HC Deb 14 July 1959 vol 609 cc321-52
The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

I beg to move, That the Statement of the Estimated Income and Expenditure of Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation for the year ending on 31st March, 1960, which was laid before this House on 2nd July, be approved. I think it would be most convenient to the House if I moved the Motion formally and later answered questions, which I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House have it in mind to raise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, should they catch your eye.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

It is with some pleasure that I speak tonight about the Royal Hospital School. First, I should say that in this debate, as in the debates on the Navy Estimates, we always welcome a new Parliamentary Secretary, and the unfortunate thing is that when next we debate these accounts we shall probably have another. The fact that during the past few years there has been a change of Parliamentary Secretaries has not in itself added to continuity in the work of the Board of Governors, of which the Parliamentary Secretary of the day is Chairman. This is no criticism of the interest shown by various Parliamentary Secretaries in the past, and I should like to say that the present holder of the position was kind enough to arrange for some of my colleagues and myself to visit the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook.

The arrangements made were excellent, and although the timetable reminded me somewhat of a naval operation, that, too, was excellent. I found the visit very pleasant, interesting and instructive, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the headmaster, Mr. York, and his staff for the splendid organisation of our visit, and for the kindness and courtesy with which we were received. What I saw there confirmed earlier impressions I had gained in discussions in this House and in conversations with my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu), who is a member of the Board.

One of the chief interests in this yearly debate has been to try to ensure that the tradition of the school is maintained, and that its progress, unlike that of many others, should not be that of having started as a charitable institution and ending as something quite different. Those of us who visited the school and talked to the staff and to the pupils can be reasonably satisfied that all is well in that respect.

One of the interesting things is that this is a comprehensive school, and I say that with a certain amount of pride. Some hon. Members opposite may be rather scared of that term, but it was pointed out to us with some pride that the first boy who went from the school to university had started in the lower grade, had passed through the various other grades, then into the sixth form, and so to the university. If ever we had an example of the desirability of a comprehensive school we have it here.

I do not want to detain the House too long, as I have no doubt that other hon Members will have something to say about their visit. I should like to confine myself to one aspect. As has been said in our previous debates, it is clear that a considerable amount of work needs to be done at the school. A certain amount of redecoration and improvement is necessary. The kitchens have also been discussed in many of our debates, and certain major improvements are essential.

The problem to which I shall apply myself is how this can be done. I start by reminding hon. Members of the speech made by the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary on 17th July, 1956, when he drew our attention to the fact that many of those things were required and ought to be done, but, unfortunately, the school was not in a financial position to carry out this work. It was announced to the House in July, 1956, that, unfortunately, for the first time fees would have to be paid for Holbrook School. We were assured that no hardship would be experienced and that great care would be taken to ensure that no boy would be prevented from going to the school because of financial hardship. We have been informed since that local authorities generally have been co-operating and assisting boys in the payment of fees. We should like to know whether this cooperation still exists and if it is satisfactory.

I find that the estimate on this occasion indicates that the amount it is hoped to collect in fees in the year ahead is £38,400. That, according to the number of boys at the school, comes to about £60 per head. In July, 1956, we were informed that the fee which would be charged would be in the region of £72 per boy. Taking into account those boys unable to make any payment, it seems to me that the school is about reaching the limit of what it can hope to secure by the collection of fees.

I should like to look at how the £38,400 will be spent. Since 1956, compared with the Estimate now under review, I find that there is a rates increase of £2,650, an increase in the cost of provisions of £2,300, an increase in the cost of clothing and bedding of £1,500, and an increase in the cost of water and heating of £3,570, which is a total increase so far from 1956–57 to the year which we are now discussing of £10,020. These items have nothing to do with providing better education and better facilities. The £10,020 is purely an increase in costs. If I wanted to make this a party matter, I could accuse the Government of allowing costs to rise, but I do not want to enter into any argument of that kind tonight.

The other increases are in wages to the staff of £2,510 and an increase in salaries of £12,600. The largest increase is in salaries. This brings a consequent increase in superannuation of £3,490. The total of all those items is £28,620. The only item which might have brought some benefit to the school is the increase in salaries, if that has provided extra and better staff. It would be interesting to know if the increase of £12,600 in salaries has had that effect.

The other item of increase is £8,095 on maintenance. I had expected a bigger increase in this item because we were informed that in the year 1956–57 a lot of work had not been done simply because the money was not available. If the school was to do the work expected of it I would have expected a larger increase in this item.

I understand that the major job that has to be done is in the kitchens. In the debate in July, 1956, we were informed that an estimate of £9,000 had been given for work in the kitchens. I would hesitate to say that that estimate still stands. That figure which was given by the then Parliamentary Secretary still stands in the OFFICIAL REPORT, but I am quite certain that with increasing costs the job which was estimated to cost £9,000 in 1956 would probably cost a good deal more today. Does this figure cover all the work in the kitchens, and will the kitchens be improved?

This total of £38,000, which is the difference between 1956–57 and now, is eaten up by these items which I have mentioned. Unfortunately, the expenditure continues to increase. I have looked at the actual accounts, the latest item which I have been able to find being for the year ended March, 1958. In the accounts we are able to compare the estimate for 1957–58 with the actual expenditure which occurred in that year, and we find rather a disturbing matter. In that year the Royal Hospital School estimate for expenditure was £175,905 whereas the actual expenditure was £187,123, a shortfall of just over £11,000. There was a sum of £11,000 more spent on the school than was estimated.

I have not the estimated figure for pensions, but the actual payment for this item was £11,000 less than the estimate. We have not had much discussion on pensions, but if expenditure in the school is increasing all the time and we are not able to make the payments in respect of pensions it is most disturbing. I find that in the year ended March, 1958, despite the fact that £11,000 less is paid out on pensions, the expenditure still exceeded the estimate by £8,000. A sum of £8,000 had to be transferred from the capital account to enable the books to be balanced.

