§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Scottish Certificate of Education Examination Board Regulations, 1963 (S.I., 1953, No. 2131), dated 18th December, 1963, a copy of which was laid before this House on 3rd January, be annulled.It is worth while noting the dates contained in the Motion. The House will note that the Regulations were laid on 18th December, only two days before the House rose for the Christmas Recess. Since these provisions are extremely important for the future of Scottish education, the question is raised in our minds whether the Government have handled this matter in the best way.
I have no wish to introduce political acrimony into this of all debates, but what has happened on this occasion savours too much of the usual habit of the Government, during Summer and other Recesses, of using devices of this character sometimes to avoid undesirable debates and publicity. It is important to point out that these Regulations were presented or. 18th December and were laid before the House on 3rd January. The House did not resume until 14th January. Indeed, the Regulations were in operation four days before the House reassembled.
I must make the point to the Under-Secretary of State that we protest, however mildly it may seem, about the treatment of the Opposition in being left with insufficient time for full consideration. It was only by the Opposition being alert and being alerted to the position at the last moment that the Prayer was tabled, otherwise not a word would have been said about the hon. Lady's Regulations.
The importance of the Regulations can be judged from the fact that the proposed new Examination Board will control the future curricula in the schools. I will not develop this point further than to refer to the usual admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) in Committee, whim he pointed out most 1451 effectively that the Regulations which are now before the House would be extremely important in that regard.
A vital question which is involved in the new Regulations and which the new Board will require to face is what will happen concerning the proposed introduction of Advanced levels in Scotland. As the noble Lady knows, this is something new to us, and I should like to ask one or two questions about it. Originally, it was intended to introduce these A levels in 1965. That intention was departed from and it was then proposed that it should be in 1966. Will the new Board under these Regulations have power to decide whether or not to introduce these A-levels? Can the noble Lady tell us that? As I understand it, it has not yet been finally decided to introduce them. Will it be left to the Board? Will the approval of the Secretary of State be required? Moreover, can the noble Lady tell us what the appointed day is when the Board will start conducting the examinations? I should be grateful if she would tell me. Some recent intimations which may have dealt with this matter may have escaped me.
I come to Regulation 8 and start upon the principal points I have in mind. Regulation 8 speaks of the term of office of the chairman and other members of the Board. It says that eachshall hold office in accordance with the terms of his appointment.Can the noble Lady indicate what term the Secretary of State may have in mind for the chairman? Would it be three years, or five years? Can she say also what is to be the term for the other members? I think this is important in the sense that continuity and experience over some period would be, I should imagine, of value to those who are asked to serve on this Board.
All of us, I think, accept as not only desirable but right that the Board itself shall appoint a finance committee as provided in Regulation 9(1), which makes it quite clear that the members of any sub-committee which the finance committee can in turn appoint shall themselves be members of the finance committee.
1452 Having got that clear we come to the next three paragraphs of the Regulation, and on these I think we want elucidation from the noble Lady. Whereas the finance committee consists largely of Board members, the Boardmay appoint such other Committees as they think fit and such other Committees may"—in turn—appoint such Sub-Committees or Subject Panels as they think fitin their turn. That is paragraph (2), but paragraph (3) says that the membership of any such other sub-committees or subject panels need not be members of the Board. I should like some information about this. What is the purpose behind it? Why should it be necessary to go outside the Board for these people?
When the Bill was in Committee upstairs we had strong arguments about what should be the number of the members of the Board itself, some hon. Members saying there would be far too many, and others that it would not be large enough, trying to urge upon the noble Lady that there should be on the Board people of other categories than teachers and those interested in education. Personally, if it is to be an examination board I think teachers ought to be in the preponderance; we can leave the argument about the number of people of other categories. But having argued so strongly against some of our Amendments in Committee on the Bill, why do the Government now, under these Regulations, go so wide as to make it possible that membership of such other committees of the Board may include persons who are not members of the Board? Is not the position that we are to have sub-committees wholly consisting of people who are not members of the Board at all? This seems, to me at least, to be extremely wide.
Moreover, by paragraph (4),The Board may delegate to any Committee appointed under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this regulation any of their functions.…The Board, which is responsible under these Regulations, can delegate any of its functions to a committee, and the committee can delegate to a subcommittee or subject panel whose members need not be members of the Board at all. What is the purpose behind that? 1453 I shall not dilate upon the point any further, but I want to know why we are going so, wide after appointing such a number of people to the Board, why we need to go outside the Board in this way for this purpose.
I shall not deal with Regulation 10 about proceedings but come to Regulation 11(3):The Board shall not have power to borrow money other than power to borrow for periods not exceeding six months on overdraft.…What are the circumstances in which the noble Lady visualises the Board will require an overdraft? In Committee on the Bill we talked about the allocation of money, the adequacy or inadequacy of which we debated.
Similarly, Regulation 12 (1) says:The Board shall keep proper accounts of all sums received or paid by them.In what circumstances does the noble Lady think the Board can receive moneys other than those coming from the Secretary of State and the Government? This is a question, too, which deserves an answer. Is it, for example, intended that some charge should be levied against local authorities in respect of examinations? Who sustains the cost of these examinations at the moment? In addition to being responsible for conducting the examinations, this Board has also the duty of tendering advice on secondary modern education to the Sectary of State.
There is another point I should perhaps add in this connection. If the local authorities are going to be asked to pay, will they be reimbursed? Has any method of payment been arrived at?
By Regulation 14 the Board is being empowered toemploy such whole-time and part-time officers, servants and agents as they require to enable them to carry out their functions.All of us would agree that for this most important function we do not want such a board to be hindered in the proper discharge of its duties, but this Regulation seems extremely wide. Can the noble Lady indicate whether any estimate has been made of the manpower which may possibly be needed? For example, can she tell us what manpower is involved in the present examinations department? How many 1454 teachers are involved? How many invigilators? Are all these covered by the terms of this Regulation? And how many are to be used in the future? We never make progess in these matters with progressive ideas. There is always the danger of empire building. When I read these Regulations and see the various activities involved and the extent to which tie tentacles can be spread down to committees and study groups, the more do I want to know where it is all going to end.
I have drawn attention to the points which seem to me to be important. I do not want to detain the House longer than is necessary, as I know that some of my hon. Friends are anxious to follow with other points which, no doubt, will have occurred to them.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), I wish to raise a number of points arising from these Regulations, and I should like to begin by making a complaint about the way in which the Government have timed this Statutory Instrument. The hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State will recollect that in the Committee proceedings on the Education (Scotland) Bill we had a long argument about the way in which this Examination Board should be set up. We on this side of the House pressed at considerable length that this Board was sufficiently important to warrant an affirmative Resolution for its setting up. I think that we came near to persuading the hon. Lady that we were right, but St. Andrew's House was too much for her.
On 19th March, 1963, in the Standing Committee, she said, in extenuation of the Government's view:We must allow plenty of time for all those concerned to make their representations. We then have to give Parliament 40 days to consider them—it is true, that under the negative resolution procedure, but that gives Members of Parliament an opportunity to make representations to the Secretary of State. Therefore, the Clause was framed in this way quite deliberately to give the flexibility that was required."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 19th March, 1963; c. 6.]We may have had 40 days in the Parliamentary sense of the term to consider these Regulations, but we have certainly not had anything like 40 days in the sense in which ordinary Members of Par- 1455 liament are concerned. I should like to know from the hon. Lady what sort of compulsion was on the Government to table these Regulations in the way they have. Why did they table them in a couple of days before the House rose for the Christmas Recess? Why were they timed to come into operation on 10th January, before the House of Commons resumed?
We are all painfully aware that there is an element of farce in the negative procedure, and that so often we are asked to rubber-stamp Orders, sometimes of great importance, after they have become part of the law of the land. But the Government had ample reason to know how important we considered these Regulations; and to bring in the Regulations in this way seems to treat the consideration that was given to this matter in Committee very lightly indeed. It is only by the sheerest luck that the Parliamentary timetable is such that we have any proper opportunity to discuss this matter at all.
As the hon. Lady knows, there is another Prayer down for discussion tonight. I understand that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner), who is to move that Prayer, feels as strongly as we do about the way in which the Government have acted in their timing. If we had had a normal timetable a large number of Scottish Members would have had to divide between them something like 90 minutes, or even less. The fact that we have rather more time to deal with these matters than we otherwise would have done is certainly nothing to do with the planning of the Government or their sense of responsibility to the House.
So much for the way the Government have treated these Regulations and the Opposition's desires in the matter. It seems to us that these are immensely important Regulations. In fact, in terms of their actual effect on the whole Scottish education system, they are likely to be as important as any fairly substantial piece of legislation that we shall ever have before us. For these reasons we want to get some further information from the Government.
I should like to know whether the hon. Lady is in a position to announce the name of the chairman of the pro- 1456 posed Examination Board. He will occupy a very important rôle in Scottish education, and will be in a position to exercise influence on what goes on in the schools—certainly comparable to any influence the hon. Lady is able to exercise as the responsible Minister. It seems likely that as the years go by and a larger proportion of our children come within the responsibility of the Examination Board, that influence will grow.
There has been considerable argument about the composition of this Board and about the degree to which it should be composed of people with some sort of prefessional educational experience. I understand that despite various representations, only one minor change has been made in the Regulations since they were originally published. I do not accept the view that this Board ought to be composed entirely of educationists. I believe its public significance is so great that this is one case where education is far too important a matter to be left to the teachers. When one comes down to the subject panels and one is dealing with the setting of the questions and, presumably, the arrangements for marking the papers, I think this certainly is a case where the professional educationists should be left to do the job. Nevertheless, I welcome the lay element on the Board as a whole.
Can the Minister give some information about the effect this will have on the work of the Scottish Education Department? As I understand it, until now the leaving certificate examinations in Scotland have been conducted directly by the Scottish Education Department. It has, I believe, used Scottish teachers in various ways to help it, but it has had the overall responsibility. We have never been told how many inspectors, for instance, were engaged in this activity. I should like to know whether the inspectorate is still going to participate in the work of this Board.
What I have particularly in mind is the fact that although there has been a spectacular increase in the number of children taking the leaving certificate examination—indeed, it is one of the reasons for setting up the Board; the number has increased from 18,000 two or three years ago to 42,000 last year—this is still a small minority of the 1457 total number of young people in our secondary schools. I believe that last year there were 292,000 young people in our secondary schools. Important though the Examination Board will be in its effect on the school system, on the curricula and on the attitude of the teachers, nevertheless at the moment it will affect only 42,000 out of nearly 300,000.
