HC Deb 01 March 1962 vol 654 cc1667-84

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mrs. White

This is one instance mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields in which the Minister said that he was in entire agreement with the principle but found himself unable to carry out the Measure fully in practice. He referred to priorities and to school maintenance, but it is not as though he is doing anything extra about school maintenance.

Having made these criticisms, which I think are fully justified, I would add that we on this side of the House nevertheless welcome the advance which has been made. We are glad that after all these years the wide discrepancies between the treatment of students going to university from different parts of the country will be eliminated, that they will know where they stand and that we shall remove from university students, but by no means from all students, the kind of discrimination which existed previously.

May I be allowed to say, in passing, that no reform of the grants system will be effective if there are insufficient places in the universities? This is not a direct responsibility of the Minister, but he must have been as much disturbed as were many of us to read last week the report of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, which pointed out that in 1961 there were no fewer than 40,000 more applications for university places than there had been in the previous year. I refer not to applicants but to applications, for there were some multiple applications. On the other hand, the number of students admitted to first-degree courses increased by only 2,350 in the same period. Last October there were 22,650 admissions. It is clear that the pressure on universities is increasing substantially and that the reforms included in the Bill will to some extent be ineffective if we cannot obtain a far more rapid expansion in the number of university places.

Nevertheless, university students have reason to be grateful for the Bill. I wish that we could say as much for some other students. I do not wish to repeat the arguments adduced in Committee for suggesting that greater uniformity for other full-time students—I am not talking of part-time students—would have been very desirable.

I was much interested in the statements by the Parliamentary Secretary about teacher-training students. I do not know whether he was trying to repair some of the damage done by recent remarks by the Minister. I do not know whether the Minister is aware that there was considerable alarm and despondency among teacher-training college students following the remark which he made in our earlier proceedings on the Bill on21stFebruary. In his speech then the Minister referred to a line which had to be drawn between mandatory and discretionary awards. He said, The principle of leaving the matter of full-time university students…in Clause 1"— the students we have been discussing— and leaving the matter of part-time students—there are very many kinds of part-time students—and the teacher-training student in the discretion of local authorities was a sensible division."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 458.] I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was fully aware of the impression his remark created. It appeared from his comment that he was putting university students on one side of the fence and teacher-training students, with a conglomeration of part-time students, on the other. Therefore, I am very glad that the Parliamentary Secretary came to his right hon. Friend's rescue. I hope that the remarks the Parliamentary Secretary made about teacher-training college students have made it clear that these students should be regarded as being of equal esteem with university students and should not have been put on a side of the fence which many of them—I have received representations about this—thought was derogatory.

There are several other matters which can arise on the question of awards, but I do not wish to detain the House too long, because the hour is growing late and several of my hon. Friends wish to speak. However, I do not think that I should leave the part of the Bill concerning awards without making a reference to Scotland. Those of us who previously were familiar with the education system of England and Wales only were very much interested in following the discussions on the practice in Scotland. We have discovered that in certain respects the Scots are much better served. The Secretary of State for Scotland has greater powers than the Minister in England and Wales for ensuring that some of the other students we have mentioned, not just university students, are treated adequately by way of grants.

I am aware that previously Scottish students coming to English universities were not so generously treated. This has now been put right. But in relation to certain other categories of students it appears to me that the Scottish system has much to commend it. One of the more enlightening parts of my duties on the Bill has been to study what is happening in Scotland. I only wish that there had been greater representation from our Scottish colleagues in the Standing Committee, but they have made up for it in the later stages of the Bill.

The other part of the Bill, making a very peculiar partnership in the Bill, is the school-leaving date. We have discussed this at considerable length. We on this side have made it clear that we think that the Bill does not go far enough. We were very disappointed tonight at the attitude of the Minister on our Amendment. I am not speaking of the drafting. He may have been fully justified in his criticisms of the manner in which it was drafted, but we were deeply disappointed that he was not prepared to take powers to enable him to provide at some future date for one school-leaving date, which educationally, as he himself admits, is desirable. He has not yet pledged himself to any programme for raising the school-leaving age to 16. He should have allowed himself greater powers to use this alternative method if he is not to be able to announce very shortly a firm date for raising the school-leaving age to 16.

As far as it goes, the Bill is acceptable to us. In our view, it does not go so far is it should. We can only hope that, although we do not frequently have legislation dealing with education, it will not be too long before we have an opportunity of discussing another Education Bill.

