§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Buchan-Hepburn.]
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
The subject which we are to debate today—because of a counter attraction, in a not very full House—is of very great interest and, indeed, of very great importance. But I regret to say that the interest taken by the House, the Government and the country is spasmodic. From time to time, we have had debates on some aspects of this problem, but they are generally rather desultory debates and do not keep up the necessary head of steam which our present economic circumstances demand.
I believe that the time has come for a reassessment of our need for scientific and technical manpower along the lines of those which we have had almost every five years. There was the Barlow Committee, reporting in 1946, following the Percy Committee's Report on higher technological education, and the separate Reports, on different aspects of the subjects, of the Hankey Committee in 1950. I believe that the position described by the Hankey Committee in most of these fields has now substantially changed and that the recommendations made by such a Committee would be very different if they were made today.
Of course, we have had some very substantial achievements. By 1951 we had succeeded in doubling the number of graduates in science and technology which was recommended by the Barlow Committee. But we have made very little progress since. The number of graduates in pure science went up from 2,528 in 1939 to 5,505 in 1951 and in technology, chiefly engineering, from 1,669 to 3,963. It is in technology that the greatest advance now needs to be made and we cannot be satisfied with the present position, because it looks as though the expansion is slowing down.
During the same period there was an even more substantial expansion in the number of Higher National Certificates and Higher National Diplomas, chiefly in 580 engineering, the latter as a result of full-time work and the former as the result of part-time work, although diplomas are taken by only a very small number. They rose from just over 1,100 in 1939 to 1,300 in 1943, to 5,600 in 1951 and over 6,600 in 1953. Although the figures are not yet published—there is some reference to them in the Treasury Bulletin for Industry last month—it is thought that the peak has been reached and that if the numbers are not falling, they are levelling off. That is important, because many of these people, by further examination, obtain the qualifications of their appropriate professional institutions, whether in engineering or in other applied sciences.
On these benches we can be proud of what was achieved under the Labour Government and what that Government did to increase the supply of scientific and technical manpower and in other ways to encourage scientific research and development. I am afraid that some of the things we did, some of the encouragement we gave to scientific development, has had the result of increasing the difficulties with which we are now faced. I refer, in particular, to the very farsighted policy of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in starting the atomic energy research programme in this country on which the Government are now proposing to build so much and which is one of the causes of the present shortage.
There can be no doubt of the seriousness of the present position. Anybody who reads the advertisement columns of our daily papers, "The Times" and the "Manchester Guardian" in particular, will see that every day there is page after page of advertisements for every type of scientist: physicists, chemists, engineers, metallurgists and draughtsmen. Most of the advertisements require the applicants for the post to have at least a degree or Higher National Certificate. In the well-known technical paper "Engineering" last week there were advertisements for engineers or draughtsmen by the R.E.M.E., the Ministry of Supply, Ministry of Transport, the Air Ministry, Ministry of Labour, Civil Service Commissioners, the National Coal Board, the Central Electricity Authority, the London Electricity Board, the Atomic Energy Authority, London County Council, the Australian Department of 581 Supply, the Government of New South Wales, the Government of Iraq, the Universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrew's, Sheffield and Cape Town, a number of technical colleges and 122 consultants, oil companies and manufacturing companies—many of them for several posts. At 16th May the number of unfilled vacancies on the Technical and Scientific Register of the Ministry of Labour was 5,103.
It is estimated that the demand for graduate engineers now exceeds the supply by more than one-third. This situation will undoubtedly get rapidly worse. It is quite useless planning our production and the supply of these people on what appears to be the present requirement. There is no doubt that at present many jobs are filled by someone, somehow, but there is no doubt that many of these jobs are inadequately filled in regard to quality and I would refer particularly—this is topical—to the Fleck Report on the Coal Board.
Mr. S. E. Goodall, Vice-President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, in a recent paper to the British Electric Power Convention, said:The position is acute and there is every sign that it is likely to become worse. Before very long there can be no doubt that new projects will be seriously retarded and some may even have to be abandoned if no solution to this problem can be found.Sir Owen Wansbrugh-Jones, Chief Scientific Officer at the Ministry of Supply, said in a paper to the Institute of Physics that of 81 trained graduates, with at least a second-class honours degree and some experience, selected by his Department as scientific officers only 43 accepted the position. Of "experimental officers," about pass degree standard, about 60 or 70 per cent. accepted the job.
Many public organisations have complained recently that they have been unable to carry out their work because of the shortage. The most recent have been the National Physical Laboratory, in its annual report, and the Patent Office, in its annual report. The Patent Office needs not only to maintain the present position, but to expand and many people feel that its Library could provide a much more useful service in industry and in science generally if it had the requisite staff. It is not only in research, development and design that we are short of properly trained staff. It is generally considered by those who know that we are much too 582 slow in developing new ideas in manufacture and this is because those who go in for production engineering have not the educational background required to take advantage of the new ideas in materials and methods.
The Institution of Production Engineers has estimated that we need to double the number of production engineers of professional or graduate standard in the next ten years. Sir Ewart Smith, vice-chairman and technical director of I.C.I., and chairman of the British Productivity Council, has said that if we are to accept the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposal to double the national income in twenty-five years, we must have at least a 4½ per cent. increase in industrial production and I doubt whether that is enough, if we take account of the serious difficulties brought by changes in the terms of trade. This will involve more than a 5 per cent. increase in the number of applied scientists employed in British industry.
There is a serious danger that we are not keeping level with and are, indeed, probably falling behind, what is being done in other countries. Sir Alexander Todd, Chairman of the Government's Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, in an extremely interesting paper to the Scientific and Parliamentary Committee last week, dealt with the proportion of scientists and engineers per head of the working population. He gave these figures for the United Kingdom. Including graduates and those with Higher National Certificates, in 1939 there were 0.5 per cent., and in 1954 there were 0.9 per cent. The figure was nearly doubled, and that is a very gratifying increase; but in the United States, to take comparable figures of those with at least first degrees in these subjects, in 1939 there were 0.9 per cent., and today there are at least 2 per cent.
It is considered that in Russia the figures are even higher, and everybody knows that the United States itself is extremely worried about its own supply of these sort of people. According to Professor Davies, of King's College, London, the number of professional engineers of comparable education is lower in Britain than in most other major European countries, although in most of them the engineering industry forms a much smaller part of the total economy.
583 I believe that the rate of increase is probably faster in some of those countries. I heard recently that in Belgium, for instance, an agreement had been made with the United States for the exchange of knowledge on atomic energy in return for Congo uranium, and this includes a very substantial increase in technological education. This is something which we must take very seriously. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels in this respect.
The causes of these shortages are fairly well known. They are, first, the demands of defence; secondly, the very rapid development of scientific and technical invention and the growing complexity of manufacturing processes; thirdly, the need to continue the already started change—but not started fast enough, I think—in the nature of our exports from the more simple and traditional productions to the much more complicated productions, especially those in the capital goods industries, which alone will provide.us with really satisfactory markets in future as other countries industrialise themselves. Fourth, there is the increase in industrial investment, which the Government wish to encourage, and especially the increase in the fuel and power industries.
Yesterday, the Minister of Fuel and Power told the House what he proposed to do to deal with the desperate shortage of the sources of energy in this country. He admitted that the atomic energy programme, on which the Government are basing most of their policy, is held back at present because of the shortage of scientific and technical staff. His actual words were:They are numbered in hundreds rather than in thousands."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1955; Vol. 544, c. 389.]There is no doubt at all that it is quite useless to provide a purely theoretical basis for an expansion of this sort if the technical staff for designing, planning and building the plants is not likely to be available. While this is taking place exactly the same thing, only worse because they have more difficulty in recruiting the staff, for reasons which we can well understand, is taking place in the Coal Board. The Coal Board—the coal industry generally—has been desperately short of any reasonable standard of 584 scientific and technical staff through most of its history.
The Minister of Fuel and Power, in a dramatic passage yesterday, suggested, I think with the approval of the whole House, that it is time that we got away from the traditional drudgery, filth and beastliness of the methods at present employed in the mining of coal. We will never do that unless we bring to the mining of coal much more scientific research and organisation, and that means much more scientific manpower.
The Minister also referred to new processes in the production of gas—gas from oil, complete gasification of coal, which is being done in Germany, and so on. But these are complicated new technical processes which are themselves dependent upon research and on having enough chemical engineers, capable of designing and building the plant. In addition, there is the rapid expansion of the electricity power stations, for generation by whatever means. That is bound to mean a larger number of skilled professional engineers and technicians.
Perhaps one of the most useful ways in which we could—and I believe that the Government intend to do this—save coal in the United Kingdom is by the railway reorganisation which has been planned whereby we shall turn from coal-burning to diesel-driven and electrically-driven locomotion. The railway industry, way back in the years before nationalisation, never used sufficient qualified engineers or scientists. It was always, as were so many of our traditional older industries, desperately lacking in the sort of scientific research and development which a modern industry needs.
The annual intake in recent years of men of this sort, mainly graduates, has been between twenty and thirty. I am told that the British Transport Commission, to carry out its reorganisation plan, will need 500 additional engineers—400 civil engineers and 100 others. My view is that the Commission is still living in the past and that it will need far more electrical and mechanical engineers if it is to take advantage of the new devices—the electronic control of marshalling yards, the new signalling devices and the improved methods of locomotion whether by diesel, gas turbine or electricity.
It may be that the Commission is relying on the suppliers of this machinery, in 585 which case the suppliers will need more staff to carry out the necessary research, development and design. The British Transport. Commission says that its plans will be seriously held up by the shortage. It is unfortunate that the railways have this old history of not recruiting men of this type and of being, in the years before nationalisation, vast bureaucratic organisations of the type to which young men are not normally attracted. Today, the railway reorganisation plan, with all its new engineering and scientific developments, would make an exciting career for any man who wanted to go into something which will really change and expand and provide interesting work.
At the recent conference organised by the Institution of Production Engineers, at Margate, on the automatic factory, the point came out clearly that, far from any danger arising from the social and economic effects of the introduction of automation, as it has come to be called, the pace of the introduction will be held back by the shortage of scientific and technical staffs. This is nothing on which we can congratulate ourselves or in which we can find any comfort whatever, because these methods will develop in other countries and it may be quite impossible to do the sort of things which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been talking about in the way of expanding the national income, if we do not take advantage of these new technical devices.
I am quite certain that the needs of industry will grow much faster than many in industry now realise. In fact, it is easy to think of the needs of these new, exciting, spectacular industries—atomic energy, aircraft, electronics, and so on—but the needs of the less spectacular and more traditional industries must also be considered. While it may be true that these more exciting industries and more interesting jobs attract the men from the universities and technical colleges, they are doing so only because they are dragging them out of other industries which need them almost as badly. Many parts of our industry, including our engineering industry, are very backward indeed.
It was very surprising that there was no paper by a machine tool manufacturer at the conference at Margate on automation. I was shocked to see in "The Times Review of Careers in Industry" that the only industry, of all those in the review, 586 which said that it had no use for boys who terminated their education after the age of 16 was the machine tool industry which said that it had use only for those who entered by craft apprenticeship.
I am well aware of the value of a craft apprenticeship. No member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union, as I am, would denigrate the craft apprentices or the man who has succeeded in the industry by that means; but times are changing and, in future, the craft apprentice will have to have a far higher standard of technical understanding and knowledge than he has had in the past. Nor will it be much use him going into an industry which does not supply the professional skill to do the research and design because, frankly, the jobs will then not be there. It is an extraordinary thing that all the papers on the machine tool industry at this conference were either by the users—for instance, the Austin Motor Car Company which had to make its own transfer machine tools because the machine tool industry was unwilling or unable to do it—or by manufacturers of the new controlling techniques—electronic techniques—such as Ferranti.
Finally, on his question of shortages, we must not forget—and we on this side of the House will not—the part which we need to play in the underdeveloped areas. At present there are only 500 scientists in the whole of the Colonial Empire. The Advisory Council on Scientific Policy said in its Report for 1953–54 that the volume of research at present going on was insufficient to secure the even expansion of agriculture in tropical areas, and in many cases a lack of scientific knowledge constituted a continuing menace for the economic security of the territories concerned.
Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the Chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, who is concerned with mining in South and Central Africa, has recently said that there are grave shortages of qualified men at all levels and in nearly all industries and Government Departments. It is not only in Africa and the East that we need these men particularly. If we are to maintain our prestige and our political lead in Europe, we must play our part in bodies such as the European Productivity Agency and contribute towards its pool of knowledge, and help the less industrialised countries in Europe, 587 such as Greece and Turkey. I am not sure whether at present we are able to do that; but I welcome the recent appointment of Mr. Fletcher, who has done so well as head of the production department of the T.U.C., as deputy director of the European Productivity Agency.
I have dwelt at some length on the demand side of this problem, because I believe that it is useless to make elaborate plans for investment or for industrial change if we do not, at the same time, make plans to produce the staff, and I do not believe that the present plans for doing that in any way measure up to the financial figures of the plans which the Government have so far announced for a number of the basic industries, or the financial plans announced by a number of firms in private industry.
Before we consider the supply side, we ought to make sure that there is no waste in the use of scientific manpower, and the Government have the duty of ensuring that none exist in the Services or in any of the civil departments under their control. At present, 12 per cent, of the scientists who are graduates in science and mathematics are employed by the Government and many more are employed in industry on defence projects. It is true that at the present time, often due to the shortage of non-scientific staff, very largely due to the wages in the Government service, highly qualified people are doing work which should really be done by others. For instance, we hear frequently of scientific officers typing their own reports, or, because of the shortage of technicians of very highly qualified scientists, constructing their own apparatus and performing routine tests.
This not only applies in the Government Services, but equally in industry. There are also cases of duplication—there are certainly some in the Government service—and I suggest that one which might be looked at is the Government's Chemist Department. In designing equipment, whether it is for the Armed Forces or for industry, we must take care that it is not too complicated for use or maintenance by the manpower available, and I suggest to the Government that they should read the recommendations and conclusions of the Eighth Report of the Select Committee on Estimates for 1953–54 on the Royal Air Force non-flying 588 establishments. There is a danger that the complications in the processes and machinery in industry will advance faster than we advance the education and training of those people who work with them, and it may even be that we shall advance up to a point where it exceeds the availability of individual intelligence and capacity based on what one would expect from the normal distribution of those qualities in the population.
We do not want a population in which all the scientists and engineers are working overtime and no one else is working at all because there is nothing for them to do. That may well be an exaggeration, but we have to make sure that the instruments and machines which we are designing in the Services—and this applies very much to the Air Force—and in industry are suitable to the people available to use them.
I now turn to the supply of these people. We have, first, to define the types that we require. This is not a question of snobbish differentiation or of trying to establish a professional closed shop; but we need to use our resources of brain power to the very best advantage, and that includes seeing that the channel of advance to each grade is always open to every boy and girl, man and woman, to get to any level in a scientific and technical profession.
The hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead), in the debate on the Address, described the difference between applied scientist or technologist and technician. I refer hon. Members to his definition in the OFFICIAL REPORT, in column 804, and, if I may I will illustrate this by extracts from the definitions adopted by the Commonwealth Engineering conference held last year and the recent conference of Engineering Societies of Western Europe and the U.S.A.:A professional engineer is competent by virtue of his fundamental education and training to apply the scientific method and outlook to the analysis and solution of engineering problems. He is able to assume personal responsibility for the development and application of engineering science and knowledge, notably in research, designing, construction, manufacturing, superintending, managing and in the education of the engineer. His work is predominently intellectual and varied, and not of a routine mental or physical character. It requires the exercise of original thought and judgment and the ability to supervise the technical and administrative work of others.589An engineering technician is one who can apply in a responsible manner proven techniques which are commonly understood by those who are expert in a branch of engineering or those techniques specially prescribed by professional engineers.The report goes on to describe some of the duties typical of the work carried out by engineering technicians, such asworking on design and development of engineering plant and structure; erecting and commissioning of engineering equipment and structures; engineering drawing; estimating, inspecting and testing engineering construction and equipment; use of surveying instruments; operating, maintaining and repairing engineering machinery, plant and engineering services and locating defects therein …The first, the professional engineers, are supplied by the enginering faculties in the universities or by advanced courses of training in technical colleges. It is true that at present—and it is nothing we need be proud of—not all the engineering faculties are full, although the best of them have, of course, more applicants than they could possibly take. It is my view that whether, they are full now or not, their present provision will be quite inadequate for our needs in a few years' time. I therefore welcome what the Government are doing to expand engineering and technological faculties in some of the universities, but I doubt whether this will be anything like enough.
There is, as we all know, an increase in specialisation, to which the Duke of Edinburgh referred yesterday. For those men who are taking up positions of considerable responsibility in industry, we cannot exaggerate the importance of a good basic education, not only in the natural sciences, but also in the social sciences and in the arts. Therefore, it is undoubtedly the case that we shall need far more post-graduate work in the future.
At this point I would ask the Government what is happening to the plan for the doubling of the Imperial College of Science and Technology, announced over two years ago. As the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will know, to some extent my lips are sealed on this matter. I happen to be a Governor of the College and I have, therefore, some confidential information by virtue of that position. I realise some of the difficulties confronting the Government over the site promised to the Imperial College at that time, but I suggest to the Government that they have 590 had plenty of time to settle the matter, and that now it is time it was settled, if the plan is to be carried out. The actual building plan has never yet been published.
The right hon. Gentleman will have seen a recent letter in "The Times" from a group of Kensington architects about the architectural merits of the Imperial Institute. I do not think that I or my fellow governors are Philistines. If there be some great architectural merit and value in this building so that it ought to be preserved, we should have to give consideration to it. Were this King's College Chapel, Cambridge, or something of that kind, I should say, "To hell with the Imperial College on that site." But the value of this building must be considered against the urgent technological and economic needs of the country, and I think that it is now time for the Government to make up their minds.
It is for the Government to decide, and if they decide to change the plan, they should announce that fact. I am under the impression that the whole matter is bogged down in the Treasury, which is not a Department with much knowledge of science, or interested in spending money. But I hope that we shall hear something about the plan and whether or not the Government are now prepared to make up their minds.
The need for advanced work in technical colleges arises out of three facts. There is a dislike by the universities of increasing the proportion of scientific and technical students, which is still only about the same as the pre-war figure of 30 per cent. in spite of increases in the total number of students. Secondly, for a number of reasons, boys and girls do not continue their education from technical or grammar schools but go straight into industry at the age of fifteen or sixteen. Industry is finding that many of them are capable of acquiring technical or professional qualifications and the larger companies are increasingly providing in apprenticeship schemes for part-time day release and sandwich courses.
The third reason is that they provided methods of converting to technologists those who did not take science at school or who read arts at the university. This may be an important method in the future, in view of the shortage of science teachers which still remains.
591 The Minister of Education has announced the appointment of a National Council for Awards in Technology at Technical Colleges. I realise that this is along the line suggested by the National Advisory Council for Education for Industry and Commerce and was accepted by the late Mr. George Tomlinson when he was Minister of Education. But a lot of changes have taken place since then, and these proposals have been, and still are, the subject of a great deal of criticism by industry and the professional associations of engineers, physicists, chemists, metallurgists, and so on.
The chief criticism is that the Minister has completely failed to understand the level of education and training required for these people and the impossibility of achieving it by part-time work. The view is gaining ground that the way to do it is by sandwich courses of four years, in which a man spends six months in industry and six months at the university. The other criticism is that the standard of teaching in many of the colleges is far too low, and we know again, from the Select Committee on Estimates, that many buildings are unsuitable and ill-equipped.
If the resources, both physical and teaching resources, are not to be spread too thinly to provide the quality of education required, the Minister must free from other work a limited number of technical colleges and give them some degree of autonomy so that eventually they can perhaps even award their own degrees. I cannot believe it is impossible to effect a degree of autonomy which would satisfy local authorities, who could have representatives on the board of governors, and satisfy industry as well. The number might present some difficulty; but perhaps six to a dozen might be a good number with which to start.
The right hon. Gentleman will have seen the letter in "The Times" which completely answers his reply to my supplementary question the other day when he said that industry and the professions supported what he was doing. I suppose that what the right hon. Gentleman meant, when he said they supported his proposals, was the proposal for sandwich courses. They will not accept sandwich courses for diplomas unless the Minister is prepared to do something to raise the 592 standards of teaching for this diploma, and it is felt that that can only be done by not spreading the resources too thinly. Finally, what is to be the relationship of this body with the University Grants Committee which, after all is also concerned with higher technological education?
Technical colleges are still required for the training of technicians and I should prefer to see those not up-graded concentrated on this work. I should like to hear further details about the proposals of the Minister for building new technical colleges and for expanding the existing ones or improving their present facilities. I am not encouraged by the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman in the debate on the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech—it is true that he said that he had not been long enough in the Ministry to study the matter, but I hope that he has learned better since—when he lumped together, as it seemed to me, all the miscellaneous activities which take place in technical colleges with the much more important problem of training technicians for industry. This seems to me to show a complete lack of perspective.
Whichever way we may look at this problem, we come back to the education in our schools and particularly in the secondary schools. If we consider recruitment to the universities, we are, as has been said, faced with a shortage of good science teachers. I am not just referring to teachers, but to men good enough to raise the prestige of science in the grammar schools and public schools. It may well be that arts graduates are more inclined to take up teaching than are science graduates—
§ Mr. Albu
Perhaps my hon. Friend is an exception, but I think that that may be the case when we consider large numbers.
It may well be that we could have an alternative teaching course, a mixed arts and science course, which would provide teachers able to teach science in the schools, if the universities would be willing to accept a lower level of entry. If we do that it would mean that much third year specialist work in universities 593 would have to be postponed to the postgraduate stage.
If we are to take advantage of any such changes we must find ways of persuading boys and girls and their parents of the advantage of staying on at school until the university age. It has been estimated that we could get at least a 50 per cent. increase in numbers if we managed to increase the numbers of those children who stayed on instead of leaving school at sixteen or seventeen.
