HC Deb 14 May 1958 vol 588 cc411-37

3.32 p.m.

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

I beg to move, in page 3, line 16, at the end to insert: (d) any exceptional expenditure due to any authority or authorities carrying out educational activities not common to all authorities and approved by the Secretary of State. This Amendment relates to one of our basic objections to the machinery of the distribution of the grant contained within the Bill, especially in connection with educational expenditure. Our objection, revealed during the long proceedings which we have already had on the Bill, comes to this: we feel that the grants to different authorities, particularly in respect of education, will be related mainly to the counting of heads within the authorities and certain other matters relating to the remote areas, and so on.

We know from the remarks of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetlands (Mr. Grimond) that they do not meet the needs of the remote areas. We feel that educational developments in Scotland are so important at this stage that the formula within the Bill is totally inadequate to meet them. It is much too inflexible and we desire, above all, to try to provide for a greater degree of flexibility in meeting the educational needs of the various local authorities in Scotland.

The building programmes for schools within local authority areas tend to fluctuate as between one local authority and another. There may be a period of five or ten years when a particular local authority is engaged on a big and extended building programme after which it may rest on its laurels for a number of years. Meantime, another local authority may be engaged in catching up on its building arrears.

Those local authorities who have been able to do a great deal of building in the immediate post-war period, when the percentage grant system was in operation, will find that there are many resulting advantages. Those authorities who have left such works until now and are engaging on big expansions of building programmes will find themselves faced with the provisions of the block grant arrangement and will experience a great difference.

One of the purposes of the Amendment is to allow the Secretary of State to give special consideration to a local authority which is engaged in exceptional expenditure on school building, due to the arrears of such building which may have accumulated over a period. We feel that the existing formula, based on the counting of heads, imposes a penalty on the educational adventuresomness of local authorities. We wish to encourage local authorities to see that education is progressive and to engage in new ideas. In Scotland, we have an education tradition of which we have some reason to be proud. It is generally agreed that we have rested on this tradition for too long and that Scotland lags behind in the newer fields of educational development.

Now the situation will be that any local authority which feels inclined to be experimental and to give a lead in this direction will have to do so at the expense of its own ratepayers. It will not receive a fair contribution, or, indeed, any contribution, for its experiments from the Secretary of State and the central Government. Any local authority which seeks to overcome the main obstacles, put in its way by the Government, towards extending the provision of nursery schools will find that in so far as it is able to adapt existing buildings to bring such nursery schools into existence, the bill will have to be presented to the ratepayers.

Such local authorities will not be able to obtain the percentage grant which has existed up to now and they will discover that the extra expenditure on education so far as it comes within the calculation of the aggregate grant will be distributed among all local authorities in Scotland, whether they are engaged in this worth while new form of activity or not.

I am particularly interested in local authorities doing everything possible towards implementing the provisions of the 1945 Act in relation to daytime, part-time education; moving towards the day when we shall have county colleges in Scotland as was envisaged in the 1945 Act. We had this sort of provision in the 1918 Act, and it is still not yet implemented. I hope that we shall not have to wait so long after the Second World War as we had to wait after the first.

If we are to make progress, we must have local authorities willing to blaze the trail. We must have progressive local authorities willing to set an example to other local authorities. There will be a very heavy financial penalty on local authorities going in for any sort of pioneering activity. The cost of it will be dissipated in the next calculation of the general grant by being distributed among all the local authorities receiving the general grant.

There is also the question of residential schools. Many of us feel that such schools ought to be extended. Many of us consider that it would be greatly to the advantage of Scottish schoolchildren, particularly in the big cities, if at some time before they left school they had an opportunity to experience corporate life within a residential school. Glasgow Corporation, under the percentage grant system, did a good job in this respect. Any corporation that wishes to do this now will find that it will have a heavy bill, which it will be paying through its own ratepayers. It is this kind of exceptional expenditure which I myself have in mind in connection with this Amendment.

My mind goes back to one of the most frightening things that was said about general grants during the discussion on the English Bill. There, it was pointed out that local authorities would get their share of the grant, including the share allocated to educational expenditure, whether or not they had a full complement of teachers. They would get their share of the general grant whether they were fully carrying out their educational job or not, and, therefore, there would be a great temptation to some local authorities to spend less than they ought to do on education, because they knew that they would get the money in any case, and could probably use it for other purposes.

Our desire is to give much greater flexibility in the distribution of these grants for educational purposes than exists under the Government's formula. I suggest that this Amendment gives the Secretary of State the opportunity to deal with exceptional circumstances within particular local authorities, to give them help and assistance, and also to encourage the local authorities, which Scotland so badly needs, which are willing to advance and do some of the things in education which are not generally being done, and which are willing to set an example which, sooner or later, we hope, will be followed by all the local authorities in Scotland.

Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

This Clause is curious inasmuch as it does nothing except advise the Secretary of State what subjects he will think about before he comes to his decision. It states that In fixing the aggregate amount of the general grants for any year the Secretary of State can take into consideration … There is no provision in the Bill which would allow us to examine the Secretary of State's brain, after he has come to a decision, on what influenced him in reaching that decision. Of course, he is quite entitled to take into account all of the considerations mentioned in the subsection, or none of them, or anything else not mentioned in the Bill, before he makes his decision.

We have opposed the idea of a general grant as against percentage grants, and that opposition has been mainly on the grounds that both we and the local authorities suspect that this is a cover for reducing the amount of money which the Government will contribute to the local authorities. If the local authorities get enough money to do the job, then, of course, there is no real difference in practice at the end of the day, but, assuming that the Secretary of State will be guided by this peculiar instruction that he is to take all these things into consideration, we are a little bit alarmed that he is to limit himself to consider things which only affect education authorities simultaneously, or in the same way, throughout the country.

My hon. Friends and myself see the possibility that in different parts of the country there may be developments which are analogous, but not necessarily the same. Take technical or trade colleges. Obviously, if the trade colleges in Dundee, part of which city my hon. Friend represents, teach boys the rudiments of painting and building, and things of that kind, these may not be the subjects taught in Ross and Cromarty, Inverness-shire or the Highlands, where that kind of activity may take the form of farm schools or domestic economy classes for girls.

3.45 p.m.

Therefore, I want the Secretary of State to be able, when he is taking these things into consideration, to consider certain of the needs of Scotland as a whole, but not to be debarred from considering a technical college or a special school in Edinburgh merely because it does not fit in with Ross and Cromarty or Inverness-shire. I cannot see any reason why the Secretary of State should not accept the Amendment. Its purpose is to give him a proper hint on what he should consider. He will surely be reasonable, but in case he should forget it would be advisable to have it in the Bill. It could not do him any harm, though I am sorry to say that he is not bound to pay any attention to it.

The Secretary of State should be reminded that the whole of Scotland is not one homogeneous type of population or activity in industry and life, but that it varies from town to town, from east to west and from north to south. There should be provision for all kinds of variety in the educational needs of an area which together ought to come in as relevant expenditure. It may be that they are all spending equal amounts of money on their own varied activities, but we want to see it spent in a necessary educational fashion, and to be taken into consideration when the Secretary of State is fixing the aggregate amount of the general grants for the authorities as a whole. I support the Amendment.

Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)

In so far as the Amendment will allow more flexibility in education in Scotland, I support it. I think that our system of education is fundamentally good, but that it is much too rigid already.

The general criticism of the Bill has been that, as far as counties like my own are concerned, and especially Shetland, they are to suffer severely from the change in the grant system. Incidentally, this will reverse the tendency to take into account the special needs of remote and thinly populated areas like Shetland, and also the tendency to be concerned about the less populated areas.

In the Bill, so far from getting any benefit, they are to be much worse off than before, and the loss which they will suffer will be largely due to the rising cost of education. That is the general position. What I am rather worried about is—and this is a very important matter in Shetland and in the Highland counties generally—that more attention should be given to any special needs and the development of further education in various forms. Mention has been made of the county colleges. We in Shetland have no special schools. We have no instruction in technical education of a practical sort in many ways.

As I understand the Amendment, it would allow some latitude to the Secretary of State to take this kind of need into account in areas of very low rateable value. I see an hon. Gentleman shaking his head, but I understand that to be the effect of this Amendment, though it might work either way in the administration of the Act. If I am wrong about that, I should like to be informed, but if that is the effect then I would certainly support the Amendment, because I believe that we are in danger of treating the whole of Scotland too much as one area, and not taking into account the differing needs of different areas.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we are dealing with an Amendment concerning the fixing of the aggregate grants. This Amendment can only affect the aggregate grant. If we could have a promise that the Leader of the Liberal Party will support us in our Amendment in relation to the apportionment of the aggregate grant, that point might be met.

Mr. Grimond

I understand that. This deals, first, with the aggregate amount, but it is surely a preliminary to any move in the direction I am advocating. Without this, it could not be done. That is the only point I want to make. I understand that that would be the effect of the Amendment, and I therefore think that it deserves very serious consideration.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) drew attention to the fact that some local authorities would have to spend a considerable amount of money on school buildings by way of arrears. That expenditure would be taken into account as meeting the need for developing the service. The Secretary of State for Scotland has already been taking that into account, so to that extent the Amendment would not be necessary.

The second point of the hon. Gentleman was the need for research to carry out experiments of one kind or another, but that would be relevant expenditure, and since all these projects of research are bound to be discussed with the Department it appears that in that respect also it would be taken into account as part of the need for developing the service. In any case, it would be bound to be taken into account in assessing the relevant expenditure. From those two points of view, the Amendment would not add very much to what is already in the Bill.

