§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
We have decided to use one of our two Supply days on the Floor of the House to deal with Scottish education. Never at any time has Scottish education been in such a turmoil as it is today. Never have Scottish teachers been so frustrated and angry. Never—until this week—have thousands of Scottish children been denied education because of a teachers' strike. That is the background against which, today, we shall discuss this matter. The Secretary of State for Scotland and the Government must take full responsibility for the turmoil, the frustration, the anger and the teachers' strike action.
At a special general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland, on Saturday, a great number of resolutions were passed unanimously and other resolutions were turned down. But one of those passed was:That this Special General Meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland calls for the immediate resignation of the Secretary of State for Scotland.657 I must point out to the Secretary of State, and, indeed, to the Leader of the House, that not all the people who voted for that resolution were members of the Labour Party. I am sure that I am guessing right when I say that the majority of those who supported the resignation of the Secretary of State belong to the Conservative Party.
This resentment on the part of teachers, which has been building up for many years, reached its climax when the Secretary of State, in June of last year, published a memorandum. This matter has been raised on a number of occasions both inside and outside the House. The Secretary of State, during debates, and by statements to the Press, has laid great emphasis on the fact that the memorandum asked only for observations on a number of matters, including the employment of non-graduate male teachers. The Secretary of State has tried to tell us that no actual proposal was ever made, but that he was merely asking for observations.
But, knowing the record of the Government since 1951, in the lowering of the qualifications of entrants to the teaching profession, the teachers were right to take the gravest view of this question in the memorandum. As far as they were concerned—and I in no way blame them—this was a proposal for dilution. It is because the Scottish teachers have accepted it as a proposal for dilution that throughout this week thousands of children in Glasgow have been denied education.
I must make it clear to the Secretary of State that unless he makes a satisfactory statement today, the teachers in Scotland will be striking from time to time, and they will be doing so not because of salary considerations. They are taking this action because of the threat of dilution. The Secretary of State could not have had any valid reason for asking for observations in this matter, because all the necessary information had been supplied to him before he issued the memorandum.
In March, 1955—five years before he issued that memorandum—he issued another memorandum which was sent to all interested parties in Scotland, raising the question of the training of teachers. As a result of that memorandum, the Secretary of State received advice on all 658 aspects of recruitment and training. In February, 1957, a Special Committee of the Advisory Council for Education was set up, with one purpose: to consider measures to improve the supply of teachers in Scotland. This was a high-powered Committee, with Mr. T. Knox, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, as its Chairman. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) and the hon. Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) were members of that Committee, although they were not Members of this House at that time.
When studying the recommendations of that high-powered Committee, we find that Recommendation 57 says:We considered whether a new group of non-graduate men teachers of general subjects corresponding to the large group of women, should be recruited. Arguments summarised in the Report were advanced on both sides. We rejected the proposal because, apart from other considerations, we believe that the number of men recruited could not be large and that, in any event, they could not be recruited quickly enough to help in the period of greatest crisis".That was the Secretary of State's own Committee which gave him that advice, and that Committee was concerned specifically with the supply of teachers. That recommendation was absolutely clear—no non-graduate men teachers in Scotland.
The Scottish Council for the Training of Teachers received this now famous memorandum in June, 1960. There has been published a Report of the Council's meeting at the end of January of this year, at which it discussed this memorandum. The discussion was devoted to that simple question, and by nine votes to four the Council recommended against a three-year college course for men. Those people know about the training of teachers and are aware of the sort of ability and calibre required, and by eleven votes to four they voted against a four-year college course for men.
Who are the men who would choose a three-year course to become non-graduate teachers rather than a four-year course with a degree, bearing in mind that promotion prospects for the non-graduate man would be very dim indeed? The Secretary of State knows as well as I do the kind of men whom we would attract into the training college. They would be the students who failed to take the 659 entrance examination to the university. If this form of dilution were accepted, the whole status of the teaching profession would be lowered. That is what is worrying the Scottish teachers today, and that is why the Glasgow teachers are on strike. It would be well-nigh impossible to attract honours graduates to a profession in which the currency was so debased.
Has the Secretary of State failed to notice that recruitment of graduates to the teaching profession in recent years has been improving? He should have noticed that. In his now famous memorandum he quotes from the Report of the Special Committee as follows:The problem facing education is to attract 300 more graduates a year into teaching than were recruited before the war from a university output which in Arts and Pure Science is only 300 more.What he implied by putting this statement in the memorandum side by side with his question on non-graduate men is that it is impossible to attract 300 more graduates.
During the three years before the war recruitment of graduates to teaching averaged 640. In 1959, it was 894—an increase of 254. Even the Secretary of State must agree that that is coming near to the requisite 300. With the expected increase in the number of students in universities, surely the Secretary of State must have sufficient faith in the attractions of the teaching profession to believe that we shall get sufficient to make up the 300.
I have shown the right hon. Gentleman clearly that I am totally opposed to this form of dilution, but it would be quite wrong and irresponsible of me to condemn out of hand dilution in the form of non-graduate men without showing the Secretary of State how he could attract more graduates to the profession. First, he should be asking himself how he can possible increase the pool of educated manpower. He will be aware that almost two-thirds of our pupils who are in senior secondary schools leave before the course is completed. There are many reasons why these boys and girls leave before the course is completed, but I intend to deal with only one, in connection with which the Secretary of State should have taken action long ago.
660 The Knox Committee, before it even published its interim Report in 1957, considered the question of school bursaries of such importance that it wrote to the Secretary of State on 8th May, 1957. The third paragraph of that letter contained the following words:The Council considers that the Higher School Bursaries should be more generous. There is no point in being generous at University stage if bursaries are insufficient to allow able pupils to complete their Secondary Education.Again, in Recommendation 19 (f) of the 1959 Report it was stated:We recommend that the maintenance element in a bursary for school pupils and for students from age 15 to 17 should approximate more closely to that for students over 17.In May, 1957, the Committee recommended that up to the end of the fourth year the bursary should be£78 and thereafter, in the fifth and sixth years,£104. That is four years ago, and in those intervening four years boys and girls who could have reached university standard have left school. Where do these bursaries stand today?—not at£78 as suggested four years ago by the Committee, but£45; and not£104, but£60. For four years the parsimony of the Government has caused a number of potential teachers to leave school and to drift into other jobs. The recommendation of that important body of men and women was just swept aside as of no account by this Tory Government.
There is another serious deterrent to men entering the teaching profession, and that is the lack of pension for wives and children. What was the recommendation of the Knox Committee on this matter? Let it be remembered that the Knox Committee was trying to find ways and means of attracting more teachers. Recommendation 31 stated:We consider that the teachers' pension provisions should be reconsidered with a view to including a scheme for widows and dependants on terms no less favourable than those offered to civil servants.Does not the Secretary of State realise that the future of wives and children is of the utmost importance to all men? If he does not, the Knox Committee certainly did. It said, in paragraph 57 of its report:The absence so far of any provision for widows and dependants in the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme may be a further serious deterrent to recruitment.661 The Secretary of State again merely shrugged off that piece of advice.
The Knox Committee made another suggestion for recruiting more graduates to the teaching profession. Each year representatives of industrial firms visit the universities, and these representatives lay before the students all the attractions of entering industry after graduation. The greatest attraction of all to these young men and women is going straight from university into a job which gives them a salary at the end of the first month. The Knox Committee realised this and, in its interim Report, in 1957—four years ago—recommended thatall graduates and any others training for the Teacher's Special Certificate receive during their period of professional training awards on the scale of those given by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.It estimated that the cost of this recommendation would be between£70,000 and£80,000 a year only. In spite of the small sum required, four years have passed without the Government doing anything about it.
In support of its recommendation, in paragraph 24 the Committee said:The post-graduate training of prospective teachers is something to which Scotland has long ascribed great value and we think that post-graduate training of this kind is just as important as the training of research workers. The supply of potential research workers itself depends upon the adequate staffing of the schools, which, in turn, would be helped by the removal of the financial deterrent which may prevent a graduate from proceeding to teaching. It therefore seems to us incontestable"—and I want the Secretary of State to mark that word—that the post-graduate training of teachers should be helped on the scale which we recommend.It may have appeared incontestable to those eminent people, but they did not know the Secretary of State or the Tory Government. The Government have done nothing about a recommendation made four years ago which might have helped to avoid the desperate situation in Scotland today, and which would have cost a mere bagatelle. It was completely ignored by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State and the Government deserve the severest condemnation for refusing to implement recommendations which, by themselves, would have had every chance of increasing the number 662 of graduates in teaching. All this information is available to teachers, and it is because they have this knowledge that they asked for the Secretary of State's resignation, and in another resolution, condemned him for procrastination. I know the teaching profession. I have many friends in it. The Secretary of State should be aware that the question of salaries is not what has caused the strike; the question of dilution has been responsible for that. This threat has been hanging over the heads of teachers for ten months, during which time they have been asking the Secretary of State to make known his decision. It is his procrastination over this matter which has led to the strike.
The Secretary of State has all the information he needs. I make this plea to him now: let him be courageous when he speaks at the Dispatch Box. Let him tell not only the teachers of Scotland, but parents and the whole Scottish nation, that he is now prepared to drop the whole idea of dilution. Instead, let him operate the recommendations of the Knox Committee on bursaries, on pensions, on dependants and on adequate rewards to graduates during their period of teacher-training. If he is a wise man, and if he is big enough in stature, he will not hesitate to do that today. If he has the interests of Scottish education at heart, as Scottish teachers and many others have, he will not be afraid to do what I am asking him to do.
I now want to say a few words on salaries. The Secretary of State's action in rejecting out of hand the salary recommendations of the National Joint Council has caused great dismay, especially since one of the reasons he gave was that the Government were not prepared to meet the cost of an 18 per cent. increase. Because of the need to counteract crime the Government moved with commendable speed to increase policemen's salaries and we were all delighted with that decision. But what sense of values have the Government when they do not realise that if this nation wishes to produce educated, cultured, and responsible men and women, who will abhor crime, it must be willing to meet the cost? That is all I want to say about salaries.
I now turn to the question of the school building programme. In 1958, 663 the Government published a White Paper called, "Education. The Next Step". Paragraph 8 says:The most urgent requirement is to make available to all the widest possible range of secondary courses adequately staffed by suitably qualified teachers and with buildings and equipment that satisfy modern standards.These are laudable objectives, which would have the support of all those who are interested in education. Paragraph 19 says:They will be asked to put work in hand as rapidly as possible on the modernisation or replacement of schools, whether primary or secondary, that are out-of-date and unsuitable for modern requirements.Some local education authorities believed that the Secretary of State really meant what he said in that White Paper. I am sure that other hon. Members will be dealing with what has happened in their areas; I want to refer to what has happened in the area of the Lanarkshire education authority. This authority prepared a school building programme for 1960–65—as asked for by the Secretary of State—employing more architects and doing everything possible to streamline its buildings. The programme, which was presented to the Scottish Education Department, although it did not overtake all that was outlined in the White Paper, would have cost about£16 million.
The authority was shocked to learn that its share of the general grant for educational building would be only between£6½million and£7 million, which was less than one-half of what was considered necessary to do not even all that the Secretary of State had said that he was ready to do, according to the 1958 White Paper. The education authority then had a meeting with the Joint Under-Secretary of State. It obtained no satisfaction whatever from that meeting. The Joint Under-Secretary's own teacher constituents met him, and they were so disgusted with his attitude that they walked out of the meeting and left him.
Many of the schemes which were contained in that programme have had to be postponed until far into the future. In one area alone the building of one primary school and a large extension to another have simply been taken right out of the programme. In the same area there is a joint primary and secondary school which is in a shocking condition. 664 I hope that the Secretary of State is listening to my description of these conditions. I have visited the school. In one primary room there is accommodation—shown on the board which states how many should be in the room—for 28. The number of children being educated in that class is 48. Of course, there are never 48 children in the class; many are off with colds and influenza and all the other illnesses which are bred by germs. Not only is their health being affected, but their education is being seriously retarded. In another room, with accommodation for 26, there are 48. There is no provision in the whole of that primary school for physical training. There are no inside lavatories. There are four hand washbasins for 300 primary pupils.
When we go into the secondary part of that school building we find that it is just a thing of shreds and patches. The central hall, which is not big, is used for physical training. Imagine five teachers in five classrooms, round that hall, trying to teach secondary pupils when their teaching is constantly interrupted by the din from the physical training in the hall. There is one art room with a stone floor—nothing but a stone floor and brick walls for two art teachers and 320 pupils. There is one solitary science laboratory for 320 pupils.
That is the kind of building in 1961 in which the children a few miles from the great City of Glasgow are supposed to be educated. It is because of the Government's despicable meanness that the provision of a new school to replace this shambles has been cut out of the programme. Every one of my hon. Friends, and many hon. Members opposite, if they have taken the trouble to examine their own schools, could duplicate that description of a school. How do these conditions match the fine words of the White Paper? How do they match these words in paragraph 18:A basic condition of any further educational advance is that those who work in our schools should be provided with satisfactory physical conditions and with the kind of accommodation and equipment they need in order to perform their duties efficiently"?The Secretary of State, by White Papers and by announcements, is pretending to Scotland that everything in the garden of Scottish education is 665 lovely. I condemn a Government who prattle idly about good conditions when, at the same time, they force teachers and pupils to continue in the deplorable conditions which I have described. These conditions are certainly a deterrent to teacher recruitment.
I want to turn for a short time to technical education. This is a very serious matter, and is causing great concern to almost everyone who cares for young people—except, it seems, the Secretary of State. In 1962, there will be an increase of school-leavers, over the 1960 figures, of about 26,000 in Scotland. That represents a 35 per cent. increase. What are their prospects of employment of any kind, far less of worthwhile jobs? What are their prospects for future education? All the signs are that in both of those fields the prospects are poor.
I cannot deal with their prospects of employment, Sir Gordon, or you would rule me out of order, but I will deal with their prospects for education and training. The majority of those boys and girls will come from junior secondary schools. These are the pupils who have suffered more than any other from the blight of uncertificated teachers. In one junior secondary school in my constituency nine out of a staff of 22 at present are uncertificated—41 per cent.
I see from the Secretary of State's smile that his only answer to uncertification is not to implement all the recommendation of the Knox Committee, but to use non-graduate teachers. I hope that I have said sufficient to show how we might get graduates. In this one junior secondary school 41 per cent. of the teachers are uncertificated. In the sessions from 1955 until 1961 there have been 34 uncertificated teachers, and usually the figure is nine or ten.
These children, among others in junior secondary schools in particular, have been denied their birthright of good education. Their chance of any good further education is slight. If we look at the day-release figures for young workers we find that from 1956 to 1959 there were about 11 per cent. of the young workers on day-release. Tragically, in 1960 the figure has fallen below 11 per cent. Are the Government satisfied with those figures? If not, what are they doing about it?
666 In a debate in the Scottish Grand Committee in December my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), in a most constructive speech, outlined for the Government a plan to cope with this serious situation. Are the Government following up those suggestions or are they sitting back complacently, as they usually do, hoping that by 1962 and in the years which follow the problem will be solved for them by the emigration of our good people from Scotland? Many hon. Members saw in the Press yesterday that over 30,000 workers left Scotland last year. The majority did not want to leave, but lack of employment and economic circumstances forced them to do so. Are the Government proud of this sad state of affairs? If they are not proud, what do they intend to do about it?
Many people have criticised the lack of provision for technical and further education. Sir Andrew Fleck, in a speech, made the general point that industrial leadership in Scotland was far less satisfactory than it was in England. At the same meeting there was a speech by the deputy-chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, speaking about day-release, in which he said that in England, let alone in countries overseas, they were far ahead in willingness and encouragement on the part of industry and commerce. Surely the Secretary of State will pay heed to the words of those eminent men if he pays no heed to what we say on this side of the Committee.
It must be clear even to the right hon. Gentleman that industry is failing our young people miserably. The time is over-ripe when the Government should be making provision for the training for skills of our boys and girls. Let the Secretary of State be courageous in this matter. Let him, the Government and Scotland take the lead in following up a plan whereby the Government provide the training for skills which industry is not providing. There would be difficulty even in that, because the Government have been so laggard in the provision of technical colleges and schools that even if they were seized of the need they would find Government intervention difficult.
In 1956, with much blaring of trumpets, the Secretary of State announced a£10 million programme 667 over the next five years for the building of technical colleges and schools. In the debate in December, 1960, when the five-year period had almost expired, we had this from the Secretary of State:I have taken an extremely close interest in the technical college building programme and I confess that at one stage I began to wonder whether we would not be missing the bus so far as the bulge of school leavers was concerned. It is true that so far under this programme only two comparatively small new centres have been opened, those at Thurso and Inverness, and that the total of new work completed is still less than£1 million."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 1st December, 1960; c. 11.]Almost at the end of the five years, the total of work completed was less than£1 million. I wonder what would have happened to that programme if the Secretary of State had not taken the close interest of which he told us.
This is a disgraceful performance on the part of the Government. It is no use their telling us that added to the£10 million we have another£6 million, making the total up to£16 million, if the colleges are not being opened to take in the pupils. Will the Secretary of State tell us today what he will do to speed up this programme for technical colleges and schools? The whole of our education programme in Scotland is being stunted for the lack of money, just as in the dreadful days of depression young children were stunted physically. Under this Government, they will be stunted mentally.
From a report of U.N.E.S.C.O. we find that the Soviet Union is spending£37 per head of its population on education; the U.S.A.£33 per head; France£12 per head; and Britain, with all its affluence,£9 per head of population.
The priorities of the Government are deplorable and wrong. Their philosophy is reprehensible. A Government that can find over£60 million for relief in taxation for the wealthy while, at the same time, denying thousands of children a worthwhile education, is a shameful Government. I hope that by the end of this day's debate, not only will there be criticism and constructive suggestions from this side, but that hon. Members opposite will be aroused, as we are, to fight for the birthright of Scottish children.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John Maclay)
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has made a speech to which I have listened with great attention and the detail of which I will consider when I read it afterwards. I want to think carefully about some of the hon. Lady's suggestions and I will certainly do so. Having held office herself, however, she must realise that in the case of practically every one of her criticisms and suggestions, nothing is as simple as she makes it out to be. It cannot be. The hon. Lady knows that very well.
The hon. Lady began with the interesting question of resignation. One of the remarkable recurrent phenomena of my time as Secretary of State is that throughout that period I have received advice from a surprising variety of people as to the disposal of my body on one ground or another. An even more interesting situation arises from the Order Paper, because the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) have combined to say that my Vote should be reduced, and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire says that I ought to go. I can only feel that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire is more unkind, because he wants to starve me out, whereas his hon. Friend wants to get me clean out in one movement. I have heard many views about resignation. There are two people who can determine when that happens. One is the Prime Minister and the other, myself.
No responsible person can fail bitterly to regret that we are today debating education in Scotland while a very large number of children are being deprived of their normal schooling. Let me make it clear forthwith that I consider the strike a tragedy, and an unnecessary one at that. [An hon. Member: "Why did the right hon. Gentleman cause it."] The future of Scotland's education cannot be settled in an atmosphere of coercion. The issues at stake are not short-term issues. On what happens in the next few months and years a pattern will take shape on which will depend the standard of education of Scottish children for many years to come.
I strongly urge that in all our thinking we should never for one minute lose 669 sight of the object of all education, which is to give the children of our nation the best possible equipment for living in, and making their contribution to, the highly complex world of the future.
I should have liked to devote the whole of my speech to a dispassionate analysis of the broad problems with which Scottish education is faced, but I am bound to deal at some length with the origins, causes and course of the present dispute. In spite of repeated efforts to make clear to the maximum number of people, including the leaders of the teachers' organisations, the nature of the discussions about the possibility of employing non-graduate men teachers, and in spite of every effort to explain the functions of the National Joint Council and the Secretary of State's statutory relation to it, I greatly regret that there still appear to be profound misunderstandings. I must use this opportunity to clear them up.
The hon. Lady said in her speech that salaries were not the issue of the strike. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is true."] The hon. Lady says that of her own responsibility, because she knows very well that the ultimatum with which I was presented had two prongs to it.
Before I go into the detail of what has happened recently, I must put the present position in proper perspective. In Scotland, in the second half of the century, we are going through something of a revolution, industrially, socially and in the improved standard of living that is now possible for virtually every citizen. Revolutions have sometimes been called glorious, but they have never been comfortable. It would be astonishing if all these changes could go on without disturbance and heart-searching of the kind in which we are involved. This should be no cause for gloom. It should rather be seized upon as a period of opportunity and of ferment of ideas leading to lasting progress.
Education is all-important in the general scene and some of the problems that we are up against are common to every civilised country. Everywhere, educational facilities are being expanded. We have doubled our university population since before the war and we are planning to increase it by a further two-thirds within the next ten years. We are 670 also expanding our central institutions so that they will play their full part along with the universities in increasing the output of scientists and technologists. At the less advanced levels we are providing a network of local technical colleges to support the technicians and craftsmen.
At the school stage, the Government have reaffirmed their intention to raise the school-leaving age. [An HON. MEMBER: "When?"] Until that is practicable, we are encouraging as many able pupils as possible, and with considerable success, to remain at school beyond the present leaving age.
On the teacher side, while the schools population has risen by 13.7 per cent. since before the war, the number of certificated teachers has increased by 24.8 per cent. It would be absurd to contend that such developments on so wide a front have been or will be achieved without strain, or that progress in every direction has been as good as we could have wished. But we must remember—and no Secretary of State is ever likely to forget it—that education, no matter how important, is one of a number of services all competing for the available resources and all with claims which on their merits command strong public support.