After having studied this matter for some time, I am forced to the conclusion that our secondary school system is not good enough for the age in which we live. It is not only that the proportion of grammar schools is too low—and the Minister has said that he is trying to deal with that—but the number of technical schools is far too low. In fact, the proportion there is far worse. There is only one technical school throughout the country for every four or five grammar schools and in great areas of the country there is not one at all. There is no technical school north of the Tyne except in the County Borough of Newcastle; yet they provide the best means of ensuring the continuity of education of those going into industry.
Many of the counties are unable or unwilling to provide technical schools, so a great potential source of recruitment to industry is lost. It may well be that the only answer in these sparsely populated counties is to have large comprehensive schools, where both technical and grammar school streams of students can be taught by good science masters, starting at the fifth form level. Indeed, in sparsely populated areas, they might take the form of boarding schools. The time is coming when we shall have to integrate the really comprehensive boarding schools—the public schools—into this system and then we shall be certain that every boy and girl with the requisite ability can get the sort of education at the necessary level that we are discussing today.
However, for many years, we shall be left with those who leave the secondary modern schools at fifteen and we shall have to improve these schools. We shall need a higher proportion of these pupils to go on to technical colleges and work for at least their national certificate in engineering and similar qualifications. But there is generally a year's break between 594 leaving school and going into industry before they start to do this. There is a gap in their education from the time they leave school at fifteen and when they start at the technical college at age sixteen or more. There is at present no qualification for entry into the technical college which makes teaching extremely difficult and the wastage very high.
Perhaps the greatest help that we can give in the supply of trained technicians would be the development of county colleges and the introduction of compulsory one-day release for these people. That would destroy the discontinuity in the educational system which exists today. Many of these people who leave secondary modern schools are quite capable of going on and becoming technicians, and even going further and becoming technologists.
The time has come for a really comprehensive review of this problem in the light of the rapidly changing needs, and of the present provision for meeting them, both by public education and within industry—because we want to integrate our public provision with the industrial system. Such a review, and the action which must follow, seem to me to be quite impossible unless they are the responsibility of one senior Minister. The present situation is quite ridiculous. Technical education is the partial responsibility of the Further Education Branch of the Ministry of Education. Higher technological education is divided between this branch and the University Grants Committee, which is responsible to the Treasury. The Treasury, therefore, is the largest spender of public money, subject to no Parliamentary control. I admit that we have to be very careful about interfering in this matter, but the Government have interfered. They have by-passed the University Grants Committee by their proposals in connection with the Imperial College and the expansion of the engineering faculties in a number of universities. I do not say that the University Grants Committee did not agree, but the Government by-passed it in coming to their decision, which is a right decision. I believe that the Government should play a much more positive part in the expansion of scientific and technological education both in technical colleges and the universities if, in the 595 words of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, now that thematerial fruits of Britain's past industrial greatness are no longer sufficient to carry us forward into the futurewe are toequip ourselves with new knowledge and new wealth.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
I am sure that the House much appreciated the very thorough survey which the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) has given us of this most important subject. He knows a great deal about it, and my right hon. Friend and I are grateful to him for the factual way in which he has approached the problem.
Before I describe the plans for the expansion in the supply of technologists and technicians, which lie within the responsibility of my own Department—my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary will speak later about the universities and about the employment of scientists in Government Departments—I want to make two observations. First, our discussion this afternoon is about men and women and not about the products of a factory. We are dealing with boys and girls, who have to be persuaded that more education of a particular kind is good for them with the teachers, who have to come forward and give them this education, and also with employers and trade union leaders, who, I am sure, will see that it is in the national interest to encourage as many boys and girls as possible to continue their education after they have left school.
These are personal problems, and they are altogether different from those of the expansion of the supply of steel, or television sets, or fertilisers, which one can usually work out in terms of money and physical resources. We have to discover how, every year, tens of thousands of young men and women can be persuaded to teach or study the subjects demanded for swift technical change in industry, agriculture, the Armed Forces, and so on.
Money rewards play their part in this business. If teachers' salaries were way out of line with the salaries in alternative occupations, we could not hope to get 596 enough recruits for the teaching profession. We must never allow the teaching profession to become a depressed profession. Again, if parents and their children suffered too much financially from the time which has to be given up for further education, we could not count upon an adequate flow of students for the technical colleges.
Finance is very important, but, especially in young people, the imagination is often the most powerful force in deciding what career they will pursue. A sense of personal adventure, of being up-to-date and in the advance party, and of making a contribution to the progress of one's country or to that of others less fortunate than us, is very often the most persuasive recruiting sergeant of all.
When I began, last winter, to look at this critical shortage of scientists and technicians, I found that the most urgent job to be done was not really an administrative job at all but a public relations job. Not nearly enough effort was being made to fire the imagination of school children, their parents, their teachers and their employers with the adventure of the scientific revolution. It is hard fully to imagine the cornucopia of the atomic age. One uses, quite properly, a phrase such as "doubling the standard of living within 25 years," which it is within our power to do, but it is exceedingly difficult to bring home to individual families—father, mother and the children—just what that kind of change would mean to them. Yet I believe that the prospect is as real as it is romantic, and so I am convinced that the first job of all those who believe in the scientific revolution, and in Britain's contribution to a dramatic rise in world standards, is to communicate to our young people these spectacular dreams which they alone can make come true.
In the last six months my impression is that this has begun to happen. Industry and the Press—and I pay a tribute to the national Press, which has been very good in this matter—and, not least, hon. Members of this House, are sounding the note of confidence in the technical age, and we can already observe definite effects in the schools and among the teachers. Why are there many more applications for places in teacher-training colleges next September than there have been before? The country is more fully employed. Why are more boys and girls 597 staying at school after the age of 15? Why are sandwich courses at technical colleges becoming so popular? The answers do not lie in higher salaries or larger allowances, but in the fact that the public's imagination is beginning to be stirred. Without this quickening interest and confidence in the future, our plans for the expansion of technical education would yield very little.
There is one other preliminary observation which I have to make. Our schools and colleges will satisfy us with an increasing flow of scientists and technicians only if they are giving better education in all subjects, and not just in science and mathematics. I must strongly resist the idea that we can get more scientists and technicians on the cheap, by some rearrangement of the time, the curricula, the buildings and the money which schools and colleges have at their disposal today.
In fact, we should be wasting public money if we went in for big developments in vocational courses and at the same time did not raise the standards of education in our infant schools, junior schools and secondary schools. I am very glad that the hon. Member for Edmonton takes the same view. It would be very foolish to build and equip colleges and fail to give children the education which will fit them to take advantage of the courses in these colleges. I also believe that it would be a crime against civilisation to spend vast sums of money on expanding that kind of education which teaches men how to produce wealth if at the same time we did not also spend money on the kind of education which teaches them how to enjoy wealth.
Hon. Members will therefore see that very bold plans are called for; but very bold plans cost a very great deal of money and make great demands on our limited building resources. The speed with which these plans can be executed depends on the support which they command in this House and among the ratepaying public outside, and also on the share of scarce resources which it is prudent to devote to them.
As the House knows, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for the facilities for technical education provided in Scotland in the technical colleges belonging to the education authorities and in the central 598 institutions, such as the Glasgow Royal Technical College and the Heriot-Watt College in Edinburgh. I understand that there will be an opportunity to discuss the progress made in Scotland and my right hon. Friend's plans in the debate next Tuesday, so that all I need say today in regard to Scotland is that my right hon. Friend fully shares my view of the importance of increasing facilities for technical education and that he is determined to do all that he can to promote those developments which are most suited to the needs of Scotland.
What changes, then, should we make in the education service in England and Wales with the object of getting these extra scientists, technologists, technicians and craftsmen? The time-honoured way to the highest academic qualifications has been through the independent schools and grammar schools to the universities. My right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, when he comes to wind up the debate, will explain to the House the Government's plans for expanding the provision of university education. This expansion will, of course, affect my plans, for it means that a larger number of sixth form boys and girls will be given the chance to go to a university and get a degree there, and we are all pleased about that.
But the fact which now stares us in the face is that this academic route will still be far too narrow to carry the numbers that are required both to push forward the frontiers of science and engineering, and to open up the new discoveries and make them serviceable to the public. We have to shape our education system so that we can meet the call for a very large number of trained men and women who will support the top-flight scientists and make possible the application of their discoveries to commercial and useful purposes. We cannot afford to waste a single boy or girl who may, by ability and hard work, acquire technical skill, whether of a humble or a high nature. It is therefore necessary to construct an alternative and much broader route than that which leads to a university degree.
We intend to work on the plans for this alternative route during the summer, and I had supposed that I would be making a full statement to the House before Christmas, so that what I can now give to hon. Members is really only a sketch and not a finished picture.
§ Mr. R. Moss (Meriden)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say a word or two about making the number of grammar school places more equal in different parts of the country, because it is my belief that we are losing a lot of talent through grammar school places not being available in certain localities?
§ Sir D. Eccles
That is a point, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am asking authorities in areas where the grammar school provision is low—and I gave a list of them the other day in answer to a Question in this House—to increase the provision. Anything up to 25 per cent. seems to me quite reasonable, and with fairly few exceptions I think plans are in hand.
There are two features of our plan which I will try to bring out. The first is how broad the route will be. All boys and girls will be given the opportunity to go as far as their abilities and enterprise will take them, and at each stage in the progress towards the highest distinctions there will be young people leaving the colleges for industry and other young people coming from industry to enter the colleges. I want this route to have plenty of entrances and exits all the way along.
Secondly, I will try to show that there will be a very close partnership between the education authorities and industry. If this experiment in co-operation between the class-room and the factory succeeds, we shall make education history. We intend to do many deals with industry, to invite a particular firm or industry to tell us what vocational courses they wish us to provide; and on our side, we shall add to these courses studies that will broaden the minds of their young employees.
It may be of interest to follow the progress along this alternative route of a group of children who may come from, say, the same village or the same city street. At five years of age, they all go to the primary school in the neighbourhood. At 11, they go on to various secondary schools. At this stage, a growing number of the grammar school children—I am confident that the number will grow—and a few from the secondary technical and secondary modern schools will be lucky enough to climb on to the university ladder, where they will be 600 joined by the ablest children from the independent schools. All the other children from the maintained and independent schools, who are not on the university ladder, will not now be debarred from a chance of rising to the top ranks of industry or of gaining any of the other prizes in life, because it will be open to all of them to follow the alternative route as far as they wish.
§ Sir D. Eccles
This route is through further education in technical institutions, and it is necessary to distinguish two kinds of technical college. The most numerous will be the purely local colleges which offer day release and evening courses and full-time courses leading to such awards as the Ordinary National Certificate and Diploma. These colleges will be fully local in the sense that in time we hope to see every education authority, in co-operation with local industry, offering its young people a satisfactory choice of courses of that kind, which will help them to be proficient in their work.
Beyond this stage, we come to the advanced courses, of which the hon. Member for Edmonton spoke, which should qualify a student for an award in technology up to university standard. It is quite outside the bounds of our resources to offer advanced courses of this standard in all colleges. The scarcity of teachers, the need for hostel accommodation, and the very heavy cost of building, equipping and running colleges which can give these courses, make it essential to build up the colleges where they are given at strategic points in conformity with the needs of industry.
For example, the General Electric Company is asking us to build up courses for their employees at Birmingham. Of course, the General Electric Company has factories at other places than Birmingham, and naturally wishes to give students from their other factories the same opportunities. That is the only way in which we can meet their needs. The hon. Gentleman spoke about British Railways, and we are at this moment negotiating with British Railways about a course to suit them at Derby. I could repeat these examples many times. As far as possible, the local technical colleges will bring the education to the 601 students, whereas the advanced colleges will find that most of their students will travel to the education.
The colleges doing this advanced work will be managed by the local authority for the area, or by a joint committee of a number of authorities. In either case, the college will serve the region and will be the centre of a group of local technical colleges from which it will draw some of the students for the advanced courses.
It has long been clear to the teachers in technical colleges—and I understand they have been presenting this view to my Department for years, as well as to many leaders of industry—that the sandwich course is the most promising line of development at the top of this alternative route. Evening courses and day release courses serve well for the training of technicians, but obviously they are not sufficient for the advanced training of the technologist. Boys leaving school at 18 with the A level G.C.E., together with those who have left school earlier but kept up their studies full-time or part-time at a technical college, can be recruited as student apprentices for sandwich courses of four or five years. As the Member for Edmonton told us, these student apprentices will spend alternately six months in a college and six months in the company's works. I am confident, having talked with a large number of leaders of industry, that we can develop this kind of education as a peculiarly British compromise between earning and learning.
All these schemes have to be worked out in the very closest collaboration with industrial firms. That is a compelling reason why they have to be sited, not on what I might call local authority criteria, but where industry wants them to be. There has to be some free trade in students between authorities, when we come to advanced work.
Of course, no two schemes will be the same. Each will be tailored to suit the requirements of the particular industry. When we are going in for a course of four or five years, the course gives time enough to plan the studies on a broad basis. I fully expect that the content of, say, the mathematics, science and engineering subjects will not differ strikingly from that of a university syllabus. The students will have time for basic 602 studies in science and related technologies, and a measure of liberal education.
There is a gap in our existing arrangements which has to be filled if we are to construct this alternative route, and that is: what award should the students of advanced courses aim to win? The House will see that it is quite clear that no existing award will suit, because each course differs from the other and the standards have to be equal to a university degree. Therefore, I have accepted the recommendation of the National Advisory Council for Education for Industry and Commerce, which deliberated long under its very able chairman, Sir Ronald Weeks, that we should institute a new award.
We have been very fortunate in securing the services of Lord Hives, the chairman of Rolls-Royce, as chairman of this new award-making Council. The job of this body will be to approve the syllabuses, the conditions of teaching, the qualifications of the teachers, and the examinations to be held in these regional colleges, as well as the grant of the national award to students who satisfy the examiners.
I must stress that this Council will be autonomous. It is not going to be the Ministry of Education which decides what courses are up to the appropriate standard for the award to be given to the sandwich-course students. The Council will be the deciding body. The distinguished name of its first chairman is a guarantee that the Council will set its sights high. We can rely upon the professional men who will be invited to serve on the Council and on the Boards of Studies to support Lord Hives in maintaining the standard of the awards.
In other words, what hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite wanted to do, which was, as I understand it, to select two, three or four colleges and promote them, as it were, to the status of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—
§ Sir D. Eccles
I am sorry, some kind of university status—can in time be achieved by this method. Since we have to deal with a wide distribution of colleges existing already—and local authorities take great pride in these colleges—the best position we can take up is halfway between the view of those who wish 603 us to select four or five straight away now, and the view of those local authorities who would like there to be no free trade in students at all.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)
The right hon. Gentleman said that in making arrangements for this award he had had discussions with industry. I wonder if he will speak about the differences of opinion which I understand exist on this matter between his Department and representatives of the engineering institutions, such as the mechanical, electrical and civil engineers. Is it not of the first importance to secure the co-operation of these bodies?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I hope that we shall secure their co-operation. We must remember that this argument has gone on for more than three years and has done much damage to British industry. It is time we made a firm start in one direction. My conversations with the professional bodies mentioned show that they may have been under a misapprehension. Perhaps it has very largely been my fault. I do not think they understood how completely free the Council will be to set high standards and to see that they are maintained. I will read out some of the duties of the Boards of Studies. They will include the supervision of:Curricula and syllabuses of courses proposed by the technical colleges for the award, and in particular the standard of college work in pure science and in the technologies related to the courses for which approval is sought.They have a free hand.
§ Sir D. Eccles
Yes, they will, and I hope that that will happen. I hope that the regional colleges will, as the hon. Gentleman says, divest themselves of the lower-grade work, which will be taken up by the group of local technical colleges which will serve as satellites, one might say, around the regional college.
§ Mr. Palmer
There is the question of the independence or partial independence of local authorities, in that they should make their own awards in their own way. Engineering institutions are very much concerned about this point.
§ Sir D. Eccles
It may be that there is a definite difference of opinion. Perhaps 604 it is correct that the institutions do not wish the local authorities to have anything to do with the advanced colleges. They think they ought to be managed like universities. I am afraid I do not take that view. Our great cities have built up a fine tradition with their technical colleges. It is a very good thing to have that local admixture in the management of the colleges. The academic standards will be in the hands of the award-making body and, if they do not think that the standards are high enough, they will not allow a particular course to qualify.
I think that this is a peculiarly British compromise and one in which I certainly do not see the end of the road. It would be very foolish at this stage of the scientific revolution unfolding so rapidly for anyone to say, "I know exactly what the blue-print of progress ought to be—we will go for it and achieve it in 25 years." Here is a fast-growing service, and all I seek to do is to give to the properly qualified people the resources to go ahead. I think that we will be satisfied with the results.
If I may look again at the local technical colleges, I think one finds that here, too, the co-operation of industry is very important. How far-sighted will our employers prove to be in releasing boys and girls for part-time and full-time courses? How enthusiastically will the trade union leaders support this expansion in further education? And will secondary school children while still at school be encouraged by industry to look forward to further education? I shall come back to that in a moment.
I should like now to answer the hon. Member's remarks about the building programme for this technical education. Since the war, a great deal of excellent work has been done in building technical colleges. If my predecessors have kept it rather dark, I am inclined to think that the reason is that the demands of industry and the proposals put forward by local authorities were so much greater than the good work they actually did that they were inclined to say not very much about it.
None the less, £20 million has been spent and building work to the value of £15 million is in progress. In 1954, projects to the value of £4½ million were authorised; in 1955, £7 million, and in 1956, £9 million, as at present planned. 605 This is a very strong expansion—there is no slowing down, as, I think, the hon. Gentleman suggested—but I would agree that it is not enough. As I said, we intend during the Recess to discuss all our plans for technical education.
We shall certainly not be able to secure the teachers for these new colleges unless industry also helps—
§ Sir D. Eccles
The sum of £7½ million is for the 1955–56 programme. At the moment I am authorising £9 million for 1956–57. As I say, all these things are being discussed and I could not give an assurance of any more than £9 million at the present time.
I was speaking of the teachers. Of course, we have a great shortage, and until we have larger numbers of students we shall have difficulty in getting more teachers. Therefore, in the meantime it is of the highest importance that industrial managements should help out by loaning us part-time teachers from their own staffs. That is another very good reason for bringing industrial managements right in at the planning stage, because then they feel sure that they are getting what they want and are ready to help us out.
I come to the supply of students—and here I should like to go back to what I said at the beginning. The essential thing is to stir the imagination of boys and girls while they are at school. I hope very much to see teachers, parents, youth employment officers and employers getting together to think how they can interest the children in the world in which they will soon be earning their living. Fortunately, the secondary school roll is about to increase, and fortunately the proportion of boys and girls on the secondary school roll who stay on after 15 years of age is also increasing.
I have had a very valuable Report from the Central Advisory Council on Early Leaving and I am discussing its recommendations with local authorities. We have already agreed to continue family allowances for school children after the age of 16. That will help, but we cannot offer maintenance allowances anything like equal to the money which young people can earn in industry today. 606 In any case, I doubt whether staying on is primarily a question of cash allowances. In general, it seems to me that the most persuasive argument will be the estimate which is currently held by the parents and the children of the value of a little extra education. That is the public relations job which, I venture to say, we all have to do. Of course, the estimate which the parent or the child forms will be influenced by the provision, or lack of provision, in the schools of courses which attract boys and girls by their evident connection with the careers which the children hope to follow.
I am thinking especially of our secondary modern schools. If we want a growing number of students at the technical colleges, the secondary modern schools must regard themselves as a major source of supply and must develop courses for their older children which will rouse their interest in further education. Only in that way will the alternative route be broad enough. The hon. Gentleman said it was a pity that there were not more secondary technical schools. Personally, I think that it is better to encourage what are described in the educational jargon, I think, as bilateral secondary modern-technical schools; that is, to spread technical courses across the top of the secondary moderns.
§ Sir D. Eccles
All kinds of experiments which will help in broadening this route.
I should warn the House that this development—this strengthening and expansion of the top of our secondary schools—will mean that very many old schools will have to be enlarged and equipped as well as new schools built. That, again, demands a great deal of money.
In my view, the test of any stage on this alternative route through the technical colleges will be the number of boys and girls who are both able and willing to go on to the next step, and hon. Members may well think that the most critical junction on the route is where compulsory education ends and voluntary education begins. The age of 15 to 16, which the hon. Member for Edmonton mentioned is, of course, a very serious source of wastage. So much will depend on the proportion of boys and girls who do not, on reaching their last term at school, 607 shut their books with a bang and say, "That is the end of learning for me," but who are already interested in going on to some form of further education in a technical college.
I am much struck by the rapid progress which secondary schools are making, and especially by the way in which some of the new secondary modern schools have struck out on their own line and are interesting their pupils in the last years at school. It is quite natural that these modern schools show an immense variety in their work, because the range of the ability of their pupils is so extraordinarily large. The way in which the teachers deal with children whose abilities really cover almost everything one can think of is most remarkable. Of course, the local circumstances of these secondary schools also differ enormously one from the other. One may be in the countryside and another in the city; one may be near a very strong industry and local employment while another has no very obvious local employment.
It is, therefore, to be expected—and, indeed, to be hoped—that these secondary schools will develop their own character. That is one of the fundamental reasons why I do not want to see a new examination imposed on secondary modern schools at this time when they are growing so fast and in such different directions. I fear that the uniform pattern, imposed through such an examination, might cramp the individual growth of the school. I should like to see the adults in the neighbourhood—teachers, employers and parents—getting together and regarding their secondary school as a place where a real contribution can be made towards meeting the peculiar needs of their neighbourhood. Where that is happening, most remarkable results are coming about. I think we may say that industry has now come to the conclusion that full employment is with us for good and, therefore, it really is paying attention to the quality of the boys and girls coming out of the schools. That is a very welcome development.
