HC Deb 07 February 1963 vol 671 cc746-78
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter)

I understand that it would now be for the convenience of the House if we passed from the United Nations to that aspect of the Bill which is related to the Supplementary Estimate for universities and colleges. I understand that under the rules of order I am limited to explaining the contents of this particular Supplementary Estimate and to explaining why more money is required under two subheads during the current year for universities.

This is the second Supplementary Estimate under Class 7, Vote 1, Universities and Colleges, and if I may, within the rules of order, remind the House, the original provision under this Vote was for £78,504,000. The earlier Supplementary Estimate which was accepted was for £5,819,000 and the extra provision shown in the present Supplementary Estimate is for £5,880,000, taking the total under the Vote to £90,203,000.

It might avoid misunderstanding if I made it clear that although this will be the total if Parliament approves this Bill it is not, of course, the total provision made from public sources during the current year for universities as there is another £30 million or so by way of student grants carried on Votes of Education Departments and estimates of local authorities.

The present proposals are in two parts, a small provision under Subhead A of about £80,000 for additional recurrent expenditure and the larger one for £5,800,000 under Subhead B in respect of capital expenditure. If I may take the small one first, the House may recall that on 26th July, in reply to a Question put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Durham (Mr. Grey), I stated that the Government had accepted a recommendation of the University Grants Committee in respect of the provision for additional medical students, in view of the changed appreciation of the number of doctors that would be required in the future.

The U.G.C. was asked to consider what additional provision would be needed for this purpose. The Committee recommended that in the first full academic year a further provision of £135,000 would be required. The sum of £80,000 is the likely amount to be spent for this purpose in the current financial year and, therefore, is the amount included under Subhead A,of this Supplementary Estimate.

The substantial item, of course, is that under Subhead B, £5,800,000, and that comes on top of an original provision under the subhead in the main Estimate of some £27 million. This total of £5,800,000 is concerned with four items. An amount of £2 million is in respect of building. This is almost entirely due to quicker progress being made with building work which, therefore, has to be paid for earlier.

Perhaps by way of illustration I may give one or two examples of how this has worked out. Taking stage 1 of the School of Chemistry, at Bristol, it was estimated that of the total expenditure on this of £600,000 we should spend about £200,000 in the present financial year. In fact, such good progress has been made that up to 31st December last there had already been paid for by the universities, and, therefore, paid in grant, about £301,500.

To give another example, on stage 1 of the Humanities Building at Manchester University it was estimated that we should spend £70,000 in the current financial year, but up to the end of the last calendar year, £109,825 had been spent. Then, as I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Emery) is here, he may be interested to know that on the new Chemistry Building at Reading University we estimated that we should spend £100,000 in the current financial year, but, in fact, up to 31st December, £154,155 had been spent.

I do not want to weary the House with examples which include, I am glad to say—because I am a great believer in their provision—more rapid progress on Halls of Residence in certain universities. I think that the House will agree that the state of affairs which this discloses is excellent. It means that universities have made better progress with their building than we have been able to expect, which is a good thing in itself in view of the heavy calls ahead of them; and it also means from the point of view of the national economy that we are using labour and resources which are available on this excellent purpose at an accelerated rate.

We must remember that on 24th January the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) suggested to me that we ought to see that university building was speeded up in present conditions of employment. I think that the presentation of this Supplementary Estimate shows, if I may say so in the absence of the hon. Gentleman, that great minds think alike.

The second item, and the biggest of all, is in respect of equipment, mainly scientific equipment and furniture, for which the figure is £2,700,000. That, again, results from equipment coming forward quicker than had been anticipated, with the universities getting on with the ordering of it and firms getting ahead with deliveries quicker than had been expected. Some very big items are included here because, as we know, the scientific equipment going into the universities is very elaborate and, consequently, very expensive. If I may take an example, part of the provision here is towards that for the Electrical Engineering Department of Imperial College, on which, overall, £500,000 is being spent, about £123,000 of it in this Estimate; and Engineering, stages 1 and 2 of the development at Manchester University involves £420,000, £128,000 of it in this Estimate.

The remaining two items in the subhead are £300,000 in respect of professional fees—fees of architects, civil engineers, designers, planners, and so on; and £800,000 in respect of purchase of sites. These last two items, of course, relate to the forward development and planning of university expansion. They are the earlier stages which will pave the way to the further developments of later years; and the fact that they have come forward earlier is, I think, a healthy indication of the progress being made with the programme. The total therefore proposed for capital grants in this Supplementary Estimate is £5,800,000.

These are fairly substantial sums and the House may think it a trifle odd for a Treasury Minister to be commending additional expenditure with any show of enthusiasm. I make no apology, however, for presenting this Supplementary Estimate. It is not due to any miscalculation of the cost of items, but is simply an indication of better progress with plans and proposals which we all wish to see implemented as quickly as possible. It is not only money extremely well spent, but is also an indication that we are making better progress with university developments than my predecessor, even in his most optimistic mood, was able to forecast.

Mr. Charles Curran (Uxbridge)

Will my right hon. Friend amplify a little what he has just said about Government policy in respect of universities? Are we to take it that it is Government policy for places to be provided in universities for all persons who qualify for admission?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Subject to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I doubt whether, on this Supplementary Estimate in respect of buildings and of medical students, I would be in order in opening up that subject. I do not want to deny information to my hon. Friend, but I am in your hands, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I am bound to say that I have the same impression.

7.33 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

There are a number of questions which we want to raise about this Supplementary Estimate and another one to which I will refer shortly. As regards the latter, it is not a matter which directly concerns the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and I would not expect him to reply to it. I would hope for a reply from other quarters.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am obliged to the hon. and learned Member for what he has said. As he will have observed, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, which, I think, is the Department about which the hon. and learned Member is concerned, is present. He is listening to what is said and if he is fortunate in catching Mr. Speaker's eye, he will—either in a different compartment or in the same compartment of this debate, as suits the convenience of the House—answer what has been said.

Mr. Mitchison

I should like to thank my right hon. enemy, if I may say so.

