HC Deb 04 May 1959 vol 605 cc155-79

10.7 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Further Education (Scotland) Regulations, 1959 (S.I., 1959, No. 477), dated 18th March, 1959, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th April, be annulled. We have placed this Prayer on the Order Paper to try to find out how adequate these Regulations are for meeting the nation's needs in further education, which is a relatively new but vitally important part of general education. We hear a lot these days about room at the top. One of the achievements of half a century's educational progress has been to make sure that there is always now plenty of room at the top. We are becoming increasingly aware, however, that there is not nearly enough room at the bottom for the 15 to 18-year-olds who leave school at the school-leaving age or shortly thereafter. They have a need to acquire the skills of good craftsmanship and, perhaps more important, the more difficult technical skills of good citizenship through part-time education.

The Government are meeting this need by a £12 million technical building programme in Scotland, and perhaps we shall hear tonight that they are making more progress with this than they were the last time we had an opportunity to look at these matters. One of the biggest of the trades colleges is being sited in my own constituency of Dundee, and I hope that the Minister will make this trades college a building of which we in Dundee will be as proud as we shall be of the Tay Road Bridge when we finally get it built.

These Regulations, on the face of them, look too general and too imprecise to meet the urgency and complication of the present situation in education. Let me remind the House of the nature of the problem. I am dealing here primarily with the need for extending compulsorily day release education for the teen-agers. By 1962 the number of school leavers will be half as big as it was in 1956. We want to know tonight what contribution these Regulations make towards ensuring that there will be enough well-equipped further education colleges to meet the greatly increased number of young people who will be coming out of the secondary schools, and particularly out of the junior secondary schools.

Although the number on day release has been going up steadily over recent years, we are still in a position where only half as many have day release education in Scotland as in England or Wales in proportion to our population, much to our disgrace as a country. Much depends on heavy industry. When we look at shipbuilding and heavy engineering, we have only one-ninth of the number of day release students in Scotland that there are in England and Wales.

To implement the 1946 Act in full in relation to the provision of daytime education for young people who have left school would need a tremendous increase in the provision of further education centres. I think it would need a sevenfold increase, 200,000 extra places. Clearly, that is impracticable in the immediate future.

But I cannot see why these Regulations should not make it obligatory on local authorities at least to provide enough places to give day release education to all those in their area who are in apprentice trades. That would be a good start towards the larger goal of county colleges. Why should not the Regulations specify that the inspectors, who have certain duties laid on them in the Regulations, ought also to seek to co-ordinate the examination requirements of the further education centres with the examination requirements of the secondary schools? A great deal of emphasis is laid on this in the recent report of the working party on the curriculum in the secondary schools, and it is a very important matter indeed if we are to provide a real incentive for people who leave school early to go on to further education.

Mr. Douglas McIntosh, the Director of Education for Fife, in his very important new book, "Educational Guidance and the Pool of Ability", makes exactly this point. He says: A bridge between the day schools and the local technical colleges would close a gap in the education system, the existence of which results in the talents of many children remaining undeveloped. We would have hoped that the Regulations might have been more adequate to meet that problem.

There is a question of fees being charged for further education. As far back as 1952, the Advisory Committee on Education, in its Report on further education, recommended that no fees should be charged for further education. Recently the same Advisory Council, reconstituted after all these years, expressed the same sort of anxieties about the question of fees in secondary education, and, in its very important Report on the provision of more teachers in secondary schools, said: &we welcome the Government's programme for the expansion of further education, and since it may well provide not only technologists, technicians and craftsmen for industry but also technical teachers for the schools, we recommend that it be pushed forward with the utmost vigour. At the same time, we express our regret that the economy circulars which have been issued by the Scottish Education Department in recent years have led to an increase in fees in some education authority evening technical centres, with detriment to the enrolment. I should have much preferred the Regulations to remove all fees for further education in view of the importance of encouraging as many people as possible to go in for this kind of education after they have left the ordinary secondary schools.

We are also extremely puzzled on this side of the House why in these Regulations the central institutions and the further education centres, the local authority centres, should be so closely tied together. Why should the Regulations imposed on the local authority centres be imposed equally on the central institutions, many of which are preparing people for associateships and other qualifications of degree standard? I should have thought that by far the best way forward was to ensure that the local authority trades colleges and the central institutions operated in separate and distinct fields, the local authority centres dealing with craftsmanship qualifications and the central institutions dealing with the National Certificate and upwards. It is a little humiliating that the kind of regulations needed for a teen-age further education centre should be laid on these central institutions. I think that some of my hon. Friends fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, will be developing that point further.

