§ 4.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, to leave out "and" and to insert:(d) ensuring the widest practicable distribution of recipients under paragraphs (a) and (b) above according to locality of the university or college and the subject of study, and
I should point out that this Amendment is not intended to be taken as absolutely the last possible word in the circumstances. For instance, the word "practicable", in the meaning which we attach to it, would convey something of the suggestion of "reasonable"—a reasonable distribution. We are not suggesting anything like a rationing out according to geographical areas or anything of that sort, but we are suggesting that the Commission should be charged with the responsibility not merely of placing the students in some reasonable way in the available universities and 1399 colleges, and, I suggest, other institutions in this country, but also in relation to the subjects studied. It is possible to leave the Commission complete freedom to decide on what principles it will do the placing, but it seems to us that this particular principle, or factor at least, is so important that it should be pointed out to the Commission, which ought to be charged with having regard to it in the placing of students.
The situation concerning Commonwealth students coming to this country under existing arrangements is not nearly so bad as the situation which exists under the Marshall scholarships scheme. The Marshall scholars exhibit a very extreme case of students coming from one group of colleges and going to a very small group of colleges in this country. On published figures, I find that over half of them come from the New England colleges, and again on published figures, five-sixths of them go to three institutions in this country—Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics.
The situation with regard to Commonwealth students in this country is not revealed exactly, so far as I know, by any published figures. I do not know of any figures which indicate exactly the number of Commonwealth students in the universities here, but if one can take overseas students in general it seems that two-thirds are Commonwealth students, and one would deduce from that the sort of situation that exists, which would indicate that we have not got anything like the extreme maladministration that we have in the case of Marshall scholars.
In the universities of Great Britain—I am not talking about non-university students or other students—according to published figures for 1957–58, there were then about 11,000 students from overseas, and of those 11,000 about 7,000 were students from Commonwealth countries—about two-thirds—so that probably the situation as disclosed by these figures of 11,000 students would give a fair indication—nothing exact—but a fair suggestion of how the 7,000 are distributed.
The distribution is rather different from that which we find in the case of the Marshall scholarships. Out of these 1400 11,000 students, about 890 or 8 per cent., go to Oxford; 810, or 7 per cent., go to Cambridge; and 740, or about 61 per cent., to the London School of Economics. The total of students at these three institutions is, therefore, about 21 or 22 per cent., as against the 83 per cent. in the case of the Marshall scholarships, but there is maldistribution, in spite of that.
Before coming to that point, I should point out not only that the proportion going to the three main popular institutions of Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics is smaller, but that a number of other institutions follows fairly closely on their heels. The Imperial College, according to the figures for that year, had 500, against 740 going to the L.S.E. Edinburgh University had 530 and other universities as many as 400, so that there is a much wider spread, and the problem, on the existing figures, is not nearly as bad as in the case of the Marshall scholars. We are dealing with people who will be coming here under this scheme, and we want to make sure that they are reasonably widely distributed in geographical areas and in the various university institutions of the country.
I am sorry that I have to take the 11,000 as representing the 7,000, but I think that in the circumstances it is a fair but rough guide, and of the 11,000 we find that 4,600 were enrolled at London University. That is about 42 per cent. In the "redbrick" institutions, the 14 individual institutions which I have taken collectively, the figure was about 25 per cent. At Oxbridge—taking the two universities together—it was 16 per cent., at the Scottish universities 13 per cent. and at the Welsh universities 3 per cent. There is an undue preponderance at London—42 per cent.—and a very heavy under-utilisation of the "redbrick" universities, for 25 per cent. scattered over 14 institutions is rather less than 2 per cent. for each institution.
A situation seems to exist in which the Commission should take great care about this problem. It is not an extreme problem, as it was for the Marshall scholarships, but it is significant enough to warrant the Commission's serious attention. We do not want the students coming from the Commonwealth all to be clustered together in one institution.
1401 There are too many in proportion in London. London is not the whole of the British Isles, and much of the way of life in this country is represented in the provincial universities, usually described as "red brick". The proportion of students going to these universities should be greatly increased. I need not go into the results which would flow from that. Generally speaking, it would mean a wider and fuller understanding of our habits and ways of life in this country.
It is not simply the geography of the matter and the separate individual institutions with which we are concerned in the Amendment; we are also concerned with the kind of institutions and the type of study of the students. There will probably be general agreement that a fair number of these students should be placed at the new colleges of advanced technology, if at all possible. These are institutions which, as far as one can judge, in the two or three years since they were given their new status have fairly well proved themselves. They are also gathering an increasing proportion of students to take their courses, and the diploma which they give at the end of the course is of considerable importance in our industrial life today. I suggest that these institutions should be brought within the universities attended by incoming students from the Commonwealth under the scheme.
These are perhaps the most obvious examples, but, in addition, I suggest that the adult education institutions should receive a number of these students. Ruskin and Fircroft were mentioned on Second Reading, but I suggest that we should perhaps widen the field of institutions receiving people for adult education beyond the individual colleges which are purely "adult " and make some arrangements for students to go to the extramural departments of our universities or even to be attached to an organisation such as W.E.A.
After all, in the under-developed territories or, to use the more correct expression of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), the technically less advanced territories, adult education is playing a considerable part nowadays, and in my opinion a very creative part of the adult education 1402 taking place in various parts of Africa is often stimulated and organised by individual tutors from the universities in this country. There would be much to be gained by a two-way relationship which included people in adult education and the adult education departments of the universities, as well as the individual colleges.
People from Ghana and Nigeria, for instance, would be able to see the part played in our adult education by voluntary organisations such as W.E.A., which is the sort of thing that they cannot very well establish ab initio in their own countries. When a territory is being newly established the tendency is to set up a governmental or official agency, and it would be valuable to people in that situation to know how we run the universities, the Government and the voluntary organisations in co-operation. There are such useful things in adult education elsewhere as the experience of the St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, in the establishment of co-operative organisations. Knowledge of that kind of activity on the part of the university would be a great advantage to students from the technically less advanced territories. That is, of course, outside the ambit of the Bill, but I mention it to show that adult education is a field in which there is a great interplay of new ideas, many of which can be extremely helpful to the technically less advanced territories.
Another type of institution which should receive some of these students is the college which is concerned with less academic matters than is the ordinary university or technical college course. For instance, if one looks at the institutions to which the overseas students go in this country one finds many of them going to such institutions as the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Old Vic Theatre School and the Architectural Association. I will not make a list of these, but I want to pick out one to suggest how important some of these things can be. There is the University of London School of Librarianship. Librarianship is one of the things which will be of considerable importance for the development of education in a number of technically less advanced parts of the Commonwealth. It would be a very good thing if this scheme could be used for study of such matters as librarianship, the 1403 theatre and music, all of which are important in the developing educational life of a new community.
Further, I suggest that some of these students should be sent to non-institutional places of training. Some of them will be interested in industry, commerce, banking, insurance, and so on, and we ought to ask the Commission to keep in mind the possibility of making arrangements for post-graduate training in banking, insurance and industry, for instance, for people who will not necessarily be enrolled inside the walls of a college or attend college classes.
That is the kind of thing which we have in mind in the Amendment. I should like to think that the post-graduate students who in the main are contemplated under this scheme will not simply be students who will do a research degree, the normal post-graduate activity, but will be students who will add professional qualifications in two years after their more general education. I have in mind a student having a science degree and spending two years learning the application of science, modern engineering or something of that kind. I hope that the Commission will find it as possible to fit in these students as to fit in students who are to spend a couple of years in advanced, specialised research work in their own field of study.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I should like to support the Amendment which has been proposed so persuasively by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson). He gave a number of details which might fairly be regarded as guiding lines or principles for the guidance of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, but he did not put all of those in the Amendment. It is a very moderate one and supplies something which is lacking in the Clause which he seeks to amend.
My hon. Friend merely asks that two indications should be given to the Commission, which I think the Commission would welcome, because there are not, in the Clause, any indications of principles or any guiding lines to actuate the Commission in the selection of students. The Clause is very wide. It gives powers to the Commission in the selection of reci- 1404 pients of awards and the making of arrangements for placing them at universities, but it does not say what the Commission must have in mind. I hope that the Commission will be composed of men and women of great distinction who will have their own ideas about the principles on which they should act in selecting students.
There is no guiding line in the Clause, nothing to indicate what is in the mind of Parliament about the method by which students should be selected. The Amendment supplies that guiding line and indicates a principle which is absent from the Clause. The Amendment asks the Commission to act upon two ideas, namely, the widest practicable distribution of recipients and distribution according to locality and the subject of study.
