HC Deb 19 November 1962 vol 667 cc827-83

Order for Second Reading read.

3.42 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Tilney)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The House is aware that the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan stemmed from the Trade and Economic Conference held at Montreal in September, 1958. By that plan 1,000 scholarships were awarded, half to come from the United Kingdom. The scheme for this was worked out at the first Commonwealth Education Conference held at Oxford in July, 1959. This was followed by a White Paper—Cmnd. 894—in November, 1959, and after that the Commonwealth Scholarships Act, 1959, was passed by Parliament setting up the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission to administer the plan in the United Kingdom. The Bill seeks to amend that Act.

I think that the House will be interested in the record as it now stands. The following countries have stated that they will make the following awards under the plan: the United Kingdom, 500; Canada, 250; Australia, 100; India, 100; Pakistan, 40; New Zealand, 25; Federation of Malaya, 12; Ghana, 10; Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 10; Ceylon, 6; East Africa, 4; Nigeria, 8; Sierra Leone, 2; Cyprus, 3; Jamaica, 2; Hong Kong, 2; and Malta, 1. That amounts to 1,075, which is 75 more than was envisaged at the time of the Montreal Conference and which, I think the House will agree, is all to the good.

In the current year, 1962–63, 475 out of our total of 500 have been awarded and taken up. As is to be expected at the start of any new scheme, it cannot attain full momentum at once, but the large bulk of the awards have been taken up from other countries as well. The House is aware that the scheme is primarily for post-graduate study. Some of the awards are for undergraduates from countries which are without universities or where no courses on subjects which the candidates wish to study are available. The scheme has been in operation since 1960 and is an outstanding success. Seven hundred and twenty-four Commonwealth scholars and fellows hold awards at present in 13 different Commonwealth countries, and 475 Commonwealth scholars are in the United Kingdom now.

I think that the House will be interested in a quotation from the Annual Report on the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, issued by the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee, which states, on page 14: From reports received both from the scholars and from the universities it appears that the majority have settled down well and have produced impressive work to their tutors and supervisors.

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

Can the hon Gentleman help us by telling us whether that quotation is from the first Annual Report or the second?

Mr. Tilney

It is from the first Annual Report. There have been one or two failures, but the bulk have done outstandingly well, The tutor of one scholar at Cambridge reported that he was the best student he had ever had. The same report came from another tutor at Manchester University.

The House may be aware that a difficulty has arisen in the administration of the plan in the United Kingdom because of Section 2 (a) of the 1959 Act. This limits Commonwealth scholars in the United Kingdom to 500 at any one time. This limit has been found to be too restrictive. Clause 2, which is the principal provision, seeks to remedy this problem.

When the Commonwealth Governments agreed on the Scholarship and Fellowship scheme, of which this country is providing 500 scholarships out of 1,000, it was expected that the normal tenure of a scholarship would be only two years, but the experience of the Scholarship Commission so far is that over half of the scholars wish to read for their Ph.D. This may mean that they want their course to last up to three years in all. However, a substantial proportion of the scholars do not require their full third year, but take their degrees and go home within a few months of the start of their third academic year.

So long as the total number of awards at one time is limited to 500, these shorter extensions block a scholarship unit to cover the full academic year, since the units cannot be filled again until the following autumn. It is very rare to fill a vacancy in the middle of the academic year and it is for this reason that there is only one annual competition. The list of nominations from the sending countries for that competition must be received by the Scholarship Commission by the beginning of each calendar year if successful candidates are to be found places in our universities. Therefore, the preliminary selection and examination—often there are several thousand candidates—have to take place during the preceding months.

The result of the annual competition is announced in the summer, and the scholars take up their awards in October, at the beginning of the academic year. If a successful candidate were to be asked to 'postpone taking up his or her award until later in the year it would entail a delay of, perhaps, eighteen months or more from the date of his or her application, and the likelihood would be a withdrawal of that application.

The result of the inability to take up the full quota is that the money provided by Parliament has not been fully spent. The quota of 500 drops to 450 between April and October of each year, and the average current number for the year as a whole is less than the 500 visualised by Parliament when it passed the 1959 Act. This Bill does not mean any change in policy. At the start of each academic year, the Scholarship Commission will have available, if this Measure is passed, somewhat more than 500 scholarships, but these will fall away between the spring and summer of each year, giving an average of 500 over the year as a whole.

It was assumed at first that two years would be the normal tenure of a scholarship and, as a result, in the first two competitions that were held, 250 new awards were advertised, but, due to the third-year extensions being much greater than expected the Commission is now limited to no more than 200 new awards. If this restriction can be removed, as it will be if the Bill is passed, between 225 and 230 awards will be available at present costs.

The Delhi Conference reported that it would be unfortunate if third-year extensions caused the number of new awards made annually to be reduced. Although by this amending Bill there appears to be no limit on expenditure, it is the Government's intention to make awards within the spirit of the allocation of 500. Moreover, the overall limit of£6 million over five years which is imposed by the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960, for expenditure under both Acts, will apply.

Clause 1 brings the 1959 Act into line with the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960 by covering the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. There are no universities in those places to which candidates for United Kingdom scholarships from abroad could go, and that was not realised in 1959. The Scholarship Commission pointed out that there might he Channel Islanders or Manxmen who have graduated at a United Kingdom university but wish to apply for scholarship awards in another country, and this Clause would put that matter right.

I trust that this Bill will be welcomed on both sides of the House.

3.54 p.m.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee East)

We on this side of the House accept the Bill as a necessary change, for the reasons outlined by the Minister, but I must tell the hon. Gentlemen that we regret that the Government have not taken this opportunity of introducing a Bill dealing with Commonwealth educational co-operation to do something a great deal more imaginative than is proposed in this miserably modest little Measure.

As the Minister has said, the Bill follows the second Commonwealth Education Conference at Delhi, which produced a Report containing a great deal of interesting material. Out of the many recommendations and proposals coming from that Delhi Conference it would have been perfectly possible for the United Kingdom to have given a lead to the other Commonwealth countries by doing something much more ambitious than this. The net result of these proposals is an increased public expenditure on Commonwealth scholarships of, perhaps,£20,000 a year, out of a total expenditure of£½million.

That, by itself, is a very small increase, indeed, for a very important and worth-while purpose, but matters are a bit worse than that. As the Minister explained—but, perhaps, did not bring out as fully as he might have done—this£20,000 extra on the Commonwealth scholarship side of Commonwealth educational co-operation is to come out of the same total of£6 million which the House voted for all these purposes under the Commonwealth Teachers Act. The Government are, therefore, handing out a very small contribution for a good cause with one hand, and, in effect, taking it away with the other.

The Financial Memorandum attached to the Bill explains that the overall limit of£6 million at present imposed by Section 1 (3) of the Commonwealth Teachers Act, 1960, will continue to apply, and the Commonwealth Teachers Act states that payments shall not in the aggregate exceed£6 million. I understand that this£6 million is a quin-quennial grant and is expected to last until about 1965 so, at the moment, there is no question of actually preventing expenditure on other worthwhile purposes because of the increase in scholarships, but that might easily happen before 1965.

The Government propose to spend over the rest of the five-year period about£60,000 more on scholarships but, at the end of the day, it will come from moneys that would otherwise be used for sending teachers to key posts overseas or for providing places at training colleges here, and for supporting the other very good schemes for teachers' training that we have under Commonwealth educational co-operation.

Even in regard to Commonwealth scholarships, however, the Government could have proposed something a great deal more ambitious than is found in the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Report of the Delhi Conference, he will find the following statement in paragraph 16, page 21: The Committee was agreed that not only could the plan"— That is, the Commonwealth scholarships plan— as at present operating be expanded with advantage, but that there were several directions, considered in this Report, in which it could be extended. These would bring benefits to and meet the needs of the countries of the Commonwealth. Such expansion and extension must depend on finance, and finance was clearly involved in many priorities outside the terms of reference of this Committee. There we have the reason why this Delhi Conference Report is in many ways a singularly unsatisfying document; a meeting of first-class education experts with very good schemes ran up against the various Chancellors of the Exchequer of the Commonwealth countries. I again express regret that the United Kingdom Government did not try to break that negative atmosphere by setting an example, as they could have done, by bringing a better Bill before the House.

At the same time, I would, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, pay a tribute to the Commonwealth scholarships scheme. It has been one of the most excellent Commonwealth plans that we have seen for a number of years, and any of us who have had the privilege of welcoming the Commonwealth scholars when they arrive here in the autumn of each year will have found what an excellent group of young men and women they are, how much reality they give to so many of the things we say about the Commonwealth, and what the possibilities are of this kind of plan continuing and expanding as time passes.

The Commonwealth scholarships scheme does a good educational job, but it also does a good job for the Commonwealth, because it provides just that kind of cross-fertilisation of Commonwealth contacts which gives the Commonwealth more reality as a world-wide community. The scheme has also provided something more. It is based on the principle of mutual aid; that is, it is not simply a scheme in which the richer and more privileged members of the Commonwealth help the poorer and the less privileged. It is a co-operative scheme in which East Africa finds places at Makerere College for people from New Zealand just as New Zealand provides places for people from Africa. In this way, it takes the edge off what can very often be the corrupting donor-recipient relationship in the emerging and developing countries, and helps to cope with one of the practical problems of giving economic aid by the richer to the poorer countries. For these reasons, it is an especially important scheme.

I should like to comment on various aspects of the scheme, as we have seen it working, now that we have had two years experience of it. I was glad that the Minister made some mention of the point which has been raised from time to time about the need to make these Commonwealth scholarships available to non-academic students of various sorts, and not to confine them simply to the more academic type of post-graduate student. If the Minister looks back at the Report of the original Commonwealth Education Conference at Oxford in August, 1959, he will find there that this point was emphasised at that time. He will also find that when the original Bill came before the House, a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House pressed this point.

If the hon. Gentleman turns to the Report of the Delhi Conference he will discover there that the very point was being repeated in 1962 just as it was made in 1959. It was pointed out at the Delhi Conference by a number of the developing countries of the Commonwealth that there should be a special regard for providing Commonwealth scholarship awards for professional and technical people, as well as for the ordinary academic post-graduates. This is especially important to the newer and poorer countries of the Commonwealth, and it is very disappointing indeed that, after all the discussion there has been on this aspect of the allocation of these scholarships, the record should be such a poor one.

Going through the awards, as far as I can see only one has been made in the field of adult education, which was emphasised by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) and by other hon. Members in earlier discussions. I should have thought that a number of our excellent adult colleges in this country ought to have had the pleasure of welcoming a Commonwealth scholar in their midst. In the new African nations, which the Minister knows intimately, the kind of people who can make the greatest contribution to the problems of development in their own countries, and get the best advantage from a year or two years' education, is the mature type of person who has risen to a position of leadership in his own community, but who has not had the advantage of very much formal education in his youth.