We hope that this Prayer may give the Joint Under-Secretary the opportunity to report on the progress made in further education in Scotland. I conclude by reminding him that, whatever progress is made in providing more places for further education, this cannot be divorced from the general situation in Scotland in which this is being done. It is no use providing further opportunities for young people to acquire skills if, after they have acquired them, they find, as they so often do in Scotland today, that there are no skilled jobs for them to do.

10.16 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)

I beg to second the Motion.

I want particularly to speak about the central institutions rather than the other institutions. I am concerning myself with Part II of the Regulations—Grants for Central Institutions and Approved Associations. I do not understand why this set of Regulations should have a Part II, or why the Department should want to regulate at all for the subjects being introduced under these Regulations.

The institutions concerned in these Regulations are, generally speaking, of university rank and institutions which ought to be governed in much the same way as universities. One of them is, in fact, an institution on the University Grants Committee list—the Royal College of Science and Technology in Glasgow. Looking at the provisions so far as they concern that college, I begin to wonder how the college will fare.

Regulation 10 says: A grant under this Part shall be of such amount or at such rate and in respect of such period as the Secretary of State may determine after consideration of the nature, efficiency, extent and estimated cost of the service& Who is the Secretary of State to determine things like that in respect of a body which is itself a university in essence, a body which is under the wing of the University Grants Committee?

If the Secretary of State is to make determinations and consider the nature, efficiency, and extent of this service, will he not overlap with the work of that Committee? Will not both be concerned with the same thing? What will happen if they have different standards? Has there ever been a clash between the two sets of standards? In any case, why should public money be given to this institution through two separate and distinct sources?

According to the figures in its latest report, the Department gives the Royal College of Science and Technology about £450,000 in the course of a year, but along with that there is a very much bigger grant from the University Grants Committee. Why is there that dual channel for public funds? Would it not be more sensible if the whole thing were done under the one aegis?

I am inclined to ask how the college itself is supposed to get along in these circumstances. The college has already found itself in difficulties in its relations with the university. In many respects, it would be better for the college if it were simply a single institution. In many respects it would be better if it were completely incorporated as a faculty of the university. However, it is neither of those. It is in between, and difficulties have arisen between the university and the college and the problems concerned with those difficulties have not yet been fully solved.

Here is another factor, not only financing but assessing, considering, determining the nature of the service being rendered by still a third authority. In consequence, one is inclined to ask how the Royal College of Science and Technology is to achieve and maintain the sort of status which a great scientific institution of university rank ought to achieve and maintain. Is not this kind of administration putting it under difficulties of a sort which no parallel institution has to suffer?

There are similar objections for the other central institutions and those objections are just as strong. In referring to those other institutions, I am not now leaving aside the Royal College, because the college is one of this group of institutions of university standing and all the Regulations apply to it as they do to the others. Regulation 11 is the sum and substance of Part II of the Regulations. It imposes conditions on these colleges which seem to be quite unjustifiable. The colleges are all of university rank, some for science, some for art, some for architecture, some for music, and so on. One would have thought that these would operate on roughly the same principles as the universities, not with exactly the same kind of government and management, but on roughly the same principles as those followed by universities. In fact, they are hemmed in very closely.

Regulation 11 (1, b) says that the governing body or approved association shall make such reports and returns and give such information to the Secretary of State as he may require. There is no doubt whatever about the position of the Secretary of State in relation to these institutions. "As he may require": it is impossible to require anything of the universities, which are free agents, but these institutions, dealing with youngsters at the same stage as those in universities, are to be required to produce information and to keep within whatever restrictions the Secretary of State may lay down.

Regulation 11 (3, b) says that the grades of staff employed&shall be such as the Secretary of State may consider reasonable. The appointment of staff and the decision about qualifications of staff are things which the universities have always considered to be internal matters. No one lays down the law to the universities about whom they shall appoint and what kind of people they shall appoint and that kind of thing, but in similar institutions the Secretary of State is to have the final word.

Regulation 11 (3, d) says that the institutions are to be forbidden to hold lectures in classes of more than 40. I find it difficult to swallow that. This Regulations applies to the central institutions the whole body of Regulations in Part I. Those are possibly appropriate to the education authority institutions dealing with teen-agers, but they are far too finicky and repressive when applied to these bodies.

Why should there not be classes over 40? Why should not a lecturer or professor in the Heriot-Watt College, or the Royal College in Glasgow, lecture to a couple of hundred students at once? What is wrong with that, provided they get proper tutorial instruction? Apart from that, they are subject to ridiculous regulations about attendance registers having to be kept, and inspection. Are these colleges really to be subject to inspection, as if they were primary or secondary schools? Are the Heriot-Watt and other colleges of that sort to submit schemes of work to be examined? What has happened to academic freedom?