We have had an important announcement from the Government that at last the day has been fixed for the raising of the school leaving age, and this is an immense challenge to everybody involved in education. If the raising of the school leaving age is to be carried through effectively and is not to break the hearts of the teachers but make the kind of contribution to our national well-being that we all desire—I firmly believe the decision was right—there must be a tremendous amount of hard constructive thinking about changes in the curricula in our schools for the young people who will stay on till 16 but who are not of an academic bent and, therefore, will not be the sort of people who will be concerned with the operations of the Examination Board. I do nor want to take the matter further than that at the moment except to ask whether there will be a real release of the inspectorate from the job of carrying out the leaving certificate examination and whether there is any thought of altering the curriculum for the other young people who will not go through these examinations.
The Order contains provision for an annual report. This is because the hon. Lady accepted an Opposition Amendment to this effect during the passing of the Act. I hope that the report will be adequate and useful. I hope, too, that the members of the Board—and this is why the personality of the chairman will be so important—will take a fairly wide view of their responsibilities to Scottish education.
At the moment, for our information on the leaving certificate examinations, we are confined to one or two pages in the annual report "Education in Scotland". To the lay reader at least, there is not a great deal of information about the examinations in those pages. I would like to see the annual report of the Examination Board give much 1458 fuller information on the children taking the examination. All we are told now is the number of presentations and passes. But what it is equally important to know is the number of young people studying a particular subject and not being submitted for the examination.
We are all aware of the practice of teachers sometimes only presenting those pupils likeliest to pass so that they can claim a high percentage rate of passes. But what matters in judging the quality of the teacher is not the percentage of those who are presented and who pass out the percentage of those who are not presented. That is a figure we do not get now.
I hope that the Examination Board will give us some information about the university entrance qualifications. A member of the Scottish Universities Entrance Board will represent it on the Examination Board and I hope that both sides will make a genuine effort—I do not want to make this more difficult than it might otherwise be—to establish good personal relations between the two Boards. I hope that those relations will lead, in the not too distant future, to the Universities Entrance Board deciding that it can usefully disband and amalgamate with the Examination Board, for that would be more in the public interest.
Meanwhile, I hope that the figures in the annual report will give an indication of the number of young people emerging from Scottish schools with university entrance qualifications, so that we may have rather more enlightenment about the number of youngsters who are able to get to university and make better judgment of whether university accommodation is adequate.
I hope that we shall also get a fairly good indication in the report of how the examinations are working. At the moment, there is a public dialogue in some of the education journals between the Department and the teachers, considering last year's examinations. This is useful for those actively engaged in education and the new annual report will be an ideal vehicle to give such consideration a more permanent place in education records.
I would have liked to have seen in last year's Education in Scotland a much fuller account of the first year of the new 1459 Ordinary level certificate. Its introduction was in many ways a milestone in Scottish education development and it has many interesting features. The number of young people who took O-level was very encouraging but until we get more detailed information we shall not get the overall picture of what has been happening.
For instance, the new O-level contains modem studies as a subject. I had been urging this for some time as a "trail blazer" which Scottish education should undertake. The subject, in effect, gives people at O-level a view of the world in which they live. The syllabus is quite historic in its way, because it deliberately tries to create in the pupil some sort of world consciousness as well as national consciousness. Education has a vital rôle in getting a more peaceful and constructive world, and we must all learn that we are citizens not only of our own communities but of a world community that is a reality. The Scottish education syllabus is now teaching just that.
I have been trying to persuade the English Ministers concerned to adopt this as well, but they say they cannot do so because the English examination boards are independent and not subject to advice. I hope that the Scottish Board will still be sufficiently responsible to the Government so that we can ask questions about its activities in the House.
I was interested by the figures, given in the last report Education in Scotland of the number of young people sitting for the various O-level subjects. When one gets away from what one might call conventional subjects, the numbers are very small. In modern studies there were 340 presentations; in economic organisation 389; in dress and design 700 and in building drawing 73.
Here we come back to the problem of those staying on at school for another year. Not all are of the type to benefit from an examination system, but there is considerable overlapping and surely there must be a number who could take O-level certificates in these subjects, linking them relevantly to the work they will do after school. They would find school much more stimulating and interesting if this were done. I hope 1460 that the annual report will not only give figures but will also try to stimulate new thinking and experimentation in Scottish schools. I should also like an assurance from the hon. Lady that in the new financial arrangements there will be no question of charging fees to Scottish parents and children for sitting the examinations.
The setting up of the Board is a notable change in education and an inevitable one, given the number of people sitting examinations. It is also thoroughly desirable in that it will help those professionally engaged in education to feel that they have a much bigger stake in the system. It is a legitimate stake.
Its success will depend a great deal on the co-operation of the teachers. There have been a number of encouraging developments in Scottish education over the last two or three years in this respect. We are all awaiting the setting up of a General Teaching Council. As the hon. Lady knows, however, at least one disturbing development is the difficulty over salary negotiating machinery. It would not be in order for me to say anything about that now, but the success of these proposals will depend on carrying the Scottish teachers along in their support.
I hope, therefore, that, in facing the difficulties which have arisen, great patience will be shown and a really serious attempt made to give the teachers an opportunity to resolve those difficulties so that these hopeful developments can go on and bring greater benefit to Scottish education.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) have both stressed the importance of this new development, and that is the predominant idea in my own mind. It is very important and it may have wide ramifications. Judging from the number of detailed points which they made additionally, one might think that not many would be left even at so early a stage of the debate, but there are several details which I should like to mention.
1461 Taking paragraphs (a) and (b) of Regulation 5(1) together with what has been said about the Scottish Universities Entrance Board, it would be helpful if the noble Lady would tell us rather more about the co-existence—if the Entrance Board lasts long enough for a word like that to be used—of these two bodies in practice. To what extent will they be doing the same work? The Entrance Board attracted some notoriety because of its attitude to one or two African languages. This would seem to be outside the purview of the new Board, but is it? If not, I hope that this will be the kind of thing which the noble Lady will tell us more about.
The Board is to advise the Secretary of State on the conduct of examinations. With a wide interpretation, that gives rise to much speculation about the range of interests of the Clause. I hope that that range will be very wide and that the Board will have considerable responsibility in these matters and not be strictly connected directly with the examination room and examination scripts but also with the places of examinations, not only with the school curriculum but with the relationships between one kind of education and another and between one kind of education institution and another.
Regulation 5(2) says:Subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, the Board may enter into arrangements to perform functions or provide services on behalf of any other examining body or authority.…What has the noble Lady in mind? There are many examining bodies with various levels corresponding in age and, perhaps, in academic or non-academic achievement to, roughly, the secondary stage of education. Many of these examinations are conducted by professional or semi-professional bodies and there are many other examinations of considerable importance linked more with industry than with the professions.
The range is rather too wide for me to pick out an individual case, but the noble Lady will know of the many instances of which one naturally thinks. What does she envisage? Does she envisage that on the initiative of the new Board, and perhaps as the need is felt by other organisations to bring in the new Board, the Board will gradually become more 1462 and more, of not the one examining body, at least the main examining body over a much wider range than is now represented by school examinations?
Regulation 5(2) does not refer specifically to the Scottish Certificate of Education examinations and one presumes that that is deliberate and that the Board is to have a purview a great deal wider than those examinations. I hope that the Board will have that purview and that it will De in a position to exercise this kind of authority, with a great deal of freedom to discuss with the bodies and professions concerned and to make suitable arrangements to act in a much wider sense than a simple examining body such as the Department now is. I do not say anything against the Department and I agree with those who have praised its conduct of examinations as they are, but it is restricted to schools and to methods and arrangements suitable to that restriction. I hope that the new Board will have much wider scope and appropriate powers. I hope that the hon. Lady will enlighten us about that.
Do the words "any other examining body" include any body which may be set up in future, or must it be a body now conducting examinations? Might it be a body with strong professional or industrial interests which does not itself conduct examinations, but which would like to have its ideas put into effect in examinations? Could such a body negotiate with the new Board and arrange for the Board to undertake its examining for it?
My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East asked for the name of the chairman of the new Board. I do not go as far as that, although if the hon. Lady can tell us the name, so much the better. If not, will she at least tell us what the Government have in mind? Is he to be a professional teacher, a professional administrator, or a complete outsider—for instance, a public figure? The choice is very wide. In the absence of the name of the chairman, can we be told what the nature of the Board itself is likely to be?
Can we be given any information about regulation 6 (2,a) which says:Thirty-three members from among persons nominated …On what basis is the choice from among the nominations to be made? If the universities, for instance—I hope that they 1463 will not, and I imagine that they will not—happen to nominate people who are all administrators and officials rather than teachers, will the noble Lady tell them that they must nominate a list which includes teachers? If so, and if she got such a list, would she tend to take teachers rather than registrars, for instance, even though the registrars may be admirable persons?
In an earlier discussion the noble Lady said that the majority of the Board would be university and school teachers. The Regulations provide that eight members of the Board are to come from the universities, two from the central institutions and two from the colleges of education, presumably nominated by the authorities in each case. The governing bodies which are mentioned might well consist of teachers and I should expect the majority of these members to be teachers. Is this what the noble Lady has in mind? This would make a dozen teachers from higher education and there would be another dozen from the schools, making 24 teachers out of a total membership of 33. Is this the kind of proportion of practising teachers which the hon. Lady has in mind? Or does the hon. Lady envisage having a fairly substantial number of non-teachers—officials, administrators, and people of that kind—on the Board?
One sees that 12 members are to be drawn from teachers' associations recognised as representing the interests of teachers employed in educational establishments. Which associations would the hon. Lady include? Would she include the Association of Head Masters? I think that in Scotland the Association of Head Masters is separate from the Association of Head Mistresses. Would the hon. Lady expect nominations from both those Associations? What about the Association of University Teachers? If that Association thought that it ought to put forward a nomination in addition to the official university nomination, would that be possible? I hope that the hon. Lady will give us more information than one is able to glean merely from reading these Regulations.
1464 I am a little puzzled about the set-up in Regulation 9, just as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) was puzzled. I gather that there may be many subject panels, and that they may consist of a considerable number of people, but it appears that they will be at two removes from the Board. They are to be appointed not by the Board but by committees appointed by the Board. That may work out all right in practice, but I am sufficiently doubtful about the wisdom of this proposal to ask why this arrangement has been made.