We are discussing a comparatively short list of Supplementary Estimates upon which we have had a Report from the Estimates Committee making the position clear. The position is that the Civil Contingencies Fund is limited by statute to £750 million in a year. We are discussing what the Government have been able to bring forward at this stage, because if we kept it to meet the wave of Supplementary Estimates that will come later, we should risk breaking the limit of the Civil Contingencies Fund. Any comments that we make about that rather remarkable state of affairs are probably best postponed, as were those of the Estimates Committee, to the time when we see what the ensuing wave is like. The Estimates Committee found it rather frightening. So do I. We must, however, see the size of it before we can say much more about it.

I am not really concerned with the first of the two items to which the Chief Secretary has spoken, which shows a quite small increase in what are called recurrent expenditure grants—in effect, income grants. I am concerned with the second one, which shows a large increase in capital expenditure grants. The right hon. Gentleman has described the type of thing that is involved—roughly speaking, half in buildings and half in equipment and the like.

This is not the first explanation that the right hon. Gentleman has given of this increase, because in the White Paper Cmnd. 1849, which he presented to Parliament in November, 1962, and which has been discussed, he said in paragraph 70, page 22: In September, 1962, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced that, in the light of advice he had received from the University Grants Committee, he had authorised the value of Exchequer-financed university building work started in 1963 to be increased from £25 million to £30 million. Those are round figures and that, I take it, is the increase with which we are now dealing.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, it is not. This is a complicated matter and I sympathise with the hon. and learned Gentleman. There are two separate matters. The one referred to in the Public Investment White Paper, from which he has quoted, is with reference to the control of starts during calendar years. That is the control which we exercise by authorising a certain number of starts of a certain value in the year, generally reflected in rather larger expenditure. That reference in the Public Investment White Paper is to a decision to increase the number of starts. This Supplementary Estimate, on the other hand, relates to the totally different increase in actual expenditure in the current financial year. The two things are quite separate.

Mr. Mitchison

With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman and with little respect to my own powers of perception, I fail to find the difference. We are dealing with Exchequer-financed university building work. We are told that the increase is an accelerated rate of settlement of claims for the payment of non-recurrent grants. That is pure Treasury language, but I am not sure that it means much when one looks at it.

The substantial point is that this increase arises on building expenditure. That expenditure is Exchequer-financed university building financed through the University Grants Committee. That appears to be the case, but if I am wrong about it, the right hon. Gentleman must correct me.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The money with which we are concerned in this Supplementary Estimate results from starts authorised in previous years. It cannot, in the nature of things, relate to starts recently authorised as referred to in the White Paper. The hon. and learned Gentleman will notice that although the figures are approximately of the same order, they are not the same. The increase in starts was £5 million; the figure in the Supplementary Estimate is £5,880,000. This figure relates to starts authorised by my predecessors a year or two ago.

Mr. Mitchison

It relates also to the purchase of sites for future development. In a case of this kind, it is right and proper to see whether the Government are getting value for money in the increases which they consider sufficient and to see what the purpose of those increases is.

The broad purpose was put by the right hon. Gentleman today in the same way as it is put in the White Paper. Although it may be a different stage of the building programme, it is substantially one continuous building programme that goes on over a considerable number of years by annual stages. The building programme appears at the end of the last Estimates in a long list of projects, two or three of which the right hon. Gentleman used as instances today.

We are told that this programme includes equipment, and the rapidly rising expenditure on this programme, of which the Estimate is an instance, is to support the great expansion in numbers of students now in progress. There is surely no dispute about this. When we come to the Estimates in the White Paper, the language there must equally apply to the other stage with which we may be dealing today.

The increase was made in order to meet rises in costs and to maintain a level of building consonant with the expansion in the student population. What strikes me as doubtful is whether, in that latter respect, the right hon. Gentleman is really getting value for the increase. I want to tell him why.

I approach this question from a rather different angle. The right hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out that a great deal of this increase was devoted to scientific expenditure—that is to say, expenditure on buildings and equipment for scientific purposes—and that is exactly where we would expect the expenditure to come. Part of it, no doubt, is for the provision of halls of residence and the like. I am not so much concerned about that. I want to consider the position relating to scientific expenditure.

Since the White Paper on Public Investment we have had the Annual Report of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy. The curious thing about scientific policy is that although we have a Minister for Soience—when he is not occupied in being the Minister for Sport and the Minister for the North-East Coast—and he has a small office and we occasionally ask Questions of his Parliamentary Secretary, when it comes to hard cash the Research Council asks for its grants from the Treasury and the universities are dealt with by the University Grants Committee.

Incidentally, I heard with a thrill of inward delight the Minister telling us, in connection with the smaller item, what the recommendation of the University Grants Committee was. Would he be good enough to tell us what the Committee's recommendation was in connection with increased capital expenditure on buildings and equipment? That answer would be far more interesting. The Minister was willing to give the answer in the smaller case, but he would no doubt refuse it in the larger case. He is a most ingenious person and I would not put it beyond him to reconcile the two, but the apparent discrepancy is at any rate very striking.

The Annual Report of the Advisory Council is a tolerably recent one, having been presented last month, and it contains a Report from the Royal Society to the Advisory Council. In commenting on that Report the Advisory Council said that this report contains much of interest which is not available elsewhere, and formed an important part of the evidence considered by us. … We do not, however, necessarily accept the views expressed at every point. That is its attitude. I do not want to go beyond that. On page 7 the Advisory Council says: In the universities art the present time, the situation is far from uniform. In some there exist large and well-equipped centres far biological research, but there are also small traditional departments with relatively modest equipment, and insufficient space in which to expand. I hope that the increase will meet this difficulty, but it seemed a trifle small for the purpose. The Advisory Council goes on to say: While size and numbers are not necessarily criteria of the excellence of the work of a research department, it is undeniable that in many branches of biology, as of other subjects, adequate progress can only now be made with first-class modern equipment and facilities and interdisciplinary co-operation. The phrase "inter-disciplinary co-operation" is really a reference to a different point, namely, that the frontiers of these disciplines or sciences are breaking rapidly, and what one used to consider to be a rather separate discipline is now realised to be a far larger thing, spreading, as it were, into the next-door subject, while the next-door subject spreads backwards into it. The whole picture is changing with extraordinary rapidity.

