§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)
I beg to move, in page 8, line 39, after "(4)" to insert "and (8)".
§ The Temporary Chairman
I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time two further Amendments. The first is in page 9, line 37, at the end to insert:(8) Notwithstanding any provision of this section, the Minister may by regulation provide that if a person attains an age which (apart 1614 from this section) would be the upper limit of the compulsory school age on any date between such dates as the Minister may determine he shall be deemed not to have attained that age until the end of the appropriate summer term.The second is in Clause 10, page 9, line 43, to leave out line 43 and to insert:
(b) one school-leaving date.
§ Mrs. White
We agree that these three Amendments go together. They all deal with school-leaving dates, and although the conditions in Scotland are different from those in England and Wales, the principle concerned in the Amendments is the same. The Scottish Amendment 1615 states categorically that there should be one leaving date. The Amendment for England and Wales is not so categoric; we ask the Minister to give himself power, at a later stage if he does not wish to do it immediately, to establish one leaving date. If the Bill is passed unamended the Minister will be obliged to retain two leaving dates for the year.
We argued forcibly in Committee—so forcibly that it is not necessary for me to repeat all the arguments—that although we are strongly in favour of one leaving date being established forthwith, because educationally there is no doubt that it is desirable, if the Minister felt that at the moment he could not do so because this is a year of intermission with a shortage of teachers, at least he should make it possible by regulation to establish one leaving date as soon as possible.
Since we had the argument in Committee my opinion has been even further strengthened. I have paid several visits recently to secondary modern schools, some in my constituency and some elsewhere. On each occasion, with the permission of the staff, I have asked which children were proposing to leave school having attained or being about to attain the age of 15. Far from finding that the majority of the children were great, hulking, adolescent louts to whom nothing could be taught if they stayed on at school, I found that quite a number of them were little shrimps who would have done very much better by staying on at school and growing up in more senses than one. Looking at some of these children it seemed lamentable that they should be sent out into the world straight away. It would be very much to their advantage if they had the minimum of a complete fourth year of secondary education, which is what we ask.
The Minister is convinced of this educationally. All the teachers' organisations are in favour of it Teachers say that although it will be an improvement to have the Christmas leaving date eliminated, and to have only two leaving dates, one at Easter and one at the end of the summer term, the fact that a number of children will be leaving at Easter is extremely distracting and disturbing 1616 not only to those who are leaving but also to those who are remaining in school. Those who remain until the end of the summer term, because their birthdays fall a little later in the year, are disturbed and distracted because their school fellows are leaving.
The general opinion of educationists is that this distraction is such that those about to leave school feel that what happens in school does not matter very much and their whole interest is centred outside and not inside the school walls. This, they say, is contagious, which means that it is not only that part of the class which is to leave at Easter which does not obtain the full benefit of what teachers are trying to impart; others, who will complete the year, tend to regard the school as not all that important or exciting and to look to the outer world.
We had this experience before when the school-leaving age was being raised to 15. When children left at 14 there was the same distraction in their last term. We are asking that we should base our action on educational grounds. I know that there are some difficulties over employment, but this is an Education Bill, the responsibility of the Minister of Education, and he should put the priorities on education. There is a shortage of teachers at present, and I do not propose to go into the reasons why there is or whose fault it is. I recognise, however, that there may be practical difficulties at the moment, particularly in the year of intermission. Nevertheless, I cannot see how the Minister can reject the Amendment which would give him powers later to establish one leaving date.
§ Mr. Hannan
I should like to support in principle the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White), although the Amendment relating to Scotland proposes that one school-leaving date should be established instead of the two proposed in the Bill.
Reference is made in Clause 10 to Section 33 of the Scottish Act, which already gives the Secretary of State power to signify two or more leaving dates. It seems to me that although the Bill provides for two dates, in subsection (1,b) (ii) the Secretary of State is still 1617 providing that he should have some reserve powers to have more than two leaving dates. This is why some of us would like him to be limited to one such date, principally on educational grounds.