They have to submit for the approval of the Secretary of State particulars of their courses. That hits academic freedom in the eye. Their courses are to be approved by the Secretary of State. That kind of regulation would mean the end of a university as a teaching institution. No university would dream of accepting a condition like that. But these institutions, doing work of university standard and quality, are told that their courses are to be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.

The conditions of the award of degrees and diplomas are also to be subject to consideration and inspection by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State must approve the assessor who may be appointed to sit in with the examiners. Universities have their system of external examiners, but they do not have to submit these external examiners for approval by the Treasury or by any other Government Department; but the central institutions have to submit them for the approval of the Minister.

This is totally wrong. I cannot see how the Secretary of State can reconcile Regulations of this sort with the position in which the country wants to put scientific studies. We are trying to tell our constituents and the country in general that science must be developed to a far greater extent. We are trying to tell everybody that it must be developed on a liberal basis. We have talked in terms of a scientific university, of scientific courses of a university type, and here we are tying down the central institutions as if they were primary schools. This sort of action in this day and age requires more justification than I think it is possible for the Government to give.

10.28 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) made an important case for the central institutions. I wish to deal with two Regulations concerning further education. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), who moved the Prayer, raised the question of the charging of fees. Regulation 11 (3, a) states that: The scales of tuition, examination, hostel and other fees charged to students attending the central institution or further education centre shall be such as the Secretary of State may consider reasonable: Those who go to further education classes are what I would call the unprivileged young people in our communities. They lack the privilege of those who are able to stay at a secondary school until they are 17 or 18 years of age. In the main, they leave school at 15 and start work. They will either be giving up their spare time to travel to evening classes, or will be attending day release centres. Those who are privileged, as I was, to stay at school until they are 17, do not pay any fees at all. Not only have they no fees to pay, but they have no books to buy. Their books and all the stationery they need are provided for them.

In this matter of privilege and the feeling we have that there ought to be equity in these matters, it seems that these young people attending further education classes ought not to be asked at any time to pay fees. We often hear complaints that far too many of our young people who leave school at 15 never go near a school again. We want to give them all the encouragement we can, but one of the ways of discouraging them is to charge fees, no matter how small. If some are not discouraged by the charging of fees, I feel that it is wrong to charge fees to them when their more fortunate brothers and sisters remain at school until they are 17 and do not have to pay a penny in fees.

We are not alone in this contention. Most hon. Members will have read the most interesting Command Paper on further education, published in 1952. On page 50 of that Paper, we see the recommendation, in paragraph 197, We therefore reaffirm the recommendation of the previous Council that no fees be charged for students up to 18 years of age. Paragraph 198, meeting possible criticism, says: The adage that what costs nothing is considered to be worth nothing is presented a reason for fee paying. Against such arguments there must be placed the urgent demand for fully trained technicians. There are two reasons why the Government ought not to charge fees. The first is that we ought to see that these unprivileged boys and girls are put on the same footing as those who are privileged and remain at school. The second reason is that, although we may be making great plans for the training of our scientists and technologists, those who will be top in this world will always have to depend a great deal on our technicians and craftsmen. For those two reasons I urge the Government to cut out any fee paying, particularly in these centres for further education.

The only other point with which I want to deal is in Part I, at the top of page 3 of the Regulations, under the heading "Size of Classes." My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs pooh-poohed the idea that in the central institutions there should be a regulation stipulating that there should not be more than 40 in a class. I would support my hon. Friend only if I felt that where there is a class of 200 there is tutorial work to back up the class work. I have tried to refresh my memory on the number laid down by the code for secondary education.

For the first three years of serious secondary education the number allowed in Scotland is 40. That is normally for those up to 15 years of age, but for those over 15 years of age—those in the fourth, fifth and sixth years—the number laid down by the code is 30. It is 30 for those I term the more privileged children. Yet the Government are laying down in the code that the maximum shall be 40 and are going even further by saying, provided that any of the said numbers of students may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances. It seems to me that if, as educationists, we say that those children we consider fit for senior secondary courses must not be educated, in their final years in senior secondary courses, in classes of more than 30, then we have no right to say that those children who leave school at 15 and try to supplement their education and to become better craftsmen and technicians should be educated in classes of 40.

The Secretary of State ought to give most careful consideration to the question of the size of classes. I do not know what representations have been made to him on the two points which I have made, but I am sure that in meeting them he would have the backing in Scotland of all those interested in the education of our young people and in ensuring that our craftsmen and technicians are given the best possible education.