One would have thought that the Board would have wanted to appoint these subject panels itself, and that leads one to ask what function the Board will perform? If these panels are to be responsible for setting papers and for examining the scripts, how close will the members of the Board be to the actual business of examining? What will the Board be doing compared with what the subject panels will be doing?
I think that we need some help on that, because one gets the impression that under the set-up proposed in Regulation 9 the Board will be a sort of general headpiece and will not be in touch with what is going on. I do not for a moment suppose that that is the intention, but that is the suspicion that one gets from reading Regulation 9, and I hope that the noble Lady will be able to give us some assurances on the matter.
Regulation 14 says that the Board may employ whole-time and part-time officers, and may pay them certain salaries. What procedure will be adopted for the appointment and payment of examiners? I have occasionally asked qualified and experienced teachers whether they have done any examining for the Scottish Education Department. The answer has often been, "No, because the fees are not good enough". Do the Government propose to pay fees which will attract the right kind of people to do this job? We must ensure not merely that we get a sufficient number of people to apply but that we get properly qualified people who can be appointed as examiners. We have the example of the Civil Service Commissioners who, over the years, have built 1465 up a staff with first-rate qualifications in their subjects. They are first-class examiners, and they know how to assess a candidate's ability. In selecting part-time examiners the Government must exercise the greatest care to make sure that they have the necessary qualifications. Have the Government in mind the standard set by the Civil Service Commissioners?
The Regulations lay down what appears to be an odd way of financing the Board. I leave this subject to be dealt with by those who have greater knowledge of the subject than I have, but I am not convinced that the Government have chosen the right way of dealing with the matter. I hope that the hon. Lady will be able to enlighten us on the points raised by my hon. Friends and on the matters which I have raised.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
It seems to me that if we are proposing to ask highly qualified people to take on the duties outlined in these Regulations, we should give them some idea of how much of their time they will be required to give up to perform those duties.
One of the functions of the Board is to appoint a finance committee, and Regulation No. 9 says that that finance committee may appoint such sub-committees as it thinks fit. Paragraph (4) of that Regulation says:The Board may delegate to any Committee appointed under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this regulation any of their functions, except that functions relating to finance may be delegated only to the Finance Committee.It appears that the Board will be able to delegate its functions to subcommittees, and there will not be monthly, or quarterly, or annual meeting at which the Board can ratify decisions taken by any of those subcommittees.
Regulation No. 7 provides that the Secretary of State may appoint an assessor. He will have no voting powers, but he will be able to speak at board meetings. It says that the assessorshall not be entitled to vote except"—and this seems rather peculiar to me—a meetings of any Committee"—1466 that could be the finance committee—or Sub-Committee or Subject Panel of which he has been appointed a member.It seems peculiar that the Board is being given power to delegate its functions to people who may not have the qualifications or the experience to deal with, for instance, examination papers. Surely it is reasonable to ensure that people who are asked to undertake that duty are qualified to do so.
The intention is to ask people with experience in industry, or who have qualifications which are acceptable to the Secretary of State, to become members of the Board. It seems only fair that they should be told how much of their time will be occupied in carrying out the functions of the Board. Unless that information is made known, qualified people may not be prepared to devote a considerable amount of their time to performing this very useful task. Once on the Board, the member decides when it is time to retire, except under the provisions of Regulation 8(2,c), which provides that his place may be declared vacant:where in the opinion of the Secretary of State he becomes incapacitated to hold office.…That provisions could well have been left out altogether.
There are many other things that I would have liked to refer to but I do not want to take up the time of the House. I must point out, however, that I am not in full accord with the generalities of these provisions at present.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I rise to ask a question on Regulation 5(2). My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) has referred to it, but I want to raise the point in connection with a specific case. We recently gave a Second Reading to the Industrial Training In fact, I believe that it has now gone to another place. Clause 2 of that Bill set up industrial training boards. The Clause provides that the boards shall considerthe standards to be attained as a result of the training and the methods of ascertaining whether those standards have been attained…1467 Subsection (1,d) provides that the boardsmay apply or make arrangements for the application of selection tests …In the Regulations which we are now considering, Regulation 5(2) says thatSubject to the approval of the Secretary of State, the Board may enter into arrangements to perform functions or provide services on behalf of any other examining body or authority …It seems to me that the Regulations there provide that this Board shall impose tests of people who have been undergoing industrial training. In those circumstances I should like to know whether the Board will be able to function within an industrial training board.
I concede that in the Board to be set up under these Regulations four members will be persons who have experience in industry, but there is nothing to provide that they are the people who may be elected to an industrial training board which is being set up under the Bill to which I have referred.
Two other institutions about which I at once thought were the Institution of of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Electrical Engineers. I do not know much about the electrical engineers, but among the examinations of the mechanical engineers there is one for the Higher National Certificate and also the City and Guilds. Will the Board to be set up under the Regulations be able to second its members to the Institution of Mechnical Engineers? Can its members serve on the representative bodies of various other institutions? Many such bodies give diplomas in accountancy, chiropody, physiotherapy, and so on. Will the Board that we are here setting up have powers to link up with those institutions? Will it have any say in setting the standards of examination and thereby provide that any diplomas awarded by these institutions shall qualify for recognition by universities, secretarial colleges and other organisations in the Scottish educational system? At present, the holder of a diploma from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers does not assume that that diploma is recognised by the Scottish universities, or the Scottish Department of Education—or the English Department of Education, for that matter.
1468 According to Clause 2 (1,d) of the Industrial Training Bill, an industrial training board may award certificates of attainment of certain standards, but one has no right to assume that those certificates will be of an educational standard. But if the Board that we are setting up under these Regulations functions within industrial training boards, one could assume that the resulting certificate was a certificate of the attainment of an educational standard, because under Regulation 5 the Board is empowered to conduct examinations for the Certificate of Education, and to award that certificate.
Regulation 6 (2,b) provides that among the membership of the Board there shall beFour members being persons of experience in industry or otherwise who have qualifications which in the opinion of the Secretary of State make them suitable for the appointment of the Board.Why is the experience related merely to experience in industry? Why should it not include experience in business, commerce, trade, politics, or any one of many other spheres of activity? With the ever increasing specialisation in industry, a man who spends his life in it can develop a very narrow outlook. It is wrong to assume that a person with very high qualifications in a narrow range of activities in industry is more capable of the proper approach to a wide range of subjects than is some other person. We used to say that a specialist was a person who knew more and more about less and less, until he eventually ended up by knowing everything about nothing.
An inorganic chemist working in an industrial plant may be a first-class man at his job. He may have gained his M.Sc. at one of our universities. Nevertheless, I would not be prepared to agree that he would necessarily be the right sort of person to sit on an examining board such as the one which we are setting up. It has been demonstrated on many occasions that a person who is qualified in a specific field does not always make the best teacher. Looking back to my school days I remember that one man, who had the Literae Humaniores from Oxford, was one of our worst teachers. I am not certain that this idea of havingpersons of experience in industry1469 is the right sort of approach to the formation of a board.
Not enough force is given in this country to the framework of examinations and the general standard of education of our children. Except in Scotland we have never paid sufficient attention to the needs of higher education. In many quarters there is still at attitude of mind which prohibits the provision of the great benefits to the community which would accrue from the creation of a higher status for education. If these Regulations, coupled with other Measures, will improve standards of education, I support them. As a result of the publicity given to the need for scientific education by the Leader of the Opposition—publicity which has inspired even this Government to move more rapidly during the last few months than at any time in the last few years—I hope that the general standard of education for the people of Scotland will be improved.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)
Hon. Members have described this as a momentous step in Scottish education, and I have no doubt that it is. I am, therefore, disappointed at the smallness of the attendance on the benches on this side of the House and I am positively shocked at the absence of hon. Members from the benches opposite. They prefer to opt out of Scottish education, and that may be one of the reasons for the disparity in the representation of Scottish constituencies.
In the modern world we are getting farther and farther away from the point at which people may make their voices heard. To have on the Board only six representatives from the large educational authorities in Scotland is to reduce the effective voice of the community through its elected representatives. There are to be 12 teachers on the board. Mainly because of the tremendous pressure of work which they experience I have found that teachers have little time to think about education other than from the point of view of their specific subjects. Many teachers complain that they are too hard worked to be able to contemplate a wider horizon, and anyone with a little experience of local authority work will appreciate the importance of 1470 an intelligent lay member on an education committee who can set the pace for the professionals.
I was pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) expressed the hope that this Board would help inspectors to pay more attention to the theoretical aspect of education. We are reaching a specialised stage and many children are not fulfilling their own ambitions so much as the ambitions of their parents. The creation of this new Board may enable the inspectorate to consider introducing some sort of functional guidance in the school curriculum so that when children have to make important decisions, they will receive more help than may be provided by the predilections of their parents, influenced as these may be by the calling or profession of the parents.
A number of hon. Members have referred to Regulation No. 5(2) and I find difficulty in ascribing a meaning to it. There is a tendency towards vagueness, and in so many ways the Secretary of State well be given carte blanche in the selection of members of the board. A point has been reached where a central examination board is necessary, and I welcome that. But I am disappointed because there is not a great deal more elected representation.
A person will be excluded from membership of the Board for failing to attend any meetings in 12 months. This may result in members who will be, as it were, "sleeping members". They may attend meetings whenever they feel inclined, and attend a sufficient number to enable them to stay as members of the Board. More attention should have been given to the selection of members, to the length of membership and to the choice of a chairman. I hope that the noble Lad) the Under-Secretary of State will note the comments which have been made and that the Regulations will prove of benefit to Scottish education.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Doig (Dundee, West)
In Committee on the Bill the noble Lady the Under-Secretary said that we were doing some thing unprecedented and taking power away from the Scottish Education Department and giving it to someone else to conduct examinations. I have always felt that the Secretary of 1471 State and the Scottish Office had too much power already, and, therefore, my instinct was to support that proposal. However, when I see the way in which the power is to be given away, to whom it is to be given and how remotely the public will have contact with those who ultimately will have this power, I wonder if it is such a good thing to do.
The Secretary of State is directly or indirectly representing the public and is subject to their queries and questions, but it will be much more difficult for the public to do that in relation to the Board. When I examine the composition of the Board I feel that there is not nearly enough representation of local authorities. I should like to see more people on the Board who are accountable to the public. It does not seem enough to have six out of 33, especially when we consider that those six are to represent all the local authorities in Scotland. It is a very small proportion.
