HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1084-109

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)

This Clause was referred to several times during the debate on Second Reading. It removes from the local authorities the duty of submitting detailed and formal schemes for certain types of education. Those types of education are types which I consider of great importance today. The first covers the whole range of part-time further education, and there is no more vital part of Scottish education today. Yet the Clause removes from the education authorities the duty of submitting schemes about it.

The second type consists of educational facilities as mentioned in Section 3 of the principal Act. They include many extremely necessary, useful and imaginative ventures in general social and recreational education—facilities such as playing fields, holiday camps, holiday classes, and so on. The third type of education affected by the Clause is special educational treatment in other than special schools.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State and the Lord Advocate, during the Second Reading debate, justified this change on the ground that it was very much a formality and that these types of education did not fit too well into any firm, permanent scheme of education. They said that in removing the necessity for education authorities to have to submit schemes they were not making any very serious change.

We are prepared to be convinced about this matter, but for the moment we feel very strongly that the Government must make a much better case for it than they did on Second Reading. It may be that this is only an administrative reform, but the kind of control exercised by the Department of Education over the local authorities, through the need to submit regular schemes, is a very important kind of control. Moreover, as the Joint Under-Secretary of State knows, the Department of Education is very conscious of the need, in further education in particular, to prod local authorities to make them move a very great deal faster than they are moving at the moment. In some respects, for instance, in apprentices' classes, we lag a generation behind England, as the hon. Gentleman knows. Many local authorities in Scotland are not as enthusiastic about this kind of education as they ought to be.

I should be most reluctant to see disappear from its hands any sort of administrative weapon which would help the Scottish Education Department to speed this process of further education, and that applies with equal force to other educational facilities. It seems to me that the Clause is very much a civil servants' Clause. It is something to make life a little easier for administrators, but the only test that we can apply to it as legislators is whether it will make any difference to the quality of the education which children will receive.

If it is true that further education and other aspects of education do not fit into the formal, normal schemes suitable for permanent primary education I should have thought that the answer was to arrange for schemes more flexible in their nature and not to abolish the duty to provide schemes. The provision in the Clause is very much as if a Government, faced with a crime wave, came to the conclusion that the law was inadequate and considered that the answer to the problem was to abolish the law.

The answer is to make an instrument more flexible and more appropriate to the particular problems of further education and training facilities. Surely that is the answer rather than to abolish the duty laid on local authorities to prepare schemes for the Scottish Education Department and to allow the Department some detailed knowledge of the kind of progress local authorities are making in these spheres of education. It is for these reasons that I seek the deletion of the Clause.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

During the Second Reading I expressed my dismay at the Government's decision to put forward this Clause. 1 may also have given some indication of being angry because the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who was given the responsibility of explaining to the House the reasons for the Government's decision, had not even taken the trouble to tell us anything at all about the change. If I can remember the hon. Gentleman's speech—and it is not a thing that I recall with any great delight—he picked out five main points in the Bill and Clause 2 was not one of them.

Personally, from my researches, I believe that the Clause comprises one of the more important changes made by the Bill. Those who heard my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) stating that he is in favour of the complete rejection of the Clause should be warned as to what it might do and what might well be implicit in it.

Section 1 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, lays down that local authorities shall have certain duties of providing primary, secondary and further education. Section 7 of that Act lays down how those duties are to be exercised. The Clause which we are now discussing is an amendment of Section 7, which states that in respect of certain spheres of education that duty of submitting schemes for approval, modification or rejection by the Secretary of State shall not be effective.

I know that the Secretary of State or the Joint Under-Secretary will say that this in no way changes the duty of a local authority to provide education in these respects. That may well be so, but it removes from the local authority not just the right but the actual duty—and the word "duty" is used in Section 7 of the principal Act. Therefore, by means of this Clause the Government are removing from local authorities the duty of submitting schemes and of demonstrating to the Department how they propose to exercise the duty laid upon them.

It means that the Government are saying to the local authorities, "You do not need to bother about submitting the schemes. You do not need to bother about carrying out the duty laid upon you in Section 1 of the 1946 Act, and if you do anything you do not need to let the Department know about it." The Joint Under-Secretary appears to indicate dissent, but he should read the full implications of the Clause. How will he know what the local authorities are doing in respect of these aspects of education unless the schemes are submitted? He is discarding his supervisory powers over the schemes.

The Clause states that The functions of an education authority under the foregoing provisions of this Act shall be exercised in accordance with schemes prepared as hereinafter provided and approved by the Secretary of State … Yet, under Clause 2, in respect of these aspects of education no schemes are prepared for submission, and the Secretary of State will know nothing about them. The House of Commons will know nothing about them later on, because information about them will not appear in the Department's Report on Education in Scotland.