10.10 p.m.

Dr. King

For the record, and in case what my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) just now said was a little ambiguous, we had in the Standing Committee a Scottish Member who is one of the most distinguished educationists in the House. That he was not there to debate and discuss in detail the Scottish section of the Bill was due to the fact that he had volunteered to serve the House as one of its Chairmen—

Mrs. White

If my hon. Friend will permit me—I did correct the expression I used.

Dr. King

I just wanted to make it perfectly clear.

Some of us part with the Bill with regret—a regret not shared by the Minister and his advisers. Our regret is that we were unable, because of the Government, to lick it into shape, but I, too, want to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on his skilful piloting of this Measure through its Committee stage. Apart from the fact that he took the wrong side on every issue, his performance was masterly.

It was the hon. Gentleman's misfortune that he had to defend the indefensible, and that he had to stick to an illogical compromise which the Minister had worked out with the local authorities and the Ministry of Labour; a compromise that he and the Minister must, in their heart of hearts, know is wrong. The hon. Gentleman listened patiently, argued skilfully—and always gave us exactly nothing. Apart from a very minor Amendment, which we got at a very late stage, the Bill has come back here as it went into the Committee.

I want also to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) on the brilliant way in which he has led our attempts to improve the Bill. We look forward to the time when he will cast off the shadow and assume the substance of Minister of Education. We have been delighted to serve under his leadership in a real battle to make this a much better Bill. And I am sure that I speak for all members of the Committee when I say that we count it a privilege to have had on it as a back bencher the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who himself was one of the two architects of the 1944 Act.

It was a pleasant Committee, and we had a pleasant set of deliberations. I commend to the Leader of the House, who seems to have a penchant for the Guillotine, the way in which the Minister of Education let the Opposition do their duty of detailed examination and criticism of a Measure in Committee. We had no Closure, no Guillotine, no cross words.

I support the Bill, but I regret its shortcomings. We could have ended the means test for university students. As it is, we have improved their financial lot and that of those parents who have to make payments towards keeping their children at university, but we have not gone far enough. We could have given a fillip to the prestige of the teacher-training colleges for which even the Parliamentary Secretary's words do not make up. We had a chance to show the teacher-training colleges, at the beginning of their great adventure of three-year teacher training, that we regard them in exactly the same way as we regard the universities. We have failed to do that.

We could have helped the ratepayer much more. It is true that we have given him help with the extra expenses in Clause 1, but had we had our way we would have given him more help. As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields pointed out, we could have extended the range of universities considered in Clause 1 beyond Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We wanted to extend the university range to the whole world, as we believe it should be. We could have taken a longer step towards the achievement of secondary education to 16 years of age for all children, if the Opposition had had their way, and had the Government not been so stubborn.

Having said all that, I add that the Bill marks a real, if small advance in British education. Some of us who fought over the years as councillors in local government, and fought, too, on the Floor of the House, for an equitable system of university awards, find it difficult to express our joy in the fact that henceforth all the anomalies and injustices we denounced will go; differences in criteria, differences in the amount of awards, and even the differences between the authorities that grant awards, and—as we discovered on Second Reading—the authorities that still only lend money to students. The difference between the mean authority and the generous authority in regard to university awards has, under the Bill, vanished for all time.

Clause 1 is a milestone and I congratulate the Ministers, both senior and junior and the authorities on it. The authorities, through the years, have devoted much care and pains to a job in which they take great pride; the sifting of potential university candidates. In Clause 1 they have sacrificed something which they have prized. Having sacrificed it to the Minister we believed that that it was only right that the right hon. Gentleman should foot the Bill and not only give the 100 per cent. he has given for the extra cost, but that he should bear 100 per cent. of the entire cost of the Clause.

However, Clause 1 puts heavy responsibilities on the universities and I am sure that they will rise to these responsibilities. When the Bill becomes law the universities alone will decide who goes to them. It will be automatic for both the local authorities and the Minister because the right hon. Gentleman will have to obey his own law. If the universities betray a trust which we are putting in them, if, through carelessness, mutual jealousies or consideration other than educational ones, they fail to carry out the task which the House has entrusted to them, Britain will suffer from that failure in the future.