I have one further point to make, and I am sorry to detain the House so long. I said earlier that we ought not to try to get more scientists and technicians on the cheap. I am sure that is true of all stages of the alternative route. It is very 608 much the fashion now to concentrate on technical education and talk as though all we really need is more science teachers and more mathematics teachers. But the fact is that the arts and the humanities are just as necessary as ever they were to boys and girls whether they are going to be scientists or not. Far from subscribing to the view that teachers of the arts, history and languages are less wanted than teachers of science and mathematics, I think the nation has to make equal progress in science and in the arts if we are to remain civilised and contribute to the right use of the new power which men are gaining over nature.
In conclusion, I would say to the House that we cannot stop the scientific revolution; we cannot choose to live like our grandfathers without wireless, without aircraft or without fissile material. The tide of discovery will carry us on, and events and pressures will force out of the education system more and more scientists and technicians. The very fact that we are having this debate is a proof of those pressures.
But we have to remember that it is at least equally important that men should learn to behave well. That has always been a very much more difficult task to achieve, and it is especially so now when there is no force behind the arts, or even behind religion itself, to compare with the irresistible curiosity of the scientists and the power and drive of modern industry. The tide is flowing so strongly in the direction of material prosperity that if we want to cultivate the things of the spirit, we shall have to make an altogether greater effort of will.
I agree with the hon. Member, who put his case so well, that there is a grave shortage of scientists and technicians and that we must do all we can do overcome it. I hope the hon. Gentleman will also agree with me that there is a grave shortage of artists, humanists and men who put spiritual values first, and that our education service must accept the double challenge or fail in its duty. The time has come when we can, if we will, make a very notable advance both in science and in the arts, and this afternoon I am asking the House to support us on both fronts.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
The Minister has covered a wide field and has given us certain hope that we may 609 get a rather different emphasis in elementary education in the near future. I believe that the present emphasis, with the 11-plus examination, is tending to create almost a snob value for what afterwards turn out to be classical studies and sciences at the expense of technology. Once one begins the educational process in that atmosphere, one has very great difficulty in convincing parents of the need for their youngsters afterwards to become scientists and technologists. We shall study the Minister's speech with great care in the hope that it means that something is to be done in that direction.
I believe it is no exaggeration to describe the pressure for a greater supply of scientific and technological labour as a problem of the actual survival of this nation. We talk very glibly of the coming of the age of automation. It may well be that the speed of our advance in what one might now call the more conventional mechanisation is threatened by the existing shortages of scientific labour.
One reads with some apprehension that even now our machine tool industry is unable to cope with the orders for conventional machinery and that each six-monthly or yearly period which passes finds a bigger backlog. At the end of April the total order book was worth £88 million, compared with £81 million at the end of last year and £70 million at the end of April, 1954.
If that is to be the practical reality of our position, a lot of our talk about automation and our ability radically to transform the outlook of our manufacturing industries will depend on our ability to import dollar machinery, and the Chancellor may then have something to say about a balance of payments problem which will be out of relation to even the present difficulties.
I was glad to hear the Minister say that the second industrial revolution into which we are passing is not merely something for a small number of technicians to discuss in an abstract way but something which will ultimately depend upon the attitude which the employers, the trade unions and people of that type adopt towards it. If that is so, I think we have a lot of work to do in explaining to industrial workers and their trade union leaders that great changes in industry will not necessarily be accompanied by massive unemployment.
610 I am glad the Minister made the point. Whereas in the last 50 years mechanisation has tended to replace one type of labour by another—namely, it has replaced skilled labour by semi-skilled or unskilled labour—the next industrial revolution, or automation, has as its objective the displacement of the productive worker and putting no other in his place. It will, therefore, be necessary to stress that great automatic factories cannot possibly function without a huge increase in skilled personnel behind the processes.
Those of us who have been in the engineering industry for many years were greatly impressed when we saw, for instance, the way in which the Merlin engine was produced by mass production methods by 60–70 per cent. female and diluted labour during the war. It caused us to think a lot about what the future could contain. It is most necessary to try to bring trade unions and employers with us in understanding that the basis of the future must be a large expansion of the skill components in industry at the expense of the purely machine-minder—the productive sections—as they now are.
I believe the right hon. Gentleman was right today in stressing the need not only the Government and Opposition but the people of the country to realise that we are going into a new industrial revolution. If we fail to get over that hurdle, we shall never again be a first-rate industrial nation; we shall always be condemned to a third-rate standard of life. Only by expanding the right industries, by making sure that we can command the type of imports necessary for the expansion of those types of industry—I am afraid the Government have not made a very good start on that—only by being able to be selective in these things, can we compete in the world in which we are now living. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on setting up a committee to present awards for technical students. I think that is long overdue, but I do not think that of itself it is the end of the story.
I was reading an article in the "Manchester Guardian" on Saturday, and I commend it to the House. Speaking of this matter, the article said:This cannot be the final answer to the whole problem of technical education, but it will have certain beneficial effects. … It will 611 become easier, for example, to induce apprentices in industry to attend technical colleges either in their spare time or for longer periods as they can do under the schemes for 'sandwich courses.' At present many young men are unwilling to do this because the result of their efforts is a certificate or a diploma which—however great its real worth may be—is often a poor thing in comparison with a university degree.I think that position still obtains. I hope that this committee and the right hon. Gentleman in particular will realise the need to get rid of the mentality, so rightly represented in that statement in the "Manchester Guardian," and consider making the award the equivalent of a university degree in the arts and sciences as we know it in an orthodox way. That has not been done, and it is one of the great needs which awaits satisfaction.
In the same article the newspaper talked aboutthe common belief that the study of technology is an unworthy, almost dirty, occupation.That is something which has to be lived down; it is something we have to set about if we are to get the results we desire in increasing numbers of young people going in for technological and scientific studies. It is a most surprising thing that here, in the very home of the initial industrial revolution, that sort of mentality should obtain. Even when we are trying to usher in what is in fact the second industrial revolution, we still have a sort of inferiority complex about studies of technology. If we look at the United States and at the way in which great industries there have been harnessed, as it were, with the study of technology and science, we see how it is reflected in a far greater percentage of students who afterwards go into industry.
Probably some advance has been made here. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Answer to a Question I asked last Tuesday. I asked for the numbers of scientists and technologists now being produced, and the answer showed that there are about 17,000 who are reading science and technology in technical colleges. That number included 5,500 university degrees in pure science and mathematics. I asked for the percentages of those going into the teaching profession or industry. I think the answer meant that 20 per cent. are going into 612 neither. Until we can get a closer correlation between industry and colleges of technology, we shall still have too big a wastage of people who, after having taken their degree, do not use it either in teaching or in industry.
It must be kept in mind that this industrial revolution will not be so gradual as the last. We have not got half a century in which to adapt our thinking to the new conditions. Competition which was non-existent, or practically nonexistent, 100 years ago will now be more intense than ever in our history. In this respect, I wonder whether we can afford to leave this problem merely at the training of young people. Statistics show that it will not be possible to increase industrial personnel for a long time ahead. That has been determined by the birthrate. Millions of our people between the ages of, say, 25 and 40 believe that their educational life has finished. They are products of the education of 20 years ago. Can we really believe that a large section of our people between those ages working in engineering can bring about the radical changes we desire if they are left at their present educational level?
I should have thought it absolutely essential that some type of educational system should be invoked which would give them the opportunity in a more limited degree and in a way more connected with their actual work in industry to go back, maybe by sandwich courses, to get at least some insight into the new developments which have taken place since they left school or technical college. On one occasion when we discussed this issue before, I tried to point out that I felt the trade unions had a big responsibility in this respect. I shall not repeat all I said then. I know that most of them have weekend and summer schools where they discuss issues connected with their industries. Merely to do that is not sufficient. They should then skim off those willing to take their studies further. They should provide education, or the possibilites of education, in subjects peculiar to their industries.
That would presuppose that something would be done to ensure that their families would be looked after while they were away from their normal work. The Government, the trade unions, or both, should be responsible for sponsoring 613 some type of financial assistance which could permit men of that type to leave industry for six months, 12 months, or two years in order to make up the backlog resulting from the fact that they did not have an opportunity of learning before they were forced to go into industry years ago at 14 years of age.
The country cannot effect this great revolution unless something is done to try to bring that sort of education to those who have passed school-leaving age. It may well be also that management itself must in some degree return to school. I do not want to put too fine a point on it, but one knows of factories and industries in which managements are nothing like as advanced in their thinking as they should be under modern conditions. Trade union leaders have tried to instil a different mentality into management in certain industries but have had to give up the task in disgust. That kind of thing simply will not do. The bigger firms should make quite certain not only that those in managerial positions have the opportunity of refresher courses, but that their continued occupancy of their positions depends upon taking advantage of those courses.
Many of the larger firms are playing a big part in making more technical education possible. During the past week, I was very pleased to learn that a firm with which I once had some connection —Metro-Vick—has offered to equip the advanced technology laboratory, the general electrical laboratory and the general machine laboratory at Salford Royal Technical College and that a firm like A. V. Roe has offered to provide a wind tunnel and to equip the new aeronautical laboratory at the same technical college. That is very good. I should like to feel that more firms would follow the lead of these very enterprising concerns. They would help us all and would make it possible for more people to derive the benefit of that type of expenditure.
I should like to ask the Financial Secretary what effort the Government are making to assemble and correlate data on the advances which British industry is now making on automatic techniques. I notice from Bulletin No. 16 on O.E.E.C., issued by the Treasury on 14th July, this point has been discussed at the O.E.E.C. The Bulletin states: 614During the next three months O.E.E.C. countries will report on the conditions connected with automatic techniques in their industries and on the prospects associated with these techniques.This enquiry follows an investigation made by a group of European technicians, sociologists and trades unionists and under the auspices of the European Productivity Agency, of the use of automatic production control processes and of the progress made in the development of electric computors for such processes.On the basis of the information received from the countries' reports the group will arrange an international symposium to discuss the technical, economic and social problems raised by 'automation'.That is very good. Incidentally, if the Government can promise a report of that kind for O.E.E.C., we should be hearing more about it in this House.
I take it that that report is the one which only the other day the Board of Trade said it hoped to produce in the autumn. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, on 19th July, said that the Government were very interestedin the greater use of automatic processes in industry. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research is at present carrying out a study to discover the extent to which automatic processes have been and are likely to be introduced in industry. It is hoped that an interim report will be published in the autumn."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 19th July, 1955; Vol. 544, c. 30.]The Bulletin on O.E.E.C. points out that the investigation has been conducted by a group of people on the Continent, including technicians, sociologists and trade unionists. If that is so, what is being done in this country to bring a similar group into being? I am a great admirer of the D.S.I.R. It has done an enormous job of work, and the Government were very remiss in economising at its expense in 1952, but if it is shown that on the Continent great benefits are accruing from a combination of the types of people I have mentioned, including the trade unions, I should like to know what is being done in Britain to bring about a similar situation. It is fairly certain that the T.U.C. General Council would be happy to assist the Government in that kind of work and I should be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, if he can say that advances have been made in Britain to establish, as it were, the opposite number of the committee which is functioning on the Continent.
615 I turn to another matter which is also a serious issue and which I raised in a Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Tuesday. I tried to point out, as well as one can by means of a Question, that the world's manufacturing capacity will increase enormously as a result of modern automatic processes. We already know that during the last 20 years the vast increase in manufacturing capacity which has taken place in so many countries has not been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the availability of raw materials for those industries.
I put it to the Chancellor that if we are now to depend upon imports of raw material from the dollar area, at a time when the dollar bloc itself is leading the world in automation, we will find either that the price goes sky-high or that the dollar area will refuse even to export some of the raw materials that it possesses. In his Answer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told me of some of the raw materials that we import from the dollar area. They include aluminium, nickel, molybdenum, sulphur, synthetic rubber and manila hemp. We know how vital is the importation of molybdenum, nickel and aluminium after the expansion of our own engineering industry. If we are merely to jog along at our present level in the training and production of geologists and technologists, quite candidly we will be left in a most difficult situation, as those supplies which we now obtain from the dollar area will be used to a greater degree than ever as automation takes place in the North American Continent.
What are we doing, then, to produce more geologists, technologists, and so on? I do not want to repeat what my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) said on the rather disappointing results of the last two or three years. I know that, following the Barlow Committee Report, we doubled the production of technologists up to 1948. I believe that we have since tended to tail off. Unless we appreciate the great need for geological surveys, both in Britain and in the great Dominions and Colonies, so that we can discover the presence of raw materials, and unless we get more technologists and scientists to assist in the extraction of those raw materials, it is no use imagining that we will vastly increase our production; for even if we can get 616 the machinery to do it, we will never get the raw materials to put in those machines. Therefore, we face something of a crisis.
I do not want to quote figures as to the number of technologists that this country has made available to the Colonies—at the moment, the figures are quite disgraceful; but I hope that now we have this additional spur of the fear of a raw materials famine outside the dollar areas, the Government will press ahead at a far greater pace with the provision of scientists and technologists in the next few years.
The Barlow Committee did a good job in its Report. Although the Barlow Committee considered its figures to be adequate, it has been found that they were nothing like ample to meet the difficulties that we now encounter. Instead of trying merely to increase the numbers of people trained in our technical colleges, we should set ourselves a target and deliberately aim at it. The target set by the Barlow Committee has proved to be quite insufficient for our needs.
I hope, therefore, that the Government will consider approaching the T.U.C. to assist in the way I have indicated, that they will appreciate the need for adult education for those now working in industry, that they will make it possible financially for such schemes as I have mentioned to be introduced, and that they will appreciate the need for a far greater effort in the production of technologists and the like, for the physical means in the way of machinery, and so on, may well be with us.
It may well be that we can provide ample skilled manpower for the job that we have in hand, but unless we can exploit the raw materials which are undoubtedly within the great Commonwealth of British Nations and make ourselves far more independent of the dollar area in this respect, we may be faced with the great paradox of having spent and done so much only to find that we cannot obtain the raw materials to achieve that doubled standard of living in the next 25 years which the Chancellor of the Exchequer predicted. I believe that the trade unions would be only too happy and willing to assist in any way in making this revolution possible. I hope that the Government will do everything possible to call them into partnership in so doing.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Tiley (Bradford, West)
I shall ask for the customary courtesy of the House whilst I make this effort to overcome the traditional hurdle of a maiden speech. Over the past few weeks I have felt that words delivered in this Chamber are really not speeches at all until we read the OFFICIAL REPORT next morning, and that we merely chat to each other across the Floor. Some chats are long and others are longer, but I shall endeavour to be brief.
I have, the honour to be the first Member of Parliament for the new division of Bradford, West. I was born, baptised, confirmed, educated and married in the division. I live in it and my business is in it, and there is a very good cemetery in it too. I hope that the brevity of that autobiography will gladden your heart, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The Boundaries Commission, by its operations in Bradford, removed entirely the division of Bradford. Central, for which the right hon. Maurice Webb sat for nearly ten years. As a Bradfordian it would ill become me not to pay tribute on behalf of the City of Bradford to the services which he performed during that period. I know that both sides of the House will join with me in wishing him a restoration of health.
Any Minister and any member of a Government who sat and listened to the brilliant speech of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), when he was building up the case for the enormous need for scientists, technologists and technicians, and who was not facing that problem, would, to say the least, have crept out humiliated while the argument was being put forward. But I am convinced that the present Government and the present Ministers are facing the major problems of the peace which we hope to achieve following the Geneva Conference, and that they are aware of the value of that peace if only this problem is tackled.
I am sure that our Ministers are facing the problem with drive, resolution and imagination. I enjoyed hearing an important thought expressed from the Opposition benches during the speech of the hon. Member for Edmonton. It was that surely none of us can worry about unemployment being a dreadful scourge in our country for the next century, because if this job is tackled properly there will be permanent need on all sides 618 of industry and in our teaching professions for more and more men and women.
In our 'teens, particularly in the industrial towns, we used to wonder who, in later years, when everybody had matriculated, would get the dirty jobs done. But the hon. Member for Edmonton has shown us that science and technology are removing these jobs from our lives. The chimney sweep presses a button to sweep the chimney, and that awful job of tarring the roads is being done by machinery. This is important. It brings together the white-collar brigade and the toilers and sweaters into ever-increasing proximity, and that is surely what we want to see. The division of labour is disappearing. We can achieve what we want to achieve for future generations only by the united effort of all sides of business and commerce.
Surely we are dealing here with a very happy problem—and it is a problem—of full employment. How different is the problem that confronts us now, how much happier have been recent debates in the House about manpower required in trade, industry and the professions, how much happier is the problem than that of twenty or thirty years ago, when the House was trying to deal with the sadness, evil and scourge of unemployment.
It was encouraging to note from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education that there was a tendency for the numbers in the upper forms in our schools to increase, because, over the last few years, educationists, headmasters and members of education committees have been perturbed about the number of pupils with first-class brains who were leaving school at the age of 16. It was not surprising to find them leaving, for the rewards in the ordinary jobs in our towns are so great.
Some time ago I was interviewing typists, for an ordinary typing job, not one of those fantastic £16 a day jobs about which we have read this week. I saw that one of the typists had a sheet of paper in her possession. It was divided into four columns. In the first, there were four appointments listed. She was already in a job and was spending the afternoon—interviewing bosses. She had the names of four firms in one column, wages offered in another, hours of work in another, and holiday periods 619 in the last. Girls no longer take a day off to look round the shops. They take a day off to look round jobs and have a look at the bosses. I do not blame them in the slightest.
I remember, as a boy in Bradford seeking a job, that one wrote fifty or sixty letters. Swollen-headed with the binomial theorem and the theorem of Pythagoras, one knew that one could have gone to any firm, redeemed it from loss so that it could make a profit; but nobody wanted one's services. There were no vacancies. It is a much happier thing that we are doing today in discussing the problem of full employment.
I should like to make some suggestions which might be followed up by Ministers. We know that our industrialists are always willing to co-operate and that we shall obtain their co-operation in lending their staffs, because teachers are in short supply and it is in the future interest of industry to build up staffs of technologists and scientists. I wonder whether, in addition to sparing their staffs for teaching in a part-time capacity, industry could help some of the better-class schools in equipping laboratories. There is no more attractive way of enticing a young student towards physics and science generally than having all the expensive equipment which is needed to make the laboratories of our grammar schools look as if they belonged to the 1955 era and not to a period of 50 years ago.
In all our towns, as is the case in Bradford, some of the best grammar schools have come from the generous gifts of the people—not just one class of people but rich and poor alike. I feel it is going to be such a long time before major developments and changes in education can take place that we should influence our industrial companies to provide equipment in these laboratories, and then we would get the proper psychological approach to the problem.
I remember that in only one school in Bradford was there a swimming bath when I was attending school, and that was the one to which I went. I always won the prizes in the town swimming competitions because the facilities were there, and that in turn aroused the interest. There is no greater incentive and no better means of increasing interest 620 in science and technology than for our young people to see this equipment. I am sure that if we had more of it we could get more of our young people devoting themselves to those subjects. I would not mind if the increased dividends which are being paid were reduced a little to pay for this equipment, because then we should find that industry would be doing something to help to increase production and decrease the tendency towards inflation.
The most important point which I wish to raise, however, concerns the technical college which we have in Bradford. I do not intend to make a personal or local speech, because I realise there are other cities which possess such colleges. In our own city, I am glad to say that this is not a party issue by any means. Indeed, for ten years my colleagues in this House, the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock), the hon. Member for Bradford, East (Mr. McLeavy) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. W. J. Taylor) have been negotiating with the authorities for the upgrading of this technical college. I know they wish to be associated with me in my remarks on this subject, my only difficulty being that if any of them did so they would put the case with more clarity and more persuasiveness.
This is a technical college which is not new. It is, in fact, honoured with age. It was built in 1882. It is no small place. Only a year or two ago £200,000 was spent on an extension scheme. It has a fine staff, with excellent qualifications. There are 500 whole-time students and over 5,000 part-time students. Its examination results are beyond question. The full training is given in it right up to degree level, but the degree is awarded by London University. It therefore becomes a half-way house, and if the record is there—and the excellence of the past can be judged—then surely some change can be made to upgrade it to university status. That would give it its full value to the town and nation.
There is one more thing I want to say. We are concerned mostly with science and engineering today, but there are other important industrial arts, and I understand that the definition of technology is the science of the industrial arts. Universities will not grant or award degrees for the study of textiles or 621 of dyeing. No matter what changes the atomic age brings, it will be unpleasant if, when we leave our homes for business each morning, we press a switch and find ourselves covered with a plastic material. We are always going to need wool textiles, and in this technical college in Bradford there is the essential training in the study of textiles and dyeing.
We are also dealing with textiles, which affect the lives, not of just one town, but of millions of people. We have in Bradford and district whole-time employment, but we are facing intensive competition from abroad. How are we going to keep Bradford as the centre of the world's wool textile trade? We shall be faced with fiercer competition, because the standard of life in some other lands is not up to ours and our competitors have Government subsidies. We shall meet this competition only by utilising to the full the science, the art, the brains and the energies of the Bradford youths of the future. It is right that here, in this technical college, due regard is paid to those studies on which depend the prosperity of hundreds of thousands of people.