I hope that both the countries nominating people—for they have a big responsibility in this matter—and our own authorities in this country, allocating places here, will pay some attention to this, and will try in the years ahead to widen the scope of the awards under the scholarships scheme. I hope that they will pay particular attention to the need for technical and technological awards under the scholarship scheme. I think that this is a very important aspect of it.

The fact is the present concentration of the scholarship awards on mainly academic post-graduates means that the benefits of the scheme are unevenly shared throughout the developing Commonwealth. One of the mistakes which we in this country make very frequently in looking at our problems of giving aid to the developing countries of the Commonwealth is to lump them all together, as if the emerging countries are all of a similar character. This is very far from being so. For instance, countries like India and Tanganyika are both developing countries in a very real sense of the term. They are both facing similar problems of economic development, and the income per head of the population is about the same at£20 per annum.

But a country like India has vast resources of graduate manpower at its disposal, whereas in a country like Tanganyika, if the offer of the provisions of the Commonwealth scholarships scheme is made, the reply invariably is, "We have got only a handful of graduates, anyway, and we are really not able to take advantage of it." If the awards could be widened and made more flexible they would provide more effectively what was the purpose in the minds of many people at the inception of the scheme.

Secondly, I want to say a few words on one of the main reasons for introducing this piece of legislation. It is on the fact that a number of Commonwealth scholars in this country want to stay on into their third year. I accept what the Minister said about this. It would obviously be very wasteful if a student who has been enjoying this valuable kind of help for two years, had to leave before completing the course of study and gaining his Ph.D., or whatever other qualification he was seeking. At the same time, I would utter a word of warning to the Minister. I hope that not too high a proportion of Commonwealth students will be allowed to become three-year scholars. I should like to see a bigger proportion of one-year scholars, so that we can share the immense privilege of this kind of scholarship more widely in the developing Commonwealth.

Let us face it. Anybody with experience of this subject knows the danger in the emerging countries, where the privilege of higher education is so immense, of people becoming permanent students and going on from one scholarship to another, and from one part of the world to another and rarely going back to their own countries, which are supposed to be the recipients of the expertise which they acquire. It think that we ought to watch the scheme so that it is not too much a professional students scheme. All the time we ought to keep in mind that the aim here is the provision of that kind of higher educational training which is of the greatest use to their own countries when they go back to them.

One of the reports mentions this problem, with which we are all familiar, and that is that it is sometimes difficult to persuade successful students who have come from overseas to go back and use their training in their own countries. For my part, I would support being very tough about this, both in terms of the nominating country setting up conditions under which people get the scholarships, and in the framing of our own regulations in this country, to ensure that these people do go back and use the advantages of their higher educational training. I am sure that the vast majority of them do, but we have to bear in mind that there are a few who do not.

The third point to which I want to draw attention is that, now that we have had the scheme in being for two years and getting into the third year, we have an opportunity of looking at how it is working on a Commonwealth basis—not only at what Her Majesty's Government have done, but how other countries of the Commonwealth are playing their part in the scheme. I have emphasised the importance of the scheme as a Commonwealth piece of mutual aid. When one looks at the figures, so far as I have been able to find them for the latest figures have not yet been published, one discovers that it works out something like this.

India originally undertook to provide 100 Commonwealth scholarships, but the latest figure that I can find is that only 22 have so far either been provided or taken up. Pakistan undertook to provide 30 and two have so far been taken up. Malaya promised 12 and three have been taken up. Ghana promised 10 and so far as I can discover none has been taken up. The Central African Federation promised 10 and three have been taken up. Ceylon promised six and two have been taken up.

These were the figures at the end of two years and the scheme was originally supposed to be a two-year one. So one cannot be wholly happy about the way the original target of 1,000 scholarships has been fulfilled. It is, perhaps, easier for an hon. Member on this side of the House than it is for a Minister when discussing these matters, to say that it is important that these targets should be fulfilled and that the scheme should remain a 'co-operative one in which all Commonwealth countries participate fully.

There is an immense value in students from this country or from Canada, New Zealand or Australia being able to go overseas to universities in India or Africa. From India's point of view—and I admit that I do not know the particular difficulties involved here—it would be well worth her while reaching her full target of 100 so that those places are taken up as quickly as may be practicable.

I said earlier that I thought the Bill disappointing because one must see it against the background of the immense challenge of educational poverty in the newer and poorer countries of the Commonwealth. Measured against this—although our record in this country is a good one—it does not match the scale of the problem which faces us. I looked up some figures earlier today for the African countries and the latest statistics I could get on secondary education for Tanganyika show that only 1½per cent. of the age group who should be receiving secondary education is getting it. In Nyasaland it is 1.2 per cent. and in Sierra Leone, now an independent member of the Commonwealth, it is 2.8 per cent.

Professor Arthur Lewis, who did some research work on the problem of education in the developing countries a year or two ago, pointed out that if the developing countries were to get "off the ground" educationally, 4 per cent. of this age group would need to enjoy secondary education. Statistics such as those I have quoted show the tremendous gap which remains to be filled.

I always remember that during the period of emergence in Nyasaland I asked a Question about the number of African graduates in Nyasaland. I was told that in that country, which is roughly the size of Scotland, there were 22 African graduates—although 12 happened to be in gaol at the time. This underlines the educational poverty that exists, particularly in the new African countries. Looking at it that way, and at the proposal the Government are now introducing—£20,000 on scholarships without adding anything to the total expenditure planned on Commonwealth educational co-operation—it looks completely inadequate.

We are doing this in a world in which the United States, for example, has launched its tremendously imaginative Peace Corps, a big part of which is an educational offensive to help the underdeveloped countries. We must, therefore, move much faster. However, in fairness—comparing the present American effort with ours—as far as I can discover ours still matches theirs in terms of numbers of teachers sent to developing countries, and probably more than matches theirs in terms of the quality of the work we do, since we have a great deal of experience behind us.

I sometimes think that we do not say enough about the scale of educational help we give to developing countries inside this country. Together with the hon. Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby), I am chairman of a Commonwealth education committee. We carried out a study of overseas students, particularly coloured ones, in London a year or two ago. What was striking about that was the high proportion of places in London County Council and other local authority technical colleges taken up by overseas students studying for entrance to various forms of higher education.

This is a valuable piece of educational aid which is being carried out by our local authorities and if I were the Minister I would be finding out roughly what scale of finance subsidy is involved and I would be adding this to the more formal amounts of aid which we give by way of the scheme under discussion and in other ways. Our local authorities do a remarkable job for which they get far too little credit in the direction. We hear a lot about the problems of an excessively high number of overseas students in their ranks. But, this work is one of the most valuable ways in which we help the developing countries.

The Government are making difficulties for themselves terms of their help to overseas students, particularly at university level, by their failure to plan for sufficient places to meet the needs of students in the United Kingdom. It would be disastrous for the reputation of this country if things got to the point where people were beginning to feel that there was a direct conflict and competition between the overseas students and the children of our constituents who are trying to get places at universities.

I hope that when the Government come shortly to consider, the Report of the Robbins Committee, on the structure of higher education in Britain, they will make arrangements in their planning to provide an adequate number of places, not only to meet domestic British university needs, but also so that we can play our full share in providing places for people coming here from overseas.

Important as the Commonwealth scholarships are as part of our general Commonwealth educational help, probably even more important is the help we give in providing places at our training colleges here for teacher trainees and in sending teachers to the developing countries, where they fill key posts for some time. There has now been a welcome break-through in the difficulties of persuading teachers in this country to give a period of service in the developing countries of the Commonwealth.

For some time after the Commonwealth Education Conference made its recommendations the response from teachers to go overseas was extremely disappointing. I am told, however,—particularly with regard to teachers for East Africa—for which the Government are prepared to——

Mr. Speaker

I would remind the hon. Member that although on Second Reading we have very wide debates, the point which the hon. Member now appears to be raising seems to be practically in space as regards the Bill.

Mr. Thomson

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I would like to clear up this matter.

Mr. Speaker

I would welcome help about it. I may be wrong, but the hon. Member seemed to be going far away from the topic.

Mr. Thomson

With respect, Mr. Mr. Speaker, I did not wish to go too far from the topic, but the difficulty we are in is that we are being asked on Second Reading of a Bill to step up expenditure on Commonwealth scholarships by£60,000 over the next three years, out of a sum of£6 million laid down in an earlier Act, the Commonwealth Teachers Act.

There arises out of this the whole wide subject of Commonwealth educational arrangements. We are bound to ask, therefore, whether, in approving this expenditure on Commonwealth scholarships, we are not going to take away money from the even more important job of providing——

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Member. He is quite right. It is a valid argument. I did not appreciate the fact that he was directing his argument to that point.

Mr. Thomson

I am grateful, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to pursue this much further, because I have already been speaking for too long. In any case, I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) intends to explore the implications of this further in her winding-up speech for the Opposition.

I am glad that the Government have achieved this break-through in persuading teachers to go overseas. I have been involved in a number of exchanges across the Floor in recent years about this matter and I have sometimes been told by Ministers that they could not get a better response to the efforts they were making to persuade teachers to go overseas because so many teachers already served abroad. All the evidence now shows that there is a demand among teachers in this country who are prepared to give service to the developing countries overseas.

The obstacle to their going is not lack of idealism on the part of the teachers but, rather, the unwillingness of the Treasury to provide enough money for them to go. One of the most encouraging aspects we are finding is the willingness of technical teachers to serve overseas. The need for their assistance in the developing countries is particularly required because of the wide lack of technical educational facilities in those countries. In the light of this I hope that the Minister, before we wind up the debate, will assure us that the Government will not allow this£6 million limit which is laid down to hold up the expansion of the various activities in the field of Commonwealth educational co-operation.

As I understand the position, there is no present risk that essential expenditure on sending teachers overseas or providing places in training colleges here will be held up because we vote this extra money for Commonwealth scholarships, but it may well be that before 1965 is reached we shall need to spend more than£6 million on all these things put together. I hope, therefore, that before the debate ends we can have an assurance from the Government on this point. If we have that assurance, we on this side of the House will accept the Bill as far as it goes while regretting that the Government have not taken the opportunity to give a much more imaginative Commonwealth lead on all these tasks.

4.20 p.m.

Mr. R. P. Hornby (Tonbridge)

As I think he well knows, I share the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) for the part that educational co-operation can play in Commonwealth relations and the contribution that the more developed countries can make to the less developed. The hon. Member described this as a miserably modest Measure. Although I agree with nearly all the individual points that he made, and while I think that the Bill is certainly modest, I would hardly describe it as miserable for the reason that, as I think everyone who has studied it will agree, it is a Measure asked for and wanted by the Commonwealth countries concerned in the Commonwealth scholarships scheme.