No responsibility will be laid upon the local authority to give details to the central Department. The Government are showing the appalling consistency of the Tory Party in adopting a negative attitude to education. They cannot say that they are encouraging these aspects of education when they say to the local authorities, "You do not need to bother to make schemes, or when you do have schemes you do not need to let us know about them. We do not want to be bothered with them." This is a case not only of telling the local authorities not to prepare schemes, but of the Secretary of State saying, "Do not worry me with them." He has at present the power to demand that the authorities make schemes if they do not already do so and submit those schemes to him, but now he is saying, "Do not send the schemes to me." Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is throwing away one of his own supervisory powers.

What is involved here is very important. It is the definite discouragement of developments which were hitherto considered by Scotsmen to be important branches of Scottish education. I cannot see how all this fits in with the explanation of the purpose of the Bill which is to remove the difficulties that hamper the administration and hinder the development of Scottish education. How will the Clause help the development of education when it actually discourages local authorities from playing their full part and from letting the Department and the country know what is happening?

One of the developments affected by the Clause relates to voluntary part-time or full-time courses of instruction for persons over school age. The Department's Report on Education in Scotland in 1955 shows the kind of thing involved and what the local authorities do, of which the Government will have no knowledge in future. It is not something that affects only a few people. The number of voluntary part-time students rose by over 5,000 last year to 225,000. Report after Report, year after year, shows that the central Department has been driving the local authorities to do more. That drive was based on the knowledge of what they were doing, or failing to do, by the schemes presented. How is the Scottish Education Department to continue this work if it does not know what local authorities are doing?

4.30 p.m.

What is involved in this part-time and full-time voluntary education? As I see it, all day releases are involved as well because they are voluntary. It does not mean merely subjects such as dressmaking, but science, mining, social studies and leadership training, because these are voluntary full-time courses.

One of the major problems of today is the development of technical education, and voluntary full-time courses have always played a considerable part in Scottish education through continuation in evening classes and today through voluntary daily leave. Yet the Government are playing down its importance at a time when they should be stressing it. I am appalled by the attitude taken up by the Government and by the explanations that have been given.

The Report of the Secretary of State for Scotland for this year states, in regard to day releases : This method of training … is still not widely enough adopted and more general support from industry would enable the numbers to be expanded at an even greater rate. This needs more support from the Government, indeed from the Secretary of State, who wants to free himself from certain of the obligations which Parliament has placed upon him to ensure that we get adequate facilities in respect of voluntary education both part-time and full-time.

Then there is the leisure-time occupation. Anyone who has read the Report and has seen the work that is being done and the praise given to it, must question the wisdom of the course suggested by the Government who are adopting this Pontius Pilate act, washing their hands of it, saying, in effect, "It does not matter to us, the duty is there but, in the exercise of it, do not bother us, do not let us know what you are doing."

The Report refers to the provision of facilities for recreation. This is important, especially when we have been trying to build, with new junior secondary schools, a completely different type of education based upon the abilities of the pupils and to meet their varying enthusiasms. We know what is being done in the provision of holiday camp schools and of treks, which provide considerable education. Ayrshire has been providing such things for junior secondary and senior secondary schools at the summer school at West Lynton. I can remember particularly one in which Ayrshire children joined with French children. They are of inestimable value, but they are covered by this Clause.

The Government cannot adopt the attitude of not wanting to know what is being done and at the same time proclaim in the Report that this is work which should be developed elsewhere by other local authorities. It may be expensive, but it is worth while. We have only to read what is stated in page 48 to appreciate the value of the recreational, social and physical training which is being given, not only by the local authorities themselves, but by the local authorities in co-operation with voluntary organisations. The fact that this is difficult work is probably all the more reason why it should be undertaken. And let us remember that this is not work in connection with further education, but in relation to pupils still attending primary and secondary schools.

In my opinion, schemes ought to be submitted to the Secretary of State, and the right hon. Gentleman ought to exercise his supervisory duties in this respect. It may well be that he has taken over further duties in past years which might have been better carried out by other and more technical Departments, but in relation to this traditional duty the Minister should be exercising his responsibilities fully and not handing them over.

In page 54 of the Report there is further evidence of the importance of this job at a time when the Department is saying, in connection with voluntary leisure-time occupations, "Well, this is going down but, thank goodness, last year it went up." The Report states : The increase of enrolments in non-technical courses is to a large extent due to the revival of interest in the study of liberal subjects normally comprised in the term Adult Education. Yet, instead of following that by a drive towards better and more widespread adult education, the Secretary of State says, in effect, "Do not bother us with schemes about it."