This morning I received a letter from the Principal of the Bradford Technical College. It is not a coincidence that I should receive it today, because I had phoned him yesterday. He sent to me a letter from yesterday's issue of "The Times" on the subject we are discussing today. Here is an extract from it:In the view of our Councils it would be necessary at the outset to concentrate our national resources within a small number of colleges of technology chosen on the basis of the comprehensiveness of their scientific and technological facilities and potentialities.That is signed by a man named Eccles, a very important name in today's debate, but this Eccles is the President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. The letter is also signed by the President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
I will not read out any more of the letter, but I will read out the heading, which is,Making Best Use of Resources.That is what I hope the Ministers who are in charge of this huge task of building up the scientific and technological skills of our nation will do, so that we may take advantage of all that the future will 622 bring in the shape of increasing prosperity for our people. But whilst mammoth changes are being contemplated and carried out, I hope the Ministers will take what is there now and build it up into something greater still.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity of speaking, and hon. Members for their tolerance.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I am glad to have had the opportunity of listening to an extremely engaging maiden speech, and I should like to offer to the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) my congratulations and those, I am sure, of everyone else who has heard him successfully take this first critical and dramatic step. He followed the best traditions of a maiden speech. He was non-controversial and he selected for his theme some of the major basic ideas on which he could speak non-controversially and yet with substance and sincerity. Evidently he has begun to observe some of our ways. He has grasped that speaking here is not orating but talking in a "chatty" way, and quite obviously he has noticed that a touch of humour in a speech does not do any harm. Even those who come from north of the Border manage to appreciate it.
The hon. Member comes from a city, he represents a city, and I understand he expects to be buried in the city of which much has been heard in the House. I am sure that all of us, on both sides of the House, appreciate his reference to Mr. Maurice Webb. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be frequently heard in our debates, and I hope also that, following his wise first choice of a subject matter, he will be heard frequently on this particularly complex and difficult subject with which we are dealing today.
The debate began with two remarkable opening speeches. Before listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), I had not realised quite how critical the shortage of manpower, trained and educated scientifically and technically, was likely to be. Of course I had realised that it was serious, but he certainly stepped up the seriousness of it in my mind. Naturally, the Minister of Education spoke mainly about the methods for overcoming the shortage of 623 manpower, and while I had hoped that the Ministry would take fairly vigorous, and perhaps even dramatic steps forward, I had not quite expected the extensive suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman put before us.
It may be, of course, that my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton was over-emphasising our difficulties, and it generally happens that Ministers are a little more optimistic about their own plans than the future justifies; so possibly the estimates of both speakers will be modified slightly by events. There is no doubt, however, that they put before us clearly and dramatically the main issues with which we are concerned in this debate. Those issues are serious, difficult and complex. The question of supply as against demand is one we can talk about, and which the Minister did talk about, in terms of revolution, just as my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) talked about the demand side.
Naturally in such a situation there are large numbers of people, not only in the educational world but elsewhere, who are inclined to be slightly afraid of the nature of the revolution that is likely to come about. Yet we have had revolutions in education before. There was a major change of a corresponding magnitude towards the end of last century when we began to teach nearly everyone to read and write. The basis of that revolution was that reading and writing was becoming more widely necessary, just as technical knowledge is becoming more and more necessary for a large number of people.
Those who suspect the vocational interest at the back of the educational revolution, which I think we are in for, might even be reminded that back in the days when we first started teaching Latin, its chief interest was actually vocational. So those of us who have a mainly humane background, and have been brought up in the old tradition of education in this country, are wrong in feeling doubt about going along with this educational revolution.
After all, the number of people who perform tasks which are essentially technical and technological today represent a high proportion of our neighbours, friends, relatives and fellow human 624 beings all over the world, from the man who mends our car to the man who builds a road across a section of Africa. It would be wrong to assume that the type of man who does not do that, but who reads, and listens to music, and perhaps even writes poetry, is in some way more educated than the other and that he is somehow more in contact with the essentials of human life than the latter. The technical jobs are essential human jobs, and most hon. Members will recall the Latin tag about not putting away from one anything which is human.
The problem is largely how to overcome a certain division that exists already, and that was one of the reasons why I appreciated so much of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not think that we can cure the misbalance of a purely technical education by merely adding subjects here and there, by merely extending the range of subject matter. However, it can be made properly balanced partly by the range of subject matter, partly by the kind of teaching, partly by the aim of the teaching.
I liked the phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman in a Press conference a few weeks ago, when he spoke about the possibility of establishing "Science Greats." I am talking now about the upper end of the educational range, and "Science Greats" suggests to me the discipline of hard intellectual application and, at the same time, the wider range of interests that comes from the human being viewed as a human being; not simply adding on to science a little economics, a little history and so on, but giving the study of science the interest that science is essentially connected with the actual work of modern life and the world we live in, making science a human interest not separated from the rest of our lives.
Reference has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton to a speech made by Sir Alexander Todd to the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee on scientific manpower. He fetched up in the schools, just as time and time again discussions on this subject nowadays fetch up. The Barlow Report more or less takes the schools for granted. Its discussion is on the higher ranges of education, but we have come to realise that we must get the foundations right 625 before we can assume that the higher ranges of education in this matter, or in any other, will carry on themselves.
I believe there is now basic agreement that we want more people to stay on at school after the compulsory leaving age and that we want more people from amongst those who are in school to switch over to science and technical and technological interests. These are both difficult problems, and the second is particularly bound up with what the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in what I thought were happy terms. The Minister realised that we cannot make people interested in science unless it fires the imagination. That is true, but there are certain practical problems that we must face in connection with this double set of problems in the schools.
As the report on "Early Leaving" and, just before that, an interesting report by the Association of Scientific Workers showed, a considerable increase in the numbers of those staying on at school after 15 is possible, and this would make a considerable contribution to the better work of the nation in science. The problem of getting them to stay on, however, is extremely difficult. It is bound up with allowances, although again I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we cannot get young people to stay on simply by paying them allowances. We must deal with other things.
We must make the schools interesting, we must make sure the teachers, the persons who dominate and lead the school world, are attractive and friendly and have intellectual abilities enough to influence the youngsters. In fact, there has to be that wide and all-round continuing improvement in the schools which the right hon. Gentleman envisaged. The majority of those who leave school at 15, instead of staying on, are in schools under the local education committees. They are, therefore, the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman.
There is, however, this sort of difficulty. University appointments committees have been reporting during the last few years that nearly all their science graduates taking up teaching go, not to schools maintained by education authorities, but to public schools. That is not simply a social problem. We can for the moment leave aside all the social or class problems involved because we are dealing with 626 what is, in essence, from the point of view of the national interest, an economic problem. I know that in this case the raw material is not steel or iron, as in industry; it is human beings. Nevertheless we are essentially looking at the disposal and use of a scarce national asset.
It is not economically right that the drift should be towards a smaller group of schools when the biggest result, in encouraging people to stay on and in building on that, could be got through the same people going to the other type of school. That is a very small problem in extent compared with the general subject with which we are dealing, but it is the kind of problem that one has to face and about which one must try to work out policies.
I liked the reply given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education in a recent Adjournment debate. I particularly liked the fact that he stressed the importance of quality in science teachers. One of the criticisms that I would make of the right hon. Gentleman's speech today—there are not many criticisms that I have to make—is that he did not once mention quality. He talked about the numbers of teachers, and we have become accustomed to that in recent years.
Especially if one looks at the teachers of arts subjects, who, in this connection, are just as important as teachers of science and mathematics, the problem is that of the creaming off the ablest men and women from the schools. People of top-level ability are not now going to the schools in the numbers they did in the 'twenties and 'thirties. While intellectual abilities and interests are not the only qualities schools need, they are undoubtedly among the really critical qualities in school life. There must be on the school staff people of some intellectual capacity.
The problem facing us as a nation in this respect of the scientific manpower question is that of somehow or other ploughing back—to borrow a term we use about steel, iron and other material things—enough of the country's manpower resources into the schools and colleges. It is easy to allow people to drift to what we might call the consumption industries. It is extremely difficult 627 to plough them back into the schools because in the end the issue comes down to persuasion rather than argument or force.
People still tend to take the schools for granted. They feel that whatever changes occur and whatever shortages there may be, the youngsters will still go to the schools; and, though there may be changes in the quality of the staff, the youngsters will still be there learning the alphabet or French and Latin. People find it difficult to grasp that over the years the quality of a school may deteriorate very greatly and also, therefore, the quality of its products.
In the United States a little while ago, the National Manpower Commission published a report reviewing this whole problem in a very wide way. The Executive Director of the Scientific Manpower Commission, which was largely concerned with the report, said:As manpower shortages go, the worst is in high school teaching staffs.He added to that:Physics is moving out of the secondary schools, not for lack of student interest but for lack of good teachingThere is cause and effect.
I would add to that a set of figures relating the proportion of United States college graduates taking first degrees in engineering to the total taking first degrees in all subjects. In 1949–50 those taking first degrees in engineering comprised 11.1 per cent. of the total taking first degrees; in 1950–51 the figure was 9.9 per cent., in 1951–52 8.2 per cent. and in 1952–53 7.1 per cent. The source of those figures is C. D. Harris writing in the "American Journal of Engineering Education," November, 1954.
That is what is happening across the water. We tend to think of America as being ahead of us in the production of technicians and technologists, and that is true, but the Americans have a far worse crisis in the schools than we have. While I should hate to quote such statistics in this House, even about British matters, and draw firm conclusions from them, and should hate still more to draw firm conclusions from the American statistics which I have just quoted, I think those statistics at least illustrate the sort of difficulty that one can encounter if one neglects the foundations. If we allow 628 staffing to drift we are likely to find ourselves in that sort of situation.
I wish to make one or two specific points about schools, and particularly universities. It has been suggested that we may demand too much specialisation in the schools. The other day I was told of an engineering graduate just before the war who came from a well-known school and had had a very strong modern language course. He had taken French and German, and his leaving group of subjects was as heavily linguistic as it was mathematical and scientific. He obtained a first-class engineering degree. But he would have found considerable difficulty in getting a place in an engineering school today simply because he had not specialised enough, even though his languages would have been extremely valuable to him.
Beyond that, it is worth while considering just where school education should end and university education should begin. The universities are now assuming that the first year of what would traditionally have been considered university education can be done, and will be done, by the schools, and the schools are assuming that good schools can do that. However, one wonders whether that is a situation which should be prolonged and built upon or whether it should be checked a little. I do not presume to make a quick decision about it, for there is a great deal to be considered.
In a school one needs the incentive of being able to take one's boys as far ahead as one possibly can. On the other hand, there is also a need in the present situation to have some kind of stabilisation of levels. One should allow for individual variations, but there should be some stabilisation of the optimum level which a school would normally try to reach. I am not sure that in this matter either the content and method of specialisation or the level should be carried on as a habit resulting from what existed in the past.
We ought to look at the problem and try to give some guidance on it to schools and universities. There tends to grow up in both schools and universities in matters of that sort a certain amount of vested interest. Schools like to carry on as far as possible with a subject, and universities like to assume that they 629 will not have to start at the very foundations of a subject. There are vested interests in that respect, and they are not matters which need necessarily always be respected.
Another specific problem is that of the number of technical State scholarships. I believe that the total number of State scholarships awarded is 2,000 a year, but the number of technical State scholarships is only 120. I have never been able to understand why that figure should be so extremely small, and I should like to know what the justification for it is, and also whether it would not be possible greatly to increase the number. I understand that the applications normally number about 500 or 600 a year. Perhaps they are all bad applications, except for the 120, but one doubts that, and the Parliamentary Secretary might consider increasing the number of technical State scholarships given.
There has been much talk about the technical colleges and universities. I do not want to refer to the higher stages of technological education in the universities or technical colleges, but I have one or two comments to make on the stages before that. We need not only technologists but technicians and craftsmen as well. I do not think that all is well by any means in the education provided at that level. One very interesting and rather alarming report by the Glasgow Productivity Council appeared at the beginning of the year.
The Council had studied courses for craftsmen and technicians available in Glasgow. Glasgow is a city with a tremendously strong tradition of skilled crafts. It has a tradition in which craftsmanship flourishes, with a background of the shipbuilding on the Clyde and in all sorts of industry centring around the Clyde and the coal fields and metal fields of central Scotland. The Glasgow Productivity Council found that of those who enrolled annually in trade courses, 10 per cent. never attended a single class. Thirty per cent. gave up by January a course which they had begun in September or October. Only 25 per cent. enrolled for a second session, and of that 25 per cent. only 5 per cent. achieved some certificate of qualification at the end of three years.
Again, one does not want to draw general conclusions from a local report, 630 but when that is set side by side with what one has learned of other places, it is enough to suggest that there is a good deal to be done between now and the building of the alternative highway about which the Minister spoke. There am many immediate problems of considerable complexity and some urgency for him to tackle. One very sad thing that the Glasgow Productivity Council had to say about the situation was that it found that the employers were not greatly interested in encouraging their employees to improve themselves educationally; nor were the trade unions.
I am sure that the majority of the-individual members of trade unions are interested, especially in a craftsmen centre like Clydeside; and in Scotland the employers have also shown their interest. I could parallel and easily surpass what my hon. Friend the Member for Newton said about the financial contribution of employers. They have done extremely well for the Royal Technical College in Glasgow, for instance. But the problem with which we are dealing is how to get people in the lower ranges of technical ability into the higher ones. There is lack of interest. There is lack of interest by the youngsters, by the employers who employ them and by the trade unions to which they belong.
There are other difficulties of that sort in these lower levels. My impression—and it cannot be more than an extremely amateurish impression—is that our need for technicians is at least as great in proportion as our need for technologists. Indeed, I am told as a matter of more knowledgeable guesswork by technical people who speculate about these things that one effect of automation is likely to be the greatly increased proportion of technicians needed, as compared with, let us say, professional engineers. Certainly, by whatever standard of judgment is open to a layman like myself, we shall continue to need technicians in very large numbers for as long as we need professional engineers. I should like to see far more attention paid to the ranges of technical education in training craftsmen and technicians.
I want to add a word on the work that technical colleges are doing, this time at a rather high level. I hope that the Minister saw and paid attention to a 631 recent letter in "The Times" by Principal J. E. Richardson of Northampton Polytechnic, who put one point which is disturbing a great many people about the Government's plans for the Imperial College. The polytechnics have asked where the students are to come from and say that they will come from the polytechnics. The Imperial College will build up its student body and the polytechnics will lose their students. On the whole, there is not much to be gained by that. I hope that will not happen. I hope that that is a fear of which the Government are aware, and that they will make sure that a flow of students will come in such numbers that that situation will not arise. A great many people would welcome a reassurance on that, if the Government are in a position to give such a reassurance.
There is one further phrase from that letter to which I want to refer. I do not think that it was a highly controversial or inflammatory letter. Yet there was a phrase which the writer used about some of the local technical colleges when he was talking about their management and their running. He said that they were being "strangled by increasing parochialism." This is the other side of the medal of strong local interests. I believe that both sides exist. I do not suggest that strong local interests are not an extremely good thing and very often very valuable—the Royal Technical College in Glasgow is again a good example—but there is this other side. The writer may have exaggerated, but I hope that the Government will note what he said, as well as the advantages that can come from local participation in the management of these colleges.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Mr. I. J. Pitman (Bath)
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) has given a very good example of the constructive help and co-operation which Scotland can give to Britain and of the constructive co-operation which one side of the House can give to the other in matters of education. It makes one look back to the years of bloody warfare between Scotland and England and the recent debates in which we have had controversy in education; it makes one recognise how much happier it is when we are a Council of State and constructively co-operating in 632 this way. I should also like to join in the tribute paid to the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley), and we will all hope, in the words of the French Parliamentarians who speak of their constituencies as a "circumscription," that the circumscription of the plot in the cemetery in Bradford may long remain empty.
We are considering scientific manpower at a high level, and presumably there are two gold mines to which we may look. The first is the top flights of the secondary grammar school, which in due course goes through the university; the other is the secondary modern school and that residue of the secondary grammar school which is not acceptable to or, in fact, does not go to the university. As the Minister has pointed out, the first of these is the responsibility of the Treasury, in a loose sense, through the University Grants Committee, and the second gold mine is the responsibility of the Minister of Education.
I do not want to speak at any length about the first gold mine beyond saying that there is a tremendously important issue there of the weight of inertia and public opinion which tends to send the university graduate, the high flier, into the arts rather than into technology. To take my own case, I think that I could have been good enough at the sciences and the mathematics necessary for technology. Certainly I passed the school certificate with credits in the scientific subjects and the mathematical subjects, but subsequently I went over completely to the arts side.
There is the sheer weight of number of scholarships offered in the arts. There is the influence of narcissism in any educational system which has been built up upon the arts. There is a tendency to divert people who are neutral, and to confirm people who are pre-disposed, into the one channel of the arts. If the Treasury is able to do anything—and it may not be an action within its responsibility—the greatest source of improving scientific manpower would come by public relations in grammar schools and a reorientation of scholarships and of attitudes of mind, especially in the older universities, from the arts towards technology.
I have always championed in this House the humbler person, the man who misses the gateway at 11 plus and the one 633 who at, say, 15 or 16 in the grammar school recognises that he will not be acceptable to a university and misses that other gateway at 17 plus. I plead that there is a considerable amount of gold in this second gold mine, and it is very important that we should have regard for its potentiality and very fortunate that the Minister has recognised it and set himself out to mine that particular vein. I greatly welcome my right hon. Friend's decision of providing a pinnacle for the progress of such men and women, because such an end in view is essential.
As an employer, I know that employers know that from that source there is first-class gold to be obtained. They may call them nature's technologists; certainly they respect their brain power and knowledge. Educationists know that from this mine we can get really first-class intellects. We need not confine our proof to Birkbeck College and the technical colleges where they are proving it every day; there is also the record of the Air Training Corps where the most unlikely material suddenly takes an interest in trigonometry provided it is called "air navigation." I would say that in this House we have a very substantial quantity of gold which has come to the top by the alternative path and given further proof that the potentiality is there in real quality. We want to strengthen that alternative path.
I do not think that this abundance of quality from sources other than the university can be attributed to a paucity of secondary grammar school education in the past. It is still abundant even now when secondary school places are many. I know that in Bath, in the junior technical schools before the war, in a city which was well provided with secondary grammar places, there were still coming forward through the junior technical schools people who were clearly of first-class potential timbre. It is in the provision of a progressive ladder for those people who have a different attitude that the Minister is, I think, doing such a good job in the last few months. We wish to Lord Hives and his council the very best of good wishes in the very important work which they are to do in crowning with an award this second alternative path, this other ladder from the cradle to the high service of mankind in one's life work.
634 It is interesting to compare the difference between the one path and the other. The top flights of the grammar school usually go through the traditional university and take an academic and fundamental course, whereas the others take, on the whole, a practical and utilitarian course and they proceed from the particular in which they are really interested to the general in which they become interested. Again, the university is full-time education to, say, twenty-one, whereas the other is part-time to, say, twenty-nine or thirty. That is the secret of the great achievement of this type of education, that during the period of obtaining maturity from fifteen or later to thirty, the boy and girl is continuing study of the subjects that are really of practical interest.
Such young people cannot be given a job of real responsibility until they are around twenty-nine, and it is important for the world and for them that they should employ those years of relative marking time, having regard to their abilities, in continuing their study and in achieving knowledge. They do that part-time, not as the others in a three year whole time course, but either in sandwich, in day release or in evening training, over many years.
The grammar school and university students postpone remunerative employment until after the education is completed, whereas the others have to do their learning while they are earning, and they are I believe none the worse for that. Finally, the universities are residential and the others are what I should like to call domiciliary, in the sense that if they are earning they have to be within reasonable reach of where they are learning. It is bicycles and train services which determine the siting of such places of learning, except in the case of the sandwich course. Moreover, even in the case of the sandwich course it is the recruitment of part-time teachers, from the industry which determines the site. It is the fact that such teachers are in Derby and Chelmsford, which means that locomotive engineering is done in Derby and the electronics is done at Chelmsford.
It seems to me to be tremendously important that the Minister has crowned with a diploma of technology the ladder of progress for these humbler but very important young people, and that he is 635 planning the sites for such work in the light of the needs of those who study and those who teach, to study and teach in the locality in which they work by day and sleep by night.
I was particularly delighted to hear also that he is coupling his attention for the pinnacle of an award at the top with regard for building solidly at the base and in the middle. All the rungs of the ladder must be provided and must be good., I welcome his proposals for the top forms of the secondary modern school. I would also welcome such new educational approaches for those less successful in the grammar school. I would say that it is equally important for those people who have a practical turn of mind, but nevertheless have been sent to the grammar school, that they should have a type of education which is suited to their interests and aptitudes. If this is bi-lateralism I welcome it.
I would say, too, that this proposal to develop the Secondary Modern School is the right solution to the problem of the 11 plus examination. We will not solve the problem of the 11 plus examination by having more places in secondary grammar schools. To do that is only to degrade the residue that will then be in whatever school we like to call it, because it will be of considerably lower quality: and it will not really improve the grammar school either. It will put into the grammar school a lot of people who are at present excluded.
Similarly, I do not think that it will do us any good to have a better selection, even if it were possible, for the pre-determined number of people who are to be admitted to a grammar school, because we shall be transferring, in a two-way exchange, a very few people who are at the margin from the grammar to the modern and from the modern to the grammar, and I do not think we shall have met the difficulty in any way by that two-way exchange.
If we were to supply good practical courses at the top of the secondary modern school and such courses also for the less academically minded students of the secondary grammar school, and if such courses are of the right character which would really interest and develop practical-minded people, I think we should get a real solution to the very human 636 problem—that parents are bitterly disappointed when their children are reported as failing the 11 plus academic examination.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
What the hon. Gentleman has said—and I respect his views on education—would seem very attractive, but if we expand the number of grammar school places we are denigrating in some way and making inferior the secondary modern schools. Does he know that the report of the Committee on early-leavers shows that it is in those schools in which the authorities make the largest provision of grammar school places that the number of children leaving is the smallest in the country; and that where the largest number of grammar school places are provided there is a quickening of interest in the grammar school? In a town like my own, where we provide a very good number of grammar school places, the secondary modern schools are expanding beyond description.
§ Mr. Pitman
I do not think that we can judge this problem solely by the number of years past the compulsory age at which people stay on voluntarily in a secondary school. From what I have read in regard to reading ability, the standard in Wales where they have 50 per cent. of places in grammar schools is deplorably low in modern schools, and it seems to me a philosophically unassailable proposition that when we have a descending quality of people, judged by academic standards, selected for a grammar school, the higher percentage we put in and select and the smaller percentage we reject, the worst must be the standard in the residue. Reductio ad absurdum, if we were to accept 70 per cent. in a grammar school, we would have in the secondary modern school 30 per cent., all of whom are backward readers or worse.