At one point the hon. Gentleman seemed to be trying to make the Amendment mean something that it could not mean, namely, that instead of the amount being added to the aggregate of the general grant the particular amount representing research or buildings would be added to the general grant for the particular local authority. That would not be possible, and would not be the effect of the Amendment.

The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) expressed the view that there should be more certainty that developments of this kind would be taken into consideration by the Secretary of State for Scotland. He knows as well as anyone the close touch which the Secretary of State for Scotland keeps on developments of all kinds in education. Therefore, there is no reason to suppose that the developments that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind would not be taken into account in fixing the aggregate amount of the general grant.

Mr. Woodburn

What has given rise to it is that the Secretary of State seems to have imposed a limitation on himself in paragraph (b), which talks about circumstances prevailing in Scotland as a whole. Can we take it that that will not inhibit him when he is considering the things about which we have been talking?

Mr. Macpherson

Yes, that is certainly so, but it is a different point altogether. That paragraph relates to fluctuations in the demand for the services giving rise to relevant expenditure, in so far as they are attributable to circumstances prevailing in Scotland as a whole. In the next paragraph the Secretary of State must also take into consideration the need for developing those services and the extent to which, having regard to general economic conditions, it is reasonable to develop those services.

Mr. Woodburn

Again, he has to come back to general economic conditions. We gather that everything the Secretary of State has to do is limited by general economic conditions and not influenced by developments that might not take place uniformly throughout Scotland.

Mr. Macpherson

In certain cases, general economic conditions will necessarily have an effect. For example, since 1948 there has been no extension of building of nursery schools. To that extent economic conditions, and also the needs and priorities in education, are bound to have their effect on the application of the aggregate amount as a whole.

I can assure the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) that there will be no rigidity in these matters and that the need for developing the services will be taken into account. In any case, the House of Commons will have an opportunity of considering what the Secretary of State has to take into account when it debates the Order that will have to be laid before the House to provide the general grant. There will also be laid a White Paper giving the considerations which the Secretary of State has taken into account.

I do not think that the Amendment would add anything worth while to the considerations that are already prescribed in the Bill.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

It seems clear from what the Joint Under-Secretary has said that the overall effect of the general grant will be stifling. There will be no room for initiative and experiment, which have been distinguishing features of Scottish education in the past.

Examples have been given by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) of the work that has been done with nursery schools and day release colleges, and the provision of milk in schools was a step in progress taken at one time by a local authority. It was possible to take those steps because of the system of specific grants. That will now be restricted. Before anything new can happen in education, it must happen all over Scotland.

One would not oppose that idea, but there ought to be room for venture. The occasional forward move has often been made in the past by one particular education committee and has become, through time, a general part of Scottish education. Now, the Joint Under-Secretary of State is telling us that the system of financing Scottish education will make that sort of thing virtually impossible in the future. He says that if any expenditure is incurred provision will be made, but that it will go into the general grant and will be spread over all the areas. The local authority taking the initiative will not get encouragement.

There should be room for advance by local authorities. Does the Joint Under-Secretary want to see this continued, and local authorities with a progressive outlook continually looking for new ventures in education because of their experimental attitude? If he does, and does not want to prevent it happening, will he say so? Does he agree with the idea behind the Amendment although its terminology may not be acceptable? Does he want to make it possible for that idea to be operated? If he thinks so, he can surely find a way of doing it. My hon. Friend would be prepared to withdraw the Amendment if the Joint Under-Secretary would give the Committee a promise that he accepts the idea contained in the Amendment and will find a way to carry it out.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)

We should make it quite clear to the Joint Under-Secretary and to the Secretary of State that this Amendment is in conflict with what the Government apparently intend in the administration of the block grant. Up to now the education authority which has incurred exceptional expenditure on educational activities not common to all authorities, but yet approved by the Secretary of State, has had a proper proportion of the cost of this additional service met from Exchequer funds. That has been the position up to now.

Our concern with the block grant is that any local authority which is enterprising, and introduces something quite new which is not common to other education authorities, will have to bear the cost of this wholly on the local rates. We think that this will be a great disincentive to local authorities in making experiments, and I should have thought that it was only those experiments made by particular education authorities, followed by other education authorities, that have led to the great educational advance that we have experienced over the years.

We do not want to stifle this enterprise and initiative on the part of authorities. We want to secure that the education authority that engages in this kind of initiative and enterprise will have part of the cost of the enterprise met by grant from central funds. Let us make it quite clear to the Under-Secretary that the adoption of this Amendment by itself would not secure that end. Of course, it would not: but if we were able to take into account this additional sum of money—the cost of these educational enterprises—and add it to the total of the block grant and then make the necessary adjustment in the Second Schedule, the Secretary of State would be able to reimburse those local authorities which have been enterprising. He would then be able to give them a grant in addition to the grant which they would get by a mere counting of heads—a grant in respect of this additional service which they have provided with the approval of the Secretary of State.