That is playing down the importance of adult education and is discouraging it. If ever there was a time when the help of the Secretary of State and of the Department was required, it is now, when we have so many distractions from a physically and mentally active life in our community, such as television. The Secretary of State should be playing his part in trying to speed a revival of interest in more liberal aspects of adult education. When we have a Government in one week issuing special leaflets about buying Premium Savings Bonds, and in the next week presenting a Bill telling us that adult education does not really matter, we begin to get this Government into perspective and to see the things that really matter to them. It is appalling that in this day and age the Government should be playing down this type of education.

I have only one other point to make. It concerns special educational treatment, which is referred to in paragraph (c) of this Clause. I suggest that the Government should get busy and make some necessary amendment in this respect. If they had been doing then-job properly, the Government would have amended Section 1 (4) of the original Act which states : Special educational treatment shall be given in special schools approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose, or by other means so approved. If these words are to be left in, as I gather they are, they will have no meaning, because this paragraph (c) refers to "special educational treatment other than in special schools", which means that these words are redundant.

I should like an explanation of what is meant by the words "other than in special schools". We have a fairly forward-looking report of what is happening in relation to the treatment of pupils who have to be dealt with in special schools and other types of schools which may not come within the definition of special schools. I hope sincerely that there is to be no cutting down of the facilities used to help such handicapped children.

I should have thought that the Government would have been trying in every way possible to relieve the burden upon parents in respect of such ineducable children, and in helping them out in other ways, even by encouraging local authorities to try personal means in some respects. But the Government are saying, "Do not burden us with information about what you are doing." At a time when we complain that there is too little experiment in Scottish education the surest way in which the Government or the Department can get to know what people are doing in Scotland is by making them submit these schemes so that we, in this House, can have the benefit, as we do in the Report, of knowing what is being done in specific areas.

I am appalled that hon. Gentlemen opposite can sit there and take this in silence, as they did the other day. Under the Clause, local authorities are in future to go their own sweet way in education and not to worry the Department of Education. In the long run it will mean that we ourselves are discouraging those aspects of education of which we have hitherto thought so highly.

Mr. Hector Hughes

I am opposed to this Clause. I believe that to leave Clause 2 in this little Bill would impair the educational system of Scotland. It would be a change for the worse and would impair the work of the great Education (Scotland) Act, 1946.

Previous speakers have dealt with the Clause on its merits, or rather its demerits, but there are other objections to it. One is that Clause 2 is a horrible example of legislation by reference, which all lawyers, good legislators and good administrators deprecate. It is unduly complicated, while the Section which it seeks to eliminate is very simple and straight-forward. This Clause would be difficult to administer. It is an objectionable Clause which seeks to alter Section 7 (1) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, in undesirable ways.

How undesirable those ways are was evidenced by the Lord Advocate himself when, on Second Reading, he spoke on this phase of the Bill and said the Clause was "complicated and troublesome." When he was asked for an explanation of it he rode away by saying that to explain it would keep the House here interminably.

That is very bad. Legislation should not be of that character. It should be clear and concise, easily intelligible and capable of explanation, and readily administered. Otherwise it becomes, as this Clause has become, bad, opaque, difficult to construe and difficult to administer.

What does Clause 2 do? It seeks to eliminate Section 7 (1) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946. That Section indicates that provision shall be made of educational facilities to be in accordance with schemes. Subsection (1) of it is simple, straightforward and useful. It reads : The functions of an education authority under the foregoing sections of this Act shall be exercised in accordance with schemes prepared as hereinafter provided and approved by the Secretary of State under section sixty-five of this Act. Nothing could be more concise, more straight-forward or more intelligible than that.

4.45 p.m.

If we turn to Section 65, we find that it provides for the Approval and carrying out of schemes. That, also, is clear, intelligible, concise and easily administered. It should be noted that Section 7 (1), unlike this objectionable Clause 2, is not legislation by reference to other statutes ; it just says what it means.

Clause 2 would change all that. It would substitute a new and almost unintelligible Clause, characterised by obscurity of meaning, cross-references and difficulties of operation. Clause 2, to which we object, contains 14 lines, and in those 14 lines it makes five different cross-references and refers to three exceptions. To glean its meaning one must look backwards and forwards to other legislation. That in itself is objectionable.

One of the two principal references is to Section 1 (5) of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, which also is clear and useful and which deals with further education. It deals with compulsory part-time and full-time courses of instruction, voluntary part-time and full-time courses of instruction and voluntary leisure-time occupation. The second reference is to Section 3 of the 1946 Act, which deals with Facilities for recreation and social and physical training. The outstanding defects of Clause 2, to which we object and which our Amendment seeks to eliminate, are its admitted obscurity—admitted by the Lord Advocate—its cross-references, the fact that it is unnecessary and the fact that it seeks to do what is already done in a better way in the principal Act.