At present, the availability of teachers is our acute problem, but shortage of teachers is something which is affecting every civilised country and is itself only one aspect of the general shortage of educated manpower that has arisen from the need to man the many services that are essential in a modern expanding society. Shortages of this kind inevitably lead to stress and discontent and it is to this that our present discords are, understandably, due. I understand the job of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North. She is in opposition. She has to look for everything wrong and press it as hard as she can. It is a proper thing to do in opposition and I have done it myself.
But let there be no doubt that we have made great forward strides in education since the war. We have had to meet the heavy pressure on the schools due to the high post-war birthrate, a pressure which will reach its peak this year. New schools and extensions needed as a result of the bulge and the needs of the many new 671 housing areas are now well on the way to being provided. No less than half the total school population now uses new accommodation with modern standards.
Far from relaxing our efforts we have undertaken to spend on school building in the next five years about£65 million, compared with£44 million spent in the preceeding five years. The hon. Lady spoke at length about the situation in Lanarkshire. I think that she knows that there have been meetings on this subject, but I have by no means been convinced that Lanarkshire had cause to suspend its building in the way it has.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Charles Royle)
If the Minister does not give way, hon. Members must not continue to stand.
§ Mr. Maclay
I was saying that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) must not interrupt and then expect me to make a rational and careful speech on this subject.
On the educational side, we have done a great deal of work, as hon. Members know, on the detailed contents of courses both in primary and secondary schools, aimed at meeting, so far as is practicable, the individual and vocational needs of the modern pupil. There is a gratifying increase in the numbers of children completing secondary courses of all kinds before leaving school, and the number of candidates for the Scottish Leaving Certificate has risen in the last five years by 43 per cent.
In technical education, the£16 million programme is well under way and while we are waiting for the new buildings to be completed—with, I agree, some disappointments in speed and timing—there are many other developments. Hon. Members opposite must appreciate that practically all the delays and difficulties 672 have arisen from planning and site problems and I do not think that they would argue that we should ride over procedures worked out over the years in order to determine with fairness to everybody the planning problems involved in siting this type of building.
I am always watching and doing what I can. In preparing plans for such buildings there is a danger of the ideal being the enemy of the good, and we have been held up sometimes by over-meticulousness. The work is going on extremely effectively, but while we are waiting for the completion of these buildings there are many other developments in the provision of courses suited to the whole range from semi-skilled operatives up to technologists of honours degree standard. We have, of course, the problem of day-release to master and a great deal of work is being done on this.
Nothing that I have said can be taken as showing any sign of stagnation in education. The shortage of teachers and the related discontents are themselves in large measure a product of the educational advances that I have described. They are the result not of a failure to increase supply, but of a greatly increased demand. The number of teachers employed in public and grant-aided schools in Scotland in October, 1960, had risen to 36,300 compared with 34,700 in 1956 and about 29,000 before the war.
I have said all this now because I consider it to be essential to see our immediate problems in the proper perspective of real progress over the whole educational field. A great deal more remains to be done and our attention ought to be concentrated from now onwards on continuing study of how to improve, adapt and bring into line with modern needs a system which has served us well in the past, which cannot remain static, and which must be the best that we can devise to meet the needs of the future.
§ Miss Herbison
The right hon. Gentleman said that a great deal was being done about day-release. We consider that it would be a courtesy on his part to say what is being done.
§ Mr. Maclay
We have discussed this matter in many debates recently. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will give the details in winding up the debate. I have a long speech to deliver 673 and I ought not to let myself be diverted into dealing with one issue, which is important but which can be dealt with later.
The whole background which I have described is one against which I must now discuss recent events. The House had an opportunity on 30th March of debating on the Adjournment the situation caused by the threat of some teachers in Glasgow to strike. I was able then to explain briefly what had happened up to that time. At the risk of repeating some of what I then said, I must give a fuller explanation of the course of events and of my reasons for not meeting the teachers' demands.
I must stress that the strike was caused—and let there be no mistake about this—because I was not prepared to accede to two demands made in the first instance by a mass meeting of teachers in Glasgow. They declared that they would go on strike on 8th May unless, by 1st May, two things had happened. First, I was to announce my abandonment of what they called "suggestions involving dilution of the profession", and secondly, an increase in salary acceptable to the profession was to be negotiated. The dates involved were chosen, it would appear, quite arbitrarily, and much of our immediate trouble comes from these arbitrary dates laid down by one section of one of the teachers' organisations.
I shall deal with salaries in due course, but I will first explain what is involved in the first demand, which even now does not seem to be fully understood. Last June, my Department embarked on a complete review of teacher-training, the first of its kind since 1931, when the present regulations on the training of teachers were first made. To start it off, a memorandum was circulated to a large number of bodies—teachers' associations, universities, local authorities, churches, training authorities and others—indicating all the main questions which it seemed necessary to consider.
The memorandum asked the views of all these bodies on a wide range of questions. One of the questions was whether we should maintain the requirement, traditional in Scotland since 1926, that men teachers of general subjects in primary and secondary schools must be university graduates; or whether, as an alternative, new courses could or 674 should be devised in the colleges of education which would provide both training and personal education.
There was no suggestion—and I do not think that hon. Members think that there was, but a great many people outside seem to think so—that non-graduate men teachers should be "unqualified" or "uncertificated" or "untrained" teachers. They would be teachers who, like the very many admirable women teachers in our primary schools, had taken a three-year, or perhaps a four-year, course combining general education and training carried out entirely in a college of education instead of three years at a university followed by a single year of professional training. In this argument about graduates do not let us lose sight of the quite admirable services rendered by non-graduate women who have done so much in the past for Scottish education. It is, of course, an open question how far men of equal ability would be available.
I have explained many times in recent weeks that the fact that opinions were sought on this question most certainly did not mean that it was a proposal for definite action. I was very sorry that the hon. Lady took the line that it was tantamount to a proposal for definite action, and when she says that people do not trust the Secretary of State for Scotland, I wonder what was done by her or anyone else to persuade some of those who had been led into this mistrust that these were not positive proposals but suggestions for discussion. I regret very much that the teachers have chosen to disregard my statements.
It is indeed normal practice to undertake consultations on possible courses of action without first being committed to them. This was precisely the course followed in the first part of the review of training, to which the hon. Lady referred, which was concerned with the system of administration, when in 1955 a Memorandum similar to the one we have all heard so much about was issued in exactly the same way.
I do not intend to labour the point that I was not, in the Memorandum, proposing dilutionary or any other measures. Let me say in passing, however, that while the views of the bodies were sought on whether non-graduate men teachers should be employed, they 675 were also sought on the question whether all teachers should in future be graduates.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Why does the Secretary of State pose this question to all these other bodies, when he had a very specific reply from the Knox Committee only two years earlier on this proposal?
§ Mr. Maclay
As I develop my speech, the hon. Member will understand why, I propose to deal with that matter at some length. Let me make this absolutely clear. When the Memorandum was issued I had not made up my mind on the pros and cons of the matter, and I have yet to make up my mind. The Memorandum was issued in June and written comments on it continued to be received until February this year. In January we began the series of detailed discussions which were necessary to give the various bodies the opportunity to explain and amplify their written observations.
A total of thirty-seven bodies had been consulted but many, in order to save time, combined in the discussions, which were completed in eighteen meetings, the last on 28th April. While these were in progress, the mass meeting of Glasgow teachers took place on 27th March, when the date of 1st May was fixed as the deadline by which I must announce my abandonment of all consideration of the non-graduate question. What were the implications of this demand and why did I refuse to accede to it?
As I had not made any definite proposal, the demand from the Glasgow teachers was a demand, not to abandon the proposal—if it had been this, one could at least have understood it—but a demand to give up an examination of facts and expert educational opinion and, regardless of the merits of the matter, to think no more about it.
The normal processes of discussion were to be completely muzzled. I certainly could not accept such a wholly unreasonable demand or agree to adopt so unreasonable a method of dealing with such a very important question. This is really the crux of the matter. Whatever may have happened since the teachers made their original demands, these demands still stand as the grounds 676 on which the strike was called. I am certain, whatever the merits of the issue in question, that no Minister of any party could allow himself to be forced to take his decisions in the way the Glasgow teachers have sought to impose. This is not a question of pride. It is a question of responsible administration.
Within this principle, I have done everything I could to clear up misunderstandings and allay any misplaced fears. Let me explain briefly the course of events. On 22nd March I met office-bearers of the three main teachers' associations. I gave them explicit assurances that I had formed no opinion on the question and would not do so until all the arguments had been heard. I said, moreover, that if I were to reach even tentative conclusions, I would arrange to discuss these further with them before I made definite proposals in draft regulations, and that these, as hon. Members know, would themselves, in turn, be subject to comment and amendment.
Although I am bound not to reveal what was said in confidential discussions, I think it fair to say that the assurances I gave appeared to me to be satisfactory to the office-bearers. But when I again met them at their request on 10th April, they told me that they had been completely unable to persuade their Glasgow members to accept them.
At a somewhat later stage, I learned of disquiet among some teachers lest I should rush proposals through during the summer holidays. I made it clear that there was no question of this and that, if need be, the further discussions would continue into the autumn. Again, this did not influence the teachers' attitude.
I have given the House this history to make it clear that I have done everything possible to allay the teachers' fears. The one thing that I was not prepared to do was to take a serious decision, which could affect Scottish education for years ahead, in a hurried and irresponsible manner and without even being in possession of all the facts on which that decision should be based.
I am now coming to the hon. Member's point. In doing so, I turn to the main subject matter of the controversy. In what I am about to say I am not arguing 677 for or against the question of college-trained men; but it really is essential to make it clear that there are two sides to the question, because it is a question which has a major bearing on the future of education.
The population of our secondary schools has changed in a most marked fashion since the war. Many less able pupils who formerly ended their education in the primary school now receive a secondary education. That is a very good thing indeed, but it raises the question of what they should be taught and how they should be taught it.
If they are to be educated according to their ability and aptitude, the academic subjects, standards and approach which are proper to the senior secondary schools must be radically varied. This is not to say that the task of the teachers is any easier or that less skilful teachers are required. Indeed, the task is one of the most difficult facing us at present. It has been suggested in the series of discussions that something in the nature of social education is needed. It is not simply a question of teaching subjects; it is one of so educating the average or below-average child that he can adapt himself to the extremely complicated society he will enter when he leaves school.
This is a highly-skilled task and one for which the academic education given in the universities—admirable as that is for its own purposes—may not be the most suitable. The normal university course is obviously an admirable academic training. But the question has to be considered whether it is the best preparation for meeting the needs of the large school-leaving population to which I have referred. At the moment, within the short course of professional training, the potential teacher has to learn a new way of thought, a new approach, centred on the child rather than on the academic content of the subject. Some hold strongly that under the present arrangements this is either only partially achieved, or not achieved at all.
It may be, of course, that consideration should also be given to some adaptation of university courses in parallel with changes in our training arrangements. That is an issue which goes beyond my immediate responsibilities, 678 but if our further consideration of this whole question suggests that it should be pursued, I hope that the universites will be willing to join in discussions to see how far university and training college courses might be related one to another.
The questions which must therefore be asked are these: is the traditional academic preparation still the only, or even the best, preparation for all the kinds of teacher we need? Is it possible that a more suitable training could be evolved for some men and women which would be planned with the needs of the schools in mind? Could new courses be created—and I stress that they would be new courses—in which the colleges of education would take the student's own education to as high a level as possible—higher than they do at present—but always having in mind the content required by the schools and always with due attention to the problems of teaching? Could courses of this kind, possibly organised with co-operation from the universities and possibly lasting for four years, produce as effective teachers of the non-literary, non-academic pupils as the university courses do? Because it was different, would this be "dilution", the substitution of an inferior article, or could the training be different without being lower in standard or quality? All those are questions which we felt must be thrashed out, and our discussions so far show that there is a genuine division of opinion about them.
The teachers' associations hold strongly to the view that no change should be made. They say that to accept qualifications other than university degrees would be to dilute the profession, to lower its status and to produce inferior teachers. They argue that possession of a university degree is essential as a guarantee of a certain desirable measure of intellectual ability, and they fear that if college-trained men were admitted to the profession, its status would be lowered and the result would be that graduates themselves would be reluctant to enter it.
They think, moreover, that no young men would be attracted to teaching on these terms, that there would be no prospects of advancement for them, and that it is an error to assume that the teaching of less able pupils can be entrusted to 679 less able teachers. They point to the fact that the Knox Committee, which reported two years ago, specifically rejected the question, with only one dissentient, and they claim that, in the light of that definite verdict, it is wrong to raise the matter again.
These are important arguments and I have assured the teachers time and time again that I will give due weight to their opinions. All I have been saying is that on educational grounds alone there is a good case for having a careful look at our existing practice and considering whether it is still the best suited to present needs. Certainly it is not possible, in my view, to say, as the teachers have said, that there are no grounds for even considering the matter in a general review of teacher training and that it ought to be summarily dismissed.
I turn now to the problem of the supply of teachers, the other main ground for considering whether we should continue to stick to existing practice. As things are just now, education authorities estimate that they need some 3,700 more teachers than are in service, merely to fill vacancies, reduce oversized classes to present permitted maxima, and replace uncertificated teachers and re-employed retired teachers over 70.
If we look to the current recruitment, it might be thought that prospects are reasonably good, for the profession is attracting more and more teachers of all categories into its ranks. The number who entered training in the current session is some 41 per cent. above the number four years ago. Within that figure the number of university graduates has risen by some 35 per cent. That is very good progress and I have been interested to note the views recently expressed by the Educational Institute of Scotland that, with "teachers by the thousand", there are good prospects of overcoming the shortage. Is this entirely in line with the argument that the profession is unattractive?
Unfortunately, I do not find it possible to be quite so optimistic. Even if the very high rate of recruitment is maintained, and even if it is increased as a result of university expansion—and there must be a point beyond which the claims of the profession for manpower must run up against the needs of other pro- 680 fessions—there is a number of factors which will vastly increase the demand for teachers, which is the answer to what the hon. Lady was asking about the difference between now and the period of the Knox Report.
Greatly increased numbers of pupils are staying on after 15. A new bulge is now entering primary schools, which, at its peak, will be as large as the present bulge. Then there is the greatly increased "wastage" of women teachers through marriage. This loss, amounting to almost 60 per cent. within the first five or six years of service—and this earlier age of marriage is a relatively recent phenomenon—largely nullifies the increased recruitment.
But those are not the only factors increasing the demand for teachers. Looking further ahead, we have the prospect that in the next ten years there will be greatly increased retirements of graduate men teachers. Moreover, the Government have affirmed their intention to raise the school leaving age to 16 in due course and, in the meantime, to give first priority to the reduction in size of classes beyond the present maximum. Besides all that, further education will require many more teachers. There must, accordingly, in future be many pressures on the staffing of both primary and secondary schools. We do not yet know how many additional teachers these developments will require. Nor do we know what contribution the universities will be able to make by way of increased output of graduates.
These matters will be more clear when the Committee on Supply, which is at present sitting, reports on the needs of the next few years. It should do so in a matter of weeks. But it is unquestionable that all these factors will require a further great expansion in the intake to a profession which, in the United Kingdom as a whole, already employs about one-third of the graduate population—in Scotland about half of the graduate population.
It may be correct to assume, as the teachers do, that recruitment is now so good that the shortage will be overcome in a matter of years. For my part, I am certain that those who make this assumption do so without detailed information to back their conclusions, for it should be noted—and this is the answer to the hon. Member for Glasgow, 681 Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern)—that the Knox Committee's target of 930 graduates a year was based on 1957 supply figures and did not take account of the developments which I have outlined. I am equally certain that this grave problem is one to be considered not in an emotional, partisan manner, but responsibly and dispassionately. Above all, it is not one to be decided hurriedly, under coercion, and before the facts are available.
I now turn to salaries. I have been attacked for an astonishing variety of reasons, some of which have contradicted each other, for my rejection of the recommendation of the National Joint Council. In the first place, I must make my statutory position clear. Under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946, I must have regard to the recommendations of the N.J.C. before making salaries regulations, but I am not bound to accept them. On nearly all previous occasions I have been able to accept the Council's recommendations with, at most, minor amendments. But on this occasion I could not, for the reasons which I gave in Answers to Questions in the House on 18th and 26th April, and which I shall develop in greater detail later this afternoon.
Some of those who admit that I can legitimately reject a recommendation of the N.J.C. have nevertheless asserted that my decision to do so has made a "mockery of the principle of free negotiation"—a phrase which has been widely used. I find it hard to understand that the E.I.S., which must be fully aware of my statutory position and which, as recently as April, 1960, endorsed the negotiating machinery, could really believe that Secretaries of State would in all cases merely rubber stamp the recommendations of the Council. I am sorry to have to go into this matter, but so much has been said that I must correct the misunderstanding.
It cannot seriously be maintained that the Minister who is responsible to Parliament for the greater part of the money spent on teachers' salaries and for the staffing of the schools and recruitment to the teaching profession must automatically accept the recommendations put to him by the other two parties concerned. While I have been publicly charged by the President and 682 General Secretary of the E.I.S. with destroying the principle of free negotiation, I have also been publicly accused by the convenor of the Teachers' Panel on the National Joint Council—who is himself a leading member of the Glasgow branch of the Institute—of allowing negotiations with the Council to proceed without interfering at an early stage to make it clear that I could not accept the recommendations for a uniform percentage increase such as had been asked for by the teachers. It gets a bit confusing, because, if I had done so, my action would have been completely contrary to all the established practice of the N.J.C. They cannot have it both ways; it does not make sense.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
While I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman is saying about his statutory position under the 1946 Act, does he not agree that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Education can only accept or reject Burnham recommendations and cannot amend them? Should not the right hon. Gentleman now be turning his thoughts to some amendment of the 1946 Act which would allow free negotiation and take from his shoulders this weight with which he is unduly burdened?
§ Mr. Maclay
The hon. Member, in his usual kindly way, is worried about the weight on my shoulders. He must be careful, because he may find himself in grave trouble between the E.I.S., the S.S.A. and the S.S.T.A. If we had not that kind of trouble we might not be in the mess that we are now. These are people whom I respect and want to work with closely, but many of the things they have said have been misunderstood and I must put them right.
The recent negotiations on the National Joint Council have been carried out against a background of strike threats. The President of the E.I.S., who, as I have indicated, accused me in an open letter to the Press of making a mockery of the principles of free negotiating procedure, was quoted in the Daily Mail of 3rd May as saying that it was the presence of "sanctions in the air" that had been responsible for…an offer of£6,500,000 from the other side.How free are negotiations carried out with "sanctions in the air"? He was 683 asked whether it was not right that the Government should have a say in teachers' pay, considering that the taxpayers pay 60 per cent. His answer was:I agree. Parliament must have something to do with it so long as some of our salaries comes from the Treasury. But we do want a scheme which will allow freely negotiated salaries to operate.I feel rather strongly about this. Here we have remarkable confusion of thought. Thousands of very respectable and responsible, decent people have come to the point of striking solely because of my inability to get through to them what the facts of the situation are and because of the failure of the leaders of the profession to explain the issues so that they could understand.
I turn now to my salary proposals, because they have a strong bearing on the future. The recommendations of the Joint Council were for a shortening of all scales—graduate scales to ten years and non-graduate scales to twelve years—plus a uniform percentage increase of all salaries of 12½per cent. This would not meet the needs of the situation and would not improve recruitment of the more highly-qualified teachers. Moreover, the total cost of the Council's proposals for school teachers employed by education authorities alone would have been£6,500,000 or 18 per cent. of the present salary bill, which was more than the Government could accept.
My proposals were deliberately intended to encourage recruitment of the better-qualified teachers. Education can get its share of our best graduates—I know this as well as Members opposite—only if it offers a reasonably attractive career to able young men and women. My proposals, therefore, offer the honours graduate the prospect of reaching a basic salary of£1,600 after ten years' service—that is to say, in his early thirties.
This compares with his present prospect of a salary of£1,400 a year after eighteen years. The maximum of the basic scale is, of course, not the most that he can expect to earn. It is in the early thirties that a good honours graduate can expect his first promotion. Under my proposals he can earn from£1,700 to£2,015 as principal teacher in a senior secondary school, and as headmaster 684 of a senior secondary school his salary may rise to as much as£3,060.
I am also anxious to give reasonable prospects to ordinary graduate teachers. For ordinary graduates, we propose scales of£680 to£1,225 after twelve years if they are teaching in primary schools, and£770 to£1,315 in the same period if they are teaching in secondary schools. The scale is longer by two years than that of the honours graduate but, of course, the training—at university and in the college of education—of an ordinary graduate takes a year less.
For ordinary graduates, too, the maximum of the basic scale is not by any means the most that they can hope to earn. Under my proposals an ordinary graduate, as principal teacher in a junior secondary school may earn between£1,380 and£1,515, as a headmaster in a primary school up to£1,900, and as a headmaster in a junior secondary school up to£2,430.
It is a little surprising that the teachers who argue for the increased recruitment of graduates and who accuse me of trying to staff schools on the cheap—that phrase has been used too often lately—object to salary proposals which are deliberately designed to attract the recruitment of the most highly-qualified teachers by paying them more.
Salary scales give only part of the picture. In trying to achieve the professional structure which the service requires, the pattern of increments is also important. Here, I have had in mind, in particular, two groups of teachers which raise special problems. I have already referred to what we call—rather unkindly, I think—the wastage of young women through marriage, as a result of which—despite the very high level of recruitment—we are doing little more than making good our losses each year. Another special problem is the financial strain on young married men teachers with family responsibilities, whose prospects on the present scales are not very encouraging for the professional man who has to bring up a family.
In an attempt to meet these problems, I have incorporated in the traditional regular pattern of annual increments a substantially higher rise after the fifth year. The purpose is to give career teachers, and, in particular, married men with young families, substantial annual 685 increments at the stage where this additional financial help is most needed. I also hope that it will encourage young women who are contemplating marriage, or who are already married, to stay on in the schools a year or two longer.