We do not need to sell this case to the Minister of Education. The Minister is to be complimented on what he said on Second Reading on 13th November, first about the facilities for work and secondly about the educational grounds. He said:In particular, there is a strong feeling in some areas which are subject to special economic difficulties that there should be a fair spread of the times at which pupils leave school, so as to make it easier for them to find suitable employment.Certain hon. Members on this side think that that is the pressure at work upon Ministers of Education to satisfy the needs of employers, particularly in some agricultural areas of Scotland, and no doubt in England and Wales. Year after year we pressed for the abolition of the powers which were given to local authorities to enable pupils to go potato lifting. The Government assisted us, and the powers disappeared this year. On educational grounds we think that the number of school-leaving dates should be reduced from two to one.
It is on educational grounds that the Minister's observations were first class. Referring to young people leaving school as early as they could after the age of 15 he said:This is not right in the second half of the twentieth century. Educationists and social workers are insistent and unanimous that the very great majority of early leavers would gain more from another year in full-time education than from their first year at this young age in a job. This view should command the full support of the House."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1961; Vol. 649, c. 45.]These are admirable words.
I wish it were possible for the Minister to convince the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Cabinet colleagues that today we are on the brink of an upsurge. Whether it is an admirable thing or not, more young people will stay on at school. The proposal in the Amendment recognises only what some of us believe will be a fact in five or six years. In Scotland more young people are staying on at school and completing their five-year course. The Government and local authorities 1618 are faced with the frightful problem that only one in four young people qualified to enter a university find a place. In England and Wales the figure is one in nine.
There is also the Government's failure to raise the school-leaving age to 16, for reasons which many of us appreciate but disagree with, and their failure to give effect to the Crowther Report. The Amendments, if accepted, would go a long way to achieving the objective without formal sanction by Statute to the raising of the school-leaving age.
We are concerned about this matter because it affects the 80 per cent. of our school population who have had the rawest deal in the education set-up. It affects young people aged 15 who are sent out into the world ill-equipped to face the vagaries and blandishments of the casino-type society which confronts them.
The provision in the Bill of two school-leaving dates is an advance on what we have in Scotland at the moment. Many people think that Scottish education has led the world. It has for many years, but in this one respect we have been behind England and Wales. It is not generally known that there are from three to seven different leaving dates in Scotland. This is deplorable. It should have been attended to long ago. It may seem to the Committee that we want to go to the other extreme by providing for only one leaving date, but my hon. Friends and I believe that if we are interested in education we must do what we can to establish this.
We welcome the provision of two leaving dates for 1963, but note with apprehension that later in the Clause the Secretary of State is still leaving himself flexible powers to provide three dates in circumstances which he thinks advantageous. Further, it provides that three leaving dates may be fixed for any school in any area. It particularises. Is it right that the young people in that area attending that school should be penalised? Most of us take good care that our own young people have every facility for staying on at school as long as they can. It is part of our case that this should apply to the young people who will be the artisans, mechanics and technicians of the future. We have fallen 1619 down on the job. We decide to have the school-leaving date as soon after the age of 15 as possible, when children are in their most formative period.
My hon. Friends and I think that this is wrong. We hope that the Amendment will receive support. It is an invidious position that junior secondary pupils in Scotland are subject to a leaving date to which senior pupils are not subject, because they go on to complete their scholastic career and have other opportunities. Many young people of 15 go out to jobs unskilled. They do not have the opportunity to take an apprenticeship. There are very few day-release courses in Scotland compared with the number in England and Wales.
I subscribe wholeheartedly to the statement made by Crowther that, if education be regarded as a social service, there is no social injustice more in need of reform than that where scores of thousands are released into the labour market. I know that there is a teacher shortage. Scotland has a teacher shortage of 3,600. By 1965 we shall be 5,000 short. If some of our young people were given more encouragement, we could draw some recruits to the teaching profession from this source.