Turning for a moment to other revenue, I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will not ask me to give the references; he knows where they are on the document, and I have just noted them here for my convenience. First, we find that revenue from other property has gone down between 1956–57 and the estimate for 1959–60. This is rather surprising. In these days of property deals, take-over bids, and so forth, I had imagined that property values were increasing. Here, unfortunately, there is a decrease. The income from interest on British Government and Commonwealth securities is considerably less than it has been hitherto. On the other hand, interest on debenture stocks and income from dividends on ordinary shares have increased considerably. I understand that this is the result of the Board having been given power to make certain alterations in its investment policy. Whereas until 1956 or 1957 the Board was limited to certain securities, it is now able, to some extent, to go, as it were, into the open market and buy ordinary shares and take advantage of capital gains and so on which take place. Interest on loans has gone down.

Despite all that, taking all the items together—revenue from other property, interest on Government securities, interest on debenture stocks, dividends on ordinary shares, and interest on loans—I find that between 1956–57 and 1959–60 the actual increase is only in the region of £8,000. There is not a great deal there.

The moral of my story is that, in spite of the economies which have been carried out and in spite of the fact that fees have been collected, there is a rise in costs at the school, a rise which is altogether outside the control of the Board of Management. Quite clearly, although there has been an alteration in investment policy, it would not be wise to carry that very much further. One must be careful. We must, I think, consider another way of obtaining some money.

Commander J. W. Maitland (Horncastle)

Having seen the school, the hon. Gentleman will agree, will he not, that the rising costs were due also to rising standards?

Mr. Steele

I do not altogether accept that in respect of the first group which I gave. In increasing salaries to teachers and other such matters, there may be some reflection there. Incidentally, I am taking the figures from 1956–57. I am not going back very far.

On the introduction of the block grant scheme for education, we expressed the fear that local authorities might not be too anxious to make a payment for these boys. We know what has already happened in Scotland. There is that danger. I think that the Government have a responsibility to look into this matter.

What the Parliamentary Secretary said in July, 1956, is interesting. He said: The hon. Member mentioned a direct grant, as did other hon. Members. They said they felt that there should be a direct grant paid by the Ministry of Education. From the Admiralty point of view, that would have been the simplest course. It was discussed at length with the Minister in 1954, and it was made clear that any grant which the Minister could make in line with grants to other comparable institutions would not be large enough to make a significant difference to the school's finances. Moreover, the fact that no fees were enforced would create difficulties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 17th July, 1956; Vol. 556, c. 1178.] Now fees are being enforced, and the unfortunate thing is that the financial circumstances of the school are no better today than they were in 1956.

I have discovered that there is a grant of £1,485 per year from the Ministry of Education. I have done some research into how this grant arose, and I have had to go back to the year 1895. In that year, the first grant was made from the Ministry of Education to the school. It amounted to £1,000. At that time, there were 1,000 boys in the school, so that the grant amounted to 20s. per year for each boy.

I tried to trace through the records the reason why this £1,000 was given, but unfortunately the records gave me no assistance. Accounts had been laid, but they were not debated, and in the year 1895 the House did not seem to approve them. I find that during that year there was some trouble in the Government, and the two sides of the House changed during the year without an election. No doubt there were troubles, but I could not find any indication as to why this £1,000 had been paid. I have no doubt that there was substantial justification for it, otherwise it would not have been given.

If the Government at that time found it necessary to give £1,000 and to continue to do so, there is no reason why it should not now be increased to bring it into line with the figure given in 1895. In that year, it cost £25 a year to keep a boy at Holbrook School. Today, the estimated cost is £295 per year, which is approximately twelve times as much. If 20s. for each boy was the Ministry of Education grant in 1895 and it should be twelve times as much today, the grant would amount to about £7,764. It seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary should go along to the Ministry of Education and to the Treasury to point this out. If he can discover why the grant was given in 1895 that would be helpful. I am prepared to come along with him to argue the case for an increase.

I think that the remedy to the problem lies in having a direct grant of some kind. If the Ministry of Education is not prepared to increase the present grant, I think that it should consider making a special grant for improvements of a costly nature. It might be a once-for-all grant, but at least something has got to be done.

Last week in this House we had before us Regulations to ensure that certain independent schools would not suffer because of the introduction of the block grant. In Scotland, with the introduction of the block grant, freedom was given to the local authorities to decide whether or not they would make a contribution to these independent schools, and the local authorities decided not to give a contribution. So the Government felt something ought to be done. Last week they brought forward Regulations to ensure that those independent schools would not be left to their own resources, but that 60 per cent. of their maintenance costs would be supplied.

If the Government can do that in those circumstances, and if the House, as it has, can agree to a Bill to ensure that denominational schools will get more money to enable them to be maintained in proper condition, then surely it is within reason that we in this House should say to the Government that this is a school which is doing a wonderful job, which to a great extent is relieving the local authorities and the Ministry of Education of payments which they would otherwise be required to make, and that it is only reasonable that the Government should make a further contribution in some way.

The headmaster and the staff of the school have been doing magnificent work. We should give them all the encouragement we can, and I think that we should do so by bringing some pressure on the Treasury and the Ministry of Education to give them some financial aid.

9.32 p.m.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this debate. I took part briefly in the debate we had last year. Since then, thanks to the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, I and my colleagues, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) has mentioned, have had the opportunity of visiting Holbrook, and I should like to add my congratulations to his to the headmaster for the excellently sympathetic way he showed us around upon our visit on 1st July.

I was interested to find 12 boys from my constituency there, and I had the opportunity of meeting them, and I was very glad to find them extremely happy and making excellent progress.

What struck me particularly was to find an adequate and very enthusiastic staff. We visited everything from a classroom to the gymnasium and the magnificent swimming pool, and I think that in all the departments we found that the staff were very enthusiastic and taking a personal interest in the boys individually. I do not think that one could find a more enthusiastic staff.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dunbartonshire, West said that this is a comprehensive school. I do not think that we on this side of the House are against comprehensive schools where they are considered to be necessary. Indeed, I believe that the present Minister of Education has given permission for 11 to be built, but we do not want comprehensive schools purely for doctrinaire reasons, which is very different from the policy of the hon. Gentleman. I was very interested in the fact that in this school there are these two streams.