The converse of that, if the Commission were a thoroughly perverse Commission—which I am sure it would not be—would be for the Commission to select recipients of scholarships from one university or from one Commonwealth country. That would be thoroughly bad, but it could happen. The Amendment would negative anything of that sort. It does not go to the other extreme, but it provides principles and a guiding line for the Commission which I am sure the Commission would welcome. I ask the Minister to accept the Amendment.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
I think that I can assure the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) that the general approach which he expressed in his speech to this problem of placing students is one with which the Government fully agree and which, I am quite certain, will be in the mind of the Commission when it is established and begins to enter upon its work. I think that the Committee generally will agree with me when I say that the Commission should have three considerations in mind when placing scholars at universities and other institutions in this country.
It would be right that the Commission, first, should consider any preference that the individual coming here for a scholarship should express about a particular university or institution. We are not dealing with automatons but with people invited to this country to take advantage 1405 of facilities available here for their graduate or post-graduate training. And we would wish them, if possible, and when appropriate, to have a say in the nature and character of the institution in which they would be spending two or three years.
Secondly, the Commission must ensure that the university or college selected provides proper and adequate facilities for the study or research upon which the student or scholar would be engaged. Thirdly, and here we come to the object of the Amendment, it is most important in our view that this body of scholars and Fellows coming to this country from overseas should be spread as far as possible over the full field of the academic life of the United Kingdom, both geographically and from the point of view of the many subjects which they will be coining here to study.
I was recently in Liverpool and was introduced, not for the first time, to the work of the School of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University. I speak here without any great technical knowledge, but that school has a name in that field unequalled in almost the rest of the world. Again, the great distinction of the Medical School at Edinburgh University over many generations is very well known. Therefore, I would think that from the geographical point of view the Committee need have no fear that it would not be the purpose of the Commission to ensure that the facilities which are available in universities and technical colleges, colleges of advanced technology, and other institutions not directly connected with academic life in the full sense of the word but which can provide valuable training, will be used as appropriate and to the best of our ability.
In my speech on Second Reading, I made specific reference to the inclusion of the study of music and drama and other allied cultural subjects. As for the W.E.A., an organisation in the work of which many of us have taken part in the past, I should have thought that where a scholar came from overseas to study our extra-mural work it would be appropriate that, using as his base an extra-mural department of a university, he should undertake field-work in conjunction with the W.E.A. I should have 1406 thought that to be an appropriate way of studying that subject.
Interested as I am in adult education, I am quite certain that the development of that education in this country over the years would be of interest to some of the less technically developed countries of the Commonwealth which will be sending students here. If it were to arise that the distribution of the scholars and Fellows coming here was not as widespread as we envisage, it is possible, under Clause 1 (7), for the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to give directions to the Commission to ensure that it complies with any general broad principles in the administration of the scheme which would seem to the Government to be right and proper. But let me make it quite clear that it is our intention throughout our approach to the scheme that the Commission should be as free as possible to exercise its own wisdom, initiative and experience without the issuing of special directions, unless that necessity arose.
I hope that the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs will feel that it is not necessary to press the Amendment, that we are very much in sympathy with its purpose and that if it is necessary to take action it can be, and indeed will be, done administratively. We do not anticipate that it will be necessary. I am quite convinced that the Commission, once it has embarked on its work, will approach it in the spirit which motivated the hon. Member in moving the Amendment.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
May I ask the Minister a question? In putting forward to the Committee reasons why the Amendment should be resisted, the hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to subsection (7) of Clause 1, and has pointed out that under the Bill there is power for the Secretary of State to give directions to the Commission on how it shall discharge its functions. Could he give us an assurance that those directions will be made public, so that we may know how the Commission will discharge its functions in acordance with such directions as may be given by the Secretary of State? If the Minister could give us an assurance to that effect, it would affect me materially.
§ Mr. Alport
Yes; I can assure the hon. Gentleman that if directions are given by the Secretary of State, particularly on matters in which we know the House to be interested, those directions will be published.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
The assurance given by the Minister to my hon. Friend goes a considerable way to meeting the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson). I am bound to say, however, that the Minister made almost as good a speech in support of the Amendment as that of my hon. Friend and I could not see why he had to resist including these words in the Bill. Of course, we hope that the Commission when appointed, will pay close attention to the comments that are being made in these proceedings. We hope also that the Secretary of State will keep a careful watch on matters to make sure that the point is looked at closely. Indeed, we tabled the Amendment in the first place primarily because of the point made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) during the Second Reading debate.
I hope that the Minister will understand that there are real grounds for anxiety here. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs quoted figures. It is unusual for two sets of academic statistics to agree but, as far as I could see, my hon. Friend's statistics agreed almost exactly with those I have. As he said, there is a marked disproportion at the moment, taking overseas and, therefore, presumably, Commonwealth students as a whole, in their distribution throughout the United Kingdom. For instance, London University has 21 per cent. of the university students of the United Kingdom, but has 42 per cent. of the overseas students. Oxbridge has 17.7 per cent. of the university population of the United Kingdom but has 27 per cent. of the overseas students. On the other hand, Redbrick has only 25 per cent. of the overseas students but provides 38 per cent. of the university places in the country. The disparity in Scotland is not so great, but it is large enough to be watched. There, 13 per cent. of the students come from other areas, whereas Scotland provides 17.2 per cent. of the university places.
1408 When we come to the technical side, which is particularly important in connection with Commonwealth scholarships, the disproportion in relation to London is even bigger. At present, London has 60 per cent. of the overseas students who are studying technical subjects. This seems grossly disproportionate when one remembers that, although the technical education facilities in London are good, London is not necessarily the greatest, and it is certainly not the biggest of the industrial and technological centres of the country. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will watch this point closely.
I disagree with my hon. Friend's emphasis on one point. He described the overwhelming preponderance of "Oxbridge" places for the Marshall and Commonwealth fund scholars. He said this preponderance was not so great when dealing with Commonwealth students in this country as a whole, but the object of the Bill is not to provide places for a general body of students from Commonwealth countries. They are to be special people and these are to be important scholarships. We all hope that they will establish for themselves the same prestige that attaches to Rhodes scholars or to some of the other special scholarships. In the ordinary way I think that a substantial number, a much higher number than the general body of students chosen for these scholarships, will want to come to Oxford or Cambridge or to London University. As the Minister has said, it is important that if a person is to be awarded one of the scholarships his wishes should be taken into account.
I assume that the purpose of the Commission, and the United Kingdom's part in these arrangements, is to have before it a fairly wide selection of applicants for the 500 places, so that it can make a choice from this fairly wide number of applicants with the consideration of geographical and academic distribution in mind. It will be a considerable problem and a great deal of effort will be needed on the part of the Commission, and maybe on the part of the Secretary of State in due course, to make sure that the motive behind my hon. Friend's Amendment is fulfilled.
1409 This leads me to the question of the Commission, which is dealt with in later Amendments. I hope that when the members are appointed they will be pressed strongly not to show any academic timidity in making awards. I am thinking now not only in terms of ensuring that the scholars are spread widely throughout the United Kingdom, but also that the disciplines for which the awards are made are on a wide scale and have a practical application.
The countries of Africa have a very small educated elite. However brilliant, in the scholarly sense, students may be, coming from one of those countries they will almost inevitably be dragged into the general public life of their country on their return. Almost inevitably, they will find themselves taken out of their academic cloisters and made to play an important part in the general public life of their country. Therefore, I emphasise the point made by my hon. Friend, that in the post-graduate courses particularly we should give these people an opportunity to study here in a way which will have the maximum public usefulness when they go back into positions of leadership and responsibility in their own countries.
I believe that the award of this comparatively small number of scholarships should be given the same emphasis as the Americans give with their Smith-Munt scholarships. We should try to ensure that they are awarded not only to good scholars, but to those who, when they return, will play an important part in the general life of their countries. Therefore, I hope that considerable imagination will be used in making the awards and that all the points made by my hon. Friends about adult education, and so on, will receive special attention.
One of the special channels in which the awards will be most useful is that of general post-graduate work in political science, particularly for students from African and Asian countries, and especially from the emerging countries in Africa, to come here, as do some of the Fulbright scholars, and study the workings of our political parties and political systems. In the long run, that would produce valuable results, and it would also be useful if at least one of the awards in the early stages was for trade union studies.