The Bill is doing something for which the Delhi Conference specifically asked. It is removing the limit of 500 scholarships tenable at one time and thereby enabling scholars to stay on for a third or part of a third year without denying someone else a place under the scheme. The cost is about£20,000 a year. Nevertheless, I think that the hon. Member for Dundee, East is absolutely right in raising the question of the relationship of the Bill to the Commonwealth teachers training scheme. This extra£20.000 a year comes out of the overall figure of£6 million that can be spent up to the end of March, 1965, with powers to increase the sum thereafter.

It would be interesting if we could be told by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations at what rate our expenditure on these schemes is running at present. Are we coming anywhere near this total figure? If so, to what extent is this extra£20,000 on the Commonwealth scholarships scheme likely to impede the teacher training schemes both in this country and overseas?

Although I welcome the Bill as a valuable though small Measure but an advance in this respect, I think that there is an urgent need for looking at educational aid and co-operation in a much wider context. This is a piecemeal Measure, admitted as such and valuable as such, but we also need a much broader picture because the range of our educational co-operation is very wide. It embraces the teachers training scheme, the Commonwealth scholarships scheme and also the activities of the British Council and our connections with U.N.E.S.C.O. and similar organisations. It embraces the number of places we find for overseas students in the universities and elsewhere in this country and also the hostels we provide for them.

In looking at a scheme like this and in asking ourselves, as we always have to do in social service and other matters, where the priorities lie, it is important that at some time, and preferably in the near future, we should gather these various aspects of educational co-operation together and look at them as a whole and not in the piecemeal manner we have to look at them in this debate. Perhaps one such occasion will be when we have an opportunity of considering the next Report of the Department for Technical Co-operation, which examines the premises on which we give aid of various kinds and the manner in which we administer it. I hope that this is not straying too far from the confines of this Bill and that this will be done before very long.

This scheme is widely recognised as a valuable one which all the Governments who attended the Delhi Conference wish to see continued. I was interested in the figures which the Under-Secretary was able to provide of the number of places now being taken up and the number of Governments who are co-operating.

If we and other members of the Commonwealth are to have the maximum value from the scheme, it seems to me that two points, amongst others, need emphasising. The first is that we and other Governments should be as sure as possible that the courses for which we nominate students or graduates are courses suitable to their needs. The second, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East has already said, is that when they have taken these courses the graduates should go back and contribute to the needs of the country from which they came.

On the first point, of nominating students to appropriate courses, it has been said in the Delhi Report that it would be extremely valuable if a clearer picture of the university facilities of the Commonwealth could be built up and made available to all the contributing countries. Certainly, Australia and, I think, New Zealand have already prepared handbooks of facilities available in those countries. It would be helpful if all the other countries in the Commonwealth could follow that example. It would be helpful, going one stage further, if a full picture of the university education facilities of all the countries contributing to the scheme could be amassed so that the nominating countries could see what facilities were available in all the countries concerned. I do not think that this would be a very complicated document to compile, but it would be a valuable one which would help to make the scheme more beneficial.

The second point has also been mentioned already by the hon. Member for Dundee, East. It concerns what happens thereafter to those who receive these scholarships. When considering the priorities it is important to ask ourselves what happens to the students. Do they go back home? What do they do thereafter? It is not for us to decide what nominations other Commonwealth countries should send here. As various reports have always made it understood, they must make their own decisions and arrangements. But in considering the relative priorities in finance as between this scheme and another, and in regarding this, rightly, as part of our aid programme, we are inevitably bound to ask whether we are contributing through these scholarships to people going on to other scholarships and remaining in one of the developed countries or going back to their own country which greatly needs their trained service.

Satisfaction on these two points would greatly reassure those who would like to see this scheme develop and expand. I repeat that we need better information about the courses available and an assurance that those who go on the course are, for the most part, going back to work where they are most wanted.

Finally, I would reiterate the point which the hon. Member for Dundee, East made about our ability to contribute to Commonwealth education, which is linked up with the amount that we are able to do for ourselves in this respect. Our ability to supply teachers for over- seas depends on our ability to recruit them here. Our ability to train people in this and in other fields depends on the facilities that we have available.

In considering, as we shall have to do before long, the Report of the Robbins Committee and our plans for higher education in this country, it is most important that the needs of overseas students within our institutions here should not be lost sight of. If they were to be squeezed out through inadequate facilities here, the loss to our own universities and to the Commonwealth as a whole would be very great.

4.31 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

As far as it goes, I welcome the Bill, but I must, in no carping spirit, say that it is tragically inadequate both in relation to the thirst for education in many parts of the developing Commonwealth and to the hopes of the second Commonwealth Education Conference at Delhi.

Of all forms of aid, educational help is the most needed, and certainly in the countries of which I have personal experience—for instance, Ghana and Nigeria—the most acceptable. My complaint against the Bill is that it is a lost opportunity. Of course, it is very easy to be full of good intentions and, therefore, I propose to be as specific as possible.

The Minister spoke as though the question was one purely of acclimatisation. I have been to the British Council and have seen some of its work. In the first twenty-four hours of a Commonwealth student's arrival in Britain the work of the British Council is excellent and leaves nothing to be desired. The British Council does its best for these Commonwealth scholars who ask for help later in the course, but the difficulty is a very natural one. They all come in the middle or the latter end of September, and the British Council is overwhelmed and is not in a position to do all that it would wish, and so many of these scholars, when they first come here, feel somewhat lost.

It may be said by the Minister that there are orientation classes. My information from the students, scholars and others is that the orientation classes are impersonal and sketchy and at the most they last for fourteen days. In fourteen days they are supposed to undertake what is called the assimilation of a new cultural background. To the sociologists in the classroom this seems little more than a catchword and a phrase, but to reduce to human terms this new cultural background there is an immense obstacle.

I wish to draw, without being too autobiographical, on a personal experience and reduce it in terms of one case. At the training college where I did my teacher's professional training there was a Nigerian student who, along with us, was reading Whitehead and the history of Western education, studying the works of the American sociologists, doing intelligence tests and all the other semi-mathematical details of Western science that are now done at teachers' training colleges. Getting to know him well, because he came to study with us, I realised that he was going through all the rigmarôle of the educational theory that is supposed to be necessary for teachers in Western Europe.

Eighteen months later, after he had left this training college, I went to stay with him in Abeokuta, Nigeria, and, to try to pay back the sort of hospitality which had been extended to him in Scotland, he extended what he regarded as the greatest honour that he could do me. He took me to see his chief. Here was this Nigerian student, when we were seeing his chief, for thirty-five minutes prostrate in front of the Allake of Abeokuta, talking to him. The tension that must have arisen in that man's mind when he first came out of Nigeria to study this professional course must have been considerable.

I think that when one reads the Report of the Delhi Conference and considers the method of supplying finance as suggested in the Bill, one must give a high priority to the induction courses that are necessary to overcome tensions. In paragraph 21, on page 4 of the Delhi Report there is a recommendation that more attention should be paid to induction courses. My idea of an induction course is very different from the fourteen days mentioned in the general memorandum. My idea of an induction course is that it should come at the beginning of July—incidentally, a not unimportant consideration, when the weather is warmer—to enable the student to gain some familiarity with the language before starting his scholarship course or student's course.

I may be asked whether I do not know that all these students know English, if not as a first language at least as a second language. But they have a great difficulty in hearing, and it is hard to exaggerate the importance of this consideration. To put the matter in concrete terms, hon. Members on both sides of the House may have a very good understanding of French, but that understanding might not do them such good service if they had to go to Guinea and understand French as it is spoken even by the diplomats of Mr. Sekou Touré. There is a very real problem here, and this, again, is an argument for spending more money on the induction course.

It has been suggested that it might be worth the Minister's while to pay undergraduates to take, possibly one by one, or in groups of six, three British students and three African or Indian students, round Britain in the months of July and August, in the way that undergraduates do jobs conducting buses and in other such ways; that they should be given a lump sum with which to entertain and to give intuition to students from Asia and Africa, and that they should be asked at the end of the period to give a written report on how they had spent this money.

It may be said that this would be expensive and that it would amount to many thousands of pounds, but I would beg the Minister not to be penny wise and pound foolish but to realise that he must insist that there should be a proper training period and a period of acclimatisation instead of the fourteen days period which exists at present.

If group tours of Britain do not find favour, what about university induction courses during the month of September?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. Member, but it seems to me that he is getting rather wide in his argument.

Mr. Dalyell

With respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, this Bill is concerned with how money should be most properly spent in connection with Commonwealth scholars. I ask you whether it would be in order to discuss possible alternatives of how, given a sum of money, it might be spent?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I am sure that if the hon. Member proceeds and connects his argument from time to time with the Bill, he will find no difficulty.

Mr. Dalyell

To continue my argument about induction courses, is it not tragic that the course in the hostels which was conducted by the British Council at Edinburgh had to Dome under the financial axe of 1961, as it was too costly? Now, instead of there being an induction course in the hostels, there is a clay seminar and the students have to return to their separate "digs" at night.

It may be argued by the Minister that this does not matter and there is no great difference, but there is a terrific difference if scholars can form friendships during their early period in this strange country. Are the temporary financial embarrassments of the United Kingdom Government to be made the excuse for not fulfilling this country's destiny? Let there be no mistake; the Commonwealth is bound together by training colleges, technical colleges and universities rather more, perhaps, than it is bound together by political acts.

I want the Minister to tell us what the Government intend to do about induction courses. In paragraph 14 on page 32 of the Delhi Report it is said: Their value is, we feel, considerable in enabling students to settle down quickly and to derive maximum benefit from their stay in the donor country. I specifically refer to "digs", emphasising that, if the most is to be derived from Commonwealth scholarships, sheer physical accommodation becomes absolutely crucial in determining whether their aims are realised or not. I do not say this with the slightest wish to wreck the intention of the Bill, but I am convinced that, unless we take account of the, so to speak, physical comfort of those in receipt of such scholarships, then the scholarships themselves may become utterly worthless. In this House we should be discussing how to make the scholarships as meaningful as possible with the very limited amount of money there is at the disposal of the politicians.

There is sometimes a great deal of criticism of "digs", mostly for the wrong reasons, at the expense of landladies. It is my opinion that the landladies of Britain have done a wonderful job for Commonwealth students. They have, perhaps, been rather ill used by public opinion because a row constitutes news and good relations do not make headlines. Apart from the particular case of Mr. Julius Nyerere who, after he became Prime Minister of Tanganyika, spent two days with the landlady in Edinburgh who had put him up for four years when he was at the university studying, I have seen no good references to the great job done by very many landladies in rather difficult circumstances.