Continuing on the question of equipment—the other side of the picture—the Report says: One of the difficulties consistently faced by leaders of biological research has been a critical shortage, in all but the newest schools recently equipped by the University Grants Committee"— that refers to schools which are parts of universities, otherwise they would not be financed by the University Grants Committee— of space for research equipment. It must, of course, be realised that these difficulties are not confined to biology, but the problem is accentuated in this field by growth in new directions which cut across the traditional structure of faculties in universities"— this is the organisational side— and which may call for special measures to meet the situation. In paragraph 30 the Report says: At the same time we are given to understand that over the next quinquennium there are no prospects of a more rapid expansion of university research, financed through general university income, than have existed in previous years. We cannot discuss today what the Research Council should be doing in this direction but this is a most disheartening remark. It leads the Council to say: We are thus led unavoidably to the view that it is hardly practicable to attempt to establish in every present-day centre of biological research an institution of the kind which we believe is essential if the United Kingdom is to keep its place in international developments in biology … These are very strong words. This is the Government's own Advisory Council on Scientific Policy, and we are now told by the right hon. Gentleman that this increase is the end for this year. He is taking a very happy and optimistic view of affairs if he considers that he is getting all that he requires by this increase.

I now turn to the Report of the Royal Society, which forms Appendix B to the Annual Report. It talks about increasing the numbers studying the physical sciences and technology, and so on. That is the matter to which the right hon. Gentleman himself related this increase. The Report then says, about the concentration of numbers, that This policy has necessarily involved relative neglect of biological research in the universities. On page 21 the Report says: The resources of the U.G.C. have, to au overwhelming extent, been involved in the erection of buildings for the teaching of students. I understand that that is not for research workers. According to our inquiries, the lack of space is now one of the major handicaps to the further development of biological research in universities. At the bottom of the page it says: The magnitude of the research-effort in the field of science is not necessarily closely connected with the number of graduates in that field which it is desirable to produce. We are in an extremely rapidly advancing if not revolutionary phase of biology. This in itself is something that calls for a great effort in biology whose results either intellectual or practical cannot be foretold. I shall not trouble the House by going on reading a very learned and at the same time a very sensible explanation of what is happening.

The document points out, for instance, that an adequate supply of human foodstuffs—that is, not merely adequate for this country but for the world—is involved in the work going on now. I know people in the Agricultural Research Station at Rothamsted—if I may digress for a moment—who are studying exactly that question. I noticed in one of the newspapers the other day that one of the leading oil companies was hoping to feed us on protein made out of oil.

I am making no criticisms—I am in no position to do so—but these are highly important matters. Yet all we are confronted with today is this increase. I am not complaining about it, it is good as far as it goes, but I am disappointed that we should not have rather more in the terms of developing and encouraging research in view of the highly critical state of affairs indicated in this Report.

It ends by saying: It would be quite unsafe to predict that any particular one of these suggestions … And it has made a number, I have quoted two— … is likely to eventuate within a few years, but it seems relatively safe to assert that some or other of them is likely to begin paying off in the not too distant future. If these were small or trifling, or appeared to us in this House as small or trifling, I would not stress them in this way, but they are vital to the future of the country and vital, I think, to the future of the world. In the circumstances, I found the right hon. Gentleman's explanation rather unsatisfactory—not that he did not tell us the position, but that it did not seem that we were getting what was required at the moment.

I cannot of course say that the original Estimate ought to have been ten times as much or anything of that sort. I simply indicate in the most general terms that I completely disagree with the right hon. Gentleman's feeling that all is well. I do not think anything of the sort. I regret, as he does, that a Treasury Minister should be put in the position of providing money through the U.G.C., on the one hand, and looking after the money of the country, including that money, on the other hand. I do not think we should ever put the Treasury on two sides of the table, but this matter is being investigated in other quarters. I cannot go into it today, and I mention it only because the right hon. Gentleman himself mentioned it.

I say to him in all seriousness that he must consider what is in these Reports. As long as the responsibility lies with the Treasury and those at the Treasury maintain their rôle of watch-dogs, they must remember that the functions of watch-dogs in this field are very narrow indeed compared with the magnitude of the considerations which call for proper provision of scientific research at present, and not just a provision to meet an increasing number of students—that, of course, has to be provided for—but provision to meet the growth of science itself.

Perhaps when some years ahead we look back we shall say that, although no doubt it was of vital importance to increase the number of scientific students—I would not say anything other than that—it was at least equally important to see that what they were to learn and what they were to be taught should be the real modern developments, the kind of thing which is being done by such an institution as the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. It gave a prize for a magnificent biological discovery of the highest importance, but those who get Nobel prizes would recognise that they are part of a team and a group of people who have been working, not necessarily in their time but often for a long time before them, on one line of research which may not at once have led to these startling results. We have to keep up with the times and not delay any longer about it.

I have said what I want to say and I have done my best, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to keep in order. I do not think I have done any worse in that respect than the right hon. Gentleman. I feel so strongly about this that I know the right hon. Gentleman will be glad to answer the substance of what has been put to him. The substance is that the Government are not finding enough money for scientific research at present.

I turn from that to the last point, which is an entirely separate one, on which I expect no comment from the right lion. Gentleman, but on which I hope I may get one from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. It is in the Ministry of Education's Supplementary Estimate. This item is on page 9 of the Supplementary Estimate, and in this case I have the happy advantage of an original Vote, not an increase. I have not to do quite so much skating over thin ice as I have been trying to do in the past few minutes.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It is very suitable weather.

