§ Order for Second reading read.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office (Mr. C. J. M. Alport)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to some of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Education Conference which was held at Oxford in June of this year. I think that it would be appropriate if, to begin with, I said something in more detail about the conference. The House will remember that this was called in consequence of certain decisions which were made at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference held in Montreal in 1958.
The great distinction of the delegations which attended the Oxford conference, the harmony of its proceedings and the practical idealism of the plan which it drew up, make it a remarkable example of Commonwealth co-operation at its very best. It forms part of the infrastructure of the modern Commonwealth which it is our purpose progressively to strengthen and extend. The attention of the public here and overseas tends to be concentrated upon the political relationships of the Commonwealth countries, but we must never allow opinion either here or overseas to underestimate the importance of the work which we can do together in the field of technology and social science, trade and finance, art and, above all, I think, education.
The decisions of the 1959 Oxford conference, which will be followed by a second conference to be held in India in 1961, marked, in our view, the opening of a new era of Commonwealth co-operation in education. Just as Ottawa was a turning point in our trade relationships a quarter of a century ago, so Oxford, we believe, will be regarded as a turning point in the field of education in the next generation. As at Ottawa, the decisions reached at Oxford were based upon the principle of mutual assistance. Each Commonwealth country has something to give and something to gain in accordance with its differing needs and resources.
375 As far as the scholarship and fellowship plan itself is concerned, it will introduce a greater measure of what one may term academic mobility throughout the Commonwealth at a time when the men and women concerned are at the formative period of their professional careers. It will provide a continuous exchange of ideas and knowledge by giving them access to the rich and varied intellectual resources and technical experience of the different Commonwealth countries. It will, we hope, go far to create in a very real and literal sense a Commonwealth of the mind, which, applied to the social, economic and political problems of our time, may provide us with answers which we in the workaday world of public affairs sometimes find so elusive.
The target for scholarships and fellowships which the Oxford conference set itself was 1,000, and of these, as the House knows, the United Kingdom has undertaken to find 500. In addition, the Oxford conference recognised that it was not sufficient merely to cater for the training and development of potential leaders—to quote from the report of the conference.men and women of intellectual promise who may be expected to make a significant contribution to the life of their own countries.Throughout the Commonwealth, and particularly among the newer members, there is an urgency for more teachers, and proposals were, therefore, made for the training of teachers from countries where teacher training resources are insufficient, as well as to encourage teachers from those countries like the United Kingdom to go overseas to take up key posts in places where the lack of trained teachers is a serious handicap to social and economic progress.
It is estimated that about 2,500 teachers leave the United Kingdom annually for service in the Commonwealth, but we can and, I believe the House will agree, we must provide more for the future, and particularly we must ensure that the teachers who go, go increasingly to the less developed countries where their services and help are so urgently required.
Finally, the conference recognised the vital importance of improved technical education, particularly in the newer 376 Commonwealth countries wrestling with the problems of raising the standards of living of their people by increased industrialisation and the more intensive exploitation of their natural resources. It was agreed at the conference that in the whole field of the scholarship plan, teacher training and teacher provision, proper emphasis should be given to technical education.
I should, perhaps, at this point remind the House that it is proposed to set up a Commonwealth education liaison committee composed of one representative from each member country and from Nigeria, and with the United Kingdom appointing a member to represent the dependent territories of the Commonwealth, and that this committee will follow up and report progress on the schemes agreed at the Oxford conference and will consider suggestions for the improvement and extension of Commonwealth co-operation in the whole educational field in the future.
Those suggestions will be submitted to the 1961 Commonwealth education conference and will be considered there. As the House, I think, already knows, Sir Philip Morris, Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University and the distinguished chairman of the Oxford conference, has agreed to be chairman of this liaison committee and we are very grateful indeed to him for taking up that appointment.
The Bill that we are considering to-day deals only with the scholarship and fellowship plan. Action on the other matters discussed at the conference, that is, the training of Commonwealth students at technical colleges, teacher-training and the provision of teachers to go abroad, is proceeding at present. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland are receiving the wholehearted co-operation of the education authorities in working out the plans here in the United Kingdom. If legislation is necessary to deal with any of these matters it will be laid before the House in due course.
We have, however, thought it right to press on with this Bill because we are aiming at making available the first 250 United Kingdom scholarships to be taken up at the beginning of the 377 academic year in the autumn of 1960. Some preliminary work has already been done, but if we are to succeed in our object then the machinery for selection must come into being in January and the actual process of selection must be completed by April or May. If the Bill, therefore, were to be passed before Christmas we should be in a position to get ahead with the scholarship and fellowship plan, which, I am sure the House will agree, is in itself a vitally important element in the whole scheme.
I think that I should explain that the distinction between scholarships, on the one hand, and fellowships, on the other, is that the former will be available, for the most part, to men and women who have recently graduated and will be available for post-graduate and research work. For the most part, these men and women will be between the ages of 22 and 28, and the maximum age for them will be 35. Fellowships, on the other hand, will be given usually for one year to established scholars wishing to make or to renew contact with recent developments overseas in the field of knowledge in which they are already recognised authorities.
In addition, scholarships may be awarded in special cases for undergraduate courses to candidates who come from countries where no such courses are available at institutions of their own, and in other cases scholarships, as opposed to fellowships, may be awarded for training in the arts, music and crafts at specialised institutions outside the field of the universities and technical colleges.
I think that the House as a whole will feel that the Bill, accompanied by the White Paper, is largely self-explanatory. It sets up a Commission, which will be charged with the duty of selecting men and women from Commonwealth countries to come to the United Kingdom to take up these scholarships and fellowships which we have on offer here. It will make arrangements for placing them at appropriate universities or colleges of technology, and will supervise their work during what will normally be the two academic years during which the scholarships are current.
Secondly, it has the duty of making the preliminary selection of candidates from the United Kingdom for considera- 378 tion for scholarships offered to us by countries overseas. The Secretary of State is further empowered by the Bill to assign to the Commission other duties in relation to the general administration of the scheme. Responsibility for the day-to-day administrative work on the academic side, as the White Paper points out, will be undertaken by the Association of Universities of the British Commonwealth, which is a body well equipped for this particular task. The British Council has undertaken responsibility for the supervision of the general welfare of scholars and fellows while they are in this country.
I know that the House will attach particular importance to ensuring that students coming here, in addition to having facilities for study and research, will have an opportunity of entering fully into ordinary life in Britain, particularly during vacation time. Special attention will be paid to this by the British Council in the organisation which it is setting up for the purpose of looking after the welfare problems of students coming to the United Kingdom. The administrative focal point of the whole scheme will be, we hope, and I think the House will agree, very appropriately, at Marlborough House.
The House might like to know broadly the process of selection of candidates for scholarships in the United Kingdom. Each Commonwealth country is in the process of setting up a body which, if not actually similar in composition and status to our Commission, will have broadly the same duties as the Commission to which the Bill refers. Applicants will be selected by these bodies for submission to our Commission, and our Commission will select applicants, whose names will be forwarded with their records and all necessary documents by the overseas bodies, maintaining a broad balance between the older members of the Commonwealth, the newer members of the Commonwealth and the dependent territories.
In both the placing of the overseas scholars in the United Kingdom and the selection of students from the United Kingdom for scholarships overseas, the Commission will have available the honorary services of 40 distinguished United Kingdom scholars and scientists 379 to assist it. Their advice will be available to ensure that when a candidate for a scholarship here is accepted for some particular subject or research in some matter, he or she goes to the institution most likely to provide the most appropriate facilities for carrying on those studies in this country. Similarly, the advice of the 40 consultants, so to speak, will be available in the selection of applicants from this country who are candidates for scholarships overseas.
There is one more point in the Bill to which I think I should draw the attention of the House at this stage. In Clause 1 (7), it is made clear that decisions with regard to the selection of candidates is a matter solely for the Commission, and is not in any way the responsibility of my noble Friend the Secretary of State. This ensures that the Commission has complete freedom in the selection of individuals for scholarships here or in recommending candidates for scholarships overseas, and I think that the House will agree that it is fully in accordance with the principle of academic freedom, to which we in this country attach such great importance.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
While accepting that what my hon. Friend has said is very important, may I ask him whether he could give the House an assurance that this will not lead to such freedom that those who are selected to acquire these scholarships are weighted in favour of legal studies, as opposed to the more practical arts and sciences needed in many Commonwealth and Colonial Territories?
§ Mr. Alport
I think that the Commission must be free to decide these matters itself, but my hon. Friend can be perfectly assured on this. If he has, as I know he has, studied the report of the Oxford conference, he will have seen the great emphasis which was placed by that conference on an obligation for technical education, and it was agreed that that principle should apply, not only in teacher training, but also in scholarships. I can assure my hon. Friend that the point will be very firmly borne in mind by all those concerned with the administration of the scheme in the United Kingdom.
I was about to point out to the House that, from the financial point of view, the 380 cost of this scheme will be £2,300,000 during the first five years. The House may wonder why there is a discrepancy between that figure and the figure which I gave in answer to a Question not long ago, when I mentioned £6 million. The rest of the money we have in mind for financing it will be available for other parts of the scheme, such as teacher training and teacher provision. It is quite possible that in due course consideration will be given to whether it is possible or desirable to extend this part of the scheme, but we must have some experience of its working before any decision can be taken on that.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
May I ask the hon. Gentleman to deal with an aspect of the matter which I think he has omitted, though I may be wrong? Would he tell the House whether the other Commonwealth Governments are acting in a way similar to the way in which he wishes us to act? Are they taking steps to implement the report of the Oxford conference?
§ Mr. Alport
I can give the hon. and learned Gentleman an assurance on that, although this is a matter entirely for them. I think that he will be aware that the obligations undertaken by other Commonwealth countries after the Oxford conference were substantial and proportionate to our own. He will remember that Canada is to provide 250 scholarships and fellowships; Australia, 100; India, 100; Pakistan, 30; New Zealand, 25; the Federation of Malaya, 12; Ghana, 10; the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 10; Ceylon, 6; and East Africa, 4. Therefore, the hon. and learned Gentleman may be assured that, having undertaken these obligations, the Commonwealth countries themselves will be taking similar steps to our own to give effect to their commitments.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am much obliged. I am sorry to press the matter, but does the hon. Gentleman not realise that it is very important that the Commonwealth Governments should act pari passu in this matter and should take steps similar to those that we are taking today? I should like to know whether they are doing so.
§ Mr. Alport
To be quite honest about it, our business is to get on with carrying out our own commitments, but the hon. 381 and learned Member can be assured that our friends in the Commonwealth will be just as anxious to carry out their commitments as we are in the House.
I feel confident that the House will feel that this new initiative in Commonwealth co-operation is one very warmly to be welcomed. I said at the beginning of my speech that I believed it to be a new era. It would be wrong, however, not to acknowledge the immense contribution which has already been made through the Rhodes Scholarships, the Athlone Fellowships and the Colombo Plan and many other similar schemes which have pioneered Commonwealth education in the past. I hope that when the new design springing from the Oxford conference is in being its influence will spread far beyond education.
During past generations there has been a constant flow of men and women from this country seeking opportunities for service overseas where the prospects provide them with a life's career. The changing circumstances of the Commonwealth today are gradually reducing the number of these opportunities. On the other hand, the prospects which are open to people to go abroad for periods of two to five years to work or study in the Commonwealth are becoming increasingly abundant. But many of those who would be only too glad to take advantage of these opportunities are perhaps deterred from doing so by the fear that absence from this country at perhaps a critical time in their careers will be damaging to their future prospects when they return home.
I am convinced that we must, somehow or other, change this. In future, a period of service or study in the Commonwealth must be regarded not as a possible handicap, but as an essential qualification for a successful career in the professions, in industry and technology here in the United Kingdom.
This involves some change in the attitude of mind of public authorities and employers generally throughout the country. I believe that this scholarship and fellowship plan, together with proposals for teacher-training and teacher provision, will go some way to bring about this change of mind. That is why I say that I think that this marks a new era and one which can have immense consequences throughout the whole field 382 of the Commonwealth co-operation of tomorrow. It is for this reason, and because of the intrinsic value of the Commonwealth scholarship and fellowship plan to the Commonwealth as a whole, that I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)
On this side of the House we share fully the pleasure which the Minister of State has expressed in the success of the Commonwealth Education Conference. I was glad to hear from him today that not only is the particular piece with which we shall be concerned for the next hour or two going ahead but that the other parts of the plan set out by the Commonwealth Education Conference are also going ahead according to intention.
The timetable has really been quite remarkable. The Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference made recommendations for developments on educational lines in September, 1958. The Commonwealth Education Conference met at Oxford in July, 1959, and now we have the Bill introduced in November, 1959, and we are told, and we are glad to hear it, that it is hoped that the first Commonwealth scholars will take their places in the various universities and colleges in the autumn of 1960.
It is a very remarkable achievement for what, after all, is an international agreement to discussions to which large numbers of different Governments had to send delegates and in which various points of view in discussion had to be reconciled and fitted together. It proves that in the Commonwealth we can understand one another easily, and that when we agree we can act quickly. We must all rejoice in this and give credit to all the Commonwealth Governments, not excluding Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom on this occasion.
The Oxford conference was a fully representative conference from all Commonwealth countries, though for reasons which I am sure we all regret the nature of the representation from some of the Colonial Territories was not as fully representative perhaps as it was from the self-governing territories.
We have to deal today only with our own United Kingdom contribution. It 383 seems that the contribution recommended to us—that we should provide 500 of these places out of a total of about 1,000—is just about right. It would be wrong if we were to be too niggardly and if we were not to make a generous gesture. Equally, it would be wrong if we suggested in our Commonwealth plans that the great majority of students should come to study in this country. It is very important, and I am glad that the Minister underlined it, to realise that study by United Kingdom scholars in other parts of the Commonwealth is every bit as valuable as study by scholars from the overseas parts of the Commonwealth in this country.
The purpose set out in paragraph 12 of the Report of the Commonwealth Education Conference admirably sums up what we have in mind. It says of the plan thatIt will enrich each country of the Commonwealth by enabling an increasing number of its abler citizens to share the wide range of educational resources available throughout the Commonwealth and thus promote equality of educational opportunity at the highest level.I am sure that we can learn as much from them as they can learn from us, and I am glad to think that the acceptances already made by fully self-governing and some not quite fully self-governing constituents of the Commonwealth will make it possible for this exchange of students to spread all the way from British Columbia in the West to Malaya in the East.
We are really setting out to girdle the globe with this new plan. That may sound a little like painting the map red, but the purpose here is not conquest or subjection. It is not merely furtherance of trade. We aim not at the exchange of goods but the exchange of ideas, not at the exploration of territories in order to found an Empire but at the exploration of ideas to free the human spirit.
It is because the plan has this broad vision that we on this side of the House particularly welcome it and I am glad that the Minister of State said what he did about the essential requirement in future of scholarship in this country that our scholars should have and take regularly the opportunity of studying in Australia, New Zealand, Malaya, in the University College of the West Indies, in 384 Ibadan, or wherever it may be in the Commonwealth.
They can and will enrich their experience by going to these places. It would be fatal if the old narrow viewpoint which used to prevail when I began university teaching, was to continue, namely, that if one went overseas one would never be able to get back again. I hope that what we do today will put an end to that feeling in the universities, if it exists. I hope that young men will feel that by going to these colleges and studying for a time overseas they will not only not limit opportunities to come back eventually to this country, but will widen and improve their opportunities of so doing.
I am glad that the report of the Oxford conference says that, in the main, the awards should be for a period of postgraduate study or research. It does not make this exclusive, but it emphasises what I think is very important—that the newer universities and university colleges, like that of the West Indies, which I happened to visit only a few months ago, should have the opportunity of training in their own institutions their own men and women in the early stages of their education, so that they can build up their sense of nationhood in their own territories and that their young people can have a full opportunity of university education of the highest quality while they are still comparatively immature and then, strengthened by that experience, and fortified by a good education in their own areas, will be able to go abroad when they are more mature and gain full advantage from overseas education.