I am not happy about many of the universities' methods of selection or about the interview as a method of selection. I am not satisfied that we have yet ended the distortion of sixth form work imposed on grammar schools by the requirements of universities as part of their mechanics of selection. I doubt whether universities have built up an adequate clearing house system as effective as that built up by the training colleges. So, when the Bill becomes law, I hope that the heads of universities will get together with grammar school heads and sixth form masters to devise the best methods of securing what must be the goal of us all; that the lad fit for university gets there and the one who is not fit—and we have discussed some of the failures on an earlier Amendment—does not get there, but who, by getting there, keeps out someone who should be there.

I hope, too, that the universities will come out of their ivory towers a little way and collectively approach this problem of selecting worthwhile children for further education in consultation with the colleges of technology, which we regard as primary colleges and by no means as inferior ones. If we are to carry out Clause 1, which fixes certain criteria, its provisions will be within the grasp of thousands of British children who will be entitled to an award at the university—if they can get to one. But there must be a vast expansion of university provision far beyond anything that has yet been planned.

One of the nation's tragedies is that since the war, we have not been prepared to cope with the bulge in the school and university population. It is a tragedy that some boys and girls who are fit to go to university cannot get there because there are no places for them. One of my hon. Friends mentioned earlier that there were nine times as many wanting to go to university as could do so. I take up that point because it has been said that the position is not as bad as that. Some headmasters pointed out to the Press today that the total number includes the multiple applications for university. Many able boys and girls who will be seeking places from the sixth forms this year will be disappointed because we have lagged behind.

Clause 2, which deals with awards other than universities awards is rather a makeshift provision. It represents a sacrifice to the local authorities who are anxious to preserve their own well-deserved place in the educational partnership. Under it, they will continue to have to make the ratepayer pay for much of the cost of further education, except that provided under Clause 1. Moreover, both Clause 1 and Clause 2 apply for only a short time. We were unable to ensure for the local authorities any financial protection in the years beyond the two years covered by the general grant which is mentioned in a later Clause of the Bill.

The second step forward in the Bill is that which secures for all children, for the first time in British history, at least two years and two-thirds of a year at a secondary school. This is excellent. It will mean much to many children and to many schools. I believe that in the long run it will mean more to the weaker brethren, to the least academic amongst our children. It now means, however, that once this part of the Bill comes into operation, at the top of every secondary school there will be more older children. The Bill will supplement the almost miraculous expansion at the top of secondary modern schools of the number of older children due to the voluntary keeping on by parents of children at school.

From that, it follows that we have to devote much more thought and care than we have done, not merely to the problem of getting adequate staff for the children of the age of 15-plus in our secondary modern schools, but also to the content of the education that we are providing for the 14-yeax-olds and 15-year-olds and, especially for the non-academic child of 15-plus.

I am not a pessimist. No man who had the rich experience of daily contact with young folk, as I have had for a quarter of a century, could lose faith in our young people. I deplore the way in which newspapers seize on the child who goes wrong and features such a child as though it was a typical British youngster. Seeing, as I do, the temptations that face young children—all the resources of a cheap commercial culture flung at them in screaming headlines, lurid book-covers and violent radio and television—I am often amazed that so many of them manage to survive all this without going wrong. The battle for the preservation of worthwhile values is being fought in our schools. It is being fought particularly in the year to which the Bill adds a precious extra term for many children.

I hope that at ministerial level, at professional level among the teachers, at local authority level and at home and at church level, there will be a vast amount of real thinking about the content and purpose of the education of children below the academic stream children in this very mature 14-year-old and 15-year-old group that now confronts us, a 14-year-old and 15-year-old group which is far more mature than any previous generation of the same age.

There follows, too, from this bold step forward of the Minister the need for a campaign to explain to the people just what we are doing when we raise the school-leaving age for some children by a term or a term and a half. We want a positive campaign in which intelligent employers will join and in which unintelligent employers who are deprived for a term of juvenile labour will be taught that we are really doing something good for Britain and, in the long run, even for unintelligent employers. We cannot separate the claims of industry from the claims of education.

I know that the Minister welcomes the closest contact that we can make between the enlightened industrialist and the educationist at local and national level. I admit that the Bill will mean a dislocation of the labour market. There was a similar dislocation—probably a much bigger one—when the school leaving age was raised, in my father's time, from 11 to 12. We and the Minister believe, however, that the gains that we shall get from the lengthening for certain children of the last year in a secondary school is more than commensurate with any dislocation of labour.

