 had had any deleterious effects on the essential fabric of education.

The hon. Member did not seem to give any very clear answer to that, but neither he nor his right hon. Friend, who opened the debate attempted to deal with the question of what would happen to the essential fabric of education had those circulars not been issued. That is one of the matters which the House ought to consider very carefully before coming to any conclusion as to the desirability or otherwise of those circulars.

The hon. Member said that he thought the purpose of our education policy should be to maintain the standards laid down under the 1944 Act. Of course, that is right, and it is the purpose of those circulars to do just that. The hon. Member said that it was an open question whether there should be any cuts in education at all. When hon. Members opposite talk like this, we are entitled to ask them to define rather more clearly the sense in which they are using the word "cuts" in that sort of context.

My right hon. Friend has already made clear what should have been clear to anybody who looked earlier at the figures: that there has been no absolute cut in the expenditure on education compared with last year. Are the hon. Member and his hon. Friends suggesting that no local education authority's preliminary estimates should ever, in any circumstances, be cut? If they suggest that, the situation becomes too fantastic even to contemplate. Of course, they must be scrutinised, and in certain circumstances they may have to be cut, depending on the stringency of the financial position and the availability of resources in any particular year.

The hon. Member for Halifax then referred to the fact that there was always pressure by the chairman of a local authority's finance committee acting as a continual spur to economy, and he suggested that things had come to a pretty pass when there was additional pressure from the centre, from the State, the Government, superimposed upon that. Surely, the hon. Member does not suggest that neither the Government nor Parliament should scrutinise, and scrutinise closely, expenditure which is eligible for State grant, because if that is suggested the position becomes quite fantastic.

The main question to which the House has to address itself is to ask what would have happened if no practical policy had been devised for coping with a problem in education which has become almost chronic in the social services as a whole in the last four years; that is, the problem of what to do when revenue has become more or less static, when the demands on expenditure are continually increasing, when we have a very large rearmament programme and when the economies which can be made in rearmament—by way of charge on the National Debt or in administration—are limited, and yet the demands on the social services and the costs of items in those social services are continually rising.

The answer is, of course, that if we do no more than was done by the last Government—which was to impose a flat ceiling of expenditure upon each of the social services—all we do is to ensure that everything within those services is done a little less well than it was the year before. That is the position with which we have been faced not only in education but in health.

In my opinion, the threat to the standards of education given in the primary and secondary schools of this country has been very severe, and it has been getting worse. I have never been in favour of trying to carry out education in this country on the cheap. Nor have I ever pressed simply for reductions in the amount of expenditure on education. I can assure hon. Members opposite, if they care to doubt me, that I am on record in that respect, both in speeches and in writings on this subject.

I have always said that the standards of education have to be maintained, but that we shall get what is now called "the essential fabric of education" properly maintained only if we are prepared to devote the resources available to us first to the things which are most important and need doing first. In order to do that, with a ceiling upon expenditure, we have got to cut out a certain amount of less essential things. Otherwise there will be a continual decline everywhere. There will be a deterioration in the size of classes, in the quality of instruction given, in the amount of equipment given and so forth.

I have always maintained that during this period the first priority to which local authorities and the Minister would have to address themselves was the primary schools; and we shall be extremely lucky—and we should have been lucky whatever Government had been in power—if we succeed not only in finding the places required to get all the children into primary schools but at the same time in securing that there is no deterioration in the quality of teaching.

My right hon. Friend referred to the absolute physical limits on the recruitment of teachers at this present time. I do not know if hon. Members have ever heard the figure that I heard some months ago, that over 60 per cent. of the girls in this country who remain at school after the age of 15 are now becoming teachers. Have hon. Gentlemen opposite considered the competition, in that age group of girls, of various callings. There is not only teaching. There are nursing and the medical services, secretarial work, commercial occupations and so forth.

The physical limitations on the ability of local authorities to recruit more teachers are, if anything, going to get worse, because the size of that age group in the population is at the moment declining. This is a problem which is going to be immensely severe, and it is not to be solved by having a low quality in the teachers recruited. That, in my view, is something against which we should set our faces absolutely. We shall never improve the quality in the standards of education by lowering the quality of the teachers.

Now I want for one moment to turn to the question of the school dental service, which has been referred to by my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Halifax. I have never had any doubt that, in order to divert more dentists into the school dental service, it would be necessary in present conditions to impose some considerable deterrent to practice in the other parts of the dental profession. I am hopeful that the provisions of the National Health Service Bill will have that effect. Nevertheless, there are very great difficulties in recruiting dentists for the school dental service.

In my opinion, there has been far too much insistence, as a matter of deliberate policy in the past, on the employment of full-time dentists in that service. It has been generally considered that we must have a dentist who devotes himself or herself entirely to the care of children's teeth. I believe, and many friends of mine in the dental profession also believe, that this is the wrong approach. It is perfectly true that the care of children's teeth needs special skill and special personal qualities in the dentist. Obviously, it is not easy to get children to open their mouths at the right time and to keep them open, or to do all the things which make up the co-operation which the dentist requires from child patients.

Nevertheless, there are also a great many dentists who would refuse to go into a service which meant that they did nothing else except care for children's teeth. For one thing, they do not get the same clinical experience as they get in dealing with the teeth of people of all ages. Yet a great many dentists would be only too delighted, if given the chance, to spend, say, two full days or two half days in the school dental service every week.

I think that they should be given the opportunity to do that. I think the policy should be changed to make that easier, and I am quite sure that that, having regard also to the deterrent effects of the National Health Service Bill, if it becomes law, will staff up the school dental service in a much shorter period than we now believe possible.

I want to conclude by turning to one subject about which I and, I am sure, all my hon. Friends have been thinking a lot in the last month or two. During the two years in which I have been a Member of the House, I have taken part in a number of education debates and have been present at a few more. During that time I have heard from all quarters of the House—particularly, I think, from hon. Members opposite—appeals that we should keep party politics out of education, and that we should keep education non-political. Now that very desirable ideal has not been brought very much nearer or made any easier by the behaviour of some hon. Members opposite during the last few months.

It cannot have escaped the attention of everyone that the reaction to the Circulars 242 and 245 issued by my right hon. Friend has been totally and absolutely different both in kind and in degree from the reaction to Circular 210 in 1949. Yet it must be realised that the cuts which were made then were, in their way and in their incidence on certain parts of the service, every bit as serious.

Mr. G. Thomas

Not at all.

Mr. Maude

Yet there were no mass protests or meetings organised by or addressed by hon. Members opposite then. The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) was in my constituency last week, no doubt doing his best to get some political feeling into what otherwise would have been a branch meeting of the National Union of Teachers. If we really want to keep education non-political, and to work together, on both sides of the House, towards the improvement of education in this country, I am going to suggest to hon. Members opposite how we may go about it.

Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)

Would the hon. Gentleman also suggest to the House how he, in July last year, advocated a raising of the entry age from five and a half to six?

Mr. Maude

Yes, I should be delighted to do that. I have been waiting for the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) to try this one on me for some time. If the hon. Member for Workington had ever either read the full quotation or tried to understand what it meant, he would have realised that what I and certain of my hon. Friends have been saying about the standard and the quality of education is this.

We have a clear-cut choice here. If our resources of teachers and money are limited, and if we have an increasing number of children requiring education, we have come to a point where it becomes obvious—and I hope, as my right hon. Friend hopes, that it is not going to come to that point—that we can only find teachers and school places for the number of children who require education at the cost of lowering the standards of the education given to those children.

I have said several times that I would be perfectly prepared to consider the temporary raising of the school entry age to 5½ years or even six years if that were the only way of preventing a serious fall in educational standards throughout the service. That is my opinion, and I am perfectly entitled to that opinion. The hon. Member for Workington is entitled to hold the diametrically opposite view, but he must realise what the opposite view is. The opposite view is that he advocates a serious decline in standards rather than any interference with the school age.

Mr. Peart

That is a misrepresentation. I do not want to see a decline in the standards, but, after all, the hon. Gentleman said this, I cannot see how by cutting individual items here and there we shall make a substantial inroad into the educational budget. If it is a question of over-sized classes and inadequate primary preparation in education all the way, then I can see no alternative to taking the bold decision at some time and saying, 'This is what we shall have to do.'".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1951; Vol. 491, c. 311.] I am merely asking the hon. Gentleman if he has changed his views from those which he expressed in 1951.

Mr. Maude

I am perfectly prepared to answer that. In my view, the Minister has succeeded in finding far more of what I would refer to as the frills and the least essential parts of education to cut than I ever believed she could lo; but I will also say, because I am trying to be frank on this matter, that what I have said is on record and I do not change that view at all. I think that it is very questionable now whether we shall be able to maintain the standards of education, and it is not the so-called cuts of my right hon. Friend which are going to put the standards of education in danger; it is the physical question of the number of children and the availability of teachers to teach them.

Let us remember that it is no good lowering quality by going into a wider field of recruitment for teachers. We have to face the fact that we get our quality and standards in education by having only good teachers to teach the children who require to be taught. If it does come to the point where it seems to me that the standards are going down and can only be saved by the temporary raising of the school age—and I still believe that it may be preferable to raise the school age temporarily than to see a serious lowering in quality and standards—I must repeat to the hon. Member that if he takes the opposite line he is saying that he would prefer a decline in standards to a change in the age of school entry.

Mr. Peart


Mr. Maude

Of course the hon. Member is. It is a perfectly clear choice: either retain the 10-year compulsory school period and possibly see a decline in standards or shorten the 10-year period and maintain the standards. I think that one of those two alternatives is preferable. That does not make a criminal of me; I have a perfect right to say that.

The hon. Member and his friends have been going round at a time when they were hoping that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was going to cut the compulsory school age—[HON. MEMBERS: "We stopped it."] Of course hon. Members opposite did not stop it. I was getting to the point when the hon. Member interrupted me, and I do not propose to allow him to deflect me again from the final observations which I was going to make. Incidentally, the whole of these interventions show conclusively the point which I am trying to make, which is that we are further now from getting the co-operation of hon. Members opposite in a nonparty approach to educational questions than we have ever been.

I want to suggest to him and to one or two other hon. Members opposite what we might perhaps do if the hon. Member for Workington or the hon. Member for Croydon, West (Mr. R. Thompson) or the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley) really want to try and get a non-party approach, designed to improve the educational system of this country, is to try in the first place to present the facts, problems and issues involved in education honestly and fairly to the people of this country.

I and my hon. Friends are only too happy to co-operate with them in that. If any of them want to address a meeting of the teachers in my constituency or anywhere else, I shall be delighted to appear on the same platform with one of them, provided that we can agree in advance on what the facts are and on a fair, unbiased and non-tendentious interpretation of the facts. That will involve seeing what are some of the plain recorded facts of the history of educational progress and reform in this country and who was responsible for them, and it will certainly involve—

Mr. Peart

I only want to say that I accept the challenge.

Mr. Maude

Let me say to the hon. Member here and now that it is not the intention of the exercise that this should be a debate, speaking against each other. The whole point is that we should get an agreed approach to these problems which we can try to put across to get teachers and parents working in concert towards what we agree to be desirable ends.

I was going on to say that it will certainly involve a far more truthful and a far less tendentious statement of the circumstances surrounding the introduction of the May cuts in 1931 than we have previously been accustomed to expect from hon. Members opposite; and it will certainly involve a change on the part of those Socialist hon. Members and people who are not Members of this House who are going round suggesting to people that there has been a 5 per cent. cut in last year's expenditure in education.

It will involve, in addition, a much more obvious and genuine desire to keep politics out of education and education out of politics than we have noticed before. Otherwise, hon. Members opposite are going to lay themselves open to the suspicion that their interest in education—which we are bound to say has not shown itself in any major legislative reform of education at any time in history—is political interest, and is designed at the present time primarily with an eye to the municipal elections in April and May.

6.29 p.m.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)

The hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) has appealed to this side of the House to take education out of party politics. Let me admit, quite frankly, that I do not regard education as a non-political subject. Indeed, the party opposite have always regarded education as a political subject, and their educational policy in past years has done more to perpetuate class-distinction in this country than anything else.

The right hon. Lady talked about the wastage that had taken place when some of my hon. Friends left the schoolroom to sit on these benches. I do not know whether it has been a wastage or not. I remember that a few weeks ago a columnist writing in a Sunday newspaper referred in a rather derisive way to the "school ma'ams" who sat on this side of the House. I must say, having listened to some of the speeches by hon. Members opposite, that I think it would be a very good thing for the Conservative Party if they had a few more "school ma'ams" on their side of the House. I think there is probably more to be said for a "school ma'am" turned politician than for a politician trying to be a "school ma'am."

It has not been usual for some years for such an interest to be taken in education. Very often education is taken for granted, and those of us who are particularly interested in it are regarded by some people as cranks. But I regard this debate as of great importance, and as important as any debate which will take place in the House in the coming months, because the future not only of this country but of the whole world depends upon an educated democracy.

When the 1944 Act was passed, we on this side of the House did not consider it an absolutely ideal Measure; many of us would have liked to see other things in it. Nevertheless, it was good in that it pointed the way to future reforms and expansion. It was passed, and we hoped that it would be more than a paper Act, such as the Fisher Act of 1918. So we were determined to make the Education Act, 1944, become a reality. That was in 1944.

In 1945 a Labour Government was elected. I think everybody will admit that 1945 was not a very good time to try to put into operation major educational reforms, with the shortage of buildings and teachers, and so forth. The hon. Member for Ealing, South, said that we had not effected any great reforms in education.

Mr. Maude

I said that they had not initiated any legislation.

Miss Bacon

I claim that great as were the difficulties in 1945 to 1951, there was more progress in those six years than in any comparable six years in the history of our country. If the hon. Member for Ealing, South, looks rather exasperated and thinks that that is just party politics, I can quote to him the words of Dr. Alexander, the Secretary of the Association of Education Committees, who, in January, 1949, said: I am bound to point out that, measured by any criterion, it seems reasonable to state that there has been more work done in the training of teachers, in the building of schools, in the making available of educational opportunity, in the provision of meals, and in the school medical service, in the three years 1945–48 than in any other three years in the history of English education.

Mr. Charles Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)

I am obliged to the hon. Lady for giving way. Is it not true that during this period we were being very substantially subsidised by America, through the American loan? Is it not true that the Socialists spent over 2,000 million dollars, which helped them to carry out some of these Measures?

Miss Bacon

We have heard that so often before.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

But is it not true?

Miss Bacon

It is true that we accepted American aid, but it is equally true that we were giving aid to other countries in that period.

Let me remind the House of some of the things which were accomplished. We raised the school-leaving age. Fees for secondary schools were abolished. We trained more teachers. The emergency training scheme alone was responsible for the training of 4,000 teachers. More students were admitted to universities. There were more students with scholarships—scholarships which were adequate for the proper maintenance of those students who entered universities. In that period there was twice as much building as in any other six years in our history. Indeed, I understand that in Wales more buildings were erected from 1945–51 than were built in the whole of the inter-war period. I feel that I should remind the House of this because we are constantly told by hon. Members opposite that we did nothing in the field of education, and they try to compare the circulars issued by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) with the circulars which have been issued by the present Minister of Education.

October, 1951, saw the return of a Conservative Government, and they pursued a policy of economising at the expense of the children. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Those were not my words. I was quoting from the "Manchester Guardian" of 12th December, 1951, and everybody appreciates that the "Manchester Guardian" has not been particularly friendly to the Labour Government.

The party opposite won the last Election, and one of its cries was, "We must cut Government spending." We on this side of the House said that it was impossible to cut Government spending to any great extent without affecting the lives of the people of our country. We maintain that it is impossible to cut substantially the amount spent on education without in some way impairing the education services.

I want to reply to what the right hon. Lady said in this respect. First of all, in November last year we had the standstill on building. Then in December we had Circular 242 which asked local education authorities to review their forecasts for the coming year. On this side of the House we never said that Government expenditure on education was being cut over the last year. We realised that it was a cut in the forecast which local authorities thought necessary during the coming year.