I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that all the educational bodies in Scotland which have been so disappointed with his persistence in carrying through the block grant would have some small crumb of comfort if he were to accept this Amendment and undertake to make the necessary adjustment in the allocation of the block grant to take care of what is clearly in the minds of those who have put the Amendment on the Notice Paper. If the right hon. Gentleman does not accept an Amendment of this kind in Clause 2, it would seem to us that he should not take into account any expenditure of this kind in increasing the size of the aggregate general grant.

The right hon. Gentleman has limited himself in the Bill, or so it would seem, to fixing his general grant. We think that "fixing" is a rather unfortunate word to use, although it is perhaps not inappropriate in this context. In fixing the general grant we believe that he is obliging himself merely to look at the things done by local authorities in Scotland so long as they are done by all local authorities in Scotland. We think that he is limiting himself in that way. We think that it is wrong that he should so limit himself. He should be able to consider those education authorities that provide additional training for young people in industry or fit young people to go into industry—young people to whom education authorities might seek to give appropriate training, such as girls who might wish to enter the nursing profession. There are many examples that one could call to mind, such as technical colleges and domestic science.

If education authorities are to be exceptional in this field in doing something which is approved by the Secretary of State and which might well be followed by other education authorities in years to come, we think it is desirable that in determining the total amount of money to be distributed among the local authorities of Scotland, the Secretary of State should be able to add, as it were, the cost of providing this rather exceptional service, and, having got his total augmented in this way, we would not think that he should distribute the money among all the local authorities merely by reference to counting heads. We think that at that point he should have the Second Schedule so adjusted as to enable him to give the help where the help is needed, to give assistance from central funds to a local authority which has carried through some exceptional enterprise with the approval of the Secretary of State.

I would have thought that no reasonable person could resist what we are here proposing. I have no doubt at all that education authorities, educationists and many organisations in Scotland will be deeply disappointed if the Secretary of State cannot make a minor concession in this respect.

Mr. Ross

The Joint Under-Secretary himself conceded the case for the Amendment when he went through various items and said, "They are all covered as far as we can see by the present formula." In other words, he admitted that there are services which are being carried out or would be carried out by various local authorities and which are not common to them all, and that we should not worry about them because they are included in the relevant expenditure and will be included in the aggregate grant.

In conceding that, I think that the hon. Gentleman missed the whole point, it being that this Amendment does not and cannot stand on its own. He may not like the further Amendments that we on this side of the Committee have on the Notice Paper, but we have the advantage that on recommittal, to be followed by the Report stage, we are covering not only today but also tomorrow, and I would think that, having conceded that something ought to be done about it, he has plenty of time, during the course of the next few hours, to put down an Amendment to deal with this matter.

Surely the whole position about Scottish education and the satisfaction that is given from one end of the country to the other is that each county council, each area, has provided an education demanded by regional conditions and by the traditions of the area. That is why the kind of education that is provided in Orkney and Shetland, although there may be a common basis, develops needs which are dictated by the traditions and needs of the area. The same thing applies in Glasgow and Ayrshire.

Whilst we can see that there might be some justification for the application of a block grant and aggregate grants, and probably divisions in relation to common services, there surely is no justification, having admitted that there are these services that are not common to them all, for saying that they will go into the aggregate grant. What my hon. Friend asks is perfectly fair, that … exceptional expenditure due to any authority or authorities carrying out educational activities not common to all authorities and approved by the Secretary of State shall be taken into account. That is to say, they shall be looked into in the course of the consideration and calculations of the relevant expenditure. That is the first step towards justice. It is to single them out.

Thereafter, in the Second Schedule, or, taking them out of the aggregate grant and disbursing them in a different way under the Schedule, the case would be met. But do not let us underestimate the fact that this is one of the great injustices of this general grant. There are local authorities which have already carried out many exceptional and progressive projects. They might be entirely governed, but the chances are that they might not be. Certainly, this will cover the future anyway.

Looking at the developments which are ahead, the Minister said, "Do not worry about nursery schools; there is a ban. No one can build them." But will that ban exist for ever? Suppose that it were raised this year. Let us consider Scotland. In every local authority area in Scotland is there some need for nursery schools? The answer is obviously, no. What will happen then is that one local authority embarking on approved expenditure for nursery schools will find that expenditure going into an aggregate grant, and that aggregate grant being divided up amongst all the local authorities most of who have not spent a penny on this new expenditure. Is there any justice in that?

I have given only one example. I could give many others of the kind of thing that is covered by expenditure that is not common to authorities. Surely, in the calculations and in the review of expenditure note should be taken of these exceptional expenditures. That is the third first step. In relation to the aggregate grant and taking these calculations into account, these things should be noted.

Obviously, a further step must be taken if we are to do justice to the local authority that is making the expenditure. The Under-Secretary should give us satisfaction. He has conceded the point on what we are driving at. He recognises the facts and, having recognised them, he should proceed to examine our further Amendments. Meanwhile, this is a worth-while first-step Amendment.