Mr. Mitchison

Quite so, but the ice is thawing and dangerous and we shall have to do something about it soon. This item is about half-way down the page, the last item on "International Subscriptions, &c." The amount is not a very large one and I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will be disappointed to hear that I do not propose to be very critical about it. It is numbered 3 and called: U.N.E.S.C.O.: Emergency programme of financial aid to African countries; U.K. Government contribution £38,929. I suppose that works out at something between 100,000 and 120,000 dollars. I see that the total expenditure for this university programme is 2¼ million dollars. I earnestly hope that we are paying our share. I should like to be reassured that that is so. The 2¼ million dollars may not be immediate expenditure—I do not think it is—but it is extraordinarily difficult to find what others have paid and what for the purpose of this Supplementary Estimate the total amount of our own contribution is. If the Parliamentary Secretary cannot answer me, I tell him at once that I shall not complain. I tried to find out what it is, but it is difficult. One can always ask a question afterwards, but it is important to see what this is.

I hope that I have got it right and that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to add a little to what I have here. I have the last Report of the Director-General on the activities of U.N.E.S.C.O., but unfortunately these Reports come out slowly and this one is for 1961. It is therefore the later developments about which I should like particularly to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary. Apparently the origin of this was that an appeal was made to member States to assist through U.N.E.S.C.O. the development of education in the countries of Africa.

I read from page 43 of the Report, in the right-hand column, paragraph 174: The general conference, … authorised 'the establishment of an emergency programme' to begin in 1961 … That, I take it, is this programme— and to continue for three years to serve four requirements: 'construction of educational buildings; production of teaching aids, both traditional and new; provision of overseas teachers and professors for secondary, technical and higher educational establishments; (and) assessment of educational needs'. That programme, I suppose, began in 1961. I am rather curious to know why this comes up as a Supplementary Estimate. I should have thought that the Government would have been contributing in previous years. Is that the case? If not, I think that the Parliamentary Secretary should defend the inaction of the Government in not contributing in previous years.

I should like to know what is being done and what progress is being made. This is intended to be a short emergency programme. If it has not started yet, whoever may be responsible, I think that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that it is disappointing that it has not started. It ought to have started in 1961. We are now in 1963, and for the first time we have a Supplementary Estimate about it. There follow a number of what I may call procedural and similar arrangements and there are one or two things which are mentioned as requirements but I am unable to get any detailed information about what actually happened in 1961.

There is one matter which I should like to mention and about which I admit at once I have an interest—not in a bad sense, but because I am personally interested. It is the business of sending teachers to Africa. I understand that this has been done by one or two county councils in England and to my knowledge by at least one in Scotland. I do not know what the results have been. Have any teachers been going out? Can the hon. Gentleman say how the matter stands? Another thing which interests me is the production of teaching aids, both traditional and new. That sounds to have real possibilities and I hope that we shall be told what they all are.

I must apologise for some of the length of time I have taken and I must also apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) for having dealt with matters with which he usually deals, but we thought it more convenient to raise it in this way. If he has anything to say, he may have the good fortune to catch your eye later on, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for listening with such patience to such a detailed attack on the Government.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Peter Emery (Reading)

It is always a lesson to follow the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) when he has been skating on thin ice. I have to do the same and he will appreciate that we both face the same physical difficulties.

I may well have to declare an interest in what I am about to say on this matter, because I am a Member of the Court of Reading University. It is a great pleasure to me to be able to thank my right hon. Friend for having included in the Supplementary Estimate an increase of up to £154,000 for the chemistry building at Reading University. I am sure that everyone will realise that this only goes to show that Reading University is trying to push on with all possible speed because of the chronic necessity for this accommodation.

I welcomed what I thought to be the much more concilatory tone and encouraging approach which we had from my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary compared with that of his predecessor when I raised this matter only a year ago. I hope that this change will continue, that it is not a flash in the pan and that this attitude towards universities, for which there is a greater need than for almost anything else at the moment, will continue—I am not suggesting that my right hon. Friend should be slapdash in the way he treats other Votes.

I admit at once that the amount needed by the university to hold to its originally approved levels of capital expenditure during this period would be about £½ million to £⅔ million. We have received about £200,000, but part of it is what now has the horrible name, "erosion", which means that this is the difference between the approved estimate and the actual figure which has to be met. It is the cost of the time of building. For Reading, this means that we have to postpone other major projects until 1965.

I do not believe that this is what my right lion. Friend wishes to happen. It is certainly not what I wish to happen. The record of the Conservative Government in pushing forward with university expansion is better than that of any previous Government. We all want to go fast. I know that I carry the Opposition with me on that, but it must be remembered that this is as fast as has ever been known. [Laughter.]

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)


Mr. Emery

Hon. Members may laugh and scorn and cast doubts about it, but what matters is that the people at the universities know this to be a fact; and those who are serious want to ensure that this is treated seriously and not as a laughing matter and that we pursue that approach which was evidenced by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Will the hon. Member go up the line from Reading to Oxford and visit Professor Denys Wilkinson, of nuclear physics, and 26, Banbury Road, which used to a girls' grammar school until it was declared unfit and which then housed some nurses until they decided that the plumbing was too old, when it became the Department of Nuclear Physics? Will he make that visit and then make his assumptions?

Mr. Emery

I am always delighted to go up the river from the senior university of Reading to one of the more junior universities, which I happened to attend. The hon. Gentleman mentioned 26 Banbury Road, which is only nine doors away from where I had my "digs" when I was in college, so I know the area especially well.

There is certainly a need for expansion, as the Minister would be the first to agree. We can find specific examples throughout the country. What I am pointing out, and I am taking Reading as an example, is that if the universities got on with their programmes it would be seen that the Minister was willing to come forward—I would push him further—with Supplementary Estimates to assist them. I am saying that the proof of that is the chemistry building at Reading, which is ahead of schedule.

Mr. Sydney Irving (Dartford)

Will the hon. Member tell me of any major Western country of which it is not also true that there is an expansion? Is not the real criterion not whether there has been an expansion, but whether, on the one hand, it has met the need, and, on the other, whether it is keeping pace with that of the rest of the world?

Mr. Emery

If I dealt with all the implications of that question, I would be completely under the ice on which I have been trying to skate. I have noticed you nodding, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and, without any discourtesy. I will not reply to the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Sydney Irving), because that would mean bringing back the whole House for an education debate.

Mr. Willis

It was a very relevant question.