My final question is one which has been stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East. Are the Government satisfied that by these Regulations we shall reach parity with England and Wales in the provision of day-release classes for our boys and girls? It seems to me scandalous that in this part of education we fall so far behind England and Wales.

10.37 p.m.

Sir James Henderson-Stewart (Fife, East)

This is a very useful occasion for drawing attention to an immensely important matter for us in Scotland. Like other hon. Members, I merely want to touch here and there on small points, because there is not time for a long oration.

I start by feeling that the important element here is the local college. If we could concentrate upon the development of the local college we should be doing the greatest good for our country. Like the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), I hope that the new college being built in Dundee will be a great success, but I was very pleased to not ice that the Dundee Town Council invited the Scottish Education Department to have another look at the plans and the general costs and took the view that a little economy would do no harm.

The Lord Provost of Dundee was very wise in that view, and although I am very impressed with the necessity for developing these local colleges and would stress to my friends in Scotland the importance of getting a move on with them, nevertheless I ask, as I did when I had some responsibility for the matter, that some measure of economy be maintained, because there is no doubt that we have to watch that the State's money is not used upon projects which, while attractive, are not vital.

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House know the kind of thing I have in mind. I am very much in favour, however, of developing the local colleges. I hope that no local authority—and I am thinking of Fife just as much as any other—will in any way hinder the development of these essential institutions—

Mr. G. M. Thomson

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will assure me that in saying that there should be value for money— which is what I take him to be saying—he does not support those who feel that the economy should be made at the expense of the recreational and cultural classes to be provided in this trades college. Does he agree that the younger people of from 15 to 18 years of age have just as much right to general education as have those still at school?

Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

I entirely share that view. All the same, we have to remember that, as a nation, we in Scotland have done a fairly good job so far. The hon. Gentleman's figures impressed me. So far, what has been undertaken represents an expenditure of just under £10 million, and we are committed to the expenditure of another £6 million. That is a very substantial development of technical education in our country. I only hope that the Government will go on being wise in this way, and that it will be a continuing and progressive development. I am very pleased to see in one of the papers which has been circulated that the Government themselves talk about a "vast and continuous" expansion. That is the right language to use in this connection.

We have certainly to go a very long way with these day-release classes. We are far behind England, and there are reasons for it into which we need not now enter. I am advised that when the present string of new colleges is completed we may count on a day-release attendance in a few years of about 60,000 instead of the present 30,000. That would be a considerable step forward.

I was interested in what the hon. Member for Dundee, East said about the central institutions. I agree that it does seem odd that the Royal Technical College, in Glasgow, should be financed from two sources, but it is a long-standing thing—it grows up. Nevertheless, there is no reason why it should not be looked at again. Perhaps more co-ordination is required.

I was not so happy when the hon. Member spoke of the other central institutions. I cannot agree that we should not demand reports from a body which we finance out of public funds—

Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that the same should apply to the universities, which are financed from public funds?

Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

I get that point quite well, but they are not quite the same—

Mr. MacPherson


Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

With great respect, I beg leave to differ—

Mr. MacPherson

May I just make this point? It is not so long ago that the universities expanded their range to take in institutions which were then of this sort. For instance, in Scotland, the dental colleges were not part of the universities, and were not normally part of the universities elsewhere, but were incorporated as faculties. Surely the same thing applies to the Scottish Woollen Technical College, the Scottish Academy of Music, the Arts College, and so on.

Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

I know that the argument is perfectly logical, but, talking from experience—and we all have experience of this—I cannot readily agree that we should cease to require from bodies such as those the hon. Gentleman mentions any report on what they are doing. That seems to be asking a little too much, and it is not asking too much of them.

As to the fees mentioned by the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), I confess that I was not aware that fees were being charged for what I might call vocational subjects. I know that fees have always been charged for dancing and that kind of thing. In my time I have been quite open in saying that that sort of class should be paid for by those taking advantage of it, but I was not aware that a boy or girl leaving school at 14, 15 or 16 years of age was required to pay fees for the normal instruction in those classes. If the hon. Lady has raised a point there, I agree that it ought to be examined.

I repeat that we are dealing here with a matter which will be of supreme importance in Scotland in days to come. We have this growing, almost frightening, problem coming to us in the next year or two. It seems that we have more young people coming into our hands than we know what to do with. I say "it seems," but it behoves the Government and industry together to take substantial—perhaps exceptional—measures to ensure that there is a place found for these young boys and girls.