§ Mr. Pitman
No, Sir. I am advancing the whole thesis to the exact opposite of that. I believe that the boys in the secondary modern schools have real quality in them, but they are not interested in irregular French verbs and Pythagoras taught from principles only. They are interested, I submit, in 637 Pythagoras in the junior technical schools from the applied, utilitarian angle. They want to lay out a right angle triangle for a building purpose. The Pythagoras application of 3, 4, 5 is taught them, and from that they come to the Pythagoras proof and take an interest in the principle and the general truth.
I must not take up the time of the House in an argument with the hon. Gentleman with whom I would be very happy to carry on the discussion. I should like rather to ask the Minister three questions. First, it seems to me that the future intention of London University in regard to its external degree is a most important factor. I believe that the universities would be better served by sticking to their own particular last and leaving to Lord Hives and his troops this particular technological field with its applied science approach. I should like to know from the Minister whether there is any indication of intention on the part of London University to discontinue the external degrees in this field and pass them over voluntarily to Lord Hives' Council.
My next point is that I think there will be a gap in the ladder above the top forms of the modern school which the county colleges could fill. Can the Minister give any indication when in his programme of priorities county colleges are likely to come to supplement what is to be done in the secondary modern schools?
Thirdly, I listened to what he said in regard to continuing control by local authorities, but it seems to me that in this higher technological field, as in the teacher training college work, there is very little relation between Local Authority responsibility and the education which is given. I think that there are two things at fault. The first is that the more we train these people and get them technically qualified, the more they are likely to leave the neighbourhood. I think that if any local authorities made research into the training of architects, for example, they would be shocked to find that they get their jobs as architects not in the area where they were trained but where they find employment on promotion—outside. Secondly, I would say that there is a great advantage in not relating technical education, even if we must relate primary and secondary education, to the non-inflated rent of a 638 house, because local authorities are tied up with rates, and rates are based on the restricted rent of houses. In the good old days, technical education was related to whisky. If it were now related to whisky and not to rents we would now have much more money for spending on technical education since inflation in the price of whisky would more than take care of inflation in the costs of Technical Colleges.
I suggest therefore that there are two good causes for thinking in terms, not of taking away from the local management but of taking away from the constitutional and formal control of a Local Authority with all its committees and everything of that kind. I think that we should get the same men on a governing body but with a different constitution.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)
I was glad that the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) stressed that there is unfortunately still a bias in some respects towards the arts. I have always believed that the distinction between arts and science is artificial and that boys in school—at least when I was one, if I may quote from my own experience—have to choose too soon and specialise at much too early an age.
In this House, by tradition, we call an hon. Member who has been trained at the Bar a learned man. But he may not—with respect to my learned colleagues —have any knowledge of, for example, atomic physics or the atom, which is more important than a knowledge of constitutional or Roman law. We see that in the case of international organisations as well. In the Council of Europe we speak of the committee dealing with education as the Committee on Cultural and Scientific Questions. I should have thought that scientific knowledge was a part of culture.
The same tendency is seen in U.N.E.S.C.O., and so I support the view of the hon. Member for Bath that we should in some way try to alter this dichotomy—if I may so term it. But I still want a greater emphasis—if I may use the old term—on science in the universities and a greater proportion of our resources used for this purpose in the educational field.
639 There is a change in my own University of Durham, where there has been introduced a chair for technological studies. That is also true of Edinburgh, Nottingham, and, I understand, the University of Wales, so that there is a movement forward in that direction. But I am certain that if we look at the percentage of students in our universities who are taking science, as against the old classification of arts, we shall find that they are still in a considerable minority. We have to right that if we are to develop our resources and do what the Minister said we should do, and what was stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu).
I should like to say how much we appreciated the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton. I am sorry that the House was not full when he made it and when the Minister replied. We all know the reason why there are not more hon. Members present today, but it is a pity. After the debate on coal which we had yesterday, and after the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), I think we must all agree that if we are to solve our coal problem we must, particularly in regard to fuel conservation services, develop our technical resources. The importance of technologists and technicians in the coal industry, brought out during the debate yesterday, emphasised the importance of this debate today.
We are all agreed that if we are to develop our resources and increase our productivity; if we are to compete in the markets of the world with our products, and also develop the Colonial Territories, we must certainly place greater emphasis on technical and technological education. That is now accepted on all sides. The Minister said today that we needed good public relations in this connection. If I may say this of him without being offensive, I think that he would make a very good public relations officer.
Whether what he has said today in his general approach to technical education will be followed by vigorous administrative action is something which we shall judge later. I welcome the approach of the right hon. Gentleman, but he said that his detailed policy and plan would mature in the autumn and no doubt 640 would be produced near Christmas. That is a long time from now. I hope that we shall not be disappointed. The right hon. Gentleman will be judged, not by his approach to public relations, but by whether or not the ideals which he has espoused today are fulfilled in terms of practical legislation.
I know that the Minister is faced with difficulties. A representative of the Treasury is present this afternoon, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer looms behind him. The right hon. Gentleman will have to use all his persuasive powers to convince the Chancellor that the amounts already allocated for technical education in the widest sense are still not sufficient. I hope that the Minister will produce an effective and detailed plan. After all, promises have been made, and I would refer to one.
Speaking on 26th April this year in the education debate, the Parliamentary Secretary said, when talking of the shortage of graduate teachers, that today we have 10,900 graduate teachers of science and mathematics and, to fulfil our requirements by 1960, we shall need 14,100. We accept those figures. The hon. Gentleman went on to say, however,At the present rate of increase that is not likely to occur, and it is for that reason that my right hon. Friend has taken and hopes to take further steps to accelerate the increase."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1955; Vol. 540, c. 882.]We accept that the Minister hopes to take steps and I trust that he will be successful. I hope that in the final detailed plan to be presented to this House we shall see something concrete. Hopes are important and idealism is a good thing, but we shall want to see detailed proposals.
I know that in that debate the Minister announced, for example, that for technical building we shall have an increase for this year from f4½ million to £.7½ million, and that he would like to do better. We on this side of the House will support him. We trust that he will use his influence with the Treasury to see that more resources are devoted to technical and higher technological education.
I wish to concentrate first on technical education. We all know that after the war the Percy Committee, in a Report produced in 1945, visualised a rapid expansion of the junior technical schools or 641 secondary modern schools. I have here a quotation from the Report, from paragraph 58:Arising from the transfer of Junior Technical Schools to the secondary school system of the country there is developing a new type of secondary school, the Secondary Technical School, which it is hoped will be equal in status and public estimation to the Grammar Schools. An important contribution to industry's needs should come from students from the Secondary Technical Schools who proceed to Colleges of Technology.We all expected that these new secondary technical schools would feed our technical colleges. But the fact is that the junior technical school which has become the secondary modern technical school has not developed. We have only to look at the figures—
§ Mr. Peart
I am speaking nationally. Obviously, there may be some developments, and in certain parts of the country the secondary technical school has developed considerably. However, if we look at the figures given to me in reply to a Question which I put to the Minister of Education last year, we find that they have not developed.
I asked for the distribution of children aged 11 years and over in grammar, technical and modern schools, respectively. The figures are, for secondary grammar schools, 511,000; for modern secondary schools, 1,133,488; for technical schools, 79,194. So, broadly speaking, we can see that there has been no expansion.
I must confess that I differ from many of my colleagues on this matter. I do not wish to see an expansion of the secondary technical schools. I should like to see the existing schools improved, but in the immediate circumstances I believe that there should be a concentration on the provision of technical courses in the secondary modern school, and I was glad that that was stressed by the Minister. I also want a similar process in the grammar school, so that we shall have a technical bias creeping into the secondary modern school system and also into the grammar school.
One of the difficulties, as we know from the reports of various committees—not in our new secondary modern schools but in our older schools and in our grammar schools—is that for this purpose there 642 are not enough laboratory facilities and workshops. I welcome the new link with industry which is being created by the Minister. I am certain that industry can quite easily contribute equipment which could be used; and by improvisation, workshops could be created so that the technical bias which I have mentioned could, by this process, be accelerated.
My fundamental criticism is directed against making children choose at the age of 11 whether or not they shall go to a technical school. It is much too early an age for them to make that choice. Hon. Members on this side of the House accept that as a fact. That is why, for educational reasons, many of my hon. Friends are supporters of the comprehensive school. I should like to see the growth of the comprehensive school system. I do not want to go into the subject in too much detail, but I believe that at a later stage of a child's career we can have adequate technical facilities in such schools. That is why I am opposed to a child entering a technical environment straight away, at the age of 11, in a technical school.
I do not wish to deal with the question of technical colleges; that has been covered in detail by many of my hon. Friends. I come back to the Select Committee's Report. On previous occasions I have pressed the Minister for replies in connection with specific recommendations made by that Committee. I am sorry that the Report itself was not fully debated when it was first issued. This is really the first major debate we have had on science and manpower since the Report was published. I still assert that the first recommendation should be more carefully considered by the Ministry of Education. That recommendation asks the Ministerto re-examine the problem of the method of building in instalments with a view to eliminating to the maximum extent the financial loss involved.The second recommendation is also important, namely, thatThe Ministry of Education should consider the suggestion that money for building technical colleges should be allocated to local authorities on a five-year basis.In reply to that suggestion, the Parliamentary Secretary said that it was not possible to plan upon a five-year basis, but I am certain that it is, and if the Minister and his officials looked at the question again 643 I am sure that they would not adopt so rigid and doctrinaire an attitude.
I want to know more about the regional advisory councils. Will they function again effectively under the new set-up? We certainly need more co-ordination. The Minister mentioned the importance of "free trade" as between students of different local authorities, and I agree with him. That is why the regional advisory bodies should be strengthened much more. There should be much more planning from the local government point of view. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the recommendations contained in the Twelfth Report of the Select Committee and will refer to them, perhaps even tonight.
I should also like the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to give us more specific information about the Imperial College of Science. He has been pressed to do so by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton, who is a Governor of that body. This is an important matter, because many of us believe that the Imperial College is a great national college which can set standards. At this stage we should not build a new Royal College, like the Massachusetts Institute. I am certain that the decision to expand the Imperial College of Science was the right one, having regard to our limited resources.
I should like to know what progress has been made, what is the student entry, and what is the real position in relation to post-graduates. Post-graduate courses are important in higher technology and in our universities. I have read the report of the recent interesting debate upon this subject which occurred in another place. This matter was raised by the predecessor of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) who now sits in another place. He said that we are now finding that post-graduate courses are taken up mainly by students from the Commonwealth. I am glad that those students are coming here, but why is it that students from our own universities and technical colleges are not taking these courses?
We know the answer. It is all very well for the Minister to say that finance is not the only answer, but it is important in connection with post-graduate work. The graduate naturally wishes to get out 644 into industry or teaching and earn his living, and if the bursaries and grants are not sufficiently attractive he does not take a post-graduate course. The Commonwealth countries and the Colonies are enlightened upon this matter and realise its importance. I want to know what the Government are doing about it, and whether we are to have a better scheme.
I think that we all agree that we must have this expansion. There must obviously be priorities within the service itself, and the Minister and the Treasury must decide what those priorities should be. Hon. Members will make their own contributions in this connection today, and will no doubt put forward some special pleading. I want to make a special plea for the agricultural service. We do not appreciate the importance of science in agriculture. We forget that there has been a tremendous revolution, due to the adaptation of scientific techniques on our farms.
The National Advisory Service is an example. Research has also been conducted by many private bodies. I know that the Minister has a tremendous interest in agriculture. It was once thought that he was going to that Ministry. I know that he would agree that agricultural research, and the supply of technicians to the agricultural industry, is very important and must be a major consideration. I can give a specific example of one of the difficulties. Veterinary surgeons, who are important in connection with the eradication of disease in our livestock, make a very valuable contribution in stepping up our food production. There is a shortage of veterinary surgeons today, and they are all overworked, even those in the public service. We need an expansion in that sphere.
The same story can be told abroad. Although we used to supply the Commonwealth and Colonial Territories with trained veterinary surgeons, today many of those countries are looking elsewhere. New Zealand is now taking Dutch veterinary surgeons, and the Colonial Territories are now beginning to take surgeons from Denmark. I do not object to that; it is a good thing to have this mixture, but it shows how great is the shortage here. We are not supplying enough specialists for the development of our own resources and for the development of the Colonial Territories.
645 We also need more geologists. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. F. Willey) has raised this matter on previous occasions. He and I put a series of Questions to the Minister responsible for the conduct of our geological survey, which is important for the development of our mineral resources. From the reply given on 8th February this year we find that only 60 per cent. of England and Wales has been surveyed. In Scotland, the percentage is 90, while Northern Ireland has been more fortunate; but there is still 40 per cent. of our country to be properly surveyed. The cost of the completion of that survey is £10 million.
In 1949, the Labour Government set up a Mineral Development Committee, which later produced a Report. One of the Ministers of the present Administration, the President of the Board of Trade, sat on that Committee and made some very vigorous interventions during its deliberations. His minority Report was also produced. I would emphasise here the fact that while we want to see the development of our resources and wish to compete in a world in which resources of raw materials are precious, we in this country have not yet completed a proper geological survey.
Turning to the numbers of the field staffs employed on the survey, we find that in 1952–53 there were 53, in 1953–54 there were 54, and in the last year 55. In other words, we need increasing staff and an increasing deployment of our resources. It is vitally important. In my own area of West Cumberland, we have a new Development Area, which is expanding. Its expansion has been helped through the mining of anhydrites.
We now have a new industry for the production of sulphuric acid and cement in West Cumberland. A geological survey helped people in that area to see its possibilities. Through the initiative of the Labour Government, adequate financial resources were diverted to the area and a new industry was created. It will now make a very considerable and valuable contribution, not only to the wealth of West Cumberland, but to that of the whole country.
Again, I would say that, particularly in the field of science, we need priorities in certain directions, and I have already quoted the example of geology, which is 646 very important. If I may pursue my argument, in the Colonial Territories—
Mr. Frederick Wiley (Sunderland, North)
Before my hon. Friend leaves that subject, would he not agree that, in connection with scientists in the public service, the salaries offered are far from attractive and the career prospects far too limited, and that, for these reasons, the public service does not attract scientists as it should?
§ Mr. Peart
I quite agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North that it is important that the public service should attract scientists and should pay adequate salaries. We had a debate on this question when we discussed the Atomic Energy Authority. In that field, I think scientists are being attracted, but there is a danger, as is always the case, that because of inadequate facilities, private industry will attract them away or indeed, as has already happened, many of these scientists might well leave the country and seek employment elsewhere. I certainly agree with the remarks of my hon. Friend.
If we are to develop our Colonial Territories, we must supply many more technicians from this country. I argued this case over and over again in the early days of the Labour Government, when I occasionally intervened in debates on colonial affairs. I think that many of my colleagues and many hon. Members opposite have got the colonial problem in the wrong perspective. It is all very well arguing about political constitutions and democracy, but we must create the economic conditions for political development to be possible. I have always felt that in our colonial debates we have neglected that subject.
I remember quite well those early days when I was pleading for an improved geological service, that we should send to these territories, not parsons, teachers and lawyers, but geologists, geographers, agricultural specialists and veterinary surgeons. I am not denigrating these other professions, which have their uses and importance, but if we are to give the peoples of Africa security to enable them to make their effective contribution to the Commonwealth, their development, we must remember that their success and stability depends on our ability to send out to the Colonial Territories men and 647 women from our technological institutes and universities who have the right training and who can rightly use the resources of those areas. We all know of the developments in the agricultural sphere, the attack on disease, etc. That should be the emphasis, and if we are to do that work, we must give that priority.
For that reason, I hope the Minister of Education will win his battle with the Treasury because of the importance of the development of Africa and of the peoples in the Commonwealth. That is true, not only of areas for which we have responsibilities, but of other areas as well. I have recently been in Greece as a member of a mission from the Council of Europe, and we were looking at Greek agriculture, following upon a survey of that country and other countries in the Mediterranean. That is the problem there. Although the resources are limited, the problem of the Greek people is how to use those resources properly, and we too must help them.
We are obliged to do that, and the Minister, who himself was a great supporter of Strasbourg, will realise that the Strasbourg plan and other projects which matter very much to these countries will only be developed by countries like ours, which can provide the technicians and the experts. We have done this before, for example, when we sought to combat foot-and-mouth disease in Europe. It is to the credit of the British Government that some of our finest livestock experts were sent out, including Sir Thomas Dalling, the head of our veterinary service here, who was attached to F.A.O.
Therefore, we see how important it is to have in various international organisations technicians, technologists and people who can give advice as to how resources can be fully utilised. That is a problem we must face, both in our Colonial Territories and at home, in industry and agriculture. It is a problem which faces the world, and we must make our contribution towards its solution. That is why I regard this debate today as so very important.
If I may, I will conclude by philosophising for a moment. The Minister touched upon the question of the use of power, but there are dangers. Today, we have been discussing the advancement of science and the development of scientific 648 technique. I want to point out some of the dangers. I have here a book which I bought a long time ago. It was written by Bertrand Russell, and first published in 1924. He discusses the future of science. I should like to quote this sentence from it:I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy.It is important that we should consider the purposes of science and scientific education. Bertrand Russell was certainly inspired then by the legend of Icarus, who was taught by his father Dædalos how to fly. Through rashness, Icarus was destroyed. We are exactly in that position. We are told to use science properly and wisely, and to use scientific methods in our thinking for that purpose, but there are dangers, and one of them is the centralisation of power.
Another danger is that with the development of modern scientific techniques in propaganda, the development of television and electronics, a democracy becomes passive. There is the danger that people will accept a centralised Government, in the worst sense, imposing its propaganda. There are tremendous dangers in the development of scientific techniques. There is the danger to objective discussion, a danger that science may develop as it did under the Nazis to fit their perverted racial theories, and as in the Soviet Union, where here and there it has been twisted to fit various ideological viewpoints.
There are all these dangers, and we have a tremendous responsibility to see that science is properly used. If we think in terms of the right use of our political power in the wider sphere, we can recognise, as we discuss the application of science to manpower and industry, that there are great possibilities and great dangers. We see that in the world of atomic science. It is not the scientists who have been wrong but the politicians who have not caught up with their thinking.
What is more important here is that when we discuss new techniques and the new revolution we should see how the old political order and the old economic order—hon. Members opposite may disagree—are likely to become out-of-date. The development of science, in the atomic field particularly, has shown the 649 importance of co-operation and the use of science for all, and not for selfish means. In that sense the old world of competitive capitalism is as dead as the dodo.
I hope that hon. Members on all sides of the House will see to it that the Minister of Education, in the autumn of this year, produces a detailed plan, and that that plan is backed by the Treasury. We should see that we do not have mere platitudes and broad policies expounded in nice terms, but something concrete upon which to work, that we should see unfolded a detailed plan, not only for the development of technical education, but also for the encouragement of the right use of technical education in our industry and in our agriculture and also for the needs of the Colonies.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) has spoken so fully on the importance of the subject before us that it seems scarcely necessary to bring out any further points upon it. By his speech he has also emphasised the importance of taking a broad view of these matters of science and technology.
Much of the debate today, particularly the proposals of my right hon. Friend, has been primarily concerned with that broader view of technological education. It has shown the difficulty of getting more of those trained with the broader view from the universities, though the technical colleges have been turning out increasing numbers of those who have a narrower view because they have been training on a narrower curriculum. The proposals of my right hon. Friend, following those of experts who have examined this problem, are aimed at trying to tap a new source of those who can benefit from broader technical and scientific education and to find new institutions in which their abilities can be developed.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend has pushed on. This problem has been discussed almost ad nauseam by learned bodies and in another place on several occasions. It seemed to many of us that the time had come to make a decision —a decision which, I think, represents a fair synthesis of the views widely expressed and which recognises the difficulties.
650 The great professional institutions have done a magnificent job in training people in the broader viewpoint in technological and scientific matters. They have supplemented and are now supplementing the work being done by the universities. What stands out from what has been said today by my right hon. Friend and others is how near his viewpoint is to that put forward by the professional institutions. We know from the letter in "The Times" yesterday that the professional institutions are uncertain whether the present developments will produce the sort of people we want—the people with the broader outlook. Yet I have felt as the discussion has gone on that the difference is a small one in most details.
The main difference is that the professional institutions wanted to have only a relatively few technical colleges given greater rights to improve their curriculum and to award diplomas or degrees at the end of their courses, whereas my right hon. Friend and those who have advised him in the expert committees have held the view that the right should be extended to a larger number of technical colleges to build up their courses one by one until perhaps they reach a high enough standard to be considered technological universities.
My right hon. Friend has put a great burden on Lord Hives' Council to meet the difficulties to which the proposals now adopted will give rise. My right hon. Friend has told us that during the summer he is to work out the practical details of what is implied by the present proposals. I wish to ask my right hon. Friend a number of questions which the Hives Council will have to consider, and remove some of the doubts about the present proposals. The first question is this. How does a technical college qualify for the increased powers which it is to be given? Is it the college itself which will apply, or will it be the college plus the industries in the area?
Secondly, we shall want to hear a great deal more detail about how they are to carry out a proposal which my right hon. Friend made in answer to a Question this afternoon. He was asked whether the colleges which were upgraded were gradually to eliminate their lower-grade courses. My right hon. Friend replied, "Yes"; but it is very important to hear 651 the practical details of how that will be done and how quickly it will be done.
Then there is the exceedingly important question of the relationship between the Hives Council, the local education authorities and the Ministry. How are the financial arrangements to work? Assume that the Council proposes improvements in a technical college's courses so that it can be upgraded. How is the money to be found to make that possible? Is the local education authority to be pressed by the Ministry to find its share of what, presumably, would be a 25 per cent. grant, the Ministry paying the 75 per cent. balance, or is the Ministry to find 100 per cent. grant for colleges suitable to those special courses?