We have to show in the next months, before this part of the Bill comes into practice, that what the Bill does is not to punish some children for having the wrong birthday, but to confer upon hundreds and thousands of children an extra benefit which will help to prepare them for life. But, above all, I believe that we must see that the education in this last year of secondary modern school is education for the less intellectual children, is broad and wide in such a way as to give them the interest about which my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields spoke.

The Bill is a declaration of faith in Britain's future. It is a slightly mild declaration. It is a less wholehearted one than some of us would have made if we could only have persuaded the Minister to understand and accept our very cogent arguments in Committee, but I welcome it and I most sincerely congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on bringing it forward.

I regret that the Minister has not had the statesmanship and the courage to go one stage further and to accept the arguments which he himself has given to us from time to time, because the paradox of the Bill is that the Minister accepts most of the principles which we have tried to write into his own Bill. I sincerely congratulate him on the step forward which he has taken. I am quite sure that the Opposition will bring unqualified support to everything he does to bring the advantages of the Bill and particularly of that part dealing with 15-year-old children, to the notice of the public, and to earn the good will of parents who have to obey this law when it comes into practice in two years' time.

10.27 p.m.

Dr. A. Thompson

My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) referred to the broad highway of education. I certainly believe that the Bill does a great deal to broaden the highway and I share the sentiments of my hon. Friends in the general gestures of support which they gave the Bill today. I would make two points about the way in which I think the highway narrows in places and where the difficulty of access still remains. The point I would select is the point referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) of university entrance and the great responsibility that attaches to the universities in this matter.

On this side of the House, underlying most of our arguments is the belief that boys and girls academically qualified should have access to the universities. We are unhappy about the additional tests imposed at the points of selection. I am personally particularly unhappy about the Oxford and Cambridge methods of selection, largely because they are left to individual colleges. A very eminent Oxford don recently stated that one of the principles of selection was to preserve social balance. I am not very happy about this. As far as I can see, what is meant by preserving social balance is to balance against very clever working-class boys slightly less clever middle-class and upper-class boys. I do not think that he meant it the other way round. The interposing of this criterion of social balance militates slightly against academic standards.

The Minister intervened in Committee to defend the universities on this point of selection and he seemed to place a great deal of faith in their selection methods. I think he places a little too much, not because the universities are bad at it but because a shortage of places in the universities means that the universities have to look for excuses for keeping people out and not for reasons for bringing them in. Wherever demand is greater than supply, the supply must look for reasons for debarring people. Often, these reasons are quite arbitrary.

I do not think that we have a method of selection, based on character and personality and the other non-academic criteria, as elaborate as the Minister seems to believe. His judgment I respect in many ways. In personal cases I have brought to his notice, he has shown great consideration and judgment. But, on this point, he is a little optimistic and perhaps a little misled.

The universities should be in a position to accept students who are academically qualified. In the case of Scotland, which I know better—not because the system is better or worse, but because I am more acquainted with it—the universities should be in a position to accept all those candidates who reach the standards prescribed by the Scottish Universities Entrance Board.

In support of my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen, I say that the distortion imposed on the schools by the universities' method of selection—perhaps not by them as a deliberat policy so much as by the subjects they insist upon—also exists in Scotland. Actually in Scotland it is the Scottish Universities Entrance Board which decides what qualifications are needed. This Board is responsible to nobody—not even the Secretary of State, who refuses to answer questions about it. The Board is a kind of Dr. Beeching—unanswerable to Parliament or the universities or to the schools on this matter. The decisions it makes reach right down into the education system. It affects, and, as my hon. Friend said, sometimes distorts, the pattern of education in the schools.

This is an important question, and I hope that the Minister will look at it again and stop thinking that it does not matter if demand exceeds supply as the universities, by their selection methods, can sort it all out properly. I am not sure that they can. I am sure that if he took his vice-chancellors to lunch they would not, in the privacy of the Athenaeum, where vice-chancellors go for lunch, claim that their selection methods were as good as all that. They would admit that they are often forced to find excuses for excluding people because there are too many applicants.

By 1970 in Scotland, the estimated demand for university places will exceed supply by 9,000. This does not take account of any increase there may be in overseas students. May I say that I would certainly not attempt to exclude overseas students? I applaud the ten dency to bring more and more of these students to this country. Nor does the estimate take account of the increased ratio of women students.