My criticism is of a different kind. If coloured men are to come to this country for academic purposes, they should be with students. The most valuable part of their education may well lie in informal discussions, perhaps late at night, with people of their own age. This is part of education, and we should be making it possible.

It cannot be argued that the British Council form of hostel is ideally suited for Commonwealth scholars and students. One-third of the students they meet in such a hostel should be British. It may be said that this sort of arrangement does not work, that, although it is easy to talk in the House of Commons about the different colours and different races living together, they do not necessarily form a happy group.

Again, may I be excused for drawing on personal experience? In the Garden Hostel of King's College, Cambridge, there were many life-long friendships formed between coloured and British students. Many of us who were able to do so took such students home at Christmas time and during the Easter vacations. If Commonwealth scholars are to get the most out of their scholarships, they should be taken into British homes, because being taken into the home by a fellow student is very different from being taken into homes officially under the auspices of the British Council. In the light of paragraph 18 on page 33 of the Delhi Report, is the Minister prepared to allocate more than£3 million for the provision of hostel places?

The alternative is grim. The universities will expand, and, as they expand to take British students, the demand for accommodation will grow even greater. The good landladies will be faced with a choice—incidentally, there are no landladies in my constituency, and I make no constituency point—between a British student with a certain amount of affluence and, perhaps, a Nigerian or an Asian student who may have only his scholarship to support him and who may, indeed, not be using all that for the purposes for which it was allocated. Is the Minister prepared to embark on a crash programme of special residences for international students? I warn him that, if he is not, the scholarships he gives, even if they are increased in quantity, will not be improved in quality.

I come now to the most unsatisfactory feature of all, the fact that there are students who can find no accommodation except in unfurnished houses. As one who, for political reasons, has been in the Woodside division of Glasgow, the centre of accommodation for the University of Glasgow, I know of the most unsatisfactory circumstances there, where perhaps 10, 11 or 12 students at the university all get together in a cold and inhospitable set of "digs" in a house which was built, possibly, in the early part of the nineteenth century. If the scholarships are to do what the Minister expects of them, we cannot expect students to derive the maximum benefit from them in circumstances like that.

It is important to consider the financial worries which many Commonwealth scholars have. Does the Minister realise that half the amount of some bursaries is paid to dependants in the home country? It is reasonable to insist that the British Government, before giving such scholarships, should insist that the receiving country make provision for relatives. Here I believe is the reason why some students go into cheap and unsatisfactory "digs". I put the direct question to the Minister: is he prepared to ensure that the whole bursary is used for the purposes intended? In the light of paragraph 19 on page 33 of the Delhi Report, is he prepared to insist that a guarantee of adequate allowances to dependants by the receiving country should be a condition of acceptance of the scholarship by the British Government?

Another problem on which the Bill casts no light at all is the extension of the scholarship period, a subject touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thornton). In paragraph 14 on page 3 of the Delhi Report it is argued that the scholarship period should often be extended. Clearly, this ought to be done where to do so is useful to a developing country, but it must not be allowed to mean that there are fewer awards. It is tragic that we have the dilemma, whether to extend the scholarship period or to help more students to come. If a man is worthy to have his scholarship extended, then, in the 1960s, it surely ought to be possible for one of the so-called affluent societies of Western Europe to do it not at the expense of potential students who might follow later.

Of course, I have in mind the proviso made in paragraph 3 on page 18 of the Delhi Report that there is no point in going ahead for a Ph.D when a master's degree would do. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East when he says that we do not want any "eternal" students, but, at the same time, we must have our priorities right.

What happens when a student returns to his own country? The Government should recognise formally or by promotion the completion of successful study abroad. Equally, there is an obligation on students to return home, otherwise the development programme of their countries could become disjointed. There is not very much point in giving scholarships unless there is a guarantee on the part of the recipients that they are prepared to go home to their developing countries and to help in key positions. Without this, the very programme on which the people who sent them depend may become disjointed. I think that the recipient country might give financial inducements to do this work, not only in direct teaching but in the key job, which is the training of teachers. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to ask recipient countries to give a financial inducement to those who go home to train teachers rather than to become administrators or politicians?

On the related question of British teachers who go abroad, is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to agree, in the light of what Sir Charles Arden-Clarke and other have said, that they should be at least as well off as if they had continued in service here at home? In paragraph 35 on page 37 of the Delhi Report there is mention of a three-pronged attack on some of the difficulties which Commonwealth scholarships create. It is said that we should inspire confidence that the interests of teachers will be preserved, that there should be a challenge to teachers on the need for overseas service, and that a climate of opinion should be created among employers of teachers favourable to overseas service.

To carry out these virtuous things it is necessary to have tangible answers to some questions. First, how far is the Minister willing to pay special allowances to augment salaries? Is he prepared to give terminal grants to teachers in the form of a lump sum when they return to the United Kingdom? Is he in a position to accept a code of secondment under which a teacher is guaranteed, according to seniority, either a comparable post on return home or his old salary for a period of two years after his return? One of the virtues of the Bill is that this is not a one-way traffic from Britain to developing countries. This works both ways. But if it is to work meaningfully both ways, questions such as these have to be answered.

Of crucial importance is the question whether the Minister is prepared to finance, and to ask other Commonwealth countries to finance, an interview fund which almost entirely pays for a teacher's flight back to his country towards the end of his period of service abroad or in the United Kingdom if a Commonwealth teacher is concerned if he is listed on a short list for a post of seniority.

With some hesitation I ask whether the Minister is prepared to offer financial inducements to local education authorities who employ teachers who have done a period of service overseas? I realise that there is a code in operation which has not yet had time to work in practice, but the Minister must admit that local education authorities and authorities abroad are under a powerful temptation not to irritate their own electors by preferring a teacher from abroad to "Buggins" who has been on the spot faithfully waiting his turn. A relevant consideration is that teachers who have been away on service abroad under the Bill or a related scheme are the richer for having been away, and local authorities should be asked to accept this.

The Delhi Report raises the question of special links such as those which exist between New Zealand and Fiji and Tonga. The New Zealand headmaster of the grammar school in Tonga speaks of the continuity of interest which is created by the relationship between Tonga and New Zealand, of inspectors going to and fro from New Zealand and of the feeling that he is still part of the ladder of promotion in New Zealand. He refers in another context to the new experience for stale teachers provided by work in underdeveloped countries.

Is the Minister prepared to take the initiative in developing special links between certain parts of this country and certain parts of the developing Commonwealth in the way that New Zealand has developed such links? Is he prepared, as is recommended in the Delhi Report, to send out survey teams, which the Australians do, and, indeed, as is done in Europe by the Salzburg Seminar of American Studies, to find out exactly what is needed and to which individuals the Commonwealth scholarship scheme can be of most benefit? If the survey teams from this country have an idea of the problems of an under-developed region they will know where to place scholarships in this country whereas at the moment it is done more or less at random. The survey team should be made up of lecturers from training colleges and technical colleges who can advise the team on where to go in groups. However worthy the Commonwealth scholarships scheme may be, the fact is that people often go in two's and three's and not to the places most suitable for further training.

It is relevant to mention the problem which faces principals of training colleges. They want to know, not over one year, but over five or seven years, which students are coming to them from abroad so that they can give their lecturers an opportunity to prepare the right courses. I ask the Minister to ask Dr. Inglis, Principal of the Moray House College of Education, which has done pioneering work in this sphere, for his opinion on the question of how much notice should be given to principals of training colleges who are expected to take part in this scheme and to commend again the sort of informal link which has grown up between the Moray House College of Education and, say, the Bahamas, so that courses can be arranged which appeal to a particular territory or groups of territories. What initiative does the Minister propose to take in establishing links between the north-east of England and, say, Pakistan, or the North-East of Scotland and, say, a territory such as Nyasaland?

There is the connected question of in-service courses. The Minister will have read in paragraph 24 on page 34 of the Delhi Report about the visit of 55 teachers from Britain to Nigeria over a period of six to eight weeks. Will the right hon. Gentleman finance similar visits to other territories, because we know of the value of these visits both from those who went and from the Nigerians.

Paragraph 25 on page 34 of the Delhi Report speaks of the need for an experienced teacher to go to an underdeveloped country for a period of from four to six months. It seems to me from personal experience that this is unsatisfactory timing. It is too short to give a person time to settle in properly and too long for a person to go flat out, as was illustrated by the Nigerian visit, which was the pilot scheme. Would it not be better to arrange for those who have what we in Scotland call "parchment", the inspectors' certificate, after two years to go when they are at the peak of their enthusiasm and before they are married?

It is very much easier to induce young men and women to go to development countries for two years before they are married in order to give their best and, at the same time, to carry out the corollary, namely, on the assumption that they have richer experience for having done so, to ask education authorities to give them priority in promotion prospects when they return.

It is an important part of the implications of the Bill to consider rural education in developing countries. Because of that I make no apology for taking up the time of the House on this important subject. The Moray House College of Education pioneered lectures to overseas students, lectures which were conducted by headmasters of Scottish rural schools. I wish to draw attention to page 10, section 66, of the Delhi Report, where it says that a recognition of the special claims of rural teachers for inclusion in teacher-training schemes is vital.

Specifically, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the light of pages 76 and 77 of the Delhi Report, what steps he would recommend to improve the qualifications of those who are already teaching in rural schools in the Commonwealth. Would he, to help rural schools, consider providing such things as ex-Army jeeps for transport of pupils from outlying districts to central schools, and is he prepared to finance, even fairly cheaply, the building of halls of residence in the Commonwealth?

Unless we do this sort of thing, whatever value is attached to the Bill will be lost, because without the physical means of carrying out what we believe must be done for these people it is no use giving them an expensive training in this country for, for instance, rural teaching and then not give them the simplest instruments to put the fruits of the training into action.

But perhaps one has to be realistic. It is no use having simply pockets of Commonwealth scholars studying rural education, say three at Hull, two at Cambridge and three at Glasgow. It would be more to the point to organise one concentrated course where they can get the benefit of experience. I would urge that in the Commonwealth scholarships scheme more attention should be paid to what the Delhi Report regards as one of the most vital aspects of education in the Commonwealth.

In the same breath, and equally vital, there is the question of technical teachers. I should have thought that it was no more than enlightened self-interest on the part of this country to take this seriously. Apart from the benefits which it would bring to the peoples of the developing Commonwealth, the fact remains that they themselves would have—and they would similarly train their pupils—familiarity with British machinery. What happens too often now is that the lawyers and economists come here, but those seeking technical training have to go to Germany.