1410 Here again, it is important that we do not apply too rigid an academic criterion to a number of the awards. The kind of person who so frequently come and sits on the opposite side of the table from Ministers in the Government to high-light political questions in Africa is not always the one who has acquired a normal academic background. I hope, therefore. that this will be taken into account.
I also hope that the point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) during the Second Reading debate, about awards to women, will be looked at carefully. We shall all be scrutinising the Commission's choice of the first 250 scholars, I hope that it will not be necessary for the Secretary of State to issue any general directions to the Commission about distribution, but if it is necessary I hope that he will not hesitate to do so.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
In view of what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I beg to move, in page 2, line 9, to leave out "high".
Clause 1 is certainly not particularly clear when one tries to define its exact meaning. It will be noticed that the appointments to the Commission shall consist of not less than nine plus the chairman and it might go to 14 members butnot less than four of the members shall be persons appointed as the holders of high academic office.I should like to press the Minister to give us some definition of what he means by "high academic office".
I know that it is customary these days, whenever a commission, or a court of inquiry, or a Royal Commission is to be appointed, to look round to discover what vice-chancellors at their universities are available. It seems that in most of our Government Departments there is a small panel of vice-chancellors and they are called upon time and time again to serve on public inquiries.
I hope that in the drafting of the Clause the Minister is not thinking only of vice-chancellors. Many vice- 1411 chancellors are of great distinction and would be admirably suited to the kind of work which the Commission would do, but I would point out to the Minister that there are other fish in the sea and a number of persons holding high office in the academic world who are worthy of consideration. I am thinking, for instance, of the Warden of All Souls, or the head of the London School of Economics. They are not vice-chancellors, but, at least, they are people of academic distinction whose service on a commission such as this would be of very real value. Therefore, I should like to know what precisely the Minister means by "high office".
Does he, for instance, include the Lord Rector of a Scottish university? "Jimmy" Edwards, as a case in point, holds that distinction. Would he be treated as a person holding high office? I should like to know what is in the Minister's mind, because the interpretation of this Clause may be extremely narrow. I hope that it will be interpreted in as liberal and wide a way as possible.
Let me also point out that, presumably, the four members chosen must be actual holders of high academic office. We all know, if vice-chancellors may be selected, that they generally hold office for only a year, although sometimes for more than a year. I believe that at Oxford the holding of that high office is changed from time to time. Will the persons selected for the Commission be relieved of their work on the Commission when they cease to hold high office in the universities? Take the question of distinguished persons who are nearing retirement. Let me give, as an example, Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders, who has rendered enormous service in overseas development in Commonwealth matters and Professor Priestley, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, who is similarly interested in overseas Commonwealth problems. Are we to understand that when they ceased to hold office they would have automatically ceased to be members of the Commission? There is also Durham University. The present Vice-Chancellor, Sir James Duff, has been used considerably in Government work in connection with Commonwealth questions. Is it 1412 likely that he would be asked to withdraw from the Commission at the end of his year of office as Vice-Chancellor of Durham when the section of the University at Newcastle takes over? There they alternate. One year it is Durham that has the vice-chancellor and the following year it is Newcastle. I want to know what is meant by the phrase "holders of high office".
While discussing the composition of the Commission, I should refer to the fact that in the academic world there are a number of people who are extraordinarily able for this kind of work. I hope that at least one, or possibly more than one, will be a distinguished woman professor. I would mention, for instance, the Principal of Bedford College, who has played a tremendous part in university education in the Commonwealth and who would make a most admirable person for a Commission of this kind. At Oxford, there is Miss Margery Perham, who is in charge of the colonial side of the Nuffield College. There is also Lady Barbara Wootton, who is distinguished academically. I hope that at least one of such women will be included in the Commission. There are other distinguished ladies whom I could well mention and who have played a most notable part in Commonwealth education and the extension of university education overseas.
There are also distinguished academic people whose discipline is of very great importance, such as the discipline at London University of a man like Professor Ashton, in economic history, or Professor Titmuss, in social science. I would ask that academic persons of this quality should be brought into most careful consideration when the constitution of the Commission is being dealt with.
I do not want to repeat what I said in the Second Reading debate about the wide choice of other than academic persons for service on the Commission. Many people concerned with education, including those concerned with adult education and the teaching of social science, are worthy of consideration. But, apart from those, consideration should be given to people in industry, finance, commerce, and even trade unionism, where a great deal of educational work is being done.
1413 I would like to see the Commission as broadly based as possible. It should not be made up entirely of academic people, but should include people who have a real knowledge of the workaday world and also a deep appreciation of academic standards and facilities available for further study. They would be able to bring their wide range of experience of life into the work of the Commission.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones). It seems to me that the introduction of the adjective "high" is most unfortunate. As far as I know, there is no precedent for it. We are, therefore, entitled to hear from the Minister what, precisely, he means by "high academic office". It is obviously not a term of art. It does not admit of any precise definition; indeed, there is no definition in the Bill. Will the Minister therefore tell us what this new phrase is intended to mean? What does he regard as "high academic office"?
Does he confine the term to the vice-chancellors of universities? If so, does he include ex-vice-chancellors? Or does the definition extend to the heads of colleges, including the Warden of All Souls? If it is extended as far as that, is it limited to the heads of colleges, and does it exclude professors of universities, including professors of long service and great distinction, who, perhaps, in addition to their teaching experience, have also had administrative experience of the work of the universities to which they are attached? If professors are included in the phrase, is that the limit of its extent, and are readers and others of similar distinction excluded? We are entitled to know.
I agree with my right hon. Friend that in these days there is an unfortunate tendency to burden people who are exercising important offices and administrative duties in universities with all kinds of extraneous functions, as members of Royal Commissions, Government committees, and various work of an inter-university kind. There must be some limit to the term, otherwise the Clause is not in the interests of the universities or of the persons about whom we are talking, or of the carrying out of new functions with which the Bill is concerned.
1414 I am not sure that it is necessarily a good idea to stipulate that the Commission should include four persons who are holders of high academic office. It might be much better if the net was deliberately extended to include persons who have recently retired from high academic office. My right hon. Friend put a very pertinent question. He asked what will happen to people who are appointed to the Commission as holders of high academic office but subsequently cease to hold such office. That is particularly relevant to posts like those of vice-chancellors of certain provincial universities, which are held in rotation. I should have thought that if such persons were appointed to the Commission they ought not to have to retire from it because they cease to hold the office which qualified them for appointment in the first place.
But I go even further. I hope that, as a result of reflecting upon this debate, the Minister may think it fit to recast the wording of the Clause so that it ends with the words:four members shall be persons appointed as holding or as having held office of academic distinction.I should have thought that the Minister would be able to get a much wider recruitment if he adopted that suggestion.
We are all anxious that the Commission should be fully representative of the many diverse interests connected with the objects which the Bill is intended to serve. Its members will have quite arduous duties to perform, and I hope that, as far as possible, they will be drawn from the relatively leisured or retired classes, so that they will be able to give proper attention to their duties. For those reasons I not only support the Amendment, but wish it had gone further. I hope that, as a result of considering the debate, at a later stage of the proceedings the Minister may be able to find a happier phrase to give expression to the intention behind the Clause.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the Amendment, which is put forward very seriously. It could do no harm to the purposes that he has in mind. The deletion of the word "high" will mean that he will still be able to appoint persons holding high academic 1415 office. The Amendment will widen the field of selection. Apart from that, the Clause has the defect of definition to which my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) has already drawn attention. Nobody knows what the phrase "high academic office" means. If the word "high" remains in the Clause there may later be a good deal of argument whether a quite suitable person is legally qualified to serve on the Commission, although the Minister wants him to do so.
I want to go even further than my right hon. and hon. Friend in urging upon the Minister the desirability of having power to select one or two people who do not hold particularly high academic office. I am, naturally, in favour of people who do hold such an office serving on the Commission; indeed, as a former academician I would fight very strongly for their inclusion. It would be quite absurd if the Commission consisted entirely of people who had no knowledge of the ways in which universities work.
On the other hand, it would be a great mistake to have, as the sole representatives of the academic world, persons who, by the present definition, would inevitably tend to be middle-aged, if not elderly. We do not want to have this representation confined entirely to men who, having risen to high positions, necessarily take an administrative rather than a human view of their task of selection. The older we get—and this is true of nearly all of us, although perhaps we should except the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers)—the more out of touch we get with young people, and the more difficult it is to remain completely en rapport with them to understand their moods and fancies, and what sometimes seems to us their eccentric behaviour.