With regard to women students, social change in Scotland is affecting the balance. Hitherto it has been a marked feature of university life that the girl students are always socially two or three categories above the men. There is a very wide variety of social origins among the men students, including miners' and railwaymen's sons. But the girls seem, with a few honourable exceptions, to come from two or three notches higher up the social scale. As it becomes more acceptable to give daughters the same opportunities at universities as sons—and that acceptance is coming—we might see the demand for places increasing even more than is estimated.

I was very heartened by the speech of the Under-Secretary of State. I thought that it indicated a new liaison between his Department and the universities at this crucial point of the transfer of a boy or girl leaving school to the university. There is no reason why this liaison should not exist. I cannot quite share the view that the Scottish system of education is so superior as my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) claimed. Superiority perhaps exists over a certain range, but if one looks closely at the universities and examines the ratio of staff to students, one finds that in Scottish universities the ratio in some departments is one member of the staff to seventy students. The new University of York is to have a ratio of one staff member to seven students. Clearly, Scotland has a lot of overtaking to do in this respect.

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen in his regret that the prestige and status of the training colleges have not received the attention they deserve. The Educational Institute for Scotland, for instance, made a proposal which was a very good one, that all colleges of education in Scotland should be formed into a degree-granting federation, granting an associateship after three years and a bachelor degree after a four-year course. The fact remains, of course, that in most respects the training colleges are the exact equivalents of the universities. A lecturer in educational psychology at the training colleges must have the same qualifications as a lecturer in educational psychology at the universities.

I agree that the Scottish system with regard to teacher training colleges is different from the English, but I do not propose to be drawn into saying anything about their respective merits, except to say that the academic requirements for staff are exactly the same for both. Yet we allow the universities to select their students but are less willing to allow the training colleges the right to select the kind of students which they will have.

In some fields the training colleges are in a position to get better academically qualified people because the salaries which they pay are higher than those paid by the universities. A lecturer in psychology at a training college can earn more than a lecturer in psychology at a university. Therefore, the arguments about the inferiority of training colleges seem to me to break down.

As I have said, apart from that, we welcome the constructive and positive parts of the Bill and wish it all success.

10.37 p.m.

Mr. Hannan

Very briefly, I too, wish to say how I welcome some of the provisions of the Bill and dislike some of the others. No doubt the Under-Secretary of State has made a note of those, particularly the one on the reserve course which the Secretary of State for Scotland has in extending the number of leaving dates. I hope that the Secretary of State will not allow himself to be prevailed upon to do anything by way of the provision of employment for young people which will outweigh his wisdom as the Minister responsible for education.

The Bill largely provides by regulation for certain things to happen. Even some of my hon. Friends would not go all the way with me in the matter of the school-leaving age. It has always seemed a mystery to me that whereas, as individuals, they are prepared to do all that they can and to make all the sacrifices that they can to ensure that their own children have the best facilities for as long as they can enjoy them, they acquiesce in and, indeed, provide excuses for and cite the difficulties of administration of the local authorities, and even sympathise with the Secretary of State. They all the time forget that in this matter, as the Minister said in his Second Reading speech, whether we legislate for it or not, young people are to remain longer at school. Let us recognise that fact and make provision for it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King), with whom I have so often been in so much agreement, said that it is in the schools that the battle for higher standards of living is being fought. Strangely enough, this was supported in a way by the Minister of Transport yesterday when he introduced the Road Traffic Bill. The right hon. Gentleman then said, and he did not say it in his usual facetious manner, that despite the fact that traffic had increased and that the population had increased, the accident rate among children had nevertheless declined. This is due, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, to the education in the schools and to the work of the road safety committees, and so forth. Is there not a lesson to be learned from that and, by analogy, something to be learned about delinquency and vandalism? Would it not save the nation countless thousands of pounds if we gave our children a longer education and saved the cost in other ways?

I very much regret Clause 5. The Minister has disentangled Section 43 of the 1946 Act and has included provisions covering further education in Clause 1, of which subsection (2) makes provision for the school bursaries. Some of us have been concerned about the fact that: these provisions were made at a late stage so that we were not able to raise them with the Secretary of State. Clause 5 (1) contains no provision about hardship. The qualification governing school bursaries says that grants are to be made to enable students to take advantage of courses without hardship to themselves; but the word "financial", which appeared in the 1946 Act, has been removed. I do not know why this qualification should be applied to children aged between 15 and 16.