It is quite true that the right hon. Lady asked local authorities to see that the essential fabric of education was not impaired, but some of the examples which she gave of the way in which cuts were made were really very petty—such things as cutting down transport of children to school, and acquiring no more playing fields. What would Eton and Harrow be without their playing fields? This is one of the ways in which local education authorities were asked to cut on their forecasts for the next year. The right hon. Lady asked local authorities to try to cut 5 per cent. on their forecasts, but we must remember that a great deal of the money spent on education is untouchable. For instance, we could not cut on teachers' salaries, buildings, rent and rates and many other things. Therefore, that 5 per cent. had to come out of 20 per cent. of the whole. So it meant a much greater percentage of the things which could have been cut.

During the last few weeks we have all seen on the Order Paper Questions which gave us some idea of what local authorities were doing. They were not only cutting down on some of the things which the Minister had suggested; they were cutting down on many others, too. The prize for the most original way in which expenditure could be cut was shown by Newport, in Monmouthshire. One of the ways in which they proposed to effect a saving of £500 was by making the Christmas holiday one week longer and the summer holiday one week shorter, thus saving £500 on lighting and heating. Those are really ridiculous things which the Minister initiated in her circular.

I should like to ask the Minister where she stands with regard to these cuts. We on these benches have put Questions down to her. In reply to some of the Questions she says that she is not called upon to approve estimates, yet in answer to others she says she will take action if local authorities make cuts of which she does not approve. I should like to know what are her powers in this direction. Some of these cuts are really bad.

We have heard from hon. Members opposite today something about the "frills" of education. I believe that the so-called "frills" are the most important part of our education system. I would like to know what exactly they regard as the essentials in education, and what are the frills of education.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

Would not the hon. Lady agree that it is a frill of education for a perfectly healthy lad of 12 years of age to be taken about four miles every day to school in a taxi by himself at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately £4 7s. 6d. a week?

Miss Bacon

That, of course, is one case. It may be that there have been instances of that kind, and that in this particular instance it is justified. But we have to take into account the fact that, by and large, local authorities have not been making their economies in that sort of way, but in totally different kinds of ways.

I want, at this stage, to address my remarks to what the right hon. Lady said—which I think is very important—about the Estimates for next year being £9,750,000 more than was spent last year. I would remind her that she is here comparing an estimate with actual expenditure, and that the two are not always the same. Even assuming that the £9,750,000 to be spent, that is nothing very remarkable because she herself said there were to be in the schools next year 250,000 more pupils than last year.

I have been doing a little arithmetic which is rather to the right hon. Lady's benefit, because I only calculated an increase in the school population of 200,000. I discovered that while the increase in expenditure is to be in the region of 2.9 per cent., the increase in the number of children at school, reckoned at only 200,000, is to be 3.5 per cent. That means that the increased expenditure next year will not allow even for the extra number of children at school. It takes no account whatever of the rise in price of school books and other things. I maintain, therefore, that with an increased expenditure of £9,750,000, with the extra children and with rising costs it will mean a decreased educational service. That is very important.

I now want to turn to Circular 245, the building circular, because I think it is much more serious in its consequences than Circular 242. All school building was stopped in November for three months and then, in February, Circular 245 was issued which allowed certain building to go on. But there was a revised programme for 1952–53 consisting of the balance of the 1951–52 programme and the new programme for 1952–53.

Let us see what the Circular said. It said there were to be no new buildings to relieve overcrowding in existing schools, in spite of the fact that one-third of our primary schools have classes of over 30 pupils. It also said there were to be no new buildings to replace or improve unsatisfactory premises of existing schools, in spite of the fact that there are today in existence 598 schools which were blacklisted in 1935. There is to be no new building to enable all-age schools to be reorganised, despite the fact that that was advocated in 1926. And, lastly, there is to, be no new building to meet the wishes of parents for denominational instruction. That being so, I cannot see the use of the right hon. Lady going on with discussions on this subject with the various bodies.

The building of training colleges is to be deferred. Surely that is a short-sighted policy. The building of schools for handicapped children is to be deferred despite the fact that 22,000 such children are on the waiting list for entry to these schools. In spite of all this, we are told that it does not mean cuts; that there will be no fewer buildings at all. In that case, I would like to know why the local education authorities have protested and why they have sent deputations to the Ministry of Education about the cuts which have been taking place.

The important thing is not what will happen in 1951–52 and 1952–53, but what is to happen by 1954 and 1955, because, unless there is a very great increase in school building in 1954 it will be absolutely impossible to retain a school life of 10 years from the age of five to 15. We are today really discussing the school-leaving age, because with this cut in building we know that there will have to be a cut at one end or other of the school life.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked recently whether anybody would believe that he was going to kill the child which he had created. It may be that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not deliberately killing the child, but I suggest that they are creating conditions under which it is impossible for it to breathe.

For some years before I came to this House I taught girls and boys of 11 to 14 years of age. I realise, perhaps more than any hon. Member opposite, just what that extra year has meant to the children of this country. It is sometimes said that parents do not want their children to have an extra year at school, that the extra year is no good and is being wasted. But those people who can afford it take very good care that their children are at school not only until the age of 15, but until the age of 18. It is usually only because of economic necessity that parents wish a child to leave school before the age of 15.

It has been suggested that we have only put down this Motion as a matter of party politics and because of the coming local elections. But I would remind right hon. and hon. Members opposite that it is not only the Labour Party which has protested about these cuts. The local education authorities have also protested against them. Newspapers such as the "Manchester Guardian" have protested against them. The National Union of Teachers, which is a non-political organisation, has protested against them. I happen to be a member of the National Union of Teachers, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that it is far from being a Labour Party organisation. All who are protesting about the cuts know that they are there. Is everybody supposed to be out of step but the Minister?

To those who repeat the phrase, "We are not getting value for our money in education," I would ask who "we" are and what is the value that we are getting. The idea is still abroad that we should educate children in the three "R's" and some practical instruction so that they may be of benefit to their employers. Education means something more than that. We want education to give every child a chance to develop, to be able to appreciate literature, music and art no matter what occupation they take up, and to take their place as citizens. It is because I believe that the cuts referred to in Circulars 242 and 245 attack those principles that I hope that all on this side of the House—including the Liberals—will vote for the Motion.

6.51 p.m.

Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)

The House should be grateful to the Opposition for having put down this Motion because it gives us one of the all too rare opportunities of discussing a subject upon which, in the opinion of Mr. Disraeli, as we have been reminded, the fate of the country depends.

We must hope that the motives of the Opposition were genuine concern for educational standards. I do not wish anything I say to be taken to impugn the motives of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), but his motives have perhaps not been quite like those of some of his hon. Friends and many of his friends in the country.

I take leave to make that accusation for two reasons. The first reason is the contents of the circulars. It is still a matter of doubt to me whether some hon. Members opposite have yet read those circulars. Certainly, we heard a loud chorus of "What did you say?" assailing my right hon. Friend when she tried to remind the Opposition what she had said. The second reason is the comparative unconcern of some of these critics when a series of economies had to be made by their own party between 1947 and 1950.

I do not want to indulge in a Dutch auction between the parties as to who has done the more for education. I do not deny for a minute that the party opposite did a great deal for education during their six years of office and that what was stated from these benches is true, namely, that, though it is not the fault of the party opposite, they have never enacted major legislation about education.

If I might advise the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), I do not think that she should have quoted from the leading article of the "Manchester Guardian" of 12th December if she wanted to obtain the commendation of this side of the House. That leading article contained a grotesque libel upon the whole party. It was a very foolish libel, too, because it was patently untrue. I am sorry to have to say this about a responsible journal for which I normally have the highest regard, but I am afraid I must do so, because for once it slipped up.

The fact is that on these benches there are as many people who both know and care about the schools as there are on the benches opposite—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—and another fact, for what it is worth, is that every major education Act on the Statute Book has been put there by a Conservative Minister.

Mr. G. Thomas

When the hon. Gentleman makes the point that as many hon. Members on his side of the House as among the Opposition have a working knowledge of the schools, perhaps he would develop it a little more, bearing in mind that 231 of his hon. Friends out of, I believe, 324 had all their education at public and private schools.

Miss Bacon

Was the libel to which the hon. Member referred The forest of 'frills,' ripe for pruning, supposed to proliferate in the new public primary and secondary schools, exists only in the imagination of Conservative Members of Parliament, most of whom, except for the purpose of election meetings, have never entered them.

Mr. Longden

I am obliged to the hon. Lady. That was what I was referring to—it is quite untrue—and also to the statement: … the policy of economising at the expense of the childen which was to be expected from the present Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] That may find favour with hon. Members opposite, but it is quite untrue, and that is the libel.

I now turn to the circular. Is Circular 242 really a matter for "grave concern"? What does it say? It is very difficult to distinguish it both in appearance and in content from Circular 210 of October, 1949. It says, in effect, that in view of the serious economic and financial difficulties of the country the need for the utmost economy in manpower and cost is impressed upon the local education authorities. Can anyone who knows our present economic state, and realises that our internal expenditure closely affects that state, seriously cavil at this request for economy?

Paragraph 3 of Circular 210—the Labour Government's circular—states that: The maintenance of that Government's policy towards education depends on the strictest economy being exercised in the administration of education. [HON. MEMBERS: "Read on."] I must be excused from reading the whole of it, for hon. Members can get it for them- selves and read it. I very much regret, for every reason, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) is unable to be in his place so that he could tell us why he no longer supports that admirable sentiment.

If we are to talk about the local elections, I am sure that the ratepayers would support it. I am sure that no ratepayer objected to the extremely wise economy effected by the ex-Minister which resulted in a 25 per cent. cut in the cost per place, which is precisely the kind of economy at which my right hon. Friend is aiming, which did no harm whatsoever to education or to anyone concerned with education, and which saved a great deal of money for both taxpayers and ratepayers.

In effect, that is all that Circular 242 does. I will not argue whether we should call these things "cuts." We shall not call them cuts if we follow the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), when he denies that Sir Stafford Cripps ever cut the food subsidies. But when professional economists take wing into the stratosphere I have difficulty in keeping up with them.

The circular expressly excepts a list of items and says that: The essential fabric of the service is not to be impaired. I very much regret that phrase. I am sure that the thought behind it is as clear as crystal, but it is slightly obscured by the opacity of the verbiage.

Therefore, I consider the wording of the Motion to be exaggerated. Nevertheless, as I have said, it gives us an opportunity to discuss education, and for that I am grateful. I now run the risk of incurring the displeasure of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East. I am wondering whether we are getting full value for the money which we spend on this service. Much of the information which comes my way suggests, I am afraid, that we are not. We all remember the publication of the late Government, "Reading Ability," in which the standard of literacy was said to be lower now than it was before the war. Many of the people responsible for secondary schools will tell you that they are appalled at the educational standard achieved by the entrants. If that is so, we must concen- trate on the human element, and that is why I am very glad that my right hon. Friend put the teachers first. We want not only quantity, but quality. We may be in danger of thinking too much about the material aspects of education, buildings, and so on. I read an advertisement in one of the papers the other day. It ran something like this, "Three wise men were once asked what was the most precious gift that life had to offer. They replied severally, 'Good health, a loving wife, and a true friend.' Asked the same question today, they would reply, in unison, 'A Eureka gas cooker.'"

Buildings must, of course, be put up where there are no buildings and I hope that my right hon. Friend will look again into the repair and modernisation of existing buildings. I think she could use her powers under Section 67 (4) of the Act more than she does. Again, if she wants to help on the material side, can she not persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to remove the Purchase Tax from school requisites? It seems foolish to take money out of one pocket merely to put it into another.

The two main objectives—and here, again, I fear I may fall foul of the hon. Lady opposite—are in my opinion, first, the teaching in the primary schools of the three "R's." We cannot teach people to want to learn unless we first teach them to read and write. The second main objective is that we should turn out of our schools children who are self-reliant, God-fearing and useful citizens and neighbours. Those objections both depend on the teachers. I am afraid that in my experience, which is not confined to my constituency, people are leaving the teaching profession. They, especially men, are drifting out of it, and it is not difficult to know why. The best service which my right hon. Friend can give to education is to do what her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War has done for the Army. Can she make the teaching profession one which will attract into its ranks the best characters of both sexes, for upon that profession will largely depend the character of our future citizens?

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)

This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of taking part in a debate on education. I am possessed of two qualifications, at any rate, which entitle me to speak on the subject. One is that I come to the matter without prejudice. The second is that I was deprived of education by the generosity of preceding Governments, that in my young days were either Liberal or Tory. Anyone who wishes to develop a passion for education must be deprived of it in his youth, because in later years he will find out exactly what it means to be deprived of one of the great assets of human existence.

When I listened to the right hon. Lady I felt that she was possessed of defeatism in her whole attitude to the problem. I can understand her speaking of the physical difficulties of maintaining a building programme. I can understand the logic of that in present circumstances. I refer to shortage of steel and difficulties of labour. What I cannot understand is the right hon. Lady's suggesting that we were seized with panic during the latter months of last year because of her announcement of the moratorium on her building programme and of the economy cut which she announced later.

I thought that the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) was coming down on our side. I cannot imagine anything more disastrous to education than that ill-considered, ill-thought-out Circular 242 that was issued to education authorities. It was the production of a mind seized with panic at the centre. The right hon. Lady abdicated her responsibility because of pressure put upon her by the Treasury.

Examine the circular. Reference has already been made to the large body of educational expenditure that cannot be cut—salaries, wages, maintenance charges, loans charges, superannuation charges, health charges, and so on. The expenditure by local education authorities which can be subjected to her 5 per cent. cut is virtually between 20 per cent. and 30 per cent. of the total approved expenditure.

How has it been expressed? The right hon. Lady has stated publicly that she has disapproved of some of the means by which the 5 per cent. cut has been effected. Take, for example, her own safeguards in the matter: in a number of instances they have been completely disregarded, because it was the centre that first introduced the panic into the whole field of education. There is no logic and no intelligence in it. I am certain, as a result of the representations made by progressive local education committees, that the 5 per cent. cut was not expressed in the circular that went out from the Scottish Office.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

We would not stand for it, that is all.

Mr. Moyle

The right hon. Lady referred to the problem of the crowded classroom. I thought she was going to say to recalcitrant local authorities, "Look here, the problems are admittedly difficult, but we, the centre and the localities, must co-operate, notwithstanding the difficulties, to give effect to the obligations placed upon us all in the Education Act, 1944." What was the explanation? Lack of teachers. Well, we had the same problem in the nursing service, and we dealt with it and are still dealing with it. It is the duty of the Ministry of Education not merely to state the problem but to see that we get the teachers that we need, so that the increasing school population is provided for. That is the obligation of the Ministry.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon) that the building programme does not work out as the Minister suggested. I have read the circular carefully and one would assume from it that the progress of education is uniform throughout the country. What, for example, does the right hon. Lady mean when she speaks of a major housing scheme and its consequent increase in the school roll? How many houses does she envisage as part of a major housing scheme?

Miss Horsbrugh

I used the words "housing scheme" but not "major."

Mr. Moyle

I shall be happy to be corrected for I am speaking from memory, but I read the circular as recently as this afternoon and in it the right hon. Lady referred to major housing schemes. The only condition which the right hon. Lady laid down on which new buildings will be approved by her Ministry are those provided for in paragraph 7. Britain is not quite so evenly urbanised as London. In Wales and the South-West of England there is no such thing as a major housing scheme. If there is a housing programme there of between 50 and 60 houses it is an amazing development in the housing accommodation. If there is a housing scheme of 100, that is regarded as an exceedingly major housing scheme because the populations are not more than about 5,000 or 6,000.