Is it possible that the Hives Council is eventually to grow into the same position as the University Grants Committee and to work as an autonomous body receiving a grant from the Government and distributing it with something like the freedom with which the University Grants Committee at present distributes grants to the universities?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I believe that there is a misapprehension in some quarters that local authorities may hang back and not provide their share of the money. Our experience is quite the contrary. Our difficulty has not been in having to stimulate local authorities to put up their share of the cost of expanding technical education, but exactly the opposite. They have always been willing to do a great deal more than the Ministry hitherto has been able to recognise. I am confident that the local authorities, or, it may be, the joint committees who are responsible for the regional colleges, will be very keen indeed to raise their prestige, and I should be very surprised if there were any difficulty in getting their contribution.
§ Mr. Fort
I am delighted to have that intervention from my right hon. Friend, as, I am sure, everybody else will be.
These courses, up to what will be virtually university standard, will be a great deal more expensive both in equipment and in salaries. I am pleased to think that at a time when there is a good deal of complaint about the education rate, so many local education authorities will be 652 prepared to bear the heavy expenses entailed when they are upgraded. I am delighted to hear it, and I do not in any way doubt it in view of the way it has been said here this afternoon.
In connection with salaries, I was not sure from what my right hon. Friend said whether he was expecting that the majority of the high grade teachers needed will be drawn from industry or whether the salary scales, either for existing teachers or for new teachers to be brought in, will have to be put up to something like university salary levels. This is one of the points in which we shall be very interested when we have more details of the scheme.
As I understood my right hon. Friend, the Hives Council as at present envisaged will be responsible for curricula and the standards of granting awards. This ties in with my earlier question on finance and relations with local education authorities. If the Hives Council finds that it is demanding standards which require heavy expenditures in order to reach standards for awards of up to first university degree standard, is the Hives Council to be autonomous so as to be able to negotiate what arrangements it thinks best with the universities or with the local authorities, or will it all the time, when it faces matters of essential control of that nature, have to refer back to the Ministry?
In view of the line which has been taken this afternoon, I hope that the Hives Council will be found to have considerably more autonomy than those who object to the present arrangement imagine. This, too, is a point which will have to be considered.
Many people will be glad that the Hives Council should have a considerable degree of financial autonomy, and the upgraded technical colleges a great measure of scientific autonomy, which will probably also include the right to undertake, as some technical colleges already undertake, a considerable amount of scientific research. Teaching and research, certainly at anything like university standards, have to move parallel with each other.
To those who have been very critical of the proposals, I would say that the new set-up seems to me to be similar to one which has worked well for many years in Germany, where vocational 653 schools provide courses of two years practical and then two or three years on the theoretical side. These are similar to our sandwich courses, although the timing of the practical and the teaching part is entirely different. I see no reason to imagine that our new arrangements will be any less successful than long experience has shown the German arrangements to be.
I have one point to mention in connection with science teaching in the schools. One trouble is not that too few of those who stay on in the grammar schools take science—indeed, about two-thirds of them take science in the sixth form at the present time—but is in the numbers who leave. The other problem is to find enough teachers to teach the two-thirds who do remain at school to the high standard demanded for entrance to the university. I am sure that while salaries undoubtedly should be increased, they are not the whole trouble. When I left the university, nothing would have induced me to teach, for working in a factory seemed so much more attractive and exciting. Except for those who have a great natural bent for teaching, that is as true today as it was many years ago when I had to make the choice.
One of the undoubted difficulties, to which several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), have referred, has been the high entry standards demanded at the universities and the corresponding specialisation in the sixth form science teaching at school. Eighteen months ago, when I was in Berlin, I was interested to hear the Director of Technical Education there criticising this feature of English science teaching. He said that his criticism was of long standing. If I remember aright, he said, "It is largely due to the laziness of your own universities. We here in Germany long ago made up our minds that we could never make science teaching in what corresponds to your secondary schools sufficiently attractive to get people of the highest standards. The right place to start specialised science teaching is in the universities." The result is that the great technical high schools in Germany give four-or five-year courses, the first two or three semesters of which are devoted to teaching a lower standard of science than in the English universities.
654 I was very interested to hear that at the Imperial College of Science thought was being given to this problem, to see how advisable under English conditions it was to give some preliminary teaching in science, not only to help solve this problem in secondary schools but to help in another direction, that is, in attracting into the science side those who have been studying the humanities, those like my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) who showed so much promise in science and then unfortunately was turned aside to other subjects.
I was delighted to hear that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education wishes to make science an exciting, interesting matter in the secondary modern school, because many of those who ought to benefit from the new courses which are now envisaged are going into the secondary modern schools. It is absolutely terrifying to think how few teachers who do the two years' training course study the natural sciences.
I have seen figures for 1953 or 1954 which show that in 75 women's training colleges only 85 women were taking the physical sciences. The figures for men, though greater, are still very small. This is one of the problems which falls greatly on the Ministry—to see how far science can be made much more attractive for young working men and women who are taking the two-year training course. The importance of science, whether at university level, the present technical college level, the new technical college level or in the lower schools, is overwhelming.
There were all sorts of talk in the Chamber yesterday about coal and the future development of atomic energy. All that depends upon our success in the subject matter of today's debate. The responsibility upon the present Minister and any future Minister of Education is one of the greatest that any Minister can have for the long-term future of our country.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)
I very much agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) has just said, and particularly with his closing sentences on the importance of the work of the Minister in trying to solve the problem of scientific manpower which we are discussing. I do not think that I should go very far with the hon. Member, however, 655 in his suggestion, or perhaps his hope, that the scheme of expanding technical education which has been outlined by the Minister today might be somewhat like the vocational schools which exist in Germany, particularly if the hon. Member was referring to those which existed before the war. Although they obtained certain material results in a very narrow sphere, there were many educational drawbacks to those schools which I should not like to see introduced into the British system.
I am sure that everyone who has spoken today, or who is interested, will agree that we are discussing a subject upon which the future of our country, and indeed of our world, largely depends. I suppose that science is almost the only hope for the rising world population that in the future it can escape starvation. It certainly is the only hope that here, and even more particularly in Africa and Asia, there can be an appreciable increase in the standards of living in the future. For that reason, amongst many others, a particular responsibility devolves upon a British Minister of Education, because not only have we to see that the recruitment and employment of scientific manpower are wisely used in teaching, in industry and in atomic development at home, but we have the tremendous responsibility of assisting with development schemes in our own Colonies and with matters like the Colombo Plan, if our plans and protestations about colonial improvements are sincere.
I remember the bitter disappointment which I and others experienced when we visited East Africa in 1948 and found that even when the money had been voted by the House and the Colonial Governments one was often unable to begin to spend it because the personnel were not there to carry out the initial operations. There were no surveyors, geologists, architects and others, who are absolutely indispensable to development schemes of that kind.
No one who has spoken today has not agreed about the gravity of the present situation of shortage both of scientists and of teachers of science. I was very impressed by an article by Dr. Willis Jackson in the "Annual Review of British Industry" published by the "Financial Times," to which my attention was drawn. He wrote: 656The really disturbing aspect of the situation … is that the supply of scientists and technologists is falling considerably below the overall national demand for them notwithstanding all that has been achieved since the problem was reported upon by the Barlow Committee in 1946, and that it is seriously retarding the necessary expansion of our industrial potential.Further on he wrote:Moreover the number of graduates produced is unlikely to change appreciably for the better in the next two or three years since the number of entrants to the University departments of technology during the past two sessions failed to keep pace with the additional places which have been made available in them, and there is cause for anxiety lest the extensive further expansion of the science and technology schools now in progress in a number of Universities will not be fully used as quickly as is desirable.That comment is backed by the University Grants Committee which reported, as compared with 1950, an overall decline of 2 per cent. in the places at the universities and a decline in that 2 per cent. of more than 6.6 per cent. of places in the technological departments of the universities.
This situation, this dearth both of scientists generally and of science teachers, comes at a most unfortunate period, having regard to the age composition of our child population. Owing to the vagaries of our birth-rate, there are now passing through the schools and ripe for further education a very large number of people in the 16–18 age group. By 1960 that age group will have increased by 20 per cent. over 1945, and by 1964, only four years later, the group will have risen by over 40 per cent. After that period the group will decline somewhat.
We are, therefore, on the verge of a great expansion of this age group and it is at this very moment that graduates are not coming forward, particularly in science, and the teachers are not available in sufficient numbers. On top of that, we have also to face the really tragic figures of the loss of pupils who do not complete the courses which they have in many cases contracted to undertake.
The Minister referred to the "Report on Early Leaving" which was presented by the Central Advisory Council for Education of the Ministry of Education. The Council estimated that in the English grammar schools in 1953, 10,000 boys and 7,000 girls completed a sixth-form course leading to two subjects at the 657 advanced level of the General Certificate of Education. At the same time, it reported that some further 5,000 girls and 5,000 boys might well have reached that standard if they had remained longer in school. There was thus a depressing wastage of almost 50 per cent. of those who were successful in completing the courses. It is, of course, true that not all of those, had they stayed at school, might have been scientists, but the Council's Report states that in its view, 2,900 of the boys and 1,300 of the girls showed that they were competent to have followed science and mathematic courses had they stayed at school. Therefore, there is a direct wastage of the very valuable potential of students which could remedy the situation. I think we are all conscious of the shortage and of the great loss.
Those figures were emphasised by the Report to which my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) referred, which was prepared by the Universities Advisory Committee of the Association of Scientific Workers. They came to the conclusion that the supply of students for higher and technical scientific education could be increased by inducing more pupils to stay at school by at least 20 per cent. and possibly as much as 50 per cent. It went on to say that a considerable part of that increase would come from girls' schools, and that, I think, is important, because not long ago the periodical "Nature" commented onthe cesation of women science graduates being almost in sight.I hope that is not true, and it may be slightly exaggerated. Nevertheless, the figures of loss for boys and girls are a special matter for the gravest concern.
It is quite clear that the whole climate of opinion about staying on at school has to be changed. That has partly got to be done by the prestige of the Ministry and by all the arts of persuasion and publicity. It is of course not unconnected with better financial grants that have to be made to those who are going to stay on at schools and at the universities.
It is quite clear that we cannot have more scientists and more technicians without more science teachers, but again if we look at the figures, so far as they are available, the picture is extremely disturbing. I rather thought this afternoon—perhaps I am wrong in this—that 658 the Minister was a little bit too complacent about all these things. According to the Ministry's own report, in 1953 there is a wastage of science graduate teachers of something like 800 a year by death or retirement or, of course, in these days, a transfer to much more remunerative posts in industry, and nobody can blame the teachers if they go.
I understand the estimated requirement of science graduate teachers for the years 1955–60 is something over 1,000 per year. I think the figure is actually 1,020, and I am informed that current recruitment is running somewhere about 600 teachers per year. So here we are faced with a situation that, unless there is a great change, we shall be having a deficit in the science teaching staff of something like 400 teachers every year.
If this is the fact, the position will be reached where it is almost impossible to remedy the deficiency. It does, I think, arouse the gravest fears indeed. I understand that in 1954 there were 115 graduate science teacher posts advertised in grammar schools in England which were not filled, and if that is so it is really appalling. The Federation of British Industries, whose figures and comments I do not normally accept as being wholly the truth, estimate in this particular connection a shortage of graduate science teachers by 1960 which will have reached a figure of 2,300. If that is the position, I hope we shall hear something about it from whoever is going to reply. We do face a very serious situation in regard to science teachers and therefore to the whole future of scientific manpower and recruitment.
I was interested to see, although I gather that the case of Scotland will be considered next week, that precisely the same situation has occurred there. In Command Paper 9419, I see in paragraph 9:By 1957 the loss of specialist teachers of mathematics and science through death or retirement will be at the rate of 50 a year, while their recruitment, if present trends continue, will be only 30 a year. Thus the number of such teachers will be decreasing by 20 a year.So there is no source within the United Kingdom which I can see where we can, as we have sometimes done in the past, recruit staff to help our position in England.
659 Anyone who has looked at the policy and the attitude of the Government in the last three and a half years will have come to the conclusion that it has been a pathetic performance. On 21st October, 1953, an Adjournment debate on the shortage of teachers was initiated by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), who was then the Member for Billericay. The then Parliamentary Secretary chided the hon. Member for calling this a problem because he said that a problem implied it was something with which we could deal. He took the attitude, and I suppose he was reflecting the attitude of the Government, that there was nothing we could do about it.
He finished up by saying that it was some consolation that the problem would be mathematically less in 1965. That is an astonishing performance, even having regard to the source from which it came.
§ Mr. Skeffington
I quite agree with my right hon. Friend.
There was a further debate on 11th May, 1954, which drew this comment—and I quote this because I do not want anyone to think that this is a matter of scoring political points; one is trying to reveal the seriousness of the position in the hope that there is going to be a complete change in the future—from "Nature":Nowhere was there a hint that the Government has a policy for technical education and that this has been thought out in regard to the needs of technological education and the sources available.And later:… there must be an end to the present policy of drift, which is hindering the development of technological and technical education no less than of primary and secondary education.Mention has already been made of technical plans for some institution of university rank devoted to the teaching and the study of various forms of technology. Nothing has happened, and I doubt whether we will hear anything further about it tonight or in October.
It seems to me there are four things that ought to be urgently considered. First of all, there must be more liberal grants for those who stay on at school and provision at the universities should be on a more generous scale. I say that 660 as the member of an authority which has been reasonably liberal in giving its grants. I mean the London County Council. I sat for some years on the committee which awarded grants, and we adopted a principle of giving awards wherever the higher institution itself accepted the scholar. We made that the only test before granting the award, but even so there were cases I felt which ought to have been assisted and which the Council were unable to assist.
Secondly, I do not think there is any use deploring the lack of science teachers or other teachers until we get down to providing a proper professional salary scale in order that we shall avert this, what I might call, artificial wastage into industries, and in order that we can get smaller classes and make the teaching conditions much more attractive.
Thirdly—and here I thought we did receive some encouragement from the Ministerôthere must be a broadening of the syllabus, particularly in modern secondary schools, to capture the imagination of the pupils and parents and provide for those who are late developers, so that they can pass on to other institutions.
Fourthly, I hope the Minister will take a less doctrinaire attitude than he has taken to the experiment of the comprehensive school, because so far as I know the one place where adequate provision for the technical side is being made is in the comprehensive school, as anyone can see if he goes to Kidbrooke or Wood-berry Down, where it will be seen that provision is being made to enable all going to school to show their aptitude for the opportunity of doing work on the technical side.
All this will, of course, cost much money, but on both sides of the House we must be quite frank with people. I do not think the public in this age and generation will as a whole be opposed to more money for education, providing that they are convinced it is being wisely spent.
I want to close on one other topic which in one sense is a minor matter but is an acid test of the protestations of the Government about science and the recruitment and deployment of scientific manpower. How do the Government treat their own scientists, that is to say, scientists in their employment? If we 661 ask most of the Civil Service trade unions concerned we shall get a fairly rapid and not very satisfactory answer.
I want to instance what may perhaps be a bad example—I hope it is—of the Government Chemist's Department. This has its headquarters in Clement's Inn Passage. It is a dark building because there are other tall buildings around it. I understand that some rooms need artificial light all the time which, for those carrying out colour tests, must be extremely difficult. The entire building shakes and vibrates from the tube and traffic, so one can imagine the difficulties of those trying to attune their sensitive instruments to do their work. The Department carries on its activities in four or five different buildings, so that there must be a great loss of time in movement of staff and commodities. A number of the staff are actually at the Customs House, which is an even older building going back to 1817.
When it rains, buckets and jars have to be put out to catch the water and during the really wet months the staff appear to work permanently in their mackintoshes. How can one wonder if there is no great enthusiasm either to come into or to stay in that Department of the Government service. It is true that in 1912 Sir James Dibbley addressed a memorandum about having another building, but, as far as I know, nothing has yet been done about it. This is unfair on the staff and also on the public. It is unfortunate for the Department, because it is easy for journalists who do not know the conditions to criticise the work of the department.
I hope that in this and in other matters we shall find the Government setting a pattern of which they and we can be proud, and which will help them to solve their difficulties.
We are all grateful for the glimpse of flexibility which the Minister indicated. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not see the end of the road. I am afraid that I did not see the beginning of the road to his solution of the gravity of the problem. I thought his speech was vague and imprecise and his attitude far too leisurely. However, perhaps we shall all be encouraged by what he may have to say, and the more precise plans he may be able to produce, in October.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)
I should have gone a long way in agreement with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) in the admirable sentiments he expressed but for his little excursion into political fisticuffs, When he reminded us of a debate which took place on this subject a few years ago. According to the hon. Gentleman, there was very little evidence at that time of any policy on the part of the Conservative Government for higher technological education.
The hon. Gentleman might have reminded the House of the fact that during those years the priority in education was, of course, primary and secondary education. In so far as something had to take a second place in those years, it was quite properly technological education, which gave way to the immediate needs of the younger children. If there has been any neglect of a policy in the past, I think the House would agree that since last December, amplified by what we have heard today, there is a most satisfactory road now opening up for the development of higher technological education.
At this stage in the debate almost every speaker is bound to plod along a well-marked track. Nevertheless, no harm will be done by reiterating the essential basic fact which has led to this debate being started so usefully by the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), namely, that our national survival depends upon our production of scientists and technologists. We are not talking today about what may or may not be fashionable in education; we are talking about a fundamental basic necessity for the survival of our standard of living. So, even if there is repetition in the debate, if that repetition has the effect of bringing home to the public mind that primary essential, it will have been justified repetition.
I have in my hand quotations from the Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy to the Government in 1950, 1951, 1953, and 1954, in which, year after year, the Council emphasises to the Government, and in that way to the nation, the necessity for us to devote priorities and resources to this feature of our educational programme.
It is worth saying again that if this country is to do all over again what it 663 did in Victorian times in the way of supplying the world with what the world needs—and incidentally not only maintaining and developing its own prosperity but that of backward parts of the world—it can only do it from now onwards by maintaining its leadership in aeronautics, electronics, nuclear energy, and the application of science to agriculture—all those things that previous speakers today have emphasised.
We, fifty million people on this small island, must be in a position from now onwards to sell the products of the new machines, to sell the know-how of new techniques, and to sell our men as specialists all over the world, if we are to have anything like prosperity and render that international service which we rendered in Victorian days. We all remember the slogan which was coined not long after the war, "Export or bust." I am not at all sure that the corresponding slogan for the survival of this country from now onwards will not be, "Invent or bust."
During the debate one or two hon. Members have attempted what seems to to me to be necessary but difficult, and that is to try to put into figures this need of essential manpower. In doing that I come to one point on which my right hon. Friend is well aware I differ from him. In his most encouraging speech today the Minister referred regularly, and I am sure deliberately, to scientists and technicians. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) was most careful to do what I want to do, which is to underline that a little further.
I believe that the group of people we are talking about should be divided broadly not merely into scientists and technicians but into what we have called technologists or scientists, technicians and craftsmen, to use the phrase of the hon. Gentleman. It is because my right hon. Friend the Minister has not made that analysis but seems to treat the scientific army as divided into scientists and technicians—as it were, officers and soldiers—that I find myself differing from him.
The technologist is the man with knowledge of the basic sciences which he can apply to new problems and processes, the man who does the research work.
664 The technician is the man who takes the results of that work and applies them; he may not invent new techniques and machines but he applies new techniques in improving existing processes and machines. The craftsman is the man who looks after the machines.
In trying to quantify our scientific manpower needs, I want particularly to concentrate upon the scientists and technologists, the senior of the three grades. Sir Alexander Todd, the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, gave us an inkling of what is needed when he said that the demand for graduate engineers is about a third greater than the supply. He also gave some figures comparing the proportion of scientists to working population in this country and other countries. In 1939 the United Kingdom figure was 0.5 per cent., and in 1945 it had risen to 0.9 per cent. The U.S.A. figures were: 1939, 0.9 per cent.; 1954, 1.7 per cent.; 1955, 2 per cent. The figure for Russia is probably about 2 per cent. The U.K. figure is now perhaps 1 per cent. Both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. have double that ratio.
Earlier an hon. Member gave a useful figure worked out by Sir Ewart Smith of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., on the basis that our production has to rise each year at the rate of 5 per cent. compound interest. Sir Ewart points out that, on that basis, we need an additional 1,500 top-level technological students annually at compound interest, which means an additional 6,000 graduate students at any one time in our universities and higher technological colleges.
The problem is, can we find 1,500 additional first-quality students per annum? It is useful to have a figure of that order. It focuses the problem, though the actual figure may, of course, be 500 more or less or even 1,000 more or less.
As hon. Members have already said, there should be no question of lowering university standards. Some vice-chancellors who gave evidence before the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee said frankly that most universities were now scraping the bottom of the barrel. In other words, they could not take in additional students on quality grounds alone.
Therefore, it appears that, for the additional 1,500 a year, we have to look 665 to early school-leavers, to those who are at present taking arts subjects instead of science subjects at school, and to girls' schools, where we must encourage the giving of more attention to chemistry and physics instead of the present concentration on, probably, biology alone. We must see whether we can obtain them by equalising grants to universities as between one education authority and another. We must see whether State scholarships and county scholarships should he more specialised in order to bring people from the arts faculties into the science faculties.
Generally, we have got to do what the Minister so well indicated. We must popularise science as an interesting and exciting career. As the Duke of Edinburgh said not long ago, we have got to make science fashionable so that educationists, headmasters, careers masters, the senates of universities—some educational work must be done there—local authorities and parents realise that science can provide a good education and a good and satisfying career.