The National Joint Council criticises my proposals on the ground that relativities between the scales have been disturbed. But there is one important respect—the differential between honours and ordinary graduates in the secondary school—in which my proposals in fact restore a relativity established after the Report of the Appleton Committee, which has since been whittled away by successive salary awards. These are all difficult and intricate questions, and I am quite prepared to consider adjustment of my proposals in detail if I find, on examination, that there are grounds for doing so.
§ Mr. Maclay
The rise is 12½per cent.—an increase of£4,500,000.
There are, of course, other causes of the dissatisfaction felt by teachers. These include such matters as pensions for widows and dependants and dependants' allowances, the representation of teachers on education committees, the procedure adopted by education authorities in making appointments, and the provision of clerical or other assistance to enable teachers and headmasters to concentrate on what they regard as their appropriate professional duties.
All these matters were fully dealt with by the Knox Committee in its consideration of factors which were believed to make teaching a less attractive career than it might be. Many of these matters, of course, primarily concern the education authorities, as the teachers' employers, and I have done what I properly can to bring the Committee's recommendations to their attention where they affect them.
On certain points, such as the representation of teachers on education committees, and schemes for dependants' pensions and allowances, there are difficulties in relation to other staff employed by local authorities. But I am fully aware of the importance which the profession attaches to these matters, and I am anxious that they should not be lost sight 686 of in our present concern with our more immediate troubles. When the time comes to renew discussions with the teachers I will be very ready to look again at all these matters and to consider further, along with the education authorities, how far it is possible to go to find solutions.
§ Mr. Maclay
Many of these matters are extremely complicated, with very widespread implications. It is nothing like so easy as the hon. Lady made out in her speech.
I have gone at some length through the story of recent weeks, but in doing so I have tried not merely to assess the immediate dispute but to set it in the context of the long-term future of Scottish education, with the emphasis not only on the teachers but on the end product of the whole system, which is nothing less than the future of our country.
The decisions we take on major questions of education policy are not of passing importance. They should, if possible, meet the needs of the present situation, but they must also be designed to equip our education system for the job that lies ahead, both in this decade and beyond. It is in the light of these long-term considerations that we must face our problems of teacher recruiting, training, remuneration, and the whole content and nature of teaching.
On the immediate issue of non-graduate men teachers and salaries, my position is this: on non-graduate men teachers, I stand by my pledge to the teachers to have early discussions with them as soon as I have been able to consider the varied views which have been expressed and as soon as we have up-to-date information on supply and demand for teachers in the years ahead. I also stand by my pledge that, no matter how these discussions go, no firm proposal will be sprung upon the profession during the summer.
On salaries, I will work out in detail the proposals that I have outlined. In so doing, I shall give full weight to the views of the National Joint Council, but in fulfilment of the duties laid on me by Parliament I must have regard to the 687 extent of the demands on the national economy made by the cost of teachers' salaries, and I must also ensure that the money available is spent in such a way as to attract and give suitable remuneration to teachers with the qualifications that we most need.
What must be recognised is that our educational system rests on the partnership of the Government, the education authorities and teachers. Each partner has its own responsibilities and each has its own difficulties, but no partnership can work successfully without mutual understanding. That there has been a breakdown in that understanding in recent weeks, the situation that we are now in makes only too clear. But I am convinced that it need be no more than temporary. The essential thing is to restore the partnership to a basis of understanding. Confidence must be restored and that can be done only by frank and dispassionate discussion among the partners of their respective difficulties and objectives.
For my part, I have no intention of standing on dignity, but, equally, confidence cannot be restored by threats of coercive action. No hon. Member will expect me to be deflected by such threats from doing what I regard as my duty either on long-term problems or the immediate issues which confront me. I am ready to join with the other partners in considering dispassionately all those things which must be discussed and settled if Scottish education is to give to Scottish children the opportunities that they deserve in their own right and on which the future of our nation depends.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
If the Secretary of State could paint in oil the beautiful school scenes that he can paint in words, he could aspire to become President of the Royal Academy. Why are we having this debate if everything in the garden is so lovely? Why is it necessary for Labour Members to have Scottish education so frequently on the agenda if the story which the Secretary of State told us is correct?
§ Mr. Maclay
I want to make it quite clear that I did not paint a picture to the effect that everything in the garden 688 is lovely. I did very much the opposite. I said that there are many great problems ahead, but I tried to make clear that it was wrong to assume that everything was hopeless, since great progress is being made, although a great deal more has to be done.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I wish to put to the test shortly the progress which we are alleged to have made over the years.
I welcome this debate, because we want to find out where the Scottish education system, once so successful and honoured, has gone wrong. There is no doubt, as the Secretary of State admitted, that the greatest problem facing Scottish education is the recruitment of sufficient numbers of people of first-rate intellectual calibre to join our teaching staffs. This shortage of teachers has led to classes being grossly overcrowded. We have ceased teaching mathematics and science in certain secondary schools because of the shortage of qualified teachers in those subjects. We have had to put large numbers of pupils on half-time and part-time education.
If what the Secretary of State said is correct, and looking back over thirty years of active association with educational administration, why is it that in the year 1961 I receive petitions from parents in my constituency who, I am glad to say, are beginning to take an increasingly greater interest in matters affecting their children? I received a petition this morning in the following terms:We the undersigned are parents of pupils of Thorntree Primary School, Glasgow, E.2. We write in protest against the staffing position in the school where, since January, six out of the thirteen classes have been receiving only part-time education. Due to the acute shortage of teachers in the City, neither the Headmaster nor the Corporation of Glasgow can remedy the situation.Appended to the petition are 200 signatures of parents of children in that school.
As recently as March this year, 3,156 primary pupils and 1,370 secondary pupils were affected by part-time and half-time education. In view of this situation, how can the Secretary of State say that we are beginning to shape a pattern and that we are providing the best possible equipment in our schools? If the situation had arisen unexpectedly overnight, we could have a great deal 689 of sympathy with the position in which the right hon. Gentleman and the Scottish Education Department find themselves. But they have received repeated warnings over the past fifteen years that this situation was bound to arise. It is not good enough for the Secretary of State to say that nothing is as simple as we on this side have made it out to be. Surely in fifteen years someone could have devised a system whereby our schools could function normally and acceptably to the teaching profession and to the ratepayers.
I recall that almost thirty years ago we in the City of Glasgow rejected people who had the highest qualifications from the training colleges. We had such a surplus of teachers that we had the spectacle of people with chapter 5 qualifications teaching in the infant departments because they were so anxious to teach in our schools. How can the Secretary of State say that we have made progress, in view of the present acute shortage of teachers which has led to the difficulties that I have enumerated and many more?
Evidently, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he has a solution. If he has been having some sleepless nights recently, I confess that it may be due to the fact that, from a distance, I have been doing a little brainwashing. I have ben trying to discover the underlying reasons and motives which make him persist in saying that we have made progress despite all the information that he has received from various sources. He has had information from the Knox Committee and from the Scottish Council of Training Colleges in 1959, which reviewed teacher-training facilities at the right hon. Gentleman's request. The Council endorsed the views of the Knox Committee. Despite complaints concerning the methods of recruitment to the teaching profession, the right hon. Gentleman still persists that we have made progress.
I am sorry that the Minister of Education has left the Chamber. I believe that he is having a very bad influence upon our genial Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Yes, he is a genial fellow. Of that there is no doubt. He is erratic and misguided, but he is a genial fellow. I believe that our Secretary of State is peering too much over the Border. He has probably had impressed upon him that there are non-graduate male teachers south of the Border who hitherto have had only two years training in a training college. But, this year, the English Ministry, in its determination to improve the qualifications of teachers, has insisted that they must do three years in a training college. I predict that, in a very short time, five or ten years perhaps, England will go a step further and insist that all male teachers there, like those in Scotland, should be graduates. The fact is that the English themselves are determined to improve the standard of qualifications for the teacher.
There must have been something really extraordinary to force a body of dedicated men and women, whose forbearance and sense of duty cannot be matched by any other profession, to engage in a strike for the first time in the 114 years of their professional organisation's history. They do not engage in this sort of thing lightly. They must be disturbed by something which, despite all the assurances of the Secretary of State in the past, which he has repeated today, causes them to believe that the prospect of dilution is an ever-present danger.
In passing, I must say that Circular 466 is an ominous document. If it is necessary for the Scottish Department of Education to send out a circular in those terms telling education authorities what course they will have to take if strikes take place in their area, there must be something brewing. There must be an idea in the mind of the Scottish Education Department that because of a course of action which it might pursue, there may be further outbreaks of strike action in other parts of Scotland. I can see no other reason, if the Department wishes to be conciliatory, why it should see any need to issue such a circular to the authorities.
The Secretary of State referred to the number of graduates in Scottish schools. I wish to emphasise the percentages. In England, the percentage of graduates in 691 primary and secondary schools, including primary schools, is 18.3, almost one-fifth of the total. The similar percentage in Scotland is 45.2. In the primary schools of England, 3.9 per cent. of the teachers are graduates. In Scotland the percentage is 32.2.
The constant diminution in the number of our women teachers engaged in the three-year course is evidence of the fact that, although we have non-graduate women teachers, they regard their work in a different light. For them, it is not their profession; they always hope that they will do something else in a few years. For the males, on the other hand, it is their profession. The male teacher will spend his life there. It should not be argued that, because we already have non-graduate women, we should allow non-graduate males to enter the profession. The women teachers regard the work in an entirely different light.
The Scottish education system has developed during the last 400 years entirely on its own, on quite distinctive lines. It must continue to do so. The trouble is that we are becoming tied too much to the apron strings of the English system. I suspect that the Secretary of State hankers a little after this; he probably feels that we should follow the English in order to recruit the type of person he thinks would be better suited for the changing needs of the education to be provided in our schools. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has taken advice from senior officers of the Scottish Education Department who say that they also will depart from the standards they require for the admission to the higher branches of the service of people who are well versed in the new type of educational experience and who say that this will be the type of course they would like to see. Perhaps he will resist that to the bitter end, but it is necessary, so it seems, in order to give the proper bias to the type of education in which the Secretary of State apparently believes. I agree, of course, that there is a changing pattern and we must adapt the qualifications of the teacher instead of adapting the curriculum.
I am not against a revision of teacher training to meet the needs of education in the modern world. It is essential. But the first prerequisite is the recruit- 692 ment of the best qualified people to the profession, not a departure from that standard. As I said to the teachers in Glasgow, the medical profession allows specialisation in many forms, but there must be a basic medical qualification within which doctors can specialise. Similarly, in teaching, we must have a graduate profession so that, later, teachers may adapt themselves to whatever may be the special requirements of the branch of work in which they engage.
The Secretary of State, in speaking about salaries, included references to the top grade salaries after promotion. We ought to remember always that not many teachers will be able to obtain such promotion. In Glasgow, for example, where I know the figures best, we have roughly 8,000 teachers and 300 schools. Making a rough calculation, I suggest that only 7 per cent. of the teachers, perhaps, will ever reach the higher levels of promotion They will end their days on the maximum salary to which they are entitled in their category.
§ Mr. Rankin
Does my hon. Friend recall that some of those 300 schools have been put out of the reach of men altogether in order to give women their chance to become headmistresses of smaller schools?
§ Sir M. Galpern
That is quite right. It is necessary that we should give them some consideration. I entirely agree with the observation of my hon. Friend.
The Secretary of State raised a great many points, and it is quite impossible for me to touch on them all in the time available this afternoon because many hon. Members are anxious to enter the debate. Before I leave the subject of dilution. I must say this. The Secretary of State is doubtful about what he calls the threat of the blackmail programme presented to him before the teachers went on strike. If he cared now to announce that the proposals for the dilution of the teaching profession by the introduction of non-graduate males would be withdrawn by him, the reaction would, I am sure, surprise him. The teachers would be back tomorrow morning in their schools. All he has to do is to try that and see what happens.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I believe that the telegrams are all ready to go out in case the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to say that this afternoon. I am sure that the salaries can be negotiated, but I am convinced that the teachers are determined to safeguard the interests of the children under their care. They are entitled to respect and support in the stand they make.
I turn now to another aspect of education in Scotland. The Secretary of State referred to the change in the pattern of social education. I agree with him wholeheartedly. There is a great and challenging task to be undertaken in our junior secondary schools. The comprehensive school has to some extent—although it is still too soon to say—counteracted some of the inherent weaknesses and difficulties in the purely junior secondary school which stands in isolation in our educational system. But it still remains the fact that there are powerful opposing elements, in the shape of television, the Press and the cinema, which, to a large extent, undo the good work of the teachers.
When I refer to social education I mean a system enabling children to live together as a community to prepare for the wider world outside. We are becoming more and more a community of individuals having to respect the wishes of others so that we can live in peace. In the field of residential education we have an opportunity to achieve precisely what I believe is lacking in the non-academic type of curriculum in our comprehensive or junior secondary schools.
According to the latest figures in the Department's Report on Education in Scotland, there are 19 education authorities which send 15,462 normal children from primary and secondary schools for short periods of residential education. In Glasgow, we have several such establishments to which, because of the smallness of the numbers which they can accommodate we can only send children for a period of four weeks at a time. We transport them to these places with their teachers and they carry on their normal education. I have heard from many teachers, and from pupils who have experienced these short periods of residential education, that it was the finest thing in the whole of their educational life.
694 Teachers have said that they elicited and understood more about the facets of their pupils during these residential periods than during perhaps forty years which they had spent in classrooms. We have Glenmore Lodge, where we send pupils for a period of a month. There is Moray Sea School and there are educational tours to the Border for pupils at junior secondary schools which last for a week. There have been most beneficial results from them.
I am thinking, however, more of something which we had during the war and the period of evacuation, an establishment known as Cally House, in the South of Scotland, to which we evacuated secondary school pupils from all over the West of Scotland. There we conducted one of the most successful experiments in residential education which we have ever had. A former pupils' club met regularly, and an excellent type of citizen was produced. I should like to see this idea extended. It would cost a lot of money, but I think that we ought to do it.
When one looks for the people in the van of educational development one must look to the U.S.S.R., just as the rest of the world once used to look to Scotland as the leading country in educational development. In the U.S.S.R. we find that in the last five years 2,700 boarding schools have been built and more than 600,000 children are living and studying in these schools. In addition, the number of boarding school pupils is to be raised by 1965 to 2,500,000, and boarding schools are to be given top priority. I wonder what is the reason for this spectacular development of residential education in that country. If we cannot get an answer to that I wish we could study the results. We see the tremendous and spectacular strides which have been made during a decade or two in education and educational establishments.
I wish to plead with the Secretary of State to appreciate forthwith that the teachers who are out on this demonstration strike in Glasgow would fully understand assurances about his intentions. I wish that he could have seen them as we saw them on Monday morning, 4th May, on probably one of the worst mornings from the weather Point of view that one could experience in May. They are not people who need 695 to be told precisely what is meant by words. But they can interpret and anticipate the result of a course of action. They fear—I am sorry to say that I also subscribe to that fear—that there is in the mind of the Secretary of State for Scotland a view, which has been placed there by his advisers in the Scottish Education Department, that Scotland should do the same as England—have non-graduate male teachers.
If the right hon. Gentleman would give them an assurance about that—he could find many formulae for making it in the Knox Committee's Report—I am quite sure that the former happy relationship between the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Education Department and the teaching profession in Scotland would speedily be restored. I am quite sure that all the other outstanding problems, difficult as they may be, would be resolved without recourse to strike action. But this one item, the proposal to dilute the teaching profession, is something which teachers in Scotland will never accept.
I recall the words of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when addressing a conference in London at the end of last year. He said that the teaching profession was in the front line of the battle to win the hearts and minds of future generations of Britain for faith and creed. Let the actions of the Secretary of State for Scotland show that he passionately shares that point of view.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Sir James Henderson-Stewart (Fife, East)
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison). I regard this as a lamentable moment in the history of Scottish education. That 5,000 teachers, as we have heard, in 100 schools in the commercial capital of Scotland should have left their classrooms and have abandoned, if only for a week, 130,000 children, is surely one of the sorriest episodes in the long cultural history of our country.
I feel the deepest shock about the whole business. I did not think that such a thing could have happened at all, or that it could happen in a profession which, hitherto, I have honoured and respected. What troubles me most is that 696 I cannot explain to myself the reason for the calamitous affair. How has this situation come about?
As the Committee knows, I was for a number of years, and not so long ago, in charge of education in Scotland, under the Secretary of State. Frankly, I never found it an easy assignment, nor was it at any time free from anxiety. For one was dealing, as hon. Members can well imagine, not with dry-as-dust theories or paper problems, but with human beings, with teachers and their organisations, local authorities, directors of education, children and parents. Those were the people with whom one was in daily immediate contact.
None of those groups—they were many and diverse—was easy to handle. That was my experience. They were all strongly individualistic and they all clung tenaciously to their views and ideas. Of course, I do not claim any personal credit for this—the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) understands what I mean by that—but I must tell the Committee that never in those years did I experience other than courtesy, consideration, kindness—I would almost go as far as to say friendship—from those with whom I was in contact. I include the hon. Member for Shettleston among them, because he and I worked together very amicably over a number of years.—[Interruption.]
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Harry Legge-Bourke)
It would be helpful if the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) would rise if he wishes to interrupt. Then we could see if the hon. Member who is speaking gives way to him.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
There was certainly at that time—again the hon. Member for Shettleston knows this—plenty of argument. Opinions were held strongly and expressed strongly, but a strike of teachers, or the possibility of a strike of teachers, was never, in my experience, mentioned or even contemplated.
That is what shocks me tonight. What has gone wrong since then? The Committee will agree, surely, that at least there has been a serious breakdown in what are known as the ordinary public relations between the various parties concerned. There has been a serious breakdown there. Of course, I am not 697 any longer in touch with the teachers' organisations and I have no official contact with the Scottish Education Department, either. I therefore do not know the facts, but I find it very hard to believe that none of the bodies concerned, the teachers, the local authorities or the Scottish Office, can escape some criticism for allowing relations to deteriorate as drastically as they have over the last eighteen months or two years. Surely somebody must have seen this crisis approaching and uttered a warning.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
Surely someone, on one side or the other, sensing the dangers ahead, ought to have called a halt, but no one did that.
It is not for me to apportion blame because, as I have said, I do not know the facts, but that an unprecedented and perilous deterioration of the traditional good will in the education service has come about is there now for everyone to see. In my opinion, it requires action, remedial action, at the earliest possible moment.
Therefore, my first recommendation, if I may be permitted to make it to the Committee, is that there ought to be, without delay, a thorough review of the means, the methods, the modes of re-establishing among the parties that friendly, confident association without which it is impossible to run a great human service of this kind. Without such a reconciliation among all the parties there can be no peace in Scottish education. One has only to glance at the so-called "war aims" of the E.I.S. to see what lies before us in the years immediately ahead.
I appeal to the E.I.S. and the other teachers' organisations, as I appeal to my right hon. Friend—I was delighted that he responded to my appeal before I made it—not to let another day slip by without making a supreme effort to come together in order to lay a basis for the restoration of good relations. Of course, I do not ask for formal negotiations at this difficult stage; certainly not; but the whole country, I am sure, looks to the leaders for an act of wisdom now, and that is what I appeal for.
698 My right hon. Friend, in his speech—it was no more than a passing reference, but it was pregnant with meaning—referred to the difficulty of securing effective joint action among the teachers. It appears that they have achieved some measure of unity at least and at last in this strike. Perhaps that is about the only hopeful feature in it. For may it not be that the experience of coming together, as these groups have done on this occasion, may induce them to think more constructively and more cohesively in future? If they can unite to lose pay, cannot they equally well unite to gain pay? Would there not be a far greater incentive for that?
I understand very well the apparently intractable problem with which my right hon. Friend has been faced in the last few years. It has been there ever since the three teachers' organisations have been established. It was one of the first problems to which I found I had to address myself when I went to St. Andrew's House.
This was the problem: how, in the interests of education as a whole, to bring about some unity among the three teachers' organisations? I worked hard on it, as the leaders of that day will remember very well. I worked, not in the glare of publicity, but quietly, discreetly, intimately among men, in a friendly way, with a common aim in view. Progress was made. An understanding, leading perhaps to what might have been a full union between at least two of these great teachers' organisations, was almost achieved. It would have been a praiseworthy and honourable step. To my very great disappointment, it fell through at the end. I was very sorry about that.
I blame no one for it, of course. The difficulties, the historic difficulties—because that is what they were—were too real. But the ordeal through which we are now passing, this strike in Glasgow, should spur the teachers to make a renewed effort to come together. This is of enormous importance. If—that is the point—this time we were to throw open the door to full and frank consideration of the constitution and functions of the National Joint Council, I earnestly believe that we might remove the main source of unrest and make possible a new and brighter prospect for all concerned.
699 Incidentally, I see no objection in principle to the establishment of a Teachers' Council, such as was discussed in Glasgow earlier this week, somewhat along the lines of the B.M.A., or the associations set up by dentists or lawyers. Clearly, there would have to be adequate safeguards from the point of view of the State as well as of the teachers, but I think that the proposal deserves at least careful and sympathetic consideration. I repeat, however, that the first and main question affecting the organised community of teachers is undoubtedly the constitution of the National Joint Council.
I do not forget the present excitement about dilution to which the hon. Member for Shettleston referred, but I leave it alone today, partly because my right hon. Friend dealt with it so fully, and partly because I regard it as no more than a passing flurry, which, before the end of the year, will have solved itself.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
We shall see who is right.