The hon. Lady is quite right in saying that those children of 17 and 18 who have the advantage of going right to the top of the school and then to a university are fortunate. But there is the great mass, about 75 per cent., who do not go there and many do not go to any classes at all. It is dreadful that that state of affairs should continue. Therefore, anything that the Government and industry can do together to harness these young people into proper lines of thought and ultimately to useful work would be helpful to the State.

10.46 p.m.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

From time to time in our debates on education we have advanced the claim from both sides of the House that in view of the need for more technologists and better technological education, our technological institutes should be allowed to award their own degrees. I see the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George) smiling at that statement. He will recollect that he supported me last July when I dealt with that matter in our education debate. That demand is now being pressed on the Secretary of State by the Royal College in Glasgow.

The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) said that there is indifference. He said that the technological college—that is to say institutions like the Royal College—and the university are not the same. But that is not the case. The hon. Gentleman ought to know that the classes in mathematics, science and engineering subjects in the Royal Technical College in Glasgow are on an equal academic level with the same types of classes in the university, and attendance at those classes in the Royal College allows students to sit for the university examination and take the appropriate degree in engineering or other aspects of their education.

It is accepted that their standards are exactly the same. Because of that, the claim is being advanced that the technological colleges in Scotland should have the right—a right which is recognised in many other countries—to award their own degree and have the status that is conceded to the university.

The hon. Member for Pollok is now getting from his own Front Bench the reply to the claim that he has made on many occasions. Instead of the central institution having the right to expand, it is to be further restricted. No one can regard that decision as anything other than one of the most reactionary educational steps that the present Government have taken. I am certain that it will be received with the deepest disappointment amongst the students and staff of Glasgow's Royal Technical College when they realise what is happening.

My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) very properly emphasised the size of the problem that faces us. It is a problem that should have been tackled long ago. It is a tremendous problem and I want to put it in a setting which is not always appreciated. We talk about the number of young people who enrol in our technical courses at the opening of the winter session. At the moment, the only liaison of any account that exists between the boy who leaves at the age of 15 and the technological colleges are the evening classes.

From time to time, the numbers that enrol may show an increase and we feel happy, but that is not the true picture. From my own experience as the head of one of these institutions in Glasgow, I found over ten years of work in that side of education that to get a third-year technical class of 30 students, I had to enrol or have on my roll four classes in the first year of 40 students each. In other words, I needed 160 boys in the first year to produce a third-year class of 30 boys. Those 30 were the boys who were going ahead to begin the education that would carry them to the Higher National Certificate at the technological college or, perhaps, after a seven-year course, to the degree of B. Sc.

The reason why there is that enormous wastage is because it is quite impossible for a boy to start work at 8 o'clock in the morning, finish at 5 or 5.30 at night, travel, as many boys must, half an hour or, in some cases, an hour to get home, change, have tea, go back for their further education classes at 7.30 at night, carry on until 9.30 in the first year, then go home, do whatever homework is necessary and be ready to resume work at 8 o'clock next morning.

That has been going on in Scotland for years. The result of it, due not only to mental but also to physical weariness, has been an abnormal wastage, of which we know too little. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary, who is interested in education, is acquainted with that side of the problem. Therefore, it becomes important that we should try to abandon that form of education as far as possible and get our day-release classes into operation.

During the course, which is very heavy, a boy has to set aside nearly all the little social engagements to which between the ages of 15 and 17 he looks forward, including dances and conversation with his girl. Boys of that age are beginning to open their eyes to these distractions, which, I suppose in a way help to make their contribution to the educational wastage.

When I saw that the Joint Under-Secretary was speaking in Scotland at the week-end, I followed what he had to say with great interest. Addressing the 18 gentlemen who met in a room at St. Andrew's House, Edinburgh, to talk about Scotland's technical future—and we wish them well in the tremendous job to which they are setting their hands—he recalled the Government announcing, in 1956, a building programme of new and improved technical colleges to the value of £10 million in Scotland, in the five years ending in 1961—and remember we are almost half way through 1959. "A few weeks ago", he added, "we announced an extension of that programme by a further £6 million in the years 1961–1964. The building programme is making steady progress, in the sense that the plans are going ahead".

The plans are "going ahead," and we may hope to see some concrete result of these plans in the 1960s. It is more than three years since we were told about the £10 million programme, and in the City of Glasgow not one new technical college is even being started. February, 1956, to May, 1959—and we are still planning for a future that has not produced in Glasgow even the beginning of one day-release college.