Yet in those localities the need for new schools is greatest because most of the schools in those areas are of such a standard in relation to modern needs that, unless we can get some new school buildings or adaptations of buildings for school purposes, I cannot see how we shall implement the purposes of the 1944 Act in the next 10 or 15 years, particularly if the policy of a moratorium on the existing school building programme continues indefinitely.

May I put another point to the right hon. Lady, about the university grants? I read with interest the appendix to Circular 247. There, we find extraordinary disparity between different county authorities as to the issue of scholarship awards last year. Does the right hon. Lady intend to bring legitimate pressure to bear upon those local authorities such as Oxfordshire and Cornwall and my own county of Worcestershire, whose major awards last year were not more than 12 per 10,000 of the school age population? Does she intend to urge those authorities to increase their scholarship awards and aids to students?

Also, does she intend to rebuke those local authorities who may seek to reduce the income limits upon which these grants are made to students at the universities or technical colleges? In the case of residential colleges such as Coleg Harlech, Fircroft and Ruskin, will the grants made to those bodies be maintained during the current educational year 1952–53 in view of the economy proposals of her Department?

Our progress in education has been retarded by all kinds of economic circumstances. Notwithstanding all we have sought to do, it must be remembered that up to 1938 not more than 13 per cent. of the school population in any year had any further education beyond the age of 14. Taking the age of 16 in substitution for 14, I do not think that the figures have been materially improved. As one who is keen on education I want to see a society in which every child, wherever he or she may live, shall have the right to the best educational facilities of the nation provided that there is the capacity to benefit from any extended higher or university education.

7.17 p.m.

Mr. Fitzroy Maclean (Lancaster)

The hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Moyle) said that he had never taken part in a debate on education before. Neither have I, and I only wish I could make as useful a contribution to this debate as he has done. The hon. Gentleman displayed a considerable knowledge of his subject, and he also helped to raise the debate from the purely party political level to which it had slipped.

The aspect of education to which I wish to refer briefly is not in any way a party issue. It is an issue which vitally affects a large number of people in this country. I refer to the position of the church schools. I do not propose to go into this matter in great detail because its background is familiar to hon. Members. They will recall that even when the provisions of the 1944 Act were first framed, they were not regarded by the churches as entirely satisfactory. The Archbishop of Canterbury made that clear in another place last week.

Since then the Act has had a result which it was certainly not intended to have by its authors. That has been to place a heavy financial burden on denominational schools. In my opinion, it is quite wrong and quite unjust that certain parents should be penalised financially in order that they may be able to enjoy the fundamental right of having their children educated according to their own way of thinking, in this case as Christians.

After all, we ought not to forget that in Soviet Russia and in other Communist countries the suppression of religious freedom has, as often as not, begun by measures of financial and fiscal discrimination against the churches. It has been continued by other and more violent means, but that is how it has begun, and we do not want to have even the remotest suspicion of that here.

I live in Lancashire, where both the members of my own church—the Church of England—and also the Roman Catholics are profoundly disturbed by the present position. Both churches have made strenuous efforts to raise the sums of money that are necessary to save their schools, but the sums involved are very large, and if the position remains as it is there is a danger that in the course of time the church schools will be squeezed out of existence. If that were to happen, it would not only be a grave injustice; it would also represent a very serious loss to education. The church schools have rendered very great services in their time.

During the six years of the late Administration, continual representations were made to the then Minister of Education with a view to securing the alleviation of these difficulties. It is only fair to say that the Minister showed himself by no means unsympathetic to these representations, but the fact remains that nothing very concrete emerged until just before the last Election. Then, by a strange coincidence, the Government, after six years in office, suddenly awoke to the need for doing something to right these wrongs—[Interruption.]—and issued a very neatly timed communique to that effect.

Mr. G. Thomas


Mr. Maclean

I cannot give way. I am speaking only for a few minutes.

Mr. Thomas

That was a wicked misstatement of truth.

Mr. Speaker

I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw that expression.

Mr. Thomas

Only if you say that it is out of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I say that it is un-Parliamentary.

Mr. Thomas

If it is un-Parliamentary, I withdraw it, but I should like to say—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—yes, I have a right, I am addressing the Chair. At least, I should like to say that the hon. Member has been guilty of a very serious inaccuracy.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, that is all right.

Mr. Maclean

I invite hon. Members to consult the public Press of October last year, and they will see for themselves whether or not what I have called a very neatly timed communique was issued at the psychological moment. It expressed admirable intentions. Of course, as things turned out, the then Government were not given the opportunity of putting their rather belated good intentions into practice. I do not for a moment question that they would not have done so, but they just were not able to do so.

Since the present Government have been in office, there have been further discussions with representatives of the churches, and I very much hope that we shall soon hear that these discussions have been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Of course, it may not be advisable to disturb the basic structure of the 1944 Act, which has done so much for education as a whole. I sincerely hope, however, that a way may be found to make the adjustments which undoubtedly are called for, and I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies to the debate he will have something to say about this subject.

7.25 p.m.

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

I will not follow the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) in his long rigmarole about church schools and Christianity. He followed it up by saying the most un-Christian thing which has been said in the debate.

One point which has not been stressed sufficiently is the great relevance of our educational system to our economic problems. I think that that relevance lies at the core of the agitation which has been going on against the cuts throughout the country. Evidently the Minister does not realise it, but it is that, and not any desire to make political capital, which has caused the whole of the trouble throughout the Labour and trade union movements, because we realise that any blow against the educational system is a blow against the economy and the economic prospects of the country, as well as against the children.

The party opposite still try to solve the problems of the second half of the 20th century with the methods and the outlook of the first half of the 19th century. They do not realise that the world has changed and that the relative position of Britain has changed. In the middle of the 19th century, Russia was a far-off country still in the feudalism of the Middle Ages, and America was a far-off and not very important country. Today, however, in the world our position has changed considerably, and it is in this difficult world that we have to earn our living if we are to survive.

The only commodities which we have in abundance are our coal and the skill and genius of our people, and it is with these two commodities, largely, that we have to pay our way in the world. If we turn to the Old Book and look at the parable of the talents, we realise that the position is exactly the same today: some people are born with 10, some with five, and some, alas, with none. But whatever we are born with, it is the duty of the community to develop those talents to the very highest possible degree. To do less than that would be sheer folly at the present time. The question is not whether we should economise in education in the midst of our difficulties, but that because of our difficulties we dare not economise in education.

It is a good principle of Socialism that everything we have, both physical and intellectual, should be used for the common good. It is a principle which this country must adopt if it is to survive. We must use all our physical resources and all our human resources to solve our problems. At the present time, it would be criminal folly of the Government to give our children anything less than the best education.

There are two outlooks on education. It can be regarded, as I regard it, as a vital strand in the pattern of our national life, or it can be looked upon as a cultural embellisment, rather as a feather in the Minister's hat—and I am sorry that the right hon. Lady is not now present—a sort of ornament which can be cut if one cannot afford it. The people who look upon education as a cultural embellishment took Circular 242 as a signal for wholesale slashings. I am not going through the list—many examples have been given from one end of the country to the other. We have had cuts of the so-called frills. I have been a teacher all my working life, and I have never seen the frills—I do not know where they are. In most schools that I know anything about, it is a case of make-do; there are not any frills.

We do not know yet what cuts have provided as previously planned will readily been made in the Estimates. I tried to make an estimate, and I think that they will be of the order of about £11 million—it may be slightly more or slightly less. The Minister has gone to great length today, as she did at Tynemouth a fortnight ago, to explain that because the Estimates have gone up by £10 million, there has not been a cut. But we have nearly 10 per cent. more children. The prices of every article of school equipment have risen in the past year. How, then, can the right hon. Lady talk about there not being a cut? To say so is simply to juggle with words—like the Witches in Macbeth, to lie "like truth"; that is what it amounts to.

As far as the children in the schools are concerned, there has been a considerable cut and the schools are beginning to feel it in visual aids and all kinds of ways. Circular 245 will create utter chaos in the secondary schools, in 1956–57. Let us face the fact, it will make a mockery of one of the main principles of the 1944 Act, secondary education for all.

How can there be secondary education for all under the conditions the Minister has described? She talked about the new fourth form entry to secondary schools with seven spare teaching places. Where are they? I was a secondary school teacher until October last year, and I had 12 forms and 11 teaching places. If one went to the school at 9 o'clock in the morning, one found boys outside playing football. There were always boys outside playing football because there was nowhere else to put them. That applies from one end of the country to the other. The new fourth form entry on which the Minister is relying to solve the problem for 1956–57 only exists here and there.

Since this Government came into office there has been a cut of £40 million in the capital expenditure programme; let us realise that. The Minister has been talking of an increase of £10 million, but there has already been a cut of £40 million in capital expenditure. Dr. Alexander, who has already been mentioned, said this week, when discussing this £40 million cut: It is hard to believe that with a cut as heavy as this the Minister's confidence that the necessary school places can and will be provided as previously planned will readily be realized. Of course, we know they cannot be realized. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tried us that he was not committing patricide, but, if hew is not committing patricide, he is guilty of willful neglect of his growing child.

If we view our educational system from the point of view of its being vitally relevant to our economic problems and something we dare not cut, perhaps one of the most important sectors is that of technological education, about which I wish to say a word. We are a manufacturing nation, and if we look at exports we all know that our engineering exports are the biggest sector of our export trade. We have to compete with other nations in which technological training has been developed much more highly than in Britain.

I wish to remind the Minister that somewhere in her desk in Whitehall there is the report of her Committee called the Special Committee on Higher Technical Education. It was a committee of which Lord Eustace Percy was Chairman, and it reported in 1945. It suggested that the technological colleges should turn out each year 500 trained engineers, a third of whom should work for their London external degree, and the remaining two-thirds of whom should work for a new, specially planned, course.

At the moment there are three colleges in the London area, Enfield, Kingston-upon-Thames, and South-East London, where experiments are being carried out on these lines. They have works-based courses, that is to say, the students spend part of their time on the bench and the remainder in college. I ask the Minister to do everything she can, and to show a bit of imagination, in encouraging and helping such experiments as these, and to see to it that technological education throughout the country does not suffer through parsimony throughout our system. I would remind the right hon. Lady that in New-castle-on-Tyne we are hoping to start a technological college in the future. Perhaps she will look kindly on that project.

The Minister said that we wanted to get value for our money. I wish to develop that theme along a special line. Whether we get it or not depends a great deal on the way in which we treat our teachers. A lot has been said about the size of classes, and I do not want to say much about that, although I agree with the right hon. Lady that that is indeed one of the biggest blots on our educational system. But the Minister specifically excluded the improvement of that position through Circular 245, which specifically excluded any building being done to alleviate the position. I do not know whether the Minister, or other hon. Members, have heard of the two sardines discussing their future. One said to the other, "They pack us like children in a school."

A great deal of the future of our system depends on the way in which we treat the teaching profession. We have a teaching force of roughly a quarter of a million that is, one teacher for every 200 of our population. I wish to pay tribute—and I think it is high time someone here paid tribute—to the teachers. They are among the unsung heroes in our community.

Their patient work in the schools, in very bad conditions, underpins every trade and profession. Their work is the foundation of it all. With infinite skill and patient effort they hand on to each new generation the tools of learning and the first skills which later blossom into the craftsmanship of British factories, which is the envy of the world.

Above all—this was mentioned by the hon. Member for Lancaster—in this materialistic age when organised religion is very largely moribund and ineffective, it is the teachers who kindle and tend the flame of Christian belief in the young lives under their care. Let us make no mistake about this. It is very largely the schools, the county schools and the church schools, which form the citadel of Christian belief in this country today. We owe the teachers a great debt for their work in that respect. Their service to the community is priceless, but their material reward is pitiful.

I know that their spiritual reward is very great but, unfortunately, spiritual reward does not pay bills. For example, the headmaster of a school of 400 boys of 11 to 15 gets a lower salary than a newly-appointed, newly-qualified, female dentist who comes to look at the children's teeth. A graduate, with a good honours degree four years training, can never reach a salary of £1,000 a year—and we all know how little that is. A dentist or doctor in the school medical service would start at that salary, but a graduated teacher can never reach it. I think our community ought to be ashamed of the standard of remuneration given to our teachers.

There is another aspect of this treatment of our teachers, to which I draw attention. I am sure the right hon. Lady will agree that teaching is very much a matter of one personality influencing another personality, so that the atmosphere in which that process takes place is very important. I believe that freedom is the essential atmosphere for good teaching, and the first freedom is freedom from worry. I know we are all slightly worried about making ends meet, but if someone is unduly worried about making ends meet, as most teachers are, the result will be worried children, and worried children grow into neurotic parents. I often wonder how much of the neurosis of modern life is due to the Burnham scales.

There is also another freedom, and that is the freedom of the teachers to run their own profession. The teaching profession lacks some of the essential marks of a profession which the Minister could give to it. In particular, it does not control the ingress into the profession or the egress out of it. If she really wants to make a name for herself in educational history, the Minister could do it by initiating talks on this subject with the teachers' organisations.

The other learned professions—medicine, dentistry and the law—all have home rule, but the teaching profession has not got home rule. We do not allow unqualified practitioners to practise on our teeth, but we willingly allow them to practise on the minds of our children. That should stop. I suggest to the Minister that the power to license a teacher should be in the hands of the teachers and so should the power to withdraw the licence to teach. If we did this, if the teachers had home rule, the evils of the third-rate money-making independent school would pass away immediately.

I suggest that, to give the teachers professional home rule, the Minister should take steps to initiate a registration body for teachers and that all teachers who wish to practise as teachers should be called upon to register. It would not be worth while if it were voluntary. The old Royal Society of Teachers was voluntary and it never achieved anything. I ask the Minister to look at that question.

Another point I wish to mention is the treatment of the teachers. It is a practical point of the threat to the teachers' time in the schools. Teachers themselves should rebel against this encroachment on their time. I am glad to exonerate the Minister. She is not the only offender; indeed, she is not the worst offender. During the past few years there has been a considerable improvement and a lessening of the demands of the Minister in the way of form filling; but there are many bodies, and each one takes a little nibble at the teaching day. The nibbles are not large separately but in the aggregate they are big.

That is one of the big threats to our system. For example, there is the local authority. Many local authorities have cut down the form filling required. They allow their teachers a considerable amount of freedom. Other local authorities treat their teachers as office boys and demand a check and cross-check on every penny. One local authority in the north of England has introduced a system of record cards which is so complicated that it takes a fortnight to complete it at the end of each term.

The Coal Board take a nibble. The Coal Board require the completion of a most intricate form and record card for each mining entrant. To take another example, it requires half an hour to complete each card for the Ministry of Labour in respect of boys and girls leaving school, so that a school which has 30 children who are leaving must spend 15 hours doing that work. And so it goes on. I should be the last person in any way to attempt to detract from the value of National Savings. But when there is a post office at the end of the street, I often wonder whether we are justified in taking up the time of teachers in collecting money. I ask the Minister to look at this matter. It is a real threat to the freedom of our teachers.

In conclusion, I do not think that we should allow this debate to end without having a look at the product of our schools. One hon. Member seemed to think that we were not getting value for our money. I think that we are. I like to look upon the function of our schools, again in the words of the Bible, as a place where the child can grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. It is that balanced three-sided education—intellectual, physical and spiritual—which is the pride of our educational system.

It is the foundation and the inspiration of our system and it produces youths who are better physically than ever before. That is not a matter of propaganda: it is a matter of statistics. The system produces self-reliant young people who can think for themselves and that, after all, is the essential of democracy—people who can think for themselves. Above all, I believe that our educational system is giving our young people a sense of moral and spiritual values which will be the nation's bulwark against the materialism which threatens the world today.

I hope that the Minister will do nothing to impair this product of our schools. It is her responsibility to see that this achievement is not lost in this wave of economy and parsimony which the party opposite have introduced.

7.47 p.m.