I return now to the National Joint Council. As the Committee knows, the trouble with the National Joint Council is that only two bodies are represented on it, the local authorities and the Education Institute of Scotland. Neither of the other teachers' organisations, containing, as they do, some of the best, most experienced, and gifted men in the profession, dare enter the portals of the National Joint Council; and my right hon. Friend who, as he said, provides half the funds, is in the unenviable, indeed ridiculous, position of having to take all the kicks, without having the slightest opportunity of influencing the Council's findings.
I know the objections to altering the composition of the Council. There would be a frightful row. The E.I.S. would, we are told, go up in smoke, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, whoever he happened to be, would have nightmares because of the possibility of arbitration hanging over him. I know all that, I appreciate the difficulties, and I confess that in my time at the Scottish Office I was not able to resolve them.
They were so formidable and there were so many other more pressing problems to handle that, like my predeces- 700 sors from both sides of the House, I acted on the principle of "let well alone." It may not have been a very courageous attitude, but we have all done that on occasions. The trouble today is that things are no longer well. They are about as bad as they can be. We cannot afford to wait for them to improve. Confronted as we are with the present crisis, we must grasp this nettle now.
My second recommendation, therefore, is that the Government, in association with the various teachers' organisations and such other interests, including the local authorities, as seem appropriate, should without delay set up a strong committee of inquiry to examine the functions and composition of the National Joint Council and to report to Parliament.
The committee's proceedings obviously could not be rushed for their task would be as important as any ever undertaken in the educational history of Scotland. But the establishment of such a body would, I believe, have an immediate and profound effect on the temper of Scotland at the moment. It would demonstrate the determination of the Government and the education service alike to put their house in order, and thus restore to the schools of every town and village in the country, in the challenging years which lie ahead, that confident spirit of service to the nation which was once the pride and glory of our country, and which ought to be our pride and glory again.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I agreed with much of what the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) said, particularly when he referred to the unity of teachers. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of state has achieved that success already. Perhaps the cause is to his discredit, but I assure him that he has united the teachers as never before in the present ferment about the status and threat to their dignity in the community. I have no quarrel with the other remarks of the hon. Gentleman except that he slid away from the important point of the debate, which is the question of the dilution of the profession.
I have made researches into what the hon. Gentleman has said in the past. Some of his remarks were made as long 701 ago as 1950, but his criticisms then apply now, and have done for a long time, to the Government he supports. Criticising the Government in 1950, he said:We are coming to the stage of the bulge…The Secretary of State today referred to a second bulge, and our complaint is that he has allowed the first one to go through and a generation of young people have been sacrificed to the distorted economy and distorted policies of the Government.
The hon. Gentleman went on to say:It will simply not do to wait hopefully until then, without taking any special measures, trusting that somehow, by some means, enough teachers will be there to cope with this increased flow of children. We must act now, this year, if we are to ensure the staffing of our schools as adequate to meet this increased demand.What troubles me most about all this is the reduction in graduate teachers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th July, 1950; Vol. 477, c. 2491.]He went on to take a slap at Socialism and the boards of the nationalised industries attracting graduates. Shades of Dr. Beeching, at£24,000 a year!
The teachers on strike today are normally divorced from, and, I dare say, highly critical of, the normal rough and tumble of industrial strife in other walks of our industrial and commercial life. Therefore, when 4,000 or 5,000 of them resolve that they can stand the strain no longer, not merely because of the effect on them but because they are witnessing, and are having to adapt and adjust themselves to, conditions which are entirely foreign to Scottish education, it is remarkable, and I share the amazement of the hon. Gentleman as do countless thousands of people in Scotland, that this strike has occurred. I have conveyed fraternal greetings on many occasions from one meeting to another, but on this occasion I cannot do that. I have to convey the fervent prayer and hope that this will be the right hon. Gentleman's valedictory address.
How has the present situation come about? It is because of the continuous decline in the educational standards of our children during the last ten years. The concern of most of my hon. Friends is to ensure that only the best education and opportunities are available to all 702 children. Those opportunities should be equal to the best available in the private and not so private schools in which many hon. Gentlemen opposite received their schooling. In so far as qualified, satisfied and enthusiastic teachers are part of good educational facilities, I support the teachers in their mutual aim of achieving this objective.
While admitting all of the time that relative progress is being made, what is the situation? There is little or no provision of education for children under 5. When children attain that age, they are shoved into classes of 45 and 50 pupils in an infants' primary school. They are separated at the age of 12 by a comparative examination. They have three more years up to the age of 15. Thereafter, there is little or no education in technical work and apprenticeship. Education is neither good enough nor long enough.
There are 500 overcrowded classes in Glasgow. Glasgow is 1,200 teachers short of its class code. Fifty-six classes are on half-time education. The Secretary of State has said that we must not look back, but must look forward. He complains of the heat engendered on these benches, but he now comes along with a proposal that the teaching profession should lose its status. He has offered discussions. The object and the threat is to dilute the profession and increase its numbers, but decrease its quality. Because I believe that, I object to going back to the days of Dickens and the coal mines, when young people went to school for half a day and worked for the other half of the day.
In the school curriculum there is sometimes no provision for sewing, handwork, geography or history. There is, however, an insistence on the three main Rs. That is quite a good basis. Many people will argue that it is the basis on which education was founded. But we have made progress and we on these benches ask that there should be higher standards. Senior women assistants and second masters are not doing the duty for which they were appointed. They have to carry out teaching duties. Many children have the same teachers for three months in succession. Classes are being telescoped three into two. There is a crisis in the school if a teacher is temporarily absent because of illness or domestic trouble. When the 703 school gets in touch with headquarters, no assistance is available.
The Joint Under-Secretary and others have expressed surprise at the heat which is engendered. It has been said that we are living in the midst of private affluence, but there is public squalor in the education service and other public services. Local authorities and teachers have been literally forced into measures of adaptation and improvisation which are repugnant to them in their conscientious desire to perform their duties. It is a tribute to teachers and local authorities that up to now there has not been a complete breakdown in the education service.
Does the Joint Under-Secretary realise the extent to which dilution has already taken place? There are now 2,000 uncertificated teachers in Scotland. The present Government introduced Training Regulations No. 7, which made the requirements relevant to training colleges less than they had previously been. The Government diluted the conditions for the entry of third-class honours degree teachers into the higher reaches of the service. The Government appealed to married women to return to teaching. These were expedients of the worst character. Now the Secretary of State asks us to understand that because of the bulge he has to resort to this method. It is a repeat of the 1950–51 position. We will not stand for it.
I will tell the Committee what has happened in a school in my constituency during the past three months. A group of classes has had the following teachers in the last few months. The first was a university student who failed his examination. He was there for six weeks. He was followed by a gentleman who needed money for fishing. He stayed for four weeks. There was a third person. He was a sales executive awaiting a Far Eastern appointment. He stayed for three weeks. The last, an uncertificated teacher, reported for duty this week while the qualified teachers are out on strike fighting not merely for themselves, but for the retention of the standards which have prevailed in Scotland until now.
All the projects which the Secretary of State talked about have already been considered. They are contained in the book of words which he provides and 704 which he uses as the bible. I speak of the Knox Committee's Report. There is one significant paragraph in the Report to which the Government have not paid any attention. That is paragraph 97, which says:We wish to place on record that we have found our subject most difficult and the suggested solutions for many of its problems highly controversial. We were asked at a late date to study a problem which had been foreseen for some years.The Report was issued in 1959.
There are two points in the recommendations which of themselves will de feat the very purpose which the Secretary of State desires. The first is the statement that the Committee recommends against the dilution of teachers by non-graduates. The teaching profession was bitterly hostile to the proposal. The primary objective in industrial relations is to try to secure the co-operation of those involved.
The second thing the Knox Committee points out is that, even if the proposal were accepted, and training colleges instituted and built up, it would be 1965 before there would be any product from them. We are now in 1961, so it is fair to assume that there will be no out-turn until 1967.
If the Secretary of State is satisfied and tells us of the increase of graduates coming from universities, the conclusion is either that he has not the confidence that his measures will produce more graduates or he is seeking justification from sources outside local authorities and education circles for introducing such a proposal as the dilution of teachers. He has not accepted the Knox Committee's proposals, but why does he persist in wanting discussion?
In the debate of 30th March I suggested to him that there was a way out. I am not sent here by any association of teachers. I have not been a member of the teaching profession. I said on 30th March:I am not authorised to advance this by any organisation. Indeed, I may lay myself open to abuse from certain quarters".A little later I said:I think that most reasonable people, including both men and women teachers, would accept that claims for salary increases should go through the normal statutory procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th March, 1961; Vol. 637, c. 1542.]705 Most people would accept that. We are not now concerned with the negotiating machinery. Most teachers accept that.
The real question is that of dilution. I suggested that if the right hon. Gentleman made a satisfactory statement, we should see a relaxation of the tension and of the pressure for a decision on an increase in salary by 1st May. I say to the Secretary of State that this is a challenge. Let him try it out. Let him give some indication, either officially or unofficially, and see what happens. That stage of the trouble would then be over, and I anticipate that discussions could begin with the teachers themselves on the question of quality.
I go further and remind the Secretary of State that in a debate in the Scottish Standing Committee, on the Report of the Knox Committee, he referred to Principal Knox and said:I am especially grateful to him for the speed with which the Council has submitted its interim Report. It was a very good and quick job."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 9th July, 1957; c. 171.]The tragedy is that the Secretary of State has not adopted some of its recommendations. We would not be in this situation if he had.
There are some other recommendations which the Committee made which would assist in the matter and would bridge the gap, while retaining the principle that men teachers should be graduates. The first one is that teachers who are now retired should return, and, of course, this is a breach of the normal superannuation arrangements; but in an emergency the Government did it during the war with the police, and this is just as big an emergency.
The second is that if teachers can be put into a nationalised industry like the Royal Air Force and receive a salary of£455 when they retire after only sixteen years, and can then go into teaching, why should not the same thing be applied in reverse? But if there are former teachers not now teaching who want to come back, they can work as janitors or lavatory attendants, but not in the schools, even though they are keen, as some of them are, to discharge their public duty in this sense.
Why cannot the Secretary of State and the Government think big and see 706 big? Why make enemies of the teachers? Why do they not enlist the aid of teachers, parents and Members of Parliament in a crusade to make the local authorities into their allies in order to encourage young people to stay at the point where so many of them are now wasted? I refer to those who leave between the third and fifth years in senior secondary schools. Only one-third of our young people in secondary schools go on to universities. One-third of them leave at the age of 15, either through lack of interest or for some other reason. There are 7,700 who leave between the third and the fifth year. What educational research is being done about that matter? Does not that give some strength to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison)? There may be financial difficulties, but why cannot something be done about that?
No, dilution is a threat to the democratic system of Scotland. If there are fewer grants, I think that I know where the graduates will go. They will go to Fettes, Gordonstoun and St. Leonards, and the public school service will get the benefit. With others, I am not prepared to stand by and see that happen, if that is what lies behind this proposal Dilution means that the graduates will go to the best schools and that the residue will go to the schools in Maryhill, Glasgow. Dilution means the devaluation of the graduate's status, and it will fail in its purpose to get the numbers we require. If an aspiring teacher has the qualifications to enter a training college, he is fit to enter a university, and that is what these proposals entail.
Dilution is a shoddy, shabby proposal which is meant to overcome the supply difficulties by lowering standards, and, on behalf of our children in the public schools, we are not prepared to stand it. Let the Secretary of State ask his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who is now confronted with a great overloading of legal cases in the course of Scotland—a backlog of motoring offences, and so on—if he, as the head of his Department, will entertain a proposal for the dilution of the legal profession.
I want to make a quotation taken from a newspaper with which I do not normally agree. These are the important 707 last words from an editorial in the Daily Express:Five words from one man could have averted this week's strike by 5,000 Glasgow teachers. The words are: 'There will be no dilution.' And the man is Mr. John Maclay, the Scottish Secretary. At the moment, dilution is only an idea thrown out for consideration by the Education Department.That was the right hon. Gentleman's argument today.Would it ever be put into operation? Listen to Mr. Maclay himself:'I am aware of the strength of the opinions held by teachers' organisations…before coming to firm conclusions I will again discuss the subject with them.… I hope they will take the view that the assurances I have given leave no ground for strike action',If Mr. Maclay is prepared to go that far, why not go the whole hog and speak those five words.It is time for the Secretary of State for Scotland to speak up and fight the Government on this question of Scottish education.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. John Henderson (Glasgow, Cathcart)
In the city of Glasgow, the education of one-fourth of the total population of Scotland takes place, and, therefore, for hon. Members who represent that city, the present state of affairs concerning the education of the children in the schools there, and the strike, is causing the gravest anxiety. No one can think of such a vast number of children without realising the enormous task which has been placed upon the education authority of that city in looking after the education of those children.
I have listened with very great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), but I cannot compliment him on his forthright denunciation of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. He did it most aggressively and emphatically, and I deprecate his opening observations on the speech of the Secretary of State, in which he expressed the hope that it would be my right hon. Friend's valedictory address.
If anybody has rendered yeoman service to the people of Scotland, it has been the Secretary of State. One thinks of his astonishing endeavours to increase the prosperity of our country by getting new industries to set up in it, which he has 708 done with such outstanding success, so increasing employment. I think that, on reflection, the hon. Member for Maryhill will feel very sorry for having expressed the hope that my right hon. Friend had made his valedictory speech today.
The speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) was quite different from the one he delivered at the mass meeting of teachers in the Circus in the Kelvin Hall—a most appropriate place to have it, I might say. A good deal of publicity was given to his speech by the London Press. I do not mind the Scottish Press criticising Scottish Members of Parliament—I welcome it—but I do not like the London Press to speak disparagingly of a Scottish Minister and of Scottish affairs.
What did the hon. Member say? I quote from the Evening Standard of Tuesday last:A Glasgow teachers' demonstration unanimously passed a resolution calling for the immediate resignation of the Secretary of State for Scotland"—and that was also called for today by the hon. Lady the Member for Lanark shire, North (Miss Herbison)——
§ Miss Herbison
I may have felt like doing so, but I certainly did not do so. All I did was to quote one of the resolutions that was unanimously passed by the special general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland. I did not call for the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Henderson
Judging from the hon. Lady's remarks, I think that she approved the demand for the resignation of the Secretary of State.
The newspaper article goes on:Four thousand teachers had crammed themselves into the arena of Glasgow's Kelvin Hall to roar their approval as Sir Myer Galpern, former Lord Provost and chairman of the corporation's education committee, made a scathing indictment on Scottish Secretary of State, John S. Maclay.'He alone is the man who is responsible for forcing this action upon the members of the teaching profession. You are the victims of his misguided determination', Sir Myer, who is M.P. for Shettleston, told the teachers.I have known the hon. Member for Shettleston for thirty years—I was a colleague of his in the Glasgow Town Council—and I venture to say that in his first year of office as Lord Provost of Glasgow the hon. Member would 709 never have made such a statement as that against a Secretary of State for Scotland——
§ Mr. Henderson
What is the position in Glasgow today? We have a teachers strike there. I join my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) in expressing my deep regret that in the city that gave me birth, in which I received all my education, in which I built up a business and made a living, and in which my family were educated at secondary school and then went on to university, there is today a strike of teachers. It is deeply to be regretted. I hope that when the teachers' week is over much more kindly thoughts will come to them regarding their relationship with the Government's representative.
Quite apart from the merits of the case, the teachers' strike will make an indelible impression upon the minds of the children. I do not think that there is any doubt about that. Their pupils look to the teachers for knowledge, guidance and discipline—and today we cannot overestimate the importance of good discipline to children at school and long after they leave school. The children might well think that the strike weapon is the only weapon by which disgruntled professional and industrial workers can gain their ends.
Strikes are out-dated. It is amazing to see the number of industries that have for years been carrying on happy relations with their employees without any thought of a strike. I have some examples of busy industries in which problems of pay, hours and conditions have, over the last ten years, been settled by negotiation——
§ Mr. Henderson
My list includes chemicals; plastics; bricks and allied manufactures such as fireclay goods; fishing; agriculture; the great cotton industry; soap and paint; explosives; clothing, woollen and worsted goods; the vast and growing range of electrical and radio goods; and furniture. In all those industries wage increases have been 710 negotiated through the appropriate channels and there has not been a single strike. An Edinburgh brewery firm—I confess that I have not much interest in brewery firms—in business for well over a century, and employing almost 3,000 workers, has never had a single strike. I could go on piling up the examples.
Striking is not the way. Hundreds of thousands of workers in all sorts of industries are negotiating settlements without a whisper of a strike. Glasgow teachers think otherwise. Only in the past few days, 19,000 workers in the tin box industry have negotiated an 8s. 9d. a week rise. During the past few days, seamen have received a substantial increase in wages, as have the transport policy. Twenty thousand grocery warehouse workers have negotiated 11s. 6d. a week more. The same process goes on peacefully for local authority workers, of whom 450,000 have just negotiated rises of up to 14s. a week. There are numerous instances to prove that, in the long run, a strike never assists in attaining the objective of those taking part.
Are we satisfied with the standard of teaching? A good deal of concern has been expressed during the past years about the type of pupil that the schools are turning out. In my own business I have to engage staff. When one asks these young people to write half a dozen lines, one finds that their handwriting is simply shocking. If asked to do a simple account, they are quite put out. One asks: what is wrong when such inferior stuff is being turned out by our schools today?
The police pay rise has led to quite a lot of applications to join the force. In Stirlingshire, out of 100 applicants, 90 were rejected. In Lanarkshire, there were 193 applicants, 178 of whom were rejected. In Ayr, there were 80 applicants and 71 of those were rejected. In Glasgow, of 400 applicants, 50 have so far been accepted and 180 have been rejected. In Fife, 114 out of 125 applicants have been rejected. In a Scottish county, where only 10 out of 100 have been accepted, the failure is attributed to the low standard of education of the applicants. It is a great pity that the majority of these men, who are perfectly fit for the job, have had to be turned 711 down because of their low standard of education.
A newspaper article states:But the number of rejections is a tragic commentary on education in Britain today. Are we getting our money's worth? Not by a long chalk, as far as elementary education is concerned.I agree that some of the men were rejected on grounds of their physical condition, but in most instances the rejection was due to low educational standards.
§ Mr. Henderson
The point I am making is: could we be any worse with dilution than we are at present? I think that the Secretary of State was fair to hon. Members in his speech when he pointed out that the whole question was under consideration, and that he was absolutely right when he said that he did not wish to come to a hasty solution. In my view, the Secretary of State was right when he said that he could not be rushed into making decisions on the threat of a strike. No hon. Members like to be threatened, whatever the circumstances. We resent getting threats and, in this direction, today I received two letters from two of my constituents, both teachers—and I should like hon. Members to remember that I have 300 teachers in my constituency.
§ Mr. Henderson
I have no objection to that. If hon. Gentlemen opposite think that those 300 teachers will change the political complexion of the hon. Member who represents them, hon. Gentlemen opposite should have another thought.
This is an extract from the letter received from my constituents:As teachers who voted for you in the last General Election, we must point out that, along with many others, both teachers and parents, we could no longer support at the poll any M.P. who agrees to this policy of dilution.The letter added:Already, teachers in educational associations are discussing plans of campaign to be carried out in the constituency of any M.P. 712 who supports 'dilution.' The Scottish electorate will be made fully aware of the meaning and effect of 'dilution'".Naturally, they are entitled to state their case, but I ask hon. Members to realise that there is always another side to any argument and that that other side can also be presented.
Teaching in Scotland is not all that it should be. In Glasgow, during the past years, the standard has been most unsatisfactory. I am sure the hon. Member for Shettleston will agree with me on that point. I would like him to tell me: does he agree that the standard of education in Glasgow is not what it should be?
§ Sir M. Galpern
We are satisfied in Glasgow that we have produced as many good scholars as we produced in the past, but we realise that we have not got the adequate staff to produce the additional number so urgently required.
§ Mr. Henderson
I am glad to have that expression of opinion from the hon. Member, because I was under the impression, as other people are, that education in Glasgow was not good enough for the son of the hon. Member, although it was good enough for my own family. It appears that the hon. Member transferred his son to Gordonstoun private school, perhaps the most expensive school in Scotland, where the aristocracy are educated and where the Duke of Edinburgh was a pupil.
§ Mr. Henderson
I was about to say that the hon. Member had transferred his son to obtain either the superior educational facilities available at the new school, or because the move would be associated with aristocracy.
§ Mr. Henderson
Why will not hon. Members be honest and support the Secretary of State in his most difficult and trying task, and wish him the best of luck as he tries to solve this problem?
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
During this debate quite a few crocodile tears have been shed by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We heard the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. J. Henderson) 713 expressing deep regret. Then we heard the former Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart), expressing concern that such a thing as a strike should have ever happened among teachers.
I remember the occasion when I took the hon. Member for Fife, East, when he was Under-Secretary, to see something of education in Scotland. By the courtesy of the Director of Education for Glasgow, the hon. Gentleman saw something of the best in Glasgow's school buildings, teachers and pupils, and he also saw something of the worst. The hon. Gentleman expressed the view, when he went to a certain school in the Gorbals, that he did not believe that such conditions existed anywhere in Scotland.
Let us remember that he was the Under-Secretary at that time. I am sure that if he did his duty—and I am sure he did—he informed the Secretary of State of the day—who was not the present occupant of that office—of what he had seen. I am not going into a description of these schools, although I recall the hon. Member for Fife, East, saying this afternoon that he could never imagine a strike ever happening. Yet he himself inspected a school, which was not a solitary example of Glasgow's schools, and which was helping to produce the very conditions that are helping to promote this strike.
§ Sir J. Henderson-Stewart
I urge the hon. Gentleman not to confuse matters. I agree that conditions at the school to which he referred are very bad, but I also agree that to strike is very bad.