Speaking from personal experience, I am sure that this will be more valuable to them than going abroad straight from their secondary education, when they are still comparatively immature, when the difficulties of adjustment to a different environment are so great for young people, when they feel nervous and shy and not quite at ease with other people. At that time let them have three years in their own university colleges and then come here on the fellowships, from which I am sure they will benefit greatly.
I am glad, too, that the opportunity is to be given for a limited number of awards to senior scholars of established 385 reputation and achievement. It will be valuable to have spread about our country more senior scholars like those who have frequently visited and taught in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I am thinking particularly of Dr. Radakrishnan, the Vice-President of India, who occupied a post at Oxford for many years. It will be a great thing if we can give an opportunity for a few more eminent scholars, not necessarily as eminent as he is, to come and study and teach and meet students in other universities of our country.
Paragraph 8 of the report of the Commonwealth Education Conference states:The main emphasis will be on awards in the academic field but we do not exclude the possibility of some awards to other persons who play important roles in the life of their community.That is also a valuable provision, because, clearly, there are people in many of the territories of the Commonwealth, which hon. Members on both sides of the House know very well, who have never had the opportunity of higher education and yet who have revealed in their conduct, their character, their activities in administration and politics in their own countries that they have the qualities of mind and ability which would have fitted them if that opportunity had been there. So let them, also, have an opportunity to share in the scheme to some extent.
I hope, too, that when the Commission makes its appointments it will have in mind some awards which will enable students to go to institutions that do not grant degrees. There are some people in early middle age for whom a university education is now impracticable for various reasons, but for whom it would be of great value, both to themselves and to us, to have the opportunity of coming here and studying in colleges such as Ruskin or Fircroft or the Loughborough Co-operative College and others not of university standing, but which are giving a similar education to men of mature age. These have rendered great service in our country and they are now rendering great service in the underdeveloped parts of the Commonwealth.
All the colleges I have mentioned have overseas students. Not long ago I was at Loughborough, where I met 30 or 40 students from overseas countries. They 386 were excellent men and women, studying seriously and sensibly an important subject, and able to engage with me in a most dispassionate, detailed, reasonable discussion of the political and economic problems of their territories. Although I know that some are here already, it may be that under this scheme we can find others. So I hope that an opportunity can be given now and again for additional students of that type to go to that kind of institution.
I am very glad indeed that we have a guarantee in this document that all we are to provide today will be additional to what we provide already. We provide a great deal, one way and another, to bring overseas students from all the territories of the Commonwealth to study in this country. At the same time, anyone who has had experience of recommending people for such awards must know that so far we have not had sufficient funds, and there are many cases where, although the British Council wished to recommend, or has recommended, a student for such an award because he was fully qualified to receive it and benefit from it and in his turn benefit others, it was unable to find the necessary funds.
I am, therefore, glad that what is now to be provided is a net addition, not in any way a subtraction. I take it that we can understand that in consequence of the passage of the Bill there will not be any reduction in the number of grants and scholarships now provided by colonial development and welfare funds or by the British Council or coming from any other public source in this country?
§ Mr. Marquand
We want to see Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders coming here and our students going there. We also want to see, as the conference rightly emphasised, special attention being given tothe needs of the economically less developed countries, where educational facilities and opportunities are at present less amply provided.There are places in the Commonwealth where undergraduate education is not easily available. There are the numerous colleges to which I have referred, such as Madan and Ghana, about which there is a report today of the excellent address 387 given by the Duke of Edinburgh to the students there. There is also the University College of the West Indies. Equally, however, there are remote territories in which there are able young men and women who, because distances are so great, because their territories are so little developed, have no chance to go even to institutions of that kind abroad.
So we should watch out particularly for territories where local opportunity does not exist, and, if necessary, make an exception to the general rule that these awards are for post-graduate education. I am thinking particularly of the High Commission Territories in Africa. I do not know for certain, and I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong, but I suppose that gifted young men and women from those territories hitherto have had the opportunity to study in the universities of South Africa, particularly in the Witwatersrand and Cape Town. Now, however, if we understand aright, the doors of Witwatersrand and Cape Town will be closed to them.
When I speak of gifted young men and women, I wish to emphasise women, because their opportunities in the underdeveloped countries are for various reasons of tradition, history and culture not as good, roughly speaking, as those of men. Therefore, we should pay particular attention to the nominations of women. These may not be numerous, but they should be considered with that extra sympathy to which their unfortunate situation often entitles them.
A few months ago some of us drew the attention of the Prime Minister of South Africa, in a letter, to our feelings about the proposals contained in the Extension of University Education Bill which recently received a Third Reading in the South African House of Assembly. The letter read as follows:The signatories of this letter, Members of both Houses of Parliament in the United Kingdom, all of whom have held teaching or responsible posts in universities, have read with deep regret of the proposals contained in the Extension of University Education Bill which recently received a third reading in the South African House of Assembly. We understand that this Bill proposes to establish in the Union separate institutions of higher education for Africans, for Asians and for 'coloured' persons and that it would forbid the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand to admit students from these groups.388Such a proposal strikes at the very root of the conception that a university is universal in its membership, opening its doors to all men and women able to reach high academic standards and, prepared to devote themselves to the pursuit of truth and learning unhampered by fear or prejudice. We earnestly hope that your Government will, after reflection, decide not to proceed further with this Measure.
Some of us on this side of the House signed that letter, but I do not want to quote our names. I should like to remind the House that among the signatories were Lord Birkett, Lord McNair and Lord Halifax himself, who was subsequently chairman of the Commonwealth Education Conference. These are views held with unanimity or almost complete unanimity in this House and in the other place.
I regret very deeply that the only answer we got to this courteously phrased letter, asking the Prime Minister if he would reconsider the Bill, was a brief letter which said that this is an internal matter for the Government of South Africa. We all knew that perfectly well when we sent this letter to him. Every signatory to this letter was well experienced in university affairs and in Government and politics. We knew perfectly well that it was an internal matter for the Union of South Africa. We regret that the response was not a little more understanding.
Ten of the eleven fully self-governing Commonwealth countries which participated in the Education Conference have indicated their intention to participate in this plan, but South Africa has not done so. The hon. Gentleman will interrupt me if there is any news about this, but I do not think that there is, judging from his own speech. I want only to say that, despite everything, we hope that South Africa may still be willing to consider joining the plan so long as she understands that it would be quite contrary to the spirit of the whole plan if there were to be within it any discrimination whatsoever on grounds of race or colour.
I know well that there are men and women in Stellenbosch and Pretoria, just as much as in Cape Town and Witwatersrand, who hold the opinion which I have just expressed. They believe, as we do, in that ideal of the universality of university education and they would be prepared, I think, to 389 endorse what I have said this afternoon. I still hope that the expression of that ideal may be heard by them and that South Africa may accede on the basis that I have described.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. C. M. Woodhouse (Oxford)
I am very glad that my first opportunity to address the House should be on a subject which, I am sure, from what we have already heard, is largely uncontroversial. That will make it easier for the House to extend to me its customary indulgence if, by any mischance, I should make the subject controversial.
It is also a subject on which it is appropriate that the Member for Oxford should speak, since, as we have already been reminded, the conference which gave rise to the Bill took place in my constituency and the preamble of the report of the conference makes it clear that it took place in Oxford, England—an interesting pointer to the changing way of life in which we live.
The Commonwealth Education Conference covered a great deal more ground than the subject of the Bill. I will return to that in a moment. I do not think that I need say more now than to express appreciation of the fact that this very important conference took place in so appropriate a city and university as Oxford, that great home of causes of the future, and a city that has long enjoyed very intimate connections with the Commonwealth.
The countries of the Commonwealth, and especially the new countries of the Commonwealth, are insatiable consumers of the two most important export products that come from my city—educaton and engineering goods. When the Bill is passed into law, as I am certain it will be, I have no doubt that both our imports and exports will substantially increase. We shall import still more Commonwealth students, because I think that I can say, without presumption, that it is probable that a certain number of them will express preference to come to Oxford if allowed a choice—and very welcome they will be.
If the report of the conference is right—as I am sure it is—in saying thatthe improvement of education in itself encourages economic growth",390 then we shall certainly, in the long run, increase our exports, too, a prospect to which my constituents in Cowley are already looking forward with confidence.
The Bill is one of those fortunate Measures which ought to make everyone happy, because we are all in favour of the Commonwealth and of education. Whatever else may be controversial, we surely all agree that one of the most vital and enduring links of the Commonwealth is the educational system which we have helped to create in it, together with the English language on which it is based and the common habit of thought which flows from it.
It is not only that English is the common language of practically all the educated classes throughout the Commonwealth, but, also, that it is used as a medium to express and exchange common ideas. "Speaking the same language" is a very expressive metaphor which means much more than that we all talk English. In the Commonwealth we speak the same language, even if we use it sometimes to disagree with each other, in a way that we do not even with other English-speaking peoples in the world
At Commonwealth conferences, which I have more than once had the privilege to attend, when we hear a speaker quoting Shakespeare, or Sherlock Holmes, we are at least as likely to find that he is an African, an Asian, or a West Indian as that he is an Englishman. It is no surprise to see him wearing a tie identifying him with one of the universities of this country or some other British learned institution, such as the Imperial Defence College or the Inns of Court.
This sense of speaking a common language to which all the societies of the Commonwealth contribute, and will increasingly contribute in the future, and in which English is still the essential and natural vehicle, finds its expression at the summit in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conferences which it would be unthinkable they should ever have to conduct through interpreters. It is an impressive fact today that the Prime Ministers of almost all the newer Commonwealth countries enjoyed at least part of their education at universities or colleges in this country and I take it to be at least part of the purpose of this Bill that that fact should remain a fact. Even more impressive is the fact 391 that English is still the common language between each of them—Asians, Africans and West Indians—in talking to each other and communicating with their own educated classes, even when an Englishman is not around.
At the beginning of this year, when Dr. Nkrumah and Mr. Nehru met in Delhi, the only common language which they—the Asian and the African—had in which to communicate with each other—and, presumably, in which to grumble about the British Government—was English, and this was so, at least in part, because they had both spent a part of their period of education in this country.
There is cause for pride and satisfaction in these things, but there is, I think, no cause for complacency. It cannot be taken for granted that the English language will continue to enjoy a secure and unchallenged status throughout the vast multi-racial Commonwealth which is coming into being today.
The report of the Commonwealth Education Conference rightly says that it is true that English is the medium of instruction in higher education in most, if not all, of the Commonwealth countries, but it is not the language of instruction for primary education. Primary education has to be done in the vernacular, which means hundreds of different vernaculars, and the vast majority of our fellow-citizens in this great Commonwealth never get anything more than a primary education. The number of its people who communicate in English is a very small minority, and perhaps a dwindling minority.
In several of the newer Commonwealth countries—I have in mind particularly India, Pakistan and Malaya—there are today quite strong nationalist movements which fight to deprive English of its status as an official language. I doubt whether those efforts will be completely successful, because today English is, after all, not merely the language of this country or even that of the Commonwealth, but an international language, and it is the language of science, technology and commerce. However, those movements may succeed in relegating English to the status of no more than a widely spoken second language, as it is today in many European countries.
392 There are other countries of the Commonwealth today in which English is not even predominant as the language of higher education, and I think that it is not a coincidence that in some cases these are countries with which we have had difficult political relations in the recent past. Cyprus is a sad case in point. In Cyprus, we never succeeded in establishing higher education at all, and we never succeeded in establishing English as the common language between the different communities. In fact, Cyprus might well be taken as an object lesson in the consequences of not having had a Commonwealth Education Conference and not having promoted a Bill of this kind a generation or two ago.
Even in some of the older member States of the Commonwealth English has to compete today with other European languages, even in higher education, such as with French in Canada and with Afrikaans in South Africa, and in the latter case it looks as if English may even now be slowly but steadily losing the competition. The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) has drawn attention to the fact that the Union of South Africa is the only one of the fully independent members of the Commonwealth which has not committed itself so far to the quota under the new scholarship and fellowship plan. I hope that we may eventually have an assurance that this is purely a coincidence and not a coincidence with any unwelcome significance.
In any case, I do not think that we have any grounds for complacency about English as the language of higher education throughout the Commonwealth in the future. The Oxford conference was, therefore, right to recommend measures to reinforce the standing of English, and the Bill, which, of course, is basically concerned with education in the English language, has come none too soon to serve that purpose. It is an excellent Bill, which deserves the wholehearted support of the House, and if I pass a few detailed comments on some of its provisions and some of the paragraphs in the White Paper which supports it, I hope that it will be understood that my intention is to be constructive and not captious.
I welcome, in the first place, as other hon. Members have done, the intention 393 set out in the Title, to provide for two levels of appointment—scholarships at the immediately post-graduate level, and also what are called fellowships at a more advanced level for more established scholars. I am sure that these latter fellowships will be found to meet a large, unsatisfied demand. On the contrary, I should be inclined to say from experience that it is often difficult to find people of the quality that one has in mind to fill the gaps which are available for them at the time when one has those gaps, since in these revived times of the wandering scholar it is not in the least difficult nowadays for an academically established reputation to find the means to move around from one country to another, and some of them, indeed, hardly visit their own universities at all.
This is so because of the generous funds which are already provided from private sources, such as the Nuffield Foundation in this country and numerous American foundations in the United States, but since so much of this process of interchange, even within the Commonwealth, is financed today by American charitable funds, grateful though we should be for them, I think that one would welcome any reinforcement of them from British sources for purposes within the Commonwealth.
Secondly, I welcome the provision that careful arrangements should be made for the reception, welfare and residence of students coming into this country. Nothing is more important than the atmosphere, and especially the early impressions, into which a student from overseas finds himself plunged when he first arrives here. We all know—we all constantly say—that we are engaged today in a struggle for men's minds, and a struggle, in particular, for the minds of Ole uncommitted peoples, many hundreds of millions of whom are our fellow-citizens in the Commonwealth. This struggle for men's minds will not be won in such places as the Battle of Waterloo is said, rather oddly, in my view, to have been won. It will be won or lost in the boarding houses of Bloomsbury, Birmingham and other university towns.
I know that the Association of Universities of the Commonwealth and the British Council are very well aware of 394 this problem, and I should like to pay tribute to the sympathetic attention which they give to it. I hope that the financial provisions of the Bill will enable that attention to be not merely sympathetic, but generous. In this context, I wonder whether the expenditure of an overall sum which works out at only £1,000 per head per annum will be sufficient to do the job we have in mind.
Another provision which I welcome is that it will rest with the receiving countries to make arrangements for placing scholars and fellows in appropriate institutions of learning in this country, though, of course, expressions of preference will be taken into account. I suspect that this Clause will need rather firm interpretation and application, not least in our own country.
We heard a few weeks ago, in the debate on the Marshall Scholarships Bill, that the vast majority of the American students coming under the Marshall scholarships plan to this country expressed a preference for one of three universities—Oxford, Cambridge and London—and in most cases their wishes were met. I have the honour and good fortune to have been associated with all three of those universities, but I also have the privilege to be associated with one of the provincial universities which has not yet seen a single Marshall scholar cross its threshold. The same thing could very easily happen with the present Commonwealth scholarships scheme, and I am sure that that is wrong.
It is wrong for the universities which are excluded, it is wrong for those which get an excessively large quota of overseas students, and it is wrong even for the students themselves, for instead of seeing a wide variety of aspects of British life, they will carry back with them much the same experience. It is a very fine experience, and I should, of course, be the last to deprecate their reasons for putting Oxford at the top of the list, but I know that Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Reading Universities have plenty to offer them as well. Nor can it seriously be argued that, at the level of the postgraduate studies that most of these students will be undertaking, it really makes a great deal of difference under which professor they serve, or at which university.
395 In the debate on the Marshall scholarships, some hon. Members expressed surprise, I remember, at the classical student going to Glasgow instead of to Oxford. I happen to have the best of reasons for knowing that Glasgow University has a formidable classical faculty, because in my day at Oxford at least half of the classical prizes every year were won by invading Scots with classical degrees—greatly to my annoyance.