Commander J. F. W. Maitland (Horncastle)

There was one point in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) that I could not hear. He spoke about undue worry about making ends meet or about making a speech, and I could not decide which it was. The only point I was certain about was that I was unduly worried about both.

I listened with great interest to the hon. Gentleman's speech, which I thought was a very good one. I wish that we had had him in the House—I do not think that we did—in 1949. I think that the speech might very well have been made then. It would have been the only one of the speeches made by the then Government party on those lines. He mentioned, for example, his great anxiety that the progress in technological education should not be slowed down. I know that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) will back me up when I say that, when I asked a Question of the former Minister of Education, I was told that part of the economy cuts which had been put into effect by the then Government had had the effect of slowing down technological education.

I do not fully understand why we should have a three-line Whip on this occasion. I recall the right hon. Gentle- man the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) telling us that he could teach us how to oppose. I suppose that this is part of the business. All I can say is that it seems to be a very curious way to go about opposing by having a three-line Whip on educational policy. Since the war and until the last Election we never had a three-line Whip on education. The reason is that when we were in opposition we tried to help by making suggestions, sometimes critical suggestions, but which were constructive. I defy any hon. Member opposite to say that during the debates on education in the first Parliament after the last war we did not do our best to help the Government in what we knew was an extremely difficult situation.

Let us see what has happened. There has been a progressive series of economies on the education service. It has not just happened now. It began to happen in 1949, when Sir Stafford Cripps made a cut of £7,500,000 in the education service. I wish that these economies had been made before, because they were largely concerned with reducing the over- high standard of buildings, which, of course, had been laid down by the partnership between the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede).

The fact remains that, when that cut of £7,500,000 was made by Sir Stafford Cripps, only one Socialist hon. Member made a speech regretting it, and that was Mr. Rhys Davies, whose absence from this House we all regret and who is a great friend of many of us. Mr. Davies wanted to try to replace that money by cutting down on armaments. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), to whom I gave warning that I was going to refer to his speech, said he welcomed the cut of £7,500,000, which, he said, would do no harm to education at all. The hon. Gentleman can look it up in HANSARD, and find it there.

I should like to ask hon. Members whether they agree or not with the very rational speech made by Lord Listowel in a debate on education in another place—

Mr. G. Thomas

On a point of order. Would it be in order—because a number of us would like to do it if it is—to quote speeches made during this Session in another place?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hopkin Morris)

It will not be in order to quote from a speech made in another place during this Session.

Commander Maitland

I was about to indicate that I was going to paraphrase the speech of Lord Listowel, which was what I was proposing to do when interrupted by the hon. Member.

What the noble Lord said, in effect, was that, first of all, the requirements of defence and essential industries must come first, and he complained that education was being treated as the Cinderella of the social services. The noble Lord has a right to take that line if he wants to. He then said that the elder sisters, housing and health, had not shared equally in the reduction of the family capital, and he went on to say that if the Government spent more on education—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Is this a Government statement of policy in another place, or a quotation from an Opposition speech?

Commander Maitland

It is a quotation from an Opposition speech.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not entitled to quote an Opposition speech made in this Session in another place.

Commander Maitland

I see. Then all I can say is that an ex-Minister is now openly saying that, if education is to have more money, the Government must make economies in other directions, and I would like to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite if, when we meet on Thursday to discuss the National Health Service Bill, they will come forward with suggestions for further economies so that we may make up anything that has been taken away from education by Circular 242 or Circular 245.

I want to suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary a way in which I believe he could make economies and also increase the efficiency of what we in the country consider a very vital service. I refer to the arrangement which is going on between the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Education in regard to agricultural education. At the moment, there is no doubt that these two services are overlapping, and I believe that a considerable amount of money could be saved if the Ministry of Education were to act as an agent for the Ministry of Agriculture, who, I believe, should have the final word about the control of the county agricultural colleges. I believe that they should then be able to carry out those duties which are at present being doubled by the National Agricultural Advisory Service.

While on that subject, I would also ask the Minister of Education if she can prevail on her right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Labour, who has recently said that he will not allow young men going to the agricultural colleges run by local education authorities to have deferment. I am informed, and I know that my information is good in this matter, that if this is actually brought into effect, next year we shall have no students at these colleges at all, and that would be not only an enormous waste of money, but, at the same time, would do a great disservice to the cause of agriculture. I ask the Minister most seriously to look into that matter.

Last, I ask the Minister if she can give us any hope of an early settlement of the question of improved opportunities for further technological education. I notice that the "Economist" this week has a little note about that, in which it refers to an additional 15 per cent. grant for allowances for advanced technological education amounting to £50,000. The Minister has made no statement about that, and I wondered whether I might ask whether that means that we are very shortly to expect to have a statement from her on this subject.

That is all I have to say, except to repeat that I do not like the idea of a three-line Whip for an educational debate, and I do not think it is a good service to education. [Interruption.] No, that is not correct, and the hon. Gentleman knows it is not correct. The Motion was put down by the Opposition, and a three-line Whip was issued, and I say that that is doing a great disservice to education and bringing it into the field of party politics.

Mr. Ede

We have no desire that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should receive a three-line Whip.

7.58 p.m.

Mr. Donald Wade (Huddersfield, West)

Before referring to the more controversial subject of the circulars, I wish to refer to the disparity in grants for students going to universities, which has already been mentioned in the debate. I raised this matter in the education debate last summer. I understand that, not only is there a great disparity according to the different districts from which students come, but also among students at the universities who have to work side by side, buying the same books, but receiving different amounts in grants. I hope that the right hon. Lady will be more successful than her predecessor in office in dealing with this matter.

If I may now refer to the much-debated circulars, there is no one more unpopular than one who suggests that he is a realist and implies that all others are lacking in realism, but I think it would be fair to say that this debate has shown a considerable lack of realism. I am not only thinking of the misunderstanding over the cuts—whether they are cuts in expenditure or cuts in estimates—but I am also thinking of the position of the country at the present time.

I have noticed very little reference in some of the speeches that have been made to the economic situation, and I want to be very frank on this matter. If I believed that there was no serious economic crisis, and if I believed that the re-armament programme could be cut down, I should be attacking any reduction in education expenditure whole-heartedly, but, as I believe that this re-armament programme has to be carried out, that there has been an economic crisis and that the country has been faced with bankruptcy, and may be faced with it again, I think we must exercise considerable restraint in discussing this subject.

The House has been faced with a similar dilemma on other occasions since the war. As hon. Members have mentioned, there have been other cuts. I do not want to refer too much to the past, but I should like to quote from a speech by Sir Stafford Cripps, who said, on 25th October, 1949: The other source from which we get our savings in the first part of the programme consists in the curtailment of services not essential to major Government policy. Here, again, the whole field has been reviewed. By definition the results cannot be spectacular, though the aggregate is considerable. I have again selected certain examples to show the way in which this section of the programme is made up: Education: The charge on the Exchequer will be reduced by about £5 million, owing to a variety of measures. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October, 1949; Vol. 468, c. 1343.] I will not detain the House by reading further, but there have been other occasions when we have faced this problem and we must be realistic.

I was alarmed at the proposals, as reported in the Press, of some of the county education authorities. I hope that the right hon. Lady will be successful in standing up to those authorities. I think it was unfortunate to mention 5 per cent. because that reference has created considerable misunderstanding and it is clear that if there were a 5 per cent. cut in the estimates all round it would have a serious effect on what has been described as the essential fabric.

But, as I understand it, there will not be anything like a 5 per cent. cut all round. I have not had the opportunity of studying the figures given by the right hon. Lady, but a leading article in "The Times" this morning, speaking of county education authorities, said: … few have got within sight of the Minister's 5 per cent. The average economy proposed is nearer 2 per cent. … I wish there were to be no cuts at all, but if there is to be a cut of 2 per cent. only then to that extent I am grateful. Whether or not these circulars had been issued and whether or not there was a proposal to make a 2 per cent. cut we should nevertheless be debating this grave problem. It is a crisis in our educational system due to lack of materials, the difficulty in financing building, the need for more teachers and the large increase in the number of children.

One of the results is a grave worsening of that evil to which many hon. Members have referred—the size of classes. According to the report of the Ministry of Education for 1950 there were 13,258 primary classes in England and Wales, with over 46 children in each and 1,494 with over 51 children. And, as "The Times" points out in its leading article, this was a year before the "bulge" appeared.

I am only allowed to refer to a speech by a Member of another place by summarising, but perhaps I may be permitted to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury said, in another place, that in his opinion no one could effectively teach a class of more than 25 children, whether primary or secondary. He suggested that while it might be possible to cope with 25 secondary school children, the primary classes ought to be smaller. I was extremely sorry to hear the right hon. Lady suggest there was no hope of cutting down the number in classes.

To suggest what should not be done is easier than to suggest what should be done. I do not say for one moment that there is any simple solution, but I should like to put forward one or two proposals after dealing first with the alternatives. Should we take materials away from housing? I feel sure that that would be unwise. No improvement in school buildings, however desirable, would offset the damage done to a child's career and character by bad homes, which all too often are the results of bad housing. There is a suggestion that children should be kept back in the primary schools. If that merely meant that they would be kept there and would start a year later in the secondary modern school it would be most inadvisable, but I understand from the Minister that they would receive teaching similar to that of the secondary school for a year even though they would not be moved to another building.

Another inadvisable remedy would be the lowering of the school age. That, clearly, would be a retrograde step. Again, the age of entry might be raised. That, also, would be inadvisable, though if I had to make a choice I would rather see the age of entry raised than have the leaving age lowered. I should like to add to the tribute paid by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) to the new secondary modern schools. I believe that they are doing great work. There is no doubt that there are some cases where children in the last year are not receiving full benefit, but I understand that employers and the junior employment bureaux pay tribute to the advantage derived from that last year.

I have referred to suggestions which one must turn down, and I wish to conclude with something more positive. First, are there not many buildings belonging to churches and chapels which could be used temporarily?

Mr. G. Thomas

They are shocking.

Mr. Wade

Many of them are unsatisfactory, I know, but I should like to know whether surveys are being made of such buildings with a view to temporary use. Another suggestion, which, I agree, is unorthodox is that, without lowering the standard of our teachers, it might be practicable to make use, for the teaching of children under seven, of some girls who have passed through the secondary modern schools—the "A stream" as I think educationalists call them—by giving them a short training for work with children between five and seven years of age under the guidance of fully trained teachers. I can quite understand members of the teaching profession objecting, but one has to think of what would be the best thing to do for those children.

The need is for 250,000 teachers and I do not see how they are to be obtained from the universities and training colleges. After all, it is not so much academic qualifications that are needed for teaching those young children under seven years of age. It is rather fondness for children and an aptitude for dealing with them.

Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham. Northfield)

Does the hon. Member not agree that it is precisely at those ages that the greatest amount of harm can be done to children by untrained people?

Mr. Wade

I quite agree that harm can be done by unskilled people, but the point I am making is that it is not merely academic training that is required. I remember my first day at school very well—[Interruption.] An hon. Member asks me what weapon the master used. He boxed my ears for not paying attention. He was excellent at getting boys through examinations, but I do not think that he was a suitable man to teach children under seven. I am not suggesting for one moment that that would occur now. I quite appreciate all the changes and improvements that have taken place. I realise that the last suggestion I made is not a perfect one; but what are the alternatives? Are we to go on with these appalling numbers in our school classes?

Education debates have often been described as dull; but if they are to be infused with political controversy in future they may become more interesting. I sincerely hope that if they are infused with political controversy it will not mean that there will be no time to listen to practical proposals, whether they are better or worse than mine. After all, the future of the children is at stake and whoever may be to blame for the two world wars, the re-armament programme and the economic crisis, it is certainly not the children. For that reason alone it is our duty to do all in our power to ensure that the future generation does not suffer unduly from the errors and misfortunes of the present one.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. T. W. Jones (Merioneth)

My intervention will be brief and educational It is my contention that cuts in educational provisions are not economies. We should not call them economies. They simply amount to social suicide. An hon. Member opposite said just now that we have had economy cuts before. Of course we have: between the two wars we had wave after wave of economy, and tonight the right hon. Lady is paying the price for all that.

I cannot help being persuaded that a Government which contemplates spending £5,200 million on re-armament cannot morally call a halt to expenditure in education on the grounds of inability to pay. I cannot see the sense of deciding to spend £5,200 million on re-armament and, at the same time, and in the same breath, stating that there must be economies in this vital social service in our life. Education is an investment. We cannot spend too much on it. I contend that the interest on it will provide the happiness and enjoyment of future generations. It is one of the means of repairing and safeguarding our battered civilisation.

We have had three outstanding Acts of Parliament concerning education, namely, the Acts of 1870, 1902 and 1944, and the greatest of these is undoubtedly the Act of 1944. Briefly, the requirements of that Act in relation to education authorities—if I may quote two or three phrases, joining them together—in Section 7 of that Act, are as follows: The statutory system of public education shall be organised in three progressive stages to be known as primary education, secondary education and further education; and it shall be the duty of the local education authority for every area to contribute … by securing that efficient education throughout those stages shall be available to meet the needs of the population of their areas. I stress particularly the words, "efficient education."

The question I am anxious to ask is, how can efficient education be attained and maintained if we suspend the school building programme, if we create larger and still larger classes and, at the same time, reduce the teaching staff? It should be recalled that in 1925 the then Board of Education made a black list of our schools. Today, we find that no fewer than 598 of the schools that were blacklisted then are still in use.

I am not given to exaggeration, but I am convinced that if animals were placed in some of those schools—and I have seen them—an inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would be called upon to take criminal proceedings. Yet we find our children there today, over 25 years after they were black-listed by the then Board of Education. Can children receive efficient education in such hovels?

With regard to the problem of large classes, it is true that one-third of the classes in our primary schools today have on their registers more than the regulation number of 40 pupils. In the secondary schools 60 per cent. of them today have more than the regulation number of 40 per class. What a contrast that is to the classes we find in the public schools. We heard just now from a number of hon. Members and right hon. Members opposite who have passed through public schools. These schools are a great success. Why are they? It is not because they have better teachers; certainly not because they have better children—because we see the result of the benches opposite—but it is just because their teachers are able to give them individual attention.

The teachers come to know them individually. They know their characteristics, their failings and their virtues and, at the same time, the children come to know their teachers. Most of the school building programme for 1952–53 has been virtually suspended. What is the main reason which is given for this? It is the shortage of steel. Mark that—shortage of steel—and yet a mere 30,000 tons of steel would suffice.

I say "a mere 30,000 tons," because our total steel output is 15 million tons and we are expecting to have, in addition, a million tons from the United States of America. [An HON. MEMBER: "Do not depend on that."] Very well, then. From all that we are only asking for 30,000 tons of steel in order to secure that these schools are established. If the Government are bent on suspending this programme I would ask them to find a better excuse than the one given, because that excuse does not ring with sincerity.

In conclusion, no democratic nation can afford at any time to economise on education, because an illiterate democracy is a contradiction in terms. I have heard education described as that which remains when all that we have learned is forgotten. In other words, it is not what we learn in school that matters so much; it is what we have developed into while at school. It is character that matters. The true purpose of education is to develop character.

Let us see to it that in our day and generation we endeavour to build up the nation of the future, men and women with flame of freedom in their souls and light of knowledge in their eyes, healthy men and women, dignified men and women, self-respecting men and women. A great responsibility is placed upon our shoulders, and I am asking the Government to be equal to their task.

8.21 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Hollis (Devizes)

I am sure that the whole House enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones), but it seems to have escaped his notice what was the Motion to which he was speaking, for I would remind him that he was supposed to be speaking to a Motion of censure on the present Government. Every single sentence he uttered, as in the case of most other speakers from his side of the House, would have been much more an effective censure upon his own Front Bench. We are becoming accustomed to Motions from the Opposition which, in form, are censures on the Government but are in fact censures on the Opposition Front Bench.