Mr. N. Macpherson

We should be clear on the method of fixing the grant. Aggregate grant will be fixed with regard to national considerations. What I said was that my right hon. Friend is in the closest touch with developments in Scotland as a whole, and that he will take them into consideration. Developments so far have varied from locality to locality. Some local authorities have experimented in one direction, others in another. Some have experimented with farm schools, others with camp schools, nursery schools, and so forth.

What we really should envisage is a general forward-looking educational policy, such that will make it possible for all local authorities to have an expansionist outlook, to develop their education from the point of view of research and building, and bring their educational facilities up to the highest possible standards. If that gives satisfaction to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) I hope that he will rest content with that, because I am sure that that is the right attitude to take in looking at the composition of general grant.

I am certain that in view of the needs for educational development in the country as a whole, we have to look at the general developments of education and ensure that general grant is fixed in such a way as to encourage the whole of the nation to go ahead with education, and that each separate education authority, if it does a little better than its neighbours, will be able to take full credit and say, "This is all ours."

Mr. Ross rose——

Mr. Macpherson

Surely there will be the greatest satisfaction in that. That development will, in due course, go into relevant expenditure and encourage all the other local authorities.

Mr. Ross

If a local authority does a little better than its neighbour, then its neighbour will get a cut out of the general grant.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

This is exactly the argument which all the education authorities throughout the country and the Association of Education Committees have said that the Government would produce—the argument that, in general, the Government are in favour of educational advance but that if local authorities advance faster than the Government allow, then they have to pay all the money themselves. That is exactly what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education said on Second Reading of the English Bill. Paraphrasing his words, he said that if local authorities experimented, and they did more than the Government felt they ought to do, that was their affair, speaking in financial terms.

In the Amendment we are simply trying to introduce a little flexibility, just as there is flexibility in the present percentage grant system. One of the basic objections to the general grant system is its rigidity. It penalises progressive authorities. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) pointed out that one of the great advantages of British education is the opportunity of local authorities for experimentation. Such progressive authorities as Aberdeen, for instance, are the very authorities which will be penalised under the terms of the Bill.

I am not in the slighest surprised that the Government have opposed the Amendment. It was not moved in the belief that they would accept it. From now on the Government will pay lip service to the idea of progress in education but they will say, in effect, to the local authorities, "If you make more progress than we think you ought, the ratepayers must foot the bill."

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

I was not aware that the Solicitor-General for Scotland has been sacked. I was about to ask for his advice, but he has moved to the retired Ministers' bench. I am glad to see that he is now returning to the Front Bench. We may, therefore, return to a discussion of the general grant.

We have heard the Joint Under-Secretary of State twice on this subject and he has not replied to the argument which has been advanced and which is very simple: that the progressive local authority will be penalised by the Bill. In his second speech he said, "We want to encourage educational development all over the country. We want to see the development of technical and scientific education and experiments with nursery schools." But who will take the initiative if, as a reward for taking the initiative, the authority is to be penalised?

This is a peculiar Government. The good local authority is to be penalised by them; it is not to be rewarded but is to be punished if it does what the hon. Member has said the Government want it to do. Surely there is something wrong with a state of affairs where we say that we want something done but if anybody does it we punish him.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Does the hon. Member suggest that a local authority which provides the best possible service for the people in its area will be punished?

Mr. Willis

By virtue of the fact that its ratepayers will be subsidising educational development in other areas which are not prepared to undertake such development. This expenditure goes into the total aggregate expenditure, but instead of being divided amongst local authorities according to their spending it is divided in accordance with a formula in the Second Schedule, which has nothing to do with what work the local authority is doing. The backward local authority will receive a far bigger part of the aggregate grant than it would receive if it were being paid on the basis of what it was doing.

That means that the local authority which is doing something worthwhile educationally will not receive the amount of money towards that work which it would have received under specific grants. In other words, its ratepayers will have to pay. As a result, the ratepayers in the backward local authorities may have their rates reduced. If Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or any big local authority goes ahead, as the Government want it to go ahead, it will have the supreme satisfaction of knowing that it is subsidising reactionary local authorities. This is indefensible.

Another aspect is that the expenditure which can be included in the aggregate expenditure is limited by the fact that it must come within the terms of the 1946 Act. Educational expenditure must come within the terms of that Act under the wording of the commencement of the First Schedule. If an authority has some expenditure outwith that Act, it is not even included in the aggregate grant.

When he first spoke, the Joint Under-Secretary of State implied that this did not add very much. I do not know what he means by "very much". Surely if what it adds is worth adding, then it ought to be added. I cannot see what is wrong with that; it is logical. Even accepting the hon. Member's statement in his first speech, when he said that it might add something but not very much, surely we are entitled to say that the Amendment ought to be accepted.