For those reasons I hope that the Committee will reject this objectionable Clause. It is the duty of any Government to prove that legislation which it presents to the House is necessary, useful and intelligible. As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said, that was not done in this case on Second Reading. It is the duty of the Government to do it now.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

I gathered from the attitude of the Joint Under-Secretary of State and from one or two interjections which he made that he dissociated himself very largely from the case put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). In view of his attitude, I do not propose to advance my own views, but I feel it incumbent upon me to put the view of perhaps the greatest education authority in Scotland—the Glasgow Education Authority.

Its view on this Clause has been stated to me by its Deputy-Director, who looks after the legal side of the educational work of the authority in addition to his other duties. I will quote his view, which was given to me within the last few days. It is that Clause 2 means that : Under the Bill it is now unnecessary for the Education Committee to incorporate in their formal schemes of education (a) the provision for voluntary part-time and full-time courses of instruction for persons over school age, and voluntary leisure-time occupations in such organised cultural training and recreative activities as are suited to their requirements for persons over school age. I think that is in keeping with what was; said by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, and I gathered from the Joint Under-Secretary of State that he did not see eye-to-eye with my hon. Friend on that point. The quotation continues : … facilities for recreative and social and physical training under Section 3 of the 1946 Act. That, again, was a point which my hon. Friend made when he was condemning the Clause. Finally : … special educational treatment other than in special schools. These are the three points made by Glasgow Education Committee in its interpretation of this Clause. It is on those three issues that we condemn the Clause.

Of course, it is claimed that the Clause has a good aspect, in that it liberates the education committees from the thralldom of the Secretary of State for Scotland. It now gives an education committee more power to go ahead on its own without the control at present exercised. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is, to my mind, a debatable point. I believe that my own education authority will continue to act as it is acting now in carrying out this part of our educational work, and that many of the local authorities also will in no way abandon their efforts to carry on this work.

Nevertheless, I should be very dubious about the attitude of a great many Scottish local authorities, if this paternal or beneficent control of the Scottish Office were withdrawn, and were it possible for those authorities to deal with this part of education without the House of Commons having any knowledge of what was going on. At the moment we are kept fully informed, but if the bonds are loosened, then it is extremely doubtful whether we shall have in future such information about what is happening in this sphere of education as we have had in the past, and that would be most unfortunate.

We have always encouraged people to take these courses, and we have spent a great deal of money in sustaining them. I have had a considerable amount of experience of that type of work. It needed the complete backing and cooperation of the local authority to get this work going and to continue it on its progressive way. I do not wish to see that support weakened by the fact that it will become a job which they can do if they see fit and which they do not need to do if they feel that it will cost the ratepayers too much money. The Scottish Office and the Secretary of State do not seem to be very anxious about them doing it at all. That is the sort of impression which I feel may gat abroad about the intentions of the Scottish Office as contained in the Clause.

These could be put across by arguing that our local authorities will be given more power than at present. That argument is being advanced, and it will win support; but in the long run we want to see a pattern which does not just apply to one or two areas but to the whole of Scotland. We want to see this type of education pursued as actively in the remote parts of Scotland as in the highly industrialised areas. There is a danger that, if the Clause is adopted in its present form, there will be a weakening of the effort directed towards sustaining these classes and making them better known and more popular among Scottish students.

I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State will make clear that that is not the intention and, if it is not, that he will see that words are inserted into the Clause which are at present lacking, and which would make it perfectly clear that the intention of the Government is what we have been advocating from this side of the Committee.

Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)

I wish to support the arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin). During the Second Reading debate I voiced my suspicions about what was intended in Clause 2 of this Bill, and further reading of it since the comparison with the original Act has not in any way diminished those suspicious. If one has regard to the words in page 2, line 19 where certain exceptions are made, it can be seen that the functions relate to paragraphs (a) and (b) in the Clause and that in the original Act further education includes, in subsection (5) compulsory part-time and in exceptional cases full-time courses of instruction.

Why is the distinction being made between compulsory part-time and in exceptional cases full-time instruction when it is only voluntary part-time courses and voluntary leisure occupation courses which are affected by the amended Bill? I think that an important point to make. It would appear that the Government are prepared—at least it would lend weight to the argument—to do only that which is under compulsion and are not prepared to pay the same attention to voluntary matters. Section 3 also excludes the duty placed on local authorities to provide adequate facilities—

The Temporary Chairman (Sir Norman Hulbert)

Order. The hon. Member must not discuss Clause 3.

Mr. Hannan

I beg your pardon, Sir Norman, I am referring to Section 3 of the original Act. If I did not make that clear, it is my fault.

Under that Section the local authority has the duty of providing adequate facilities for recreational as well as physical training. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) indicated that that includes making playing fields, play centres and gymnasia available for persons for whom and to whom these facilities could be of some benefit. But it is not merely for adults. These facilities are also provided for pupils at junior and secondary schools. Therefore, the provision in the Bill represents a deterioration in educational standards.