Broadly speaking, those students who will come to this country under the present plan can get what they want and need at practically any university here, and if exceptions are needed at the more senior level they can easily be made. Nor is it good for Oxford, Cambridge and London to have an excessive concentration of overseas students whilst other universities go short. After all, What students come here for is to share in the life of a predominently British community, not one in which we natives are in danger of being swamped by a cosmopolitan majority. But as, undoubtedly, students will continue, very understandably, to put Oxford at the top of the list, a proper distribution can be achieved only by the exercise of a proper degree of firm direction. I am glad that the Bill confers that power, and I hope that it will be exercised.
Another provision I welcome is that by which married scholars and fellows will be able to be accompanied by their wives at the expense of the scheme—although that makes me wonder even more how it will be done on £1,000 a year. This will widen the experience of both the transmitting and the receiving countries.
I must say, however, that I do not like the apparent discrimination here between the younger scholars and the more senior fellows. It appears from the White Paper that, although the scholars may only have their wives paid for, fellows may have their children paid for, also. By definition, scholars are younger than fellows, and their children, therefore, are likely to be smaller than those of the fellows. Since the fellows are subject to no age limit, their children may well be grown up, or at least past needing baby sitters.
It seems a rather harsh discrimination that young scholars may have to leave their children behind and to organise 396 baby sitters for them for up to two years or more, whilst the fellows may be granted something for which their need is likely to be relatively less. Families would add much to the experience to be gained under this scheme, and not so very much to the cost, since, as other hon. Members besides myself may have learned by experience, families come cheaper by the half-dozen. It would be a good thing for the Commonwealth that the scholars should be encouraged to bring their children with them, and I hope that this provision may be looked at again.
Another provision to which I would like to add a qualification is what the White Paper calls the obligation to return home. There is an important distinction to be made here. We must face the fact, without false modesty, that this country, and, in particular, our academic institutions, is a uniquely powerful magnet for students from all over the Commonwealth, not to say from all over the world. Many of them come here to finish their studies and then wish to settle here rather than to take their qualifications and skills back to the land of their birth. Those, newly-developed countries are liable to be drained of some of their best talent. In these cases, it seems perfectly right to make a condition of selection that they should return home at least for a specified number of years.
I suggest, however, that the same does not apply in the reverse direction. If students from this country go to Nigeria, Malaya, or the West Indies to complete their studies and wish to stay on to work in the country in which they have taken their post-graduate course, the deprivation suffered by this country will not be commensurate with the gain to the receiving country, and they should not be discouraged from doing so, but warmly encouraged to do so. That, after all, is how the British Empire and Commonwealth came into existence, and it was also the declared object of another section of the report of the Commonwealth Education Conference to encourage teachers, in particular, to serve in Commonwealth countries other than their own. I therefore hope that this rather indiscriminate obligation to return home may also be looked at again.
That leads me to my last point, which concerns the principle of the Bill as a 397 whole. It seems to me that there is a danger that, while dealing satisfactorily with the easier part of the task that was set before the Commonwealth Education Conference in July, it may allow the more difficult part to go by default. In this context of the scholarship and fellowship plan, the task was to establish a scheme covering 1,000 persons based on a pooling of the resources of the Commonwealth as a whole. The White Paper stresses the fact thatEach has something to learn from the others; each has something to give;and that the aim is the… development of a multilateral trade in ideas.
It is the word "multilateral" on which I should like to dwell for a moment, because it does not seem to me accurately to describe the present plan as set out in the Bill. Whether we like it or not, one fact about the Commonwealth is that this country is still, in an important sense, its centre. I need only point out that of the Commonwealth capitals London is the only one that has a Commonwealth Relations Office, and that it is in London that such Commonwealth bodies as the Association of Universities naturally find their seat. Most Commonwealth citizens overseas who are conscious of the Commonwealth link at all—and let us not flatter ourselves; it is only a minority that is conscious of it—think of the Commonwealth primarily as a relationship between their own country, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom, on the other.
The Commonwealth is still largely a system of bilateral relations between this country and the other individual members of the Commonwealth. It is not a complex of multilateral relations between us all. There are exceptions, of course—the relations between Canada and the West Indies, or between Australia and New Zealand, for obvious geographical reasons, or between India and Canada, for reasons of recent history. Generally speaking, however, the diagonal relations between the other member countries of the Commonwealth are either very slight or non-existent—or, unfortunately, downright bad, as they are between India and Pakistan, or between the Union of South Africa, on the one hand, and the Asian 398 and African members of the Commonwealth, on the other.
I take it that we should all like to see this situation remedied, and I also take it that this was one of the long-term objects of the Commonwealth Education Conference itself, but it will not be the effect of the present Bill. This Measure is expressly concerned with the United Kingdom share of the plan. It deals only with students coming from the different Commonwealth countries in this country and with students going out from this country to other Commonwealth countries.
The Bill does not deal at all with the diagonal exchanges between the other Commonwealth countries themselves. These are to be left to what the report of the Commonwealth Education Conference calls… a series of bilateral arrangements to allow for the necessary flexibility.Unfortunately, the word "flexibility" is often a euphemism for doing nothing at all, and I fear that in this case there would be no great natural flow of students from the West Indies to New Zealand, or from Canada to Malaya, of from Ceylon to Ghana, and vice versa, unless something more definite is done to promote it.
This is not because the opportunities do not exist in other universities in the Commonwealth, but because students in the Commonwealth are, generally, not aware of them unless the opportunities are deliberately and expressly brought to their attention. For every one Commonwealth student who has heard of Achimota, or the University College of the West Indies, a dozen will have heard of Oxford, and Oxford is still where they will want to go unless there is some machinery for distributing them on a more multilateral basis.
The Commonwealth Education Conference proposed what I took to be referred to by my right hon. Friend as the Commonwealth education liaison committee, which it described as some additional machinery of an intra-Commonwealth character to assist, as required, bilateral contacts between agencies appointed by Governments—that is, by each Commonwealth Government—within their own countries. It went on expressly to exclude the scholarship and fellowship plan from 399 that machinery. It did so on the ground that the scholarship and fellowship plan was to have a special arrangement of its own.
It turns out, on examination, that the function of the special arrangement exclusive to the scholarship and fellowship plan will only be for recording information about awards made under the plan and the preparation of an annual statement of progress. As I understand it, it has no function of initiation, or direction, or even of giving advice.
There is a gap there which will be felt in practice. If there is to be a multilateral system of exchange and not merely a collection of bilateral exchanges between this country and the rest of the Commonwealth, some degree of co-ordination is needed on a central basis for the whole Commonwealth. If the initiative to create it does not come from this country. I fear that it will not come about at all.
I hope that I shall not be thought to be speaking from the wrong side of the House if I say again that what is needed is a reasonable and fair measure—perhaps I should say a conservative measure—of central direction and planning.
With those few suggestions and reservations I wholeheartedly support the Bill, which, I am sure, will commend itself to the House.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
It is a very great privilege to congratulate the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) on what I think we all agree was a remarkable speech. It was a speech with knowledge, and fluency, and it was also entertaining. It is very rarely that we hear a speech of that excellence delivered the first time an hon. Member speaks, or, indeed, at any time by many of us here. We were all glad to hear the hon. Member. He said that he was glad to be speaking in a non-controversial debate. We will be interested to hear him speak when he gets onto something controversial. I have no doubt that he will entertain us equally well.
I would like to refer to one or two remarks made by the hon. Gentleman. He referred to the question of which 400 university somebody coming from the Commonwealth should go to. That is a point which exercises the minds of many of us. I feel privileged at having been what I might perhaps call a constituent of the hon. Gentleman's for three years of my life. If I am not strictly correct in saying that I was a constituent, I was at any rate a visitor to what is now his constituency, and I know that many people from the Commonwealth want to go either there or to Cambridge.
I had an interesting case of a young Pakistani who wanted to go to Cambridge. He could not get there or to Oxford, so instead of going to one of the other universities in England he decided to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There are many people like that, who have heard of Oxford and Cambridge, and possibly Edinburgh, but very few other universities. They do not realise the excellent standards of education which they can receive in other universities. I hope that something can be done to emphasise that fact.
At the same time, I hope that something can be done, and it will have to be done if the scheme proposed in the Bill is brought in, to increase the total number of places in all our universities. If that is not done there will not be enough places to house all these people, and we all hope that this is the beginning of a much bigger scheme.
One can study various subjects in our universities, but I was surprised by the case I heard of the other day. A young lady from America was studying at Edinburgh University. Strange to relate, she was studying American history. It struck me as very odd that she had come all the way from America to Edinburgh to study American history, but that is what she had done.
Before referring to some of the points in the Bill, I would like, as the Minister did, to refer to the whole scheme which has been devised, which includes teacher training. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned that, because it enables me to say how much I hope that the scheme will succeed. I want to add a word for a class of teachers which, I hope, will get its share of vacancies. I am referring to the teachers of the handicapped, in particular, the blind and the deaf. I hope that something will be done to see that those teachers get their 401 share of places, and that the vacancies will not be given only to scientists and technicians. The teachers to whom I have just referred must have facilities for learning how to deal with these pupils who present very great difficulties.
Having said that, I welcome the Bill and am delighted that for once we can have a bipartisan debate, if debate it can be called under the circumstances.
There is one danger which the Commonwealth faces today. It is not the danger that comes from outside, from the Communists, or from the Soviet Union. It is that the whole Commonwealth idea can be smothered in a lot of hot air. So much hot air is talked about it that it is good to see a down-to-earth practical proposal for bringing about something in the Commonwealth which did not exist before, and something which makes the Commonwealth links closer than they were before.
I am glad that this is to be a system of mutual aid. If I may say so without being controversial, or, at any rate, not more controversial than the hon. Member for Oxford, the scheme is an example of Socialism, because we say, "From each according to his ability, and to each according to his needs." I gather that that is the principle which is being carried out in the Bill.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), I am interested not so much in what we give as in what we receive. I hope that many of our students will avail themselves of the opportunity of going to Commonwealth countries, not only to Canada, Australia or New Zealand, but to India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Ghana. I hope that there will be a two-way traffic so that our students can go to universities in those countries and study there in the same way as people are coming to our universities.
I would like to ask the Minister one or two questions. I do so in no spirit of antagonism, but because I do not understand the position. My questions are about colonial students. I am sorry to see that there is not a representative of the Colonial Office here. I should have thought that there would have been, but as there is not I will address my questions to the right hon. Gentleman.
402 I understand that we in this country will be responsible for colonial students and that the Commission will both nominate colonial students and select them for United Kingdom awards. I may be wrong, but that is what it looks like to me. At the same time, it will also select both colonial as well as United Kingdom candidates for awards by Commonwealth Governments. I do not know whether that is so. Nor do I know whether the quota of students that we can take here or recommended for scholarship in other Commonwealth countries will include those from the Colonies. It is important to get those facts clear.
I would like the hon. Gentleman to say something more about supervision. I agree with the hon. Member for Oxford about the problem of students who come to this country and find that although they get a good education they get nothing else besides. They sit in lodging houses beside gas fires and wonder whether they have come all the way here to lead that kind of life. There are many good lodging house keepers, and many good places where these students can live, but it is important to see that the standards of accommodation are as high as the standards of education that they will receive. If we do not do that the scheme will prove a failure.
Again, I do not understand the principle of selection. I realise that it will have to be done by the Commission and not the Government, but upon what principle are candidates to be selected? Is it purely on merit, or will the chosen subjects influence the decision? Perhaps I can take an extreme case. If it is done on merit there may be 99 scientists and one historian selected. How will it be done? It is difficult to judge between a candidate who wants to take science and one who wants to take history. We ought to have some more information about this matter, or we shall not have a clear understanding of what is involved in the work of the Commission.
I pay tribute to all those who have helped to build up this scheme, including members of the Government. It is not often that we have the privilege of paying tribute to members of the Government, but in this case they have done their job well. I cannot imagine that 403 they would do many other jobs as well, but at any rate they have done this one well, and that is something upon which we can all congratulate them.
The scheme is imaginative and practical. It will do more for the Commonwealth than all the speeches of most of the great statesmen, from day to day and year to year. It is an example of what the Commonwealth can do—an example which no other country or group of nations has been able to do. While we watch the French having their difficulties in North Africa and the Belgians and other people having similar difficulties, it is good to see emerging, in the Commonwealth, a bright picture of countries who are now entirely free agreeing among themselves to co-operate for their own mutual advantage.
In that spirit we can all welcome the Bill and hope that the Minister, or his successor—and not too many years from now—will ask the House for more money for more scholarships. When he does so, I am certain that he will get what he wants.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd (Sutton Coldfield)
I rise for a few moments not only to support the Bill but to express my enthusiasm for it. First, I would join with the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). It is most appropriate that he, as Member for Oxford, should make such a speech, which was at once so scholarly and so effective.
I thought my hon. Friend did extremely well to dwell upon the important question of sustaining a proper knowledge of English in the Commonwealth. When I was in India, recently, I saw the difficulties that can arise upon this question—although, as he said, powerful forces are still working on our side—because when I was in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament I heard the Speaker rebuke members for speaking too much Hindi and interfering with the comprehension of other members.
My hon. Friend was very right to stress the importance of properly looking after Commonwealth students in this country. I know that a great deal is being done, but we should raise our 404 voices to encourage everybody to do more about this vitally important question, which may affect the whole outlook, in their later lives, of men who spend some time here before going home.
I should like to pinpoint the course of events leading up to the present situation. It will be remembered that it was Canada who first made an effort in this direction, at the Commonwealth Economic Conference. We were very fortunate in that, at that Conference, my right hon. Friend the then President of the Board of Trade, who is now Minister of Education, was present. My right hon. Friend had already previously held the office of Minister of Education, and because of his knowledge of the subject and his keenness for the development of education he was able to appreciate at once the crucial importance of Canada's suggestion. He was instrumental in making the matter one of the main issues at the Conference. So it came about that the Canadian suggestion was matched by a generous United Kingdom offer.
So we had the Commonwealth Education Conference, which was created primarily to develop the practical application of the scholarship scheme, but is also—because of my right hon. Friend's intervention—to review the whole question of Commonwealth education. At this conference, a very interesting thing happened. It was the younger Commonwealth countries which made the running. The line they took was that, although they welcomed the scholarship scheme, they wanted something else as well. They said that the scholarship scheme dealt with the apex of the educational system, but they were also vitally concerned with the foundations, that is, the schools below the levels of the universities and colleges of advanced technology. Thus it comes about that today we are considering not merely a scholarship scheme but a scheme which plans for the development of a whole range of educational work, right from primary schools to universities and colleges of advanced technology.
One very interesting point about the project is that so far it has gathered momentum at every stage of its development, from the very beginning. That is why I regard this debate as so important. It is most important that we should 405 not merely pass the Bill but do so with enthusiasm, and let the Government and other Commonwealth countries know that the House of Commons wants to give a vigorous push forward to this fine project. If we pass the Bill we pass the ball back to the Government.
I would make one or two small practical suggestions I am glad that there will be a liaison committee to watch the development of the plan on a Commonwealth basis, but we shall have to strengthen our own administrative arrangements at home in order to help the scheme forward. The education departments of the Colonial Office and of the Commonwealth Relations Office will have to be enlarged and strengthened, and work in close liaison with the Ministry of Education.
Then there is the question of educational attachés. The House may not know that our only educational attaché in a mission overseas is in the United States. When I was there on an educational tour earlier this year, I realised the profound importance of this post. American educationists were able to get at once information about the work being done here in a way which would never have been possible unless there had been somebody there—in this case one of the ablest of the schools inspectors—who was fully competent to provide the information, or to obtain it from this country. We should consider appointing educational attachés to the offices of our High Commissioners, and especially those in the younger Commonwealth countries.
I am very glad to hear that there will be a follow-up conference in India in 1961. The last conference was a conference of professional educationists, and it has done marvellous work, but the next conference should consider very seriously bringing Ministers of Education into the picture. I appreciate the difficulties. In some countries, such as Canada, education is a provincial subject, but I think that we can get over that difficulty.