§ Mr. Rankin
Surely the hon. Gentleman is aware that what is happening now was preceded by the conditions in that and similar schools. The act of the teachers follows the conditions the hon. Gentleman saw and those conditions were helping to promote the state of desperation when strike action appeared to be the only logical reply.
§ Mr. Rankin
Exactly. Are we to assume that the teachers are to go on complaining, while successive Secretaries of State continue to practise the well-known activities of the tortoise—listening to the complaints, doing nothing and moving along slowly.
§ Mr. Manuel
And, like the tortoise, drawing in their heads when anything unsightly confronts them.
The hon. Member for Cathcart deplores the product of Glasgow schools. That is an attack on the teaching profession. Yet the hon. Member for Fife, East saw conditions in which he would not have taught had he been a teacher.
§ Mr. Lilley
I beg your pardon, Mr. Royle. Is not the hon. Member aware of a district in Glasgow which is over-schooled? I know of one.
§ Mr. Rankin
We realise that Glasgow is in a stage of transition. There are great housing schemes and there is a transfer of population. As a result, the Director of Education, the Convenor of the Education Committee and all those interested in education in Glasgow are fully aware that in a period of transition there may be a school or two too many, but that, in the end, there will not prove to be too many schools, because more and more people will be going into that area in due course.
However, I do not want to approach the matter from that point of view. As the Secretary of State said, the big problem today is what is happening in the City of Glasgow and what will happen in other parts of Scotland. I must leave hon. Members opposite to bathe in the tears that they have shed over the state of education in Scotland which, frankly, two of thorn, in association with the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessors, have helped to create.
The right hon. Gentleman said that nothing is as simple as it seems to be. 715 That is the sort of truism that we all accept. We also recognise that there is a corollary to that statement, and that he might also have said, "Nor is anything so difficult as it is often made out to be". We know that where there is a will to do a thing, there is also a way. The point is that the right hon. Gentleman may not have the will to seek the way which would provide the solution.
Again, the right hon. Gentleman told us that progress is not so good as we would wish. That is true. Nobody holds that against him. But the trouble is that his policy is not so clear as we would wish, and it is something that he could have made clearer than he did today. It seems to me that even some of the things he himself said condemn him because he told us that he was spending on school buildings in the next five years£65 million and that in the last five-year period he had spent£44 million. In other words, he said to us, "I have spent in the previous five years a sum which is totally insufficient." It has failed to achieve the purpose that he had in mind, and now he says, "I am compelled to spend£65 million." If he had spent the£65 million in the previous five-year plan, he might be in a better position than he is today.
Let me refer to a problem which has been mentioned on both sides of the Committee. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman and by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) that the junior secondary school provides a great challenge to us all. I agree with that, but we said that when the junior secondary school was instituted thirty years ago. Today, in the midst of a threat whose consequences can be apalling, it still presents a great challenge to us.
What are we to do with the junior secondary schools? If this were a different type of education debate I would tell the right hon. Gentleman what to do with them. I would bury them. They have proved that they have no part in our educational system.
§ Mr. Rankin
"Nonsense", says the hon. Gentleman who was in charge of 716 Scottish education for two or three years and who, in this debate, has told us that he did not know what was happening. No wonder things go wrong in education. As I shall show, for over fourteen years things have been happening which have led to the present situation, and the hon. Gentleman, who was once a Joint Under-Secretary and in charge of Scottish education, did not know what was going on within the service for which he was responsible to this House. He made that confession this afternoon.
Suppose we were to try to do something with the junior secondary schools which offered a challenge. How should we do it? I have written down a number of subjects which are taught in these schools, and I should like any educationist to tell me which subject he would withdraw to make room for this so-called great challenge—English, simple mathematics, art, woodwork, physical training, history, geography, science, technical drawing, cookery, dressmaking or needlework. Those are the main subjects, and that list does not include single-period subjects like civics, and so on, which are allowed one period of forty minutes a week.
Leaving all that aside, where are we to find anything new and challenging in the curriculum? Where would we be able to put anything new and challenging into the curriculum, in view of the length of the teaching day that would result? Will one prolong the working day beyond four o'clock? That is the only solution, as I see it.
I am sorry that the villain of the piece, the Secretary of State, has departed. It is very difficult for real tragedy to be enacted when the villain has disappeared. The right hon. Gentleman put up his defence. In the end, it seemed that he was trying to convince us that, in going on strike or in supporting the strike, "everyone was out of step but our Johnny". It must be realised that taking part in the strike in Glasgow today are men who are headmasters of some of the finest schools in Scotland, men of the highest academic qualifications.
§ Mr. Rankin
They are men with a great responsibility. They are on strike, and they are supported by others of equal academic qualifications who, like them, have long experience in education.
No one can tell us that these men have done what they have because they are irresponsible. They have nothing to gain out of it, not a penny piece, yet they have gone on strike because they feel, in loyalty to the future of their own staffs, in loyalty to the future of Scottish education and in loyalty to the children of Scotland, this is the one act which they can now perform. If that is so, as I believe it to be, the Secretary of State stands charged as the man who has precipitated the present state of affairs in Scottish education.
The teachers are calling for the resignation of the Secretary of State. He challenged the suggestion that the strike was not allied to salaries. I have here a copy of the resolution passed by the teachers, and there is not a word about salary increases in it. The resolution has four parts. The first condemnatory part is directed against dilution. The next is founded upon the right to free negotiations. The next is a claim for control over entry into the profession. The last returns to the problem of negotiating machinery.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
It is most important that in this Committee we should be quite clear about the reasons for the strike and what it is about. The resolution to which the hon. Gentleman is now referring is a resolution passed after the strike had begun. The original resolution on which the strike was based was in two parts, one about so-called dilution and the other about salaries. That is the resolution passed in March.
§ Mr. Rankin
As I said before, each one of us here, on both sides of the Committee, I think, is trying to confine himself within reasonable limits. I do not want to go into all the elements which have led to the strike. The important thing is to deal with the situation facing us now. If the teachers have dropped the salary issue, it would be absurd for us, in seeking to mend the break, to try to prolong the argument by dwelling on something from which they have departed.
718 Teaching has always laboured under what one might call a cloud of indifference. For a long time, and still, the teacher has been regarded just as a person who teaches. That is all. Shaw in one of his plays, I believe, gave life to the phrase, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach". That approach has a very great influence on the general attitude towards teaching, and the hon. Member for Cathcart seemed to breathe it throughout his speech—"This is a race of people apart; they teach because they cannot do". Nothing could be less true than that.
I know many teachers who are great creators. When one considers the things which are done in school, one realises that most of the work is done by people who do. The great initial source of education was not through the eyes but through the fingers, by doing. Our teachers of cookery, needlework and domestic science are doing. Our teachers of art are doers, and, moreover, some of them are creators, not merely doers. Our teachers of manual work, of woodwork, are doers. So are our teachers of physical training. There is a host of doers in the teaching profession, men and women who do a job as trained people in their calling. The delicate apparatus which has to be created for science teaching is made by the science teachers. It is quite false to suggest that teachers are not doers.
Rightly or wrongly, there is in the mind of these people the fear of dilution. The Secretary of State has put it there. That today is their primary fear. Of course, it is not something which has come within the last few months or the last few years. I have here a cutting from the Glasgow Herald of Tuesday last. In an article dealing with what is called the undercurrent of the teachers' strike, a sentence from the Report of the Advisory Council on Education in Scotland is quoted. The Report is dated 1946, fifteen years ago. This is what is quoted:The door to the teaching profession should be opened wider than it has been in the past. The profession should not be weakened through a pedantic insistence upon the possession of certain certificates of entrance".In our Parliamentary times, that was the first indication of dilution from an official source. Today, the Secretary of State breathed part and parcel of that 719 Report. I wondered whether he had recollected this recommendation of his Advisory Council, and whether he realised that this Report of fifteen years ago provided the background for some of the things that he was saying this afternoon. It is little wonder that the teachers fear dilution, not because of things said this year, last year or five years ago, but because of policies which were being advocated fifteen years ago.
The article begins with these words:The seeds of the strike which began yesterday were sown long before the Scottish Education Department circulated their confidential memorandum on the training of teachers, a barren document which originated no new educational argument, but its pedigree at least is clear and ought to be recognised before the related issues of dilution and non-graduates are discussed further.This fear was latent long before it blossomed into a real danger to the professional lives of the teachers.
One part of the article raises the question to which the right hon. Gentleman referred today, namely, what should a teacher know? I remember when the popular Press used to have as its headlines, "What should a young girl know?", and "What should a young man know, especially a young man going out into the world?"
I wish to embark on a little disquisition on the question of what a teacher should know. Briefly, he should know sufficient to provide him with that mental background to meet the demands of the age in which we live, and the needs of the boys and girls he has to teach. Some children today have a knowledge which is quite astounding before they go to school. One can walk with a child along the road and, on hearing the roar of an aeroplane, with a single glance, he can say in his own language, "That is a Dakota", or "That is a Viscount". He can identify the make of cars. Some of them cannot count.
I have said to them, "How can you tell at that distance one car from another?". I cannot do it. I must be totally ignorant in their eyes. This is the sort of material with which the teachers have to deal and they must have the necessary mental background to deal with it. In my view, that makes a university education an absolute necessity 720 for every teacher. I say "every teacher", not merely some.
I now wish to deal with the main part of what the Advisory Council suggested in 1946. Its Report states:The traditions and methods of the universities are not suitable for the professional training of teachers. Certainly, a formative environment could be readily created in a separate institution with a character of its own. In short, the preparation for the education service is a function of such scope and social importance that it deserves an institution to itself.This is separatism. It is proposed to separate the teachers, who are supposed, according to some arguments, to provide, not merely an academic and functional education, but a social education, from the social life of those who are growing up with them and then expect them to teach our children. It is proposed that we should create a separate institution and that we should separate the teachers. I regard that as wrong.
If the institution has to be within the universities, then I regard it as right. If we can have faculties of medicine, law, engineering and divinity, why cannot we have a faculty of education? If we can have faculties for all these subjects, why cannot we have a faculty which will dealt with those who are to lay the foundations which will help to build up the type of man that we want? A faculty of education would cater not merely for the graduate, but also for the non-graduate. That could easily be done. They would carry out their professional training either concurrently or consecutively, as is done in all other faculties. They do it in medicine, law, divinity and engineering. Why cannot they do it in teaching?
I will give the answer to that in a moment. It will not be long before I sit down——
§ Mr. Rankin
Probably that is one of the most welcome things that I have said. I am glad to have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West. I assure him that I rose with the firm determination to speak for twenty minutes. I have now spoken for 25 minutes.
721 It may be said that my idea could not fructify because there is not room at the universities for the number of students who would be involved. If there is not room in the universities which exist at present to accommodate the numbers who would take the faculty of education, that is a top-level argument for a fifth university for Scotland.
If the teachers will press along the lines which I have indicated, they will find that their status will be elevated. A university is not just a place with classrooms, but a place which has a life and function altogether apart from the classroom. In all phases of teaching, the teacher has as much right to share in that type of life, when he is preparing for his life's work, as has any other individual who is to join a profession which, in the long run, gives a similar, if not exactly similar, type of service. That conception would give him the status for which he is now clamouring and which he has long lacked and which he needs and ought to get, and I hope that the Secretary of State will think over these matters very carefully.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman will say that they will cost a lot of money. Nobody denies that, and it is my argument that the Government are not paying enough for the education of the Scottish boy and girl. They are getting education on the cheap. We have to keep on saying that. It is only when they stop that policy of giving us cheap education that we will stop strikes and begin to send out from the schools and the universities the boys and girls whom we want to see, the boys and girls who will make the men and women whom we want to see, and who will help to build the nation into taking its place in the forefront of the march to a better and higher civilisation.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Sir David Robertson (Caithness and Sutherland)
The Committee has been fortunate in having been addressed by Members who are knowledgeable about education, such as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) who is a former Glasgow headmaster, and others whose knowledge has come from their educational work for city corporations, particularly the Glasgow Corporation.
I have none of those advantages, but I had the good fortune to spend all my schooldays in Glasgow, and I owe a 722 debt of gratitude which I can never repay to the very dedicated men who taught me. I think that most of those in my generation and in the generations since would share those views, and it is a matter of great distress to me to find that 5,000 teachers are now on strike in Glasgow. There must be some deep and fundamental reasons for that situation.
I said that they were dedicated men and I believe that they are. If they had not been dedicated, they would not have put up with education on the cheap, which we have undoubtedly had. However, they did not make that a major factor in their dispute with the education authorities in Glasgow and elsewhere. I am deeply impressed by the emphasis which they placed on the need for better education for the benefit of the children and I accept that as their major point. They had a resolution about salaries, but that was more than justified.
The status of the teacher has never been what it ought to have been. I remember reading the history of the early days of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, and it was recorded that his father had searched around for a teacher to teach his son and the other members of the family and the children of other agricultural workers, farmers, crofters and so on. In the end, he got a young man at a salary of£5 a year and the community kept that teacher for a few nights or weeks and fed him and so on. That is the way that teaching began in Scotland, and elsewhere, and it was followed by the parish school.
§ Sir D. Robertson
There would not have been enough parish schools to deal with all the community in an age when transport was not what it is today.
I mention that because, looking back to the beginning of my life at the beginning of the century, I can see that teachers were never as well paid as they should have been, and we cannot put that at the door of any Secretary of State. They were paid what was the ruling wage at that ime, but it was not good enough.
I appreciated what the hon. Member for Govan said about status. I have always felt that the status of teachers 723 was not high enough. Why should it not be as high as that of the doctor, the lawyer, or the accountant? There is no doubt that the earnings of other professions are far ahead of teachers. I looked at salary scales the other day and found that labouring men in England and Scotland had earnings equal to those of graduate teachers in the early days of their profession. That is not good enough.
I feel that in this respect we can help the Secretary of State, because the right hon. Gentleman referred to economic conditions, which he has to observe along with other Members of the Cabinet, and gave the impression that the cake was not big enough to meet the demands of the teachers. The time has come when the cake has to be made big enough to meet the teachers' reasonable demands.
A company of which I am chairman and managing director recently advertised in Scottish and English newspapers for a good newly-qualified chartered accountant, a fellow of about 22, offering top salary, superannuation and good prospects of promotion. We did not get a single reply to the first advertisement, which was put in the Daily Telegraph in England, the Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. We ran the advertisement again for a few more days and eventually we got one reply, from a first-class young fellow whom I met and with whom I spent some time and whom we were prepared to start at a salary of£1,100 a year—£1,100 a year at 22. He would not take the job and now we have had to take an unqualified man.
If£1,100 a year is not good enough for a young accountant starting in London in a job with very good prospects, the salaries of teachers in Scotland, and perhaps in England, too, are not good enough. The Committee has to face this. We must not leave the burden solely on the Minister's shoulders and we can probably help him. This Committee of Scottish Members, Conservative. Labour and Liberal, can do a great deal to help to bring about an improvement, and that is one of the most important things to be done at this time when good relations are so important.
The past is done and it is tomorrow and the next day which matter. The 724 lack of education of thousands of children in Glasgow is the important matter, as are the men who mould their little minds and to whom we entrust not only their education but the formation of their character and everything else.
I am convinced that a tremendous number of these teachers belong to my party, the party to which I have belonged all my life.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I imagine that it is the majority. They are not the kind of people to strike, but they have got into a state of desperation and we can cure it.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
If the National Joint Council, representing both sides of the profession and the collective bargaining machinery for the profession, after days of negotiation recommends salary increases and the Secretary of State then rejects the recommendations, surely the Secretary of State alone is responsible for the situation?
§ Sir D. Robertson
I do not know that I agree with the hon. Member. The Secretary of State is not his own master when it comes to spending money. The Treasury is the master, but at least we have control of the Treasury and that is what I want to get over to the Committee. We can work miracles if we help the Secretary of State.
It is not good enough to say that we are spending so many hundreds of millions of pounds on defence—for which we are getting very poor value in many cases—and that we cannot lop something off. From a long experience of men and affairs I know how military men spend money. All wars are waste and I want to see a share of that defence expenditure used to help the teachers. The militarists would not miss it and the State would benefit.
Nothing can be more important than the money spent on the education of our children. They are the only real treasures in life and to haggle about the pay of a teacher who gets£525 a year, rising to£700 a year in so many years, is out of keeping with the times. It is nonsense. We commercial men would not pay labourers that amount of money. Indeed, they would not work for us if 725 we did. We must be realistic and we must face this situation.
I think that the teachers are justified, but not in striking. I am sorry that they have had to do that. I regret it greatly, because the image that I carry of teachers in my time, and those I have met since in my constituencies in London and Caithness and Sutherland, is of men of high character and ability, imaginative and creative men turning a dull child like myself into something capable of earning a decent living.
I repeat that we can help the Secretary of State to solve this problem. The Finance Bill will be before the Committee next week and we shall have an opportunity to do it then. We should exercise our powers. Someone said earlier in the debate that the Government lack the will. I do not believe that, but at any rate the House of Commons has or could have the will. I say, "Let us begin."
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I have to be brief and therefore I must leave out some of the things that I wanted to say. I agreed with a good deal of what the Secretary of State said but I found it difficult to match what he said with what he had been doing. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a revolution in education. There is indeed a revolution going on in the country, or there should be, but I do not detect any signs of revolution in the Scottish Office. I find it very un-revolutionary. I find it full of calm, procrastination and delay. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of not rushing into difficult problems. The Prime Minister has also been saying that we must rush into difficult questions, but these problems have been with us for years. They did not come up in the spring. These problems of dilution, the shortage of teachers and of teachers' salaries have not suddenly appeared. Everyone interested in education has known about them since the war.
What we want to know is when these deliberations are likely to conclude and what new evidence the right hon. Gentleman expects, apart from that produced by the Committee that has been set up. Salaries must be raised and that means finding the money. That is the root of the matter.
726 The right hon. Gentleman spoke quite rightly about the fact that merely having a good degree does not necessarily mean that one can impart one's knowledge and therefore teachers require some training as well as an ordinary degree. That may be true, but we are not so disingenuous as to believe that talk of dilution arose because the Secretary of State wanted to introduce a new teachers' course. If the difficulty is that even highly-qualified teachers need to be given extra training, that is no reason for not allowing them to graduate at all.
When the right hon. Gentleman speaks of extra money for teachers, he must consider that against the background of the enormous increase throughout the country. The average weekly earnings are about£750 a year. Teachers who take on this difficult job must get more than that average. I realise the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties. He is subject to the Treasury, and he has an immense amount of business under his control. I ask him to look at the state of the Scottish Office because I feel that it is putting off far too many problems, and problems do not get easier as they are put off.
A situation in which there is a strike of teachers ought never to have been allowed to develop. It would never have developed if the Scottish Office had been on top of its job, if it had been determined to drive to a solution and had not tried to put off these difficult matters.
At the back of this situation lies not only pay but the training of teachers. That must be done at the universities. The Scottish universities ought to be the coping stone of the educational system, but we do not discuss them enough in the House of Commons. That is especially necessary today at a time when they are undergoing a crucial extension.
I hope that the Secretary of State will get rid of what is called the "means test" on parents. By imposing a means test we are implying that university education is a luxury. I dissent from that. There is something of that attitude too in the talk about dilution. There is the implication that teachers do not need university education, and that it is rather in the class of having an expensive car.
727 If our universities cannot produce people who make good teachers, it may be an argument for an additional course on teaching, but it should also make us look at what the universities are doing. We must keep up the quality of the universities, and increase the numbers of graduates without reducing their quality. It is absolutely essential to expand the amount of accommodation in every Scottish university. University people are spread all over the town in Edinburgh. It is difficult to keep up the quality unless we have an extension not only of halls of residence like Holland House but also of flats for students. This will do something to ensure that the students are drawn into the university body.
Sir Edward Appleton has said that the Scottish system of relying on lectures is no longer effective. There must be an increase in tutoring and the holding of seminars and classes. But if in Edinburgh lecturers want to do this at the moment they have to book a room for an hour. There is an insufficient amount of accommodation for teaching purposes and an insufficient number of senior staff. The teaching staff ratio to students must be improved.
This question of teaching brings me to the publicity recently given to the numbers of failures in Scottish universities. The figures must be looked at with care. I am certain that the standard in universities is rising. When I look back on people who in the past have been pointed out to me as holders of first-class honours and indeed as Fellows of All Souls, I doubt whether they would obtain second-class honours today. Standards have risen. The question is how far we want them to rise. Also, it is no use having an examination if everybody passes. There are bound to be failures, but the question is whether the rate of failure now is too high.
It is important that in their first year the progress of students should be linked up with their schools. At present the break with school is too sharp. Students straight from school feel when they get to a university like Edinburgh that they must fend for themselves and some of them lose contact with the educational world and ultimately fail. This is partly a question of accommodation and of teachers, but it is also a question of 728 better liaison between the sixth form at school and the university. The gap at the moment is too great. If we are to have more graduates in science as well as teaching and the arts we must attend to this important stage in university education when a boy or girl first arrives at a university from school.
I am also certain that we need more places in Scottish universities. It may well be that we need a fifth university. But I do not want to see that a second-class university, nor do I want to see the older universities held back for it. If we are to have one, it must be a good one. A great deal of consideration should be given to what it will teach, because we shall not get first-class teaching unless each faculty is big enough to ensure a cross-fertilisation of studies. Perhaps it should be more in the nature of a liberal arts college—though I am not sure what that means—with some general science only.
Lastly, there is the question of the education of technicians and scientists, which is of the utmost importance. As Sir Edward Appleton pointed out, the real function of a university is to do theoretical work as against practical work, to start new ideas and generally to mingle research and teaching. Here again, we come up against the question of whether a research worker is necessarily a good teacher. So far as I can see, when university appointments are made very little attention is paid to whether the man appointed can teach or not. We must pay more attention to the teaching capabilities of university lecturers, and to whether they have any sort of ability to put their ideas across.