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to make a decisive contribution from the points of view both of our own country and of the Commonwealth, the best thing he could do would be to expand the Bill in order to create much greater facilities for potential technical teachers at all levels to come to Britain. It stands to reason that if a technical teacher from Nigeria goes to train in Cologne, Aachen or Dusseldorf, he will see the machinery made in those places or somewhere else in Germany and will become familiar with that machinery. For this reason, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to pay special attention to the training of technical teachers.

There is, however, I would reckon, a specific problem here, and that concerns the inequality of standards. The fact is that those who have a degree in engineering from India are often of little more than the standard of the holder of a Higher Certificate in Britain. We should understand this and should not be too stringent about the qualifications which are given to Commonwealth scholars before they come here. We must also use some common sense about those whom we select. Otherwise, if we apply too strictly the rules of rigid entry we shall favour those who need help less. So I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look into the whole question of over-rigid entry.

I would also ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the light of page 55, Section 27 of the Delhi Report, how far he is prepared to extend the special training scheme whereby 40 to 50 bursars receive six months' special training at a technical college and six months' planned industrial experience before proceeding to a one-year course of technical teacher training. I would suggest that such courses should be enlarged outside university towns, where the pressure on accommodation is considerable. I would bring to the right hon. Gentleman's notice a very successful experiment in a different field, namely, the Tulliallan Police College, in Clackmannanshire, where many Nigerian, Ghanaian and Asian students are to do their police training. This is in an area of considerable unemployment in Scotland and does something to take up the resources, however small. It is at least a drop from the right bucket.

There is another question which is directly relevant to the subject of the Bill, and that is the teaching of English as a second language. In the Report of the Committee on Financial Problems of Educational Expansion, which appears on page 80 of the Delhi Report, Governments are urged to underwrite specific projects which could be developed for Commonwealth education. It appears that the right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity to take the initiative in establishing English language institutes such as those at Allahabad and Hyderabad.

In discussing the amount of money provided for scholarships, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not rather consider whether similar sums of money would not be better spent in setting up English language institutes, in particular, in under-developed countries. There is scope here for the system of regional links between, say, Lancashire and the West Indies, of which the Delhi Report makes so much.

The next question that arises in connection with the scholars is the new method of audio-visual aids. In the light of Chapter 10 of the Makerere Conference and section 78, page 12, of the Delhi Report, would it be possible to supply each returning Commonwealth scholar with a number of television sets in the form of aid? These are very important key people and we want their influence to extend as far as possible. In case the right hon. Gentleman thinks the suggestion foolish, I would remind him that the subject was raised by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer a fortnight ago, when, according to the OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 636, he said he would look favourably on that form of aid to under-developed countries which came from unutilised resources in Britain.

I think that certainly as a matter of urgency the right hon. Gentleman ought to contact Mr. Roy Thomson and his trustees—Lord Alexander, Lord Williamson, Lord Kilmuir, Mr. Coltart and Mr. Thomson, junior—to find out what programmes are being made for underdeveloped countries in the new organisation which they are setting up at Mearnskirk, south of Glasgow. It is absolutely vital that Commonwealth scholars who are to become teachers should be in on this novel project from the beginning.

If I may be allowed just one irrelevancy, it might be fitting to say that since the days when Carnegie and Rockefeller pioneered large-scale philanthropy in a big way no man has used his money more intelligently than Mr. Roy Thomson in giving£5 million to set up this foundation south of Glasgow in order to help students, scholars and teachers from underdeveloped countries organise their own television programmes. I may say that this is an unsponsored remark because I have no connection, business or otherwise, with Mr. Roy Thomson. This is something which has never been done before. It is an exciting experiment and directly relevant to the question whether the most is made of those fortunate enough to get Commonwealth scholarships.

The Delhi Report also raises the question of books. I should like to congratulate the publishers, because there is too much criticism and not enough realisation of the good things done by them. Although it is true that publishers of books for underdeveloped countries are in a lucrative trade, they are doing a highly imaginative jab. I welcome the statement on page 58 of the Delhi Report whereby ten to twelve bursaries are for practical experience in publishing houses in the writing, preparation and production of textbooks. Paragraph 33 on page 57 of the Report is definitely disturbing, however, when it says: …our discussions made it clear that there is a growing unsatisfied demand for reading matter of all kinds, ranging from primers and simple readers for children and new literates to literature and reference material for general and specialists. It goes on to talk of shortage of paper for textbook production.

If the Chancellor of the Exchequer's promise of two weeks ago is to mean anything—he promised that he would look favourably on that form of aid to under-developed countries which came from underemployed resources in Britain—let him take note that, if they are short of paper for textbooks and other materials in the Commonwealth, these are precisely the things which are made in my constituency, where there is an unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent. This is the Chancellor's acid test.

Is the Under-Secretary of State prepared to bring this to the Chancellor's attention and ask him specifically if he can help? If the Chancellor's promise meant anything, he will look into the question of providing an adequate number of textbooks for under-developed countries as a form of aid. If the Chancellor will not consider this sort of question, then his promise, which impressed some of us in the House, is absolutely meaningless.

My time is running out, but I would raise the question of mobile bookshops, again a useful form of aid.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon Gentleman again, but this is the Commonwealth Scholarships (Amendment) Bill. It is true that it is an order to refer to the Commonwealth Scholarships Act, 1959, but there is nothing of what he is talking about in that Act that I can see.

Mr. Dalyell

Then, with respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will say, finally, that this Bill should lend itself to a vast and dramatic expansion. But if we are to have the expansion that is necessary, then immediately we come up against the problem mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East—the fact that people are already asking whether British youngsters are to be deprived of a university education for which they have the right qualifications because we must accept so many students from Africa and Asia.

If the sort of expansion that is meaningful is to be achieved at all, there must be a great expansion of universities, especially, I suggest, in those areas where there is scope because of the availability of labour to carry out the necessary buildings.

Candidates are asked, rather sadly, in Scotland at election times whether they are aware of the shortage of university places. The Under-Secretary of State's supporters as well as ours have been asked this. Indeed, he can ask the man who is now contesting Glasgow, Woodside, on the Conservative Party's behalf, whether this is so or not. He can ask his friend what he says to constitutents who say at meetings, "My Johnny, who has the qualifications to enter a university, cannot get in, while 'So-and-so' from Nigeria can."

If the sort of programme we would have liked the Bill to embody is to be put into operation, then, urgently and quickly, the Government must establish more universities. Scotland especially should have not only one but at least four more universities. This is a matter of considerable urgency.

5.14 p.m.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I shall not go into all the points raised by the hon. Member for West-Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) but I presume that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State would not have brought this Bill forward today if he had not been prepared to provide places. Indeed, if there were no places for our own people he would not be bringing forward a Bill as beneficial as this because it is for the further co-operation of students in this country and overseas.

I wish that the hon. Member and others would not refer to "coloured students". Surely it is possible now to refer to "overseas students" or to mention them by their country of origin. This Bill deals with people of all colours—white, yellow and black, so let us in future refer to people either as "overseas students" or by their country of origin. It is most unfortunate that we should continue to use the phrase "coloured students".

Mr. Dalyell

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Lady, but I think that she will agree that I referred to "coloured students" in the context of a particular problem—that of landladies. I used the phrase in that context in the interests of honesty.

Miss Vickers

Nevertheless, I think that it would be possible to refer to them by their country of origin and not as "coloured" even in the context of landladies.

I remind the hon. Gentleman that it is the Commonwealth countries themselves who select students, and not this country, and therefore it is up to them to say whether students are "tied" and go back to their own countries. Many countries do tie their students for a period of up to two years. As for induction courses, I agree that it is necessary to have some preparation. For instance, I realise that, in going to Scotland, there may be some difficulty for them in understanding the accent.

One of the best ways to prepare is to do so in their own countries just before they come here. Having been recently overseas myself, I should pay tribute in this connection to the work done by the Corona clubs, particularly for women, before the students come here. It is more important to do this work before they come here than after, since they have so many distractions on arrival.

I am glad to see that we are to take the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man into this scheme.

At the recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Lagos, delegates from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man played an excellent part.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and, 40 Members being present

Miss Vickers

I was mentioning that I was glad to see that the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are to be included in the Bill. I was saying that, at the recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference, representatives from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man did a very good job, and I hope that the facilities for both these territories, as they have no universities, may be used for informal contacts, on which I should like to say something more.

My chief interest in the Bill, which I suppose arises out of the second Educational Conference at Delhi, lies in the fact that we are trying to get more cooperation and understanding between Commonwealth countries, and in that context I want to quote what the President of India said in his message to the Conference. He expressed the hope that the spirit of mutual assistance and cooperation would be greatly strengthened and would contribute to the strengthening of the bonds of friendship and good will which hold the Commonwealth together. But if we are to hold the Commonwealth together, we must work a little more quickly than at the moment. He went on to say: Without the expansion of educational facilities progress is apt to be tardy and lopsided; indeed it may result in the creation of undesirable stresses and strains to have material progress with inadequate education. Can we go quickly enough with this educational programme to stop the stresses and strains which were mentioned by the President of India?

I have just returned from overseas and I appreciate that there are many people hoping to take scholarships in this country and elsewhere who will probably not be able to do so. Can my hon. Friend say how the selection is made? I appreciate that countries select their own students, but do we know the numbers on the waiting lists who want to come to this country and those on the waiting lists to go to other countries?

As is also said in the Report: …co-operation will not be a living reality unless the Governments and the peoples of the Commonwealth continue to strive together in a common effort. There must be a feeling of common purpose and of urgency, and cooperation must grow into new fields. Although I welcome the Bill as a step forward, I am not sure that we understand the urgency of the present situation. The Report goes on: Governments will always face difficulties in meeting the financial needs of education, which are almost limitless, and available funds must be deployed to the best effect. I should like to know whether this is being done. Although we have the Report of the Delhi Conference and a report on how scholarships are being allocated, we do not have any details about how the 1959 Act has worked. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to tell us how much co-operation there is among the Commonwealth countries and whether the plan is really working and what provisions are made in the Bill for the further speeding up of future action.

I understand that the original plan envisaged two-year scholarships, but some degrees take longer. For instance, a Cambridge Ph.D. course often requires students to stay longer, especially on research work. Is all the money now being allocated to provide new scholarships, or will some of it go to help people already here to continue their present scholarships? How the money is allocated will make a great deal of difference to the future. Are we extending the scheme to many more students, or simply helping those already here to continue their researches?