One of the reasons why it is important to do this brings me to my next point, which is also of great importance. We must seek to create an entirely new climate of opinion upon the whole question of Commonwealth education. There is always a danger that when any educational subject arises general public 406 opinion regards is at a matter for specialists. This is not a narrow professional subject; it is no exaggeration to say that it is a subject which goes to the heart of the problems of the free world in the future. It is significant that it did not grow out of the Commonwealth Educational Conference but out of an Imperial Economic Conference.
I do not know whether hon. Members heard the very interesting speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) in the debate on the Address, when he called for a master plan for the development of the free world and, among many other things, stressed the great importance of education although he is not an educationist. He pointed out that in fact a great deal of the financial assistance which we might make available in future may be wasted unless there are sufficient educated and trained people in the countries which we seek to help. We ought to note that other countries are moving fast in this matter.
When I was Minister of Education, I paid particular attention to what was going on in Russia. I will not weary the House with a great deal of detail, but I found one thing interesting. Some of our leaders of the colleges of advanced technology have made some adventurous trips in Russia, penetrating to the far Asian Republics of the Soviet Union, and I have heard interesting accounts of what they saw. In addition to accounts of the great development of education and of the great technical colleges, in far Russia as well as in the nearer regions of Russia, there was one thing that struck them very much. It was the tremendous amount of foreign language teaching incorporated into the curriculum of the technical colleges, the implication being that the Soviet Union is deliberately engaged in preparing for an amount of assistance going far outside its own borders.
On the other hand, when I was on an educational tour in the United States, I found at almost every university and college I visited that one group after another of the great American foundations was sending educational missions out to Africa. I know that we are in favour of our American Allies helping in this great work. But I know also that the House would wish to see that we match that, particularly in the Common- 407 wealth, by a worthy effort of our own. I do not seek, and I am sure that other hon. Members will not, to make the case for this effort simply on what other people are doing. We want to do this because it is right. This is a matter in which there is a real outlet in the future for the idealism of our people.
The House will agree that in the years since the war there has never been such buoyancy and vitality in British education as there is at present, following the great Education Act. This is an extraordinary opportunity, because just at the time when these Commonwealth countries need help from us so badly we are in a position to offer more help, and help of a higher quality, than we have ever been able to offer before, because our standards of education are so highly regarded in the world. Therefore, I conclude by saying that I think the House is showing in this debate what I believe it is very important that we should show, a willingness to give this Bill a really enthusiastic send-off. We should make a plea to the Press and to the great broadcasting organisations to give the prominence to the question of Commonwealth education which it really deserves and to help to promote the enthusiasm of our people in the future of this great enterprise.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
I find myself almost entirely in agreement with the points made by the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd). I can say the same about the points made in the most excellent maiden speech by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). It is rare that I find myself in such complete agreement with views expressed by hon. Members opposite.
I was particularly glad that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the initiative of Canada in this connection. He might even have said that the initiative came largely from the mind of one Canadian, the late Sidney Smith, who was President of the University of Toronto and then Minister for External Affairs. It is well that we should remember that, even in a major Commonwealth-embracing scheme like this, the initiative of one statesmanlike mind in the Commonwealth can still have its influence.
408 I join in the welcome which the Bill has received. It seems to me an extremely important Measure. It appears to represent a worthy effort on our part as a contribution to the combined Commonwealth effort in which we are engaged. It is particularly important that it should be initiated just now because of the interest in education in the newer members of the Commonwealth and in the Dependent Territories. It is difficult to over-estimate that interest. There appears to be an insatiable demand for education in the under-developed parts of the Commonwealth, if I may use that phrase. It is just as well that we are trying to do something about that at this time.
This demand is to be seen in the considerable increase which has taken place since the war in the numbers of Commonwealth students in this country in any case, under other schemes or under no scheme. It may be seen in the building up of the newer university institutions in the Commonwealth, which is likely to go on with increasing momentum. In future years, we may well find ourselves producing Bills to augment what we are doing now. I hope that we shall look on this Bill as the beginning of something rather than the completion.
We are breaking new ground with this Bill, because stress is laid on the co-operative nature of the effort which we are making. So far in the history of the Commonwealth there has been a tendency, which was more or less inevitable, for this country to do the planning, to work out the way ahead, to suggest means, and that kind of thing. But now we are deliberately saying that we will do our share but that other parts of the Commonwealth are perfectly able to do their share, which we shall welcome.
It seems to me important not only from the purely educational side but also from the point of view of the Commonwealth itself. In the last decade or two, we have seen the constitutional links binding the Commonwealth gradually weaken; indeed, most of them have disappeared. It is difficult to say what, constitutionally, holds the Commonwealth together. But here is something which is a link inside the Commonwealth. It is not constitutional, it cannot be described by the lawyers as the old links were, but it is a real and binding 409 factor in the Commonwealth. If we all co-operate and engage in tackling the problem in this way, we may find that we are building up links within the Commonwealth which will prove stronger than ever.
Our offer of 500 places is a generous one. I do not think we could have done very much more than that as a beginning. But having said that, I suggest that in relation to the need it is still a comparatively small offer. After all, the people who are co-operating in this Bill represent a quarter of the population of the world, 650 million or thereabouts, and we are offering 500 scholarships.
Against the existing number of Commonwealth students in this country, about 27,000, we are offering 500. In comparison with the Colombo Plan—I have not been able to verify my figures about this—I think we are welcoming, roughly, 300 students every year, whereas under this plan we are to welcome 200 to 250, dependent on the strictness with which the two-year length of course is applied. Whilst it is a noble, generous and worthy beginning, it is only a very small step forward compared with the huge problem.
Universities, although the bases of this, should not be necessarily the only element in it. The White Paper mentions colleges of advanced technology. I hope that they will have a representative on the Commission. I hope that industry and commerce will be brought very strongly into this, because much of what we can be doing as our share in the co-operative effort is training young men from other parts of the Commonwealth in industry and commerce. That cannot now be done simply in classrooms. I hope that it will be possible, for example, for young men and women to take part in sandwich courses and undergo periods of training in industry.
I do not like the statement in the White Paper that the average length of stay in this country will be 22 months, or two academic years. That means cutting out one summer vacation. A student under the plan who finds it possible to stay over an additional summer vacation and take training inside industry or commerce should be welcomed. The phrase "22 months" was not, I hope, used in any very strict sense.
410 I hope that the scheme to which the scholarships will be applied will be very wide and will, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) suggested, go beyond the confines of universities and even colleges of advanced technology. The Fulbright scheme already in existence covers an extremely wide range of institutions—musical, architectural and many others. I hope that the scope of this scheme will be as wide as that. I hope, also, that there will be an increasing emphasis on the importance of non-academics. As my right hon. Friend said, there are a great number of people who have not had the chance of an academic career who could benefit themselves and the Commonwealth very much by coming here to study under the scheme.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, the scheme emerges from an economic conference. It is as well that we should realise that education is an economic asset. In generations before the war we were inclined to think of it in purely cultural terms, but it has a very strong economic value, although that is not by any means its whole value In speaking of the economic side of the venture, we should stress economic interests rather more fully than the Government have so far in the Minister's statement and the White Paper been prepared to do.
I recall, rather vaguely, that a number of years ago Professor Arthur Lewis made a statement about the importance of trading in agriculture. I have not been able to trace his statement since. He talked about the importance of training three or four hundred million small farmers in modern methods of agriculture. Agriculture perhaps does not come as the first thought to people talking in the heart of London, in Birmingham or in Oxford, but it is still the major activity of a very large part of the world. We should consider how far we can go in assisting in agricultural education.
In this country we have a very definite and well understood, though diverse, system of university education. It is based on a fairly well accepted philosophy. One has a fair notion of what one expects a university to do, what its main interests should be, what it actually is and what sort of standards it should reach. But we have not got 411 that in technical education. We have been able to export our philosophy in university education. I hope that we will not insist that it is the only right philosophy, but we have exported that philosophy with great advantage. We have not had, and still do not have, a corresponding philosophy of technical education to export.
It is in this respect that we may most benefit from the experience of other parts of the Commonwealth in working out that sort of philosophy. In this part of education we are nearer the same starting line as countries like India, Ghana and even Canada. Canada is in the same boat as we are. She has strong and flourishing universities, but in technical education she has not the same strength of philosophy. It may well be that we should stress the desirability of building up a common experience and working out a common philosophy in the Commonwealth. The exporting of our own ideas of university education has from time to time been somewhat of a handicap, but we need not be handicapped by that in technical education.
There springs to my mind a very illuminating and relevant remark made a year or two ago by Mr. Walter Adams, who is now principal of the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Speaking about university education in the Dependencies he said then—I do not think that it is out of date now—that there was a great need for the same kind of survey of the needs of higher post-secondary education on the technical side as we have been carrying out through the Asquith Commission and similar succeeding Commissions on the university side. That is probably still true. I think that we might well co-operate in doing something of that sort as a basis for some of the work in this scheme.
I hope that the Minister will say a little more about our share in outward traffic. We are inclined to concentrate on what we can do for the people coming to this country, but some of our people will be going to other parts of the Commonwealth. How many? We offer 500 scholarships. Will we take 500 places elsewhere or will there be some multilateralism about it? Will the 500 places that we might possibly claim be taken in greater proportions by other parts of 412 the Commonwealth? Will we content ourselves with a smaller share of the outward movement than that?
I hope that we shall not only send people to the universities in the newer territories. I hope that we shall send some students to places like the Royal Technical College of Nairobi and the Nigerian College of Art, Science and Technology. I hope that the Minister who winds up will give us some additional information about the composition of our outgoing traffic in the plan.
I turn now to deal with one or two topics connected with the administration of the plan. As my right hon. Friend said, the 500 places we are offering in our universities will be additional to the existing places going to overseas students. What about our own students? The number of places in our universities at present is far too limited and we are already turning away properly qualified students.
The Scottish universities which have for centuries not turned away a properly qualified student are now, not only in science and medicine but also in arts subjects, refusing students who are properly qualified. In such a situation, can we be assured that there are going to be 500 additional places? Is there not some danger that it is going to mean that there will be the same number of places as there would have been but that 500 overseas students will fill those places instead of our own students? Even if that happens, I would still be in favour of the scheme, in spite of the Scottish tradition in finding university places for students who are capable of filling them.
I should be prepared to defend that situation in Scotland because I think it is enormously important, but I should like to know the Government's position in the matter. Are they really places which have got to be available apart from this scheme or will it mean a displacement of our own students? My anxiety on the point is deepened by an article by the Minister, Lord Home, in a recent issue of the Scotsman. The article pointed out that when foreign students come in they "squeeze out" our own students. Lord Home did not say that this would be avoided, or anything to that effect.
413 It looks to me, therefore, as if we shall find ourselves giving up places which our own people might well have occupied. That suggests two things to me. One is that we are not expanding our universities fast enough. The other is that, if we exclude some of our own domestic students, I hope that the Government are going to do a little explaining on this subject to the public. I hope the Government are not going to say that it is purely a matter of our universities and that they do not propose to explain to the country what is going to happen to the places and who are to be the people selected to fill them. I hope that the Government will make themselves responsible for giving some information to the public.
One other point I wish to make concerns the administration of the scheme. I hope that its administration is going to be constructive. It is quite remarkable how many schemes of this sort are now in existence. The senior of them all, of course, is the Rhodes Scholarship scheme. There are the Commonwealth Fund Scholarships, the Athlone Scholarships, the Marshall Scholarships, the Fulbright Scholarships and others.
The universities and the Colombo Plan are under the Treasury. The two Ministries concerned in this plan are those of Colonies and Commonwealth Relations. The colleges of advanced technology and a number of other institutions are under the Ministry of Education. One begins to wonder whether there is not a case for looking at the question of rationalising the whole matter. I say that particularly because a lot of the experience is common experience. In the first two or three years of this scheme a lot of teething troubles could be avoided by our looking at the experience of other schemes.
I was very glad that the hon. Member for Oxford raised the question of the wives and families of Commonwealth students. After all, the upper age of the preferred age group is 28. At 28 years of age a great number of people have young families. If the Minister will look at the experience of Fulbright students, he will find that when they come to this country with wives and children the children are very largely a key to obtaining some of the value of living in this country and in the university communities of this country. I hope that the Minister is 414 going to say that students will be provided with whatever expenditure is needed for their wives and families irrespective of whether they are senior scholars or at the first post-graduate stage.
These are some of the points that come to my mind when looking at this scheme, and if any of my observations seem critical I hope they will be taken against the background that my reaction to the scheme is very strongly one of approval. I hope the scheme will succeed and that the Government will continue to treat it with the same sense of urgency with which it seems to have been treated so far and that it will be something which will grow with the years.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)
There are two reasons why I am particularly pleased to follow the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson). The first is that I happened to read in a Canadian newspaper the other day a report of the result of our recent General Election. I am happy to be able to tell the hon. Gentleman that Canadians still take a kindly interest in his welfare as a result of his former association with their country.
The second reason is that the hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that some of the speakers who had been called earlier in the debate were not predominantly Members representing agricultural constituencies and, therefore, might not have the needs of agriculture in the forefront of their minds. I happen to come from an agricultural constituency and I have been waiting to raise this point about agriculture. I welcome the hon. Gentleman's co-operation in that matter. Agriculture seems to me to be one of the most important matters for the Commonwealth. If as a result of this scheme we are able to increase the amount of agricultural technical knowledge and experience, we may be able to make an important contribution to one of the greatest problems with which the Commonwealth is faced.
We can find an answer to the problem of hunger and related difficulties by increasing agricultural production and by spreading agricultural knowledge. Anything that the Bill does in that way will be a major contribution to the strength and prosperity of the Commonwealth.
415 I noticed that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) hoped that as a result of this Bill we should see students from this country going to Australia and New Zealand and their students coming here. That is exactly what other speakers have hoped and what I hope will be the result of the Bill.
I have in the back of my mind the way in which Rhodes scholars have made important contributions to the academic life of this country. The universities here would be much poorer if they had not the benefit of the valuable acquisition of talent from different parts of the Commonwealth as a result of these scholarships.
At the same time, when I look at the White Paper, I wonder whether, in fact, that is all we are to see. Clause 1 (1, c) states that the Commission shall be charged with the duty of—selecting persons to be put forward as candidates from the United Kingdom for awards arising out of the said Plan and to be granted in countries outside the United Kingdom.I would have hoped, therefore, that would mean people in this country would be selected to study at universities in different parts of the Commonwealth. When we look at the Report of the Commonwealth Education Conference, we find that it limits Commonwealth scholarships to a very small number of students. The students directly referred to are thoseat the undergraduate level only when university or comparable institutions are nonexistent in the sending country.If that is the way in which the scheme is to be administered, the number of people in this country who will be able to take advantage of courses in Australia and elsewhere will be very limited. Therefore, I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some information on this point. If that is what, in fact, it means, I hope that at some stage we shall be able to widen the scope of the plan to cover exactly the type of case which the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East and others seem to have in mind.
I will illustrate what I have in mind by referring, in particular, to certain problems which arise in Canada. There have been difficulties in the way of stu- 416 dents from this country going to study in Canadian universities, and they have been tackled, for very nearly thirty years now, by the Canadian British Education Committee, of which Mr. Hemming, who is well known on both sides of the Atlantic, is the chairman. That started by a party of sixteen headmasters, with Sir Cyril Norwood as chairman, visiting Canada to find out how it might be possible to arrange for more students from this country to go to Canadian universities.
I will not set out all the difficulties. I had, however, hoped that, as a result of the Bill, it might have been possible for us to overcome at least some of them. The first is that there are very few scholarships available to people in this country who would like to study in a Canadian university. There are a few provided by one or two institutions and a group of private individuals. The Goldsmiths Company has a scheme, and the Drapers Company has something in mind. The Beaverbrook Foundation makes awards of this nature and there is also a small body of private individuals, less than a dozen, who have put up private funds to finance this type of operation.