We have been planning through all those three years. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman can give us a more satisfactory account of what has been done in that time than is contained in his statement. Certainly, in Glasgow there have been two renovations. Allan Glen's, used as a technical school, has been modernised, but when I left it, as a boy, it needed modernising, and that was not the day before yesterday. We were carrying on evening classes in that school until very recently. Those are the only two contributions that have come to Glasgow, and they are not new; they are replacements, and Glasgow is still in the position in which it has been for too many years.

This is surely one of the cruellest gaps that exists in our educational system—the gap from 15 to 18 years of age. Here is the background to delinquency and all the other problems that worry us. The children of delinquency are being reared in that vacuum about which nothing has been done during these many years.

I wish to put one point to the hon. Gentleman about the Regulations. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), referred to the figure of 30 in dealing with the size of classes. In Regulation 3 it is stated that the number in the class for theoretical instruction shall not exceed 40. If the hon. Gentleman finds it difficult or impossible to do anything about that number, would he think of laying down the provision that 30 shall be the normal maximum for day and evening technical classes? I do not think that that should be very difficult to accept.

I would also ask the hon. Gentleman what he means by "whole-time" courses to which reference is made at various points in the Regulations. Should he not define that a little more closely? Instead of talking about a normal "whole-time" course, could he not define a whole-time course as, being a "course of ten sessions"? I will tell him the reason for that. In these colleges, once they are under way, we shall have what we call combined appointments; that is, the staffs will be engaged during the day and also during the evening. That is a heavy job if they are teaching all day and then have to teach in the evening session. I am referring, of course, to the assistant teachers.

Admittedly, the hon. Gentleman may tell us that, they are getiting £200 a year for that. Yes, but he has to realise that the day school teacher who takes this work at night will be getting his day school salary plus the full evening school salary for the evenings he teaches. Obviously, if we are to have that different type of treatment in these new colleges it will not be easy to recruit teachers for them, if they are to be tied during the day and tied also during the night—unless the hon. Gentleman will try to meet the problem by defining the working day, in terms of session's. That would ensure that the teacher would have some time in the evening, or during the day, free, to attend to the many other duties which are associated with the running of a school or college. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will think about that suggestion.

The hon. Gentleman must keep in mind, I should imagine, the problem of supply. If there are to be greater inducements to come into these colleges he must remember that he may attract teachers especially in maths and science, away from the day schools, and denude them of such teachers. As I said in the debate which the hon. Gentleman was, unfortunately, not able to attend, in Glasgow now 900 teachers are needed, and by the beginning of the next session, because of the lack of staff, we may be faced with part-time education.

I think that we could give Part I of the Regulation's a general welcome because they give the local authorities a very wide discretion in the conduct of these further education classes, but Part II must be looked at carefully.

In Part III, in which the hon. Gentleman deals with further education centres, he says, in Regulation 16 (4): further education centre means an institution for the provision of further education". He goes on to say that: the expression does not include a university, a theological college or a hostel or other residence used exclusively by students attending a university or theological college". Sub-paragraph (b) of the paragraph says that it does not include a central institution. It would appear, to me at least, that there is some ambiguity there, because the many clauses dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) seemed to apply to central institutions, and yet the definition of "further education centre" excludes a central institution."

Like my hon. Friends and perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am sorry that time is running so much against us, because there is a good deal more to explore in these Regulations which will shape the course of our technological education for many years ahead. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will be able to resolve same of our fears.

11.6 p.m.

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

As my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) and other hon. Members have said, this debate is on a matter of very great importance. I think that the best service I can do the House to start with is to show exactly what the Regulations do. I will later come to the other points which have been raised.

As is said in the Explanatory Memorandum, the Regulations replace the Central Institutions (Scotland) Grant Regulations, 1947, the Further Education (Scotland) Code, 1952, and the Further Education (Voluntary Associations) (Scotland) Grant Regulations, 1952. The main reason for the new Regulations was the introduction of the arrangements for general grant together with the abolition of the Education (Scotland) Fund which was effected by the Local Government and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions (Scotland) Act, 1958.

As a result of these changes the expenditure of education authorities on the provision of all forms of education is no longer to be aided by grant from the Education (Scotland) Fund, and so Regulations made under Section 71 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, empowering the Secretary of State to prescribe conditions for the payment of that grant, are no longer appropriate. Among such Regulations were the Further Education (Scotland) Code, 1952, to which I have referred, which Part I of the new Regulations replaces.