If my figures are correct, I think that the co-operation is a little disappointing. We have sent only 10 United Kingdom students to Canada, while Canada has sent 17 here; we have sent four to Australia, which has sent us 15; India appears to have sent 35 and we have sent none to India, while Pakistan has sent 18 and we have sent to Pakistan only one student. How are we co-operating in sending our students overseas? I am glad to see that two have gone to the University of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, but not enough United Kingdom students are going overseas, and it is as important for United Kingdom students to go overseas as for Commonwealth students to come here. There are many very good universities in the Commonwealth and I hope that my hon. Friend will say whether enough students are going from this country and whether it is possible to increase the number.

When the Minister was speaking in the House on 25th November, 1959, he said, as reported in column 374 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, that the discussion at Oxford was based on the principle of mutual assistance, but so far as I can see, we do not seem to be having much mutual assistance at present. Each country has something to give and each student has something to gain by seeing other countries with different needs and different circumstances. Very few women appear to be taking up scholarships of this kind—the number appears to be fewer than twenty. Have many been turned down? The education of women is extremely important.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) mentioned my interest in what I call "informal" education, that is, the education of men and women who are individuals in their communities. This was mentioned by the Minister on the Second Reading of the 1959 Bill. What progress has been made with informal education, which I regard as extremely important?

The hon. Member for West Lothian mentioned the British Council, which was also mentioned in our earlier debate. I then made some suggestions about extra hostel accommodation and about a hiring scheme on the lines of that of the Royal Navy. Is there sufficient accommodation for these students? It is essential that they should not have any domestic worries or duties during their period here, because in the comparatively short time that they are here, especially with the higher scholarships, they need to devote their entire time to study.

Are the scales of allowance working out fairly and are there any hardships? It appears that a student with a scholarship is allowed to bring his wife, but that a student with a fellowship is allowed to bring his wife and children. Is there sufficient money and are individual students able to bring their wives and children if they so desire?

The hon. Member for West Lothian also mentioned the use of the English language. How many students have a sufficient working knowledge of the English language to undertake these scholarships? I have noticed that, probably owing to the shortage of teachers, the standard of English has deteriorated. Are overseas students given extra tuition in English when they come here, or are they simply expected to work alongside others whose first language is English without extra help?

The exchange of senior educationists was also mentioned in our last debate and it was suggested that there should be bilateral exchanges. Have any such exchanges taken place? Has my hon. Friend found that there have been any of the short-term visits which were envisaged by his predecessor when the scheme was introduced?

This is one of the most important Bills to come before the House this Session. The whole future of the Commonwealth depends on our mutual understanding. At the Lagos Conference I suggested that, just as the United Nations has a development decade, we might consider having an education development decade throughout the Commonwealth.

I hope that this Bill will further this idea, and that my hon. Friend will be able to give us more details of exactly how this scheme is working and whether we can look forward perhaps to an extension of the scheme if it proves to be as valuable as we hope it will. With those few words I conclude by saying that I support the Bill.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)

I support the hon. Lady for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) when she refers to the small number of women scholars appointed. One of the troubles is that both in this Amendment and the Act the approach to them is too orthodox I appreciate that it would be difficult to earmark particular scholarships or a particular percentage, for women, but this problem in fact affects more than half the Commonwealth. Educate the women and you educate the families.

I think that more imagination is needed by the administrators in getting through to this group. Indeed, it is along these lines that I want to make a special plea about the number of scholarships awarded for social education. The emphasis on social education was a central feature of the Dehli Conference, and I do not think that in relation to this Bill, and in relation to the Commission which awards the scholarships, there has been enough appreciation of the importance of social education.

It seems surprising that the Government have not realised how successful they have been in this scholarship project. At the moment the sum of money provided is almost derisory in relation to the success which the Government have had in creating this general interest in the scholarships, because one of the reasons for producing this Bill is that the scholarships have been so well taken up that there is a need for more Ph.D. scholarships and a much greater need for scholarships all the way round.

I am surprised that the Departments concerned with this have not resisted the Treasury more and seen that a larger sum of money was provided. As the hon. Member for Devonport said, more urgency is required, because speed is the essence of the matter. If enough scholarships are not provided, talent and goodwill will be wasted. Looking back over the history of State scholarships in this country, one sees that the university ladder is now broader than it has ever been, and I think of all the talents that have been wasted because our present attitude did not prevail many years before. I am disappointed that more imagination and more concentration on this problem has not been made in the Bill.

On most occasions I have disagreed with Lord Eccles, but on this occasion I should like to pay tribute to the rôle he has played in this sphere of Commonwealth educational co-operation. He gave personal attention to the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, and at Delhi he played an outstanding part in bringing to the centre of our educational thought the educational problems of the Commonwealth. One of the most striking phenomena of the century is the way in which all the Commonwealth countries have come together in this scheme, but this is my point of criticism. I do not think that the response of our Government has been adequate to the response of the ordinary people in the Commonwealth countries and that of their Governments. At the same time, however, I give credit for what has been achieved.

My theme is that just because the Delhi Conference laid so much emphasis on social education, there ought to be greater provisions for social education scholarships, and a special administrative drive to ensure that this type of student comes forward. The Report of the Second Commonwealth Education Conference says in paragraph 11: There was complete agreement in the Committee about the need for social education and it was generally considered that social education should receive a much higher priority in educational development programmes. Unless special attention is paid to social education, economic and social development programmes will continue in a state of imbalance. Social education needs not only government financial and administrative support but also the active participation and co-operation of the people. Countries will find different ways of administering these services but there must be strong central direction and support. It is that for which I ask the Government, and not only by earmarking scholarships. The Parliamentary Secretary and I know that the number of applications for social education scholarships is very low. In 1961 there were only two applications. The reason for this is that the imagination and energies of the voluntary bodies in the sending countries have not had that central stimulus and support from us which is necessary.

In his letter of 21st December, 1961, to me the Minister of State said: Therefore, until a greater number of nominations for study at colleges of adult education are received, I do not think that the appointment of an expert in adult education as a member of the Commission would be justified. I had written on behalf of the Adult Education Committee suggesting that one way of making sure that proper administrative action was taken, and enough stimulus given to this scheme, was to have someone in the Commission who was an expert on adult education, and specialised in it. It is putting the cart before the horse to suggest that because the demand is not there an adult educationalist should not be given recognition on the Commission. I urge that this is one of the ways of bringing social education more to the centre of things.

One thinks of Ruskin College, Hill-croft, Fircroft College and Coleg Harlech. These colleges have played a great rôle in English adult education, and are playing it in Commonwealth social education. If one of their principals were on the Commission, he would see to it that they took steps to deal with the problem.

On the voluntary side, the Parliamentary Secretary perhaps knows that the British Council has taken steps to ensure that voluntary bodies are well seized of the fact that facilities are available in England to cater for many more adult scholarships. Our college facilities are excellent. The interest of the college authorities is great, and perhaps the best way of putting it is to quote a paragraph from the document which the Adult Education Committee send to its various contacts in Commonwealth countries. It says: The British long-term residential Colleges have always catered for adult students from overseas, and many of their graduates have made their mark on their return to their own countries. In the last twelve years the Co-operative College alone has catered for nearly 300 Commonwealth students. Two are now Ministers in the Tanganyika Government, others are Principals of Co-operative Institutes, Commissioners and Registrars of Co-operative Development etc. An ex-Fircrofter is a leading member of the Malawi Party in Nyasaland"— Unfortunately that is no longer so, because this brilliant young man, who was a distinguished Fitcrofter, was killed in a road accident. That is the degree of "success" which I have in mind. I am concerned not so much with the wordly success of the students, but with the social impact they have made. Judged by that standard of success, many of them have made a great impact indeed.— another is the Malayan representative in Europe for U.N. refugee work. The Chairman of the Nigerian Coal Board studied at Coleg Harlech, ex-Ruskin students have been Ministers in British Guiana and Sierra Leone, Tom Mboya is General Secretary of the Kenya African National Union, and others are serving as Ambassadors, Permanent Secretaries, trade union leaders, labour officers, members of legislative councils and mayors throughout the Commonwealth. Hillcroft has been catering for the wives of prominent officials, and for teachers and social workers. These are the people who have gone before and have been assisted very often by private funds. In fact, only three have been assisted by the scholarship funds we are discussing. Greater efforts must be made to use the fund and to use these scholarships to bring in the people who will play a great rôle in the future of their countries so that they come and study at our residential adult colleges and universities. There is a special paragraph in the Delhi Report which makes specific recommendations about this. Referring to the need for social education, it states: Social education is still a developing field in which there is a shortage of people who have both training and experience and who can plan and develop programmes particularly in the less developed parts of the Commonwealth. It is felt that experienced and mature persons should be sent from these countries where they would already be in a position of leadership in the communities to which they belong, to gain overseas training and wider experience specially suited to the needs of the communities in which they work. The training that they undertake ought to be of one or two years' duration and take the form of special courses without necessarily leading to formal qualification. Such training could be undertaken in institutions offering formal qualifications. and, of course, in the places that I am suggesting.

I think that the practical difficulties are these, and it is to these that I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will pay especial attention. In the first place, it is very much easier to appoint a scholar who has definite academic qualifications which one can weigh up. One takes a risk when one appoints a person on his experience or contributions to public work. Those are much more difficult qualities to assess. Therefore, it is easier to look at the paper qualifications and to appoint on those. Indeed, it is much easier to extend the award to a third year to successful students. But I think that in some respects this must be resisted and unorthodox methods taken to find the types of students to whom I have referred.

There is, of course, the difficulty at the sending end. An active trade unionist, or an active social worker is usually devoted to the cause he gives his life to, and it is very difficult to persuade him to give up his active work for one or two years to improve his qualifications. As I have suggested, one of the ways in which support could be given to the Commission in doing its job is to appoint people to the particular body which know its own field inside and out. Another way is to give much greater support to the voluntary bodies in the field. All over the Commonwealth there is a net of voluntary adult education bodies. There are strong links with the Workers Educational Association and the Council of Social Service and Voluntary Services Overseas. There are a good many links which the British Council and the Government need to strengthen and, indeed, to give strength to their publicity.

I think that it would be quite fair to say that if this field of social education is ignored the social discontent, the frustration in a good many countries will be very much exacerbated. We have in England and in other Commonwealth countries a great fund of experience in this matter and, at the moment, judging by the results and the awards, we are not taking anything like enough advantage of it. I hope the present debate will persuade the Government to make our contribution in the future much more effective.

5.44 p.m.

Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, East)

We have had a very interesting debate on this relatively modest Bill. It has been an interesting debate because everyone who has spoken has done so out of longstanding concern and, in some cases, experience in these matters. We should be very grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary if he is able to speak a little more widely in his winding up than he felt able to do in his introductory speech, and bring in some of the wider implications of this great effort in Commonwealth co-operation.