In asking the boys what they intended to do in future, what careers they were going in for, one was particularly gratified to find that they were thinking of taking such long, technical courses as are required to be veterinary surgeons, doctors, or farmers and that they really had got down to what I think is so essential for young people, considering at a fairly early age what careers they wanted to undertake. I understand that the liaison on this matter with the local authorities is extremely good, and that the employment officer visits the school to see a boy at an early stage of his stay to find out what career he wants to undertake.

As this was my first visit to the school I was impressed with the efforts made regarding the accommodation, but I should like to see a little more personal atmosphere in the accommodation for the boys. I noticed that there were no personal belongings, and not a single photograph of parents on view. In these very big dormitories, I should have thought that for the older boys, at any rate, it would have been possible to have provided cubicles in which they could have rather more privacy.

In such schools as Dean's Close, at Cheltenham, where there are also very large dormitories, they are provided and they give the older boys more privacy, which I think is very necessary when they are growing to adult age. I do not say they should not decorate their cubicles with photographs of film stars, but one can learn quite a lot from the way in which a boy decorates his cubicle, which is an indication of character. I think that it should be possible to give some facilities for having more personal belongings.

I was also interested in the practical difficulties that sometimes arise in the running of such a school. I am thinking particularly of the boiler house, where a vast boiler is still stoked by hand. I should have thought that if we were 1o go on using solid fuel, instead of oil, in this age it was not necessary to do this by hand. One does not want to dismiss any of the present staff, because they would probably find it difficult to get other jobs, but I hope that we shall consider having these boilers stoked from hoppers.

We also visited the sick bay, which was extremely well supplied, and I am glad to say that there were not many boys in it at the time. We saw the operating theatre, and I understand it is not now in use, because, quite rightly, the boys are sent to the local hospital, the facilities of which are made available through the Air Ministry. It occurred to me that it is a great waste to leave this very adequate and expensive apparatus in the operating theatre, but I was told that it had no market value. If that is so, I suggest to my hon. Friend that it might well be given to a missionary society or some other voluntary society which could make real use of it, perhaps for the benefit of world refugees, or some other body which could make use of the apparatus.

If I may mention one other point which seems rather trivial, on going round the grounds I saw a large number of trees marked with crosses, and on making inquiries about them I was informed that a great number were to be cut down. I agree that any tree which is dangerous should be cut down, but I hope that in the interests of the grounds no trees will be removed where it is not absolutely necessary. I hope that they will not be cut down with a view to selling them to bring in money for the school.

We inquired particularly into the health of the boys, who looked extremely healthy, and I understand that their weights are adequate. I found that the kitchens were very difficult places in which to cook adequately. We understand that there are to be improvements, and I hope that the stoking in the middle of the kitchen will be done away with, though it appears that it would cost a very large sum of money to do so. I gather that it is about £15,000, but it seems to me to have gone up very considerably from the original estimate. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary could give his views on that point.

I do not want to say anything which would alarm the parents, because the health of the boys is very good, but I should have thought that the catering officer should be given a little more generous allowance for food so as to be able to give the boys a better variety. It might not improve their health very much, but variety has its value, and I gather that the amount given is below the average for a large number of other schools.

I should like also to refer to the question of rents, which I have mentioned before. I see that the Parliamentary Secretary has still not been able to get any extra rents from the Greenwich Hospital building. Last year, the Parliamentary Secretary said that it might be difficult to take money out of one pocket and put it in the other, but I see that this year there has been extra rent from other properties in Greenwich, and that the figure has gone up to about £2,100. I think that this will help with the pensions side of the scheme.

I notice that none of the pensions, with the exception of pensions to widows of seamen marines, have gone up. But the expenditure on those which have been increased has risen by about £1,000. Last year, I was told that the number of pensioners was 291 officers and 1,521 ratings and dependants. I should like to know how many are still being paid pensions, what is the average pension paid, and why it has been possible to increase the pension for the widows of seamen marines but it has not been possible to increase the other pensions.

I should like to follow up the point made by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West, about the grant from the Ministry of Education. I, also, arrived at the year 1895 and I have not been able to find any adequate explanation, but we now have 20 more boys than were at the school last year and the grant from the Ministry still remains the same. I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us exactly how the grant is based. I should like to know also why the superannuation allowances are less this year and why expenditure on insurance is down by £50, though I agree that we have heard about the revaluation of the buildings. I see that last year £150 was spent on mines and £180 is to be spent this year. I should like to know what this expenditure is and how the Admiralty comes to have a connection with mines.

Finally, I join in paying tribute to those who run the school and to the two hon. Members who are on the committee and who take such a great interest in it. I hope that the school will continue to attract more boys and will establish a fine tradition worthy of the donor of these wonderful buildings.

9.42 p.m.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

About fourteen years ago I went to the Admiralty to perform the duties which are now being performed by the Parliamentary Secretary. At that time the Japanese war was still on and I thought that my duties would have to do with winning the war against Japan. I went to see the First Lord and he said to me, "The first thing you have to do is to see about the repairs to the house of the headmaster of Holbrook." I was pretty solidly brought down to earth at once. I have discovered since that not only the repairs to the headmaster's house but the whole subject of Holbrook is a fascinating though somewhat esoteric topic which is discussed regularly every year by those who are interested in it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) said that costs had risen quite considerably. I went through some of the accounts today and made a few comparisons of costs. I took the year 1950–51, which is about the last year for which we on this side of the House were responsible for the administration. As we all know, during the term of office of the present Government the cost of living has not risen. It has been kept steady and the Prime Minister has assured us that all is well in that respect and it is all very nice. Even so, I notice that the cost of running the school during this period has gone up 60 per cent., a considerable rise. The legal and surveying charges, a peculiar item and admittedly quite small at only £1,000, have gone up 66 per cent. That seems to be a considerable addition to lawyers' fees.

Most surprising of all is the fact that headquarters administration costs have risen by £11,000, or no less than 100 per cent. during this period. I can only suppose it must be something to do with Parkinson's Law. It is peculiar that there should have been a 100 per cent. rise in the cost of administration, not because of an improvement in the building, or because of better education or better pensions for the seamen, but simply because the cost of headquarters administration is greater. I should like to know why there has been this enormous increase in the cost.