While the Bill contains important provisions about the universities, some of us are equally anxious about the lack of provision and the lack of facilities for those young people who are 15 and 16 years of age, who constitute about 80 per cent. of the school population and who will grow into the adults whose industrial production will be essential to the country's export markets. The lack of day-release facilities in Scotland is shocking. It is true that the Minister is able to point to some recent improvements, but we are still far short of what is necessary.

My hon. Friend the Member for Itchen was inclined to say that the admission to university of one person in nine in England and Wales was not too bad, but the figures which should be considered are the total number of applications and the total number admitted. Recent returns show that throughout the United Kingdom 190,000 applications were lodged for the session 1961–62 as against 151,000 for the previous year. Of those, 12,600 were submitted in Scotland and only 4,600 accepted. The position was very much worse in England and Wales.

That is a measure of the opportunity. That is the challenge to us. It would be churlish not to admit that the Bill goes some way towards providing better opportunities, the wherewithal, but it does not do anything towards providing the next stage—the facilities and teachers necessary to make use of the most precious raw material the country owns—human brain power.

10.44 p.m.

Mr. Willey

We are bringing to a close a discussion—which, I am sure, everyone will recognise as having been constructive—on some important aspects of education. This is not a debate which will not be continued. We shall be able to resume it on the general grant Orders and on the Regulations to be made under the Bill. Much more important, we recognise that in the Bill we are empowering the Minister fully to implement the recommendations of the Anderson Committee. We warn him that we shall exercise all the pressure we can to encourage him to implement the majority Report.

The Minister has elected to rely upon two school-leaving dates. Again, I give him warning that we shall now exercise all the pressure we can legitimately exercise to encourage him to make an early announcement on the major recomdation of the Crowther Report, and increase the school-leaving age to 16.

Meanwhile, we recognise that we have half a loaf, and we have to remember that these are very hard times for Government Departments which are non-agricultural. We therefore recognise the achievement of the right hon. Gentleman in obtaining this half loaf for us. The Bill is not unimportant. It will be of considerable help to education—both by reason of its provisions relating to the school-leaving dates and its provisions for awards. We are grateful for what has been done, and we hope that in the next few months, before the end of the Session, we shall have an announcement from the right hon. Gentleman that he will definitely increase the school-leaving age to 16.

10.46 p.m.

Mr. Brooman-White

A good starting point for the Third Reading debate—which has ranged very widely—was given by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) when he made a quotation concerning the State of Massachusetts, showing that two hundred years ago America was struggling with problems analogous to those which we are now discussing. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have Drought that quotation up to date by referring to the President of the United States' recent message on education to Congress, complaining of the very sort of difficulties that we are faced with—staffing problems, accommodation problems, the availability of places, and so forth. We are too often inclined to think that we alone are battling with these difficulties. In fact, it is a world-wide problem, in respect of which the future position of our nation will depend very much on whether we overcome certain facets of these difficulties faster than our competitors overcome theirs.

The hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) referred in passing to the rôle played by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) in the Committee. I should like to put on record that I hope that no hon. Member will slip into an error that we sometimes make in our Scottish deliberations of confusing quantity with quality. The hon.

Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs has very wide knowledge of the subject, and referred directly to the points which mattered. He was absent from the Committee only during the discussion of one Scottish Clause, which concerned leaving dates. I do not think that we suffered greatly because of that, because what we have done in that Clause is in accordance with the concerted views of the Scottish education authorities, directors of education, and bodies representing the Scottish teaching profession and others. I appreciate that many hon. Members would want to push this further, but at this stage we have received no representations asking us to go further than we have in fact gone.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) raised a few points which we touched upon in the course of our discussion, and the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) was specially concerned with the question of school bursaries. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) indicated that we shall have an opportunity for further discussion on this matter, because we are having a revision of the bursary regulations.

In general, the tone of the debate, on both sides, has been very favourable to the Bill. The Opposition always have two choices in their approach to any Measure. They can either say that it is a bad Measure, or that it is a good one, which does not go far enough. They have been very generous in their references to the progress that the Bill has made. This Measure is a big step forward, especially for Scotland, in many ways, and it has been welcomed throughout Scotland. I therefore commend the Bill to the House for Third Reading.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.