5.0 p.m.

Turning to special educational treatment, I should like this point clarified. I should like to know, for example, whether the Eastpark Home, in the Mary-hill constituency, comes under the category of "special schools" or whether the special facilities which are provided within that home will be in any way attacked, or the services offered there will deteriorate? Until comparatively recently the interests and talents of children which were thought to be worth while developing through education were rather circumscribed, and even up to the beginning of this century they consisted of very little more than a day's examination in a few bookish subjects. But we have now come to see that these other interests, in physical training, camps and the rest, should be included in order to meet the various needs of the children and provide for them a wider scope in life.

We have to remind the Joint Under-Secretary that some of us are rather suspicious because of a speech which he made six years ago, in which he talked about the frills of education, and he made no bones about his attitude then. It may be that now that he has the opportunity of doing something about it he is translating his ideas into the present Bill.

I hope that he will endeavour at least to give an answer to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Govan. Does the explanation offered by the Deputy Director of Education in Glasgow mean what he says it means? Does it mean that it now becomes unnecessary for local authorities to provide these schemes? Will he state positively what is the Government's attitude to further education as a whole? Some of us are not prepared to see any more deterioration in educational standards, and now that we have the opportunity of voicing the opinion of a great local authority like Glasgow, we want an answer clearly given.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Henderson Stewart)

This has been a very useful debate—

Mr. Ross

It has not been a debate.

Mr. Stewart

—a very useful discussion, then. I was hoping to be polite to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). I hope that he will allow me to continue. It is valuable to the community to have this matter discussed, and I am glad to have an opportunity to answer some of the questions put to me. I do not think that we are in any doubt about what we are discussing ; we are discussing whether we should continue to require a local authority to include in its scheme—this special word "scheme" ; this written document—its proposals and plans for voluntary further education for people over school age ; for recreational work for people within school age; and for children who need special attention. Those are the three groups.

There is no question whatever of the Government backsliding in this matter, or allowing any local authority to backslide. On the contrary, everything that the Government have done up till now is a clear proof that that is not so, and local authorities have recognised that we are intensely anxious to develop all those sides of education.

I suppose that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock is entitled to criticise the Government, but he really has not been following events in recent years. I met his authority, together with other authorities, not very long ago. I have met all the regional advisory councils on technical education in Scotland—not the other day, but six months ago—and I have met all the leading authorities and have urged them, as hon. Members know very well, to take every possible action to advance this kind of work. There is every proof that the Government are absolutely sincere in this matter and are demanding from the authorities a far greater pressure of work than was ever exercised before. I ask the Committee to believe that we are absolutely sincere and genuine about this.

The only question is whether, from an administrative point of view, the best way to ensure that those activities are continued, and to be certain—as the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) put it—that we get the information, is to continue to insist upon what we call "schemes," or to adopt some other means. The other day I tried to explain this matter to the House, and I shall try to explain it further to the Committee. Let us consider the great authority of Glasgow. I was not able to take down the quotation of the words of the Deputy Director, but if my impression of what he said is correct I entirely agree with him. Schemes are not necessary in the case of the three classes to which I have referred. That is what is in the Bill.

Hon. Members opposite may have gone wrong in the assumption that because we no longer require the operations of local authorities to be included in schemes we no longer require them to report to us. That is not so. I invite the Committee, and especially the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, who claimed to have given a lot of study to this matter, to look at Section 3 of the 1946 Act, which is referred to in paragraph (b) of the Clause, which says : such facilities as are mentioned in section three of this Act … If he looks at the fourth line in Section 3 of the principal Act he will see that it says that : For that purpose an education authority, with the approval of the Secretary of State may do this, that and the other thing—that is to say, everything that it does under what we cover by paragraph (b) in the Clause must obtain the prior approval of the Secretary of State. Nothing at all is altered in the realm of duty. I invite the hon. Member—

Mr. Ross


Mr. Stewart

I hope that the hon. Member will be so kind as to allow me to make my speech. I am not afraid of his interruption, but I am not going to be put off my stride by him.

I invite him to look further, on the same point, to Section 1 (4) of the principal Act. There we get exactly the same thing again. This is referred to in paragraph (c) of the Clause. Subsection (4) says : Special educational treatment shall be given in special schools approved by the Secretary of State … That again means that a local authority has imposed upon it a duty to let us know what it has in mind, and to obtain our approval. Nothing can be done without our knowledge. There is therefore no change, except administratively.

Mr. Woodburn

What the Joint Under-Secretary has said is very reasonable. All these powers are there. But he has not explained why he is taking out the scheme. Can he define the word "scheme"? What is the objection to a scheme? It seems to me to be a way of letting the Secretary of State know in advance what will happen.