The growing trend is for young people to stay on. Mr. Vaizey, in a valuable pamphlet entitled "Investment for Success", points out that in the last three years an increasing number of young people have stayed on at school, namely, about 1.65 per cent. In January, 1959, the number of those continuing on at school was 38.3 per cent. of the total. He estimates that by 1970 the number will have grown to 75 per cent.
Can the Government give any indication of their intentions? What provision are they likely to make to meet such a contingency? The idea that the academic person whose highway is quite clear from the primary school to the university is in some way superior to the boy in the workshop, who is a skilled engineer, is dying hard. Yet Britain will depend upon these young people in future with their skills and crafts, especially in relation to exports and world competition. There are different ways of being clever in this world, just as there are different roads to the Kingdom of Heaven. I should like to see the Amendment accepted so that we could 1620 get nearer to the goal of real interest in education. The real question is not raising the school-leaving age to 16. It is how best we can make schools more interesting to young people so that they will voluntarily stay on and learn something of the skills and crafts they will need in the outside world. Because of this deep interest, I hope that the Committee can be persuaded to accept these Amendments.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
I think that we are agreed on two points. First, we want the same leaving dates on both sides of the Border. Secondly, as people interested in education, we want our children to stay longer at school than they now do. One way would be to have a single leaving date. As I said in the speech which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) has been good enough to quote, I am sorry that we cannot go at once to one leaving date, but there are good reasons for having this half-way house.
The Crowther Committee encountered the same kind of difficulties in the employment of young people as we have when we have gone into the subject with much wider consultation. If we had one leaving date for England and Wales it would mean half a million children going on to the labour market at one time. I am confident that, before long, industry and the other employments will be able to tackle that number, but at present they do not feel that they could.
It is very difficult to go against the advice we have had from the Ministry of Labour's National Joint Committee, on which the representatives of the employers, the nationalised industries and the trade unions were unanimous. As I told the Standing Committee, my Department went to that Committee and made the best case it could for the one leaving date.
If the Scottish Amendment were accepted it would produce a very awkward situation, because the one leaving date would come into operation directly the Bill became law, and that would create difficulties for the schools on administrative grounds alone. I therefore doubt whether it would be workable. The Amendments from England are very difficult to understand—
§ Sir D. Eccles
Yes, and Wales—I am glad to see that the hon. Lady is sporting her Welsh emblem today.
As she said, their intention is quite clear. It is that the Minister should be given power to go from two leaving dates to one leaving date as and when he was advised that it was right to do so, but the difficulty is that he is to do that by Regulation when it should be done by Order. The Minister would be given the power to pick out a particular person, or sets of persons, and he would also be able to select two dates, and say that if the birthday of a child fell between the selected dates, that child—but not necessarily all children—would have to stay to the end of the summer term. If we were to write into the Bill a power to go from two leaving dates to one we should have to do so in a very different way from that suggested. That, perhaps, is not as important as the question of whether or not we should put the power into the Bill in correct form.
Where, in an education Measure, the principle of the reform is written into the Statute—for example, that the school-leaving age should be raised to 16, which is in the Education Act—it seems to me to be quite proper for the House to give the Minister the power to do that, and to do nothing else—by Order in Council in that case—when he feels that he can do so, but here we are not really sure that we want to go to one leaving date. We have not put that in the Bill in the same way as the school-leaving age is put in the 1944 Act.
There is one reason why we should hesitate, at any rate, for a little time. From now onwards consideration must be given to whether the next step in keeping children at school should be one leaving date, or raising the leaving age to 16. If the school-leaving age were raised to 16 and there was one leaving date, more than half the children would stay at school until after they were 16½. I am not sure—and I think that we must give a good deal of attention to this—which reform should come next.
The one now suggested is, of course, much the easier one, because it does not put much strain on the teachers. It is quite true that in the next year, when we have a "year of intermission", the 1622 schools will be unusually short, but the teachers will have looked after those children for two terms out of a fourth year, there will be the same number of children in the school and, by and large, if the teachers can manage them for two terms I think that they will be able to manage them for three. It would, however, produce a position in which more than half the children were staying on until after 15½.