In this country, out of the 23,367 people we had at universities in the year 1958–59, 84 per cent. were receiving scholarships. Therefore, there is not an incentive for all those in the 84 per cent. to go and find a place in a Canadian university where there is no scholarship available for them. This means that the people who are interested in going to a Canadian university are limited, perhaps, to the remaining 16 per cent. who are unfortunate in not receiving a scholarship at home and, also, to those who happen to have parents in a sufficiently strong financial position to be able to pay the fare to Canada and cover the cost of education there.
That is a type of problem which I hoped would have been dealt with by the Bill. I hope at some stage, if the plan is not at present wide enough, we shall arrange for just what the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East wanted and what, I am sure, a great many right hon. and hon. Members would like to see, namely, British students at undergraduate level being able to go and take courses in Canada, Australia, New 417 Zealand and elsewhere. If that is not what we are debating today, then I hope that it will be something which we shall debate in the very near future.
The other difficulty in having students go from this country to universities in Canada has been a financial one. Dollars were not readily available for the purpose. Negotiations took place, and the Treasury made dollars available and increased the amounts on three different occasions. Now, of course, that problem has gone.
In paragraph 6 of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Cmnd. 894, it is said that the Commission will have the opportunity, in certain circumstances, of makingthe grant of allowances to supplement awards offered to United Kingdom citizens by other countries of the Commonwealth.In Canada, as I have already said, this would not apply because there are virtually no awards. There again, it seems to me that we have our minds concentrating, perhaps, on countries where there are not university facilities and, much as I welcome everything which is proposed in the Bill to deal with that type of problem, I hope we shall not forget that there are other countries with universities where it would be of great benefit to them to have our students just as it would be of benefit to our students to be able to go there.
There are twenty-five universities in Canada, of which twelve have over 1,500 students. There are 50,000 students working full time in these universities. I hope that, in the not far distant future, either under this scheme or in some other way, it will be possible to distribute about twenty scholarships between those twelve larger universities so that there would be a constant flow of people from this country to avail themselves of the education facilities of Canada.
We often hear about the impact made by broadcasting and constant travel between the United States and Canada. In addition, many undergraduates go from the United States to one of the Canadian universities. It may be that, if we could send one or two of our own undergraduates to those universities in each year, they would do a great deal more to explain the way of life of this country and the Canadian way of life to us in this country than anything which can be 418 done by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
I hope that, as a result of the Bill, there will not be even fewer students going to Canadian universities than there have been in the past. There is just a possibility that that might occur. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to assure me that my fears on that score are groundless.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), the former Minister of Education, has already referred to the fact that in Canada education is a provincial problem as a result of the British North America Acts and, therefore, finance for education in Canada is not quite so easy to arrange as when it is a Federal responsibility. There have been negotiations with the Canadian Federal authorities, on various occasions, to see whether they could help in this particular problem. There were certain encouraging features in those discussions, but when we come to assess the results of the Education Conference in Montreal, we find that the very generous offers which had been made by the Canadians might mean that there would not be any further possibility of finance to help in the particular difficulties to which I have referred. Therefore, if we wish to find ways of arranging for British students to go to Canadian universities, I hope that this will be made easier under the Bill.
I hope that we shall hear from the Parliamentary Secretary that my fears are groundless and that what the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East and what most other speakers in the debate so far have looked for will be achieved. I sincerely hope that that will be the result.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
This is one of the rare occasions on which I find myself in agreement with some of the speakers on the other side of the House, notably the Minister and also the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), the previous Minister, who spoke a little earlier. I say that because I should not like it to be thought that my intervention a little earlier during the Minister's speech was in any way hostile to the Bill or to the idea upon which it is based. Quite the contrary. I strongly approve of the Bill. 419 In my view, it takes an important place in the constitutional and cultural development of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Bill and the various conferences which preceded it are part of an impressive panorama which is of lifelong interest to me. If I may be permitted a personal reference—I apologise for making it—I wrote a book on Commonwealth development, shortly before the famous Statute of Westminster, which contained progressive ideas of this kind which were then approved by the various constituent parts of the Commonwealth concerned in this Bill. Therefore, it cannot be suggested that I am in any way hostile to the idea of this Bill.
This Bill, as I say, is part of a panorama of Commonwealth development. In earlier days, different from these days, the Colonies looked to Britain, the Mother Country, for help with their population, defence, industries and education, but the tide turned. It is long since the tide turned and those Colonies, now independent realms, have developed all requisite necessities and luxuries for themselves, one of which is education. This Bill is a welcome instance of that turn of the tide and that development of the Commonwealth. One hundred years ago this Bill and the progress it represents would have been impracticable. Now it is an essential development in our constitutional evolution.
This is shown in three important ways, firstly, by the change of direction in the flow of migration, secondly, by the increased strength of our aggregation of nations and, thirdly, by their increased and joint attention to the importance of world-wide education. In the nineteenth century when our Colonies were weak and our Dominions, as they then were, few the net flow of migration was markedly outward to our Colonies which then needed our help. Then 25 million people born in Britain went abroad to settle in those Colonies and build them up. This they have done with great success. In the educational field this Bill is a measure of that success. During the last 80 years, happily, a different flow began, and during those later years large numbers of Europeans, mainly Russians, 420 Poles. Germans and Hungarians, have helped to diversify the population of our composite island which Shakespeare called.… that white fac'd shore,Whose foot spurns back the ocean's roaring tides,And coops from other lands her islanders.The world does not give sufficient credit to Britain's magnificent services to human progress by her acceptance and absorption of refugees from other lands. It is they who have made the composite population which is the glory of Britain today and part of the strength of the Commonwealth.
The outward trend changed. It is worth mentioning that from 1871 to 1931 our net loss in Britain was about 3½ million people, but from 1931 to 1955 our net gain in Britain was about ½ million. According to official sourcesThis net gain was the balance of a large outward movement mainly of British subjects emigrating, mostly since 1945 to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a large inward movement mainly of aliens from Europe, many of whom were refugees seeking sanctuary in Britain.There is a time when it is fitting for us notionally to take our stand on a little hill and survey our country in which we live and our Commonwealth in which we live and realise what is its glory, its freedom and its activities which have attracted people from many lands and made it one of the strongest forces for culture and peace in the world.
As I said, this Bill marks a great change. In those earlier days when the Colonies were dependencies, the arrangements envisaged by this Bill would have been inappropriate, perhaps impossible, certainly impracticable, but today the independent realms with their own great actualities and potentialities in science, industry and wealth of every kind make this new vision not only possible but practicable.
This Bill is one of a series of steps which marks progress from an Empire of dependent Colonies to the Commonwealth of independent and interdependent realms of planetary influence and beneficence. Those steps were appropriate, gradual and commonsense according to our unfolding history. In April, 1958, the relevant problems were referred to by Question and Answer in this House. In September, 1958, the 421 Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal carried their solution a step further when Commonwealth Ministers decided upon a new plan for 1,000 Commonwealth scholarships and fellowships. This 1,000 is too few; I should like to see this number increased. I should like to see the scope of the plan greatly widened and the amount of money available for its implementation greatly increased.
In July, 1959, the solution was carried farther still at the British Commonwealth Education Conference in Oxford when agreement was reached on the scheme embodied in the White Paper now before us. I venture to quote briefly from that White Paper. It says:The fundamental importance of this Conference is that the Governments of the Commonwealth, in setting it up, have explicitly recognised the need to share their resources in this enterprise on a Commonwealth basis. The truth is that each country of the Commonwealth will be the richer and the more able to shoulder its responsibilities, not only towards its own people, but also to the world, if more of its abler citizens can share in the educational resources available throughout the Commonwealth.This Bill is designed to implement that idea, but in my submission the number of students who would benefit should be much more than 1,000. Having regard to the vastness of the Commonwealth, the vastness of its population and the vastness of its resources, I submit that 1,000 students is far too small a number to be considered in this way. They should be very much larger in numbers. Correlatively, the amount of money available for the larger studentships and scholarships should be greatly enlarged.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) said he hoped that this was only a beginning. I hope it is only a beginning. There is another feature to which I am not sure whether my hon. Friend referred when speaking of the various universities. It would be very important to have some information as to how studentships are to be allocated between the three countries in these little islands, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England. As I have mentioned Ireland, if this scheme were developed as it should be, it would be fair to extend its benefits to those countries which, though not actually within the Commonwealth, are closely associated with it, such as the 422 Republic of Ireland. I make a plea for the Republic of Ireland and I hope that if there is a further conference about these very important matters the Minister will consider inviting the Republic of Ireland to send delegates.
I hope that the Bill is only a beginning and that it will be greatly extended. I am very glad that it has come before the House. I hope, too, that it will go through its stages expeditiously and serve our great Commonwealth as well as it should.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
I am very glad to have the opportunity of saying a few words about the Bill, not because I am an educationist, but because I have had the opportunity of working in Colonial Territories, particularly Malaya when it was a Colony.
The Minister is to be congratulated on bringing in the Bill so quickly after the Oxford conference. There must be something in the air at Oxford which makes it very invigorating. We have had an invigorating speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) and this augurs very well for the future of the scholarship scheme.
As has been said, this is an extremely good way of cementing understanding between peoples. When I was working in Malaya I was responsible for the practical training of students who were to come to England, and I found that the knowledge which they gained from going to England on an interchange with students sent out to Malaya was very helpful. I hope that we shall not have the need to have books like "The Angry American", which I hope all hon. Members will read, to show what should not happen when we try to help overseas countries. The scholarship scheme is a good way of obviating this kind of situation.
Women from Colonial Territories were not present at the Oxford conference. I believe that there were four women from this country, one from Pakistan and one from Canada. I understand that those present commented that it was a great pity that women from the Colonies were not better represented. When my right hon. Friend nominates the members of 423 the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, I hope that he will be kind enough to include at least one woman, or perhaps two, and certainly one or two among the 40 consultants who are to advise the Commission, as it is essential that far more education for women should be provided.
Last night I went to a students' party. Of all the students there, only two were women students, although some of the students had brought their wives. One has to remember that the majority of students coming from overseas are married and that they will go home to wives who have been living a completely different life from that which the students have experienced over here. That is one reason why I am glad to see that married students are to be allowed to bring their wives and it is also essential that women themselves should have their fair share of these scholarships.
I notice that the duties of the Commission include the placing of recipients of scholarships. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford said about the reception of students. As my hon. Friend the Minister will know, there is an admirable organisation for looking after Rhodes scholars, a voluntary organisation run by Miss Mac-Donald. I sincerely hope that a similar organisation will be set up for the students with whom the Bill is concerned. Their numbers will not be large, so there is every chance that they can be given private hospitality. I am a member of the Rhodes scheme and will shortly be receiving two students from Oxford University who are to spend part of their vacation with me.
As I was living in Devonport, last Christmas, I lent my house in London to a married couple, African Tanganyikans from Bukoba. I believe that there are many people who would be willing to take students if they were given their names. I hope that from the House tonight will go out the suggestion that a voluntary organisation or society, such as the Royal Commonwealth Society, will adopt such a scheme forthwith to welcome students as and when they arrive in this country.
I envisage very great difficulty for students with families. They are to come here for only two years and, in 424 some cases, for only one year. They will find it extremely awkward and time-wasting to get accommodation. I wonder whether the Commonwealth Relations Office could have a scheme similar to that which the Royal Navy has, a hiring scheme, so that flats could be hired which the students could then rent, paying the whole or part of the rent required.
I should like there to be on the Commission someone particularly interested in handicapped persons. I have a great interest in this matter through my connection with the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind. I am glad to say that that society enables interchanges between people of all the Commonwealth countries, for instance, between Canada and the West Indies. The White Paper, Cmnd. 841 mentions the specialised scholars who will deal with certain subjects and says:This Section"—that is, the section dealing with teachers for special subjects—would not be complete without some mention of certain other matters which we have been unable, through pressure of time, to consider in detail. These include courses for those concerned with the education of handicapped children, vocational guidance, educational psychology, probation services"—which is very important in the Colonies at present—and welfare services, school libraries and community development.As there was apparently not time for that subject to be discussed in full, I suggest that the Minister might have another, smaller conference, or get together people with a special knowledge of these subjects so that they can go into the details of the type of person needed for this training and so that the right kind of scholarship can be awarded.
There has been reference to the fact that universities are probably overcrowded and it has been suggested that these students will push out some of our own. Has the Minister considered the new course on social administration to be set up at Swansea University College? I understand that that is to be a two-year course and that there will be 30 students under Mr. Lockhead, who has been an educational adviser to the Trinidad Government and who is now working here. That course is, I understand, receiving a Nuffield grant. Might not this be the right type of place for the 425 training of such students? This sounds to me to be an admirable course and it would be suitable for both inward and outward students. I should like to know whether it will be one of the courses to be used. It is not a degree course, although it may become so later. The United Nations has set up a scholarship course for 18 students at Swansea. I understand that, unfortunately, not all of those scholarships have been taken up and I gather that the Swansea authorities might be pleased if six scholarships could be allocated through this course under this scheme.
I see that there are provisions for married students. I hope that I am not being too much of a feminist in this debate, but I am concerned about what happens if a married woman student comes to this country. I have met this problem when in Malaya. Is the married woman student to be allowed to bring her husband? If she is earning, as some such students are to support their children, would it be possible for such a student to get an allowance for the children while she is in this country? If she is contributing to the household, will she get some form of allowance to enable her to continue to provide her husband with help in respect of the household while she is away? I have known some very able people who have not been able to undertake this work because they have not had the money with which to help to support their households.
I should like to refer to some words which appear on page 20 of Cmnd. 841:Some awards might be made to persons who play an important rôle in the life of the community, such as senior administrators in the public or private sectors, provided that there is some attachment during the period of their study or research to a university or comparable institution.I should like to know what qualifications are envisaged. I can think of a number of women who have not full academic qualifications, but are able administrators in their own country. Will they be eligible to come here to get further instruction?
I am thinking particularly of community centre work. They may not hold a degree, but they have probably attended some classes or a course in their own country and are doing admir- 426 able work, perhaps as heads of departments. They would be of great use, particularly until we can get the standard of education for women improved.
I now wish to refer to fellowships. Can these be given for informal adult education? I think that there is still a tremendous need for adult education, particularly in the least-developed countries—in other words, countries which have had education for the shortest period of time. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that in so many of the Colonies there is still a great need for the adults to catch up with the young. When children have superior education to their parents, it causes one of the greatest difficulties. One of the things of which we may have been guilty as a colonising Power is the fact that we have too swiftly and too often changed the family traditions. The lack of respect of the young people for their parents and for traditions of the older generation can be one of the saddest things that we can see; and it is not indigenous to most of the countries concerned. I therefore hope that some of these fellowships will be available for this type of informal education.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford stressed the question of language, and particularly the English language. I feel that it is equally important for anybody leaving this country to have some knowledge of the language of the country to which he is going. It does not matter whether he has to teach in it; he will probably be teaching in English, but unless a person has some knowledge of the language of the country in which he is to work, live and probably meet the people in their own homes, he will miss a great deal. In any case, I think that he would be a less good teacher if he has no knowledge of the language.
Therefore, I suggest that if we are to have a better understanding between the Commonwealth countries an effort should be made to enable people to acquire a knowledge of the language of the country to which they are going, even if it is simply a colloquial knowledge. It is too often a one-way traffic. We expect everybody to know English and we take little trouble to study other languages.
I should like my right hon. Friend to explain the following words in the 427 Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Bill:The persons to be selected … will normally be either Commonwealth citizens or British Protected persons although exceptionally, with the special approval of the Secretary of State, awards may be given to residents of other Commonwealth countries who are neither Commonwealth citizens nor British Protected persons.Who are the people who are neither Commonwealth citizens nor British-protected persons, and yet belong to Commonwealth countries? I should be grateful for an explanation.
With those few words, I welcome the Bill and I wish it every success. I hope that it will be used for the furtherance of friendship throughout the Commonwealth.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Creech Jones (Wakefield)
I agree with all right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken concerning the value and importance of this Bill. I think it is based on a very bold and imaginative conception of the needs of the Commonwealth and, therefore, we are all united in hoping that the speed which has already been shown in the implementation of the conference resolutions may be further accelerated in order that the hopes of the Minister may be realised.