It is a very inspiring effort in Commonwealth co-operation. I think that we have all felt that. I had the privilege of being at the Oxford Conference at which the first plans were made. I was told that at Delhi, valuable though this experience was to those who went there, there was a slight feeling that it was taking a little long to get off the ground and that perhaps we were not going far enough and fast enough. It seems to me that there are several problems which we have to consider very carefully if this scheme is to be an even greater success than it has been so far.

One is the matter which has been dealt with in a specific aspect by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden). It touches the countries where there are not very many graduates, and those graduates, few as they are, simply cannot be spared, but there may be, on the other hand, a number of people of mature years who could benefit very considerably indeed by the kind of adult education course, a briefer one—normally one year—which has been described by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland.

Let us look at the table, for example, in the second Annual Report of the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission. Might I say in passing that it is most unfortunate that this debate should have taken place the day before the Report of the Commonwealth Liaison Committee is to be published and a week or two before the Report of the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission. It is a great pity that the-published figures available to us are twelve months or more out of date. Taking the last figures available, which were the awards for the academic year, 1961, if we look at these in appendix 5 of the Report we see that, naturally enough, the great bulk of the awards made under this scheme—that is awards tenable in the United Kingdom—go to countries like Canada OT Australia and, of course, to India and Pakistan with their very large populations. We would expect them to have a large number. But when we come down to the long tail of countries with one or two or three awards, one feels that they are not getting the full benefit of this scheme, because it is not really tailored to fit their particular needs. One notable exception is Hong Kong, which although a small country has a university of long-standing, and has apparently been able to produce quite a number of scholarship holders.

Although we all know that awards are made by the British Council, under other schemes, to deal with some of the people whom we have in mind, nevertheless this Commonwealth scholarship enterprise is perhaps unduly heavily weighted in favour of those who have proportionately a large number of graduates and can spare their graduates for the relative luxury of taking Ph.D. degrees. At the other end are those who have already reached considerable academic distinction. Part of the scheme was that there should be fellowships as well as scholarships and the fellowships were intended for those who were scholars of repute, heads of departments, professors and so on, in their own countries. The proposals are modest enough. I believe that in the United Kingdom we offer five. I think that I am correct is saying that three are the most that have been taken up.

It seems rather a pity that this interchange of scholars at a very senior level indeed does not seem to have worked. This may be because there are other opportunities for them and this part of the scheme is perhaps not so much needed. If so, we should be told about this. If this part of the scheme is not required for fellowships, ought we, perhaps, to increase the number of awards to people at the other end, whom we have just been discussing, in less formal education? In discussing the Bill, we are entitled to have rather more information on these subjects than we have so far been given.

I feel strongly about the adult education aspect, partly because I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, have considerable personal experience of some of the adult education colleges. I take issue with my hon. Friend, however, upon one point. He said that there were ample facilities in those colleges. All I would say is that as far as Coleg Harlech is concerned, until we get more money from the Ministry of Education we will not have ample facilities.

Mr. Boyden

They have made facilities available really at the expense of their own students, because of the meanness of the Ministry of Education.

Mrs. White

Precisely. There has been a clamp-down on the adult education colleges, matched only by that on nursery schools. We have had no extra capital for extension of adult education colleges since the end of the war, although they would offer precisely what was needed for a number of students, especially from the less developed countries. It would not be easy for them, although they do their best, to provide much in the way of additional places for people for whom the kind of education which they offer is precisely what is needed.

I hope very much that the Under-Secretary of State will consult his colleagues in the Ministry of Education and point out that from the viewpoint of the Commonwealth, this is an important side of education and that if we do not have sufficient provision at these colleges, this is a matter to which the Ministry should give further and closer attention.

Naturally, I should be happy if more awards were made to women. I recognise however, that perhaps there have not been so many applicants, partly because to take a further degree—and most of the scheme is concerned with those who would wish to take two degrees—occupies a good deal of time and many women will already have entered into domestic commitments and not feel able to leave their home countries for as long as is needed to take a second degree. A number of women come to this country for second decrees, but not many, it appears, do so under the provisions of this scheme.

I should like to say how much concerned I am with some of the problems mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who referred to the conditions which awaited those who are fortunate enough to obtain awards under the scheme. I am deeply concerned at the inadequate arrangements that are made for lodging some of these scholarship holders. As was pointed out when the first Bill was introduced in 1959, the age of the people taking these scholarship awards is normally to be not less than from 22 to 28, with a maximum age of 35; the fellowship holders can be much older. The scholarship holders can be up to 35 years of age and are likely to be at least in their middle or late twenties. Therefore, the majority of them would be married and some, of course, would have families of young children.

In those circumstances, it is unreasonable to expect them to do their best work if they do not have proper accom- modation when they come here. I have been disturbed to read in the Reports of both the Scholarship Commission and the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committee of the difficulties which have faced these students. They are advised officially to come without their wives in the hope that their wives will be able to come later if and when satisfactory accommodation can be found.

That is most unreasonable. If my husband were offered a grant on that basis, there might well be domestic strife. The whole purpose of today's Bill is to extend the time from two to three years. If my husband were offered such an award and went to a foreign country for three years, I should certainly say that I would go with him. I need not particularise, but I am sure that most married women would take the same point of view.

If I were to go with my husband, I would obviously expect to be able to have proper living accommodation for family life. This simply is not available. Very little accommodation suitable for married couples, particularly if there are children, is available at the university centres. This has become an acute problem, particularly in London and Oxford, as I know from personal information, and it may well be so in other places. The least we can ask for in passing the Bill, which is intended to increase the number of persons in this position, is that the Government should take far more seriously the provision of accommodation for married students in the universities.

I know that at Oxford this matter has caused the greatest possible concern. By making considerable efforts among our own graduates and by a generous grant from the Nuffield Foundation, my own college—Somerville—has started a building for graduate students. This is mostly for women from overseas, although we shall certainly hope to accommodate some United Kingdom graduates also, to give them the possibility of decent living accommodation while in Oxford. At the moment, all they have is a bed-sitting room in Walton Street or Cowley. We can offer them nothing whatever in college except the right to dine there once a week. There is no common room for them—absolutely nothing.

Whatever we have done we have had to do entirely by our own efforts, including borrowing quite heavily, to erect the new building. We have had no help whatever from the University Grants Committee. I was speaking recently to Lady Ogilvie, who has been one of the most active protagonists of another project. She, incidentally, is also a member of the United Kingdom Scholarship Commission. She and her colleagues in Oxford are trying desperately to get money to erect a building, which has been planned, to provide accommodation for married students. Again, they cannot get one penny from the University Grants Committee towards it.

If the group of scholars with whom we are concerned under the Bill are to carry out their studies with success, I trust that the Under-Secretary of State will make representations to the Treasury and point out that this also is a proper subject for grants and that unless proper conditions can be provided, a good deal of the value of the money which we are being asked to expend under the Bill will be lost.

Where people come with wives and families, provision should be made for some sort of emergency fund. I have heard only recently through the National Union of Students of a family, for example, in which the wife and children came with the husband, who was a scholarship holder. The wife fell ill and domestic help had to be provided to look after the children, but it was found that there was no way of meeting such an emergency. This may be a relatively minor point, but it is something which makes a difference to whether this sort of scheme can be a success.

I know that the Government have made money available for more hostel accommodation in general, although I am not convinced that it is necessarily being channelled quickly enough into the right places. I understand, however, that money which has been proposed for additional hostel accommodation, for all overseas students and not merely for the small group referred to in the Bill, has resulted so far in plans having been made—I do not think that progress has gone any further than that—for an extra 500 student beds in London and about 800 outside London.

This might sound quite encouraging until one looks at the numbers of over- seas students now in this country. I was myself surprised to find that, compared with the 1959–60 academic year when there were 47,000 students in this country from overseas—that is, students of all types—by 1961–62 the figure had risen to more than 60,000. In other words, there has been an increase of 13,000 in two years. Therefore, the number of student beds which I have mentioned does not seem to amount to all that much

Of the total from overseas, more than 13,000 are university students. This brings one to the point, made by my hon. Friends the Members for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and West Lothian, that it is essential that in a scheme of this kind which, even in a modest way, increases the number of students at the universities, we should have adequate provision for university places in general. It would be tragic if the proportion of about 10 per cent. which we now offer to students from all over the world should have to be reduced because the Government have been lagging in the provision of university places.

Surely this is one of the things which must concern us most. It is true that the number who come under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme is not very great. But they are students at post-graduate level and, as is made clear in the Report of the University Grants Committee, students who are undertaking research at this level are, naturally enough, taking more time proportionately of the university staff than those at undergraduate level because their research needs careful supervision, more particularly if it is undertaken in the scientific and technical spheres.

Therefore, we are deeply concerned that anything, even a small increase in the numbers, should mean that we are putting an extra pressure on the university departments, many of which are at present considerably understaffed. I do not wish to go into much detail but I would direct the attention of hon. Members to the Report of the University Grants Committee which was published only a few days ago. There it is pointed out that we now have a considerably less favourable ratio of staff to students in almost all the university faculties, other than medicine and dentistry, and this is particularly important in dealing with post-graduate and research students.

In fairness to our own students we cannot afford to allow this ratio to deteriorate further. I hope that in the interests of the Commonwealth students further pressure will be put on the Treasury to increase its grants and to maintain a better ratio of stall to students in the universities. If this were done, no one would be more pleased than hon. Members on this side of the House, because we believe passionately that one of the best things which we can offer to our comrades in the Commonwealth is the opportunity to study in this country. We do not wish to diminish in any way the facilities available to our Commonwealth students.