I would like to see on the Commission one or two persons whose time has lately been occupied mainly in university administration. Such men have often had wide opportunities of travelling to the various countries from which they will have to select candidates from these fellowships. They have a knowledge of conditions overseas which can be very valuable. I am not against the election of one or two vice-chancellors and senior 1416 professors, but I very much want to see on the Commission a few much younger people who have not attained high academic office—who have not reached the rank of professor.
I assume that the words "high academic office" would mean all posts from that of professor upwards, but would not include posts below that rank. There ought to be on the Commission the kind of younger man who has been abroad and studied in a foreign university in completely different surroundings from those of his own country. He should be a man who has undergone the experience of having to get in touch with an entirely new group of students with different patterns of behaviour and who knows what it is like to have to settle down in a new environment. In short, a man who has been through the mill. He should be a man who has been through what these Commonwealth students will have to go through, but who is still young enough to feel that he fully understands them. At the interview he will be able to put understanding and sympathetic questions that will put the young men and women coming before the Board at their ease.
Nothing puts a person more at his ease than encountering someone who is not much older than himself and, therefore, does not feel intimidated by him. Nothing would be better than to have on the board somebody who, by reason of his years, is still in sympathy with the young people, understands their difficulties, and brings out the best in them.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
I support the Amendment. By a curious anomaly the Clause is more perfect without the word "high" than it is with it, because "high" is a relative word. What is "high"? Some academics may be higher than others. Is it to be a chancellor, a vice-chancellor, a professor, a bachelor of arts, or a failed bachelor of arts? It is meaningless as it stands. Either the word "high" should remain in the Clause and an interpretation Clause should be added to the Bill, or the word should be taken out. Being a relative ward it is meaningless as it stands.
The Commission will, presumably, be appointed by the Secretary of State who is given ample power under the Bill to 1417 deal with a perverse Commission. For example, Clause 1 (7) reads:In the discharge of their functions the Commission shall comply with any directions given to them by the Secretary of State:….That is a very wide power and if the members of the Commission are "low" rather than "high" in exercising their duties the Secretary of State can deal with them under Clause 7.
I therefore suggest that the case for the elimination of the word "high" is unanswerable, and I hope that the Minister will accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Robert Edwards (Bilston)
Far be it from me to delay the proceedings of the Committee, but the Amendment is an important one because the work of the Commission is vital to the Bill. The points that have been made are so important that the Minister ought to give way and accept the Amendment.
What is needed most in the underdeveloped areas? They need primary school teachers. That is their greatest requirement. They need trade union organisers to organise the workers and institute some rational system of negotiation so that there is discipline among the workers. They need advisers in the development of co-operative societies. The Commission must have practical people serving on it.
I would like to see a man like Mr. James Johnson, who was the Member for Rugby in the last Parliament, a man of vast experience in colonial affairs, a man of practical experience, a real idealist, and an ex-schoolmaster, on the Commission. He is not at the top of the academic world, but men of that calibre would be of tremendous import on a Commission of this nature. I would also like to see a man like Sir Vincent Tewson on the Commission. He has done a lot of work in helping toilers in the underdeveloped areas to build up their own trade unions. Mr. Marshall, the head of the Co-operative College at Loughborough, would also be a great asset to the Commission.
Men and women with practical ability and knowledge of functional organisation in the underdeveloped areas would make an important contribution to the success of what we intend to do under the Bill. I hope that the Minister will accept this important Amendment.
§ Mr. Alport
When considering the Amendment, and, indeed, the wording of the Bill, it never crossed my mind that the Warden of All Souls, or the principal of the London School of Economics, were not included under the technical term of occupying high academic office. I am sure that it would be as much as my life would be worth to stand here and say that they did not occupy high academic office. They would, of course, both come within the definition.
In our view, however, the definition extends further than that. It extends to the heads of houses in universities, to the principals of technical colleges, and to anyone who, in the words of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, are active in academic life in a particular sense. The success of the scheme will depend primarily on the willing and constant co-operation of university authorities with the Commission, and with all those who are entrusted with carrying it out. It is, therefore, most important that the Commission should contain representatives from universities and academic life who have a high contemporary influence in that field. That does not exclude some additional fifth person who, let us say, represents a different strata of academic life; perhaps a junior Fellow or junior lecturer who has particular reasons for understanding the problems from the point of view of his contemporaries.
We are most anxious that the Commission should have represented on it four individuals who carry influence in the world of the universities, the colleges of advanced technology, and, indeed, all the senior institutions. They will enable co-operation between the Commission and those who are responsible executively for the management of the affairs of the academic world to proceed easily and in close co-ordination. I think that the word "high" has significance, and I hope that the explanation which I have given to the Committee will enable the right hon. Gentleman not to press the Amendment.
Let me make it clear to the Committee that my noble Friend the Secretary of State intends to include a woman in the membership of the Commission when it is appointed. We have already made it clear that it is our intention that the Commission should include in its membership representatives of industry and 1419 of the trade unions. I have already said that the inclusion of four persons of high academic standing, holding high academic office, does not exclude other representatives from the academic world. As far as possible, although the membership must be limited in some way, the Commission will be representative of those interests that have a right and a contribution to make to the success of the scheme.
Above all, let me emphasise that the organisations that have the greatest contribution to make to the success of the scheme are the universities, the technical colleges, and the institutions of learning in this country, and therefore their right to have members on the Commission should be preserved. That is the purpose of the Clause.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
I thank the Minister for giving way. I want to draw attention to the fact that the draftsmen of the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum thought so little of the word "high" that he did not use it. He has paraphrased this part of the subsection by saying:At least four members are to be persons active in academic life.He does not say a word about "high".
§ Mr. Alport
That is true. As I pointed out, the object is to ensure that they are active in the executive departments of academic life, because the organising of the scheme will depend to a large extent on the co-operation between the Commission and the universities.
I have tried to reassure not only my hon. Friend for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), who raised the matter of female representation on the Commission on Second Reading, but other hon. Members that there is scope for representation on the Commission for all those interests which have a contribution to make to the work of the scholarship and fellowship scheme. I wish to emphasise to the Committee that if a member who is appointed because of his active participation in the executive work of a university subsequently ceases to hold the office there is no reason why he should not continue as a member of the Commission although no longer included among the four specifically holding high academic office during their appointment 1420 to the Commission. Therefore, I do not think that there is really any danger or prospect of the various difficulties which hon. Members have raised actually eventuating.
We are most anxious to reassure the universities that they will be properly and adequately represented on the Commission with which they will have to work very closely and which will be dependent to a very large extent upon their willing and close co-operation throughout the currency of the scheme. We believe that this provision will reassure them, and, therefore, as I have said, I hope that on these grounds the right hon. Gentleman will not press his Amendment.
§ Mr. Creech Jones
Before the Minister concludes, may I ask him about the durability, the period, of these appointments? I referred to a vice-chancellor—I think that that is what he is called—of Durham University who ceases to hold office after a year and then a representative of Newcastle University takes over. It is probable that on such a Commission we should want a person of the calibre of Sir James Duff. Does it follow that because such a man ceases to hold office one year, even though he may take it up again after an interval of another year, he is to cease to hold his place on the Commission because of the annual appointment made from Durham?
Supposing one wished to have Sir Alexander Carr-Saunders. It is perfectly true that he has finished as Principal of the London School of Economics, but his work is still going forward, I believe, under the auspices of the Colonial Office in regard to higher educational development. When he ceased to be the Principal would he have automatically been removed from his appointment on the Commission? It seems to me that, if we are to chop and change, because there may be no vacancy on the Commission at the time, the holder of the office will cease to serve.
§ Mr. Alport
I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it would not be proper for me to apply my arguments to the case of a particular individual, but, generally speaking, there is no reason why someone who has been appointed to the Commission as a holder of high academic office, and who ceases 1421 to hold that office, should cease to be a member of the Commission.
The right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, recognise that my noble Friend can appoint not less than a total of 10 and not more than a total of 15. Therefore, as I see it, there will be vacancies available if it is necessary to continue the services of a distinguished member of the Commission after he has ceased to qualify under this Clause.
We think it most important that we should reassure the universities that the Commission should always contain at least four individuals of great distinction who are engaged contemporaneously in the active executive work of the universities or the high institutions of technology.