I am encouraged to make one or two points by reference to the plan and report of the conference. It is pointed out that the purpose of the plan is to secure the widest possible variety of cultural exchange, to serve people who can be expected to make a significant contribution to life in their own countries and to make awards other than to persons in the academic field who can play an important part in the life of their community. It is in the context of that purpose that I wish to make my few remarks.
First, I should like to express my own gratification that this Bill completes some of the work which was begun by Oliver Stanley and some of us who succeeded him at the Colonial Office. It makes possible certain facilities in higher education which would not otherwise be available. I had the privilege of being vice-chairman of the West African Committee concerned with higher education in 1942, and I remember my great joy during my period of office as Colonial Secretary in implementing the reports founding the universities in Nigeria, Ghana, Malaya, 428 East Africa and the West Indies. Therefore, I take a special interest in this further stage in the development of higher education work. One feels that by the exchange which becomes possible as a result of the Bill, some very excellent progress can be made in the cause that we all had at heart when the original work was started.
It is not only because of its educational purpose that I welcome the Bill. I do so also because of the larger objects which it can serve in the Commonwealth. The other day I put a Question to the Minister about the scope of the scheme, and he seemed to convey to me the impression that the plan would be concerned primarily with graduate study and research. I do not minimise the importance of these disciplines in higher education and the vital importance to the Commonwealth of research, but I fear that unless we state a very strong case at this moment there will be a tendency in the administration of this plan for it to be concerned almost exclusively with graduate and postgraduate work.
There is another type of contribution which can be made through this plan and I want to emphasise it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) referred to the place of adult education in our own educational system and to the colleges which have been created here for the benefit of working-class students in order that they may further their usefulness among their own people. I am very interested in adult education. It is pleasant to note that both the Home Secretary and the Leader of the Opposition are vice-presidents of the Workers' Educational Association. I am therefore sure that both of them will appreciate the point which I am about to make.
We all know that in many of our overseas territories democracy is a very delicate plant which calls for very careful cultivation and, because of tradition and economic and other special difficulties, is not likely to flourish as we know it in Britain today. There are great risks. One of the greatest factors in the success of a system of political democracy is the education of the ordinary people of the country. It is of vital importance that some attention 429 should be paid to adult education as it is being worked out in a number of the territories overseas. When we were founding university colleges overseas, I was anxious that extra-mural departments should be created in them in order that some of this adult education might be made possible. In most of the university colleges, these extra-mural departments are working and are securing most beneficial results for the territories concerned.
I press that facilities under the Bill ought to be made available to tutors and teachers in extra-mural departments as well as to tutors who are working out in the hinterland, in far away places, and doing this pioneer work. I should like to see an exchange of tutors, because a great deal of knowledge and experience is available in this country concerning adult education. I hope, therefore, that the claims of adult education will not be overlooked in the administration of the Bill.
Indeed, I will go further and say that there are students who have never had the opportunity of going to universities and who may never have that opportunity—some have not even had secondary school opportunities. From our experience in Ruskin College, Oxford, and elsewhere they make first-class students and are able to reap even greater advantage later if they are permitted to enter the universities. For instance, both Oxford and Cambridge universities permit some of the better students from the extra-mural side as well as from workers' residential colleges to enjoy scholarships in the universities. That experience and opportunity help them on their return home to play their part in the common life of the community. I hope that in the administration of the scheme there will be an opportunity not only for teachers and tutors to come here to see something of the way in which this side of study is organised but also for students from overseas to study here and to return to their countries with greater usefulness.
The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) referred to another class of study which is of importance—that concerned with the social sciences, sociology and social welfare. She referred to the excellent work which has been done at Swansea University College. I emphasise how 430 very important it is that some of the best social workers in some of our dependencies overseas should have an opportunity to continue their study or to take refresher courses at Swansea, Liverpool or London, where there are departments of social science and where most useful experience can be gained. Such students can later return to their own territories and be of even greater use than they are at present.
I am entitled to say this because a scholarship has been founded in my name by the Workers' Travel Association to bring students to study social science and welfare at Swansea University College. I want that kind of experiment to be enlarged so that many other students can enjoy the facilities available under the Bill.
I make the next point with some caution, but I am following the line set by the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport in her reference to the composition of the Commission, which will have the duty of administering the scheme. It may be that I have a little prejudice about the universities. I am not as eulogistic about Oxford as was the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) when I recall some of its not-so-ancient history in religious tolerance and human liberty.
Having said that, however, I notice that the Commission will be composed of at least four academic persons of high distinction. I hope that the Commission will not be exclusively academic or drawn exclusively from the universities. The Minister should cast his net a little wider than that. There are distinguished people in public life who could play a valuable part on a Commission such as this. If the Minister will look at the Board of Queen Elizabeth House at Oxford he will find on it an extraordinarily interesting mixture of people with a variety of experience. Persons of this wide range of experience could serve with very great advantage on a Commission such as this.
Moreover, there are many bodies in this country who could make a contribution to the Commission. I refer, for instance, to Chatham House—say the Director of Chatham House—to the W.E.A., to the British Council, whose use in the administration of the scheme will be of great importance, and to the Arts Council of Great Britain. These bodies and others have great public experience. They are 431 made up of men who do not live in ivory towers and who do not become somewhat cut off from the rough and tumble of life and the main stream of living. It is possible to blend in this kind of work people of academic distinction with others of a little more robust experience, if I may say so. I therefore hope that in setting up the Commission the Minister will try to make it as broadly representative as possible while not ignoring the vital importance of high academic representation on it.
There is very much more about the Bill which I should like to say, particularly regarding the very unfortunate discriminatory practices now creeping into higher education in the Union of South Africa and the enlargement of our own universities so that British students are not prejudiced in the number of places available to them in our universities. We must recognise that the Bill is of tremendous importance. I welcome it and sincerely hope that in its administration we may secure the results for which we all hope. I congratulate the Government on bringing in the Bill.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
As the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones), who has done so much for education himself, said, this is a time for congratulation. We should congratulate the Government on introducing this Measure. It also affords an opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) on his remarkable maiden speech.
I hope, however, that the Government will not be swept away by his eloquence, which was reinforced by Members on both sides of the House, when he said that children of ordinary scholars should be charged up to the scheme. There will never be enough money to go round in this sphere, and I share the doubts of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford whether we shall be able to get away with £1,000 a year per student as the overall cost of the scheme.
If we add to this the cost of transporting a whole lot of little children who will catch cold, and throw their brussels sprouts on the floor and will not remember a single thing about their journey to this country a few years after 432 they have left it, it seems to me that we shall waste resources that necessarily must be limited. I welcome the Bill, however, both for what it is itself and for what may evolve from it if the Commission develops on sound and satisfactory lines.
The general problem of admitting overseas students to British universities is exceedingly difficult. At the moment, it is rather a hit-or-miss matter. Often the student has little idea of the real merit of the college which he is applying to enter and, in turn, the college often has very little idea of the real merit of the student who has applied to enter it. London University has done a tremendous amount in the development of education in the Commonwealth, but I am told that last year one of the women's colleges admitted a woman from the Commonwealth who had no knowledge of the English language at all. She sent in an application and a splendid letter, setting forth her qualifications, which had been written for her in English by a friend. When she arrived bearing this letter, it was too late to do anything about it. No one bothered to make inquiries about this applicant in her own territory.
I would not wish to see a rigid bureaucratic system of control of university entrance selection imposed on colleges, but I hope that if the Commission works well it will become an academically acceptable clearing house for the large number of students who wish to come from the Commonwealth to universities in this country.
The Bill is a challenge to the people of Great Britain. These scholarships will be a direct benefit to this country and to the Commonwealth as a whole only if the holders of them enjoy themselves when they are here. Often we smugly assume that to know us is to love us, but, unfortunately, many of the worst enemies of the British Commonwealth are those who have come and studied in universities in this country and have, perhaps, unwisely, lapped up the doctrines of Harold Laski and Kingsley Martin. It would be difficult to say that this has been of real benefit to the Commonwealth.
Loneliness is a very serious problem. I was severely shaken to read in the 433 P.E.P. work on this subject the remark of a Jamaican student in this country. He said:It is possible to make friends with the English, but it is so much trouble that it is not really worth while.If a substantial number of Commonwealth scholars go back to the countries from which they came feeling this, it could well be that the scheme will do more harm than good. Anyone who wishes to advance the cause of Commonwealth solidarity can hardly do better than ensure that the people who come here as scholars under the scheme never have the opportunity to feel lonely, unwanted and without friends.
The Bill will be of particular help to those going to universities. During the last eight years a very great deal of help has been given by the Government, through the British Council, and by the universities themselves, to students who have come here from the Commonwealth. However, during those years the pattern of people coming from the Commonwealth to this country has been transformed. Nine years ago, fully three-quarters of the students who came from the Commonwealth went to the universities. Now, the proportion going to the universities from the Commonwealth—and the overall total of students has just about trebled in that time—is only half. The remainder go to technical colleges, polytechnics and to the commercial colleges about which hon. Members opposite have spoken. Those students need help just as much as those going to the universities. Their problems of readjustment are just as great, and often worse. I hope that we shall not lose sight of them in emphasising the contribution that the universities can make.
The students themselves and the experts are, for once, in agreement that in helping Commonwealth students at technical colleges, polytechnics and universities the thing that we really want to do is to increase the number of places in hostels. Living in hostels does not remove all the problems. I heard the other week of a Moslem student who went to live in a hostel. His most treasured possession was a quantity of sand which he had brought from Mecca. Alas, an over-zealous domestic servant swept the whole lot up with a Hoover 434 cleaner. Naturally, he was exceedingly upset, but, by and large, it is fair to say that the collection of students in hostels, in which there should be a substantial proportion of British students as well, is the best contribution that we can make towards helping Commonwealth students here.
I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Minister has accepted the Bill as the opening of an era rather than as an end in itself. If we look at this problem from that point of view it can be of immense benefit to the Commonwealth as a whole.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
The House will have noted with pleasure that throughout this debate we have had the presence of three right hon. Members who have held the office of Minister of Education, two on the Government side and one on this side of the House. I was interested to hear the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. G. Lloyd), the previous Minister of Education, pay a glowing tribute to the present Minister for his part in the conference which led to this Bill. Both he and the present Minister have made an impact on the Ministry of Education in this direction.
I remember the present Minister of Education, when some of us pressed him several years ago in the House, improving the financial arrangements for teachers whom we send on exchange to other parts of the Commonwealth. It is still financially difficult for a teacher to give up his job in this country and go out for a year into some other part of the world, but there has been a considerable improvement. I know that at the time the Minister improved the conditions he cut down the number of teachers whom he sent. Since then, however, he has increased the number.
The present Measure owes quite a lot to the impact of the present Minister of Education and the way in which he pressed the claims of education at the Commonwealth Education Conference. I pay tribute, also, to the Minister of State, Commonwealth Relations Office, and congratulate him on his speed in introducing the Bill and on the speech with which he moved its Second Reading.
435 I am glad that the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) said what he did. The debate has, I am afraid, been a little too self-congratulatory and complacent. After all, we are deciding to embark upon a scheme that will cost us about 2d. per head per year at the beginning and which, when it really gets into full swing, will cost us 2s. per head per year, or the cost of a packet of cigarettes. This is one of the best investments for 2s. in which the House of Commons could indulge. The possible benefits are beyond imagining.
I regard the Commonwealth as the finest experiment so far in the world in the free association together of nations in one group. Whether it can live and flourish depends not only upon ourselves, but upon other members of the Commonwealth. I am certain that it cannot stand still and that either it will disintegrate or it will come much closer together. Today's Bill, together with much of the post-war work of the Ministers for Commonwealth Affairs, is deliberately and happily designed to bring the nations of the Commonwealth even more closely together.
If we want to achieve that, it must mean ultimately that the Commonwealth shall share the wealth in common which its separate members possess. What the richer nations in the Commonwealth have must be placed generously at the disposal of the poorer nations, in the economic, technical, scientific, financial and medical spheres.
I was struck by the references made by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) to blindness in the Commonwealth and to the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind. It is a matter of simple fact that millions of people inside the Commonwealth are blind and that much of that blindness is preventable. Malaria and sleeping sickness can be destroyed from the Commonwealth. Today, we have the scientific "know-how" and provided that we are able to put the necessary resources in the hands of the scientific agencies we can remove these two scourges from the Commonwealth. Indeed, already we are moving along that line.
I welcome in that spirit the fact that the Bill seeks to give to the other nations 436 of the Commonwealth some of the benefits and some of the wealth in education that Britain possesses. It is impossible to describe what the impact of a teacher who is teaching children in another Commonwealth country, after having experienced life in Britain, can mean. Teachers can be great ambassadors for peace. As teachers inside the Commonwealth pass on the common heritage of the Commonwealth to the children with whom they come in contact, that will be a means of binding the sister-nations more closely together. I go much further and say that just as we need summit conferences, we need conferences at the base between people, not only inside the Commonwealth, but in other nations.
We must be prepared to pay the price for this spreading of education. The young men who come to our country under the scheme will experience what all young men experience when they come from the Commonwealth: the joy of utter political equality; and having experienced it, they will not go back to any part of the Commonwealth without the determination that they will take political equality with them.
The hon. Lady the Member for Devonport said that we make little provision for women. A great contribution to the emancipation of women throughout the Commonwealth can be the work that we do under the Bill. Education is a great emancipator. We have much to give, but we also have quite a lot to receive. The poorer countries—I think particularly of the Commonwealth countries in Africa which I visited—cannot by any manner of means afford the educational structure that we think it right that all children should have.
This is one of the capital investments that the poorer nations in the Commonwealth simply cannot afford. It is idle to ask them to make the same provision of investing in the future that the richer nations like ourselves can do. Therefore, anything that we can do to relieve the young Commonwealth country which is moving from a more primitive to a modern state of society of some of the heavy capital burden of education, is something that we ought to do gladly.
We have, however, quite a lot to gain ourselves from the other countries of the 437 Commonwealth. Do not let us imagine that the African who may be economically poor has nothing to give culturally to Western society. As for the richer countries, the exchanges that we make with Canada can be profitable both to British and Canadian education. I have had the privilege of speaking in many universities in Canada and in the new world, exchanging views on education and on the pattern of education in the new world as compared with ours.
if this were an education debate, I would enlarge on the simple fact that we have to give the new world the need for a greater intellectual content of education of abler children—the fallacy of egalitarianism in education and the notion held by Canada and America that it is undemocratic to promote a bright child and make him work harder than a child of less ability, just as Canadian schools have much that is refreshing to give to a country like ours, which still runs its education on a class system.
The interchange of teaching and educational experience with young Commonwealth graduates and teachers coining over here, seeing our work in the schools and universities and taking back that experience, and the complementary work that goes on on the part of British students who have been sent overseas, can be of great benefit to all the universities of the Commonwealth, including even Oxford—England.
I want to pursue just a little further this question of the poverty of the poorest Commonwealth students who come here. I had in the Gallery only last night a young man from Africa, whom I took around the Palace of Westminster. He is working his way through the university as surely and as hardly as any poor American student works his way. He is here without any grant from his Government, having saved up just enough to try to get through his course in law at London University.
It has been my privilege in Africa to meet wonderful parents who have made, for the education of the first generation of African students to come here, sacrifices compared with which the sacrifices parents in this country make, even middle-class parents sending their children to public school, are trivial. The Africans are hungry for education, and the sacrifices they are prepared to make 438 to get their children first to school—and even primary education there is expensive comparatively—and then to give the able children their chance in a college or university, have to be seen to be believed.
The Commonwealth Governments themselves are already providing some scholarships, and if I sound a little grudging about the amount of provision which is being made in the Bill, we have to set it on top of all the work that is already being done, and to which the Minister of State rightly referred, under schemes such as the Rhodes Scholarships or the magnificent Fulbright Scholarships which I regard as a major contribution to understanding between ourselves and one of our major allies.