By the way in which the Regulation is worded, even those six may not all be publicly elected members. When county councils send representatives they will often send an official and he is not elected by the public. Often in the counties of cities we shall find the same situation. In the end there may not be even six, but perhaps only two, representing all the local authorities in Scotland. There should be a much greater allowance for representatives of local authorities. I do not think that six out of 33 is anything like enough.
On the question of the four members with experience in industry, I should like it to be specifically stated that there should be two representing the employers and two representing employees. Otherwise there may be four representing employers. Employees should have some say on the Board. The financial provisions for the Board are very confusing. There is no indication about who is to pay its expenses. I hope that the Government will have to pay and that this is not another way of pushing more Government expenditure on to the ratepayers.
I am puzzled by Regulation 5(2), which seems to suggest that with the approval of the Secretary of State the Board can perform functions for other bodies. I 1472 wonder which other authorities these are. I should like to know if this can be done and, if so, what other bodies the noble Lady visualises will want to employ the Board. The question of for how long the Board is to be appointed is equally obscure. Regulation 8 says:The Chairman and each of the other members of the Board shall hold office in accordance with the terms of his appointment".I cannot find what the terms of appointment are unless it is that they are appointed for life and "perpetual succession". I do not know whether Regulation 4 means that the Board will have perpetual succession or that its members will have perpetual succession. That seems to be a wrong interpretation because Regulation 8(3) says:A member of the Board shall be eligible for re-appointment on the expiry of his period of office".Another strong thing is that there is no mention of how often or when the Board is to meet. The Regulations provide that if a member does not attend a meeting for a year he can no longer be a member of the Board, but there might be only one meeting of the Board in the year. A much more reasonable course would be to say that if a member misses three successive meetings he should no longer be a member of the Board. The Board is to have power to appoint committees and sub-committees. This seems to be delegating power away from the public. There should be some better provision made for that.
As a former member of an education committee of a local authority, I frequently had queries from people who simply did not know to whom they should go for information. If we are to have this sort of set-up there may be no one within a hundred miles who is a representative of the local authority and who knows anything about what is going on. How will the public know who has been appointed to the Board? It will be very difficult to get information. People will have to pester the office of the Secretary of State. It would be wrong for that to happen when other people would be willing to give the information.
There should be a method by which a report of what is going on could be published so that people could know who had been appointed and whom they 1473 could approach in their own area to discover what was going on, someone to whom they could put legitimate questions without too much inconvenience. Much more ought to be done before we agree that this is a satisfactory Statutory Instrument.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
As the noble Lady the Under-Secretary of State will recall, the subject of setting up this Examination Board was one about which we were most concerned in Committee on the Bill. I do not think any of us would apologise for spending so much time in Committee on this matter. It was appreciated that the nature of the Board would play a powerful part in shaping education in Scotland in future. We had many ideas as to the form the Board might take and ideas as to the activities in which it might engage.
We are told by Regulation 6:The Board shall consist of a Chairman and thirty-seven other members appointed by the Secretary of State".He also will appoint the other members. He has to appoint those members from among persons nominated by various bodies.
The noble Lady spoke in Committee about eight representatives of the four universities in Scotland. If each university put forward two names, the eight university representatives would actually be appointed by those universities themselves, although nominally appointed by the Secretary of State. That operation could apply right down the line; the different organisations or bodies could put forward the specific number of persons allowed, with the result that it would be those bodies themselves that would be making the appointments. The Secretary of State should have a wide choice of names in each case and, using his judgment and that of his advisers, make the sort of appointments that might not, perhaps, be quite so representative of, say, the universities as some of the universities might have wanted, but more advantageous from a wider point of view.
Even if the Secretary of State thought that certain university people should be on the Board, he should be able to find some way of getting them on as part of the university group, and the 1474 same thing should apply to most of the organisations. I am very well aware of this danger of putting forward only the actual number of people, and thereby not affording any real choice. It is very important that appointments should be made from a wide range of people.
The Board as described here will undoubtedly be very heavily weighted towards the academic side, and the noble Lady will recall the lengthy arguments we had about this in Committee. I think that what we now have is even more academically weighted than was originally described in the Committee, when it as argued that about four-fifths of those on the Board should represent the academic profession and the associations as representing the interests of education authorities. It was pointed out in the Committee, as it has again been pointed out just now by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig), that the association representative could be an official and not an elected person.
The noble lady listed in Committee about 32 possible members of the Board, with the addition of two officials from the Scottish Department. I do not see those two officials in the present list. We have a Board made up of 38 members, including the chairman, but only four of them are to be from among these with experience in industry, and forth. Those four were originally mentioned in connection with a board of 32, but as we now have a Board of 38 that body is more weighted towards persons of academic experience than was first described. I should have thought that enough views were expressed in Committee—and those views were sympathetically received by the noble Lady—to indicate the feeling that rather than there being less representation of non-academic people, there should be more.
I have nothing against the person whose life is in the academic world, but I believe, is I know that many of my hon. Friends also believe, that there is very much more to education than the training one gets in university, or even in school. Advances in educational thought dc not necessarily come from those engaged in day-to-day educational work, and it is, perhaps, a good thing 1475 that the educational world sometimes benefits from those drawn from outside, or those who come late to the profession.
It is more than ever important that we pay due attention to the person of non-academic experience—using that term in the widest sense—because of ideas now manifesting themselves so widely that education must embrace much more of life than has been the case in the past. We are thinking—and my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) made this point—in terms of institutions such as the City and Guilds. I think of a great extension of that kind of activity.
We still have three-quarters—or at least 70 per cent—of our youngsters leaving school at the first opportunity, and we have to think of the type of education that is likely to be of most benefit to them. Are we to get advice on this kind of thing, are we to get the shaping of our educational system, from men and women who are predominantly from the universities? As I say, I have nothing against those people, but they have developed certain ideas and views. Are we to get from them that advice on education, or on educational standards or on new forms of education that will benefit those 70 per cent. of youngsters who have no thought of going on to university?
By their very make-up, some people assimilate ideas much more readily through their hands and fingers than through their eyes and ears. Many youngsters assimilate much more, and very extensively, if asked to make something or do something than if they are asked to read something or listen to something. I should like to see that type of bias, if one may so term it, very much more developed but, looking at the composition of this Board, I cannot see the person having that type of experience or bias represented on it—or, if such people are represented at all, they are represented in a very minor way.
To what extent is it thought that this Board will extend its activities over the whole range of the educational system—not confining itself to those 40,000 1476 youngsters who sit examinations and forgetting the 260,000 others who do not? The choice of the right people will ensure the exercise of the necessary powers. We must not choose those who have no very great desire to see other forms of education develop and who, in fact, rather condemn all other forms of education.
It has been said that only about 10 per cent. of our youngsters are capable of benefiting from higher education. This view has been expressed in high university circles. If those who hold this kind of view are to play a large part in the composition of the Board, then that body will not do a great deal to benefit the 70 per cent. of our young people about whom we are so concerned. The Newsom Report deals with more than half of the young people there, in England and Wales, but we have had no such report in Scotland. We have not had this matter examined, but I would say that the position in Scotland is no better in this respect than that in England and Wales as described in the Newsom Report.
I look forward to a great deal coming from this Board, but only if it is composed of the kind of people who have at heart the interests of the young people about whom we should be primarily concerned. It is sufficient almost to provide the facilities for the 10 per cent or even 20 per cent. who will make an effort to obtain higher education. Once the facilities are provided they will use them, but for the others we must do more than provide facilities. We must arouse their interest. The balance of their life, the type of people with whom they associate, the livelihoods which they will follow, are all against their reaching out for better education.
This is one of the reasons why we have argued so strongly in the past for the appointment on the Board of four members with experience in industry. I do not believe there should be two trade unionists and two employers. My concern when we argued this point was to draw in more people from beyond the educational circles and the professions. Professional people who are experts in their own field do not always see beyond it. Sometimes they tend to be contemptuous of people 1477 who do not know as much of the detail as they know. They are often contemptuous of the ideas which other people put forward. Education goes far beyond the teaching of the alphabet and the working out of arithmetic marks. We should be concerned about these other things.
As for the universities as such, it is interesting to note that they are to be so heavily represented. There are to be, for example, eight members from the Universities of Scotland. This figure, I take it, is based on the four universities. Then there are the governing bodies of the central institutions, which I take it would cover such institutions as Heriot Watt and Stow College and the new University of Strathclyde. There are also the governing bodies of the colleges of education.
At present there is a great likelihood of these institutions becoming part and parcel of the university set-up and what is called higher education. This would mean that there would be 13 members from the universities and places of higher education. These institutions would be independent, autonomous bodies about whose internal activities the public would have no chance of obtaining information. We cannot even obtain information about how they spend their money or how they choose those who are to be accepted into the institutions.
It is made a special point of the excellence of our university system that the universities are above and beyond public control. The Robbins Report makes much of this point. I am not questioning that at the moment, but I draw attention to the fact that we have such a set-up and have organs of higher education which are not publicly accountable, although publicly financed, and yet these are the very bodies which determine education in the ordinary schools.
We have the example, for instance, of their saying that a certain subject no longer counts for university entrance. This decision reaches down to the schools where the subject is then treated as of no account. What happens in higher education affects the whole of education, and not merely secondary education and not merely the education given to the youngster who aspires to 1478 the university. It also affects the education given to the one who does not so aspire. It is often the case that what he gets is a poor imitation of what the youngster who aspires to a university gets. All his reaches right down to the primary schools as well, because they are shaped more and more to meet the needs of the secondary schools.
We therefore have a position where a substantial proportion of the membership of the Board is made up of people drawn from institutions which are autonomous and independent, with curricula which are beyond our questioning, and yet they will decide what is to happen in the State education system. I am not at the moment questioning the independence of the universities. That is a big subject which we may have an opportunity to discuss some time, but I ask the noble Lady the Under-Secretary to look at the point again. Was it her intention that the universities should be so heavily represented on the Board?
I return to a point made earlier. I should like to see the Board made up of people of standing in Scotland, people of known activity and experience. The choice is not too wide but there are people whom we know to have earned reputations for themselves in given fields. I should like to see many more people of that kind becoming members of the Board. If this happens we might be able to overcome some of the problems I have in mind.