As against that, I see that pensions for seamen have risen by £11,000, or only 25 per cent. That seems typical of what is happening nowadays. Costs of many things are rising, but one of the items which is not is pensions, and this is an item to which we should pay great attention because it is one of the most important of those for which the fund was set up. We want to see a rather better proportion between the costs of headquarters administration, including legal costs and the rest, and the amount of pensions paid out. I hope that there will be a decrease in the former and an increase in the latter.

9.47 p.m.

Mr. Humphrey Atkins (Merton and Morden)

The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) drew attention to the fact that the cost of pensions paid by this fund has not altered as much as he would like. That is an interesting point, and I shall refer to it shortly.

First, however, I wish to associate myself with what the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) said about the visit which he, I and other hon. Members paid to Holbrook a fortnight ago. Through the good offices of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, whom I thank for arranging it, we were able to see a great deal of the school. It was my first visit there, and my first impression was extremely favourable. The headmaster and staff are doing a wonderful job in educating about 650 boys. They are obviously putting their hearts and souls into the job of providing as good an education as they possibly can, and they are doing it very well. I am not alone in holding this opinion. I have confirmation from quite independent educational sources that the academic reputation of Holbrook has been increasing in the past few years.

This, however, brings a problem with it. The headmaster is naturally anxious that this reputation should continue to increase, but if more boys are to receive a better and therefore longer education, since the school will hold only a certain number the problem will arise of where to put them. The only solution would seem to be to reduce the intake. I am not sure that this process of providing a consistently better and better education, and thereby of necessity decreasing the number of boys able to be taken in, should be allowed to continue unchecked. Obviously, everyone connected with the school wants to provide the best possible education, but not too much to the detriment of the number of boys allowed to enter. I should be glad if my hon. Friend could indicate the way in which his mind is working, because this may become a great problem.

After one visit of so short a duration it is not possible to make detailed criticisms as to possible improvements, but I want to take up one point which has already been mentioned by two speakers, namely, the question of catering. It is obvious that something drastic needs to be done here. On several occasions in the past the House has been told that it will be done, but it still has not been done.

There is provision in the Estimates for this year for a considerable increase in the amount devoted to the maintenance of buildings. I think the increase is about £6,000 over the figure for last year. I should like to know whether this money is to be used for the work on the kitchens which is so necessary to help to improve the level of catering.

I wish to ask about two small matters connected with the Accounts, and there are two questions on policy which I wish to raise. In page 5 of the Accounts superannuation allowances are mentioned. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) commented on the fact that they have gone up, and she asked why. I wish to ask why they have not gone down more. We were told last year by the then Parliamentary Secretary: The superannuation is a specially high figure this year because there are, as it happens, a large number of people who are reaching retiring age and we have to make provision for them. The Parliamentary Secretary continued: There is every likelihood that the figure will be about half next year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1958; vol. 592, c. 171.] Well, the figure is not about half, and I should like to know why.

My second point refers to the cost of headquarters administration. I see from page 6 of the Accounts that office expenses have more than doubled over the last twelve months. They were £1,000 last year and this year the figure is £2,270. I wish to know why. It may perhaps be because of the appearance under this heading, for the first time, so far as I know, of the word "rent". Is it the case that the Admiralty is charging Greenwich rent for the first time? If so, is that necessary?

My first policy point concerns the size of the pensions which the fund is able to award to officers, ratings and widows. I do not know how long ago the size of the normal pension was fixed, but I believe that at present it is about £50 a year for officers, £40 a year for ratings and somewhat less for widows. These are very small amounts. If they were fixed many years ago, obviously they represented a considerable award to the beneficiaries at that time, but in present-day terms they are not very good and not nearly of as much help as I suspect they used to be.

In these days when the State takes greater care of people in need, would it not be more sensible to reduce by a gradual process the number of pensions paid, and to increase the amount? I am not, of course, suggesting that anyone at present in receipt of a pension should have it taken away; but, as a policy, would it not be better to spend the money by paying a smaller number of larger pensions?

My second point relates to the everlasting question, which must be a great difficulty to the Parliamentary Secretary, of the proper balance to be struck between the cost of maintaining Holbrook School and the money which has to be set aside for pensions. I do not know how this balance has altered over the years, but, so far as I can tell from the Accounts, the present gross cost of the school appears to be £200,000 and the gross cost of the pensions paid by the fund about £80,000. The actual cost of the school is a little less because fees are charged. With the increasing standard of comfort, food, education, clothing and so on at the school, it seems likely that over the next few years we shall be faced with rising costs.

Obviously, there is a limit to the amount of fees which can be charged, and therefore my hon. Friend will continue to be faced with this difficulty. How much should he allow the school to improve at the cost of the pensions, or how much should he hold on to for pensions while allowing the school to manage with what it has got? I am not at all sure that it would not be better, as a policy, to concentrate on providing the best possible for the school and to use what money remains for pensions, rather than to say that a certain amount of money must be set aside for pensions, that that amount cannot be altered, and that the school must make do with the balance. In the long run, I believe it would be better to make certain that the school has what it needs and to use the balance, which obviously we hope will be as large as possible, for pensions.

On this matter I should be particularly glad to hear a reply from the Parliamentary Secretary, as it is important in any decision about the policy of this school in the future. After my visit to the school recently. I am confident that everyone connected with the school is doing a first-class job and making extremely good provision for the education and care of the sons of seafaring men. I wish them every success in the future.

9.56 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) has raised very iteresting points about the distribution of the funds and the way in which they are spent. With the development of the Welfare State and the many improvements that have been made for the benefit of officers and men in the Services the importance if these funds and similar pension funds becomes less. That ought to be the guiding principle in administering the funds. That would mean what I think the hon. Gentleman really wanted, that we should get more for the school in the course of time. That is probably inevitable.