I want, however, to emphasise that with this Bill we are only scratching the problem of the utter needs for education in the poorest parts of the Commonwealth. I spent some time three years ago in an African village, where two huts had been knocked together by anxious parents so that a teacher, who proudly boasted she could take children up to Standard III, could teach the children of the village, pending the arrival of the first actual school in that village. If our teachers complain, with some justification, that half our children are being taught in classes over the prescribed legal maxima in this country, then that young teacher was teaching 70 children in two huts knocked together. Of the children who receive primary education in some parts of that country—and only a fraction receive primary education—only a fraction complete the primary course, and of that fraction only a tiny handful receive secondary education.
So I am interested in this Bill particularly from the point of view of the provision of teachers to teach children in the poorer parts of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister of Education will not cease to encourage British teachers to go out to the Commonwealth, university teachers, training college teachers, and increase the number sent each year so that they may help to create in the young universities and schools of the Commonwealth the personnel of quality who can lead the young Commonwealth countries along the way that they have to go. I welcome the fact that we shall be bringing here 439 able students, post-graduate, expert teachers, from the other parts of the Commonwealth so that they may go back to create the seed corn which is so vitally necessary in every part of the Commonwealth.
This is a Bill for State effort which has been preceded by voluntary effort, and I would end by saying that I hope that voluntary effort will not dry up as a result of the comparatively small provision we make by the Bill. I may mention that Southampton University students hope to provide a scholarship deliberately aimed at bringing to England from Africa one of the black students whom the South African whites are depriving of proper opportunities of education. I should like to see all the universities of England doing that. I hope that some time we may persuade the local authorities themselves each to adopt some part of the Commonwealth and each to make provision for the education in Britain every year of a Commonwealth student from the poorer parts of the Commonwealth so that the trained students may go back and build up education in the Commonwealth.
I welcome the Bill, and I congratulate the Minister of State on his initiative and imaginative drive in presenting it.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Brian Harrison (Maldon)
I want to follow up two points which the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) has made. If I may say so without seeming patronising, I thought he struck the right balance about this Bill, about the difference between complacency with what is being achieved and the desire, which was expressed by an hon. Gentleman opposite, to enlarge the scope of the Bill because it did not yet tackle the problem.
This has got to be looked at as the first piece in the mosaic. Some details have been mentioned—and I will come to them later—of the complete mosaic, but this is the first piece, and it is essential that it be soundly placed in position. My fear is not so much that we are going to do too little with this piece, the beginning, but that we may not be able to get going the basic organisation for having those 500 students properly accommodated, properly looked after, and having the sorts of courses which they want with 440 the facilities which there are. I very much hope that thorough planning will go into the programme for the first lot of students who come over here, because if by any chance there are hitches with the first draft the scheme will get a bad name, and that will do irreparable damage.
The other point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman which I want to take up is that about teachers going to the Commonwealth. I do not think it is possible—I agree with him wholeheartedly—to over-emphasise the amount of good that these sorts of visits and exchanges can do. I know from my own experience. I was, admittedly, not at the sort of school to which the hon. Gentleman referred, of two mud huts, but I was at school in Australia, and I can remember the impression created in my mind as a schoolboy by some of the stories and some of the things we are told about England by exchanged masters who happened to be form masters for a year or two.
The point I want to make is that we must endeavour to persuade the local authorities to try, though I know it is difficult with the shortage of teachers, to make it easier for people in their areas to go out to other countries in the Commonwealth, because I am sure that at present when teachers see these opportunities they feel that they may prejudice their promotion at a later date. We ought to spread the idea which my hon. Friend the Minister of State put forward, that a person should almost be regarded as not suitable for promotion unless he has done a period somewhere in the Commonwealth.
This scheme, or this first part of this scheme, is immensely valuable, because it will act as a very strong cement in the rather tenuous ties which hold the Commonwealth together. I am never quite sure what exactly it is that holds the Commonwealth together. I do not think that anybody has ever been able to define it, but there is no shadow of doubt that one thing that does is the way in which we can exchange ideas with one another inside the Commonwealth and, because we think along the same lines, are able to work together to find a solution to a number of problems.
This sort of exchange of 500 or 1,000 scholarships throughout the Commonwealth will help very greatly to strengthen 441 this bond of thinking together, and, of course, it will help in another way. It will help very considerably those areas which have not got the facilities that exist in this country not only to develop what the people who come from a Commonwealth country can give, but what, in turn, the people with whom they come in contact can give. But it is not going to be entirely giving on our part. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse) has left the Chamber for the time being, because it is my contention that one thing which has made Oxford what it is is that it has had so many Rhodes Scholars coming in from the Commonwealth. I hate to think where Oxford would be on the rugger field, and even when at times they win the boat race, unless in their teams there were one or two Australians or Rhodes Scholars. The result has been of very considerable advantage to them.
I was interested when one hon. Member referred to the export of brains. The export of real brains is the one export that Commonwealth countries cannot afford, particularly those which are strenuously developing at the present time. It is one of the criticisms of the Rhodes Scholarship scheme at the present time that the number of people who come over here to universities after accepting Rhodes Scholarships or some other form of scholarship, stay here and do not return to their own countries. On the other hand, I endorse most heartily what was said by the same hon. Member in referring to this, which was that in the export of brains from this country to the other countries we are probably in a position, or ought to be now, in which we can afford the loss far better than the developing Commonwealth countries outside the United Kingdom.
There are a number of dangers in this scheme at the present time. Attention has been drawn to the very greatly overcrowded situation in our universities at present, and I think that this scheme will get off to a very bad start if people feel that these vacancies are being made purely at the expense of undergraduates from the United Kingdom. I hope that, in view of the increase in university buildings and so on, arrangements will be made to ensure that people coming 442 from the Commonwealth do not displace people in the United Kingdom.
I also hope that more emphasis will be laid on moving the undergraduates and scholars who come here to universities other than Oxford, Cambridge and London. There are so many places in the United Kingdom where first-class academic facilities are available and which have not yet been heard of in the other countries in the Commonwealth. We have to make sure that a big campaign of public relations is undertaken by the Commission in order that people may realise the advantages of other universities in the United Kingdom and not just choose one of the three whose names are best known throughout the Commonwealth.
I wish to lay particular emphasis on what happens to the students outside the university, about which we have already heard. There is the case of the student who thought that the English were probably nice to know when one knew them but that the effort was so great. Here I must be very careful, but I think that there is a tendency on the part of the English to think that the English are the nicest people they know, and consequently not to exert themselves too much to get to know people from other islands or other parts of the Commonwealth when they come here.
I was interested to hear the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) mention Miss Mac-Donald and the Dominions Fellowship Trust, which was the name given to the organisation set up by Lady Frances Ryder in the 'twenties. When in New Zealand a few weeks ago I had an interesting experience of the work which an organisation like that can do in looking after students. I met a man, now a senior professor in an agricultural college, who looked after me very generously, and, in fact, arranged to send me some plants. I thanked him and said, "I do not think I can ever repay you." He said: "Quite frankly, you do not need to. When I was over in the United Kingdom as an undergraduate in 1923, Lady Frances Ryder's organisation put me in touch with a number of people and I made some wonderfully good friends while I was over there. I never feel that I can repay the hospitality and friendship that was shown to me in the United Kingdom."
443 That sort of thing is very important because if the fact that the professor had been well looked after in the time he was here could make the impression that it has made throughout the whole of this man's life, surely it is vitally important that we should see that good impressions are made on the students who come over here.
On the other hand, I know of a case which I found extremely alarming concerning other students. I was working with some African students in London quite recently, and I was horrified when, having suggested that they should organise a football team or something like it, and take part in some athletic events, as there were some very good athletes among them, I was told that I would not get any athletes or athletic organisation in that group. I asked why not, and I was told that it was regarded as a bourgeois activity and that it was ridiculed. The reason was that the moment a team of Africans started playing against one from a British university they tended to make friends, and there was an organisation trying to stop as much as possible these African students making friends with the ordinary British students and undergraduates.
The importance of providing hostels has been mentioned in the debate, but I am not so sure that the provision of hostels is the right way to look after these students. I have always thought that one of the purposes of students coming to this country was to meet other people. There is a tendency, and it is a criticism I have heard of the British Council hostel, for students to come over here only to meet people from their own countries or, possibly, which is slightly better, people from other overseas territories, but, once they are in the hostels, not to meet people from the United Kingdom. One of the desirable objects of this scheme is to ensure that people meet together outside the universities.
I was interested to see from the White Paper that the selection of students will not necessarily be based on academic qualifications and that some awards will be madeto persons who play important rôes in the life of their community".or people who maybe expected to makea significant contribution to life in their own countries on their return from study overseas.444 It is essential that the scheme should not apply merely to those who, I understand, are referred to as "eggheads". It is important that the people who come here should be those who contribute over the widest area to the life of their own community when they return to their own country.
I began by saying that this is only part of the plan. This is the first piece that we are laying in a much wider mosaic. Whilst I welcome this section of the scheme and wish it every possible success, I hope that the Government will be as expeditious in carrying out the other recommendations of the Conference as they have been in getting this part of the scheme under way.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)
There is so much unanimity on this subject that one wonders why so much attention has been paid to the debate, but it should be said that it is a sign of the deep concern that we all have about these problems. I find myself again in the position of being able to be non-controversial and I am delighted that the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) has emphasised the need for careful planning. I feel sure that our task in discussing the provisions of the Bill is to ensure the maximum of careful planning so that the results which we all want, on both sides of the House, can be satisfactorily achieved.
The hon. Member for Maldon wondered what made Oxford what it is and whether it was the Rhodes scholars. There are so many things that have made Oxford what it is that I would hate to follow the hon. Member on that path. For my part, I remember the contributions of such people as G. D. H. Cole in various spheres. Perhaps we should give some credit to those people.
I want to address myself principally to the remarks made by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand). Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been concerned about the purpose to which the education to be received will be put. Mention has been made of cultural exchanges, the flow of ideas and their application to industry, especially in the 445 countries where industrial and agricultural development is so important. I should like to refer principally to the purposes of education when the results are applied to human relationships and the organisation of people, matters which can make so vital a contribution to the less developed countries.
In spite of the fact that the proposed arrangements make it explicit that thePlan should pay great attention to the needs of the economically less developed countriesI feel that the balance of attention has been weighted on the side of industrial countries and urban communities. The annex to the report makes it quite plain that the main emphasis will be laid on awards in the academic field, but I hope that this debate will result in more emphasis being given to that part of the scheme whichdoes not exclude … other people who play important roles in the life of their community.Paragraph 12 of the report states that the scholarships will be normally open to those people who have successfully completed university degree courses. I hope that greater emphasis will be laid on the claims of those who do not come within this normal category, but are not excluded in the proposed arrangements.
Naturally, we always look at such questions from the viewpoint of a Western community and of an industrialised society basing its social life on urban communities. I make the strongest possible plea for those people who play important roles in community life and are not excluded by the Bill. I ask that the Commission should be persuaded to give scholarships to those non-graduates who play a vital part in developing rural communities in the less industrially developed countries.
I hope that the Commission will approach this problem not only from our viewpoint, but from that of the people of Asia, the West Indies and Africa. In many of these countries as much as 80 per cent. of the life of the people is based on an agrarian economy. Much of it is subsistence farming, share-cropping and things of that kind, which do not correspond agriculturally with the kind of industrialised agriculture that Western countries enjoy. When we consider our educational plans against that background we must also realise the 446 immense amount of illiteracy that exists in these countries. Among all the forms of assistance that we can give to these countries, I am convinced that the kind of things that we are discussing today and the extension of education are most important.
The great need is to change the static mentality of peasants in these agrarian countries. It is true that these countries are seeking to develop their industrialised sector, but only a minority of the people live in the industrial centres. The vast majority still live in village communities. The Specialised Agencies of the United Nations have recognised this and there is an upsurge of activity in rural development, extension service and agricultural and industrial development schemes Then there are social engineering projects like the Gal Oya scheme in Ceylon and the Thal Development, in Pakistan.
All these things have been encouraged and fostered by the more developed countries to help the under-developed countries, but basic to these plans is the development of co-operation between the people themselves so that they may, as it were, raise themselves by their own shoestrings. This means the organisation in local communities of co-operative societies for all economic and social purposes within village life.
I wish to follow the lead of my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East in asking the Government and the people responsible for executing this plan to pay further attention to institutions like Ruskin College and, in particular, the Co-operative College, at Loughborough, which have played a useful part in educating for leadership in the underdeveloped countries.
Other countries on the American Continent and in Europe have special contributions to make to the community of nations, but the principles and practice of co-operation are peculiarly British. They had their birthplace in this country, they have grown here over 100 years and they have reached a high state of development. Therefore, it is only natural that a British contribution should be made to those countries through a typically British institution, and in my opinion this Bill can facilitate this.
447 A special training course was instituted in 1946 by the Colonial Office at the Loughborough Co-operative College and since then over 200 students from the Commonwealth have been in residence. I do not know whether the Commonwealth Office has the same kind of advisory services for co-operatives as those possessed by the Colonial Office. Last year, for example, students from British Guiana, Ceylon, Cyprus, Dominica, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Mauritius, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Sarawak, Sierra Leone, Tanganyika, Trinidad, and Uganda were in residence.
Forgive me if I weary the House with this long list, but I do so to give an idea of the broad basis upon which the course, assisted by the Colonial Office, has been able to extend help to the less developed countries.
In addition to students at the college who have come from Government Departments in various Commonwealth territories, increasing numbers are coming from the voluntary associations and societies, and there is a special need for the extension of educational facilities envisaged in the Bill for this latter class. I hope that the Co-operative College will be fully recognised as suitable for awards under the new plan and that those who will be selecting students will take special account of the facilities which can be offered in this respect.
The Minister has outlined the way in which the Commission will work and the number of people appointed to it. I hope that it will be possible to find at least one place for somebody with a knowledge of the organisation, principles and practice of co-operative societies, so that advice can be available on the appropriate courses of study for rural development workers who are so necessary to the development of their countries.
One drawback of high academic training of people who are to return to work in their own communities is that after being given a taste of concentrated, highly civilised, cultural exchanges between individuals, they find it difficult to go back to a village life, living in kacha or mud houses, doing basic work at community level. In this respect, I welcome the advice from both sides of the House that we should keep our feet on the 448 ground, and should bear in mind not only the courses of education to be pursued, but the purposes to which they will be put after the students or fellows return to their own countries.
Although it is possible to give a high degree of training in the special skills needed by those who are awarded Commonwealth scholarships, the real need is for students to be able to return to their countries still able to speak in the idiom of the villager, so that they can provide leadership in democracy where it is most needed, at the grass roots.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
This has been a pleasant and important debate; indeed, I have not taken part in a debate when I have found myself saying "Hear, hear" so frequently to speeches from the opposite side.
I will start by paying my tribute to the most distinguished maiden speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). Not only was it a notable speech, but it had a great amount of material in it. There is the tradition that maiden speeches should be non-controversial. The speech of the hon. Gentleman was certainly non-controversial as between his side of the House and ours, but I am not so sure that the Minister would regard it as wholly non-controversial, because the hon. Gentleman made a number of extremely important suggestions for improving the Bill. I agree very much with a number of the points he made.
A number of hon. Members have underlined the importance of one point made by the hon. Gentleman, namely, the need adequately to look after students who come over here on these grants. I do not need to say more on that point, but it is crucial to the success of this scheme. I was particularly glad that the hon. Gentleman, as the Member for Oxford, made the point that there should be a proper spread of awards amongst the universities of the United Kingdom. This also is important for the success of the scheme in terms of making public opinion throughout the country aware of the importance of the operation. If we can get students at provincial universities as well as at the big academic three, that will be valuable.
I was particularly interested in the point made by the hon. Gentleman, with 449 great authority and knowledge, of the need for a greater cross-migration in Commonwealth relationships. He said that educational and other relationships throughout the Commonwealth should be relationships between members of the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom. I was reminded of an occasion in New Delhi when I attended a party in the house of the High Commissioner and enjoyed a programme of calypso records played by West Indian students who were the guests of our High Commissioner there. They were attending Delhi University on scholarships provided by the Indian Government.