Part I is based on the power conferred on the Secretary of State by Section 1 (8) of the Education (Scotland) Act—which was altered by an amendment introduced by the 1958 Act—to make Regulations prescribing the standards and general requirements to which every education authority shall conform in exercising its functions under Section 1, which lays on education authorities the duty of providing further education as well as primary and secondary education. The abolition of the Fund also made it necessary to revise the two other sets of Regulations—the one dealing with central institutions and the other dealing with voluntary associations—and as they covered similar objects it was decided to form a single set of regulations dealing with grants to both central institutions and voluntary associations concerned with further education, whether technical, adult or social and recreational. That is the purpose of Part II of the Regulations.

The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) questioned the desirability of combining central institutions and further education establishments—technical colleges—in the same Regulations. In doing so, we are implementing a recommendation of the Advisory Council on Education which was made in its Report on Further Education published in 1952. The Council advised us that one code of regulations should be framed to regulate all activities in the wide field of further education, and that all voluntary organisations in this field should be eligible for grant under one set of regulations.

Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

I think that the hon. Member is confusing me with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson). The fact that the Advisory Council has recommended something does not make it sacrosanct. A great many of the Council's recommendations have not been enacted.

Mr. Niall Macpherson

I shall be coming to some of the points which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I agree that advice is there to be taken or not to be taken.

It may be for the convenience of the House if I indicate what changes of substance these Regulations are actually making through the replacement of the three previous Statutory Instruments. Part I makes two minor changes. Some reference has been made to Regulation 3 and to the size of classes. That was already dealt with by regulation. What is new is the proviso and that was inserted at the request of the local authority associations, who felt—we think rightly—that 20 might be too large a class for instruction where machinery was used and where matters of safety were involved. That is why the Regulation says: … or such lesser number for either form 01 instruction as the Secretary of State may determine in relation to any particular subject or group of subjects". There has been a great deal of comment on the size of classes. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs thought that in some cases classes should be bigger than 40. That is covered by the proviso to Regulation 3 which says: Provided that any of the said numbers of students may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances. I should inform the House that when these Regulations were sent out, they were covered by a circular, Circular 405. I think that it would be for the convenience of the House if I put a copy of that circular in the Library. It is very informative and shows the guidance which the Secretary of State has given to local authorities. Paragraph 35 of that circular will probably meet the point which the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) had in mind. It says: For vocational courses generally and for courses of general education for young people the number normally in attendance at any class should not exceed 30 pupils for theoretical instruction. The position there is that the maxima already existing are retained, but education authorities are advised not to exceed 30 pupils in attendance at any class.

There is one good reason for that. It is, unfortunately, that numbers tend to dwindle, but the same circular advised local authorities not to exceed the numbers to start with merely because they will dwindle later, for the very good reason that, by exceeding the numbers in the first place, they will probably cause the numbers to dwindle later. I think that we are probably in sympathy with the hon. Lady's views, but at present we do not think it desirable to prescribe a lesser number for particular subjects. We have, however, power in the Regulations to do that.

Miss Herbison

We have to consider what is in the Regulations, and there the figure given is 40. It is not good enough merely to have a booklet which gives advice to local authorities and say that technical subjects should not have classes larger than 30. The proviso says: Provided that any of the said numbers of students may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances. Surely it would be better to have the figure of 30 in the proviso so that it would be permissible to exceed it if there were exceptional circumstances.

Mr. Macpherson

The hon. Lady, and the House, will realise that these Regulations are mainly what one might term machinery Regulations in that they are replacing others because of changes which have been made.

There is another minor change in that the provision in the Further Education (Scotland) Code, 1952, for schemes and records of work for further education centres has been dropped. H.M. inspectors advise that these schemes are accepted everywhere, and that teachers, certainly at the more advanced stages, would consider such an explicit requirement as this to be a reflection on their professional competence; but it is possible for the inspectors to ask for details of the schemes, and for the records of work to be, produced to them when it is considered necessary. Any shortcomings which they may encounter during their visits to further education centres can be discussed then with teachers or principals, or with directors of education.

The changes in Part II of the Regulations, to which the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs drew attention, concern the change in the method of assessment of grant for central institutions. That was introduced provisionally by the Central Institutions (Scotland) Grant (Amendment No. 1) Provisional Regulations, 1958. Up to now grants from the Education (Scotland) Fund towards the maintenance of the central institutions have been finally determined on the basis of the amount by which recognised expenditure has exceeded income during the institution's financial year.

In future, the annual amount of grant will be assessed in advance on the basis of the institution's estimate and intimated to the institution. In other words, a deficiency finance system is being replaced by what one may call proper budgeting and I suggest to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling and Falkirk that that is "on the way up" so far as academic responsibility is concerned.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East asked me about progress with the day-release courses and I can tell him that the numbers have steadily risen, since the publication of the 1956 White Paper, from 25,000 in 1955 to over 33,000 last year. But, all the same, we recognise that we are in a relatively worse position than England in this respect and the Government are directing their effort towards co-operation with the education authorities to provide new local technical colleges so as to enable places to be found for apprentices and others as they leave school. The intention is that the number of places for day-release students should be doubled. It may be, however, that the disparity between Scotland and England will not be rectified until the 16 new colleges which are planned actually come into use in the early 1960s.