We wish the Bill well, but we shall be extremely disturbed if, in passing this Measure, and increasing the number of students from the Commonwealth, we do so with the feeling that it is to the detriment of our own students.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. Tilney

By leave of the House, I will endeavour to answer some of the points which have been raised and the questions asked during this very interesting debate. I am glad that the Bill has been welcomed from both sides of the House. If not all the questions are answered—many of them should really be directed to my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education or the Secretary for Technical Cooperation rather than to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—I will see that answers are in due course sent to all the hon. Members concerned.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) regretted that nothing more imaginative had been done and thought that this was merely a matter of a cost of£20,000. The hon. Gentleman and, I think, my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge (Mr. Hornby) suggested that the£6 million might be expended before 1965. I am doubtful whether that will be so. The rate of expenditure in the current year is estimated to be approximately£1 million. In the next financial year it is expected to rise to£1¼million, and in the final year of the quinquennium, 1964–65, to£1½million, which was the rate anticipated when the Commonwealth Teachers Act was passed. It has taken some time for this scheme to gather momentum. The administration of the£6 million fund includes a limited sum being kept in reserve for contingencies which has not so fair been allocated.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East also suggested that there were many mature people without formal educational qualifications who would make first-class leaders in their home countries. To some extent this is a matter for the local education authorities, and I should like to quote a letter from Lord Scarbrough, Chairman of the Scholarship Commission, which was written on 29th March to my noble Friend the Minister of State: The task entrusted to the Commission is to provide the best which this country has to offer in the way of higher education for those from Commonwealth countries selected for awards. It is for that high purpose that the Commission has received full co-operation from the universities in this country, particularly in the giving of places to Commonwealth scholars and in the interest in these scholars taken by university teachers. If we give in to the demands of Commonwealth Governments for a quicker turn-round of scholars, a demand which in certain cases can well be understood"— as, indeed, I understand it— we shall impair the prestige which Commonwealth scholarships have already acquired and will run the risk of a fall in the general quality of candidates for them. We shall be departing to some extent from the high purpose entrusted to the Commission and we shall run a risk of losing some of the interest which universities have hitherto taken in the plan. I feel it important to strike this note of warning at this early stage lest there be too much readiness to acquiesce in the requests from overseas without realising their full implications.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

After reading that rather peculiar and discouraging letter, does the hon. Gentleman really think that half-a-dozen Commonwealth scholarships in half-a-dozen adult residential colleges will make the universities of this country feel that the scheme no longer has academic prestige?

Mr. Tilney

Surely in this plan we are discussing the post-graduate, highly educated man or woman. There is a major demand for that type of person in the Commonwealth countries particularly the new Commonwealth countries. I was glad that the hon. Gentleman referred to the danger of some going in for what I think he called a permanent scholarship. It is, of course, immensely important that they should go back to their home country to do a job there.

Mr. Boyden

Does that mean that the hon. Gentleman is ruling out the award to adult scholars which is admitted under the present regulations?

Mr. Tilney

If I may, I shall deal with the point about adult scholars later in my speech.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East said that this was a disappointing Bill. He referred to the great scale of the problem and the small percentage of educated people there were in many of the newly independent Commonwealth countries. I know of the vast need for education in Northern Nigeria. The hon. Member referred to East Africa and other territories of Asia. The demand is absolutely tremendous, but this is a limited Bill dealing, as he said, with a technical application of the 1959 Act.

He also referred to the Peace Corps of the United States of America. This seems to be a different conception dealing with a different type of person from those whom we are considering today, although I ant glad that he said we in Britain seem to be doing as well as the United States of America. It has to be remembered that our national income per head is only half that of the United States. The hon. Member appealed for more teachers to work in the Commonwealth. No one would like to see that more than I would, but naturally some are afraid that if they go they may lose their rung on the ladder of promotion. I appeal to all local education authorities to bear in mind that people who go may be much more qualified to teach when they come back than those who have stayed at home.

The hon. Member raised a number of other points. Teacher training is, on the whole, going very well. At the time of the Oxford Conference in July, 1959, there were 730 Commonwealth teacher training students in this country. Now there are 1,225. Four hundred bursaries under the Oxford Conference scheme are being awarded by us annually. The hon. Member asked about the supply of teachers. I agree that the recruitment is going better now. The British recruitment agencies, such as the Department of Technical Cooperation and the British Council, are continually trying new ideas. For instance, there is a team of teachers going overseas together and there is a scheme to recruit young graduates who have been trained as teachers but who have not yet had any teaching experience in Britain. That is at a time when adventure may well appeal to them and before they have taken on domestic and financial commitments in this country. In this connection earlier marriage here has proved a problem in recruitment. As to technical colleges, I am glad that tribute has been paid to the work of local education authorities. About 9,000 Commonwealth students are now working at the technical colleges. The Minister of Education is about to send out a fresh circular drawing the attention of authorities to the welfare needs of these students.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ton-bridge looked to the future and urged that more should be done in many fields. He referred to the Delhi Conference recommendations. This House should take note that Britain put forward two of the few concrete proposals for new schemes brought before that Conference. We have offered up to forty-five bursaries for a two-year course beginning in September, 1963. Applications from developing countries of the Commonwealth have already been invited. The aim of these technical teacher training courses will be to produce teachers of craftsmen and technicians, and the subjects of training to be offered to the first intake of bursars will be mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, constructional engineering and building.

As to experts in the teaching of English as a second language, the first ten of the thirty experts under the British scheme announced at Delhi have recently been recruited by the British Council from about 100 applicants. Those selected have just begun a year's advanced training at the universities of London, Leeds and Edinburgh. They will be available in the autumn of 1963 to serve on secondment in Commonwealth countries which ask for their services and can use them in key posts. In addition, schemes for training here for teachers from overseas, and for the supply of British teachers for developing countries, which originated at the first Commonwealth Educational Conference in Oxford in 1959 have continued. They have not been starved of money because of new schemes. Nor will they be starved by diversion of the£20,000 a year to the scholarship plan as a result of this Bill.

The House may be interested to know that in 1961 only one Commonwealth scholarship was awarded in adult education, but two were awarded in 1962. Only four nominations have been made by Commonwealth Governments for adult education and three of these have received awards. It will be understood that the Commission can award only on the nominations received. Therefore it is not the fault of this country that there are fewer scholarships awarded for adult education.

Mrs. White

While fully appreciating that, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to pay attention to the suggestion that other ways and means of calling attention to these awards which could be provided in this country? If someone were placed on the Commission with knowledge of this special field that could be done.

Mr. Tilney

I am not sure that it necessarily follows that someone with this special educational qualification being on the Commission would ensure that more awards or more applications for awards were made. Certainly we shall bear in mind all that has been suggested in the debate today.

As to the review of the Government's plans for Commonwealth educational cooperation, the time for having a fresh look at existing schemes and considering new ideas will be before the next Commonwealth Education Conference, which is to take place in Canada in June, 1964. I am grateful for all the various suggestions which have been put forward. These will be considered long before then.

The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), whose advice on education is always interesting and original, made many points and had many questions to ask. I took note of a great many of his questions, but when I got to fifteen I thought it best to decide to write to him to give the answers. I agree with a number of the points he made. I also have been interviewed by the Allake Chief of the Abeokuta, but not in a prostrate position. Of course, the atmosphere in Africa and Asia is entirely different from the atmosphere here, yet there is a major problem, to which he rightly referred, of induction into our life. But I think it worth while bearing in mind that the British Council's efforts in Britain in receiving overseas students was highly praised at the Delhi Conference and that the process of induction is continuous and goes on throughout the whole period of the scholarship course. I appeal to those who receive an award of a scholarship not to arrive, as many of them still do, with their wives and families, for when they do it makes the problem of finding accommodation for them that much more difficult.

I agree with the hon. Member's remarks about the landladies of Britain. He said that in his constituency there were none who looked after scholars. There are a great many in my constituency on Merseyside. I agree with what he said that one reads about the bad landladies and never about the good.

Mr. Dalyell

Would not the hon Gentleman agree that the purpose of the whole argument about the induction course centres round the fact that the Commonwealth scholarship is limited to one or two years and that, therefore, six months is vital? Six months lost in learning, as often happens during the course, could easily be made up three months before the course began.

Mr. Tilney

We shall look into that, but it would cost much more money, and I am not sure that it would be possible.

Mrs. White

May I refer to the hon. Member's comment about lodgings for married holders of scholarships? He suggests that they should come on their own because it is difficult to find lodgings, but surely they ought to be accommodated with their wives. The wives may easily have an opinion on the lodgings. They will have to live in them ultimately.

Mr. Tilney

That also applies to many people in this country when they move about England. I appreciate that there is a difficulty and that ultimately more may have to be done about hostels, but that is a matter for the University Grants Committee. We shall look very carefully into this matter.

We are delighted to welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers) back from Lagos. She has done much for the Commonwealth in many ways. She asked a number of questions, including how selection was made. The Commonwealth Scholarship Agency, which is usually an arm of the Government in many Commonwealth countries, advertises the offer and vets the applications. This agency then decides which candidates, if any, it wishes to nominate to the awarding country. The awarding agency—the Commission in the United Kingdom—then obtains expert advice from a member of its panel of advisers. This adviser assesses the merits of the candidate and comments on the suitability of his plan of study, and where a candidate can carry it out. The Commission then makes a final decision on the selection.

My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport asked how much co-operation there was within the various Commonwealth countries. The demand for Commonwealth scholarships to be held in the United Kingdom was so great that in 1961–62, there were 4,017 applicants for about 250 new awards available in the year. She asked whether the Bill extended the scheme. It enables new students to be accepted, because without the extension we should be limited to about 200 instead of the 225–230 to which I referred in my earlier speech.

It is not all our fault that only 22 Indian awards have been taken up. The United Kingdom has been invited to make only three nominations for each of the past two years. In 1961, there were no candidates. But there were 14 applicants in 1962, and the Scholarship Commission is intensifying its efforts to encourage the United Kingdom people to apply. In 1962, three United Kingdom candidates were nominated and one was successful.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) made some pertinent remarks about adult and social education. He may be interested to hear that there have been only four nominations in three years, and three were given awards. A question was raised about the knowledge of English by many scholars. The standard is high or competent. If an individual scholar needs special help in improving his English, he is given it under the terms of his scholarship.

Comment was also made about adult education. The detailed composition of the Commission has no known effect on the distribution of nominations received among the various fields of study, and the Commission's adviser in education is competent to assess the merits of any candidate in this field of study.

Mr. Boyden

If the Parliamentary Secretary is taking the attitude that the organisation is all Tight, he should be saying something about how the Government can stimulate interest in the fields in which it is obviously lacking. There is a lack of applications in adult education and social education, and from women. Surely he should address himself to that.

Mr. Tilney

I referred to the circular which has bean sent to local education authorities land other bodies.

I am glad that the hon. Lady the Member for Flint, East (Mrs. White) referred to the inspiring efforts in Commonwealth co-operation. I entirely agree with her that there are many countries in which graduates cannot be spared because they are doing a vital job in adminstering their own country. She said that only three fellowships had been granted, but in point of fact six in all have been taken up. She urged that more women should be in the scheme, and I agree, but 38 hold awards in the United Kingdom and there are 75 in all, which is not a bad proportion.

She said that scholarships were mostly for people in their mid or late 'twenties. But the surprise has been that the applicants are much younger than expected. That is why in many cases the full three years is needed and not the two years originally envisaged. Like many other hon. Members, she made a plea for more accommodation and more facilities in every way. Of course, we should all like to see that, but there is no bottomless purse, and I think that on the whole Great Britain is not doing all that badly.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Dundee, East paid a tribute to this Commonwealth scheme. It is a mutual scheme among all countries of the Commonwealth. We are all in it, of every race and of every income. I am glad that the House on all sides appears to welcome the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. McLaren.]

Committee Tomorrow.