The hon. Member argued that education was so precious a thing that we must not under any circumstances economise on it and that we cannot spend too much on it. Whether that argument is valid or not, this was certainly not the point of view of the late Government and the right hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson). We need not go to Circular 242 but to Circular 210, in which the right hon. Gentleman laid the duty on local authorities to be aware that the economic difficulties of the country have called for a close review of Government expenditure. Then he went through a number of methods, which have been mentioned by one speaker after another, by which that review was to be carried out.

The Motion calls for the restoration of all cuts upon the planned expansion of the service under the Education Act, 1944. But it was not this Government but the late Government which called upon local education authorities to do nothing to impair the progress and development in hand, save by some slowing down in some directions. Again, on administration, we were told that there appears to be room for considerable retrenchment. We were told on recreation, this is a higher figure than can be justified in present conditions for these purposes, valuable as they are. On transport, the Minister considers that economies reasonably can be made, particularly in urban areas.

Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Will the hon. Gentleman also make clear to the House that in Circular 210 there was no mention of any percentage cut in estimates?

Mr. Hollis

It is quite true that there was no mention of any percentage cut. There was a mention of a 10 per cent. increase in payments for adult education. But I do not think that fact has anything to do with the argument—an argument addressed to the hon. Member for Merioneth, who said that under no circumstances must there be educational economy. I was pointing out to him that his principle was a point of censure upon the late Government, and that is a matter which surely is beyond argument.

That accounts for the greater part of the arguments which have been used by hon. Members opposite. Such other arguments as have been used almost all fall into another curious class. This is a Motion which is supposed to be a Motion of censure upon my right hon. Friend for issuing these two circulars, and hon. Members opposite one after another point out that various local education authorities propose to do various things which are in contradiction to those circulars.

It is reasonable to appeal to my right hon. Friend, as the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) did, to tell the House what action she intends to take if those alleged facts are true and if local authorities intend to defy the circular, but why the circular should be condemned because somebody else defies it is, I confess, something that I find extremely difficult to understand.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Merioneth for his speech because he made clear what is the real issue behind this, which I think we all knew, and behind a very large number of other kindred topics—and that is, "Are you in favour of the full re-armament programme or are you against it?" If one is against the full re-armament programme—and the hon. Member apparently is, doubtless with all sincerity—then I agree that it is easy to say, "If we are not to spend all these thousands of millions on armaments, it is quite unnecessary to have these restrictions on the education service, on the Health Service and all the other services"—restrictions which we all regret.

On the other hand, if we say, as the right hon. Member for South Shields says and as we say, that, detestable as it is, we think it necessary to carry through the full re-armament programme, then, of course, our approach to the problem must be an entirely different and much more difficult one. Before such a fundamental difference, it is a waste of time to talk to anybody about this problem unless they first define on which side of the fence they stand on this important topic.

From the hon. Member's point of view about re-armament—and if we were discussing it I should cross swords with him, but we are not discussing it—it is perfectly easy for him to denounce those economies, but if we do not feel able to accept his point of view, then it is quite obvious that our field of criticism is necessarily a very much more limited one, as, indeed, was evident from the very sincere speech of the right hon. Member for South Shields. Obviously, it is nonsense to say, "I am in favour of full re-armament and also of spending everything we possibly can think of on education and everything we can think of on the Health Service." If we think it is necessary to have full re-armament, then obviously the amount of money we have to spend on other desirable things is very limited indeed.

It is a very remarkable achievement of my right hon. Friend that under such circumstances as these she should be able to say, not that there should be a cut—whether we call it a cut or a ceiling I do not mind—or, at any rate, a reduction in educational expenditure, but that there should be an increase in educational expenditure. It is a waste of time in the circumstances for people to say, "This thing is desirable, that thing is desirable," as if my right hon. Friend were Aladdin and could rub a lamp and produce schools and teachers simply by saying we wanted them.

We have obviously to see, with our very limited resources, what we can do under those circumstances. I do not mean by that, and I am sure my right hon. Friend would be the last person to suggest it, that we need abrogate our function of criticism. It is perfectly legitimate for hon. Members opposite, even accepting the general position, to say, "I think that economies should be made here rather than where you are proposing to make them."

It is legitimate for an hon. Member, if he cares to do so, to argue, "I think subsidies are very important, but I think education is even more important. I think, therefore, that the subsidies should be cut more than they are being cut and that more money should be spent on education." It is legitimate for an hon. Member to say, "I think the Health Service is important, but I think education is more important, and therefore I think there should be higher charges on the Health Service in order that more money can be spent on education."

All such arguments are perfectly legitimate arguments to which we should listen with interest if they were put forward sincerely, but to talk as if there were not a financial problem is obviously a waste of time and is simply rubbish. Therefore, I say to my hon. Friends who have expressed regret that the party aspect has been introduced for the first time into these education debates, that quite honestly I do not think that is important, because the party points which have been made have been so completely without any value whatsoever or any importance in the debate that we can neglect them and turn to deal with the intrinsic problems on their own merits.

Quite apart from the party points, I agree that there are these great problems to which we must give our minds impartially, in order to see how, in the difficult circumstances, we can make things turn out as well as possible. I agree with hon. Members opposite that the problem of providing teachers is certainly important if we are to have an educational system, and we cannot hope to find an adequate number of teachers unless they are paid properly. But why that should be a matter of censure on my right hon. Friend in this debate, and on this circular, I do not know.

Teachers' salaries have neither been reduced by my right hon. Friend nor settled by these Circulars; yet the point is in itself certainly a perfectly valid one, and I agree that teachers should be properly paid; and when the time comes when we can pay them more highly, let us by all means pay them more highly. I have a sneaking fear from what the Parliamentary Secretary used sometimes to say in his unregenerate days—I hope that he will not mind being reminded of it and that it will not be of embarrassment to him—that however highly we pay the teachers there are only a limited number of people in this country who can teach. That may prove to be true. I do not believe that we could get an unlimited number of good teachers even if we paid them a million pounds a year. That is one problem.

There is also the problem, one great problem to which we have to devote our minds, of too large classes. Again, it is very right that, in a general educational debate, we should discuss that problem, but, again, it cannot conceivably be pretended that that is a matter for censure of my right hon. Friend, for she is not responsible for the fact that there are too large classes at present.

On the contrary, as we know, this figure that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) gave, of 1,150,000 places which were to be filled by the end of 1953, did not make any allowance for smaller classes at all. That is, therefore, a very grave problem, the solution to which, we are sorry to hear, is as far off as my right hon. Friend felt it her duty to tell us it was. I very much hope that in a few years' time, when the back of the housing problem has been broken, with these new methods, it will be found possible to build new schools somewhat more rapidly than it has at present been found possible to do.

Suggestions have been made for coping with the problem of too large classes. There is the suggestion that the first year at school should be knocked off. Then it is suggested that the last school year should be made at any rate voluntary. It would be idle to pretend that there are not certain arguments in favour of either one or the other of those courses, but I am very glad that we have not as yet been compelled to do either, and I hope we shall not be compelled to do either.

On this question of school building and house building I should like to make my position absolutely clear. When hon. Members opposite happen to talk about housing they pretend that it is absolutely impossible to increase the rate of house-building, but when they happen to be talking about schools they seem to think that schools can be built just by making speeches about them. The truth is that, of course, there is a shortage of labour, there is a shortage of money, and there is a shortage of materials.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Merioneth to talk about the amount of steel being spent on the schools and the amount of steel being spent on armaments, as though steel were not going to be spent on anything but schools and armaments, but the truth is that we want to build schools and we want to build houses, and with a shortage of labour and money and materials we have, to some extent, to choose whether to build houses first or whether to build schools first, and I have no kind of hesitation myself in saying that, even looking at it simply from the narrow educational point of view, when we have to choose between the two it is more important to build houses than it is to build schools.

If we take that pamphlet, "Reading Ability," that the late Minister of Education issued, then we find some very alarming reflections by the editors of that pamphlet on the decline in reading ability and consideration of the reasons for it; and one of the main reasons, they have no doubt, is bad housing conditions. I am sure that, even from the point of education itself, it is more important, when we have to make a choice between the two, to build houses than it is to build schools.

There is the question of what sort of schools should be built. I should like to say in passing, in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) that, while I do not want to go now into the larger question of the voluntary schools, as it is now under negotiation, there are in paragraph 9 of Circular 245 some words which, I hope, will not be interpreted too rigidly to prevent the building of voluntary schools.

People often talk as if the voluntary schools cost the Government money. In one sense, they save the Government money—in the sense that a child has to go to some school anyway, and if it goes to a provided school the Government pay the whole bill, but if it goes to a voluntary school that the denomination is willing to pay part of the bill. That is a saving to the Government.

Then there is the question in Circular 242 about travelling expenses. I understand that my right hon. Friend has promised to give her personal attention to hard cases, and I do not think there is very much more than we can ask on that at the moment. It is quite clear, however, that the more delay there is in the building of schools, then inevitably more children are likely to have to travel long distances to the schools that exist. I hope that as generous an interpretation as possible of Section 55 of the Act will be applied.

There is no good, as I said, talking about schools on which we ask the Government to spend more money in such times as these, unless we can also suggest some way in which it may be possible for the Government to spend less money. I cannot but believe since I have the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnworth himself for it, that there is still room for economy in administration. If the expenditure was excessive when it was £12,500,000 it cannot be too little now that it is £13 million. But I also should like to hear from my hon. Friend as to whether there is truth or not in the allegations that have been spread about to some extent about excessive sums being spent on teachers' training colleges such as those at Wentworth Woodhouse, Easthampton, Trent Park, Chatsworth House and so on. We have heard stories about grotesque expenditure of money. Whether they are true or not I should very much like to be told.

I think that, for all its defects, this education debate has differed from all other education debates I have ever listened to in the sense that quite a number of hon. Members have talked about education. It is a very good thing that we should discuss the fundamental business of the educational system, and recognise that it is not material things nor the spending of money that really matter, but the question of whether the children, at each different stage of their careers, can get the education that is proper to it.

The ex-Minister of Education, I think, performed a very great public service by issuing that document "Reading Ability," calling attention to the serious state of affairs from certain points of view. It is no good answering that with the rather sentimental generalisation such as was mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short). The facts are fairly clear. It is true that the children's health is better than it ever was—and that is good. But the state of literacy is serious. It is the first business of an educational system to try to cure those defects, and I am sure that we all wish my right hon. Friend well in her great task of tackling this problem.

8.39 p.m.

Mr. Ralph Morley (Southampton, Itchen)

The right hon. Lady made very great play in her speech with the fact that the Education Estimates for the next financial year will be in excess of the Estimates for the present financial year, and it is true, of course, that they will be nearly £6 million more. But the Education Estimates for this year were £7,500,000 more than the Education Estimates for the previous year.

The right hon. Lady also pointed out that the total expenditure borne by the Exchequer and by the rates, £328 million, was £10 million more for the coming year than it was for this year, but last year the total expenditure on education was £27,500,000 more than it had been in the previous year. Circular 210, which was quoted by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis), in no way lessened expenditure after it had been issued to local education authorities. In fact, after that circular had been issued there was a very considerable expansion in the amount of money spent upon education during that current year.

The fact that the Education Estimates for the coming year will be only just under £6 million in excess of the estimates for this year means, in effect, that the standard of education in the coming year will be lower than that of this year, because if the standard of education in the coming year were to be maintained at the same level as in the preceding year there would have to be a considerably greater increase in expenditure than of just under the £6 million now proposed, because of the substantial increase in all the costs which education authorities have to bear—costs of school equipment and of the increased number of teachers who will have to teach the increased number of children.

To keep the standard for the coming year at the level of the standard of this year there should have been a considerably greater expansion of educational expenditure than the £6 million which the Minister has proposed to the House in her Estimates.

It was suggested by the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude), that there had been a "ceiling" put upon educational expenditure. There never has been a "ceiling" upon educational expenditure, so far as I know. In fact, during the past six years educational expenditure has expanded year by year. I think the idea behind his statement was that education was only entitled to a very small proportion of the total national income. I think that was also the idea in the mind of the hon. Member for Devizes.

Mr. Hollis

Why should the hon. Gentleman think that was in my mind?

Mr. Morley

The hon. Gentleman said, in effect, that there must be a limit to expenditure upon education. He suggested that we could not exceed, at all events, the present proportion of the annual national income spent upon education. The proportion of the annual national income spent upon education is comparatively small. The £206 million in the Estimates represents only 4.8 per cent. of the total budgetary expenditure, and the £328 million, which will be the combined expenditure from the Exchequer and from the local rates, represents less than 3 per cent. of the total national income, taking the total income as something like £12,000 million.

I submit that the 3 per cent. of the national income spent upon education is not excessive, and that the proportion of our national income which we spend upon education might well be increased, and could be increased even with the present expenditure upon armaments.

Circular 242 said, in the first paragraph, that local education authorities were being asked to cut their estimates for the coming year by 5 per cent. on account of the economic and financial position of the nation. So far as I know, there is no internal economic crisis at the present time. The revenue last year was buoyant; the Chancellor had a surplus of £500 million in his last Budget; full employment, or nearly full employment has been maintained, and production is increasing. In fact, the Chancellor estimated that the total increase in production this year would be in the region of £250 million. So there is no internal crisis which would justify a cut in educational expenditure.

The crisis is purely a balance of payments crisis. The crisis is due to the fact that we had to pay more for our imports last year than we received for our exports. Cutting expenditure upon education will not increase the price that we receive for our exports; nor will it reduce the price that we have to pay for our imports. A cut in educational expenditure is wholly irrelevant to the present economic and financial position of the nation.

Circular 205 has now been issued for some time. Most local education authorities have had time to consider it and to make up their minds what their policy will be in reference to it. We now have the conclusions on the circular of the majority of local education authorities, so that we can see a fairly complete picture of what the results of the circular will be in economies in education during the coming year. A very large number of local education authorities have, as a result of the circular, decided to cut their teaching establishments. With one or two exceptions, they have not decided actually to dismiss teachers, but have decided not to appoint teachers when vacancies occur for the usual reasons of death, retirement or domestic reasons. It has been stated that one authority, Surrey—and I see there is a represntative of that authority here—intends actually to dismiss 80 teachers, or to ask 80 teachers to find employment under some other authority.

Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)

I have already stated in the House that that is an absolute untruth. It emanated from a member of the council who ought to have known better, and who ought to have been much more loyal to his council than to spread this untruth by saying that the Surrey Education Committee intend sacking 80 teachers. That is quite untrue. Our staff will be added to next year by some 154, if I remember the figure aright, in addition to those we are now employing. We have a certain number of supernumerary teachers who will be shifted, but nothing beyond that.

Mr. Morley

I am glad to hear that disclaimer from the hon. Gentleman. I was quoting from a speech made by a member of his own authority.

We can absolve the education authority of Surrey, but it was stated in the daily Press last week-end that Somerset were considering dismissing 200 teachers. At any rate, a considerable number of authorities have decided to reduce their teaching establishments for next year in the way I have mentioned. That means there will be fewer teachers for an increasing number of children. In other words, there will be larger classes in the coming year as a result of that circular to local authorities.

I notice that the Minister, in her speech, admitted that, because she said that there would be 250,000 additional children in the schools next year and 3,000 additional teachers. That is one teacher for each additional 80 children. I do not know whether we are going back to the days which I used to know when I was a young teacher when we had 80 children in a class. The first effect of the Minister's circular will be to increase considerably in a number of areas the size of the classes which the teachers will be called upon to teach. Already, there are 35,000 classes in this country with over 40 children on the roll and 1,500 classes with over 50 children on the roll.

Following out Circular 242, a large number of authorities have decided to cut their capitation grants for school equipment—books, stationery and apparatus for use in the schools.

Mr. S. Marshall

Not Surrey.