§ Mr. Marquand
I really cannot see why the Minister cannot accept the Amendment. As I have already said, if the word "high" is omitted he is still entirely at liberty to appoint academic persons with extremely high distinctions. He could fill the four posts by gentlemen of over 70 years of age. I hope that he would not, but he could. If the word " high " were removed there would be nothing to prevent him filling all the posts with persons holding high office, yet if he leaves the word in the Bill it tends to be restrictive.
The hon. Gentleman has not given us any real assurance that among the remaining members of the Commission he will see that a younger academic person who has not yet attained high academic office will be included. If we could have an assurance of that kind, if the hon. Gentleman would say, "I will undertake to see that among the remainder of this group there will be someone like the kind of man you have in mind," then we might be satisfied though I still cannot see why the Amendment cannot be accepted.
It would not make the slightest difference at all to the action which the Secretary of State would be empowered to take if the word were not in the Clause, but it would widen the scope of his choice if the word were omitted. Rarely has there been an Amendment with more merit in it than this one to delete one word from a proposed Measure. I would not wish to divide the Committee unnecessarily on a Bill 1422 of this kind, on which we all so much agree. I appreciate, of course, that the Minister of State is not the final authority here. The final authority is his noble Friend the Secretary of State. When a Minister is not occupying the highest office in a Department he may be at a disadvantage on these occasions. I appreciate that, and that may be the situation here.
If the hon. Gentleman feels that he cannot accept the Amendment, which would not, in fact, limit his powers in any way, but would leave him free to fill four posts with senior high academic authorities, and as we cannot ask him to make an appropriate Amendment on Report because, in all probability, there will not be a Report stage if Amendments are not accepted, will he draw the attention of his noble Friend to what has been said here today and convey to him the strong feeling of those of us on this side of the Committee that there really ought to be in this group representing the academic world some young men, around the age of 30, who have not yet joined the Establishment whether by reason of honours or choice, or because of hardening of the arteries? Let us have younger men on the Commission.
If the hon. Gentleman will say that he will draw his noble Friend's attention to the importance of this matter and ask him to consider it when the bill reaches another place, I shall be satisfied not to divide the Committee.
§ Mr. Alport
May I say that as far as I am concerned I would, of course, willingly draw my noble Friend's attention to the point made by the right hon. Gentleman and also by his right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) at the beginning of his speech. I can assure the Committee that it is my noble Friend's intention that the Commission when appointed shall be as broadly representative as possible. I would have thought that it followed logically that that representation should be on an age group basis, or representative of generations, as well as representative of interests in this field. I am sure that my noble Friend would consider very sympathetically, when the time came to make the appointments, the points that have been made by the right hon. Gentleman today.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Before the right hon. Gentleman concludes, may I just put this point to him? May not the Secretary of State get himself into a rather invidious position if someone appointed as one of the four holders of high academic office changes his office for another? The Minister has said that this would not mean that that person would have to leave the Commission—that there is room and flexibility—but, presumably, there would then be only three people who, in the formal sense, would hold that high academic office, and a fourth would have to be appointed. Will there not, therefore, be occasions when the Secretary of State will be in the embarrassing position of saying to the academic figure who is then holding the post that he has to cease to hold it?
§ Mr. Alport
For the reasons I gave, I do not think that any embarrassment would eventuate. The truth is that there is a good deal of flexibility about the Commission. As I said earlier to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), we will certainly consider the arguments advanced this afternoon—and, indeed, during the Second Reading debate, because a number of detailed points were put then. With that assurance, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will now feel able to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Mr. Marquand
The Minister has gone some way towards meeting me and, of course, there will be opportunities to draw the attention of noble Lords in another place to this point before Parliament finally parts with the Bill. Solely, then, to avoid the appearance of disharmony in the Committee on the Bill. Which we strongly favour, but still regretting that the Minister was not prepared to accept this very simple Amendment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth. Devon-port)
I wish, first, to thank my right hon. Friend for agreeing that there will be a woman on the Commission.
Clause 1 (6) says that committees may be appointed by the Commission to help it. During the Second Reading debate, 1424 hospitality to students, and their reception—deciding where they were to live, and so on—were considered to be of great importance. I should like to know whether the Commission may appoint a hospitality committee if it wishes to do so.
I do not want to say anything against the excellent work of the British Council—it does wonderful work—but my right hon. Friend will recollect that several of my hon. Friends supported the idea of a hospitality scheme for these students. They will be here for only a short time, and we think that they should have the right to meet and mix with people of their own intellectual standing.
Can I be told whether this provision means that the Commission may appoint a committee, not necessarily consisting of those with academic qualifications, to discharge such functions as hospitality? Clause 1 (1, d) says that, among other things, the Commission will have the duty of… discharging any other functions arising out of the said Plan which the Secretary of State may assign to the Commission.
Could hospitality be one of those fuctions? That, perhaps, might meet the point made about getting younger people to help in this work for these students.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
I seek clarification of subsection (2) of the Clause, which deals with the classes of persons who may be selected for scholarships, and I want a declaration from the Minister, which he can easily give, because it will accord with the views expressed by the conferences from which the Bill sprang.
The Reports of both the Montreal and the Oxford Conferences indicated a desire, as has this debate, for the very widest Commonwealth selection. The Bill is designed to do this, but on the interpretation of this Clause I am not sure that the design is complete. The Clause sets up a Commission, which will be known as the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom, which is to be charged by subsection (1, a), with the duty, inter alia, ofselecting the recipients of awards arising out of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan to persons coming to the United Kingdom,1425 Clause 1 (2) deals with the field of selection, and the point I seek to make here is whether that selection should be wide or narrow. The subsection says thatThe persons to be selected in pursuance of paragraph (a) of the foregoing subsection shall be Commonwealth citizens or British protected persons (within the meaning of British Nationality Act, 1948) except"—and I emphasise that word "except"—where the Commission for special reasonsand I emphasise "special reasons"—approved"—and I emphasise the word "approved"—by the Secretary of State, otherwise determine.
Several other important questions arise in connection with Clause 1, particularly in relation to subsection (1, a) and subsection (2), which I have mentioned. These important questions require explicit answer and clarification by the Minister of State, and I shall elaborate the points that I seek to bring to his attention as clearly as I can in a moment or two. What I have so far said is by way of preface, though I do not intend to make a long speech.
These are the other important questions that arise. Who are the persons who may be selected within the meaning of the British Nationality Act, 1948? What are the special reasons which should actuate the Commission in making exceptions to the rule? What reasons should actuate the Secretary of State in giving or withholding his approval? Should the exceptions be directed towards inclusion of or exclusion from the classes of possible beneficiaries?
Why these unusual powers to be given to the Commission to make what are called exceptions; or to the Secretary of State to approve or disapprove of the selection made by the Commission? Who shall determine the personnel of the Commission? Presumably, it will be the Secretary of State. By what principles is the Secretary of State to be actuated in selecting the members of the Commission, including those high academic persons who have just been mentioned?
What qualifications are members of the Commission to hold, and what are to be their characteristics? My hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. R. Edwards) suggested certain types of persons who would be useful on the Commission, but who are not academic persons at all. It 1426 is, therefore, fair and relevant to ask by what principles would the Secretary of State be actuated in selecting the members of the Commission other than the four high academic people.
My last question is: should not the Commission, once appointed, be left to carry out its appointed task free from Ministerial interference? As I have mentioned, the Bill provides for Ministerial interference. It provides for the approval or disapproval of the Minister, the Minister is a politician, and in my submission it is wrong that the Commission, once appointed, should be subject to political control.
I go back to my question about the British Nationality Act. It is necessary to construe that Act in conjunction with this Bill to discover whether citizens of the Republic of Ireland—a most valuable set of students—may be selected to benefit, as, in my opinion, they should be.
Clause 1 (2) of the Bill provides that the persons who may be selected to benefit…shall be Commonwealth citizens or British protected persons (within the meaning of the British Nationality Act, 1948)…".The relevant part of the 1948 Act is Section 32. That is the interpretation Section, and subsection (1) refers to citizens of the Republic of Ireland in this way:'Alien' means a person who is not a British subject, a British protected person or a citizen of Eire.
That clearly means that a citizen of Eire—now a citizen of the Republic of Ireland—is not an alien. If he is not an alien, my submission is that he should be treated as a person eligible for scholarships under the Bill. He is not an alien, he is not a foreigner, he is not within the Commonwealth—but he is associated with the Commonwealth in a great many ways.