The Indian Government have been doing this on a considerable scale, and it is the kind of new relationship within the Commonwealth which we should encourage by every possible means, because it is important in many ways. It is important for getting rid of illusions. For instance, some of the students I met in India were having the difficulties that students coming from foreign countries have when they go to strange surroundings. They were finding that, in this world where colour prejudice is so inflammable, there can be colour prejudices between two coloured countries as well as between a coloured country and a white country. This was valuable.
My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) has emphasised the fact that many of the countries to which we are referring are agrarian; much of their economic development is agricultural. As a delegate to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Delhi, I discovered how much such countries as India and Ghana can learn and can give to each other in terms of agricultural development. They can do much more in this respect than we can because our agricultural experience is so different. I doubt whether great community development schemes have so much to offer to the technically backward members of the Commonwealth, whereas the more this scheme of educational interchange can help to promote such an exchange of information, the more fruitful it will be.
In connection with closer cross-relationships between the various members of the Commonwealth, I make one suggestion to the Minister. I was glad to notice that there is provision in the 450 Bill for an annual report by the Commission which is to be established. That will be most useful, but I am wondering whether it might not be decided, in consultation with the other Commonwealth countries taking part in the scheme, to include in the annual report an indication of the work which the other Commonwealth countries are doing. This might be done by a series of appendices from the various Commonwealth countries, and it would enable hon. Members of this House to be informed not only on what our own Commission is doing, but how that fits into the general picture of the scheme.
Like other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate I welcome the Bill, and I want to pay a tribute to the Government for the speed with which they have brought it before the House. I am afraid we have become rather accustomed to communiqués from Commonwealth Conferences containing more pious platitudes than promises of action, and it is fine that this Bill should be brought forward with a spirit of urgency.
The general feeling of hon. Members on both sides has been that the proposals in the Bill are good proposals but that we ought not to be too complacent about them or about their scale. I thought that some of the points made about the 500 scholarships which were being offered and how inadequate they were in comparison with the need were a little irrelevant to the proposals in the Bill. The proposals in the Bill are mainly in post-graduate work, and 500 post-graduate scholarships in this country are a considerable addition to post-graduate education generally. I hope we shall realise and that the Government will tell us that they regard the Bill as the first instalment of a much wider and more imaginative plan to implement the purposes of the Commonwealth Education Conference.
Many hon. Members have mentioned the kind of work done by the American Fulbright Commission, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton Cold-field (Mr. G. Lloyd) said that we should look at what America is doing and try to match our own effort against the American effort. I am told that the United States last year provided scholarships for more than 4,500 foreign students in the United States, as well 451 as scholarships for very nearly 2,000 American students at all levels, graduate and post-graduate, in countries abroad.
If we look at the American effort in the Commonwealth alone, it is very striking. Pakistan has more than 100 scholarship students in the United States at the moment; India has more than 200. The Fulbright scheme provides for more than 1,000 scholarships both ways between the United States and Britain and the Commonwealth and the various colonial dependencies.
Against that picture, the Bill must be regarded as the first very welcome instalment, but only the first instalment, for very much wider progress in the future. Like other hon. Members, I want to emphasise that, even within the limits of the Bill and although it will be mainly post-graduate the Commission ought to try to interpret its remit as widely as possible and take particular note of the comment, which has been quoted, made In the Report of the Commonwealth Education Conference, in paragraph 17, which states:The awards should normally be in the academic field, but the possibility should not be excluded of making some awards to other persons who play an important role in the life of their community.This is very important indeed.
I hope the Commission will take the advice of the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) and invite a fair share of women to enjoy these scholarships, particularly women active in the public life of their own countries who may not have had the opportunity of a formal academic education. That would be very much within the spirit of the proposals in the Bill.
I should like to emphasise that the Commission should share out these awards with particular emphasis on the less technically advanced members of the Commonwealth. This is laid down in the White Paper, and I hope that particular note will be taken of it. I have uneasy memories of one Commonwealth conference I attended. We were discussing Commonwealth efforts to help underdeveloped territories, and one of the most passionate speeches was made by the delegate from Australia, who felt that Australia was one of the principal under-developed countries of the Commonwealth. In a certain sense that is 452 true, but not in the sense in which we distribute these educational awards. They can produce the biggest and most fruitful results in the technically less advanced countries, and I hope that the Commission will bear that in mind when making these awards.
We have had a long debate and, by its very nature, we have been in agreement with each other. I therefore do not intend to take up much more time on this subject. I feel most strongly that it is one way in which we can give our Commonwealth reality in the modern world and one way in which we can make it a really multi-racial community. An educational interchange programme, especially if it is an interchange programme and works both ways, is the best way to help the less technically advanced members of the Commonwealth. It is a way in which help can be given by the better-off countries to the less-well-off countries without involving that loss of self-respect which often exists in the relationship between giver and receiver. For that reason, I welcome it particularly.
I shall not quickly forget an experience which I had at Delhi University, where I attended one of the excellent courses which the British Council runs in universities overseas. This was a course for teachers of English in various universities of India. These were university teachers, mostly young people but graduates, who in the period before the war would undoubtedly have been leaders in the agitation against British rule in India; but there they were listening engrossed to an interesting lecture about the poetry of Byron and the speech Byron once made in another place. When I talked to the students afterwards they all had a common ambition to come to this country for a little while and enjoy a period of study at a university in the United Kingdom. There is a tremendous fund of good will there. The same good will exists in the other newer members of the Commonwealth. I hope that the Bill will mean that in the years that lie ahead, by a really imaginative, spectacular and generous effort, we shall make the fullest possible use of that good will.
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. Richard Thompson)
It is a very gratifying but, 453 I fear, an all too rare experience to be associated with a Bill about which everyone feels very much the same. I must say, having heard every word of every speech, that the degree of unanimity has been most impressive. I accept absolutely that not all of it has been uncritical, but there is no doubt that the general feeling expressed on both sides is that this is one of the most imaginative Measures we have had for a long time. I am quite certain that it is in that spirit that in due course we shall enact it.
I was particularly grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) for the tribute he paid at the commencement of the proceedings to the Government on the speed with which they had acted in this matter. He raised two particular points in his speech, and I hope that I can reassure him on both of them. First, the additional provision which the Bill lays down is a net addition to what is being done now. Let there be no doubt about that. The other point on which he and other hon. Members have expressed anxiety was that the awards of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission should not necessarily always go to universities. He was anxious that other institutions might be eligible for providing higher education for these people. I can assure him that that is what the Commission will have in mind; indeed, it is the intention.
One or two themes have emerged from the discussion we have had this afternoon, and one of these is the very important question of the reception of these students when they first come to this country. That was mentioned by a number of hon. Members, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse), whose remarkable maiden speech has received well-deserved tributes from all sides of the House. As this is a matter of interest to so many hon. Members, perhaps I might say a word about it.
The arrangements for the social welfare—if I might put it that way—of the students will be in the hands of the British Council, and I think I will say why that is. In the first place, the British Council has a very wide experience indeed of doing this kind of thing. Secondly, the number of students when 454 we get to the second year and build up to the maximum will be 500, which is very substantial, and, therefore, it is quite a big problem, and I think it is too big a job to be thrust on to some newly created ad hoc body, especially when we reflect that the earliest batch of students will be arriving next year. In any case, if we did this we should probably have to borrow personnel from the British Council to help make the scheme work, and I do not think it is sensible to have any overlapping in these arrangements.
We attach particular importance to getting these arrangements right, and the British Council proposes to make special arrangements for this type of scholar and not simply lump him along with others We want the feeling to get about that a Commonwealth scholar is a very distinguished type of person indeed, as he will be.
I have taken a certain amount of trouble to ascertain what these arrangements are, and I can say that they are very comprehensive indeed. They start before the student comes to this country with an initial briefing in his own country, telling him roughly what to expect and making all the necessary arrangements for his passage and so on. They then follow on with reception here and the first few days after his arrival, a week or so, which will be particularly important because first impressions can mean so much. Then they go on to take a genuine interest in him while he is here. They help him in connection with his living accommodation, making contacts for him, advising him of the services which are available in the country, trying to help him with vacations and interesting things to do; in other words, trying to integrate him into the country which for a time he has made his home.
I think hon. Members in all parts of the House will agree with me about the vital importance of getting things right at that stage. Indeed, it could have a very marked effect on the academic distinction or otherwise which the student secures. If he is in harmonious surroundings feeling that he is among friends, he will unquestionably do much better and go away a far better ambassador for this country than if that kind of thing went wrong. Finally, the idea 455 is that his departure home again should be similarly looked after and proper reception arrangements made back where he came from.
I have spent a little time on that subject, but so many hon. Members expressed themselves as being anxious about it that I thought it was probably worth while to do so.
My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford raised a point about which other hon. Members spoke, whether the scale of allowances for these people when they are over here is really adequate, whether the figure of £1,000 would prove to be enough. The scale that we contemplate compares favourably with any other that we pay. There is none higher. While we are not rigid or bigoted about this, I think we shall find that in practice it will probably be all right, but it is something upon which we should keep a very close watch.
While I am on the subject of allowances, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers)—perhaps I might take this opportunity of acknowledging what she does in the way of hospitality for students from Colonial Territories and Commonwealth countries—was concerned about the question of marriage allowance. She put the case of the married woman student who came here in her own right. I must confess that the way we have looked at it, with what I feel sure she would call our male prejudice, up to now has been that the bulk of the scholars coming over here would be men, and possibly married. However, I can tell her that the administration of the scholarship plan is intended to be sufficiently flexible and that the kind of arguments which she has put forward will certainly fall upon receptive ears. As to the question of having a woman representative on the Commission, the Commission has not yet been appointed, but I am perfectly certain that my noble Friend will give close attention to that aspect of the matter also.
The right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) asked one or two questions. He wanted to know who would be responsible for the nomination of scholars from the Colonial Territories. I have to tell him that the Commission is not responsible for them, nor, indeed, will it be responsible for the selection 456 of United Kingdom candidates for scholarships offered at colonial colleges. The Commission will select only from the list which comes forward to it from the territory concerned in the case of incoming students, and in the case of outgoing students it is, so to speak, submitting a short list, but not the final list, to the receiving authority. These duties will be carried out by bodies which already exist in the Colonial Territories. The point is that the Commission is not the sole judge and jury in this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman also had something to say about the question of the principles of selection. The Commission will be advised by an advisory panel of 40 experts in the academic field in this country who will serve in an honorary capacity. They will, I am sure, be very broadly based and will be in a position to give the most disinterested as well as the most expert advice on all these matters.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I am prepared to believe that they will be very disinterested, but I wanted to know the principles on which they will work, whether it will be a matter of having the best person in any subject or having a certain number of subjects and so many in one subject and so many in another.
§ Mr. Thompson
What will happen will be that the field from which they select in the very first place will have been narrowed down by the sponsoring countries. Therefore, they will not have a completely free hand because they will not know the type of candidate coming forward. However, I am certain that, within that limitation, the intention is to carry out these duties in as broad a way as they possibly can to try to give the specialisations, as it were, a crack of the whip.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson), in an interesting speech, made a point which he made the other day in a Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wondered whether the capacity of our universities as at present constituted was sufficient to sustain this influx of graduates. I will not weary him by repeating what my right hon. Friend said at the time, but perhaps I could add that I think there is some misconception about the degree of over- 457 crowding which might arise as a result of this scheme. Many hon. Members seem to have assumed that the scholars will be undergraduates, but the great majority—not all—will be graduates. I am advised that with post-graduates the pressure is nothing like so severe as it is with undergraduates. The university authorities have not expressed any undue concern on that point in our discussions with them up to now.
That leads me to what was said by my hon. Friend for Rye (Mr. Godman Irvine). He was a little adrift on this matter when he referred to the difficulty of getting our students into Canadian universities. Here, again, he was referring to undergraduates with whom the Bill is not mainly concerned. He should take some comfort from the fact that, as a result of the Bill and the forth-comingness of the Canadian Government, which we all acknowledge, 250 scholarships have been made available by that Government. I have no doubt that the United Kingdom will get its appropriate share of them and, to that extent, there should be some easing of the position, but mainly of the graduate pressure.
Apart from matters of hospitality and allowances, with which I have dealt, my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport asked why it was that in certain circumstances persons who were not Commonwealth citizens or British protected citizens could be considered for these awards. That stipulation has been included for the practical reason that in certain countries—and I am thinking particularly of Australia—there may be very promising children of, possibly, Irish parents or other stock who have not acquired British nationality and who would be technically outside the ambit of the Bill. Such children might be very promising and, to all intents and purposes, domiciled in such a country. It is felt that it would be wrong to exclude such people, and this is thus a sensible provision. In case anyone might think that we might be swamped by such people, another safeguard is that the sponsoring country will not put forward the names of those who might leave the country never to return and who in later life would not devote their talents and aptitudes to that country. I do not think that there is any scope for this provision to be abused.
458 Although, strictly speaking, it does not arise under the Bill, the next question is that of teacher-training. Several hon. Members have referred to the desirability of more teachers going to the underdeveloped countries and a greater exchange between teachers of one country and another. It is true that the Oxford Conference recommended that teacher-training facilities should be improved and expanded, and it made several detailed recommendations to that end.
With the co-operation of the associations of local authorities and teachers, who have received the recommendations of the conference, I am glad to say, with interest and enthusiasm, the United Kingdom Government are planning that an additional 500 places in teacher-training establishments of all kinds shall be made available for Commonwealth students over the next five years.
The students to whom those additional places are to be assigned will be assisted by the payment of fees and maintenance allowances from Government funds. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education is in touch with the authorities in the training colleges about carrying out this proposal. I recognise that there is a serious shortage of teachers throughout the Commonwealth. The Conference reached the conclusion that the most effective help which the more advanced countries could give in the short term to help them to deal with that was to fill certain key posts. The Government hope, again with the co-operation of the local authorities concerned, that a gradually increasing number of teachers from the United Kingdom will be encouraged to take up posts in the Commonwealth.
The Government will make money available to remove some of the financial obstacles which have stood in the way of recruiting teachers for the overseas service. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Education is in close touch with all those concerned about other ways in which service abroad can be made more attractive to the United Kingdom teacher
We all recognise that it would have been very nice to legislate for our plans for teacher training and the supply of teachers in this Bill, but the provisions 459 for the administration of the teacher-training scheme have not yet been fully worked out with all the local authorities concerned, and we felt that it would not be right to hold up this Measure until we could reach finality on the other.
Although this is only a two-Clause Bill, it is a Measure of the most far-reaching significance. As my hon. Friend observed when moving the Second Reading, the Bill may well inaugurate a new chapter in Commonwealth development and relationship in education comparable with what was inaugurated in economic co-operation by the Ottawa Agreements of 1932. The Bill is a great landmark. It represents the determination of a group of free and independent peoples of varying race, tradition and economic attainments, some 660 million people, getting on for one quarter of the human race, to help one another, each according to his capacity, so that the benefits of higher education, of advanced technology and research shall be shared to the advancement and benefit of all.
The great era of educational co-operation which the Bill foreshadows is no new departure for the Commonwealth. Already great strides have been made. Of the rather more than 100,000 university students enrolled at universities in the United Kingdom, more than 11,000 come from overseas, which is one in nine—probably the highest proportion in the world—and no fewer than 7,000 of those are from the Commonwealth. I mention those figures because they clearly show that this country is already sharing its academic resources with the world and particularly with the Commonwealth, in which we have such a special and abiding interest, in the most remarkable fashion.
The Bill will accelerate and enlarge that process and ensure that the higher education increasingly becoming available, not only in the old Commonwealth countries where the facilities are more substantial but also in the new, is available for United Kingdom students as well. In short, I believe that the Bill is one of the most imaginative and constructive measures affecting the Commonwealth ever to be placed before the House, and in that belief I confidently commend it.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Whitelaw.]
§ Committee Tomorrow.