Mr. Stewart

I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman. I was trying to show at this point that the fear expressed by the hon. Member for Govan, in what I regarded as a very reasonable speech, is not well founded.

The Committee need have no fear whatever as to there being any change in the duties imposed upon local authorities. They must continue to do precisely what they are doing now. The only question is with regard to the way in which they do it. At present that duty has to be carried out in the form of a scheme. As I said during the Second Reading debate, a scheme is a long document. No doubt some hon. Members have examined those schemes and seen what they involve. They are very lengthy and detailed documents.

Such documents, detailed and permament, are all right for primary and secondary education, because after all these years we have reached a sort of stability with regard to them. Of course, there are changes from day to day. A new scheme may be put up and it may have to be somewhat amended, but in broad particulars it has a certain stability. But in further education, as the Committee will well understand, there is constant change, constant fluidity.

I am giving the Committee the experience, not only of the Department, but of the authorities. Education authorities have not found it possible to carry out their duties through the normal method of a scheme, so what have they done? What they have done in the last five or ten years—this is history—and what they are now doing, what Glasgow and Fife now do, in the realm of further education and of these other matters, is to say to us, "Look, this is our programme for the next year. Do you agree to it?" We agree.

The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) was quite right : it is the same idea as a scheme, but it has not the formality of a scheme. Both the authorities and the Department are quite clear that the necessity for a formal scheme in this kind of fluid work is putting upon the authorities and upon the Department a responsibility and a task which is unnecessarily heavy. As I say, in the past three years the authorities have never been in any trouble. Sometimes they have had to write to us for approval of ad hoc schemes.

I will turn for a moment to a point raised by, I think, the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) who very properly drew attention to paragraph (c) which refers to special educational treatment other than in special schools. May I say, first, that the school in Glasgow to which the hon. Gentleman referred will not be altered in any way? Its duties and tasks will be just the same.

The child with whom we are concerned is the child who cannot be treated in an ordinary special school or in a special class of another school. It is the child who is particularly handicapped. As I am sure some hon. Members know, from time to time Scottish authorities send their children to schools outside Scotland altogether. I have in front of me a list of eight schools in England to which specially handicapped children in Scotland are sometimes sent for treatment. If the Committee would like me to do so I will give one or two examples. They are rather tragic cases, which have impressed themselves particularly upon the local authorities in Scotland. Good work is being done in that direction.

Special training or special care is sometimes provided in a hospital or in the child's own home as well as in these special establishments. In all these cases the local authorities have written to us for ad hoc authority and approval so that, in practice, we are not really making any change at all. We have never been able to have schemes. Not since the time in office of the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire has there ever been a scheme for further education or for compulsory further education.

I now come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Maryhill. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are not yet ready to introduce compulsory further education. There is a later Amendment on the Amendment Paper on this point, so I need not develop it now. When we come to the point of introducing compulsory release on one day a week, for which I personally am intensely anxious, there will be no difficulty about drawing up schemes, because the education authorities will have the applications and will know the numbers. What makes it difficult now is the fact that this is voluntary.

I quite understand the anxieties of hon. Members, but I hope that I have dispelled their suspicions and explained why we are doing this. In these circumstances, and giving hon. Members the absolute assurance that we are intensely keen about this matter and that this Clause will in no way hinder but rather help the good work being done in this direction, I invite the hon. Gentleman opposite not to press for the rejection of the Clause.

5.15 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I am quite certain that we on this side of the Committee cannot in any way agree with the final sentence of the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland when he says that Clause 2 will really help rather than hinder the work. My hon. Friends who have spoken in favour of the deletion of the Clause have given many reasons why they wish to see it deleted. It seems to me that the Joint Under-Secretary has given no real reason for the Government wishing to retain the Clause.

The first part of the Clause deals with further education. Section 1 (5) of the principal Act contains paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). Clause 2 deals only with paragraphs (b) and (c). Under paragraph (a) the education authorities will still have to provide schemes for compulsory part-time, and, in exceptional circumstances, for full-time courses. That is one of the reasons why we on this side of the Committee are suspicious of the Government's motive in putting the Clause in the Bill. We feel that the matters on which education authorities are now no longer going to be asked to provide schemes are very important matters indeed. I wish to draw the attention of the Joint Under-Secretary of State to paragraph (c) of Section 7 (7) of the principal Act. There, we are told : In the preparation of any scheme for further education, an education authority shall have regard to such of the following considerations as may be relevant. Quite a number of considerations are listed. Paragraph (c) says that education authorities are to have regard to the need for securing the adequate provision of technical education and, keeping in view the requirements of the crafts, industries, commerce and other employments in the area. Surely the Joint Under-Secretary knows as well as we on this side of the Committee that much of that type of education is voluntary on the part of the students, on the part of the boy or the girl leaving school at 15 years of age and going to a night school. It seems to us to be of the greatest importance that the status of that kind of education should be no lower than the status of what is called compulsory part-time education. If we are taking from the education authorities the onus of making schemes, then, indeed, we are making a difference between compulsory part-time education and voluntary education.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I think the hon. Lady may be under the impression that we are stopping something which is happening at the moment. That is not so. There never has been a scheme, not even in her time, which included these three matters. That is not possible and never has been possible. We are recognising a dead letter and saying that if it cannot be done in one way it will be done in another. I hope that is clear.