In those circumstances, does the Minister agree that a citizen of the Republic of Ireland is entitled to benefit under this Clause? Does he agree that this is the intention of the Bill, as it was obviously the intention of the preceding conferences out of which it sprang? Does he agree that this Clause is obscure on the point and should, therefore, be taken back to be so 1427 clarified as to make it clear that Irish students may be selected for scholarships?
The second point to which I want to draw the Minister's attention is this. What special reasons should actuate the Commission in making exceptions to the rule as to the persons who may be selected for scholarships? By what principle will the Commission be guided in selecting scholars? This is of the utmost importance, and guiding principles should be laid down, either in the Bill, or here and now by the Minister —but, preferably, in the Bill, by the House in advance—so as not to leave the matter obscure and at large.
The Commission may otherwise be actuated by religion, race or colour in a way that would deprive the plan of its chance of the success that the conferences desired. In our multi-racial Commonwealth we must pay equal respect to all religions, all races and all classes. Therefore, in my submission, this is the proper time to make clear by what principles the Commission will be guided in selecting beneficiaries for scholarships.
The Commission may, as I hope it will, consist of distinguished persons actuated by the noblest ideals, of high academic knowledge and wide experience, as mentioned in the Report. Here, perhaps, I may be allowed to remind the Committee of what the Report said on this point. On page 17 it is stated thatCommon ideals in themselves are not enough. They need fertile soil in which to flourish; as the Montreal Conference recognised, economic well-being is an important condition of cultural development.That was the wide and expansive way in which the conferences, out of which the Bill sprang, approached this matter. In my submission, the Bill is unworthy of those Reports.
Later, the same Report states:The improvement of education in itself encourages economic growth by increasing the supply of trained people which an economy of growing complexity requires. It also develops in all responsible men and women the qualities of judgment and wisdom, insight and sympathy which become increasingly important as civilisation advances.Those two short quotations make clear the broad and expansive way in which 1428 the conferences approached this problem. I say that, while this is a good Bill, it is too narrow. This is a good Clause, but it is too narrow, and it is defective in the ways to which I have referred.
I ask the Minister: are these the kind of principles, as adumbrated in the quotations which I have just read, which Clause 1 is designed to implement? Will they be applied by the Commission to that closely associated country which, in one sphere, produced Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats, and, in another and very different sphere, the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal Lord Montgomery? The Minister should remember the breadth of view expressed in those Reports when considering the application of the British Nationality Act to the submissions which I am making.
The Report goes on:The truth is that each country of the Commonwealth will be the richer and the more able to shoulder its responsibilities, not only towards its own people, but also to the world, if more of its abler citizens can share in the educational resources available throughout the Commonwealth.That is the last quotation with which I shall trouble the Committee.
I pass now to my third point on Clause 1. It is an objection to the power given to the Minister to overrule the Commission. I believe that the Commission should consist of men and women of ability, distinction and experience, and by that I do not mean necessarily high academic distinction. Those people, once appointed to the Commission, should be appointed for a term of years, and they should be free from Governmental control—I withdraw the word "Governmental"—they should be free from ministerial or political control of any kind, though subject always to the control of Parliament. There should be no trace of politics in their procedure or practice.
§ Mr. R. Edwards
How could they be subject to the control of Parliament if they are not subject to the control of a Minister? There must be accountability.
§ Mr. Hughes
I thought that the submission I was making was clear. They should be subject to the control of Parliament. I say there should be no trace of politics in their procedure or practice, 1429 otherwise they cannot envisage or implement the long-term policy which such a Commission should envisage and implement. If the Commission goes wrong—and here I answer my hon. Friend—it could be made subject to a Motion in Parliament, just as is a High Court judge. That would be the kind of check which this Commission, under Clause 1, would be subjected to.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am referring to the powers of the Commission. Otherwise, the Commission might be treated in the unceremonious fashion that other Commissions have been treated by this Government, notably the Devlin Commission.
This is a notable Bill, which may be of great benefit to the Commonwealth. It is a very important Bill, but Clause 1 is imperfect and should be taken back so that it can be redrafted and made worthy of the occasion.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
I wish to raise a point about the drafting of Clause 1 which seems odd to me. I do not remember ever coming across this kind of thing before in a Bill. Clause 1 (1) states:In this subsection 'the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan' means the Plan so named which was put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference held at Oxford in July, nineteen hundred and fifty-nine.This plan is referred to earlier in the Clause in relation to the duty of the Commission,…arising out of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan…What is the plan? Is it part of the Bill? If so, how has it become part of the Bill? I have here the White Paper, "Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan." Is this written into the Bill by the phrase contained in Clause I, and if so, why was not it done in the ordinary way by adding it as the First Schedule to the Bill? I take it that the text is not written into the Bill, and I should like an answer because the phraseology of the four lines which I have quoted seem to bear this out:In this subsection 'The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan' means the plan so named which was put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference…
1430 The White Paper clearly was not put forward by the Conference, and so I wish to ask the Minister to explain this matter in a little more detail. What are we writing into the Bill by this phrase? Is it the text of the White Paper, and if so why was not it put in in the ordinary fashion? If not, what exactly will the law consist of when the Bill becomes an Act?
§ Mr. Marquand
It seems to me that the subsection referring to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan and the duty laid on the Commission to discharge the functions arising out of the plan can best be understood by referring to the Long Title of the Bill, which is to:Made provision for matters arising out of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Education Conference.Therefore, before we part with this Clause which establishes and constitutes the Commission and gives it certain duties, it is incumbent on us to remind ourselves, and to draw to the attention of the Commission when it is finally established, what were the matters arising out of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Education Conference.
The Conference set those out at some length and it is worth while putting them on record. The Conference says of its plan:It will enrich each country of the Commonwealth by enabling an increasing number of its abler citizens to share in the wide range of educational resources available throughout the Commonwealth, and thus promote equality of educational opportunity at the highest level.That is one principle clearly laid down by the Conference which must be observed by the Commission—equality of educational opportunity. It states later on:The Commonwealth is a new experiment in human relationship. It is founded on a belief in the worth and dignity of the human individual and a recognition of the value of freedom and co-operative action.That is a second principle arising out of the recommendations of the Conference —the worth and dignity of the human individual. Then, again, it says:All races and peoples have made their characteristic contribution to the building up of knowledge, culture and values and all have something to give.There, I think, is the third principle which should guide the Commission in 1431 its work and the Secretary of State in the directions he may see fit at a later date to give to the Commission in supervising its work generally. Clearly, it must abide by those three principles, equality of educational opportunity, recognition of the worth and dignity of the human individual and recognition that all races participate in this. It seems to me that these are the three principles that to some extent my hon. Friends were searching for.
In asking the Commission to discharge its functions we must remind it of these three guiding principles. It has a two-way function to perform. It has to select, from candidates presented to it from overseas Commonwealth countries, recipients of awards in this country, and at the same time it has to select candidates from this country whose names could be submitted to receiving countries overseas. I think that the Commission can be relied on, when receiving such students from overseas as are recommended to it, to implement those three principles. I am sure that the Commission will not discriminate among them in any way whatever. It will not regard a person with black skin as being one with any less dignity, or a less worthy human being, than a person with a skin of any other colour. It will not discriminate among men and women on religious principles. Everyone may come here. Our universities long ago got rid of discrimination. Formerly they discriminated against Jews, Catholics and women, but that it not the case now. There is freedom of entry and equality of educational opportunity. We have no difficulties on that count and we should welcome these students from overseas from wherever they may come and whatever practices may operate in the countries from which they come. It is not the fault of students, if they come, shall we say, from South Africa, that discrimination is practised in their country.
But when we are sending students overseas, we must recognise that the Commission is under an obligation, if it is to fulfil the ideals of the Conference set out in the memorable words that I have quoted, to see that, directly or indirectly, it does not give any encouragement to practices of discrimination. 1432 When sending our young men and women abroad it must take care that it does not appear to tolerate or to give an imprimatur of approval to any university which may be forced—perhaps unwillingly as some are, as we know—to adopt a policy of discrimination.
I know, Sir Gordon, that in not selecting an Amendment which I tabled, you have it very much in mind that there is to be another debate on this subject on Monday. I will not attempt to anticipate that debate at all, but I think I can rightly ask the Minister of State whether he agrees with the description and the duties of the Commission which I have described; whether he agrees with us on this side of the Committee that the unanimous conclusion to which the Commonwealth Education Conference came does and should guide the Commission in discharging its duties, and that his noble Friend in supervising the Commission will have clearly in mind that it is these principles of equality of educational opportunity, equality between the races and the basic human dignity of the individual regardless of sex or colour which should actuate the Commission in the work it does in this two-way traffic between our country and the other countries of the Common-wealth.