Proposals to the value of £9.9 million in respect of the 1956 programme of £10 million have been approved. It is hoped that work to the value of at least a further £2 million, in addition to the work already completed or under construction, will be started this year. Circular No. 405 announced an expansion of the programme whereby a further £2 million in each of the three years 1961–1964 will be allotted, making a grand total of £16 million for technical colleges and central institutions.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

The hon. Gentleman has agreed that there is the leeway of 30,000 to make up to reach the proportions of England. Is he telling us that the 1958 Report will show an increase in the last twelve months of less than 1,500?

Mr. Macpherson

Over the three years there has been an increase of more than 8,000. We hope that as the building programme gets into its stride and arrangements for co-operation—which are at present being made—take effect, the number of places to be provided will increase very much and also, what is of the utmost importance, that those places will be taken up.

Miss Herbison

Have the Government decided to allocate this extra money because these new colleges are being built so speedily and they feel that within the time we could use more money? In other words, of the colleges planned, how many have been completed? At what stage of construction are they and when may we hope that they will be completed?

Mr. Macpherson

Proposals to the value of £9.9 million in the 1956 programme of work to be started—I emphasise "started"—in the years 1956–61, have been approved. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) said that nothing at all had been done in Glasgow. There have been two extensions to the Royal College of Science and Technology. Further work is going on there and at the Hotel School and at the Stow College of Building. They are not the only projects which have been started.

The value of work under construction at present is over £½ million and tenders are under consideration in the Department at the time to the value of £1.2 million. There are plans approved, but tenders not submitted for a further £1.4 million. So it is not idle to say that good progress has been made in the programme.

Miss Herbison

flow much has been begun in the whole of Scotland?

Mr. Macpherson

In a matter of this kind planning is of the utmost importance. It is essential to get the provision right in relation to needs. That has not been an easy matter. It has not been easy to get all the industries concerned to come forward and state their needs, but now, with the setting up of the new Scottish Technical Education Consultative Committee, which was launched on Friday, we are hopeful that progress will be very much quicker in the co-operation which is so essential between industry and education.

The actual planning and building of technical colleges is a matter for the education authorities in conjunction with the Education Department. I can assure the House that there is no undue delay in getting on with the planning, but I insist that it is essential that the planning should be right from the start if we are to get the best results.

I have been asked a great number of questions. On the question of staff, the answer to the hon. Member for Govan is that a full-time teacher is defined in the Teachers' Salaries Regulations as a teacher employed for 10 sessions or more in one week. I think that the hon. Member will find that what he has in mind is fully covered. It is not intended to overwork teachers by employing them all day and in the evening as well. It is intended to have staffs which will be sufficient to deal with the whole of the commitments of the technical colleges. Technical colleges will be dealing mainly with day-release classes and evening classes which are co-ordinated with them.

Mr. Rankin

As that definition is not made in the Regulations, will the Minister see that it is made in the circular which he says is being issued?

Mr. Macpherson

I think that the hon. Member will find that the circular is very comprehensive. In particular, it deals with the need for co-ordination between the school and the technical college, which the hon. Member for Dundee, East mentioned.

Regulation 11 (3, a), on fees, refers to central institutions and approved associations and not to further education centres.

Miss Herbison

That is not what it says.

Mr. Macpherson

It has been customary for the Secretary of State to control fees for central institutions and non-education authority further education centres. This is primarily a matter for the central institutions and the other bodies concerned. He has done nothing more in respect of evening classes than exercise an influence in that matter. The intention with respect to day-release courses is that fees should be brought into alignment, and the circular urges local authorities to do that.

On this I make two points. First, we are dealing with a pooling arrangement; in other words, the education authority in whose area the provision is made will be providing facilities not only for its own area but also for a much wider area, and the intention is that it should be open to anybody to put down his name for a course even if it is outside his area. He will not need a permit. It is, therefore, highly desirable to have similarity of fees. Secondly, bursaries are available to contribute towards the payment of fees and in any case of hardship fees will be met in that way. I do not think that the hon. Lady need fear that fees will prevent people from attending these courses. That has not been our experience.

These matters will be considered with great care by the Advisory Council. I hope that, on that assurance, hon. Members will not press the Motion.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.