I do not know whether it will seem wise, after some time, to raise the school-leaving age by a year, so I ask hon. Members not to press the point, but to leave things as they are. That means that if we decide to go to one leaving date, we shall have to come to the House for the power. I think it right not to take that power in this Bill, because we have not completely decided that we want to do it, and have not put one leaving date in the Bill.
I can tell the hon. Member for Mary-hill that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State deliberately left in Clause 10 the power to make exceptions to the two leaving dates. He did so solely on employment grounds. There are, I am sorry to say, patches of unemployment in Scotland that are substantially above the national level, and my right hon. Friend felt that where those patches were persisting it might not be in the best interests of the children to let them all out at the same time. If a certain number of those young people had to wait to get jobs, in an area where there were not too many jobs, we all know that it would be the less able child who would have to wait, and that is just the child whose character is not at all suited to a period of unemployment.
In those circumstances, I think that my right hon. Friend is fully justified in retaining these provisos. It is not done on education grounds but on employment grounds. After all, we are thinking of the child's whole life, in school and then in employment, and we must not do anything in the educational part of the child's life that makes entry into work less smooth that it otherwise would be.
I hope that hon. Members will accept that we on this side have not changed our minds at all. We know the educational advantage of having one leaving date, but we feel that, at present, we 1623 must accept the advice of those concerned with employment. In any case, we could not accept the Scottish Amendment because its provisions would come into operation as soon as the Bill became law, and that is impossible. I do not advise the Committee to accept the English Amendments, because they concern a serious question which we should deal with by coming back to the House and asking for powers in the normal way.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will know that I find his reply very disappointing—and very unnecessary. We are agreed that, on educational grounds, a single leaving date would be better than two leaving dates. We debated this in the Standing Committee, when the right hon. Gentleman relied on the advice tendered by the Minister of Labour's Advisory Committee. We did not accept that advice as being as dogmatic as the Minister felt it to be, and we are now returning to the question in a different form.
We are saying that we will not impose an obligation on the Minister to have one single leaving date now, but we do not want him to be in the position of
§ having to come back to the House to seek new powers by legislation. We appreciate the difficulties in promoting legislation that exist in the case of a Department such as the Ministry of Education and we thought that the Minister would have adopted a different approach and would have been prepared to do this either by Regulation or by Order—and my hon. Friends are not doctrinaire about which one he would wish to adopt.
§ The raising of the school-leaving age to 16, is, we believe, a matter on which the right hon. Gentleman should take an immediate decision. We realise that these two questions are associated and cannot be divorced, but the right hon. Gentleman can increase the school-leaving age to 16 by Order. We felt that he should be in a similar position with regard to the single leaving date.
§ As we cannot accept his reply as being satisfactory, indeed, we consider it to be most disappointing, I have no alternative but to ask my hon. Friends to divide the Committee.