§ Mr. Alport
Neither will I anticipate the debate which I understand is likely to take place on Monday. But, of course, I can assure the Committee that it is with the full agreement of the Government that we accede to the principles laid down at Oxford with regard to the basis of the whole of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. I do not think there can be any misunderstanding about our attitude, including the attitude of my noble Friend, to that after the agreement which was reached by the delegations at the Conference with regard to these guiding principles.
I have been asked a number of questions and I will do my best to answer them. The first came from my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). It is for the Commission to decide the nature of the sub-committees or standing committees, whatever form they may take, that it appoints under the powers given to it in 1433 this Bill. It would be for the Commission to decide whether it required to have a committee dealing with the question of hospitality, but I should have thought that as responsibility for this rests, under our plan, with the British Council, any action which is to be taken to provide for the hospitality and, indeed, the welfare of the students in their spare time should be more appropriately taken by the British Council itself. I should like to have an opportunity of discussing with my hon. Friend and, indeed, with any colleague who may be interested in this subject any ideas with regard to ensuring that in this country nothing is left undone which will make students who come here welcome and happy while they are in the United Kingdom.
I find myself in a little difficulty in following some of the arguments put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes). He asked my noble Friend not to interfere with the Commission's work. But on another occasion he made it clear that it was his view that my noble Friend should give very exact and detailed instructions to the Commission on how it should conduct its business. I think the principle that we intend to follow is the right one. My noble Friend, in accordance with the powers given to him under this Bill, will select those persons whom he feels have the capacity, qualifications, character and high standards which are necessary for them to perform the task as members of the Commission. Our duty after that is to leave it to them to conduct the tasks which fall to the Commission as seem to them best, although we have in reserve, under the powers given in the Bill to the Secretary of State, the right to give directions to the Commission should the necessity arise. But we do not anticipate for a moment that the number of directions that the Secretary of State will have to give will be numerous or frequent.
I cannot accept the view of the hon. and learned Member with regard to Clause 1 (2). As he knows from his long experience of the law, the definition of a Commonwealth citizen and a British-protected person in accordance with the British Nationality Act, 1948, is quite clear. It does not include a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. It does not 1434 include it in that Act and, therefore, it does not include it in relation to this subsection.
On the other hand, it is recognised by the Government that there may be occasions when persons coming to this country as applicants for scholarships may not be British citizens or British-protected persons, but may, in the view of the sponsoring countries, so to speak, be people likely not only to benefit from the facilities which are available here, but subsequently to make an outstanding contribution to life within the country sponsoring them.
§ Mr. Alport
Yes, foreigners or citizens of the Irish Republic. We do not want to exclude them completely. Discretion is given to the Commission and to my noble Friend to extend the facilities of these scholarships to them if, in the view of the Commission and of my noble Friend, it is right that that should be done.
I think the Committee will recognise that as this is a Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, the first priority and, indeed, the greatest benefit of it must be kept for those who are, in the definition of this subsection, "Commonwealth citizens or British protected persons."
The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) referred to some matters which I think are wider than the Bill, but I should like to say to him with great seriousness that the great value and the novelty of this plan is that it is not a one-way traffic. It is a multi-way traffic, if I may use such an expression, that is, people from the United Kingdom will go to Commonwealth countries and people from one Commonwealth country will go to any number of others. There is a process, therefore, of cross-fertilisation of ideas arising as a result of this Plan.
In those circumstances, I feel that we should not easily consider a proposal which would exclude people from this country going to any Commonwealth country where they will, after all, carry with them our ideas of academic freedom, of how contacts of this sort should be made and of the appropriate contribution of university academic life here. I would, therefore, find it difficult easily 1435 to accept the right hon. Gentleman's proposition. Nevertheless, that is a matter which, as he said quite rightly, may be in order for discussion at a later date. In those circumstances, I hope the Committee will give its approval to this Clause.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
Will the Minister of State answer the question with regard to the Commonwealth Plan?
§ Mr. Alport
I do not think there is any difficulty with regard to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East answered the question on my behalf. As the Bill says, the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Planmeans the Plan so named which was put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference held at Oxford…That definition is necessary because there is a reference in Clause 1 (1, a) to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. Therefore, it is necessary for the purposes of the Bill to make it clear that that reference in Clause 1 (1, a) applies to the whole scheme which was given this title of "Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan" at Oxford. I think it is merely included for clarification and has no other significance.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
The Minister cannot slide over this peculiar and muddled draftsmanship so easily. Do these words—'the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan' means the Plan so named which was put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference held at Oxford"—refer to Cmnd. 894 or to Cmnd. 841? We have two separate White Papers. There is the Report of the Commonwealth Education Conference containing general recommendations mentioned in the Long Title of the Bill, and then there is this somewhat odd White Paper entitled Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. If we go through those White Papers, we discover that in Cmnd. 894 there are a number of points that are not included in the recommendations of the Commonwealth Education Conference. So far as I can see, the point made in Cmnd. 894 thatthe Commission will be empowered to appoint at its discretion a panel of advisers dealing with relevant fields of learning,1436 is neither in the Report of the Commonwealth Education Conference, nor is it in the text of the Bill, unless I have overlooked it.
We are in a most peculiar position. I do not know what the position of the Commission will be, but Parliament is being asked to pass legislation with reference to a plan whose textual basis is contained in two separate White Papers. Why the Government did not do as has been suggested by one of my hon. Friends and put the powers of this Commission and the recommendations contained in Cmnd. 894 into a proper Schedule so that we could have debated them properly, I do not know. But what the Minister has said on this point is not good enough.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
What would happen if a court case arose in which somebody said "This is in the plan" and somebody on the other side said, "This is not in the plan"? How would the judge decide? Is there any text to which he could refer, or would he generally try to find out what happened at Oxford where some sort of plan was evolved?
§ Mr. Alport
There is a report of the Oxford Conference which gives the plan in detail. It is not purely a United Kingdom plan. It is a plan which covers the whole of the Commonwealth. The purpose of the Bill is to put into effect our section of this general plan which covers not only the United Kingdom but other Governments as well. In those circumstances, the definition clarifies the reference which was made earlier, so that there could be a reference to the point.
§ Mr. Thomson
Let us assume for the sake of argument that somebody is nominated by a Commonwealth Government to be a Commonwealth scholar, but that he is not selected by the Commission in this country on the ground that he is over the age of 35. Paragraph 12 of Cmd. 894 says:Commonwealth Scholarships will normally be open to men and women under 35…Preference will be given to candidates who are between 22 and 28 years of age.But this was not a specific recommendation of the Commonwealth Education Conference. All that the Conference said was that the question of age limits for Commonwealth scholarships should 1437 be decided between sending and receiving countries. Suppose someone decides to take action against Her Majesty's Government for being debarred illegally. How will the judge deal with the matter when he is presented with the text of the Act of Parliament that we shall have passed? It does not seem to be a satisfactory way of dealing with the matter.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
Surely the Minister should not be able to get away with it like this. It is obvious that he has failed to satisfy my hon. Friends on a really important point. The Government are introducing legislation which incorporates a White Paper as part of a statutory enactment.