We have accepted the setting up of the Board. I wish it well, but I cannot but express doubts in looking at its composition that it will be far too heavily weighted along the lines of looking after the lad who is useful with a pen and who can pick up ideas and facts fairly quickly and hold them in his mind. I want to see the lad who is useful with a trowel or some other and perhaps finer instrument have a better chance than he has had in the past.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I might carry a little further the interesting line of thought which my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) was taking. He was speaking of those whose brains are in their heads and of those whose brains are in their hands, but he forgot to mention those 1479 whose brains are in their feet. I am not thinking of Rangers or of Celtic. Those aforementioned are three important sections of the Community, and I shall return to that line of thought a little later.
The Regulations are the outcome of the Bill which we debated some time ago. I draw attention, first, to the fact that the responsibilities of the Board are carefully defined. I assume that those who wrote these Regulations knew exactly the meaning of the words which they were using and used them with full knowledge not merely of the meaning which has been attached to them hitherto but of the meaning which is growing into some of them even as we are discussing them now.
We are told that the Board will deal withmatters relating to examinations for pupils receiving secondary education".Anyone who uses the expression "secondary education" today cannot limit the word "secondary" just to the meaning which has for so long been attached to it, implying only scholastic achievement. For a good number of years, I was responsible for a school which required six schools to contain all the students enrolled, 1,300 of them, and a staff of 80 persons. The ages of the students ranged from 15 to 20, and this is leaving out those who were very much older. Those boys and girls—they were mostly boys—were in some cases continuing on to the Royal Technical College to take the Higher National Certificate or to take the B.Sc. They must be included now in the concept of secondary education. We must consider not only those who will enter university; some of my students actually went on to the institution which has now become a university.
In my view, the meaning of the word "secondary" is changing before our eyes and we must include within its reference today all to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell was referring, with the addition of those I mentioned. This is the practice in other parts of the world. In the University of Shanghai, which I have visited, sport can be a degree subject. I have in mind football and all those kindred sports which attract great numbers of people 1480 who are competent, more competent perhaps, with their hands and with their feet than they are for the type of education which we normally call secondary and who, in the scale of values now widely accepted, are rewarded at an infinitely higher level than many who attain university degrees.
This thought leads me to ask what exactly a university degree means. To me, it means only that the person who has achieved its merit has shown that he knows how to learn. He has not necessarily shown more. But there are universities, one of them the university of experience, in which people also acquire the ability to learn. We must keep this in mind when we think of using the word "secondary" and realise that in the world today there are universities which are putting these principles into practice.
There is no reason why this meaning of the word should not be imported into our consideration of awards other than university ones, and I am certain, or at least I hope, that the word "secondary" was put in the Regulations in full knowledge that its meaning is changing.
The Board is to conduct examinations and it may also provide services in that connection for any examining board or authority. It has a very wide function.
In Regulation No. 6, the Secretary of State defines the membership of the Board, which totals 37. This figure will have to be altered. We see in column 1 the expression "The universities of Scotland". The universities of Scotland now include the University of Strathclyde, which means five universities with eight members. Who will have the two and who will have the one? In due course, more quickly, perhaps, than many people think, we shall have another university. Will the expression "the universities of Scotland" then imply two representatives from each of six universities, making a total of 12 on the Board? Robbins goes so far as to say that we should have two new universities. He does not rule it out. If we are to add three new universities to the four referred to, and if two individuals are to come from each, there will have to be 14 members of the Board from the universities of Scotland, unless the representation is reduced to one from each.
1481 Was this in the mind of the Secretary of State when these Regulations were framed? I wonder whether this is a deliberate act on his part to cut out the new university which Scotland has just achieved. If so, there will be trouble.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lady Tweedsmuir)
§ Mr. Rankin
The noble Lady shakes her head, but, if she is not cutting out Strathclyde, it means that the representation will not be the same for each university.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Does my hon. Friend recall that, when the Bill was in Committee, the noble Lady gave us the advantage of her thinking on this matter? She said then that there would be eight from the universities, and she said also that, of course, the Royal Technical College was a central institution, not a university. Obviously, she had not made any allowance within her eight for what is now the new university.
§ Mr. Rankin
My hon. Friend's interruption anticipated the next point that I was going to raise, that there are two nominees from central institutions. I am wondering if the Royal College was counted amongst the central institutions when these Regulations were being prepared, and again, if that is the case the noble Lady will find herself in trouble.
Generally, I would not quarrel with the composition of the Board. All the years when I was engaged in further education work, I regretted the fact that industry in the City of Glasgow, as represented particularly by its employers, did not show the care for further education which they ought to have done, because it was from that source that most of them were getting not only the journeymen and the craftsmen on Clyde-side but also those who staffed industry at higher levels.
Now we are bringing inFour members being persons of experience in industry".I think that that is in keeping with what I have already said, that there are many ways of learning, not only at university level but at other levels, and that in a body of this nature we have to recognise those different sources of learning and give them equality of treatment. If we have 1482 eight from the academic side, then we ought to have eight from the industrial side. I am not quarrelling with eight from the universities, but I feel that the other side ought to be recognised in parity with the universities.
But, generally, I think that all the interests that I should like to see brought in are represented here—the central institutions, the colleges of education, the directors of education, and the teachers. These are the people whom we want to bind more closely together in forming this corporate body, which will not only conduct the examinations, but prepare the papers, and generally bring into closer contact the school and the university. At the same time I should like to see industry bound just as closely as the university will be.
In Regulation 6(2,b) there is rather an unusual use of words:Four members being persons of experience in industry or otherwise who have qualifications which in the opinion of the Secretary of State make them suitable for appointment to the Board.I do not Know about the word "otherwise". It seems to me redundant. It would have been equally clear if it had just said "or who have qualifications which in the opinion of the Secretary of State are considered suitable for appointment to the Board". When he uses that expression, he is giving himself a power which, I hope, he will employ wisely and not use to reduce industrial representation.
Regulation No. 8 which caught my attention—it has been mentioned already—deals with the terms of the appointment of the chairman and each member of the Board. Regulation No. 8(3) tells us thatA member of the Board shall be eligible for re-appointment on the expiry of his period of office".But his period of office is not defined, and as the Regulations make direct reference to this period of office, I feel that it should be stated in Regulation No. 8(1) that the terms of his appointment are for some period that has to close at some point in time.
Another Regulation that caught my attention was that dealing with committees. It stems that we are to create a plentitude of committees, sub-committees and subject panels. It is not for me 1483 at this stage to dispute their necessity. They may all be necessary and, if so, one can make no valid objection to the proposal to create them. What I do not like about the proposal is that the sub-committees and the subject panels under Regulation No. 9(2) may consist wholly of persons who are not members of the Board. It we are to have a Board which will have sub-committees and subject panels, and the sub-committees, in some cases, and the subject panels have no connection whatever with the Board that appoints them, I feel that we may possibly be heading for a situation that might become somewhat chaotic.
There is no guarantee as to attendance or anything like that. I noted that the individuals are appointed for an indefinite period. But they can be deprived of office for a number of reasons, one of which is failure to attend a meeting for twelve months. It seems to me that that is absurd. A person who has been appointed to a responsible post of this type, even if it is a sub-committee, when he is not a member of the Board or a subject panel is supposed to be doing an important job. Yet he can be absent from it for 12 months before it is concluded that he no longer wishes to participate in the work of the Board. The disqualification period could, without any injustice or harm being done to the member of the Board, be reduced from 12 to 6 months. Perhaps it would do a great deal of good to the Board. If it is an important body, those appointed to it should ensure that they attend to the work they have undertaken.
I wish the Board and its sub-committees well, because they will have a very big job to do. If it brings the schools, whether they are schools carrying on secondary education or schools carrying on further education, into closer contact with the academic and industrial side of life—because the children in them must enter one or the other—or the recreational side of life, it will have done a good job. Like myself, I am sure that all my hon. Friends hope that it does that job well and thoroughly.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I well remember that when we were discussing the Bill before it became an 1484 Act I tried to persuade the hon. Lady the Under-Secretary of State that the Regulations covered by Clause 1 were so important a matter that they should be dealt with by the affirmative Resolution procedure, which would have meant that the Government whether they liked it or not, would have had to bring them before the House and receive the consent of Parliament. My object was to ensure that we had ample time to discuss the Regulations. I do not think the noble Lady thought when she resisted that suggestion that when the Regulations eventually came before us we would have far more time for discussion than the Government would probably have been prepared to allow.
I confess to being more than a little disappointed. We spent a tremendous amount of time in Committee in discussing what we thought and hoped would be in these Regulations. We returned to the subject on Report and Third Reading. However, I never dreamt that when we eventually got the Regulations we should have so little information. Some of these things are just a repetition of what was stated would be in the Regulations, and the Government have not gone very far in letting us know exactly how matters are proceeding. We certainly cannot judge from the Regulations how things will be conducted. Therefore, my first general comment about the Regulations is that they still leave us guessing.
When we discussed the matter in principle, we thought that the Regulations would tell us everything. We unburdened ourselves for three mornings in Committee. Some of my hon. Friends referred to the fact that the new theme song which we should sing in Scotland was, "Where have all the Tories gone?". During these three mornings—two and half hours of slopping work each morning—the Scottish Unionists, four of them, managed to fill four columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT. That was their contribution, and quite a bit of it was achieved by way of interjection. They are not interested in Scottish education.
There is no doubt that this is the most important thing which has happened in Scottish education for a long time. As one of my hon. Friends rightly said, it is a historic landmark. Even 1485 the establishing of the Board was to be done by Regulation. However, we managed to get the Government to do something definite and they established it. But we are providing in the Regulations for an independent examinations body covering all the examinations to which our children in secondary schools will be submitted. This is a hurdle which they will have to surmount in order eventually to achieve entrance to a university. However, it affords an opportunity of breaking away from the strict straitjacket which the power of the universities has placed on Scottish secondary education, because the curriculum of the senior secondary schools has been determined by the demands made by the universities. In addition, whether he liked it or not, what everybody else in the senior secondary school got, even though he was not going to university, was equally well determined.
Therefore, although we have had a wonderful system of examination in Scotland for people destined for university, it does not mean that we have had a wonderful system of education, because it has prevented the broadening of the curriculum. It has affected senior secondary education, but it has affected junior secondary education as well, because many people tended to deny that the experimental possibilities of the junior secondary school were creating a pale shadow of the senior secondary school.
This is the measure of the importance of the work which this new incorporated Examination Board will do. I had hoped that we should be enlightened about the purposes of which we spoke at that time and to which my hon. Friends referred again tonight, but, reading the Regulations, I get as little enlightenment as I got then.