Mr. Morley

Maybe not Surrey, but a good many others. Quite a number have decided to cut their capitation grants. One Welsh authority is cutting the grant from 12s. per head to 9s. per head, and the price of books, stationery and general equipment in the schools in the coming year will be considerably higher than it was in past years. Prices have been steadily rising, particularly in the case of books and stationery, during the past year. The effect of a cut in the capitation grant means that many fewer books, and much less stationery and equipment will be available for the children in the schools in those areas which have decided to cut the capitation grant than was available last year.

A large number of authorities have also, as a result of the circular, decided not to paint either the exterior or interior of their schools and to have no repairs done during the coming year. To sum up, on these three things alone, the result of the circular will mean that children will be taught in larger classes, in dingier buildings and with less equipment, and it is because of that we have put down this Motion of censure tonight and backed it up with a three-line Whip.

The Minister appears to think that, even with the Circular 245, she will still, by the end of 1953, have the necessary number of school places available for the additional children who will be needing them. That, of course, is not the opinion of a large number of local authorities. The Minister herself knows full well that many local authorities have either sent deputations to her or are asking for deputations to be received by her because her policy in relation to school building means, in their opinion, that they will not have the places available at the end of 1953.

Dorset County Council say that their programme for 1952–53 will be cut in half; Essex say that 15 schools will not be built; Chelmsford say that 1,000 children will not have schools in 12 months' time; Kent say that a large number of children of secondary school age in 1953 will be prevented from attending school—14 new schools have been deferred. Lancashire say that 11 out of 16 schools in the 1952–53 programme will have to be cut out; Northumberland are sending a deputation to the Minister protesting against cuts in the school building programme. Fourteen schools have been lost in Birmingham, representing a year's work for which everything had been planned.

Bristol say that they will be 2,000 school places short, and that unless they have schools they cannot be responsible for carrying out the 1944 Act. Nottingham say that six schools have been put on the shelf. Undoubtedly, Circular 245 will mean that in 1954 there will be a number of children for whom there will be no places available in our schools. That is why we are protesting against Circulars 242 and 245, because we know what the results will be.

The Minister, in her speech, talked of the difficulty of securing new teachers, particularly women teachers. I would have thought that perhaps she might have secured more women teachers if she had supported the principle of equal pay for men and women in the teaching profession, and that she might get more men and women teachers if she used her influence to secure a better scale of remuneration for men and women teachers generally.

The hon. Member for Devizes said just now that it was not the Minister's fault that teachers had not got increased salary scales but the fact of the matter is, of course, that negotiations were going on between the teachers and the authorities on the Burnham Committee for an increase in the present salary scales when the Minister's Circular 242 was issued, asking all local authorities to make a 5 per cent. cut in their estimates for the coming year.

It was not a very good atmosphere for negotiations for increased salaries when the people with whom the negotiations were taking place knew that a responsible Minister had told them that they were to reduce their expenditure for the forthcoming year by 5 per cent. below what had been originally planned. I am afraid that the Minister, through her circular, must bear at least some small measure of responsibility for the fact that these negotiations with the Burnham Committee were not successful, and I hope that she will make amends for that by using what influence she can—without, of course, interfering in any way in the conduct of an independent negotiating body—to see that there is a happier result in the Burnham Committee negotiations in the near future.

The Minister rightly said that there was not a large number of girls in the grammar schools who could become teachers and that 60 per cent. of the girls in the top forms became teachers and it was not reasonable to expect a larger percentage. That is a very sound argument, but there is also the fact that a large number of boys and girls leave grammar schools several years before the age of 18, many leaving before 16.

During her term of office, the Minister might try to find some means of inducing children to stop at the grammar schools a little longer and getting both children and parents to appreciate that the grammar school course is one not from 11 to 16 but from 11 to 18. An inducement might be to offer bigger maintenance grants to children still at grammar schools after the school leaving age.

By that means the Minister might get a bigger reservoir from which teachers could be drawn, but she will not get enough teachers for the growing number of children unless there is equal pay for men and women teachers and more adequate remuneration for both. I know that many young women say that they will not enter a profession where they feel they are treated as if they have an inferior status although they do the same work and assume the same responsibilities as their men colleagues while getting one-fifth less salary.

Some 120 years ago Macaulay said that this nation was subject to recurrent fits of puritanical morality and that during those fits someone had to be found as a scapegoat. That was fairly true throughout the 19th century. The last scapegoat found for a recurrent fit of righteousness and morality was a certain celebrated dramatist. It would appear that during the 20th century the nation has not been subject to recurrent fits of puritanical righteousness but every 15 years or so we have had recurrent fits of "economania," and education has always been the first scapegoat at those times. Unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself in this occasion.

I hope that, by administrative action, the Minister will be able to temper the wind to the lamb which she proposes shall be shorn, that her bark will prove to be much worse than her bite when she examines the proposals which will be put forward by local education authorities, and that in the course of her administration she will endeavour to undo at least some of the damage to our educational system and to educational advance which has undoubtedly been done by her two unfortunate circulars.

9.3 p.m.

Mr. Sidney Marshall (Sutton and Cheam)

My incursion into the debate will be not much longer than the one which I have already made. When the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) moved the Motion, I could not help feeling that he had not any very great depth of sincerity, not in what he was doing but in the belief that the House really needed a Motion like this in order to express its opinion about education.

If we divide tonight, this will be the first time since the 1944 Act reached the Statute Book that we have divided on an educational issue. It is sad that the House, which has always shown such unanimity on this question, although having its own opinions about the details of the administration of education, should be asked to divide on what we thought was a very important national issue.

The Minister gave a wonderful explanation of all the demands now being made on our educational fabric. Some people think that the word "economy" should never be used or that it is wrong to exercise economy, but there is hardly a thing in the world, and in our own worlds in particular, in connection with which we cannot from time to time use the word "economy" with the greatest sincerity.

I believe that it is being used with very great sincerity by the Minister in connection with the circular. If local authorities have used discretion—one or two may not have done so, and I hope that the Minister will administer to them a sufficient corrective; I say that with sincerity, too—they will have handled the matter very considerately.

I have not much more time, but I want to refer to a point which no one seems to have mentioned in the debate, namely the distribution of teachers. The Minister said that part of the difficulty about teachers was their distribution. I think that is true, but my own county has no difficulty whatsoever, in common with many other authorities in the near-London districts, of getting teachers.

I know that there are very grave difficulties in outlying counties in this matter, and it might well be considered whether, in cases where the conditions of teaching are not very attractive, some extra payment might be given to them. It is not an unusual thing to consider. We have had to do it in London, but London does not need any such distinction now. I would be in favour of teachers being paid some extra allowance when they are called upon to teach in outlying districts where the amenities are poor.

The House must have been glad to hear the Minister's proposals in regard to building. I have continually stressed that upon building will depend to a very large extent the expansion of education under the 1944 Act, but we have been thwarted year after year by never being able to build what we wanted. The right hon. Member for South Shields described some very beautiful secondary schools he had seen. We have a large number of them up and down the country, under the "1949 Direction" I think it is called, but they are very expensive and far too large. There is one school not 20 miles from this House where the headmaster will have to use a bicycle to get up and down the corridors with any speed.

We can build schools too thoroughly and too well. We might consider whether to build in some districts what we have called "semi-permanent structures", which may not have the same life as the more expensive school buildings. Populations shift and diminish. They may in the years ahead diminish in areas where we now have large numbers of children. The children will grow up, and then the schools will be half empty. I know a place where that really happened.

If we did not build such expensive schools we might easily spread the money over larger areas. I think that this is an important point. I hope the Minister will not only insist on savings being made in building but upon less expensive methods being used, and will take care that local authorities follow her directions in every case so that we get the most places in schools with the least expenditure of money.

In regard to administration, we have found in my own county that we cannot make very large savings. We thought we could save if we were able to abolish the divisional executives, but we have discovered that this will not save very much money. Divisional executives might be looked at again from the machinery point of view. I have come to the conclusion that we duplicate a great deal of work by the divisional executive system.

I know I am saying something altogether different from what I first believed when the 1944 Act came to be implemented. I took great pains in my own county to establish divisional executives and even brought five excepted districts into the scheme because I really thought we should take a great step forward in the administration of education. However, I think we have gone a little too far in what we have given divisional executives to do. I do not advocate their abolition, but the structure might be altered advantageously so that the central authority can exercise much more control over the divisions. We must still have divisional administration because education cannot be run without it.

There are many matters like that into which I wish the Minister would look. On the whole, however, I think the circular has been received with satisfaction by educational authorities throughout the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We have to remember that it is not the first circular they have received in these terms. There was the one which the previous Minister had to send out and on that occasion there was no howl from the other side of the House. I must say this because I believe that many hon. Gentlemen opposite have stumped the country and misrepresented the intentions of the Minister in this circular. I cannot believe that those Members of the Opposition who know something about teaching could support their colleagues in the great amount of misrepresentation which there has been in the country.

The hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley), who knows a great deal about education, having himself been a teacher for many years, actually repeated a statement to the effect that my authority was sacking 80 teachers. I am sorry that it has gone as far as Southampton and received credence. That is not correct. We must keep politics out of education. Education is a job for all of us. I shall not sentimentalise over it although we have had a great deal of that this afternoon. We all know what education is intended to be and what it is for.

On the business side of education this circular has been received with a great deal of sympathy, and I am sure the local authorities will do their best to do what the Minister has asked, so that in the more fortunate times ahead we shall be able to continue expansion in an ever-widening circle by means of the wonderful Act under which we work today.

The 1944 Act was put on the Statute Book by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and by the right hon. Member for South Shields, working together. I realise how much the right hon. Gentleman put into it, and today we benefit from that great work he did with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If we implement the circular to the best of our ability, we shall have an opportunity in the future to continue to expand our system of education.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

Throughout this debate my hon. Friends on this side of the House have presented the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary with a formidable array of the effects, some of which are apparent already and some of which are inevitably to be expected, which must result from the policy embodied in the circulars issued by the Minister.

The reply we have had from the other side of the House has rested, first, on the proposition that, whatever may be damaged, what is described as the essential fabric of education will remain untouched. Second, it has rested on the proposition that whatever is damaged, the plea of necessity can be advanced to excuse that damage. In addition to those two difficulties, the Minister provided us with what I may call an interesting sample lesson on the subject of the supply of teachers, although she failed, as I shall hope to show later, to connect that and to make it relevant, as it could have been made, to the subject we are discussing tonight.

Look, first of all, at Circular 242. That circular invites local education authorities to aim at a reduction in their estimates of 5 per cent. but not to damage the essential fabric of education. The first thing to notice is that that is a muddled and self-contradictory direction, as one local authority after another found out when they endeavoured to turn the terms of the circular into practical administration.

They found, as one of my hon. Friends has pointed out, and as anyone with experience of local education administration will know, that there is a considerable range of items which cannot be cut if one is to obey the instruction not to damage the fabric. Very nearly 80 per cent. of their expenditure, if they were not to damage the fabric, could not have any part of this total of 5 per cent. cut imposed upon it.

The Minister then, in her circular, went on to advise authorities to cut administration, which is always one of the safe things to say. But that was like the extraordinary knot into which the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. S. Marshall) managed to tie himself when he talked about this subject—and I should give a prize to anyone who was able to say at the end of the hon. Member's speech what exactly was his policy with regard to divisional executives.

Mr. S. Marshall


Mr. Stewart

No, I cannot give way. The hon. Member had plenty of time to make himself clear, and failed to do so.

On this matter of administration, it must be noticed that my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Tomlinson) issued Circulars 209 and 210 and that they resulted in considerable administrative economies. We have, also, the results of the work of the Local Government Manpower Committee. It is just because those things have already been done that it is so pointless for the Minister to talk now as if there was a great field of economies still to be found in the realm of administration.

Hon. Members who have spoken from the other side of the House have repeatedly tried to quote Circulars 209 and 210 as if they were in some way a justification of what is proposed now. They are the reverse of a justification. If we have already carried through considerable economies in a certain field, such as administration, that leaves all the less room for further economies. If we have already, through real necessity, had to postpone certain very desirable elements in the building programme and have left undesirable schools standing longer than we would have wished, that is not a reason for continuing that policy any longer. It is a reason for looking with the greatest suspicion at any further restrictions or the cutting down of projected building programmes.

When the local education authorities have realised how little there is to be done in the fields which the Minister has suggested, they are left with the situation that if they are to get anywhere near 5 per cent. there remain one or two fields, such as that of further education, where, if they are to get a 5 per cent. cut, they have pretty well to slash that item out of their education expenditure completely. That is an impossible proposition.

I say, therefore, that the intent of this circular was obscure and self-contradictory. The effect of it on the local education authorities has been strikingly represented to the Minister in the House both today and earlier. It was noticeable that some of the more alarming economies that her circular provoked among the authorities had to be brought to her attention, in the first instance, by my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) and others of my hon. Friends in the House. The Minister certainly gave the impression, not today, but on an earlier day at Question time, of being completely taken aback with the information that my hon. Friend was able to give her.

The Minister will now tell us, "I shall not allow the education authorities to do these things." She is holding up as the model of her administration a circular that gives contradictory instructions when some of the authorities endeavour to follow them out, and if between two contradictory phrases they happen to choose one rather than the other, she says that she will then trail along afterwards trying to undo the damage that they propose to do by following her advice.

It is very much easier for the right hon. Lady to issue a circular of this kind and then it will be for her to conduct a long series of wrangles such as she evidently will have to conduct with Warwickshire and, no doubt, not with Warwickshire alone. If I may be allowed a classical quotation in an educational debate I would say "facilis descensus Averno," which, for the benefit of champions of university constituencies opposite, I will render—it is much easier to issue a mischievous circular than to clear up the mischief afterwards.

I say that if there was no intention to damage the fabric of education, either this circular should never have been issued in the terms in which it was issued, or it should now be withdrawn and something more carefully thought out and more related to the realities of local educational administration issued in its stead.

If I may say a word about building restrictions, for they are indicated in Circular 245, and the effect of the stoppage of new starts on building, I would point out that in regard to new starts what has happened is that throughout the last five months of this financial year no new projects will be started. I understand that the same will apply in the first three months of the forthcoming financial year.

In the forthcoming financial year, in the 12 months, we are to have a programme which is to be, in effect, an amalgamation of something left over from 1951–52 with some of the projects which were to have been brought in in 1952–53. But those 12 months will be a 12 months in which, during the first three months, there will be no starting of new buildings and at the end of the forthcoming financial year we shall inevitably be faced with the fact that substantially less building—all building—will have been started during that time.

The contention of the Minister is that by concentrating on the completion of schools she will achieve by the end of 1953 a number of school places comparable with, or equal to, what my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth claimed. I would draw her attention to the fact that if that is to be so it must mean that the number of school places provided since the end of the war—not since 1947, but since the end of the war—will be not 1,150,000, but 1,450,000. The Minister assumes that that can be done.

Let us suppose for a moment, although only for a moment, that that assumption is valid and that she will provide those places. They will be provided at the cost of a very heavy reduction in the starting of new buildings. That also has to be paid for, and paid for very quickly, in the succeeding years. It will be paid for in the form of our finding ourselves desperately short of secondary schools, and a further continuance of the existence of schools that we ought to have got rid of long ago in our educational history.

It will also be paid for in a further postponement of any prospect of reduction in the size of classes and throw into great uncertainty anything that might be done on the lines proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth to meet some of the difficulties of the denominational schools, a matter to which the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. F. Maclean) made so unfortunate a reference.

It is because of these difficulties that in the circular there are these recom- mendations for squeezing into secondary schools more forms and children than they can properly hold, for "dodging" with the child's school life and holding it back from the secondary school at the time when it ought to move. This is the time when I would remind the right hon. Lady of what she said about the great need for more teachers. Part of the time she seemed to be arguing that because our educational system was to be placed in great difficulty by shortage of teachers that was a reason for creating more difficulties by the curtailing of buildings and by these two circulars.