It is particularly a challenge to science teachers. They are more and more criticised for being specialists and for tending to make their pupils specialists. As they have the whole of the enormous realm of science in front of them, surely there is no justification today for a narrow teaching of science. Hon. Members have probably seen the fascinating books of Hendrik Van Loon in which he deals with scientific subjects in relation to human life and brings everything to life in a manner which an imaginative teacher could surely put across to his class in order to give his pupils an all-round education. That is a challenge to the teachers which they have to meet.
There, in very brief summary, is the need for, as well as the possible source of, additional technologists. It is pro-ably true to say that industry, by and large, can today take all the first-quality men that our universities and technical colleges can turn out. We have not to think unduly in terms of numbers because the demand is unsatisfied.
That is the group of men in which I am interested, in which the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, of which I am chairman, is interested, and in which the Minister, in his proposals for a new 666 diploma in technology, is interested. However, the Minister may not have appreciated the distinction between that group and the group which I and other hon. Gentlemen have called "technicians." The technician is the really able, highly-skilled technical expert who is essential in the industrial life of the country, the expert in development and production, although perhaps not in research and in devising new methods. He is needed just as much as the technologist.
The source for such men will, I hope, be secondary modern schools with a technical bias. I do not limit the technical bias to secondary modern schools. I also want to see it in many grammar schools and independent schools, the old public schools. Nevertheless there is the great function, the exciting function, for the secondary modern school of providing the able technician who may not be able to make the highly intellectual grade of a university degree, but who has an important, honourable and exciting part to play in industry.
§ Sir H. Linstead
I should not at all quarrel with that. It is certainly a very much larger group, for which there is probably a much greater need, than the 1,500 or so additional technologists who I believe will be needed.
Before I develop the means by which these groups of needed manpower can be produced, it is worth, for a moment, looking at a factor which has not been mentioned in the debate—the time factor. It is because of the time factor that the proposals which the Minister has made have a considerable attraction. There is here a feeling of drive and energy on the part of his Department in keeping with the needs of the situation. However, the mere fact that there is a need for speed is balanced by the inevitability of gradualness in education, particularly in the development of higher education.
We need speed, because what we do now will bear fruit in ten years' time, because inevitably development is always slow and the aeroplanes or the electronic apparatus which we shall be selling in 667 ten years' time must be started now and quickly, if we are to have the world markets at that time. In higher education, however, one cannot do all over again what was done in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, which was one of the most important pieces of applied technology that this world is ever likely to see.
Nowadays it takes time to develop educational institutions, to train teachers, to establish standards and traditions of institutions, to establish the esteem of awards. Because that is a slow process it is all the more welcome to find that the Government, in their statement in December, and my right hon. Friend, in his statement today, have indicated their sense of the urgency of the problem.
I wonder if the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who is to reply, will say a few words by way of reporting progress on what was announced by the Government in December. We were then told that there was to be a massive expansion of Imperial College. Can he tell us the position about that expansion today? What about starting dates for building? There were to be major developments in Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. Can anything be said about that? There was to be development on a fairly large scale at Cambridge and Sheffield, and specialist development at Edinburgh, Newcastle, Southampton, Nottingham and Swansea. Can we have a progress report on those projects?
We were told in December—and the Minister carried it further today—that some thirty colleges have been planned ultimately to develop into advanced regional colleges, and that is linked with the institution of this new diploma in technology and the appointment of the Council of which Lord Hives is chairman. The problems which I fear my right hon. Friend might not have entirely measured are the problems of expansion in thirty technical colleges. How does he visualise obtaining, for even half that number of colleges, staff of a quality and standard able to deal with the students preparing for a diploma of the level about which he was talking today?
668 My right hon. Friend made it clear that he regards this diploma in technology as of the same level and important as a university degree. He, or Lord Hives, will be faced with what I think will be an almost insuperable problem of providing for, let us say in fifteen rather than thirty technical colleges, a senior scientific staff able to provide instruction of university standard. Even if what my right hon. Friend proposes, that this diploma shall be awarded on the basis of approved courses and not necessarily approved institutions, is accepted, nevertheless for each technology there must be supporting sciences, at least chemistry, physics, and probably mathematics. Where are we to find our professors of university standard in chemistry, physics and mathematics, to take those as examples, in addition to the teachers of the technologies?
It may be that it can be done. It may be that this is merely an example of the inevitability of gradualness. It may be that when Lord Hives's Council gets to work it will find that it is in fact better to concentrate on half-a-dozen of these colleges than to attempt to advance along a broad front straight away. I do not know what is the answer to the problem. I do not know how it can be answered at the moment, but if some indication can be given that this advance will not take place at the expense of quality, then I shall feel a little happier than I do now. It may be that the answer cannot be given tonight, and that it must depend upon inspections and surveys by the Hives Council. However, it is a fundamental question.
The remaining point that I want to make was touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman); it is linked with the diploma. The Minister will find that the men and women who do not go straight to the universities but take some kind of sandwich course, or are late entrants into technical and scientific training, will be compelled to take that diploma. I do not think that the technical colleges are likely to run two courses, one for an external London degree and another for the diploma.
That is one of the drawbacks of this scheme, and it worries me a little. Like my hon. Friend, I want to see the men and women who come up the hard way 669 being able to get to the top of the academic and intellectual tree just as much as to the top of the industrial tree. I am not sure that the diploma in technology will not prove to be something just short of the top of the academic and intellectual tree. One does not know.
If the universities are liberal, if they open their doors and say that they are prepared to take these people into their research departments to undertake research work and to obtain doctorates and so on, well and good; but the universities have not yet given an undertaking. If they do not, I think that we shall find a withering away of the London University degree, and consequently this opening of an opportunity to the men and women who have come up the hard way will not achieve what my right hon. Friend desires.
To sum up what I have to say, I enormously value and appreciate this great drive forward in the technology field, all that was announced in December last, and the announcement about the diploma today. I welcome the sense of urgency behind it, but I feel that there is a danger in spreading the resources too thinly. I hope that the Hives Council will find, when it comes to tackle the job, that it can do something about it.
I was glad to hear that the Council will be autonomous and will be expected to put its sights high. That was one of the most encouraging things I have heard today. The final test must be the quality of the man and woman turned out and not the piece of paper which is in his or her hand. This will depend not on the diploma but on the standard of the institution, much more on the standard of the courses and, of course, upon the calibre of the teachers under whom these people work. If my right hon. Friend can achieve that by his diploma, he will have provided the country and British industry with something of enormous importance.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)
Stress has been laid by many hon. Members on the immense importance to this country of getting sufficient scientific and technical manpower for the sake of our industrial future, and, may I add, for the future of our Colonial Empire.
670 I understand the facts are that the number of scientists at present employed in our Colonies amounts to only just over 400, which I think we all agree is quite insufficient if we are to do our duty by the Colonies in raising the standard of living of the people there, which can only be done by a higher technique and higher standards of production. Therefore, it seems to me that we have most seriously to consider this. I am very glad that everyone whom I have heard so far in the debate has stressed the importance of this, because not only must we have scientists to maintain our industrial strength here in this country, but we must send them abroad to train the Africans and Asians in our Colonies to become technicians themselves. The burden also is too great on the white man unless he himself trains Asians and Africans.
I believe the truth is that scientific discoveries have advanced at such a prodigous rate over the last decade or so and at a somewhat slower rate perhaps, but still very fast, in application to industry, that we have not kept pace in our educational establishments with that extremely rapid advance. I am glad that the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Lin-stead), who is chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, of which I was chairman before him, has made an important point, that he differs somewhat from the Minister of Education on this matter in distinguishing between technologists and technicians.
I think that if we are to understand this problem we must separate these functions one from the other. I think that our universities are turning out probably as many pure scientists as they are likely to do. I remember once speaking to the head of a very important laboratory at Cambridge on this matter. He said that he thought that the number of really first-class scientists turned out by the universities, including Cambridge, each year remained roughly about the same, and he was doubtful whether it would ever be possible to increase that number. He may have been a little pessimistic.
We can produce first-class scientists, but there are the technicians at the bottom end of the scale who carry out in practice the work of the scientists. There are, however, between them the technologists. I think that it is not quite understood that it is the technologists who take the 671 pure scientific theory and work it out in its application to industry, and then the technicians carry on in practice. So it is an extremely complicated matter. It seems that we have fallen down in this country, and that, although we have the best scientists in the world, we are behind America, as the figures given by the hon. Member for Putney show, in the number of technologists that we turn out from our educational institutions.
That is an extremely serious matter, because two of our great industries on which we are probably more dependent than on any other for the development of our export trade—the chemical industry and the engineering industry—are increasingly demanding higher academic qualifications from the recruits to their industries. Particularly is that the case in the chemical industry. It is not quite so much so in engineering, but it is coming up. It is upon them that we shall depend for our export trade. I believe that there is still a future for the textile industry, especially in the higher quality textiles, but they, too, can be produced only as the result of applying science to the textile industry. But I think that, in the main, our industrial future must rest with the chemical and engineering industries.
The problem is not just one of turning out scientists. I think that in this respect the Government seem to have taken important steps in the last year or two. The Imperial College of Science and Technology at Kensington is to be expanded, and also the Royal Technical College at Glasgow and the Manchester College of Technology, and there are further developments at Cambridge and other important universities. I am not so sure whether numbers alone are at the root of the problem. We also require the type of teacher who will enthuse his pupil. I think this may prove even more important than mere numbers.
Reference has been made during this debate to the fact that we are wasting a certain number of people on whom we might draw for training as scientists and for a technical career. There is no doubt that we are losing many who leave school at fifteen and go into occupations which are quite applicable to and undoubtedly suitable for children of certain standards. But there are strong reasons for believing that children of higher standards who 672 could stay on at school after fifteen, and take science and be trained in some technical occupation, are now being lost. We must endeavour to do something about that.
It is said that for every two promising boys who remain at school after sixteen there is one of equal quality who is lost, and here I suggest is a reservoir of untapped ability and scientific talent on which we might draw. Here we are up against an imponderable factor. It is all very well to turn out scientific teachers like sausages from a machine, but that is not enough. We must increase the number of scientific teachers, but if they have not the aptitude to teach and inspire their pupils, not much will be gained.
The number of students at the universities taking arts amounts to about 40 per cent. on the average. In this age, when science is revolutionising the world, I think that proportion should be reduced. Those taking science and technology amount to about 30 per cent., and there should be an increase of the one and a decrease of the other. Not that I wish to say anything against the humanities—heaven forfend. Indeed, I would say that those who take science would do well also to broaden their outlook in the humanities.
When I was in the United States in 1948, I went to Boston and spent a day at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I was very interested to see that part of the course of that great institute embraces subjects which are not entirely technical, such as the history of science, the history of the civilisation, and various other subjects which clearly come into the sphere of the arts. In this way the outlook of the scientists and technologists is broadened. It is equally true that all those who take the arts should know something about science, or they cannot be classed as well-educated, because the world has undergone such a revolution in the last decade or so, and we are in a scientific age.
One of the factors in the success of this drive must be the quality of the teaching. Good teachers are born and not made. First-class scientists and research men may be very poor teachers. When I was taking the Natural Science Tripos at Cambridge many years ago I remember that I had some very fine men teaching me geology, but I understood 673 very little from them. It may be that I was stupid, but I was not the only one; other students felt the same. Admirable men and good scientists as those lecturers and teachers were, they could not put it across. Others who did not seem to be so good made us wildly enthusiastic. I remember one at the Cavendish Laboratories at Cambridge, teaching in chemistry, who made us most enthusiastic, although beyond writing a primer on chemistry I do not think that he did very much research.
We must have men who have a feeling of mission and who can inspire the youth whom they are teaching. I do not know whether there is any way in which the Ministry of Education, the universities or the local authorities can discover these people. An increase in salaries alone will not do it, although it will help to make the positions attractive. We must see if we can find some means by which persons who have an aptitude for inspiring youth are picked out and promoted. I am not sufficiently expert to say how this is to be done, but we really ought to see if we can tackle the problem.
I conclude as I began. This problem which now faces our country is one upon which depends not only our industrial future but the future of the Colonial Empire beyond the seas, where we have great responsibilities which we cannot escape.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Airey Neave (Abingdon)
I am grateful to be allowed, in the very few minutes remaining, to say one or two things on behalf of an industry in which I am specially interested. We are all very grateful to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) for introducing this subject, and we all doubtless appreciate the constructive approach which so many hon. Members have shown to the rôle of science.
The two points I want to put to my right hon. Friend relate to one of those very significant new industries which have been mentioned by other hon. Members, namely, the atomic energy industry. There are two points about which I want to ask my right hon. Friend. First of all, as he may be aware, there is an apprentices scheme in the atomic energy industry which at the moment has started in a small way. I think it involves only about 400 young men, but it will require the 674 assistance of the Ministry of Education in the development of outside courses—day release courses, for example—near the particular atomic energy establishments that are now being created in various parts of the country.
In connection with the apprentices at Dounreay, where there is a new experimental power station, at Harwell and at one or two other atomic energy plants, I would invite the Minister of Education to take the view that he should approach the Lord President of the Council with a view to collaboration on that point. The apprentices scheme might well be expanded, and certainly this may be a practical result of the imaginative proposals which we have heard from the Minister of Education today.
The second point is related to that. As far as the development of this new force is concerned, there are many complicated factors and, as hon. Members know, it will require very highly skilled people to run it. The technical colleges and institutions and the technical assistance to which the Minister of Education has referred here today, should, as far as this programme is concerned, be related to the siting of these establishments.
In places where there are atomic energy research establishments, particularly on the production side—and it may be that we have now reached the stage in atomic energy when the industrial side should be more supported—direct consideration should be given to special technical facilities. This is not to say that this particular industry should have special privileges in that respect, but that the siting of certain regional colleges that have been referred to, and the siting of the technical institutions that may be built in future, should, as far as this industry is concerned, relate to the geographical position of these atomic energy establishments.
I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) asked a number of Questions the other day on this point, because Dounreay is in his constituency and he is particularly interested. The field is immense. We have heard today, particularly from the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart), a reference to the fact that Bertrand Russell saw many years ago that we could either pervert 675 science to the path of evil or turn it to the path of good.
We now have a great opportunity, and perhaps this is the most significant and important debate that we have had for a very long time, certainly not less important than the debate on coal and power which we had yesterday. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to say a few words on the subject, and I would ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education to consider the two points I have made about atomic energy.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Palmer (Cleveland)
In the last few fleeting moments that are left in this debate before right hon. and hon. Gentlemen reply from the Front Benches, I want to say that most of the very wise speeches that we have heard today have been from educationists and those connected with education and teaching in the direct sense.
My experience, on the other hand, is rather that of the professional engineer who has not taught but rather has been taught at. I have been the poor victim at various stages of the educational process; for I took in my time that second broad path to which the Minister of Education referred, which was rather narrower then. I went by the grammar school and technical college route to the status of technologist, working by day and studying in the evening. That was before the days of the sandwich course or part-time day release. I cannot say that this discipline did me any particular harm, but that is for others to judge rather than myself.
I wish to express my agreement with the Minister when he said that scientific and technical education should be education in the real and true sense, which means education for life. I think there is a reason for that, which to my knowledge has not been mentioned in the debate today. We must not imagine that the engineer and technologist, certainly when in industry, is all the time making calculations, studying instruments and working his slide rule. He reaches in the end a stage when he is in a position of administrative responsibility. The engineer and technologist, when in a position of administration and management in industry, is responsible for the lives 676 of people and for managing human beings, and he must know something of human nature. Therefore, if he needs in his job to have a knowledge and understanding of human beings, his education at the earliest point should be of the broadest humanist kind and not merely technical.
I am wondering, now that this special new award for technologists is coming along, just what in future is to be the status and standing of the Higher National Certificate. Some of us know the history of that certificate. When it started it was intended to be a technician's qualification, but very soon it lost that lower quality of being a technician's qualification and was used, quite properly, by many as a way into membership of the professional engineering institutions. For a number of years now it has been essentially a technologist's rather than a technician's qualification.
In future, is the National Certificate to be entirely superseded by the new award, or is it to revert to a lower standard and to something of its original intention as a technician's qualification? I should like that practical point answered, because in the view of those of us engaged every day in industry the relationship of the new award to the Higher National Certificate is just as important as the relationship of the new award to a university degree.
Perhaps I might be allowed this final sentence, which is not intended to be of too strong a party nature. I am glad to see that the Ministry of Education is at long last showing signs of life in the field we are considering this evening; it is not too soon by any means.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The King of Brobdingnag expressed to Captain Lemuel Gulliver the view that he who could make two blades of grass grow where one grew before would have done more good than all the tribe of statesmen and politicians put together. That is an opinion which none of us, I suppose, politicians though we are, would venture to dispute, but we can comfort ourselves by considering that we obtain a certain reflected good in that by decisions we make on matters such as that which we have been discussing today, we may be able to give greater opportunities to the men whose technical knowledge and skill 677 can produce the second blade of grass, can make better use of some raw material, and can discover some way of lightening human drudgery.
That, after all, is the topic with which we have been concerned during the last five or six hours. The importance of it was very graphically put before the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu). My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) extended that theme and showed in how many fields of endeavour and how many parts of the world—here and in the Commonwealth—this question of the need for more scientifically trained people comes home to us and is of importance.
We are discussing the gigantic problem of the demand for labour. As the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) told us, in his very agreeable maiden speech, it is a very much happier subject to discuss than the melancholy topic of there being an over-supply of labour looking vainly for employment. While it is a much healthier problem than that which faced Governments and politicians in the 'thirties, it is, however, none the less a very obstinate and difficult one.
The more success we have in securing increased industrial investment, the more acute will this problem become. Every time that we are able to put more £ sterling worth into the making of machinery, the more do we face the problem that that saving and that money can be wasted unless we have an adequate supply both of people who can design and invent and of people who can operate and understand the processes that others have invented.
If we look at the history of the Industrial Revolution in its early stages, we find that very often the real addition to the wealth of the country did not come immediately after some new invention but often some twenty years later, and that the gap was due to the need to train a generation of people who could master and work the new process. Other countries whose industrial revolution occurred later than ours went through the same experience. Now, as my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) pointed out, we face a somewhat similar problem in the Colonial Empire.
When we speak, therefore, of a shortage of scientific manpower—it is not 678 necessary for me to add to what has already been said to stress the importance of the subject—we are speaking of manpower of many different types. I cannot describe the different types with the precision that some hon. Members who have more scientific knowledge than I have been able to do, but it is clear, even to a layman, that there is, for example, the person whom we can describe as the maker—the person who wrests some new secret from Nature, who discovers some new way of using a material, who makes some new material or discovers some new process: in other words, the research worker, the discoverer.
Then there is the operator, the person who, once that new machine, process or material has been designed, is capable of working it in a way that ensures that the original skill of the inventor is not wasted. Beside those two, there are many other types of people with varying degrees of scientific training whom we have in mind when we use the general blanket phrase "scientific manpower."
I should not like it to be thought that the two examples of scientifically-trained people whom I have mentioned are two exclusive and rigidly defined types. If one tries to classify different types of scientific workers, one finds that the types whom it is sought to classify merge into each other. I mention this to bring out the fact that the policy that we need for dealing with this question must be a policy affecting all stages of the educational system from the primary school to the university.
Some of the people whom we need are people who must continue their education to university stage. Some will make their direct and obvious contribution to production after leaving full-time education at an earlier date than the 22 or 23 years-of-age of the university graduate. Since we need so many different types of trained scientific worker, however, our educational policy on this matter must affect all stages of the educational progress. Indeed, our discussion has ranged over all those stages.
Let me say a word first, therefore, about the problem in the universities. It is common ground that we face a shortage of science graduates, and that the shortage of science teachers in the grammar schools and in other institutions is simply one aspect of a general shortage 679 of science graduates. We may be able to remedy that partly by an increase in the total student population in the universities. I believe, from what has been said, that we may expect the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to say something tonight, we hope something encouraging, on that problem.
It may be that the increase in the student population of the universities could be achieved by more generous financial provision to those who become students. We may consider what contribution, if any contribution at all, should be required in future from parents. That has been a topic on which a good deal of interest has been focussed recently, and perhaps the Financial Secretary will have something to say about it.
Beyond that, we know very well that we could get a bigger total student population at the universities if all the children who now go into grammar schools and who are capable of doing advanced work did in fact stay there and do it. We can also consider trying to increase the proportion of the student population at the universities who are pursuing science courses. If we are to do that, we must alter the general climate of opinion about the comparative worth of the scientific and the humanistic elements in education.
I am one of those who enjoyed—and I use the word "enjoyed" deliberately—a classical education. It would ill become me, therefore, to say anything to derogate from the value and delight that one can obtain from an education of that kind. We must clearly realise, however, that anybody who has pursued advanced education is bound to be something of a specialist. His education is bound to be either predominantly classical, or predominantly scientific or predominantly based on modern languages. We must clearly understand that one education can be just as good as another, whatever the subject on which it is predominantly based. That may seem too obvious a point to be worth labouring, but it is one not yet grasped by any means throughout our educational system.
I am afraid that it is true that among some head teachers of schools from which pupils go to universities there is a 680 tendency sometimes to sigh over the brilliant pupil who is going to read science and to feel what a loss it is to the classics and humanities. We must get rid of that conception. I say that as a classicist and one not wanting to depreciate the value of classical and humanistic studies. We must recognise that, just as one can have the narrow scientist, so one can have the narrow student of the classics, of history or of modern languages. Equally, just as one can have someone who has used his study of the classics or of history as the basis of a real education, so can someone use science as an equally good basis.
Another thing we must do if we are to increase the proportion of university students pursuing science courses is to get the universities themselves to consider whether the proportion of the scholarships which they offer in different subjects is really in line with the needs of the present time. I think that the point was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton that one must also ask them to consider how much there is to recommend in a course, leading to a general degree, containing both arts and science subjects. A course of that kind might take hold of a person who originally has had something of a leaning towards the arts but who could make, at not too advanced a level, a good teacher of scientific subjects. In that way, the universities could make some contribution towards the solution of this problem of the shortage of science students.