Mr. Mitchison rose

Mr. Emery

I shall not give way at the moment. However relevant this may be, the debate is on a specific question. I am doing my best to keep within the rules of order. I know that some hon. Members delight in seeing them broken, but I am not one of those. There are many other hon. Members who wish to speak on other issues—

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

Where are they?

Mr. Emery

—and I shall, therefore, pursue what I was saying.

Mr. Mitchison

What we were objecting to, in case the hon. Gentleman did not understand, is this. We understand that he is on thin ice, but he should not skate over it by saying positively that he thinks that the Government have done so much, and imply that they have done, and are doing, enough. We do not think so.

Mr. Emery

I know the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. G. R. Mitchison) well enough to know that whatever the Government were doing it would not be enough, and that the nearer we get to the General Election the more positive will that statement become.

Let us return to the matter under discussion, because this increase in the building programme is of major concern to Reading. Let us consider what has happened as a result of this postponement. During the last term enrolments increased by 100. The curve of enrolments had been rising at a steady rate until 6th September, when it flattened out, and I am urging that we should take action to ensure that the curve moves up at a faster rate than ever before.

The difficulty is that to do this in Reading we must have the necessary accommodation. It had been proposed to include a hall of residence in one of the buildings which cannot now be built because of this postponement, and the absence of this will make it three times more difficult for the court of the university to increase the number of places available. This will mean that by the end of the quinquennium there will be 200 places fewer than we had hoped would be available at the university.

It is imperative that the Government and the University Grants Committee get together. It is not unfair to say that there has been a certain amount of friction in the relations between the Government and the Committee. It is imperative that this should be overcome, because only by doing so shall we get the speed which is essential for the expansion indicated by the Supplementary Estimate. We are not asking for absurd amounts. We are suggesting that those universities which have proved themselves able to expand should be encouraged to do so.

8.14 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Peter Emery) on intervening in this intimate debate between the two Front Benches. I want to say a few words about universities and then turn to the provisions made in the Education Vote.

It is a great pleasure—speaking relatively—to hear the right hon. Gentleman. We must prefer him to the Home Secretary. We are very glad that the atmosphere is much better, and that, instead of being discouraged, universities are being congratulated if they exceed the restraint put on them by the Home Secretary. I would, however, like to emphasise the problems of our universities, and show why the provisions we are making are absolutely and wholly inadequate.

People ought to realise that during the last 100 years we have been fortunate enough to be able to provide a university education which is second to none as cheaply as it is possible to provide it, but that means that if we consider our present provision for university education we find that enormous expenditure is necessary merely to bring it up to date.

It does not need the Robbins Committee to demonstrate that the need for people with higher education qualifications is considerably in excess of what it was a few years ago, and that as a result the demands on universities are greater than ever. It is, therefore, irrelevant to talk about providing more this year than last year.

Thirdly, more pupils than ever are coming forward from the schools, because of the coincidence of the bulge and the trend, qualified to enjoy university education, and it will be a tragedy if, in the next few years, these young people are not given the opportunity of enjoying the higher education they have earned. That is why, although we welcome the provisions, we cannot regard them as being sufficient to meet our needs.

It is appropriate that the hon. Gentleman should have mentioned Reading University, but it is unrealistic to be self-congratulatory about the provision made at Reading for the teaching of chemistry when my information is that courses in archaeology, general linguistics, and Russian are held up due to the Government's economy measures, and that the start of major building for botany, zoology, psychology—and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) will be interested in this —and microbiology have been deferred for one year because of the economy measures imposed by the Government.

Mr. Peter Emery

In all fairness to the hon. Gentleman, I must point out that at Reading two, and only two, buildings have been deferred. If he is suggesting that the teaching of the subjects to which he has referred is concentrated in two buildings, I cannot give him a judgment on that, but I assure him that the deferment is in respect of only two buildings.

Mr. Willey

My information is from the Association of University Teachers, and I have no doubt that it is correct. The information has come from the university, but as the hon. Gentleman has taken that point I shall mention one or two other universities.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Imperial College. My information is that the new buildings for departments of mathematics and meteorology, and the second stage of the new chemistry building, have been deferred because of Government economies.

Turning to the other universities mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, the position is that although we welcome the fact that work has progressed so successively over the current year that it has exceeded what the Government anticpated, nevertheless, because of the attitude adopted by the Home Secretary and the present Minister of Education during the last year, the universities are seriously prejudiced.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman pays less attention to me than to the Spectator. When commenting on the effect on universities of the Government's policy, it put the matter very succinctly. It said: In the second, and more sadly, a forward-looking Minister of Education, who had clearly quarrelled with the Government over their decision and whose chief ability was to be able to win money for his department so that the number and variety of pupils staying at school until the sixth form had increased overwhelmingly, has been dismissed This was one of the victims of the "summer massacre". In his place is a man who, in the parliamentary debate on government aid, showed that he had no concern about the treatment of the U.G.C. and seemed to regard favourably the Treasury's encroaching on its rights. This is the unfortunate position about the university grants and, as was said at the time by the Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University—we respect his authority— it is now too late to cope. Thousands of young people will not enjoy the right to higher education which they have earned.

As the House may know, the Association of University Teachers recently held an inquiry which revealed that at least 2.000 young people, who were properly qualified and eager to go to university, will not have the opportunity. So I say to the right hon. Gentleman that we appreciate his ebullient attitude very much, but hope that he will translate it as rapidly as possible into more effective action so that we may get a reversal of the present attitude towards universities adopted by the Government and that, without waiting for the report of the Robbins Committee, we shall take every step possible to encourage universities to expand as much as they can.

The tragic position here is that the universities, which are very conservative bodies, are willing and anxious to expand, and it is the Government who are preventing them from doing so. To give relevance to the Supplementary Estimate, may I say that it is no use encouraging the provision of new buildings unless we also encourage the provision of staffs. During the last twelve months there has been a serious erosion of physicists and many other faculties at the universities.