The Scottish Office has not been very fortunate with its Regulations this season, shall I say. The last Scottish Regulations which we had were the building Regulations when the tawse was taken to the Government. They were lucky to have the Regulations passed through this House because they had broken all the rules. I see that this Statutory Instrument is a corrected reprint. I am surprised that the Government have not been told to go and correct it again, because one of the obligations laid on any Secretary of State or Minister of 1486 State concerning Statutory Instruments under the negative Resolution procedure is that he should indicate that he has sought representations and consulted the people entitled to be consulted in drawing up the Regulations.
I do not see any indication on reading this Statutory Instrument that the Ministers have consulted anybody. It just starts straight away:In exercise of the powers … I hereby make the following regulations".This is Michael himself.
§ Mr. Ross
Do not ask me. Like my hon. Friends, I should like to know who was consulted. It would have been worth while—in fact, essential—from the viewpoint of some of the responsibilities, duties and functions placed upon the Board that at least someone should have been consulted.
We will pass over the incorporation and the rights and privileges, and even the common seal, and come to Regulation 5(2), which states:Subject lo the approval of the Secretary of State, the Board may enter into arrangements to perform functions or provide services on behalf of any other examining body or authority.Where does the Board get its authority for that? Is it from Section 1 of the Act, subsection (1,b) or (1,c):such other purposes relating to examinations as may be specified in regulations under this section"?I assure the Under-Secretary that we were not told anything about this during the passing of the Bill. Is this something that the Government have suddenly thought up? I do not entirely object to it. If this body is to be the expert examinations body for secondary schools, there is no reason why, with the development of education, prenursing courses and the rest, it should not be asked to conduct examinations or give advice in their conduct to bodies outside the education authorities. I do not know whether that is the idea, but since this was so important a matter as to be given a whole provision to itself, I am surprised that the hon. Lady did not raise it when we discussed the matter nearly a year ago. I shall be grateful to know what is in the hon. 1487 Lady's mind, because I expect Regulations to be specific and not to throw new vaguenesses and questions at us.
Regulation 6 is entitled "Membership". My hon. Friends were quite right to ask about this. The universities of Scotland are to have eight members on the Board. That was the figure that the hon. Lady told us when we had one university fewer than we have now. Was this number drawn up before somebody in the Scottish Office realised that there was a University of Strathclyde? Probably, with the increased number of universities, we might have increased representation, or is there to be a bit of dodging between those who represent the governing bodies of central institutions, into which category at one time that body came?
The last in the categories areTeachers' associations recognised as representing the interests of teachers …This is a tough one for the hon. Lady. Whom did she consult?
§ Mr. Ross
Did the hon. Lady consult the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association? Did she consult the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association or the E.I.S.? Did she consult one, two or all of them, and what other bodies, concerning the appointment of the 12 members to the Board? We are left with many questions.
Four members are to be appointed directly by the Secretary of State.being persons of experience in industry or otherwise".We tried nobly to have those words taken out during the passage of the Bill, but the hon. Lady resisted. There is scope here for considerably widening the Board. There is no doubt that it must be mainly academic, because it deals with a technical and important subject, but a considerable levelling up is needed to the maximum of other people.
What was the stipulation laid down under which the noble Lady had to make her Regulations? Not less than four-fifths were to be from the categories of universities, associations, governing bodies and the rest. I do not think that four members will be quite enough for what I consider should be their duties, 1488 because as we go on to read the provisions concerning committees—consisting not only of members of the Board, but others, sub-committees, panels and the rest—we realise that the Board, which will deal with general policy, will meet only four times a year at most. I hope that it will be critical of whether examinations in certain areas of education are worth while.
On the Board, we want people who are critical and not simply people who are thrilled with the idea that examinations are wonderful. There are many who believe that the examinations are only a painful necessity because we are short of places and that we do not necessarily get the right people or that it is desirable to select people by examination for universities, or, indeed, for many other jobs. This method is a fairly blunt instrument, and I say this as a teacher. It is a hopeless instrument for the selection of the right people for either university places or places in secondary schools at the 11-plus or the 12-plus division, as it is in Scotland. I hope, therefore, that we will have people who are critical.
There are to be only four members in the category of paragraph (b). I hoped that we would get more. We juggled with the fractions before, but we do not want these people all in the same definite character ofexperience in industry or otherwise".That is a silly phrase and it was silly in the Bill.
I should like to ask also about the chairman of the Board. Surely, this is one thing that the Government will have decided. The Regulations are not simply the fruits of a Bill that WAR passed about a year ago. In 1961 the Government were considering the Board and who would serve upon it. They have, therefore, had over two years to think about this. Surely, by this time, they can tell us who the chairman will be. We will probably not sleep any easier for the knowledge, but at least that much should come out.
What is the term of the appointment? The chairman and each of the other members of the Boardshall hold office in accordance with the terms of his appointment".As two of my hon. Friends have said, this is a strange piece of information to 1489 be given under a paragraph entitled "Term of office". Is the chairman to decide this for himself? Will the Board decide it or will the Secretary of State decide? If the Secretary of State decides it, why does he not take the House into his confidence'? The purpose of the Regulations was that he should not have to hurry to make up his mind earlier. He has had a year to think of it. He has plenty of experience of appointing all sorts of other bodies. Surely, we can be told for how long the chairman and other members will be appointed.
My hon. Friends have asked questions about committees, but I will not go into that. The people who do the actual work will be the sub-committees and the subject panels. I agree with one of my hon. Friends who referred to the fact that many teachers had not gone in for the task of setting or correcting examination papers because there was low payment. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why teachers' salaries are kept down, so that teachers will be attracted to correct examination papers on the side.
It will be necessary to co-opt people who will deal with the actual subjects, the questions, and lay out the papers, and those who will conduct them. I know it is difficult, but I would think that there must be people with reliable understanding of uniformity of standards throughout the country—because this will be a nation-wide examination. And if it is, of course it is going to deny elementary justice to many children. So it is a matter which requires very considerable knowledge, care and experience, and I hope that the Board will be advised in the first instance, as I am sure it will, by the Education Department, which has been doing a good job over many years.
Another point is that mistakes can be made. Circumstances can arise in which a child does not do its best on examination day. There are about 50,000 children over the age of 15 in our schools who will be affected—whose whole future may be affected—by this Board. That is the importance of it. That is why I am appalled by this Tory absence here tonight. We have not only to pick the right people for setting the examinations and correcting the 1490 papers, but, I would have thought, we should have seen in the Regulations some procedure for appeals. I think that in 1962 there were about 41,800 pupils who presented themselves for examination covering about 250,000 subjects. There were 2,500 appeals. I think that the number of appeals upheld was just over 800—that is, one in three—so it is important that what has happened in the S.E.D. in relation to the conduct of the examinations be continued here.
It is so important that I thought it would have been worthy of inclusion in the Regulations. But it is not there. The Regulations are just about as vague as the Bill was. This offers no comfort to my hon. Friends who are interested in the link-up of secondary and further education and who want to see a broadening of the curriculum. That, of course, is dependent on the conduct of the Board. I do not know whether we shall get any satisfaction from the hon. Lady or not. I have my doubts about it.
I come to the financial arrangements. I expected that my hon. Friend the Members for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) would raise this. I want to break the said news to him—the Government are paying nothing. At present it costs the Education Department £160,000 a year to conduct the examinations. The job has got too big for it. It has so many other jobs to do; it wants to concentrate on what it thinks is its job of organising a specialised corporate body dealing with examinations. So the local authorities will pay for it after the first year, £200,000 a year. But do not worry, the Government are going to get advice from this body; so the Government are going to pay for the advice at £5,000 a year. So the ratepayers will pay more, the Government will pay less, after the first year.
Like my hon. Friends I would like to know more about this six months' overdraft and borrowing money. That is Regulation 11(3). Remember, as soon as that happens the Secretary of State will ring up all the local authorities saying, "Now's the day, and now's the hour.' Send more money to the Examination Board." Because this was the only "shall" in the whole Bill. Everything else was left to Regulations, but when it came to payment the Bill 1491 said the local authorities "shall" pay—by such a time and such sums as the Secretary of State may determine, I think after consultation, or something like that. It means that whenever they get into an overdraft position the responsibility will be on the Secretary of State to tell the local authorities to pay the Board some more money.
§ Mr. Ross
All these matters are important. That is why I certainly am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) took the opportunity to give us a chance here to impress upon the Government that we feel strongly about this. Probably the most important thing in the Regulations is something which we persuaded the Government, against their will, to accept, and that is that there shall be an annual report to this House. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) about this, and, to my mind, that annual report to the House may well determine how we in the House shall be able to watch progress, to ask Questions and try to persuade the Secretary of State to do something about the work of the Board.
I want to impress this upon the hon. Lady. I know that she was not at a Scottish school. Like the rest of the Scottish Tories, she has been in a Scottish school only by invitation.
§ Mr. Ross
If it rains. And there will be fewer of them here after the next election.
But this is a matter of vital importance for Scottish children, Scottish parents, the Scottish nation. We have had a tendency in the past to allow our higher education to be cabined by the wishes of the universities. I hope that from the contracts we may now get between teachers and representatives of the universities and the training colleges and the Scottish Education Department, with its assessors, and the rest, we shall get a proper appreciation of the real needs 1492 of higher education at the present time, and that examinations will be a help rather than a hindrance, and will, indeed, be an indication of the range of talents we have in Scotland rather than the selection of talents within Scotland. If we get away from the idea that the whole purpose of examinations is selection for a limited number of places, then the setting up of this Board, despite the inadequacy of the information we have here about it, may well be, as my hon. Friends have said, an historic event in the story of Scottish education.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lady Tweedsmuir)
I should like first to congratulate hon. Members opposite who had the skill to put down a Prayer on a day when they perceived business would stop rather early. We have, therefore, been able to have a really very interesting debate.
I should like to say at the start to the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), who questioned the manner in which these Regulations were made during the Christmas Recess, that I am sure they appreciate how very important it was to try to get this Board established as soon as we possibly could; and of course the educational associations had to be consulted; and it was important to nominate its members, and this could not be done until the Regulations were made. Although they were laid on 3rd January and came into operation on 10th January, they nevertheless—and this is the reason for the debate—still had to have their 40 sitting days. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) specifically asked who was consulted about this. The detailed proposals for the Regulations were sent in May, 1963 to the education bodies which were to be represented on this Board, namely the universities, the Scottish Universities Entrance Board, the Association of County Councils, the Scottish Counties of Cities Association, the Association of Directors of Education, the governing bodies of central institutions, the governing bodies of colleges of education, the E.I.S., the S.S.T.A., the Headmasters Association and the Scottish branch of the Headmistresses' Association.