If we are to do this—and here I repeat a point which I made in the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech—the Government must look again at their relationship with the universities. The theory is that by means of the University Grants Committee at the Treasury one occasionally, surreptitiously, pushes a little money into the pockets of the universities, and that the universities, above all things, must be regarded as completely independent of the Government. Here we have matters in respect of which people interested in public affairs and members of the Government are increasingly saying "Universities must give attention to this." But have we got the right Departmental machinery for linking the educational needs of the nation and the actual policy being pursued in universities?
681 I turn to another part of the educational system, the technical colleges. I use that term deliberately and vaguely, because it covers over 200 institutions which provide courses of very varying nature, some much more advanced than others, but the contribution they make to the supply of scientific manpower is very great indeed. The contribution they make even in the most advanced work is probably at least as great as that made by the universities themselves.
It was undoubtedly one of the great advantages of this debate to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education a preview of the very interesting plan of which we are to hear more later in the year. The right hon. Gentleman has great charm of manner, so much so that one is almost convinced that the powerful pictures which he draws with his vivid imagination have already the substance of reality. But we must remember that, however well conceived these plans may be—and that is still under discussion—nothing will come of them unless there is a willingness to increase considerably the expenditure of technical education.
I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the very pertinent questions addressed to him by his hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) about what progress has been made in some of the plans that were adumbrated more than two years ago. It is by that kind of test that he will ultimately be judged.
As I understood the right hon. Gentleman's plan, we are to have on the one hand regional colleges doing advanced work so that students would, I presume, be full-time students and be doing, in effect, sandwich courses. It is for these advanced colleges that Lord Hives's Council will draw up a system of awards. The right hon. Gentleman has received much advice, to which I hope he will give his attention, as to the number of colleges which ought to be brought into that scheme, at any rate in the first instance.
Whatever attention he gives to that, I hope he will see to it that the status and the dignity of the award is preserved. It has to be something that is generally recognised as the equivalant of a university degree. Will it, for example, entitle its holder to go to a university and do post-graduate work there? That will be 682 one of the important tests of this matter, and unless the award has that kind of status I doubt if it will serve very much purpose.
What is to be the degree of independence that these colleges will enjoy? The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the importance of local interest in them. I do not think any of us will dispute that, but of course many of the universities in this country evoke a strong local loyalty and have a strong local interest. What we want to know about these colleges is whether they are going to be more like the technical college as we know it today or like the university? In the degree of independence that their governing bodies enjoy, which of these institutions are they going to resemble? That is a matter to which the right hon. Gentleman may already have a cut-and-dried answer but to which he will have to give careful consideration between now and the time when he outlines his plan to us in more detail.
Then, on the other hand, we are to have the local colleges doing less advanced work which would, I take it, be a definite part of the education development plan of the local education authority. At this stage it is rather easier for us to visualise what they would be like. Their students, I imagine, would mainly be part-time, many of them working by means of day release.
On that matter I express the hope that the day is not far distant when we can make the day release of persons who have finished full-time education a universal and compulsory practice. I regard that as among the things that ought to command a high priority in steps of educational advance. If we are to do that, however, or anything like it, the right hon. Gentleman will have to look again at the question of the supply of teachers. In view of some of the answers that he has given in the House, I am inclined to think that in this matter he has not fully realised what a demand the extension of adult education, both part-time and full-time, both cultural and technical, will make on the need for teachers. That is why I have been asking the Minister questions about the desirability of increasing now the accommodation in which people can begin to train as teachers. I beg him to look at that question again.
683 The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the importance of firing the imagination. He is quite right, but it is only of limited value to fire someone's imagination with a desire to become a technician, a technologist or a scientist, if he then finds he has to work in the kind of building described by the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates—working in the corridor or under the platform. So we shall judge the plan of the Minister very much by what progress is made in building, without which—although, as he says, we are dealing with persons and not merely with steel and bricks and mortar—he cannot realise his plan.
The right hon. Gentleman, of course, is well known as a man of great imagination. He once imagined a plan for reducing public expenditure by £600 million. I am happy to think that now he is in his present office his imagination is not moving along those lines. We do not grudge him the grandeur of his imagination, but I beg him to take the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) and not neglect doing, simultaneously with the formation of these great plans, certain minor things which he can do at once.
The Minister can consider how technical colleges are to be financed. I suggest to him that he looks at the way teachers' training colleges are financed to see whether something, by analogy with that, might not prove to be an answer to the problem of financing the technical colleges. He could also tidy up, once and for all, this tiresome business about county fees for technical students.
It is still possible for a young man to live in the area of one local education authority, work in the area of another, on his way home from work pass through the territory of a third, and, while doing so, to go by the doors of a technical college that runs an evening course of exactly the kind he wants, but to which he can only go if he pays more than he can afford since it happens to be in the area of an authority in which he neither lives nor works. That is the kind of thing that the Minister can have tidied up fairly quickly.
Now we must look at the foundation, the position in the schools, because after all it is in the schools that our young 684 people will be either attracted to or repelled from taking up a scientific career. To many of us it is a matter of regret that the general arrangement of our secondary schools today is so unfortunate. We all recognise that we want to attract children to a scientific career. If any of them are so inclined, we want to ensure that agreeable ways by which they can pursue it are open to them at once. However, what do we do? The first thing we do is to put them, at the age of all, through a selection procedure which nowadays nobody is prepared to defend and which we know perfectly well results in putting a good many of them in the wrong pen, even if it were right to divide them into separate pens at all. We lose a good deal of potential talent by muddling at the start in deciding to what kind of school the children ought to go.
We have drawn a good deal of our scientific manpower mainly from the grammar and technical schools. It is now accepted—the Minister and hon. Members have said it—that we must draw a great many scientists from the secondary modern school. I have been amazed and delighted at the amount which has been said about the great possibilities of the secondary modern school. The Minister himself described the very wide range of intellectual capacity which can be found in the secondary modern school and the great things which can be done with it.
The first trouble, however, is that it is very widely held that the child is in the secondary modern school because it has not been successful in getting anywhere else. The last thing that I should want to do would be to make any criticism of the splendid work done by the staffs of secondary modern schools, but is it not true that the members of the teaching profession whose talents lie not so much in classroom technique as in the pure academic side of the work will not look for employment in the secondary modern school?
In my judgment, a good school staff should contain some people—not a great many—who are really outstanding in the academic field, and if the secondary modern school is to do all the things which hon. Members, during the debate, have been asking that it should do, it ought to have a more varied staff than it has at present. What this amounts to 685 is that during the debate we have been asking that the secondary modern school shall become a comprehensive school. The Minister and the Government must again look at their attitude towards the comprehensive school if they want to get that part of the matter right. I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman is tied by his party in this respect, but some day somebody may arise in the Conservative Party who will put the needs of education before those rather hastily accepted views.
The evils of this selection at the age of 11 bear particularly heavily on the technical school. In the first place, there are not enough technical schools if we are to have the tripartite System at all. Secondly, many of them are so restricted in size that they can only accept pupils at the age of 13, which means that the least satisfactory results are obtained from the unsatisfactory selection procedure. The operation of the special responsibility allowances does not always work out fairly in the technical schools. If the Government are wedded to the tripartite system, they might look at these matters in order to help technical schools.
I come finally to a question on which I have touched previously, that of early leaven, and particularly early leavers from grammar schools. Let us recognise at once that this defect in our educational arrangements is getting smaller, for the situation is improving. Anybody who is inclined to suggest that the mass of the population, if offered educational opportunities or the amenities of the Welfare State, will not use them, should realise that the evidence is the other way.
Although the problem is getting less, it is still serious. Its seriousness was emphasised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington who quoted from Sir Samuel Gurney-Dixon's Report how it seems probable that of the intake of one year of 10,000 potential sixth-form students, 4,000 or more who might have been scientists were lost.
Let us carry our study of that a little further. Why were many of them lost? They were lost because of the growing conflict, as their school days went on, between what was required of them at school and what it was possible for them to obtain in home circumstances, in the home without enough room for books, without enough room for study, in the home where every year they went on in 686 school they became conscious more and more of the cleavage between the world of culture and education that school was offering them and what seemed to be possible in the narrow and cramped conditions of their own homes.
The remedies which Sir Samuel's Report proposed for this problem are very largely concerned with giving to the less fortunate sections of the population a chance for a fuller life at home as well as at school. That brings me to a general truth with which I shall conclude: that in order to solve this problem rightly we must have in general a more equalitarian society. It is a question not merely of turning out more trained scientists, but of making the education of everybody both more effective and more scientific in content.
Time and again in history civilisations have been hobbled and halted by the fact that they have failed to share with the mass of the population the graces and amenities enjoyed by the few at the top. We see here some reflection of that problem which has afflicted other civilisations very powerfully. It is in proportion as we share with all our people the opportunities, the graces and amenities of life that we shall get nearer to finding that mass of scientific knowledge and that body of scientific manpower which will enable us to sustain a satisfactory standard of living and standard of grace and leisure for us all.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Henry Brooke)
I intend to ignore the few intrusions of irrelevant party controversy into the debate and, on behalf of the Government, to thank all those who have taken part in it for the valuable contributions they have made. To the uninitiated, it may seem strange that the debate should be wound up by so improbable a Minister as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who himself, like the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), had a classical education.
I am standing here because, as the House knows, it is the Treasury, through the intermediary of the University Grants Committee, which feeds the universities with money. As for the educational side, for him as for me, our speeches will be the test of whether a classical education is in fact so narrowing and obsolete that 687 we cannot stretch our minds to comprehend the problems of the day. I was fortunate in the short time when I was a university teacher to have the opportunity of making the friendship of one of my seniors in the common room, Sir Harold Hartley, one of that band of scientists who has done more than most to bridge the gap between the scientific way of thought and the understanding of us ordinary people.
We look to such men in the science world who can take a broad view of the scientific horizon to keep all of us ordinary people alive and alert to the mammoth change which is going on. It was my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Tiley) who used that phrase, mammoth change. Let me tell him that we all enjoyed his maiden speech and, even from the Opposition side, he heard that nobody there wished to shorten the time that would elapse before he completed his remarkable constituency record by being re-housed in the constituency cemetery. He also made the valuable suggestion that industry might assist in this cause by contributing to the equipping of laboratories in schools. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education welcomed those words.
This is a very tough problem, but at any rate we all have a common interest. We are at a stage when industry, Government and the schools are all competing for a limited and inadequate supply of scientists; but let both industry and Government recognise that unless enough scientists are enabled to go to teach in the schools and unless there is sufficient equipment and facilities in the schools for the training of boys and girls as scientists, then we shall all, in the end, be defeated. The only possible solution is that our schools and universities shall be able to turn out more and more men and women—and I stress the word "women"—with a scientific training.
I say with respect that the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) took his opportunity most admirably in the interesting speech with which he opened the debate. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education has asked me to say that he would like to reply by letter or otherwise to a number of points 688 affecting his Department which have been raised by subsequent speakers. I say in passing in reference to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), that I am assured that the Minister of Education is already in touch with the Atomic Energy Authority on the matters to which he drew attention.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) asked why there were so few technical State scholarships compared with ordinary State scholarships. Perhaps I can clear up that matter straight away. The answer is that in the year 1954–55, 3,187 State scholarships were taken up, but of these about 60 per cent. were actually in scientific, engineering or technological subjects. The 120 technical State scholarships which he mentioned are really a separate category. They are additional awards tenable by those proceeding from institutions for further education to universities or other higher establishments for further education. The hon. Gentleman must not think that there were only 120 State scholarships in scientific subjects.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
Can the right hon. Gentleman clear up the point about the limitation? Is it still necessary to limit the number of 120? I understand that there is a limitation. Is that correct, and if so, is it necessary?
§ Mr. Brooke
That is a matter for my right hon. Friend. All I wanted to do was to destroy any idea which might otherwise go out, through the Press, that there were only 120 State scholars in technical subjects.
I thought that the hon. Member for Fulham was just a little unkind when he said that the Treasury occasionally and surreptitiously passed a little money to the universities. He will find from the Estimate that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is providing more than £32 million this year, which is a considerable increase on any previous year. The House knows my right hon. Friend well, and it will be appreciated that he, of all men, is one who recognises the contribution that the universities can, and must, make to the future prosperity of our country.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
I accept that I used a somewhat exaggerated phrase, but the right hon. Gentleman will remember that a few nights ago in the House the Treasury was getting more than £32 million pushed back to it as small change which the Service Departments did not want because they had not been able to spend it that year.
§ Mr. Brooke
That was two years ago and I was speaking of the current year. We are entering into a new world. The thing that troubled me in this debate was that some hon. Members were inclined to say, "Among the nations, we must not fall behind." I would rather say, speaking for the Government, that among the nations of the world we must be to the fore, and it is imperative not to take fright at change.
We are in fact a conservative nation and I am spelling "conservative" with a small "c." We quite well know that, as distinct from younger nations, we are slower to change, and we must speed up and all be ready to stretch our minds. The school staff rooms, the university common rooms, and, as the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) said, all ranks in industry must be quicker to adapt themselves. We must seek and secure flexibility and speed of adaptation based firmly on historical understanding of the real significance of the deeper changes that are in progress.
I, for my part, regard the supply of scientists and technologists as among the most crucial problems of our land. There is no other solution but to persuade larger and larger numbers of boys and girls to turn towards science in their education; and then, most important, not to break off that education prematurely. In spite of my own personal bias towards the arts side, I say that there are a great many young men and women taking arts courses in universities who could do more good to their country and to themselves if they were educating themselves in scientific subjects instead. But this must be done by persuasion; it cannot be done by compulsion. It is useless to say that the Government must produce larger numbers of science students.
My right hon. Friend, in his speech, set that in the right perspective. What we have to do is to influence and persuade, and I trust that this debate may serve some purpose in that direction. Our approach 690 here in Parliament to this shortage must be scientific and systematic, and I was grateful that, despite the wild words sometimes used outside, no one here today was inclined to speak in panicky terms.
I think that I can best help the House by devoting the rest of my speech to some figures which will help us to get ail this into the right perspective. There has, in fact, been a tremendous increase in the supply of scientists and engineers since the war. The annual output of graduates and people with higher national certificates and equivalent qualifications has gone up from 5,750 before the war to nearly 17,000 last year. The estimated number of graduate scientists in our working population has risen from under 50,000 in 1939 to nearly 80,000 today. There has been an even greater increase in the number of technologists. These are estimated to have risen from a little over 50,000 in 1939 to over 130,000 at the present time.
These numbers of scientists and engineers in the working population will continue to grow over the next ten years and more. Even if we take the pessimistic assumption that the annual rate of awards will remain static at the present level, which it will not, the number of graduate scientists in the population should increase to over 110,000 by 1965, while the number of technologists should rise to about 225,000. The reason why those estimates will be exceeded is that they make no allowance for the expansion of facilities at the universities and technical colleges, particularly for engineering and other technologies, which have been put in hand by the Government.
The trend shown in these figures is confirmed by the corporate membership of the main professional institutions, which have nearly, if not quite, doubled since the year before the war. Thus we are continuing to increase very fast the supply of technically-trained personnel. I grant at once that we are not yet satisfying the demand. Most of the technologists are, of course, employed in industry, but I wish to give figures which I think are of interest as to the employment of pure science graduates.
Such information as we have suggests that nearly one-third of these, 25,000 out of a total of 80,000, are employed in 691 teaching. About 12 per cent., some 10,000, are employed in the Civil Service and allied establishments, about half in the Defence Departments and the Atomic Energy Authority. There are also about 3,000 young post-graduate research workers. There are some scientists in the Armed Services and the remainder, about half of the total, are employed in industry.
The situation is that though one-third of the total number of working scientists is employed in teaching, not as much as one-third of those who are now graduating are going into the teaching profession, and that is one of the points to which we must pay attention. It is very difficult to collect comprehensive statistics about the demand for scientists and engineers, but there is abundant evidence, which has been confirmed today, that the demand is unsatisfied. As the House may know, the Government's Advisory Council on Scientific Policy has a standing committee on scientific manpower which keeps the numbers relating to long-term trends in supply and demand under constant review.
I wish to put into the right perspective the idea that we are falling further and further behind the foreign countries, because that is not so. The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation recently organised an inquiry, which shows, of course, that there is a shortage of scientific manpower almost everywhere. The comparison of the number of new degrees and similar qualifications in science and engineering in the various countries, expressed as a percentage of the working population, shows that the United Kingdom is, I grant, behind the United States. We have .8 per thousand of the population, whereas the United States has just over 1 per thousand. But on the other hand, we are ahead of most other Western European countries, with the exception of the Netherlands and, possibly, Germany.
I have, so far, been speaking of numbers, but I know the House would agree that it is equally necessary to pay attention to quality, and to maintain a high standard of quality, because it is no use simply turning out a large number of mediocre scientists and engineers.
Now I should like to bring up to date the announcement made in both Houses 692 in December of last year about the plans of the Government for the development of higher technological education. There are three main lines of development. The first is the building up of the Imperial College of Science and Technology in South Kensington. The second are the major developments at Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. At Glasgow and Manchester the developments are based on the Royal Technical College at Glasgow and the Manchester College of Technology, as well as on the Universities. Thirdly, there are developments upon a fairly large scale at Cambridge and Sheffield, and specialised developments at universities in other industrial centres, Bristol, Newcastle, Southampton and Swansea.
Already in 1953 the Chancellor had approved building starts totalling £1½ million for development schemes in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Glasgow; in 1954–55 approvals were given for £850,000 worth of starts; in the current year, 1955–56, for £1 million worth of starts—and I am able to inform the House this evening that the Chancellor has further agreed to another £1 million worth of starts next year. This will virtually complete the programme of development proposed by the University Grants Committee last year. The total amount of Government grant for schemes outside London for building only is, therefore, about £4,350,000. On top of that we must add about 35 per cent. for equipment and other costs, making a total cost of £6 million for these special schemes outside London. Even before the recent increase in academic salaries the additional recurrent grant to match these new developments outside London was estimated to be about £520,000 a year by 1956–57. That is an extra £520,000 a year for maintenance.
Reference has been made to the proportion of students in universities who were studying scientific and technological subjects. The number of full-time students in the universities in the autumn term of the university year which has just ended was 1,108 greater than in the previous year. Of this increase, technology accounted for 696 and pure science for 314—a total between them of 1,010, which is practically the whole of the increase; so the proportion is moving in the right direction.
693 If hon. Members will study Class IV of the Civil Estimates they will see some very interesting figures on pages 59 to 64 in connection with the work which has already been sanctioned. New schemes will be starting in the very near future—major schemes in Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Cambridge—and a further set of projects, constituting the 1956–57 programme, is now in the planning stage, all to start next year, at Cambridge, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southampton, and the Manchester College of Technology. I wanted to give those figures because they form the whole additional programme on which the Government have embarked—with, I believe, the entire good will of the House—in an endeavour to meet, at university level, the new needs which are arising.
§ Mr. Lee
In answer to a Question, I was told by the Minister of Works that last year about 5,500 university degrees were given in pure science and mathematics, and that about one quarter of the new graduates in pure science eventually go to teaching schools and universities and about half to industry. I should like to know what happens to the people who do neither of those things.
§ Mr. Brooke
A certain number go into Government service, and some go straight into their National Service, but I will pay attention to what the hon. Member has said.
Finally, I come to Imperial College, about which a number of hon. Members have spoken. I am not sure whether it is realised that this is a development of towering magnitude likely to cost in all some £15 million. It is a strange thing for the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to say, but there is no other single matter to which in the last 12 months I have given more of my attention or devoted more of my time. Things are going forward. The academic staff of the College has risen from 220 in 1952–53 to 304 in the next academic year. Full-time students are up from 1,653 in 1952–53, to 1,870 in the academic year just ended, which is an increase of 13 per cent.
The total expenditure on Imperial College in 1953–54 was just over £1 million, of which almost three-quarters came from the University Grants Committee via the University of London. Building work has been authorised, and 694 much of it is already in progress, to a total value of £4 million in connection with this great project—over £1 million on Imperial College itself, over £1 million on replacement building by London University for the purpose of helping to clear the site, nearly £1½ million of museum building also to enable museums now on the site to move, and some £600,000 for equipment and so forth.
I can assure the House that neither this building work that I have mentioned—this £4 million worth of building work—nor the academic expansion is being impeded by certain current difficulties to which reference has been made in this debate and in the Press, and to which I want frankly to refer.
The House will remember that, when the Imperial College development was first announced, it was explained that it would be necessary to release the whole of the remainder of the South Kensington site for this expansion of the College. It has become clear that to release the whole of the remainder of the site, as envisaged in that original statement, raises more formidable legal difficulties than had been originally appreciated, and I must inform the House that, in order to overcome these legal difficulties, it may be necessary for the Government to introduce enabling legislation after the Recess.
Next, I want to say that the Government have received representations from the Royal Fine Art Commission about the site and the plans for its development. The Government, in consultation with the University of London and the College authorities, are giving careful consideration to the views put forward by the Commission. While these matters are under discussion, I hardly think that I ought to say more. But I hope that the words I have used and the-spirit in which I have uttered them show that we are determined to press forward.
I have great sympathy with the governors of Imperial College, who are not seeing their later difficulties cleared away as quickly as they had hoped, but we for our part are determined to help them in every way we can, and we trust that they will not lose courage.
It is a vast project. There are bound to be difficulties in carrying out any £15 million scheme, but these difficulties are 695 not affecting the output of students from the College in the near future. We intend to overcome whatever difficulties remain.
For seven years before I became a Member of the Government, I had the privilege of serving on the Court of the University of London, a small body of some 15 or 16 people responsible for the finances of the University. I have, as it were, almost grown up with some of these problems. I do not want it to be thought that I should favour the University of London as against the others, but I can assure the House that all my sympathy is towards the University and the College in their difficulties, and I for my part, and also my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, wish to help.
§ It being Ten o'clock the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.