There must also be a research side to the universities. If we are to improve this, we again need more money. There is immense competition from industry, which offers high amounts for first-rate research workers. Again, we have to provide the accommodation. I am told by Sir Edward Appleton and others that it is not so much the high rates of pay that are taking British scientists and technicians abroad as the superior opportunities and working conditions. We have to provide better equipment and give more encouragement to the research workers. Possibly, in Scotland, we shall have to set up a centre to which people can go from the universities to do research. If so, we must make it 729 possible for others to take their place to teach for a time.
These are the wider considerations at the back of the whole question of our progress in Scottish education. I should like to think that there is a revolution going on, that the Secretary of State for Scotland has time to attend to this revolution, and that he has people really engaged as a matter of urgency on the widest aspects of education. I must say that I do not think that his handling of the teachers can give us any feeling that the Scottish Office is aware of, or, if it is aware, is capable of dealing with, the problems which face us.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
At this rather late hour, like the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), I shall be very brief and jettison many of the things that I wanted to say outside the main field of dispute. I shall concentrate on this question and the matters which have concerned most hon. Members who have spoken in the debate.
I believe that the underlying question is status. I am quite certain that many of us share a great deal of common ground. We all appreciate the fact that it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of teaching as a vocation. That is one reason why I personally so deeply resent the strike. I believe that it can only serve to bring what is, and what ought to be, an honoured profession into disrepute. This strike is unnecessary, as my right hon. Friend has said.
To take the question of dilution. In Scotland, we are rightly proud of the extent to which Scottish teachers are graduates. The percentages of graduates in Scotland compared with those in England have been quoted by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) and I shall not repeat them; they are on the record. It can be accepted, by and large, that non-graduates, who may have many other excellent qualities, are not up to the intellectual standard of graduates. In many cases, they lack the broadening of a university education.
As against that there is the question of over-crowded classes. The hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) quoted cases in her constituency of primary schools with two classes of 48 730 children in each. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) spoke of 500 over-crowded classes in Glasgow. This cannot go on. Added to that is the prospect at some time of raising the school-leaving age to 16 and the immediate prospect of the increasing demands of higher education.
I said that the strike was unnecessary for the reason that no one has proposed the introduction in Scotland of men teachers in general subjects who have not graduated. All that has been done is that the teachers' organisations, the local authority associations, the universities and training organisations, and all the other bodies concerned were asked to study the confidential memorandum, published at the end of June last, in which this was put forward as one of many propositions which should be discussed.
I suggest to the Committee that my right hon. Friend would be failing in his duty were he not to allow time for full and informed discussion and that he would have been gravely discourteous to the responsible bodies concerned had he come to a decision before hearing their views. To call a strike in an attempt to force my right hon. Friend to close his mind in advance to any suggestions which might be made, is both unnecessary and, in my own belief, irresponsible.
On the question of salaries, I should like to give what I believe to be the facts. They are known, but I do not think that they are on the record in this debate. Between January, 1956, and January of this year—five years—the cost of living has risen from 100 to 112. Taking the average salary of Scottish teachers at 100 in January, 1956, the corresponding figure today is 147. It has stood at that figure since 1960. In fact, during the last five years there have been four increases in salary.
The present scales, as the Committee well knows, started on 1st January, 1960—sixteen months ago—and they were intended to last for three years. They embodied all the recommendations which had then been agreed by the National Joint Council and went a long way towards implementing the recommendations of the Knox Committee, relating to measures for improving the supply of teachers. Their broad effect—I think that this figure has been mentioned before—was to provide an 731 average salary increase of 6½per cent. over scales which had operated since November, 1958. In spite of the fact that the scales then agreed were supposed to last for three years, the E.I.S., at the end of January last, claimed an immediate increase and a shortening of the scales.
From what has emerged these two facts stand out. First, that the Government have conceded a substantial pay rise amounting to£4.6 million a year, or 12½per cent. on the salary bill, and, secondly, that my right hon. Friend is doing all that he can to improve the pay and prospects of the more highly qualified teachers and particularly to encourage the recruitment of graduates.
Who would say that my right hon. Friend is not right? He knows that he can get plenty of young ladies with arts degrees. The trouble is that they are all so charming that most of them get married. My right hon. Friend has given the figures of wastage, showing that within six years of leaving the training college nearly 60 per cent. of these ladies are married. To give that class of entry a greater financial interest than has existed already as a result of the equal pay implementation would not help the supply position. The fact is that schools in Scotland need more male graduates, especially in mathematics and science.
The basic scales proposed by my right hon. Friend—the maximum for ordinary graduates being increased from£1,100 to£1,225 with a shortening of the increments from 17 to 12, and for honours graduates an increase in the basic maximum of from£1,400 to£1,600 per annum and a shortening of the increments from 17 to 10—should do much to help.
In a way, back bench Members of Parliament are intermediaries between the Administration, which all of us on this side have been returned to support, and the teachers who are our constituents. If I may speak in that capacity, it would be to urge my right hon. Friend, whose handling of a very difficult matter I have greatly admired, to seize this opportunity to introduce a real teachers' charter and to say to my many teacher friends that in this time of stress they should be very careful to do and to say nothing that will diminish the high regard in which their vocation is held in Scotland.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The hon. Member for North Angus and Means (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) is generally regarded in this House as representing property, although we like to hear him on educational matters. I only regret that in his speech tonight he went so far along the road as to suggest that the teachers had just about got enough.
§ Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Hamilton
The hon. Member nearly went to that extreme.
I want to take up the theme, which has been running throughout the debate, of the place of the teacher in our modern society. That is what we are talking about. When the Secretary of State was speaking, I noticed sitting beside him his right hon. Friend the Minister of Education for England—the "treat' em mean and make 'em keen" advocate. As the Secretary of State was speaking, I could not help recalling the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that a man with less than£5,000 a year could not afford to educate his own children. How can such a man be expected to educate other people's children at the kind of salaries that the Secretary of State for Scotland is suggesting? He ought to get into contact with his Cabinet colleague, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for education on the present-day worth of money.
I want to widen the debate somewhat, because we are discussing teachers in a national context. When I consider educational expenditure as a whole in Scotland, I find that the figure is almost identical with that given in a full year as a concession to 300,000 Surtax payers. If these are the priorities in our society today, in a world which is highly competitive, I fear that within a measurable time we shall be a third-rate nation. Remembering that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, said that the purpose of giving the£83 million to Surtax payers was to increase exports, I wonder whether the Secretary of State for Scotland is thinking about the same thing when he treats the teachers as he does. Nothing is more certain that that he, too, will increase exports—exports of Scotsmen from Scotland.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
My hon. Friend is, as usual, much too generous to the Government. The Government do not give£80 million to Scottish education, as they are giving it to the Surtax payers, but only£51 million. The rest is provided by the local authorities.
§ Mr. Hamilton
My hon. Friend knows very well that I am on the conservative side in my arguments. I am adding the two contributions together.
The Secretary of State knows very well that the teachers in Scotland, as in Britain as a whole, are responsible, respectable people. They are not noted particularly for their militancy, for their Left-wing political tendencies or for their unity, yet the Secretary of State, in his handling of the situation, has achieved the impossible. He has achieved unity where there was disunity, he has created militancy where there was a good deal of timidity and he has created a feeling among predominantly conservative-minded people that the only thing that can solve the educational problem in Scotland is for the right hon. Gentleman to go. I echo their sentiments.
The Secretary of State was right in saying that we are facing an overall shortage of educated manpower. This is the problem that the country faces. The remedy is not a short-term one, and it must be sought initially in the schools. The quantity and quality of our educated manpower are determined by the quality and quantity of the teachers in the schools, from the primary schools upwards. Far too often, it is assumed that we can neglect the primary school but that everything after that will be all right. That is like neglecting the foundations and imagining that we shall gat a good building in the end. It simply is not true.
If we are to attract these people in quantity and of quality into the profession, it is little use thinking in terms of percentage increases in salaries. Taking the Government's economic philosophy that we must equate supply and demand, if the supply is inadequate to meet the demand, we have to put up the price. That is orthodox Conservative capitalist economics. It is as simple as that.
If we are prepared to accept that, we must boost the salaries and the conditions of teachers much higher than either 734 side, including even the teachers, has thought of. Because of that, and because such a high proportion of salaries has to be carried by local education authorities on the rates, it is high time that the Government got down to an investigation of the possibility of transferring teachers' salaries en bloc to the Exchequer. The Government have over the years been increasing the burdens of local authorities, and those burdens show no signs of abating. The result is that the local authorities will be more reluctant to pay the kind of salary that is adequate to get the job done as we all want it done.
There is another important aspect, which was touched on by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. J. Henderson), who has now left the Chamber. I wish to refer to the comparison between the treatment afforded to teachers and that accorded to doctors and policemen. The doctors threatened a strike, and the mere threat induced the Government to set up a Royal Commission, granting salary increases in the interim. Indeed, if I remember rightly, the doctors were given two interim increases while the Commission was sitting. When it eventually reported, the doctors received a substantial increase which was back-dated. Its recommendation to that effect was accepted at once in toto by the Government.
Let me say at once that I do not regard the doctor as being any more important a member of the community than the teacher. He looks after the physical side, while the teacher looks after the mental side. There are many doctors of inferior capacity. I would not trust a dog to some of them. The same applies to teachers, of course, but this argument was not used when the Government accepted an overall blanket increase for the doctors.
The attitude of the Government towards the police, in comparison with their attitude towards education, was shown as long ago as the introduction of the block grant. The police do not come within the block grant, but education does. This is tantamount to saying that the local education authorities might reduce the efficiency of education if they like, but they must not be allowed to reduce the efficiency of the police.
735 Let me say at once that I believe that the police are worth every penny they are paid, but on 1st December, 1960, the Government accepted the proposals of the Police Council one day after they were made—again with back-dating. The increase then was 30 per cent.—not the 12½per cent. or 18 per cent. we are talking about today. I have no complaint to make about the Government's activity towards police pay. They acted with meticulous respect for the opinions of a responsible body of experts, who based their proposals upon evidence provided by both employers and employees.
What were the reasons put forward for this increased expenditure on the police? They were precisely the same reasons that the teachers are putting forward now in relation to their own case. It was said that there was a grave shortage of police, resulting in an intensification of social problems, particularly juvenile delinquency and crime generally.
When the hon. Member for Cathcart was speaking, he quoted many figures about the effects of the increase in police pay. He said that increasing numbers of recruits were coming forward, but that a big proportion were being declared inadequate, presumably from the point of view of education. The Government have thus increased police pay to such an extent that they are getting enormous numbers of recruits, but because they do not pay the teachers adequately the recruits are so badly educated that the police authorities cannot take them. This is the most absurd situation.
The National Joint Council decided not on a 30 per cent., increase, but on a 12½per cent. increase, plus a shortening of the time scale, the total effect being, as we know, to give an overall increase of 18 per cent. This was rather more than half what the police got and less than what the teachers asked for. But both sides agreed to it.
The local education authorities knew that it would mean a substantial increase in rates, but they accepted. Normally, they would have been reluctant to do so but they are coming to realise the vital importance of teaching. Then the Secretary of State said, "We cannot afford it." I ask him and the country: why the difference in 736 treatment between the police and the teachers? Are we more concerned to catch criminals than to prevent them from becoming criminals? That seems a relevant question. Are we more concerned with the criminals of today than with the citizens of tomorrow?
What faith can the teachers have in the future in the joint negotiating machinery if the Secretary of State, after an agreement has been reached between teachers and the education authorities, exercises a veto, and, moreover, comes forward with proposals which are devised to divide the teachers? Having united them, he now seeks to divide them. Under his proposals one-sixth of the teachers would get an average increase of about 17½per cent.; about half would get 7.4 per cent.; the remainder would get a 14 per cent. increase.
They would thus all get increases, but some would be satisfied and some would be dissatisfied. Not content with that attempt to divide the teachers, however, he has his dilution proposals in the offing. I come nearer to the Secretary of State about dilution than I do on salaries, but, then. I have the English background.
The Secretary of State should not underestimate the importance of the tradition of Scottish teachers, which is an extremely vital consideration in this matter. He has indicated that he wants to discuss the matter, but the atmosphere between him and the teachers has so deteriorated that their reaction was, "What is he up to?" He must get an atmosphere of mutual trust before he can engage in that exercise, and it is precisely that atmosphere that he has destroyed. The teachers have no faith in him. They do not trust him, and I cannot blame them.
I do not regard the teacher with the highest academic qualifications as being necessarily the best teacher, and it is important for the profession to understand that. The best teacher is the one who is teaching 14- and 15-year-olds who do not want to be taught. That is the test of a good teacher. He is not necessarily the man with the best degree. Some of the best teachers I know have no degrees at all.
The ideal is to get the graduate who is also a good teacher. That means 737 intensive training as a teacher in the education faculty of a university after getting his degree—a total of at least six years' training. If a doctor gets such training, then a teacher is no less important. It would mean an enormous increase in expenditure on education—and that is the crux of the matter. We mouth fine words about education while our competitors forge ahead. Fine words do nothing. We must at least double our expenditure on education within the next decade. That is the minimum necessary. Otherwise, we shall not double our standard of living, as the Home Secretary said we would, in twenty-five years.
This, I suggest this Government are not prepared to do. Fundamentally, they do not believe in education. They have a vested interest in ignorance, a vested interest in commercial television—"bread and circuses". So long as that kind of attitude prevails there will be this unsettlement, unhappiness and frustration among the teachers and everyone interested in education in Scotland.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
It is quite clear from previous speeches in this debate that we have run into a very considerable crisis in Scottish education. This crisis is not confined only to Scotland. Unrest and shortage of teachers are fairly general throughout the advanced world. If the coup in Algiers the other day destroyed the mystique of the French Army, the teachers' strike in Glasgow is bringing out the fact that the claim of Scottish education to be the best in the world can no longer be substantiated. Out of the ashes of this strike we must rebuild something equal to anything in the world.
We must take this opportunity to try to reform the National Joint Council. My right hon. Friend is responsible for 60 per cent. of teachers' salaries Scotland, yet he is not represented on the Council and the assessor from the Scottish Office cannot make any representations whatever. I agree partly with what the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) was saying about the rating system in Scotland. If we are to get expenditure on education increasing in the way it should, it will become an 738 enormous burden on the rates. I think, therefore, that the proportion provided by the central Government will tend to rise and the importance of my right hon. Friend will tend to get even larger. For that reason there should be representation from the Government on the National Joint Council.
I do not think that this strike has been caused entirely, as some hon. Members have suggested, by dilution, nor do I think that it is over the question of pay. I think that it is the culmination, the two last straws which have been added to teachers' grievances, that has eventually got us into this situation. I do not want to give the impression that the proposals for increases in the salaries of teachers are not justified. They are justified, but that is dependent largely on two things, the shortage of teachers and the status of the teacher.
I think that my right hon. Friend has gone the right way in proposing considerable increases for first- and second-class honours graduates. Although we tend to say that Scotland always lags behind England, it is interesting to see that on the proposed scale after ten years the first- and second-class honours graduate will receive a salary of 1,600, while on the present Burnham scale in England the salary is£1,050. That, I am sure, will be increased, but it shows that Scotland is well ahead of England, at any rate in some respects. If there were more money, at the expense perhaps of alienating the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association, I should suggest that the non-graduate woman teacher should have a little more. At present her starting salary is little above, or perhaps not above, what she could get as a typist in the City of London.
Several hon. Members have made remarks about status. They have compared the teacher with the doctor and the lawyer. In a way that is right, but the great trouble in the public estimation of a teacher in relation to status is that there are so many of them. I do not know the number, but probably there are 2,000 doctors in Scotland and about 37,000 teachers. Although the status of a headmaster of a senior secondary school undoubtedly should be high, it is rather difficult to argue the same for a teacher of physical training whose attainments are not academical. 739 The teaching profession covers a very considerable variety of teachers of different attainments.
In order to improve the status, there are several grievances which we ought to get rid of. One which springs to mind is the system of canvassing for senior posts which still goes on in some local education committees. We should also have a look at the composition of education committees which tend to get on them too many representatives who know very little about education. Quite often they have on them grandparents, not parents, because the parents have not the time to give to this very important work. We should also look at the question of allowing teachers to be on education committees, or at least to be co-opted members. That is something which the Government could ensure only through consultation with local authorities.
There are a number of other grievances. I do not know if I need to go through them all. There is the question of widows' pensions, the payment of full pension when a teacher continues to teach after retirement, and the Glasgow allowance. There are reasons for and against all those. Sometimes one feels that the Government compare teachers with civil servants for one grievance and then will not accept the comparison when a different grievance is discussed. I feel that out of this strike there ought to come a meeting to discuss these grievances and to see whether we can get rid of them, even if it means giving a salary increase of only 10 per cent. rather than 12 per cent., because I do not feel that pay is really at the root of the reason for the strike.
I turn for a moment to the question of teachers' representation in Scotland. If the heads of the teaching profession are to enjoy such a high status as I should like to see them enjoy, there is no doubt that the officers of the E.I.S. and other school teachers associations in Scotland should be the crême de la crême and enjoy great status. The Secretary of State sent out a confidential memorandum. There is a suspicion that out of one of these teachers' organisations confidential information was disseminated around the country. It would be a good thing if the organisations 740 could deny that this came from their offices, because if confidential information is to be passed around that makes negotiations impossible.
Turning for a moment to the question of dilution, I do not think that we shall get very much practical advantage even if dilution were put into practice. I do not think that we should get very many more teachers. At the same time the teachers' organisation have to examine qualifications under the training regulations for teachers in Scotland. Last night a young man from Glasgow spent a lot of money ringing me up to tell me that he had an honours degree at Glasgow University. He had studied maths for two and a half years, chemistry, geology and applied mathematics for two years and had a first class certificate for each but he could not be admitted into Jordanshill Training College.
Hon. Members may laugh when I say that the honours degree was in astronomy. It is not a subject which comes within the training regulations, but can we say that astronomy is not an important subject when we hear of Major Gagarin orbiting the world and of Commander Shephard's flight into space? There is a great deal of mathematics in it. In this respect, should not the teachers' organisations and the Scottish Office be prepared to get off the ground and consider these qualifications a little more carefully?
It is often said that Lord James of Rusholme, who is perhaps the most eminent English educationist, could not teach in Scotland without going to a training college for a year. This bears on one of the points made by the hon. Member for Fife, West about a good teacher not necessarily being a good academician. In the same way, Pluto, Socrates and Aristotle could not have taught in Scottish schools without going to a training college. We should get down to considering these training regulations, to trying to get the whole thing modernised, and to trying to bring peace to the educational scene in Scotland.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
I hope that the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) will forgive me if I do not follow him in what he said. He made a very reasoned case, and the most 741 cogent points of his argument should be thoroughly examined.
During the debate we have heard a lot about the problem as it affects teachers, pupils and parents in the cities, and particularly in Glasgow. My hon. Friends have made out a powerful case, and I assure the Committee that feelings among people in my constituency are as strong as they are among the people in Glasgow. Feelings among teachers in Central Ayrshire are just as raw as they are anywhere else about the present disturbance and turmoil in Scottish education.
Last Saturday, I was interviewing constituents in Troon, in Central Ayrshire, which the right hon. Gentleman will know well. That town does not reflect a powerful Socialist outlook, but we are coming on. We won another seat at the local elections. I saw a deputation of four male teachers from Marr College. They are responsible people, and they put forward a most reasoned case. The point on which they laid least emphasis was this question of salary. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said about this. Salaries were mentioned, but the main point was the dilution of the profession and the dangers which they saw looming ahead.
The teachers at Marr College have been in the forefront of this fight since it started. On 14th March, they wrote to 388 schools in Scotland—I do not know how they picked them—asking for their views and observations on eight points. I will not trouble the Committee with seven of those points. They have been dealt with today. I want to pinpoint the eighth item, which is supported wholeheartedly by the majority of teachers at Marr College.
They received replies from 146 schools and there were 2,723 signatures in support of item No. 8, which reads:In the event of these demands being ignored"—and we know what they are—this staff recommends that the three Teachers' Organisations, the E.I.S., the S.S.A. and the S.S.T.A. ask their members to support a progressive programme of sanctions agreed on by the Associations, culminating, if necessary, in the withdrawal of our services.In his speech today the right hon. Gentleman fell short of expressing the 742 dire position we are facing in Scotland. The withdrawal of labour this week in Glasgow is only the beginning of a more serious programme for which plans have been prepared.
Dilution is the keynote. I gathered this from my conversations with these serious-minded representatives of Marr College. No doubt a settlement of the salary position will also have to be considered, but I am convinced not only that the status of teachers is being lowered by this process of dilution, but that the standard of education in Scotland will be lowered if we allow people to come into the profession without being graduates. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that if non-graduate teachers are allowed into the profession a three-year training course will be necessary for them, unless he means to lower still further the present standards of education. If a three-year course is necessary for these non-graduate teachers, surely they could graduate.
The answer to this problem of dilution is contained in the Knox Report, and was referred to briefly by my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill. The answer is to provide suitable grants for university students. I completely support the recommendations of the Knox Committee. Such a step would produce greater results than the plans envisaged by the Scottish Office at the moment.
There is also dilution in other ways. There is the question of the third-class honours graduate. I do not want to introduce a constituency case, but I have written to the right hon. Gentleman in connection with this aspect of the question, and I will leave it at that. The right hon. Gentleman will create another problem by the salary differences created by the introduction of the Chapter V third-class honours graduate. There may be a male teacher in this class who has a wife and family to support and difficulties will be created among the teaching profession in his school because of the difference in salaries.