The hon. Member ought to treat the arguments from this side of the Committee in a much more serious vein. For him simply to make an amiable, soothing statement which does not reply to the detailed points which have been so ably and cogently made in the speeches from this side of the Committee is not good enough.

This is a very important matter and the Secretary of State ought to reply to it. Let him tell us what he wants education authorities in Scotland to do. Does he want them to go ahead? If so, does he intend to punish them for going ahead? Will he punish the ratepayers of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Lanark, or Midlothian because they have a progressive education policy? That is what will happen unless something on the lines of the Amendment is put into the Bill.

We ought to have a better answer to the arguments advanced from this side of the Committee.

Mr. Rankin

The Joint Under-Secretary of State hoped that perhaps what he said would meet some of the arguments which I had expressed, but I assure him that it does not. What he said underlined the fears which I have expressed. It seemed to me that he was saying that the man in Whitehall knows best. To my mind, his speech could be condensed to that statement. Whitehall is to determine the tempo of national advance in education for Scotland.

I am not opposed to the idea of having a great, national sweep forward, but we must think of the Scottish scene. Unlike the English population, the Scottish is not distributed evenly over the whole country. We have about 250,000 people living in what we call the Highland counties and a similar number living in the six or seven Border counties. Between them, in the narrow belt which lies around the Forth and the Clyde, we have 4½ million people, all engaged in industry. The demands of that sector of the Scottish community in education must be somewhat different from the other two.

For instance, my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) referred to nursery schools. Some of us have spoken about this need throughout the passage of the Bill. The need for nursery schools in the industrial belt in Scotland is obviously far greater than in the Highland or Border counties. That also applies to another type of advance which my own education authority has made, the residential school, where boys and girls are taken for a period away from the city and educated outside. The demand for that kind of educational progress is greater in the industrial belt than in the more sparsely populated parts of our country.

The fear, which is a significant fear in our minds, is that if we are to have this stifling hand, represented by the general grant, imposed on Scottish education, then the development and the progress which has been continuing along those lines will be slowed down, because if the advance has to be continued at the pace at which it should continue the burden on the local authorities will be too great and they will be compelled to ease off. That will be more apparent in the needs which the future will place upon those local authorities which operate in the highly industrialised areas, where we require new types of schools.

I want to commend to the notice of the Secretary of State, and of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have not read it, the article by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) in today's Glasgow Herald, which expresses the kind of view I am trying to express now. It points out that we must be thinking of new methods in education. That article puts some of them before us. They are being carried out in parts of London because the wealth is there, but they may not be carried out in the industrial belt of Scotland which needs them most because the burden of doing so will be too heavy on the education committees.

The Government's action in refusing to adopt the Amendment increases the fear that we have about the restriction of these desirable developments. I asked the Secretary of State when I spoke earlier whether that is what he wants to do. I put the question to him again: is that what he wants to achieve? Will he not realise that the Scottish population is not distributed evenly throughout the country, but that there is a great concentration in the central region? If there is to be progress and experiment in that central belt, there must be special aid for special development, such as visualised in the Amendment.

We want the Secretary of State's assurance along those lines. This is in no way disrespectful to the Joint Under-Secretary of State; we are not pushing him aside. I do not insinuate for one moment that his personal view is much different from ours. Unfortunately, he has the terrible handicap of belonging to the party to which he is attached. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which is that?"] I do not know. He was in the middle of the road and then he made a movement, but whether it was to the right or left I AM not quite sure. It seems to have been to the right. He is finding it a terrible handicap. Indeed, he and his right hon. Friend are in the same boat. They are sinking together. They are both at sea; we want to bring them to land.

4.30 p.m.

This part of the debate now needs the intervention of the Secretary of State. He may say that this Amendment is not worth adopting, but let him rise and tell us that he agrees or disagrees with the point of view we have put forward, which is one which, without doubt, would help Scottish education. Equally without doubt, the plans of the Government will not help the content and form of educational development in Scotland. As has been said, the right hon. Gentleman has ample time to find the proper words. If he does not accept the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), that he will find the instrument in the Schedules, he has time before tomorrow to frame the proper form of words which would enable what we are suggesting to work. I invite him to let us know his views on this matter.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

I have been watching the Joint Under-Secretary very closely. Watching his expression and his nods I gathered that he is very largely in agreement with the intentions of this Amendment. I gathered that he thought them desirable but, perhaps, his difficulty was that the Amendment as drafted, or as proposed to be placed in this part of the Bill, would not achieve the desirable end.

I certainly had the feeling that as the hon. Gentleman has looked, listened, smiled and nodded he gave the impression that he agreed it was not only desirable but highly desirable that local authorities should do a bit more than the minimum, a little more than the national average and seek to push ahead. Those authorities which have nursery schools should be encouraged and those which have technical education should be encouraged, as also should be the authorities mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin), which provide holiday facilities for children from certain areas of Glasgow. All those things should be taken into account in determining the relevant expenditure. My impression is that that is what the Joint Under-Secretary now believes.