Turning to the Education Vote, I wish to make one point in the interest of the House. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman—I am obliged to him for staying for this debate—will pay serious attention to this point—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Now that the hon. Member has reached this point, I am wondering whether it would suit the convenience of the House, the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) and the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison)—who also raised a number of points —if I made a brief reply to them and then, when we reach the other debate, I will hand over to my hon. Friend. Would the hon. Gentleman like me to make a short intervention now?

Mr. Wiley

I am certain that the House would welcome an intervention from the right hon. Gentleman, if it were assumed to be an interruption in the course of my speech so that I may be entitled to resume my speech afterwards.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I seek the leave of the House, which I need, to comment on a point on which I have been asked to comment by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering, by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North and by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Peter Emery). I am, in so doing, subject to the difficulty that the Supplementary Estimate relates only to the provisions in the current year, and clearly, therefore, I should be going quite outside that Estimate were I to discuss proposals or policies going into the next financial years; though I certainly would not be unwilling, on a suitable occasion, to go wider into those matters.

Mr. Mitchison

What about sites?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

We are making great progress with sites which, I agree, is a good and vivid indication that we are looking to the future. But I do not think I can, without getting completely outside this Supplementary Estimate, go into the details of future plans.

I hope that I shall not incur your displeasure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I say that I find little with which to quarrel in the attitude regarding the future as indicated in the speeches which we have heard. I share the view expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House regarding the fundamental importance to the country of maintaining and sustaining university expansion. I hope, again, that I shall not get into trouble if I point out, in fairness to my predecessors, that we have seen this element of the capital grant more than quadrupled during the last ten years, from £7.6 million to £32.4 million.

That is an indication of the line which we have been following and intend to pursue. My hon. Friend the Member for Reading was not only personally very agreeable, but also, for reasons which the House would not fully appreciate, very forgiving. As a member of the Court of the University of Reading, he was very forgiving for not holding against us the fact that we have persuaded that university's very able Vice-Chancellor to assume the crucial post of Chairman of the University Grants Committee.

Mr. Peter Emery

I particularly did not wish to bring up that matter, because I do not know that I shall forgive my right hon. Friend for that.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sure that University Grants Committee, and the university world, will be grateful to the University of Reading for allowing this very able man to take up this appointment.

In reply to my hon. Friend—this is part of the difficulty in which the hon. and learned Member for Kettering found himself—this provision is not in any appreciable way due to the result of what my hon. Friend called erosion. It is the result of accelerated progress. The question of erosion arose on the other matter referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that of increasing starts.

The hon. and learned Gentleman also asked a certain amount about the provision for scientific research. As he will know, a good deal of scientific research is not only not provided for in this Estimate, but not on any of these Votes. It is provided on the Vote of the D.S.I.R., for which my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council is responsible. But, because of the way in which we do things in this country, a certain amount of scientific research is done through the universities and it is affected by this Vote, and quite directly through the provisions under this Vote for additional equipment, particularly I in the new scientific departments being developed at present.

In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and dealing, as one enforcedly does in these circumstances with only a small part of the problem, I can only say that the need for expanded scientific research is fully appreciated and that in a small way this seems to me to assist towards it.

Mr. Mitehison

May I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I picked my quotations very carefully to leave out research council expenditure so far as possible and to confine myself strictly to the subject of this Vote? I may not have been wholly successful, but I did try. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us the recommendations of the University Grants Committee for buildings and equipment.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The only University Grants Committee recommendation with which we are concerned in the Supplementary Estimate is the specific one, as I explained, under Subhead A for additional medical students. The question of U.G.C. recommendations does not arise on the rest of the Estimate, because it is simply providing money earlier in respect of recommendations which had previously been accepted. Therefore, it only arises on this aspect of medical students when we asked the views of the Committee what provision would be needed to get this expanded output of medical students.

Mr. Mitehison

If the Government go on like this we shall become more and more convinced of the much greater size of the requests of the University Grants Committee than of the Government's provision for them.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As to capital grants, which form the greater part of this Vote, these are the working out of recommendations previously accepted, but as I have tried to explain to the House, progressed with so much more quickly that they have to be paid for in the current year. This, apart from the small point I have mentioned of the medical students, is the essence of this Estimate. Though I lack the adroitness of the hon. and learned Gentleman have attempted to go a little wider, but obviously cannot go very much wider.

Perhaps I can say that it does not raise the general question of university policy. It does, however—and this is encouraged and welcomed by the Government—indicate directly the speed at which the universities are getting on with the job of expansion and I hope that as the years pass that zeal and determination will be well supported.

Mr. Willey rose4—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) may speak again only by leave of the House, in the same way as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury could make his second speech only by leave of the House.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am also obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention.

I want to make a point now to which I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman to reply, but to which I hope he will pay attention. In the Education Estimates there is a substantial increase in two items referring to grants and loans to aided and special agreement schools. The Estimates reveal not only that a substantial amount of money—£9½ million—is involved, but also that the extent of the error is over 100 per cent. However, this is an improvement and we welcome it.

We now have the advantage of the third Report from the Select Committee on Estimates. I want to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to one difficulty that, the Select Committee must have felt, and this is a reflection upon Treasury sanction and supervision. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) very fairly pointed out that these matters are planned over a period of time. He asked how such a large error could be made. He said: I must press this, because all the large items of a building programme are approved a long time in advance by the Ministry. This is the reply, and it is this which I take exception: … I cannot answer this question in detail. If you wish to pursue it, it would be with the Ministry of Education. These may not be major works; these could possibly be minor works. Another Treasury official said: I would think that they would be mostly major works. This is an affront to the House. The Estimates Committee sits to give the House information about Estimates. The Treasury is well informed about this and knows full well what it will be asked. I do not regard this as a question of detail. Whether they are major or minor works is of fundamental importance. For the Treasury to appear before the Committee, not knowing whether they are major or minor, and merely to say, "If you want to pursue the matter you had better get somebody from the Ministry of Education", creates the impression that there is very inadequate Treasury supervision. It would appear that what the Ministry of Education does is of little concern to the Treasury. It is almost as if the Treasury merely accounts for the figures, but that if any questions of detail are raised the Committee must go to the Department concerned.