But, surely, the real moral that she should have drawn was that, if our trouble is shortage of teachers, all her policy ought to bear in mind this consideration: How can we make the profession of teaching more attractive to people who may take it up? Does the right hon. Lady imagine that by a policy which says, in effect, to anyone who is considering now whether to start training as a teacher, "By the time you are ready to enter on the active practice of your profession the full disastrous effects of the policy I am proposing of the cutting down of the starting of new buildings will be waiting for you when your training is completed"—

Mr. E. Partridge (Battersea, South)

Absolute nonsense.

Mr. Stewart

That is the inducement which the right hon. Lady is offering. I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman's interjection is applied to the policy of the right hon. Lady. If so, it is peculiarly apposite.

If the right hon. Lady wants advice about how to deal with this problem of teachers, I hope that she will listen to that which was tendered by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Morley) and my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short). All the points apply, even if the Minister's assumption is valid that she can provide the places by the end of 1953. I think that her circular actually speaks of meeting the needs of major new housing developments. There was some disagreement between the Minister and one of my hon. Friends on that point. Certainly, the word "major" appears in the circular.

But is this assumption valid? It is valid if we make the further assumption that by abandoning a project for which all preparations may be made to start a school immediately that much labour and resources can be applied to the job of finishing a school somewhere else. That is not always a valid assumption. It is not true that if we stop the project to start building a school in one part of the country the labour will be available immediately, even if it were the same kind of labour, in some other part of the county to finish a school there. Nor does this line of thought take account of the fact that local authorities build their schools to a phased programme.

Frequently, though not invariably, the date at which it is planned to bring a school to completion has relation to the housing developments in the area. To say to a local authority that they will be in a position to build certain schools a few months earlier than they would have done, may confer on them very little benefit indeed. It certainly will not be a benefit in any way commensurate to the injury done by telling them that in two or three years' time they will find themselves desperately short of schools, because of the cutting down of the programme of starting in the forthcoming 12 months.

We are sometimes told that we must face these educational cuts in order to shift building labour and materials to the housing programme. What will be the situation if new housing estates are completed and then the schools are not there? It might be open to the right hon. Lady to say that perhaps the children can go a little further afield to school. It might be open to her to say that, if she were not simultaneously making an attack on the provision for the transport of children who have to travel a distance to school.

We must look for a moment at the other defence advanced to this policy—the defence of necessity. We are told that the economic and financial situation is extremely grave and that we must face some reductions of this kind. I suggest that if one is to practise economy at all there are two principles which one ought very carefully to observe. The first is that when we make an economy we should endeavour, so far as possible, to inflict on ourselves only a temporary pri- vation rather than something that will leave a permanent scar on the health, the welfare and the progress of the nation.

By that principle, this economy is a false one. The right hon. Lady has allowed herself to become a prisoner of her own phrase—"the essential fabric of education." If we were dealing with buildings, that might be true, but the right hon. Lady would do much better to think of education not as a fabric but as a plant which has to be regularly tended and watered, and one concerning which we cannot make up for one year's neglect by pouring extra water on it at an unspecified date in the future. So that that offends against the first canon of economy.

Another important canon of economy is that there must be a proper relation between what we lose and what real savings we make. What are we losing, and what are we doing without here? The injuries and uncertainties and the confusion to local authorities created by Circular 242 are part of the losses or injuries from this supposed economy. There is an increased creation of difficulties for people who seek further education or university education.

I must remind the right hon. Lady that the people who seek further educational facilities are often some of the people whose hunger and thirst for education is as strong as that to be found anywhere in the Kingdom. It is all very well for the right hon. Lady to say of some people that they can afford to pay a bit more. I hope that she realises how very narrowly balanced are the budgets of some people who take advantage of the facilities for further education, or whose parents hope to see their children go to a university.

The effect of what the right hon. Lady is proposing to do in these fields is going to push a certain number over the border into a position in which they feel that it really cannot be afforded, and this, again, is part of the loss.

Then, she takes the prospect of obtaining by the end of 1953 the requisite number of school places to which, under the administration of my right hon. Friend, we could have looked forward with steady confidence, and she makes that a prey to a hundred uncertainties. One major point to be considered in this whole debate, and the reason why there is a profound difference between us and why we shall press this matter to a Division is that, in my right hon. Friend's administration, there was a steady advance in the whole tempo of school building.

If the right hon. Lady will look at the answer to a Question which she herself gave not long ago, she will see what the figures of school building were during recent years, and my right hon. Friend was emphatic in stating that it was important that, once that tempo had been attained, it should not be slowed down, but that it what the right hon. Lady is doing.

All these are part of the loss to be suffered, and what, in fact, is the saving? We are debating about an amount of building that is probably about one-fiftieth part of the output of the building industry in the coming year, about a sum of money which is probably one-eight-hundredth part of the national income, and about an amount of steel which is probably about one-five-hundredth part of the national output. Therefore, I say that it sins against the third canon of economy, and that what we may gain by that saving is miserably small in proportion to what we shall certainly lose.

I believe that we are being driven into that false economy because, although the right hon. Lady announced that she was perfectly prepared to stand up to Warwickshire, she will not preserve an equally bold front towards her right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, indeed, in view of the fact—and I say this with no disrespect to the right hon. Lady—that she is not in the Cabinet, she is not in the position, as she ought to be, to do so. Indeed, the fact that the Ministry of Education was not represented in the Cabinet was one of the ominous signs at the formation of this Government, and that evil omen is now being fulfilled.

We must set this plea of necessity against the background of the other items in the Government's policy. When we are told there is need for an economy of money we must set that against the background of a Budget which gives Income Tax relief to people with unearned incomes of £1,000 a year and over. When we are told there is need for economy of building we must set that against six years of diligent propaganda by the party opposite designed to persuade the country that one had only to perform some mysterious operation called setting the builders free and there would be as many houses and schools as one would please.

If the right hon. Lady believed for one moment, during the last Election, that there was any sense in talking about 300,000 houses a year and that the building resources of the country made that in any way a reasonable pledge to give she must have had a considerable shock when she discovered what her problem was about schools; and she must have had difficulty in reconciling that pledge with the story and the excuses she has brought to the House today.

We have had more difficulty in reconciling appeals not to make this a party matter and to keep national unity by the plain fact that when we speak of education and of the damage that will be done to education by this policy we are talking of education of the bulk of the children in this country, yet there is a section of children in this country—some 5 to 10 per cent.—whose chances are completely undamaged by anything the right hon. Lady chooses to do. So, inevitably, her policy is one which drives a greater cleavage between the masses of people in this country and the privileged. [An HON. MEMBER: "Class war."] As the hon. Member rightly says, it is class war.

Last of all I would say this. It is universally agreed that education has a great practical utility, that it increases the material wealth-earning power of the country. I need not labour that point any further. As I know in my life time and in the life time of most of the younger Members of this House—that is of my own generation—one of the biggest changes we have seen has been that the people of this country have now come to like and desire education more than they ever did before. There has been a great and beneficial change in the relations between the school, the child, the parents, the teacher.

One reason for that has been that we have not only had this rather rigid phrase "essential fabric of education." We have had as well that which has made education something gracious and constructive. I wish there were more Members in the Government who knew a little more about the feelings of the people who send their children to primary schools. They would realise that one of the things in which parents take the greatest pride is the variety of activity and interest that is provided for their children.

We talk of the "essential fabric." If a man is to be served with meals day after day with just the essential fabric of proteins and carbohydrates without regard for flavour and appetite, if a woman is invited to dress herself with something which is mere essential fabric without regard for design and colour, can one really expect that will be readily achieved? But we are asked to provide the merely utilitarian basis of education without anything that adds to the grace and dignity and amenity of life.

It is important that this country should not only be educated so that its people can be vigorous and can produce and increase material wealth; it is also important that this country should present to mankind an example of gracious living and civilised standards. That is what is threatened by the Minister's policy and that is why we introduced our Motion in condemnation of that policy.

9.40 p.m.

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

I hope I may perhaps be allowed to resign from the class war, even if I do not get the whole House co-operating with me in giving an example of gracious living. As the time left to me is not very great I hope I may be forgiven if I cut out the usual perambulation round earlier speakers, with bouquets for some and not for others, and also because I feel too much like the condemned man at the top of the ladder to think it would be appropriate for me to curry favour with the judge.

As I have been in the House since three o'clock this afternoon, except for 25 minutes, I hope I may be forgiven, also, if I do not make what might be called a very continuous argument, because in my situation one is faced with the choice either of taking things in the order they come on one's notes or of going out for one or more half-hours and missing three or four speeches.

In some of the things he said, the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) was only echoing, as he should, what was said by the right hon. Gentle- man the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) about the effect of the circular upon local education officers. The right hon. Member for South Shields and the hon. Member for Fulham, East talked rather as if this circular were perhaps innocent enough in intention but had a horrible effect on the persons in the offices of local education authorities.

The right hon. Member for South Shields has an excellent opportunity to gather information upon this matter. He has been a pundit of local government and has himself held office—high office when he held it—in the Ministry of Education, and he has been an even higher Minister than that in the hierarchy; so I was, for a moment, almost impressed with this report to us about how local education authorities had got the impression from my right hon. Friend's circular that they were really to slash a great deal more than the words might indicate.

I was reassured by the fact that three or even four hon. Gentlemen opposite quoted as a very clinching opinion something that had been said by Dr. Alexander. I happen to have in my hand the current number of the official organ of the Association of Local Education Authorities, and in it there is an article by its official secretary, who is the same Dr. Alexander. He says: Reviewing the estimates as a whole, it is clear that the education service is to be maintained in its essential fabric and that, while the Minister looks to Local Education Authorities to exercise the maximum economy consistent with that policy, she recognises at the same time that substantial increases in expenditure are unavoidable. So it really does not look as if there had been this unreasoning panic in local education authority offices caused by my right hon. Friend's circular.

Mr. Short

Would the hon. Gentleman read the sentence before that?

Mr. Pickthorn

No; my extract is quite fair, and I do not think the previous sentence contradicts anything in my argument. Hon. Members opposite have spoken when they were quite fresh and for what length they chose and I think they should let me speak for 20 minutes.

I want to answer one or two of the specific questions that were asked of me. One of them was about training colleges. One was Wentworth Woodhouse. I have forgotten the name of the other country house. The fact is that the cost of Wentworth Woodhouse amounts to £250,000.

The point about buildings which I think it is fair to try to reiterate is this: in spite of the moratorium, we shall hit the late Government's target of 1,150,000 additional places between January, 1947, and December, 1953. That is the figure which was calculated, by the right hon. Gentleman whose absence we regret, is necessary, and we believe that figure can be reached.

The most important question, I think, which the right hon. Member for South Shields asked me was about reading materials. I agree with him that the most important matter of all in educational questions is teaching staff, and the next important question is reading matter, and especially the variety of reading. The answer is that under the circular and under the administration, it is intended that more should be spent upon reading materials, in so far as prices are rising, and that is one of the reasons why the Estimates for 1952–53 are nearly 5 per cent. up on those for 1951–52.

About university entrance scholarships, a specific question was put to me, and I hope I may be believed to care at least about this. One hon. Member begged the House to consider on how very narrow a margin some of those who obtain the chance of higher education have to pursue it, and I can assure him that probably nobody of his age pursued it on a narrower margin than that on which I pursued it. I hope it is not excessively autobiographical if I state what some hon. Members opposite will know, that I do not think anybody has tried harder than I to help people who are engaged in that pursuit. I hope it will be believed that I am saying what I mean on that subject.

The Minister has circulated a list showing the differences between the provision offered by various authorities, because that information has never before been generally available. It is not intended in the last to tell anyone that they have to work up to some average, nor to suggest that everybody who is giving much more than the average is always being extravagant, nor that everybody who is giving much less is not doing enough. There is no such intention at all.

Mr. M. Stewart

The question is very simple. Are we clear that there is no intention on the part of the Government to require local education authorities to reduce any amount of money which they may spend in awards to people going to universities?

Mr. Pickthorn

If the people come forward and are up to standard—and the maintenance figures are under discussion at present—there is no intention at all of trying to exclude persons who come up to the standard. I hope it will be believed that my right hon. Friend and I would be the last not to be determined in that regard.

Another specific question which I was asked is, I think, of some general interest to hon. Members opposite, and it is about residential colleges and particularly Ruskin College; and the specific answer is that grants are not being cut. I was asked about deferring military service and National Service for attendance at agricultural colleges, and I think the most I can say is that that will be looked into.

About technological education also I am bound to say that there is nothing very immediate and definite that can be said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Perhaps I ought to remind the House, especially those hon. Members who greeted that derisively, that this is not a matter solely or even primarily for my right hon. Friend since it so much concerns the universities—and, it goes without saying, the Treasury—so that it is not a matter upon which there could be a very positive declaration made now by somebody in my situation.

But what can be said is that the Government are fully aware of the importance of technological education. I think, with respect to hon. Gentlemen opposite who suggested that the standards of technological teaching in this country had not been quite so high as in some others, that that is a faulty diagnosis of the malady. I do not think it is that our best technological education is not as good as that anywhere else. I think, so far as my inquiries go—and I had been in or near this world for some considerable time before I was in this office—that the difficulty is not that our best technologists are not as good as the best technologists elsewhere, but that we do not produce quite enough numerically of the not quite best tech- nologists —the not quite most refined and distinguished and elevated type of technologists. What can be said immediately is that the Minister of Education is increasing the use of technical colleges to produce technologists, and has every intention of doing everything she can to help in that way.

I am sorry, but I have come back to Wentworth Woodhouse—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—because I think it a pity not to tell hon. and right hon. Members opposite about Wentworth Woodhouse. There is there a training college which is called the Lady Mabel Training College. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Which, I am sure, would not have been christened the Lady Mabel Training College because Lady Mabel was a Socialist, because that would have been using public money and administrative authority for party advertisement; so it was, I have no doubt, christened the Lady Mabel Training College to show the then Minister's devotion to the aristocracy.

This training college is an adaptation of Wentworth Woodhouse, which was, I believe, the greatest house in England, and it is to cost £200,000 plus up to £70,000 for furniture and equipment—that is to say, a cost per pupil of well over £1,000. The other two about which I was asked were, I think, Newton Park at Bath and Easthamstead, and the figures there are similar. I will send them to the hon. Gentleman who asked me about them.

Now I will, if the House will permit me—indeed, I will anyway, audibly or inaudibly—come to the fascinating question with which we began, of when is a cut not a cut or when what is not a cut is profitably described as such for party purposes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Comic Cuts.'"] I would invite hon. Gentlemen opposite—if they could believe me to be serious for a moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I must say they always rise very well—to compare what they said about this increase in educational expenditure being a cut with what they said about the

decrease in expected expenditure on food subsidies not being a cut.

Because if any right hon. and hon. Gentleman opposite—if any one of them—in the stilly watches of the night—and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman Just above the Gangway would not need to, but there may be some others who, in the stilly watches of the night wish to check how much they themselves think they have benefited by education—if such will look at the argument they will find that in the one case it was argued that, although it was quite true that the amount of money which would have been necessary in order to keep the forecasts of food prices where they then were was greater than the Exchequer permitted no interference like that was anything like a cut, whereas when it comes to education hon. Gentlemen opposite have not only argued that an increase in the amount of money spent on education is a cut: they have gone a length further than that today and argued that in any year in which the increase in educational expenditure is not greater than it was in the previous year, then education must be regarded as having been cut.

That argument has been perfectly seriously and clearly put today, and I say to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that when they get to the point of not being able to think clearly—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I do not know why hon. Gentlemen opposite think that noise is evidence of having thought clearly. When they get to that point, of not being able to think clearly about something because they have put it out of their power to think about it by making its name a blessed and magic word, then argument really becomes impossible and nothing but prejudice is left. And nothing but prejudice has been shown in any of the speeches from the other side of the House today.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 283; Noes, 312.