Like my hon. Friends, I express my appreciation of the kindness shown to us when we visited the school a fortnight ago. I would agree with most of the things that have been said about the school, but there is no doubt that the kitchen ought to be re-equipped. Why the Government should hestitate to do this I cannot imagine. Already, largely as a result of hesitation by the Government the estimated cost of improvement has increased from about £9,000 to £15,000. It is a peculiar kind of economy to delay for four or five years something that needs to be done, with the result that the ultimate cost is much greater than the original cost would have been. That seems false economy.

I agree with many things that were said by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) about comfort at the school, which struck me as being rather stern in many ways. I should like to have seen more comfort in the reading rooms and in the dormitories. I have not had experience of running a school of this character, but that improvement struck me as desirable.

What also struck me, as more important than this aspect, was something quite different. Here is a school with 650 pupils. I do not think that there can be any doubt about those pupils' interest in science. Provision for the teaching of science could be greatly improved, and so could the scientific equipment. If a comprehensive school of this character, for 650 boys, were built today, it would have far better laboratories than are at this training school. That is important, in view of the vocations that the boys have in mind. Some will go to Dartmouth, some to university and some will become artificer apprentices. Others will do various engineering and technical jobs. This shortcoming should be tackled quickly. Possibly this is a matter of expense, like the provision of more comfort for the boys and of kitchen re-equipment.

I make this small point, in passing. I wonder whether, when the statement of estimated income and expenditure is presented in future, we could have the past year's costs put alongside the present estimated costs. We have the statement on page 2, but nowhere else and the result is that it is exceedingly difficult, without looking up past reports, to follow what the trend is. It does not seem that it would require a great deal of expense and bother to put the figures alongside so that we might compare the various amounts spent.

In previous debates I have expressed doubts about the position of orphan children. A week or two ago I asked a Question about the increasing number of officers' children attending the school. So far as I have been able to discover, the provisions governing the entrance of children do protect the orphans and children of seamen. After a long time, a matter of years, I have come to the conclusion that that is protected, but it does not alter the fact that, because of other circumstances, increasingly this tends to become a school for the children of officers.

Commander J. W. Maitland (Horncastle) indicated dissent.

Mr. Willis

The hon. and gallant Member shakes his head, but if he would study the figures which I got in the reply to my Question two weeks ago, he would find that what I am saying is correct.

In view of the fact that fewer applications are made on behalf of orphans for quite natural reasons—as we get further away from war fewer applications are made in respect of the children of seamen, as probably the seamen are better off and may have a wider choice of schools for their children—this tendency arises. The figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary confirmed that. I do not blame anyone for that; I think that it is inevitable as things develop, but it means that this increasingly becomes a school for the sons of officers. It would be deplorable if that were to happen. It seems that with fees ranging to about £60 or £70 a year and with the great pressure for money to spend at this school there are circumstances which help to create an environment in which this situation is brought about. That seems wrong and the Government ought to look at this school again, not with a view to making small changes but rather larger changes.

Having given a considerable amount of thought over a long period to the question of fees, I should like to see them reduced. In fact, I should like to see them abolished and the sum required to balance the accounts made up, not by the Admiralty, but by the Department of Education, the Secretary of State for Scotland. Why not? Here is a school taking 650 boys and giving them a very fine education. It is a school beautifully situated and providing an excellent service for the sons of men who served in the Navy. It costs about £155,000, towards which the Ministry of Education contributes £1,400. What a generous gesture on the part of the Minister!

I think that it is quite wrong. The school gets nothing at all from the Secretary of State for Scotland. Yet there are Scottish as well as English boys at the school, and they are being educated at a standard equal to that of any education authority school. I think that it ought to receive a grant from the Department of Education for Scotland.

Mr. Atkins

Is not that part of the sum of money that is called fees paid by the local education authority?

Mr. Willis

I agree that part of it is paid by the local education authority, but that is not by the Department of the Secretary of State nor is it by the Ministry of Education. It is paid by the local ratepayers and not by the taxpayers.

What is wrong with the taxpayers paying for this school? It seems to me to be eminently desirable. It is a good school, well-situated and providing a first-class education for boys. Why should not the taxpayers pay for it? Why should we leave it to a system of fee payments? I do not know the answer. One result of that is that the desirable improvements talked about in this debate cannot be done. As my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) pointed out in great detail in opening the debate, there is no money for improvements. The school could not modernise its kitchen years ago.

The hon. Lady the Member for Devon-port wanted rather better and more varied diet for the boys. It cannot be done, because the money is not there. I have suggested that the school needs better scientific laboratories and equipment. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) would agree. He is on the board. We cannot get them. Yet most of these boys are going into the professions and vocations requiring that type of training. The money is not there. How do the Government propose to get the money? We have never had any answer to this

It is obvious that we are reaching the end of the amount that can be raised by fee paying, unless the fees are to be raised. I would be very much opposed to that; in fact, I want to see them decreased. I should like to see them abolished altogether. Why does not the Admiralty face up to this and get together with the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland and say, "Here is the school; let us make some satisfactory arrangement about its future." Surely that could be done and the rights of men who have served in the Navy, whether on the lower deck or the upper deck could be safeguarded. I do not see that this is outwith the scope of some agreement being entered into between various Government Departments.

That seems to be the only way to solve the difficulties of this school, and I put the proposition to the Parliamentary Secretary in the hope that he will take it seriously, because there is no doubt that the school is worth preserving and continuing. It is doing a fine job and the teachers and others engaged at the school are also doing fine work. Let us put the school in a position in which it can do the work in the manner in which we should like it to be done, and let us provide the equipment which we should like the school to have. Let us make the best possible of this school. To do that we must do something on the lines which I have indicated.

10.11 p.m.

Commander J. W. Maitland (Horncastle)

I assure the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis)—and I do not think that I am giving any secrets away in doing so—that it is not for want of trying that we have failed to get money out of the Ministry of Education.

Mr. Willis

I do not blame the Committee of Management.

Commander Maitland

Those who have the privilege—and it is a privilege—of representing the House on the Committee of Management have considered, with the rest of the Committee, for whom I think I can speak, that it is our duty to provide any boy with the best education that it is possible to provide. It is not justifiable to carry on an organisation of this kind unless we can offer to any boy who is entitled to go to the school as good an education as he can get anywhere, whether he is an orphan, or the son of someone from the lower deck, or the son of an officer. It is an excellent thing to have the sons of every rank and type mingling together and being educated together, in a school of this sort, and to have these boys from many different homes working together.