I say that he now believes that because, quite clearly, unless his words meant something different to him from what they meant to most other people, he had no such idea in his mind when he spoke in the Standing Committee on 13th March. When I quote his words on that occasion I think we shall find that he adopted a very different attitude. I want him to repudiate what he said then. The hon. Gentleman said: If a community cares to spend more than the national average, then that is rightly a matter for the community concerned. Why should the State assist the wealthier authorities to provide more lavish facilities than the national average? If they wish to do so, then, provided that the level of national investment will allow it, they should be allowed to do so, but at their own expense."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee. 13th March, 1958; c. 205.] Clearly, what the Joint Under-Secretary was then thinking of was a national average, a general average and level. We shall come to that point again in a later Amendment. There is no room in the words he then used for experimentation by a local authority. There is no room for any special expenditure by a local authority. That he described as, "more lavish facilities". If that is not what he meant on that occasion, I hope he will tell us, but I took it clearly from what he then said.

The attitude that the hon. Gentleman now seems to be adopting, or is giving the impression of adopting, is very different from what he tried to convey on that occasion. On the basis of what he then said my hon. Friends were eminently right in putting this Amendment on the Notice Paper, because they believed that special circumstances should be taken into account.

On the former occasion, the Joint Under-Secretary made no provision for special circumstances, for the little bit better than the national average effort, as he called it, the "more lavish" effort. In effect, he said that that is a matter for local responsibility and the authority concerned would have to pay for it if it wanted that kind of thing. Has he changed his mind? If so, he will accept what my hon. Friends have been saying and make an adjustment in the Bill to meet this special effort, which he will say local authorities are not to be made to carry entirely on their own.

Mr. Woodburn

I do not know whether the Secretary of State is to say anything more about this Amendment.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)

I will make a brief intervention. I have listened to the debate with the greatest care. Seldom have I heard more seductive and enticing speeches by hon. Members opposite in endeavouring to persuade the Government to accept their Amendments. It has extended even to a very careful study of my hon. Friend's face while he was sitting listening to the debate. I am all for studying my hon. Friend's face; it is a very good one.

On the substance of the Amendment, it is quite clear that for the immediate purpose what the Amendment itself would achieve, as my hon. Friend made quite clear, already exists within the terms of the Bill as it stands. Therefore, the only point about the Amendment is how it links up to subsequent Amendments, if they were accepted, to meet the more detailed Amendments in the minds of hon. Members opposite.

I think that hon. Members opposite would agree that they have been developing an attack on the whole principle of the general grant. The principle having been debated in full, they were going back to discuss ad hoc grants. As that argument has been gone over at various stages, we do not want to argue it over again. I repeat, in other words, what my hon. Friend said. I believe hon. Members opposite underestimate the intense desire there is everywhere to get on with a progressive improvement in our education system.

Mr. Ross

We are concerned about Clause 2 and that general desire.

Mr. Maclay

That is the whole argument that hon. Members opposite are putting forward, that the Bill would lead to stagnation. That ignores all the discussions we have had in the past and the very general mood in the country, which no Government will ignore, that there must be a progressive expansion of educational facilities. In view of all the arguments we have had on the principle, I know that they do not really expect that we should accept all the Amendments they are implying as necessary if this Amendment were accepted. As it stands alone, it would not help the Bill at all.

Mr. Woodburn

I do not think that we can regard the reply of the Secretary of State as satisfactory. He started by saying that everything was covered already and that this Amendment would not add anything, but he finished by rejecting it for what it did say. That seems to be a contradiction in terms. There is as much substance in this Amendment as in the paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).

We are asking the Secretary of State to accept this Amendment to show everybody that the principles discussed by my hon. Friends and myself are in the minds of the Government and are to be con-

sidered. Probably we shall have an opportunity of discussing the other matters later, but we regard the attitude of the Secretary of State on this Amendment as very disappointing and as contrary to the feelings of every education authority in the country. They deplore the failure of the Government to take special circumstances into consideration.

We have no alternative but to register our protest in the Lobby.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 201, Noes 231.