Miss Herbison

But the Minister must also be clear that he is amending the principal Act in such a way that there will no longer be any onus on education authorities to provide schemes. Until the passing of the Bill, education authorities have a responsibility under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, to provide such schemes. It may be that they have had difficulty in providing them—the Minister gave examples. We are willing to accept that there are difficulties, but that is all the more reason why the education authorities should try to overcome them. The acceptance of Clause 2 will mean that education authorities will not have to attempt to overcome those difficulties, and consequently voluntary part-time education will have a status lower than that of compulsory part-time education.

The making of a scheme—and I know something about this from my work as a teacher—means that certain people have given a great deal of thought to the matter and have said to those who are to carry out the work, "This is what we want provided in voluntary part-time education." What guarantee have we that, if they do not have to make a scheme, the same thought will be given to voluntary part-time education that we demand for compulsory part-time education?

It is because we have these grave fears and because the Joint Under-Secretary in his Second Reading speech and today has not dispelled these fears, that we are still convinced that the Clause ought to be deleted and the principal Act left as it is.

Mr. Rankin

The Joint Under-Secretary has told us that at present education committees are not preparing schemes.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

They have gone on strike.

Mr. Rankin

That is another matter. They are not preparing formal schemes and are not submitting schemes to the Department, although it is laid down in the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, that they shall. Recognising that no schemes are being prepared, the Government have introduced a Bill incorporating a Clause which says that no schemes shall be prepared, that it is not necessary to do something which is not being done. That is rather involved. Nevertheless, it will be a legal fact, if the Bill is approved, that it will not be necessary to do something which nobody is doing. It seems to me that the easiest and simplest way of dealing with the problem would be to leave it alone.

Miss Herbison

The Joint Under-Secretary has said that there were ad hoc schemes.

Mr. Rankin

We will not introduce Latin, because that will bring even more difficulties. At the moment no formal schemes are being prepared. It would have been far better to have left in operation the present method under which a director of education sends a sort of omnibus statement to the Department at the beginning of every term detailing the schemes it is proposed to have.

Why change that? In disturbing that situation the Government are loosening the bond between the Secretary of State and the local authorities. That is a retrograde step and I hope that it will be reconsidered. There is still time and if there is not as much time as the Joint Under-Secretary could wish, then that is not our fault, but that of the Government. The Clause is not essential and no harm will be done to this little Bill if the Clause is dropped and the status quo remains, because, on the showing of the Joint Under-Secretary, it has been satisfactory.

Mr. Ross

I intervene for a short time only because I was not permitted the courtesy of being allowed to make an interruption while the Joint Under-Secretary was in full flow. I do not blame him, because he was on a somewhat sticky wicket at the time. He was trying to say that we need not worry about what is happening, because there will still be provision for seeking the approval of the Secretary of State. He pointed out that Section 3 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, said : For that purpose an education authority, with the approval of the Secretary of State,… must do so and so.

Surely he realises that the words in Section 7 of the principal Act, the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, which he proposes to delete, are : The functions of an education authority under the foregoing sections… shall be exercised in accordance with schemes prepared as hereinafter provided and approved by the Secretary of State.… That provision is being wiped out. I want to know what provision there now is for the obtaining of approval.

The position is very unsatisfactory. If approval must be obtained under Section 3, what about the other Sections in which approval is not even mentioned? "Further education" is described in paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 1 (5). Approval is not mentioned there. The Joint Under-Secretary has been too clever by half. He has told us that what has been done up to now has been all right. Nobody has complained of what has been done, but the fact that everything has been going on reasonably well hitherto is no guarantee that in changed circumstances it will continue to do so.