When will the Secretary of State give a definite reply on the question of dilution? Can we be given any information tonight, or are we to continue with the boil-up—strikes here one week, with drawal of labour somewhere else the 743 next week, and the whole Scottish education system, with school meals and everything connected with the pupils, thrown into the maelstrom of this difficult situation, with feelings becoming exacerbated from week to week?
I turn now to the subject of salaries. The 12½per cent. increase proposed by the Secretary of State does not bring the profession up to a reasonable standard. The present maximum for non-graduate women teachers is£1,000 per year. With the Secretary of State's proposed increase they would receive£1,040. They are subject to a 6 per cent. superannuation deduction, which amounts to around£60. Therefore, they will actually receive less than£1,000.
The lowest grade civil servant has a maximum of£1,154 and does not pay superannuation contributions. The qualification for entry is roughly the same. The big difference is that the non-graduate woman teacher has three years' further training without earnings. Therefore, she is three years behind the civil servant before she starts earning a salary. The civil servant has also much greater prospects of promotion.
In 1938, the McNair Committee said that teachers' salaries were then inadequate. The increases proposed by the Secretary of State, but not agreed, do not reach the pre-war equivalent. The present salary of a Chapter IV teacher in a secondary school is£1,180, which will rise to£1,327 10s. The pre-war equivalent would be£1,440.
Therefore, no one should imagine that the present salary proposals will cure the position. The findings of the McNair Committee are completely against them. The present salary of a Chapter V secondary school teacher is£1,400. It will rise to£1,575. The pre-war equivalent would be£1,720.
I believe that teachers should be given the right of free negotiations. This would require an amendment of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1946. I am prepared to face up to this. It could be something on the Whitley Council idea. I want to see something more on the lines I have been used to in free trade union negotiations on the railways, with the onus not on the Secretary of State. We could have something akin to what the Minister of Education has in 744 England. He can either accept or reject, but he is not in the same position as the Secretary of State after a committee has devoted its time, experience and skill to making recommendations. We must move away from that position.
I enter a strong plea for a Royal Commission. We should bring in a teachers' charter which will once and for all decide their status and standard and point to the road we should travel. It is no use even thinking that something can be built on the proposals the Secretary of State has made.
My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) made a comparison of educational standards with those in other countries, based upon the 1958 U.N.E.S.CO. Report, but do we think that as a nation we can compete in the kind of world we live in today when we are twenty-fifth in a list of 28 countries showing the number of university students in relation to population? Surely not. We are below much poorer countries, such as Italy, Spain and Bulgaria.
There are other points I wish to make, but, obviously, I have not time to touch on them. I assure the Government that there is deep and sincere feeling about the other outstanding point about widows' and orphans' and teachers' pensions.
May I also say a word about retrospective payments? Here, we have something which, in every other kind of trade union negotiations, is accepted. If there are long, dragged out negotiations, such as we have had with the teachers for donkeys' years, a retrospective payment is accepted, perhaps not right back to the date of application, but there are negotiations on what would be a suitable date to which to back-date the payments.
I think that we have to strike out here, and that my hon. Friends will support me in saying that retrospective payments should become an agreed principle when negotiations are dragged out to the extent which they have been in regard to teachers' salaries.
I turn now to the strike position. Some of my hon. Friends have indicated that this has been building up for five or ten years, but I think it is the result of fifteen years of disappointment, pinpricks and frustration, culminating in 745 the unparalled situation which we now have in Scotland. It is not only the welfare of our teachers that is at stake in the present turmoil and disturbance in Scottish education. It is the whole future of Scottish education, in my opinion, which is at stake; and if we are to stop Britain slipping back into a completely minor place in this competitive world we must start in the field of education.
Scottish education has had a great tradition and a great place in the successes which Britain has achieved, but we must admit that this reputation is now being tarnished. We now have to make new decisions which will restore that pride and prestige, and we must not let this or any other Government further weaken our educational system. I suggest to the Secretary of State that the House of Commons should now take the steps that are necessary to restore the confidence and responsibility of our Scottish teachers. I would urge upon him that we should do this now, before untold damage is done. If it was done I am certain that our teachers, parents and pupils could march forward to an even greater era.
If we can create the necessary conditions and good will we could possibly surpass even the great successes we have attained in past years. The Secretary of State can do this, but only if he takes his corner in the Cabinet and fights and stands up for Scotland against the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because it is here where the rot starts. The proposals were to cost£6 million, but the Secretary of State's suggestions are costing only£4½million, because the Treasury said that only£4½million was to be available for Scottish education.
With all his handicaps, the Secretary of State could go down in history as one of the politically big men of Scotland if he would stick to his guns on this question and not give way, and if he were prepared to resign on principle rather than let Scotland be trodden underfoot by the Treasury, as is happening at present. I believe that we should be hitting the Treasury and the Cabinet even harder than we are hitting the Secretary of State.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——746
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
§ Mr. MacArthur rose——
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order, Sir William. This is an important matter affecting the whole future of Scottish education, yet, apart from the Minister, I can see only one hon. Member on the Government side——
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. The hon. Member and the Committee well know that that is not a point of order. Mr. MacArthur.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order, Sir William. I wish to draw your attention to the fact that there are not 40 Members present.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;
§ Committee counted, and 40 Members being present—
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
I hope that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) will forgive me if I do not immediately follow his interesting speech, although I hope to return to one or two of his statements a little later. I want to dwell for a moment on the present dispute in Glasgow.
I do not dispute the right of any section of the community to withhold its labour—to strike—if it does so for good reasons, and with the support of the union or representative organisation. In certain occupations of the vocational type there is traditionally an admirable reluctance to resort to strike action. Teaching, of course, is one of the professions where this view has been held for a long time, and where a code of conduct such as I have described has been observed for many years.
Teachers have a high sense of duty—higher, probably, than that of most of the community. They must be keenly aware of their special responsibility to set an example of good citizenship to the children under their care. Perhaps it can be claimed that education for citizenship has for centuries been a strength of Scottish education. Whether that is so or not, it certainly can be claimed that in 747 Scotland the teacher has always Seen held in very high regard, and I believe that the traditional respect for the dominie of old largely continues today.
Against this background we have had strike threats by teachers—whether in Glasgow or elsewhere, it does not matter—and we have heard from hon. Gentlemen that teachers do not strike lightly. But if one is to Study with an open mind—if such a thing is possible—the history of this strike, and consider the reason for it which the teachers have put forward, one cannot escape the conclusion that the teachers have displayed a surprising lack of logical thought.
In his speech earlier today the Secretary of State outlined the background to the strike. He told us about the memorandum of last June. That was the first stage. The next stage came when the E.I.S. put forward a salaries request to the National Joint Council in January. The third stage was the resolution passed at the mass meeting of teachers in Glasgow in March when they called upon the Secretary of State to withdraw from all consideration of dilution and to produce a salary scheme acceptable to them by 1st May. Thus, if those two requirements were not met by 1st May, the teachers would strike on 8th May.
Soon afterwards, the idea of dilution became a "proposal" in common speech. But, as the Secretary of State has repeatedly said, no such proposal has ever been made. The memorandum asked various authorities questions about a whole range of teacher-training subjects—and among those questions was that about non-graduate and graduate men teachers.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) stated in his speech that a Scottish newspaper had told the Secretary of State that the strike could have been averted if the Secretary of State had used the five words, "Dilution is not being considered." It is a great pity that last Monday, as the strike was starting in Glasgow, when two hon. Gentlemen opposite addressed the mass meeting of teachers, one of them did not use another five words and proclaim, "No proposal has been made".
§ Mr. Harry Gourlay (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I am wondering whether the hon. Gentleman has heard of an old 748 Scottish saying "There is no smoke without fire". From past experience we have learned that once a Department puts out a circular of that kind, it is usually with the intention of putting it into effect.
§ Mr. MacArthur
The hon. Gentleman and the teachers can have any suspicions they like. I do not dispute their right to have suspicions, but surely it is more logical to say, if suspicions exist; "We shall strike when the proposals are made known."
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at a great mass meeting in Glasgow, at which 3,500 teachers attended, there was not a single Conservative hon. Member present? If the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) had gone to that meeting the logic about which he is speaking might have impressed them and they might not have gone on strike.
§ Mr. MacArthur
I was not invited to attend the meeting. I was in Glasgow and I should like to have attended. I understand that one of my hon. Friends was invited but that he was unable to attend for a very good reason concerning his activities in this House.
The whole question is: what do words mean? The display at the mass meeting to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred reminds me of Humpty Dumpty and the phrase "Words mean just what I choose them to mean—neither more nor less." Hon. Members must remember that throughout the history of this matter there has been no reference by the Secretary of State to any proposal whatever to introduce non-graduate men into the teaching profession.
Not only has no proposal been put forward, but the Secretary of State has said that he has an open mind on the subject. He has said that when he has completed his assembly—which he has just completed—of the views from the various bodies, and when he has some preliminary proposals to make, he will go back to those bodies—including the teachers—so that there will be another opportunity for discussion and, if necessary, the presentation of contrary views. He said, further, that only then would any draft regulations that may be necessary be produced and that he would present them to the various bodies for the 749 maximum period, so that even then another round of discussions might take place.
This assembly of views was completed by my right hon. Friend only three days before 1st May, and it seems unreasonable that teachers should say that all consideration of the question should be abandoned and that their view alone should be taken into account. I suggest that the teachers are in grave error, if only a tactical error, in binding themselves to 1st May—a completely arbitrary date. It would have been more understandable if they had held out a threat of a strike when the proposals were made known.
Surely the whole of this sad business gives rise to two questions: first, was it reasonable of my right hon. Friend to suggest that after an interval of some thirty years the whole question of teacher training in Scotland should be reviewed? I suggest that the answer to that question must be "Yes". From that there arises another question. If it is reasonable to review teacher training, is it not a fact that the review cannot be completed unless one includes the question of the academic status of teachers coming into the profession? If the answer to both of these questions is in the affirmative, surely the whole reason for the strike falls to the ground.
There has been some discussion earlier about whether or not the salaries are part of the reason for the strike. Certainly they were referred to in the original resolution, although I agree that they now appear to play a very small part in comparison with the so-called dilution question. My hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Sir C. Thornton-Kemsley) dealt with the salary history and the various stages of the negotiations, and there is no need for me to do so, but in my view—and I am sure it is a widely held view—teachers always have been underpaid, not only here but in many other countries, and, even if these increases go through, they will still be underpaid by any reasonable standard of judgment.
But having said that, I think we should remember that their relative position has improved. There has been five increases in their salary scales since the beginning of 1956, and, though every penny has been well earned, the fact remains 750 that now, as a result of my right hon. Friend's proposal, the highest teaching posts in Scotland will carry salaries of something over£3,000. If salaries are an ingredient in the strike, it seems extraordinary that the teachers should strike with the prospect of a 12½per cent. salary increase in view.
If there is a problem about the salary question, surely it is the one which has been referred to by one or two of my hon. Friends earlier, namely the whole question of the National Joint Council, its composition, its standing and method of operation. It is in that direction that there needs to be some sort of review. One cannot accuse all teachers in Glasgow of a lack of logic, although the reasons which they have put forward for the strike are illogical, for the reasons that I have given. Surely, therefore, their action reflects a concern not about these two issues but about a much wider range of issues of general concern about education, to which there have been several references in the course of this debate.
It seems to me that there are two conflicting aspects to progress. Recruitment is well up in the last few years. I understand that more than half the graduates in Scotland graduating in arts and pure science are coming into teaching. That is a very high proportion. We are now knocking against the Knox target figure of 930 graduate teacher recruits a year. But here is the conflict. The faster we move forward, the more we stay in the same place, for the reasons we have heard about today—children staying longer at school, the bulge, the marriage of young women teachers, and so on. Hanging over it all we have the Government's intention to raise the school-leaving age to 16. I agree emphatically that, in the end, that is a desirable object, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will not spring the raising of the school-leaving age on the educational system until it is ready to cope with it. It is certainly far from that state today.
If we are already taking more than half the graduates in those two branches of learning in Scotland, and if recruitment is increasing, what other source is there for our teachers? The more one looks into it, the more complicated the whole problem becomes. We have heard about the growing competition there is at the universities for young 751 graduates to go into industry. I have myself witnessed the workings of the great companies such as Shell, I.C.I., Unilever and so forth, which now do not wait until students graduate but go round a term before in order to earmark the promising student before graduation for employment in their organisations.
That is the sort of competition we face. Obviously, it involves financial competition, too, though I do not suggest that financial considerations are the most important element in the process. Again, as industrial advance in Scotland develops—as I trust it will—local demand for young graduates to go into business will increase. Somehow, we must find our teachers. If we look to the regular channels which exist today, the chance of finding them seems slight.
I dislike the idea of bringing in non-graduate men as much as anyone else, although I do not believe that a degree in itself necessarily makes a man a good teacher. I believe that any young man worth his salt who wants to make teaching his career will go to university somehow. With the new scale of university grants, it is easier now than it was. That is really what he wants to do. Against that, we have the 1946 Report, Cmd. 6723. The Training of Teachers, to which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) referred. I shall not delay the Committee by referring in detail to the Report, but I do draw attention to paragraph 161, to which the hon. Gentleman would not refer, where the Committee reviewed the possibility of finding teachers from commerce and other walks of life outside teaching who could be of tremendous value in education, men of broad experience who could, perhaps, be brought in and contribute something of great importance in the education of our children.
Reading that sort of contribution, I wonder whether we should brush aside too easily the idea of non-graduate men being brought in. In my view, there is room here for thorough inquiry.
§ Miss Herbison
Does not the hon. Member realise that that suggestion made in 1946 was put into effect long ago in the special recruitment scheme whereby we were able to attract excellent people to enter the profession, but with no dilution at all?
§ Mr. MacArthur
I appreciate that point, but the hon. Lady will agree that this Report was the result of an attempt to look years ahead in Scotland to see what searching should be done to find a new sort of teacher. I do not think that we have done more than scratch at the surface of that problem in Scotland.
One point stands out from this whole sorry affair. There has been a grave weakening in the relationship between my right hon. Friend's Department and the teaching profession. We could debate for hours where the blame for this lies. I hope that I have shown that my belief is that the teachers have made grave errors over the last few months in their handling of this situation.
If any good can come out of this dispute, it surely is that somehow a new form of relationship must be created and the question of presentation must be looked at very carefully. We must consider again the channels of communication which exist between the Scottish Office, teachers and local authorities. We must pay particular attention to the composition and function of the National Joint Council. If we do not, I cannot see that this unnecessary and tragic strike will bring anything but harm to our educational system in Scotland.
§ Mr. W. Baxter
On a point of order. You will note from the Order Paper, Sir William, that there is an Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and myself. It is the only Amendment on the Order Paper. We have sat here all day hoping against hope that we would be called in order to try to persuade some hon. Members to our point of view. Unfortunately for us, probably fortunately for the Committee, we have not been called. Can you, Sir William, give us a reason why that should be so, in view of the fact that the Secretary of State himself referred——
§ The Deputy-Chairman
Order. I interrupt the hon. Gentleman before he goes any further, because for no reason could the Chair explain why certain hon. Members have been called and not other hon. Members. The fact that the hon. Gentleman tabled an Amendment which 753 has not been selected has nothing to do with the calling of hon. Members.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Further to that point of order. I consulted the Chairman earlier in the day, Sir William. He said that my Amendment was selected, but that it should be moved at the end of the debate. Is that so?
§ Mr. Baxter
Further to that point of order. As the Secretary of State referred to our Amendment, surely it is reasonable to expect that either my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire or I should have been called to make a contribution to the debate.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I have explained to the hon. Gentleman that I cannot discuss my reasons for calling hon. Members.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
Now that the points of order are, I hope, over, perhaps we can wind up this, as it seems to me, unhappy debate. It has been conducted under a most unusual shadow. The annual debates on Scottish education have normally been later in the year, and based on the Education Department's Report. They have not had anything like the present situation in the background.
Although it has been an unhappy debate, I do not think that it has been a useless or unproductive debate. I have heard nearly all of it and even hon. Members with whose views I do not find myself in complete agreement—for instance, the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur)—seem to me, in nearly all cases, to have put their finger on important underlying factors in the present situation. We have heard a considerable amount of common sense from both sides of the Committee.
I do not exclude the Secretary of State from that general remark. I considered his speech impressive and informative. I do not entirely agree with his line of approach to the problem in every way, but I thought that on this occasion his speech was certainly helpful and illuminating.
754 During the course of the evening, no hon. Member has expressed support for the strike. Hon. Members who have mentioned it have all, in one degree or another, condemned it. I agree in that. I deplore this kind of action, which is an attempt to short-cut discussion. The hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Henderson-Stewart) put the point clearly early in the debate. We probably all feel very much the same about it.
As to the causes of the strike, the Secretary of State's analysis was less complete than it might have been. His hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis), sitting behind him and speaking later in the debate, seemed to me to give a more correct indication than did the Secretary of State of what brought the strike about. It was not one of the two main items in the news—salaries or so-called dilution—but the breakout into active discontent of a longstanding series of grievances. That undoubtedly is the situation.
I do not think that this kind of thing would have happened had there not been years and years during which the teachers felt that they were unfairly treated, during which they felt that their salaries did not measure properly with the salaries of others in the community and during which they felt that they were not allowed sufficient control over their own affairs.
In that respect, it seems to me that the strike is merely a symptom. It may end peacefully or it may drag on. I understand that there is the possibility—my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) referred to it—of a succession of strikes or other forms of sanction after this week is over. Whether it finishes completely at the end of the week or whether it drags on in another way, the problems that have brought it about will still remain.
What the Secretary of State has to worry about is not how to deal with the stike, but how to deal with the underlying problems that have caused it. I do not think that there is any particular silver lining in this cloud. People have talked about the strike bringing about unity in the teaching profession. The three organisations have certainly worked together. How much they have been, or are, able within each of the three organisations to call upon the full 755 support and approval of their own members for the actions which they have taken is another question. One will not know until later just how much the profession as a whole was unified during the present week. Even that, brought about by such circumstances, is hardly the kind of benefit that one might calculate as making the strike anything like worth while from the point of view of teachers or of anybody else.
§ Mr. MacPherson
No. My time has already been shortened, and I must carry on.
In dealing with the two major points that have been in discussion, the Secretary of State could have eased the position by saying something more definite on the question of dilution. I am not here arguing the merits or demerits of the proposal to introduce non-graduate men, but as a step to be taken in present circumstances the Secretary of State would be well advised, whatever he decides about the merits of the question, to decide that, on balance, it will not be worth while now, or in the near future, to introduce any sort of dilution of this kind.
I should like to look at one of the major questions that have run through the debate, the question of the machinery which is used—I cannot say for a settlement or for decision on salaries—at least for negotiations up to the point when they go into the hands of the Secretary of State. This is the National Joint Council. A great deal has been said about it in the course of the debate. The Council is an organisation of some standing and prestige now and has a matter of about twenty years' history.
The Council was established in 1938 and it arose out of the circumstances of the 1930s. Unemployment in the early years of the 1930s caused any number of applicants to come forward for every teaching post that was going. Then, in the months just before the war, there was a change in the situation. There was a growing shortage of entrants into the teaching profession, with resultant chaos in those circumstances in salary scales and arrangements, authorities 756 paying different salaries for different types of teachers. The Council introduced a very welcome element of stability into the situation.
When the Council first came into being it was a most optimistic sign on the Scottish educational horizon. It was largely the achievement of the E.I.S. It was pressure from that body that brought it into existence. When it came into existence it was an unofficial body created through the co-operation of the E.I.S., on the one hand, and of the employing authorities, on the other. After the war, the Council was given official status and an official chairman.
In those earlier years it did an excellent job of work, but I suggest that the time has come when it is not a matter any longer of changing the constitution of the National Joint Council. It is a matter of finding some other form of machinery. I do not think that this kind of machinery is suitable to the present circumstances.
The Council is not simply a council established with a certain membership. That is the kind of organisation that is suggested very often by teachers in discussions, but hard-headed politicians know that one can always create an organisation with any kind of constitution but one never knows what it will do unless one has previously established its principles. The principle on which the Council has been operating since the beginning has been the principle of bargaining, of negotiating and, one might almost say, of haggling between employer and employee, with the Secretary of State coming in at the final stages to say "Yes", or "No", or "Yes, but".
It seems to me that that is not a suitable way of arranging for any professional salaries in this day and age. I say that partly because of the actual situation, that is, if one looks at this business of negotiation between employer and employee as not being in an industry where productivity or profitability can be measured and not in an industry where the employer can say, "I will give you a rise because productivity and profits are going up". This is negotiation in a profession where there is no such measure.
It is also negotiation and bargaining in a world which has been described in the phrase which one of my hon. Friends 757 used, borrowed from Mr. Galbraith, as "the affluent society", the condition of private affluence and public squalor. Even if we do not accept the full implications of that phrase, we are still, I think, in a society which all of us accept, in the current phrase, as the affluent society, a society far too largely concerned with material matters.
In such a society, it does not seem to me that there is any future for an arrangement of this kind in a profession which is not concerned with material production, but which is concerned entirely with education. That is the practical and specific reason why I say that we should find new machinery. In support of that, there is a good deal of other opinion. Opinion elsewhere than in politics has begun to turn to new methods of arrangement.
I would draw the attention of the Committee to one or two statements of what seem to me to be the new kind of principles upon which teachers' salaries should be based. They are easy to find. Most hon. Members have probably read them in the course of the last few years, but it is just as well to recall them. They are contained in the Priestley Report on the Civil Service. The Royal Commission on the Civil Service was concerned, among other things, with finding out what kind of principles should determine Civil Service salaries and arrangements. Previously, there had been other committees and fairly clear statements of the basis on which salaries and wages should be determined.