Speaking personally, I did not agree at the time, and I still do not agree, with the decision about the payment of fees, because I have always believed that we should not charge fees at this school. I have always been quite firm and steady on that point, although I see that it was necessary to try to preserve as best we could the type of school which we were building up.

The debate has turned inevitably on the question of finance. The trouble about all this is that we are dealing with an Act of Parliament which is about seventy-four years old. What we are talking about is all contained in an Act of Parliament which at that time provided a capital sum which, frankly, is fast running out. We cannot provide the standards which we should like to provide unless we draw on capital—and here, too, I am speaking only for myself. The Act allows us to draw on capital. We are enjoined to do so if we do not meet our expenses out of income. That means, however, and always will mean, that the capital is diminished. It also means that we must reduce the number of pensions, which it is laid down by the Act of Parliament that we must provide and which are very important.

The position is not satisfactory when we can expect, as the building gets older, greater expenses on maintenance and when we, also have to try to add to the amenities and to the additional science facilities which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East mentioned and which we must have if we are to keep pace with the needs of the boys.

Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but quite soon, we shall have to face the fact that this Act, which is seventy-four years old, must be completely revised. I believe that this will be one of the greatest schools in England before it is finished and that it will rank with Manchester Grammar School and any of the other great public schools in the country. If we are to carry on that tradition we must accept that possibly sooner than later this Act passed seventy-four years ago will have to be amended and brought up to date and an entirely new arrangement made to allow this school to continue the good work which I believe the whole House agrees that it is doing at present.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu (Huddersfield, East)

Of the thirteen or fourteen debates on this subject to which I have listened, this evening's has been the most interesting and the most delightful. Delightful, because the excitement that the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) and myself have felt about this school has obviously spread to those on both sides of the House who have had the chance to see it for the first time; interesting, because speaker after speaker has pressed for still more improvements in the facilities offered—science, better feeding, more comfort in the dormitories and so forth, all of which will cost money.

There have been two suggestions about how we might raise more money. One from the other side of the House that I treated with the greatest reserve was that we should cut down on pensions. I do not think that that is right at all. The other, which was pressed most vigorously by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), was that the cash should be forthcoming from the Ministry of Education and from the Secretary of State for Scotland.

I think that my hon. Friend's suggestion must be the solution. There is not the slightest doubt that the costs of this school will increase, because the quality and standard of education in it will advance—and I hope that no hon. Member will attempt to stop that advance. Because the standard will increase, because the costs will increase, and because the revenues of the Greenwich Hospital are limited, we shall be forced back on some other way of financing the school.

I beg my hon. Friends—and, indeed, all hon. Members—not to go bashing at the Admiralty or the management committee on this. The fault lies with the Ministry of Education—the fault, indeed, lies with ourselves. If we believe, as we have been saying tonight, that this is a good school that deserves well of the country, it is our job as Members of the House of Commons so to browbeat the Ministry of Education that we do not have, year after year, to make these complaints that the school is not doing its job properly.

I therefore appeal to both sides of the House that in this matter we should form a united front to make quite certain that the Ministry of Education which, in the past, has been so backward in coming forward, is pressed into doing its proper duty towards this school.

10.18 p.m.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

I should like to thank the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) for his kindly remarks about a newcomer to the job, and to say, as I have no doubt many of my predecessors have said, that this is a slightly unusual facet of any junior Minister's task but, in many ways, that makes it the more intriguing.

Until I took on my present post, I had not seen the school, and like so many who have spoken in this debate I was really enthralled once I had seen the wonderful building, the wonderful grounds and the whole spirit emanating from the school, which, I thought, inspired the boys both in the vigour of their life and, incidentally, in their academic achievements. The questions that have been raised this evening have mainly concerned finance, and I shall try to deal with them one by one.

We have to remember that when founded in October, 1694, the primary concern of the Greenwich Hospital Foundation—and, after all, that is very much bigger than the school itself—was with the welfare of sea-going men themselves and though, to some extent, as hon. Members have said, the Welfare State and better conditions of active service have removed some of the hardships formerly suffered by seamen, there are many cases of hardship in which Greenwich Hospital pensions still come as a great comfort to humble people. We should be doing less than justice to these people, and incidentally to the founders of this institution, if we started to rob those pension funds and to give the moneys to the school, however much enthusiasm we all feel for this magnificent school.

The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the differences between income and expenditure. The Foundation's gross income has increased from £270,000 in 1954 to £344,000 in the present estimate. We have made improvements by re- investment and re-letting properties. By all manner of means we have tried to shelter ourselves from the rising costs.

As the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West said, the main rises in expenditure this year come from £5,000 extra on the salaries, and those are largely linked with the Burnham scale. I know that the House would not quarrel with those grants. The hon. Gentleman asked whether it was quantity or quality. It is largely quality. A sixth form cannot be introduced into a school and the academic results which I shall summarise later cannot be obtained unless a school has teachers of the highest quality. The results obtained reflect the improvement we have made in that direction.

The other increased sum is £6,000 extra for maintenance. As hon. Gentlemen have said, these things have been postponed in the past. Essential work has been put off. We all do it in our own houses. One is tempted, as the governing body has done, to put it off until next year and to say that something else is more important. This year we are having to tackle arrears of maintenance. That has added greatly to our bill.

Mr. Willis

The kitchens have not been improved.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I shall deal with the kitchens later. So many hon. Gentlemen have mentioned the kitchens that I thought they might have a section to themselves.

On fees, I should be less than frank with the House if I did not tell hon. Members this. I am sorry that I did not announce earlier that the £23,000 which was the forecast income last year rises in these estimates to £38,400 and to £50,000 next year. That is the way we bridge the gap, by raising the fees from £72 to £100.