§ Question put, That those words be there inserted:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 101, Noes 157.1625
|Division No. 113.]||AYES||[7.42 p.m.|
|Ainsley, William||Hayman, F. H.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Randall, Harry|
|Beaney, Alan||Holman, Percy||Rhodes, H.|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Holt, Arthur||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Blackburn, F.||Houghton, Douglas||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Blyton, William||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Ross, William|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.)||Hunter, A. E.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Janner, Sir Barnett||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Jeger, George||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Callaghan, James||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Snow, Julian|
|Chapman, Donald||Kelley, Richard||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, Clifford||Stonehouse, John|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||King, Dr. Horace||Stones, William|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lawson, George||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Deer, George||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Dempsey, James||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Dodds, Norman||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Driberg, Tom||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||McInnes, James||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McLeavy, Frank||Tomney, Frank|
|Evans, Albert||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Warbey, William|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, Walter||Weitzman, David|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Moody, A. S.||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Ginsburg, David||Morris, John||Whitlock, William|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Movie, Arthur||Willey, Frederick|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mulley, Frederick||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Oram, A. E.||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Paget, R. T.||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds W.)|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Pargiter, G. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hannan, William||Parker, John||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
|Hart, Mrs. Judith||Peart, Frederick||Mr. Redhead.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Pitman, Sir James|
|Allason, James||Green, Alan||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Gresham Cooke, R.||Pott, Percivall|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Gurden, Harold||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Barlow, Sir John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Renton, David|
|Batsford, Brian||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R. (B'pool, S.)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Hastings, Stephen||Roots, William|
|Biffen, John||Hiley, Joseph||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Russell, Ronald|
|Box, Donald||Holland, Philip||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Hornby, R. P.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hughes-Young, Michael||Sharples, Richard|
|Braine, Bernard||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Shepherd, William|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Buck, Antony||Jackson, John||Smithers, Peter|
|Burden, F. A.||James, David||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Campbell, Cordon (Moray & Nairn)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Speir, Rupert|
|Chataway, Christopher||Jennings, J. C.||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Cole, Norman||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Collard, Richard||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Kershaw, Anthony||Talbot, John E.|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Kimball, Marcus||Tapsell, Peter|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Coulson, Michael||Leather, E. H. C.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Craddock Sir Beresford||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Critchley, Julian||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Dance, James||Litchfield, Capt. John||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Longden, Gilbert||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Deedes, W. F.||Loveys, Walter H.||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Doughty, Charles||McLaren, Martin||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|du Cann, Edward||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Duncan, Sir James||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Walder, David|
|Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Whitelaw, William|
|Farr, John||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gammans, Lady||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wise, A. R.|
|Gardner, Edward||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gilmour, Sir John||Pearson, Frank (Clotheroe)||Woollam, John|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Perclval, Ian||Worsley, Marcus|
|Goodhew, Victor||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. William||Pilkington, Sir Richard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. J. E. B. Hill and Mr. Peel.|
§ The Amendment concerns a small point. Subsection (6) provides that the Clause will come into effect not before 1963. In Standing Committee, we argued that it would be possible to bring it into effect this year, in the autumn. We think that the Minister has the good will of the teaching profession and of those concerned with education and that it would be possible to implement the Clause in the autumn. This would be a desirable arrangement.
§ As the Minister will appreciate, the Crowther Committee, upon whose recommendations the Clause is based, was anxious that its recommendations should 1626 be implemented as soon as possible. A couple of years have gone by. In these circumstances, it is not unreasonable to call upon the Minister to implement the Clause by the autumn, so that it will operate for the next academic year.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Kenneth Thompson)
My right hon. Friend the Minister has discussed a good many of the points which arise out of the proposal by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that the Bill should come into operation in time for this year instead of 1963. A good deal of the ground was covered in discussion in Standing Committee. It is true that the strain on the schools would not be 1627 so great as to make the proposal impossible, but this is a difficult year in a good many ways in the schools and we feel that it would be quite wrong to ask the schools to bear whatever additional burden is involved.
This is not a question of more teachers, more teaching space, or great extensions of courses. Nevertheless, the strain that will be felt in the schools in the year of intermission in a great many ways will be far more than people realise. To add this extra burden, however slight, seems to us to be wrong. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.
We have also to bear in mind that when this change comes about, it is essential to carry with us the good will of the parents and of the children affected by it. That takes time. It takes time for the local authorities to arrange for the children to be informed when their school life is due to end and for the machinery to be put into operation for parents to know their responsibilities. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will realise that the matter is not quite as simple as appears at first sight.
There is the small technical point, which, no doubt, the hon. Member for
§ Sunderland, North has considered, but has successfully concealed from the Committee, that if accepted in its present form his Amendment would mean that the Bill would come into operation when it receives the Royal Assent. This would mean that children who attain their 15th birthday in February or March this year, would not be able to leave until the end of the summer term. I am sure that the hon. Member did not have that consequence in mind. For this reason, together with what I have said about the difficulties which arise from moving forward by a year the proposal contained in the Clause, I hope that the Committee will reject the Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.