The Commission reported, on page 23, paragraph 90:We believe that the State is under a categorical obligation to remunerate its employees fair….I think that that is true not only about direct State employees, but also about public employees and teachers who are employed not directly by the Government, but by the Government and local authorities in partnership.
The Report goes on to consider the question of "fairness". I will read a few phrases, one in particular which is very apposite in the light of what the hon. Member for Galloway said, and on which I have already agreed with him. The Report states, on page 24, paragraph 93:We see very considerable danger in the assumption that civil servants are fairly paid 758 and the Service is in a healthy state because its members appear to be carrying out their duties 'efficiently'. The process of deterioration arising from a sense of grievance on the part of the staff may be a very slow one, particularly in a Service with the high traditions….That is what has happened in the case of the teachers.
The Report goes on to develop the idea of fairness:We think that in the conduct of wage and salary negotiations concepts of fairness and of the existence of a wage and salary framework not governed solely by the 'law of the market' play a large and increasing part.One further phrase which I would like to quote concerns the maintenance of a Civil Service…recognised as efficient and staffed by members whose remuneration and conditions of service are thought fair both by themselves and by the community they serve.I should like to see a set of principles of that kind guiding the establishment and conditions of teachers' salaries in the future. They ought to be based on fairness in that sense—salaries that seem to the community to be fair and that seem to the teachers themselves to be fair.
That is not the situation we are in today. That is not the situation we will be in even if the Secretary of State's proposals are accepted. Yet that is the situation in which many other professions, outside the money market and outside the commercial and industrial world, find themselves. That is the situation in which the Civil Service now finds itself and for a good stretch of its personnel the Civil Service recruits the same kind of people as does the teaching profession. That is the situation in which doctors find themselves.
My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) talked about doctors and police and the difference in their treatment and that of the teachers. The essence of that treatment is that both of those groups, like the Civil Service, leave been treated fairly in this sense while the teachers have not.
What is needed is the establishment, in place of the National Joint Council, of a body which will have as its terms of reference not negotiation, not bargaining, but recommendation or even decision about salaries on the basis of those steps which I have just suggested.
759 The Secretary of State and most other speakers in the debate have been clear that the argument was not essentially about wages. The Secretary of State reviewed the general national background and the educational background against which the dispute was taking place. I do not quarrel with his review. It was extremely interesting and I cannot recall anything in it to which I took exception.
But, in spite of that, our teachers are not merely finding themselves in the middle of a world of change, which was essentially the burden of what the right hon. Gentleman was saying, but also with a strong feeling of having been ill done by. That is the one thread which did not run through the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He has not explained how it comes about that the teachers, a responsible body of people and, by definition, an educated body of people—no doubt with hotheads and fools and idiots among them, but still a great mass of sensible, thoughtful, ordinary people, who ought to be expected to behave reasonably in most circumstances—are confused, and that he cannot get ideas over to them, that they are attacking him in two opposite directions at once, that they will not listen to him and that they are setting arbitrary dates and doing everything which the hothead would do, but not what the educated, reasonable man would do.
That is not explained by the fact that they are in a world of change. It is explained by the fact that for a long time they have been treated in essentials, or what seemed to them essentials and in matters which are immensely important in their lives and work, as though they were the last people who needed to be consulted, treated as underlings, having decisions made above their heads and passed on to them for them to carry out. That is a situation which the Secretary of State might well set himself to rectify.
One or two hon. Members have touched on this subject, although with nothing like the degree of seriousness which it merits. Representation on local education committees is well and good and I have even argued for it myself, but it is trifling and means nothing in 760 the likely history of Scottish education for the next twenty-five or thirty years.
If, thirty years ago, when the National Joint Council was being established, there had also been established not simply a sharing with members of local education committees, but a far wider responsibility on the part of teachers for a great many of their activities, for all of their activities which could properly be called purely professional, then today, in spite of all the changes going on, we would have had not a body of teachers who were unreasonable, but a body of teachers who would see things in a much more reasonable and responsible light, a light in which we expect the Secretary of State to try to see them. After all, if one is given responsibility—not in name only but the position in which one has to settle the problem—one begins to take a responsible point of view. If one is not given responsibility, then it is easy to fail to see the essentials.
I was struck, for instance, by a series or articles in the Scotsman a week or two ago, by Mr. James Inglis. It was an attractive series of articles in many ways. He is a teacher of English at Airdrie Academy, and an intelligent and thoughtful writer. Yet when it came to the practical questions, this thoughtful man, who is no hothead, was still in such a position that, though those questions were bang up against him, he could not take a responsible point of view about uncertificated teachers. He mentioned the problem and walked away from it, just as teachers normally do.
Teachers should be given far greater responsibility for their own affairs. Where those affairs bear on public policy, then it is a question of partnership with representatives of the public. But we have never settled that question. The partnerships between the medical and legal professions and the public are subject to criticism, but they do exist, whereas the relations between the teachers and the public mean almost entirely that the teachers are not partners, but simply underlings.
I shall not try to specify individually all the things that I think should be handed over to the teachers as part of their responsibility, because I know that in parliamentary debates, whenever one gives an individual instance, everybody chases after it like a greyhound after a 761 hare, and the general principle is lost. But there is no difficulty for the Secretary of State in finding what matters of purely professional responsibility could be handed over to the teachers.
There is likely to be in a process of that kind, however, a great deal of hashing about, misunderstanding, and doing of wrong things in the early stages. One cannot help that when putting responsibility on people who have never had it before. But if the right hon. Gentleman started now, with will and drive, twenty years hence this present situation would not be arising. He should now be thinking about the future of Scottish education in the long-term.
I want to turn to one topic which has been mentioned today, as it is so frequently mentioned in Scottish education debates. My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) referred to it, as she often does on these occasions. It is the pool, as it is called, of educated manpower. I want to reinforce what she said—that we must do everything we can to extend that pool. But expansion of the pool will not in itself solve the problems of teachers. Teachers are the one specific resource on which education depends almost 99 per cent. Buildings, equipment and books are important, but the teachers constitute the factor on which education depends almost 99 per cent. That perhaps is an exaggeration, but, never-the less, teachers are the major resource.
What is needed is not simply expansion of the pool of educated manpower, but a Government policy to make sure that education will not only get a numerical share of the pool but also a share of the cream, for this pool may be likened to a pool of milk—parts of it are better than others. If the Government extend the pool, but still leave the industrial and commercial world in the position to attract all the best people, then we will still be in as bad a position as ever. We must expand the pool, but, in addition, the right hon. Gentleman, as Minister of Education for Scotland, must fight for a fair share of the very best people in the pool for teaching.
The right hon. Gentleman will not do that without a deliberate attempt to stem and turn back the tide of this history of grievances, this history of discontent. 762 It will not be simply a matter of salary scales. It will not be mainly a matter of salary scales. It will be largely an attempt to remove from the minds of the teachers the feeling that their status is low, that they are not considered, that they are underlings. I commend that to the Secretary of State as his major test during the rest of his stewardship of his office. I will not repeat the suggestion that he should resign. I shall not say whether I approve of that or not. It has been made, but I assume that he is to stay on. I hope that he will direct his attention for the rest of his time in office to this kind of problem.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. R. Brooman-White)
The speech of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) presents me with a very dangerous temptation to throw away the various notes I had made during the course of this debate and to follow him into the profound and deep waters into which he led the Committee. However, he will not expect me from this Box to reply to what he said tonight. All I can say at present is that the most careful consideration will be given by the Government, and I expect by very many people outside this Committee, to what he has said.
The debate opened with the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) making a slashing attack, a claymore charge on the whole front, on the Government's record. This was dealt with in a considerable measure by my right hon. Friend. A number of other attacks were made during the debate and a number of very constructive suggestions were made. I am not very expert at knowing how much fits into half an hour, but I shall endeavour to answer as many points as I can and, of course, we shall reply in writing to any specific points which I am not able to deal with tonight.
Broadly, the debate has fallen into three parts. First, there was criticism of the Government's handling of the situation in relation to the present strike; secondly, criticism of the general scope and adequacy of our efforts over the whole subject of education; and, thirdly, concern—this was the closing note—that everything possible should be done in 763 future to ensure that our system of Scottish education develops and adapts itself to meet, or even to move in advance of, the rapidly changing demands of a rapidly changing age.
I must spend some of my time, as the Committee would wish me to do, on the strike issue. Attacks have been made in the debate and a great deal has been said outside the House. Indeed, hon. Members have criticised the Government with some cogency, on the ground that, in spite of all our efforts, which failed to get our point of view and the issue as we see it adequately presented to the country as a whole and to teachers in particular.
I shall run briefly over the sequence of events. I shall omit the question of pay. My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) pointed out that the original ultimatum was based on two points. It was also made clear at that time—this was referred to by the hon. Lady and by others, including the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern)—that, even if the teachers' original pay demands had been met without limitation and in full, they would still have struck unless the Government accepted the ultimatum that any further thought or discussion of the possible introduction of non-graduate men as teachers of general subjects, should be abandoned by 1st May.
The Secretary of State has already explained the difficulties which were caused by the arbitrary selection of a date. I do not know why 1st May was chosen. I do not suppose that it was in a deliberate attempt to make matters more difficult, but things would have been considerably easier if it had been a later date. I believe that the general principle of fixing a date for the termination of discussions of this sort is quite wrong.
As criticism has been made, and continues to be made, I ask hon. Members to consider carefully at precisely what point in this story they think the Government were, or are, wrong. What has happened? The first move we made was to decide to undertake a basic overhaul of the 1931 training regulations. I do not suppose that anyone would seriously argue that that was wrong, though some 764 may say that it was overdue. The first part of the review, which dealt with the machinery of administration, was carried out without controversy and it resulted in some useful changes being made.
We then moved to the second stage, which was to deal with recruitment and the content of training courses. We took the normal preliminary steps. A confidential questionnaire was circulated to all the expert bodies concerned with education asking for their opinions on a number of points which the Government thought should be considered before the new draft regulations were prepared. I do not suppose that there was any disagreement on that score. I am sure that nobody would argue that it was wrong to ask for the views of these bodies before starting to work out concrete proposals. Equally, I do not suppose that anybody would argue that it was wrong that the questionnaire was confidential. That, too, is normal practice.
The object is to prevent comment in the Press and unnecessary public agitation or controversy about ideas, a number of which may be discarded after expert opinion has been heard and considered. The object of making the preliminary questionnaire confidential is to avoid precisely what has happened in this case—a violent expression of opinion before all the evidence has been heard and before the Government are in a position to take a firm view, or even a tentative view, whether or not to pursue any idea, or set of ideas, further.
§ Mr. Hannan
At that stage the Government knew and had had expert views from the Knox Committee and the teachers with regard to the accretion of non-graduate men. Why did the Government insist on putting the proposal again to the same people?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I am coming to that.
I do not think that it was wrong to adopt this procedure of circulating a confidential questionnaire. In this case the fact that there had been this question about non-graduate men became known and was the subject of comment. That was a pity, but it was not the fault of the Government. If the whole matter had remained on a confidential basis until later, much trouble might have been avoided. If it had been decided 765 not to pursue the question of non-graduate men any further, there would not have been any trouble on that score. If it had been decided that it should be investigated further, then at least the discussion would have taken place on the basis of a factual presentation to all concerned of the pros and cons of the case, and there would have been a better prospect of any discussion being conducted in a much more rational atmosphere. However, it has not turned out that way.
I come now to the controversial point made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan). Was it wrong to have asked these questions in the first place, even in a confidential questionnaire? Should we have regarded this subject as closed, as totally taboo, as unmentionable, as undiscussable? I cannot accept that as a reasonable proposition. The Knox Committee reported on it, but it reported on evidence and estimates which are now quite old, namely 1957 Supply Estimates, and without knowledge, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston knows, of various trends in education and in the marriage rate among young school teachers.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
The evidence and estimates on which the conclusions were formulated were considerably older than that. These things should be kept under review. We are now doing a fundamental review of male graduate qualifications, which were first introduced in 1926. The system has been looked at at various times, but it has stood for more than a quarter of a century. During that time the secondary school population has changed greatly in character. The contents of the course have changed. Our ideas and the whole pattern of a suitable secondary education have changed. It seems reasonable that no aspect of teacher training should be omitted from a new fundamental review. There should be a considerable re-thinking of every relevant point.
I understand the misgivings which teachers have had and which the hon. Member for Maryhill voiced in the debate. However, I do not think that there should be misgivings about the consideration of a question. There can be misgivings and argument about a 766 conclusion, but I do not think that it was wrong to put the question. In his opening speech my right hon. Friend advanced a number of arguments on the educational ground, not on the supply ground, which I thought impressed the Committee, that there was a substantial and reasoned case on the purely educational side for having another look at the matter—not necessarily reaching one conclusion or another, but for asking the question.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Were the Secretary of State and the Government completely unaware of the feelings of the Scottish teaching profession? Were they completely unaware that the one thing which has not changed during this kind of discussion over a number of years is the belief that graduation is the foundation stone of a healthy Scottish teaching profession?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
That is precisely why I have said that it is a pity that there has been a strong upsurge of opinion at a stage when the discussions were meant to be confidential and before the pros and cons, some of which were deployed by my right hon. Friend for the first time this afternoon, were known to the teaching profession. If there is to be further discussion, it will be on the basis of the arguments for and against. That has not happened. What has happened is that there has been an upsurge of emotion.
The hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) spoke of the roused feelings which he said emanated from the Scottish tradition in this matter. Without wishing to cause any offence to any teachers—I certainly do not want to do that—I want to indicate that if there were a fundamental review at a future date and educational experts took a look at what we have done and found that we had not raised this question, they might suggest that we were violating another fundamental Scottish tradition. What about the rationalist tradition? What about poor old Hume? I mean the philosopher not the Foreign Secretary. I understand that Edinburgh University is celebrating his 250th anniversary. It is surely our tradition that any question should be rationally and even exhaustively discussed. It must strike many of our English colleagues as odd to find Scots arguing against the discussion of 767 any question, however delicate or fundamental.
The strike started because the Secretary of State would not abandon consideration of the question on an arbitrary date and before all the relevant facts and points of view were available. He would have been quite wrong to do so. That is still the Government's point of view. The strike was not called because of a proposal, because no proposal has been formulated. It was not called on the merits of the case, because the arguments on both sides have not yet been deployed. It was a strike about a date, and it cannot have been about anything else, because at the time it was called, there was nothing solid except the date on which to strike.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I think that if the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North had followed my logic, she would realise that there was nothing available at that time except the date, because no proposition had been formulated and the evidence had not been deployed.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I should like to come on to some of the other points—and there are many others—and to try to answer one put by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) and others, which is very important. They asked when we expect to have formulated a view on this matter. The conversations on the educational aspect of the question have been completed, but the most up-to-date estimates of the supply and future demand will not be available until the end of this month or the beginning of June.
If, having considered all this relevant material, the Government decide not to pursue the question any further, then, clearly, an announcement will be made as soon as possible in order to allay 768 anxiety and to settle the situation. If, having considered all the evidence, we think, but do not reach a decision, that the question merits further consideration, we will publish the newest and most up-to-date supply estimates as quickly as we possibly can, and we will do everything we can also to publish and make available all the relevant information on the educational arguments. After all the evidence is available to both sides, we can then have a further round of discussions on the basis of this information, and on what comes out of that round of discussions a decision can be taken whether or not a change should be incorporated into any new draft regulations, which, as the Committee knows, in their turn can be discussed before they are finally laid.
§ Miss Herbison
The hon. Gentleman has said that if a decision is reached to abandon this idea about dilution, an announcement will be made immediately, in his own words, to allay the fears of the teachers. As he has now accepted that there are real fears amongst the teachers, will he now withdraw the shocking accusation that the strike is about a date?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
No, I am afraid I will not. It was about a date. It was based on a demand that a decision should be made on a certain date, without the evidence being available. We have assured the teachers continually. My right hon. Friend has spoken on a number of occasions. He realises that the teachers are apprehensive, and he has assured them time and time again that no decision will be taken without giving them an opportunity for the fullest consideration of the facts. The only thing on which he has stood firm was his statement that a decision could not be taken until all the facts were available and could be considered by the Government and deployed for consideration by everybody else concerned.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs referred to the question of giving teachers an increasing voice in the conduct of their own profession, and I know that this point has also been raised by the teachers and is tending to have increasing importance attached to it. There are really three points—the salary negotiations, about which the hon. Member expressed some 769 extremely interesting views, the qualifications for entry, and the consultations about general questions of educational policy. Hon. Members on both sides of the Committee know how delicate and difficult these subjects are, and how many people are involved, but I would only say at the moment that a great deal has been done in recent years to give the teaching profession an increasing voice in the management of its own affairs.
They are very well represented on the Scottish Council for the Training of Teachers and on the governing bodies of the colleges of education and, indeed, their position has been substantially improved by the Regulations introduced as recently as 1959. I do not for a moment suggest that we have reached the end of the road there. I simply say that there has been a progressive improvement in the way in which teachers are consulted, and in the place they hold in the various deliberative and consultative bodies concerned with various aspects of the educational problem——
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson
If the hon. Gentleman holds that view, I am afraid that my argument did not get across. All those measures are far too small. The hon. Gentleman must envisage, ten or twenty years hence, the teachers running their own show—not simply being consulted, but running their own show in much the same way as other professions run theirs. These little driblets of consultation here and there are just the trivialities which, perhaps, one can justify at the very beginning but which we must really get far beyond in the future.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I fully realise the hon. Member's point, and my comment was intended to indicate that we had not been standing still. I know that the hon. Gentleman wants to go a great deal further, and due note will be taken of his extremely interesting views on the subject.
I turn now to the question of technical education—I am afraid that, because of the hour, I am having to discard a lot of my speech. Hon Members on both sides spoke about this, and a considerable number of expressions of anxiety have been made about the progress of our programme here. To clear up any misunderstanding about the rate of progress in the building aspect of the new technical 770 colleges, the White Paper gave a target of work to be started by 31st March this year—a value of£10 million—that was started. The extent to which this problem has fallen behind schedule is that we now estimate that work to the value of a little under£9 million will have been started at the end of June.
I accept what the Opposition have said that we should have been doing better, but I would say—and I hope that I will not be misunderstood—that I should be less worried if we were concerned primarily with a lack of availability of physical places to meet a demand surging forward to take them, than about the reverse, which would be a lack in the number of applications for day release and in the demand for facilities as they become available. Hon. Members will know that a great deal of thought has been given to that, and new investigations are taking place in Scotland to see whether there may not be some case for dealing with this matter on an industry-by-industry basis.
Another major theme running through the debate—started, I think, by the hon. Lady, and followed up by speakers on both sides—has been the reference to what is being spent on education in other countries. To measure like against like in this sphere is very difficult, as hon. Members will know. The statistics in these international league tables are apt to be misleading. For instance, conversion into United States dollars, which is the usual yardstick, is not statistically very easy—and I am told that the rouble rate is a peculiarly esoteric calculation.
There are other complications. The educational expenditure per capita, which is the basis of the calculations, varies in different countries with the composition of the population. When comparing the educational statistics of various countries, hon. Members should bear in mind the differences that exist between such countries. In countries where standards generally are not so good, one set of considerations will apply; while in other countries that have good health statistics and long expectation of life statistics, other circumstances will apply. One has also to take into account the provision of amenities, such as libraries and physical education, which vary between country and country.
771 All hon. Members recognise that other nations are making very good efforts to develop their systems of education. If we are to match, or to surpass, those efforts—not necessarily in terms of money, but in terms of the abilities of the people we turn out—great effort is needed. We must, of course, hold our competitive position in industry and science and, if we are to go on making our contribution to civilisation in its widest sense, and set standards that others will follow, teachers and advisers must be sent to the under-developed countries.
We are keenly aware that there is increasing competition in almost every part of the world. But there is another side to the problem. We are meeting problems which are facing people in almost every country. One of the questions asked by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs was why we are facing these peculiar difficult troubles with our teaching profession at the present time.
The answer, of course, goes very deep, although the hon. Gentleman was putting the problem before us only in the context of this country. It goes deep for almost every country. Hon. Members can draw on their own experiences of areas they have visited overseas or with which they are in contact. Hon. Members will be hard put to it to name any part of the world where there is not a natural or embryonic educational crisis at the present time.
This is a feature not only of the old civilisation of the West, but of the developing nations. It would be satisfactory if we could find ourselves the only nation insulated from these difficulties, but that is too much to hope.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
No. If the hon. Gentleman has been reading his daily Press he will have seen that there has 772 been news of teachers' strikes in countries as different in nature and as wide apart as France and Iran in recent weeks. If the hon. Gentleman will consult a recent number of the New Yorker he will find a cartoon about teachers' salaries. Thus, this problem is universal. We all have these troubles, although I realise that that statement is not an alibi or an answer to the problem—but it is an indication that these things run deep and very wide.
We all recognise that these problems matter more to us than to most nations because, with our enormous responsibilities and our rather limited material resources, we are dependent on maintaining the highest possible standard of ability and achievement in every field.
If we are to adapt and develop our educational system, prolonged and combined effort is needed from everyone holding responsibility. Although those with responsibility are primarily the Government, local authorities and the teachers, many others who are connected with every branch of education and academic work are also involved.
It will not be easy to make the efforts we need to make or to match the progress of other nations, even with the most concerted and continuing effort. We will fail to do this if we allow ourselves to slip into a long period of wrangling and dispute among ourselves, and I profoundly hope that when the anxiety which has given rise to this strike has passed we shall join together to tackle all these problems that face us. There will inevitably be differences of approach and of opinion, but there should not be between us, in facing these great issues, any difference of aim or in the objectives which we want to achieve.
§ It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.