This involves £9½ million and is, therefore, a matter of some importance. How did this error happen? I do not invite the right hon. Gentleman to answer now, unless he feels like intervening again, but I hope that he will take account of this debate and realise that a Select Committee cannot be properly served if there is such inadequacy of information from those who give evidence for the Treasury.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. Naturally, I have not had the opportunity to apply my mind to this matter, but I undertake to look into it. The rest of the subject is a matter for my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. I appreciate, however, that the conduct of the Treasury has rightly been raised with me and I shall look into it although, obviously, I cannot give the answer for a few days.

Mr. Willey

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He is a very good House of Commons man. He has taken the point and I know that he will honour his undertaking.

Now I shall turn to the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. It asks for twice as much money as was envisaged for grants and loans for aided and special agreement schools. How did this miscalculation come about? If we relied upon the Treasury witnesses, we would be no wiser because they knew little or nothing about how these figures were arrived at. The Ministry, trying to be helpful, submitted a memorandum to the Select Committee. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with this matter in more detail and more effectively than that memorandum did. It called in aid irrelevant points, including the change in percentage in 1959.

I have been dissatisfied for some time with the way in which the Ministry deals with school building in forward-estimating. The Ministry has very properly encouraged looking ahead so that there may be more effective planning and utilisation of resources. This is a considerable help to local authorities. But to be effective the planning must be accurate and in view of the fact that the Ministry is making a five-year programme it seems extraordinary that a mistake of this magnitude should arise.

While we welcome the very substantial increase and the fact that twice as many voluntary schools are being built as was originally envisaged, this is a matter of importance which should be dealt with by the Parliamentary Secretary. Last year, we held a debate on the school building programme for 1963–64. Then the Minister said that he had cut the programme from £64 million to £55 million, but in the details of the programme we found that his figure was inaccurate and that it had been cut down not to £55 million, but to £47 million.

Naturally, we welcome any increase in the Education Vote, particularly for sport. I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to say whether the Department's programme for sport is running in pace with the announcement made by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) in answer to a Question of mine last year. In other words, are the Government keeping pace with the accelerated programme they announced at that time?

The same applies to the Albemarle Report. We welcome the increased provision for the Youth Service. This is also really a question of pace. I was rather disturbed to find that the present pace is about two-thirds of that which the Ministry hoped to achieve in its original programme. We welcome the increase in the Vote in this connection, but would like to know whether the Ministry is far behind its original target.

What progress is being made by the Ministry on new building for colleges of advanced technology? This is of considerable importance for these colleges and is one of the things which is retarding their pace of advance. The fact that the Ministry is asking for more money for the training for teachers is encouraging, but I would like to know how the expansion in teacher training has gone because the answer to that question will give us a clue about the prospects of teacher training expansion this year. I would like to pay tribute to the training colleges, for they have done an excellent job in increasing the number of students they have been able to accept.

As far as I can see from the figures, we started last year with the prospect of 15,000 students entering teacher training colleges. As the year progressed, the figure of 17,000 students was accepted and the figures now show that we almost reached 18,000. This is a great achievement by the training colleges and I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to say that they have not exhausted all the possibilities for extra students and that we can still hope that an even greater number will be admitted.

Just as it is vitally important to universities to get every additional student they can—particularly in view of the large number of students who have qualified for entry—the same is true of the training colleges. The figures reveal that by the end of the year there were at least 3,000 qualified young people who sought training college education, but who could not get it, despite their qualifications. This is a national disaster when we are so short of teachers.

We welcome all these additional expenditures on education, and are optimistic enough to hope that the Minister will try to increase even more Supplementary Estimates, which the House will approve. On the other hand, the hon. Gentleman will realise that what these Supplementary Estimates really demonstrate is that within the education service itself there is an ingenuity and a wish for the greater provision for education which is breaking the restraints put upon it by the Government. It would be far better to adopt a different attitude, and to say that it should be encouraged, and it is in the national interest to do it as generously as we can.

8.45 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

The first point mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) related to grants and loans for aided and special schools. As he pointed out, a memorandum was submitted to the Estimates Committee on behalf of my right hon. Friend. It explained that this increase was due to the simultaneous operation of a number of factors. The hon. Gentleman suggested that two of those factors—the rising proportion of the building programme devoted to voluntary schools, and the effect of the 1959 Act—were irrelevant. With respect, I suggest that both of them are very relevant because while we knew about these in advance of the original Estimates for the year, the fact that the proportion of the building programme devoted to voluntary schools is increasing as it is is bound to multiply any error that may creep into the Estimates as originally presented. One of the reasons why that voluntary provision is rising is that in recent years, and this year, we have been able to provide for more remodelling and extension jobs, which are much more likely to relate to voluntary schools than to new schools.

The effect of the 1959 Act presents a very real accounting difficulty in the Ministry of Education. At the moment, bills are being presented to us at both the 50 per cent. and the 75 per cent. rate, because much work is still in progress that has only qualified for the 50 per cent. rate, and this mixture of claims evidently adds to forecasting difficulties at this stage.

The major factor here is that the claims for grants have been coming in much more quickly than previously. In this memorandum, the Department went into some detail about our experience in relation to claims, and paragraph 5 gives details of the Ministry's experience in this respect in the past, and of the very substantial change it has experienced this year. Previously, as will be seen, over the five-year cycle that we have come to expect in any major project, there were very few claims in the first year. Most of the claims came in the second year, considerably fewer in the third year, virtually none in the fourth year, and a postscript, so to speak, in the fifth year, when the contractors' final bills had been presented to the schools and the school authorities had presented them to us.

A great acceleration in the submission of claims for grants has been experienced this year. This may be due to a greater efficiency in building which is resulting in quicker completion of jobs. It is partly that and partly due, apparently, to a quicker submission of claims by the voluntary education authorities and the schools themselves. It may be that higher interest rates have had something to do with that. It may be that the schools have not wished to carry the burden of payment of the bills for too long and have consequently made arrangements to submit their claims to us much quicker than they have done previously. These are the major factors which have led to this very substantial Supplementary Estimate this year. We can take satisfaction, however, in the reflection that it arises primarily because work is being done more quickly than hitherto and more quickly than we had expected.