1493 In the light of their comments, draft regulations were issued in September and the Regulations were, therefore, made in final form in December. They differ from the draft Regulations only in that the draft provided for nine members from the universities and the S.U.E.B. jointly, and, at the request of the universities and the S.U.E.B., the Regulations provide for eight members from the universities, including Strathclyde, and one from the S.U.E.B.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I understand they have a very large membership within the E.I.S. [Interruption.] No interruptions, please, because I am now getting to the point which was the source of questions asked by hon. Members.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock asked about Regulation 5. I will not deal with sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) because the functions are perfectly clear to everybody. Questions were asked about Regulation 5(2). I can remember clearly dealing with this point in Committee. The function of the Board must be to get down to undertaking its own examinations. It will take a lot of time and work to get these under way. After that, once the work is sensibly established, there will be spare examination capacity at certain periods of the year and, therefore, it might well be possible for the Board to undertake examinations for professional bodies or for outside bodies conducting examinations in Scotland, or—and I remember mentioning this matter specifically in Committee—it might advise on or devise examinations for developing countries. That is why this provision is included, although naturally it is not expected that the Board will undertake this sort of task at the beginning.
The Regulation which interests every hon. Member more than any other is Regulation 6 concerning constitution and membership. The hon. Members for Dundee, East, for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson) and for Kilmarnock asked whether it was possible tonight to name the Chairman. That I shall do. First of all, I should say that the chairman and four members will be appointed directly by the Secretary of State. There will also be 1494 appointed by the Secretary of State the 33 members from among those nominated by the bodies listed here. The chairman is Sir David Anderson, the former principal of the Royal College of Science and Technology and a member of the Robbins Committee. Here I should like to express our great gratitude to him for feeling able to undertake this task. I believe—and I hope the House will agree—that he will be a very distinguished chairman of this Board.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I said that he is a former Principal. He is retired. But the fact that he is a former principal and is retired does not mean that he is without great experience and a person who I am certain will have a great contribution to make to this Board.
Four other direct Secretary of State appointees will be selected from interests including both sides of industry which are not otherwise represented on the Board. They might also include representatives of commerce or professional bodies not already represented on the Board, but a final decision on these four Secretary of State members cannot be taken until the other members of the Board have been finally selected.
Early in January, therefore, the bodies listed in Regulation 6 were asked to submit names from among whom the Secretary of State would select members of the Board. [Interruption.] I thought that hon. Members were very interested in the question of membership and how it was to be construed. I would not like them to miss anything, so I will repeat what I have just begun.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I cannot remember everything I said in Committee and a great deal has happened since. I repeat that early in January all the bodies listed in Regulation 6 were asked to submit 1495 names from among whom the Secretary of State would select members of the Board. Generally speaking, they were asked for up to twice as many nominees as they would have representatives on the Board, with the exception of the universities.
The central institutions and the colleges of education were asked to agree that their representatives should be chosen from among their principals. Most of the bodies have now replied and when the remainder reply my right hon. Friend will be in a position to make his selection from the names put forward and we hope that the Board can be constituted and will meet for the first time in April.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
On what principle were the universities not asked to conform to the practice of nominating twice as many names as their seats on the Board?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
There are to be eight members for the universities—I do not count the Entrance Board. They will represent five universities—in time, I hope, six universities. The seats will be allocated on both a geographical and a faculty basis. Obviously one university will have to have less than the others and they will take turns for this.
§ Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)
Why should the principle be different for the universities? There seems to be no valid reason.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
The reason was that it was agreed with the university principals that they would together submit eight names giving reasonable coverage, both geographically and of faculties, and that this would be done by agreement between them, recognising that they would not get two representatives each.
§ Mr. Lawson
But this is the very thing we are objecting to. The universities are demanding and receiving for themselves virtually complete independence and now this independence is to be extended into the ordinary State education because they will be able to appoint the people who will represent them on the Board. That is an absurd position. If the Secretary of State is to appoint he 1496 must have a selection and the same principle should apply to the universities as to the others. I hope that the hon. Lady will take this back and think again.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
The Secretary of State will have a selection because, as I have said, the names that will be submitted to him will be listed to give proper representation to the faculties and also adequate geographical coverage. My right hon. Friend will have a selection to choose from.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I shall not give way again. It is clear that the Board will be a highly expert and experienced body covering a wide range of interests in education. It is expected that the county and city nominees will also include directors of education. The colleges of education and central institutions which have so far replied have all stated that they would wish their representation to be from college principals. I agree that the membership of the Board will be heavily weighted on the side of professional educationists, but it will also include non-educational representation from local authorities to ensure that local authority financial interests are looked after.
I well remember that we spent a large part of our debate in Committee on the subject of the composition of the Board. The difference between what I indicated at that time, which was roughly about 32 members, and what we have now, which is about 38 members, is that we have increased the local authority representation by four and that of the teachers' associations by two, making for these two bodies six and 12 members respectively. Today we have had the same debate between those who feel that, as this is a body designed to undertake these examinations, it should be weighted educationally, and those who feel that the representation should be broader.
The hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) said that he would like more representatives from the local authority associations. We have increased them by four and I think that that is about the right proportion. For those who are concerned that there is not enough representation from the teachers, we 1497 have increased that number by two. As soon as the Secretary of State has decided the membership, the individuals concerned will be notified to serve on the Board, on which they will be regarded as individual appointments by the Secretary of State and not delegates from their respective associations. The Board will then be formally constituted and a public announcement made to this effect.
Various hon. Members have asked about the term of office. This has not yet been finally decided, but I indicated in Committee, and we are still of the same opinion, that it is expected that the terms of office will normally be three years in the first instance, while that of the chairman will be four years. The Regulations provide for re-appointment, but the Secretary of State's intention is that there should be a fairly regular turnover of Board members so that experience of the Board's work will be widely dispersed in Scottish educational circles and the Board itself will always be drawing on fresh educational experience. For instance, it is probable that the representation from the colleges of education and the central institutions will go in turn to the principals of at least the larger establishments. In order to avoid a break in membership, such as would happen if all the first members were appointed for three years, some of them will probably be appointed for the first time for four years.
The next Regulation in which many hon. Members have naturally been interested has been Regulation 9. The part which interested hon. Members most was that concerned with the other committees. The Board will obviously want to appoint for instance, a general purposes committee and an examination committee and may also wish to appoint special committees from time to time to deal with domestic affairs, such as staff and accommodation, or particular matters on which the Secretary of State asks for advice. It may wish to co-opt to those advisory or examination committees individuals with special knowledge or experience.
I now turn to the sub-committees and the subject panels. The Regulations do not spell out everything in detail, because it is for the Board, which is responsible, to decide how it is to work, 1498 but we hope that responsibility for overseeing the examination arrangements generally will be delegated to an examination committee, but that for each subject or group of subjects a sub-committee or subject panel will be responsible. The subject panels, of which there may obviously be quite a number, perhaps about 20, would consist of teachers and others with knowledge and experience of these subjects. Each subcommittee or panel would normally include a member or members of the Board interested in the subject concerned, but the majority of the panel would probably be specialists—teachers, or lecturers with the right qualifications—co-opted to the panel only and not members either of the Examination Committee or of the Board itself.
It may happen from time to time that the Board does not include a member with knowledge of, or interests in, a particular subject, and it may not wish to appoint to the panel concerned a member without relevant knowledge. That is why the Regulations enable the Board to appoint sub-committees or subject panels which do not include Board members. It has been done for that specific reason. Of course, it is entirely for the Board itself to decide whether, ant in what circumstances, to make use of this provision.
The panels will be responsible for the nomination of examiners, the drafting of question papers, and other matters concerned with examinations in their respective subjects. They will consider comments on question papers, they will advise on changes in syllabuses, and they will be concerned with the development generally of their particular subjects.
A number of hon. Members asked about the financial arrangements. It is difficult to assess exactly the present cost of the examination because it is shared among several Departments—the S.E.D., the Stationery Office, the Ministry of Public Building and Works—and part of it is concealed in S.E.D. salaries, but it is about £160,000. The best estimate that we can make of the Board's expenditure is that it will be about £200,000 in the first year it conducts the examination. There will therefore be an increase in cost to public funds of about £40,000 in the first year.
1499 The whole of the Board's expenditure up to May, 1965—which is, of course, the beginning of the local authority financial year 1965–66—will be met by the Exchequer through grants from the S.E.D. and none of this cost will fall on the rates. After that the Department will continue to make a small grant to the Board not exceeding £5,000 a year in respect of its advisory services, but the remainder of the Board's expenditure will be met by contributions from local authorities, probably in proportion to their school population, but this has yet to be settled.
But that does not mean what I think the hon. Member for Kilmarnock thought that it meant, or said that it would mean. It does not mean that local authority expenditure will be increased in 1965–66 because of their commitments to the Board, since the total amount of general grant to be distributed in 1965–66 will be increased by a sum equal to the estimated expenditure of the Board in that year. In other words, the authorities' contributions will be repaid 100 per cent. in Exchequer grant. In subsequent years the Exchequer will continue to pay the authorities a sum equal to the Board's expenditure in its first year, and any further increase will be met by the authorities and will be recognised expenditure for general grant in the usual way.
The hon. Member for Maryhill, and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, were particularly interested in the provision under regulation 11(3) concerning overdrafts. The Board will get contributions from local education authorities. These payments may not exactly coincide with the Board's outgoings, and the Board therefore may be in the red for short periods. That is the reason for the provision relating to the overdraft.
The hon. Member for Maryhill, and the hon. Member for Dundee, East asked me about the employment of officials, and exactly how many were in the present Education Department. At present 17 office staff are employed full-time on examination work. In addition, up to 100 temporary staff are taken on for varying periods between January and October. On the professional side, 50 1500 inspectors—nearly half the total of our inspectorate—are employed part-time on the preparation of syllabuses, question papers, and so on, In addition, about 2,000 examiners are employed in marking, of whom about 80 per cent. are practising teachers, the remainder being lecturers and other suitably qualified people.