Division No. 45.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Acland, Sir Richard Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Baird, J.
Adams, Richard Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Balfour, A.
Albu, A. H. Awbery, S. S. Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Ayles, W. H. Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Bacon, Miss Alice Bence, C. R.
Benn, Wedgwood Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Benson, G. Hamilton, W. W. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Beswick, F. Hannan, W. Pannell, Charles
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Hardy, E. A. Pargiter, G. A.
Bing, G. H. C. Hargreaves, A. Parker, J.
Blackburn, F. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Paton, J.
Blenkinsop, A. Hastings, S. Peart, T. F.
Blyton, W. R. Hayman, F. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Boardman, H. Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.) Poole, C. C.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Popplewell, E.
Bowden, H. W. Herbison, Miss M. Porter, G.
Bowles, F. G. Hewitson, Capt. M. Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hobson, C. R. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Brockway, A. F. Holman, P. Proctor, W. T.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Houghton, Douglas Pryde, D. J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Rankin, John
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Reeves, J.
Burke, W. A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
Burton, Miss F. E. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Reid, William (Camlachie)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Rhodes, H.
Callaghan, L. J. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Richards, R.
Carmichael, J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Champion, A. J. Janner, B. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Chapman, W. D. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Chetwynd, G. R. Jeger, George (Goole) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Clunie, J. Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Ross, William
Cocks, F. S. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Royle, C.
Coldrick, W. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Collick, P. H. Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Cook, T. F. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Cove, W. G. Keenan, W. Short, E. W.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Kenyon, C. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Crosland, C. A. R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Crossman, R. H. S. King, Dr. H. M. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Cullen, Mrs A. Kinley, J. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Daines, P. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Smith, Norman (Nottingham S.)
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Snow, J. W.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lewis, Arthur Sorensen, R. W.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lindgren, G. S. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sparks, J. A.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Logan, D. G. Steele, T.
Deer, G. Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Delargy, H. J. MacColl, J. E. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Dodds, N. N. McGhee, H. G. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Donnelly, D. L. McGovern, J. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Driberg, T. E. N. McInnes, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) McKay, John (Wallsend) Swingler, S. T.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. McLeavy, F. Sylvester, G. O.
Edelman, M. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, John (Brighouse) McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mainwaring, W. H. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mann, Mrs. Jean Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Ewart, R. Manuel, A. C. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Fernyhough, E. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thurtle, Ernest
Field, W. J. Mayhew, C. P. Timmons, J.
Fienburgh, W. Mellish, R. J. Tomney, F.
Finch, H. J. Messer, F. Turner-Samuels, M.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mikardo, Ian Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Follick, M. Mitchison, G. R. Usborne, H. C.
Foot, M. M. Monslow, W. Viant, S. P.
Forman, J. C. Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Wallace, H. W.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Morley, R. Watkins, T. E.
Freeman, John (Watford) Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mort, D. L. Weitzman, D.
Gibson, C. W. Moyle, A. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Glanville, James Mulley, F. W. Wells, William (Walsall)
Gooch, E. G. Murray, J. D. West, D. G.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Nally, W. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. O'Brien, T. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Grey, C. F. Oldfield, W. H. Wigg, G. E. C.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oliver, G. H. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Orbach, M. Wilkins, W. A.
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Oswald, T. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Padley, W. E. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Paget, R. T. Williams, David (Neath)
Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Williams, Ronald (Wigan) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Williams, W. R. (Droylsden) Wyatt, W. L. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.
Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.) Yates, V. F.
Aitken, W. T. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lambert, Hon. G.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Duthie, W. S. Lambton, Viscount
Alport, C. J. M. Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Langford-Holt, J. A.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.
Anstruther-Gray, Maj. W. J. Erroll, F. J. Leather, E. H. C.
Arbuthnot, John Fell, A. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Finlay, Graeme Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Fisher, Nigel Lennox-Boyd, Rt Hon. A. T.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Lindsay, Martin
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Linstead, H. N.
Baker, P. A. D. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Llewellyn, D. T.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Fort, R. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Baldwin, A. E. Foster, John Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Banks, Col. C. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Barber, A. P. L. Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Barlow, Sir John Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)
Baxter, A. B. Gage, C. H. Low, A. R. W.
Beach, Maj. Hicks Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Gammans, L. D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Garner-Evans, E. H. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd McAdden, S. J.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Glyn, Sir Ralph McCallum, Major D.
Bennett, William (Woodside) Godber, J. B. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Birch, Nigel Gough, C. F. H. McKibbin, A. J.
Bishop, F. P. Gower, H. R. McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Black, C. W. Graham, Sir Fergus Maclay, Hon. John
Boothby, R. J. G. Gridley, Sir Arnold Maclean, Fitzroy
Bossom, A. C. Grimond, J. MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)
Boyle, Sir Edward Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Braine, B. R. Harden, J. R. E. Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hare, Hon. J. H. Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Harris, Reader (Heston) Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Markham, Maj S. F.
Brooman-White, R. C. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield) Marlowe, A. A. H.
Browne, Jack (Govan) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Marples, A. E.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Harvie-Watt, Sir George Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Bullard, D. G. Hay, John Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Bullock, Capt. M. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Maude, Angus
Bullus, Wing Cmdr. E. E. Heald, Sir Lionel Maudling, R.
Burden, F. F. A. Heath, Edward Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr S. L. C.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Medlicott, Brig. F.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Higgs, J. M. C. Mellor, Sir John
Carson, Hon. E. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Molson, A. H. E.
Cary, Sir Robert Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Channon, H. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Hirst, Geoffrey Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Holland-Martin, C. J. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Hollis, M. C. Nabarro, G. D. N.
Cole, Norman Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich) Nicholls, Harmar
Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Holt, A. F. Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Cooper, San. Ldr. Albert Hope, Lord John Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
Cooper-Key E. M. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Nield, Basil (Chester)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Horobin, I. M. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.
Cranborne, Viscount Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Nugent, G. R. H.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Oakshott, H. D.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Odey, G. W.
Crouch, R. F. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Cuthbert, W. N. Hurd, A. R. Orr-Ewing, Ian L (Weston-super-Mare)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.) Osborne, C.
Davidson, Viscountess Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Partridge, E.
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
De la Bère, R. Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Perkins, W. R. D.
Deedes, W. F. Hylton-Foster, H. B. H. Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Digby, S. Wingfield Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich) Peyton, J. W. W.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Jennings, R. Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Donner, P. W. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Doughty, C. J. A. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Pitman, I. J.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Jones, A. (Hall Green) Powell, J. Enoch
Drayson, G. B. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Drewe, C. Kaberry, D. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Profumo, J. D.
Raikes, H. V. Spearman, A. C. M. Turton, R. H.
Rayner, Brig. R. Speir, R. M. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Redmayne, M. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.) Vane, W. M. F.
Remnant, Hon. P. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Vosper, D F.
Robertson, Sir David Stevens, G. P. Wade, D. W.
Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Robson-Brown, W. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Roper, Sir Harold Storey, S. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Russell, R. S. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Studholme, H. G. Watkinson, H. A.
Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Summers, G. S. Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Sutcliffe, H. Wellwood, W.
Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne) White, Baker (Canterbury)
Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.) Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Scott, R. Donald Teeling, W. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford) Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Shepherd, William Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Wills, G.
Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth) Wood, Hon. R.
Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington) Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N. York, C.
Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) Tilney, John
Snadden, W. McN. Touche, G. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Soames, Capt. C. Turner, H. F. L. Brigadier Mackeson and
Mr. Butcher.

Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."

The House divided: Ayes, 311; Noes, 282.

Division No. 46.] AYES [10.10 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Glyn, Sir Ralph
Alport, C. J. M. Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Godber, J. B.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Cole, Norman Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Conant, Maj. R. J. E. Gough, C. F. H.
Arstruther-Gray, Maj. W. J. Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert Gower, H. R.
Arbuthnot, John Cooper-Key, E. M. Graham, Sir Fergus
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Gridley, Sir Arnold
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Cranborne, Viscount Grimond, J.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton) Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Baker, P. A. D. Crouch, R. F. Harden, J. R. E.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Crowder, John E. (Finchley) Hare, Hon. J. H.
Baldwin, A. E. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)
Banks, Col. C. Cuthbert, W. N. Harris, Reader (Heston)
Barber, A. P. L. Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Barlow, Sir John Davidson, Viscountess Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)
Baxter, A. B. Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)
Beach, Maj. Hicks De la Bère, R. Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Deedes, W. F. Hay, John
Bell, Philip (Bolten, E.) Digby, S. Wingfield Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Dodds-Parker, A. D. Heald, Sir Lionel
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Donner, P. W. Heath, Edward
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Doughty, C. J. A. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm Higgs, J. M. C.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Drayson, G. B. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)
Birch, Nigel Drewe, C. Hill, Mrs. (Wythenshawe)
Bishop, F. P. Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Black, C. W. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hirst, Geoffrey
Boothby, R. J. G. Duthie, W. S. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Bossom, A. C. Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M. Hollis, M. C.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)
Boyle, Sir Edward Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Holt, A. F.
Braine, B. R. Erroll, F. J. Hope, Lord John
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Fell, A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.) Finlay, Graeme Horobin, I. M.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Fisher, Nigel Horsbrugh, Rt Hon. Florence
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Brooman-White, R. C. Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Howard, Greville (St. Ives)
Browne, Jack (Govan) Fletcher-Cooke, C. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Fort, R. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Bullard, D. G. Foster, John Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.
Bullock, Capt. M. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Hurd, A. R.
Bullus, Wing Cmdr. E. E. Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Burden, F. F. A. Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Gage, C. H. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok) Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Carson, Hon. E. Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Cary, Sir Robert Gammons, L. D. Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)
Channon, H. Garner-Evans, E. H. Jennings, R.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas Spearman, A. C. M.
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Speir, R. M.
Jones, A. (Hall Green) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Nabarro, G. D. N. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Kaberry, D. Nicholls, Harmar Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Stevens, G. P.
Lambert, Hon. G. Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.) Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Lambton, Viscount Nield, Basil (Chester) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Langford-Holt, J. A. Nugent, G. R. H. Storey, S.
Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Oakshott, H. D. Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Leather, E. H. C. Odey, G. W. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Studholme, H. G.
Legh, P. R. (Petersfield) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Summers, G. S.
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Sutcliffe, H.
Lindsay, Martin Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare) Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Linstead, H. N. Osborne, C. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Llewellyn, D. T. Partridge, E. Teeling, W.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton) Perkins, W. R. D. Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Peto, Brig. C. H. M. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Peyton, J. W. W. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr R. (Croydon, W.)
Longden, Gilbert (Herbs, S. W.) Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monm'th)
Low, A. R. W. Pitman, I. J. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Powell, J. Enoch Tilney, John
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Touche, G. C.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Turner, H. F. L.
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O. Profumo, J. D. Turton, R. H.
McAdden, S. J. Raikes, H. V. Tweedsmuir, Lady
McCallum, Major D. Rayner, Brig. R. Vane, W. M. F.
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Redmayne, M. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Remnant, Hon. P. Vosper, D. F.
McKibbin, A. J. Roberts, Maj. Peter (Healey) Wade, D. W.
McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Robertson, Sir David Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Maclay, Hon. John Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)
Maclean, Fitzroy Robson-Brown, W. Walker-Smith, D. C.
MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Roper, Sir Harold Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries) Russell, R. S. Watkinson, H. A.
Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Ryder, Capt. R. E. D. Webbe, Sir H. (London & W'stminster)
Maitland, Patrick (Lanark) Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur Wellwood, W.
Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Markham, Maj. S. F. Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Marlowe, A. A. H. Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale) Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Marples, A. E. Scott, R. Donald Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Shepherd, William Wills, G.
Maude, Angus Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maudling, R. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Wood, Hon. R.
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) York, C.
Medlicott, Brig. F. Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Mellor, Sir John Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Molson, A. H. E. Snadden, W. McN. Brigadier Mackeson and Mr. Butcher.
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Soames, Capt. C.
Acland, Sir Richard Brockway, A. F. Darling, George (Hillsborough)
Adams, Richard Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)
Albu, A. H. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell) Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Davies, Harold (Leek)
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Brown, Thomas (Ince) Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Burke, W. A. de Freitas, Geoffrey
Awbery, S. S. Burton, Miss F. E. Deer, G.
Ayles, W. H. Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Delargy, H. J.
Bacon, Miss Alice Callaghan, L. J. Dodds, N. N.
Baird, J. Carmichael, J. Donnelly, D. L.
Balfour, A. Castle, Mrs. B. A. Driberg, T. E. N.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Champion, A. J. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Chapman, W. D. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.
Bence, C. R. Chetwynd, G. R. Edelman, M.
Benn, Wedgwood Clunie, J. Edwards, John (Brighouse)
Benson, G. Cooks, F. S. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Beswick, F. Coldrick, W. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Collick, P. H. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)
Bing, G. H. C. Cook, T. F. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Blackburn, F. Corbet, Mrs. Freda Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)
Blenkinsop, A. Cove, W. G. Ewart, R.
Blyton, W. R. Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Fernyhough, E.
Boardman, H. Crosland, C. A. R. Field, W. J.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Crossman, R. H. S. Fienburgh, W.
Bowden, H. W. Cullen, Mrs. A. Finch, H. J.
Bowles, F. G. Daines, P. Fletcher, Eric (Islington. E.)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Dalton, Rt. Hon H. Follick, M.
Foot, M. M. McGovern, J. Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Forman, J. C. McInnes, J. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McKay, John (Wallsend) Short, E. W.
Freeman, John (Watford) McLeavy, F. Shurmer, P. L. E.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McNeil, Rt. Hon. H. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Gibson, C. W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Glanville, James Mainwaring, W. H. Slater, J.
Gooch, E. G. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale) Mann, Mrs. Jean Snow, J. W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Manuel, A. C. Sorensen, R. W.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon D. R. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Grey, C. F. Mayhew, C. P. Sparks, J. A.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mellish, R. J. Steele, T.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Messer, F. Stewart Michael (Fulham, E.)
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mikardo, Ian Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Mitchison, G. R. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Monslow, W. Stross, Dr. Barnett
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Hamilton, W. W. Morley, R. Swingler, S. T.
Hannan, W. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Sylvester, G. O.
Hardy, E. A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Hargreaves, A. Mort, D. L. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.) Moyle, A. Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Hastings, S. Mulley, F. W. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Hayman, F. H. Murray, J. D. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.) Nally, W. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Herbison, Miss M. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Hewitson, Capt. M. O'Brien, T. Thurtle, Ernest
Hobson, C. R. Oldfield, W. H. Timmons, J.
Holman, P. Oliver, G. H. Tomney, F.
Houghton, Douglas Orbach, M. Turner-Samuels, M.
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Oswald, T. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Padley, W. E. Usborne, H. C.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Paget, R. T. Viant, S. P.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Wallace, H. W.
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Watkins, T. E.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Pannell, Charles Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford C.)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pargiter, G. A. Weitzman, D.
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Parker, J. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Paton, J. Wells, William (Walsall)
Janner, B. Peart, T. F. West, D. G.
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Plummer, Sir Leslie Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Jeger, George (Goole) Poole, C. C. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford) Popplewell, E. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Porter, G. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Jones, David (Hartlepool) Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton) Wigg, G. E. C.
Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Proctor, W. T. Wilkins, W. A.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Pryde, D. J. Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Keenan, W. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Kenyon, C. Rankin, John Williams, David (Neath)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reeves, J. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
King, Dr. H. M. Reid, Thomas (Swindon) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Kinley, J. Reid, William (Camlachie) Williams, Rt. Hn. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Rhodes, H. Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Richards, R. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Lever, Harold (Cheatham) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Lewis, Arthur Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Lindgren, G. S. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wyatt, W. L.
Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Yates, V. F.
Logan, D. G. Ross, William Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Royle, C.
MacColl, J. E. Schofield, S. (Barnsley) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McGhee, H. G. Shackleton, E. A. A. Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House recognises the duty of Her Majesty's Government in present circumstances to promote economy and welcomes their determination to maintain the essential fabric of the educational service.