Division No. 122.] AYES [4.41 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Mahon, Simon
Albu, A. H. Greenwood, Anthony Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd E.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Awbery, S. S. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mason, Roy
Bacon, Miss Alice Grimond, J. Mellish, R. J.
Balfour, A. Hale, Leslie Mitchison, G. R.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Monslow, W.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Hamilton, W. W. Moody, A. S.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)
Beswick, Frank Hannan, W. Mort, D. L.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Harrison J. (Nottingham, N.) Moss, R.
Blackburn, F. Hastings, S. Moyle, A.
Bonham Carter, Mark Hayman, F. H. Mulley, F. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Healey, Denis Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Herbison, Miss M. Oliver, G. H.
Boyd, T. C. Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Orbach, M.
Brookway, A. F. Holmes, Horace Oswald, T.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Holt, A. F. Owen, W. J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Houghton, Douglas Padley, W. E.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Howell, Denis (All Saints) Palmer, A. M. F.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hoy, J. H. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Carmichael, J. Hubbard, T. F. Pargiter, G. A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Parker, J.
Champion, A. J. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Parkin, B. T.
Chapman, W. D. Hunter, A. E. Paton, John
Chetwynd, G. R. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Pearson, A.
Clunie, J. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Peart, T. F.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Pentland, N.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Prentice, R. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Janner, B. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Cove, W. G. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Probert, A. R.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jeger, George (Goole) Proctor, W. T.
Crossman, R. H. S. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Rankin, John
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Redhead, E. C.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Reeves, J.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Reid, William
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Deer, G. Kenyon, C. Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Diamond, John King, Dr. H. M. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Dodds, N. N. Lawson, G. M. Ross, William
Donnelly, D. L. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Royle, C.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Edelman, M. Lipton, Marcus Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Logan, D. G. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) McAlister, Mrs. Mary Sorensen, R. W.
Fernyhough, E. McCann, J. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Fletcher, Eric MacColl, J. E. Sparks, J. A.
Foot, D. M. MacDermot, Niall Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Forman, J. C. McGhee, H. G. Stones, W. (Consett)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McInnes, J. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McKay, John (Wallsend) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Stress, Dr. Barnetl (Stoke-on-Trent, C)
Gibson, C. W. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Sylvester, G. O. Wade, D. W. Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Watkins, T. E. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Taylor, John (West Lothian) Wells, Percy (Faversham) Winterbottom, Richard
Thomas, George (Cardiff) Wheeldon, W. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint) Woof, R. E.
Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wilkins, W. A. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Thornton, E. Willey, Frederick Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Timmons, J. Williams, David (Neath) Zilliacus, K.
Usborne, H. C. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Viant, S. P. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Rogers and Mr. Short.
Aitken, W. T. Godber, J. B. McKibbin, Alan
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Goodhart, Philip Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Alport, C. J. M. Cough, C. F. H. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Arbuthnot, John Gower, H. R. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)
Armstrong, C. W. Graham, Sir Fergus McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Ashton, H. Grant, W. (Woodside) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Atkins, H. E. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Green, A. Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Baldwin, A. E. Gresham Cooke, R. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Barlow, Sir John Grimston, Hon. John (S. Albans) Maddan, Martin
Barter, John Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Baxter, Sir Beverley Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Marshall, Douglas
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Gurden, Harold Mathew, R.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Hall, John (Wycombe) Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Mawby, R. L.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Harris, Reader (Heston) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Moore, Sir Thomas
Bingham, R. M. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Bishop, F. P. Hay, John Nabarro, G. D. N.
Black, C. W. Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Nairn, D. L. S.
Bossom, Sir Alfred Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Neave, Airey
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)
Boyle, Sir Edward Henderson, John (Cathcart) Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Braine, B. R. Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hesketh, R. F. Nugent, G. R. H.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Oakshott, H. D.
Brooman-White, R. C. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Burden, F. F. A. Holland-Martin, C. J. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hornby, R. P. Page, R. G.
Campbell, Sir David Horobin, Sir Ian Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Channon, Sir Henry Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Partridge, E.
Chichester-Clark, R. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Peel, W. J.
Cole, Norman Howard, John (Test) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Cooke, Robert Hurd, A. R. Powell, J. Enoch
Cooper, A. E. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hyde, Montgomery Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Ramsden, J. E.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rawlinson, Peter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Redmayne, M.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Remnant, Hon. P.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Deedes, W. F. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Roper, Sir Harold
du Cann, E. D. L. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Russell, R. S.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Kerr, Sir Hamilton Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Duncan, Sir James Kershaw, J. A. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Kimball, M. Sharples, R. C.
Elliott, R. W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) Kirk, P. M. Shepherd, William
Errington, Sir Eric Langford-Holt, J. A. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Farey-Jones, F. W. Leather, E. H. C. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Fell, A. Leavey, J. A. Speir, R. M.
Finlay, Graeme Leburn, W. G. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Legge-Bourke., Maj. E. A. H. Stevens, Geoffrey
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Freeth, Denzil Linstead, Sir H. N. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Maicolm
Gammans, Lady Llewellyn, D. T. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Studholme, Sir Henry
George, J. C. (Pollok) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Summers, Sir Spencer
Gibson-Watt, D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Teeling, W.
Glover, D. McAdden, S. J. Temple, John M.
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Mackeson, Brig, Sir Harry Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Thompson, Kenneth (Walton) Vickers, Miss Joan Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P. Wall, Patrick Woollam, John Victor
Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Tilney, John (Wavertree) Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H. Webbe, Sir H. Mr. Edward Wakefield and
Tweedsmuir, Lady Whitelaw, W. S. I. Mr. Bryan.
Vane, W. M. F. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.