§ Mr. Willis
Yes, two different White Papers. What are the precedents for this type of legislation? What does a person do if he wishes to know what is the law in relation to Commonwealth scholarships and he consults the Statutes in the Library and finds this sort of thing? I have spent some time with some of my colleagues examining in detail Acts of Parliament, and I have never seen this sort of thing before, where a Measure refers to a White Paper and includes that White Paper as part of the legislation enacted. If the hon. Gentleman does not know the answer, he should say so and promise that he will find it and tell us later. Up to the present he has not given a very good answer.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
I wish to press the point a little further. The Minister mentioned two White Papers, but singled out one. He said that what matters here is the Report of the Conference in other words, Cmnd. 894 does not matter. How is the judge to know that? The judge will look at the text of the Act, not at the speech of the Minister sponsoring it or any hon. Member speaking in the debate. The judge must interpret the text. How will he know from the text that it is the Report which is referred to and not Cmnd. 894? How are we to know that there is any certainty in the interpretation in this part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Alport
The answer is perfectly simple. The second White Paper, to 1438 which the hon. Gentleman referred, was provided by the Government for the convenience of the Committee, to assist hon. Members in considering the Bill. The first White Paper is the Report and represents the plan agreed at Oxford, of which specific mention is made in the passage to which the hon. Gentleman referred. There can be no doubt about it. The hon. Gentleman's question to me about a case which might be brought does not arise. If he thinks about it more carefully, I do not think that he will assume that it does.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), I have read Acts of Parliament for the last forty years and I have never seen in any Act a reference like that at the foot of Clause 1 (1):In this subsection 'the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan' means the Plan so named which was put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference held a' Oxford in July, nineteen hundred and fifty-nine.That is a very unusual, perhaps unique, attempt to make the Report of the Conference part of the Statute, but it is the wrong way to do it. If it is intended to make it part of the Statute, it should be put into a Schedule so that, whenever any contest comes before the courts about the construction or application of the Act, the learned judge will be able to construe it within the four corners of the Act, as he does with every other Act. He cannot do it unless the plan is incorporated in the Act. I do not want to make difficulties over a very good Bill. It is, otherwise, a Bill of good intentions. The proper thing to do is to take back the Bill and to incorporate the plan in a Schedule.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I am sorry to press this matter at this stage, but it is rather important and we are by no means satisfied. I listened carefully to the Minister's explanation and I accept it so far as it goes. He says that there should be no difficulty because the plan, so named, put forward by the Commonwealth Education Conference is the plan contained in Cmnd. 841.
My difficulty is that in the White Paper—turned out, as the Minister put it, for the convenience of the Committee, but it seems to be rather for the confusion of the Committee—there are 1439 a number of items which appear neither in the Report of the Conference nor in the Bill. Presumably, they are among the things we are supposed to be enacting.
On Second Reading the Under-Secretary of State made a very important point about the panel of advisers which the Commission will appoint to advise it on the selection of candidates and places. The panel of advisers is not among the recommendations of the Commonwealth Conference or in the text of the Bill. I have already referred to age limits. That question was not a recommendation of the Conference, nor is it in the text of the Bill, but it is in the White Paper, which apparently has no sort of standing, except as an explanation of the Bill. Paragraph 7 of the White Paper says:…the Association of Universities of the British Commonwealth will furnish the secretariat of the Commission.The Association is mentioned in the Report of the Conference as dealing with the central arrangements between the various Commonwealth countries, but this is a different matter in relation to our own Commission. There is no provision that the British Council will be responsible for paying the cost of passages, fees and allowances. That is in the White Paper, but not in the recommendations of the Commonwealth Conference and not in the Bill.
What will happen if a Commonwealth scholar brings an action alleging that the British Council has not performed its duties, and has not paid proper fees and allowances? His lawyer will look at the Act and find no provision for something which we are assured is intended by the British Government to be carried into effect. That sort of provision should have been in a Schedule so that we could know exactly where we stand.
We are not satisfied. I can understand the Minister's difficulty, but will he not at least say that he will reconsider the points made by a number of my hon. Friends? The Solicitor-General is in the Chamber now. Perhaps he can tell us the precedents for this kind of legislative draftsmanship. If the hon. and learned Gentleman does not feel inclined to take the plunge at the moment, the Minister should at least say that he will 1440 consult the Law Officers and, if it is found to be necessary, will introduce a Schedule when the Bill comes up in another place.
§ Mr. Alport
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman and others a little further. Their difficulty arises because they have misunderstood the character of the Oxford Conference. It was a gathering of distinguished delegations from a number of Governments. It reached general decisions about a scheme for scholarships and fellowships for the Commonwealth as a whole. It is in accordance with the spirit of the Commonwealth, and certainly with the spirit of the Oxford Conference, that every detail with regard to that plan should not be decided there. Every detail was not in fact decided there.
The plan which was drawn up was a general plan. As the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) knows, because he has been Secretary of State for Commonwealth relations, it has been the practice of the Commonwealth in dealing with such a matter to reach general conclusions and then leave it to the individual members to carry out the spirit and the intention of a proposal of this sort in accordance with the differing circumstances in each Commonwealth country.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman is saying about the spirit of the Commonwealth. We are not writing a Bill in which there is a spirit. We are writing a Bill in which there are letters. Such a spirit cannot be embodied in a Bill. A Government must be quite clear about what they are putting into a Bill. That is the complaint of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and there is much to be said for it.
§ Mr. Alport
The right hon. Gentleman has not, perhaps, followed the discussion entirely from the beginning. I am trying to explain the basis. It is for each country to include in its own legislation whatever may be most appropriate for its particular circumstances.
The Bill, therefore, provides entirely for our share of the plan. It gives, as I think is the wish of both sides, a great deal of latitude to the Commission. It gives enough powers to the Commission and to my noble Friend to enable 1441 them to carry out their responsibility. I am certain that the Committee would not like to lay down now every intimate detail of the plan. We have indicated in the White Paper some of our intentions. On the advice which we have had from the Interim Commission, we think that they are appropriate to the plan. As far as the Government are concerned and as far as the Commission is concerned, which is more important, I am satisfied that the Bill gives the powers necessary for them to perform the job.
We must leave it, as I hope that the Committee would wish, to the members selected to take up appointments on the Commission to carry out the United Kingdom share of the scheme in accordance with the spirit and general proposals of the plan. I hope that the Committee will feel that there is a proper assurance about Clause 1 and will give it its approval.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
I must press the Minister a little further. I accept what he says, so far as it goes. The Bill implements the recommendations of the Commonwealth Education Conference. It is a legislative expression of the spirit of mutual co-operation within the Commonwealth. The spirit of the Commonwealth cannot be put into a Statute, and no one is suggesting that. It might have been better if some method had been found in the text of the Bill not to make this peculiar reference to this kind of conference, to which it is impossible to give statutory definition. I am not quarelling with that.
The Minister went on to say that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to carry out her part of the agreement made at the Commonwealth Education Conference. The hon. Gentleman said that this is done in the Bill, together with the explanation provided in Cmnd. 894. That is what I am quarrelling with. The Minister is attempting to carry out the British Government's part of this agreement in the Bill, accompanied by a White Paper not referred to in the Bill, namely Cmnd. 894. The White Paper seems to contain a number of most important provisions for empowering the Commission to do its job.
The Minister said that he wants the Commission to have a great deal of freedom. Why did he not put what is in 1442 the White Paper into the Bill'? What will happen if the Commission decides that the age limit shall not be 35, but 45? Is that to be a breach of the Statute? Clearly it cannot be, because it is not in the Bill, although it is in the Government's White Paper. What will happen if the Commission decides not to appoint an advisory committee'? Where will the House of Commons stand then? The Under-Secretary was questioned about this on Second Reading. He gave an assurance that there would be an advisory committee. The advisory committee is in the White Paper, but not in the Bill. The Commission need not appoint an advisory committee. It would not be breaking the Statute if it did not.
Suggestions are made in the White Paper about the way in which scholars will be looked after, which is an immensely important part of the working of the scheme. It says that the British Council will be responsible. That is the type of thing which should be in a Schedule. What will happen if the Commission decides that it does not want to use the British Council? This would be within its powers under the Bill, but it is contrary to the proposition put before the Committee by the Government in the White Paper. It is improper that there is not a Schedule enacting some of the specific proposals set out in the Government's White Paper as their intention of how they will work the Act.
§ Mr. Willis
My hon. Friend raised a very important topic, to which the Minister has not replied. All he said was. "I am satisfied". It is not much of an argument for anyone to come to the Box and to say: "I am satisfied that it is all right". Why is the hon. Gentleman satisfied? It is not customary to legislate in a Bill and refer to a White Paper, the White Paper thereby becoming almost part of the legislation.
We are not questioning or attacking the Bill. We are merely mentioning points which seem to be important. We asked if there were precedents. The hon. Gentleman did not reply. What Act of Parliament refers to a White Paper and says that the purpose of the Act is to implement the White Paper? If that is done, the White Paper should be in the Bill, in the form of a Schedule. All that we are asking is that the hon. 1443 Member should look at this matter again, and, as the question has been raised, speak to his legal advisers to see whether it is in order. I should not have thought that it was beyond the ability of the hon. Gentleman or that it would impair his position if he said, "These matters have been considered. I do not know of any precedents, but I will look at the Bill again, so that if it is wrong or weak it can be rectified".
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Alport
I have already said that, on the best advice I can obtain and to the best of my knowledge and belief, this is not only in order but is the appropriate way of dealing with this problem, but I am quite prepared, in view of the representations made, to reassure myself on the point. If it would help the Committee to proceed with the Bill, I should be glad to do that.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.