The Board will appoint its own staff, which will doubtless include experienced educationists in senior posts, but the precise form of its staff structure will be for the Board. It will no doubt engage other professional staff to draft question papers. One of the great points about it will be that it will in time release the 50 inspectors to do the work which the Department originally wanted them to do. The inspectors will naturally do everything they can to help in the first months of the new venture, but as the Board gets into its stride we hope that the inspectors will be free to carry out their very important duties.
The hon. Member for Maryhill asked whether the Board will decide to introduce an A level examination. The answer is, "No". The Secretary of State will decide whether or not to do this, but he will obviously seek the Board's advice, because that is one of its functions.
The Board promises great things for Scottish education. I believe that by bringing together all those who are represented on the Board, and those who will be working closely with them on the subject panels we shall in fact be bringing together all those who are interested in education in Scotland, and in the type of examinations to be set and the curricula which should prepare our children for those examinations.
Therefore, in commending these Regulations to the House, I would point out that I very much agree with the hon. Member for Dundee, East that they may well represent a very important mark in Scottish education.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I had no intention of intervening in the debate, but I have been prompted to do so by the hon. Lady's remarks about the membership of the Board, especially in reference to the universities. She was 1501 rather cagey on this point. I still fail to see why universities should be treated differently from other interested bodies in the matter of putting forward names to the Secretary of State. I cannot see why other bodies are required to put forward twice the number of names required, in order that the Secretary of State shall make a selection for membership of the Board, while universities simply have to put forward the names of people to go straight on to the Board.
The hon. Lady said that we should have a fair representation, geographically, in accordance with departments, and so on, but she did not answer my question. I should like to know why the universities forward the names of eight people, who then go straight on to the Board. I was interested in this point because she was later at pains to point out that having once been appointed to the Board by the Secretary of State members will not be delegates from the bodies they represent, but will be responsible to the right hon. Gentleman. We accept that. It is what we thought that they should be, but the procedure adopted for the universities makes them representative of the universities, and I cannot understand why the universities should be placed in this privileged position. There is nothing in the Regulations to prevent the Minister from putting the universities on the same footing as other educational organisations and institutions.
We want more than eight nominations from the universities. If necessary, we should have 16 or 12, but more than eight. We want the Secretary of State to select the membership of the board and not the universities. I do not know how they are responsible to us. The procedure is wrong and I protest vigorously at the treatment given to universities. Why should they be treated differently from colleges of education or central institutions? Why should they be treated more favourably with regard to numbers? Parts of the debate which I have heard seemed to indicate that we wanted to get away from the educational curriculum of the universities. But the composition of the board would prevent that from happening.
What is to happen in respect of the members referred to in Regulation No. 6(2,b). The number there ought to be 1502 larger, and if what is desired by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) is to be brought about, it can be done only in that way. In spite of the enormous university expansion which is expected in the next few years, most children will go into industry without having attended a university or similar institution, and so the point made by my hon. Friend was a sound one. We need to forge new links in this sphere and break away from the traditional canalisation of education along the lines adopted in the past.
I do not pretend to be an expert on these matters. Unlike Scottish Members on the benches opposite I happen to have been educated in England—but then I am an Englishman. From my experience it seems to me that the weighting is in the wrong direction. I was surprised that the hon. Lady did not consult the Scottish Schoolmasters' Association. It seems to me a case of pique because the association won its case against the Secretary of State.
Now the right hon. Gentleman seems to be getting his own back. Is not this childish? How childish can this Government get? What Government would stoop to this sort of pettiness which one would expect from—well, certain types of people. This is quite disgusting. No Government worth their salt would stoop to this kind of pettiness because they were displeased at having been taken to court and defeated. What a Government! No wonder they are making no impression on the electorate. If the electorate knew that they were guilty of this sort of thing—dear, dear! The noble Lady should have seen to it that her Government did better than this.
I am not trying to be in any way derogatory to the chairman of the Board. I have no doubt that he is a most distinguished man and one who has given good service, but I wonder if it is right to appoint a retired person to this position. We are looking to the future. Society is changing and our educational system is changing. Children in our society want to move in line with these changes. The chairman needs to be someone who is forward-looking and who believes in the future. People who retire do not think like this. They are apt to think in terms of the past and how well they did and how unfortunate 1503 it is if a young person wants to change those things.
I wonder if we should not find someone with an attitude of mind more in tune with what younger people are thinking and trying to create. Appointing retired people to these positions happens too frequently. I have no intention of being disrespectful to the person concerned, but we ought to think in rather different terms. Perhaps it is expecting too much of a Tory Government to think in such terms, but I am sure that the people would like to see Parliament acting in this manner.
If we carry this Prayer tonight, what happens to the chairman of the Board? What happens to the Board? These Regulations came into operation on 10th January. What happens if we decide that they should not have come into operation then? Are we to say to the chairman of the Board and all those who have been consulted, "We are sorry, but we shall have to introduce a new Statutory Instrument"? Of course, by that time there will be a General Election.
The Government have acted quite shockingly about this matter and with their customary ineptitude. They print a Statutory Instrument and have to reprint it. They bring it in on the same day and as Parliament is not sitting that day they decide that it will come into operation on another day, and they find that Parliament is not sitting on that day. Why are the Government afraid of the House of Commons? Why are they afraid of letting their activities obtain a little limelight? Why do they always try to hide away and do things by backstairs methods? It is shocking the way they introduce these things and keep their fingers crossed in the hope that the Opposition will not notice.
Surely by this time the Government should have learned that if there is one way of making sure there will be a debate in the House of Commons it is to act in this way. With my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), for Motherwell, for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan), and others around me, surely the Government do not think that they can get away with something like 1504 this. To think that would be to show optimism of a remarkable degree—the same kind of optimism that makes them think they may still win the next General Election.
I am disappointed by the noble Lady's reply, particularly about membership. I ask her quite seriously to consider the position of the universities, because the way is still open for the Government to tell the universities that what is wanted are not eight nominees, but a dozen, or even 16.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)
The Regulations say that the members of this Board shall be appointed by the Secretary of State, but in connection with the university representation the noble Lady simply says that these members will be appointed by the universities. I do not see why that should apply to the universities when it does not apply to the other representatives. The universities are not even contributing, as the local authorities are, to the financing of the Board. I do not want to make any attack on the Scottish universities, because that does not arise on this point, but I deplore the rather delicate way in which the Government seem always to handle universities, even in circumstances like this where the Government ostensibly take full power unto themselves.
I do not see why we should be so excessively careful not to offend the universities in any of our dealings with them. I cannot understand why Governments continually adopt this attitude when, in one way or another, through public funds we provide for the vast majority of university expenditure. Governments not only say that we must not in any way interfere with the academic freedom of the universities, but also seem to say that we must not be seen to be interfering in any way at all with the universities' complete independence. In such a case as this, that is quite absurd.
As has been said, the noble Lady was at pains to point out that the various representatives on the Board will not be delegates from their original constituent bodies but will be independent appointees of the Secretary of State. I should have thought it inimical to that 1505 principle to allow universities to appoint their own nominees. I see no reason for that, and I imagine that there is no reason wily the Secretary of State cannot change his mind and ask the universities to give him a list from which he can choose.
Obviously, one wants to consult the universities, just as one has consulted the other representative bodies, and one wants to ask them to take account of geographical location and the different faculty interests, but there should be some discretion left to the Secretary of State after all that has been done. I am extremely disappointed that the Secretary of State should have gone about it in the way described. It seems a very inauspicious start to the relationship between the Board and the universities, and it is a matter that gives a number of us a great deal of concern.
I have no very strong views about the actual numbers on the Board—that is a matter for judgrnent—but the universities are certainly not under-represented, and one does not want this Board to pay undue attention to what will still be a minority, although, fortunately, a growing minority, of children who will go to universities, to the neglect of the others who will never have the benefit of a university education. It is a pity that the Government have taken this line.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) on the question of the chairmanship. It is always distasteful to make this kind of comment, because it can so easily be interpreted as some kind of criticism of the person who has been chosen. As most of us know, Sir David Anderson has had a most distinguished career in education. No one would wish in any way to criticise him personally, but this again is typical of the Government's approach.
It is obviously a delicate operation to appoint a chairman for a body of this kind. The tendency seems to be to make a safe appointment of a distinguished person who is removed from the hurly-burly of educational life, on the ground that this will not offend anybody and there will not be any need to make a choice between different representatives of different educational interests As I have said, one does not 1506 want to criticise the appointment because it can be interepreted as a criticism of the person, but I regret that the Government have done this where the chairmanship is for about four years. I think that Sir David Anderson is 68, which will take him to 72 by the time he finishes his first term of office. I should have preferred it if the Government had had the courage to appoint a younger man even at the risk of offending others who might have been appointed to the Board. The Government, however, have taken the easy way out.
I am not very happy about the provisions in Regulation No. 9(3) which will allow a subject panel to be composed wholly of persons who are not members of the Board. The subject panels, of course, have to be to a large extent expert panels. They are in no sense an amateur kind of body. Personally I deplore amateurism in things of this kind I am glad that we are to have this insertion of real professional expertise, but, on the other hand, the Board is made up of, I think, 37 members and I should not have thought that it would have been impossible to have at least one member from the Board on each subject panel—and I do not know how many panels there will be—even if that member was not someone who had any specialist interest in the subject under consideration. I am afraid that this Regulation may allow a subject panel to go too far in the direction of professional expertise.
It is quite useful for any professional body which will have executive powers—and this is what the panels will have under the main board—to have just one person at last who brings an outside interest to bear. I should certainly feel like that if it were a body representing my own professional interests. I realise that Regulation No. 9(3) is simply permissive and I hope that in practice the Board will not find it necessary to establish subject panels without at least one member of the Board being included on each panel.
I hope that the noble Lady, the Under-Secretary will give us a little more information about that. In particular, I hope that she will make a good deal clearer the proposals of the Secretary of State with regard to university appointments. I thought that the noble Lady rather 1507 dodged that question when she was interrupted in her speech. It is an important point. I hope that we shall have an answer to it.
§ Mr. Hannan
As the noble Lady said, we have had a very good opportunity for debate and close questioning on these Regulations. If I may be permitted to do so, I express to the noble Lady the thanks of this side of the House for the care which she has taken in replying to what we have said. I should say that this is meant as a gesture of courtesy to the noble Lady and is no indication of our acceptance of her case on all points. Incidentally, we have showed her more courtesy than have hon. Members on her own side this evening. However, it is always more pleasant to look at the noble Lady from this side of the House than from that.
In view of the very good debate which we have had, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.