Mr. Willis


Mr. Orr-Ewing

I want to make clear why we have done this. The governing body thought about it very carefully. We do not take action like that without the most mature consideration. We did it because, if we did not take that action, we should be robbing the pensioners. I have figures here. The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale), who once held my office, will probably know these figures. I have the figures right back to the year when he had the responsibility. Seventy-three per cent. of the net expenditure of our global income from the Greenwich Hospital Foundation at the end of the war was going to the school and 27 per cent. was going in pensions. At the end of a war there is, perhaps, an upset in figures. Those figures have risen. In 1946–47, when I think that the right hon. Member was Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, 77 per cent. of the income was going on the school and only 23 per cent. on pensions.

That is wrong. After all, pensions were the foundation and original thought of this wonderful charitable institution. We have now corrected it, and the contribution going to pensions has slowly increased until in the current Estimates it will be as high as 33 per cent. going to pensions and 66 per cent. going to the upkeep of the school. This is a move in the right direction. The pensions cannot be neglected. It may be said that it is only a small sum, but it is a small sum which makes a tremendous difference to an elderly widow or a deserving person.

Mr. Dugdale

There is only one correction which one must make in that figure. The sum spent on the school is that much less by the sum derived from an increase in fees.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

No doubt it is. I do not deny that. I am saying that we are not robbing the charitable foundation of so much as we were in the right hon. Gentleman's time. The general tenor is that we should not neglect the pensions. They are very important.

I repeat what my predecessors have said. I have been through these figures. I have examined the gentleman who applies the questions and asks parents what they can afford. I have questioned and queried to the utmost, and I can give the House my absolute assurance that in no case where a parent qualifies will entry to a boy be denied because the parent cannot afford the fees. In no case will that occur. That seems to me to be the criterion which the House should wish to apply in deciding whether to put up the fees to bridge the gap.

May I turn to this question of trying to squeeze more money out of the Ministry of Education? My predecessors, if I may put it vulgarly, have had a "bash" on this very issue for many years but they have not had much change out of the Ministry of Education. It appears that this small sum of £1,400 is a legacy dating back to 1895 and, as the hon. Gentleman said, it has hardly changed since that date. I will do my best and will make representations, but I fear that instead of getting even a small sum they may say, "This is an outdated legacy of the past and you will not get anything at all in the future." However, I hope that will not occur, and I shall certainly make representations.

Mr. Steele

Has the Parliamentary Secretary any information on why it was given in the first place?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

No. I am afraid that, like the hon. Gentleman, I have been unable to trace the reason. It seems a most obscure matter. In this particular case the Estimates were not even debated.

Mr. Willis

Will the hon. Gentleman also approach the Secretary of State for Scotland, who seems quite delighted to give sums of money to all sorts of direct grant schools in Scotland, and ascertain whether he can make a contribution? After all, there are a lot of boys from Scotland.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will examine the history of the case. It was probably taken up by the right hon. Member for West Bromwich when he was in my place and he got no change whatsoever out of the Ministry of Education. Although i will mention it, I cannot hold out any hopes that I will achieve much more than my ten predecessors in this task.

On the subject of the boys' privacy, which was mentioned by several hon. Members, we will look at this with the Board of Management to see whether there is any hardship. I have checked this matter, and I know that there is nothing to forbid boys putting up photographs of their parents if they wish to do so, but it appears that this is not now the done thing. I should like to see it become the done thing, because I think it adds to the humanity of a dormitory. I hope that all the boys are proud of their parents and are glad to have them displayed.

I can assure the House that when a tree is cut down this is only done after the most expert advice either for reasons of safety or turnover. After all, we have to have new young trees growing, and old trees have to be cut down from time to time. We must make sure that the balance of forestry in the area is correct. We certainly will not wilfully cut down a tree if this destroys the beauty of the place, and we will take the best advice, as we always do. I would add that I take note of the point which has been made about the automatic stoker and the operating theatre.

May I turn to the question of kitchens which was mentioned by a number of hon. Members? It is true that the estimate which we now have before us, and which is not included in this estimate except to a small extent, is £15,000. We, as the Board of Management, and myself as Chairman, have laid down that we should make a start on modernising these kitchens this year, though it will only be to the extent of a few hundred pounds. Three more phases will follow and the whole job, I am afraid, will probably take three years because it is a big task, but it is infinitely worth while.

We have given priority to the preparation of fresh vegetables. We feel that this is something which could well be tackled first. It will not cost a lot of money, and, when we asked the advice of the county education authority expert on feeding in schools he drew attention to that particular aspect of our arrangements and referred to a certain lack of fresh vegetables. This, therefore, has priority, and the rest of the task of modernising the kitchens and, indeed, the dining hall, will be tackled with zest.

The right hon. Member for West Bromwich spoke about expenditure on the school. I cannot help arraigning him a little on this, because, when he took office, the expenditure on the school was £86,000, and, when his party departed, expenditure was £140,000. By good fortune, I happen to have all the figures here. He was far less successful in holding down rising costs than successive Parliamentary Secretaries on this side of the House. Moreover, when he took office, £31,000 was being spent on pensions. Now, we are spending no less than £81,000 on pensions—a two-and-a-half-fold increase. That is not a bad result.

Hon. Members asked me to say what ought to be the balance in this matter of pensions. I do not want to commit the future on it. I shall take note of the views which have been put from both sides of the House. I would suggest that not less than 33 per cent. ought to be spent on pensions at present, the remainder going to the school. That is about what we are spending now. I do not want to tie the future. After all, the Welfare State is spreading, and the need for pensions may be decreased. It would be unwise to commit my successors in this task.

My hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) dealt with the numbers of pupils and he asked how we would cope with them. I have considered the numbers. Before the war, there were 860 pupils in this school, in the very same buildings that we have today. Partly as a result of war-time conditions and air-raid precautions the numbers were reduced to about 600, and they have now risen to 660. There might be a temptation to go back to the 800, but I think that that would be a mistake. After all, twenty years have passed since 1939, and we wish to set a standard of accommodation in classrooms, laboratories, dormitories and houses which is slightly better and gives rather more room for recreation and play. It would be wrong to try to crowd in the same number of pupils as we had in the 1939 era.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the hon. Gentleman say anything about the 100 per cent. rise in costs of administration?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Yes, I shall. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned it. I looked at the cost of administration. It has gone up, but it is not just the cost of administration of the school. It includes the administration of the northern estate and the reletting of it, the administration of property in the Greenwich Hospital area and in the West End of London. The figure is 7 per cent. of the total income. I have compared this with administration expenses in other similar organisations, and in many of them the proportion is higher. I do not think we compare at all badly, with a 7 per cent. administration cost on the whole operation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden mentioned administration, and I think I have covered that. He asked, also, why the superannuation fee had not fallen abruptly. There was a postponement for a few months in respect of certain members of the staff who were due to retire last year but who did not then retire. What has happened is that we underspent on our estimates last year, and this estimate will be a more accurate one, so far as I can see.

My hon. Friend asked why there had been an increased charge for the rental of administration offices. The answer is that we have sold our original office. We received a very good sum for it, £29,000, and that sum has been invested to help our income. We rent an office, and the whole operation has improved our finances to the extent of £500 a year. On the whole, I think that this is to the advantage of the school and the Greenwich Hospital Foundation. I have tried to deal with the main points which my hon. Friend made. He referred also to maintenance, and I think I dealt with that broadly when discussing the kitchen. I will certainly write to him on any other points which I may have omitted.

I was interested in the views of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) and I shall read his speech very carefully. I absolutely agree that it is difficult to compare last year's estimates with this year's, and I will see whether we can have them printed alongside each other, as is done in respect of many other Estimates for the convenience of the House.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East asked whether we thought we were right—I think he was opposed to the idea—in arranging that 20 per cent. of the pupils in the school should be officers' sons.

Mr. Willis

I am not opposed to the idea. The trend I noticed was the increasing number, and I think it is that which we ought to watch.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

All I would say is that we will watch this, with the Board of Management, most carefully, but one has to face the fact that if one has a comprehensive school it has to cover all categories of people.

We cannot say that we want a comprehensive school, as the hon. Gentleman called it, and then say that we will exclude officers' sons. Many of those sons are sons of Special Duties officers, who themselves came from the lower deck. So I would say that we do not want to commit anyone for the future, but that we will see that the trend does not become too widespread. I think that, on the whole, it is healthy for everybody in the school that officers' and ratings' sons should be mixed in a school of this sort, bringing them together so that they get to know one another.

Mr. Willis

The point is that the circumstances of the school, namely, its desperate need for money, which has compelled the Board to raise the fees to £100, seems to me to create conditions in which there might be a tendency towards what I spoke of as the growth in the number of officers' children, with long-term results which I should not like to see and which, I think, the House would not like to see. That is what I said we should watch very carefully.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will consider that point. We will certainly watch it most carefully.

Before I come to the points made by the two Members who are members of the Committee of Management I will deal with a point I have left out in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Merton and Morden. At the moment there are 333 widows drawing an average of 10s. a week, which would account for some £10,000. In the Seamen's and Marines' Special Fund the present average is about 15s. a week, There are 1,000 drawing on it, which accounts for about £44,000. Of the officers the great majority, 234 officers, are receiving £50, a £1 a week pension, which accounts for about £13,000.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Horncastle (Commander Maitland) asked whether it was necessary to keep this, as he called it, rather outdated method of debating these estimates. I asked myself. It seems it affords the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary, who very seldom speaks from this Box, an opportunity for a little practice. I am not sure, in view of what we discussed yesterday, the streamlining of the procedure of the House, whether this is the sort of thing which should be discussed on the Floor of the House, interesting as it is for those who are concerned.

I have looked at the 1885 Act, and I find that it laid down that as long as that was in vogue the Estimates should be debated in this House, although the income comes entirely from a charitable foundation. Therefore, one would expect that, like other charitable funds which do not have to be laid, this should not be done. I think that we could certainly look at this. Obviously, it would require some small replacing Act.

Commander Maitland

My point was not quite that. It was that the running of the school is carried out under an Act of Parliament which is seventy-five years old and that we shall not really get success till we have replaced that Act to try to put this school on a much more sensible basis, as has been indicated by the tone of this debate.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will certainly look at that point. I have not found myself that that Act inhibits the administration or good management of the school or the running of the Committee of Management. However, I will look at that aspect. I should like to thank my hon. and gallant Friend, in passing. He is one of the oldest members of the Management Committee—almost the oldest living member. This has meant a great deal of voluntary work, and I should like to thank him and the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) for the time they have given and the trips they have made to the school and for the sympathy with which they have advised successive Parliamentary Secretaries on this task.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield, East again felt that we should have to examine the general fundamental finance of the school. We will certainly give most careful consideration to that matter and we may, perhaps, have an opportunity of discussing it.

Finally, may I say—and I think that the House will be with me in this—that we judge the school by the results which are being achieved not only in the academic field, but in the sporting field and in the character-building field as well. In the General Certificate of Examinations held in 1958, a total of 48 candidates gained between them nine subject passes at advanced level and 147 at odinary level. As a result of these successes at the advanced level, two boys were awarded county major awards and proceeded to university. Two others secured Royal Naval cadetships at Dartmouth. Of the 121 boys leaving the school during 1958, 52 entered the Royal Navy and five the Merchant Navy. Thus, 47 per cent. adopted a seafaring life. Five of the remainder entered service in Her Majesty's dockyards and four joined the Royal Air Force.

Before concluding my remarks on the Royal Hospital School, I should like to add my tribute to those that have been paid in previous years by my predecessors to the valuable service which is rendered by the Committee of Management and, in particular, on this occasion, by the two Parliamentary Members, the hon. Member for Hudderfield, East and the hon. and gallant Member for Horncastle, who have both served on the Committee for a long period of years most devotedly and have given great support to successive Parliamentary Secretaries. I will certainly pass on the congratulations of so many hon. Members to the headmaster, his wife and the staff for the task they are performing in one of the best schools in the country.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Statement of the Estimated Income and Expenditure of Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation for the year ending on 31st March, I960, which was laid before this House on 2nd July, be approved.