On the subject of grants for further education the hon. Member mentioned the colleges of advanced technology and the teacher training colleges. The increased figure under subhead F (1) (b) "Capital: Acquisition of additional building sites, etc." relates primarily to the acquisition of the site for Brunel College which, as the hon. Member probably knows, is moving to Uxbridge. This is a purchase which was made rather earlier than we had expected, for a sum of about £200,000, which accounts for a large part of the Supplementary Estimate.

As the hon. Member will know, there has been an increase in the intake into the teacher training colleges even above the estimated increase which led to our original forecast of expenditure. I was glad that the hon. Member paid a tribute to the colleges, because this Supplementary Estimate arose from the really exceptional efforts which have been made by the teacher training colleges in getting into them this year 48,000 students.

The hon. Member asked about future plans. I realise that I am not allowed on this occasion to pursue very far a debate on that subject. He will be aware, however, that my right hon. Friend has only recently announced further expansion plans with the intention of raising the population of the teacher training colleges from 48,000 to 80,000 by 1970–71. When we consider that the population stood at 28,000 in 1958 this is very substantial expansion, almost a trebling in a period of 12 years.

The hon. Member finally touched upon the increases which appear for social and educational recreation. These flow largely from the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer last July. We have devoted the larger proportion of the additional sums available to us for support to the youth service programme, concentrating on capital projects within that programme which are concerned with sport and recreation. As the hon. Member will see, there has also been a substantial increase in the grant to voluntary organisations for physical training and recreation, which are made under the Physical Training and Recreation Act separately from our capital programme for the Youth Service and for sport.

Mr. Mitchison

I am very interested in the Lord President of the Council. He is also the Minister for Science. He has some functions in regard to sport, though I have never quite understood what they were. Does the hon. Gentleman keep in close touch with him, and what does he do when he is up in the North-Fast?

Mr. Chataway

I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman feels that sport should engage the full-time attention of a senior Cabinet Minister. Perhaps that view could be sustained in the House of Commons, though I do not think that, even given my enthusiasm for sport, it would be one to which I should subscribe.

My noble Friend is concerned with the co-ordination of the work of the various Departments which are concerned with sport in this country. In the Ministry of Education, obviously, we have a hand in the provision of sporting facilities in both the schools and the youth services and in the grants we make under the Physical Training and Recreation Act. An even larger sum of money is spent by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on sports facilities. One of the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report was that there should be much closer co-operation between the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Department which also is concerned.

I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that my right hon. Friend and I are in close touch with the arrangements which the Lord President is at present making for a review of sports provision and Government arrangements in this matter.

Mr. Mitchison

I assure the hon. Gentleman that it never occurred to me to suggest that the Lord President of the Council should devote all his time to the subject of sport. He is supposed to do other things. But will the hon. Gentleman tell me whether he notices any difference now that he is co-ordinated?

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

I am becoming a little perplexed to know how this is connected with the Supplementary Estimates we are debating.

Mr. Chataway

Perhaps I had better move on, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the series of questions which the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) put to me about the emergency programme of financial aid to African countries and the Supplementary Estimate which appears here for nearly £39,000 in respect of the United Kingdom Government's contribution.

I attended the U.N.E.S.C.O. conference in December and had something to do with this subject. Britain was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution in 1960 which set up this Africa Emergency Fund, but Her Majesty's Government made clear then that, in view of our very extensive aid commitments in Africa, we should not ourselves be making a contribution to the fund. This was a voluntary fund outside the regular U.N.E.S.C.O. programme and budget. Some would advance objections in principle to the setting up of such funds, feeling that it would be better for such work to appear in the regular U.N.E.S.C.O. programme. But, in view of the needs in this field, and in view of the support that this project was receiving, the United Kingdom delegation at that conference agreed to support the setting up of the fund, but made it absolutely clear that it could not join with the countries which were contributing to it.

The amount aimed at initially for the three-year period was 4 million dollars. By mid-October, just over 2Û million dollars had been contributed to the fund and projects of a total estimated cost of nearly 3,400,000 dollars had been approved or provisionally approved by the Executive Board of U.N.E.S.C.O. At that point, 29 countries had contributed.

The hon. and learned Gentleman asked about the work which had so far been undertaken under this programme. It includes a basic survey of educational needs in Africa on which 1 million dollars has been either expended or approved; aid in the construction of school buildings and, in particular, a scheme for text book production centres—that is all that I can find under the Subhead about which the hon. and learned Gentleman particularly inquired in relation to teaching aids —and a supply of overseas teachers and professors to African countries. I understand that at that point in October about 70 teachers and professors had been supplied on a temporary basis to a number of African countries.

During the 1962 conference, which both my right hon. Friend and I attended for short periods, it was learned that Britain was due to receive a rebate on her United Kingdom subscription to U.N.E.S.C.O.—a repayment of our earlier contributions. Mention will be found of this under Subhead L on page 10 of the Estimates. The budget surplus arose out of the payment of arrears of subscriptions by other countries.

A number of delegations at the conference suggested that the rebates that they received should be contributed to one or other of the special activities of U.N.E.S.C.O. It was therefore decided that a sum equivalent to this rebate should be contributed by Her Majesty's Government to the Africa Emergency Fund. I was able to announce this to the U.N.E.S.C.O. conference on behalf of the Government, and it was very well received, particularly by the African countries.

I think that the House will take satisfaction from the fact that the Government were able to make this contribution. The fund always had our support and sympathy. U.N.E.S.C.O. is able to make a very valuable contribution in this field and the project was attracting support from a number of other countries. Despite the exceptionally heavy aid commitments which we have in Africa, it seemed right that Britain should not stand aside from this fund.

The figures listed in the Supplementary Estimates will be subject to amendment again in a further Supplementary Estimate which we shall have to present. We were notified by the U.N.E.S.C.O. Secretariat that the rebate would amount to £38,929, but that this was subject to confirmation some months later. It now appears that the figure should be about £1,000 or so less than that, and we shall therefore correct it on a future Supplementary Estimate.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

Committee Tomorrow.

Back to