We are complaining about the removal of the necessity to put forward schemes and the responsibility of the Secretary of State to see that the schemes are adequate

and that they are submitted. The Joint Under-Secretary said that the position was all right with primary and secondary education, because there there was a certain amount of stability. If that is true and this argument is applicable only for adult education, why does he insist on the removal of Section 3 which relates not only to adult education, but to primary and secondary education as well? He has tripped on his own arguments about stability and fluidity. We are prepared to agree that it may not be necessary for formal schemes to be prepared, but it is no answer to the difficulty for the Joint Under-Secretary to say that he is getting ad hoc schemes, which means, of course, that the Department knows what the authorities are trying to do. He is removing the necessity to submit schemes for approval or modification and putting nothing in its place. That is the difficulty and danger.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State is laying the way open for local authorities to discourage people who have been advancing education, especially adult education. He is doing no service to Scottish education. He fails to realise that he is taking away a duty from the education authority and a responsibility from the Secretary of State. That makes us suspicious, especially when we set it against the background of the Tory attitude to education. I hope that my hon. and right hon. Friends will not let this matter go lightly.

Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill :—

The Committee divided : Ayes 185. Noes 126.

Division No. 291.] AYES [5.30 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Boyle, Sir Edward Dance, J. C. G.
Alport, C. J. M. Braine, B. R. D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Braithwalte, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Deedes, W. F.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Digby, Simon Wingfield
Arbuthnot, John Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.
Armstrong, C. W. Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Doughty, C. J. A.
Atkins, H. E. Campbell, Sir David Drayson, G. B.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Carr, Robert du Cann, E. D. L.
Barber, Anthony Channon, H. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)
Barter, John Chichester-Clark, R. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Cole, Norman Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Enroll, F. J.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Cooper, A. E. Farcy-Jones, F. W.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Fell, A.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Corfield, Capt. F. V. Fisher, Nigel
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Fletcher-Cooke, C.
Bishop, F. P. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)
Body, R. F. Crouch, R. F. Freeth, D. K.
Boothby, Sir Robert Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) George, J. C. (Pollok)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Cunningham, Knox Gibson-Watt, D.
Gower, H. R. Leather, E. H. C. Raikes, Sir Victor
Grant, W. (Woodside) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Ramsden, J. E.
Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Rawlinson, Peter
Green, A. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Renton, D. L. M.
Gresham Cooke, R. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Ridsdale, J. E.
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Rippon, A. G. F.
Gurden, Harold Longden, Gilbert Robertson, Sir David
Hall, John (Wycombe) Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Russell, R. S.
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Sharples, R. C.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Macdonald, Sir Peter Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd) McKibbin, A. J. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Hay, John Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Studholme, Sir Henry
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Maddan, Martin Summers, Sir Spencer
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marlowe, A. A. H. Teeling, W.
Hirst, Geoffrey Marples, A. E. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Holt, A. F. Marshall, Douglas Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Hope, Lord John Maude, Angus Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Hornby, R. P. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Touche, Sir Gordon
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Nabarro, G. D. N. Vosper, D. F.
Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Nairn, D. L. S. Wade, D. W.
Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Iremonger, T. L. Oakshott, H. D. Wall, Major Patrick
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Page, R. G. Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Partridge, E. Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Peyton, J. W. W. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Joseph, Sir Keith Pitt, Miss E. M. Woollam, John Victor
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Pott, H. P. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Keegan, D. Powell, J. Enoch
Kershaw, J. A. Price, David (Eastleigh) TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Kirk, P. M. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Mr. Wills and Mr. Bryan.
Lambert, Hon. G. Profumo, J. D.
Ainsley, J. W. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Gibson, C. W. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mason, Roy
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Messer, Sir F.
Anderson, Frank Grey, C. F. Mikardo, Ian
Bacon, Miss Alice Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mitchison, G. R.
Benson, G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Moss, R.
Beswick, F. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mulley, F. W.
Blenkinsop, A. Hamilton, W. W. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Hannan, W. Owen, W. J.
Boyd, T. C. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Palmer, A. M. F.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hastings, S. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Brockway, A. F. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Parker, J.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Herbison, Miss M. Pearson, A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Holman, P. Peart, T. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Holmes, Horace Pentland, N.
Callaghan, L. J. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Popplewell, E.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Champion, A. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Probert, A. R.
Chapman, W. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Proctor, W. T.
Coldrick, W. Hunter, A. E. Randall, H. E.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Irving, S. (Dartford) Rankin, John
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Redhead, E. C.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jeger, George (Goole) Reeves, J.
Cove, W. G. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs. S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Johnson, James (Rugby) Ross, William
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Royle, C.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Deer, G. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lawson, G. M. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Delargy, H. J. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Lindgren, G. S. Stones, W. (Consett)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Logan, D. G. Sylvester, G. O.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mabon, Dr. J, Dickson Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) McGhee, H. G. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) McInnes, J. Warbey, W. N.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McKay, John (Wallsend) Weitzman, D.
Wells, Percy (Faversham) Williams, Ronald (Wigan) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Wheeldon, W. E. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Wilkins, W. A. Winterbottom, Richard TELLERS FOR THE NOES :
Willey, Frederick Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A. Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Rogers.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.